Thursday, October 30, 2014

He Gets Me

Yesterday, just as I was walking out of the office, lunch still uneaten in hand, Brad called. He asked if I could meet him for lunch somewhere--my pick. Yes. Yes, that is exactly what I needed.

We just went to a little place downtown--nothing fancy, just great sandwiches. We talked about work and nothing in particular. We went to vote. We were home in time to get the kids off the bus and do the afternoon and evening routines. It really wasn't anything extraordinary.

Except it was.

I am running on fumes. There's a lot of sadness around me. Our little family is thriving, but the sadness around me is getting to be a bit much. Work is still insane, and the housework is mounting. Families I know are dealing with things they shouldn't have to face. I can feel myself slipping into a funk, and I'm fighting to stay out. Thankfully, Brad is right there beside me pulling me out. He knows when I need a little extra of him, and for that I am forever grateful.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ninja Hiding Spot

Monday, Issa set about reorganizing our DVDs. That left an empty hole that clearly needed to be filled with something while the DVDs were scattered about the floor:
He used his stealth ninja skills to hide.

Oh how I love this boy. He certainly keeps life interesting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkin Horrors

Last night was pumpkin carving night at our house. It's always a bit of an adventure--but this year even more so. Remember those super cool unique pumpkins we chose at the patch? It appears that super cool unique pumpkins have super thick walls. Like three to four inch walls. Just getting the tops off required multiples knives, spoons, and shenanigans:
(Yes, Issa is sporting an eyeliner mustache. It's costume week at dance, and that was the best we could do for tumble, Most of our costumes would have been a safety hazard while flipping.)

Daddy and I pitched scooping them so we could still roast the seeds, but then we suggested that perhaps we could just paint them. The children would have none of that. Enter the power tools:
My floor suffered greatly:
But we ended up with great pumpkins that actually tell a story. Evan's (the far right) is an eyeball eating monster. Issa's (to Evan's left), just had its eyeballs eaten by Evan's. Daddy's (uncarved) is Issa's brain. And mine (far left) is the queen who is quite horrified by the scene:
Evan was very proud of his gruesome creation:
Issa was approproately horrified:
And we are all pretty proud of the final result:

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Little Early Halloween Fun

We started celebrating Halloween in earnest this weekend! The fun started Saturday night with a friend's Halloween party. Guests had been encouraged to come in costume, and we decided to be a family of pirates:

 We had much fun at the bonfire, and then Saturday we headed to Boo at the Zoo. (The picture of Issa above was actually taken there. Saturday night was not a good picture taking window for her.)

When we got there, each child was given a treat bag, and there were fun games to play for Halloween prizes at the entrance. We also had a ghost scavenger hunt throughout the zoo. We spent the rest of the day visiting animals and looking for the ghost cut outs.

I would not mess with this pirate princess:
 I would take my chances with the pirate prince, though:
 He doesn't really do scary:
 The Kid Zone at the zoo had some cool photo ops set up:

 But truly, we had the most fun with the animals. The weather was fabulous, and the animals were out and about. We finally got to watch the otters play:
 And we went to the aviary for the first time:
 We had such fun finding all the beautiful birds tucked in among the foliage:
 But the lions stole the show:
 They had cubs!
 We spent a long time watching the four cubs play:
 While Mama was in the thick of the playing, Daddy took a nap in the sun:
 They were so fun to watch:
They found a joint left over from lunch and tussled over that, and then they played stalk and pounce. It was adorable.

Every time we go to this zoo we see something new, and yesterday was no exception! Today, we are enjoying a day at home. The kids had the day off, and I decided to take it, too. Daddy is working, but he is working from the couch so all is well with the world!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Happy Early Birthday

Tomorrow is a very special day at our house: Daddy's birthday! Our plan was to celebrate tomorrow, but the kids had chosen their gifts last week and clearly waiting another 24 hours to give them to him was absolutely torture. So, they presented their gifts this morning: Mousetrap and an Angry Birds Jenga game. They put so much thought into these gifts. We have been playing more board games as a family, and they wanted to get Daddy some new ones. Issa remembered that he mentioned he loved Mousetrap as a kid, and Evan knew Daddy likes building, too. Such sweet children.

Tomorrow, he and I are going out for breakfast after we drop the kids off, and being the awesome Daddy that he is he wants to cook dinner with the kids for his birthday. We will make a Chinese feast and then probably play the new games.

And that is one of the many reasons I love this man. He doesn't choose to go out with friends or go to his favorite restaurant. What he wants for his birthday is to spend time with his family. Since it's Chinese, he will do the lion's share of the cooking. He will tuck kids into bed after extra snuggles because they will be all over him since his birthday--and he'll love it.

When we were 17, I couldn't have imagined the life we have now. We knew we would be together, but the crazy chaos we have created is better than I dreamed, and I am so very, very grateful that he chose me to be his partner in the everyday as well as the big stuff.

I love you, sweetheart. Here's to many happy returns on the day; 35 looks great on you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nervous Wreck

I'm a wreck this morning, even though my head knows I have no reason to be.

It's a bit of a big day at work. We have a guest lecturer coming in for a colloquium, and I recommended him. I heard him speak years ago as a very young teacher, and he absolutely changed the way I graded. I'm hoping he's as good as I remember!

Before he comes, we are having a reception for Teaching Fellows alumnae. By all accounts, it's an easy event for me. The Alumnae Office did all of the planning and detail work. I truly just have to show up. But I'm a wreck. I don't mind small talk and social functions like this in my personal life or even when I'm playing the good wife at one of Brad's events. I actually enjoy them. Going as the current director for a group of alumnae I don't know is making me queasy, though. It's not logical, but I'm dreading it.

It doesn't help that I won't get to see my kiddos tonight. Our new, fantabulous babysitter will get them off the bus and do all the running; Brad will be home to have dinner with them and tuck them in. Dinner is already in the crockpot, and I know they will have a great afternoon and evening. I just hate that I'm missing it for an event that has me on edge.

I try not to wish days away, but I'm kind of ready for this one to be over.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Just to keep it completely real here, I have a confession:

I have no idea what Issa's damn hermit crab's name is.

In my defense, we've been through a few hermit crabs, and  I do nothing with him anymore. Issa has been taking care of this one completely solo, and he is thriving. In fact, Brad pointed out that he's lasted longer and grown more than any crab to date; I think he was implying that perhaps I had fussed a couple other things to death in our house a la the initial series of betta fish. Aside from observing whatever cool hermit crab thing he is doing that Issa needs me to see right now, I have zero interaction with our crustacean family member.

Then this week, I realized I have completely forgotten the bugger's name. I know we had a couple of Hermes and then a Squirmy, and I feel like this might still be Tiny, but I also feel like Tiny might have been the last one. If it's not Tiny, I have no idea.

Now, I could just ask Issa, but I'm certain that would cause quite the rancor. And so...I'm hoping she just casually drops his name in conversation. However, I think she suspects I might not know because I asked how her crab was, and she worked very hard to not say his name.

Curse having smart kids and a horrible memory!

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Might Still Be Tired

Friday, I spent the day at the pumpkin patch with my littlest pumpkin:
 It was his first field trip of the year, and although I have gone on a pumpkin patch field trip every year for the past five years, this one took the cake. It was the best experience for the kids I have seen yet--lots of hands on exploration. I also learned that going with my son is very different than going with my daughter. This was my group for the day:
 They are the sweetest boys, but they wore me out! We started our day with a hay ride out to the big pumpkin patch. I had thought the patch was big, but it was the pumpkins that were big! They turned us loose to explore and climb. I just tried to keep up and keep track of my crew.

Then we played on the playground and had lunch, which was easy enough. It was a great little playground, complete with plenty of balls. But the highlight was the corn maze. Before we went in, each child was given a bag to collect three ears of corn. They were also told to get one stalk of sassafras and a sunflower. I am counting it a personal victory that I didn't lose anyone in the corn. There is nothing quite so terrifying as three little boys in brown shirts setting off into the stalks in search of corn; the path is clearly there for everyone else.

In a moment that is still making me chuckle, we tried to get a picture of the class with their sunflowers in front of the sunflower field after we left the maze:
It was like a Where's Waldo of kindergartners.

Then, we got to go feed the animals all that we had gathered:
 The goats were a highlight, but we also saw cows, horses, chickens, and pigs. It was great for the kids to see how the food was grown and then actually get to feed it to the animals! Once we were out of food, we picked our own pumpkins and then headed home. In short, it was a perfect field trip...with one tiny glitch:
That is a small sample of the patch I brought back in my shoes. When we were in the big patch, we had lined the kids up on the edge of the cornfield to take a picture. All the adults went into the patch to take said picture, and once we had snapped it I was the lead duck to get out. Unfortunately, that meant I discovered this particular part of the patch was essentially quick sand. Both feet went in deep and were firmly stuck. My only option was to pull my feet out of the shoes. Thankfully, another mom helped me dig them out, and I had a water bottle in my purse to give them a quick rinse after I dumped the mud out of them. It was hysterical. The boys were just beside themselves, and Evan earned some serious cool mom points because I laughed and just walked out of the patch in my socks. In fact, his buddy loudly declared I was a cool mom because I didn't scream. I'll take it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

This sums it up...

From Evan to his father last night:

"You messed with the dancer, now you have to deal with ninja." (Insert ninja ready position here and a look that would intimidating if he was taller than four feet.)

Dinner is never dull around here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I'm working from home most of today. I have meeting with some teachers at the kids' school mid-day to work on their accreditation report, and we have Issa's parent/teacher conference right after school. I will leave right from the conference to head to work and teach.

I will be forever grateful to have a job where I can do this. I will work late tonight grading to catch up, but I have the flexibility to be at the kids' schools when I need or want to be. In fact, it's highly encouraged and supported. That flexibility makes some of the other craziness so much more bearable...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Glimpse Into Another World

Finally, the last of the weekend round up...

Friday, we attended what just might go down as the best school event in history. All four of us agree, which should tell you something.

The Latino PTSA hosted a Latino Cultural Festival, and let me tell you, they did it right. For one evening, even though we were in the same gym, I truly felt like I was in a different world. They had created activities for the kids about actual Latino culture--not the Anglo version you typically see. They had Day of the Dead activities and Carnivale activities and activities I couldn't completely place. They had fabulous music, live dancers, and an authentic taco truck. The event followed their cultural norms--including a focus on people rather than time--and all of the activities were conducted in Spanish. It was awesome.

Kids I knew that typically speak English to me were running up, excited to share their culture, in a frenzy of language I didn't speak. At times I felt so lost and overwhelmed, but every time I realized this is what so many families feel like every day. And while that certainly wasn't their intention, it was a great experience for me. I stretched a little bit, and I learned.  And although I couldn't translate, I understood those kiddos.

The kids just had plain fun. Brad and I learned so much, and it was fun to watch the evening unfold. I feel like we all grew a little bit--hearts just a little bit bigger. New connections were made. It was good.

On a side note: It was also the first time Evan has ditched us for his friends at a school event. I will admit my stomach hit the floor when he ditched me to sit with Allison during the dance show; so it begins.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Quiet Moment

As promised, I am working my way backwards through our weekend. Saturday was a blur of activity. Issa had two birthday parties, Evan and Daddy had a date at the museum, we had friends over for dinner, and we camped out in the backyard. A blur. the midst of that chaos, I got an hour and half all to myself. Issa's second birthday party was of the drop off variety, and it was just far enough away that it really didn't make sense for me to drive all the way home when a coffee shop was much closer. So, once she was happily dropped off, I made my way to a coffee shop.

I'm reading a biography of Branwell Bronte right now, which I realize makes me one big nerd. It's a book I have been trying to get my hands on since undergrad, but it's very rare. Brad managed to snag me a copy at a used bookstore, and it will probably always be one of my very favorite gifts from him. It has that lovely old book smell, and the fact that he remembered that I wanted to read it is priceless. I'm truly enjoying it, but it's not an easy read by any stretch. Since my usual reading time is right before bed, I haven't been able to spend as much time with Branwell as I would like. But Saturday, I settled into a corner booth with a pumpkin spice latte, cinnamon scone, and Branwell. And for an hour and a half it was quiet and I was awake. It was lovely.

I love the hustle and bustle of our home. I love being Mom, and I love family time. But every once in a while, a little quiet is golden loveliness.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Drizzle

I had fall break at the end of last week, which basically meant I caught up on everything I was behind on. But, this weekend was fabulous. I think I will tell the tale backwards, though.

Yesterday, we went to church and then headed straight to the pumpkin patch. It had been our plan all along, but the weather was not ideal. It was chilly and a little misty, but the patch assured us everything was up and running. We asked the kids what they wanted to do, and they were too excited to wait. After a picnic in the van, we headed in, beginning with the annual pumpkin measuring pictures:

The patch really did have most of the activities under tents, and the kids couldn't wait to jump in the corn crib:

Playing in corn is the thing they look forward to the most:

They were also excited to milk the "cow:"

We were terribly amused that this is still exciting considering they have spent the summer milking real goats. And they were still excited to feed these goats:
We then headed out for the tractor ride, but this year we decided to get off and do the corn maze. I'm not going to lie: I was really concerned for a minute that we were not getting out. It was one too many twists for this mama, but we made it! We even brought home some corn to add to the fall decorations:
Once we rode the tractor back to the patch, we had way too much fun choosing pumpkins. They planted a weird pumpkin patch this year, which was filled with over 20 varieties of odd pumpkins. The field was a muddy mess, and I was too focused on staying upright to snap any pictures. So...the grand reveal will have to wait until carving day. Daddy is most proud of his; it looks like a brain. Need I say more?

So...although the weather was not ideal, it did make the leaves pop and the maze seem a little spooky. I would say that it was one more great day at the pumpkin patch.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

This Face

This face is why I get next to nothing accomplished in the evenings:

Yes, she fell asleep sitting up last night. As soon as I sit down with my computer to write, she snuggles up. And when 60 pounds worth of puppy wants to snuggle, you snuggle. She might drive me crazy, but she is also one of the two sweetest dogs I know. I think I'll keep her.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Seeing the Goal

The dojo has a cool tradition when students earn their yellow belts. As soon as they tie that yellow belt on, they embroider your name on a black belt and hang it in the dojo. As you train, you can see your black belt.

Couple that with the idea that we really wanted to display Evan's old belts, and this was born:
Evan chose to mount the bar he and Daddy made on the side of his bed. I then made all of the belts he will need to progress through out of ribbon. As he earns them, we we will use the ribbon to tie his belt onto the bar. His white belt is already there, and he couldn't be more proud. I've watched him count those ribbons over and over, and his eyes are definitely focused towards that black belt. I'm sure it will be quite the journey.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hello, Fall!

We celebrated fall in a big way around our house this weekend. Saturday morning, we all spent time at the farm. It was almost chilly when we got there, and this may be my favorite time of year at the farm. The colors are beautiful, and we get to enjoy a plentiful harvest and the kind of work where you can tell where we've been. Brad and I weeded the new spinach bed and then cleaned out the raspberry patch for fall. We were both tired and sore, but you could certainly tell where we had been! The kids harvested and played with all of the animals. In short, it was a fabulous morning.

Our original plan was to decorate that afternoon, but a festive, live bat had moved in to our bonus room right above the decorations. We opted to wait until he left to venture in there, which I would say is the better part of valor. Saturday night, though, we headed out into the backyard for some camping. And no camping trip would be complete without hot dogs over a fire:
 It was a little chilly, but we dressed for the occasion:
 And Daddy built us a lovely fire to keep our toes toasty:
 And s'mores melty:
 Daddy is the best s'mores builder on the planet:
With full tummies, we all snuggled into the tent. We had taken sleeping bags and blankets, and we all slept snuggled up and warm. We each woke up once to snuggle a little deeper from the chill, and Evan woke up at 6:45 and had to go potty. At that point, we realized it was cold. Daddy took him in, and then promptly texted me to say they were not coming back out and he was putting coffee and cocoa on. At that point, I decided to check the weather and discovered it was 39 degrees. That is the best part of camping in the backyard--easy access to warmth! While Daddy made a hearty breakfast, the kids and I decorated. All was right with the world.

I love fall. I love how it brings out the snuggles and fires and cocoa. I love seeing pumpkins around the house and colors in the trees. And I love that our little family was able to really soak it all in this weekend.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Time to Make a Belt Display!

Yesterday was a big day at ninjitsu. To start, Evan received his intention stick:
 The stick above his head has his picture on it. There are longer sticks with each belt level leading all the way to black. By hanging it, Evan acknowledged his intention to work towards a black belt, and with each graduation he gets to move the stick closer.

And last night he also got to move it for the first time:
He is now officially a white with blue stripes belt--more conveniently known as a blueberry belt. He was so, so proud.

At the dojo, once you earn a yellow belt they embroider a black belt with your name and hang it on a belt display in the dojo. As you train, you can keep your eye on your black belt. Daddy has promised to build Evan a similar display for his room to hold his old belts. I promised to hang ribbons on it for each belt so he can track his progress and know what's next. He is really determined to become a black belt, and I am so grateful he has found something he loves so much.