Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A little selfish indulgence...

There are times when taking care of little people is indescribably difficult. Today was one of those days, for me at least. I don't know if she's worried about something, if the minor bullying she's described at school is worse than I know, if the fact that she woke up at 3am today is wearing her down, or if she's just hormonal. Today was hard. I'd tried to make it a great day and took her for frozen yogurt after school, then we came home and the meltdowns began.

Aeryn means the world to me but she also knows how to push my buttons more than any other person on Earth. So I find myself needing to remember the good things so these moments (or complete days) of chaos don't get me down too much.

I've been looking at old pictures. She sure was a cute little thing. She still is cute, even with her mismatched teeth and abnormally large feet for her size. It all means that she's growing again still. Can you believe the audacity of such a thing?

Anyway, just because I needed a reminder, here are a few happy moments from days gone by.

Bad iphone photo of a real photo of my little fuzzhead - 38ish hours old

At the playground. Age 18 mos.

Laying in the warm creek at Great Sand Dune National Park. Age 2

First Twinkie ever - in the car after splashing in the creek at Great Sand Dunes NP. Age 2

Spring Break at Goblin Valley. Age 5

Super excited about her castle cake. Age 6

Jumping on the couch cushions. Age 5

Baking cookies with mom. Age 6

New dollhouse! Age 6

100 days of school - 100 butterflies project. Age 6

A Princess in her cuppy-cake jammies. Age 2
It's all worth it. Even when I wonder how we'll all make it through unscathed, it somehow seems to happen that we do. And somehow, we are building happy memories in the process.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kids on the Street

They always say you marry a family, not just a person. I've always known I won the spouse lottery... but I got pretty amazing nieces and a nephew in the deal too.

One of them had a birthday (a pretty important one) and we went to visit. He got a basketball hoop for his birthday and let's just say that between that and the Beyblades kids were completely entertained. I love things that get kids active and playing outside! They seriously had a blast out there. It's clear that the girls have a lot of work to do if they are going to compete with the boys in the basketball arena, but they don't seem too opposed to trying.

Look at that form! Someone's been practicing :)

(I just love this picture! Can't figure out why. Something about Nicole's energy just gets me.)

Ok, I love this one too.

Kids will be kids. Isn't it wonderful?

Thursday, April 12, 2012


This year, the Easter bunny was pretty lazy. I mean really, he she was at the store the about 8 or 9p.m. the night before hoping to come up with something brilliant out of the leftover candy and treats without spending a ton of money. All the mini Reese's PB cups were gone and it was quite devastating. In a completely exhausted state, she then reluctantly filled and hid a few eggs. Honestly, she'd have rather gone straight to bed, but the Easter bunny must not disappoint! What a tragic childhood that would create. 

Easter morning the kidlet excitedly found many eggs (except for the 3 which still hidden) along with a few small surprises in her Easter basket, and was happy as a clam. 
I didn't take a single picture. 

Then the kidlet put on her new Easter dress and sweater and even let me do her hair fancy (even though it made her look a little too grown up). 
I didn't take a single picture. 

Then we (and by we I mean Jim) made an awesome dinner of ham, scalloped potatoes, baby carrots, and fresh rolls (ok, I did make the rolls). 
I didn't take a singe picture. 

But then, a package came in the mail. That's the one (and only) perk of being a child of divorce: presents. I mean, two bedrooms, twice as many Grandparents, parents who tend to overcompensate, etc. These kids end up with a fair amount of stuff. 
This time, I took a picture. 

Aeryn's dad sent an Easter package that was delayed in shipping and didn't make it until today. Man, did it make the Easter bunny look wimpy! It may not be obvious since I chose to focus on her face, but there are 6 (six!) new Skylander figures there. Sheesh. 

Despite the lack of pictures, we had a great Easter. I taught the Easter lesson to my primary class and researched a little bit about the history of Easter. It made me grateful for the Christian missionaries of old who piggybacked on the Pagan holiday of Eastre to include a celebration for Christ's resurrection. 

Bunnies, eggs, and chocolate aside, I'm truly grateful for Easter and the chance to remember what our Savior has done. I'm grateful to have a husband and family to share it with, and I'm grateful for the way it makes me feel inside both when I focus on the spirituality and when I spend time with my family in silly celebrations. Life is beautiful. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Daily life

Aeryn has been really sweet lately. Before Spring Break I was really struggling with her seemingly continuous meltdowns. A little distraction from daily life was definitely something she and I needed. We've only had one big meltdown since Ellie went home (4 days!) and mornings have been great. Don't get me wrong, the moods are still there. They've just been bearable. Yesterday I woke up at 6:15 to the sound of banging because she "wanted to be helpful" and put all the clean dishes away. Many of them are in the wrong place so cooking is definitely an adventure while trying to find things. Today she sat in her room drawing for a good half hour before I had her hop in the shower. I love when she is happy. Is there anything in the world more delightful than a happy child?

Her drawing has become more complex. She likes to mimic illustrations from books or games but doesn't trace them anymore. I had to blog this so I remember how cute her drawings are. They've changed so much in the last couple years.

I do wish she weren't so obsessed with Skylanders, but hey, it's bound to be a passing childhood phase so I can endure.

Jim was sick last weekend and is still fighting the evening cough of death and destruction. Ok, it's not that bad, but it does seem to be lingering a while. He is still plugging away at this crazy school thing but I confess it feels really easy lately. With Ellie here he stayed home more than usual (of course) and then this week he's stayed home later in the morning and coming home earlier in the evening. If it weren't because he was sick it would feel like a mini-vacation!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Break Part 2 - Yosemite!

Holy Hannah, Yosemite is da bomb! I just had to put that out there, now I can get onto the other stuff.

As we left Sequoia, we headed to King's Canyon NP to see the General Grant Tree - the second largest tree in the world. It was nice, but a little anticlimactic after Sequoia. When we got out it was snowing like crazy. We took the short walk to the tree, walked through the "tree tunnel"(a hollow fallen tree) and made it back to the car to keep driving.

It was anticlimactic. Pretty, but a little "meh" compared to the Redwoods.

After we left Sequoia and romped around King's Canyon a little our final (and truthfully, main) destination was Yosemite. Neither Jim or I had really seen it, so naturally the kids hadn't either. All we really knew going into it were that there would be awesome glacial valleys and I knew half the photos from the Geology book I used in class would be staring at me in their natural glory. It was a chilly day when we arrived.

You'd have never known that was hiding around the bend.

We set up the tent in the snow, got crazy-hot hot chocolate from the lodge, cooked up some dinner, and hunkered down for a night safe within the walls of our tent. In the morning we woke to a snow covered tent and chilly feet. After a quick hot breakfast we headed out to ride the buses and see what we could see. Most of the park was closed for the winter and the parts we could see were filled with all the other crazy people who were also camping in the snow. The day turned out to be quite lovely and we headed to see Upper & Lower Yosemite falls on a couple instances.

Despite the cold beginnings, day 2 was really pleasant. I confess to be a little disappointed at how little of the park was open, and how little hiking we were equipped to do with little ones. The second night found us quite happily situated so we pulled out the roasting forks again for Peep S'mores! 

A few years ago I had to take a Geology trip over Easter weekend (It was my favorite professor who organized it, and I still harbor slight frustration over that.). On that trip I was introduced to the whole world of roasting that I had not encountered before. The few things that stuck with me were Peeps and starbursts. The funny thing about it is that I REALLY REALLY dislike peeps. I've long felt that they taste like dirt, but once they are roasted the sugar melts to a thin crispy shell not unlike the tops of creme brulee. Then the marshmallow in the middle is ultra-gooey which lends itself perfectly to a chocolaty graham sandwich. The kids loved them - even Ellie who found the "gooey part" of the original S'more to not be her favorite. Jim tried one, but I think he preferred the starbursts, roasted or not. 

The verdict was unanimous. We should definitely go back and the girls definitely want to go camping again. It's a good thing, because I don't think they have a choice otherwise :) Yosemite just might be one of my favorite places on Earth.

Lesson Learned.

Once upon a time, there was a girl. This girl liked to dream and learn and just be a little ADD about life ventures. On a minor not-a-whim, she started reading photography books.

In a half-hearted attempt to learn to use the camera better, she changed all the settings as suggested in the manuals. It worked! Pictures started to turn out a little better, her ability to adapt to different lighting improved, and the picture load was plentiful. Larger file sizes meant greater flexibility in editing, though the girl didn't use that flexibility to it's potential. The girl was pleased with the minor improvements she'd made, until one day when the mean, evil blog monster pointed out that in doing so, she had exceeded the storage capacity of her little blog.

Disgruntled, but not defeated, she pondered and contemplated what to do. One thought was to delete all the pictures previously uploaded, resizing them, and uploading again. Another thought was to delete the blog altogether and start a new one, paying closer attention to the file sizes. And yet a third was to cave in to the blog monster and pay for additional storage.


This girl was not excited to pay for storage since the blog in question has been in operation for less than a year and her previous one didn't fill the minimum storage allowances in 5 years of frequent use.

Alas, lesson learned. The girl will always resize her images in photo software before uploading them, and the blog monster will make a little bit of money due to her ignorance oversight.

The end.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Break Part 1 - Sequoia Nat'l Park

Hallelujah! His Hotness survived a brutal 3-days of work on a take home final and we were free to enjoy Spring Break with no thought of school... or at least with less thought of school. The best part of this Spring Break was having our Jellie-bellie with us. Our breaks were back to back so after a little figuring out we were able to have her for both weeks. The Hubs, Squirt, and I drove down to California to pick up our little bug. After like 7 hours driving and a quick hotel stay, we met her at Ihop and the adventure began!

From Ihop we headed straight to Sequoia National Park. 

This is the first of our National Park adventures that has all four of us, which means it's pretty darn special. Although, it also means that getting pictures where we are all on the same page for smiling or being silly is a little harder.

The park is lovely, though I confess that His Hotness and I prefer the Redwoods. The cinnamon-red color of the Sequoia bark is absolutely gorgeous though. We had fun speculating why there was no moss or lichen growing on the bark and then asked a ranger and learned it's because of the natural tanin in the bark - it has antimicrobial and fire resistant properties so it protects the trees from bugs and other threats.

We stopped at the Visitor's center for a stamp in our National Parks Passport and the girls got to explore. Ellie kept running around yelling "It's science!" I think her dad and I were both pretty proud of that.

We camped in the park and our site was fairly large. We picked it partly because there were other little girls adjacent to it. The girls made friends and were playing (without even knowing each others names) after about 6.4 seconds. I really wish our kids were more outgoing...

As it turns out, the other family was just there for the day and didn't stay the night. We set up camp and went exploring, after which some stick and pinecone baseball lessons were in order.

It was so nice when we left Visalia that His Hotness was in shorts (ok, nothing new there) and I was in a knit skirt and sandals. He may always dress like that, but I often put real shoes on when there is snow on the ground. That day I was too lazy to dig my tennis shoes out of the trunk and figured it couldn't be too bad. As long as we stayed on the main path all was well, but of course we had to venture elsewhere for a picture and that got a tad bit chilly.

We headed back to camp and played until dark, when we roasted S'mores. The Hubs doesn't like marshmallow but humored us and ate some anyway, while Jellie-bellie had never had one before! Her verdict? She likes the crackers and chocolate but not the "gooey part." Looks like it wasn't as exciting of a treat as I'd hoped. The camping however was a great success.