Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Treasure Hunt and other random things

Now that the weather seems to finally feel more like spring we've been spending more time outside. We mostly play with sidewalk chalk, play in the play house, or go to the park at the end of the block which are all fun, but I wanted to find something new to entertain Riley (and myself). Thanks to Pinterest I came across a treasure hunt idea. It wasn't anything complicated - mostly finding items and shapes easily found in nature. Tonight, after dinner, I explained to Riley what the treasure hunt was and we headed out the door.

I brought the camera thinking she might find it fun to take a picture of each item, but for some she wanted to be in the picture so that's what we did. We made a pit stop at the park in the middle of it, but Riley easily left the park to finish the hunt.

So there were some repeat items that fulfilled more than one category, but it was fun to see her trying to find each of these items. I think this is a game that will last for some time as we can switch up the items and add more challenging elements to it. Plus, she can learn from it and become more aware of her surroundings. 

Another thing we often do with Riley is give her choices. This choice option has sorta become a game. It's partly about making conversation, but I think it helps her think. She used to always say "I don't know" even when she did know the answer so this has helped her actually give us an answer in many instances. We'll 'test' Riley on random items. She knows her colors and shapes, but sometimes we'll be somewhere and I'll say "is that a square or a triangle". In turn, she has been doing this to us a lot the last couple weeks "Mommy, is this a shirt or pants?", "Mommy, is this purple or yellow?" She knows the answer, but is just doing what we do. It's entertaining for both of us especially when I give the wrong answer.

This kid has been also been saying the funniest and sweetest things. Here's just a taste:

~ (I'm on the floor playing with Riley. My shirt has risen up a bit and my lower back is exposed)

Riley: Mommy, your butt is getting out (as she pulls down my shirt).

~ (As we are leaving the gym, Riley turns to me and points to my yoga mat)

Riley: What's that?
Me: That's my yoga mat.
Riley: Oh, we gonna put it on the floor in the basement and step on it? (Ha - yup, that's exactly what we do on it - when I do yoga at home it's in the basement and I've shown her some moves. She does a mighty fine downward dog).

~ (and my favorite which she's been saying a lot lately)

Riley: Mommy, I missed you today (heart swells - I missed you too kiddo).

So there you have it - a whole bunch of random. Such is our life.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Preschool, Here We Come

Just before Riley turned three I started to think about preschool. Not in an immediate sense, but that we should probably transition Riley from her in-home daycare (which we love, love, love) to an environment with a curriculum at some point. I was going to mention it to Jesse, but was concerned that he wouldn't want to move her from her current daycare (see above: love, love, love) so I held off for the moment.

When we took Riley in for her three year wellness check our pediatrician highly recommended we think about preschool. Again, I thought Jesse might be hesitant, but he was all over it. All of a sudden, I was the apprehensive one. I wasn't sure what that was about at the time, but while Jesse kept saying we had to start doing our research I didn't take any action on it even though I knew it was the best thing to do.

Eventually, (after Jesse sent me an email filled with local preschools) I started setting up tours to check places outs. Turns out that searching for preschools in April for a start date in September is late - for some places it was a year too late (note to self: you may want to start the kindergarten search any day now). The preschools we looked at varied in cost, curriculum, philosophy, hours of operation, and so on. We weren't sure what exactly we were looking for, but had a general idea and hoped that one of the places would click for us. We toured a total of five places (two of which did not have any openings for September) and ended up applying to two (one of which we are on a waiting list because of said lack of openings).

The preschool that we are on the wait list for is a pretty awesome place, but it's also a big jump in cost. I hate to say it, but I'm secretly (or not so secretly) hoping their wait list doesn't open up (we are second on the list)... partly because of the cost, but also because I don't want to have to make a decision between two preschools when I've already got it in my head that we'll be taking Riley to the other one.

I've found this whole process interesting and exhausting and way more emotional than I thought it would be. Riley is growing in leaps and bounds... doing and saying new things everyday. She is SO ready for preschool. She NEEDS this. It's like she wants to learn new things ALL THE TIME. So this will be a good thing for her. I'm the one that needs to adjust.

Yeah, that brings me back to my apprehension. Once I started to think about it more I realized that this is probably typical mom stuff. My baby is no longer my baby. She's a big girl and it's probably more scary for me to be sending her into a new environment than it will be for her. She's way more adaptable than I remember myself being.

As a kid I stayed at home with my mom until I was three years old. It was at that time that my parents divorced and I ended up with my dad. I ended up going to two different in home daycare's (one fantastic, one served powered milk - enough said) and one day care center (hated this place - made me a little scared of centers) over a span of a few years. Plus, once I started school I was in three different schools by second grade, four different schools by 4th grade. I was a pretty shy kid so I don't think I handled change quite as well as Riley, but I still don't want her to go through that. I want her to feel some stability.

That's also why I am leaning towards the program that the city runs. I'm betting that most of those kids will move onto the same school that Riley will when kindergarten starts. And if she is lucky enough to make it into the Spanish Immersion school by the time she hits kindergarten she'll actually end up in the same building. A nice familiar place. On top of that we like the curriculum (there is an online component that we can do with her), the staff is very established there, great location near our house, big and bright rooms, a reasonable price... it seems like a great place.

So our decision has been made (barring an opening at that other place). I hope it was the right one. We've even put off a big trip we had planned to see family in Luxembourg in September to make sure this transition wasn't too overwhelming. We've been talking with Riley about going to school and she seems pretty excited about it, but I don't think she understands yet that she won't be going to Char's house (our current daycare) in a few months anymore. I know she will miss Char (we all will), but I know she will adapt. She's surprised me many times when she's been faced with something new at how well she does... even if she's a little shy at first.

It will be a big change, but a good one. And it will be the first of many future changes. Let's hope they aren't so overwhelming... for me that it, because I know she'll adjust faster than I will. She's a champ like that.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Born with a hammer in one hand and a tape measure in the other...

As many of you know I like remodeling. This blog doesn't really show the scope of remodeling I've done, but let's say if I started a blog 10 years ago that probably would have been it's focus. About that time I bought my first house, a duplex, that was built in 1900 which had multiple updates through the years... and was in need of additional love. Let's just say it was dated and was clearly impacted from years of renters.

The first thing I did once I closed on the house was rip the carpet out. The remodeling projects continued from there. I loved the changes I could make and the money I could save doing some of the work on my own (of course, using licensed professionals as needed).

When Jesse and I moved we knew that we had a list of updates for our new house that we were eager to tackle. We started with the basement and had big plans to knock that remodel out fast and head on to the next. Then I got pregnant and became somewhat useless. My brothers came over one day to help sheet rock the ceiling and had no idea that I was pregnant and could not help (I was having issues so the doctor ordered me to not lift anything and to take it easy). It was hard for me to simply serve people food and not get my hands dirty along with them.

Eventually, we got the basement finished, but all future remodels slowed down once we had a kid. Four years into our house and we've done the basement (minus the bathroom which is still in limbo) and the kitchen. We thought we'd also have all three bathrooms completed and the outside deck... along with all sorts of smaller projects. Bwahahaha. Silly us.

Even though I'm not as engrossed in these projects as I used to be I still love to track them and to search for new ideas. I have folders of papers in the basement of room ideas, and tons of sites 'pinned' on Pinterest, and now I have House Talent.

OMG, why was this site not around when I lived in the duplex! In those days I took a ton of pictures, which I then printed out and put into a photo album. Bwhahaha. Seriously, times have changed. 10 years ago I totally would have proudly displayed my photo album to anyone interested in seeing the evolution of the deck I built, or the kitchen floor I put in, or the tiling job I did in the bathroom... Now I can display it here, but I can also use this super cool site where people are specifically looking for ideas or just wanting to track their projects. Why didn't I think of this creating this site? Well, I guess I didn't have to because a couple of local guys did.

What I love about the House Talent site is that it is easy to use, easy to search for other people's projects and easy to interact with others. You can follow other people, you can comment, you can make things your favorite.

Ok, I will admit when they first went live they asked me to test it out and compensated me a bit (this task confirmed that I love quality assurance type tasks. Who knew all these years that I would totally dig that stuff). At any rate, they did not ask me to post anything about the site here, but I've been meaning to do so for some time. Actually, I've already been talking to people about it because I think it's so cool... and one of them even posted her kitchen remodel. (Ben, I still want to see your kitchen - this would be the perfect spot to display. Hint, hint.)

Anyhoo, I know this might not be that exciting to others who aren't into remodeling. Sure there are a lot of places I can find inspiration, but it's fun to see the process. How do people get from point A to point B when changing a room? What creative ideas do others have? I love making something fresh and new from something old... and being able to say "I did that" and to see what other people do gives me inspiration for the next project.

Speaking of next projects...we are in the midst of making some additional, yet small changes to our bedroom. Husband created these two representations of our bedroom (including Diablo, the cat, on the bed for accuracy, of course) to help me decide on how to repaint the walls.

We just painted it this past weekend and have some additional details to finish (I'll post pictures later and of course, be putting this on House Talent). Which one do you think we went with?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Red Wing again!

A couple weekends ago when we were in Red Wing for our anniversary we bought a new dresser. I'm lucky enough to know a couple people that have trucks so we secured the usage of one (my dad's) and decided to do a day trip with Riley to go pick up our new dresser. We figured there were some things (like trains) that she would enjoy seeing, and I wanted to check out the pottery stuff that I didn't get to see when we were last there. So on Sunday we headed off to Red Wing. We made a quick stop at my dad's to swap vehicles and off we went.

Riley really, really wanted to see a blue train while we were there which happened to be the only 'color' we saw on any of the trains. Phew! She was talking about blue trains for days prior.

We walked down to the river (which I didn't seem to take any pictures of and which was very high) and found a walking path and some points of interest like this statue.

Riley imitating the statue.

After getting the dresser, and wandering around town we stopped for breakfast at the St. James just as we did when we were here a couple weeks ago. One of the staff members did a magic trick where he pulled a red light out of Riley's ear and put it up his nose multiple times. The expression on her face was along the line of 'mind blown'. It was a fun, unexpected moment.

After food we decided to stop at the Pottery Mall. I anticipated pottery stores to be there, but no, not really. We did see the pottery museum in there and bought a book for Riley for a dollar at an antique store, but not what I expected. 

We headed back a bit before lunch so we could get home in time for nap time. Nothing too exciting, but I nice little get away. It's not that far of a drive so I can see ourselves coming back from time to time in the future.

And maybe next time we'll actually stop at a store that sells pottery.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Friends

This past weekend was full of different activities, but was marked mostly as the weekend Riley made some new friends. She occasionally plays with my friend's kids and of course, has her friends at daycare, but this weekend seemed like the theme was 'new friends'. She even seemed to get what was meant by 'friend'. When she was younger these were just other kids that were there to play with, but now there is some connection, an ownership of sorts, with other people.

 "That's my friend."

The way she interacts in these situations is different than in the past. It reminds me how much she is changing and growing up. This weekend especially created one of those 'she'll always be my baby even when she's not a baby anymore' sort of feelings. Plus it brought out a range of emotions in me that I wasn't quite expecting (more on that later).

I missed the first friend event, a play date with Grant (Jesse's co-workers' son), because I am an idiot (I drove 45 minutes to a funeral that is NEXT weekend. *sigh*). Grant will be attending Riley's day care one day a week starting this week. It was a bit of a 'get to know a familiar face' play date and while I was bummed to miss the get together it was ok I wasn't there because Riley had fun even without me (shocking, I know). Apparently, she was a little shy at first, but the kids quickly warmed up to each other. The play date started at our house, moved to Panera for lunch, and ended up at the local pet store which is a new hot spot for Riley.

On Monday when Grant arrived at daycare I was told that it was a little overwhelming with all the kids gathering around, but apparently my kid walked up and said "Hi Grant". I can only hope it brought him a little comfort to see a familiar face.

On Sunday afternoon Riley made another new friend. I had just come home from my dad's house when I found Jesse outside with Riley talking to the 7 year old neighbor girl and her dog. I've seen this girl around as she's always riding her bike past our house and waving, and only lives a few houses away. I always got the sense that she wanted to play with Riley even when Riley was a baby. Many of the other kids down the block are older than her so I could tell she wanted a play mate. 

We invited this little girl, Greta, to play sidewalk chalk with us. The girls seemed to click even with an age difference of 4 years. Some of the older girls down the block came outside and Greta said 'hi' to them. And then my kid, who can be a little on the shy side at first, started walking over to this other yard telling these girls about her new friend and making sure they knew I was her mommy. They pretty much ignored her. I don't know if it was because she was hard to understand (soft spoken 3 year old talk) or if they were just too cool for the little kids. Every time they would ride their bike past our house Riley would attempt to talk to them, but they wouldn't really respond. Greta had to point out to them that Riley was trying to talk to them.

It broke my heart a little. 

They weren't outright mean and I'm not sure she totally got that they weren't really giving her much attention, but I did and it made me think of all the times in the future that some other person might not be nice to her and might hurt her feelings in some way. 

It made me feel so vulnerable for her.  I wanted to give her a big hug to remind her that she is unconditionally loved by someone.

And at the same time I was so proud of her for attempting to talk to the big girls, for making sure to point out who I was, for her exuberance in playing with this new girl. It made me laugh and it made me want to soak it all in to share with Jesse and to remember every detail for myself.

So many emotions!

Eventually, Greta and Riley moved to the back yard where they made food in the playhouse kitchen. And Riley started up a conversation with one of our neighbors (seriously, whats up with this girl). And then they kicked the ball around and played with the slide. And then they made beds out of lawn furniture cushions. And I thought it was going to go on forever - which is good except when it's dinner time and playtime just has to end. Riley looked so excited that I didn't know how to break it up. 

But eventually, we did have to end playtime. Greta said she would look for us when we were outside in the future and she encouraged us to stop by her yellow house when we wanted to play. I took Riley inside and she started crying, not able to comprehend why the fun had to end. She only cried for a short while and then went to the window to look for her friend. 

You're breaking my heart kid.

The next night after I put Riley to bed our doorbell rang several times. I, of course, cringed that it was ringing as I was afraid that would wake her up, but I knew who had to be at the door. It was Greta and she even brought a friend who looked to be somewhere between Riley's age and Greta's age. Unfortunately, I had to turn them away, but it made me realize that Riley's getting to that age where she'll have the neighbor kids over... and eventually will hang out at other kid's houses and I won't always be there when she's playing.

Seriously, how did she get this big? And how can I slow her aging down a little - I don't want her to grow up too fast.

My husband shared that the girls played together this afternoon while I was at work. He noted that Riley was soooo excited to have her new friend over. And apparently, the new friend's parents want to meet us. Oh my, another thing I didn't think I would be doing already - getting the approval from other parents.

Oh, how my life has changed in the last few years. And how cool it is to see my baby develop into a little girl.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Easter 2013

My Easter post.


Easter kind if got the shaft this year (my Easter post that is) because of the whole computer upgrade, photo's being lost, the very manual process of retrieving them, and waiting for Photoshop and Bridge to be installed back on the computer. Instead of retrieving the pictures I would have been posting this... and once everything was set with the computer I started posting other things. So yes, I realize Easter was forever ago, but I am going to post about it because it did happen and I might want to look back on it one day. Nothing too exciting happened and the pictures aren't that great, but IT HAPPENED.

A few days before Easter we colored eggs. I acquired an egg coloring kit from somewhere. Not sure where, but best bet is I found it at my dad's house. I know I had it last year, but figured Riley was too young to get the whole egg coloring thing so I waited until this year to use it.

Luckily, waiting a year didn't make much of a difference since the box suggested it not be used after 1998. Yes, 1998. I debated for a split second to not use it, but I had already talked the egg coloring process up with the kid so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. 

Turns out everything was fine. With this kit you put the egg in a plastic bag and squirt some of the color in and squish it around. No vinegar or water needed. Super easy and fast and the eggs came out with vibrant colors. Riley was pretty excited and even wanted to eat one even though she doesn't like hard boiled eggs. She daintily ate a few bites of the egg white and then essentially ordered me to eat the rest. 

Just as I thought.

The night before Easter I planned to hide plastic eggs filled with crackers and letters (it's a tradition, I guess) and hang some empty plastic eggs from somewhere (ceiling, lights...). I finally decided to do all of this (with Jesse helping) after 10 pm. Great planning, poor execution (as in... I should have done it before my bedtime). Getting that yarn into those tiny holes on the eggs took far longer than I hoped and I found myself getting to bed an hour later than usual.

Last year the weather was super nice so we did the Easter egg hunt outside midday, but this year we had the never ending winter so we got Riley up and put her to work finding the eggs right away. And this sort of turned out to be breakfast too since many of the eggs had crackers in them. Win win.

I debated about getting a basket for her since she gets one from grandma and grandpa, but I grabbed this inexpensive one and filled it with just a few things. It is really hard to find non candy items, but I did find this cool egg shaped sidewalk chalk which was a huge hit.

Smile or silly face? I can't quite remember.

No interest what so ever with the egg hunt, but the other cat was totally underfoot.

After a successful egg hunt Riley and Lucy naturally sat in the window and watched all the birds who were like "WTF, it's Easter. Why is there all this snow on the ground?"

After a little bird watching we got dressed and headed to grandma and grandpa's house. Of course, there was another egg hunt. This time with candy, but also some with money. Nice thinking. She likes adding coins to her piggy bank jars so I will have to remember to add the coin thing into the cracker and letters mix for next year. In fact it might have to replace the letters, because she might not be in love with letters like she is this year. And crackers? Who doesn't love crackers?

Instead of a traditional basket, grandma and grandpa hid gifts around the house along with the plastic eggs. She got a number of things including the matching game below and some Play-Doh. I also don't totally get why we give gifts at Easter. I don't remember this happening when I was a kid, but that might just be because I am getting old and can't remember that far back. Wait, I do remember getting one hollow chocolate bunny to eat. And I am pretty sure when I was a kid I hunted for colored hard boiled eggs around the house - not chocolate filled plastic ones. Once found they went into a bowl that sat out on the table all week. That had to smell nice.

I took a lot more pictures at the grandparents house than displayed, but so many were blurry. Just imagine Riley holding up a different colored egg in each one with a huge grin on her face. There were some other family member that joined us for food and company that day. So much wonderful food and good company. 

We lazed around watching TV (Jesse getting in his HGTV fix here) before heading home to wrap up another holiday.

Happy Easter!... even if it is over a month late.