Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Perry, We Miss You!

Today would have been my father's 71st birthday. In honor of this special day, here is a shout out to just a few of the many things that remind me of him.
  • Telling a great joke
  • Wearing shorts year-round
  • Finishing the daily crossword
  • Going to the movies
  • Playing every sport
  • Reciting baseball stats
  • Eating a feast at the Chinese buffet
  • Driving across the country just for fun
  • Riding a skateboard at 40
  • Loving me, Laura, and Kevin above all else
  • Then loving my girls even more
  • And, always trying to make lemonade when life hands you lemons
Happy Birthday Perry, We Miss You!

Two Years Old and Two Broken DVD Players

Life In The Stroller Lane
Remember all my bragging about the not-so-terrible twos. Well, Jaley has now broken two DVD players in the past two weeks. Let's just say you have to take the good with the bad. It's true for toddlers and for the rest of life.

Much to our chagrin, Jaley likes to push the buttons on electronics. Two weeks ago she broke the inexpensive DVD player in the playroom. Disappointing, but not a big deal. Yesterday, not even officially two hours into being a two year old, she broke Scott's much loved Blu-Ray DVD Player. Yes, the brand new and expensive one. My frugal heart was crushed. However, the Geek Squad at Best Buy was able to fix it. Even better, because it was only a few months old they fixed it gratis. My frugal heart rejoiced.

So that is life now that Jaley is officially two. We spent the weekend celebrating in low key style. On Thursday, Jaley's class devoured the cupcakes in three minutes flat. As I mentioned, Mimi and Poppa arrived on Friday afternoon. We went to the kids museum and had a cook out at the house. Jack and Stephanie Fiedler, Jaley's Godparents, and their son Lee joined us for both. It was a simple family party and the perfect way to celebrate her being two.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few from the weekend.

Matching dresses. I am loving it while they will still let me dress them alike.

Fun at Marbles Kids Museum

Check the Girls Only on their fort.

She has the cake part figured out. Blew out the candle and asked for extra frosting.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursay Thirteen - Not So Terrible Twos

Life in the Stroller Lane
Jaley turns two on Sunday. Yes, my baby is no longer a baby. We are already full steam into the terrible twos (in fact, we believe she entered that stage at 11 months). However, in honor of her birthday, I wanted to make a Thursday Thirteen list of some of the great things about Jaley and her turning two. Here goes.

  1. Hugs & Kisses. Nothing beats getting hugs and kisses from your kids. It is better than Prozac, red wine, and chocolate combined.
  2. Sister Idol. If Sarah asked, Jaley would follow her into Hell itself. Luckily Sarah's requests are (usually) more benign. It is so great to watch the love between these sisters (that is in between the constant fights).
  3. Daddy Love. Jaley worships Scott. In her eyes, he hung the moon. Who am I to say he didn't - I love so much him too.
  4. Talking. It is great to have entered the stage where Jaley can tell us what she needs. Now we only need to learn how to sort all the "need" requests from the infinite "want" requests.
  5. Walking. Yes, she has been doing this for over a year, but she does so much more of it now. For the first time since becoming a parent, I am not constantly picking up kids. Now if only Scott would stop asking me to carry him :)
  6. Sleeping. Do you remember that Jaley didn't sleep through the night for her entire first year? I do and have the new wrinkles to prove it. I am thankful every morning that she sleeps through at night.
  7. Dancing. Jaley loves to dance. So far she has the best rhythm of anyone in the house.
  8. Dress Up. Jaley is our 'girly' girl. She uses Sarah's dress up clothes way more than Sarah. More than once she has demanded to wear a tiara to the store. It's kind of ironic that Sarah's name is the one that translates to princess.
  9. Play Time. Hide and Seek, I Spy, it doesn't matter. Jaley loves to play.
  10. Tickles. Jaley is so ticklish. It is adorable. Her laughter fills the room.
  11. Don't Mess with Jaley. Jaley is usually around Sarah's buddies who are much older and bigger. I never have to worry, because Jaley can hold her own.
  12. Bribery. I, of course, would never bribe my children. Just in case, you should know that with the offer to watch Dora on TV, Jaley will comply with almost any request.
  13. Another Year Together. One year older means that Jaley has been a part of my life for one more year. That is the best part of all.
While a Thursday Thirteen list is good, don't think that is all that will happen for Jaley's b-day. Mimi & Poppa are arriving tomorrow. We are headed to Marbles Kids Museum and then having too much cake and ice cream after. In just a bit, I am headed to Jaley's school to deliver cup cakes. So by the time Sunday arrives and Jaley officially turns two, she will have had a full schedule of celebrating.

That is life in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.

Friday, July 18, 2008

One More House Project

Stroller Lane
It seems I have so many house projects going on, I can't even keep them straight. Yesterday, I forgot the last (and most important) one.

Big Girl Room
I told you Jaley is turning "big girl" two. I forgot to mention that means a "big girl" bed. We technically could take the side off her crib and make it a toddler bed, but a toddler bed doesn't accommodate company very well. It is time to say good-bye to the crib - it served us so well. And it is time to say hello to a big girl bed. As for Jaley, she is more than ready. She has been climbing out of her crib for a couple of months now. If you want more on that story check out My Little Mountain Goats.

Have a great weekend.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Heavy on the House Projects

Stroller Lane
July is house month around here. I am used to juggling one project at a bunch of houses. So now that we only have one house, I guess its time to juggle a bunch of projects instead. What am I doing? The list is long, not quite long enough for a Thursday Thirteen, but I'll tell you anyhow.

Closet Control
As of today, I have taken 6 trunk loads of stuff to Goodwill and overfilled the trash can the past two weeks. As scary as that is, I still have my closet, the girls' rooms, the playroom, the garage, and the attic to go. All are very scary places. I swear the stuffed animals get together in the toy box at night and make more stuffed animals.

Third Time's A Charm in the Girls' Bathroom
Do you remember the Atomic Vomit Green incident of 2006? If not, just trust me that it didn't look as bright on the paint chip as it did on the wall. Even with a repaint last year, the bathroom still didn't as HGTV would say "pop." Or maybe it was that it "popped" too much. Either way, I bought some new accessories and now the bathroom is so girly and so cute.

Finally Porch Furniture

We started building (by building I mean hired a contractor) our screened porch and deck a year ago. Until now it has remained (unlike the rest of the house) uncluttered. And by uncluttered, I mean empty - no furniture. No one sells patio furniture in the winter and whenever we tried to buy in the spring it was out of stock. So we gave up and figured we would buy furniture next year. Then last weekend, Home Depot had a tent out. I couldn't pass up a tent sale, so I pulled in. And there it was, our entire patio set - on sale and fully assembled. I even had a 10% off coupon in the car. It was my lucky day. I bought it on the spot and we have eaten dinner out there every night since. We still have to do some landscaping (this fall) and I need a couple of small items, but after a year the porch is almost done. And by 2010, we may finish those last few items.

Bye-Bye Brass Monkey
Most of the hardware (knobs, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc.) in our house is of the brass variety. While all of these items are still in perfectly good working order and it is pretty silly to swap them, I have decided to live life on the edge. After seeing Jan's mountain house, I decided it was time to say good-bye brass and hello oiled bronze. I counted up today, just in the door hinge category, I have 63 to swap out. By the time I finish changing everything, brass is going to be the latest trend again. Oh well, it will be an adventure.

Summer Fun
Projects included, I am holding true to making this a summer of fun. Jaley turns two next week (no, I can't believe it). To help celebrate, Mimi & Poppa are visiting for the the weekend. Sarah is attending an Immersion Spanish Camp once a week. We figure that someone in the house should be bilingual, since Scott and I are stuck in the Press 1 for English category. I am enjoying the break from real estate and the chance to catch up on my long to-do list. Scott, as always, is working lots. But, he is making time for a bit of fun. He is meeting the guys for b-ball tonight. It has been so long since he had a chance to play, his b-ball shoes were dusty (literally)

And what does Scott think about all these projects? He supports the Summer Fun initiative 100%. The other items he supports in theory, but I don't know where his approval rating will be when the Visa bill arrives.

That is life in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - What's in My Closet

Life in the Stroller Lane
I started a spring cleaning mission back in the spring. Then life got in the way and here it is the middle of summer. I am trying to pick up where I left off. When we moved into our house, we never dreamed that we could fill it up. In fact, we used to dream of one day having furniture in all the rooms. Now nearly 7 years (yes, that many), 2 kids, and a zillion shopping trips later the house is full. Actually, over stuffed is a better term.

So I am sorting through and clearing out. Here is a list of thirteen random things I found in the large downstairs junk closet.
  1. Sweat Band. Circa 1982. I have no idea where it came from. If we keep it another 10 years it should be back in style.
  2. Fire Extinguisher. Tucked behind 300 lbs of other crap. That location would definitely have been a help during an actual fire.
  3. Coloring Books. Thirty-seven of them to be exact. We can color until 2020.
  4. Crayons. All blunt and/or broken. Which is quite ironic given the number of coloring books we have.
  5. Golf Clubs. Three sets, yet no one plays. Scott wishes to play, but he never has the time.
  6. Golf Tees. Dozens of them spilled all over the floor, like little poking land mines.
  7. Two Rug Cleaners. One big and one small. Both at the front of the closet and required for use almost daily.
  8. Five Coolers, Various Sizes. You never know when we are going to host a picnic for 120 people.
  9. Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum. Jumbo size bag that has been sitting since Sarah & Cassie's double birthday party. After six months the gum balls were now stronger than cement.
  10. Water Pitcher. Used every morning to water the hanging plants on our front porch. At this time of the summer those flowers are about the only vegetation in our yard that is still alive.
  11. Fold Up Poker Table. Scott is going to see this and immediately "remind" me he wants to host the guys for poker.
  12. Georgia Tech Football Game Pom-Poms. I haven't been to a game since I was pregnant with Sarah. Each year I keep hoping that it is "the year" that I can see a game in person.
  13. Everything From BJ's Warehouse Store. All the jumbo items (96 rolls of toilet paper, 160 diapers, 14 lbs of Goldfish, etc.) that won't fit anywhere else in the house.
What's in your closet? That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of love.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fourth of July Fun

Stroller Lane
We decided that if one trip was good then two trips would be even better. So we returned home, washed the clothes, repacked, and left four days later. We joined Mimi and Poppa in the NC Mountains at their new cabin.

For those who haven't seen the place yet (which is everyone, since they just arrived a few days before we did), it is beautiful. As usual, Jan's master design and decorating skills produced A+ results. It is the beautiful to look at but also so comfortable and inviting to live in. I left with a whole list of ideas for our abode in Cary. Lowe's and Home Depot here I come.

It was great to spend time in the mountains. The highlight was the arrival of Auntie Em. We haven't seen her since Thanksgiving, so spending an entire weekend together was very special. While we were away, we made sure to play. Sarah went to the pool with Mimi & Emily. I took Jaley on a hike - either she is getting getting too heavy for the backpack or I am out of shape (I'll let you decide which one). Scott and Mike golfed a bit. We watched fireworks from their back deck. We set off our own (little) fireworks on the front driveway. We played poker (Emily cleared us all out). And the day it rained, we just hung out and enjoyed a quiet day.

Now we are back at home and I am doing laundry again. However, this time the suitcases are put away. No trips planned for at least a little while.

That is life in the stroller lane. Lots of Love.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - Big, Wild Alaska

Stroller Lane
Scott and I just returned from our 10 day adventure. We had an amazing time. According to their advertising, it is "Big, Wild Alaska." Let me tell you there is still truth in advertising. We had a wild adventure. In honor of our trip, here are thirteen highlights about our travels.

1. THANK YOU! First and foremost, a huge thank you goes out to Nana, Mimi, & Poppa. Thanks for taking such great care of the girls. They had so much fun, they were disappointed to see Scott and I return.

2. A LONG WAY TO GO! Did you know that Alaska is closer to China than it is to Raleigh? Neither did I. It is technically only 4 time zones away, but if the time zone lines were drawn straight it would probably be 7-8 away.

If you visit at the summer solstice, the sun basically never sets. Here is a picture from 11:30PM (yes PM, not AM). With sun round the clock, that meant we didn't have to waste a minute of vacation sleeping.

OK, there weren't lions or tigers, but there were bears galore. And moose, and caribou, and big horn sheep, and wolves, and fox, and bald eagles, and ptarmigans (it's the state bird, and I like how it's spelled) and marmots, and more, more, more. Here are just a couple of our encounters. Everything was a safe distance, with the exception of #11 below.

It's called Denali in Alaska which means the high one. We know it as Mt. McKinley. At 20,320 feet it is tall and stands thousands of feet above the next peak. It is also a shy mountain, usually blocked by clouds. However, after 3 days of clouds and rain at Denali National Park it appeared it all it's glory the morning we rode out. Here it is.

We left summitting Denali to the pros, but hiked a few hills ourselves. We enjoyed soft steps trekking through the tundra and great views at the top.

The mosquito. In Alaska you either have rain or mosquitoes, we had mostly rain. So luckily, not too many mosquitoes. The day they did descend in full force (by the millions) we understood why locals worry more about the bugs than the bears. We were on our anniversary trip, mosquitoes or not, we had to sneak in a few smooches.

8. THIS PLACE IS BIG! On a map, it looks the same size as Hawaii, but Alaska is bigger than the smallest 26 US states combined. We only saw a tiny bit of this vast state, but even that required a ton of time. Of our 10 days traveling, we spent over 52 hours sitting on our bums enjoying the view from various planes, trains, buses, and cars.

9. GREAT SEAFOOD & AMAZING BEER! We ate seafood at almost every meal. That is when were weren't enjoying caribou or moose. The seafood was fresh and delicious. As a bonus, there was always fantastic beer to wash it all down. I think there is a different micro brew for each Alaska resident and each one is delicious.

I did. I take full responsibility to subjecting us to an infinitely long day suffering through 35 degrees temps and pouring raining. Lucky for us our guide knew what the hell he was doing. He had us ditch the boats for a few hours so the seven of us could hide in a 6'X8' hunting hut to warm up. On the positive side, paddling our kayaks surrounded by icebergs was AMAZING. It was a sight unlike anything I have ever seen (or ever will again). First a picture of the the icebergs and then us drying clothes in the hut.

What do you take to go fly fishing in Alaska? Waders to stay dry, fly fishing pole, extra line, extra hooks, and a loaded and cocked shotgun. Yes, our fishing guide brought a loaded shotgun with us to the river. He cocked it before we ever put a foot in the water. Was this needed? Heck yeah, the bears have first dibs on the salmon. We shared the river with two bear cubs, but hurried away when they got close. Thank God, the gun was precautionary only - no shots fired. Scott brought in one nice looking salmon. I hooked one, but it got away (really, I promise).

12. A DIFFERENT WORLD! The biggest surprise about Alaska was how undeveloped it remains. Outside of the cities, running water and electricity are often not available - that includes in people's homes. And though grocery stores are around, many families rely on hunting and fishing for sustenance. Many areas of Alaska remain a throwback to an America that you no longer find in the lower 48. People truly know how to live off the land. As for me, I wouldn't make it past my first winter.

13. HOME SWEET HOME! The adage is true "absence makes the heart grow fonder." I missed Sarah and Jaley the whole trip. The best moment of all was on Monday morning. Before anyone else was up, Jaley and Sarah crawled into bed and just cuddled with me. Hugs and kisses that are worth more than a thousand vacation pictures.

All told we had a great trip. We saw some wonderful sites and went on several "Big, Wild, Alaskan Adventures." However, the piece I loved most was just hanging out with Scott. It has been half a decade since we enjoyed that much time as a party of two. It reminded me just how wonderful a guy he is. Lucky for me, he claims that after the past decade together he plans to hang around for a bunch more.

That is life in the Stroller Lane. Lots of Love.