Thursday, October 30, 2008

Eek! A Spider!

I am the room-mom in Jack's class, and as such, am partially responsible for the variety of class celebrations.  

Last night, I spent nearly 2 hours making 36 of these little darlings:

This morning, I cut up some fruit and got the games together, stashing everything in the hallway so I wouldn't forget anything, all while Grant was playing up in his room. Or so I thought.

When I went to load up the car, this is what I found:

Notice that the chocolate chips are missing off of nearly every single spider!

And look who was caught red-handed:

After severely chastising him, and sticking him in the bathroom, out of harms way (meaning out of my way), I hurried to the kitchen to throw some new spiders together before running out the door.

The party was a success - at least in the eyes of 30 5-year olds!

After the party, it was time to put on costumes and line up for the annual school Halloween Parade! Escorted by a real fire engine, and genuine motorcycle cops, all 230 students lined up, along with teachers and parents for the brief parade route through the town streets. We were accompanied by the middle school band, playing the same 3 songs over and over.

Jack is dressed as Captain America towards the back of the line.

Grant was adorable dressed as Elmo. 
He couldn't wait to get out of his costume.

Tonight we'll attend our church Halloween party, and then enjoy a candy-filled 3 day weekend. Can woman live on chocolate alone?  We shall see.

Happy Day

This was the sight as I finished filling up my car with gas this week at Costco:

It would have been under $50, but I was running on fumes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Playing In The Dirt

Over the weekend, we took the kids out to Carnegie SVRA, about an hours drive from home.

We spent the morning with the kids riding the quad around, Steve riding his dirt bike, and Grant playing in the dirt.  

It was a beautiful fall morning, with crystal clear air and sky.

Grant thinks he's a big kid, and is all ready to ride the quad.

Olivia's getting the hang of riding, and has mastered the throttle and brakes.  She knows her limits and knows when to slow down...

After much whining and begging, Grant finally got Steve to take him for a little spin!

Jack's got a ways to go before he's safe riding...he can't quite figure out the brakes and doesn't let off the throttle when he's trying to stop!  
He preferred running around laughing!

I sent the kids on a scavenger hunt to find various items around the camp.  They took it a step further and began counting how many bottlecaps they could find!

Grant loves dirt.  And noise.  He is the epitome of the definition of boy.
Boy: noun: A noise with dirt on it.

Rocks to climb up and jump off of...what could be better?

I love Steve like this - 5 days a week he's clean shaven and dressed up.  On the weekends, he goes to the other extreme.  And I love it.

It was great to get out of the house and away from the "chores" that occupy much of our time and enjoy the dirt, clean air and open space...even if just for a few hours!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

From My Kitchen Window

Our house backs up to open space. It's lovely to look out the back windows and not be surrounded by people. We don't even have window coverings on the back of the house.

We've seen deer, cows, wild horses, raccoons, oppossums, and the like making the rounds in the hills. With the arrival of fall, there has been an increase in wild turkeys roaming the neighborhood.

This was the view from our kitchen window this morning at breakfast. I'm surprised our fence didn't topple!

Wonder if they know they'll be ending up on someone's table come Thanksgiving?  I won't tell...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Little Humor on a SERIOUS Subject

This is a humorous take on what could happen if Prop 8 doesn't pass in California.

Something to think about...


Yesterday afternoon, I took Olivia in to see our dentist for a follow-up appointment for the "bumps" in her mouth.  

Being prone to over-dramatize things, I was convinced she had some rare disease.  Of course, I didn't tell her that.  After a thorough examination and extensive probing, prodding and additional x-rays, the dentist informed us that the bumps were caused by her permanent teeth trying to push their way down in an over-crowded mouth.  I didn't believe him.

I came home, and immediately called my dad - the best dentist I know (he lives in Oregon, which makes it rather inconvenient for us to be his patients).  I explained the bumps to him, and before I could tell him what our dentist had told us, he interjected "Sounds like her permanent teeth are working their way down.  No big deal." big deal.  What do you know?

So, we can either leave them be, and once her teeth fall out in the next 12-18 months, they'll go away.  Or if the bumps are really bothering her, we can speed things up by pulling the teeth sooner.  Either way, she doesn't have a rare disease...just an over-crowded mouth.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Just Do It...I Just Did!!!

Yesterday was the Nike Women's Marathon/Half-Marathon in San Francisco.  I've been training for the past several months, in preparation.  It's a world-famous race, and this year, they did a random lottery-style drawing to fill the 20,000 slots.  Miraculously enough, my name was one of the names picked!

The outside wall of NikeTown in Union Square was made pink, 
in honor of this race.

Up close, you could see that the pink wall held the names of 
every woman running...including mine!

My sister-in-law Kathy was planning on flying up and running as well, but had a last minute family emergency and was unable to come. My good buddy Kristi took her spot.

The race started at 7am in Union Square. We ran from Union Square, along The Embarcadero, through the Presidio, Chrissy Field, Golden Gate Park, and ended up at Baker's Beach. It was crowded!

The race is one of the largest of its kind, and is a huge supporter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Team In Training had a huge presence there (just look at all the purple TNT shirts in the photo!). Runners had the names and pictures of their loved ones on their shirts, some who had won and some had lost the battle against these blood diseases. It was emotional for me (I know, big surprise there!) as I was overcome with gratitude for my health and the health of my family.

One woman running had a big quote on her back saying "You think this is hard, try Chemo!"

Another shirt said "Someday I won't be able to do this.  But today is NOT that day!"

I ran hard and strong, even up the big hills.  I had rock music blasting on my iPod...pushing me every step of the way.

I ran across the finish line and was greeted by a hot firefighter in a tuxedo, who presented me with a wrapped blue Tiffany's box, containing my finishers medal!
I also got this super cute "Finisher" t-shirt.

Isn't that a cute necklace?  And it's from Tiffany's!

It was a great race, and I was happy to have a friend among the 20,000...

I know I said that after this race, I'd quit doing races and sit back and eat bon bons for a while. I'll take a few weeks off, that's for sure.  But I think that as long as I'm able, I'll keep pushing this body to do amazing things.  I'll do it for myself, and for all those women who want to, but can't.  Because I CAN JUST DO IT!

It's Too Scary...

Grant loves watching movies.  He would watch movies all day long if I'd let him.  It started with movies like Finding Nemo, Elmo in Grouchland, and the like.  

Then, over the summer, I bought the live human version of Scooby Doo for Olivia when she had her mouth surgery.  I thought it would be a fun distraction as she was recovering.  It was the most ridiculous movie ever, but for some reason, Grant LOVED it.  

One day a couple of weeks ago, he discovered Harry Potter in our movie cabinet.  

He was insistent upon watching it, and wouldn't take no for an answer.  (I know, you're asking "Who's the parent here?", and the answer is "After 100 times of asking, I finally gave in" - I know, I'm a push-over).  He had croup, wasn't feeling well and I needed a break from the whining.  So I turned it on.

He was mesmerized.  He sat through the whole entire thing without moving an inch.  And then he wanted to watch it again.  And again.  And again.  And again.  

He'd peek through his fingers during the "scary" parts...
which make up the majority of the movie!

Then, one night last week, he came downstairs after I tucked him into bed.  We told him he needed to go back upstairs to bed.  Then, with a big smile on his face, he calmly informed us "It's too scary.  Monster from Harry Potter in Grant's bed.  It's too scary."

Then he proceeded to lay down on the family room floor and go right to sleep.    

Harry Potter has mysteriously disappeared, wonder where it could be???

What are these things?

This post is at the request of my youngest brother Shepard, a 3rd year dental student at OHSU.

He's trying to help me diagnose these weird bumps in Olivia's mouth...long distance.  Any ideas?

(And in case anyone is concerned that I am relying solely on my brother's diagnosis from 800 miles away, we are seeing a local professional tomorrow!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Almost As If I Grew It Myself...

Last week, I received a flyer in the mail for an online local, organic grocery delivery service called spud!.  In an effort to try and feed my family healthier produce, as well as support local growers, I decided to give it a try.

I placed my online order on Monday.  I decided that I'd only get produce this time around, just to see how I liked it.  Delivery to my area was scheduled for Thursday (today).

I arrived home after driving carpool today to find a large blue Rubbermaid tote on my front porch.  I brought it inside, opened it up, and felt as though I'd been transported to a farm.  

The fruits and vegetables inside looked as though they'd just been picked.  Seriously, they still had that "fresh-from-the-earth-dirty" smell.  As I pulled item after item out of the bin, I just wanted to wash and eat it right then and there.  Carrots with the long green tops still attached.  Heirloom tomatoes that had that yummy tomato-vine smell.  The sweetest cucumbers you can imagine.  Beautiful broccoli, vibrant green beans, bright red your mouth watering yet?

I proceeded to make an awesome salad, which I'll eat for lunch and dinner for the next several days.  I cut up some of the fresh fruit for the kids for dinner tonight.  It tasted unbelievable.  

I don't have a green thumb, or the burning desire (read: time) to acquire one.  But I do love the taste and idea of home grown veggies.  I've tried to make it to local farmer's markets, but most of them fall on Sunday morning, right when we're at church.  So this seems like a great compromise for me.  The prices seemed reasonable enough - not much more than what I pay for mediocre produce at the grocery store.  And they're delivered to my front porch, for free. I'm already plotting my choices for my bin of goods next Thursday!

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Like Learning a Whole New Language

I am the mom of a 9-year old daughter.  This 9 year old daughter is growing up too quickly.  She wants her privacy now.  She doesn't even want me near her when she's showering or getting dressed.  Like I can't even be on the same floor of the house, in case, heaven-forbid, all the doors suddenly disappear.

This 9 year old daughter doesn't want me to do her hair anymore.  She actually wants me to buy her a flat-iron, so she can straighten her beautifully wavy hair.  (How does she even know what a flat-iron is?)  She picks out her own clothes, and has her own sense of style.

This 9 year old daughter is also speaking a language I don't always understand.  Here are a couple of examples, and my guess at their meaning:

  • "Like" - this is used not to actually describe something she likes, or in saying that something was like something else (isn't that a simile?).  Rather, it's used to accentuate nearly every other word in nearly every sentence.  For example "And I was like, can you believe that he like said that out loud?"
  • "And Um, Yeah" - this phrase is used to punctuate a sentence.  For example:  "At recess today, I was like, talking to Madison when Clayton came up to talk to me.  And um, yeah." When she says "And um, yeah", I know that she's done talking about the subject.
There are other phrases that are becoming regulars as well.  I just haven't quite figured out the meaning yet.  We try and gently remind her that some of these words/phrases are not necessarily proper English, or used in the proper context.  She just rolls her eyes.  

I try and remember that I was once a pre-teen girl, who thought my mom knew absolutely nothing about being cool.  And I don't want to be the un-cool mom.  The next few years will be hard - temptations and peer pressure will be crazy out there.  I want her to be able to talk to me about the struggles, challenges and temptations that she faces.  I don't want to be the mom that lectures or nags.  But I do want her to know that I've been there, done that, and can help her through.  

Once in a while, the little girl inside the 9 year old pre-teen emerges.  And she wants to cuddle and have me rub her back and tell her a story about when she was a little girl.  And in those moments, I am overjoyed with love for this amazing person whom I have the privilege of calling my daughter.  And um, yeah.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Even Super Heroes Need A Nap

After a long day of battling evil and trying to save the universe, 
Captain America needed a nap.

Weekly Weigh-In

I missed last week due to our little anniversary getaway.  I've got 4 weeks left to go in the "contest" - I'm currently in 14th place overall.  Not likely to win the grand prize of $500, but better health and better fitting jeans are the greatest prizes of all.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Enjoying the Journey

Over the weekend, Steve and I celebrated our 11th anniversary.  We marked the occasion with a child-free weekend in Yosemite on the Harley.

I grew up riding on the back of my dad's motorcycle and loved going on rides with him as a child and teenager.  Steve and I enjoyed many rides and weekend trips early on in our relationship...he even proposed to me while on a motorcycle trip.  But it's been several years since I last sat on the back of the motorcycle.  Three kids don't leave a lot of time for leisure rides.  I have always enjoyed the freedom of riding on the back of the bike, it seems to clear my head and give me time for personal reflections.

We arrived safely at our hotel, The Tenaya Lodge, in Fish Camp, CA, just a couple of miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park.  We were greeted in our hotel room with this:

Saturday morning, we woke up, looked out our window, and saw this:

The picture doesn't do it justice, but it was POURING rain.  Not just a light drizzle, but a torrential downpour.  

We spent the morning reading in our hotel room, and hoping the skies would clear.  By about 1:00, the rain had stopped, and the roads were drying, so we braved the chilly temperatures and headed into the park.

We were greeted with amazing views, clear, clean air and almost no traffic.  

Dropping down into Yosemite I look the part of "biker chick"?

"El Capitan", one of the most famous sites in Yosemite.

A Japanese tourist took this picture, and cut off the motorcycle!

As we began our ride back to the hotel, the rain started up again.  Just a light shower, but at 30-40 mph, the rain hitting our faces felt a bit like piercing daggers.  I hunkered down behind Steve and used him as a shield.  As we rolled along the road, I noticed how clean and beautiful the trees were, how many shades of green there were.  And the colors seemed so much brighter and more vivid having just been cleansed of months of dust, dirt and grime.

I got to thinking how much life and marriage is like a ride on the motorcycle.  We must brave the elements at times.  There are showers and cold temperatures and traffic that slow us down. But if we take the time to look around us and enjoy the view, even in the midst of trials,  we can find beauty in everything.  And that journey is one worth taking.

Time Out

I'm a believer in the "Time-Out" method of discipline.  Removing a child from the situation or environment that is causing the unacceptable behavior seems to me to be the most logical course of action.  Sometimes the time out is as much for me as for the child, and it gives me the needed time to deal rationally with a situation or bad behavior.

In our house, the time out spot is in the bathroom.  Other than drowning in the toilet, or clogging the plumbing, there's not much damage that can be caused in there, and it's a relatively small spot, with not much to play with.

Grant has entered his third year of life with gusto and has taken a liking to screaming and throwing fits when he doesn't get his way.  Perhaps a result of me not saying no often enough...

Now, when he begins to whine, scream, hit or engage in any other less-than-stellar behavior, all I have to do is pick him up and plop him down in the corner of the bathroom.  Sometimes, I can even ask him if he needs a time out in the bathroom, and he'll say yes and walk in there all by himself.  I give him the notice that as soon as he's done screaming, he can come out and be part of the family again.

He usually screams for a moment or two, then is silent for a few minutes before walking out with tears on his cheeks saying "Gant all done cying".  

Last week, after a few moments longer than usual of silence with no movement, I poked my head in the bathroom to peek at him.  He had his head covered up with his blanket and was singing.  I quietly shut the door to retrieve the camera.  When I came back, this is what I found:

He was so darn cute, I almost forgot what put him in there in the first place.


Steve's and my birthdays fall just one day apart.  His is the day before.  We always (well, almost always) do a big to-do for his day, and then we're all birthday'd out for mine the next day.  

I made a yummy chocolate layer cake for Steve.  We decorated it with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, and plopped the "41" candles on it.  We ate half.

The next night, after a scrumptious dinner at PF Chang's, we came home, put new candles on the cake, turned it around, and Voila! A brand new cake!

You can't even tell that half the cake is missing!

I'm pretty sure Grant ate about half the cake all by himself!

Perhaps I should be irritated that I baked my own birthday cake.  But I'm not.  I was just happy to be able to eat chocolate cake guilt-free two nights in a row.