Saturday, May 30, 2009

In the Pink/Pink Saturday


Happy Pink Saturday and Congratulations to Beverly over at How Sweet the Sound as her meme "Pink Saturday" celebrates one year of pinkness today!

To join in the celebration, I am sharing with you my newly acquired office supplies...pink file folders. I think they are so cute and certainly brighten up any office space (not to mention make the task of filing that much more fun)!





Thursday, May 28, 2009

A "Tail" of Two Daughters


I'm going to admit a secret here...when I found out that I was having a boy I was foolishly disappointed. It's not so much that I didn't want a son, as I really just wanted another daughter. I had visions of matching sundresses and hair bows swirling around in my head and well...I know about girls. How to dress them, how to play with them, and most importantly how to potty train them.

However, about mid-way through the pregnancy a co-worker gave me a Celine Dion CD that had her version of John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" on it and I began falling in love with Benjamin before even meeting him. And after that 3D sonogram...well, how could I not love my little man that looked almost exactly like me?

Over the past two-and-a-half years, I have fallen deeper and deeper in love with my little prince. He is the perfect companion for our little princess and purchasing coordinating outfits has been just as much fun, if not more so, than matchy-matchy anyways!

So imagine my sheer delight when little man insisted on "have ponytail too, momma" this afternoon! I was more than happy to oblige. Thank goodness his fire fighting daddy is on-duty and not around to see this! (He never reads our family blog!)



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"How Not To Look Old"


Okay, so just how excited was I when Charlotte from Charlotte's Weblog contacted me to inform me that I had won one of her book give-aways? Pretty darn excited! In fact the beauty of it (get it...the BEAUTY of it) is that I am three months shy of turning 40 and admittedly having issues with that fact. Have been for about a year now.

I know, I know, they say that 40 is now the new 30, and for someone who really does look younger than her actual age, it isn't so much that I fear looking older, but that my biological clock is running out.

There I said it. I do not want my child-bearing years to come to an end. Actually, it's not even so much about them coming to an end as it is about them coming to an end without us adding a third child to our family. The reality is, I have probably already run out of time...but that's a post for a different day. A day in which I am wallowing in self-pity and not thanking God for the TWO beautiful miracles that I have been blessed with!

Anyway, my winning came in the mail today and it really is as awesome of a read as Charlotte promised. Fortunately, I haven't made too many "old lady or OL" mistakes as Charla Krupp refers to them, such as "too dark of lipstick, yellow teeth, or fake dragon-lady nails" (sort of hard to change diapers or make home-made play dough with fake nails). Unfortunately, I have been seen on the streets sporting, "mommy-jeans, too long of skirts, and a solid-block of hair color".

Seriously, though, I just want to thank Charlotte for the book-giveaway and to let her know how much I appreciate being a winner. Thanks Charlotte, maybe now I really won't look like the OLDEST ROOM MOTHER in my Pre-Kindergarten daughter's class!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering Those Who Served


Today, on Memorial Day, I took a stroll through our town cemetery to honor those who served to protect our country and our freedoms. Every year, the VFW proudly displays American flags along the 1-mile stretch between the VFW post and the cemetery. Part of that stretch happens to be the little side road you take to get to our subdivision. The cemetery is across the street from the subdivision entrance and it is hard to miss the beautiful display of Old Glory. It is a very moving tribute to our veterans, and today was no exception.

Many of the veteran markers are very old, dating back to the Civil War. In addition to American flags, these graves are also marked with GAR plaques. According to Wikipedia, The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army who had served in the American Civil War. The GAR was among the first organized interest groups in American politics. It was succeeded by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW).

Thank you to all veterans, past and present, who have served our country to protect our freedom.


American flags line both sides of the street all the way to the cemetery entrance.




This veteran's marker is so weathered it is no longer possible to read the inscription.


Who were these young men, these pioneers, that so valiantly fought to save our Union? Where did they originally come from? Who, if any, are their descendants? Much thanks goes to our local VFW Post for not letting these soldiers and their families' sacrifices not be forgotten.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Binkies & Baths/Not Me Monday


Today is "Not Me Monday" hosted by the lovely MckMama over at My Charming Kids. And as certain as I am that I have made NO mommy ERRORS in my short venture into parenthood...I thought it would be fun to play along!

So, to begin...I did NOT IGNORE my daughter (age: almost-5-years old) who was in the bathtub so that I could finish typing up this post.

And, I did NOT FAIL to put sunscreen on either child yesterday afternoon when I took them to the city pool...



NOR did I allow Benjamin to stick his head directly into the shooting sprays of water even though he has ear tubes...



and I certainly DO NOT allow my TWO-AND-HALF year old SON to have a PINK binky even though I swore I would never be THAT mom that allows children of walking/talking-age to have pacifiers.



NOPE...not me! Now hop on over to My Charming Kids to read about all other sorts of parenting errors that other mommies did NOT do this past week!

Summer's Coming!


Nothin' on earth that'll get me hummin'
Like a heat wave comin' and I'll come runnin'
With her makin' that tan in the broad daylight
And every night is a Saturday night
And everything's right with the summer comin'
I'm the first one standin' in line
For my day in the sun I've been workin'
'Til the sun don't shine.
Lyrics from "Summer's Coming" by Clint Black

Summer surely is coming, although I'm not the one "workin' 'til the sun don't shine". That's poor Daddy!

The pool officially opened on Saturday and I took the kids this afternoon to cool off. The temperature isn't all that high (85 degrees F), but the humidity is thick! It did end up raining on us for a few brief minutes, but I'm glad we didn't flee the scene as the shower was over as quickly as it started. A few minutes under the umbrellas with fruit snacks seemed to curb any disappointment over getting out of the water!


Yes, his sunglasses are on upside down, but at least he's wearing them!


I have no idea what is up with the "posing".


Infant/toddler pool to the left (zero depth entry); "big kid" zone to the right. Mary is "officially" a big kid, as in, she wants to go down the "big" slide by herself.


The REALLY "big kid" slide. Height requirement in place. Fortunately, Mary's not tall enough for this one yet and children are not allowed to ride down with parents/guardians. I will say that Mary conquered this beast last year (at age 3) during her summer swimming lessons!


Not a bad little "aquatic center" (whatever happened to "city pool"?) for a town that only has 1 stoplight and no grocery store!


*Ring ring, Ring ring* Hello..."Yes, is this Mrs. Kueter?" Yes..."Mrs. Kueter...this is the ENT's office. You do recall that your son underwent ear tube surgery last winter...kindly, please keep his ears directly out of the spray of dirty pool water." EEEEK!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Decompression


Today we took the "Decompression" out on her inaugural voyage...around Clinton Lake in Lawrence, KS. It seems every year we have some major boating issue that prevents us from even launching from the dock on our first outing. This year was the exception...we must be getting better at this boating thing!

I find the "Decompression" to be a bit of an oxymoron. Something that is supposed to be relaxing, and well, decompressing, often leads to more angst and headaches then is necessary. And really, does anyone find boating with toddlers and preschoolers relaxing? I suppose my husband does...as he's driving the boat and rocking out to classic '80s rock. Hmmmm...

Just a few pics from today. The weather was absolutely beautiful. We reached a high of 87...the warmest day of spring thus far. The water was still a bit chilly, but refreshing when one needed a quick cool down. Looking forward to a restful Sunday as we recover from excessive sun exposure!


Can you see the excitement? This is old hat for Mary...Ben's not quite sure what to think!


Ben loves his crab floatation device.


Mary sporting her new sun hat. So sweet!

Pink Princess Cups & Little Purses


Happy Pink Saturday. Its that time of the week when pink lovelies come crawling out of nooks, crannies, crawlspaces, and cupboards. Cupboards?...okay, we call them kitchen cabinets at our house, but here's what I was able to find for Pink Saturday. Many thanks to Beverly for being our hostess with the mostess. Click on the Pink Saturday link to see other pinkalicious posts!

So how many pink princess cups does one 4-year old need? Apparently four. One for each year, I say!



And here's the little princess posing in some very worn, but much-loved Jo Jo's Circus jammies. In case you don't know, Jo Jo is a little clown-GIRL, who has a lion named Goliath as her sidekick. This delightful show used to be on the Disney Channel, but no longer is aired (at least in our programming area) much to Mary Catherine's dismay.




Finally, we have Mary Catherine's "change" purse. This would be a NEW change purse to replace a little old black one (with those funky knobby clasps) that her GREAT-GRANDMOTHER sent her (including coins). Mommy accidentally THREW IT AWAY when we were at the movies. You can imagine the tears that she cried when we realized her purse was missing and she told me that it was in the popcorn box (that I threw away). Rather than go back to the theater to dig through the trash, we made a detour to Target where I promised to purchase her a brand new change purse. Can you believe that 6-months later she STILL reminds me that I threw away her purse from Great-Grandma?!



Sometimes being a mom can be so difficult!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Welcome Summer!

Today was the last day of school for students in the public school district where I used to teach. It is hard to believe that I "sat out" this past school year, opting instead to stay home with our little ones. And while I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the classroom even a little bit, I truly have enjoyed my time here at home.

Last day of school...2008



I was fortunate to spend the last two-years of my teaching career in one of the finest districts in Kansas and at a state-of-the art, brand-new building. While it is a lot of work to be part of a founding staff that opens a new school, it was also a rewarding experience and a lot of fun. I am in the back (not much taller than some of my 3rd grade students) wearing a blue sweater. My job-share partner (I only taught half-days that year) is seated in the center. A couple of our students are holding a book basket that we presented to her as a baby-shower gift on the last day of school. Appropriate, huh?!!! Books to welcome a new baby!

It's hard to believe that a year has gone by! This is how we celebrated the "last day of school" 2009:


Big wheels and scooters on the front porch.


Lazy day naps!



Hosing down lawn/porch furniture!

Here's wishing you all a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend as well as a fantastic summer!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Trip Around the World/Blue Monday


UPDATE: A few inquired as to what I paid for the thrift store find. The 11" "robin's egg blue" ceramic plate retails for $14.00 over at Raised Cotton. I paid $2.20 for my "harvest gold" 11" ceramic plate with the same raised pattern. Since it was my first thrift store adventure I wasn't sure if I overpaid or not. I think it was a good deal.

Happy Blue Monday! Many thanks to Sally over at Smiling Sally for hosting our weekly "blues" party!

Last week I went on a "virtual" trip around the world only to discover a great new store close to home!

I "left" Kansas City via the Internet and arrived in Illinois for a quick stop at Anne Marie's NaDa Farm. While catching up on some posts, I saw these lovely candles that she created, inspired by a delightful website called Jeanne d' Arc Living. Sounded intriguing and very French...oooh la la!

So I parked the car in "virtual long-term parking" and boarded a plane for Europe. Imagine my surprise when we touched down in Denmark! Yes, Jeanne d' Arc Living is a website created by two Danish women who love to decorate in the Nordic-country style with a bit of inspiration from the French! As I was navigating their site, trying to figure out pricing/shipping/freight/etc. I scrolled down toward the bottom to see a list of European country locations that carried Jeanne d' Arc products. A bit further down, I discovered that there are a handful of American shops that also carry their products.

And that's when I saw it...out of five or six locations listed around the country...Raised in Cotton...Kansas City, Missouri. WHAT?!!! You've got to be kidding me?!!! Can it be true...could there really be a location, not only in the Midwest, but in my HOMETOWN that carries these fine and beautiful Jeanne d' Arc Living products? My heart began to beat faster and I quickly clicked on the link provided.

The next thing I know, I'm flying back over that giant pond of the Atlantic and chartering a small commuter plane to land in Raymore, Missouri (a rural community on the outskirts of Kansas City). I have yet to take a "field trip" to Raised in Cotton (as I left my "car" at Anne Marie's back in Illinois), but plan to do so soon! Their website has lots of lovely blue hydrangeas gracing the home page. But what intrigued me most was when I clicked on their "Home Goods" and "Tabletops" links and saw this...



described as a "lovely robin's egg blue ceramic 11" dinner plate". I am in love with all of the different pieces that go with the set. But here is the crazy part...two weeks ago I went on my first thrift store run. While looking for blue and white or blue and yellow china plates I ran across this:




I couldn't pass it up...the beautiful scalloped design caught my eye and even though it wasn't in the color scheme I was looking for, I knew I could incorporate it elsewhere in my home. The only thing better than the price would've been if it had been in "lovely robin's egg blue"! (Notice my beautiful blue kitchen countertops! I never tire of looking at them.)

So, in the words of Walt Disney, it truly is a, "small, small world!" Looking forward to where my travels will take me as I visit all of you on this "Blue Monday". Blessings to you all from Kansas! Valerie

Animals in the Kitchen

I have neglected to update Mary and Benjamin's book pics over the past couple of weeks, but honestly, my little ones never tire of Pinkalicious or Smash Crash even though we check out new books from the library weekly!

At the library, Mary has a ritual of checking out the SAME book every other week if it is available. The book...My Pony by author/illustrator Susan Jeffers. This is a delightful story about a young girl who very badly wants a pony of her own, but is repeatedly told no by her parents due to finances and logistics. Hmmmm, sounds like someone else's situation that I know!

For the time being, the main character is satisfied with drawing pictures of horses and allowing her imagination to "run away" with her. Susan Jeffers is a renowned children's illustrator and author and you can learn more about My Pony and her other books and illustrations at her website here. Mary often likes to "read" My Pony (she has it memorized page by page in its entirety) in the kitchen while I'm making dinner.

Speaking of kitchens, Benjamin's book pic for this week is Eight Animals Bake a Cake by Susan Middleton Elya. Benjamin, 2, absolutely LOVES this rhyming story about eight farm animals that each bring a different ingredient to bake a cake. "Eight animales, ready to bake, get out of bed to go bake a cake." "Cat brings the butter, so creamy and thick. 'Fresh mantequilla,' says Gato, 'one stick.'"

With over 30 Spanish words included, (along with a handy glossary and pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book) both my kiddos have been learning basic animal and food words in Spanish without even realizing it! (We especially love hearing Mary and Ben's "Spanish" accent as they try to mimic Mommy's pronunciation!) In the end, those silly animals fight over taking the pastel (cake) out of the horno (oven) and end up with pineapple upside-down cake! Delightful as well as delicious...recipe included at the end of the story!!! To learn more about the Eight Animals series or Susan Middleton Elya click here.

Over Mother's Day weekend, we took the little ones to the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead located in Overland Park, Kansas. They had a fantastic time exploring this 12-acre farmstead in the middle of suburbia!


Benjamin just doesn't quite know what to make of the dairy cow, although he is curious!


Our very own "pony girl".

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gardening in the Pink/Pink Saturday



UPDATE: No camping trip this weekend. :( Tornadic thunderstorms put a serious damper on our plans. Better safe than sorry. Afterall, entertaining two little ones...in the mud...in the cold...in a tent is not my idea of family "fun"!

Happy Pink Saturday to everyone. I am not actually around this weekend (enjoying a family camping trip with good friends), but promise to visit all your lovely pink posts upon my return! This week's post is short and sweet; my new pink gardening tools and some potted pink geraniums.



My sweet Mother's Day gift from the little ones this year. A pink gardening bag complete with a 4-Pc garden tool set including pruner, shear, trowel, and cultivator. A portion of the proceeds from "Garden for the Cause" tools will go directly to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Visit Garden for the Cause to learn more about how you can combine a love of gardening with finding a cure.


My darling little garden girl helped me to pot these sweet pink geraniums (using my new gardening tools, of course). For other delightfully pink posts, please visit Beverly over at How Sweet the Sound. Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Teacher Appreciation/Last Day of Preschool Gifts


Today was Mary's last day of preschool. To show our appreciation for all that the preschool directors, classroom teachers, and teacher aides did to make Mary's first year of school a positive experience, we put together these tiny bud vases. Mary chose the ribbons and picked out the roses. Mommy did the assembling borrowing from our vast jelly/mason jar collection in storage. They turned out so sweet and yet were so simple to put together. Mary was really proud to present them to each of her teachers. Now, on to the business of summer!




We started with a simple bouquet of red roses.


Cut down the stems and placed in jelly jars adding some decorative ribbon.


Voila! Tiny, homemade bud vases.


Mary with Miss Jessica. And yes, Mary is holding her "diploma" upside down. Good thing we're doing pre-k instead of "k" next year. LOL



Miss Jessica holding Mary's gift.



After a celebratory Happy Meal, Mary gives the big thumbs up because Schools out for Summer!