Thursday, November 4, 2010

A little witch and a turtle

So this year we started talking back at the end of August/early September about what in the world the kids wanted to be for Halloween. Kale was always going to be a turtle, the kid loves them and this is likely the last year he's going to just allow me to pick out and make his costume so I found a pattern and went with it. Haley on the other hand... well, there was a point where she was going to be a Strawberry Shortcake/Alice in Wonderland/Cinderella/Witch. I'm really glad we were able to find a focus there because I can't even imagine what that costume would look like otherwise.

Last year I managed to make Kale a really great dinosaur and subsequently learned that following a pattern is definitely not rocket science... at least not for a kids costume. So I figured this year that I could make two costumes if I started early enough. By the end of September/early October I had patterns and supplies and was off and running. Originally I bought a pattern for Haley, but realized that she had a black shirt and tights were only $5 at Wal-Mart so all I had to do was find her a hat, and sew her a tutu.

Here's the great thing about making your kids' costumes: I could make them as warm and modest as I want. Hence, Kale is head to toe fleece because typically, out here in Colorado, it's like -25 degrees and snowing horizontally. Or so I hear, we've been here for three of them and each one has been uncharacteristically warm - like no coats necessary. But just in case I keep my kids as warm as humanly possible. For Haley, I made her skirt a bit longer than a lot of witch costumes out there (and we just won't even talk about some of the older kid costumes coming down the pipe in the coming years). I did this for two reasons, one, a longer tutu is cute - it gives it a bit more room to fluff, and two, this will fit her for a long while - instead of using an elastic waist (hindsight that might have been better but...) I did a satin ribbon tie so she'll be able to wear this thing for a long time.

Yeah... Blah blah blah. Here's what you're waiting for: the pictures.

This is at the zoo. This is the second year we've done their Boo at the Zoo and really enjoy going around to see the animals while we trick or treat at stands set up by lots of local businesses. Below them are the zebras and "G-Raffes", the tree is there for the vultures but it was a perfect scary backdrop.

For actual Halloween we went to our friends' home - they live in a "Socially Superb" neighborhood. My little girl makes a great witch. Also, we found her a kid's sized hat but it didn't have anything on it, and it really needed something so we got this feather boa stuff and I had to hand sew it to the hat - tedious and there is still a ton of purple fluff roaming around my house, but it really completes the outfit.

No, she is not capable of making a normal face in pictures. I think we used them all up for the wedding.

My Dude-a-Turtle. If you asked him, he was a Scary turtle, but mostly he was just cute and mildly uncomfortable with that shell on him. I wish we got a picture of him from behind, it was a really cool shell.

And the family picture. Jeff really wanted to be The Cat In The Hat, but thought this up at the last minute (I'm sure I could have made him an awesome one too). So we found the kids' dress-up costume, tied it around his neck, pinned it in the back and threw a giant afro wig up in the hat to make it stand up - Done! Cat In The Hat. Now, you can't tell in this picture, because, as usual, I'm overtaken by kids, but I'm wearing a pair of Haley's fairy wings, and her tiara from the wedding, my hair was all loopy and cute.

I've decided that once my kids no longer want or need my costume creating services, I'm going to hire myself out... costume sewing is just fun. Also, while the kids got a ton of candy, there were not nearly enough Butterfingers to pay me for making their costumes - bummer. Oh, and BTW, this year we carved some super awesome pumpkins, I could describe them, but honestly... Boring. We did these the Thursday night before Halloween and I stuck them outside thinking we would just get pictures with the kids on Halloween night when we lit them up. Yeah, Friday was hot and the darn things just melted. They literally look like they melted, all of the faces, and designs just fell from the heat. This is especially sad because four of the 7 we carved (we had a total of 9), we grew ourselves in our garden. We didn't even light them up they looked so pitiful. Note to self for next year.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We're raising runners!

We started running a bit more than a year ago and it's kind of stuck. We go do a 5k in downtown Colorado Springs, it starts and finishes at our favorite Irish Pub. We also did that little run back in June. Aside from my personal goals and benefits, I really wanted to set a good fitness example for my kids. I want for them to grow up in a fun and active environment, I want this to be their normal. I want them to spend time outside running and playing and enjoying it as it's something that's taken me till my late 20's to fully embrace. Yes, I was athletic growing up, I loved to swim, but now, I love lots of things and I want my kids to start out being diverse in their activities.

Being that the kids are 2 and 3 there aren't a lot of "organized" things available to them beyond maybe a tumbling class and some soccer theory. So when we heard about the Venetucci Farms 5/10k and the accompanying kids fun runs, we were in! I ran the 5k that morning with a friend and we paid the $5 each for the kids to do a 400m dash. It was a quick lap, Kale was one of the final finishers, and Haley tripped, but they both crossed the finish line with a huge smile on their face and really enjoyed themselves. It didn't hurt that they both got first place ribbons and a pumpkin for running either. We had a great day at the farm with the kids getting some great fresh air and a bit of exercise.

At the starting line... you can see us at the top left of the picture.

Boys club off to a strong start!

And Girls Club coming around the last corner. We went last weekend to support some of our friends who were competing in the Denver Rock n Roll Half Marathon and I couldn't help but look forward to the day when Haley will run on of those too and you'd better believe it'll be Girls Club running there too (which means I'd better get a bit faster and stick with this thing).

Boy's Club finishing the race!

So the rule at the pumpkin patch was, the kids could only pick a pumpkin they could carry out of the patch, they both really pushed that limit. They carried it a good few feet, then they might have got a bit of help (shhh...).

A family picture and again, getting both kids to look at the camera is never easy. This is the best we could do.

On her way to running the world

It's not that I would call my daughter bossy... well... yeah maybe that's the best explanation for her. But a more "parent" term would be to call her a leader, one who takes her responsibilities seriously, or (and this might be my favorite), she's sure of herself and her abilities. This is something that I really try to instill in her. Independence, and self esteem, it's something I sure never lacked at her age and I feel it's served me well. All of this to say that she has found her environment. Haley started Preschool this fall at a really great Co-Op school. Up front Co-Op means that every 6-8 weeks the parents get to go into the classroom to help out the teacher, we provide snacks, and help with clean-up, but I also get a great insight into how my child behaves in an educational environment, one with her peers, not just her brother.

To say that she loves school wouldn't quite let you fully understand what a part of her life this has become. She lives to go to school. When we tell her it's a school night, we might as well tell her Santa's coming too. It's a big deal. We set her clothes out the night before and she always seems to wake up a few minutes earlier on school days. She doesn't complain as much about me doing her hair because it's "for school" and on those occasions when her behavior lacks a little lustre, it's great to be able to hold it over her head. I sure hope that still works when she's in high school.

So I mentioned that we set her clothes out the night before. I'm just going to fess to this before someone rats me out... her dress is on backwards for all of these pictures. For the record, she dressed herself the first morning of school and the only thing that denotes the back of the dress from the front (aside from a tag) is a little button that should be on her collarbone, instead it's on her back shoulder. Whatever. We all made it out the door on time, and she made it to school, what can you do. I guess she and Kale are now even - in his first pictures I put his little Nike's on backwards. Whatever. Go ahead, take away my Mom of the Year prize, I'm sure I've lost it from lots of other infractions, but we just won't go there.

So her backpack is an adorable preschool size pack from the North Face. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Turns out they send a lot of stuff home in preschool... giant works of art, normal size pieces of paper... lots of things... and a preschool size backpack is actually not anywhere near an appropriate size. Have I replaced it yet? No. I refuse to buy into Dora, and all the other commercial characters until I absolutely have to.

Haley and her good friend Yanni, who also started school the same day, but a different class.

Probably one of my most favorite pictures ever. Ever. EVER.

Dropping her off at the door, this is Mrs. Cooper, Haley's head teacher (there's also Mrs. Rose who's her classroom helper everyday). She was fine, not one tear, or even hint of sadness or nerves, she was ready. Me? Yup, I was fine too, I knew how excited she was and was excited for her, this was the beginning of what Jeff and I can only hope is a long and successful educational career. Kale? He yelled "Sissy!" "Sissy NOW!" all the way down the hall in tears. What would he do with out her? Just so you know... Mom is not nearly as fun to hang out with as Sissy is. But he's figuring it out which is turning out to be a learning process for him too.

Balloon Classic Round 2

On of the things that kind of marks the end of our summer around here is the Annual Balloon Classic that takes place every Labor Day weekend. We went last year (kind of amazing to see how much they've grown since last year), and didn't want to miss out on it again this year. Once again we went early in the morning to watch lift off and some balloons almost didn't make it up since here in Colorado, while it might be nice on the ground, just a few more feet up and it can be a bit nasty, colder temperatures, gustier winds, etc. But most chose to head up and it was another big hit with the kids. Once again we went with some of our great friends and were able to get some fun family pictures, although it seems like the kids tag team on who wants to be the one to smile for the pictures. This day must have been Haley's because Kale is grumping in nearly all of them.

This was actually at the end of the day as we were on our way out. I love it because it's a family picture where we didn't dress-up, it just really represents how we are on a normal day (including me with a ponytail and sunglasses on). The only exception is Dude-a-Man who clearly didn't want his picture taken.
But then there's my little ham, with some "cheese" thrown in. One of the things we worked on before the wedding was a good smile for pictures, this is the byproduct of my hard work. I love this picture of her!

The Girls. It's not uncommon when we head out for us to split into pairs, The Dude prefers "Dude time" with Dad, and Haley likes "Girls Club". We race in almost everything we do as it seems to be the best motivator to get her to do anything and if Girls Club wins, it's a good day, on the occasion that Boys Club beats us... well, we're working on being a good sport which isn't easy to do when you come from two highly competitive parents.

Yup, wouldn't be the Balloon Classic if I didn't have some random scenery pictures of hot air balloons being blown up.

Yeah, this was pretty much the morning. Haley learned how to do "Bunny Ears" for pictures, yup kid, real hilarious and original. None the less, she did them everywhere, so here she is doing that and the boys are wrestling, like they do all. the. time.

MmmmHmmm. More scenery pictures. Or, random picture of a lady taking a picture, your call.

And they're off! They go take a quick dip in a lake, then they head off on their float.

Haley just informed me that in this picture they're playing tag. I think that someday they're going to be embarrassed that I have a picture like this. These two go to the same pre-school and may even start kindergarten together, not to mention they only live right up the street from us. The only thing missing is the Dude, who's usually in on it too.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yeah, yeah, yeah, get off my back...

So as you may have noticed, it's been a little while since I last posted a blog update. I know. I've been meaning to, and we keep doing cool thinks and I keep thinking it's going to be so fun to do a post about this, and then I remember what all i have to blog before we can get to it, and I get all kinds of overwhelmed and just scrap it for another day. Anyway. It's another day, I've forced myself. And I've decided to just throw all of August into one giant post since once I've over that it'll be a lot easier to get some of the smaller posts finished. Okay, done with my whining, on with my typing...

We (being me and the kids, because someone has to work to allow us to do this stuff...) went home for THE. ENTIRE. MONTH. OF. AUGUST. Bottom line: it was FAN.FREAKIN.TASTIC. This wasn't just a "Hey, my work travels well, lets go to Seattle for a month" kind of trip, it was a "My cousin is getting married, half of us are in the wedding, and by God, I'm not missing a moment of this" kind of trip home. And I don't think there was one thing we missed out on. We got out there the 31st of July, and didn't come home till September 1st.

First up on the list was just enjoying the fact that we didn't have to cram a million things into two week's worth of vacation. So we went to watch a bit of my brother Ben's swim team practice at a pool that Jeff and I both have spent many hours in.

After Ben was done with practice, we got the kids into their swim stuff and hopped in with him. This is the same pool that I did two swim team's worth of practice in, Jeff did his diving and water polo in, while we were in high school. Oh, and there's this whole other lifeguarding/swim instructing thing that we did there through high school (and beyond for me) too. Yeah, you could say that this pool is partially responsible for the existence of my kids. It was like a crazy homecoming, life coming full circle kind of thing for me. Except for the power-trippy, lifeguard, who clearly didn't know my history with this building, gosh I hope I wasn't like that as a guard. It was really cool watching my brother enjoy swimming so much too, it's pretty clear that us Schwabs are good in the water, my only regret was that I didn't race him. I fear that as he goes into middle school this year, my day's of being able to beat him are quickly passing me by.

Then there was the bridal shower, but I was far too busy helping Lori carry out the party to stop for 4 seconds and take a picture. Moving quickly on to the bachelorette party. If you weren't there then you don't know, and that's all I'm saying about that, other than that it was beyond amazing and so much fun. Having all of us together was like the stars aligning just right, I don't think this has happened since my wedding more than 7 years ago.

I also was part of the birth of what will hopefully become a family tradition, the maiden party of Merv, the party gnome. I swear one of these day's I'm going to create a facebook page for him and all of his awesomeness. That way I can keep up with him from many miles away. Maybe one day someone will drive him out my way... hint hint.

Getting back from the bachelorette party, it was time to get on some real wedding seriousness, like baking a million delicious rosemary cookies that Amanda used as her favors. The really special thing about baking cookies, is this is where the flower girl truly fell in love with the bride. I mean seriously, we had talked with Haley about her responsibilities, but Amanda might as well have been a unicorn as far as Haley was concerned. Amanda showed up that night with a cupcake apron for her to borrow and let her help her all night long baking the cookies. LOVE.

Once the cookie baking was done, Haley cuddled up with "Pumpa" and got ready for bed. Prior to staying at my Aunt Linda's house while she was on vacation, we stayed two of the best weeks of my life with my dad. He really got to spend some quality time getting to know the kids and vise versa. It was perfect, there just aren't any words for it. On a side note, the cookie night ended perfectly, Dad showing his sisters Tosh.O. We had been watching this show and any re-runs and on-demand that we could find and just peeing ourselves wishing everyone could see it.

One of the things I was most looking forward to with wedding prep was taking Haley to her first mani/pedi. While she didn't get the whole deal (we had to keep her attention level in check), she did get them painted. We walked in and she immediately picked the brightest shade of purple on the wall... yeah, not so much. We were able to talk her down to a nice shade of sparkly pink. She did great! I can't wait to take her back and do it again... maybe for her birthday.

The next day was the wedding, we took off to get our hair done and all dressed up pretty. It was an incredible day filled with love and the greatest family ever! Haley and I were so honored to be a part of it. As a side note, I wish I had pictures of all the silly faces Haley was making while she was getting her hair done, I know I'm biased, but she was the cutest flower girl around (lots of other people said so too, though).

Three generations getting ready for the wedding. By the way, LOVED my hair that day. I need to pay someone to make my hair look like that everyday. This is my Aunt Judy (mother of the bride) helping cut the strings out of my dress. Jeff joined us for the wedding but left the next day to go on a week long fishing trip for salmon in Oregon.

From weddings, we went to farms. This is the Elliott Farm. They've known Jeff longer than me (by a long shot), and that's really saying something. If you know my son, than you know that he loves, all things boy, and that by no means stops for tractors, cows, and other livestock. So we never miss a chance to get our personal farm tour. This time happened to come with a ride on the tractor (hauling poo... does it get any cooler?!). Bruce Elliott is officially the coolest guy Kale knows, he drives a tractor and Kale also got to "help" him work on his house, which involved tools too.

Jeff came back and joined us for the last little bit of the trip which meant a play date for the boys. No, not Kale and Luca (his pre-determined BFF), but for Jeff and Sonny. Luckily they picked a great new park in Auburn and the kids had some fun too (though I'm not sure it was as much as the dads). This is one of the swings that fits many kids, Haley loved it, I'm not so sure Luca thought it was cool.

Here's how you know she's my kids. She loves spinning rides. It was painful getting her off of the merry-go-round to go do other things around the park. You couldn't spin it fast enough for her, and she had a blast.

Okay, so if you look at Krystal's facebook page, Luca is the happiest kid you'll ever see. He just really didn't think I was the coolest person in the world. Little does he know. But this is a great picture of Aunt Krystal, Uncle Sonny and (someday) Kale's Brother from Another Mother.

See?! Proof he was on a little bit of the vacation with us! The boys just loved running around the park together (this time my boys, not just Sonny and Jeff).
So the greatest vacation ever! I have to say it made me kind of homesick being around for a longer period of time. It really gave me a taste of what it would be like to live out there with my family, and it felt good. But then I came back to Colorado and it's nice here too. So I've decided that everyone in Washington just needs to move to Colorado with me. Problem solved. See you all soon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

YAY! we have real family photos!

So the day before Jeff and I ran our marathons, we took the kids, plus our nephew Alex to Alki Beach for a photo shoot with one of our friends from high school and her husband (they drove all the way over from Moses Lake). It was really fun and they got some really great, truly Seattle photos of us and the kids! You can check out their blog/our post here!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The LONG and winding road

So in order to get home for the marathons we had to drive - a lot of times for us, it's just easier to do that and have our car, and all the stuff we can shove in it while we're at home than to fly. We'll be doing this trip again in August. It took us two days to get out there and since we were lucky enough to be able to haul the boat home, three days to get back. Here are some highlights of the trip.
Before we even left Colorado Springs, Jeff grabbed a booger from Kale then showed it to him - this was his reaction. This kid is so expressive it cracks us up!

Haley doing her impression of Kale.

The Hampton Inn we stayed at in Tremonton, UT on the way home was so kind as to provide chocolate chip cookies upon check in. Kale looks like the kid who took 25 of them when, in reality it was just one. He liked his cookie.

The kids ready for bed in the hotel. This isn't even close to how they slept though. Haley cuddled with me in this bed while Kale and Jeff hung out in the other bed - Kale only fell out once.

Because this is how he insisted on sleeping. We can't be blamed if he won't let us move him to a safer position.

They both loved reading books, this was Kale's favorite! He's pretty into it, even though he hasn't cracked it open yet.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was going to visit my grandma in her awesome new digs - seriously, I want to move in too. She took us on a tour of the place, and then invited us to stay for lunch - she was the hit, with all her friends coming by to ogle at the kids.

Kale and Daddy taking a walk around the place.

Then he got tired and hitched a ride with Great Grandma on her kart. Downhill wasn't bad (thank God she has breaks on that thing), but going up was a challenge.

She took us to see her garden and I think this is by far the best picture of the entire vacation. It's rare that we get both kids looking at the camera and smiling! I can't wait to print a couple of these!

Grandma Debbie filled their buckets with water one evening when it was warmer and they were able to just play. These kids are such water babies, this is where they're happiest, just a bucket and a way to play with the water.

This is Luca, Jeff's best friend's son. Luca and Kale don't know it yet, but they're predetermined to be BFFs so we get them together whenever we can. And if things don't work out with Caden or Yanni, Haley's welcome to go cougar on this guy. We just hope that someday Luca has a sister - then we can officially consider Sonny and Krystal family. Also, please note that my kids are wearing bibs - they demanded because Luca got to wear one, they're just eating PBJs.


It's no big secret that Jeff and I have been working really hard at being healthy and getting into better shape. Last year for our Christmas letter I threw out there that my next goal was that I wanted to run a half marathon. Ours being a marriage of "Anything you can do, I can do better", Jeff upped the ante and decided to run the full (that's 26.2 miles) - I folded and stayed with the half. We chose to run the Seattle Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, because we thought it would be nice to have family there to support us, and honestly, we knew it would be easier to run at sea level (and why not get every advantage we can get). June 26th we did it! Let me say this again: WE. DID. IT. I'm proud to say that we both finished, and with great times to boot!
I went into this saying that if I finished that was great, then it became, "well, I'd like to do it in 3 hours", then it was "I think I can run the whole thing". I ended up running all 13.1 miles, and finished with a time of 2:32:15. 2 minutes and fifteen seconds away from two and a half hours. The competitor that I am, I know that I can do it in under two and a half and thus becomes my next goal (sometimes being so darn goal orientated can be such a burden - HA!).

The race was absolutely a ball. I got to run on places that people are only able to drive (like the commuter lanes of I-5), along parts of Lake Washington that I've never seen before and all kinds of other great places. Jeff got to run on the I-90 floating bridge and on the Alaskan Way Viaduct! The weather was perfect and the entire experience was more than I hoped for. The best part? Seeing Molly, my dad and Ben as I came down the finish line and their high 5's! Witnesses that I finished! Nobody tells you how emotional it is to finish something like this, I hugged my sister in the meet up place and cried like a baby! I did it! And, since I believe that no blog is complete without pictures, here ya go! If you want to see pictures of me actually running the race go here (there's one of me at the finish where I look like I'm going to die), Jeff running the race - go here (his are pretty cool).
At the start line we got to run underneath the Brooks Rocker's legs. I can die now.
Yes, I realize it's blurry, but the lighting was crud, and did I mention I WAS RUNNING?! This is in one of the commuter tunnels.
My first glimpse of the city! The end is near!

After Jeff and I finished! I'd been done for a bit, but I gave him about 5 minutes to stretch and sit before I made him take this picture. He did his race in 4:30:14!

My medal! I love that there is a coffee cup on it, and that it looks like the Pike Place sign.

Jeff's medal! 26.2 miles! I still can't wrap my head around running that distance!