Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Fun

Here's an activity for your little ones that my little ones enjoyed. We created beaded garland for our little tree that was really cute! And it was a great fine motor activity! It would also be good for necklaces and bracelets! I got the idea from an Usborn book of Christmas crafts.

1. Cut scraps of Christmas wrapping paper (the ones I always save and are never enough for another present!) into strips as long as a drinking straw and approximately an inch and a half wide. Spread glue on the back of the paper and cover the straw with it, making sure the edges glue down well. (I did this part the night before and let them dry.) Do as many as you need to get the length you want. And, of course, the more colors the better. I liked the shiny paper a lot.

2. Now the kids can get in on the act. Get out their scissors and let them cut beads from the straws between 1/2 inch and 1 inch. This is fun because the beads fly all over the room and must be collected from all the corners when done!

3. Tape one end of a string (as a needle) and tie a pony bead to the other end to stop the beads from slipping off as you thread them on. If the straw slips out at this point, it's okay--the paper will still hold it's shape. We added a few shiny pony beads to the mix to break things up a bit. We tied another pony bead on the other end, but you could tie it into a necklace or bracelet.

Merry Christmas crafting season!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Numbers

So if you want to know, and you know what these numbers mean, here they are. If you don't want to know, you probably don't know what they mean anyway. :)

1.5 cm
75% effaced
+1 Station
$38.00

These numbers really mean nothing. Baby will come when it's time. But when will it be time??

(Okay, the last one is how much we paid to fill up our tank of gas! It seemed like a significant number to share, too!)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Princess

Our baby princess turned three today! It is so hard to believe it has been three years since she rushed into our world and our hearts! She has changed our world more than we can express! You may remember she is the first girl born into the Nelson family line for at least 125 years, and she wears her responsibility well. While we are scared to death about what we're doing, we are proud to have her as ours. She is well suited to be the only girl between two brothers!

She is really such a sweet little girl! When she woke up from her nap today, I was essentially done with her cake. When she saw it she exclaimed, "Thank you, mama! Thank you for my princess cake!" So here is the princess cake for my princess...
(This is the Pampered Chef doll cake recipe, but I totally cheated. You're suppose to use two cakes to make a dress tall enough for a barbie, but I didn't want that much cake around for the next two weeks, so I cut a hole in a paper plate and bowl to stick her feet through and put them on a cup to give it more height, then hot glued the ribbon around the bowl. I drew most of my inspiration from my sister Judy, who never met a crafty project she couldn't conquer! The model was very patient with me as I worked on her dress and kept her hands in the air for a very long time!)

She opted for a menu of macaroni and cheese for supper. We splurged and bought the "expensive" shells and cheese. I am glad for my kids' simple taste in meals when I have been working on a cake all day!

Here is the bag of rocks that Reed got for Ashton. He went with Ryan to a museum for a movie last week and knew he had to get these pretty rocks for her. Ryan tried to convince him to go with something like a book, but Reed stuck with the rocks. He was so excited! When Ryan was getting out the gifts before supper, Reed called back, "Would you bring out the rocks for her!" Then he covered his mouth in shock! We just ignored it so she wouldn't notice (and, of course, she didn't!), but he was so horrified that he had said that! He'd worked so hard at hiding them and keeping them a secret all week.
And then we had the bear chair (which arrived safely on Wednesday, thank you, Lands' End) as the grand finale. She was very excited to have her own "hippo" (Reed's is a hippo), so after the cake we broke it in with a movie. It is very soft and has a tiny fuzzy blanket that matches.
Then I had to figure out how to put candles on that cake without torching the princess' hair. We were successful, and she delighted in blowing them out!
So we have made it through Thanksgiving and Birthday without the baby showing up! We would like to get our carpet installed next week, if that also fits into his schedule. I have noticed less heartburn in recent days, so...we'll see.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hooray for Lands' End!!

I promised the customer service of Lands' End that I would post this experience on my blog. I want to encourage good customer service whenever I can!

We ordered a gift last week for Ashton's birthday. We had been shopping for a soft chair of some sort that compares to Reed's hippo chair that he loves so much (and that they have started fighting over)! We finally landed on a cute flower one from Lands' End, because it was cute and they could get it here in time. It was about the same price as others we had found.

It arrived last Thursday--in a box about 12"x 18"x 4". Though I am not a math whiz, I could see that this was not all of it, and assumed the insert would be shipped later. Some companies had mentioned this, although I could not remember seeing that for this one. So on Friday I emailed an inquiry about when the insert would be shipped. On Saturday I got a response that was apologetic for the misunderstanding, but said I had ordered only the COVER of the bean bag--the insert would be 60 dollars more (for which they offered free shipping)!!!

Well, needless to say I was a bit irked and got on the site again. The item I had ordered was called the "Flower Bean Bag," and underneath it was the insert that could be ordered as part of my set. I mustered up all the niceness I could find and wrote them back. While I was pretty steamed, they had set such a reasonable tone with their first response, I felt they were due this respect.

To make this long story a bit shorter, I will be getting a cuddly bear chair (in pink) delivered to my door by Wednesday (Friday--the b-day itself--at the latest) without me having to pay any shipping, even the shipping upgrade! And I can return the cover I got to the Sears store and not be charged shipping on that return either!

So check out landsend.com for some of you holiday shopping! I know there are a lot of expensive items there (like the bean bag and cover SET) but there are some reasonable things there, too. While I feel like the mistake was theirs in the first place, they really did all they could to make me it right and talk (& write) to me with respect. I applaud their customer service reps!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reed's thoughts on presents this Christmas

"We are going to have the most hu-nor-mous Christmas present we have ever had. Well, not really hu-nor-mous, but the best Christmas present we have ever had. It's the baby!!!! That's going to be the best Christmas gift ever........."

(brief moment of thought)

"........I mean, you can still get us other gifts, too...."

Beware

After Ryan got out of bed this morning, I built a wonderful cocoon with all the pillows and blankets in the middle of the bed. Then I settled in for another snooze.

Unfortunately, I was awakened and pulled out of it prematurely by breakfast seekers. I did not emerge a beautiful butterfly, but rather a fat, grumpy caterpillar...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Eyefire, America

So I have wanted to write a follow-up to the election, but a combination of internet outage, busy-ness, and exhaustion have won out until now. But time has probably been a good clairifyer of thought, so I hope this will resonate with you, weather you agree or disagree.

What We Have Learned

Color matters more than we wish it did. If Obama does nothing else (do we dare to hope?), he has enfranchised the African-American voters. I believe there were many new voters who had never felt like they had a reason to vote until now. This is sad for many reasons, but perhaps this election will make voting more of a priority in citizens' lives in the future. The disappointing part about this is that it seems many voters chose Obama based mainly on the color of his skin, and not the content of his character. But perhaps this is simply a baby step we must take to progress--a step backwards to move forward.

Women have not come as far as we had hoped. It became obvious with Sarah Palin that people (even women!) would do anything possible to undercut a strong woman who holds to conservative values. The things said about her in the "journalistic" media were downright despicable! She was attacked at every turn (even now by her own party!) and has handled herself with grace and poise with every cut. Her family was attacked and brought under more scrutiny than any of the other candidates, who, I suppose, just happened to be male. What we have learned is that liberal women do not have the so-called glass ceiling, but we backwoods conservative women have to know our stuff better than most, because the rug will be pulled out from under us by someone.

If they hear it enough, they will believe it. Voters were fed a distorted truth. I know that money played a big part. Each candidate tried to sell his "truth" to the public, and with the help of the media bias, the richer candidate won out. Not only did Obama have the Hollywood money to buy advertisement at every turn, but he had the Hollywood elite and liberal "mainstream" media touting his messiah-ship everywhere. I suggest we just get rid of all political commercials as an uninformed voter seems less dangerous than a misinformed voter.

HEY REPUBLICAN PARTY, WE WANT A CONSERVATIVE! As much as Obama rallied African-American voters, McCain disenfranchised the conservative voter. I know of too many voters who just didn't vote because they didn't want McCain as much as they didn't want Obama. This is undermining our two-party system that ironically makes Washington work. The only thing I learned from one of my government classes in college was that an inefficient government is the result of, and/or possibly the cause of, a free society! I fear the efficiency of the liberal democrats with control of the three branches of government! In effect, McCain was the third-party candidate who undermined the Republican party. We did it to ourselves! (Don't look at me; I voted for Ron Paul--in June, mind you, when it was all over.)

We are not getting the right lessons from history. You might be able to blame it on the agenda of public schools, but nonetheless, Americans know very little about the right parts of their own history! I have been faced with my lack of knowledge of certain events in the recent political season and I intend to fix it! I mean, what was the Vietnam War really about and why did it end so poorly for us? What did Carter et. al. do to make our economy such a mess in the 70's? And what did Reagan do to fix it so well? What was the Iran Contra affair all about? Anyone? Might we perhaps be able to avoid such mistakes in the future by studying up on these things? Isn't that the whole point of studying history?

There's something wrong with the church. Unfortunately I can't pinpoint what just yet. But it seems with such a polarization between young, hip Christians, and old-school Christians, there has been a breakdown somewhere. Is the church looking to government to cover our mishandling of the widows and orphans? Are we trying to influence the government to mandate the Christian values we hold important to make things easier on us? I don't know. Should we ignore our Christian values and truly separate church and state? Tough questions that we would rather avoid.

What We Will Learn

Democrats will be Democrats. Even though Obama ran on some conservative platforms and claims to be a center right politician, he is a Democrat, and his party will carry him to do liberal things. Perhaps he won't like it, I can't say. But he chose to join the democratic party for a reason.

Our country was set up with a strong system to correct itself. I do believe that our founding fathers set up a good system of government. Even thought I am a cynic, and believe that system will be tested to the fullest in the coming years, I hope and believe freedom will win out!

God is the God who doesn't CHANGE! Though we may not understand what he is doing and (thankfully) do not know the future, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Amen and amen!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Truth is Out There...

...if you choose to look for it.

But you have to look, cause it's not coming to you...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Overheard From the Other Room

Reed (yelling): Ash!!! SAY YOU'RE SORRY!

Ashton (very contritely): Sorry!

Reed: No, you're not!

(Why did he bother then?) For the record, that was the end of it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vacation 3: Beach Bums

The condo we stayed at in Iowa had a nice sandy beach on the lake just outside our unit. Once the weather warmed up a bit, we enjoyed it as much as we can.

This was a good view to have of the situation, but I was unable to maintain this pose for long.

Ryan and the kids walked out onto the dock that enclosed the swimming area for a photo op. At one point they were sitting on a skinnier spot of the deck, when I came out to join them. Reed decided he needed to "move over to a wider part of the deck, so mama can sit with us." I tried not to take offense.

Here is my hubby who has recently gotten into the self-portraits. I think he is trying to avoid a lack of pictures of himself, like his Grandpa Nelson had. He took the pictures--he was not in them.
Ashton enjoys the clear water. It was too cold for mom to ever put on her suit, but Dad got in with them.
Looking for cool rocks. We found a few shells, but they turned out to be pistachio shells. Not quite worth bringing home.
Reed's sand castle. Notice the pool with a stick bridge over it. He was very proud of this. We did wish that we had the sand building expertise of Grandpa Dallas.
Here's another sand castle on another day. But I really put this in so you could see the green water on this day. This was at some point in the middle of the week, so we were glad that it didn't last more than a day!
All in all, it was a very relaxing time. I even got a bit of a tan (and a bit more) one day. We would definitely recommend this resort to anyone, at least with younger kids!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For My Good Friend,...uh...Eric

So I guess my recent political blog has gotten some of my readers (at least one of them) contemplating what I said. This is good; I contemplated it a good many showers and took the entire day to write "the truth as I know it" as far as the political lack of truth out there today. I don't know if anyone else has been contemplating my thoughts, so I address most of this to, um, Eric. Clarification is always good, so I post it here because the rest of you are welcome to read along....

Okay, Eric.

First of all, let me say I am honored to be considered blog-worthy. Having kept up with your blog in recent months, I know that you only blog when you feel it important. Or really cool. Either one is an honor.

And I have always felt like I had a relationship with you where I could tell you the truth, whether you liked it or not, and you would laugh, but respect me for it. Perhaps the distance between us, or even the vagueness of the written word, has diminished that understanding in this case. So let me offer a few more thoughts on the situation.
  • I find it hilarious that you are faced with opposing conservative views at your school. It wasn't till I was a teacher in Prairie Grove that I realized I could actually LIKE people that were, ...well, ...honestly, ...democrats. I was the lone Republican, perhaps in the building. I was very quiet most of the time for those 4 years. There was a time or two when I spoke up, and I was glad I did.
  • I do believe I am dealing with my shrapnel wounds from living in a state where we fear vandalism of our house if we were to put a Republican sign in the yard. It is frustrating dealing with a "Santa Fe" society that believes there is no such thing as too much government and character takes a back seat to "leadership" and personal agenda.
  • I have always been confounded and a bit irritated by those undecideds who say they just "vote for the best man for the job." I have just recently figured out why. I don't believe that the "man" really stands alone or can do anything without his party in Washington. There is not a best "man" for the job, only the best party. (Please note: I am in no way suggesting the Republican party is perfect in any way!!!) I'm not saying he won't do a couple things on his own, but for the most part, he stands with his party. The main part the man plays is his character. A man of substantial character might be able to lead his party and make a great difference, but I believe these great leaders are few and far between, and probably not revealed until several years into his term.
  • My problem with McCain is that he is doing all this political pandering and digging himself deeper into a hole. He is not standing on the values of his party (maybe because he doen't share them all), and people are not buying into his bi-partisan, don't-offend-anyone stance.
  • As far as the merit of opposing views and predetermined ideology, I can tell you that I go back to the term "dyed in the wool conservative." I hold to the values of conservatism as a part of who I am. I filter new ideas through these values, rather than how they sound like they would benefit me. I believe conservatism upholds the best of the country (and even the world) over the what is best for self. Obviously, dems disaggree.
  • My voice and conviction to speak the truth (at least in politics) comes sporadically and mainly through this blog right now. I appreciate you letting me clarify my values to myself, if not to you.
As far as the rest of you, I promise to put the eyefire away and get back to our happy vacation pictures soon. Stay tuned....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Free Handbag Anyone?

Ladies, check out this site that is giving away cool purses!

Guys, Christmas is coming! Can't beat free for your budget!

http://www.handbagplanet.com/contest

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Eyefire--And a little bit more

I've written this post many times in my head, but I guess I haven't been mad enough about it yet to actually publish it. But after watching the debate last night and hearing all the political crap stack up for the past few weeks, I'm done.

First of all, let me clarify my political convictions. I am a dyed in the wool conservative. I believe that this nation was established by deeply religious men and women who knew what it meant to take greater responsibility for the greater good. I believe they knew what would happen if all power was given to the people, and set up a Constitution with a system of checks and balances to prevent some of the pitfalls that we have been able to weasel ourselves into (with the help of our Constitution-interpreting friends). I believe in the same values of great presidents like Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Regan, and even George W. Bush. Yep! I said it! GW! Now I know my liberal-come-lately friends (if they're still reading) will take great offense to this, but I believe GW made a lot of politically unpopular choices just because they were the right thing to do. I'm not saying he's been the greatest president, and he will most likely lose the election for John McCain, but he has not pandered to the political powers in Washington (except perhaps in the recent political season) or the low polling numbers of the "what can my country do for me" public.

So now I am faced with choosing between a liberal and a flaming liberal to receive my vote for president.

I am irritated that so many people believe the "truth" presented to them by George Stephanopoils, Katie Couric, David Letterman, Tina Fey, Oprah, and all those smart Hollywood do-gooders on the red carpet! "Wow! That sounds really good! It must be true!"

I am irritated that for weeks we have been listening to the same political ads that tell us absolutely nothing! And we will only be assaulted with many more in the coming four weeks!

I am mad that the current financial crisis has some voters looking for immediate answers! Do you think Jimmy Carter (renowned president in history) thought he got away with one the year I reached my terrible twos? Could anyone see this $700 billion bailout looming in the future then? No one can say, Americans have had a part in creating this recession by spending more than they earn for years! "Why should the rich get to live like they are rich when I cannot. That is unfair!"

I am upset that charisma and charm are paving the way to the White House for another politician who will do just enough voter favors to say that he did and then maintain business as usual. Yes, there will probably be a tax refund, and a discussion on health care, but the problems that face the nation and the world will not be gone, but different and bigger in a way no one can yet anticipate. There will be more programs that the government will have successfully implemented, but nothing will be different.

But what I am most angry about is the fact that there is no one in this race that I hear speaking up for America! All I hear is politicians pandering for Americans' votes! "Everyone deserves..." "Under my plan, you will get..."

We are poised for an election where we will get what we want. More government bailouts. Equal privileges for all. Except maybe not an enduring democracy that will lead the world on the moral and economic front.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Vacation 2: Iowa Retreat

Yeah, Iowa. We didn't start out thinking, where is the most luxurious vacation destination? But we were ultimately trying to get see Ryan's grandparents in Wisconsin, so this (really nice) resort was on the way and had ONE one-bedroom unit available just for us! We jumped on it and hoped for the best.

So the big sellers for a resort for us are the on-site free amenities. This one had both mini-golf and and indoor pool. (It also had an indoor mini-golf course that was someone's attempt to clean out their garage! We only went to that one once.)

Here we are enjoying the outdoor course.


Ashton liked to employ the "sweeper method," using her club more like a broom. Hey, whatever works! The best golf tip of the week: we put everyone's ball in Daddy's pocket after every hole, and whoever's ball came out was who went next. Bonus for me: I didn't have to bend over to pick up my ball from the hole!


Here are the kids enjoying the pool and daddy. It was the largest indoor pool we had seen at a resort!
Here is the kids' room for the week. Kids' room by night, school room/kitchen/dining room by day. It was just connected to our room by a lockout door (see picture below). Our room is not pictured (because is was a mess!) but it was just like a typical hotel room with a King sized bed. I set up my scrapbooking station in there and got quite a bit done during nap/nightime!

Here is the same room as a dining room! You can see the corner of the kitchen behind me. It was very small, but it worked for us and was a great money-saver for the week. Another bonus for me: Ryan did the dishes every meal! (He's even kept this up a lot since retuning home!)


Another of the great amenities of the resort was the sandy beach on the lake. It was probably our favorite thing to do! We went three days to "swim"/play in the sand. (I'll post a lot more of these pictures later!) Here you can see the dock that enclosed the swimming area. You can't see the sand, but it's between the grass and the water.


One other free thing we took advantage of was the free movie "theater." We saw "August Rush" there and then took the kids back to see "Snow Buddies." You can't beat a movie with talking dogs for them! It was a great resort for our family!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vacation 1: Monumental Moments

So we started our trip with a trip northward towards Mount Rushmore. I had been as a child, but Ryan hadn't been and and we thought it would be a good educational stop for the kids. I had gotten a book about it at the library and Reed was super excited!

We spent the first night with my sister in Denver and saw all the family there. It was great eating and laughing with all of them there. Thank you Beth and Joe for the fabulous meal and lodging, Katie and Wayne for the picture tour of NY, and Amy for the free advice about the kids! I think I can skip the kids' year appointments now! It was fun to catch up with all of you!

We left early the next day because we still had quite a drive to Mt. Rushmore and we wanted to see it all in daylight. It was cold and rainy the whole way, but we made pretty good time. As we got closer and I was studying the map to see how to get there, I saw the Crazy Horse monument was right on the way! I remembered being there as a child and how amazing it was. I told Ryan we had to stop there as well. He trusted my judgment and we stopped. Well...time has a funny way of playing tricks on you....This is what I remember, an amazing sculpture of a man on horse carved into the mountain:

As you can see, it was quite a spectacular undertaking for the artist. However, if you scroll down and look through the fog, you can see what the sculpture actually looks like at this point.


Yep! And the documentary movie said the face wasn't even done till '98--at least 15 years after I visited as a kid! I have no idea what I was "remembering!" If the fog a had cleared at all (this was the best picture) I wanted to take a picture with the kids in it. It will be interesting if they someday take their kids to see the progress in their lifetime.

So then it was off to Mt. Rushmore. Again, Reed was very excited. Here is just a beautiful picture of a beautiful kid!


And here is that beautiful kid running ahead of us and fighting with his errant pants! (The adjustable waist had come undone!)


And here we are under the famous presidential faces. They seemed to be crying because of the rain. Reed wanted a quarter for the binocular machine, but I told him no, because my parents had told me no to that when I was a kid. That's something I remember quite well (at least, I think). I also remember taking my first real picture there of my parents and sister under the state flag of Missouri.


From here we went down the road a bit and spent the night in Wall, SD. We did not go to the famous Wall Drug Store, but enjoyed the continental breakfast to the fullest extent! The next day was our third driving day, but we made it to the condo in Iowa. I post on that later!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Bailout Plan

So I'm not a financial genius or a political junkie. However, I do believe we are in a critical time in our country and we should stand up and speak out for our money!!

So I will defer you to a financial expert (NOT a political junkie) who I truly trust--Dave Ramsey. He has truly transformed our life and gotten us on the right track financially and I think his plan is superior because it takes those nasty politics out of it!!

So check it out and do your part! He's got it set up very well!

P.S. I promise to post vacation pictures and stories soon!

Friday, September 12, 2008

You Know You've Lived Too Long in New Mexico When...

So we've left on vacation. I packed all day on Wednesday, everything from DVDs to coloring books and gifts to open at every state line. I knew we were going to have three fairly long days in the car and I wanted to be prepared.

So what provided the best entertainment of the first day?

The Windshield Wipers.

Yup! The wipers! When it started to sprinkle, and Ryan turned them on, Ashton giggled and giggled and eventually broke out into hysterics with her low "huh, huh, huh, huh!" This, of course, thrilled the rest of us and sent us into laughing fits as well.

Sometimes you just can't pack what you want to.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

From My Sister Beth

I hate to get political, but...

(An email from my sister in Denver)

I just read an interview in the Denver Post with David Freddoso, the author of The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate. It sounds like an interesting book. Has anyone read it or heard about it? (denverpost.com, Sept. 7, Perspective Section – By the Book, 6D, in case you want to read the article:)
One of the questions that the Post asked: “Involvement in the Chicago political machine would in all probability stop most people from seeking the presidency. How has Obama been able to avoid substantive questions about his relationship with not only Tony Resko and Bill Ayers, but other unsavory characters like Emil Jones and Todd Stroger?”
Freddoso answer: “It’s a simple case of national reporters who don’t bother to read up on Chicago politics or talk to people in that town. I had people beating down my door at the Evans-Novak Political Report in 2006, trying to get me to cover Stroger’s election, because it really looked like the reformers had a chance to defeat the machine. Conservatives and liberals came together for the common good, and Obama thwarted them.”
We met someone in Rocky Mtn. Nat’l Park last week from Illinois that said that the Ill. Governor is thought so corrupt that he was not invited to speak when Obama announced his candidacy in Springfield, Il or at the DNC. I guess that is part of Obama distancing himself from that organization.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to my Wonderful Husband!

So it always seems that Ryan's birthday gets the shaft in our family. There's always something that distracts or interferes so that we can't celebrate him to the extent he deserves! Even the first year we were dating I didn't do anything because we'd only been "dating" two days. (I think there was a card...) I've always felt a year behind!

Yet again that happened this year so I just want to give him a few of the kudos he deserves here. There are so many reasons why I love an respect him. Here are just a few:
  • He's a stand up guy who will do the right thing even when it isn't easy. He has faced this issue many times, and I know he doesn't enjoy it. But I always have the confidence in his character that he will do what's right, even when I don't feel comfortable with it.
  • He's a great husband! My sisters-in-law tell me I got the romantic in the family! Even if it's not all flowers and chocolates all the time, he always tries to take care of me: giving the kids breakfast so I can catch a few more zzzs, letting me go out with the girls, ALWAYS putting gas in the van so I don't have to, preparing financially for the present and the future, etc., etc., etc.
  • He's a super dad! Not only does he take responsibility for the hard part of parenting ("You're gonna have to talk to your dad when he get's home." "NO, please, No!"), he always makes sure the kids know he loves them. And he plays all those games with them that, frankly, I can't watch all the time!
  • He is not afraid to try anything! Seriously! Car repair, home repair, yard work, ANYTHING! I mean, one time he cut a hole in the side of our house and had a window installed by nightfall! Impressive!
  • He puts up with a lot! Not just from me, but the kids, and a lot of other people, too. And he usually does it with a pretty good attitude!
  • And don't tell him or anyone else I said this, but he's funny! In fact, he's the funny dadest Reed has!
We love you, Ryan, and think you're the best! You deserve a whole lot more for your birthday, and someday you'll get it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Everything Old is New Again

Well, I'm not sure I'm talking about me. I'm not sure how new I feel, but I do like the revisiting of my youth that has happened lately.

I was super excited about the New Kids On the Block getting back together for their reunion tour at the beginning of summer! I was a fan from the beginning and really never got over them (even though I did keep my fan-dom a secret throughout part of high school)! Yes, it is funny that they are touring with Hannah Montana, since her fans' parents are my age! When I watched them on Good Morning America (yes, I got up for it) those same feelings of youth came flooding back! What a good time of life!

Now there is 90210. I used to watch it every week in my parent's bedroom while I sat on the phone with my friend Mel. We didn't talk except during the commercials, mind you, but we were on the phone! The Facebook of it's day I suppose. I found out later that my parents watched in the living room, I guess to stay connected with me. I have been excited about the new show, only because some of the old characters are coming back as their original characters. Since I was in high school with these guys, it seems like a reunion of sorts.

I watched tonight with a different eye than before--of course, partly distracted by the obligations of motherhood, but also using the more discerning eye of one bearing the responsibility of moral guidance on a day-to-day basis. But I really liked what I saw. Not because it wasn't overly dramatic (Okay, do you remember high school? It's high drama!) or because of the new story lines (Yes, they pushed the envelope further than before, but there's only so many ways you can write looking for acceptance.), but because it's classic 90210. I guess I like that it makes me feel young again. But I also think I could watch this with my teenager and feel comfortable discussing it. I know, I say that now....

I just wonder what my parents thought of it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another Good Idea I Just Found

So I don't have this problem of girls trying on and spreading out clothes, but I've heard of a lot of moms who battle this. This is a good idea even if you don't. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some Good Ideas--I Must Be Nesting

I love it when a good idea comes together. And works.

I don't seem to have many that really do what I envision, but a few seem to work out. Here are a few that I will share, and then you share yours with me.

1. So we don't really keep toys in the living room any more, but a few always seem to find their way out there anyway. So now I've put baskets in the living room for each of my kids on the bookshelf where they're out of the way. When I find a toy, or piece of a toy set, I put it in the owner's basket. Then once a week they take the baskets to their room and deposit the pieces to the appropriate places (in theory).

2. I like my kids to be independent but they were always bugging me to get them a cup for a drink! I don't really want them climbing on the counter--too much independence! So I have instituted the perpetual water cup. It has a lid and can be taken from room to room and refilled in the bathroom at will. I do have to pop Ashton's lid off, but she can get it back on by herself.

3. I have started using all those blanket and comforter bags that I have saved and never used for clothing storage! I can fit an entire season of Ashton's clothes in a normal size comforter bag and the smaller blanket bags are great for shoes. I write the size, season, and gender on the back of a Post-it and stick it to the inside of the bag so it stays on, but is easily changed as needed. Sure beats buying all those big bins every time I need to store more hand-me-downs!

4. More Trashcans! I don't know why I have been storing trashcans of various sizes in my garage, but I just got smart enough to bring them in and place them around the house! Best new places: Corner of the living room, where Ryan looks at the mail sometimes, and inside the front door, under the bench where we keep bags, jackets, items to go, etc. Both places can get junked up pretty quick so I hope this helps. (Also under the bench: a box for shoes and a basket for hats extra bags, etc.)

So I guess these are mostly about having small kids around, but please share all your ideas.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Few Zoo Pics

So I've been inspired by two other blogs to post these photos of a day at the zoo for us. Thank you Jess for taking the pictures--I don't take my camera to the zoo. One more thing to carry and more pictures to feel guilty about not scrapbooking.
Here is Ashton navigating out visit. I think she was just tired and wanted to sit. It was her first full day of walking at the zoo. Consequently, it was my first day of carrying a heavy backpack! Olivia and Jonah inspired this post with their same picture. Navigation must be the hot new thing in childhood.
Here is Reed being encouraged by Lesley to feed the giraffe. That long curly tongue really freaked him out!
And here I am early that morning before my Coke! Ha ha! Funny Jess!

What fun! Our zoo is not FREE like you all in St. Louis, but it is cost effective and great cheap entertainment, once you've bought the family pass with guest and split it between two families! cool!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Poured Out

I know it's been a while since I've posted. Sorry, a lot going on. I've had this on my mind for a while and hopefully I've sharpened my thoughts rather than lost them. (For the record, I have no brain to speak of right now!)

I have felt lately as though I am spent. I know physically I am so falling apart in this pregnancy. I am definitely dragging there. But even beyond that, I have been spent in many areas of my life.

It made me contemplate that cheesy but true preacher illustration about the sponge that must be squeezed out or it will get moldy, or the one about the potter's cup that he fills up to pour out on other creations he is shaping on the potter's wheel. That clicked with me: I have been completely poured out.

But it's not as though I have been doing things in a formally organized ministry. I've just been poured out in everyday life: poured out to my friends, poured out in my family, poured out in potty training (almost literally--I can not tell you how many pans of soaking underwear I have poured out into the laundry).

So this leads me to the drink offering. I have never really understood it and it's place in the sacrifice process. I mean the meat that is offered makes sense because it is used to feed the priests. But the drink offering is simply poured out. Doesn't this seem like a waste?

Yes. I feel a lot of times like what I'm doing is a waste. I mean how many more buckets of underwear water will I pour out before I see results? What good am I when I have no clear answers to offer to those asking? Will I ever be able to say things just once and see immediate action? Will the things I spend hours on each day always be undone within minutes?

At least I know that even in the "waste" there is an offering.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I, Who Am Not a Cryer...(Thoughts on Brett Favre)

I, who am not a cryer, have cried a lot over this Brett Favre situation.

To many (or maybe all) of you this may seem silly. Here is a man who has played football all of his life, who made a decision to retire and then changed his mind.

And really I have wondered why it is such a big deal to me. Is it because as long as I have been a Green Bay Packer fan, there has been a Brett Favre leading the team? Probably at least in part. Is it because I am loyal to a fault? Definitely. Is it because it will damage my fantasy line-up? Probably not.

I think the main reason this has become so personal for me is because it is reminiscent of what my Dad went through, when he was forced to retire earlier than he wanted.

I didn't realize how much this bothered me until I have had to watch Brett go through it in the media.

I have always known that I am deeply moved by stories of a spouse lost in death. Both my parents lost their spouses before they met and had me. But even though that is not a part of my personal family history, it is. I know those people had a part in making my parents who they are today. I have always felt a deep connection to this part of their story.

One story that has always made me cry is when my dad, a few weeks(? months?) after his wife had passed away, went out and laid on her grave and cried. And any story or movie that reminds me of that brings out the tears. When I watched Return to Me, I sobbed through most of the movie.

Now, having seen the treatment of Brett Farve from a team to which he has been so loyal, I have seen that connection to my dad's story again. I have been angry and cried again. My dad was loyal to a company all his working life and when it was sold to out-of-town owners, he was encouraged to move to retirement. I knew at the time (a ninth grader) that this was hurtful, but seeing it happen (through Farve's story) again as an adult, I am more hurt by it personally.

I don't know why people don't honor loyalty. When someone has given all of themselves to a team, or organization, or company, or church, why can they not be given the dignity of making their own choices? Who is it that places themselves above that person to get ahead? I believe those people should be honored EVEN TO THE SLIGHT DETRIMENT of the group.

I am disappointed in the Green Bay Packers. I know there are just a few who are responsible for the management of the organization, and they have lost my trust. I think they have hurt themselves by trying to get ahead. It will take some time and some better choices for me to support these people, and to a point, the team, again.

On the other hand, I commend Brett for his loyalty, even to the end, upholding the dignity of the team and fans of Green Bay. I hope he will make the Jets proud.

Nothing New to Cover the Sun

Looking for curtains for Ashton's room. I am so disappointed. Same ol', same ol'.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Overheard while Cleaning the House for Dinner Guests...

Ashton: Who made your bed?

Reed: Why are you trying to make everything look so fancy?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Random Excitement

These are not in any order or even all on the same level of excitement, but they all bring me joy:

  • Ashton can now not only blow bubbles, but catch them again with the wand and blow them again. Bubble recycling!
  • We've had rain today from the remnants of Dolly. It was such a nice steady rain--unusual in NM. No thunder.
  • We decided to try a different approach to the last half of pregnancy and found out the sex of the baby. (We haven't done that with the other two). It's a boy! But the most exciting result of the ultrasound is that the baby measured 12 days ahead of schedule and that may mean we get to move the due date up to 12/8!
  • My hubby got me a new set of silverware! We have been running out of cereal spoons since a few of our spoons have had a trip to the garbage disposal, and we all use the same size now! So now we have service for 12(!) or three days of cereal for a family of four!
  • I found bing cherries for $.99 a pound at the farmer's market! I snatched them right up!
  • We went swimming yesterday and I got to wear my "new" cute maternity swimsuit! Thank you Stephanie! The kids did great without floaties! Ashton still needs a hand, of course, but I can really see the swim lessons paying off!

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Husband's a Better Homemaker than I

I spent 3 days plus on a ladies' retreat in the beautiful mountains of New Mexico.

My husband was very willing, but also reluctant to let me go. He had never had the kids on his own overnight before, much less three nights and days and with a Sunday morning in the mix. He was really worried about doing Ashton's hair.

So when I got home I found
  • He had Ashton's hair in cute low pigtails.
  • They had not eaten out the entire time I was gone.
  • He ran the dishwasher everyday, finding things around the house to put in it.
  • HE CLEANED THE OVEN! (and the pans under the burners)
  • He did at least two loads of laundry.
  • He finished the landscaping wall in the front yard. (So he did this on top of everything else.)
  • He had the kids clean their room everyday before supper!
I think I can safely plan many more trips on my own.

But I wouldn't want to. I missed them all too much!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Look at Your Profile

Everyone is on a blog hiatus today for some reason. Which is sad for me because I'm needing some outside adult conversation. But it leads me to look at other things on your pages. So I ask you to go to your own pages and check your profile. Some are fine, but some are way outdated!

Oh, and I know I can't complain about taking a break from blogging!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Fun

So I downloaded 294 pictures tonight. I won't share them all with you. The sad thing is there's another card around here somewhere with I think last summers pics. Here are a few of the highlights from this summer. If you've been to Ryan's facebook, this is a repeat for you.

Reed's Big Five Year celebration at the "Sprayground." We had about 20 kids and 30 adults. Ryan got the award for wettest adult. The kids loved that he could jump up and tip the buckets of water on their heads! It was so much fun! (Even for those of us who stayed dry!)
Those trick candles are the best fun at a kid's birthday! And we only gave him one cupcake, so the others stayed dry and germ-free!


Lots of presents, lots of help!Here's most of the crew there! Reed is turned around because Ryan had them say "Reed's a knucklehead!" Ashton is on the left holding the small blue playground ball. She did a lot of running around that night, but not a lot of getting wet. She was a great little sis and didn't get jealous at all. She knows that "my birt-day's in winter" and she is pretty sure she will have it at the same place! Might be hard to get any guests...
Here is where we found Ashton sleeping one morning. She is laying in the hallway between her room and Reed's. Moved sometime between midnight and 7am. She slept later here than she usually does. Notice she has both her blankets, a bear, a drink, her frog, and I believe two "pappys" (pacifiers).

To rotate, turn your computer!

Here is Reed on his first day of swimming lessons. He is standing in the pool! We didn't know he would be in the baby pool, but they said they would move those who need to be moved by the end of the class. Since he stayed, we thought he must be in the right place. After coming home he told us, "One of the teachers asked me if I wanted to go in the big pool, but I told him no." He's too polite! So we worked it out for the next day.Ashton spent the entire time whining "I wanna go swimming." 287 times! This is her looking in from the outside. The class was for 3-5 so I hadn't enrolled her, but there were at least 3 kids younger than her. I can never tell her again that her whining doesn't do any good because...
...I got her in the next day. Since Reed had moved up, they let her move into his spot. I knew it was worth the money not to listen to the whining for 35 minutes and beyond everyday for 2 weeks. And she really is learning. The bad thing is she'll have to be in this class for a couple years before she can move up. And today they went into the big pool! Impressive!
So this is Reed in the big pool on the second day. He did really well and told us we were right-- that he did have more fun in that class. However the next day was cold and windy, AND the heater in the pool was broken! Everyone was miserable! You could tell the lifeguards were not even excited about getting in that day. I had to do a bit of convincing (special treat) to get him back in the next day, but he did (even though the water was still a bit cold).Okay! You've got to love this! They know how to pose!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Struggle

There has been and continues to be an on-going discussion in our home lately. Within a worship service, what is the place of patriotism?

First, let me say we are very proud of our country and those who serve it on a regular basis. We know we have no idea how the sacrifice that has been made for our country. Our freedom should be honored and celebrated! We hope we can pass on an attitude of respect and gratitude to our children, as well as an understanding of what our freedom means. We also recognize the values of our founding fathers were grounded in their faith in GOD! Our country was established under the grace of GOD!

Second, let me also say that through his studies for his Masters, Ryan has become very comfortable with the idea of the role of tradition in worship. Tradition is a relevant tool to point people towards God. This is not just a "contemporary worship" issue.

And, let me say I was not in the service this morning, so I cannot attest to the events firsthand. I was in the nursery.

After a lot of personal struggle, discussion, and study, Ryan shaped a service that highlighted our country, but made God the focus of our worship. The service opened with Ryan leading the congregation (from the back) in an a cappella verse of "God Bless America." One man immediately stood up and the congregation followed. A few minutes later when the praise team began leading in the worship songs, no one stood (except, oddly enough, a guest) for the first verse, until Ryan prompted them to at the chorus. Very disheartening when the people stand to honor our country, but really give no thought to standing to honor God.

So, some of the questions up for discussion are:
  • Is it appropriate to use a Sunday morning worship service to honor someone or something other than God and what he has done for us? (e.g.--"God works through mothers," but should we use Sunday morning to give awards to the mother with the most children; or "Our country needs our prayers," but should we highlight our love of country in a worship service?)
  • How does our view of our country as God's chosen people affect our view of world missions or the universality of Christianity? How would we feel about a similar service in a different country?
  • Where should flags (American & Christian) be placed within a church building? (Not flag etiquette, but as symbols and in relation to the cross.)
  • If a tradition is found to be unhealthy, what role should it play as education is taking place? (i.e.--Should some elements be left in to appease those who cling to the tradition, or if the conviction is strong, should the change be complete immediately.)
  • What do you do if you, as a leader, believe something, but it is not upheld by the leaders around you? If all the leaders do not agree, what do those with the conviction do?
I hope this presents a struggle within you. I look forward to hearing ALL of your comments. If you're reading, again, please comment. But don't quote me any Scripture out of context. I hate that.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Can't Catch a Break

Tonight at supper, Ryan was highlighting some exciting things coming up in the next few days. The semi-pro ball game on July 4th (with a tailgate party by our church beforehand), church on Sunday (which Reed had the same gasp of excitement for), and Reed's swimming lessons beginning on Monday. "And guess who has the day off on Monday?"

"Mommy?!" I asked (jokingly, with only 5% resentment).

"No, Daddy!" Reed laughed.

"When does Mommy get a day off?" Ryan asked.

"Everyday."

Friday, June 27, 2008

That Makes Sense...Somehow

I love it when my kids put something they see into the context of what they understand, even though their thinking is faulty.

When Reed had just turned two we took a group of college kids up to church camp in the mountains. We left after our evening VBS so it was late as we were pulling in. Reed had slept part of the way, but woke up when we slowed down on the mountain roads. A deer ran in front of the van and then leaped the fence right next to us. "Look at the deer!" we all exclaimed. About two minutes later Reed asked, "Why did we see a kangaroo?"

Tonight we had a similar moment with Ashton. As we were driving through a neighborhood we saw a man walking a dog wearing a white cone collar (you know, those post-op or no-scratch collars). Ashton processed for just a moment before she declared, "I saw a dog with a light!" We, of course, laughed hysterically, which only added to her delight. It definitely explains what she saw!

Don't know if the dog had been drinking....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Rumor Mill

Alright.

I need to set some things straight.

Yes, I'm pregnant. Here are the details:

Status: 14.5 weeks

Due Date: December 20th, 2008

Cravings: One middle of the night craving for a dish made by a restaurant that has been closed for a year. More consistently, stewed tomatoes, especially with macaroni and cheese. My mother used to make me eat these with the mac-n-cheese, and I hated them! Weird!

Side Effects: Headaches, varicose vein farther up and down my right leg, round ligament pain mainly on left side, more constant ear stoppage from possible TMJ, and nausea (which has mainly passed).

Planned?: Baby, yes. Timing, no.

Maternity Clothes: Got them out last weekend. What a relief!

Reed's Comments: "Is your belly getting bigger yet?"

Ashton's Comments: "When you go to hospital?"

Ryan's Comments: "I hope it's twins!" (It's not!)

Sara's Comments: "What have we gotten ourselves into?"

God's Comments: "For I know the plans I have for you..." (Glad it's not all up to us!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Excavation Services

For Hire: Team of excavators to help move dirt from your yard.

Methods of excavation include shovels, sticks, rocks, or any toy not meant for digging. For quicker jobs we use a fast-digging dog.

Methods of movement include buckets, shovels, air travel, shoes, and (our favorite) clothing.

We specialize in the making and moving of mud.

Lots of experience! We will not stop till all your dirt is in your house!

Call 1-800-ASH-REED.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Also...

In regards to the house,

Visibly Blown Schedule!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Period of Absence

Yes, I have been away.

Why? you ask.

I have been working on writing our church's VBS.

What is VBS? you ask.

Apparently it's a Veritable Blog Stealer.

Promise to post at a later date.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Wonders of Color Wonders

In order to prepare for our plane ride to Missouri, I made a "briefcase" of projects for the kids.

I gave each child one of those big pocket folders with the 3 sides enclosed and the flap and elastic strap that goes around--I have no idea what they are really called. I had filled these with various papers, stickers, pens, post-its, etc.

However the smartest thing I did was put back the $1 velvet picture/markers for Ashton and invest in the $7 Color Wonder Coloring Book of Disney Princesses.

On the plane, I realized the investment paid off far more than $6-worth peace of mind. She could color and I did not need to hover.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Happy Birthday

1. Slept in till 9:13.

2. Awoke to Darlings serenading me and bringing breakfast in bed (Pillsbury cinnamon rolls). Ryan brought in the little table and we all ate in the room. When clearing out, Ashton said, "You welcome we sing Happy Birthday to you!"

3. Got to shower with the door locked while Darlings went present shopping.

4. Took children to pre-arranged child-care and had lunch with best friend Lesley. What interesting adult conversation we had!!!

5. Got unsatisfying chair massages with Lesley. But then went to get satisfying slushes at Sonic!

6. Came home to the smell of husband baking my childhood birthday cake--Chocolate, Chocolate Chip.

7. Went to favorite restaurant, Flying Star, and had their wonderful macaroni and cheese.

8. Arrived home too full for cake, so we opened presents first: New white sweater (desperate need), cute red coat, new Sharpies of all sizes and colors!!! My Darling knows me so well!

9. Indulged in wonderful cake.

10. Can't remember the rest, possible result of a sugar high. But it was good!

Thanks for the kind words and emails!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thanks for the Advice

So I do thank all of your for your input on the problem. I have taken all you have said to heart and have even used a few of the tips. And I know it's good, but his behavior on the whole has been WAY better. Maybe last weekend was just what we had to navigate to get to this good part. (Last weekend was the first weekend since February that Ryan has been all ours because he was done with his paper.)

My plan of action:

1. Clearly (over)define when to make these noises and when to not make these noises. I fear the latter will be a very short list and may depend a lot on my mood.

2. Duck the neighbors for a while and ignore the sounds when outside. Again I feel like too much of this will depend on my mood.

3. Clap to get his attention rather than yell his name.

4. Try to more often catch him using an appropriate volume and tone.

5. Take him to some loud sporting events.

6. Get the hearing tested at the five-year check up.

7. Buy some earplugs, and perhaps buy stock in the company.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Seeking Advice

Okay! This is an interactive blog. If your read it I expect you to comment at the end. I have a problem and I am seeking advice. I mean it, people!!!!! This is serious.

Here is the Problem: MY SON IS SOOOOO LOUD!

I knew going into parenting that girls talk and boys make noise. I was okay with that. And I have a very verbal son. When he hears a new word, he assimilates it into his vocabulary within the day.

But the Noises! They seriously drive me to the point of insanity sometimes. And I can't just send him outside because we have neighbors six feet on either side of us. I don't even know how to best describe the noises in words. There are screams, high-pitched whoops, and growls. Make all those sounds to yourself for the next five minutes and see if you annoy yourself.

And then when we get to the words, most of these are said in range that communicates to the very hard of hearing. I SAID THE VERY HARD OF HEARING. Do you get the picture? He seems to have no ability to speak in an appropriate volume.

My real concern is for Reed as he grows and gets new friends. Will he drive them away? Already I feel like some of his friends notice his volume and comment on it. He's almost five! Will he grow out of it, or do I need to start addressing it for his own benefit? And, if so, HOW? Most of the times I make it an issue, I have to yell just to get his attention! That seems a little counter productive.

So now it's your turn. Weigh in as a mother of boy, former boy, neighbor of boy, observer of boy, empathetic ear, wise counselor, etc. Please!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

That's Not What I Had in Mind

What I said: "Go play quietly in your room."
What she heard: "Go take everything off of your shelves and dump it on the floor."

What I said: "Somebody let the dog in."
What they heard: "Run to the back door screaming about who gets to let the dog in."

What I said: "No, you may not have a third story before bed."
What he heard: "I am going to sell you to a pack of gypsies."

What I said: "Go wash your hands in the bathroom."
What they heard: "Go fill the sink in the bathroom, add some soap suds, and give yourself a cool hair do."

What I said: "Put this stack of laundry in your drawer."
What he heard: "Take this stack of laundry, unfold it, stuff it in the right drawer, but please under any circumstances, do not close the drawer again."


What I said: "Work together to clean up this mess."
What he heard: "Boss your sister into doing whatever you want her to do, and if she doesn't, threaten to spank her."
What she heard: "Lay on the floor and tell me how tired you are. Also, please run to me screaming if Reed threatens to spank you."


What I said: "Be careful to not get ketchup from your corndog on your shirt."
What she heard: "Use the corndog as a brush, the shirt as a canvas, a this ketchup as your medium, my precious little budding artist!"

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Much Rejoicing

There is much rejoicing in the Nelson household today. Ryan has sent off his paper for final review by his professor. He really looks like a different person today. I'm trying to decide if it's just because he doesn't have computer attached to his hands, or if it's the natural light coming from sources other than the computer screen, or if he truly looks more relaxed. We are hoping the comments that come back this time will mean only minor revisions.

He even woke Reed up last night and told him he was done. This morning after waking me up with the gentle back-rub (he is a very smart boy), Reed's second question (after how long till I can come out of my room?) was, "Did Daddy tell you he was done with his paper?" Reed is glad he is done so he can "just be a Daddy again." We are all glad for that.

One good thing that came out of the last minute rush to finish: Ryan was able to use a line on a telemarketer that you don't get to use very often--"My master's thesis paper is due today, so I really can't take this call." They hung up with no argument!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pictures of Petroglyphs (And Our Family)

So I'm trying to expand my blogging abilities. I'm sorry if you're in my family and have already seen these pics through email. It's still all I have on my computer.

This was a trek that we made on the west side of ABQ when Beth (my sister) & Joe were here. Ryan was working on his paper and could not join us. This is the Petroglyph National Monument.

Reed hiked both up and down without complaining. Ashton made it 3/4's of the way up and then was done. Reed liked seeing all the Pet-ro-cliffs. We had fun hiking with Aunt Beth and Uncle Joe and were glad they were there with extra hands (and also the camera).

The picture to side is us at the top. It was really a short hill, but very rocky and a bit of a challenge to navigate at times.

Friday, April 4, 2008

My Funny Kids

Ashton has been sharing the same Knock-knock joke with us for at least a month and we still think it's pretty funny.

Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Candy fall down.
Candy fall down who?
Monster eat you!!

Reed does not really understand why we think that one's funny when we don't fall down laughing at the ones he makes up. But he has more of a natural ability to crack us up on a regular basis.

Earlier today Ashton had hurt herself and was crying quite a bit. She was clearly in need of Kleenex so I asked Reed to go get one for her. When he looked up and saw her giant need, he said, "Woah! That's as green as a bean!" It was.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Anti-Schedule Schedule

I am not a scheduled person. I don't like feeling like I don't have time for the things that come up because I can't fit them in my schedule. I want my kids to hove lots of free-play-explore-time and be ready to do something new at the drop of a hat (or all the toys in hand at the moment). But realizing that I need a more proactive plan than Scarlett O'Hara's tomorrow-is-another-day plan, I have implemented a new flexible weekly plan of household tasks.

What I like about this is that things get done fairly regularly and I don't have to feel guilty for what is not getting done on that day, because another day is assigned to that task. Now I still do a load a towels or sweep the floor on other days as needed, but if my kitchen floor needs mopping on Monday, I spot clean and do not feel guilty for waiting till Wednesday. And, of course, I still have my daily tasks each day.

Also as a part of this, we have started the kids on Money chores. They have one Money chore per weekday which will earn them a quarter if completed well. (They get a raise at age 5 to 1 dollar!) They have other things they do just because they are a part of the family. These are more the weekly tasks.

Here is the breakdown.

SUNDAY--Do nothing--I mean unless you count getting the kids ready for and to church all by myself, napping/watching NASCAR or football in season, and sponsoring the preschool part of the Children's Choir. Otherwise it is a day of rest.

MONDAY--Straighten/Vacuum (In response to Sunday's non-work)

Kids--Clean bedrooms and vacuum them as needed. (Yes, they pick up their rooms throughout the week, but this is the day we put everything in place.)

TUESDAY--Blog or do some other writing, like in my kids forgotten journals.

Kids--Backyard cleanup--Reed--dootie duty--Ash--Toys
(Reed just did this one for the first time yesterday and was utterly disgusted.)

WEDNESDAY--Clean Kitchen/Mop floor as needed--This is a good day for this because we eat at church on Wed. night and my kitchen can stay fairly clean for a few hours at least. My goals on this day are things like wiping down cabinets or chairs (yuck!), cleaning out the fridge, clearing the clutter from counters, hiding old Sunday School papers in the trash, etc.

Work on a Project from "the list" (i.e.--storing outgrown/out-of-season clothes, cleaning out cabinets, make curtains for Ashton's room, etc.)

Kids--Reed clean his fish tank--Ash--Dust (They haven't tried these yet, we'll see.)

THURSDAY--Laundry--Alternate kids' one week, adult's the next. Way less overwhelming for me.

Grocery shop--This is the beginning of our money week, so it's good to stock up before we blow all the money in our food budget eating out.

Kids--Put away their own laundry. (There is always some of theirs in ours.)

FRIDAY--Clean a bathroom--Since we only really use two this works out well. I have also done things like scrub all the toilets and do nothing else.

Kids--Reed--Take out trash from bathrooms and his room--Ash--Clean Mirror (closet doors in my room) or backyard door windows.

SATURDAY--Blog/Writing again


So that's the current plan! I have been doing it for a month or so and it has helped.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Sadness

I have a sense of sadness creeping into everything I am doing the past few days. I am not sad for myself, but for my friends, the Tolberts. They have sadness permeating every part of them right now.

They lost their baby girl, Norah Rose, at 21 weeks along.

At the first sign of the problem, she had called us to pray and hear of those around us who had experienced similar situations. I tried to offer as much hope as I could without being in denial about the gravity of the situation. I "worried" my prayers that day, praying for the Author of Life to sustain this precious life and Jehovah-Rapha to heal the problem.

I am always a bit offended by the argument that we should not be surprised when God answers our requests in prayer. Who are we to offer a nonchalant "Yeah, I knew he would,"? But what is our response to be when he doesn't?

I know God knows the plans he has for us. And I am very thankful that I DON'T! Praise to our LORD, the Everlasting Father!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Catching Up

Wow! It's good to be back! Sorry to those of you who are better about checking blogs than I am. I have been dying to blog for days, but we have had major computer malfunction in the Nelson household lately. I finally have my computer back, but the hard drive is scrubbed clean. The good news is I didn't lose anything too significant--a few nursery files that I will have to recreate, and a really good blog article that I had worked on (in Word) for quite some time but hadn't felt led to publish yet. I had planned on downloading the pictures from our camera (last summer thru current) while we were on our trip and I'm soooo glad now that I didn't!

So I have several blogs written in my head and hope to have a chance to get them on a screen sometime soon!

So here are a few random thoughts to catch you up!

Ryan is nearing completion of his Master's paper. He has submitted all the chapters, but now has to go back and wrestle with the professor's comments and correct as needed. He was hoping the end was nearer than it is at this point.

I have instituted a new "anti-scheduling schedule" to be more proactive about the piles (and I mean that literally) of work that I have to get through in the week. I will tell you more about that later. One thing to note, it puts blogging/writing in general as a regular part of my week, so maybe I will have more posts.

Reed is the proud papa of a fish named Willie, who happens to be the third fish he has picked out. Third time's the charm. More on this later too. Let's just say we celebrated the fact that Jesus has victory over death first thing Easter morning! And also Easter Monday (in Canada, I think).

Ashton is in her new room--the pink room. We were worried about the transition, but she has adapted quite well. We did have to remove one of the paintings that was hung in there from "my room" at my grandma's house. It seemed to be girlie enough and fit in the room well, but she did not agree. She cried and pointed to it one night after the lights were off and said, "Dat scare me!!" We have removed it to the hallway and all is well. She also has a "new" doll house that we brought back from Ryan's parent's garage that was the first one made but his Grandpa and Grandma Nelson. It is very cool (with retro decor) and both kids love playing with it. Right now we do not have but a few pieces of doll furniture, but they have found that shoes work well for beds! (I did not even make that suggestion!)

Tacoma is loving the warm weather and insists that the back door remain open so he can let himself in and out at will. He has gotten a new collar tag since he chewed up the last one and has been venturing out over the fence and into the neighborhood lately. He is very good to come back and scratch at the front door when he is done. Reed opened it for him one day and said he knew it was him because "a people would knock or ring the bell and not scratch!"

My naptime alarm is going off in the other room. No more peace and quiet for me. That reminds me: Reed asked the other day what peace and quiet was anyway. I told him I was sure I didn't know anymore.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Golden Chicken Nuggets--Recipe Request

So a few of you asked for the nugget recipe from Valentine's Day. This has been a family favorite since I was a girl. My mom made it special for birthday dinners. I guess the recipe came to her from my sister Judy.

Also, I am soooo tired of just heated veggies as a side dish for supper. If you have a great way to "spice up" (really, no pun intended) your vegetable side dishes, please share them with me.

Golden Chicken Nuggets

Cut Chicken breasts (1 per serving or less) in 1" pieces.

Mix:
1 egg
1/2 c water
3/4 t salt
1/2 c flour
2 T. sesame seeds (opt.)
dash of paprika

Heat 2 cups oil in large skillet.

Dip Chicken in batter and place in oil one layer at a time.

Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown. I usually turn mine, depending on the depth of the oil.

Drain on paper towel. Serve as immediately as possible.

Back to Normal

So we are home again. Back to normal. Everyone said towards the end of our trip, "I bet you can't wait to get home and get back to normal!" I have always loved to travel and always get a little sad when we turn homeward. Even with the craziness of being on the road with two small children, I love to travel.

But here we are back to normal. I have to decide what to make for supper again. I have to go grocery shopping again. I am completely in charge of caring for the kids all day by myself again. We came home to a fairly clean home and had it trashed again in less than 24 hours. We have nearly endless options of toys for our dumping delight. My bathroom really needs to be cleaned. The dog is barking in the middle of every wrestling match again.

I think normal is a bit overrated!

However, we do have our own space to spread out in again. We do have our own bedrooms again. We are getting back to normal discipline and routines again. I know normal is good.

Normal is what makes the abnormal so exciting! I sure can't wait for the next trip!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Stay at Grandma's House

So we're on the road. It's been hard for me to blog since my computer isn't online. But we are staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house (Nelson). There are many advantages of staying with family when you are on the road. There are also many disadvantages. Let's explore a few.

Advantage: Grandma has new toys. They are so enthralling -- for two days.
Disavdvantage: Grandma only has two sets of toys. There is only so much you can do with two sets of age-appropriate toys.

Advantage: Grandma and Grandpa will watch the kids for an overnight get-away for Mom and Dad! Despite the ice, we went to the Mansion at Elfindale and stayed in the suite where we had spent our honeymoon night. It was delightful!
Disavantage: Kids are hyped up from abiding by grandma and grandpa rules.

Advantage: Free room and board. We even have a separate room from the kids!
Disadvantage: Kids are sharing a room. On the East side of the house. With an uncovered semi-circle window over the regular window. They haven't slept past 6 any day this week. >:( (If you don't really know me and my kids, Reed gets up at 7:30 and Ashton and I don't rouse before 8--9 if we're lucky.) This makes for very long days, in more ways than one.

Advantage: Grandma has found the entire series of Berenstain Bears books to give to us!
Disadvantage: The Berenstain Bears books are the longest books ever written for preschool age kids! And since my kids are used to two books at bedtime....

All in all I wouldn't trade it for the world! I know this time with Grandma and Grandpa is precious. Later this week we will be moving to my parent's house. Things there will be just as good and bad. But also very precious. What a blessing!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Perfect Valentine's Day

Since Ryan and I will be celebrating Valentine's Day next week (when we have free child care), we decided to make today a family affair. So I decided to go all out and give the kids a Valentine's party. Now before you get all impressed, I only invited one other family (my friend and her two daughters whose age match my kids) and I have never thrown either of my kids a birthday party to this degree. And I guess I missed my teaching days.


We started by making our own pizzas with heart-shaped pepperonis and then cut sugar cookies from already-made dough. (While the cookie dough was very good itself, the cookies were a disaster at almost every point, although the kids didn't seem to notice!) Later we had crafts: lacing hearts with red ribbon, gluing hearts around the paper plate to make a heart wreath, and gluing your name on the heart (like the conversation heart candies) for the older ones. All the kids seemed to have fun, although when it came to the conversation name heart, Reed said with a cheerful attitude, “That's not really fun, but I'll do it anyway.”


Tonight we cooked a fancy dinner at home. Grandma Pat's famous golden chicken nuggets, baked potatoes, individual sweet potato casseroles, stir-fried ginger pea-pods, and pudding with cookie crumbs (from above failed cookie attempt) for dessert. Reed was impressed that I could make chicken nuggets that taste good! And for the peas I got the thumbs-up from Reed and the index-fingers-up from Ashton! We even ate on the china and (two of us) used the crystal glasses! (Granted: while making all this, I actually said to the kids, “Mommy is trying to make a special dinner for you and all you're doing is screaming at each other! Go to your rooms!”)


It was a pretty perfect day!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Two things I wasn't ready for

If you were around when Reed was a baby, you know that I dug in my heels when it came to him growing up. I didn't let anyone mention his impending first birthday, and I put off the first haircut as long as I possibly could. I realized later (when dressing Ashton) that I had even kept him in clothes longer than I should have, just because he was that age and still supposed to be that size!


When Ashton came along I realized that time would slip by, but I could celebrate the milestones of growth rather than dread them. I have gotten into a rhythm of enjoying life and seeing how she grows as a person each day. That rhythm was disrupted last week.


Ashton has been hinting for some time that she might be ready for potty training—going every time she was on the toilet, insisting I change a wet diaper, and even trying to use the bathroom on her own. I, on the other hand, am not ready for this. I know why children used to be potty trained so much earlier. What is the difference between washing cloth diapers and washing underwear? Nothing. Now there's a big difference!


So I broke down and got the pull ups—little pain, little gain. Since she has donned the pull ups, which she is very proud of, she has not made one attempt to go on her own and keeps them dry for about 10 minutes. So I guess this is good news. Neither of us is ready for potty training. This was not so hard on me.


The other thing we did last week was try out the big bed. We have had a double bed in her room since Christmas. Ryan suggested we try it for nap, so we did and she did great. I laid her down and closed the door: she immediately followed me out. I simply took her back and encouraged her, “If you get up again, I will put you in the crib.” She did not get up again and napped well.


That night I said we would go back to the crib for night time. She pointed and said, ”No, big bed.” She is a very insistent little thinker. It is hard to dissuade her from her plan. She got in the big bed and did not get up at all.


When I went back to check on her that night, I was suddenly overwhelmed. I remembered when we first moved her to her crib. We would lay her down perpendicular to the bed. We set the baby monitor camera about a foot away from her so her sweet wondering face filled the entire TV screen.


I am not really a cry-er—Ryan cries at the Extreme Home Makeover, not me. But I sure cried then and there. I had to come out and explain to my alarmed husband that it was really nothing. Everything was okay It was just time that was lost.


The good news is that I can now lean over and kiss her while she sleeps. It's been about 2 years since that has been possible without a gymnastic feat. And she can sleep perpendicular in the bed again.