Friday, August 31, 2007

Pretty curl, baby girl

Pretty curl, baby girl

A house call

A dear friend from college came to visit yesterday. Courtney and I were sorority sisters. She was my "little sis" back in the day. Today she goes by Dr. Blake. Seven years ago she moved to the cities to attend vet school at the U. Luckily for me, she never left. We don't see each other as much as we'd like, but when we do, we pick up where we left off. Our visit yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of our study abroad trip to South America. Together with sixty other classmates, we plowed through eight countries in three months. I say plow because we created quite a scene at every airport with our mountain of luggage and typical college student rowdiness. The common theme in our trip down memory lane was how disheveled we all looked in all but a handful of pictures. We'd have stuck out anyway even if we didn't look so downtrodden in our rumpled sweatshirts and jeans. What amazed us most was the freedom we were granted to roam from country to country during our 10 vacation days. At 19 I don't know how we survived! We swam with an anaconda, waded through caimen infested water, had way too many close calls with the tour bus driving really close to the edge of the cliffs, hitchhiked to avoid an approaching wall cloud, wandered onto a beach where a man ended up following us (we learned later he had a knife), and were luck not to drown in the raging river water while white water rafting in Costa Rica and Peru.

We have so many fond (and dangerous) memories of that trip. A once in a lifetime adventure that I wouldn't have wanted to share with anyone but Courtney. Did I mention she's fluent in Spanish?

Thanks for spending the afternoon with us Court! Conor is loving his freshly clipped toenails. :)

To borrow Frank Zappa's line - That's grody to the max"

I don’t know what’s worse – finding Julia in her crib with a blob of poop on her paci (amongst other places) or catching her eating dog food (not from the bowl – that would have been much tamer – it was regurgitated dog food – otherwise known in our house as “Puppy Puke”.

Sorry Sweetie – Just think, by getting this info out now, it’ll be old news by the time you’re old enough to be embarrassed by it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

8 Years ago today

I shared a first kiss with the man of my dreams. For the past 7 years we've gone on a picnic to celebrate our "dating anniversary", but this year with the chaos of our lives the best we could muster was a sub from Subway inhaled while standing over the dining room table. To make up for it, we are going to sit down to watch a movie together for the first time in a loooong time. We'll eat chicken noodle soup and snuggle on the couch. Perhaps this'll be the beginning of a new tradition..... who needs ants, mosquitoes, and the uncomfortableness of eating on the ground anyway.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A deluge

Anyone who follows the Pauly's Pics & Prose will notice a dramatic increase in the posts tonight. (Don't forget to scroll down to the old stuff first so you can read them in order.) Brian was kind enough to take over the household duties this afternoon so I could have some uninterrupted time to myself. (Nobody was able to explain this to Sam though, so he managed to work in some tantrums that one person should have to deal with on their own.) And the kids cut us some slack this evening and went to sleep without any battles - a rarity lately.
The weather was absolutely picture perfect today so we decided that we'd load up the kids and pick out some Open House signs at Home Depot. We checked the mailbox on our way and lo and behold - a letter from Voyageurs National Park!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so glad we were both there to read it. Basically they said that Brian passed the initial part of the application process and his paperwork has been passed on to the person who does the hiring. They say it could take 45 business days before they offer someone the job. This is very exciting news for us because yesterday we got an email saying they hadn't even touched the applications they've had on their desk for 3+ weeks. Having a time line makes the waiting much easier. Unfortunately 45 business days is over 2 MONTHS. Brian will have to find work somewhere else while we continue to keep the house up for sale. Thank you to everyone who's been praying for us. We feel blessed to have such a fabulous support network of family and friends. We'll keep you updated!

Getting this wonderful news prompted us to splurge on some ice cream treats. Since Culver's and Dairy Queen are pricey, Sam and I walked from Home Depot and picked up some drumsticks at the grocery store. Did I mention how nice it was outside? Seriously, I wish we were camping so I could stay out there all night!

Both kids loved the slide. This blurry one of Julia is me trying to keep her from diving face first, snap a picture, and catch her at the bottom.

What possessed me to use the self-timer to get this shot? I had 10 seconds to run to the slide (through pea gravel), climb it, and get Sam on my lap. Almost made it.

Digging with Daddy is much tamer. Good choice Sam.

The good life

It's easy for me to focus on the negative and in our current situation there is plenty of it. When I update friends and family on Brian's job search or our plight with our mortgage, it can seem like we are in a bad place. On paper, especially financially, that is most definetely a true statement, but in the grand sceeme of things, we are doing just fine. In fact - we couldn't be better. We have each other to lean on, we still find joy in the little things - especially the kids, and most of all we are trusting God.

I've rediscovered a great little book called, "Joy Breaks". when I was staging our home to sell. I love it when the Lord orchestrates the little things. Out of the 100+ books I could have grabbed to sit next to a coffee mug, the one that has message after message for me is the one "I" chose. The book is filled with short devotions to celebrate, simplify, and add laughter to your life. Here's the prayer I read today:

"Dear Lord, like a child with her mom, when I say now, I mean right now! Thank you for not always dropping everything in the universe and rushing to my rescue. Instead, you have allowed me to feel my neediness and experience my limitations so I will understand that it is You who will (eventually) save me. I don't want to refuse your perfect plan; I want to find refuge in you. Then I will have the stamina to make it to the end. Amen."

the house tour

Back to school

I don't live under a rock (though with our current housing situation, that might not be accurate in the near future). Already I'm digressing....sorry. It's been a really, really long three weeks. Anyway....I know it's back to school time. I know kids are lining up their #2 pencils, loading up on folders, stylish new clothes, and savoring the final days of summer. I was still caught off guard when the phone rang last week and the voice on the other end said, "Hi , My name is Rannel. I'm going to be Sam's preschool teacher this fall." What? I signed up for preschool? I know I'm sleep deprived, but how in the world could I forget something so important? There must be some mistake. These are the thoughts that flashed through my brain like lightening as my mouth mumbled who knows what. As so not to sound like a complete fool, I went with the flow and in the conversation about the upcoming open house I discovered that this lady had called the right number and it wasn't just a fluke that she was talking about Sam. (It is a common name after all- over 400 in 2004 in Minnesota alone) While we call all of the Early Childhood Education classes the kids take "school" I certainly wouldn't consider one day a week preschool. Either way, if the open house last night is any indication - Sam is going to L-O-V-E school!

Julia and I will be taking a class next door to Sam's on the "drop off day". I feel very fortunate that I get to ease into this whole new world of letting go.

If that's what makes her happy

then a sink bath it is. In fact a cool refreshing soak doesn't sound half bad. See that red mark on her chest? She fought with the train table and the train table won.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Welcome back Brianna!

We have a "new" addition to our house a few days a week now. Brianna had taken the summer off to stay home with her dad, but he's taking classes on campus this fall so we get to get reacquainted with our friend Bea.

At 19 months she's already a little mother. Keeping a close eye on the babies while they nap (That's Grant on the monitor), returning pacifiers to Julia, offering sippy cups, and helping put bibs on.

Not only do I have the privilege of watching Sam and Brianna play, but Julia is pretty taken with her too.

How could you not be with a face like this??

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Preview

While we were at the Mall of America yesterday I couldn't resist picking up Julia's Halloween costume. It might seem strange to be shopping this far ahead, but I've learned that the cute ones sell out fast. This fairy costume is no exception. They didn't have the 2T body suit that I knew would fit, so I had to get the 18-24 month one. A nice lady at a different Gymboree Store was able to procure the correct size and it's being shipped to my house at this very moment.

Yes, I know the flower on her head is very similar to the one I dissed in an earlier post. No need to comment on it, I already know.

For what it's worth - last year I bought her costume before she was even born.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

It was the least I could do

After a hectic morning of cleaning and running around I decided that I'd take the kids to the mall while Daddy went fishing with a friend he's known since grade school.

We had fun people watching and pretending to operate some of the 75 cent rides.

As I was photographing the kids a nice man asked if I wanted him to take a picture for me. Now wasn't that nice.

This is Sam getting a closer look at the rides we couldn't go on. He didn't mind too much. I think he was just happy to get away from the craziness that is our life right now. (So was I!)

I'm starting to see a trend here. Sugar before bed. Thankfully it didn't keep him up. In fact he fell asleep in the car before we got home.

Our First Showing!

Since I already know the outcome, it's hard to show much excitement for sharing the news that we had someone call about seeing the house today. We had 1 1/2 hours notice and since there's a big difference between being ready for house pictures and ready for a showing - we had our work cut out for us. I had to get creative in where to put things - baby monitor in the china cabinet, remote controls in my dresser along with some candle holders, CD player in Julia's dresser, dog supplies under the play structure in the yard, jars of grain in the china cabinet. About the only place I didn't hide something was in the fridge. Oh wait....scratch that. I did cram the fruit bowl in there. (Have to maximize that counter space ya know!) Brian loaded up the kids and the dog in the car and went to a park. I spent the final 10 minutes on my hands and knees spot cleaning the floor. It was very, very strange to be home alone - completely alone. Even the dog was away. The lady who came to see the place was looking for a different floor plan than we have. Nothing I can do about that. In hindsight we should have probably done an open house today. I mean we ended up having the house looking so good, we might as well have beckoned people in. I guess it's time to call the Realtor.

Friday, August 24, 2007

For Sale By Owner

The sign won't go in the front yard until tomorrow morning, but I did just wrap up the posting I did for the Internet. We've been interviewing Realtors all week and after giving it a go on our own for a week or two we'll bite the bullet and let the professionals take over.
Here are a few photographs that Jennifer took for us today. Didn't she do a fabulous job? As soon as I can carve out the time, I want to give you all the full tour. Even those of you who've seen the place in person will be in for a treat - a neat, uncluttered house - what a change from the norm!

Our living room - or more precisely, half of it - the other half is where all the kids toys are.

Kitchen and dining room

The one and only bathroom. At least we have the double sinks going for us!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Something is up

We haven't told Sam anything about our plans to sell the house and possible move 5 hours from here. If I can't wrap my brain around it, we certainly can't ask our 2 1/2 year old to. Keeping things as normal as possible is very difficult to do as we remove/rearrange every piece of furniture we own, sell 75% of the kids toys, and not have as much time to play with the kids as we'd like. On Monday we decided enough was enough. We needed a break so we packed up the kiddos and off we went to the ball pit. Sam has never had so much fun there.

Then tonight as we pulled into our neighborhood we were careful to avoid the children running through the street. Brian was the one to notice the reason for their mad dash - the ice cream truck (actually a mini-van) was blaring "The Entertainer" as its summons to all ice cream lovers within earshot. We sat on the curb waiting for it to come past our house.

"A music truck! A music truck," yelled Sam.
As you can see he was pretty stoked to get a treat so close to bedtime. At least tonight he didn't have to wonder if something was up. He could just focus on how to eat as much of his ice cream samich as he could before Mommy came to her senses and realized so much sugar isn't a good idea.

Note: He actually let me cut it in half and save the rest for tomorrow night.

New Tricks

Julia has been rather adventurous over the course of this past week. At the ball pit she dives in head-first, crawls around the perimeter, and doesn't mind a bit when she sinks deep into the rainbow sea of balls.

Our days of sitting on the blue mat during tot-time gym are over as well.
She now crawls on, over, and through everything. She probably won't be walking by her first birthday, but that won't stop our little climber. Cruising along furniture is probably only days away, much to Sam's dismay. His trains are no longer safe from chubby, inquisative fingers .

She's getting the hang of playing catch too. It won't be long before she and Sam are playing together rather than side by side.

The baby gates have come down at our house after 2 YEARS. I must say it is liberating!! Of course we have to be vigilant about knowing where the kids are at all times. Having Brian home all the time makes that a cinch. We'll never know if she would have been able to climb the steps any earlier, but we now know for certain that steps won't stop her from exploring the world around her.
(Yes that's a muumuu she's wearing. Authentic Hawaiian garb Grandma found at a garage sale. It's pretty bold, but Jo Jo's got the personality to pull it off.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sam's bedtime prayer

Me: What do you want to thank Jesus for tonight Sam?
Me again, trying to prompt him: For food, your toys....
Sam: for Daddy, for you...
Brian: how about Julia?
Sam: and Taren and Tullen and Taren's mommy....

Yes, Sam, I thank Jesus for them too!!!

Note: Until this evening Sam's prayer had always gone like this:
Me: Sam what do you want to say to Jesus tonight?
Sam: Sorry Jesus

(I think this comes from his Bible story about Jonah and how at first Jonah didn't go where God told him too, but then he said sorry and followed God's command.)

Ok God, can we get those plans anytime soon???

I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, August 20, 2007

The highs and lows of our weekend

I have edited this post to correct what appears to be a misunderstanding. I should have been more careful in choosing my words, but I wasn't, so I'm sorry that I offended my readers.
As the author of this blog, I have the right sing the praises of my children as much as I want, but I shouldn't have been so harsh on the other contest entrants. That was wrong, but I stick by my Author's Disclaimer on the right hand side - read if you want, or don't read.

First the good news - we made a little over $900 at the garage sale. While it would be nice to spend that on something fun, what it'll go towards is our mortgage payment. Without a paycheck coming in for Brian, this will be a huge burden lifted for at least one month. Having him at home will also mean we can list the house MUCH quicker - as in the next 2 weeks. He's been working so hard on painting, staining, cleaning, and packing. I don't even want to think about how long it would have taken me to do all that stuff during nap times and on the weekends. The low of the garage sale wasn't technically during the garage sale, but happened after we closed down on Saturday. I went to a local resale shop with 4 tubs of clothes and toys where they only bought 4 things. FOUR. I had a hundred items. Not only was I incredibly insulted that they thought my stuff wasn't good enough, but the employees were rude to boot. For $11 they bought a $20 wooden toy, a Discovery Toys crib bumper, 2 articles of clothing, and a $30 activity center. Yes, I know they need to make a profit but come on! $11??????????

Another low point of the weekend was seeing the results of the Evenflo Cute baby contest. I always knew it would be a long shot for Julia to win, but I never thought she'd lose out to a flower child. In the future I plan to stick to smaller contests or at least ones that there's a panel of judges do the work rather than asking friends and family to vote. (A big THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to vote!!)To end this post on a high note I am thrilled to share the news that Julia will be featured in a Kissaluvs Cloth Diaper ad this fall. We knew that part of their photo contest was the chance to be used in their online advertising, but I never dreamed that after the kid's finalist placing that they'd contact us for more pictures and end up using one in a MAGAZINE. The Nov/Dec edition of Mothering Magazine will have a Kissaluvs ad that features my baby girl!!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

That's a first

Me: (calling from the driveway to Brian in the house) HEY BRIAN!!!!!! (he didn't hear me)
Sam: Mommy's talking to you Brian

Garage sale update: The sale is going really, really well. We have made about $800. The rain is probably keeping people away, but those that do stop buy on average $15-$20 worth of stuff.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pack-n-play :$25

Julia: priceless (or as my sign read - "baby not included")

After wrapping up Vacation Bible School last night at 9pm I headed home to put my over-tired son to bed and begin my marathon pricing frenzy to get ready for my big garage sale today. From 10:30pm to 1:30am I sat in my driveway wearing Brian's headlamp, pricing clothes before moving into the garage to price toys. I was up at 5:00 in order to be ready for the early bird shoppers and sure enough an hour before the sale was scheduled to start I had my first customer. She bought $14 worth of stuff that started us on the road to a total of $380 for day one. We have many people to thank for the success - My mom for bringing me tables; Brian's parents for helping set up, bringing supplies, hauling furniture away, watching the kids, building steps for our back patio door; Brian's sister for watching the kids, bringing us lunch, buying us dinner; my sister for helping with the kids; our friends, Scott and Wendy who kept us company, bought us breakfast and Sam's lunch, covered the cash box for a bit, hauled some furniture, and played with our kids; and to our friends and family who supported our efforts to downsize and declutter - thank you for buying our stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and if I forgot to mention anyone I apologize. Three hours of sleep is obviously not enough sleep.)

Leave it to me to have something planned for after the sale today. An event called Touch-A-Truck was hosted at the Community Center so we fed each of the kids a banana and marched on in our day.

Sam driving a lawn mower like Grandpa's
Last year's Touch-A-Truck
Sam had no issues with climbing in the big vehichles last year, but this year he'd wait up to five minutes for his turn and then freak out when we'd start to put him in the seat. As long as the car/truck was lower to the ground he did fine.

He lasted 5 seconds in the fireman boots this year - an improvement over last year.

Where's Julia?

Peek-a-boo! I see you!

You don't get to do this every day!

and hopefully Julia and I'll never do this for real!

No screaming here - although I did have to bribe him with a cooking to get him to sit on the road graders tire.

You'd think he would have forgotten about that aforementioned cookie after all these special treats, but not my Sam. No wonder it took him two hours to fall asleep tonight!

School Spirit Beanie Crochet Pattern

Beat those winter blues and cold winds with this a FLEECE lined brimmed hat! It seems like everyone is wearing a beanie these days - me in...