Thursday, May 24, 2012

First Grade, Facials and Bunny Frenzy!

It's amazing how much can change in a mere nine months. In the short time since Emily started kindergarten in August, she's learned how to read, to add and subtract, she has lost four teeth, and she is now tall enough to ride the Mamba at Worlds of Fun when we go next month. She won't do it because she would totally freak out, but she could if she wanted to!

Yesterday, my "baby" girl official became a first grader! First grade summer school starts in a little over a week, so there isn't much time off until then. While I'd love for her to have a full summer to just hang out and enjoy life, it's a little bit cheaper to send her to summer school for a month instead of a babysitter. Lucky for us all, she really enjoys school and is looking forward it.

With Emily getting an early release from school on her last day, I took half the day off with the intention of doing something fun. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, during a trip to the dentist, they discovered her first cavity, so we scheduled her filling for after school. Emily loves going to the dentist and actually handled it great! They started with the nitric oxide, and while I was hoping to get a video I could post on YouTube, I was informed that those videos were a bit exaggerated.  Darn it! When it came time to doing all the actual work (the numbing, the shot and the actual procedure) I was a bit worried, knowing her low tolerance for pain, but she was a real trooper!

After her dentist appointment, I surprised her with an at-home facial using avocado, banana and yogurt! (She actually said it tasted good and requested that I save the rest for her to eat. It's in the fridge, but will probably be trashed soon.)

Once applied, we completed the experience with cucumber slices -- because what real face spa treatment would be complete without cucumbers? 

To complete the experience, I turned the radio to some smooth jazz and we settled in for 20 minutes of relaxation!  Shortly after saying "I don't like to really relax," someone (I won't name names, but she's a new first grader) fell asleep!

After our facials, we moved on to a mani/pedi for Emily, complete with a soothing foot rub, glittery bubble gum scented polish (or so said the label, but I disagree) and Hello Kitty nail stickers!  Just as we were finishing our mini spa day, the door opened and in came the boys!

Dinner was soon served (waffles for Brendan, quesadillas for us girls) and following dinner, I decided to water the desert that is our front "lawn" (which is really just crab grass, weeds and dirt). When Emily figured out what I was doing, she opted to abandon her Barbie movie and popcorn in order to join me outside. It was a BEAUTIFUL night, and soon the whole family was enjoying the warm breeze and the setting sun.  Emily was thrilled when our neighbor came outside, and it wasn't long before she shot across the street to play hula hoop and run (in full clothes) through the sprinkler.  

Brendan stayed with us, playing with his bubbles.

But that wasn't the end of the excitement!

The neighbors two houses down have two cats that they apparently don't want in the house. They are constantly terrorizing the birds in and around our yard and are quite annoying. Tonight, one of them found a baby bunny and chased it across the street into our yard. Thankfully for the baby bunny, Kevin took off after the cat to scare it away, and it worked. Unfortunately for us, the bunny decided to take refuge in our garage.

The upside to the whole situation is that Kevin had to move everything to try to find the bunny, which led to the discovery of a box of extra kitchen tiles! This is THRILLING for me because we have a couple of tiles that are tore up and need replaced, and I was about to go buy some non-matching pieces just to get it done. Now I don't have to! But I do need to find the time and figure out how replace them!

All in all, it was another great day. Nothing extraordinary. Nothing worthy of great fanfare. Just one more day to be thankful for all that we have, including replacement tiles, bunny-less (and now a cleaner) garage, and yet another day to remember to love the little things!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just a Personal Note...

Initially, this post was part of my weekend in review, but I wanted to separate it from the original post for two reasons:
  1. It made the other unbearably long; and
  2. I didn't want any of it (this post or the weekend in review) to get lost. 
Last week I did a pretty big thing -- I posted a link to my blog on my Facebook page! That might seem like a small thing, but really, for me it was a big thing.  

I've posted links to my writing before, but that was usually when I was writing about NASCAR for, or the other auto racing related things I've done.  But that was different.  I've always felt very confident in my ability to write about racing, or to interview drivers and then tell their stories, but a blog is a different thing altogether. 

Blogs, if they are done well, are extremely personal by nature and can leave the blogger very venerable. In other words, it's a very scary thing to put yourself and your life out there in a way that leaves you open for criticism, embarrassment and ridicule. But I believe that you have to take risks and get out of your comfort zone if you really want to achieve anything. 

So that is my goal with this blog. To not be afraid to be myself, say what I feel, laugh if I want to, cry if I want to...and if it's boring to some, or even to all, that's okay. I'm now writing this blog for me. In the past, I think I've always written for the people I hoped would be reading it. Truth is, I now want to write this blog for me, and if someone else finds it interesting and enjoyable to read, I will be ecstatic to share my life's journey with them.  

For me, this is now a way to remember my life, both the big and small moments, because they can be so easily forgotten in all the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I also want to share my thoughts on other things that interest me.  So my new plan for this blog is just to be me. Unapologetic. Uncensored. Always honest.

Just a Typical Weekend in the life... (Weekend In Review)

Since my last post in which I described how my heart fell into my stomach when I heard my daughter's surprised reaction to me saying I'd play with her, I've really tried to make a sincere effort to change the way I spend time with my kids.

On Friday, after work and picking up the kids, we discovered that Emily received her results from the  pre-reading skills assessment she took earlier this year. 27 out 30 right, higher than 98% of all kids in the nation! To celebrate, we let Emily pick the restaurant (Chick-Fil-A) and then made a visit to Dairy Queen. With 2 1/2 days left in her kindergarten career, it just amazes me how much she has learned in just nine months. The girl who pretty much couldn't read more than a few words when school started just read an entire chapter of "The Adventures of Bowser the Hound" to her dad last night before bed. 

Saturday was a relatively lazy day, as I spent the first few hours of the day my favorite way -- lounging around on the back deck, enjoying the morning air before the heat really kicked in.  I sat and watched the gray clouds rolling in the sky, trying to decide if they were going to drench us or not, the kids alternating between playing outside and watching cartoons inside. Eventually the kids and I got moving and made it to the graduation open house of the son of a good friend of mine and hung out for an hour or so, as both kids managed to drop baked ziti all over their clothes; Emily on her white dress. We returned home and the kids watched Cars as I ran errands  When I returned, I made cheese quesadilla's for the kids as they played in the backyard.  After dinner, I finally made homemade popcorn, using a brown paper bag and popcorn kernels we bought over a year ago, but never used. I didn't know until recently that you could actually pop regular kernels in your microwave, and it was a tasty little discovery. So much so that when Emily was going to bed she said, "Thank you for making us popcorn. You're the best mama ever!"  Nothing makes me feel better than hearing her say that to me.

Sunday I ran out of the house before the rest of the family so I could get to church and help set up for the Sunday School picnic. Once set up, I joined the rest of the family for the sermon and the rest of the service, then headed down for fried chicken and fabulous side dishes. It was a small turnout, but the kids had so much fun playing in the playground with their friends, and as always we enjoyed hanging out with our friends. When we returned, I did something I don't think I've done for a long time -- took a nap! It was short, but it was just what I needed to push me through the rest of the day!  

The remainder of the day was filled with fun! I finally followed through on a promise I had made Emily a few weeks ago following her school carnival and painted her face.  A purple butterfly (butterfly's are Em's newest obsession thanks to school) on one cheek and a bright pink cross on the other.

Of course, Brendan wanted in on the action, and after thinking it over for a few minutes, he decided he wanted a tiger on one cheek and a sun on the other. And don't laugh. Tigers are harder than you would think.

After the face painting festivities were complete, dinner was served -- leftover spaghetti for the kids, fried chicken for me --then cotton candy snow cones and a nice walk around the neighborhood.  When we returned, it was time for Emily's bath, but Brendan and I hung around outside a bit longer making chalk drawings.

Brendan had a few special requests for me, including him and Emily, complete with their face paint!

 Once inside, after Brendan's bath and a little relaxing down time, I sat with Brendan on the couch for about 20 minutes before bed, talking to him about the day. He also amazes me with how far he's come in his speaking in just the last six months. I haven't really sat and just talked with him recently, but I think this might be something I do a lot more of.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Comment From My Daughter That Changed Me -- I Hope

The other day, a friend on Facebook linked to a blog that caught my attention. I read the post and a bit of the blog, which was about how we, as parents, can risk missing out on so much of our children's lives -- so many of the little moments -- because we are so engrossed in our own lives, mini-drama's, projects, electronic devices, etc. We spend so much time with our cell phones, computers, tablets, social media, etc., that we don't spend real time with our kids. We don't play with them, or just sit and talk to them as much as we should. Maybe you don't fall into the category, but unfortunately, I do. I'll reluctantly admit it. I'm not as bad as some people I know or have seen, but I am guilty. And the proof hit me smack in the face later that evening.

After picking the kids up from daycare and school, we pulled into our garage. I noticed Emily looked a bit sad and asked her what was wrong. 

"I wish I could go over to Zoie's [our neighbor girl] and play," she replied.

"Well, I was thinking WE could play," I said.

And with surprise in her voice she said something that made my heart sink.

"YOU will PLAY?!?!?!"

And there it was. Proof that I may just be risking missing out on important moments with my kids. Proof that I don't spend the kind of time with my kids as I should.  So that night, after dinner, we went outside and we played.

Hopscotch! Or our version of it, anyway.

Brendan was there too, but he wasn't quite sure how to play.

 And last night, we made time for each other again, this time with a little Frisbee in the backyard (although cheap, $1 "flying discs" from Target don't really work all that well) and an evening wagon ride around the block.

I hope this new "revelation" will stick with me. I realize there are going to be times when the kitchen needs to be cleaned, the laundry needs to be done, things need to be organized, books need to be read, and blogs need to be written -- it can't always be ignored.  But they are only young once, and quoting one of my newest blog/writer obsessions, "The days are long, but the years are short."  There are those times when I need to remember that these are the moments that I don't want to miss. 

Where I need to remember to celebrate and love the little things.