Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Stink for Halloween

Growing up Halloween was a big deal in our house. My parents would decorate with pumpkins, gourds, and a hay bail with a homemade scarecrow. On the night of trick-or-treating our house was known on our street to be the "spooky" house - the porch was decked out in orange lights, spider webs, flying bats and hanging skulls. And as my dad, who was dressed up as a swamp man, sat obscurely on the porch ready to scare the bejesus out of the neighbor kids, there would be eerie music playing in the background.

I have many memories from Halloween: carving pumpkins and baking the seeds, looking forward to the popcorn balls that a certain towns person made, and dumping out all of our candy as soon as we walked in the door to assess our success. My most favorite Halloween memories though, are of the various costumes I had throughout the years. My parents made most of our costumes and I love rummaging through old pictures to look at them. Little Bo Peep, Raggedy Ann, an elf, a butterfly, a sack of potatoes, and a #5 playing card were just a few. Before Collin and I were even thinking about children I was already talking about making their Halloween costumes.

So, this weekend my mom loaded up her sewing machine and came up to help me start working on Keaton's costume. It has been so long since I've sewed anything so I was very nervous and very excited. We didn't get it completed, but we got a good start AND I got to cross off one of the things on my Soul in the Season list: try my hand at sewing again.

Here is a sneak peek at the costume; can you guess what Keaton is going to be for Halloween?

Look! I'm freaking SEWING!!

Do you have any favorite Halloween memories? What are your kids going as this year?

[Edited to add: Earlville peeps, we're coming down Halloween weekend. If anyone is going to be around let us know, we'd love to see you!]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cabin addition: Progression in Pictures (Part 2)

We made two more trips up to the cabin this summer since the last time I posted. On the to-do list for both of these trips was siding.

August 11-16

There is little debate in my family as to whether this is the front or the back of the cabin, but whatever, they started with the side viewed from the driveway/road. Here's what the cabin looked like before work started:

On Wednesday they made pretty good progress, getting a little over half of this side done:
On Thursday they finished this side, worked on some more staining, and started working on the west side.

The peak on this side resulted in lots and lots of cutting but they were able to finish it up on Friday.

The final result of our August trip:

The last couple of days up there we spent relaxing, visiting the lake, and going to the county fair. Here are a few random pictures from the trip.

Over Labor Day weekend we headed back up for once last summer weekend get-away. The guy's plans were to get the remaining portion of the addition sided.

September 5-7

Here's the view before work began:

When we are at the cabin it is tradition to make a trip to the local meat market for steaks. I can honestly say I have never had a better steak then the ones from this market. On Sunday my mom and I made the trip since the guys were working. That day while prepping the Tyvek they found 3 bats that had made their home under the covering. They thought they had gotten them out without any problems but wouldn't you know as we sat down to our steak dinner something came swooping down from the addition. I didn't see it at first, but by the look on Collin's face I knew something was up. As I was about to ask what it was it came flying down for a second buzz around the table. I may or may not have frantically grabbed the baby from the highchair and locked us in the bathroom until the coast was clear. Unfortunately, in my frenzied state I was not thinking about my juicy, cooked-to-perfection, steak. Maia, however, was not bothered by a little bat. No, she saw a fresh, hunk of meat sitting unattended on my plate and quickly capitalized on the opportunity, enjoying a big 'ol steak dinner. My mouth is watering a little just thinking about it. Next year I suppose, next year.
By the end of the weekend the guys had the entire addition sided:

I'm already looking forward to next summer to get back up there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Surprise for Mama

Each morning we pack Keaton's bag for his day at Busha's: change of clothes, sweatshirt for walks, hat, bottles, breakfast/lunch, bibs, burb clothes, and planner. I write in the planner what time Keat ate that morning and throughout the day Busha writes down when he ate, napped, and any special things they did. We started it for practical reasons when I first went back to work so we could gauge whether or not Keaton was following a schedule. We keep it up because I love digging in his bag at the end of the day to see what he did while I was at work. Last Thursday I opened his planner and found these. It was such a nice surprise at the end of the day. Thank you Busha!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Training Update & Other Inappropriate Content

So, I went and told you guys our big half marathon news and naturally, as soon as I hit publish our training went to shit. It started Labor Day weekend when we were up at the cabin and got off of our schedule. That Monday, when we were supposed to run 3 miles, we took the dogs for a walk with my parents and on our way home Collin rolled his ankle, the same ankle that he has previously broken two times. Almost immediately it started to swell up and so our run that night got cancelled. We justified skipping it since we had gone on a 3 mile walk that morning. But, since then the skipping of runs has continued while the justifications have not. In the past two weeks we’ve missed more runs then we’ve completed. I’m hoping if we get back on track next week we’ll still be able to compete as planned.

I do want to send out a very, very big thank you to all of our friends and family who have been so supportive of this endeavor. The tips, advice, and cheers, especially the cheers, have meant SO much to us!!

Because of your tips I have, thankyougod, finally gotten over the shin splits. Which means, of course, I’ve moved on to the next ailment: chaffing. I’ve struggled with chaffing in the past, my underarms and inner thighs have particularly given me problems. So before each run I lube up with Vaseline and this, so far, has completely prevented it. I followed this same routine last Saturday before my 10 mile run and walked out the door with no worries. The run was difficult at best and I made a few fatal errors, starting too late in the morning and forgetting to wear sunscreen were two. The third is something I had never considered.

***Before I go any further I should warn you that what follows might be TMI. In fact Collin tells me it is inappropriate to share this on the Internet. I tell him it would be inappropriate for me NOT to share this on this Internet. People need to know the hazards of this sport!!***

So, I lube up my arms and thighs, right? Well, it did not occur to me that my ass cheeks might rub together in a way in which to cause chaffing in my butt crack. I get home from my run and I suddenly find myself wondering, what is wrong with my butt?? Why is it stinging? And so I go check it out and YOU GUYS!! It looks like a UFO has landed in my ass. Each cheek has a bright red half moon where the skin has been rubbed raw and if you position them just right it forms a perfect circle, just like some sort of spaceship has touched down. That night Collin and I lay in bed and he asks

“How’s your Mars landing doing?”
“Your Mars landing?”
“I have no clue what you are talking about.”
“The spaceship!”
“Oh! That!! Yeah, it’s okay.”

So yeah, anyway, I had to share that with you because, DUDE, butt chaffing, no one told ME about this!

And while I’m sharing inappropriate material on the Internet I might as well go ahead and tell you what happened to me at work today.

So, I’m sitting in my office and I realize, hmmm, I have to go to the bathroom. And my bathroom I mean “bathroom” if you catch my drift. Something you must know about me is this: I am a shy public pooper. I can not poop if someone else is in the bathroom with me. Can Not. My body physically won’t do it. Ask my college friends, I used to make one of them go to the bathroom with me to “push the pooper” (a/k/a hand dryer) each and every time I had to go to the “bathroom”. So I’m sitting in the bathroom and someone walks in there and GET THIS sits in the stall next to me. There are 4 stalls in our bathroom and I was at the very last one and neither of the other three were in use and yet she sat right next to me! After she shuffles in and gets settled she just sits there and she’s absolutely silent, and that’s when I realize it, she’s also a shy pooper. Damn it! This can not end well. You can not have two shy poopers sitting RIGHT next to each other and so I vow that I will outlast her. I will sit here all afternoon if I have to. I am not giving up my dominion as shy pooper of this bathroom.

It feels like 20 minutes later (in actually it was probably 2 or 3) when another bathroom patron walks in and takes care of business. As she’s finishing up I hear my neighbor start to move things along and I realize I’VE WON, I’VE WON the shy pooping challenge. She finally exits the stall, washes her hands, and moseys on out of the bathroom and finally, FINALLY I can have the bathroom in peace. YAY!

Five minutes pass and the door opens back up and I silently curse under my breath knowing I’m going to have to wait out another patron. As I’m sitting there, still cursing, the door next to mine opens and someone sits down in my neighboring stall AGAIN! Oh, you have got to be kidding me, I think to myself as I throw my hands up in the air. The person shuffles into their spot, gets settled, and then is silent. It’s like déjà vu. Oh no. Do not tell me it is true. Shy Pooper # 2 is back!! WTF? What shy pooper sits in the neighboring stall of a shy pooper not once but TWICE?? It is now that I realize I have to throw in the towel; there is no winner in this race. And so, in defeat, I left.

If I ruled the world I would make very specific rules about bathroom etiquette and they would go something like this:

1. If the bathroom is occupied by a pooper and your business does not involve pooping, please complete your transaction as quickly as possible. Use the restroom, wash your hands, and get out. This is not the time to comb your hair or apply make-up or wash your friggin’ coffee mug ohmygod!

2. If you’re using a bathroom with 3 or more stalls and one is in use it is imperative that you choose the stall furthest away from the current patron. If two or more stalls are in use this rule can be broken. But if you know there is a shy popper in the stall next to you, please strictly adhere to rule # 1 above. Thank you.

3. Bathrooms can only hold 1 shy pooper at a time. It does not matter how large the bathroom is or how many stalls are available. 1 at a time. There are NO exceptions. If you are a shy pooper and you walk into a bathroom occupied by another shy pooper you MUST TAKE YOUR POOP ELSEWHERE!!!

Jeeze. Butt chaffing and shy pooping. Aren’t you glad you stopped by here today?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

8-month Outtakes

Every month it's a big production. I recruit Collin to make my sign, get Stink settled in the chair, we both try hard to distract him from chewing/tearing/fill in the blank said sign, and then I take about 8 million pictures in order to (hopefully) get one decent shot for Keaton's monthly letter. Every month I mean to post some of the outtakes. Every month seems to get away from me.

Here are some of the shots that didn't make the final 8-month cut. I'm way to lazy to edit these tonight, so you're gettin' the real deal here folks. Enjoy!

P.S. I put a couple more from this shoot (sans sign) on Flickr over on the sidebar.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


June 13, 2009: I had taken Keaton with me to a friend's baby shower and the Grandma-to-be looked at him and then exclaimed "He looks just like you!" I about passed out right then and there. It took 5 1/2 months for someone to say it. 5 1/2 months. Not that I mind that he looks like his Daddy, but I have to tell you, it felt so good to finally hear someone say he resembles me.
I've been trying to duplicate this shot for some time now and to be honest with you, I think he actually looks more like me then this picture portrays. But whatever, I still had to post it. 5 1/2 months!!

Mama - Summer of 1980

Baby - Summer of 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Finding my Soul in the Season

I know technically fall doesn’t begin until September 22nd but in my mind as soon as I flip the calendar from August to September it is autumn to me. Of the four, fall is my favorite season. I think this mostly has to do with the much needed slower pace that September, October, and November bring in contrast to our summer weekends that are almost always chock-full with plans. But it also has to do with the crisp cool air that blows through the trees, the digging out of sweaters from under piles of shorts and tank tops, the smell of the leaves on my evening runs and the sound of them crunching under my feet, and of course, the wonderful scent of apple crisp baking in the oven and soups simmering on the stove.

Life is busy these days and work has been hectic and in the midst of it all I feel like I’ve lost my soul. I spend so much time fretting about the house that seems to always be in utter disarray, worrying about money and if we will ever sell these duplexes, and feeling guilty for being generally impatient and stressed out.

I want to laugh more and stress less. I want to start family traditions and make memories that will forever be etched in Keaton’s mind. I want to live more fully, more purposefully. I want to be a better mother, wife, and friend.

I’ve put together a list of things I want to do this season. Things that I hope will remind me what’s most important in life. Things that will hopefully renew my spirit and energize my soul.

Go to an apple orchard and make homemade apple sauce and apple crisp
Take Keaton to the pumpkin patch
Carve a pumpkin
Go hiking on the Tomorrow River Trail (our running trail) with a camera during fall colors
Try my hand a sewing again
Make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and a fall soup
Use our bread machine to bake a loaf of fresh bread
Start a “Thankful” book to be updated annually by our Thanksgiving dinner guests

What are you doing this season to awaken your soul?

[Edited to add: If you feel inclined, write your own post and send me an email and I'll link to it here.]

Thursday, September 10, 2009


A couple of weeks ago we were at church and as Keaton was busy making googley eyes at the little girl in the pew behind us the song came to an end, the sanctuary grew silent, and suddenly she belts out "Mommy! That baby has TEEF!!"

I've been trying to get a picture of said Teef for weeks now and I think I finally got one last night.

See those two little white dots in the middle of his bottom gum?

That Baby has Teef.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Keatsday: taking it outside

We spent our Labor Day weekend Up North at the cabin. We've been lucky to get up there three times this summer and this final weekend was especially relaxing. At least for me. Collin and my Dad worked more on the siding and got the entire addition done (pictures to come). My mom and I spent an afternoon shopping, sat on the dock, and read our books. On Saturday morning Collin and I ran 8 miles on a trail near the cabin. It was mostly wooded but it follows a creek and so there were a number of bridges and a lowland marshy area. It was really beautiful and, like always, nature sucked me in. Although it was our longest run to date, I really enjoyed it.

Having a long weekend away is always appreciated, but it always throws this Type A for a loop. I function best with a schedule and when I get off that schedule I start to feel a little coo coo. Because we were gone all weekend I didn't get any of my normal cleaning done around the house and since today was my day off I thought I'd try to get caught up.

But, when I finally woke up this morning I took one look at Stink and remembered what this day is about. It's not about cleaning the floors or scrubbing toilets or organizing the den. It's about spending time with Keaton. So this morning we read some books and played in his nursery and when he went down for his morning nap I worked around the house. This afternoon we took a blanket outside and sat under the big blue sky and looked at the puffy white clouds and played in the grass. It was way better than cleaning the floors.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dear Keaton: 8 Months

Dear Keaton,

This past weekend you turned eight months old. Shortly after you were born I remember looking at your Daddy and telling him that I never wanted to not have a baby. Looking at your perfect little fingers and toes, your round little face and skinny body, I couldn’t imagine not always having someone so small and so perfect to hold. This past week I thought to myself I never want to not have an 8 month old. Your toes are still pretty darn cute, but now you also have a smile that lights up the room, a giggle that melts my heart, and a determination like nothing I’ve ever seen. You are so curious, so active, and so snug-able. You also totally, completely, love me; and I am soaking up every second of it.

Back in February, when you were just two months old, you went through a phase were you would cry when I picked you up. I didn’t talk about it much because, well, it broke my heart. More than once I found myself in the bathroom, crying, because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to comfort you. I wish I would have known in February what August would bring. These days as soon as you hear my voice you start fussing, wanting your Daddy to bring you in to see me. You cry when I leave the room and when you are tired and want to cuddle, only Mama will do. Yes, you’re a Mama’s Boy, and I absolutely love it.

You’ve always been a snuggler but this month we have spent extra time cuddling. You are now moving all over the place and when we play on the floor in your nursery you repeatedly scrawl (what I call your current movement; more than a scoot but not quite a crawl) over to me, climb up my legs and bury your head in my neck. I hold you there as long as you’ll let me before you’re off to your next adventure. When it is time for you to go drzemka, which we call “ju ju” (Mommy doesn’t know how to really spell this because I only pretend to be Polish), we have a set routine that starts with reading a book or two and ends with you curled up on my chest as I rock you to sleep and sing you the Dreamin’ Song. Most nights I have to force myself to put you in your crib because there is nothing more relaxing then feeling the rhythmic pace of the glider as I hold you close.

When you are awake you are as active and curious as can be. The other day you had just woken up and I was carrying you perched on my hip, your head laying on my shoulder and your thumb in your mouth. I stopped by my dresser to grab a couple of things and even though you were half asleep you couldn’t resist the urge to throw your hand up on top and feel around, looking for something, anything, to grab. This is so you. Always trying to see, feel, taste, and experience the world.

You love being tickled, but hate having your face cleaned. You say Ma Ma repeatedly and Da Da occasionally. You love meal time and tired yams, squash, apples, bananas, avocado and oatmeal cereal – rejecting only the avocado. You love bath time but hate being dried off and lotioned up. You instantly flip over to your stomach when laid on your changer and reach your arms above your head to go upie. You got a second bottom tooth and gave up your Soothie in favor of a “Big Boy Nuk.” You make a kissing noise with your lips and love petting the animals. You laugh when I call you Stink-a-Link and know I mean business when I say Bruske.

You are the love of my life.

I can’t wait to see what September brings.