Monday, October 31, 2011

Sugar High

Yes, we did manage to carve pumpkins this year.  You would think that with all the years of higher education that Daddy O and I share between us, we would factor in the warmer temperatures when timing the carving itself.  It was not to be.  Two weeks before Halloween we visited the pumpkin patch and in our enthusiasm,  kept the ball rolling and didn't think of the consequences.  I'm not confident that I could completely capture the look of queasiness on Daddy O's face as he disposed of the blackened, rotten jack-o-lanterns with a large snow shovel, so I'll show what they looked like in their heyday.

The beginning:

Let's carve them now!  It's only 90 degrees out...

The rule at the pumpkin patch is that you have to be able to carry it out.  Baby O was the smart one. His survived.

Original pumpkins: Not rotten yet.


The costumes were bought weeks ago and I only wish I could have snapped a picture of Boy O creeping into my closet each day to look at his man of steel costume.  Once again, I don't think I would have been able to capture the halo of light that seemed to befall the red and blue unitard and certainly not the look of pure joy on his sweet face before I would turn off the light and shoo him out of our bedroom. The superhero theme is still going strong in our household and Boy O was quite disappointed when Baby O's train fixation took hold and he decided to be a conductor (okay...I did 'help' encourage him, but it didn't take too much).

It seemed to be a sugar high from the moment I woke them both up-Boy O wore his costume to school, meaning that Baby O also wore his and there was just so much chaos ENERGY.  All the students paraded around the school hallways in the afternoon before school let out and the excitement was tangible.  The space between school letting out and trick-or-treating was close to impossible.  The boys were so excited.

 Almost time.  Note: new pumpkin (no carving needed).

Not quite sure what to make of the skull....

Time to go?  No feet on the ground needed.

Suffice to say, both boys had a grand time.  We let them stay up, celebrate, organize candy and eat four pieces each until...get this...8:30 pm (for the record, I know Boy O was downing candy as he was passing it out as he so nicely offered to do after we came back-so maybe 50 pieces for him).   I know, I know,  tomorrow won't be the same.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

On Busyness

As I mentioned in my previous post, October is busy.  Baby O's birthday begins the madness in late September and there are at least four more family birthdays this month alone.  Throw in a funeral, endless Kindergarten celebrations (I'm the room mom!), Fall Festivals, book fairs, collecting box tops/labels for education, cookie dough fundraisers, Daddy O traveling twice for a week at a sounds hectic, but it's just busy.  And I like being busy, but it doesn't leave much room for blogging.

We did have some time to build a scarecrow earlier this month and although the end result was (in my opinion) quite mediocre compared to what I had thought it would look like, we had a lot of fun.  Boy O had decided beforehand that we would build a Harry Potter scarecrow, so Baby O and I picked up all the scarecrow fixin's at the Goodwill one morning.

Baby O still loves to wear the hat and it was hard to separate him from the glasses.

Panty hose served as the head and although this may look slightly strange, we all took turns stretching it out and wearing it over our faces.  Good times.

 Boy O was in charge of stuffing the head.

Boy O applying Harry Potter's lightning shaped scar.

Like I said before, it didn't turn out exactly as I had first thought, but it was a fun activity and it has to count for something that every single time I walk out the door and catch 'Harry Potter' out of the corner of my eye, he manages to startle the stuffing out of me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Birthday Truck: Year Two

If your Mother is sending you messages expressing that she is tired of the coffee cup picture, it's time for a new post.

Is busyness even a word?  According to google, dictionary dot com and thesaurus dot com it is and more on  Family O October busyness soon. Seriously.  Now for some back blogging.

The birthday truck has been making frequent stops at our house recently, it is a crazy month for birthdays and special events for Family O.  Unfortunately, Boy O doesn't get to enjoy the arrival of the packages as much as he used to now that deliveries usually occur while he's at school but he has certainly been eyeing the growing mound of packages in the living room.  Daddy O and I doused the house with balloons, spiderman streamers, green lantern rings, and carefully placed batman place mats and other superhero party favors on the dining room table.  Boy O had a fun-filled day starting with a waffle breakfast and then onto school, where not only did he get to wear a special birthday hat all day, the annual kindergarten pet parade took place early in the morning.  I was slightly concerned that we didn't have any actual pets and sent him to school with a stuffed animal.  Luckily, this was the 'norm' and he was flanked by stuffed bears and even an ostrich.  Some students proudly showed off their live dogs, cats, ferrets and chinchillas (the parents had tied the cage to a rolling chair...hilarious).  The best was  a girl who carried her goldfish around in a Britta pitcher.  All in all it was extremely entertaining for Baby O (who kept pointing to the poor ferret on a leash, calling it a mouse) and myself.  We had a great time. 

Daddy O surprised Boy O by joining him for lunch at school and then we all (MeMe included) brought in cupcakes for his classmates later in the afternoon.  And it doesn't end there....we came home, opened presents, had a special Ethiopian meal, Superman was a full day of celebration.

A letter to my eldest son on his sixth birthday:

Dear Boy O,

So much has happened in one year.  You have gone through at least 13 pairs of shoes, two bicycle tires, countless pairs of jeans and grown six + inches.  You have learned to swim, read, add and subtract.  I don't think there is one thing in this world that you cannot do or accomplish if you set your mind to it.  You are that rare person that is just good at everything you try.  It is an amazing gift that not everyone has and I truly hope that you learn to appreciate it later on in life.

You have this wonderful ability to make friends everywhere we go.  You are always the first to go up to a person and ask if they want to play.  Sometimes they respond immediately, sometimes they have to think about it for a minute, and one time you even tried hard to engage an 87 year old great grandfather to join in your game of tag.  He laughed and laughed at your invitation, and I had to have the don't-talk-to-strangers-talk afterward, but that is you to a tee.  You love to play and don't mind making the first move to introduce yourself.  Believe me, I have been taking notes and trying to follow your lead. 

You are a good natured, kind, gentle and happy six year old boy and every one's best friend.  Your Dad and I are always watching and learning from you and love you so much.  We are proud of you, look forward to watching you grow and are so thankful to be your parents,

Much Love,

Mommy and Daddy O

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One of Those Mornings...

Have you ever had one of those mornings where...

your grouchy toddler refuses to take a bite

and in desperation you put fruit gummi bites on top of his cream of wheat so he will eat for sure

and after the entire bowl has been ingested and you are giving yourself a pat on the back for your brilliant idea

the cream of wheat + fruit gummi bites is promptly regurgitated on the table, wall, floor, highchair and clothing

as you rush your toddler to the bathroom and place him in the shower fully clothed

your kindergartner comes in to announce that Dad is now vomiting in the sink in response to cleaning up the mess

Whew.  If you have...I'm right there with you, having one of those mornings...

photo from:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shades of Green

When I first found out we were moving, I spent months anticipating how amazing life was going to be once we relocated.  I focused on warmer weather, being within reach of family, better schools, and of course, warmer weather (for the amount of time I thought about the sun, it deserves to be mentioned twice). 

Along the way, my focus turned into something different altogether.  It didn't take long for 'amazing' to morph into 'everything' and our lives *according to me in my head* seemed to take off and expand everywhere.  You name it, I thought it.  Complete strangers would open their arms and embrace me upon our first meeting, I envisioned myself surrounded by a tribe of women that I could have coffee and run 20 miles with.  We would all have amazing play dates at the park and live on the same street, watch each other's children when needed...In other words...I became a parody on Saturday Night Live- affirming to myself that yes, I was smart enough, I was good enough, and doggone it, people liked me! 

Is there such a thing as too much positive thinking?

Admittedly, much of my thinking was pretty out there and I awoke to a hard dose of reality when we arrived.  Geography may change, but life remains the same and familiar problems pop up sooner or later.   It's not all unattainable though.  It just takes a little more work than I had thought. Finding someone to run 20 miles with might take awhile.  A girl can dream I guess...

So next time I start my Stuart Smalley routine, I'm going to try and remember not to concentrate on whether the grass is greener, but recognize that it will just be a different shade of green.  Or in our case, a light shade of brown due to the lack of moisture! 

This shade-whether it's brown or green-is still pretty awesome even on a normal day beginning at breakfast.

Each morning, Baby O and I run to the 'retired' caboose down by the train tracks-he loves it!  Please note that he is also holding his favorite Thomas the Train book.

The Kindergarten Johnny Appleseed parade was a big success.  They all wore pots on their head and spread imaginary seeds to all the students who stood in the hallways cheering them on and giving them high fives.  Boy O felt like a million bucks.

Stuart Smalley/Al Franken photo obtained from:

Saturday, September 17, 2011


My baby turned to two today.  We celebrated as a family with Thomas cupcakes and whistles and finally, finally opened presents after nap time.  Baby O didn't seem to have too much trouble with the time line, but Boy O, MeMe and myself included were quite excited to see him open his gifts.  Thomas the train and the fully stocked fire station were immensely popular with both boys and they played for hours on end afterward. 

To my two year old son, who will always remain my baby:

Dear Baby O,

In the letter written to you on your first birthday, I was struck by the lack emotion from its author.  The weak attempts to describe you sound like an outline, a bare bones draft listing milestones or activities.  Not once did I mention my love for you or how much you mean to me.   That life would be empty without you.  And it truly would be.  Empty.

It has been such an unbelievable year.  Your father and I agree that we were so short-sighted in the beginning. By that we mean that we only thought of you as an infant, a baby-we had no idea that such a little guy like you could fill up an entire room on personality alone.  Your voice helps out a bit too.  Wink.

Just a few days after your first birthday, you took your first steps and our house (and everything in it) would never be the same. I think you may have only walked for a matter of days before you started running and believe me, you have only stopped to eat and sleep a few times here and there.  You always have somewhere to be and somewhere to go, sometimes you pause for a few seconds and I can see the wheels turning in your head-you always have a plan.  Most times that plan includes estimating just how long it will take Mom or Dad to get to you before you get into too much trouble, but it's a plan, nevertheless, and it usually works.

The words and phrases  you place together to form sentences or just to get your point across make each day new and interesting.  I love that you think everyone should receive and M & M every time they go potty (if you don't lock the door, he will come right on in and ask you if you need him to get you one from the kitchen), I love your obsession with Thomas the train, I love that you give yourself applause each and every time you take a sip from the 'big boy' cup and don't spill, I love that you insist on licking the frosting off of cupcakes....I could go on and on.

It is starting to sound like a list again doesn't it?  It IS hard not to reminisce or brag...Forget all the lists of milestones and cuteness, forget the all the poetry,  every time we look at you, YOU fill our hearts with love, happiness and laughter like no one else can.  I love you so much it hurts.

Your brother, father and I cannot imagine a life without you,

P. S. Here a few more pictures of the celebration

Monday, September 12, 2011

What It's All About

Q: How many kids are lucky enough to have their MeMe ( + Mom and little brother in desperate need of nap) visit them on Grandparent's Day at school? 

A:  This one.

Monday, September 5, 2011

School Days

Transitioning to "Phase II" is going well and aside from all the complaints from my previous post, all really is well.  I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

Boy O started Kindergarten a week after moving in.  He was incredibly excited and I was incredibly scared, but after registering him for school, I left feeling much more comfortable and somewhat impressed.  All day Kindergarten, small class sizes, separate music, art, computer, physical education is more than I can give him here at home.  Activities began even before class officially started-a school parade, meet-your-teacher was good for the parents as well as the students and Boy O was no exception.

Meeting the school mascot on back-to-school night:

The big day-Boy O woke us up at 5:32 am, dressed and ready to go.  He also complained of a bad stomachache and it took quite a bit of convincing along with a small serving of pepto bismol to eat some breakfast. 


Walking to school as a family (we are only one block away!):

Confessions?  Here are a couple: 1) I ran into to the school counselor at the boo hoo breakfast for parents, hosted by the school (I did not boo hoo, but I did come close) and made her promise to check in on Boy O at some point during the day.  I bet you anything there is an asterisk in Boy O's file noting that she needs to check on me at some point. 2) I found myself taking Baby O on a 'walk' to the neighborhood park, which is located just beyond the elementary school and watched Boy O for a half hour at recess from a quarter mile away.  I knew he would be easy to spot in his bright yellow and blue striped shirt and it was good to see him flit around the playground, having the time of his life.

I love hearing about his day at school when we pick him up at the end of the day, I love hearing new vocabulary, new names and the goings-on during recess.  I especially love listening to him use his teacher's words in his conversations, for example: "Mom, I made good choices today", or "So and so had to be separated today" and the best was when he told me, "Mom, did you know that the nurse at school doesn't give shots?  She told me she wouldn't give me one! Isn't that great?"

As I suspected, Baby O adjusted quickly to the extra one-on-one time and has become a great, if somewhat demanding running partner, insisting on stanza after stanza of the 'peanut butter' song and 'Mary had a little lamb'.  Both boys are enjoying their new freedoms and schedules-three weeks in and Boy O continues to be up and dressed by six o'clock in the morning, skips all the way to school, and barely gives us a glance as we wave goodbye from the hallway.  Day by day things are falling into place and becoming more familiar.  Now if I could just find which box the lampshade is in and where my bowls are...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reality Squared

What can I say about reality and coming back to it?   Hmmm....There are a few choice phrases I'm thinking of, but I'll just say: Ugghh.

Sure, we were all tired and somewhat grimy by the end of the trip, but aside from a few sleep issues and the general grouchiness that comes along with heavy traveling, things were peachy.  It was peaceful not to have to deal with the everyday mundane and just look out the window and watch the world go by.  It was fun to eat at different/weird restaurants and explore life close the interstate.  It felt like old times, traveling with my Dad, but now with my own family in tow.

The trip ended all too abruptly with the departure of my father.  I white-knuckled it to the airport in an unfamiliar city and pleaded several times with my  boys to keep silent or I might crash (horrible, yes-but at the time, it did seem absolutely necessary and not all that inaccurate).   I cried as I said goodbye and tried to dry my tears for the next hour or so in order to navigate the directions to our new home.

As the next seven days went by in a furious blur of activity, each and every task appeared to move painfully slow to us.  Unpacking was difficult with two boys running around and made even more onerous due to the diminished square footage that our rental provided us in comparison with our previous abode. Many items went into a storage facility and I never knew how much I would dearly miss all of  my kitchen cabinets.  If I could write them a thank you note expressing my unwavering love, I probably would. 

Overwhelming. There has just been so much to do.  First and foremost was unpacking, then endless amounts of paperwork from the rental company, initiating accounts with public utilities, selling our house (yay!), finding a notary, registering Boy O for school, getting pool passes, library card, cancelling utilities and home insurance, rental insurance, choosing new health insurance and I still haven't managed to tackle car insurance, getting new driver's licenses, car inspections, etc...  So much for my giant folder.

Things feel like they are getting back on track-Daddy O started his new job, Boy O started Kindergarten (more on that later), I joined a local Mom's group, and Baby O is enjoying more one on one time with me during the day.  But sometimes I find myself focusing on silly things like why the light switches are on the outside of the bathrooms, why ceiling fans were not designed for short people, why our rental agency doesn't care that our house is infested by ants and why this part of the country seems to have an excess of feeder roads and super targets...I guess it's all just new.  I'll be honest-besides our friends that we left behind, the thing I miss most is how comfortable we were in our house and community.  I haven't quite found my groove yet and I keep reminding myself that it has only been two weeks and it will take at least a few more to get my mojo back.  The kids on the other hand continue to demonstrate their plasticity and seem to have transitioned much more smoothly than Mommy and Daddy O.  Get them on their regular bedtime, a couple of familiar toys and they are good to go.

We have been soaking up the endless sunshine and spend most mornings at the neighborhood pool. One unfortunate side effect of the dry weather has been the onset of ants and they all decided to take over a couple of rooms late last week.  I would like to add that I am not one to balk at the sight of a few ants in the bathroom, but when they take over a closet, crib, queen size bed and all the additional bedding, I hit my breaking point.  As the exterminator explained that the ant activity might not subside for a few more days even after his toxic remedy, we decided to hit the road and stay at the beach for a couple of days while things died down.  I can't think of a better place to be. 

Note to self: write thank you note to the ants for wonderful weekend at Mustang Island filled with swimming, sandcastles, tourist traps and fresh salty air.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 6

We got off to an early start this morning, expecting the last leg of the trip to be long and...long.  After visiting several national parks in the last few days, I was disappointed to learn that we had arrived too late and we would leave too early to visit the Roswell UFO museum during our brief visit.   I know it doesn't measure up to the Grand Canyon, but I had envisioned it to be a fun, guilty pleasure kind of stop along the way.  So I made everyone stop for a picture on our way out of town.  At 6 o'clock in the morning.  I figured it was the next best thing.

There seemed to be quite a few bathroom breaks today and we had to communicate via my Dad's cell phone today between cars due to the fact that I left my phone charger somewhere in Arizona.  For the first pit stop, I asked my Dad to call Daddy O who was driving in front of us to pull off at the next gas station.  My Dad dialed the number, and as soon as he heard the phone pick up said, Hey we need a potty break!  Unfortunately he had dialed the wrong number and the person on the other end let him know it.  We had a good laugh about that!

Today was full of entertainment from my Dad or Chief as the boys refer to him-he told all the old stories I remembered and a few new ones.  The hours were filled with different forms of I spy and other games and I'm glad that the boys got to experience my Dad in fun 'travel mode'.  We will all be sad to see him leave tomorrow.

Here is Boy O in Pecos, Texas-he is fascinated with cactus and this was right next to the gas station where we made a much needed pit stop. 

We ate lunch in Ozona, Texas where there was a Davy Crockett monument.  Boy O is a big fan of the old Davy Crockett movies (thanks Dad!) and this was the highlight of the day (besides the pool later on). 

Even though we were on the road for eight hours, the miles seemed to go by fast and before we knew it, Hill Country was upon us.  In the blink of an eye, our road trip is ending and although I will be so excited to see our washing machine and dryer tomorrow (hopefully), I will be sad to say goodbye to my Dad and the break from the ol' grind.  It's been a great ride but it's time to go back to reality, I guess. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 5

On the road again.  And again and again.  Today seemed to never end.  The morning flew by from Flagstaff to the border of New Mexico, but by the time we hit Albequerque, time seemed to inch backward.  It's getting to that point where we are all tired of sitting and driving, the dirty clothes are multiplying fast and stinking up what's left of the clean ones and the entertainment center of my brain has been exhausted.

Despite the monotony of the drive we still managed to stop briefly at the petrified forest.  In all reality,  I needed a potty break and it coincided perfectly with exit 311 and literally the only place to stop was the national park.  Perfect timing. 

Boy O at the petrified forest:

Baby O at the petrified forest:

We have made our way through the painted desert and the bleak landscape of the New Mexico desert and are staying the night in Roswell, New Mexico. Surprisingly, I do not have any pool pictures because we didn't even go.  It was just nice to sit here in the room, do nothing and walk across the street to have some dinner.  The boys are doing really well with the lack of routine from day to day, they seem tired of sitting all day as well, but are enjoying all the amenities the hotels have to offer (ice machines and shower caps really do provide a lot of entertainment) and take full advantage of exploring all there is to explore at various rest stops and emergency potty breaks.

Onto Texas tomorrow!