Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Mischief

Since Keila is too young to decide her costume, I took my opportunity to turn my Keila-bug into a lady bug. The tulle was difficult to work with, but worth it since she looks like an absolute doll! Kent hates the fact that I got the stuff with sparkles, but I couldn't resist and I'm sure years from now we'll find the stuff in some odd unexpected place that will just bring a smile to my face as I remember her darling costume.

The following pictures were taken at our playgroup Halloween party, complete with cookie decorating and a ghost hunt. We took along a neighbor friend that Isaac and Keila adore.

Everyone was very happy to oblige me a picture as they sucked on their lollipops.

"Jack" for this year, 'tho Isaac insisted it's name was Keila. I suppose the grimace is similar to her when Isaac won't take no for an answer. Then again he's always naming everything (school pets and stuff animals) either Isaac or Keila.

I always love Isaac's picks for Halloween that make it an easy job to put together and keeps it cheap and practical. This year he chose Diego since he's forever 'rescuing' something, though typically not an animal - he doesn't seem to like them much as evidence by his relationship with Sunshine and any guinea pig he sees - but Keila makes for a great subject as does his Panda bear. We thought it'd be more fun it we made his rescue pack more than just for show, so we went to the thrift store and filled it with play binoculars, a magnifying glass, flashlight and lantern. It paid off since in the weeks before the big day he was already out in the backyard playing the part.

Isaac's preschool also got together a party and a parade. The kiddos are so cute! It was strangely hot that day and they were sweltering in their costumes.

Isaac's reaction when he finally spots me during the parade.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Big Frustrations in a Little Body

Keila has definitely reached that toddler stage where she feels she's big enough to take on the world but the world and her parents don't seem ready for her. She desperately wants to communicate (as evidenced by the myriad of sounds she issues as she points to various objects) but we obviously aren't fluent in 'Keilish'. She loves to have 'conversations' in quieter moments and surprised me by building a small tower today. 'Amen' is frequently heard during prayer especially when she thinks it's gone on long enough and is ready to wriggle off to play. It's fun to see her growing personality - really a big person in a little body - and to see how her growing independence influences her.

Finally a decent shot of her walking.

I miss the old cuddly and content baby Keila. Now her cuddly moments come when we read together and in random hugs as she walks by. I was glad that Kent was able to capture this one.

Keila the 'big girl' at Isaac's preschool meet the teacher night. She refused to be held and was adamant about having her own bag of popcorn that she could eat from on her own. Isaac was watchful of her and wanted to hold her hand everywhere she went. In some ways I can glimpse their relationship as they get older - the older brother who forever sees Keila as HIS 'baby sister' and an exasperated girl who secretly adores her overprotective big brother.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The BEST Toys

It's funny to me how much of an effort we as parents go through to get 'good toys' for our kids. I remember for Isaac's first birthday we look at a bunch of stand and walk toys that might aide him in his first steps. He unwrapped the thing set it aside and proceeded to joyfully tear paper. We had to coax him to use it and in the end he never really touched it until recently when Keila wanted to play with it. Since that time I've kinda given up on finding the right toy and realized that the things they love the most are the things that look just like what Mom and Dad use.

Isaac digging a trench of sorts because he saw Baba doing it. As you might have guessed I issued a rather audible sigh when I saw him but what can you do? Count the blessing of it occupying him for a good hour, clean him in a warm bath and tell your husband he'd better finish the job tonight before Isaac takes on the home improvement project.

Keila putting on make-up. Both kiddos were enthralled with this hitherto forbidden item. It was a moment of desperation when I needed them well occupied so I could get ready for the million and one errands for the day.

Looking back, I suppose Isaac would have loved the stand and walk toy if he saw us using a walker .... Age diminishes the appeal of imitation though. Just today Isaac said as we got into the car from preschool, "Today was a CRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAZZZY day!" When I asked him why he just sighed and shook his head. I wonder where that came from .... hmmmmmm. My prayer is that they will pick up my good points and be wise enough to discard the more manic ones!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No Bling Needed Here

We went out to the AZ State Fair for good family fun. Despite all the big rides, games, shows and displays the thing that captures my son the most is a pile of sand, trucks and plenty of shovels and rakes. Is this not the epitome of childhood? The 'Bling' never really matters, in the end it is the simple joys. Thanks for the reminder bud!

It surprised me how he really knows how to use a shovel. Put this boy to work!

Isaac's getting good with holding a crayon right and often writes his favorite letter - "I" - I wonder why?! Notice the yellow bracelet around his wrist? He refuses to remove it because it was our band allowing us use of the facilities on our beach vacation. How he LOVES beach vacations.

Keila was a little overwhelmed with everything, but the rabbits were a familiar sight! She loved them, but was a little leery of the Flemish Giants, those 'bunnies' weighed as much as she and I'm pretty sure could kick the stuffing out of Isaac!

This is the only picture we've been able to capture of Keila walking on her own. The moment she sees the camera the stinker drops to her bum!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Fly By Note

I don't know about you guys, but once it hits October the year seems to fly by on the wings of activities, parties, candy and good food till I'm left groaning into the New Year. Unfortunately in that time I tend to neglect the growth and change in my children until it's too late to recall who was doing exactly what and when. So since I have a moment, here's what's up with the little munchkins.

Isaac is in preschool and LOVIN' it. Before we started we were having more 'difficult moments' (by that I mean screaming and crying on both parts, his visibly, and me mentally). I think he was just bored and loves the social interaction and stimulus. At preschool he gets to cook at least once a week, paint pictures, dig to his heart's content (EVERYDAY) and sing songs and play games. I volunteer in his room once a week and it's fun for me to see how he's growing and learning. He can write the capital letter 'I' all by himself and can trace just about any letter you ask him to. He is also becoming a wonderful big brother. He loves to play with Keila (how can you not when she worships the ground he walks on) and he is always the Knight rescuing princess Keila (or panda if Keila happens to be napping) fighting off bad guys and becoming king. He has very definite ideas of what princess ought to look like and is constantly decking Keila out in various outfits and homemade crowns.

Isaac and Kent at Cabela's shooting light guns.

Keila is almost officially walking. She can take anywhere from 10-15 steps all on her own and is very proud of her own achievement. Should you give a helping hand when one is not wanted you will hear a fierce growl from her warning you that you have no right to take this glory from her! Aside from the little sign language she does, she speaks a few words: Mama, ball (more like BA!), Amun (amen in Chinese) and just recently Goh-goh (big brother in Chinese). She follows Isaac around like a little puppy dog and gets rather sad each morning he goes off to preschool. He is her best friend and role model.

Keila rearranging merchandise at Cabela's.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lessons Learned

There are somethings you attempt as a parent and learn quickly to NEVER do again. I like to think of these as nuggets of wisdom ... hard earned ones. So here I share my lessons with you in the hopes that you might do better than I

1. Never attempt a fun outing that is a long distance away with a tired child

I got an email about a $1 deal for an indoor amusement park in Mesa. We wanted a family outing and cheap fun in the summer heat is hard to come by so planned for it for a Monday night. Unfortunately Isaac woke up extra early (by that we mean 5:30) and I chose to ignore the warning bell sounding in my head, reasoning that I was sure he'd nap on our drive out. He was so excited that he COULDN'T nap (or so he claimed) until he was chattering one minute and the next minute his chin was sagging and banging his chest with every bump of the road. Of course this occurs 15 mins before we arrive so we took a 'scenic' route. Unfortunately when we turned off the ignition, he woke up a very, VERY disoriented grumpy child. Needless to say it was a bit of a trying evening, he didn't like the rides (as evidenced by his bland expressions) was displeased with supper but turn his frown upside down when he was sideswiped by another kid around the playground apparatus. I was pretty sure it would be a total meltdown but instead he thought the boy would be his perfect playmate. They spent the rest of the evening running around screaming and racing each other.

2. Never attempt camping with a child old enough to notice his/her surrounds but too young to understand that a tent does not mean homelessness.

Kent has been trying to talk me into doing some camping for 'fun'. I think it has to do with he fact that Isaac LOVES it and that somehow the Scoutmaster bug has infected him such that he's positive if I'd try it a few times I'd actually grow to like it. (At least this is the mantra he tries with the boys) When I was younger we did indeed go camping and I do remember loving it, but it was nothing like what he does. First of all, we had a tent trailer, not the suffocating nylon sheets that pass for primitive housing. Second of all, up in Alberta all the camp sites we went to had working toilets and some even had showers. Granted you had to walk a ways to them, but it was a luxury that I was rather fond of. Thirdly, when we camped, we did NOT eat pork and beans out of a can. That would be considered repulsive. My mother always fed us well, perhaps too well (marinated steaks, pork chops, drumsticks with a plate of stir fried veggies on the side) such that a camping meal was akin to starvation in my mind.

But, I am an open minded woman and I love my family so when the ward camp out came up, I thought, we could do a night. What's one night up in the woods in a tent? It was a last minute decision since Kent hadn't been feel well as of late, but I busted my guts getting things ready after being at preschool all morning and we left at around 4:30 Friday afternoon. The drive up was beautiful and I began to have idyllic pictures of us getting cozy by a fire roasting marshmallows.

We arrived as the sun was setting and set up camp right away. I was in charge of getting the us situated inside the tent and was quickly realizing that when they say a 3 man tent, they literally mean 3 small men and absolutely NOTHING ELSE WILL FIT size of a tent. It was a little closer than I like but hey, I can do this, it's for the family! Keila was fussy but I thought this a function of hunger and the fact that she couldn't get her feet under her and kept flop sliding from one sleeping bag to another.

Kent whipped up the Ramen noodles and beef stew but that wouldn't placate her. It became clear that she was so disturbed by the change in her surroundings that the only way she'd be happy was if I was holding her AND standing. Not something I would do all night long. So after an hour and half drive, and a 2 hr stay, I drove Keila home. We got back around 9:30 where she wiped out in the car seat. The next morning we got up and drove back to get Kent and Isaac. We stayed a while so that she could enjoy the great muddy outdoors. Suffice it to say, the packing, cleaning, travel and recovery time (obviously Kent and Isaac didn't sleep well) was about 4X the amount of fun. Never again ....

The older children were such good sports to play with the little ones!

Check out the muddy pants!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Training in Earnest

For the last few weeks I've successfully swam (or is that swum ... please ignore my horrific grammar) 1km in about 30 mins time each morning. There are still good mornings where I feel like a fish gliding through the water and other days that I'm the cat struggling not to drown, but the key is that I CAN DO IT!!!! I'm excited too since I only have to go 800m in the tri that I'm interested in. That being said, I just went to a meeting with a few other girls who are also interested in doing a tri in a few weeks. Boy did I have a LOT to learn!

So my big focus when I set out to do this was to just get over the water fear aspect. I figured that I run regularly 3-5 miles daily and I've ridden the stationary bike tons when the weather is too hot, so how hard could it be? Duh ... I seem to have underestimated the toll all that would take on the body when done in succession. Once it came down to the details described to me by 2 ladies who are experienced tri athletes, I went home to freak out for a couple of hours. It was kinda like when you have a 3 year old throwing the mother of all tantrums before you and you realized that all you'd been seeing was the cute, innocent couldn't hurt a thing if it tried newborn that you thought of when you first signed on. "I've gone and done .... WHAT?!!!"

After birthing that emotional upheaval, (and folks, it was a birthing of sort ... breath in, breath out!) I calmed down and said set my sights a little lower. "All I want is just to finish this ... with most of my body intact." But we all know me ... secretly I want more and the more is going to kill me.

So I'm currently budgeting myself for a bike and helmet. I rode a road bike back in high school and remember the ease with which I clocked down the miles. It's appealing but costly - a good bike ranging at least around $400. I've been checking Craiglists for used ones and it doesn't look much cheaper. Then there is the practical side of me, aside from my 5am workouts, will I want it to take the kids out on a ride? That would require something sturdier like a hybrid or a mountain bike. Or is the idea of taking the kids out something more like a sitcom from the 50's where I bake fresh cookies daily, serve dinner while wearing pearls and after the kitchen is immaculate I take the kiddos for some family fun on bikes. You can see the endless circles my mind can run on sometimes!

The worst part is that Kent and I JUST sat down to set some serious financial goals to pay for a larger vehicle, possibly a home, etc. The idea of spending a couple hundred for me doesn't really fit in anywhere. Kent is totally fine that I spend the money, but how much do I want to invest (because it is an investment! ANYTHING that costs more than $100 is an investment in my book) on something that I may not do again. I LOVE the fact that I can swim, truly swim with my face in the water, I will always love running and the freedom of cycling early in the quiet of the morning is appealing, but will I in all seriousness do a triathlon again?

So ladies, what do you think? I think I'm okay with a physical balance as a mother, but is there such a thing as a financial balance when you have children? Argh!