Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nap Time


I had to snap this picture on Sunday afternoon when Craig and Liam were napping. Craig wasn't all that happy when the flash woke him up, but when I showed him the picture, I think his heart melted as much as mine did.

With a Vengeance

Yesterday a regional newspaper quoted a meteorologist  as saying, "Winter is back (with) a vengeance." We've had snow three of the past five days, but we've only gotten about three inches total. But, the wind. Oh my goodness, the wind. That drift in my yard made it seem like way more than three inches, and I hate wind chill. I can deal with cold. I can deal with snow. But, I can't deal with that biting wind on my face, which is why I'm definitely not looking forward to the winter storm that's expected tomorrow. I don't think we're going to get hit nearly as hard as the rest of the state, but we are expected to get 6+ inches of snow with wind.

As I read that news story this morning, I got a little depressed. I've had a serious case of the February "blahs" lately. Sadly, I don't really see an end in sight. I, mean, seriously this is South Dakota. We've known to have snow storms in May.

I started looking over my winter to do list from a few months ago and realized that it was pretty holiday-oriented. After some thought, I decided to put together add a few things to the list:

  • Moisturize (& Floss) Daily -- The heater and that wind is getting to my poor face. It's dry and chapped, and I noticed a few small wrinkles around my eyes a few weeks ago. Also, I think that making sure I do things like moisturizing and flossing make me feel a little more productive. (Okay, I feel like such a loser admitting that I don't always do those things daily. And, I also want to clarify that this is an ongoing goal. I'm not going to quit moisturizing and flossing once spring hits.)
  • Buy a new pair of snow boots-- I live in ballet flats. It's my thing. After years of people saying, "Aren't your feet cold?," I finally decided I should buy a pair of snow boots. I'm just not sure how adults go about doing that. Do you carry your shoes to work in your bag? My biggest fear is forgetting them. I was totally that kid in elementary school who forgot my real shoes and ended up trudging around school in my snow boots because my mom refused to take me home to get my shoes. Hopefully, I'll be a more responsible adult. (Also, I'm hoping to find a semi-cute pair on clearance now that the racks are filled with swim suits and rash guards and sun hats.)
  • Become more involved in my community-- This means a few things. I really want to take a community education class. I found one that involves making books. I thought that would be fun. I also want to volunteer more or become involved in a community organization. When I was in college, I felt like I was pretty involved on campus, but for some reason when I moved to our current town, I never really reached out and tried to meet people. I think it's because I wasn't expecting to stay long-term. Now that I've been a homeowner in this community for almost three years now, I think I should make a point to become more involved. 
  • Since I kind of failed at making the side dish for Thanksgiving, I want to cook one new recipe each month. 
Okay, I think four is a good start. Any other suggestions for my list? Do you have any goals to help you avoid the end of winter "blahs"?


Monday, February 27, 2012

Take A Walk on the Wild Side

Over the past few weeks, Liam and I have had a lot of time to hang out at home and read books. Lately it seems like we've kept ourselves busy reading plenty of jungle-themed books.

I grabbed Giraffes Can't Dance by Gilles Andreae at the library a couple of weeks ago. It's a really sweet book about Gerald the giraffe. Gerald feels left out at the annual Jungle Dance because he's awkward and can't dance. That is, until he meets a cricket who tells him, "But sometimes when you're different, you just need a different song."Soon, Gerald learns that "We all can dance when we find music that we love." 

During that same library trip, I grabbed When the Elephant Walks by Keiko Kasza. I thought it was a funny little story, but Liam wasn't all that interested in the book. Liam really likes books that have rhythm and repetition or pictures that grab his eye. This book really didn't have that, nor was the prose written in such a way that made it easy for me to improvise with funny voices to keep Liam's attention. Perhaps when he's older, this story will be one that Liam will enjoy. 

Liam and I grabbed In My Jungle by Sara Gillingham at the book store last week. Liam literally squealed when I pulled this book off the shelf. He was really excited about the finger puppet. When we brought it home, I wasn't disappointed. Whenever, I pull this book out, Liam gets really excited. It's the perfect length for Liam's attention span and definitely keeps him interested.



Friday, February 24, 2012

Liam is Not a Hipster and Other Weekend Laughs

I feel like every time I write a laugh post, I start it off by telling you guys that Liam and I were sick this week or I had a rough week at work. This week is no different. At the beginning of the week, Liam had pink eye, and at the end of the week, Liam and I were both a part of the red nose clan with our colds. It's true, though, looking back on the week and thinking about all of the funny things that happened does make me feel a little better.

5. This morning, before I left for work, I leaned over to give Liam a kiss. Craig looked at me and said, "Liam's mad at you."

"Why would he be mad at me?" I asked.

"Because you made him sick," he said.

It's true. I've been surrounded by sickies at work, and I'm pretty sure I drug it home with me. However, I'm also pretty sure that stomach flu I had a few weeks ago totally came from daycare. We're even now, so Liam has no reason to be mad at me.

4. Last weekend I gave Liam blueberries for the first time. He wasn't sure what to think of them and kind of puckered up when he put them in his mouth for the first time. "That's right, kid," Craig said. Then he turned to me and said, "Blueberries are an abomination, and you will not feed them to my child."

3. Liam got pink eye on Sunday. The doctor told me that there was a good chance that either Craig or I could get it and told me to keep the drops around just in case. On Monday morning, I woke up, and my eyes were feeling a little dry, so I asked Craig to look at them to see if they were getting red. He looked me in the eyes and said, "Do you want to know what I think you have?"

"What?" I aksed.

"Hy-po-chon-dri-a. Say it with me now. Hypochondria."

Thanks, Craig. And, for the record--he's probably right. I haven't gotten the pink eye yet. {{Fingers Crossed}}

2. Monday was also Craig's birthday. I handed him the sweater I bought him as he was getting ready. {Yes, I know I'm the lamest wife ever.} He said, "What's this?"

"It's your birthday present," I said.

"Is today Tuesday?" he asked.

"Umm, no it's Monday," I responded.

"But, Tuesday's my birthday," he said.

"Today's the 20th," I said. "Your birthday's on the 20th, right?"

"Oh. Okay," he said as he shrugged his shoulders.

I'm pretty sure the old age is getting to him. And my favorite part was when he put together an outfit consisting of brown, blue, and Kelly green. When he asked what I thought, I just giggled. "Whatever, I'll tell those b*tches it's my birthday," he said as he got ready to walk out the door wearing it.

1. My sister always makes fun of Craig for being a hipster. For the record, he's probably the furthest thing from a hipster, but he likes PBR and listens to Primus. Plus, it's really funny to see how defensive he gets when you call him a hipster. Last week, I was pretty excited about the sale at our local consignment store. They had two turntables. Since I'd already pretty much spent my limit, I decided to wait on the turntable, but I came home to brag to Craig about it, hoping he would tell me to go back and buy it. Instead, he just said, "Amber, our child is not a hipster. We are not getting him a turntable." Nothing like dashing my hopes, Craig.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Liam's Culinary Adventures

If Liam were a food critic, this is what I imagine he'd say:

"Those strawberries are delicious but slightly acidic."

"This avocado could use a bit more seasoning."

"I don't prefer the taste of these bananas. The yogurt melts you added on the side, however, are divine."

I'm certain he'd make a very refined food critic. Yes, that is a yogurt melt stuck to his forehead.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Letter to Craig

Dear Craig,

Last week, when you were in Austin and called to tell us that you couldn't wait for Thursday so you could spend all day with Liam, my heart pretty much melted. I like that you enjoy spending time with Liam, that you're willing to endure an estrogen-filled Christmas party just to make a hand print craft with him, and that you make us laugh. Sometimes, I take this parenting business a little too seriously.  I definitely need laughter.




You're an advocate for Liam when he needs an advocate. Remember that time that I wanted to buy Liam a stuffed globe.

"It'll be like having a Teddy bear, except it's a globe," I said.

"Amber, he's a kid. If he wants a Teddy bear, let him have a Teddy bear," you said.

I need to hear those things sometimes.

And, I know that I complain about how much you work way too often. I'm sorry about that. Instead, I should be thankful that you've found a career you're passionate about and that you actually like to spend your time off with Liam. I know that one day Liam will be grateful for your bonding days.

I remember one day, just after Liam was born, you came home after work, and you asked me if I thought you were a good dad. I don't know if I remember to tell you that often enough. Liam and I are pretty lucky to have you.

Love,

Amber

Friday, February 17, 2012

It's In the Name, Why It's Never a Good Idea to Hook Up With a Dictator, and Other Little Bits and Pieces

I know Valentine's Day is over, but I couldn't help but share a few of my favorite Valentine's-inspired links.

I changed my name. Finally. My maiden name is long, very German, and very difficult to pronounce, but for some reason, it was also very difficult to give up. I like that it's unique, and when I Google myself, the majority of the search results are actually referring to me. When Craig and I first started talking about getting married several years ago, I told him that I was going to keep my last name. Craig wasn't all that happy about that, but he also wasn't very forceful about me changing my name.

A baby changes things, though. I didn't want to bog him down with two last names, especially not my crazy long German last name. I also didn't really want to force Liam to have to explain to all of his friends that yes, his parents are married, and no, they don't have the same last names. I thought it was interesting that this post was published shortly after I made the decision to officially change my name.  Now, I've pretty much resorted to carrying my marriage license and new Social Security card with me everywhere I go. Changing your name is more work than I thought.

***

Fortunately, Craig wasn't a tyrant about changing my name. I was intrigued by this article on Tuesday. My favorite line from the article was: "it's never a good idea to hook up with a dictator."

***

Another of my favorite Valentine's Day stories was this story from NPR. Way to hook me with a trashy headline and woo me with a sappy love story, NPR. 

***

For some reason, I started thinking about this video this weekend. It definitely provided some inspiration for my wedding. 

I was originally thinking about eloping, and I sent this video to my sister. She said, "Um, they eloped, but they took a videographer with them?" I'm so glad I have a 19-year-old in my life to help keep me grounded.

***

I am in love with this printable from The Motley Mama. It's so perfect for us. I can't wait to incorporate it into a photo collage once I get my CD of wedding photos. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sodastream Non-Vlog

So, I have a confession. This was supposed to be a vlog, but alas, after a couple of takes, I realized that I just wasn't ready to make my vlog debut.


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The Sodastream was probably one of the coolest wedding gifts ever. We all know by now that I'm back to drinking three or four six Diet Cokes a day, so the Sodastream is a great way to save money. My favorite thing about the Sodastream is the fact that it doesn't need to be plugged in. It just comes with this giant CO2 cartridge that can be refilled.

It's also really fun to use. One thing to know about using the Sodastream is to make sure you screw on the soda bottle. I didn't read the directions, and I ended up spraying water all over myself. Then, I didn't tell Craig this {because I never tell him when I do stupid things in the kitchen}, and he ended up doing the same thing the first time he used it.

I'm pretty sure my kidneys can't take much more caramel syrup, so I thought it would be fun to try some other flavors besides Diet Soda.

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Pink Grapefruit-Blackberries-Strawberry Limeade






My favorite, by far, was the Strawberry Limeade, but the other two were pretty delicious, too. We also tried Orange Soda, Root Beer, and White Grape Juice, which tasted a lot like that non-alcoholic champagne that's for sale around New Year's Eve.  Do you have any ideas for future Sodastream experiments?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You Gotta Have Heart

"How do you make a robot? You need the usual nuts, bolts, and gears of course. But the key to a robot isn't what you'd expect..."


When I  ordered The Robot Book for part of Liam's Valentine's Day gift, I didn't expect to get a sweet little book that instantly intrigued Liam, but that's what I got.


Liam loves the gears in this book, and I'm impressed with how sturdy they are. I kind of expected gears made of card stock, but they're similar to the material used to make board books. I'm sure they'll withstand a lot of wear.


My favorite part of the book is the ending. It ends with the line, "It's what's inside that makes him tick." It's the perfect Valentine's Day gift.

Monday, February 13, 2012

All You Need Is...





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My brother and I made this photo collage for my mom for Christmas, but I think it would make a great Valentine's Day or Mother's Day gift, too.

My first year of teaching my friends and I dreamt up the Kyle Love Party {it's not nearly as creepy as it sounds}. It started out as a small gathering of friends with heart-shaped pizzas, treats, and a love  mix {again, not nearly as creepy as it sounds}, but over the years it grew into a pretty extravagant affair, complete with a chocolate fountain, a Valentine making/cookie decorating room, and the occasional choreographed dance. 

This year, our pre-Valentine weekend was a little more low-key. It started out with dinner on Friday night, and a Saturday spent listening to this year's love mix {thanks to my friend Anna} and making Valentines for Liam's party at daycare.
I had a few heart-shaped ice cube trays that I bought one year in the One Spot at Target for the Love Party, so I thought it would be fun to make these crayon hearts. 


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I also thought it would be fun to finger paint a Valentine for Mae. I originally planned to do the toilet paper roll hearts I found, but I was a little worried that Liam was still a little too young for that. Sadly, Liam didn't really like finger painting. When I stuck his fingers in the paint, he immediately curled them up and pulled away, but I think we got enough paint on the page to make a Valentine. 


 I was a little worried that the crayons weren't going to turn out, so I asked Craig to pick up some store-bought Valentines. When he called me to tell me what he got, he said, "You probably shouldn't have put me in charge of Valentines. I got Transformers. They're pretty cool, though. They have Optimus Prime on them and say things like 'Power Up, Valentine'." If we haven't already confirmed that Liam's the nerdiest baby at daycare, it will definitely be confirmed when he shows up with his Optimus Prime Valentines.






Friday, February 10, 2012

A Room Fit for an Explorer

Our Craig's latest project is remodeling Liam's future bedroom. So far he's torn down the awful ceiling tiles, the walls, and is working on framing out a larger closet.

I mostly just stay out of the way and try to plan the decor. I'm trying to plan something that Liam can grow into. I'm really into the vintage feel of this room. I want to mix in some vintage toys. And a globe. I definitely want a globe.



And what does one do when she's reached over 600 pins on Pinterest? Start creating Etsy treasuries. That's what. Yes, Craig, this is why our laundry isn't getting done.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cutest Babysitters Ever

Last night when I got home from working out, Craig had our friends over helping hang the ceiling in Liam's new room. They brought their two sons over, who are in 3rd and 5th grade. When I first walked into the house, Liam got a little fussy, so I sat down for a read-aloud of Tacky the Penguin before sneaking away to make myself dinner.

Over the course of cooking dinner, I couldn't help but listen in on the cutest conversation ever.

N: (Stacking the rings on Liam's ring stacker) Liam, is this right?
Liam: (Topples the rings)
N: (Stacks them again) Liam, is this right?
E: That's not how you're supposed to do it. (Starts tossing the rings like a ring toss.)
Liam: (Grabs a yellow and an orange ring.)
N: Look, he's got my favorite colors. Mine. Not your's.
E: (Puts a green ring on Liam's head like a crown.) The king of awesome.

They're going to be the best babysitters ever one day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Our Love Story {Part Three}

With our wedding behind us and Valentine's Day around the corner, I'm taking a break from the usual "wordless" Wednesday posts to share Craig's and my love story. If you're interested, you can read part one and part two.

***

By May, I landed a job working in the education department at a youth treatment facility.  I had originally planned to stay one year until I was able to get accepted to law school, and Craig and his business partners put the restaurant on the market. However, the restaurant didn’t sell as quickly as we would have liked and I discovered that I wasn’t all that passionate about studying for the LSAT or a career in law.

There was, however, a little blue house in town that I was passionate about. I walked past it almost daily, trying to peek inside through the French doors. It had been on the market for a while, and while part of me thought it was irrational to buy it, another part of me thought I had to have it. That August, we finally decided to buy it. Two months later, Craig and his business partners got an offer they couldn’t refuse on the restaurant. 



By that time the former owner of the resort company where we used to work had moved on to managing a little hotel and restaurant in the coal fields of Wyoming, so Craig went to work for him for a few months before being offered a position with the management company that currently operates the lodge where we first met.   


A few months after that, we discovered we were having Liam. By that time it seemed a little arbitrary to get married—we owned a house together, we owned a car together, and we were having a baby. But for some reason I wanted to say those two words.

After nearly nine years of knowing each other and five years of seriously dating, we finally did it. We finally said, “I do.” As we were greeting all of the guests at our wedding on January 14, one of Craig’s friends, Steve, leaned in to give me a hug, and he said, “It’s about time.” I’m not sure if I could have said it better. 






Monday, February 6, 2012

Sick Day

Last Monday afternoon, when I picked up Liam, Mae said, "You know he's just not himself." She told me she had given him Tylenol, but he was still pretty fussy. Liam's a pretty happy go lucky baby, who doesn't usually fuss just for the sake of fussing, so I was a little worried.

I finally decided to run him up to the pediatric urgent care, where they diagnosed him with an ear infection. He stayed home all day Tuesday with Craig, but he was still a little feverish on Tuesday night. After hearing that a few other kids at daycare had come down with various ailments {Pink Eye and stomach flu--ugh}, we decided to keep Liam home one more day.

The morning was filled with snuggles and books, but it was like he woke up from his nap feeling like a brand new man, ready and raring to play.


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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pay it Forward

The night before my wedding, my friends took me out for dinner at a little restaurant in a nearby town, where we had an amazing meal. I had a chicken paillard with red grapes. I honestly would have never thought of having chicken with grapes, but it was delicious.


When it came time to decide on dessert, our server said, "before you decide about dessert, I have a story to tell you," and she told us the following story:

"22 years ago, the couple at the table next to you went on their honeymoon in South Texas. One night, they went out for dinner, and an older gentleman paid for their meal. When they asked how they could repay him, he simply said, 'Pay it forward.'"
  

So, we had dessert, a mixed berry creme brulee, and I'm pretty sure I owe some bride a pretty delicious meal the night before her wedding.




Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Our Love Story {Part Two}

With our wedding behind us and Valentine's Day around the corner, I'm taking a break from the usual "wordless" Wednesday posts to share Craig's and my love story. If you're interested, you can read part one here.

Two school years; an internship in Washington, D.C.; and a summer in Houston later, I found myself teaching about two hours away from the little town where Craig and I had met.


That’s not to say that we had grown completely apart. While I was still in college, I would occasionally stop in and see him on my way home to see my parents on long weekends and over the holidays, but we certainly weren’t seriously dating.

One weekend, out of frustration, I sent Craig an e-mail that said something to this effect:

“If we’re going to be together we need to be together. If not, I need to move on.”

Fast forward six months, and Craig and I were officially dating. I didn’t really have any plans for the months between my first and second year of teaching, so I called my mom and asked if I could move back home. She responded with a resounding “no.” So, Craig offered to let me come live with him. When I told my mom, she said, “When I told you that you couldn’t move back home, I didn’t mean you should just go live in sin.”{She may or may not have been kidding when she said this.}



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The summer seemed to go really well, and in early August I moved back into my apartment in teacher housing in preparation for the coming school year.

On August 14, I got the phone call about my mom’s accident. I spent the following year alternating weekends between visiting my mom and visiting Craig, and I knew something had to change. So, a few weeks after Christmas vacation, I marched into our principal’s office and told him that I wouldn’t be returning the following school year. Honestly, I had no plan in mind for the following year other than moving in with Craig for good.