Monday, June 27, 2011

Power Outage and Eli's First Stitches

Ohhhhh what a week! I don't even know where to begin. I guess it all started with a huge storm that passed through on Tuesday evening. We had hurricane-strength winds blow through here (70 mph winds) as well as tornado sirens and thunderstorm watches... it was quite the experience. When Ben and I heard the tornado sirens go off at 9 p.m., we stood frozen at the top of the stairs, trying to decide if it was really necessary to wake up our kids and run to the basement. About two minutes later, the power went off and Charlie woke right up since the sound machine turned off abruptly. Eli somehow slept through his sound machine turning off (I know, it's silly that they both have them, but Ben leaves so early in the morning that this is how we keep them sleeping later... it's my sanity saver!).

We pulled Charlie out of bed since he was awake and stood in the dark at the window watching the huge trees around our house sway and bend in the crazy wind. I ran downstairs to get some flashlights and Charlie had the best time running around in the low-lit family room. (We decided it wasn't likely there would be a tornado here based on what the info was saying about the path of the storm). Thirty minutes later, we managed to get him into bed and went to bed ourselves in our very dark house.

On Wednesday morning, we woke up to the power still being out. I was feeling semi-hopeful at that point that it would come on any minute... but as the morning went on, I got more anxious as I read a news article that said 400,000 people lose power during the storm, and more than 220,000 were still without power in the Chicago area. The electric company (ComEd) was estimating that power would be fully restored by Friday. There were tons of trees and branches down around our area and the towns north of us and it was slow going to restore power.

I loaded up the more expensive frozen foods (mainly meat) into a cooler and brought them over to a friend's house, and tried not to be too stressed that I had so much photography work to get done and no power to help me do it. Not to mention that I was supposed to teach the lesson in Relief Society on Sunday and needed my internet/computer to work on it.

By Thursday morning, I was SO frazzled about not having electricity for a second day. Our laundry was piling up, the dishwasher was full, and it was a pain to go in and out of the garage since I had to open and close it manually each time. I went over to friends' houses to charge my phone and computer, but I was so frustrated with the situation that I had a hard time focusing. Eli could sense that I was out of sorts and asked me on multiple occasions if I was doing okay. He is such a sweet, sensitive little guy.

When the power finally came back on Thursday at 2:15 p.m., Charlie was napping and Eli and I were hanging out in the family room building block towers. All of the sudden the lights flipped on and we got SO excited!! I am so appreciative of everything we can do when our electricity works.

Moving on to the drama from today... I was scrambling to finish my RS lesson this morning and Ben took the boys with him to visit an older couple in our ward before church. Ben called me at 12:25 and said they got to church early and Eli was running in the foyer, excited to be first in the chapel when he tripped (he only wears these shoes on Sunday, so I feel like he's a little more clumsy in them) and hit his head either on a table or corner of the door, and got this lovely gash on his forehead.

I think Ben handled it all really well and also had help from some nice people who saw what happened and rushed to get him paper towels to help stop the bleeding and a first aid kit. He managed to get both boys into the van and I met them over at the emergency room with Eli's favorite froggy and blankie for a little comfort. Here's his sad gash (the nurse covered him up with this "cape" to keep him dry when she rinsed and cleaned the wound):

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After the cleaning, the boys hung out on the hospital bed while the cotton ball taped to Eli's head numbed the area to prepare it for the stitches. You can see Ben's iPhone on Eli's knee - the boys were entertained by Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Backyardigan's episodes. It was such a great distraction.
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Eli did such a great job holding still during the stitches. A nurse stood behind and held his head and I held his hands. I couldn't handle watching them put the stitches in.

Oh Eli. Your first stitches!! You are such a trooper.

We got home at 2:30 and then I pulled my things together and ran over to the church to teach the RS lesson at 3:10. I am so tired from this crazy week and am looking forward to a quieter, more predictable week coming up! You can see some pictures of one of my recent photography sessions here. I have lots more to post on my photography blog that I'll hopefully have time to put together this week.

*These pictures were taken with Ben's iPhone (first two images) and my Blackberry (the last one). The iPhone definitely won with better picture quality :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Enter to Win a Clickin' Moms Lifetime Membership!

I love contests. I love entering them, winning them, but hosting them is also a favorite! I'm so happy to have a contest for YOU!
Hey all of you DSLR owners or anyone who is looking to learn more about photography - I am giving away Clickin' Moms Lifetime Membership ($195 value) on my photography blog! I have been a member for about a year and a half and have gleaned so much great technical information from the forums as well as inspiration for discovering my own sense of style when it comes to photography. There is a plethora of information on that site! The majority of members are professional photographers, but there are plenty of hobbyists as well - so come join us! The contest ends June 30th, so come on over for details on how to win.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day and Fresh Corn-Rice Salad

This first picture is for Stacy, who originally blogged this idea of her son having fun stacking with plastic cups. I showed it to Eli and he got excited to try it out. Now he stacks cups at least once a day into new patterns and pyramids.Father's Day 2011-1
And Happy Father's Day! I'm glad we have a holiday that celebrates great people like my dad and my husband and father-in-law. They have all been great examples to me in how they parent and interact with their kids. Yesterday we went up to my parents' house for an early Father's Day dinner and walked around the golf course behind their house for a little bit. Eli and Charlie had fun with the rakes at each hole.
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After a little while, some golfers showed up and we had to book it off the course to get out of the way.
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We stopped to look at some bugs on the big rocks along the path -
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Eli making a very typical Eli face when he's thinking or questioning something -
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Eli found some treasures to share with his dad (pine cone and rock):
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Charlie had fun stuffing sticks down the gutter holes.
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Back inside, we opened presents and the boys were a little wild/overtired...
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Before heading home for the night, we put the boys in their pjs and they read a book with my parents.
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As for today, we had a fun morning at home. The boys and I made a yummy breakfast for Ben and gave him cards and some presents. I love these pictures of sleepy Ben, content Charlie, and excited Eli.
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Finally, here is a tasty recipe to share - I made it as part of our Father's Day dinner tonight and served it with grilled salmon and fruit. I used jasmine rice tonight, but we thought it would be good next time to mix the jasmine rice with wild rice, or use brown rice/wild rice to make it a little heartier. Happy Father's Day!

4 ears fresh corn
1 1/2 C. cooked rice, cooled
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 C. fresh arugula or spinach
1 small red onion, cut in thin wedges
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
2 Tbs rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil


    1.Husk corn and remove silk with a stiff brush; rinse. Cook corn in boiling, lightly salted water for 3 minutes. Remove corn; let cool. Cut corn off the cob in planks (see note).
    2.Combine cooked rice, tomatoes, arugula, onion and jalapeƱo pepper. Transfer to serving bowl; top with corn.
    3.Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
    Note: To cut planks, place an ear on its side on a cutting board. Holding the corn firmly with fingers away from the blade, cut off a side of the corn. Rotate and repeat until all sides are removed. Use a spatula to gently move planks to salad.

    Source: BHG
    Lastly - I'm trying to catch up on editing from some recent photo shoots. Check out this link to see the most recent session blogged of a family with two handsome boys!

    Thursday, June 09, 2011

    Chicago Botanic Garden's Tulips

    We have had the craziest weather in the last few months (including this week when it was SO hot - in the mid-90s and super humid, stifling....bleh! And today it's dropped 30 degrees thank goodness. How do my southern friends/family handle the heat?? I wanted to kiss my air conditioner when it worked hard all day/night, going full blast to try to keep our house cool).

    The upside of having a ton of cold, rainy, or hot and steamy days, is that on the nicer weather days, we've scrambled to go outside and take advantage of the more mild temps. We went to the Chicago Botanic Garden in May when the tulips were blooming and they were gorgeous! I love walking around this place.

    We picked up some delicious Ravinia BBQ and brought it in to the garden area to have a picnic. Sort of. The boys had more fun running off and playing near/in/around the fountains. It was around 5:30 on a Friday evening and the gardens were really empty, surprisingly. But the boys loved having so much space to run around and smell all of the pretty flowers.


    Wednesday, June 08, 2011

    Toddler Quirks

    Charlie has the funniest toddler ways. He recently went through a phase where he wanted to wear his helmet everywhere. Inside, outside, in the car, it didn't matter. He was VERY insistent on this and screamed his crazy fits when we attempted to take the helmet off when it wasn't on his terms.

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    He loves helping me empty and load the dishwasher too. I'm not a fan of the shoes in the dishwasher, but I think that was a struggle too (getting the shoes off).
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    He also loves washing things in the sink and helping me make the boys' daily peanut butter & honey sandwiches. Charlie will see me making something in the kitchen, run to grab a chair and push it over to where I'm standing and nudge his way in so I can't not let him help. :)

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    Friday, June 03, 2011

    Charlie and Eli Stats

    Charlie is a tiny spitfire, but also a sweet, lovable, spunky little 2-year-old. He will say or repeat almost anything now, most of it makes sense, but sometimes I have to repeat different things back about 10 times before I get it right. I'm always amazed when we read books together and he can finish each sentence. He can count to twenty in his cute little voice and has strong opinions about what he wears each day. That kid has such cute clothes in his drawers but prefers about five shirts, the rest he yells, "NO!" and throws them across the room when I pull them out in the morning. Eli is the opposite and usually really easygoing about what I set out for him to wear. 

    We went to the doctor today for Eli's 4-year checkup, but also for a weight check for Charlie, who is up to 24 pounds (he gained 2 pounds in 5 months, whoo hoo) and is consistently following the third percentile for weight. His doc says three percent is fine and he's just happy to see Charlie following the same growth curve. He's just a skinny little guy.

    Eli measured in at 40.2 inches (he's gone up from 25% to 50%) and 33 pounds (25%). As Dr. Andy put it, "He'll be taller than you!"

    I would hope so :) He has 20.4 inches to go.

    These shots of Charlie were from tonight before bedtime. Eli's legs were sore from his vaccinations, so he went inside early and got his Angry Birds fix since he stayed dry all day. So Charlie had free reign of the yard and both parents to play with him. 
    And finally, here's my favorite shot of Ben and Charlie from a few weeks ago:
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    Thursday, June 02, 2011

    Eli's 4-Year-Old Faces

    I took these pictures on our front porch after Eli's birthday party a few weeks ago in the evening when he was already in his pjs and almost ready for bed. I love his fun personality and creative spirit! This kid makes me smile every day with his funny phrases and comments about everything.

    "Mom, this is SO awesome!"

    "Mom, I have a special marble and the other marbles can't fly."

    "Mom, this is SO impressive."

    "Well, do you want to see this? Watch me."

    "Look mom! Are you looking?"

    "I used Eli power."

    "Does Charlie get a timeout? He totally hit me."

    "Can you get a spoon? I want to make something awesome. And then I'll make something cool."

    "I always love light blue."

    "Do you want to see how hard I can jump on the ground? It goes KABOOM! But I may need a helmet."

    "No problem."

    He talks and talks and talks and I am eating up this cute stage of his life. He's curious and coming up with new stories and ideas all the time.