Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Emma in a million words or less

Second in a two-part series about my children, inspired by a request by my son's teacher to send in an essay about our child. Please read on (this post and the previous) to see how awesome my kids are. Thanks!

Emma is a wonderful girl.

It's a good thing my favorite mode of sharing things with the world via the internet isn't Twitter, because I'd be almost out of characters by now. But Emma loves Twitter. It's the new, hip way to communicate with friends if you are a teen, and Emma is a pro. She boasts about her number of tweets. And she loves it.

She's a wonderfully outgoing person, and just like she loves to speak to thousands on Twitter, she's equally as expressive in real life. One of her best qualities is her ability to talk to anyone. She's friendly and personable, and has a killer smile. She's even great at talking in front of groups (which she did not get from me) and led worship at church for the preschool classes (4 of them!) for a couple of years! This involves her preparing a short lesson, teaching the children, and leading them in songs and dance. Pretty remarkable for such a young lady!

She wants a job someday that involves travel and importance and creativity. I'm certain she'll be great at whatever career she chooses, because she's a very smart girl. She's got serious goals for herself where grades are concerned, and wants to go to IU after high school.

She's really on a creative streak right now, related directly to nail polish. The girl paints her nails daily to match her outfit, and finds really neat designs and techniques online that she perfects. She's also learned the value of bargain hunting in fashion and finds cute outfits with her natural fashion sense.

 She's thoughtful and kind, despite her teenage tendencies to sometimes act her age.  She speaks with maturity about real issues, and has a great amount of empathy for others, which makes me incredibly proud. She always tells me she loves me, and in an impressive show of self-awareness, came up to me after we argued the other night to apologize for snapping at me. I snapped at her, too, and I was very humbled by her apology, because it showed such a great growth in character at such a young age.

My sophomore, Emma, is a beautiful, caring, smart, clever girl, and I'm unbelievably grateful to be her mom.

Ethan in a million words or less.

With the start of the new school year, one of my son's teachers asked that we send in a summary about our child in "a million words or less." What a great opportunity to put down in writing how great my kid is! What follows is my submission. I will do the same for my daughter, not for an assignment, but just to remember who they are at this age. Please read on and see what cool kids I have. 

Ethan is a super cool kid.

He takes after his mom with his love for reading. He's always loved to read, but sadly electronics like his ipod and the laptop with his favorite game, Minecraft, have taken away the free time he used to spend with books.  He's also always been a great student. Never the kid you have to remind to do homework; he just does it. Parent teacher conferences in elementary school were always a pleasure to attend. It was usually the same sort of thing; "Ethan is a great kid, he does his work, he's helpful, he's nice to others." One conference in particular really stands out, however. In third grade, his teacher told me that whenever she moved seats around, she always felt a little bad for Ethan, because she always sat him near the more difficult kids. The ones with behavior issues that other kids didn't get along with. Because he was the student who got along with everyone, and would be able to stay focused around the troublemakers. Can you even get a more positive report from a teacher about your child?

He's really bright too. He's in the advanced math course this year, and made Honors strings. I coerced him a bit into signing up for violin. He was hesitant at first, until he found out it's the same instrument as a fiddle, just played differently, and then he was interested. He even played the violin at my wedding this summer!

He takes after his dad as well. He has a natural athletic ability and a knack for being a jokester, just like him.  He does a back flip into his bed most nights when I come in to say goodnight. He was just in his first Cross Country meet tonight, after signing up late and having zero training, and placed really well!

He has a best friend, also named Ethan, and they hang out together a lot since they live close to each other. They skateboard and ride bikes together, and they have a Youtube channel where they make funny videos.

We talk about college at home a lot since Ethan has an older sister, but he hasn't indicated yet what he hopes to be when he grows up. He is developing a lot of particular tastes though, in things like clothes (he loves skinny jeans) and food (he hates almost everything the first time he tries it.) Maybe his particularity in those things will carry over into his goals for the future someday.

I'd summarize who I believe my son is by saying that he is funny, smart, kind, responsible, and super cool. And I'm blessed to get to watch him grow up. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Before and After

I've mentioned here before that I have been on a kick lately of doing lots of little projects around the house.  Also, on a related note, I love Pinterest. Through that site I have found so many neat ideas and lots of inspiration! Plus I found some pretty cool blogs of other ladies doing neat things at their homes. One of those bloggers posted a project she did to keep all the things you usually put on your fridge on the inside of a cabinet. I read that and realized that I totally did that months ago, before Christmas! If only I had blogged about it!

So, here's the first project. I was annoyed by the cluttered fridge, and then walked by the practically empty bulletin board hanging in the laundry room, where no one looks ever, especially not for saved articles from magazines, wedding invitations, or school papers. So I decided to combine the two for a solution and got to work.

First I had to get the frame off the board, because it wouldn't fit attached the the inside of the cabinet door that way. This resulted in me randomly banging on the wooden frame with a hammer, accomplishing nothing. Eventually I turned the hammer around and started prying it off. Once the cork part of the bulletin board was free, I took the screws out of the hinges of the cabinet door and laid it on the table. I found some hard-core glue we had in the garage, squeezed a bunch on the back of the bulletin board, stuck it on and let it dry with some heavy items on top to hold it in place. I put the door back on, pinned all the fridge stuff to it, and voila. 

And here's the before and after:
Once I started working from home and really picked up the Pinterest home decor habit, the following projects happened:

I decided to paint and organize the laundry room. I just purchased those black bins for a few bucks each to house all the random stuff stored on those shelves, and used paint I had leftover from our bathroom. It's really an awesome change and definitely worth the effort!

The next night, I realized part of the reason I never scrapbooked is because I had to lug out this big tub full of junk and pull everything out before I could start. So I used a small shelf I had in a linen closet and a couple of containers I had lying around to hold the smaller pieces, and now it's easy to access! And I even got creative--the taller container on the top shelf is actually a beaded candle holder, but it works great for pens and scissors! 

A week later, my husband replaced our kitchen faucet, which forced me to face the horrendous condition of the cabinet under the sink. Since I had to empty it for him to do his work anyway, I used the opportunity to purge some stuff and reorganize. By the way, we had FOUR separate half-empty bottles of carpet spot remover before this reorganization. It's so much nicer to get the cleaners and trashbags out now without having stuff fall out! 
Last project to date: I refinished my first piece of furniture. I purchased a small sander, a paintbrush, and a tiny can of stain. One evening later, the beat up old bench in our bedroom that my husband loves looks a ton better and now matches the dark finish of our bedroom furniture!
Off to Pinterest to get some new ideas for my next project!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Stairway to Hell

I went out to a bar tonight in downtown Indianapolis for a friend's birthday. I attempted to park in a mall garage just a block from my destination. But the city had other plans.

As I approached downtown I noticed a lot of motorcycles. Many more than usual. Then I noticed some streets were blocked off. And they were filled with motorcycles! Like the entire main thoroughfare of downtown was closed and filled three rows deep with bikes for probably a mile! It was a neat sight, but highly inconvenient because of what that event, along with the GenCon festival/conference or whatever it is, did to parking. I pulled in to the garage a block from the bar, but once underground, I had to follow a maze of ramps and turns since everything was full. This garage is seriously like the Catacombs of Indy. Once down there, you could end up literally several city blocks away from your entrance because it apparently covers the entire area of the city! I was fully two more city blocks away when I exited the garage onto the street.

That's the other thing. The stairwell to get from the garage to the street looks like a place people get murdered. I should have taken a photo, but I just wanted to get the heck out ASAP.

I safely exit the garage, walk a half mile to the bar, and enjoy my evening. At 11 p.m. I'm ready to go. I head back the the stairway of hell alone in the city at night. But walking the city streets alone was not a concern. Friday nights downtown are filled with people and lights, especially with all those bikers down there. It was purely the stairwell that worried me.

As I approached the stairway door, I tried to recollect those articles in Cosmo about protecting yourself, and the best I could do was getting my keys positioned in my hand in such a way that I could more easily use it as a weapon.

There was a homeless man standing near the door, and as I pulled on the handle and realized it was locked, I asked him if he knew why it was locked...because a. The homeless in Indy are like our ambassadors and b. I apparently like to ask strangers stupid questions.

He had no answer, and luckily the restaurant next door was still open, so I was able to get access to the mall through there, and get to the garage from the mall.

I get down to my level, and it's empty of people (witnesses) except for one car with dark windows blasting what I'm certain is devil-worshipping music. And since I've come in a new way, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE IM PARKED.

I wander around, trying to beep my horn with the keychain, and eventually pull up google maps to try and ascertain where I currently am in relation to where the scary stairway dumped me on the street. As I find my way, the devil music is now in motion, sounding as if it is pursuing me. I walk faster, key-weapon cocked and ready.

And they turned and drove away. And I got in my car and left.

Welcome to my worry-filled brain, folks.

On the positive side, I had a fun night, and really enjoyed walking the streets of this lovely city and feeling the energy of the crowds out tonight. I just do not enjoy underground parking garages late at night by myself.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Video Games

I'm no good at video games. I'm married to man that loves them. This is why I attempted to play a video game last night with embarrassing consequences.

You see, the last time I played a "real" video game was when Super Nintendo was the new thing. I'm not counting apps on my iPhone or the wii, because tilting a wiimote for Mario Kart or dancing (attempting to dance) with a wiimote in my hand does not count.

But when Matt suggested we play this new game he'd heard about last night instead of watching a movie, I was up for it, in efforts to be a good wife and all. But Matt wasn't feeling well, and in an attempt, I believe, to get me interested in video games, he suggested I play and he'd watch.

What resulted was Matt dealing with a constant stream of this:
"I don't know what to do."
"Where do I go?"
"I'm not doing it right."
"is that thing gonna kill me?"
"Ok, now what do I do?"
"No I already pushed that!"

Probably not fun for him.

But for regular game players, a lot of stuff becomes instinctual. They understand what to do. They develop a sense of direction. I was turned around and lost the whole time. I miss those Mario games where you just go straight.

That said, I actually enjoyed myself. The game was GORGEOUS, especially on our big, fancy tv.

The photo is my attempt at taking a picture of my tv which clearly does not do the game's beauty any justice.

Though it is beautiful and the music is amazing, after this I'll just go back to shooting birds from a slingshot, because frankly I'm still lost. I'm obviously not meant to be a gamer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

School Days

Today was the first day of school for my kids.

Because I work from home, I've been around the kids a lot this summer, and it's been great. I love having them around, even if it's only them watching tv in the next room. We've been preparing for today, buying school clothes and supplies (I'm broke now, by the way) and they have been anxious about it, as they were both in a new school today--Emma in the larger high school campus, and Ethan now at middle school. But knowing that I'll never buy crayons for school again, and knowing that I no longer have little kids was a bit tough!

I remember dropping Emma off for the first day of kindergarten. I remember volunteering in Ethan's classroom and seeing him sitting on the carpet in a circle for storytime. I used to go to lunch with them at school. Now they'd just kill me if I tried to show up.

I offered to make pancakes for breakfast. Ethan wanted to have cereal, and Emma just wanted a glass of soy milk.

No one needed me to fix their hair or walk them to the bus stop.

Just a couple years ago I dropped Ethan off at the elementary school in Matt's Mustang so he could get out of a cool car at the school. Now he'd rather ride the bus.

Once Emma fell asleep on the school bus in kindergarten and the bus driver discovered it and came back by (as I frantically called the school!) and now she is riding to school with a senior that lives two houses down.

It's going to be over before I know it!

Life is nothing but constant change. That's great in many ways, but there are a lot of days I wish I could freeze my kids in time and keep them in elementary school. I'm afraid I'm going to forget what that time was like!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Go ahead and sing the chorus of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince's song in your head. I'll wait.

**OH MY GOSH. In trying to fact-check my crediting of the song, "Summertime," (was DJ Jazzy Jeff really credited first?) I came across this little nugget: apparently Will Smith made a smoother, slower remix of this song just this summer! See article here. 
Isn't the internet fun?

As I was saying. Summertime is almost over, and I am getting sad about it. I had to buy school supplies and clothes for my children. My plans of getting an actual tan never materialized. The pool will close soon, the fairs will be over, and the flip flops will be retired for the season. I took the photo above last night while riding around in my husband's fancy convertible. One of our favorite summer activities that will also come to an end soon.

In honor of that, I thought I'd recount for my internet-based, public journal, all the cool things that I've done this summer:

-Attended my very own bridal shower and bachelorette party
-Got married
-Went to Niagara Falls, and left the United States for the first time
-Took pictures of my children with statues of animals at the Indiana State Fair and rode an actual train for the first time (aside from the Metro in DC which is really not the same as riding in historical passenger cars from the 1930's! see this link)
-Flew for my second trip ever, and for the first time went somewhere WEST of Chicago! Got to see the Mormon Temple and The Great Salt Lake.
-Went to my first Indy 500
-Had lots of dinners, pool parties, cookouts, and drinking on patios.

The kids and I are heading to New Buffalo, Michigan, to visit my sister Mandy (and the beach) this Friday, and then summer is officially OVER. I know this because the kids start school next week and football begins (we're going to the first Colt's preseason game Sunday). These are the two official markers of the beginning of fall. And I'm gonna miss you, Summer.