Friday, December 21, 2012

I'm NOT a Blond(e)!

I grew up a blond, I identify with blond hair, and I certainly tried to keep the blond longer than what it wanted to stick around. I get blonde jokes forwarded to me, and I get asked if the blonde is seeping through to my brain...The truth is, I have been not a blond for quite some time, but I refused to give it up.

I had the white blond hair as a kid, but as I grew up, it became the dirty blond, almost like it had natural highlights.  It helped that I was outside a lot! Hello, swim team and lifeguard!  But then I had a real job, and I wore a hard hat, and my hair didn't see the sun quite so much.  Gone were the careless days of hanging out in the sun from early morning until the sun went down, and gone was the natural blond hair.

And so what if blond isn't natural? Or red? Or brown? Or whatever color you want to be, right?  I mean, it's just hair, and it only requires maintenance.  However, that was my issue with being blond - it's high maintenance, or at least it is to me. I mean, I have to remember to go the salon once a month to have the roots touched up! ONCE A MONTH! Not my style, I like every other month at a minimum, so I needed changed. I wanted change, and heck, based on the last personal post, I needed SOMETHING. 

So I went to the salon, and made a bold, on-the-spot decision.  I was going darker, I was getting rid of the blond (and red) and trying to go for something more natural. Although, at this point, it's hard to tell what's natural, but blond wasn't it.  So darker it was...darker than normally necessary in order to cover the red, too.

At the salon, I loved it.  Loved the change, love the solid color, and of course, love the cut and style.  But on Tuesday, I had a minor freak out.  It could be all the "Hey Blondie" comments I received now that I wasn't blond that made me think I rushed into the change.  So I called the stylist, booked an appointment for this Friday, and scoped out my hair every time I was near a mirror.

I love my stylist - I have been going to him for almost 6 years, and he was the first stylist I actually saw on a regular basis - ya know, no Great Clips, Super Cuts, mall salons, etc.  I trust him, and he has always given me great color and/or cuts.  He knows when to be bold with a color or cut, and when to be more conserative.  I have never regretted the work he has done. Never.

By Friday, I was (back) in love with my hair, but I went anyways.  The stylist and I talked, I tipped him in baked goods, and left with the wonderful hair he gave me last week.  No change, and I love it.  So here it is, no more Blondie (but hey, tell that to the guys I work with):

Immune to No

I swear Aidan received a vaccination at his 12 month appointment that eventually gave him immunity to "No."

Gone are the days when we say "No sir", he closes a cabinet, and we say "thank you." Or he steps away from the trash can, or he doesn't throw his food. Not any more. No sirree.

The pediatrician said we have to get creative (at his 15 month appointment) with "no". Huh? Should I use German, Spanish, French? Well, I don't know French...what do you mean, creative? Apparently, Aidan hears "no" too often that he became immune to its meaning, so we have to be more specific. Aidan, we don't spit our milk out. Aidan, we don't play in the trash. Aidan, we don't climb the chairs and rock them. Aidan, don't hit Bo, love Bo. Does he understand me?! Of course, he throws a fit when I take the milk away. He retreats to his toy area when I redirect him away from the trash can or remove him from the chair. He also understands how to pet Bo nicely. He hugs Bo.

We were warned, yup. The pediatrician said we can expect short attention spans, purposeful disobedience, and tantrums. Check, check check. Okay, Aidan, you passed with flying colors, can we move on to something else now?

So please, help me be creative before Aidan starts ignoring my remarks listed above. Here is his record:

Spits milk, especially when the dogs are around. He spits milk and plays with it on the floor while the dogs hurriedly lap it up.
Hits Bo (with a towel, his hand or a toy)
Hits me with his hands
Climbs chairs and rocks them
Throws food
Plays in the trash can - toys go in, trash comes out
Stands in the tub (Sit down doesn't seem to work anymore)

And using the full name doesn't work because he doesn't pay attention until he hears Aidan, and y'all he's Willis Aidan Bowers, so all he hears is AIDAN BOWERS, I don't get the impact of the full name as if he was Aidan Willis.  Oy, who knew using the middle name would bite ME in the butt, I mean, I sortof knew Aidan would eventually have difficulty.

Another issue is we laugh.  We can't help it, but what Aidan does will make us laugh, and we have to leave the room.  So Aidan continues the behavior for attention, and we know we have to hold a straight face, but it's hard.  It's hard when he's being silly, and I would rather laugh at a situation then become aggravated, but I know to help Aidan socially, I have to do something about the behavior...

For now, we'll find the positive in the michevious, attention driven behavior -  Laughter, learning, and loving

But hey, how about I balance out the negative with some positives.

Aidan was 30.2 lb and 34" at his 15 month check up. 95% for height and weight, and 50-75% for head circumference (no idea what the stat is). Aidan has stayed the course since birth - he was in these ranges and has not made an effort to slow down. There are meals where I swear he eats more than me!

He adds to his vocabulary, so we have to be careful with what we say.  We swear he is saying "thank you", "up", "milk" and "BoBo" very well lately. 

His walking is more human like and less zombie.  He runs, he climbs, and he loves playing outside so much.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stand Up for What You Believe In

There's a country song that goes something like this Stand up for something or fall for anything.

Let's be serious for a moment, no silly Diana.

I've been struggling lately.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes I yell, sometimes I have tons of confidence, and sometimes I wonder what I have gotten myself into.  I am pursuing something that could will affect my entire career because rumors spread and people talk.  Whatever I do, whether right or wrong, people will be different around you.  They'll walk on egg shells, refrain from telling a joke, or not comment your wonderful cowboy boots.  Because they worry, because they whisper when you leave the room...

My mom taught me to stand up for what's right.  She taught me to fight for what's right.  She taught me to stand strong even when you want to cry and break.  I saw and heard nasty remarks because my mom wanted to have a garbage dump removed from the front of a school. Rats, trash, and disrespect - she knew it wasn't appropriate in front of a school - She fought, people were nasty, we received harassing phone calls.  But she fought. She won...and people eventually thanked her.  Same school, and she didn't back down to an abusive principle.  She won, but she also lost along the way.  She lost sleep, she lost an appetite, she probably lost friends.  But she won, and people eventually recognized the wrongdoing. Eventually...

I cry, I hurt, and I fight.  What people have done is wrong and what they are doing is wrong.  If I sit by idle, they win.  They continue to treat people I care about with disrespect, and it's not just THEM, there's more out there.  I have to make sacrifices for my friends, for my future, for those who come after us.  I have to stand up for those who can't.  I have to say you're wrong, and I don't care what you do, I am not going away.

There's a scenario that I play over and over in my head where I get to express my feelings to the offender.  I know I won't get the chance, but I feel by playing the scenario in my head, I will feel justice.  

I wait.  I wait for the outcome.  I imagine the day I find out, the excitement, the victory, and I realize I am too excited, too optimistic.  What if THEY win? What if I made this up in my head? Then I am the fool, and I lose.  I lose confidence, I lose pride, and I lose respect.

But let's be optimistic.  Let's think about a positive outcome.  I hope I can make someone else what I was discriminated against.  Oh, the ironry, I wish for the irony.  But again, high hopes.  High hopes for justice.

Some think I am strong, I am confident, and I am a badass (sorry for the explicit language, but this is what I have heard).  But in truth, I avoid situations where I meet who I accuse. I can't eat lunch at the local cafeteria because I am afraid...afraid of who I will run into - what will they say...will I run the other way...will I speak up, will I embarass myself.  What will I do?  I'm not brave, I'm a coward.  I hope to stand behind someone, I hope to speak through someone, I hope to never encounter these people agian. And if I do, I will divert, divert, divert. 

So if you know me, please send your strength.  This fight isn't easy.  I must stand up for what's right, but consqeunces exist. I'm distraught, I'm crying, and I'm questioning myself.  But I must remember, Stand up for something, or you'll fall for anyting.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Building the Dream

Back in college, I remember day dreaming about my future and wanting a house out in the country with a long driveway shaped by beautiful hard wood trees.  I never had a vision of the house or the property, but a few years back, AJ and I came across some land out in the country with a creek running through it.  Perfect (except for the silly pine trees).  Oh wait, now we're tree farmers, okay, pine trees you're not so bad.  So for several years, AJ has harvested pine trees, leveled and plowed the land, and planted various fields for hunting.  Nothing profitable, but tree farming takes a while.  
So we're technically farmers...I mean we do own a tractor with various farming accessories.  We have waders, snake boots, pick up trucks...but AJ wants more.  He talked about COWS and CHICKENS.  What?! I'm not that kind of farmer.  Pine trees, pine straw, okay.  Animals...besides the dogs, oh no, what did I sign up for?  But that's all in the future.  First we have to live on the land and not 20 minutes away.  Then AJ will build a barn for the tractor and other farming equipment.  Oh, and the tree farming needs to become profitable so we can buy more land.  So it appears I have time to accept that one day, I might be woken up by a rooster or step in cow droppings.  However, I am getting ahead of myself.

Where are we at with our dream?

  • Well, we have house plans.
  • We have builders bidding.
  • We have a loan preapproval status pending.
  • We are in the process of refinancing our current home.
  • We know our budget and where we have to give if we want more home.
  • We have samples sitting on the dining.
  • We have catalogs stacking up in the office.
  • We have a closet design (*ahem*, AJ doesn't know this, but I have designed the closet layout)
  • We have two spots staked out for a home site.  Where we place the home is dependent upon DHEC and possibly the county.  You see, a creek is part of the state's waters, so there are restrictions on how close you can build and where your septic tank can sit.
  • I have many things pinned for ideas.
  • I have appliances picked out, or at least the minimum requirements.
  • I have made it known that the kitchen is mine to design.  Sure, AJ has veto powers, but when he started flipping through MY catalog making comments, I snatched it up and said that's not what I want...ya know, very lovingly.  There will be many decisions I do not care to weigh in on, but the kitchen is mine.  I've marked my territory.  

So the plan is to start building in February with a duration of 7 months.  

In the mean time, I day dream of walking my dogs leash free over the 26 acres, AJ knocking down silly pine trees to weave nature trails through the hardwoods, and building a bridge (I design) over the creek.  All in the future, but hey, dreamers need ideas in order to reach their goals, right?  I mean, we will have a nice long drive way, but we will need trees, and then there's a grassy opening where a small water fountain structure would be perfect, and then at some point, the drive will split off to go to the house (so I need a woodsy sign to point our guests) and to the creek.  I can envision all of this, but for now, I'll go scour the catalogs to perfect my kitchen.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Communicating with a Toddler

I have to remind myself to watch what I say or how I say something because Aidan is a sponge waiting to repeat something I did or said.  He says many words, some with intent.

Earlier this week, Aidan and I arrived home and as usual, he ran to the back door once we were inside to greet the dogs.  It was a colder day so I did not think we would play outside, but Aidan had other plans.  He banged on the door and said "eeeee, eeeee".  Hmm, not sure what "eeee" means, but we went outside, and he went straight for the swing, banged it, and said "eeeee".  Sure enough, Aidan was repeating "weee, weeee" which is what I say when I am swinging him.  So he has learned to associate "weee" with the swing.

AJ has repeatedly called a cracker a cookie when speaking to Aidan.  No idea why, but he does.  I was surprised earlier last week when Aidan came up to me when I was opening a packet of Ritz, and he clearly said "cooKIE".  It was cute and sweet, but of course, it took several days and many attempts to actually record him saying "cookie."

I know, toddler language can be difficult to understand.  You have to tune your ears into what they're saying and also try to understand the context of their language.  But hopefully you can hear Aidan asking for a cookie.  He loves Ritz crackers, and he has to have one for each hand.  Though most of the time, he feeds the crackers to the dogs, but he does take a few bites.

So at 14 months, this is what Aidan says
  • dogdog or doggy
  • dada
  • momEE
  • Bye Bye
  • Hey (when he grabs his toy cell phone or my cell phone)
  • Abby (baby at daycare, but apparently all babies)
  • Baby (will point at pictures of himself and say baby...or randomly call me baby)
  • Night night (more like nah nah)
  • Cookie (cracker)
  • dis (this/that and points to something)
  • Ut oh (probably his favorite phrase)
  • Bah (ball)
Sometimes,  it sounds like he is trying to repeat "thank you" but it typically associated with Aidan giving us a ball, so we are trying to focus on one thing or another.  We think "yellow ball, thank you" might be too much at once.  I'm sure one day, when he decides he wants to thank us, he'll repeat what he has heard.

I am actually surprised he doesn't attempt to say "no" since we do say "no sir" a lot.

With all the repeating and sponge like absorbency of what we do, you would think I could easily teach Aidan to say or mimic the touch down hands, but he has refused to cooperate.  Sometimes his hands randomly go up, but most of the time, if I say "touchdown!" he he did at the Clemson game.  One day...

But as we have learned, Aidan will do what Aidan wants when he wants.  He rolled over when he wanted to, he crawled when rolling was no longer the best method, and he walked when he realized he could get places faster.  I'm sure when he's frustrated with us not realizing what he wants, he will learn more of what to say.  I know, many people teach their kids sign language, but we have not opted, read: made time, for baby sign language.  Oh well, we'll all continue to learn and Aidan will continue to evolve.  Can't wait for his next word...unless it's "no." :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Please Motivate Me

When I say please motivate me, I really mean please sponsor me.  You see, since I ran my first 5K, I want to run many more 5K's.  After one 5K, I am addicted, and while I could run at my local track for free, it's not the same.  The 5K's have charities associated with them that use the race as a way to raise money and awareness.  The 5K's have trails and paths that are more challenging, and the people watching is fun while running.

It's not that I can't afford the entry fees to the 5K's, or even that I can't afford good shoes or new orthotics or the travel costs.  No, none of that is what I am seeking sponsorship for.  If you read about my inspiration for my first 5K, you know I run for Dylan.  My goals when running 5K's are telling Dylan's story and raising awareness for the March of Dimes.  So I want you to sponsor me - commit $ XX per every 5K I run, and when the March of Dimes fundraising for 2013 comes around, donate that committment to the March of Dimes Team, Devoted to Dylan.

Want to make it interesting?  Have graduated commitments based on the number of 5K's I run, the completion time, if I run the whole race.  Or get creative and dare me to wear a turkey on my head for the Turkey Trot runs or dress like an elf for a Jingle Bell run!  But please, motivate me to run faster, run more 5K's, and raise awareness for babies!  I will consider all commitments, so please, email me at or post a comment here.  I will happily make a spreadsheet to track the commitments and where I stand in completing those commitments.  You know I love a good excel spreadsheet, so please, help me. :)

I'll give you the excerpt on a letter I am sending in to help the March of Dimes receive it's own custard flavor at a local custard shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where the family of Dylan reside.

I am a member/supporter of a local March of Dimes family team, Devoted to Dylan.  I joined/supported the team because I am inspired by the strength and love Patrick and Jen radiate.  Hearing about Dylan motivates me every day to be a better member of society, a more patient wife, and a more loving mother who always remembers that not everyone gets to experience the highs and lows of parenthood.  Before hearing their story, I did not have a charity of choice; I supported several, but never became very involved.  Patrick and Jen have motivated me to spread the word about Dylan and the March of Dimes.  I live hundreds of miles from them, but that will not stop me from telling their story, promoting March of Dimes, and encouraging others to join me in the fundraising effort. In my growing story about Dylan, I would love to tell people about a local, custard shop that supported a member of its community by creating a flavor to commemorate the March of Dimes.  The Devoted to Dylan March of Dimes team 2012 fundraising efforts made them not only #1 in Milwaukee, but also #1 in Wisconsin and #9 in the country! 

Before I end my plea for sponsorship, here are two exceptions to any challenges:

1. My shirt - I have Devoted to Dylan shirts, and I will always wear these when I run, so nothing can cover my shirt.

2. My face - I have a plan for what I will wear on my face to also show support to the Devoted to Dylan March of Dimes team, so no facial challenges.  

So, Bring it On! please!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Inspired to Run - The First 5K

The last time I ran a race in a large event, I was in elementary school.  I know I was running somewhere near downtown Columbia, and while I was in the lead for my age group, I didn't reserve enough energy to maintain my position.  Part of the problem was I decided to break in new shoes on the race day because I wanted nice, white shoes on race day.  Big mistake.

I see a podiatrist regularly for feet issues, and they prescribe me prescription orthotics to keep me walking and running pigeon toed since the way I walk was not corrected, thus my ligaments grew in a pattern to how I walked.  When I tried to force my feet outward, I experience pain in my knees, hips and back.  So by no means, did I want to run for the heck of it.

However, after walking for the March of Dimes in April and also walking 4+ miles almost daily during my pregnancy, I assumed my body could handle running.  But I wasn't motivated to run just cause. No, a very special boy named Dylan that inspired me to walk in the March of Dimes has motivated me to run.  Sure, the charities that I will run for won't be the MOD, but I will wear a shirting honoring Dylan, and everyone behind me will see his name.  I will make sure that there are people behind me to see his name.  In fact, my first 5K, I heard people talking that it was a great idea (my shirt) and asked where I had it made. Thank you, thank you for reading my shirt.

So on to my first 5K - The run was called Color Me Rad and I heard about it from a college friend.  Since she already had a team, I started my own called The Palmetto Ladies. I know, originality was lacking, but whatever, it worked.  I tried to recruit many, but I heard a lot more excuses than yes's. So be it.  Anyway, two of my sister's friends and my sister in law bravely joined me.  I believe this was the first 5K for 3 of us, with my sister in law completing others some years back.  I was excited that they joined me.

The night before the race, courtesy of my mom, my sister in law and I stayed in a hotel in Columbia, SC while the other two memebers stayed at a friend's house in Columbia.  I set an alarm for 6:25 AM since I am a chronic snoozer, while SIL set an alarm for 6:45 AM; we went to bed at 9:30 PM.  I peeled my butt out of bed at 6:35 am and began getting ready.  I was quietly going about my business, when I had the need to flush the toilet....the flush was probably heard on the first floor along with my jumping.  The toilet was so dang loud and unexpected that I woke my SIL before her alarm clock.  No big deal.  I ate a banana, proceeded to get dressed, and then waited on my SIL to finish her oatmeal.

We left around 7:10 AM when the temperature was approximately 47 degrees Fahrenheit.  We drove 15 minutes to downtown Columbia with the heat blasting to warm us up.  After easily finding parking, we jumped out the truck, debated on carrying water bottles, and took before pictures.  We were in shorts and t-shirts, though I opted for a long sleeve tee compared to SIL's short sleeve. Silly right wrist needed to be kept "warm".

We walked to the Colonial Center to the starting line and looked for our other teammates, which we never did find.  SIL and I quickly found our place at the starting line and waited until 8AM.  The temperature was supposedly 50 degrees Fahrenheit and very tolerable.  SIL and I tried to read a guy's watch for the time, but he talks with his hand, and while we tried to creep on his wrist, he kept moving it.  Good thing he never turned and looked at us, otherwise, he would see us staring at his arm like crazy!

Finally, the race began, and we climbed the first hill, passing the slow runners and walkers.  We ran and talked and wondered when the first color station would occur.  We decided we could run slow through the color station to ensure we were properly coated.  We ran through the first station, I was coated in color, but SIL looked like she skipped the entire event!  So at the next color station, SIL was bound and determined to be painted whatever color it was, but again, she came out practically clean!  Her frustration reminded me of Ross off of Friends trying to get an even spray tan.  He counts incorrectly, and gets too much tan on one side, then goes back and screws up again.

So on the third color, SIL and I switch sides, slow down the pace, and she gets color bombed. Too much, in fact, the lovely sunglasses they gave us did not help her poor eyes.  The dust when into her left eye, but being a trooper, she kept on running.  From this station on, Amanda did not have to worry about not being hit with color.  In fact, I wish I made her my body guard for color.  At one station, the guy did not realize I am short, so instead of hitting me in the chest he gave me a great dose of green right inside of my ear.  Greeeeat, now I can have greenish ear wax.  Black heads...pshhhh, green heads.  Anyway, we were making great time and never slowed our running pace, but then we hit a strenuous hill.

Two things kept me going during this 5K - SIL's pace and Dylan.  I did not want to let either one of them down by running. Make no mistake, I ran 3.12 miles at a local track without stopping.  In fact, I had my time down to 26 minutes, and I assumed that Columbia was relatively flat....because it is.  However, the race officials found the most daunting hills possible.  On the last hill, which looked straight to the sky, I had to dig deep for inspiration.  No, SIL was not going to walk, neither was I.  So while I had the push from Dylan to keep running up the hill, I had to resort to a reward.  So as I am running  up this hill and passing others with my SIL, I am shouting HOT FRESH NOW! KRISPY KREME DONUTS!  Yes, I was screaming about donuts, and yes, SIL and I made it up the hill by running.  Unfortunately, after I made it up the hill, the pain shooting from my wrist to my shoulder told me I should walk.  So for approximately 1/10th of a mile, I walked, flex my hand, and stretched my arm.  The routine helped my wrist, and I was quickly back to running.  The rest of the race was down hill, and SIL and I handled it easily.  We crossed the finish line, grabbed our color bombs, and celebrated.

After chugging water, we had our picture taken then hurried to the truck.  I had spare clothes, so I quickly changed in the parking garage while SIL tried to knock off the loose color in order to keep my truck clean.  We took our after photos and then left to go back to the hotel.  After a 5K, we felt we deserved some hearty food at the hotel.  We had plenty of stares, but we just smiled and told people what we did.  Most were just waking up, so we felt pretty accomplished running a 5K and being back at the hotel while others were just moving around.  After breakfast, we took turns scrubbing ourselves in the shower and blowing blue snot.  It's amazing the colors you see when you sneeze.

SIL and I parted ways, but were so excited that we already committed to running the Color Me Rad next year.  However, in the meantime, we are searching for other races.  We found a Turkey Trot in Greenville, SC that supports Leukemia research which is very near and dear to SIL, literally.  In addition, I have an Uncle fighting a two year battle with the monster so why not help the cause?  In addition, we found a Jingle Bell 5K in Greenville, which means we should dress up Christmasy like....why not have fun and run for a good cause?

In the end, I can only thank Dylan for his inspiration that he and his parents have provided.  Without them, I wouldn't be addicted and wanting to help all these causes all while making sure more people know Dylan and his story.  No matter what I run, I will always wear my Dylan shirt, and in fact, am looking for more ways to show my support to the March of Dimes and Dylan.  So if you see me asking for 5K participants, don't hesitate to join me.  Whether you walk or run, you can help support many people and help me in honoring a very special boy. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Organizing What You Can't See

I continute to work on my tasks to help organize and clean up the house. So far, here's a list of items I completed:
  • Clean entire guest bathroom
  • Clean Master bath counters
  • Steam clean all the carpet
  • Mop all the floors
  • Organize the kitchen drawers
  • Organize the attic
  • Tried to pinterest recipes
  • Began dePenguinizing Aidan's room
  • Wash and vacuum my truck
  • Mount the bike trailer quick disconnect on my bike
However, there are things I did not accomplish, such as
  • Order Aidan's pictures
  • Make a 1 year memory book of Aidan's pictures
  • Build a PVC shelf for organization of storage containers.
I had a feeling that I was missing a measuring spoon, but I couldn't tell because others who help put dishes away don't always find the right drawer, so I had to reorganize and straighten up the drawers.

I have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but I lose touch with them when the drawers get messy.  I also know that I have lots of duplicates, but that is necessary so that you aren't constantly washing dishes while cooking or baking.

So far, it's been over the week, and the drawers look just as organized.  Currently, my teaspoon measuring spoon is missing.  I have no idea where it's at since I searched the other drawers. 

For the attic organization, I had pinned this to try and build.  I measured my containers, checked AJ's tools for a pipe cutter, and drew up the plans and took off material quantities.

However, I quickly found that the cost of the crosses made building this pinned item more expensive then buying a shelf from Lowe's.  The crosses alone were over $64.00. 

If you can find 1" crosses for significantly less than $2.37 each, then you can probably build this shelf for less than something you can buy at Lowe's.  The advantages of the shelf were you could build it to whatever height and depth specifications you needed, where as a store bought shelf was set, unless you wanted to shell out a $100 and get a tall, adjustable shelf.  This is not what I wanted.  I wanted something easily built, but also easily taken apart.  I mean, working in the attic, even in October is very hot.

So I bought a shelf kit, assembled it in the attic using a rubber mallet, and began my organization.  It was quite the success and now we have a lot more room to store a lot more baby clothes...or penguins (the stuffed variety).



 Of the two Pinterest recipes, one was a dud (cookie dough bites) and one was a huge success.  I made venison meatballs using this recipe.  They were a huge hit with fact, Aidan gobbled up more than I did.

Sharing Memories

My blood runneth orange.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I cheer for Clemson.  I was never a big college football fan until I attended Clemson, and as the Clemson song says, "there are something in these hills."  Something special no doubt.

On Saturday, AJ and I had the opportunity to share part of those memories we have with Aidan.  It was surreal being in Memorial Stadium at Death Valley, sitting in seats that I help erect, and looking straight at the end zone where we use to cheer.  Never would I have thought that those seats I help ensure had level concrete would be hosts to my family. 

As I stood to sing the National Anthem, say the pledge of allegiance, and bow my head in silence, I thought of Aidan one day attending Clemson.  I know, one step at a time, but I couldn't help but think about being in Clemson 18 years from now watching a game with Aidan because it was parent's weekend.  I know, I need to slow down and enjoy the moment.  It's also possible that Aidan will choose a different college, and I am okay with that, but for now, I will daydream of moving my son into the freshman dorms of Clemson University.

Aidan was quite the trooper.  He was up at 6:30 AM; someone must have whispered in his ear that he was going to have an exciting day.  He was immediately dressed in orange and allowed to play until our departure time.  He napped well, ate well, and played with his books.  Then came the stroller ride, saying hi to his uncle, and tailgating with friends.  He didn't fuss, he only showed off his walking (and throwing) skills. 

Once at the game, he was excited for the band, danced with the stadium music, and clapped at opportune times.  He was never scared of the cannons or fireworks, and he made friends with all of the people around us.  At one point, however, he was to antsy to be held, so I took him out to the concourse where he walked back and forth, banged on glass, and overlooked the tailgate lot through platform rails.

We stayed until the end of the 3rd quarter when we knew we had pushed our luck for the day.  Aidan hadn't napped since the car ride, and his behavior was on the verge of going down hill.  Overall, we had a fantastic day, Aidan enjoyed his first game, and I was able to cheer loudly without looking crazy.  The day was a success, and we look forward to sharing many more Clemson memories with Aidan.  We hope he grows up cheering for the Tigers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Art of Giving a Gift

When I pick out a gift or a card for that matter, I search, think, search, think some more, and finally decide I found the best this world has to offer me based on the idea I have in my head. Seriously, standing with me in a card aisle hoping for a quick selection is like hoping the Chicago Cubs will win a World Series in my lifetime. Notgonnahappen. Gift giving can cause me anxiety because I don't want to just pick any ol' gift out. I want it to be thoughtful, and sure most people do, but I stress about it. So much that Christmas gets me nervous. I want the person to love my gift and cherish it, who doesn't though, right??? Anyway, my latest gift giving adventure was for a wonderful little boy turning 1 in September. His dad happens to be serving in the military and flies helicopters, very cool, very respectable. I knew the parents liked having helicopter themed items, but I didn't want just any item. I mean, they could probably find all the Carter's onesies with helicopters...or Gymboree...or Fisher Price. So, when I began looking for unique helicopther themed, baby safe gifts, I wound up having to be creative and slightly crafty because everything I found was not the right gift I wanted to give.

I knew the birthday boy liked wooden blocks. My search for helicopter wood blocks directed me to a shop on Etsy. This shop made a transportation themed wood block set, so I thought, maybe the shop will make a customized wood block set with different helicopter designs. To my disappointment, the shop said "No." Well fine, I don't want your stupid blocks.

I pouted, surely those blocks would be a great, unique gift. Then I remembered the dremel tool we keep in our garage, and I knew it had an engraving set with it. My plan was to create my own custom wood blocks for the birthday boy. Well, I needed wood blocks, so I bought those stupid wood blocks from the Etsy shop, which fortunately does sell blank wood blocks. These blocks are organic with no preservatives, so it meant baby mouth safe. Yay!

The blocks I needed to get to work. First step, I needed to design what I would engrave. I knew I needed to plan for the joints because the harder engraving needed to be on the solid block and not where it transitions to another block. 

After measuring the blocks and drawing them on Engineering paper, I was ready to begin the helicopter design.

When I finished the basic design, I realized I needed to transfer the design to the blocks. It's easier to erase on paper than on wood blocks...I had sticker printer paper leftover from last Christmas's crafty adventure, that I made a copy of the helicopter onto this paper, cut it out, and laid it on the blocks.

The next step was using the dremel tool to cut the outline and intial engraving.  Fine tuning the engraving would come next.  Part of the process was learning what speed to set the dremel on and whether to use the larger engraving piece or the smaller one.  I also experimented with using a sander to help even out the larger areas, such as the helicopter blades, but the sander left marks on the blocks that I didn't like.

I also learned that different wood types reacted to the dremel engraver differently, sometimes a real pain.  The pine (right hand blocks) were not cool with changes in direction, so curves were difficult, and the engraver jumped outside of the lines.  The darker woods were more difficult to break the surface, but easier to make more intricate designs.  Curves were no problem, and you can hold the engraver in place to create a dark spot, so it allows more creativity. 
Finally to accent the engraving, I used a wood block conditioning oil and a Q-tip to "stain" the outline.  Wood block conditioner is food grade safe, so it's also baby mouth safe, and it adds a nice touch to the finish product.
Here's a view of the other sides, well, except one.  No idea how I forgot to photograph the final side.

The receiver loved the gift, which warmed my heart immensely.  I am so glad the Etsy shop refused to create a custom block set because it allowed me to create a more personal block set.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Task Oriented

Just over a week ago, I aired my dirty secret, and I made a list of tasks to complete.  So far, so good, in fact, I added to my list.

So far, the accomplishments off my task list are:
  • Update Banner on Blog Site
  • Update Aidan's photo on Blog Site
  • Organized my recipe books
  • Drop off Goodwill Donations
  • Organize the Pantry
  • Clean the master bathroom shower (Using blue dawn and vinegar made this task easy)
  • Clean the master bathroom toilet
  • Mount Bike Seat on my Bike 
  • Bake Pecan Pies
  • Bring alcohol wipes to work
  • Put Tide pen in my purse
Okay, so I should have taken a picture of my recipe closet before I organized it so you could see the mess, but I thought of that midway, so I threw all the paper recipes back in so you could get a feel for what it was like.

The recipes were definitely messier, and some of the books were just thrown on the shelf, so I organized by most likely to be used being the most accessible...which would be the Southern Living Cookbooks.  Anyway, I decided since I pinned some many items on Pinterest, that there was no need to keep a lot of paper recipes lying around when I have 400+ recipes I want to try that are easily stored on the internet.  No paper mess, sign me up.

Crappy story about the bike seat I bought super cheap at a neighborhood yard was missing necessary hardware to safely connect it to my bike.  Not bolts and nuts, but formed tube steel or perhaps aluminum that needed to connect to my seat.  I had the parts for bike seat to mount to the frame, but you have to have it all!  So instead of the bike seat, I searched for a used bike trailer on Craigslist, met the guy, tried the trailer out with and without Aidan, and bought the trailer.  Besides, I learned that if the bike tips over, the trailer doesn't.  No, I didn't fall, but the bike doesn't have a kick stand, and it tipped over at my truck while the trailer stayed horizontal.  Good idea.  I think not having a hard mounted bike seat to the back of my bike since I have had a crazy bike wreck that really has no explanation.  I ran into a tree off a paved path, and the last thing I need is Aidan attached to my seat.

And an organization project in process is organizing all of my cards. I had originally planned to do something that bound the cards together based off of a pin I found on Pinterest: Christmas Card Books.  However, after looking at all of my cards, I could not punch a hole in them; I do not want to damage my cards.  So I found a plastic container on Amazon that I could use to organize my cards.

 I am not a hoarder, but I keep all of my cards. Birthday, congratulations, Christmas, thank you's, wedding, random, etc...I keep them.  I have since I can remember, and it's always fun to read back through them and try to remember who people were that gave the cards to you.  It was also neat to read all the thanks I received from parents while teaching them how to swim or for the charities I helped out that I had long forgotten about.  I also liked seeing if I had matching cards and laughing at my friends who decided to pick out the most obscure cards, so here's a sampling of my cards:
Lots of Dog Cards for my Birthday

Lots of Penguin Cards - Anniversary, Birthday, and Random Thinking of You

21st Birthday - High School Friend and my Sister

Great friend from High School - She knows know how to make me laugh

10 years apart, but very similar Birthday Card

A Handmade Card from one of my first crushes, ya know, 1st grade crush. haha

Graduation Card, I forget what these girls are called, but still, I love a funny, off the wall card.

Alright, so I organized MY Cards, but not Aidan's.  I am not sure what I will do with his cards, maybe collect them in a box and see if he cares for them when he is older.  If not, I will keep them. Anyway, I sorted the cards by type, then attempted to put them in chronological order.

 So I feel like my motivation to clean and become more organized is going well a week into it.  I figured if I keep updating that I will keep up with my tasks.  In addition, every night, I have spent 20 minutes every night either cleaning or organizing. 

Wild Boy

 I don't quite recall when the switch was flipped, but within the last month, Aidan went from calm baby to wild boy.  It was around the time he started taking steps and realized he could take pillows of the couch, take some steps, and crash into the pillows.  He takes his push toys, and runs circles in the house, chases after the dogs, and runs over your foot.  He'll hit a wall, pull the toy back, and keep going - nothing seems to slow this boy down.

He runs over to his toy boxES, throws everything out, and then kicks it around.  He will help pick it up, but let's face it, AJ and I clean up 97% of it.  Silly, crazy boy.  Of course, we only encourage him - he is a toddler, and unless he is endangering himself or others, he should be having fun, even if it means picking up 100 blocks.  

The dogs have learned to run and hide when Aidan is using his push toys because I SWEAR he is chasing after them.  Though Bo is not so smart, or maybe he loves the attention, but he stands in front of Aidan wagging his tale.  Bo and Aidan seem to have bonded quite well.

Anyway, to update you and for my memory's sake, Aidan went for his 1 year appointment on September 5th.  Aidan was 27.2 LB and 32.5" long, supposedly 90% for each category.  In addition, he received two shots, though I now forget what they were.  Aidan did not react well to the shots, a few days later, he refused to eat, and if he did, he threw up.  This was our first experience with a reaction to the shots, and of course, it fell on his birthday party weekend.  Poor kid.  Though, still a wild boy, just not eating.

Aidan is currently wearing 18 month, 24 month, and 2T clothes.  Most 18 month shirts cause his belly to stick out or fit tight, so we moved up to 24 month clothes.  Big kid...future linebacker right?  Or maybe a drummer?  He loves music.  Fussy kid? Put on the country station and he starts to dance.  Hopefully this trick continues to work as we tread carefully in the world of toddlerdom.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Dirty Secret

I have a secret...and I'm ready to confess.  Maybe you'll help hold me more accountable once you know my secret.

You know all of those amazing (I can add that, right?) things I do - ya know - cloth diapering, making Aidan's food, trying new recipes, running 5K's, playing softball, and getting up at 4AM to work out? Weeeeell, it comes with a sacrifice. Sleep is already sacrificed. So what else? How about keeping a clean, organized house. I know, I have a toddler, but the toddler did not throw crap all over the master bedroom or pile paperwork, boxes, and other randomness in the office. The toddler was key in helping me convince AJ that it was time to purge the old VHS tapes - but Die Hard and Rambo are classics! Great babe, get them on DVD or watch them when they come on television. So after sharing my embarrassing mess the office is, and it only became worse as Aidan's birthday approached, I figured it was time to be pro active about organizing.

Since I am being honest here, the real truth is the clutter began not long after I started my Masters program, and it continued until I completed by PE license since they were back to back. So almost 3 years of a bad habit made it easier to fall out of my neat, organized routine I once had. Let's not talk about cleaning...yikes. There was a short period after my PE license and before Aidan was born that I knocked out a lot of house projects, cleaning, and organization. Anyway, on to the mess we live in.

First stop is the Master bedroom. Before, After, and Now. So before the organization, immediately after, and the living situation less than two weeks later. How about a B for maintenance effort...okay, C +??? Be generous. I worked on several other rooms in the interim, so it was clean the bed room, okay, now focus on the worse mess.

The second stop is the Office. Before (YIKES) and the Work in Progress

I know, you wonder how it gets like this.  You open the door, drop whatever it is that you want to hide or do not have time to put away, and close the door. QUICK, else the guilt of laziness sets in.  Really, the office became one big storage closet.  In fact, several instances while typing this blog out, I wrote "closet" instead of "office".  Obviously, the mentality had seeped into my brain.  But I am here to tell you, I am stopping such non sense. I hope
My plan is to spend 30 minutes each night after Aidan goes to bed cleaning, organizing, and working on my "To-Do" List so that I am not overwhelmed Friday and never get anything in order.  It's working so far.  I use to push laundry out until Friday, but instead of leading a load of diapers sit in a laundry basket, I stuffed, folded, and put them away.  I felt like I had accomplished something by being productive instead of lazily surfing the internet or watching tv. I downloaded an App for my phone to put my "To-Do" list items in it, and I can set a due date.  We'll see how long it lasts, but at least I have goals written down and will hopefully feel guilty if I keep pushing them out.
Also, since fall is here, it's time for the fall purging, so it coincides well with my want to get organized and cleaned.  Though I dare you to ask me in a couple of months how this new effort is going.  Hopefully well...hopefully.
I will hold myself accountable, and you can, too.
Here's my current list:
  • Grocery Shop
  • Mount the Toddler Bike Seat to My Bike
  • Drop off Goodwill Donations
  • Organize Office Paperwork
  • Place Tide Stick in Purse (incident with white shirt and coffee led to this, and yes, I need a task to remind me to do something so minuscule)
  • Write Clutter Blog
  • Make a book for Aidan's first year
  • Order Aidan's pictures
  • Bake Two Pecan Pies
There will be more items on the list, I'm sure of it, but this was the first day of making my list.