Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Going to Farm Camp

It's like summer camp, except better because you get to hang out with Grandpa on the farm.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Love You, Mouse

On Sunday, I had plans to take Liam to the lake to do fish prints at an Americorps Learn and Serve event. Unfortunately, Liam had other plans. He came down with a little bug, so Sunday was filled with lots of naps, cuddles, and reading time.

A few weeks ago Courtney and Lorelei sent us one of their favorite bedtime stories, I Love You, Mouse. Courtney must have been reading my mind, because I was having a particularly stressful day at work. When I got home to find I Love You, Mouse in my mail box, it brightened my day. 

It is truly a sweet book, and Liam loves it, too. When I finished, he flipped it over and opened it so I could read it again. It is sure to become one of our favorite bedtime stories.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Things Are Looking Up + Some Links

Life has been pretty crazy lately. Between the piles of unwashed laundry, work (we go to school year-round), Craig working pretty ridiculous hours, and an online book discussion for graduate credit (Seriously. It was only one credit. I don't know why I was so stressed out.), I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed. Things are looking up, though. On Wednesday night, I submitted my last few comments for the book discussion, Michaela came over to babysit (best.sister.ever.), and Craig and I headed to the Elks Theater for a $4 showing of The Hunger Games.

In other exciting news, I was putting together some information for end of the fiscal year reports and realized that the number of graduates and GED recipients jumped significantly this year (and the overall average score for GED recipients jumped by 15 points over last year). I'm pretty proud of those kids.

Now, for some links:

+I can totally relate to this post and this post from Courtney.

+I'm looking forward to reading one of the books from Rory's Book Club for our next book club pick (even though I haven't finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn yet--I may have to break  down and get the audio book). 

+ I keep a few of these pouches on hand for shopping trips or road trips, and I'm not going to lie, I broke down and fed one to Liam for dinner once or twice the past few weeks. Frozen chicken strips have also become a staple around here this summer. I totally didn't want to be that mom. 

+I'm loving Bethany's summer sensory activities.  I think we might have to try a couple of these this summer.

+So many flashbacks from this list.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful summer weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Prairie Pickers

Last weekend, my sister and I passed a little antique store that was going out of business. I've been hunting for some chairs to redo, so we decided to stop by and check it out. We had picked up one item here, another item there, when the owner walked through and said, "Load it up, we're charging $10 for a truck load."

It was then that I got a little carried away. When we took our items inside to pay, I was starting to feel a little guilty because I was sure that I alone had more than $200 in items based on the ticket price, and Michaela and I had been throwing our stuff together. "How much do we owe you?" I asked.

These pictures just show the stuff I got. Michaela got another suit case and a few other items of her own.

"What do you think is fair?" she said.

"Well...uh..." I said.

"How does $15 sound?" she said.

Michaela and I looked at each other in amazement, shelled out the cash, and headed out to the car.

"We're like American Pickers," I said, "bundling and saving."

"Yeah," she said, "we're prairie pickers." 

*Yes, I know I said I was going to quit spending money on crap, but I'm chalking this one up to paying for the experience.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Map Project Redux

Some of you might remember this project that I planned to make for Liam's explorer room. While the idea of brads and eyelets and cricut kind of scared me, I set out to recreate it one Sunday afternoon. I hung it on the wall, so proud of my creation, only to have Craig knock it down, ripping the M. I decided I needed something slightly sturdier than old maps backed with card stock for my one-year-old's room. So, after a couple of months of reading various DIY posts, I was able to piece this together.

-old maps (I found some at our local consignment store for a dollar each. I ended up using three for this project, but that was only because I was picky about what places I used.)
-wooden letters (I picked mine up for 70 cents each at Hobby Lobby this weekend.)
-white craft paint
-sand paper or a nail file
-a utility knife or an X-Acto knife (After using the utility knife, I highly recommend the X-acto knife.)
-Mod Podge
-a tree branch or wooden dowel (Ours was left over from trimming back our trees this spring.)
-string, or another hanging method (I had dyed some old white string with Tumeric when I made Liam's Jackalope onesie last month.)

1. Sand and trim the tree branch to your desired length.
2. Choose the maps you would like to use. I wanted this project to have some meaning. I chose Boston (Craig's birthplace) for the L, Eastern South Dakota (my birthplace) for the I, Central Florida (where Craig grew up) for the A, and Western South Dakota (the area where Craig and I met, were married, and where Liam was born) for the M.
3. Prime the wooden letters with white craft paint.
4. Use Mod Podge to adhere the pre-trimmed map pieces to the wooden letters.
5. There may be some overhang. Trim the maps, so they fit perfectly. Then sand it. I used a utility knife to do the trimming, but I wish I would have used an X-Acto knife. I experienced a few tears because the utility knife wasn't small enough to fit into some of the tighter spaces on the letters.
6. Cover the letters with another coat of Mod Podge.
7. I used a hot glue gun to glue the letters to a tree branch.
8. Tie and trim the string to your desired length for hanging.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On Father's Day

Just after I found out I was pregnant, Craig came home from work late one night and woke me up because he was so excited he had bought this onesie for Liam. While I was out buying green purses, Craig was buying buffalo onesies. It was then that I knew that Craig was going to be a pretty amazing dad.

Craig gets Liam ready for daycare almost every morning. He takes so much pride in that duty (and he's really good at it). Last week, I ran into a friend downtown. Liam was dressed particularly cute that day. (No thanks to me.) "Wow," she said, "Liam wears that to daycare?"

"Yeah, Craig dresses him," I said.

"Oh, that's so sweet," she responded.

Craig can also be credited with making Liam and I laugh when we're feeling particularly fussy, with keeping our cupboards well stocked, and with always being our biggest cheerleader. I count myself lucky to have such an amazing husband and father in my life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Some Thoughts on a Tuesday Night

When I first thought I was pregnant but still hadn't confirmed it, I went out and bought myself a green leather clutch purse*. It was like my single, childless girl last supper. (I feel like such a loser even admitting this.) For as long as I can remember, I've loved shopping -- a $15 Target shirt here, a $20 pair of ballet flats there. But lately, a few things have had me rethinking my love of shopping. 

First, I read Courtney's post. (Let's be honest, I stepped away from that post thinking, "Oh my goodness, she's not buying any new clothes for a year.") Most recently, Elizabeth's post got me thinking about how I spend my money. Those $15 shirts and $20 pairs of ballet flats add up to one big pile of things I don't really need. Perhaps, I should start focusing on spending on things that matter to me.

I frequently drop off items that I most certainly "needed" six months ago at the nearest consignment store or charity thrift shop. My little 1936 house is overflowing with more stuff than I like to admit that I own.

Tonight, as Liam and I were out on our evening walk, I continued to contemplate some changes I'm thinking about making. It occurred to me that for my sake and for Liam's sake, I need to continue to rethink the way I spend my money-- I need to start focusing on providing him with memorable experiences, like trips to Storybook Island and the farmer's market and hikes around the lake, rather than things that will pile up and eventually get donated or shipped off to the consignment store anyway.

*That green leather clutch purse is still laying on my top shelf, though. I still like to break it out for special occasions.

Then & Now

Last July, I caught this video of Liam dancing in the tub. 

Otis 1 from Amber on Vimeo.

Liam is as big of a fan of dancing to Otis Redding in the tub now as he was then.

Otis 2 from Amber on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Water Table Fun

We were finally able to break out the water table last Sunday. As many of you predicted, it is definitely the best investment ever. I think he'll love playing with it for many years to come.

It's all I can do to get this kid to drink water from a sippy cup. I think our next investment is going to be a few more boats...
...and a belt.

Who needs pants anyway?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Storybook Island

Last weekend, my sister and I took Liam to Storybook Island, a free kids park in our area. We saw the Cat in the Hat, traveled the yellow brick road, and pressed some pennies.

Then we went to the under five section of the park where Liam played on the swings, the merry-go-round, and we went down the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe slide.


Another boy was supposed to be on the merry-go-round with Liam. He was about two, but he got scared and wanted off. He and his parents sat and watched Liam, hoping that he would get up the courage to get back on. Liam smiled and waved as he went around. Seriously. This kid needs to find a gig as the grand marshal in some parade.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Life Lately, v. 5

Blowing His Own Nose

A couple of weeks ago, Liam grabbed a *clean* wipe as I was changing him and blew his nose. It's since become his new thing.  So grown up.


My sister and I took Liam to Storybook Island last Saturday. As he was swinging, he was trying to pump. Whenever we're the only ones at the park, I'll swing next to him, and he'll look over and try to pump. I'm sure he's seen older kids doing it, too, but I had never seen him doing it on his own. So funny.

Grandmas Don't Play that Game

Liam has taken a liking to throwing things on the ground. Last Sunday, we went on a little walk to one of my favorite stores downtown. After throwing his shoe in the crosswalk, Liam threw his hat on the ground when we got in the store. One of the ladies who worked there handed me the hat then looked at Liam and said, "Grandmas don't play that game."

Just Doin' Our Civic Duty

Liam and I decided to go vote tonight. Liam dressed up for the occasion. Look how proudly he wears that "I Voted" sticker on his jackalope onesie.

Drink the Wild Air

I don't normally need a list to motivate me in the summer, but when I read Janel's Summer Manifesto, I got really excited and decided to write one of my own.

-Explore new hiking trails. 
-Try new ice cream flavors. (I'm thinking of trying this ice cream--it's custard-based, which would be a first for me.)
-Make popsicles. 
-Check out more free attractions in our area.
-Walk at least four nights a week. 
-Paint the hallway. (I hate to admit to starting yet another DIY project, but I think this one's doable.)
-Shop at the Farmer's Market.
-Attend a night blast at Crazy Horse Memorial. 
-Read more {classic} novels. 
-Relax in the sun.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

The treatment facility where I work has two campuses-- one for boys and one for girls. I divide my time between both. The campus for girls is located in the middle of a state park that is home to one of the world's largest buffalo herds. The campus is pretty big with two dormitories that house 24 girls each, two classroom buildings, a pond, and a chapel that hosts events and church services. Yesterday, as I was walking a couple of girls from one building to the next, one of the girls said, "Whoa!" I looked over to see three large buffalo bulls grazing just across the fence. It made me start to think of all of the other encounters my coworkers have had with the animals lately.


One of the night staff was leaving around 10:00 or 10:30 one night and noticed two eyes near her car. It turned was a mountain lion. Needless to say, she didn't go much further. A few weeks later, a mountain was seen drinking from our pond in the morning (which is weird because they're usually nocturnal).


Marmots have been known to eat the wiring out of peoples' cars while they're at work. One of my  coworkers got home one night, and when she tried to leave to run some errands after work, her car wouldn't start. She and her husband lifted the hood to see what was wrong, and out popped a battered marmot. When I told Craig, who works in the same state park, this story, he said, "I guess we just live in harmony with our marmots."


A few weeks ago, I heard somebody say over the radio, "Umm, there's a large bull snake near the gas pumps." Of course, all of my students rushed to the window to try to see the snake. When they couldn't see it, they all asked if we could walk across the parking lot to take a look. When I said "no," I told them it was because we had a lot of work to get done, but really it was because I didn't want to have nightmares for the rest of the week.


Speaking of snakes, a coworker told me that this weekend, as they were loading the girls up in suburbans, they had a too close encounter with a baby rattle snake. For those of you who don't know, baby rattle snakes don't know how to control their venom, so they release more than an adult would. That's a fact I learned from a coworker who got bitten on a golf course in a nearby town. Fortunately, on this occasion, they were able to avoid a bite.


As I was looking through the pictures on my computer hard drive searching for pictures of buffalo, I realized I don't have any, mostly because I don't want this to happen. You wouldn't believe how many people I see trying to take pictures outside of their cars. Umm, it's a state park, not a petting zoo. They're wild animals, and they kind of scare me. 

Also, in regards to the mountain lions, they recently found a lion kill less than a block from our house. I don't care if they say the lions are skittish around people, I no longer take my garbage out at night. I'm not taking any chances.

P.S. If you've ever considered visiting Custer State Park, don't let this deter you.  I count myself lucky to live and work in such a beautiful location. I just think it's important to be cautious.