Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It’s Only Wednesday??

WARNING: Long post below!!

The last week or so has really worn me out from a combination of things… I have a new freelance project that requires 5-10 hours/week, and I’m still adjusting. That doesn’t sound like much, but it can be hard to squeeze that much focused time in when you have a 2-year-old that rarely naps and a teething baby whose sleeping isn’t where it normally is.

In a nutshell, I’m working for the medical software company that I first worked at and then freelanced for a few years when we moved to Chicago after BYU. I took a break from it a few years ago and am back, writing sales letters, press releases, and working on a massive search engine optimization project. I wasn’t super familiar with Google AdWords and Google Analytics before, but I’ll know both pretty well in no time.

Moving on to the photos…

First, my Charlie boy happy in the grass, though I’m feeling like I may have posted this picture already? If I did, you can enjoy it again :)


We recently moved him into his convertible car seat, so here is Charlie trying it out in the kitchen before we installed it in the car. Eli is jealous of the cow print and wants this to be his, but I want Charlie to have something new for a change!


Next, is the subject of Sunday, which was a PACKED day. I’m our stake’s media relations rep and had a bi-annual regional public affairs meeting (where PA people from Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana all come together). My meeting was at a building about an hour away, starting at 8 a.m. Ben was called into the bishopric this summer, so he’s usually gone at meetings from 7:45-11:30 a.m. I asked my friend Sharon and her family if they could watch the boys while we were both gone. Eli adores them – Sharon and Paul are in charge of the nursery and their oldest daughter always sits and helps me with the kids during Sacrament Meeting (and is the only teenage babysitter we’ve had so far – she is wonderful!) Eli loves her two younger sisters as well, so we knew he and Charlie were in good hands.

But the story is more complicated – we have one car, so Ben borrowed a friend’s second car, had to put the kids’ car seats in, and needed to dress the kids and drop them off at Sharon’s house around 7:45. I think he arrived at 8 a.m., slightly frazzled and running late.

When I came to pick the boys up, Paul had a funny new nickname for Charlie and Eli - “Chuck and Cheese.” For the record – we will never call Charlie Chuck. But I thought it was creative :) (Eli is Cheese because of the famous Eli’s Cheesecake in Chicago)

Anyway, I got home with the kids at 11:15, made a chocolate cake, chopped up a ton of veggies, browned the meat, and threw together a pot roast in the crock pot before we had to leave for church at 12:40. After church, we scrambled to get our house somewhat presentable and dealt with our tired, crabby kids, then my family arrived so we could celebrate the birthdays. We enjoyed dinner and dessert with them, then put the kids to bed, and collapsed on the couch. It was a good day – but it felt nice to just sit for a minute and not do anything.

Below is a picture showing how my Gram put 55 candles in my dad’s half of the watermelon (and 54 in my mom’s) – each watermelon half has “one to grow on” – so one extra candle. We had the cake too, but Gram really wanted the candles in the watermelon for something different :) Eli had fun helping Bumpa blow out his candles, and my mom blew hers out in one try!


Okay, that was a long story. Next is the slightly shorter story of our old house that feels like it’s falling apart!

Exhibit A: I walked into the kitchen last week and noticed the sink had become detached from the counter. Not good!! Luckily, the previous owners still had a copy of their receipt from when the granite was installed 18 months ago, so I called the company and they’re coming out in a few days to hopefully fix the problem.

Exhibit B: I haven’t had a chance to take a photo, but there is a spot in our living room ceiling that is bubbling, cracking, peeling, etc. and pieces of plaster are falling down. One contractor told me he thinks the upstairs bathroom floor is rotting under the tile, which is causing this problem. We’re still trying to decide what to do, because ultimately we would like to remodel the entire bathroom, not just rip out the floor. But we weren’t planning on it this soon.

On the upside, our friends Carrie and Steve came over on Saturday for a painting party and helped us finish painting the basement, and we worked from about 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. and we got it done! (I shudder to think how long it would have taken if I was still painting it all by myself) I will post photos soon. It is such a glorious, happy change! And it feels great to have the basement tidy again after a month of painting upheaval.


Monday was the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement. This is the holiest day of the year, and involves a day of fasting and attending a service at a synagogue. Every year, I get together with Saralyn and kids to make challah – braiding it is a tad complicated, but it’s so rewarding to see the finished product! It’s so delicious too. This was the first year that Drew and Caroline helped with the braiding, which was fun. Eli was happy playing with their toys and reading a book with Mike, but poor Charlie mostly whined at my feet. I even braided some of the challah with Charlie in my arms, which wasn’t easy since he kept trying to grab the pieces.


The next day, my mom stopped by before heading out to teach piano. She has seven students now in our town, and I think she’s hoping to add more near her home on the other days of the week. Charlie had fun seeing her for a few minutes.


And finally, here are some pictures from today – first, at playgroup. Eli in his snazzy outfit: the crazy blue sunglasses, the 12-24 month vest that barely fits, and his 2T blue shirt that is pretty big. Eli had fun running around the park and playing with his friends.


Charlie constantly has his mouth hanging open, his tongue over his fresh tooth. (I really think the second tooth will be here any day now) Poor Charlie has woken up at 5 a.m. for the last few days, so yesterday I decided this was way too early and not a good habit and let him cry it out, which was a very painful hour before he fell back asleep and woke up at 7. However, this morning he woke up at 5 a.m., cried for just a few minutes, and then went back to sleep and woke up at 7. I hope tomorrow’s morning is even better!


Charlie wants to be like the big kids, so here he is, trying to climb onto the train.


That’s hard to do though, so he was happy standing there and waving at me:


Eli got hot from all of his running around, so off went the vest. It was a cool fall day, but the sun was shining, which felt good!


Later in our back yard, when the temperature was falling but the boys were still happy to be outside:


This is Charlie’s expression that says, “Mom, it’s freezing, my nose is running, and I just want to go inside and eat dinner. Take me out NOW!”


Phew! You made it :) Sorry for the long post! I have about a zillion things I need to do, but it felt good to blog and catch up. I know I ramble though when I blog late at night... forgive me!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Both Dads!

It’s a day past my dad and father-in-law’s birthdays, but one thing about my life right now is that despite my best intentions, there are days when I’m not able to get some things done that I would like to. Charlie appears to be teething again, so he was VERY clingy and sad yesterday and barely napped. So, I accomplished very little, and when I did try to get some things done (like make dinner), he was crying the entire time. Thankfully, when we brought our food over to the Klearmans for dinner, the change of scenery was good for him and he wasn’t as fussy.

But oh my goodness – two hours of straight fussy, hold-me-or-I’ll-cry kind of an afternoon is hard.

Today will be better – Ben’s home and Carrie and Steve are coming over for a PAINTING PARTY!!! There is a good possibility that the basement project may actually done and I am so excited. And grateful.

Enough of my random chatter… here are some of my favorite things about both dads in my life, who amazingly have the same birthday and are 9 years apart.

Happy Birthday to David:

1. My dad is the best shopper and has a great eye for what might look good on you – he actually buys clothes for my mom as gifts (how many men do you know who can do that successfully?? I don’t know many) and I enjoyed shopping with him when I was growing up. He’s good at digging and finding good deals.

2. My dad pays attention to the world around him and thinks about how someone else might like or benefit from something that he sees. If he sees a magazine or newspaper article that Joe Schmo would be interested in, he cuts it out and sends it to them with a note.

2. My dad is a good writer. He is good at organizing information and communicating it in a clear way. He is still looking for a full-time job, but has been very busy with some contract work for the last few months. He would love to write fiction someday.

Happy Birthday to Larry:

1. I have the best father-in-law! I love hearing him talk about just about anything because he has very intelligent, well thought out ideas. I value his political opinions and his open-mindedness to a lot of different issues. I learn a lot when he shares his point of view.

2. Larry loves to fish and has instilled this love of fishing in my husband. I think it’s great that he and Ben have this in common and try to fish together at least once a year.

3. Larry is witty! Ben’s family has a web site that one of his cousins designed and programmed, called Turtlefox. Anyone can join, and I hate to compare it to facebook because it’s not the same (there are some features that I like a lot better on Turtlefox), but it’s basically a place to post blogs or pictures and share with friends and family. Larry’s comments on photos that members of his extended family post are often hilarious.

I was realizing this morning that I didn’t get a chance to wish my mother-in-law happy birthday on my blog this year because we were in Utah. So I’m going to wish her a happy birthday too, nearly two months later…

Happy Birthday to Cheryl:

1. Cheryl is the most organized woman I know. She has eight kids and I can’t imagine how nuts life was when all of her children were at home. I am really impressed with how she ran her home and kept order.

2. Cheryl works hard at bringing her family together. Six of her eight kids are boys, and boys don’t naturally stay in touch very well. She stays connected with everyone and keeps us all in the loop about how everyone is doing in their different corners of the country.

3. Cheryl and I share a love for Trader Joe’s. She is lucky in that there is a TJ’s very close to her house, so she can include going there in her regular shopping. My store is about 20 minutes away, so I only go about once a month. I think for the last two birthdays, we have given her a TJ’s gift card so she can buy some fun, new things that she wouldn’t have bought on a regular day.

And if you actually made it through this content-heavy post, I’ll close with my favorite piece of junk mail that comes every couple of months. The front of the pamphlet says,


and then there’s a comic-style picture of a woman saying, “Especially since it’s me!”

Happy Saturday! I’m off to clean my house :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday. She has started teaching piano lessons in homes close to where we live, so she comes down once a week. It’s a perk for me and the kids, since they are guaranteed to see Grandma every Tuesday! Today my dad cam with her and hung out with me and the boys while my mom was teaching. He even took the kids to the park later in the afternoon, so I was able to get some things done at home.

Here are some fun facts about my mom on her birthday:

1. She has so many talents, I don’t think I could list them all. She’s creative and amazing with knitting, sewing, crocheting, bow making, baking, card making, etc.

2. She recently refinished a bunch of bookshelves that she and my dad picked up from a warehouse sale. I think it took a long time, but once she’s determined to do something, she’ll get it done and it will look perfect.

3. My mom used to get up early with me in the morning before school, and would blow dry/style my hair for me (even when I was in high school!!). I’d love it if Eli or Charlie could learn so I wouldn’t have to style it myself… I’m still in the “shower really fast, hurry and get dressed, and try to keep Charlie from crying while I’m drying my hair as quickly as possible” phase. Someday I’ll make more of an effort, but it’s not easy at this point.

Happy birthday Mom! My dad’s birthday is on Friday, so I’ll be back with some facts about him in a few days.


Eli came out with me to get the mail this afternoon, and we decided to hang out on the front stoop and wait for my parents to arrive and to say hi to our neighbors as they got home from school. Eli was so excited when he saw the kids walking down the sidewalk! Here he is with Oliver:


Mary and Sasha with Charlie, who looked a little dazed because he just woke up from his nap. He’s had his tongue like that a lot lately – I think he’s still getting used to the tooth!


Eli has a real love for letters, and often tells me words to write on a piece of paper. He can recognize the words Eli, Charlie, Mama, Dada, Gram, etc. so I started teaching him our neighbors’ names, and he thought that was a lot of fun.

Of course when they were outside today, Eli got shy and didn’t want to do it on the spot! It’s funny because Sasha then suggested other words to write down and see if he knew them, but Eli only knows certain words at this point :)

Family Time – and Charlie at 8 Months

Eli and Charlie love when Ben is around. These pictures are from Saturday as we were leaving for the Farmer’s Market.


Then the next shots were taken after we returned. Eli had no intention of going inside, so we played in the yard for a while.


Charlie wants to walk SO badly so he can keep up with Eli! Instead he just crawls/climbs over Ben to try to reach him.


Eli loves rolling balls down the slide, especially when there is something at the bottom, like a sippy cup or bubbles container, for the ball to crash into.


And some details about Charlie at 8 months old…


He is a very efficient crawler now, moving on his hands and knees and getting where he wants to go.

He is also becoming more anxious with separation, especially if I walk out of the room. The crying starts instantly, and usually stops when I come back.

Charlie is pulling himself up on things like the couch, his leapfrog table, stools, etc. He likes cruising around from his little table to the couch, and gets VERY excited when we take his hands and walk with him.

Charlie’s favorite foods are baby oatmeal, smashed fresh bananas, cheerios, and puffs.

He’s been pulling himself to standing in the crib for about a week now, so every time he wakes up, he stands up and cries until I come rescue him.

His nighttime sleeping was screwed up recently when his tooth was coming in, and I wonder if a second tooth is on its way. He woke up early this morning (5 a.m.) and cried and cried and cried… I tried to be strong and mentally decided I wouldn’t pick him up and feed him until 6 a.m., but then I fell back asleep and woke up at 7. I’m not sure if he was awake that entire time or if he fell asleep too and woke up a while later? Sleep training is tough on both of us!


Charlie is such a good natured, mellow little guy. He can be very persistent when he wants something, but so far he’s pretty sweet with Eli and doesn’t retaliate when his big brother is being a pill. We’ll see how long that lasts! :)


Don’t you want to just squeeze those squishy, soft arms?

Running Around the Zoo

We’ve tried to spend as much time outside as possible, seeing how each beautiful day feels like such a wonderful treat. Last Friday we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo with some friends. We didn’t see a ton of animals, but the kids mostly just wanted to run around together and have fun.

Of course, the babies didn’t have the luxury to run, but they rode together in my friend’s BOB – here’s Charlie and Eloise, who are about two months apart.


There’s a theme in these pictures – Eloise and Vivian are sisters, and they both were giving loves to my boys :) Eli didn’t look so sure in this picture…


my friend Jessica holding Charlie:


and her little boy Elijah playing with Eli:


Eli copying one of the animal’s faces:


And his favorite zoo animal of the day – the SEALS! He loved watching the zoo keepers feed the seals and seeing the seals swim around. Here is Eli posing next to the seal statue, next to the real seal area:


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Playing at Home, Construction Noise, Preschool, and Ba Ba Ba!

Eli loves watching videos of himself on our little camera.


I think he thinks his grouchy videos are pretty funny. Silly boy.


And here’s Eli sitting on the couch, listening to his Thomas book on CD – he requests this at least two times a day. We have checked this book out and renewed it probably six times from the library. I know I need to just buy him a copy, but it’s nice to just use the library’s version! Eli loves Thomas stories, even though I think they’re kind of repetitive. We now incorporate some of the Thomas vocab in our daily conversation – phrases like, “Pish posh,” for example.


Here’s Eli on his first day of preschool this week!


I’ve had this backpack forever, from way before we had kids. Eli thought it was fun to wear his ladybug backpack!


Here we are in the classroom. He’ll go twice a week for 2 1/2 hours. He’s really excited about it.


One of Eli’s favorite activities this week – find every single animal or action figure in the house and line them up along the radiator, then stuff them all into the barn (this doesn’t give the full effect, since I took this picture pretty early on – eventually there were about 40 pieces lined up). Eli likes it when I fill a plastic bowl with a little water, hand him a paint brush, and he gets to wash his animals.


And this day I actually got the boys happily together on the couch! I love these expressions because Eli totally looks like Ben and Charlie looks like me.


I am so happy when I see Eli being sweet with his brother.


Charlie wants to stand ALL the time. Here he is, standing on the couch:


We’ve had more beautiful weather this week, so we went outside in the early evening tonight and played with the neighbor across the street – they have a little boy who is about to turn three, as well as a little girl who is just a few days older than Charlie. Eli and Max had fun running around and watching the construction guys pouring cement from the big cement mixer.


Last but not least, is my very dark video of Charlie’s “ba ba ba” sounds, with a little Eli mixed in too (who was not doing a good job with his dinner, little stinker!). Charlie was in his pjs climbing around under the kitchen table.

Charlie's "Ba Ba Ba" Sounds at 7 Months from Sarah on Vimeo.

OH we love our little munchkins!