Thursday, January 29, 2015

Terrific Kid!

This morning, it was Evan's turn to recognized as a Terrific Kid at school:
video
We were so proud he was recognized for kindness and caring, and he absolutely cracked us up. For a kid who is so wide open, he's not really a fan of being the center of attention, which is why we got this crazy face:
 I also tried to convince him that perhaps we should do something about that hair and maybe we could match, but that was all clearly ridiculous. Thank goodness the award wasn't for fashion:
We really are so proud of our little man. We think we'll keep him.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

July in January

It's done! The kids are registered for summer camp. I am always amazed that this has to be done in January, and you better believe that when registration begins at 9 I am logging in at 8:59.

This year, the kids have asked for a home summer. They only want one week of summer camp, and we agreed. Evan will be a Junior Vet, and Issa chose Grossology. I can't even. I imagine the rest of the summer will be filled with friends, crafts, the library, and our backyard. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Belly Laughs

Home life is feeling lovely right now. Brad came home Friday after two weeks away--two weeks that included teacher work days, snow days, and car troubles. That just shouldn't be allowed to happen. The good news is we all survived, and we now know that one raccoon can seriously jack up a car. Thank goodness for good insurance and a great body shop.

Last night was the first just regular night we have had in what seems like forever. I took Issa to dance, came home to make and eat a family dinner, and then the kids sat down to play Go Fish with Daddy until bed. It's those moments I love most. The moments where I stand at the kitchen sink and just see them being. Evan is quite the card shark, and I love watching his whole face light up when his plans fall into place. He also has this awesome belly laugh that's loud and half maniacal and always cracks us all up. It's that laugh that makes everything seem so perfectly right, and I love that it's the simple things that bring it out.

Monday, January 26, 2015

So Very Proud

This weekend was the official kick-off for competition season for Issa. The Company debuted all their dances at the Showcase, which is a lovely trial run of a competition. We will get the official feedback this week, but we couldn't be more proud of Issa:
 The Tinys were ready for Production:
 It was a great way to open the show, and they did so well all night. There were some hiccups, but Brad and I were both amazed by the growth in Issa. She looked like she was having fun up there, and she performed those dances.

My heart almost couldn't handle her solo, though:
She was so calm, but I was a wreck. I really thought I might vomit, and poor Brad had to keep loosening my hand from his knee. She rocked it. We know it wasn't perfect, but it is the best we ever saw her dance it, and she did more than the choreography. She performed. When I met her backstage afterwards, she literally jumped into my arms. She felt so good about her performance, and when we watched the video later, I was so proud of the way she critiqued and set new goals.

I couldn't be more proud of this girl. Now if I can just get my nerves to be as still as hers.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Little Things

So...this is a return to the mundane. After two hair stylists told me I was killing my hair by washing it everyday, I finally made the grown-up move to every other day. I know. This falls squarely in the category of who cares. But...there is a point. On the no wash days, I have all this extra time. I been getting up at the same time and using it to do a little extra housework or tackle a small project before school. I love starting the day with such a feeling of accomplishment. Sometimes, it really is the little things. And...my hair really does look better.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Half a Lifetime

Today marks the date when I have officially spent half of my life with the man I adore. On January 22, 1998, Brad asked me out and we've been together ever since.

I will be forever grateful for a certain friend who called us out after an afternoon of bowling. I believe the email started, "If you two wanted to go out on a date you could have just told me..." and went on from there. We thought she was ridiculous, and then we started thinking. Who would have know that five years later she would be standing with me at our wedding. Jamie, I will be forever grateful for your honesty and friendship. You started something magical.

I was 17 when we started dating, and I vividly remember being so annoyed by the situation. I had just decided to not date at all anymore until college and he royally messed up that plan. I remember talking to Mom about it and being reminded that just because we dated in high school didn't mean I was committing to a lifetime...

...but I did--we did. We dated long distance until we were married. The longest we had ever seen each other was ten days in a row--with his parents. Getting married at 22 was the best, stupidest thing we have ever done. It made no sense but it was absolutely right. We have grown up together in so many ways. All of the firsts--apartments, car purchases, being flat broke--we did that together. Between us, we have earned five degrees past high school together. We have seen each other receive awards, promotions, and children. We have seen each other with the flu, job loss, and trying to figure out who the hell we are now. We survived the earliest years of parenting when we were exhausted and clueless.  The one thing we have always known, though, is we belong to each other.

One of my students asked me when I knew Brad was the one I would marry. It seems like a complicated question, but it isn't. I decided my senior year in March. Two months in. I knew. I still know.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Showing the Love

Yesterday was a very exciting day around here. The kids had a day off of school, so Buddy made one of his drop-in visits. He left a note saying, "This home is full of love. Let's decorate to show it!" He had laid out the very few Valentine's Day decorations we have along with some new paper and ribbon to make some decorations. The kids hauled out some stickers left over from last year, and voila:
Evan was not so much interested in the actual crafting, but he made plenty of suggestions. Issa and I made this love bug garland, which she is very proud of. Each heart has a little bug on it. We also made all kinds of hearts to hang about. We are definitely showing the love around here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Our First Lady

We have a first lady in our midst:
video
Issa's class has been researching famous people for a month. She chose Michelle Obama, and we have heard all about her until she became her on Friday in the class wax museum. This was her first real research project and her first real presentation. We couldn't be more proud!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Thursdays

Thursdays are brutal. I teach at night, which means it's a very long work day. It's also the end of the week when the kids are starting to fade, Issa's longest dance night, and the night that homework just seems to be a bit harder. In short: a perfect storm.

I have an incredible sitter who covers when Brad is out of town, but she's not mom. I come home to happy children and a house that is not a mess but not right. Everything is just a little wonky. She finishes dinner while I get the kids in the shower, and then she heads out while they eat and we finish homework. It's a great system.

But Thursdays are still the bane of my existence. I end up trying to clean life, the universe, and everything after the kids are in bed a little later than usual, and then promptly collapse into bed.

I want to say it's okay. I don't mind. But I do. This whole idea of balance is just crap for moms. There is no such thing. It's more like juggling, and Thursdays are the days I just make sure nothing crashes. Today, though, I get to start fresh. The normal routine. And for that, I am grateful.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Practice

We had another two hour delay today, but everyone is back at school and work and attempting to pretend normal.

Since we had some extra time this morning, Issa decided to do her solo practice this morning. Here's what I love about this kid. She practices full out. Since Christmas, she has also decided to make a full practice--stretching and rehearsing--a daily effort. I'm all for it. The growth in both the skill and her comfort level has been incredible.

Here's the other side bonus: Evan is seeing it. He is seeing Issa work and improve, and last night, after some refining work in the dojo, I heard a horrible commotion upstairs. I went up to find Evan diligently practicing what he had learned that night because, "I don't want to forget, Mama." You knock yourself out, Buddy. Practice away.

Here's the truth: I don't care if the kids decide to change their "things" next year. I don't care if they are the best or the worst. All I care about is that they have something they love and that they learn how to work. I want them to know what practice can do, and I want them to feel that sense of accomplishment when the work pays off. They are starting to see that, and do that, and I will happily deal with any commotion that results from their practice.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ice Day

Well...we have an ice day today. We got just a trace of freezing rain last night, but the roads are supposed to be a mess until noon, so we are all snuggled in here.

Someday, my children will understand that no school means sleeping in. We knew we had a delay last night, so I turned off their alarms and set mine for 7:30. We were doing so well this morning. I rolled over at 6:30 to realize both kids were sound asleep. Bliss. Then the school called at 7 to say they were cancelled. Both kids heard the phone, made the connection, and bounded out of bed. Boo.

By 9, we had made ice waffles (which are just blue waffles) and done all of today's homework and chores. They are now happily playing together while I clean the kitchen and tackle a few of my own chores. We will still have ninjutsu and dance tonight, but we are looking forward to some snuggles and down time the rest of the day. No school also means we can go to an earlier class for Evan so I'm not running all over creation tonight. It's a good deal. Now if I can just teach them the beauty of sleeping in...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

To Infinity and Beyond

Each year, Aunt Carolyn gives the kids Toys R Us gift cards for Christmas. It is a highly anticipated event. There is much decision making to be done, and this year was a tough one. If the kids pooled their money, they could get Disney Infinity, a game for the XBox that uses figurines of Disney characters to play all sorts of games. At the last minute, Evan decided to use the bulk of his on something else, though, which bummed Issa out big time. Enter the best daddy ever, who covered the little bit extra figuring he would play, too. 

Issa was instantly in love. Evan was devastated once he saw it because he couldn't play because he pulled out of the deal. He had to earn enough money to buy a figure before he could play so the contribution would be equal. Because we are not completely evil, we also gave him a whole list of extra chores to do last week so he could earn the money. Our garage is now spotless and our fireplace clean. Evan worked his tail off to buy the Hulk this weekend, and now they both can play:
Those chairs keep scooting closer, but here is what I love about this game. They are spending all of their time in the Toy Box section. They are building whole worlds and working together to accomplish goals. Issa is figuring out how many coins they need to build what they want and then figuring out how many fire hydrants need to be placed and smashed by Hulk to earn those coins. Evan happily smashes. It's creative and collaborative and yet they feel so grown up because they get to play a video game.

And this picture amuses me greatly because she is so her father's girl. When Brad plays a game, he always ends up standing, and now she is carrying on the tradition.

Monday, January 12, 2015

And So It Officially Begins

And so dance season officially begins:
We had dress rehearsals on Friday and Saturday, which is the beginning of the official season. They went really well, and I can't believe the growth I've seen in Issa over the past year. I also can't believe how much more together I feel. I know our systems. Issa and I have code words for when things start to get a little crazy. Eye liner no longer requires screaming or tears--hers or mine. We've got this.

In two weeks, she'll have her first performance, and then next month we start competitions. I can't wait to see what the season holds, and I'm so grateful I get to go on this adventure with my favorite dancer in the whole wide world.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Guacamole Belt!

And just like that we have a guacamole belt:
Evan was one excited ninja, but he was one ninja that was not in the mood for a picture. Enter Mr. Justin, the best ninja teacher ever, who scooped him up for a ninjas are number one fun picture. Oh how I love this boy and his dojo.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, New Organization

I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions. I try to just make adjustments as the need arises throughout the year, and I don't find anything magically motivating about January 1. I also don't do spring cleaning. Spring is a special kind of chaotic around here, and deep cleaning just isn't going to happen.

But...I do believe in New Year's reorganizing. Every year, we gut the kids' room and playrooms. I clean drawers and bookshelves. New gifts inspire a purge of things we no longer need or use. This year, we took ten bags to Goodwill and six bags to the trash. We filled our recycling bin with more boxes waiting for it to be emptied. The kids transitioned into bigger kid rooms that are now more functional for them, and I set up systems that make my every day a little easier. But there is one new tool that makes my heart especially happy:
This $3 shoe organizer is priceless. It now hangs on the back of Issa's door holding all of her dance gear: tights, booty shorts, sports bras, knee socks, tanks, odd accessories. There will be no more digging and gnashing of teeth to find pink tights. There will be no more piles on the floor because she couldn't find her zebra shorts. Do you hear the angels singing? I know I do.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Very Merry Christmas!

And I'm back! We had a fabulous two weeks in Ohio celebrating Christmas and New Year's. We came home Friday, and spent the weekend doing a major reorganization and settling back in. Yesterday, I finished that little project, and now I'm finally ready to settle back into a routine, starting with returning to this little blog.

Our time in Ohio was a lovely blend of celebrating and just being. I left my camera in NC (oops), but thankfully Aunt Shannon captured some photographic memories.

The time before Christmas was spent doing all the traditional pre-Christmas festivities. There was much decorating, which was quite hysterical. The kids loved helping, and I laughed until I cried as Nana and Aunt Shannon decided which decorations needed a little tweaking. I've never seen snowmen rearranged so many times.

We also did our share of baking:
Which of course included some particularly special sprinkle decor:
I really can't explain Evan's crazy face.

My favorite moments, though, were the simple times of just being. Evan played cowboy:
There were indoor snowball fights, art projects, four-wheel riding, and story-telling:
In short, it was a week of memories.

The official Christmas festivities began with a trip to see Granddaddy:
Only Shannon could convince him to take a picture!

Christmas Eve was spent with a warm fire and lots of love. My favorite sister:
The world's best uncle who snuggled Issa as she wrote the letter for Santa:
Two very excited kiddos woke at 4:15 to discover Santa had visited. Daddy tucked them right back in until a slightly more humane hour:
Evan was so certain Santa had brought the Bob (a martial arts training Dummy) he asked for he actually started sparring the box:

Thankfully it was a Bob, along with throwing stars and a training sword. Issa received Issabelle, the American Girl Doll, and all her accessories. There was much dancing and fighting. Santa also brought some of the coolest winter gear in history:

Once packages were opened at Nana's, we headed across the street where these cuties continued the Christmas PJ tradition:

Art supplies, toy cars, and a fire station set soon were scattered about, and we all marveled again at how well these kiddos play considering how rarely they see each other. There truly is something special about cousins.

I even persuaded my family to pause for my annual Christmas photo:
 After lunch, we settled in for another day and a half in Napoleon to just be, which involved a lot of poor Bob getting beat up:
From Napoleon, we headed to Tiffin to see Grandpa Kevin, Grandma Pat, and the cousins:
I'm still not sure how these kids keep growing.

While we were there, we ate some great seafood for Grandma Pat's birthday and enjoyed the chaos of five dogs running about. It was fun to watch Neela play with other younger pups. The funniest bit was the way she would start a tussle and then yip so Viv would wade in and end it. Never a dull moment with our crew.

We ended our trip in Upper with Papa Don and Grandma Nancy. We went to look at Christmas lights, played board games, and enjoyed a quiet New Year's. For the first time the kids made it to watch the ball fall, and they were hysterical. Apparently, it was a bit anticlimactic for my two. It dropped, and they were silent. "That's it?" It didn't do anything. It didn't bounce. Voila. 2015. Too funny.

The best part of our time in Upper, though, was our visit to the Historical Society's Museum. Papa is the president right now, and he was able to give us the behind the scenes tour. For such a tiny town, it has a very impressive collection, and the kids loved seeing the Wyandot Indian artifacts, military uniforms throughout history, hair wreaths, and antique dolls. The one room school house was also a huge hit, especially when Papa gave them each their very own slate. For our two young historians, it was so fun. They spent a lot of time comparing what they saw to our visits out West, and I love seeing history come to life in their little minds.

In short, it was lovely. I am always so grateful for the longer stretch of time we have at Christmas. The memories are lovely, and now we're all settled in for 2015 and all that it will hold.