Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Moxie

I’d like to introduce the newest member of our family, Moxie. She’s been living with us for a little while now, but I didn’t want to announce the good news until I knew that she would be staying. She is about 3 years old and was given up by her previous owners when they found out she was pregnant. So these classy people wouldn’t get her spayed, and then didn’t want her when she got pregnant. Nice. But their loss is our huge gain. Moxie is so sweet and fits in wonderfully with our family. I know she must miss her babies terribly, but she and I are both comforted to know that the rescue that took Moxie in adopted out all 7 of them to good homes. She gets pretty worked up when she sees puppies, but I don’t really blame her. The rescue said they fostered her and her puppies for a while at a nice home, and that Moxie kept jumping the 4-foot fence and returning with squirrels and rabbits to feed to her babies (even though they were all getting fed regularly). What a dedicated mother! And thank goodness we have a 6-foot fence.

As for her lineage, well, guesses are welcome! The rescue kept saying she is part Border Collie, and the vet says that he has no idea. She weighs about 35 pounds and is pretty lean. She has some crazy poufy hair on the top of her head which reminds me of a specific breed, but I can’t remember which one. She is such a nice color, an orangey-brown. The rescue had named her Foxy because they thought she looked like a fox, which she kind of does. I just couldn’t get on board with that name, but we wanted to keep it close sounding since she seemed to be responding somewhat to Foxy. Roxie wasn’t working for me either, and I had no clue what to do until, as usual, it was the Army Man to the rescue coming up with Moxie. I love it, and it fits her perfectly.

From what we’ve observed and what the rescue told us, it seems like Moxie wasn’t treated so well in her old home. She is pretty jumpy at sudden movements, and gets really freaked out if you move your hand by her head too quickly. I guess she used to get hit, which is so sad. I hope she’ll quickly learn that that won’t happen here. I also think she must have been kept in the garage at her old house, because she hangs out by the garage door a lot and especially wants to go in there at night. She wants nothing to do with her crate, which is making things tricky. The worst part though is that she seems scared of the Army Man, which is just silly because all he wants to do is love her and play with her. And speaking of playing, I’ve never met a dog like her that doesn’t seem to want to play. She’s perfectly content to chew on her bone all day. She does seem to have fun when we go on runs though. As far as we can tell, Moxie is totally housetrained, although she doesn’t seem to know much else. I guess my work is cut out for me!

So now we have a whole new level of excitement in our home. Laura is just in love with her, and is over her initial disappointment that we wouldn’t name the dog “Princess” or “Christmas Tree”. Moxie is so good with Laura, and tolerates all of Laura’s attention so gracefully. Laura is gentle and sweet with Moxie, although jealousy has already reared its ugly head, when Laura pitifully told me today at the vet that she knows I love Moxie the best. Poor thing! A quick snuggle and me telling Laura that I loved her the best (in secret, so we didn’t hurt Moxie’s feelings) seemed to put everything right.

I did my best to get some pictures of Moxie to include, but apparently I am completely incompetent when it comes to photographing dogs. You’ll have to put up with a few slightly blurry pictures, but hopefully you get the idea. And she has an ear infection and is getting drops, so that is why the fur by her ears looks so weird. The drops smell so bad, and she hates them (of course), which makes for quite the crash course in doggie ownership!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kids These Days

The Army Man was playing with Laura a few days ago when he made a surprising discovery-graffiti on our fence. Graffiti is not unheard of in our neighborhood (we’re right by a middle school and a high school), and this graffiti seemed pretty tame compared to some stuff we’ve seen. What was weird about this was that the graffiti was done from inside our backyard. You read that correctly. Graffiti in my own backyard. Now that’s weird.

We have a decent sized fence around our backyard, and we padlock the back gate and one of the side gates. The other side gate we keep closed but unlocked since that is our way in and out of the backyard, and it gets opened several times a week. So a kid must have opened that gate, snuck into our backyard, and wrote on one board of our fence. I was a bit freaked out at the thought of some huge teenager in our backyard until the Army Man pointed out that it appeared the graffiti was done in crayon and it seems like they just wrote random letters. Still not cool, but not as intimidating.

When we first moved in, we didn’t lock any of the gates and kids would cut through our backyard as a short cut on their way to school, so we’ve definitely had kids in the backyard before. I still can’t believe that kids these days would feel brave enough to walk through someone’s fenced in backyard. I also can’t believe that I just wrote “kids these days”. I suppose I’m getting old. Soon enough I’ll be sitting on my porch shaking my fist at the kids and telling them to get off my grass. In the meantime, our plan to get a dog is starting to sound smarter and smarter.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Morning

I know you all want a post from me about how our Christmas was, and I don't want to disappoint. I don't have too much time right now, but I do want to make sure to share this video of Laura when she first saw her presents. Surely we could not have scripted a better reaction from her. As for what kind of Christmas we had, as Laura loves to say: it was our favorite! Hopefully I'll be back soon with some pictures.
video

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The Army Man, Princess, and Claire wish you a very merry Christmas! Some of us are about to die from the anticipation, so I must go and attempt to calm that person. Before I go though, here are some pictures of the Princess in years past (2004, 2006, 2007 from top to bottom).

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Mostly Finished Product

Just thought I'd share an update on my quilt: the top is entirely done! When I posted about it last time, I still had the border to put on. It's on now, and I think it makes it look even better. Now it has to be quilted, something I plan on paying the big bucks to have done professionally. I've never done that before, and I'm nervous about how it will turn out. I'm pretty particular (you don't say!) so of course I'm worried that I won't like it when it's done. But I'm thinking positive, and once I'm done saving my pennies, I'll take it off to be quilted. I can't wait to share the actual finished product with all of you!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Reindeer Run

I don't know if I will ever officially feel like a runner, but completing my second 5K in one month sure is helping! Today the Army Man and I, along with Laura, participated in our first race together. The weather was very mild for this time of year, and everyone was looking very festive with their reindeer antlers on. The Army Man pushed Laura in the jogging stroller, and I'm sure glad he did, because I don't think I would have made it if I had been pushing.

The route was very pretty, and took us through the historic downtown area. I alternated between gasping for breath and drooling over all the beautiful homes. The bad part was that the course was very hilly, at least to this novice. What is it with races going straight uphill at the beginning?

I went a bit slower this time, with an official time of 37:50. That was the Army Man's time too, since he stayed with me the whole time. We all know that he could have gone a lot faster if he had wanted to! My friend Angela ran the race too, and I have to brag on her behalf for a moment-she finished in 27 minutes!!! I'm sure she will give her take on the race soon, so check out her blog sometime today for all the details. Her husband was taking pictures, so there may be some good ones later. I saw him taking pictures when I finished so we may get treated to me looking ill.

All in all, it was a lot of fun! Laura is looking cute wearing the reindeer antlers, and I just ran 3.1 miles on a Saturday morning. And I may have convinced the Army Man to treat me to a cheeseburger as my reward!

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Must Really Like The Army Man

It is a pretty well-known fact that I don’t like to cook. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t know how, or that I don’t EVER cook. I do occasionally manage to make delicious food for my family. I don’t want anyone lying awake at night, worried that the Princess and the Army Man aren’t receiving nutritious and tasty meals. Because they are (usually). Sometimes I even go above and beyond my normal realm of regular cooking, and make something really tasty. Yesterday was one of those days.

That morning, in honor of the Army Man taking (and passing!) a really hard Army test, I set out to make his favorite dessert: banana pudding pie. I was nervous, having never made it before. I certainly didn’t want to mess it up and then surprise him with a gross tasting pie! The recipe I used has you make your own pudding and meringue, so there was a lot to do. I actually had a lot of fun making it, and was on the edge of my seat to give it to him when he came home.

When he got home in the afternoon, I could barely contain myself and gave him the pie almost right away. He was really surprised when he saw it, and asked, “Where did you get that?” which shows just how frequently (ahem, never) I make things like this. I’m not sure if he believed me right away when I told him that I made it! I won’t bore you with the details of all the compliments, but suffice it to say, he LOVED it! I had some too, and I have to say, it was pretty good-and I usually don't care for banana pudding pie.

So right now, there is a partially devoured homemade banana pudding pie in my fridge, and a very happy Army Man off at work doing his Army thing. The only downside is that I was informed last night that banana pudding pie should now be a weekly treat in our home.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

High Fashion

Seeing a preschooler wearing clothes they have selected themselves is a real treat. There is such pride and confidence on the child’s part, and the outfits are fantastic. How any parent could deny this joy for their child (and for themselves!) is beyond me. This past summer, Laura really started to get serious about being the one to select her clothes. Now every morning holds such anticipation for me. What will she come up with today? Will she match or not? What color combinations will she pick? Perhaps clashing prints? Tights or socks? Will there be jewelry involved? No matter what though, she always receives compliments. One of her biggest fans is the director of her preschool who insists on being the one to get Laura out of the car in the morning so she can see that day’s outfit.

A few days ago, my friend Kim suggested that I start documenting the different outfits. A fantastic idea! I found a few older pictures and sprinkled them in with my recent documentary shots. Occasionally, she manages to actually match, but I included those pictures anyway since she’s still so cute, matching or not. So here is my Princess, in all her glory. And to shake things up a bit, I want to see how well you know Laura. I put in one picture of her in an outfit I selected. Can you guess which one it is?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Could This Be My New Downfall?

I bought these freeze-dried apples for Laura a few days ago. She hated them (of course), so I finished off the bag for her. And they rocked my world. I cannot even begin to describe how much I loved them. They are so good it should be illegal. They have become my new addiction, my drug. I went to the store today to get a few things and bought three bags. Luckily I had a few other kid-related items in my cart so it didn't seem too odd that I was buying them. And to tell the truth, I really wish I had bought about 20 bags.

Each bag says it is 1.5 apples (3.5 ounces), and each bag costs 67 cents. Two bags are already gone and I really, REALLY want to eat the last one, but that's three bags in one day, and as the Army Man said, those are some expensive apples. But I can't help myself. THEY ARE SO GOOD.
Update: I ate the third bag. I'm not ashamed to admit it. It was delicious!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Big Girl Car Seat

I'm not sure why I took so long to post this. It's practically old news at our house now, but back in November Laura finally (finally!) graduated to a big girl car seat. The poor thing had wanted one forever, but she's just so tiny and had to stay in her toddler car seat much longer than most kids her age. Well she finally meets the weight and height requirements, so I bought one with the intention of giving it to her for Christmas. Trust me, she wanted one so badly that she would have thought it was an awesome Christmas present!! But in the end I couldn't keep it from her that long and gave it to her one day after preschool.

She loves it so much and adores riding in it. If you're someone who sees Laura on a regular basis, I'm sure she's already told you about the new car seat. Maybe she's even told you a few times already! It sure is nice that this type of car seat uses the seatbelt, because now Laura can unbuckle herself and get out of the car without any help.

Look how happy she was on the day I gave it to her!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mail Time!

I love when the mail comes! It's sad to admit, but back when Laura was little it was sometimes the highlight of my day (cue the sad violins). And if I remember correctly, being the one to get the mail was a pretty big deal when I was a kid, so I'm sure that has something to do with my current obsession.

I also happen to be very fascinated with the Post Office and all of it's inner workings. I'd love to take a tour of one someday and find out what exactly goes on with sorting and delivering the mail. Are the delivery people responsible for sorting their own mail? Do they put it all in their truck at once or do they have to go back to the Post Office to get more? How does the sorting machine read handwriting? So many questions!! Yes, I really am that nerdy. The Army Man often says that when he retires from the Army he will be a postal worker, and I often dream of those days, days when he will wear really cute shorts and give me a behind-the-scenes tour of the post office.

All that being said, I have a complaint. Of course I do. I hate that we are the 7th to last house on our postal worker's route. I have to watch everyone else get their mail while I wait and wait. Today our mail came at 8:02pm. That's a long time for this mail-loving girl to wait. And that's a really, really long day for our poor postal worker who isn't even allowed to accept tips at Christmas (although I think I read somewhere that they can if it's not cash and less than $20).

Usually our mail comes at about 5 or 6, so I hope it's just taking so long lately because of the Christmas season. Our poor guy doesn't deserve to be out so late. It's cold and windy today. He should be at home enjoying his Friday night. And I wish I had gotten my mail much earlier today. After all, why should I wait in anticipation ALL DAY only to receive bills and junk mail?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Man And His Truck

The poor Army Man has never had the joy of having a new car. Last night we remedied that by buying a new truck (added bonus was the patriotic feeling we got by doing our part for the economy). We got rid of the car that has caused me nothing but heartache for 2 years (brand name held to protect the not-so-innocent) and I'm back to driving my adorable yet filthy Jetta Wagon. It has been driven by the Army Man for two years and it needs some loving attention to get it back in shape for a girl to drive it-namely soap, water, and a vacuum.

I only wish we could have bought the nicest truck on the lot for the Army Man who has had to drive my old (and pretty girly) cars for our entire marriage. Until we can afford his Mercedes SL550, he says he's happy with this. And the good news is that I still remember how to drive a stick. I drove it around the block and didn't stall once! The Army Man makes it look much easier though; he doesn't shriek at all when he drives it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bows Are 4 Year Old Bliss

Someday, if Laura accuses me of being mean to her, or not understanding her, or not making sacrifices for her, or whatever it is that teenage girls cry about, I’ll just show her this picture to prove my love for her.That’s right. You can measure my love for my daughter by these 79 cent ribbons. I personally think they’re tacky (no offense to any readers who may decorate with them!), but Laura is just in love with them and HAD to have some for our house. They seem to be the most popular Christmas decoration in our neighborhood, and every time we pass a house that has some, Laura just sighs with envy. On our run on Sunday, she kept pointing out the houses with good Christmas decorations, which inspired us (or guilted us-you decide) to do some decorating of our own. The Army Man did his manly thing on the ladder, and now we have some lights on our house. I did my womanly thing and wrapped some garland, and now our porch is decorated.

But the exterior of our house was not complete without the bows, so yesterday we went to three different stores in search of some. Finally, finally, we found some. I put them up today while Laura was at preschool, and she was thrilled when we came home. That's how much I love her-I will happily put up tacky bows to make her happy. And now we’ve got some Christmas decorations that rival our fantastic Halloween decorations. It's a win-win situation.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Laura Ballerina

Saturday night was Laura's ballet recital. There's not much to say about the recital that would do it justice, so I'll let the pictures and video speak for themselves. Her outfit was absolutely adorable, and worth every penny (although I would have preferred that it hadn't cost 6,300 pennies). Laura doesn't have any good dance DNA to draw from, so don't hold her responsible for her obvious lack of coordination. She never stood a chance with us as parents.

My favorite part of the video is Laura's enthusiasm while returning to her spot after the circle (one minute mark), and throwing her hands up in the air with such conviction. She certainly took the recital very seriously and was really committed. You have to admire that. And I was so proud of her for being so brave to get up in front of everybody and dance her heart out. There were probably at least 500 people there and she didn't let it phase her. She said she had a great time, although now she wants to go back to doing tumbling.

Here she is all dressed up at home before we left. Going in to the dress rehearsal. Practicing at the dress rehearsal.
And of course, the video. It starts out a little ways in, since you really couldn't see Laura at the beginning of the show. She is in the circle of girls on the right (the shortest one, naturally), and when she returns to her spot, you won't miss her. She's the one hopping around. She is second from the left for most of the show.

video

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Came, I Saw, I Ran

My big news today is that I successfully completed my first 5K!! I know I ran a few when I was younger, but those don't count-I was young enough that running 3 miles was no big deal. Today was a huge deal for me, the culmination of all the work I've done since I started running on September 29th. A few set-backs tried to stop me: a hurt ankle about 2 months ago, really cold weather starting about a month ago, and then of course that pesky asthma that sent me to the ER two weeks ago. I've only run twice in the past two weeks, and I'm still not feeling completely better, but I was determined to go to this race!

Angela and I arrived with plenty of time, which we spent freezing and mentally preparing. The start of the race was delayed, and while we were originally told the 5K would start 15 minutes after the 10K, it turns out that was not the case. This being a military race, a howitzer was used as the starting gun. So they shot off the howitzer, off the 10K runners went, and we stood around, wondering what the heck was going on, and letting the clock tick away. Eventually we figured out that we should be running too, and took off, passing quite a few people which was very gratifying. Angela and I ran together for a little over a mile, and then she went on ahead.

I'm very pleased to report that I finished in 34:47. My official time was 36:19, but that was because we stood there like the newbies we were, not knowing to start! Angela finished a few minutes ahead of me, close to 30 minutes if I remember correctly. I was #34 to finish in the 5K. Angela's husband was our official race photographer, and I'll try to get a few pictures from him to share. Luckily I don't think he got any of me finishing, I'm sure I looked like I was about to die!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Another Reason Not To Cook

Just as I'm finally, finally finishing up the quilt that I previously posted about, I received some beautiful new fabric for my birthday from my Mom. This fabric is so pretty that it makes me want to abandon my current quilt and only work on this one. All of it is by Amy Butler who makes some of the prettiest things ever. The line I'm using is called Midwest Modern, and the quilt should turn out pretty cute, as long as I don't mess up too badly. I'm curious how many years from now I'll be posting the picture of my finished product. For now, here's the "before" shot:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanks To My Mommy

Yes, the stories are all true. I admit to everything.

I was over three weeks late.
I was 9 pounds, 13.5 ounces.
I caused severe hemorrhage and blood loss for my mother.
I made my own grandmother miss my birth because I was so late and she had to go back home.
I was kept at the hospital for a week and was baptized there in the hospital.

On December 2, 1979, I was born in Germany to a beautiful 23 year old. She put up with me, molded me, taught me. When I catch myself sounding like her, I smile. I'd like to send a big hug and kiss across these computer lines to my Mommy. Thank you for everything.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What Exactly Is A “White Bread World”?

Speaking of awesome music, I’d like to talk about how much I love Billy Joel. I love Billy Joel and I’m proud of it, and will write it for the entire world to read. I bet if you think about it for a few minutes, you’ll realize you love him too. For me, it’s a mix of loving his music (which I do!), and nostalgia. My mom listened to him when I was a child and so many of his songs have wonderful memories for me. I remember listening to the tape of Storm Front while riding around with my family in our old Volkswagen van. I remember trying to memorize all the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (and I'm sure several of my readers will join me in reminiscing about the project in 8th grade in which we each had to research a verse from that song). I remember being touched by “Piano Man” as a child, before I was really even old enough to understand the emotions in that song. And when I hear “The Longest Time”, I always think about one of my dearest friends and all the times we sang that song in his car (you know who you are!).

One of the best things about Billy Joel's music is getting to share it with my daughter. It gives me such joy to watch her enjoying the music of my childhood. And I also happen to find it hysterical listening to my four year old sing about a "white bread world". So here's Laura, and her rendition of "Uptown Girl".
video

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's A Valid Accomplishment

I haven’t cleaned my house for days, done any Christmas decorating, exercised, or even paid attention to my family. I’ve done the least amount of cooking possible to survive. My bed is unmade and my hair is messy. But it’s all worth it, because look what I did:This is a quilt I've been working on for over three years. So you can understand why I'm so excited to share my work. The only thing dampening my excitement is the knowledge that there is still more work to be done before it's finished.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And The Worst Song in the World Is...

I was out running today and listening to the Army Man's iPod when the song "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits came on. As I listened, I thought about how much I love that song. And how much the Army Man loves that song. And how I know we must be at least kind of meant for each other by how much we both love that song. The music is just phenomenal. The song ends gloriously. There's nothing bad about the song. NOTHING.

And then I remembered a few weeks back reading a random person's blog in which she professed her extreme hatred for that wonderful song. On and on she went about how awful "Sultans of Swing" is and how there is nothing good about it. I practically tripped right there in the middle of the street, that's how distraught I was at the memory of those hateful words. But I thought, to be fair, there are a couple of songs that I can't STAND that surely some weirdo out there must love. And I'll try not to judge them too harshly if they do love one of the stupidest songs in the world.

So if you're out there, reading, and you happen to like "Bennie and The Jets" by Elton John, or "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding, that's okay. I'm happy that you like those songs. But don't ever play them within 50 feet of me. I can't be held responsible for how I may react.

And to be fair, I do like basically every other Elton John song there is. So I'm not completely oblivious to awesomeness.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Should I Even Be Surprised?

Those of you who know me won't be surprised that this eventually happened for Laura.
After another weekend full of coughing, throwing up, and waking up all night long, I took Laura off to the doctor today. The diagnosis is asthma, although not officially (yet). That diagnosis can't be given until we use the nebulizer machine for two weeks. So we were sent home with a nebulizer machine, my old standby from childhood. They are much smaller these days though. My first one was the size of a small sewing machine; Laura's is more the size of a can opener.

I feel highly negligent in not recognizing Laura's asthma, since I have suffered my entire life from it. But Laura has never wheezed, gasped for breath, or even remotely acted as though she can't breathe. All she does is cough and wake up at night, constantly. She's been like that since she was born, and I finally accepted it as my lot in life that I just wouldn't be sleeping through the night again until 2022. But apparently coughing is often the number one sign of asthma in children, and wheezing is frequently never even an issue. Who knew? I'm just glad that I got a little push in the right direction today from a good friend, and hopefully Laura's problems will soon be under control. And hopefully when she's older she won't see this blog post and know that I let her suffer for so long!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Just Another Day at the Office

One of the Army Man’s favorite parts about being in the Army is that he gets to jump out of planes. Luckily they give him a parachute, so don’t worry about that. He has been so busy in school that he hasn’t jumped for over a year, so you can understand why he was eager to do so as soon as possible. Saturday was the lucky day. Laura and I drove out to the drop zone to see him jump, something we’ve only done once before, and this time was particularly cool. The plane the soldiers were jumping out of was much smaller than normal, so the jump was handled entirely on the drop zone. The plane would land directly on the drop zone, collect a few soldiers, take off, push them out the door, land, and start over again. So we got to see the Army Man get on the plane, take off, and jump.

As usual he did a great job and even managed not to get injured or fall into a swamp like he occasionally does. Laura was terrified of the noise from the plane (see my previous post about her not liking loud noises) and ran screaming every time the plane landed. Despite dealing with that, I still managed to get a few good pictures. You’ll have to take my word for it that the Army Man is in fact in some of these pictures. My camera zoom is only so powerful.

Here I am with the Army Man before the jump. Isn't he cute?The very small plane.

Getting onto the plane. The Army Man is fifth from the left.

Falling to the ground. The Army Man is on the top right. Coming off the drop zone. And last one: handing his helmet off to Laura.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm Here to Pump You Up

So, today started out as a great day. I got woken up by Laura (who was in a great mood for once) and even had my hair combed in bed by my personal hairdresser. Laura and I went out to lunch, and then drove to watch the Army Man do his Army thing (more about that tomorrow). After that though, the day veered from my plans. I had a really rough day on Friday health-wise, and although I felt good this morning, I went downhill quickly in the afternoon. I hemmed and hawed about what I should do until the Army Man told me he had had enough of my whining, and basically, get thee to the Emergency Room. So off I went.

I spent four and a half hours there, but it was totally worth it. I got three breathing treatments, three steroids, and a doctor hitting on me. I left with more steroids, some other random medications, and the ability to breathe. Not too shabby. The Army Man and I even managed to squeeze in a quick date by going out to dinner after I got home. The only downside to all the medication is a very jittery feeling and the desire to go lift some weights.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Pilgrims Are Coming to Celebrate

Well it was the Army Man to the rescue last night! My computer is fixed and now I can post a picture from Laura's Thanksgiving feast. Too bad when I promised a picture I didn't realize that all of the pictures I took turned out horribly. I guess the lighting was bad or something. But I figured I'd post the best one anyway, so you can see Laura in her feather headdress and the shirt she decorated. Each child got to choose a Native American name, and thus Laura became "Princess Flower". I thought it was pretty appropriate. Her class learned a short song which they sang for the parents. And by sang, I mean they all stood there and whispered, looking shy. I don't think Laura said a single word. Which is interesting, since her teacher told me after the feast that Laura is her most dramatic kid, and provides most of the daily classroom drama. I guess that just doesn't translate into stage ability.I got to hear the song (very loudly) all day long after we left school, so there was no question that she actually did know it. We reenacted the song this morning, which I caught a clip of. Of course, the second I turned on the camera, the singing became much quieter. Turn up your volume a tiny bit and enjoy Laura's singing!
video

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Woe Is Me

Today I planned on treating you all to a wonderful post all about the Thanksgiving feast that I went to at Laura's preschool. Instead I am sick and dealing with a broken computer. Luckily the Army Man has a laptop, which I am secretly using right now. He's very generous to ignore me while I sneakily log on right in front of him. But I like my computer, and I miss it. I don't know how to load photos onto this one, so it would be pointless to write about the feast without including a picture.

How is it that in this day and age of computers that can practically tie your shoes for you, did I manage to buy one back in July and have to deal with it breaking already? Especially when it was gone most of October getting a new hard drive put in since that broke? And especially when it broke again about two weeks after it came home? It just doesn't seem fair. But I guess this should all make sense to me, since we are currently dealing with problems in both of our cars, a recently broken oven, a digital camera that broke (although I did drop it), and the Army Man's defective cell phone. Luckily the toaster still works.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

V-22 Osprey

On our run yesterday, the Army Man and I got a real treat: we saw a V-22 Osprey flying overhead. This tilt-rotor aircraft can essentially be flown as a helicopter or airplane and is currently used by the Marines. No ideas as to why one was out our way, but it was flying pretty low and was very impressive looking. Unfortunately we didn't have our camera on the run, but I'm including a picture from the Internet for those who don't know what they look like.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Momentary Relief

Can you believe what you are seeing here? Gas for $1.88??? It is such a relief to be able to fill up my car and not pay over $50. Now keep in mind that I drive a mid-size sedan, not an SUV or anything. This entire summer it just boggled my mind that it would cost around $55 just to fill up my car! But before you get too jealous of these low prices, keep in mind that those of us here in the Southeast had to deal with a lot this summer: high prices due to Hurricane Ike, long lines at gas stations, gas shortages, and even outages. Unleaded gas abandoned us for about 5 days. Some of us even got yelled at by crazy people at the gas station. Gas was well over $4 for quite a while, going as high as $5.49 at one station (although they later received a fine for price gouging). So this momentary relief is much appreciated. Photo Credit: The Army Man (who I forced to take this picture)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Art of Camouflage

The Army Man doesn't takes naps like a regular person. He is camouflaged while doing it. It's almost as if there is no one on the couch!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

She Just Doesn't Like Loud Noises

We had a really big storm last night, complete with thunder, lightning, and torrential rain. I could tell it was a big storm because the Army Man woke up, something which usually requires me jumping up and down on him to accomplish. He went downstairs to check everything out so I figured I would go check on Laura. She was wide awake, curled up in a tiny little ball; face down on her pillow with her fingers in her ears. Poor little thing! She informed me that she just doesn’t like loud noises. Now there’s an understatement. She was so pathetic that she came to sleep in our bed for a while, something virtually unheard of in this house.

As Laura laid there in bed with us, kicking me in the back and reminding me why she never sleeps in our bed, I started thinking about her and how weird it feels to finally understand parts of her personality. Laura is very sensitive, something which took a while to figure out. I’m not talking about emotionally sensitive, although Laura definitely is, but sensitive physically. I’m sure plenty of parents deal with what we do, and I feel for them. Laura is such a sweet girl but can be very challenging in an unconventional sense. Trying to be patient as she freaks out over wearing a certain shirt because it “hurts” her is hard. Tags in clothes are an absolute disaster. Constantly searching for her three lost pairs of sunglasses because the sun is “attacking” her eyes is hard. Eating is a struggle too-lots of foods taste weird or feel funny in her mouth. Her hair is always in her eyes “bothering” her. She refuses to see movies in the theaters because it’s too loud. If anything smells remotely weird-well forget it, because that’s a disaster too and will ruin her day. If she is in trouble and told in a firm voice to go upstairs, she collapses in a sobbing heap. She always seems to get hurt and it always seems to hurt "really bad". The hardest part for me with all of this is that it is very difficult to calm her down and get her to move on when she has gotten worked up over something. Most days include several catastrophes that involve her screaming and crying and me trying to remain calm. That usually doesn't work out.

About two years ago, I read a book about challenging children because I really had no idea what was going on with Laura and why she just never seemed happy and why I was always frustrated with her. There was a section about “Highly Sensitive” children and reading it was as if someone wrote a book about just Laura. It talked about how some children (and adults) have senses that are much more heightened than a normal person and that it doesn’t help that these people are often emotionally sensitive too. I’m not going to claim that reading that book helped me figure out how to be a perfect mother to Laura. In fact, I don’t know if it helped me at all. Maybe I should go read it again. But it is such a relief to know that occasionally, when Laura says, “I just don’t like loud noises,” I can take her into my bed, snuggle her, calm her down, and feel like maybe I’m not such a bad Mommy after all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Summertime and the Living Was Easy

Having a blog is a lot of pressure! I have already proven to myself what I knew to be true: my life is boring. I don’t really mind; I keep busy and have a lot to do, but not a lot of it merits being written about, much less posted for everyone to read. In a way having this blog is nice. I’ve tried to spice up my life a bit so I can have things to write about! But today won’t be one of those days. I’m stuck at home waiting for the oven repair man to arrive and tell me that my oven needs a new heating element since my current heating element is broken. I have a pretty good feeling the part will need to be ordered. Perhaps it will even be on back-order. Who knows? Exciting stuff, I tell you!

So I decided that such a dreary, boring day like today was a good day to find a cute picture from this summer and post it so we can all feel summery and warm, and remember the good ol’ days when my oven wasn’t broken and I could make whatever I wanted for dinner.
Look at that cute little girl! And that green, green grass. And those beautiful zinnias! I feel better already.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Made You Say Underwear!!

Laura learned a new joke from the Army Man last night. Listening to her try to tell it is hysterical. The joke goes like this:

“Where are the presents?”
“I don’t know. Where are they?”
“Under there!”
“Under where?”
“Ha Ha, I made you say underwear!!”

Of course since Laura is 4 the underwear part is the best part and she always rushes the joke trying to get to that part. In fact, she usually just skips the middle part and jumps straight to saying “underwear!” even though she was trying to get Daddy to say it. I guess she is just too excited to let the joke play out. I tried to record her and I think she was a little self-conscious in this video, but you get the point.

video

My Non-Curtains

Most of you have probably already seen the pictures of my kitchen window makeover, but I figured I would share them again. Back in July I was inspired by The Nester to "mistreat" my windows. This doesn't involve abuse, or even harsh words. You can read all about it here. She has a wonderful website which is constantly trying to convince me that things don't have to be perfect to be beautiful. With that in mind, I took some beautiful Amy Butler fabric I had recently purchased and cut it, hemmed it a tiny amount, and tacked it above my kitchen window with decorative tacks. Yes, it really was that easy. I'm not going to claim that it looks professional, but it adds a nice touch to the room, and it makes me happy when I look at my window.
I'd say these don't really even qualify as curtains. But whatever they are, they are super cute. And to prove that things don't have to be perfect, you can see in this picture they aren't even straight. Although me being me, I couldn't live with that and did end up fixing them. But no matter! I happily provide these pictures as proof that anyone can do something easy and quick to pretty up their home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Would You Like Some Cookies With That Punch?

Eavesdropping on little kids is one of the best things in the world. I love to listen to Laura talk to her dolls, or read a story, or even better, play with somebody. Last night I was listening to Laura and Daddy playing “Punch”, which is just what it sounds like-they punch each other. Laura created this game which usually starts out with Laura saying, “Hey Daddy, let’s play Punch” and then punching him without any warning. Luckily he is the Army Man and he can take it. For some reason though, he never seems to be able to punch Laura back which she just loves. Last night’s game seemed pretty tame compared to past versions and I was listening to Laura laughing and jumping until Daddy accidentally bonked Laura. She stopped him and said, “Daddy, I am supposed to punch hard and you are supposed to punch gently”. I see she has it all figured out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Can Something Break From Underuse?

It wouldn't really be fair to say that I hate my oven. It's very nice looking and has a smooth top range which is actually pretty cool. I just don't like using it since using it means that I am cooking something. And we all know how I feel about cooking. So apparently my oven had had enough of me ignoring it and used Sunday afternoon as a chance to get my attention.

I was actually planning on cooking something for lunch, and was preheating the oven when I heard a noise that sounded like water boiling over. I'm good enough at cooking to know that there shouldn't be any noises at all when an oven is only preheating, but at the same time it didn't really concern me. About 15 seconds later, the Army Man who was diligently playing video games with Laura, called to me that he thought he saw a "flash" in the oven. I went to check it out and saw that the inside of the oven was aglow! It was the heating element on the bottom that was glowing, but only in one spot, and it almost looked like it was melting. I discerned all this while the oven was closed and I figured sooner or later I would have to open the door and check it out. I wasn't too concerned, since I am my father's daughter and have had my fire extinguisher waiting under my kitchen sink since the day we moved in.

Opening the oven door was rather anticlimactic. A little bit of smoke came out, but that was it. The Army Man and I were standing there trying to figure out what had happened when the heating element sizzled a bit more and then snapped! So that's what I get for not using my oven: a broken oven.
Please don't be concerned, my oven is not actually this dirty. The heating element spit a lot of stuff around while it was melting. So now not only does my oven need fixed, but I have to clean it too. Great. I wonder how quickly I need to get it repaired before people start complaining.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I've Been Known to Read a Book or Two

I found this list on another website, Through a Glass, Darkly. The claim, which hasn't been verified by anyone, is that the National Endowement for the Arts (the Big Read people) believes that the average American has only read six books on this list. I've never claimed to be average, so let's just see which ones I've read. I put them in bold.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien-I've seen the movies
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte-I've started it
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (not entirely, so I won't claim it!)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare-Not all of them, but quite a few
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell-I've seen the movie
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy-Started it
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen-I've started it
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez-I've started it
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett-
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray-I've seen the movie
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I'm greatly relieved that I've read more than 6...but only 28??? That was a bit shocking! The good news is that I've at least heard of most of them. It looks like I've got my future reading cut out for me.

My Blog is Beautiful!!

I may be new to blogging, but that didn't stop me from being green with envy over all the beautiful blogs out there. I'm also completely clueless when it comes to HTML (although I did actually figure it out enough to alter my pictures a bit) so I knew there was no hope for me ever sprucing up my blog on my own. Two nights ago I stumbled across this website: http://deliciousdesignstudio.com/ and now you can all see for yourselves the result of that fortunate encounter. I think my new design is fantastic. What do you think?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

But I'm Not Being Bad

Laura woke up early this morning. Very early. So early that we had time to completely get ready for school, eat pancakes for breakfast, play with toys, watch an episode of Clifford (unheard of in the morning at our house!) and still get to school 10 minutes early. When we got to school, there was only one other family there, something we usually don't experience. Laura asked why we were there so early, and I replied, "We got here early because you woke up so early young lady!" Laura looked at me, appalled, and said, "But I'm not being bad! Young lady is for when I'm in trouble!" Very astute for a four year old.

And on that note, here is a picture of how Laura dressed herself this morning. So that we don't forget she is only four.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Turn Up The Volume

I know I complain about my car a lot, but there is one thing about it I love: the volume control on the steering wheel. Is it because I'm the safest driver ever and don't want my hands to leave the steering wheel? Or is it because I'm just that lazy and can't reach all the way over to the regular volume knob? I'd prefer not to answer but I think you all can guess what the true reason is. The point is, I love that tiny little arrow on my steering wheel that allows me to control the volume of my music. When Laura complains she can't hear the Backyardigans, I just crank it on up. If I think Laura may fall asleep, I can turn the music all the way down, or even use the super-handy mute button (alas, she never falls asleep). When Laura is being grouchy, I can just turn the music up and drown her out (kidding).

But I didn't realize just how much I relied on my volume control until a few days ago. I had picked Laura up from preschool and she was telling me about her day. She was going into great detail, telling me about what injustices had occured to her (lots, apparently), who got in trouble (not her), who the line leader was (not her, sadly), and was talking in the small, quiet voice that she gets sometimes. I muted the music to hear her better, but I still couldn't hear her, so I did what came naturally: I used my volume control to turn up the volume. On my daughter. For some weird reason it didn't work.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Laura the Voter

Once the political signs began to crop up in yards throughout our neighborhood, the Army Man and I found ourselves with a new little voter on our hands. Laura is now probably as well-versed in politics and voting as a good portion of adults in America, thanks to her incessant questions. She actually seems pretty clear on the whole concept of the President, which is weird but cute.

Today of course was a very exciting day for her and she had a great time pointing out polling places to me as we drove around today. I voted while she was at school and she pumped me for so many details when I picked her up that I'm starting to regret not taking her with me. But I don't feel too bad since Laura also got a chance to vote today.

In the Hay Street Preschool 2008 Dessert Election, the stakes between Ice Cream and Cake were high. Each candidate promised to serve the public by bringing deliciousness to the people, but beyond that the two candidates were quite different.

Cake doubted Ice Cream's experience as the main dessert.
Ice Cream campaigned on a platform of change.

Laura told me proudly that she voted for Ice Cream. The results of the election are not yet final. And Laura wants to know where her ice cream is.

Who Is This Girl?

I've changed so much as of late that I'm starting to worry that some of you may not recognize me. I don't mean I look any different (although my hair is different-thanks to Angela for reminding me of that!). I have undertaken new things in my life, all things that I am really enjoying but never once foresaw myself doing. The tally so far is:

1. Blogging. I blog now. Weird.
2. Running. I run now. Double weird.

And the newest change, which may be the most shocking of all:
Yes, that is a cup of coffee you see there on my dashboard. But don't worry, it's not just regular coffee. I'm not that far gone yet. It's a Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha and it is delicious. If this is what 2008 has done to me, I wonder what will happen in 2009?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote

This is my obligatory reminder to go vote tomorrow! But I'm sure you all were going to even without me telling you to.

The Truth Hurts

The Army Man has been very supportive of my new blog and even went so far as to find a strip from his favorite comic for me to post. Don't worry, Rat is not supposed to represent the Army Man. Saving money is not a priority for me either.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween

Halloween has come and gone and we all lived to tell the tale. There was laughter, shrieks of happiness, lots of candy, and a colossal temper tantrum. I’ll give you all the details so there’s no confusion over whose temper tantrum it was.

Overall, it was a great day and a huge success. Laura got to wear her costume to school which was essentially heaven on earth for her. At school they made spooky masks (just the ticket to complete the overall spookiness in our home) and got treats from their teacher. Then Laura got to spend the afternoon with her friend before going to a trunk-or-treat at a church near our house. This was the scene of Laura’s victory for the night: she ate an entire hot dog (with mustard). I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Laura actually finish a meal so this was big news for our family. Laura got to do some trick-or-treating from car to car (hence the trunk part of the trunk-or-treat) and even played a few games. We ate some popcorn and then headed back to our neighborhood for even more trick-or-treating.
Laura and the Army Man went out together and left me in charge of passing out the candy. There were lots of good costumes-my favorite being a kid on a skateboard in regular clothes. He was a skateboarder of course! Laura stayed out a long time and collected a lot of candy. She had so much fun and really enjoyed helping me pass out candy once she got back home.

For those who guessed that the temper tantrum was courtesy of Laura, you are of course correct. I’m guessing that Laura became a victim of the old standby of too much excitement. That turned Laura into a screaming, stomping, yelling demon child who actually held onto a doorjamb in an attempt to avoid being bodily removed to her bed. But let's not focus on that. Instead, here's Laura in her spooky mask being cute.