Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And Tomorrow We'll Do It Again

Well folks, I am beat.

I intentionally used the word "folks" because it signifies that I am old. I'm wearing SPF 85+ and my feet are sore from walking around the pool deck.

But at least being old is fun.

Saturday night, Rylie and Brandon slept over because their parents were at a wedding in Austin. We had a blast doing things that I honestly can't remember because of the aforementioned old.

This is Rylie and Jackson before church on Sunday.

Did you know there are people out there who get four (OR MORE) children ready for church each week? Bless them.

This is Lilly and Brandon. He isn't upset, just solemn as a judge. I had gotten in his business while he was trying to watch Cars and that was my mistake.

After church, we went to The Sonic to get four kids all hopped up on grease and salt. I have developed a love for the green chile cheeseburger and come to find out, it's NOT AVAILABLE in Texas. How could this be? I had to settle for the regular Sonic burger and luckily, it was not even a small sacrifice. The tater tots and chocolate Coke eased my pain.

We got out and ate on the lovely Sonic veranda and fingerprinted up their window while we waited.

I think after that we went swimming, but I have been chronically wet for at least 72 hours, so it's hard to tell the swimming from the showering from the sweating. But either way, there was some damp-ish activity after lunch.

But Monday morning is when I realized the extent of my agedness.

A water park kicked my tail.

Don't be fooled--there is nothing relaxing about a place called "Hawaiian Falls." It was FUN and HOT and HOT and fun and HOT, but not in a lay-on-a-Hawaiian-beach sort of way.

We wave-pooled, water-slided, and rode the Hawaiian half-pipe. I think I have mentioned this before, but even the lazy river is more of a wild rapids race course, than "lazy." The kids don't like to use tubes, so they swim lapafterlapafterlapafterlap around the entire water park. OH MY.

I recall in high school I could very nearly SLEEP around the lazy river. For hours. Those are now days of yore. {If that means I can scarcely remember what it was like and have no hope it will ever happen again.}

We packed enough snacks for the entire island of Hawaii, but J & L don't really enjoy a snack break because it implies that you would NOT be retrieving your bathing suit from inside your body after riding the Typhoon.

Our spirits were flagging a little in the afternoon, but J was bound and determined to stay until it closed. I am usually all in favor, but it was over 100 degrees and my feet were being repetitively exfoliated by the scathing heat of the concrete, coupled with a jagged stray rock or two. Exfoliation is usually good for the first layer or two of skin, but after that it is called EXCRUCIATING PAIN.

Rylie came to join us in the afternoon and that proved to be a shot of adrenaline to demonstrate the finer points of double-tubing and lazy river {lack of} etiquette.

At this point, the entire water park was rocking because the wave pool had permanently disrupted my equilibrium. But we forged ahead and I'll admit to pretending I was Bethany Hamilton a few times.

Then today, after learning during a morning run that my eyeballs DO, in fact, sweat, we got back in the pool.

We got to spend time with my friend, Shelley, and her kids. And Shelley's Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream. I can die now.

There was even a taste test versus Haagen-Daaz and her homemade stuff killed it.

Two out of three meals today were eaten poolside--is this a problem? Fantastic pizza with a garlic-parmesan flavored crust {go with me on this} was our lunch. A bad crust can be a pizza ruiner and this crust was unlike anything I'd had.

It was so much fun to watch our kids {who have not seen each other since infancy} play and laugh and eat together.

Shelley and I solved most of the world's problems including but not limited to: pantry issues, dining room chair paint, sofa fabric, and various grill phobias.

Later this afternoon, we changed swim suits and segued to our next pool with our cousins.

There was more swimming and water slides and eating. I really like their pool because of the unlimited iced tea supply and the ability for adults to enjoy a nice cold beverage in the pool without so much as a lifeguard whistle.

However, when I saw a kid devouring his chicken tenders in the shallow end, I concluded that it might be nice to separate the eating and swimming activities at least a little bit.

Or not.

A few chicken tenders, burgers, fries, and cookie dough ice cream sandwiches later, we were happy.

Another great thing about Pool #2 is that there are showers so we can go home CLEAN and HAPPY. {Of course, that is really a figurative happy, because after eight hours of swimming, people are mostly tired and cranky rather than cheerful and pleasant.}

A pajama-fied Lilly and Brandon played some foosball on the way out.

As I sit here typing the dullest recap to a post which could've been entirely captured by the words "WE SWAM AND WE ATE," I think I am actually hungry again. How could this be?!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Art IS Fun

Well, kind of.

At least I have fun.

It's relaxing, creative, surprising, and I'm constantly reminded that the joy is the process, not the creation.

Possibly, my favorite part each week is when I unveil our soon-to-be-project and they both declare that there is NO WAY they can do that.

And then they do.

They are so proud of themselves and even though I have to give the same pep talk each week, it's worth it.

Today, I even heard Jackson pass along the same thoughts ("art isn't supposed to be perfect," "do you think Van Gogh got "Starry Night" right the very first time?," and "lots of erasing makes for a great artist") to his five year-old cousin.


Instead of a blow by blow of our projects, I made some fancy collages. {Learned how to do that here.}

These are just a couple products we've had fun with this summer. I get most of my ideas here.

And we almost always invite friends {or this week, COUSINS!} to join us.

I try to pick projects that appeal to both boys and girls, have several steps, and use a variety of mediums. {That is my final attempt to sound "official."}

Be warned: there are almost always tears. There is fighting over colors and materials. There are outbursts of "I am the WORST artist ever!"

But I really think it's worth it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reunited and It Feels so Good

Yes, my precious is back.

I imagine this is how Luke Skywalker felt after Darth Vader light-sabered off his hand and then he got the new one with fingers that even wiggled.

That good:)

I tried to go to sleep last night and realized being phoneless wreaked havoc on my fancy bedtime rituals.

Alarm clock--fail.

Nightly devotional--fail. {By the way, did you know there's an app for Spurgeon's entire "Morning and Evening" for 99 cents? A BARGAIN. Plus, the icon is a lovely portrait of Charles H.}

Late night texting--fail.

Waves/rainfall/golf course ambient noise--fail.

I could not even drown out my tears with some Pandora.

But actually, my favorite reunion of the day involved myself and tableside guacamole.

In my parents' town, there is a wonderful restaurant that reminds me of Cheers. Or at least what Cheers would be like if it was a Mexican cantina in north Texas.

The standard for tableside guac was created here and I'm always bummed when I go other places and it's not remotely the same. (Do not attempt this anywhere in Denver.)

Didn't get pictures, because it IS where everyone knows your name...so it's a little awkward to be flashing photos...also since it's dark and the flash is like an exclamation point usually reserved for jalapenos.

Case in point, we ran into my doctor who delivered Jackson nine years ago.{He and J didn't recognize each other.}

But there is this wonderful cart, more of a magical trolley, really...that comes around overflowing with avocados, peppers, pico de gallo, onions, and a giant mortar and pestle. Ramon peels the avocados, lovingly scoops them into the huge bowl, and customizes the spice, flavors, and deliciousness. Then, serves it onto your plate one softball sized glob at a time.

And then you die.

Right now, guacamole and the cajun turkey sandwich at Heidi's are top in my Last Meal list.

Hordes, JUST HORDES of faithful readers have asked how to do a screen shot on your iphone.

Giving technology tips is definitely outside my skill set, but this I DO know.

Hold the the top button and double click the main button on the front.

Or watch this video.

I find the screenshot to be especially helpful when taunting others with current weather stats or immortalizing ridiculous texts.

Even though we just got to Dallas, we're already missing Brad. I'm beyond grateful that he lets us swim and eat Mexican food until our guts ache (which is actually a sign that we're ready for more.)

The kids decided to leave Brad around eleventy thousand notes throughout the house so he would know how much he's missed.

Some are in places that he'll find right away.

Others give him ideas on how to pass the time...

Some notes are protecting our most precious assets...

And some remind Brad of basic home maintenance...

By the way, a neighbor called him on the carpet tonight about watering my flowers.

"Last year, when Nicole and the kids went away, they all DIED."

YES, they did. So he willingly committed to water them when he remembers.

I have many covert spies, so we'll see how this goes:)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Which Makes our 12 Year Anniversary a MIRACLE

On the heels of a man-made flash flood and leaving on my flat-iron {that heats to over 400 degrees} for DAYS, it would seem that I am due a 24-hour time slot that doesn't involve grave peril for our home.

And thankfully, that happened.

Today, the kids and I headed out of town {by plane!--I am still rejoicing}. I even remembered all the key elements I usually forget: boarding passes, ID, and underwear.

But instead, I spent several hours on the airplane in prayer while I couldn't find
my phone.


Story of my life.

This happens daily(ish.)

{Okay. Daily.}

However, we're like most(?), many(?) families of this Modern Space Age that abandoned our home phone long ago for the mobile.

And mine is more than a mobile phone...it's like my brain. And truly, the only part of my brain that works.

ALL of my contact info, my ONLY camera, my calendar {which I don't use that often, but if I have a personality transplant and decide to attempt an Organized Lifestyle, it could become extremely useful}.

It tells me the weather on demand--what, OH WHAT--would I do if I didn't know the exact temperature and that winds were blowing at approximately 25 m.p.h. at a moments notice?

Games for the kids, Angry Birds, sports scores, facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Craigslist, my alarm, email, google, ipod {my heart is now racing}.....do you SEE the magnitude of my loss?

It's like being locked in a cell that is neither padded nor cutely decorated because I don't have Pinterest to plan out the cot and toilet layout.

Well, my awesome travelers {of whom I have no pics because of the aforementioned dilemma}, proved their awesomeness again today.

After walking through security, over the land bridge, down the escalator, to gate A32 (the bowels of DIA), I sat down and simply wanted to know the time.

{Did I mention it is also my watch?}

Rummaging through my bags, it became clear to me and the entire waiting area--who saw every single item I packed--that my phone was NOT with me.

So my posse loaded up and walked approximately 5 miles back to security.

Apparently, I had the look of Total Irresponsibility transcribed on my forehead because the Chief Security Guy offered to run my bag through the scanner to we could be sure the phone was NOT in my bag.

I definitely need one of these at home since I lose things on my own person more often than you might think. {This would include keys that I have found in my pockets WHILE the cops are sticking crowbars in the doors to unlock them.}

Well, NOT in the bag.

Security Guy even called my phone while the kids nestled their ears against our suitcase collection to make sure it wasn't somewhere inside.

No dice.

At this point, I figured it was at home. Somewhere.

Or in Brad's car. Somewhere.

Or in the airport. Somewhere.

The bright side of constantly losing things is that it doesn't send me into a frenzy. I'm frustrated at myself, and feel even worse that it inconveniences others, but I figure that it would turn up somewhere.

Or not.

Without so much as a phone call or text, we found my mom in Dallas (I know!) In order to get the withdrawl shakes to go away, I texted Brad from her phone, to gently ease him into the idea that I wasn't 100% certain of the phone's location.

Of course, I didn't use the word "LOST."

That would be foolish.

Not that Brad can't see right through this.

He has been to the "Nicole can't find her very expensive/important/priceless/irreplaceable _____" rodeo many times. And he is remarkably patient, despite the fact that our monetary losses from my carelessness could fund several small nations.

So I literally threw up my hands in praise when I received this:

Don't most people set their phone on a TABLE SAW for safe keeping?

In the garage?

I exhaust myself.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

It Was Not Exactly a Sacrifice

As the ultimate Father's Day gift for Brad, I failed to succeed in two separate attempts to destroy our house this weekend. I've come close a few times, but can't seem to close the deal.

For this year's installment, instead of flooding the inside of our home, I left the hose running at full blast in the front yard.

I'm still not sure what caused me to walk away from a water force so strong that it mimicked white water rapids, but I probably got hungry for some M&M's.

Conveniently, during my M&M break, Brad suggested we head out for dinner. It was a great night and we talked on the patio for awhile the kids played mano y mano hide and seek. {It's times like those when I feel villianous for only having two kids. Hide and seek would've been a lot more fun with a smallish tribe.}

Thanks to the beautiful evening and fabulous conversation, we headed for home after a few hours.

As we got closer to the house, flood-like waters surged down the street gutter. Of course, I wondered whose sprinklers were on overdrive.

Then I couldn't help but notice that sidewalks looked like a very exclusive rainstorm occurred on our property.
Did I remember the hose at this point? No. I just thought it looked oddly wet.

Not until Brad said, "Did you forget to turn off the hose?" did I vaguely remember turning it on.



The front yard is now a delightfully swampy bog-ish ecosystem all of its own.

I will cry my tears when I get the water bill next month.

Luckily, I already had plans in place to redeem myself.

We kicked off Father's Day with a breakfast in bed {prepared by the kids--sort of}.

The Snickers pancakes were a hit.

Then we had a surprise for the afternoon...

Baseball! It was free Tulo jersey day...and the kids were so excited. Jackson snagged a signed Tulo ball at a school assembly this year, so the matching jersey was icing.

The weather was great, the hotdogs were all that one dreams a ballpark hotdog to be, the salted peanuts crunched awesomely, and parking was only $5.

The stuff of dreams.

J & L aren't baseball diehards yet, but they love planning which fine ballpark delicacies we'll be eating each inning.

Brad leaned over while we were watching the kids soak in the ballpark atmosphere and said, "When we were sitting at Cubs games in high school...did you ever picture this?"

Um, no.

But I'm soaking in every second of it right now:)

J kills me that he missed half the plays because he was watching the jumbo screen.

{"Back in our day, they didn't HAVE tv's at ballparks! You went to the park so you didn't HAVE to watch the game on tv." ugh}

Brad loved it all. After working ourselves into a frenzy over the Mavs games, it was great to be at a sporting event where we could just relax.

And eat.

We finished out a great night with a little US Open golf, teriyaki steak kebabs, and frozen yogurt.

Good times:)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Celebrity Alert

So every Thursday {or exactly 2 in a row, which counts for "every" in my book}, we're doing Crafty Thursdays.

Yes, this is stolen right from Meg's playbook.

Ironic, yes. I'm NOT crafty and most crafts make me sweat buckets the moment I enter Hob Lob and think about dealing with their antiquated check-out system.

BUT I love painting and lettering and I think it's really good for the kids to work through the process.

Jackson HATES art, but he's a really good sport anyway.

Lilly LOVES art, and is always making wild projects. If I can't find her, she is usually behind closed doors in the office, using an insane amount of paper, tape, staples, and Sharpies to embellish an old box into some sort of futuristic public transportation.

This week, we decided to experiment with oil pastels.

{"We" meaning "me."}

In case you've never worked with oil pastels {don't I sound all artisty, like I HAVE, in fact worked with oil pastels?}, they're a lot like crayons, but blend like paints. FAB.

I was imagining some sort of Georgia O'Keeffe wildflowers or New Mexico-era adobes.

But instead we got this:

They both went with the highly artistic Chicago Bulls logo.

Not exactly the pinnacle of my Crafty Thursday hopes and dreams, but I'm trying to be more about building confidence and having fun than the product.

After starting the drawing with groaning and whimpering and protesting that this was too hard, J & L were both thrilled with their finished products.

Guess who is getting two MUY GRANDE renderings of the Bulls logo for Father's Day??

I made a really cool piece for the kids' bathroom. It is pretty lame, but they think it's magnificent and I am a very accomplished artist in their eyes. Score!

Our kids both slept over at a friends' house last night. Fun for them, fun for us.

Brad and I went out on a date night/work obligation {our standards for romance are minimal}.

But truly, the best part was this morning...I went on a long run watching the sun rise, Brad headed off to work, and then I came home to enjoy some time in my happy place.

A more accurate rendering of my happy place would reflect the three 18 oz. cups of coffee I drank, but my fingertips are still twitching while I write this.


And what would a day be without mention of my furry friends?

I'm thankful human babies don't grow this fast or I would be in serious therapy.

They are hilarious. Serious. Focused. Bomb-like.

And I believe they are already celebrities.

I'm raising Angry Birds! I think I'll charge unsuspecting neighborhood kids $5 each to see Angry Birds LIVE!!!

This is going to be awesome :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It Has Come to This

Today, I hosted a birthday party for a stuffed animal.

In a year when NEITHER of my own {human} children have had a birthday party, our very not-alive-stuffed-pretend owl HAS.

Lilly helped me make the cake...chocolate chip with chocolate-chocolate chip frosting.

And pink cursive lettering.

Because Penny LOVES pink cursive lettering.

Lilly wanted an owl cake, but it seemed a little awkward.

Last year, I rocked the kids' birthday parties by hosting them in the SAME MONTH as their actual birthdays. I summited the Mt. Everest of the Mom-world.

But the tide quickly turned this year when the merriment of a December calendar with no breathing room sent me into a panic and I talked Lilly into having a summer/combined half-birthday party with Jackson.

Well, May came and went or there was no partying at our house.

Everyone with school age children and a pulse knows that May is the secret killer of parents. It seems all innocent and cheerful, like end-of-the-year school parties and recitals and field days and teacher appreciation days and graduations and team parties and programs and writer's cafes and nonsense upon nonsense.

So obviously, a 9 year-old birthday party could not be squeezed in to the month of Grand Finales/Time Suckers.

Really, there is no good reason to not have a birthday party for the only 2 kids in your care. Luckily, they are super-flexible while I buy myself time to figure out something before they go to school in August.

{At this point, birthday party attendees started to wonder how Penny was going to blow out the candles without so much as a mouth.}

There is really no explanation for how I ended up making a layer cake for an inanimate owl and inviting neighbors to celebrate.

But it's nice to honor the quietest and least-needy member of our family.

And I do love her.

About 2 years ago, Lilly came down rubbing her eyes, saying that Penny wouldn't let her sleep with all the "whooing."


Other than that, we're working diligently toward our goal of 70 hours of pool time each week.

Don't worry, Lilly snarfed down many, many, many fruits and vegetables before I handed her an entire bag of Cheetos.

We're also keeping the Sonic in bidness.

Jackson found happiness in a cup when he ordered a chocolate Coke today. {He, of course, was washing down bushels full of whole grains and legumes with this concoction.}

And speaking of birthdays...the quads are a week old: