Friday, November 30, 2012

On Sounding Manly, Lie Training, And Laughing At Sick Pets

Apparently, my voice is too high for a lawyer's voice. I've been acutely and self-consciously aware of this fact since a partner at a prior firm mentioned this to me over a year ago. He then proceeded to give me tips on how to sound more authoritative. He quipped that an older female client doesn't sound very assured when her lawyer sounds young and high-pitchy.

His point was well made. I took it to heart. Ever since then, I've struggled to sound more authoritative. It's really hard to talk in a deeper voice on purpose and to not sound like a raspy serial killer.

Although I'm trying, I haven't quite mastered the skill. Occassionally, when I'm not thinking about it or when I'm caught off guard, I will resort to my high-pitched "phone" voice. The former partner who originally mentioned this whole thing to me over a year ago is now my current boss. And today, after a phone conferece with another attorney, he mentioned it to me again.

It's frustrating. He's 100% right. I need to sound more like a lawyer. And unfortunately, that means sounding more masculine. The frustrating thing is that it's simply not easy to change your voice and still sound natural. I need more practice or just some better tips/training.

Not only does my boss think I need to sound more authoritative, he thinks I need training on how to "lie." I have to admit that when it comes to lying, I suck. I almost always crack a huge suspicious grin when pressed. I tend to think this is a QUALITY in my character, not a deficit. But my boss decided that my "lie" training should start today. (p.s., my boss is actually a funny and awesome guy, this isn't as bad as it sounds and is mostly just in good fun). When we called up a colleague about meeting for happy hour, my boss challenged me to give the receptionist a pretent name.

"Hello, how may I direct your call."'
"Yes. Can I speak to Sarah please."
"Who may I ask is calling?"
".....Brenda."
"Wait, is this CP?"
"....giggle, giggle. YES!"

Not only did I fail at lying, but the sweet old lady receptionist sounded pretty annoyed by what she called my "prank." I immediately called her back to apologize. I was going to explain about my "lie training." Because THAT sounds completely normal, right? But as soon as I said I was sorry, she told me she had to go and promptly hung up. Now I feel HORRIBLE! I'm pretty sure it's horrific karma to eff with a receptionist. I'm sure that's in a rule book somewhere.

See. Lying is bad. It gets you in trouble. Lawyers do not need help tarnishing the reputation of their profession. I think from now on, I will stick to simply "molding the facts to fit my theory of the case."

After work, we eventually did meet up with our former coworkers for happy hour. We all used to work at the same firm about two years ago. Some of us left. Some of us left and returned. Some of us are still there. I love this group. They are my favorite people ever. If I could build my ideal law firm with all my favorite people to work with, they would be there. We're loud. We're rowdy. We're inappropriate. We're such a diverse group of individual that from the outside, we do not look like we would all be friends. It's amazing how a workplace can bring all different types of people together and give us something in common. I love it.

During happy hour I drank just one beer and that was enough to get me in trouble. By the end of happy hour, I was in an uncontrollable giggling rage. (Talk about trying to sound more authoritative!). Everything seemed funny to me and I couldn't stop laughing. Unfortunately, this is when someone started to talk about their dog having cancer. My beer was still in full force and I giggled through the whole sad story. I am SO going to hell. (On the positive: hell is more likely to have beer).

I arrived home late but with just enough time to cuddle my baby and hang out with my big kid before  bed. I'm so looking forward to spending an entire weekend with them. Even when they are cranky and whinny. Happy hours put everything into a good perspective. I guess that's why they are called "happy" hours.

Christmas Light Parade

 
Last night was our town’s annual Christmas Light Parade.  It’s always a bittersweet week for me.  At work we work our tails off all week to get everything together.  This year I only ended up staying one late night but a few of our employees really put in some hours…but was it worth it?  Heck yes!!  This year our awesome float took first place!  
I am so proud of our parade committee.  One of the committee guys, Adam (aka: Clark Griswold), has to be one of the most Christmas light proficient / perfectionist out there.  Up until the last minute he is ensuring that every light is in place and working properly.  His ideas are amazing and so is his dedication.  We are so lucky to have him!
Granny dropped Keeler off at work with me on Wednesday night while we worked on the float.  We all ate pizza together and then got busy working.  Keeler and Adam’s son rode toys around the shop.  On the way home he mentioned what a fun time he had.  I am so fortunate that I can include him and that he enjoys it…how long will this last? 

Last night the little cowboys and Granny also came and rode on the float with us down the parade procession.  Kallahan got to sit next to Santa! 
 
Keeler rode on the back on a kid’s tractor.  He was behind Brittany as she sang Christmas music.  Have I ever mentioned that Keeler think Brittney is pretty special? ;) He was on cloud nine!  
I walked beside the float and handed out candy.  I love to watch the children on the street light up while watching the lights and Santa.  It's such a magical night.  I feel like I'm living in a Hallmark movie for a few minutes, ha!  Keeler saw several of his friends from school and even spotted his teacher.  He was so excited.  The only downfall was he said it went by too quickly. 
After the parade we went home.  Daddy picked up dinner, Granny stayed to eat and we had a great family night.  I just love the holidays.  This weekend we actually don’t have anything planned.  I am overly excited about that! The Family Channel’s 25 Day of Christmas starts so I foresee a lot of lounging in our pajamas ‘til noon, sipping on hot chocolate and present wrapping in our future.     


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Flexibility Matters

I wanted to write a post about how things are going with my special work arrangements. Working 2 days a week from "home" (actually, my mom's home while she watches the kids), has been totally amazing.

I was very skeptical at first. In lawschool, every one of my attempts to study at home failed. I simply could not muster up the self discipline to hunker down and focus on school. Same thing with my first attorney job. But so far, whether I'm working on my dining room table or in my old room at my parent's house, I've been super productive. It helps to have scary court-deadlines looming over your head. Or maybe it's the fact that I still feel like I need to prove to my new employers that I can make this working from home thing work.

The days I work from "home," I get an extra hour of sleep. After work, I get an extra hour of play time with the kids. (I even took them to the YMCA yesterday after work!). When I get to my mom's, I lock myself in my old room where I am free from interruption by partners, paralegals, phone calls, etc. There's no one to entice me away from my desk with an invitation to lunch or coffee. I can take five minute breaks to raid my mom's pantry and give the kids a hug.

Mentally, just knowing that I don't have to make the 2.5 hour one way trek into Seattle everyday, has made all the difference in my attitude. I'm not stuck in traffic. I don't have to deal with extremely slow walkers clogging up the sidewalks. I don't have mini-panic attacks about missing my bus or ferry. If I'm half an hour late, no one knows (I just work half an hour later). It's so much easier to manage an unhumane commute when you are only doing it every other day. 

Plus, I get to work in my yoga pants! Or jeans. Or shorts. Or heck, my underwear if I wanted! From a wardrobe perspective, my job is perfect. Half the week I get to play dress-up and wear all my favorite work wardrobe pieces and the other half of the week I get to work in my casual clothes that otherwise get very little use.

And double bonus: I still love my job. Like, to a sickening degree of job-love. It's challenging. It's interesting. I get to write a lot of motions and briefs. I occassionally get to attend hearings and depositions ("occassionally" is the perfect frequency for these types of tasks). I get to help strategize on litigation efforts. I get just the perfect mixture of self-management/autonomy and guidance. Probably the most exciting thing of all... I get my picture on the firm website! Hey, it's the little things right?

So, the take-away? A little flexibility from an employer as far as letting you work from home or work slightly-reduced hourse can make a huge difference. Without the flexibility, the job I absolutely love would be unsustainable and implausible. I still don't know how I got so lucky!

Playing with a deck, half-stacked.

I’m feeling pulled to write again.  It’s cathartic.  Healing.  And, allows me to say what goes through my mind that I’d probably verbalize to a stranger in line at the grocery store, because that’s how I roll, but there’s something even more freeing in documenting it.  

So, let’s talk about it.  Rip the old Band-Aid off.  Get it out in the open. 

B and I have been trying to get pregnant for a year and a half.  Obviously, unsuccessfully.  It’s still just us, and that spirited little guy named Beckham, who we love and adore with all our hearts.  But, MY plan was to add onto our family well before I turned 30.  Which happens in less than a month (gah!).  So, yeah, that’s not happening. 

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In the past year and half, it seems that practically everyone I know – who’s wanted to become pregnant – has.  And, literally, everyone I know who had a baby around the same time I had Beckham has added a second or third child to their families.  Dagger. To. My. Heart.

So…

In January, which seems eons ago at this point, I visited my OBGYN who said the standard, Well, just keep on trying.  You have a kid, so we know the parts are there.  Come back in six months.

I might’ve fibbed a little when May rolled around, we still weren’t pregnant, and I told the lady that picked up the phone that Dr. C told us to book an appointment if we’d made it to that iconic year mark.  It wasn’t a year.  That was the fib.  It was only 11 months.  But I couldn’t wait a month longer. 

Dr. C advised an HSG test, which runs dye through the ol’ fallopian tubes and uterus.  Then, they take an x-ray of your insides.  Hmmmmm, you’re playing with a deck half-stacked.  That’s what he said as I lay there feeling all No freaking way.  I cried.  B was there and gave me hand-squeezes and hugs.  {Playing with a deck half-stacked, for those of you unfamiliar with this medical terminology, means blockages.  No explanation.  Just blocked.}

New plan = Clomid.  I’m thrilled for this stride.  My inner dialogue goes something like this, Now we’re going to get pregnant.  Maybe even twins!  This will be easy!  I’ll get pregnant by July, have a baby in April, and have an extended maternity leave before starting the 2013-2014 school year.  Clomid, clomid, clomid!  I LOVE CLOMID.

Four rounds of Comid later, I was over it.  HOLY HOTFLASHES, I HATE CLOMID. You would’ve thought I was fifty and menopausal the way I flung those sheets off and on throughout the night.   More importantly, we still weren’t pregnant.  

New plan = Fertility specialist with an exciting, expensive plan, known to commonfolk as turkey bastin’ or, when I’m trying to sound smart, Intra-uterine Insemination (IUI).  This meant 5 days of a stronger fertility drug, Femara, followed by a shot of Ovidril.  My new inner dialogue goes something like this, THE ANSWER TO OUR PRAYERS.  This will work!  How can it not?!  We are timing everything, taking drugs, and seeing a FERTILITY SPECIALIST.  This is soooooooo going to work!!!!! 

Except it didn’t. 

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{B and I at our pre-IUI breakfasts.  Not as lucky as I would’ve liked, but dang those pancakes were good!}

The doctor said it usually takes 3-5 times for success.  A friend tried NINE times with no success.  We tried it twice.  And, both times, I morphed into some combination of a lunatic and a peeonastickaholic.  The hormones were maddening and I’d take anywhere from 3-10 tests each round, despite the fact they were all negative.  I’m telling you, I was Miss Crazy Pants. 

So, last month, we decided we were done.  Done with the drugs.  Done with the planning and scheduling.  Done with the doctor’s appointments.  Done with the negative tests.  Done with the two-week-wait.  DUN-ZO. 

It was all very matter-of-fact.  We quit trying to get pregnant

I felt a peace about it all.  Glad to part with all the uncertainty that comes with trying to conceive. 

And, God.  There’s Him.  Who reveals His plan in His time.  And, we’re going to travel that path now. 

I’m going to give up control.  Which is difficult for me.  I like to know what’s going to happen to me, to feel that I had a big part in its making.  But, the bottom line, is that I’ve never had a part in that plan.  I think it’s a good thing, though :)

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Advent: God With Us

Slowly, we are easing into the Christmas season around here.
I am so enjoying the preparation.
The girls are bubbling with excitement.
We are doing a little of this and a little of that to decorate.
And, amazingly, our days are slowing down.
With a baby in the midst of some pretty intense teething, I wouldn't say its peaceful but it is joyful and happy in our home.

We do Advent with the kids .
We are going to start our Advent on Dec. 1st.
It's probably my favorite thing about Christmas.
Taking time to focus on what this whole season is about.
To share the wonder of it all with our children.
To stop and be amazed and filled with gratitude once again.

Matt found an awesome band whose music we've been playing quite consistently lately -
Better yet - you can listen to all their music free online!
It's all Christmas music.
And it's good.
Really, really good.
Anyhow, there is a poem by Isaac Wimberly on one of their albums.
It is fantastic.
This is what Christmas is all about.
This is why that baby in the manger is worth remembering year after year.
This is why we magnify Jesus and not contrived substitutes.
This is what we celebrate!






GOD WITH US
Poem by Isaac Wimberley
The people had read of this rescue that was coming through the bloodline of Abraham
They had seen where Micah proclaimed about a ruler to be born in Bethlehem
Daniel prophesy about the restoration of Jerusalem
Isaiah’s cry about the Son of God coming to them
So for them—it was anticipation
This groaning was growing, generation after generation
Knowing He was holy, no matter what the situation
But they longed for Him
They yearned for Him
They waited for Him on the edge of their seat
On the edge of where excitement and containment meet
They waited
Like a child watches out the window for their father to return from work—they waited
Like a groom stares at the double doors at the back of the church—they waited
And in their waiting, they had hope
Hope that was fully pledged to a God they had not seen
To a God who had promised a King
A King who would reign over the enemy
Over Satan’s tyranny
They waited
So it was
Centuries of expectations, with various combinations of differing schools of thought
Some people expecting a political king who would rise to the throne through the wars that he fought
While others expecting a priest who would restore peace through the penetration of the Pharisee’s fa├žade
Yet a baby—100% human, 100% God
So the Word became flesh and was here to dwell among us
In His fullness, grace upon grace, Jesus
Through Him and for Him, all things were created
And in Him all things are sustained
God had made Himself known for the glory of His name
And this child would one day rise as King
But it would not be by the sword or an insurgent regime
It would be by His life
A life that would revolutionize everything the world knew
He would endure temptation and persecution, all while staying true
Humbly healing the broken, the sick and hurting too
Ministering reconciliation, turning the old to new
A life that would be the very definition of what life really costs
Saying—if you desire life, then your current one must be lost
And He would portray that with His own life as His Father would pour out and exhaust
And Jesus would be obedient to the point of death, even death upon the cross
So just 33 years after the day that He laid swaddled in the hay
He hung on a tree suffocating, dying in our place
Absorbing wrath that is rightly ours, but we could never bear the weight
So He took that punishment and he put it in the grave
And He died
And when I say that He died, what I mean is that He died
No breath, noheartbeat, no sign of life
God is a God of justice, and the penalty for our sin equals death
That’s what Christ did on that cross
Then… On the third day, in accordance with scriptures, He was raised from the grave
And when I say that He was raised, what I mean is that He was raised
Lungs breathing, heart pumping, blood pulsing through His veins
The things that He promised were true
He is the risen Son of God, offering life to me and you
Turning our mourning into dancing
Our weeping into laughing
Our sadness into joy
By His mercy, we are called His own
By His grace, we will never be left alone
By His love, He is preparing our home
By His blood, we can sing before His throne
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow
So now we, as His bride, are the ones waiting
Like the saints that came before, we’re anticipating
He has shown us that this world is fading
And He has caused our desire to be for Him
So church, stay ready
Keep your heart focused and your eyes steady
Worship Him freely, never forgetting
His great love for you
Immanuel, God with us

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How To Take A Professional Headshot

The key is to simply, be yourself.
 
Portrait of a working mom:
 
Playful.
 


Driven to the brink of insanity.
 


And occassionally, yes, even professional.
 



Tweet Tweet

I FINALLY got a Twitter account. For the longest time, I was certain it was just a boring version of Facebook. I'm going to give it a try though.

And I want to follow you! Who has a Twitter .... handle? Is that what they call it?

I'm @LawAssociette. It's a work in progress.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Truth

Every evening, I'm very excited to arrive home and walk through the door. The way it plays out in my head, it goes something like this: my older son runs to me and wraps his arms around my neck with a big grin. My younger son reaches his arms out for me and cuddles happily for a moment before returning to play with his toys on the floor. I whip up a quick meal while the kids entertain themselves, and then we sit down and eat together as a family as we talk about our day. Finally, we play a board game or do a quick puzzle before it's time for bed.

That's pretty much mom heaven for a weekday night.

Unfortunately, when I actually DO walk excitedly through the door, with expectations soaring high, I more often than not encounter a very different scene. One that often makes me want to step right back out the door.

First, Jacob is almost always on the couch, overly tired, and whinning nonstop. "I want a snack! I don't want dinner. I'm starving. No, I don't like chicken. I want to watch TV. Ryan is looking at me!"  He repeats this as he thrashes violently on the couch. Obviously, he did not have a nap.

Then Ryan takes one look at me, smiles with a dimply, wide grin, and reaches out for me. Finally! Some love! Something is going as imagined! But the second I pick him up, he turns into one of those miniature cling-on koala bear toys.

He won't let go. The second I put him down to change out of work clothes or make dinner, or go to the bathroom, he starts to whimper and cry. He's clearly tired as well and needs to go to bed. But I JUST walked in the door from my 2+ hour commute (which includes 2.5 miles of walkng and an hour long ferry ride). I'm exhausted. I'm freezing. I'm starving. And I'm freaking wearing panty hose!

So with a chubby human koala clutching to me and my four-year old having a major meltdown on the couch that would seriously put a pampered, indulgent celeb to shame, I throw together a pathetic dinner of pancakes with ONE HAND because I'm feeling uninspired and don't have any groceries.

Then, with both kids still crying and with pancake batter dripping from my free hand all over the floor, and over the cat, and over my nice dry-clean-only skirt, and my panty hose, I fall to the floor and just sit there for a moment. Oh look, there are run-away Cheerios under my oven. Oh look, the cat's food dish has somehow cracked in half, scattering pieces of fish-smelling catfood all over the floor. Oh look, Ryan just put a mysterious crumb in his mouth.

I sit in a pile of pancake batter and with Ryan in my lap, I scootch my butt over to my emergency candy drawer. I pull out a handful of minaiture Reese's, fling the wrappers half-heartedly in the general direction of the garbage can, and decidedly feast on a dinner of chocolate and processed peanut butter. In that moment, I almost wish some of my single, kidless friends could see me. If only for their pity. Or the entertainment of seeing the horror on their faces. Then...maybe THEN they will finally understand why it's not so easy to just show up at an impromptu invitation for happy hour.

Right in that moment, I'm thinking, man, I really deserve a "participation award" for surviving life today.

Our Thanksgiving

On Wednesday we headed out a bit earlier than planned for our Thanksgiving break because my cousin, Ashley’s (that is married to Tyler’s best friend) baby girl had been admitted to the hospital for a seizure.  We were so worried for this sweet baby girl.  After having a second seizure while in the hospital, they started a lot of testing.   When we arrived we dropped the little cowboys off with Tyler’s mom and rushed to the hospital.  The baby was heavily medicated and her parents were so tired and worried.  All we could do was pray for answers and for baby Brynlee to get well.  We stayed at my parents’ house with heavy hearts knowing that this poor family would be stuck in the hospital on Thanksgiving.  Luckily Ashley’s parents and sister came to town to help them at the hospital.
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Months ago my sister’s in-laws decided to participate in a Turkey Trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning.  My sister invited me and of course I was game.  I also knew my brother-in-law, Russell, would probably run so I asked him to go with us.  On Thanksgiving morning Russell, my dad and I headed out to meet my sister and her in-laws at the race.  Unfortunately, there were over 900 runners at the park so we weren't able to meet up with my sister until after the race.  It was a great time!  This was my dad’s (age 65) first 5k race.  He loved it and says he is ready to start training for the next one.  I had my best 5k time ever!  I ran right at 28 minutes.  The only bad thing is my right knee has been throbbing since the race so I haven’t ran since.  I plan to run this evening since I have rested for several days.
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After the race, we went back to my parents and helped my mom finish up the Thanksgiving meal.  My in-laws joined us for Thanksgiving as well as Ashley’s dad and sister.  It felt like a true Thanksgiving with the merge of families.  We all prayed before the meal and said an extra special prayer regarding Brynlee.  After a fabulous meal we received the best Thanksgiving news…  Brynlee was being discharged.  We got to see her shortly before they went home.  The doctors still are puzzled with what caused the seizures but are hopeful is was a fluke incident. 
 
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Since black Friday shopping started earlier everywhere my mom and I started shopping at 6 o’clock on Thursday.  We met up with my sister and her in-laws and were able to shop until about 8am Friday morning.  I got all my Christmas shopping completed except for my in-laws.  I also had to pick up a lot of items for work so it was a successful venture.  I am not a fan of the new Black FridayThursday.  I wish that we could keep Thanksgiving about family and go back to the early Friday morning sales.  However, I have heard the earlier time structure was a success so I better get used to it.  I'm thinking next year we get the door-busters completed, go home and sleep and then go back out in the morning.  This all night business is hard on a girl!
 Over the weekend we were able to spend time with family and friends.  It was a nice long visit.  We headed back on Sunday afternoon with a pickup full of shopping bags, tired boys and some candy.  Baby Kal is differently our candy man.  Give this boy a sucker and he is entertained for at least 30 minutes, not screaming (which is a true blessing) but covered from head to toe in sticky slobber.  It’s about the give and take...if he’s happy – we’ll take it!   
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Undeservedly blessed.

 

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I love the holidays.  The rush, the pick-up in everyone’s step.  Like there’s places to be and people to see.  Even on a  Monday night.  Maybe it’s because I love the hustle so much that I impose the excitement on everyone else.  I just imagine everyone to be out Christmas shopping, off to visit with family and friends, or grabbing an Egg Nog Latte from Starbucks.  Not returning from work in rush hour traffic, which is the more logical conclusion on the last Monday in November.

There’s something about that hustle motivates me.  I want to light holiday-scented candles, put up our tree, cut out felt banners that spell Merry Christmas and string them up across a wall.  I want to bake cookies and have friends over and sit by a fire.  I want to write.  An odd feeling after a six month hiatus. 

The hustle makes me want to slow down, too.  To take time and make it stretch over more days than it’s supposed to.  To have extended breaks with nothing scheduled but family time.  To relish in the now and cherish the precious moments I have with my boys.  

Introspectively, the value of the holidays has increased substantially in the past few years for me. There was a time, about two years ago, that I prayed for the peace I feel about life right now.  That this is where I’m supposed to be.  Here, in this moment, loving every second of my life and praising God for it. 

Undeservedly blessed

A Desert Detour

A few weekends ago Piper ever so sweetly asked if we could learn about the desert.
I'm not quite sure where the request came from but obviously she had heard something, somewhere about deserts and it had piqued her interest.
It was the first time she has ever made a special request in terms of her learning and thankfully our schedule is flexible enough that I could accommodate her!
Sunday night I searched around for some age appropriate material and finally settled on The Desert Habitat Unit at Teachers Pay Teachers.
It was well worth the few dollars I paid!

We spent time learning about the different animals and plants that are found in the desert and how they survive.




We talked about what mammals, reptiles, plants and arachnids are.
Piper then did a related activity sheet in which she had to catergorize the animals and plants shown.
This was followed with graphing her findings.



The girls learned many new vocabulary words.


We also learned some interesting facts about desert mice and iguanas.
We went on to compare the two animals and used a Venn diagram to record our findings.


Piper made a video asking what everyone's favorite desert animal is.
I posted it on Facebook and waited for people to vote!


We then took the data obtained from our 'questionaire' and filled in a graph!


Iguana won!
Piper loved this whole activity!


The girls also learned about cacti.
They made this paper craft and labeled it appropriately.
On the bottom, I recorded Piper's answer to "A cactus survives in the desert because..."


Our kitchen was full of desert info by the end of the week! 


We took a trip to a local greenhouse to observe some cacti.
Of course, we had to purchase the prettiest one!!



We did an experiment related to cacti, too.
We took 4 pieces of paper towel.
We wet each of them.
The first we laid flat, the second we rolled up, the third we scrunched up in a ball and the fourth we rolled and wrapped with wax paper.


Here Piper is making her predictions of what she thinks will happen.
She thought the one scrunched up in a ball would stay wet.


The next day we checked out what had happened.
ALL the paper towel was dry except the one wrapped in wax paper.
It was still soaking wet.


This provided a great opportunity to talk about the purpose of the cactus's waxy skin.


Finally, we did some sand art.
The girls enjoyed this so much!


There were so many cute little looks of concentration as they carefully worked at layering the sand in their bottles.



And they were so proud of the final products!




That was our desert week!
Time well spent even if it was a bit spontaneous!