Tuesday, May 31, 2011

i heart faces: picture of the month

*UPDATE: nevermind on the voting, they did it differently this time and chose 100 to vote for- not mine!
This week's i heart faces is People's Choice. Which means YOU can go vote for it.  Just to clarify, it is NOT a cutest kids contest or something like that.  I think some of you thought that was the case the last time I did this. It was really hard to go through my gabillion pictures and pick just one, but I of course picked one of my own kids.  Of course.  Here's Fletcher, laughing at the big fountain faces in Millenium Park in Chicago.  If you're liking my photo and want to vote for it, or just want to see some really awesome pictures, then click on the link above.

Summer weather, splashing in the fountain, hanging out dowtown all equals pure joy for our family.  And the joy is written all over Fletcher's face here.  That's why I picked this one.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

MAJ William Hecker
CPT Christopher Petty
SFC Stephen J. White
SGT Johnny J. Peralez, Jr.
PVT Robbie M. Mariano
Thank you.  Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.  Your family's sacrifice will never be forgotten.

And although this is Memorial Day, in which we remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I find it a perfect time to thank those who have served or are currently serving. 

My Grandfather, Paul Rider.  Thank you.

To my uncles, Bob Rider, Fred Rider, and Rick Rider, thank you.

To all our friends who have served or currently serve, thank you.  Especially you.  Yes, I'm talking to you.

To my husband, thank you.  Thank you for enlisting twenty years ago.  And then going back and subjecting yourself to it all over again as an officer.  You rock.

On Memorial Day, don't forget to remember those who gave everything for our country.  And if you feel like it, you can thank a veteran or a soldier, too.

Friday, May 27, 2011

friday facts: time flies

Someone has pushed the fast forward button on my life.  I honestly sometimes forget that I'm in my 30s.  MY THIRTIES.  I was recently visiting my brother who somehow lost a year.  He seriously thought he was a year younger.  Like any thoughtful younger sister, I reminded him of his actual age (you're welcome, Paul).  But I understand how that happens.  I've been 29 for quite a few years now.

See these trees?  They are in my parent's back yard.  They were quite small when I was young.  See the one on the left?  We used to put Christmas lights on it.  Dad used to hold me up and I'd put on the star. 

Time flies.  Sometimes you have to reach out and yank time out of the air and hold on.  I do this with my children.  Memory snapshots.  I have a memory snapshot of holding Fletcher for the first time, and nursing him for the last time.  I have a memory snapshot of feeling Rowan's fuzzy back just a week after she was born.  I made one just the other day of the way Rowan's little butt looks naked.  I also made one recently when Fletcher said he did not want me to blow dry his hair after his bath because, "It's too windy!" 

Time flies.  I was just a child decorating a tree in the back yard.  Now I have my own children. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

you capture: pretty

Well, I'm late late late in the day for this You Capture, but I'm sure no one will slap me on the hand.  Pretty sure.  Anyhoo, this is coming from a COMPLETE bias, but Rowan is the prettiest thing I've ever seen.  Sometimes I think that the stars aligned juuuuust right and she managed to get the combination of all of my and Brian's best features.  But it's that sweetness that shines through that makes her oh so pretty to me. 

Also pretty?  This view from my parent's deck.  They have a million other pretty views, too, but what's prettier than a gazebo nestled in the woods?

And my mom's plants to be put in.  She must put in a gazillion plants and flowers every year, and their place always looks AMAZING. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

the glamorous life

Yep, it's about as glamorous as you might think being a stay at home mama to two littles can be.  Especially when Brian goes out of town for 4 days on a fishing trip.  Then things get REALLY glamorous.  Like pack up the car and go visit Gigi and Boppi glamorous.  Oh, those are the fancy names Fletcher calls my parents if you were wondering.  So we went for a visit.  Fletcher loves visiting places, especially if they have fun toys!  And Fletcher was super helpful (I'm sure) with Mom's plantings.  Uh, I'm going to insert a warning here about the plethora of pictures I have.  Sorry.

Fletcher was THIS HAPPY.

And Rowan was this happy.

No, she was happier than she's putting on here.  She just likes to play it cool around her Gigi and Bop.  She also started a reading club with Gigi.  After this they had a very interesting discussion on the author's commentary on life in Green Eggs and Ham.

And then Brian came back from the fishing trip and while he went through eggs-steaks-meats-beers detox, he watched the kids so I could hang out with one of my very best of best friends, Karen.  She lives very far far away, and so I get to see her about once or twice a year.  A sad but true fact.  I will probably see her even less once we move away since we're now not too far from where we grew up.  We went lunching, shopping, dinnering, wine-ing, movie-ing, and then coffeeing the next morning.  It was FUN.  We talked, we laughed, and I felt like my batteries got recharged.  (And I highly recommend Bridesmaids)  Plus the kids LOVED hanging out with Auntie K.  The fact that she brought fun presents probably didn't hurt.  Also, she shares a birthday with Rowan.  How cool is that?

Birthday Buddies

After Auntie K left to go back and hang out with her family, we packed the littles in the car and headed downtown to Chicago.  Fun!  Brian had to drop off his gear for the National Guard.  Goodbye, National Guard!  I will not miss you.  So we waited in the hallway in a dank Armory until we could bust out into the sunshine in Millennium Park.

As we drove up to the amphitheater, Fletcher says, "What IS that??"  He was excited to see it.  And also the bean.


But I think his favorite was the face fountain area. 

He made his own faces at them.

And Rowan liked the faces, too.

And then Fletcher tried out the water area...

And then REALLY tried it out.

Until the big kids came splashing through and he got thoroughly splashed.

"I'm ALL WET.  Help me, I'm ALL WET."

Unfortunately, while mama did think ahead to a change of clothes, I did not think ahead to a change of sock and shoes.   So we ended up in the bathrooms with Brian furiously drying out socks and shoes under the windtunnelesque hand driers while Fletcher screamed, "IT'S TOO LOUD, PAPA!!"  I could hear him all the way in the woman's bathroom. 

At this point we met up with Grandma (no fancy names for Brian's parents) who had come downtown on the train.  We stuffed her in the backseat between two tired and squalling littles.  She apparently loves us anyway.  Then she fed Rowan 2 big bottles on the drive back home while we commented, "Wow, she must be so hungry, she never drinks that much."  Yep.  Then we got her out of her seat back home, brought her inside, where she promptly vomited all over me and the floor.  Then she looked up and smiled. 

Like I said, glamorous. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

friday facts: memorial day and other military related stuff

I know this is a week or so early.  But I have it on my mind.  So it must come out, right?  Otherwise it may leave my mind and I will totally forget what I was going to say.  This is a real thing with me, especially since becoming a mama. 

Memorial Day meant just about nothing to me before marrying Brian.  I pretty much went blithely along, cooking out, drinking, celebrating an extra day off without much thought to why I was celebrating.  Now I do the exact same thing.  Except now it MEANS something to me.  You will never know how much of a soldier's life goes into being a soldier until you are either:
a) one yourself
b) married to one

And unfortunately, it means even more having known men who were killed in action.  But we remember them.  Always.  And I want to remember.  I want to remember and thank ALL that have served.  My Grandfather served.  I have uncles who have served.  But until I was married to one who served, I never knew what they give.  And they give everything.  So whether you have served for 3 or 30 years, I thank you for your service. 

I did not realize when I married Brian that I would be marrying the military, too.  And there is good and bad in that.  One of the good is the tight bond you form with other families.  I have seen military families rally around each other in the best and worst of times.  I have no doubt in my mind that if I needed anything, I could count on one of the other Army wives to deliver.  No doubt.  And I'm including those who have gotten out of the Army.  You really can't get away just because your spouse leaves the military.  We're all stuck with each other! 

Brian is on his 3rd go around in the Army.  He can't stay away.  So we're a military family, and this time for good.  Or until he retires.  But even then, we'll still be a military family.  You really never stop. 

If you know someone who has served, or is currently serving, be sure to thank them.  And of course, remember those who have given their lives for our country.  Say a prayer in remembrance.  Set an extra place at your table in remembrance.  Hang up your flag.  Post pictures of your loved ones in uniform.

ESPECIALLY if your loved one is wearing a dickey in said photo.  Cause dickeys are funny- double funny when added to a military uniform.  This is Brian joining the Field Artillery.  Fresh out of OCS (Officer Candidate School).  Thank you for your service, Brian!

And now, I have news.  We are going to be headed to South Carolina!  We don't know the when yet, and we will probably be there around a year or less.  Brian will be training there before we head off to other places unknown.  But at least we know our layover!  Stay tuned for when we'll be leaving Chicagoland.  I'll miss ya'll.  No, scratch that.  I just can't do it.  No ya'll.  I'll miss yous guys.  There, I feel better now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

you capture: busy

Busy.  It's hard to capture busy.  Cause, well, I'm too busy to capture it!  I wondered if I should take pictures of my dishes in the sink, or mountains of laudry, but that all seemed too embarrassing and I obviously wasn't busy from it all if it was still just sitting there.  We did have had a busy week what with a party and cleaning up after the party.

{the morning after}

And when I tried to take pictures of the birthday girl, she was often too busy to sit still.  All of us picture taking mommies have to admit our number 1 impediment is all the moving around.  Sheesh, kids SIT still!!  It goes against a toddler's nature to sit still.

{so not interested in being cute for mama}

Ok, I guess there is one time we all stay pretty still.  And that's when we're being nosy neighbors and watching YOU.  Yes, YOU.  We're watching.

{neighborhood watch}
But don't be creeped out.  Please, carry on.

Monday, May 16, 2011

the birthday party!

Sometime around 3 or 4 weeks ago I lost my mind and decided to invite a bunch of people over to celebrate Rowan's birthday.  Let me admit right now that I did it to avoid future guilt.  We had a big party for Fletcher's first birthday and I was frankly afraid that one day Rowan would see the pictures and go into some little girl tirade about how she didn't get one.  Not that I would ever raise my children to guilt me or have tirades, but JUST IN CASE.  Besides, parties are fun!  People love parties!  Free food and drink and you don't have to do the dishes!  Parties are the best. 

My dad and Fletcher blew up a gazillion balloons.  They were beloved by all children.

I strung up the pennant banner my friend, Kelly, made just for Rowan's party.  She made it!  It turned out so awesome and now I have something so cute to hang in Rowan's room.  THANK YOU, KELLY!!!

See?  She even put cute owls on them.  I love cute owls.  I also made a photo garland of pictures from each month of Rowan's life thus far.  

And then since the cupcakes weren't really decorated (besides the sprinkles) my mom printed out these cute pictures of birds and I glued them to drink stirrers to stick into the cupcakes.  The white and chocolate cupcakes, as you may remember.  I know some of you are dying to know how they were, and I can now proudly say they were perfectly adequate.  And that's about as much of a ringing endorsement as I can give them.

And then after all the place was festooned, I went to work on my daughter.  I had planned for her to wear a cute summer outfit that I had worn as a baby, but the weather decided to be cold, rainy, and just all around crappy.  I'm pretty sure it was because I keep calling Mother Nature a bitch.  I'll be sure to butter her up before our next party.  So I had to improvise and add leggingings and a long sleeve onesie.

She may have gotten a little too much in the party spirit.

And then we did what all responsible adults do to their one year olds- we stuck a cupcake in front of her with a lit candle!  She was pretty confused. 

So we blew it out for her and waited for her to eat it.  She was still pretty confused.  So we said: here, try some, you'll like it!  And commenced shoving some into her mouth.

And she said: No, I don't think I like it!

And we said: Sure you do!  Let's shove some more in there!

And then she finally agreed and went to town on that "white" cupcake!

And then we ate, drank and were merry!  And we (and by "we" I mean Brian) let the kids use a bunch of silly string all over the house.  As I type this it is still on my ceiling in the living room.

You can see it all over the floor in the picture above.  The kids loooooved it.  I thought I was going to have a stroke.  And at the end of the night, we found out that real men wear party hats.

Please excuse the crappy pictures. It was dark in the house because Mother Nature was being a bitch.  Whoops!

i heart faces: may flowers

Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed. ~Walt Whitman

Yeah, what Walt said.  I likes me some flowers.  These are some of my very favorites and are currently blooming a riot in my garden- bleeding hearts.  Just like me.

Friday, May 13, 2011

friday facts: it's a birthday!

Well, yesterday was a birthday, but we're actually celebrating tomorrow with a party!  And of course what started out as a small party has kind of spiralled out of control.  Because that's what I do.  I invite everyone.  If you are reading this and I didn't invite you, I'm sorry.  I should have.  Maybe I thought you were too far away or something.  Or maybe you need to shower more, who knows?

So happy birthday to my baby, Rowan! Sweet baby Rowan is now one year old as of yesterday. How did this happen to me? Is it time to have another baby? No, it is not. But I think I blinked sometime in the last year and now here we are. She crawls everywhere, climbs everything and is generally becoming a toddler before my very eyes. Boo! Where did my baby go?

I know.  She's so cute.  I took these ON her birthday, so she is exactly ONE year old in these pictures.  What is funny is that I never put her in this kind of a frilly thing, but how can you not put it on for pictures?  It was a pain to try and get her to keep on the headband, though.  I've had this tutu for about 6 months now, and it was the first time she wore it.  And probably the last.  It's not great for everyday wear, you know?

So now we are getting ready for a party!  For Fletcher's one year party I made and decorated these really cute monkey cupcakes.

But that was then.  And this is now.  So I decided to order cupcakes from this nice bakery in our town that I found online.  They had about 12 cupcake flavors including red velvet, zucchini (?) and banana (my favorite!).  And then they had 6 different icing options including strawberry, butter cream, and cream cheese.  Yum!  We studied the flavor lists and made our decision.  I headed for the bakery the very next day to find it OUT OF BUSINESS.  Shoot!  So I drove over to a little mom and pop bakery that I knew was in the next town.  Not out of business.  Yay!  I asked the older lady behind the counter what the flavors of cupcakes were.  She looked at me like I was insane and said:
"Uh, chocolate and white."
Me:  Oh.  Is the white vanilla flavored?
Her:  No.  It's white.  (Still looking at me like I'm crazy)  Oh and we have yellow. 
Me:  Yellow?  Is that one vanilla?
Her:  No.  It's yellow.
Me:  Okaaay...  What kind of icing flavors do you have?
Her:  (Now looking at me like I am certifiable) Uh, we have white.
Me:  Ok, white. 
Her:  Yep, white.
Me:  Ok, do you decorate the cupcakes?
Her:  Decorate?  Uh, we have sprinkles?
Me:  What the fuck old lady??? 

Just kidding.  I didn't say that last line, but all the rest is true.  And I may have thought the last line, but I'm not admitting anything.  This, I decided, was my penance for not making homemade cupcakes for my daughter.  I did order the cupcakes. Which made her finally look at me like I was a normal human.  I'll let you know how the chocolate and white cupcakes turn out!