July 19th, 2012

Remodel: Week 10

Our remodel hit double digits this week and we made double digit progress. Crazy progress. So much progress I had to leave town.

After I complained last week about nothing getting done and trade Forex nothing pretty taking shape, we got our new mailbox/mail slot in the mail. And it’s pretty, y’all. It really is.

It’s the first thing in this whole process where I totally see Ken and myself (Ken came up with the HOWDY – which is just so perfect) putting our stamp on this whole thing. I’m not in the wires or the plumbing, but this mailbox. That’s something I can get into.

Along with a pretty mailbox, we got paint put on doors, doors that are closer now to being reinstalled so that the house looks pretty again.

And the biggest thing of all this week was that we demo’d the space we’d been living in and knocked down the temporary wall (at least temporarily) so that we could see for the first time how our new and improved very open and light house is going to look when this is all through.

And it is wow. It is so much bigger and lighter and wow than I had even thought. It’s hard to picture a house missing a huge wall (unless you’re Ken who has the magic touch of seeing all of this happen in his mind’s eye), but when I walked in with the kids after a morning errand yesterday and there was no wall. It was crazy.

It was also crazy because we had to live in the bedrooms and hallway for about 24 hours. We had pushed all of our living room stuff either into the storage container or into Nora’s huge bedroom. So, yeah, not really a great place for kids to be.

So we flew up here to Virginia. To spend a week at Ken’s parents’ house. Where we ate a meal tonight cooked ON A STOVE (not a first, my mom has cooked on a stove for us too, but we are living in a house with a stove for a week and that feels a bit surreal). Today while we were on the plane all of the electric work was completed. So now we have some wires to go with our pipes.

And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t really have to use the leash. They let Ken through security with me, so we had a good parent to child ratio in the airport. We only used it for about five minutes while we were in line for boarding and not using the stroller anymore. Miles wasn’t a fan. But we made it here in one piece. And I don’t think we even caused enough ruckus on the plane for any of our fellow passengers to complain.

If you are interested in seeing more about what our plans are – how we hope this will take shape, you can follow my remodel board on Pinterest.

Want the back story?

The Plan

The Preparation

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9

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July 18th, 2012

My Mom Told Me Not To Tell You

“I think I’m going to buy a leash for Miles,” I told my mom last week.

“Just don’t write about it,” she said.

“Of course I won’t,” I said, feeling all at once guilty and insecure about a parenting choice I was about to make.

I leave tomorrow on a plane. With both kids. Without Ken. Our house is in a further state of disarray (more on that tomorrow) and we needed a place to go, so we are flying to Ken’s parents’ house in Virginia.

I’m flying alone with two kids, one of whom is a very active one year old, and I wanted a leash. It’s my back-up plan so I didn’t have to worry about him getting lost or being trapped in a stroller for hours on end. I wanted a leash so I didn’t have to worry.

But then I realized I’d just worry about being judged.

Before I had kids I would have NEVER thought I would purchase a leash let alone use one. I probably eyed parents at the airports or in big crowds using a “toddler harness” with a bit of “I’m-never-going-to-do-that” judgment. But here I am. A $10 puppy leash (is that supposed to make it more “cute” than questionable?) in my bag ready to go for tomorrow’s trip. I’m ready for the looks (maybe).

Flying with kids is hard enough. What if they are loud? What if they cry? What if I’m stuck next to someone who hates kids? What if Miles just. won’t. sit. still? With all of the conversation lately about family flights or “no kids allowed” flights, an airport just doesn’t feel like a safe zone for a mom traveling alone. It feels like I will be a zoo animal on display for everyone to watch, for everyone to wonder about, for everyone to judge. So leash or no leash, I don’t think it really matters.

For what it’s worth, every single friend I’ve told about the leash either said they would do the same thing or that they totally understood. No judgment. No snide comments.

I hope that’s how I feel after my plane lands tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

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July 17th, 2012

Just Dance

If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she’ll tell you that she’s going to be a ballerina.

Ever since she spotted her first tutu, ever since she could tap her toes and twirl her body, ever since she started inventing her own dances and her own “moves,” as she calls them, she’s been a dancer. With total abandon and full costume, she puts on shows in our living room, twirling and jumping and stretching, narrating her choices, describing the dancing characters she’s created in her imagination.

She loves to dance. And I love to watch her.

Last week, Nora went to camp for the first time. She wasn’t too excited even though it was a camp at her regular dance studio. It was camp, not school. Who would her teachers be? Would she make any friends? Would she need tap shoes because hers are too small? Would she need ballet shoes because she doesn’t like how they feel without tights? Was I really going to leave her there for three hours?

She had butterflies in her stomach and the first morning she was clinging and teary-eyed. But I left, knowing, of course, that she’d be fine. It was one of those moments when I felt that “I’m-the-mom-and-I-know-best” feeling, the urge to push her into doing something she was afraid of because at that moment I knew her better than she knew herself.  For Nora, camp provoked nervousness instead of the joy I had anticipated her feeling when I signed her up. Camp was different and unknown and scary.

Until it wasn’t. Until she declared her love for camp. Until she came home with necklaces for me to wear, crafts for me to hang up. Until she made a new friend, and felt so proud of herself for coming out of her shy shell.

“You were right, Mom! Camp is super fun!”

The first of many times I fought the urge to say, “I told you so!”

 

Nora’s been dancing at Synergy Dance Studio for two years. It’s an awesome place.
If you live in Austin and have a tiny dancer like Nora, check it out
And, no, I’m not getting paid to say that!

 

 

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July 16th, 2012

Some Things

Every morning when he wakes up, he grabs my face while I’m changing his diaper and he plants a big kiss on my cheek. All day long he runs over to me, arms wide open, hugs me as tightly as he can and then plants more toddler kisses on my cheeks.

His favorite game, the thing that makes him laugh the most right now, is when he gives me raspberries on my arms or legs. He blows into my skin, makes a noise, lifts his face and laughs at just how funny and clever he is.

He says go and no. He waves and says ba-bye. He meows like a cat, moos like a cow, ooh, ooh, oohs like a monkey.

He smiles. And smiles. And smiles some more.

She likes to read to me. She gets her practice books out and points to the words as she reads them from sight and sound. She has no idea how proud this makes me. How much I can’t wait for her to truly open up that whole new world for herself.

She is a helper lately. She dried all the dishes for me last night, helped Ken make dinner. She loves to show Miles how to dance or swim or play with a new toy. She constantly kisses on him and loudly declares his cuteness. Which, of course, makes me declare hers even more.

She makes invitations to fake balls, dressed in her best princess wear. She makes up stories for dolls that are so long and complicated I cannot always follow. But I want to.

She is brave. Jumping into deep water, going off to make friends even though she tells me her tummy is nervous.

And then it’s suddenly the middle of July. And with each toddler kiss and each new invitation to a ball, my heart gets a bit heavier. The summer is almost over. I can count the weeks on one hand. This summer I feel more confident and comfortable in my mom skin than any other summer – or at least that’s how it feels to me right now. Some things about parenting have gotten easier, less stressful.

But some things, apparently, don’t get easier. I’m not ready for the summer to end.

Linking up with Heather at Extraodinary Ordinary for JustWrite.

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July 15th, 2012

Sunday Reads #13 – Potty Training Edition

This week, for your Sunday reading pleasure – a roundup of the best potty training books to read to toddlers (again at a friend’s request). I am in no way going to pretend that I am a potty training expert. Nora pretty much potty trained herself, with the help of her teachers at school, after all of my attempts at it failed. But leading up to the success in potty training, we read LOTS of books about using the potty. Some were awful and boring and not so helpful and others were hilarious (sometimes just for me!) and easy to read and maybe somewhat helpful.

First off, the book I WISH we had read. We actually found The Princess and the Potty in the library after Nora was already trained. But it was such a cute book she loved it anyway and I felt that I could have written it. If your little girl is more into fashion than using the potty, then this book is for you! Nora decided, after picking new Tinkerbelle panties in Target, that she was ready to wear them. And then there was no looking back. For the princess in this book it’s all about the pantaloons. Cute book. Won’t drive you crazy. May convince your “princess” that using the potty is a good idea, if only from a fashion sense.

If your child is more into anatomy than fashion, then Once Upon a Potty is a good choice. The first time Ken and I read this aloud to Nora we both looked at each other a bit wary of all the detail about the holes involved in using the potty, and the pictures of poop in the “bowl” are not quite appetizing, but Nora loved this book nonetheless. And it is a nice alternative to the “cute” books that abound in the potty training category.

Nora’s favorite potty book was probably A Potty for Me by Karen Katz. It was a lift-the-flap style book that she quickly had memorized. She would read it to herself sometimes and the joyous sentiments in the book when the little girl reaches potty success were contagious enough for Nora to want that joyous feeling too. This is an easy to read book that I got for Nora when I gave her the “potty” as a present.

Lastly, there’s the more instructive and useful Diapers Are Not Forever. This was one of the first potty training books we got and one that had all the right information, with cute pictures and a good message about growing up, getting bigger, and leaving behind the diapers that “are not forever.” This book is just the right balance of informative and fun.

 

What are your favorite potty training books? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Note: All links are affiliate links. If you click through I will get a VERY small portion of what you spend.
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July 14th, 2012

Summer Saturdays

I took exactly one photo today. One. That has to be my all time summer low. And it’s not a photo I’ll post here, since it doesn’t pass the “will Nora hate me when she googles her name later on in life” test. I post things I know she can laugh at, not things that might make her coil in embarrassment. So.

So my Summer Saturday might seem dull, but it wasn’t. There are no photos because I was out there all day with Miles and Nora, not behind the iPhone camera screen.

We started with our first swim lessons of the summer – a simultaneous feat of a class for Nora and a parent-child class for Miles. It worked so well. Just as I had hoped.

We spent our afternoon at the pool with friends. And we all were in the water, playing with the kids, watching them finding their way, showing off their skills.

We spent our evening at a housewarming party. The kind of party that takes Nora 20 minutes of watching from a corner until she takes off and quickly makes a new friend. The kind of party where I chase Miles around as he smiles big at everyone and tries to get into trouble. The kind of party where I say five words to maybe five people and then it is time to go.

So there are no Saturday photos. And that’s ok. The photos weren’t the purpose of my summer Saturday blogs – the slowing down to take stock of the moments of the day was the point. And, you know what, I have gotten pretty good this summer at doing that every day.

Next week I’ll be linking up with Life On The Mama Track and My Time As Mom for the Essence of Now series. Because that was what Summer Saturdays was really about. Capturing the essence of now – of these days, with these kids, as they are at this moment. Because parenthood and childhood and toddlerhood all changes at warp speed, the phases come and go sometimes before you take time to realize they were here in the first place. And that’s what my blog really is all about in the first place – the essence of us, of this journey, of now.

And since I can’t leave this post with no photos…

Yesterday Miles explored the essence of rain – a rare sight here in Texas over the last year. The first night it rained this week he looked out the window and squealed with joy. And so when it rained again yesterday, I let him and Nora out to play. And he loved it.

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July 12th, 2012

Remodel: Week 9

For the last two weeks we’ve had an open wound running through the remodel space. It was crying out to be fixed, filled in, tended to. And this week it was. Ken, his brother and a good friend poured concrete into the long gash into the floor. Miles, Nora and I listened as they moved the heavy bags of concrete into the space, negotiated the tasks of adding water, discussed the consistency of concrete and seemingly had fun while doing this not-so-fun job. And now, once the windows and doors are back on after painting, the space will be whole – injury free and ready to be prepped for the final stages of the project.

And Ken’s brother also realized that the dumpster doubles as a nice drying rack for the clothes he was washing while he was here. I’m sure our neighbors are as ready as I am to get this whole thing done.

The electric work has been started, the plumbing work is DONE! And now Ken and I are moving on to having exciting conversations about air conditioning registers. Ken spends hours in front of the computer trying to figure out a new plan for ductwork, what makes sense to change and update and what we should leave. He turns to me and asks me my opinion about duct systems and ceiling registers. Our ceilings currently sport circular vents. We’d prefer rectangular. Ken keeps talking and my eyes glaze over. I don’t really care about any of this stuff. I know it all has to happen – plumbing, electric, new concrete, new A/C ducts. But I want the pretty stuff.

So I started pinning. I’m relieving my remodel stress on Pinterest (follow me if you want a glimpse…). Will that help? Make it worse? I don’t know. But week 9. No kitchen. No kitchen in the near future. No new pretty things. No new pretty things in the near future. But there are lots of pretty things on the Internet…

I’m off to pin…

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July 11th, 2012

Our Brand Of Crazy

One of my earliest memories of Ken as a father is standing in line at the grocery store, Nora in her carrier perched precariously in the cart, a mom and her son in front of us in line. The little boy was wearing super-hero pajamas with a cape velcroed on the back. It was the middle of the day, not time for pajamas, but he didn’t care. He was rocking the super-hero costume.

“How long until we take her to the grocery store in costume?” Ken asked. That tiny baby who wanted to feed and sleep and feed and sleep wasn’t nearly as exciting to him as the kid in a cape.

Now it’s our turn to rock the costumes, to go out in public and announce our special brand of crazy. The good kind of crazy.

Our brand of crazy includes a plastic puppy that seems to be our constant summer companion. We’ve taken the plastic puppy, named “pup” of course”, to the pet store, where we were certainly stared at, and on walks around the neighborhood, where neighbors with dogs of the real sort smile in acknowledgment.

We play dress up. And lately even Miles has joined in. And if this photo isn’t classic crazy, I don’t know what is.

And we have our back yard pool kind of crazy. The goggle-wearing in 10 inches of water kind of crazy.

Lately, as we fall asleep, Ken and I have been recounting the crazy moments. “Did you see Miles wearing the Mr. Potato Head glasses?” “Did you hear Nora saying, ‘No Way?’ like she’s already a tween?”

They’re crazy. The kind of crazy that makes you love being a parent, that makes you happy when people stare at you sporting a pink and green and white beaded necklace with teacup charms that was lovingly made by your child at camp. The kind of crazy that causes almost anyone paying attention to stop and look and smile. The kind of crazy that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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July 10th, 2012

Tuesday Night Date Night

When it’s summer and you don’t have to work on Wednesday, you can have date night on Tuesday.

Date night. All we really needed was to get out of the house alone together. We could have just driven off, aimlessly, alone in the car. And that would have been enough, really.We still would have gotten to skip bath time and bed time and endless negotiations related to the ending of the day.

But we went to dinner. Enjoyed each other’s company. Walked down a favorite street until the thunder and lightning threatened us and we retreated to the car, then to a quieter spot with a covered patio.

And we watched the storm roll in, the sky light up, the rain fall down.

Tuesday night. Date Night.

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July 9th, 2012

Car Nap Route Map

Today was a car nap day. Nora went to camp and was tired but refusing to admit it. Miles’ schedule was all off since Nora was at camp and I let him play as he wished while she was gone. Then the plumber came into our “living” room and said he was going to cut a hole in the wall to repair a hose bib. And that was it. Into the car we went.

I’ve driven many miles letting my children (mostly Nora) nap peacefully in a carseat. It may not be the environmentally friendly thing to do. Gas prices may make it so that the nap actually ends up costing me more than the peace it brings. But sometimes a car nap is necessary. And, depending on my mood at the time I start the engine, a car nap can take me down many routes.

My car nap route map – match your mood with the right route for you:

Option 1: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Your mood:

You’re feeling old. Maybe you found a new wrinkle appearing on your forehead. Maybe a former student just posted on facebook that they are married, or having a baby or turning 20 when it seems like you just taught them yesterday and they can’t possibly be that old because then that would mean you’re old too. Maybe you went shopping and as you roll your stroller through the young, hip stores you used to frequent you suddenly feel like a mom imposter in a college kids’ store.

Your route:

This only works if you still live in the city where you either a) went to college b) spent your early 20s or c) met your significant other, but get in the car and drive down memory lane. Literally. Start at the house where your now-husband used to live when you met him. Proceed onto the local haunts you used to frequent – the coffee shops where you studied, the bars where you hung out, the corner stores you walked to for late night snacks. Drive down the residential streets and think about how nice it would be to live in those houses, with those porches and windows and picket fences. Think of how young you’d feel there. Proceed from there to the edges of the college campus. Don’t go too far in – that will only make you feel older – but get close enough that you can see the sights, hear the sounds and maybe even smell the moments when you were young and free and learning of all the world has to offer you. Then drive home and be thankful that all of that is behind you.

Option 2: The Grass Is Always Greener

Your Mood:

You’re feeling optimistic – thinking that your career is growing, your family is growing, your bank account is growing. You think about all the possibilities that lie out there in your city, all the neighborhoods that have hills, and trees, and good schools, and restaurants in walking distance. You think that you belong somewhere else, somewhere better. 

Your Route:

Drive to the neighborhood where you looked for houses but couldn’t really afford them. Where the tree-lined streets make every house look like a home. Where kids ride their bikes without parents trailing right behind because the streets are safe and not very busy. Where there is a good school, a nice park, people you know. Drive around and look. And then drive back home and realize that really your neighborhood has all of those things too, even if there aren’t quite enough trees lining the streets.

Option 3: The Glamour Shot

Your Mood:

You’re bored. After reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the twentieth time, after changing your 8 millionth diaper, after singing nursery songs and answering a seemingly endless string of questions, you need something to do. But you can’t do anything because it is nap time. And because you just want your child to sleep and they just want you to read Brown Bear, Brown Bear just. one. more. time. You can’t do it so you load them in the car and hope for a temporary escape.

Your Route:

Drive to the fanciest part of town – the part with the curvy roads winding up and down hills, with houses hidden behind big fences and expensive landscaping, with rumors of celebrity sightings, with large vistas of lakes and hills and houses and boats and rocks and parts of your city that you forget even exist as you are wiping butts and cleaning up piles of toys. Proceed to get lost in the neighborhoods where they houses sit purposefully on hilltops, where neatly pruned lawns invite you to gaze a bit longer. As you drive, contemplate the excitement of living in such a place. Then drive home, reach for your sleeping children and get back to the glory of diapers and dishes.

 

Today I drove the kids down memory lane. They slept. I reminisced.  And we all got what we needed.

What are your favorite car nap routes?

 

 

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