Friday, September 20, 2013

Dear Duck Part I

So, one of my dearest friends back in Salt Lake wrote me an email asking me to give more detail about my life here in Philly.  Honestly, at this point in our adventure, I feel like I could write about three books about all we've done, seen, learned, and experienced.  Instead, I've condensed it into three blog posts as well as I can.  For your reading pleasure -

Dear Duck,

Life here in Philly can be described in one word: busy.  Okay, make that two.  Exhausting.  Both of these words which currently describe our life can be traced back to one source: FOMO.  For those living the Wharton (that's the school Dave is attending) life, that word is familiar.  For those who may not know the lingo, it means FEAR OF MISSING OUT.  We all live in a constant state of terror that we're not going see and do and eat and smell and enjoy everything there is to do in this awesome city.  So we try to DO IT ALL.  No, DIA is not part of the lingo here, I just made it up.

Here's my typical day:

The girls come into our room at about 6:15 am (sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later).  The first word I hear is "boats" meaning that Emma wants Honey Bunches of Oats. I feed the little ones, try and do a little laundry and unload the dishwasher and then see Dave off to school at about 8:30 am.  Then I try and shower, get ready, get the girls ready, and pack snacks so we can go off to some adventure -

Like go to the aquarium -

Or the Please Touch Museum
Yes, you read that right.  The PLEASE TOUCH Museum.  Best.  Museum.  Ever.

(Yes, that is a hamster wheel.  I've decided I'm getting my girls one for Christmas.  They took the BEST naps that day.)

Or to the Zoo

It's a great zoo, and it was America's first zoo!  Pretty neat, huh?

Or to Sister Cities Park 

 It has streams, a small shallow pool, and a splash pad.  Great way to spend the morning.

After our morning activity we head home, and I try to keep my girls from falling asleep before we get there.  Sometimes I feed them sugar, sometimes I poke them, and sometimes I yell things from the front of the van like, "Emma!  Don't go to sleep!"

Once I've managed to keep them awake up to that point,  I then wrestle the little rascals for about an hour trying to get them to take a nap.  They do everything they can not to nap and I do everything I can to force them.  Needless to say, it's a happy hour.

While they are going to sleep I eat a lot of chocolate.  I know I will need it to help me get through the rest of the day.  For the next 2 hours, we all pass out.  Me included.  Right now I cannot survive the day without my nap.

After naps I know I'll be on my own for bedtime again, so I do anything I can to wear my girls out again.  Usually the opposite happens and they just wear me out.

We wrestle in the green space downstairs

Poor Becca, no wonder she had back problems!  

I let them hang out with their boyfriends
They each have two or three.  There are only boys around here!  When we were going to hang out with Kate's 4-yr-old buddy, Asher, the other day she kept saying, "He is going to love my hair like this."  The girls cracks me up.

On a good day, I've made dinner and we head home to eat.  On most nights we have chicken nuggets or brave eating out - 

Can you see why we picked this place???

There is a little down time here and there, where I just get to hang with my cute little girls.  Did I mention they're cute?

 After diaper changes, potty time, jammies, and teeth-brushing (also known as teeth wrestling) we read books together.  This includes me being climbed on, my earrings being pulled, and being asked 1001 questions about what is happening in the picture, and why is the princess sad, and what the dog's name is, all before I even have a chance to read the first word on the page.  But I love it.  

Stay tuned to find out what happens after the girls go to bed . . .



Monday, August 26, 2013

The Best, Worst, and Weirdest of Philly

Hey everyone!  Nice to see you again.  I know I've taken a little break.   Or maybe an extended vacation.  A sabbatical even.  But I'm back.

We've been in Philly now for just over a month and I thought it was time that I documented what I've learned.  Here goes!

Let's start here . . . 

The Weirdest Things About Philly:

1 - There are more dogs than children.  By a hundred kajillion.  No joke folks, lots of people have two ore three dogs and no one bats an eye, but I get weird looks walking around with my two kids.

So of course, when we walked to dinner with some friends, I had to document something that has probably never happened here before: 3 dads walking with 3 double strollers.  I'm surprised this pic hasn't been on the cover of one of the tabloids here in Philly.

2 - The outlets are all upside down.  Yeah, take a closer look.  I've even asked a bunch of other people living in different areas of the city.  All of them are upside down. 

3 - People ask me if I'm the nanny.  Everyone is shocked to find out I'm the mom.  I go to the park and hang out with all of the other nannies.  I know it's crazy, but where I'm from you assume the adult with the kids is the parent :)

  Maybe I need to look into this whole nanny thing . . .

And then there are these:

My Least Favorite Things About Philly

1 - Everything convenient is So.  Far.  Away.  Costco should never be more than 7 minutes from where you live.  The following image is extremely graphic, so shield your eyes if necessary.  This estimate is if there is no traffic whatsoever.

2 - There are about 300 freeways and highways and all sorts of other ways here.  Usually I have to switch on and off about 4-5 of them to get anywhere.  I miss Utah and I-15.  Singular.  One freeway.

3 - Discrimination against strollers.  Me and a friend walked to Anthropologie the other day.  Here is what we found:

Yep, stairs.  The nemesis of two moms with two strollers with two kids each.  Sad, sad day.

4 - You have to pay in order to get people to hang out with you.  Not really, but sort of.  You have to pay to park to go see them and that's pretty much the same thing.

And finally, TA-DA!!!

My Favorite Things About Philly

1 - Moss grows on the sidewalk.  That's how humid it is here.  To be clear - the humidity is not my favorite thing, just the moss on the sidewalk.  Isn't that cool?

2 - They use words like TAVERN.  Love it.  I feel like I'm living in the 1700s or something.  Not that I even go to taverns, but doesn't it just sound so much better than "bar"?  I mean, really!  Also, the street names are really cool.  Like Brandywine Street, and North York Drive.  You almost have to say them with a British accent.

3 - I'm friends with Ben.  Yep, Benjamin Franklin.  Or I would have been if I'd been born around 200 years earlier.  We're like this:

4 - I love the row houses!!!  They just have this wonderful big-city-yet-still-cozy feel.  Gorgeous, right?

5 - It's the City of Brotherly Love!  And for the most part, I'm feelin' the love.  We've made great friends, people are helpful, and I feel like Philadelphia has welcomed me with open arms.  I couldn't be happier.

I hope to be back before another year and a half goes by.  That's my goal at least!  Peace out - from the City of Brotherly Love!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Counting to Ten

I'm going to change your life today.  Yep, I am.  Now people out there will tell you all sorts of things about what you need to know to be a good parent - techniques for feeding your child, getting your child on a good schedule, putting your child to sleep, disciplining your child, etc.  Compared to what I'm going to teach you, it's nothing.  Let me tell you what will actually be the most useful thing to you as a parent: counting to 10.  Now, now, don't get overwhelmed just yet.  I know it sounds daunting, but it's a skill that can be mastered by most, if not all of you.  And let me explain the many reasons it just might save your sanity.

#1 - JUST TEN THINGS.  Let me explain.  When you're a parent, you're going to be overwhelmed.  There's no use trying to avoid it because you're just going to be.  Some days will be worse than others.  If you have a two-year-old there might be many overwhelming days in a row.  Especially if they like to change outfits 10 times a day.  And throw tantrums if you don't let them.  I could go on.  But most days you will just be trying to survive - and if the kids are alive at the end of the day you're feeling really good about yourself.  On those days, your house will probably be a disaster.  And on those days, it will feel like nothing you do will make any difference. 

So here's what you do: you say to yourself, "Self, I can put away 10 things.  Just 10.  Easy peasy."  And you do it.  And then you give yourself a break.  Maybe even a 10 minute one (if you can call chasing down your two-year-old who is attacking the couches with her peanut-butter covered hands a break).  And then you do ten more.  And break. And again. Seriously, I can't tell you how many days I've survived with this tactic.  Somehow, when you break things up into 10s, they are so much more manageable.  And, on days that are a little less overwhelming, I sometimes work for 10 minutes at a time.  I know, I know, I'm impressive.  Just take it slow.

#2 - COUNTING BOOKS.  I bet you've never even thought of this, but, as a parent, there will come a day when you'll be reading your child some sort of counting book.  Whether it's Thumper Counts to Ten or My Little Counting Book, at some point that big moment is going to arrive.  And let's be honest, it's going to be awkward if you don't know how to count to 10. 

#3 - COUNTING TO TEN.  Not.  Remember that funny little addage, "Before you react, count to ten."  Um, yeah right.  When your blood is boiling because your child just did something very naughty, you feel lucky if you can even remember your own name, let alone stop and remember to count to ten.  (Isn't it funny how you always remember their name though, yelling it out full blast, middle name included?)  But I can imagine that if you could remember, counting to ten would be very useful in this situation as well.

#4 - START BY COUNTING TO THREE.  Here's the good news: if you haven't mastered counting to ten yet, you will not be losing sleep at night.  Parenting can basically cure the strongest cases of insomnia.  So don't worry about counting lots of sheep - you'll probably only make it to 3 before you're conked out.

#5 - COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS.  When life seems most overwhelming, don't forget to count your blessings.  You have to be a real master at counting if you want to attempt this one.  Because chances are, you'll be counting a lot higher than ten.  Here are two of mine:

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Roller Coaster of Pregnancy

Yes, I think that is the best description of pregnancy.  A roller coaster.  It could also be summed up in the words to this familiar song . . . "you're hot then you're cold, you're yes then you're no, you're in then you're out, you're up then you're down."

So let me tell you about the recent ups and downs on my pregnancy roller coaster adventure.

Down: I've been really sad recently thinking about how much less time I'm going to be able to spend with Kate.  Don't get me wrong - I'll still be at home with her all day, but it won't be just me and her, hanging out, playing, laughing, napping, etc.  I've become so sentimental about this that recently I let her watch a little extra tv, just so I get some time to hold and cuddle her.  Chalk it up to pregnancy hormones overemphasizing the negative.

Up: Every time I see a little baby I get SOOOOOO excited.  A baby that will actually hold still, that won't try and kick you and run away when you change their diaper, and that will take naps on your chest.  Aaah.  Can't wait.

Down: How horrible I feel 90% of the time.  I feel like I'll never have energy again, never go a day without heartburn, never be able to brush my teeth without my gums bleeding, and never be able to sleep through the night without having to get up and go to the bathroom six times.  This pregnancy has been WAY harder on my body than the first one.

Up: I can't wait to see Kate as a big sister!  I know that she is going to be so awesome, and I can't wait to see her in action - she really is so sweet, and can already say, "Emma" perfectly.  Can't wait for two little girls!  Bring on the tea parties!

Down: Will this baby ever come????  I know that technically it's 4 weeks until my due date, but hey, I'm getting impatient here.  I feel like I'll be fat . . . forever, and ever . . . no hallelujah, no halleljuah!  Kate was born two weeks early, so I already feel that if this baby comes a day after October 10, I'm getting the short end of the stick.  Which isn't good, because what are the chances of me getting lucky two times in a row?  Not good.

Up: Labor - on the one hand I think it's going to be awesome and exciting going au naturale - my sister-in-law described it as a real "high."

Down: Labor - what was I thinking?  All that pain and no epidural?  Ugggh.  I hurt already.  My sister-in-law is certifiably insane.

Up: Well, at least I'll be getting some free meals out of this thing.

You know how it is.  The roller coaster of pregnancy.  There must be something to it, because where my (semi) flat stomach once was, now resides a large bump, resembling the up and down of a roller coaster . . .

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Great Northwest

It's now or never.  This post, I mean.  I know if I don't write about our trip up to the Northwest right now, it'll never happen.  Something else will come up -  my need to go get another handful of peanut butter m&ms, a trip to the bathroom (for the umpteenth time today), or the tired bus is likely to hit at any moment.  So here goes.

Our first stop was Seattle, Washington, to visit several of Dave's aunts who live in a closeby town called Enumclaw.  They couldn't have been more accomodating - and it was great seeing both Karyn and Kamele and their families.

Our first real day we took a trip to the horse races, a first for all of us.  Dave loved it because he picked the winners three out of the five times . . . too bad we don't gamble, we could have struck it big!  (Sorry no pictures, I was too busy chasing after Kate).

The next day Karyn and Chris showed us around Seattle.  Our first stop was Pike Place Market - one of my favorites! 

We had freshly made donuts, saw them throwing fish, and looked upon row after row of fresh and delicious looking produce  -

We bought some fresh peaches which we made into peach pie later that night!  Scrumptious!

We saw the original Starbucks -

In Seattle, people are crazy about their coffee.  There are about two Starbucks per street.

We also just walked up and down the streets and enjoyed all the shops, here was one of my favorites -

I love their motto, if you look carefully at the bottom of the sign, it says, "Forgive me chocolate for I have sinned.  I have not yet had my daily confection."  Pretty sure that's one sin I've never committed.

After a lunch of gyros and some delicious mini cheesecakes, we made our way to the city center where we got a lovely view of the fountain and Space Needle.

It was pretty windy, but Kate had a great time -

The next day we headed to the zoo.  For some reason, I failed to take any pictures.  But my favorite were the new baby leopard cubs.  There were two of them, and they were fast asleep.  We have this game with Kate where we pretend to be asleep and she says, "Boo!" and wakes us up.  She just couldn't understand why the baby leopards wouldn't wake up when she pounded on the glass and said, "Boo!"

That night we got to see a Mariners game.  The field was amazing.  Too bad they lost horribly to the Angels.

We still managed to have a great time.

The next day, we headed down to Portland to spend some time with Lisa and Matt, my sister and brother-in-law.

We spent one day at the Portland Children's Museum and Kate loved it.

Along with many other things, she got to do construction,

go grocery shopping,

spend some time at the vet's office,

and drive a bus (Daddy is the passenger in the back - he fell asleep).

We also visited the famous Portland Rose Garden.

The flowers were AMAZING -

Kate enjoyed them too.

Since Matt and Lisa had to work during the day, we got babysitters so we could go out at night.  They showed us the best places to eat in Portland - including Little Big Burger, Le Happy (a crepe place), and Torro Bravo (our favorite - divine Spanish food).

On Saturday, we all took a trip to Mt. Saint Helens.

I'd been there before, but it's still pretty amazing.  Here is the picture before Mt. Saint Helens erupted in 1980.

See what I mean?  Pretty big difference.

Looking at this picture makes ME want to erupt.  Except hopefully I'd look better than Mt. Saint Helen's in an after picture.

After all that, we were exhausted.  Luckily, the flight home wasn't too crowded, so Kate could do this -

And so did Dave and I, just as soon as we walked in our front door.

Thank you family, for the wonderful time!