Thursday, December 12, 2013

Almost ready

Having Christmas right after the birthdays, is, well,  a challenge. Besides all the energy I devote to making the birthday celebrations fun - they kids just got a slew of presents! We don't really do anything Christmas related until after the birthdays (except Advent Calenders. And this year we did the Lego and playmobile ones, which have been a huge hit). So I need to take a deep breath, regroup, and re energize to get Christmas up and running in our house.

Last week, we got our tree. Last night, we finally got the lights up outside. And today, after work, I'm driving the kids to my mom's town, where tomorrow, we'll get to see Santa! And again, this year, I'm in charge of the Christmas Eve Children's service. Christmas morning, we will wake up at our home, but we will then travel to Nantucket and see Aaron's family for another round of Christmas. And then I have the rest of the year off work to hang out, have fun with the gang, and hopefully relax.

As for gifts, the kids are not shy telling me (or the elf, who in turn tells Santa) what they want (Cam wants a Coast Guard Lego ship, and Maggie wants another big horse, and a small horse, and a ride on horse, lol).

In past years, I would feel like I needed to find other, fun things that the kids didn't ask for. I've pretty much learned that lesson. They want what they want. All the toys are ordered, I've gotten a bunch of new books, and a few cute clothes. All the other family gifts are purchased. We only have the stocking stuffers left - and we make that a fun trip together. I'm hoping to make a few hand print aprons for the grandmothers if we have time next week.

Feels good to be on top of things!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Leftovers

  • Oh my goodness. I just spent the past 5 hours blogging all the birthday fun we had, and there are still things we did the in the 2 weeks that I didn't post! What a crazy couple of weeks!
  • We spent Thanksgiving with one of my friends, and it was absolutely perfect. They have older kids (in 8th and 10th grade). They invited another family, that also had kids in the same grades, and wow. Were my kids in heaven. While all of them played, the adults enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of food and fun. I think it was my best Thanksgiving in years.
  • The day after thanksgiving was Maggie's birthday - all the fun can be found here.
  • Saturday, we took the kids to see the Nutcracker with my mother. At first, I almost only bought tickets for Maggie, but decided that Cam should go too. It was a blast. Both kids loved it.
  • Then I shifted gears to get ready for Cam's party and our mini-vacation to legoland and NYC.
  • I took Wednesday - Friday off of work. Wednesday and Thursday were our trip, but Friday the kids and I slept in and played with new birthday toys in the morning. That afternoon we trekked out and cut down our Christmas tree! Maggie picked it out, and Cam (with help from me) cut it down. It's the best tree we've ever gotten. It's about as wide as it is tall!
  • Saturday was supposed to be Cam's Ninja party, so I had a bunch of things planned in the morning so the setup would be a surprise, and in the afternoon for Maggie (so she wouldn't be in the house trying to get involved in the party). That plan all got quickly switched around when Cam got a stomach bug. Maggie, my mother and I all went into Boston for the SWEA Christmas Festival. We then went out to lunch and took Maggie together to her horseback riding lesson. Aaron stayed home to let Cam rest. We hoped by splitting up, maybe Maggie would avoid getting the same bug (which , fingers crossed, seems to have worked!)
  • Saturday night, I set up for a second run of my church craft table. I sold another $500 worth of crafts on Sunday - I was pretty proud of myself!
  • I got home from church just in time for Cam's awesome Ninja party!
  •  After the party was over, and I cleaned up, I realized I had time to go to our Christmas Vespers service, which was as recital of Handel's Messiah Part One. A perfect way to end a pretty crazy two weeks.
  • Now, I'm back home, taking a bit of downtime before things ramp up again for Christmas!

Maggie's birthday

I planned Maggie's birthday party months ago. Once I realized her birthday was the day after Thanksgiving, I decided that we should have an awesome birthday party at our house. I called McDonny's farm, and we planned to have a Pony Princess party in the morning, and then as a special treat, tea at American Girl in the afternoon.

Not many people would plan an outdoor party at the end of November. But I figured it wouldn't be too cold. How bad could it be? Well, the forecast was threatening a foot of snow two days before the party.... thank god that didn't happen.

Oh, and obviously I'm not a shopper. Because yeah. That's Black Friday. And American Girl is in the mall.

But, it all worked out perfectly.

Maggie woke up in the morning to all her presents. Here she is wearing the sweater I knit her (that she won't wear. Because it's too scratchy. God. Damn. It.)

But look at her face! I love watching her open presents.
This is the birthday banner I made for her - this one I sewed the flags and then freezer paper stenciled her name. You can kind of see the setup we did in the garage. I made coffee in the big vacuum urns that we use for coffee hour at church, and put a table with donuts, hot water for cocoa, coffee cake and banana bread.
Aaron had a space heater going in the garage, and that is where we had the 'petting zoo' - we had ducks, chickens, bunnies and a goat. The kids loved it!

And then the true highlight for Maggie - a pony!
I think she must have had 3 rides, she was SO happy. And Cam was delighted to be next in line.
Aaron also setup a fire pit, and I got smore's fixings. After people left, I asked Maggie what her favorite part was, and she said "The PONY! And marshmallows!!!!"
Aaron also made some very cool pony cakes. We have friends who are allergic to chocolate, so the lucky girl got two cakes.
For Maggie's party, I didn't plan any activities or even gift bags. I let the guests stay as long as they wanted, and even ended up ordering Chinese food for lunch for the people who stayed longer.

But we needed to leave to house around 2 as we needed to brave the parking lot at the mall for the second half of Maggie's birthday party. Now, I had originally just planned to do tea. But of course, about a month earlier, Maggie attended her best friend's birthday party at American Girl, and she was expecting the fancy hat and cake. Which we could of course do, for a fee. As I'm a sucker, we did that.

Here she is blowing out the candles on cake #2!
Then we walked through the mall a bit, and I had to take this picture. She looks more like 14, not 4, right!?!?

Happy 4th Birthday to my Big Girl!

Cam's Birthday, Part 2

After 4 years of birthday parties and just knowing my kids in general, it's obvious to me that while Maggie loves to be the life of the party, Cam just likes to be with his core group of friends. So my original plan was to have a small, but special birthday party for him at our house.* And with his Lego/Ninja obsession, I started looking at Ninago Party ideas. I got a huge amount of help and inspiration from these two blog posts at the Isoms blog and Movie Muse.

We averted a crisis when Cam woke up at 2:30 AM the morning before his party throwing up. And then again at 4:30. But then he was done, and thankfully, as it was such a small party, almost everyone could still attend if we moved it to Sunday. One kid canceled (his parents were afraid he would catch the bug) and Cam was more worried that we wouldn't have the full 5 ninja contingent than to worry that his friend couldn't come. He asked Maggie if she would stand in. And she was delighted to get to be with the boys! And thank god - because I had planned for her to go somewhere else on Saturday (because if she was here she would have wanted to be involved in the party, and Cam was very specific that it should be only 5 ninjas). But I had no alternatives for Sunday. It all worked out!

The first thing was to make the dining room look 'Ninja cool'. I used the Won Ton font (size 200) to freezer paper stencil a birthday banner:

A friend made a sweet ninja cake:

The party was at 2, so I didn't have much food. I got cheap, primary color bowls from the dollar store for pretzels, Doritos and cheese balls. Movie Muse shared all her printables, to enable me to make these cool water bottles and Ninja Power Boost packets (Kool Aid with a fun label).
And the big deal. The long sleeve tee shirts. Because you can make them into a ninja mask! Each kid got to pick what color he was (and that was the color water bottle they got too). HUGE HIT!
Here is a close up of Cam as the Green Ninja:
And the rest of the team (Maggie is the red ninja, love how she strikes a pose)
After the masks were on, they started training. First was the 'lazer' obstacle course. This was SUCH a big hit (and a fun, easy rainy day activity). They wanted to go through a bunch of times, and after all the training was done, asked to make it harder (thank god I had more crepe paper!)
Then they went downstairs to the garage where the training continued. They had plastic swords, foam nun chucks, and rubber throwing stars - all marked with tape the same color at their masks, so it was easy to tell whose was whose). Sensai Dad took them through the paces, which included training and then practice (by knocking down solo cups)
Maggie was also an expert at this (Cam was too fast to get any non-blurry pictures!)
After this, the kids picked up the boxes, and underneath Aaron had taped helium balloons to the floor and let them just go at it. I couldn't believe that some of the kids managed to pop the balloons with the plastic swords!

To end the training, Aaron presented Cam with a Golden Mask (another long sleeve tee shirt) because his friends helped him reach his 'full potential'. He was overjoyed.

Then we let them just play around with the weapons in the garage for a while, but when they started to get crazy in the 'dojo' - I lead them back upstairs to play Fruit Ninja on the x-box while I got the cake ready.

All in all, the party was a HUGE success. Although it looks like a lot of work, since I planned it so ahead of time, I was able to space all the DIY stuff out (except the banner. The banner was a last minute decision of a crazed mother). And the setup was quick - and this age group was the perfect fit for it. They would help pick up the solo cups for the next person, and patiently wait for their turn (only Maggie would get upset that she wanted to go again.). It was awesome.

* I usually have a group of neighborhood friends over for dinner on the actual birthday night. But we've made new friends in the neighborhood, and now that means I would have had 13 kids plus parents in my house. Hell. No. Which is why we moved it to McDs. And then, I just invited his school buddies too. It was great.

Cam's birthday, Part 1

When we asked Cam what he wanted for his birthday, he said Lego. I asked what kind of Lego, and he said "ALL THE LEGO". Sigh. I then asked what special thing he wanted to do for his birthday, and he said - "Stay home and play with all my Lego." So, yeah. He is obsessed. I came up with the idea to take a trip to a Legoland indoor Discovery Center about 3 hours from here, and that is what we did. We all drove together (see this post for my adventure with Maggie!) and Aaron and Cam had a great time. They spent the night in a hotel, Cam got to swim in the indoor pool there, and just got to spend some nice, one on one time with Aaron.

That adventure was actually on the 4th (his real birthday is the 5th). So we drove home on the 5th together, and made it home by about 1 in the afternoon. We rested a little, Cam opened the presents from us (he loved the Lego quilt!) and then the McDonald's party!
And what a hit. They have a Play Place at that McD's, and we had about 24 kids! They ran around like crazy, ate junk food, and just had a blast.

Here is my new 5 year old, wrapped up in his new Lego quilt. A great day all around!

NYC!

My plan for the anniversary of Nora's death couldn't have been a bigger success. Did I have moments of sadness? Yes. But I love my new plan of making it an awesome day - that Nora's short life should be celebrated. She changed our family in the 5 days she was with us - and a large part of the change is for the better. Do I wish I hadn't had to go through those dark days? Yes. Do I wish she was still here with us? 100% yes. But, we also have a strong focus on what is important in life, and how important enjoying and treasuring every moment is.

This trip was totally meant to be. Everything just worked out perfectly and we had a wonderful day. We left the house at 6 AM, knowing that we had a 3 hour drive to get to the Purdy train station. At that point, Aaron and Cam would drive to Legoland, and Maggie and I would catch the train to Grand Central. I had no idea what kind of traffic we would hit, but we sailed right through! And we were able to catch the perfect train - the 9:35 AM train that got us into NYC at 10:45. So we took a subway to my cousins apartment, got Maggie (and her doll) changed into her special dress - and we hit the streets of NYC!
She was so stinking cute that people actually stopped in their tracks to proclaim - Look! Isn't she cute!

Since we got into the city so early, we had time for lunch. I found out that American Girl Place was only a few blocks away from the Radio City Music Hall, and manged to get us into the 12:30 seating. This is where my cousin met us. She couldn't BELIEVE that place. Maggie was delighted.
We left lunch and on our way to Radio City Hall, I got this picture on my phone - Aaron and Cam had arrived at Legoland. He was so happy!
We walked to Radio City, and started noticing that the police were putting up barriers everywhere... turns out they were lighting the Christmas tree that night! My cousin was adamant that we got out of there ASAP after the show. I can't imagine what I zoo it would have been for the 9 PM lighting - people were already lining up at 4. We walked into the 2 PM show at 1:56.... again, perfect timing.

I took Cam to the Rockettes in Boston a few years ago, and it was great - but man. Nothing beats seeing it in NYC. They were amazing. And Maggie was transfixed. It helps that she is now taking dance lessons - so she was AMAZED at the tap dancing.

Afterwards, my cousin let us take a few pictures around Rockefeller Center before we jetted out - seriously. Could she be any cuter?!?
We walked across town to FAO Schwarz, because all little girls need to check that place out!
I was pretty sure we were going to have a meltdown (as she had been up at 5 AM, walked at least 3 miles, and it was now 5 PM) but she was delighted to get a super fancy face painting! And no toys! A true Christmas miracle.
From there, we walked to a huge candy store - Dylan's Candy Bar - can you see that face? I talked her out of the lollipop, but I did get her some candy buttons.
The rest of the evening was wonderful. We had a great dinner, then took a cab home. Maggie took a bath, played with my cousins and put herself to bed. And I got to spend a wonderful evening with my cousins and a few other friends playing cards and drinking.

The next day, we woke up just in time to make our way to Grand Central for the earlier train, and meet up with Aaron, so I could give my 5 year old boy a hug. As we pulled out of the train station, I asked Maggie if she had a good time. She told me, "Mama. It was a stupendous day! That is a fancy word for awesome!" (thanks to her new obsession with the Fancy Nancy books, she comes out with some awesome one-liners now).

When we met up with Aaron, the kids passed out quickly in the car. We both agreed that the day was a gift. We rarely get to spend one-on-one time with the kids, alone. Where they are our only focus. It was a perfect, wonderful day. Just like I had hoped it would be. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quilts

I spent a wonderful weekend in Portsmouth, NH for my annual quilting weekend. This was my 8th year going with my friends, and as usual, it was wonderful. A weekend away from reality, really. All our basic needs are met (food, drinks, and it's held in a B&B, so no worries). And we get 48 hours to indulge in a pastime we love. Some years, I've brought things totally ready to sew and completed multiple quilts in a weekend. Other years I've brought one thing, but stopped at a fabric store, saw soemthing that caught my eye, and made something completely different than planned. I've tried new techniques, made dolls, hobby horses, felt food, crib bumpers... so many fun things. But this weekend snuck up on me. I only had two kits in my stash - one a very simple quilt in fun fabrics, and the other? And insanely difficult quilt that I bought on a whim. Every time I took it out to start working on it, it was like - Damn. That is too hard!

So this weekend, I vowed to just go for it. I gave my friend all my other fabric and projects. Her job was to not allow me to get frustrated and stop. Or to take a break and get distracted. In the beginning, each row would take me about 30 minutes to cut, sew and iron. There were 43 rows total. By the end, I was down to about 20 minutes per row... but still. It was the hardest quilt I've ever made.

When I finished (at midnight on Saturday!) it all became worth it! Check this out!

I couldn't have done it without the help and encouragement of my friends! I'm thinking it will go in Maggie's room - she doesn't have a lot of art work in there. Cool, right?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Overthinking birthdays and the anniversary

I feel very strongly that birthdays should be celebrated. Made special. So I asked Cam what special thing he wanted to do on his birthday. He looked at me and said - I want to stay home from school and play with my Legos!. Um, OK. That would only be fun for about 2 hours, tops. And then I'd be home with a bored kid. So I started thinking. Maybe we could swing a trip to a nearby Legoland Discovery Center? But it's about 3 hours from here. So Aaron thought he would take him up the night before, and stay in a hotel - double fun!

I was acutely aware that this meant that I would be home alone on the anniversary of Nora's death. So I thought - I'll make a different fun plan. I looked around and came up with an idea of taking Maggie into NYC and seeing the Rockettes. Maggie has been taking dance lessons, so I thought this would be right up her alley. And - I have a super fun cousin that we could stay with!

Looking at the timing of everything, I was nervous that we wouldn't manage to get home in time for his McDonald's birthday party at 5:30 (did I mention this stroke of genius? I wanted to have a small birthday party for just his close friends on the weekend, but thought I could still do a dinner at our house on his actual birthday. Then I realized that would mean about 30 people at my house if I just invited the friends on the street. So I called the local McDonald's that has a play space. They do parties, and it's super reasonable!).

So last night, Aaron and I made a great new plan. All four of us will leave together on the morning of the 4th. Aaron will drop Maggie and I off at a train station and we will make our way into NYC for a matinee, a special dinner in the city and an overnight with my cousin. Cam and Aaron will go and do Legoland on the 4th, stay in a hotel (maybe with a pool!) and then in morning, Maggie and I will meet them at the train station so we can all be together on his birthday!

This is my new plan. Since I know that the 4th is going to be a hard day for me, I'm going to try and fill it with happy, joyful things. And remember the 5 days we had with Nora as a blessing, and celebrate the wonderful life we do have. I'm sure tears will be shed, but hopefully mixed in with some laughter too.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Parental Karma

For the past 6 months, I've noticed that my kids are in a sweet spot. They still think I'm awesome, but they play really well by themselves, are (mostly) past the tantrum stage, and are in general, really a lot of fun to be around.

This past week was the beginning of what I consider our party month. (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and both kids birthdays all within the same 36 days.) I have always hosted a group of people from daycare at our house for Halloween. It has been about 20 kids and their parents every year. Which I know sounds insane, but it just works out. All the kids have a blast. The parents will concentrate on their own kids (we certainly don't try to keep all the kids together for trick or treating) and whenever someone is done? They just walk back to our house and play with the kids toys, trade candy, and (hopefully) eat some of the healthy potluck food that I have people bring. I just accept that every toy in the house will be out, and I'll need to clean the downstairs the next day. It's a night where pretty much anything goes and we've always had a blast.

Friday night, we had neighborhood family over for movie night - and it was another great evening. The kids all played nicely together, the grown-ups got to sit and eat adult dinner and then even play some cards! Saturday, Cam had soccer while Maggie and I went to American Girl for a birthday party (and yes, we have totally gone down that rabbit hole, my friends). I got back, and asked the kids if they would be happy to hang out with Grandma while I went to swimming - "Sure, Mama!". Later in the afternoon, my cousin visited for dinner - someone they had never met, and they had a blast!

Sunday morning, I had planned to do a swim meet. My mom was still visiting, and I thought she could come after warm ups with the kids. But they wanted to go RIGHT NOW! Which I thought was a bit insane (I needed to swim for warm ups for about 45 minutes in the pool before the meet). But I said if they really wanted to, that they could come - and explained how it would be (they couldn't go in the water, I would be away for warm ups, they would have toys and food but needed to stay in one place) and they were all in. So, I risked it. And Oh. My. God. They were wonderful. We had a great time! My mom joined us later, but the kids wanted to stay on the deck and cheer for me and the team. They listened, made friends with my teammates, played nicely with each other and even were sad when it was time to go.

This whole weekend had so many places where things could have gone horribly wrong. They stayed up past 9 on both Thursday and Friday nights. We were moving and doing crazy things and meeting new people and being without Mama... no issues. It was wonderful. I went to bed on Sunday thinking how awesome my little family is.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mommy Time

Over a month ago, I was bemoaning to a friend that men so easily will say to their wives - 'Do you mind if I go away for the weekend?" and they will go. Not another thought. This is not saying that there is anything BAD about this. I think it's great. Everyone needs a break from 'real life' sometimes and a weekend is a nice chunk of time to do it. It's usual affordable in both cost and spare vacation time. But in my experience, not many woman do the same. Even if I'm able to find a very inexpensive place to go - many aren't able to break away from family life obligations.

I get frustrated, because I know that they COULD. It's just that they don't. And why is that? Why do women feel like the family can't run without us? Not only can it run without us, it should sometimes. It gives everyone a boost! Sure, sometimes plans don't work because of schedules or work or whatever, but I think it isn't fair to anyone to think that we are so important that we can never take time for ourselves.

Anyway - back to my story. Right as I was bitching about this inability of women to find time to go away, I got an email from another friend asking if anyone wanted to go to her house on the Cape for a weekend! Replies came back fast and furious and of the 6 of us that craft together, 5 could come. And for one reason or another, we were all in desperate need of a weekend away. It was perfect.

This is a group of women I met in a quilting class 10 years ago. Every time we do something like this, it reminds me that it's almost a miracle we found each other. We are a group of like minded women, who have the same hobbies, and really enjoy spending time together. I'm always happier after time spent with these women, and this weekend was no different.

We arrived on the Cape Friday, had a wonderful lunch. I had booked a massage, and then as the day wore on everyone arrived. We all had a project to work on, each of us contributed food and drinks and even brought our own sheets to make the weekend as stress-free for the woman whose house it was. Just a great weekend. I actually finished 2 full quilts! The Lego one I'm working on for Cam's birthday (just need to stamp on the Lego logo) and then a bonus one. We laughed, stayed up late, sung along to the radio, and commiserated.

Down time. Something everyone needs.

And Aaron. He was left in charge of a super busy weekend (2 Halloween parties, soccer practice for Cam, flu shot, and the kids sang in choir at church for the first time!) and the kids had a blast. Aaron was actually offended when I tried to give him 'help' by making him lists or asking if I should line up food - "I'm capable! Jesus!". Did I miss out on doing a few things with my kids? Yes. Is that the end of the world? No.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Preschool issues

We love the preschool that my kids go to. They have both been going there since they were 3 months old, and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It's a chain daycare, but the director was the most amazing woman. There was barely any turn over (VERY rare in a daycare setting) and all the teachers were wonderful. We had fun events in the evening that we could go to with the kids and the children were really ahead of the curve when compared to other kids (not that I'm biased or anything).


You may remember, about 6 months ago, I talked about the director being asked to leave. They assured us that it wasn't anything to do related to the children, and after MUCH drama, assured us that nothing would change, or if it did change, it would change for the better. I had my doubts, but rolled with it.

We've now come to the point where it is obvious that things are NOT better. Or the same. They are worse. We have lost several teachers, the ones that have been there forever seem unhappy, and the new director just doesn't rub me the right way. And it's frustrating. But until recently, I was continuing to accept it, as my kids were still happy and the classrooms were decent.

But then they switched Maggie's classroom. The old director always had 3 preschool groups: Young Preschool, Older Preschool, and Pre-K. And that was one of the things that drew me to this daycare, as I feel that a year difference when you are 2.9 versus 3.9 is HUGE. But the new director changed it to one Preschool class, and then a Kindergarten Prep class. When confronted, she says that this is what all the other centers in this chain do. Well, I didn't pick the OTHER centers, did I? And many of the other parents felt the same way. It's just hard to think that Maggie is getting great learning opportunities when half of her class is unable to sit still through a whole book or talk in full sentences. We lead a big push, and we convinced her to change back to the Young and Older Preschool classes in January - but after this year, they won't do it again.

And just as we are feeling pretty great about winning that battle, one of Cam's Kindergarten Prep teachers quit. I'm on the parent council, and she told us that there are 150 job openings in early childhood development, so it's been hard to find a replacement. I feel like we never had turnover issue like this in the past, so it's infuriating to me that we are dealing with it now. I also feel trapped, as it's really to late to switch Cam anywhere. And the only way I would pull Maggie for next year is if her best friend went with her. My kids are too comfortable there to risk pulling them out - and they are getting a good education there.

But during one of the parent meetings, I blurted out that 'We were promised that nothing would change, or if they changed, it would be for the better. That is NOT happening." Needless to say, I got an email from the director the next day asking for a private meeting so we could discuss my thoughts. That is tomorrow morning, and I'm not really looking forward to it. I frustrated and tired of needing to be sure that my kids get what they need. For the amount of money I'm paying for this center, I would expect I shouldn’t even need to worry about it (and I didn't for over 4 years!). To some degree, in the back of my mind, I remember my Nursery School when I was a kid. We just played together in the basement of the local church. And I turned out just fine. But on the flipside, I know what the kids before mine got, and I want the same level of excellence for them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Knitting Mojo

I used to knit ALL THE TIME. In the car, watching TV, while on the phone, in restaurants, at church... everywhere. I would have knitting in my bag at all times. As the kids have gotten older and more mobile and active, that has slowed down. My knitting moved to just at night while watching TV. In the past year, I've gotten back into swimming. And my swim team meets from 8-9:30 at night - which is my prime knitting time.

But I still love to knit. And want to knit things for the kids. And every once in a while, something will catch my eye that I have to make. This past week, I found two things that I absolutely MUST KNIT. One is for me. A nice roomy, sweatshirt like sweater. I bought this kit because I love the colors, and my friends. It's cashmere. And then I saw this pattern. An Icelandic sweater for girls. With horses. And I already own the yarn it calls for. So yes. Yes. Yes. Yes!

But. I was still knitting a scarf that I HAD TO HAVE last Christmas that Aaron bought for me as a kit. The pattern is called Leftie, and is fun to knit (garter stitch only), but I just wasn't making the time to finish it. As I had already ordered the cashmere kit and the horse pattern, I forced myself to finish the knitting on that before the new kit arrived. And oh my, do I love the finished project!

It's the perfect colors for the fall, and I love wearing it! Hurrah!

So, now I just need to make time to ball up the new yarn, and wait for the other colors of Maggie's sweater yarn to arrive! I hope to have the Horse Sweater finished for her birthday. We shall see.

This weekend I have a planned getaway with my girlfriends, and I'm hoping to make a quilt for Cam for his birthday. It's going to be based on this Lego quilt I found. I'm considering doing the Lego stamps in the colors of the fabric (like it is on real Lego's) and using fabric paint instead of ink. I need to decide kind of quickly, as I'm leaving Friday morning for the weekend!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ha

This is the longest I have ever gone without posting. I was toying with the idea of quitting blogging. But then I realize that I need this space. I need a place to ramble on about my kids and post pictures of our fun adventures and vent about my worries and stresses. I'm back, my friends.

I'll have to do a random bullet point post to do a quick catch up.

  • We did our first 'real' family vacation in September. With another family, we rented a house on the cape for a long weekend. It was wonderful. We usually use our vacation time to visit family or stay home and do projects, and this trip made it apparent that we need to get away more often. The kids had a BLAST and it was a perfect weekend.
  • I turned 38 on September 18th... and had a perfect day. I took the day off work, was woken up by two sweet kids that were VERY excited to give me presents, I spent the morning at a spa and the afternoon shopping. Alone. And then shared the evening with friends and had cake.
  • The fall has gotten us back into the swing of things - school is back to normal, and the kids have started new activities. Cam is old enough for town soccer and Aaron is coaching. Maggie is taking dance class (which I swore she would never do, but she is LOVING it).
  • One of the reasons I swore we wouldn't do dance is just because it's only taught during the week when I'm working. But I have a friend with 3 girls around Maggie's age, and she was willing to take Maggie. Now it's Maggie special thing, and she LOVES it.
  • We've also started up at church again (we are Unitarian Universalists, and we really don't have formal church in the summer) and both Cam and Maggie have joined the Children's Choir. Maggie was all in Day 1, Cam took more convincing and still isn't 100% sure he wants to sing in front of the whole church. But the woman in charge is smart - she gives out cupcakes at the end of practice. After a couple of weeks of watching Maggie get a cupcake while he didn't.... all of a sudden Cam was interested in singing.
  • I ran the Craft Table at our annual church fair again and it was a big success. It's a lot of work, but I'm glad that it's taken off. In year's past, the craft table barely made $200. The past 2 years, we've got it over $1000.
  • I have of course already figured out the plan for the kids birthday parties and ordered invites. Cam wanted to have a small party at the house. So Aaron is planning a whole Ninja Training day with his very best buddies at our house - which will be the Saturday after his actual birthday. I usually invite a few neighbors over on his actual birthday for pizza dinner. I realized that we now are friends with so many neighbors - that if I only invite the people within walking distance, it's 13 kids plus their parents. So I got the genius idea to call the nearby McDonald's (they have a playspace) and see if they still do birthday parties. I know to an adult it sounds lame - but to a 5 year old? Heaven! I still remember going to a McDonald's birthday party when I was a kid. I loved it.Turns out not only do they do parties, but they give you 'minimal decorations, a cake, 8 Happy Meals and a little gift bag" for a VERY reasonable price! 
  • So yes, Cam is basically having two birthday parties. Whatever. I think it's awesome.
  • And Maggie will be having a petting zoo and a pony for her party. Which will blow her mind.
  • We went to a birthday party this weekend at the most amazing place. It was for my niece, and it was an hour drive - but WOW. Only downfall was that they had a game where you can win betta fish. And guess who won? Both my kids! Yippee. So I had to go and spend $100 to get fish tanks for the free fish. But I'm fine with it. I feel like fish are a right of passage to some degree.
OK - that is about everything I have to share that I can in quick blurbs. I promise to post more regularly! 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Party Girl

I'm the girl that gets people together. I plan parties, play dates, and love it when people drop by. I love to see people having fun, I love to have big groups of friends together, and I'm always scheduling the next party. It started before we had kids - Aaron and I would have weekend BBQs 'just because' and at least 2 times a week would have friends over for dinner. Now that we have kids, things need to be a bit more organized AND the get togethers tend to be more hectic. But I love it.

It's been a stressful month for no more reason than I personally felt stressed over small things... so when Labor Day weekend was approaching, I had nothing planned. Not really like me. But then, we started getting invitations. People I've randomly invited to a BBQ, a birthday party, our block party, our Halloween party - they are all having get togethers this weekend, and we are invited. To 4 parties over three days.

I think this is awesome for many reasons. First, I honestly think that people are a lot more 'me' focused. When I was a kid, I feel like it was much more often that we would be at an impromptu dinner or movie night or BBQ than we see now. People are too busy or too scheduled or just to wrapped up in themselves to just have time to socialize like we used to. So when people invite us over - I feel like they are reaching out of the 'norm' and their 'shell', and it makes me happy. Last weekend, when Aaron was away, we were asked to dinner at a friends house - I thought I was being smart when I promised that we would stay until it was bed time for the kids at that house. Turns out it was movie night and they were planning on staying up until at least 9 watching Epic. I looked at the parents, and was like - do you play cards?! And we sat down, I taught them my favorite card game (pounce) and we had a wonderful night!

Also - each of the parties we are going to this weekend are all with different groups of friends, so I'm going to get to hang out with a bunch of people I like and rarely get to see. My final party observation? I feel like sometimes, people just don't do get togethers because they seem like a lot of work. And honestly? Sending an invite out to a party is really putting yourself out there! Insecurities abound - what if no one shows up? What if they get here and they don't like my house/food/kids/dog?!  What if no one has fun?

So, whenever I get invited to a party (if possible, of course) we go. And we always have fun.

But it means that I'm going to 4 parties where I have to supply a side dish! Thankfully, my CSA is overproducing the most delicious Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes. (side note - if you only have space for one tomato plant in your yard - it should be this one. Most. Perfect. Tomato.) I'm pretty sure that I have eaten about a 1/2 a pound of these suckers a day since they started producing.... and I'm often turning them into a real lunch by just cutting them in half and mixing them up with chickpeas, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and basil. So I thought, if I added some orzo to that - it would be an amazing pasta salad! I'll report back if it's a success (it had better be - I'm going to make like 10 pounds of it, lol).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Catch up

I haven't posted in ages. I'm mostly a bit overwhelmed with drama. Not even major drama. Just wishing that the people in my family were less dramatic about everything. When I tell the stories to people, it doesn't even seem all that bad - but it's the constant, nagging drama that has built up to drive me nuts.

BUT.

In between drama sessions with various family members - we've continued to have a great summer.

  • The kids LOVED the drive in movie. Maggie continues to say 'Momma! Remember? That one time? When we saw the movie on the BIG screen (insert big arm gesture here) UNDER THE STARS?
  • We also had some amazing weather in Nantucket - and got to spend a lot of time on the beach. Cam, who used to be afraid of the water - was having a blast being tossed around in the waves! Aaron even taught him how to boogie board.
  • I made a whole plan to swim at another pool with some friends, only to find out - the first time we met to swim, that they are ALSO closed for two weeks for maintenance. I figured, OK, I'll just swim once a week on Saturday's (at a different pool) and what do you think I then find out? Yup. That pool is also closed for two weeks. So I'm into a new plan with a guy at work who does triathlons. We are going to swim at a local lake during lunch and just smell like pond water for the afternoon.
  • In other swimming news, I won my age group in a race this weekend. It happens to be the New England Masters Long Distance Swimming Championship, so I'm a champion. You may prefer to call me Her Supreme Swimness. I'll answer to either.
  • Aaron is away for along weekend with his friends, so I had a lot of fun with the gang. They came with me to the swim race (along with Suzanne) and we had a fun day with a nice picnic. Sunday, Cam spent the day with a friend at Davis Farmland and Maggie and I got some one on one time at the local 4H fair.
  • But two kids, alone, even with a lot of help is a lot of work! Hats off to you that do it a heck of a lot more than I do.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers

  • Maggie has had a week of sickness - I feel so bad for her. She had the stomach issues late last week, and then the cold, which then triggered an ear infection. Although she's finally on the mend now.
  • We had plans to go to the Bolton Fair on Thursday - we have made it a tradition to go the opening night. We go and buy bands for the kids to let them go on as many rides as they want, but a lot of the other things aren't open yet. Since Maggie was still complaining of an earache, and there was a 50% chance of rain, so we decided to go on Saturday instead. It will be a lot more crowded, but more things to see. And thankfully, the weather looks like it'll be beautiful.
  • Sunday we are headed to the cabin, as my mom is going to watch the kids while I work on Monday/Tuesday.
  • I looked and found out that the drive in theater near my mom is playing Planes this weekend! So I'm going to brave the potential disaster of the kids staying up super late, and take them to their first drive in movie! I'm even going to take Aaron's truck instead of my car, so we can do it all out - by backing the truck up, throwing in folding chairs, blankets and citronella candles. I'm excited. And nervous.
  • I'm also a little nervous about having my mom watch the kids Mon/Tuesday as there was a lot of drama last visit.
  • The pool that my swim team uses closes down for a month starting this weekend. I'm still totally on track for swimming 200 miles by the end of the year, but it's so much less fun to swim alone. I'm at 120 miles. I love swimming, but I think if I didn't have my 200 mile goal, it would be so easy to slack off without my teammates to be accountable to.
  • I've already started planning the kids birthday parties. Only 3 months ahead of time.
  • Oh! And I also started doing bento boxes for the kids. Super fun, and surprisingly easy! I'm excited to hear if the kids eat everything I made them today. I did a 'normal' lunch (grapes, sandwiches, a hard boiled egg, and a bag of gummies), but I made them using super cute cutters, and then packed them in a fun new lunch box. Then added cute little food picks. I'm hoping this will lead to more lunch getting eaten, and getting away from some of the reliance we started having on using lunchables (bows head in shame).

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Random

So many random things this week.

Maggie recovered really quickly from that stomach bug, but now has a cold. Which means sometime in the not so distant future, I will also have a cold. Blech. We took a trip to the zoo and also found a local, public swimming pool! Free! Totally free, you don't have to prove that you live in the town it's in - and even free parking. I'm happy.

Suzanne, my children's favorite grown up, has been hanging out with the kids for the past two days. I love it that they love her. Because I love her. And she doesn't have kids, and it's great to share mine with her. They went to see Turbo yesterday (along with other adventures) and today are at the Museum of Science.

I'm starting to plan the kids birthday parties. Yes. 5 months in advance. But I'm looking to go a little smaller scale this year and hoping to save some money. So trying to schedule things that book up quickly (maybe have a pony come to our house for pony rides!) and find easy things to do at my house.

Smaller scale and money savings because we are considering a REAL vacation this year. At first we thought maybe Disney - but as we aren't planning on going more than once we are going to hold off until next year when Maggie is 5 and Cam is six. So we are thinking of a tropical vacation! In March! You people have no idea. Aaron is NOT a tropical vacation sort of guy, but his family is renting a house in Mexico for a full month, and has invited everyone to sign up for a week. The house is right on the beach, but also has a pool.

This week is the last week my swim team practices for a full month. The pool completely shuts down for about 6 weeks. So I'm trying to get a few women together to meet with me at a different pool so I don't loose my momentum. I've been swimming consistently for over14 months now! A month off seems insane.

The weather here has been completely amazing this week. Low humidity, cool nights... heaven.

This month's plan for child care has the kids out of daycare Monday/Tuesday (hence Suzanne hanging out with them yesterday and today). So this weekend, I'm headed up to my mother's on Sunday so she can watch the kids while I work remotely Monday and Tuesday. We will see how it goes. Things were a little rough last time she watched them - nothing bad with the kids, just that it was hard for her (and she won't admit it) and hard for me (because she is insanely negative).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers

  • This was quiet a week. It was the last week for a big part of my office. Many are relocating, and a few are taking the severance package. I'm assuming I'm headed the same way within the next year, but for now, I'm working in a very empty office. It's sad.
  • But it meant that this week was filled with goodbyes and taking friends out to lunch. Blech.
  • Also, my swim team practices were canceled all week due to an 'incident' in the pool. So I haven't gotten to work out this week - and it's made me tired! Which is pretty interesting, actually.
  • Maggie's tummy has been out of sorts all week, and when she woke up this morning, she kept telling me she was going to throw up. Of course, I didn't believe her. Got everyone all set in the car and we were on our way to school - what do you think happened? Puke everywhere.
  • She's been home with me sleeping all day. I had forgotten that she sleeps with her eyes open. It's creepy!
  • Tonight I'm hosting another Lia Sophia party. I hope it's as much fun as the first one I had!
  • Praying that Maggie feels better quickly so we aren't housebound all weekend.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tye Dye Party

The tye dye party this weekend was a HUGE hit! Here are the kids VERY happily wearing a few of the finished products:

I want to share with everyone how we did it, because it went off really well, and was fun for everyone. It's a great summer party idea. I will say that most of my parties end up being super fun because I've got a great group of friends nearby with children in the same age group.

No matter what the party, I usually tell everyone that I am providing x (for this party it was Mai Tais for the grownups) and to please bring a snack/side dish to share. Since this party was also a tye-dye party, I asked for people to kick in to pay for the dye, and I offered to do a group buy for shirts and have people reimburse me. I found an awesome place to get tie dye here. They have group kits, so I used that as a starter and got a few more colors to add to the mix.

We had 19 kids, and everything went totally smoothly. Here are my tips:
  • Mix the dye (and with kids this little, we only had the grown ups touch the dye.) and soak the shirts in the soda ash ahead of time.
  • I had a table where the kids could do the tying (we used elastic bands) and only showed them 4 easy ways to tie (great tutorial here. I showed the spiral, the bulls eye, the fan and the little circles.). I didn't get all complicated.
  • Aaron sat right next the table with the dyes - the kids would direct him which colors and where on the shirt to put it.
  • The rest of the night, the kids ran around and just had a blast. We ended up ordering pizza and playing until we got rained out.
  • I let the shirts sit for 24 hours and then had a friend help me rinse all the dye out (omg this took forever). Then we used the detergent that they included in the kit, and the shirts were done.
  • I delivered them right away so the kids would still be excited about them, and I've been getting the cutest pictures all morning of everyone wearing the shirts!
For next time, I may change a few things:
  • Have this party earlier in the summer, so the kids have longer to actually wear the shirts!
  • Get more detergent, and send each family home with their own shirts to rinse. That was a bit too much work after also hosting the party.
  • I would mix up about 50% less dye in the beginning. I ended up throwing a lot of mixed dye away because it loses it's potency after time.
  • And I will buy orange instead of trying to mix it myself. It's my son's favorite color and I didn't really get a true orange myself.
Now to have an 'after-dye' party so we can get a picture of everyone wearing the shirts!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Night Leftovers

  • The week of camp is over.
  • I would say full success for Maggie, not so much for Cam.
  • The fact that Maggie's camp was all about ponies (her favorite thing) and was only 3 hours a day - that is what made it a success.
  • Here she is after the camp Horse show. She came in First place in Command Class, Third in Obstacle Course (her horse kind of walked away with her, lol) and second in Equitation (doing the different positions she was taught this week). The cuteness factor was INSANE.
  • Cam, on the other hand, was kind of thrown into the middle of a camp where many of the kids had been together few at least a few weeks, and I often forget how shy he is. So camp was a bit of a challenge. He does report back everyday that he is having fun, but I think it's rough for him.
  • I'm SUPER happy that we have a week of 'normal' next week. We'll get everyone rested and back in the swing of things (including me!)
  • A while back, I decided I wanted to make tie dye shirts with the kids. I looked into it, and the high quality dye was pricey - but if I invited a few friends and we shared the cost.... that would work.
  • In the end, I think we have about 16 kids coming over to tye dye shirts. So, along with parents, we are up to about 30 people. So it's obviously a party. I turned it into a Tye Dye Mai Tai party. Lets pray for no rain.
  • And now? I'm off to start my weekend!
  • Thursday, July 25, 2013

    Camp Stress

    So camp. I thought this week was going to be AWESOME. The kids would be SO excited for camp that everything would be super easy, make some great memories, and we'd be sad that camp was over by Friday.

    Well. While camp IS great and the kids are making wonderful memories, I think I'm getting a little preview into the stress of the morning that comes when kids start school. Our current routine is very easy and free right now - the kids wake up when they wake up, eat what they want (or nothing if they don't), and we go to school when we go to school. And that is what we did the first day. Both kids woke up all excited for camp, got dressed right away, and eat a small breakfast. When I picked up Maggie at camp, she was face down crying in the barn because she wanted a wand (aka a crop) and they wouldn't let her have it (obviously). So I got her calmed down, and asked if she ate her snack? Turns out they didn't stop for snack.

    Oh.

    And of course the 15 year old girls running Pony Camp didn't think about snack for the youngest kid there. But that was her only problem, she has been wonderful and excited all week.

    Cam though - Cam is in camp every day from 9 - 4. No stopping, no naps, and lot of activity. He is 100% having a blast, but when he gets home, he is totally overtired, and eats the equivalent of 2 dinners. And as I'm a summer camp novice, I didn't think before signing both kids up for different camps during the same week, with the same drop off times would be an issue. And it really wasn't. I dropped Maggie off on my way to work, and Aaron dropped off Cam. And here is the trouble. Aaron is a novice drop off guy. Yesterday, when he went to drop off Cam, Cam starting getting upset and asking him to stay. This happens maybe once a month at daycare - and what I do is get down at Cam's level, give him a big hug and a kiss, tell him I'll be back at the end of the day, love him lots and to have fun. I then turn and walk away (and the daycare people usually divert his attention). Well, apparently Aaron couldn't take Cam getting upset as he left, so he try to talk him down, and Cam just would cry harder and harder as he tried to leave. It was a disaster. Aaron called me after 45 minutes of crying from Cam asking me wht he should do?

    I eventually had to go to Cam's camp, tell Aaron to go, walk Cam to the camp director (who runs a preschool during the school year) and just leave. What a nightmare! And of course, Cam had a blast all day. But poor Aaron - he was a wreck all day worrying about Cam and how sad he was.

    All in all - great week. Maggie is having SO much fun at Pony Camp (I hope to get a video of her Horse Show tomorrow) and Cam is off on a field trip today! Next week though, I can go back to letting the kids wake up whenever, not stressing about them eating enough breakfast to not be cranky, and have them back in the care of the daycare we love so much. I'm looking forward 100% to a normal week of daycare next week!

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Summer done right

    I haven't been updating here too much, but it's not because we aren't doing anything. It's because we are doing too much!

    But it's mostly too much of a GOOD thing. Last week we were at a lake for 3 full days. One with a good friend we haven't hung out with for a while, who lives on a lake, 2 children (5 and 7 years old) and has boats. Oh my god, did the kids have fun. We also had two birthday parties, and then prepping for camp this week.

    Both kids were super excited for camp. Maggie is going to a local barn from 9-12 each day for Pony Camp. I signed her up in March. The summer has flown by so quickly that I had yet to go to the tack shop and get her the supplies she needed (riding boots and special riding pants). My mom was here helping Thursday/Friday - so I sent her with Maggie to a horse consignment shop. She came home totally outfitted and ready to go!

    Too cute, right?

    Cam is off to our local town recreation department camp. It's a very nice, low key camp. They seem to spend most of their time at the town beach, which is perfect, I think.

    After Aaron and I had both kids deposited at camp, I realized how nervous I was. This was the first time that either child has been with people who weren't our daycare or very trusted family/friends. Of course, I was sure that both places are great places for my kids to be at (or I wouldn't have signed them up) but it was a little unnerving!

    In the end, both kids had a great day. And tired! And very excited for day 2 of camp.

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Maine

    We had an AMAZING long weekend in Maine. This is becoming an annual trip (we've been in  2010 twice, and 2012) that we all look forward to. The village her house in in, Bayside, is quiet possibly the most beautiful place. The weather this year was perfect, and we had a great visit. I must have said to my friend 50 times on Saturday 'This is great'. Maggie's favorite part was 'sticking her toes in the deep, deep ocean' and Cam - well Cam managed to get onto all the boats in the harbor (he went for multiple rides in Lucas's launch, charmed his way onto a friend's Boston Whaler - and they let him drive that one - and we all went on the family's sailboat.)

    This the beach - not your normal beach, but a pretty rocky one. Cam's legs have scrapes everywhere from all his exploring:

    Walter, my friend's husband, is a big sailor and he took us out on their sailboat. Cam's face was plastered with that smile the entire time. Walter let him 'drive' most of the trip.
    The water there is VERY cold (like 62 degrees). Every day I would put on my bathing suit, and go with the kids to the beach, but they would never venture in. On Sunday, I was planning on heading home at noon. We went down to the dock to say good-bye to the ocean, and for the the first time, I didn't put on my suit. Wouldn't it figure that both kids wanted to get in! Luckily, Lucas, the older son, was with us, and got in with the kids. And a really nice guy dove down to the bottom and got a sand dollar to show Maggie. She loved it.
    But in normal Maggie-style, got very concerned that the sand dollar missed it's family, so she gently put him back in the water. She is so gentle with animals.

    And this was the last picture I took - saying goodbye to the park as we walked up to the house to get ready to leave.

    I can't say it enough how much I love this stage. Both kids are really wonderful right now. Brave enough to try new things, excited to make new friends, and just all around a joy to hang out with. Even just 6 months ago I would be totally wiped out from spending a long weekend alone with them - but now? I had a wonderful time watching them do their own thing, and I got to reconnect with a friend I rarely hang out with. It was re-energizing.

    Perfect weekend. 

    Of course, we are now suffering from over-tired kids! They did sleep amazingly well at night there, but being out in the sun running around all day with no naps? We are in catch-up mode now (and me too!).

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    Road Trippin'

    We (Aaron is staying home) are heading out tomorrow to Maine for our annual trip to visit friends. This is the family with my kids very best BIG KID friends and my girlfriend has her own business and is super busy - so much so that I rarely get her to reply to a text message, forget a real phone conversation. So we are all super excited to spend some time with our favorite people. We always have a great time when we are there - it's a great location - right near the water with great rocky beaches to explore. This year they have finally finished refurbishing a sailboat - so we may even get to go on cruise.

    But right now, I'm running around making sure I've got the right movies loaded in the USB sticks, proper clothing packed and the right snacks so we can (hopefully) sail right up to Maine in the morning. We are planning on only one stop to pick up my girlfriend's CSA, and then I'm hoping the novelty of a new dual screen DVD player keeps them occupied for 3.5 hours.

    Pray for me.

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Weekending

    I just got back from the most wonderful long weekend. It’s the first of many this summer, as we have changed from the very easy for us 5 day a week daycare to a bit of a cobbled together child care plan. Our usual week has the kids in daycare 9 hours a day, and we will spend about 4 awake hours with the kids during the week, and the weekends are busy.


    The past 5 days were certainly busy, but a different kind of busy. We visited the zoo, we celebrated the 4th, went to parties. But I also had blocks of time where I just sat and watched my kids. And honestly, it was a gift. Because I’m not with them 24X7, I don’t get to see just how great they really are. We spent the entire day at the lake on Friday while Aaron was at work. It was awesome for many reasons, but I pretty much got to watch Cam figure out how to swim. All day he tried different things, got braver and braver, and by the end of the day? Swimming without a bubble. Insane.

    Maggie spent the entire day on the edge of the lake making little imaginary worlds. It was a camp day, so we would stay constant, but new batches of kids would appear every few hours, and Maggie would rope new groups of girls into playing with her… so great to watch.

    Midway through the day, the ice cream truck came. I handed the kids money and they ran up the hill to get their treats, no worries about being away from me and SO excited that they paid themselves. I love it. I just think this is such an amazing age to experience. Things are clicking in their brains and they are learning. The work that Aaron and I have put in over the years of consistent parenting and messages – I think it’s finally paying off. They know what is OK to do (most of the time) they know what they are capable of, and now they just DO it.

    It was only five days off, but it was awesome.

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    Rain?

    It was supposed to rain all weekend, so I made indoor plans for both Saturday and Sunday. But when Saturday ended up being rain-free, I decided to just wake up and take the kids to the town beach after breakfast and stay outside until the rain came. As I was packing up the swim bags, one of my friends (whose son is Cam's very best friend) called and asked if we wanted to go hang out at the very exclusive pool she belongs to.


    Um. YES.

    We thought we'd only get a few hours in, but the rain never came. We spent 6+ hours swimming, using their splash pad, jumping off the diving board - they even had staff organizing dodge ball games and crafts! It was an amazingly fun day. The thing that really made it extra special is that Cam's friend can swim. Cam watched him stick his head under water and jump off the diving board and he was all in. By the end of the day, Cam was swimming under water, diving for those dive ring things and just having a BLAST.

    My dad used to always say to me 'Give success a chance to happen'. I love raspberries. And Maggie loves raspberries. Going to a pick your own patch is wicked expensive, and so is buying them (even in season). But I know someone at my church that is often talking about her raspberry patch and offering up 'volunteers' to those interested in starting their own patches. Her house was right on the way home from the fancy pool, so I called to see if we could pop over and pick some berries. She was more than happy to let us over.

    Cam was so funny. He said to me - I don't like eating these - but I LOVE picking them!


    Maggie ate more than got in the container.
    But, the raspberry patch was outside the fence. So we didn't know about all the exciting things INSIDE. They happen to have the most awesome dog, Max, who loves raspberries. In this picture, he is 'begging nice' for Maggie to give him one. She was enchanted with this dog!
    Then, the kids turned their head and saw the trampoline. OMG. So happy.
    Needless to say, they kids were wiped out last night. Cam was asking if it was past his bedtime at 6:30. They both passed out in seconds when they laid down. And Aaron is willing to put in a raspberry patch in our yard! To say I'm excited is an understatement.

    Happy weekend - and excited for my short week at work this week!

    Friday, June 28, 2013

    Friday Night leftovers

    • It's offical. Summer is here! Yesterday was the last day of school in my town, and pre-k graduation at my kid's school. Cam is starting Pre-K in the fall and is super excited about it.
    • I'm a little worried about it, because it's a more structured environment for him, and he has his group of friends that we call the Fearsome Foursome. They will all be together in Pre-k, and I just have a bad feeling about it.
    • So bad, in fact, that for the first time, I'm asking for a parent/teacher meeting at school to talk about their plans to handle (and hopefully spilt up) the 4 of them.
    • It's been raining here for a week, and the forecast is for rain for through next week.
    • We are supposed to ride in our local 4th of July parade in an antique car, and I literally hope it doesn't rain on our parade!
    • This past week I hit 100 miles total swum for the year. To non-swimmers, that may not sound like a lot, but to give you an idea - at a normal swim team practice we swim about 2 miles, and it takes 90 minutes.
    • This week also marks a full year that I've been back in the pool. I'm so glad that I'm back to it.
    • This week I was super proud that I had 'kept up' with my CSA (eating/cooking up all the veggies). Then I realized it was Thursday, not Tuesday, and I had missed a pick up. Sigh.
    • Cam has been asking a lot of questions about God. I guess one of his buddies at daycare has been talking about it a lot. On our way to school the other day, I had this funny converstation:
      • Cam: Mommy, is God a good guy?
      • Me: Yes, he is a good guy.
      • Cam: So are dogs. And alligators!
    • So at first, I was like - OMG what do I say to him about god. And then I realized, after talking to the mom of the boy who has been talking a lot about god - that the stories in the Old Testament, they are a lot like super hero stories. So of course Cam is totally interested in God. If you ask him, he thinks that God is bigger than a giant! And people can fly up with jet packs to see him!

    Wednesday, June 26, 2013

    Fat fat fat

    If you've read me for any length of time, you know I'm fat. And don't say I'm not. Because I know. But I don't mind being called that anymore, because if I did mind it, then I would be ashamed of myself. I'm not. After a lifetime of wishing I could wear 'normal' clothes, and always wanting to order a donut but not because of whatever version diet I was on at the time didn't allow donuts or just the general frustration over the fact that I have always exercised and eaten pretty well and never seem to be able to lose weight, I finally said ENOUGH. That is the point that I threw out the crappy wardrobe that I've been wearing 'just until I lose weight' (most things bought at Target 5 years before) and just stopped the self hate.


    This body of mine? It's done a whole hell of a lot of awesome things. And it still does.

    I have to admit when I found out Cam was a boy, I was secretly relieved because I was VERY worried about passing on my body issues to a daughter. Then, I found out I was pregnant with twin girls? I couldn't stop smiling for days - so it's kind of sad to me that my only thought was of body issues and not the excitement of having a girl. I read and thought and stressed out about how I would deal with it. And I find that when I hang out with other mom's of girls, it’s a big topic of discussion. I think that now with the whole 'war on obesity' it's even harder to get a good message to your kids. FAT = BAD! No consideration for how bodies change and grow throughout life in preparation for puberty, etc.

    So on that day, 4 years ago, I decided that I needed to throw away my worries about my size, and worry about my BODY. We always eat healthy. Yes, we go out for ice cream, but most things are done in moderation. We don't smoke nor do we drink excessively. And we exercise regularly. And then, studies like this come out. If you study and compare people who are fat versus thin and their 'healthy habits' (great visual here) that fat people can be as healthy as thin people.

    I talk to a lot of people about exercise, and I hear the same thing over and over - no matter how much I work out - I'm not losing weight! And that makes me cringe. People give up on exercise all together because their only goal is to be smaller - not to have a stronger, more healthy body at whatever size it may be. Or thin people who don't exercise because they don't need to (thinking that since they are thin they are automatically 'healthy'. Sorry folks, not how it works.) I know from years and years of exercise that I don't lose weight from working out - but damn do I still get a lot out of it. Stress reduction, different social circle, personal quiet time, and better sleep!

    So I've decided that is my message to both kids. Don't worry about the SIZE of your body. Worry about what you can DO with that body. And love it for what it can do, not what it looks like.

    Tuesday, June 25, 2013

    LIfe is a Pie

    This is an extension of what I was saying yesterday. Time. Everything takes time. You need to decide what to do with that time, because you only get a certain amount of it. This is not a groundbreaking discovery.

    When I was struggling to get pregnant, I was seeing a therapist. At the time, besides the whole issue of infertility, I was struggling with just starting to have our own home and be a wife. In Aaron's family, every woman has an amazing garden. They can their own pickles. Aaron's aunt still irons her SHEETS. My mom always baked her own bread. Her house was perfectly clean, all the time. As I was struggling that with all the hormonal crap of infertility, I didn't understand how these people did it all! He helped me with a lot with his explanation that life as a pie. The size of the pie - it never changes. What you do with your 'pie' that is what shifts. He asked me - when do you remember your mom baking that bread? Was it when she was first married? With small kids? Just starting out her career? Doubtful. He reminded me to find what was important to me, and to have that be what I worry about spending my time on.

    For Aaron and I, before we had kids, we were big into triathlons and working out. When I wasn't swimming or running or biking, I was knitting. And we used to go out a lot on 'dates' - out to dinner, out to movies, and spending time with friends.

    Here would be my sample pie from a 'perfect' week. Working a normal day, a 1.5 hour workout (the 'health' part of the pie), sitting and knitting, and spending a small amount of time cooking/cleaning/laundry.
    And then there is now. I've changed from working out 1.5 hours a day to hoping I can fit in about 5 hours of swimming a week (and those 5 hours include travel time to the pool). My only 'hobby' is really just reading a book before I fall asleep. I thankfully am at a time in my kids life where I still manage at least 6 hours of sleep a night - but usually 8. The housework is more - because we have a bigger house and more people to clean up after. So I've hired a cleaning service to help with that. And then there is the whole classification of 'kid stuff' - making lunches, giving baths, reading books, going to tee-ball, play dates, building blocks.
    Sure. There have been weeks when my pie is totally taken up with unexpected things - caring for a sick kid, or Christ, dealing with grief.... things that need to take over for that time. But in normal life, when I get overloaded - I take a deep breath and visualize my pie. What is eating it all up? What do I need to change to get things back to normal? Manageable? What do I do that makes me feel better?

    Just a year ago, I didn't spend ANY time working out. I spent that time sitting on my butt knitting or watching TV. But now, I use that time to swim. It's a vital part of my mental AND physical health.

    It's a great visual for a statistics geek like me.

    Monday, June 24, 2013

    Away

    Last week I took a planned trip away. In normal Cece-style, I invited all my friends, as I was renting a house that sleeps 10 people. But everyone was busy, breast-feeding still or had just gone on vacation and couldn't take time off. Only one friend could come, and only for one night. So I went on Wednesday after work and was home with the kids for dinner on Friday. It was wonderful.


    This is my thing. I think Aaron and I have a pretty great balance going. We both work. I take the kids to school in the morning, he picks them up at night. We all hang out together until bedtime. Two times a week I go to swim team while he stays home with sleeping (hopefully) kids, and on the weekend I will go swim for Saturday afternoon, and I usually take the kids somewhere alone on Sunday afternoon. The rest of the time we spend together having fun. Aaron goes away a few times a year for long weekends with his friends, I do the same. We also take family vacations, date nights and more recently have even been doing nights away as a couple, without the kids.

    I'm sure that what works for us is not what works for everyone, but I know that I really needed that 24 hours of complete alone time. I had dinner alone at a wonderful Mexican place. I got a massage. I went for a bike ride. I sat on the beach and read a book. And then when my friend got there, we had a great time sitting around and gossiping and laughing and drinking a bit too much wine before we headed to bed. Friday we went out for breakfast, talked more, and left. This weekend was a big mix of family time and parties and ending Sunday with an impromptu BBQ.

    Growing your career is important. Spending time with your kids is important. Time with your spouse is important. Exercise is important. Key thing in there? Time. So many relationships to foster and only so much time.

    I don't even know what to say here, but I'm glad I had a perfect mix this weekend of family time, friend time, and alone time. And I know Aaron and I need a date night soon.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013

    Out with a bang

    The block party was a huge success. As Aaron and I have done this stuff more than once, it wasn't all that bad for set up/cooking/take down. We had a bounce house, a fun ride called a Happy Wagon, the ice cream truck came, two bands, great food and everyone had a great time. But, there is a lot of stress when trying to pull big groups of people together. And drama. So much drama. I've been doing this for 3 years, and it's the last. Going forward, I'll just do a big 'hurrah for summer' party that I don't need to satisfy everyone for.

    Here are some highlights:

    One of our neighbors works on an Air Force base. We got this insanely large bounce house for $125. How awesome is that? It's bigger than my house.

     I arranged for the ice cream truck to make a stop. No matter the age of the kids, EVERYONE loves the ice cream truck!
     Here is the Happy Wagon. It's so hard to describe - the man who drives it is the husband of my son's preschool teacher. Such a hilarious guy. He and a friend came up with this idea, and made this 'ride' I guess you could call it? He shows up at all local events (Springfest, local daycares) and the kids LOVE it. My kids never got off.
     He cut us a deal for a shorter visit, and my mom paid for it as a summer gift to the kids. BIG hit.

    It was a great day, and totally worth all the work of organzing.