Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Roadtrip PSA

Jay and I like to test the limits of my car. Namely, it's speedometer. We've been lucky and only been pulled over a few times but walk a fine line on long trips. But basically if the kids are asleep, we are going FAST and we are NOT stopping for anything. Even when Mommy has to potty. Even if Mommy is BEGGING to stop. Seriously, we don't stop.

On Sunday we were about 10 minutes from our house when I passed a state trooper. However, I KNOW I was only going about seven MPH over the speed limit (love cruise control) and was surprised when he pulled me over.

Addi asked why we were stopping and Jay, in a VERY annoyed voice, explained to her that Mommy was going too fast and was in trouble. And rolled his eyes in a way I find endearing when done by a certain three year old. Not so endearing with the hubs.

After I rolled my window down to get my punishment, the trooper kindly explained that he pulled us over because my passenger (Jay) was improperly wearing his seat belt.

It's hard to say I told you so, as you hand over $55 for your ticket. Hard, but not impossible.

Monday, June 29, 2009

"It's just fireworks..."

While driving near my mom's house on Friday we passed a fireworks store. As a marketing technique they were setting off some large ones and they were really pretty to watch. They were also loud.

Addi was super excited to see them and exclaimed over each one. Then, Jay and I heard a loud noise coming from the backseat. More specifically, from Addi's pants.

Since we are working on manners I said, "Addi! Say excuse me if you toot!"

She said, "Mommy, that wasn't me. That was fireworks."

Halfway there

With 11 days left until the big reveal, Jay and I have been continuing our weight loss efforts. Eating low fat (and in my case, low carb) foods and smaller portions seems to be the key for us, and it's becoming more of a habit to go for the lighter items first. Hopefully we are making life-long changes here as we both like the way we feel today.

About six weeks ago I decided we needed to start exercising again. We had been fairly diligent on the elliptical up until my surgery, and then we both fell off the wagon. I've always heard that running is the perfect exercise and have friends who love it but have always hated it personally. But in the interest of being a hot mama getting to better health, I wanted to give it a whirl.

I Googled "starting to run" and came across the Couch to 5K Program. The title dragged me in so after previewing it I printed the program out and made a commitment to run a 5K.

And was scoffed at by pretty much everyone I told. Like I said, Steph does NOT equal runner.

Even Jay kind of rolled his eyes but was supportive enough to at least read the program for himself. And then he said (shockingly) "I am going to do this too."

And so our running adventure began.

The high level view of the program is simple. Run/walk three times a week for about 30 minutes each time, increasing the run cycles and decreasing the walk cycles. In about nine weeks you should be able to run for 30 minutes consecutively.

We are currently at the end of Week 4, officially ½ done with our program. And I’ve been keeping track of how it’s been going and would like to share some of the highlights with you now.

Week 1:

Run 1: went fine although we both had our pants almost fall down (note: need drawstring shorts) and had a hard time figuring out how long we had ran. Also, getting my not-Pod set to the right songs was tricky.

Run 2:

  • pants stayed up, wore a stop watch, and was attacked by a bird.
  • Jay complained that my stopwatch and not-Pod holder were both bright pink and he looked like a girl. Oh and that my music sucked and who would want to listen to New Kids on the Block while running anyway?
  • Went to Target, got him his own not-Pod and holder.

Run 3:

  • Jay and I ran together for the first time and I realized he’s almost a foot taller than me. Very hard to keep up but I tried to go faster than I was comfortable to stay with him.
  • He complained I was too slow.

Week 2:

  • Jay was attacked by the bird, almost pulling a hamstring.
  • I laughed at him, then got attacked again on my run. (note to self: avoid running near tennis courts).

Week 2 ½:

Week 3:

  • Jay finally started getting into the groove and found a better place to run.
  • I figured out I had exercise induced asthma and needed an inhaler.

Week 4:

  • Jay is running longer and farther than the plan calls for. He finally got his own (black) stopwatch and is really enjoying running.
  • I repeated week 3. I’m slow, but still liking this. My second attempt at week 3 is much more successful than the first.
  • I also ran near the tennis courts last night and waved my hands around the back of my head, so when the bird attacked he only hit my hand. Much better than sticking to my hair.

I am starting Week 4 tomorrow and Jay is taking a slight hiatus after an ankle injury on Saturday. Overall, we are on our way to a 5k and although I don’t think we can be called “runners” yet we are improving each day.

Eleven more days till the big reveal!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's a jungle out there!

This weekend Jay and I headed to Indiana with the girls. Addi was SO excited to go see Grandma that she packed on Thursday night. Of course, she packed eight pacis, two blankets and her winter coat, but it was the motivation that counted to me.

On Saturday morning Jay headed to Purdue for a golf outing with college friends and us girls (and Grandma) went to the Indianapolis Zoo. We met our friends Mandee and Jack and had a great time!

We pretty much let Addi set our course for the day. And her course was set entirely on zebras and elephants. Lucky for us she got over her desire to see pterodactyls. Because, try as we might, we couldn't find any 65 million year old birds flying around Indy.

Addi was also really excited to see the elephants get their bath. It was pretty crowded so Sam and Jack couldn't really see what was going on.

After lunch we saw a few more animals and then the crabby kids were ready to head home.
Saturday night I had dinner with some friends I've known since Kindergarten, and Sunday we picked Jay up and headed home. A fairly relaxing weekend with family and friends... You can't beat that!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

She makes me do it

I don't know if it's typical for a three year old, but Addi loves to have her picture taken. So she will yell for me when she needs help, then insists a grab the camera and take her picture.

I promise, I do buy her clothes. Seriously.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Coloring outside the lines

In an attempt to keep the kids occupied on a rainy Saturday afternoon, we got to work making a Father's Day gift for Jay. While we were picking out a picture frame to paint, Addi spotted cute little birdhouses and asked to paint one of those, too. And since I hadn't found anything to get my dad for Fathers Day, I quickly agreed.

As soon as Sam was napping I set up a paint area and Addi got right to work. And for once, her not wearing clothes was perfectly acceptable. I very much approved of her using all of her creative juices on this one little birdhouse - as apposed to my walls. She has a knack for "artistically enhancing" many things in my house without my approval.

Addi had a great time painting - at least until she got yellow paint in her eye. We finished up quickly after that. I painted Sam's house and when she woke up she helped by stamping her feet on the roof.

Addi's creation - Side 1
Side 2:

Sam's house:

Happy Father's Day, Jay, and all the other dads out there!

Christmas already?

While eating breakfast this morning, Addi checked out the package and exclaimed, "Look Mommy, it's Santa!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New words

While rushing Addi through her school today (that girl is SLOW!) I was attempting to motivate her to walk faster. So I said, in a spirited kind of way, "Red Room, Ho!" and expected her to march right there.

Instead, she stopped the lady walking towards us and said, "Mommy says I'm a ho!"


Monday, June 15, 2009

Wife of the year

Last weekend, while Jay very kindly helped our friends install their irrigation system and the girls took naps, I cut our grass. I knew Jay would be tired after working at our friends all day and wanted him to have a nice surprise when he came home. A nice, sweet gesture, for my nice, sweet hubby.

[say it with me: awwwwwwwwwwwwww]

About halfway through, the mower ran out of gas, so I went to fill it up. And came across a slight conundrum. Two gas tanks. One small, one large. One marked "Gasoline" and one marked "Kerosene." Hmmm. I gave it some thought and went to use the larger kerosene one (knowing that we don't use kerosene for anything) but stopped mid-pour. What if I was wrong?

Not wanting to call Jay and ask (and ruin the surprise) I grabbed my neighbor and asked for a second opinion. After sniffing both containers, he disagreed with my initial diagnosis and went for the smaller can. I filled 'er up and went on my merry way.

Once Jay got home he was very excited to see that he had an hour less of yard work to do. I said, "Oh yeah, I even filled it up with gas," and told him what happened. His face immediately told me what I didn't want to hear.... that I used the wrong one. I filled the lawn mower up with oil mixed gas. After convincing him that I successfully cut half the yard with no black smoke pouring out of the thing, he calmed down and said it was probably fine.

Fast forward to yesterday. Jay went to fire the mower up... and nothing happened. Apparently when oil gas sits in a mower for a week, it creates a build up. Who knew. So Jay got to work and took the entire mower apart, putting each section of the machine in piles on a makeshift table in the garage, and I kept the kids busy. I checked on him a few times but since he's never taken a mower apart like this, he was concentrating pretty hard.

I checked on him again and he had me grab a frozen pork loin out of the freezer to thaw for dinner. While chatting, I set the food on his makeshift table. Which promptly tipped over. Sending lawn mower parts and screws flying into the air and all over the garage.

I'm pretty sure I snagged that wife of the year award RIGHT up. Go me.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cute, but dangerous

Last week was our first real experience with a bully. Well, Addi claims on most nights that she "had a bad day at school" because "someone tried to push/hit/yell at her" but sometimes, Addi just flat out makes stuff up. However, our bully was very real and sported a nasty set of bicuspids.

In jest, I said I would have to teach Sam some self-defense moves. Maybe a half Nelson? Or a quick jab to the throat? After a few minutes of daydreaming of the WWF, I quickly put aside my evil plan for the good of the toddler set. Well, that and I'm not insane.

Then came Sunday and time for errand running. As I was packing up the diaper bag I heard, "OW Sami! Ow! Mommy, help!" and within seconds, Addi came running in.

With a full on bloody nose.

Turns out Sam didn't need those lessons after all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

300 and counting

For my 300th blog entry I tried to come up with something unique, something witty, something that would really hit home to my many three readers about how much I love being a parent, a wife, and a blogger. I love that having this blog is giving me a chance to document my kids lives and hopefully someday they will enjoy looking back at these as much as I do. And honestly, I have on more than one occasion looked through my past blogs to see when the kids hit various milestones. So the blog has a practical application for me too!

But, as I said, I have been stumped on this. I feel that lately, my kids have been doing less and less random silly stuff and acting more like, well, regular kids. And really, if I can't put a humorous spin on a story, then is it really worth telling?

Then, Addi reminded me last night that a picture is worth a thousand words. Especially pictures of her showing her sister the fine art of running around the backyard. Pants-less, of course.

Here's to 300 more (hopefully) pants-filled blogs!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The countdown is on...

Over the last few months, Jay and I have been working on becoming healthier. There are hundreds of great reasons for this focus, but the simple explanation is that we were tired of being fat. It’s not a new story, it’s not a unique story, it’s not even an interesting story, but for us and many others, it’s our story. So, at the first of the year we both committed to making becoming healthier, and hopefully skinnier, a priority.

Over the last 6+ months, we bought an elliptical trainer and started on a low fat diet. It’s amazing how many things you can make with turkey, and surprising how tasty some can be. My desk at work is very often called a fruit market for the variety here each day, and Jay even bought whole wheat pasta instead of our regular white grain variety. And once Jay got a handle on how to make our favorite dishes more calorie friendly, it became a little less of a chore and more of a way of life.

Don’t get me wrong. This quest SUCKS a lot of the time. Temptation is at every corner and mocks us – mainly in the form of big fat cheeseburgers and ice cream. With my whole gall-bladder issue, we both fell of the wagon a bit (and that cheeseburger tasted like HEAVEN I tell you!) but we are once again committed to continuing our valiant effort.

Take a minute to scroll down to the very bottom of my blog. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you.

OK, did you see that ticker? Are you itching to know what the big reveal is? Can you guess??? Oh my goodness, the suspense is just driving you NUTS isn’t it!?

Darn, you got it. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting!

On July 10th, Jay and I will reveal our total weight loss numbers as well as a final picture! This date is significant in that it’s six months from when our “change” started, and it’s also the weekend before we head on vacation (where we will undoubtedly eat ice cream and cheeseburgers to our tummy’s content.) And for easy math, it's a month from now.

Be sure to check back…. You won’t want to miss the new and improved look of THESE people.

Monday, June 8, 2009

One stormy night

As someone who’s lived in the Midwest my entire life, I’ve come to expect the unexpected, at least when it comes to the weather. And so far we’ve been lucky when it comes to severe weather – aside from a few terrifying minutes trapped in our basement during a few tornado watches and one road trip where we literally drove next to a tornado, we’ve had it pretty good.

And, lucky us, no one in our family seems to be that scared of storms. We recently watched Marley and Me and I said a silent “thank you” that our dog does not freak at thunder. At least if one of our kids was freaking, we could reason/bribe them into calming down. That’s the downside of pets… they never evolve enough to pour their own cereal or screen my calls for telemarketers.

Last week we had a few days of stormy weather. We sat down for dinner one night and CRASH….thunder. Addi said, “Oh my goodness, what was that?” and looked a tad freaked out. Jay said, “It was just God bowling up in heaven.” I expected several follow up questions (What kind of bowling shoes does he wear? Is Grandma bowling too? Where is heaven?) but instead, that answered seemed to appease her and dinner (and the thunder) continued.

A little later, there was a particularly loud round of thunder and Addi said, “Wow! God sure is burping loud!”

Turns out, she doesn’t know what bowling is. But God burping? Totally reasonable.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Biting off more than you can chew

It happens. You have kids, and they bite. They bite you. They bite each other. Addison went through it when she was younger - both biting and getting bit, and I completely expect Sam to go through the same stage.

That said, I felt really bad for Sam on Wednesday. I picked her up from school and her teacher pulled me aside to have me sign an accident report. Uh oh. Turns out, Sam got bit by another kid. Cried, got ice, and moved on. As you can see from the picture below, the instigator has several teeth and a strong jaw.

Not wanting to be an over-reacting parent, I told the teacher I understood that it happens, and went home.

Then I picked up Sam yesterday and saw this:

Bite number two. And since the bites are about 6 inches apart, I used my forensic skills (a la CSI) and compared the teeth marks to identify the culprit. Yes. Same kid, but deeper marks this time.

I talked to Sam's teacher this morning and she said so far, Sam is the only victim. They think that the baby chose Sam because she is so quiet (obviously that came from my side of the family). The theory is if the biter bit anyone else, they would hit her back, so she chooses Sam to try out her vampire skills.

Now they are keeping the kids apart and trying to figure out how to stop the madness. I, on the other hand, just looked up baby karate classes. Hey, she only has two teeth, and a girl's got to defend herself somehow.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Little Miss Bossy

I love to read. JUST finished Twilight last night after starting it less than 48 hours before. I seriously couldn't put the book down and am totally jones'n for the second book to hit my hot little hands. That moment will unfortunately be put off until we go on vacation in July, however, at the request of my sweet husband. He said that since I enjoy reading so very much that I would enjoy it THAT much more once I could focus entirely on my book while on vacation. He is so smart that I had to agree with him.

Actually, the conversation went more like more like this:

Jay: "Wow, this is why I don't read."
Me: "Huh? Why? Reading is awesome."
Jay: "Sure. As long as everyone else is OK being ignored for days on end while you stick your nose in that thing."
Me: "What? I don't ignore stuff."

[crickets chirped]

Addi: "Help! I'm stuck!"

[I sigh, put my book down, and see this:]

Me: "OK. I'll hold off on that second book for a bit."

Anyway, much to Jay's dismay and my delight, both girls love to read too. Sometimes, yes, it's a stalling mechanism to avoid bedtime, but other times they just really want to snuggle up and read.

The other day, Addi asked me to read this book, and I happily agreed.

She is my own personal Little Miss Bossy and I hoped there would be a great moral at the end of this book. At least, one that ended better than these books.

So, we read the book. Not to give the ending away but basically, a wizard puts a spell on LMB when she bosses too many people around. The spell puts bossy boots on her feet and won't allow her to be bossy anymore.

When we got to this page, Addi yelled, "Mommy! She is missing part of her face!" I explained that LMB actually was looking down so you couldn't see her face. And moved on.

At the end of the book, I looked at Addi and asked her if she learned anything from the book.

[blank stare]

Me: "Well, what happened to Little Miss Bossy when she kept bossing people around? What did the wizard do to her?"

A look of recognition, then horror came across her face.


I'm starting to think that Usborne had the right idea with the python.

Stephanie Ralph: Unplugged

I love my BlackBerry. L.O.V.E. love it. And yes, I regularly think I am headed towards a 12-step-program for my addiction. And because my phone has the Internet, I can even look up available programs in my area! Have I said how much I love this thing?

So, imagine my tears when I arrived at work yesterday with only half a battery, went to plug it in, and….. nothing happened. No little lightening bolt telling me it was charging. I had issues charging it at home, hence the ½ charged battery, but just assumed it was operator error. Nope. A quick trip to my car charger confirmed my fears… My phone’s USB port was bad. You know, the part of the BB that is pretty much it's brain stem and allows me to charge it, update it, etc. Uh oh.

So, I called my friendly cell phone provider and told them the issues I was having. They confirmed that yes, I probably had a bad USB port and since this is a fairly common issue and my phone is still under warranty, they’d just put aside a new BlackBerry for me to pick up at my convenience. So I headed to the store after work to pick up my new crackberry BlackBerry.

After an hour in the store (I HIGHLY recommend backing up your contacts! Do it NOW! I mean it!) I happily climbed in my car. Since they just transferred my old battery to my new phone, it really needed some juice. I plugged it into my car charger and…. Wait. Nothing is happening? You can’t tell me my NEW phone is defunct too, are you?

No. It was telling me that my car charger was not plugged in. You know, the one I used to confirm the death of my best friend. Interesting.

After I arrived home, I told Jay what happened. He said, “Oh, your charger here at home is broken. I tried to use it yesterday and it wouldn’t work.” And after a quick glance, I saw that the home charger was ALSO not plugged in. More interesting.

This morning I arrived at work and walked what I felt was my own personal Green Mile. Hanging my head in shame I looked under my desk and saw this:

Yes. That charger was also not plugged in.

So, turns out my phone wasn’t exactly broken after all. My sense of my own intelligence? That’s a different story.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tea for Two

Can I just say how much I love this stage in the parenting game? One of my absolute favorite things to do is to leave Addi and Sam alone for a few minutes and secretly watch them play from afar. Sam ADORES Addi and Addi loves her right back. And most of the time nowadays they play well side-by-side in our playroom, giving Mommy time to clean/do dishes/drink heavily/insert action here.

One of the perks of Sam being so mobile is that she can finally "play" with Addi in a way that Addi likes. Last week, Addi wanted to have a tea party and Sam happily joined her.

First, Sam climbed up onto her appointed seat, all by herself.

Then, she got to work balancing her doughnut on her tea cup. She was very intent on this.

Voila! She did it and was extremely proud of her accomplishment.

Then, Addi realized I'd spent a whopping three minutes paying attention to just Sam and expressed her displeasure with me.

Who doesn't love a good tea party?

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