Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Here is one of my favorite photos from Christmas and another great photo of my two favorite people. As much as I love this photo, I'm envious as there are far too many good photos of Mike and Ella together compared to the paltry number of photos of her and I.

There are good reasons why more photos of these two exist. First, I'm typically the one using the camera and second, I dislike having my photo taken. Really, how can I compete? These two are just so darn photogenic. I don't possess that gene.

Toddler Speak

One of the cons of having a highly verbal child is the incessant demands. Heard for the first time tonight on the drive home: "GIVE IT BACK..RIGHT NOW...MOMMY."

Needless to say, it was not Ella's happiest or proudest moment.

Although just a few seconds later, she was belting out the chorus to "Jingle Bells" and completely cracking Mike and I up. So is the life with a toddler.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

The gifts are opened. The living room is a mess. Ella is overstimulated and Mike is geeked about his latest gadget. I imagine his new Garmin will keep him entertained for quite some time. It's been quite the day.

Ella is having a ball and her parents are exhausted. I guess that's the mark of a good day. She received too many packages for me to even recall what she unwrapped. Ella was visited by Santa twice this year. He came Friday night at our house and then last night at grandma's house. She definitely has enjoyed everything associated with the season and Mike and I have enjoyed observing her as she experiences all the joy and chaos.

For Christmas Eve, we celebrated with some of my mom's side of the family. After a white elephant gift exchange and tasty chicken noodle soup prepared lovingly by my brother, we headed to Christmas Eve service. We debated whether or not to take Ella. She was telling us she was tired as she has had some difficulties sleeping while at grandma's house. As much as I wanted my husband and my daughter with me for the service especially since Uncle Justin had a solo, I had visions of a massive meltdown during the candle light silent night. Ella seemed to catch a second wind.

She actually provided lots of laughs as we sat in the pew. She enjoyed waving at Justin in a rather over-the-top, animated way as he sat in the choir loft. She was very much into checking out the surrounding people, and she would clap after each song and proclaim, "It over." One of the best moments was her loudly requesting me to sing "Wheels on the Bus" while the rest of the congregation was singing a hymn and after she broke a pencil, she requested her daddy to fix it. She actually did fairly well and lasted through most of the service until I went to check her diaper and she loudly proclaimed, "I just wet." I took her back to the nursery, and Mike relieved me so I could take communion. He tried to bring her back for the singing of Silent Night, but she demanded "I play first."

Fortunately for Mike and I, she went down fairly easily, which allowed MIke and I to get some sleep, which we desperately needed. It has truly been a good day. Hopefully, we'll have photos to share in the next few days.

Merry Christmas all.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

4th Saturday in a row!

This is just unbelievable.

Most people who know me know that I'm HUGE weather geek. In fact, I'm such a geek I don't usually type the word "weather". Its usually "wx". Its an abbreviation I learned while working on the radio in Maryville back in school. Usually, the winter weather really doesn't start rocking around here until about mid-January or so. But THIS year, starting back on the first saturday of December the weather has been a factor every Saturday this month. I think its been over a month since we have seen the sun on a Saturday. Today is no different.

A few days ago it was a just a possiblity for about 1-3 inches MAYBE. Then yesterday it was MAYBE 2-4. This morning I got up and complained to Amanda that once again we are opening our gifts here at home and there isn't a snow flake on the ground.

We got around and headed to Mimi's Cafe for breakfast--holy CRAP it was good. I devoured a Sante Fe omelette that just rocked my world. Amanda had French Toast and eggs--so she was pretty happy too. Ella, as per her usual routine raided both of our plates. But as we watched outside--the rain started to fall, and by the time we we were done with our yummy breakfast it had turned to strictly sleet. And it piled up quickly! Thankfully we made it home before the sleet really kicked in.

Its since turned to snow, but nothing much right now. In fact, its really not doing much at all except for being really freaking windy. But it sounds like it will really kick in the snow here in the next hour or two. I hope Ella will wake up here soon so she can see it coming down while its still light outside!

In the meantime we'll be packing up for our trek up north to Sioux City tomorrow morning. We had contimplanted going up today, but we just weren't quite ready and with the weather being as it is we made the right choice. The weather is much worse in the St. Joe area again. They have been hit big time with a terrible ice storm a couple of weeks ago and now its just been snowing like the dickens again today, sounds like they may have 10 inches before the whole thing is over. Hopefully the roads will be clear by the time we come through tomorrow morning!

So today I'm a happy camper--we have candles lit, Christmas music playing all day, hot coffee sitting next to me and white stuff falling from the sky---all is good.

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sleep Repeat

So far this pregnancy, I have avoided the insomnia that I battled regularly with Ella. That was until tonight. I have been awake for a few hours now. All has not been lost though. I drafted multiple emails regarding work projects. I am waiting to send them until a more reasonable hour. How crazy would I look if I actually sent the messages at this time of night?

I'm not sure if I can blame the insomnia on the pregnancy or work, which has been absolutely insane, so much for the Christmas slowdown we were anticipating. I woke up and had so many work issues swarming in my head that I decided to just start tackling them. I really would like to go back to sleep, but I'm not sure that's possible. I should try. My sweet husband came down to check on me and now he's parked on the couch with his laptop examining the radar and checking out iTunes. Yes, we are somewhat pathetic. Strike that, we are pathetic. Our laptops have become another appendage.

Tonight is suppose to be the night of our annual Christmas date, but unless we get some sleep, we'll be sacked out by 8 pm. Not that we have a clue what we're doing, but actually it doesn't matter. The best part of the night, in addition to getting some quiet time with my husband, is the retrospective conservation on the events of the past year. We will relive all the mundane, sweet, wonderful, emotional and stressful moments from 2007. It's a great way to reflect on how life's events have impacted us and our relationship. It's been one of our relationship traditions since the beginning.

I am starting to yawn. Maybe I should try to find sleep land, but my stomach may lead me to the kitchen first. Please let tonight not be the start of a nasty insomnia cycle. I love sleep too much and miss it when it goes away.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Picture Post

It's time to get back to work
Originally uploaded by mbowling
I have been slacking in the photo department lately. No real good reason. I just haven't dragged out the camera and it seems like I'm the only one in this family that knows how to operate our point and shoot. I could also blame the camera with the hopes that Santa is reading my blog and grants me my Christmas wish of a new digital camera.

Even though we have only taken a few pictures in the past few weeks, we have managed to capture a some decent ones, like this one or at least ones that make Mike and I laugh. Ella is so use to seeing Mike and I in front of our laptops that she can easily identify which one is mine and which one is dad's. She enjoys her share of computer time as well, which mainly means looking at pictures of herself.

I also really like this one. Uncle Scotty had us over a few weeks back to watch some Chiefs football and enjoy some mini-man burgers, one of my favorite dishes that he makes (and he makes a lot of tasty ones). My mouth salivates at the mere mention of those tasty concoctions. And, I am not just saying this, so he'll continue to cook for us.

Finally, this one of my marshmallow kid cracks me up. She doesn't battle us with her coat as she once did, but she definitely would prefer a singular layer to all this. Can't you just tell how annoyed she is with me? I'm not sure if she is more annoyed by all the entire contraption or the fact that mom took yet another photo of her while she was miserable. Don't you just feel nothing but sympathy for this poor child.

So this is my easy way of doing a post. My husband is wrapped up in tv coverage of the great potential this weather has to be the Ice Storm of 2007. I need to drag him and myself to bed, so we can awaken early to brave the winter roads in the morning. I am so dreading this.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mama Broke Santa

I broke santa. I admit it. It's true, but it was never my intent. It just happened, and Ella won't let me forget that I indeed did break santa.

It happened last night. It was dark. It was cold and I was carrying too much. It was a recipe for disaster. If I had realized this, disaster could have been averted, but luck was not on my side. Glenda gave us a cute ceramic santa decor item from Hallmark. It was (and hopefully will be once again) a nice holiday decoration that Mike and I were excited to add it to our collection.

When we left Larry & Glenda's house after celebrating Larry's birthday, I carried out to the car what turned out to be too many bags. I opened the back door with the intent of placing most of the bags in the backseat. Before I sat Ella's bag, my purse, the bag of leftover food, a gift bag and a plastic bag which contained the santa wrapped up in paper, I decided I wanted my purse up front with me and not in the backseat. Rather that set all the bags down and grab my purse, I tried to juggle various straps as the bags were suspended in the air. The strap of the plastic bag slipped from my grasp and landed on the hard, cold driveway with a shatter.

Mike was in the process of strapping Ella into her car seat, and politely asked me, "what was that?" I didn't need to look down. I knew what it was and I knew a million pieces were waiting to greet me once I unwrapped the santa. I just said, "I'm sorry. It was santa, and I bet I broke him." That brief statement would come back to haunt me.

I retrieved the bag and gingerly unwrapped what previously had been a very cute holiday decoration. I let a quick sigh once I noticed it was a clean break and santa was only in two pieces. My spirits were lifted and I apologized again and said a little superglue was all it needed.

I safely secured the bag, closed the door and took my place in the front seat. My door hadn't even shut before Ella uttered, "Mama broke santa." I agreed with her, but reassured her that mommy was going to fix santa and santa could be fixed. She wasn't buying it, so the whole drive home, Ella repeatedly reminded me of my clumsy act, by continually and matter of factly stating, "Mama broke santa." With each utterance, my spirit dropped. I might as well have stolen candy from a child because I in her eyes had done the unthinkable. I broke santa.

I was hoping she had moved past it this morning, but upon returning from the grocery store, Ella from nowhere reminded me of my crime. I admit it. I'm not proud. Now if I can only find the superglue and maybe all will be right in the world once again.

Updated as of 11:08 pm: I learned santa was broken in not two but three pieces, but he now has been completely restored and has taken up residency on our hallway table thanks to Mr. Handy, my husband Mike.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Weather Causes a Change of Plans

As a parent, you hate to see your child hurting, but it also sucks when your spouse is hurting and you feel like you can do nothing for him. The lovely Midwest weather is keeping us from the extended Bowling Christmas in Des Moines this weekend. Our sensible sides prevailed when debating whether to brave the drive or not. While we know we made the right decision, it doesn't make it any easier to digest it. We haven't seen most of this group for a year and we were looking forward to spending the day with them, eating delicious food and overindulging on grandma's cookies. Mike knows he has no control of the weather, but he's disappointed and I wish knew how to cheer him up. A peppermint mocha from Starbucks might be in his future.

Seeing him this down reminds me of the Christmas Day when Mike was in Wichita alone because he had to work and I was in Sioux City with my family. I remember talking to him and hearing the disappointment, hurt and lonelinesss in his voice, and realizing how I only wanted to be with him, and how guilty I felt that I was with my family and he wasn't. And how stupid I was for not being with him. For me, it was a big, hit me over the head moment, when I realized he was who I wanted to be with always, even if it meant not being with my family. Another confirmation for me that I was in the relationship for the long haul.

It was hard to enjoy myself knowing the guy I loved was alone. I remember entertaining the idea of driving to see him, but I was a good seven hours away. I'm sure there were reasons why I didn't go to Wichita. Looking back, I can't recall them. I'm sure Mike being the great guy he was and is, probably told me that one of us should at be with our family. While he would have appreciated the gesture, I ultimately would have been the person alone as he had to work that day.

All of this to say, my husband is a bit grumpy today and Ella and I hopefully will be able to make him smile. I think we plan to spend the day decorating the house.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Picture Adventures

Last night, I attempted the task of dragging Ella to Target to capture some holiday cheer on film. I braved this adventure alone as Mike was driving to Wellsville to look at a dresser we found on Craig's list.

I was barely prepared as I had in my head the pictures weren't suppose to take place for another week. I made the appointment a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving and hadn't official written it on any calendar, so in my universe it didn't really exist. The phone call from the studio on Monday night caught me slightly off-guard. Luckily, I had found a dress on Black Friday, but I had even settled on that. Maybe I was being picky, but none of the holiday dresses I saw throughout my search really stole my heart. So, I selected a traditional red velour dress. Of course after I found the dress, I couldn't find anything for Ella's hair. So, on Monday night after the piano was delivered and Ella was tucked into bed, I ventured to Target to look for hair bows, only to discover that their holiday hair display rack was completely empty and I a bit baffled. Rather than get too frustrated, I reminded myself that Target is a big store and I am a creative individual. Surely, I could find something to substitute as a hair decor piece. I cruised through the accessories section, the beauty aisles, the Christmas home decor section, and settled on some ribbon and a Christmas stretchy bracelet. As I handed the clerk my discoveries, I proudly thought to myself I will make my own holiday hair bows for these pictures.

Fast forward to Tuesday night. I leave work early to get Ella, so we will have ample time to get ready. I feel prepared and am optimistic that we can remain on schedule and on task. The first clue the night wasn't going to go as I had hoped was Ella wasn't in her classroom, but rather the playground. I make it down there to find a girl with chaffed checks and a runny nose. I encouraged her to quickly walk up the stairs or let mommy carry her, and she reminded me that she sets the pace not me. One lesson that I've learned is it's easier to match her slower pace then try to force her into my pace because eventually it will cause a major meltdown and then we are no further ahead and both of us are even more frustrated. Miss Independent also wouldn't let me help her in the car. She wanted to shimmy into the back seat and plop herself in the car seat. We finally pulled off the postal dock a 1/2 hour later from when I first arrived. Luckily, the traffic gods were shining down on me and I used our quick drive home to prepare Ella for the night and wearing her pretty dress.

We arrived home at 5 pm, giving us 40 minutes to get her ready. I let her bang on the piano as I gathered the tights, hair bands, shoes and dress. Without too much of a battle, I was able to get her dressed. Her hair was another story. She refused to sit still. I finally bribed her with a snack. I worked fast and the end result was perfect. I told myself to quickly throw her in the car seat and get to Target because somehow it was 5:35. I turned to grab my bag only to turn around and discover Ella attempting a somersault. In my head I'm screaming NO!!! in slow motion. I quickly composed myself before uttering any words and just encouraged Ella to go downstairs, so we could get in the car. I dug out the lint brush because even though I had vacuumed the night before, Ella's dress managed to attract a healthy quantity of Yoshi's hair. We make it down the steps when she spots her stocking cap on the rocker by the door. She says to me, "I wear it." I encourage her to let her baby doll wear it, which she insisted we bring along. She grudgingly obliges me, but then says, "It don't fit" as we walk into the garage.

I open the car door and throw my bag on the passenger seat. I turn around to find that Ella has pulled on her cap, so that it completely is covering her eyes. The same cap the girl refuses to wear any other day. I can't help but laugh and realize that I have lost the battle and her hair, while for a moment was perfect, it just wasn't meant to be. I also realize I never completed the improvised hair bows, so much for my good intentions.

We arrived at Target and shockingly they were ready for us at our scheduled time. The lady graciously gave me a few seconds to roll the lint brush over her dress and adjust her hair. I couldn't recreate my earlier masterpiece, so I settled for slightly lopsided pigtails with stray hairs falling out. For all that had transpired, Ella was in fairly good spirits, which all changed once the photographer attempted to position her. She tried props, including fake ceramic cookies that Ella attempted to eat and and a gift box with over sized ornaments inside. Ella was frustrated that the prop cookies were fake, so again as a bribe to encourage her participation in the pictures, I told Ella that she could have a cookie after her session. The lady was continually snapping pictures, but I knew Ella was positioned awkwardly and the photographer was playing nice to appease me. In fleeting moments, Ella would flash her beaming smile, but for the most part she wore a stoic look.

Being the good sport I am, I offered to sit with Ella for few pictures hoping that would increase her comfort level. Ella only wanted to sit in my lap and after a few minutes just laid her head down on me. I thanked the lady for her understanding and knew it was best to just call it a night. I think the photographer sensed my disappointment and defeat and said to give her 15 minutes and we would go over what she captured. When I told her the ordeal was over, Ella reminded me I had promised her a cookie, so we were off in search of another treat for the night.

I called Mike to inform him of the debacle. He reassured me that we probably had one good one in the whole batch. I wasn't feeling as optimistic. We ventured back to the studio after Ella settled on a miniature cupcake as her reward. I was shown the slide show and was a bit taken back. They were not jaw dropping good, but from what I had anticipated, I was surprisingly pleased. Of course, the best ones were ones that they enhanced by either cropping or dumping on specialty paper, which meant they were more expensive that the standard sheet. How my night had gone, should I have expected anything less. While she wasn't posed just right or her dress was gathered oddly, they actually captured Ella's sweet smile and her glowing personality. How could I not purchase them? After spending a lot more than I had planned, Ella and I ventured for home not before I picked up some Mickey D's for dinner. Proper nutrition was definitely not achieved last night, but I didn't have the energy to do much more than pull through a drive-thru.

The pictures won't be in for a few weeks. I hope they don't disappoint. Regardless if they do, I am just happy that she and I survived another adventure together, and now I realize why we neglected to have any professional pictures taken since last Christmas.

Monday, November 26, 2007

An old friend returns

Pearly whites
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment. This piano has resided in my Grandma Davis' house for nearly as long as I can remember being able to see. Its served many a purpose for all those many years in her home, be it a piano, an extra place to sit, a make-shift buffet table, a time waster, a good way to annoy the parents, etc. But, time took its toll on its tuning and Grandma decided that it was time to purchase a newer one. So this ole girl went to storage for a while.

But after some help from Aunt Suzanne and some hard work by some tuners, its back into good shape, and thankfully, its now in our home in Shawnee. It really means a lot to me to have something as special as this from my Grandma's house now to be in our home.

I look forward to the day when I can see Ella and Amanda sitting together on it playing and sharing some special time with music. Maybe dad can even help on guitar!

Thanks Grandma and Aunt Suzanne for thinking of us!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Indoor Water Fun

I am sitting in a darkened hotel room with my snoring child on the floor next to my bed. My husband, after my urging, is cozied up to a bar watching the KU/MU game. It's been a good day. Mike, Ella, grandma, grandpa and I met up with a small group of the McManigal clan to enjoy CoCo Key Water Resort in Omaha. The McManigal's used to gather every Saturday after Thanksgiving at my aunt's house in Omaha, but she went and moved to California, so we were stuck without a home. While I wished we would have had greater participation from the family, we have certainly enjoyed our day.

I didn't dare mention the word "swimming" to Ella until we had safely arrived at at the hotel. Really, rather than tell her, we walked into the water park after we checked in. She had slept the entire trip to Omaha, so she was still in a groggy state. Although, it didn't take long for her to soak in her location. Before long, she was asking to put on her swim suit. The girl literally swam all day, and much like time spent at our neighborhood outdoor pool, she preferred the big kid area to the kiddie pool. She made multiple laps with dad around the lazy river. They were quite the pair. Every time, she floated past me, she would yell, "I swimming, mommy." The girl beamed nothing but pride and excitement. She also raced daddy on the side-by-side slides.

My only complaint about the experience was how cold the air and water was around the kiddie pool. Even though, we weren't there for any real significant amount of time, it wasn't very comfortable when we were there. Ella's lips turned a shade of blue that I have never seen before. We frequently had to pull her away from the fun to warm her up.

As a family, we capped off the evening by enjoying a potluck feast. Everyone piled into one hotel room to enjoy some tasty food. Ella relished the role of family entertainer. Even though, she hasn't seen most of this family since last Thanksgiving, it didn't take long for her to warm up to everyone there. It was a quick day, and tomorrow we venture home. I hate saying goodbye, but I am ready to be home and back in our standard routine. Ella has been extremely difficult at bedtime during this trip. With tonight as the exception, each night at grandma's house was a battle and took at least 2 1/2 hours every time. It has been exhausting, all the more reason I am so thankful and relieved that she is currently asleep. I guess I should join her in dreamland.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Working Slave

My poor husband is still at work. Yes, it's 10:45 pm and he has been there since 8 am for a staff meeting. The project has him frustrated, mad and exhausted. The reason is because he loves me. Well that, and he has a gob of work to do that he needs to have finished, hopefully enabling us to hit the road early tomorrow. So my wonderful husband is busting his rear because he knows how much this holiday means to me and how I don't want anything including his work and the weather to interfere with my plans. I can't say it enough -- he is such a good husband.

If all goes well, we will be on the road tomorrow before any bad weather hits and we will arrive at a respectable time at my mom's house. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I am really excited about our plans this year. We will be celebrating the day with my family and all my brothers and their spouses/significant others. I am not sure the last time my brothers and I were all around the same table at the same time for a meal. A Normal Rockwell picture it won't be, but it will be full of energy, debates and loving insults. I can't wait.

I imagine after we've stuffed ourselves with my mom's tasty cooking that we will plot our tactical approach for Black Friday -- another highlight of the Thanksgiving holiday. It is the only day I relish in the craziness of the shopping season. After we spend Friday afternoon and evening recovering, we'll awake Saturday and head to Omaha for an extended McManigal gathering. Can I just say I love this holiday and I didn't even mention the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Think Healthy, Not Colors

Most of our family and friends know that Mike and I are adding to our family. Baby #2 is expected to make an entrance by April 1st if not sooner. Mike and I are excited, but a little unsure how we'll go from a family of three to a family of four. I guess I should stop singing "three's a magic number" to Ella. This might interfere with her willingness to accept the new baby!

While the pregnancy has been different from Ella (love my crazy blood, which is another post for another day), the overwhelming speculation is we're having another girl -- high heart rate, how I'm carrying, our gut instinct, etc.

One misconception that I need to address is Mike and I are not pulling for a boy. We're not pulling for a girl. We truly don't care what we are blessed with. I have been a bit taken back by the assumption that because we have a girl that we automatically want a boy. Again, we don't. I realize others are pulling for one sex over another, but as Mike said to me, "Hey you'll get what we get and you'll like it!!"

Mike is not a king (yes, he's my personal prince but that's losing sight of my argument) and I am not a vessel to provide him an heir. If I am never the mother of a boy, my life will not go unfulfilled. I am excited that I have the opportunity to be a mom to another precious child. Parenting this second one will be completely different regardless of sex because even if it is a girl, it's not like she will be a duplication of Ella. She will have her own personality. She will have her own likes and desires. She will have parents who hopefully are a bit more relaxed, and she will have a big sister. Her environment naturally will be different from the world that Ella was welcomed into.

One other thing, if this baby is a girl, don't make the assumption that we'll have three kids. Mike and I have never said we will have x number of kids in x years and before we are both x age, and we want them to be a particular sex. We only decided we wanted kids. Never did we set a target goal. We told each other that we would start with one and evaluate any decision to have another once we had reassessed our current journey through life. I will admit as of today I am at peace with only having two.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Leaves, leaves and even more leaves along with a visit from P and a sweet request

All smiles in the leaves
Originally uploaded by mbowling
It was a long day, but Mikey survived. He is sporting a war wound, a massive blister in the crook of his hand. Ella and I helped when we could or I helped when Ella would let me. It seemed promising at first as Ella was interested in filling the lawn bags, but that lasted only a few microseconds before she realized it was much more fun to run through piles or toss leaves. Even then the old standby's of chalk, buggy rides and cars quickly won out over the excitement of dead leaves, so we left Mikey to have all the fun. I did manage to take care of the front yard while Ella napped, a small perk for Mike who slaved away in the backyard for the entire day or at least from sun up to sun down.

Ella had the pleasure of enjoying Payton's company last night for an overnight. The rule that the sum is greater than its parts is so true when those two wacky and crazy girls get together. They are so rambunctious. While their energy can be draining at times, I love listening to the laughter and squeals of happiness as they chase each other around the house. Ella was a bit lethargic this morning since a cough woke her up around 6 am. Once Payton popped her head in our room at 7 am, Ella was a bright, happy girl, no indication of a restless night battling a cough.

Ella stole my heart last night with a request. I was finishing up our last bedtime story, when Mike came in to give Ella a goodnight kiss and hug, which she happily accepted. Before I lay her in the crib each evening, Ella gives me a final hug and a kiss. Mike was still in the room as Ella and I stood next to the crib. She gave us each another hug and kiss on request, and then mumbled something. I wasn't sure what she said, and Mike said, "Family hug. She wants a family hug." It was the sweetest embrace. I swear my heart literally sang. The girl knows how to get to me. What a sweet, sweet moment.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It was a suite night

Mike and I had quite the Friday night. T2 was given a suite to one of the nine Garth Brooks concerts at the new Sprint Center. They had done quite a bit of work for the arena. Since the concert didn't generate enough interest from T2 employees (not a huge country or mainstream crowd), an invite was extended to some of the spouses.

I am not nor have I ever been a huge Garth fan, although I do know quite a few of his songs. I had heard he was a genuine entertainer and puts on a great show. Who wouldn't enjoy seeing a musical legend performing from the comforts of a suite stocked with food and beverages?

I had a great time. What impressed me about his was his shear energy level. He gave the crowd everything he had and he left nothing behind. He performed for more than 2 hours and hit all the fan favorites. He seemed so humbled by the crowd's love and appreciation. Mike really should be posting about the concert. He was so cute and giddy with excitement. He actually had seen Garth perform at Kemper the last night time he rolled through town, and was definitely one of the bigger fans in the suite. It definitely was a good date night, and a night we couldn't have enjoyed if Larry & Glenda wouldn't have been able to babysit on such short notice. i didn't know I had a ticket until late Wednesday afternoon. A big thanks to them, and to Mike's boss for offering me a ticket.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

They are waiting....

Oh lordy. Here it comes. The day I absolutely dread. Do you know what is hiding under all that?

Our backyard.

365 days a year. The ONE day stands out for the most unpleasant experience of gathering up all of these leaves and either bagging them up, or trekking them all the way down to the bank of the small river that is just off in the distance. The last few years have each been something different:

2003 I loaded them all up on to a big tarp and pulled them to the river bank.
2004 I bagged them all up. Final tally: 35 bags of leaves. And one very sore body. 2005 Amanda's Mom gave me a leaf blower/vacuum which worked pretty well, but it was a lot of stop and go throughout the day. It did cut the bags down to about 18 bags, so that part was nice.
2006, Well, lets just say that I was bad. I let them hang out through out the entire winter and by the time the wind and snow all it its way with the leaves, there was only about a couple of bags to take care of in the late winter/early spring. But I did feel bad because the leaves were all in my backyard neighbors fence, so this year, its back to picking them up in November.

2007, well, I think I'm going old school and just piling them all up on the tarp and hauling them down to the river. Seems to work pretty well, nobody has any problem with it, and the leaves decompose nicely during the winter and don't cause any hazard. I think the neighbors don't complain because they feel sorry for me. :)

Hopefully this year Ella will be able to help me and make for some fun family time and pictures. I'm sure she's going to want to jump in a few piles!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jacket No Longer Ella's Friend

At one point, I expressed concern that Ella was using her jacket as a security blanket. Oh, those days are so behind us. Now, she despises her coat. She refuses to put it on. It's a battle each and every time. Tonight when I was picking her up, I grabbed her coat from her cubbie as I walked over to her, and instantly she tried to push it out of my hands and just cried out, "Momma no." Her cry of "Momma no" wasn't a defiant no, but more that she truly hated the coat and a plea not to force her into it. My heart was breaking.

I showed her that I was wearing my jacket, so she needed to do the same. That didn't work. I told her it was cold outside and the coat keeps her warm. That didn't work. I said if she wanted to leave that the coat had to go on. That didn't work. During all of this, all she would beg and plead with me not to wear it. Her teacher told her if Ella wouldn't wear it, then she would. Tanya stuffed one arm in the jacket and Ella cautiously laughed. I tried to be patient, but she was standing her ground and was blatantly refusing to cooperate. I thought about cutting my losses, grabbing her and letting her walk without wearing her coat. The weather was cool not cold this afternoon, so it wasn't like I would be exposing my kid to extreme elements. I also realized that if I gave in this time then I was setting a poor precedent because I knew Mike had fought the same battle this morning and Ella left the house with the jacket securely on.

I crouched down knowing my daughter would have an extreme dislike of me, at least for the short term. I quickly threw an arm in each sleeve all while Ella was sobbing. I didn't bother to zip the jacket. I grabbed Ella and headed for the car. I was no more than three steps out of her classroom when she spotted the drinking fountain and asked to have a drink. The tears stopped and Ella and I took turns at the fountain. I then spotted the bathroom and quickly remembered my bladder was full. Ella and I ducked quickly into the bathroom, only for Ella to rip the jacket from her body the instance I was indisposed. So I had the great fortune to replay the entire jacket saga once more.

I was thrilled once we were actually making our way to the car. Ella was still upset but the tears had slowed to a trickle. I was ready to just head home. One problem, Ella refused to be strapped in the car seat, much less even sit in it. I felt so defeated and tired, but summoned enough energy to quickly win that round. My reward was listening to my kid whine and cry the entire drive home. She stopped long enough to point out an ultralight in the sky. Of course, she called it a helicopter, but it did give me a break from the tears for a few moments and once it disappeared into the night, the crying resumed. I was so thankful to pull into the driveway, so I could free that kid from cage.

I guess this behavior is what people mean as the "terrible twos." As trying as tonight was, I must say part of me enjoys watching the little miss "I do it" develop her independence.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Not So Happy Ella

My sweet little girl is sick. She threw up 3x yesterday, including overnight. It was not a pretty site when I went it to get her out of bed at 9 am. I thought it was a bit strange that she was still asleep that late, but it had been a busy week and she had gone to bed later than normal for most of the week. I thought she was just catching up.

When I opened her door, the horrible smell was my first indication that all was not well with Ella. I'll spare you the gritty details, but I had no idea vomit could get so matted in hair. It was everywhere in the crib, on Lola (sorry S&T -- I'm not sure if she can be saved), even on the floor. Mike quickly disposed of the soiled pjs and bedding, and Ella just stayed in my arms. She had no interest in anything but snuggling with mom, which I loved. I only wish she wasn't feeling so icky. I tried to convince her to get in the tub, but she wasn't ready. She wanted to stay on the couch. She asked for some milk and water, which we willingly gave her. The problem was it resurfaced about 10 minutes later. Another round of cleaning and moving locations. We finally got Ella completely cleaned up, including the hair, and dressed. We relocated to the downstairs couch and turned on a little bear, and again before long what liquids she had drank reappeared. The poor thing was just miserable. She alternated most of the morning between mom and dad.

After her nap, her spirits seemed better. She never ran a fever, but she was not interested in eating or drinking. She would take a few swigs now and then. She finally ate some crackers late afternoon and luckily those stayed down. Ella did end up crashing for good at 7:30, which is so early for her, and I can report she's still asleep, which considering the time change is the longest stretch ever for this girl. Mike and I have gone in periodically to check on her. Luckily, the sheets are clean. I am worried about her, but I figure sleep is what she needs right now.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy little bee

Happy little bee
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Our favorite month and Mikey's favorite holiday is quickly coming to an end. Trick or treating was a huge success in Ella's book. I never intended to hit so many houses. I thought Ella and I would just be tagging along with Payton. I never imagined she would want to climb all the steps to the front doors. Oh, I was SO wrong. I don't think she realizes exactly what's in her possession. For her at this age, it isn't about the candy. It is more about being given something, anything, to put in her bag. it also was about the sights and sounds of the night. Her pace was slower than normal because she loved seeing the other kids dressed up and all the Halloween decorations.

She did decide she had enough walking and asked for mommy to carry her when we were just getting ready to head home. Of course, we were the furthest from the house that we had been all night. Payton too decided she was done as her sparkly shoes were killing her feet. We made it back in time to see the birthday boy, Pirate Luke and his sweet parents who stopped in their old neighborhood for a visit. After Rene and the good witch left, we went over to see the Comers. Aaron and Carter were the coolest super heros that we saw all night.

It was a lot of fun and my homemade antenna lasted throughout the night, so I was pleased. I guess I was just happy that Ella wore them. We have more candy than what we did when we started. I'll have to post a picture of our stash. It's a bit excessive. Can we ship some to anyone? We got lots of good stuff! Any ideas on what to do with it all. Eating it is not an option.

Happy Halloween!

The little bumble bee
Originally uploaded by mbowling
The little bumble bee wanted to wish everyone Happy Halloween. She's already had the opportunity to wear her costume three times -- Boo at the Zoo (from where this photo was taken), trick-or-treating at mommy's work, and then this morning she's doing a tour of the federal building. Of course, she'll have it on again tonight as we roam the neighborhood with Payton. Well, that is if she'll put it on. She visted her grandparents last night and she refused to wear it, no matter how hard we coaxed her. Look for more photos in the upcoming days!

Happy Halloween and Happy Birthday to Kim and Luke -- two of our favorite goblins!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bunnies, pumpkins and a road trip

Sweetness and Softness
Originally uploaded by mbowling
We are back from a whirlwind trip to Sioux City. Since our plans to visit a pumpkin patch in the KC area were washed out with stormy weather, my mom found one in northwest Iowa for us to visit. Pumpkinland was a quaint pumpkin farm complete with a munchkin corn maze and petting zoo. Ella’s favorite area had to be the bunny bin. She loved holding them and chasing them as they tried to hop away. A few times, they ended up upside down, but they were the best behaved little bunnies. Mike captured the sweetest photos of the adventure, some of which are posted to flickr.

Ella also got to see llamas, goats, a pony, chickens, kittens and a puppy before we dragged her through the munchkin corn maze. I tried desperately to get Ella to pose on some hay bales for some fun fall photos, but the child was not willing to cooperate. She was more interested in pushing a miniature wheelbarrow through the pumpkin stand and filling it with miniature pumpkins and small gourds. The promise of pumpkin sugar cookies was finally what lured the little one away from the stand.

Our other adventure was having Ella sit through church rather than stashing her away in the nursery. She actually did quite well. She kept herself fairly entertained with paper and pencils, and her books. She seemed aware of the service because after the reading of the scripture, prayers or songs, Ella would clap her hands and say “yea.” It was a little embarrassing, but was positively adorable.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Front View of New Do

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Here's a pic with me sporting shorter hair. It doesn't look that much shorter in this picture, but trust me it's short. I didn't like any of the pictures that Mike took of my hair, so I'm posting one from our night out to celebrate Shelly's return to KC from Austin, even if it only was for a weekend. Of course, Shel isn't in this pic and I'm sure Karissa and Angela will love that I've blasted their photo on their internet, but my audience is so small that I think they're safe.

Back View of Hair

Back View of Hair
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Blogger wasn't playing nice, so I uploaded this to Flickr, but here's the back of the hair do. It's shorter in the back that the front. I haven't been this short in a long time, but I must say I love how fast it dries as I have a LOT of hair.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rain, Rain, Rain

Rain. Rain, Go Away
Come back another day

Seriously, it wasn't suppose to be raining this morning. We had big outdoor plans to hit the pumpkin patch today. Somehow picking pumpkins in the pouring rain isn't how I envisioned our trip. Let's hope the rain does stop, so we can squeeze a trip in. Oh wait, then there's mud to contend with, but mud and sunshine is more desirable than rain and mud. Truly, this is our only weekend day we can go before Halloween. Ugh! Rain, please stop.

Switching to Ella news, we have a little singer on our hands. Her favorite song is the "Wheels on the Bus," which shamelessly I didn't know all the words and motions to at first. After finding them online, we've started singing it with her. She really enjoys all the moves, especially the "move on back." The cutest part is when she joins in at "All around the town." She jumps in early with "All" and she'll hold it until you catch up with her. It's so precious. I have to get that on videotape. (Hint Hint -- Mr. Michael).

And photos of the new hairdo to come. I just need to pull them off the camera. After one week, I have to say, I'm still so happy with it.

Mike says he needs a cup of coffee before he'll drag himself out of bed. I can't blame him. Laying leisurely in bed on a rainy morning is one of our favorite ways to waste time, but the piles of laundry are beckoning me out of bed. So I'm off to start coffee and the washing machine.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Random Thoughts

I'm tired. I should be in bed, but I haven't blogged in awhile, so I thought it was time to do so. So here are a bunch of random thoughts running through my head tonight. First, I got a haircut, actually a better description would be I chopped my hair. Six inches at least gone from my head. I desperately needed a change. I didn't go to my appointment with the plan to do something that drastic, my hair stylist had to push me. She not so gently reminded me that I've been talking about cutting my hair for a year, and it's just hair, so basically get over myself and take a risk. I'm so happy and those that know me know I rarely leave a hair appointment happy. Mike, of course, was shocked but was beaming when I walked in. He is one of the few guys that I know that finds shorter hair sexier than long hair. At various times during the weekend, he would turn to me and give me the nicest compliments. It was so sweet. I'll have to see if I can take a cute picture and post it.

My family room is nearly back to normal. We still are figuring out where a few of the wall items will go, but the baseboards are on and they look good. I love, love the colors on the walls. My hubby did good. So, it's now on to the next project -- new sills for the bedrooms above the garage. After that, I would love to start on the basement -- adding another bathroom and adding a playroom, or I would love to be shopping for new flooring on the main level, but those are strictly pipe dreams at this point.

Ella is just as adorable and precious as ever. Mike and she spent a few hours at Deanna Rose yesterday because Ella's daycare was closed, and they needed some precious daddy and daughter time. When I got home from work, Ella told me all about the animals she saw. Her vocabulary is exploding lately -- I love hearing her say broccoli, poopie, hand (as in hold my hand), thank you and love you. I sneezed tonight while reading our bedtime stories and she said, "bless you." It about melted my heart.

Never take two kids to PowerPlay by yourself. I learned this lesson the tough way. It was exhausting and overwhelming. I swear my head needed to be on swivel stick as it would have helped me keep better track of two kids completely over stimulated. I decided to take the girls to not only give Mike some time to finish his work in the family room but also because they were so helpful when I pulled out the Halloween decorations. They almost fought over who could help me dust. It was too precious. When I first gave Payton a paper towel, Ella came over to me and said, "Mommy, Ella towel." I loved the help. I would clear off the decor items and spray the pledge and then Payton and Ella would take turns wiping down the furniture. Payton had so much fun that she was pointing out potential items that she could dust. Now, if they would learn how to vacuum and scrub floors and toilets, I would have it made.

That's enough of my random rumblings for tonight. I told myself I was going to bed early tonight. Well, it was nice in theory.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Paint, Cars Go Fast and Plugged Back In!

Holy cow, what a crazy couple of weeks.

Two weekends ago, I painted half the walls on the main floors in the house. And last weekend I had the pleasure of NEXTEL cup racing all weekend. Its been both busy and satisfying. And of course I need to blog all about it, but it takes me forever to write a blog and Amanda is going to hit me over the head here soon if I don't! :)

First, painting--I took off a Friday and Monday and painted both the family room, the tall wall with the window that was connected to the family room, the big feature wall next to the dining room and the hallway. It took all 4 days. I was so wiped out by the end of all it. But I have to say that it really looks nice and I'm happy with my painting skills. I finally learned the fact that if you pull the tape off and it pulls some paint with it, you can always go back and use some touchup paint to take care of it! Next little project is finally, and I do mean FINALLY, putting new baseboards back in the living room. You really don't want to know how long they haven't been there.

Last weekend was NASCAR's stop in at Kansas Speedway. Scott (Amanda's brother and a rabid Tony Stewart fan) and his girlfriend Holly, and her parents made the trip down in Holly's parents' RV. We got out to the track about 8:45 both mornings and really enjoyed ourselves. The NASCAR experience on race day really is like no other. Each driver literally has their own merchandise trailer outside the track. There is plenty of other things outside the track as well. You don't have to pay for parking so you could just pull into the track, go see all the sights and sounds from the outside and still have a great day, even without tickets. One of the craziest things your can do at a NASCAR track--you can bring in your own beer, provided it was in a small softside cooler! We all brought in enough beer to last the entire race and didn't spend a dime at the concession stands. It was great. The Busch race was great on Saturday, and Sunday was probably the oddest finish to a race I had ever seen. I'd write a post about it, but if you really want to know what happened you can look it up on It was a long day, to say the least. So thank you Amanda and Ella for letting me have a wonderful Father's Day present. I am sooo thankful to have such a loving wife and daughter! It was really an awesome time, and I can't thank them enough. They sure make it easy to love them.

And finally wrapping up--we have cable TV again. Sort of. We have the "lifeline basic" cable from Time Warner Cable. Its essentially channels 2-18. Nothing special, we just couldn't take the rabbit ears anymore. It was just wayyyy too frustrating. So we spend about $11 a month. I think its going to be worth it.

Sounds like Ella is stirring so I better go get her up!

I'll post some pictures here soon.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Social Butterfly

Socially, it's been a busy week. Tuesday was my first attendance at my church's preschool mom group. Wednesday was girl's night out with my wonderful college friends and tonight our good friends the Comers came over for tacos. I needed this week. It's so comforting to be surrounded by people who can understand and empathize with you without any judgment. (It's not that I have a bad life, quite the opposite actually, I think my life is pretty good.) But it's important to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are just there to listen, laugh and promise they'll continue to be there for the crazy journey.

As a working parent with a young child, there certainly isn't nearly enough days in a week to spend quality time with my friends. Luckily, I am blessed with great friends who are living a parallel life, where no apologizes are needed. We all wish for more time and a less hectic life, but we'll settle for a leisurely dinner every few months or so. I also recognize I couldn't have been a social butterfly this week if it wasn't for my loving husband who graciously handled Ella for two nights in a row, so I could have some "Amanda" time. So thank you sweets. I think you're the best. Love you!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ella's First Rock Concert, Complete with a Kiddie Mosh Pit

My First Mosh Pit
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Oh, what a night...Ella had the joy of experiencing her first concert. Although, I'm not sure Trout Fishing in America or Mr. Stinky Feet qualify as rock bands. Everest, our phone/internet provider, had a free family fun night at Shawnee Mission Park, complete with a concert, moonwalks (unfortunately ella was too little for all of them and the lines were horrendously long!), balloon animals and Chiefs cheerleaders.

My girl has some serious dance moves (which she so doesn't get from either of her parents). She darted to the front of the stage and charged her way into the mosh pit to strut her stuff. Okay, maybe all she did was bop her head and spin around, but she was by far the youngest one in the pit. I didn't capture any fabulous pictures while she was dancing away. I was so focused on watching her and jockey positions with other moms trying to keep their eyes on their little ones. We didn't quite make it to the end of the show as our dancing queen morphed into crabby kid before ending the evening as sleeping beauty. Overall, a great way to kick off the weekend.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What happens with no parental supervision

Never leave your 19-month-old alone for too long or this is what you might find. Ella loves to spend time flipping through her books while I prepare dinner or do some late night pick-up. I thought this day she was keeping herself entertained with her books. I realized though I wasn't hearing books drop to the ground periodically. So I ventured up to check on her, and this is what I've found. I had a good laugh and then grabbed the camera. As you can tell, Ella was quite proud of her mess. Lesson learned: if it's too quiet then trouble is brewing.

It was a very busy weekend. We kicked it off with the Light the Night walk. Great event. Ella enjoyed a bounce house for kids just her age and her and mom shared a bomb pop before the start of the walk. We finally convinced her to ride in the wagon about 1/2 through the family loop.

We then were up early Saturday to do a one-day trip to the Omaha zoo, where we met up with my mom, my brother Justin and my SIL Brandi. We had a great time. I just love that zoo. It did my heart good to see my brother. It had been since May, and I needed some good Justin time. I've posted a few pictures from our trip. I'm just hoping my mom has better ones to share with us. I'm tired or I would say more about the trip. Perhaps another time. My dreams await -- perhaps I'll have a party in my dreams tonight.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Parenting tips in the wild

For some reason, some of the funniest moments for Amanda and I when we parent always seem to come back to poop. More on that in a moment.

This Sunday night Amanda, Ella and I decided to go take the long walk down to the park back behind our house. Its a good 15 minute walk at big-people pace. But when you have a toddler in tow (or vice versa) you timing may vary. And believe me, ours did. Every 100 feet or so, Ella walked, then go to Amanda, "Mommy carry...(me)" So Amanda would pick her up, take 4 step.."down....DOWN..." So another 100 feet, "Daddy carry?" 4 steps. "Down, DOWN!" and so it continues the walk with a 18-month old.

So we finally made it to our destination after a half hour or so. There's a nice playground with a couple of slides and Ella had her run of the place. 15 minutes of sliding and swinging and what not later, Ella is standing at the top of the steps and isn't doing anything. Until she starts bending her knees slightly and grunting. Well, we all know what THAT is don't we? And who's the parents went on a walk without a diaper bag? (hand raised) Amanda and I look and each other, take a look in the diaper, and yep, nice shiny and smelly looking right at us.

So. We take a look around. Well, we could change her with no one around, but that's quite a bit of work without a new diaper. But there was a trash can in the park, and we could pull the back of Ella's diaper back far enough, so we hauled her over to the trash can (please don't do this at home, or take it for GOOD parenting advice) and turned Ella upside down, pulled the back of the diaper and out dropped the poop! Thankfully it didn't catch her back or anything else but the trash can. Ella thought it was funny, so thank god she didn't think her parents were trying to throw her away.

Friday, September 07, 2007

How I spent my 32nd Birthday...

Crazy Ball Girls
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Where else but Tunnel Voyage and I couldn't think of a better way to spend the night. We were there to celebrate Payton's 5th birthday -- the fact that she's 5 completely blows me away. (I witnessed her entrance into the world, how could that be five years ago?!)

Back to tonight, Ella couldn't absorb the experience tonight fast enough. I just enjoyed watching her having a ball, as usually she thought she belonged in the big kid area. Luckily, it was fairly quiet, so there were no worries of her being overrun by big kids. Definitely a fun night, but I'm exhausted. I'm heading to bed, and I guess I'm ready to turn the page and start another year of my 30s.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wanna Order Some Cookies

I am shameless posting this on the blog. I justify it by saying it's for Ella. Her daycare is once again selling cookie dough to raise money for education materials and playground equipment. Each box contains 48 chunks of delicious frozen dough ready for the oven, and each box is $14. The great thing about these cookies is you can decide how many you want to bake, so if you have a craving for a cookie and only want to bake a few, you don't have to whip up a whole batch and clean your kitchen. We sold this same line last year and they were mighty tasty!

The flavors for this year are chocolate chunk, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, sugar, white chunk macadamia, chocolate chip, double chocolate brownie, M&M, snickerdoodle, heath toffee, chocolate chunk pecan, chocolate mint, lemon cooler and peanut butter cup.

We need to turn in order forms and money on Wednesday, Sept. 19. If you are interested, it would be much appreciated. Checks can be made payable to Corporate Kids.

If you aren't interested in buying cookies, Mike and I are raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light the Night walk. We've both fallen behind on fundraising. If you would rather support that, let us know and we'll give you the link to our team fundraising page.

Thanks for reading and supporting us.

Monday, September 03, 2007

What a long strange weekend it has been.

Well, I'm back home after a whirlwind 30 hour trip to Chicago.

You know one time Amanda did a day trip to Chicago for work a few years back. She was so exhausted. If its anything like what I'm feeling today, I'm sure it was 10 times worse.

Anyway, it was a good trip overall. Scott, Tricia and I had a good time flying together. I got the biggest laugh out of Tricia when the our plane bound for Chicago started headed down the KCI runway and just as the wheels picked up off the ground, I shot her a look of terror and said "Holy shit, this thing FLIES??".

55 minutes later, those same wheels hit the Chicago tarmac and off we were to hit Portillo's Hot Dogs south of Midway airport. By the way we were cruising in our pimped out Chrysler 300--free upgrade, woo! Tricia was in heaven reliving some of her Chicago days while were driving around the area. Portillo's was great. I think I still have the gut rot from it.

We took the 40 minute drive out to west Chicago to meet up with the fam who were all eating at Chili's for lunch. It was good to see everybody, but it sure made me miss my wife and daughter. By the way if you aren't up to speed on why they weren't with me, then track me down online some time. Not enough time for me to explain it all here. But yes, all of my other family was with me except them. It just wasn't right and I didn't feel like a "whole" person the entire trip.

After crashing for 3 hours or so in the hotel we got all dollied up and headed to the wedding. It was nice--the DJ really had no idea how to handle an outdoor ceremony, though. I saw Curtis shoot him this look like "what the HELL are you doing?" It was really a touching moment. It was a touch hot in a suit, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was nice to see the family all dressed up (for a change).

The reception was a good time--great food for sure--filet migon and other great things were on the menu. Filled us up and there was a very stocked open bar! So you know all the cousins had a good time on Curtis' father in law's dime. :) It really was great to have all of us sitting around the table, but we all knew that there were 2 very important people busy having a lonely Sonic dinner all the way back in KC. Made it back to the hotel about midnight, said goodbye and good travels to Mom and Dad since they were headed on for their 2 month vacation/retirement/spending Mike and Scott inheritance trip. I'd post a link to their newly christened blog, but I haven't gotten the go ahead yet. Sorry folks.

5:15 came EARLY this morning, but we were ready to get back home. A 40 minute drive, 30 minute breakfast, 1 hour flight, 1 hour drive home and I was back in the arms of my girls at 11:00 am. Mikey was and is happy. Even more so after 2 and a half hour nap today too.

Friday night feels like it was eons ago.

Good niii........snnnnzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Haircut by Mom

I had to cut Ella's hair. It wasn't an official haircut, but the poor thing had a snarl that I couldn't comb out. She actually cried out in pain as I was combing it. So I figured that I would cut (pun intended) my losses and grab the scissors. Knowing that toddlers don't sit still, I was terrified as I approached her with a weapon in my hand. Of course in typically toddler fashion, she was fascinated with them and fussed a bit when I wouldn't give them to her. The loss of hair was minor -- that is this time.

I'm dreading the day when she decides to take the scissors to her hair herself. I've never known for that to create a good outcome. My first black market haircut occurred at the age of five when my 6-year old best friend Susie and I decided to play beauty salon underneath her parent's dining room table. We were caught just before it was my turn to shred her luxurious, shiny black hair. Of course, my hair was already butchered and I had the privilege of donning the "bowl cut" better known as the Dorothy Hamil haircut until my hair grew. A good eight years had passed before I thought it wise to give myself a haircut again. Upon examining my reflection in the mirror, I decided my bangs were too long. Of course, I couldn't wait for a hair appointment, so I chopped them off. I think the end result gave me bangs that might have measured maybe a 1/2 inch when wet. It was not a good look. Luckily for me, my hair has always grown fast. It is still to be seen if that's the case with Ella. Let's hope or better yet let's hope she never discovers the horrors of self-inflicted haircuts.

Mike is back home. Even though he was only gone for maybe 30 hours, it is always good to have him home. Ella and I capped off the last weekend of summer with our longest trip yet to the pool. Pictures of the fish to come later. The camera needs a new battery. She showed off a new skill of jumping off the side of the pool. It's crazy how much her skills around the water have advanced this summer. Oh, I'm so sad that it is now closed and summer is coming to an official end.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Mike is currently in the air. He had an early morning flight to Chicago for his cousin Curtis' wedding. Ella and I are hanging out together today. She's currently enjoying a late breakfast because she slept until 8:30. I think her day at the zoo yesterday was a bit tiring. How I wish I could have slept in that late. Instead, I couldn't fall back asleep after Mike's alarm started blasting around 5:30. Oh well, I did lay in a bed a bit before getting up to do some yoga.

We'll miss Mike, but we hope he has a great time. I'm not sure how Ella and I will spend the day. It seems everyone of our play buddies is out of town. We may explore a new park or maybe a trip to the pool for one last dip. It will depend on how late our nap goes.

Well, Ella spotted her outside swing from her chair, so we're on the fast track to get cleaned up and get outside.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Time on Grandpa's Boat

Mommy, can we never go back?
Originally uploaded by mbowling
We are trying to squeeze every last drop out of summer. We were on our way to a Royals game yesterday, when we decided to change our plans and head to Smithville Lake on Grandpa's famous yellow boat.

It wasn't that we weren't excited to go to a Royals game. We had free tickets after all. The problem was Ella napped from 12:30 to 2 pm. The kid is structured, what can I say. We didn't get on the road until 2:45 and the game was already in the 6th inning as we were approaching downtown. We, well I, questioned if it was worth the drive with only a third left to go. Mike reluctantly agreed.

As we pondered our next move in the parking lot of the downtown Denny's, Mike got the okay from Larry to take ole yellow for a spin. We of course weren't packed for a trip on a boat, but it was a beautiful day and the boat hadn't had the pleasure of stretching its sea legs yet this summer. (Oh, those pesky summer floods.) We arrived to see Larry had the boat prepped and hitched to the truck, so we hopped in the truck and departed for the lake.

It felt so good to be on the water with my family. It was a great way to spend a leisurely Sunday. Mike just beamed with joy and Ella, well, I had expected a bit of apprehension, but once again I was wrong. She couldn't soak up every view and very inch of the boat fast enough. She was like a pinball darting between seats or Goldilocks trying to find the spot just right for her. It made me rather tense, but overall she was great. If I would try to loop a finger in her lifejacket, she would swat my hand and say, "Mommy no." I do admire her fearlessness at times. I though was relieved once she was securely strapped in the car seat and away from the water.

Ella got more exposure to the water tonight. I made a last minute decision and we visited the pool, which might possibly be our last visit. I wish I could capture the excitement and her screams of joy as we pull into the parking lot. Before the car is even stopped, she is saying, "momma buckle." We were only there for a quick hour and even though I was exhausted from a long day, it was definitely worth it. We battled a bit when we left, but she calmed down enough to say, "bye pool" multiple times as we meandered to the car. I can't believe it closes in a week for the year. I just don't think the bathtub is big enough to satisfy Ella's appetite for the water.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Somersault Stunts

Here is Ella's official YouTube debut. Payton is an inspiration to Ella as she certainly thinks that she can do anything Payton can do. It was quite humorous to watch. Too bad, our battery died after such a short while.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mama P-O-O-L

As I've mentioned before Ella loves the pool. Right now, I swear it has to be her happiest place on earth. Last Thursday, I left work with the intention of hitting the pool. I had planned ahead and backed the pool bag and all the necessary equipment. I had failed to pack any dinner, so we made a quick pit stop for a bite to eat.

As we were eating, a little summer shower made an appearance. I called Mike who quickly reassured me that it would be brief and surely wouldn't close the pool. He was nearly right. When we left it was only a slight sprinkle, so I decided to go ahead and drive by the pool. Man, was that my dumb mom moment. Ella definitely knew where we were. Unfortunately, they were in the process of closing shop. Poor Ella, she was devastated when she realized that I wasn't stopping the car. She whined for most of the drive home. She kept saying "p-o-o-o-l, mama, p-o-o-o-l." It broke my heart.

Undeterred, I decided Friday after work to try again. Well, hello downtown monsoon. Joel Nichols had promised me the rain wouldn't hit until after 10pm, five hours early was completely unacceptable. I was disappointed but not willing to give in quite yet. So Ella and I decided to wait it out by visiting Mike and T2's First Friday Party. Good move. I enjoyed some tasty snacks and Ella enjoyed the space. After about 45 minutes, the sky was clear and off to the pool we went. It was surprisingly quiet and at one point Ella almost had the entire playground to herself.

On our way home, I treated us to some Sheridan's. I swear we've only taken Ella once before. As we were pulling into the drive-thru, Ella, unprompted, screamed with excitement, "ICE CREAM." She was gleefully kicking her legs as we pulled up to the window. She wasted no time consuming the delicious treat as it was only a tasty memory by the time we reached the house. No mistaken who she takes after!

Mike and I managed to squeeze another trip to the pool Saturday night. We swear as we were packing up and heading out, Ella said ice cream. Now, I'll indulge her in a trip to the pool back to back, but as a responsible parent, I can't give in on the ice cream wish. No matter how badly I want it for myself.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My First Pony-Tail

My First Pony-Tail
Originally uploaded by mbowling
It's not actually Ella's first pony tail, but it's the first one that stuck for longer than 10 seconds. I've been trying now for awhile to do her hair, but anytime I would even come close with the comb and a rubberband, would shake her head and say "No!" Her emphatic no of course didn't stop me from trying. Through all my attempts, I did realize that the first set of rubberbands that I purchased were completely worthless as I couldn't even get my fingers through them.

Fast forward to the other night, when we were playing in the bedroom. I decided to play hair using my stuff, and Ella actually let me do a "Pebbles" ponytail. I was so excited that I raced her into the bathroom to show her how cute her new hairstyle was. She seemed pretty impressed with it. I think it helped that I too had my hair in a ponytail. I think she also liked admiring herself in the mirror, hence the photo.

We did another ponytail this past weekend and she seemed again okay with it. The main issue now is training Mike and making him comfortable with doing hair. It's important to increase his confidence as he now takes Ella in each morning, and she's typically asleep or just waking up as I leave. This means Mike has the responsibility of getting her ready, so hair duty naturally falls to him. Maybe beauty school is in his future?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hey, mom you pushed me

Hey, mom you pushed me
Originally uploaded by mbowling
So the warning label says, the slip n slide is appropriate for children 3+. That didn't stop us from allowing Ella to try it out. Once she had one gentle push down the slide, she tore up the hill so fast to take another turn. Ella absolutely loved it. Pure joy was written across her face as she came sliding down. No worries, there was plenty of parental supervision, four adults for three kids.

Mike and Jen invited us over on Sunday to test out some of the new toys Aaron got for his birthday. We unfortunately had to miss his party, but appreciated the time to play with the new toys. We originally went there to let Ella tumble around in a moonwalk, but surprisingly, she cried each and every time we tried to get her in the moonwalk. I was a bit flabbergasted as there isn't much this kid won't try if given the opportunity, so witnessing fear from her was unusually for me. Instead, she found joy with the slide n slide. So much in fact that her parents purchased one for her that every night. We can't wait to have Payton over to test it out. We also think it will be a big hit with the neighbor kids.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ella tells a funny, knee-slapping joke

Oh my, I think this is one of my favorite new photos of Ella. Uncle Scotty took this while she was hanging out with Tricia and him a few weeks ago. Every time I look at this, I just laugh.

As Tricia says, she wants Ella to think Elmo lives at Uncle Scotty and Auntie T's house. I think she just might. Thanks for sharing the photo, S&T. Hope you don't mind that I posted it, but it's too cute not to share.

More great photos to come of Ms. Ella. She had quite the weekend, including her first experience with a childhood water toy, plus getting to play with her Fairfax cousins. I hope to get them posted in the next day or so. I was scheduled to visit our St. Louis office this week, but it appears I may push that back until August, so I may find myself with some extra time this week.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mmmm...I love me some sweet corn

Oh my, Ella cracks me up. She loves to cheese it up for the camera. She happily let Mike snap this photo after she had gnawed on the first half of her ear of corn. The McManigal side will be so happy that Ella has some of that Nebraska blood in her, even if I'm raising her in Kansas.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. We've been insanely busy, trying to enjoy life, summer fun and maintaining a crazy balance of quality time with Ella with the work demands. Work for me has been C-R-A-Z-Y. It seems to be subsiding a bit. My boss wouldn't even let me take my computer home the other night. It was a nice break, but I felt like I was missing an appendage. I think I've detoxed well from my addiction.

I hope to better regulate my blogging schedule. I've had lots of posts pop in my head, but I've forgotten the topics by time I find myself sitting at a computer for leisurely fun. For now, I've posted pictures of Ella. It's a random assortment of our past few weeks. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ready or Not, Here Comes Ella

Ready or Not, Here Ella Comes
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Summer is here, complete with multiple trips to the pool. Ella has no fear, which concerns me just a bit, although I do love watching her unbridled enthusiasm. Her favorite area at the pool is the tunnel slide in the kiddie area. She just loves to hoist herself in the tunnel and come barrelling down. The minute she's back on two solid feet, she takes off ready to climb the obstacle course once again where her reward is another trip down the slide.

Friday, June 22, 2007

There are people in there!

I have a full day today, but did want to take a moment to point out the event that Amanda and I witnessed last night. Most who know me I'm pretty much a shuttle geek--so last night I happened to pop on NASA TV online to see what's up with the next shuttle landing--they announced what's called a "sighting opportunity" in just about 20 minutes from when I turned it on.


So I check out this website and it lets you know exactly where the space station (and shuttle while its in flight) is located at at all times. So, we went outside and pretty soon what looks like a bright star (the space station) appears out of the north and passes through the brilliant night sky down to the south, and about 45 seconds later following the same track was the space shuttle. It was unreal. Amanda said "I can't believe there are people in there!" I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Empty House

I miss my girl. She hasn't slept in our house since Monday night. She's been up at Grandma and Grandpa Bowling's house. Daycare was closed Wednesday for a teacher in-service day and we went to the AKUS concert Tuesday night, so the grandparents helped us out by letting Ella stay the night and then kept her on Wednesday. Well, earlier this week, we learned Ella's great grandma from Bloomfield was coming down for a visit. To give her some extra time with Ella, she stayed over an additional night. I understand everyone's having a ball together, but I can't wait to see my little girl tonight.

It's so foreign to be at home and not have her here. The house is definitely missing some energy. Mike and I found it so odd that we didn't spend much time in the house. Once we finally got home last night, we popped in videos from Ella's early days and watched them before heading to bed. I miss my baby. I miss her silly laugh and her wild energy.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Just for the sake...

Can I just say that I'm happy that summer is almost here? Man I just can't get enough of the summer. Not that I HATE the winter. Just that I can't stand the month of February and March (weather-wise). Basically I just get to the point where I'm just ready to kick the cold weather to the curb and get outside all of the time!

At lunch today I found an awesome site: ClientCopia. It basically is a collection of conversations, stories, quotes from clients that really are clueless. I've had my share, and I'm very happy to know that I'm not the only one.

My Father's day was good. Spend the morning with my whole family at Granite City up north in Zona Rosa. It was good eats for sure. We came home--took a nice family nap for an hour and then we did some shopping for some much needed supplies. My wife and daughter gave me an AWESOME gift: Tickets to both the Busch and NEXTEL Cup races in September and then tix to the Truck and Indy car race in April of 2008. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I'm very excited because I'll also be going with Scott (Amanda's brother) and his girlfriend Holly. We should really have a great time. I might drink a beer too.

or 4.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Learning our Quack, Moo, Meows

Its been a little bit since out last post (okay, AMANDA'S last post) and we have just be busy bees as usual!

Amanda's had a bout with some sort of viral sickness that we aren't quite sure what it was, but all I know is she was just plum pooped for most of the week. And of course Ella was sick as well on Wednesday, so Amanda had to take care of both herself and Ella-bella who really could have been okay to go to daycare in hindsight. But thankfully Amanda is back up to about 95 percent and getting back to her usual witty self. And is currently beating me up for not grabbing her free Sheridan's the other night when she was sick. (There was a free concrete promotion going on that day) So, yes, I'm a bad hubby.

Ella is finally through all of her medication for her Scarlet fever and seems to be back up to full speed. We can tell because both of her knees are back to being skinned! Amanda and I had our quarterly parent-teacher conference with her daycare provider and seems to be doing good! She's getting good marks in most all areas. Some things she's way ahead in!

Ella has been learning all the animal sounds this last couple of weeks. She has been putting up with her parents saying "what does a ________ say?" for about 3 days now. I give it 3 more days and she's going to be taking the next buggy ride out of town. She really is talking/babbling quite a bit. She sure keeps Amanda and I entertained even though most of the time its been incoherent. Although most people are used to hearing it from me!

Looks like our first trip to pool is in our future this weekend, as well as Father's day--which is awesome. We also may try to hit up Rhythm and Ribs fest down at 18th and Vine. Should be a hot one!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Can I just get a hug?

Can I just get a hug?
Originally uploaded by mbowling

I know the photo is a little overexposed, but I like it just the same. No worries, Ella's fit of frustration was only a mere moment. We don't live a sitcom life, so the kid does get upset now and then.

Overall, Ella is continuing to amaze and delight us. She's recovering from yet another illness. During a trip to Children's Mercy South Sunday, we discovered that Ella was fighting scarlet fever. Luckily, we live in the word of antibiotics, so Ella was back to her happy normal self after a few doses.

A few new cute things she's doing lately:

  • She points out the moon once it appears. Mike taught her it one night and each night we are outside, Ella is searching for it and uttering the word.
  • The minute she hears a plane, she points to the sky and tries to find it. The love of planes must be in the genes.
  • She waves bye bye as we leave the park. Most nights the park is empty when we leave, yet she still turns around as we walk up the sidewalk and waves and says "bye bye." I see it as her way of saying this was a special time, thanks for letting me play.
  • She can identify Elmo, depending on your personal feelings, this could be a travesty, but for now, we think it's adorable.

Payton was over this week for an overnight visit. I've always enjoyed having Payton, but now I enjoy it even more because Ella lights up when she sees Payton. For being over three years apart, they certainly share a special bond. Ella is so fascinated with Payton, and I think we get great belly laughs from Ella, but Payton gets the best laughs out of her, it even sounds different.

Payton and Ella will get even more time together as Payton will be hanging out with Mike and Ella while Rene and I are celebrating Kim's upcoming nuptials with a girl's night gathering.

Crayons, one of the five basic food groups for tots

Since I posted an upset photo of Ella, I thought I better post a sweet photo of her. She loves to color, but coloring time never lasts too long because the crayons always end up in the mouth.

More pictures have been posted lately to the flickr account, including ones from Jazzoo, which I think is the best party in KC. Mike and I had the best time, who wouldn't any time you get to wear flip flops with a party dress. It's cute and comfy all at the same time.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ella the Gardener

Ella the Gardener
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Here's Ella helping mommy plant some pots this past weekend. She loves to get dirty. She also loves to be mommy's little helper. (I'm loving this stage, but I know it won't last forever.) She so enjoyed helping me clean out the weeds from the flower beds that she now considers every blade of grass to be a weed. It's too cute to watch her sit down on the lawn and so deliberately weed the grass.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Another Poop Adventure and Memorial Day Recap

Ella has been battling a bad case of diaper rash. Our trusty Airbonne product is working well, but the rash keeps coming back. After bath time, we let Ella run around naked. While this does carry some inherit risks, we've been fortunate enough to avoid any disasters. That was until last night. Ella and I were playing peekaboo complete with high energy and lots of laughs while Mike picked up her room a bit. Ella positioned herself in her closet door frame. After a few peekaboo repetitions, she stopped and stayed a few seconds longer behind the frame. She then came darting out of the closet. In all her trailblazing, she lovingly dropped a healthy turd on her bedroom floor before she ran away with such enthusiasm. Mike and I burst out laughing. Ella's left a lot in her wake before, but never such a gift like this. We were fortunate enough it was solid which made for very easy clean up. It was nothing like the great poop escape of the early months, but still worthy of a post.

Memorial Day weekend has ended and it's back to work. I think all weekends should be three day ones. It actually felt like a nice break from work. Mike and I kicked off the weekend with a wedding. Mike's former co-worker Lauren was married on Saturday. It was a very beautiful wedding and mighty tasty! Some of the best crab cakes I've had in the landlocked Midwest. She's a former co-worker because they are moving to Oregon very soon, so her new husband can begin his dental practice. Mike was so very disappointed to see Lauren leave t2 (very happy for her of course, Lauren was a real asset to Mike in the tech room), but he was just sad as we were leaving her reception. Tears welled in his eyes as we walked down the stairs. He commented that this might be the last time he sees her. My heart just ached for him. If I could get him to do a post, I'm sure he would write about how much he truly enjoyed working with Lauren. He might also comment on how she managed to tolerate Mike's non-stop Jack Johnson stage. As for me, I certainly hope it wasn't the last time we see Lauren and Brandon. They truly are a great couple and they were one of the few fortunate ones who've had the pleasure of babysitting Ella. We wish them the best in Oregon.

As for us, the rest of the weekend was spent focused on house projects, which included painting the beam in our kitchen, cleaning flower beds and planting some pots. I have some great pictures of Ella helping mommy which I'll try to post. We managed to squeeze some fun in there as well. Before I forget, we also have our Vue back. Yeah!! It's shaping up to be a busy week and being that it's almost 3 am. I better try and get some sleep. It appears my good friend Mr. Insomnia is back. The last two nights haven't been sleepy happy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Convictions, Grisham and Flooding

I had counted on this week being crazy, exhausting and a little fun, but I didn't count on a sick kid or water in our basement. It was quite the week. The definite high was participating in an event that was an overwhelming success and then knowing it was over. The low was waking up Monday morning, finding ourselves ready at 6:45 am for our Parents as Teacher meeting at 7 am, only to walk downstairs and find water in our basement. The surprises continued when Ella woke up with a 100 degree temp. She had been running a temp on Sunday and was quite clingy to mom. I could have taken her to daycare, but I felt she deserved a little extra TLC, which she got from dad and grandma.

I finally headed into work around 11:30. This wasn't a week that I could miss any work. Best-selling author John Grisham came to town for a benefit for the Midwestern Innocence Project. I helped with the PR for the event and the press avail that happened before the big dinner that featured Grisham as the speaker. It was quite the experience. From a PR perspective, we had a decent amount of press -- KMBZ, Fox 4, KMBC and the Star featured the event either before and/or after. The day after the event, the Star ran a picture of Grisham above the fold and then did a larger article on B2. That was a big win.

As for the actual event, it was a powerful evening. Prior to Grisham speaking about his experience writing the book, The Innocent Man, Dennis Fritz, one of the men featured in the book and a KC native, told his story -- as an individual serving a life sentence for a crime he didn't commit. He was behind bars for 12 years before he was finally freed. It was so quiet in the hall when Grisham and Fritz were on the stage. All normal background noises were completely absent, no side conversations, no coughing, no one left their chair to use the restroom. Their stories consumed me.

As for my evening, I was fortunate enough to get Grisham to autograph my book as well as a photo from the press avail. I also got a a picture with him. I'll post that once I have it. As my co-worker said, I look like I have a coat hanger jammed in my mouth. I found Grisham to be so down to earth and such a southern gentleman. After the press avail, Grisham and a small handful of MIP board members had a few drinks at the bar while the VIP room was being set up. I stopped by the bar a few times to check in with others in the bar. I never approached Grisham's table. Only later did I learn, the Stinson attorney I worked with on this event attempted to motion me to join them multiple times. I would have thoroughly enjoyed that conversation, but I actually was quite busy with last minute details. As much as I appreciated the experience, I was euphoric on Friday knowing the event was over and how successful it had been. As one social lady said on her way out the door, "I attend so many of these things that I hardly make it to the end of any event, but I was riveted."

I hope to resume my normal schedule now that the event is history. Work will continue to be busy until I catch up on all the work I pushed aside for this event. I am looking forward to celebrating Mother's Day and Mike's birthday tomorrow. Outside of witnessing Luke getting baptized, we don't have too many concrete plans.