Sunday, May 30, 2010

All About MEme: Period

EMMETT UPDATES:

I cannot thank you enough for the positive thougths, well wishes and prayers sent to my best friend and her little boy!  The surgery went as well as could be expected. He still has a lot of recovery ahead of him, but he is no longer sedated and Missy got to hold him today!

Now, on with the show ...













Aunt Flo, cousin Red, Sally, ... 
whatever you call her ...

tell us a funny, embarrassing, interesting story 
about your monthly visitor ... 
perhaps your "first" was memorable,
maybe you've got a white pants tale to share,
difficulties with feminine products? (who can relate?)
or if you just need to vent about the severity of your PMS,
that's okay, too ... I guess ... 

-------------------------------------------
I, my friends, am what's known as a late bloomer. I was sixteen  when I got my period for the first time.  Yes, I had a driver's license before I began menstruating.  How crazy is that?!  

In the fifth grade, my mom took me to some program hosted by the local hospital ... where I learned about ovaries and fallopian tubes and uterial lining ... gross!  I can remember the girls were all made to sit on the floor (huddled together in our embarrassment) while the moms sat in chairs at the back of the room.  The lights were dimmed - ambiance created for two reasons: 1. so we could see the strange images projected on the screen and 2. to provide some camouflage for our flushed cheeks and wide eyes.  It was quite an experience, but at least I left with some idea of what would happen to my body ... one day.  Seems to me this is a conversation a mom could have with her daughter ... not sure why we attended a "class."

In the sixth grade, just about every girl in my class started their period.  (At least that's how it seemed to me.)  It was always so obvious when another of them joined the "club."  Suddenly she would be carrying a little purse ... like a freakin' badge of honor, I tell ya!  By the end of the school year, I was feeling so left out that I, too, began carrying a purse - one that I found in the bottom of my mom's closet.  Yeah, it wasn't cute or small ... but it was a purse and it got noticed and my friends assumed I was having my period ... mission accomplished!  I even went so far as to carry and wear panty liners.  I rustled those little papers like crazy in the stall of the girls restroom!

For the next 4 years, I didn't really think about my period very much.  I finally got to the point of being happy not to have my period ... my friends were all bitching about cramps and tampons and what-not.  And I was like ... huh, that does not sound delightful.  At around age 15, I started thinking something was wrong with me.  But again, it seemed better than having to deal with all that crap once each month.

And then ... it happened ... my first encounter with Aunt Flo was not all that memorable.  Nothing like my friend Missy, who was shoveling snow when she got her first period.  Her mom gave her a pad and sent her right back outside to finish the job ... oh, that story cracks me up!  I remember my "stomach" hurt a little before I went to bed and then she arrived in the morning - not while I was still in bed, thankfully!  What I do remember more than anything else ... later that evening, after spending the day being a big baby about the whole situation, I was ironing a pile of clothes (don't ask - I did a lot of ironing in high school) in my room when my dad got home from work.  I could here a hushed conversation between my parents, and then my dad knocked and came in with this goofy look on his face.  He said something like, "I heard what happened today.  And I just want you to know that I love you."  My cheeks were burning red and I was humiliated and felt so angry at my mom for telling him!  How dare he acknowledge that I "became a woman" today!  When I think back on that now, it seems ridiculous.  I actually wish my parents had been more open about the topic.  Hopefully, Chad and I will do better (or differently) with our girls.  I cannot even think about how traumatized I will be when my daughters go through this!

Not only did I start my period later than any other girl I know, but I also refused to use a tampon until I was about 20 years old.  I had to ask Missy and another friend of ours, Amy, to help me figure out HOW to get that thing in there.  It seemed like such an enigma to me.  I could NOT imagine putting something in my body ... and the thought of retrieving it just about put me over the edge!  But they were both so patient with me, and we laughed ... a lot!  They even did a demonstration of how it "works" using water and the bathroom sink!  When I got home - after several hours had passed - I had to call Amy to have her talk me through getting it out ... and I flipped out when I saw it!  Somehow - after several months of trying -  I managed to get that whole tampon thing figured out ... but I still think about Missy and Amy most every time I use one ;)

Okay, that's enough of my period.  Can't wait to read about yours ... hope I am not the only weirdo!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Questions

EMMETT UPDATE just below this post ... it's very GOOD NEWS :)

As I am sure is the case with most moms of almost-three-year-olds, I answer about a million questions a day.  Sometimes I grow weary of the constant barage of inquiries, but mostly I marvel at her thought process.  I really just love that she is creating an understanding of the world each and every minute of each and every day!

While shopping at a local toy store - for birthday presents for a friend and a cousin - Natalie started pointing out items, squealing her delight, and then asking, "Mommy, we take dis home wif us today?"  A request that I answered by reminding her that she has a birthday coming up (in less than two months) and perhaps she should ask for that toy as a birthday present.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well she took that suggestion.  We managed to leave the store with only our planned purchases and without a tantrum of any kind.  She waved and said, "Bye, toys, I'll see you on my birfday."

All that talk about her birthday lead to a little calendar "lesson" yesterday.  We put stickers on upcoming special dates like Father's Day, the 4th of July, and Natalie's 3rd Birthday.  I told her this month is May, next month is June, and then it will be July - her birthday month!  We even counted the weeks until her birthday ... not that she understands the concept of a week, but there were too many days to count ... 

That lesson must've churned around in her head all night because as soon as she woke up, she asked, "Mommy, is it dee munph of June today?"  It's going to be a very long seven weeks ... 

While I fed the baby, Natalie destroyed her room played with her Pretend Bin.  After putting on a hat, a purple skirt, a pink tutu, and a pair of purple slippers, she pranced in the room and said, "I'm a princess.  But I not CindERella. CindERella's dess is bue like your sirt, mommy.  My 'kirt is purple and pink."  Seems like good logic to me.

After a few more spins for good measure, Natalie asked, "Mommy, is dis a tutu or a kirt?"
A discussion ensued about using your imagination ... if you are pretending to be a ballerina, then it's a tutu.  If you'd rather be a princess, then it's a skirt.  To which she replied, "Today dis is a kirt."  So glad my explanation satisfied her!

She left the room with a very determined look on her face, and I followed ... curious to see what she was thinking about now.  Downstairs she pulled the Block Bin out of the cabinet and said, "Can we build a cassle with bwocks?  Cuz a princess neeeeds a cassle."

Well, of course!  Why didn't I think of that?!


During our recent visit to Mimi's house, 
Natalie got to experience an incredible Dress Up Bin ... 
and she looked way too grown up!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

WW: Emmett Joseph

UPDATED YET AGAIN: According to Missy, Emmett had a good night.  There is already talk of starting to cut back his medication - allowing him to wake up soon!  His heart seems to be sustaining a good rhythm on its own, too!  Wonderful, wonderful news!

UPDATED AGAIN: Emmett is out of surgery! Missy and Joe have seen him - wires and tubes and all ... but say he looks amazing! The doctor's were able to complete the repair without the need for a pacemaker, which is more good news.  Can't thank you enough for wrapping this little guy in your positive thoughts and prayers!

UPDATED: I wasn't going to update until the surgery is officially, totally and completely finished ... but I just can't resist sharing GOOD NEWS!

Emmett is off by-pass and his little heart is beating on its own. Reports at this point look fantastic! There is still work to be done in the operating room. And there will be many days of recovery. But today's surgery is going as well (if not better than) as expected!

Thank you for keeping this little guy in your thoughts and prayers :)


Today is Emmett's surgery.
A team of surgeons will spend hours repairing his heart.
The path to this point has included countless tests, medication, and two other surgeries.
His parents have been incredibly strong and faithful along this journey.

Today is Emmett's surgery.
I know that his mama's heart is breaking at the thought of sending him into that operating room.
I know that his parents implicitly trust the nurses and doctors who will make him better.
I know that being separated from their baby boy ... the sitting and waiting ... will be a bit of torture made more bearable by the support of family. 

Today is Emmett's surgery.

You are not alone sweet boy.
You are occupying the thoughts of family, friends, and even those who haven't met you.
Your name is being whispered in prayers.
You are being held in the hands of a loving God.







Please post Emmett's button.
You can see more great photos and Word-less-ful Wednesday
posts here and here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday - Co-Ed Bath & Private Parts


I blog as a way of journaling my life.  As a way of preserving memories of my daughters' early lives.  As a way to remember what happens in the blur of motherhood.  And I really like to look through my "archives". 

I've realized that there are some really good "old" posts floating around this little blog of mine, so I plan to dust them off, shine them up a bit - just for you - and share a favorite each Tuesday.  I even made a button ... 

Co-Ed Bath & Private Parts
originally posted on June 3, 2009

Today's Thoughts: All of my thoughts are with my best friend Missy and her son Emmett.  Tomorrow he will undergo his third open heart surgery.  Today I just want a reason to smile ... and I want that reason to have something to do with Emmett.  Looking at naked toddlers in the bathtub makes me smile.  Thinking about this conversation with my daughter  makes me smile.

Me: "Natalie, those are Emmett's private parts."
Look of understanding; like she's storing away new vocabulary.
Me: "Natalie, you may not touch Emmett's private parts."
Look of confusion; like what's so wrong with private parts?
Not wanting to plant seeds of wrongness,
Me: "You may touch your own private parts but not other people's."
Look of compliance. Oh, okay ... but his seems like more fun than mine.
(Saving my next thoughts for a much later conversation.)
Cute photos to go along with silly story ...
Posted by Picasa

All the while, my BFF Missy is just trying her best not to crack up
and ruin this little impromptu lesson!

---------------------------------------------
Love you, Big E!




Sunday, May 23, 2010

All About EMMETT



So this All About MEme Monday is not about ME or YOU ...

Instead, I am dedicating this week's meme to a little boy 
who means a lot to me  and he needs your positive thoughts
and prayers this week.


This is my buddy Emmett ... affectionately known as Big E :)


He is the son of my best friend Missy.

He's about a month shy of two and a half years old.

He will melt your heart with deep brown eyes and enviable lashes!


He loves his li-li (a gift from me) and milk from a sippy cup.

He adores dinosaurs and fish and cars and schn-acks!


He is all boy but also sweet as pie.

Today he boarded a plane with his mommy and daddy.
That plane is headed to California, but he is not going on vacation.
 Emmett is going to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. 


That little - adorable - boy is preparing for his THIRD
open heart surgery on Wednesday of this week.

Hopefully this is the final surgery to correct a heart condition he was born with; it is a rare condition known as Congenitally Corrected Transposition of the Great Arteries (ccTGA or LTGA) and an ebstenoid tricuspid valve. 

I wrote about his first surgery here.
And his second surgery here.

You can read more about Emmett and his heart condition 
at my friend's blog: Rocky Mountain Big Boy

I cannot stop thinking about Emmett and his parents ...
wishing I could be there to support my friend and her little guy,
wishing I could do something to ease their worry, ...
and this is what I came up with ...

I want to wrap this family in love from around the blogosphere.
I've seen it done before and I know it works (dare I say, miracles).
The support of many - even people you don't know - is very powerful.
That's what I want for Emmett and his mommy and daddy right now.

For this week's meme, 
please post this button 
on your blog and link up.







Please come back here and LINK UP so Missy will know how much LOVE there is for Emmett!

We're Back!

We've actually been back for a few days ... but I have been battling a constant headache for the past four days.  I am feeling more than a little out-of-touch ... and neglectful ...

All of the traveling went really well!  The girls did great in the airport and on the plane.  I have officially been initiated into the club. I am the proud, newest member of the crazy-mom-traveling-with-TWO-little-ones Club!

Our time at the airport was spent riding the "flat escalator" aka the moving walkway, climbing on a sculpture we probably weren't suppose to be climbing on, counting airplanes through the window (but not getting too close to the windows - Natalie was afraid she would fall out!), entertaining several pairs of grandparents, and eating our packed lunch.
On the plane - which was during nap-time on the way to STL - Charlotte slept like a champ while Natalie and I passed our time playing "I spy with my little eye" on the safety briefing card, snacking, trying out our new Hello Kitty stamps, snacking, watching the "dinosaur movie," refusing to wear the headphones, snacking, climbing on the seat, ...

My only travel-related complaint ... American Airlines doesn't provide priority boarding for those of us traveling with small children.  What's up with that?!  I was in Group 3 for boarding both times, and that was a bit of a fiasco!  I mean, really, those aisles aren't really wide enough as it is, but add a mom, two little ones, a diaper bag, a Dora the Explorer roller bag, and a tiny backpack to the mix, and you're just asking for a frazzled mama and a few disgruntled passengers!  Oh, and some air flow during boarding would be really nice ... those little overhead nozzles weren't blowing anything until we pushed back from the gate!

Aside from the actual "traveling" part of our trip, we had such a fantastic time spending time with family!  The only problem is how much I miss everyone now :(

I managed to take 547 digital photos during this trip ... that's an average of about 50 per day.  Not too bad :)  It will take me an eternity to edit all of them, but hopefully I came away with a few good ones!

For now, I'll leave you with two shots from our time in the airport:

 NHV posing "oh-so-willingly" in front of the "bubble" sculpture.

NHV checking on CJV ... 
this was Charlotte's 1st time traveling by plane, Natalie's 12th!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

All About MEme: By the Numbers







By the Numbers

This week use NUMBERS to tell us about yourself ...

I have a "thing" for numbers.  When I look at the clock I think, "Oh, all those numbers are multiples of 12."  Or, "If you add the minutes it equals the hour."  When NHV was born, I was sad that she was born just after midnight ... I went into labor on 7/14/07, which is a great date because 7 x 2 = 14 ... but had her on 7/ 15.  When I rock CJV, I don't stop until the minutes are a multiple of the hour; during the 9 o'clock hour that usually buys me quite a few extra minutes of snuggling.
Most important numbers: 1/10 ... my date-of-birth minus the year because I am already feeling old today.

I am the oldest of 4, which means I have 3 siblings: 2 brothers and 1 sister.  

My parents had decided on 2 children and took precautions to make that "official" ... think snip, snip.  
So it was me and my brother - just 2.5 years apart - and then snip, snip.  And then my sister was born.  Another snip, snip.  And then 12 years (almost to the day) after I was born, my baby brother was born.  Following their 4th child, a snip and a tie took place.

I am Aunt D to 8 nuggets: 4 (soon-to-be 5) on my side and 4 on Chad's side.  My mom has 6 grandchildren plus 1 on the way ... the order is a very definite pattern: boy, girl, boy, girl (NHV), boy, girl (CJV), boy (on the way) ... if my mom has an 8th grandchild, I hypothesize it will be a girl!  My MIL has just 1 boy and 5 girls.  (I find gender and numbers to be so interesting!)

I was married on 7/4/98 - coolest day to have a wedding!  I have been married for ... it will be 12 years!  I have known my husband for more than 1/2 of my life.  We met in high school and dated all through college.

I have lived in 4 states: IL, FL, VA, and WA.

I have lived in 11 different "homes" - 2 different houses with my parents, 2 different dorm rooms and 1 apartment with my BFF (and others),  an apartment in FL, an honest-to-goodness (needed to be condemned) BEACH HOUSE with future husband and 3 other guys, cute little house, another apartment, our first home (purchase), and the house we live in now ... that's 11, right?

I am mommy of 2 girls.
I've owned 4 cars.  
We currently have 1 television in our house.
We have 1 cat.

blog posts you've written: 497 (just 3 shy of 500!)
email messages in your inbox: 116 (ridiculous, I know)
friends on Facebook: 291 (had to go look - had no idea)
photos stored on your computer: 16,000 (just guessing because I am not on my laptop)
----------------------------------------------------- 
Okay, I've been writing for 21 minutes ... and CJV is up from her nap ... already!

Can't wait to visit you later today and find out YOUR NUMBERS!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We can tell you how to get ...

... how to get to Sesame Street!  Yep, we know the way ... it's a long car ride,  detour into a parking garage, and a few blocks walk from where we live!


Natalie has herself a completely normal and healthy obsession with love of Sesame Street.  It's probably something I've fostered, much like her love from owls, because, well, I am not afraid to admit that I enjoy myself a little SS. I have great nostalgia for the episodes from my own childhood, memories of a Cookie Monster cake my mom made for one of my early birthdays, and tremendous respect for an iconic show that has been around for 40 years and pioneered educational programming for the preschool population.

The live show was fantastic!  Seeing Natalie absolutely light up with the excitement of it all ... was magical and brought me to tears.  At first she was stunned into silence and just took it in.  Eventually, she was up dancing and singing along to the songs she knew.  We purchased the "best available" seats according to the venue's website, and they were "on the floor."  Live and learn because that was a mistake.  The folding chairs were lined up on flat ground, which made seeing over all the adult heads in the crowd really impossible.  After intermission Chad asked an usher if we could take empty seats in the raised section - I insisted he ask permission before me moved - and we got the go-ahead.  Best decision!  The view of the stage was far superior plus we had a little extra wiggle-room and Natalie could stand and dance the whole time.

Charlotte was great the whole time.  She slept on the way, rode in the carrier, took in all the excitement, decided it was time to eat, and hung out in the bathroom with me for a bit.  Public venues that are hosting families should make some kind of accommodations for the littlest ones of the crowd.  There was plenty of room in the bathroom for a few chairs - where moms could get away from the noise and lights for a few minutes or, dare I suggest it, have a nice place to breastfeed?!  With a full belly and new seats, Charlotte settled in for a snooze.  It always amazes me when babies can sleep just about anywhere and with all kinds of ruckus going on around them!

The show was over at lunchtime, and mama was hungry ... a quick 10-mile detour took us to our favorite burger joint where we enjoyed our "sunny day, sweeping the clouds away" kind of day (look at the blue skies and white puffy clouds) during our picnic lunch ... 


We got back home well after naptime, and both girls were exhausted ... but I still managed to snap this cute photo of their Sesame Street attire:


Thanks, Chitown Momma, for the hand-me-down onesie for CJV ... it was too big but adorable nonetheless!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday - Blessings Times Three

I've written more than 100 posts this year!  How is that possible?  I had a baby in December, for goodness sakes!  Where do I find the time?  I mean, really? :)  

Here's the thing, there are some really good "old" posts floating around this little blog of mine, so I plan to dust them off, shine them up a bit - just for you - and share a favorite each Tuesday.  I even made a button ... 



Blessings Times Three
originally posted June 17, 2008


My younger sister, Laura, recently became a mommy ... for the third time ... brave (or crazy) soul that she is, and I couldn't be happier for her because she is so darn happy! She has a 6 year old daughter, who is sweet, creative, and inquisitive. Her first son, Jase, is 19 months old - full of energy, smiles (big ear-to-ear ones), and the almost constant gibberish we refer to as Jasenese. And her second son, Greyson, was born May 28; from what I've witnessed - through photos and during my recent visit - he seems like a fairly easy-going baby, and he is cute beyond belief, in my biased, Aunt D opinion :)

So three kiddos under one roof - a feat my mom accomplished quite successfully plus one, but still I am in awe of the idea of three ... my one has given me a run for my money on more than one occasion. Anyway, I called her earlier today to chat about an gift for my parents' upcoming anniversary, and she answered the phone. She quickly answered my question, and then informed me that she was in the middle of putting Jase down for a nap while Greyson was crying the background - a scene I could easily picture in my mind. In this version, Laura was totally calm and collected. In the version starring me, I would be a frazzled mess, and I sure as heck wouldn't have answered the phone :) These thoughts left a smile on my face and an admiration in my heart; I am so proud (and a little envious) of the person my sister is ... Just to further prove that point, in an email message to follow-up our earlier conversation, she apologized for being so brief on the phone with this explanation ...


My hands are full and so is my heart 
and I wouldn't have it any other way!


Isn't that a beautiful statement? I love you, Laura Helen, and all three of your nuggets, too!



---------------------------------
Today's Thoughts:  I adore being a big sister.  I am the oldest of four with two brothers and a sister.  There is something so special about sisters; a fact that makes me look at my own two daughters with great anticipation for the days when they'll be able to play together and become the best friends they are destined to be.  


Despite an eight-year age difference and a couple thousand miles distance, I feel close to my sister.  We don't talk all that often - not even once a week - but we follow each other all over Facebook and here on my blog.  When we manage to find a few minutes to chat, hearing the sound of her voice makes me smile.  She always has this amazing insight and sense of calm when I need it the most.  Many, many times I've wished that we could live closer together.  That we could meet at the park and watch our kids play together.  That we could invite each other over for dinner.  That we could lounge on the couch watching TV, giving each other head rubs, and chatting about nothing and everything.


Well, sometime in the next 10 days, it is my personal mission to make sure each of those things happen.  I will be back in my hometown - introducing CJV to my family and watching NHV get to know her cousins.  I haven't been "home" since December 2008, and I am homesick beyond belief.  There are so many reasons why I am looking forward to this trip, but I am especially excited to see my sister and her nuggets.  Love you, Laurla!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

All About MEme: What's in your bag?








All About MEme is our weekly chance to ...
A) think about the ME in the world
B) reveal parts of our personality, past, and passions
C) get to know each other, meet new bloggers, share some comment love
D) all of the above

If you answered D, you are one smart cookie!
Please join me and my friends for All About MEme Monday!


Literally.  Quite simply.
Spill the contents of your purse.  
Take a photo.  
Make a list of what's inside.

Explain if you want or let the evidence speak for itself.

---------------------------------------
My bag is actually a  little lighter than usual because I made a trip to Target sans kiddos during naptime today ... and ditched the changing pad and extra outfits.

Speaking of Target, that cute bag down there - bright blue, big handles, one big section in the middle with two long sections behind each handle and small pockets on each end - came from Target ... and it only set me back $24.99.  I decided the second time around I didn't want to carry a traditional "diaper bag," and I love this bag - it's working great for me and my two girls!

  • There's my cute little "owl" change purse full of credit cards, a few gift cards, and very little cash.  
  • My keys with library card attached.
  • Shopping list and receipt from today's Costco trip.
  • Zippered pouch with extra contacts, eye drops, hand sanitizer, lip gloss, lotion, bandaids, ...
  • My Hooter Hider - I love this thing!  It gives me some privacy while breastfeeding, works as a sun shade on the stroller or carrier, and can be used as a blanket if need be.
  • Totally random orange Matchbox car.
  • Deck of Sesame Street cards for reviewing colors and shapes
  • Pink plastic bag dispenser - for those really stinky diapers
  • Large Ziploc with diapers and wipes.
  • Former baby food container - now binky holder ... but it's empty - never good to be without an emergency Soothie!
  • Small Snapware container with snacks inside: fruit leather, yogurt bites, and a granola bar
-----------------------------------------------
Sidenote: I will be traveling with the girls next week - we'll be busy visiting 
lots of family and friends, so I anticipate being off the grid to some extent.
  
I am looking for an All About MEme host for next week.  
Yes, all this ... can be yours!
Let me know if you're interested :)
------------------------------------------- 
 

Say it with Song Sunday, a Flashback

Ah, it's Mother's Day, and I can't help thinking about the fact that - in the past year - I became the mom of  a second daughter. Our family of three grew to a family of four.  I am so blessed with two beautiful daughters. 

This time last year I was experiencing the not-so-delightful first trimester blues (or greens) which left me exhausted and very nauseous!  Today I enjoyed an incredible afternoon at the park wearing Charlotte Jane in the carrier while chasing (an almost three-year-old) Natalie from the swings to the slides and back again. 

When - about a year ago - Natalie announced the upcoming arrival of a new sibling, she used this wonderful song by Francis England.  It's called Family Tree, and it just makes me feel like a proud mama. It seems perfect for this Mother's Day and BJ_Mamas song meme ... so here's a flashback ...









This movie was created using Google Picasa.
This extraordinary and perfect song is titled Family Tree by Francis England.
I apologize for the not-so-great quality of the audio. It sounds great on my computer ... go figure! Oh, and the timing of the lyrics is right-on, too ... so aggravating!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Milestone: Rolling

Our morning routine is like a well-choreographed dance ... or my own personal version of Groundhog's Day ...

Change CJV's diaper.
Put NHV on the potty.
Put CJV on her playing mat for tummy time.
Get NHV a snack and milk and her cartoon-of-choice.
Grab a quick breakfast for myself.
And then it's time to feed CJV.

Well, this morning, amidst all the usual happenings, Charlotte Jane made it known that this baby can roll ... while it's not technically the first time she's rolled over, this is by far the furthest she's ever gotten. 


I'll take this as a little reminder that just when you think you've got your little routine all figured out, things change!  How exciting!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

WW: Birthday Hunt

CPV celebrated his birthday last week.  The food was plentiful ... too-die-for blueberry muffins, carnitas enchiladas, and cherry cheesecake.  However, the gifts were scarce ... unless you count the books he ordered himself.  The highlight was a "hunt" that led the birthday boy to find ... the materials for our first family letterbox, which we will hide when the weather improves.  I thought the clues were pretty clever (but I am definitely biased).  Chad had such a good time pondering and searching!

It started with a card ... and a clue tucked inside.
Starting at the back door.
4 paces to the Y
To the left and 6 paces more
Turn 90 degrees
Reach up high

That clue led to the top of the armoire in our dining room where he found a Skor Bar (his favorite) and another clue.
Take a stroll to a door that’s closed
Head into the great outdoors
Why not sit and swing a bit?
Your next clue you will find
With your eyes

That clue led to the porch where he sat on the swing and spotted the third clue attached to another Skor Bar.
Back inside; you’re almost there
Four bins to choose from
But only one is right
A clue is waiting out of sight

That clue led back inside to one (of many) toy bins where another Skor Bar and clue was found.
Time for a climb
Keep heading up
There’s a place where
Treasures are kept
Your clue is tucked inside

The next clue took the hunt upstairs and stumped him for a bit.  Eventually he found the final Skor Bar and clue - hidden in the "treasure" drawer of his dresser.
You’re getting closer now
In fact, you’re down right … hot
No need for an extra layer
But that’s just the spot!

That last clue led him to our closet and the final prize!

And, I will end with a confession ... I did this entire "hunt" in about 15 minutes while Chad and the girls were napping.  I thought of the idea earlier in the day, but a nap overtook me in the afternoon ... and I had to make a unexpected trip to the market for cool whip for the cheesecake.  I was down to the wire!  This is the perfect example of procrastination paying off!  I love a last-minute success!  Happy Birthday, CPV!

You can see more great photos and Word-less-ful Wednesday
posts here and here.

Top 10 Tuesday - Flying Cross-Country

I've written almost 100 posts this year!  How is that possible?  I had a baby in December, for goodness sakes!  Where do I find the time?  I mean, really? :)  

Here's the thing, there are some really good "old" posts floating around this little blog of mine, so I plan to dust them off, shine them up a bit - just for you - and share a favorite each Tuesday.  I even made a button ... 


Flying Cross-Country
originally posted on August 13, 2008

... with a One Year Old and a Layover ... in Newark ... what the heck was I thinking? I was thinking that it would be nice to visit my dear friends in Northern Virginia. That's what I was thinking. And I was so right about that part! Aside from the almost debilitating heat and humidity, it was awesome to be back amongst friends :)

But the actual traveling part ... pretty much sucked! Oh, by the way, it was my brilliant idea, or at least my conscious choice to fly with a connecting flight ... no one to blame but myself for this little misadventure!

Seattle to Dulles International via Newark
The flight from Seattle to Newark was long - as long as expected - and somewhat delightful because I had an extra (free) seat for Natalie and her infant carseat (the one that she really doesn't fit in anymore but I brought to the airport just in case, and it paid off). She fell asleep right after take-off. I attempted to watch a movie ... the one with Reese Witherspoon and a girl who looks like a pig ... can't remember the name. I even paid a dollar for the headphones. Well, the movie was kind of lame, and Natalie woke up after just an hour of napping ... probably because the captain and flight attendants kept making the loudest stupid announcements ... but whatever. And wouldn't you know it, the drink cart and meal (greasy cheeseburger - heated in a plastic bag) arrived just as Natalie got restless. Balancing a drink and meal box on a tiny tray while keeping a one year old at bay is no easy task ... thankfully I had a container of Veggie Booty just for such an occasion! Anyway, I managed to entertain her for the rest of the flight ... I had a stockpile of toys and books, but she preferred the disposable plasticware from our meal - the plastic cup, the plastic salad plate, the little plastic tray to keep my two cookies from being reduced to crumbs, ...

And so delightfulness ensued until we landed in Newark. Our connecting flight was a considerably smaller plane, which doesn't bother me in the least, in fact, Chad use to fly 50-seater jets, so that is not an issue. The issue was getting to the "tiny plane" terminal. God-forbid these freakin' airport builders, architects, morons would give a thought to how passengers with a baby and stroller might get from one terminal to the next. I can't imagine how people in wheel chairs must feel about this predicament; it is so infuriating! First we waiting in this tiny, disgusting room for a bus to arrive. Then I was shown to a freight elevator that hadn't seen a mop in a very long time. I somehow managed to get Natalie out of her infant seat, fold my stroller, and get everything on board the darn bus without so much as a mention of help from the driver or fellow passengers ... hello, rude! After a short ride, I again juggled all my crap plus Natalie off the bus only to discover 16 concrete steps. Huh?!? I mean, I can manage a backpack, a stroller, an infant carseat, a 22 pound baby, and my sanity when not faced with 16 stairs and no elevator! I just about lost it! Thankfully a baggage handler noticed my dilemma and rescued us ... and the many witnesses to my potential breakdown. He carried my stroller ... at arms length from this body ... as if it contained dead animal carcass or something ... but at least he took it all the way to the top.

Once inside the "tiny plane" terminal, things did not get any better. On the contrary, things just kept getting worse. Keep in mind that Natalie had only slept for a grand total of one hour at this point. Let's see ... how do I make this long story just a smidge shorter ... our one hour layover ended up to last a grand total of FOUR hours. And I could only keep Natalie up off that FILTHY, DISGUSTING, GERM-RIDDEN airport terminal carpet for so long. Eventually I had to concede and let her .... crawl around for a little while. Oh, it makes me sick just thinking about it! What makes it even worse is the fact that she constantly sought out and crawled to every trash can she could spot! We made many, many, many trips to the restroom to wash hands with soap and water - after the anti-bacterial wipes were all gone. Her cute little pants were absolutely black - or at least a very dark gray - from cuff to just above the knee ... YUCK! But we did meet a wonderful mom and her teenage son from Texas, and they kept us company during the long wait ... and gave Natalie a new object of her flirting affections.

The flight included an hour long sit on the taxi way before take-off, which sucked, but we finally arrived in Virginia ... at midnight. And my poor friend Heather had to roll out of bed to come pick us up. At least we didn't even have to think about airline travel for another 6 days.

The Return Trip: Dulles International to Seattle via Newark
The return trip was just as awful ... no really, it was ... perhaps even a little worse. But I'll spare you a big long, detailed recounting. Here are the highlights:
Our travels began at 3:00 pm, when we left Heather's house - this information will be important toward the end of my tale. Our flight leaving Dulles was delayed for more than an hour, and we had another connection through Newark. Repeated the awful process - in reverse - of getting from the "tiny plane" terminal to the main terminal ... again, those 16 steps do not come with the option of an elevator. Thanks to a kind and somewhat beefy guy, I managed to get us and all our stuff on the bus. Only to discover that our flight from Newark to Seattle was ... you guessed it ... delayed ... for hours! Again, Natalie got the chance to crawl on some of the dirtiest carpet I have ever laid foot on! The flight was beyond full, which meant no empty seat for Natalie. Which also meant I had the distinct privilege of holding my 22 pound baby girl ... on my lap ... for many, many hours. We spent almost two hours on the plane before take-off. Two hours of squirming and fussing because it was bedtime for NHV. We finally departed, and Natalie fell asleep almost immediately and stayed that way. So began my battle to sit comfortably in a window seat while holding 22 pounds of dead weight. Grand total, I did this for seven hours, and let me assure you I never did get comfortable. My arms and back and legs hurt so badly I wanted to cry on several occasions ... part of that could've been shear exhaustion, too. At Seattle airport, I had a terrible time finding elevators. When I asked for directions to the nearest elevator, people looked at me like I had asked for a unicorn or something ... with this slightly bemused look on their faces! By this point it was after midnight - or 3 am east coast time - and I was pretty much anything but amused. Anyway, just another point of frustration. We then took a taxi to our car which Chad parked at a friend's house about 5 miles from the airport. We pulled into our driveway at almost 2 am - or 5 am east coast time. Must give mad props to my baby girl. She maintained her composure through it all. I guarantee I would never even attempt this type of travel if she wasn't the amazing little person that she is!

Phew! That was a lot of typing and a lot of reading if you stuck with it. But I am blogging about this so I can remember the pain - I don't want to forget it like childbirth and foolishly decide to do it again!
 
P.S. We actually got back from this trip - almost a week ago to the hour - but I am just now writing about it because I wasn't ready to relive it until now :)
 
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Guess what I'm doing ONE WEEK from today?!  Yep, flying ... with both girls ... all by myself!  
 
I am such a glutton for punishment!  At least this flight is direct and shorter.  We are going "home" to IL to visit all of our family.  Woo Hoo!  I really cannot wait for the visiting part!  I have not been to IL since December 2008, which is a ridiculously long time to go without seeing my sister and my nuggets!

Really hoping...
the time in the airport is short and uneventful.
the flights are on-time and not crowded.
I can manage a two year old, a 5-month old, a stroller, an infant car seat, a carry-on (packed with enough food and distractions), ... this is not going to be pretty!

Wish me luck!

Monday, May 3, 2010

All About MEme: Teacher Tribute









I spent more than half my life in school ... as a student.
And another 10 years as a classroom teacher.

It only seems fitting that I make some effort to celebrate
Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3 - 7).

What better way to celebrate than assigning some homework?


Take a little stroll down memory lane ...
all the way back to the hollowed halls ...
of your school years - the days of raising your hand, 
taking tests, and making the grade ;)

Tell us about the teacher(s) who made a difference in your life.

Make it a list or a story - your choice!

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As a teacher myself, I have mad love for this noblest of professions.  I know how hard teachers work - the extra hours, the concern for students, the dealings with parents, ... it is not an easy job.  I have been so fortunate to have many fantastic teachers ...

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called "truth."  ~Dan Rather

Kindergarten - Mrs. P - I have a very vivid memory of you tracing my profile for an art project.  I'm pretty sure my mom still has that black paper / chalk outline tucked in a box somewhere.  I also remember that you wore a wig; I saw the tag and asked my mom about it.  
1st Grade - Mrs. F - You didn't make me feel ashamed when I had an accident ... sitting right in my desk ... just after the entire class had returned from a bathroom break.  I didn't go during that break because Jenny S. never went, which meant she was always first in line on the walk back.  I so desperately wanted to be first!  What did it get me?  Wet pants and some embarrassment ... so not worth it!  Lesson learned.
2nd Grade - Mrs. B - You told the best stories!  Didn't even need a book to read from; you just wove this fantastic tales right from your own imagination, and told them with a whole cast of voices.
3rd Grade - Mrs. Mc - Oh, the devastation of failing.  Those darn times tables provided my first experience with that getting a "D" on a paper.  I was crushed.  I cried - a lot.  You took me to the hall, and with such caring and kindness, made me own my mistake ... which somehow made it better.  I also remember your fiery - always just a little disheveled - red hair.
4th Grade - Mrs. S - You were the epitome of calmness.  I knew I could come to you with any problem - large or small (Who am I kidding?  They were all small in 4th grade!) - and you would listen and understand and help me find a solution.
5th Grade - Ms. B - We called you Mrs. Battleship behind your back.  I always wondered if you knew that?  You were a first-class grouch.  You prided yourself on making students feel lousy.  You inspired me to be the kind of teacher you were not.  And, let me tell you, I was an awesome 5th grade teacher!
6th Grade - Mrs. L - I really, really wanted YOU to be my mom.  No offense to my own mom, but I just adored Mrs. L.  You had a contagious smile and a love for science!  This was one of my best years in school.

Up to this point, I went to school at a small Catholic School.  My parents made the decision to transfer my brother and I to public school, and I was not happy about it.

7th Grade - Mr. C - You were my first experience with a male teacher ... and you were cute.  I was so confused!  This was also the first year that math became interesting.  I remember the time I had an awful case of the hiccups during class (probably had something to do with sitting in the front room so near a cute male teacher) and you - playfully - slammed your hand on the desk and said, "Stop hiccuping!"  I was mortified but then you filled the room with your great laugh and the whole class joined in.
8th Grade - Mr. A - Another male teacher; this one not good-looking, but unbelievable GOOD at teaching science.  I learned so much.  I was challenged.  I looked forward to his class everyday.

From middle school onto high school ... where I met my husband ... and worried more about my friends than my teachers ...

HS - Mrs. A - I took three years of you Spanish class.  But I learned so much more than another language from you.  You had such high expectations for your students, which earned you the reputation of being a really tough  teacher.  I worked really hard for your class and  respected you for holding us to your standards ... but most importantly, for helping us to achieve our potential.  You made time for every student and you built a community of learners in your classroom.  If I had to choose just one - please don't make me - the prestigious award of all-time favorite teacher would go to you, Mrs. A.  (which strikes me as kind of funny because my husband did not like this teacher - at all!)

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Slice of my day

This should give you some indication of the kind of day I had ...

In the span of about 20 minutes ...
I woke NHV from her nap.  Not something I like to do, but I can't let her sleep much past 4:30 for fear of totally messing with her bedtime.

As soon as I opened the door, I knew something was amiss ... the smell that greeted me was of the number two variety.  This is unusual but understandable considering the potty training success we've been having for the past week ... 

And so, I grabbed a handful of wipes and went about the business of cleaning up the mess that had been festering for a three-hour nap.  As if waking her up didn't make her grumpy enough, this little task was made even more delightful by constant whining and thrashing about.

During this time ... about two minutes in ... CJV woke up from her nap.  Thankfully she was patient enough to allow me to bag the stinky diaper, put a pair of panties and pants on NHV, and wash my hands before going to get her.

However NHV did not intend to be nearly as patient when waiting for her post-nap "saaa-nack" and "geeenk."  So I hauled CJV downstairs, poured juice one-handed and grabbed a few graham crackers.  Stomped back upstairs to my awaiting, now less grumpy, and more appreciative toddler.

CJV was starting to squirm pretty hard-core by this point.  She was all like, "Yo, mama, where's the milk truck?  I'm starving over here!"

Plopped down in the glider and got to the business of nursing.  In the meantime, NHV was just outside the nursery playing in her kitchen.  I couldn't see her, but I could hear her banging pots and pans, talking to herself, and having a great time.  And then, it got quiet.  Too quiet.  Followed by the dreaded, "Uh-oh,"  that could only mean she peed in her pants.

Still nursing, but knowing that Natalie would freak out about the wet pants, I asked her if she could take off her pants and panties.  A tiny struggle ensued and then I saw a streak of naked booty flash by the door.  A naked Natalie is a happy Natalie ... whatever, I've got to finish feeding the baby.

Then I hear Natalie say, "Oh, I know.  I get a wipe."  She wanted to clean up the mess on the floor.  I felt a glimmer a pride and even cracked a tiny smile.

Once CJV was finished eating, I changed her diaper, put her under the mobile and went to get clean clothes for Natalie.  As I entered the hallway, I quickly assessed the damage.  Saw a small wet spot that she'd wiped up herself.  And then, did a double-take as a brown clump caught my eye.  Oh no, she didn't!  Except yes, yes, she did!  

I know she didn't purposefully poo on the floor.  I am guessing it was in her panties when I suggested she take them off ... in the hopes of avoiding a meltdown about being in wet pants.  Which technically - in some perverse way - makes it my fault, right?

Yep, the life of a SAHM.  Glamorous?  Not so much.  Interesting?  Sure.  Entertaining?  Always!


I am so glad it's the weekend, and CPV will be home for the next three days.  This mama needs a b-r-e-a-k!
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