Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mindful Breathing

Because Issa's legs are so long, her ballet teacher is worried about her muscles tightening up as she grows. As Issa has declared dance her "thing," and her teacher believes she has some real natural talent, she recommended that we start stretching more with Issa in order to develop the habit now while she is super bendy and could prevent her legs from tightening up. It has been a great excuse for me to go back to a yoga practice. Each night, the kids and I have started doing a simple practice, and I forgot how much I missed it.

Although it may be difficult to focus on breathing with two little ones, and it's slightly less relaxing with Evan falling out of tree pose every two seconds, it is really good for all of us. I had forgotten how much breathing helps life...and I found myself breathing a lot yesterday. Like when Issa picked up every. single. egg. in the carton to be sure there were no cracks. It was a five minute ordeal. Just breathe.

Or this:
Issa now makes her own lunch start to finish. What should be a two minute warm up of left-overs becomes a fifteen minute preparation with chairs being pulled all over my kitchen. Just breathe. I have a feeling that will get us through a lot in the coming years. Math homework. Just breathe. Another negotiation about what to wear. Just breathe. Girl drama. Just breathe. Maybe I should paint that above my kitchen door.

Just breathe.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Goodbye...Sort Of

This was one whirlwind weekend!

We went next door Friday night to watch the opening ceremonies and have dinner. I was in love with the opening ceremonies, and the kids had a blast playing together again. I love watching Issa play little mama, and poor Evan just doesn't know what to do with himself when another little guy loves smashing dump trucks into things as much as he does. He actually took two dump trucks over to show William, and they are kindred crashing spirits.

Saturday, we had a going away party for a good friend. We are all Olympic junkies, so it basically was 17 people crammed into my family room eating burgers and cheering on the USA. In other words, it was perfection.

Yesterday, the kids and I drove out to pick up some stuff she was trying to get rid of (including a sweeper just in case my melted version doesn't pull through), and she ended up coming back here for dinner. I love saying until next time and discovering it really means tomorrow...and she may be back today for dinner since her refrigerator is officially empty. When she actually flies away on Wednesday I may curl up in a ball.

I woke up this morning to little people wanting to plan their Halloween costumes. This does not bode well for my week. Wish me luck!

Friday, July 27, 2012


Brad is forever telling me, "When you do something, you really do it well." Normally, you would think it's a compliment. Usually, though, it's when he's trying to fix something I broke. It's a talent I have. Fortunately, it's also a talent he has. Last night, he fixed our vacuum:
 We're are still a little unsure of how I did it, but I managed to melt the end of the beater bar a bit. It might have something to do with sucking up a foam cat ball and it getting all kinds of stuck and then ground to shreds. Oops. A flame thrower was involved in the repair. It was a little scary, but it's fixed!

This is how Issa helped:
 She read to Daddy. In case you are wondering, Amelia Bedelia is not really a rocket scientist.

This is how Evan helped:
We're not sure why he covered his ears because of a flame thrower.

Moral of the story: don't sweep up cat toys.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm Special

I took Issa and Briana to the library yesterday morning for their last summer reading program. Birdman Dave had come to teach the kids about birds, and I think we all learned a lot. We met a screech owl and a puppet bird that taught us what birds and humans have in common, but the highlight was Belle, the macaw.

Belle demonstrated how strong her beak was, how dexterous her feet were, and how smart she was when she played shadow and talked. Then, Belle took a flight around the room. Before she flew, Birdman Dave explained that in his 15 years of working with Belle she had never landed on anyone, and that we all just needed to sit very still as she made her loop around the room. We were all very quiet and very excited. Birdman Dave told Belle to take a lap, and she came and landed directly on my foot. I'm special. For a moment, I feared for my toes, but she was very gentle and amazingly soft. I have never been so still in my life, and a very shocked Birdman Dave came and retrieved Belle.

I'm hoping for a much less adventurous day of mowing and grading today. We'll see!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Fun...Mostly

Yesterday was a day full of summer...even if I hadn't really planned it that way. Issa and I started our morning by making sweet pickles. We had four pounds of cucumbers to use up, and this seemed like a great plan. Our first solo canning mission was a huge success!

I cut the cucumbers into spears, and Issa cut them in half to fit in the jars:
 She is becoming more and more helpful in the kitchen. She did the sauce mostly on her own:
 I read the recipe, but she did the measuring and stirring. She also put the spears into the jars:
 Something about this shot just makes me blissfully happy:
 We have decided there is something insanely satisfying about the ping of a sealing jar:
 After I cleaned up the canning kitchen, Issa invited Briana over to play. Since it was one million degrees in the middle of  a week day, they decided to set up a lemonade stand. Just as we were talking about how they would "purchase" the supplies from me for their business, I noticed this:
 And then this:
 And then I realized somehow it had eluded me that when I let Viv in she looked more like an Irish setter than a shepherd. So...the girls helped me give her a bath to earn the supplies. There are no pictures. There are no words. Two small, squealing girls, one unhappy dog, and me in one small bathroom trying to rid fur of red clay. I do not recommend it.

But...they earned the supplies and set up shop.
Who wouldn't buy lemonade here? They each made $2, and they thought they were millionaires. That is what I call a day full or summer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Milestone

Every once in a while a milestone sneaks up on me. It had the nerve to do it last night. Issa was getting ready for ballet, and I went upstairs to find this:
 Her friend Briana was doing her hair, and Issa decided she would much rather have Briana do her hair than me:
Apparently, I do not know how to do pigtails any more. I have a feeling this is only the beginning...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pioneer Weekend

Issa declared this morning that we had a pioneer weekend with Grandma Nancy and Papa Don, and she couldn't have been more thrilled about it! While I wouldn't exactly say we lived like pioneers, we did have a great time.

The highlight of Issa's weekend was learning to can. We made our own pickles:
 Daddy lost a finger tip in the process, but we had a blast aside from that. It is way easier than we thought, but that is largely because we had two experts to walk us through the process. Grandma brought Issa her own canning recipe book and some starter supplies, and Issa and I picked up a few more things this morning so we can try a batch on our own to use up our cucumbers. (I'm really hoping it's as easy when it's a solo operation.)
 Evan was not as excited about canning, but he did love playing trains with Papa:
 We took Grandma and Grandpa to our favorite park where Issa showed off her monkey bar skills:
 Evan was very serious about climbing:
 But for Evan (and I think the rest of us) the highlight was fishing! We went to our favorite lake, and the ranger pointed us in the direction of the perfect fishing spot for little fishermen. We were in a little cove with picnic tables and not another soul around. On the first cast, Miss Issa caught her first fish:
 She then asked to pet her first fish:
 A few minutes later, Evan held the pole while Papa reeled in this little blue gill:
 Three generations of Bower men waiting for the big one to take the bait:
 Issa did amazingly well hooking and reeling:
 We girls were a team:
 I am hypersensitive to not letting my girly girl think she can't do something because she is a girl. So, I got tough and baited our own hook. And...in a miraculous moment...I even took our last fish off the hook. I had forgotten how fun fishing is, and I am quite certain we will be headed back soon.

Besides fishing, Evan fell in love with the mud:
 And the kids had a blast wading and finding shells.
I would say it was pretty much a perfect weekend, and we are so grateful Papa Don and Grandma Nancy made the trip.

Friday, July 20, 2012


A few random headlines from the week...

1. We signed Evan up for his first soccer team this fall! Daddy will actually play with him, and Evan can't wait. I am quite certain hilarity will ensue.

2. We have a new friend:
 This little tree frog has been hanging out on our back door at night. I think he is super cute, but he is also super loud.

3. I went to my first PTSA meeting at Issa's new school. What a difference! I was so impressed by the focus on serving the school and helping all students. It made my heart happy.

4. I discovered Issa had been conducting a science experiment:
 These were little green berries she picked at the museum. She wanted to see what would happen if you put them in a dark place for a while. The answer is a health hazard.

5. I may or may not have cried when we got the first automated phone call from Issa's new school. I may or may not be a mess.

6. Issa made me a super cool picture yesterday:
Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


When you are married to an engineer, you learn pretty quickly that just because something comes one way doesn't mean it needs to stay that way. The way manufacturers send things is merely a suggestion for use. Fortunately, my engineer is very good. He is also a big believer in prototyping, trying a mock up before he makes a pretty version.

Meet this week's prototype: 
Yes...my coffee pot is up on blocks. We love this pot, but the way Cuisinart designed it you can't get  a travel mug under the pour spout. So, Brad took out the tray, but the pot up on blocks, and shifted the tray. Now a travel mug fits and the drips are still caught by the tray. Brilliant! (I am ready for the pretty version, though.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fairy Magic

Our library doesn't disappoint...although it occasionally gets me into trouble. They have started a new non-fiction shelf for little people that highlights books that they think would be high interest, which made my literacy professor heart sing. The kids were thrilled by the new section, and when I saw Issa pull this book I temporarily forgot where we were:
 She and I snuggled in to read about Fairy World, and only then did I notice that last word--crafts. You know where this is going.

Fortunately, this book focuses on using found material you might already have around the house, and even more fortunately, we did have the materials around the house:
 The cuff of a sock that was too small became a fairy dress for Barbie:
 All it needed was a ribbon skirt:
 (Barbie was apparently over being photographed.)

A flower crown and some leaf wings were the final touch:
 When you make Barbie a fairy, you have to make Issa a fairy.

Start with a girl in swimsuit and add a ribbon skirt:
 And a flower crown and leaf wings:
 And you end up with the two happiest fairies on Earth:
I think the fairies are going to the puppet show at the library this morning to show our favorite librarian the fun.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Movable Feast

You may remember we had a large chunk of tree fall down a couple of weeks ago, and you may remember our amazing neighbors who helped clean it up. Well...we invited them over for dinner to say thank you, but they asked if we could eat over there. They have one year old twin boys, and coming here for dinner means moving a lot of stuff. If they didn't mind us invading, it seemed like a win-win. So...we made a movable feast:
 Add burgers, hash brown casserole, and homemade ice cream and you get the idea. The pan on the far end is jello, which Issa insisted we needed. I didn't have any real jello, though, so we made juice jello with Knox. I will never buy the other stuff again. It was so good!

Issa wanted to capture some of our dishes. The relish tray she arranged:
 The watermelon she and I arranged:
 The kids dressed themselves for the party:
 Issa really dressed for the occasion! Evan, well:
He was a hot mess. I particularly love the dress sandals and gym shorts. Lovely.

We had a great time. William and Evan became fast friends. They are both tanks who love balls. Issa loved playing with Andrew, who is a great snuggler and in love with books. Brad and I had a blast, too. It was the first time the two families really got together, but I just know it won't be the last.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dinosaurs Rock!

This was just the most perfect weekend! So perfect, in fact, I'm going to break it into several blog posts. Of course, Dinosaur Day was the highlight, so that is where we will begin...

The theme this year was "Dinosaurs Rock," and they really focused on the fossil aspect of dinosaurs. The NC Fossil Club set up all kinds of displays both showcasing and giving kids the opportunity to touch and learn about all kinds of fossils, from sharks teeth to dinosaur bones to ferns. It was amazing.

We arrived as soon as the museum opened to members in order to avoid the biggest crowds. It also meant we had the dinosaur trail to ourselves:
 Who doesn't love riding a hadrosaur?
 Daddy sort of humored me for a picture:
 Even though we walk this trail at least once a month, it's just a little more exciting on dinosaur day:
 The kids ran from one dinosaur to the next. I've finally stopped jumping when the troodon sneaks up on us:
 The end of the trail boasted the fossil pit complete with fresh dirt and Fossil Club members to help identify. When we got there, it was the four of us and four members in the pit. Talk about a treat! I cannot say enough wonderful things about this group. They are knowledgeable, but they are so kind, too. They treat a cool rock as specially as a real fossil, and they cheerfully identify the same kind of tooth many, many times. They pass along any cool finds they dig up, and they teach without making it a lecture. We were so busy digging, I didn't take a single picture, but I did want to capture our finds.

Some really cool shells:
 Shark and puffer fish teeth:
 Fish vertebrae (and shark vertebrae, not pictured):
 Issa's prize find, a whale shoulder:
 Evan's prize find, fossilized alligator poop:
 The rest of the museum was still lots of fun, and I just love these pictures:

I love the reflections. Issa is actually getting pretty good at sailing; Evan still pretty much runs the boats into the wall. And to think, this was just the beginning of the weekend...