Friday, December 14, 2012

Project 52 {50}

My favorite thing about you:
You need to figure things out for yourself.

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This project was all her.  From what's inside to wrapping it, to writing out the tag, curling the ribbon - Her.  She picked out the gift, the paper, the color of ribbon and the tag.  She was bent on doing it herself.  Was it perfect?  Yes.  Because I didn't have to do it, and because she succeeded in wrapping it.  She asked for help when she needed it (sometimes wrapping presents takes more than two hands, especially almost six year old hands).  

And before I get too into this, it was Christmas hat day at school - she wasn't just wearing that because she was wrapping presents, she seriously hasn't taken it off since she put it on at about 9:00 this morning. 

Both of my kids have an inherent need to do things for themselves.  Gee, I wonder where that comes from.  Yeah, I'm sure lots of kids are like this, it's kind of a kid trait.  It seems like mine have been like this from birth:  happy to figure things out - legos, writing, getting dressed...  Time permitting, I try my best to let them struggle through on their own, but dude, that's tough.  I know they need to do it for themselves, but so help me, sometimes we need to make it out the door in the next four hours.  But those times when I unleash holy patience on them and actually allow them to fight through on their own, the sense of their accomplishment is so rewarding (not just for them). 

Having patience with my kids is something I need to practice.  A lot.  I'm crappy at it.  Yes, I admitted it.  My name is Meghan, and I lack patience with my children (you can go ahead and take away this week's mom of the year prize too).  I wish things would happend when I want.  I wish they would happen how I want.  But you know what my father-in-law says about wishing? 

"You can wish in one hand and {poop} in the other and see which one fills up."  
-Glenn Roberson

And it's true.  I can wish all day long that they would figure it out, but unless I give up my do/go now schedule(every once in a while, at least), grab some patience by the short hairs and hunker down, they'll never learn and I'll be doing it for them till the day they leave for college - and that's just fact.  So a little bit of patience on my end now, truly can go a long way.  And God willing, one day I'll never have to wrap anyone's presents but hers, because she can do it for me!

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?


Monday, December 10, 2012

Project 52 {49}

My favorite thing about you:
You fight

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Herein lies another of those moments when you fear that I may have finally lost my marbles.  Rest assured, most marbles are in fact present and accounted for.  Today.  Yup, I like it when my kids fight.  You are permitted to ask me "Why you crazy lady, WHY?!".  Well for one, because when they do it with one another, they're not doing it with me.  But also because they take nothing from each other.  Yes, they get physical sometimes (okay, about 50%), and that's (usually) when I step in (hey, I lost Mother of the Year long ago - I might as well shoot for meanest).  Lastly, some of their fights are just down right entertaining to me (until they get whiney).  

This week we have finally begun teaching the boy that it's never, okay to hit a girl.  No, not even your sister.  I know.  She can't hit him either, but it's a total double standard because if he hits first, she can absolutely whale back.  And she does.  But that's the end.  It's never allowed the other way around.  Like I said: Double Standard.  But it's important to drill home respect of the women in your lives and while it starts with modeling behavior at home, and reiterating that montessori phrase:  "USE. YOUR. WORDS." it comes down to the fact that she's a girl and you never, ever lay a hand on one.  Did I say ever?  Ever.  So there.

So, here's what this all boils down to:  Fighting is fine.  You can fight over what color the towels are, the fact that one of you always cleans up more than the other, or even that the other is sitting too close and breathing on you (yes, they've fought about this).  You may not use your hands, feet or other body parts.  Fighting is healthy communication when done the right way.  Though if we continue on this path, I'm investing in a few of those giant sumo suits and a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots set.  We'll start settling stuff my way...

Saturday night we took the kids to the Electric Safari, we came around the corner and saw the fighting kangaroos.  Jeff says "Look!  It's Haley & Kale!" So they stood over it and played around with each other.  I stood there and took the picture.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Project 52 {48}

My favorite thing about you:
You're game.

f/3.5 1/80 ISO100 (Flash - Obviously)

Got some hair-brained awesome idea?  Talk to my kids.  They're up for it.  Can you sell it as "Quite possibly the greatest thing they'll ever do.  In their entire lives!"?  Totally game.  My kids are most definitely "yes" people.  At almost 6 and 4.5 years old, my kids think little about their decisions.  And that's great.  They don't consider their limitations, because at that age, lets be honest:  The only thing that could possibly hold them back is their size.  We have little concept of the "Risk of life or limb" idea.  And while I'm sure that running with the bulls, or skydiving would be really great, I am not one of those people.  I strive to be, but sometimes I just want to sit in the house with my covers pulled up to my chin and watch a little television.  

We talked a bit this week about the idea of courage, and that's something my kids have in spades. We're not a family who believes in a lot of fear (though, as a mother, I have enough for all four of us.  Times infinity.  But never let them see you scared).  We dismiss the idea of being afraid of the dark.  Rather, if it's something that makes you uncomfortable; fix it.  Turn the bathroom light on yourself.  Don't like the thunder?  Lets find a way to make it less scary - discuss how it occurs, a way to think or rationalize around it.  Things you understand are far less threatening.  Afraid that you physically can't do something?  Most of the time the worst thing that can happen is that you can't and with a little practice, that can change.  Being afraid of failure is absolutely unacceptable for these two.  It's my job to make sure that they know with preparation and support anything is possible.  That's not to say that failure is unacceptable.  It absolutely is.  But to use fear as a means to keep you from even trying... nuh-uh.  

All of this to tell you that this week we went to the city's Parade of Lights with our good friends.  We all packed into my car and headed down to the madness.  It was a great time, with hot chocolate, and pretty amazing peanut butter (and jelly in a container, not on your PBJ) sandwiches.  Side note:  if you have a PB & Jellies near you:  GO!!  The kids saw a pretty well make-upped Jacob Marley, rattling his chains right at them.  Scared the crap out of them.  But with a little discussion (and distraction) before bed, we were able to talk through the fear of him.  We moved on and one fewer thing in this world for them to be afraid of.  Because, being honest again:  As they grow there will be plenty of time and things for them to be afraid of.  But if you let fear keep you from doing things, you'll never accomplish anything of greatness.  Be game for whatever life has headed your way.  

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Project 52 {47}

My favorite thing about you is:
You're gullible.  

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Here again is where I win the "Mother of the Year" prize.  Your trust in your father and I is infallible.  I guess, as it should be.  I mean, why would a parent intentionally mislead, or (gasp) lie to their child?  Oh... Christmas time.  And a few other times (because it's just not appropriate to explain to an almost 6 year old what blood alcohol levels are, because *technically* babies really are put there by God, and because sometimes you just don't need to know the truth... yet).

So, it's Christmas time again.  And like I mentioned last week, our Elf on the Shelf: Mortimer came back.  I also explained his greatness last week as well.  But just like last year, the poor guy has barely been around a week and already he's sidelined at the North Pole.  Remember when I said I wanted to be the mom who invented him?  If I had been said mom, I would have included the clause that if you touched him he unleashed some kind of pent up vitriolic elf rage.  There would be no going back to the North Pole - I deal with these kids single handedly 365 days a year, save for when he swoops in for a month and takes on the tattling.  Is it too much to ask that he stick around for the promised month-ish?!  No slacking my little friend.  It's common knowledge that the first rule of fight club is do not talk about fight club.  And if you're on a playground anywhere in the United States, I'm pretty sure the the kids will tell you that the first rule of Elf on the Shelf is no touching the Elf on the Shelf.    

Well, the other night he brought all of our Christmas books.  He was minding his business checking out his Elf: The Movie book, when Haley was looking for one to read.  She touched the basket holding the books and accidentally knocked Mortimer over.  I imagine (because I wasn't actually there) that she reached to set him back up again, forgetting the rules, but thus touching him none the less.  To preserve the magic, the rules must be followed.  And even though I can't tell you with certainty that that's how the situation went down, I'm not dumb - and I know how this almost 6 year old operates.  

That's the thing about your kids.  You hang around them long enough and you know the words that are going to come out of their mouth, before they can even think them.  And you know how they'll react to certain things.  Except when they tell you that the lyrics to "Feliz Navidad" are absolutely not "Feliz Navidad", but are in fact "Denise Nobby Lob" or "Elise La De Da" depending on which kid you ask (but you're an idiot to think it'd be "Feliz Navidad").  Nobody can see that coming.  But I know how Haley would be in this particular situation.  Did she have good intentions?  Absolutely.  Did she honestly forget?  Yup.  But did she lie her little face off about it?  You bet.  So we had to follow through on the consequences, because the last thing you want is an almost 6 year old who starts to critically think about Christmas magic.  Yes, a few weeks ago I did say that I wanted my kids to be critical thinkers, but not this time of year.  I still need to be able to lie to them.  They need to know that Santa is real.  That Mortimer really is working for the big guy.  That I really do have the big guy on speed dial just incase.  And that God really does put babies in mommies tummies.  

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Project 52 {46}

My favorite thing about you:
You're festive.

f/2.8 ISO-200 1/10 (why it's blurry, don't look too close...)

This week we learned that one of the local radio stations is playing all day Christmas music (yes, I know, already).  And yes, we listen to it.  Save me the lectures on how it's not even Thanksgiving, I realize this.  But here's the thing.  Thanksgiving?  Not all it's cracked up to be (if you're a mom who has to manage the kids and also a turkey).  It's an excuse to eat a big honkin' meal.  Great idea America, but if it's all the same to you, I'll cook my turkey, but I'm moving straight from Halloween into Christmas.

So yes, we listen to Christmas music everywhere we go.  We talk about which ones are my favorite (Carol of the bells by anyone who does it normal, and Christmas Canon by Trans Siberian Orchestra) and which are my mom's favorite (Ann Murry's Holly and the Ivy), and which are Grandma's favorite (Celine Dion anything) and their favorites (Little Drummer Boy and anything found in a movie: Frosty, Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming to town - a fantastic reminder this time of year but I digress).  Our Elf on the Shelf: Mortimer also showed up early (he we needed for our Christmas pictures).  And can I just tell you that I wish I was the mom who came up with that idea?!  She's an effing genius.  Yeah, that's right, I said effing on my blog.  In a Christmas post.  That's how genius she is.  I love Mortimer; coming up with ideas for him (thank you Pinterest), and just the fact that at any point in the day I can say "Mortimer, totally saw that"!  Plus, they cut back on their tattle-tailing to me by about 50% and just send it to Mortimer.  He and I are partners in crime.  I never want him to go back to the North Pole, just actually hang out here on a shelf the other 11 months of the year.

They love this time of year, and while I can say that Christmas is exclusively great, and kids are pretty awesome too, having kids at Christmas makes life worth living.  And that, my friends, is something to be thankful for.  And Mortimer.  I'm thankful for him too.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Project 52 {45}

My favorite thing about you:
Your persistence  

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We have high expectations for our kids.  Really high.  I've (kind of) joked that in having Jeff and I for parents, did anyone really expect our kids to be dumb?  I mean, I first met him in our series of honors courses in 8th grade.  We took many honors and AP classes together throughout our educational career.  I can't imagine my kids not being honor students as well.  In fact, if given the choice between best kid on the (insert sport here) team, or in honors/AP courses, I'd pick the academics every time.  Life is just easier if you're not dumb.  So I work with the kids.  A lot.  My goal was to have Haley reading before she started kindergarten, and she was.  We'll do this with Kale as well.  I try my best to have intelligent conversations with them, even if we're just driving around in the car.  When they were babies we'd talk about what color something was on a walk.  I strive to use adult words with them.  They're not afraid to ask if they don't know what a word means.  I've never had to tell them what a word means more than once.  Sometimes I have to explain things a bit more simply, but they'll grasp it and down the road we can get more complex.  We don't avoid topics, and if I don't know, we ask Siri, or look it up on the computer.  I want them to understand that curiosity makes you smarter, and it's okay not to know something as long as you seek the answer to it.  

So, persistence.  Yes, I have high expectations, Haley's teacher's are higher (LOVE).  Especially when it comes to handwriting.  I'd sent Haley off knowing that she knew how to write upper and lowercase everything.  Her teacher expects perfection.  Not kindergarten perfection, real life perfection (on one of my room mom days she needed to see my handwriting before she would let me write out sentences).  Part of her phonograms is knowing all of the sounds that correspond with the letter, the other part is being able to write the letter.  She can tell you rote what each letter sound is, in the order of common use for the first 26 letters of the alphabet.  She can write each letter such that you know what letter she's shooting for.  Perfection?  We're not quite there yet.  She had a test this week on her most recent phonograms and needed to write the letters, so we drilled.  And drilled.  AND DRILLED.  She knew the sounds so I didn't focus so much on that, but we printed out many a writing sheet, and I wrote out the letters, made her copy them, gave her the dots then she had to do it all by herself.  You could see the improvement right there on the page.  She's getting there.  And she wants to do it.  She knows what's expected of her and really tries her hardest to meet those expectations.  

How will you know what you kids are able to accomplish if you don't place those high expectations on them?  And not just academically, but physically, and behaviorally.  In our house we expect academic success (even in preschool and kindergarten).  We expect them to treat their body in a healthy way, eating the right kinds of foods to help them grow, and to exercise to be strong and capable.  We expect good manners at all times.  My job (like I've said a million times on here) is to equip them to go into the world and be successful adults.  With the persistence to meet the expectations we put on them now, they'll be ready to meet them in the future as well.  

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Project 52 {44}

My favorite thing about you:
Your stick-to-it-ivness.

Both f/2.8 ISO-100 

Kids in general are a fickle creature.  Not my kids.  When they make up their minds thats it.  Done.  It took a long long time to train them into this, but we're finally confident in our choices. It used to be, with Kale especially, they would get a choice between A and B, they'd choose A and immediately regret that decision and go with B.  Drove us nuts.  Make a decision and stick with it.  Deal with the consequences (however they may fall), and live with your choices.  Yeah, sometimes that meant drinking milk, when you meant to pick juice, but someday it could mean something a lot bigger.  I want them to be critical thinkers, really weigh the outcome of the options they've been given and when they finally make a decision move forward with confidence. Many times in life there are no do-overs.  

What in the world does this have to do with their Halloween costumes?  I'll tell you.  Haley picked this out two years ago.  She wanted to be a devil last year for Halloween, but we sat down and talked about the fact that it might be the only year she could go as Emily Elizabeth (with Atlas as Clifford the Big Red Dog), and she decided to concede, on the condition that this year she could be a Devil.  This year rolled around and months before she knew what she wanted to be (and thankfully left the details up to me).  She got some mixed reactions (here in the land of Focus on the Family) about being a devil from some pretty important people in her life, but she confidently held strong to her convictions and never once wavered in her choice.  

Kale also knew months ago that he wanted to be a ninja.  Easy choice since he is a ninja.  He'll tell you:  "It's okay, I'll protect you, I'm a ninja" comes out of his mouth nearly everyday.  So in the middle of September we were wandering through Target with Grandma and he saw this costume.  I was wary of him picking one so early, and I didn't want him to see something down the road and regret his decision.  He didn't.  Not for one second.  

Someday they'll have to pick a college to go to (God willing), and a major, a spouse.  Serious life decisions.  I want them to weigh their options, make informed choices and never for one second regret the direction they pick.  Pick what's right for them, not the pressured choice or the easy choice.  They're the ones who have to live the outcome.  

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Project 52 {43}

My favorite thing about you is:
Your memory.

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Here's the thing:  I'm in a conundrum.  Your memory is Ah-maze-ing.  Like, close to photographic.  I'd like to believe that it's just how great you are, but then there's this part of me that wonders if it's only because it has roughly five years of life to remember.  For now, lets assume greatness.

This week your classroom hosted Mother Goose (your principal).  It was your assignment to find a rhyme, memorize a line of it and come up with a costume.  Caution: Rabbit Trail:  Can I just tell you how much fun it was to see all of your classmates dressed up as nursery rhyme characters?  So much fun!  Everyone went way above and beyond to make sure they truly dressed the part.  But I digress (at least I warned you this time...).  Anyway, you chose to be Jill (of "Jack and Jill").  And you didn't just memorize one line, but all of the most common part of it (it wasn't till later we learned there was more to it - now we know).  We practiced it, and you even decided to do a curtesy at the end (naturally).  So you were one of the last ones to go (you got nervous - yes you, the lead in your ballet class because you couldn't stand anything less) got shy in front of kids you see every day.  I think Mother Goose did you in, it was like standing next to a celebrity - I get it.  But you got up, said your lines like a champ, took your pictures, and went back to your seat.  It was great - I was SO proud.  

So anyway... this memory of yours.  It's made me lazy.  You're like my Siri that never runs out of battery, and understands most everything I tell you.  I rarely have to repeat myself.  Your mind is a steel trap.  Can't remember how an event went down?  Ask Haley.  Want to know about a show you watched six months ago?  Ask Haley.  Seven things on my grocery list?  Tell Haley.  It helps that you're a pretty fallible liar too.  So long as you're paying attention, it goes right into your brain and that's where it stays for that moment forever from now when you (or I) need it again.  

I hope your memory stays as clear as it is now.  I hope all of the wonderful things you're remembering stay right there in your brain just as bright as they are today.  What a great gift you've been given.  

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Project 52 {42}

My favorite thing about you is:
You're strong.

f/2.8 ISO-100 1/4000

Not necessarily physically, although to ask you, you'd say you're the strongest person in the world.  But strong in character.  To be strong in your character at this age is no small accomplishment.  You know right from wrong and in your world, it's pretty black and white.  There is good and evil, and you unfailingly fall on the side of good.  You're like a preschool superhero.  I should make you a cape.  

Everyday when we pick you up from school, we turn the music off in the car and do our best to have a good long conversation about your day.  What was your favorite part?  Was it a good day? What did you have for snack?  Did anything bother you?  With your sister this conversation almost always lasted the whole way home.  With Kale, if I can squeeze 5 minutes and anything more than one word answers, I chalk that up in the win column. The win column has very few points in it.  But Friday afternoon, you had lots to tell me.  

Here was (according to my memory) a recounting of the conversation:
Me:  So what did you do today?
Kale:  We went outside (a VERY common qualifier of a good day).
Me:  Oh yeah?  What did you do out there?
Kale:  I told *Boy* to stop teasing my buddy!
Me:  What was he doing to your buddy to tease her?
Kale:  He was saying mean words.
Me:  That's great that you saw someone being mean to another person and you told them to stop.  That's a very big boy thing to do.  It's important to stand up to people being mean to others.  Buddies or not.
Kale:  What does stand up mean?
Me:  Uhh...  You saw something you knew was wrong, and you did your best to make it right.  
Kale:  Oh, yeah.  I did that.  

I was so proud at that moment I wanted to cry.  Kale is significantly bigger than this other boy, and sometimes (at home) he forgets his words and uses his actions instead.  Jeeze, is that a montessori sentence or what?!  But this time, when it counted, he used his words and stopped the boy.  You hope as a parent that you're raising good kids.  On the whole, if I could pick the characteristics of my kids, cute and athletic would be pretty far down on the list.  Are they good people?  Hard workers?  Smart?  Do they make good choices?  That's what I'm after.  Someone, who, when I turn them loose to the big wide world, will contribute to the greater good.  Productive members of society.  Now, here's where I jinx myself:  I think we're on the right track.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Project 52 {41}

My favorite thing about you is:
Your smile.

f/2.8 1/50 ISO-250                                                f/1.8 1/50 ISO-250

I drug my feet on what I was going to do for the Project 52 this week.  Nothing was really striking me.  All week we'd be working on this tooth.  Oh, this tooth!  It was loose, really loose, like nearly 180 degrees of lateral wiggle.  Here's how the conversations between the two of us went:

Haley:  Mommy, my tooth is so loose!  Look!  LOOK!
Me:  Let me see (reach my hand into her mouth to check on the wiggle).  [Side note:  Every time I would tell her Wiggle - my word vomit would continue Wiggle wiggle YEAH! - my brain is telling me that it's probably inappropriate to sing "I'm Sexy and I Know it" lyrics to my 5 year old, but I JUST. CAN'T.  STOP.  MYSELF.]
Haley: SEE?!  It's SO LOOSE!

Only we couldn't just pull it out because Jeff was gone for a chunk of this week and I knew he would want to be around for the festivities.  So it was like "Pull it out!  But don't pull too hard!"  So the tooth (literally) hung in there till Friday afternoon.  She was sitting on the couch with Jeff and he asked if she could twist it, and out it popped.  She knew she should be happy, but there were little tears just barely pricking the corner of her eyes.  

It's like she knew (as well as I did) that this was another phase in her growing up and she wasn't quite ready for it.  Truthfully, I didn't realize that I wasn't so ready for it either.  Every time I look at her, it's a different kid looking back at me.  A bigger one.  One that's missing teeth.  And that tooth that's right next to it, front and center?  That's on its way out too.  And thus begins yet another stage of growing up. 

And for the record... A) you must be financially prepared for the Tooth Fairy.  That means cash on hand.  These kids don't accept debit cards under their pillows (well... maybe, but I'm pretty sure within moments the entire American Girl store would be located in her room - and even for a first time around, that's a little excessive for the Tooth Fairy, also, I don't carry a debit card with the Tooth Fairy's name on it - and this girl can read my name.  Plot foiled.  B) She came quipped with a $5 bill folded up in the shape of a heart and a "receipt" stating:  name, date, girl, reward amount, and signed with a flourish.  One of these nights after bedtime, I'll design up something fancy, but for now, this served the purpose. 

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Project 52 {40}

My favorite thing about you is:
You're cheerful.

Learned a lesson in uploading photos to the new computer this week.  

There is so much that I love about this picture.  First of all... her calves - Jeeze!  I bet that comes from all of her cross country as of late.  Second of all, the look on the other kids' faces; pure awe.  And they should be in awe of her, look at how high that kick is!  

So last week I spoke of how being active was important to our family.  Cheer camp was part of that, and I really think that Haley found something she loves here.  Once again this week, we're going to the AF football game and she assumed she'd be cheering.  Talk about disappointment when she found out she wasn't.  That was a moment of being not so cheerful.  

So aside from the obvious cheeriness (according to spellcheck not picking that word up, that's a word, who knew?!) pictured above, my two little ones are overall pretty darn happy kids.  They have moments of small disappointment, but, en masse; happiness.  They can find the bright side in all kinds of less than ideal situations.  I'm a naturally "look on the bright side" kind of person, definitely a "glass is half full" outlook around here.  Sure there are situations that require a Devil's Advocate (it's called being realistic about the situation and looking at all possible outcomes), but to focus on the negative brings a pessimistic view of the world.  Constantly looking for the downside of things only teaches negativity.  Is that how you'd like your children to think?  There's a positive to most everything and every situation.  Find it, concentrate on it.  You bring about what you think about.  So bring about good things, positive things, cheerful things.  A great attitude attracts others with happy hearts, and isn't that what we all want to be surrounded by?  

Want to check out some other super great Project 52 eye candy?
Can I link you too?  Leave me a comment.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Project 52 {39}

My favorite thing about you:
You're active.

f/2.8 1/2500 ISO-100

Over the past few weeks, active would be an understatement.  You go to school, and even at half days just four days a week, or 2.5 hours three days a week, that keeps us pretty busy.  But now that you're in school... oh boy.  There's been Landsharks, an elementary school cross country program that practices three days a week and has meets on Sundays.  Today started the Kids Fall Series, another series of cross country races that both of you do.  Then there's Daisies every other Thursday.  This week we signed you up for cheer camp through the Air Force Academy (2 hours of practice, plus a trip to the football game for you to cheer at half time - yeah, twist our arms, that was a sacrifice).  

We're just busy and I'm finding it difficult to say no.  Partially because I want you to have all the experiences that I had in school.  But especially because you're having so much fun and you're keeping your body moving.  I know I've said it before (and honestly, I'm too tired to find the link), but keeping your body busy is the best way to keep it healthy.  We do our best to make smart decisions about what we use to fuel your body and you're starting to figure it out too (Both of you think Soda is a bad word).  But keep moving.  Do a little everyday and you'll stay healthy for your whole life.

Here's the other thing.  Soon we're going to get cold here.  I saw on the forecast that snow is coming a week from tomorrow (we're still supposed to have one day this week in the 80's, but that's Colorado for ya!).  We'll be forced indoors for the winter and our only outlet will be our (all too sparse) trips to the gym.  Let's get it in while the getting's good!  We live in a beautiful state and have beautiful weather - let's take advantage.  

We do our best to set a good example for you.  You've seen us run a few marathons, some half marathons, gone with us on (lots) of 5K's.  I spent the greater part of the summer at the pool swimming with you guys (or watching you swim).  You know that we go to the gym in part to let you play, but also so that I can exercise and make my body healthy.  Having a healthy body is something that's important to our family.  I look forward to seeing what sports you pick out as your favorites and hope that it's something your dad or I did as kids.  But if you don't and you pick a different path, different from ours, that's okay too - we'll still be right there cheering you on.  Even if you turn out to be mathletes.  Hey, an active brain is just as important as an active body.  

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Friday, September 21, 2012

And other happenings of the last week(+)

With the beginning of school, comes the beginning of activities, among happenings around here.  So many things I photographed this week and last that didn't make it to Project 52, but I still felt like they required a post of their own.  

First up, we FaceTimed with our BFF's a bit more than a week ago.  Seriously.  What did we do before technology like this?  Write letters?  But where was the instant gratification?  How did you know what their house looked like, what their backyard looked like, what the weather was right then?  How the kids sounded?  Begs the question, what are we living without right now?  It was great to see them.  The kids really missed each other (and so did the parents).  

We roasted marshmallows with turn-ey sticks and toes for props.  And OMG!  Look!  It's me!

We played with my phone in the great outdoors.  Mommy fail.  If he hadn't been completely and utterly bored waiting for his sister to race, this would have been totally unacceptable.  As it was, when she finally ran by he missed her, and she noticed he wasn't cheering.  So this weekend, he can just be bored to tears, let the whining commence.

Speaking of racing... We had our first Kindergarten Cross Country race.  Haley ran a half mile in 5:57!  For the record, that's faster than my marathon pace.  Our good friend, a first grader, won the half mile with a time of 3:31.  That's faster than my one mile pace.  By a lot.  

We took first day of school pictures in pajamas (Dad had to leave for work early).  And the smile was better than any other one I got that day with Kale.  

We jumped in puddles.  We finally got a day of rain, which left tiny puddles on the patio after school.  Puddles just right for putting on her (far too small on her feet) galoshes, grabbing her Tinker Bell umbrella, and jumping her heart out.  

School picture day came.  No uniforms were required, so long as the clothes were fancier than a normal uniform (so no jeans).  Something tells me I'm going to like this picture better than whatever was taken at school.

Aaaand... we did some more jumping.  My favorite is the bottom right.

Project 52 {38}

My favorite thing about you:
Is that you're back in school.

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Lets play "State The Obvious".  The reasons I'm loving that you're back in school are three fold:
1) Last week.  I'm happy you're anywhere but the hospital.  
2) You love school.
3) I need you gone to miss you.  

Yes.  Finally. Three weeks into September and both kids in school.  For this I'm thankful.  Ugh.  What a terrible mom, right?  But seriously... Aside from the 50% discount on responsibility, I appreciate the one on one time I get with each kid.  For about two minutes this fall, I thought I was going to get some time to myself three days a week (I had a mid-morning date with my garden tub - or more realistically, time to clean said garden tub), but that didn't happen when Haley got PM kindergarten.  So, if I can't have undivided time with myself, I'm thankful to have it with one kid at a time. 

This summer we spent a lot of time the three of us, which was great.  But we get sick of one another and need a break.  Yup, I said it, I get sick of my kids (and truthfully, they get sick of me too).  School is just the remedy to keep me from the crazy house - or a job outside the home.  I can't miss their presence around the house if they're not gone.  Why would you want to miss your kids?  Anyone asking this question isn't a stay-at-home-mom.  Because I can't use the ladies room between the hours of 6am and 7pm without the door being flung wide open, for starters.  For finishers, it's the three of us for most of the day (even with school), and I'm left out.  With just one, they're forced to come to me for entertainment and they entertain the crap out of me.  I get to know them better as individuals.  We work on school skills that need extra attention.  We hang out, run errands that are easier with one (so everything), and wonder what the missing one is up to.  

And once we're the three of us again, they have a million questions for the other - they hate not knowing what the other one has been up to/what they missed out on.  I love those conversations; I turn the radio off and just listen, because I'm in the same boat.  

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Project 52 {37}

My favorite thing about you:
You're healthy

Taken with my iPhone 3GS, edited with Tilt Shift Generator (the best camera is the one that's with you)

Originally, I had planned to do Kale's first day of school as this week's project 52.  Do you know that saying "You plan, God laughs"?  I could write a book about how many times I've had to learn this lesson.  There were other plans for us this week, Saturday night Kale got sick.  We thought he'd OD'd on chocolate at a picnic, but, sadly, that wasn't the case.  

By Monday at about 2:00 am, I wasn't able to keep anything in him, not liquids or meds to control his fever, so it was off to the ER.  He was so severely dehydrated that they went right to an IV with fluids and something to control his vomiting (see pic 1).  We were just about to be discharged and when he stood up, more vomiting.  Something wasn't right.  So it was off to an ultrasound and a blood draw.  The ultrasound showed a cranky appendix.  The hospital close to our house doesn't operate on anyone under 5 so we were ambulanced (see pic 2) to the Children's Hospital downtown.  We saw the surgeon who determined that we likely didn't need to take out the appendix and he mentioned that the blood draw showed strange banded white blood cells (WBCs).  Off to the CT scan which confirmed the appendix was fine, but that his gall bladder was also cranky.  

We spent Monday night at the hospital (see pic 3 wherein they gave him some cool accessories for his hospital gown).  He was given some antibiotics, and more serious fluids.  By Tuesday morning he was more himself but the most recent blood draw showed no improvement in the WBCs.  Let me digress a moment and say that Google is a nasty bitch, Google "fever+vomiting+high WBCs" and scary stuff comes up.  There was some brief, however memorable conversations about leukemia.  If you're a mother, that's never something you want to hear in conversation regarding your child.  I've never felt like passing out over a conversation before. That evening the GI doc came by and felt fairly certain that he got a nasty intestinal bacterial infection.  Holy great big PHEW Batman!  But that still meant another night in the hospital as we cultured, tested, poked and prodded and a 50/50 chance at a 3rd night hanging out there.  

Wednesday morning brought another rude awakening in the form of a 6am blood draw and more waiting, also a boy who was nearly back to normal (see pic 4, he learned that there was a mirror in his bed table).  By the time the pediatrician came in at 8:30, she brought the news that the WBCs had not only gone down, but were completely back to normal.  Not elevated.  Not banded.  Normal.  Like nothing ever happened normal.  We would be on our way home by lunch time.  What?!  Praise God!  We left with no medication, not even antibiotics, just a couple of follow-ups.

Kale was a great patient.  Such a brave trooper through it all - I don't think I would have been.  He took each prick, poke, prod, and test like a champ (he even fell asleep during each of the ultrasounds).  The Nintendo DS that we got to borrow helped, so did all the movies they lent us (seriously, every movie ever made was available), the playroom right outside our door with tons of toys and books, and the tricycle he rode miles on.  

Here's what I learned through this experience:  
  • Don't Google things when your kids are in the hospital.  
  • Prayer works wonders/creates miracles, so does modern medicine (I'm convinced they work together).  
  • Children's Hospitals are amazing at what they do - every time I'm asked to donate, you bet I will, I encourage you to as well. 
  • I may live miles from my actual family, but my military family is an amazing substitute. There are no words to describe the sacrifices they made to keep life normal for Haley through all of this, and to support me.  I owe them, and hope they all know I'd do it for them too.
  • I'm thankful that my kids are healthy, in fact, thankful doesn't even begin to cover how I feel.  I'm thankful that we only had to spend two nights there - there are many, many families who are not so fortunate as we were; I met them.
So here's what I'm going to do:
  • Hug them tightly, and make sure they know I love them.
  • Be more present with them.  I'm putting down the TV/computer/iPhone/iPad and interacting more/better with them - I didn't become a stay at home mom to spend time with the household technology.  
  • Saying a prayer each night for their health and being thankful when they're healthy.
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Friday, September 7, 2012

Project 52 {36}

My favorite thing about you is:
You sleep in my arms.

f/1.8 1/50 ISO-640

It seems, over the past couple of weeks the theme has been about how much they're growing up, each and every day moment.  But this week a few forces of nature combined to give me a very special moment with each of them.  They slept in my arms.  Last time this happened?  I couldn't tell you.  It's definitely been a while. Well, aside from those sleepy trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  It's as scarce as a blue moon these days (which we also got this week - perhaps I need to go buy a lottery ticket, rare things are abound).

Over Labor Day Weekend, we had our annual backyard camp out.  Tons of friends, no bedtimes, tents and glow sticks!  Seriously, is there anything better?  Kale went to bed around 11:00, and was up bright eyed and bushy tailed around 6:00.  Seven hours isn't even close to a full nights sleep for my kiddos, especially when a giant wind storm blows through around 3:00am (exactly the time Haley and I went inside) and almost upends the tent.  So they napped, and Kale pretty much could have just gone to bed, because when I woke him up at 4, he came downstairs and slept in my arms till about 5:00.  It was nirvana.  And Jeff made pizzas for us, so I didn't even have to get up and cook dinner.  Even better.  It was food that finally woke him.  

On Monday we got take out for dinner, and a half rack of spare ribs gave a nasty case of food poisoning to Haley and Jeff (See folks?!  This is why I don't eat meat on a bone!  That neurosis totally saved my life!).  Haley ended up with a five day weekend instead of just four, and when I finally sent her back to school on Wednesday, well, those two and a half hours really took it out of her.  She fell asleep on me on the couch, and while I reveled in that for a bit, decided to share her with Jeff (we had to eat, thus I needed to cook, and I wanted some photos). 

So the house is messy, dishes need done, toys need picked up and my carpet is slowly growing another dog worth of pile.  But I got to cuddle with my kids who are growing up.  That's the thing about this whole parenting deal:  You never know how long a season is going to last.  And as crappy as some of them are, and you're glad to seem them take their exit, some of them are so sweet that you hardly realize it when they're no more, and when you finally do, it's too late to get it back.  

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Project 52 {35}

My favorite thing about you is:
You get back up again.

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This whole "learning-to-ride-a-two-wheel-bike" thing?  It's kind of tricky. Your sister got it when she was four and a half.  Mmmhmm... blah, blah, blah, don't compare your kids, they do things when they're ready and all of that, but here's the thing, he is ready.  He's doing it.  Well, except for that whole steering thing - he can pedal, he can balance, but dang if he can't look where he's going and point the front wheel that way.  Its frustrating, but sooo a lesson in "there-are-some-things-you-just-can't-do-for-your-kids" ("Hyphenated-things-in-quotes" that's the theme for this post).  But as a parent, that's got to be one of the hardest lessons to learn.  By no means are we helicopter parents - you know the kind: they hover hover hover over their kids and get their hands/head/feelings all up in the kids' business so much so that the kid can't really function on their own without their parent swooping in to rescue them.  That's just not us - see detachment parenting.  But we are good parents who want our kids to succeed at the things they try.  Sometimes, especially when they're smaller and perhaps they're just not mentally/physically developed enough to do some things, we jump in to help - it's a confidence builder.  Bike riding?  Not one of those things.  There's only one seat (and it's not even a banana style), one set of pedals and one set of handle bars.  There will be no jumping in to build their confidence on this skill.  Know what that means?  They fall.  A lot.  Sure, Jeff chases them, holds onto the back of their bike till he's sure they have it, but he's in flip-flops and they're little and on a bike.  Did you know that there are two speeds to a kid at this stage?  Yep, so slow they have to constantly adjust the steering lest they just tip right over to the side, and lightning fast - so fast that you're sure they'd get road rash something fierce if/when they fall.    

Here's the thing about growing up - especially in the summer when they spend tons of time outside - kids fall.  They get banged up.  Heck, Haley spent the greater part of the summer with scrapes on her nose from swimming too close to the bottom of the pool (seriously... and she wore goggles like they were surgically attached to her face so it wasn't like she didn't see it coming).  I take pride in my kids' scrapes.  They're out there exploring and trying new things.  Pushing their limits (and mine), and doing the things they're supposed to in order to figure out how their body works in this world.  And I'm keeping myself out of it (as much as general safety allows).  Sure there are tears after a fall (as pictured above, he drove his bike into Daddy's truck - thank God for helmets - why did I never wear one as a kid?).  The key is being there.  Letting them know they're loved and safe when they fall, but that after a bit, it's time to shake it off, get back up and keep going.  And BOOM!  There's your little life lesson for this week, go read those last few sentences one more time.  You're welcome.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Project 52 {34}

My favorite thing about you:
Is that you're off to Kindergarten!

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A quick observation, having now gone through two first days of kindergarten:  The book "The Kissing Hand" was written for the express purpose of being read on the first day of kindergarten, in front of the parents to make the poor emotionally fragile mothers cry.  It's fact.  

I have a kindergartner.  Am I old enough for that?  Yeah, probably.  Seeing as how I'm a few years older than my mom was when I started, and if you've ever watched MTV, then you'd know that you can be far younger than I, and have a kindergartner.  But still.  My first baby, my smart little girl, is (officially) starting her educational career.  How have 5 and a half years already gone by?  I swear she's going to be running the world next week (though, if you know Haley, you'd know that starting kindergarten or not, that's still a completely viable possibility).  13 years till I send her off to college. 

Long, long ago, we parents here in Colorado Springs, began planning our children's schooling (or at least those of us living in District 49) as though where they head off to Kindergarten determines whether they matriculate to an ivy league college (or at least a nice service academy - wink, wink).  Here in Colorado Springs, we have good neighborhood schools, but we also have charter schools.  Charter schools that you need to get on the wait list for pretty much at birth (okay, so Kale got on at 9 months, but still...).  Haley was number 700 something.  They take 250 kids.  We were kind of a long shot.  However, we got the e-mail that she'd received a spot in this school the afternoon after her first day at the neighborhood school.  

So.  Like I mentioned last week, Haley is on her second first day of Kindergarten.  As you can see, the new school has uniforms (although according to a Charlie & Lola book, and thus Haley too, they're Schooliforms).  I love this, the type A in me that lives for organizational systems, had a hay day.  Sunday night I ironed and hung up all of her outfits.  I hole punched a gallon size ziplock, to hang on her hanger to include all of her accessories:  socks, undershirt, hair accessory and shoe card (a laminated picture of the shoes she's supposed to wear with the outfit).  Each bag is labeled with the day of the week and what "special" she has for the day.  The night before school, we hang it on her hook and there's absolutely no discussion about what she's wearing for the day; she just puts the outfit on.  Perfect!  One week of school down, and the system is working out quite nicely. Ask me about it in December.  

Here's the thing.  At this new school, since we were lucky to get a spot, beggars couldn't be choosers.  We're afternoon kindergarten.  If you know one thing about my kids it's that they're morning people, and they still take naps.  Yes, my 5 1/2 year old still takes a nap.  This is a wrench in our routine to say the least.  But we're making it work.  Kale seems to be napping about 2 of the 4 days that she's at school (quiet time the other 2), and Haley has dropped them all together (oh, she's so tired by 7:00).  Does this mean she's sleeping in?  Nope, not a chance.  I still see her bright and early at 6:00. Morning people, I'm telling you.  I need to teach them how to make Mommy's coffee.  But I digress (again).  

Haley's new school is a great fit for her.  Each day she gets in the car is the BEST. DAY. EVER! And that makes me happy.  I loved school, and I pray that my kids do too.  So far, I have no reason to think otherwise and the little boy who brought in Red Velvet cupcakes for his birthday on the 2nd day certainly boosted my cause.  

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Project 52 {33}

My favorite thing about you:
You're constantly saying "I love you".

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A couple of weeks ago this was a conversation I had:
Kale:  Mommy, I still love you.
Me:  Thanks Buddy, I still love you too.
Kale:  Even when I'm bad, you still love me.
Me:  I will always love you.  

Moms, say it with me:  I may not always like you, but I'll always love you.  My mom used to tell me this all the time.  It's another one of those things that you have to be a mom (or, possibly a spouse) to truly understand.  Like when you're at the third store trying to pick up last minute school supplies that are impossible to find.  Seriously?!  Unscented disinfectant wipe refills?  2 gallon zipper top Hefty bags?! Sometimes I think they put these things on supply lists as a joke.  Do you really believe that I have all the time in the world to play into your twisted little scavenger hunt?  It's the end of summer and I just want them to go to school.  I don't believe there is a difference between the Westcott and Fisker brands of blunt tip scissors.  That said, I will always buy Crayola - there's totally a difference there. But I digress.  This is supposed to be about how, at the first store the kids lost control, I had to get these things, and by store number three, I really didn't like them much.  Anyone to blame for their lack of decent behavior at the stores besides me?  Nah.  They're my kids and I take responsibility for that.  But when the man at Office Max told me they had a corral we could throw the kids in while I shopped in peace, I almost kissed him.  He was messing with me.  I almost cried.  

This week Haley started Kindergarten the first time.  There will be a second time on Monday, but more about that next week.  They read a story and were sent over to say their goodbyes with little heart shaped stickers to remind us while they were away that our little kindergartners still loved us.  I held it together, but only just barely - I really thought I'd be okay, but it was definitely emotional.  I did keep it together though, which is more than I can say about some moms in there who totally lost their shit stuff (as in: the background sound of the video of their kids' first day of school is going to have profuse and loud sniffling - not coming from a kid or a cold).  I proudly wore my sticker all morning, and last I checked it was on the corner of my bed.  My kids are always telling us that they love us.  And it's great.  It's one of those things I feel like I can pat myself on the back about.  If their behavior is any indication of what they're seeing modeled before them, then I'm not a total mom fail all the time.  If they know one thing, it's that we love them (even when we don't like them).  And that is worth a giant high five!

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Project 52 {32}

My favorite thing about you:
Is your temper.

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I can hear you now. 

"What?!  You love their tempers?!  What mother in her right mind would love their kid to have a temper?!"

Why do you have to keep emphasizing the word love?  What, I'm having a one way conversation with myself, asking rhetorical questions?  Judge me! I'm entertaining and we know it.  And you were thinking it. 

Okay, so this week was tricky, it was just the three of us for most of it, and if that weren't trying enough, Kale was sick.  Again.  Yes, again.  We kicked it last week, only to go get shots when we probably weren't entirely in the clear and it came back with a vengeance.  At 3am.  All over my room.  Motherhood, Yeah!

If you were to say I had a short fuse, you'd be correct.  Having a bedroom that has smelled like puke since Monday, no matter what products you put on the floor shy of a bleach and acid combination that I'm sure would add a skylight to the family room below, will do that to you.  Stain no, stench f-yeah!  But this week marks the end of the summer for us, officially.  Believe it Washington friends, and I'll be sure to let you know when our summer starts.  I'm ready for school to go back.  Because they drive me nuts!  Because we need a break from each other and a concrete routine.  We (all three of us) get grouchy without one, and grouchyness leads to tempers.  

Bringing me back to the beginning, I love their tempers.  Mostly because, it's self expression.  They never have been ones to sit back and let things happen around them, they're participants 90% of the time and observers the other 10%.  If something makes them angry, they screw up their faces and will tell you in the most passionate of voices that they're angry.  Actually it goes more like this "I'm ain-gree" (it's a precisely enunciated two syllable word.  Duh.).  They're passionate people - and that's a good thing.  But it leads to passionate reactions and thus the temper is born, cultivated, and released into the wild that is our house.  

I'd love to be one of those mothers that has a calm and even keel reaction to my kids all the time.  But it's just not me.  I want it to be, I work on it, but dang it.  I'm humanly imperfect (shhh... don't tell anyone).  I shout, I loose my shit and get ain-gree.  Incredible Hulk angry.  But we use our words, express our feelings (passionately) and solve things (never name-calling, or accusing).  We all clearly know the feelings of the others in the house (and the neighbors might as well) and that's a healthy thing.  I deal with a heap of mom guilt over this one.  If I could snap my fingers and be a zen mother, I would in a heartbeat. But I come from a loud family.  You should listen to a conversation between me and my dad.  On cell phones.  Actually, you probably have.  In Nebraska.  We're loud.  I was a lifeguard, who never had to strengthen her voice. You get the point.  

This house may be loud, passionate, and imperfect, but we communicate.  Well and clearly.  And someday they'll learn the art of sarcasm, and we'll be darn entertaining too.  Like a sideshow. 

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