June 29, 2011

Challenger Soccer Week: Keeping Busy...

We've been having a great time this week, hosting our Challenger Soccer Coaches, Adam & Kellie.

Adam has worked Challenge camps previously, and has probably done more traveling of the States than I have. Kellie, on the other hand, is enjoying her first visit Stateside.

Both are assigned to a Midwest region for the summer, so they've been coaching so far in Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.

Anyway, Sassy has been enjoying camp a lot so far. She's one of the youngest and definitely the smallest, but she's hanging in there. They have such neat drills and games, and I think we will gain a lot of experience over the week.

Tink has been such a good sport. It breaks my heart a little every time I see her watch from afar...

But, she's been taking it all in stride, and having a GREAT time with Kellie & Adam when we're all together. She's been given a bit of special treatment at camp, too, like being allowed to participate int he last game of the session and things like that.

The challenge for me has been trying to figure out what the heck to do to keep us busy. These guys have had the opportunity to stay in some really nice places and do some pretty incredible things with their host families. I'm trying to provide opportunities here to keep us on par.

I have a feeling the little kids are going to run these big kids ragged this week. Hope they came prepared!

Monday after camp, we enjoyed a little get together with Tom, Lynzee and the girls. I made some Asian Lettuce Wraps and peanut butter pasta and we headed off to The Alley for some bowling, followed by a frozen treat at Orange Leaf. If any one's keeping track, yes, that means we went there two days in a row. Adam proclaimed it the best ice cream {yogurt} he's ever had. Success!!

Of course, I brought my camera with. Unfortunately, I forgot to change my battery after the recital, and had no spare. Sad. You'll have to take our word for it that we had a fun time!

Yesterday, Sassy attended camp in the morning while I did a bit of work from home. After camp and lunch, we headed out west to Palace West in hopes of catching Rio, but it was sold out! That's what we get for trying to catch a deal, I guess... Instead, we went to the mall- Adam & Kellie wanted to do a bit of shopping and the girls love playing in the little play area.

While I prepared dinner, Sassy & Tink had Kellie coloring away. I'm pretty sure they're wrapping her tighter and tighter around those little chubby fingers as the days go on...

I made taco salad, spanish rice, and quesadillas for dinner, and we played int he backyard and enjoyed an adult beverage or two.

It was quite a beautiful night and we figured we'd best enjoy it considering an inferno is heading our way...

The girls showed off their monkey skills as we adults, well...

Tink kept Adam thoroughly entertained with stories and pig snorts.

And Kellie taught the girls some new tricks. I am always impressed when Tink can catch on to these motor activities loads faster than Sassy. Weird.

After baths, we had a movie/popcorn party in the basement and watched Toy Story 3 together.

It's been fun so far! I'm taking suggestions for must-sees in town, unique experiences, or really anything to stay out of the 106 degree weather... ideas???

June 28, 2011

WIR: VBS & Lots of other stuff...

OK, here's another quick week in review...

Last week, Sassy attended VBS at Chapel Hill with several of her friends from the mommy group. She had so SO much fun. The theme was Hometown Nazareth: Where Jesus Was A Kid. She learned a lot, made some new friends, and had a blast!

I could not have done it without the help of my friend, Alyssa. She helped me out at the beginning of the week while I had ARC Instructor Training. I had previously been a Red Cross instructor, but let my certification lapse after college, so I had to get re certified to teach for PAT and some other local organizations. Anyway, I dropped Sassy off early in the morning to make it to my training on time. Alyssa carted all the kids to VBS, picked them up, took them to Sonic, took them swimming, made them lunch, entertained them with crafts, etc. A HUGE thanks to her!

I hosted a Thirty-One Gifts party Wednesday evening at our house. OMG, I realized how small my house is! I had a really good turnout, and I felt so bad that I didn't have room for everyone to be comfortable! I can't wait for all of our stuff to come in!

Friday, Tink & I joined Sassy at VBS for a picnic lunch. Sassy was so proud of all of her goodies. It was great!

Friday evening, following an afternoon of swimming, we celebrated the end of T-Ball at the team picnic at Main Street Park. We did a potluck, and the kids were thrilled to receive their trophies... even our injured friends!

Saturday, we met with a few PAT families down in Winfield for a park play date. I love their park! It was hotter than blazes, really too hot to be playing outside, but we still had a good time.

Sassy wasn't feeling great because, and I was trying to cheer her up. She's been asking me for-ever to use my camera (she has a keen interest in photography... that's my girl!), so I finally let her try it out. I set the settings for her and showed her how to do it. She could barely hold the camera up and reach the button at the same time, but here are her first attempts at DSLR photography... not bad!

We all packed picnics and enjoyed each other's company.

After the park, we all attended Miss J's 5th birthday at the roller rink in Winfield. Neither of the girls had been roller skating before.

It was pretty EPIC.

Tink was a mess on wheels. Thank goodness they allowed us parents to go out without skates and help. After a while, Tink decided it was much more enjoyable to just run around like a crazy kid, sans wheels. Sassy & LMB rocked their crazy roller skating socks like rock stars!

Even Graycop got out there and showed us what he's made of!

It was a really fun time!

Sunday, Tyler had a side job and the girls and I went to LMB and LuLu's dance recital through The Movement Authority at Century II. The girls did great!

LMB performed a jazz/tap routine to Hot, Hot, Hot.

LuLu performed a tap routine {as a pink bunny} to Animal Crackers in My Soup. It was adorable!

I wish I would have been able to get more pictures of the girls afterwards, including the adorable pillowcase dresses my girls were wearing from the Leah LaRae sale we attended, but my camera battery ran out, and I had no back-up on me. Gasp!

Which means there are also no pictures of our {delicious} celebratory trip to Orange Leaf, either.

After the recital and frozen treat, we headed home to meet our soccer coaches and bring them back to the house. I haven't scared them off with a million pictures thus far, but we've been having a great time! Looking forward to the remainder of the week.

June 27, 2011

Hostess with the Mostess?

That's a title I've never proclaimed for myself.

I wish I could plan parties like these.

I wish our house was decorated like these.

I wish I could cook like her or her.

I can't. It's not. I can't.

Nevertheless, we are hosting house guests this week! We've taken on 2 of Sassy's Challenger Soccer Camp coaches from England, and I am doing my best to make their little middle-of-nowhere Kansas experience a great one!

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. I'm still working this week. Ty's working, of course. We have had some extended family stuff come up (another post) and my parents will be leaving for Wisconsin early tomorrow morning, so no child care this week. Oh, and I have a (now solo) trip to Chicago to get ready for by Saturday.

{Let the pity party ensue...}

No, I really am looking forward to this week. If I'm not around much, you'll know I am busy entertaining our new friends. Here's to hoping that a bit of friendly hospitality will take us a long way!

June 24, 2011

How to Leave Your Kids for 10 Days...

...a tutorial.

At the very beginning of the year, when Lynzee & I were planning the cruise and surrounding details, I was pretty nervous about leaving the girls for an extended period of time.

Don't get me wrong... I felt completely at ease in leaving them with my parents {even though my Mom does tend to make crazy, impulsive decisions like this}. I knew the girls would be super comfortable spending time with them.

But, still...

The longest I'd ever been away was for five nights when I trained for my PAT position. That was a long time, but at least Tyler was at home to care for the girls in the evenings and early mornings before work. To my recollection, the longest Tyler and I had both been away from the girls was a single night, in instances such as Cory & Jami's wedding fiasco...

Anyway, when we booked the cruise, and booked our flights to include an extended stay in Ft. Lauderdale, I experienced what I can only relate to as a runner's high... a surge of adrenaline that lasted a short time and brought an overwhelming sense of joy... until the pain set in.

When that energy lulled, I had an oh crap, what did I just do? moment {or two or three}...

Eleven days? TEN nights? Really?!?!

Luckily for us, there was no turning back.

Before I get to how I made the process utterly painless for the girls, let me just express how it went for me. I got pretty worked up in the days before the trip. The day before we left and the morning that we left were hard. Let's just say that as we pulled away in Tom & Lynzee's van, I had the sunglasses on, for sure. When we stopped in the town north of as at the gas station for fountain drinks, I may or may not have had a mini meltdown, where Tyler was quickly able to calm me down before I took off towards home.

Once we were on the road, I felt much better. Those were the hardest two days. It got easier. Pretty painless, actually. Especially once I learned the girls were A-OK with it all. So, in retrospect, I wish I would have chilled out a bit more. Not sure if that would have been possible, but really, it was OK.

OK, back to my brilliant idea.

Well, likely not my brilliant idea, as I'm sure it's been done before, but still...

With a little advanced planning and a bit of money, I was able to pull together a plan for the girls to receive one gift for each day we were gone. I knew they would love the idea of getting to open something every day, and it would also provide a visual countdown of how many more days {or as my girls like to say, sleeps} until we returned home.

I tried to select things that would entertain the girls, rather than silly little toys that would be pushed aside in two minutes. We wrapped each gift and made a pile in front of the fireplace, but I coded each gift with a sharpie "shape" and made my Mom a key instead of creating an "order" that they needed to be opened in. This allowed her the flexibility to guide the activities based on how they were feeling, what the weather was like, etc.

We were gone for eleven days, so there were eleven gifts. Let me try to remember them...

  • T-shirts and shirt paint for "nightshirts"
  • Bubbles and cool bubble wands and toys
  • A new DVD and a package of microwave popcorn
  • Crayons, markers, stickers, and paper to keep at Nana's
  • Nail polish and nail stickers
  • Outdoor water squirters
  • Disney Princess Yahtzee
  • A play-doh ice cream shoppe
  • Foam door hanger craft kits
  • Cake mix, frosting, and cupcake paper liners
  • Cute reusable bags with my library card inside to take to the library and sign up for the summer reading program

Anyway, as you can see, they were all things that would give the girls something to do for the day. I tried to include a variety of things, and the whole process was a HUGE hit. The girls looked very forward to seeing what the next day would bring, and it helped them to see the gift pile dwindling down, knowing that it was getting closer to when we'd be back home. On the scarce occasion that either girl would ask about how much longer it would be, they would go and count the packages together.

I will definitely use this method again if we ever go out of town for any lengthy period of time, and I thought I would share in case anyone else wants to try it!

June 23, 2011

Oh No She Didn't...

Last Saturday, as I posted about, we attended Miss E's birthday party at Build-A-Bear. E is a classmate of Sassy, so of course Sassy was the one invited to the party...

Originally, my Mom was going to keep Tink at her house for a rest during the party, which was early in the afternoon, but we decided to all go up together, run some errands, have lunch, and then my Mom agreed to Keep Tink at the play place in the mall while Sassy and I attended the party at BAB.

So, we headed up early, and went to Hobby Lobby for some birthday party stuff I have brewing in my head for Tink's August birthday. Then, we arrived at the mall, did a bit of shopping, and had lunch at... where else... Noodles.

I knew Sassy would be coming home with a BAB animal, and I had a coupon for $5 off any animal, so we even took Tink in there ahead of time and she built one of these, which she named S'mores. She and my Mom took off for play land, and all was well.

Sassy and I enjoyed the party very much, as I wrote about previously. Afterwards, we trucked out of BAB and headed down towards the play place, where there were quite a few families enjoying their play time. It was Saturday, after all.

Tink was somewhere deep in a tunnel out of sight, but I spotted my Mom sitting along the edge right away, so we headed over to her direction. She asked how the party was, Sassy filled her in for a moment, and then my Mom announced that Tink had a surprise for me. When I asked what that surprise was, she called Tink over...

I was thinking to myself, oh goodness, I hope Tink didn't have an accident or something, necessitating the purchase of a whole new outfit or anything like that...

Any guesses on the nature of the surprise?






Did you catch it??

How about now?

I couldn't believe my eyes. It all sank in when Tink said Look, Mama! I got my eaws peiwced!

I about flipped out. No, really.

You took my BABY to get her ears pierced? Without me? Really?!?

I was MAD. Pretty flipping mad. Fuming, actually.

I don't really remember the next few minutes of my life. There was some yelling involved. There were stares from some of the other people around us. I even saw a couple of jaws hanging open. I flipped out for a minute, then realized where we were and calmed myself. Quickly. {Public apology to anyone who was within ears' reach. At least I didn't swear. I don't think.}

OK, it really wasn't the fight I've made it out to be. I wasn't screaming angrily. I was shouting in disbelief, all the while with a smile on my face. It really wasn't the epic war of the worlds that it could have been, perhaps that it should have been.

I was just upset. Hurt. That she would do something like this without discussing it with me! That should have been my decision {& Tyler's decision}. In fact, we had all the plans laid out. Sassy got her ears pierced at three-and-a-half. Remember? We took her to the mall and I took pictures and it was special.

I've often thought, as Tink questions me about when it's her turn to get her ears pierced, that I would take her on a special mommy-daughter date. We'd go in together. Her half birthday is days after Valentine's Day, so I thought it could be our little Valentine's date next year, her and I. A trip to get her ears pierced, then lunch and maybe Build-A-Bear. The plans were set in my mind.

My Mom had good intentions. She thought she was doing something nice. That it would be a surprise. A gift. I get it. I know, in retrospect, she realizes the error of her ways.

It became very clear to me that the fact that Tink had her ears pierced was not what was bothering me. At all. In fact, if my Mom had offered, after the birthday party, to pay for Tink to get her ears pierced, I would have most likely been on board. The plan was to wait until she was 3.5 like her sister, but you know how plans go...

What bothered me was that I was not there with her. I didn't get to see her reaction {according to my Mom, she didn't cry, just had a huge "O" expression, one of shock}. I will never have the pictures to look back on of the experience like I do with Sassy. For many people, this may seem like a small deal, but have you met me before? I document these things. Always. I would have liked to with Tink, for sure! It made me feel like I missed out on something important.

And, part of me is sentimental, too. It's hard for me to believe that my BABY has her ears pierced. That she was old enough to ask for it, want it, and agree to having it done.

This seems so silly to even write out, but it's how I feel, so here goes: When Sassy got her ears pierced, I insisted she got the white gold little cubic zirconia studs. They were small and dainty and had just a little sparkle. I maintained, although she was dying to get the pink & white daisies, that this was the best look for a little girl. Complete personal opinion, and no judgement to anyone else who chooses otherwise. So, I was just a bit taken aback when I saw Tink's {much larger} blue daisies. I would not have allowed her to choose those. I would have had her get the same small studs as Sassy got. Then, as I processed these thoughts, I felt jealous almost, that my Mom let her choose whichever earrings she wanted, when I knew that I would not have been able to get over my own wishes to do the same had it been me with her. It made me feel terrible.

I know, I know. Too many feelings behind something as silly as ear piercing, right?


After telling this story to several of my friends, I heard a lot of gasps. A lot of "oh no she didn't-s"... in retrospect, I think I actually handled things quite well. {besides the initial yelling, maybe} I've had several friends tell me it would have been a MAJOR big deal if that had happened to them.

At least I'm not alone.

The fact is I couldn't stay mad long.

I had an almost-three-year-old who was over the moon about having just gotten her ears pierced, and she couldn't wait to show her Mama and her sister.

I had to be excited for her.

Maybe someday I will be grateful for this early lesson. This lesson on how to be happy for my children from the outside instead of the inside. Maybe this is the first time of many, many times to come that I will be required to process these types of bittersweet feelings. After all, it is my hope that my girls will become successful, independent women. There are consequences to hopes and dreams like that. I know I will have to learn to accept letting go, stepping back, being less involved and more externally supportive.

Tough stuff to digest, for sure.

But, it will all be OK.

And, yes, my Mom and I now have an explicit agreement that she may never take the girls to do anything where she is required to give permission as their legal guardian without consent. Ever. The end.

June 21, 2011

Since We've Been Home: Week 2

We enjoyed another week last week at home and recovering from our vacation! I did return to home visiting, but had the bulk of my visits Tuesday during the day, so still not so bad.

Monday, Lynzee and I packed a picnic lunch for the girls and headed to Wichita to one of the interactive fountain parks they have available. The girls had so much fun!

Of course eating was not too high on their priority list for the day, but playing in the water sure was!

The fountains is a heck of a place to discover your bikini is two sizes too big, too {ahem, Sassy}...

Fun was had by all, despite the wardrobe malfunction(s).

The girls took periodic breaks to warm up in the hot, hot sun {and the warmth of their cozy towels}...

Then, they all played just a little bit more. Hey... it's summer.

Tuesday, the girls spent some time at Nana's while I worked. Tuesday night, Lynzee, Lisa, and I went to see Bridesmaids after the kids' t-ball games. It was funny, and nice to get out for a bit with the girls.

Wednesday, the girls spent some time at NDO (Nana's Day Out, which has replaced Mother's Day out for the summer for both mine and Lynzee's girls). Lynzee and I ran errands, went to the pool, and then I hosted bunco Wednesday night... theme: June Burger Bar. It was fun, and after several months of playing, I actually won $20!

Thursday, I had one home visit in the morning, and we had intentions of taking the girls to the pool, but had to settle for some playing at McDonald's considering the nasty weather. It cleared up in time for t-ball, though, and then it was baths, bed, and off to trivia!

Friday, we had plans to get picked up by Lynzee, her Mom, and the girls to take a trip to the mall. We wanted to check out the new Sephora, buy E a birthday gift, let the girls play in the indoor play place, and have lunch at Noodles.

The girls picked out really cute dresses to wear, so I took my camera outside and snapped away while we waited for Lynzee to arrive.

They had fun posing like "garden fairies"...

I had fun playing with sun flare and practicing my shooting from the hip skills...

It's ridiculously fun...

I know I am incredibly biased, but my goodness, these girls are gorgeous!

And so, so sprite-ly!

Back to regular camera hold, and one last one before we hit the road...

After returning home and taking a nice rest, we headed to the Derby Days parade Friday evening.

Sassy was ready for some action!

She was in a very silly mood- can you tell?

I was trying to catch the girls' attention by asking them to look at what color butterflies were inside my lens. It worked for a bit...

And then I think they began looking too hard. HA!

Finally, the parade was under way...

And, it culminated with something everyone can enjoy on a sweltering hot evening- popsicles!

Friday night, the girls & I had some cuddle time while Tyler went out with a few friends and played poker.

Saturday morning, it was back up to the mall for some errands and Miss E's 5th birthday party at Build-A-Bear. We've been to BAB lots of times, but this was our first birthday party experience there, and it was great.

If there's one downfall to BAB, it has got to be the worse place in the known universe to take pictures, in regards to lighting. I've yet to figure out how to utilize my flash to best suit the environment. Hence, the tone-friendly pics! ♥

The girls were given a more-than-generous amount to spend each on whatever animal, outfits, shoes, and accessories they wished for. E chose the blue peace sign bear, K chose a pink bear, and Sassy chose a lamb.

The stuffed, loved, hugged, cuddled, brushed, bathed, clothed, named, and styled away...

The girls were just itching to give E her gifts, so they did, right int he middle of the store! Miss E seemed pretty pleased with all of her new, fabulous treasures!

We took a little group picture before we departed. Happy Birthday, E! You are one pretty special little lady! ♥

We spent Saturday evening hanging out in Lisa & Adam's backyard, letting the kids run around, enjoying the fire, and of course making S'mores before we were forced out by nasty weather. Ah, Kansas.

Sunday, my parents came over for homemade waffles to kick off Father's Day. We took the girls to the pool.

Went to Cherry Berry. My Mom brought over a big crock pot full of Wick Fowler's Chili for dinner. Tyler served homemade ice cream he and the girls had made with his new ice cream maker. Then, the girls played with this, a gift for Sassy's birthday from AK & UJ.

Doesn't it just look like something you would have killed for as a little kid?

Yeah, me too.

Thus concludes another semi-crazy busy week in the SPH.

Which brings me to the present time, VBS week, ARC training week, and while summer has just officially begun, it sadly feels like it's already dwindling.