Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Treehouse Museum

Dying to get out of the house (and Mountain Green), I convinced Tim to drive me to the big city of Ogden for an outing to see Santa (which was a bust, though we did eat at Chick-fil-a in the food court) and then had him drop the kids and me off at the children's museum. He took a relaxing break at a nearby coffee shop and read while the kids and I spent three glorious hours in what was a surprisingly entertaining museum. There were some really neat exhibits:

Anybody recognize this guy??

Playing doctor in the new baby nursery

Why yes, Atticus is wearing PJs!

This girl was a blur of energy, difficult to get pictures of -- she was having a blast.

Whimsical fairy-tale figurines

In the "partici-play"

My favorite part: old-timey schoolhouse. 

Oh, you know, just in a Mongolian yurt.

Then we headed to China.

In China.
It was one of the first times I've been out with my kids' and they have played nice, together and with other kids, with little adult intervention. Unfortunately I didn't bring a book, just basked in their kid joy and explored the awesome museum myself. I was frequently turning a corner into something cool and yelling back "Atticus, you HAVE to see this, hurry!" And the museum itself is not expensive, I think our admission was $5 for adults and $6 for the kids. Cheapest children's museum I've ever been to, and totally worth it (but they don't participate in ACM reciprocal, unfortunately!) If you ever find yourself in the dismal city of Ogden, there is a bright spot, have no fear! With or without kids, go to this place. You will not regret it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Thanksgiving week

Monday: We had our first big snow of the year. Our babysitter that was scheduled to come so that we could go on a hot date got sick, so we ordered Chinese instead, the first time we've ever done that, as far as I can remember. We spent $35 and ended up with about four too many meals.

Tuesday: I parent helped at Atticus's school and did some shopping while he was still at school in the afternoon. At Whole Foods I learned that we can get $5 off of every $30 shopping trip whenever we are riding our bikes. If we had known about that before, we would have many more $5.

Wednesday: We had some people over for a playgroup and made some new friends. Cait has a thing for Europeans, and found new friends from Macedonia and Hungary. Always great. Atticus had school in the afternoon.

Thursday: Thanksgiving! We spent a good portion of the day at FUS, where we had a very lovely communal early dinner. Ours were the only kids there, so they got a lot of nice attention. It was organized by a couple, Bob and Kelly, and Kelly spent so much of the day playing with Atticus and even brought some activities especially for him. We spent a lot of the day in the childcare room, basking in the sunlight let in by the wall of windows and letting the kids play for a long time. Atticus and I stayed after Cait went home to put Lulah down for a nap and we were the last ones to leave along with Bob and Kelly. It was sad not to have leftovers but it was great not to have any really prep (besides the broccoli casserole we brought) or cleanup, although we helped a little. It was also nice to meet some new people.

Atticus's teacher Kelly -- she is amazing with the kids (has four of her own, all grown up)

Yummy food, nice folks.

Friday: Pizza night, leftovers style brought no returnees but Cait's new friend from Hungary, Mariann, came over with her two kids Hanna and Bende. They chatted a lot while the kids played nicely in the bedroom for most of the time. Mariann is on the verge of finishing up a PhD in Economics, and they met in a kids' music class that Lulah and Bende are in together.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chopped party

I think we've talked about this before, but Atticus is really into cooking shows. He especially loves competitive cooking shows ("Chopped" and "MasterChef Junior," specifically), although really any cooking show. We decided it would be fun to have a little cooking night with some of his friends and treat it like a mock Chopped show. It was too bad that Atticus's teacher Laura and her daughter Lilas weren't able to come, which was my fault for missing her on one of the emails we sent out, but we will hopefully have more in the future, because it was a blast. Atticus's friends Donovan, Chico and Virginia were able to come, along with their mom's and Chico's dad.

If you haven't seen "Chopped" it's a show where professional chefs have to cook an appetizer, an entrée and a desert in a limited amount of time using four or five mystery ingredients along with whatever they find in the communal pantry/refrigerator. Atticus loves all the aspects of the show, from the strange ingredients, to the eliminations, except when a mean chef comes on the show, which fortunately doesn't happen that often.

First we watched an episode of "MasterChef Junior" which is a competitive cooking show for kids 9-13, which is Atticus's current favorite, while we ate some rice and chicken, just in case the food creations didn't turn out as edible.

Then we were on to the competition. We didn't follow the show's outline exactly, of course, because we are not professionals. What we did was divide up the kids into two teams, which we switched for the second round. Two of the families (ours and Virginia's) brought ingredients for an entrée and two (Chico and Donovan's) brought deserts. We ended up with "alien" omelets with beets, chicken and nuts on one dish and sweet potatoes with a cranberry sauce and gingerbread on the other, with a veggie burger. Both dishes were really, surprisingly good.

The deserts were peppermint pancakes with an original syrup that seized up and became candy and almond butter frosted cupcakes, which were both also quite good.

It was a ton of fun. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. The timed aspect worked well as 30 minutes for each dish was just right for everyone.

Renata opening the cranberries

Way too many videos:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nighttime babe

Me and this girl have had so many late-night chat sessions. Tallulah came into this world a terrible sleeper. She grunted ALL night long for the first few weeks, then we had an amazing 4 months of 12 hour nights courtesy of the Rock 'n Play sleeper (seriously, you should get one, they... well... rock). When we moved to Wisconsin and our apartment was 300 degrees, it was too hot for her to sleep in it and then we she outgrew it when the weather cooled off/we bought fans. We tried not one, but two cribs (after I found a Stokke at a garage sale and I had to have it) unsuccessfully and then it was back to co-sleeping. Girlfriend is 21 months and going strong in the nursing all night-hanging out with mom all night department. Yes, I'm tired. Don't tell me that I probably am. Yes, I'm ready for it to be over and would love for her to sleep through the night and have some alone time with my partner. Yes, it's awesome that I have not had a period yet but would trade 8-hour stretches of sleep for a few days a month of discomfort hands down. But yes, she is usually the most darling thing around and even at midnight we have a great time together -- webcam evidence:

House tour

I love seeing pictures of the inside of my blogging friends' homes. So, if you don't, skip this post!

Our house evolves on an almost weekly basis. I am kind of obsessed with re-arranging, re-evaluating, and de-cluttering. Tim and I recently joined a decluttering support group on Facebook and have had a fun time finding new challenges and seeking to utilize our 600-sq-ft to its maximum efficiency in a minimalist and non-cluttered manner. I like my space to be neat, organized, and free of junk everything. I hate trinkets and have no tolerance for clutter...

About a month ago, Atticus was gifted a new bed from a professor in our department whose kid outgrew it. Since it's painted pink and purple, it was pretty much the great thing ever, though he was a tad disappointed because we thought we were going to buy him bunk beds before it was given to us and he was really confused as to where Lulah would sleep. No worries, dear brother! We just tossed her crib mattress on the floor next to his bed, and we push it under in morning, trundle-style. The arrangement is working out pretty good, it allows her a space all her own, and it's easy for her to get out and walk into our bed when she needs us in the night (like when Atticus rolls out of bed on top of her... oi!)

I snapped these photos right after we set up his new bed and room, and had every intention of posting them then... but our home has even changed since then. We no longer have the train table in the nook (kids didn't play with it often enough to justify all the space it took up) and I am currently thinking about options for a reading/book nook or a Lulah-bed nook. Once Lu is sleeping better at night, we are thinking about trading in our king-sized mattress for a smaller one since it takes up our entire bedroom. I want more desk space for studying, and I kind of want something off the ground so we can store boxes underneath.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Pinks tights = girl?

Atticus has been mistaken for a girl many, many times in his life. He often wore Annabelle's hand-me-downs, and he loves pink tights and dresses. It doesn't ever really bother me (and I don't think he's ever noticed before) because I guess I figure that if you dress your son in a skirt and pink tights, then people will think he's a girl, whatever. On Sunday a few weeks ago, however, he was mistaken for a girl in front of an entire congregation of Unitarians, and I think it was the first time in his life that he's thought "I'm NOT a girl! Why is he calling me a girl?" and I'm not sure how that is going to change his perception from this time forward, but I have noticed him being increasingly gendered lately. A few weeks ago, he didn't want to hold Tim's hand during our prayer, only the "girls's". He wouldn't sit in his grandpa's lap tonight, only "the girls's, mom's or Grandma Betsey's or Lulah's". I hate that our culture has to be so binary boy/girl everything. I don't know how to escape it, or how to even begin instilling in him that it's ok to wear pink tights and dresses if you like them, regardless of what genitals you have, when everything in our culture tells him it's not ok.

I love the story that goes around the women's studies departments about the little boy who wanted to wear pink to school. The other kids mocked him, so he showed them he actually was a boy by pulling out his penis -- "see, I AM a boy, I just like dresses" he told them -- to which one of the children replied: "anyone can have a PENIS. only GIRLS wear DRESSES!"

Rockin' the skirt and tights

Sometimes you just have to walk through a blizzard

On Monday, I needed to finish up finals and get some errands done and Tim had already left for Utah, so I packed up Tallulah and we bussed over to Little Chicks, an hourly daycare center near our house. We have 20 free hours there a semester, and had only used up about 7 with Atticus one day. After I dropped her off, I headed to the mall to do some returns of things I bought online from Eddie Bauer and REI, then headed to the library to return some books, ate a nice lunch at a cute little pizzeria near the library to celebrate another successful semester of grad school, and my busiest yet (yes that book is my break-time pleasure reading).

 I then had a hair cut appointment from a Groupon I bought from someone we know from Eagle Heights. After a truly amazing hair cut (day three, still love it), the snow was coming down crazy hard and accumulating fast, and I only had about 45 minutes to get from there to pick up Tallulah. While it was only about 2 miles or so away, the bus ride to the transfer center and then down to the center would take that long. I waited for a while for the bus, then realized it probably wasn't coming so started walking. I was pretty bundled up but my fingers were freezing by this point (in my REI ski gloves) and the street was up and down and uphill again. I had no phone (haven't had one for several months now) to call the center and tell them I'd probably be late and no way to check if the busses were still running. I made it to the main(er) street and realized that the busses were running, and guessed that my bus was detoured because the street I was on had so many steep hills.

I made it to the main road, and ended up catching a bus that took me directly to her school, and made it 10 minutes early. Not anticipating a snow storm, I brought her in the Maclaren stroller, which obviously does not do great in 6-inch deep snow piled up on the sidewalks. We walked to the bus stop, waiting for half an hour or so while she happily played in the snow. By this time, the traffic was crazy backed up because of all the accidents on University Avenue, so we instead walked behind some guys running a snow blower all the way to the mall about half a mile down. We went to the Stride Rite store looking for boots (ended up just measuring her foot and ordering some Sorels online for her) and then spent another half an hour waiting for the bus outside the mall (there is a real time app that I used and it said the bus was going to be there at 6:38 pm, but it didn't show up until half an hour later). We did get to wait with a cool couple heading home from watching the Hobbit. They were adorable and super nerdy. We finally made it home and I had absolutely no motivation to clean my house and pack for our trip. Somehow I managed the packing, and I'm not looking forward to returning to a messy house in three weeks.... but oh well, the hard part is over, we made it across the country in a day and Tallulah waited to start throwing up with a stomach virus until we were safely at my in-laws' house. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snow, snow go away

Atticus hates the snow. With a passion. Every time we walk outside, he says "ugh, SNOW. Why is it still here?" And I say "got news for you boy... it's gonna be here a LONG time." I told him about a magical land called California where it's sunny and warm all the time. Now he asks to move there all the time.

Tallulah, on the other hand, loves it. She loves sledding (except when she crashes, see below), she loves walking in it, she loves exploring, stomping, and laying down in it. She'll be the reason we're dragging Atticus outside all winter long...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tallulah tries to sleep

At Lulah's preschool, or early learning center, or whatever, they have her on a really good napping routine. Professionals. She apparently loves it so much that she tries to recreate the situation at home (and at other places) all the time. She gets her blanket, a book a pillow and sometimes a stuffed animal and takes a good fifteen minutes to situate herself before laying back contentedly. It's usually when she is tired. But it never actually involves her going to sleep. It's...

Giving up after Thanksgiving lunch
really cute.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Throwback: Germany weeks 2 and 3

Edit: I love how Tim started this post four months ago but never posted it. So here I (Cait) am, finishing it up and publishing it. Here's a throwback to our travels this summer, and if this doesn't make you miss summertime (and Europe... sigh) I don't know what will.

Since Cait covered up through our first 10 days or so, I will do the last 10 days or so of our 3 week adventure in Germany. It probably deserves to be split up into separate posts, but I lack the energy. I won't try to put these events onto specific days, but just highlight some of the cool things we did.

We went to a cool park in the woods behind the town's castle. There was lots of cool stuff to see, but apparently we only got pictures of the place where you could float a boat on an artificial, yet very organic, lake. Atticus loved this part.

The legos also came out this week and provided near endless entertainment, but also served as an occasional point of conflict.

Lulah reading some great books

Incredible public pool:

Finally, we go to Heidelberg as a last hurrah before Juwe heads back to Bodensee to work. Looking back I really wish we had traveled more around Germany, next time we do anything like this it will be at the beginning of a long summer of travels, not at the end when we are out of money and energy. But the last trip to Heidelberg, while fun, was also really taxing. The kids were really demanding, we had to eat lots of ice cream cones, and Lulah developed a wicked rash on her torso and face probably from the heat, and the trek up to the castle was suuuuuuper steep and long.