Thursday, September 30, 2010

iPhone Photo Fun

Here we go!

Our kids are a little...obsessed with technology. They get it from their father. Abby got a Nintendo DSi for her birthday this year, and she and Ethan can be entertained for hours. This picture was taken at my grandmother's house. I like it because I can look at it and pretend they like each other, when in fact they just tolerate each other because there's only one DSi and they have to get that close to both see the screen.

Is there going to be a picture of my son behaving badly every week? Probably so. This is Ethan scrubbing white crayon off of our love seat. Let me tell you, removing crayon from microfiber is not my idea of fun. It's not his either.

Mmmm. This picture was taken this past Christmas when we visited my brother Jacob and his wife Patty in Mountain Home. We were joined by my brother Michael and his wife Siobhan. We stayed up after the kids went to bed one night and played spades. We had a fantastic time until things turned a little...dramatic. You can read more about that here. I've no doubt I'll be getting a smarmy comment from Michael on here any time.

We have a fantastic group of musicians at our church, The Harbor. One Sunday morning, they all came dressed like lumberjacks (granted, one is a very pretty lumberjack). Also, note the one-foot-forward pose that all boys performing music seem to make.

Ohhh, just looking at this picture makes me want to go wake him up and squish his cheeks. Well, almost. This is Aaron the day we brought him home from the hospital. He's wearing the same outfit that Ethan came home in. I can hardly stand looking at this he's so cute.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I feel the need, the need to read

I love to read.

I have always loved to read. When I was a kid, I read all, and I mean all, the time. I read when I ate. I read before I went to bed and after I went to bed. I read while I was watching television. I likely remain the only student in the history of Baker Elementary to get recess detention as a punishment for reading (apparently hiding my Babysitter's Club series #8 book, Boy Crazy Stacy, under my math book and reading while I was supposed to be working was not okay.)(Yes, I know I'm a freak for remembering what book it was that got me in trouble in the 6th grade. It was traumatic--I had never gotten detention before.). I read any time I rode anywhere in a car. The unfortunate result of that was that when I turned 16 and got my driver's license I had no idea how to get ANYWHERE because I never paid attention when I was a passenger. I got teased a lot for that.

I majored in English in college. I enjoyed it, though it annoyed me to have to tear apart a book to try to find what an author was "really" trying to say. I always wanted to meet one of these authors and have them tell me that they just thought it was a cool story, so they wrote it.

Few things in life delight me more than a really good book. That's why it is such a BUMMER that I have not read a really good book in a really long time. I can't even use the excuse that I don't have enough time--I could definitely squeeze some reading into my day, though it would cut into my Spider Solitaire time. The problem is that books are EXPENSIVE. Well, you say! Just go to the library, you silly girl! I do. I have. About a million times. The problem is, the library just throws all the fiction books into one giant section. At Barnes and Noble, I can go to their featured books table and instantly find 10 books I want to read. At the library, it takes me an hour to peer my way through one aisle, sifting through the Westerns and Romances to find the good stuff. Who has the time for that? And inevitably the book I want is in hardback, and I am way too clumsy to read hardbacks. So, most of the time I am without a book to read.

I don't mean to imply that I never read. I get People Magazine in my mailbox every Friday, and it is usually devoured before I go to bed that night. We also get Reader's Digest, and I make pretty quick work of it too. (Mock not--there's some good stuff in there, and the funny stories people send in are great.) (Okay, I just read that last sentence. Go ahead and mock.) Also the newspaper semi-regularly. And of course, there are the legions of books I read with the kids. Why, just last night we read:

Skippyjon Jones in Outer Spice
Hippos Go Berserk
The Care and Feeding of Rabbits (no, we don't have a rabbit and we aren't getting one. Ethan wanted to know why rabbits eat carrots, and his sister got him the book at the library. It did not answer his question.)

I have to fix this problem! I need grown up books to read. I think what I need to do is make a list of books I'd like to read and take it to the library--maybe if there are enough on the list I can find a few in paperback. I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Because it seems appropriate, here's a list of some of my favorite books:

Time Traveler's Wife (#1. If I could only read one book for the rest of my life, this would be it.)
Poisonwood Bible
Memoirs of a Geisha
Kite Runner
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Anything by John Irving; A Prayer for Owen Meany is genius
The Devil in the White City
The Handmaid's Tale
All 3 Stieg Larsson books
Anything by Edward Rutherfurd; New York is my favorite
The Harry Potter series
Velvet Elvis (I'm not usually a nonfiction fan, but this book changed the way I view my faith)

Okay! What am I missing out on? What do I need to read RIGHT NOW? And if you own it, can I borrow it?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

iPhone Fun and an announcement

Okay, this is going to be the second installment of my series, iPhone Fun, in which I display and describe random pictures I have taken with my phone. Before we get down to that business, though, I just have to say: WHOAH! Yesterday my blog got more than twice the visitors it has ever recieved on a single day. I have to think it's because of the millage post and the several kind people who linked to the post on Facebook. I haven't gotten any death threats yet, so I'm going to assume most people liked, or at least tolerated, the post. And hopefully they were so blown away by my witty style and mastery of the English language that they will become regular readers.

And so! I have decided to add a second regular feature to the blog. In order to help us all remember that it's never as bad as it seems, I am introducing the Silver Lining series. Each week I will provide 5 silver linings to what most people would consider an impossibly bad situation. Can you hardly wait??

Okay, now on to today's post. I give you, selected at random and certain to classify me as stranger than you even thought before, photos from my iPhone:

Like the good mom that I am, I forgot to bring my camera to Ethan's last soccer game this spring, and so my iPhone holds the only photo of him after he recieved his medal. He's awfully proud, which is funny considering that he mostly ran about 10 feet behind the other players and cried because they wouldn't let him have the ball.

Ahhh, Ethan again. A few weeks ago he played quietly in teh room he shares with Abby for about 20 minutes. Not sure why I let that happen. I guess he decided the stuffed animals needed to take a ride, so he climbed on top of their bunk beds and methodically propped each animal on a fan blade, rotating the fan to reach each blade. He never said a word about it, just came out after he was done and had a snack. Abby found it like this several hours later. Am I the only mother who has the need for a "no placing toys on the ceiling fan" rule?

Wild Hair Day at Abby's school. I was coming back from being out of town that morning. This was what her dad came up with, and what I saw when she came home from school that day.

This is torture. When Matt and I went to Vegas in February, there was a spectacular bakery in our hotel that we went to once or twice. A day.

Abby and Ethan singing and doing the motions to "One Eyed, One Horned Flying Purple People Eater" on the way to our daycation in August.
Okay, that's it for today! You have to wait another week to see more oddball pictures. Don't worry, though--you won't have to wait more than a day or two for more oddball blogging.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

But hey, think about it this way...

I have a lot of friends who are VERY disappointed that the Springdale millage did not pass today. It's a bummer for sure, but I always try to look on the bright side. I wanted to do my part to cheer everyone up, so I present to you now:


5. Our kids will have so many more friends when they have 60 kids in their class.

4. Har Ber students will be able to swing by Sonic Happy Hour on their way to their off-site athletic practices.

3. Nostalgic Springdale High alumni can rest assured that their football stadium's bathrooms remain "original" and "authentic".

2. If the school district buys the right kind of trailers to use as overflow classrooms, they can just hook them up to big trucks at the end of the day and deliver kids to their houses--talk about saving on bus costs!

And the number one silver lining to the Springdale millage not passing:

1. Everyone has something to post about on Facebook!

I love you all, and I am impressed with your dedication. Apathy is for wussies.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Which are you?

Tomorrow our city votes on a proposed 2.4 mill increase to our property taxes. The bulk of the money will be used to build new (badly needed) middle and junior high schools, but a not insubstantial chunk will be used to build a new football stadium and other athletic facilities for our newer high school, and upgrade the football stadium of the older high school.

I am not going to use this blog to either support or criticize the proposal, partly because I don't want a bunch of drama, but mainly because I have mixed feelings about it. One the one hand, overcrowding in our schools is a continual problem, and I do not really want my kids in classes with 60 kids. On the other hand, I feel like we're getting a little played by the way they lumped in the frills with the needs. At any rate, I can certainly understand reasonable arguments on both sides.

The mill increase means property taxes would go up $4 per month for every $100,000 worth of property owned--doesn't seem exhorbitant. However, the way people are going on about it, you'd think we were being asked to take out second mortgages in order to avoid the total shutdown of the school system. I've listened to most of the dialogue with a fair amount of interest, though sometimes people use arguments that I find extraordinarily irritating. And talking about things that irritate me is much more what this blog is about!

Here are the arguments from each side that most make me want to bang my head against a wall:

1. Do NOT tell me I shouldn't vote for the millage because "we pay enough taxes already." That's like telling your 10 year old son that you aren't going to buy food for him anymore because you just bought his 16 year old sister a car and you're tired of spending so much on your kids. If you have reviewed the proposal and you don't believe the district needs the things the millage will pay for, fine. But to oppose a tax on the general premise that you just don't like being taxed is silly.

2. Do NOT tell me I should vote for the millage if I support education and my school district. This one really bugs me. I think a lot of people feel like they have to vote for any education millage because they don't want to be thought of as the jerk that doesn't want their city to have good schools. There's a lot of bullying going on in this department, and I don't like it one bit. Voters were presented with a complete package--one option to vote for. It IS possible to want more money spent on our district, but to oppose spending so much on athletic facilities, or to oppose the amount spent to build each school (our newer schools do look very mansion-ish), or to wonder out loud why other areas that it seems should be higher up on the priority list aren't. We don't get to vote on tweaking the budget, or approve part of the projects but not all of them. So to criticize someone for not immediately jumping on the millage bandwagon because the phrase "more money for schools" is used is just ridiculous.

So! According to these arguments, if I support the millage I'm a greedy tax loving hoarder, and if I oppose it I'm a freeloading unsupportive education hater. Peachy.

Well! It feels good to get that off my chest. This time next week, regardless of what happens, the millage won't be news any more. There will undoubtedly be some other controversial issue that will have everyone worked up into a lather. I can hardly wait.

Monday, September 13, 2010

iPhone Fun*

I am excited to announce a first in AMENMom blogging history--a regular feature! Keep your seats, folks. I am shamelessly copying this idea from a couple of other blogs I read. Once a week, or thereabouts, I will post 5 random photos that I have taken with my iPhone and explain them. I recently uploaded my iPhone photos to my computer for the first time, and trust me--there is plenty of photo fodder (how's that for some good alliteration??) to carry this feature for a while.

I have to admit, when I got my iPhone last fall I really didn't think I'd use it to take pictures all that much. Boy, was I wrong. The kids know there is a camera in my phone and they demand to have pictures taken all the time. Also, since my phone is with me pretty much 24/7 (Yes, it's a bit of an addiction. No, I don't see any problem with that) I can take pictures of really random things I see. And let me tell you, I see a lot of random in this life of mine.

I put all of the blogworthy photos into a folder on my computer, and I will pull 5 at random each week--I won't even look at them until they're on the blog. Should be an interesting mix each time. So, week one! Here we go!

Ooh, a good one right out of the gate. I got an app on my phone called QuadCamera that does photo strip-esque pictures. It takes them every fraction of a second. I feel fairly sure that if Matt had any idea this could someday end up on the Internet for all to see, he would have ensured its destruction long ago.

Ethan has a pair of pajamas that are WAY too big for him. For reasons I cannot comprehend, he loves to wear the pants, even though they are a foot and a half too long and the waist band is twice as big as his own waist. Here he is modeling the fact that they do fit, if worn a la Pee Wee Herman and when he sticks his chest out as far as possible to keep them from falling down.

There's a local park with a pond that is home to dozens of ducks and geese. It's the local "good parent" thing to do to take your kids to feed the ducks every once in a while. This picture deceivingly makes the process seem entertaining and quaint. In fact, it's terrifying. Those suckers are aggressive and MEAN. Especially the big white geese--they hiss at you! And bite! I am not ashamed to say they terrified me.

Oh, baby. In February Matt and I went to Vegas. He had a conference there, so all we had to pay for was my airline ticket. I was 6 months pregnant and this was our last chance to relax before we became a family of 5. Since Matt was gone to meetings most of the day, I spent a lot of time laying around, reading and eating. The first morning we were there, I allowed myself the luxury of ordering room service. Eggs Benedict is one of my favorite breakfasts of all time, and this one did not disappoint. It was like $38, but whatever. Today my breakfast was an Eggo waffle. It all evens out in the end.

Matt's parents brought the kids these accoutrements on New Year's Eve this past winter. They LOVED it. This is one of my favorite pictures of them.
*I considered titling this feature "iPhone Phun" to poke a little fun at so many people's tendency to misspell out of an attempt at cuteness--you know, "Kammie's Korner" and "Kwik Kash" and the such. In the end, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The yuckiest thing in my life

Warning: the topic of this post is gross. If you are squeamish, you'd be best off just moving on to the next blog on your list.

I normally don't write about gross things, but this particular thing is such a major part of my life right now that I figured it deserves a little respect, in the way that brilliant criminals deserve respect for their quick thinking and daring attitudes while also deserving to be tossed in prison. Oh, to be able to deal with this problem that easily.

The problem--plague, really--of which I speak is this: spit up.

Matt and I were alarmed when Abby, at a couple of weeks old, began spitting up substantial portions of her formula after every feeding. It got worse and worse. The pediatrician said she had reflux and prescribed Zantac to keep her from being in pain from all the spitting up, but nothing could stop the flow. She didn't grow out of it until she was almost a year old. Then we had Ethan, and he was just as bad. When I got pregnant with Aaron, we knew that in all likelihood he would follow suit.

He has not disappointed.

This time we were ready--as ready as you can be, anyway. We know the right bibs to buy (terry cloth is most absorbant), the best position to feed him in, and to never lay him down on any surface without first covering it. We bought dozens of cloth diapers, which make the best burp cloths ever, and they are placed strategically around the house. I never leave home with Aaron without a change of clothes, 3 bibs, and 4 cloth diapers in his bag. Friends are welcome to hold him, but they are first warned that they might need to change their clothes afterward.

Aaron actually has a pretty mild case of reflux compared to the other two. He spits up a LOT, but it doesn't have the, shall we say, velocity that the other two managed. And right now he's still just on formula so it's not too bad. Soon, though, he'll start baby food and that's when it gets really nasty. It's okay, though. I've done it twice, I can do it again. And it will end eventually.

On a less icky note, we saw Blue Man Group this weekend at the Walton Arts Center. It was fantastic. It was my 3rd time to see them. I'm a huge fan. The people who sit in the first 2 rows have to wear ponchos to protect their clothes from stray paint, Twinkie stuffing, and marshmallows (if you haven't seen the show, don't even try to understand). Before the show, I watched those people don their ponchos, looking nervous, and saw them flinch every time something went flying during the show. Amateurs.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A good day

A year ago today, I woke up in a fabulous hotel room in the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas. I had a wonderful day with Matt, exploring the Red Rock Canyon, wandering around downtown Vegas and eating a lot of really good food. We didn't know it yet, but I was in the very earliest stages of my third pregnancy--too early to feel any symptoms. We were celebrating our tenth anniversary.

I recalled this experience today, our eleventh anniversary, while sitting on my couch in my pajamas, feeding Aaron and watching a rerun of West Wing. Not quite the same kind of experience. Our day was not what you'd call carefree or romantic. I got to go to Wal Mart for groceries on a Saturday, at noon, on a holiday weekend, the day of the first Razorback home game, with an infant that cried every time I stopped the basket or moved out of his line of vision. Matt got to clean out the garage in search of the possum that somehow snuck in several days ago and has been using it for his bachelor pad ever since. (He found it.)

The funny thing is that I really don't mind that we didn't have a super-exciting day. We're going to see Blue Man Group at the Walton Arts Center tomorrow night (we saw them in Vegas on our second anniversary and they were GREAT) so we are celebrating--just not today. And anyway, the day seemed appropriate somehow. The thing I love about our marriage is that we are both so content with the normalcy of our lives. We aren't those people who must have excitement and drama at every turn. A great evening for us is one in which the kids go to bed early and we get takeout and watch a movie or play cards. And let's be honest, when we do go to Las Vegas, we don't exactly tear up the town. We're too old and too dorky for that. For heaven's sake, we went bowling the last time we were there.

I remember in the days leading up to our wedding, people continually asked me if I was nervous about getting married. I never quite knew how to answer. I was nervous about the wedding, sure--would I trip walking down the aisle? Would I get embarrassed by one of the MANY people in my family able to make that happen in any number of ways? But I was never in the least bit nervous about getting married to Matt. That was the easiest thing ever. Even then, when we were just 22 year old children, I knew how lucky I was. I knew that he would be a faithful husband, a great parent, and a loyal friend. In the last eleven years, he's nursed me through losing my tonsils and wisdom teeth, plus 3 c-sections. He's done more mopping and vacuuming than me, let me sleep late when the kids get up early on Saturdays, taken the trash to the curb every week (okay, MOST weeks), coached a girls' soccer team, and let me have slightly more than my fair share of the covers. He's one of the good guys. One of the best, really.

So sure, I'd have loved to have spent our anniversary on a great vacation somewhere exotic. It's not necessary, though. I love him just as much when we're sitting in our living room. Especially when I know there's no longer a possum lurking in the garage.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Maybe I should have asked about the curriculum

When kids start going to school, there must be some secret meeting where they're trained to reveal nothing about their day to their parents, no matter how much prodding they receive. What did you do today? Nothing. What did you learn? Don't remember. What did you have for lunch? I forgot.

It drives me batty. Abby's finally learning that it's easier to just give me a couple of nuggets of information than to suffer through my harrassment. Ethan is a wall of silence, though. He will stand by his insistence that his brain has completely deleted the contents of his day no matter what I do, or threaten to do.

Except for today. Today he threw me for a loop. We got in the car, and I asked him to tell me what he learned, not really expecting an answer--just doing my motherly duty. So imagine my surprise when the following conversation ensued:

Me: So Ethan! What did you learn today?

E: Tricks.

Me: Your teacher taught you tricks?

E: Yep.

Me: What kind of tricks?

E: Doing headstands.

Me: Headstands??

E: Yep. Headstands and clown juggling.

Me. Um.

E: Oh, and you know what else?

Me: Clown juggling?

E: Yes, mommy. Clown juggling. And you know what I learned about Friday?

Me; What?

E: That it's Tuesday.

Me: Ummm.You learned that Friday is Tuesday.

E: Yep. And do you know what ELSE I learned?

Me: I'm pretty sure I don't have any idea.

E: I can't tell you. My teacher said I can't tell my mom and dad the other thing that I learned.

Me: Well then.

I figure one of three things is going on here:

1) My son lives in a world of his own imagination a good portion of the time, and I took a little visit there today.

2) My son has gotten tired of me asking about his day, and decided to try to freak me out enough that I won't ask any more.

3) Pre-school is WAY different than when I went.