Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crafting??? What's that?!

I have not been artsy with the boys in several weeks. Oh I put out the crayons and markers and paints on a daily basis, but I've been uninspired to craft with them, or to come up with some amazing new project to keep us all occupied and creative. Maybe it is because Jackson is in school now and brings home an armload of crafts every other day. Or maybe it is because I'm planning my first ever garage sale and don't have time to craft. Or maybe it is because the mess is too much for me. Or maybe it is because I have discovered Facebook, and now during their naps I am in Facebook land instead of craft planning. Yeah, that seems about right.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Surprise!


Last weekend our neighbor, Tyler, had a surprise party for his wife (and my awesome friend) Lisa's 31st birthday (that young thing!). Even though this is a blurry picture, I just love the look of utter shock on her face. That's Lisa's dad in the background - he hosted the event and provided the ruse to get Lisa over to his house. Notice Allie's crying eyes - the "surprise!" was just a bit too much for her - poor baby! Allie is one of my favorite subjects to photograph, besides my own boys of course! She's such a beauty.

It was such a fun evening celebrating with Lisa and her family!! Happy birthday friend. (sorry this blog post is so delayed)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nature Walk

We are so fortunate to live with a gorgeous walking trail just behind our house. On a clear summer day you can see the Rocky Mountains for miles and miles. The boys and I (and Shawn when he's not working) have treked many miles on this path. We really enjoy collecting bits of nature on our walks - flowers, rocks, leaves, the occasional piece of garbage for the trash. I love seeing how excited the boys get discovering something new. Our favorite nature walk is a "rainbow walk." We search for some piece of nature that corresponds to each color of the rainbow. Yellow and purple tend to be the easiest because of the gorgeous wildflowers that bloom along the way. Red and orange can be found in rocks and berries that are scattered along the path. Green is found in every blade of grass or wild growing weed. Blue is by far the most difficult because we can't pick up and carry a piece of the Colorado sky with us on our walks. But we sure can enjoy it while we are in it!








Friday, September 26, 2008

This Guy...


I never blog enough about my hubby, but today, at last, is my much overdue praise of all that is Shawn...

This guy knocked me off my feet from the beginning. This guy changes just as many diapers as I do. This guy loves reading stories to our boys. This guy sends me off to yoga Saturday mornings with a kiss. This guy makes me a double espresso, even if he is late for work. This guy supports our family, 100%. This guy was made to be a daddy. This guy works hard. This guy plays hard - with our boys. This guy is always trying to improve himself, and our life together. This guy falls asleep in front of the TV. This guy may only cook a few times a year, but when he does, watch out Emeril... This guy is kind. And funny. And generous. This guy always leaves the toilet seat down. Always. This guy bought me a fancy-pants-camera so I could follow my passion. This guy gave me the world in our two sons. This guy is tidy. This guy loves dumb, "dude" movies. This guy doesn't read books. But he does read magazines. This guy will play trains for hours on end. This guy was raised right. This guy is the greatest Dad in the world, hands down. This guy loves our boys. This guy loves me. And I love this guy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

sweet

Lisa and I took the kids to the zoo today. I love going to the zoo with the boys - they are so into the...food. the carousel ride. the ice-cream. the mini zoo trucks. Oh yeah, and the animals. I wish there was a place you could just walk around a circle with your kids, buy them junk food, and then take them on a carousel ride. Because honestly, they aren't that into the animals. Unless you count the squirrels and the peacocks that roam freely through the zoo grounds. They are far more into the ancillary events surrounding a trip to the zoo. But it is the experience, right? It is all about the experience.

The day was fun, and as we were getting ready to leave we promised the kids a treat for good (ok, decent) behavior during our trip. Jackson (James) and his buddy Jackson (George) both hemmed and hawed over which treat to choose. Ice-cream seemed to be on the top of their lists. But then JG mentioned cotton candy. And slurpees. And dipp'n dots. And the choices were almost too much to handle. Never mind that JJ really hasn't ever tasted cotton candy or a slurpee, he was waffling between those two. He finally settled on cotton candy for he and Holden to share. Not my ideal choice, but it was his choice to make so I went with it.

I paid for his fluff and my diet soda (practically dipping into the boys college fun to pay for an afternoon at the zoo). I gave Holden a small amount, and he cautiously brought it to his mouth, tasted a bite, and was sticky and hooked in seconds. Jackson, on the other hand, was a little more startled by the fluffy texture. He began to cry, refusing to eat the sticky treat. He had changed his mind. But it was too late. I wasn't buying anything else. For the first time in his life I begged my son to taste the sugar, eat the sugar, love the sugar! He refused.

He stood his ground. I stood mine. So with tears (his) we walked towards the exit. Sniffling and whining, he noticed his brother inhaling the treat. So he relented to trying it. And he did. And he loved it. What kid wouldn't? I told him that when I was a kid cotton candy was the highlight of our annual trip to the Southplains fair. That OP (my Dad) would buy each of us girls a bag of cotton candy as we were leaving the fairgrounds. I would munch a small bite, saving the rest to savor over the next week. I adored cotton candy. And so it seems, did my boys.

As we reached the parking lot, however, Jackson gave me his bag of cotton back claiming it was too sweet (what? is this my child? too sweet? what is that??), and settled for the pretzels in my purse for his snack. Holden had his fill as well and dug into a Quaker Oats Breakfast Cookie. So of course, being the good, waste-free mama that I am, I devoured the entire rest of the bag on our long drive home, thinking fondly of our yearly trip to the Southplains fair. Sweet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vintage


1998. Seattle Center's musical fountain. Mom was visiting and took this picture. I miss this town.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The thing about the suburbs is....

...random, any day, costume parties can break out at the most unexpected moments...











Don't ask me how all this started. About three years ago Shawn and I gave up our "city lives" and moved to the suburbs. The dreaded suburbs. And you know what? We found out it suited us just fine. Nowhere in the city can the neighborhood kids spontaneously gather in the front yard for a costume show down. Nowhere in the city could this many kids under the age of 5 live on the same block (did I mention that there are at least another dozen kids on the block who are not at this particular spontaneous gathering?). Nowhere in the city could I sit my hiney down in soft, green grass and take it all in with my trusty Pentax. Nope, nowhere could this happen except in the 'burbs. These here suburbs are suiting me just fine. Who knew!?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Daddy

Jackson told me this morning that he can't wait to be a daddy. He's 4. I hope he has a few more years until he reaches that point. But I did ask him who the mommy would be. He paused, lost in thought. "You can be the mommy!" he replied. I reminded him that I already am a mommy, so he would need to find a new girl to be his mommy. Thinking again, he replied "Well you and Daddy could build me a new house, and I could live in it, and you could too, and then you could be the mommy and I would be the daddy!" He obviously has the whole plan worked out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Go Rams!

We're off to the boys' first CSU football game this weekend. This is J around 3 months. He's always been a big Rams fan!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vintage Wednesday

1999. Woah. The year Shawn and I met. Here we are with T & D, and her mom Janet, at a restaurant in Seattle. We were freshly and newly in love...ahhh!! We owe it all to T.
Oh yeah, and happy birthday yesterday D!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This Kid





Oh yeah, this kid...this kid loves to jump, and explore, and learn, and understand. He asks 1000 questions every day. I don't know the answer to 500 of them. This kid has a smile that forgives a 100 sins. And a grin that gives away his every misstep. This kid gives me yellow weeds and begs that I put them in my hair -- which I do. He thinks they are diamonds -- and they are. This kid is often hungry. Even though I feed him 6 times a day. This kid eats tomatoes and carrots and apples. He also eats chocolate and cheese and fruit snacks. This kid wears size 12 shoes and knows his left from his right -- most of the time. This kid just learned how to chew bubble gum. This kid has a laugh that would melt your heart, and a cry that will drive you to tears. This kid can take a fall, but is afraid of flies. This kid loves bunnies and flowers and ladybugs. He also loves monster trucks, squishing bugs, and dirt. This kid does not like his hands to get too messy. This kid does not like going to bed, but will sleep like a bear almost as soon as his head hits the pillow. This kid is my son. My son. And I love him. To the moon and back.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Little Matisse!

Holden is such an artist. He has adored coloring and painting and drawing since a very young age. I love watching him work. Such concentration. Such determination. I love this kid.

A sly twinkle in his eye - a must for every artist!

Foreground...painted pots by Holden and Jackson
Background...artist at work
Getting a little closer to his masterpiece


...And finally...Fall is coming!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where the Sky Ends

The other day, as we were driving to school, Jackson asked me, "Mommy, where does the sky end?" Profound, eh? And as I often am, I was dumbstruck because I did not know how to answer that question. How do you explain the whole of the Universe to a four year old? I asked him where he thought it ended. He said "maybe the ocean?" Good enough answer for me. A quite profound answer for a quite profound query from an even more profound boy.

I really must find a way to be better prepared for these types of questions in the future.


Jackson's rainbow from school

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Coffee for Tots

Alright, so my kids are NOT drinking coffee...yet (it is only a matter of time considering their caffeine addicted parents)...however, we did make "Coffee Dough" this week!

Ingredients:
  • one cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup cooled, leftover coffee grounds (I collected the grounds for a few days worth of coffee in a plastic container in the fridge)
  • 1/2 cup water or leftover, cooled coffee (I drank all the coffee so we used water)
Combine all the ingredients together into a dough. You may need to add extra flour if it is too wet. I sprinkled flour generously on our work surface as well - in this case it was a large, paper Pottery Barn bag that I cut open and laid across my kitchen table. Use a rolling pin or your fingers to flatten the dough. The boys used cookie cutters to make shapes. We also rolled the dough to make beads. Use a toothpick to mold a hole in the bead to string.

The results: Well it is 36 hours later and the dough still hasn't completely hardened. I keep turning the cut out shapes over to see if they will dry faster. They have so far dried into a cool texture and color though. I think when they are all dried and hardened I'll let the boys paint their creations as well. I like the pumpkin shapes and will probably hang them on a ribbon by our front door as a Halloween decoration. Very cute!

Best of all, though, the boys were kept busy (always a plus!), had lots of fun, and got their fingers nice and messy!





Friday, September 12, 2008

It's A Small World



We had a fantastic time with Sarah and Dave during their (far too brief!) visit. They were completely happy to "hang" with us so it was nice to just chat and laugh and be. Sarah came along with me to a yoga class at the gym yesterday, which rocked. David gave me some insight on AdobeLightroom. They both were sweet and kind to our boys (even when Mr J was not at his best). And Shawn and I got to enjoy real grown up time with real grown ups! It was absolutely fascinating listening to their travel tales, and honestly I had a million and one questions about all the little details of their journey. Like how did they purify their water? (UV ray water purification stick!) Did they get sick? (Sarah did twice, David thanked his "British constitution" for his health) What were the children like around the world? (the stories of children begging would breakyour heart, but the child that followed them for a three hour hike to sell them a pillowcase sticks in my head and my heart). And so much more. I envy the freedom they experienced. But it made me incredibly grateful for the warm roof over our heads and the gorgeous children who light up our every day. Certainly we live very different lives, but being able to catch up with old friends as if no time has passed is truly priceless.

Thank you guys, for making the stop in our little, sweet town. We loved having you in our home, and hope we can see you again very soon. Enjoy the last 20 days of your journey, and kiss the Seattle skyline for us when you get home. xox

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vintage Wednesday

For today's vintage Wednesday photo, I present our friends Sarah and David -- taken back in 2002 at our annual Christmas brunch in Seattle. These two crazy kids were the very first friends I made in Seattle. Had David not taken Sarah to a concert at the Gorge, then I never would have filled in as her temp at Sequent Computer Systems, and then I would have had a very different experience my first two years in Seattle. I made most of my incredible friends via that job, so I owe them a lot. A lot! Plus we had some crazy fun times back in the day!

I post this picture today because Sarah and David have just returned from almost two years spent abroad, traveling the world. Yes, two years! And they are now driving from NY to WA to return to their home in Seattle. Which they haven't seen in two years. Have I mentioned that? In the process they are stopping by to stay with us for awhile, and check out life in the 'burbs. They arrive this evening and we are so excited to see them and hear all about their adventures. Jackson is excited to read his current favorite book - "No David, No!" - to Dave. He thinks that is a riot.

Welcome home you guys!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Dream Come True

Four years ago, when Jackson was still a tiny infant, it was a dream of mine to have a child (and future children) who slept through the night on a consistent basis. It was a simple dream, but one I pined for desperately. Our first born was not a sleeper. He loved being awake and was a very aware child. I recall Shawn and I going to our birth class reunion with all the other parents we'd learned deep breathing with. All the babies were about a month old, including ours. Shawn and I were stunned to see a dozen or so babies all sleeping soundly or at the very least cuddling quietly in their parents arms. Not ours. Our son, all of one month of age, was jumping in our arms. He would push his legs against our laps and bounce up and down. The class all politely giggled at his antics, but I'm sure inside they were all thanking their stars for the calm in their arms. Our pals from class, Gary and Laurie, who's daughter shares a birthday with Jackson, still laugh about our bouncing newborn.

And so, our child did not sleep. He did not sleep for many, many months. All our friends' children were sleeping 9-12 hours a night. Ours averaged 3 hours at a time. Shawn and I walked around like zombies those first 9-10 months. We read the books. We talked to our pediatrician. We swaddled and white noised and rocked - you name it we tried it. We even attended an infant sleep seminar looking for answers. Finally we gave into the CIO (cry it out) routine and thankfully it worked within 3 nights. It was a difficult, long three nights ,but it worked. Our son was sleeping a full nights sleep for the first time ever, and he seemed happier, as did we. But he still woke every morning at 5:30am for the day. We struggled with this for over a year, and by the age of 18 months his awake time stretched to 6-6:30 am... and that is where he stands today at the age of 4. Even if he happens to go to bed later than norm (which is very rare in its own right), he is up at 6:30 in the morning, like an alarm clock.

And the sleeping through the night thing has wavered over the years as well. He began waking in the middle of the night again after we moved to Colorado. And again when he was two and moved to a big boy bed (because he discovered he could climb out of the crib). And again around the age of three he woke because of a profound fear of bees in his room (there were none). So to say we have struggled with his sleep is an understatement. But at last, knock wood and throw salt over my shoulder, he is sleeping soundly through the night. He rarely wakes in the middle of the night anymore, and if he does, he goes quickly back to sleep. I do believe with all my heart that our strict sleep training after that initial bout with CIO is what got us to this place. If we had not stuck with it he would still be a "poor" sleeper and we would still be zombies.

Now as for Holden, he has been a fairly good sleeper since birth. His stay in the hospital at 3 months for RSV was the only big hiccup we faced. I will say he was not sleeping through the night until about a year, but his waking was usually just once, and that was to nurse. Once I weaned he was always zonked out until morning. I feel very lucky and fortunate for this. And he's a superb napper as well. I should give Jackson some credit on that point -- he was a great napper until he gave them up about a year ago. Occasionally he'll doze off during quiet time, but that is rare.

But the point of my post is that I feel (again knock wood and toss the salt) that we have reached a good place with regards to our children's sleep. Sleep is so important -- and by that I mean for us! Shawn and I need our zzz's - any parent does. It is exhausting work keeping up with kiddos on a constant basis, and I treasure my sleep immensely. I am hoping our biggest hurdles with regards to sleep are past us. I still wince when 6:30 rolls around on a Saturday morning and there's a bright eyed boy staring down at me asking for cereal. But I know that each night when I tip toe in to kiss both boys a final good night, I'm doubtful to hear from them until morning. And that makes me enjoy my sleep even more.

Four years ago I was certain we would never have a solid nights sleep again. Now I sleep quite soundly most nights. Like a baby, some might say. Some dreams do come true...at least until Holden figures out climbing out of his crib.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Swirly Crayons



I checked out a cool book on artsy concoctions you can make with your kids. I forgot all about making crayon cubes with broken crayons! Peel the paper from broken crayons, fill mini muffin tins about 1/2 full with broken crayon pieces, and melt in a 250 d oven for about 5 minutes. Gently swirl the colors together with a toothpick for a rainbow affect. Pop out of muffin tin when hardened. Wala - create!