Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hog Dog & Tantrum Fest

Last night was the final Awards Night for AWANAS and to celebrate they hosted a Hot Dog Feed before the ceremony. David made sure to be home in time to attend and the four of us dutifully arrived and went through the line to get our hot dogs, baby carrots, chips, cookies, and juice. We all finished our food within 15 minutes and waited another 15 minutes before the Second Round commenced. It was serious hot dog eating time.

After we ate our fill of hot dogs we headed downstairs to drop Grace off at the blue table in the Cubbies room and proceeded to the back row for the Cubbies Awards. Naturally Ethan was having one of his cranky "I'm Going To Practice Being a Terrible Two" days and grumpily cried through most of it. I barely got some pictures between the crying jags.

Next up we were supposed to go up to the church sanctuary while the Cubbies came up later. The moment we walked into the sanctuary it became apparent that there was no way that Ethan was going to sit still or be anywhere near quiet so I took him to the foyer in the back. We looked in the mirrors, went up and down a small flight of stairs 20 times, and almost missed the part where the Cubbies came on stage to sing the Cubbies Song and say the Cubbies Motto. David didn't think to switch to the zoom lens and since he was sitting in the back we didn't get a very good picture. We'll do better next year.

For the record, Grace had a great time and was so happy we were there to watch her get her award and sing the Cubbies song. That's what counts right?

And here's what Ethan looked like most of the evening. A blur of cranky toddler. Such a joy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Very Rare Sleeping Preschooler Photo!

Grace stopped taking naps sometime last fall. It didn't happen all at once, but was more of a gradual thing where she'd take them sometimes and not others. These days it's pretty rare that she takes a nap, even when she's pooped from playing outside and spends some time in a warm car (my previous No Fail Nap Recipe).

Last week the impossible happened and she fell asleep on the couch next to me while watching Oprah. No offense to Oprah I'm sure, but hot dog was I excited! I even pulled the camera out to snap a few pictures to record this momentous occasion. I'm pretty sure that while Grace has outgrown her interest in naps she hasn't quite outgrown her need for them. Or my need for them which is why Quiet Time has been introduced in our household.

Apparently lightning can strike twice because guess who's napping in the car right now after a late afternoon trip to the Post Office and dog groomers? That's right, Miss I Don't Want to Take a Nap. It must be a miracle.

Monday, April 27, 2009


I started attending MOPS in September 2006 and have enjoyed it ever since. Last year I was a Discussion Group Leader and this past year I have had the privilege to serve on the Steering Team as the Hospitality Coordinator. It's a good fit for me since I enjoy entertaining and come by planning events naturally. My Mom has always been involved with the "behind the scenes" work in church kitchens and such for as long as I can remember. I've helped her throw countless church functions, weddings, and other large events so I have her to thank for my experience in this arena. In fact my Mom was even involved with MOPS when she was raising preschoolers so it was kind of a no brainer for me to follow in her footsteps.

As Hospitality Coordinator I mostly get the glamorous job of setting up for an hour or so Monday mornings and then getting to MOPS an hour early to brew up 5-6 carafes of coffee, 4 carafes of hot water, and 11 pitchers of ice water. After all the beverages are taken care of I monitor the food situation and try to have everything uncovered with serving spoons at the ready by 9:05 for the prayer before we eat. I also get to buy the coffee, cups, napkins, plates, forks, etc.

The fun and creative part of the job is making the functional centerpieces for each table as well as the name tags. This year's theme is Adventures in Motherhood, kind of a carnival type theme so the name tags are supposed to be tickets and the centerpieces are supposed to be reminiscent of popcorn containers. All eight tables have a color assigned to them and it was fun to see it all come together at the beginning of the school year.

Since I forgot to take photos of it all last August when it was brand spanking new I thought I'd share some pictures of the set up now, mostly because I remembered to bring my camera with me today when Grace helped me set up (another future Hospitality Coordinator in training!). If you're a Mom of a Preschooler in the Dallas area come on by tomorrow morning at 8:45 because we'd love to meet you! It's a wonderful supportive environment where I find great encouragement in addition to a great breakfast twice a month.

Here's the view of the room before Grace and I set it up:

Grace helped me put out the tablecloths and chose which color each table would be. If you don't like where your table is you can talk to her!

Here's what the centerpieces look like this year. I used plain wooden boxes from Michaels and painted them white with each table's color for accents. I splatter painted them after they were done so I didn't have to go crazy making them perfect. The pinwheels were our first craft of the year and have been very cheerful, it not annoying for me because they constantly come undone and I have to redo them every meeting! Note to self: Next year no pinwheels!

Here's a pile of nametags on the Orange Table. Didn't they turn out cute?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Quick Trip to Salt Lake City

Whew, we're home at last! David and I spent under 24 hours in Salt Lake City this weekend for his friend Andy's wedding. We drove up to Portland Friday night to stay with my Mom and left the kids with her while we jetted out at 11 in the morning. We got into Salt Lake City around 1pm and found our rental car without too much hassle. David insisted we get the GPS navigation system which totally saved our bacon. It directed us the 20 miles to our hotel without any problems. We discovered that somehow our reservation was canceled when we tried to check in which was going to be a problem until we discovered that they did have hotel rooms available and they would honor the wedding group rate. Whew. Disaster averted.

On the way to our hotel room we ran into the groom's father and chatted with him for a moment before making our way to our very comfortable room. We unloaded our stuff and then drove around a bit to find somewhere to eat some lunch. We had just enough time to get back to the hotel (only 3 "recalculations" to our route later), change for the wedding, and drive straight to the church.

We found our seats, read the program, and started to get worried when the pastor announced that wedding would be late. I can't imagine what the poor groom was feeling! The wedding finally started about 20 minutes late (later found out it was because the bride's dress took longer to lace then expected). The ceremony was very touching and beautiful. Andy's dad officiated the wedding which was like deja vu for me because the only other time I met him was at our wedding over 7 years ago. As soon as the vows started it was like a flashback! Andy played the piano and sang to his bride during the ceremony which was really neat to watch.

After the ceremony we got back into our rental car to drive to the reception which turned out to be a complicated route. We would have been in big trouble without the GPS as one of the roads had a different name then what was on the directions. Since we didn't get lost we were one of the first people to arrive, and knowing nobody other then the groom and his family we chose a table and sat down hoping to find interesting people to talk to. Turns out our tablemates were not that interesting to talk to, but once dinner was over we had a good time chatting with the groom and dancing to the live band. The reception location was gorgeous and we really did have a good time!

By 9:30pm the party wasn't over but was starting to wrap up a little so we took our leave. We did meet up with the groom's family for breakfast the next morning which was nice and we chatted for an hour or so before we had to pack up and head back to the airport. We didn't have a chance to print out our boarding passes so we checked in once we got there. That was when we discovered it wasn't a direct flight home which was a bummer. Since we flew Southwest and we checked in at the airport we wound up in boarding group C, basically the last people on the plane. I realized there was no way we'd be able to sit together so I took the first available seat with people that looked like they'd be nice. We made a stop in Boise where we were able to move up to the second row and sit together. The flight from Boise to Portland was a smoother ride and we exited the airport right as my Mom pulled our minivan into view. Perfect timing.

It was a fun but fast weekend, and I'm glad we got to go. It was dissapointing that David's parents weren't able to make it, especially at the reception since we would have enjoyed their company!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Parry Blog Turns One!

Can you believe it's only been a year since I first started this blog? The intention has always been to share what's going on with our lives with friends and family but it's turned out to be more then that for me. It's a place to share my thoughts and feelings on motherhood and life in general, a way to connect with other people on days that otherwise feel long and lonely. It's fun to share the joys and even sharing the lows can cause my perspective to shift so that I can at least find the humor in a stressful situation. Thanks for sharing it all with me!

I thought it'd be fun to take a look at what's happened on our blog in the last year. Rather then bore you all with a long list of my favorite blog posts (hey, I love each and every one of them!) I thought I'd share my Top Three Blog Posts of the Year:

First of all, I'm pretty sure that Grace painting my inlaws Guest Room, crib, toddler bed, and carpet takes the cake for Naughtiest Thing Our Children Have Done in the last year. After her painting she proceeded to kill their computer. I'm still surprised they invited her back!

Next I thought the Green Bean Casserole Flop was pretty hilarious. At least it was funny after David ate his plateful and deemed it good. At least someone in this house appreciated my effort!

Lastly I had fun sharing my first experience with hair dye with you all. It almost made the whole process less scary. Almost.

And while I don't feel compelled to share all the posts relating to the milestones we've hit this year I thought instead I'd share a short list:

Ethan learned how to crawl, walk, and run
Ethan grew 6.5 teeth in the weirdest tooth pattern ever
Grace potty trained!!!
Grace took ballet lessons and started AWANAS as a Cubbie
I am now sleeping through the night because both of my kids are!

Pretty exciting stuff. Makes me excited for what this year's milestones might be. Also makes me wonder what mischief my kids will get into. Will Grace be able to top her painting gig? Will Ethan figure out how to make bigger messes faster then his big sister? Lord help us.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Like Father Like Daughter

My first impression of my newborn daughter when she was first handed to me was that she looked exactly like her father. And I mean exactly. There wasn't a trace of myself in her beautiful face and if I hadn't just gave birth to her I wouldn't have known she came from me at all! As she grew she still favors her father quite a bit, though I see myself in her face as well.

Grace's resemblance to her father is more then just physical traits. Grace is a mini-David in so many ways! They share similar personalities which will be interesting to watch as Grace grows into adolescence. David and Grace are both stubborn (so am I, but that's another matter!) which for Grace means that she doesn't give up easily. She will work on a puzzle over and over until she has mastered it.

Both David and Grace love to pay attention to details. Just like her Daddy she pays attention to everything and soaks in everything. She checks everything out thoroughly and when she notices something isn't quite right she will tell you. Like when she got her very first Sleeping Beauty Barbie doll for Easter and quickly discovered she didn't have any underwear on. That's the sort of mundane detail that Grace never misses!

Another trait they share is a sense of order. For David that manifests as an abhorrence for piles (remember my confession post earlier?) and a need for the house to be in order for him to feel at peace. For Grace it means that she loves to line her legion of plastic princess figurines in a particular order along the edge of the bookshelf. I remember when she wasn't even 2 a nursery worker was impressed that when Grace put crayons back into a box she put them in one at a time very carefully. They both want their world to be orderly.

I love them both and it's fun to watch Grace and see glimpses of what David might have been like as a child. There's definitely no doubt that Grace is her father's daughter!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Photography Blog

I started working on the new photography blog a little while ago and finished it up today. Not 100% sure on the logo and whatnot quite yet but it will do for now. Thanks for the input and check it out by clicking on the picture below.

Vote for your favorite logo design!

I've been playing around with making a logo for my eventual photography business the last few days and think I'm getting close to a design I'm happy with. I plan to use my name since that is easiest for marketing purposes and also doesn't limit me in the future. If I used something like Sweet Pea Photography it would be cute for baby and kids photography but wouldn't make sense if I ever got into other types of photography like weddings or stock photos. I just like to keep my options open!

I'm digging the purple right now, but please let me know if I should be considering other colors. And feel free to say you don't like any of them and to go back to the drawing board!

Here's what I have come up with thus far:

#1 Full logo and abbreviated one for possible watermark?

#2 Another set of related logos, contemplating adding dots of some kind to the full logo...thoughts?

#3 Not my favorite, but I do kind of think the K is interesting and it's hard to find interesting K's that I like!

So please leave a comment and let me know which one(s) you like (or if you don't like any of them!).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More then a change in the weather

Yesterday was a beautiful day. My Mom came down to spend the day with us because she needed to use up some vacation hours and the weather was fine and we had no big plans. Turned out to be the ingredients for an awesome day. We took the kids to the park for a couple of hours where we played and picnicked. Ethan attempted to pick every daisy and dandelion he saw (will most likely be an ongoing summer project as there are far too many flowers for him to get to in one outing) and Grace had a blast climbing on top of the cement tube and playing in her aforementioned favorite tree. Mom packed a yummy picnic lunch that we enjoyed on a blanket in the breeze. She brought doughnut holes as a dessert which turned out to be more then a hit in Ethan's eyes. Think about it. Doughnut holes are round like balls and sugary. Yes the perfect food for a ball obsessed toddler with a sweet tooth. I think he ate six.

This morning the sun was still there but the temperature had cooled quite a bit. Despite the 20 degree drop in temperature today we all melted down this morning trying to get to Indoor Park by 9:30 to open. I probably waited too long to get the kids dressed, and Grace was in no mood to get dressed in a hurry. I gave her a choice between two outfits and then had to force the outfit she chose on her because all she wanted to wear was a pink dress. None were clean so the butterfly outfit was going to have to work. While I got Ethan dressed in his clothes (no protests from him as to choice of clothes!) I argued with Grace about what shoes to wear. I gave her a choice between her pink Crocs and white Saltwaters and she chose the pink ones. Then she decided the pink ones were too dirty and wouldn't put them on so I forced the white ones on and buckled her in the car so she couldn't take her clothes/shoes off. In the meantime Ethan had been playing on her bed and somehow took a tumble wrapped in her duvet cover and hit his eye on the footboard of the bed. Instant owie. By this point we needed to be at Indoor Park within 4 minutes so I grabbed an icepack and towel to deal with Ethan's eye once we got there.

Grace screamed the whole way to Indoor Park wanting her pink shoes that 10 minutes earlier she had refused to put on. After a three minute time out she was ready to play and was done crying. In fact by the time we left an hour and a half later she even put her white sandals on without a single complaint. Ethan screamed while I held the icepack to his eye for a few minutes when we first got there but I wanted to try and keep the swelling down a little. It still looks pretty bad but he won't let me really do much to help it.

I think I'm ready for another warm sunny perfect day. Cooler days with lots of screaming really burns a Mommy out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sunny Days

Our family has been lapping the recent sunshine up and today was no exception. After Ethan woke up from his afternoon nap we went to the city park for an hour to play, tricycle in tow. At first we just stuck to the playground equipment, Ethan preferring the swings and Grace preferring to climb the "princess tower". Then they moved on to Grace's favorite tree at the park which she likes to pretend is a drive thru window for McDonalds. I swear I don't know where she picks this up! Ok, so maybe we've stopped at McDonalds a time or two. There's no harm in the occasional cheeseburger when I'm out of snacks and everybody is starving and we're in Salem. Anyways, after I ordered all sorts of food from the drive thru tree window Grace decided she wanted to ride her tricycle.

Our driveway is sloped as is the sidewalk in front of our house so the only level place for her to ride her tricycle is in our garage. It works a lot better to bring her tricycle to the playground so she can pedal around on level ground to her heart's content. Today Ethan followed her with me but decided it would be hilarious to chase her. She thought his ideas was pretty funny indeed and it was pretty cute to watch them make a game of it. Grace does a good job pedaling her tricycle on flat ground and I'm sure we'll be hauling her red tricycle with us to the park a lot this summer.

Once we got home we made some pink lemonade and drank it outside in our cool front yard grass. It felt so nice! I'm really going to be dissapointed when the sun and warm breeze disapears. I'm enjoying this fantastic weather way too much!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First Photo Session

Today I had the pleasure of taking some photos of an adorable new baby girl and her family. Seeing a little baby makes me realize just how big my "little" guy is now and makes me miss those sweet newborn days! It was good to practice taking photos of people other then my children for a change. I'm still hoping to one day start a career at this because I really enjoy photography and will definitely keep working to improve. I know I have so much more to learn! Enough about me, I'm sure you all are dying to see the pictures.

Here's five of my faves, all in black and white because I love how they turned out!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Little Cowboy

Yesterday was beautiful so the kids and I spent a glorious hour and a half playing outside and soaking in the sun. Ethan was wearing his super cute flannel cowboy romper so I thought I'd take advantage of the sunshine and attempt some cowboy pictures. The first time I tried ended in disaster and a lot of mud but this time I hit the jackpot. Unfortunately we don't own a cowboy hat for Ethan yet. A situation we'll have to remedy before rodeo season, so for now I crammed Grace's pink cowgirl hat on his head and figured I'd switch the photos to sepia. Can you tell it's really pink?

Of course Ethan didn't care for the pink hat one bit. I don't think the color bothered him so much as he just hates hats in general. It's really too bad because he looks adorable in hats!

After a minute or two he quit taking the hat off when he realized that I was just going to jam it back on his head again and we got some better pictures. Who can resist this little cowboy charmer?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Recipe for Homemade Laundry Powder

I twittered about making my own laundry soap yesterday and got several requests for the recipe I use so I thought I'd share it here. Please keep in mind that I in no way invented this recipe, I just found it online somewhere after a Google search in an attempt to reign in our ever increasing grocery bill. There's also several liquid recipes floating around out there if you prefer liquid laundry detergent but I think making the powder is easier and works just fine. We've been using it for a few months now and our clothes all seem pretty clean to me.

First of all, the ingredients. I found everything but the Oxyclean at Winco (I buy Oxyclean from Costco in the bulk kids are stain magnets). Today I made a double batch but I'll share the single batch recipe:

1 bar Fels Naptha soap, grated
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
1 cup Oxyclean (optional)

The hardest part is grating the soap which takes forever with a hand grater. This time around I broke out my KitchenAid grater attachment which worked much better. It is possible to hand grate it though, I did that last time and about killed my knuckles. After the grating the rest is just dumping in ingredients and stirring. Even a preschooler can help with that part!

I use 2 tablespoons in each load of laundry (I do big loads) and usually use hot water for the first minute to help it dissolve before switching to cold water. Homemade laundry soap doesn't have the bubbles that commercial kinds do but the bubbles aren't what makes your clothes clean. I've heard that this recipe works good for High Efficiency washers but I can't verify that since my washing machine is a non-energy efficient model from 20 years ago. It does the job.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How to dine like a Princess

Since I live with a Princess, or at least a preschooler who desperately wants to be one, I thought I'd share the ingredients for a perfect Princess Lunch. First of all it helps to have the right tableware. The Princess placemat and spoon were Easter gifts from Grandma. She also got a Princess bowl but for some reason Grace wanted this pink one. Whatever.

After you have the right eating utensils etc the next order of business is the main dish. Today we have a Mega Berry Bagel from Winco. It's basically a pink bagel with bits of some berries (at least that's what I'm assuming they are!) along with mixed berry cream cheese. Quite the berrylicious combo.

Next up is the side dish of pink strawberry yogurt. We buy it in the big tubs to save money and Grace always picks strawberry because it's pink.

Last of all you have the pink Strawberry Milk in a pink cup as a special treat. I had a coupon for $1.00 off two Darigold 16oz milks so this was a pretty cheap treat. Plus we have enough for several more Pink Princess meals.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Photo Assignment: In the City

Apparently the folks at the Digital Photography School don't realize that not all of us live in huge metropolitan areas because the current assignment is In the City. The assignment is due by tomorrow and I procrastinated so I brought my camera with me to pick up Grace from ballet class this afternoon and got as urban of a shot that I could. Dallas is not exactly a big city so it was a challenge for sure. Thankfully Grace's ballet class is at the Majestic Theater downtown and this building is the one I happened to be parked in front of. Hey, I was trying to do this assignment while keeping two kids out of the street and down the side alleys so don't judge too harshly. When I edited the photo I switched it to black and white which I think helps a little. Still a far cry from the shiny steel and glass photos other people have submitted. Hopefully next week's assignment has to do with soggy grass because that I can find in abundance.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Girl Clothes Bonanza

Grace's First Attempt to Dress Herself Feb. 22, 2008

I've spent some time talking about how much fun it is to dress my son but I certainly don't want to leave the girls out because they certainly are fun to dress! The difference is that I can find a cute outfit for Grace at just about any clothing store while finding cute outfits for Ethan is more like a treasure hunt. Grace is currently in a dress phase where she vastly prefers to wear a dress over pants. The twirlier the dress the better, and she favors pink and purple. Sometimes I'm mean and make her wear pants because it's just too darn cold to wear a dress or because I'm sick and tired of her wearing the same two dresses for two weeks straight. If I do that she'll wail and cry and tell me that she looks like a boy. Seriously. So I'm buying almost all dresses right now and look back at the days of full control over what she wore with fond memories.

Here's a rundown of girls clothing brands I like.

Matilda Jane. This small clothing company has boomed big in the last year or some of her designs are in super high demand on Ebay where used dresses sell for twice their retail value. Pretty crazy. I first bought the Violet Knot dress last spring and have been in love ever since. I love her choice of fabrics and the funky combos. Grace loves the apron dresses too so it's a win win combination. The nice thing about the knot dresses is that they last quite a while since you can adjust the length so we're getting year number two out of the Violet Knot dress. You have to go through a trunk keeper to purchase the clothes (yes it's one of those sorts of companies) but she sells end of season stock online twice a year and it goes FAST. As in two minutes fast. Remember my frustration after Christmas?

Janie & Jack. Absolutely lovely little girls clothes but tends to be a little more formal then we are at times. Beautiful dresses and classic designs. I find I'm buying less Janie & Jack then I used to because it's harder to find Grace's size on sale (last time the sale rack only had 4 shirts in 4T and 3 were the same design. Ethan's size had tons of shirts, pants, sweaters, socks, etc.). Grace loves the dresses but some of the other outfits are less "her" if you know what I mean. Such pretty clothes though. I think they make me drool a little bit.

Naartjie. I absolutely love Naartjie's summer lines but the fall/winter ones are a little hit and miss. It's a South African brand and features super lightweight and breezy fabrics for their summer clothes. They make tons of dresses that twirl and leggings to coordinate which makes them a big winner in my book. I highly recommend buying Naartjie in the store (Washington Square has one) or used off Ebay instead of online because their website stinks. It's really hard to put outfits together online because the colors in real life are a little "off" sometimes due to different dye lots. Their sizing is kind of funky sometimes too, especially their pants which tend to run huge. Really worth the effort for their fun and funky clothes! I've found Naartjie to have great resale value as well.

Baby Gap. My favorite store to buy jeans for Grace because of those fantastic adjustable waists and they tend to run skinny anyways. They have some really cute stuff at times and the resale is pretty good. The only thing I don't like is their huge variety of shirts with writing on them. For some reason I just don't care for words all over Grace's shirts, least of all a Gap logo. Blech.

Hanna Andersson. I can't say enough good things about the Play Dress Day Dress. Those things are awesome! They're so comfy and Grace will always wear them. They are so well made and wear like iron. I love love love the Hanna Andersson End of Season Sales because I can usually buy ahead and sell the outfit after my kids wear them for the same price. There's a retail store in the Pearl District and an Outlet in Lake Oswego (same exit as 217 to get to Washington Square which is a bonus!). The Outlet has random good deals, like the $7 winter coat I scored in December during the ice storm.

Mini Boden. Yes I love their boys clothes but they're no slouch in the girls department either. I haven't bought as much from Boden for Grace because there's so many other options and it's spendy. What we have bought we love and I think that as Grace gets older this will be a brand we wear more of. I love the heart patch pants!

Gymboree. Ah, the brand the started it all. I just couldn't resist all the cute matching baby girl clothes and when I discovered how easy it was to get cheaply I was hooked. Much to David's chagrin I'm sure! Unfortunately, as my little girl grew it's become apparant that Gymboree doesn't fit her as well as other brands do. It seems to run wide and Grace is anything but wide. I still buy it for her when there's good sales, but I try to stick with dresses since they fit better. I really like their pajamas and socks which can be had for reasonable prices. I'm a fan of the Baby Sale that happens twice a year which makes the new line pajamas $10 or $8 if you have a 20% off coupon. Comparable to Carters but better quality and I can sell them when we're done with them. What a bonus. I also like their End of Season sales. Just last week I bought 16 items for $63.79 and sold my Gymbuck for $7.50 which made my total $56.29 or $3.51 per piece. It wasn't all socks and underwear either. Ethan got two sweaters, one pair of overalls, one short romper, two pairs of pants, three shirts, and a hat and Grace got a dress, two pairs of tights, a hat, hair clips, and a pair of sandals. I'll sell all of it when we're done with it which will make it even cheaper.