Monthly Archives: June 2013

I love Sundays!

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Last night before going to bed Kyle and I discussed what our plan for today would be.  The conversation started with Kyle saying that even though it was the weekend, it would be like any other day of the week because we would still be waking up early with the kids.  I countered that argument with although we would be up early I would make breakfast and we could spend the day in our jammies watching movies; a typical lazy family Sunday.

We were awakened at 6:30 by Reece crawling into our bed asking for cartoons.  I knew we had a special hour-long Mickey saved in our DVR so I put that one on hoping to catch more Zzz’s.  He is the worst at sitting still so although I was in bed for that hour, I was anything but sleeping.  Around 7:30 Reece told me to get up so I did.

I went to the kitchen and started our Sunday morning breakfast; pancakes.  I make some pretty phenomenal pancakes using beer as a not-so-secret ingredient.  I had a Sam Adams Maple Pecan Porter so I used that for a flavor boost and I have to admit my pancakes were extra tasty today. Everyone enjoyed breakfast so I made an extra batch to freeze for the kids’ breakfast over the next week.

After breakfast we sat around on the couch catching up on the morning’s news, still in our jammies.  I couldn’t stay that way for long.  I needed to take Kylee to the store to get her her first pair of shoes and the weekend would be the best time to take her so Kyle could keep Reece.  So by 9 I was dressed and out the door.

My shopping partner in her NEW shoes!

My shopping partner in her NEW shoes!

Kylee and I made a date out of our time away from the boys.  We stopped at Ross and TJMaxx to do a little shopping for ourselves and the house.  We stopped at Payless and I picked out the cutest shoes.  I put them on her cute little feet and scooched away for her to take her first steps in shoes.  I almost cried.  She did cry.  She walked like a scooba diver on land before plopping down on her butt in frustration.  Sold!

On the drive home she kept on reaching for her feet.  She hated the shoes.  As soon as we came into the house I set her down so she could walk to daddy wearing her new shoes.  She wasn’t having it.  She plopped right back down on her butt and cried.   My little girl has grown accustomed to walking bare foot –standard for Hawaii- so making the switch will be a fight, I can already see.

But now I can switch back into the ‘lazy Sunday’ mode.  I am home for the day, don’t need anything from any store.  The kids are napping, Kyle is gaming, Mac is sleeping, and I have my feet up as I type.  I have some cleaning and laundry to do but that will get done sporadically throughout the rest of the day.  My plan is to put on some comfy clothes and read a book as I lay on the couch until the kids wake up and I am forced to move.  This is what Sundays are all about.

 

ps.  You can click that image to make it bigger to see Kylee in her stylish new shoes.

Fun Fact Friday: Hawai’i

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Since arriving on the island in late-November we have learned a lot about this chain of islands we now call home.  On the surface, living in Hawai’i could be no different than living anywhere in the US.  You’ll find most of the same stores and services you could find on the mainland.  But stay in Hawaii longer than a week and you would begin to notice how remarkably different it is living in this state.

Here are some fun facts about Hawai’I that you won’t find on Wikipedia:

– Everyone says “Aloha” not just the touristy parts of the island.

– Traditional Hawaiian words and phrases are a commonplace in everyday conversation.

– $5 for a gallon of milk is a deal.  I have seen it go for $10 in some stores

– Hawaiian (the language) has only 12 letters; A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, and ‘okina.  So many things are named using traditional Hawaiian words so you would quick to learn the pronunciation of each letter.

– There are 137 islands that make up the state; eight major islands including O’ahu, Hawai’i, Maui, and Kaua’i.  Honolulu, the state capitol is on O’ahu.

– Honolulu makes the ranks every year as the Worst Traffic in the Nation.

– Hawai’I is also ranked as one of the Happiest Places to Live.  It is called Living with “Aloha” and for the most part, everyone is so nice.

– The average temperature year-round is high 70s-low 80s.

Wish you were here!

Wish you were here!

– Shorts, tank tops, and swim suits are considered daily clothing.

– For more formal events, khaki shorts and a white linen shirt are as dressy as most people get.

– Wave and beach conditions are higher priority than temperature forecast.

– You could drive around the whole perimeter of the island of O’ahu in four hours.

– Hawai’i has an Interstate system (H-1, H-2, and H-3) but it does not connect to another state.

– You will not find a single Chic-fil-a, Olive Garden, Kispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Chipolte, Panera, Sonic, Steak-N-Shake, or Cracker Barrel.

– You will also not find an Ikea, HomeGoods, Trader Joes, Marshalls, Kohls, or anything similar to a $1 store.

– Hawai’i is a “rabies free” state.

– There are no snakes on the island and if you see one you call a hotline and the government will dispatch a team to locate and destroy the snake.

It would be easy to stick to the “American” things that are readily available in this state, it is in fact part of America, but this state has so much to offer it would be a shame to pass up this opportunity.  So what if I can’t have Olive Garden’s salad whenever I want and who cares if a gallon of milk is more precious than gold, this is fricken paradise.

These are the top ‘facts’ that I could remember as I sat down to write this post.  I realize there is so much more to learn during our time on this island and I look forward to a few more “Fun Fact Friday: Hawai’i” posts.

Mahalo!

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks

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I have never had an imaginary friend, but I want one.  As I read this novel I kept trying to invent one.  What would he look like?  What kind of personality would he have?  What would his voice sound like?  What would we talk about?  Why is it automatically a “he”?

I recently finished Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks and although I loved the idea of the story I think I would have written it differently.  Budo, the narrator, is the imaginary friend of Max, an eight-year-old boy who has Aspegers.  He has been alive for five years which is unheard of for traditional imaginary friends because most kids no longer need this support once they enter kindergarten.

On a regular afternoon, Max is kidnapped from school by one of his teachers.  Budo knows what happened but is unable to communicate it to the real world.  He talks with other imaginary friends, seeking them out for advice, and comes up with a plan to free Max from his captor, with the help of a special imaginary friend, Oswald, who can move things in the real world.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend By Matthew Dicks

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
By Matthew Dicks

As he comes up with a plan, Budo begins to realize that if he saves Max it will involve convincing him that he is all in Max’s head which in turn will put Budo’s own life in jeopardy.  If Max doesn’t escape then he will continue believing because he is not around other kids to know any different.  Budo is left with the decision, to save his friend which will end his own life or keep living but at the expense of the only friend he has ever had.

Like I said before, I love the idea behind this book.  I have never read a book with a similar premise but it not a subject so out of the ordinary that people would find it hard to relate.  Everyone knows what an imaginary friend is but not everyone has had the chance to interact with one; this is their chance.  I have never had an imaginary friend so this was my first opportunity to listen to one and I really enjoyed it.

I liked Budo and just about all of the characters of this book, except for the kidnapper of course.  Everyone was believable, especially the teachers.  Budo described Max’s teachers in a way that brought back memories of my days in class.  There were the teachers who forced kids to learn then there were teachers who made kids want to learn and behave.  There were teachers who brought out the best in us and I thought the author did great in developing those characters.  All of the characters felt realistic -even if they weren’t real- which would have given the story more weight if not for, what I consider, a missed opportunity.

I just didn’t feel like what transpired was believable.  I guess there wasn’t enough development on the kidnapper for me to understand why she did it.  The reader only gets a snippet of her story which I felt wasn’t enough.  Why?  The kidnapper and her actions felt so manufactured and bland.  It lacked passion.  I didn’t sense any emotion in what she was doing which made her actions seem mismatched.  I was really bummed that this didn’t meet my expectations because this one area left a really awesome concept to fall flat.

I want to give the author another shot.  I feel like a teacher saying “You’re on the right path.  Just take this back and improve upon it.”  I hate not liking a book when I feel it’s potential greatness was missed by a small margin.

As I read through the pages I couldn’t help but create my own imaginary friend.  He looks like a character from Sesame Street with a very round head, colorful skin and crazy neon hair.  He is funny, uplifting, and cynical just when I need him to be.  He is in the passenger seat of my car cursing at the other drivers even when they are not doing anything wrong.  He reminds me to be a kid when I play with my kids.  He encourages my better judgment even when I don’t want to take the high road.  He doesn’t have a name, I haven’t gotten that far yet, and now that I think about it, I have never seen his feet. Who am I kidding?  I don’t have the mental capacity for an imaginary friend.  I don’t need another person vying for my attention.  My hubby and kids are all I need on a regular basis.

To give credit where credit is due, image stolen from www.amazon.com

As always, that is a direct link to the book on Amazon if you wish to get a copy for yourself.

Time-out over Goldfish

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Our daily routine is pretty regimented.  Every day after nap Reece does homework, plays in the house, we eat dinner, and then we play outside.  It is great to get him outside so he can scream, play with the neighborhood kids, and burn the last of his day’s energy allotment.  When the sun goes down we head back inside for bath, Kylee’s bottle and winding down before bed.

Lately, with help his ever expanding vocabulary, Reece’s personality is becoming much more refined.  Each night we put Kylee down for bed and let Reece watch some cartoons in his room before he gets tucked in for the night.  Kyle and I usually head downstairs to clean, watch the news, and sometimes grab a snack.  But over the past few nights Reece has forgone cartoons to spend a little more time with us.

We didn’t want an extension of the crazy day.  We wanted time to relax while we were still awake so we made it clear to Reece that if he was going to be with us instead of in his room he would have to be calm and quiet.  This ‘adult Reece’ we have created, who only comes out after 7:30, is hilarious.

Reece told me he was hungry so I gave him a couple slices of deli ham.  He gobbled that right up and asked for more food so I gave him Goldfish.  Reece, always wanting to be the center of attention especially when he is not, interrupted Kyle’s and my conversation.

“Daddy! Come, come!”  He took Kyle’s hand and lead him to the stool he was sitting on and in an announcer style voice with Vana White moves he said, “Guh-OLD-fiSH!”  Kyle and I both laughed at this little show he put on and went back to cleaning.

All that is Gold(fish) does not glitter

All that is Gold(fish) does not glitter

Reece grabbed Kyle’s hand again and showed him his crackers again.  Kyle, taking this as an invitation, picked up a few and popped them into his mouth.  Reece looked offended for a second then giggled so Kyle decided to take it a step further by leaning over his plate and picking up a few crackers using only his tongue!

After getting over the fact that daddy’s had just violated his snack Reece noticed how few were left.  He told Kyle he wasn’t allowed any more Goldfish, that they were his but Kyle didn’t stop.  He dipped down again and took more with only his mouth.  Reece is accustomed to being the ‘non-listener’ so when daddy went against instructions, Reece knew what to do.

He sent daddy to time-out.

Kyle walked over to time-out, playing the part so well, and sat there with the saddest puppy dog look on his face; short of crying.  Whomever Reece wasn’t looking at was silently dying of laughter.  He was mad that Kyle took his Goldfish and felt it warranted some time for Kyle to think about what he had done.

Once I composed myself I asked Reece if daddy had learned his lesson and could come out.  Reece said “no”.  So I waited a bit longer and told Reece it was time that he go and talk to daddy about what he had done.  Reece walked over to Kyle with authority and righteousness and said “You no take MY Goldfish.”  Kyle said okay and that he was sorry for taking some after Reece said stop and  went to get up out of time-out.

Reece, who was already walking back to the counter to finish his snack, turned right around and snapped “NO DADDY!  YOU GET BACK IN TIME-OUT!”   Apparently Reece didn’t release him and felt his punishment wasn’t over yet.  He knew we don’t put up with any shenanigans after 7:30 and he was not going to let Kyle get off that easy.

So I waited a bit and told Reece he needed to go release daddy.  With reluctance, he went back to Kyle, who was still acting pitiful, talked to him about why he was in time out and that he needed to wait until he was released.  He gave daddy a kiss and pulled him out of time-out.

The whole scene was hysterical.  At that moment Reece wasn’t a toddler but a fully grown adult.  He knew right from wrong and the consequence that will come if you do something wrong.  It was like he felt he was one of the adults who had to put up with an insubordinate punk.  He was annoyed by the station, shaking his head and huffing, it was comical.

 

What is the What by Dave Eggers

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Kyle hates shopping for gifts for me.  Birthday, Mother’s Day, Christmas, etc, he gets all stressed out saying I am impossible to shop for.  This year for my birthday I came up with a plan to make picking a gift easy in him while I know I’m going to get something I’ll like; a trip to the bookstore!  Kyle would pick out a book for me, my only request was that he have a reason for picking a particular book.  It didn’t have to be anything special -maybe he liked the title- as long as he had a reason.

I had just finished a book when we went book shopping so I was ready to start a new one, particularly one Kyle picked.  Kyle bought me four books –what a great guy!- and picked one as my next book called What is the What by Dave Eggers.  It is a New York Times Bestseller, a Finalist got the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and has become required reading for incoming freshmen at a handful of universities.  Kyle did great, this book was going to be a winner.

What is the What is classified as a Novel but the preface makes it clear that the contents of this book are based on real events in the life of Valentino Achak Deng; one of Sudan’s “Lost Boys”.  It is told in the voice of Valentino, like a memoir, and is explained that he was unable to write such a book so he seeked out the help of Eggers to have to story told.

The story starts out with Valentino opening the door to a woman who says her car is broken down and needs to use the phone.  When he lets her in, she and an accomplice rob Valentino and hold him captive as they unload all of his possessions throughout the night.  Valentino begins to tell his story -somewhat- to the robbers, but only in his head.  His whole story is told, in flashback form, to all the people he encounters since the start of the robbery; the robbers, a third accomplice, a police woman, an ER nurse, coworkers, and customers at his job.

What is the What  by Dave Eggers

What is the What
by Dave Eggers

When Valentino was a child, Southern Sudan erupted in civil war and his hometown was attacked, most of its inhabitants killed.  Separated from his family and assuming they are dead, Valentino finds and joins a group of boys walking to Ethiopia for safety.  During the walk they are ambushed by helicopters, tanks, trucks, and lions.  Once the boys make it to Ethiopia they think they are safe but are soon attacked and forced to walk again, this time to Kenya where a refugee camp, Kakuma, is being established.  After years in Kakuma, Valentino is finally brought to the United States where the story ends.

The book was great, that goes without question, but I had a hard time with all the tragedy in this man’s life.  What made it harder was that this wasn’t really a novel.  It was based on a real person’s life.  Somebody actually lived this!  It took me three weeks to read over 500 pages –granted it was during the move and unpacking- but I found it was the content of the book that made it hard for me to want to read.  Valentino couldn’t catch a break.  This guy was attacked, starved, exhausted, and on the verge of death throughout most of the 500+ pages but it was his attitude, outlook on things that made it possible to keep reading.  Valentino never had a ‘pity me’ moment throughout the entire time he was in Africa.  Walking for months with little food while he friends dropped dead around him he never spent time dwelling on the negative which would have been warranted given all he had been thorough.

It is clear to me why this book is required reading for so many kids entering college and I feel it should be read by more.  I think, like Lord of the Flies this book should be read in high school so kids know what human perseverance looks like.  What it means to struggle while still being grateful for the things you do have.  This book may be difficult to read but the overall message of determination and survival is so captivating.

Would I read this book again?  Probably not (that’s not a hard “no” though).  Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely, and I think my previous paragraph touch upon my recommendation position.  I am so glad Kyle got me this book and chose it as the next book I read.  This is definitely not a ‘summer read’ or one you should undertake when you’re going to be distracted because there is so much depth and story in the details that it would be a shame if any of it was missed.  I liked it but I am definitely looking forward to a lighter subject in my next book.

To give credit where credit is due, image stolen from www.amazon.com

Like always, that is a direct link to the book on Amazon, if you wish to check it out.

…and she’ll cry if she wants to!

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My baby girl is exactly ten months old today!

She is such a great baby.  She is reserved and quiet and does her own thing whenever I am busy.  I can take her anywhere and not have to worry about bringing entertainment.  She is happy to just take in the situation and watch.

Kylee rarely cries.  The only time she really gets worked up is when she is hungry.  We joke that she goes from 0 – pissed in seconds when she is hungry.  To avoid any meltdowns I know to be prepared when meal time is near.  If I am on top of my game we can go all day without a single cry; but the food needs to be ready at a moment’s notice.

Over the last few days Kylee has had moments where she is absolutely un-sootheable and just plain unhappy.  That is not my baby.  She is usually all giggles and smiles when she makes eye contact with anyone but lately getting the slightest smirk is a challenge.

It's her (ten-month) birthday...

It’s her (ten-month) birthday…

Then we noticed her top teeth are coming in.

Reece was never a problem during teething.  We only knew he had teeth coming in when he chomped down on my finger one day and it hurt.  He wasn’t fussy, didn’t spike a temperature and was never restless.  One day he didn’t have teeth and the next, he did.

When Kylee’s bottom two broke through the gums she was a little fussier than normal but nothing crazy.  I was stoked!  I figured both my kids were teething champs!  I knew she still had a mouthful of teeth to come but if the first two were any example of what to expect, she, like Reece, was going to breeze right through this.  Jeeze, was I wrong!

Yesterday was the worst!  She is usually a great sleeper, but she wouldn’t sleep.  She usually will play by herself, but I had to be within her eyesight at all times.  She usually loves to be held, but she would wiggle and push off of me.  All of my usual tricks were useless.  I resorted to a baby painkiller and within an hour she finally slept.  When she woke up -after what turned out to be a decent nap- she was better but nowhere near my happy baby girl.  She was pitiful.

Today she seems to be more like her normal self and I have been walking on eggshells to keep it that way.  We’ve done some of her favorite things –shopping, acrobatics, tickle fests, playing with pots, pans, and plates- and I am proud to report we haven’t had any total meltdowns, just a few mini ones.

I know moms all over the world have been suffering through teething since the dawn of time but one of the highlights of my day yesterday was commiserating with another mom whose daughter is the same age as Kylee.  Her daughter was just as grumpy as mine and she and I sat on a park bench comparing the craziness of the last 24 hours as we held the girls and our older two played.  Sometimes misery needs company so that conversation came at just the right time.

With today being her ten-months birthday I am counting my lucky stars that the first bout of grumpiness took so long and is quite manageable.  I will admit that I my appearance has taken a hit and that it was past lunchtime before I changed out of my jammies but we are getting by.  Soon Kylee will have a beautiful smile of glistening white teeth and she will be my happy girl again.  Until then, you can find me walking circles around my house with Kylee in my arms and earplugs in my ears.

The perks of a playground

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So I love my new house.  I think by now that is obvious.  What is even better is what the new house has brought our family -the kids specifically- other kids!

Our house is just steps away from a playground.  Most military housing have playgounds all over but this is the first time we are so close to one.  I can see it as I look out our front window and Reece can see it from his room window.

When we first moved in I had mixed feelings about having the park right outside our front door.  I knew the kids would love it but there could be some down sides.  First was that I would never get Reece to stop asking to go outside.  I consider myself an outdoorsy girl but I have other things to do during the day that would not get accomplished if I was watching Reece play all day.  Second, I worried about the constant screaming of other kids.  Kids tend to get loud when they’re having fun so I figured it would be a constant struggle to get a decent nap from the kids if other littles were making their enjoyment so obvious so close to our home.

Right outside our front door

Right outside our front door

Turns out my concerns were unnecessary.  Yes, Reece asks to go outside all the time but in addition to the playground we also have a fenced in backyard filled with toys so I can easily send him out back so I can stay inside taking care of chores or Kylee.  The other kids who play at the park are loud but the noise doesn’t really travel to our house.  Even with the windows open I hardly notice the screams and yelling.  Reece only hears it when he is playing near an open window.

Reece and I have developed a daily routine which has helped him adjust to the move and upcoming TDY Kyle will be going on.  He plays, eats lunch, naps, does homework, and then plays outside.  It has gotten easier and easier every day to get Reece to take a decent nap because he knows once he wakes up he is that much closer to playing outside.  Whenever he gets in a mood we go over his schedule and he begins to look forward to playing outside later in the day and doesn’t want to lose that privilege.

We have also met so many other little kids.  Reece has a new buddy a few doors down and asks to play with him every day.  They play on ride-on toys, play chase and follow the leader, and when Kyle is outside they go to the basketball hoop nearby and shoot around.  As the evening progresses more kids come outside.  By the time we take Reece inside it is bath time then bedtime.  He is completely exhausted every night which makes for happy parents.

This is one of the biggest things I miss from our time in DC.  We had neighbors that Reece loved!  I like that he looked forward to seeing someone other than mommy and daddy.  To one side he had a little girl around his age who he loved to play with and on the other two people who made mommy and daddy seem like chop liver.  In this new house we are surrounded by kids of all ages and Reece is happier than a pig in shit.  If his buddy isn’t outside there is a good chance another little kid is and in no time they will be best friends.

I am so happy we will be here for a few years so Reece and Kylee have a tribe of kids to grow up and play with and that playground right outside is perfect for getting kids together.