Thursday, December 10, 2009

While Mom's Tucked Away...

Yesterday was a snow day. Yay. (Note the sarcasm.) I knew I was days away from finishing my novel and I planned a week long sprint to the finish. A snow day threw a serious wrench in the process. But I was a good mommy-- I bundled children up to go out into arctic temperatures to play in the inch of snow we were covered with. I made pancakes and hot chocolate for breakfast and turkey paninis for lunch. And promptly at 1:00 I checked out of the mommy shift and went to work at my author job while Julia and Jenna were cleaning their room and the two little ones took naps.

But somewhere in the day, my powder room was invaded by squirrels.

Or small children. I discovered this "nest" when I used the powder room this morning. These kids are making me work for it but the joke's on them. If all goes well (meaning hours of writing) I will finish my book TODAY. Oh, yeah.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dance Party

Hello, I'm Denise and I'm pretty much musically illiterate. I've spent the last 20 years listening to music sung by rodents, puppets and dancing vegetables. I can sing every Yo Gabba Gabba song ever written. But real music? Not so much.

Between writing and working out at the gym, I've found that music is indispensable but honestly, who wants to challenge themselves on an elliptical machine to There's A Party In My Tummy? Seriously. That's when I became acquainted with the iPod portion of my iPhone, the very same phone that I got with the world's most expensive cup of coffee. I used to have an iPod but Ross broke his and "borrowed" mine: aka he never returned it. But truthfully, I didn't miss it. I hardly had any music on it. So when I started writing and working out I needed music and who better to turn to? My boys. They hooked me up and before I knew it, I was listening to music on my head phones all the time.

But sometimes you want to share your music, especially when you find yourself listening to the same CD all day long, you just gotta share the love, you know? So I bought myself an iPod/iPhone docking station with a speaker for Christmas and now we listen to music all the time. Okay, so my kids are positively sick of listening to Watchout! There's Ghosts ***, I'm the mom. Go somewhere else. Or stay and dance. Yes, with all this music floating in the air spontaneous dance parties are bursting out at all times.

Dancing is great for many reasons. It makes the kids get their energy out. I get to burn some energy off after sitting in a chair all day and we have fun dancing together. Oh, and I also usually look like a fool, but what's new? Tonight we made a video one of our dance parties. Yes, there is a video with me dancing to Black Eyed Peas Boom Boom Pow. No, it will not be posted to this blog. But here are the girls dancing minus Ryan, who decided he just wanted to watch. Oh, and this is pretty tame stuff. We're usually wilder than this.

Yeah, I taught them all their moves.

*** If you decide to click the link on Watchout! There's Ghosts bear throught the first 20 seconds or so of "screaming" it gets so much better!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Garden Hose

I'm sitting at my desk looking at a black garden hose laying in my back yard. It's been there for over a week. It was against the house until the kids went out there one day and decided to drag it around the yard. And there it sits, where they deserted it, waiting to be moved.

My car needs an oil change and when the weather gets cold the tires always need air. When our cold snap hit yesterday, the tire light came on my dashboard, along with the low fuel light. I thought of trying to see how many check engine lights I could get lit up but decided against it. So yesterday morning, I stopped at the gas station and filled up my tank and drove my car over to the air and filled my tires. Because no one else is going to do it.

When Darrell died, I became a single mother to four children. I did not choose that. But when I adopted 2 more children and became a single mother to six, I did choose that. I chose this life, this crazy, chaotic mess of a life. You'll not hear me complain. Freely choosing this life strips me of all complaining rights. Most of the time I just accept it, revel in it even, 95% of the time I love my life.

But sometimes being a single mother sucks.

The dogs have been out of food since Friday. Not to worry, they've dined like little queens. They've had deli turkey and scrambled eggs I cooked specifically for them. I should have gone to the grocery store but between hauling kids to parties and putting up Christmas trees, and God forbid even trying to write, the thought of loading the small children in their puffy coats into and out of the car seats put me in overwhelm. So I didn't go. Until this morning, because too many eggs for a dog is bad news and Julia has a choir concert and her new pair of show choir shoes hurt her feet. Three days ago I promised I'd get her inserts for her shoes and I hadn't gotten them yet. At 8:30 this morning, I left my small children who had been up since before 6:00 in Julia's care and went to the store to get food, inserts, Christmas ornament hooks and a Starbucks Mocha, because some days I just deserve one. (Some days I don't but I get it anyway.) I came home with everything except the ornament hooks.

Sometimes when the little kids are up before the sun, I wish I could roll over and tell someone else. "It's your turn." Or if I don't feel like making dinner, I wish I had someone else to make it instead of resorting to chicken nuggets or fast food. I wish I had someone to take my car to get its oil changed and the brakes fixed. I wish when I try to hide in my room to write a post I swore I'd never write, that my children wouldn't stream in one by one with their complaints and their cries. I wish someone else would break up their fights, play referee, deal with their crankiness. But I won't complain; I have no right to complain. I chose this.

I'm still sitting at my desk looking out into the yard as I write this and that damn garden hose is still there. I should just get up from this chair and go down and drag in around to the front of the house into the garage. But I think I'll leave it for now. That's something I can complain about.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

When I was on my 4 day, child free, woman only getaway last month, we went to a very popular restaurant for a late breakfast. Imagine 13 boisterous women at a very long table in a small room. To say it was loud is an understatement. We laughed and talked and had such a great time that we ran off an older couple sitting at a table nearby. They literally asked to be moved because we were so loud. When we were finished eating, I went to the bathroom and passed a table with seven women in the main dining room. They were prim and proper and very sedate and as I walked by I thought to myself "Thank God I'm not at that table."

Yesterday, I went and got my hair done, part of the continuation of "It's all about me" phase. (More accurately it should be "more about me"  but I like the sound of "all about me" so I'm sticking to it.) It had been awhile since I'd been and I had some wicked roots going on.  The salon I go to is the one that did my makeover last year, so they know me there and know my "past," which is always a bonus.  It was a last minute appointment so I ended up with my cut first and highlights second, not the usual order of things.  The owner of the salon cuts my hair and he's an awesome guy, but I have so much more fun with the stylist who colors my hair, Allen.

Allen is a hot mess. He's gay and not afraid to let the world know it, so consequently, he's entertaining.  I sat in his chair and as he played with my hair, he asked what color we were going with that day for the highlights.  I told him the same, unless he had other ideas, which I was open to.  We agreed to go with the same but then Allen suggested I go with his color, which is completely dark and unhighlighted.  Without missing a beat, I told him I thought that was a great idea because then I could be come his stalker.  It all went down hill from there.  By the time he was done putting foil in my hair, we were laughing so much that the entire salon was trying to figure out what was going on with us and the stylist and her client next to us.  Our conversation covered many topics from my book and my second project which we determined will be a book about Allen.  The first sentence will be: "Once upon a time there was a diva stylist and he was a hot mess."  It went onto how I could stalk him at the karaoke clubs he goes to on Wednesday and Sunday nights. and his love for Lady Gaga and how he's learning the dance to Bad Romance, which I offered to learn and dance with him at my next appointment.  When I left I had some really great hair but also half my makeup smeared off from laughing so much I cried.

Today I went to Starbucks to write.  Ryan changed preschools so its more difficult to hook up with my SIL Janne' but we determined that I would go write and she would drop in and see me.    Soon after she arrived my friend Heather, who calls herself my stalker, showed up because she was driving by and recognized our vans. (See, she really is a stalker.) We spent the hour or more talking (which included a litany of the many ways multiple pets have met their tragic end in our household) and laughing so much people were straining to look at us tucked in my little writers nook. (I usually sit in a corner behind the counter where no one can see me- explanation below.)  When they  left, they apologized for staying so long and interrupting my writing and I realized how truly lucky I am.  How many people have so many friends that make them laugh on such a consistent basis?  And how is it that it took me so many years to find them?

* I hide when I write because when I first started going away to write last year, my boys would make fun of me. They told me that people only went to Starbucks with their laptops so they could look cool.  They then proceeded to show me which included them banging their fingers on a table top, turning their heads right and left, occasionaly picking up an imaginary coffee cup with one hand while "typing" with the other and saying "Look at me!  I'm working!  I'm writing!  Look at me!"  Consequently, I was forever scarred and became a hideaway writer.  Look for me in the corner of your nearest Starbucks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What About Me?

Recently, I realized that I was no longer me.

Somewhere along the way, we mothers lose ourselves. We are no longer the women we once were but instead become Trace/Ross/Julia/Jenna/Ryan/Emma’s (fill in your own blank) mother. Our lives revolve around the early milestones of our babies and evolve into taxi services transporting our older children from activity to activity. Before we know it, we spend most of our waking hours taking care of our children’s needs and neglecting our own.

I’ve pondered this lately. I love being a mom, obviously. If I didn’t I would have stopped with kid #1 or 2 instead of having 6. But lately, I feel that my children’s needs have over shadowed my own, almost to the point of my own resentment. When is it my turn? When do my own needs count?

I had the most wonderful opportunity to go away for 4 glorious kid free days. I met an amazing group of women, fellow bloggers, some of whom I already knew via the internet, and some I had never even visited their blogs. Thirteen of us shared a 5 bedroom, 3 ½ bath house in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We laughed until we cried. We talked and bonded and created terms that will forever have new significance whenever we hear them (Hot Dish-Both Ways and That’s What She Said, to name a few.) I didn’t change a single diaper, serve a single child, wipe anyone’s nose, break up any fights. I fixed my hair EVERY DAY. I wore it down instead of my usual pony tail. I wore makeup and clothes without snot or food smeared across my shoulders and pant legs. I focused on me and I asked another mom the second day “Am I a bad mother because I’m not missing my kids even a tiny bit?”

I came home refreshed, relaxed and was greeted by a house full of children happy to see me and instead of being ready to jump back into my life, I came back reluctantly, unwillingly, and wanting for more. And like any “good” mother, I beat myself up one side and down the other for feeling that way. What kind of mother am I??? Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy to see my children but I continued to ask “What about me?”

Where along the line did we mother’s think that we had to give ourselves completely to our children and our spouses, leaving nothing for ourselves? And worse yet, when we do take time for ourselves, why do we find ourselves consumed with guilt?

I’ve tried to understand coming home from my trip only wanting more and I think I finally know. I’ve been running on empty for awhile and one trip didn’t fill up the “me” tank. Maybe giving myself permission to write a book and take a trip without my kids only made the need for me more apparent.

Our children are selfish creatures. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it's human nature. So the fact is that we will never give our children enough. They will always want more. It occurred to me this week that maybe we’re actually doing our children a disservice by focusing all our attention on them. They grow up selfish and egocentric. Maybe we’re actually doing them a favor if we show them that we’re real people, with real needs that sometimes have absolutely nothing to do with them. Maybe we’re teaching our daughters that it’s okay for mothers to have interests outside of their children. Maybe we’re teaching our sons that their future wives need time to themselves. Maybe, just maybe, we’re teaching our children that life isn’t all about them and to think of someone else’s feelings, even if the person just so happens to be their mother.

November has turned out to be the month of “me.” I’ve focused on writing my book so many nights dinner consists of chicken nuggets, frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese. I took my trip. This week I have activities 3 nights in a row (Wicked last night, New Moon tonight, a girl’s night out tomorrow night) and part of me feels guilty. But the fact remains that I’m there for my kids most of the time. I’m still taxi mom. I still kiss the booboos away, whether physical or emotional. My children still know that they are my favorite preteen/little girl/little boy/baby girl in the whole world. I read them books, tuck them at night and they know, hopefully without a shadow of a doubt, that I love them no matter what, with a love that knows no depth nor limit. And maybe, just maybe, if I love myself a little more, I’ll have even a little more love for them. The key, I think, is finding the balance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kansas City Ink - Family Style

A few months ago I posted about Kansas City Ink's newest artist, Emma.

She had just made a big splash onto the Kansas tat scene with her wide range of talents.  In true LA Ink style, Emma made KC Ink a family shop.

Meet Kansas City Ink's newest tattoo artist, her brother Ryan.  I had no idea that Ryan had any type of tattooing skills until this morning when I discovered him tatting his sister.

 Emma was a very patient client and willingly stayed still while Ryan worked on his master piece.

While Emma's designs lean towards more free form with flowing lines...

 Ryan's designs are much more linear.  (I suppose taking my children to church is paying off.  It looks like Ryan is giving Emma a cross.)

This was a joint effort.  Emma had already inked herself when Ryan decided to add is own touches.  If you look closely, you can see who contributed what.

Apparently, Ryan is now taking new clients.  Reserve you space today!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chasing Rainbows

Almost 4 years ago I learned that life is short.  You can plan to do things "some day" but some day may never come.

When I was a little girl I loved to read.  I also loved to write.  In the 4th grade I had a dream that I loved so much I decided to write it down.  I got a spiral notebook and hand wrote 40 pages, front and back, before I stopped.  I don't really remember what the dream was about but I still remember the burning desire to take the dreams in my head and put them on paper. I still have that burning desire.

My blog has reincarnated a part of me that was long lost, the writer.  I love putting our crazy stories into words (and photos.)  I love being able to use my imagination to come up with some of the off the wall ideas that make it on my blog.  But there's a part of me that wants more.

I was writing the story of Darrell's accident and death.  I know there's a story to tell but it's a painful one.  The farther I get from it sometimes the harder it is to revisit it.  So, for now, that project is on hold.

This past summer the seed of an idea was planted in my head.  The idea of a story.  The story grew, and changed and by September I had a plot of a novel.  I researched.  I organized my plot in a flow chart on a dry erase board.  I wrote part of my first chapter, the seed that grew into the plot on my board.  And then I stopped.

Writing a book is a daunting task.  There's a lot of words.  There's a lot of planning.  Characters, plots, subplots, motivation.  But there's also fear.  What if I can't do it?  What if it's bad?  The entire month of October, two people lived in my head begging to come to life but yet I couldn't do it.  What if I failed?

November is National Novel Writing Month.  Over a decade ago some people got together and challenged themselves to write a novel* in a month, 30 days-- the month of November.  They named it NaNoWriMo. (* A full length novel is actually 80,000-100,000 words which is my ultimate goal.)  I decided NaNoWriMo was exactly what I needed.  I also needed to realize that a first draft can suck, in fact usually does suck. Once I realized that it gave me the freedom to write without fear.

Now on November 8th, I have written 14,071 words, 17, 569 words total when I include what I wrote before.  My story is flying onto the keyboard and the amazing part is that I love it.  It's a first draft, so it's far from perfect, but I love it nevertheless.  But even better is support that I have gotten.

I expected people to call me crazy.  I expected looks of "oh isn't that cute, she thinks she can write a book."  I never expected the full on support that I have received. I never expected people to be excited about my book.  I have been blessed beyond belief to have people ask how it's coming, cheering me on.  This morning at church, my 10 year old nephew Zach asked me what my current word count was. My friend Kathleen, a doctor, answers my every medical research question, even the most mundane,  and is happy to do it.  My friend Kristi, a medical transcriptionist, answers every question I have about the job of a transcriptionist.  I've had 3 people offer to edit my book when it's done.

I ask myself, if all these people believe in me without hesitation, how can I not?

And so I write and my heart fills with joy with every word that goes onto my screen and I think maybe, just maybe, I've finally found myself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Holiday Card Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I told you about my friend Tommi who made a beautiful digital scrap book for Emma's adoption. In the process, she created her own website and desided to start offering her services to other people.  To promote her Christmas card designs she's offering a Holiday card giveaway and since I've been such a tightwad lately and haven't had one in ages, I decided to pass on the information on hers!

Ready to send out your holiday cards? Thinking of the hassle and stress that comes with along with it? Worried about the extra expense this year? Let us help!

A holiday card should come from the heart, but should not have to cost a fortune. It is a simple way to send a warm smile and share the season with your friends and family.

By purchasing your Holiday Photo Cards at Ladybugs and Red Thread Scrap, you are also sending a smile to a child across the world. 5% of each order directly benefits the children of Vietnam through our charity Moms for Vietnam. Our current efforts are focused on Typhoon Ketsana relief packages, which include emergency food and blankets. This terrible storm left hundreds dead and thousands without shelter. With your purchase, you can help make a difference this Holiday Season!

Enter to win a complete set of (25) Holiday Photo Cards with the design of your choice! The GIVEAWAY begins Friday, November 6th at 10:00am EST. The GIVEAWAY ends on Tuesday, November 10th at 10:00am EST when the winner will be announced!  Visit Ladybugs and Red Thread Scrap Shoppe to
Enter the Holiday Photo Card GIVEAWAY!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some Things Are Better Shown Off At Home and Not School

Ryan has made remarkable progress since he started preschool. Since August he now knows all his colors and can even count. I wrote his name and Julia, Jenna and Emma's names on index cards and he can point to each card and tell me who's name it is. But when he sees the letter "R" he doesn't call it an R, he points excitedly and says "That's my name!"

This morning he was writing on a dry erase board as I was preparing to take him to preschool and I wrote an "R" on the board.

"That's my name!"

"Yes, it's the first letter in your name. It's an R." I drew another one and told him to try to write one. He wrote a P so I told him that the R was missing his "leg." I added one and finished loading the dishwasher. When I checked back on him I found that he had written several R's.

 On the 3rd R, Ryan decided to personify it.  The Mr. R has a face, hair, arms and hands.  And something else.

How do I know it's Mr. R? Ryan excitedly showed me that the R had a peepee. Anatomically correct letters, yeah.  Hopefully Ryan won't show off his new found writing skills at preschool today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Bible History With Jenna

We went to church tonight (they had brisket, thank you very much), which meant that Jenna, my first grader, went to her bible class.  Jenna came running to me after class was over to show me her treasure:  a Nigerian coin given to her and the other children by a man who spoke to their class.  On the way home, I asked Jenna some questions.

"Was the man a missionary?"  I asked.

"Huh?"  This obviously stumped her.  "He was somewhere where they have houses made from mud and straw."

Since her coin was Nigerian I suggested perhaps it was Africa. She agreed that it might have been.  "What did he say?"  I asked.

"You know when Jesus sailed around on a boat with 11 guys and tested them?  Yeah, he was with them."

"The man was on a boat with Jesus?"

"Yeah, he was on a boat with Jesus and they sailed around for about a year and then Jesus told them to go heal people."

"Jenna, Jesus lived about 2000 years ago.  Did this guy look really old?"

"No, he looked kind of young."

"But he sailed around with Jesus?"

"Yeah, for a year with those 11 guys."

"What 11 guys?"

Jenna was becoming very frustrated with 20 questions.  "You know, the 11 guys."

"The apostles?"

"Yeah, them."

"And they were tested?  How were they tested?  Did they do math tests?  Spelling tests?"

"Mom!"  I had gone too far with that one.  "Don't you know this story?"

I was wracking my brain trying to figure out a story with Jesus testing 11 guys on a boat for a year.  Nothing came to mind.  I decided it might be better to let this one go and covertly call my sister-in-law Janne' in the morning to find out what my nephews told her.

"So this guy was with Jesus?"

"Yeah, but he's retired now."

"Who? Jesus?"

"No! The guy."

"Wow,"  I said. "I'd really like to meet somebody who sailed with Jesus for a year.  I'd like to shake his hand but I probably better not."

"Why not?"  Jenna asked.

"Well, if I shook his hand it might fall off considering he's over 2000 years old.  He's probably not in very good shape."

"Oh, Mom!"

I'll be lucky if she ever shares another bible lesson with me again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

OCD at Work

All of my children have been messy slobs free spirited children who couldn't be bothered to clean up the messes creations they have made upon the path of life.  The consequence of this, of course, is that their rooms and the rest of the house are often in a state of chaos.  But then there came Ryan, little Ryan with his OCD tendencies.  After 5 children, I finally got a child with organizational skills.

I'm not complaining about Ryan's OCD traits.  If anything, I'm fascinated.  It's like looking into the mind of a savant.  Ryan doesn't like his food to touch on his plate and will direct where his food should be place.  Ryan needs extra time to get into his car seat in the car.  He likes to buckle himself, but there's an order and a process to it.  If there should happen to be any extra distractions, like his stuffed dog or his backpack, he thinks they need to be buckled too.  But lately, he's begun packing his own lunch.  Other mothers might be offended that their 3 year old taking over this job, because the way I pack it isn't the way he wants it.  But I just say go for it.

He usually packs it on the kitchen counter but this morning he decided to do it on the kitchen floor.  That's okay, I mopped it last week.

Notice how neatly he has everything placed.  His napkin is laying behind all his food and he's placed his cheese slice in the pocket on the lid.  His clear plastic spoon is laying against the side of the container.

This morning I only gave him half a sandwich so I put it in a plastic bag.  He knew this wasn't right and found his sandwich container. No problem, we'll just put the bag in the container.

Notice how carefully he pats his food to make sure it's in the correct position.

Proud of his work.

Then he found box of dehydrated apple chips and wanted those too.

The lunch box opens up and he found its correct placement.

All in a mornings work.  Now if I can just harness those organizational skills to tackle my house.  Just think what this house could look like.

Monday, October 26, 2009

They Grow Up Too Fast

 Meet Ben 10

Meet Emma

And here's where the two shall meet.

Earlier this morning I found Emma pulling down her pajama bottoms, putting Ben 10 in the crotch and then pulling her bottoms back up.  I thought I had a few more years before I had to worry about a guy in her pants.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Emma's Adoption Scrap Book

After my nightmare adoption with Emma and nightmare first month home, it should come as no surprise I never did anything with all the photos I had taken while in Vietnam. (For the record, I haven't done anything with Ryan's either.) When I want to see the photos, I have to hook up my external hard drive and search through my photo files.

My friend and travel mate Tommi didn't leave the photos of her daughter Anabelle on her laptop . Last year she learned how to digitally scrap book and made the most amazing photo book of her adoption journey to celebrate her one year Gotcha anniversary. And she didn't stop there. She made books for Christmas, Anabelle's birthday, and other memorable moments.  Then she moved on and made books for her friends and family, loving every minute of  helping people get their memories into something tangible.

A couple of weeks ago, Tommi took pity on me and offered to make an adoption book for Emma. She told me to send her the important and memorable photos from my adoption journey and any significant snippets from the emails I sent while I was gone (I didn't update my blog on Emma's adoption journey.) She asked if there was anything specific I wanted her to include, what color preferences I had and then she got to work, often showing me what she had along the way to make sure I was happy with what she was creating. About a week later Tommi had created this:

(This is a slide show of the actual book that Tommi created. You can check it out more here.)

I can't tell you how exited I am to have this book!  I don't have to beat myself up anymore for neglecting our memories.

During the process, Tommi and I realized that I'm not the only person out there who doesn't have the time or talent to create a book like this. Other people need someone to help them get their memories out of their computer files and onto a book they can hold in hands and show off to their friends, family and their children. I'm so excited to tell you that Tommi created Ladybugs and Red Thread Scrap Shoppe! She is now offering her services to others to create lasting memories in several different forms. From brag books, to memory pages and digital scrap books (like Tommi created for me) Tommi can come up with the best option for your needs and your budget.  Also, 5% of all her orders goes to Moms for Vietnam, a non profit group by a group of adoptive mothers who are currently focusing on the immediate need for tsunami relief.

Be sure to go check out her site and see what she can do for YOU!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty

This week is the big week for Julia; it's a full week of dress rehearsals and performances for her school play Alice in Wonderland.  Julia's part is The Duchess.  In the book (which I've never read) The Duchess is hideously ugly and I was worried about how Julia,  aka "Miss Pretty Girl," would feel about that.  After her initial shock, she decided it was okay.  It was a part and it was a good one.  So it was icing on the cake when her drama director didn't make The Duchess ugly after all, in fact she's pretty and regal. Whew.  On the other hand, Julia has had to have her hair up and full makeup on for all 3 rehearsals and all 4 performances this week.  Mom's become a hair dresser.  I'm now taking appointments for updos.

On a positive note, I know where to skimp on the girl's future weddings so I can possibly afford those completely unaffordable wedding dresses without selling my kidneys and/or part of my liver.

It takes awhile to look like this, and it involves a mini curling iron, a half ton of bobby pins and a half can of hair spray.  Emma, ever the opportunist, took advantage of this situation a couple of nights ago.  While I was playing personal stylist, Emma decided to play Makeup Artist.

I looked over at her and in the matter of a couple of minutes, she had found Julia's makeup and an eyebrow brush out of my makeup drawer.

Just in case you're wondering how this brush is supposed to be used.

She looks a little drugged her but rest assured, that's merely the look of intense concentration.  This makeup stuff is tricky business.

I feel pretty.

Emma is now hiring out for makeovers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ryan Makes a Family

Ryan wanted strawberries with his breakfast, which is not unusual.  But this particular morning, he decided to personify them.  He named them Baby (no specific baby, just baby), Ross and Mommy-- because the mommy strawberry has a mouth.  Is he trying to tell me something?

The Sister Act Grows

Emma was over 24 months old and had a vocabulary of about 10 words, to say I was worried is an understatement. But about a month ago, she had a word explosion and her vocabulary grew to about 50-75 words and she even began starting to put together 2 word sentences last week, usually with the word "I" in front. So this morning it came as quite a shock what song my 27 month old chose for her "first song." Another performer in my midst?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

We took our annual trip to the pumpkin patch today.  While last year's trip was warm and sunny, today's trip was the opposite but it didn't seem to dampen any spirits.  The kids were excited because this year they got to go on a hayride!  But first things first. We went to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead in Overland Park, KS which has a model  Kansas farm for kids to interact with.  The best part is that the children's farm is free.

As soon as you walk in you are greeted by a chicken pen.  Emma was fascinated with the chickens.  Ryan was scared.  We then moseyed on to the dairy barn which had real live cows. The girls were excited.  Ryan was scared.

It also had a saddle right out in the middle of the floor which Jenna and Ryan had to try.  Contrary to the evidence above, Ryan is having a good time.  He just doesn't believe in smiling for the camera anymore.  He's moved on from the wink to a more stoic look.  In fact, his preschool pictures were on Thursday and his teacher told me that she had to literally be attacked by Elmo to make him smile.  I'm not sure which should concern me more: the fact that they had to go to such lengths to make him smile or the fact that he found his teacher being mugged amusing.

We then checked out the Indian village, complete with tepees.  The girls quickly decided that they had no desire to live in a tepee.
Next was the baby goat pen, which Ryan was afraid of.  He was completely content to stay outside and watch while...

The girls feed the baby goats.  Emma wasn't frightened at all.  I was more concerned that the goats might eat Toodee, who was in her left hand.

Jenna and Julia both had their turn feeding the goats too.

While Gauge found a new friend.

Next up was the tractor races because what farm experience isn't complete without tractor races?  The farmstead had an oval track for the kids to race their tractor tricycles.

Finally, it was time for the main attraction:  The Hayride and the Pumpkin Patch.

The five of us on the hayride.  I never got a picture of the wagon.  The wagon was pulled by 2 horses which completely freaked Ryan out.  When I came time to climb onto the wagon I had 3 crying children which caused quite the spectacle.  (Good thing I'm used to causing spectacles so it didn't really bother me.)  Ryan was crying because of the horse.  Emma was crying because I put her down to load Ryan onto the wagon and Jenna was crying because she wanted to sit on my lap, which obviously wasn't going to happen.  Once the hayride started, all crying stopped and Ryan thought it was fun.

Cody and Gauge on the hayride.

Once we got to the pumpkin patch there were many things for the kids to do.  There was a giant slide on top of hay bales.  While I got several videos of the kids on the slide, I didn't get any pictures.

The kids then went fishing in a kiddie pool for wooden pumpkins.

While Emma played in a watering trough full of corn.


We then moved onto search for the perfect pumpkins.  The entrance fee to the patch include a pumpkin for each person.  Ryan must have gone through about 20 pumpkins before he left with one.  Notice the happy little guy in this photo.

Compared to the scared little boy last year.  It's amazing the difference a year can make.

Here's the look I got from Jenna most of the day.  From complaining about her boots, to her whining that she was cold, Jenna wasn't a happy girl most of the day.

But she seemed pretty happy when she got her pumpkin.

Emma spent most of her time in the pumpkin patch picking up sticks.  She had no interest in pumpkins.  In fact, when given a pumpkin this was her response:

Some days I wish I could give a pumpkin a good spike too.


We knew it was time to go when spiking pumpkins wasn't fun any longer and Emma just wanted to be held.  Nevertheless, the pumpkin patch was a smashing success.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.