Sunday, October 31, 2010


This year for Halloween, we marched with the kids in a local parade. Well, it's not so much a parade as it is a (large) group of people in costumes walking through the street together. There were all kinds of crazy and creative costumes there - it was amazing. For the 2nd (3rd?) year in a row, Peter wore his fire gear with Mr. T. It was super cute and during the parade they were definitely a hit. Everyone was looking at them, coming up to talk to Peter, it was pretty crazy. Miss E looked adorable of course in her butterfly costume and the weather was perfect. I think Peter was even a bit hot in all his gear.

After the Monster March we headed up to my parents house for dinner and trick or treating. Some year I really want to go in our neighborhood, but currently there are no sidewalks or streetlights so it's not the greatest place. Hopefully in the next year or so there will be a new house and new neighborhood to trick or treat in. Until then, it's at my parent and it is truly a joy to take the kids trick or treating on the same streets and to the same houses that I went to during my entire childhood. This year my mom walked around with us while my Dad stayed home to pass out candy. After the march this afternoon, the kids were pretty tired so after about 40 minutes of trick or treating Miss E announced she was tired and wanted to go home. We were home in bed by 8:30. All in all it was a pretty nice, low pressure holiday which is one of the things I love about Halloween. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all the candy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Holy strong willed girls! So, remember about how we got home late from the dance last night? Like at 7? Well, I kind of made a fuss with Miss E about getting straight to bed and she stayed awake until 9:30, uncovered, in a tank top and shivering to SHOW ME who was in control. Alright. I cave, Miss E, I cave.

Needless to say this morning was rough. First we were tired, second it was an extra early soccer game, third it was freezing cold and raining, fourth we failed a bit as parents. It was the perfect storm. Our failure was not getting ready early enough for the soccer game so it was a rush, I didn't help her get dressed so she ended up wearing only her shorts, jersey and a lightweight sweatshirt. Did I mention it was about 48 degrees and raining? She wouldn't put on extra clothes, and once at the field didn't want to warm up, and plopped down in the grass which was actually very wet mud instead of our chair. Ah yes.... that is how the game began.

As I was trying to chat with the other moms, Miss E had just had it. I kept nicely trying to get her to put on a long sleeve top, a coat, maybe sit in a chair instead of the mud but it just wasn't happening.  We were spiraling into dangerous territory. Fortunately at this point my parents showed up. Now, my parents are the most amazing and wonderful grandparents. I knew they wouldn't be upset that they drove all the way to watch a rainy soccer game that their granddaughter was throwing a fit at, instead they just love and accept the kids as they are - tantrums, moods and all. My mom finally got Miss E to put on a shirt and some pants, and got her sitting in a chair. She did play for all the parts of the game she was supposed to although she was clearly tired.

Now, I know that there were some parents there who watched me cater to her as she threw what can only be described as a spoiled brat fit, but this is how I have learned to never judge other parents. Miss E does not respond to conventional discipline. In fact, yelling at her, threatening her and applying more pressure to the situation makes things much worse. I often describe her and Peter as gasoline and fuel. They are both hotheaded and want to be in control and in charge of the situation, and oh you should hear some of the fights those two have had. So instead of doing what most parents would do, I catered to her, doing whatever was needed to get through the soccer game and then this afternoon and evening we talked about choices. And what happened. And how sitting on wet grass gives you wet underpants. And about how I am there to help her when the situation gets beyond her control and that next week, I get to pick her clothes for the game. No yelling, no screaming and I think in the future it will work.

So many parents want to control their children. Kids are not allowed to scream, yell, say the wrong thing, act out in a public place, etc. etc. etc.. But the fact is, children are their own people. You can't and shouldn't control them any more than you should control your spouse or your friends. Kids need to learn how to reason, make choices for themselves so they can control their own behavior, or in the case of Miss E today, learn when they are beyond the ability to control things for themselves and need to ask for help. I hate it when people say "you just need to force them to behave". Why would you want to do that? Why would you want to force anyone to behave a certain way? I just don't get it. Fortunately for me, I have Miss E, a child who - starting earlier than 2 - could not be forced, bribed, begged, cajoled, bullied or threatened into doing anything she didn't want to to do. Yes, it is frustrating at times but so much better in the end. She is learning how to make her own choices and down the road, that will benefit more than any spanking I ever could have given her.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Dance

Friday before Halloween  - both kids got to wear there costumes to school today and Mr. T had a Halloween party complete with pinata at his school. And candy. Always with the candy this time of year.  I sincerely hope that the kiddos are not yet old enough to notice us stealing their candy after they go to bed.

Miss E went to her first school dance tonight. The Harvest Hip Hop dance to be exact. Peter went with her and I was told it involved a DJ with a light package, glow in the dark necklaces, a couple hundred kids in costume dancing to the Black Eyed Peas and candy being thrown out to the crowd between songs. We actually weren’t going to take her to the dance thinking it was for older kids but another parent assured us there would be kindergartners there and sure enough there were. A bunch of kids from her class and soccer team were there and she even went up in front  of the crowd for the kindergarten part of the costume contest.  Sometimes I can't believe this is the same girl we had last year - last year she would not have gotten up in front of a crowd for any reason. This year, no problem. 

I’m glad we ended up taking her, she had a great time and it is fun to have stuff like this for her to do that is supervised and parent-friendly as well as.  We really wouldn’t take her to an event like this and drop her off but it was a great thing for her to do with Peter.  

So begins our Halloween weekend.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Growing Up

A few things happened today:

1) Miss E is being recruited for the kindergarten basket ball team. I'm not talking about being asked to play to fill a spot. The coach (who is also her soccer coach) has talked to Peter and I separately and e-mailed about it - he wants her specifically.

2) She traded Silly Bands on the bus today with another girl and now we need MORE Silly Bands. Somehow I thought 1 pack would be enough.

3) For some reason, those 2 things make me feel like she has suddenly aged a few years.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Today was a marathon of pick ups, drop offs and activities. Some of it due to poor planning (hello gas station during school drop offs) and some due to activities converging and some due to the inevitable difficulties of being married to a firefighter. Here's are look:

9:10 drop off Miss E at school
Stop for gas
Stop at store to get food and birthday present with Mr. T
9:45 drop Mr. T off at school 15 minutes late
10:00 Decide to give myself a break, not go into work, and head home. Spend 2 hours cleaning and drinking coffee alone in the house. Alone. In the house.
12:30 Pick up Mr. T - head home for lunch and rest time
2:20 Pick up Miss E - head home to change for gym
3:30 Gym class for Mr. T
4:00 Nana picks up Miss E from gym class so she doesn't have to go to birthday party with Mr. T and I this evening
4:30 Finish gym, head home to get changed for party
6:00 Birthday party at pizza place. Crazy. Tired 4 year olds everywhere.
7:40 Head up to Portland to pick up Miss E
8:40 Bed time. 1 hour and 40 minutes later than usual.

The evening thing was our biggest fiasco. It's hard to bring Miss E to birthday parties she isn't invited to (for various reasons in addition to the fact that it's rude), and most people assume that you have a parent home in the evening to watch siblings. Which is true for MOST PEOPLE. But not for us. Hence, I had to send Miss E up to my parents house. Now, she did have a great time helping Nana feed the kitty cats, making cupcakes, eating dinner and taking a bath but I hate getting the kids to bed so late. That is the one thing I have been super strict about as a parent about - sleep. When they were babies I was always home at nap time so they could sleep in their beds instead of out and about. Every night lights go out at 7. It's important to me that they get enough good restful sleep and having them get to bed this late on a school night kind of kills me. Especially after such a busy day. I  know they are getting older and this will happen more and more but still it was exhausting for all of us.

On a side note: We are officially a completely diaper and pull-up free house including overnight! Whoo hoo!! This is the first time in 6 years I have been free of them. True, for the last year or so Mr. T has only been wearing them at night but still, it feels good to be completely done.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

Mr. T actually got his hands in it this year! I think it's the first time he would touch the inside of a pumpkin.

Have you ever had to count the number of seeds inside a pumkin? We did. Miss E's science homework asked her to compare and contrast 2 pumpkins including counting their seeds. Well, I painstakingly sorted out all the seeds from one of them and counted them while she worked on hers. When I got to 500 (no joke) I told her to forget the homework we would just put "a lot" as our answer. Now I'm not sure if we are setting the right precedent here but the thought of helping her count out 500 seeds from her pumpkin at 6:45 at night seemed daunting. It was more fun to carve them anyway.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Take 2

Every year I try to figure out a way to keep the kids birthdays from spreading out into a week long celebration. It's not that I don't want to celebrate them, I certainly do, it's just that it gets exhausting and seems like too much to me. By the time you have the kids party, family party, and take treats to school for the class, it can spread over several days. And if the parties don't fall on the kids actual birthday, we do something special on that day too.

The problem is you don't really want to combine any of these events (except for the lucky occurrence of having one of the parties on the actual birthday) so short of skipping one, I haven't figured out how to simplify yet. This year we kind of did that by forgoing the kids party and going to the beach for the weekend. I'm not sure if taking all the kids on a weekend trip was really "simplifying" though. I've racked my brains about this and I think we are stuck. Skipping a kids party or the family party is not really a great choice and it does not work to combine the two. Treats need to be brought for the class. This year, Miss E's birthday fell on a Saturday, so we celebrated over the weekend and today was the day of treats for the class. Honestly this felt like the easiest birthday of the last 3 years because I only had one event to plan (beach trip) and the class treats and it was over in 3 days.

Today she took cupcakes to school. They have to be store bought which I kind of hate because the store bought ones are full of all kinds of crap but I guess I understand the rule.  By fortunate chance, today was my day to shelve books in the library which is right across the hall from her classroom so I was able to run over and snap this picture as they were passing out the cupcakes and getting ready to sing to her. I'm not sure why her face was so red. I asked her afterward if she was hot and she said no. I'm guessing she inherited her mother's love (not) of being the center of attention. Even on her birthday.

Also, in a side note, I kicked ass in fantasy football this week. Really. After losing for many weeks in a row, not only did I win my match up but scored more points than any other player in the league. And it wasn't a fluke - my team is just that good. OK, we'll have to see on that last one after a few more wins but it felt good to win. Really really good.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Swamp Tunnel

At the Oregon Coast Aquarium today and about 15 minutes in the visit I realized something. Taking 2 six year olds to an aquarium is a joy. A true joy. Taking a 3 and 4 year old? Not so much.  The 6 year olds were interested in everything. They had to be torn away from the touch tanks after about 25 minutes and they probably would have stayed an hour. They loved looking at the animals, learned a little about each of the exhibits, walked around outside in a light rain to see the seals and otters and in short, I could have spent all day there with them and come home happy.

Now, the 3 and 4 year old? Fussed, whined and complained. About the stroller and who was sitting where, when they had to walk they complained about that. They wanted snacks and water and more snacks and water. Outside was too windy and cold, and the rain. Oh my god the rain! How could it be raining? They didn't want wear their coats but wanted them on when they were cold. The water in the touch tank was too cold. Things were slimy. Whew. It was exhausting. Finally I put them both in the stroller, parked them in front of a fish tank and gave them each a packet of bunny crackers and a piece of string cheese and let them sit there while the big kids explored.  In a few years, they will get it too. To me this is one of the huge differences between first and second kids. If these two were my first, I would have pushed harder to get them to explore, enjoy it, look around. Now I am content to give in because I know it won't be like this in a year or two. They too will grow to be 6 and love the aquarium and we will spend all day with them running around looking at everything. Just not this year.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday

(A special thank you to my talented father -in-law for editing this photo for me.)

My darling daughter, the girl who made me a mother turned 6 today. 6! I can't believe it. It seems like yesterday I was laying in the hospital feeling like I had just been run over by a truck (side note to Bradley folks: you cannot relax through 2 days of natural birth) and Peter was walking around with our bright-eyed Miss E. Wow. What a six years it has been. A lifetime.

This morning Peter got off work early and was home by 7 with hot chocolate and a little pink doughnut for her and I gave her a necklace (see picture above) that she has been asking for for about 2 months. She was so happy and it was heart-warming to see her so thrilled on her birthday. It makes all of the hard work and effort put into planning a party worth it.

To celebrate her birthday we took my niece and nephew for the weekend and headed to the beach which is one of her favorite places. My parents also agreed to come along (thank goodness) and help out. So today was filled with the Marine Science Center, a 5 minute walk on a cold, rainy and windy beach, hot chocolate and french fries at Rogue, a Halloween video, swimming at the hotel and dinner at a restaurant on the bay. This was all followed by a princess party in our room.

And yes, this is the year I gave in on the princess stuff. I have been resisting all the Disney princess stuff for as long as I can but at this point a few things have happened: 1) she started Kindergarten with other girls who play with Disney princess stuff and Barbies and 2) she started asking for them. So, I have given in. At this point I think resistance would make all of it MORE interesting and fascinating to her and I do think it's important that she have what the other kids have to play with. However, I was pleasantly surprised when shopping for gifts that apparently, Disney is coming around as well. We ended up buying her two mini-doll houses, one was Snow White's bakery and the other was Belle's bookstore. That's right - 2 businesses owned by the princesses with no princes in sight. There are a couple of others in the series as well. She was thrilled and so appreciative. She kept saying how much she liked  her presents, and that they were the best ever for her birthday. To balance out the princess stuff she also got Battleship, Operation, a pile of books and an awesome talking globe of the world.

After cupcakes they got to watch a Halloween video and then bed time. And they all were asleep by 8:30 with no fussing or problems, which was much better than what I had been anticipating.

Happy Birthday to my Miss E.

Friday, October 22, 2010


This is not a very aesthetically pleasing picture but I didn't want to wake him up by cleaning his room or tidying the bed.

Mr. T is 4 right now. Nearly 4 1/2 and he just stopped napping and started what we call "rest time". Rest time for the kids is 1-2 hours in their rooms doing quiet activities - listening to stories on CD, reading books, Legos, playing with toys. For me it's time to get my lunch, have a breather, prep some dinner stuff and sit down to read or watch a TV show. We all need it, especially when Peter is working. However, lately, if I notice Mr. T is particularly quiet I will go down to check on him and see this. Lights on, sometimes a story going, and he is fast asleep, usually on his bed but sometimes (like today) on his floor. I quietly turn of the CD and the light, shut his door and let him sleep. And then he cries for about 30 minutes when he wakes up. EVERY SINGLE TIME. He did this the last year he napped too and it drove me crazy.

Tomorrow is Miss E's 6th birthday and I keep telling her to slow down and stop growing for a bit but she won't do it. She never listens to me.

The idea of a birthday party this year made me a bit panicky, we don't know anyone she is going to school with, I had no idea where to have it, and it just seemed too hard and stressful. Instead, we are kidnapping my darling niece and nephew and heading to the beach for a night with my parents. The beach is one of her favorite places, her cousins and grandparents are some of her favorite people and she loves staying in hotels. We are going to eat dinner at a restaurant, have a princess party in our hotel room, watch movies, go to the aquarium, swim at the hotel and play on the beach. We are all super excited and it feels like a vacation for Peter and I as well.

I cannot believe she is going to be 6! I have been a mother for six years. Tonight as I put her to bed I told her her birth story like I do every year the night before her birthday. Each year I can add a little more realistic detail in as she gets older, like about how much it hurt and how long it took and how her heart was so strong that it never faltered and how she stayed awake for the first 24 hours after she was born. Brining back those memories make it seem like it was only months ago instead of years when really, it was a lifetime ago. I have changed and grown so much in these last six years that it really is almost like starting another life. Miss E has been a true blessing for me, I could not have asked for, created or imagined a more perfect daughter for me. She keeps me on my toes, she is smart, kind, funny, caring and strong-willed. She makes me a better person and I hope some day if she reads this she knows how truly, truly loved and appreciated she is.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kindergarten Class

This is Miss E's kindergarten class at the pumpkin patch. Aren't they cute? I love how they tried to get them all lined up and looking at the camera at the same time. But then look what the boys are doing. Sigh... this is one of the reasons I worry about sending Mr. T to kindergarten next year.

At our school, all four of the kindergarten classes go to the pumpkin patch together. Which means about 80 - 100 kids, on buses and at the pumpkin patch, hmm.... I sent Peter on that field trip. He ended up having a great time and only had to take care of Miss E and 2 of her friends so it was pretty easy. Mr. T and I (after I recovered from a nice little morning migraine) ran errands to get ready for Miss E's birthday trip.

I really do love this picture. The kids are adorable. I love how the girls are all bunched in groups, the boys are being boys, and just look at her teacher. Isn't she sweet-looking?  She looks like she's about 22. Which she may be. However, despite the fact that she and I are having a very polite but firm on-going argument about Miss E's reading group, she seems to do a great job with the kids. It does seem like all my teachers were old in elementary school though. Peter remembers the same thing. Maybe we thought 22 was old at the time? Who knows. Miss E is happy and that is about all that matters.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flower and Grumpy

This is Miss E and her baby Flower. Flower has been with us for quite some time now and sometimes she lays in her crib for months at a time and other times she is out and about in her stroller. It's very adorable and Miss E is quite the little mama to her. When Flower is out and about, there are a lot of very intricate stories about her birth, and her current state of health. We also have a little baby carrier similar to a bjorn that Miss E wears her around in a lot. This is one of the toys we will have a hard time getting rid of when she is outgrown.

I am slowly recovering from being sick but have been GRUMPY today. Really really grumpy. And I am so trying not to be grumpy but that's how it goes. So, without further ado, I will introduce a little thing I like to call my "grumpy list". Usually if I write down most of the stuff I am feeling grumpy about, I either figure out a solution or realize how petty it is. I can't help it, writing stuff helps. All the time and with everything. I guess that is why I was an English major.

Today's Grumpy List:

1) Migraines. Enough said. (although the medication is a miracle)

2) A dryer that will only dry 1/2 load at a time, and squeaks while it's doing that. And you can't leave the house while it's going since you have to open the door every 10 minutes to push the clothes out of the crevasse between the drum and edge. But somehow it's still drying clothes so it doesn't qualify as "broken enough" to replace before Christmas. I am seriously tempted to nudge it over into the "totally broken" category.

3) Too much to do. Playing catch up from being sick, planning the most awesome beach birthday weekend ever for Miss E, getting house projects going again, keeping up with school/schedules.

4) My spouse. He's grumpy.

5) An unexercised, unwashed dog.

Alrighty then. That about sums it up. Whining is out of system and by tomorrow grumpiness will be as well. See you then!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Library Walk

Mr. T and I (or Peter -depending on who is on kids that day) have been heading to our library on Tuesday for preschool story time. There is this brick wall out front that the kids have walked on once a week for their entire lives. 7 years we have been coming to this library once a week and I think this is about the first picture I have of it. It's so amazing to see him progress from being a toddler who held my hand walking this, then a bigger toddler who didn't want to hold my hand but needed to, and now he is big enough to almost run on the whole thing and jump off the end. Time, could you please stand still for a little bit?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Through the Corn Maze

This morning I was still sick- sick enough that I stayed home from work, Peter got the kids up and ready for school and I took a bath, then sat on the couch. However, I was feeling better than the last few days and is was gorgeous outside so Peter and I decided to pick Miss E up from school early and head out to the pumpkin patch. I love going to the pumpkin patch, it's one of may favorite holiday activities all year. I like the smaller patches, but not too small they don't have some fun activities, and during the week is best so they aren't as crowded. This year we tried a new one out in McMinnville called Farmer John's and it was great. A corn maze, a little hay maze, nice pumpkin patch you didn't have to walk a mile to get to and the pumpkins were gorgeous - huge and round and orange.

The kids were thrilled and there was a moment while they were running us through the corn maze where Mr. T yelled out that Miss E was his best bud and she called back that he was her best friend and the sun was shining down and it was perfect. Sickness aside, stress aside, it was just sunshine and corn and my happy carefree family. And it made my heart swell. Those are the moments I wish I could somehow capture and save for days when things aren't so great, to put it all in perspective.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When Mama is Sick

      Mr. T wanted to help Peter paint the trim on the new windows - hence, washable red paint on a rock. Behind him Peter is painting the windows with real paint.

When Mama is Sick:

The house is messy
Laundry piles up
Daddy is cranky
The kids are needy
Backpacks do not have the correct contents

Yep. That about sums it up. Today I was sick sick sick, so sick that I just wanted to sit on the couch all day. I haven't been feeling great for the last few days but I also didn't slow down at all and eventually it caught up with me and let me tell you - it is not pleasant around here when I am sick. Last year I was bed-ridden with the flu and I finally had to force myself out of bed because the yelling and the dishes piling up was too much. This was not so bad -just a cold but still, not a pleasant time all around. And at first I couldn't figure out why. When I am gone for  a few days, things seem to function flawlessly and when I get home the house is clean. Sick for a few days? Things fall apart. I think it comes down to pre-planning. When I am gone for a trip, Peter has time to mentally prepare for it, meal plan, schedule some activities and get everything ready. When I am sick, it just happens. It's kind of like the difference for me between a planned 48 (Peter working an overtime shift which results in him being gone for 2 days) and an unplanned 48. However, even though I understand it, it still makes it pretty sucky when I am sick. So here's hoping it doesn't happen too often this winter - finger's crossed!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Soccer Fans

 Since my lovely sister Honore was in town this weekend, she brought her kiddos out to watch Miss E's soccer game. It was great to have family there to watch her play, and, as always, Miss E did a great job. I am completely impressed with her athletic abilities, I think because it was never that easy for me and it is for her. Not that she doesn't try, she does, it's just that she is built for sports. It's hard to explain but this is something we have seen since she was walking at age 10 months and doing her own car seat straps soon after that. I also love that she isn't afraid to get right in there after the ball, she is aggressive but not overly so, and focused on the field. It really is a joy to watch.

Side note:

Random conversation in the car today:

Miss E: What can I be when I grow up?

Me: Whatever you want to be.

Miss E: OK, I want to be a butterfly.

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Kitchen

                     (no, Uma is not drinking a beer, the kids are actually having demitasse cups
                                                   of ice - yes, we are fancy around here)

My mom finally had her kitchen remodeled and it is gorgeous! My sister and her family came up for the weekend and we all had dinner last night at my parents and saw the finished kitchen for the first time and it's huge! And beautiful! And it looks just like my mom. Her style I mean, not actually her.

I so enjoy these visits with my sister and her family. The kids are all this crazy group that hang out and play and fight and whine and cuddle. I love that they are growing up together like this, and I hope they continue to be close as they get older.

Tomorrow my brother in law is flying to Green Bay to watch his favorite team of all time play in their home stadium. My sister and mom and the kids are all coming to Ella's soccer game. And I think there is a pumpkin patch trip in the works. And sunshine. It's going to be a good weekend all around.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tinker Toy Madness

I was not feeling great today, so after we dropped Miss E off at school Mr. T and I just came home. Normally I try and do an activity or an errand or something to get him out of the house, but I really wasn't feeling it so home it was. While I drank coffee and took a shower, he built this tinker toy machine. According to him, it was a machine to crush crystals that he and Miss E had stolen from the goblins. Then it turned into a machine that crushed things and killed goblins (lots of talk about killing things lately - I think it's inevitbable with a 4 year old boy).  Then he would grab the machine and make a loud whirring sound to make it work. It actually was quite adorable. I love that we can still have unscheduled mornings at home to play. When the kids were little that was all we had and I loved days where we had things to do - classes, friends, even errands. But now that they are bigger and busy with school and activities, it feels like such a treat to just have some time to hang out at home with one of them doing nothing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tying Up The Bike

Today Mr. T spent quite a while this afternoon tying up his bike so it couldn't be ridden. In the picture he is recounting a long tale as to why he was doing that but to be honest, I don't remember it. I think it had something to do with goblins or gym class. Something like that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Today I called home from work about mid-day to talk to Mr. T, here's how it went:

Me: Hi Mr. T, it's Mommy, how was storytime at the library?

Mr. T: Good. Mommy guess what?

Me: What?

Mr. T: Daddy is teaching me how to make beer today - I'm helping him!

Oh, somehow I thought he would be a wee bit past 4 when he would first ustter those words. Mr. T was so proud to be the brewer's assistant and Miss E even took this picture of Peter mid-process. Now, if I can just keep Mr. T from announcing that at preschool.....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Preschool Art

The preschool that Mr. T goes to (and that Miss E attended for 2 years) is a parent co-op which means that each day in the classroom there is a teacher, an assistant and 2 or 3 parent helpers. It is part of your school "job" to parent-teach about 2-3 times a month. Now, this is our third year doing this and there have been times where the parent-teaching has been a HUGE pain. You have to find childcare for siblings, take time out of your work day and frankly somedays the classroom is chaotic and loud and crazy. Overall though, I have grown to love this time. Through parent-teaching I know all of the kids my children are going to school with, I know what they do during their school day and get to observe first-hand the teachers and classroom styles and how my kids really are in the classroom. I have learned how to talk to all sorts of kids and how to handle all kinds of different classroom issues. I have learned how to better TEACH my children and that has been a huge plus. 

Now that Miss E is going to grade school it is soooo different. Parents are not really welcome in the classroom, I don't know anything really about her teacher or how the classroom runs. I ask her questions and she answers them but it's not the same as being there. Peter was the first parent volunteer of the year in Kindergarten this morning and we were so excited to see how it went. But it turns out he mostly did administrative things - changing out bulletin boards, making copies, etc. We were both assuming it would be working with the kids and he was a bit disappointed that it wasn't. 

However, this morning while he was doing that, I had the pleasure of teaching in Mr. T's class for the first time this year and it was chaotic and joyful and I left knowing every kid's name and a little bit about their temperament and really seeing how Mr. T behaves in this classroom. Above is a picture of him doing an art project - they had powdered paint and a clear base and were shaking the powdered paint on the paper to mix colors. So messy but so fun. I know this is our last year of parent-teaching (and we are only doing it for one kid this year instead of two!) and I will miss it so much. It really has been the most positive start to their school careers I could have imagined. Loving teachers, interesting and changing curriculum and we get to be at the center of it with our kids. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Keeper of the Home

Sunday again and the kids are worn out. It has been a busy week - a fun week but a busy week. Yesterday I decided that we weren't going to leave the house today (except for Peter - he went to work). The kids and I stayed home for an imposed day of rest, cinnamon roll baking, laundry, cleaning and free play. Well, I watched football and cleaned, baked and washed - they built a fort. A completely awesome, fill-up-your-living-room fort which they promptly called "the haunted house" and then added on "the tunnel of doom" (blue sheet). This is one of the things I have learned in my 6 short years of motherhood- when it is time to take a break from schedules and life and spend a day at home in your pajamas.

Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is my role (and Peter's) as the keeper or makers of our home. I became the keeper of our home officially about 5 1/2 years ago but it's only 2 years ago that I really realized it and have embraced that role. Or tried to embrace the role -mostly I have been trying to figure out what it means.  As I read more and more articles and blogs on being a stay at home mom and creating a home it seems to me they all related back to the church. It almost seems like the religious right has the market cornered on things like grace and joy and morals and home-making. It is hard to find stuff out there that is not heavily Christian. However,  I loved this piece I found on a joyful home and have adapted it for non-religious purposes. Because really, all kids deserve a joyful and healthy home whether or not they are christian.

Adapted from

Our home will be a joyful place where:
-lessons are learned
-touch is received
-hurts are healed
-growth takes place
-memories are made
-hearts are formed
-meals are taken

As the makers of the home, we (Peter and I) have the power to create joy or bring harm.

In a harmful home:
-lessons are harsh
-touch is to be earned
-hurts are magnified
-growth is stunted
-memories made wish to be forgotten
-hearts are hidden
-meals are unhealthy or unfulfilling

When I read that, of course, I choose joy. A joyful home with all the gentleness and strength that is implied. When we choose joy we find a settledness, a quiet assurance and a safety that is passed on to our children. But when I really think about it, we also do things that create a harmful home. Not paying attention, snapping, being stressed or frustrated, slacking on each of our household responsibilities - all of these things lead us toward the harmful list of items. When that happens, as tonight when my daughter pointed out that I was cranky or my son asked for a hug while I was fixing dinner and I told him no, I try to catch myself and remember what is important? Getting dinner fixed exactly on schedule or stopping for 3 seconds to give Mr. T a hug? Or better yet, realizing that he wants attention and finding something he could to do help me cook.

When I look at the differences between a joyful house and harmful house, we are clearly more on the side of joy and the big difference is we WANT to be there. We are human and will do things are inadvertently harmful but as we are aware of the power our actions have over our home and children, we are slowly moving more and more solidly into having a graceful peaceful home.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rainy Saturday

Today was a day where the "1 picture a day" format was pretty difficult. We did a ton of stuff, my in-laws are in town visiting and it is really hard to choose just one picture from the many that I have.  In the end, after debating about who to include, what to include, I just went with the picture and event that stood out the most to me.

You guys - my girl played an hour of soccer in the pouring down rain. That's right. My 5 year old daughter, played an entire hour of soccer in the rain without complaining and scored 4 goals in the process. In fact the only power struggle we did have was I wanted to her to wear either a coat, or a long underwear top under her jersey and she was digging her heels in about wearing either of them. That girl can sense a power struggle a mile away and will almost always win them. I finally gave up about the clothing but once I pointed out that EVERY OTHER KID had a long-sleeved shirt or jacket on because it was freezing cold and raining she put one on under her shirt. And then she scored 4 goals. Not that we're keeping score or anything. I was super proud of her whole team for just being there and having a good time.

After that, it was rest time, a fire station tour so Peter could show his parents the new station, out to Ikea for shopping and dinner then home. Sprinkle in a run this morning for me, some shopping during rest time and I was a tired lady and the kids were completely worn out. By the time we left Ikea, Miss E was laying in the bottom of our shopping cart covered with a coat half-asleep.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Today was a super busy day with all four of us going different directions - I am still having a hard time getting used to the fact that sometimes all four of us will be in different places. This morning Mr. T went to school, Peter cleaned house, I went to work and Miss E went to play at a friends house. Remember yesterday when I was writing about the awesome group of women I met when Miss E was a baby? Well, my friend Amanda is one of them and her daughter and Miss E have known each other since they were in the womb, since Amanda and I met in our birthing class. Her kids and my kids have known each other all their lives which is pretty cool. She generously offered to take Miss E for a bit of play this morning while I was at work. When I got there to pick her up they were diligently making "spooky" Halloween decorations as only 5 year old girls can. I've said it before and I will say it again - I love my friends! They have made this parenthood thing sooooo much easier for me, and made me a better mother than I would have been on my own. I love their kids too. They are all a bunch of bright, interesting and sweet children who I truly enjoy being around.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Today my dear friend Suzy and her little girl Addy came over to play this morning, and I was thrilled. When I had Miss E, way back 6 years ago, I had the extraordinary luck to meet a group of moms that have become my best friends. They have helped me through the thicket of babyhood and toddlerhood and beyond. It has been a true blessing and has made me a better mother and wife than I would have been otherwise.

Spending this morning with Suzy and Addy reminded me of our early playgroup years when we would frequently visit in the mornings for coffee and muffins while the kids played around us. These are the sorts of friends where it wouldn't matter if your house was a mess or if you were in your pajamas still or if your kids were having a particularly cranky and anti-social day - in short, the very best kind. Suzy is someone I can always call when I am about to lose it with the kids or my husband and vent a bit. She is the one who says "Sarah, they're not broken. They're fine, you're doing fine." and talks me down from the ledge. She has been a wealth of information and support and friendship for the last six years. It's hard to ever tell her how much I appreciate that and value her friendship but hanging out for a morning, drinking coffee, eating snacks while Mr. T and Addy played together was the very nicest part of my day and as soon as she left, I thought "let's do that every Thursday."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Desk Sweet relief from the chaos. Yes, I made it to work today and due to the fact that I can get there anytime I want and I only have to remember to take 2 things (ipod and coffee) I made it there on time and prepared. Yeah me! It felt really good after the last two chaotic mornings. I love my job, I love that I can work when I want, as I want. It fits into our lives so nicely and allows me to make some extra money, wear clothes that aren't jeans and use my brain for more than figuring out how many servings of fruits and veggies the kids have had, or who needs what for school next week. It also gives Peter some time to take care of the kids - not weekend babysitting but really taking care of things. Things like school drop offs, pick ups, rest times, snacks, lunch, and dinner prep. All in all it works out pretty well.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In which it becomes apparent that my sh*t is not together.

Alrighty then. So last week was the week of blurry pictures, this week is so far the week of flakiness. This morning I had planned on going to work today, Peter was taking the kids. I had lined him out on schedule (drop off times, story times, pick up times) and a list of errands to be done. Then about 10 minutes before he was to leave, work called with a shift for him. All of a sudden he runs out the door and I am rushing around getting ready to be on kid duty all day. As we head out the door, I am grabbing all the library books to be returned, lists to be done, backpacks, and ushering the kids out. I lock the door and as it's closing I think - KEYS! but it's too late. We are standing on the front porch 5 minutes before school starts with no keys. 

Long story short, with no other choices, I grabbed the double stroller (which thankfully I haven't gotten rid of yet) and we all walk the mile and a half to school. Miss E was a trooper and walked the whole way even though I kept asking if she wanted to ride so she didn't get to school all tired out. We arrived  20 minutes late, which wouldn't have been a problem except today was the first day of reading groups. Reading groups! About which I, at week 3 of kindergarten, have been e-mail bickering with her teacher over Miss E's placement for the last week. I am not happy with her placement, the teacher knows it and then I show up late the first day of the groups and disrupt them. Oh yes, I felt terrible. And I apologized up and down about it but still... between bringing her to school yesterday when there was no school and then late today I look like a complete flake.

From there on out the best I can say is that today was a comedy of errors. We did end up getting into the house thanks to my sweet and kind mother who took time from her extraordinarily busy day to help me and the day proceeded on from there but it hasn't been pretty. Tomorrow I really am going to work and I don't think there is much I can do to screw that up. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pumpkin Field

Oh today started off with the best of intentions and plans...... Mr. T had his preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch and Miss E had school which meant that I was going to get to go alone with only him to the pumpkin patch! This is good because:

1) He needs and deserves one-on-one time

2) The pumpkin patch is a ridiculously miserable place to take 2 small children by yourself, even on a field trip. I did it 2 years in a row hauling Mr. T in a sling, dealing with a 2-3 year old Miss E all while trying to carry a diaper bag, the pumpkins and take pictures. And then it's rainy and muddy. Last year I decided no more. We were not heading tot he pumpkin patch under any circumstances without a 1:1 adult/kid ratio.

3) Miss E, being Miss E and the oldest kid, can sometimes have a tendency to make any situation that is not for or about her miserable for the rest of us. 

So, all was well, I would drop her off at school, Mr. T and I would head on our field trip and then we would pick her up. Until we got to school and found out there was no school for her class that day. Uh oh. No day care either because all other classes had school - just not her kindergarten. This is the sort of thing I usually don't screw up but here we were. She was pissed and I was.... well, in a nice way I was apprehensive. In a not so nice way, I almost felt like crying as I was envisioning the morning of her being rude and snotty to both of us and ruining Mr. T's school trip. (I'm not claiming to be mother of the year here, but I am honest). So, we carried on, changed plans, headed home to get her some boots (as she complained the whole way) and drove out to meet his class. On the way I reminded her of how fun her Pre-K pumpkin patch trip was last year and how special it was and how we were going to make sure Mr. T got the same thing. Then when we got there I asked if she would be the photographer and take photos of us. 

You know what? It was a fantastic trip. She was nothing but nice and polite and helpful. She took a tun of fun and creative pictures and Mr. T had fun with his friends and his teacher (he LOVES her) It was just a pleasant trip all around. I could not have been more proud of my two kiddos and you know what? I might change my declaration about the kid/adult ration and take them alone again. It was not hard. That is the beauty of your kids getting older. You miss the baby stuff and it seems like time is flying by but then there are moments like this that I look around and think, you know, this growing up stuff isn't so bad after all. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010


In our immediate family, September birthdays abound. I think there are about 5 or 6 in the month. My Dad has the dubious distinction of having one of the latest September birthdays which unfortunantly often means we are all late with our gifts. This weekend we were all at my sister's house to watch the Ducks/Stanford game on Saturday (at Autzen stadium- it was awesome) but also to hang out with family, and the kids got to see their cousins. Here my Dad is opening a late birthday present with the help of my darling niece Uma the morning after the game.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


We are about three weeks into soccer season now and I have figured out a  few things so far:

1) I do not have the clothes to watch soccer in Lake Oswego. Seriously. Most ladies are out there in skinny jeans and ballet flats or fancy yoga pants and ballet flats. I am out there in regular jeans and sneakers with my hair in a pony tail. I mean, come on, it's soccer in a park right? Sitting on grass? Having your 4 year old slide down your leg like a fire pole for an hour? And I have to look cute too? It's too much. Really ladies.

2) 4 year olds have no interest in sitting and watching their older sister play soccer for an hour. It's BORING. And, Mr. T has the attention span of a flea meaning everything I bring for him to do lasts about 2 minutes. The only thing he really wants to do is hold my heavy fancy camera and take pictures which is about the only thing he is not allowed to do. You see the conundrum here.

3) Watching your child play a team sport for the first time can be one of the most entertaining, heart-warming things ever!

Today Miss E scored her first goals in a game and it was awesome. Her first goal ever she took the ball at half field and dribbled it down to the goal, with a pack of kids chasing her, and still had the control to boot it in the goal. It was amazing. AMAZING. More exciting than any professional sports thing I have ever seen and as I sat there cheering for her as she ran down the field, hoping she got it in, it brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I was the mom on the soccer field crying because she was that proud her daughter scored a goal. I'm not sure I'M proud of that but there you go. It meant so much to Miss E! After that she scored another goal (pictured above - she had just booted that one in) and then told me she only wanted to score goals in games. Which a little bit turned the celebration into explaining that not all players on soccer teams get to kick goals every game and that it is more of a team sport..blah blah blah. But really, there is nothing like watching your child achieve something to make a mama's heart swell.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Monkey Bars

This evening we met some friends to play at a park and have a dinner picnic. Soon after we got there Miss E proceeded to go back and forth across these rings (both the swinging and static ones) about 100 times. Seriously. It was crazy and my friend and I commented on how athletic she is and how much arm strength she has until she came over and showed me her hands - blisters. 2 huge blisters. And I, without thinking, said "you have to stop going across the bars" to which she immediately replied "no, I don't" and walked over to get up again. While I was rapidly figuring how to handle that, she burst into tears as the pain hit. Then tears turned into screaming and I felt so bad for my little monkey. Ouch. 2 big fat blisters on her hand.