Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday in Colorado

8:11 am - fighting over the Wii begins
8:32 am - coffee brewing
9:02 am - search online for fun things to do around Denver for kids because I can't find my book entitled the same
9:27 am - shower
10:32 am - everyone dressed, hair and teeth brushed, shoes tied, car packed
10:33 am - realize we don't have directions to where we are heading
10:40 am - Prius is on the road
11:22 am - pee break, lunch at a random Burger King in a desolate area of Denver. Jackson insisting he's eaten here before with Daddy, and demanding we sit in the booth they sat in on their previous visit (note: we have never been to this Burger King before and in all likelihood will never frequent it again)
11:23 am - change seats
11:23 am - change seats again, eat
11:40 am - back on the road
11:41 am - argument over Burger King crowns featuring "Twilight" characters. (I have no idea who is who and neither does anyone in the car)
12:05 pm - arrive at "WOW! Children's Museum" in Lafayette, Colorado. Park right in front. Score
12:08 pm - totally "WOW'd" by said museum. Awesomeness. Truly awesome.
2:20 pm - tell kids we have 5 minutes left until we leave the museum
2:42 pm - leave museum with tears and tantrum from eldest child
3:20 pm - cookies, cocoa and lattes on Pearl Street in Boulder
4:02 pm - back on the road, heading for home, thankful that there is a stew cooking in the crock pot, awaiting our return home, and "UP!" playing on the portable DVD. Long conversation between Mommy and Daddy with barely a peep from the back seat
5:15 pm - home.
5:16 pm - Wii is turned on and Lego Star Wars reigns supreme... but noticeably less fighting


Good day in Colorado. With my family.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

When it's cold out...

...we do a lot of this...


I'm ready for spring.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"new" shoes

We should all have a goal of learning something new every day. Thanks to the wonderful world of the blogosphere, I do learn something new just about every day. My girlfriends will tell you that 60% of my conversations start by saying "I read on a blog the other day...". My husband will fill in my sentences (such as he did this morning): "Yes, I know, you learned it from a blog." And he's right. I did and I do. It is an amazing world of knowledge out there. Now I'm not using blogs to self diagnose any diseases or wire my house, that would be crazy. But a little tip here and there has given me shinier wood work, crisply painted trim, oversized dominoes in my basement game room, and a plethora of other wondrous ideas and tips. I {heart} the blogosphere.

Wanna know my latest tip? Shoe stretching with ice! I have a wonderful pair of Danskos that I've owned for about 3 years now. I love them. I love Danskos. They are the most comfortable shoes in the world. And they give me an extra two inches in height which also rocks. I have a brown pair and a black pair (and a 2nd pair of oooooolllllllddddd brown ones that I use when I'm working outside - 'cause you know, I do that so often). Anyway, the black ones, the left foot only, have always been a tad to tight. They are handmade shoes, and leather, so there are slight discrepancies in each and every shoe. And if I were smart I would have returned them when I got them but I thought they would stretch enough. They haven't. So that left foot always aches just a tad if I wear them too long. It is why I usually reach for my brown ones.

Yesterday I had had enough. I Googled "shoe stretching" and found I could buy an expensive shoe stretcher or take them to a cobbler to be stretched. These are 3 year old shoes. They are in great condition, but I'm not going to pay to stretch them at this juncture. I'll have new ones in another year or so I'm sure. But I also found a way to stretch them out with ice! Yes, for reals! Check it out:

And you know what?? It worked! I half filled a ziplock baggie with water, sealed it and put it in the shoe. I then put the shoe in the freezer overnight. Much to my husband's dismay when he opened the freezer this morning to grab some waffles. I let the ice thaw for about half an hour and then dried the shoe out, slipped it on my foot, and ta-da! - it worked! The shoe is stretched just enough for true comfort. $100 shoes saved! Who'd a thunk it?!?!

I {heart} the blogosphere!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

evidence

Jackson had a friend over after school today to play for a few hours. I'm always happy to have his friends over. It is a goal of mine to make our house the "cool house" for the kids to hang out at. Why? Because I'm a glutton for punishment? NO! Because then I always know where my sons are. Clever me thinks! And so, evidence of most play dates gets strewn about. I didn't even photograph the playroom. That's where the real nightmare begins.
(from top left)
  1. carefully placed home decor now askew - check!
  2. art supplies and snacks in various locations throughout the house - check!
  3. little brother banished to the office to play on the computer - check!
  4. snow boots (it hasn't snowed in 3 weeks) and black cape left strewn on the floor - check!
  5. tunnel leading precariously down the stairs into the basement, landing on overstuffed bean bags and couch cushions - check!
  6. spilled toy box
  7. Darth Vader mask - check
  8. happy boys watching a movie with popcorn for all of 18 minutes before coming up with a new scheme to play - check!
(click to enlarge)


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

the big apple in '10

Shawn and I are trying to get ourselves to NYC. We've been trying to get there for 10 years now. It's a silly thing. Because we've gone other places including London, Disneyland, and Vegas, and a few other smaller destinations in between, and yet we can't get our butts to New York City. We aren't "vacationers" really. We go on a few random trips here and there but we don't plan big vacations all that often. It is a big step for us to just start even thinking about going on a trip of this caliber. I haven't been to New York since 1998. I remember the trip well. I remember having just bought the CUTEST Ann Taylor sandals with at least 2.5 inch heals . I was a saucy single gal in those days. And I traipsed around the city in those blasted shoes until my feet hurt so badly that I just took them off and went barefoot. Yes, in New York City. You see I have several friends, good friends, from college, who live in that fine city (including Adam, my very best friend in college, and Ruth, my"backpack-through-Europe travel buddy) . I've been there half a dozen times in my life. I love it there. It isn't the kind of place I could live - to be honest. Even after 8 years in the city of Seattle, the city of New York is just a wee bit too big, too loud, too dusty for my taste. But I DO love it. It is vibrant and big and loud and dusty - that's its appeal!

But my hubs has never been. And he's always wanted to go. And I've always wanted to go with him. Well, always as long as we've been together which is ten years now. And yet we can't seem to get ourselves there for reasons that escape me. Well, they don't really escape me -- it is expensive to go to New York. There's no denying that. And it means leaving our "babies" - which is hard even though I know they would be in the very capable hands of their grandmothers. And it means Shawn taking time off work. And heck, me taking time off work (though let's be honest, I'm the peanut winner compared to the real bread winner in this family). And now that the kids are older there is school to arrange, and activities, and all the other little things that make up our every day. It is hard to make that commitment.

But last night we decided it was time to make the commitment. We actually looked up hotel rooms on the Internet. It's a start.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

The "babies"

These are all the "babies" from playgroup - each of our last babes to be born. It's an odd feeling to know you are done having babies. I remember Shawn and I deciding for ourselves "yep, let's start a family!" That was 7 years ago. And now here we are, two babes in arms, done with babies and bottles and burp clothes. We are now onto swimming lessons and school trips and Spiderman sweatshirts. But these 3 babies here will, I do believe, be "babied" just a little bit longer simply for the reason that they are each of our last babes.

Holden- hardly a "baby" at 3
Charleigh Jo - just turned two and full of spunk!
Tripp - 1 year old and garnering all the attention due as the littlest tyke in playgroup

Friday, January 22, 2010

Photography News...

I don't mean to be a bragger. But there's an update on my photography website that I just can't resist sharing over here. Mainly because it was such a huge part of my life this past fall. It may be a small accomplishment for a more seasoned photographer, but for a gal just over a year in business it is something I'm very proud of. Take a peek!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Play dates

Did we have play dates as kids? I don't think we called it that. I just remember my first best-friend Erin calling me to see if I could come over and play, and I either hopped on my bike or walked over to her house a block away. No one walked me over there or called to make sure I arrived safely. And I don't even remember if her parents were there or not. We pretty much went down into her basement and stayed down there for a few years. We made up dances and sang rock songs and walked to Eckerd's Drugstore to buy candy and slid down her basement stairs in sleeping bags and built forts and ate bean dip and played hide and seek and danced in the basement some more. We just played, and played hard. Eventually we each found other friends, went to different schools, found different interests, etc. But I remember clearly our years of being the best of friends - we couldn't have been more than 5 or 6 I don't think. Eventually I lost touch with Erin completely. Until Facebook came along and I found out she was living in Lubbock and owned her own business, and that we even overlapped a year living in the same city (Seattle) a few years back. It is fun to find an old friend, and remember how much fun we had when life was so very easy and so very carefree.

I see my son finding this path in life right now. He's just started having independent play dates. He goes to play at a friend's house, or a friend comes to our house, and as a parent, I'm not involved at all except to drive the car, make the snacks and insure that no one is leaping off the loft bed. Pretty easy stuff. The kids just play and have fun and try and ignore that I'm around . Very different than a year or so ago when I still supervised play dates like a hawk for fear someone (ok my someone) would bonk another child in the head.

Just a few weeks ago Jackson informed me that his friend Lanae and he had exchanged numbers and were going to have a play date. Sure I said, no problem. I didn't really expect that he had given her my cell phone number. Sure enough, Saturday rolled around and a call came through for him -- from a girl -- and it was Lanae. And he was invited over for his first official un-mom-supervised play date. And he had a ball. And the following weekend Lanae came to our house to play, sans parents. And yesterday his friend Keenan came over to play after school. It is a whole new world opened up to him! And you know what, it is a whole new world for me, too. I actually worked while he played! A novel idea. And the kids even included Holden, too, who felt especially mature playing with two fun fiver year olds. And the only thing I was needed for was snacks, driving and to stop the jumping off of the loft bed. Which got me thinking - - did Erin's mom know we were sliding down the basement stairs in sleeping bags? I doubt it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Boy oh Boy

It really is a weird phenomenon that I have two boys. I am a very girly-girl. Not that I expected a girl in my life. Well, honestly, I did, because I come from a family where women have only girls pretty much -- I'm one of three girls. My sister has three girls. My mom was one of three girls. The boy thing was way out of left field. And honestly, both times, I wanted boys. I wanted something a little out of the ordinary. Oh boy, did I get it. But it got me thinking. I think God, or the fates, or whatever it is that you believe rules the Universe, gives to us what we are supposed to have in this life. I really do believe this. We are destined for the babies that we have -- whether we give birth to them ourselves or they come to us via another means -- they are our destiny. And my boys are mine.

As a young girl, a young woman I guess, I was pretty much afraid of boys. Boys my own age. From about the age of 10, up until I was about 17, I was deathly afraid of them. That might explain why I didn't have a real boyfriend until I was 16. But I was unsure how to talk to them. Act around them. So I clammed up. I became very shy around the opposite sex. In retrospect this probably came across as my being very stuck up. With apologies, I was just very, very unsure of myself. I'm not certain when that turned around for me. Probably not until I found my husband. But I think part of why I have been graced with two beautiful boys in my life is to make some sort of amends for my shyness as a girl. It also makes me very much want to raise boys who are kind, and sweet, and thoughtful. Who will be good spouses and fathers, should that be the route they take in life.

In having my two boys my world has been rocked. Forget pink and dolls and tea parties -- I know about Star Wars and Spiderman and guns and light sabers (I thought there were called life savers) and all things "boy." There are many skinned knees and burps and farts and other goofy faces, noises and smells. It is a whole new world. But I'm thrilled by it and in awe of it all at the same time. And my shyness is all but gone -- you gotta buck it up with so much testosterone going on in one house. Mama's gotta be heard.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Swimming School Drop Out

I don't like the idea of "letting" my kids quit activities. I feel they should finish out whatever they start. I don't mind if they get bored with something and are ready to try something else, but they have to finish up what they started. However, we are now 3 weeks into round two of swimming for Holden. And he has cried,no sobbed, every single lesson. He hates it. Does NOT want to do it. Sits in the pool and cries big heaving sobs. Finally I have given in and let him quit. I'm bummed about the money going down the drain. I'm bummed because learning to swim is an absolute MUST in my book. But mostly I'm bummed because he was doing so well with his first round of lessons, and I don't know or understand what happened to make him so freaked out all of the sudden. He won't say why. So we'll take a little break. Hopefully he'll continue to watch big brother swim and want to get into it again some time soon. Ho-hum.

Holden in happier swimming times:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vintage


He's 5.75 now - are you kidding me?!?!?


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prayers for Haiti

No words can describe the devastation that land is facing right now. It is heartbreaking, heart wrenching. It is hard to watch the news, but also hard not to. Like when Katrina hit or the Towers fell, it just makes you ache for the loss of life, and the broken lives that are shattered along the way.

The quake in Haiti also reminds me very much of my cousin Sonya, who lost her life in Haiti 19 years ago. She was a missionary over there, working in an orphanage. I remember the pictures she sent back to us all with all the beautiful children, most of whom had lost their parents to AIDS, and many of whom were also suffering from the disease. The poverty would take your breath away. She so selfishly put college aside to serve her Lord and the Haitian children. She passed away, suddenly, in a terrible car accident on the way into Port Au Prince one afternoon - where yesterday's earthquake hit the hardest. It was a horrible loss to our family, her friends, her church, the orphanage where she worked. And I know today that my aunt and uncle, and my cousins, must be thinking even more of Sonya. Of the life she gave to help that small, desperate land. I pray for them, to help ease their hearts, because I know a day cannot pass that Sonya does not cross their minds. She was such a beautiful, sweet girl. We had such good times growing up. And she is so very much missed. And I pray, desperately, for the Haitians. This catastrophe will forever change that land. They were so desperate before, and now...there are just no words.

And I am reminded again (and again, and again) how blessed my life is. How fortunate I am to live where there is such an abundance of everything.

To donate:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crib No More

Big boy changes at our house. I may have to change the name of my blog because there is no longer a "CRIB" in my home!! Holden is now in a big boy bed, complete with 3 pillows (he's very excited about the 3 pillows) and cowboy sheets. Wowsas, how did that happen?? I feel like it was about a week ago that Shawn and I hit the Baby Burlington in Shoreline and picked out our sweet, simple, pine crib for baby-boy#1. I loved it then and I love it now. But it is in pieces in the spare room, waiting for me to list it on Craig's list. Yeah, I'm selling it. I'm not so sentimental that I need to keep the crib around for posterity's sake. I'm not one for clutter if I can help it.

So little man H is sleeping in his awesome new bed - it is sweet and simple and pine, but NOT a crib. It is a big boy bed! I promised him I'd make him a tent canopy since big brother has a loft bed, and he deserves a little something special as well. I'm still working on figuring out how to make that. I've got plans a-brew'n though!

And I should add - he is also diaper free day AND night! So he's in a big boy bed, sans diapers, and he's rock'n it! So proud of him. So in shock that my days of lifting a sweet smelling baby out of a snuggly crib are over. But I totally love snuggling up on Holden's new bed, reading him bedtime stories. It is sweet and simple...and quite magical.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Kicks

This kid loves boots. So much so that he was wearing his snow boots to school every single day, even when there was no snow on the ground. I promised him I'd get him a 2nd pair of boots, something a bit less cumbersome than snow boots. I found these at my favorite store - Ta-jay! So cute. I put them in the middle of his room on the floor and told him to go upstairs when he got home from school. "AWESOME, OH MY GOSH!" I heard from above. Mission accomplished!




Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Office: Sans Pam and Michael

I've never been one for new year's resolutions. I probably could use a few, but I just never got into it. I always know I should drop a few pounds, exercise more, spend less money, be more organized, but I don't always adhere to this. Knowing and doing are two separate things. But for the past 2 weeks I have been on a mission for organization. I feel like a woman possessed. Call it a new year's resolution, or just call it "my house is overflowing with junk!" But the room that needs the most organization by far is my office. It becomes the dumping ground for everything in the house that doesn't have a place. It is where I pay bills, check emails, edit photos, keep paperwork, manage Jackson's school stuff, do my crafts, etc. I'm in here a lot. So I made it my goal this weekend to get the room in shape -- and on the cheap. Not easy!

I managed to get the room organized for less than $100. Not too bad. I bought a new paper shredder on sale for $20 (score!). Our last one died because I neglected to use the special lubricant sheets on it. So I shelled out $9 for those. I also converted my files from letter size folders to legal size folders. I spent $16 for 40 folders. They were half off (score #2)! So that got me started. Then I really wanted to work on my built in book shelf. It is really tall and wide and holds just about anything and everything - cameras, cards, photos, tools, sewing machine and supplies, books, magazines, etc. I wanted to corral everything on the shelves in an organized (and cheap) fashion. I hit Michaels looking for my bargain. I was in sticker shock seeing that the cheapest baskets were running $10 and up, and I needed a dozen of them. NO THANK YOU! Then I saw some awesome mesh-like collapsible boxes on sale for $3.40 each. I emptied their stock out buying 11 of them in black and white (score #3)! I was set!

I spent most of Saturday going through paper work and shredding documents - some of which I'm ashamed to say dated back to the purchase of our first home in Washington is 2002! Crazy! I now have 2 large boxes filled with shreds to recycle. After that I was on to sorting, labeling, organizing, and filing. That took up the rest of Saturday and a good portion of Sunday as well. Thank goodness for my amazingly wonderful husband and Batman Wii to keep the boys busy!

And so, of course, I had to photograph the final results of my hard work. Without further ado...

Before: Sorting paperwork, ready to shred, ready to file
After: Tidy!
Book shelves with a place for everything
Cute, cheap bins!

I covered a plain box with pretty paper and labeled it for Jackson's art projects. Need to get one for Holden, but here's a start...

Files - I have 3 drawers of organized folders now, everything from taxes to warranties to bills, to craft supplies - love it!
Homemade tags - cute and cheap!

ps - my title is in reference to the awesome TV show, The Office

Thursday, January 07, 2010

37

This guy is 37 today. I love him. I mean realllllly love him.
All 37 years of him.
Happy Birthday Schmoop!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Bowl me over

The boys were invited to a bowling birthday party last weekend for a neighbor friend. It was their first time bowling. Awesome. Jackson, as I would have expected, was incredibly serious with the new endeavor. This kid is as competitive as they come, and honestly, a little hard on himself if he doesn't excel. I think he gets a bit of that from me I'm sorry to say. I was always hard on myself with regards to school and grades and extracurricular activities. I hope we can help tone him down a bit so he doesn't come across as looking like a sore sport. And I also have to add, he was really good at bowling. As for the Holdmeister, well he was just happy to come along for the ride. He gave it his best, but what he wanted most was just to hold that bowling ball. All 3 pounds of it.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Renew


After the holidays I always get the fever to organize, clean, de-clutter, and rearrange furniture. I actually now have a house that lends itself to rearranging. I don't think I've ever owned a place that would allow for any kind of furniture rearrangement. As a kid I used to rearrange my bedroom frequently, and even went to work on our living room now and again as well. I had a dollhouse that I think I redecorated far beyond the age that was appropriate to still be playing with a dollhouse. Um, yeah, in fact, when I go back to Texas I usually have to rearrange my old dollhouse furniture all over again. A bit of a freakish-habit of mine that I can't shake. I'm weird that way. And aside from all the cleaning and organizing, I'm also in the mood for something fresh after taking down the holiday decor. The house feels empty and dark. Ho hum. What's a girl to do?? Scour my favorite decorating blogs for a little inspiration! And honestly, every one of my favorite blogs (see to the right for my very faves) are all about cleaning and de-cluttering. I'm beyond inspired by them, and thus, I got down to work over the past few days getting our home freshened up a bit.

A new vignette in the living room

I made these oversized vintage dominoes, now in our basement game room area -- I was beyond inspired by these gals: Shanty2Chic

framed record albums - these belonged to my mom, my dad and my Granny. I told my sisters on my last visit home that they were mine and they couldn't claim them. They looked at me like I was crazy and said "ok, sure, whatever Amy..." Bet they're jealous of them now! ;-)

Fake fruit in the newly rearranged living room -- is fake fruit ok or a decorating no-no?? I dunno, I just like 'em.

Living room, rearranged. I likey!
And finally - I don't like our family room mantel. This is what it looks like right now. It is huge and vast and has 3 large windows that make hanging a typical mantel mirror or oversized art piece impossible.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

10 years

Kind of weird to think we are starting a new decade. It seemed to go by so incredibly fast, but at the same time I can still remember 1989 and thinking that 1999 was soooo far away. Sheesh, I'm old.

Ten years ago I had just fallen in love with Shawn - I mean head over heals in love - and we were celebrating our first New Year's Eve together. I had a cold that night. We kissed at midnight anyway. This year at midnight we were both very much asleep. We missed the midnight kiss but toasted in the new year East coast time, so the kids could yell along with us. I wore my jammies the entire night, but I did drink a lot of champagne, too.

Ten years ago I was working at IBM, who had just bought the first "real" company I ever worked for - Sequent Computer Systems. At the time I hated my job. Hated it. I was stressed to the max and looking for a change. I got that chance when 1/2 way into the new decade I got my then-dream-job as a marketing manager for a cool, hip software company - RealNetworks. Now, 10 years later, I have my true "dream" job as a mom, a wife, a homemaker, and a photographer. Nothing I do is really all that hip or cool, but I love it (potty training aside).

Ten years ago Shawn proposed to me in our tiny living room in our tiny apartment. My bike had just been stolen from the apartment garage. I was sad. Then he proposed. I was happy. I said yes. I daydreamed about house hunting and imagined future babies. Now, 10 years later, I have the house of my dreams (truly, thank you my love), and the two most adorable "babies" you could ever hope for. They are 5 and 3. Somedays I still daydream about one more baby -- this time from a far away land who is in need of a family. We'll see if we achieve that dream in another 10 years.

Ten years ago we lived in a tee-niney-apartment (800 square feet and a terrible layout) in Seattle, Washington. Today we live in a beautiful home that has over 4,000 square feet, in Castle Rock, Colorado. I was as excited then as I am now to have our very own space. Space is just a number, its the love you fill it with that matters. I've learned that much for sure in 10 years.

Ten years ago there had not been a 9/11. Terrorism was a word that other countries used, not ours. Ten years ago you could walk a loved one to the gate that they were flying out of at the airport. Ten years ago we were not at war. Ten years ago there seemed to be a lot more hope and financial security and honesty. I hope that we are making progress on this, ten years later. I'm optimistic, really I am.

Ten years ago the only computer I "owned" was my company issued Think Pad laptop. I used dial up to dial into work if I needed to use the Internet. I had a pager. I did not have a cell phone, and did not think I needed one. The only email account I had was via my work. Ten years later we have a desktop, a laptop, I keep two blogs, I Facebook and Email - I have two accounts, I communicate with my child's teacher via email more than face to face. I've been through 4 phones now. I can even text, though I'm not good at it. I don't Twitter but a lot of my friends do. I edit all my photographs online. I love my digital SLR camera. Technology rocks. It definitely changes the way we communicate and interact with people. I haven't figured out yet if that is good or bad, it just is.

Ten years is a long time. But I think every decade seems to go by faster and faster and faster. In ten more years I will have two teenage boys in my home. Woah. In ten years I hope I am working successfully at something I love. I hope that is photography, but who knows where life will take us. I hope I am still in this house. We have moved 6 times in the past 10 years. I'm d.o.n.e. with that. In ten years I hope happiness and love still fills our marriage and our home. I hope my loved ones are all still with us. I hope our country is stronger and optimistic. I hope that freedom is still something we value highly. I'm anxious to see where technology will take us in 10 years time. I wonder if my own children, in 10 years time, will have their own phones and computers and all the things we sort of never even dreamed of as kids - 20 years ago...or more. 1989 feels like it was a week ago, and 1999 a blink ago. Twenty-Ten. That's weird to say. I'm excited to see what the teens hold for us.

Happy New Year. Happy New Decade.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Ought Nine