Monday, September 30, 2013

Lulah signs

Update: Woah, that didn't work. That's what I get for trying to be lazy and use blogger as a video uploader. Hopefully this is better.

Lulah is just starting to pick up some signs. She does it a little bit better off camera and non-tired, but this is a pretty accurate representation, and her one favorite word: bubbles. Good old Boogs.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ward Campout

We had a great ward campout with lots of our friends, both new and old, from the Mormon church. We went to Brigham Park, and although the weather was a little chilly, we had a great time. We got there, and with James McKay (whose birthday it was) struggled to get a fire going in wet conditions. Eventually a boy scout helped us. Cait keeps thinking I should know how to make awesome fires because I was a boy scout, but I think we maybe had one class on starting a fire once, and then the leaders made the fires from then on, or if not, the more assertive boys in our very large scout troop. Oh well, it started in the end. We roasted hot dogs, ate some delicious salsa that someone dropped off, and then spent some time at the main campfire and pavilion where people had been gathered most of the night, to cook some s'mores.

It was great to see so many of our friends that we hadn't seen all summer hanging out in one place. It really got us thinking about how much we love the people in our ward, and how awesome it would be if we all went to a church where we felt comfortable, but alas. Still, we are so grateful that everyone is so truly our friend, despite differing levels of commitment to Mormondom and continue to invite us to their activities.

We got the tent set up fine and all fell asleep well. Cait left to play games for a bit after the kids were asleep. We woke up to it being quite cold, but running around and warm food we made it through (although for the first time it really struck me, Mormons really need to find an alternative to a big pot of coffee on ward camping trips, or get used to drinking hot chocolate early in the morning). We played on the playground for a while, got another fire going and went on a beautiful nature hike before closing up shop for another year.

We obviously didn't get to camp as much as we would have liked this summer, but we had a really great time at least once, which is more than enough.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Almost a couch

Friday was our anniversary. The third most salient fact about our family: We are terrible at celebrating things. The twelfth most salient fact: We are always talking about how terrible we are at celebrating things because we feel guilty about it, and somehow feel like talking about it makes it okay.

In the morning, or the night before, I got the idea that I would buy a new couch as a surprise for Cait. I was planning on doing this for her birthday, but when I realized that this was our fifth and wooden anniversary, I thought getting a couch would be nice. Our couch right now is really crappy, and we're kind of nearing that stage that buying a nice couch that lasts is preferable to buying a succession of really crappy couches.

So, while Cait did homework and Atticus was at school, I took Lulah in the jogging stroller to the only close furniture store, Century House, where we had looked at furniture before and where, while a lot of things are pricey, there are few lower-end options that are still really nice.

After looking around for a while and having Lulah run head-long into a glass table she didn't see, I decided on this one:

Over this one

It's a little cruel of me to post these here to always remember the couch that got away, but I'd like evidence of my fashion sense broadcast to the world. Or at least my love of modernist orange furniture.

I got my friend Brad (thanks Brad) to come down to the store to help me get it in the community car that was supposed to be parked at the mall next door, but I forgot to reserve it, so I had to find another option. I called our friend Ana, who is wonderfully giving Atticus rides to school every day, and further imposed on her by asking if we could use her mini-van to get the sofa to our house. She said yes.

Brad rode his bike and I ran back with a sleeping Lulah to our house, so we could get rid of the old couch and make room for the new. Unfortunately, Cait was still home, although she had said she would be long gone by this time. I thought about concocting some story about how I found bed bugs in the couch or something, but it was unlikely to fly, so I told her the truth. She was predictably (if you know Cait and her loathing of surprise expenses) upset. I knew this was a possibility, but I also knew that if I didn't take a first step, we weren't getting a couch, no matter how little she dislikes the one we have. Cait just needs a little help to spend money sometimes. That's why I was very clear about understanding their return policy, so that even if I got the couch all the way here and set up, we could have still taken it back.

Of course, I could have found a much cheaper and probably still good couch on craigslist, but I hear their return policy is less than stellar. And I don't even know where the craiglist store is. Cait is always in charge of going there.

So anyway, I called the guy and cancelled the order, and everything turned out fine (except I left my keys there and had to go back yesterday). We had a great camping trip that night, which is my next post. We might still get a couch. Happy anniversary to us.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five years!

Tim and I's marriage is officially five years old! Two kids, nine houses, two bachelor's degrees, one master's degree, eight jobs later, we are living the good life here in Madison and couldn't be happier. In my comparative field seminar class, we have to say something "interesting" about ourselves every class period, and I've thought about the "I got engaged to a guy I only knew for two weeks and married him two months after that!" thing because it would probably blow everyone's mind but on the other hand I didn't want to appear stupid and immature either (because it was KIND of a stupid and immature thing to do looking back at it).

On the other hand though, I really don't think I could have picked a better person for me. We not only have a decent marriage, we are best friends, and talk about pretty much everything. Even when go on extended trips through Europe and Morocco and we are the only people the other one talks to for weeks at a time we rarely get bored of each other. I knew pretty much from the first few days I thought Tim was the coolest, and then things just spiraled from there. I don't really believe in soul mates, whatever that even means, but we fit so perfectly together sometimes it's the only term that describes how I feel about our relationship. Like our fashion senses, it keeps getting better with time.

Then, summer 2008.

Now. Summer, 2013.

First Days of School

This semester for me started off to rough start. I had my two busiest weeks right at the beginning, and had a hard time adjusting to the work load and being away from my kids all day. There might have been a few tears and some exasperated "I HATE GRAD SCHOOL"s. But this week was so much better and my confidence has been reinstated. I do have  a 10-minute presentation on my research in two hours in front of all the comparative politics faculty and students, and the fact that I'm not preparing for it and instead am blogging should give you a little insight into my (perhaps overly) confident new outlook. I am participating in class more and even sitting in the front. I had a 30-minute interview evaluation with my Arabic professor Mustafa Mustafa from Sudan, and felt so confident in my abilities to communicate in Fus'ha. I can listen to Al-Jazeera and understand 40% of what is being said. I feel like I've made it over the huge hump of Arabic fluency, and that is a great feeling. My class is also really easy (5th Semester, I skipped 3rd and 4th because of my 6 weeks in Morocco) and the workload is so manageable. I wish I was challenged a little more (I thought the program here would be more equal to the BYU one, but it's quite a bit less work), but grateful I don't have to devote too much time to it and still can learn it at a decent pace. Obviously, I can also put more effort into it on my own when I have extra time.

Atticus is loving preschool, of course. He requested specifically to stay with his Teacher Laura at her school and so we are making the long trek out to their new location every day. Well, we were making the long trek but now we are car-pooling with another family from Eagle Heights and splitting gas money, which has been a wonderful arrangement. We just keep a car seat in the back of their minivan and they pick him up and drop him off daily. We love it because they are awesome people and it is convenient for us, Atticus loves it because they listen to Yo Gabba Gabba! in the car. Whatever works.

Atticus is also really into "artwork" this year, which is funny because he wouldn't touch the easel last year and was way more into playing with the cars and trucks and blocks. He brings home 4-5 paintings and coloring pages every day (sometimes more) and I think we are definitely getting our moneys worth of art supplies. The other day he brought home 10 pages of the same thing, and I'm pretty sure no other kids go to do the activity because Atticus did them all. When I asked him, he said "Michelle did one!" but that was it. Atticus starts his phonology preschool next month, and then he'll be gone all day two days a week and part-day the other three. He loves school so much and gets so bored at home we are looking forward to that.

Tallulah likes school, I think. It's hard to tell with this girl. The first week she seemed to do awesome, we dropped her off and she played and didn't cry at all. Except she had a hard time napping and would only sleep in her teachers' arms or in the wrap (and they are gentle and loving and did not express any concern at this, even if it's their break time!) The past week though she has been crying when we drop her off, but I usually wait around and it only last a few minutes and they tell us when we pick her up she is generally happy all day and doesn't have a problem after that, which is reassuring. They have a beautiful, sunny room (the same one Atticus was in last year) with the impossibly tiniest chairs and tables I've ever seen. She goes all day, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from about 8:30 until around 4 when I pick her up after class. They play outside for at least an hour, take a nap (she slept on her cot for the first time yesterday!! woohoo!), and eat two vegetarian meals and a snack every day. She has things like potato leek soup and curried lentils with veggies for lunch. I wish I could have lunch brought to me every day like that :) There are eight kids in her class, and she has three sweet and competent teachers. I really couldn't have asked for a better childcare situation, for both the kids. It is wonderful for me to get those two days to be on campus studying all day, and it's great for Tim because he can focus on writing, applying to grad schools (more on that later), and doing his community involvement work with the assembly and the gun violence ministry team he is working with. And with our childcare subsidy from the university, we are paying something like $200 a semester for both kids. I love UW-Madison.

This is actually Atticus's second week of school, but Lulah's first day.

He was cooperating with our request for a picture of them together, she wasn't quite so sure about it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Birthday, Guy!

Our sweet boy Atticus is four. He is delightful and challenging like most children his age are. He is exhausting and frustrating and enlightening and inspiring. He says the absolute funniest stuff, and is really into hugging lately ("I need to hug you" he says nearly every morning and when he sees me again after a long day). He is super-duper cuddly and an awesome Lego builder. He loves his pink shirt handed down from Juna asks to wear it almost every day. He weighs a whopping 31 pounds and is the 5th percentile for height and 11th for weight. He LOVES going to school and can recite everyone's name and object from memory (Hunter House, Michelle Mouse, Lilas Lion, Camila Cat, etc. etc. His is Atticus Alligator). He can sight-read most three letter words and can read the entire first series of his Bob Books. His favorite foods are pasta, pizza, and macaroni and cheese, but chows down on raw cauliflower and carrots, any type of fruit, and Kashi GoLean Crunch. He is really into Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and his other favorite shows are Super Why! and Arthur. He picked out an outer space water bottle for his birthday and thinks it's the coolest. We think he is.

Opening up his present from Grandma Betsey and Grandpa Deven

For his actual birthday, we bought a take-home pizza from Whole Foods and had ice cream cones for dessert. We took cookies to his school in the morning too, but he REFUSED to let anyone tell him birthday or to sing to him (he said his birthday was the day of his party... but, then he didn't let anyone do it at his party either). I think he just didn't like the attention, or he's already having a one-twentieth-life crisis about aging too quickly. 

He wore the birthday crown (pink, of course) for about two seconds and I got one lousy blurry photo

When we tried to sing Happy Birthday

Atticus LOOOOOOOOVES "Teacher Larda" as he calls her. 

You are awesome, Guy. Happy birthday!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Ode to 28-yr-old Tim

Here's a list of things that are awesome (and somewhat unique) about Tim:

1. He not only lets me borrow his clothes, he tells me I look hot in them. He has no qualms about buying a shirt knowing we will both wear it.

2. He is crazy about our kids, and has played Arthur game and Chutes and Ladders what seems like an infinite number of times.

3. He will set up our tent in the backyard just because I want to sleep under the stars (and he acquiesces when I want to do more than just sleep).

4. He is confident in his masculinity and lets me be comfortable in my femininity without giving in to gender stereotypes.

5. He can grow a rockin' beard.

6. He is aware, painfully at times, of others' needs and tries his best to consider them in every thought, word, and action.

7. He is continually trying to improve himself... physically, spiritually, emotionally, interpersonally.

8. He is instilling in our children his great taste in music. Atticus singing the Lumineers is about the cutest thing ever.

9. ...but he is also willing to throw a Super Why! dance party at the slightest provocation.

10. He randomly scoops up my feet and rubs them.

11. He knows all the names of Atticus's My Little Ponies.

12. He has very strong opinions on lots of things but is flexible enough to change said opinions when convincing evidence proves him wrong.

13. He bakes delicious chocolate chip cookies.

14. He befriends semi-crazy old ladies just because.

15. Like fine cheese and wine, he is only getting tastier with age.

Photo credit: Atticus

With his friend Chido at a Zimbabwean music concert.

Taking Atticus to school by bus.