Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We Won the Lottery

(No, not really.  Sorry, no new cars or house payments gifted to our friends & family any time soon.  Just read on.)

A few weeks ago, M & I were watching CNN news stories online.  (He's a CNN junkie and is always up to date on current events.  I, on the other hand, am feeling pretty good just knowing it's an election year.)  Anyway, we were watching this story about the sewage conditions in India.  I found myself shaking my head and then literally crying as I watched the news story continue.  And later, I just couldn't shake the images of toddlers, teenagers, adults, and elderly people heading down to the train tracks to do their business.  (From what I understand, many people in India don't believe that having toilets in their homes is sanitary-- and it probably isn't as there really aren't many sewage treatment plants in the country-- so they would rather head down to the railroad tracks and leave their waste there.)

Then this morning, I was surfing facebook and skimmed over some info regarding a benefit for a toddler with brain cancer.  Her parents lived in our town before moving to Minnesota and while I didn't know them, I instantly felt connected to them.  They were living this small-town American dream just like us, and then their life turned upside down with this diagnosis.  Sometimes I feel like I'm walking on egg shells because our life is just.... too perfect.  Of course we have our normal daily hiccups and sometimes my lack of coping skills makes me reach for my glass of wine earlier than I like to admit.  But overall, life in Spahnville is pretty freaking amazing.  

So as I cleaned the bathrooms in our house, I just couldn't help but feel like I have it all.  I mean, my family and I live a pretty modest American life, and we have three bathrooms in our home.  Even our little town parks have bathroom facilities, and while I can't say they are always the most family- friendly or clean environments, at least the toilets flush (well, usually).  We have yards and flowers and clothing (not to mention a machines that washes and a machine that dries them), we have vehicles and beds and plenty of food.  We have schools and parks and maintained roads.  And here in the midwest, we have fields and fields of open spaces.  (And while I love the mountains, I just absolutely LOVE sunsets over a wide open corn field.)  But most importantly, at this exact moment in time, we have our health and each other.  And really, is there a better winning lottery ticket than that?

Clean water to play "baby alligator"

Maintained roads for family hikes

Swingsets for smiles!

And 'fields of opportunities'
(Do you love our backyard as much as we do?)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Money Can't Buy You Happiness...but it can buy you a new spice rack..

.....and a new spice rack can make you (really) happy!

You know your husband loves you when (hypothetically speaking) you wake up feeling like this:

And (being the awesome hubby he is--- or being the hubby that desperately wants a few hours out of the house & away from you and "your mood") he leaves to grocery shop and when he returns, he surprises you with this:

And that $30 gift makes you feel like this:

Here's why:

I (for the most part) really enjoy cooking.  I enjoy it a lot more than I used to now that our house has actual counter space and I'm not using the stovetop as a counter.  And while we still eat pasta occasionally, we've really been trying to eat more healthy meals at dinner-- and many (not all) of them are grain/ gluten free.  This usually involves reading a recipe and getting creative with spices to make some (rather delicious) sauces.

And while I love the fact that we have a cabinet that houses only spices and oils, it became rather cluttered and disorganized.  I attempted to organize it several times and ended up putting the spices in old deli meat containers.  Then I had to stack them on top of each other and rummage through them when I needed a particular spice.  (I would have taken a photo but honestly, I don't really want to remember what it looked like)  Add to this lack of organization the fact that I'm short (5' 4.25" on a good posture day) and usually a shorter person (around 3' tall) is tugging at my pant legs or whining for something while I'm trying to just make supper and my meal prep time turns from fun and relaxing into super stressful.

So when M came home with this spice rack the other day, I was thrilled.  I thought I'd clean out the cupboard and reorganize after C went down for his nap but I just couldn't wait.  I jumped right into the organizing and instantly felt better.  And that night, when I made these SUPER YUMMY meatballs, I just grabbed the spices and returned them in about two seconds.  I felt myself smiling while cooking and I hadn't even been into the wine yet.  Now that is amazing.

The "After" pics (sorry, no before pics)


Made for short people!!
The "drawers" pull out then fold down!

And this one SWIVELS!
So the next time you begin to doubt the health benefits of retail therapy, I urge you to remember how happy an inexpensive material possession can make you feel.

(Disclaimer:  I am not outrightly advocating for spending willy-nilly at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, or Lowe's Garden Center on a day when you are feeling extremely depressed.  I've done that and it just invites more clutter into your house and probably more frustration with having to put everything away especially when you have a kid begging you to be the caboose of a choo-choo.  But I am saying, go ahead and admit that yes, sometimes a little treat that makes your life a little easier can actually improve our spirits.  And since my family prefers to eat supper pretty much every night, this is a gift that keeps on giving.)

Super Easy Yummy (Paleo Friendly) Meatball Recipe:

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 T dried basil
1/2 T dried oregano
2-3 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 400.  Use hands to mix the spices into the ground beef & pork.  Form mixture into golf ball sized meatballs and place in 9x13 baking dish.  Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake about 25-30 minutes or until no longer pink in the  middle.

We poured marinara over gluten free spaghetti noodles and then topped with meatballs.  (C tried the meatballs but preferred a hot dog on his.  Whatev.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Flying with a "Small"

In honor of Kelly's upcoming visit (now only TWO weeks away!), thought I'd write about flying with a toddler-- since she's braving the friendly skies on her own with a tot in tow.

As you know, last January, the three of us took our first "real family vacation"....to Arizona.  (Sweet!)  Of course, we only had a few days away from work so this meant flying on an airplane with a 23 month old.  (Sweet!)  At the time, my 23 month old had about ZERO interest in movies /dvds/ tv programs/ etc.  (Sweet?)  And since I've flown on a few airplanes in my life, I was having anxiety over flying with a toddler weeks before we even packed our bags. (This, coupled with the fact that I HATE flying on airplanes made me more anxious than I already am.)

So, in typical Karah style, I prepared for the worst and set my expectations extremely super low.  And I literally packed an arsenal full of toddler 'boredom busters' for that flight.  Looking back, there were five things that we used throughout the flight-- that made it such a success.  In fact, when our plane returned in Iowa, the man sitting across the aisle said to me, "You two did an amazing job with that little guy.  It was really fun to watch you.  I'm a retired teacher-- taught for 36 years in Decorah.  Looks like you would be a great teacher."  (I had to give him a wink at that comment-- yes sir, I've had a wee bit experience in the elementary school setting) But it always makes us parents warm and tingly inside when someone compliments our kid's behavior right?  So what went inside this arsenal that made it so successful?  Well, let's take a peek:  

#1.  Books. Books. More Books.  I tried to put as many "soft" books as possible since I had to carry this bag after all.  The best ones for the flight were tiny ones that he could hold himself, and books that we could look through together and try to find things.  (C really loves the I Spy books right now)

#2.  Play Doh.   Yes, we are those people.  Play Doh is messy.  And I know sooooooo many parents who claim to barely ever let their kids play with the squishy stuff because it's a pain in the arse to clean up.  But to me, I'm all for semi-quiet entertainment even if it means I have to crawl around on the dirty airplane floor for awhile picking up miniscule pieces of clay.  (Or maybe I accidently forgot that some of it dropped on the floor.  oops.)

#3. Plastic Animals.  We packed the small ones and then had them go on some little adventures in the seats of the plane.  They had snack, they had a race on the drop-down table thingy, and they had a nap.  (And then we drew a barn with markers and made blankets out of play doh) 

#4. Color Wonder Markers/ Paper.  Oh my brilliance! I had no idea this product even existed before searching for items to put in my arsenal.  What an awesome invention!  Basically, these are special markers that only show up on special paper.  They work the same-- just aren't as bright as regular markers.  But if you drop them without the cap or realize that you've been sitting on one for the entire plane ride (hypothetically, of course) nobody will know you've been so irresponsible!  

#5.  Magna Doodle.  C's aunt gave him a small Magna Doodle for Christmas and it has been one of our go-to toys forever.  We actually keep it in the car because it's so easy for him to manipulate on his own.  When we were on the plane, we played a game called, "Charlie tells Mommy and Daddy what to draw and they try to convince him that they (successfully) drew it." (Sometimes this led to debate practice-- "That not look like horse." "Yes it does. See? These are the legs." "No, those not look like legs.  That NOT look like horse." "Yes, it IS a horse.  See?  Here's a tail." etc. etc.)    

And a little bonus item for that nasty ear pressure: Skittles.  C hadn't really had a lot of candy before that ride, and I was nervous he would choke and die but thankfully that didn't happen.  And when the chewy Skittles didn't work, we just practiced roaring like a lion, tiger, or bear and that seemed to do the trick.  :) 

And, because we spent so much time utilizing the above items, we didn't even have to break out our friendly little red trump card:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Look Who's Coming to Spahnville!

(I think it's funny that she's on the left and I'm on the right in every-single-picture.)

The date is set!  The first weekend in November-- my bff and her little munchkin are going to come to Iowa! I am beyond excited but I'm trying not to think about it because otherwise I'll have anxiety about all the stuff I want to accomplish before she gets here.  

Someday I'm going to write a blog post about this gal and how freaking amazing it is that the Universe plopped us, two peas in a pod, down in little old Spencer Iowa and allowed us to attend the same schools for thirteen years.  We are freakishly similar and amazingly different.  We are the choir when the other one preaches and we are the preacher when the other acts as the choir.  That sentence made zero sense and I am 150% sure that she "got it".  When we spend time together, there is never one single dull moment (unless one of us falls asleep--usually me).  Our conversations are as scattered as our thoughts and peppered with childhood memories and belly laughs about our stupid decisions.  And eventually, we stop finishing our sentences because, well, it just is taking too much time and the other one knows where we're going with that sentence anyway.  It's just crazy.  And I'm just so excited.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Photo Hoarding

There are a few things that I'm about 150% sure I'll never catch up on--no matter how many snow days or rainy days I have to catch up.  They include:

Grocery Shopping
Craft Projects
and Organizing my iphotos.

Now honestly, I'm okay with never catching up on almost that entire list.  Except one thing.  My completely disorganized and overflowing iphoto library has jut become something of a giant migraine headache to me.  The thought of cleaning it out gives me anxiety. To the average observer, it might actually look kind of normal-- what do you think?

Not too bad.  Bunches of folders on the left hand side, tons of pictures, just fine.  Except This:

Can you see that?  It's the part that says: "4,132 items in 98 events" that kind of really freaks me out.  I have no idea what to do with these dang pictures.  I am kind of petrified to actually delete them-- it's pretty much C's entire life in photos.  I have no idea why I'm scared to delete them-- they're all on Shutterfly and I've been trying to get them all on a flashdrive.  So why can't I just hit the "empty trash" button?

Of course, like everything in my life, I have to analyze this and turn it into a metaphor in my life.  Hanging on to those photos where they are accessible by the swipe of my fingertips across my mousepad is kind of safe.  (I can remind myself of C's baby days at any moment-- both the good and the bad)  But it also means there isn't much room for a ton of future pictures.  (Before deleting the 2,000+ photos in my trash, I kept getting messages saying iphoto was running low on space--was I sure I wanted to continue?) Keeping them in my iphoto kind of keeps me hanging on....

And it's weird because if I could just start fresh with a blank iphoto-- where I import, export to Shutterfly, save to flashdrive, and delete I think I'd feel so.... free and liberated!  But something stops me every time.  So please, if you know of any psychological help for something like this, I'm all ears.  I think I'm finally ready to move on.

My Candidate

Those of you who know me (anyone actually reading this blog) are aware of the fact that I grew up in a pretty politically active family.  Attending political speeches, putting up yard signs, doing literature drops, and knocking on doors are all things that remind me of autumn during election years.  And while I'm glad that I grew up in such an active family, I admit that I haven't turned out to be a very politically active adult.

While I never have missed an opportunity to vote in a presidential or senatorial election,  I haven't done much more than that.  (Although in college I did make phone calls for Bill Bradley!)

But now, I am a little more active in one particular campaign-- that of Steve Bomgaars-- who is currently running for the Iowa House of Representatives.  Yes, he happens to be my father.  However, even if he were just another guy from my hometown, I would love to vote for him.  And here's why:

1.  Steve is committed to Spencer and Northwest Iowa. 
        My family actually jokes that Dad is "Mr. Spencer" because he always likes to get back home after being away for a couple days.  Dad grew up in Spencer and chose to raise his family there.  He has been committed to the school district (as a parent, a teacher, and coach) and has worked in various ways with the community college.  He loves volunteering (even created a high school course devoted to volunteering around town) and is always around if someone needs a helping hand.  He doesn't like to stray too far in case something arises on the city council or in town-- and he might be able to help.  

2.  Steve is a problem solver.
        Oh my.  This used to drive me nuts when I was a teenager.  My dad was always into "helping me figure things out on my own"--which is not something most teens appreciate (at the time).  (And quite frankly, I probably had all the answers already.  Jeesh Dad, the nerve of trying to help me!) However, I'm so thankful that I was encouraged to think critically about situations I found myself in, and more importantly, find ways to solve my problems.  It takes a lot to really shock my dad, and he tends to keep the big picture the big picture.  He also knows that problems can't get solved overnight, but he keeps his eye on the goal and works hard to take small steps of progress along the way.

3.  Steve will listen to his constituents and work diligently on their behalf.
        Although my dad is a Democrat, he has several Independent and Republican supporters.  Those I have talked to say that the main reason they are supporting him is because he has shown an ability to work with people on both sides of the political spectrum for a common goal.  My dad is great at listening to both sides of a situation (perfect when he was a High School counselor!) and pointing out common ground.  I think he does this in his work as a teacher and also as a city council member.  This would be such an excellent trait to bring to the table in Des Moines!

4.  Steve has the network in Iowa to 'hit the ground running'.
        Without doing any annoying "name dropping" I'll let you know that my dad knows most of the current representatives in Iowa.  He also knows US sentators and representatives since he has been so politically active (basically his entire life).  While knowing many of these people isn't a must for any new representative, it certainly helps when being newly elected.  He definitely will be able to "hit the ground running" as soon as he gets to Des Moines.

5.  Steve did not accept a single penny (or thousands of dollars) from special interest groups.
        I'm not exactly sure why this is so impressive to me-- maybe because it is virtually unheard of in politics these days.  And quite frankly, PAC money is one of the things that really turns me off when it comes to politics (I feel like politicians have to "say the right thing" because a certain group gave them big bucks to say it)  From the very beginning, Dad vowed to not accept special interest money.  He was even advised against this-- but he remained adamant on his position-- and never backed down.  And if there is one thing I've learned through my dad's campaign it's that campaigns cost money.  Kind of a lot of money.  Money that veteran teachers don't make.  So he has relied on good ol' donations-- most of them under $50 each.  If anything, I think this really shows where his allegiance lies-- the people, not the special interests.

So.......those of you who know my father are well aware of the fact that he definitely represents one particular political party.  However, I feel that he is more focused on the concerns and issues facing the residents of Northwest Iowa than following a particular "political platform".  He is eager to work with many different people to make Northwest Iowa (and House District 2) prosperous and a great place to live, work, and raise a family.  If I wasn't a resident of a completely different district, I'd vote for this guy in a heartbeat-- and of course I think you should too.  :)

Now let's look at some photos of this guy, shall we?

Politicians are family guys, right?  
My candidate and his wife of 39 years
(and yes, she happens to be my mother) 
Looks like a senior photo, doesn't it?  

Aw, I love this. 

And a little trip down memory lane---  the daddy Sister & I grew up with. :)
Will he be "Representative Bomgaars"?  

Regardless of how the election turns out, I am proud of my dad for running such an honest and positive campaign.  If the results aren't in his favor, he will know he put his best foot forward and did all he could do.  And his family & supporters can be so so proud of cheering on someone like that.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Ultimate Procrastinator

If there is one thing I wish I wasn't it's a procrastinator.  I'm not sure how I came to be this way-- is it something that is just inherent?  It's just deep in my bones?  It's part of my dna?  Perhaps.  I don't really think I was "taught" this type of behavior-- it's just always been the way I AM.  

I assume that when most people say the word procrastinate it leaves a sour taste on their tongue.  But I've got to say that honestly, procrastinating kinda works for me.  Here are a few examples:

Writing: When I was in grad school, my program was heavily weighted with writing assignments.  And though I considered myself a decent writer, I really credit one of my professors (Ah-hem, Dr. Vernon) with helping me become a better writer.  (You've probably figured out that I'm talking about very dry, research-based, school counseling and child psychology types of writing-- not interesting blog writing of course.)  And though I would not procrastinate on the research portion of my assignments, (I spent many late nights in the basement of the good ol' Rod Library at UNI) I did procrastinate on the writing. A pretty good high school Government teacher (Ah-hem, Dad) taught me how to develop a detailed outline-- a skill that I relied heavily on when I got to college.  The best part of developing a great outline was that the writing came easy-- stringing together the information behind the signposts with conjunctions and peppering the writing with phrases like "many researchers agree that...", and "there is little evidence to suggest that...", "and "in conclusion....".  But I never actually sat down and typed the paper until two or three nights before it was due.  (That gave me about a day to proof-read and review it)  I always felt I did my best writing when I had a deadline approaching.  I was more focused and didn't seem to have as much ADD as I normally do.

But in real life, procrastinating doesn't work as well for me.  And unfortunately, it's not a habit that I've been able to kick-- and I really want to.  I often find myself saying, "I'll do it later".  "I'll do that tomorrow"  "I'll do that this weekend" and of course, I never do because I tend to put it off until the next tomorrow.

What's really strange to me is that when I'm productive and get a lot accomplished, I feel really good and happy with what I've done.  I just never want to do it and that outweighs the productive feeling that comes later.  It makes absolutely no sense.  (Kind of like how you feel so good after that run... but that good feeling just doesn't always trump that amazing feeling of not taking the first step out the door)

Right now, our house is messy, our laundry isn't done, dishes are in the sink, and toys are in the tub.  There are things to be put away in the garage, things to sort in the shed, and decorations to put out/ away for the fall.  Our guest room has become a "catch all" for things I'll do later.  I have little projects I want to do someday, and little things I want to organize, not to mention an entire hamper of ironing that will probably stay wrinkly forever--or at least until I absolutely NEED something to wear.

So where does this leave me?  Basically, it leaves me curled up in my big comfy chair doing unproductive things (like blog writing) on my computer.  So I'm thinking that I just need a deadline.  Someone needs to come visit us or stay in the guest room and then I'll have lots of motivation to get things accomplished.  Maybe I'll even be motivated to spruce up the living room and try to make it look like Pottery Barn.  (Very unlikely though)  So who's up for hanging out in Spahnville for awhile?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Happiest 5K

Months ago, my sister posted a link on facebook about a run I'd never seen before: The Color Run.  The video link looked super fun and when we learned that The Color Run was coming to Iowa, we signed right up. 

And October 6th sounded like a great time for a race-- nice cool mornings, warm afternoons, perfect right?  Well.... 

44 degrees is not warm.  

It's actually cold.  Especially when last weekend we roasted in 80+ temps while at the tailgate.

Anyway, we were HAPPY! 

Sister and I met our two (tall) aunties down at the start line.  Actually, we were about 6 blocks from the start line but we were in line.  (We were wave #20 of 20 waves of 500 runners each.  Apparently 27,000 runners ran the DesMoines Color Run-- one of the largest ever!  Go Iowa!)  

Since we were at the (way way) back, we had a chance to chat with Aunties for awhile which was awesome.  But it was cold and I'm thinking we should've cuddled more.  :) 

Here are the pics showing our fun and happy "race" (it isn't actually timed--my kind of race).

Before the run--
dressed in white to show our colors!
We met the aunties right away!
(How did we ever survive without cell phones??)

My turn with the ol' wise ones! 

The before shot--downtown.  

The start "line".  All that white for blocks and blocks
is the crowd waiting to start.

All Smiles!
So by now, you've figured out that you wear as much white as possible when you start-- with hopes of being totally covered in color by the time you finish.

PINK! (As you run, you enter "stations" along
the route where volunteers toss a colored powder on you.)
The "after" picture
At the finish, there is a Color Blast every 15 minutes.
Participants received a packet of colored powder
to toss in the air at the same time.  It was crazy.
And a little scary. But very colorful. 

Two tall sisters
and two shorter sisters.
All with the same last name.  Sort of. 

    C O L O R   R U N   C O L O R  F U N ! ! !

Monday, October 8, 2012

Not Pin-spired

We've all seen this room on Pinterest, right?

At first glance, I just LOVED it.  I thought the idea of the hanging bookshelves all over the wall was brilliant.  I instantly imagined our basement "reading nook" looking like that!

And what could be easier to plan an Elmo themed birthday party than steal all these ideas! (I admit, they are pretty friggen cute)

Or when I went to my scrapbooking retreat and found this on Pinterest.  I instantly decided that I wanted to make a scrapbook page that looked the same.  I just needed to take have a similar event happen, then take some pictures that resembled those pics, buy similar paper & embellishments-- again, all I would need to do is copy it.

And somewhere, in the midst of all this 'repinning' and 'liking' I began to "dislike".  A lot.  I started seeing all these posts on facebook of birthday cakes that looked like tennis balls, or cupcakes that looked like butterflies, and adorable penets that were strung across babies' rooms spelling out their names.  And every time I would see one of these posts, I'd think: "I saw that on Pinterest.  That didn't come from your brain."--and I got annoyed.

Now, I'm all about hosting a cute party or making a cute craft and I'm all about finding inspiration.  And people have been sharing their ideas and using others' ideas as inspiration for decades.  This type of inspiration used to be called "magazines" or "books" or "craft club" and now it's called "Pinterest".  I think what bothers me most about Pinterst is the total lack of creativity it lets people get away with.  Maybe this is just because I am a self-proclaimed creative person, and I like the feeling of "racking my brain" for an idea.  But I think it's just too easy to totally 100% steal someone else's idea and one more way for us to turn off our brains in today's society.

It's kind of like good artwork.  Sometimes you see it and think, "I could do that" or "I could have made that".  But You DIDN'T.  And coming up with the idea is half of the art!  Same as little projects.  Yes, we all can probably duplicate many of the things we see, but creating it is what makes it art!

When I was a kid, I remember my mom coming up with super party games for our birthday parties.  One year, it was a Cabbage Patch Kid theme and she made a giant "Pin the nose on the Cabbage Patch" poster.  Another year, we did a Halloween theme and she created a scavenger hut of things we needed to find door-to-door in our neighborhood.  At home she made an "office" for my sister by removing the lower bunk bed, placing curtains across the top and setting a little desk and bookshelf inside.  She wallpapered round ice-cream bins to use for cute storage and labeled household items on index cards when we were learning to read.  And she did this because she was a creative person-- who probably got an idea from some magazine or friendly conversation.  If Pinterest would have been around in the 80's, her ideas would've been all over it!

My second beef with Pinterest is how it makes me panicky and anxious.  Is everyone out there excelling at everything?   Does everyone have cute sayings on their walls?  Because in our house, we don't have cute sayings on our walls and we probably never will.  Does everyone spend a day planning a 3 year old birthday party?  Because whatever happened to picking up a birthday cake and some balloons at Hy-Vee and calling it good?  You won't find me whipping up an entire themed birthday party and I'm definitely not going to be making cupcakes in the shape Elmos.  C's school birthday treats will probably be pre-packaged Little Debbie snacks, not "butterflies" made out of clothes pins and baggies.     Pinterest leaves me with the feeling that everyone else is doing it better than me.  And I don't like that.  Because honestly, I'm probably doing just fine.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Writing Prompt #1

One of my favorite "interventions" (things) to do with students in my office is have them finish my sentences.  I always love to hear what kids say "without thinking".  And many times, kids will turn it around on me, and ask me to finish their sentences--- which is really kind of a nice little self exploration in the middle of my day.  (Being a counselor is fun!)

Okay, so anyway, I stumbled across this blog and decided to participate in some of the writing prompts.    My responses will likely bore you to death (or at least bore you to tears) so I'll try to label them clearly if you just want to skip these blog posts and only read the ones about my cute kid.  So here's the first prompt:

"Describe your childhood bedroom." 

Oh my.  WHICH childhood bedroom shall I describe?  As I think about this question, I realize that my mom switched things around a bit for us-- resulting in my having lived in two different bedrooms, with different colors, and sometimes with a roommate (my sister). And when I try to remember each individual room, the memory is a bit fuzzy.  So here is what I sort of remember:

When my sister and I shared a bright yellow bedroom, we had bunk beds pushed against the North wall.  I honestly don't remember anything else in the room, but I'm sure we had shelves and books and toys and definitely curtains.  Or more likely, a valance.  (My mom was always into making valances)

Eventually, my roommate moved across the hall and I occupied the yellow bedroom alone.  I remember I had a double bed with my great-grandmother's bedroom set.  The bedroom set consisted of a headboard, footboard, tall dresser, and vanity with bench. I loved that vanity-- especially the hinged 3 way mirror that assisted me in adoring myself in the mirror throughout middle school.  I loved having that huge bed to myself, and  I loved the white comforter with tiny pastel flowers.  (Did I have a matching valance? I can't remember!)

Shortly before I began middle school, my parents added on to their house, which resulted in another bedroom switch-a-roo.  Sister moved back into the yellow room (and painted it the pinkest pink you've ever seen) and I moved into my parent's previous room.  Because the year was around 1988 or '89, I chose my wall colors to be two-fold.  Two of them were mint green, the other two were peach.  It was the most awesome room you've ever seen.  (If Pinterest had been around back then, my bedroom would have been all over it) I had a comforter sporting green, peach, and purple "splash" marks that looked like you had just painted all over the bed spread.  I don't know where my mom found matching fabric, but I had a valance with the same splashy print.  I had a huge poster of Paula Abdul, and probably one of a kitty hanging from a tree with the expression "Hang in There" or a Shar Pei puppy with the quote, "The Wrinkled Look is In".  (I went through a long phase.)

At some point when I was in high school, I realized that the cheery green & peach bedroom was too cheery for a teenager in the midst of the the grunge movement.  So I changed my high school bedroom to a grey-blue (that was more light blue than anything) and accessorized with incense burners, candles, individual artwork, and photos of my awesome friends.  (And I think Sister's room changed from Pepto Pink to kind of a lavender color) I also remember having a comfy orange chair that once belonged in my Grandma Ruby's house, which was fabulous for watching Seinfeld on my tiny 13" tv that I received for Christmas my Sophomore year.

And while some people go off to college and return home on the weekends to the familiarity of their old rooms, I did not.  Instead, my room became a quarantine for our new little kittens, who had picked up fleas.  And in de-bugging the area, everything had to go.  Even the valance.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pet Peeve #45

Normal Names with "creative" spellings.

This. Drives. Me. NUTS.

I think it's partly because I work in a school-- and it's hard enough for me to remember the names of kids, let alone how to turn the spelling of something normal into something totally wacky.  And it's partly because I just love strong, traditional, gender specific, (and usually boring) names.  (Obviously, as my kid's name is Charles)  But really, does everyone really need to name their kids something "unique" and unusual?  Apparently not.  Now you just give your kid a normal name and scramble up the spelling to confuse the heck out of everyone.

Today I saw a new one: Aeric.  Really?

Here are some of my other favorites:

Khloiey (Chloe)
Cidney (Sydney)
Dayvid (David)
Tjayden (Jayden)  --is the "Tj" German?

And my personal favorite:
 Cierrah (Sara)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Here We Go

Did anyone happen to see September?  Because I'm pretty sure I blinked and it was over.  Now, September always seems to pass by quickly but seriously, I feel like it FLEW right past me this year!  Part of the reason was that we had something going on almost every weekend-- which was really fun but really made our time fly.  And, by the looks of the October calendar, I'll be writing about October zipping by just as quickly.

This past weekend, C was my little buddy as we packed adventure into our entire weekend.  On Saturday morning, he and I headed to Kindergym (oh my gosh, it has been SO much fun-- I'll have to write a post just about that in the near future) for 50 minutes of super fun times.  (Saturday was a farm theme-- and my kid is really into anything farm related right now so this was perfect.) After chasing C around a gym for 50 minutes, we headed to Target because--well, honestly, M's been doing the Target trips lately and I kinda just needed a little Target fix.  We only spent about 30 minutes there but I felt better after spending my obligatory $100+ at Target.  

Then we jumped in the minivan and headed over to Ames for my extended family's annual ISU tailgate party.  (I know, Cyclones Schmyclones, but it's still fun to see everyone and honestly, my ISU family members are pretty cool.) I have to say that having a tailgate as a sort of family reunion is pretty brilliant.  You're not confined to a hotel or building, kids can run and roam around, you can be loud, and there is never a shortage of food or drinks.  

Of course, the fall weather in Iowa is always questionable.  I've attended the tailgate in my winter coat and I've attended the tailgate in a tank top.  On Saturday, I should have worn a tank top.  (But I only have one ISU type shirt and that's the one I received from the Cy-Man Triathlon a few weeks ago--so I wore that.)  Although we were roasting, it was sunny and beautiful and we had a great spot to spread out at the tailgate.  

Apparently, we are very serious "bags game" people and each year, we have a pretty competitive bags game tournament.  A few years ago, it evolved into a bracketed tournament complete with a traveling trophy.  This year was no different and we had three different games to utilize (two for the grown up teams, and one for the kids).

C was pretty serious and his opponent (my cousin's sweet girl)
was such a good sport playing against him! 
We had a Bingo game! 
We also have Book Club (Tale-gating) where those of us who read books get to share a book we've recently read.
But I'm not convinced it was totally appropriate for my lil man.  
Looks like we should have had a talent contest too!
(My cousin's talented little guy)  
There also could have been a baby club-- I think we had four under 18 months there!  
I love this pic of my cousins & their little ones.
Time for a little game of catch. 

He's totally ready.
We had prizes (the hat) and awards! (Uncle John is about to award my Uncle Mike with a SPAM gift-- after his yearly tradition of making SPAM burgers.  No, I haven't ever tried one.) 
Charlie never has any fun with his grandpa. :) 

And while I claim to be more of a Hawkeye fan than Cyclone fan, I actually do look forward to attending this tailgate every year.  And one of these years, I'm going to talk M into coming with me.  (He happens to be at the Iowa game almost every year on this weekend.  Hmmmmm.....)  

Next weekend we're heading down to DM for the COLOR RUN (wooo hoo!) and to see some good friends of ours.  C & I are also hoping to get out to Illinois one last time before Sister and Baby N move back to Iowa. (yippie!)  And I *might* be able to do a little scrapbooking on another weekend before November sneaks up on us.  Crazy busy but I'm totally lovin' it.  :)