Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Things that Make Grandmas Nervous

Owen doesn't know the word for Monkey, but he does like to make his own little monkey noise when we see them in books. Now that he's growing taller, he's starting to really develop his own set of monkey skills. We're doing our best to keep those daredevil attempts in a controlled environment, but the kid has no fear! On the plus side, it's pretty fun to watch his little brain planning out his next stunt (if only he could think through the consequences...). Another plus is that we know exactly who he gets this from and we're hoping he also got Scott's tough bones and resilient body to go along with the monkey skills.

I don't have pictures of the most impressive stunts: climbing INTO the crib, jumping off short stools, scaling the rock wall at the park, but I did catch some recent father-son circus tricks. These are just your standard walk up the legs back flip, which Owen could do over and over and over and over and, well, you get the picture:

This, on the other hand, might be the one that makes the grandma's cringe:

On the one hand, it probably should make me nervous, but it's hard to be uneasy when Owen is laughing HYSTERICALLY and saying "more, more, more." It only took a few tries for him to get the balance figured out. I think if he wasn't shrieking and laughing so hard, Owen would probably balance on that hand for minutes at a time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Say What?

Owen finally has some words. He's nowhere near the linguist that some of our playgroup kids are, but he's communicating quite well. Mommy, Daddy, Cat, Dog, and bye-bye are pretty clear, but everything else needs to have the right context. See if you can translate Owen-speak:

Ah-pee (hint: finger pointed to the sky)
Ha-cur (said like you are trying to clear your throat)
Huh-sa (whispered)

Uppy = Up, pick me up (this is always in a super demanding voice with arms raised and body draped against my legs)
Tar = Guitar, loves it
Moah = Milk, it took me a long time to decipher the difference between his word for milk and "mo-mo-mo" which means MORE.
Ah-pee = Airplane, a word he mastered in Hawaii
Ha-cur = Helicopter
Be-Be = Binky - some day we will not have this word in the vocabulary...some day
Boobee = Birdie (fairly embarrassing when yelled at the top of his lungs)
Huh-sa = Hudson the dog
Aht = Hat
Cu-kh = Truck

The funniest thing this week is that he is starting to make other non-word sounds - and they are hilarious! He clicks/smacks his tongue to make the "tsch, tsch, tsch" sound we make to call the cats over (and laughs at himself every time). Yesterday he started mimicky the whiny cat noise our cats make before dinner, and he's dead on..."meee-yahhhhwo."

One last "fun with words" moment that Scott usually shares is watching Owen wave and say "bye-bye ba to" (bye-bye bath toys) at the end of his bath. The other night Owen waved and said goodbye to the cat, dog, toys, dad (who was still at work), more toys, and anything else he could see as we walked up the stairs to get ready for be. Maybe he was just stalling...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Not Alone

Here's a question? What do you call someone that you know, but are not friends with. What if it's someone that you do know, but have never really met? Like someone that you were in college with at the same time, but not quite in the same circle. You know their name and what they were involved with and they know the same about you, but if you end up in a social situation with that person you have to make that split second decision of whether you act like a stranger or act like a friend. Do you assume they don't know who you are and introduce yourself, or or do you assume they do know you and just start talking like you've been in touch for years? Awkward!

Well, the internet makes it worse. Now, we have all these people that we know, but don't. Maybe it's someone who's blog you read but have never met. That friend of a friend of a cousin of a co-worker. Do you remember how you found them? Does it matter? Do you leave comments on their blog and try to explain that you have been reading about them and their family and somehow not sound like a total stalker? Or do you stay hidden and just keep reading and feel guilty because blog-stalking feels a bit like spying through the window. I've done, and continue to do both.

Well, one of those people that fits both scenarios above is Annie of I'm so glad that I revealed myself on her blog a few weeks ago, because know I can read in peace and not feel guilty. And she is soooo worth reading.

Ever wonder who it is that works for those crazy companies that secretly steal a bunch of money and then get caught by the SEC? Well, the answer is: perfectly normal, honest people with lives and families just like ours. And they're in a whole lot worse shape than the people who could afford to put their money with those investors in the first place. They're people like Annie, who is living in Nashville, following her musical dream, and temping at that firm that's been all over the news this week.

I feel for her and her now jobless situation. And I am so appreciative her willingness to put her thoughts into words and better express how we've all been feeling. In this recent post, she likens the uncertainty of being nearly jobless with that of being out for a run, eyes fixed on a distant runner ahead. Read it. Thank goodness for the One out in front of us that will show us where to go. If we can just keep our eyes focused on where they need to be and not get distracted by the insanity around us, maybe we can keep breathing and even enjoy the journey.

On this end, I'm so thankful for the distractions that Owen brings each and every day. How can you be frustrated at the world around you if you are wrestling with a giggling toddler before nap time... or wrestling with a screaming toddler who has decided that getting dressed in the morning should be on the list of activities that constitute torture. Seriously? It's pants and a sweatshirt... with race cars on it for goodness sakes! I guess I would be much happier staying in my PJs all day, too, but if I have to get dressed, so does he. I think a nasty cough, early wake-ups, dad working late this week, and a tired mom are contributing to the crummy attitude, but we're doing our best to get things back on track today.

To that end, here are five things that I am thankful for today:
- A morning at the pool with our friends
- Family changing rooms, so I could take a shower (with soap!) after swimming
- Sunny and springlike weather outside, so we can go to the park this afternoon
- A long nap for Owen (approaching 2 hours after I heard him squaking 60 minutes in)
- Fitting in a trip to the pet store this morning (they open at 9!), where I got a new cat litter box (long story) and Owen got to marvel at the hampsters, ferrets, and mice.

Maybe I should include a "thankful" list at the end of every post for a while. I think I need it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's Really Going On

My blogging activity has been at a record high these last few weeks, but the interest level...blah! Even I am bored by the stuff I'm posting. Don't get me wrong, I not bored by the activities Owen and I have been doing, but reading about "we did this, we did that" just isn't very exciting. Hence all the photos. It's the blogger trick to taking up space and trying to keep your readers interested. Somewhere along the lines of double space, wide margins, and courier font to stretch that 10th grade essay to the required three pages.

So here's the deal: More real, less filler. I want to get back to using this space to write about the parenting experience and our family IN ADDITION to posting the pictures and anecdotes that I may someday pull together into a book for Owen. I'm not sure how that will change what gets posted here (or if readers will notice a difference), but it's at least a change of attitude and an admission that there is other stuff going on that's filling my brain these days than chasing after a toddler.

So here's what we're really dealing with around the Maxwell House these days.

The phrase that comes to mind is "everything crumbling down around us." Both Scott and I feel strangely secure in our jobs, though we are working in offices that have taken huge cuts and show pretty significant signs that things may get worse before they get better. My office has gone through several rounds of "staff adjustments" (like that term is better than lay-offs), a restructuring of our local leadership, and corporate has given us 90 days to turn things around (aka - get some work!) or they will re-evaluate the viability of keeping us open. Sweet. That's an ultimatum that instills confidence. Needless to say, a few people have left for other jobs (which are nearly extinct here in Bend). The guys that are still around have also taken a 20% paycut and hours cut. But... I didn't have to take a paycut because I already work part time and my awesome boss in Seattle told me I could keep working from home even if they close the office.

Scott's job is in a somewhat similar state. No new projects and staff reductions. He's working late these next couple weeks on bids and proposals for new work, but if nothing comes through...who knows. But...he's one of the few that still have a job and has made some great connections with managers in Portland that would probably have a job for him if things don't stay alive here.

Our tiny church is also really struggling right now, but I won't get into all that here. It's just taking up a lot of time because Scott is on the leadership team and lots of decisions are coming in the next couple weeks. But... I'm so grateful for the community of friends we have there and confident that God has a place for all of us.

So the bottom line is that I feel like our little family is standing on some pretty solid ground with a hurricane of insanity swirling around us. I'm grateful that our footing feels sound, but watching the storm and wondering how long before it begins eroding our solid ground.

I'm not laying this out there to seek sympathy. I don't think our situation is unique or unusual right now, but it is our honest situation. And it is what's really on my mind these days.

Monday, February 16, 2009

To Brighten Your Day

We had such a small dusting of snow on Friday morning, it almost wasn't worth it to bundle up to go outside. Let alone try to find exciting things to do once we were outside in 1/8 of an inch of snow. (Can you see the "path" I tried to create in our front lawn??) Thankfully, as we turned to head inside, the big flakes started to fall...

Gotta love the joy 30 seconds of snow will bring!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day in Pictures

Scott had to go into work on Saturday, so I spent the bulk of my day with my littlest Valentine. We got a small dumping of snow in the morning. After shoveling the driveway, we built a little "snow castle"...
Which Owen promptly destroyed...
We chased the neighbor cat all over the cul-de-sac...
We explored the rock pile in the backyard...
Scott came home with beautiful flowers and cupcakes from Le Cakery - so, so, so yummy. This was the "kid-cake" size for Owen. Scott and I had the real deal (in red velvet with butter cream and chocolate-chocolate) after Owen went to bed.
My two Valentines...
Owen came running down the hall to deliver my cards...
I got one card with Tomas the Train (and one with a much more romantic theme).
Owen finished his night by opening this card from Grandma.
Scott and I finished our night with a lovely home dinner, a bottle of wine, those awesome cupcakes, and a personal guitar concert in our living room. A fantastic evening...especially since I spent most of the afternoon expecting to write a blog post about our "romantic valentines day with the stomach flu." Glad to dodge that bullet!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Best mom tip ever!

Lesson learned this week:
When hiding kiddo gifts for a future birthday...

The garage is a great place to start...

but maybe not...

at toddler eye level...

in a bright colored box.*

Since it we were just 10 minutes into our 5PM hour of frustration, so I wasn't going to fight the lego discovery. As it turns out, those legos kept Owen happy all evening long and have been a huge hit over the last several days. At least it was just an "extra" box of duplos that Scott made a total score on at Goodwill a few weeks ago. Only $3!!! Unfortunately, we were hoping to use that box to supplement another full set of Duplos that I have hidden in another corner of the house. Something tells me those may not be the BEST GIFT EVER once summer rolls around. I'm going to have to snag and re-hide this box in a few weeks.

*Okay, so if you're not impressed with that tip, here's a better one: My new favorite website. Love it! Love it! Love it!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Hawaii Photos

Here are a few of the photos from my mom's camera on our vacation. Can we go back today? Tomorrow?

Hey guys, do you see the boats?

Too windy to be in the pool, but watching the boats was a refreshing walk for the adults and a big winner for the toddler. "Bo-at, Bo-at, Bo-at!"
Learning the Ukelele
Owen tends to get silly right before bed. Maybe this shows who he gets that from...

Last night in the sunset.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Travel Stories

I was pretty stressed about traveling with Owen. Not sure if he would sit still for more than 15 minutes of our 6 hour flights. He did amazingly well considering the timing of our flights, but our trip over did have some interesting moments.

To start, after a 4 hour layover in Seatac (praise God for the play area!), we were nearly bumped from our flight. We did manage to get on the flight thanks to a party of 3 that never showed. We got two of their seats, and a very large Samoan man (who turned out to be very nice and understanding) got their third seat. So, let’s take a quick snapshot of our situation for the 6 hour flight:

The plane is a 3-3 set-up.
We have window and middle seat.
The nice, but 300+ pound Samoan is on the aisle.

Bag full of toys and snacks are under my chair (we are stocked up!)
I can't reach the bag because Owen is in my lap.
Scott can't reach the bag because we are in front of the bulkhead where the seats don't recline.
The people in front of us don't have this problem, and have knocked their seats back as far as possible the second the "ding" goes off.

Add to this that Northwest Airlines is nowhere near the airline they used to be. Nearly bumping us with no warning, crabby flight attendant, and NO FOOD whatsoever unless you pay. Come on! The flight is from 5:30-11:30 at night. Not even dinky pretzels with our drinks. We bought food, but got the evil eye from the flight attendant because we didn’t have exact change. (I’m sorry, but if you are going to ask people to pay for food, perhaps you should let your flight attendants carry change…)

For the most part, things go smoothly until we decide that Owen should probably get to sleep.
It’s 2 hours past his bedtime and he is getting crabby. On with the PJs, drink the milk, settle into Dad’s lap, and…scream… for 30 solid minutes. We finally gave up and let him run up and down the aisle. Good thing the kid is cute and was getting more smiles than glares as he knocked his head against elbows and knees repeatedly over the last 2 hours of the flight.

The kicker? Owen did finally fall asleep – as the landing gear was being lowered for landing, he crashed against my shoulder and stayed out through the deplaning, trek through the airport, wait in baggage claim, and drive out to the resort. Granted, he woke up once we got to the hotel and screamed for another 30 minutes when we tried to finally go to bed at 2 AM, but he slept in the next morning and we were ready to play and relax to the fullest!

Side note: flight home was much more awesome. It was an empty redeye, so we claimed to rows of seats to ourselves and Owen slept as long as the lights were off, woke up for breakfast in the Portland airport, and fell asleep again on the 45 minute puddle jump back to Portland.

Traveling with a toddler keeps you on your toes.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Hawaii Trip

Tomorrow begins a new week, but first we need to enjoy the highlights of our week in Hawaii. We joined my parents at the Ko Olina Beach Club on Oahu. It's an amazing resort with three pools, a man-made lagoon off the ocean, beautiful accomodations, and sun, sun, sun. Tons of families with small children, but it never felt chaotic. The resort is set-up for kids without making them the focus. We would go back in a heartbeat.

Owen loved the beach, the pool, and the pineapple.

Having been to Hawaii before, we really didn't feel the need to explore the island. Instead, our trip was beautifully uneventful and relaxing to the fullest. We did take one morning to drive up to the North Shore to try and show Owen the big waves - total bust. It was windy, spitting rain, and the waves weren't up. Back to Ko Olina, where the "dry side" of the island lives up to it's name with constant sun and 75 degrees.

Our days were basically the same. Leisurely breakfast in our condo, slather on the sun screen and swim suits, morning at the beach, back to the room for lunch and nap time, afternoon at the pool, and evenings playing on the lawn before dinner.

Having a toddler meant we had more downtime than on previous vacations, but we really enjoyed JUST SITTING during naps and after Owen went to bed. We both read tons!

Sharing the vacation with Nana and Papa was also quite a treat, as they took it upon themselves to run Owen ragged. He played so hard that he took a 2 hour nap every day and is probably still recovering. Scott and I also got some time to ourselves and had a nice dinner out at the JW Marriott down the coast.

A few afternoons the wind really picked up and turned Owen into a popsicle after 10 minutes in the water, so we took those opportunities to walk over to the marina and look at the big ships or play ball on the grass. Owen got lots of soccer and football playing with Nana, and even learned how to throw a mini-football with one hand! Step and throw! Lefty!

Our last day was definately the best weather. Calm and 80. We spent the whole day in our swimsuits. Papa and Owen took the morning to build a big sandcastle.

We had dinner outside and got to listen (and even dance a little) to some live music.

Owen was an awesome traveler. Our flight over was a bit exciting, but I'm putting that in a separate post.

The problem with going to Hawaii is that you are never there long enough. "Six days, five nights" sounds like a great plan when you are making reservations, but that sixth day shows up just as you are starting to feel settled. You've finally set all the stresses from work and LIFE aside and have figured out how to just live in the moment and relish the sun, sand, and tropical air when it's time to get packed up and head home.

The problem with taking vacation is it just makes you want to take more vacation.

And in our case (as I'm sure is true with many people), Scott's 10 vacation days a year just don't cut it. At least I get 15 days a year, but that France model (isn't it like 5 WEEKS a year??) is sounding better and better.

We're privileged to have another trip to Hawaii on the books for this spring, courtesy of Scott's parents. May can't get here fast enough!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Toddler Travel Tips

While our travel is fresh in my mind, I wanted to post these Toddler Travel Tips. Of course, we have pictures and stories coming soon. These are my best tips based on one week-long airplane vacation with an 18 month old. Prior to our trip, I got great advice from Jen based on her week in Mexico with Max. The stuff she told me was gold (and included here), along with some of our observations.

1. Dollar Store. Visit the dollar store or the dollar section of Target to pick-up some cheap, new entertainment options. We picked up some plastic farm animals, matchbox cars, flip books, and simple puzzles. Leave everything in the package until the plane, as that's half the fun.

2. Pace Yourselves. Bring out the toys or games one at a time. You don't want to be out of tricks with 4 hours of travel left. We still have unopened toys and books for our next adventure.

3. Take the stroller. The stroller was invaluable in the airport and for hauling stuff back and forth to the beach/pool. We just brought our little Combi, but Jen traveled with her jogger, and I even saw parents in Hawaii with their double strollers. You can take the stroller through security (doesn't count as a carry-on), and then drop it at the door of the plane. They tag your stroller, store it with the luggage, and have it waiting outside the airplane door when you land.

4. Rent the carseat. Unless you have a way to convert your carseat into a stroller, why haul the thing through the airport? I think Budget charges $15/day to rent a carseat, but with a maximum charge of $60. $60 for a week long rental is well worth it in my book.

5. Snacks, snacks, snacks. Even better if you can time a flight during meal time. Bring the foods you know your kiddo loves. You can bring all sorts of liquids through security, as long as you have your baby/toddler. They allowed us Owen's water, juice boxes, apple sauce cups, etc. We bought milk from either fast food places or starbucks inside security when we needed it.

6. Plastic Bags. Jen learned that the flight attendants can't take dirty diapers from you (bodily fluid issues), so pack lots of plastic bags.

7. Airplane bathrooms do have changing tables. I was surprised how many airport bathrooms do not.

8. Get an aisle seat!! On our flight over, we had the window and middle seat thinking it would be easier to contain Owen that way. It was, but with him in our laps, and the big Samoan in the aisle seat (REALLY nice guy, but still...), it was nearly impossible for either of us to reach the toys and snacks in the bag at our feeet. An aisle seat allows you access to the overhead bin and just that much more maneuver room.

9. Airport play areas! Every airport has them. Even our little Bend airport has a lego table. Owen was happy for at least an hour of our layover playing on the slide in the Seatac play area.

10. Consider pre-boarding carefully. If you know your carry-ons will fit below the seat, why spend an extra 45 minutes on the plane waiting for people to board? That's quality run around time.

11. Check your Hotel. Ours provided travel cribs and high chairs at no extra cost. Golden!

12. What's worth the Cost. I think it's well worth it to pay extra to have kitchen access and a legitamite bedroom. You can have immediate food access when needed and a door to shut during nap time. Owen was playing so hard all week that mealtimes and naptimes came in full force. Waiting 30 minutes for resturant food would have been ugly.

13. Take vs. Buy. Some things are better to buy at your destination than try to pack in your suitcase. Diapers, beach toys, and beach towels (if not provided), can all be bought at a grocery store for minimal cost. I do recommend taking a pack of disposable swim diapers, as they tend to be expensive at vacation destinations.

14. Enjoy! The world looks different when seen through the eyes of a toddler.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

25 Things?!

Note: we're on vacation for the next week, so I'm testing out the feature that lets you "schedule" your post for the future. I'm hoping this pops up on Tuesday. While we're swimming in the sun, you can enjoy random facts about me. (Sorry that's not much consolation).

So the "25 things" about me lists have been going around facebook. I've been working on this one a while - maybe I'm just not that interesting - or things keep popping into my head in the shower and then I forget them once I get on the computer. So, after much thought, here is the randomness...

1. I do my best thinking in the shower. I often find myself planning out a new activity, brainstorming through a work project, or rehearsing a conversation in my head at 6:00 in the morning. I use this as my official excuse for why I take long showers.

2. I always, without fail, sleep on my side. Right or left does not matter, but I have no idea how anyone can sleep on their tummy (uncomfortable!) or back (way too exposed).

3. Like Colleen, I am terrified of deep water. If can't see the bottom, that counts as deep. Lakes included. Scuba diving is not on my list.

4. I have a terrible habit of picking my nails and cuticles. Not biting, just trying to work off those rough edges. I'm doing it right now, even while typing.

5. I have very small feet - 5 or 5 1/2 - which makes it increasingly hard to buy shoes. The gal at the Foot Zone the other day told me the average women's shoe size is now 8 or 9. Seriously?

6. I have terrible eyesight. I'm legally blind without my glasses or contacts. Seriously. I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me, "Yea, my eyes are terrible, too. What are your contacts -5? -6?" Not even close. Let's try -12.5... I'm just thankful they can still correct my vision at all.

7. I'm not a candidate for LASIK surgery. Secretly (or not so anymore!), I am happy about this because...I am REALLY squimish about eye issues. 15 years of wearing contact lenses has not cured this.

8. I just got a haircut.
9. I love bags and could spend hours perusing

10. I do not obsess about shoes or own many pairs. This likely has something to do with #5 above.

11. I think I get paid too much for the job I do.

12. These are my two favorite people:

13. If I won the lottery, the first thing I would do is hire a house cleaner. The second thing I would do is call a financial planner.

14. I am a wicked fast reader.

15. My favorite authors are Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner.

16. I am an information geek. Internet, magazines, newspapers, books. If there is information in front of me, I feel compelled to read it. Good for knowledge, bad for productivity.

17. I read the newspaper (sometimes two different ones) everyday. My favorite parts of the newspaper are the advice columns and the comics. My dad used to read us Dear Abby in the mornings before school, and it stuck. I actually think it was a great way to talk about values and share advice with us as we were growing up. He'd say, "Okay, tell me what you think about this one..."

18. I eat peanut butter toast most mornings for breakfast. (another thing I picked up from my dad.)

19. When I'm concentrating, I stick out my tongue. So does Owen. So does, you guessed it, my dad!

20. When I was little, I wanted to work at Nordstrom. Selling clothes seemed like a dream come true. That was also the phase when I loved the the Madonna song, "Material Girl" - I thought it was about fabric.

21. I love to cook - I consider it my hobby. Always testing new recipes and adding to our list. Baking? Not so much - the only things I bake are banana bread and break-and-bake cookies.

22. When I was a kid, I used to eat a cheese sandwich every day for lunch. Yes, that's bread, margarine, and cheese. Not surprisingly, my comfort foods still include lots of cheese - and chocolate.

23. I don't like cured meats, and have only recently discovered how awesome bacon can be.

24. I have always lived near the mountains. I feel disoriented and unbordered without mountains lining the horizon. The thought of living somewhere with wide open spaces is a little frightening to me.

25. I love being the mom of this toddler.