Friday, September 28, 2012

Learning Soccer

This fall Kristina started soccer for the first time.

The league is a non-competitive coed one between several of the smaller mountain schools, and only runs for a few months due to impending arrival of snow.

As Kristina was both extremely young to be on it (she technically missed the end of July birthday cut off to be old enough, but they waived it since she was starting Kindergarten), and has had a distinct lack of organized sports in her toddler and preschool years, I wasn't entirely sure how it would go.

The first practice was.... um.... interesting.

Yep, interesting is a good word for it. Very, very interesting.

BUT the children have made astonishing progress since then, and at the game this past Saturday there were true moments of actual SOCCER being played!

It was very exciting.

However, despite Kristina's natural athletic abilities and love to be in the middle of the action, and even a faint grasp of the rules of the game, she still is having one little difficulty with the game.

She doesn't always remember which goal is hers.

But that just means she has her very own parent chant and/or nickname already!

Wrong Way Kristina. 

It's good to have opportunities to grow, and other than the directional confusion issue, I think she's doing quite well at the game for her age and lack of prior soccer experience.

And the mountain teams' fields make for some gorgeous backdrops for fall soccer pictures.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Parenting Fail: Library Books

As part of her Kindergarten class, Kristina got to go to the elementary school library two Fridays ago and pick out a book to bring home for a week.

Her questionable choice of picture book aside (Plantzilla Goes to Camp, if anyone wants to have their literary experience broadened into the realm of sentient runaway pet flora), she was excited about it and the experience brought back fond memories from my own early grades checking out my own library books from that very same elementary school library.

We read it a few times, and it hung out in her bedroom for the week along with our usual stack of regular library books.

Friday morning rolled around, when she was supposed to bring this library book back to exchange it for another one.

And I remembered about it!!

Granted, it was as we were trying to leave the house to get to the bus stop Friday morning, but I totally remembered she needed to bring her school library book back to school that day! Go me!!

So I quickly ran down to the girls' bedroom to go grab it (we were on our way out the door to catch the school bus, after all).

And I realized it wasn't there.

Some frantic bedroom searching did nothing to produce this particular book, and so I quickly went from being the awesome parent who remembered about the school library book to being the horrible parent whose child couldn't get a new one that day because she had failed to bring back the old one.

But even after Kristina headed off to school library-book-less, there was still the question to answer of what DID happen to that book anyway??

And then I remembered.

The day before I had grabbed the stack of regular library books in her room to drop off (only two days overdue, which is actually pretty good for us) on my way to pick up Adrianna from preschool.

Could I have returned the school library book to the regular library by mistake??

We went by the library after soccer practice today to ask.

I felt *slightly* better about my hypothesized mis-return when the librarian pulled out SEVERAL Nederland elementary school library books and asked which one it was.

(At least I'm not the only epically library failing parent in this town!) 

However, Plantzilla was not there.

Don't despair, the librarian told me, for they just brought a few up to the school last Friday as well.

Could they have already returned Kristina's missing book for me?

And if not, and if it doesn't magically show up around the house this week, does that mean I already owe the school a new library book one month in? It could be a long year of weekly school library visits at this rate.....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monster Addicted

I had never had an energy drink before I started working at Target.

After Energy Drink Day, I started having one about once a month. You know, for those really "special" mornings.

After I was promoted to the PA position in Market, I started drinking them on the days we got food truck deliveries.

And then on mornings without truck deliveries as well.

And as of yesterday, I'm buying 4-packs of them ahead of time anticipating just how painful the next few mornings are going to be.

Congratulations Miss Marty, it only took you an extra 10 years to get addicted to caffeine just like every other adult.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Last Days of Summer

Summer is quickly coming to an end up here in the Colorado mountains.

Morning are noticeably cold, aspens have turned yellow, and the afternoon rainstorms are going to become snow flurries before the peewee soccer league is through with their already-abbreviated-because-we-live-in-the-mountains season.

So enjoy what really might be the last video of my children playing outside before there's snow on the ground.

[Note to self: make sure children have sufficient jackets, boots snowpants, hats, mittens, scarfs, warm socks, undershirts, et al]

Ah crap, winter is coming. 


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Adrianna's First Joke

When we were driving home today, Kristina thoughtfully looked out the window and asked me if the Carebears were up on the clouds.

I'm really not much for blatantly lying to my children, however it also seems cruel to purposefully crush any slight hope for magic in the world when they're still young enough to believe in it.

So I did my normal parenting tactic when faced with such dilemmas, and asked her which was her favorite Care Bear [note: only considering the classic 80s version, the newest remake is highly disappointing] instead of actually answering her question.
Why yes, I DO think I'm just hilarious!

And after some deep discussion about whether Kristina  preferred Funshine Bear over Cheer Bear, I asked Adrianna who here favorite Care Bear was.

To which she responded in her ridiculously cute tiny baby voice "Poopy Bear" and started laughing hysterically. 

Yep. That's my girl. So clever, she's only two and already making poop jokes. She's going to be successful in life for sure!

[And just to clarify, for all those who might not be up on the names of the Care Bears, there is no 'Poopy Bear' in the Care Bear Family.]

Saturday, September 15, 2012

My Initiation to Chuck E. Cheese

Last month brought another historic first for our family, our first time attending a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheeses.

My roommate in college, Cassi (you may remember her from such adventures as pinking our hair and Kristina's traumatic trip to Disneyland), worked a Chuck E. Cheese out in Iowa back in the day, and I had been known to take the tokens she accidentally brought home in her pockets to play skeetball in the evenings while waiting for her to get off so she could go to Dairy Queen with me on occasion.

But I hadn't ever been to this organization as a PARENT.

You know, a PARENT, where your world views are forever altered to literally see the nasty germs climbing all over otherwise unassuming surfaces and constantly dealing with things like your child's phobia of large costumed mice is as mundane an activity as wiping snotty noses.

But Kristina had been invited to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheeses, and to Chuck E. Cheeses we went.

It was surprisingly better than I had anticipated.

First, there weren't the masses of screaming hordes of children. In fact, there were scant few to be seen that weren't a part of the birthday party. This may have been because it was a Monday evening, and not say, Saturday afternoon, or it may reflect the economic decline over the years since I was in college. But regardless, the place was notably un-packed.

And I made an incredibly awesome discovery! Or rather, I noticed the incredibly awesome discover other parents were partaking in, and that was the Chuck E. Cheese beer and wine on tap. And then had to partake in it as well, because as we've already discussed, drinking makes the small children's birthday parties more fun for everyone!

Well, at least more fun for the lushing parents....

Also, have you ever heard of anything classier than a Merlot on tap from Chuck E Cheese? It's totally like, boxed wine to the tenth power of boxiness. Sadly, I didn't think of the blogging potential I was missing out on when I just got myself a kiddy cup sized beer.

It took me some serious pondering to figure out how I hadn't known that Chuck E. Cheese sold booze from Cassi's unMickey mouse tenure, and then I realized I hadn't been 21 when she was working there, and therefore would have had much less interested in my hypothetical ability to buy alcohol as I was completely unable to buy alcohol at the time.

It definitely took Kristina a little while to stop spazing over the games and actually stop to play one for more than three milliseconds. But once she locked in, she was LOCKED, and Kristina and a couple of her best little buds were all about the pirate-shooting-zombies-and-giant-crabs game.  

I have to admit, the party host certainly seemed to be aware that she was reciting a fairly horrible script to a mass of inattentive children who really didn't care about anything beyond getting to the promised cake for a minimum hourly wage.

And the guy the Chuckie Suit was even more apathetic about the whole thing than she was.

I suppose one can't be picky about the acting skills and enthusiasm by people who undoubtedly find their job insufferable more often than not while being paid an insultingly low wage.

(Says the person who works at Target....)

But THEN Mr. Cheese went around the table greeting all the children.

I held my breathe, anxiously hoping against a Kristina meltdown when he got to her.

And then Kristina, the child who BEGGED me not to let Santa Clause into our house multiple Christmases after being too terrified of the costumed him in the mall to even walk past the Santa enclosure, gave the big mouse a smile and a high five.

Sometimes, it's the little things in parenting that make you feel accomplished. Or maybe just extremely relieved, that perhaps the irrational-phobia-of-large-costumed-characters really might be grown out of.

(And that means we can go back to Disneyland soon, right??)

Kristina also managed to score herself a respectable number of tickets over the course of the evening, had more fun putting them into the counter machine than playing most of the games, and thought the micro-sized package of nerds and pink plastic bracelet she brought home as prizes were just awesome.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Divided Plate Parenting

When I was a child, I was principally opposed to my food cross-contaminating on my plate.

Ok, I might still be principally opposed to my food cross-contaminating on my plate, but as I am a mature adult now (stop laughing, Mother) I suck it up and just eat the mashed potatoes that got steak juices in them like a normal person.

For many years though, my parents had a running joke about how they were going to get me divided plates instead of fine china for my wedding.

Although they didn't actually follow through with this, I have come to adore having divided plates in my life anyways.

While it might be slightly humiliating for an adult to use divided plates as their regular dishes, it is a totally acceptable practice to have divided plates on hand for your children.

And even though I don't stoop so low as to actually use my girls' princess divided plates for my own food (even though they're really awesome and way cooler than every other dish in the dish cupboard except for, perhaps, the my little pony heart-shaped bowl), I still greatly appreciate the divided nature of them.

You see, in addition to not cross-contaminating the food I am serving to my children (it would be just terrible to raise kids without subconsciously implanting them with your own odd neurotic quirks) the divider plates ALSO remind me to feed them a more balanced meal.

As long as there are empty compartments on the plate, I continue to look around the kitchen for stuff to put in them, and therefore impulsively give my children peas when otherwise I'd probably forget about how I'm supposed to be feeding them vegetables.

[Note to self: feed children more vegetables]

Yep, divided plates are key to proper parenting success.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stubborn Love

By The Lumineers

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Up All Night

I am really bad about staying up way late on the computer.

But it's not because I'm playing games or shopping or reading trashy celebrity news.

It's because I'm talking to people on various forms of instant messaging and email.

And there's this trade off, because even though I'm physically more tired the next day for staying up so late, the people I talk to help me feel better mentally and emotionally.

I don't spend very much time just hanging out with people. On the not overly numerous nights I do go out with friends, it's usually much more of an event with large crowds of people, and the hours of just talking one on one are simply not there.

So I meet that basic need for human intimacy and companionship over the internet.

My favorite person to talk to is LauraJean. She is that girlfriend I gossip with, that sister who knows the secrets I tell nobody else, that fellow mommy veteran to share the good and the bad of children with, that therapist that helps me work through the dissolution of my marriage, that family core who reminds me that no matter what legal documents say I will always have a place amongst the cousins, that support who always reminds me that me is awesome and to never lose the me-ness.

And somehow, 4 or 5 hours are gone with neither of us noticing. And then we have that moment of "oh crap, we have to get up in the morning" and both hurry off to bed, promising ourselves to do better tomorrow.

Of course when tomorrow comes, we get caught right back up in the same talk all over again, and another evening slips by.
LJ, Q, K, and A- March 2010, NY

Luckily, she's in Nicaragua doing this whole missionary thing, and that requires absences as they venture out into the internetless land of latrines from time to time or host international visitors who expect some sort of hosting behavior in the evening as well.

And so there are periods where her and I cannot talk all evening, sometimes for weeks at a time! I continue about my life, not really noticing the absence of my dear friend beyond her not promptly replying to emails.

But then when she gets back, and we spend the evening talking again to catch back up, I realize all over again how much I've grown to need those nights talking with her.

And then I ponder how strange it is one of my best friends lives in another country from me. And not just in that "we were best buds for years and then she moved away" sort of way, but how her living in Nicaragua somehow aided the environment for us to become so close in the first place.

Of course, I think we've also become closer as we've gotten to more of the same stage of life.

When I first met her I was just a barely 19 year old college student, while she had already graduated from Stanford University (and had a course with Chelsey Clinton!) and was practically a certified genius, she was married and had already dedicated her life to being a minister.

Even when the babies started coming, there was still a gap between us. Although Quinn and Kristina are only a few months apart in age, Quinn was much of a responsible decision that took a little trying while Kristina was bit more of a brief passing of stupidity.

We were in different places still.

But now... now we both have two little girls. Now we both have careers (why yes, I am referring to working at Target as a career, thankyouverymuch). Now I have grown up a bit as I move closer to my 30s, and as such we have all sorts of wonderful conversations about all matters and things in life.

In fact, my ONLY complaint with LauraJean is that she doesn't have a Nicaragua cell phone plan, and therefore I can't send her text messages and pics as things happen during the day.

 Yep, a little sleep sacrifice is totally worth it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

School-Age Mama: 3 Weeks Going Strong

Kristina has been in school for 3 weeks now, and while she's been unquestionably doing awesome, I've also been impressed by my not forgetting about important parenty stuff  taking it in stride as well.

  • I was genuinely excited to go to back-to-school night, and pretended I was still excited even after we were there and I realized it wasn't nearly as exciting as I thought it would be. 
  • I remembered about Kristina's first Scholastic Book order and placed one just so she'll be one of the kids who gets to bring home books in a couple weeks, even though there weren't really any books I wanted for us. 
  • I was working at Target during Kristina's first soccer game and when I asked her how it was she told me she scored a goal. I still have no idea whether her team "won", and don't want to ask because I don't want her to think it matters. 
  • Kristina has a brand new personalized pink bigkid backpack, even though she never takes anything more to/from school than a folder and a lunchbox. 
  • I ordered soccer pictures for Kristina while having no idea when they'll be taken and fully expecting them to be of questionable quality, just so she can have that team photo to look at when she's taking her highschool soccer team to state championships in 10 years.
  • I let Kristina ride the school bus even on the mornings I'm taking her sister to preschool in town and could easily drop her off at the elementary school on the way, just because she really likes riding the bus. 
 Yep, we're doing great kiddo, only another 12 years of bake sales and PTA meetings to go!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Adrianna's Guitar Solo

I intended to show you a video of Adrianna talking and to seriously discuss her speech therapy and subsequent progress over the past month, as well as what the immediate future looks like for her with re-evaluation and possibly continuing services at the elementary school. 

But that video wouldn't upload for me, so instead you get her just being loud adorable and pretending to play the guitar.


Rock on, little lady, rock on.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Satirical Awesomeness of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

The Flying Spaghetti Monster was a satirical piece submitted to the Kansas State Board of Education by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the idea of creationism/intelligent design being taught in schools alongside evolution.
Touched by His Noodly Appendage

In addition to being hilarious and starting a huge internet based movement of Flying Spaghetti Monster followers (which has actually served a productive purpose in helping empower people object to other school boards considering similar decisions in other states), it is also an incredible example of a work of satire having a greater impact than the most well written prose of reason could have.

Jonathan Swift epitomized the straight faced satirical argument with A Modest Proposal back in 1729, and it's something just not used often enough these days.

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report try (oh how they try...), but it is simply not enough. The Onion has become a satirical mainstay, which is just awesome, except for when people start quoting stuff from it not realizing what it is.....

Perhaps that is why it's so hard to come up with sufficiently good satirical pieces, people simply do not understand satire being used to make a point in this manner.

Or maybe it's just that people can't recognize it as satire any more without it being so incredibly over the top (ie- The Flying Spaghetti Monster), because of how outlandish so many REAL arguments are these days.

In which case the obvious satirical take would be the far-too-logical-and-rational, as by the state of affairs in general being so outlandish that it takes a flying glob of delicious dinner touching you with his noodly appendage to make a basic point about the ridiculousness of the state of affairs, the presentation of rational ideas must be the new satire.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Reason

I have to admit, I'm not much for the idea of predetermination in my life.

And honestly, that's where my biggest faith issues come into play, because it's just really hard for me to believe that an abstract omniscient being is somehow puppeteering people around, especially when so many things have much simpler explanations. 

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you're stupid and you make bad decisions. But hey, it's still a reason for why stuff happens.

Alternatively, sometimes the reason is that somebody else is stupid and making bad decisions. But regardless of fault, there's still the basic idea that sometimes it's not predestined for you to do stupid things, you just did them, and they caused other (presumably negative) things to happen.

Everybody has moments of genuine stupidity (granted some people may be prone to those moments a bit more frequently than others). The difference is that some stupid moments have a much more long lasting effect than others, and that has much more to do with luck than a basic quantity of stupid.

Like unintentionally getting pregnant. Or burning the house down. Or becoming addicted to heroine. Or killing someone because you tried to drive home while still buzzed from the bars.

It can literally take less than 20 minutes of being stupid to make your life change completely and irreversibly.

However, it's usually out of these unintended consequences of stupid actions that you develop and grow as a person, and without them life wouldn't have much LIFE to it.

There wouldn't be the stories of getting your car stuck in the mud, there wouldn't be the laughing over your epic cooking failures, there wouldn't be the forced personal reflection when confronted with a morally conflicting choice, there wouldn't be the confidence that comes from overcoming obstacles (even when the obstacles are ones you created for yourself).

There wouldn't be you.

Things are not predetermined or somehow destined to be a certain way. Things become the way they are by your own personal choices every single day, the good and the bad, and things never stop happening with the constant ticking forward of time being ever present.

Everything happens for a reason. Make the reason a good one.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Papa's Birthday

Last week was my father's birthday.

It was also the first birthday I really had Kristina involved with.

Up to now, I was the sort of parent who would take care of things like presents for her friends all on my own.

Ok, it was usually because I forgot about it until the last minute anyways and was grabbing something on my way out of work that day for a party the next morning, but still, it wasn't the proper parenting experience of letting her pick out presents for her friends.

So I'm working on getting better about that. She is in Kindergarten, after all.

Ok ok, so I still bought my father's gift all on my own and selected a card for him 'from the grandchildren'.

BUT I had Kristina write "love, Kristina" in it! It almost would have worked too, had she not made her L the size of the entire half of the card she was supposed to be writing it in. Ah well, this stage of her writing (or rather, her questionable ability to do so) is one of those things I'll miss once she stops, right? I remember back years ago when she used to sing the ABC song wrong, and how now it's way less endearing to hear loudly constantly correctly.

But getting back to her grandfather's birthday....

I also asked her if she wanted to wrap his present, thinking some scissors and tape on generic wrapping paper would be a fun craft to let her tackle. However, Kristina had a VERY different vision in her head when she said yes....

.........................which is how my 66 year old father received a large sparkly princess gift bag complete with no less than fifty sheets of pink and purple tissue paper crammed in on top.

Yep, it was shapping up to be quit the birthday for an old man. 

And then there was the cake.

Originally the idea of the girls and I making a Whalen-family-recipe red velvet cake for him, as it is his favorite kind, was tossed about.

However, after the logistical challenges of making a cake from scratch with two very small helpers were considered, and an almost certain death was threatened from a certain grandma in regards to our fate if we got red dye all over her kitchen (again), a chocolate cake mix seemed like a safer alternative.

............................and then Kristina really wanted to make it in the heart shaped cake pans.

I had also gotten some easy frost can frosting along with the mix, which despite not being as easy to use as I had anticipated it being, was still a big hit with Kristina.

However, while I was busy helping Kristina frost away, Adrianna managed to take the lid off of the sprinkles jar all by herself, so the middle of the cake also got an extra good dose of 2-year-old sprinkled magic.

And THEN they insisted on eating it the moment after it was declared sufficiently decorated. Happy birthday Papa!

Why Our Trampoline Has a Safety Net