Thursday, July 31, 2008
And delicious. I used to eat it all the time.
Emphasis on "used".
See my husband hates it. Hates it. Hates it. Hates it.
He is a lost cause I have given up on.
My son though, I always thought I could mold into a tuna fish casserole lover.
Tonight when I got home AB said to me, "did you remember I was going to the pub tonight with work people?"
No, I didn't remember since he hadn't reminded me over the last week. But I shoo'd him out the door after a quick visit with the neighbors. These rare occasions that AB goes out are my opportunity to mold my young son's mind.
I quickly pulled the ingredients off the shelves and got to work.
I came up with a plan while cooking. I called it "macaroni and cheese with corn". Afterall it was topped with cheese. And he likes corn.
I served Leif up making sure he got a good amount of cheese on his.
I sat on pins and needles as I chowed the yummy goodness, savoring every morsel.
"What is this?" he asks skeptically.
"It's macaroni and cheese with corn," I said. It sorta is.
"It isn't Spiderman macaroni and cheese," he says. (Thanks to N for forever hooking Leif on Spiderman mac and cheese - we can't just have regular mac and cheese anymore.)
"No, it's homemade, I made it," I said.
He picked up a bite and ate it. I noted he got a cheesy bite. He drank a drink of juice.
One bite down! Optimism was setting in!
He picked up another more "saucy" bite.
His face turned, the shell was spewed across the table and the whining ensued, "I don't like this!"
How many times exactly are you supposed to try a new food before declaring a dislike?
Meanwhile, my daughter has aligned with me. She ate all of hers. I knew she was the good one.
We live in the US. Which means we don't end our sentences with "eh". Yes, we aren't that far from the Canadian border, but still, "eh" isn't part of our vocabulary. "Whatcha doin', eh?" "What is this man's name, eh?"
Again... really isn't "a-gain". I know. It is spelled like it should sound that way. It is just one of those funky American English things. I wish I could say you are just saying it how it reads... but you are four, you can't read yet.
I am starting to get a little worried that someone is going to start wondering which family you belong with. Could you have really picked all this up from our Canadian friends?
Your American Mommy
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Guess who is driving?
This picture cracks me up... I had finally gotten most all the kids lined up - with lots of help - and snapped the picture when guess who popped up out of my lap?
Monday, July 28, 2008
He isn't a cat person, never has been and probably never will be.
However, our house hasn't been inundated with flies yet.
Only 5 minutes later Lucky was stalking a fly and had it in his black little paws in seconds. Then down the hatch it went.
AB suggested that the lack of bugs has earned Lucky his keep.
The entire family wants outside. Skadi is a grump? Take her outside, it cures her.
I was comparing this past weekend to prior colder months regarding progress on my monthly cleaning and organization goals. It has taken me nearly 6 weeks to get my Master bathroom and closet picked up and organized. And it wasn't *that* bad beforehand. Two weeks to do my linen closet? Really... it isn't that bad... it is that we are just never home anymore.
On Friday I picked Leif up from preschool (Skadi already being home sick with AB... I will avoid going into details of that day since in staying home for my four hours in the morning I came far too close to telling off a co-PI who decided to ask me that I "make sure my kids aren't sick on Tuesday". Because she either thought I was lying, would rather be home with a sick kid instead of working with her in the lab, or should find something else to do with my sick kid rather than stay home with her. Anyways...)
We made a quick run by the fire station to check out the details a second time before the birthday party the next morning. Then we grabbed dinner from the Korean place and ran home.
Saturday morning Leif had his birthday party at the fire station. I was quite pleased with how it went and how well we were able to keep things flowing. The kids and parents seemed to enjoy the tour and I, for one, learned a lot. (Did you know that 80% of the calls are medical?) After the tour we had pizza on the back lawn, a pinata and then cake (ice cream was forgotten in the cooler). The kids ran and played. Leif only had a few turkey moments. I will post pictures later.
We went home and put Skadi down for a nap and hoped Leif would nap. It was silly to think that he maybe would I suppose. Not like AB and I weren't near complete exhaustion ourselves.
Once Skadi woke up we headed out to the Art in the Park festival. This is one of my favorites every year. And every year I think about in 2004 how very pregnant I was and how very hot it was. We wandered through the artisans booths. Had dinner with a guy I work with and his "5 3/4 year old" daughter (who took Leif under her wing) and just had a plain good time. AB took Leif to play on the playground equipment while I wandered the last 1/3 of the show with Skadi. We did, however, get stuck at one booth. "Me and Mom's Hats".
After painstacking decisions, Skadi has two hats for this fall and winter. I loved the brown beanie with the big pink flower, but also fell for the bluebell hat as well. Skadi could care less of the bluebell hat, but loves her brown beanie with the floppy pink flower. If I put the bluebell hat on her she rips it off and puts her beanie on. She was a kick at the booth and the artist told me she hadn't had such good advertisement all day, as Skadi tore through her hats, pulling them randomly (and sometimes two at a time) onto her head and oogling, "ooooh!"
We left the park as the show was closing and managed to keep the sleepy kids awake in the car so they would fall asleep in their beds at home.
On Sunday we let Leif open his presents from grandma, Bompa and my sister over the webcam. He was thrilled with the fishing pole. Skadi was thrilled with the tackle box once she got all the tackle out and could replace it with her Little People and AB and I were thrilled with the huge box of Lincoln Logs. I also hope Leif will come to love the Richard Scarry's Greatest Storybook Ever as much as I did - many thanks to my sister.
After the present unwrapping we loaded into the car and headed to the orchard to pick donut peaches. Unfortunately they were still a week or so away from prime picking, but AB (being his normal inquisitive self) did manage to purvey a bunch of cherry and apple wood for his smoker. Since we had packed a lunch we didn't see any reason to head home.
Instead we drove around looking for open houses (not many on this boat race weekend) and houses and lots for sale while stuffing food into the kids in the car.
We found two houses that if we actually got the guts to call an agent we are very interested in seeing. Very interested.
But I am just scared of heading down that path again when we aren't completely ready. I am afraid of falling in love with a house. Our intention is to go out and get ideas for eventually building our own since we had pretty much decided on buying a lot at the end of the year and then building. The one that really has me stopping though is seeing a newly for sale house in the small development containing the lots we like. It is the style we like, 4 bedrooms and TWO pantries. And affordable. Reasonably. At least it is within the range we are eyeing.
AB is waiting for me (I think) to say I want to look at it. I do, I really do. And then I don't out of fear. So I am trying to ignore it exists for now.
So we realized that no good could come from house hunting and headed home to put Beaner down for a nap. While she napped it dawned on me how many times I have declared needing an external hard drive to back up my photos. Suddenly while I was printing up pictures for Leif's birthday day at school, I was overwhelmed with a fear that my hard drive was going to crash any second and lose every single photo I had ever taken. As soon as I mentioned wanting a hard drive, AB jumped on the opportunity to go to Costco.
We ended our Sunday outtings with the trip to Costco (also examining the treadmills there) then AB and Leif went to fly a kite at the park since it was awfully cold for swimming, while Skadi and I got groceries.
And after writing this, I think I am dead tired all over again.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
A bottle of Rum and a bottle of Kahlua took a dive.
If you have seen our pantry I am sure you are wondering how this hasn't happened to this point. And truly, it isn't for lack of organizing skills that my pantry looks the way it does. It is the very flawed design. It is a very deep, dark closet. Even my mom has given up hopes of finding the organization key to it. My next house WILL have a walk in pantry. That is non-negotiable.
AB spent over an hour cleaning up the mess while I kept the kids occupied (picking up the house) and away from the mess.
Any idea what a mess that stuff is? Icky, sticky, glass ladened mess.
An hour later AB's mood lifted a little and he could finally sit down and eat dinner.
We agreed, at least it was the rum and kahlua. This post would have a different tone had it been the Jack.
Monday, July 21, 2008
And last? I don't have the zeal for tent camping that I used to. A dirt eating toddler, a fire loving preschooler, a dog, bugs, no shower and a vehicle only barely able to haul all our stuff... I am just not feeling it like I did when I was growing up.
But as I think about how I loved camping growing up... that is when I start feeling guilty for not sucking it up and doing it.
Like any boy, he LOVES camping.
AB reminded me that I shouldn't feel guilty - afterall we had just spent nine days in Alaska living life to the fullest there.
Our good friends just purchased a pop up tent trailer that I am seriously coveting. We drove by their house last night and I kept telling AB, "I am not going to look at it because I will want one!" They have led the charge on a minivan too. I never wanted a minivan before. Ever. Never going to own one, not ever.
Oh but look how roomy it is, and a DVD player? When can we get one?
We have lined out the rest of the summer for the most part... next weekend is Leif's birthday party, the following weekend is C's party, the weekend after that we are thinking a day trip to a water park might be in order.
Then I head to Steamboat for my girl's weekend which will likely also be the same weekend as one of Leif's friend's birthday party. Thankfully his mom talked to me the other day to give me a heads up on what they were planning. Their son is quiet and never wants a party. So instead they are looking for fun alternatives he can do with his two favorite friends. Last I heard they are leaning towards taking the kids to the movie - and I am happily rejoicing in the fact that this should be easy for AB to deal with on his own. Though freaking a little at the thought of how Leif will behave in the theater with two other little boys and only two parents...
Anyways, by the time I get back much of August has passed us by. Nothing very heavy is occupying our summer schedule now that Alaska is in our past, but fitting in all the little things is hard. Llike the Farmer's Market, house shopping -early phase now- fixing our house up to sell, and still trying to organize for a garage sale that AB keeps reminding me should happen sooner rather than later given the growing stacks of STUFF in the garage and his hopes of having an actual place to park this winter.
I am starting to look at planning for the fall and... I am embarrassed to admit... I am even looking towards planning Christmas. Not to mention the fact that I actually uttered the words "Olympics 2010" to friends the other night. (Which are, by coincidence, about 6 or so hours north of us.)
We will do our annual October trek to the family cabin on the Sound (I am working on correcting myself as I read how annoyed people get when one uses the term "coast" to refer to places on The Puget Sound) - everyone (but probably mostly Winny) is looking forward to that trip.
I would like a trip to Seattle for a weekend to take the kids to the aquarium and other attractions and maybe fit in some Christmas shopping. Then we head to Colorado for Thanksgiving. Then Christmas here... and phew.
For awhile I have been looking forward to joining a nearby (to my work and next door to the kid's school) healthclub so I have a place to go run on a treadmill. A few weeks ago I ran down there with the intent of joining after having received a flyer in the mail for $45 joining fee and $45 a month. They gave me their flyer, but sent me off. Turns out that I have to go to the main club to join.
After having a busy week I finally found time today to run to the main club (my running shoes and clothes packed in my gym bag in the car, ready to start off my running again at the end of the day).
I stood in line at the desk after not finding anyone in the Membership office. They directed me back to the Membership office. I waited.
And I waited.
I was headed back to the desk when a woman finally walked up who works in memberships.
She suggested I go back to the desk to check in and fill out some stupid form.
At this point I was starting to get annoyed.
She finally tells me that their current "deal" since I work at one of the local employers is $100 joining fee, $55 a month and a $50 annual towel fee.
I asked her why the flyer I got 2 weeks ago and the postcard sent to me no longer applies?
She told me they were old and she doesn't know where or when I might have got them.
I showed her the postmark on the postcard from around Memorial Day and noted there was no expiration date listed. Also the flyer? It was picked up two weeks ago from their satellite club.
Sorry she says, $55 a month.
I was ticked. First off, no way in hell was I paying $55 a month when most clubs offering what their offsite "Express" club offers were half that price. Then just the simple fact that the sheets I was given were no longer valid. How convenient! And third - three visits to get signed up for a membership? How bad did they really want my business? Apparently not that bad.
She took my name and phone number that I reluctantly gave after deciding I was leaving and they could keep their club, so she could ask her manager if we could come up with a "deal".
On the drive home I got to thinking, and then I got more ticked off. So when she phoned my cell phone this afternoon, there was no way I was answering. I suppose what I should have done was to take the call and tell them exactly what I thought.
I started running through my options in my head. I have always done well as a morning runner. I need to get up and get to it before I have much time to think about it. I don't need any time to talk myself out of exercising, because I can far too effectively convince myself not to go! My biggest problem is my two sleeping children and a husband who goes to work at 5:30am. I considered other clubs - but I can't spend time driving with my already tight schedule. I am not bad at running outside... but the heat KILLS me. It will be September probably before it cools down enough for me to run outside in the afternoons.
Then as I was walking into my building it dawned on me that maybe simply purchasing a treadmill would solve ALL my problems! I can run in the mornings while the kids sleep without having to worry about my already tight schedule at work. I consulted with my mom, called AB (who is thinking if we did this even he would start running) and I am looking forward to treadmill shopping this weekend!
Bloomsday May 2009 here I come!
Friday, July 18, 2008
A friend once related to us that he felt that if you grew up somewhere "cool", it was harder to live in a place with seemingly less to offer as an adult. Where I grew up and went to college - in Northern Colorado - I would call a cool place. Actually it was a great place to grow up, recently rated #1 on the best places to live in the US and is an area coveted by many to live. I understand why.
Looking at where we live now, versus that region... or Alaska... Well this place just seems not to rank as high on the cool scale.
What I love about this region is the size and the family friendly nature and not to mention the really great social circle we have immersed ourselves in. Then there is the wine... very nice to live in "wine country". We have strong, stable jobs here making good money and our kids are in a most fabulous private daycare/preschool.
Why then, given all this, am I sometimes left with an emptiness about where we reside?
For me, what it doesn't have is immediate access to the mountains, to forests of spruce, to mountain streams. And for AB, beyond that, it doesn't have the ocean. Being that I didn't grow up next to the ocean, I could take or leave it. Though I admit a growing fondness for going over to our family cabin on the Sound. I love the tides, the beachcombing and the completely different environment from anything I grew up with. But the big one that it doesn't have is our family.
After returning we somewhat consciously made a decision to start exploring options either in Colorado or Alaska. AB passed his FE/EIT exam making him a full fledged engineer and in theory at least, eligible for many other careers than his current one.
Then yesterday happened.
It seems as though whenever our minds start wandering to the other side of the fence, we get jolted back.
AB came home excited about a new opportunity. Seems that his lead in safety and environmental was in a bragging mood and was joking around in a meeting with the lead engineers who were complaining that none of their new hire engineers passed the recent FE/EIT. AB's lead decided to chime in that he had a safety and environmental guy who went up and passed it on his first attempt.
A sort of "my guys are smarter than yours" thing going on.
A couple days later and AB has been actively recruited by the engineering leads. The neat thing about it is that they are giving him the opportunity to "try it out". AB basically has nothing to lose. If he doesn't like it, it doesn't work out, whatever, he can go back to his job in safety and environmental (which his lead is hoping for). Smart of AB's company actually... after having passed the exam, AB knew he was more marketable with other companies as an engineer. Now? He is looking forward to trying a new position on for size within his company.
We got home yesterday and it was like a competition... who got to share their exciting news first?
I usually win that battle because I can just start talking when AB walks in the door. I have had that little unwind time to relax and formulate what I am anxiously awaiting to tell him.
My opening line to him went something like, "you know you are going to have a great day when your client asks what you would do with unlimited funds and there isn't a hint of sarcasm to her voice!"
My task over the next two weeks is organize my teams thoughts, revisit our Gantt charts and define our critical paths on our suite of projects to determine how much it will take to shorten it. (Like how I am using all this project management lingo?? Gettin' good at this I tell you.) Do we need to hire on a few more scientists to get the work done? It's that important to the client. She closed the call by telling me she has a new and unrelated project to start up and could I please assemble another team for this new project? I have to admit how much I enjoyed e-mailing a group of people who are virtual unknowns to me asking them if they want a project. Rare does a project fall in your lap unsolicited from a client. I enjoyed being the bearer of that news to unsuspecting people.
Later that afternoon I got an e-mail from my much adored deputy sector lead. He is routinely reminding us that he is retiring soon. I am often surprised that he seems to think we are going to forget. When in fact, actually, we will mourn his leaving and are right now just pretending that he will be here forever. His e-mail was actually to a few people with me copied on it, letting people know who he was going to be transferring a subset of his files to.
Now I am just trying to figure out how to word this for my staff development review paperwork that is due next Friday.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"You are getting to be such a big boy," I told him thinking about the two massive dinners (spaced out by an hour and a half) he ate followed by a fudgesicle and a granola bar, "it won't be long before I can't carry you to bed anymore."
"No mommy," Leif said.
"But I will always hold you no matter how big you are, okay?" I asked him forcing back the tears as I thought of him growing up way too quickly.
"I am getting so big mommy and I will be bigger than you and daddy too and I will always be nice to penguins, okay?" he replied.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Leif: "Will there be strings I can hold on to?"
NM: "I don't know, you might have to ride barebacked!"
Leif: "But I don't want to ride on a bear's back mommy!"
At dinner the other night:
Leif (whining): "Daddy will you pick the brown stuff [hamburger] off my zagna, I don't like brown stuff."
NM: "Leif I think you need to pick the hamburger off yourself if you don't want it on your food."
Leif: "But I didn't spill any mommy!"
AB and I finished watching The Alaska Experiment that we had Tivo'd the other night. A Discovery channel series where four groups of people were dropped off in different locales with the "bare minimum" of supplies and had to survive for three months. (AB - being somewhat of a survival buff - is sure they would never take us, he keeps telling me this... though I think he is more telling himself this.) We finally finished the series and watched the reunion show the other night. Our favorite group of people, Jeff and Elizabeth, talked about how "disconnected" they felt upon returning to society and to their jobs after three months of interacting basically only with each other and the wild.
The word resonated with me. Though I only spent about 9 days on vacation and it wasn't as secluded in Alaska and I most certainly had "cabin fever" brought on by too many people in a small place as opposed to traditional cabin fever, "disconnected" still struck me as the word I have been looking for to describe my return from our vacation. I got back from Alaska and felt a strange sense of loneliness, a touch despondent I think, as well as quiet and contemplative.
The day after we got back I couldn't even bring me to check my personal e-mail. I wanted to just hole up with my family and not go anywhere. Absorb myself in them and in our home. Relish OUR quiet home.
I immediately got back and absorbed myself in the details of my work. Often ignoring personal e-mails that didn't require immediate attention. I even reconnected with a friend of mine from high school, one of my closest friends during that time, and couldn't even bring myself to e-mail him back. I still haven't. All week I felt quiet, but couldn't really pinpoint it.
I am not a depressed person, never have been. And actually I tend to be quite even-keeled, if anything, not enough highs and lows to my personality according to my personality style.
It was probably one of my most productive weeks actually. I had little desire to interact with people and pretty much just plowed through work. A few times I felt as though I should apologize to people for being a huge grump. Because I did feel like a huge grump.
I am still feeling a touch disconnected, but I think I am starting to pinpoint the root cause.
I love Alaska. I really, really do. AB loves Alaska.
And sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to live there.
I am curious what will happen when we go to Colorado in November?
Are we really just being hit over the heads with a big sign?
First off, Totally Tape. Five stars (out of five). Buy it. Buy it even if you aren't traveling with kids. What kid doesn't like tape? Leif particularly does. There were two problems though - Leif wasn't able to tear the tape himself. This wasn't a problem IN Alaska since Aunty Tara just gave him a spare pair of scissors to zip into the tape carry bag to keep with it. Was a little bit more of an issue on the plane though. And evidently if *I* tore the tape off for him, it meant the tape didn't count and couldn't possibly go into the book. Instead it went on his face and ended up in Skadi's hair. The biggest problem I have with this though is that it was so popular with Leif that it was out ALL the time. Which also meant it was being constantly stashed by a crazy cleaning mother in law preparing for the 4th and it didn't make it home with us. At least that I can find.
Next Auto Bingo ranks high. Not because Leif ever actually used it properly by finding the items and closing the window and looking at the scenery. Nope, this one ranks up there because do you know how many times a four year old can open and close 25 (or so) little red transparent windows? (Oh about 20 times.) And do you know how long it takes him to do it? (Longer than it takes you and I.) Nearly everytime we got in the car we would hand him an Auto Bingo card and he was busy for a good solid 30 minutes. Of course each time he closed them all he had to send it up to me for examination.
The next in popularity was the Magnet Set. Leif wanted to like it, I could tell. He really wanted to play with it. But I got the impression he just wasn't sure what to do with it. I suppose part of this comes from the fact that maybe he didn't understand pretend play with it. I am not sure. He was anxious to play with it, got it out a few times, but never really went anywhere with it and it was often neglected.
Color Wonder... ho hum. I want Leif to like this. I really do. I love art. I want him to do art - and he is bringing more home from school in his new room. But apparently my son is taking after my husband in this regard. Do art? Why when there is wood to chop? Or a sister to tickle? Or a nose to pick? Skadi however, was interested in the Color Wonder book and did much scribbling in the Cars coloring book. Then she used the markers as drum sticks (prompting Leif to request markers too) and finally, they became projectiles. And then everyone on the plane around us was kind enough to let us know where the markers went after the flight was over.
The Leapster... never made it out of the bag. I know, I worked hard to convince my husband it was the perfect toy, a surefire hit! Something that would keep Leif busy as a good alternative to DVDs. And for the record, Leif watched a whole two DVDs the entire trip - and both were on the day AB and I went fishing and he hung out with grandma and my SIL and BIL. Still it didn't take up much room and I do see the day when the Leapster is the coveted toy on trips.
Go Fish... forgot about it and it never made it out of the bottom of the bag until we got home and unpacked. Oh well.
The one thing I would recommend that I didn't buy beforehand is one of those "Find the Object" books. We happened to stop at Barnes and Noble while in Anchorage and Leif perused the kids section. He came to me with two books in hand. And really, I just can't say no to book purchases. He had a Star Wars book, something like "The Making of Darth Vadar" as well as one of these little books where you scan and scan the page for some small item and then your 4 year-old has to tell you where it is. Yes, like "Where's Waldo". Leif loves these. We have a Mouse one at home that was a gift a year or so ago from my dad and Leif still loves it even though he has memorized the mouse position on each page. Now he has a new one, and looked at it a ton on the trip.
For Skadi? The tea set reigned supreme. It was used by all the kids and I think we only lost one cup. Skadi loves her tea! She also liked her little backpack and cosmetic bag full of Little People things.
Skadi is at that difficult stage where she needs attention and entertaining, but is only ever insterested in one item for about five minutes before she wants something new. This made her the more difficult child on the trip.
Leif spent much of the time at the cabin wandering around talking to himself (no idea where he gets this at all) or out on the dock fishing. He swam some in the lake with daddy. No way was mommy getting in that cold water. He helped me with making salsa, helped grandma cut some weeds down and enjoyed going on the boat whenever possible. Truly, he needed little in the way of entertainment. Now let's just see if I remember this post in November when we head to Colorado.
Friday, July 11, 2008
NM: "I am being gentle."
Leif: (squealing) "No you aren't!!"
NM: "Ok, then you do it." (Handing him the comb.)
A few minutes later...
Leif: "You have to be gentle so that I have beautiful hair, if you aren't gentle my hair won't be beautiful. See my hair is beautiful now."
NM: (Rolling my eyes.)
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
(I do keep these blogs bookmarked though and will continue to check them and when they get back in the groove - and I hope they will - I will put them back!)
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Moi, sporting the latest fashions in backwoods Alaska ware. Sexy, huh?
AB sporting his catch... a king salmon. Later after fileting it we discovered it was an albino - white flesh. Tasty too.
Leif's other "minor obsession" while at the lake... the "motorcycle that goes in the water". We could not convince him it was called a "Jet Ski".
Skadi and Cousin Aidan hanging together...