Sunday, December 13

Kate's first dance performance

We spent a good portion of the last two days preparing for and attending a dress rehearsal and performance (at the mall, the second Saturday before Christmas...) for Kate's dance class. Thankfully this dance studio is not terribly serious about performances - they are not mandatory and neither are any rehearsals. They allow the girls to get out of it what they put into it and the kids seem to be put first. I have really been pleased with the studio and the teachers. It has made this first experience with dance pretty painless as I never took dance and to say that the whole scene is very new to me would be an understatement. That said, I don't think Kate is really cut out for dance. She seemed pretty bored throughout most of the semester and would only half-heartedly participate. She did, however, reportedly enjoy the first 5-10 minutes of class which were spent in free play in the gym room complete with a trampoline. Her performance yesterday was her best effort yet. Don't get me wrong, Kate loves to dance. At home. With her own moves. She just didn't seem to enjoy the tedious task of learning choreography. At any rate, those of you who care can check out the performance right here.

Friday, December 4

Owen is two!!

Owen celebrated his second birthday this week. I'm finding it hard to believe that he's really not a baby any more! It seems like it's taken Owen a lot longer to grow out of the baby stages than it took Kate. Maybe that's the boy/girl difference. Maybe it's just Owen. Anyway, he's such a big boy now (and he is a BIG boy - all 29 pounds of him!). He's doing great in all aspects. He loves going to Mothers Day Out and does really well there. He loves music/singing/dancing. He has several toys that play music and sometimes he will remove his hearing aids to hold the music right up to his ear. And he'll listen for a LONG time! It's so cute to hear him sing! His favorites right now are ABCs, Old Macdonald, and Do You Know the muffin Man (my personal favorite to hear him sing!). He also loves his big sister and his DADDY! Everyone loves Daddy and it's giving Mommy a bit of a complex... Oh well.

Anyway, back to the birthday. Owen's birthday fell on Monday, but Mondays are pretty busy here with MDO and Kate's dance class, plus I have an standing commitment at church that fell on that evening. So, we celebrated on Sunday instead with Nana and Grandfather. They came over and enjoyed some cake and ice cream (made with love by Mommy and Kate) and opening of presents. I've posted a few pictures so you can see how big he is!

Happy Birthday, little Owen!!

Monday, October 5

A few pictures from a fun day

Yes, I have children, though you may have forgotten what they look like as I haven't posted pictures in a long while. Here are a few I took of the kids playing at Nana and Grandfather's house the other day. Kate asked if we could go visit them after school, so we just popped over to play for a little while (this is still very novel to me!). It was one of those beautiful early fall days when you can't get enough of the gorgeous weather and the kids had a blast playing outside. Owen especially loves the playset and climbs all over it by himself. Which reminds me, he no longer needs physical therapy! He had reached all of his goals and completed his last session last week. Wednesdays are now our FREE DAY!

Tuesday, September 29

Deceptively Delicious?

There was a huge bin of bargain books at Kroger yesterday and I couldn't help but dig through it for a little while. Actually, what caught my eye was Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook called Deceptively Delicious priced at just a few dollars. If you haven't seen or heard of this, Mrs. Seinfeld (yes, Jerry's wife) has found ways to sneak vegetables into meals to get her kids to eat more healthfully. It's an interesting idea, has anyone tried this? She still puts plain vegetables on their plates as well, so they still have to eat vegetables knowingly to learn to make healthy food choices. The book is full of recipes for kid-friendly foods to which she has figured out what kind of vegetable purees can be added that don't detract from the flavor. For a few dollars, I was willing to check it out and possibly give it a try (though probably not until I get a food processor - I'm thinking Christmas present...).

Thinking about the author made me feel pretty inadequate. She (supposedly) stumbled on this idea while making food for her baby - something I never felt quite convicted enough to trouble with. The baby she talks about is her third - I am having a hard enough time getting a meal on the table with two kids - we won't go into whether it's a healthy meal or not. She purees vegetables and makes homemade meals AND has made them enough times that they have been taste-tested enough to put in a book. Oh yeah, and she wrote a book! With three kids! And a famous, probably very busy husband! Do you think she actually wrote it?

Well, the kids are awake now (they actually slept in while Daddy is out of town - thank you, God!!) and I need to go pour some cereal. I wonder what puree could be added to that... :)

Monday, September 28

A Couple Pictures from the Summer

To follow up on Angela's last post, here are a couple pictures from the summer that I had on my phone. Enjoy.

Angela's Birthday
Kate helping to pack for the big move this summer.
Angela and James at King's Island on the Middle School End of Summer trip.
Owen and Kate at Nanna and Grandfather's house.

Thursday, September 24

Catching up!

Since the last post here, we have sold a house, bought a house, moved, unpacked, gone on a youth mission trip and a youth end of summer trip, celebrated two birthdays, started Mothers Day Out (BOTH kids this year), had a garage sale, got sick and recovered - mostly. Whew! Is it any wonder I haven't posted in two months? Please hang in there and I'll try to post some pictures (if I can find any - I haven't taken many with all that's been going on). I'll also post some pictures of our new house soon! I wanted to wait until there were at least no more boxes lying around, but I think we've now unpacked them all so stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 21

Louisiana Ramblings

I just got back from a short trip to Louisiana to meet up with my parents who were bringing a trailer load of stuff back from my late grandparents house. As usual, being down there was like being in another world for me. It is so different being in that environment, rural deep south, when I spend so much time in suburbia and in an office/laboratory environment at work. It was good to get away for a short time, although I missed my wife and kids, and spend time with extended family.

Angela told me I should do a blog post on the things I saw while I was down there that were out of the ordinary (which in Louisiana can be quite a lot) and other observations from my trip. So here it goes.

As I was flying into New Orleans and as we were driving around the Baton Rouge area I noticed that there were still a lot of the "blue tarps" covering roofs, remnants of Katrina still prevalent.

The grocery store is always fun in Louisiana. You can get all kinds of goodies ranging from Zapps potato chips, to andouie sausage and boudin, to Community Coffee, to fresh pralines. But I saw something new this time. On the end of an aisle in Walmart (where you usually see something that is on special or something that is being pushed as new) they had a whole display of gallon jars of "pig lips". From what I could tell, I have to assume that this was pickled pig jowls. I also learned through a visit to a local "meat shop" that you can make something from about every part of a pig.

Coming from SEC country and with the rising storm for Volunteer football in the air right now, I had to take a picture of this. In case you can't tell it is a port-a-potty that was purple and gold (LSU colors) provided by "Tiger Toilets". My comment when I sent the picture to Angela was that LSU football must be going to ****.

I think I gained 10 pounds during my three day stay in Louisiana thanks to my Uncle's great cooking. I enjoyed such delicacies as deep fried chick-ka-bobs, smoked chicken, jambalaya, fresh eggs from the chickens out back, and stone ground grits from the mill in the garage.

You can buy fresh shrimp, some so big they defy the name shrimp, at numerous places along the side of the road in Baton Rouge and the surrounding area, but you can't pay by credit or debit card. Cash or food stamps only...

When you are out in the country, nobody is in a hurry to do anything...

Friday, July 17

Moving and meanness

I can never get myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour when James is out of town. I don't know what's up with that, but since I'm up, I thought I'd post about what's going on around here. We have a closing date of August 7 for both houses, so we'll be moving in the next few weeks. I'm slowly coming to grips with this fact. I've been so caught up in the contract negotiations/repair negotiations/repair scheduling - you get the picture - that I think I've been in denial about the actual physical process of moving and what that will entail. As of right now, we have two boxes packed. Luckily, we're moving literally two miles away, so it shouldn't require great effort in packing, but we still have to get everything out of here. I see a garage sale in our future... My mom and sister-in-law will be coming next week to help, so we'll hopefully get a good bit done then. I'm going on a mission trip with the middle school youth from our church the last week of July, so that's going to put a crunch on the moving schedule. But, at least we have made all of the repairs to our house, so we can just focus on the moving part now.

Today I completed my jury duty commitment. I had to call in every day for the past two weeks to see if I would have to report the following day. I know, good timing on the part of Knox County. I was sweating it a few days while having to schedule repairmen to come to the house. Today was the last day of my commitment and I almost forgot to call in. I actually did have to report today and, of course, the appraisal of our house had been scheduled for this morning. James stayed home in the morning to get the kids and dogs out of the house during the appraisal and I found a sitter for the afternoon, but I ended up getting home before the appraiser was even finished. They chose the jury members alphabetically from the list and didn't make it to H. It wasn't an interesting case anyway.

James decided today to go to Louisiana to help his parents go through some of the things in his grandparents' house. I mean he decided today and left - today! It was very uncharacteristic of him, but I think he'll be glad he went. I'm sure going to miss him. Tomorrow is his day off, so he was going to spend time with Kate while I took Owen to speech and I was looking forward to not having to take her with me. Ok, I was looking forward to some interference! She's been pretty tough to handle lately. She has a bit of a bad attitude and can be pretty rude and disrespectful toward me (I haven't seen her do this to James). But, she and I tend to go through spells like this once in a while, so I just have to TRY to keep my cool while letting her know what's what! Yesterday, I took the kids to open play time and gym bugs, out for dinner to Chik-fil-A with ice cream afterward, and then to the play area at the mall. After all that, she had the nerve to tell me I am a "mean, mean woman" when we had to leave to go home. I don't even know where she learned that phrase! She has been having us play the parts of Cinderella and the wicked step-mother a lot lately... hmmm...

Well, I had better head to bed if I don't want to be a mean, mean woman tomorrow! Maybe one of these days I'll get some more pictures on here.

Saturday, July 11

My sweet little boy

Owen is finally starting to walk! He started about a week ago walking between me and his Nana as we sat on the floor. He likes to walk around holding someone's finger, but he can take several steps on his own. Yesterday, he walked from me in the living room to Kate who was in the kitchen, about fifteen feet away, with a right turn at the end!! And he can go from sitting to standing by pushing off of the floor (without climbing up furniture or someone's leg). He still doesn't choose walking as his primary means of getting from point A to point B, but he does like to show that he can do it, and it's all much closer to the real thing. I'm so excited! I am keeping in mind that he army-crawled for two or three months before he crawled on his hands and knees, so it could be a while before he wants to walk all the time, but we seem to be on our way.

There's more to this story, though. Since he's not walking, we got a referral for a physical therapy evaluation at the Children's Rehabilitation Center (part of our beloved Children's Hospital) and they decided he needs some braces for his feet/legs. His right foot has always turned out at the ankle and the left one does slightly, causing him to walk in he insides of his feet. It doesn't seem to be the reason for his not walking, but it's not helping and could cause trouble with his knees and hips if not corrected. So, our next adventure is to get him fitted for and then wearing DAFO (dynamic ankle foot orthosis) braces. These braces are made of plastic and foam (with a choice of colors and patterns) and are fitted to his feet and legs. He'll also have weekly physical therapy to help strengthen his legs and core and to improve his balance. I keep updates posted as to how this all goes.

Saturday, July 4

Angela the Juggler's Assistant (or her impression of the statue of liberty)

For the past two years we have gone to a July 3rd festival that is held at a local church. They have games for the kids to win little prizes, hand out little American flags, have inflatables for the kids to jump on, and hand out watermelon. The night culminates in a traditional fireworks display, like any good July 4th (or 3rd in this case) celebration should.

Anyway, they also have some entertainment with music groups on a main stage and a side stage where we have enjoyed the jugglers for the last couple years. I am not big on jugglers, but this one who is there every year is quite entertaining and Owen seemed mesmerized by him this year. So we all ended up sitting in the grass watching him for a while between waiting in line for Kate to jump on the inflatables and walking around the games. This year though was extra special as Angela got called up on stage to be the assistant during the flaming baton juggling extravaganza. It was definitely worth it to watch Kate's face as mommy helped the man with the flaming batons.

Monday, June 29

This Could Be Our Future

We have been looking for a while to move to West Hills, a nearby neighborhood where we would be within walking distance from the elementary school and the park. This is a neighborhood of 50's era houses, many of them ranches (like the one we are trying to purchase), where everyone knows their neighbor (we actually know the neighbor of the house we are looking at) and kids play in the front yard while the parents sit on the front porch. It makes me nostalgic for a simpler life of the past just thinking about it.
Anyway, our current house went under contract tonight and we have a verbal agreement on a house in West Hills contingent on the sale of our current house. Now we just have to make it through home inspections on both houses, loans going through, appraisals coming out right and the rest of the stuff that goes with home sales.

Friday, June 12

Summer is here!

Don't miss the previous post just below this one.

Somehow, between visitors in May, getting ready for vacation, and trying to buy a house/get ours on the market, I forgot that June was on its way and with it comes summer - meaning endless empty days needing to be filled with activities planned by ME! Not that this is a bad thing, it just requires some effort and thinking ahead. So, I spent the other day making a list of things we can do every day that are either free or pretty cheap. Yesterday morning I attempted to take the kids to one of these super fun planned activities (indoors, as it was threatening rain) only to be misled by incorrect information on the web. We were going to try open play time at Gym Bugs only to find it closed that day. We headed over to Smart Toys instead just to look around and play a little and found that we were there in time for their weekly storytime. We sat in on that for a while until Owen got bored. We all ended up having a good time despite our initial disappointment. The afternoon still seemed to drag by, but that's just the way it goes sometimes.

Backing up, yes, our house is on the market. It's a long story including a great house that we put an offer on hours after someone else. But, it got us set in motion and it is a great time to buy, if you can find what you want. Selling, however, is another matter. Our house has been on the market for three weeks now and we haven't had one showing. Our realtor was also in the hospital for a bit of that - it's been a crazy ride so far!

Our garden is coming along. I think we have a few plants that are usurping all the sun/water/nutrients and leaving the others a little weak, but it's interesting to watch things take off. We've been enjoying some tasty salads with our lettuce, which I expect to bolt soon due to the warm weather. Kate even tried the lettuce from the garden! She'll be the first to tell you she doesn't like "salad", but she said she liked it. You can see a small speck at the corner of her mouth as proof that she tried it. :)

More vacation photos

I didn't take very many pictures over vacation. We usually had our hands pretty full either with Kate in the water or making sure Owen was entertained. One beach day we somehow left the camera in the car and it had been such a trek that we didn't want to go back for it (too bad, because Fort De Soto was a beautiful beach). We saw people with wagons carrying either the stuff or the kids - we had to carry stuff and a kid and it was pretty rough! We might invest in a beach wagon next time! Once we were on the beach we stayed for a while. Nonetheless, we had a fabulous time at the beach and the pool (which was about 100 feet from our door) and we'll have more fun biking, kayaking, visiting parks, etc. as the kids get older. Great job on the condo, Grandma!! We can't wait to go back!

The pictures from this post and the previous one were of our first beach day at Honeymoon Island. This is how crowded the beach was that day (Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend and one of the first sunny days in a week).

And that's at a paid access State Park! I can't imagine how crowded it must have been down in Clearwater! This beach was still very nice, despite the crowds! Our beach neighbors offered me use of their chair and umbrella while Owen took a nap. We had a nice conversation while he snoozed (and we got an umbrella and a chair for our next beach day!).

When she wasn't in the water riding the waves, Kate was busy playing in the sand. I don't remember what she was doing here...

James was very proud of this tower Kate engineered out of beach rocks with mortar of sand and grass...

The pool was a great place for Kate and Owen to play. It had a nice surrounding ledge and shelf and really wide steps so Owen could just cruise in or out of the water!

We didn't have to worry about that one jumping in! I just noticed that he always had one hand on the top ledge. Oh, and this was our last day, so this was AFTER he had built up his confidence. A very cautious kid, that one!

I forgot to mention that we pretty much had the pool to ourselves most of the time, save a few sunbathers. It was so nice! Maybe we can sneak in one more week at the end of the summer...

Wednesday, May 27

Greetings from Florida

Just wanted to get a few pictures up from our time this week in Palm Harbor, Florida. We are having a great time hanging out at the beach, the pool and the condo. We have been to two beaches at local county parks (their county parks are nicer than a lot of our state parks) - Honeymoon Island and Fort Desoto and to the pool numerous times which is only steps from our front door. We also found a great playground at another nearby county park.

Wednesday, May 20

Say Ahhhh!

Get this...




How cute is that?

Wednesday, May 13

Instructions For a "Modern" Wife

A friend sent me this so I thought I would share it. I figured most of the people who read this blog would appreciate it. Notice this is from a women's magazine in May 1955, wow how times have changed. I would like my wife and children prepared for my arrival though (clean, refreshed, with fresh make-up, ribbons and bows in their hair). Actually, the picture looks a lot like my family when I come home from work.
Note: If you click on the image it will bring it up bigger so you can read it.

Friday, May 8

No new doctors!

I took Owen to see an Orthopedic doctor yesterday. His feet turn out when he stands so that he stands on the inside of his feet and his pediatrician wanted to get that checked out. She called it "severe out-toeing". Anyway, I was preparing myself for the worst. This is about the fifth specialist referral we've had. But, the doctor looked at Owen for about 15 seconds and said he just has "very flat, very flexible feet." No need for any special shoes or even a follow up appointment! He told me that we didn't gain a doctor and I told him, no offense, but we really didn't need another one. Seriously, the doctor was probably in the room for about 3 minutes. It was so refreshing to hear that nothing needed to be done! He also said that his flat feet should have nothing to do with the fact that he's not walking.

No more excuses, buddy! Let's get moving!

Tuesday, April 28

Hooray for McKay's!

I think one of the best parts of living in Knoxville has GOT to be McKay Used Books and CDs. I can shop there for free! I actually don't remember the last time I spent money in there. I always have credit from selling books, movies, or CDs and am pretty good about keeping my purchases under the amount I have in credit. My mom even brings books from Illinois everytime she comes and trades them in there! Anyway, as with any used book store, you don't always find what you're loking for, but the hunt is always part of the fun for me. Plus, it makes it that much more special when you DO find what you're looking for. Today I went in looking for movies for Kate. We're going to Florida next month and I thought I'd start looking for some new movies now. I found three movies for her that I've been looking for for a while. I thought I might have to pay a little but I ended up coming under my credit amount by $2! I found the cheap version of the Tinkerbell movie (You know how they add extra features to movies and charge $10 more? I hate that! What 3-year-old cares about the extra features?), the Curious George movie, and the Leap Frog Storybook Factory to follow up Kate's beloved Letter Factory. They're in a bag in my closet waiting for their debut on our long car ride. I don't know why I'm so excited about this but sadly I think it made my day. Making my kid happy and doing it for a bargain - does it get any better?

Monday, April 27

Great weekend!

Last week was really busy on top of recuperating from the illness we all had the week/weekend before. In addition, we planned a busy weekend. It wasn't that busy, but there was lots of playing outside in the fantastic weather with a big event planned each day. Saturday was the Rossini Festival downtown. We took the kids downtown around 5:00 and stayed until 8:00. We walked up and down Gay Street and checked out all the wares for sale, we shared pasta, pizza, tiramisu and ice cream, we played in Krutch Park, and walked around Market Square. Kate was so filthy when we got home that her bath water that night left a ring of brown in the tub - gross! Sunday, the kids woke up early (of course - what else do kids do when they've played too hard the day before?), we went to church, took quick naps and then headed off to a friend's birthday party where we all played outside for a few hours. James and I got the kids to bed early last night and ordered a pizza, which we ate outside on the deck to enjoy the perfect weather.

We all had a great weekend, but now we're going to take it easy for a few days then get the house tidied up for company. James's parents are coming Thursday night for the inspection of the home they have under contract in Knoxville. They'll be staying at La Quinta because Hotel Hemrick is booked. My parents are coming on Friday night and staying this weekend and next weekend with travels to Alabama in between. I can't wait until we head to Florida the last week of this month where we plan to do nothing but play on the beach and in the pool. Ok, we might sneak a day trip in there somewhere... but there will be plenty of relaxing! While we're gone, James's parents will be closing on their house in Knoxville and gearing up to move mid-June! Look out Knoxville!

Here are a few pictures from this weekend and a few of the garden taken last weekend. It's no Mustaleski Farms (my friend Rebekah's garden is a huge tract of ridiculously beautiful cultivated earth - no red clay or chert in sight and big enough for their entire neighborhood!), but it will get us started.

Thursday, April 23

Owen's Pharmaceuticals

Owen is taking a crazy number of medications right now. Some are permanent, some temporary, some new, some he has taken for a while. Owen had three doctor appointments in the last 8 days and the medications varied from appointment to appointment, so you should have heard me trying to stumble through the answer to "Is he taking any medications?" yesterday. It's not like they're all 1/2 tsp doses, either. We have asthma medications that are measured in number of puffs and number of times per day. We have drops to put in his ears. We have medications given by dropper (different dosages at different times of day). And we have granules to mix in with a little bit of food. And all of this information is only in my head. I should probably write it all down for James so he could have a clue of what Owen needs if I'm not around (whenever that might be) but I would probably need a day planner to do it. It's not helping that Owen just decided that he doesn't like to take medicine by a dropper any more. We've never had any trouble before...

So why all the medicine? He has been taking asthma meds for a while now and there was actually talk of getting him off those after the winter, but then spring came (or bloomed) and now he has a 'sinus' infection (probably triggered by allergies), which has triggered a blocked ear tube and more asthma symptoms. I say 'sinus' because that's what the ENT called it, but the pulmonology NP told me children this small don't actually have sinuses yet. Whatever it is, hopefully we can get rid of the infection with this round of antibiotics and maybe the allergy symptoms will subside soon too. Owen's ENT doctor said it is a "miniscule percentage" of kids who block their SECOND set of tubes after an adenoidectomy. That's my boy! What he was trying to say was that the blocked tube was caused by the 'sinus' issue, not his ears by themselves. Let's hope springtime will not always be this complicated in the future!

Not that any of this is a huge deal, but on the positive side, the nurses at the pulmonology office rock! They gave us free samples for three different medications (and would have given us a fourth if they hadn't run out)! And they said to ALWAYS ask for samples because they know how expensive it is on private insurance. I came home with a bag full of free medicine! Add that to the samples the pediatrician gave us and we shouldn't have have to pay for any prescriptions for a couple months!