Thursday, December 1, 2016

Skirting the Issue

Who doesn't like a good Christmas project? 

Last year my big project was (finally!!) making family stockings. I did them from felt and my very biased opinion thinks they are SUPER cute. This year as I unpacked our Christmas decorations the kids were first and foremost ready for those stockings, but I came up dry in terms of a tree skirt! I've previously used blankets, and now I see I was using those blankets as a placeholder until those stockings were done so I could creat a MATCHING SKIRT!! Not for the first time, procrastination served me well! The stockings dont have a theme exactly, but "colorful" and "felt," "embroidery" and "ricrac" come to mind, so with that I am making colorful felt ornaments that decorate the edge and "hang" from colorful ricrac. For your (ok, MY) viewing pleasure, here are the more detailed ornaments I've finished, and on the bottom is a more general view of the project. I am approximately one million hours away from finished, but I am having lots of of fun in the process.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Back in the Saddle again

Debbie suggested a start writing blog posts again, and I agreed. So let's get started!

I meant to keep my blog going as we were moving in and seeing things with new eyes, so I could log all the things that were "new" and "interesting," and then look back at that post in a few years and LAUGH and laugh and roll over and laugh some more because DU-uh, it's Washington! In preparing for that post (that obviously never happened) I mentally catalogued a few things. In no particular order, Washington (specifically Olympia) is:

1. Beautiful. Holy SMOKES this place is lovely! The trees are unbelievably tall. Things are green, green, and more green - plants, yes, but sidewalks! Walls! The dang TRUNK of the trees are green, because moss grows everywhere. It lends a magical quality to decidedly non-magical things like "gutters" and "sticks" and "that old tree stump that nobody bothered to clear away."

2. Wet. There is water EVERYWHERE - lakes, inlets, rivers, ponds, Puget Sound, the Pacific Ocean! I am so excited that we live so close to the ocean - I love me some Colorado and mountains, but I'm not a big traveller, so when our kids started pestering us about "when are we going to the ocean?" and we didn't even have plans to VISIT the ocean, I thought "this is going to be a long childhood." We satisfied their beach desires the very first week we were here, and they love it all. Love Puget Sound, love the Pacific, love the sand and crabs and sand dollars and boats and seagulls and (thank goodness) DON'T mind the cold. Our neighborhood is built around a lake, and we enjoyed walking down to the lake this summer, going every few days and staying for hours and hours. I LOVE living by a lake.

3. Gross. There are the biggest bugs I have ever seen in my life, and they're NORMAL here! Slugs that stretch from my thumb to my pinky, thicker around than any of my fingers, just sliding across my driveway! Like it's NORMAL! (Hint: It's not normal if you're not from Washington). Massive mosquitos. Spiders to scare the pants off you. But they are everywhere, and they are *considered* normal, so your job is to get used to them.

5. Sunny. Maybe it's because I expected all rain, all the time, so any sun took me by surprise, but the weather here is actually beautiful! Not hot (it got in the low 90's a few times and "extreme weather warnings" were issued - I laughed!!), but not as cool as I (forlornly) thought it would always be. Really just NICE (except the week my parents were here in May, when it got cold again), and we had plenty of sunny days through the summer and even the fall. I hear winter, starting about now through February, is where it gets unbearably rainy, so this may be one of those items I mentioned looking back on and laughing until I hurt myself.

4. Cared for. Earth day is a THING around here! I think Earth Day decorations outstripped all the other holidays we've been here for. NO STORES in Olympia use plastic bags; instead, you pay 5 cents to buy a paper bag, or you can bring a reusable one. This took the longest to get used to. Everybody recycles, and most things are recyclable. Composting is a thing - everybody does it! We have a garbage can, a recycle can, a yard waste can (all the same size), and then a composter in our back yard. It took some getting used to not just to chuck everything in he trash as usual, but they only pick up trash every other week, so it is NECESSARY. Being an outsider looking in, it's a whole bunch of little changes and who cares about reusing your bags or putting your egg shells in the compost instead of the trash? But now that I'm used to it, it seems perfectly normal that you should think about it, and how sad for all those people who don't think about it and just chuck it all in the trash! ... But I'm sure if I were hauled back to our old Pueblo digs I would look back on this time and think, "what weirdos we turned into!" I guess it's the bubbles you live in, and Olympia is a very (VERY) earth-oriented bubble.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Silly little things

Awwww, KIDS... they make us laugh, which makes me write blog posts.

Joe went to the gym early one morning, and when he got home the kids were at the table for breakfast.  He sat next to Caroline and they began that game where you set your hand on the table, the next person slaps theirs down on top, you slap your hand on top, they slap theirs, and you're trying to make your hand be king of Hand Mountain. Anyway, Caroline won the round of King of Hand Mountain, and smugly said to Joe, "You must not have worked out your arms today."

Ethan got up much earlier than the other kids and came down to play with toys. I was already downstairs to scrapbook, and all was quiet... until he farted LOUDLY. I said coyly, "Ethan, did you fart?" He replied, "no, I not fart. Caroline farted." Laughing, I told him, "Caroline is asleep, I think it was you." He matter-of-factly said, "Caroline farted in her bed." He is SO sneaky.

Speaking of sneaky farts, I was holding Ethan on my lap during sacrament meeting on Sunday (I become a human dog-pile during sacrament, it's really sweetly obnoxious, as Joe sits in his corner, untouched), and for that moment everyone was perfectly still. It was a short moment, as Ethan turned to me and announced from out of nowhere, "I didn't fart." Ummmm.... ok, not sure why you would tell me you didn't..... and then the stink cloud hit me. SURE you didn't fart, you little sneakster!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Home, home on the market!

Well, where to begin? As Maria van Trapp would say, "Let's start at the very beginning... a very good place to start!"

Joe has been an all-star at work and about a 9 months ago was sent to Target HQ to begin training to become an SGL, or  Senior Group Leader (he is currently the Group Leader of Engineering and Facilities, or the E&F GL for short). His training through the months has continued to go swimmingly and we began considering places we might relocate, as the Pueblo Distribution Center did not have available SGL positions. About 2 months ago the DC in Lacey, Washington contacted Joe's DC to say they were looking to fill an SGL position for E&F, and would we consider a relocation there? Well YES WE WOULD! (And were you able to follow all those acronyms? Yeah, it gets confusing for me, too!). Joe did a few meet-and-greet interviews, and the General Manager felt that Joe would be a really good fit, so he did a formal interview (actually over the weekend of Patrick's baptism!) and it became official - Joe is being promoted to a Senior Group Leader in the Lacey, Washington Distribution Center! His official last day in Pueblo is March 25th, his first day in WA is April 4th!

So the process has begun. SELLING. As soon as Joe went to that training last summer we started preparing ourselves - wrapping up home renovation projects, clearing out and cleaning up the far reaches of our home (like the attic), and mentally preparing ourselves to say goodbye to the old and hello to the new. When his official offer of a position and salary came through we called our realtor, who helped us buy our home 4 years ago, to put our place back on the market. This happened in a flash - we called her Friday, she took pictures and measurements Monday, it was officially on the market Monday night, we had showings starting on Tuesday, we continued showings on Wednesday, received three offers on Wednesday night, accepted one of those offers Thursday afternoon, had a few more stragglers come for showings Thursday afternoon, and by Thursday night we had the place back to ourselves while we could kick up our feet in the comfort of "under contract!"

The great part of that timing was that there wasn't any panic - we'd been working on putting things together for so long that when it was time to put it on the market it was a cinch, we just had to make sure things were wiped down and laundry put away. The terrible part of that timing was ETHAN'S timing in breaking his arm. Tuesday morning we had Ethan's surgery and the realtors had a group tour; while we were in recovery we had our first showing; starting at 5 p.m. we had a slew of showings. We could normally go out to dinner, but not with Ethan in his state! Our friends the Steels had already graciously provided dinner that night after the surgery, so we took even greater advantage of their hospitality and took up that dinner offer at THEIR house. During our stay we got call after call, and by the time dinner was done we'd had five showings on the house all in 2 hours, and 7 more scheduled for the next day. Whaaaat?! We kept the house to ourselves Thursday morning and then showings started at noon - I loaded up our wagon with pillows and blankets to keep Ethan warm and comfortable, and we went to the zoo for a few hours. Our neighbor Doris had offered to let us crash at her house during any showings, so after the zoo we watched cartoons from her couch. Thankfully we already had dinner plans, with the Cub Scout Blue and Gold dinner at church from 6-7:30. When we got home our realtor updated us on offers coming in, and we agreed to meet up in the morning to discuss with Joe at work. Thursday morning we took a look at the offers, which were all wonderful - I suppose that's typical for a multiple-offer situation? Everyone brought their "highest and best" and we had to pick, which was really hard! A good problem to have, but still a problem. In the end we decided to accept the offer from a young family who wrote us a letter and gushed about the house and seemed to be a perfect fit (or maybe they just really reminded us of us when we bought the house, and we happen to really like "us").

The deal is far from done, as we still have appraisals and inspections to go through, but at least on this end we are perfectly happy with the way things have gone so far.

On the other end, the Washington end, Joe will be taking a trip to the rainy state and finding a place for us to rent for a few months! Soon we will be on the flip side of the coin, being shown houses while someone possibly sits with their kid in the hospital, takes in dinner with a friend, or crashes on their neighbor's couch to watch some cartoons.  The end of one adventure here is the beginning of another one there...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

LOOSH, and our broken Ethan

The big news story is that Ethan broke his arm. He broke it Monday, was splinted by the Orthopedist that evening, had surgery Tuesday morning to put in pins, and was put in a cast from his hand to his shoulder, where he will be recovering for 4 week.

So, apparently he jumped to his own demise. He jumps off the stairs every day, 3 or 4 stairs up, and lands and rolls - no big deal. He jumped off the stairs the minute we were unloading ourselves from picking up the boys from school Monday, so nobody saw HOW he jumped and landed, but it must have been all wrong because he started screaming. I ran to his side ... ok, that's a lie, I walked over after I finished writing some school events on the calendar. If you know Ethan you know he screams about everything, so I figured he had mildly bonked his head but was convinced it was a head-injury. But there he was, crumpled on the floor, and ever since Caroline broke her arm I check arms first after falls - it was obvious from the way he was screaming that he was in pain, the way he was holding himself that it was his arm, and the way his allow stuck out at a funny angle that something was amiss. I took it for a dislocated elbow - c'mon, the elbow was in the wrong place, and there's obviously no way you can break your elbow by jumping down 3 stairs! Right? So we loaded right back into the van that we had literally JUST piled out of, I buckled him up as best I could, and we went to Urgent Care.

Urgent Care looked like they would be less than urgent, their waiting room was PACKED. Our pediatrician is in the office right next door down the hall, so we walked in there hoping there might be a pediatrician who had a second to correct his "nurse's elbow." THEIR office was packed, and all Dr's were booked solid, so we were sent back to the Waiting Room of Doom. I signed in Ethan and the lady at the desk informed me there were 7 people ahead of him, so I sat down to fill our paperwork and Ethan did his job of screaming. Have you heard Ethan scream? It's loud, it's incessant, and it reaches a pitch that physically hurts your eardrums, so I did not even attempt to shush him because I WANTED TO BE SEEN. Sure enough, I hadn't even filled out the second paper in the stack and we were called back to be seen! The nurse rolled up his sleeve to inspect the dislocation, but she said, "sorry, we won't be able to set this, you'll have to drive over to Pueblo West to Dr. Hanson's Orthopedic Center." BOO. I didn't want any more piling in and out of the car, it was excruciation for Ethan, and meant another waiting room, but it was our only hope and it was thankfully just down the road. 

Dr. Hansons's office was, in contrast to Urgent Care, empty. They took us back right away, the team of nurses and assistants took a quick look and said, "that's not dislocated. It's a blahblahblahblah-long-name fracture" We had been out of the house for over an hour at the point, and I was stunned! BROKEN? Ok, let's let that sink in while they take x-rays (and meanwhile understand what the nurse at Urgent Care said about not setting his arm there - I knew they didn't set broken bones there, and I wondered why you'd need to set a dislocated joint... denial was strong with me, I guess). They brought x-rays back, along with Dr. Hanson, who explained that Ethan had broken off the bottom edge of his humerus, and it got shoved out (THAT'S why his elbow looked out of place! it WAS), and had twisted so that he couldn't set it there in the office; Ethan would require surgery to twist is around and scooch it back, then he would pin fractured-off bone disc back to the main bone. SURGERY? Ok, let's let that sink in while the good doctor write up a prescription for some hopped-us Tylenol. 

We left the office with Ethan in a splint, which kept his arm in place but did absolutely nothing for his pain (as opposed to Caroline's break, which was much more comfortable once it was splinted).  We headed straight for Walgreens, our regular pharmacy for filling prescriptions, and it was worse than the urgent care waiting room! The drive-through line was not one or two cars, it was at least TEN! Fortunately there is a side lane for prescription drop-offs only, so we whizzed through that in comparison to those 10 cars, but it meant that the inside pharmacy was ridiculously slammed. Sure enough, the prescription wouldn't be available for TWO HOURS. We grabbed some dinner from Wendy's and went home to put on a movie to hopefully distract Ethan during these miserable hours. Joe came home from work and got the full story, plus some sobs from me - I didn't feel responsible for his accident by any means, and I didn't feel particularly bad about mis-diagnosing it as a dislocated elbow instead of a break because I did as good as I could, but I was just really overwhelmed by the amount of crying involved (it's really hard to listen to your kid in so much pain and not be able to do a darn thing about it), and we've never had any of our kids have any kind of surgery, so I was pretty scared. 

The night was long, even once the overdue prescription was picked up. Ethan was most comfortable in my arms, in a sitting position, so Joe piled pillows around me to be as supported as possible. Ethan's only 3 1/2, about 35 pounds, but that weight becomes impossibly heavy after only a few minutes, and we'd passed the minute mark HOURS before - my arms were aching long before bedtime. He couldn't have food or drink after midnight, and pain meds on an empty stomach just make you feel sick, so we dosed him as best we could before midnight, and he finally fell into a deep sleep around 12. I encouraged Joe to ignore any crying he heard because he wouldn't be able to help anyway, and one of us needed better sleep so the other could go to the hospital in the morning. Ethan's deep sleep only lasted until 3, then we were back to 15-minute intervals of crying - he never quite woke up, but it certainly never let me sleep. Check-in time for surgery was 5:30, so Joe took him in and I was able to get another hour of sleep from 6-7, then get the kids ready for school and drop them off before going to the hospital to meet with Joe.

The hospital was an exercise in patient waiting. 7:30 surgery turned into 8:45 surgery (and no pain meds for Ethan, since he was still not eating), a 45-minute surgery turned into a 90-minute surgery, a 30 minute recovery turned into a 2-hour recovery, so we were finally discharged at 1:00. Ethan's grogginess continued through the day and he slept on the couch while watching movies. The doctors encouraged us to keep him in meds around the clock, which keeps him comfortable ahead of the pain. He is also supposed to be basically immobile with his arm supported by pillows to encourage the swelling to go down. We thought it might be difficult, but his arm is more comfortable when elevated and he's made the connection between the nasty medicine and his arm not throbbing, so even our 3 1/2 year old is on board with his treatment plan! 

The evening was spent at our friend's house because we had house showings, but that's another story for another blog post...

Meanwhile, our doctor friend loves hearing tales of broken bones so Joe was describing the accident and he said, "oh, a LOOSH! It happens all the time - enough that it has it's own name - Landing On Out-Stretched Hand. Ethan must have stuck out his arm to land, which knocked the bottom of the humerus so they had to pin it." So now you know. Ethan is a LOOSHer.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

dancing queen

Caroline got dance classes for christmas, and she has a of of fun, but I think I have more fun watching her! It brings back so many memories of dance classes with my sisters when we were little. The stretching, imaginary play, positions of the band's and feet, leaping over a stream at the end, it's all the same! The main difference is we danced to a real piano player and they have a CD (which didn't exist when I was Carolina's age, WEIRD).

Typical Jacobs, taller than everyone.
The dance dress code is a pink leotard and pink ballet shoes with black leggings. We have this ensenble, but we also have gymnastics leotards and (more importantly) Caroline has her own sense of style - never mind that she is The Only One wearing something different, it is what she wants to wear and she loves it! Caroline to a tee. 

Friday, January 29, 2016


For Patrick's 8th birthday we threw him an art party! Because really, if I had to throw him another dinosaur party I think I would die, and his only other passion is art. Boom! Art party!

Luckily, Pinterest backed me up with some great ideas for invitations, decorations, party favors, and sundries - I was pin-winning right and left! We scheduled our time so we would use up our 3 hours of party without being booked solid but also without having so much time everyone was hounding me to call their parents to pick them up early because they were bored. We nearly had to call a mom early because one of the boys freaked out about seeing a bee (SEEING it, nothing more!), but fortunately that happened right at the end anyway. Mom confirmed that he goes psycho about bees (and no, he isn't allergic, just psycho) and she didn't try punching me for subjecting her child to such emotional trauma. Perhaps we could egg him on and plan a bee-themed party next year... but I digress!

First up was painting t-shirt with puff paint. The puff paint was supposed to take 4 hours to dry, and sure enough everyone went home with messy, wet t-shirts. I suspect t-shirt painting would go better at a summer party where the sun could speed along the process.

Next we played some Twister and Pin-the-paint-on-the-pallette. This was thanks to Facebook, where I borrowed 2 Twister games from people I would never have suspected owned one! We had 6 guests and 4 of my own kids so we needed 2 sets of twister dots, which worked out great to fit everyone in to one giant round of Twister. Added bonus: the new, improved Twisters have "air" as a spin possibility, meaning even crazier positions that are unsustainable! Good times, good times.

 While we were borrowing one of those Twister games we were also given a "pin the paint on the palette" game - they'd thrown an art party just a few weeks prior and couldn't bear to throw away their hard work on their poster, so I swooped in and snatched it for our party, then threw it away without remorse (they asked to me to. I'm not completely heartless). Two girls at the party were sisters and their mom stayed to help out (never expected but always appreciated) - her most helpful contribution was taking pictures while I was helping out kids! This was the only "pin the paint" photo she took, but it's better than my big-fat-ZERO pictures.

After games the crowd was getting rumbly for some food so Joe ran to get pizza and we got started on pillowcases - no puff paint, I was aiming for something they could actually sleep on - and then we took a food break when lunch arrived.

 The cake was not so much a real cake as individual cupcakes that the kids got to decorate by themselves - yet another art activity! And I'm glad it showcased my baking skills on the small screen, as I managed to forget to put eggs in one of the batches of cupcakes (it was a box mix! There are only 3 ingredients to add, for crying out loud! Fail).

 After pizza and treats we opened gifts - always fun! Always impressive! I set a personal gift limit of $10 per gift for parties the kids are invited to, which I think you can meet while finding some really great stuff. I seem to be the only with with such a limit, though, and he was showered with everything an 8-year-old-boy could ask for. My contribution (besides throwing a party) was a microscope - it has a nifty carrying case, some pre-made slides, some blank slides for creating your own, and other activities and instructions for making the most of your kit. Patrick has a friend who has a microscope and he frequently asks for playdates with her, just to use the microscope.

 And that is how WE get down at the Jacob's house!