Friday, August 31, 2012

Cut, Cookies, Cape

Oh man, I think there are some interesting things happening! I wish I could share them now but it's not quite the right time. Expect something mid-next week. :)

In the meantime...

I got a haircut!

I was inspired to cut my hair shorter and add side bangs. My inspiration was Mackenzie Mchale from the Newsroom. I like the show a lot despite it's heavy liberal slant- don't even get me started on their pronouncements that the Tea Party is the Taliban, hates poor people, and is anti-women.

But Makenzie! I love her. I love her style. I love her cute-but-not-glamorous-nerdy-girl hair. Out of all the women heroines on TV today, I can relate to Makenzie the most. Intelligent but quirky and sometimes verbally inept. Oh, and her wardrobe is flawless. Pencil skirts and tucked-in flowy blouses. Love!

I made a baywindow seat.

Like how my son arranged his cars?

I bought some 3inch foam and some fabric and created this without a pattern or plan. I just made it up as I went. I even added a velcro closure so that it's removable. It was SO much work and maybe not even worth the 5 hours I spent. But I couldn't find a pre-made cushion with the right shape or dimensions. It turned out ok despite my amateur skills. It does the job. I'm happy.

Ryan ate a baby cookie.

Get in my mouth!

 This isn't working!
Oh, that's better!

He's a pro at sitting now! I can't believe just two weeks ago he wasn't sitting at all. It's like he's been doing it all his life :) He never really got into the whole rolling over thing but he's definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to sitting!

My kids were cute.

And I saw a man wearing a cape.

The End.

P.S. Yes, I AM aware of the suckiness of my camera phone.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back To (Home)school

I was so excited for our first day of school.
Back to routine, back to normal.
Plus I had so many cool new things to share with the kids!
A new school room, new school supplies, new curriculum and ideas!
And I'll admit, it was fun but also eventful and challenging and frustrating!
Thus my "what-not-to-do-in-the-first-week-of-school' post!

1. Do not start your school year by surprising the kids with a new school room.
They will be far more interested in discovering all the new things the room has to offer than getting any work done.

2. Do not except the baby to sleep according to her usual schedule.
Bad idea.
She will instead be bothered by teething or constipation or being excluded from all that serious learning happening downstairs.

3. Do not expect your oldest to enjoy something new and challenging.
Rather be prepared for some sighs and whines and perhaps even a very stinky attitude.

4. Finally, do not assume that you yourself will not be struck by some nasty virus that causes an awful headache and quadruples your need for sleep.

Oh the woes of an amateur homeschooling mom!
But it wasn't all bad!
Here are some of the highlights of the week so far!

Piper LOVES her Grapevine bible studies!
This works so well for her!
Each day she draws a picture of the lesson.

Taitum is so enthusiastic!
Even putting a new ice cream scoop on the cone for each color she learns causes oodles of excitement!

Piper is flying through her math workbook.
(Its just one of those ones you can buy at Walmart. We are also following the ABC Jesus Loves Me 5 year old curriculum math schedule.)

And this just makes me smile!
Two little girlies working on their math lesson together!

Tait is learning her alphabet with All About Reading Level Pre-1.
Also, that pointer she's using?
Probably the biggest hit out of all the new school stuff I had for them!

Tait is coloring her "Blue Book" from her ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum.
I debated even bothering to print these off since I didn't think she'd care to complete them.
She has surprised me with her excitement in coloring each color book I give her!

AND she is kept nice and busy with this kind of stuff while I work on lessons with Piper! 

Piper is also using the All About Reading Level 1 curriculum.
But I'll save that for a whole other post.
(Ahem, #3...)
But we're making progress which is pretty encouraging considering we've been at it less than a week.

I'll also share our BFIAR row with you in another post, too.

Anyhow, at the end of the day I'm still so happy with the choice we've made.
It's going to be full of challenges and frustrations and hard work.
But the joy of getting to learn together, to watch each child grow in so many ways FAR outweighs any difficulties we face!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Odds And Ends

Do you ever look at your kid, really REALLY look at him, and think, "Wow, you're MY KID."

The amazement of reproduction and the creation of life is never too far away when you have a baby. In those first couple of weeks after bringing a baby home from the hospital, it's with you all the time. It's easy to get swept away by the insane fact that you just made a person. But then your fresh-faced newborn becomes a chubby-thighed infant who becomes a boyish toddler.

Most days you subconsciously accept the fact that he's yours that he came from you. But every once in a while, the amazement of life catches you again and you just stop and stare. And the harder that you stare at your kid, the more he looks like a stranger. He's not the tiny baby you brought home from the hospital. He's become a person with preferences and feelings and thoughts. And when you stop to think about it, really REALLY think, it blows your mind. You CREATED this person. He came from you. He lived within you.


And now, he's running around in his underwear, launching throw pillows across the living room, and chanting "I have a BIG TOOT!"

Really? THAT came from me?

In other news:

I'm been insanely busy getting ready for Jacob's 4th birthday party. After work this week, I've already done the following: sewn a slip cover for our baywindow cushion (I'm never doing that again!), sewn spider-shaped bean bags for a Spiderman themed bean bag toss, AND paper mached a spider-shaped pinata. Phew. Tired.

To go off on another tangent....

If I have to read ONE MORE politically-charged Facebook status, I'll probably throw my computer against something. Seriously, I'm so sick of it. I don't mind if people want to say good things about their favorite candidate but it really bugs me when people belittle the candidate or views of people on the other side. Facebook has gotten as negative as all the shit-slinging Presidential campaing ads. I'm. Up. To. Here.

I think the biggest problem is that among my FB friends, my views are a minority. I'm a fiscally conservative, socially liberal libertarian. I vote both party lines. I voted for Bush in 04. I voted for Obama in 08. I think I am more open minded than most and I can respect and understand the views that I don't agree with. But I have to put up with everyone's negativity all day long.

I recognize political rhetoric when I see it, on EITHER side. And when it comes to Facebook, I've noticed one thing that is always true. The negativity is ALWAYS the result of someone not understanding the other side or labeling them incorrectly in an attempt to make themselves feel self-righteous. And the negativity always brings hypocrisy. No one is flawless. No political party is perfect. Get over it. There is no evil here. There are just hopeful people trying to do good. We need to rid ourselves of the negativity and stop being so close-minded.

Ugh. Ok. I'm getting off my soap box now.

Now, to end on a happier note.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Question Corner

Some more ridiculous questions brought to you by the inquisitive toddler (who is only going to be a toddler for six more days!):

"Do cars get mad?

"When daddy takes off his shirt is he like sexy?"

"When zombies get old, do they die?"

"Mommy, when you were a baby did I hold you?"

"Is my hot dog really a dog?"


Jacob: "Mommy, why is that car so long?"

Me: "That's called a limo. It's for people who are really, really long."


Jacob: "Do trees sleep?"

Me: "No."

Jacob: "Why?"


Wagon Photos and Weekend Whoas

We took Kal out yesterday to get a cute picture for his birthday invitation.  It was a successful venture!  Seriously, it was hard to choose just two pictures for the invitation since we ended up with all these darling shots.  Tyler was great and played with the little cowboys while I finished up the design last night.  
Thanks to Granny and Cristen everything went smoothly.  Honestly, this precious overall wearing - chubby baby really makes my heart smile.
Plus we managed to have a lot of fun at the park...
 Granny & Kallahan.  
We quickly learned that when this baby has rocks in hand's reach...
eeekkk, this baby has rocks in his mouth!!!
Cristin & Kallahan

Weekend Whoas  (in pictures!)
 Kallahan took 2 out world!!  
He is still very wobbly and soon face planted...ouch.
On Saturday, Kal & I enjoyed a nice 3 mile jog/walk with Laura & Briggan... with an extra perk of stopping by a couple early morning garage sales. We might have to make this a habit! Then we went to Dodge City and Tyler purchased us a newused lawn mower!
 These boys are crazy and so much fun :)
Tonight we have Keeler's meet & greet at preschool.  He has the same sweet teacher this year but we will get to meet all the kids that will be in his class.  
Have a great week!!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Some Things Are Better Left A Fantasy

Before I can get to the meat of this post, I have to quickly share that I set up Ryan's jump-up today. I give it an A+. Easy to assemble. Easy to install. And easy to use!
I was born in Alaska and I have very few memories of the place: the design of my parent's kitchen floor, mooses eating the crabapples out of our front yard, my pre-school indoor playgym, and my jump-up. I was probably only 3 but I remember the jump-up vividly. My dad set it up in our garage and I jumped to my hearts content. Funny how our brains pick and choose what memories to carry on into our adulthood.
Anyway, the jump-up was a hit. For both kids.

Then we hit up the last day of our county fair. I pretty much abhor three things in life: (1) long lines, (2) crowds, and (3) un-openable children's toys. Luckily, I didn't run into any of these things today! The crowds and lines at the fair were very manageable. I guess everyone else was fair-ed out or something.

At the entrance of the fair, some people were giving camel rides. Imagining the experience to be adventurous, romantic, and thrilling, I've been wanting to ride a camel for quite some time. Since my husband (who usually tries to talk me out of my "ridiculous" ideas) stayed home, there was absolutely nothing standing between me and my happy, humped friend. So Jacob and I went for a camel ride.

"Ride" is a very generous word. It was slow, lumpy, and guided. Not at all like the exotic adventure in my dreams. I think it would have been better if the whole thing had stayed a fantasy.

 The terrain was as exotic as the ride: concrete sprinkled with hay.

After that whole let down, we fed our camel a carrot of thanks. Well, I fed the camel. Jacob had a carrot fumble:

Camel: "Noooooooooooooo!"
Carrot: "I'm freeeeeeeeeeee!"

Thank goodness the other rides were more exciting. This is the first year that I've taken Jacob to the fair where he could actually go on the rides. Two years ago, that measuring stick was our worst enemy. Yay for passing the 40 inch mark!

I took Jacob and my nephew up the Super Slide. The plan was to all go down holding hands. But I guess Jacob wasn't quite ready. My nephew and I went down in perfect formation. We got to the bottom and saw Jacob stuck at the top, twisted up in his mat and crying frantically for help.

Not one to waste 3 event tickets, I was about to run back up to the top and situate him properly when he suddenly lost grip and fell down the slide. He had all the spectators laughing hysterically.

By the time he got to the bottom, he was laughing along with the rest of us.

Halfway through the trip, Jacob began to get crabby and refused to pose for pictures. In fact, he went out of his way to make sure the back of his head was turned to me everytime I took the camera out. I quickly outsmarted him:

Me: "Jacob, please look at me for the picture."
Jacob: "NO!"
Me: "Oh my gosh! I have a huge candy bar!"

That trick worked more times than you would have imagined. (Really, Jacob? You didn't catch on the first three times?)

My favorite part of the fair was seeing all the guys dressed in their best cowboy boots and hats. Second best was the fair food of course! My sister and I spent more time fighting over the proper pronunciation of the word "gyro" than we spent eating said gyro. Either way you say it, it was delicious.
I ordered a cheeseburger for Jacob. I was shocked to discover that the $5 burger was as thin as a pancake! Absolutely most ridiculous burger patty I've ever seen! And, of course, within one minute of setting it in front of Jacob, it was all over the floor of the food court. I picked that thing right up, blew the dirt off, and set it right back on his plate, with no objection from the King of Crabby. When you have kids, you have to learn to let go of your germophobias. Especially when you are paying good money for food. To me, being afriad of germs is being afriad of tiny invisible specks that are completely harmless. At the very worst, what, you catch a cold? You're more likely to get e-coli from lettuce at the grocery store!
My parenting advice for the week: let your kids eat dirt and fall down slides. Life is messy. Embrace it.
We finished up our trip by petting the farm animals. If our house had come with more yard, I would totally get the kids involved in 4-H. That would be my excuse for purchasing a pygmy goat. I'm sure owning a goat is far more awesome than riding a camel.  
Watch out for grumpy beef:

Friday, August 24, 2012

So Let's Set The World On Fire

I was sitting at my desk at work today when I got an unusual call. It was a student. She needed to interview a lawyer for one of her college classes. 

She started out by asking me some basic questions, like "what type of law do you practice?" and "where did you go to school?" Then came deeper questions.

"What lead to you becoming a lawyer?"

I gave the cop-out answer. I told her I had graduated from undergraduate school with double majors in Political Science and International Studies. But after they handed me my diploma, I had no idea what was next. I mean what exactly are you qualified to do with a Political Science degree? So, at the last minute, I joined my fellow Poli Sci majors and took the LSAT. My dad was a lawyer so I already had some admiration for the profession. I decided to let my LSAT score decide my fate for me. In the end, I got a pretty good score so I went to lawschool.

After I gave my answer, I turned the tables and asked about her career goals. With a cheerful, optimistic voice, she told me she didn't really know what she wanted to do. But she wanted to dedicate her life to helping people, especially people in other countries. In short, she wanted to help save the world.

Her positivity and noble goals nearly bowled me over. I paused for a moment to reflect. What she said hit me. It hit me really hard. Eight years ago, I was her. I was EXACTLY her. Eight years ago, before I chose the path that led me to lawschool, I was desperate to serve.  I wanted to save orphans in India. I wanted to oversee U.S. foreign policy in countries around the globe. Administer foreign assistance in third world countries. I wanted to be a part of the United Nations. I wanted to give myself to the world and to all of her children. I wanted a career of sacrifice and love and diplomacy.

But I just didn't know how to get there.

After college, I had plenty of internship experience to help me land an entry level job somewhere. I had interned for the Governor's Office of Illinois (yup, that would have been the always-controversial Governor Blagojevich!). I interned for a documentary film producer. I worked for a small nonprofit arts theater. I volunteered at a children's cancer hospital. But none of that really led me anywhere that I truly wanted to be.

So I applied for a program to teach english in Japan. I had studied Japanese for four years in highschool. Everyone told me I was a shoe-in. I put tons of effort into my application. I prepped for my interview for HOURS. I was determined to get the job. But....I didn't. And I was devastated.

I had to think of a new plan quickly. I followed my Poli Sci friends to the LSAT and, somehow, stumbled my way into lawschool. When I entered lawschool, I still had my heart set on a career of service. I was certain a J.D. after my name would provide PLENTY of opportunities to go abroad and serve the world through some fancy organization or other. I was crestfallen to discover that those types of job were ultra-competative. My average lawschool grades would not put me in reach of those goals anytime soon.

Then life happened. I met my husband. We got married. We started a family. We gained a mortgage. We had car and health insurance payments. I left lawschool with a huge student loan debt. Debt that will likely stick around for the next 1.5 decades. Somewhere in all that life, I lost sight of my original goals. I landed an awesome summer internship at a litigation firm. I followed that internship into a job and that job has now become my career.

My ambitious, adventure-seeking, philanthropic self has morphed into a mediocre, boring everyday person. A person who dresses business casual and sits at a computer typing documents all day. Routine has replaced spontaneity. Bills have replaced travel expenditures. Contentedness has replaced my abhorrence for boring everyday life. And a family tethering me home has replaced my heart's desire to roam.

Sure, if I really wanted to, I could probably dust off those old dreams and follow them to the ends of the earth. But I'm a different person now. I've accepted the wonder and beauty of a routine life. I live like millions of other boring people across this country. And you know what? I'm even OK with it.

Sometimes I wonder if I am a sell-out. I mean, I practice personal injury law instead of feeding orphans or saving people from AIDs. Don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy my work. It's just not the fancy, set-the-world-on-fire job I always dreamed about.

BUT, you know what? At the end of the day, I don't care much about what I long as I get to come home to this:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Ballgame

Dear people without kids. Please do me a favor. Get in your car and go somewhere. Go anywhere. Just pick yourself up, on the slightest whim, and go.

First, appreciate the fact that it didn't take you 20 minutes to pack a diaper bag, feed a baby, and load kids in the car. Then as you drive, please relish the fact that there is not an unhappy screaming baby in your backseat. Soak in the luxury of not having a toddler incessantly screeching in your ear, "What does disturbed mean," "What does frustrated mean," "Why don't trees sleep?"  Finally, arrive at your destination without having to first unbuckle two children, throw a diaper bag over your shoulder, and lift the world's heaviest carseat from your vehicle.

Please. Just soak it in. Every moment. So that I can live vicariously through you! Ok. Now that that's done, we can move on.

So, my husband won tickets to a local minor leage baseball game. Because we can never find enough ways to torture ourselves, we decided to take the kids along with us.

The first obstacle was my 45 minute drive to the game where we were meeting my husband. As I predicted, Ryan began crying the second we hit the open freeway. After listening to him scream for 20 minutes, I did what any rational person would do. I drove the car WHILE feeding him a bottle. I was in the front seat. He was in the seat directly BEHIND me. Kids, don't try this at home:

After 10 minutes, my arm felt like it was going to fall off. Amazingly, I managed to stay in my lane and go the speed limit the entire time. I honestly think I deserved some kind of gold nedal for that performance.

We arrived at the game just in time for the first inning. Seats behind home plate! Perfect view... of the backside of the baseball players, that is!

Unfortunaly, I only watched about 7 fragmented minutes of the entire game. The rest of the time I was chasing Jacob, who quickly became surrounded by a gaggle of new toddler friends, or feeding Ryan, who was very content to just sit on my lap and smile at the people around us.

We got into the spirit of the game and dressed Jacob accordingly.

Then we found the team mascot. I learned the hard way that the Rainier Raindeer does not like to be called a moose. If you ask me, I think someone's jockey straps are on a little tight.

When I wasn't chasing Jacob, I was escorting him to the bathroom. Either he likes to annoy me or his bladder is the size of a kidney bean. Ryan and I hung out in the bathroom while we waited for Jake to do his business.

Hanging out.
We left the game at the top of the ninth but not before Jacob's new girlfriends all gave him big, wet goodbye smooches. It was a shame we were leaving early, but also very necessary. Truth: a kid who misses his bedtime the night before is worse than discovering a turd in your coffee. After you've already taken a sip!