Monday, December 29, 2008

Perfecting Christmas

Christmas 2008 is finally over. Oh what fun we had! I am planning a longer post to detail the memories and oh the loot these kids were given. It's official, we need a bigger house and sweet Ella needs a bigger closet. She has more dress up shoes than I own of actual shoes. (Well, maybe of the shoes that I actually wear.)

We had fun. We had tears. We had joy. And, we had sickness. The kids were stricken with hand, foot and mouth (or so we think, official diagnosis coming tomorrow.)

For now, I leave you with a series of photos. I was attempting to capture a sweet photo of the kiddos post Christmas Eve service. As usually, I attempted multiple shots and never quite captured what I originally hoped, but E&S managed to give me plenty of silly shots of which I will treasure always. Love those little creatures!




Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!


Santa Sam
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Sorry for the lack of posting. Is anyone still coming to visit? I have been blocked. Each time I would sit down to write something, I would just stare at the screen. It felt like a chore and not something I actually wanted to do, so suprisingly I didn't do it. You could say I have struggled to find the Christmas spirit this season.

Don't fear. There have been many enjoyable moments, but I have been weighed down by the list of things to do and the list of things we didn't do this year.

What does help me get in the Christmas spirit is definitely my kiddos and my goofy, geeky husband. Having children has definitely helped make Christmas more magical. I know come Christmas morning and even later tonight I will be overflowing with the Christmas spirit. The next 36 hours will be quite special. I just hope I survive until then.

I do hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! I plan to enjoy this special Christmas as a family of four and watching my joyful kids (and husband) open their gifts. I can't decide which expression I am looking forward to more -- Ella seeing the bounty that Santa is bringing or Mike when he receives his gift.

Monday, December 08, 2008

What Sam Has Been Doing all Weekend


Football is On
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Sam continues to grow up and by doing so is defying his mother. In all seriousness, he is one determined little man. Once he grabs hold of a somewhat stable object, the boy attempts to get his feet underneath him and pull himself up. Of course, he has no idea what she is suppose to do once he's in that position. He seemed to spend the majority of the weekend working on this new skill. Oh my handsome little 8 month old.

More posts to come, but I am sick, so this is all I have in me at the moment.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Out One and In Another

Vomiting is a part of parenting. Definitely not the glamorous side, but it is part of this whole kit and caboodle. I knew that before I became a mom and I accepted it. Luckily. Ella wasn't much of a puker. I distinctly remember her two primary incidents: 1) tossing her cookies at Walmart as we walked into a checkout lane and 2) walking into her room one morning and being knocked over by the putrid smell consuming her room and the vomit covering her bed.

Up until tonight, Sam has never had a vomit incident. Well, that all changed and his incident is definitely the most memorable, at least from my perspective.

Sam and I were playing on the floor. I was laying on my back and I had him at arm's length over my chest. I was raising him up and down to provoke laughter. I need to note that the boy while battling a cough has had no other symptoms, so I wasn't concerned with being a little rambuctious with him. I was securing lots of good, deep belly laughs. So, Sam decided to reward me with more than just hearty laughs.

I heard the rumble from his stomach and could hear the liquid river flowing out of his body. Luckily, my instincts took over and my eyes quickly shut. However, my insticts were so focused on protecting my eyes that they failed to close my mouth. As you may have guessed it, I ended up being showered with Sam's vomit with just a little hitting the inside of my mouth. I instantly started gagging and dry heaving. Beyond disgusting. Beyond grotesque. I stopped long enough to seek some help.

I hollered for Mike's assistance. I yelled, "Sam just puked on me." Mike runs down with a burp cloth and is laughing hysterically. He takes Sam from my arms, so I can wipe off my mouth and my neck. I enjoy a few quality hacks before I open my eyes. The first thing I see is this bouncy, sweet boy staring at me with a wide goofy grin. Impossible to be even slighty mad at him.

I certainly am no stranger to disgusting incidents. I've had a bird poop on me at a Royals game. I've had my daughter say "here momma" and place a booger in my hand. Until tonight, I've never tasted my kids vomit and I hope it is never served again on the Bowling menu.

Thinking back, Sam was good to his parents this weekend. He treated Mike to a urine shower at yesterday's Thanksgiving gathering and for me, he showered me with stomach acid. Still love that little man.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another Thanksgiving

So I am definitely not going out with a bang in regards to blogging this November. Oh well, it was a good effort. Maybe I'll try again next year.

Tonight, I am curled up in a lazy boy as the kiddos watch The Grinch. Bailey is staying over tonight and the two girls are suppose to share the same twin bed. Let's hope both of them are so worn out by today's festivities that the easily fall asleep.

Today, the McManigal's gathered at Ponca State Park to enjoy a family Thanksgiving. Oh, what a good day. I got the chance to see lots of special people, watch my girl make new friends and enjoy such tasty treats, including deep fried turkey. Oh, it is so yummy!

Words at this late hour can't convey what a great time we had. So I will leave that for the photos, which I will try to share soon.

We are headed back to KC tomorrow and I hope the weather cooperates as I drew the short straw and get to drive home. Good times this weekend, but I am ready to be in my own space.

My parting thoughts: Go Bearcarts!! Whoo!!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Under the Wire

I have ten minutes to go until midnight, so I am getting this in just under the wire. Tonight, we have been preoccupied by packing for this extended weekend. I truly love Thanksgiving, by far it's my favorite holiday. Hopefully tomorrow, I'll have time to put together a longer Thanksgiving post.

Right now, I need to venture to bed because we will be up early to finish the packing and loading of the car. Before I sign off for tonight, I have to share another sweet sibling story.

While we were in the midst of our morning routine, Sam was relegated to crawl around on the floor after he was dressed. In usual fashion, I was running around the house with me primarily darting between my bedroom and the kids' bedrooms. On one of my many jaunts, Ella decided to follow me. I guess Sam decided to do the same, so Ella paused at the top of the staircase. I noticed she was sliding her legs out to the side while trying to maintain her balance. I didn't give it too much thought or attention. Mike comes out from the bedroom and asks Ella if she is trying to do the splits. Ella responds with, "No, I am just trying to block the stairs for Sammy." Now on cue, ahh......so thankful that at least at this point in life, Ella genuinely enjoys being a big sister.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Back to School

This post is long overdue and I wonder if it the hubby shouldn't be the one to write it. While we never publicly announced it on this blog, Mike went back to school this fall. He is taking one online class through Park University. The class is "Disasters and Public Policy," and is part of Park's emergency management graduate program.

Most know and if not, it's quite apparent once you get to know Mike, that he is a MAJOR weather geek. While for the most part, this works in our family's favor -- I always know how to dress myself and the kids, hardly am ever caught off guard by a storm, continually prepared for the standard elevator topic of conversation, and you get the picture... However, now that we have children, I am just a touch more cautious when severe storms tear through our neck of the woods. What I find the most bothersome is Mike's desire to stand outside during severe spring storms while he is yelling at me to get the kids downstairs. When this is happening, I find myself thinking, "what the hell about you?" Of course, the more severe, the greater his interest, and if Lezak or Busby throws in the word "tornadic," I know I have lost him for the rest of the day. But to love him is to respect/tolerate/accept his love of the weather.

Earlier this year, Mike found himself unsure of his professional career path and his passion for his job. He was restless and started to consider other options. When Mike learned of Park's program, we discussed it over the course of a few days, and he came to the decision to give this a try. He was a excited but thought occasionally "what the hell did I just agree to?" My only complaint in the beginning was when he decided to enroll. If he had decided to enroll earlier in the summer, we could have applied for financial aid, so the savings account had to take a slight hit.

Having him take a class while working full-time has been challenging for him as he struggled to balance the demands of homework with the demands of a full-time job and a full-time family. While I have always supported him in this endeavor, I haven't always been the most accommodating or patient spouse. I admit it. He spoiled me. I was used to having an extra set of hands to help me during the evenings. When that went away, I got a little bitchy and quite whiny, but at the same time I did and do recognize the demands on him. I know he would rather be hanging with his family than doing homework. I get that, but it took me a few months to really appreciate it.

I can't speak to his overall experience. I am only a witness to it. He has been challenged. He has learned. He has adjusted to becoming a student again. He has had new experiences. Instead of wondering and romanticizing this idea of moving into the field of emergency management, he explored his interest. He hasn't decided if he will continue on this path or not. If he envisions or desires a career in emergency management, then I want him to continue and we will continue to adjust to the demands of school. If this experience gave him a glimpse into this type of work and he realizes his interest level is more as a hobby, then I believe he should close the book on this. Either way, I support him, and I truly am not leaning one way or the other. I am just proud of him for stepping outside of his box and taking a chance. He stopped talking and contemplating and took a leap. I respect that more than he probably knows.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Little man on fake mountain in game shows.

Right now I'm doing everything humanly possible to not click "buy" from the iTunes App Store and buy the new The Price is Right game for the iPod touch. Seriously. It looks kick ass. And for those who don't know, I have quite the affection for TPiR. I grew up watching it incessantly. Of course that information comes second-hand from my mother, so take it for what its worth.

Oh good god. Now after typing that, I just spent the last 20 minutes: 1. researching the Cliff Hangers pricing game, 2. Watching YouTube clips of somebody actually winning it without having the mountain climber move and one where his life is spared at the very LAST STEP. Both are very thrilling. 3. Deciding that the Cliff Hangers music is the greatest song ever. 4. Deciding that I'm going to make that song my ring tone on my celly. 5. Decided I kinda have a man-crush on the cliff hanger.

Oh sure, there are other pricing games out there that I like. But not one comes close to my heart as Cliff Hangers. I think I know why too. There isn't another game on that show where you worry that somebody (in this case, our man Johann) might actually DIE from a mistake such as getting whiffing on the price of a mini-refrigerator that literally is so "mini" it can only house ONE CAN OF POP. Oh, that poor little weinerschnitzel.*

*Why am I not surprised that the spell check had "no guesses" for my butchering of that word.

And with that. I'm going to bed dreaming of little men with pick axes whose feet pray that they always take less than 25 steps.

Godspeed, little man.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

For the Love of Dolls

This weekend as I was searching for Ella's finger paints, I came across two baby dolls that Ella was given at her first Christmas. At that time, Mike and I felt the dolls and the accessories were inappropriate for a 10-month old, so we stored them in her closet. Ella was quite excited to discover them this weekend. As we were unraveling the dolls from the packaging, Mike asked Ella what she planned to name the dolls. Ella didn't really have an answer, so Mike gently suggested the names of "Made" and "China." So for better for worse, these two dolls join the family of dolls with such names as "big baby," "naked baby," and "dolly." On the plus side, at least the names are getting a bit more original.

I will end with congratulations to our friend Chera, who got engaged today. We've had the pleasure of meeting her soon-to-be husband and we think they make a pretty great couple. Quite possibly, Mike and I might have to trek to Seattle next year. Oh, what a shame!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kid Comments

I have failed the daily blog challenge. I would look at the laptop each night and just sigh. I could not compel myself to post. I am sure I had posts in my head, but I had no desire to sit down and plunk down my ideas. So I come tonight unsure of where this post is headed. I could write about tonight's DISASTROUS shopping excursion but I am too traumatized to relive it. Lesson learned tonight: No longer will I take both kids shopping without an extra set of hands. In order for me to willingly take them, it must be completely unavoidable and absolutely necessary.

Moving right along, I need to share some of the wonderful conclusions and thoughts that come from that precocious child's mouth. As I was getting dressed, Ella turned to me and said, "Momma, you don't have a noodle, only boys have noodles." (I have NO Clue where the term "noodle" came from) I tried to control my laughter while I confirmed her observation by saying, "You are right."

I know there are others, but my brain is failing to recall them. At lunch, Mike was talking to Ella about our upcoming Thanksgiving travels and how we would be going back to Sioux City. Ella stopped him and said, "We are not in Sioux City. We are in Kansas City." She then proceeded to say, "Grandma Pam lives in Nebraska." Her recall dumbfounds me at times. I can't specifically remember how the conversation evolved, but then I asked E if she remembered the name of the primary road we take to daycare each day. She paused for a second and I said it's "Shawnee...." She quickly jumped in and blurted out, "Shawnee Mission Parkway." She blows me away at times.

Moving on to Mr. Sam, the boy is growing up. He has been perfecting the speed of his army crawl, but today, the boy crawled in sequence. It was methodical but the boy is moving. He would advance about four to five steps before he would drop down and resume the army crawl. The other big news from today is Sammy held his bottle completely unassisted. I know, I know, it may seem like a silly thing to tout but my he's my baby and I'm proud.

Okay, Mike is shutting down his department of electronics, so I should follow suite. I make no promises as for the rest of the month regarding this blog. I will try is I will promise. Good night.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Milestone Passed

Sam has graduated from the infant carrier to a convertible car seat. I probably should have moved him before now. The poor boy would fuss every time I tried to buckle him. His large, warm winter coat did not help the cause. He seemed pretty enthusased about his new seat once secured. The boy is growing up just a little too fast.

Things I've noticed during this month of blogging. I write a lot about how tired I am, but what parent isn't operating from a sleep deprived state. I also know my posts contain numerous errors, some I catch later and others I don't. I also post late at night, and it is interferring with my sleep schedule, and because of that, I am heading to bed. I have slammed right into a brick wall, and my bed is calling my name.

I apologize this is so brief but sleep is needed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Before Thanksgiving

I am a stickler when it comes to the boundaries of Christmas. I believe Thanksgiving repeatedly gets passed over, so I try to adhere to no Christmas traditions until the day after Thanksgiving, when the holiday flood gates open. This means I don't listen to Christmas music or hang any decorations until after Thanksgiving has passed. Well, I relented a little this year. We heard downtown was having a holiday light kickoff to mark the start of the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign. Since we are proponents of downtown (what with us both working downtown and the kid's child care center there as well). we decided to make it a family holiday outing. We invited Scott & Tricia, bundled up the kids and headed to Barney Allis Plaza tonight to watch the Marriott transform into a holiday light show. While it was definitely the second-cousin, twice-removed from the Plaza lighting, it was worth it to watch Ella become transfixed by the lights. She definitely forgot she was cold once the building started flashing holiday scenes.

When it comes to new family holiday traditions for the four of us (by no means do I think this will become part of that tradition), Mike and I are still finding our way. It's difficult to end or pull away from our own childhood traditions, but we recognize the importance and we have the desire to create new ones. I am a touch anxious as I worry that as procrastinators we will fail to create solid Christmas traditions, so I am attempting to try various ones on and we'll see which ones fit.

Below are pictures from tonight. I tried to get a good one of Ella and daddy with the building as our backdrop, but Ella would not pull her attention away from the lights. The other is Mr. Sam all bundled up. He wasn't as impressed. He was just cold.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Whoo! I was baptized today.

It was a good day, but a long one. Sam was his usually charming self and boy did he look adorable in his sweater vest and cords. He did fabulous through the ceremony, but was more interested in the ceiling fans than anything happening right in front of him. I take that back. He was intrigued when the minister poured the water into the bowl. I think he thought it was a baby pool because he tried to lean right out of my arms into the water. Ella joined us in front of the congretation. She was a bit overwhelmed with everything but did quite well in Mike's arms.

Overall, a special day and we're so thankful for the family members that we able to join us. I posted a few pictures to flickr. They tell a better story that I can articulate as my brain is fried and I need to call it a night.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Too Tired

I am so tired. Today did not evolve as I had hoped and I hate days like that. Most of the day was spent preparing for Sam's baptism and the lunch after the service, yet everything took longer that I expected. I failed to factor in children, which are the ultimate X factor.

I have started multiple posts tonight, yet nothing is flowing freely, so I plan to cut my losses and call it a night. My motivation to blog is waning because I enjoyed two Nutracker Ales tonight, and they were oh so good!

Hopefully tomorrow, I can provide a detailed recap of Sam's baptism along with photos. I dressed him up tonight in his outfit and my boy looked sharp and so damn adorable. I love that little man but I really need to get some sleep as the alarm clock is set to disturb me at 6:15 on a Sunday! Ugh!

I will say I am geeked that my last post on Kid's Stuff generated some additional traffic and comments. I hope Sirius XM pays attention to their consumers. As for me, I have to go to bed. I must, if only I can get my hubby to set down his iPod and do the same.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bring Back Kids Stuff

I can't believe I am making this plea, but Sirius XM listen up: Your new "Kids Place Live" station, well, let's just put this mildly, it completely SUCKS. I am so disappointed by it. I want my Kids Stuff back. E doesn't need or want a dj making idle chit chat just play music. She asked me, "Momma, why is that guy talking. Where's my songs?" Oh honey, how I wish I knew.

As for the chipmunk Dirk, it's pretty clear to me why Alvin, Simon and Theodore dumped him. So why should he be forced feed to us? Kenny -- I want to hurl darts at my eyes rather than listen to you.

Now, you have lots of channels, so MAYBE you overlooked the fact that you kept the Disney Station. Since you did that, explain to me why Kids Place Live seems just one minor stair step away from the Disney Station? Give me Elmo but leave Troy and Gabriella on Disney. I am no prude, but ESPN Jock Jams with "get your booty on the dance floor" just doesn't seem appropriate for my two-year-old. Please don't get me started on losing Big Kids Stuff. I fear I may never hear "Rainbow Connection" on Sirius again, and trust me the world needs that ray of sunshine. Have you seen the Dow lately?

I will admit, I have heard of few songs I like that Kids Stuff never played -- something by Bill Jonas maybe about naming that cat. Otherwise I have been completely unimpressed and I wait patiently hoping to hear a glimpse of what made Kids Stuff on Sirius so great.

In some ways, i need to say thank you to Sirius XM as you gave me new ideas for E's Christmas list because we'll need CDs rather than our satellite radio when it's her turn to pick the music. Thanks for nothing Sirius XM.

In case you didn't know, the merger between Sirius and XM was completed this week with Sirius XM Radio unveiling their new station lineup on Wednesday. Honestly, I had no concerns about the merger because we, well I, only listened primarily to two Sirius channels: Coffee House and Kids Stuff. Thankfully, Coffee House was unaffected by the merger, but Kids Stuff was completely dismantled, and our household is not happy, particularly E.

Let me say, I would prefer not to listen to the kid's stations, but E gets her turn just like mom and dad. I will readily admit I more than tolerated the station though. There actually were some songs I enjoyed bopping my head to like Goldfish by Laurie Berkner, Pop Fly by Justin Roberts, and My Hair Had a Party Last Night and Eighteen Wheels, both by Trout Fishing in America. Of course, a few I hope are retired to the Sirius vault and never heard from again.

I do promise to give this new Kids Place Live a chance, but my patience is running thin. Please Sirius tweak this station. Target a younger demographic than you are attracting with the Disney station, and then maybe I'll stick around.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sibling Love

Ask a question and expect any answer. Tonight as we were sitting around the dinner table with Ella nestled in my lap and sitting opposite Mike and Sam, I asked her if she liked having a baby brother. She said, "Yes. (Long Pause) I want a new baby brother."

Uh, wait a minute. What did she say?
Mike and I chuckled, and he asked her what was wrong with Sam. She never answered just restated her desire for a new brother. Mike asked if she liked Sam, and she answered yes, and then hopped from my lap to swing over to Sam's side of the table where she proceeded to extract large laughs from the little guy.

I'm glad to know she likes being a big sister. Now I have to decide if she either wants to turn him for a younger model or only wants to expand the family. Personally, I like the 1:1 ratio and am comfortable keeping it that way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sam's Baptism

I lied. I actually have a blog topic tonight. This weekend we are baptizing Sam. Consider this an open invitation. I'm sorry but with life has hectic as it has been, I have failed miserably to personally invite anyone other than immediate family. While using blogger to notify you of his baptism may not sit well with Emily Post, I only have so much time in the day.

Details: Sam will be baptised at the 10:50 service on Sunday at SUMC. After the service, we are planning a casual lunch at our house. Everyone is welcome but please let either Mike or I know if you plan to come.

Otherwise, please send positive vibes our way as Ella is always the X factor at ceremonies like these. If anything, she will make it memorable.

I Need a Blog Topic

I have nothing to blog about tonight. Okay, I do but I only have 18 minutes to complete a blog post and I want to go to bed. And my husband, who I normally really like, is annoying the beegbus out of me. He is taunting me with Halloween candy. The same candy that I asked him to dump exactly 10 days ago. Must love a man, who supports his woman!

I have serious doubts that I have enough topics to complete the month. So, I was thinking tonight about the topics I could tackle this month. No promises I will get to them all, but while I was watching multiple episodes of Brothers & Sisters (I miss my brothers the most after I watch an episode), here is the list I outlined:

*Complete the blog post on the disastrous Sunday trip back to KC -- side note: The Subway in Bethany, you suck.
*My endearing love for Thanksgiving.
*Fantasy Football -- Mike's suggestion and a highly unlikely topic to be tackled.
*The complete story of Sam's birth -- hello Ambien.
*Stupid facts about me -- example I don't believe fruit is meant to be cooked.
*The mom I want to be vs. the mom I am.
*My addiction to food -- I'm a foodie. I admit it. It is who I am.
*My vacation desires -- if I don't get to a beach soon, I may go postal.
*My love/hate relationship with sleep.
*The topics I won't blog about and why.
*Why I love my husband and why I keep him around.

Feel free to suggest a topic. I certainly am open to suggestions. For now, I am off to bed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Teamwork

My kids already working together. They didn't produce sweet music, but they did give me this nice photo opp.

I may take the easy way out and just post this pic tonight. I'm tired and I want sleep.

Before I go, I will share a quick comment from Ella. As we were trying to leave the family gathering on Saturday, Mike and I were not having much luck getting Ella to cooperate. We've been promoting this whole "listening ears" concept with her.

After strongly ordering her to help me pick up some toys, I asked Ella what was wrong with her listening ears. My child deadpanned, "They keep falling off." She then bent down to pick them up one at a time. Oh my sweet, sassy and smart girl.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Night of a Thousand Interruptions

All right, I missed a day. I really wanted to do a post a day, oh well. Maybe I will try one day in the near future to do two posts in a single day. No real excuses for not posting. We were in Des Moines yesterday for an early holiday gathering, and I never found a good time to blog. Truthfully, I really didn't have anything worthy to write. How that has changed these last 24 hours.

While the day was good, the night was anything but. I went as far to call it "our worst night with two kids." At 10 pm last night, I was in bed with Sam on my left side sleeping in his pack-n-play and E was on my right rolling around on her air bed while Mike was finishing up homework in the living room. I was drifting in and out, while Ella was refusing to find dreamland. I finally relented and asked if she wanted to lay with me until daddy came to bed. Once she had the invite, she threw herself in the bed and quickly snuggled up to me. I must admit it was quite nice to have a warm little body to cuddle.

Shortly after 11, Mike found Ella and I buried under covers with E's arm draped over me. He quickly surmised that he might have to pull up a piece of floor. I woke up, briefed him on the agreement, and he gently moved Ella back to her bed. On cue, Sam started to whine. At home, I give him some time before I step in. With him an arms length away, I got out of bed and tried to calm him down. After a few minutes of coaxing, the boy was back asleep. A generous 45 minutes passed before Ella started rolling around and crying out in her sleep. In a few brief seconds, the innocent cries developed in blood-curdling screams. Mike and I have learned these night terrors just need time to pass. She doesn't want us to touch her or talk to her. If we do, it just enrages her even more. We just have to let her be. Well, that works when we were are in the comforts of our house, but not so well when we are packed together in one room within an ear-shot of others. Luckily, she didn't wake her brother. He stirred but never completely awoke.

After 15 very loud and long minutes, Ella mixed in a few words with her screams. It took some time but I was finally able to identify "mamma." I asked Ella if she wanted to lay with me again. Slowly, she calmed down and crawled next to me, and in a matter of seconds was back asleep. Mike took up residence on the floor wedged between the bed and the air bed.

A few brief hours passed before Mr. S decided to get in on the action. Those hours were not very restful as I spent them dodging feet and elbows sent sailing my way by my little girl. Unfortunately, it took the little man some time to calm down. Mike stood over the pack-n-play patting his back and shoosing him. Once he was asleep, we re-assumed our positions only for E to wake up a few hours requesting the blanket from her air bed which was the blanket Mike was using after we was kicked from the bed. He ventured back into the living room around 4:30 to track down a new blanket. What he did find was his grandma awake for the day. Here we are trying to say goodbye to the precious day and she is up ready to start a new one.

A few brief hours passed before Sam decided he wanted a bottle at his customary time of 7 am. I pulled him from the pack-n-play and dumped him with the first available grandparent. I went back into bed to find Ella awake and wanting to play. Again, opened the door and whisked her out to competent grandparents. Mike rose from the floor and laid next to me. Of course, sleep continued to evade me, so after an hour of trying, I gave in and decided it was time to start the day. I can't recall a night with both kids that was as rough as that. It was horrendous and I am just thankful it is over.

While we had fun with the family, it feels so good to be in my own bed with the kids sweetly tucked away in theirs. The lack of sleep was not today's only obstacle. More to mention, but I need sleep. Need to make up for what I missed last night. Part II to continue tomorrow....

Friday, November 07, 2008

Guest Blogger--Hubby Mikey!

11:04. Friday Night. About to take off to Iowa tomorrow. And once again, we are trying to throw together EVERYTHING at the last minute. Kids are both asleep, Amanda is working on laundry and realized that she hadn't done the nightly blog post. So her dutiful, awesome husband is here to take care of things. Guest poster baby! Woot!

I have come to the realization this week that Amanda and I are officially addicted to Twitter.
For the uninitiated, Twitter is essentially microblogging. All you do is just post whatever you want--but you have to do it in 140 characters. Here's my "tweets".

Here's how I know. Usually within 5 minutes of getting out of bed in the morning, we have checked our twitter feeds. In fact, in just trying to find the number of characters you can post with, I got lost in my feed for 5 minutes before Amanda pulled me back center and get me back on track. For the record, I think I have a case of ADD. That's you don't find me posting on the blog very much. But hell, I'll tweet all day long. Another reason: every single gadget we own has some sort of attachment to Twitter. That includes the laptop (via Twitter.com) my work computer (via TweetDeck or Twitterrific) Amanda's cell phone (via text) Amanda's work Blackberry (via TitterBerry) my Spint Mogul cell phone (via PockeTwit) and finally we both have applications on our iPod touch (Mike: Twinkle, Amanda: Twittelator) And I think that about covers it. Oh wait, one more think, anytime we "tweet" it puts that as our status on our Facebook pages as well. See what I mean?

You can always see what my latest "tweet" is just by looking to the side bar and you'll see mine.

So feel free to check it out! But please, don't get addicted like Amanda and I are.

.....and good night.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Seven-months Sam

In the election excitement, I glazed over the fact that Sam is now 7 months. Seven months. It just doesn't seem possible.

So, what's new with Sam? Well, he is crawling. It is still just an army crawl but that boy can move. You don't dare turn away from him. As with Ella, Sam's biggest motivation is Yoshi. The minute he seems the white furry ball stroll by him, Sam's face breaks into a mischievous smile and his eyes narrow on the prize. No matter how fast Sam moves, he has yet to catch the cat. Heck, I think Ella is still trying to reach him.

Other fun facts about Sam:

  • He has two sweet teeth on the bottom.
  • He eats cherrios.
  • He has a fondness for mango.
  • And he has a special place in my heart.


While Sam has always made me feel special, lately I have wanted confirmation that I wasn't just a nice woman who kept his belly full and his diaper dry (because let's be honest that's how I have been feeling). I wanted confirmation of my revered role. I got that today. I strolled into Sam's room after unsuccessfully trying to round up Ella. He was lying on the mat with his back to me. I spoke up and said, "Hey Sammy, you ready to go?" The minute my voice hit his eardrums, the kid flipped over and he beamed his wide, warm, sweet smile. That smile, well, it stole my heart.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Listening

I tempted fate. Will I ever learn? I found myself uttering to friends and co-workers that I hadn't thought the "terrible twos" were all that bad. We have had a few tough moments with Ella, but nothing unmanageable. How I needed to keep my mouth shut (probably more often that I am willing to admit)!

The past few weeks Ella has been a volatile 2-year old with unbelievable strength. I have half-seriously joked that my child was missing because at times I didn't recognize her. The tears, the anger, the fits, the frustration. Separately, I can handle them but when they come pouring out of her at the exact same time, it is tough -- very tough. The worst times are mornings and at bedtime. I have never been a morning person, but bedtime previously had been a special bonding time for Ella and I. Lately, I have been dreading bedtime, absolutely dreading. Sadly, some nights I would find myself more willing to clean the house than battle with my child.

Tonight's meltdown was ugly. It was nasty. I had an indicator that a meltdown was coming when at daycare, Ella refused to cooperate in any manner as we attempted to leave the center. Officially though, tonight's fit started at the hair salon, continued through the drive home and ended at the house. During that time, she attempted to rip the necklace from my neck, clawed, hit, screamed and kicked. It is heart breaking to witness my child so upset and her refusal to accept any comfort. Fortunately, we managed to salvage the evening. It took some time but eventually deep belly laughs replaced fits of tears and frustrations. Again, I was worried if the emotions would switch back at bedtime.

For the most part, bedtime had been sailing along fairly easily, I was waiting with bated breath for the moment when it would immediately take a turn south. The primary instigator is almost always putting on her pjs. Tonight, the top went on without a struggle, but she was resisting changing her pants. After a few direct requests and battling my bubbling frustration, I asked Ella if she had her listening ears on. She indicated she didn't as she reached down to the ground, grabbed imaginary ears and hung them off her head. I then asked, "Now what did mommy say?" Without missing a beat, my child matter-of-factly answered, "Do you have your listening ears on?"

Levity filled the room and I could only laugh. Mike teased me, "Wow, you got burned." Oh yes, I did. And yes, bed time continued on without any tears.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election

Goosebumps. Excitement. Historic. This night has been amazing, but I made the poor call and took a benadryl earlier in the evening. Drowsiness took over and I ended up dozing off repeatedly as results in rolled in, but I didn't missed the historic announcement. I am so proud of this country. Now I hope for unity and reconciliation as the country moves forward. For me, it is time for bed.

One final thought: How I have missed Tim Russert this evening!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween Resurrected

The calender may say it is Nov, 3, but it certainly didn't appear to be anything other than Oct. 31 this evening in our cul-de-sac. If you had driven by our neighborhood, you would have seen two fireman, an Indian princess, a witch and a monkey roaming the street. Why? Our wonderful and kind neighbors decided to turn back the clock to happily hand out candy again and let us pretend for at least 45 minutes that tonight was actually Halloween.

Ella definitely had her share of the holiday, even more so in the candy department, but my lingering disappointment with the holiday was not how it transpired but that I did not witness Ella trick-or-treating. In a conversation with a fellow neighbor while I was stuck in a hospital waiting room, this idea of doing a delayed trick-or-treating was addressed. She had our entire cul-de-sac on board in, I imagine, a few short hours.

So tonight, the kids gathered together and eagerly tackled each house. (E had enough of Minnie Mouse that tonight she was a sweet witch.) Even though our trek only included eight houses, Ella managed to come home with a pumpkin full of candy. Hmmm....now I realize the real reason the neighbors were so willing to participate. :)

In all seriousness, it was an incredibly sweet and thoughtful gesture by our neighbors and a moment I will always treasure. Words cannot capture how special it was to watch my sweet girl enthusiastically running from one house to another as she tried to keep pace with the older kids. The energy, the fun and of course the candy! Halloween 2008 started off a little rough, but now I can happily close the door on this holiday.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My November Challenge

I decided to accept the NaBloPoMo challenge, which is to blog every day for one month. I know I am crazy, but I do love a challenge. Perhaps it is ill timing with how crazy our life is, but then maybe the insanity that is our life will give me plenty of material. I suspect some days the posts will be quite short like tonight and other days the words will flow more freely.

E alone can provide plenty of good content. In the span of a few seconds, she managed to utter some humorous gems this evening. As we were preparing to leaving the grandparent's house, Ella's boundless energy had her speaking in rapid, indiscernible nonsense. Remember Roger Rabbit, that was my girl tonight. Once her energy levels stabilized, she walked over to the front door, turned around and said, "Let's get out of here." Thank goodness her grandparents are so good natured. After all, they had spent the last 2 1/2 days spoiling her.

After that comment, I asked Ella if she remembered where she lived (we have been working on reciting our address). I so did not get the answer I expected. Instead Ella uttered, "daycare." While I chuckled, I did not find that comment as funny as the first. Love the working mom guilt.

More importantly, I love being back with my kids. It was a LONG weekend.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Halloween that Wasn't

I want a Halloween do-over. How I wished I had sweet, adorable photos of share of my little girl and boy enjoying Halloween 2008. Instead of spending Friday night trick-or-treating with my Minnie and monkey, we spent Halloween evening surrounded by doctors and nurses. Unfortunately, those fine people weren't in costumes as my mom landed herself in the ICU late Thursday and has yet to be sprung free.

So Friday morning, we raced around preparing for an unexpected road trip. We decided to leave the kiddos in the paternal grandparents' capable hands rather than dragging them with us. We dropped them off at daycare, so they could enjoy trick-or-treating in the federal building and their Halloween party. As usually, we were running way late, and Ella's class had already started t-or-t by time we arrived, so I pulled the costume over her head and ran her up to the 14th floor. As E & I are riding on the elevator, I realized in the chaos that Mike didn't get the chance to say goodbye to his little girl. I found her classmates and teachers, kissed her goodbye and made the trek back to the center. Mike had Sam dressed by the time I entered his room. I snatched him up and snuggled him for a very brief moment before it was his turn to pose for the camera. We waved goodbye to him and decided to track E down, so Mike could give his girl the proper goodbye. We found them filling their bags on the 15th floor. Ella gave both mom and dad big bear hugs. Content with our goodbyes, we called for the elevator, stepped in and turned around to see E run in front of the door. With a big smile on her face, she waved goodbye and blew us sweet kisses. The door slowly closed and the emotion as well as the elevator sunk. Mike and I turned to each other to see tears welling in the other. My sweet baby girl had never looked cuter. I so was not prepared for that type of emotional goodbye.

After a quick, speedy drive and a long afternoon in the hospital, Mike and I found ourselves alone on Friday evening. In our search for a kid-free restaurant (just too tough to be around lil ghosts and goblins), an unexpected detour took us smack through a neighborhood packed with kids. It was like we jumped in the rabbit hole. We frantically searched for the exit. As we drove in circles (it seemed), the pit in my stomach and the lump in my throat just grew. Maybe I was being a too melodramatic, but it was Halloween (our family LOVES the holiday and it was Sammy's first one, so emotions were running high).

We finally made it to our destination and buried ourselves in the bar. After a few beers and games of trivia, we managed to turn our frowns upside down. In all, it wasn't the night we wanted, but we managed to salvage it and create some good memories. We heard our kids also had quite the evening with grandma. While it didn't go according to our plan, it will go down in the books as the way we celebrated Halloween 2008.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween 2008


Halloween 2008
Originally uploaded by mbowling
In our house, the level of excitment over Halloween is definitely on par with Christmas. So much so, that the kids have the opportunity to wear their costumes no less than four times this year. At their ages, they don't NEED to trick-or-treat that many times, but c'mon nothing about Halloween is a need. Plus, our Minnie Mouse and monkey sure do look adorable.

We kicked off our Halloween festivities with our annual trek to "Boo at the Zoo. (Photos here). While it was a bit windy, the kids had a ball. Multiple trick-or-treating stands, a carousel ride, haunted pirate ship and a camel ride. We love Boo at the Zoo. It's a good reason to visit the animals and it gives the kids the opportunity to wear their costumes again. On Thursday, they will trick-or-treat at my work, and then on Friday they will go around the Federal Building before we hit the neighborhood. I can only imagine how much candy we will have!

Our little Minnie is so excited. She has the trick-or-treating part down, but we are still working on the whole waiting in line. Thinking that she takes after her mother!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Happy Boy


My Happy Boy
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Let me start by saying, I HATE house painting. All right, I don't hate it. I am just ready to be done with it. The sad part is I am not the one doing the painting. Mike has lived the past four, I think, weekends on a ladder slaving away on this undertaking. I am starting to see a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.

The house is looking quite good, but I want my husband back and I want some family time. I can't believe I am going to admit this, but I also would like time to clean my house. That is I want to clean my house without trying to entertain, feed and chase after two kids. Our house is a disaster and Mike and I are too tired at the end these long days to really care, so please no unannounced visits! While we would love to see our friends' sweet faces, I am willing to bet you wouldn't make it past the front door. It is a sad state of affairs and I have standards, not high ones, but standards nonetheless.

Enough about house painting! I came to the blog to write about sweet, sweet Sam. The boy is now 6 months. SIX MONTHS. Seriously, I have no idea how that happened. He is absolutely precious and so darn adorable. There is no general consensus on who he looks more like. Some neighbors say he looks just like Mike. A few comment that he looks more like his Uncle Scotty than his dad (ummm...okay). A few of my friends think he bears such a strong resemblance to his sister. Sam's doctor thinks he is a spitting image of me. As mom, I say he looks like Sam.

As for the boy, he is doing fabulous. He is a happy little man. He did wonderfully at his 6-month well visit. He weighed 18 lbs. 13 oz. He is long, but I can't remember his specific length. I remember he was in the 90 percentile for height and in the high 70s for weight. The doc was quite pleased with his progress and believes he is on track developmentally. I can't ask for anything more.

He endured his shots. E was a protective older sister. Once he started to cry after the first prick, she jumped down from the chair where she was reading a book and started caressing his belly. She tried to reassure him that it would be okay. Yet, this was the same girl that when asked about Sam by the pediatrician, she quietly answered, "he's good." It only took one more question before Ella blurted out, "He pulls my hair sometimes and it hurts." Such a sweet sister!

Sticking to the subject of Sam, he has one pearly white. It took FOREVER to pop through, but it is finally here and luckily without too much drama. The boy is so close to sitting up completely unassisted. He can manage for a few minutes before he tumbles over. He also is an inch worm and a mover. If laying on his back, the boy will dig in his heels and scoot away. It's too cute. His primary preferred method for moving is rolling in every direction. I give it a month before the child is mobile. He is already rocking on all fours. Too early for me son! We are in for some serious trouble!

While his general disposition is one of utter happiness, we did discover that Sam isn't so crazy about the bath tub. For convenience sake, Sam has taken a shower with dad ever since he had good head and neck control. We decided he needed some bath time exposure. The kid hated it. Listening to him shriek broke me heart. He screamed until I lifted him out of the tub. He must have a love of the water, so more baths are in his future. Sorry kid.

Overall, he is just positively adorable. That sweet smile melts me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Silly Siblings


Silly Siblings
Originally uploaded by mbowling
I have been trying to take a picture that captures how much my crazy kids adore each other. I haven't quite yet, but this one comes close.

Life as usually is busy, so no time to blog. Mike is spending the weekend painting, and I have been playing with the kiddos. Payton is hanging out with us today, and after lunch, we are off to the pumpkin patch. It should be interesting as I will be completely outnumbered, but Payton and Ella have promised that they will stay together. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 06, 2008

House Painting

Not done yet with the house painting. When we stopped yesterday, three sides of the house had two quality base coats. We have yet to touch the trim and the back of the house is a mess. Some day soon this will be completed. While I was happy to take a break from painting and resume my work life, I cannot yet see light at the end of the tunnel. Mike plans to resume his role as a house painter this Saturday. I hope he is able to make some great strides while I am keeping the little ones entertained and out of his way.

During this experience, I attempted to tackle my severe fear of ladders. I did spend some quality time on a sturdy extension ladder, and I was quite pleased with myself for stepping out of my box (as Mike says). However, it was a 10-foot step ladder that gave me my first panic attack. I can't recall what prompted me to absolutely freak out, but I started shaking and severely sweating. I found myself frozen in fear. Luckily, my hubby was around to coax me down.

I have decided that much like being a waitress, this is a task that every homeowner should undertake at least once in their life. Once this is completed, I have no plans to ever do it again!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Racing Hot Couple


Racing Hot Couple
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Aren't we cute with our Fanview headsets and our big smiles? See we really had a good time. This picture was fairly early in the race and you can already start to tell I am starting to ROAST.

Money Pit

Has it really been over a week since I blogged? Goodness, so much life has transpired since last Friday. Where to start?

First, I experienced my first NASCAR race last Sunday. I never had any real desire to go. I never thought you would ever find me at a race. However, I am always up for new adventures. I surprised myself by how much fun I had and by how much junk and alcohol I consumed in one day. (I haven't started drinking that early in the day since maybe Homecoming in college). Let's add sun to the list of items I overindulged. I came home one fried lobster. While I enjoyed the race and the entire atmosphere, what I did enjoy the most was how absolutely giddy Mikey was to have me there. He was so cute all day exclaiming how happy he was that I came along with him. I loved making him that happy.

I'll let Mike blog more about the actual race. Since he may never do that, I'll give a brief synopsis: beautiful weather, tailgating, tasty burgers, lots of beer and junk food, loud and fast cars, no major wrecks but a last-ditch gutsy finish by Mike's favorite driver, the 99 car driven by Carl Edwards who left it all on on the track in his attempt to pass the leader on the final turn. Unfortunately, it did not pay off with first place but did give the crowd a spectacular finish. Enough of my shoddy attempt at a sports recap.

House painting has been the other major adventure for us this past week. Mike and I took a break from our jobs, but trust me it hasn't been much of a vacation. We decided to tackle painting the exterior of our house. Oh vey! It has been so much more of an undertaking that we ever realized it would be. However, I think it certainly is one of those life experiences everyone should have. I know once the house is completely painted, we will see our home not that house we purchased. While we have made great strides to change the interior of the house, this is the first extensive exterior project for the house.

We are taking the house from a dreary, drab grey to an earthy green. This transformation has been significantly slowed down by the massive amounts of wood rot, some unexpected. Yesterday, we made the decision to sacrifice a window which was beyond
saving. Eventually, this project will be completed. Reinforcements are hopefully arriving today. With Mike and his dad being consumed with wood rot repair, I have been the primary worker bee applying paint to the house. If it continues, we may never get this house done. Thinking positively.

Neither Mike or I can say enough about Larry's help. I am sure when we offered his assistance, he did not anticipate driving to this work site for 8 straight days and many weekend days prior to this week. We are definitely at a loss for how to express our appreciation. Mike joking offered to repay him with a third grandchild. Um, that didn't get cleared by me!

I know one way I can help is by ending this post and getting outside for another great day of painting.

Friday, September 26, 2008

She's Home

She made it. She's back. It feels so good. I missed her laughter, her energy and her smiles. She saved her biggest greeting for Sam. It was so sweet.

Mike and I both think she has grown and changed. Her vocab was always extensive, but it seems even more so.

I am off to soak her up some more before I turn into mean mom and make her take a nap.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Together with Madison & Bailey

When I received this photo last night from my brother, I instantly got teary-eyed. I keep saying it, but I miss her! I am so happy that she is having a wonderful time. I am thrilled that she has not had a single meltdown about missing mommy, daddy or sammy. It just is so strange to me that my little one is so far away.

The week has been strange. I have to say I don't like this feeling of being lost or that someone is missing. I have loved giving Sam extra attention, and candidly it has been a nice break. Although, we haven't gotten out of the house any quicker in the morning nor have I accomplished all that I had hoped. We even reverted to some pre-child habits, as I had cereal for dinner. Ah, it was so easy and so quick!

In nearly 24 hours, my sweet girl will be back home. Momma is ready for that!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How many snaps does it take?

First, I miss my baby. I hear she is having a great time. Tonight, she got the chance to play with Bailey and Madison. The visit even included roasting marshmallows. I'm so jealous! I have the sweetest photo of the three of them, which I will try to post tomorrow.

Tonight, I'm sharing how many actual pictures I take in attempt to capture one good one. Below are a few from a series of pictures I took of my three favorite subjects. Personally, my favorite one is the third down. Ella has learned to roll her eyes as well as go cross-eyed. I suspect I will become all too familiar with the roll of the eyes as she gets older. I wish she hadn't learned it so soon.

Enjoy!





Monday, September 22, 2008

Whoa, what's this thing


Whoa, what's this thing
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Sammy, sammy, sam. My adorable little guy has the sweetest disposition and is usually full of the sweetest smiles. So what's up in his world? Well, he is now on veggies. The boy gets so excited once he sees the bowl of food. His little arms just start to flail. He has gobbled up a good variety of veggies and soon he will be moving to fruits.

The little man also made a new discovery in recent days. He found the pleasure of his hands. As you can tell from the picture, he loves to stare at his hand and wiggle his fingers. It's so adorable to watch him make that connection. I also noticed that more often than not it's his left hand that has him fascinated. I know, it's too early to determine hand preference, but secretly I know Mike is rooting for a lefty.

Words cannot accurately describe how wonderfully happy the little guy is and how much we are enjoying him. We are missing his sister. Instead of dwelling on the fact that she is not here, we are devoting extra time to loving on the little guy.

As for a report on E, she had a good day with grandma. I understand it was a day with no tears and lots of fun. She even accompanied grandma to the hair salon. Personally. I think my mom was crazy as to me it had disaster written all over it. Ella surprised me as she was fairly well behaved and cooperative. I'm glad she's having a good time, but we do miss her.

She Made It

Ella is safely at grandma's house. The trip took longer than expected as Ella needed numerous potty breaks, but they arrived eventually.

Departure time went fairly well. No tears on either end, but I did have to blink back a few tears. It helped that Sam needed a bottle and a nap, so really I didn't have time to dwell on her leaving.

Her itinerary is fairly packed during the next few days. I can't wait to hear about their adventures as she will be making a grand tour to visit numerous family and friends.

I will admit it is quite strange to be in the house without her energy and laughter. Rather than focus on what we are missing, we do plan to treasure this time with Sam and enjoy this little break. By Friday, I will be more than ready to have her back in my arms.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Week Without the Parents

I am shipping my child away. Okay, that's a bit of an over dramatic statement, but there is some truth to it. On Sunday, if all goes well, we will load Ella up in my mom's car, kiss her goodbye and watch her drive way. I will then spend the next 5 days anxiously awaiting her return, when my oldest brother will chauffeur her from Sioux City to Kansas City.

My hope is to keep the plumbing shut off at least until she is out of sight. While I get choked up the instant I ponder the difficulty of saying goodbye, I know I need to focus on how much fun she is going to have and not how much I will miss her. I don't question if she'll have a good time. I know she will. I also know this is quality time that she and my mom will always treasure. I also know in the grand scheme that five days isn't that long. With Ella gone, it gives Mike and I a break and allows us to focus just on Sam. I know all these things, but I still can't believe I am sending my baby away.

I know it's the right decision as the scenario came together so easily. I learned of Ella's eligibility to take a week of vacation from daycare (Loving that I get a week off from paying!). My mom needed to burn through some vacation time and had no real plans for that time. She scheduled a visit and my brother made plans to come the very next weekend. Not only did we have care for Ella allowing her to take a vacation from day care, but also Ella could make the trip without Mike or I having to do any driving. The planning was the easy part. The real difficultly for me is knowing I am four hours away from my baby if she would need me.

So, please think of me on Sunday and throughout next week. I will survive and Ella will have so much fun that she won't have time to miss me.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Need Your Money

I have no shame. I need your money. Well, actually Ella and Sam's daycare needs your money as does the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I already sent an email to a core group, but I figure I might as well post it to the blog as well.

Corporate Kids is once again selling cookie dough. The funds raised will be used to purchase education materials for the classrooms. For those that have already purchased, THANK YOU! If you purchased in the past and want to purchase some again this year, please let me know. Again, it's a box of 48 pre-portioned chunks of cookie dough for $14 a box. Flavors include: classic chocolate chunk, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, sugar delight, white chip macadamia nut, chocolate chip, double chocolate brownie, rainbow chocolate drop and snickerdoodle. 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!


We need to turn in order forms and money on Wednesday, Sept. 17. 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 like to donate to either of us, below are links to our individual pages. We always enjoy this family friendly walk and believe strongly in the cause. Recently, Mike's family was impacted by lymphoma, so this year it has a more personal significance.

http://www.active.com/donate/ltnShawne/2279_amac2221

http://www.active.com/donate/ltnShawne/2279_tvsmike

Thank you for your support!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Balance

Balance is the new word of my day, month, year and life -- at least for right now. I firmly believe that all moms, not just working moms, struggle with balance. I also believe the majority of us rarely achieve a regular, harmonious and continuous balance in our lives. Are there days when we (moms) feel like we are keeping our proverbial tray upright and steady? Of course. In those days, we feel strong, empowered and confident. Other days, we feel like we have two left hands, unable to meet any one's demands, needs or requests, much less our own. Right now, I feel like I am a clumsy waitress who is new on the job, and no matter how hard I try, I am failing miserably to satisfy anyone, and it's starting to exhaust me.

Some may say, if I didn't work, then I wouldn't have so much to balance. I disagree. I think while the plate of SAHMs may contain different items, all moms struggle with identity and the various roles we hold.

I love being a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, coworker, and ME. I most certainly do not want to relinquish any of those roles, so I figure I need to give myself a pass or perhaps lower my standards, neither which is likely. (Let's also not forget the importance of putting yourself first once in awhile.) It's hard when I feel like I'm not doing anything well. Do my husband and children know how incredibly crazy I am about them? Do I do enough to show them how special they are to me? Am I too serious? Have I forgotten how to let loose and let go? Do my friends know how much I miss them? There are so many friends I need to reconnect and meet up to hear how life is for them. (Thank god for facebook, twitter and blogs, so I at least am given a glimpse in their lives.) Can I get the resources necessary at work, so I don't feel like I am set up to fail? As with all my lists, this one goes on and on....

I know. I know. I will never be able to proudly announce that my life's to-do list is completed because life is a journey and blah, blah, blah. I get it. I need to be easier on myself, but right now I feel like I am on the right train, wrong track. I am desperately trying to get back on the right track, which brings me back to balance. I have no answer to this struggle. I do take solace in the fact that so many friends, other parents and coworkers struggle with balance. So for now, I pledge to focus on the things and those that matter most and to be easier on myself (which in itself, is a balancing act).

On a more upbeat note, today was my birthday and various friends and family members certainly made me feel special and loved. So tonight, those warm feelings and my hubby will lull me to dream land.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Royals Family


The Royals Family
Originally uploaded by mbowling
No time to blog. A picture from our evening at the Royals. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Movin' on Up

While it wasn't an official first day of school, for Ella, it might have been as she moved into a new room at daycare. She is no longer a Lion. As of yesterday, she became a Cheetah B and is now considered part of the big kids at the center.

We knew the move was coming. The center was waiting until the kindergartners had departed. Ella seems to have handled the adjustment fairly well. Mike said she was a little hesitant at drop off this morning. By time he peeked in on her after dropping Mr. Sam off, she was full of smiles. Her new teachers are Miss Emily and Miss Tiffany. I haven't gotten the opportunity to interact with them as they are early teachers at the center, meaning by 5 pm both are gone. The next time I swing through to see Sam, I hope to chat with them and get a better sense of the room and her new schedule. Of Ella's friends, a few made the move. I don't think Ava did since she is not completely potty trained. I hope she comes over soon as Ella talks about her all the time.

I know. I know. I say it repeatedly but my little girl is growing up too fast.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

All about Sam


Mommy, you so funny
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Seriously, I think I have the happiest baby. He is such a sweet little man. That smile, the giggles -- melts my heart. To boot, he looks so cute in his polo shirt.

What's new with the little guy? His menu isn't limited to just formula as we introduced cereal about a week ago. Rice cereal was not warmly received by Sam's digestive system, so this weekend we tried oatmeal. By the way he gobbled it up and then slept 10 solid hours, tells me it is definitely more Sam's taste.

As for development, the boy loves to roll, more from his back to front, but can get from his back to front if he really works at it. The boy loves the jumperoo. He gets to bouncing the minute his legs touch the ground. It helps tremendously having another entertainment center for him, especially while I am cooking each evening.

At his last doctor's appointment the boy was 16 lbs. 6 oz. The doctor's office has been a familiar spot of late. A few weeks ago he was battling a cough that wouldn't quit. Armed with an at-home nebulizer, the cough finally was defeated. Of course, all this happened just a few days before his well visit, which he passed with flying colors. Last week, he was back because daycare was worried that the projectile spit up could no longer be classified as routine, but it had moved into the category of vommiting. An eleventh hour doctor's visit, reassured us that he was just fine.

As much adoration that Ella pours over Sam, he gives it right back. The boy is all smiles anytime she comes near him. Knowing the love fest won't last forever, I am treasuring these peaceful, loving moments between the two kiddos.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gold Medal in Cuteness


Gold Medal in Cuteness
Originally uploaded by mbowling
The first thing I think when I see this picture is "Seriously, I share genes with this beautiful creature? Did I really bring the right child home with me two years ago?' Ah, I adore this sweet girl.

The medal around her neck came from daycare. The Olympics have been the theme for the past few weeks. Ella has been learning everything from the letter "O" to eating Chinese snacks, and at night she has been watching various events on tv. I have really enjoyed watching her take in the Olympics. She watches with such amazement and curiosity. Her favorites have definitely been gymnastics and swimming. She loves to mimic the gymnasts and each time she sees swimming, she asks to go to the pool.

The Olympics have definitely interfered with our productivity, but so has the fact that we've been on the road the past two weekends. This is one reason I haven't blogged much. There is quite a lot going on with us, but right now I am fighting to get Ella down for the night. So, look for other posts soon. Hopefully, there won't be too weeks between posts again.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Packing

I am certain that we must have forgotten something for our trek up north. Why am I so sure of this? Because it's 10:30 and we are in bed with the bulk of the suitcases packed. This is not our MO. We typically are up to the wee hours doing laundry and throwing random items in suitcases, and this was our standard approach before we had kids. I can't believe we are finished this early in the evening. I walked the house and checked out the rooms without sleeping children and didn't see anything glaring. I'm keeping my fingers crossed we are just prepared and not forgetful.

The reason for the trip: my cousin's wedding. I'm excited to let Ella bust her moves on the dance floor and to see my baby bro in a tux. Plus, this will be the first time that much of my extended family is getting to meet Sam. Let's hope for safe and fuss free travels.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I heart my kids


I heart my kids
Originally uploaded by mbowling
In all the craziness that is my life, my kids certainly keep my grounded and smiling. For now, all the worries I had about Ella accepting a sibling have subsided.

The girl is so sweet on Sam, and I love watching her interact with him. From the moment she wakes up, she needs to know where her Sammy is, and she loves to shower him with kisses. At pick-up at daycare, she tears through the hallway trying to get to him as fast as possible. Her enthusiasm and adoration of him is so precious. I'm not sure what good I did in an earlier life to be given these two wonderful creatures, but I'm so thankful for them.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Gift of a Bear

I am amazed at how in a span of 30 minutes my child can rebound from being a emotional, temper tantrum, piercing screaming toddler to an emphatic, loving daughter willing to share her best friend of the moment.

The other morning started off rather rough for us, but really which morning doesn’t. (As hard as we try to get Ella down before 9 pm, we almost never succeed. It’s tough convincing her that she needs to go sleep before the sun goes down.) Getting her to use the toilet or convincing her of that need was the initial battle lost. She wanted to get dressed first. I knew this was a bad idea but I didn’t have the energy or the time to throw myself into the ring on that one.

Getting her clothes on was a separate struggle. She refused any assistance, yet she was extremely frustrated with her t-shirt. She screamed for me to “get out and leave me alone” when I tried to enter her room. Somehow, her arm managed to maneuver into the sleeve of her shirt. I have no clue how that had happened as I had retreated to my bathroom to finish straightening my hair.

Next stop was the bathroom, my hope was going potty was the first task to tackle, rather Ella decided to combat her incredibly bad breath with brushing her teeth. The potty clock was clicking and I knew we were losing valuable seconds.

Without being allowed in, I listened for noises indicating progress. Drawer opened and slammed shut. Toothbrush set down on counter. Water turned on. I had a fleeting moment of hope that we may in fact get out the door, but it was quickly interrupted with sobs and cries of “mommy, I had an accident.”

After cleaning her and the bathroom floor, Mike stepped in and geared up to retackle the dressing situation. A lengthy battle ensued with floods of tears, screams, and pleas of cooperation. Somehow, we left the house with Ella in dry and clean bottoms and us licking our battle wounds.

In the car, we were blessed with the first few moments of quiet as none of us were sure what to say or do after such a draining morning. As we continued on, Ella seemed to emerge from her early morning persona into her usual inquisitive, loving self. Our conversation also picked up with her noticing passing cars and buildings.

As we approached my office building, I turned around and shared my hopes that she have a good day. I hopped out of the car while Ella was muttering a few words. Mike rolled down her window so I could hear her, and she quickly outstretched her arm. In her hand’s grasp was a pink, soft teddy bear who Ella had been cradling during the entire commute. She was trying to get me to take it.

I thanked Ella for her sweet gesture, but I assured her that she needed the sweet bear for the next few blocks more than I needed it for the rest of the day. Ella refused to accept my no. She said, “take bear and you have a good day.”

There was no denying her request. I grabbed bear, thanked Ella for being so thoughtful, and watched my car turn around the corner. I stood there for a few seconds enjoying the gift of love from my little girl.

After that, I was a little unsure of what to do with the bear as my work bag was out of space. Holding the bear, I stepped on the elevator to hear a man ask, “so what’s his name?” I chuckled and said, “I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask my daughter.” I was a bit embarrassed to be holding a stuffed animal but I was so appreciative of Ella because with such a simple sweet gesture, she managed to completely erase the drama of the morning.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sam I am


Sam I am
Originally uploaded by mbowling
What a handsome boy. Sam, my sweet, handsome Sam.

I promised myself that I would be asleep by now, and instead I'm writing this. When will I learn?

Tired, exhausted, sleep deprived, overwhelmed, dumfounded describes the past few days in the Bowling household, but it also has been fun. Today was all about the Ps -- Parks, Picnics, Pools and Payton. It was a good day with the minor exception of the incredibly large crowd at the pool. In addition to it being the hottest day of the summer, one of the Shawnee pools was closed thanks to some idiots who broke into the pool we typically frequent. One pool for the entire city, definitely not enough, but we still managed to have a good time.

Sam even dipped his toes in the water. He seemed rather indifferent about his experience.

Overall, the boy is doing well. His torticollis is improving. He was evaluated by a PT, who described it as a minor condition and gave us exercises. He tolerates them as much as he does tummy time. The boy is rolling from his back side to his tummy. He hasn't gone the other way yet.

As for sleep, he is up and down. Some nights, we're up a few times just to reswaddle him and pop in the pacifier. Other nights, he needs a little more comfort and possibly a diaper change and/or a bottle. He is battling a little nasal congestion, so sleep has not come easily for him these past few nights. All the more reason, I should be asleep.

My parting thought, can someone tell me why my lovely daughter who rarely has had an accident since she started wearing underwear a good month ago, has had multiple, multiple accidents these past few days? I really am frustrated and clueless as to why she has regressed.

With that, I'm going to bed.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Slugger, not my friend


Slugger, not my friend
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Forcing my child to take a picture with the Royals mascot is certainly not going to earn me the parent of the year award. In my defense, she asked that we wait around and get a picture with him. Poor Ella instantly started to cry when Slugger invaded her personal space. But she was the one who couldn't wait to see him, and we had waited 15 minutes for our turn. Luckily the tears only lasted a few brief seconds. I hope I didn't scar her. I guess we'll know when we attend our next Royals game. Honestly though, doesn't every parent have a similar picture in their collection of photos?

We managed to squeeze in a lot this weekend -- hanging with family, baby shower, birthday party, haircuts for three out of the four of us, playing at the park, Royals game and we even enjoyed one meal outside. I'm so not ready to it to be Monday tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lack of Pictures


Messy Chocolate Face
Originally uploaded by mbowling
Sadly, this series of pictures is all I have to remember our Fourth of July holiday. (This is Ella enjoying the chocolately goodness of scotcharoos.) We thought we packed the camera, believed it had made its way into the car, once at camp site couldn't find the camera, searched car to no avail, figured we walked off without it, finally found as we packed the car to leave camp site. It's par for the course with us lately.

Oh, how will I ever remember what a great weekend it was. Ella created so many special memories with her cousins. How I wish I could show her photos of that special time to help her lock in those memories. Maybe Zoopra9457 will come to our rescue. hint...hint....

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Camping Survival

We survived. I still haven't decided which side of the crazy/adventurous fence that we ended on, but we did create plenty of memories -- the smores, the night terrors, the need for cow bells and me sharing my breakfast with the chrome RV bumper.

Before I relive the regurgitation of my breakfast, I will reminisce on the food that remained in my stomach. Two years had past since I had my last smore. With the long wait over, I was more than ready to give my taste buds and stomach this gooey sweet treat. I promised myself that I would not let another summer pass by without one passing through my lips.

I am particular about the color and texture of the marshmallow blessed to melt and connect the sweet chocolate with the graham cracker. As much as I wanted to savor the yummy treat, I had to burn and waste a few before I finally had perfection -- a toasty brown and warm marshmallow. My patience paid off. Ah, so very tasty and such a classic camping treat.

If I only knew it would have been the last food particle to remain in my stomach, I might have savored it a bit more. Saturday for me wasn't as good as Friday. While the highlight of Friday was regaining my ski legs after two attempts, Saturday's highlight was laying in the tent tearing through a book (which I finished by the end of today. I can't even remember when I started and finished a book in the same weekend.)

Why did I have so much time to lounge around the tent reading a book? Somehow, somewhere I caught a nasty stomach bag. I was least miserable laying down, so I spent the day in the tent on the air mattress, napping and sleeping. Thankfully, it was a cool day with intermittent rain. My simple activity cycle continued off and on until late afternoon. When upon viewing the raw fish slated for that's night dinner, my breakfast opted to reappear while standing outside the RV. Like everyone, getting sick is not my idea of a holiday but it's compounded by the difficulty of finding privacy in a row of portable houses. Throwing up in the RV was so not an option, and I knew I couldn't made it to the bath house, which left me with no other alternative than to hold on the RV and lean forward. With an acidic after taste, I tunneled back to the tent for more rest.

While right now my bout with the bug is the primary low light of the weekend, we did have plenty of highlights which I believe over time with trump any sickness memories. Those sweet memories will have to shared another day as sleep beckons.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th

Either we are crazy or adventurous, maybe a little of both, but Mike is finishing pack the car and then we are off to spend the 4th at the lake camping. Even our tent is in the back of the car, and yes both kids are coming with us. Sam will be sleeping in L&G's RV, while Ella will have the option of the tent or the RV. She seems excited for her trip to the lake. She helped mom make some scotcharoos, complete with licking the bowl, and even selected which clothes and babies would come with us.

These past few weeks at Ella's daycare have centered around camping. They started learning about different bugs then picnics and the food consumed at picnics and then ended with the finer art of camping. To continue the theme, they even had a tent set up in their room complete with plastic bugs and story time was by flashlight. After surviving this weekend, the girl will have certainly earned her camping badge.

I suspect we'll have wonderful hair brained stories, which someday we'll say are fond memories, to share. My hope in all this chaos is to build a sandcastle with Ella, attempt to water ski after a 4 year hiatus, and enjoy the tasty gooey sweetness of a smore. Ah, I can't wait.

Happy 4th of July, and happy birthday to Mr. Comer.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Potential Blog Topics

A little gem from Ella as we were enjoying popsicles the other evening on our front lawn:

Mike: "Ella, if any pieces fall to the ground, they are icky. You can't eat them."
Me: "Yea Ella, we'll let the grass eat them."
Ella: "Mom the grass don't have mouths."

I love two-year old logic.

I know the frequency of the posts has dwindled. Sorry is all I have. If I had more time, here are some topics I would love to blog about:

*Dating my daughter -- In one week span, I got two precious dates with my sweet Ella. One was a special mommy/daughter play date at the pool and the other was attending Payton's ballet recital together, such a wonderful experience for the two of us and a very precious memory for me. How I can't wait for her to experience the Nutcracker when she is older.

*Sam and tortocollis or stiff neck syndrome -- Doc had some concerns, so we were referred to a state infant service program. We had the initial consult and a physical therapist will be coming out to do a complete evaluation. Luckily, it appears to be a mild case.

*My brother's KC visit and our trip to Oceans of Fun -- Fun and exhausting is how I would describe our time with my brothers, Holly, Bailey and Madison. Ella LOVED Oceans. Mike and I were amazed at how well the girl did and how long she lasted without a meltdown. The best part was after we left the park as Ella sat in the backseat eating a PB&J. She was fighting the overwhelming exhaustion with every fiber of her being. Her stomach had to be in charge at that moment. She sat with her eyes tightly shut, her head resting on the side of her car seat and her hands gently cradling her dinner. As tired as she was, she found enough energy to lift the sandwich to her mouth and chew the food. I've never seen someone eat in their sleep. So precious.

*House Disaster -- Will my house ever be clean again? Will I ever make it a priority? Given the choice between sleep and cleaning, I'll choose sleep .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

First Day of School

One day down. Sam and I survived, and luckily we both had fairly good days.

I relinquished drop off duties to Mike. This way my warped mind didn't envision my kids at daycare, but rather hanging out with their ever-so sweet and ultra-cool dad. Reality sunk in when I decided to swing through for a visit. While I loved seeing his face, I was doing fine, emotionally, until I walked in his room.

He had just finished a bottle. I instantly scooped him up and took up residency in the rocking chair. Sam and I spent 30 precious minutes just staring at each other. He generously gave me lots of beaming smiles, and the more he smiled, the larger the lump in my throat grew. I had to fight hard to contain the tears. I knew if one tear fell the ugly cry wasn't far behind, and no one wants or needs to see that. As I held him, I tried to play the positive internal monogolue that each day will get easier, that he is in good hands, he will eventually adjust and thrive in this new environment, etc. I half believed myself, at least enough to prevent me from grabbing him and running out the door with no real destination in mind.

When I stood up to leave, Sam made sure I couldn't forget him as he ended up sharing part of his lunch with my new cute brown sweater. I carried a piece of him and that lingering smell for the rest of the day. Thankfully tomorrow is Friday.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Random Thoughts


Nike Sam
Originally uploaded by mbowling
This photo is for my brother Justin -- hope you enjoy it. I know Sam is making you proud, but he wants to know where his hat is?

As for us, we are trying to squeeze in as much summer fun as we can before Thursday, which is why I haven't blogged much lately. The past few days have been a whirlwind of pool visits, trying new parks, christening our neighborhood's new park, playing with Grandma Pam, picnics, dance recitals, dinner at Fritz's, field trip to DeAnna Rose, etc. Even with these activities, our pace has still been leisurely and fun.

As for me, I'm trying to block out that in two days I return to the corporate world. Sadly, what is one of my biggest worries: what will I wear to work. Pathetic, I know. I thought for sure I would have lost more weight by now, but I haven't, nor have I put forth much effort to try. Guess, I thought it would magically float off, just another breastfeeding myth. Since I don't plan to stay my current size for much longer, the debate is how much clothing should I purchase to get me through the short term. Add to that our budget for clothing and my over abundance of time for shopping means my co-workers can expect to see me donning the same outfits for the next few weeks.

Back to work worries. Of course, I have concerns about projects and the adjustment for both the kids and me. In some ways, it's like starting a new job, but at least I know where the bathroom is and the personalities of the major players. Guess that gives me a slight leg up.

Two days. Two precious days. I plan to make the most of it.