Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Button Pusher

Curse you, fun dips!

Eliza models her Wicked Witch of the West finger tips.
And while I wish she had saved the white lick-a-stick for me (love those),
she was kind enough to share the dippy sugar stuff with her sister.
My memory remembers her face being much greener than this.
Even so, she makes a cute little green witch. 

Here's a video that ties in with the ensuing rant. 


Said rant was written last Friday night. I'm not feeling as heated as I was then. And as wise as it would probably be to just delete it and move on, I feel more inclined to leave it. Rants can be exciting. This one isn't. Even though these feelings are mine, I got bored as I re-read it (lower thy expectations).

(Friday, February 22)

Forgive me as I hop on the boat of 'having an opinion' tonight; but it would seem that there are a few things that have been circulating through my brain that are in need of being downloaded. In the 'online' world, namely Facebook, I try to keep the peace when it comes to politics (as an example) despite having very strong, personal opinions. Surprising to some, I actually spend a lot of time reviewing current political events, whether its online reading or talk radio...which was an absolute accident by the way. I had shamefully been avoiding an overdue fee at the library and so my habit of listening to audio books while I cleaned shifted to the radio. I'm an 'in the closet' political junkie. As depressing as the current direction of our country is headed, I'm having a difficult time divorcing myself from current events. Throwing my head back in the sand sounds pretty good most days. If anything, 'paying attention' is a motivation for achieving financial independence, hoarding guns (kind of joking?) and building up food storage. I've totally digressed.  

Perhaps this is a reflection of having a weak character, I'm not sure. Maybe I should share what I know and believe without apology. However, I have friends who believe differently than me and because of my respect for them I try my best to not to ruffle feathers. I'm totally up for a conversation in person where the possibility of a misunderstanding or offending someone is lessened. Having explained my hesitancy to shout my personal opinions from the roof top, please keep that in mind as I continue to vent. I don't like to step on toes.

Politics aside, I was on Facebook today and noticed that a friend had made a general inquiry about dual immersion programs. I couldn't resist spewing out a boat load of praise based on our current experience. Several of those who left comments do not have a child in an immersion program. Even so, we're all entitled to a point of view so the continued exchanges, both negative and positive, held my interest. The one comment, however, that upset me said something to the effect of, "being repulsed" by the idea of putting their child and themselves through that type of program. Repulsion to me is the effects of the stomach flu. On an emotional level, I associate the word 'repulsive' to infidelity, child kidnapping, cultures saturated with violence... etc.  

From all the parental praise and supporting research behind the success and achievements of immersion students and their teachers, I felt that labeling this program as being repulsive was unfair. So here I am; which is actually a shame since I'm supposed to be upstairs watching Alias with my husband.

And while I doubt that of the three people who will read this post in entirety fall into the category of wanting to know my full opinion on the subject of dual immersion programs (snore fest alert), I'm going to share anyway.

No immersion program is going to function exactly the same way. The influence of a school district, principle and its supporting staff are going to differ; not to mention, the community of parents and their underlying attitude and support (or lack thereof) will either contribute or take away from a program's success. While the lottery and application process is less stressful in an area like ours, I know that at other schools, the competition to be placed in an immersion program is tighter. With that being said, my first piece of advice if you're on the fence over whether or not you should enroll your child is to talk to a parent of a student who is already in the program at the school your child will attend and to another parent who opted not to participate. 

Schools in the Granite school district were mentioned in today's online discussion. It would seem that a concern that was floating around is that for the students who don't get in are struggling for different reasons. Perhaps they're not getting the academic stimulation they need in an English only classroom (one complaint I've heard) or their child feels outcast socially as it shakes up the friend situation by the automatic segregation of classrooms for the duration of elementary. Fortunately for us, if Eliza was in an English only classroom at her school, I feel confident that she'd still be receiving a great education. The teachers in those classrooms have earned healthy praise from my peers. As far as how this will impact her socially, I'm not sure. She's still young, but I can say that she gets along great with the kids who are on her soccer team that aren't in the same program. I don't think, at her school anyway, that an air of, "we're better" exists especially since there are plenty of wonderful parents and families who choose to opt out of the program. I could be totally wrong about this. Ask me again when she completes the sixth grade or fill me in on your experience.

As mentioned before, the immersion students either test at the same level if not higher than the kids who aren't in the program so the fear of 'falling behind' isn't one that I have. Because I feel like this is a great program for Eliza, doesn't necessarily mean that we'll pursue it for each of our kids.The success and challenges of learning a new language is something that thrills her to pieces. I don't expect it to come as easy or to be met with the same enthusiasm with my other kids. For her, it's a great fit. And while I claim to have the whole world figured out, keep in mind that Andrew is in the picture. He doesn't sit idly by while I dictate our children's future. He sees things I don't see. Take comfort that I have a rational partner who likewise cares as much as I do about our kids. 

I've been impressed with the way Eliza's two teachers collaborate with one another and the way the school tries its best to include the entire student body in embracing the Chinese culture. During Chinese New Year, the entire school participated in different activities and events. Many of the other 'unifying' school activities don't have much to do with the Chinese program. Last year, as the parent of a Kindergartener, I didn't feel that her grade level was left out as those classrooms were English speaking only. They were invited to the back to school fair, shopped at the 'Mustang' store, participated in the same fundraisers etc.

I'm sure there are flaws and learning curves that have to be figured out along the way, but I don't feel that Eliza is a guinea pig. Even if the grand promises of what level of achievement will follow don't fully come to pass, I feel good with what has transpired up until now. It was a decision we prayed about after doing our homework. This process is ongoing and if a friend has a new study to share, I'd love to see it... good or bad.

If Eliza chooses to be a simple homemaker like me, that's wonderful. However, if she chooses to pursue whatever career her heart desires outside of the home and she is in fact bilingual, this opportunity may have given her a competitive edge. To be honest, what concerns me more than anything is that the opportunities for a bright future, based on personal effort and sacrifice, won't be theirs to take hold of as the private sector continues to diminish and the government continues it self imposed BLOAT. As the middle class diminishes the need for the government to expand grows. That dependency takes away freedom and kills opportunity. Ooooh... look at me get all political.

KSL was at her school yesterday. Here's a link to the story. Another website that offers access to additional research can be found here.

In the continued spirit of, "Ali had her button pushed," allow me to shift gears entirely. A childhood friend recently blogged about how her opinion of Mom's who blog has changed since becoming a Mother herself. And while I appreciated her honesty and hold no ill will toward her at all, I couldn't help but feel self conscious as she confessed that she used to make fun and judge mommy bloggers for having no life outside of the kids they love and care for. She apologized for those thoughts and proudly claimed to now be riding in that same boat. It got me thinking about the possibility of those who may stop by to laugh or judge. Friends who I remain close with today, family members even, have said that blogging is dorky, something to be ashamed of, etc. Besides being a hormonal, pregnant mess there is a history to this conversation which makes me slightly oversensitive.

This blog is my journal. The silly, mundane memories and the personal thoughts I've spent hours to record are priceless to me. If my blog is a source of mockery and judgement, please don't visit here. If my personality makes you want to vomit in a toilet bowl, please click elsewhere. I'm not trying to flatter myself into thinking I have a legion of followers, because I know that's not the case. Everyone is welcome, but please know the Mommy world I live in is a place I love. The faces that I document so faithfully are ones that I will never tire of looking at. Each expression is loved and I won't apologize for the obsession and maternal connection that ties me to those feelings.

My role is not one of perfection. I'm flawed beyond belief.  The truth remains that these little kids won't stay little forever. And while their growth and development is a blessing and a miracle, it still makes my heart sad to see certain phases end. I can't physically bottle them as they are, but I can try to capture the details of today so that when I'm in therapy, years from now, I'll have something to look back on and cherish.

This blog used to be the link that connected me 1900 miles to family... more than that when we were in Germany. There are times when I've seriously considered pulling the plug on the public aspect of it now that we're back in Utah. I promised myself not to make any changes while I'm pregnant as my decision making ability is temporarily tainted as it's totally influenced by a spur of the moment mood. This blog has brought me new friends whom have buoyed me up and reconnected me to old ones. I sure appreciate each comment that's been left throughout the years. It's nice to know there exists a community of parents who are trying their best to do right by their children, who provide needed feedback and laughter; as well as supportive friends who haven't yet entered into that phase of life that are kind to crazies like me.

I now conclude this evening's rant. Alias, here I come.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Year of the Hot Glue Gun

In addition to Valentine's day, Eliza kept busy at school as she participated in a variety of Chinese New Year activities. From performing Chinese songs and dances in a school assembly, to sending off red balloons (in lieu of the currently banned lantern) and making chicken dumplings, there were plenty of new experiences to keep things interesting.

It's the 'Year of the Snake'... not sure if you knew that or not, but it is. We have a tangible reminder on our art wall courtesy of our first grader.

 And while 2013 still feels 'new' (I'm still dating everything 2012 and probably will be until July), I feel like I need her to make me another sign to sit beside the first that reads,

"The Year of the Hot Glue Gun"

Eight and half years of wedded bliss later, this woman finally purchased a glue gun. I tried to borrow my Mom's first because in my mind, a glue gun cost like $45.00. When our plan to pass off said glue gun failed, I took the kids to a nearby craft store and spent eight whole dollars to get my own. The sticks of glue, I was so appreciative of this, were right next to the glue gun. I can easily picture myself leaving the store without them had they not been sold side by side.

I delayed the valentine project because... honestly... crafts never scream FUN to me; mostly because I make frustratingly dumb mistakes. The Saturday before Valentines day, I finally busted everything out (except the candy - that had been opened days earlier) and 'got my craft on' with a very enthusiastic daughter by my side. 

After spilling a drop of glue on my counter, I dramatically react,

"Oh no! Andrew! I got glue on the counter! Is that okay?" He laughs at me but is considerate enough to add that it's not a big deal. I relax and continue on with the project. 

We had company coming that night. Andrew, who had been delegated the task of straightening the family room, wasn't doing much. I asked if he'd like to trade. 

"If you'd rather help Eliza with the glue, I will finish (read: start) cleaning." His answer was an immediate, 

"YES!"

Thirty seconds after taking his place next to Eliza, I hear her burst out, 

"Mom! Look what Dad's doing!" Andrew had hot glue gunned a spoon to our light fixture. I don't know why this surprised me. We have been married awhile now. I know the guy well, but still. I didn't see that coming. Despite my protests, he proceeded to add spoons to the refrigerator, adorn the light fixtures with tooth picks and his personal favorite, hot glue gun Henry's action figures to the oven and counter top. Oh yes. As I was loading the dishwasher, I reached for a glass that - you guessed it - had been hot glue gunned to the counter. 

The kids were feeding off my frustration so each time a mischief-filled discovery was made, they likewise felt annoyed, or in Henry's case, burst into tears. Andrew, on the other hand, was having a blast.     

 Please note the toothpicks on the light fixture
and the huge smile on Andrew's face.
I resisted taking pictures of the other glued objects 
as I didn't want to 'encourage' the behavior.

Taking back control of the glue gun, I went back to work on the Valentines as Andrew got busy scraping glue off of refrigerators, ovens, etc.The fun with hot glue didn't end there. This past Saturday, we headed to Salt Lake to spend time with Grandparents, Uncle Mike and the Jensens. 

I don't know how the conversation transpired, but while sitting in the basement of Andrew's parents house, I notice that Andrew is busy dissecting an out-of-use computer. He had quite an audience as he disassembled it all. A while later, I'm back upstairs when I smell something familiar.

Hot glue? Sure enough, Andrew had found his Mom's hot glue gun.With a fascinated Henry at his side, I walk over to see that Andrew is 'building' a robot with the computer parts he'd been messing with.
Our robot wants for nothing. Needing 'power,' Andrew added the batteries and even gave him a bum. Henry's pretty excited about taking him for 'show and tell' to preschool this week. 

Sunday morning, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle that accompanies preparing three kids for Church, I entered the kitchen to discover a decent looking mess.
At the helm was Andrew, his trusty side kick Henry and the hot glue gun.

"Dad's building a model of our future chicken coup!" Eliza informed me. It just filled my heart with joy to see our food storage actually being used. Ha!
I'm pretty sure the Lord sent me Andrew to teach me to mellow out and enjoy life's little moments. Having that in mind, I decided not to be annoyed by the mess that I'd have to clean up. I took a moment to enjoy Henry's fascination and snapped a few pictures. In Andrew's defense, he did "clean up"...it's just that our definitions of cleaning up are different.. :) I like to come home to a clean kitchen on Sunday - I'm kind of uptight. You couldn't tell, right?! ;)
Per Andrew's request, here's the model of our future chicken coup in all it's pasta-fied glory. If you want to make him feel like a million bucks, ask him specific questions about it. An example includes,

"So if it's raining, where do the chickens go?" or "Hey Andrew, where are you going to put the floral boxes?" He really is a stud. Just don't tell him I said so. Henry, by the way, thinks his Dad hung the moon.
He's sure handsome like his Dad. 
(26 weeks)
Not a typo... even though it looks like I should be '36.'

Watching Andrew and Henry play together, 
I grow excited as I think about baby boy joining the party. :)

In a sweet note Andrew left on the counter for me this morning, he included:
"Thanks for giving me another fishing buddy." 
 
 As different as they are,
these sisters are sure fans of each other.
 
 Well... you know. 
As long as Lottie minds her own business and keeps out of Eliza's room. 
Did I mention they're future roommates?!
 Eliza really struggled to keep her eyes open while I snapped these pictures.
Basking in the GLOW of her pregnant Mother proved to be too much. ;) 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valentine Highlights 2013

 "Will you be my Valentine?"

For the lovers in the house, Valentine's day came early. Imagine, if you will, an arena packed with screaming sports fans as well as distant (cold) parking lots that require cash and a lot of brisk waddling just to get to the less than intimate setting that is Energy Solutions Arena. A couple, clasping each others hands in support, traverse into that foreign place. Together they soak in the unique energy that is born of a sporting event; even a Utah Jazz game. 

That friends, is how Andrew and I spent our 11th Valentine's day together; except it was technically the 12th of February. I'm pretty sure on the night of the 14th, we cuddled up with the kids and watched an episode of NOVA together. Sadly, I'm not kidding. The night of the 12th involved being alone in the car and paying a babysitter at the end of it, so we happily labeled it "Valentine's day" and sealed the deal with a kiss. 

On the spectrum that reads, 'Sports Fan,' I'm sure that Andrew's face would be featured at the end that reads, "Not interested, thanks." At the family super bowl party, he was the one flipping through a rifle magazine on the couch. And while he played sports growing up, it isn't an interest that stuck with him... not even a little bit. However, when someone hands you two free jazz tickets and you know your wife wants an excuse to go just about anywhere... you gratefully accept (last year, to my dismay, he graciously declined Jazz game tickets). 

Despite our general lack of interest in the sporting world, we had a blast. From start to finish, I felt entertained. We had great seats, the Jazz totally scored more touchdowns than the opposing team and my date bought me ice cream. It was nice to be together without the kids and I recommend to our future selves that we date more often.
 

Returning to Mommy land, Valentines Day with the kids was sweet. Inspired by Pinterest, we were successful in our attempt to create some cool Valentines. This required purchasing my FIRST EVER glue gun... but more on that later. Trust me, that glue gun deserves a post of its own (how exciting is my life?). Best of all, babysitting swaps with friends enabled me to help with both Eliza and Henry's parties at school. Things like that provide the sap infused Mom moments that I live for. How fitting for the day of love, yes?

 
 
Eliza generously offers to assist Henry
 as he navigates his way through his haul of sugary treats!
 Lottie's perfected the art of the mooch. 
Not having a party of her own to attend, 
she scored plenty of her own treats!
 
Eliza went the robot route.
Nothing says, "I love you" better than 
a jazz game
a bug or 
a robot. 
 That's the idea we sold this year, anyway!

You want to talk true love? 
Let's talk about Nutella. 
The stuff is expensive,
which is why it tasting it was a "new" experience for my kids.
(even though it wasn't)

They are huge fans of it now.
Smother that on a pancake that's been dyed pink and shaped like a heart, 
add a swirl (or two) of whipped cream 
and you've instantly earned the title of Mom of the year. 
I'm sure grateful for the love (and jar of Nutella) we have in our house. We had a happy Valentine's day. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow Bunnies

 Admiring his handiwork from the kitchen window, Andrew says,

"You must have a pretty cool Dad because those are some pretty cool snow forts." Joining him at the window, Eliza agrees with a quick nod of her head before adding with a smile,

"And we must have a pretty mean Mom since she won't let us go out and play in those pretty cool snow forts before Church!" I must say, this comment grabbed my attention. It's not often she labels me 'mean'  which is why my overly-sensitive heart was silently relieved that I could detect the 'teasing' in her tone. If you could hear the three identical sounding coughs they all woke up with today and have your personal fill of wiping boogie stained upper lips, I think you would support my scrooge-like decision.    

Returning to that 'mean' Mom comment, I would like future Eliza to know that the fun we had with our cousins yesterday was a result of an observation this 'mean' Mom made.

Henry and Eliza were outside, content as can be, when a neighbor friend of Henry's arrived on our porch. Inviting him to join Henry and Eliza outside, I watched as my quiet prediction came to pass. Henry smiled at the sight of his friend while Eliza's face fell into an image of pure disappointment. Ten seconds later, his friend had convinced Henry to leave our winter play land for his. Eliza was left to her own devices and was soon battling a return of jealous feelings due to the fact that Henry struck the friend lottery when we moved into this neighborhood. 

After running my plan past Andrew, I began texting the cousin crew in search of a friend for Eliza; because that's what 'mean' moms do. ;) The troops, including Nana Marie, answered my call. An afternoon of sledding, igloo building and other snow related pursuits followed. Pizza and Rootbeer floats (yes, in February!) ended a very fun day.
The "very cool" Dad in the original igloo
We have a growing family.
Andrew deemed that an 'addition' to the first was necessary.
Uncle Mark helped.
Regarding those cute boys and Alaska,
we're cool.
(read: I'm in denial.)
Last but not least the sledding hill...
(sleds optional)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Princess and the Party Cake

 
Last week, cousin Sara made a special trip up to our house to deliver a birthday invitation to Lottie. Not understanding why this delivery didn't include an afternoon play date, Lottie wailed in the most heartbreaking of tones when Sara left. I did my best to explain to her that she'd get to play at Sara's on Saturday when she went to her "party cake" - that's Lottie speak for, "birthday party." A distraction or two later, Lottie recovered. Time would also prove that the wait for that special birthday play-date would be worth it.   
Having been an invited to come dressed as a Princess, we selected the one she fits in best at the moment. Princess Aurora was thrilled with the attention and praise she was receiving from the entire family as she twirled her way down the hall. And while they ooh'd and ahh'd over how darling she looked, Eliza and Henry were both envious that this party was for small princesses only.
 No really, that's Andrew. 
It's hard to tell with his new glasses 
and freshly grown crop of lumberjack worthy facial hair. 

After kissing her hairy Prince, "Goodbye," she was off to the 'party cake!'

And while the two of us spend a lot of one on one time together, it was special to have a weekend outing that was centered on her. As I watched her participate at that party, she seemed to age 2 years. She was one of the big kids: following instructions, participating in the games... wow. When did that happen?! I had to steal her spoon and feed her the ice cream myself as reassurance that my baby still needed me. Insecure Mom, what?

She was royally spoiled (or I guess I was) as her older cousins Callie and Mia fussed over her, making sure she had what she needed, knew were to go and had a smile on her face. Aunt Ami sprinkled princess magic into each game and the decorations were so well done. Cousin Sara couldn't have been more fun to watch as she opened her gifts and welcomed the guest of honor; even RAPUNZEL herself.

Don't tell Andrew, but I had my fingers crossed that Flynn Rider was going to show up.  

The one low point came when Lottie realized that gift we brought for Sara wasn't for her. Even after Sara unwrapped it, Lottie tried to claim it as her own. 
 
"Lottie, that's Sara's present."
"Whatever, Mom."

 Happy birthday Sara! Thank you for inviting Lottie to her first big girl birthday party. We sure love you!

As for the left at home big kids, don't feel bad for them. Andrew had them playing in the back yard minutes after we left. The three of them reconstructed our igloo, which they later informed me had ended up with a stinky smell inside after receiving so much snow combined with a lack of proper ventilation (what the?). They (meaning Andrew) also increased the size of the snow hill in our backyard. A healthy round of sledding ensued. As I was pulling into the driveway with sleeping beauty (no really, Lottie was passed out), Andrew was leaving to take the big kids to a neighbors house to play. They had their fill of fun. Andrew, however, headed into work. We sure love those random project deadlines that keep Dad at work late and in the office on weekends. I'm just grateful the kids had a healthy fill of their Dad that morning.

Sunday we super bowl partied it up at my brother Mark's house. It was a fun night to be together even though it was a crappy reminder that his family is moving to freaking Alaska. Don't worry, I fake support them in person (Right, Jen!). I just want them to know that we love, love, love them and their kids.