Friday, September 30, 2011

Patience and Grace

I babysat for a friend's nine-month-old little angel yesterday, and, while I loved the baby fix, it reaffirmed that I do not need a third. I do not miss that "life is a death trap" phase. We were crawling and pulling up and I was baby-proofing six inches ahead of her. She was a great snuggle bug, though, and I laughed until I cried watching her bear crawl and chase the cats. I do miss watching my two in those moments.

It was wonderful to watch my big girl with this little girl. Issa helped me after school, and I'm quite certain that was the highlight of June's day:
Issa very patiently offered her toys and played peek-a-boo until even June was tired of it:

Look at that happy baby:

Issa was incredibly patient, following June's lead. She shared everything--even Baboo! I started to reach for it when June grabbed it, and Issa stopped me, reminding me she was little and we should share. Sometimes I wonder where she learned such patience and grace. I am one blessed mama.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sweetest Moment

Last night was one of those blissful nights where class went really well and I managed to make it home in time to tuck in the kiddos.

Usually, we (Issa included) tuck Evan in first, but last night Issa wanted to be tucked in first. In one of the sweet moments that will always be ingrained in my memory, Evan snuggled in beside Issa while we said prayers and sang good night songs. Before I scooped him up, Issa asked for a kiss and a hug, and I saw my two angels really love each other. They were both so happy, and it was a real hug. I scooped a very happy boy up and tucked him in his own bed, and his little voice cooed, "Love you, mama."

I can't think of a better way to end the day. I want to remember this moment the next time we are wrangling over tired kids into beds or the they are "bugging" each other. For a few moments, life was perfect. I'll take those moments any time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This is the Face...

...that did not launch 1,000 ships. It did, however, become the face of the Fall Festival at Issa's school. I actually took this picture to showcase the new bangs (which I stole from Issa), but it is also what my exhausted face looked like last night. I really wanted to curl up with a glass of wine in a bubble bath. I settled for a glass of wine and some time with my computer planning a Fall Festival.

It all started so innocently. I went to a meeting of the fundraising committee yesterday morning. Somewhere in the first five minutes of the meeting, my head nearly exploded. As it turns out, the "traditional" Fall Festival just started last year, and it was a disaster, but we don't want to change anything. Umm...? And even though it's run by the fundraising committee the goal is to break even. Umm....? And we don't really know what we're fundraising for. head exploded. A few highlights of the meeting:

  1. Do we need to have a discussion about having lights? There were no lights last year, and we didn't need lights last year, but it was a big discussion. Should we have it again?

  2. We need to add some new activities because the ones last year were not popular; no one really remembers what we did except a bouncy house and hay maze, which everyone loved.

  3. People want to help but not be in charge because they don't know how. If the head of school tells them exactly what to do they will happy to do it. This even applies to leading the clean up crew. Apparently, we need to write directions for putting trash in the dumpsters.

  4. How many cups do we need? How many come in a package? What does that cost? We need to know so we know whether to charge $3.50 or $3.75. And how much should we charge for painting a pumpkin in addition to the cover charge? How many rolls of quarters should we get for change?

This is when I could take no more. We are charging $5 per child, including the pumpkin because we are not dealing with quarters! If we make a little money--fabulous! It's a fundraiser. The committee dubbed me a genius with that idea.

I came home and let my head stop spinning. Once that happened, I sent an email to the head of school, who looked as annoyed as I was during the meeting, with a few ideas. She was thrilled, and when I went back to school last night for a general parent meeting, she asked if I would just run the Fall Festival.

So...I came home last night and drafted a list of activities, a layout for the event, a volunteer schedule and sign-up, and a supply list. If everyone agrees, we are well on our way...just in time for me to start planning the holiday bazaar.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gremlins in my Kitchen

Gremlins have invaded my kitchen. You may remember Brad had mastered the art of the Sally Lunn bun. Well...something wicked happened last night:
At one point, it literally had a pulse. It was something out of a bad horror movie, and I really thought it was about to explode and start dripping from the ceiling. Miraculously, it baked up beautifully:

It may not be a bun, but it is beautiful, soft bread.

The other gremlin's name is Issa. We leave for school at 8:16, and in her head if lunch is not being packed by 8:00 the world might end. It was 8:01 when we walked into the kitchen--the gremlin and I. Since it really doesn't take us 16 minutes to pack a lunch, we have time for Issa to start helping more. For the first time this morning, she cut her own vegetables:

She decided on carrots, tomatoes, and cucumber today. I buy baby carrots and cherry tomatoes, but she does need to cut the baby cucumbers. She did the whole thing:

Not too bad for a first attempt. They should be perfect for dipping in hummus for lunch.

And as I reread this post, I recognize that I mentioned twice that we leave at 8:16. Yes...we are that specific. Issa is learning to tell time, so she is more precise than Big Ben (which is a bad analogy since Big Ben is actually the bell, but we'll go with the common phrasing). She can arrive at school at 8:20, and if we walk out our front door at 8:16 we pull into the parking lot at 8:20 and all is right with the world. I'm off to chase out the remnants of the gremlins...

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Day Out with Thomas!

I'm back! I was so busy enjoying the weekend there was no time for writing. You see, yesterday we went to church, had brunch at a fabulous waffle place, hauled out the fall decorations (pictures to come), and enjoyed homemade gnocchi pomodoro on the deck for dinner. There was no time for writing. And Saturday, well Saturday may have been the highlight of Evan's life. We rode Thomas: Pretty impressive! We saw him as soon as we arrived at the Transportation Museum. Then, after a brief time huddled under umbrellas in line, we got to ride Thomas:

Evan was clearly too excited to look at the camera. Issa made sure we sat in a Thomas seat:

By the time the conductor checked our tickets and we rode around the grounds, the rain had stopped and we were able to enjoy the rest of the Thomas events. Evan was so thrilled that the bouncy house was shaped like Thomas he didn't want to get in:

Issa didn't want to get out:

(I'm pretty proud of that picture, by the way.) Evan was thrilled to run through the hay maze:

And after a picnic lunch, we got to meet Sir Topham Hatt:

Evan wanted to show him his muscles, and Issa wanted to chat. We wanted a picture:

It was just too much for Evan. Finally, we were off to see the big engines and play with the trains, making both kids insanely happy:

(I feel the need to insert an explanation of Issa's hair. Just go with it. She has decided this is the new, cool way to do her hair. Yes...there are three ponies. Yes...I agree it looks a bit odd. No...I'm not willing to fight that battle. She's happy, and it's out of her face. It's her hair, and I now have a great picture to pull out when she's 18.)

Evan loved playing train table tucked in between huge engines:

And we were able to wave to Thomas one more time on our way out:

Local vendors, clubs, and churches also had little booths set up around the grounds. It felt like I was back at the Henry County fair, and my resistance was low. So...I needed a funnel cake on the way out:

It was the size of my head, and it was so worth the powdered sugar all of the van. I haven't had one in years, and I did share with Brad. It was like a taste of my childhood. It made me happy.

Almost as happy as Evan's kettle corn made him:

You'll be glad to know we have some left.

I don't think my funnel cake made me quite as happy as Issa's cotton candy made her, though:

I know I heard myself say she didn't need to eat the whole thing.

That was clearly a ridiculous thought. She did love every bite.

That much excitement wears a boy out. It was a perfect day--even with the rain. The kiddos are still talking about it, and I think all the sugar has finally worn off.

And now it's the start of a whole new week. Chug, chug, choo, choo off we go!

Friday, September 23, 2011

We Don't Need No Stinkin' AAAs

Every once in a while, I have a moment where I feel like I might be in an episode of the old show "Home Improvement." At these moments, I have learned to make a little Tim the Tool Man grunt and enjoy the show.

See this innocent looking lady bug night light:
It project stars on Issa's ceiling, and she loves it. It also ran out of batteries. It needs AAAs; we were out of AAAs. Silly Mommy said I would pick up some more at the store and she could use her other nightlight. Issa was crushed, and Daddy sprang into action:

Yep...he made a new battery pack that requires AAs, which we had. There was soldering and wiring and then there was light--even brighter stars than before. And Issa was happy. I guess you can say her daddy really did hang the stars.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Little Hero

You can barely see it, but Issa has a little scuff on her right brow. She didn't say a word about it, but her teacher left a message on our answering machine since Issa stays for after school on Wednesdays.

Yesterday, one of Issa's friends started across the monkey bars and got stuck. He was calling for help, and since Issa was closest she ran to help. He panicked, and he accidentally kicked her. She still helped him down, and she didn't fuss one bit about her own injury. Her teacher left a message explaining what happened, apologizing for the scuff, and praising Issa for being a good Samaritan.

When I listened to the message with Issa, she brushed it off like it was no big deal. Since then, she's asked to listen to it a few more times. It will stay on the machine; she deserves to hear the praise a few more times--especially since she's been so humble.

I am one proud mama this morning.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Done Did Lost My Mind

Every once in a great while, I get a hair-brained idea and no one (aka: Brad) steps in to say, "Hey, moron, perhaps this is not your best option." Yesterday was one of those days. I decided, for some reason only known to the portion of my brain that lacks good sense, that it would be a great idea to take the kids to go get flu shots and then go get new shoes. (You can stop laughing now.) The proximity of the two events was just too tempting. They are five minutes apart, and if I picked the kids up as soon as Issa's day was over we could do both things and still be home in time to make dinner.

It actually went better than I had any right to expect. We were able to do the flu mist this year--way less stressful than a shot. Both kids were big and brave without a fuss or a tear. Our noses were a little runny and sore, but we were on our way to get shoes.

Five minutes after we entered the store, I remembered why I usually either take one kid at a time or take Brad with us. Both of my children have feet that are next to impossible to fit. Our poor sales girl earned every cent of her commission, bless her sweet heart.

You see, Issa inherited my feet--very narrow, especially in the heel. Add that to the fact that she now wears a 13.5, which is right between where preschool shoes stop and big girl shoes begin, and we were on an expedition of epic proportions. She really wanted bright shoes that had velcro. We tried on every shoe that met that criteria and actually came in her size with no luck. Finally, the sales girl just went back and brought out every shoe that she thought Issa might like that also had a good chance of fitting her foot. Thankfully, Issa was thrilled by this pair:
They virtually glow in the dark, but they fit and Issa loves them!

Then, we moved on to poor Evan. He has circles on the ends of his legs. Add that to the fact that he wears an 8.5, which is right between toddler and preschool shoes, and I saw our poor sales girl about turn green. He pointed to shoes he liked, and she skipped the trial and error. She came out with a stack of boxes of similar shoes that had a prayer of fitting his foot. Six pairs later we landed on this one:

He loves the green! I love that they fit.

Both kids were angels through the whole process. Never once was their a fuss or a whine about a pair not fitting. I was just exhausted from tap dancing my way through the potentially stressful situations for my littles. We did need a cookie at the mall on the way out to celebrate our successes and sooth our sore noses.

Issa did have a melt down to rival all other melt downs last night, but it was saved for home, which I am eternally grateful for. She suddenly decided she had forgotten how to tie shoes and the world was ending. I'm talking alligator tears and my life is ruined logic here. It was ugly--especially since she ties the tiny ribbons on her tap shoes every week. It was mind boggling. We finally got her put back together, and, miracle of miracles, she tied her shoes last night. And then she tied them again this morning.

Now you will excuse me while I pour myself into a cup of coffee--I'm still recovering, and I'm hoping my mind is somewhere in the bottom of that cup.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Rest of the Story

Yesterday, I posted about our beach adventure. Since it was already a marathon post, I confined myself to only pictures of people. Today, I have a few of my other favorite pictures.

The ocean is truly amazing to me. I love the sound of the waves crashing and the reminder of how small we really are:
I want to make this one into a poster for Issa with the lyrics from "I Hope You Dance." ("I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.")

I was terribly amused by the amount of stuff we hauled to the beach:

Two bags and a cooler. I love Issa's little shoes left behind while she's enjoying the sand between her toes.

How cool are these clouds?

I love the brightness of the beach toys against the white caps and clouds. I love that you can barely tell where the ocean stops and the clouds begin.

The boys' sand castle:

I added the "flag" for Evan.

These gulls are hilarious and ornery:

We actually felt like we were being surrounded as we picnicked, and we had to move our things closer to the water because one of the little rascals tried to fly away with Evan's diapers.

I just love this guy:

He was huge and just kind of chill...

...especially compared to this guy:

Evan and I watched this little guy run in and out of the waves, looking for treats the ocean brought in. He never tired; he just kept running and nibbling.

Here in NC, people talk about the beach, but I love the ocean. I love feeling small, and I am awed by the power of the waves and the surf. Maybe that's why I like gloomy days at the beach. The ocean really takes center stage in all her glory. Looking at these pictures, I can still hear the waves crashing, and life is good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Day at the Beach

We had the most perfect day trip yesterday to celebrate Issa's birthday. We headed out bright and early to Wrightsville Beach. The weather was our idea of perfect: overcast with a nice breeze. We love the beach when the sun isn't glaring. We had the place to ourselves, and we loved every moment.

Issa loved collecting shells in her new bag: We ended the day with 161 shells; we washed and counted them last night.

Evan loved digging in the sand:

I loved the whole day, but especially these moments:

Daddy and Issa loved walking in the waves and collecting shells, and I never get tired of capturing those father/daughter moments.

There were also kites to be flown:

And dump trucks to be driven:

And I really was there! I love this picture:

After a picnic lunch and plenty of beach fun, we headed twenty minutes down the road to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. It is amazing! We must be especially lucky; for the second time this year we looked into the eyes of an albino alligator:

The tidal pool was also a big hit!

I learned so much about horseshoe crabs. Did you know they have ten legs and ten eyes?

Meet Sugar the purple sting ray. Evan loves him:

And how can you resist "riding" a frog?

On the way home, we all sang along with Journey, even Merlia/Zuma/Dolphin (I really need Issa to settle on a name for her new friend):

And this one sums it up:

Evan made sunglasses from a water bottle label. We laughed all day. No whining. No fussing. Just fun.

We are so blessed that we live in a place where in a little over two hours we can stand beside the ocean. It was a wonderful day trip that felt like a week's vacation. Happy birthday, Issa!