Wednesday, March 31, 2010

if he's running with scissors, i hope it's not towards the leather couch

I had Blake's parent/teacher conference last week. Yes, apparently they do those in preschool. Knock me over with a feather - I thought this was just glorified babysitting?

Ah, no. Emphatically not. In his class (they have three age groups there), they have been working on geometric figures that include trapezoids, pentagons, hexagons, and octagons. Months of the year (in order), counting and number recognition up to twenty and beyond, days of the week in order, and the child's phone number and address are all covered. I can work on letter (upper and lower case) and number recognition at home, as well as understanding which sounds each letter makes, and giving him more hands-on time with the various denominations of coin and smaller bills. Money is a very esoteric concept for kids to grab, with its subtle differences in coin size and number markings on the bills.

They also work on critical thinking, giving kids scenarios to process and make decisions about what they would do. This is where it gets really interesting.

Q: If there was a fire, what would you do?
A: Go get my mom and dad. And call 99021.

Q: If you were walking on the sidewalk and a stranger pulled up in a car and offered you candy, what would you do?
A: Probably get in the car and go with them.
Q: Would that be safe?
A: Well, they have CANDY.

Q: If you were at the fair, and you couldn't find your mom, what would you do?
A: Go on all the rides.
Q: Really? How would you get the tickets?
A: Well I would just have them. And then I'd ride the rides, and then I would look for my mom.

While this might seem alarming, I have to remember that this is the child who absolutely loses his mind if he thinks I am going to leave him in Target, where "leave him" can be defined as follows:
  • Leaving the store without him and making it home before I realize he's missing.
  • Leaving the area we are browsing together to go to another area without him before I realize he's missing.
  • Leaving the aisle we're in to check down the next aisle without him.
  • Facing a direction other than the one he thinks we will be walking next.
Seriously, the way he wails "DON'T LEAVE ME!" makes it seem like I use Target for my babysitting needs on a regular basis "Mom's gotta run to the grocery store. You remember how to get to the LEGO aisle? Great, see you in an hour!"

I can imagine the instructions his teachers think I give him: "ONLY go with strangers if they have candy. If they are offering puppies, tell them we don't have room. And if it's a clown, bring your friends, ESPECIALLY if he's in an unmarked, windowless van."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

aislynn face and sunny weekend

I managed to capture the new expression, plus her diva ways. "Bethany, GET OUT OF MY SHOT. No? I'll fix it."

Sharing the limelight.

I TRIED to capture Chris giving Jasmine some words of wisdom about another birthday/new cell phone/whatever he was saying, but he ruined it by looking and then cutting faces. Evidently, he doesn't like being photographed (see below, mere hours after his second daughter was born), no matter how discreetly. Oops.

Yeah... sorry Chris!

The Perrine family decided to celebrate the weekend by leaving Billings. Apparently, it was about time, so we all spent the afternoon at the Schuylers' place, soaking up the sun and all our boys playing outside. This is the chubster Soyboy with his doting mama. Lane and I agreed that Reese is clearly getting to enjoy motherhood more this time around, probably because there is only one, but more likely because she just loves him more than she does the monkeys.

Proof that the three girls were there too. We've agreed that it is crazy that we are all mothers.

Maddox, who is cheerfully called (and cheerfully responds to) "Maggots." He's awfully handsome.

The aforementioned sun-soaking. I need me a back deck, but for the fact that my fivehead (it's bigger than a forehead) is now sunburned.

The wisdom of fathers and stuff. Or something. I don't know - they were really far away. Matt's holding arrows, FYI.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

the spokane trip rundown

Rob hadn't been back to Spokane since starting work at Vann's, so we shuffled his schedule and took off for five days early this month. We stayed the first night at "Miss Zula's." Blake gets confused about the city, Missoula, and the wife of the couple (some family friends) we stay with there. So Robin becomes "Miss Zula," though he has no trouble remembering Jack's name.

We weren't the only ones to visit Spokane that week. In fact, we brought an air mattress with us in order to crash comfortably (well, more comfortably anyway) on the floor, as an aunt and uncle were coming along with their family (four kids). As I imagined sharing the three bathrooms with the sheer number of people in the house (18 at its peak), I ruefully told Rob it would just be so CONVENIENT to own a home in Spokane, didn't he agree?

He didn't think that was as funny as I did.

And it turned out I needn't have worried - everything was smooth like buttah! We got to hang out with the two couple-friends we have in Spokane, where I know and love the wife as much as Rob knows and loves the husband - or close enough, anyway. Laughter and relationships over beer/wine/Chinese/kabobs were some of the high points of the trip.

We hosted our realtor and his wife for dinner at Cec and Joyce's during our first few days there. Kicking Joyce out of the kitchen, we whipped up scalloped potatoes, fresh bread and salad, and grilled New York strip. Over dinner, we shared with this couple-after-God's-own-heart how their (hopefully minor) sacrifice of refusing payment for his work selling the house blessed us enormously. The few thousand we got as a result enabled us to pay off all (ALL) our debt, except for the small mortgage on the condo. They were thrilled that they had been able to be part of something so life-changing for us...

Because it really is life-changing. I never realized how even the relatively minor debt of a low interest education loan affected me until all of it was gone. I was lighter. Free. Rather than hustle in and out of a store because I only needed a set number of things, I felt like wandering the aisles, just to see what they had. I still didn't intend to buy anything, but it was because I didn't want to, not because I wasn't able to. Huge difference!

Going to Spokane to bless others and invest further in relationship was such a lovely change from the frantic pace we'd kept up before now. Granted, I truly believe that almost everything we did to the house was needed just to get it "sellable," but it was a largely joyless experience for me. I really resented that property, and I'm happy to say that we didn't even drive by during our time there, though we toasted to its absence in our lives more than once!

Plus, I came home with TWO huge cans of white chocolate powder for making my own mochas, I had much-desired face time with both sisters-in-love, and I got to love on my nieces. One had a birthday while we were there, and the other wasn't afraid of me kissing on her cheeks, despite it being six months since she's seen me (because I can't imagine her remembering much at three months old). Blake played his heart out with all the cousins, since even the visiting ones were young enough or tolerant enough to put up with his near-total lack of boundaries. I also managed to embarrass my brother-in-law almost every time I opened my mouth in his presence, I kept the cussing to a minimum, and Blake and I got to know another branch of Rob's (extensive) family well enough that we all really want to figure out how to visit more of them.

We should go back more often. I mean, I've used half a can of white chocolate already!

Monday, March 22, 2010

trying not to let my cold dictate my attitude, but it's not working

Rob made my coffee and breakfast today. Love that guy. My head feels like it's building pressure internally, which is largely due to the head cold that won't quit, probably because I do not rest enough, but possibly also due to what's going on in Washington. BLECH.

I painted the guest bathroom in an effort to neutralize the color scheme in the bedrooms/bathrooms of the condo. And I don't like it, despite the fact that it is perfect on paper/paint chip. This means I have 2.5 gallons of a color I can't use! I'm all freaked out about color now, so I picked up two quarts, each a different shade of pale grey with paler green undertones, and I hope to paint samples on the walls in each room I plan to have it before moving ahead with actual gallons of the stuff. As I told a friend, wasting money makes my ass twitch.

Blake is loving the Super Mario Brothers Wii game he bought with birthday money, but when Rob and I caught him watching us play it (at 11:45 pm, no less), I learned that he'd been watching for at least twenty or thirty minutes. The lure of the video game drew him from bed, and he very very sneakily opened his bedroom door and peeked out. I am SHOCKED at this, because it's awfully like lying with your body - we only caught him when he shifted his weight and the floor creaked - and we disciplined him by taking away Wii privileges for five days. His response indicated that this was indeed one of the most painful consequences he'd ever have to endure, and I cleverly worded it so that he cannot pester me to play Wii early without having more "consequences." I am learning how to dodge SOME of these parenting pitfalls!

I have picked up the kindergarten registration packet, though I have yet to actually open it. I know that I am very much a cliche (OH NO! A mother who has a hard time sending her first-born to school! HOW ORIGINAL!), I am very much ambivalent about B actually starting school. I have nothing specific that worries me, other than the plethora of other kids he'll be around (and their unknown behaviors/habits he might bring home) and the vague rigidity of a school year dictating our schedules. On the other hand, all those other parents could rightfully fear that mine will be the one teaching their wide-eyed innocents the wide variety of curse words out there.

Life is just so exciting!
My painting help. He works for meals and a roof over his head, so it's kind of pricey, depending on how you look at it.

You can't tell, but he just got done bossing Grammie around while she helped him with patch time.

During our time in Spokane, we were regaled with Blake, Bethany, and Aislynn on the piano. They are available for birthdays, weddings, and bar mitzvahs.

Watch for popping, snappy fingers, fancy feet, an escape, and the cutest little tow-heads EVER.

Friday, March 19, 2010

choices, choices

The past two days, Rob's complimented me for looking especially pretty. Awww...

Then I realized that I cut bangs yesterday morning and have worn a push-up bra both yesterday and today. Two changes that, while subtle, are not insignificant, and I started to wonder:

What EXACTLY is looking especially pretty?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

immd (it made my day)

I just won this for simply answering this.

I AM SO LUCKY! I seriously can't stop smiling. What a great way to close the day, because I am taking this as my sign (at 7:30 pm) to be done with the work I usually finish at 3:00 pm. Hurray!

Also, my compulsive need to comment on your blog (largely because I love it when others comment on mine) finally pays off!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

better than church? i probably shouldn't weigh in...

B: Mom, do you know how lovely it is outside today?

B: Mom, do you know how much I love you?
A: How much?
B: A THOUSAND LOVES. That's a lot, huh?

S: I got some coffee here for ya. You want coffee?
M: Oh yeah, I want coffee!
S: It's the nectar of the gods.
M: Well, I don't want THAT.

(S's/Dad's coffee is rather strong.)

B: 'Scuse me! Burpeded!
A: You are excused.
B: I closed my mouth when I burpeded. It's better when you open. Cuz then you hear it.

J: Weren't you going to church?
S: Yeah, well... we were, but Addie and Blake are here, and we wanted to spend time with them...
J: Well, that's a spiritual experience in itself.

Monday, March 15, 2010

boredom busters

We are sick. The Bedford house is a hot mess. It's all very sad, made worse by the fact that I am a crabby sick person. Blake's perfectly cheerful and not even a little bit LESS talkative despite his head cold, which is really awesome. I haven't snapped his head off once, nor nearly sold him in the grocery store.

Now, I have been CLOSE. But I haven't done it, and I think that deserves a reward. In honor of The Office, I will be making myself a medal out of a yogurt lid. Good enough reward for me!

We're just back from a great trip to see the in-laws (in-loves? I THINK SO!) in Spokane, and I've a couple posts percolating in the back of my mind, but the mucus percolating in the front has definitely got my attention. I'm focused on it, raw noses, sore throats, and hacking coughs, as well as desperate attempts to live better through chemistry (side note: Robitussin syrup STILL tastes awful - wish I'd gotten a pill form of these chemicals).

To keep the boredom at bay (mostly for B, but partly for me, because my focus isn't what it could be, and little breaks are nice), I tend towards the following:
  • LEGO coloring pages. B thanked me several times, and actually said "I really appreciate that you did this!" Open and Print has never felt so good.
  • This American Life. I plug in my headphones and listen to the cache of downloaded podcasts I've got saved. Sometimes, I even learn stuff! But not always.
  • Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! Another NPR offering, but this is a news quiz that sometimes educates, but mostly makes me laugh. Again, podcasts downloaded to iTunes.
  • Table forts!
  • Buggy Jell-O - we got some gummy tarantulas from Aunt Ernie that I've hidden from B. His head is going to EXPLODE when he sees these! I'm excited.
  • Learn From My Fail, for those times I want to laugh or gasp at others.
  • Cheese and Burger Society, for ideas on dinner, read aloud by Puddy/Kronk!
  • Super Mario Brothers for the Wii. I haven't hit it up today, but Rob and I beat almost all of the first world last night, and discovering that this video-game neophyte has hand-eye coordination was illuminating. Also, Rob's so good that all I have to do when I get freaked is "bubble," which keeps me safe while he's beating monsters (you know, those turtles are SCARY).
  • PBS Kids. Simple games that keep Blake entertained for hours. There's a tagline for a show he likes that says "Don't believe me? Just visit and see for yourself!" He always turns to me and says, "Mom, I don't believe Hector. We'll have to go to the computer." Also, I usually don't leave him on there for hours, per se... well, not OFTEN.
Totally unrelated, I got called for jury duty again. I AM SO LUCKY! Rob's trying to sell a wide enough range of electronic items for a friend that someone from Craigslist actually asked if he'd stolen it all. We are loving the sun and just wish we had a yard to play in. Instead, I borrowed a trick from Reese and Naomi and filled a few cheap water bottles with food coloring and water. Blake went nuts painting the snow. We stuck with red, green, and blue, because you never know if your yellow water is art or just a passing donor!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

too legit to quit

I have a friend from back in college, when I was a skinnier little thing. Because she agrees with my assessment of Queen and is proud that I am teaching Blake some fancy moves, she recently sent me this package full of awesomeness. I'm still working on slenderizing to fit it better, but that doesn't stop me from wearing it (see previous sentence about the awesomeness).

And just to be clear, there is an "s" that didn't make it into this pic, so the shirt's clearly about the SONG, not the wagon I'm draggin'. The front says "Queen" and "Tour 78," so I feel totally legit.

Too legit to quit, even. Thanks, Andie!

Friday, March 5, 2010

for your friday entertainment

B: Uh oh, Mom. I have bad news. Some of my pee wanted to get out of the toilet.
A: That's okay. Just wipe it up.
B: Okay!
Um, Mom? Some of the pee got on my britches.
A: Then change them. No big deal.
B: Okay! It's just that the pee wanted to escape the toilet, so it went on my britches.
A: I think you need to quit giving the pee "desires" and work on aiming better.

B: I don't like it when my zits are popped because mine tend to bleed. Yours don't tend to bleed, do they?
A: Uh, it depends. I don't pop your zits.
B: Yeah, not anymore. Because they tend to bleed.
A: You tend to crack me up.

(after running in circles to get dizzy, then laying down)
B: Whoa. It feels like I'm moving. Like the earth is moving.
A: I bet!
B: It's like God carried me. Without a house.

B: Mom, when I went sledding with the Clark's and rode on their soft sled alone, all by myself, I was like "aah! aah! WHOOOOOOOOOOOA!" I was afraid. I got a little freaked out.

B: Mom, when I am at Auntie Reese's tonight, I will play with my cousins so they won't fight. But I'm not the authority over them to tell them what to do. I'm the authority to play with them so they won't fight. Auntie Reese is the authority over them to tell them what to do. I'm not the authority over her either. I won't boss anyone around when I am there.

(based my typical question of "who put a quarter in you?" which I had not asked yet this day)
B: Mom, Dad put one thousand dollar bills into me, and one thousand monies.
A: You mean quarters?
B: Yeah, quarters too. We'd better spank him for that. Dad is SO naughty!

B: Mom, I like the smell of you.
A: Why thank you!
B: (sniffs deeply) It smells beautiful. And a little weird. I'm sorry that it smells a little weird. I'm sorry if that hurts your feelings.
A: Oh, I'll be okay.
B: (sniffs deeply) Do you like the beautiful smell of you?

B: Mom, do they have a big house?
A: I think it's a nice size, yes.
B: (excitedly) Maybe it's big enough so that they have guest rooms!
A: Uh...
B: And it's probably so big that they have a pet!
(I think he's starting to feel the pinch of our condo... or possibly just internalizing MY thoughts about our condo)

In January and February, a friend and I swapped childcare so that each of us could work. It was a great arrangement that Blake especially loved, because Moira's dad is one of big Blake's old friends, and he has cool things like light sabers, a snow mobile, and a playful heart. Blake also really really loves Moira - he is so gentle with her and went from being annoyed when she cried ("Can you please make that baby stop crying?") to concerned and comforting. But for the life of him, he canNOT say her name correctly: Moira Chloe, pronounced "moy-RA kloh"

B: Mom, I love Moria Chloe.
A: I'm so glad! And try this: MOY-RA.
B: Moria. It's just how I say it. I like the way I say it better.

(after wearing a muscle shirt under his long-sleeved shirt for his first day back to preschool - in order to show his teachers his strong muscles)
B: Ryan at my school told me that he has a big muscle, but I have more than him. Mine are bigger. He just has one muscle, but I have five... or six... or seven.
A: Oh, really?
B: Well, I definitely have five.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

home improvement

A few weeks ago, Rob and I borrowed a nail gun and an air compressor in order to add shelving to our closets. I took pics of the during and after, mostly to show you people that I can live in a disaster area without killing anyone.

I can last two days, three max. Otherwise, watch your back!

The end result is so orderly and SPACE-making that I am in raptures every time I open a closet. Really. I keep dragging people over to see the pretty order and space. Since we've managed to cram fifteen pounds of crap into a five-pound house, space is a really big deal!

Blake's closet, where we keep the paint and other noxious chemicals that can't be in the garage or they'd freeze. You can see we're not total fuddy-duddies: he has a monkey blanket in there too.

The hall closet, still mostly empty, only because I have the drill and toolbox located on the floor of the living room at the moment. They're... holding something down. Something really important.

OK, I just haven't put them away yet.

The laundry closet, all organized and pretty.

The two pantry areas - we added the half shelves in the back, and I can't tell you what a difference they made in here. Before, I had everything stacked up like a precarious game of Jenga, and heaven help us if I needed something off the bottom of the pile.

The organized part of the master closet. We've got a bunch of unorganized stuff on the other side that Rob's trying to sell for a friend... and I didn't even bother taking pictures of that!

With the shelving up, I got all insperred (deliberate misspelling that one dear friend will totally get) to greatness and finally got around to getting these prints I've had for a few years matted and framed.

A friend has a matte cutter and is tolerant of my cooking, so he came over to help out and we fed him. Then I hung them while Rob was out of town. I chose to start with a regional print, Rob chose to start with a Tennessee print, and we've got about ten more we'd like to matte up and frame, eventually.

These are replicas of Depression-era posters promoting the National Parks, and I love their simplicity, clean lines, and limited but bold colors. And everyone I've shown them to is surprised that I love them. I guess they don't look like my taste? The only thing I'd change would be to matte them in cream, but then we'd have had to use gloves or something to protect the mattes from smudges, and I'm just not that careful.

Then I sewed up some pillow cases for new throw pillows on our bed (with mucho help from Reese in the getting started part). I'm not quite sure about the brightness of the turquoise, but maybe I'll fall in love when we get the new soft grey/green paint on the walls in here. Either way, I'm pretty proud of all the stuff we've got going on. The best part is to put all this energy and time into a place we are still enjoying, rather than a place we're trying to sell as quickly as possible.

*I deliberately chose to edit out curse words TWICE in this post. How proud of me are you?!