Friday, November 28, 2008

Calling all parents of young children...

I am in the process of advising Santa on some things my children would like, and find myself attracted to the same things that I advised last year.

What are your kids "tried and true" toys? You know, the ones that have stood the test of time, let their imaginations run wild, lasted year after year? Give me some ideas, please! Write me a comment with any "hits" or "misses" you have!

To reciprocate, here are my recommendations:
  • A play kitchen (any brand will do - ours happens to be Little Tikes)
  • Loving Family Doll House (I love this doll house - you can purchase the people of different ages and ethnicities, which we did)
  • Tinkertoys (had 'em as a kid - and now Ethan and Abby absolutely love them!)
  • Legos (another classic)
  • All things "dress-up"
  • Geotrax Train System (we have lots of add-on, so our tracks can be really big!)
Things I thought would be great, but were flops:
  • Wooden Unit Blocks (I imagined my children creating huge playscapes with them, but they are not interesting to them. Better [and cheaper] choice - simple Legos)
  • Stuffed animals (my kids barely play with them)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gettin' Flaky


Yesterday was the first real snow of the season. Abby, Ethan and I went out in the great packing snow and made snowmen. Abby made her entire snowman herself, while Ethan's was a collective work of art.

Changes of season are always such a cleansing time...

Wintertime,
it's skates and sleds and featherbeds,
it's wintertime, Snow is all around.
Frosty nose and ears a throbbin'

then one day, "hey look! a robin!"
pulls a worm out of the ground.
Mother earth's about to change her gown...
[Tom Chapin, "Mother Earth's Routine"]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Summertime

Tonight, an unplanned purchase at Target resulted in a great time in the yard with the kids next door.

I love summer.
Abby, the daredevil (this girl LOVES rollercoasters)

"Baby Tayla" (poor girl will never outgrow that with me - I've called her that since birth, and she'll be two in a couple of months)
Gracey was scared, but insisted on going like the bigger kids.

Ethan slid off the "raft" most of the time, but loved slipping and sliding!

My full grown kid, in his clothes.
I love this man.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

No time, no time

Time - I have none.

But I have just enough time to post this hilarious video I put together of my niece Courtney. I gave it to her as a bonus to her graduation video at her open house yesterday. And, yes, she took all of these pictures herself (as all of her friends do as well).

Try not to pee your pants.

video

Friday, May 23, 2008

10 Years Ago Right Now

I was eating (or rather, not eating) at my wedding reception. I sat between Mark and Rob, Mark sat between me and Jennifer. When people would clink their glasses (mostly, my nieces and nephews), we would kiss in a silly way. One time, we turned to Rob and Jennifer and kissed them instead!

I had the best day on May 23rd, 1998. I was relaxed, and content. I knew I was making the right choice. :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We are back from a week away in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with our dear friends Jennifer, Danny, Emma and Allison. The views were beautiful, the weather iffy, the number of things to do overwhelming, the company wonderful.

I will post later with the details of our trip, but for now, a humorous conversation with Ethan and Allison about superheros. [The best line is when Allison is going to be a "buffalote" (a.k.a buffalo).]

[You'll have to pardon my raspy voice - I lost it while on vacation]
video

Friday, April 18, 2008

6 Random Things About Me

I was tagged by my best bud Jennifer to write a post about 6 random things about me. Here goes!

1. I am the happiest and most confident that I have been in my life right now. I have a great support group of friends. I have two kids that crack me up each and every day. I have a husband that goes above and beyond in everything. I am loving my 30's!

2. When I was in elementary school, in a brief effort to be environmentally conscious, I convinced my best friend Amy to wander around the neighborhood with me, collecting trash. She thought I was nuts.

3. Organizing something makes me giddy. I just recently cleaned out the cupboards under the kitchen sink, and I look inside whenever I need a little pick-me-up.

4. I have a short torso and long legs. I just recently realized that this is why pants that rise to the waist always look ridiculous on me. Thank goodness low-rise is in style!

5. When I was in middle school, I wanted to be different (funny, because everyone else wanted to be the same). I wore my dad's button down dress shirts and ties to school my whole 7th grade year. It actually started a little bit of a trend among a few of my friends.

6. I take a bath every night. Winter, summer, doesn't matter. It's my relaxation time. I have done this since I was about 15.

So... tell us 6 things about yourselves:

Jenny

Tracy

Gwen

Big Binder

Andi

Lynn

Rules:

  • Link to the person who tagged you.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • Write six random things about yourself.
  • Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
  • Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
  • Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Have fun.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

We might need a little more religious education

[Me]: Abby... who loves you?
[Abby]: Mommy loves me
[Me]: And who else?
[Abby]: Daddy
[Me]: Who else?
[Abby]: Ethan
[Me]: And who loves you the most of anyone in the whole world, ever??
[Abby, after careful thought]: Santa?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lovin' the Cousins

Friday night, we invited Lana and David over for a sleepover. Abby and Lana are 4, Ethan is almost 4, and David is almost 3. The kids had a GREAT time together, playing Polly Pocket, making their own "books" out of coloring pages, playing Superman, watching Underdog, chasing each other like crazy kids. The girls got to sleep in Abby's room, and the boys got to sleep in Ethan's room. The boys fell asleep after 30 minutes, but the girls had to be seperated after an hour of whisper-giggles. It made Mark and I smile to see the cousins enjoying each other so much.

I had a mini photo shoot just before the cousins had to go home so everyone could have naps on Saturday.

Mark was tickling them for this one :)

"Show me your silly faces"

"Show me your surprised faces"

"Show me your angry faces"

"Show me your sweet faces"

"Show me your sleeping faces"

"Show me how you love your cousins"

Reason #427 Why Mark is the Best Dad

While I was away scrapbooking last weekend, Mark and the kids made projects out of an old box.
Mark is so much fun!


Abby's "Pony Sled"

Ethan's Buzz Lightyear Wings

And, of course, you need to take your sled down the slide at the playground!

And the Wings need a test-drive on the swings.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

And let the talking begin

Ethan has a bad cold. Runny nose, coughing his guts out, draining ear (thank goodness there is one tube still in his ear).

Today, Mark brought Abby to school while Ethan and I chilled at home. Watched TV. Lounged. Ethan was completely silent ... until the cough medicine kicked in. And then he began a 30 minute monologue, that included this little tidbit.

[Ethan: Gazing at his Superhero underwear] "Mom, my favorite color is green. I really like to be Spiderman, but I want to be the green guy instead. What's his name?"
[Mom]: The Incredible Hulk
[Ethan]: The Credible Hawk?
[Mom]: The INcredible HULK.
[Ethan]: Incredible Hawk. I will be 'Credible Hawk and you can be Spiderman.
[Ethan]: I am wearing a Spiderman shirt, and you are wearing a green shirt! Oh no, Mom!
[Mom]: Let's pretend we're wearing each other's shirts. Good idea, huh?
[Ethan]: But your shirt has sparkles. 'Credible Hawk doesn't have sparkles. You can pretend you're wearing my shirt, and I'll pretend I'm wearing a green suit. That's a better idea.
[Ethan]: Credible Hawk is really cool, Mom. I'm really cool too.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

An Update on the "T" of Team MEAT

Here I am in October. I basically look the same now.
I lost 30 pounds, and kept it off!


  • I (Trista) had a big resolution for 2008. To save money. So far, using a service that tracks local area grocery store sales and combines them with weekly coupons, I have saved almost 40% off my groceries since the beginning of the year. And the percentage is going up each week! Also, my neighbor (Kool Neighbor Kim) and I started a cooking club with 6 moms, where we each cook six batches of a meal once a month and swap them. This has saved us from eating out (the biggest discretionary hit to our budget). I've also been cooking on my own a lot, and have actually been enjoying it! Who would have thought I had a domestic bone in my body. ;)
  • About 6 weeks ago, I started to realize that I was experiencing a lot of unexplained anxiety. I would have all of the physical symptoms of anxiety, that would be triggered by the most minor things. I often felt like someone was sitting on my chest, and I couldn't breathe. My mood has been generally negative and I alternate from wanting to cry to wanting to scream. After a few weeks, where the symptoms weren't going away or getting better, I began to recognize that I was probably experiencing a chemical imbalance. I saw my doctor, and we decided to try Zoloft. Zoloft made me nauseous all day long. Today, I am switching to Citalopram (aka Celexa). I should see an improvement in mood after 2 weeks. Here's to hoping! Anxiety has been very draining on me (and my family), and I have been functioning at about 30% of normal. It will be nice to be "me" again!
  • I recently found out that there may be an opening next year for a teachers' aide position at the kids' preschool. I have been thinking for several months now that my ideal job once the kids are in school would be an aide. I love working in the classroom with the kids (I've been volunteering quite a bit), I don't need to work for a lot of money (preschool teachers are ridiculously underpaid), I don't want a job with a lot of responsibility at this stage in my life, and I want to work part time while the kids are in school. Sounds like the perfect fit to me! I contacted the director, who is very interested, and we'll be meeting soon to talk about it. I am praying that this might be the direction God is pointing me toward. I would prefer to start working after Ethan is in kindergarten (in two years), but would not mind starting early if the job becomes available. Send a little prayer up for me.
  • I am starting to plan our two major vacations this year. The first is in May --- we are going on a joint vacation with Jennifer, Danny, Emma and Allison to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It will be a nice week away from our regular lives, and we are renting a beautiful chalet complete with kitchen, living room and HOT TUB right in the unit. Sounds like heaven to me!
  • The second vacation is to celebrate Mark's and my tenth wedding anniversary (which will be May 23rd). I can't believe it will be 10 years already!! We thought it would be fun to share our vacation with Mark's parents, who will be celebrating 35 years in May. So the four of us are heading to Seattle in August for a week of sight seeing, in a city that Mark and I have always been interested in visiting. It will be so much fun! And it will also be the longest we've been away from the kids at one time... a little daunting for me. But they will be under excellent care here, primarily their cousin Courtney. It's so great to have loving family to count on!!
  • Kool Neighbor Kim and I are taking a pilates/yoga class. It made me realize just how out of shape I really am. Our instructor seems nice enough, but by the end she turns into the Pilates Nazi, whipping us into shape. I am always really sore on Thursday mornings.

I think that's all there is to report for now. I'll try not to let 3 months slip by before posting again. :)

An Update on the "E" of Team MEAT

"Ahoy, Matey!"
  • Ethan will turn four at the end of May (gasp!)
  • When Ethan turned 3-1/2, he suddenly became more defiant. Like a lightswitch was flipped. He's growing out of it a little bit, but it is just so strange to see him acting up in ways he didn't previously. He's becoming his own little man.
  • Ethan has stopped seeing things as uni-sex and now makes distinctions between "boy" things and "girl" things. Sigh. He doesn't love the color pink anymore, and that makes me a little sad.
  • Ethan's birthmom is expecting another baby in the fall. They are placing the baby for adoption with a couple who doesn't have any children yet. Mark and I are still a little conflicted about whether it is good news or sad news that the baby won't be in our home.
  • Ethan is becoming very aware of his adoptee status and what that means. He likes to hear about how we met his birthfamily for the first time (while he was in his birthmom's tummy) and how he came to live with us. He also likes to hear about Abby's adoption. [Abby has yet to talk about her adoption or ask questions.]
  • I predict that Ethan will be reading before kindergarten. He can already identify the starting letter of any word that he hears, and just yesterday tried to spell our last name phonetically using the refrigerator letters. He loves words.
  • Ethan will be taking a sports sampler class this spring, and he can hardly wait. He asks every day "how many more days until I can play kickball, and t-ball, and soccer, and basketball and hockey??" He imagines he's going to have a team jersey with a number on the back. I think he may be a little disappointed. ;)
  • Even though Ethy is "all-boy" right now, he still loves to hug his Mom. Yippee!

An Update on the "A" of Team MEAT

Stringing Beads

  • Abby is 4-1/2. She will be 5 in August.
  • Abby takes a ballet/tap class one hour a week, for 4 & 5 year olds. She has been loving the class, and has learned a lot of different dance steps. She will be part of a recital at the end of May - I can't believe I have a child old enough to be in a recital already!!
  • Abby has always had ups and down in her behavior. She is a spirited child. She does things that she wants to do, when she wants to do them. This is a difficult fit for a school environment. Or a church environment. Or a home environment (sometimes-- we can definitely be more accomodating and forgiving). November, December and January were very good months, behavior-wise, on the "Abby Scale" (which differs greatly from most other kids). February and this part of March have not been good, especially this past week. She "stole" four things from school/church/other kids over the past two weeks. She hasn't been obeying her teachers at school. And yesterday, she went over to the craft center in her classroom and cut off a few handfuls of her hair. She has also been sleeping a lot (3+ hour naps!), which usually indicates a growth spurt. And bad behavior is always part of a growth spurt. I just hope this one is quick.
  • Abby can write all of her letters now, upper and lower case. She is still working on numbers (there is no interest in them at this point, so learning is slower). She is very good at cutting with scissors, and she can draw well when she is interested. Otherwise, just big scribbles.
  • Our current plan is to put Abby into kindergarten in the fall, vs. Young Fives. Her preschool teachers and Mark and I feel that Abby is more than capable to handle the workload of Kindergarten. She is very bright, and when she is interested in something or is paying enough attention, she easily picks it up. She struggles with focus, especially when the classroom is buzzing with activity. Mark and I don't feel that holding her back from kindergarten for a year will change much for Abby, other than another year of maturity. She may always struggle with focus. We need to find a way for her to be able to focus herself when need be.
  • Abby has really blossomed socially in the past 6 months. She has lots of friends at school. She is the social butterfly at any public children's place that we go. She is really enjoying playing with kids her own age now, and doesn't spend her time shadowing The Slightly Older Girl (TSOG).
  • Abby's favorite things in the world are beautiful or fragile treasures. She has a large crystal that she received from Gammers and Grampa that is her most prized possession right now (her "magic jewel").
  • Abby loves to feel like she is older and has responsibility.

An Update on the "M" of Team MEAT

Sledding on New Year's Day with our friends Andre and Anna (we had a BLAST!)

Well, it has been a long while since an update, so here is a brief synopsis of what has been going on with our head-of-household, Mark (aka Marky Doodle).
  • Mark has been working wicked overtime lately. Huge deadline at work. That has been lingering well beyond the original deadline of 3 weeks ago. Lots of nights on the laptop until 10:00 or 11:00, when he falls into bed and wakes up the next day to be at work by 7:00. Supposedly, the real deadline is tomorrow. We shall see.
  • Mark turned 33 last month (happy birthday, Babe!) He had breakfast in bed prepared by the kids, along with cool pictures they drew for him. He bought himself a writing tablet for the computer (which he's been yearning for for a few years now). Now he can do his doodling on the computer as well as paper. :)
  • I recently found out that Mark does not share my love of artichokes. I was shocked. I told him that for him to keep such an important thing from me for all these years is an indicator of trouble in our marriage. ;) just kidding.
  • Mark shaved off his mustache before Christmas (I think?). Only 4 people have noticed since then. That cracks me up.
  • Not much else to say about Mark. With no free time, he hasn't had much going on. We're trying desperately to plan a vacation to an indoor waterpark, but can't come up with a date that will work for all four members of our family until April. When did we get so busy??