Thursday, November 15, 2012

In The Hood

Hello!  Happy almost-Friday!

Ok, so...I have a couple of completely unrelated things to talk about....per the usual.  First up....Halloween!  Ben had A BLAST!!  I'm not going to post any pics since you already saw the pic of him in his costume in my last post, but he really did have a great time.  I think his favorite part might have been helping us hand candy out to other kids when Greg and I were done taking him around to houses.  He would see the kids coming and yell out "More kids!!"  Then he would run out and meet them at the top of the stairs that lead up our yard to our house and tell them "HI!!!" very loudly :-)  It was so cute.  He acquired a pretty good haul for himself too.  I've been letting him have one piece of candy most days since Halloween has ended, so we should get through that sometime in 2015.

With the Thanksgiving holiday only a week away, my thoughts are turning to the excitement and happiness of spending time with family.  One of our neighbors across the street had several family members arrive at their house today and they were all hanging out in the yard, throwing around a football and talking and just enjoying each other.  This made me think about my own past family get-togethers.  Specifically, get-togethers we had when I was a kid.  They often happened at grandparents' houses and we kids often found "creative" ways to entertain ourselves.  I specifically remember something my brother and I would do when we went to my Grandma and Grandpa Rade's house.....

 We went through a phase where we would sit on their front stoop and just watch the neighborhood kids play.  Since we grew up on a farm, and not in a neighborhood, the idea of living in close proximity to other kids that you could just go out and play with whenever you wanted was fascinating.  We were so enthralled, that we (or maybe it was just me :)) would actually get out notebooks and write down what they were doing.  We would give them made-up names and record everything like we were spies on a fact-finding mission.  For example:  10:30am--The King (yes, we actually named one of them "The King") rode by on his bike.

 I know, I know....nerd alert, nerd alert.  So be it.  We loved it.

Remembering this made me think how, at this point in my life, I've now lived in several neighborhoods.   And ye old tradition of watching and assigning made-up names to fellow neighbors has continued.  I may or may not have begun worrying that I am the only one who does this.  But then I remember the movie "The Burbs" (one the BEST MOVIES EVER) and realize that spying on and talking about your neighbors is a time-honored tradition that I feel a responsibility to uphold.  And Greg gladly joins in on the slightly creepy fun.  So, my Thanksgiving gift to you is a brief list of some of our unsuspecting neighbors and the names we have anointed them with.

Let's see.....we have "Man On Bike With Dog" (hey, I never said the names were creative).  This is a man who rides his bike at the same time every day, wearing a reflective vest (even in the middle of summer when it's completely light out), and "walking" his dog on a leash while he rides his bike.  He makes one lap with the dog, and then another lap without.  And usually he rides by while we're eating dinner.  Whoever sees him first (usually me) announces to the other "man on bike with dog".  And then we go about our business.  Actually, Greg doesn't go about his business until he watches the man go ALL THE WAY by to ensure his dog doesn't do his business in our yard.

Next up:  "China Man and China Woman".  This would be a lovely, older Chinese couple who goes on walks together.  Or rather, China man walks approximately 20 feet in front of China woman with his hands clasped behind his back while she does the power-walking "arm pump".  Except she isn't really power-walking.  In fact, she's actually going at a glacial pace.  Which could be why he is always 20 feet in front of her.

Our next-door-neighbor has earned the name "Motorcycle Charlie" due to his penchant for firing up his motorcycle at approximately 9:00pm EVERY SINGLE NIGHT OF THE SUMMER.  Not only that... he also enjoys just sitting on it in his driveway, revving it up for what seems like 15 minutes.  I should take it easy on him though.  He's had a spot of bad luck recently with his third DUI offense and 6 months in jail.  Whoops!  Greg and I were talking one night about how we hadn't seen (or heard) him in a long time.  Greg had a sixth-sense that he might be in the slammer, so we Googled his name and, sure enough, he was in the slammer indeed.  He's out now....just in time for the holidays.

And we can't leave out our personal favorite:  "Man Who Hates His Family".  This is a man who is always in the opposite location as the rest of his family.  We often see him just sitting in a lawn chair in his driveway....and no other family members are anywhere to be found.  We assume they are in the house.  Conversely, if his family is outside, laughing, cavorting, enjoying each other's company... man who hates his family is MIA.  The other day, we spotted him just sitting in his truck in his driveway.  The engine was not running, the garage door was closed.  Just. sitting. there.  I'm guessing the holiday season is that man's own personal hell, so we should be seeing a lot more of him in his driveway very soon.

I can only imagine what our neighbors say about us :-)

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Don't be like Man Who Hates His Family.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Love- Brooke, Greg and Ben

Friday, October 19, 2012

Halloween Spoiler

Hey peeps!  It's Friday!!!  Hope you had a great week.  Things here have been pretty calm and uneventful.  Which I like :-)

Ben has decided that he wants to be a bat for Halloween this year.  He has actually known this for months and has been completely unwavering in his decision.  So, after scouring some stores online, I finally found one I thought might work.....

I know.....the cuteness.

I was kind of nervous ordering a costume online because it seems like so many costumes out there are thin and poorly made.  Since it is usually cold on Halloween night, I didn't want him to end up with some paper-thin costume.  I was so pleased with one.  It is thick and plush and seems much more expensive than it actually was (it was only $25).  I consider this a major costume win!!  Oh, and here is a fun little twist.... Ben wants me to dress up like a spider.  And I'm actually considering it.  Can you imagine?  Ha!!  I have no idea if adult spider costumes even exist, but I need to start looking now if it's going to happen.  Don't worry, I will post pictures if this indeed becomes a reality.  Lord, help me.

Ben is very eager to go trick-or-treating and even more eager for his upcoming birthday and Christmas.  We have already started making a list of things he wants and Ben asks to see it (and have us read to him) almost daily.  We've been trying to explain to him that he won't be getting everything on the list, but I'm not sure that is really computing with him right now :-)

Ok, I have one more cute Ben story.  We have several kids in our neighborhood, but not many around Ben's age.  Our closest neighbors have kids that range anywhere from grade school, all the way up to high school.  Ben is very intrigued by the "big kids" and sometimes will just sit on the sidewalk in front of our house and watch them play.  It makes me a little sad for him, but he's just too little to play with them right now.  He has friends his own age that we have play-dates with and he plays with the kids at preschool, so he gets plenty of time to play with others, but my heart still breaks a little when I see him longing to play with the kids in the neighborhood.
Well, the other evening we were outside playing and several girls were playing a couple of houses down from us in our cul-de-sac.  They noticed Ben watching them and said "Hi, Ben!" very enthusiastically.  He looked at me, gave an enormous grin and then yelled to the girls "I'm coming!!!".  Then he walked over to their house (I followed, of course) and they played with him for about 30 minutes (until it was bath-time for Ben).  It was so sweet.  And I know it meant THE WORLD to Ben.  He was in "big kid" heaven.

I think I mentioned last time that I was starting some private sessions a couple of days a week at a pilates studio near our house.  I've been about 5 or 6 times now and ... I. LOVE. IT!!!!!!  It is so stinkin hard, which makes it kind of addicting.  It is completely different from any kind of pilates classes I have taken in the past.  Probably because this is an actual dedicated studio where the instructors know their stuff.  The other classes I have done were at whatever gym I was attending at the time (and no equipment was involved).  Don't get me wrong, the mat classes at the gym can be really challenging as well (depending on the instructor), but this is on a whole other level.  The equipment we use is kind of intimidating at first, but once you get used to it, it's actually really fun.  It requires a ridiculous amount of concentration because if you aren't using "proper form" the instructor is right there to call you out on it.  Very different from running :-)  Every time I leave there, my muscles feel like jello.  I would totally recommend it to anyone who is looking for a low-impact exercise that is still very challenging.

Aaaand, that's all I can think of right now.  Have a great weekend!


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mish Mash

Hey everyone!  Not a whole lot going on around here (surprise, surprise) so this post is going to be pretty random.

I'm starting to get really pumped for the holiday season (who am I???).  Normally, I dread this time of year because of all the stress, but I'm trying this new thing in my life where I'm making peace a priority.  I pray A LOT for God's guidance in my life because, at this age, I've learned (sometimes, the hard way) that His plans are so much better than my own.  Really, deep down, the only way I want to live is His way.  The problem is, I have difficulty recognizing His guidance at times.

Sooo, I've started praying for the ability to recognize his guidance, and He started showing me that I really need to strive for peace in my life.  My mind is always going, going, going.  And I let myself get stressed for no reason, often.  All this "noise" in my mind has the tendency to drown out whatever guidance God is trying to provide for me.  I've been reading a couple of different Joyce Meyer devotionals in addition to my Bible and I keep seeing this theme of peace and how vital it is to our spiritual lives and our walk with Christ.  So, I'm trying to really make it a priority, and you know what??  After just a few days, I'm already feeling less crazy :-)  Good times.

I mentioned in my last post that my marathon training has started.  I'm running 3 days a week and I'm supposed to be cross-training at least 2 days a week.  Normally, when I cross-train, I either do my P90X videos or the Jillian Michaels 30 day shred or some free weights.  I'm kind of sick of the same-old, same-old though, so I wanted to do try something different. At first, I considered doing Crossfit on my non-running days because it seems like a very efficient full-body workout and I've heard nothing but great things about it.  I know it's pretty intense though, and since this is my first marathon and my body is already taking a beating from my running workouts, I wanted something a little less "high-impact"....for now.  So, I decided on pilates.  I've taken a few pilates classes at different times in my life and it is low impact....but also a great workout.  Very challenging.  I like that it both strengthens and improves flexibility.  It's a nice break from pounding the pavement.
I'm going to a pilates studio that has all the fancy equipment.  I've only taken mat classes in the past, so the equipment is new for me.  I'm doing a few private sessions and then moving on to semi-private when I feel comfortable with the equipment.  I had my first session today and it was great.  My instructor is awesome and hilarious.  I think every muscle in my body was quivering by the time I was done....yet I felt completely and totally relaxed.  Sign of a great workout!!!

Oh, I did something I've never done before the other day.  My friend, Tara, is a writer.  She writes children's books and is also a talented writer in the "spoken word" genre.  She invited me to come to a reading with her and I was like "heck, yes".  I've always wanted to go to something like this.  However, I am clearly not a writer (apart from this oh-so-riveting blog) so I felt weird about just going and listening to strangers reading their personal stuff when I had nothing to contribute.  So, when Tara invited me, I was so excited...both to hear her work and just for the experience in general.  It was so interesting.  There were only about 7 or 8 of us there, but it was a very eclectic group.  Each person's contribution was so unique.  I was blown away by the talent of these folks.  Very inspiring.

Well, that's all I have right now.

Until next time,

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fall Has Arrived

Happy Sunday!  So, the last several days here have been gorgeous.  Cool in the mornings and evenings and up in the 70's to low 80's in the afternoons.  Perfect.  Since the weather has been so cooperative, we've been spending some time at the pumpkin patch.  Ben and I have already been twice.  Once during the week and once on the weekend.  The weekday was awesome. Almost no one was there, so we pretty much had the run of the place.  The weekend, well, the weekend was busy, but that was expected.  Greg really wanted to come with us, but we switched from cable to Direct TV and he had to be home so the service man could install the new system.  The jury is still out on whether I like it or not.  It seems we lost a lot of good channels and gained a lot of infomercial channels.  Greg loves it because the sports package is superior and the picture is clearer.  It was a money-saver for sure, so that's always a plus.

Anyway, here are some pics of Ben at the pumpkin patch:

With a dancing Shrek and Fiona....

Jumping on the bouncy pillows....

                                                    In the "Corn Bus"....

                                                         Climbing the hay bales....    

Coming down the long tunnel slide.....

We had such a blast.  I'm convinced that the pumpkin patch is one the best places EVER to take Ben.  He runs/bounces the ENTIRE time.  We stayed between 2 and 3 hours each time we went, so he really got a chance to run wild and get all that energy out.  Which made for a pleasant nap time :-)

Switching gears a bit.  My marathon training officially started this week.  So far, so good.  My first "long run" was a 10 miler that I completed earlier today.  I decided to run it on my favorite rural trail because A) It is mostly pancake flat and B) It is very beautiful.  Especially this time of year.  I decided to take my phone with me, so I could snap a few pics.  

The scenery on the trail alternates between trees and open prairie.  Here is a nice prairie pic:

And one of a more treed portion of the trail:

There are also several cute wooden bridges like this one:

 And some winding creeks:

There are also a few homes here and there.  Most are off in the distance.  This one was fairly close to the trail though.  I thought it was quite picturesque.  

It's so much easier to run 10 miles when you have nice scenery to look at :-)  Have a great rest of the day !


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Comparison Game

I think I've mentioned a few times on my blog that I am a perfectionist.  My mom saved all our report cards growing up, and my kindergarten one has a comment from the teacher that includes "cries when she thinks she isn't doing something correctly".  That says it all right there.  I have always been my own worst critic.

Here is Merriam-Webster's medical definition of perfectionism:

: a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable; especially : the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness

Umm, yep, pretty much.  

As I get older, I am becoming somewhat better at cutting myself some slack.  Being a parent, however, tends to lure that perfectionist in me right back to the surface.....often.  I am not proud of that fact.   If Ben is behind in an area, I automatically think it was because of me...because of something I did or did not do.  And I frequently catch myself trying to "gauge" where he is in comparison to other kids his age we know.  I know this is ridiculous.  What can I say...despite my perfectionistic tendencies....I'm NOT perfect.

I think this past year, though, I have been a lot better about just letting go and letting Ben be who he is. And what a little joy he is!!  The boy is hilarious.  He is silly and dramatic and wild and loving and completely and utterly full of life.  He is one of the happiest and healthiest children I know.  And I am finally starting to embrace the fact that comparisons are a miserable waste of time.  No two children are alike....and that is what makes life BEAUTIFUL!!

Unfortunately, just when I go a decent period of time without partaking in the comparison game, something always seems to draw me back in.  Today, it was the dreaded "Development Questionnaire" for Ben's 4 year check-up.  Ok, I know he doesn't turn 4 until December, but....hello!....I'm a perfectionist, remember??  And perfectionists are preparers!  So, I decided to take a look at the questionnaire today to see where he needs to be development-wise by the time he turns 4.  Here is the first question (or, should I say, statement):  Have your child write his/her name in the column to the right.


Instantly, panic set in.  Surely this can't be right.  Four year olds are supposed to know how to write????  So I quickly consulted Mr. Google and sure enough, a developmental milestone for 4 year olds is writing their name and starting to write other letters of the alphabet.  Immediately, I was kicking myself for (purposely) avoiding "childhood development" websites.  I stopped doing this a year or so ago because all it did was make me a crazy person.  Those sites send my perfectionism into serious overdrive. 

 "See??" I told myself ,"SEE??".  "This is what happens when you "let go".  Are you happy now?!?".

Let me just take a moment to tell you.....Ben is NOWHERE NEAR being able to write his name.  The most intricate thing he can draw is a circle.  A very LARGE circle, because he hasn't quite figured out how to make them smaller.  Trust me, we've worked on it.  

So, like a nut, I started Googling to find parenting websites that are chock-full of other "worry wart" parents like myself.  My first click sent me here:  

Please read it. It is such a great reminder for all parents.


When I read it, I actually laughed out loud.  Ok, God, I hear you.  Time for me to take a step back and CHILL.  

And with a smile, I closed my laptop.  End of Google search :-)

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Beginnings

Hello again!!  I decided it's probably time for me to start blogging again.  Don't you just love how reliable and un-flaky I am as a blogger??  I have determined that I'm going to have to force myself to start blogging at least once a week.   I think my problem up to this point has been that I would only blog when I had some "news" or something semi-interesting to share.  The issue with this tactic is that the life of a stay-at-home mom is not what most would consider "interesting".  Soooo, I'm going to go ahead and post once a week....even if you (and I) are bored to tears.  Consider yourself warned.

Ok, so, because it's been a handful of months since I last blogged, I actually do have a few fun things to share.  The first being that Ben started PRESCHOOL!!!  Can you believe it??  I know I can't.  And it is the most precious school.  It is a house that has been converted into a preschool for ages 3-5.  It has been around for such a long time that when I went for parent orientation night, they asked that any parent that had attended the preschool when they were little, raise their hands.  About 5 or 6 of the parents raised their hands!!!  And two of the three teachers that work there, were teaching when the parents were there as students.  I think that says a lot about what an amazing school it is!  And Ben is IN LOVE with the place.  This was his first week going (twice a week, in the mornings) and he ran from me both times when I went to pick him up.  He kept yelling "Mommy leave!!".  Can't you just feel the love?  Here are the "first day" pics:

             Ben holding the sign that Pinterest makes you believe you MUST HAVE!!!.....

Love this big, cheesy grin!!  Can you tell he's excited to be going to school??

And, a view of the all-important backpack!

In other Ben news, his talking is really starting to explode.  He graduated from speech about a month or so ago!!  Each day, his sentences are getting better and better.  And he says the most hilarious things and has a tendency to be very dramatic (I wonder where he gets that from).  Like today, he took off his shoes and said "I put in laundry room."(that is where our "everyday" shoes are stored)  followed by "Mommy, come open door....locked"(we have a child lock on the laundry room door...we keep household cleaners in there).  Anyway, when I didn't come quickly enough he let out a big sigh and then said "Or, not".  And then said "Put shoes right here" and sat them on the kitchen island.  HA!!!  I say "Or, not"(preceded by a sigh) sometimes when I ask Ben to do something repeatedly and he continues to ignore me.  So funny.  At least now I know he hears me!!

Also, Greg just got a promotion!!!  This is something we having been hoping and praying for awhile now.  Our lives over the last couple of years have been in a constant state of "we could move at any time, so we can't really make any long-term plans".  Just when we were both coming to the end (and I mean the VERY end) of our ropes, a position opened up right here in Lincoln and Greg was asked to interview for it.  We were really hoping it would work out, but we didn't want to get too hyped about it because the vast majority of the time, if you want to continue to "move up the corporate ladder", you are going to have to relocate.  That's just the way it works.  But, after all the interviews in several different states, God saved the best for last....and Greg got the job....and we get to stay here in Lincoln.  Now, a year or so ago, I don't know if I would have been pleased with this outcome.  I was kind of over Lincoln and ready to move on.  However, I've really grown to love this place.  Everything has settled into a comfortable rhythm and I'm so glad we get to stay awhile longer.

Although I could write about a 5 page post right now (lots to share).  I'm going to cut myself off for today.  Catch ya next week!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Some Catching Up To Do

Hi everyone! We have some catching up to do, so I'll just jump right into it.

Easter. Ours was great...hope yours was too. We had a nice, relaxing day of going to church, followed by an Easter egg hunt for Ben. It was very cold in the morning, but the afternoon weather was gorgeous, so we grilled out for lunch and dinner and spent the majority of the day playing outside. Here are a couple of before church pictures....

Ben and Greg:

And Ben and I (I was playing with all the fancy effects on this one):

Please ignore my hair in the above photo. I have been having serious hair issues lately. I had planned on working with my natural wave/curl so I wouldn't have to straighten it, but I ended up looking like I had been electrocuted, so I opted for the last minute ponytail....but even that ended up looking messy. Oh well.

Here are some pics of Ben hunting eggs:

Don't you just love the ears? They were a gift from Gigi and Grampy. Very cute.

You will also notice a new addition in one of the pics above. That is our new goldendoodle (golden retriever/poodle mix) puppy, Lamar. He has been with us for about 2 weeks now and has been keeping me on my toes for sure (as if Ben hadn't already cornered that market). Lamar is adorable, but it's kind of like having another child around the house. Ben really likes him, but is also a bit jealous, which adds an interesting dynamic I hadn't prepared for. As for Lamar, he has two modes: asleep and buck wild. Luckily, we already have him in puppy obedience training, so the buck wild part should be under control in the next couple of months (I hope). Here is a pic of Lamar's first day at our house:

And Lamar in "buck wild" mode:

Ok, so, the name "Lamar". Everyone asks about it, so here goes. We have a donut shop in town called "Lamar's". We frequently get donuts from Lamar's on Sunday mornings. It is a little family tradition we started (very healthy). One morning, I mentioned it would be funny to name a dog Lamar. And it stuck. So there you go...we now have a dog named Lamar. Yes, it is unconventional. But not as strange as you may think..... our new-ish neighbors have a dog named "Steve". We agreed that Lamar and Steve should definitely hang out some time :-)

I signed up for the Disney marathon (it takes place in Orlando in early January). I'm so excited!! Apparently the course is nice and flat so it will be great for my first marathon. My training will likely start in August/September. It works out perfectly because that's when Ben will be starting pre-school (twice a week). That will give me time to train without feeling guilty for leaving Ben and Greg :-)

We had crazy weather this past weekend with all the tornados and storms and such. On Saturday night, the tornado sirens went off around midnight. So, we got Ben and Lamar and went to the basement. Even after the sirens quit, we decided to just sleep in the basement for the rest of the night, just in case. Let me tell you...that was a treat. We have a large sectional couch in the basement, so Ben, Lamar and I all slept on it. Poor Greg took one for the team and slept on a makeshift pillow bed on the floor. I think the only one who actually slept was Ben.

Other than that, we had a pretty low-key weekend. Greg and I decided to splurge and order a movie on Saturday night. It came down to "Young Adult" with Charlize Theron or "Drive" with Ryan Gosling. We decided on "Drive". It was.....interesting. Very, very slow to get going and then very violent. Not at all what I was expecting. I kept having to close my eyes because of all the gore. Normally, I would say you can't go wrong with a Ryan Gosling movie because he's a great actor and, hello, it's Ryan "easy on the eyes" Gosling. But I can't say I would recommend this one.

Welp, that's all I have folks. Hope you're all having a great week! Later!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Savior to the World

Happy Easter everyone!

Just wanted to post this song that I love. Please listen and read the lyrics. The message is beautiful.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving us more than we could even begin to fathom.

He is ALIVE!!! Hallelujah!

Have a wonderful Easter everyone!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Royal Pain in the, um, Foot

Happy March, my peeps! I love spring. Don't you?? It is my second favorite season behind fall. We've had some seriously gorgeous days lately. I dropped Ben off at speech therapy on Tuesday and ran an errand. When I went back to get him I was a little early, so I decided to roll down the windows and just sit in the car for a bit. It was darn near heavenly. It was 70 degrees, sunny, a bit windy (but not super-windy), and the birds were chirping away. I just closed my eyes and took it all in for a few minutes. Small pleasures :-)

I'm really glad to see winter coming to an end because, although the weather this winter has been pretty amazing, it has been a tough one health-wise for the Reynolds family. I think it was late January when it all started and has been one thing after another ever since. First, I had a week-long stomach bug, then Ben got very sick (upper respiratory) for about a week, then I got what Ben had except mine turned into a month-long bout with bronchitis. I sounded like a man for a good week and completely lost my voice for two days. Then, when I finally got to the point where I felt like I could start my half-marathon training, I developed a large ganglion cyst on my foot and had to have it surgically removed. Does it sound like I'm whining?? Because, I am.

Sooooo, I've been wearing this uber-fashionable "boot" on my foot for a week now. I have one more week to go and then the staples come out. Then, I have to take it easy for a couple more weeks and then I can resume vigorous exercise. I will say, however, that surgery was like a small vacation. Is that sad? I mean, at one point, the nurse was prepping my foot by washing and scrubbing it and we were chit-chatting and, for a second, I felt like I was getting a pedicure. And everyone was always checking on me and making sure I was okay and I didn't have to do ANYTHING. And then they gave me what the anesthesiologist referred to as my "margarita" (not the sedative used in surgery, but a "pre-sedative", if you will) and said it would make me feel like I had a couple glasses of wine. It actually made me feel like I had a couple of BOTTLES of wine and then I'm pretty sure I fell asleep mid-sentence. I don't remember a whole lot after that. It was glorious.

This means the half-marathon is probably going to be a "just for the fun of it" event. I'll admit, I have a hard time running races "just for the fun of it". I mean, it's called a race for a reason people. I've never been good at half-a@#ing things. If I do something, I like to do my best. It's called being a perfectionist. It has been my lifelong blessing and curse. So, my sights are now set on bigger and better things......I'm planning on doing the Disney Marathon in Orlando next January!!!!! It will be my FIRST FULL MARATHON!! I'm so, so, so excited. I really hope it doesn't sell out before I get to register. I've already asked my mom to come with me and hopefully we'll get to spend some time with my aunt, uncle and cousin while we're down there (they live in Tampa). Since it's going to be my first marathon, I figured the Disney marathon would be ideal. We'll be running throughout all four parks so there will be all kinds of distraction from the pain :-) My only goal for this race will be to finish and to enjoy myself!! Oh, and not die.

I'm also excited because we're going to Florida in a few weeks to visit Greg's family. It will be Ben's first trip to the beach. We've been talking about it for weeks and he is mega-pumped. We're going to be taking family pictures while we're down there, so I was out looking for something to wear and was harshly reminded in the dressing room that (a) Two months of zero physical activity has translated to a mild, yet annoying weight gain and (b) I am, blindingly so. I don't think all the self-tanner in the world is going to help me. It will probably just make me look "normal-person pale" as opposed to "is that really her skin or is she wearing white tights all over her body?!?" pale. I'll still be using the tanner though. I have to....the world's optical health depends on it.

Ok, well, that's all the news I have right now. I know you are jealous of our glamorous life :-) Have a great weekend everyone!


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Like a Good Neighbor...

I feel like much of my life is a lesson in humility. And it's not like I engage in overtly proud or even irresponsible behavior to bring it upon myself. For the most part, I keep to myself and speak when spoken to. I'm beginning to think this is the problem. It's no secret that Greg and I have never been the most neighborly individuals. I'd like to say the reason is because we've never lived anywhere for very long and therefore, to prevent ourselves from feeling the emotional pain of leaving our dear neighbors when the inevitable next moves takes place, we've inadvertently withdrawn ourselves from the social interactions that the "neighborly" engage in. But we all know this isn't the case. Basically, we're just lazy. I know that sounds awful, but it's the sad truth.

Now, don't get me wrong, we do have friends here (from church and Greg's work and my MOPS group) they just aren't our neighbors. A recent interaction with our "closest" neighbors (relationship-wise) made me realize that maybe it's time to "get out there" a little more.

We decided to order out for pizza one night (I know, shocking). Just as Greg drove away, the doorbell rang. It was one of our neighbors and her daughter selling girl scout cookies. I was a little flustered because I had taken a nap when Ben was napping and had woken up not too long ago...and I looked like it. Anyway, here is how the conversation went:

Me (opening the door): Hi! How are you guys?

Neighbor's Daughter: Would you like to buy some girl scout cookies?

Me: Sure! What do I need to do? Do I need to fill something out?

Neighbor (her name is Tara): Nope, we actually have the cookies right out here in the car so you can get them right now. Which kind would you like?

Me: I'll take the Thin Mints. Can I write a check? (Greg is the only one who ever has cash)

Tara: Sure, it's $3.50. I'll go get them and be right back. (If you think writing a check for $3.50 is embarrassing, just you wait....)

Me to Neighbor's Daughter: Who do I make the check out too?

Neighbor's Daughter: You can just make it out to my mom.

Me (thinking to myself): Oh crap. What is her last name? What is her last name? WHAT IS HER LAST NAME?????

Me (trying be very sly) to Tara: Hey Tara, how do you spell your last name? (Thinking to myself...please don't let it be Smith or Jones or White....)

Tara: W-E-S-T

Me (thinking to myself): Backfire.

Yes, it was very embarrassing. I mean, we've lived here for almost 5 years for crying out loud!!!! This ranks right up there with the time we first moved in and one of the neighbors on our cul-de-sac came over to introduce themselves and bring us some cookies. I was here by myself and we still had Jackson at the time who went ape every time the door bell would ring (among many, many other things). Anyway, when I answered the door, I had to hold Jackson back so he wouldn't dart out the front door. The neighbor looked a little startled and I said "Oh, don't worry, he won't bite" at which point, Jackson turned on me and literally started mauling my arm. I wish you could have seen the neighbor's face. His eyes were bugging out of his head and he practically threw the basket of cookies at me and made a beeline back to his house. They haven't spoken to us since. I'm not kidding.

Or, there was the time when we lived in Florida and Jackson escaped from our backyard and ran like the wind through various neighbors' backyards. Greg was gone, so I went running after him while carrying a bag of treats and screaming "SIT! SIT!". Did I mention I was still wearing my pajamas?!? And crying? I finally ended up in a backyard where a high school-aged boy was trying to relax on his family's lanai. When I saw him, I started pleading with him to help me catch my dog. He just sat there, frozen and visibly afraid of me. I looked, no, I WAS crazy!! And then, Jackson stopped running and relieved himself in the boy's yard. At which point, I gathered my emotions and my dog and called it a day.

Clearly, I should never be left alone. I'm not even sure how I get around in the world.

Anyway, I think the time has come for us to be more neighborly. Or more normal. One of the two.


List It...

Hey all! Just thought I'd throw up a post for the heck of it. This will in no way be organized. Actually, I think I'll just do a list for the sake of some organization. Here goes...

1) Ben loves to play with my iPhone. Most of the apps I now have are for him. I'm glad he enjoys it, but I'm thinking he might be a little too smart for his own good. I was looking at my texts the other day and noticed he had sent one to poison control that went something like this: Pdicccroy. And then I saw another one to CSS (not sure who that is....they are not in my contact list) that included an attachment of an audio recording of me and Ben reciting the alphabet together. Somewhere there are some very confused text recipients :-) Let's just hope 911 isn't next.

2) I was grocery shopping at Super Target the other day and I knew it was going to be a big trip money-wise because I hadn't been in so long. My goal was to keep it under $200. The bill ended up being $260. I was surprised because I had really tried to pay close attention to price, but not that surprised because, well, it's me and it's TARGET. Anyway, I was half-way home and decided that the bill just couldn't be right so I did a once over of the receipt at a stop light and noticed they charged me $81.37 for asparagus. So, I went back to Target to the customer service counter....with my asparagus. Yes, I looked ridiculous and yes, this was the first time the customer service clerk had someone come up to the desk with asparagus. I feel like some sort of pioneer. Lesson: Always check your receipt.

3) Ben likes to watch T.V. like this:

I feel like I should be feeding him grapes or something. Earlier today he was laying like this watching T.V. only he was naked and wearing a pair of Greg's wingtips. Apparently he had stripped down when we weren't looking. What can I say, the child likes to be naked. I hope this stops before pre-school or I can expect a lot of parent-teacher conferences in my future.

4) This is the funniest blog I have ever read in my life (for those of you who are technology-impaired (I'm looking at you, Mom), I'm not talking about my own on the highlighted word This and it will take you to the blog I'm referring to). It is the most wonderfully weird blog I have come across and I seriously can't believe I'm just finding out about it.

5) We watched "Breaking Dawn: Part 1" last weekend. I was all excited because it's "Twilight" and all so it HAD to be good. Oh my it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Ever. I mean there is only so much vampire baby-making, talking wolves, imprinting (I'm not exactly sure what that entails by the way, but it doesn't bring anything pleasant to mind) and emaciated blood-drinking one can endure in one two hour period. That said....I can't wait for the next one.

6) We are getting a dog. At the end of March. A goldendoodle. We are naming him Lamar. And I expect him to live up to that name.

7) A couple of nights ago, Greg and I were reading Ben his bed-time stories and after we were finished he pointed to a picture that is hanging above his bed and said "Mommy, Daddy and Ben" (it's a picture if the 3 of us taken on the day we met Ben for the first time). I then said "Yeah, that's a picture of the day we became a family". He then looked at me with the biggest smile on his face, grabbed me around the neck and pulled me into him and gave me the biggest hug he has ever given me. Talk about trying to hold back the happy tears!! That one was a moment for the books. My goodness we are blessed. Thank you, Jesus :-)


Monday, February 6, 2012

Phil was Right.....

Six more weeks of winter indeed....

Yes, you're looking at over a foot of snow there, folks. After months of what I had anointed as "The Best Winter EVER", the time to pay the piper finally arrived and mother nature dumped all the snow she had been saving up all these months in one 24 hour period. Below is a picture of poor Greg trying to muscle through the mess. I think this storm may have changed his feelings about buying a snow-blower. Oh, who am I kidding. We'll be shoveling for the rest of our lives.

Ben and I decided to make the most of all this white stuff, but it was kind of difficult for the little guy to get around...

Yes, there was a lot of falling down going on. But what do you expect when you're wading around in snow that covers a third of your body?!? He also would stop and yell "Help....stuck!" Poor kid. He seemed to have fun regardless. I think he may have eaten his weight in snow.

See what I mean? I have approximately 12 more pictures just like this, but I think you get the idea. The kid loves to eat snow. But how can you argue with a smile like this....

Then we came inside for some hot cocoa with marshmallows. This was Ben's first experience with hot cocoa and he was VERY excited. Here he is patiently waiting for it to be ready....

I guess snow isn't that bad after all :-)


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Now...Where Were We??

Oh yes, I was playing the part of the blogging slacker and you were the annoyed reader :-)

Hope you all had a great holiday season. Ours was great. Actually, it was one of the best we've had in a while. I'm not even sure why, I just felt so relaxed and calm and happy during all of it....and I can't even remember the last time I felt that way during the holidays. Usually I'm completely stressed out. It was so nice to really enjoy it this year. It probably also helps that the weather this winter has been AMAZING!!! I know it's supposedly global warming and that's a bad thing blah, blah, blah. But when the average temps this time of year are normally around freezing and this year the entire month of January has been between 45 and 60 (until's currently 7...I'm wearing my coat and scarf right the house.) it's pretty hard to complain.

Here is a nice little family pic from Christmas..

Hmm, let's see, what else is new. Oh, we have a new niece!! Greg's brother Matt and our sister-in-law Kelly had their second child in late December. Her name is Mallory (love that name). We were hoping Kelly would have her when we were home visiting, but we just missed it by a few days. I can't wait to meet her. The pictures of her are so precious!!

The whole new year's resolution hoopla has begun around here. I have several resolutions, some of which I'm doing well on and others not so much. I decided to give up all soft drinks...even diet. I used to drink 1-2 Coke Zeros a day, so I've started brewing a pitcher of green tea every couple of days and just drink iced green tea instead of soda. I've done fairly well. I've cheated a couple of times, but for the most part, I'm off the sauce (cola).

I'm also cooking a lot more....meaning I don't just microwave things or get them out of a can :-) This one I go in waves on. I'll cook up a storm for a few days in a row, but then I just get so tired of it. When I'm on a cooking spree, I wind up feeing like my whole existence is spent cooking or cleaning up the mess I made from cooking. I bought a grain mill too, so I've been grinding my own wheat flour. I made blueberry pancakes from scratch last weekend with my freshly milled wheat flour. The pancakes were delicious if I do say so myself :-) I've also been making daily smoothies. I have an app on my phone with a bunch of healthy smoothie recipies. Very yummy. Ben loves them too.

My other main resolution is to get back to attending church on a regular basis again. We went a long period of time where we just weren't going at all. This is partially due to getting a new pastor (we loved our old pastor) and partly because Ben would throw such a fit in his Sunday school class that it became super stressful to go. Anyway, we need to start going again.

Ben turned 3 last month!!! I can't believe he is 3. He is really growing and developing so quickly now. He has made leaps and bounds with his speech and is really becoming a big boy. His speech therapist is thrilled with how much he is progressing. Also, he can go to the bathroom all by himself now (except #2...we're still struggling a bit with that). He goes to daycare once a week and doesn't even cry when I drop him off anymore. We also have a weekly playdate with a couple of ladies from my MOPS group. So things are really going well with Mr. Ben.

I'll be doing the Lincoln half-marathon again this year. I'm excited because I didn't get to do it last year because I was out of town. The race keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. The first year I did it, the cap was 6500 runners, then they raised it to 8,000, then to 10,000 and it kept selling out every year. This year, it sold out within a couple of weeks. Crazy!!! I'm glad I signed up right away! It looks like they will have to raise the cap again next year. I love how active this community is. Lincoln only has a population of 250,000 and the fact that the marathon consistently sells out says a lot.

And last but certainly not least.....My brother came home from Afghanistan in September!!!!!! We went back for his welcome home celebration and it was wonderful. We are all so incredibly proud of him and grateful for service to our country. But most of all, we are so glad he is finally home!!! Love you Jimmy!