Friday, May 31, 2013

31 Things I'm Grateful For in May

1. Memorial Day. This is the first place that I’ve worked for that you also get Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day off too. Without those two vacation days, it is a very long stretch between New Year’s Day and Memorial Day. A very long stretch.
2. Talented photographer friend that captures your child’s essence and personality. Pictures have come a long ways since my “spring” or “fall” background pictures at Sears. The above picture is one from his photo shoot and I'm excited to share the rest with you soon.
3. Asparagus. It’s my favorite vegetable second to broccoli.
4. My family’s health. Night after night, we pray for friends who are dealing with some very serious health issues. Night after night, this is my prayer for them: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. 1Corinthians 16:13-14. Life is hard. But we weren’t promised anything differently.
5. Meredith Corporation’s test garden. I spent a brief seven minutes there last weekend and snapped a few pictures while running through it. When I say running, I really was running. Running late. As usual.
6. A basement crawlspace. After all of the severe weather we’ve had lately. I’m thankful for a place to hide. Even if it means we’re throwing boxes upon boxes of stuff out of the crawlspace at very inopportune times.
7. My mother-in-law. We had some daycare problems at the beginning of the month and my MIL stepped in and watched Lucan for 2 days and then brought him down to Des Moines for us. LIFESAVER.
8. Mother’s Day. It was the weirdest Mother’s Day ever as I spent it by myself without my mom or with Lucan. Lance and Lu went up to NW Iowa for a birthday party and then unexpectedly stayed for an extra day when we were having daycare issues. As a result, no Mother’s Day celebration. In fact, I’m still waiting for my present. Or even a card…
9. But I’m thankful for family and birthday parties. It’s been a busy month with two birthday parties in NW Iowa and Lucan’s party this weekend.
10. Baby showers. So cute. So fun.
11. Pizza nights with friends.
12. Friends who are willing to watch Lucan last minute when there are daycare problems. Thank God for our friends.
13. Rain. No drought here! Now if God could just lessen the rain a bit. Thanks.
14. Garage sale deals. Our town had its community garage sale and I made a haul. I love a good deal.
15. Work baby showers and being surprised by people be generosity.
16. Planning a work baby shower in an hour and having people comment on how well-organized it was and how we must have spent quite a bit of time planning it. Or not.
17. Community yoga classes.
18. Homemade granola.
19. Re-watching Downtown Abbey Season 3.
20. PBS and Masterpiece Theater in general. I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Selfridge and Call the Midwife and read the autobiography that Call the Midwife is based on.
21. Ha ha – my Cinco de Mayo party. It was fun and having a party with all of the food catered was entirely wonderful. All of my parties will be catered in the future J
22. My first Scratch cupcake experience. It was buttercream love at first sight.
23. The firm decision that we are going to make the seven hour drive to Michigan to see my college bestie. I’m more than a little nervous to see how Lucan will do in the car, but I’m optimistic! Or delusional.
24. Grilling season returns.
25. The tv show Elementary. I heart Lucy Lu.
26. Iced coffee.
27. Lucan deciding that he likes apples. But then deciding that he doesn’t like bananas. And remembering that he likes blueberries but finding out that STOMPING on them is even better. The ever-changing moods of toddlers.
28. Lucan learning to say “please” Usually it sounds more like “PE-ASE!!” Lu only says please when prompted or when he really wants something. Like goldfish for breakfast, bedtime snack or supper.
29. Outdoor play time. Little boys love having room to run, romp and explore.
30. My husband’s handiness. My car’s water pump needed to be replaced. For $22 in parts and a couple hours of labor, Lance easily saved us a couple of hundred dollars in car repairs. AWESOME. Dave would be proud (as in Dave Ramsay) of how much money we’ve saved.
31. Getting our garden partly planted. So much rain. So little time. So much more to do!

Monday, May 27, 2013

So Tell Me About Yourself ...

Besides being a mama, I'm me. So here's a little snippet. 
All-time favorite movie(s): Casablanca, The Proposal, Pride and Prejudice
Blog(s) rocking your world lately: Young House Love & Design Darling
Favorite nail color: Essie's Bikini So Teeny
Now playing while you work: iheartradio's Lady Antebellum station.
The last thing you bought: You've Got Mail on DVD because all I had it was on VHS
How lame.
What you have planned for summer: Work, work, work. But a weekend vacation to a friend's lake house and a short trip to Michigan to visit my college bestie, her daughter (aka: Lu's fiancee), her new baby boy and her husband.

Tell me about yourself in the comments :)
All-time favorite movie(s): 
Blog(s) rocking your world lately:
Favorite nail color:
Now playing while you work:
The last thing you bought:
What you have planned for summer:

*image source

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Tale of Cookies

I was in the bedroom changing clothes and I heard a clatter in the kitchen. I knew Lucan was in the kitchen and was probably up to no good. I was right. Someone decided that he needed a snack and that cookies would hit the spot.

I came out to find this mess on the floor.

And this little boy munching happily along. Originally the cookies were in the red container on the right but Lu decided to hide the evidence by putting the cookies into the silver pans.

And then after clean-up, he "sampled" a few cookies.

Meaning he took a single bite out of more than a dozen cookies.

"What momma? I'm a hungry boy."

"Oh, you don't like it when I eat bites out of everything and then put it back? Whoops. I promise it won't happen again until I forget. Again."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Movie Mornings at Cinemark

Cinemark (that's the Jordan Creek movie theater for all of you DSM folks) is running a super fun kids promotion this summer. They are showing special kiddo movies for only a $1! Now if only I didn't a) work full-time and b) have a very busy two-year-old with a short attention span. But if you don't have to deal with Problem #1 or Problem #2, I suggest that you take advantage and plan a movie date with your child. Shoot, I haven't seen any of these movies. I'd totally go w/o Lu...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Blogging at DSM Parent ---- Daycare Confessions

I often have friends and family ask me how daycare is going for us. Much of the time I’m at a loss for how to answer. Lucan has adjusted for the most part and seems to be happy enough. But I still don’t really know what to say about daycare. It’s not that I don’t like our daycare provider or that I don’t trust her, she’s just not me and she’s not doing things the way I would be doing them.

After being Lucan’s parent for almost two years and staying home with him for seven months, I consider myself to be a Lucan expert. At this point in my confession, I should probably state that I acknowledge that I am a typical Type A, first-time mom. I like lists, I like my planner and above all, I’m organized. I also tend to be a hover-er, am probably too involved and have high expectations for people to not be flaky. Moral of the story: there are good and bad things to being a Type A parent.

But in the case of daycare, it’s probably a bad thing. I like to know what Lucan had for lunch and snacks, how long his nap was, whether or not he played well with the other kids and what songs they sang today. I want to know all of that information because I wasn’t there with Lucan and I wish that I could have been. I want to know all of that information because I want to know what things Lucan likes today and what things we need to work on with him. I want to know all of that information because I care. I don’t think that anyone could ever accuse me of being an apathetic parent (in fact that’s an adjective that’s never been used in the same sentence with my name).

So when you ask me how daycare is going and I shrug my shoulders and say “okay” it’s not because I don’t want to talk about daycare with you, it’s because I’m at a loss for how to describe my feelings articulately. And that’s my daycare confession. Does anyone else feel like this? 

This post originally appeared here at Des Moines Parent 

Snow on May 2--- how crazy is that?!?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Qdoba House Party

I've decided from here on out, I'm having all of my parties professionally catered. Because I'm just that affluent and basically a Real Housewife of Des Moines. Ha. Or I couldn't be farther from it.

I hosted a catered Qdoba House Party for the Cinco de Mayo. It was great. All I had to do was clean my house (actually easier said than done. With Lucan around, it's always one step forward 1.75 steps backwards). Initially I saw a blog post on who said that Qdoba was doing a giveaway. So I went through the application process (mostly questions about your involvement with social media) and then lo and behold - I was picked to host a House Party.  

The whole process couldn't have been easier. I was mailed a box full of stuff for my party (plastic clear margarita glasses, some salsa servers, an apron, some serving ware, etc.) and then given a certificate with instructions on what my food options were for the party. I called in my order and then I received a callback to confirm everything. When I went to pick-up the food, the store employees couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. It was a great experience and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Qdoba to cater a party. 

And the food, oh my, it was yummy. I picked the Naked Burrito bowls, which came with a GIGANTIC bag of homemade tortilla chips, chicken, steak, black beans, and lime cilantro rice. Then we also received 3 kinds of salsas, sour cream, guacamole (which somehow I forgot to put out- drat!) and cheese. Qdoba also provided chocolate chip cookies and brownies which weren't that good. A little stale if you ask me. But you don't hear Qdoba boasting about it's baked goods, so I guess that's to be expected.

The pico de gallo was my favorite condiment. You could taste the fresh cilantro - yum!

Qdoba even provided the wire racks and Sterno burners to heat the food.
This is the giant bag of tortilla chips.

Bigger than my head!

The only thing I had to provide were drinks! Raspberry lemonade - refreshing!

All of the hot items stayed toasty warm thanks to the Sterno burners.

Everyone avoids eye contact when I'm taking pictures.

Apparently being photographed while you eat is awkward. I should have thought about that. My poor friends.

Even Lucan enjoyed the party. He especially like the black beans and steak. Not to mention the chips. My boy likes crunchy!

See? More people avoiding eye contact with the photographer.

I made everyone go out on the deck so I could take a timed group picture. Please take no notice of my child who is dangling precariously off the railing. 

Thanks Qdoba for a fun Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Birthday Par-tay! Keepin it Real(istic)

As Lucan’s second birthday gets closer and closer, I have to continually remember to dial down my expectation level for how fancy his party will be. It’s good for me to keep in mind that:

1.) Lucan won’t remember this party 2.) Lucan doesn’t care what the theme of the party is, who attends, or what food is served
3.) No one cares how fancy the cake is
4.) It is also helpful for me to remember that we are on a budget and don’t have a reality television show or a magazine footing part of the expenses. Keep it low-key Kara. Dial down the crazy.

What are my practical tips for keeping a child’s birthday party manageable?
  1. Stay away from Pinterest. Pinterest is great place for inspiration and ideas but it will also give you unrealistic expectations about what the “norm” is for a two year-old’s birthday party. Does a toddler need a balloon animal artist or a pony for pony rides? Probably not. A photo booth? Nope, still not necessary. Yes, these things will definitely add a “wow” factor but how important are those things when your child won’t remember it a month from now?
  2. Children’s birthday parties have become less about the birthday boy and more about the birthday boy’s mom. Remember it isn’t your special day, it’s your child’s!
  3. If you are doing a themed party, is a great place to buy decorations and invitations. Often times you can buy art files, have the etsy shop owner personalize them and then you can print them at home or at a copy shop.
  4. But something I like even better is doing a quick Google search for free printable art files. I use these for decorations and as templates for invitations. Not as easy, but cheap.
  5. Not every birthday party has to be a fully catered meal. People shouldn't expect that. Or if they do, you can direct them to the nearest McDonalds and tell them to go have their own party.
  6. It’s okay to skip elaborate, tiered, fondant birthday cakes. Yes, they are beautiful but they get eaten and then are gone the same way Hy-Vee cakes do.

Birthday parties are supposed to be fun and a celebration. It’s hard to remember that if you are in your kitchen quietly wiping away tears because your meringues fell and the kids destroyed your house with the pinata bat. The days are long, but the years are short. Celebrate another year of your child’s life!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lucan Loves ...

...His Daddy. Somehow Lance managed to train Lucan to give him hugs, but not give momma hugs. It supremely ticks this momma off. I know that Lance is the "fun" parent but I'm the parent that puts the food on the table and doles out snacks. Where's the hugs for that?

...Annie's Fruit Snacks. It's a good thing they sell these at Costco because buying them at Target at 90 cents per pouch is outrageous. And highway robbery. If we lived in stagecoach/highway robbery times.

... his white blanket. It's his lovely, his comforter when he's sad or hurt. Lucan knows that his beloved goes back and forth to daycare in one particular bag and will point and get overly emotional when he wants his blankie. This beloved white blanket is getting a gross gray tinge, especially when I compare it to the third back-up blanket I have stashed away in the guest room closet.

... being outside. And with this long winter, I can hardly blame Lucan for not wanting to be inside. Our current endeavor is trying to figure out how to make our backyard more fun for Lu. Without spending $1500 on a Backyard Adventures swing set. Sheesh. I've had the brilliant idea that we should build a sandbox in our backyard. Now to get Lance on board with the idea. I even bought Lucan sandbox toys as incentive. :)

...stuffed animals. Mind you, Lucan already sleeps with every single stuffed animal we own but sometimes that's not enough. So he'll grunt to have TC the Bear (Twin Cities - The MN Twins mascot for those of you NOT in the know) taken down from the shelf and then will proceed to rip off TC's hat and shirt. I'm sure Lucan would take off TC's shoes too if he could figure out how to unlace them.

... peeing on the carpet. Or on the rug. We always let him have a little naked time after his baths and as result, we always have to follow behind mopping up pee puddles. Is this a sign of how potty training will go?

... using his toys with wheels as ramming instruments. He likes to run these toys as fast as he can into things. Super good for the paint on the walls.

... squeezing bottles and tubes. So far Lu has squeezed out a tube of very expensive hand cream, a bottle of BB Cream, a bottle of his body lotion, toothpaste and another one of my jars of body cream. Either Lucan likes to watch stuff come out of bottles or he wants to smell good. I've seen him several times pat lotion on his face. Silly monkey.

...eating cold stewed carrots. It was weird and perhaps an one time anomaly. He could have been starving too. Because we don't feed our children around here.

.... eating popcorn. Lucan ran screaming with delight yesterday when I found that I had forgotten to put away our popcorn bucket from the movie theater. Popcorn is the one thing that will consistently get him to sign "more."

... eating cookies. I have a picture of yesterday's mess. I went to the bathroom and heard a huge clatter coming from the kitchen. Lo and behold, Lu pulled the container of cookies off the shelf and was delightedly taking bites out of each cookie and then throwing them into a metal pan. Talk about crumbs everywhere. Lucan refers to cookies as "go-gos." I don't know where he picked that up. After eating a pile of popcorn as big as his head and several cookies, supper wasn't a high priority for him. Surprise.

... saying "tank you" for everything. It's pretty cute.

... food that that he can feed to himself all by himself. In addition to our standard favorite: the pouches, Lu also loves go-gurt. Yesterday I noticed a small yogurt handprint on our brown leather couch. That should teach me to let Lucan run around with go-gurt.

... imitating and making smacking noises with his mouth. Sometimes I absent mindedly make little popping noises with my mouth and Lu loves to imitate me doing it. Little pitchers have big ears.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Mother's Day Gift for .... Me

Dear Lance,

Here's a fool proof Mother's Day present.

Combine with brunch somewhere and you'll be #1 in my book. I'd make reservations ahead of time.

Or at least you'll rank higher than the time I was pregnant with Lucan and you told me that I didn't count as a mom yet. (Tell that to any 8 1/2 month pregnant lady and be don't be surprised if you get the silent treatment for the rest of the day. Or a swift kick. You'd deserve both.) But then you got the picture that it maybe wasn't the wisest thing to have said and took me to Wal-Mart at 9:30 PM on Mother's Day to "let" me pick out my own dilapidated bouquet of flowers. 
Let's upgrade from that first Mother's Day.


PS - I already have your Father's Day present, so I'm setting the bar high. You've been warned.