Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Team Boy for the Win

It's official, I've decided to call my loss. For a comeback at this point team girl would need to hit 4 in a row, and I'm pretty sure not even I want to go there.  

Cam and I have had lots of good chats about how to go about raising 3 boys to be kind, respectable, and responsible instead of contributing to the growing population of video-game addicted basement dwellers. I'll let you know my theories when I find out if they work in 20 years ;)

Now, for a funny story: my mother-in-law was asking me how I managed to get my two nutty boys to pose for the picture above. The answer is that I had to take over 60 and this was the best one. Seriously. And that doesn't include the fact that Daws fell off the step on his way outside and scraped himself up, so in this and all of them it is currently bleeding right along his little red hairline. A day in the life of a little boy. It blended in, so I forged ahead anyway.

Here is a selection from the photoshoot with my two nutty guys- looking forward to adding a third little nut to the equation:

At this point Dawson discovered if he lets go of the ball it rolls down the driveway... so we had to do a location change. Which didn't actually help at all. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A lion and tiger and well... oh my.

Wes has a general dislike of dressing up. Actually he has a general dislike of wearing ANYTHING new, different, or that he didn't pick out.

So my plan going into Halloween was quite different from my usual "make it myself so that it can be awesome" attitude. Really it was more like "find something as close to his normal wardrobe as possible and make sure he thinks it's totally his idea and certainly don't spend too much time or money on it because there is a large chance that he won't feel like wearing it anyway."

We started talking about ideas in September but he thought all my ideas sounded too silly. Then in October we went to the zoo with Grandma and as we walked around we talked about whether this or that animal would be fun to dress up as. Magically, the lions were awake and moving around and Wes thought they were pretty cool, and so he decided that that's what he wanted to be.

So my plan next was to make the costume as normal as possible. I was thinking khaki pants, and a tan or yellow hoodie with a mane on the outside that he wouldn't notice when he was wearing it. So I started looking everywhere for the hoodie and could. not. find one. So finally we hit goodwill and had no luck so I headed over with Wes to the costumes to see if we could find something that we could make work. And Wes happened to find (key: he found) a lion costume in 3T. No joke. and he got really excited about it because as far as he was concerned it was exactly whay he was looking for. And then we found a tiger costume in Daws size and we were settled.

So that turned out to be our theme for Halloween. I know it lends itself to a bear, but to be honest I was only going to put a fight about two costumes, so when Cam suggested rather than be the bear he take the "Oh my" and dress scandalously i dropped the issue.

Helping with pumpkins.

Daws a Dieter Pumpkin Eater. 

Wesley's first request was actually for a "Giraffe in a witch costume" witch I told him was too hard. Then he wanted a "Giraffe in a no spots costume" which I managed to convince him would look like a llama... which it still sort of does, but I think the spots help a bit. 

Here's the lion that I never got a finished shot of, which is unfortunate because it actually looked pretty good since I did it after the kids went to bed.

So Wes loved trick-or-treating, and was so excited that he literally ran between houses. Luckily my brother came along with us and ran up ahead with him, because Daws, who cannot run, surprised us by being insistent that he walk the whole way. Dawson had on the entire time a huge smile with his tiger trail dragging on the wet sidewalk, and his heavy candy bucket smacking his leg with each step. At one point though I took a bunch of his candy out of his bucket and put it in my pockets because his little hand literally could not carry the bucket any longer. The whole time looked a lot like this:

Wes continued running up to each house until we were nearly back home and all of a sudden he just stopped and said. Mom, carry me. and so we carried home our lion and tiger, put them soundly to bed, and then I proceeded to eat each and every fun-sized twix either of them had. 

A good night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Apple Muffins

One of Wes and my favorite things to do while Daws is taking his morning nap is bake muffins. We have recipes for all seasons and all lengths of time since our last shopping trip. One of our favorites for the last year has been this apple muffin recipe which combines the best parts from our earlier trials.

All this time, we've just topped it with a little brown sugar crumble, but this week we were short on brown sugar so we tried something new. We topped it with a the cinnamon cream cheese frosting from Cooking Classy (they use it on pumpkin cake... which I still have to try) and the results were simply too heavenly to keep to ourselves. Really they were; we made a second batch to take to our neighbors.

Without further adieu: 

Apple Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 cup butter 
1/4 cup sugar 
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla 
1 apple, half grated, half cut in small chunks

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat together remaining ingredients until smooth. Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture. Spoon the mixture into the greased muffin pan. Bake 20 minutes at 375, or until a toothpick comes clean. Allow to sit before removing.

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Whip together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low until combined, and then increase to medium until it's combined and fluffy. After decorating the muffins, we put them in the fridge to set the frosting so it didn't end up in the boys hair when they ate them like they hadn't been fed all week.

Enjoy (and then make some for your neighbor, our neighbors could all use a little more love!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The End of and Era

My youngest sister was telling me a story a month or so ago. She's in college and moved at the end of the term (as college kids do) and my mom asked for her address for her address book. Apparently my mom told her, "I'm writing that with pencil… Kim and Cameron are in pencil too."

Well guys, we did it. Well, Cam did it and the rest of us made it (or as we like to say "made it happy" which can be much more difficult than the nuance implies). He has a job starting next month. So although I've got all our stuff to get packed up (again) in the next couple days… It looks like we may be settling.

 When we tell people they always say, "you must be so excited to be settled somewhere." But to be honest I'm feeling a little bittersweet about it. Yes, it will be nice to have long-term friends and maybe even a regular babysitter, but I think i'm going to miss the change of pace and the impossibility of getting tired of our surroundings.

 Cam has already promised me many trips to cool adventures since we won't be able to move next door to them, and hopefully that will expand our horizons to places that we wouldn't want to stay more than a week ;)

Before we leave we want to give one last shout-out to our Seattle-area city of Issaquah that we've absolutely LOVED.

Goodbye Seattle!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Adventures in Seattle

Since we've been back in the Northwest, Cam has been thrilled to start up hiking again. In fact most of the sunny… or at least not rainy days that we've had we've been out in nature. Did I mention this is a beautiful place to live?

The Olympic Sculpture Park in Downtown Seattle is part of the Seattle Art Museum, but it's located in a free park with huge outdoor sculptures which makes it an all around win;  everyone gets to be outdoors, I get to see art, and we're good parents for exposing our children to culture.
And it was pretty cool. Wes decided this one looks like a brontosaurus.

I'm sure both kids would have loved it if not for two things: 1.We dressed our children for the sun, and forgot the "Seattle" and 2. We told Wes our plan to have a picnic at the fountain later, so he was anxious to be off. 

But they were thrilled about the International Fountain. Especially Wes. And Cam. Evidence:

Although I read somewhere that the guy who designs the shows throws in some parts where the water gets small especially to trick kids into going close and getting wet… Cam could have stayed a little drier just by knowing a little more about the Northwest rock scene (quoting him, "you knew that song?"). Wes on the other hand was not taking any risks and stayed perfectly dry.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hello Seattle

We're now settling in here in the Seattle area; home of rain, salmon, and cities with Native American names no one can pronounce. We're living in one of those, so for simplicity let's just say Seattle shall we? And no, we haven't met Kurt Cobain, and probably won't. When I studied in London in college I would tell people I was from Seattle because it was the only west-coast city they knew outside California. They always either asked if I knew Kurt Cobain or Dr. Frasier Crane.

Before we left Colorado, we had a friend who lives in the area come check out the apartment we were thinking about renting. Among it's assets she listed the park outside and the fish hatchery across the street. I sarcastically responded that is fabulous because I always consider my proximity to a fish hatchery when looking for a home. But in all seriousness, from here on out I might. Wes LOVES the hatchery so much we have been there nearly every day (in all ends of the spectrum of famous Seattle rain). Any time that we're walking somewhere that takes us past, near, or in the completely opposite direction of the hatchery, we have to check up on the fish.

You'd think that after living in Portland that we would blend right in up here, but so far that hasn't been the case. For starters I don't own a single item of dri-fit. Or a puff vest. Both necessary in any outfit worn out in public by adults of any age up here. For example: dri-fit top + dri-fit leggings + running shoes + vest = the standard for working out. Trade the running shoes for tall boots and you've got a great outfit for going to the mall or taking your kids to the library. Trade the leggings for a maxi and add a cute scarf and you're dressed up for a night out. Never knew it was so versatile did you?

They've also taken Portland's crunchiness and pushed it just a little further. For example at our apartment complex in Portland there were two dumpsters, one for trash and one for mixed recyclables. Look at us, we recycle! (Oregon collectively snubs it's nose at "the square states in the middle"). So we showed up at our new place and there are 3 receptacles. Do you know what the third one is for? Compost. As in your food waste and paper products with greasy food stains. We're still trying to find a handy trash bag and fruit fly less way to get it downstairs.

But we're enjoying it. Cam loves his rotation location. Wes loves that they have a dog. Daws loves... falling asleep when we try to go anywhere. And today the sun was out and it's now time to start racking up some adventures.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Leaving Colorado

Nothing says "I Love you" like starting a new adventure together - Happy Moving/Valentine's Day to us!

As you might expect, we spent our Valentine's Day packing up all our Colorado possessions in preparation for leaving at 4am the next morning. Cameron's supervisor was fabulous and took us all out to lunch. I had a very large salad because I figured that with an upcoming four-day roadtrip I probably wouldn't get much greenery.

We listened for the last time to "Retreat" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" play on the loudspeaker at 4:45, and said goodbye to our housekeeping ladies. And then the especially romantic part: Wes woke up from his nap puking.

A few notes about his timing:
  1. After our lunch with Cam's supervisor we came home and realized that our electronic keys to our house hotel had stopped working (we were able to extend our stay an extra day so that we could start the trip Saturday, but apparently they forgot to put that in our keys). Luckily the cleaning ladies were still going around knew us quite well, so they let us in. But we couldn't leave again or we wouldn't be able to get back in.
  2. Earlier in the week that we had enough laundry soap for two loads, so I decided to wait until that morning to do a load of whites and a load of colors. The last load was in the drier when he woke up, so I poured a little water into the empty laundry soap and swished it around to get whatever was left and dumped it all in.
  3. We had carefully and methodically been eating all our food that was left so we wouldn't have any waste. All we had to fed Wes was pancakes for dinner and wheat thins for the trip. Luckily I had gotten him an apple juice to drink for breakfast the next day.
  4. My friend Stacey, who we were going to stay with the first night of our trip had called me just a few hours earlier that her son had thrown up. So I called her back and said not to worry about infecting us, we already had sickies as well. 
  5. Wes has only thrown up two other times in his life, so as you can imagine it's pretty traumatic. 
It wasn't long before Wes was bouncing around like his usual self. So we decided to continue our plan of leaving at 4am the next morning. We got the kids to bed, finished packing up the car, and made it to bed at 10.

So when Daws woke up to eat in the middle of the night to eat (as he usually does) I was thinking, "Um, I'm exhausted and I wish we didn't have to leave so early." And then my wish was granted, but unfortunately not in a way that got me any more sleep. At 3:55 Wes woke up throwing up in his bed  (again).

A few notes about his timing:

  1. He only threw up twice, and they were 12 hours apart. But both times were when he woke up, so managed to hit his entire bed. 
  2. As you remember, we scraped bottom last time for laundry detergent. This time we had to get a little creative, in the form of dishwasher tabs.
  3. He was a bit shaken up, and decided to call it a morning. So that was the end of our night.
By 7:00 Wes was back to his cheery self and our laundry was done. We had 9 hours of drive time to Stacey's so we knew we had to get out early. So we snatched the extra garbage bags and paper towels and hit the pink Colorado highway. 

As Cam put it, sometimes he thinks that if we could put a sign on top of the car that explained our situation, the drivers around us would just part the way and let us through. Wes finally crashed an hour into the drive, just before we hit traffic. At that moment, the sign on top of my car would have been something like, "Look, we have 8 hours of driving ahead of us with a toddler who has thrown up the last 2 times he woke up... PLEASE we just want to get as far as possible before he wakes up again." And that's not to mention the baby that needs to stop and eat every three hours. 

Luckily it only slowed us down about half an hour, and our kids were super troopers all morning in fact. Wes entertained himself for at least an hour looking out the window and narrating his stream of consciousness, " There are rocks on the mountain and trees on them..." etc.

With two hours to go we had two kids waking up from nice long naps, so we took a stop at a scenic overlook for snacks all around. Cam and Wes took a little walk outside, and then as we were just about to pull away Wes started freaking out that his stomach hurt. Cam ran around and pulled him out of his seat... which only freaked Wes out more. He said he felt okay so we got back in the car, but this time the pack n' play got to ride shotgun to make room for me in the back with a garbage bag in hand.

We made it maybe two minutes before he started freaking out again. We pulled over and pulled him out. Cam held Wes outside and tried to convince him that it's okay to throw up if he has to. We were amazed and impressed with the people of Southern Utah, as 4 different cars pulled over to see if we needed help (one turned around from the other direction). "No we don't need help thanks, he's just... sick."

He struggled with his internals for a bit before deciding it was a bowel problem after all. With that out he was feeling much better. Luckily we had him in a diaper for the trip or we would have been in a world of hurt.

We would have made it without stopping from that point on... except that he worked things out again an hour later. And oh, again less than a mile away. And that one was a little more unruly.

So we limped into Stacey's but luckily she had laundry detergent on hand so we didn't have to resort to washer fluid. We took a whole day to rest, but after that our two remaining 6-hour drive days felt like nothing. We picked up our stuff as we headed through Portland.

And tomorrow it's hello Seattle. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Fair Weather Fans

I realized after titling this post that people may be confused and think I'm referring to a certain big game today. I'm not. But while I'm thinking about it I just want to get on the record beforehand that our move this month from Colorado to Seattle has nothing whatsoever to do with how this thing goes down.

Now to my story:

In the spirit of adventure and checking out cool things here in Colorado we took a little excursion to Dinosaur Ridge near Lakewood CO. Wes has been into dinosaurs lately thanks to a book he got for Christmas from his great-grandma.

So I guess the story is that they were blasting this ridge to make a highway and discovered fields of dinosaur tracks and some bones. Now the highway is closed to the traffic so you can walk up the ridge.

It was a sunnyish and not to chilly day when we left home, but by the time we got to the ridge it was quite windy. Daws, who had slept in the car all the way there, quickly assessed the situation and decided to do what he does whenever he is chilly/hungry/mildly perturbed and went to sleep. Wes thought the dinosaur statue at the entrance was cool, but failed to grasp the coolness of seeing the ripple patterns in the rocks that showed the area used to be underwater, and I think was altogether disappointed not to see any real dinosaurs. 

About half the way up the ridge he was a little chilly and quite wind-blown and said something that I've never heard out of his mouth before, "I want to go home and take a nap in my bed." So we drug him up the ridge backwards in his stroller so the wind wasn't in his face, and tucked Dawson's extra blanket around him.

The bones were pretty cool, but I don't think I would have picked them out without the help of not-so-subtle signs. Do you think you could have?

On the way back down Wes gave up... pretty much on life. So Cam tipped the stroller on it's back wheels and put his hat down over his face and Wes fell asleep. So after both our boys gave up on our adventure Cam and I had a nice look at the cool geological features. 

So this last weekend was much sunnier, but we didn't want to go somewhere just to have our fair weather fans give up on us again. We decided to stay close to home and go on a hike around the base. Our building is the very last outcropping of civilization up on the side of the mountain, so we just took off the other direction. 

We have a lot of wildlife out here, so we would follow the service trail for awhile and then wander off following animal tracks left in the dirt and snow, or to check out cool things we could see off the trail. 

Cam packed up a backpack of water bottles and spare warm things just in case. Wes saw it and packed up his own backpack of fruit snacks, granola bars, and cookies. 

We were hiking along Wes stopped and pointed to a rock and said, "Oh. This looks like a good spot for lunch." And so we sat down to enjoy the snack he packed. After we finished the snacks he pulled out his little toy sheep that he packed as well and said, "Oh. Time to play with this toy." I promise he's never had a Happy Meal, so I'm not sure where this idea came from, but it was hilarious nonetheless.

Even Daws had a good time. He stayed awake facing out for the whole first hour. Then he wanted to turn around and go to sleep... like he always does. I've started calling him my little bear for his hibernating habits.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The suds in the bucket and white curtesy telephones

My best friend/conjoined twin from high school got married earlier this month. Even though her wedding was right in the middle of our stay in Colorado I wasn't about to miss it!

This little adventure was quite a few firsts for us: Dawson's first flight, Cam's first weekend alone with Wes, and Wesley's first time being away from Mom for more than 24 hours.

Luckily Daws is an all-star flier. My flight was Friday night, so Wes and Cam dropped us at the airport and then went home to bed. Daws fell asleep during boarding and slept the duration of the fight. Have I mentioned to you guys yet about the infant-in-arms magic empty seat? When you fly with an infant, I'm going to go with half of the time the seat next to you will be empty. You can ask the desk agent (and this is true across airlines) they will always say the plane is full and that there are no empty seats... but lo and behold when there is one, it will be next to you. Magic.

Although we boarded on time, somehow it took us an extra half hour to fly there... but Frontier didn't want to admit that (flight status: on time) - so my parents who were supposed to pick us up thought either I or my phone died, because they paged us over the airport speakers and called Cam at midnight to try to find us. We finally found each other and got Daws into his totally chilly car seat with only mild complaints.

The wedding was beautiful. Do I have pictures? No. This is why I don't go places without Cam. I manage to forget my camera and our present. Perhaps when I see them posted I'll update here. Daws was entirely agreeable except for when the room was silent for the pastor to say a prayer. Then he had a thing or two to say about his situation.

Sunday morning I woke up to some messages from Cam... apparently Wes had handled all the away from Mom time that he could handle. Too bad because my flight back was Monday night. Definitely the saddest conversation I've ever had with him, as he's pleading with me over google chat to "come back to Dad's house," and I'm trying to explain that I'm too far away and I'll be there as soon as I can tomorrow.

And I lied. Because although the weather in both Portland and Denver was fabulous... Hercules happened.

My phone started running out of battery Monday morning so I turned it off so that it would have enough charge that I could call Cam when he came to pick me up. Which meant that when he learned at that my flight had been canceled (it was coming from the east coast) he tried unsuccessfully to alert me for an hour before he finally got through on my parents landline (thank goodness someone still has one). He was already on the phone with the agent trying to get me on the next possible flight... and trying to make sure that that wasn't with a 6 hour layover in Phoenix.

It turned out there was another flight that day, in an hour and a half if I could make it. My dad was still at work and my mom was doing errands a half hour away, so I needed to find someone closer. I called our former bishop who lives down the street and quickly explained that I needed a ride to the airport (15 minutes away) immediately! Luckily his wife was able to drop everything and come up, "I just need to put my shoes on!"

I threw everything back into my suitcase. Unfortunately Daws had blown out an outfit earlier that day, and I, thinking I still had a few hours, had started a load in the wash so that I could pack it clean. All our clothes were right in the middle of the wash cycle and were sopping wet. I considered packing them in a plastic bag but realized there was definitely more than 3oz of water and they probably would take them at security anyway. So I said a quick goodbye to my favorite camisole and clothes that Dawson wouldn't fit the next time we were in town to get them, and ran out the door with a half-empty suitcase.

We sped to the airport and I ran (laden with a baby that fell asleep on the way over) to the counter. But not in time to make the flight.

So I was there at the airport with no flight and a sleeping baby trying to figure out what to do. I thought I would at least capitalize on the situation and go use a pay-to-charge your phone station, but the connector for my phone was bent. Then over the intercom I heard, of all things, my name and "please go to a white curtesy telephone for a message." Cue deja vu for every airport employee that worked Friday night.

I did. The man on the line said, "your message is to call Cameron." I explained that I would except that I don't have a way to do that. The complete stranger on the line was kind enough to connect me. Apparently Cam wanted to let me know that due to the confusion of switching airlines, they hadn't gotten me on the flight afterall. I explained that was good because I hadn't gotten on.

He had however snagged me one seat at noon the next day that appeared as he was on the phone with the agent. He called my mom to rescue us from the airport (and reunite us with our prodigal clothing)... and then had to pretend to a depressed and distraught Wes that I was really coming home Tuesday all along.

The downside of having a flight during the day was that instead of sleeping the whole time (as he would have Monday night) Dawson was going to be wide awake, and in fact needed to eat sometime mid-flight. With people displaced all over, I knew that there would be no magic seat this time... so I was at least crossing my fingers for another mother who would at least understand. But no, a large man in a business suit with two iPhones.

But my all-star flier pulled through again and slept the ENTIRE time. He woke up as we were getting off. I turned on my phone and it had just enough charge to call cam who was just minutes away.

Anytime for the rest of my life that I don't feel like Wes appreciates me, I will just remember the look on his face as they pulled up and he saw us standing there.

Good to be home. At arrivals outside the Denver airport.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Horses and giraffes, but no zebras

When we were first reading online about what was to be our new apartment  living situation, we found a list of the amenities that we would have. It included "dishwasher," "washer/dryer," and "horseback riding." We were all pretty excited to figure out how horseback riding was an "amenity." 

So it turns out what they meant was that we're not far from the base equestrian center. We've been there with Wes several times. Although he's afraid to touch them (and it took him quite a while to get used to the idea of us touching them either), he loves to talk about the horse that he's going to have when he "grows up to be a dad." 

The first few times though he didn't really understand why the only animals there were horses. He kept asking to see the giraffes. Finally we told him to ask someone that worked there where the giraffes were. To no ones surprise except his... it turns out they don't have any. But the guy did say he was pretty sure he'd seen a zebra at the other end of the stables. We looked and looked but didn't see one, and no one else we talked to had a clue what he was talking about. 

But to make up for the giraffe deficit, we had several people refer us to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo saying that their giraffe exhibit is pretty awesome. To help Wes not be nervous about touching them, we went with Wesley's cousins who are about the coolest kids he knows.

Watching Jo feed the giraffe and seeing the "worm in it's mouth."

Seriously considering touching the giraffes.  

Smiling for the camera! Literally two seconds after this shot the giraffe leaned over and licked Wes in the back of the neck. The squeals that followed were epic...He He He. Touching a giraffe - check.