Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ethan's First Potty Success!

Late this afternoon Grace came running out of the bathroom exclaiming "Mommy! Mommy! Ethan peed in the potty!" which got me into the kids' bathroom in a hurry to see if she was telling the truth. Grace often lets Ethan in the bathroom with her while she uses the potty and every now and again he practices on the little potty with her. I found him completely naked and sure enough, he had used the potty. Actually he mostly used the floor but he's a two year old boy so I'm not exactly expecting perfection. The intent was obviously there and he was pretty proud of himself! Naturally today was the first day in over two weeks that David was actually working in Corvallis so we called him up on the phone immediately to share the joyous news. Ethan scored a chocolate chip cookie and we grabbed McDonalds hamburgers for dinner to celebrate. Grace was really great about the whole deal. She clapped for him and told me that she was so happy for Ethan that it made her smile. Having such a sweet daughter who is willing to help her little brother potty train makes this Mommy smile!

So now it begins. I won't kid myself into thinking he'll be potty trained overnight because I've been down this road before. Oh boy have I. (See Potty Training 101, Another Round of Potty Training Commences, and Advanced Potty Training) Of course this time I have a helper and Ethan seems much more willing to go potty for Grace then for me and I will take advantage of that with wild abandon. Grace knows that as soon as Ethan is completely potty trained we are going to have a No More Diapers Party complete with cake and presents. It's been in the planning ever since the long, drawn out potty training process we embarked upon when Grace was a toddler. It was David's idea and I have to say I'm fully on board. In fact I already decided that I'm going to gift myself with a new purse when Ethan potty trains because I will no longer need a diaper bag. As much as I love my diaper bag (remember my Ode to my Diaper Bag?) I've been using it ever since 2005 and I'm ready for a change. Something not made of vinyl would be nice.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Playing with Playdough

I've been picking my camera up a lot more ever since I started the Project 365 and in the 20 days I've been at it I can already tell a difference in photo quality. This past fall I took a bit of a break but now I'm going like gang busters! I've kind of reached the point where I'm feeling limited by my equipment, but have no funds to upgrade. I think I just need to win the lottery.

Anyways, back to the photos at hand. Grace pleaded to play with playdough when she got home from preschool but we had to wait until Ethan woke up from his nap because it's stored on the upper shelf in the kids' closet. Ethan had more fun with the playdough then Grace did! He had a blast rolling it, poking it, and using the cookie cutters. And yes, he also had fun trying to eat it.

And lest you think I only took photos of Ethan today (I can't help it, he's easier) here's one of Grace. I love how the window light makes her little face glow!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sick Little Boy

Ethan seems to have a sixth sense for when MOPS is coming up and develops a nasty case of the crud the day before our meeting. This is the second time in a row this has happened and there's a very good chance I'll be leaving him home with Daddy again tomorrow morning. That is, as long as he doesn't have any super important meetings before noon.

My rules for bringing the kids to functions is that a clear runny nose that isn't too bad (i.e. a nose wiper isn't required every 10 seconds) is okay and a stuffy nose with thick snot means we stay home. If we stayed home for every sniffle we would never leave the house. I go nuts if we don't leave the house. Scratch that, we ALL go nuts if we don't leave the house.

Please note that Ethan is not sad in these teary eyed photos. He just woke up from his nap and was actually pretty happy with his special juice (orange flavored Capri Sun) because there was a basketball and a hoop on the front. The teary eyes are due to The Crud or whatever bug he picked up this time.

Friday, January 22, 2010

January Sunset

Tonight when I let the dog outside I noticed that it was sunset and the sky was turning beautiful shades of pink and purple. I didn't even think twice when I turned around to grab my camera. Unfortunately we don't exactly live in an ideal spot for sunset photos. We have all these scrubby trees behind our row of houses which doesn't exactly make for a very pretty view. I need to take a jaunt around the neighborhood and see if there's anywhere with a halfway decent view within walking distance.

Or I could wake up with sunrise since the view east is clearer (though less pretty with a zillion houses in the view).

On second thought I might just live with the scrubby trees.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Once upon a time David was a full time grad student and I worked several remedial jobs. We were no longer poor college students that relied on Winco gift cards from our parents to supplement our $20 a week food budget but we couldn't afford anything beyond rent and utilities either. We had no children yet but were too poor to be footloose and fancy free. We were living in a two bedroom apartment which was about five steps up from the shoebox we lived in when we were newlyweds. In fact at this point in our lives we had been married three years.

I share this to give you some background for this story.

We went on a date to the Baja Fresh in the Lancaster Mall parking lot. We brought a pad of paper and a pen and we spent some time making Life Goals. Things that seemed so far fetched and impossible at the time. Some of it still seems far fetched and impossible but other things seem much more in reach. And we've even crossed some items off the list.

We broke our Goals into categories.

David wants to get his PhD in History of Science from a university in Minnesota. And possibly get a law degree and work in patent law. He also wants to learn Japanese and how to play the piano.
Kellie wants to get her MAT with a Library Media emphasis. She also wants to learn bookbinding and papermaking.

We want to go to Europe (Italy, France, England, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Holland), Hawaii, Japan, Russia, World Cup 2006 (didn't happen), Disney World, and visit every state in the US at least once.

Have two to four children and have Kellie stay at home for at least a year.

Do something really nice for our parents as a thank you. Retire under the age of 60. Make $100,000 collectively. To be comfortable and not have to worry about money (remember we were barey scraping by!). To make giving to charity a priority.

Career Goals:
David wants to get a job working for Nintendo and write a novel. Kellie wants to work for a school district in a famiy friendly career. And possibly own a coffee shop.

Own a house, a cabin, a beach house, a Volkswagon Bug, a Mini Cooper, a surround sound home theater system, have a room dedicated as a library in our home, Kellie to have an art studio, own a Harley, owns a garden, and always have animals for pets.

I would say that some things on this list have changed and others haven't. Obviously we've met a couple and are far from meeting others. It's fun to look at where we were at that time and think about how we're measuring up. David's dream job is still to work at Nintendo and I would still love to have my very own art studio. We need to start planning more road trips around the United States. But most of all I think it's time to update the list. Time for another date to dream some more. It's been five years...

By the way, this fun scrap of paper was found during the Office Remodel Project. More about that later.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Office Remodel Project is Taking Off!

We are off to a great start on the Office Remodel Project this week. On Wednesday David scored a great deal on a HP Firebird desktop computer and 24" LCD monitor! We haven't owned a desktop since 2001 so this will be a bit of a change for us. The desktop is mostly for me since I'm the only one that uses the computer for anything other then internet browsing and Microsoft Office. Of course David is pretty excited about the possibility of playing a game or two on it. We have an HP Mini netbook that we'll use in the Living Room for internet browsing on the couch or lazy boy. There's just no way we can give up that luxury! The reason we're going with a new desktop is that it's cheaper then a laptop with the same specs, and I really want a decent screen for serious photo editing. Laptop screens are just not the best for photo editing when you want the color you see on the screen to match the color you see when you print.

So now that the new desktop and monitor are on their way it's time to get serious about office furniture. Yesterday I spent the day with my Mom up in Portland and we had a chance to run up to Ikea so I could see some of the desks and sofa beds in person. From measuring the room and pricing file cabinets I think we can get a desk at Ikea for about the same cost as the Door Desk/File Cabinet idea. I'm currently thinking about doing two smaller desks with the file cabinet in the middle. The desk tops are $19.99 each and the legs I like are $20 apiece, though I could probably live with a few of the $10 apiece legs. We'll see. Even if we go with the more expensive table legs we could get two workspaces for $120 which is pretty reasonable.

As for the futon idea, well I have no idea where we're going with that. David seems pretty set on the futon idea and I'm more on board with a sofa bed idea. I may be biased against the futon idea because I remember how terrible the futon was that David had in his dorm room. The mattress pad was constantly sliding down and it wasn't exactly deluxe comfort. I could really pass. I found the Beddinge Sofa Bed at Ikea yesterday and really liked it. I tried it out both as a couch and as a bed and I have to say it was pretty comfortable. The only thing it doesn't have that David will miss are arms. Plus it comes in two colors that I like, a chocolate brown and a pretty green. It's a little spendier then the futon off Craigslist idea, but I honestly think we'd get more use out of it and not hate it. It has actual springs in the mattress pad for heavens sakes!

I even busted out my drafting equipment this afternoon to see how the furniture would fit in the room. I've had that mechanical drafting pencil since I was 14. This isn't exactly an example of my finest work, but when working under the constraints of very cranky toddlers this will have to suffice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Snow Fun

I finished editing the photos from our trip to Idaho this afternoon and thought I'd share some photos of the kids playing in the snow. Nampa got snow the day after Portland did so we didn't miss the white stuff while we were gone. Grace and Ethan loved to eat the snow, preferring to lick it off the railing to waiting for a snowflake to fall on their tongue!

David, Grace, and I made a snowman during Ethan's nap one day. David did most of the work, I was manning the camera after all! Grace loved putting the carrot nose and blue bucket hat on the snowman. The eyes are made of leaves and his smile is a twig. Sadly, Frosty did not survive the first night. The wind and rain was too strong and knocked poor Frosty down. He was fun while he lasted.

You may be wondering why Grace is wearing cupcake pajamas to play in the snow. That would be because we didn't bring many pants (she only wears dresses remember?!?) so we did the best we could. I made her wear tights and another pair of pajama pants under them as well. Naturally, the snow pants were left at home.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Project 365 has begun!

Today I am starting my Project 365! My goal in this endeavor is to improve my photography skills and keep my creative juices flowing. My hope is that by taking a photo every day I will be inspired to try new techniques, angles, genres, etc. and have some fun while I'm at it. I've decided from the get go to not pressure myself unduly to get an edited photo uploaded online every day, it will be hard enough just to remember to grab the camera and snap a shot some days. So I might miss posting a few days here and there but I will take a photo every day. Rather then clutter this blog up every day with a photo I started a new one just for Project 365.

You can find it by clicking HERE or by checking out the "Other Places to Find Us on the Web" tab on the right side column. Bookmark it to check out the daily photo!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Office Remodel 2010

Remember last year's Home Improvement Goals? I'm proud to say that all three projects were completed in 2009. I'll go ahead and give ourselves a big pat on the back for that.

The 2009 Home Improvement Goals were to pretty up the main bathroom, replace the dilapidated dresser in the kids' room with shelving, and create more toy storage for the living room. Big shout out to my awesome Father in Law for the kids' room shelves and living room toy cubbies. He's definitely been a big blessing!

This year's Big Home Improvement Project is the Office Remodel. We've talked about it for awhile now and this is the year it will happen. Currently our third bedroom functions as an office/guest room/storage room. David works from home at least two days a week and takes a zillion phone calls/meetings and thus needs to be able to shut the door to keep the kids' noise to a dull roar. If you work from home with small children you'll know what I mean. One time David was on a phone meeting with a big wig and was asked if he had a parrot. Actually it was Ethan.

The office function is the room's primary use at the moment. The office furniture includes a desk and two drawer filing cabinet. The wood swivel office chair came from David's grandparents and has sentimental value but could really use some TLC.

The full sized guest bed takes up more then half the available floor space but is only used a few times a year. We would like to be able to accommodate guests, but it seems kind of silly to sacrifice the majority of the space for a guest bed that is used infrequently. The bed frame is an antique, it belonged to my great great grandparents? It's metal and has been painted more times then I can count. It's been painted white ever since I inherited it 20 years ago. I'm not willing to part with the bed frame so we'll probably have to store it in the garage and get rid of the mattresses. In it's place we're envisioning a futon.

The last function of the room is storage, which is what the entire closet and under (ok, and on top of) the bed is for. We also have the Rock Band drums and a banana chair in there as well. The closet could definitely use some more organizing and possibly more shelves. It houses all of my gift wrapping supplies, craft supplies, art supplies (once upon a time I actually enjoyed water colors, batiking, and block printing), sewing supplies (I pretend I can sew), the kids' outgrown clothes in plastic tubs waiting for Ebay, and all my shipping supplies.

I have a vision of what the room could look like if I had no budget and my husband kept his opinions to himself. Since that is not the world I live in I will give up my vision of office/guest room/storage room perfection and work on being practical.

Here's what I'm thinking so far:

*Replace the full sized bed with nice futon (the kind that my Mom won't complain about sleeping on)
*Replace the desk with work surface that will accommodate two people. Thinking about using a solid core door over the filing cabinet with table legs on the other end.
*Buy another office chair
*Buy two long Ikea shelves for the wall
*Buy new desktop computer, or a laptop with docking station and a nice monitor. I am tired of trying to edit photos on a laptop screen!
*Find some cheap storage solutions to hold office supplies on the shelves.

I'd really like to keep our budget for the furniture as low as possible because this is a temporary solution that will hopefully last us 3-4 years. By that time we will either be moving to a larger home or we will be needing to give the room to Ethan. That means recycling what we have, buying used, and finding frugal solutions. David will have a lot more imput on the computer decision since he's much more up to date on such things then I am. We haven't owned a desktop in a long time, the last laptop we bought was when I was pregnant with Grace in spring of 2005 so we're due!

Here's a door desk that looks super cool. The legs came from Ikea. Unfortunately the cool legs take up too much leg room and would make it hard to seat two people at once. Plus they're not the same height as our 29" high filing cabinet.

Since function is more important then form in this case I'm thinking we'll use our ugly filing cabinet (refinished and painted of course!) on one end of the desk and use these boring Ikea table legs on the other side so there's enough room for two chairs at the desk. These are adjustable height and cost $30 apiece. Maybe I can find them cheaper somewhere, I don't know. I'll also need to buy a solid core door and have about 6" cut off to make a 30" deep desktop. That shouldn't cost too much.

If I was designing this room to simply be pretty I'd be buying cute office chairs like this one:

But we'd like to keep the wooden office chair so I'll probably try to refinish it, and David wants one of these soft of ugly but much more comfortable chairs:

I'll probably lose that battle so be prepared for the less cute but more comfortable and mismatching chairs. I'm still working on coming to terms with it myself.

Here's a photo of the type of futon I'll be hunting Craigslist for:

That's all I have figured out so far. As for colors etc. I haven't quite decided. The artwork on the walls at the moment are posters for the rodeos we attend each year and a painting of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's outdoor Elizabethan Theater. They may or may not stay. My husband will probably want the rodeo posters to stay, but they don't really go with the aqua, orange, lime, color scheme I have in my head. The walls are currently painted a light blue which I like and don't really feel like painting.

I'd love to hear any suggestions on how to accomplish this project without breaking the bank!

Morning Has Broken

Some mornings I just don't want to crawl out of my warm cozy bed.

Scratch that.

Most mornings I don't want to crawl out of my warm cozy bed. But since I am the mother of two small children I am inevitably awoken by my four year old. She's always the first one up. First she uses the potty, leaves the bathroom light on (to aid in my awakening process I am sure), and returns to the room that she shares with her two year old brother. They usually spend 10-15 minutes in their room squealing and throwing stuffed animals and dolls at each other from their respective beds. At some point Grace decides she's ready for breakfast and that's when she happily informs me that it's "seven oh oh" and time to wake up.

I am not a morning person.

Once Grace leaves the bedroom Ethan begins his loud protest at being left in his crib all alone. He does not like to be left behind. While I rescue Ethan from his crib Grace usually sets the table for herself and Ethan and gets out the cereal. They each eat a bowl of cold cereal and a bowl of yogurt for breakfast.

This morning was a little different. This morning while I listened to the kids giggle in their room together I looked out the window above our bed and discovered that the sky was pink and blue. I often see things and wish I had the time/opportunity to take a photograph. And then I realized that I could make the dream become a reality by putting on some slippers and a jacket and running outside with the camera.

So I did.

I stood in the wet grass and hoped the neighbor's didn't look out their kitchen window to see my in my pajamas taking photos of the moon. I'm glad I acted quick enough to get a few photos because like so many beautiful moments in life the pink sky lasted mere minutes.

I'm contemplating starting a 365 Photo Challenge as a challenge to myself and for fun. I've backed off of my camera recently but I think it's time to pick it up again. I really do enjoy photography and want to improve my skills. What better way then to practice every day?

For those who aren't in the know, a 365 Photo Challenge is a challenge to take and post a photo every day for a year. I'm pretty sure I could handle taking a photo every day (as long as I don't forget!), but getting the time to edit and post the photos every day could be a challenge.