Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Break Charleston! With Two Kids of Course

Though my mom and I did have a discussion about the possibility of fresh real Mojitos (not mix) there will be no belligerent behavior on this trip. Unless you count my kids. And me. And my husband. And my mom, dad and sister. Well, okay there will be no flashing. Unless you count my son. and daughter who still like to streak. I am getting off track here.

We are headed to S.C. for a short break. Not really a vacation because that requires a week at least. We have a condo on a lake about 45 minutes out of Charleston. Hello Chaz! Here I come. Then the four of us are headed to a place about halfway in between Charleston and Myrtle Beach (one of my least favorite beaches. ever). We will be fishing, soaking up the mid seventies weather and taking lots fo pictures of course. Expect many many pictures to come. Until then (probably Monday after work) I say see you later blogosphere!

This time I will get my Shrimp n Grits. (No not shrimp AND grits. its "n")

PS... Oh how I have missed my suitcase! My big one still had some leftover 0-3 month clothing in it!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Grandma" I Am Not

Today has been a pretending kind of day. We have been off to the store, Ella with her baby in tow. She has taken her backpack to school where she had a riveting conversation with her teacher. Today I have been to countless other places all the while being directed to do this or say that by my girl. This three year old designated me as "Grandma" early on in the day, a role I did not object to as they rarely last long. Eight hours later I am tiring of being called "Grandma". I see now why when Ella was born my mother came up with a name she liked - other than Grandma. So today I have been here and there all within the comfortable confines of my home. It is just pretend after all. Pretend Grandma. I suppose I can handle it for a day but it is not my favorite role. I certainly prefer my usual role "Queen!"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Language at 13 Months

I am fascinated lately with Nate's language skills. He is at that funny age where he has few words but what he has, he does with flair. His first "word" was mama. I proudly and stubbornly declared this his first word. Ella's was "dada" of course. One of them would be forced to say Mama first. At 13 months I am still sure he thinks "mama" is the word for food.

Yea. Sweet. One of the downsides to breastfeeding. Four months later I am still the equivalent of food. I went through a teaching / reinforcing episode with Nate today. Ella was asleep and Daddy was at work so there was no one to laugh at me. It consisted of me holding his plate of food out to the side away from me and using my hand to cheerily emphasize "Mama" on my chest and "food" by his plate. "Mama" "Food" Mama" "Food". He laughed at me. It was as if to say "Crazy food, just give me my mama"

Word / Meaning:
Dada / Daddy & Darby (the dog) HAHA take that dad!
Mama / Food & occasionally if I hallucinate, Mommy
boon / Balloon
Ba Bye / Bye Bye
bey / Belly
baw baw / Ball (hes big into the b words)
uh ohh / A Favorite and usually means something like "I just threw all my food against the wall and MAN was that funny" or "I just tried to reprogram your computer but it didn't work and now you have no desktop". It has also been translated as "kiss my diapered bum bum!".

Once Upon an Easter Time

Once upon a time there was a town of people. These people walked backwards. They always walked backwards. They would bump into things and get boo boos, they would fall down over their toys, they would run into their friends on the playgrounds. They had always walked backwards. One day a man came to the town. This man was different. This man showed them that they could walk forwards. He told them that there was another way to walk. All they had to do was turn around and walk forwards.

A great exercise to do with your child is to have them practice walking backwards, slowly. Ask them questions after to see if they thought about while they were walking. Was it hard or easy? What did they bump into? Did they fall down? Then tell them the story above. A great analogy for small kids and big alike.

Good Easter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Typical Conversation In A Preschool Class

"Hey teacher, I want a sticker!"
"Hum lets see Jake, whats the magic word?"
With a dramatic stance and a flourish of the arms,

"Yes, well, the OTHER magic word, goofy."
"Oh, haha, Pleease"
"Thank you Jake."
he got me

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Heart Broke at Walmart

I had an experience the other night that I am still processing. It bothered me much more than my husband thought was rational. I will preface this with the fact that I am most likely PMSing. Still. I want to get some feedback.

I needed formula and diapers. Pretty much the only things I get from Walmart anymore. So while we were out we decided to hit wally world on the way home. Except we were on a different side of town. We usually go to another Walmart but there was one built recently that we go to sometimes. I lovingly call it Ghetto Walmart because it is sort of in the Ghetto. Not bad or dangerous, I thought, but a little more Ghetto than the suburban one close to us. Moving on.

Alex drops me off at the front so I don't have to tote the kids and I run in. I get my stuff and head to the line. As I get in line a woman begins yelling profanities at some woman who apparently just made her - umm not so happy. I occasionally let something slip that I didn't mean to. A "damn" is about as bad as I get now but I used to work in professional kitchens with all men. This woman even shocked me. Ghetto Walmart was earning it's name.

To make a long story short she was terrible. Threatening from about 15 aisles down ( I never actually saw this other woman on the receiving end) she was only holding back so "the law" wouldn't be called. Meanwhile I am thinking - "hey the law! Where the heck is the law?" No law to be found. Lots more bleep bleeping to be had. About 10 minutes worth. I am so glad that Ella is in the car and I am getting nervous when I heard her suggest just following her out to the car to take care of her (not in those words). She was nuts.

Why did my heart break though? The worst part. She had her two kids with her. A son about 10 and a daughter about 8. Old enough to have complete understanding of the words and implications. No child should hear those words, let alone understand the implications at that age. The kids were just trying to lay low obviously not surprised and staying out of her way. I felt like I needed to say something to her to help diffuse the situation. What do you say to an adult acting like that? People. This is a terrible example for your children. TERRIBLE. This was very obviously normal for her which broke my heart for her also.

I am so sheltered now. I used to get out with people. People who have problems coping. Kids who were "at risk". My heart was screaming to hug those kids and tell them they don't have to choose that. They can make the other choice. There is another choice!

I hated being there and completely ill equipped to handle the situation. I also looked for a cop because I was legitimately worried when she came outside behind me and was still looking for the lady. I lingered around a minute to make sure she was going. Why were there not cops at Ghetto Walmart that night? Do the check out registers not have a "Psycho" button because everyone was well aware she was out of control.

When I got in the car and told Alex I would not be taking the kids to that walmart again he asked what the heck happened. I was obviously shaken and still looking where in the lot they went. I pray someone will be inserted into the lives of those kids that shows them another option. It is an area with gang influence and I would not be surprised if the mom had some experience as she had that kind of reactive and hostile nature.

I cried and got angry. I was again feeling irrelevant, useless and like I am making no impact. Not to those kids. I still don't know what I could have done. It turned out okay. No one was hurt immediately but I can imagine the environment those two kids are in and I know the long term effects it can have.

Alex did not understand. He had a kind of male, mind your own business mindset at first. Then when I explained more of why I couldn't see that and mind my own business and NOT think about it he gave me that "I love you look". The genuine one. The one I give him when I don't understand why really, but that I love him because he is different than me.

I still don't know what I think and I got all upset again writing this. I guess I just hope no one sees something like this with kids and is complacent. We should not be desensitized to this. We should get upset because it does make a difference. I am frustrated by this.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Egg Hunt

We had a great time at church Sunday afternoon. We had an Easter party where the kids colored eggs and then had an egg hunt for little prizes. We followed it up with hot dogs. We had terrific weather and Ella was able to dress "fancy" in last year's Easter dress. Nate had fun eating the eggs and playing. Here are some pictures. Happy Spring guys.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Three Going on Eighty Three

Really guys. My brain is just dead. I kind of need a break. You know the days. Usually my mind can't slow down and my thoughts are running into other thoughts on their way about my head. They trip over each other and bounce off each other. My thoughts are much like excited little children getting ready to go to the playground. They just can't keep still for all the excitement. This is why I get all muddled usually. Just too much movement going on in the gray matter. Too many synapses firing off and banging into each other.

In the last few days my thoughts have been much more like a group of great-grandpas getting ready to go out to the playground. A bit, okay much slower. A bit more arthritic than their three year old counter-thoughts. They are a bit more forgetful as well. I have been needing to write things down a lot in the last few days. Thats alright. I am the muddled after all.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Saxapahaw Rivermill Follow Up

As a follow up to Wordless Wednesday with a Twist I wanted to post some of the other pictures I took that day around Saxapahaw. I also wanted to explain a little about where I live. It is an old milling community. The old cotton mill was used to dye cotton. Sadly for the environment the people down the river could always tell what color was being used because the river's water would run that color. The mill burned down some time ago. A couple of the pictures show the burnt out remains of the brick and steel frame that have not been renovated. The space was turned into an amazing conglomeration of small shops, lofts, apartments, and multipurpose space. It is a fantastic use of the old unused mill, something we have lots of in the south.

This is the partner to the other Moss Picture. It is focused the opposite, to the background. I loved both pictures.

You can see the charred melted paint on the steel beams above.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

He & Me ~ Wedding Number Three

We are going to get married! AGAIN! For the third time! To the same people! Check it out Here. In an effort to save those readers who could not care less I started a separate blog to chronicle the wedding bliss - or whatever it turns into! Still a blog in progress of course. Christy, Rachel, Aunt Laura, & Christina (if you read!) you are especially invited!

Cinderella's Daddy

Today while watching Cinderella (Don't get me started on my contradicting feelings on this "Fairy Tale") Ella said something that made me think. She was watching the scene where the prince and Cinderella are dancing at the ball. She then said "Look, that's Cinderella's Daddy." I paused for a moment and wondered why she thought that was Cinderella's daddy as it was obvious to me that he was the prince. "Oh really? Why is that her Daddy?" I said. She responded "Because he is dancing with her" in a tone as if to say oh silly mommy for asking.

What a sweet picture of her daddy Ella has. Think about that. She is still at that age where daddy is the center of her universe. I am so grateful for this and hope it lasts well into the teenage years though I know it wont. For now she can look lovingly into his eyes as he dances with her. All is well.

(And daddy wont forget what she looks like the next day just because she isn't wearing her fancy ball gown. Idiot prince.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

An Experiment In Minimalism

Many of you read about my extended trip to Florida last year. I wanted to go into a little more detail about part of it for you. I was thinking about all the things we think we need, or let others convince us we need, as prodded by my American Mum cousin in this post. We all get sucked into thinking we need this or we need that. Consume! Spend! You NEED it. That is so not true. This became very apparent to me in my 2 month experiment in minimalism last year.

If any of you have ever been backpacking you know how little you can make due with when squeezing it into a small backpack, either that or you learned how to pack incredibly efficiently. Then if you managed to pack it in you reexamined if it was worth it to haul it around on your back whether moving through the Tube or through third world countries. I learned a little of both when I went on my jump the pond adventure (along with the rule never to travel with a pack full of mostly white based shirts as the stains quickly drive you nuts).

Last March when we decided to pack up and go live in the West Palm Beach area of Florida I decided I was NOT going to pack our entire house. We were going to be staying in a two bedroom apartment with some work roomies and we would not have the room in the car ride down or the apartment for all the "stuff" we think kids just can't go without. We would have one bedroom for the four of us, one being a newborn and another a two year old.

Laptop: Life blood. To bring it or not? I did not bring it. Mind you I was not blogging then but I knew I wasn't going to get wireless where I was and those rich people apparently don't mind paying Starbucks for wireless. (I am buying their coffee for 8 million dollars and they can't come across with a wireless signal?) So for 2 months I did without a personal computer.

House Supplies: We each had one towel, one set of dishes, one set of silverware, one cup. We made due with what we had with most things. It was a bare apartment but we did get some free furniture from places that would make Freegans proud. There were no throw pillows and no art on the walls. The house was certainly minimal.

Clothing: We fit it all into one suitcase for clothes and another for the toiletries/baby wipes/sunscreen etc. I was very proud of the minimal clothing for the kids. They looked cute, over and over lol. Laundry - only two loads to wash it all! One dark, one light.

Kids Toys: This is where I was especially surprised. Ella was two. Two year olds need lots of stimulating toys. Wrong. We packed almost nothing for the trip down. A doll, her leap pad (on consignment), and of course the portable DVD player. (What? It is almost 18 hours. Of course I brought that.) When we got there I quickly located the closest Toys-R-Us and stocked up. WRONG! I went to the goodwill praying there would be some decent toys. I scored a big pack of Mega Blocks (3.99!) for some building fun. We also got a kids version of a yo-yo, a ball, a magna-doodle, a couple books, some crayons and coloring books. The new purchases and the few we transported were all she used for two months and she LOVED IT! I was amazed at her ability to go without all the bells and whistles. Nothing needed batteries either. I learned an interesting lesson about what kids don't need. I can count on one hand the number of toys we have bought either of our children in the last year. Also clean up only took about 5 minutes even for a 2 year old. Fantastic!

We overestimate what our children "need". We get sucked into the commercials and think "oh how cute! They would love that!" or oh this one is so much nicer even though they (and you) will only use it or fit it for a limited amount of time. It is so easy to get sucked into.

This extends into every part of our life. When we got our first place I went through a Pier One phase. I cringe at the thought of the money I spent on votive holders, chargers and dust collectors. I got rid of all that stuff when I had to move it. Another example: When we were purchasing a house I was amazed at what they told us we could afford. Our financing was approved for 30% more that what we ended up spending. While it was tempting to have the nicer bathroom and the pretty cabinets that 30% would have been the difference in us joining all the foreclosures right now in the US. I did my research and knew we could not really afford what the bank was telling us they would give us.

You don't need all the stuff the world tells you is needed for happiness. It doesn't matter if the kid has the nicest excersaucer or that cool new train set. No Aprille, you don't NEED that pretty Ikea whatever on page 187 of the new catalog.

I will soon be streamlining my house. One of my readers was recently here and commented on the amount of batteries we must use. She is right. A lot of the toys we have, all gifts or hand me downs from friends, are electronic. Not very minimalist huh? The toys are about to be minimalized.

Things I could no have lived without in Florida? sunscreen, a camera, the white noise machine, and my map!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Outer Banks Sunset III

This has been a series of photos I took during an amazing trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Though it was a surprisingly long drive, we had a great time in a pretty quiet October of that year. We went fishing, flew kites, relaxed in the indoor pool, walked on the beach in our jammies, and explored the beautiful coastline by foot and car. Having never lived in a place not within a couple hours of the beach, I would miss the ability to wake up on a Saturday and go to the beach on a whim (though much less spontaneous than before kids mind you!). I think it might be time soon for a day trip...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Outer Banks Sunset II

Corolla Beach, North Carolina

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Outer Banks Sunset I

An October Sunset On the Outer Banks, NC

Friday, March 07, 2008

Colorado's Garden Of the Gods

A couple years back I took a trip to visit a friend out in Colorado. It was spring break so of course I took my time off from school to ditch the husband and hang out with an old friend. and my 2 year old. and her 1 year old. and her 3 year old. My how partying changes after kids.

We took many a splendid trip around the great state and one of the most beautiful places was something I never expected. Garden of the Gods where gigantic red sandstone formations erupt from the earth with the backdrop of snowy Pike's Peak. Here are just a few pictures from the park, a fun "pull the car over so I can take a picture of that rock" kind of park. You should go.

Side Note: You know when your in this great scenic place void of humanity's imprint? You are poised to take the best picture then that annoying tourist (unlike yourself) steps in front of your shot and just will not move till every single member of their 50+ bus full of camera toting, fanny pack wearing entourage stands in front of the rock and says what must be "cheese" in whatever language that is they keep shouting. Don't they know they are ruining my moment and need to leave? I hate this. I have trouble sharing my traveling space in places that just seem like there should not be people there other than me. like beaches. and strange rock formation gardens. and time's square. well maybe not there. that would be creepy like that Tom Cruise movie where they did that. maybe not there.

Entrance to the Garden. Pike's Peak in the background and the Kissing Camels in the foreground on the right.

The rock where I had to wait about 20 minutes for people to get out of the shot. They are behind the rock now being annoying on that side.

What a lovely sunny day.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Out of the Mouths Of Ducks

I had my first amusing kid quote yesterday at school. It makes me wonder what my kiddo has boldly proclaimed without me knowing. While transitioning to another activity one of the four year olds in my preschool class spilled a pocket full of dried beans all over the floor. As peas, kidney beans and black eyes peas scattered underneath the easel and across the floor she muttered to herself, "Ahh damn, I dropped my beans!"

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wordy Wednesday

I find Wordless Wednesdays nearly impossible (Sidenote: does anyone else get annoyed every time they have to insert that first D in Wednesday?). Wordless? Ugh. I need to narrate my pictures sometimes. This is just my post, nothing up for grabs, so I can be wordy as I want to - my blog.

I like the winter for a couple reasons, the potential for snow, the lack of humidity and I am sure there are other simple things that I am missing but mostly, I miss green during the bleak winter months. It makes me melancholy, longing for spring. In some ways this is symbolic of life.

During a tromp down my river I was noticing the absence of spring. For me spring is a reminder of opportunity. We are all presented with bleak times, times that challenge our being and our very core. These times make us question what we thought we knew, causing us to either change our views or harden our resolve.

A dry river bed. Can you think how this might relate to life? Trees have started sprouting where water should flow. What do we allow to take root when life feels parched?

If we look and pay attention there are little signs of spring. Under this burned charred wood, there are little flowers sprouting up. I get so excited to see early spring. I love tulip bulbs and forsythia. They remind me that I have hope no matter how bleak the winter seems.

Welcome Spring you happy season of weather less than 100* more than 40* and when my nose itches like crazy from all the yellow pollen all over my car. Ahh renewal! I look forward to shaking off the winter funk!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

If I Only...

We have all heard them or even uttered the words ourselves.

I only knew then what I know now.

I am one of those woulda-shoulda-coulda people. Annoying, I know. I wonder should I have bought the bigger bottle of Advil? Should I have finished school before? Should I have said more? Should I have said less? Should I have gone right when I went left? It drives my husband crazy every time I do it. My life is filled with things I maybe shouldn't have done. It makes me wonder if I hadn't made the terrible decisions I had, would I be where I am today? For that matter if I had not made the good decisions I had where would I be today?

I think about how much I have grown; in confidence, in fortitude, my perspective, my spirit. I am more myself today than I was 8 years ago. This might not sound like much. Who isn't more them self than they were 8 years ago in some ways. Well, not everyone would see the possibilities in that. I am a wife, mother and follower of Christ. These are all self sacrificing roles and roles many who consider themselves to be intellectual, would consider hindrances to self discovery. While I have little time to myself I have discovered more of me within the safe and challenging confines of these roles than I ever would have imagined possible.

As I look back on my (short) life so far sometimes I think Man I wish I had known then that I would meet my husband. I never would have slept with "him" or done "that". I wouldn't have. Then again, those choices all led me to where I am now. I think less that it was my bad choices and fate and more that despite all that God was still able to work it out for good. Yes, I think that. Am I so big and important that God can't take my mistakes and work around them? Umm, no. I do wonder what would have happened had I not chosen what I did then and just listened to what I knew I should have been doing.

This brings me to now. What am I supposed to be learning now for use later? What will I look back one day on and think "If I had only known then what I know now"? I know that I will. What can I look around me and learn from today? Is it that I should appreciate the days as they are limited?

I guess this post isn't coming together like I want. Sometimes it is hard to muddle through this mess in my head to get it out. What I mean to say is what should I be learning right now that I am running from again like I did then? 20 years from now, or even just 8 , what will I look back and say if I had just listened, I would have decided better. This is not about regretting the past or even anticipating the future. It is about making those changes now and being fully cognizant of the possibilities if you just stop fighting and get out of your own way.

If I only knew

what I will know then.