Sunday, August 28, 2011

Every Sunday

This isn't about going to church every Sunday.  This is about the other thing we do every Sunday.  We clean the house.  Sounds like fun, huh.  Somehow Sunday became house cleaning day.  It's actually kind of nice.  We have it down now.  We both know our "chores".  I am a self-professed slob.  I am not neat and tidy.  I know this.  Charlie is neat and grew up in a spotless house.  I did not.  So the fact that I have a "cleaning day" is big for me.  I like having a clean house on Sunday evenings and starting the week off fresh.  Of course, by Friday the house looks like a tornado has hit it. 
During the week, I cook dinner (at least I attempt to make dinner) and Charlie is in charge of cleaning up the kitchen.  Toys rarely get picked up on a daily basis.  But the busyness of life (junk mail and toys) piles up.  Saturday is grocery day and laundry day.  Sunday is cleaning day.  When we get home from church, Calvin takes a nap and Laci has quiet time watching TV and playing.  I am in charge of cleaning the kitchen.  It's nice when everything is cleaned off the counters and put away.  I also put all the toys away and vacuum.  There is always one last load of laundry left on Sunday too.  Charlie is in charge of sweeping and moping the floors, setting the garbage out and cleaning the toilets.  I could say I don't know how our chores divided up but the simple answer is that I don't like mopping and sweeping the floor or cleaning the toilets.  Charlie is also in charge of ironing.  I call ironing the devil's work and refuse to do it. 
We laugh that cleaning with small children in the house is a wasted effort.  Sometimes I am still putting the vacuum away and Laci has dumped all the toys out of the toy box.  I also spend time putting all the toys away in the correct bins and wonder why I do that.  The kids just dump all the bins into one big pile anyway.  Charlie sweeps and mops the floor and then Monday night after dinner wonders why he bothered doing it because most of Calvin's dinner is under his high chair again. 
But there is a moment every Sunday where the house is as clean as it is going to get.  And it is nice.  There is something symbolic to it.  We are ready to start a fresh week.  The mess and craziness can all start again on Monday.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Learn to Labor and to Start

I was very blessed to have two wonderful grandmothers.  One lived with us most of my life.  I absolutely adored her and have always considered growing up with her one of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave me.  I only saw my other grandma a few times a year.  I didn't truly appreciate her, who she was and how much I am really like her until after she died a few years ago. 

My dad used to tell me a quote once that she used to use when he was growing up.  I was thinking it about it today.  My cousin was also told this quote by her father.  The quote is slightly different for both of us as I am sure my dad and my uncle remember it different from their mother.  This is from my dad:  "It is a misquote from "H.W. Longfellow's A Palm of Life. She quoted it, and I am probably misquoting her, as "Up and at it with a gay and cheerful heart, still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to start".  I am just now starting to know what it all means. 

"Up and at it with a gay and cheerful heart..."  I am a morning person.  I jump out of bed each morning.  Well, maybe not jump but I am ready to start the day.  I think she was too.  And what better way to start the day then with a cheerful heart.

"Still achieving and pursuing..."  My grandma was very educated.  She didn't have a lot of formal education.  But she knew how important education was.  Learning is a life long event.  Learning is more than books and school.  The importance of education was passed down to her sons and her grandchildren.  I know I got my love of learning, my drive and my curiousity from her. 

She was definitely go-go-go, always working on something.  I like to go-go-go.  This leads to my inpatience which I probably got from her too.  My dad told me that the original quote said something about "learn to labor and to wait."  My grandma was a hard worker.  My grandma was not a wait-er.  I am not a wait-er.  I remember when I was about 12, we visited Niagara Falls.  After seeing it from every angle possible, I was ready to go.  My dad told me about his vacations as a kid.  And that I am just like his mother.  They would go somewhere, like the Grand Canyon, look at it and then move on.  That is my favorite kind of vacation.  I like to say we have vacation ADD - we cram as much stuff into 7 days as possible.  Williamsburg suggested staying for 3 days, we would good with an afternoon there.  :)

I'm proud to be just like my grandma.  I am thankful that I can share a bit of her with my children through her favorite quote.  I think she would be proud of all of us too. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

How much is too much?

That is something I see struggling with down the road.  Okay, I struggle with it now.  I am talking about activities.  How many activities are too much?  When I was growing up, I was always busy with activities - dance lessons, piano lessons, soccer teams, etc.  I didn't start to play travel soccer until junior high and I was on the high school soccer team.  I took ballet, jazz and tap classes throughout high school.  Tap was my favorite with ballet a close second.  I was busy but I wasn't super committed or great at anything. 

I haven't started Laci in much.  I know once we start "the activity train" it's hard to stop.  Plus, since she goes to daycare and preschool, she has learned how to be in a group and listen to teachers from an early age.  Right now she is taking gymnastics once a week.  She loves it.  We tried swimming lessons last winter and she did not love it.  I signed her up for a soccer season on Saturday mornings this fall.  Plus she will participate in Awana at church on Sunday evenings.  That's 3 activities for the fall.  After this session of Gymnastics she asked to take swimming lessons again.  Right now I feel like we have a good handle on it.  She has been asking for ballet lessons but I have been putting that off.  I didn't start ballet until I was 6 and I want her to have a good handle on gymnastics and that type of activity before switching over.  And I want her to try a little bit of everything.  

One of the advantage I like about most sports is that there is a set start and stop.  There is a season, usually about 8 weeks.  If she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to sign up for the next year.  One of the reasons I have been avoiding ballet is because it is a school year, starting September and continuing to May.  It's a commitment.  But it turns out gymnastics is the same way.  It just keeps going.  I can't get off the gymnastics train.  I just signed her up for another session and then realized she has been going almost continuously since April.  

I know once she gets to elementary school and junior high, decisions will need to be made.  How competitive does she need to be?  Rec sports or travel sports.  Tournements or leagues.  Competitive dance teams.  Does she need to play travel to be "good enough" for the high school team?  Will she even want to play for the high school team?  Then there is the money and the time it takes to do all of these things.  Just coordinating the two kids will be a challenge in itself.  How did my parents do it with four?  It seems like it's a different world from when I was a kid.  Or is it? 

I was talking to a co-worker recently who told me his daughter does competitive dance.  They went to Myrtle Beach this summer and took second place in Nationals.  Wow.  It sounds impressive.  They came in second to an 11 - 12 year old team.  Then he told me that she will be 7 in December.  What?!?  She is only 6 and she went to a national tournament in Myrtle Beach?

All these decisions make my head spin!  I need to keep my eye on the big picture.  Activities teach a lot of things - commitment, people part of a team, time management, setting goals, etc.  Let the kids have fun and be kids.  Let the kids have "unstructured" time.  Keep it Laci and Calvin's decision.  Push them but don't push them.  It's a tough balance. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Daddy's Friend Car

The yellow Mustang is out of our garage but not out of our hearts.  Laci still points to every yellow car she sees and announces that it is "Daddy's Friend Car".  We went to a "Touch a Truck" event at the mall a few weeks ago full of every kind of truck you can imagine (garbage, firetruck, moving truck, dump truck, etc.) and she was most excited to see a yellow Cobra - Daddy's Friend Car.  Today we were driving and I said "I missed the window" - meaning the window of opportunity to turn left.  She announced that she misses her window too - the little window in Daddy's old car. 

A reminder of the little things

Last night I was stroking Laci's hair as she was laying on the bed.  Whenever I do that, I am reminded of a post a friend of mine posted on Facebook awhile back.  This friend lost both of her parents too young, too soon.  She said that she misses her mom the most when she is stroking her daughter's hair.  I think of that and am grateful for my mom.  And I am grateful for my daughter.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Sprinkler Run - A Rite of Passage

Sunday afternoon, Laci played in the sprinkler.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures.  I was enjoying watching her too much to get a camera.  She started off in her clothes.  Then, as she began stripping, I figured she should probably put a swimming suit on.  I always wonder what goes on in her head when she is playing.  She played with an umbrella in the sprinkler.   At one point, she had some buckets on her head, hitting it with a toy shovel saying "Thar' she blows".  ? I have no idea what that meant.  It was cute.

One mistake we made was she played in the sprinkler right after Charlie mowed.  So she was covered in grass clippings.  Her clothes were covered with grass clippings too so I left them on the deck to dry.  Later, I looked at and didn't see them.  I commented that it looked like her underwear had blown away.  Charlie said that sometimes he sees stray articles of clothing on his runs and wonders how they got there.  Don't worry - we found them on the other side of the deck.  After Charlie turned the sprinklers off, Laci ran off.  I walked around the house but didn't see her.  A few minutes later she popped up and said Calvin was crying - she had just gone in and checked on him.  Sure enough, there was a direct line of water and grass clippings from the door up the stairs into Calvin room.  Yeah.  I'm glad she waited until after we swept and vacuumed the house to do that.  :)

I dragged her outside to clean her off.  She moved a big stone marker on the flower bed exposing a huge pile of ants and she insisted on digging them a hole.  Now she is wet and covered in grass clipping and ants.  I finally convinced her to get away from the ants and she let me clean her up to allow her back in the house.  Oh to be 3 again!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

10k? Success or not?

Was my 10k successful or not?  I am not sure.  Before I get into the run itself, let me say a bit about the event.  It was a great event put on by a good family that had something terrible happen to them.  They lost a child.  My coworker and I have worked together in the past and have always gotten along very well.  Our daughters are the same age, born within a month of each other and when we worked together, we talk about our kids a lot.  I haven't worked with him in awhile.  Our sons were supposed to be born within a month of each other too.  But his never had a chance and was still born.  I can not even imagine what they have gone through this past year.  Unfortunately, they are not the only family I know that have gone through that.  This morning as I was feeding my one year old son, I got a little choked up that they do not get to feed their son. 

The event was great.  There was a good turnout from the office and a good overall turnout.  They even had to start it 20 minutes late because there was a long line to get into the park.  Before the run, they had a balloon liftoff and honored all the babies that were lost by reading their names as their families released their balloons.  It was hard not to be effected. 

The course was hilly.  I do not do hills.  I started slowing down on the first hill.  What comes up must come down so I was just waiting for the downhills!  I started to realize that this would be slower than I hoped.  But it was a good cause.  I got to mile 3, still on pace for my slow goal.  I had thrown my fast goal out the window by this time.  And then it all went downhill.  Figuratively - I did not get to actually run downhill.  Someone started telling us to turn.  Big mistake!  I was with a group that got lost.  Suddenly I was on a unmarked trail.  It didn't seem right but we all just kept going.  After awhile, a group of us stopped and didn't know what to do.  Every other race I have ever done was so clearly marked.  I was in the middle of a wooded area hoping not to fall.  Suddenly I didn't care to finish the race, I just wanted out.  It was awful.  We just kept going.  Up and down bridges and stairs.  I wanted to see the path!  We finally made it out.  We asked a volunteer and she said we had less than 2 miles to go and by taking that wrong trail, our finish would be about 6.5 miles.  By this time, I was in a group of about 6.  We just ran to the finish.  I don't know how long we ran but our time was 59:58.  I started talking to other coworkers and everyone doing the 10k got lost.  And not in the same way!  People were running all over the place.  We shared stories of the goofy loops we made and the crazy paths we were on.  Some people estimated they ran 7 or 7.5 miles.  Some people were guessing 5 miles.  I looked at the map of the course after and my guess was that I did about 5 miles.  Unfortunately, I was upset and disappointed about it.  It wasn't anyone fault.  But it means that one of my 3 running goals has not been achieved.  I am 0 for 2 so far.  My third goal (400 miles) is still very achievable.  I have 100 miles to go.  I know of a 10k near my house in November that I am planning to do to recoup this goal.  All in all it was a successful event for a good cause for a good family. 

P.S.  Calvin has successful moved up to the 13m - 18m room at daycare.  But he is sitll not walking.  Standing better and oh so close to walking.  Any day now...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

If Mom made it, don't eat it

I saw on facebook someone posted a quote "If Man made it, don't eat it."  I think my children's rule of thumb is "If Mom made it, don't eat it."  We are in a dinner rut!  I am completely out of dinner ideas.  I think that all families should have a 10 or so meal repertoire of dinners that their family likes.  That is a couple of weeks of dinners.  I go through phases where I feel like we are having good dinners for awhle.  But now I feel like I am in a 4 meal rotation!  I am completely out of ideas.  I want to be more creative and cook more but sometimes I feel like "what's the point?"  Whatever meat I cook, I cut up for Laci and she just dips in ketchup.  What is the point in trying to play with flavors and sauces if she is just going to dip it in ketchup?  Charlie isn't much better.  He uses A1 - so much classier and grown up.  Calvin was doing well eating but he is on a carb kick.  And bananas.  He has had bananas the last couple of nights.  Calvin's choices are partly my fault because I am terrible at finger food ideas for a toddler.  He has refused meat the last few nights.  So I head for the goldfish and teddy graham standby.

To add to my dinner woes, I always come home from work starving.  I am the type of person who eats a little often, instead of 3 big meals.  So if I don't eat a snack at work (and sometimes even when I do eat a snack) I am starving when I get home at 5.  I am cooking dinner as fast as I can.  Lately Calvin has been really clingy.  I am not sure if he is hungry also or what.  I call it his "needs his mommy" time.  So we cuddle.  It's difficult making dinner with a baby on your hip.  I try to give him a snack on his high chair or on the floor.  But I don't want to do that because it might spoil his dinner.  But since he isn't eating dinner, what does it matter. 

Okay - enough venting my frustrations about my dinner woes.  Tomorrow is Thursday - spaghetti night.  Laci and Calvin love the garlic bread.  At least I know what I am serving and that they will eat something. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Rules of life - By Laci

The top 2 worst things you can do.
1. Biting
2. Putting your finger in the fan

The top 2 best things you can do.
1. Hold your ballerina pose
2. Give lots of love and kisses

Sounds simple enough to me!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Zoo - the things we go for our kids

I always read about people's adventures on their blogs and facebook.  Sometimes I feel bad that we don't go on many adventures - like the zoo or children's museums or play dates, etc.  It's hard when I am working because the weekends are filled with errands, laundry and cleaning.  It's hard to find the time to go on these adventures.  The daycare was closed today for teacher training.  Tomorrow is the first day of the school year.  I decided to take the kids to the zoo.  Of course, last week Laci had her final field trip of summer camp at the zoo.  She was our guide for the day. 
I have always disliked double strollers because they are so enormous.  Fortunately, Laci is old enough that we have not needed a double stroller.  But since I was going by myself, I did not want to have to worry about her running off or whining that she was tired.  I borrowed my neighbors double stroller.  That was a great idea.  It was great having them both sit in the stroller and not having to worry about Laci taking off.  She got out when she wanted to but was content to just ride and look. 

I had to take the Vibe today.  This is another reason why we never got a double stroller. 
It didn't fit in the back and had to go in the front seat.

Look how nicely they are both contained!  She barely fit but it worked for one day.
She loved the map.
Calvin wasn't too interested in the animals.  I think he was just tired and wanted a nap.  He was mildly amused at the dolphin show.  Laci enjoyed it but it was a bit of a repeat having just been there a few days ago.  On the way home, I asked her what her favorite part of the zoo was.  Her answer - Dora Popsicle and the playground.  I could have done that at home.  But the big adventures are important to do sometimes.  Even if it is the little parts that make the memories.

The slide - the best part!

Tony, Laci and the Cheetah

This is about as excited as he got.  Except for the slide.  He also loved the slide!
Later, after naps and rests, we walked down to the pond in our neighborhood and fed the fish.  I love doing that with the kids.  This is our real life and what I truly appreciate in our busy life.  Tonight, Laci named the turtles John, Blon and Lon and the catfish Targon.  She told me stories about the turtles and what they do when we aren't there.  I love her stories.  When we got home, she insisted on wearing her Monkey costume from two years ago that barely fit.  She and Calvin ended up eating bananas for dinner and barely anything else.  It was so cute watching her cut up his banana just like I do and she fed him saying the same words I do. 
The point of today was a big adventure.  But I was reminded that the real point of today was to enjoy my children.  All of the errands were done Saturday and the chores were done Sunday.  Today was about spending the day with my kids without the distractions.  Maybe that was the real reason why the daycare was closed today.

The No Spill Sippy Cup

Some random thoughts on sippy cups.  Now that Calvin is out of bottles, we are into the world of Sippy Cups.  I don't remember disliking sippy cups the last go around as much I do now.  Maybe it is the advertising "No Spill".  There is nothing no spill about it!  Every time Calvin drops his cup, it spills.  One actually had written on it "No Spill only works when upright."  Isn't every cup no-spill when upright?  I gave him a cup in the car today and he actually unscrewed open the cap.  Fortunately, I think it was almost empty anyways.  The valve makes the cup almost exactly like a bottle.  Occasionally, we even find ourselves holding Calvin and the sippy cup like a bottle.  With Laci, we had the same brand of sippy cup and the lids were all interchangeable.  Most of her old cups are broken or pink flowers.  For whatever reason, right now we have several different types of sippy cups, lids and valves floating around the house.  But they are all blue with cars and trucks on them.  :)  It's encouraging to remember that like all phases, the sippy cup phase doesn't last forever and soon enough he will be drinking and spilling out of regular cups like Laci.   

Friday, August 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Strike

I don't know about you but there are certain things that we are very brand specific about.  Jif Reduced Fat Peanut Butter is one of them.  We love peanut butter and eat a lot of it.  I am creamy and Charlie is crunchy.  We have tried other brands and types but we are so hooked on Jif Reduced Fat Peanut Butter that anything else just tastes funny.  But this summer and last summer, it appears Jif has decided not to make crunchy reduced fat.  I don't know why.  Charlie calls it the "peanut butter strike".  Charlie goes on searches at any grocery store he drives by to find this peanut butter.  It is his summer mission.  Occasionally he will find the creamy version and stocks up buying 4 jars at a time.  I saw 7 jars of Jif Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter in my pantry this morning.  Hopefully that will last a few weeks or at least until the strike is over and we can get the crunchy kind again.  And start buying reasonably quantities again.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A little goes a long way...

A little goes a long way.  That has become a new motto in our house.  I have found it has lots of practical uses and may be a good guide for life. My first use of the motto was for make up.  Laci obviously doesn't wear make up but I started saying it when she puts on chapstick, her makeup.   I figured it is never too early to learn that a little makeup goes a long way.  Then I started saying it with the bubble bath.  A little bubble bath can make a lot of bubbles.  A little chocolate syrup goes a long way in the milk.  Then Laci started repeating it to me.  She really does listen to me!  Tonight I was pouring her some juice.  "A little goes a long way" she reminded me.  We still mix her juice with water and she doesn't complain.  A little juice goes a long way in a cup of water. 
The next lessons that lessons that I hope she learns with this motto are how to treat people.  A little kindness goes a long way towards people.  A little thank you goes a long way.  I'm sure that there are many more applications for our new motto that we will learn though the years.  But I like the way it is starting.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I could blog about our great weekend.  About Laci's first time tubing and how I loved sharing that experience with her.  She loved it.  Or about this morning's impromptu dip in the lake even though we didn't bring her swimming suit and I let Laci swim in only her underwear even though she is clearly too old for that.  Or about the rough night I had because neither kid slept well away from home.
Instead, I am going to write about our dinner tonight.  It was a simple dinner - peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit salad and chips.  While I made the sandwiches and fruit salad, Laci set the table and put the fruit salad in our bowls.  She carried everything over to the table.  It was so cute that instead of clearing the table of the newspapers, she just put everyone's plates on one side of the table.  It's a good thing we all like each other because we were sitting very close to each other.  Calvin was exhausted and kept screaming at something - maybe the jelly sandwich that he had never had before or the strawberries.  I think he still had cheese on his face from lunch.  He finally calmed down and ate his dinner.  Laci only ate her fruit salad until we threatened no bedtime snack without eating her sandwich.  My favorite part was when Charlie poured all the crumbs from the bottom of the chip bag onto his plate.  His face was priceless when Laci spilled most of the chip crumbs onto the floor - the floor he had just finished sweeping.  :)  It was a bit of chaos and a bit of quiet wonderful.  These are the moments I will miss when the kids are grown.  The moments that go by too fast.  The night ended with baths for both which is it's own bit of challenges and chaos!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Operation Neighbor Hit Me, Neighbor Fix Me

I am in the middle of Operation Neighbor Hit Me Neighbor Fix Me.  I like to give elaborate names to small projects.  Last Friday, on my way to work, I was hit at a red light.  It was a small hit and I almost didn't stop.  It seemed like a hassle and I assumed it wasn't a big hit.  Is it a hit and run if the person who is hit runs?  But I figured I should do the right thing and stop.  The guy who hit me was really nice.  He admitted that it was his fault and would take care of any repairs.  It looked like it could be a simple repair and just painting the bumper.  We exchanged information and I went on to work.  I didn't want to get a police report because that seemed like a hassle for something so small.  I talked to him later that day and realized he lives 3 doors down from me and across the street!  We were about 5 miles from our neighborhood when this happened.  I told him I would get some repair estimates and call him back.  Monday morning he emailed and asked if I wouldn't mind taking it to the dealership near our house.  His friend is a manager there and would give him a good deal.  He had been so nice and I knew he was paying for this out of his pocket so I wanted to help him out.  I took it over there to have the friend look at it.  It turns out the friend is his neighbor, 3 doors down from me.  He said that he has a guy that comes in Friday mornings to do those kind of small paint jobs and he would take care of it.  He would even give me a minivan to drive.  I told him that Thursday nights would be hard to drop off the car because I have the kids alone.  He said that it wasn't a problem and he would drop a minivan off at my house and pick up the car Thursday evening and bring my car back Friday night.  How convenient is that!  So tonight, he called at about 6:30, came over, dropped a minivan off and took my minivan back to the dealership.  He'll just drive my car home tomorrow.  I thought that getting this small repair done would be a hassle but it has been fine.  It's an unconventional way to meet people in the neighborhood.  Another reason I really like my neighborhood!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some Gems from Laci

Tuesday nights, Charlie is usually out of town.  Last night, Laci and I had some great chats.  Laci is starting to be a great conversationalist - both for content and mis-content.  I wrote them down to share with Charlie.  

Me: Laci, who are my brothers and sisters.
Laci:  Aunt Laura, Uncle Rob and Uncle Jake (close enough - we'll accept).
Me: Who is Daddy's brother.
Laci: Aunt David (close enough - we'll accept)

I let her watch the beginning of MasterChef with me.
Me: I do not like that hat Suzy is wearing.  (Suzy was wearing a hat similar to a beret.)
Laci: Mom, it's a princess hat.  Everyone loves princess hats.  Everyone except my boy friends. 
Laci: I love the girl with the sparkly hair.  I want her to win.  I want to try her food.  (Yes because Laci loves risotto).

At 9:40, I have gone into Laci's room several times to tell her to go to sleep.  She has rearranged her bed so she is upside down in the bed.
Laci: Okay, this time I will really go to sleep.  (Really, why didn't you go to sleep the last 4 times I have been in here!) 

This morning as I was brushing my teeth, she came in the bathroom.
Laci: The storm is scaring me.
Me: Don't worry.  It is moving through fast.
Laci: Not fast enough.

Calvin Stands - Reprise

By himself this time!  I think his training is really paying off.  Last night, he was using the doll stroller as a walker which is significant because the doll stroller is very unstable and in the past he has not been successful in walking with it.  His balance is getting better.  He even let go a few times and stood for several seconds.  I clapped and cheered.  Laci came over and had a look on her face like "What is the big deal?  I have been standing for years.  No one claps for me!"  

Last night during his bath, he did not follow directions when I told him to not dump the bowl of water out of the bathtub or onto me.  Instead, he continually dumped the bowl of water out of the bathtub and onto me.  He does have enough hair now to make the alfalfa sprout on top of his head.  That makes any bath just a little bit more fun.