Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 3

#1 - I am VERY thankful for my fourth born, Bryson Charles.  He is brand new to this world and I am starting to enjoy each day with him.  He came into the world crying nonstop for two hours and spent the first month of his life letting us know he didn't think the outside world was so great...but he has really come into his own during the last month.  He's been smiling and when he does that he is so cute I could really just eat him up with a spoon.  I can't even handle the cuteness, it's way too much.  He's turned into this easy going baby and I'm still kind of shocked over it (but very happy!).  He's been a great sleeper too and the last two nights he has slept ten hours straight (from 8:30-6:30).  It's amazing.  Even when he doesn't do that though, he eats once in the middle of the night and goes back down so easily until morning.  I am very lucky when it comes to that.

Bryson is my last baby and I am trying to soak up every moment.  He is growing way too fast of course and is not even feeling like a newborn anymore.  He is nearly 16 pounds at two months old and fits snugly in 3-6 month clothes.  I want him to just stay little for a little longer!  He is determined to grow though, probably trying to keep up with his big siblings.  Jameson is a tank himself so I'm sure Bryson feels he's gotta catch up to his big brother as fast as he can ;).

Bryson is the perfect fit to our family.  The kids, especially the girls, are crazy about him.  The are great helpers and Bryson just adores their attention.  He's a very lucky baby with all the love for him in this house.  I feel that this little person completed our family and I'm so thankful for him.

#2 - Target (I started a theme of having one BIG thing to be thankful for and one smaller/silly thing that makes me happy).  So today it's Target that makes me happy.  Boy I love that store!  I could spend hours just browsing the aisles slowly.  They have everything you could ever want and then some...especially when it's Super Target and they carry groceries too!  There is a Target just five minutes from my house and I'm there a few times a week.  We use Target brand formula, diapers, bottle liners and our newest favorite find...Target brand salsa.  It is amazing.  Whenever I go I stock up and grab a few jars to keep in our fridge.  The kids love going to Target because usually Mommy can be convinced to get them icees at the end of the trip.  Oh and one of the best things about Target?  I have a Target debit card (which means I just use this special card that is hooked up to MY bank account and the money comes right out of there) and I automatically save 5% every time!  Yeah, it doesn't seem like a lot, but when you are there all the time like I am it really adds up.  I've saved hundreds of dollars from grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, clothes shopping, etc.

So.  Clearly Target makes me happy.  We went there today, which isn't as much fun when I have three kids to drag along with me.  I don't get to browse the clearance items or try to find deals.  But I did manage to go to the workout clothes section and grab a few things for myself.  I'm at the gym every day so Lord knows those will get good use!  And how great is it that after I grabbed those clothes I could go get formula, ziplock bags, a battery charger and a gallon of milk.  I mean, what other (classy) store can you do that in?!  I love my some Target and it makes me happy.

Day 2

#1 - My sister...because I told her that I would make her my thankful thing for today!!  Haha...but seriously, I am very thankful and happy to have Allison in my life.  Having a sister is great.  You have a built in girlfriend for life!  Every woman should be so lucky to have one.  I get to have two (but I will save the second sister for another day!).

My sister has gone through a lot in the last few years.  Being her BIG sister I feel protective of her of course and I hate that I live so far away and can't do any protecting.  I am excited for the day we will get to see each other on a regular basis and shop, get drinks, etc.  We have a lot of catching up to do!!  I'm lucky to have quite a few great memories with my sister.  She came to live with us for about three months right before I got pregnant with Serena.  We had way too much fun shopping all the time (Richard loved that!!) and eating Blasts from Sonic.  We literally had those nearly every night.  I remember Richard would go upstairs to put Calli to bed and Allison and I would sneak out the door and go to Sonic.

I could write pages and pages of memories, but I'll just leave it at that for now.  Allison is very special to me and although our lives are busy and we don't get to talk as much as we'd like, she is in my thoughts every day and I am so very grateful to call her my sister.

#2 - COFFEE!!

I haven't always been a big coffee drinker.  Up until last year I was just a mocha-from-Starbucks kinda girl.  Two Christmases ago I bought Richard a Keurig and after awhile I discovered the mocha k-cups.  Those were great!  Then, not long before I got pregnant with Bryson, I discovered the joy of regular coffee.  I had no idea I could add Splenda and creamers to it and it would taste amazing!!  I would literally go to bed at night thinking about how wonderful my hot cup of coffee was going to be in the morning.  During my pregnancy I pretty much gave up coffee because of my aversion to it.  After Bryson came I depended on coffee to get me through the day.  Sometimes when I get up to feed him at 2am I think about my wonderful cup of coffee that I will be drinking in just a few hours.  Sometimes it's the reason I get out of bed.  It might be silly, but it makes me happy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Day 1

Each morning when I wake up I think of two things that I am happy/thankful for.  Today (okay yesterday!) is the first day of this experiment.

I am happy and thankful for the opportunity to stay at home with my kids.  So many women would give anything to be home with their babies and I am lucky to be able to do it.  This one is especially important because so many days my children drive me crazy.  So many days I wonder why I bother.  Take this morning for example: I had chosen to be grateful for my job of being a mom.  I was determined to make it a good day.  I would play and read with my kids and I would take advantage of being a stay-at-home-mom.  We got up early just like every other day.  Right before we left to take Calli to school Jameson started in on the mother of all fits.  It was awful.  It lasted through the car ride and until we got back home.  I was so annoyed!  Here I had decided that today I would be happy about staying home with my kids and they were making me wish I could drop them off at daycare and go to work!  The day was not starting out well and it was only 8am.

Something else I am trying to work on: letting it go.  I am a control freak.  I need to control every situation, even the ones that are beyond my control.  So I am trying to ask myself "can I control the situation?" and if the answer is no then I (am supposed to) let it go.  This is easier said than done, but I tried to put it into practice this morning.  Jameson had thrown a fit and had displayed absolutely terrible behavior.  I was angry at him, but it was over.  Could I control the past and what had already happened?  No.  All I could do was learn for next time.  So...Let.It.Go.

Instead of staying in all day, I decided to take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for some fun.  I was grateful that I could entertain my kids by taking them to do something fun that they love...and grateful that I could go on a weekday morning when it's quiet and not crowded.

I'm grateful that I stay home so I can take Calli to school and pick her up every day and she doesn't have to take the bus or be in the care of someone else after school.  I'm grateful that I'm home to pack her lunch every morning so I know she is eating healthier (and cheaper!) food than what is served in the cafeteria.

I have difficult days staying home, just like every other SAHM does.  But I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I get to be here for all the smiles, the hugs, the kisses, the firsts and the moments.  And it's hard, but it's worth it.

I'm grateful/thankful for the ability to walk.  Exercise has become very important to me.  You can find me at the gym nearly every day.  I do a lot of cardio.  I am so thankful that I have my healthy legs to allow me to be active.

Running is difficult for me and does not come naturally.  One of the things I think about during a particularly long or difficult run is how I am thankful that I can even do it.  I am sure there are many people who wish they could even take steps, let alone run with the wind.  I am lucky to have my healthy body that allows me to keep fit.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Welcome Baby Bryson!

Bryson Charles was born on December 3rd, 2011 at 2:10am.  He weighed 8lbs, 4ozs and was 20 and 3/4 inches long.  All of my labors have been very different and this time around was no exception.  Once little Bryson decided he was ready to come into the world, boy was he ready!

I was just a day overdue, which is really not a big deal for me.  I was expecting to go many many days overdue if my last deliveries were any indication.  I was pretty determined to give birth on my own time and not be induced, but wasn't sure if I would have a choice.  My doctor had been testing my platelet levels for a few weeks and they were steadily decreasing.  Having low platelets can cause excessive bleeding after labor.  Doctors also won't give an epidural to a woman in labor if her counts are below a certain number.  I'm not sure exactly why, but it puts you at risk for spinal clots and can cause paralysis.  Basically, it's not a good thing.  As my counts started dropping I got really nervous.  First of all, I am totally anti-induction, but I knew that if there was a risk to my health or my baby's then there was no question that I would have it done.  But as the counts got lower I became concerned because they use pitocin with inductions and that makes the contractions so much more painful and if I couldn't have an epidural I didn't know how I would manage.

I had a checkup just a few days before my due date and my platelet level was fairly stable so we pushed on with no induction (I was also 3cm dilated, yay!).  I started having a few contractions here and there on my due date (December 1st).  I had been having Braxton Hicks since early in my second trimester, but for the first time I felt more than just a mild discomfort.  They were few and far between, but at least it meant my body was getting ready.  The next day was Friday and Calli had a winter party at her school that evening.  We were going to drop her off and then go over to a friend's house for our weekly game night.  At the last minute I decided I wasn't feeling very well and we decided to cancel.  I still took Calli and picked her up from school that night and when I got home I thought maybe my contractions were getting a little more painful.  I decided to go to bed and try and get some sleep.  I absolutely hate going into labor at night.  I had been up all day already and then would be up all night and the next day again and it wouldn't be easy.  I was hoping if I could get a few hours of sleep it would all be okay.

Of course I wasn't able to sleep and finally got out of bed around 11pm.  As I walked around my contractions were more painful and plentiful.  I texted my friend to see if she was awake (she was) and told her I thought I might be in labor.  I also told her that I wasn't sure though and I was totally second guessing myself about it.  My friend's husband is overseas and she has two young kids and I would have felt extremely guilty asking her to come over for a false alarm (really?!  A false alarm on the fourth baby?  You would think I would know these things by now!).  She told me if I was in pain it was probably best to be checked out.  So I went to wake Richard up and get everything together and wait for my friend to get there.  As we were waiting the contractions got stronger and really painful.  They were also closer than I thought (maybe 2-3 minutes apart).  Richard of course remained calm and composed...okay not really!!  As soon as my friend pulled up, we were off to the hospital.

We pulled up around midnight and I guess the nice thing about getting there in the middle of the night is that you don't have to fight for parking or hike a mile to get to the hospital.  Things had changed since I had been there last to have Serena and Jameson.  They had remodeled some of their labor and delivery unit.  Of course I hadn't pre-registered, but in my defense we were in the process of switching insurances so I didn't have all the information...then I just forgot to do it.  So we had to fill out a little paperwork and answer a few questions and by then I was in a lot of pain.  Finally they had Richard finish up and took me to triage (triage for labor...really?!?!  It's 2011!).  I had thoughts of going natural throughout my pregnancy.  I thought since it was my last baby I could try it.  I had my best labor and delivery with Serena when I labored at home with her throughout the day and got to the hospital being 7cm dilated.  I got there just in time for the epidural and thought about not getting it, but was ultimately too scared (now I realize just how smart that was!).

The pain was so intense that I told them right away that I wanted the epidural, but I also mentioned my low platelets.  So they took bloodwork immediately so we would know if I could have my epidural.  I was already 8cm dilated (yep, definitely in labor!) and asked for something to take the edge off the pain.  It felt like a really long time before I was moved from the triage area to my delivery room and they gave me something right before I was taken there.  At first I felt really good, but I think I just didn't have contractions for a little bit and that's why I wasn't in pain.

I was finally put into my room and the contractions came on strong again.  Let me tell you...when you are 8cm dilated and full on in labor there is nothing in the world short of an epidural that can "take the edge off" your pain.  I kept asking about my lab results and finally a nurse came in and told the other nurse in my room that the doctor had my results and they were "discussing it".  I knew right then that I would not be getting the epidural.  If my platelets were fine there would be no discussion, I would have been getting those pain meds at that moment.  And sure enough the doctor came in and told me the count was too low, I was risking being paralyzed, blah blah blah.  I'm pretty sure you know you're in a lot of pain when you hear risks like that and think "I don't even care, just give it to me!!"  I was told they could do some blood clotting test on my arm and if it clotted in an appropriate amount of time they might give me the epidural.  I barely remember this, but I do remember wondering why in the world they even bothered to do it.  I felt like they were just giving me the "maybe" option to make me feel better (it didn't).

The doctor told me he could break my water and the baby would probably come very quickly after that, but I was nervous because what if the baby didn't come quickly?  I knew contractions got even more intense (was that even possible!?) after the waters are broken and I couldn't imagine having to be in that pain for hours and hours.  I really didn't think I could do it.  Like I had a choice right?!  But I really just wanted to die...the pain was incredible and even though I knew it would be over eventually that wasn't much consolation.

Not long after telling me that option, my water broke on it's own.  Never have I understood what it means when a woman has the urge to push or can't stop pushing, but now I know!  It does make you feel a little better to be doing something productive during the contractions at least.  After about ten minutes of pushing the baby was out.  I had asked the doctor to just hold him/her up so we could see ourselves if it was a boy or a girl.  So that's what he did and I was shocked to see it was a BOY.  I love my Jameson, but I think I would have chosen to have another girl if I could have ;).  I remember calling my friend who was staying with my kids right after and telling her "it's a friggen boy".  We had been talking about it my whole pregnancy and I think we both felt it would be a boy, even though we were crossing our fingers for a girl.  (I was feeling a little guilty writing that since I'm sure Bryson will read it someday!  But it's not as if I don't love him the same and think he's wonderful and so wanted.  He is all those things and I couldn't imagine having a girl now.  But at the same time Bryson, let's face it: you are a male and you will never truly appreciate what I went through during your birth to bring you into the world since you will never be the one to push a child of your own out ;)).

After that delivery though I didn't really care which came out, as long as it was healthy.  It was hard to believe that it was only 2am and I had only been in the hospital for two hours!!  It felt like a lifetime.  After he was born the pain was gone and it was heaven.  It was kind of nice to be able to get up and walk immediately after.  When I had my epidural with Jameson my legs felt too numb and I hated it.  Plus he ended up in the NICU and I couldn't even see him until the numbness wore off, which took awhile.  But even given all that, I would have taken the epidural a million times over.  I am not sure who all these women are that say natural childbirth is so amazing, but I am not one of them.  There was no one there to give me a medal when I was done or even pat me on the back and say "great job".  So what's the point in feeling all the pain when I could have been blissfully unaware?  I'm just very glad that Bryson was my last because I'm pretty sure if he was my first we would only have one kid.

It took us awhile to decide on a name.  We didn't really have any boys names picked out and of course it ended up being a boy.  Everyone kept asking his name and I was stressing out trying to choose something.  I had used up all my favorites with the other three!!  I had heard the name Bryson a few years ago when I had a boy on my soccer team with that name.  I loved it and thought I'd use it if I had another boy someday.  Richard didn't really like the name though, but he finally came around.

We had a rough first week home with Bryson and he is kind of a cranky little thing, but I think he gets a little happier every day.  He didn't sleep well at night at all the first few days we were home.  He didn't like his basinett, he didn't want to co-sleep...we were at a loss.  Finally after a few days we tried to have him sleep in his bouncer seat.  I thought maybe he liked being more upright when he slept.  And that night he slept a four hour stretch, followed by another three.  It was amazing!!  Since then that's where he's been sleeping and will sleep anywhere from a 4-6 hour stretch.  I know that I eventually have to break him sleeping in there, but for now I just don't care.

Bryson is 2.5 weeks old now and I am trying to soak up every minute of his baby-ness.  He is my last so I want to enjoy this time with him.  I haven't been taking it very easy because who can rest with four kids and Christmas coming?!  But we've been having fun and adjusting to life with four kids.  I am excited for Jameson to have a brother and look forward to seeing them play together someday.  It worked out well for us to have two girls and then two boys.  They each have their own little playmate close to their age.  I just don't know what I'm going to do when Serena goes off to school and I am left with just the BOYS getting into mischief!  Lord help me :).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Boys will be boys!

Jameson Jameson Jameson.  Sometimes this kid cracks me up and sometimes he just plain infuriates me.

Today for example.  I knew I shouldn't have done it, but if you never give kids the chance to prove themselves then they'll never learn independence right?  We went to Target.  I told him he could walk if he stayed next to me and didn't run off.  I repeated myself many times and he always said "okay".  I don't bother telling this to Serena.  She is pretty much the child that everyone wishes they had and in fact announced to me as she was walking along "I'm staying next to the cart because I'm a good girl".  Yes you are.

Jameson not so much.  We turned down one of the wider, neverending aisles to take us from one side of the store clear to the other.  And that's when my mischievious son took off running, slowly at first and then faster and faster as he realized he was playing a game.  Looking back at me and laughing.  What was I to do?  Calling out to him only intensifies the game for him and ensures that he will move faster.  And I couldn't exactly push my cart and my pregnant belly crazily fast after him.  So I walked and watched as he turned a corner and disappeared.

I'm not much for panicking usually.  I figured he'd turn up.  And if someone took him they'd surely give him back after about a minute in his company.  It was just an annoyance more than anything.  And then as I was getting really worked up that I had to walk aimlessly around trying to find him, there he was.  He popped out of an aisle smiling and yelled "surprise".  I didn't know whether to smack him or laugh.  Okay, I was a little angry so I didn't laugh until later.  I just stuck him in the cart, which he didn't love, but maybe for next time he will remember (fat chance).

This little boy can be the most infuriating little sneak and the sweetest little cuddle bug.  He'll steal my phone when I'm not looking and hide behind the couch playing angry birds.  He will steal a toy from one of his sisters just because he can and run around laughing wildly while he is being chased.  He'll throw a block right at your head before you can even get the word "no" out of your mouth. (I'm pretty sure I've painted a picture of the most monstrous little boy with such little parental involvement that I should be ashamed of myself).  But the next minute he is holding his arms up to me wanting me to carry him upstairs for his nap.  He is speaking in his gibberishly cute voice trying to tell me something.  He's putting on his sister's shoes and dancing around the room to a Barbie boom box.  He's bringing Serena a tissue because she said she needed one.  He's lifting up my shirt to give the baby kisses and then trying to show me the baby in his belly.

How is it possible to love someone and yet be so frustrated with them at the same time?  I don't know.  I just know it is.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Welcome to the third trimester!

Yes, I have made it through two trimesters and only have one left to go.  Today marks 27 weeks (or six months if you'd rather).  December 1st.  Not that the baby will actually come on that day.  I am anticipating him/her to be a few days late at least.  But I also recognize that I have been more active and healthier with this pregnancy than I have with any of my others so maybe that will help?  All I know is, babies come when they are ready!!  I am just glad that I am due at the beginning of the month and not the end because I really wouldn't want a birthday that close to Christmas.

I have been feeling exceptionally good this time around, as far as pregnancies go.  I don't feel super tired and fatigued like I always have.  I really and truly think this is because I have stayed active.  Although I have given up running (thanks mostly to the brutal South Texas heat), I go to the gym 3-4 times a week and do an hour of cardio each time.  I also did yoga yesterday for the first time in about two months.  I am hoping to go more often now.  The class really made me aware of just how big I am getting and how unnatural it feels to carry this extra weight around my midsection!  It's getting hard to manuveur my body in certain ways and especially hard to pick things up (like the toys I am constantly getting off the floor!).  My kids don't always appreciate the bump and will plop down on my lap unexpectedly, jolting my hard stomach.  Ouch!

Jameson is becoming aware of the changes.  He is talking more and more these days, which is so fun.  When we ask him where the baby is he comes and lifts my shirt up to see my belly.  He used to lift his own shirt up when we asked about the baby, but I think he's come to realize he doesn't have a baby of his own there ;).  For her part, Serena keeps asking when the baby is coming.  That is pretty much the only question she has about the whole thing.  She seems pretty excited for another baby and has requested a sister.  Although when we were talking yesterday she came to the conclusion on her own that if we had a boy we'd have two boys and two girls and that would be fun!  I keep telling her we don't get to choose and either one is great.  And Calli can't wait to help take care of the baby.  She adores babies and I'm sure will be great with her new sister or brother as she always has been.  It's when they get older that they start to get on her nerves ;).

So just 91 days to go!  Not that I'm counting or anything.  Not that I'm envisioning a delicious margarita waiting for me immediately after giving birth.  Not that I'm wanting to get back in shape again or anything.  Of course, the thing I am most looking forward to is meeting our brand new little one.  The three most amazing moments in my life have been laying eyes on our children for the first time.  There is truly no other time that can compare to it.  I feel excited and lucky to get to experience it once more, but sad because I know it will be the last.

So for those that do not have Facebook, here is a semi recent photo of me.  I was 25 weeks pregnant!  Sorry it is terrible quality and one of those annoying self portraits taken in a mirror, but it was the best I could do!

A sad time for education in America

I have been feeling anxious lately.  I think that's the right word; it's hard to explain really.  I feel sad and angry that education is becoming such a low priority in America.  There are deep budget cuts to schools in every state and we are certainly feeling it here this year.  An entire first grade class at Calli's school was disbanded, sending the kids to different classrooms to increase the sizes of those classes and leaving a teacher without a job.  Now I find out that one of the two Gifted and Talented teachers at the school was let go this year due to budget cuts.  I spoke with this teacher last year and Calli spent one day a week in her enrichment program.  Now the school no longer offers that program.  Quite frankly, I'm offended that programs here such as public pre-k are still offered for children who don't speak english, but they are so quick to cut the programs to benefit children who need the extra challenges.
I felt a little frustrated when I found out that a lot of kids enter first grade not knowing how to read.  That is fine and dandy, but my daughter has been reading chapter books over the summer and her teacher said that being proficient in reading was basically the only requirement to go on to the second grade (great, can we skip her ahead now?).  Let me say, I have three more children yet to come into the education system.  Who knows what their abilities will be?  I even hesistate to say that because I see myself as an involved parent.  I help Calli with her homework, I read with her, we are always learning things.  I can't imagine doing the same things with the others and it not "working", but I guess you never know.  So my point is, I don't mean to be presumptuous about her academic abilities.  I don't mean to toot her horn over and over.  If I have a child who is slower one day, then I would advocate for them in just as big of a way.  But for now, I have a child who needs me to advocate for her developmental advantages.

I emailed the Gifted and Talented teacher this week, which is when I found out about the other teacher being let go (so sad because I met her and spoke with her a few times and she was wonderful).  I expressed my concerns over Calli scoring very high on the academic parts of the GT tests last year, but the creativity portions holding her back.  To be honest I wish they didn't make the creativity part so important to getting into the program.  Don't get me wrong, I think this is definitely an important life skill, but it also seems a bit ironic.  This school district makes kindergarteners sit at a desk for six hours a day (I left out time for their lunch and lonely recess, and perhaps a bit of free time in the classroom if they're lucky) and then they wonder why the kids aren't more creative.  Isn't this a bit hypocritical?  But I digress.  My point is, Calli scored exceptionally high on the academic portions, so shouldn't that seem to count for more?  Shouldn't that signal that she does need to be challenged in other ways outside her regular first grade classroom?  But the test givers don't see it that way.

I found out that (also due to budget cuts) they don't test kids every year for GT.  Calli would be skipping the test this year and able to do it in second grade.  The GT teacher ended up pulling Calli's files and seeing that she scored very high on the parts I had said and that she is willing to let her take the creativity portion again this month.  I am elated about this.  I will be able to try and work with her a little bit and encourage her to think outside the box.  I am also hoping that her only having to sit through a single test instead of hours upon hours of tests will be beneficial.  When all is said and done, maybe she still won't make it and I will have to come to terms with that and take it upon myself to encourage her learning and make sure she is not bored.

I have always felt that parental involvement in my childrens' education is really key.  I see so many parents sit back and just let whatever happens happen in the classroom.  I am always needing to know what is going on and what is being learned.  What more can be done.  How I can help in the classroom.  School is not just about dropping my daughter off and picking her up every day and education doesn't start and stop in the classroom.  I have stopped and thought so many times of homeschooling, but I can't.  There are social and life experiences I want my children to have that I can't give them.  But I also don't want Calli to be held behind academically while her peers catch up.  That's not fair to her and it doesn't do her any good in the long run.  What is a mother to do?

It is a true feeling of helplessness to sit by and watch as the education system goes down the drain.  I know I'm supposed to feel that "one person can make a difference" and "one vote really matters", but I have a hard time believing it.  I don't think that anything I do could change anybody's mind about cutting funds for education.  I'm sure I could join marches or write passionate letters to my leaders, but what good does it do?  I am helpless.  The only thing I can do is continue to be there for my daughter.  To talk with her school leaders and possibly make a difference there.  By getting her a retake on the GT test I feel I already have.  And that makes me feel good.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

Today my BIG six-year-old went off to her first day of first grade. Why does it feel like kindergarten was practice and now we are in the "real deal" for school?! It was definitely harder to say goodbye to her last year. After all, I had spent the last five years staying home with her and having her there almost 24/7 so of course that transition was hard. This time around she was the same old Calli as always: walked into her classroom without looking back and I had to ask her for a hug and a goodbye. Okay Mom!! You can leave now, you're embarrassing me!! - Her true thoughts I'm sure!!
Her teacher seems very nice this year. I got to go to her school last Thursday for the meet-the-teacher orientation. Her teacher is Mrs. Berger and she is older and has been teaching for a long time and teaching specifically first grade for ten years.  I think Calli will do well this year, but I am a little worried she might get bored. I guess a lot of kids come into the first grade not knowing how to read or knowing just a little bit and Calli has been reading chapter books this whole summer. I'm pretty sure she already meets the requirements to go on to second grade, but what can ya do?

Drop off this morning was an absolute nightmare. We walked to school last year, eliminating any time spent sitting in traffic. I forgot that everyone and their mother and their aunt and their second cousin twice removed likes to see their kids off to school on the first day. And indoor schools are so very VERY inconvienant. Calli's classroom is in the very front of the school, closest to the road. It was a new addition they built a few years ago when the school started to get overcrowded. I guess it became the first grade wing. It has a door leading in to it, but do you think that is open in the morning? No because that would make too much sense. Instead the kids have to walk through the front of the school building and Calli will have to add an additional five minutes to get to her classroom on time after just walking through the front doors. It is ridiculous!! I am also going to have to walk her for the first few days at least to make sure she knows where she is going. There are all kinds of crazy twists and turns and she's not familiar with it yet. Again, would it be terribly hard to open up that door and let us in through there...her classroom is mere steps from that door. Indoor schools...not a fan!!

So now it is drawing close to picking her up. Instead of being released at 2:30pm as she was in kindergarten she will get out at 2:45pm. I am wondering what traffic will be like. It was pretty easy last year because I left early and the cars weren't backed up yet. Now I will be getting there right in the thick of the mess. We will probably be figuring out a meeting place in a few weeks so I don't have to deal with all of it. But for now I'll walk into the school to get her.

I am anxious to hear about her day. My morning was spent in a scattered state of mind. I wasn't expecting quite that much commotion at school drop off so that threw me off. I took the little ones to the gym right after and then we played in the park for awhile after. We came home and ate lunch immediately (I completely forgot to feed myself breakfast!!) and then it was time for Jameson's nap and a shower for me. I finally got a few minutes to sit down, but then here I am blogging about it!

I made the mistake of taking Calli (and Serena and Jameson) to McDonalds for ice cream after her first day of kindergarten so now the little miss thinks that it is a tradition. She has been asking if we are going to go so what can I say except yes :). Here's looking forward to a great year...did I mention I signed up to be Room Mom?!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Winding down

Well we have successfully made it through another summer.  Although, I'm pretty sure the weather Gods are laughing at me as they rub their evil hands together and plot two more months of hot hot HOT temperatures.  I guess what I mean is that we have survived summer vacation from school.  Officially it was my first one and Calli will be going into first grade in just about two weeks.  It does not shock me that we haven't heard a word from her school about a back-to-school night or meeting the teachers, etc.  I guess bad/last minute communication is just how they roll.  I am really hoping that Calli gets a great first grade teacher.  I will admit, I had my reservations about sending her to kindergarten here, especially since it's not mandatory, but it worked out better than I could have imagined because she had a great teacher.  She has spent her summer reading many books, faster than I can check them out of the library.  I have felt like she needs to be more challenged by her reading lately so I went ahead and bought her a couple of my favorite childhood chapter books: Laura and the Big House (by Laura Ingalls Wilder) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I am trying to teach her now that books can be enjoyed over a period of time and don't necessarily need to be devoured in one sitting.  These books are longer with more words on the pages and less pictures, so she is reading a chapter or two at a time.  She says she is enjoying the book and I'm glad for that.  Book worms are the best!!

Calli going back to school is very bittersweet and probably more bitter than sweet at this point.  Putting Jameson in a toddler bed at the beginning of this summer was the best decision ever.  The kids have been sleeping later than they ever have.  They usually get up around 7am and all go downstairs together to start painting or reading or (eek!) playing with my phone on the counter.  Meanwhile I get to enjoy an extra thirty minutes of sleep or lounge time.  It's so nice to wake up slowly instead of forcing myself out of bed to be somewhere.  Which is what the case will be starting August 22nd.  Have I mentioned what a terrible idea I think it is that elementary schools start at 7:45am?!!  Gone will be the days of lazy mornings, which I appreciate all the much more being pregnant.  So yes, back to school time is bitter indeed.

Soon it'll be just my littles and me again.  It is easier to find things to do for their ages, rather than having to find things that entertain a six-year-old and a two-year-old (Serena can really go either way).  And it won't be long before there's a new brother or sister to play with.  Sixteen weeks to go, I'm counting down.  I can't wait to meet this new little family member that will make us complete.  I am clueless as to whether I am carrying a boy or a girl; I don't believe in "instinct".  I've got a 50/50 chance of it being either and there are positives to both.  All I want is for him/her to be 100% healthy.  I'm not sure what to expect this time around to be honest.  Jameson's first few days in the hospital were nothing like I expected.  I know my odds of having that happen again are slim, but I guess you never know.  Since he was my latest baby I have to compare the labor/delivery to, I can barely remember how it goes when the baby stays with you instead of being in the NICU.

Farewell summer.  If you could take your weather with you that would be FABULOUS too.  I have no intention of wearing flip flops in October...I'm sure you have other God forsaken plans.  I'm over sweating and sunburns.  I'd like to take a nice jog (or ya know, just walk from my car to the store) outside without keeling over and dying.  Most of all I'd like to put on a pair of pants and maybe a jacket...drink some hot coffee and snuggle up with a blanket.  I'm pretty sure we deserve the coldest winter EVER so if you could make that happen, it would be awesome!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


This summer has been crazy busy for us.  After Calli was out of school I waited about two weeks to get the activities going, but ever since we have been going nonstop!!

The girls have been in swim lessons at the YMCA.  I am so grateful for this because I can take Jameson to the childcare there while I head out to the pool with them.  Calli has lessons Monday-Thursday from 10:45-11:30 and Serena has them Tuesdays/Thursdays from 11-11:30.  I have to actually get in the pool with her because they are Mommy and Me lessons.  She has really excelled in this short amount of time and I am so glad that I signed her up.  Ever since Serena was an infant taking her first bath she has hated the water.  Finally when she was about 1.5 she realized it wasn't the worst thing in the world, especially considering we live in the hottest place EVER!!  Nonetheless she was still intimidated by the big pools and preferred baby pools or running in the sprinklers.  She is now completely over any fear she had and loves to go swimming.  She is always disappointed on Mondays and Wednesdays when it's just Calli's turn because she wants to get in the pool.  She will even jump into me and let me catch her!  And the instructor has us tie a noodle around them for part of the class and they can float on their own.  At this point Serena lets me know that she can do it herself and she doesn't need me!  This prompted me to sign her up for preschool swim lessons starting next week.  So she will get to go Monday-Thursday for two weeks for 1/2 hour sessions and I don't have to get in the pool with her.  I am so excited because this is such a huge step for my shy little Serena.  I can't get over how much she has grown and changed in the last year!

And Calli has done amazing in her swim lessons too.  She started the class being able to doggy paddle and hold herself above water for short periods of time.  She has been learning how to do the proper freestyle swimming strokes and even a butterfly stroke.  She has learned how to hold her breath for a much longer period of time and retrieve the dive rings from the bottom of the pool.  Instead of just doggy paddling she can swim with her face in the water doing the proper swim strokes.  She still has lots of practice to do but I'm confident that these swim lessons have been enough and all she needs is practice.

The girls are also taking dance once a week.  Luckily I was able to get classes that are back to back so I only have to make the trip to the studio one day a week.  Poor Jameson gets a little bored being there for an hour and forty-five minutes, but what can ya do?  He does enjoy watching a hip hop class in one of the other classrooms.  He will sit by the open door, sitting completely still, totally enthralled by the dancing.  The girls have been enjoying their classes and once again, Serena has totally surprised me.  She is so good at listening and following the teacher's instructions and has told me that she really loves her dance class.

And lastly, we have soccer!  So far they've had two games and Calli is still my soccer star.  She's scored a few goals and just has fun.  Serena is still getting the hang of it.  She tells me that she likes it, but playing at this age is so difficult.  There are way too many other kids on the team and parents constantly interferring and it makes it hard to see what's going on.  The ball goes out  so often and then it takes a really long time for them to get it in play again so there's not a whole lot of action.  Serena has actually done better than Calli did in her first games.  I remember Calli would just get out there and kind of run after the big pack of people and not really know what to do.  Serena will get in there sometimes and touch the ball.  She did almost score a goal her last game!  It's super hot though, even at 9:00 in the morning so I know that doesn't help.  I am thankful at least that the girls have the 8:00 and 9:00am game time slots.  I think we would all die if it was any later!

Swimming, dance, soccer, friends, movies and all the other day to day chores make me one very busy Mama lately.  I'm not complaining though; I would rather be on the move than sitting at home listening to my kids bicker all day.  I can't believe Calli will be starting school again in just over a month!  They just posted the class supply lists online.  It sure is sneaking up fast.  I can't say I am thrilled to have her going back.  I think the elementary school hours here are ridiculous.  The kids have been really good about getting up on their own in the mornings and I can sleep/lie in bed until 7:15am!  But no more come August 22nd; I will be waking up at 6:30am to get everyone ready.  And then I get to drop everything and wake Jameson up from his nap to pick Calli up at 2:30pm.  I don't know who thought of these school hours, but they are just awful!  I think the earlier hours are better suited for the older kids and the later hours for the younger ones.  Instead, the high schools go to school around 9am and get out after 4pm!!  Can you imagine?  If you have after school activities you are not home until 6-7pm, at which point you have to eat dinner and cram all your homework in before going to bed.  I'm guessing there's not a lot of high schoolers who can have jobs around here with awful school hours like that.  But I digress.

As always, I'm rushing off to it's swim lessons again.  Next week Calli has a soccer camp at the YMCA and Serena will start her preschool swim lessons.  I'm happy I won't have to get in the pool with her at least ;).  Busy kids are happy kids and, more importantly, TIRED here's to them getting a GREAT night's sleep!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Serena's First Soccer Game!!

Serena is my shy little girl.  She is by far the most reserved of all my children.  To say she has come out of her shell A LOT in the last two years is an understatement.  She has gone from this clingy little baby who wouldn't leave my side to a little girl who feels comfortable branching out on her own.  I did not have high expectations for soccer when I signed her up.  She had her first practice two weeks ago and although she was hesitant to get out there by herself, she did it.  And you know what else?  She didn't even look over at me once to make sure I was still there.  She was so intent and focused on listening to the coach and playing soccer that I think she surprised herself and actually had a good time.  Despite that experience and another positive practice Friday evening, I still wasn't sure what to expect for her first game.

I shouldn't have worried though because she went out on that field and did everything I expected and more.  All I was hoping is that she would get out there, maybe run around a little and just enjoy herself.  She actually touched the ball a few times and even scored a goal (in the wrong one of course!) for the last play of the game.  The funny thing is, despite Calli being my outgoing little soccer star, Serena did so much better in her first game than Calli did in hers.  I just could not be more proud of my little Serena and if you have known her personality at all in the last few years then you know why I am so happy.  I thought I was in for major social battles with her when it came to playing soccer, dance, going to school, etc.  So far she surprises me more every day in the best way possible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Jameson is TWO!

Our little boy turned TWO a couple weeks ago.  Where has the time gone?!  He has grown from a tiny baby into a big boy.  He now weighs 32 pounds and is 38 inches: the average height of a three-year-old!  I look at him and don't see many of his baby features left.  He may be a toddler, but he looks more and more like a little boy every day.

We had a great party and were able to celebrate with some relatives who were in town.  We rented a big water slide for the kids to play on, although the birthday boy wasn't too interested in it himself.  The older kids and some of the adults had a fabulous time though!  We stuffed ourselves with bbq and cake and just had a fantastic day.

Pinata time!

 My birthday boy and me!
 All the presents
 Time for cake!  Jameson was not thrilled to be the center of attention and started crying when we all sang.  But he did enjoy eating the cake!
 Not my best effort as far as cakes go, but it was a crazy busy week and it was good enough for a two-year-old :)
 June 2nd is also Richard's Oma's birthday so I made her a little cake for herself.  I actually like this one better than the Cars one!
 The birthday decorations

Monday, June 6, 2011

Baby #4

So here we are, expecting our fourth baby.  It's exciting and sad because I know it's the last.  I'm not as nervous as I had been with any of the others.  I'm pretty sure no one is an expert when it comes to pregnancy/newborns, but I feel confident that I'm as close as you can get.  I know what to expect and what will be unexpected.  It'll be hard at first, but it's always hard at first.  I still maintain that going from no kids to one kid was the hardest transition.  Going from one to two was so much easier than everyone told me and going from two to three was tough only because my youngest were so close in age.  But now fast forward, two years later and it went by so fast.  That's just how it goes.  Enjoy it while it lasts, right?  We'll also finally get to spread the birthdays out a bit as this one will come in December.  A fellow winter baby for me!!  I love it.  I am not, however, loving being pregnant.  I'm counting the weeks (25 left!!) until I can raise my margarita glass again and have my body back.  I am determined not to let myself go as much as I did with my last three.  I ate tons of junk and didn't do one bit of exercise.  This time around I am working out 2-3 times a week and also doing yoga.  I am running a little still and completed a 5k on Saturday.  I.WILL.NOT.BLOW.UP.LIKE.A.BALLOON.AGAIN!!!  And it will be easier to lose the weight this time around.  At least, I hope it will.

The girls are excited to have a new baby in the family.  Serena has requested a little sister and keeps asking when my baby is going to come out.  We won't be finding out the sex this time and I am so excited for that.  So far all our tests have come back great and I just pray that everything stays on this path.  A boring pregnancy would be a relief after what we went through with Jameson.

So there you have it.  A new little person joining our family late this year.  We can't wait!!

Bragging Rights

I am now the proud mother of a first grader!  How did that happen?  I'm not quite sure and I'm still trying to convince Calli to go to kindergarten again next year.  But, alas, she is all ready for the first grade.  I was driving her to school on Thursday and told her it was her last day of school.  My intelligent, highly movitivated daughter responded with "yep!  And tomorrow we can start the first grade summer projects!"
Slow down, kid, slow down.

I'm not ready for her to grow up.  The end of kindergarten is feeling very emotional for me.  It didn't really hit me until the night before the last day.  It felt like the night before her first day all over again.  I took her to school with a heavy heart, knowing that would be the last time she would enter that building as a kindergartener.  I know she has much of her childhood still in front of her, but this feels like a big milestone.  It's almost like kindergarten doesn't count, even though it counts more nowadays then it ever did when I was a kid.  Still, it is a place for beginnings and foundations.  It's where they learn simple words and concepts, color pictures and read picture books.  It's where just trying your best means that you are succeeding.  First grade seems like a whole different ballgame.  Now it's time to get serious about school and homework.  Maybe I'm not ready!!

Calli is ready, however.  I had the pleasure of an end of the year conference with her teacher (whom I really will miss!!) and she had nothing but fabulous things to say about Calli.  That girl will sail through first grade and excel in school.  What more could I ask?  Never did her teacher have to say so much as a harsh word to her; Calli's behavior was perfect throughout the year.  She is also smart,  beyond the kindergarten level.  She is reading somewhere between a 1st-2nd grade level, counts practically higher than I can and does simple addition and subtraction.  She is the best writer in the class!!  She was tested for the Gifted and Talented program a few months ago and although she didn't make it (less than 10% of the school does), she scored a 97% on reading and a 99% on math.  She is extremely academically focused in class and expects the best from herself.  She may be a perfectionist (although I have no idea where she gets that from!).  Two of the best things her teacher told me:
1) Calli keeps herself busy.  Kids who finish their work quickly tend to get bored in class, but Calli would find work for herself.  I found that amazing.
2) Calli is 100% focused on her schoolwork while in class, but she is very social on the playground and makes the right friends.  She sees the troublemakers and all the fun they are having and instead of joining in like most kids might, she goes the other way.  She avoids them and avoids peer pressure, which is a trait most children don't exhibit until they are older.

Needless to say, we could not be prouder of our little scholar.  Her teacher told me she more than deserves a break and isn't worried Calli will forget things over the summer.  Calli picks things up so quickly that she's sure to succeed when school is back in session in two months.

I struggle wondering what the right decisions are when it comes to the school system.  It seems that the only place education is going is down.  Budget crisis' abound everywhere and class sizes are only increasing (they will be going up to 24 next year for us).  I wonder if the system will fail my children someday?  Is it the right thing to send them?  And then I look at how much Calli learned this past year (which is an understatement to say the least) and I know that I could not have taught her all that myself.  With Calli I am lucky that she has the driven personality to succeed because she will always demand more from herself and others.

There are also a few things that I truly believe make a difference in a child's education.  The first is being a stay at home parent.  I know this opportunity is not available to all and I feel so lucky that I am able to take advantage.  I have never been an advocate for preschool and Calli's kindergarten year has strengthened my position even more.  She did not attend any kind of formal preschool and yet was one of the smartest kids in her class.  I read with her, I spend time with her, I do her homework with her.  Just these simple things that you don't really think make a difference really do.  I saw firsthand the struggles some of her peers had and know they had two working parents.  Calli was able to know that I was there for her anytime she needed it.  I packed her lunch  I came right down to the school to pick her up if she was sick.  I attended all her school functions.  It matters more than you think.

Another thing I believe is that parental involvement in education is key.  I kept up emails with her teacher, I requested conferences throughout the year, even when they weren't necessary.  Even when there was no specific reason; I just wanted to hear how she was doing.  My daughter was spending eight hours a day in someone else's care for the first time in her life and I needed to know what was going on.  I walked in to pick her up in front of the school every day, dropped her off each morning.  I was there for every single kindergarten hoe-down, class party, art fair and student-lead conference.  I volunteered in her classroom, tutoring a few of her classmates once a week.  I brought in extra glue bottles and crayons for those whose parents sent nothing.  I was involved because I care.  Too many parents think those things don't matter and they do.

Not only has Calli learned a lot this last school year, but clearly I have as well.  I wonder if I will always feel this sentimental about the last day of kindergarten with all my children or if it's because Calli is the first.  My baby is growing up!!  And I am so happy she is on the right path so far :).  First grade, here we come!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

He makes a beautiful princess!

This is my son.  In a Snow White dress that he insisted on wearing.  And the blackmail photos just keep adding up!

Chilling thoughts

Do you know why I like the cold?  Aside from my theory that your birth season tends to dictate the type of weather you enjoy, I think I may realize why I prefer my cold weather: it makes me feel alive.  There is nothing like that icy wind piercing through your body to make you well aware of your reality.  I was leaving yoga today with this renewed sense of self (yoga will do that to you, honest!) and the day was deathly cold.  We are talking wind chills in the teens!  As a particularly strong wind gust cut through my body I was just filled with thankfulness at being here.  At being alive and healthy enough to feel this weather, to appreciate everything I have been given.

There are two particular things that make me feel this way: the cold weather and a good run.  When I'm out running through nature (or even just on a treadmill) I have a whole new appreciation for the world.  Once I have completed my run I feel so alive, like I could take on anything and win.  I think they call these endorphins, but I call it fantastic!  And then there are those runs (usually in a race) where I don't think I will be able to go another step and it takes everything I have to put one foot in front of the other.  At those moments I am so thankful for the gift I have been given to simply run (or even walk).  God forbid I ever lose this ability, I will be able to look back on these times and remember what it felt like to be alive.

My sister lost a close friend over the weekend in a way that makes you realize that you never know when it is going to be your time to go.  What if I dropped my child off at school today and that was the last time I would ever see her, would I be happy with the way I left things?  What if my baby never woke from his nap, would I feel satisfied that he left the world loved?  What if something is wrong with me inside and it's my time?!  These are morbid thoughts, but let's not pretend that we don't all have them.  I often feel like a failure as a mother because I spend a lot of my day yelling at  gently disciplining my children for one thing or another.  I never feel like I spend enough time showing them my love, but it is infinite.  I hope that will speak through even if I am not the best at showing it all of the time.

So the next time you get ready to complain about the bitter chill in the air, instead be thankful that you are alive to feel it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Race Photos

To see our race photos follow go here.  That should take you to the 5th page of pictures and you can see us in photos 185-199...can you spot us in the later photos in the background?!

Rodeo Time!!

I'm not a fan of rodeos, but I have to admit we had a great day there on Saturday.  For the last six years they have done a race on the first Saturday of the rodeo.  Last year I ran the four miler and it was a lot of fun.  This year I decided it would be fun if we did the walking portion (1.6 miles) as a family.  I had to pay a $40 (total) entry fee for Richard and me, which got us entry into the "race", t-shirts and some samples in our goody bag.  The race ended on the rodeo grounds so we also got free admission for the day.  This was a fantastic deal, as I didn't even have to pay for any of the kids to participate in the race and they got in free to the grounds as well.  We also received two complimentary grounds tickets in our packets and I now have eight total (I received six when I signed the kids up for the Simon Mall Kidgets Club).  We will definitely be taking advantage of these passes again next weekend.

The morning started out bitterly cold.  The temperature was in the 20s, but there was a nasty wind that dropped that down into the teens.  I don't have mittens or gloves for anyone in the family!!  We bundled everyone up in lots of layers and brought blankets for Serena and Jameson since they would be sitting in the stroller the whole time.  Serena was a star: she sat in the stroller all comfy and cozy under her blanket and didn't make a peep the whole time.  My other two were not as quiet!  Jameson, being the little BOY he is, refused to keep his hands under the blanket and pretty much screamed the entire walk because they were cold.  I did feel very first.  After awhile it got on my nerves because if he just would have kept his hands in his blanket, he could have been fine.

So the walk was definitely not the highlight of the day, but having competed in last year's race I knew there was some great food and Starbucks waiting for us at the end!!  We got some sausage breakfast tacos, biscuits and gravy and two cups of hot Starbucks coffee each.  Jameson had finally calmed down, but it was still very cold and the grounds were barely alive yet.  Most of the exhibits didn't open until 10am and it was only 9:30am.  We were able to duck into a warm building where the history of the rodeo was displayed and we got to watch some of the rodeo competition from years past on a TV.  Finally at 10am we went to get Calli her much anticipated hot chocolate and decided to go into the Coliseum where all the shopping was.  We wandered around there for a bit and when we emerged the temperatures were finally heating up.

The kids got to ride ponies and had a blast.  Jameson wasn't so sure at first, but by the end of the ride he was smiling away.  Next we were flagged down by someone asking if we wanted the kids to join the Rodeo Kids Club and get a free shirt.  The word "free" is music to my ears so how could we say no?!  Next we noticed a line near some food and found out it was free samples.  The samples were plentiful, starting with Sunny Delight and continuing with bags of chips, juices, bread with olive oil, popcorn, graham crackers with chocolate whipped cream, tortillas with peanut butter and jelly, fruit cups and other things I can't even remember.  Basically we ate lunch from just the samples and I was overjoyed with the knowledge that we would not have to spend $50 on disgusting fair food for lunch!

Calli climbed the rock wall next and this is always a thrill for her.  They have one at our YMCA and every time we go she insists on climbing.  She has gotten really good and can outclimb kids and even adults (I am sure she could beat me!!).  She got her harness on and just raced right up to the top.  We could hear the comments from other parents and amazement that she could do it being just five-years-old.

HEB had a cute little event this year.  In the past years they have had jumphouses for the kids to play in, but this year they had sort of an interactive farm.  There was a little maze kids ran around and started out by planting a seed.  Then they collected the fruit/veggies that they grew, milked a cow, collected some wool, fed the chickens and got eggs, and finally sold all they had gathered at the market.  They got some real apple slices and celery at the end as well as a bag with a seed they could take home and grow.

We visited the Simon Mall Kidgets Club booth and the kids got free cowboy hats, kerchiefs and badges as well as some balloon animals.  Then we saw Shamu (we had seen the Pillsbury Doughboy not long before too).  We also visited the Army booth so Calli could compete in the push-up contest.  I can't remember exactly how many she did, but I think it was around fifteen.  The guy put her name up on the board, which was nice and she also got some goodies (a pencil, pen, pin, etc.).

Of course we had to go to the kids' most anticipated part of the rodeo: the carnival.  This place is a huge gripe of mine because they just rip you off so much.  Tickets were $1 each and each ride took 3-4 tickets.  A wristband was $25, but we decided to skip it that day and do it the next time.  Instead I got twenty tickets and luckily Jameson was sleeping during this part so the girls were able to use them all up and do three rides apiece.  The first one was the Merry-Go-Round, which Serena had been looking forward to all day.  Then the girls went through some short play gym, where they climbed up a rope ladder, crossed a bridge, went down a slide and then waded through the ball pit to the end.  Finally they decided to go on a small roller coaster.  Serena was actually able to ride with Calli and I didn't have to go on.  The ride made four loops and for the first two Serena seemed to be enjoying herself, but we saw her face on the third loop and she had started to cry.  I think she had fun, but started to get scared toward the end.

We saw a little puppet show, got free ice cream during the sample time and then Richard and I also sampled some wine.  I got a sample of Pull-Ups at the Huggies booth (they also had a little changing tent where they provided free diapers and wipes to use, which was awesome!!) and some Kleenex samples and backpacks for the girls, none of which was in English.  The last thing we did was go to the petting zoo, which was really fun but the kids were scared.  Instead of all the animals being behind fences, it was a big open area for the animals to roam the people to walk around with them.  The kids didn't like the animals just coming up to them like that, although Serena seemed to warm up a bit.  She is my animal lover I think.

All in all, it was a great family day and we sure scored a lot of free samples and had a relatively inexpensive time.  We can't wait to go again this weekend!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Day!!

This is what people who don't live in the snow do:

Freak out when the temperatures hit the teens.
Panic when any kind of precipitation falls from the sky.
Close down all schools and places of business.
Take pictures of the 1/28 an inch of ice on the ground outside the house.
Bundle the kids up in makeshift winter clothes they wear one day out of the year and send them outside to freeze  play.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just another crazy day in Texas

I just sent Calli off to school all bundled up like an eskimo.  A long sleeve shirt, a sweater, a big jacket and a never worn scarf of mine to complete the look.  She's actually only walking maybe one hundred feet into the school, where they left the heater on all night, so I probably didn't need to do so much.  Don't tell other parents that though!!  If the temperatures here dip below 65 everyone pulls out their puffy jackets, gloves, beanies and boots and bundles up like we live in the arctic.  It's crazy and at least it provides me with some good laughs.  I remember when I was growing up I thought it was so not cool to wear a jacket or sweatshirt to school and I would go in short sleeves when it was 40-50 degrees outside.  I might have bundled up in the winter when it was colder though, I can't remember.  I do just remember freezing my behind off before school; our campuses were outdoors so there was no protection from the elements until the first bell went off and you could scoot to class.  I was probably a little crazy and I think Calli has inherited a little bit of that gene.  She doesn't really like to wear jackets and sweaters and usually I have to coax her into one if I think it's too cold.  I will send her to school in just a long sleeve t-shirt if it's not too cold and that's what she wants.  I'm not raising any wimpy kids who balk at the 65 degrees and turn to jackets and mittens.  The rest of you crazy people can load your kids down in that gear as they walk the one hundred feet into school, but I choose not to!!

I'm pretty sure we're experiencing record breaking cold here.  I woke up this morning to 20 degrees, with the wind chill making it feel like 5 degrees.  I had to step outside to see what that felt like for a second and I was kind of disappointed.  Sure it was cold, but I don't really know what I was expecting to be honest.  My heater meanwhile has been working overtime and hasn't turned off since I cranked it up to 70 when we woke up (I keep it at 62 at night).  I am fairly certain our electricity bill will not be too kind to us this month.  I've also had several friends experience power outtages and I am waiting for ours to go out because of the rolling blackout.  It angers me that those happen.  It is below freezing here and to leave people without power for an hour or two is just unacceptable.  I realize this can happen everywhere, but I just think that when you live in a city with a population of over 1.5 million, shouldn't the power company be a little more prepared for these issues?  If you can't then hand the job over to someone who can.

Meanwhile I'm sitting in my warm and cozy house enjoying a nice, hot cup of coffee.  I don't think I ever looked so forward to a cup of coffee as I did this morning when I woke up.  All in all, I am enjoying the weather.  It would just be a lot nicer if this whole city didn't overreact and lose their minds when the temperatures dip like this.  I realize it's quite a change from the norm, but other cities deal with this and more all winter long, so really what is the big deal!?  Stay home, go to work, bundle up, drive carefully and get over it.  Enjoy the cold while it lasts because we all know that hot, miserable summer is coming in a few short months and we will just be wishing we could go back to this time.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Love my new camera!!

I am not a photographer and I don't claim to be by any stretch of the imagination.  I have not yet gotten around to even glancing at my camera's manual and all I do is put it in Auto when I want to take photos (although I considered myself savvy when I thought to turn off the flash since we were outside ;)).  These photos I took this afternoon are straight out of my camera; I don't know how to do any fancy photoshop work, which is too bad because I'm sure I could make them look brilliant.  However, I am so overjoyed to have these images, whether they are touched up or not.  My old point and shoot never would have captured these moments and I would have been left in frustration with some very blurry shots of my kids' shoulders as they scurried away faster than I could snap a photo.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The best of the rest...

I always end up uploading more photos than I can use for the blog and some just don't fit into the stories I tell.  So here are some of the best of the rest of the photos from this weekend.

I was lucky to get this photo of Serena in her Minnie costume.  She LOVES Minnie, but she wouldn't let me take her photo.  She was actually turning around but I snapped it too quick for her.  That is one reason I love my new camera; I can take photos so much faster!
 Taking a bath!
 Jameson wanted to help Serena wash her cute is that?!
 LOVE this girls look so pretty!