Sunday, May 29, 2011

Glimpse of the "Old Me"

It's hard to admit this, but I think I've been in a funk for a while.  Not the kind where you mope around for days on end and feel sorry for yourself, or even the kind where you feel noticeably down and depressed and can't figure out why.  In fact, I didn't even realize I'd been in a funk until my run this morning (which is one of the reasons I love running so much).  First of all, I was totally inspired by this book I'm reading called Run Like a Mother.  It was written by two women who have found a way to keep up with their running after becoming parents, and they have some really realistic advice and stories/anecdotes you can totally relate to.  Nathan bought it for me while I was pregnant and I started it towards the end of this pregnancy, only to realize it would be much more inspiring to read when I was actually able to do more physically than roll out of bed (literally) and waddle around after Zoe (no exaggeration there, either).  So, I've finally picked it up again these last few nights and last night's chapter talked a lot about finding motivation when you just can't seem to muster any at all.  Boy, did it do the trick.  I set out to run a little more than 3 miles (which has been the longest I've run so far after Owen was born) and ended up feeling so good that I ran 6!  I was so proud that I actually clapped for myself when I stopped running at the end of the run.  I know, a little strange and dorky, but I was really pumped!  Not only did I run, but I actually experienced it like I used to since before I got pregnant with Zoe.  After the usual slow, plodding first mile or two I found that groove where you are tired, but know you could go on for a lot longer.  Man, I've missed that feeling!

There's nothing like finding that groove because when I do, I tap into this self-confidence that is almost impossible for me to find otherwise.  When I'm in that mood, it's easier to self-examine and figure out problems because my mind is totally open.  Today, I came to this realization that I've been afraid a lot these days:  of the dentist, of Owen's sleep never getting sorted out, of Owen getting another cold and thus another ear infection, of Zoe waking up puking again, of my really good friends moving away, of being far away from family and missing out on stuff, of not making the most of my time with Nathan and the kids, of failing to handle this challenging age Zoe is at the "right" way, of not getting enough sleep, of not eating right, of not succeeding at my new garden plot, of tornadoes and crazy weather, of the death of bin Laden meaning the start of an increase in intensity of violence against our country, of the kids getting bigger faster than my brain can fathom....and, I don't even consider myself a fearful person.  I just think that for some reason I've been letting these things get the best of me and have had a harder time not allowing these fears to take up more space in my brain than the positive stuff.  Maybe it's because I'm tired, or maybe it's just a natural thing for someone my age and knowing I am done having kids...kind of the end of a huge, long chapter of my life...whatever the reason, though I realized this morning on my run that one of the reasons it felt so good to run hard again was that I needed to jog my brain out of that funk and remind myself that even though I don't believe I have to deny these fears, I can overpower them with my strength of spirit.

To continue on with this mood, Nathan and I had a great day with the kids.  We loaded them into our new bike trailer and headed to the annual Boulder Creek Festival.  Such a beautiful day!
 I know, I know..the baby doesn't have a helmet...according to the Denver police, it's actually safer for babies this age to go without one.  If you have research proving the opposite though, please share!

Signing up for the duck race!  You don't actually get to set the duck off on the race, but you can go watch them set thousands of them down the creek.

Yay!  Last year she needed Daddy to ride this with her, but this year she told him to "STAY HERE."

Bounce House!

Choo choo!
We've stumbled upon a few really great activities the last few days too...the lemonade stand, I've been meaning to do for a long time though.  My brother Ben and I used to do it all the time when we were kids, and I thought Zoe would love it.  Our apartment is an okay spot but not as great as a quiet neighborhood street.  I was actually really disappointed to discover that the majority of adults that walked by said "No thank you, I'm good" to the "We're selling lemonade, do you want some?" question.  Come on, people!  It's 10 cents!!  Oh well.  Zoe is hooked.  She kept at it for a really long time and asks about 5 times a day now if she can sell more lemonade.
Zoe, Tristan and Sophie setting up shop

Zoe's idea
Then, the other day we were hanging out with my friend Marisa and her kids Cameron and Liesel and Marisa set them up with sidewalk chalk and matchbox cars and suggested they make a little city.  Marisa said she used to do it all the time when she was a kid and I think it's a brilliant activity!  Zoe played again at home today for a long time...

Yesterday, I finally set about putting some Owen pictures into frames and Zoe wanted to help.  I gave her some craft foam, stickers, scissors, tape and a couple pictures I had printed out but didn't have a frame for.  What a fun project for her!  She was really into it and I loved seeing what her ideas were.

Her finished makes me laugh that she covered their eyes up
Phew!  Anyway.....good times!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just a couple of little projects...

Since I rambled yesterday, I'll spare you today and just share a couple of things from the nice afternoon Zoe and I had today.  The sun was finally out, and Owen napped away for a few hours so she and I quietly worked on a couple of things outside:

I'd been meaning to make stepping stones for our garden plot for a few weeks now but just hadn't found the right time.  I bought a couple of boxes of mixing cement at the craft store (only used one today and we were able to make two stones) and a bunch of little tiles and glass pieces to decorate with.  Zoe was able to participate in the whole process and, although she changed her mind three times she finally settled on her hand and footprints with some glass and tile embellishments.  I helped her with the prints and with pushing all the pieces far enough down into the cement.  I also made sure the surface was nice and smoothed out.  I lined our pans (8x8 baking pans) with saran wrap so we wouldn't have to deal with washing them out in the sink (I'm not sure it's a good idea to wash cement down the kitchen drain) and am hoping it comes off easily after they dry.
All the materials (craft sticks to write in the cement with)

Pouring the water into the cement mix

Mixing the cement

Working away


Zoe's (she wrote her name in the upper left corner)

Mine (S for our last name, not my first ;-))
Then Zoe wanted to make and give away some more Beautiful Things.  Man, I tell you this is the project that just won't quit!  She loves making them and will sit and quietly work for a really, really long time.  Today, she kept saying her neck hurt but she kept working.  I was giving her little massages while I worked on mine and the two of us must have sat there for an hour making them.  I really think it's a great activity for this age.  Good for motor skills, but also she sometimes wants to make a pattern so we talk about how we can accomplish that.  Then, she gives them away to strangers and/or friends so we fit in a little lesson about kindness and generosity too!  I highly recommend can buy the beads in a big bin at the craft store, and pipe cleaners too...easy!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Did you say root canal??

Well, I had my appointment with the dentist today to have my cavity filled.  I've really surprised myself over these last few weeks of anticipation because, even though I know I don't like going to the dentist, I didn't realize I was actually fearful.  It became clear to me today though, as I sat in that chair with the headphones and music they kindly provided completely blaring so as not to hear the drill (which, by the way, does NOT work. The drilling is happening in your mouth, so the sound is coming from INSIDE YOUR escaping that!  Nice try, though.)  Anyway, I must have caught myself tensing my entire body at least ten times, and had to breath deeply and repeat to myself "You have given birth have given birth have given birth twice...."  For a little while my lower lip was actually quivering uncontrollably!  This all surprised me because in the past, I have to say I've felt pretty brave in the dentist's chair.  Maybe it's because it was my first time having something like that done by someone other than my childhood dentist (or his son), or maybe it was because every single fear I have seems to have tripled since becoming a mom for some reason (fear of heights comes to mind)...whatever the reason, I was not comfortable, despite the novocaine and extremely kind and knowledgeable doctor and assistant.  Imagine my absolute terror when the dentist muted my headphones and said "I just want to tell you what's happening.  It appears that the cavity has entered the nerve tissue, and traditionally, the next step is a root canal."  Wh-wh-wh-WHAT??!!!  I honestly wanted to cry (and still do a little bit, to tell you the truth).  Before we head down that path though, we are trying this new, (experimental?) thing called Mineral Trioxide Aggregate.  Apparently some dentists have started trying it over the last few years in an effort to avoid root canals.  This stuff can stop the progression of the infection or something, thus saving the tooth without totally hollowing it out.  You can be sure my fingers and toes are crossed and I hope you will do the same for my sake.

As far as the kids and our life at home goes, I can tell you that Nathan and I have created a monster.  Zoe is completely and utterly OBSESSED with "Annie".  She saw a kid version of the play back in March and has been talking about it so much that we decided it was time to buy her her first cast album, and Grandma got her the movie.  It's so funny and touching to watch and listen to her because it brings back such memories for both of us.  We have been laughing about the fact that it's driving us a little crazy, hearing the songs over and over and over again because we did the exact same thing to our families when we were kids.  As I watch her sit quietly, listening intently to every single song, I can't help but picture myself sitting in my old room listening to music for hours at a time, getting lost in my imagination.  I also have flashbacks of buying cast albums to learn the words to shows I was in and dreaming about being a big star one crazy being on this side of things now.  I love hearing her little voice belt out "Tomorrow" and "It's a Hard Knocked Life", but you haven't lived until you've heard my sweet little 3 (and a half!) year old sing, in full voice, the lyrics "Today we're living in a shanty.  Today we're scrounging for a meal.  Today I'm stealing coal for fire...Who knew I COULD STEEEEEAL!!!", not to mention "Some women are dwippin' with diamonds.  Some women are dwippin' with poles (pearls).  Lucky me, lucky me, look at what I'm DA-WIPPIN' with...little goles!"

Owen is still not sleeping great, but I suppose we are getting there.  He wakes up quite a bit but can sometimes get himself back to sleep, and Zoe is now a pro at just getting up and sleeping in our room on the sleeping bag on the floor without too much fuss if it bothers her.  He is getting better and better at the army crawl and is trying really hard to figure out how to get on his hands and knees.  We've bolted our tallest piece of furniture to the wall and have our eyes peeled for the next child-proofing project.

I made these cool t-shirts for the kids a few days ago, and briefly thought about trying to sell them on Etsy, but realized it would be really hard to make any sort of big profit on them.  So I decided to keep it as a "for fun" thing...the shirts are from the craft store, and the paint is the puffy fabric paint you can get there.  For his (the white one) I was playing around with the idea of tie-dying without the dye.  I bunched it up like I was tie-dying it and first shook it up in a bag with a bunch of paint and then brushed the yellow and red on.  It looks cool, but it's a little stiff where the paint is thicker so I think next time I'll skip the bag shaking step.  For hers, I just squirted the paint onto the shirt the way I wanted it and brushed it flat with the foam craft brushes you can get at the craft store.....check it out and let me know if you'd be willing to pay $2000 for one...if so, I think I might be in business.  :-)
Before painting
About to shake it up

A little muddy, but after shaking it up

Before adding the red and yellow

The twist

Added paint

Kind of cool, no??


Friday, May 20, 2011

My Running Life

A few years before I got pregnant with Zoe, I made the conscious effort to go down a different path I had previously been traveling.  I decided to stop smoking cigarettes and drinking so much and start running.  I had been talking to my sister Jill, who at the time was training for the Boston marathon, and she was encouraging me to sign up for a 2 mile race.  I initially laughed out loud, saying I didn't think I could run a BLOCK, let alone two miles.  Then all of the sudden I got this motivation.  I don't know exactly where it came from, but I credit Jill for encouraging me to run and my friend Johnny Hawkins for betting me the amount of money it would cost to buy a year's worth of cigarettes, that I couldn't go a year without smoking one (I won...and refused his offer to actually pay up.  Haven't had even one puff of a cigarette since, in fact).  Those two things along with the fact that I think I was just mentally ready to make a change in my life (I knew I wanted to have kids someday sooner rather than later, and I wanted to be a HEALTHY mom) prompted me to say "You know what?  It would be so awesome to do something I thought I could never do.  What the hell, sign me up!"  Then Jill took me to the store to buy me a pair of running shoes, saying "If I buy them for you, you have to run--otherwise you just made me waste $30!" and it was full steam ahead for me and my running life.

At first, all I could do was run for 30 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds, run 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds, etc.  I remember the day I decided I'd try to run for 6 minutes in a row and I was wheezing so badly that someone passing by in a truck honked at me and laughed tauntingly out their window.  3 months later, I ran 10 miles and soon after that I ran my first half marathon.  I ran one more half marathon the next year and often times ran to work in midtown Manhattan from our Brooklyn apartment via the Brooklyn bridge.  I was hooked and was constantly pushing myself.  I was addicted to the feeling the thought that "just last year, I was sitting by my kitchen window smoking cigarettes all morning, and I just ran 10 miles!"  gave me.  That high lasted for a really long time and then I got pregnant and even though I stayed pretty active, my running waned as my belly got bigger and bigger (and bigger and bigger and bigger and....)

Ever since having a baby, I've found it really difficult to find the motivation again to push myself.  I know it's because I have virtually NO free time anymore and am more often than not, completely exhausted so I'm not too hard on myself about it but I miss the rush.  I've tried a bunch of different ways to find that drive again, but have been too caught up in parenting young children to be able to focus on something that's totally and completely for ME.  I have hope today though, because I think I MIGHT feel a little tiny spark at the thought that I could be running hard again after giving birth to two children.  I've accomplished the most mind blowing and insane physical challenge I've ever heard of by giving birth naturally (TWICE!) and now that I'm not planning on doing THAT ever again (never ever ever) I think I'm excited about focusing on running again.  Wish me luck!

Anyway, the weather here has been very un-Boulder-like.  It has rained and rained and rained for at least a week straight and is supposed to be rainy for a few more days.  Such a bummer, but it has given me the opportunity to try out a couple of indoor activities I've been wanting to try with Zoe and haven't had the chance since we usually head out to the playground and stay out as long as possible.  I saw this idea for a toilet paper roll marble run on TinkerLab a few weeks ago and started setting aside empty rolls for a rainy day.  Zoe had a really great time with it and it was fun to watch her try and figure out how to make it work...great problem solving activity and she was so pleased with herself when she finally made it work!

Also, I'm SO HAPPY to say that the chore sheets and bean jar are back!  We were doing this a few months ago and it was such a great thing because not only did Zoe like it but it was a really useful parenting tool for me....I got the idea for the chore sheets from my friend Katie and whipped up morning and evening sheets for our house.  When she does all her chores, she gets a dried bean in a jar and when she collects 15 she gets a reward (trip to the ice cream shop, movie night, etc)...if she misbehaves, though she gets beans taken away.  Before we started doing it I found myself struggling often with how to discipline her and convince her to behave.  I'd throw out these ridiculous threats like "If you don't get in the car RIGHT NOW, no TV for a WEEK!!" When, let's be honest, the TV is as much for me as it is for her, so then I was punishing both of us!  Anyway, when we started "bean in the jar", all I'd have to say is "Do we need to take a bean out of your jar?" lovely! (Thanks, Kelly for telling me about this magical system!) Sadly, though after a few blissful months of that she suddenly got tired of it and just completely lost interest.  The down side of the system is that if the kid doesn't care, it flat out doesn't work.  Nathan got her interested in it again somehow the other day though, and we are back on!  Hooray for Nathan!!!!

Gotta start somewhere!
Today we had the CRAZIEST storm pass by.  We actually had some sunshine for most of the day, and then in the afternoon these dark clouds rolled in and dumped a bunch of rain and hail.  It came and went so quickly but got everything totally soaked again.  Towards the end of the storm, I got this idea to try and measure how much rain we were going to get...Me, Nathan and Zoe all made guesses and we put this milk jug outside to see who was right.  Unfortunately, I thought of it too late so we didn't really get anything in the jug, but now I'm prepared for the next storm.  The jug was a good pretend boat for all the huge puddles the storm left behind anyway!

Crazy, crazy, crazy Colorado weather!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I'm starting this post with a recent project because I'm submitting it to another crafting website:

Zoe and I made these flowers from an egg carton to bring to Grandma this weekend...I was so happy with how they came out, especially since I'm always looking for ways to use egg cartons.  I painted the vase on the inside after seeing it on a blog called Lilla-A.  We used the entire carton...the cups were made into the flowers and we cut up the rest into little pieces to fill the vase (also threw in some pieces of colored tissue paper).  After cutting and painting the cups the way we wanted, I poked holes in the bottoms with a thumbtack and strung pipe cleaners through those holes and a button.  Think I'll have to make more for our house!

We had a great time visitng Nathan's side of the family in Kansas this weekend.  Zoe and I finally got to see Grandma and Peepaw's house there, and Nathan's sister Kristen and her family made the trek from Oklahoma, along with GG and Grandad.  It was so wonderful to spend a quiet weekend catching up and introducing everyone to little Owen!

The drive there and back was 8 hours, and I have to say it was pretty luxurious considering the age of our two kids.  Whenever we fly with them, (although they are really, really well behaved) I always find myself staring at the people without kids, wondering if they know how great they have it.  I can never get over the craziness that sitting on an airplane reading a magazine can seem like such a luxury to me, but it really does.  SO, since Owen hardly made a peep (literally--we were never quite sure if he was awake and quiet or asleep) and Zoe (aside from the first hour or so where she asked us if we were "in Kansas yet" about 50 million times) calmly watched movies, and Nathan drove (bless him), I READ (on my new Kindle, thanks to Sandi).  I read and read and read and read and read!!!  The most relaxing 8 hours in a row I've spent in months!  The actual drive itself is immensely boring (not counting the miles of signs for some mysterious destination that boasts "5-LEGGED COW!!"), which is why I'm so thankful that Nathan drove...Western Kansas is nothing more than flat farmland and I caught myself imagining getting caught in a tornado quite a few times (I have a bit of a phobia, I admit).  At one point, we tried playing "I Spy" with Zoe, and we all had a really hard time coming up with things to spy.  Zoe, not surprisingly had the funniest:  "I with branches!" and "I spy sumpiiiiiiiiiiiing.......BRIDGE-Y!"

Thanks for having us, Gary and Sandi!  Thanks for making the trip Flarvey's and Stith's!  We miss you already!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On the move

Well, we are officially in Trouble (notice the capital "T").  Owen figured out how to move around and of COURSE his most desired locations are: anywhere that has a power cord, small object, piece of paper, stick, rock, anything Zoe doesn't want him to have and/or under some low lying structure that could easily scrape up his little head, etc...he's completely mastered the army crawl, and folks, he is FAST.  It feels like it's all happened in this last week alone, so it's a big wake up call for us.  We didn't really have to do much baby proofing when Zoe got to this stage (but, of course we did because she was our first and we did everything you're SUPPOSED to do), but I'm already envisioning many a "NO, NO, NO DON'T TOUCH, OWEN!!"  moments, and I'm sure I'll have to do the ol' finger sweep to retrieve all manner of sticks, stones and pieces of lint from his mouth more times than I can imagine right now.  I'm just crossing my fingers that we won't have to do the Heimlich or watch him electrocute himself and we'll have to get those baby gates up at the top and bottom of the stairs ASAP.  Here we go!

In Zoe news, she has officially hit the "why" stage.  I thought we were in it before, but I was painfully unaware of the intensity and relentlessness of the ACTUAL "why" stage. I know, it's a subject that's discussed and joked about so much that you'd think people would be sick of talking about it, but it's just one of those things that parents will never stop marveling over.  When you're not in the "why" stage it seems like one of those "kid things" that is more funny than annoying but I am here to tell you that it is, in fact, EXTREMELY ANNOYING.  I will be reading a book to her and this is literally how it will go:

Me: reading "One fish"--
Zoe:  Why?
Me:  Why what?
Zoe:  Why "one fish"?
Me:  Well.  Just because.  "One fish"--that's just how the story starts.
Zoe:  Oh.
Me:  reading "One fish, two fish, red"--
Zoe:  Why "Two fish"?
Me:  Just because, Zoe.  "One fish, two fish"--
Zoe:  Why is that one red?
Me:  Zoe, just let me read okay?
Zoe:  Okay, Mommy.
Me:  reading "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish."
Zoe:  Why is that one blue and that one is red?

.....and on and on and on and on....seriously.  There are times when all I can say is "I don't even know what you mean.  Is that a question?  It just IS because it IS.  There is no why." and I don't think you'll be at all shocked to know what the next thing out of her mouth is...go ahead and take a wild guess.

.....Deep, cleansing breath.....

Anyway, we made another fun recipe (Tiny Tacos) the other day from Salad People.  It was really cute because Zoe totally took the lead since the directions are all in pictures.  It's just refried beans, guacamole, cheese and salsa sandwiched between two tortilla chips (you don't even heat anything up), so it was super easy for her to make them all by herself.  You could tell she felt really proud of herself for making dinner for top off the cuteness, we discovered at the end of the process that she thought each little "Tiny Taco" was a whole serving and that we'd each just have one!  If you enjoy cooking with your kids, you should definitely check out this book...really fun and easy stuff!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Another season...

One of my favorite things about the changing seasons since having kids is being able to reflect on how much things have changed in a year...I switch out winter/summer clothes and can't get over the fact that stuff that I thought looked huge now fit Zoe like a glove....always makes me think about what we were doing at this time last year.  This year, as the weather gets warmer and warmer, I've had such a great time just being outside.  I loved getting into crafting this winter, but it's so nice to be outside watching Zoe just play.  Either while Owen naps upstairs, or sits on my lap and watches with me, we sit for hours and just soak up the beautiful weather.  Her imagination is so amazing now, and she can keep herself busy lovely!

Here are some of the fun things we did today, along with working in our garden plot, which I didn't get pictures of...we got dirty from weeding and turning the soil and wet when the hose completely broke and scared us half to death!  Anyway, here are some pictures I did get of our fun day:

This project was inspired by TinkerLab's recent cardboard box challenge.  We had two big boxes and I cut them up and put slits along the sides so she could build something with them.  Perfect for my busy little lady.  She even took out a book of "instructions" and read them out loud.  She had a grand old time telling me what pieces to put where!  When she was done, she told me it was a house for ants.

I had also been excited to make this banner from Frugal Family Fun Blog and got a chance to today.  Super, super easy and really cute.  There were lots of ways for Zoe to help me do it, which of course made it even better!
She chose the order of colors, helped count the triangles so we could get the letters in the middle and spaced them all out nicely on the string

While we were sitting outside playing, Zoe was picking dandelions and tearing up the stems.  All of the sudden I remembered how we used to put the pieces in water and watch them curl up...did you ever do that?

Finally, we got "the call" from our friends Mariah and Pete who have been expecting their 3rd baby any day.  They are wonderful friends of ours, and Zoe spent the night at their house the day Owen was born so we were poised and ready to return the favor.  As I type this, it's almost 9:30 and I'm still not sure they are all settled down and exciting!!

Hooray for sleepovers!!

Nothing better than sleeping in a tent with friends!

To check out more cardboard box challenge ideas hop along to the following blogs: