Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial Day 2012...

We spent time at Steve's sister's cabin for the weekend along with many of his siblings and parents. I learned a couple important lessons.

1. Hunter is prone to carsickness. This is a first for our family. But next time he starts screaming from the backseat that his stomach hurts, I will listen. I will promptly pull over and I will now carry a ziploc bag in the car.

2. No matter how many times you try and wash throw-up out of car upholstery it will stink. For days. Disgusting.

3. I knew this before, but it was confirmed this weekend: our children are creatures of schedule and routine. We all suffer tremendously when out of routine. Case in point - Bennett was tired the whole weekend. He woke up too early, wouldn't take a nap, had a hard time falling asleep at night. And then when we got him home to his own bed he slept for 17 hours. He went to bed at 6pm and woke up at 11am.

4. I'm a home-body. It's fun to spend time with family for a weekend getaway, but there is nothing that makes me more happy than coming home.

Despite having to learn a few lessons, we had a great time. We couldn't get enough of the cotton candy and sno-cones. It was a windy day and the cotton candy floated through the air and covered the ground. Modern day candyland.

Steve showed us his super amazing strength, we were all impressed.

Hallie and her cousins made friends with the area wildlife. What are kids fascination with lizards? They creep me out.

Surprisingly enough we only misplaced Hunter one time (when he decided to go the family center by himself to indulge himself in racecar games). Typically these two were joined at the hip and they wandered back and forth from their cabins (they were connected).

Both Steve and I thoroughly enjoyed the adult-only dinner. It's uncommon for us to eat without spills and screaming children and we always welcome good conversation. We never seem to get enough cousin time. We were at the cabin last Memorial Day weekend as well - we're hoping two times makes it tradition!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Being content with what you are...

I am generally a happy and content person. And sometimes as a mother, I've got it. You know what I'm talking about - the groove. Things just work. Kids are happier, I'm happier and life is grand.

But these moments are slippery and hard to hold on to.

Before long I'm breaking up another fight between my children. No matter how many times I sweep the floor in one morning, I still walk through crumbs in my bare feet. And I look in the mirror at the end of the day and wonder who's tired eyes are staring back at me.

Sometimes the "mommy-guilt" creeps in as I feel as though I'm not matching up. I'm not matching up to my own silly standards. Standards that I've set from my associations with other mothers and the overflowing number of perfect mothers I seem to come across through blogs and pinterest.

I tend to get caught up in the mentality that I can do it all. And I know with time and effort I can do it all. I want to paint a room, build a bed, cook a five course dinner, play with my children, pay attention to my husband, have quiet spiritual moments for myself, fold mounds of laundry and in addition spend hours on the computer. And I can do every single one of those things. But not all at the same time. I always tell myself I need to simplify. I try really hard and I truly believe I am making progress, as small as that progress may be. But I've got a long ways to go.

Here's to a simple and content summer!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spelling lesson...

This sign was expertly crafted by the talented Miss Hallie for Bennett's birthday. As you can see, she wants to make sure everyone knows how to spell Bennett, in the process she made it clear we have other words we need to work on!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Renovation...

Poor Hallie has been displaced from her room for two weeks...renovations can be a little disruptive. This was day one. I'm happy to report I'm much further along, but still not complete, nor close enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm in the putty/caulking phase and it is time consuming. Wish me luck...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Graduation Announcements...

This sweet and amazing girl has been a fantastic babysitter for us...and now she's growing up and moving on. It's easy to design announcements around a pretty face like this!

Congrats Ashlyn!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Teacher thank you...

School is done.

Somehow Hallie's teachers survived a whole year of her constant questions and her over-zealous attitude for school.

Her teachers are really great and I want them to know I really do appreciate them. Yet, at the end of the year as I'm writing the card and thinking of a gift, every thing seems so lame! They took care of my daughter more than I did over the school year and note and gift card are supposed to express my gratitude?? Does a homemade card count for more appreciation. I hope so.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Overzealous about school...

This little one loves school. I mean, loves loves school. If she had a choice to go all summer, she would. She's one of those kids that comes home from school and immediately does her homework. Reads for fun. And feels compelled to start and finish every class project with one day of being assigned. She's gets frustrated at times when I push off some of her projects when I know we have two weeks. Her famous line - "My teacher said we had to do it today, she really did." She follows the teacher's instruction exactly and never wavers.

The other day she came home from school and said, "I need to bring orange juice for the Mother's Day program tomorrow." I looked through her backpack and couldn't find any paper that told her to bring the juice. But she insisted. So at 9:30 that night I went and bought juice and loaded down her backpack.

The next morning I went to the program and her teacher told me it was so funny to see Hallie pull out a gallon of juice from her backpack. Her teacher continued to explain that Hallie asked if she could bring something for the program, but her teacher already had it covered. That wasn't good enough for Hallie, so she came home and told me she needed to bring juice.

I can't trust anything that comes out of her mouth in regards to school.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Desperate wardrobe...

I am in serious need of some new clothes. I have been married for 8 years. 2.5 of those years I've been pregnant. Three of those years I've been nursing. My body changes like the weather. Which means I have a closet full of clothing that fits me during one of the many stages my body goes through. So in the short windows I have between these stages, nothing seems to fit right.

So I spent some alone time at the mall on Saturday to rejuvenate a pathetic looking closet. I walked in and out of nearly every store. I held clothes up. I tried clothes on. I searched for the size I needed. But I walked out of every store empty handed. I typically find something that will work, but it was not working for me. As it came closer to the mall closing, I walked faster through every store in hopes that something would scream, "Buy me". Even my go-to stores left me frustrated. I felt this panic. As if I had to buy something or else the whole trip would've been a failure. I quickly picked up a skirt and without trying it on, made the purchase. I left the mall with the satisfaction that I found something...but that satisfaction quickly turned to frustration as I recounted all the things I intended to buy.

I called Steve - "You're not going to believe this...the Kara look is out. Completely out. My whole look, the style I've grown accustomed to is not available for purchase anymore. This totally sucks."

Instead of laughing at me, which I'm sure he was tempted to do, he could see I was completely serious and began the calm approach to walking me off the ledge.

Steve's idea: Reinvent. Change my look. Branch out.

Easier said than done. I try on clothes that I really like when I see them on other people. I look in the mirror and feel ridiculous. They feel out of character for me. They fit completely different than I'm used to and make me slightly uncomfortable. What is wrong with me??

To make matters worse- I tried on the skirt first thing when I got home and it was a disaster.

Clearly I need lessons on how to dress myself again. How to pair things together better to make better use out of an entire wardrobe. Accessories?? Forget about it. I think I've tried on the same skinny belt 5 times and it still hasn't made it out of the closet.

I will be making another desperate trip to the mall, this time with Steve for moral support. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Letter for Hunter...

Dear Hunter -
I love that you love to sit at the craft table for hours as you color and create cards for everyone you know. It warms my heart to see what little picture you craft for me. And as much as I love those sweet cards I don't like it when you stick the broken crayons in your pocket. You have officially ruined two whole loads of clothing with your crayon tactics. Thank heavens crayola posts instructions on their website as to how to get crayon out. Unfortunately, the twistable crayons don't have instructions and it doesn't come out. But that's okay, right? They're just clothes. I will just have to pay a little more attention when throwing your shorts in the laundry. Better yet, I will just stop buying shorts with pockets, or even sew them shut. That might help out a bit. Either way, I'm hoping that I don't send another silly crayon through the dryer. On top of the that, I think I've officially banned you from using any scissors at least 7 times but you always seem to find a pair, you silly boy. I noticed yesterday that somehow those scissors (the ones you're never supposed to touch) made their way to your hair yet again. For the third time to be precise. I give you credit on your accuracy, you've cut in the same exact location every time. It's as if the scissors have a mind of their own. I know you wouldn't do that willingly, I'm sure it's the scissors fault. Of course, hair always grows back. But I'm not sure you're aware that clothing doesn't grow back. The two shirts you have cut, still have holes in them.

They will for a while.

Once again, that's okay because I love that you make me cards.

Thank you-

Your loving, patient mother

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let him sleep...

This little guy runs around from morning until night and rarely stops. And on occasion (very few times) he runs so hard he crashes. But it's my favorite. Typically he crashes in his room, right next to the door as if dying from exhaustion as he makes his big escape. Even fewer times he falls asleep in our arms.

Steve was the lucky one on a Sunday afternoon to be holding him as he drifted off to dream land. I was a little jealous but then I remembered how much heat that little boy would produce and how sweaty his little head would get...and then I was completely okay with just taking the picture!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spicy Avocado Chicken Enchiladas...

Tried a new recipe last week and it was delicious. Of course I tried taking a picture but it didn't look nearly as appetizing as it really was so I'm not including it. (I went back to the original blog and she took her picture before she cooked it, looks much nicer this way!)

Spicy Avocado Chicken Enchiladas (from here)

Recipe Note: I would recommend increasing the sauce recipe. Perhaps an additional half batch. It is by far the best part of the enchilada and when I made it I would've liked a little more. Steve even suggested pouring a little sauce on the top after you cook it so it doesn't soak in. Just some thoughts. You make it and figure out how you would like to change it!

Ingredients:

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 Serrano/jalapeno pepper, minced (depending on how much heat you like)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup medium salsa verde
1/2 cup fat free sour cream

for the enchiladas:
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts (about 4 breasts)
8 oz Cabot Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded & divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 avocados, peeled and chopped
8-10 flour tortillas

directions: Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute serrano pepper and garlic, for 1 minute. Stir in flour, constantly stirring, and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil. Once boiling, whisk in the sour cream, salsa verde and cilantro. Remove from heat.

Spray/grease a 9×13 baking dish. Add 3/4 cup sauce to the bottom of the pan. Add chicken, Cabot Monterrey Jack Cheese, onion and avocado to the center of each tortilla and roll, placing seam-side down in the dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. Top with leftover cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbling. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spirit Week...

Last week was spirit week which meant every day Hallie was determined to dress up. The first day was easy, pajama day. Hallie put on her shiniest pajamas and started walking out the door. Steve was home for the morning before leaving on a business trip and he saw her walking out. You could see the concern in his eyes. "Are you sure it's pajama day? That is one mistake we don't want to make. What if nobody else dresses up?"

Hallie was set on wearing pajamas and nothing we said was going to change that. There is always the risk that she might be the only one to dress up, but she's willing to take it. I give her three years before she's calling her friends and arranging everything the night before to make sure she's not the only one. She's in a fun/care-free stage of life and I know it won't last forever.

Steve was relieved to walk her out to the bus stop to see a whole bus load of kids wearing their pajamas!

Each day that passed required more effort and sadly we skipped one day all together because it was disco day and I didn't have the energy to come up with something and Hallie had no clue what disco day was! They saved crazy hair day for last. We had fun with this one. Fortunately she only poked two kids in the eye at school with her pigtail, I thought it would be a much higher count.

Bennett too fell victim to dangerous pigtail. Poor guy, he didn't even see it coming.

Monday, May 14, 2012

It's open...

Hallie and Hunter have been as patient as any two young children could be as we waited for the pool to hit a decent temperature. Hunter asked to feel the pool every day. And every day he would tell me, "it's not that cold." Yet I had visions of our Milwaukee winters. The kids would beg and beg to play in the snow. I would gather all of their gear and get them all dressed up. Including the mittens which always included a child crying. After walking outside and stepping one boot in the snow, they would be ready to come inside.

I knew that pool water was going to be too cold for Hunter, Hallie could probably handle it. Sure enough. We located the suit, the rash guard, the goggles and applied sunscreen. He put his foot in and claimed it to be too cold. Go figure. Luckily we've had some warm weather the last two weeks and the pool is warmed to a sufficient temperature. (Not a temperature I will be jumping in anytime soon, but the kids don't seem to mind!) We've get triple digit weather all week long, I'm not alone when I say we're excited that the pool is open!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I am a mother...

I am a mother.

And because I am a mother to young children, my days usually include: cleaning up spills, folding laundry, cleaning crayon off the wall again, putting toys away, buckling and unbuckling carseats, being referee to another sibling rivalry, bathing children, changing diapers, cleaning the kitchen for the 10th time in a single day, cleaning toothpaste off every surface in the bathroom, finding the missing shoe, brushing hair, putting bandaids on, wiping tears (theirs and mine) and answering hundreds of seemingly useless questions. Although not a comprehensive list, it gives you an idea of what days are made up of.

If this was all that motherhood entailed, I would've given my two weeks years ago. But just around the corner from every frustrating moment is the moment I love to live for. The smile and sweet I love you. Overhearing them tell their friends just how cool I am. The positive reinforcement that my daughter wants to be just like me when she grows up. The look of accomplishment when they successfully write their name for the first time. The joke they tell that is genuinely funny. The survey they fill out at church that says they love me because I'm a good cook. They are simple moments that seem so few and far between...but they exist.

My days are not always glamorous, but the work is worth it. And it's what I've chosen to do and to be.

I am a mother.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Motherhood...

I can't seem to get enough reminders.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Project mishaps...

Steve was out of town earlier this week. I anxiously waited for the garage door to shut so I could run up to Hallie's room and start a few small projects in preparation for a larger project next week.

I'm sure I'm not alone, but my projects never go as planned. I always meticulously plan everything out, time, materials and money in hopes of a smooth process. It never works that way. Instead, I misjudge how much wood I need which means more time and another trip to the Depot. It's a measurement that I took twice and still managed to screw it up. Which results in wasted materials, more time, more money. This happens with every project!

After I trimmed out Hallie's windows, I decided I would quickly trim out the closet as well. (Many Arizona homes don't have moulding around windows and even closets...it's weird.) As I removed the baseboards in preparation to install the trim,I realize the carpet was installed really close to the old moulding and I need a little breathing room to install the new trim. I slowly start cutting the carpet away. My extensive efforts yielded very little progress. I moved to another section hoping I would find my groove and quickly finish. No luck. Something wasn't right. I pulled out just a few of my Sherlock Holmes skills to investigate why I was struggling so much. It didn't take me long! Verdict: Previous owners were more than lazy on several home projects, this was no different. They had created an extra bathroom upstairs utilizing Hallie's old closet. Which meant they created a new closet for that room. They slapped up a subpar framing job (I'm surprised the closet is still standing!) and put the walls to that new closet directly over the existing flooring. At the time it probably seemed like a minor inconvenience for the labor that was saved. But let me tell you how difficult it was to cut away the old carpet. 1987 mauve carpet is difficult to cut through, trust me. It has strength like you can't imagine. Two hours I spent carving away at the carpet. Two hours. I grew more and more annoyed with each pass of the knife. Sadly enough I only had to cut through a couple feet of flooring, and I'm still not finished. As far as my projected timeline went, I should've completed trimming the closet and door as well as all the caulking and putty for the nail holes. But it didn't work like that. Instead I spent way too much time trying to solve a ridiculous problem that should've been avoided years ago.

I'm just reminded that every project has its surprises. Now I'm just trying to figure out how I can get back on schedule so I'm ready for a new project on Monday!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dreamy work life...

Steve's work is a mystery to the kids. They see him leave in the morning, they see him come home at night and the only thing they understand is he works with pet products. When we walk into a PetSmart, they ask if dad works there. I'm sure they envision their dad mastering the cash register, scanning with precision.

We thought that by taking them to his work, they would get a better idea. But I think we skewed their vision even more. We attended the annual family party hosted by Steve's work. We showed them his office and his reptiles (here) and then we went and enjoyed the "Western Round-up".

The kids received some western wear and we mingled through the crowds from old time games and photos to face painting and fantastic food. The kids were really enjoying themselves. Then we stumbled upon "Kids Corner" where the fun really started for them.

The petting zoo was a hit, surprisingly enough Hunter participated even though he gets scared when he sees a dog.

The train ride was enjoyable.

But hands down, the horses were the favorite - even more so than the unlimited old fashioned ice cream. Even Mr. B got in on the action!

As we were getting ready to leave, we were faced with reluctant and tired children. Hallie grumbled that it wasn't fair that dad got to work there. We tried explaining that dad's work wasn't always this fun, but I could see the picture she was working up in her head. Her dad rushes off after breakfast every morning so he can take a quick ride on the train and make a mad dash to pet the rabbits and goats only to to spend his lunch break taking casual pony rides. In her mind, her dad is living the dream! There was nothing fair about it!

One day she'll realize just how fun computers and spreadsheets really are!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mr. Attractive...

Isn't he attractive? I love a man that can do some gardening and isn't afraid to get his hands dirty!

I tell him that I find him attractive when we're working in the yard together or working a project together and he just laughs. He thinks I'm telling him these things just to ensure he continues to help me, which isn't the case at all. This particular day I was admiring his mad gardening skills and it hit me. It's not necessarily the yard work that makes him attractive - it's the idea of us working together to complete something, big or small, that is attractive. Which is why I find him more attractive with each passing day!

And we're on to the next project...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Monkey Business...

Determining the theme of any given party can be a chore. But for me, I see something, perhaps one thing, and suddenly without realizing it, I've created a theme.

That's what happened this go around. I came across the knitted monkey hat (seen here). It was too cute to pass up and I could just picture his cute round head with a monkey hat sitting on top of it...I suddenly had a theme going. That was two months ago. Within the course of time I was able to brainstorm different ideas, purchase things online with plenty of time and make any decorations I might need. Most everything was made beforehand which made the few days before stress-free.

Parties are primarily based on food. Monkey Vines, monkey bread, banana bread, cookies and sugar cookie cupcakes. My philosophy is it isn't a party if there's not a banner. Sometimes it's a paper banner, sometimes it's fabric. Depends on what look I'm going for. Thank you fabric.com for the perfectly coordinating monkey fabrics! We lucked out with some great evening weather that allowed us to hang out outside and enjoy the night. This guy definitely enjoyed his night. I saw him eat two cupcakes. I saw him several times throughout the evening in someone's arms with some new treat. Licorice. Banana bread. Cookie. He ate it all. And he loved every minute of it. Once I stopped the binging he was in tears. Which meant it was time for bed. All good things must come to an end.

I feel as though we've been on a Bennett overload - I swear he's not our only child!
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