Sunday, March 17, 2013

the making of our swing-set

Grandpa and Nana came over on Saturday morning to start the ridiculously tedious process of putting together our new swing set.  Now, what you should know is that when Chris and I started talking about swing sets a month ago we BOTH decided that paying to it delivered and assembled would be the way to go. To us a couple hundred bucks is worth avoiding the loss of a weekend and the huge headache of putting it together ourselves. And then we found the swing set at Sams, super cute, big enough for our girls to use for years and very affordable. But they don't have assembly as an option. Damn. Well, we thought for sure some pieces would be put together and it would come at least partially assembled. Not a chance! I am not kidding people every board, bolt, screw and piece of plastic was separate. We could not believe it! 

Anyway, we got started. 

 Avery (and Sam at different times) had to test out the slide.

 Avery also wanted to help sweep up our mess...
which apparently turned her into a witch!

Here is our progress after day one! 
 And here we are at 2:30 today!!  I could not believe that Chris and I powered through it and got it done today. The girls could not have been more excited.

And I am one happy momma, knowing that once again I can open the door and send them out for hours of fresh air, imaginative play and exercise! 

 Next step...customize their little cottage to become the best mud kitchen ever!

Monday, March 4, 2013

i got a job

I am getting my foot in the door. I am doing something for me! Starting tomorrow I am a working mom, at least for three months. After a lot of randomly sending my resume out to people that seemed to have connections to environmental education in the Peoria area I actually peaked someone's interest! There was a part time biology lab technician position open at Bradley and they thought I might be interested in it. Now, it has been since my freshman year of undergrad that I have graced a biology lab but the professors in charge of the position said that what they really needed was someone for just three months (that is the time left on the grant funding for the position) with grant writing, publication writing, networking and administrative experience. And I have all of that! Plus, the two professors that are in charge of this position play pretty major roles at Bradley, one of them is the co-director of the STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) Education Center at Bradley, which does a TON of great teacher education programs and outreach programs with the area public schools. I am honored to be able to work with both of them and show them what I can do. So, is this my dream job? Nope. BUT showing them what I am capable of may help me land an awesome job somewhere down the line at Bradley. This job is just from now until May 31st. That gives me three months to show them I am awesome and that they just have to hire me back for a teaching or program development position in the very near future!!

On the flip going back to work means my girls are going into full time care two days a week. And then my amazing new neighbor will keep the girls for me on Fridays. That is three days a week that they are in the care of someone else. It is crazy that I have been praying, begging and striving to get a job for two months and now that I have one (and start tomorrow!) the mommy guilt is almost overwhelming. Why am I doing this to myself? Why for once can't I just be confident about my decision, know that my girls will be fine (better than fine probably) and this will be good for all of us? AHHH! Well, too late to turn back now.

Our life changes big time tomorrow!

Monday, February 11, 2013

our saturday morning

It is kind of becoming the standard around here to get up on Saturday morning have a big breakfast and then find a new trail to tackle! We are finally all healthy which means we can really get out and enjoy some outside time. 

 There are so many reasons that we love our time on the trails. It is fun to watch our girl's personalities really come out. Sam loves to be the leader, to spot things that are coming up and help Avery down steep parts. Avery likes to take her time. She gets excited when I get excited about something and wants to learn about the things I point out. Chris gets a kick (or is totally embarrassed depending on the day!) out of my extreme excitement over little things. What, every mom doesn't burst with joy when you happen upon an owl pellet?
And now that our girls are big enough and can be ahead of us on the trail, Chris and I really get some great time to chat and be together.

 But the thing I love the most about the fact that we hit the trails so often is what we are teaching our girls. A lot of people would not think of central Illinois as a naturally beautiful place. It probably isn't most people's favorite place to go for a hike or go camping. But my girls are learning to find natural beauty EVERYWHERE! They can spot hawks and song birds in our subdivision backyard. A simple stream with a little bit of ice is as exciting as a rushing river. The little things to them are beautiful, fascinating and wild! I love that I get excited about tracks, bird songs, scat and other simple things while we hike, and I hope that my girls can hang on to that excitement as adults as well.

And when hiking with little kids it never hurts to have a brightly colored surprise waiting for them at the end! Can you spot the playground?  Because my kids did!! 

 Through her teeth Sam was saying "get closer, get closer"! So here she is up CLOSE!

Happy family time!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

a winter hike

We all just needed to get outside. Cold temps with no snow (snow always makes it more fun to be outside in the cold) and illness plaguing me and Avery for almost a month now has kept us indoors way too much this winter.
Saturday we decided that we just didn't care anymore. We were going hiking! Chris looked on the map and found a spot to explore that was not too far away but looked like it had some neat stuff to check out.

We are very excited to have found this park! The trail that we hiked followed a creek and crossed over it with fun bridges an incredible number of times. Are bridges fun for all kids or is it just mine that go crazy every time they see one? It was an easy hike but still had lots to look at and having a playground at the end is always a plus!

 We had just watched the kid's movie "Gruffalo" and "Gruffalo's Child" which are books we love. So while we were on the hike we kept taking turns pretending to be the big scary Gruffalo that was chasing the rest of us around. Makes for a fun game on the trail.

 Some parts were steep and Sam was glad she had her snow pants on so she could just slide down the hills.
 Even with not much snow there were still lots of new tracks to find and some really great icicles along the creek.
 Yippee another bridge!
 Someone left some Valentine art along the trail! The girls loved discovering this and adding their own hearts to the tree trunk.
 Picture is not great but there were some neat icicles in there! Man do I need a zoom on my camera or what?!

 Who doesn't love an old fashioned teeter-totter?!
The adventure was really great and much needed by all of us. There is just something about family time spent outside exploring. Well, for me there is nothing better!

Monday, February 4, 2013

bird day

I got inspired last week by this mom to have a full out Bird Day! So the night before I did a little prep and then the next morning my girls were surprised with all kinds of bird fun.

We started out by eating like birds. I talked with the girls about how birds eat lots of different things (insects, seeds, nuts, berries, worms, etc.) and how they have to find only the things that they like even though there might be lots of food to choose from in a prairie, forest or even at a bird feeder. Then I handed them their morning snack.

I mixed together craisins, raisins, cheerios, peanuts and Chow Mein noodles. I even had the little chinese take out boxes to put it in (but a baggie or bowl would work just fine too).
Then I gave them each their own set of binoculars and explained that they were going on an indoor bird scavenger hunt. I used all Illinois birds (many of which we see at our backyard feeders) but you could find pictures of any kind of bird you wanted. I gave them a check list sheet and then cut out bigger pictures of the same birds and taped those up around the house.

The big bird pictures were taped in low spots and high spots! The girls had a really great time with this and had be re-hide the birds several times that day.

I also hung up this piece of paper by the window that faces all of our feeders. I told them that for each bird they spotted outside they could put one more sticker on the paper. It was great to see how often they came back to check the feeders! I love finding ways to encourage them to bird watch.

We made owl masks too! Which of course lead to a lot of running (or flying) around pretending to be owls.

We read a lot of bird books that day as well! I don't do fully planned days like this very often but when I do the girls always get so into each activity. I love that. I think an animal day might be on our agenda very soon.

Happy Monday!

Monday, January 28, 2013

dinner prep

Sometimes dinner prep looks like this at our house...
Where I have to fight for counter space just to get the meal made!

 But tonight, with both girls still not feeling great (Avery has this cough and congestion that just won't leave!) all they wanted to do was make a pretend bed on the floor and read books. Too cute.
Happy Monday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

my days

My life is my kids. Wow...that is a statement that the 20 year old Abbie would have NEVER thought would happen. In fact, back then I told almost everyone I met that I didn't think I would ever have kids.

11 years sure changes a person. Or does it?

I love my kids. Period. But I don't think being a stay at home mom is what He put me here to do. I know there is more to my story, more in my future and other challenges that lie ahead. But for now I am being challenged to take on this role of stay at home mom. A role that so many people (you online blogging moms know who you are!) make look so easy. A job that I struggle to survive on a daily basis. But we get through each day, Sam, Avery and I. We grow together, we learn, we laugh, we fight and we love everyday.

Once again being in a new town with no friends and no support system makes this stay at home mom job even that much harder. And while I was really feeling like I had a handle on all of it back in Waunakee, now, here in this unfamiliar place I am floundering again. I am struggling.

SO, I am trying my best to dive head first into my job as mom. If this is what I am meant to do right now, then let me do it with my WHOLE self. The girls are not in school right now so we fill our days with some interesting stuff. We have swim lessons, a science class and a library program that help get us out of the house. But most of the time we are here at home.

And here is what that looks like!

My girls love workbooks. We spend quite a lot of time at the kitchen counter doing "school work".

 And crafting is a must, which means my dining room table is more often used like this than for eating.
 Reading is a daily (maybe hourly?) thing. There are books in every room but the front room is our "library".
 The basement is reserved for the times when they are bouncing off the walls and need to run (or ride or scooter) off some energy. I kind of love having this huge unfinished space right now.

 We play princesses A LOT! The princess castle is always crowded with creatures of all kinds. It doesn't really matter what size or kind, anyone is welcome at a party at the castle.
 And no Ariel is not hanging herself...Sam made a swing in the ballroom!

 We play "school" ( kids haven't caught on that they are really learning and not just pretending! ha!) with our new magnet board.
 And we do projects! 
 Lots and lots...
 of projects. 
 All of that fills our days, teaches my girls, keeps them happy, growing and playing. But it doesn't fulfill me. Keeping them happy, fed and in a clean house doesn't make me feel happy.

Sam will start full time kindergarten in the Fall and Avery will go to preschool at least part time. I am hoping at that point to go back to work full time. Which means I have seven months. And I need to enjoy these seven months. I need to soak up every minute of this time with my girls. They are little and won't be for much longer.
But I just can't get my heart and attitude to match with what my head knows I should do. I just can't be happy in the here and the now. As my parents use to tell me quite often growing up, I need an attitude adjustment! If only I knew how to do that...