Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Packing and De-junking

I don’t really think that either Kevin or I are pack rats but, without a doubt, we have lugged around our share of unnecessary junk during various moves. I remember moving to Virginia from L.A. with everything I owned fitting into my little Ford Escort. It felt so free. So wonderful. So manageable.

Not so much anymore. Now we have furniture and things like crock pots and lawn mowers. And toys. Did I mention toys?

Kevin and I were sorting through stuff over the weekend. We decided to toss a few things and de-junk our lives a little bit.

First there was the tassel from my law school graduation.

K: “Do we need to keep this anymore?”
A: “I’ll get rid of that if you get rid of that big box full of 4-H ribbons.”
K: “Okay, point well taken.”
A: “Seriously, let’s get rid of your ribbons. I’ll take a picture of you with all those hundreds of ribbons spilling out of your lap. You’ll be so cute.”
K: “I am so not allowing that picture to happen. It will probably end up on your blog or something.”

And then there was the floppy disc labeled “Amy-Personal.”

K: “Amy, I don’t even think we own technology that will enable us to read this disc anymore.”
A: “Okay, toss it.”

And then there was a book, written in 1992, titled “The Coming Economic Earthquake.” We both agreed that we could definitely toss that, even if it was prophetic!

And then Kevin found a portion of my journal from after we first started dating. I will confess it’s the closest thing to a diary I have ever kept. He greatly enjoyed reading every word of it—out loud—while I carefully wrapped stemware in newspaper.

Moving is such a big pain. But it was fun to reminisce with Kev. Good times.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The post in which Meredith explains the Internet ...

K: “What did you do this morning?”
M: “I read some books. I wish I could play a computer game.”
K: “Why do you like computer games?”
M: “Because it’s fun. I need to go see if the Internet is working.”
K: “What is the Internet?”
M: “It’s those wires that go from our house to Mr. John’s house and back to our computer. And there’s a yellow sign on our computer that says it’s not working.”

[Side note: Who would have thought that you would have to start putting computer restrictions on children as young as age three! I was thinking maybe age ten or something. Meredith has become quite adept at figuring out how to browse her favorite computer game websites. If we didn’t set a timer for 15 minutes, she would spend at least an hour doing it. We found out recently that Meredith knows some basic Chinese greetings and how to count to three in Chinese, because of one of her computer games!!]

Meredith has also figured out how to call her daddy using speed dial. This could be helpful if there’s an emergency but it’s not so great if she calls Kevin five times a day just to see what he’s up to. She also loves to answer my phone, sometimes without my knowledge. Today a man called and she handed the phone to me, telling me it’s “Great Grandma.”

Meredith told Clara the other day: “Clara, I will be right back. I have to go potty. While I’m gone, you just try to stay out of trouble!” Such a first born!

A: “Mer, how ‘bout we paint your new bedroom green.”
M: “No. I want the walls ALL pink. I want lots of pink stuff. I want princesses and ballerinas and pink.”

She recently went to her kitchen set to find a pretend “dog biscuit” so she could feed her pretend dog. When she arrived at her kitchen set, she said, “Oh no! There’s no food here. That is so STRESSFUL!” [Where does she come up with these words? Do I use that word in front of her?!]

M: “Do you remember that I want ballet lessons?”
K: “Do you like ballet?”
M: “Yes. I do ballet all the time!”

A: “Meredith, I hope you won’t waste your orange juice.”
M: “I don’t want my O.J. because it has feathers in it!”
[This is when I peered into her orange juice cup and noticed that it had pulp in it.]

M: “I want to surf some day.”
A: “Really? What is surfing?”
M: “It’s with a surf board.”
A: “What do you do with a surf board?”
M: “You stand on it and it floats. It’s such a fun toy!”

Meredith has made this sudden transition from a little girl to a big girl. I don’t know how else to describe it. She converses so freely and has become such a good problem solver. I feel like, just in the last week, she has made this huge leap into young girlhood. It’s fun to watch and also scary to realize that there are more challenges in parenting ahead! And more joys, of course!

And yes, I know I really need to do a Clara post sometime soon. She’s starting to say a ton of stuff too. Her favorite word these days is “balloo” for balloon. Do you realize that there are balloons everywhere? I mean everywhere. I never realized how many balloons there are in the world until I had Clara to point them out to me!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beautiful Moment

It was one of those beautiful moments in mothering yesterday as I watched my two daughters squeal with delight, despite very cold temperatures, as they rolled in, tossed around, and played with a bunch of leaves in our backyard. Is there anything more enjoyable than watching your own children revel in something with carefree, youthful abandon? The answer is simply no.




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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fires, basketball, and early shopping …

California is once again up in flames. My friend Emily, who lives in Orange County not too far from my parents, posted pictures of the skyline on her blog. She contrasts the sky to the north of her house and the sky to the south. Can you believe that?

Many people risk losing their homes, including the mother of one of my church friends here in Indiana. Let’s keep these people in our prayers, as no doubt this is a very emotionally difficult and stressful time for them.

Kevin has a bad cough but decided to go play basketball tonight anyway. Basketball is pretty much the highlight of his week, after all. I’m glad that he’s picked it up again and that he enjoys it so much.

Okay, I’m done with blogging for now because I have to go wrap Christmas presents!! Yes, this is the earliest I have completed my Christmas shopping EVER. (I’m done--including stocking stuffers--except for some stuff I’d like to get for Kevin, but have to wait so he won’t see the Visa bill and spoil his surprise. Can anyone relate?)

We’re moving in three and a half weeks! I can’t believe it!! Now I need to stop thinking about Christmas shopping and start thinking about packing!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Alone Time

Today I feel like, “Yes, I can possibly undertake the monumental task of mothering yet another day.” Yesterday I wasn’t so sure. I had been stuck at home with sick kids for five days and I thought I was going to go crazy. We have some issues with Meredith being whiny anyway but if you throw being sick into the mix, it’s out of control. Clara is also still under the weather and she’s more clingy and unable to play alone. To top it off, Kevin has been gone every night this week. So I’ve been doing dinner and the bedtime routine solo. Last night it was my turn to check out for the night!

I never realized I needed “alone time” until I had kids. I was talking with a friend on the phone last night and we agreed on this—you didn’t realize you needed alone time because you actually HAD it. Even if it was just your commute to work. You had time to be alone with your own thoughts. Maybe listen to music or talk radio. What a luxury!

I am a person who likes to read and think and have a little space in my life. This is something that is incongruent with having preschoolers in your care.

So it was with utmost joy and relief that I got in the car last night, without having to buckle in any kids, and ran a few errands and then sat at Starbucks, let the aromas and relaxing music wash over my tired soul, and read five chapters out of a really good book.

This was a little piece of heaven for a very weary mom.

Praise God for “alone time” and husbands who realize you’re at the end of your rope.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pumpkin Kick

One of the best things about fall is all the apple, pumpkin, and spice foods! There's still a little bit of fall left and I'm trying to squeeze some more culinary enjoyment out of it! :) Here are two recipes I tried this week with pumpkin.

The pie was really good but honestly, the pancakes were out of this world!! They were by far the BEST pancakes I have ever eaten. Kevin agreed. They were fluffy and moist with a slightly crisp layer on the outside. The pumpkin and spice were subtle components in the flavor and not overpowering. I am going to make this recipe again and again.

Pumpkin Pie:

Pumpkin Pancakes:
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Thanks to Alaina for hosting Creative Kitchens! Check out the other posts!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today's Drama

It has been an exciting afternoon.

For the past four or five days Meredith has been asking us to constantly repeat what we just told her (“What’d you say?”). She has also been asking us to turn up the volume on the computer when she’s playing games and turn up the video volume. She’s been watching a lot of videos lately because she’s been lying on the couch, sick with a fever and cough since Friday. I blamed this sudden hearing loss on being plugged up from her cold.

Today, despite the fact that her cold has subsided, she still constantly asked me to repeat myself, “What’d you say?” I wondered if she had wax buildup. So, I sat her down and swabbed out her ears. When I got to her left ear, I felt something hard lodged there.

I tugged on hear ear lobe and saw a white object stuck there in her ear canal. It was far enough down that I couldn’t touch it with my pinky. I wondered if it was a piece of cotton from the q-tip. I lightly tapped on it with a bobby pin and felt that it was hard as a rock.

So I called her pediatrician and made an appointment. Meanwhile I looked online and saw that Meredith was suffering all the classic symptoms of “foreign body in the ear.”

I asked her if she had put anything in her ear. She denied it but may have forgotten since it probably happened more than five days ago.

I recalled that she had recently broken a bead necklace. I thought I got all the pieces but maybe I hadn’t after all and she put one in her ear, thinking it was an earring or something.

Our pediatrician was unable to remove the object from her ear. So he referred me to an ENT specialist. I called them at 4:30 p.m. as we left the pediatrician’s and the ENT agreed to stay late for us. I cannot even believe how nice this ENT and his whole staff was towards us! (If you live in Indianapolis and need an ENT, let me know!)

On the way over there, Meredith didn’t seem nervous. Although she was curious why she had to see yet another doctor. I realized she was a little nervous, though, when she told me, “Mom, actually I can hear pretty good!” (In other words, a second doctor isn’t necessary, right?)

Meredith did great. She enjoyed all the attention from the nurses. She sat in the big chair and cocked her head to allow the doctor to pry and poke at her ear with his fancy tools.

After about ten minutes, he frowned (never a good sign!) and said it wasn’t working. He said it would be too painful for him to dig any further without giving Meredith some anesthesia. He said we should probably meet at the hospital the following day and the anesthesiologist would give her some meds through a mask and he could work on it again.

As soon as I heard the words “anesthesiologist” and “hospital,” I asked him if he could please think of something else or at least try for a little longer. We do self-pay with a high-deductible insurance plan and I could see dollar signs swirling in my head.

He kindly agreed and he put her on her back, which he hadn’t tried yet.

After only another two minutes, he smiled and said, “I have it!”

It wasn’t a bead from a necklace after all. It looks like something you would shoot from an air-soft gun or something. I have no idea how she got a hold of this!!

Here is the little boogar that caused all the ruckus today!

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Reading to Your Kids

This is something I posted on my other blog for young moms in my MOPS group. Since it's something I'm very passionate about, I thought I'd post it here too!

During last meeting’s Mentor Mom Moment, Debbie encouraged all of us to read to our kids. Let’s face it, when you have preschoolers your day is often hectic and this is something that you have to be really intentional about or it doesn’t happen.

In our house, we place a high priority on reading every day. I love books and want my kids to love them too. In order to maximize the literature my children are exposed to, I have become a very liberal library user! We usually bring home at least a dozen new library books every week. And we usually have about 80-100 materials checked out at one time. My kids love having so many interesting picture books in our house.

If your goal is to read more books to your children, it’s absolutely crucial to have books out and available.

Here is what I do to ensure that we have a wide variety of quality children’s books in our house:

1) Get an annotated list of books for children. I personally love Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. Debbie mentioned The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and I’ve heard that’s good too. There are also lists of books you can find online. Here is one, here is another, and here is one more I found through doing a Google search.

2) Take a pencil and draw a line after the 10th book on the list. You can also section off only one or two books and then do a search on other books written by that author. It’s fun to get all the books by a particular author at one time so kids can learn more about him/her!

3) Go to the library’s website and search (by title or author) for the books you want. The library will do all the work of finding those books. (You’re a busy mom! Take the help!) Then, a few days later, you can go to the library and pick up the pile of books that is waiting for you on the shelf. It’s easy!

4) Plan for a regular day at the library where you can return books and pick up new ones. Pretty soon, you’ll be cycling through lots of new books and discovering new favorites.

5) Once you’ve read through all of the books in the first section of your list, pencil-off another section. After a year, you’ll have read hundreds of new books to your children!

Happy reading!

Thanksgiving Book List

Here are some of our favorite Thanksgiving picture books. I got all of these from the library.

We love seasonal and holiday children's books because, along with decorating the house, it really helps our whole family get in a festive mood!

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks (Sutherland)
The Night Before Thanksgiving (Wing)
Turkey Surprise (Archer)
Thanksgiving (Murray)
Thanks for Thanksgiving (Markes)
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving (Alcott)
Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving (Roop)
Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration (Stiegemeyer)
Mary’s First Thanksgiving (Wargin)

Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving books to share? I know there are lots more!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Leaf Gathering

 I was talking with a friend about leaf gathering memories she had as a child and I decided to try it since there are still some beautiful leaves left. Growing up in Long Beach, California, I don't have many leaf gathering memories. :)

We live in an area of town with lots of mature trees, many of them sheltered from the wind. Many of the trees here are still full of leaves and pretty. As we crunched through the fallen leaves on our hunt, I often stopped underneath a tree just to let the beauty of it surround me and take it all in. Fall is magical. I love it.

Here are some of the leaves we brought home.
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Fall Outing

On Saturday I took the girls to the Zionsville village and we did some window shopping. I told Meredith I would buy her and her sister some ice cream. She spotted someone sipping a strawberry smoothie through the coffee shop window and asked if she could have that instead! It's been such a warm and beautiful fall here. I've wanted to spend as much time outside as possible.




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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Amy Joins the Postmortem

We joined many of you, I’m sure, in staying up late to watch election results. Unfortunately the only channel that we get decent reception on is CBS. So, we were forced to watch Katie Couric gloating all evening. Ugh. I can’t stand that woman. Not only is she smug, she’s not even a good reporter. Even when she is able to enunciate the words correctly, she’s incredibly monotone. How she rose so high in the ranks of the media, I’ll never know.

Here are my two cents to add to the postmortem of the election. I disagree with Obama’s public policy positions and, for this reason, I am disappointed he was elected into office. At the same time, who wouldn’t be happy to see an African American become president? It’s a fulfillment of the American Dream. I love stories of underdogs rising to the top. While watching his victory speech, I couldn’t help but share, to some degree, in the euphoria of the crowd gathered there in Chicago. This is indeed a historic moment in our country. I thought both McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s victory speech were well written and well delivered. Obama at least seems like a sincere (even if sincerely wrong), non-schmarmy person. It will be an interesting four years. I wish long lives and good health to all the U.S. Supreme Court Justices!

A few weeks ago, I read an article in the Indianapolis Star about Hoosiers having a ticket-splitting habit. This was proven yesterday. Although Indiana went blue this year in the presidential election, our Republican governor was overwhelmingly reelected and numerous other Republican officials were elected to the highest state offices.

And, the last thing I will say is this: I am shocked and utterly ecstatic that my home state of California voted to protect traditional marriage. I did not expect Proposition 8 to pass. This is a sweet victory.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Patriotism and Coffee

If you haven't already voted by absentee ballot, remember to vote tomorrow! In addition to the joy of being able to have a voice in our political system, you can also get a free coffee from Starbucks if you mention to the barista that you voted!

Maybe if I get a free coffee, that means that I can order a scone.

See, this is how they make money! People like me ...

An Evening in Brown County I

On the evening of the 31st we had a very fun fall adventure. I told Kevin, "Okay, maybe I CAN skip Halloween after all." This was such an awesome evening!!

Clara at the lake.

The kids had a great time exploring the woods and lake surrounding the shelter.

Kevin's mom made some incredible pumpkin soup and reheated it in the coals of the shelter's fire.

There were still some pretty leaves to see. The drive into the park was amazing with lots of beautiful golden colored trees.
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An Evening in Brown County II

Isn't this a beautiful fall window? There were candles lit in the windows, on the fireplace mantle, and on the tables. It was beautiful.

The kids each had their own flashlight and we took a hike around the lake after dark. It was great fun!

Here's a picture with the flash on!

Meredith roasting marshmallows at the end of a very fun evening.
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