Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It Never Fails...

Every time Jason leaves, whether it's a short trip or a long one, the idea of something breaking is always looming.  It seems like it never fails that as soon as he leaves something goes wrong.

Well this trip is no exception!

A few weeks into this TDY I was doing laundry and went to get the clothes out of the dryer and they were wet and it was cold inside the dryer.  I knew something was wrong but I didn't know the first place to start...was it the heating element, a thermometer, or would we just have to get a new dryer?

Nicki and Chad were so nice to come over one evening to help me check things out.  With the help of some videos we found online we got the back off and the heating element out but still couldn't tell if that was the issue or not.  The next day I found a local appliance store that carried the heating element I needed and they were so nice...the guy told me to bring in the heating element and both thermometers and they would test them all to find out which one was broken so I would know what part to buy!  

So off I went with all the parts in hand...when I got there he actually found a broken coil in the heating element that we never saw so that was obviously the problem.  $32 later and I was out the we just had to get it reinstalled.

Nicki came over one morning and the two of us let the kids fend for themselves and we worked on getting the dryer back together.  We realized we had not documented the electrical wires and where they hooked in quite as well as we should of so we had to make a couple of changes through trial and error but after a bit there was hot air blowing and it was a success!

We never knew we could add "Dryer Repair" to our resumes one day but now we can!
After the dryer incident I thought perhaps that would be the one thing I would have to deal with this time and I was in the clear...until one night when I went to get something out of the car and I saw a mouse jump out in one corner of our garage!  YUCK!

I have never lived anywhere that I had to deal with mice.  Apparently they are sort of common here but that's still not OK with me.  A few days later I was talking to a couple of my neighbors and they were telling me about all the mice they had trapped in their garage...and it freaked me out.  We had a huge grass fire very close to our house several months ago and everyone is speculating that the fire has pushed the mice into the neighborhoods.  So I went and got a couple of mouse traps and baited them with peanut butter.  Never a dull moment around here!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

BBQ and a sleepover!

 My friend Lynden and her husband had a great cook out on a great Saturday afternoon and Riley and I went for all the fun!

She had lots of friends to play with and she had a blast!

I got to chat with the girls, eat some good food, and we even made s'mores in their firepit!
 While we were there my friend Sara who is a VERY talented photographer took Riley outside to practice using her new are the shots she got of our sweet girl!

When it was time to go Izzy and Riley had schemed up a sleepover...I wasn't sure because I didn't know how Riley would actually do.  Or perhaps I didn't know how I would actually do!

Lynden and her hubby were up for it and since they live just a few streets over from us I figured it was pretty much the best situation.  We told the girls they could have a sleepover and they were ECSTATIC!  They set up a big "bed" of blankets and pillows on their living room floor and I got Riley all ready for bed.  I asked her several times if she was sure and she grabbed my face gently and said "I will miss you mommy but don't cry.  I'm going to have lots of fun."  Oh my gosh when did she get so big?

So I headed home All.By.Myself.  I didn't know what to do!  I have never spent a night alone in this house all by myself.  I was talking to Jason and he was telling me to get some sleep but I was worried...what if Riley needs me?  what if she doesn't make it all night?  I finally enjoyed my freedom and did a few things and then went to sleep...and never got a phone call!

I went over to there house about 9:00 the next morning to pick Riley up and get her ready for church and she had done great!  No accidents, they did some sleeping, and most importantly they had SO.MUCH.FUN!

I found out later she was exhausted from all the fun because she took almost a 4 hour nap that afternoon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Science Museum Fun!

 The third Wednesday of every month the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco has a free day so Nicki and I decided to head to the city and take the kiddos!

Riley was not excited about the "long" ride...and there was a little drama between her and some point she started crying big time and said Will bit her finger.  It was reminding me of the infamous "Charlie bit my finger" video on YouTube and she had some bite marks on her little finger for proof!  I had to explain that Will is younger and a boy...she didn't quite understand but she toughed it out and we all made it to San Francisco!  

We got there early and that was a good move because by the time we left it was getting pretty crowded!

Me and my girl!
 Nicki and Will

There were tons of great exhibits to check out!

One of our favorites was the rainforest!  It was several stories showing all the different layers of the rainforest and we learned all about them and see all the different kinds of animals that live in each layer!
It was very humid inside and felt like we were really in the rainforest!
The sun shining through the top!
Beautiful birds flew all around!
There were some awesome bright colored frogs to look at!
Butterflies were also flying all over the place!
At the very bottom was an aquarium that you could walk under...super cool!
 After checking out the rainforest we headed to the penguin exhibit just in time to watch them get fed!
 Riley loved watching the the penguins being fed and she stayed after to ask lots of questions from the girl who told us all about the feeding.  She had some good questions..and some silly ones too!

We saw some awesome turtles!
 After checking out most of the exhibits we headed to this awesome play area and Riley and Will had a blast!

They had a big pretend ship that had sleeping quarters, a kitchen, and all sorts of fun things to play with!
 Riley was very busy and Will was anxious to keep up with her!
After some fun playing we headed to the cafe in the museum and grabbed lunch!

Both kids took naps most of the way home and it was a great day!

We have talked a lot about this fun day since and Riley had fun at the museum but she talks about what a long ride it was to the museum.  She has had long rides on her mind since we drove to Disneyland which was the longest she had been in the car since we moved out here...and she doesn't remember that trip.  So now whenever we are going somewhere she asks "is it gonna be a long ride?" and then she says "can't we just fly there?"...gotta love my little jet setter but we are not going to be flying 50 miles to San Francisco anytime soon!

Our Shepherd girl...

 Riley started her new preschool in August and it has been GREAT!

She goes to Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran.  Jason and I were both raised in the Lutheran school system but we went to rival schools in San Antonio.  He went to Shepherd of the Hills and I went to Concordia.  Our high school was supported by all the schools.  Jason and all of his friends were always referred to as the "Shepherd Boys" and we always kept the rivalry going even through high school about which school was better.  So...when we enrolled Riley at Shepherd of the Hills I had to wave the white flag surrendering to the battle because my little girl is now a "Shepherd Girl"!

She goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and stays for the after school program called Cherubs.  I get to pack her lunch and she is in a room with 8 other 3/4 year olds and she is LOVING it!

One Tuesday night they school had an Open House for us parents to see what the kiddos do all day long...
We headed to school after dance class and there was a special scavenger hunt the kids did to show us around...we had to meet one of their friends, find the circle area, etc.

Riley was showing me one of the puzzles she likes to do!

 September's theme was Farm is Riley the farmer!
 Here's some of the other animals on the walls!
 This is Riley's teacher..Miss Stacey...she is GREAT!
 After checking out all the fun they have in their classroom we headed outside for ice cream sundaes...what a treat!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ballerina Birthday!

 Riley got to go to a special ballerina party for her new friend Ella!

 Ella turned 4 and her mom did an AWESOME job planning a very special party for her!

 All the girls wore their ballerina outfits to the party!

Here's my sweet ballerina!
 Posing...silly girl!
All the girls got special tutus when they arrived and the biggest surprise of all...a REAL ballerina came to the party!
Riley and all the girls were enamored with her and Riley even asked her if she was a princess and if she knew Ariel and cute!

She danced for the girls and let them ask all kinds of questions!

How special it was for these little ballerinas!
Other fun things at the party were getting their nails done, hearing a ballerina story, hitting a pinata, doing a fun craft, and having some yummy cake pops!

It was a beautiful morning and we had a full day because Vanessa and her brother came home with us and I had all three kids all was lots of fun!  The girls played, Max took a nap, and we all survived!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Make room for baby...

With another girl on the way I have lots of projects up my sleeve!
First off was to get all of Riley's clothes re-organized.  I have kept EVERY outfit and they were all somewhat organized but I wanted to organize them more, get all of the clothes into spacebags, and possibly get rid of some things!

I started out with random tubs / bags of clothes...
 It took about a week altogether but it was a fun process.

We are blessed to be having another girl and born in the same season as Riley so we should get to reuse pretty much everything.  I sorted it all by size / season and had so much fun reminiscing as I went.

It was amazing how an outfit would bring back so many memories.  Riley had so many clothes for her first year of life that many of them she only wore once or twice so I would remember specific things we did when she was wearing a certain outfit. 

It was fun for her to see all the little things she used to wear too!

 I started putting them in space bags which saves so much space.
 I also set aside clothes that were more worn or just things we didn't need and my friend had a yard sale so I organized it all and sold it there.  The things that didn't sell at the yard sale I ended up selling in lots on eBay.
 Tada!  Ths finished product!

I ended up getting all of these clothes into three nice!

 A few fun things I learned in this process...

1.  I have a "slight" problem with buying baby girl shoes!

I can't get this picture to turn the right way but these are just the 12 pairs of shoes I had for Riley when she was 6-12 months old...not even a walking child...but they are so cute!

 2.  Some things are more suitable for Miss Riley now than when she was a baby!
Now I can cross one of my projects off the clothes / baby gear is all organized!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our Riley girl...

With all the blogging hiatus I think it's about time I just write about this sweet girl.

She is such a big girl these days and I can't wait to see her experience her role as a big sister!

She is inquisitive, smart, funny, loving, spunky, and always keeps us on our toes!

She has such a childlike faith and I have loved seeing her learn and try and grasp all the things she's learning about Jesus.  The other night she said "Mommy...Jesus is in my belly."  I asked her if she was pretending and she said " heart is in my belly and Jesus is in my heart"...well that makes sense then doesn't it?  We have read all the way through her Bible and started it over again and it's amazing what she has grasped from all the stories.  We were at some friends one night recently and there were two other girls her age and they were all playing...I went to check on them and heard Riley say "but Jesus healed me" and then I popped my head in and she said "we were playing that I was sick but Jesus healed me"
Now I wouldn't be telling the whole story if I also didn't share that she has learned to use Jesus against me to.  When I have found her doing something that I don't think she should be doing she has responded with "Jesus told me to and Jesus is my boss"...not sure how to respond to that but I have had to tell her numerous times to either talk to Jesus again or to remember that Jesus wants her to obey her Mommy and Daddy.  Faith like a child!

Riley has made great strides in grasping some of the tough parts of being a kid...learning to share and be a good friend.  I am so proud of her but there have definitely been some tough moments.  To see her heart for her friends and learn that it truly feels good to be nice, to put others first, and to genuinely care for others is just so awesome!  One experience that I remember vividly was when her friend Vanessa came over a few days after we got home from Disneyland.  Riley had already told Vanessa about her Rapunzel hair and I knew that this Rapunzel hair was probably going to be a tough thing for Riley to share.  I had a choice...put it away while Vanessa came over or try and make a teaching moment.  We were on a walk that morning and talked all about sharing...even our most special toys...with our friends.  I thought Riley was prepped and on board.  As soon as Vanessa arrived the girls wanted to dress up and Vanessa wanted to be Rapunzel...uh oh!  So this sent Riley into hysterics and she was crying away...another thing that we are working on because I think she turns to crying too quickly for a big girl.  I sent Riley to her room until she could stop crying and Vanessa then decided to be The Little Mermaid...and she was totally content.  When Riley calmed down and was ready to play I let her put on the Rapunzel dress and hair since Vanessa was happy as the mermaid...but I made it clear that it would next be Vanessa's turn.  The girls were playing and having a grand 'ol time!
So about a half hour later it was time for Vanessa to get a turn and I told Riley "two more minutes."  The girls went down the hall and I heard Riley say to Vanessa "but you like being Ariel don't you?  Don't you just want to be Ariel?" was trying to convince her friend that she didn't want to be Rapunzel so she didn't have to share.  Smart? Yes.  Nice? Not so much.  I immediately interceded and made Riley take off all of the Rapunzel stuff.  She was not happy and was again sent to her room until she was done crying.  In the meantime I got Vanessa all set up to be Rapunzel...
Eventually Riley calmed down and came out of her room and just melted into my was as if she knew what she had done and I could feel her just let it all out as I held her.  We talked about how pretty Vanessa looked and how it's fun to see our friends have fun.  From that moment on the girls shared the Rapunzel stuff fabulously the rest of the day..Riley decided to be Belle while Vanessa was Rapunzel and they had a lot of fun.  I felt like we made a huge stride that day and in the moment I wasn't sure it would have long term effect or if all the drama was worth it but now that it's been a few weeks I am positive it was a good decision.   We have referred back to this day many times since and she has had a much more open heart to sharing...phew!  

Riley has had the hardest time with Jason being gone this time...I just think it gets tougher EVERY time.  She is older and understands so much more yet she still doesn't have an understanding for time.  Having to say goodbye to Jason at the airport was so hard on her and she cried in a way that I've never heard her cry.  The first couple of days she would say "I see Daddy's truck...he's coming home" or we would be on our way home and she would say "I know Daddy's there".  She would start crying during our night time prayers because she was sad she missed her Daddy.  One day we were driving and listing to Dirt Road Anthem...a song we often listened to in Jason's truck...she often requests to hear it and to "jam" to it.  She had been singing and all of a sudden she stopped.  I turned around and just saw tears streaming down her face.  When I asked her what was wrong she said "this song reminds me of my Daddy and I just miss him so much"  Uugghhh...broke this mama's heart and of course Jason's too when I told him.  I'm so thankful she has such a strong love and bond with her Daddy but this separation thing is just so hard on her.  

He's not too far away yet it's as if he's half way across the planet.  After the first couple of weeks I'm happy to see that she is settling in and she is dealing with it all without any breakdowns.  Jason tries to video chat with us every night before she goes to bed and that truly makes all the difference.  She loves to make silly faces with him and ask him about his day.  She refers to us as "Daddy's girls" because that's what he always call us and I love it.  We are settling into our routine and I have let her sleep with me one night on the weekends, but we sure can't wait to be under one roof as a family again.  She will be over the moon when her Daddy is home!

She's so determined.  When she finds something she can't do or hasn't learned yet, she will become fixated on it until she can get it done.  Back at the CDC when she moved up to preschool the monkey bars were new and a challenge.  She worked on them every single day and would come home with blisters on her hands...but after several weeks she was able to get across all the monkey bars.
Over the past couple months every week at her dance class when they have switched from ballet to tap she has been determined that she could tie her own shoes.  She honestly hadn't been taught anything but every week we would go round and round when it came time to put her tap shoes on.  Finally I told her we would work on tying her shoes.  I started teaching her with the two bunny ears approach but that was tough so we went to the one bunny ear approach and wrapping the lace around.  We would work on it every now and then and she would practice on my shoes sometimes but when I started going through all of her old clothes and shoes she found a pair of tennis shoes with laces and tied them right up... I had no idea she had really grasped it but see for yourself!

At her new school her big project has been the swings.  They didn't have swings back at the CDC and she has been determined to be able to swing all by herself.  She has shared with me how the teachers will help them get started by saying "One for the money...two for the show..pump your legs...and go go go!" and they would help her get started.  However, she can now get on the swings all by herself, get started, and before you know it she's flying so high she's giving me a heart attack!  I'm so proud of her determination and how motivated she is to tackle something that is challenging for her.

Here are just a few funny stories I want to remember:

*  One night after a bath she was pretending she was Mary and her Daddy was Joseph.  Jason went to get her princess jammies and she said "Where did you get those?"  He told her he got them in Bethlehem and she replied "at Target?"

*  On the way to school one day we were talking about how God made her and she said "Jesus made me so special...with stars!  He gave me those stars with his blue wand...and Mary has a pink wand."

*  We saw a tree with no leaves on it and she said "oh no that tree has no leaves...God will be so sad"

*  On one of our recent plane trips she said "look Mommy at the mountains...they are chocolate ones"

*  Riley has named her baby sister Coco since we first told her about the baby.  One day she noticed that perhaps my belly wasn't the only thing getting bigger on me.  She said "oh mommy..your booty is so big.  Is Coco sad that she's in your booty now and not in your belly?"'m totally embarrassing myself on this one but you know it made me laugh so hard and I want to remember this...and perhaps remind her of it one day long from now when she's pregnant  :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fun Times!

 Once we got back from Disneyland Riley and I got into our routine.

My girl and I totally miss Jason but we know how to have fun too!

Riley goes to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays at her new pre-school and I use that time to get my work done!  The rest of the week we have plenty of time to have lots of fun!

We have met friends at Kids Gone Wild a couple of times!
 She and her buddy Carter have a blast together and Riley never wants to leave the huge slide!
 We may or may not go to Inn N Out after Kids Gone Wild (wink wink).  It has sort of become a tradition and I can't complain...and since I've been introduced to their neapolitan shake I am really not complaining!

We have had lots of fun lunch dates...just my girl and I...I had to go up to Davis one day to take care of some paperwork at my doctor's office so we went to my favorite Thai restaurant!
 We got some ice cream afterwards and Riley thanked me with lots of kisses that afternoon!

 On many mornings if we don't have to be somewhere early she cuddles in bed with me and watches cartoons...and sometimes we have breakfast in bed!
 We enjoy the nice weather lots too!  My friend Ashley teaches a FitMoms class and we always go to it on Friday...Riley is great and she runs around with all us moms getting a work out and then it's play time at the park for her afterwards!

At home we have been riding her bike, playing soccer and tee-ball, and taking lots of walks!
 Sometimes she gets a special treat and gets to play with her make-up...I go back and forth with this because she wants to do this every day but I don't want her thinking she needs to put make up on every day either.  She knows that she can't leave the house with make up on and most of the time I limit her use of it and only when I know we're not going to be going anywhere the rest of the day...she sure has fun though!
 She even gave me a face sticker!
 We've made several shopping trips and we always have to stop at the carousel for a ride on Racing Stripes!
 And one day I even surprised her and took a nap with her...this was the picture we sent to Jason before we took a snooze.  As Riley said, "Daddy's girls are tired"