Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Busy Bodies

Ah, what a weekend!  Whoever said summer was "Lazy-Hazy" obviously didn't know of so many fun things to jam into a summer weekend.  And honestly, as I sit here writing this post, feeling pretty darn exhausted, I'm asking myself, "Was that worth it?"  And well, yeah.  It pretty much was.
Here's the recap:

Since my sister and I live about 4.5 hours apart from each other, we thought it would be fun to meet halfway for a little overnight get-away.  So we packed up our essentials for the night, threw the tots in the car, and met in Iowa City.  (A little under half-way for me, I'm lucky!) We met at the mall and played at the Iowa Children's Museum for a good two hours.  If you've never been there and have young kids, you should check it out! I'm pretty sure C's favorite exhibit was the train room-- he excitedly chased the electric trains around the track and attempted to put together a few tracks of his own.  He and his little cousin loved the grocery store and played "grocery shopping" forever.  C liked to put things in his cart.  N liked to put things in her mouth.

The museum had a Wright Brothers exhibit and a bunch of little planes to crawl into.  But they also had this fancy "big" one to test out and C & N took their first "flight" very seriously.  Charlie insisted they were flying to the moon.
Looked like Nora was just happy being along for the ride. 

At the grocery store, C was an excellent cashier.  Even gave me back a little extra play money to do more shopping with. :)
Nora loved the "tots" room and eagerly drove this tractor while C planted and tended his garden (below)

Although the kids could have played at the grocery store much longer (and C was quite verbal about not wanting to leave), our tummies were growling and we had yet to check in to the hotel.  So we headed to our hotel, checked in & tried to get situated, and then headed out to eat.  [At this point, I would like to brag that our little toddlers did an amazing job at the restaurant--yay!]

After returning to our hotel, we gave the tots a quick bath (note: paper cups from the hotel sink don't hold up well as bath toys.  duh.), dressed for bed, and read books.  The two smalls were both exhausted, rubbing their eyes, and soooo ready for bed.  Liz & I layed them down around 8:45 and eager looked forward to our little sisterly conversation in the "living room" part of our suite.

Unfortunately, our tots had other plans.  First it was Nora-- standing up in her pack & play.  Then Charlie calling "Mama!".  Then Nora wimpering.  Then Charlie incessantly humming.  Then Liz lying Nora down again.  Then Charlie calling "Mama!" (This time "Bunny" had 'jumped out of my bed!" And Bunny was lying halfway across the room.  I'm pretty sure Bunny didn't jump out of C's bed.  But that's just my own detective work--no hard evidence.) Then C sat with Liz & me while we let Nora "go down".  But then Nora cried.  She hadn't gone down.  Then I put C down.  Again.  He wanted to sleep in Mama's bed.  By this point, the whole shebang was passing comical and getting down right hysterical.  There was a moment when Liz & I were lying on the plush King Sized bed, with our smalls squished between us--them literally rolling around on top of each other--giggling, when I burst out laughing and said, "Liz, What's Plan B?!"  Her response was something to the effect of "What Plan B!?"

In the end, C & I set up camp in the "living room" with me sleeping on the hide-a-bed & him in his little bed.  He instantly calmed down as Nora & Liz cuddled up in their room.  So there, in adjoining rooms, probably 30 feet away from each other, Liz & I finally had a chance to catch up---via texting, while we hid from our tots under the covers.

We all made it through the night!  Yay!  It probably wasn't the best night's sleep the four of us have had, but we woke up with enough energy to head down to eat breakfast and take a quick dip in the pool.  C & N LOVED the pool-- and especially loved jumping in and racing each other.  (We moms liked it the first five hundred times but we tired of that "game" quicker than the kids)

After drying off and packing up, we headed to the mall for a carousel ride and some lunch before hitting the road.  Nora had never ridden a carousel before so we were excited to see her reaction.
(I think she liked it!)

We couldn't make it the 20 feet to Panera without Charlie noticing these.....

Right now, he just loves to play in them.  We haven't let him know that for $.75 they move and beep!  Shhhhh!!

After we finished all of our "rides", we grabbed lunch and then had to say goodbye.  :(  But wait, what is a trip to the mall with your sister without mall photos!?  The kids LOVED this part!  (Looks like we were kind of having fun too) Then we said goodbye.  

So you think that's it?  The end of our weekend?  Oh no folks, we were just getting started.  After saying goodbye, C & I headed up to Holiday Lake to meet some friends (and Daddy!)  C has never been on a boat or swimming in a lake (unless he has gone with his grandparents?) so he was super excited.  He eagerly boarded the boat and LOVED going "really fast!"

After our boat ride, we played on the beach and in the water for quite awhile.  C found clam shells and loved scooping sand from the beach into the water.  When it was time to eat, he happily gobbled up his hot dog and bunches of "lake food" (chips, fruit, and cupcakes!) It was nearing bedtime when we got settled into the car and I'm pretty sure his seatbelt hadn't even been buckled before he was fast asleep.

On Sunday, we didn't have "plans" but we had been invited to a vaulting show in Cedar Falls.  When you hear "vault" don't you think of Olympic Gymnastics?  I did.  But this was at the Cedar Falls Equestrian Center.  "Vaulting" turns out to be gymnastics on a horse!  Since C is currently obsessed with horses, he was excited to see horses (and I was so impressed that he actually petted one this time!).  Throw in some music and girls in pretty outfits and the whole experience was a hit.

Look at this!  I can barely get on a horse, let alone do cheerleading moves on one that is moving! 

C was mesmerized by the whole thing. He just sat and took it all in.  (Super cute)

After the horse show, we headed home and enjoyed our afternoon around our house.  It was great to just lounge around, play with toys, and take naps.  In the evening, M grilled brats before we all headed outside to play some baseball (with C's new baseball & glove!).  Although we didn't stay out long enough to see any fireflies, we were up past bedtime and C was definitely ready to hit the hay. 

I loved that we filled our weekend with activities and downtime.  It was filled with special treats and  special thrills.  It was filled with smiles and laughter.  But most of all, it was filled with time spent with special people-- and isn't that what it's all about?   

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rehab Addict

You know that tv show where the lady takes old homes and restores them to their "natural" beauty?  I'm starting to feel like her and I'm becoming a little worried because I feel slightly addicted to refurbishing/ upcycling/ re-doing/ spicing up/ etc. things (treasures) that I have found.  And you know what?  It all started with that red step stool!

A couple weeks ago, I was dropping off some things at Goodwill when I noticed two old school desks sitting right there-- clearly they had JUST bee dropped off.  They were in amazing shape and I asked if I could take one.  The guy helping me (I think he was secretly trying to impress me) told me sure, go ahead and take one.  But the gal doing the sorting (I think she was secretly trying to impress the guy) told me they had to ask a manager.  

Long story stort: I got this for $4.00!!

Can you believe it?  I was so excited to put it in "Charlie's School" downstairs.  But first, it needed a little TCL.  

Since I have some time in my morning to work on craftiness, I grabbed the sander and got to work.  The overall desk was in great condition, but some deliquant kid had decided to graffitte the back of the chair.  A giant star pattern thingy was literally carved into the back of the chair and some choice words were written in Sharpie on the seat (those sanded right off).  The giant star pattern, not so much.  I had to upgrade to some coarser sand paper and let my entire hand/wrist/elbow go numb from the sanding before that beautiful star pattern was a distant memory.  (Damn kids.  Why couldn't they just pass notes like I did in high school?  And where was the teacher when this defacement was taking place!?  Slacker!)  

Okay, so after the sanding portion, I decided to spice up the color with something retro yet fun and bright.  I chose a bright turquoise blue.  Unfortunately, Wal-Mart did not consult me when they ordered their spray paint so nothing remotely close to my wish color was available.  So, I went with orange instead.  (C currently LOVES the color orange.  He will probably hate it by the time I show him his new awesome orange desk.)  I was a little hesitant about the orange color and honestly, I'm not totally super thrilled with it, but I think it looks better than it did before.  (And our playroom is blue and maybe turquoise would be too much blue down there) Happy Learning little Charlie!  

This photo was taken with my phone so the orange looks a little muted. 

A little glimpse at "Charlie's School"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Scheduled Summer

I just finished reading a blog post on one of my favorite sites.  It was all about incorporating a summer schedule into your household.  And I just LOVED it!  (I'm already secretly thinking of ways to do that when C is a little older and what that would look like ***IF**** he ever has a sibling)

But as I finished reading, I scrolled through the reader comments and once again, found it amusing that the word "schedule" is such a distasteful word.   One comment in particular said, "despite being scheduled, it's very laid back".  And therein lies the problem.

I think people think that the word "schedule" actually means "anal retentive person trying to be in control of everything and everyone in their environment"  And really, I think "schedule" just means "a plan of attack".

I think everyone needs a plan of attack.  When C was a baby, we had nothin'.  Zip.  Zero.  Just a baby in a house with two people who had no idea what to do with a baby.  Except we knew he had to eat and we were told to make him sleep on his back.  Other than that, no plan of attack.  And honestly, that wasn't really working for us.  So we put C on a schedule when he was about 5 months old.  (GASP!!!!)  Yep.  We only allowed him to eat at certain times, we let him play at certain times, and we decided when he would nap and for how long.  And guess what?  He lived!  Yep!  He's alive and honestly, I think he's a pretty good little toddler now almost exactly two years later.  And I hear these horror stories about naptime and bathtime and bedtime and I can't really relate very well because, well, we've been forcing C to do those things in the same order for the past two years (at approximately the same time every single night).  I think C skipped maybe 5 naps in his entire baby days and has gone to bed after 9:00 maybe that many times too. (We've lightened up a bit as he has gotten older-- sort of) This was NO accident.  This is his anal retentive control-freaky parents deciding that maybe we, the adults, know what is best for him in other areas besides nutrition, education, and sun & water & gun safety.

But sooooo many times, I would tell people that I cannot go grocery shopping in the middle of the afternoon (yes, I have my afternoons off) because that is NAP TIME and they would look at me like I was nuts.  (Okay, so maybe sometimes the look is justified.  whatever.)  But here's the thing.  1:00-3:00 is naptime in our house.  Every. Single. Day.  C is well rested, happy, and energetic in the evenings.  Yes, he has tantrums (he's two, remember?) but overall, things run smoothly when he has napped.  He also sleeps better at night when he has taken a nap.  (Did you know over-tired kids get less "good sleep" at night?)  So to me, it's worth it to stick around and let the kid nap.

And honestly, while it might be slightly anal retentive of us as parents, I think that kids (and people in general) appreciate a schedule.  Or routine.  Or plan of attack.  Whatever you call it, can you imagine living in a world without a calendar?  No idea what day it is?  Can you imagine going to work and just doing your job with absolutely no idea of what needs to get finished?  I imagine that's how kids without schedules feel.  Like, "Are we going to eat today?  Am I going to need to eat in my stroller?  Or am I eating on the floor.  Now you want me to sit in a chair at a table and eat? Are we going to play?  Will I be sleeping at some point?  And if so, do I get to sleep in my own crib or will I be napping in that carseat carrier thingy again? Or maybe I should go ahead and nap in the stroller 'cuz I'd rather nap here than in the car.  Are we going in the car?  Are you going to entertain me or will I be needing to try to entertain myself?  Am I going to be in my own house or will we be hanging out with friends?  etc. etc."   Whereas, even the littlest of kids who are on a schedule will know what to expect during their day.

[Now at this point, I would like to mention that I'm not a big fan of "over-scheduling" children either.  And that, my friends, is too big of a topic to really just "mention" in a post.  I like having some unstructured play time, free quiet time, family time, whatever you call it.  I think having this bit of unstructured time helps kids in many ways-- especially in a time where kids are rushed from one practice to another, barely having time to eat and get to the next rehearsal for something.  But, I think this "time" can be part of the daily script- something to count on in their routine.  For instance, we try to keep our tv off after dinner--- it's just wind-down, quiet activities until bathtime.  Nothing is really "planned" or scheduled, but it's intentional.]

I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong, and so many things right, with giving kids a plan for the day.  They know what to expect and their behavior shows it.  I also feel that if we let kids decide what they want to do and when they want to do things throughout the day every day, then they get very confused when we change the course on them and decide something for them.  (Even though we yell and throw toys at the table at home, we don't do it in a restaurant) By following a similar routine each day here in Spahnville, C is learning that his wise ol' parents are running the show around here.  --Or at least we like to think we are.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Meet Coney.

Meet Coney.  (It's Maddy with a cone.) 

Maddy has been sporting this cone for almost a month now.  And while I'd like to feel sorry for her, I just mostly want to shake her for being so... a'hem...stupid.  Here's the abridged scoop:

*Maddy scraped her paw over spring break.  It bled, then healed.

*She licked it.

*She licked it more.

*She kept licking it.

*We told her to stop it! And she kept licking.

*We told her to knock it off!

*She kept licking.

You get the idea, right?  This dog cannot hold her licker.  (ha! pun intended.)

Okay, so fast forward to May.  She had developed this little "hot spot" on her paw from all the licking.  Vet thought it might heal on it's own with antibiotics but nope, nothing's ever easy when it comes to dogs, right?  So, schedule surgery to remove the hot spot.  Surgery went great!  8 stitches, wear a cone if she licks.  Cone on for awhile, off most of the time.  NO licking! Yay!  Good dog!  Oh wait, what did you do when I was in the shower!?  Licked out three of your stitches!? You stupid dog!  Back to the vet.  8 staples.  She did good.  Good dog!  Cone on for a week.  Poor dog.  6 days later: What did you do outside!?  Ate ALL your staples out!?  Stupid dog! Back to the vet.  8 more staples.  Not much skin left.  She'll be okay.  Cone for one week.  7 days later, back to vet.  Staples removed.  Dry wrap on, instructed to do NO licking.  Wound is looking good!  Maybe we'll go for a walk in the morning!  What did you do when I was getting Charlie dressed!?  Ate off your bandage?  Licked your wound!  Stupid dog!  Cone is on again.  No walk for you.  Cone is on indefinitely.  Sorry pup.  Mama's had it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July Festivities!

It has become a tradition to head to Dubuque on July 3 to attend a party, watch the airshow, and of course watch the fireworks.  This year was no different and despite the crazy hot temperatures, we headed down to the river to enjoy the festivities.
This face of Charlie is his "Say Cheese!" face.  Not sure why he crinkles his nose like that but whatever.  
C was in party-heaven.  He ate about thirty pieces of summer sausage, half of a brownie, baked beans, a bomb pop, and about a zillion grapes.  (I had to completely throw our healthy eating plan out the window for that day and the next)  He absolutely loved the air show-- pointing out planes as they flew by and broke the sound barrier.  He also loved the parachuters that glided down minutes before the fireworks.  But the icing on the cake was definitely the fireworks.  He sat in his own little lawn chair and pointed out the colors after each big bang.  It was super cute (to us) as he said things like, "Oooh!  I like purple one!"  "Woah!  The green one was HUGE!"  "Mama like white ones!  I like purple ones!"  Shortly before the show ended, he began to lose interest and asked to go inside and play with the dogs.  We distracted him from the lure of the AC with some of my apple pie-- which worked until the show ended.  

The food was definitely a hit with our little guy. 
Oooh!  I like purple ones!
Oooh!  I like my glow sticks more than fireworks!
Happy 4th of July!! 
After the fireworks, there was a mass exodus from the river.  We waited in a line of cars to head back to M's brother's house.  Of course, we were in no hurry-- two blocks after pulling out of the driveway, our little guy was 100% asleep.  

Way to TRI!

Well, in case you missed the facebook post, I survived my sprint triathlon!!  And..... it was SUPER fun!  I have never competed  participated in a triathlon alongside someone else, and now I'm pretty sure I never want to do another one alone.  Aside from the swim (of course), Carrie & I were side by side the entire race.  And while I can't speak for her, I thought it was a total blast.  Here's the recap:

I arrived at the Emmetsburg lake around 6:20 am.  [For the record: I actually would have been there sooner but my fuel was.... low (M hates it when it starts to run on fumes---I hate it when I forget it's on fumes and allow him into the vehicle) and I thought I'd better throw a couple bucks in before heading over to E'burg.] The race started at 7:00 and Carrie had reserved a spot for my bike & gear on the last bike rack.

I hadn't had a chance to eat before leaving my parents' house, so I munched on two granola bars while we talked about warming up.  (I don't ever warm up.  I like to save up all my energy.  Or something like that.) We got all checked in, arms inked up, and tried on our new yellow swim caps.  Aren't they lovely?

This is one of my favorite photos from the race.  It was a gorgeous morning and the lake was perfect. 

Mindy was in town for a family gathering so she & Carrie's dad came out to cheer us on.  They were AMAZING and made the adventure so much fun.  [Note:  If you ever have the chance to cheer on someone participating in a race, it's okay to cheer for people you don't know too!  We like it!!  --Mindy knew this and after we rode past her on our bikes we heard her shout, "Good job green shirt!  Keep it up Yellow Shorts!"  It made me crack up!]

Okay, so back to the tri story.

The SWIM:  500 Meters.  Out and back.  Men first, women & relays three minutes later.
We ran into the water and eventually began swimming.  (I always try to walk as far as possible---until the water is almost chest deep) Once again, I attempted to swim the crawl stroke but dang it, I'm just a breast-stroker!  (I seem to get so disoriented doing the front crawl in open water-- but I think I just need some practice-- and I need to get better at non-alternate breathing.  I think that will help.) I found my rhythm pretty quickly and just swam nice & easy.  The water was perfect and since I hadn't trained too much for the run, I really wanted to conserve a lot of energy and enjoy the swim.

T1:  Mindy was cheering us on as we got out of the water.  ("Wa-hoo!  Go Karah!  Wooooo!" as she literally jumped around with her camera ready for the perfect photo op) I ran to my bike, rinsed off the sand, and slid my feet into my bike shoes.  Carrie was next to me within seconds and before we knew it we were off on the bike.


The BIKE:  12 Miles.  10 miles (due to road construction! Yippie!)  Out and Back.
We hopped on our bikes and headed North around the lake.  I glanced down at my Garmin and told Carrie we were cruising!  17 mph-- we might want to preserve a little energy for our run-- or our legs were going to totally bonk!  We hit the highway and found an easy rhythm.  The bike was my favorite part because Carrie & I got to chat the entire time.  I'm pretty sure that almost every minute of the ride was filled with conversation-- hopefully she didn't mind my incessant talking.  If she did, she hid it really well.  Our cheering squad met us on the highway and whooped and hollered for us.  (Well, Carrie's dad didn't really whoop it up-- but Mindy made up for him)   As we approached mile 5, we saw bikers ahead of us turning around.  We were confused because the turn was supposed to be at mile 6 but apparently there was road construction further North so the route was cut short.  We were so sad!  (We were not really that sad.) We headed back toward town-- and arrived at the transition area less than 40 minutes later.  (sweet!)

Mindy has some great photos of the bike ride but I haven't gotten them from her yet.  
When I do, I'll insert them here.  (hint hint)

T2:  Bike to Run.
My socks were soaked from the bike, but I slipped them into my shoes and was ready to run.

The RUN:  3.1 2.89 miles due to road construction again!  (Darn!)
Unfortunately, my legs felt like stumps and my bladder felt like a giant water balloon ready to pop.  (Sorry, that's a lot of info) The run is my least favorite part and I was really worried about it because I haven't done too much running in preparation for this race.  Carrie was wearing a watch that gave us our tempo which was helpful.  (I tend to go out too fast and then basically die.)  And while my legs felt like they were not attached correctly to my hips, I was so focused on not wetting my pants (I probably could have-- afterall, I was wearing a freaking spandax suit!) that I didn't notice much.  About half-way through our run, Mindy & Carrie's dad greeted us one more time-- this time with water bottles.  (Aren't they the BEST!?)  Mindy took some pictures as we headed toward the finish-- and before we were dead on our feet.  When the finish line was in sight, I told Carrie that we had to burn through the gas left in our tanks!  (Cheesy, but it's always my finish line mantra.) I grabbed her hand and we ran across the finish-- I think we were even smiling!  (Then I headed straight for the bathroom)

Carrie looks so good but I'm not sure why I'm looking down and my chest is all puffed out.
I think this must be what I look like when right before I wet my pants.  

Our #1 Cheerleader!  (I'm sure she loved being in the middle of our sweaty & stinky bodies! Yum. )

As I've mentioned before, I'm so thankful to my friend, Carrie, for encouraging me to do this with her!  I *think* she maybe doubted that I would follow through but I really did want to participate.  And now, thanks to her, I think I may have caught the race bug once again.  Anyone want to do one with me this fall?....  Anyone?..... Anyone?