Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Showers...

...bring MUDDY boys.  As is typical for my two, once the weather warms up and before the sun dries up the Spring puddles, my boys love, love, love to get wet and dirty.  In previous years we'd have to head to the Homestead to splash in Mom & Dad (Grandma & Grandpa's) puddles but this year we have our very own!  It was nice and warm today so I let the boys get downright filthy in the puddles (lakes!) we have forming in our front yard.  It's so much fun to watch my boys be boys.  They love to jump, splash, throw wet leaves, get mud between their toes, you name it.  It might take a special pre-treating soak in OxyClean and/or a couple stained clothes that will forever reside in the "play clothes" pile but that is ok by me.  Look at the sheer joy on their faces!!  Totally worth it!

Monday, April 25, 2011


I know I should put something up here on this blog, but to be honest...I've got nothing.  Don't get me wrong, there is a LOT going on up here (points to her head), but nothing that's making it out of there alive.  In fact, there's so much going on up there that if it DID come out, it would be some convoluted story about Easter in Portland with goats and ice cream.  Exactly.  Too much going on for any of it to come out making any sense.  So, I will give you this:  a deeply regretful apology for being so lame, and photos of (two of) the most handsome boys you'll ever lay eyes on.

You're welcome.  "Talk" to you again soon!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Very Merry Half-birthday

I wanted to post this a few weeks ago on Alex's actual "half-birthday" but was on a train with no internet access at the time.  Since then it's just been crazy and hectic so I haven't followed through until now.  Regardless of its late posting, it's still uber important to capture these fleeting and totally lovable traits about my Digger Fuzz Bucket right now.  This picture in time of my precious (conniving, troublesome, adorable, precious, lovable) 2 1/2 year old is brought to you by, well, ME!

Alex - 2 years, 6 months
(barely) weighs 25 lbs.

Alex (loosely) wears size 18M clothes, size 7 shoes, and may never get out of size 3 diapers.
He's familiar with the concept of potty training but inconsistent with its delivery.

Alex talks up a storm and can say anything he wants in long, complex sentences rivaling those of a literary writer, but he still has some cute versions of certain words like:
"reego"  (yogurt)
"oh-pahs" (apples)
"boff" (garbage)
likes to "pay fains" (play trains)
will ask "is dis/dat?"
"watch dis"
is every bit as animated and creative as his brother
says "far F*ck" for firetruck
"uh, SIR!" (sure!)
"no way!"
he says chicken "POOP" instead of "coup"
Loves berries of all kinds and pretty much calls them all "Boo-bees" - he's starting to make a distinction though with "Back-bees" and "Stah-bees" :)

Alex is addicted (beyond hope!) to his "fway" (pacifier) and must have "ket" (blanket) when he's bored, needing comfort, tired, sleeping, or otherwise just plain sitting still.  He has two that are (more or less) the same and when he demands both he'll ask "where nah won (another one) ket go?" He has the most adorable habit of meticulously folding his blanket up along the edge and then picking at it with his free hand.  LOVE IT!

I love how he simultaneously smells of dirt, baby powder, and syrup...almost always.

He loves to paint and color, mostly himself, but sometimes on paper.  He could spend hours eating playing with play-doh.  And loves stickers.

Every night before bedtime he brushes his teeth and then says "pick one?" which means he wants to pick a band aid from the arsenal of character band aids I've collected over the years.  It usually winds up on the floor or on his bedroom wall to be removed later, but at first it starts out on the "boo boo" of the day...sometimes real, sometimes fictional but always healed miraculously by his bedtime band aid.

He's become "Velcro Boy" lately and needs to be physically attached to me at all times.  Especially come bedtime.  I love the snuggle time but hate feeling manipulated at times.  I keep reminding myself that this, too, is fleeting, and someday (soon!) he'll be pushing me away and telling me to Go! like his brother used to.  I will enjoy every hug, kiss, carry, and snuggle he requests until that time!

Alex loves to dance and will do so whenever the mood strikes.  Whether it be a commercial on TV, a song on the radio in the grocery store, or entertaining friends with a song and dance over dinner.  His favorite line to catch a laugh is "Should be dancin', yeah!" and he'll sing it and wave his arms up and down just to get his beloved Brie to giggle.  It works like magic.  Every time.

Besides dancing, eating, painting/coloring, making a mess, splashing in water, playing in mud, and snuggling with Mommy, I'd say Alex's #1 passion is torturing his big brother.  Oh how he torment poor Nate so.  He'll jump on him, climb on him, sit on him, stand between him and whatever he's doing, knock over a creation, destroy a fire scene, or just haul off and smack him for no good reason at any given time.  He's a little instigator and one heck of a trouble maker!

I could go on and on but I'll leave something for his official 3 year post in September!!  All I know is this boy enriches my life in more ways than you can imagine.  He's my baby, my shadow, my buddy, and my SUNSHINE!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I learned...

While traveling some 2,200 miles on a train with my boys and two of our favorite people, I learned quite a bit.

First and foremost I learned that I am not crazy, as many thought when I told them of our plans.  I knew it would be a challenge with a 2 and (barely) 5-year-old but I vowed to go into it with an open mind and an adventurous soul and was blessed with immeasurable rewards in return.  I want to thank Tiffany and Brielle for taking on this journey with us because not only did it make the trip that much more fun and memorable, but it gave me the courage and support I needed to forge ahead when so many thought I was insane!  Especially since when Tiff signed on for this trip she originally thought I was suggesting a trip to Portland, MAINE.  HA!

I learned that people FROM Oregon, do NOT pronounce it Or-eh-gone as I had, but rather, Or-uh-gin with a soft g sound).

I learned that the people here are all amazing! Sweet. Helpful. Friendly. Polite. Even, dare I say, genuine? Great group of people!

I learned that a city really can be clean and cultured and safe and pleasant all at the same time!!  Portland must have some amazing systems in place because I have never seen a cleaner City.  The buildings were clean, the streets were clean (and liter free!), and everywhere you went they offered "green" options (hold the bag, skip the coffee liner, reduce, recycle, reuse!).  They even had these most fabulous solar powered garbage compost bins.  Throw your garbage in and solar energy compacts it somehow.  Pretty cool.  It must be a healthy city, too...everywhere you went there were bike racks (even little kid ones outside their daycares/schools) and there was a big push for biking, for example, bike trails and bike lanes).  I waited at a stop light in a line of cars that was just as long as the line of bikers on their daily commute.  So cool!

I learned that train travel is so much better than plane travel. Even with the delays and extra time it takes, it sure beats the anxiety and stuffiness of flying. I’d take the adventure over the convenience any day!!  You have to go into it with a flexible attitude but that is just up my alley!  We were treated like royalty and most of the staff were wonderful and sweet!

I learned that traveling anywhere with my two small children is NOT crazy, it’s FUN. They are troopers. They adjust so easily to any circumstance or situation, they’re flexible, they go with the flow and they love the adventure as much as I do. Sure they had their moments when listening, behaving, and taking naps were not their strongest skills, but considering the excitement, the chaos, the schedule, and the time changes, I think they were amazing!!

I learned that I really do have the best family! They are worth traveling across the WORLD for, much less across the country! I have been blessed with a family I am proud to call mine. I wish Marc & Lindsay the best of everything in their new life together and am so glad I was able to make it to their wedding. What a great time! Welcome to the family, Lindsay!!

I learned that this country of ours is gorgeous.  Just as I had made an assumption that certain states were boring (North Dakota was flat, Montana was snowy and blowy), our return trip would show me the beautiful trees "sugared" in freshly fallen snow in North Dakota.  Or I'd get to see Montana on a bright, sunny day with the bluest sky you've ever seen!  And Washington...oh, Washington.  What a beautiful state!  The mountains and the lakes...and how the later reflects the former!  It was a sight to behold!  I could spend days just soaking in the sights of Washington!  Oregon was gorgeous itself - everything covered in the most glorious green you've ever seen.  Coming from the drab brown and stark white of winter in New York, this was magnificent!  

Most importantly, I learned that if you don't DO what you dream, then you're just hollowly TALKING about your goals.  And talking about it doesn't get you any closer to actually living your dreams.  I am so glad to have made this trip and look forward to many more adventures to check off my "bucket list"!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More Lessons to Learn...

A visit to the Homestead is always a learning lesson for the boys.  I love visiting my parents because there is so much rich tradition to soak in.  I hadn't planned to stop over to visit today but my sister and niece were visiting so I dropped in and inadvertently interfered in wood cutting day.  I wasn't prepared to help much much I kept the kids out of the way and out of the creek while managing to get some cute photos of them playing in the woods.  

The entire walk back to the creek was one giant learning lesson with Grandma as our tour guide.

First, she stopped to show the boys where a raccoon was perched high in a tree, sleeping its "night" away.  

As we walked through the park and down the path, she made sure to point out every deer track and even found the tunnel made by a mole in the dirt.  She doesn't just make sure the boys see them, she tells stories, uses details to teach them about the animal that made the track or why they travel/eat/hunt/sleep the way they do.  It's a learning lesson for ME and love watching my boys soak it all up!

 When we got to the creek, we learned about water currents, tadpoles, water spiders, gravity, and more.  It's remarkable what there is to learn simply by being outside.

We found some "eatin' grass" (chives) the boys got to sample.

 And then stopped again to inspect the tunnel made by the mole.  Fascinating stuff!

At work I write grants for the youth in our service and have recently learned of a very real phenomenon called Nature Deficit Disorder.  Richard Louv wrote a book entitled Last Child in the Woods about this problem and spotlights a "trend that children are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems." (Wikipedia) There are real world lessons to be learned by getting outside and taking in what nature has to offer.  Everything from Math to Science can be learned simply by getting out and surrounding yourself with the sights, sounds, smells, and happenings in nature.  It amazes me the differences in children who have experiences like my children are afforded and urban kids who don't get outside to learn such lessons. It makes me even more grateful for my upbringing, my amazing family, and the legacy that I get the share with my children. 

The story of how our cross country journey came to be...

Oh, where do I start? What an amazing trip to Oregon!  Many friends/relatives following my trip on Facebook asked for details on how this trip came about and how it was planned.  So I thought I'd tell the "story" of how the trip came to be...

When I first got word that my cousin, Marc, was getting married in March in OREGON, I thought there was NO way I'd be able to make it across the country for the second time in less than a year.  I had just flown to Arizona for my cousin, Todd's, wedding in April 2010 and was quite sure that finances and time off would preclude me making another trip of that caliber.  Then I got the official (fabulously funky) invite in the mail and a sweet, handwritten note from the bride that said she understood it was a haul but that she'd really love it if I could make it because I had made her feel especially welcome when she met our family the previous year.  How can I say no to that?!?  It moved me beyond words and I knew I had to be there to see my cousin make this genuinely fantastic woman his wife!  

So I started thinking about how I would pull it off.  My husband had zero interest in going to Oregon.  So I figured I'd be going it alone.  I definitely couldn't finagle another trip (like Arizona) without the kids so whatever my plan, it had to involve them.  I knew flying would be expensive (not to mention STRESSFUL) so I googled some info on distance and travel times and thought driving might be an option.  Of course that would be an adventure and when I think ADVENTURE, I think of my person, I texted her and asked if she'd be up for a 40 hour road trip to Portland, OR.  She immediately "signed on".  Of course she thought I meant Portland, MAINE, so she couldn't understand why it would take 40 hours but once we got THAT straightened out, she remained committed to my crazy plan and the excitement and planning began!  

After doing some research and running some numbers, Tiff suggested the train option and I was intrigued.  We came to the conclusion that it would cost about the same to take the train as it would to fly all 5 of us there, but in contrast, what an experience the train would be!  I had reservations about flying with my children anyway and really didn't want Nate to get on a plane, arrive across the country 8 hours later and never fully comprehend how very far away from home we had traveled.  So, we opted to pay for the adventure of an experience we could learn from and remember forever over the convenience of getting to our destination in 8 hours or less.  As they say, the fun is not in the destination, but in the journey!!

Enter skepticism and overall negativity and you hear a whole lot of people telling you you're crazy for embarking on such a trip.  Friends of mine thought 63.5 hours on a train with two small children sounded horrible.  My husband thought I was insane for even wanting to do this much less for doing it via train.  Someone even told me the whole plan sounded like three days of hell!  

Needless to say it was none of the above.  I am so thankful to have taken this trip and forever grateful to Tiffany and Brie for coming along!  Not only would I never have had the courage to go it alone, but it quite simply wouldn't have been the same without them there!  They are an extension of us and it just feels natural to experience these things with our family there!  I wonder where our next journey will lead us....?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Portland is...

Portland is...



(and environmentally GREEN)!!

Intellectually Stimulating



Cultured and Artsy

 Fun and Funky

I want to go back and spend another week just perusing books at Powell's or checking out local hot spots like Voodoo Doughnut!  What a fabulous place!  Everything was within walking distance or trolley!  Everyone was friendly, helpful, polite, patient, and kind.  

There seemed to be a lot of homeless vagabond types roaming about but even they seemed happy and content with their lot.  Unlike the homeless here who I believe are generally down trodden, out of work, disabled, and/or mentally ill...the homeless people we saw (everywhere!) generally seemed to be young, nomadic hippie types who relished this lifestyle.  I could, of course, be wrong...but even their homeless population seemed to fit right in and be accepted by the culture there.  Very bizarre.  

Portland is a very healthy and green place.  People ride bikes in such great quantity that they have bike lanes on every road, bike racks outside building (even a kid-sized one outside the Montessori School) and at one red light we sat at there were as many bicyclists waiting for the light as there were cars in our lane.  It was amazing to me.  I can't wait to go back to explore some more!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook...April 5, 2011

FOR TODAY...April 5, 2011

Outside my’s a typical gray April day.  Cold, rainy, ick.  We had a nice warm (yet breezy) day yesterday so it was a sprig of hope that Spring is coming…

I am thinking...more wondering, actually, when enough is enough.  After (another) failed attempt at reaching out to a friend of mine who for some reason has totally written me off, I’m beginning to think it’s time to just move on.  While I have NO idea what went wrong or where I zigged so badly while she zagged, it’s just gotten too hard to invest so much emotion and energy into something that obviously is one sided.  It makes me sad, but dwelling on it hurts too much, so perhaps it’s time to just carry on - time to stop stressing and wondering and worrying.  Perhaps it’s simply time to stop trying.  

I am thankful for...the friends I do have.  The ones I know are true and real and lifelong.  I’ve been super blessed in that department and I honestly don’t know what I would do without them to (constantly) lift me up and make me a better person.

From the kitchen...there is very little until we do some grocery shopping.  Since returning from Oregon, we have not done any grocery shopping so our cupboards are pretty bare.  I hope to stock up on healthy options to assist with my desire (NEED!) to lose some weight!

I am iPod to block out distractions and give me some peace.  

I am remembering...the details of my FABULOUS trip to Oregon last week.  I am trying to write them all down so I can put photos to them and get some of my thoughts/memories on my blog before I lose it all!  

I am finish and post the (many) drafts I have started and don’t want to forget…I have a (1/2 birthday) memory post started for Alex, too.   He has so many little quirks at his age that are fleeting too quickly and I want to capture.  

I am get my house back into shape this weekend.  There is so much to do to catch up from while we were away…laundry, cleaning, organizing, etc.  

I am hearing...a random mix of tunes from my iPod (Foreigner, Eric Church, various show Soundtracks, New Kids, Nic Cowan, etc.)  

Pondering these words...“Save your strength for things that you can change, forgive the ones you can’t…you gotta let it go.”  - Zac Brown Band, Let it Go

Around the house...lots to do.  We just got 6 chicks that need care (and protection from little hands!). Dave is in the process of building them a chicken coop because they get more and more ambitious every day and are trying very hard to escape their current digs.

On my mind...changes.  There seem to be a lot of them lately - Changes in season - Changes in schedules/routine - Changes at work that could greatly impact my current comfort level.  

Noticing that...we live in a beautiful country.  I loved traveling to see new places and new things.  There were so many gorgeous sights to behold.  I also noticed that a lot of the things that I thought were so spectacular on our trip out West are right here in my own backyard.  I just take them for granted here.  I’m trying to take a fresh look at our surroundings to see things the way a tourist would.  I’m looking at things and asking myself, “would I want to take a picture of that if I didn’t see it everyday?” – It’s fun to see my every day in a new light.

One of my favorite things...chocolate and peanut butter.  I’m obsessed, actually.  If they had rehab for this sort of thing I would have to check myself in.  No wonder I can’t commit to a weight loss plan…this stuff is dangerous!!

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Nate has his last swimming lesson this weekend and I’m taking him to see Lion King at the theater.  So exciting!  

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
I brought the boys to and took photos at a fire department training over the weekend and this was my favorite shot of Dave working the hose.  They were "drafting" (pulling water from a farmer's pond and transferring it back and forth between the trucks to "fight the fire") - It was cool to witness and (of course!) the boys LOVED it!