Sunday, October 31, 2010

Holy Pictures Batman! {Project Two Times Twelve (x2)} and then some...

Since it's the last day of the month, I guess I can no longer procrastinate uploading a boatload of pictures and dealing with blogger any longer.  In fact, if you didn't notice yet, I totally skipped P2X12 last month, but that was because I was too lazy/way too busy.  This month I don't want to deal with the craziness that is uploading a ton of pictures.  So, I waited until the last possible day hoping that, at some point, something would happen to make it easier.  

Well, it didn't.

And to add to the pain, I am not including our Halloween pictures from this year.  That still has to be done.  Somehow, Halloween this year went from a one night adventure to a FOUR DAY celebration.  I do not even know how we will face Monday.  I am sure, though, it will be ugly.

Very ugly.

Enough of that, here we go!

Here is Project Two Times Twelve for September.  Which may have been taken on October first.  Who is keeping track though, really?

In September, I went all out and did something crazy.  I let the kids jump on the our bed.  I know.  All kinds of wild.  For those that don't know, we don't let our children on our bed...ever.  I know, we are cruel and mean.   I have a weird thing about my sheets and pillows not containing cooties from anyone else except me.

And also The Hubs.

So! When I told the kids that they could jump on my bed IF they let me take pictures of them, well, they didn't know how to contain their joy.  Plus, I got to drag my studio lighting into another area other than my studio and play with using two different light sources.

It was not as easy as I thought it was going to be, friends.

Here they are:

First up The Girl:

Then both:

Love The Girl's face here:

The Little Man who I had to BEG to stop trying to flip backwards (see above photo):

I figured since the pure joy they were experiencing while jumping was giving me honest happy expressions, as opposed to forced smiles, I would try to borrow some of that joy and have some happy smiles in a more posed pic:

 No such luck.

These pictures were super fun to take, but were not easy.  There is so much that didn't even make it off of my camera, and to be honest, I don't know if these should have made it off the camera.  Off camera flash is something I would love to dabble in more, but I think I will have to do a lot more reading and practicing before I can say that I've done anything worthwhile...One day, one day!

This month, we went back outside for some fall color and costumes.  Every year I have a photo shoot with the kids in their costumes.  The last two years they have been indoors/studio style, so this year I wanted something outside.  Plus, we have had one of the most beautiful Fall season I can remember, and I didn't want to forget how wonderful it has been

Here are the kids as Ironman and a Queen:

I SO wanted this to be a silhouette, but the white collar, white pail, and street lamps all interfered with that.  So, this is the best I could do:

So tough and scary all at the same time!

 Nope! Never mind, he's still crazy and wild:

He's supposed to be guarding the queen here, but whatever:

The last two pics are not P2X12 at all.  They are from The Girl's last allergy appointment.  Each October she is seen by her allergist to test her peanut allergy as well as other allergies that she has (environmental mostly) to see if they have progressed/gotten any worse.  Sometimes a kid can grow out of a food allergy (10-15% do), and so for the first few years after a diagnosis they like to keep track of the allergy.  This was The Girl's fifth visit, and thankfully, it will be the last for a few years now.

Here's her back:

All of the writing are markers and numbers that tell the doctor what allergen has been applied and where.   As you can see she has some larger red welts in some areas and in others just a slight irritation or nothing at all except for a serum.   This year she still tested positive to the things that we already knew about peanuts, cats, weeds, and trees, however, this year we found out specifically that we are dealing with Cottonwoods, Ragweed, and Pig weed.  Guess what kinds of trees and weeds we are surrounded by.


So after they mark up her back, they use small poking type things (they aren't as sharp as needles, but do break the skin a little) that are dipped into the allergen.  Then they scratch the surface of the skin with the allergen going into the scratch.  After that, they wait twenty minutes to see the reaction.  There are also control scratches done for comparison.

If you have any allergies, this twenty minutes is excruciatingly long.  The welts raise up and itch and burn like mad, but you are not supposed to touch them, hence why they do it on your back.  During our last test, The Girl had a secondary reaction to the peanut protein that caused the doctors to need to treat her with some strong antihistamines (thankfully the epi pen was not needed) and monitor her for a while.  This year stared off similarly.  Shortly after the peanut protein was scratched onto her back, she became very uncomfortable.  Then the tears came.  Followed by some strong agitation that reminded me of what she used to do when she was little and was about to throw a major temper tantrum.

 Here's a pic of the peanut welt (keep in mind the amount of peanut protein that is placed on her back is very small,  about the size of the tip of a ball point pin):

So, I tried my best to comfort her and convince her that I still loved her even though I was allowing this to happen.  I also prayed over her out loud.  This proved (as it always does) to be the most effective in calming her little body down.  I prayed that The Lord would protect her while we waited, and that he would calm her and give her a peace that goes beyond all understanding.   That she would feel God's arms wrap around her and hold her close.  I also prayed that if there was any way at all that the pain and itching could stop, that He our powerful God who is in control of all things, would instantly make it stop.

Wouldn't you know, at that very moment our doctor came in.  She took one look at the size and severity of the welt and decided right then and there to stop the testing with the peanut protein.  She immediately wiped the area clean with a special cleanser that gives instant relief.

That's the kind of Father we have.  What troubles you, troubles Him.   He is one that knows our pain and answer prayers.  In an instant.  Nothing is too big or too small.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It Was a Fall Festival Type Weekend

Since it's Wednesday, I thought it would be perfect to talk about last Saturday.

I still cannot figure out where time goes....

We started off our Saturday at the neighborhood Fall Festival.  I know it sounds cheesy, and for the most part it is, but here's the deal: everything there is FREE.  A free pumpkin for each kid, free bounce houses, free face paining, and free food.  So, after going to two other "Fall Type Events" which cost an arm and a leg (seriously, one place was charging $10 a person just to get in.  You still had to pay for everything you wanted to do while there.  That might sound like I am being a cheap mom, but something about paying close to $80 for a couple of hours of mediocre (at best) fun made me want to scream.  I can think of approximately 103 different things I would like to spend $80 on) I was all over the "free".   Plus, I knew we were going to go to a corn maze later and that they would also be offering face painting and bounce houses for a fee, and if we already had our faces painted and were all bounced out, well then, we could pocket the difference.

Don't get jealous because for ONCE in my life I actually planned ahead.

So back at the neighborhood festival, there we were, standing in line for ONE HOUR to get our faces painted.  By the end of our wait, I was chanting over and over, "It's free, It's free!"  Praise the Lord, He blessed us with wonderful weather, so waiting wasn't too difficult.  Also, The Hubs took the kids to the bounce house while I waited in line so it was like killing two birds with one stone.

Oh, and he also went home to drop off our FREE pumpkins, and hit up a Starbucks.

All while I stood in line.

But we FINALLY made it!  Here is The Girl telling her Face Artist what she would like:

The Little Man getting right down to business in looking down right scary:

Getting nitty gritty with the details:

The Girl was done pretty quickly, as she took on the less is more approach when she chose her face decor:

True to The Little Man's personality, he wanted it all and the kitchen sink.  So, his face was much more detailed:

All done!  Can you see what he did here? He wanted to match the mummy on his shirt.

After loading up at the "Free Festival" we filled ourselves with a not-so-free lunch and then hit up the corn maze:

(The Hubs might kill me for posting this pic.  He's not fond of pictures where he is shot from behind...)

We were greeted by these Clydesdale horses when we entered the maze area.  They were pulling the cart for the hayride.  Thankfully, The Little Man didn't want anything to do with the horses so we were able to skip this not-so-free addition.

The Girl loves animals of all kinds.  Here she is getting up close and personal.   I think it is safe to look a horse right in the eye, right?

Getting ready to head into the maze:

The rules here are very serious:

Their appreciation for the correct time, however, is not.  After I clicked this shot, I about had a heart attack because we were supposed to be somewhere else by 5:00.  We decided it would be more accurate to track our time through the maze with our own watches:

Which way do we go?

The Little Man was not a slow leader. I had to put the fear of being lost forever in the maze with no food or water or treats into him in order for him to get the seriousness of him running off without us:

Just so you can see how tall the corn was (The Hubs is 6'1"):

Ah!  We finally made it out! 

For reference sake, it took us about 20 minutes.  I felt like that was pretty good time since the brochure said to expect an hour.  Then we realized that we totally neglected more than half of the maze.  Oh well, we were tired from our efforts anyway, and since the weather was so nice, instead of cozy-ing up to a cup of hot cocoa or cider, we thought it would be very "Fall Like" to dive right into some snow cones:

I have to say, I too partook in the snow cones, and they were by far the most delicious I have ever had.  Not icy at all.  They were soft and snowy and full of sugary flavor.

See!  Here's proof that I was actually there (you know, besides the fact that I was the one taking all the pictures)

In case you didn't get the memo, last Saturday was puffy black vest day.

It's so fun to be twinkies with your sis!

Friday, October 22, 2010

It Was the Last Day of Fall Break

Here's what I loved about today:

1. We had no where to be and nothing to get done...except for what we wanted.
2. Allowing the kids a little extra time in front of the tube while I sipped tea and spent time in the Word.
3.  Picking up a craft on the way home from an appointment (made at the last minute and because we felt like it)to keep us busy.
4.  Enjoying the kids spending an hour on something I only spent $3 on.
5. Giving up on planting bulbs, and deciding baking would be much more fun.
6. Spending close to an hour picking out just the right Fall type recipe while The Girl wrote down all of our options each with a "yes" or "no" check box next to it.
7. Making an impromptu trip to Super T to pick up needed ingredients.
8.  Deciding to hold off on the Fall recipe because a trip to Red Robin was necessary fuel for the night ahead.
9. Picking up Karate Kid on the way home from Red Robin.
10. Trying to make a cake from scratch.
11.  Watching my kids watch Karate Kid and loving every second of The Little Man trying out his best Kung Fu moves while watching the movie.
12. Knowing that the movie was a hit based off of the dance routine The Little Man performed for everyone while the credits rolled.
13. Despite my sad attempt at making a cake from scratch, finally pulling it out of the oven and tasting that it turned out way better than I expected. 
14. Trying to convince The Hubs that because the cake turned out good, I now need a Kitchen Aid.
15.Going to bed with my heart warm, and kitchen filled with the smell of sweet Old Fashioned Pound Cake.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just Us

Is it bad that all this global warming stuff is making me so happy?  Seriously, this week has been GORGEOUS.  I can handle this kind of weather for a few more weeks, ok maybe even months, well alright, let's do this until June.  Clear bright blue skies, bright sunshine, trees of all shades and colors, temps in the low 70's.  This is the type of Fall a girl could love.  Oh, and to top it all off, we are all on Fall Break!  I know I don't need to tell you how happy that makes me.  Fall Break is more for me than it is for the kids.  No lunches, no homework, no snacks and water bottles, no bed times, and no real important schedules to keep.  All good things.

Today we enjoyed a small amount of time visiting a local museum.  Usually, I try to plan for these types of outings with friends or family.  I guess I feel like that makes everything so much more special.  And it does.  Today, however, we had a last minute cancellation.  The Little Man was suppose to have a friend and his mommy join us. 

His mommy went into labor instead. 

I thought that was a good reason to back out of a day at the museum.

So, instead of bailing out on our plans, I took the kids anyway.  And it was just us.

It was wonderful.

I forgot what it was like to go to a museum and have them all to myself.  No friends to have to share with.  No other grown-ups to try to catch up with.  Just us.  Hanging out.  Doing things.  Learning things. Chatting. Having a good time.  I am particularly thankful for a moment in time, right there in the museum, that God stopped me right in my tracks and let me really soak in the moment. 

It is an awesome feeling to be able to stop and say to yourself, "Wow, we are really having a good time!" It's a little different than saying, "Yes, we had a good time today." or "Remember that day? It was a good time."  No, the first statement notices what is going on right in the moment.  The first statement shows that the person stopped and took notice right as it was happening and then lingered.  Maybe even took in a deeper breath and then purposely took in the surroundings, feelings, smells, and emotions so they could be tucked away in their memory for later.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program...Hopefully...

I am missing this place.  This place where I remember and record the everyday.  This place where I change my perspective on the often times mundane little details of my life as a mommy, and make them special.   This place where it's mostly about them, and only sometimes about me. 

I don't know if I have shared this before, but each year I turn this blog into a bound book as a gift to not only myself (hopefully, my children will read it one day), but also my mom and mother-in-law.  This past weekend, while spending time at my mom's house, I had some time to sit back and read my own blog.  As I perused through the first year my blog was around, I was taken back by all the details I took time to write down.  I think I hardly missed a day! While it may not have been overly exciting information to the rest of the world, I loved reliving those days I can't hardly even remember now.  I totally forgot about all The Little Man's little antics while he potty trained.  I forgot how I thought we would be in Potty Training World forever (although, admittedly, sometimes I think we visit a neighborhood fairly close by).  There were also many cute one-liners The Girl threw around that I thought I would never forget.  Guess what only three short years will do to you? 

I guess I could go on and on as I walk down memory lane with you all, the point being: I miss this place, I miss recording our lives more regularly, I miss making this a priority, and in the meantime, I am missing out on a future opportunities to sit back and recollect what my grandmother calls "The Golden Years".

Here's the kicker: I wish that this meant I would be promising to be here more.  However, I know that I would probably break that promise.  I am going to say that I am going to TRY to be here more.  I can't say that the quality will be all that great, not that it has up to this point anyway, but I do want to get down the details.  The small things I think I will remember, but don't.  If it's well written, well that will be the icing on the cake.  Otherwise, I will be fine with just merely record keeping.

With that, here's my favorite quote from this weekend taken from The Little Man after his daddy helped him in the shower.  We have been working on teaching him how to shower  by himself lately.  I can hardly wait for the day when I can say, "Son, go hop in the shower, " and he does.  And he comes out clean.  And I can trust that he got all the soap rinsed out of all the parts where soap shouldn't stay.  After he and his daddy finished up in the shower, The Little Man was in for some bonus lessons:

p: Mommy!  Guess what! 
me: What, buddy?
p: Daddy was teaching me how to take a shower!
me: I know bud.  Are you getting any better?
p: Yup!  I got so good that when I got done Daddy gave me some lotion lessons too!

Clean and moisturized.  Just the way I like 'em.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

From The Backseat

Here are a few quotes coming from the backseat in the last week or so...

P: Sister
D: (Not responding.)
P: Sister!
D: (Continues to ignore her brother.)
me: Sister! Please answer your brother.  He's called out for you a few times now.
P: Sister!
D: Yes, Bro.  What do you want?
P: Ummmm....Well...I forgot now.  You took too long to answer me.
D: Oh, I know what you should do.
P: What?
D: You need to try uploading it again.

On a very cold and rainy day The Little Man and I were driving to school.  As we approached a construction zone and a red light, we had this small conversation:

P: Oh great!  The workers are out today!
me: Well, I don't know if they'll be out today, buddy.  It's super cold and wet.  (My mind is on the logistics of the situation.  Wet a ground equals concrete that can't dry and big muddy sink holes.)
Just then  some workers pulled up in a truck and got out of the vehicle.
P: Yes, mommy, they're going to have to work today.
me: Oh! Yup, I guess you are right.
P: Oh phew!  They can work!  Look, they have hoods and earmuffs! (Clearly, his mind was on the fact that the weather conditions might make it uncomfortable for work to take place, forget the logistics.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is It Even Possible to Use One More Set of "Quotation Marks"?

As mentioned a few times now, The Fam all headed to the hills a few weeks back. It was our way of taking advantage of a random three day weekend as well as trying to soak in some mountain-y fall colors.  Plus, we also get to spend time with some of our most favorite peeps while they graciously open up their "Cabin" to us.  (There is a debate out there as to whether or not their "Cabin" can be called a cabin.  Some argue that it is too much like a house to be called a "Cabin" while others state that because it is in the mountains, it is by default a "Cabin".  I call it a "Cabin" because that is what the owners call it, and I want to be invited back as much as they can possibly stand me.)

So there we were, at the "Cabin" enjoying some lovely mountain fall goodness.  We enjoyed all sorts of fun mountain type things.  I should say, my idea of "mountain fun" and other people's ideas of "mountain fun" could be quite different.  I enjoy: eating all things made homemade, getting cozy by the indoor stove (yes, it has a real fire in it), playing card/board/domino type games, talking, not having cell service, spending time with one another uninterrupted, an enormous amount of time reading, an occasional hike, and a mountain run.  Mostly, I really enjoy coming home and feeling like I had a chance to re-charge my batteries.  Since I came home feeling totally re-charged, I would give this little mini-trip of ours an "A". 

There was this one little adventure, though.

One of the afternoons we were just soaking in some incredible mountain weather, reading magazines lazily outside in the fresh mountain air, The Hubs and his brother decided it would be a great time to head on out for a "hike".  So, reluctantly, I packed away the Fall issue of BHG (which has some amazing stuff in it, by the way), and packed up the kids.  I only say reluctantly because the way they were describing this "hike" was leading me to believe that they may be leaving some parts and pieces out.


I did want to go on a hike, though, and be apart of what the whole group was doing.  I was just a little hesitant.

We took a little four wheel trail out to the place we were going to "hike".  The kids  all followed us on four wheelers (yes, I have let my children both ride in the bed of a truck with no restraints and let them ride on the back of a four wheeler all within a two month period), while the adults enjoyed the safety comfort of the car.  Once we arrived, and I had a chance to survey the scene a little, I thought to myself I had been ridiculous to be so hesitant about the "hike".  It all looked very harmless.  Everyone unloaded from the car/four wheelers and up the mountain we went.

It all started out fine and dandy.  There was a trail, and we walked on it.  Sweet.  Then things changed a little.  It seemed like the "trail" was getting to be less and less "trail-like" and more and more like we were breaking our own trail.  Then, it had become clear that we were not on a trail at all.  Why?  Well, because there were big boulders in front of us.  There was no cute little trail that led anyone around and through the boulders, nor any of those really cute little "nature made" stairs that aided us in hiking up this mountain.  No, instead we were going to switch from hiking mode, to rock climbing mode.

With no ropes.

And my children who are seven and five.

And a mom who isn't necessarily afraid of heights, but more like doesn't enjoy watching other people (namely the ones she loves) walking around in really high, rocky places.

However, up we went!

I was hoping thought for sure one of the kids would not be able to make it any further, and I would have to sacrifice the joy of making it all the way to the top while I sat back with the scared child and consoled them(so sad).

Remember those rock climbing adventures we took the kids on?


Good choice, Mom.

So we made it to the top!  It was very pretty, and I am very happy that the kids had the satisfaction of doing and accomplishing something that was very challenging for them.  Once I reached the bottom again, I was very happy that we all did the climb together (including myself), and we all got to experience something fun as a family.  Mostly, I was happy we were all safe again. 

OK, here are the pics to go along with the case you don't believe me:
Here we are trucking along on a four wheel trail and up in front who do we have?

Oh! Two sweet little cousins enjoying a little four wheeler action:

Here is the rock/mountain we were going to climb:

Still having a grand ol' time.  Why? Because we still had a trail!

The Girl taking my breath away with how high up on those rocks she is getting:

The Kids at the top:

(If you are wondering why I didn't take another picture once I noticed that The Little Man had blinked, it's because I had to let go of my camera and hold onto the rock for dear life, and then make sure everyone else was doing the same thing.  There is no time for retakes when you are on top of a very tall mountain with no guard rails.)

And here is a pic of our cousin having fun doing some jumping in an area I deemed "safe enough" to monkey around in:

As you read this dramatic tale of our mountain hike, I do not want anyone to think that I did not appreciate the journey that I went upon.  No, I did have a good time and when it was all over I said many times "Boy!  That sure wasn't as bad as I expected it to be!"  Which again, sounds like I am ungrateful for the wonderful little journey.  Which I am not.  It's just that I was stretched a bit further than I thought I was going to be stretched that day.  Just like stretching your muscles, when you go a little too far, it hurts and it's not too fun, but once it's your done, you realize that it wasn't so bad, and you're glad you did it.

I don't even know if any of that makes sense to me, but I do know that I really had a great time on our weekend getaway "hike" and all.

Friday, October 1, 2010

At Least Something Grew

I know I said I would post about our weekend getaway next, but then I went out to our garden, and I have to share what was there.

We have had years past were we have had quite the bountiful harvest from our backyard garden.  I wouldn't claim that I have a green thumb by any stretch, but we have eaten food that was grown in our own backyard.  I simply bought seed, put it in the ground in straight rows, and watered.  To me it's amazing that anything happens at all, really.

After the past two summers, I would say, my gardening strategy may need a little refining.  Last year, I blamed it on our unusually cool and wet summer.  I mean, plants do need the sun in order to grow, right?  This summer, we have had great temps, lots of sunshine, plenty of rain (up until this past month at least), and we still came up  short.  We ate off of our bean plants only three times this year when it is typical for us to have to give them away we have so many.  We got exactly NO cucumbers, and I was SO looking forward to them. Our snap peas fed us twice, and we grew about six or seven zucchinis.  I can't even bring myself to talk about the tomatoes and the peppers.  You see, I have high expectations for those things.  I mean, I buy them already half way grown.  All I have to do is transfer them to the ground, and they do the rest.  Now that I have stopped watering the garden and basically given up on it this year, we have 3 small tomatoes and have collected seven peppers (considering how many pepper plants I have, this is really nothing).  I'm telling ya, I had thrown in the towel for the garden this year.

But then, THEN!  There were the carrots.  Whatever causes everything else to do horribly, apparently does great things for carrots.

Round One:

I had hopped outside to pick a few carrots for a pot roast I was making for dinner.  Yup!  Those did the trick.

Round two came yesterday when I thought a couple of carrot sticks would go great with the Turkey Joes I had made for dinner.

I think it's safe to say, we had enough for a few carrot sticks each.

Anyone have any carrot recipes they would like to pass along?