Thursday, June 26, 2008

The day has finally arrived

We are headed out on our trip to Alaska! My blog will go sorely neglected most likely for the next 8-9 days. I don't even want to think about what my Inboxes for both my personal and work e-mails are going to look like after that many days of inactivity.

Actually I will be checking my personal e-mail up through Sunday, but after that we will be headed into the wilds of Alaska with no internet access. Thankfully there will be electricity and a flush toilet. Cell coverage will be spotty though.

Enjoy your 4th of July holiday!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Guess the preschooler's art project

I have been thrilled the last three days when Leif has come home with art projects! This has been a rarity since he left the two year old room whereby he would bring home big pieces of paper with paint stripes in the color of the day. While I loved his art, I looked forward to seeing some creativity... some of himself in his art... something other than big swooshes of color.

Then a year of nearly nothing.

This isn't uncommon I was told as the kids get to pick what they do and since holding a pencil is difficult, they don't often choose art as much. Particularly the boys.

On Monday a mask came home. AB and I had mini giggle fits over it all night regarding the gigantic brown beard the mask sported. Leif was obviously modeling the mask after someone near and dear.

Yesterday I got a red construction paper crown and bracelet. My 16 year old self would have balked at driving down the highway wearing a red construction paper crown. At 36 years old I was proud, hoping somewhat to see someone I knew on the drive so I could show off my head ware.

Today was a mysterious object.

I pondered these strips of paper stuck together with tape.

It was small, see the pen there.

An inverted tree?

A brown star?

Thankfully Leif isn't to that point yet of being offended that I don't guess exactly what it is.

He told me immediately it was for me.

"Oh thanks!" I said, "what is it honey?"

"Silly mommy," he said, "it's your new swimsuit!"

Daddy was impressed.

He told me I don't often have to pick which body part a suit is going to cover...

Imitation - supposidly the most sincere form of flattery

I found out today through my doctor's office - actually from the nurse who gives shots - that at the daycare her daughter goes to there is another baby named Skadi.

The child is aboutt 6 months old with a mess of black fuzzy hair.

AB beamed with pride upon hearing this and declared "imitation is the most sincere form of flattery".

The coincidence that someone else in our smallish area named their child Skadi completely on their own... well the odds are great, though not inescapable. It's possible. It could happen.

I know, a name is a name is a name. We didn't set out to find a uneek name. In fact, I was fairly opposed to it and was leaning towards more classic Scandinavian names like Gretchen (two others in Skadi's new class - dodged a bullet there) or Marit or Brigit. But for some reason when you do get set on that uneek name and go with it for a child... hearing it isn't as uneek as you had expected kind of makes the hairs on the back of your neck bristle.

Just a little...

Ok, a lot.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Leif's bag

Leif packed his bag for Alaska last night while I was cleaning up the kitchen. I resisted offering any advice and just relished in the quiet intent.

Here are the contents:

-Buzz Lightyear (Buzz goes on every trip with us. No surprise here.)
-A small wooden sailboat building kit that AB has been telling him for days he will help him build.
-His spacer and mask for his inhaler (inhaler not included)
-The Return of the King VHS tape (we don't have a VCR that works).
-His Croc flip flops
-His play binoculars.
-Skadi's water shoes.
-A Capri Sun fruit drink (sorry Leif, security will confiscate that).
-A box of Crayons (but no coloring book).
-A bulb aspirator.
-His mask he made at school the other day (which is a serious crack up as it has this big brown beard on it that he apparently insisted upon).
-AB's hardback copy of Eragon (this is a HUGE, heavy book!)

He actually didn't do too bad. I will kill the bulb aspirator (not even sure where he found that). And Skadi's water shoes will go in the bag with her clothes. I will trade the Eragon book for some coloring books. But all in all, not so bad for nearly four year old.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My husband rocks

My friend, V, on Mother's Day shared with the rest of us a book one of her coworkers got her called "P0rn for Wives". (I was going to find this book and provide a link, but very quickly realized what exactly would result from such a search. I covered my eyes quick and scrambled for the back button.)

Anyways, the book was hilarious. Male models, scantily clad with liners like, "I just vacuumed the floor". We all laughed, but there were a few that reminded me what a wonderful husband I have. See I hate the vacuum. I get foot massages whenever he is in front of the TV. And then there are evenings like Friday night when I walked in the door that are almost verbatim out of "the book".

"Hi honey, come sit down, I made you smoked venison medallions on a chanterelle mushroom and wild boar bacon ragout with garlic mashed Yukon gold potatoes with a boar bacon gravy. And I was thinking this 1998 Sandhill Cabernet Sauvignon will go well, do you mind if we open it?"

Love him.

Skadi's favorite video

I usually post about Leif's favorite videos, but Skadi has a favorite too. A week or two ago I videotaped her dancing to this. She yelled at Daddy to watch her, then she waltzed the middle of the floor grinning, did a twirl and took a few steps and twirled again.

I had every intention of posting it here... then I saw Leif sitting in the background. Naked.

And if I was good at video editing. Or maybe if I just had any knowledge whatsoever of how to edit a digital video, it wouldn't have been a big deal. But it was.

So for now... enjoy her favorite video with me:

All Hands

I have been in my job for six years now. That makes 12 "All Hands Meetings" I should have attended.

I think I have gone to three.

Every.single.time there is one scheduled either I am sick or one of my kids are sick. I have come to expect that "All Hands" means "One sick family member".

I was determined to beat it this year. Leif's sick was last week. We all are nearly recovered from colds. Nobody was going to be sick.

Well and no one is. Except that yesterday at the mall, Skadi fell in the kid's play area where she was hanging with Leif and Daddy while I got a new watch battery.

And rechipped her tooth.

The repair job we had done about four months ago popped right off when she whacked her tooth on the slide.


I am certain they will fit her in during the All Hands Meeting tomorrow to fix it.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I don't remember the last time I could say I was bored. It surely wasn't in the last four years. Even before that, though I barely remember what life before kids was like, I am pretty sure I didn't get bored. There was always something to cook, a cross stitch to work on, gardening to do, a computer game to play, a book to read, a room to paint... The list goes one. I am routinely surprised when I hear someone say they get bored.

That said, I actually did recently have my first (in a very long time) brush with boredom.

Try spending two days in the hospital with a preschooler. Boredom was setting in.

By the second day I had a routine:

Movie of his choice (which turned out to be either the full length Scooby Doo cartoon or the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command cartoon VHS cassettes we found in the pediatric ward movie closet. Lovely. Cannot.stand.Scooby.Doo. Never thought I would find a day when I would be pushing for the Buzz cartoon.) During the movies I read magazines and let my brain melt for an hour and a half.

After the movie was over we would walk to the fish tank down the hall remembering each time how far he could walk without setting off the "escaped child" warning system linked to his house arrest ankle bracelet. It only happened once. I would also take this time to bug the nurses with questions like, "when will we see the doctor", "can you check his IV" and "does he really need the fluids?" They were happy to see us leave. Can't say I wasn't happy to be rid of them either.

We would go back to the room, stopping on the way by the toy room to see if anything had changed in there. Nope, still lots of toys without batteries.

Back to the room where mommy would invent a game to play. We perfected "hide the exam glove" (whereby Leif would announce where he was going to hide it, then he would hide it, and tell me where he hid it). Then giggle like crazy when I would go looking for it. My turn was harder since I refused to tell him where I put it. (And I think it is still left in the freezer section of the little fridge in the room now that I think about it.)

Coloring with crayons, Color Wonder markers or playing with Leapster. Yes, some of the Alaska trip surprises made early debuts. Good thing too... I discovered that the color wonder sets I bought had inappropriate colors for the topics. Seriously - Toy Story has orange, blue, purple and brown. How about green for Buzz and the chillies? Does T-Rex really get no respect at all? (Must buy a set of Color Wonder markers before the trip.)

A quick game of toss the stuffed snake (4" long snake I found in the gift shop) at the butterfly balloon. (Sorry Cate... it was a daunting target.) Once his arm started to get powerful and aim started to dwindle out of excitement, it was time for redirection. (I did retrieve the snake off the top of the TV before we left.)

Time to order some food. Thank you cafeteria delivery of many snacks, juices, chocolate milk and we learned you can even get mac and cheese for breakfast.

Call grandma. Tell her she is a "Sullivan" - still no idea why he calls people "little Sullivan".

Sit back down for another movie after food arrives and start the cycle over again.

Day two? I had read four magazines and I don't even want to think about how many times I heard "Scoooooby Doooo!" or "to infinity and beyond!"

Though I suppose I shouldn't *really* be complaining though. I wasn't the one who got to spend the night in the hospital room with Leif. AB got that sentence. And he got a cot with every three hour interruptions to his sleep when the nurses came in. Had I been the one in that position I have to admit I would have probably crawled in bed with Leif - that cot was way uncomfortable.

I guess it was good practice for confining him on the trip to Alaska in a mere 6 days.

Something to be thankful for

Leif was admitted to the hospital Wednesday morning for what was declared in the ER to be a "severe asthma attack". Tuesday evening in the bathtub he started wheezing, so I nebulized him. He had a little bit of a cold and had been complaining of a sore throat that day and the day prior.

At about 2am he woke up wheezing and asked for his "fertilizer". At 2am nothing much makes sense. Talking to a preschooler at that time of morning doesn't make it easier. Finally it dawned on me how much coughing he was doing. So I fertilized him. I started to get concerned as well and hauled him to bed with us where AB and I debated a trip to the ER right then. At 4am it was evident that things were not right, his breathing was labored. A little while later he woke up and said, "I can't breathe".

AB had just left for work (I knew this as I was not sleeping and instead watching Leif sleep). I called AB on his cell phone and he turned around, came inside and ran him off to the ER. I felt helpless and scared as I sat around the house at 5:30am waiting for Skadi to wake up so that I could get her ready and take her to daycare.

By the time I arrived at the hospital the decision to admit him had been made.

We walked down the halls of the pediatric ward and I was hit with how thankful I was.

My son was by far and away the healthiest child in the ward. Rooms with signs controlling exposure were everywhere. Rooms with children laying in beds.

I was thankful it was a chore to keep my son in bed.

Truly, I don't know how parents of sick children do it. I truly don't. My prayers are with them all.

Monday, June 16, 2008


I decided today I did not need a Sigg.

No way, no how, define "need", not going to get one.

Resist all the pretty colors.

Do NOT need a Sigg.

Then Leif's came in the mail.

Love it.

And he loves it too.

I just got through outfitting Skadi with the cutest ever Sigg complete with bottle strap and sippy cup handles. Ok, so the sippy cup handles are red because that is what Amazon prime had and I was not paying $5.95 for shipping on blue handles. So hers won't be quite as coordinating... but she will never notice.


Violet sunray thank you very much.

Waiting for AB to insist on one now...

Oh and we got ours from Get'n Green. Shipped out of Montana not far from here. Quick service and by far the best prices. For the kid soccer fans - they have the World Cup Official Souvenier on clearance.

Next stop will be a Sigg Thermos... but I am waiting for my three I rotate between to crap out completely. It is a wish list item for now.

10 days

I am coming to terms with our pending trip to Alaska. "Coming to terms" sounds harsh and I don't intend it so. Really.

Truth be told and you guys will never guess this... I am a control freak. Yes, yes, I know... who would have ever known! (Yes, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.)

And I have actually had A LOT to say to my wonderful husband about what *I* want to do on vacation and how *I* want it to go. And he is amazingly accomodating and has pushed the topics on all fronts.

I have neurosed about the little things (like what my kids will eat and if there will be moose that Leif can see around) and stressed about the big ones (like my husband potentially being gone on a fishing charter for two nights while I was stuck in a remote cabin with the kids - like every single teen horror flick coming back to memory here).

As of this evening the itinerary is lined out, smoothed out and I can officially relax. I still might think my SIL and BIL are totally unprepared to take care of my kids and their son one evening that AB and I and my MIL are going on an evening fishing charter for King Salmon... And truly - this will be an artifact of my kids and in no way related to their abilities... but my kids don't like to go to sleep. At all. Anyways, truly, in the larger scheme of things? Worst case scenario (aside from broken bones) is that my kids don't go to sleep for them and are up all night until we get back about midnight. (Land of the midnight sun and all.)

It isn't like they have to get up and go to school the next day or anything. We will deal.

We arrive in Anchorage about midnight Thursday night/Friday morning.

Friday day AB wants to reconnect with an old friend for lunch (Kristadel has he e-mailed you yet? ) That afternoon a trip to the Anchorage zoo which holds very fond memories for AB and I as a couple when we were first dating. We visited the zoo and it was so dang cold we kept hiding out in the elephant house. And it stunk so bad, but it was so toasty. Finally the elephants decided to humor us with a game of toss the stick back and forth. They were apparently as bored as we were.

Saturday we are going to Portage to an wild animal refuge park and then to Seward for a wildlife cruise with my MIL.

Sunday spending the day with my FIL and his girlfriend. My FIL is very excited to take Leif trout fishing in the lake her house is on.

Monday to the cabin.

Tuesday... no plans during the day until we take care of my nephew while my SIL, BIL and MIL head out on their fishing charter that evening. I am thinking I *might* even get to pick up a book and read!! Maybe?

Wednesday... our fishing evening.

Thursday... prepare for the big 4th of July BBQ/party.

Friday... big 4th of July party.

Saturday... head home.

I have all sorts of surprises for the trip in my possession as well as the last arrival this afternoon - Leif's Hakunamatata Sigg cup with yellow strap. He loves it.

And now I need one.

Aside from the pain of packing where we will try to fit everything my Alaskan boy scout deems necessary into as little baggage as possible.

Ha. The headache has yet to come...

Top Chef finale

So I am finally getting around to blogging about my favorite TV show. Well second favorite - still cannot wait till season three of Big Love starts next January.


Yay Stephanie!

AB and I have been huge Top Chef fans since it originally aired four seasons ago. Finally a woman has won - and she kicked butt too!

AB kept telling me at the end that Lisa was going to win and he was shushed many times. And maybe with an angry and worried tone as well. I was going to be so disappointed if she won after floating through so many elimination challenges. That's not to say I wouldn't have loved to eat her food... (Must go get her Thai soup recipe and her dessert recipe.)

I was sorry to see Richard falter. I really wanted Stephanie to win, but Richard (had he lived up to his potential in the finale) would have been a deserving Top Chef as well.

Can't wait for season 5!

Gluttons for punishment?

One thing I am trying to convey with Leif is that he does not need to play with kids who aren't nice to him.

There are two little boys in his former classroom who he clashes with big time. Big time. I get to hear about all the bad stuff they do to him at recess on the drive home and when I pick him up and he is on the playground, they come running to me to tell me every transgression of Leif's. I am blowing it off right now because I know that his new teachers ARE dealing with it.

What is killing me though is conveying to Leif that he does not have to be friends with these boys.

I fear he has a little of me in him here. A resistance to let go of someone despite being practically pushed out the door.

When I ask him who he wants to invite to his birthday party - and despite the fact that neither boy invited him to their parties - their names are on the top of the list. He is still only turning four and I have ultimate say on the guest list. Therefore they will not be invited. AB balked a little saying if Leif wanted them there, they should be invited. I reminded him that his party should be fun and not full of interactions that are going to hurt his feelings and he quickly saw the light.

Though they clash - I can still hear the admiration in his voice for them. I can see him looking up to them, longing to play with them.

Are we just gluttons for punishment? We know that we are being pushed away but we still reach out, grasping, despite the pain that rejection brings?

AB is much more matter of fact about it all. "Well if someone doesn't want to include us then do we really want to be included?" It was a refrain his parents said to him many times and one we will say to Leif many times. I am trying to tell myself the answer is a no brainer.

And I see it in Leif's eyes too. The pain of wanting to be included with those boys - the pain of wanting to hear "you are my friend" (which is a major deal to a four year old in declaring that level of commitment) from them. And I stand here thinking to myself that he isn't going to hear it and frankly - I don't want him to hear it from them.

Friendships - even for a four year old they are complicated!

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm going on a trip...

(Those of you with kids Leif's age can now continue singing the Little Einsteins theme song.)

Done now?

I am going on a trip where Little Einsteins don't exist!

For a whole weekend in August!

The girl's weekend to Steamboat Springs is officially booked.

I kept finding good airfare for departing on Friday and returning Monday. But that would require first that my husband take time off Monday morning to get the kids into daycare/preschool. It would require my host to take an extra day off to get me to the airport (yes, I could take a bus or taxi I am sure if she had to work). But the biggy was it would be three nights away from my kids.

Wasn't sure I could do this. Two nights I can do. AB can do - he can suffer two sleepless nights on a weekend IF it went that way. Which it won't. Both kids will go to bed on time and sleep through the night. But three nights was going to be tough.

I did my every couple days or so check of airfare and yesterday the flight back on Sunday had dropped to the acceptable range. I took a slightly ($23) more expensive flight back on Sunday though just so I didn't have to leave at 8am. I will fly out of here Friday at the crack of dawn and arrive in Steamboat at about 1pm where VargasGirl will fetch me at the airport. Then I fly home on Sunday and should walk in the door just in time to rescue my husband and let him cook a wonderful dinner to welcome me home.

Shopping... spa time... Strawberry Park Hot Springs (which should not be discussed with my husband lest insane jealousy set in)... the mountains... wine with the girls...

Should rejuvenate me.

And I will not complain at all about being abandoned with the kids in Alaska in favor of golf outtings and fishing charters!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We finally succumbed...

And turned on our heat today.

Even AB walked in this evening and said, "it's cold in here!"

It has been an unusually cool spring. We have about 1/3 of our normal Rainier cherry crop and only a few random Bing cherries on the tree. AB's nectarine tree is suffering something fierce and I have counted a total of about 20 plums on the tree compared to last years thousand (or so it seemed).

AB has commented that it is reminiscent of spring in Alaska. Cool, dreary and rainy.

I have a ton of cute summer clothes for the kids and I am wondering if they will ever get to wear them! They were in long sleeves and pants today.

Butterflies round two

Our first set of butterflies kept themselves "busy" in the habitat until they could be released finally (delayed due to the cold weather).
After releasing them I noted a big bunch of eggs on the sugar water and decided to try my hand at rearing them from eggs.
It took a little while to get the caterpillar meal, but I was still able to get four good chrysalids and butterflies. We decided not to go for a third round and released the butterflies the one (and only) warm weekend we have had thus far.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Raising a bag lady

Since the day after my daughter was born we have known that she is a girl that wants what she wants. She is particular on her requests and vocal about it.

Skadi has established her favorites list:

Favorite teacher at daycare. (It only took five weeks to convince her someone else could care for her.)

Favorite book - 10 Little Ladybugs (And she was none too happy to find it in Leif's room this morning. She picked it up and marched it out - despite the fact that she uses his room as much as him.)

Favorite food - Mommy milk (I am starting to wonder if she will never wean.) After daycare today she had a Gerber "Cheetoh" in her mouth, when she eyed my chest, she reached up and scooped the "Cheetoh" out of her mouth (depositing it on the floor) and came over and lifted my shirt up. She is a different beast than my Leifer.

Favorite thing to do - go outside (opening the back door and closing it before she can toddle outside will cause a meltdown). She is an outside girl. Too bad for her she has this pale porcelain skin that is going to burn to a crisp. She will be forever coated in SPF 30.

Favorite activity once outside - the slide or eat sand.

Favorite thing to put in her mouth - rocks. (Oh so good on the teeth.)

Favorite song - Pat Your Tummy

Favorite activity inside - Stand in her wading pool (the dog's water bowl). This does mean however she gets to put on a new pair of shoes. See there is a reason why she has 14 pairs.

Second favorite activity inside - Have a tea party.

Favorite person to put her to bed - Daddy (make that only person allowed to put her to bed right now).

Favorite person to see at 2:30am - Mommy (make that the only acceptable person to see at 2:30am).

Favorite word - Mine (any surprise?)

Favorite sport - swimming, specifically gathering the balls up and putting them in the basket (parent-tot lesson game).

Favorite clothes - Dresses (ok, that might be mommy's insertion)

I thought Skadi needed a baby doll. I slaved over the decision until I finally actually went to Target to the doll aisle - who would have known? Going into a store as opposed to cruising aisles online? I have become a lazy shopper. If it isn't at Costco or Albertsons then I find it online.

I found too many actually. There were a ton of acceptable dolls. Kind of made me feel silly for writing that other post on my other blog. I labored over the decision avoiding the end of the aisle with the freaky motion sensing dolls that all giggled and coo'd when I got in front of them. Any wonder why there were still 10 out of 10 dolls there? No way in hell is one coming home with me. (And the other woman in the aisle agreed with me.) Sales tactic gone bad... don't actually make it respond in the store, wait until the doll gets home before revealing the obnoxious level.

I finally decided on a little baby doll in a cloth carry basinette with two bottles. I remember Leif's friend, C, had this one because his baby doll didn't have a cloth basinette with his dolly and this was a huge point of contention between the two friends.

I took the doll home and gave it to Skadi.

She looked at it, played a little (about 20 seconds), then threw the doll down and picked up the cloth basinette - tossed it over her shoulder and walked off.

She has not shown one iota of interest in the dolly. Only the cloth basinette. (As has the cat - he has adopted it as his bed.)

Oh and the pile of purses that were on my closet floor during the closet organization this past weekend? She couldn't get enough of them. She situated them (many at a time) on her shoulder as she headed out of the closet.

I have a girl who likes bags.

Baby dolls are still up in the air, but it isn't looking good for them.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Keyword Muppets Crocodile

Leif has two new You Tube favorites:

Skadi danced little circles for "Never Smile".

We explored a little more and neither he or Skadi was overly interested in Alice Cooper's Muppet Show gig with "School's Out". Probably should be happy about that one. Though AB and I dug on the Muppet Show's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover".

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Follow up - dog

I heard back from the Belgian Sheepdog Rescue and apparently Tinga is such a fabulous dog that her foster family has decided to adopt her. I was a touch disappointed, but more just happy that a great dog has found a caring home.

It was AB's suggestion after reading the e-mail that came this morning that we go ahead and submit our application for a dog and start "the process" to adopt a Belgian.

I am excited by this. First of all, because I think Belgians are just wonderful fabulous dogs. And Winny needs a younger sibling to keep her running and active. But I am also excited to find a dog that needs a home - as opposed to paying the big bucks for a new puppy.

Maybe someday we will get a puppy when my kids get a little older, but right now I think adopting from a rescue - providing we can find the "right" dog is a better option. We have strict requirements - must do well with children, other dogs and a cat. Be a younger beta dog who isn't going to need to be reminded of her stature in the family, yet with all the Belgian traits we love.

Forging forward!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Curse you internet!

I am the queen of finding both useless and useful crap on the internet.

I can comparison shop, I can find the best deals, I can read reviews on products, I can order shoes while I work, I can buy Father's Day presents without hauling the kids to the mall... very easy to set my son in front of the computer and let him choose between two gifts - he picked out daddy's watch for Christmas, and then went and told daddy he just bought him a watch. AB thought he was making it all up. Surprise when on Christmas morning he did actually have a watch that Leif knew ALL about from the computer.

And then I can also find things like a dog.

For the last year or so AB and I have toyed with getting a Belgian Shepherd puppy. We have our Win-dog who is fabulouso. But she is getting old. Nine years old last month. That's 63 in dog years.

She loves to play with the neighborhood dogs, especially Lucy (a Great Pyrenees/Retreiver mix) down the street. Winny has her posse of doggy playmates on our evening walks. But she could really use a young dog to exercise her legs and keep her from getting too old and sedentary.

Then "we" (read *I*) went and got a cat last fall instead of a puppy. Winny and Lucky are to the point that they play, they sleep together, they race around the house, then they sleep together again.

But Winny really wants a dog.

We all would like another dog really. But mommy and daddy don't "really" want a puppy. Especially now that my kitten isn't so much of a kitten anymore and my baby is now a toddler. We are ready for a little break with live baby things

I made my way to a Belgian Shepherd Rescue pages like I do every couple of months. Just to see what is there...

Lo and behold there were a few dogs there. (There never are, people who get Belgian's don't give them up easily since they are rare and usually expensive as hell.)

There was Tinga.

"Tinga is a lovely 1 ½ - 2 year old from Central California. She’s house- and crate-trained, enjoys grooming, and travels well. Her foster family says she’s calm, oh-so-sweet and eager to please. She gets along well with other dogs and cats. Tinga especially loves to be invited onto the couch for some snuggly TV time! This sweetheart will be spayed later this month and available for adoption mid month."

And the fact that she looks *just* like Winny doesn't help either.

I phoned AB expecting him to reign me in with a quick "no".

But he didn't.

I have an inquiry out.

Sigh... time to close my browser before I get myself into anymore trouble.

My travel solutions

We will see how they all work!

From the Traveling with Kids website, I have ordered:

Totally Tape - Leif will so love this, I just have to resist pulling it out before we leave. (Thank you V.)

Marvel's magnetic tin, includes scenes and 24 magnets to play with.

Color Wonder with Nemo and Toy Story. These may save the day or they may fall flat. I wish my son liked art. But so far he doesn't care for it much. I rarely get art projects home. And even though I encourage it (I was a former art major) he just isn't interested. Though I was thrilled the other night when he wanted to paint a rock. Oh and additionally... you may be tempted to order these on Amazon like I was to take advantage of Prime shipping and save a trip. But I balked at Amazon's prices ($16-20). I went to Target and found the sets for $6.99.

Auto Bingo - as discussed below.

A carabiner flashlight. He can hook it to his luggage and can have it in Alaska. $1 in the bins at Target. I probably should have picked up two or three. But since it *never* will get dark in Alaska while we are there... the likelihood of him using it for a real purpose is not good.

A magnifying glass for investigating... well anything.

Second to last for Leif... AB fell in love with this Buggy Board for airports (attaches to the backside of our new wasabi and chocolate colored umbrella stroller) but not surprisingly balked at the $85.99 price tag. So we have a bid on eBay for one.

Last I have finally sold my husband 97% of the way on a Leapster. I picked the Leapster over the VSmile because it has a "pencil" connected and Leif really needs work on his fine motor skills and holding a pencil. (Which is part of the reason his teachers believe he doesn't like art is he can't hold a pencil properly.)

I AM still coveting a couple Sigg water bottles for each of my kids to take along. But there I am really balking at the price. I know, no BPA and all, but at $17.99 each, I may have to pass.

For Skadi...

Goldfish crackers

Gerber Yogurt Bites

Gerber Fruit Snacks

Little People in a cosmetics bag (thanks Jo Ann!)

A few cups and the tiny tea pot from her new tin tea set (so wishing I was home last night to have seen my husband having a tea party in the kitchen with both kids)

And if she is still showing interest in her brand new baby doll by then, we will take that as well.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Traveling with kids

To say that I am neurosing about our upcoming trip to Alaska would be an understatement.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if it weren't so far away?

We are leaving on a Thursday night after work and daycare. Getting on a plane at 7:50 pm and hoping the kids sleep. A quick layover in Seattle and then we arrive shortly after midnight in Alaska.

And it should still be light when we arrive.

We leave on July 5th mid-afternoon and get home early evening.

So not only do we have these long flights with two little ones (one more entertainable than the other), but we will likely have at least two car trips as well. Then there is the whole hanging at the cabin you can only get to by boat for 6 days.

I have started my collection of entertainment items. Items to pull out as "surprises".

First on my list (and that arrived today) are these, auto bingo cards:

Did you have these when you were a kid? I did and loved them. I am hoping it will encourage some looking out the windows instead of insisting on Lion The King. Though I have to admit - I am looking at the cards and wondering how many cats, churches, fire engines and police cars we will see in remote Alaska... well at least Leif will like sliding the windows open and closed - I always did.

The next item would be Color Wonder. Actually I have no idea what these are, but will be picking them up at Target this week on recommendation from a number of women from my discussion board.

I have an animal sticker book to pull out from hiding.

And I am also thinking about a paper airplane book.... or other type of book where you build the paper items into some cool things to play with.

Next on the list (which I am trying to convince my husband is a necessity) is a Leapster or VSmile handheld game. He is skeptical, I am thinking it is better than endless DVDs.

For Skadi? So far my list is Goldfish and fruit snacks. And for the flight I might resort to Benadryl. Just might...

Enlighten me. Share with me.

What are your travel secrets with kids? And what items would you buy to pull out at those "I'm bored" moments?

Getting back to the goals

So back about the New Year I decided that my goal for the year was to go through every room in my house and purge, organize, repair and replace. To make this daunting task not so unbearable, I decided to tackle one room a month. For the first two months this went quite well. The library was organized and still looks halfway decent. Leif's room has the storage options it needs and the guest bath (small and so lumped into the other rooms) is still organized as well.

Then March hit.

March was supposed to be Skadi's room.

And it was about 75% done. The remaining percentage was a consequence of her not living in her bedroom. Her dresser was in there, but her crib, changing pad, and pajamas were in our bedroom. Her toys were scattered between the living room and Leif's bedroom. She loves Leif's room and he doesn't mind her playing in there (yet). In fact, so far he prefers she play in there. There was this problem of the queen sized guest bed being in this room and no real place to put it other than to get rid of it.

Really, truth be told we are growing out of this house in a way. If my formal dining room could somehow be relocated and turned into a guest room... it would make a difference for our longevity in this house. But it can't be relocated and more storage won't just appear when I twitch my nose (I tried) and a real walk in pantry is for now just a dream. The kitchen that six years ago I thought I couldn't fill has reached its max. Oh and those looming apartment buildings won't just go away either.

Anyways, I ended up stopping short of finishing March and went straight to April which was to organize and clean up the yards. This was done to my satisfaction about 80% of the way. The remaining 20% I will just not say one word about because it will launch me into this little fit of sorts. Our yards have been well maintained since then due mostly in part to our hiring a lawn service to mow and trim.

May was going to be my Master Suite.

Then May was going to be my Master Closet and Master Bath.

Then "the summer" was finally deemed to be the Master Suite "month".

I have settled on this.

We finally had a weekend with no real major plans. We had friends cancel on a dinner party thanks to puking kids (on their end) - which I wanted absolutely no part of given our fragile nature this spring with viral crud. So instead of tackling food prep and guest readiness I worked on my goals.

My March goal is 95% complete. Skadi's crib is in her room. I have resigned myself to leaving the queen bed there. It makes her bedroom tiny, but truth be told, she doesn't spend time in there. And I would rather have the guest bed for that day when we do buy a new house and have a guest room (everyone I know tells me how comfortable this bed is and how well they sleep in it).

To finish off her room, I need to put up the foam flowers and ladybugs I bought to "girlify" the blue and green room. But that won't happen until she learns not to peel them off and eat them. And I need to go through the stack of outgrown clothes in the closet and box them up. I should also put the breastpump up and since I bought a nice, new ,sleek, travel oriented, "wasabi" colored, umbrella stroller (that should arrive any day now) put the big honking, broken latch Zooper either in the garage or the attic for storage. Once I get those things done, my March goal is finished (hopefully in June).

Since the crib was moved out of the Master Suite it gave me room to get things organized. It feels really good to return our bedroom to a room occupied by adults. Really good actually. As much as I love having my kids in our bedroom for their first year of life and I do believe it adds something to their security and well being, it is always nice to move back to having our own space and giving our children spaces of their own. It is a bittersweet step.

I cleaned out my closet and nearly every time I walk past it I have to stop and pat myself on the back. I have a list of organizational things to get in the next week to really make me happy about my closet. I am going to get some sweater boxes for the top shelf, some hooks to hold belts, purses and bags. I used the hanging sweater organizers I bought last November (and never installed) as shoe organizers for AB's shoes. I had tried to use normal sized hanging shoe organizers, but his shoes were too big. When I was trying to figure out where to hang the sweater organizers it hit me - they are the perfect size for his big honkin' shoes! I also need to buy a storage bench type thing for in there. AB suggested something with cubbies he can "stuff" his sweaters into. Well I have other plans. I can live with his desire to not hang up his jeans and to have them folded on a small table - but "stuffing" things in cubbies isn't going to work. Nice decorative boxes instead.

The one thing that I haven't done and I may or may not get to is purging clothes. While looking for hangers I did pull off a few things that I knew I would never wear ever again. And things that AB should not wear ever again. And put them in a stack for Goodwill. But I didn't go in depth down this path.

I also started on the Master bath and cleaning out the vanity. There I did purge. Old makeup, creams, gels, lotions... gone. And plans for new organizing bins for my counter tops. My house cleaner will love me.

My organizing bug didn't stop in the Master Suite... I did a couple drawers (the bottles and breast pump stuff ones), the fridge and my spice rack in the kitchen. Things that were bugging me.

Maybe the real accomplishment this weekend was getting AB to agree that my monthly goals are a good thing and even suggest that each room should be revisited every year.

Sunday evening I felt quite accomplished with myself.

Weekend recap

This morning I grabbed my bill for Leif's preschool out of my mail envelope. I glanced at the total a little shocked. They usually don't make mistakes. In fact, I am usually shocked at how precise they get the bills.

Why then was my bill $400 more than I was anticipating?

I sat in the car going over it with a fine toothed comb until I came to the offending charge.

Nevermind I thought.

Skadi, June 16th-30th.

YAY! My daughter is really starting soon! They expect me to pay them!

Not only that but I revelled a little in the 10% sibling discount that each child received.

Last Friday I stopped by the director's office to remind her that we would only be at Skadi's current daycare for another two weeks.

"I know," she sighed, "though I don't think we are going to let this happen. [Her teacher] and I have agreed that we don't think you can take her away from us,"

The director is good at putting on a front. She is a super nice woman, but I am not kidding myself that they aren't counting the days as well. From the number of times I walk into her office complaining about little things, to Skadi screaming at the teachers most days. They aren't going to miss us. I don't expect there to be tears shed over our departure this time around.

Saturday we had the usual morning activities. Swimming and then a trip to Costco. Skadi loves her swimming class, far more than Leif did at this age. I can barely hold on to her when they release the balls all around her and her little body flails to grab balls and she climbs over the other babies to get to the basket to put them in. Her teacher did the ball routine four times as compared to the usual two only because Skadi was such a little riot to watch. She would be pleased to retrieve balls through the whole swim lesson.

We made a trip to Costco afterwards, pre-empting the planned trip to Farmer's Market when our friends told us it was a lot of fun if you want asparagus. We like asparagus... but there is only so much asparagus one family needs. Instead we went and spent way too much money at Costco.

After putting all the food away we decided on a new goal... aside from fresh fruits, veggies and milk, we are not buying anything at the grocery store. Our pantry and freezer have reached frightening stages. That stage where you just aren't even sure what is in there anymore so you just buy new. Yeah, that stage. The goal in the next three weeks is to empty it.

(Just glad I got two bags of my new favorite chips at Costco the other day!)

Saturday afternoon was a lot of playing in the backyard by Leif, a lot of cleaning and organizing the house by me, sleeping by Skadi, and working on stuff by AB. Then AB and Leif installed the new carseat in AB's car. That took a fair amount of time actually. The seat is a one size fits all type of thing that is substantially smaller than his Regent in my car. We bought it for AB's car so he can haul both kids on the rare occasion he does so, but mostly for travel because traveling with the Britax Regent might just be near impossible. We purchased a Graco Nautilus. I had intended to find and buy the seat a few months ago but apparently it is one of the hot new seats that everyone wants (goes from 30-100 lbs), and it was back ordered nearly everywhere.

Of course the installation of this seat prompted some lamenting from my husband that I have been fearing was coming.

"I need a new car, I cannot install these seats properly without LATCH," he said.

And no joke. We both worked on it with our little sidekick barking out commands on the side, "here let me sit in it and see if it works", "let's put a cup in the cup holder and see if it helps!" (You were right Pam, Leif loves the cup holder.)

We keep pushing back the actual purchase of a new car. We know what we want. My car is paid off this month. We can stick to our rule of not buying a new car until the other is paid off. But making that actual step is seeming painful right now.

I fear a minivan (Toyota Sienna) is in my future. I envision a love-hate relationship since I was one of those women who swore I would never own a minivan.

AB is looking over taking the reigns on my 4Runner. But I am not sure I am ready to surrender it. All over the news is talk about people scrambling to get rid of their SUVs thanks to high gas prices. I suppose maybe it's that I don't drive that much (I fill up every other week), or that I am lucky enough that while I don't like gas prices right now I can still afford them, or that I just plain like my 4Runner. More than like... I love my 4Runner.

Ah well... I am sure I will enjoy the amenities of a minivan as well.