Monday, February 20, 2017

Right Now....

You've seen those signs that people paint on pallets or rustic canvases, the ones that have twelve lines about what happens in their house.  For example....

When I see these signs I feel a little twinge--like I want to be part of that family.  They say they're sorry, they say they are funny!  They are loud and encourage each other and they make messes but we all know they are the "fun, totally crafty and good-mom type" messes.  Or the type of messes that say, "My house is messy because we're so busy living around here-- and I don't have time to do the laundry because I'm busy engaging in meaningful ways with my children!".   I want to be that mom,  I want to live in that house. If I pause and breathe deeply, I think this sign might apply to Spahnville too.

But truthfully, if I was to create a sign that resembled Spahnville at this moment in time, it would probably sound more like this:

In our Home, We wake up so freaking early.  We dream of sleeping past 6:30. We rush around. We eat cereal for every meal. We yell and nag.We love stuffed animals! We whine for snacks.
We complain when we're given the wrong gift stuffed animal.  We cry about stupid things. We whine when it's mealtime. We scream especially if someone asks us not to scream.
We cry.  We cry a lot.  Someone is usually crying. We whine. We whine a lot.  Someone is usually whining. We smile when it's quiet and then get frustrated and yell at each other. We have power struggles over pants.  So we don't wear pants.  We love to be together.  We love alone time too. We look forward to bedtime. We battle bedtime.  We bribe at bedtime. We wonder if we're doing it all wrong. We hope we're doing something, anything, right.  We get by and hope it's all okay.

Does it sound too negative?  I'm not sure I want that hanging on my wall-- I'd rather have the light-hearted and fun one that sounds all breathless and airy from the loving and fun things that family is doing.  But the problem is that I feel that sign is just a bit too..... optimistic for me.

Lately, I've felt a lot of anxiety and stress and weirdness (cabin fever maybe?) that can't really be explained.  (Although strangely, it all started coming to head right around the time of the inauguration...).  I feel dis-jointed, like I can't really get moving and motivated and back into my routine.  I keep reminding myself that this is also a phase, heavily determined by the fact that Anna does not sleep well at the moment and the entire world knows how I poorly I function with little sleep.  But even in that haze, I notice little sparkly gems that happen in our daily life-- like spotting the back to an earring in the carpet-- they catch me off guard but make me stop and notice and look a little closer.

Here are my current gems:

Current Obsessions:
-Shopkins-- I think he now has something like 50 different characters, and he knows exactly which players are rare or super rare or can't be found at Target.  He plays with them often, although I haven't exactly figured out exactly what he's playing when he has them all lined up on his bed.  Much to Charlie's chagrin, Anna loves his Shopkins too-- and often will often plan a quick heist with the sole intention of plucking one little creature from the bed and running away with it-- before tossing it over her shoulder or shoving it into the nearest plant in hopes of destroying the evidence that she took it. 

-Harry Potter-- Charlie was gifted the illustrated version of the Book1 and has been hooked ever since.  It's a little advanced for him (in terms of both vocabulary and comprehension of the story), but he has fallen in love with the idea and of course with the main characters as well.  As a result, we're planning a (pretty spectacular) Harry Potter themed birthday party, with plenty of magical elements. 

-Star Wars--Although SW has taken a backseat to Shopkins and HP, the force is still coursing through his bloodstream.  He loves all things galaxy and empire related, and has no problem watching Return of the Jedi for the 30th time.  (Or whichever one has the Ewoks...)

Current Hobbies: 
-Any Sports--Football during football season (He's thrilled with the outcome of the Super Bowl although it was a little touch-and-go there for awhile), Basketball during basketball season, Baseball during baseball season, Soccer during soccer season, etc. etc. 

-Playing Quidditch on his broom downstairs.  This has got to be one of my favorite things to "not watch".  (Mom! Don't watch me! I'm playing Quidditch!) As you can imagine, he straddles a small broom and runs around our basement pretending he's flying.  Not only is this a sight to see, but.... he commentates the whole thing.... (wait, it gets better)..... in an English accent!  It is a sure-fire way to smile even if one is having a terrible day.  Nothing like a 6 year old American boy shouting, "Here he comes! Oh you bettah watch out, I reckon he's mighty fahst tha' one! Oh look! Charlie Spahn 'as spotted the Snitch!  I think this is it! He might be, he could be, YES!  Charlie Spahn has got the Snitch!!" 

Good Stories: 
Charlie continues to be the best big brother in the history of 6 year old big brothers.  He will not allow Anna to leave the house without running to her and shouting, 'Hug and Kiss!".  He helps her out-- getting socks and shoes on (even though, truth be told, he probably could use the help more than she could.  She graciously accepts help from him and nobody else.) 

The flu is making its way through both elementary schools, churches, town centers, etc. etc. etc.  Because we're leaving for Arizona in a week, I recently told him that he needs to wash his hands (with soap) as much as possible.  This includes stopping and washing every time his class passes a bathroom in line for something.  (I don't care what your teacher says, I'm the mom and I said so!)  He was actually okay with these orders until I delivered the final blow: Keep your hands and fingers out of your nose and mouth! 
Charlie looked up at me with a look of fear and uncertainty and asked, "But Mom!!  What if I have to wiggle my wiggly tooth!?" 

Current Obsessions: Aside from her (probably inappropriate) obsession with her blanket and pacifier, Anna is obsessed with anything that she is not supposed to have.  A few big ones that come to mind...

Beer-- As soon as a cold (alcoholic) beverage is cracked, Anna is at our heels begging for "a little sip".   Although we deny her the sip when she asks, she has been known to climb up on chairs to retrieve the forbidden beer from the back of the counter before taking her "liddel sip".  She slurps the side of a can or chugs the hoppy brew straight from the bottle, and always declares, "Dat yummy!" as she sets it down. Yes, we realize how in appropriate this is and we're working on it. 

Food-- Anna's love language is food.  Especially processed junk food, which we (thank god) don't have a ton of.  She's especially fond of fruit snacks and crackers, but will settle for beef sticks and yogurt and applesauce.  She enjoys most fruit and will tolerate sauteed veggies or glazed carrots.  She would snack on plain bread or un-toasted waffles or dry cereal all day if we let her.  I vaguely remember Charlie being the same way at her age so I'm hoping this is a stage that will soon be outgrown.  

Scissors--Anna loves to "cut wif paper" but sometimes doesn't ask permission.  I try to be a laid-back parent, one who encourages activities like cutting that strengthen those little fine motor skills.... but when you notice that your daughter is "cudding dis paper" in your checkbook, you realize that maybe there is a fine line between laid-back and neglectful....

Knive--Oh knives.  Much like the scissor thing, but with knives.  I always let her use butter knives, but because these are allowed, she no longer wants to use them.  Instead, she's interested in new paring knives or steak knives.  Both of which, are sharp enough to fillet my own fingers (hypothetically speaking?) so there's no way she's gaining access to them.  However, just because access to knives has not been granted, does not mean that she's not trying to gain it.  (As in, she's constantly trying to get the knives)

Chairs-- For a gal who's just shy of 3 feet tall, bar height chairs are a girl's best friend.  Our chairs grant her access into a world where she is not readily welcomed.  Anna drags chairs around our house and uses them like step-stools to access hard to reach places like counter tops, closets, dressers, the fridge, and the pantry.   Because of this,  our chairs can often be found on top of the table and counter-- which makes it look like we are in a constant state of floor-cleaning. 

Baby Wipes--Oh my god. The baby wipes.  Charlie played with wipes occasionally but Anna is obsessed with them.  We have several gallon sized baggies with 'unused' baby wipes that Anna has pulled from the wipes container and strewn about the house.  No, I take that back.  She usually cleans her baby doll's bottom, (Ew Baby! Dis is gis-gusting!  Ew Baby!  You is stinky!  Ew!  Gwoss!) and then leaves a trail of wipes around the house.  

Vic's-- This could also be any kind of cream, lotion, essential oil (that was one of the worst), toothpaste,  whatever.  She loves to open up the lid (half of the battle!) and then smear whatever is in the container all over her. 

Additional Info: 
We have a million fun stories of Anna-- she's got great sayings and the best facial expressions of any toddler.  She loves to change her clothes (the other day went to daycare wearing shorts over leggings, a tank-top, and rain boots) and is officially a size 4T shirt and 3T bottoms.  She loves baby dolls and feeding them and burping them and changing their very dirty diapers.  She's a busy girl with the tiniest little ponytail who keeps us all on our toes and is incredibly fond of saying, "I dis so bizzy!" and "I NOT doing any-fing!" 

At the end of the day, I'm grateful for Spahnville.  It's hard and messy and achy but I like coming home to these heartbeats.  Basically, my rustic family sign would read,
Spahnville: I like it here

Saturday, February 11, 2017

16 in 16 Update

Speaking of Resolutions, how did I do last year???  Here's the list I created and how I fared....
Red= totally succeeded in not doing it.  (aka: failed)
Blue= forgot about this. Kind of maybe did it a little bit? 
Green= amazingly did it. Totally accomplished. 

1.  Just DO things.  I still tend to procrastinate a little, but overall I did this much more than I did before.  Like most mothers of little kids, as much as I tidy and pick up and put away, our house still seems to be in disarray much of the time.  

2.  Find my creative self again. 
      1. Make stockings for Charlie, Mason, myself-- (I finished Charlie's and Mason's and am about halfway through with mine.  Plenty of time before next Christmas.)
      2. Skinnify old jeans, experiment with altering t-shirts and button down shirts. 
      3. Make a t-shirt rug 
      4. Learn how to macrame or weave. 

3. And adding to the creativity goals.... learn how to use Grandpa Bernie's scroll saw. The trick is going to be finding someone to watch the kids.  In order for Mason to teach me how to use a saw, we can't have kids around. And I cannot ever remember a time where we were here and they were not.  So......?

4. Meditate.  I'm going to write more about this in a future post but right now, my difficulty is finding a time to do this.  Because Anna wakes up before 6:00 most days, I would need to get up earlier than I'm ready to.  So this one is going to remain a work in progress. 

5.  Speaking of meditation.....Participate in Buddhist Path at least once.  Buddhist Path happens on Thursday night-- Mason golfs in the summer on Thursdays and plays Pickleball in the winter on Thursday night.  Thursdays have never been a good time for me to do something....

6.  I would like to walk a labyrinth this year.  I love this!  There is a labyrinth in Cedar Falls, but unfortunately, the property it is located on is for sale and it hasn't been maintained well. Regardless of that, a group of friends walked it after church on morning and it was such a moving experience.  The weather was gorgeous and we were silent, but moving forward.  It was funny, the strange peaceful feeling that gradually washed over me as we walked.  I would highly recommend doing this if you're at all interested-- there is a reason ancient civilizations created these so many years ago. 

7.  Get a new tattoo!!    

8.  Date my husband.  We have gotten a handful of babysitters throughout the year and went out to eat just last weekend.  Our goal is to go out once a month... So far, we've gone out twice so we're right on track. :)

9.  Make myself a priority.  We know how this turned out!   

10. Write more.  Totally depended on the day and obviously wasn't on the blog.  I hope that changes again this year- I miss updating the blog and know that I'll want to be able to look back on these things when I have time in the future. 

11.  Become a puppy mama again.  (UPDATE:  We did some dog sitting a few weeks ago and realized that we are NOT ready for another dog.  Having Anna and a dog in the same house is just not a good idea until she is definitely older)

12.  Take the final two courses in Yoga Calm and continue to use it in the schools.  (UPDATE:  I accomplished this in November and Love it!!  I've actually signed up to take a similar course in just a few weeks.)

13.  Tidy our house.  (UPDATE:  hahahahaha!!  A tidy house!!  Hilarious!!)

14.  Learn more about Reiki and sign up for a session. I still haven't done this and everything in my hippy soul wants to experience it and become obsessed with it. Then I will buy sage leaves and incense and beautiful drippy candles and write more. Promise. 

15. Read more.   I managed to read 10 books last year. Definitely not one of my best years in terms of how many books I read, but the books I read were worth reading. 

16. Move my body. I don't watch my Garmin too much, but I do like watching my steps increase throughout the day.  Obviously, it's no problem for me to rack up 10,000 steps during those glorious summer months, but these days my goal is close to 6,000.  But more importantly than the steps, I want to be an example of 'movement' to my kids.  

So six and 1/2 out of 16 that I accomplished plus five that I sort of accomplished... not too shabby!  I'm glad I write these every year-- as I was looking at them, I still would love to do the things I didn't have time to do.  Guess what's going on the 17 in '17 list?  (Well, except for the dog one....)

Embracing Technology

Ah, New Year's Resolutions.  Go to the gym, lose 10 pounds, eliminate sugar, walk 30 minutes a day, etc. etc. etc.  I haven't set a health/ weight related resolution for several years, but I do love setting goals and tend to focus on things like reading more books, knitting more projects, and spending more time outdoors. Last year, I created a Winter's Solstice intention on finding more time for myself.  Mason thinks I succeeded with flying colors on that goal! (I agree that I did-- throughout the year, I found myself justifying a writing retreat, girls weekends, and plenty of solo trips to target with my new mantra...."Go for it! It's the year to do things for myself!"  In fact, it became somewhat of a joke around here because Mason would often say, "Whatever you want to do, just do it.  It's the year of Karah, isn't it?") So last year, as the year wrapped up, I started to think about what my new goal would be.  Several ideas crossed my mind, but ultimately, one won in the end: Embrace Technology.

Sounds easy enough, right? 2017 and technology is here to stay, right?  But those of you who know me best know what a challenge this is going to be for me.  I'm not crazy about technology.  I don't like it, it doesn't impress me, it doesn't light any kind of fire in my belly, and quite honestly I would be totally happy with no technology.  I like books with paper, calendars that hang on walls, and memorizing my friends' phone numbers.  I long for photo books with printed pictures and mail that arrives in the mailbox instead of on a screen.  I love music that requires a tangible object being played on some kind of player (remember record players? cassette tapes? cd's?), I like clouds that only exist outside in the sky, and I'd be okay living in a world without the words "upload, download, and sync.".  Oh, and the *&!!@ rainbow circle makes me want to hurt myself and anyone around me.  None the less, I have come to the realization that technology is not going anywhere and rather than fight it, perhaps I should embrace it.  Or at least start dealing with it.

So my journey began shortly before Christmas when I took a trip to our local Apple Store to see if they could help me out with a longtime battle of phone storage on my iPhone.  Ultimately, they could not.  (However, they took a million hours of their time with me and were so sweet and nice and pleasant even though I was obviously clueless.  I think it's because these sweet self-proclaimed apple geeks are under the age of 25 and I remind them of their mothers.). Anyway, that non-productive meeting led me to setting up another meeting for the beginning of the year.  I chickened out twice before keeping the one I had yesterday-- strictly due to anxiety because the whole thing just freaks me out. But yesterday I had a meeting with Sam at the Apple Store and I can honestly say that I'm definitely feeling like I'm on the first rung of my embracing technology ladder.

Sam helped me set up my new phone (that I also bought last week--gulp!!  May I just say that I am not the one who does techy things like deal with buying new phones--and I avoid things like this at all costs-- so I felt like a very big girl for doing this) and get everything all synced and i-clouded and reset.  (This was ultra annoying because my apple ID and password was connected to a recently compromised email account... it was as if the universe was testing me to see if I was actually going to go ahead with this whole goal.)  He answered questions and took his time with me and helped me realize that "times they are a changing!" I had a little ephipony when I realized that I'm not always going to be able to play cd's on my computer -- just like my parents had to say goodbye to 8tracks, vinyl, and cassette tapes. And though I'm more comfortable with my cd's, there's a lot of good stuff available and accessible 'on the cloud'-- the key is knowing about it, and knowing what to do with it.  And though it gives me a gut ache just thinking about it, I'm breathing deep and trying hard to accept it.

It's hard for me to take these steps and keep moving forward because this is not something that feels naturally important to me.  However, I'm starting to see the benefits in accepting it...slowly...bit by bit. Before leaving the store, I made one more purchase for our home: a new desktop.  We've never owned one before so this feels very grown-up and 'family-ish'.  And it's freaking beautiful and makes me want to sit down and light a candle and drink hot tea and write and embrace technology all day.  We'll see how this goes....

Mason built this ahhh-mazing table for us last weekend.  Isn't it great?! 

to be continued...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Christmas Season #2


Christmas Morning:  Is there anything more magical?  Honestly, a morning where Anna would sleep in until 7:00 would be pretty dang magical but Christmas morning is a close second.  (Sorry, Liz) When I was a kid, I couldn't imagine ever being a grown up and having Christmas morning anywhere other than my parent's house.  Even as a college student, the only place I wanted to be during Christmas was back home at 1608.  To me, there was nothing better than the Christmas Eve traditions my parents had created (deli meat sandwich melts with "real butter"!!, green rice, chips and queso, and plenty of sugary treats-- not to mention the annual Christmas book and then [in my opinion] the best thing Catholicism has to offer.... candlelit Midnight Mass) and I couldn't imagine ever deviating from those traditions.

Then slowly, as time marched on and these little humans came into my life, and their ideas and interests influenced us.... things and traditions (and tastebuds?) evolved.  We no longer eat deli meat sandwiches and green rice and queso.  We don't buy a Christmas book and read it on Christmas Eve. We don't do church.  But we do have crab legs and clam chowder and mid-day munchies.  And thanks to the Scholastic book order, we buy a million Christmas books all month long.  And we take silly family photos in front of the Christmas tree and wear new Christmas jammies and drive around Grundy Center looking at Christmas lights before coming home and eating peppermint ice cream and preparing snacks for Santa.

Even though deli sandwiches and green rice have be replaced with clam chowder and crab legs, and the sweet songs and the candlelit glow of Midnight Mass have been replaced by Christmas carols sung at the top of our lungs in a minivan, the magical feel of Christmas remains.  So maybe it shouldn't be surprising that even though I'm a grownup, the anticipation of Christmas morning still brews in my belly all day on December 24th.

So without further ado, I give you Christmas Morning:

Anna found Clifford (her current favorite fictional character) waiting patiently by her stocking.  It was the hit of the morning...

Charlie was just as excited to find Smartwool in his stocking.  (I may have influenced my children a little...)

Santa must have been advised by a school counselor to toss in a calm-down bubbler as well...

And what was Anna's favorite part??  I'll give you one guess...

Charlie and I searched the internet for hours trying to find the perfect Dolphins shirt for Daddy.  Once it was wrapped and under the tree, Charlie eagerly begged us for Mason to open it early-- but we never gave in. The anticipation nearly killed him, but he hung in there and the look on his face in this picture absolutely melts me.

Some crazy people still read books with paper (who knew?) and require new reading lights from time to time.... which are hard to come by!

Shopkins obsession still going strong....

Cubs obsession still equally as strong....

Oh, and reading/ books obsession too....

It's unclear who this gift is really intended for....

And Anna was also around on Christmas morning-- but she's just a little more difficult to catch on camera...

Except when we stopped her and made her 'say cheeeeeeezeeee'.  (Notice Charlie and Clifford in the background)

Charlie opening his gift from Anna....

And the reaction...

 More books...

And more food!  (But this time pretend food)

Sidestory: Mason plays Pickleball twice a week (He loves it.  We're officially old.  Next will be Shufleboard.) and has wanted a Pickleball paddle for awhile but they are surprisingly expensive.  (Who would've thought??)  So every time we're at Scheel's, we look at them and then ultimately he decides that no, he does not need an expensive Pickleball paddle.  This has gone on for months so naturally, this seemed like the type of thing I could buy for a Christmas gift.  So three DAYS before Christmas, Mason comes home with a new paddle.  "What!?" I yelled at him??  "Why would you DO that? And 3 days before Christmas??  Have you no sense??"  So we laughed (but I was still a little annoyed because, seriously, even though you are the type of person who just buys something if you want/need something, it's three days before Christmas!! Who does that?? ) but I suggested that maybe he wait to see which paddle I "may have" bought him and then keep the one he likes best.  Fast-forward three days and Mason opened up his new Pickleball paddle-- which was exactly the same one that he picked out.  Which means that I am a freaking awesome gift-giver and he should remember this in the future and not buy things for himself hours before Christmas.  End of story.

The aftermath (this photo taken with my new wide-angle lens that fits right over my phone!)

Charlie received a Shopkins Lego kit and now has officially been bitten by the Lego bug.  He was one of the only 6 year olds I knew who could have cared less about Legos... but all that has since changed.  Much of Christmas Day was spent constructing the new Shopkins set.  (Ah, smart Lego parents!  Now I understand why this obsession is encouraged!!)

Our afternoon was spent playing with new toys, eating, watching tv/ movies, reading books, and just enjoying our time together.  That night, the kids graffitied their bathtub with new bath crayons, lathered up with their new soaps and bubbles, and slipped into their new jams.  We read a little longer and cuddled and a little tighter that night, as we reflected on the day.

At one point in the midst of the gift-opening craze (which is actually semi-controlled at our house because I still have too much Bomgaarsian controlly-feels inside me...) I looked around our living room and felt a wave of gratitude wash over me.  Not only are we able to afford these financial luxuries that come with Christmas (new tree, new decorations, new books, extra groceries, splurging on the expensive booze, way more gifts than necessary, etc. etc.), but we have this safe and sturdy home with plenty of space for the four of us.  We have more clothing than some small countries and we've never had to want for food.  At this moment, we have our health, we have each other, and (current politics aside)we live in a safe, civil world.  I couldn't help but think about all the people in the world (some right here in our own county) who do not have these things.  As we enjoyed this beautiful Christmas morning, some people were struggling in a war-savaged country. Others were struggling in a drug-raged community, or within secretly violent families.  And while my over-emotional emotions sometimes get the better of me, I'm so glad that they are in tack and keep me grounded and grateful for these things that matter most, but are usually thought of least.  It truly is a magical season, made even more magical when you know just how lucky you are to be living it. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Christmas Season #1

Obviously, Christmas is all packed up and tucked away by now... although I'd be lying if I didn't mention that I keep finding Christmas trinkets here and there.  The tiny music box found on top of the dryer, one of my favorite ornaments as a child that was tucked between books on Charlie's shelf, Christmas candles that still make up the table centerpiece.... maybe Christmas isn't all packed up and tucked away.  At any rate, the big stuff is down in the basement and we've officially rung in the new year.  And although February may be too late to post about Christmas, I want it officially logged into the blogosphere so I'm doing it anyway.

Christmas was especially magical this year.  I'm not sure why.... maybe because both kids loved it and understood something exciting was in the air.

In non-typical Spahnville fashion, we made batches and batches of cookies this year.  (I would like to take a moment to mention that I am not a good cookie baker-- nothing about making cookies appeals to me and usually they don't turn out very well.)  But this year, we made multiple batches of sugar cookies and peanut butter star cookies.  While the pictures are cute, I wouldn't really recommend baking cookies with a 2 year old who is obsessed with sweets.  Like, completely obsessed.

We also made gingerbread houses which was fun but I'm convinced this activity is much more fun and exciting in other people's instagram accounts than in real life.  Because in real life, it was hard and frustrating and time consuming and didn't work very well.  And all the kids were arguing and needed help and trying to eat the candy which made me wonder why I didn't just buy candy and let them eat it.  So next year, I think our activity will be "Demolition Gingerbread House"-- where we just eat all the fixin's without any of the stress or expectations of actual constructing the houses.

Did I mention that Snapchat filters might be one of our favorite things about Christmas time in 2016? 

This year, Charlie and I went sledding on Christmas Eve-- the weather was beautiful but it had been raining and we wondered if it might be too wet.  We were delighted to discover that the hill was super slick-- not at all wet-- perfect (although a little nerve-wracking for me) sledding conditions!

After coming home and warming up, Mason and I enjoyed our traditional crab legs and clam chowder (YUM) while the kids feasted on pigs in a blanket.  And then.... then it was time for our evening festivities.  Perhaps one of my favorite Spahnville traditions is our annual Christmas Eve family photo shoot.  Every year, it's the same: Mason is in charge of setting up the "real camera"--he turned it on this year and realized that the last photos taken were Christmas Eve last year :), while the three of us "pose" next to the tree and make Mason exasperated.  We're lucky if we can get a couple good shots-- especially now with a two year old-- and Mason never seems to actually enjoy it (secretly he likes it....) but it's always worth it--- the photos are my favorite.  2016 year was no different.

That night we tucked the kids (clad in their new Christmas jammies) into cozy flannel-lined beds and waited for Santa to arrive.  The excitement was tangible-- and we couldn't wait to wake up the next morning.  (Well, Mason and I would have been okay sleeping in....)

To be continued....