Thundersnow

02This is what I get for doubting the forecasts.

There is so much anticipation of big storms in Kansas City. Local meteorologists generate the energy of elementary students in their excitement for the possibility of snow. The warning of, “it’s coming, it’s going to be a lot, every county in Kansas has issued a state of emergency” all before a flake had even hit the ground seemed humorous to me. On more than one occasion there has been various other doomsday-like-conditions forecasted resulting in no precipitation at all. Needless to say, late last night after all the hype and not a flurry in sight I imagined this might just be another big weather disappointment.

01Peering out the window this morning I was alarmed to see how wrong I had been to doubt. Soft fluffy white covered the ground across the yard making it indistinguishable from the street and the yard across the street. Snow continued to come down hard with extra falling from the trees and rooftops when the wind blew. And to make this mini blizzard extra unique, the snow was accompanied by a little thunder and lightning.
00
Unsure of the snowfall totals from this morning, it has stopped currently and it is forecasted to begin again around 6PM – we shall see…..

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Miss Independence

trainingpantsandcheeseThe other morning PJ woke up with wild bed head, we put on her training pants and a sweatshirt. She also strapped on her white glossy church shoes which will accessorize any outfit in her two-year-old mind, all to come to the kitchen for breakfast. When I asked her what she wanted to eat she replied “cheese,” despite it not being a meal this is an improvement from her usual response of “juice.” Before I could even get back to her about what breakfast meal to eat she opened the fridge and helped herself to the remains of the parmesan cheese container.

On another note, potty training has been a big success this week with a little sugary reinforcement. Maybe too good since she is now trying to go potty without my help so she can flush and say she went to get a treat then turn around to try to potty again two minutes later for another treat. Nice try smarty pants, not gonna pull one over on me yet

Life is always entertaining with this silly sweetheart, I love being her mommy.

Bula! From Fiji

I met T. Jay and Crystal, also students from K-State when we entered the study abroad program and all chose to attend James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. Despite being nearly strangers, we figured it would be fun to travel together to get there and make our journey there an adventure. In order to get from Kansas City to Townsville, this required six flights, so we decided to take a break for a few days to explore Fiji and then another quick sight seeing tour of Sydney.

8 February 2003:
Bula!
We have finally arrived in Fiji after 18 hours of traveling. The flight to Fiji was the most uncomfortable ride I have ever been on where I was sandwiched between two guys for eleven hours straight. The plane was huge and completely jam packed. Every seat was taken and mostly by college students on their way to study abroad in Australia. Our flight arrived in Fiji at 5:30am and we finally left the airport a little after 7:00.

-cabinA short drive took us to turn at the McDonalds, down a long eroded street and then dirt road to the Club Fiji Resort. We checked in and were lead to one of the furthest cabins on the land (room 24). It’s small, no air conditioning, no phone and no TV – it’s the most rustic we’ve ever been and it’s perfect.

Crystal and I showered the plane off and sat down near the beach to write in our journals. A guy raking the sand stopped to talk to us, his name is Neeko and it turned out he is the activities everything person. He talked us into snorkeling today after breakfast (which really didn’t seem like breakfast since we have been awake for so long).

We met up with Neeko at 10 and he took us on a boat straight from the bay our cabin is on out to a reef. The boat had water in the bottom and a fish swam around inside of the boat, Neeko said he caught it yesterday. The reef, coral and fish were all beautiful, it makes me look forward to learning to scuba dive when we get to Australia. The schools of teal and silver fish that shimmer in the light were my favorite.

After snorkling we showered, yet again, and headed to the center of Nadi for some shopping. The stores are pretty much the same as many islands I have been to, and sellers follow shoppers harassing for a sale. One guy stopped me on the sidewalk and started a conversation. Initially I believed him to be another shopper until he insisted we go with him to a particular store. I dunno if T. Jay wanted to or if he didn’t know any better because he followed him, and we followed T. Jay.

kavaThe guy lead us straight to the end of the store and instructed us to take off our shoes and sit on the mat. We then participated in a kava ceremony in preparation for trying the drink. Kava is made from dried and ground kava root, then mixed with water in a ritual fashion. Everyone in the circle took turns sipping the drink, it really didn’t taste like much – water with a powdered substance in it. It made my tongue numb for a minute and I supposed if you drink more it causes a high effect.

From where I am sitting, looking out across the bay I can see the sleeping giant. Another traveler, Canadian named Murry, pointed it out to us. It really appears like the ridges of the hills are an outline of a man from head to toe. So far, I love Fiji. The people are friendly and the environment is beautiful. It is fun observing the birds, their calls and the unique vegitation. I don’t know what’s planned for tomorrow, I do know as long as we are in Fiji it will be wonderful.
-giant

Just Like Winning The Lottery

I’m a little out of the loop on child development research and all of the very specific (I’m sure very useful yet soon to be out of date) information on toddler potty training. It seems there is a treasure trove of data regarding when to start, how to schedule and what reinforcement should look like in regards to toileting. On the one hand, had I taken advantage of what knowledge is out there I could have an underwear wearing two-year-old. On the other hand I could have spent hours carefully plotting my methods and then banging my head against the wall when my independently minded two-year-old sabotages my agenda (speaking from experience.) Needless to say, we bought a seat for her and have crossed our fingers for the last six months she would gain interest and decide when she is ready.

potty

In the last week she has requested “pooh-poddy” (she has a habit of creating her own nicknames for things) and successfully completed #1’s and #2’s in the toilet. YES – Progress! There were plenty more diaper changes than uses of the pooh-poddy, progress nonetheless.

And when she makes the request to remove her diaper and give it a try, I sit on her bathroom stool patiently observing her face grimacing and squeezing pause. When she sees my expression in response to the sound I hear in the toilet she looks as startled and happy as me. Parker receives high fives and praises. We have invited in daddy and any house guests who happen to be there to also give congratulatory high fives. We have called Nana’s and Papa’s on the phone to share the news and hear their encouraging “yay, big girl!” Her pride in a job well done is so enthusiastic.

And after she has properly wiped, flushed and washed; Parker gets a rewarding treat, of the Peez variety. She holds her treat between two fingers with an exploding grin. She dances and displays her prize holding it out long in front of her “Look mommy, look daddy… Look.” Finally, sometimes after some redirection, she finally puts it in her mouth and quickly chews it until it’s gone. She has so much energy and excitement about her new found accomplishment, just like she has won the lottery.

Harper, The Junk Yard Dog

harper2My dog Harper is a 90 pound gentle giant still waiting to escape his puppy energy. He has a fascination with little dogs, continuously steals laundry and is my big black shadow. You might think his relentless need to be at my side is a sign of his loyal and guarding nature, sadly I think it has more to do with his sheepish comfort and need to feel protected. My husband says “Harper is a free spirit.”

harper3Really though, Harper is my junk yard dog. I can’t even imagine the disgust of having a dirty gym sock in my mouth and that’s not even the worst of his dirty habits. He has thieved an entire stick of butter off the counter, ate a whole chicken carcass and has removed diapers from the dirty pale. Our kitchen trash can posted on a stool for years before we finally invested in a can with a lid to prevent Harper from pulling things out of it. And if a bag accidentally gets left within his reach on the deck, the contents are likely to turn up in the yard. Yes, we have been those neighbors around here for quite some time. The neighbors everyone else wishes lived on another block because of the random milk carton, sour cream container and various plastic bottles continuously showing up.

Last night I was alarmed to notice Harper was not his jovial self. On his last bathroom break to the yard I saw him lay down outside as opposed to his usual sniffing around, chasing Macy or pacing at the door. When he came in he hacked a little and then flopped his body down with a thud as if to demonstrate he is done moving for the night.

I racked my brain trying to imagine what he could have consumed to make him feel this way, it wasn’t normal for his cast iron stomach to respond and feel sick. His food hadn’t changed and he had no access to socks to swallow or trash to devour. I figured he may have had some table scraps from my daughter, though this too is very normal for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even the occasional Play-doh spillage.

Then it dawned on me… Earlier this week I picked up new dog treats and opened the box for the first time yesterday. In an effort to try to cook more and eat healthier for the whole family, I bought some extra special treats for the dogs too. The treats are all natural, no preservatives, they look and smell like ginger bread cookies (shaped like hydrants, bones and squirrels.) Not stinky, not dirty, not plastic, I guess my junk yard dog is not accustomed to eating the good stuff.
harper

Help, Yessss, Lotion & Love

There are some commonly spoken phrases in our house. A growing mind of a two-year old, rapidly expanding her ideas, vocabulary and opinion are sometimes astonishing to keep up with. The following is a list I have compiled of the top five most common statements from both Parker and her mommy.

PJParker’s Top 5

1.) “How bout… this one.”
She says so thoughtfully and clearly to make decisions. Parker likes to express choices about clothes, food and what to watch on Netflixs. Back in my babysitting days, when Barney was new, I would get so annoyed with the singing purple dinosaur and swear when I had kids they would be banned from this programming. Unfortunately, a decade and a half later, I am eating my words as my tiny tot politely points out the forbidden show requesting “How bout… this one.”

2.) “Yea… yessss.”
My husband is encouraging Parker to enunciate and use proper English. I wholeheartedly agree this is important, even though I am most often the one to slip and be a poor example to her with my lazy communication. In the last few weeks especially he has been retraining her to not say yea, and she is quickly beginning to correct herself. The adorable part of her correction is the long s sound which follows her yes’.

3.) “Hey that’s mine.”
This is spoken with a bit of a toddler lisp, comes with a frown and on the rare occasion a small tantrum. Sharing is tough.

4.) “Parry Rock” or “Da Lacy Sung”
In my effort to break from Yo Gabba Gabba, Sesame Street or Barney, I figured a girl who loves music and dancing might also love music videos. We have the music choice channel where we play videos on demand, she has her favorites and doesn’t like trying out new ones unless the beat immediately catches her attention. Two favorites she requests are LMFAO’s Party Rock and Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song. Not all the lyrics are appropriate for kids, though I figured she wouldn’t remember or know what it was about. I thought there could be no harm… Turns out she really enjoys the dancing and tries to mimic what she sees in the videos. Let’s just say we are all done with the Lazy Song now.

5.) “Halp you peas mommy.”
Parker does love to help me in whatever chore I am trying to conquer. She even got her very own play cleaning set for Christmas so she can follow along with my sweeping and scrubbing. However, this phrase is not about helping mommy. I figured out she learned to say “help you” when she needs help since I would catch her struggling in a task and questions “Can Mommy help you?”

Mommy’s Top 5

PJ&mom 1.) “Is that baba broken?”
Parker is clinging to her last two pacifiers and I am fully prepared for the end of them. They are both gnarley little pieces of plastic with the ends chewed off. She has chosen to throw other ones away once they were in the same condition, so I ask her everyday if they are broken and ready to throw away. One night she was on her way to the trash can and then decided it was not quite broken yet, agh so close!

2.) “Are you doing a stink stink?”
I ask Parker when she has separated herself to a corner or behind furniture with the concentrated pooping look on her face. She shakes her head no, despite my encouragement of trying it on the big girl potty. Then as I am changing her diaper after the fact, she sometimes requests what she calls to sit on the “poo poddy” not understanding it’s a little late for it now. I’m sure there will be more potty training adventure stories to come.

3.) “Lotion is not for eating.”
My day is filled with “no,” “stop,” and “don’t” type statements. I try to fill in the rest with choices or an explanation. For some reason I have to repeat this one too often since PJ has acquired a taste for lotion.

4.) “Give me some sugar.”
Parker is affectionate without announcement sometimes, and there are lots of times when we request it of her. She withholds kisses in a teasing manner sometimes, eventually giving in. The best is when I can trick her telling her I don’t want her sloppy kisses and wiping them away, then the sugar just keeps on coming.

5.) “You are beautiful” and “I love you.”
Browsing through my mom’s Pinterest quotes the other day one caught my eye, I’m not on it yet because I keep hearing about how addictive it is and I’m kind of scared to take on another online hobby. The quote said something about the statements you tell your children will become their internal voices later. This made me smile to know I am constantly telling my little girl she is beautiful and she is loved.

Lost the Fiesta and I’m Not Cursed

So many sports fanatics can relate to the roller coaster of emotions which come with cheering for players, sports and your team. The first time I declared myself to a team was with the Minnesota Vikings, most of it had to do with being oppositional about moving to Kansas City. Prior to this I had only seen football as a slow-paced game where huge men hog piled over a ball. Luckily as my knowledge of the positions, plays and players grew I came to respect the game and love watching the sport.

My real true passion for cheering a team came as a freshman at K-State in the fall of 2000. It would have been near impossible not to get drawn into the sport with the majority of the campus and community clad in purple every Saturday. I remember eagerly turning to the sports page of the university newspaper to measure the rise and fall of our ranking each week dependent upon the game before. And the very first and only game I attended during the season happened to be one of the most memorable games I have ever gotten to witness. K-State played a rival team Nebraska for their last home game, by the end in heavy snow conditions. I stood with my brother, sister-in-law and their friends with heated pouches in my mittens and boots to watch Nebraska get defeated. In my very first game not only did I finally get to participate in the Wabash, I got to storm the field with several thousand other deliriously chilled K-Staters.

I was hooked, college football was cemented into my college experience.

k-state tickets

It wasn’t until my senior year when I finally bought my first set of season tickets. My roommate, Sheila, and I attended every game and dedicated ourselves to standing, yelling, high-fiving and absorbing every second of every play. We enjoyed the football as much as our own pre-football festivities with a Game-Day CD blasting our Saturday tailgating anthems. Sheila and I were so invested in the games I remember standing near tears devastated at the loss to Marshall, holding onto hope until the very last second ran off the clock. I picture it raining that afternoon as we stood shocked looking at the scoreboard, maybe that is just how my memory puts me during that crummy emotional state. kstate

Despite the loss to Marshall, K-State went on to have a great season and was invited to play in the Fiesta Bowl. Being an irresponsible new graduate I hopped in with Sheila and a group of friends to road trip to Tempe, Arizona for the game. The whole trip was an adventure from the walkie-talkie game of “Would You Rather” I am happy there is no record of, to the hotel suite way too many of us shared, to the dangerously ingenious ride back after celebrating New Years in the downtown area. The spontaneous trip would have all been worth it, had it not been for the bowl game. K-State entered the stadium with odds against them, a fresh accusation against our prized quarterback overshadowed their ability on the field. K-State lost to Ohio, and I haven’t been able to smile at a Buckeye since.

Fast forward to this year, even a few hours away from Manhappiness, I continue to be a dedicated football fan eagerly anticipating every Saturday with more and more purple added to my wardrobe every year. My friend Crystal and I had decided to abandon mommy duty and drive to visit our friend, JoJo, in Texas. Simultaneously as K-State won games week after week and worked their way higher in the rankings we heard from JoJo, our mini-vaca happened to be the same weekend K-State would be coming to town and she could get us tickets. BEST NEWS EVER!

K-State continued their season undefeated and was finally placed at number 1 in the rankings as we made our way to Waco. JoJo showed us around Waco, introduced us to her favorite places to eat, drink and karaoke, she took us hiking, to the farmers market and to the Baylor campus where she is employed. We merrily enjoyed our freedom from changing diapers and wiping up slobber to have adult conversations for hours on end. And then Saturday evening rolled around, we walked the entire loop around the Baylor stadium and I was amazed at the personally labeled parking spaces and the high-end tailgating equipment sported by the alums. I was used to seeing cornhole, washers and ladder golf at tailgates, not high-definition flat screen TVs.

Fortunately we ran into a familiar sound and crowd finding ourselves at the K-State band playing in the parking lot just before going in. JoJo had gotten us tickets in the visitors section and I was pleased to see so many football fans in purple ready to cheer on the undefeated season. In front of us stood a group of K-State frat boys in button up shirts, khaki shorts and top-sider deck shoes – kind of laughable – yet they were for the good team so it was okay.

Baylor began playing better than K-State from the very beginning and I wasn’t worried. I had faith all of the excitement I had leading up to this game, driving all the way from Kansas City to Waco wouldn’t be for nothing. And then the game just kept getting worse. The refs made some horrible calls where the entire purple crowd cursed and screamed to the field. One of the frat boys in front of me appeared so infuriated, his face matched his shirt when he barely took a breath in his yelling commentary. I almost felt the need to stop my attacks on the ref to comfort the kid and prevent an early heart attack.

At halftime K-State went to the locker room behind in scoring 17:28, my confidence in the win never wavered. “They are a better second half team,” “Snyder is setting them straight now,” “They can do this.” I audibly reassured myself and anyone else near who was listening. And when the second half started, it didn’t get better. I sensed the desperation of thousands of K-State fans witnessing this on television watching the dreams of a perfect season vanish to a team we were/are better than, except I was watching it in person. In the second half Baylor continued to score while K-State floundered. With each Baylor touchdown the green people celebrated with greater enthusiasm jumping and dancing as the stadium played House of Pain’s “Jump Around.”

Over and over it played until the score reached 24:52. “Pack it up pack it in, let me begin…” I tried my best to sooth the lump in my throat and avoid looking at the Baylor crowd. I could imagine the excitement of being a student in attendance at the game to witness their team crushing the number one team in the country, at the same time already beginning to grieve the loss of the number one spot for my team.

I was so sour and depressed after the game we retired back to JoJo’s and went to bed early. Crystal and I got up before the sun on Sunday morning to flee Waco and return to Wildcat country. “Pack it up, pack it in…” popped onto our XM Radio channel within hours of our drive resulting in both of us lunging to turn it off.

K-State went on to play an outstanding season, never regaining a number one ranking, non-the-less they were invited to once again play in the Fiesta Bowl. Despite the temptation of making the trip to Phoenix, I was beginning to wonder if I carried a curse for away games. Logically I know I don’t have any sort of power to control the outcome by simply attending the game, and still the superstition concerned me.

I was glued to the TV to watch the opening kick-off return to see Oregon score against K-State. Unfortunately for K-State the Ducks took over, and I was reassured to know I’m not cursed.

Bringing in 2013

I love all the year ending lists, the ones that look back on everything from 2012 and rank the best of the year. Top movies, top songs, top sport plays, top storms, top grossing products, top celebrity feuds, top political disasters, top-selling appliances, top exclamations shouted into crowds – you get the idea. It’s bewildering to me to look back on lists and comprehend how so much has fit into the last 365 days, and how did it go by so fast?

2012 was a high-speed chase to catch up with, stay on top of and try to control. Who am I kidding, I just sent out the last of my Christmas presents in the last day of December (sorry nieces and nephews – late though not forgotten.) I wasn’t really on top of anything in the past year. A top list of accomplishments I would create for 2012 would include things like “Was able to continue breathing,” and “Kept child alive.”

The month of December happened to be the craziest whirlwind of the year. With my grandma’s passing, an unplanned trip to Minnesota to go along with it, and almost a full week of celebrating holidays interrupted normalcy for me. I am embracing the new year for a fresh opportunity to maintain a routine and achieve goals. I’d like to be able to look back at the end of 2013 and recognize real accomplishments out of the day-to-day grind.

00On Monday night, New Years Eve, my husband and some friends of ours made plans to bring in the new year bowling. We figured it’s close to home, affordable and a potentially fun and out of the ordinary activity for us. It has probably been years since my last time stepping foot in a bowling alley, though, I like to think bowling is in my blood. My grandpa and all of his brothers were bowling champions. Last month I, along with several cousins and my sister, took a bowling trophy from the home where my grandma passed. I never knew my grandpa so it seemed appropriate for me to keep something that used to be important to him.

bowlOn New Years Eve I naively imagined the trophy might actually bring me luck, that maybe my grandpa could reach down from heaven and help the ball down the lane for strikes and spares. My first game wasn’t too bad, then it got worse. I am guessing my grandpa never tried to play with fake nails, yeah I’m sure those were my only problem.

Losing - Big Time

Losing – Big Time

Or maybe there is a lesson in being the big loser at bowling. In 2013, I need to practice skills regularly, show dedication to my interests and my family, not blame others or objects for my own failures, and continue to find happiness in every moment (winning or not).

Cheers - FREE Champagne at the bowling alley.

Cheers – FREE Champagne at the bowling alley.