Friday, September 30

Family Photos

And now, some pictures taken by my sister.

I love these pictures for at least four reasons.  Any guesses?

Wednesday, September 28

Two Things Braden Loves

When K-State pulls off a victory that looks like it was a dramatically staged Friday Night Lights episode.    (Runners-Up: drooling and standing on his own-ish.)

Chomping on his toes while demonstrating crazy baby flexibility.
(Runner-Up: baby fat rolls.  Last Place: my fat rolls.)

Monday, September 26

A Running Update

I am 75% way through my marathon training and realized I haven't really blogged about it.  Which means it hasn't actually happened.

I'm running the Richmond Marathon (and stalking Young House Love) on November 12.  It will be my sixth marathon--and the fourth one that I'll have run just for "fun."  I've run two "seriously"--meaning I tried and failed to qualify for Boston.  (But not by much!)  As with the Marine Corps Marathon two years ago, my goal isn't to do anything fast or awesome, it's just to come in around 4 hours.

I ran 18 miles Saturday and it was MISERABLE.  And most of you are saying, of course it was miserable, YOU RAN 18 MILES.  But, I'll have you know the weekend before I ran 17 miles and it was GLORIOUS.  I could have kept on going.  It's so crazy how the slightest changes in the weather and your body can affect a run so much.  I'm running just under 10 minute miles for my long runs (a far cry from the 8:23s I ran at the Pittsburgh Marathon) but still much faster than the 12 minute miles I run pushing 100 pounds of little boy and stroller around our neighborhood.  HEAVY.

And here's moi after 17 miles.  Obviously I put my hand on my hip because I still have 10 pounds to lose and Vic says it makes one look skinnier.  And I concur.

Wednesday, September 21

Boys in Boots

The boys and I made an impromptu trip to Charlottesville to see Carrie and Edmund.  And I'm glad I did because I got these sweet shots of these sweet boys. And also because I love Carrie. Once again, this post has more pictures than most people want to see... although in addition to the people who enjoyed the last post with too many pictures, Carrie's family will also like these.  Here are our boys being very concerned about the ball that accidentally rolled down the hill.

Carrie lives in the Blue Ridge mountains at a boys school--I'm going to pretend that it's the setting for Dirty Dancing because that makes it seem even more glamorous.

I think these might be their Blue Steel/Le Tigre faces.

Carrie lent me the vest and boots--luckily it made our kids look like they are little models for some blond haired outdoorsy publication.

And lil Edmund is SO sweet for the camera.  You can tell his mom might not take quite as many pictures as me... Finley completely tunes me out and Edmund would look at me when I called for him.  And smile!  And have sweet rosy cheeks!

This is me being artistic and including something other than cute boys in the shot.  Trees!

A puddle!

Carrie and I did not make it to our 10 year high school reunion this past weekend (go Trojans!) but we agree that we are lucky to have each other so close and even luckier that our high school pals have remained so close.  I pray that my boys (and please please a girl someday) grow up with friends as supportive, loving and silly as mine.

Sweet boys.

Monday, September 19

Animal Instincts

I like to call this picture, "The Wild Beast Devouring His Prey."

No seriously, he was going to town on poor Sophie.  Like, straight for the jugular.  He has animal instincts.

Please ignore my goofy voice in this video.  One of the best best things about this age is that they will smile when you just talk to them.  Finley?  I can not possibly be funny enough for him to smile at me most of time.

Friday, September 16

Five Months

Brace yourself--I couldn't decide which pictures I liked so I'm posting like... ten.  I'm sure the grandmothers and Victoria will be happy.  And anyone else who appreciates sweet babies.

Here's a little grin from B-Town--Finley cut his first tooth at about 5.5 months, so I'd be expecting one pretty soon.  I love lil bald, toothless guys.

No crawling or scooting yet--just some ninja like movement when I'm not looking.  He manages to rotate himself around and can make some forward progress, I just don't know how.

Still lots of drool--accompanied by lots of smiles and giggles.  We're just starting to work on sitting--he kind of collapses on himself at this point, but can sit decently well if he's in our laps.  He loves to stand and hold our hands too.

I think he might be sweetest when he's sleepy.  It's crazy how at five months, he already knows things about our house.  As soon as we walk into his room, he lays his head on my chest and starts sucking his thumb--even if he's not sleepy.  He knows that's the room he sleeps in.  He's a great sleeper (compared to Finley.)  Most of the time he falls asleep as soon as you lay him in his crib.  He naps three times a day with a longer one in the afternoon.  He goes to bed around 8 and wakes up a little after 9.  (I KNOW!)  He still wakes up twice to eat at night.  I might try to get him to sleep through one of those soon.

He's nursing about seven times a day.  We'll probably start solids with him in the next month--we started right about now with Finley because he was such a terror at night.  It didn't help him at all.  I'm not ready to be chained to making cereal and baby food again, so we're going to hold off a little longer.  (Question:  anyone ever make their own baby cereal?  That stuff gets expensive!)

Braden's getting better at his hands (he studies them frequently) and can grab toys and get them to his mouth to chomp.

I'm so so blessed that he ended up being such a happy baby.  If we didn't have a video monitor, I think I wouldn't even know when he wakes up from naps.  He just rolls around and sucks his thumb until I come in--and then I get big big smiles.

Also, is it too soon to start planning his first birthday?   Probably so, right?

Thursday, September 15

Embrace the Camera

My prodigal friend, Victoria, returned for the weekend--which is good for many reasons.  One of the best reasons is that she's my resident photographer and takes a mean family photo.  This was also day 2 of potty training (update: #1 going splendid, #2 going verrry poorly).

Finley misses his Tori.  And I miss my pal.  But I'm glad we have this picture to remember her by... or something.

Wednesday, September 14


...well that kind of snuck up on me.  One minute I'm designing things on the old lappy, the next I'm reading a tweet about Parenthood starting tonight.  And then I'm on the couch, watching Parenthood, live.  I just couldn't wait to DVR it.

Anyways... in case you need a schedule of when your faves are back, click here.

Here's my plan for new shows I'm adding:

Up All Night: Please Will Arnett, make this one work.  Please.

New Girl:  Everyone says how cute Zooey Deschanel is... and that's pretty much why I'm watching it. Because it looks cute.

Suburbgatory: Vic showed me the preview and I was sold.  (Although, it was a different preview... this one makes it look less awesome.

Person of Interest:  Because Benjamin Linus is in it.  The end.

There are quite a few more that look good... but I may hold off and see if they get cancelled or if they make it.  (Pan Am?  Charlie's Angels?)

And my returning faves?

Cougar Town
Modern Family
Parks and Rec

And a bunch of other ones.  But those are the ones I miss the mostest.

Add your suggestions below!  Anything else that looks good?

Tuesday, September 13

Victoria Came Back

Well, Victoria came back.  It was just like old times--we ate 10 cupcakes between the two of us, went to Pinkberry twice, watched "Serenity" (the thrilling conclusion of Firefly!) and tag teamed the two boys like it was nothing.  Oh yes, and played on the internet and caught up on our tv and celeb gossip.  ...And started potty training.  So nice of us to start that when Vic comes back!

Here's us waiting in a soccer field for a shuttle to a lovely wedding.  You can read Vic's post for more deets.  (Possibly my all time favorite picture of us.)

Finley was so so happy to have his Tori back.  He likes to pretend he's going to Kansas now (apparently Kansas is under our couch cushions.)  Braden was all too happy to be held by her too.

We hopped in to DC to see the new MLK Memorial and controversial quote on the side.  And this is as close as you get to a picture of all of us.

I'm glad we have plane tickets bought back to KS for October.  It makes it easier to not have my old pal here knowing when we'll see her next!  

Viva Vic and Rach!

Monday, September 12

And now, Potty Training.

Well, we started potty training. And I'm going to write about it a little here just so I remember how it went.  I know most people don't want to read about potty training during their web surfing, unless they too are potty training.

Friday night we took Finley to buy some underwear and get some treats for him to start potty training when we/he were ready. Sol and I weren't sure when to start to make him the most successful. We have a few trips coming up and I wasn't quite sure Finley was totally ready. We've had the potty for quite awhile and Finley understands what it is for and had peed on it a few times, but didn't love it and wasn't really excited about it.

Saturday morning Sol got up with Finley before I woke up and decided it was the day to start potty training.  (Also, Victoria is back in town visiting, so it seemed like the perfect time to introduce a major change to Finley's life.  When I woke up, Finley was wearing his Lightning McQueen underwear and had already peed on the potty.  Sol was a total champ--he almost completely took care of the whole thing.  Getting Finley convinced to sit on the potty, giving him treats, pumping him full of juice.  I think it went considerably better than it would have if I was in charge!  He had four or five accidents and at least that many successes.  He is now the proud owner of a fleet of characters from "Cars" and a bunch of little construction vehicles.  And lots of candy.  He also pooped on the potty several times (sorry, TMI!) and stayed dry while he went to the park and overnight!

Sunday has gone even better.  No pee accidents, just pooping in his crib (he was in there for two hours without sleeping...) and on the way home from the park.  I'm shocked at how long he's willing to sit on the potty to wait to pee for his treat (long enough one of his legs fell asleep twice!)  He's also really serious about waiting until he actually pees--after sitting for awhile, I told him he could have a Sour Patch Kid because he tried so hard and he just sat there and held it until he actually peed.  He'll come to us sometimes and let us know he needs to pee too.

One of the perks of losing our diapers (aside from less laundry for me!) is that we'll get a 3rd summer out of his shorts--he's wearing his 12 month shorts today and can barely keep them on!

Here he is playing the iPad while he waits...

All in all, it's going so well--better than I anticipated! I'm a little nervous about taking care of it on my own during the next few days... but I'm optimistic with the small successes we've had so far. I attribute much of it to my patient husband, some of it to our sweet boy and a little bit of it to my ability to Google things.

Any advice from more experienced potty trainers?  Hints for going potty when you aren't at home?

Friday, September 9

Melting Crayons on Canvas

If you are on Pinterest, I'm sure you've seen the cool crayon art that's been circulating.  There's a disease that infects Pinterest-ers--where they pin tons of cool stuff and do none of it.    I decided to combat that and actually make something.  This seemed like an easy place to start.  (And it went SIGNIFICANTLY better than my last crayon project.)

Canvas + Glue Gun + Crayons + Blowdryer = Art.

I started by taking a 64 pack of crayon and tossing out the gross colors and supplementing with the nice colors from a 24 pack.  Then I hot glued them to the top of a canvas with the labels facing the same way.  That part was easy.  And Finley thought that the colors were very cool.  That's about where his interest ended.

After that, there's only one step: melt the crayons.  I think this actually requires a bit of skill and you really should think about how you want it to look when you finish.  The wax kind of splatters and gets everywhere if you blow air on it, so make sure to cover your surrounding area.

My blow dryer is super hot and super strong, so I made sure to focus the air on the label--this melted little channels into the crayon that the wax ran out of.  I've seen some that have much more wax at the top all blended together--I decided I like the looks of the drips better so I didn't melt quite as long.  Changing the angle of the canvas to make the wax drip slower or faster is also helpful.

But it's up to you how you make yours (and I think you should.)  Just make sure you get a picture with your better looking dog (his hair has grown back and I actually think he looks kind of nice.)

Here's the finished product--you can see some splatters where the air made the wax go crazy.  And you can see that my technique changed a little from the blue to red--the red is more drippy.

The biggest thing I learned:  HANDLE WITH CARE.  The wax is fragile and mine didn't actually melt to the canvas, it's just sitting on the canvas.  A gentle bump is enough that the little drips of wax will snap off, which will make you sad.

Currently, the masterpiece is hanging in Braden's room--and I'm half considering remelting it to add a little some more wax along the top to make up for some of the pieces that are missing--but that may be a disaster.

Less is more.  That's what I always say and sometimes do.

Tuesday, September 6

Not Going to School

And for the first time in 22 years, I'm not starting school today.  I'm not going to go through the painful first few weeks of learning names and routines and establishing a classroom culture (welcoming, but intensely math-y).  I don't have new dry erase markers and colored pens.  I haven't spent hours standing in front of a copier.  I don't have a hundred kids entrusting their math education for the year to me.

I have two.

So I'll pour all my teaching energy into them.  Maybe I'll ring a bell and make them walk to different rooms... or be carried if you are Braden.  Maybe I'll give them detention and occasionally make them bear my teacher look.  And maybe we'll do some Kagan activities!  Think pair share, anyone?

But probably, Finley and I will keep practicing his letters, I'll draw eighty more pictures of Tow-Mater in the colors Finley requests and maybe I'll get him to stop sticking his hands in his yogurt and applesauce.  Yes, the obsessively neat phase has ended.

Braden will continue learning to roll (maybe even scoot!) and keep his saliva in his mouth.  Seriously.

So here's my prize pupil--holding his favorite movie and asking me to tell him the names of all the cars.

PS. He picked out this outfit.

Monday, September 5

Mondays with Mom--New BFF

Waiting in the Atlanta airport to board my flight, there was a flurry of excitement as everyone realized that Lou Holtz (famed Notre Dame coach) was waiting to board.  He graciously posed for pictures with all the crazy sports fans.  I was upgraded to first class and hoped that I might get to sit by him. Football knowledge is way down on the list of my successful conversation topics, but I was thinking that a 90 minute flight with Lou Holtz might give me some standing with my football freak friends.
Lou was in 2D and I was in 2A--same row, but miles apart.  The gentleman in 2B was already seated, so I crawled across him (hitting him with my backpack).  As I got settled in, I listened to 2B talking on the phone.  The voice was familiar and the conversation was about TV interviews and press conferences... WHAT?  Curiosity was getting the best of me, but I tried not to stare. When the plane was boarded, he took off his huge sunglasses and Mr. 2B was...
Colin Powell.
The flight attendant appeared and asked if I would like a preflight drink – “white wine, please”.  She asked 2B if he would like a drink and he requested a vodka and tonic.  I chirped up and told her that I would like to buy his drink.  Big chuckles all around (since drinks are free in first class). The ice was broken and we chatted for the remainder of the flight.

I brought a crab/shrimp wrap on the plane with me but didn't dare eat it.   What if I had unsightly lettuce stuck between my teeth or if I had major mayo dribble down my shirt?   Too much risk. Conversation was amazingly easy. We talked of family, golf, work and travel.  He wrote Dave a sweet note (a result of mentioning my reputation for embellishing stories and the fact that my dear hubby might not believe my 2B story).

Every noteworthy event needs a souvenir or three - see picture below.  I kept a water bottle (he handed it to me), my half eaten cookies (we were chatting while I snacked on them, they became a souvenir) and the note he wrote Dave (written on a page of his itinerary for the Little Rock trip).   

While he napped (after his second vodka tonic), I recalled the terrible events of 9/11 and how in those dreadful days, I felt a bit safer knowing Colin Powell was charged with finding the bad guys.  He was a powerful military man and his presence gave me a sense of security.  We spent most of the flight chatting about family, kids and his upcoming 50th anniversary - in light of that conversation, I was struck with how difficult it must have been to serve the country in that time.  He loves his family and like any husband/father, feels guilty when work trumps home.  Public service is a tough gig! In an attempt to express my appreciation, I wrote him a brief note. “America is a greater nation and the world a better place because of your years of service.  With heartfelt appreciation, Cynthia”

As we taxied to the gate, I gave him the note.  It had been a rough week for my BFF, Colin. The tenth anniversary of 9/11 is looming large and he had spent the past 48 hours doing interviews responding to some uglies in the Cheney book. Apparently, even a famous person benefits from a well timed kind word from a total stranger.

He read the note, paused for a minute, turned to me and saw tears in my eyes.  He leaned over and kissed my cheek, thanking me for my kind words.

The plane was empty and I still sat in my seat.  I wasn't in any hurry to hasten the ending of my magical moment. The flight attendants huddled around to hear about my adventure. I am not overly impressed with movie stars or rock stars.  But, I am impressed with Colin Powell and it was remarkable to spend 90 minutes with an American hero.

My Greenville office building had a wall of Colin Powell quotes and here are two of my favorites (made even more special since I had the pleasure of his company).

About Leadership – “The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them.  They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.  Either case is a failure of leadership.”
About Life – “Perpetual Optimism is a Force Multiplier”

(Note from Rachel: those are my absolute favorite cookies, which is funny because they have no chocolate.)

Another note from Rachel... my mom didn't get a picture with Mr. Powell, because she's not a crazy stalker.  So I took the liberty of creating this suitable for framing, artistic rendition of what their picture would have looked like.

My Photoshop skillz know no bounds.

Thursday, September 1

Braden's Quirk

One of the most exciting parts of babies is watching them grow up--and learning who they are.  Braden's a thumb sucker.  I'm just going to have to deal with that.  It's not just when he's tired, it's pretty much all the time.  And it's really sweet.  He's also a foot grabber--but I think all babies are.

Now that he has a little more control over his hands, he's added a new action to his thumb sucking.  He sucks his left thumb, and with his right hand he grabs his shirt and pulls it up to his face.  Which means his onesies are always stretched out.  And when he's nakie after bath time he gets very confused about where his shirt is.

I'm trying to give him a little lovie or stuffed animal to hold, and he likes that when he can keep track of it.  Really though?  It's just precious.  It's so sweet that he has a little quirk, a little mannerism that makes him different than Finley.  And he's sweet.

And for absolutely NO reason, this just popped into my head, and so I had to post it.  Because all the time, ladies be asking Braden: "Baby Braden, how come you don't dance no more?"  And he's like, "Ladies.  LADIES."  

Welp.  There's your flashback to the Homestar Runner days. Weird. Theeeeee end.
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