Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happy Birthday...

We had a birthday in our house today. Steve turned the big 27- his golden birthday, 27 on the 27th. I've been prepping Hallie all week to get her excited for daddy's birthday and sure enough she didn't let me down. Anytime we did anything for his birthday, shopping, wrapping presents, hiding presents, Hallie would report to Steve and tell him exactly what we'd done. She's not a very good secret keeper yet, so consider yourself warned.

So the birthday mouse got me up at 6:30 this morning and she kept talking about daddy's birthday (speaking loud enough she probably woke daddy up!) I've never been a big birthday person, but Steve is. So to speak his language I decided I would put forth the effort and make his birthday the way he wanted it, with all the fun presentation. We pulled the presents out of hiding, made our way into the kitchen and set up our Birthday Bucket (our new tradition, with the birthday banner which is not pictured).

We woke Steve up shortly after (who quickly commented how much he loved the presentation of it all, it made him feel special...mission accomplished)- we made breakfast and sat around talking about how cool Steve is before he had to run off to all his crazy Sunday meetings. After church we had Bob and Virginia over for dinner and birthday cookie, after which we had Steve open his presents.It was a relatively simple day, its hard when church/meetings consume the majority of the day, but at the end of the day Steve said it's the best birthday he's had in a long time...Clearly I've done an awful job with making him feel like the most important person on his birthday in previous years. But I'm happy to report, I'm on a steady incline. Next year will be even better. I've just got to start thinking of birthdays as holidays, which Steve has tried telling me his birthday is since the day we got married. But it is, it's his holiday. We go all out decorating and doing fun things for Halloween, Valentine's day, Christmas...every holiday. So from now on, birthdays are holidays, they will be decorated and celebrated as such. I think I'm going to enjoy this, I love an excuse to put up some fun decorations! Bob and Hallie had a good time together this evening. After Bob repeatedly pulled a bouncy ball from Hallie's ear (which she thought was fascinating), they moved on to dress up. Bob insisted on wearing the striped glasses, but we were convinced the colored stripes clashed with his red shirt. The white glasses, on the other hand, had darling glitter cherries in the corner. These not only complemented his red shirt, but they really did a number for his skin. Hallie, of course, can pull off stripes and plaid and make it look in style...definitely gifted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sweet Summer nights...

These pictures are really from the other night, but it just seemed to capture the serenity and feeling of tonight!
Tonight I found myself sitting in the grass, as Hallie rode her bike around the circle, marveling at the beautiful summer night. At 75 degrees, it was the perfect temperature to enjoy a night outside. Sure the garden should've been weeded, and the flowers watered, perhaps I should have swept off the driveway, but I didn't do any of it. I sat in the cool freshly cut grass as my energetic two year old ran circles around me. I couldn't get over how beautiful it was tonight. The fireflies were in full force and there's nothing better than watching fireflies.My thoughts wandered- making lists of things I need to get done before we leave next week, praying that Hallie's flip flop wouldn't catch on the ground as she ran so fast in circles, trying to grasp the reality of another child running around the yard, wishing and hoping that nights like this would never end, remembering back to my childhood and the things I enjoyed doing, feeling as though summer was moving along quicker and trying to come up with ideas to make it last even a week longer!

The feeling I enjoyed most tonight was knowing that I took full advantage of this simple summer night. Sure there are plenty of things left on my list that still need to be done and it will be a mad rush to accomplish it all. But for one short evening it didn't matter. Hallie ran around and played as if it was her last summer night. I taught her how to feel her heart beat as it seemed to pound out of her chest from running so much. Which made me want to take the whole night and bottle it up in a jar (of course with a couple fireflies!) and hold on to it forever. We'll never have this exact night again, and already I'm missing it!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ups and Downs of Pregnancy...

Of course being pregnant has it ups and downs. And I think I somewhat blocked from my memory all the bad things about being pregnant because 7 months ago pregnancy was the best thing in the world. And although my pregnancies are quite easy compared to most there's still those little things that are uncomfortable.

1. I love to feel the baby move- it's an indescribable feeling but so powerful. However, sometimes I feel as though this little guy is overly active, and for the most part it doesn't bother me. But the other night I was sitting with Steve watching a movie and the baby wouldn't stop moving, to the point it was so distracting I couldn't concentrate on the movie. Just somersaults one after another- Is this just the start of a rambunctious boy?

2. Fortunately for me, I've never been a stomach sleeper, so during pregnancy I sleep like a baby curled up on my side and I'm as comfortable as can be. However, I get these awful, awful charlie horses in my right calf, nearly every night. It absolutely kills for hours after I wake up. It's always the same leg. It's one of those things that I remember now how often it happened with Hallie, but I chose to forget it, memory's back and I don't like it one bit. They hurt!

3. My hair is out of control. I know most of your are thinking- you've always had frizzy gross hair- but add pregnancy and Milwaukee's humidity and I'm a walking clown, who ate his dog fido. I can't get this thing under control. I've resorted to putting my hair in a pony tail nearly every day. Steve keeps begging me to not cut it, but I've just about reached my limit with bad hair days, perhaps shorter hair would be more manageable.

4. Who can forget an achy back. I don't think this requires any explanation. Everyone who's had a baby knows how bad your back can hurt at the end of the day.

5. I sat here for a couple minutes trying to think of number five because I felt like the list wouldn't be complete without a number five. But nothing comes to mind, so I'm cutting the list short, I don't have any more complaints.

Looking at the list it's even more clear I have easy pregnancies- when bad hair makes the top four bad things about pregnancy you know you have it easy. I consider myself blessed!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Prego pic...

I realize this picture has been a long time in coming. Its just one of those things that never makes it to the to-do list. And if its not on my to-do list the chances of it getting done are slim to none. The few times I've thought to take a picture Steve's not around, and it's not worth the hassle of setting up the tripod- yada, yada. So yesterday as I was heading out to PBK I thought to ask Steve, so here it is in all it's glory...which makes me wonder...Why do we take pictures when we're pregnant? Of course not a whole lot of people like pictures of themselves pregnant and in a year we'll look back and talk about how awful the picture was. I guess as humans we enjoy self-inflicted pain!!

I'm over 28 weeks at this point- and feeling it. "Baby Brother" (as Hallie has officially named him) is quite an active little guy, much more so than Hallie. For the most part, everything is going well. My main area for complaint is my back- Luckily Steve is the master massager which helps but clearly doesn't solve the problem. I've been able to do most everything I was doing before which is a huge blessing. I have given most heavy lifting to Steve at this point. His philosophy is he'd rather be burdened with the task of moving the heavy object, than spend an hour massaging my back because I did it. What a great husband! Hallie still hasn't quite grasped the concept that she can't jump on me like she used to, or I can't carry her for as long as I used to.

Life is good- I'm realizing at this point in the game my to-do list before the baby comes far exceeds the time capacity I have left. Which no doubt frustrates me. So slowly I'm taking things off my list and accepting the fact that it may have to wait until later. (Steve vetoed the idea of taking laundry and dishes off the list!) I'm doing my best to prioritize those projects left on the list. But inevitably we get invited to go to the splash park or to go out with friends, or Hallie wants a friend over, or ride her bike outside. As hard as it is to accept, Steve was right when he said I need to stop scheduling all my hours in the day. Because never fail things come up and then I'm bummed that I didn't get something done. Which is why I need to start taking things off my list because if there on my list and not complete I get discouraged.

I'm nervous at the thought of a baby in the home again. Hallie is at a great stage- fairly independent, communicates what she wants quite well, and we're free to be flexible with our schedules. A new baby doesn't have any of that. And I'm well aware that my productivity level will greatly decrease for a while which concerns me. My need to be productive is far greater than I ever thought it was. I need to be productive. Being productive is fulfilling for me. It makes me happy and more relaxed, believe it or not. I've learned for myself that being productive doesn't have to be anything big. As long as in my own thoughts I felt my time was spent well. Watching Hallie at the splash park is productive, teaching her out to write her "F" is productive, weeding my garden, replanting grass seed, blogging, working on the house, talking to my mom on the phone- that's all productive in my book.

I know what we're getting into, which is why I guess it's a little concerning for me. We're starting over at the unproductive stage- the tiredness, the feedings, the time commitment. This is going to be an adjustment. I'm trying to prep myself- but I don't think I truly grasp the reality of it all. Its smooth sailing at this point, and I'm not sure what I need to do to prep my "boat and sails" for the storm we're about to run into, physically, mentally and emotionally. Which I guess is why I'm trying to pack so much into this last 2.5 months to make sure things get done. Wish me luck!

City of Festivals...

Milwaukee has more festivals than any town I have ever heard of- seriously there's a festival for everything it seems. Every time I'm driving in the car I'm hearing another festival being advertised on the radio- every weekend it seems. Here's a short list of the ones I've heard of, not to mention all those I block out, which is quite a few.

Cool Fool Kite Festival
Winter Festival
Chocolate Fest
Strawberry Festival
Polish Fest
Bastille Days
Greek Fest
Festa Italiana
German Fest
African World Festival
Arab World Fest
Irish Fest
Mexican Fiesta
Labor Fest
Indian Summer Festival
Tosa Fest
(where's American fest...oh wait, we just had that didn't we, the 4th of July!)

I'm sad to report, out of all of these festivals, Steve and I have only made an appearance at one of them...just one, Summerfest, the music festival. Why? We're lazy! Most festivals are downtown, we'd have to fight traffic, the parking, mobs and gobs of drunk people, the list could go on and on. Yet we have many friends who take advantage of all there is to do- we keep telling ourselves, we'll go next year, and yet two years have come and gone and nothing. My goal is to attend at least two festivals next year. I'm going to plan it out, write the dates on the calendar and do it. Any suggestions which ones we should hit up?

It's breakfast time...

Most Saturday and Sunday mornings consist of the traditional pancake or French toast breakfast. I usually take it upon myself to cook these breakfasts. (the one who cooks the meal doesn't traditionally spend as much time cleaning up, which in my book is a major perk!) On a couple occasions, I'm not quite out of bed when Steve and Hallie are ready for their breakfast, which results in Steve making the breakfast. I tend to cook "traditional" pancakes which means their boring, and circular in shape. However, when Steve mans the griddle he adds his own special touch which results in Hallie getting cool shaped pancakes like Mickey. Of course, the next week when I cook again Hallie is demanding Goofy pancakes- I can't live up to that, I'm not that talented when it comes to pancake batter. So I stick with round pancakes. I leave the creativity up to Steve on this one!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

4th of July...

Prepare yourselves- this is a long one- it was that good of a day!We've successfully completed our fourth Wisconsin 4th of July. Three years as residents to the state, and the first year as a visitor to Bob and Virginia. And as we drove home at 11:30 that night Steve and I agreed, it was the perfect day- as far as the holiday goes and we wouldn't have changed one thing.

To start off, we somewhat overbooked ourselves as far as festivities go. We had originally planned to go to three different BBQ's, I'm not sure what we were thinking. But as we were already late to the first one at 10 a.m. we opted for another route: Wauwatosa parade. The last time either one of us attended a parade was years ago in Orderville, UT, when we worked in Zion. And I guess we didn't even watch that parade...we were in the parade!

So, we decided last minute to go the local parade, which was already half over. We met up with our friends the Egberts and really enjoyed the 45 minutes that we saw of the parade, any longer and I think we would've been bored. Hallie had a blast with her friends, catching a few pieces of candy here and there and watching in amazement as the "dancing grannies" scattered past. She waved at most everyone that walked by and would grin in pleasure when someone would acknowledge her and wave back. We were there for the perfect amount of time.Next we headed over to the ward BBQ where we met up with friends galore. Being the awful parents that we are, we opted not to bring Hallie's swimsuit...big mistake. She found the kiddie pool quite enjoyable regardless of wearing all her clothes. At first she cautiously took cups full of water from one area to the next, but before long she was drenched and she threw caution out the window. After she was soaked head to toe, we borrowed a swimsuit from a friend...a little late yes, but none the less she still had fun. Steve and I were able to meet some new people (we'll go out on a limb and call them friends, the jury may still be out whether they enjoyed us the same!) as well as enjoyed old friends. It made us very grateful for the ward that we live in and the people who have come into our lives.After fully baking in the afternoon sun for a sufficient amount of time, we took a short break at home in order for Hallie to get a nap, and then headed out for our last stop of the night to some friend's home. We ate some great food, enjoyed the company of friends and family (Bob and Virginia's family as well as Steve's sister CarolLynn) and just enjoyed ourselves. There were a few organized competitions, bubble blowing contest being one of my favorites, with the sidewalk chalk name contest being enjoyable as well.Hallie proudly displaying her H in the sidewalk name write off- I helped a little. Which is why its short and sweet! Josh "stealing Hallie's nose". Bob participating in the bubble blowing contest.
Bubbles- one of the many prizes for the evening.
Later into the evening we sat around the fire pit and made some delicious s'mores. To top off the evening the neighbors had a fireworks showdown. No joke, these two homes (who evidently do this every year) try and outdo one another with their fireworks show. This worked to our advantage as spectators. Now, I'm not talking about spending a couple hundred dollars at the local firework, this was above and beyond what any stand/store has to offer. I swear, these were commercial grade fireworks. What are commercial grade fireworks you ask...good question...I'm not sure but just trust me on this one. For starters the show went on for 30-45 minutes. Consistent booms and bangs with a constant array of colors, sensory overload! Every few minutes I thought, this must be the grand finale...and then it kept going. This would get the neighbor riled up who would then put on an even better show with brighter colors and bigger booms! Just when we thought they had run out of money...they would light another batch. It was fascinating- and what made it more impressive was the fact that this was a residential neighbor. It was longer than the show the city put on. The only thing I can think that would have made it better than the show we saw in Chicago last year would've been if the fireworks had been coordinated with music...maybe I'll send a little thank you to that neighbor and offer the suggestion. Then again, maybe I'll ask him to take the thousands of dollars he would spend on his little show and donate it to the "I Love Gap" scholarship fund! I'm curious to drive around that neighborhood during Christmas to see how deep this competition runs- perhaps it's only fireworks, but what a display it would be if they got into Christmas lights as well!! Can't wait for next year!Virginia guiding Hallie through her first s'mores making experience.Hallie's first attempt at sparklers. At first sparklers can be quite scary and she didn't want anything to do with them. But then she got the hang of it as she nearly burned her locks of hair. We quickly grabbed the sparkler- which in turn freaked her out and she refused to touch another one!
We couldn't have asked for a better holiday. It was the perfect mix of sun/food/friends/family and a whole lot of fireworks. Towards the end of the night I found myself sitting alone looking off at the sun setting, relaxing in the perfect temperature thinking: I love this. I love being surrounded by people I enjoy and love, taking in this wonderful summer night. It felt so comfortable and real. Wisconsin is home to us at this point, and I love it. It takes those long winters to truly appreciate that warm summer night, and I'm going to take it as long as I can get it, and bask in those quiet simple moments.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Moving up...

Hallie is officially a big girl, in a big girl bed! She's been in a crib up until now, and most think that's a little bizzarre. She's going to be three in three months, and yet she never, and I mean never climbed out of her crib. It's as if she climbed out one time and got in trouble or hurt so she never did it again, she just never climbed out. Wow were we lucky on that one. So there was absolutely no incentive to move her to a larger bed. Within the last couple months she's started climbing into her bed for bedtime. Yet, she never picked up on the climbing out part. We figure we need the crib in three short months so we took the leap.

I was a little unsure at how she'd do at this, so we just put the mattress on the floor next to her crib for nap time last week. We emphasized what a big girl she was to be in such a big bed but that she couldn't get out of the bed or else she'd have to go back to the crib. Only once did I have to ask her to get back in bed but she had a good excuse, "Baby was hungry, she needed lunch." So she was getting into her play fridge to get some lunch. I couldn't even argue it was so cute! So after a successful nap time with the new bed, I just ripped off the bandaid- I took the crib down right after she got up, there was no going back!

She loves her new bed (which was a long time and coming repainting and all, I'm glad to have that project complete!) and she thinks she's so cool being a big girl- I see her in there sitting all the time reading books to her baby and monkey. She also likes to tuck them in when they're "tired". What's great, is the fact that even though she can get out whenever she pleases, she still calls out in the morning for us to come and get her, and when she sees us at the door, she comes running over for hugs. I'm sure that won't last much longer, but I kind of like it. She needs me!
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