Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thank you, God, for fruit snacks

I just HAD to document this one...

Tonight at bedtime, Owen and I were saying prayers, which went a little something like this:

Me: "Thank you, God, for Mommy, and thank you for Daddy, and thank you for Kinnick, and for Grandma and Papa. Is there anything else you want to thank God for, Owen?"
Owen: "Rachel."
Me: "Ok, thank you, God, for Rachel. Anything else?"
Owen: "Jackie."
Me: "Thank you, God, for Jackie. What else are you thankful for?"
Owen: "Jeff."
Me: "Thank you, God, for Jeff. What else?"
Owen: "House."
Me: "Oh, good one! Yes, thank you, God, for our house. Anything else?"
Owen: "Fruit snacks."
Me (chuckling): "Oh, yes. Thank you, God, for fruit snacks."

Gotta love him!

Final Basement Update

So, here it is...our, essentially, finished basement (although it's hard for me to ever consider any room in our house "finished" since there are always more ideas that I hope to implement someday). The following photos, however, will officially conclude the basement updates on this blog, though I hope to document some of the little projects we work on down there as we get to them.

View of the main family/TV room from the bottom of the stairs. I'm not
sure if I've ever mentioned how crazy huge that screen is (or how I was
NOT expecting anything that big when we set out on this project), but
how awesome it is to watch movies on!

Opposite view of the same room. It's quite cozy — now that we hung
some things on the walls — for such a large room.

Including this fun little gem — Ryan's autographed
guitar. Autographed by whom, you ask?

Why, Sir Paul McCartney, of course!

Another collage wall, of sorts, this one sports some of Ryan's favorite
albums, framed and symmetrically displayed.

And since this is Ryan's "man cave," (though I kind of
despise that term) he got to do some additional
decorating, including this shelf of Hawkeye

Here's a view of the kitchenette area opposite the family room. That
massive sea of red (i.e., the rug, chairs, and [hidden under a tablecloth]
table) are kind of just temporary place holders for now. It's all stuff
we had from our previous home that doesn't necessarily go with the
new look of this house, but we decided to make use of it for the time
being until we come up with something better. (More on that to come...)

Another view of the kitchenette. And, of course, a refrigerator is supposed
to fit in that nook to the left of the cabinets, but alas, that's for another
time (when our wallets allow it).

Bathroom, and finally a fairly accurate view of the wall
color, as opposed to the really yellowish tint that
usually shows up in photos of this room.

Ah, there it is. That yucky yellowish tint.

Can you spot me in this picture? (See the little elbow in the mirror?
That's me standing in the shower to get this shot.)

View of both main rooms from just outside the bathroom.

The extra bedroom, which hasn't changed at all really. We have no spare
bedroom furniture at the moment, so until we do, this room will
probably stay just like this. Owen enjoys riding his tricycle around the
big empty space, in the meantime.

Opposite view of the bedroom.

The toy room (in all it's messy, played-in glory!) We hope to get some fun
art on the walls in here soon, along with some shelving or other means of

View from inside the toy room, looking out.

Another view of the toy room, showing the french doors outside. The
office door is just to the right.

The office, still quite unfinished. Eventually, there will be some shelving
for storage and things will get spruced up a bit.

Now, regarding those chairs and table seen above, that is an example of one of the projects I hope to complete soon and share on this blog. I already bought the spray paint to refinish all the metal legs. And I picked up this fabric to reupholster the chairs. It's mostly gray, but with a bit of red, to tie in the rug that will probably stay for a while.

This table top MUST get painted, if it's going to stay. This was one of the very first DIY projects I ever did some 8 or 9 years ago and I am no longer proud to display it. I'm not entirely sure yet what I will do with it, but rest assured it will be much more subdued that this crazy red mess!

Anyway, more on that later. For now, that's about it for our basement remodel. We've put a fork in it's done!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Modern Marvels (the Mommy Edition)

Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback on yesterday's post. It seems I touched a nerve that other mothers can relate to, though I did not set out to spark any sort of controversy. I only really intended to comment on how I could get so excited about some small achievement to then turn around (only about an hour later) and be so let down by a small set-back (hence the title, "highs and lows"). But then I just started rambling on about all my personal fears and insecurities and, in hindsight, maybe should have deleted it all, but opted to go ahead and post it. Whatev. My life is an open book.

However, I would like to recognize that Owen specifically requested to color this afternoon, so I happily obliged. He did a pretty good job, too, although while I wasn't looking, this happened.

It got me thinking..."What in the world did our mothers do before the invention of this guy?"

Mr. Clean, you and your Magic Eraser are my heroes!

Here's the (admittedly less than mind-blowing) "after" shot.

And while I'm on the subject, I also recently asked myself how in the world I ever managed my entire adult life without a handheld vacuum??? I received one from Ryan for Mother's Day (wait, wait, don't boo...I requested it!), but hadn't even taken it out of the package until a week or so ago. (I wasn't sure if I really wanted to keep it or not. Yeah, I'm a hem-hawer like that.) Anyway, I charged that baby up and 24-hours later, I'm spot cleaning like a champ! Graham cracker crumbs in the car seat? No problem. Cheerios in the high chair? Check. Sand tracked in from outside? Got it!

I am in love!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Highs and Lows

Much like Midwestern seasonal weather extremes (can I get an "enough already!" to this oppressive heat and humidity?), my days with a toddler come loaded with some high highs and some low lows.

Take this morning, for example.

Wait, let me back up a bit. During Owen's 2-year doctor visit a couple weeks ago, I expressed some concern that he seemed to show zero interest in participating in any activities that required him to sit still and concentrate for any length of time — like coloring and doing puzzles. I'm pretty sure the doc responded with something to the effect of "some kids are more physical, some are more intellectual." As disappointed as I was in the thought that my little guy is not as "intellectual" as I think he should be, I accepted the fact that all kids develop at different stages and he will eventually get to the puzzle stage.

(Side note: I have a very bad habit of comparing Owen to other children within his same general age range, which always results in me feeling frustrated and concerned. I need to remind myself [a lot!] that he is unique — which is not the same thing as deficient — and to just cool it and be patient!)

Anyway, back to this morning... We had a little time to kill before we needed to leave for our morning activity (more on that below), so I took the opportunity to just sit down on the floor with him and read a couple Dr. Suess books (my favorites!) After a couple of stories, he pulled out a wooden puzzle that happens to be mixed in among his books, so I dug around in the book drawer and took out all six corresponding puzzle pieces. I set them all face up and then, one by one, I asked him where each one fit (it was pretty simple to figure out because an identical picture of the puzzle piece was visible in each of the open spots).

He correctly pointed out each one and then — low and behold! — he fit each one in its proper place! I made a VERY big deal each time he got one right (think loud cheering, high fives, and lots of "great jobs!") I tried to get him to complete it a second time, but he was more interested in clapping the wooden puzzle pieces together, so I took that as my cue to just quit while I was ahead. Anyway, I was so thrilled with the progress he made!

Then it was time to leave for our morning outing — Toddler Games at the YMCA. The description for this class, designed for kids aged 18 months – 3 years, said: "This is a chance for something new each week. Activities may include Kickball,  Simon Says, Parachute Games,  and many more fun games." That sounds like something he would really enjoy!

I was a little hesitant to sign him up (and pay for) the full 5-week session, though, because, well, let's just say that Owen does not exactly enjoy going to the Y. We actually hadn't been there since this past winter when we stopped going because he would have a major fit every time we left him in the nursery. Now that he's older and some time has passed, I thought it might be OK to try it out again a couple days ago, but again, he had a major meltdown (I'm talking, red in the face, snot out the nose, screaming as if he were terrified!), so we ended up leaving only 9 short minutes after checking him in. Bleh.

Anyway, back to the Toddler Games. In this class, the parents stay in the room — although we are not supposed to play with the kids, we're just there to watch — so I thought he might do OK. Yeah, not so much. He clung to me with all his might and refused to even look at, let alone go with, the instructors. The 30-minute class consisted of the kids walking/running around the track (I had to hold O's hand and practically drag him), followed by a simple golf lesson where each child took turns hitting a golf ball off a tee with little plastic clubs (O enjoyed swinging and banging his club onto the floor and walls much more than allowing the instructors to help him actually hit the ball), and finally another lap around the track (this time Owen actually started to run with one of the leaders, but as soon as he looked behind him and saw that I wasn't with him, he turned around and ran back toward me.)

So much for my proud moment of only an hour or so before that. Hmmmph.

I should mention that Owen did appear to be the youngest child in the class, although the next in age was only a couple months older, and the class is supposed to be designed for kids even younger than him! Regardless, it is frustrating when yours is the only kid in the group who just doesn't seem to "get" it. And this is not the first time I've felt this way.

So, here it is: I worry that he's developing at a slower pace than other children his age. And yes, I do worry about what the other parents are thinking (I'm not proud of that, but I'm being honest here). I try not to do either of those things. I try to just let him be. I try to believe that he is perfectly normal and will grow up just fine. I try to trust in God, who loves him even more than I do.

But today, I'm struggling. I want him to be healthy. I want him to be good. I want him to be "normal." I'm hopeful that he is/will be. But I still worry that he won't.

Whew. This post turned into a bit more of a mother's confession of worry/guilt/doubt/fear than what I originally set out for it to be. But I think I'll publish it anyway — for the sake of documenting this crazy journey I'm on, if nothing else.

In the meantime, here's a couple cute shots of Owen at the local firehouse yesterday.

Holding hands and giggling up a storm with his buddy Evie.

Sitting in the firetruck. He would not allow the fireman on the other side
to help him out. Instead he cried, and ran to me.

One thing I am thankful for is that I am Owen's safe place. He has a safe place. And it is me. That, despite everything else, is such a blessing for which I am eternally grateful!

Monday, July 25, 2011

2nd birthday party deets (only 2 weeks late)

Ok, so it's been two full weeks (+ one day) since Owen's birthday party and I still haven't posted any details (do you like my abbreviation in the title, "deets"?) on the special day. To be fair, I only just received the pictures that my photog sissy took a few days ago and, well, I've just been busy. Anyway, enough excuses apologies...let's get started.

Let's begin with the invitations. Wait, let me back up for a sec and start with the theme. I tossed around a few ideas, including a Yo Gabba Gabba theme, but then I stopped to consider what it was that my nearly two-year-old son really loved the most in this world. And, although I'd love to think that it's his Mommy and Daddy (which it probably is, of course), I had to be honest and admit that his genuine affinity for cookies far outweighed that of any other toy/TV show/food that I could imagine. And so it was, a cookie-themed birthday party was set into motion.

Now, for the invitations, I had seen this picture on Pinterest and thought that it would make a really cute party invitation, so I asked my aforementioned sister to take an appropriate photo of Owen eating a cookie and here's the one (of several great shots!) that I liked the best.

After Jackie did some fun editing effects to it, and I added in the wording, it ended up looking like this on the front...

It's a little hard to read the text, but it says, "OWEN: AGE 2, likes 
singing, Wheel of Fortune, Elmo, Yo Gabba Gabba!, tape measures, 
Herky ("she-she"), vacuums, spelling; but he loves..."

...and this on the back.

Personal information blacked out for use on the Interwebs.

I even mounted the invitation deets (is it catching on yet?) onto some craft paper I had on hand that mimicked the wood grain in the fence posts behind Owen in the photo (although it probably went unnoticed by everyone but me.)

Next, I was faced with exactly how to implement a cookie-themed birthday party. One thing I knew for sure was that there needed to be lots, and lots, and lots of cookies on hand. So, I started baking. I baked at least one batch of all different kinds of cookies a week for several weeks leading up to the party and kept them all in my (much too tiny) freezer. Although there were two more kinds that I would have liked to have made, namely biscotti (see this previous post) and iced molasses cookies (using this recipe), time and other factors (stay with me...) prevented that from happening. In the end, I ended up with the following:

  • Chocolate chunk (using the standard Nestle Tollhouse recipe on the back of the bag of chunks.)
  • Twix bar (using this recipe, which were AWESOME! I highly recommend.)
  • Peanut butter (using a recipe from my personal Betty Crocker cookbook.)
  • Macaroons (using a recipe from the same BC cookbook. You can also see these featured in this previous post. They're pretty delish. If you'd like the recipe, let me know and I can send it to you separately.)
  • Sugar (which were not homemade at all; I used a tube of Pillsbury pre-made dough and just added sprinkles.)

And of the store-bought variety:

  • Oreos (my personal favorite, although O doesn't actually care for them.)
  • Pirouettes (those long, rolled, creme-filled Pepperidge Farm goodies in the canister.)
  • Pizzelle (which are a thin, waffle-shaped, wafer-like cookie from Italy that I grew up eating as a kid.)

And that ended up being more than enough.

So, the party was all set for the day before O's actual birthday, Saturday, July 9. However, the Thursday night before that, at about 7:30 p.m. (just about O's bedtime), he got hit HARD with some kind of nasty flu bug and managed to whimper, "tubby huwt" once or twice before he vomited all over himself and me. I had just gotten him into his jammies so I hollered for Ryan to come help and we got him cleaned up and into fresh jammies. It's at this point that I lose track of all the specific details (wait, deets), which included one or two more clothing changes, a bath, and several more vomiting spells. Ryan and I spent the next hour or so tag teaming between consoling poor Owen who had NO idea what was happening to him and just felt awful, and cleaning up puke off the carpet, furniture, clothing, ourselves, etc. Yeah, not fun. He was running a fever (I think it made it up as high as 103 at some point) and was exhausted, but we finally got him to sleep and, much to my surprise, he slept through the night just fine. In fact, he never vomited again after that. But his fever persisted, and so the next day, after waiting and watching, I decided to just call everybody and cancel the party for Saturday.

In the meantime, I must have picked up some version of what Owen had because, although I never threw up (thankfully!), I started to run a fever too, rendering myself useless for further cookie baking (hence no molasses cookies) or housecleaning. BUT, I felt awful about not giving my son at least some semblance of a party for his birthday, and since he was doing much better by Saturday (me, not so much, but I'm pretty tough), I called everyone back and reinstated the party for the same time the following day (Sunday). Fortunately, all but a few guests were able to make it (it actually even worked out better for some people) and the party went on...

I'm getting really wordy, so I'll just finish up this post with a few sweet photos from the day and some limited commentary. Sorry for all the puke-talk above. But go ahead and feast your eyes on this!

The cookie buffet.

Pizzelle, stacked nice and pretty.

Mmmmm...macaroons! The surprise cookie

Twix bar cookies. Make these. You will not
regret it.

Take-home bags.

My sweet and beautiful mom (seriously, isn't she
gorgeous?) washing dishes pre-party for me.
She's, literally, the BEST!

Ryan enjoying some pre-party down time while
Owen napped.
Oh, I forgot to mention the "cake." I opted for these Cookie Monster
cupcakes. (Got the idea here on Pinterest.) Aren't they adorable?

Little monsters.

Owen was so excited to see all his favorite people
(including Grandma Peterson) in his house when
he woke up from his nap. And they were all there
to see HIM!

Me and my beautiful sisters - Jackie (left) and Rachel (right). LOVE them!

Owen enjoying a post-nap snack.

Let the present-opening begin! Older cousins Grant and Luke were right
there to lend their assistance.

The boom box that I got him that I thought for sure he was going to
LOVE! To date, he's maybe played with it once?? Shows what I know.

Radio Flyer tricycle from G'parents Betts. What
a big boy!

Getting a little frustrated by all the "help" he was receiving. I think he just
wanted to play with his new toys!

Loving his Pillow Pet panda!

Hmmmm...what's this one?

The basketball hoop that I couldn't WAIT to
give him! I think Daddy may actually like
playing with it even more than Owen. Strike
that, I know he does!

O definitely likes to cuddle. Here he is, loving on
his new zebra. Kinnick had to be sure to inspect it
first to make sure it wasn't supposed to be for him.
Sorry, K. Better luck next time.

Two candles for the birthday boy!

He dove right into the cookie "mouth" first.
told you he loved cookies!

This was pretty much the extent of his cupcake eating. It was around this
point that he just flung the rest of it on the floor. "What's this cake
business? Give me more COOKIES!"