Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day weekend

This past weekend was random.
I can't ever remember thinking of Memorial Day weekend as anything too special. Growing up in Iowa, nine times out of ten the weather isn't overly warm so it ends up just being another day. One without school and mail.

On Saturday Graham turned 6 months old.
How fast did that go?

We took our monthly picture.
I wanted to get it out of the way in the morning before I forgot entirely in the hustle and bustle of the rest of the day. He appeared to still be half-asleep.
I meant to take some more... Always good intentions...

 He had to take a particularly important phone call mid-shoot.
I think it was either Barney or Ariel calling.

Later in the day we headed to Lytton's Gala Days celebration.
Only it ended up being a pretty big bust.
Due to the hours upon hours of constant downpouring, the parade was canceled. Believe me I had some bummed little ladies on my hands.
The weather did clear up some, or at least the rain stopped, and we were able to head in after lunch and attend the kiddie races.

Avery got 3rd place (out of three).
Now if only Beaner would have shouted, "Avery, let's change your diaper!" I bet she would have won by a freakin' landslide. It always works at home.

Bailey ran in her race too, achieving 2nd place and a whole 2 tickets to purchase half of a ride on the elephants.

Speaking of the elephants, we took Avery on her very first carnival ride.
The elephants.
Of course in typical Jeff Ellis fashion we talked the carnie into giving Catrina and me a free ride (seriously, they make adults pay to ride that crap with their kids) and settle for a ticket or two less for the girls' rides.
{Now if my children had taken their athletic pursuits of the day a little more seriously, I wouldn't have had to wheel and deal with carnies!}

Avery LOVED it.
She laughed and laughed the entire time, her hands clamped tight on the safety bar. One of the best parts of being a parent is experiencing these adventures anew through the eyes of your kids, even if this particular adventure was a ride in a dirty plastic elephant that slowly moved up and down.

The rest of the weekend was less than spectacular.
Jared is working 6 days out of 7 right now, so he wasn't awake much. And his few awake hours were spent cleaning our flooded basement.
Seriously Iowa, can't we just have some middle ground between an absolute drought one year and a borderline flood the next?

Graham had his first taste of non-milk food.
Sweet potatoes to be exact.
He did great!
I decided to skip cereal this time around, prompted by some articles I read about it being unnecessary, especially in breastfed babies. I actually make my own baby food. And if you're interested you can read just how easy it is on this blog post from a while back. Seriously, it's easy. And cheap.

So there it is - our exciting parade-less Memorial Day weekend. Thank God for those elephants, they really made all the difference.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

1st haircuts

Today was a milestone. 
And like all milestones, there were hysterics and tears.
Oh wait, that isn't what happens at your house?
Well, that's how it went down today.

I scheduled haircuts for both Bailey and Avery. Neither of them exactly "needed" a haircut. Truth be told, their brother needs one more than both of them. {But that isn't happening any time soon because that would make him appear waaaay more grown-up than I am prepared to deal with.}

I attempted to talk up this whole haircutting business.
I tried all sorts of different tactics.
Bailey was not having it.
Big girls get haircuts.   But I don't want to be a big girl...
Mommy and Grandma get haircuts.   Are you getting your hair cut today, too?
Your friend So-and-So just got a haircut.   Is she going to be there?
If you are good, you can have a sucker.  Umm... I don't think so.

But when the time came, she did end up in the seat, on my lap, in a cape, screaming as if her arm was being slowly sawed off with a dull knife. After the first snip - when she didn't feel pain to end all pain - she finally relaxed and took a non-hysterical breath. After that we were home free.

Avery did pretty well. After seeing Sister enjoy (if that the right word...) the end of her haircut, she was all about getting in on the action. She liked it for about two minutes and then was over it. God bless our hairstylist for being able to cut hair on a moving target!

I did get before photos, but seeing as my kids were nearing meltdown mode, they look a tad bit like homeless ladies without their proper psych meds.
So I am gonna go ahead and not post those...
And if I were awesome at this kind of stuff - which I am not - I would totally have a sweet before and after picture side by side thing. But I am way too lazy to google how to do that on Photoshop. (This is where Jared's technical skills are needed.)
So use your imaginations and pretend I made this look all professional. Okay? Okay.

Here are the after results.

Can't see much of a difference?
Congratulations - you sound just like my husband!
But really, Bailey's curly hair will benefit from an actual style.
And Avery?
I am sure she will continue to rip out any bows or clips I attempt to use in her hair and run around looking like she has never seen a brush in her life. As long as there isn't snot making her hair stick to her face, I will consider that day a win.

Friday, May 17, 2013

hanging in our backyard

I have had quite a few blog ideas circling around in my head this week, but I haven't had the energy or the time to put those thoughts into words.
With Jared now working 12-hour shifts starting at 6 PM and the girls waking by 6 AM (or before - ugh!), I am just tired. I have had my share of trying moments the past few days. It's hard to keep your cool when your kids wake up whining and seem to never stop. Avery has seemed under the weather for almost a week now - not eating, extra naps, lots of whining. And to top it off, I have a bad cold.
I can't handle much more grumpiness, myself included.

So I am taking the easy route and just posting photos of our week, largely spent outdoors.

The weather is finally nice, and we have spent many hours in the backyard together.

Happy weekend!

Monday, May 13, 2013

"Little Puppy"

"Little Puppy" has arrived at the Solko household. And he now has a name: Tucker.

He is a bichon/shih tzu mix - commonly referred to as the "teddy bear" breed.
He is 8 weeks old and we have lots of days of potty training and chewed up kids' toys in our future.

He is loved by every family member so far.

Get ready to play dress-up, Tucker.
I have two girls that are just dying to push you in a doll stroller.

my creative hubby

It's no secret that Jared loves a good project. He also loves to stay busy.
{Blame the ADHD...}

His first project was a kids' picnic table.
It turned out really awesome and the girls love it. It's even more special because Daddy made it for them.

He liked building the table so much, he got the idea to start making more things, but on a cheaper scale.
So recently he has started creating new items using old stuff, like windows and wood.
It helps that my dad is an avid "collector."
{My mom, sisters, and I might agree that the term "hoarder" is more appropriate.}
Around the farm Jared has found old items to reuse, like wood from old pallets and windows without glass.

This last one might be my favorite.
It's relatively simple for Jared to make and can be used a bunch of different ways.
Plus it's cute.

He recently started his own Etsy shop with the items he has made thus far. He likes making all these things, and selling a few would fund his hobby plus help him make a little money for his time. He actually just got his first order for one of these personalized welcome signs today.  :)

If you would like to check out his shop, follow this link:
BrandNewToMe on Etsy
Or if you are in our area (NW Iowa), let us know and he would be very excited to make you something!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

why moms do what they do: it's all starting to make some sense now...

When you're growing up your mom does all this stuff that seems crazy.
You think to yourself,
Ugh! Why does she say that?
And why does she do that?!
Well I am starting to understand...

"We"ll see."
This one was the worst! Why couldn't she just make a decision?!
Recently I have found myself saying the exact same thing. Basically I am buying myself time to determine if I want to deal with the fight that comes with saying no or if it's just easier to cave and let Bailey wear another fluffy over-the-top dress to bed for the 9th night in a row.

Not buying us everything we wanted.
One Christmas I was obsessed with a Barbie play house bathroom set. This bad boy came with a sink, toilet, AND shower/tub combo. Sweet? Yeah, I know. I remember it costing less than 30 bucks in the JCPenney Christmas catalog, so I figured that was do-able for "Santa." Well, apparently Santa had other ideas. Christmas morning came - no designer bath for Barbie.
This one is hard for me, because while you're all probably thinking it wasn't a necessity for my happiness, you didn't see the real-life looking pedestal sink and the tiny little knobs in the shower. Seriously, so precious...
But as a mom now, I understand why Santa saw fit to provide me with some stirrup leggings and a sweater with a cat on it: because kitten sweaters and pants that won't ever slip out of your shoes are practical. Plus my mom was probably thinking that she didn't need any more plastic crap laying around her already-crowded living room.

"Because I said so."
The most annoying mom phrase of all time.
We all know this isn't a real answer!
Why do moms use this one?
Answer: because it is the only thing you can think of at the moment and you don't want to not have an answer. Besides I have mom brain (pregnant brain that morphed into baby brain which took up permanent residence) and I can't think on my toes as quickly as I used to.

Those inhumane bedtimes.
My mom had a set bedtime for all of us and she was pretty strict about it. I begged and begged all of my 8th grade year to be able to stay up to watch a whole episode of E.R. (which by the way - why was I watching that show anyway? I am sure I understood about 5% of what was being said.) but my mom would only go as far as to let me stay up an extra half hour - to watch HALF of the episode. What?!
Totally getting this one, Mom. Seriously I wouldn't have even given me that half hour.
When 7:30 hits around here, I am basically running back down the stairs shouting "Freedom!" at the top of my lungs because I am finally child-free. Scratch that - make that "physically" child-free. I still get to listen to them whine from their room for another song or a different book for at least another half hour.

"You're just tired."
This is the phrase my mom used any time anyone was crankier than normal.
Our usual response: "NO I AM NOT!" (Which obviously cleared up that discrepancy...)
She was right - cranky kids are usually tired kids. When Bailey is over-the-top whiny and acting a certain way, I know she is tired and needs a nap.
But I never appreciated it when Mom would use this line on me as a teenager. Or even once when I was like 22. Ummm... I'm an adult now, and I know you are comparing me to a 2 year-old! Not cool. When you reach adulthood, you're probably actually upset about something - not just pissy because you didn't get your daily siesta.

Literally locking all us kids out of the house and not allowing us to come in for hours.
Seriously, can't we just come inside for a drink?  To get a toy?  To use the bathroom?!
It's now clear in hindsight that Mom just wanted to get something done - not just scrub a floor to find someone with muddy shoes walking across the opposite side of the same room.
Or maybe she just wanted to go #2 in peace. Because that is a totally legit reason, too.
Which brings me to my next thought:
Mom? Mom? Mom! Mom?? Mom?! MOMMMM???!!!
Wait, why is she acting all exasperated? I just wanted to know where she was.
{Man, we must have been annoying!}
It's pretty obvious that going to the bathroom is like the most exciting spectator sport known to toddlers.
But mine have some uncanny alert system when it comes to me sneaking upstairs to fold laundry. "Mom? Mom? Mom, where ah you??"
Laundry is not fun. Throw in two toddlers and everything gets folded about four different times and still ends up in a pile on the bed. No wonder Mom waited so long to answer.
So this Mother's Day I am going to take the opportunity to apologize for all the eye-rolling and snotty looks I aimed in my mom's direction as a kid. Because a lot of the stuff she did was for a good reason. Or for her sanity, which is a good enough reason.
And now that I have an opinionated, independent mini-me daughter of my own, I know my mom is having the last laugh. And enjoying it.
So I think we're even, Mom.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Avery turns 2

While Avery actually turned two today, we celebrated her birthday yesterday.

I can't help but marvel at how fast the last year went by. It was a blur of new homes and new jobs and a new baby brother.
{I feel pretty confident saying that this next year will be much less eventful.}
It was nice to relax with family and watch the joy of a birthday celebration on toddler faces. (Because if there are presents to open, Bailey is in on it, too.)
Year Two was the year of dress-up.
Dresses, shoes, bracelets, rings, boas...
The shoes provided some wonderful entertainment for the adults as the girls slowly navigated their clumsy feet around the dining room table, clop-clopping the whole way.

Jared baked and I decorated a flower cake for Avery this year.
She isn't Elmo crazy like Bailey, so we got away doing a simpler cake.

She didn't quite understand why only one candle went out on her first attempt.
It took another blow or two (with Bailey chomping at the bit to help) to get that last one.

It was a typical birthday for our family: no fancy decorations or over-the-top entertainment - just food, cake, candles, presents, family, and lots of smiles.
I'm so glad we were all together to celebrate.

Happy Birthday to our fiesty little lady!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Grandma Cathy visits

Jared's mom is in town.

While it was nice out, we took full advantage and spent every minute outside in the backyard.

The rest of the week sounds horrible.
         {Snow in May, seriously?!}
But Grandma can't complain since back in Colorado they are expecting a foot of snow.

This weekend we will be celebrating Avery's 2nd birthday. The only advantage to dreary, rainy days is that my farming family members can come and fully enjoy some cake and ice cream.