Wednesday, May 29, 2013

and the candles are out on that birthday. what a fun day!

Birthday kids get the premier treatment in this family.  I didn't know just how sweet these guys have it until I looked through the pictures.  Man, am I nice.  :)

Jackson requested the following dinner menu and his loving mother did not disappoint:

grilled teriyaki steak {marinated for 5.5 hours!!!}
apple slices {with caramel for dipping}
rolls with cinnamon butter
and really good iced tea

Plus we had a super gigantic cake to split between the four of us {Husband is out of town for the night}.  Plus whenever I build a fire outside it automatically means s'mores are gettin' made.

We pigged.  We sugar-rushed.  We took silly pictures.  And we sang a certain birthday tune so that a certain birthday boy could make a wish and blow out some candles.

He said it was an awesome birthday; a first birthday in Pittsburgh.  And many of his Spokane friends wished him a happy birthday via Facebook and I know he really liked that.

the time we made our poor cat wear a harness and leash to school.

McKenna's teacher is a brave, brave soul.  Every year she sets aside two days in which the students choose 15 minute time slots to share a pet from home.  McKenna has been looking forward to bringing Colt ever since she first found out about this magical day.  I aim to please and so I purchased a cat harness and leash for the occasion, stuffed the cat gently into the carrier, placed it in the car, and listened to the meowing all the way to her school.  When I arrived, all of the students were seated in a circle, anticipating Colt's arrival.  McKenna had no problem what-so-ever, speaking in front of her peers and passing around her cat.  She told them all about when we got him, how she cares for him, and how he flew to Pittsburgh in an airplane.  It was a quick experience, but just long enough to traumatize a cat, especially if you count the car ride back home in which I thought it would be less intense to allow Colt to freely roam the minivan rather than be locked in the little cage.  I was probably mistaken, but it only works if I learn things the hard way.  Colt finally did decide to leave the underneath of the backseat when we returned back home.  It only took about 10 minutes of talking to it like it was my most precious baby in the world.  It walked right into the house, sauntered through the kitchen, and dramatically splayed itself on the dining room floor.

I've been known to do the same exact thing, so I can understand.

did somebody say presents?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

jackson turns a whopping fourteen years old.

Fourteen.  One more year until I need to be worrying about sitting in the passenger seat of a car with this kid.

Let's talk about Jackson's accomplishments as a 13 year-old:

Grew taller than his mother by 2 inches.
Completed one year in a new school.
Moved across the freaking country, lest we forget.
Made a handful of new friends.  Good friends.
Became obsessed with Star Wars and Star Trek.
Cared for a carnival goldfish for two entire weeks.
Got awesome grades.
Played 1.7 million hours of xbox 360.
Played 7.2 million hours on his computer.
Spent .5 hours on homework each night.
Started growing a faint mustache.  In just the right light.
Endured a painfully long basketball season.
Mowed the entire lawn every weekend.
Made his mom and dad laugh with his wit.
Drove his little sister crazy.
Listened to his older sister's unsolicited advice.
Became a Steeler's fan.  Oh wait, not yet.

Happy Birthday, Jackson!
I love you!!!
Holy cow.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

it's pool season!

It's opening day at the neighborhood pool and McKenna and her friend are off on their own like they're old pros.

Me: Do you want me to walk down there with you?

McKenna:  Um, no-o!  One of us is 12 and one of us is 11.  I think we're old enough to go by ourselves.  I've done this before, Mom.

And so off they went.

In other news, Husband sealed the deck and I trimmed back an out of control tree this morning.  I've since found a nice, sunny spot in our side-yard of which to blog and study the Earth's matter {in my Science class}.  For those of you who commented/asked about my WGU studies, it's nice to know others of you have had a good experience.  I was really hesitant to enroll at first, to tell you the truth.  I just wanted to make sure WGU would be the right fit and that it was a legit university.  It is both of those things, I am happy to report.  I have attended four different colleges throughout my life and WGU has got it's business together like no other.  I am impressed daily with the online program and the people I interact with.  Plus I am actually learning, which is what I'm paying for, right?  It's all on my own time, which is such a blessing.  I have managed to burn right through my classes because I am allowed {even encouraged} to move at my own pace, which tends to be light-speed {blame the OCD}.    Anyway, this is not meant to sound like a sponsored post about a certain online school, I am just happy to know that others have had a swell experience just like me.  :)

If you'd like to know more about it, you can always ask me!

Happy weekend to you!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

strawberry shortcake cake.

The Pioneer Woman does it again!  She makes me look so good, I tell you.  Tonight I put together her Strawberry Shortcake Cake and it did not disappoint.  The cream cheese frosting is simply divine.

Gotta go.  Husband and I are having an Arrested Development marathon!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

the happiest dance of all happy dances (and an exam-taking reenactment).

Math used to be my biggest fear, educationally speaking.  I have done everything to avoid the subject, even in my {mature} adult years.  If we had never moved to Pittsburgh and I was still plugging away at my Education degree at EWU, I would have taken every single course necessary EXCEPT for Math.  And I probably would have had to graduate a whole year late because of all the Math classes I would have needed to take.  That's the path I was on, saving Math until the very end.  Because I was scared.

WGU, where I am currently enrolled, wouldn't let me wait until the very end.  Big, caring meanies.  And they combined all of those icky Math subjects into one, giant cumulative class so I wouldn't have to take so many courses.  It was like a Math piñata; Algebra, Geometry, Trig., Pythagorean Theory, and Functions all together - done at once with one crazy, happy whack of a stick!   When I say piñata, that makes it sound fun, but I was a nervous, anxious wreck before the test {like, a whole week before the test}. The above photos {taken after the test} show a little bit what I was going through for the two hours of testing madness.  Only I was probably not sooooo dramatic, as it was a proctored exam and someone was watching me through my web cam.  But the emotions were all there, I pinky swear.

I passed.  With an 80%.  I'm cool with that.  So cool with that.  My biggest fear has been beaten to a pulp and I can have my mind back.  Math anxiety can take a trip and never come back, thank you very much.  And just in time for Memorial Day weekend!!!  I am happy dancing to the moon and back!

Have a great weekend!  I hope it's a long one for you!  Not long as in the dragging kind of long, rather the kind of long that is three to four days of work-free joy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

those mortifying health videos that just about killed the neighbor boy.

McKenna burst through the front door yesterday after school, saying she needed to speak privately with me in her room. Door closed.  This was serious business.  Apparently the next door neighbor boy {a wonderfully sweet kid the same age as McKenna} had a very emotional response to watching a fifth grade health video about puberty in his classroom yesterday.  He recanted his tale of horror on the bus ride home and it had McKenna pretty freaked because she knew she would be watching it the following day.  He said he cried.  Maybe even sobbed, and had to step out from the boy-filled classroom {thank goodness boys are separated from girls}.  Poor kid.

As a parent, this discussing of puberty is a little bit uncomfortable, especially with the first-born child.  By three kids though, we've kind of become an open book.  I explained to McKenna that those dumb videos have been around since I was a child and they were just as embarrassing then.  It's an awkward subject and it can be scary, but it's all just a part of life.  The scariest thing about the videos is probably the cheesy acting, because let's face it, who wants to be an actor in that kind of movie?  I assured her that most of the girls would be giggling and that's actually how I survived watching them.  I giggled.  Even in high school.  Even now.  It's a coping mechanism I highly recommend.

And so today, McKenna was happy to report that she did giggle through the videos and the acting is still horribly cheesy.  She also learned stuff and asked me questions and I openly answered them.  And then we stopped.  Because sometimes you just need to stop.

Moving on...

Monday, May 20, 2013

we should all have days like this.

Last August we moved into our house in Pittsburgh.  It has almost been one year since the move and I don't know if the year could have blown by any faster.  This was a crazy one.  There are those certain moments in my life when I feel a strong sense that I am in the exact place I am supposed to be in that moment.  Have you ever felt like that?  For me, although I have only felt that strangely awesome awareness a handful of times in my life, it has brought me a sense of peace and validation for all of the hard decisions I have ever had to make.  The truth is, my life is good and I know it, but sometimes it just rocks to feel like I'm on the right path.  When I first started back to college, all those five years ago, I chose to study Early Childhood Education because, well, I don't know... I liked kids.  Other than that, I just really wanted to earn a degree and didn't feel like being picky.  But when I started my classes and became involved in the program, I had an overwhelming sense that I was supposed to be doing exactly what I was doing.  I was so emotionally charged every single day, driven in my work with children and in my studies.  It was so unbelievably fulfilling and rewarding and challenging and good.  I felt the same feeling last February, when I decided to continue my education at WGU.  It just felt right and continues to feel right, although it's a completely different and unique experience.  It fits.  And then today things clicked for me here in Pittsburgh, at a PTA meeting of all places!  I felt like I was supposed to be there.  I belonged.  Finally.  Starting now, I'm going to be playing the role of the yearbook photographer for the middle school.  How fitting is that? I get to be out there and doing things for kids, while hiding a little bit behind the comfort of my camera. I'll be forced to put myself out there, which couldn't be more perfect since I'm a bit of a recluse.  As I sat there at the PTA luncheon, I just felt part of something larger than myself and I haven't really felt that in quite a long time.  I have no expectations.  I am unconcerned with changing myself to fit anyone's mold.  I am simply content with today's small moment; when I stepped outside of my comfort zone and it didn't even suck.  Not even a little.

And then to top that off, I have joked with the kids that I really don't have to worry about running into anyone I know since we are new.  And I have never ran into a familiar face, even at the grocery store.  Until today.  A mom went out of her way to approach me at Target and stopped to chat and say hello.

It felt damn good.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

dreaming of this moment.

Sometimes it's the small things.  Sitting around an outdoor fire was one of our favorite Spokane past-times and now we've brought it to Pennsylvania too.

Hershey's chocolate bars.
Graham crackers.

Messy perfection.


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