Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Break: Day One and not much else

I had every intention of documenting, with photos and words, our wonderful Spring Break vacation day by day. That was easy on Day One:

We were able to go and enjoy the brief sunshine on Monday at the park in between therapy sessions.

Its now Wednesday and I'm sorry to say that's the only "fun" thing we've done all week. Tuesday was spent taking my mom to the ER for kidney stones and today will be all about meetings and GYN appointments. My kids don't call either of those activities "fun" and I can't blame them!

Hopefully this weekend we'll finally be able to put some "fun" in our Spring Break. Until then, I'll be taking a blogging break. Have a wonderful Easter holiday with your families :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mom and me Monday

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Not too late this week!! 8 PM is late for me putting a post up, but its definitely within the time frame of Monday though!

Since I used the self-timer for a picture of Jayce and me last week, I thought I'd ask Jaina's friend Sarah to take one of me and her this week :)

Sorry if the 3 different shades of blue are a little over powering!


To see more great entries, go check out The Peanut Gallery. You can even play along and link up, too!

I Heart Faces: Black and White Drama



I followed my kids around all afternoon with my camera, just hoping to get something to use for this week's theme at i heart faces. The black and white part was easy... it was the other part of the theme that got me. Dramatic? Well, my children certainly can be dramatic. But I wasn't sure that Jaina dressing up like a fairy and performing a play was what they had in mind.

So, I picked this photo as my entry this week.

 It was one of those moments that I just happened to catch on camera. He was not posed nor really aware that I was taking his picture. My son was concentrating very hard on a particular subject. Being the avid Zelda lover that he is, Jayce was actually replaying the video game in his mind. Gotta love the tech geeks in my house :)

I liked this photo for the unusual expression, the lighting, the lines of the kitchen chair, and for the grain. I'm not sure why, but I love grain in black and white photos. Maybe because it reminds me of shooting with film.

There you have it! Go check out all the other entries at i heart faces :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Week from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

Now, I'm normally a laid back kinda gal. I don't get stressed out easily. I always look at the bright side of things. But as much of an optimist I may be, I am also part realist. And I have no problems calling things like I see them. And last week was really a week from hell.

I wanted to blog about it every day to get my frustrations out, but one of the main causes of my stress could not be made public on my blog, facebook status, or parenting board community. I just don't think its a good idea to publicly announce any travel intentions to millions of complete strangers. It would be like saying, "Hey! I'm going to be out of town for 3 days! You know what town I live in and probably my last name as well. Feel free to look up my address on Google and break in!"

I also try never to say where we'll be going, but instead, where we have been. Not that I think anyone really cares enough to try to stalk me, but you never know, right?

Okay, so back to my week. It all started last Sunday....

My dear husband had cut his hair off in preparation for some big "GO LIVE" at his company. What I did not say is that he actually had to travel to one of his company's production plants in a remote town in Georgia, several hours away. I was kinda bummed cause I didn't even get to enjoy his haircut for a week!

Brian used to travel all the time. Spain, Germany, and England were his frequent destinations. But with the economy, his company tried to do more and more tele-conferencing and less air travel. There just hasn't been many opportunities for Brian to travel these past three years. And that was fine by me!

Jayce was too little to ever remember his daddy going anywhere for a week, so it was kind of hard to explain to him why he couldn't see his daddy for a few days. Brian joked that maybe he could pack Jayce into his suitcase. Jayce loved that idea!

That cute smile didn't last though, when it was finally time to say goodbye to Daddy. To distract them, I reminded the kids about all the fun things we were going to do without daddy all week! Like leave dishes in the sink, eat dinner on the couch, camp out on the floor in sleeping bags, etc. That helped a bit.

But before Brian left, we took a trip to the grocery store the day before. Now, my car had been acting a bit "off" lately, but nothing too concerning. It made this sort of "rubbing" sound every time I turned the wheel. Our air decided to go out, but since its Spring and the temps have been nice, nothing a rolled down window wouldn't fix. But on this particular weekend, my car started making a high pitched grinding noise when you ran the engine. When Brian had looked under the hood, the power steering canister had completely broken off and was rubbing on some belt. He then insisted that I take my car up to the automotive place ASAP on Monday morning.

Except, he wasn't going to be there to take me and Jayce back home, remember?

And there went the start to my lovely week.

I love giving service to my friends. I never mind babysitting for others kids or getting mail/paper for our out of town neighbors. I'm always one of the first people to sign up to bring a new mom a meal.

But I typically don't like imposing on my friends. I'm a SAHM, I know how busy life gets. I like to be self-sufficient and not rely on a whole bunch of people to make my life run smoothly. I help when I can, but try not to ask for too much help myself.

Well, I totally had to let all those feelings go and start relying on others for help. My good friend Michelle, who also happens to be my visiting teacher (which made me a tad bit better about asking her for help because she's always offering!), ended up dragging all 3 of her boys out early Monday morning to pick Jayce and I up from the automotive place and take us back home. This was completely out of her way so I can't tell you how much I appreciate her willingness to be of service. Thank you SO much Michelle! :) Hopefully you'll let me return the favor some time!

Once home, Jayce's therapists were all scheduled to come to our house and he was also scheduled to ride the bus to school, so that was easy. I just needed someone to pick up Jaina from school that afternoon. The bus is not an option since she goes to a school "out of our zone" with special permission. This is also a problem because that means no one in our neighborhood or surrounding area sends kids to that particular school. And none of her school friends live near us.

Luckily, my former professor Monica (hey, you are going to make the blog a lot this week!) was not teaching at that time and volunteered to pick up Jaina. Whew! That was a great load off my shoulders! So, for Monday, we were looking good. Kids could get too and from school, I had someone to help me go pick up my car later that day, everything was working out.

Until the car place said that they couldn't fix my car by Monday at 5.

Dammit. Okay, no problem. Let me put my thinking cap on. I can do this!

The biggest problem on Tuesday is that Jaina needs a ride *to* school. At 7:00 AM. And again, no one in our neighborhood goes to that school. Luckily, Monica was at our house when that call came and she bravely offered to drive all the way out here the next morning and take Jaina to school before needing to be at her college. Now, if you know my friend Monica, you'll also know that she NEVER teaches 8:30 AM classes on her schedule. Why? Because I don't think she ever even wakes up before 9 AM during the week. And I know better than to call her before noon on a weekend. That girl loves her sleep :) So, offering to help me out was just showing how much Monica loves our family. Thank you SO much, Monica!

Okay, so that's taken care of. Let's see... Jayce has therapy at the hospital at 3. We have a ride there, but no ride back. I call my friend Becca and she agrees to pick us up from the hospital at 4 and take us back home for therapy at home from 4:15-6.

Except that on Tuesday morning, Jayce had other plans. In the form of Strep Throat.

If your kids have ever had strep throat, you'll know how fast this bacterial infection comes about. One minute they're fine, the next minute, they're throat hurts, and the next minute after that, they have a raging fever.

And my car still isn't ready.

So, after Monica drops Jaina off at school and goes to work herself, she then has to drop everything and come pick us up and take us all the way out to the doctor that my kids see, a good 25 minutes from our house. And then sits and waits with us for an hour while the doctor does a strep test.

The strep test comes back negative, but the doctor said that sometimes rapid strep tests do not show growth, but the send away one does. He was pretty sure that Jayce either had strep or a bad sinus infection. Either way, antibiotics were needed. Monica takes us over to CVS to get the prescription filled and then to the automotive place to get my car. $500 was not fun to pay, but boy I would have paid $1,000 to get that sucker back this week!

I was then able to pick Jaina up from school, much to Jaina's dismay. She was hoping that Aunt Monica would hang out with her again. Oh well, she's got to settle for old boring mom instead :)

Since Jayce is sick, I cancel therapy for the rest of Tuesday and again on Wednesday.

Thank goodness because guess who wakes up with pink eye on Wednesday? JAINA. At this point I'm thinking, "Heaven help me, what else can go wrong?" Just FYI, don't think or say those words out loud. Because Murphy's Law will most surely find something else to go wrong.

I take Jaina to the doctor after dropping a recovering Jayce off at my mom's house. She's got pink eye and her throat looks worse than Jayce's! Antibiotics for her, too. I go to pay for her prescription. $60 for eye drops??? You've got to be kidding me! And that was with our prescription insurance?? Maybe next time I'll tell my doctor about our crappy insurance and ask for an effective generic. I had no idea that drug companies even made eye drops at that price. My goodness, its pink eye! If I had been lactating, I would have just given her drops of breast milk in there for free! Craziness!

Finally, Thursday comes along. Back to (relative) normal!! Kids are both at school, having had enough doses of the antibiotic to make sure they weren't contagious. My friend Becca takes me out to lunch to celebrate almost making it through the week. Thanks Becca!!

Then Brian got home that evening. The kids were THRILLED to see him and I was thrilled that he was able to put together our new kitchen table chairs!! Of course I missed my husband, but I was really excited about those chairs! Now people and therapists can sit at our table again!!

Little did I know that more than 24 hours later, I would be seeing that exact lunch again. Much less pleasant coming up than going down!

My stomach started cramping early on Friday morning, but I went about my day as best I could. The vomiting didn't start until the afternoon. And it lasted all.night.long. At one point, the pain was so bad, I had dreams about going to the hospital to get morphine.

Most of you know that I have an intestinal condition that frequently makes me sick with GI problems. However, it soon became apparent that this was very different. I was running a fever, had muscle pain and fatigue that was severe, and was extremely dizzy to the point that I thought I was going to pass out. Brian's response? "Well, you're laying down! Go ahead and pass out then!" Thanks, dear. At one point he had to help me to the bathroom in order to throw up because I thought I couldn't walk that far. Let me tell you, this virus was like nothing I've had before!

I retired to the living room couch around Midnight on Friday night. There was no way I could sleep through all that stomach pain. I had to share the couch with our dog Alli, who has her own little blanket on the couch cushion by my feet. Alli's considered a senior by dog year standards and she can get a bit grumpy. Every time I tossed and turned on the couch, she growled at me. I always apologized to her and tried to stay settled. But getting up and down off the couch to go throw up was more than she could handle her sleep being interrupted. Because around 4 AM, I woke up after dozing for a few minutes with an incredible need for the bathroom.

I stepped carefully on the hardwood floor by the couch, as not to wake Alli up, and realized that my socks and PJ bottoms were soaking wet.

My dog peed on me.

At first, I thought I had stepped on a puddle on the floor. But after careful inspection by Brian, only the couch cushion where my feet had been was wet.

Its okay, you can laugh. I'm mildly amused now anyway. I always knew that dog didn't like me.

Even though the vomiting stopped Saturday morning, I continued to feel weak and nauseous all day long.

But, this morning, I feel 100% better!! Its going to be a wonderful and beautiful day, I can feel it :)  (okay, despite the fact that the forecast says its a 100% chance of rain). It will be full of sunshine in here!

I have so much to be thankful for! My good friends, my family that's home, my repaired car, my recovering health.

Now, if you wouldn't mind sending "stay healthy" vibes to my kids, I would greatly appreciate them! I wouldn't wish this virus on anyone. Well, except my husband. It might teach him some much needed empathy in the process :) Just kidding. Sort of.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Before and After Blog Hop



I know it looks like all I'm doing is participating in meme's this week. That's because I'm really not at liberty to discuss my actual week until later tonight. Then I can share with you all what's really been going on with our family instead of just showing you a picture a day of stuff I shot last week :) Don't get too excited, though, this week has not been fun at all!

Anyway, on to Thursday's "Before and After Blog Hop". I just love reading Monica's Pixel Perfect blog. I love her tutorials. I love hearing about her every day life with her family. Go check her blog out and you will not be disappointed!

So, here is my shot, straight out of the camera (SOOC). Ugh.  The first thing you are drawn to is the gaudy florescent stuffed caterpillar wearing sunglasses, no less.  You totally miss Jaina's cute freckles and smile! So, first I cropped out the caterpillar. Sorry dude!

Then I played with the lighting on Jaina's face. I added some fill light and high lights in Picasa. I know I can do this in GIMP, but I just like how it looks better in Picasa. Then I decided the mix of colors was way too distracting, so I chose to edit this in black and white with a blue filter. Then I sharpened the image just a bit to bring out Jaina's freckles more.

Then I tried to open the file (only 1.1 MB because of cropping) in Picnik to add a little vignette, but it was not uploading my picture at all. I always have trouble with Picnik being incredibly slow on my computer. I am not sure they like my Firefox browser.

I finally had to open the resized SOOC shot and then try to recreate what my Picasa edit looked like. It was very similar, thank goodness.

Then I decided to open the original file in GIMP and play with textures :)
Not crazy about the texture I used. I think it adds lines more than grain. Oh well, gotta keep trying! :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mom and me Monday (just a little late!)

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Okay, so I know its not Monday. Its really even late in the game on Tuesday. That's what happens when I leave camera memory cards downstairs and then forget 16 times on trips up and down the stairs to actually bring it up stairs.

But darnit, I have a picture for "Mom and Me Monday" and I'm not wasting it!

So, this cool blogger and photographer over at The Peanut Gallery came up with this meme in order to get us "moms turned photographers" out from behind the camera and actually in front of the camera. With our kids! 'Cause no one really just wants to see a bunch of middle-aged moms with no make-up trying to take self-portraits.  Gotta have the kids in there to keep it cute :)

Since Jayce absolutely LOVES playing with my self-timer, he was the obvious choice for a photo subject. Besides, Jaina was *way* too busy watching TV on the couch to come join us, although we did ask her!


Then I let Jayce play with my camera a bit. He actually took a picture of me changing my bra in the bathroom! I will NOT be posting that on here :)


I love my little photographer :)

Post It Note Tuesday



I've always wanted to participate in "Post it Note Tuesdays" but after failing miserably at trying to create one, I just sort of stopped trying. Well, now that Brian's updated my computer a bit, I can miraculously view the webpage now!

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Heart Faces: Angles



Although this photo was taken in July of 2006, it remains one of my favorite to this day. It was the result of a total accident. I had tried desperately to get Jaina, age 4, to stand still while snapping pictures with my little canon point-and-shoot. What 4  year old stands still? :) She was trying to get away from me in this picture and had leaned back away from the camera. I just love this angle and have never been able to duplicate it. I guess I should get Jayce to run away from me some time and try it again!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week in Review and March 21st

Well, in pictures anyway. Don't ask me what I did on last Monday because I've already blocked it from my mind. My memory is pretty terrible. I can remember things that happened from a house I lived in when I was 3 (in Sunrise, Florida), but I can't remember what I did yesterday. I think most moms loose track of their days, so I'm not worried about alzheimer's just yet :) Why do you think I take so many pictures and blog in the first place?

At any rate, sometime last week, Jayce's lead therapist brought some dress up clothes from the ABA center. We have a whole tub of our own, but sometimes you want more options than just Disney princess dresses, right? Jayce has never been thrilled with the concept of dressing up (6 months ago, we got him to dress up in his first real costume for halloween though!) so we've never really bought many gender neutral or boy oriented clothes. Not only is dress up a great way to strengthen his pretend play skills, but its also good practice for him dressing and undressing himself. 

Isn't he the cutest Bob The Builder? I don't even think Jayce has even seen that show. He's more of a Playhouse Disney guy than a PBS watcher. 

Also in therapy news, we had an awesome playdate with another little boy in the same therapy program as Jayce. We've known this family for 2 years and its amazing to see the progress their little boy has made as well. 

To top it off, he has an older sister that's Jaina's age as well :)
(I normally do not allow DS game systems to accompany us to a play place that costs $10 a kid to get into, but I kinda felt stuck since the other mom had no problem with the girls playing them for a little while. I can assure you that Jaina was up and jumping around for a good 90 minutes before I took these pictures!)

Hopefully the next playdate can be at the park outside! Its getting to be SPRING!!

After playing for hours on end, we headed on over to Gray's house for a little R&R. I think she read our minds because there was a sign on her door when we got there that said:
There was quite a spread awaiting us!
And I had two kids that were definitely hungry!
After the tea party, Gray gave Jayce a little sewing lesson. He wanted to fix the hole in his jeans. 
It was such a treat getting to hang out at my mom's house for a change. We're currently working on getting her sunroom in order so the kids can have their own playroom there. I'll be sure to take pictures when I'm done!

THEN.....

The moment we've all been waiting for! Well, at least, the moment *I've* been waiting for. It seems as though most of you voted for the "Brian Look" that was a mixture between longish hair and a trimmed goatee. No one but me and a couple other people wanted him to shave all his hair (from his head AND his face) at the same time. 

But that's what he did!!! Now, if you don't like this look, don't despair. He'll be back to his scraggly self in about 4 weeks I bet :) "Lazy" is usually not a word to describe my husband, but when it comes to shaving and getting a haircut, you most certainly can describe him as lazy in this department. This may be his last haircut until the dog days of summer force him to buzz it again. 

Before:
During:
After:

(Jayce was helping wrangle my model by tickling him to get that natural smile. Thanks Jayce!)

Now Brian is ready to face the "Go Live" without his hair holding him back. Who knows? Maybe he'll even be able to program more effectively now. At least he won't be an eye sore back at work!

Love you dear :)