Saturday, March 31, 2012

A New Thing for Me: Church

If you've read my blog for awhile, you might remember a post from about a year ago about my religious "beliefs" .... or probably more accurately, my lack of religious beliefs.  You can view it here if you're curious.  But basically, it explained my recent ability to admit and accept that I'm not a Christian, be okay with that, and described my predicament of not having a solid "non-Christian" spiritual outlet.  In the past few years, I've really felt a need to connect with others (a congregation) who share similar beliefs and interests.  I like "church families" and all of the "outings"/ service projects that go along with church goers.  (This is the part that turns off my husband)  The ....dare I say.... 'problem' around here is that everything is sooooo "Jesus-y".  But I'm looking for something a little less Cross- related.

So I've been looking into the Unitarian Universalist church for awhile now.  I read UU things, and follow some UU blogs.  And from afar, it kinda seems right up my ally.

So last Sunday, our family of three went on an errand run.  C had the option of getting groceries with Daddy or attending church with Mommy.  He chose church.  (Now, aside from his cousin's baptism, he's never really been to church so didn't really know what he was choosing) But they had a nice little nursery filled with toys and he was super happy playing with them.  I was honestly a little surprised that he was fine with me leaving.... until a gal came and got me about 30 min later-- explaining that C was a little "sad" and wondering where mama was.  (A "little sad" as in crying giant crocodile tears and sobbing, "My Mama! My Mama! Come Back!) As soon as I rescued him from the nursery, we went to listen to the rest of the service. He was happy as a clam--- and loud as a monkey so some super sweet people behind us showed me where the "take your annoying loud kid during church" room was.  It was actually a much better place for us and of course C was almost totally quiet up there.  And the chairs were much more comfy so it was a good find.

Although I was a little distracted during the service, I enjoyed it and remembered a few tokens to take with me.  I appreciated the references to various religions, and the overall sense of "what good can we do" that the service had.  I especially appreciated the lack of Biblical references-- and the focus instead, on general well-being.  After church, I visited with a few members but C was very ready to find Daddy.

It was such a beautiful day and a good way to start a Sunday morning.  As I watched the few children at the service, I found myself thinking, "I could see Charlie attending this with me".  I like that the religious education is exactly that---it educates children and adults about religions.  With an "s".  They give people the information and acknowledge that there are other ideas out there, other views, other answers.  Unitarians acknowledge that there are possibly many answers to one question, or perhaps, no answer at all.  Really?  Even if "The Bible Tells Me So"?  Yep.  And that's what I've been looking for forever.  So while I didn't drink the Kool-Aid, I do think I'll check it out again.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Good Laugh

Last Thursday I came home from work and literally cried when my husband asked me how my day was.  It was  huge "professionally low" day for me.  I thought about writing about it, but honestly, putting negative thoughts about how nasty and horrible children are out into the cyber world seemed like not such a good move for a "Goody Guidance Counselor" like myself.

But the other day, my day was pretty good.  I dealt with the same basic schmuck from pretty much the same basic kids.  But then, I dealt with something new.  I've been a school counselor for (almost) ten years (gasp!) and have never addressed this particular....topic.

Drumroll please.......

Super powers.

Yep.  And more specifically... mind control.  Basically, a kid, in all honesty, needed to talk with me about his ability to control others with his mind.  This was a very serious subject for him-- one that has been plaguing him for two months.  While I'm a novice at dealing with this particular subject, I addressed it as best I could before sending him on his way--and making a mental note to let my former professors know they had missed covering something in the grad school curriculum.

And then I had to let out the chuckle that I had been stifling.  Maybe kids aren't so bad after all.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Kicked a Dog

Tonight, while riding home from yoga, an ugly little yippy dog ran out in front of me, barking excessively, and circling my bike.  I quickly yelled at it with as much "authority" as I could-- but I was way freaked out.   When I was doing a lot of bike riding (years ago now), I frequently met farm dogs out on the blacktops.  But for some reason, these big, outdoor, mixes of lab/ retrievers/ rottweiler/ mutt didn't ever bother me as much as the tiny, yippy, scary dogs.

So tonight, this little thing circled by bike and I yelled, "Go home! Go! Go!" and it didn't move!  Instead, it jumped up and nipped my pant leg (my favorite yoga pants leg, mind you).  So I did what I've never done before.  I kicked a dog.  It happened so fast and it was the tiniest of kicks.  But just a little kick to let it know that I was serious about not dragging a Pomeranian or whatever the hell kind of scary dog it was home with me.  And then it stopped barking, and trotted back to its driveway.

As I'm writing this, I'm noting the irony of coming directly from yoga (a calm, serene place, where you're taught to basically breathe through your difficulties) and then two minutes later kicking something that was biting me. Hmmmm.  I just don't know if the dog would have responded to "Namaste".

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grody-Jody Step-stool Transformation

Earlier today I mentioned that I have been feeling very "crafty" these past few weeks.  Not sure if it's due to the spring weather or my time away from facebook, but whatever the reason I see potential for improvement in a lot of our household items these days.

So, my first little project was transforming this very practical & useful, but very disgusting step stool.  I cringed whenever we would bring this into the kitchen from it's comfy home in our garage.  Looking at it made me grouchy.

Ewww.  Gross.  Gross.  Gross.  
This step stool was obviously part of several home improvement projects.  Poor thing.
Amazing what a bath can do! But I still wanted
Enter Prince Charming (M ordered this on Wednesday and we had it Friday!) 

And our new & improved, welcome inside, fun step-stool that doesn't make me feel grouchy-  Yay!
(It's actually bright red but the picture looks kinda orange-y)  

Overall, I think it turned out pretty cute.  Aside from a few tiny gnats that met an unfortunate fate before the paint had dried, that is.  Tonight C & I added some animal stickers to it and he carried it all around the house this evening.  I'd call that a success.  

Keeping Up With the (Cyber) Joneses

During my time away from facebook, I've started wasting my time reading blogs.  I love glimpsing into these random strangers' lives and learning about them, their families, and their hobbies.  It's kind of like walking through the neighborhood in the evening when people stil have their shades open and the lights on inside.  It's like a little peek into someone else's world.

But I have to remember that it's just that: A peek.  These gorgeous photos of little crafts done with little hands (that somehow don't have dirt under the fingernails like my kid's nails) or photos of their smiling little children (that somehow don't have chocolate--or possibly dirt-- caked into the corners of their mouth).  It's kind of like everyone else is living a June Cleaver life.  But in color.

And while I think I'm probably living less like June Cleaver and more like Roseanne (without the ratty afghan on the couch) I've become inspired by a lot of these blogs.  Mostly the crafty and organizational ones.  It's like I've been bitten by the craft/ organizational bug.  Yikes-- that's a very intense bug bite!  The side effects are that I've become obsessed with somehow getting my entire life organized.  Suddenly, I feel like every nook and cranny in our house has no rhyme or reason and needs to be de-cluttered and organized.  I've gotten the kitchen cupboards under control, organized the cookbook & mail storage, de-cluttered the guest bathroom, and am working on the garage.  (My list of areas to organize is pages long and would bore you to death)

Right now, I also feel like C is coming into the perfect age to play more independently-- and taking out and putting away his own toys is a part of independent play.  However, I realize that it's hard for him to do this if things are so tucked away and unaccessible to him.  I'm trying to design & create an artsy area in his playroom that will allow him to choose and utilize our art supplies more.  Plus, I've run across so many little DIY projects to do for C.  (We made a sensory box last week--a HUGE hit-- and died some pasta noodles last night-- another huge hit!) And I keep roping M into helping me with the bigger manly DIY tasks.  (He's responsible for making a sensory swing, a sandbox, and a see-saw this summer.  No pressure babe.)

So while reading these fascinating blogs is taking up time, I guess it's also kind of awakened a sleeping giant as well-- I am motivated to be creative and productive.  I've already done a few little 'makeovers'-- I'll try to post them in the near future.   Looks like it's going to be a busy spring!

Don't you love my door decoration? Inspired by Mad In Crafts blog 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Fever!

I'm itching to write a blog post about our spring break, but I have spring fever sooooo badly that I just want to spend time outdoors, organize my entire life, and get skinny enough to fit into half of my shorts/ capris (apparently the Nachos / Girl Scout cookie diet affect me.  opps.  they were so yummy though.) (More about each of these things in future posts)

Last Tuesday C & I  met my mom in Pocahontas, where the three of us played at a park in the beautiful 70+ degree weather.  Then, I lovingly transferred my son to her care and they merrily drove off into the sunset as I drove 2 hours home.....

....And when I got home, M & I threw our suitcase, Maddy's food, some audio books, and 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies into the minivan, and drove 8 more hours to a little unincorporated town called Conover, WI.  It's definitely "Northwoods"-- it's about 15 miles North of Eagle River (the snow mobile capital of the WORLD) and about 15 miles South of the Michigan upper peninsula.  It makes Grundy Center look like a booming city.  And it---is----awesome.  

So anyway, we arrived at some crazy insane hour in the middle of the night.  M turned on the water, heat, and did other essential "housey" things while I stripped the bed of it's thin cotton sheets and threw on brand new amazing flannel sheets.  (Remember, this is supposed to be our little winter-snowed-in getaway/ retreat..... not SPRING break!)

We woke up in the morning, checked in with the grands and our little guy (who sounded like he was already soaking up all the attention one receives while at gma/gpa's house) and settled in to our "routine".  It usually goes something like this:

*  Wake up/ lay in bed/ read
*  Make coffee (With Baileys) or Bloody Mary's, pancakes, eggs
*  Let our Good Girl out, maybe take a little walk down the road (Bloody Mary or spiked coffee in hand)
*  Watch the Today show or one of a gazillion news worthy E! episodes
*  Eat a snack.  Like nachos.  Make another Bloody Mary.  YUM.
*  Maybe watch a movie or play a game.  (Like Yahtzee-- my favorite! Or Battleship-- M's favorite)
*  Eat lunch.  Maybe have a beer or vodka/ tonic with lunch.  Or margarita to go with the nachos.
*  Take an afternoon nap (sleep off the obvious buzz)
*  Do an activity like snowshoe, XC ski, or go for another walk.  (Feel very productive for actually seeing the sunshine! Yay!)
*  Maybe take a shower.  Or maybe decide to do that another time.
*  Walk around the cottage and look in all the rooms.  (I'm not sure why we always do this, but we always do.  It's kinda weird.)
*  Choose wine for supper.  Open wine and have 1st glass.  (M's uncle has a vineyard --click here!!-- and sometimes we try out some of his wines.  I mean, it would be rude not to, right?)
*  Make supper.  Usually involves heavy cream, butter, garlic, noodles, and crusty buttered bread.  YUM.  (Vodka Cream Pasta--recipe here!)
*  Build a fire / Watch a movie / Fall asleep on the couch / Wake up to embers burning, and sleep walk to bed.

But this year, things were different.  Here's why:

Yep, that thermometer on our deck says 68 degrees-- and it was only like, 9:00 AM!!  CRAZY! 
So rather than hole up inside, keep a steady buzz, eat junk food, and sleep all day (omg, that still sounds awesome!) we.... well,  went out!  (Super weird)

We got the essentials:
Okay, I'm thinking we look like lushes.  But we're not. 

We spent a ton of time outside.   I shopped downtown Eagle River.  Found a few things for me, and a few for C.
We found these (freaking adorable) rain boots that C obviously couldn't live without! 

I started a photography project. (I'm LOVING playing with our camera!)  Here's a sneak peak of my favorites:  (I'm making a "Northwoods Alphabet" poster to put up in our playroom--can you tell which letters they are?  What do you think?)

We also spent time inside (and felt guilty).  I (finally) finished the knit stocking pattern!  (yay!)  I started and finished a super cute (and fun) puzzle.

We drove home Saturday afternoon/ evening and picked up C on Sunday.  It was soooo good to see him and I'm convinced that he learned at least one hundred new words, grew five inches, and gained ten pounds while we were away.  While we loved our free time, I could hardly keep my hands off him when I finally saw him! 

This year our break was a little different than previous trips, but it was still amazing. It was nice to spend time as a couple and have some time to ourselves too. It's so good to relax and recharge a bit.   I do feel refreshed and ready to finish the school year.  I'm thrilled to be heading into spring with my two guys and four-legged girl.  All is well in Spahnville. 


Sunday, March 11, 2012

We're (almost) Off!

Spring Break is so close I can almost taste it!  And this year, it really feels like a spring break.  On Friday I saw three robins, yesterday the sun was streaming in through the windows, today we spent time at the park and tried to fly a kite, and almost 100% of our snow is GONE!  Yay!  Every year, it's as if we "emerge" or "wake up" when spring arrives. And this year, while it has been such a mild winter, I feel more eager for spring than ever before!  (That makes zero sense)

And in two days, C and I will pack up his necessities and head west to meet his grandma--who will lovingly drive him back to her house and proceed to love him to pieces for four days.  While there, he will most likely nap a little, go to bed late, eat donuts for breakfast and ice cream before bed, and maybe be lucky enough to go to a pancake breakfast or spaghetti supper.  He'll play with "vintage" toys (like Little People and Tinker Toys) and "ride" his great-grandmother's "walker".  If the weather is nice, he will romp around his grandparents' big backyard, explore new parks, and maybe even get to throw some rocks into a big pond. 

And while C is having his Spencer vacation, his parents will be enjoying the Wisconsin Northwoods at the Spahn family cottage.  I love explaining to people that the cottage has been part of M's family for almost 100 years.  (1928??)  I love that our little family of three is now a part of that history! And, I love taking advantage of this little get-away in the woods.  Hopefully, we will nap a lot, go to bed early, eat donuts for breakfast and drink wine before bed, and maybe be lucky enough to go to a dive bar or bowling ally for supper.  We'll play "vintage" games (like Battleship and Yahtzee) and take a drive around the lake.  If the weather is nice, we'll romp around the grounds of the cottage, explore some hiking trails, and maybe even get to strap on the snow shoes for a hike on the lake.

I have been so excited for this trip for so long that I'm a little nervous.  I feel like I've built it up so much in my head, and when the time flies by way too fast, I'm worried that I'll be so let down when it's over.  Things are going really well at home and work right now, but I just have spring fever sooooo bad!  I can't wait to get to the cottage and do all of our (guilty pleasure) cottage things.  Like: eat junk food, drink Bloody Mary's, eat rich and indulgent dinners, hang out in a bowling ally, sleep in, play games, do puzzles, knit, read-read-read some more, snack on Girl Scout cookies, take baths, watch movies, and ultimately... be lazy. 

When we return I will probably feel rejuvenated and energized (and probably really fat).  I'll be ready to cruise through the end of the school year with the energy and enthusiasm that I feel in August.  I'll be all set to clean out my closets, organize our basement, and refurbish some furniture.  I'll be ready to jump on the treadmill, start training for that triathlon, and dig out my summer clothes.  And if all that (possibly) doesn't happen, at least I'll probably have a book to finish and a puzzle to work on.  I just canNOT wait! 
Maddy also LOVES her cottage vacation!  (Wide open spaces, new sites and smells, lots of doggy treats, and no competing with a two year old for love and affection --what's not to love?) 

Friday, March 9, 2012

31 Days Facebook Free

If you're a facebook friend of mine, you might have noticed that I have been MIA for 9 days.  It's part of my March Madness plan--to give up facebook for the month.

When I told Mason my plan, he looked at me quizzically and said, "Why?  You don't have any facebook drama." Which, is true.  But I do seem to lurk around on it an awful lot.  And it just kind of....well.... sucks me in.  It's the weirdest, grossest, feeling.  It gives me nothing in return--just a lot of wasted time.  But I just have to check it.  One. more. time.  And I know that nothing will really be there, but still, I just check and check.  And occasionally post.

So, I needed to stop the insanity and take back my life!  (Okay, that's a bit dramatic, but I like it.)  After 9 days of no facebook, I have been a little more productive.  After three days of no fb, I had read an entire book, cleaned out my closet, tried 2 new recipes, soaked in a bath (!!!), and went to bed a little early.   I'm sure that I am missing out on knowing the mundane details of my "friends" but do I really need to know that the weather in their town is nice enough for jogging outdoors?  Nah.  I'm okay not knowing. 

And honestly, though the first couple days took some will power, it's crazy how little I have missed it as time has passed.   But, (darn it) I guess this means I should probably get back to being productive.....

PS:  My Catholic guilt is forcing me to confess this:  I "technically" have had to log on to fb three times:  Twice to upload videos to our elementary school fb page, and once to contact a yoga teacher for advice on yoga modifications for a sore shoulder.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cooking With Charlie

So by now, it's no secret that C LOVES to help out in the kitchen.  Most times, I welcome the "help".  It's fun for me to teach him kitchen things and share time together.  But when I'm actually somewhat pressed for time and making dinner, having him underfoot is one of the more frustrating parts of my day.  (Which explains the nightly glass of wine.  Or two.)

As I was cleaning out my photos, I started coming across several pictures of his culinary skills.  Thought I'd better officially document them here. :)

Day 1: Noodles
Me: I'll put the noodles in a bowl and you can pour the sauce on them from this little cup.
C:  Okay.
Me: Then you can put some noodles on your plate.
C: Arlie do it.

Day 2: Sweet Potato Fries
Me: Dip the sweet potatoes in the buttermilk.
C: Arlie put the carrots in the milk?
Me:  They're not carrots.
C: Arlie eat the carrots?
Me:  They're sweet potatoes.  They just look like carrots.
C:  Arlie eat the carrots?
Me: Whatever. 

Day 3: Cupcakes and Birthday Cake
Me: You get to put a pink liner in every spot.
C: One....Do.....Free.....One.... Arlie taste?
Me:  No, it's Mama's turn.  I'm going to stir while you put the pink things in.
C: Um, no.  My turn.  Arlie taste.

Isn't he a good little helper?  Look for him on the food network in the future. :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blowing Out the Candles. Again. And Again.

Wow, C's 2nd birthday was a week ago tomorrow!  What a WEEK.  Yep, we celebrated that little guy's birthday pretty much every day for a week.

It started on Monday night-- after baking cupcakes for daycare--  (he LOVES to help in the kitchen...perhaps he associates the beaters with good things?)

Then he "practiced" blowing out the candles and gobbling up his cupcake. Pretty good, eh?

Then the next night (Tuesday) was his actual birthday so he got to blow out the candles on his "real" birthday cake.

And he did such a good job that he begged for more.  (Note that the cake has been half eaten by this time)

The following days resulted in more requests of "blow out my candles?" "Happy Birthday to me?"  and of course, the whole blowing out the candles thing is just too cute for "new" parents so we willingly oblige.  Pretty soon, we were adding candles to banana bread and pizza.  (It was pretty hard to stick them in noodles though)

On Saturday, we headed to Dubuque to have C's big party.  We met everyone (my parents, M's mom, my sister & her daughter, and both of M's brothers and their kids) at the Mississippi River Museum.  I felt terrible that I hadn't really planned enough time to see everything -- and everyone wanted their Charlie time--but M tried to keep me calm.  (Note to self: Drink a liberal glass of wine before attending the next party I have planned.) I think people had a pretty good time!

Then we headed over to Happy Joe's Pizza.  If you are not familiar with Happy Joes, I am sad for you.  It is THE. BEST. PIZZA. EVER.  (I highly recommend their Taco Pizza and their BLT pizza.  Oh my yumminess.)  Because we ran out of time at the museum, we were able to head over to eat a little earlier.  This meant that M's brother and his family had time to join us (originally, they thought they would run out of time)--which was great to have everyone together!  Here is a glimpse of the craziness:

We had enough pizza for all 18 people, and then the perfect amount of cake for everyone as well.  C had another opportunity to blow out the candles but he first had to endure everyone singing to him.  He is so cute because he gets a little embarrassed by it.  I think this is perhaps my favorite pic of his party.  I love the look on his face and the way everyone is singing to him.  Priceless.

After leaving HJ's, we calmed down at M's brother's house for a few minutes, put the little ones in their jammies, and headed back home.  Amazingly, C slept pretty well that night-- we thought crazy dreams of fish, cousins, cake, pizza, presents, and candles might keep him awake.

We woke in the morning with enough time to play with Baby Nora, show her all of his new gifts, and do some reading.

Although it was a crazy weekend, it was crazy good.  Crazy busy, crazy overwhelming, crazy stimulating, but super crazy fun.  I love it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Bad Case of the Giggles

When my sister and I were kids, I remember the occasional family meal where the two of us would get an uncontrollable case of the giggles.  I honestly can't remember what these fits of laughter would even stem from but they resulted in the heartiest belly laughs you can imagine.  You know the kind?  Where you're gasping for air, tears are forming in your eyes, and the harder you try to stop.... the more you can't contain it? 

As an adult, I've had a few of those completely random fits of laughter-- but of course, they are fewer and further between-- and probably involve a huge lack of sleep and/or alcohol consumption.

But tonight was different.  No sleep deprivation.  No alcohol.  Just me and.... my two year old. 

It started innocently enough.  I had gotten home from parent/teacher conferences (of which I rarely have anyone even stop by my office) moments before Charlie went to bed.  This gave me time to get my nightly cuddles and book reading before laying him down. 

Lately, C insists on reading the books.  I hold them and he 'reads' them and turns the pages.  We read a few nice stories and then we got to this one:

It's a really....stupid (?) book that C has loved since we started our nightly book reading (around 4 months).   Maybe it's because there is a picture of the moon on every page? 

Anyway, we got about half way through, and he lets out this little squeal of a giggle.   I laughed out loud--it was so cute.  Then he my laugh.  And then I laughed.  Then he let out a belly laugh and I was a goner.  This went on until mascara was running down my face, we were both gasping for air, and M was peering through the crack in the door wondering what the commotion was all about. 

After re-reading the book three more times to selfishly prolong the giggling, I finally regained my composure enough to finish the book.  C begged for "more fish book!"  Sadly, all giggle fits must come to an end-- but I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of them.