Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jackson's Growing Vocabulary

A while ago I was starting to worry that maybe Jackson was going to be a late talker. He seemed to have the concept there and had said or repeated quite a few words once or twice, but the only words he seemed to say on a regular basis were "mama," "dada," "nana" or "baba."

In the past couple of weeks his vocabulary has started to take off. A few weeks ago he said his first two-syllable word: raisin. Since then (at least when he gets the desire- there is no possible way to induce him to do it on command) he will repeat it proudly over and over ("ray-sin, ray-sin"), beaming like he just invented the wheel. Since we've been at Grandma's house for a couple weeks, he's added "ga-ma" and "dog" to his repertoire of words. He has also been caught saying "cheese," "shoe," "oje" (orange), and his latest... "water." He has said milk a couple of times, but he finds it much easier at Grandma's house to just open the fridge, get out the milk carton and bring it to you when he wants some (Grandma's fridge is much easier to open than ours and she keeps her milk lower on the door).

It is still -even on my third child- so fun to see them grow up and learn how to interact with the world. It is amazing to see how quickly they grow and figure out how to do things-- and so cute to see how proud they are of themselves when they figure something out.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Off to Grandma's House We Go

I mentioned that our drive to California was mostly uneventful- although I did discover that Dairy Queen is really quite yummy -especially compared to McD's. Their hamburgers were grilled and they even had fry sauce for the fries. Yum!

Jared and Camryn are pretty seasoned travelers, but even Jackson did pretty well in the car this time around. About halfway through our drive the kids were getting restless, so we stopped at a McDonald's for a break. We got ice cream cones and let the kids play at the Play Place so they could get some energy out. Jackson had a ball (with Jared and Camryn's help).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Scrub a Dub Dub

I will often take Jackson in the shower with me in the morning. He likes to play in the water and is one of the few options available to me if I don't get showered before Dave leaves for work (which is almost never). It is a heck of a lot safer than leaving him to his own devices, even if I keep him shut in the bathroom with me.

One morning I was trying to get something done, so I asked Dave to just let Jackson go in the shower with him. I promised he would just play in the water and have fun. Apparently Jackson was a bit over-eager to get in.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sunny Sunday

Recently we had a Sunday with absolutely gorgeous weather. The two older kids love walking on the small brick wall that goes next to the church steps. Jackson saw them and couldn't rest until he was a "big kid" too.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On the "Farm"

Some good friends of ours live in the "country" just outside the city limits of our town. They have 5 acres, complete with two goats. In the summer we spend a lot of our time over there, as it is pretty much heaven-on-earth for kids.

Their next-door neighbors (our mutual friends) recently got some baby chicks. Here are some pictures of the kids playing at our favorite "country" getaway. =]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Four Things

I know this is REALLY old and has been going around for a while, but I wanted to do it anyway. (Have I done this before? Who knows. Oh well.)

Four Things:

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life:
1. Setting up a stamp booth at a convention center
2. Business Process Analyst/Technical Writer
3. Receptionist
4. Vocal Master Class Accompanist (you show up, music is put in front of you for the first time, you perform it with the singer on the spot)

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
1. A&E Pride and Prejudice (or Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson or the BBC version of Persuasion... pretty much anything Jane Austen!)
2. How to Marry a Millionaire (always makes me laugh out loud)
3. Thoroughly Modern Millie (off-the-wall humor that gets me laughing every time-- "I never read Tom Sawyer....")
4. Hitch (the opening monologue is such so classic: Is there any woman who wakes up and says, "I really don't want to get swept off my feet today?")
(Can I add: Roman Holiday, The Bourne series, Singing in the Rain, Calamity Jane. It's only funny to have so many because I don't think I've watched any of these movies in the last year.)

Four TV Shows I Watch: (I don't usually watch TV much except for the first two...)
1. American Idol (original, huh?)
2. 24 (I know it's violent, but I'm addicted)
3. The Office
4. 30 Rock

Four Places I've Been on Vacation:
1. Kauai, Hawaii
2. Boston/Virginia/East Coast American History Sites
3. NYC
4. Stone Mountain, Georgia

Four Places I've Lived:
1. Detroit, Michigan
2. Provo, Utah
3. Palo Alto, California
4. Current location (in Pacific Northwest)

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
1. Asleep (then why don't I just go to sleep instead of doing this quiz?)
2. With Dave
3. Relaxing at the beach or spa
4. On a trip to Europe

Four of My Favorite Foods:
1. Cheese (brie, havarti, muenster, feta, blue, gruyere)
2. Avocados
3. Creme Brulee
4. Grilled Vegetables

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
1. Gmail
2. Facebook
3. Blogger
4. um.... I'm really not that creative, am I?

Four People I Am Tagging:
1. Dorothea
2. Kathy
3. LCM
4. Rebecca

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jackson's Wildest Dream

A while ago I was making Jackson a bottle before bed. I must have been sleepy, because I started screwing the wrong lid on the wrong bottle. When I looked at it, it made me laugh out loud, because if it actually worked it would be Jackson's wildest dream... here's to dreaming.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our New and Fabulous Front Yard

Here are some pictures of our new front yard after I finished my huge planting project. In the process of planting a tree in the corner, Dave and I broke a sprinkler pipe (which took a while for Dave to get repaired), so in this picture the lawn is getting really scruffy from not getting watered for a while- on top of the general abuse it took from all of the digging and renovation going on. I also still need to do the edging around the grass, but you can at least get the general idea.

But enough excuses- I'm still really proud of myself for completing the project- while I was pregnant, no less, and before I left on my trip. [Pat self on back.] =)



Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pictures of Camryn's Garden Birthday Party

Here are some fun pix from Camryn's garden birthday party that I threw for her, inspired by the plan she drew up. We ate snacks, decorated visors, made tissue-paper flowers, planted seeds in tiny pots-- and had cake and ice cream of course. We usually make a special decorated cake, but she requested an angel food cake with berries and whipped cream, so the cake pictures aren't too exciting. It was fun and much more smooth than last's year's princess party (with 12 four and five-year-old girls). I guess maybe I am learning something as I go (like don't throw a party for 12 kids if you value your sanity). =]

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bon Voyage

I have been in California for almost one week now. My mom figures that for family visiting trips it takes about a week to show up, unpack, get settled and do projects before you are ready to actually go out and do anything (unless you count going out to lunch). =] True to form, we have spent this week shopping for maternity clothes and making a formal to take on the cruise. When I get back from Seattle/Alaska, we plan on actually taking the kids to the beach, and going to do some fun outings.

Meanwhile, I'm realizing that I really am quite pregnant- and out of shape to boot. Pushing Jackson around the mall in his stroller for a couple of hours (granted, he is over 30 pounds...) feels like a full-fledged workout. Yeah... I guess that means I'm not exactly in top shape. The one exception is my arms, which are plenty toned from toting 30-lb. Jackson around. I always find it a little funny when people say I shouldn't be lifting stuff while I'm pregnant. While I think it is very thoughtful, most things I try to lift aren't nearly as heavy as Jackson, who gets carried around, pulled out of trouble and put in or taken out of his carseat or stroller all day long. To truly avoid any heavy lifting, I'd have to have a nanny. But I digress...

Tomorrow morning I fly to Seattle, where I will meet Dave to leave on our cruise. We will get to enjoy (that doesn't seem quite strong enough of a word... maybe savor?) a full 7 days without the kids. As much as I love my kids, I'm thrilled for the break (Thanks mom! I know your house will recover eventually...), for the chance to sleep in, for the trip and especially the time with Dave, minus cell phone calls, tele-conferences and work emails. Now if I can only avoid gaining 15 pounds while on the cruise, all will be well. =]

I will be "at sea" for the next week so I will be pretty much off-line. But, just in case you can't live without my posts for an entire week (ha ha), as a going-away present I have set up some catch-up stuff to post each day that I am gone. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If you don't have a ladder, just improvise...

Yesterday I wasn't paying very much attention to Jackson while dinner was cooking (always a bad idea...). My little adventurer opened the door to Grandma's oven (which luckily was not turned on at the time) and stood on top of the open door like a step stool. When I found him, he was holding a spatula, reaching for the pan on the stove, trying to stir the chicken that was cooking. On the positive side, what a great display of ingenuity. On the negative side, if that boy makes it to age 2 in one piece, it will be a miracle.... (By the way, in case you were worried, this picture was taken today when he repeated the same feat, minus the hot pan of chicken.)

Ice Skating Class

Jared and Camryn recently took ice skating lessons from Feb-May. They had a great time skating and Jackson had a great time wandering around the lobby trying to figure out how to play the video games. Here are some pix of Camryn skating with one of ther friends and Jackson amusing himself.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dressing Up

I haven't posted for a few days, so I guess I'm trying to make up for it by doing a bunch of posts all at once.

The kids and I are here on our extended California trip for a reason: Dave and I are leaving on Saturday to go on a cruise to Alaska. Mom is going to watch the kids here and I will fly up to Seattle to meet Dave. After the cruise, I will fly back here to visit until 4th of July, at which point Dave will join up again with us and we will drive home (at least that's the current plan).

It's funny, because while seeing Alaska has always sounded fun, it hasn't exactly been top on my "must visit destinations" list. But, we found an amazing deal on the cruise, we wanted to find an excuse to get a trip without kids before the new baby comes, and the idea of a no-planning, everything-included vacation sounded perfect, so we just decided to go for it.

The cruise has two "formal nights," which would be really fun except that I don't really have any formals. This is further complicated by the fact that I am pregnant. Is there really such a thing as a flattering maternity formal? Um, unless it fits perfectly... big bump + glitz and fabric= sparkly elephant tent. You add to this that I'm trying to find a relatively modest formal (sleeves, please?) and I don't want to spend a bunch (nordstrom.com has beautiful ones for half the price of my cruise ticket but that kinda defeats the purpose) and that really leaves me with few options.

I had pretty much admitted defeat-- I would have to try to dress up my plain black maternity dress with some glitzy jewelry. But my mom insisted that this was just not right-- you have to have a formal for formal night. Luckily for me, my mother is not just opinionated: she is also an amazing seamstress and can make almost anything with a picture to copy. So she is designing and making me a maternity formal for the cruise. This is after we found a great dressy little black dress (that still fits and looks decent over my bump) for an amazing deal and she added sleeves to it.

My inherited sewing talent tops out at making pajamas, but hey, if you aren't blessed with a talent you can always appreciate it in others, right? =]

Curves Ahead...

We made it to California on Saturday in a mostly uneventful drive. The kids and I have settled in at Grandma and Grandpa's house and Dave flew back home on Monday night.

Since we arrived, my mom and I have been entertaining ourselves by shopping. (This would be a much better form of entertainment if I hadn't blown a big chunk of my monthly budget on plants for the yard.) I am finally outgrowing the last of my "bigger" regular clothes and need maternity clothes all around. I got out my box of maternity clothes before I left for CA and got back a few things that I had lent out. To my horror, a lot of my maternity clothes from my last pregnancy are already tight and don't stand a prayer of lasting the whole pregnancy. And this is even though I only gained 1 pound last month!

I know it is pointless to obsess about your weight while you are pregnant. I also know that getting bigger around the middle while you are pregnant is pretty much inevitable. But excuse me for a moment while I moan, "Why me? I don't want to be fat!" OK, I know it being pregnant is different than just gaining weight. It is a localized bump, not an all around broadening (at least in theory...) and it looks cute. Right? Right??? Well, unfortunately I don't really feel cute, just big. I feel bigger now than I did at the end of my last pregnancy and I'm only 5 months along. I'm really hoping that I just have an overactive imagination and not an overactive appetite.

So, to remedy the situation, my mom and I have been shopping for new maternity clothes that are cute and fit me well (instead of looking like my tummy is about to pop through at any moment). We have found some cute things and this has helped, but dangit I still just feel big. I know... I did this same thing the last time I was pregnant and I just need to accept it and not be self-conscious about it. Big can be beautiful, big can be beautiful, I love my curves, Round and Proud, Round and proud....

Twenty Questions

As we left for California, about 5 minutes into our trip Jared and Camryn were complaining that they were bored. We have a portable DVD player, but I refuse to plug them in the second we get in the car. Dave suggested we play 20 Questions to try to get some non-screen time.

"When it's your turn, think of a thing and then everyone else will ask 20 Questions to try to figure out what it is." Sounds simple enough. Jared went first.

Me: Is it alive? "No"
Dave: Does it run on electricity? "Yes"
Camryn: Is it your backpack? ---"Camryn," Dave said, "you're supposed to ask questions ABOUT the thing to help you figure out what it is. Don't just guess right away. Ask something to help you figure out how big it is.

Camryn: How big is it?
-- Dave: "No, Camryn, it has to be a yes or no question. Ask a question like this: Is it bigger than the cooler?" "Yes"
Camryn (interrupting): Is it my Webkinz? "No"

Me: Is it inside the car? "No"
Camryn: Is it Jackson?

Maybe we should have just had them watch a movie....

Postscript to "Workin' It"

Believe it or not, I did finish planting the front yard before we left for California. I started to tally up how many plants I dug holes for and planted (or transplanted) and I think it was close to 50. Quite shocking, especially because our front yard isn't even that big. And at least 6 or 7 of them were some pretty size-able ones. Did I mention I broke a shovel? =] OK, fine. I'll stop patting myself on the back for my pregnant feats of muscle power and move on with this post.

I did eventually get ready for our trip, including house-cleaning, vacuuming out our minivan (a.k.a unearthing a french-fry burial site) and getting the oil changed on the car. And... I would like you to take a moment of silence to acknowledge that I had- I kid you not- all the bathrooms in my house clean AT THE SAME TIME. [moment of awed silence]

Now I will try to ignore the fact that despite my hard-working days of trip preparation we STILL left at 10:00 am instead of 6:00 am, had dirty dishes in the sink, and by the time we left I was fighting off tears of frustration at how impossible it is to pack up, clean up and mobilize a house of five people. You can't win them all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Workin' It

Today I planted a bunch of plants in our front yard. I am in a race against time to see if I can finish planting the front yard before we leave for California on Saturday. Do you think I can do it? (Or the bigger question: can I do it and still get all of my bathrooms clean before I leave?) Should I really have bought the last 7 plants today that I need to finish the landscape plan? (Please don't answer that.)

Today I also removed three big bushes and broke a shovel in half in the process. It was even our "good shovel" (not the one that the handle bends if you push too hard). Doesn't that make me sound burly and strong-- especially for a pregnant lady? =] "Yeah, I was out working the yard pulling out a couple of bushes and our flimsy shovel just broke in half... they just don't make them the way they used to."

So maybe our shovel was getting old and on its last leg... maybe I was trying to use it as leverage to get the roots to budge... but I wouldn't want to spoil a great story for the sake of a few details =].

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's a Girl!!!

I had my ultrasound on Thursday and we found out that we are having a girl! Camryn is absolutely thrilled that she will no longer be outnumbered. =] It was very clear from the beginning of the ultrasound that this was a female baby- and she was not afraid to show it.

In other good news, every thing on the ultrasound was perfectly normal and healthy (no false alarms or worries like Jackson's ultrasound...). They also confirmed the due date of October 21st. We are really excited!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pumping Iron... I mean, Basalt

I have been on a new project bandwagon. The people who lived in this house before us had a professional landscaping plan drawn up, but never put it in. They gave the plan to us when we moved in and ever since I have been itching to transform our adequate but average front yard into a fabulous front yard.

A couple of weeks ago I started working on the front yard. I thought I would do just one piece of the yard/landscaping plan at a time. After slowly pacing myself over the course of a few months I would finish the yard. But if you know me well, you know that is not how my personality or brain works: I get started and I shift into project mode. Something takes over and I just have this urgent need to forge to the finish.

This week I went to our local landscape yard, picked out six smallish-looking black basalt boulders and one "birdbath rock" (according to the requirements of our landscape plan) and arranged to have them delivered to our house. After they weighed the rocks and gave me my receipt, I found out that the rocks that I bought (which looked small compared to the others in the yard) totaled 3500 pounds- an average of 500 pounds each. Ummm... this created a small problem as to exactly how I would keep these from being a permanent fixture on our driveway. While I'd already done a bunch on my own (including transplanting a bush, planting countless new plants and laying out dirt for new planting beds), I guess I'd reached a point where I needed Dave's help... again.

Today I rented a rock dolly from the landscape place and with the help of Dave's bulging muscles (which are probably going to be sore for several days) we (or more precisely, he- with my help in a couple of key things like holding the dolly in place while he shoved a several-hundred-pound rock onto it) moved all seven of the rocks and placed them in our yard according to the landscape plan. And this on a day when Dave also wrote a weekly report for work (a several hour process) and I performed with my choir at a short dinner performance an hour away. What can I say? We rock. (Ouch, that was a REALLY bad pun, but I couldn't resist it. Sorry.) =]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I have a personal hatred for telephone answering systems that force you to wade through 5 minutes of choosing "options" before you can finally get to a message that tells you the "call volume is especially high" and you will need to wait another 10 minutes or more before being able to talk to a real person.

I just got off the phone trying to correct a problem with a misapplied student loan payment. Twenty-five minutes later I am no farther than when I began the call. After wading 5 or 6 layers of "menus," I waited for 10 minutes to talk to a "customer service representative" (meaning some person who is payed minimum wage to answer phones but has no idea how to answer any question or issue I may have). I politely informed him that I submitted a payment to pay off loan A in its entirety, but they misapplied the payment and split it between loan A and loan B. Could they please apply the payment correctly, how it was initially requested on the payment form?

Unfortunately, I am informed, it is impossible to make any changes to the account without authorization from the account-holder (Dave). So I tell them, "Yes, I understand that you would need his authorization to make a change (such as taking out a new loan, consolidating, etc.). But I'm not asking you to make a change to the account. I'm asking you to correct a mistake that one of your employees made in applying the loan payment. All I am asking is that you check the form and correct the payment application to match what was requested on the form."

"I'm sorry, but that is impossible. We need his authorization."

"Okay... you need his authorization. Is there a direct number that I can give him so that he can call you and give you that authorization?"

"No. I'm sorry, we do not have a direct number."

"So you're saying he needs to call your 800 number and wade through 5 menus so he can wait on hold for 15 minutes only to get a new customer service representative who has no idea what is going on and start this whole process all over again?"

"I'm sorry we do not have a direct line. He needs to call this same number you called."

"Sir, I hope you understand that this was not MY mistake. We submitted a form and one of your employees made a mistake. We are asking that you have your employee correct the mistake. Is that too much to ask? My husband is busy and works long hours and is never home while you are open. During the day he is at work and is in meetings or meeting with customers most of the time. This is why I am handling this in the first place."

"I'm sorry, we need your husband's authorization."

"Can I give you his number and you can call him to get that authorization?"

"I'm sorry, we cannot reach him that way."

So... after spending 25 minutes on the phone trying to get a company to fix a mistake that THEY made, I have to get Dave to call and spend an additional 25 minutes of his time or write a letter, print it and fax it to make them do what they should have done right in the first place. Productivity in America... a company makes a mistake and then demands their customers spend hours of their time in order to fix it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On the Brighter Side

Fine, so my life isn't all misery and woe. Actually, I think taking a morning off to be lazy can be very therapeutic. I spent this afternoon (during Jackson's nap- hooray!!) working on the front yard: adding dirt for a new flower bed, digging holes and transplanting a rhododendron. Jared and Camryn had a fabulous time running in the sprinkler, playing with the neighbor kids and getting drenched.

Earlier today, as Jackson was sitting in his high chair for lunch, I asked him if he wanted some raisins. He looked at me intently, so I repeated the question: "Raisin?" He looked back and very deliberately said: "Raah-sin." I clapped and cheered and he grinned, looking very pleased with himself. Of course Jackson has his typical repertoire of words (ma-ma, da-da, uh-oh, ball, ba-ba, etc.) but this is one I had never heard before.

In addition to a rapidly expanding vocabulary, Jackson has also mastered waving bye-bye to people (although he says "Dah-dah" while he waves), during which he has a huge grin, like he has figured out something very big.

Over My Head

Yesterday was a frustrating day. The rubble that Jackson had thrown off his high chair tray that the broom had missed was starting to get ground into the floor, but I could hardly manage to keep it swept, let alone think about mopping.... Jackson woke up at 6:00 am (this is after it took 1 1/2 hours to get him to bed the night before) and started the day full-blast with his usual amount of energy. Then he wouldn't go down for his nap after lunch.

Jackson is obsessed with climbing: he gets the kitchen step-stool or chairs and goes for the counters, the kitchen table, light switches, pretty much anything he can get to. He thinks the kitchen table is for standing on and walking around. If we go outside he makes a beeline for the street or starts walking off as fast as he can go. He was climbing from a chair onto the kitchen table yesterday and fell backwards, landing on his head. (How I wish an 18-month-old could understand: "How many times have I told you not to climb on the table? Why do you think that every single time you try to do it I pick you up and take you away? Maybe your mom was trying to keep you from falling on your head! Do you think maybe it would help if you didn't go straight back to climbing it? Aaaargh!)

He tells me he is done with his food by hurling a piece of it at the back of my head and then grinning at me as I take away his tray, just like he wanted. He has a knack for finding dangerous things (like scissors or knives) that are left on the edge of counters- or just getting to them with the step-stool. He recently discovered the kitchen sink and this has opened up a whole new realm for him: a new source of stuff to dig through and a new place to throw stuff that he finds. This is in addition to his penchant for "emptying" the dishwasher. I have to be careful never to open the dishwasher when he is around because he will immediately start taking dishes out or climb inside it.

But the real clincher was that yesterday Jackson figured out how to unlock the back door.... which wouldn't be such a big deal except that our back door opens up to a deck that is two stories above our backyard and he has figured out how to open the gate that leads to the stairs down to the yard. Is there any way to contain this child?

Today I finally figured out a mature and responsible way to deal with this issue: I read a random book all morning and didn't get dressed until 12:30 pm. Way to deal with life head-on!