Saturday, April 28, 2012

Oh, Those Silly Impromptu Trips

The kids and I had a great day today.  Oz was a busy boy elsewhere, so the three of us were on our own. We started the day off slowly - breakfast, playtime outside in the drizzle, playtime on the Wii... one of the lazy Saturdays that the kids and I have desperately needed for ages.

Sometime around noon, we all decided we were hungry.  We considered going to a Turkish festival that was happening locally, but instead we drove over to a nearby shopping center and ate lunch at a Panera so frigid that I'm still not entirely sure I'm thawed.  Mostly M1 wanted a panini.  He has a penchant for panini and found one on the menu that contained artichokes.  He was a happy camper.  While we ate, we discussed plans for the rest of the day.  We tossed around several ideas - going to the festival after all, going to the park, visiting people, swimming - and finally decided that we'd go out to a local sheep farm that was having a "Wooly Weekend."  We've been to this farm before, but it had been a while, and the kids were both keen to see a sheep get shorn.  M1 also remembered there being a huge garden, and he really wanted to check that out again.

Since it was an impromptu trip, though, I didn't have my camera!  Quite frustrating, especially since once we got there, there were SO many fantastic opportunities to take photos.  There were lambs.  There were sheep that had yet to be clipped and those that had been.  There were hay bales and a big red barn and all sorts of great photo ops... and that was before we even got inside!

Inside the barn and up the stairs, volunteers and various farm workers were hard at work.  They take some of the cleaned wool from the farm's sheep and card, spin, and knit or weave it into actual products to be sold in the shop below; M2 discovered a great love of wool-working!  She discovered a small loom first, on a table full of toys.  I showed her how to work the shuttle back and forth, and she did that for a few minutes until M1 wanted a turn.  She seemed at a loss for what to do for a minute, so I pointed out a very large loom at which a woman was working and directed her there.  I expected her to stand and watch and ask questions; I did not expect her to say, "Can I try?"  And what was more, the woman said yes!  (By the way, the volunteers were ALL that way... they were patient and kind and I simply adored them.  Not a single person said no to anything my children asked.)  Anyway, M2 sat down at the loom and listened carefully as she was given directions.  She couldn't quite push the foot pedals down far enough to get the shuttle in between the threads very easily, so the volunteer helped her, but she did several rows before another little girl saw her working and came over to inquire about having a turn.  M2 graciously gave up her place... and promptly walked over to a woman who was spinning wool into thread and asked to try that.

And that... that was where she really found her niche.  She again had problems working the foot pedal by herself because the chair was a bit high, but she worked so carefully and patiently and well that she finished spinning the entire bunch of wool that the woman had been working on.  The volunteer was incredibly impressed and told me that M2 had done the best spinning of any child that entire weekend and promptly made a small present to M2 of about a yard of 'her' thread.  I saw the two women - the one at the loom and the one spinning - talking about M2 a few minutes later and both were smiling and nodding.  That always warms a mama's heart!

It kills me that I have no pictures of any of this.

I wish I had pictures of M1, too.  We did wander over to the garden, and he got there well before M2 and I because he was in such a rush to see what they had growing.  There were two different kinds of mint, and he had to get down on his knees and see if he could differentiate between mint and spearmint (he could).  He waxed completely poetic over the regular basil versus purple basil.  He found chamomile and echinacea and wants to grow them both so he can make healthful teas.  He was disappointed that the day's crop of strawberries had already been picked (he wanted to help) and wants to go back when the asparagus and blueberries and raspberries are ripe.

In fact, both kids want to go back.  When M2 finished working on the spinning wheel, the volunteers let me know that they were open every weekend if M2 wanted to come back and work with them again, and I'd be inclined to say that it might happen.  I'm sure M1 would probably love working in the garden if they'd let him, too.

The end of the day contained a trip to a park as well as a trip to Braum's for ice cream, and by the end of the meal, both kids were thoroughly worn out - M1 burst into tears at Braum's when he felt too tired and overwhelmed to get up and pick out a flavor of ice cream for his cone.  All's well now, though, and they're both eagerly looking forward to tomorrow.  It's lovely to spend weekends with my babies again!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

For Sale

There is a sign in front of our house.  It is officially on the market.  Before, I was nervous about getting it clean for pictures.  Now I'm nervous about keeping it clean for people.

FINGERS CROSSED!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Motivation

As any parent or teacher will tell you, you can't MAKE a child do something.  It's a universal rule, really.  When we're little, sometimes we like to think that we can actually make someone do what we want, but then we grow up and learn the harsh truth that the only thing that can make someone do something is a highly-developed guilt complex or actual willingness on the part of the party being ordered asked to do something.

Adults, by and large, are pretty amenable.  Kids are, too.  Until you find something they have no desire to do, and then the amount of procrastination, lolly-gagging, and dilly-dallying that goes on can absolutely boggle the mind.

I've lamented M1's writing reluctance before.  He goes through phases with it.  Sometimes he loves to write; at other times it's like trying to get Jesse Ventura elected governor of Texas.  It ain't gonna happen.


M1 and I have been doing some bigger projects over the last couple of months to wrap up the school year.  He did a descriptive paper and did well and enjoyed it.  He did an opinion paper and did well and mostly enjoyed it.  Then, 2.5 weeks ago, I asked him to make up a fiction story.  I didn't care how long it was, but it had to include dialogue because we're learning the rules of writing dialogue and he's only used them a time or two.  We've worked on the story a little bit at a time since then, and for the first week and a half, he refused to let me see anything he'd done.  Last Thursday he finally showed me the "final rough draft."  (I figured this would've been the final final draft, but what did I know about his thought process?)  It was a great story, except one thing was missing.

Dialogue.  The ONE thing I asked him to make sure the story had.

*headwall*

I really, really want him to finish the story this week.  Preferably by... ohhhhh... today.  Because I really, really want to hit poetry again for a day or two before we start on our final project of the year - a research project that I want to let him combine with Powerpoint to make a presentation he can show to the whole family.  I know that he will love this project.  It combines his two favorite things - science (because I'm sure he'll pick some sort of scientific topic) and electronics.  And hello, who doesn't love Powerpoint?!?  But I also know that this project will take at least three weeks to complete, and M2's last day of school is one month away.  So we need to get crackin'.

I love my kid.  And I love that I get to invent projects that he enjoys so very much.  And I love that he thinks that just because he's demonstrated a concept ONE WHOLE TIME he's done with it forever.  Sadly, however, that doesn't translate into being motivated enough to finish a project to get to the fun stuff that comes afterward.

It's okay, though.  I'm going to show him a sample Powerpoint presentation later today.  And if that doesn't light a fire under his skinny lil' derriere, nothing will.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ahhhh...

The week is finally over!  I honestly wondered if it would never end.  I have to hand it to my darling hubby - he is truly the only reason that I made it through this week with any semblance of sanity intact.  He brought me drinks when he felt I needed them, gave me breaks when he could, and basically kept telling me, "WE CAN DO THIS."

And we have.  Today he patched the carpet in the hall, and we finished the last of the exterior work.  All we have to do now - literally all we have to do, since we even put the final boxes and furniture pieces into storage - is clean the house.  The realtor is coming on Thursday.  By the end of that day, we'll have a sign in the front yard!

So now, instead of worrying about whether the house will ever make it ON the market, I get to worry about whether someone will want to buy it.  I'm not really stressing about that one, though.  I have hopes that our perfect buyer is out there.  And because I'm feeling optimistic this weekend, we've started browsing different areas and neighborhoods to see if OUR perfect house is out there somewhere.

In between all the house stuff, we've still had plenty of stuff happening with the kids and school.  M2 had a field trip this last week, and she and her classmates had a blast.  I drove - M2 and three other giggly little first-grade girls makes for a fun, if somewhat loud trip - and it was so much fun watching the kids run around.  M2 performed in a talent show on Thursday at the school, too.  It was beautiful to watch her bask in all the applause and shouts of her fellow students.  Since she has another performance tomorrow, she really needed the first one to go well, and it did.  Perfect.

M1 has been doing well, too.  He's still swimming, and he's looking forward to several field trips in the upcoming month.  He's winding down the school year, having already reached his goals in a couple of subjects, but we still have some projects to do - make a piƱata for Cinco de Mayo, make a Powerpoint presentation about any research topic he chooses, etc.  He knows about some of these but not others.  I can't wait to see how he reacts.

My sister sent me another thing that got me through to the end of the week:

The Bloggess' first book

That's right.  I have The Bloggess' book.  And yes, it really is that funny.  I got started on it Friday night, and by the time I got to page 30, Oz declared me "touched."  I told him I was not the one who wrote and published the book.  I don't think he cared, since at the time I had tears rolling down my cheeks from laughing so hard.

So even though I'm PMSing, worried about how I'm going to get it all done between now and Thursday, and really am completely exhausted, it's been a good, productive week.  And I have to thank my family for that.

And rum.  I can't forget rum. ;)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Photo Post

The new camera is amazing.  But, as with anything technological, there is a learning curve.


This is the first photo that I took with my "new toy," as the family has dubbed it.  Notice all the orangey-red.  Clearly I hadn't learned to play with the settings.

Bokeh
But I did decide to go play with the flash...

Bokeh-less
... and was impressed by the difference in the depth of field.  I've never been able to play with those sorts of things before.


Then I sat down with the manual and learned that I can take sepia or black-and-white photos.


I can soften or warm a photo before I even take it.

His eye skin is prone to the effects of gravity when he rolls


And I can catch those great action shots that I've always missed before now.  I got some great photos of some of M2's classmates doing cartwheels today.  I don't have to worry so much about getting the timing perfect, which means I can worry about focus and composition - it's amazing :)

I am totally in love with my "new toy," and I can't wait to use it at M2's school talent show.  I can sit all the way in the back and use my telephoto lens to get some great shots anyway!  I'm a tad giddy.  I'll never be a pro photographer, but if I can get some fun shots now and then, it'll be worth every minute of poring over the manual!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Well, It Was Memorable

So if I wasn't lazy, I'd be showing you photos I've taken with my new camera because HELL YES I've been using it.  My husband and children are already tired of me.  The cats may also be done having a lens stuck in their faces, but they've been eyeing me with disdain for years, so I really can't tell a difference.

But.  I'm lazy.

So instead, let me tell you about my day.  Completely unrelated photos to follow in another post.

My birthday started at roughly 3:30 a.m. with the announcement of a small girl standing beside my bed: "Mom, my tummy hurts. I think I'm going to urp."

My first thought of the day: "Oh, nooooo, not on the bed."

She did not wind up blowing chunks, thank goodness, but she did spend the rest of the night up and down with a puny stomach and nothing to show for it other than an increasingly miserable girl.  By 7 a.m., she was full-on crabby.  Most of the time I let her have these days off of school as mental health days (I know it's largely due to anxiety over her upcoming violin performances), but she'd been doing better with her anxiety issues, and also she's always fine by 9:30 or 10 a.m.  So I told her that she could come with M1 and I while he got his allergy shot and I'd drop her at school on our way home.  And I did.

And at 1 p.m., I got a call from the school saying that she had been in the sick bay for an hour and a half (they'd have called me sooner but she'd been napping) and refused to eat anything.  I think they managed to get three crackers into her, which is more than I'd managed at breakfast, so I gave them credit.  I told them I had to load up the van and I'd be on my way.

Here's what I had to load into the van:

  • M1, in swim jammers
  • M1's bag of swim gear and towel
  • M1's schoolwork for tomorrow, complete with sharpened pencils, erasers, glue, scissors, crayons, etc.)
  • An overnight bag for M1
  • M2's violin
  • M2's violin books
  • A book for me to read during swim in case the woman I often talk to wasn't there (I haven't particularly hit it off with most of the other moms, which has little to do with them and more to do with the fact that we don't have much in common)
  • Healthy snacks so I could try to make M2 eat something
  • A giant bag of Oz's old clothes to go to Goodwill
I picked M2 up on the way to swim.  M1 swam while M2 lay miserably on the cold, dirty concrete floor of the parent room at the swim school.  I kept trying to get her to snuggle on my lap, but she didn't want to.  The floor was preferable.  After we left swim, I managed to get a small piece of beef jerky into her.  It wasn't a banana like I wanted, but it was something.  I dropped M1 off at my mother-in-law's house and headed to M2's violin lesson.  Two blocks from the teacher's house - I was literally turning into the neighborhood - when disaster struck.  I had stopped at a stop sign and turned around to encourage M2 to eat a few bites of banana... when I watched her induce vomiting.  She didn't stick a finger down her throat or anything.  She was simply staring at the banana and making upchuck motions... and succeeded.  Admirably.  Sooooooo I turned the van right instead of left and promptly took the child home, where I cleaned out the van and she took a shower.  She then declared that she felt hungry and ate a (different) banana.

*headwall*

She went to bed and took a brief nap before getting up, chipper as ever, and finishing off the last of my baked potato for dinner, as well as a piece of bread and butter.

So far she's kept that down.  I thought she'd be up for hours after taking two naps today, but she was fast asleep by 9.  I checked on her a little bit ago and asked her - both kids are prodigious sleep talkers, something they get from Oz - how she was feeling.

I got a grin.  "FAAAAANtasky," she announced before rolling over and curling back up.

The best part of my day?  Oz mowed the lawn and made me dinner - grilled steak, baked potatoes, salad, and lemon meringue pie.  With beer.

He salvaged what had been a horribly rough day.  I am grateful to him.  And to everyone else who has sent birthday wishes my way today.  Thank you all, and I hope your week is going better than mine!

Monday, April 16, 2012

SQUEE!!!

OK, so I'm not very amped about my 30th birthday being less than 2 hours away.  I'm really not.

I AM, however, totally psyched (Like my usage of archaic teenage phraseology?  I could have gone with "But it's totally sick..." but I didn't want to.  I am a product of the 1990s.) about the gift that Oz got me.


See that?  It's not my table and it's not my camera, but it is the type of camera that I got.  It's a Canon Rebel T3i.  Do I have all the specs?  No.  But I do know this.  It's beautiful.  He also got me a second lens, a telephoto, so I can finally take those faraway shots that I've always despised my Elph for.

I'm trying not to drool on it.

I Don't Have Time for a Birthday

Today is Monday.  Today is a Monday.  Interesting how one little article adjective can change the entire meaning of a sentence, isn't it?  And yes, today is very much A Monday.  I got up this morning - woke up would be too strong of a phrase since I'm not entirely sure I actually slept more than 30 minutes last night because the sheets kept getting warm and while I love warm sheets normally, last night my body desired the sheet temperature somewhere around freezing - and promptly started having a crappy day.  I got up late, for one thing, because I actually forgot that I was supposed to get up at 6:48 when my snooze alarm went off for the second time.

Coherent, I was not.

Anyway, once my feet did hit the floor, I had to strip all the beds (they have yet to be remade, with the exception of mine... which Oz did), make M2's lunch, feed both children, sort and start laundry, empty the dishwasher, and take M2 to school.  When we got out to the car, we discovered that the seats were still folded down from our trip to the storage unit yesterday.  So we had to put seats back in their regular upright positions before we could go anywhere.

M1 and I got back home, and I realized I was almost out of laundry detergent, so I had to start a new batch.  The school binder broke the second time M1 opened it this morning.  The front simply came off.  I know he wasn't yanking on it, so I blame manufacturer error.  If I had the time and inclination, I'd gripe about that, but for now, I'm just sending a large raspberry in its direction and letting it be.  Que sera sera and all that.

The contractors showed up this morning to work on the foundation of the house.  This is a positive, since it's the last big thing we have to do before listing the house (as long as you don't count cleaning, which is a ginormous task that I'm not even contemplating right now), but it does provide yet another distraction, especially since they're amusing me by repeatedly taking photos of the horses.

Did I mention that M1 has his head firmly lodged up his posterior sphincter today?  It took him an hour and a half just to do spelling.  It's 10 a.m. and he's finally gotten to math.  I'm thinking there may be subjects dropped today just to preserve the collective sanity.

So that's today.  So far.  And this entire week has a schedule that would make me crazy at the best of times, and clearly this is NOT the best of times.  M2 has a field trip out of town one day, followed by a 2.5-hour dress rehearsal after school (which I'm not allowed to attend) for a talent show that takes place on the following day.  She has a violin lesson as usual, but she also has a rehearsal on Saturday for a performance on Sunday.  All this means she's incredibly burned out, and I can't blame her.  M1 and I had short-lived viruses over the weekend, and his has turned into some sort of sinus infection.  I need to do a sinus rinse with him and see if that fixes things, because I do not have time to take him to the doctor.

I also don't have time for my birthday.  Theoretically this should be tomorrow.  But since I don't have time to do anything, my good friend C has proposed that I postpone my birthday a week and stay 29 for a few extra days until her husband is back in town to watch the kids and we can go out.  Besides anything else, she said, it'll give me something to look forward to.

I really like her logic.  Because next week will be better.  It's gotta be.  So that's when I'll have my birthday, and hopefully we'll also get to list the house!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Busy-ness

I haven't really had too many chances to get on here and post lately; I've just been busy.  But I wanted to get on and immortalize some of the best times from the past few weeks.


M1 has discovered a love of model making.  He's graduated from models that snap together to models that glue together, and he's thrilled about it.  He loves the painting and the putting together of pieces, and I can't wait to see what the final product looks like.


The kids had two weeks of Spring Break.  The first week was sunny and brilliant, and we spent a lot of time outside.  The second week, though - the week that all the public schools were on break - was rainy.  And that was brilliant, too, because we went to an almost-vacant zoo on a misty day, and I let the kids puddle-duck on a rainy day.  They loved it.


M2 turned 7 at the end of the break...


... and she had a wonderful party at a local pottery painting place.


She doesn't look 7.  It's scary how fast they grow.


This past weekend, the Easter Bunny paid our house a visit.


M1 knows that Mom is involved in most of these sorts of gigs, but he can't for the life of him work out who might be involved here.  (On a completely unrelated note, my sister works for a costuming and drama department at a college in another city.)


The kids always love hunting for eggs...


... and they got to have TWO hunts this year, one at home and one at Granddad's house with their cousins (step-cousins? How do you relate your step-sibling's kids to your kids?)


Mostly, though, we've been doing a lot of this.  Working.  Plugging away.  The kitchen has been completely repainted, and we're waiting on the contractor to get a date set to come do the foundation piers and leveling.  The kids and I did some painting on the exterior of the house today.  I need to steam clean the carpets, Oz has to repair a couple of floor pieces, and once all these things are done... THAT'S IT.  Other than cleaning like my life depends on it.  The end is in sight, though.  I'd love to get the house listed next week!

Fingers crossed.  It's been an eventful spring! :)