Thursday, December 24, 2009
All right, just kidding. That was a house a few blocks away. This is what our house looks like.Yeah, it's a little sad in comparison, but I'm just happy that any lights got up at all. I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but the lights don't quite make it to the end of the house. We had another 13 foot strand and just bunched them closer together in years past, but this year Jared thought he'd solve this annoying problem once and for all. He cut the remaining strand to the right length, spliced the wires back together and ta da, a five foot strand of lights just perfect for our house. And they worked too, for a minute... until they all blew up. Lesson learned: V=I*R is still true. I keep thinking we should hang the bum lights up so people can at least assume that small portion is burned out instead of thinking we miscalculated or were too lazy to complete it. It's certainly made me think about designing our future house specifically to fit the standard length of lights, that's for sure.
I saw an amazing display of Christmas trees and decorations on a friend's blog and thought I would show you our feeble attempt. First, our tree is rotting and way past dead. I don't know if we bought it too early or if it's just the fact that things rot when it's 80 degrees, but nonetheless I haven't enjoyed it all that much this year. This may partly have to do with a certain 18 month old who has undecorated the tree over and over again and broken anything breakable within her reach. She loves throwing the balls on the floor and then is bewildered when they shatter instead of bounce or roll. I wonder why I even have those things anyway. I'm not sure what it is with her, but we have had trees in the past and toddlers her age and we've never had this problem (serves me right for posting about what a great baby she is, I mean was). I guess it doesn't help that Erin also plays Easter with the ornaments. Here's the sad half decorated sight.
This is the extent of my Christmas decorations.This is Erin's contribution. She made this lovely wreath at school, came home, got a chair and some tape, went outside and put it up. I love it.Our display of Christmas cards. I like this tree better than the real one.One of my favorite family traditions (fifth year running) is getting a cute family ornament. The envelope is this year and the car was two years ago. These are also breakable so you never know how long they'll be around, but so far so good.
Our other tradition is driving around to see Christmas lights. Nope, it's not Temple Square, it's just a crazy family who loves Christmas... a lot. This was before they opened the gates. The kids were amazed!
Erin also had a "Holiday" program at school where she and the five other classes of kindergarteners sang Rudolf, Dreidel songs, Feliz Navidad, etc. It was fantastic. I can't believe they taught them all those songs. I also can't believe that half of the kindergarteners are over 5 feet tall (slight exaggeration). Erin was on the short row. The other thing that made me laugh was that during the program Erin kept shewing the kid next to her away. I asked her about it later and she said it was because he smelled bad. Poor kid, both of them. Erin has a very sensitive nose.I'll post another about Christmas day. Right now I'm just counting down the hours till we can get the stinky tree out of the house!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Here's the thing. I didn't know when I nonchalantly signed up for my first architecture class what an architecture degree entailed, and I don't think most people do. Let me try to explain. It's not that you have to be the least bit smart, or read a lot or write brilliant papers or even take huge exams--you don't. You are just required to do an astronomical amount of work (and give up any social life or sleeping requirements you may have thought you had). And not just any work, it's time-consuming, tedious work. Every week you must come to class with new models, new drawings, new research, new conceptual ideas, new sketches, new layouts, etc. Okay, it doesn't sound like much, but you can spend 4, 5, 8, 12 hours on just one drawing and even a little cardboard model could take you all night to build, let alone the final drawings and models. Then you pin your hours of work up on the board and try to explain meaning into your model while teachers and classmates tear you to shreds. This begins the next round of changes, new models, new drawings, more all-nighters, more stress. And then you do it again the next week and the next, and the next year and the next, until you find yourself driving home one night wondering why on earth you did all that! Like I said, nobody in their right mind would do it.
I don't wish to put down any other degree. I know some of them are very demanding. Medical school? Dental school? An MBA? And Law school? Heaven knows I could have never lasted three weeks trying to digest any of that. All I know is that when I did my first bachelor's degree, I only stayed up all night when I was hanging out with my roommates passing around the pan of communal mac and cheese or when we had cleaning inspection the next day (those were the days). Architecture? People have refrigerators, microwaves, blow up mattresses and razors at their desks because they literally stay at school for days working on projects. I still don't understand why they haven't installed showers yet. It's insane. Just listen to me when I say that nobody should do architecture!!! Spare your friends.
All that being said, I did do it and I feel proud to be able to say I did. I only have a few pictures of graduation because, as life usually goes, the camera ran out of batteries while I was walking across the stage. When I went to get my robe (the day before), they were out of my size (5'6"-the most common height) so I tried on the 5'9" and was about to take it when one of the workers insisted the sleeves were way to long. So she convinced me to get the 5'0"-5'2" size which pretty much looked like a lab coat instead of a graduation gown. Looking at the few pictures I do have, maybe it's better there aren't more of me looking so ridiculous.
Of course it doesn't help the the one-size-fits-all hat kept sliding off my puny head. And no, we did not take "crazy baby" to the 2 1/2 hour ceremony, thank goodness. Not sure what's up with Erin's face.
This is a picture of about half of the architecture graduates this semester and some of our professors. Also shown is my "smock" which stands out even more next to the normal length, and might I add ironed, gowns (was that lady at the bookstore trying to make a laughingstock out of me or what?) And of course I stand in the front. Also just so you know, that is the actual color of my legs, not white nylons. Yeah, I live in Florida but I can still blind people with the pasty's.
The best part of graduation for me, besides finding out that we had a school song and what our mascot was (Owls--who knew?), was the fact that I got to wear those cool cords. I didn't think about it till I got there and saw my name card which said Magna Cum Laude. I was the only architecture student to graduate with honors (unlike the 50 million nursing students... not to compare degrees, but seriously, something's got to be different if that's the case) and the director said there have been very few architecture students to do that. To me, those dorky yellow cords gave me a small sense of satisfaction for all the hard work I've put in. And not to dwell on technicalities, but I was .02 grade points away from being Summa Cum Laude and yes, I am still bitter at a couple of teachers for giving the undeserved non-A's. But I guess Magna Cum Laude is still pretty cool.
I also found out last week that I won the thesis prize for all of the Design 10 projects this semester. At least I think that's what I heard over my screaming children. For future reference, 18 month olds do not belong at university GALA's (hence the term "crazy baby"). I guess that was pretty cool too, especially after my lousy review, but not like wearing the goldenrod cords. Here's a condensed version of the final project.
P.S. I promise to spare you of too many more posts about architecture. It's almost out of my system.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Not so with the final. There were supposed to be three jurers there. Instead, surprise, there were six. I finished presenting and one of the guest jurers began his critique. He had not one good thing to say about the project, only a long list of everything wrong! This got the other jurers going and it was half an hour of bashing, redesigning my project and basically crushing me into the ground. I honestly did not know what to say to most of it, I only stood up there hoping that it would be over soon. Tough crowd!
This was bad, but wouldn't have been half as bad if they had reacted that way to everyone's project. Then we could have all complained equally about the tough jury. They were a little hard on the next few (although I do recall some compliments for theirs), but after that they got much nicer. They started saying how great people's layouts were (which I spent hours on myself), or how great people's concepts were and that if they just made a couple of small changes it could be a great project. Did I get anything like that? No. I was first, there was no one else to compare with. I know that they usually don't mention your layout unless it stinks, they won't say anything about your color choices unless they are lousy, they won't mention your perspectives unless they are unreadable or at a weird angle, and they don't comment on your path of circulation, space planning, parking, etc. unless it doesn't work. I feel like since everything was there on my presentation they just had to find something wrong, and boy did they! At least they didn't say that it wasn't thesis quality, like a couple of people got, but frankly, they deserved it.
I understand that going first is the introduction to the project and that they are still settling in to what it's all about. They are also settling in as a jury (they are there for 7 hours afterall). But this was one of the harshest crits I have ever gotten, and I don't feel that it was deserved. I can take criticism, that is part of architecture. But this was just too much! I can't think of one positive thing that they told me. I would have taken anything. "I like your renderings, but everything else is crap" would have been better than what I got. And by the way, my renderings were the best I've ever done, and I think the best in the class. Whatever.
I didn't realize how much it had affected me until our luch break when I went to the bathroom and just broke down. It was just really hard to hear so many horrible things about something that I have put my heart and soul into for so long. And shortly after my presentation my teacher approached me and asked why I didn't defend myself more. That made me feel even more crappy. Which by the way, I have had professors defend students to a jury before, epecially since they understand the project more than anyone else. Not her. Thanks.
I know that if I had not gone first, the jury would have understood what the project was all about and would have seen good things in my presentation. I found out later that the jury members were talking at lunch and said that mine was the best project in the class. Nice. The rest of the class must have really sucked since they couldn't find anything good in mine. If I ever sit on a jury I will make it a point to find something positive before I talk about what I think should be changed, even if it is the worst thing in the world. The fact that someone made it to the final and pinned something up is enough to be congratulated.
I still feel bad about it, but I know I'll get over it. It doesn't matter in the long run. My teacher is grading me and still thinks mine was the strongest in the class. I hate to graduate on such a sour note, especially when I have had so many good reviews in the past. This one was just not easy. If I felt like I deserved it then it would still suck, but not like this. I guess I needed to write this lest you think my architecture career has been only about praise, glory and bus shelters. It hasn't. Disappointment is a part of life, and that's okay. But ouch, that sucked!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Just thought I'd post one about sweet Marissa. This was the first day that was cool enough to go outside and play, and when I say cool I do mean 75 degrees. She was having so much fun swinging, hanging, sliding and falling on her head (glad I caught that one).
She really is a delightful child. She seems like the most social one so far. She has no problem running into the gym child care and is usually happy being left places. She loves playing with the other kids and is always involved in what's going on. She loves reading books and actually helps load and unload the dishwasher. She will put all the kid dishes away if I ask her to. One thing we haven't been able convince her not to do is play in the toilet, but I'm banking on this not becoming a lifelong habit.
She has been very expressive as well and you usually know what she wants. She says a lot of things very clearly like "gum", "candy", "eat", "juice", "milk", "book", "play", "bath", etc. She will come up to you and so sweetly and earnestly say what she wants; it's very cute. Whenever you ask her something her first answer is always no, but a lot of times no means yes and if you say yes she will nod and say "yes". Of course no also means no so it can be confusing, just never take the first no as her final answer.
The other really funny thing is that she loves her belly button. Not only does she suck her thumb for comfort but she has added touching her belly button with her other hand. It's kind of funny.
She is also our first child who won't fall asleep in the car no matter how tired she is. If my other kids are really tired you can always count on a car ride around the block to knock them out, but not Marissa. She doesn't cry, she just sucks her thumb and enjoys the ride. She'll be our long distance driver some day. She is still a great sleeper when you put her in her crib.
The pictures don't show it, but she is almost always wearing a bib, due to the continued drooling. I think she thinks bibs are just part of her outfit. If she find one on the floor she will put it on even if she already has one on.
Everyone comments about how small she is, and I guess she is. She is petite, sweet, happy, joyful and just a delight. I don't think I could have made it through school if she weren't such an easy child.
(Don't be fooled by the pacifier, it's just a toy. The thumb is where it's at for her.)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Then she asked for a second yogurt and I told her that we only have one per day. She responded, "If you don't let me have yogurt, then I won't eat for a week!" I couldn't help laugh at that, which is never good because she hates being laughed at. By the way, that one was really hard to follow through with.
This is the best one though. I was asking Erin how she knew I loved her. Then I asked if she loved me. She said, "Well, you're not the best mom, but I like you." That one really made me laugh, and she got mad. A follow up question revealed that if I were to give her fruit snacks every day like other moms I would have a much better chance of being one of the better moms.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Recently Alex has been very specific about how his toast is cooked. It can't be sunburned. What I guess that means is that it must have the same coloring as bread but be hard like toast (no brown marks at all or it will be refused... cut toast will also be refused). He is very specific about what he wants. Today it was a waffle, a piece of candy and some chocolate milk in the new blue sippy cup with the blue lid. It must be in that order too. Funny kid.
He has a fascination with the moon lately as well. The other night we went outside and he said, "Hey, the moon popped out!" A couple of days later we were driving and he said that the moon was following us. Then on our last walk Jared and I were talking and he turned around and said, "Shhh, be quiet. The moon is sleeping."
We've been trying to get him more interested in wearing underwear, so I made a little chart and told him if he wears underwear 7 times he could get something. I asked him what was something he really wanted and he said "diapers". Yeah, I was thinking more along the lines of a yo-yo or something, since he's been begging for one. So far, no yo-yo. His newest declaration is that he will wear underwear when he's five. So much for pre-school.
Also, don't ever say that he's a big boy, because according to him, he is little. I think this helps him justify the wearing diapers thing. Some day.
We love you, Alex!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
While I was printing someone came down and told me that my teacher wanted me to go first. Since I wasn't there she planned to have someone else go first. Then when she saw me there she had us choose who would go first and I let the other guy go, thinking I would go second. But, evidently it was a choice between going first or going last (I guess she chose two of the most developed projects to begin and end with). Going last is the worst! Everyone is really tired after four hours of crits, including the jury, so you either don't get as many comments or they just notice the bad things because they're sick of looking at the same thing over and over. And inevitably at least one of the jury members has to leave three people before the end. So not only did I have a chance to go first and didn't take it, but the jury member that I wanted to see my project had left.
Even though I didn't get as many comments as I would have liked, I got a good review. My teacher said it was the most complete project in the class and it showed the rigor I have put into my work all semester. That was very good to hear, especially since I strongly considered dropping the class after three weeks. This teacher is very demanding and expects a lot. There is another teacher during the day who is really easy and everyone is literally loving the class, as opposed to everyone in our class stressing out each week. But I do like her in the way she pushes me to make my design better. I really owe a lot to her critiques, even though a couple of times I've had to almost start over.
The other reason for the stress (and the reason I almost dropped the class) is because I have been working a little part time. Not really by choice, but it's for the bus shelter thing. I was ready to work on it this summer (when I didn't have design) but wouldn't you know that the notice to proceed came in mid September, and when it did the county wanted it right away. Could it have possibly been any worse timing for me? Not really. I told the architect I'm working with (and my professor from last semester) that I was working on my thesis project and I can only do so much, like half a day a week. But the fact that I had a huge midterm did not seem to matter to him, I had to get these things done or they would cancel the project. Crazy! I am learning a lot in the process though.
Today, I woke up slightly rested for a change and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I still have to focus on the final which is in 5 1/2 weeks, but since I got so much done for the midterm I hope there won't be as much to do as the first part of the semester. The end is near!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Alex is a very cuddly boy who just melts to your body when you pick him up. I love that about him. He recently learned how to write his own name, not always in the right order and the E has as many horizontal lines as he can fit. It's nice to know he can still learn when I'm not there to teach him things.
Alex is also a little bit of a quirky kid and must have things done his own way. For instance, you must be the right parent to give him breakfast (today he didn't eat for two hours because he wanted daddy to do it, and he'd already gone to work), he must be on the right chair with the right color bowl and spoon, you must give him the right amount (usually more than the first amount you tried to give him), you must wait for him to pat his cereal down before you pour the milk and only start pouring when he gives the okay, you must (depending on the day) pour either really fast or really slow, and whatever you do, don't stop pouring until he says "when"--even if it's about to spill out of the bowl. Trust me, it is much better to find out how he wants it done and comply with his request (as long as it's not completely irrational), than it is to make any kind of error in his plan. A meltdown will ensue.
The other day I spent 20 minutes of my life explaining to a meltdown-y kid that I wasn't going to open a new jar of applesauce until the 3/4 full one in the fridge was gone. Even though they were the exact same, he wanted the one from the cupboard and there was no changing his mind. I guess he finally got so hungry that he decided he would eat the rest of the one in the fridge so he could finally open his jar and be happy.
I realize that some of these behaviors could be chalked up to him being a child--a two almost three year old child, but having other children tells me that not all kids are this way. He closes doors behind him whenever he leaves a room, he insists on sitting right in the middle of the family room to watch TV, you can't move the stroller or the car until his seat belt is on (and don't try to help him either), and he likes to be clean and would take more than one bath a day if I let him. If he gets even a drop of water (or syrup, ketchup, etc.) on his clothes he has to change them immediately. Today, because of that, the fact that I haven't bought him any new clothes in a while and that I haven't done laundry for a while, he did not have any shorts to wear (and they had to be shorts by the way). We literally had to wait for the dryer to finish in order to leave the house (so much easier with girls--they run out of clothes you tell them to wear a dress).
Oh, I almost forgot... he also has to be wearing pajamas when he eats breakfast. If for some reason he sleeps in his clothes (not at all by his choice, but if he just falls asleep before changing), he wakes up the next day and changes into pajamas. One morning he changed from clothes to pajamas, spilled a whole bowl of Rice Krispies on them before taking a bite, changed into another pair of pajamas, spilled a little bit of bowl two on those, changed into PJ's pair three and finished his cereal happy, dry and most importantly, wearing the correct breakfast attire. As soon as he finished it was time to change into clothes. (Is it any wondered he keeps running out of clothes?)
As quirky as he may be, he is our sweet, lovable, smart, articulate, clean, active, funny, cuddly boy and we love him! Happy birthday Alex!
FYI: Per Alex's request he will have a chocolate car cake with blue frosting and he wants a rainbow hat for his birthday present. I really hate to disappoint him, but a rainbow hat??? Where did he get this strange idea? Is it a baseball cap? A beanie? I have no idea. The only one I found online was a Jamaican rainbow cap/wig with long black dreads attached--and I'm thinking it might not be what he envisioned. He'll have to settle for a Buzz Lightyear.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
It is always a huge sacrifice to go to the temple. Our stake has been chartering two temple buses a month up to Orlando for several years now which generally leave at 4:30 or 5:00 am and don't get back till about 6:00 or 7:00 pm. These bus trips have been really great, but it is always a hassle trying to find families to watch kids all day, or even over night. Sometimes we drive our kids the 3 hours up there, take turns and then drive back. Sometimes we go separately. Usually I try to go to a temple whenever I travel, because there seems to always be one where we end up going.
But I can only imagine how great it will be to call a babysitter for the night, drive 15 minutes and be at the temple. Or even go when my kids are in school. What a blessing! And I know it will be a blessing for all the other members, as well as the many good people that live down here who do not know about the church. I am just so grateful, emotional, excited and feel so blessed to be able to witness Christ's church move forward in all parts of the world, even my own back yard!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Or the trip to the pediatrician when Alex wouldn't step on the scale by himself so I of course held him and then weighed myself to get the difference. Well, that difference was depressingly not enough. Just frustrating to weigh more than I think I should when I'm not pregnant. Side note: Marissa is still not even 20 lbs at 15 1/2 months! What a tiny child.
Mostly, though, it's architorture. I felt really sick for Tuesday's class (head cold), and all Wednesday and Thursday I felt a lot of anxiety over the project. I stayed up really late and worked all day getting the presentation together. The pin-up went all right, I guess, but then the professor started listing all the things she expected in the next few weeks. Each thing she mentioned only deepened the pit in my stomach and I honestly wondered how I would do all of it. This is too hard! It's weeks like these that make me really question my decision to go back to school at all. I was fine at the dead-end job I had back then. While it's true those thoughts did cross my mind, it's also true that I love architecture and I know this is the right thing for my life. But knowing that doesn't make the process any easier.
I wasn't a good mom on Thursday. I'm not proud of it. I was really stressed out and tired, and it was a day that kids were also tired and crabby, all of them. I'll leave the result of that combination to your imagination. I hate that architecture has driven me to act and feel that way. But we survived another day, another week, another 4 weeks to be exact. And my loving children forgave me when I said I was sorry.
Today I asked Erin if she would remember all that she's had to go through because of my school. She said, "Yeah, I have a great memory because my brain is so good. I have the goodest brain in our whole family." Then I asked if she thought I ignored her. She said "Yes, like when I want you to get me food or when I need help with my puzzles." That's kind of a sad realization and I only hope her brain isn't so good that she will resent me for this.
Anyway, I do feel grateful for some really simple things right now. Like the fact that Alex is literally potty training himself. It's on his terms, slow and steady, but with no outside influences or motivation (or work on my end). He wears underwear when he wants to and never has accidents when he does.
Or the fact that Erin comes home from school and cheerfully does her homework on her own. It's writing whatever she wants in her notebook and she does a fabulous job at sounding out the words and writing creative things without help.
Or the fact that Marissa is still an incredible sleeper and makes me laugh every day.
Or that Jared gets the kids breakfast every day, comes home from work early, takes care of the kids several times a week and puts up with me being so distracted/tired/stressed.
Or for incredible friends who watch my kids even though they may be having a rough time too or talk to me on the phone to make me feel so much better.
Or for the meal plan that I put together. It is one less important yet annoying thing I don't have to worry about. It's given Jared left-overs to take to work the next day and made it so we don't eat out as much. In fact, we only ordered pizza once in the last four weeks and that was because of a cooking disaster (my second one ever). If anyone is curious, I don't recommend the Baked Penne Pasta from the Essential Food Storage cookbook. It's in the garbage.
Or that I only have 9 1/2 weeks until my final pin-up. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I got glared at by the garbage man when he tried to lift the can full of drywall, cement and tile remains from our old master bathroom...
I got yelled at by the mailman for leaving my garbage can in front of the mailbox after he hit it (no doubt the garbage man left it there on purpose)...
I walked Erin to kindergarten across the street and it took less than five minutes...
I read my scriptures and Preach My Gospel (not the whole thing)...
I watched Marissa put a marker up her nose, then into her mouth, then nose and mouth (etc.) just to make us laugh, and we did...
I talked to two of my best friends on the phone, make that three (my husband called me too :)...
I cleaned up cat throw-up...
I played racquetball with a really lousy racket and a really cool friend who later admitted that we both "played like poop!" but still wants to play tomorrow...
I got slapped in the face by Marissa followed by a wet, sloppy kiss all within 15 seconds...
I watched Alex fall asleep at dinner before even taking a bite...
I folded laundry and put it away...
I listened to Silly Songs really loudly due to Alex figuring out the volume dial...
I held Marissa after she fell out of the stroller head first onto the tile...
I thought about Erin's deep thought yesterday: "I know why my head always hurts, it's because the world keeps spinning" (I guess we know why Marissa's hurts)...
I snickered at Erin's deep thought for today: "Every morning I have slobber in the corner of my eyes"...
I laughed even more about the one Erin said last week: "Hey, I forgot to pick my nose today! Actually, I think I'm just going to pick it tonight"...
I packed a lunch in a Tinkerbell lunchbox...
I did 18 hard minutes on the stair stepper at the gym...
I watched Erin do her homework all by herself and it went like this: August 26 I love you Mrs. Drabek I love yo to I love my famly too I love my mommy I love my daddy I love my sistr I love my bruthr I love my cats too Love Erin and I do my best (all the "loves" were hearts)...
I began my first day of Design 10 torture and felt extremely overwhelmed...
I laughed when I saw Marissa's face, head, and clothes after playing with pink sidewalk chalk and water, and I smiled because she was so happy...
I gave two chalky children a bath and later found two wet, naked children running around the house, and I laughed...
I took a pair of scissors away from Marissa while I was unloading silverware, only to watch her grab a knife...
I mopped the floor with my new Hoover FloorMate and liked it...
I watched Erin do the "ta-toot-ti-ta dance" twice and laughed both times (I have to get it on video)...
I sketched and spent several hours making a computer model of a 1950 subtropical guest house that is due tomorrow...
I remembered Alex saying "Mommy, I took off my pants because they were wet, and because my diaper was melting"...
I made the third dinner in my 10 week meal plan and it was easy (and delicious)...
I listened to Erin read me a book and then I read her two more...
I sent Jared out to get diapers after he put the kids to bed, played racquetball, and missed his 9:30 call (oops)...
I cuddled with Alex when he woke up at 9:40 p.m. and asked for lunch...
I laid down with Erin as she told me about the cafeteria, it being the favorite part of her day...
I saw a light at the end of the Architecture tunnel, but still know there are many all nighters along the way...
I told Jared I love him...
I wrote this blog when I should have been working on my project...
...and the night is still, unfortunately, young... and the baby's crying (gotta go!)... never mind, she went back to sleep.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Don't get me wrong, I was one of those kids. I'd been off the first my share of times and I even went off the third a couple of times just to say that I had. Not to waste the experience, here I am saying it. I told Jared about the platforms and knew he would also find joy in the ridiculous ritual of purposely jumping off the equivalent of a three story building, if for no other reason than to say he had.
Not great resolution on these pictures, but you can see what I'm referring to.
I let a few kids go before me... then Jared came up again... and I let him go before me too. Okay, that happened three times. I started seeing the same kids come up again and again and two things happened: I let them all go before me and I made some new friends. They gave me tips about what to do so I wouldn't splat onto the water wrong, that I should look at the mountains, that I should walk off or just take a running leap or close my eyes. I stood at the edge more than once but still, I couldn't will myself to take the jump. It was a long way down! And what if I landed wrong? I had kids to think about now.
After a good 20 minutes or so I decided I would work up to it by going off the first platform first. That one was noticeably lower, however for some lame reason I still couldn't go off! I knew climbing down the ladder would mean utter humiliation. I also knew the longer I stood up there I accumulated more and more friends. One "friend" was up there with me for a while; he wouldn't jump either. It was stupid. Why couldn't I just jump? Then, BEEP! "Five minute break, everyone climb down!" So I had to climb down, still humiliated but at least there were 10 or 12 of us.
You would think the story would end here, but you'd be wrong. After the break I had to try again, this time going off the high dive a few times first. I had to redeem myself. I found myself on the first platform again with more and more eyes on me. Not only was my whole family watching and chanting my name, but a sizable crowd of my fellow diving friends joined in as well as life guards and the other hundred or so people at the pool. The pressure was mounting and the embarrassment increasing. Really, it was getting way out of control. I was becoming the laughingstock of the pool. What was my problem? I'd done it before. All I had to do was make the decision, jump and then be fine (assuming the splat didn't go wrong). Eventually three kids formed a barrier from the end of the platform and the ladder so I had no choice but to jump. One said she'd pay me a dollar and another promised three bucks. I guess if I'd stayed up there longer I would have made more...
But it was getting beyond ridiculous, so... I took a step.
Entry into the water was perfect and no bodily injury was inflicted. As I swam toward the side I felt like a some sort of hero or Olympian knowing that all the eyes were on me. I imagined eruptions of cheers and I seemed to hear the Chariots of Fire theme song in the background. By the time I reached the ladder and proudly climbed out, my celebration was interrupted by the lifeguard yelling down at me, "Hey, if you ever do that again, swim to the other ladder!" Evidently, in the midst of my victory, I'd traveled right under the high dive instead of safely swimming back to the wall under the platforms. A small detail, but one that did not help matters, being the laughingstock and all. And no, I am not exaggerating. The lifeguard at the top of the slide asked me if I survived the jump and I received random congratulations the rest of the night.
Long story short, I'm a big wuss! In order to redeem myself again, from the first time I tried to redeem myself, I did climb up to the first platform and jumped off it again without thinking too much. Definitely my problem the first time. No, it was not that bad and no, it was not worth all that anticipation and embarrassment, and yes, it was actually pretty fun... once I finally did it.
FYI, the kid that said he'd pay me three bucks later told me he was lying, the punk!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Simon is a great cat. He's soft, friendly and huge (18 lbs?-but he's not fat, he's just big-boned). In many ways he thinks he's a dog, but not in a bad yappy, smelly, sniff your crotch or lick you sort of way (sorry if I am offending you dog lovers out there, but in my defense I've had numerous horrifying experiences with dogs in my life including one the size of a horse viciously taking a chunk out of my leg on my mission. Truthfully, I'm a little scared of them; hence I prefer cats). No, he's people friendly, not skittish or aloof like a normal cat, and he likes to take walks with us around the block, like a dog; not on a leash, he just walks along the sidewalk with us. Endearing, really. Sure, Simon's not perfect. He throws up almost daily and he's caught his share of innocent animals and dragged them into the house (i.e. the oversized rat in the family room today)... which leads me to what happened next.
Almost a month ago on one of the said walks with Simon, we noticed that at the end of the block this flock of crazy birds started circling him, tweeting furiously, and then dive-bombing him. At first it was just a weird display of nature, almost comical. Huh, shouldn't the cat go after the bird? But every time we walked by that spot those lunatic birds got more and more brazen, getting closer and closer to Simon as he took cover in the nearest bush or under a car pathetically meowing for help. Up to this point the birds had never actually hit him. I couldn't deny that those birds had every right to be mad, considering the likely fact that Simon had captured, played with and killed one or more of their family members. But still, I felt bad for the poor kitty.
Then about a week ago I noticed a scab on the top of his head. It wasn't so bad; he'd gotten in fights before (I did say he wasn't perfect, right?). A few days later I noticed that his eye was a little swollen and a closer examination revealed a worse head injury, longer and deeper. I began to worry, and became more suspicious of the hooligan birds. But it wasn't till the next day that I really knew. A trail of blood on the tile, couch, and table led me to a big open gash on the side of Simon's face. Those psychopaths were out to kill our cat! Or at least peck his eyes/brain out.
Not only that but they have gathered more forces and moved to our tree and roof. Come on now, this is his territory; he can't even poop in peace anymore. What am I saying? This is my territory and truth be told, I'm somewhat freaked out by them sitting there staring at me. And what's more, I was mowing the lawn last week when one of them dive-bombed me and hit me in the arm! He and the rest of them just sat on the fence with those evil conspiring eyes and I’ll tell you, I was pretty creeped out by it all. The fact that I was pushing a loud killing machine had no weight with them. Instead, scenes from Hitchock's "The Birds" began flashing through my head each time I nervously passed one of them. I know how Simon feels. We have been made prisoners in our own home.
Erin was extremely concerned as well. At one point she said, “Mommy, I think we should say a prayer for Simon.” Good idea, it didn’t even cross my mind. She later asked, “Do you think Jesus can make the fur grow back on Simon’s face?” After the prayer she looked out at him and declared that he was looking a lot better and it was because of the prayer. Honestly, her childlike faith brought a tear to my eye.
But here's the thing. What are we supposed to do about Simon now? We can't keep him inside or he'd go crazy, yet every time he goes outside he gets terrorized or injured. Our other cat doesn't have this problem, but then again, he also knows he's a cat and stealthily makes his way through the bushes as he should instead of sprawling out on the front lawn like an 18 pound target. Will Simon eventually just learn? Will he live in fear the rest of his life? Will he just keep getting injured? One last question, just how bad/illegal would it be for Jared and his friends to do some paintball target practice in you-know-who's general direction? Just exploring my options.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
FAU student's design chosen as bus shelter of future
A new generation of bus shelters -- a sleek model with voice alerts to announce coming buses, moveable solar panels and protection from the elements -- may soon dot Broward sidewalks.
By LUISA YANEZ
They're sleek, have solar panels, bike racks, offer protection from the sun and even have recycling bins.
The design by a part-time Florida Atlantic University student was chosen by Broward Transit as the prototype of the county's future bus shelters.
''It's very exciting to design something and then actually see it be built,'' said Laura Daniels, 33.
It was all part of a semester class assignment at FAU.
Daniels, a mother of three who lives in Sunrise, came up with her design in just a few hours.
''We are very proud of Laura's achievement,'' said associate professor Anthony Abbate.
And she got an A in the class.
Simplicity and practicality made her bus shelter stand out from the others, Daniels said. ''It incorporates all these special features into the design and it actually looks attractive to passing traffic,'' she said.
It's also self-sustaining. The bus shelter's information system, which alerts passengers of a coming bus, is powered by solar panels that tilt toward the sun. They also provide light at night.
Daniels' design contains shaded areas meant to keep those waiting protected from the sun and rain. The seating area is also longer and there are racks to accommodate bikers. The bus shelters will be handicapped accessible and house trash and recycling bins and a resting bar that passengers can lean on while waiting for buses.
Broward Transit selected Daniels' design for development and implementation under a program for improving transit facilities countywide. The county recently received $35 million in stimulus money for transportation projects.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
1. I went to a random exercise class in the morning and was a little disappointed walking out because I didn't even break a sweat--and it's not exercise unless I do. It felt like I wasn't doing anything most of the time. But the next day (and today) I was so completely sore! Somehow she secretly worked some of my muscles that have probably never been flexed. Triceps, abs, back... ouch! So that was weird.
2. I was taking Erin to ballet (which is a story in itself) and was stopped in the left turn lane at a red light. The lady in the car in front of me did some wild jerking of her elbow and flailing of her arms, which made me think there must have been a really big bug in her car. But when the light turned green she didn't move. I gave the courtesy honk and nothing. Another honk, but nothing. Then I remembered the flailing and started wondering if she was okay--a seizure? heart attack? drug overdose? what if she died? I wouldn't normally just get out of my car, but I had a feeling something was wrong. I grabbed my phone, walked up to her window and found her asleep! She must have felt my presence because she woke up with a start, rolled down her window and yelled, "WHAT?!" I was a little taken aback but said, "I was just wondering if you were okay because the light was green and you weren't going." That's when she completely lost it yelling, "YOU KNOW WHY I WASN'T MOVING? IT'S BECAUSE YOU WERE JUST SITTING THERE BEHIND ME AND MAKING ME NERVOUS!...." Whoa. So much for being a good Samaritan. She was still yelling when I made my way back to my car. She finally went, but then stopped in the middle of the next street. I passed her hoping she didn't have a gun in her car to use as I drove by (I've read way too many Reader's Digest articles to not think that would happen). She didn't, but that was weird. Looking back, I probably should have called for help because she was so not okay. Whether it was a seizure or not, nobody should be falling asleep behind the wheel like that.
3. Maybe this isn't weird, but I look forward to Monday nights for two reasons: The Bachelorette and Here Come the Newlyweds (I only started watching the last one because I was friends with one of the guy's brothers. And it was cool to see two Mormon couples on it). Anyway, like Callie and Robin, I too am hooked on the Bachelorette. I just have to let it out, Wes is such a slimy dirtbag and I can't believe he is still in the running! I know the editors do a lot to paint him in a certain way. For all I know he's had great moments with Jillian, but I sure as heck haven't seen them. It makes for some great drama though. She should have chosen Michael, but I guess if she knew she wouldn't end up with him, fine. I'm so glad to see Ed again. He made a mistake by leaving, but coming back took a lot of guts. And maybe leaving was what it took for both of them to realize how much they liked each other. Three good guys out of four isn't bad. I can't wait to see Wes get kicked off next week. Ew! Just thinking about him gets that icky song in my head, "They say love, it isn't eeeaaasy..." Annoying.
4. This one happened today, but is a result of Monday. For the second time this summer I went grocery shopping and got through the checkout only to realize I didn't have my wallet. Yes, I am saying that I had to strap three kids in, go home, come back, unstrap, go in to pay, re-strap three kids and go home, for the second time this summer! Now, I would like to believe I am not a total airhead, but these incidents sure aren't making it easier to convince myself of that fact. I would also love to blame the no wallet thing on the kids, but alas, I have found a different culprit, the internet. Both times I have taken my wallet out to order something online and then not put it back. Looking on the bright side, I can't remember the last time I locked my keys in the car (knock on wood).
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
This summer we had the kids take swimming lessons. This is Erin's third year of lessons so she was pretty used to them and really excited about them. I didn't expect her to cry like she did when she was three, but I also didn't expect her to do as well as she did. From the first day whenever they asked who wanted to be first she'd excitedly raised her hand. She had no trouble talking, doing anything the teacher asked or even swimming around the other five kids along the wall repeatedly, only to have all the other kids do the same. It's a little surprising that the teacher allowed them to do that while she was out with other kids, but as it turns out it was her first time teaching and the kids did get a lot of extra practice. Way to start a trend Erin.
I'm just amazed by how far she has come, and here's why. I would always see these other kids with no fear making friends anywhere they went, actually swimming at swimming parties, raising their hands at story time, performing Broadway musicals in front of thousands of people, etc. while my child cowered behind my leg if anyone so much as looked at her. Of course I know that it doesn't matter if you are a bit timid and aren't the first one to jump into things (coming from someone who was and still is a little that way). You can be a perfectly acceptable contributing member of society if you are a little shy (I keep telling myself that anyway), but it's just cool to see her come out of her shell like this.
At the end of her last class they got pushed down the big water slide by their teacher and Erin, with her newfound bravery, was the first one down. Jared caught this shot of her as she spun around at the end. I guess the fact that she didn't drown after that is a good sign that my money has been well spent.
Alex just finished his first round of lessons. Since he's not three yet we couldn't do the group lessons, but I wanted him to start so it was just him and Fred, his private instructor (for 10 minutes a day). For the first two days, Alex alternated between screaming and being pushed under the water toward the wall, followed by more screaming. After that I was sure that it was a huge waste, realizing that the only hopeful aspect about the lessons was that he was smart enough to stop screaming when he got shoved under.
But, to my amazement Alex walked right up to Fred that third day and did not scream once for the rest of the lessons (that is except for the hour before each terrifying event). He was counting imaginary fishes on the bottom of the pool, blowing bubbles, giving high fives, jumping in and turning around to touch the wall, and kicking by himself to the wall (he's still pretty young for the arms). Seriously though, it was an incredible transformation. In the end, it was worth the time and money. If nothing else, he will be that much more prepared for next summer. Way to go!
This picture was of his second lesson, so he was still has his worried face on. I didn't get any of his post screaming lessons, but you get the idea. Look how tan that guy is (not Alex, his teacher... just in case)
And speaking of swimming... for anyone that may not know this already, Florida is really, really hot in the summer, unbearably hot and sticky. You'd have to be crazy to go to the park in the summer. There are only two options for surviving the summer here: 1. shuffle your kids from one air conditioned space as quickly as possible to another (house, car, gym, car, house, car, museum, car, grocery store, car, house... and then collapse in your 78 degree cave) or 2. go swimming. The second option sounds pretty good, until you factor in all that comes with it: swim diapers, swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, snacks, water... and that's just the hour of prep time. Once you get there, that's when the real work begins. Kids are hanging on me in three directions, yelling that they're going to jump to me, kicking off my legs, swimming to the wall, trying to run around the deck and into the hot tub, asking me to put on their goggles (again!), or fighting over them at the edge of the deep end when I'm 30 feet away. Good grief, I spend the whole freaking time just making sure these kids don't drown! (You know what would be easier? Yeah, putting on a movie in the air conditioned home.) But, in order to survive Florida summers, we must go swimming... and heck, the kids have a blast (even if I get new gray hairs from each plunge).
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Right after I got home it was back to reality and Jared was off to Scout camp. Normally this would have been fine, seeing as I am with the kids alone every other day. But yesterday E and A were SO crabby and tired. Every few minutes I was breaking up another fight. This went on for longer than I had patience, and then I heard them start to bear their testimonies. They were taking turns using the vacuum attachment as the microphone and it went something like this, "I'd like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true. I know Jesus loves me. My favorite food is spaghetti. My favorite vegetable is corn. My favorite fruit is bananas. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." (I can't wait to hear this from the pulpit) I had to smile as they rotated bearing some variation of this testimony, always including their favorite foods, especially since they went from pinching/scratching/hitting to this.
The crabby testimony bearers finally conked out five minutes before Marissa woke up, so it was just me and her for a couple of hours. I am really not sure if she's ever had alone time like that, because she was honestly really bored. What did I ever do with just one child? (not break up fights, for starters) I mean we read books, played with blocks, sang songs and even watched Baby Einstein, but still, I'm not so exciting. Kids are way more fun to follow around. I guess I never realized how easy it is to just have her wander around so happy with the other kids.
I finally put her down again and began painting... five minutes before the other kids woke up, happy this time. I do love being a mom, and I'm loving working on the house too. A few more hours of kids, feeding, bathing, dressing, reading, telling a story from when I was a kid, threatening to lock the door if they didn't stay in bed, and I was back to my painting. I did end the day on a good note, another episode of "Get it Sold", though I fell asleep before it was over. I guess I need to put that on my list of things to finish too.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
So in an effort to preserve some of my better memories, I thought I would write them here. This one sticks out for some reason. I was 10 years old and it was 1986, the height of the Lee Press-On Nail craze, at least for me. I must have seen one of these commercials and got it into my head that I must have a set. It was a secret desire of course, but somehow or another I would have Lee Press-On Nails. And I had a plan. I was in fourth grade so naturally I was responsible enough to be employed. My first job was to walk a first grader home and play with her for about an hour till her mom got home once a week, and then I got a dollar. As I walked home each week with that dollar burning a hole in my pocket, I thought about the many ways I could spend it. 3 Musketeers? No. Gum? No. I would save it for the prized fake nails.
Here are the commercials. Yeah, I still can't understand why they don't sell these anymore.
After what seemed like a really long time, at least a month or so, I felt I had saved up enough money to buy them, between $3-4. So I walked down the street to the local drug store with high hopes and a glimmer in my eye knowing, secretly, that I would soon have the most beautiful nails any elementary child ever had. I walked down the nail aisle and there they were, almost more incredible than the commercial. I didn't want the clear ones that you could paint. What I wanted was much better: the hot pink ones. Those would be mine. But then I looked at the price. $7!!! What? You might imagine a kid would give up after seeing that, but I was determined. I would just have to save up more money.
Finally, after several more weeks and careful counting of my money so I would not have to leave the store empty handed again, I walked there (unbeknownst to my family) and bought them. Surely, this was happiness. My first major purchase, and something so awesome! Upon opening them and putting them on I soon realized that these nails were meant for adult hands, and I was 10. Evidently the store I went to didn’t carry “Miss Lee Press-On Nails”. But that didn’t matter, I stuck those babies on and yes, they were incredible! Incredible and very big, and really long (I must have gotten the glamor length), but so cute. I wish I had a picture. After a short while I realized that I couldn’t do everything I had previously been able to do, like hold a fork or brush my teeth or close my hands all the way. I did however learn to ride my 10-speed around by pressing my open palms on the steering wheel. Admittedly, braking was more tricky, but I clearly remember riding around like that admiring the hot pink beauties. Yeah, I looked ridiculous!
After a while I realized that my summer would be spoiled if I kept those things on. Sadly, I peeled them off knowing that all my hard work and saving was, well, pretty much a huge waste. Fortunately, the nails kept some of their stickiness so I could reapply them whenever I needed to feel Lee Press-On-y again. I do remember keeping them in a box for several more years to come too, although for better or worse I do not have them today. Bummer, because they might actually fit me now.
So the moral of this story is… don’t spend your money for that which has no worth, or if you work hard enough you can get anything you really want, or don’t be drawn in by dumb advertisements, or sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way like I did. Maybe there is no moral, but just lets my kids know that their mom was kind of just a weird kid with weird adult-sized hot pink fake nails.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Marissa started walking at about 10 1/2 months but recently she has begun training to be one of those speed walkers. It's definitely not running, but that kid can move. She also likes climbing and balancing. I found her standing on the table a couple of times recently, should that concern me? She also learned how to get off beds and couches by turning around, though we have no idea how she learned it since we didn't teach her. Being the third child with an older brother who's adopted the "tough love" philosophy means she is also learning some good defensive skills. She may be small but she's really tough.
Her first word was "hi" and she is so cute when she says it as soon as she sees you. One of her other first words was "kitty", so whenever she sees one of our cats she says "hi kitty" or a dog or a bird or a hamster, pretty much anything that is alive is a kitty to her. She also says "daddy", "mommy", "cheese", "shoes", "poo-poo" (when you are changing her), "no, no, no, no, no" (usually when she wants something or when you try to take something she has away), "thank you", "yucky", "yummy", and "purple popple" (it's a purple stuffed animal that turns into a ball).
She was 18.5 lbs and 29 inches at the doctor this week, which is somewhere around 10-25th percentile. People always comment on how small she is and how they can't believe how well she is walking. She is still a thumb sucker when she goes to sleep or when she's tired and cuddles up to you. Every time I put her to bed she gives me a big, snugly hug. It makes me want to stop time and just hold her forever. She's going to grow up and do other great things, but I don't want to forget how small and sweet she is now.
I almost forgot to mention the one thing I won't miss, her major drooling problem! The poor kid has been teething non-stop for a few months now (I think the tooth count is around 12, but I could be wrong--every time I reach in there's another one. Why can't they come all at once and just get it over with anyway?), and the slobber has only escalated. We're talking four bibs before church was over last Sunday. I'm going to go as far as to say her problem is slightly worse than Alex's was, but he doesn't drool anymore so there's hope. The doctor says she's well-hydrated. I say let's hope it's not too much longer. I guess if I have to take drooly along with cute, cuddly, sweet, happy Marissa I'll take it.
"drop the cupcake on the floor repetitively as my sister picks it up"
Friday, June 5, 2009
Alex and his little friend have some great conversations. One time I was listening to them in the back of the car debating about Alex's yellow shirt. Friend: Your shirt is yewow? Alex: No, it's lellow. F: Yewow? A: No, lellow. F: Yewow? A: No, LELLOW! F: Oh, yewow. A: Yeah, lellow. Less than a minute later Alex asked about the friend's drink. Alex: Is that your dink? Friend: No, it's my bink. A: Your dink? F: No, my bink. A: Your dink? F: No, my BINK! Most recently Alex got really mad that his friend said Pissmas instead of Cwissmas, the correct way to say Christmas. And later that day they kept asking to take a bass or a baff... oh, a bath. I love two year olds. They make no sense a lot of the time, but they are so funny.
The other day Alex tripped and fell on his hands. He started crying so I asked him if he hurt his hands. He said, "No, I hurt everything!"
Alex thinks that blond is a color. For instance, our tan car is blond, crayons can be blond and his chest of drawers is blond. One day he was standing between his chest of drawers and his red firetruck bed and said, pointing to the dresser, "this is blond and this (pointing to his bed) is spicy." No idea where he got either of those ideas. Side note on the bed. We already had a toddler bed for Alex when someone gave us the firetruck bed. They love to play in it but Alex refuses to sleep in it. Where does he sleep? In the same bed as Erin! So we have two extra beds taking up space that nobody sleeps in. Err. Anyone need a bed?
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
It was Jared's 33rd birthday today. Luckily, that was all the candles we had (I don't know what we're going to do next year). Erin helped me make a lopsided carrot cake, even though carrot cake is disgusting according to her. Something about vegetables being in it? And we made his favorite meal, taco pie. Not too exciting, sorry Jared. He did get to eat on the homemade "You are Special" plate and I got him out of the meeting he was supposed to have tonight. Oh yeah (really I just wanted him to help put the kids to bed). He wanted a table saw, but had to settle for some jeans, a pair of gym shorts and a charging station since we just bought new couches. Maybe next year (he thinks maybe Father's day, but isn't that like in a couple weeks?). Hey, maybe we can count him joining the gym last week? Anyway, Happy Birthday Jared!
It was Erin's special day because she had her preschool graduation. She has come a long way since last year when she cried the whole time. This year she had a few speaking parts including "My name is Erin Daniels. Did you know that caterpillars turn into butterflies?" (I did know that... I knew a lot of the other kids' facts as well) and "G, g.. g.. guitar, H, h.. h.. heart."
She did a spectacular chicken dance, and when it accelerated in the end Erin was by far the fastest one. That's got to count for something.They wore caps and gowns. I noticed that Erin is also the shortest one in her class. Maybe I need to feed her more? Well, she is also one of the youngest ones too.I was such a proud parent watching her, I even got a little choked up a couple of times. Erin is such a smart, funny and cute girl. I love to watch her grow up and do things like this.