Thursday, May 28, 2009

More reasons we enjoy our backyard

A new table, chairs, and umbrella to enjoy meals that Rick will cook on the grill.

A little picnic table for the kids to use- which they LOVE!

And a great view of some of "Mommy's planes" flying overhead. We live right in the landing pattern for planes landing to the west into PDX. The plane is actually way lower than it appears in the photo and I'm having fun pointing them out to the kids!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"I love my hot chocolate!"

Riley got her very first Starbucks hot chocolate this morning as her "treat" for filling her most recent chart and for staying in her room until the light turned green on her clock. Crazy enough, it was Rick's idea for the Starbucks and not mine, the resident Starbucks addict! We started without the bib, but with the first drink she took, half of it came back out again. I think the fact that it was warm threw her off a little...

Our big girl!

She was very concerned about Tyson getting some too and even offered to share her chart with Tyson next time so he could get a treat- so sweet! We had some leftover little Starbucks cups from my graduation party last May, so Tyson got his "coffee" this morning, too. Milk apparently tastes a little better when in a special Starbucks cup!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Goin' fishin'...

...and other cute photos of Cooper!

I got this hat for Cooper to help protect him from all the sunshine he'll be getting while hanging out in the backyard all summer. Doesn't he look like he's ready to go fishing?

This is how we found Cooper after waking up in the morning yesterday... I suppose I forgot to re-tie the bumper all the way around after washing the sheets! :)

And here is our little guy, getting all ready to crawl. Right before this photo, he actually moved an arm and a leg forward!

Here is a great shot of his adorable double chin! :)

And giving a huge grin to Daddy!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Daddy's socks

This was Riley having some fun helping Daddy fold the laundry on Saturday morning, while I was out of town. Apparently, she thought it was pretty funny to put on Daddy's big socks!

I have a few other posts I'm hoping to write, but I got sick this weekend and also have a presentation, outline, and annotated bibliography to prepare for class on Tuesday, so blogging will take a back burner for now. Hope this cute photo can tide you over for a few days!

I also hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Clever solution

Rick has a great problem-solving mind. When we got the new playroom set-up, the baskets had neat little chalkboard labels to indicate what is stored inside. Great idea... except that every time the kids pulled one down to play with it, the chalk would wipe away.

Exhibit A:

So, Rick came up with a very clever solution... and all it took was ordering some larger tape for our label maker.

Exhibit B:

Doesn't the whole thing just look crisp and organized?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Early morning Riley

Like clockwork, Riley has been getting up at around 5:50am- WAY too early! So, for Mother's Day, Rick got a great clock (suggested by MSB here) to help teach Riley when it's alright for her to get up each morning. So far she understands that she's not suppose to come out until the clock turns green, but that doesn't mean she always waits... we're working on it! If the clock idea doesn't work, we may have to consider dark-out shades until the fall and late sunrises return! :)

These are a couple of cute moments I captured with my cell phone (the closest camera available) in our early morning adventures of making Cooper's bottle and preparing breakfast.

This is the stink-eye look I got when I tried to explain that she couldn't have Life cereal for breakfast because we didn't have any milk... makes me a little nervous for the teenage years when we have to say "no" to bigger things than milk and Life cereal!

And here she is working on her Rally Cap look with my jogging visor!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Swim lessons poem

The kids have really been enjoying swim lessons, especially Riley! There is a poem the kids recite (or sort of repeat after the teacher since the other kids are 2 and under) at the end of each lesson, but Riley has it memorized now. In case you can't understand all of it from the video, it goes like this:

Lock the gate and fence the pool.
Learn to swim, that's the rule!
Never dive or swim alone.
And swim out of the diving zone!

She says "cool" for pool (she also says "cool-up" for pull-up) and sounds like a little southern belle with her "divin'" rather than diving... I love it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday at the zoo

At 9:00am yesterday, Rick suggested we take advantage of the wonderful weather and visit the zoo before naptime... The timing was perfect, we were out the door by 9:30am and we made it home by 1:15pm, just in time to put the kids down for a nap and watch last week's episode of 24 while they slept. There are so many areas of the zoo under construction right now, which is both good and bad. Not so great for visiting now, because there aren't as many animals out and some of the walking paths are closed. Great, because it means they are making improvements and the zoo will be better than ever when it's all complete!

Here we are enjoying the shade a little PB & J and crackers for lunch. We even got an impromptu bird show on the big lawn, because they are training for a new show starting Memorial Day weekend.

Tyson looks so serious... maybe because he was upset about having to ride in the stroller!?

Our always-happy baby!

Watching the birds.

Daddy's girl!

We are all so happy to have Rick home from Outdoor School, it was a long week without him around the house!

Cheap entertainment

What do you do with the really big box the new patio furniture came in? Why, you cut a door in the side and make it a playhouse for the kids, of course!

The kids have really been enjoying the beautiful weather!

Even Cooper! :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Growing boy!

The mystery behind why Cooper is outgrowing his 9 month clothes and developing a bit of a double chin has been solved... the kid is HUGE for his age! And by huge, I mean long... almost off the charts long. He had his 6 month well-baby check-up this morning and all is well with the littlest member of the Thames family. He's growing like a weed, getting close to popping in a couple of bottom teeth (which also explains the out-of-control drooling), and he's even beginning to get up on all fours and rock back and forth... say it isn't so!

Here are some stats...

Length: 28.4" or 2' 4.4" (94th percentile)
Weight: 18lbs 9oz (62th percentile weight-for-age, 20th percentile weight-for-length)
Head: 17.76" (80th percentile)

Why does it seem like Cooper is growing exponentially faster than Riley and Tyson did at this age? Our baby is growing up so quickly!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Outdoor School

As I mentioned in my Mother's Day post, Rick left on Sunday afternoon with his 6th graders for a week of Outdoor School. Before meeting Rick, I was unfamiliar with what Outdoor School (ODS) was, we didn't have it in Washington growing up. Students get an opportunity to learn about four science resources: water, soil, plants, and animals, in their natural setting. They stay in cabins, learn table etiquette at meals, have campfires and skits at night, and also learn about how to conserve the natural resources we have all around us. They focus on one of the resources each day, Monday through Thursday, and then return to the "real world" on Friday. It is a program only offered for sixth grade students, so all sixth grade teachers accompany their students for the week (either in the fall or spring) and all sixth graders in Multnomah County get a chance to go. I think it is offered in other counties in Oregon as well, but I am only familiar with this program. The program is run by a permanent staff at each camp and then a group of high school student leaders teach the resources. It can be a bit of a sacrifice for the teachers to leave their families for five nights, but most students call Outdoor School one of the best experiences of their education process and end up coming back as high school leaders, so I think it's worth it! I have to say, the week Rick is gone seems longer and longer the more kids we add to our family! :)

It also gets a little more difficult to go and visit him while he's away, especially when it's cold and rainy. It's only about 45 minutes from our house, but it's hard to justify taking the kids out in the bad weather when it's only for a couple of hours... however, we made the trek today and the kids and I got a chance to eat lunch with Rick. The rain and wind was just starting as we pulled away from the camp, so we timed it pretty well. Just like the students, the teachers stay in a cabin- usually all 4 of them in the same one and sometimes two of the teachers (usually strangers) have to share a room. (At least at the camp Rick usually attends) So, this year Rick decided to bring our pop-up trailer to sleep in, giving the other three teacher their own rooms and him a quiet, private place to spend the week. He was able to get water and power hook-up, so he's enjoying it!

The kids and I are really looking forward to having Rick home on Friday and it was a nice visit today to break up the week a little bit. All of leaders and teachers have Outdoor School names (usually related to nature in some way) and Rick's ODS name is "Paw" because in his first years of teaching he had a classroom community called Thamestown, with the tiger as the mascot... tigers have paws... an ODS name was born. They wear their names around their necks on flat pieces of wood and all students also wear them all week with their real names printed on them. Riley and Tyson got the full ODS experience today, receiving their very own name "tags"...

Both of these photos were taken in our trailer, just as the rain was starting. I was hoping to get some great photos of the kids enjoying the campgrounds, running around, and getting dirty... but dirty and muddy are two very different things!

I love this last photo for a few reasons: 1) Riley was fighting against falling asleep extremely hard on the way to the camp, until I finally looked at her in the rear view mirror and told her it was alright to fall asleep. She actually said, "Oh, okay.", closed her eyes, and enjoyed a 10 minute power nap... waking up when we pulled into the camp with renewed energy 2) She was very concerned with not letting go of her Ariel purse, filled with all sorts of toys from the playroom, and she was successful at holding it the entire way and 3) She is holding Cooper's hand... something she does often in the backseat. I love how much she loves her brothers!

Doesn't she look peaceful?
(and yes, I took this photo while driving, using the timer function and some really awkward aiming... which is why my hair and seat are in it)

Mother of the Year

My step-mom, Gayle, sent me this for Mother's Day... it cracked me up! :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

Yesterday was a good day. Busy, but good! It started bright and early around 5:30am with a shower, a card from Cooper, and a great breakfast from Rick- chocolate chip pancakes! Then Riley and Tyson gave me their cards, with pictures of their gifts to me inside, Riley- new clock to teach her when she can get up each morning, Tyson- a time-out timer. Very appropriate gifts from both of them! :) Finally, a gift from my very thoughtful husband. A new shower head and these...

Yep, all the books from my reading wish list!! I can't wait to get started! :)
(except New Moon, which I had already bought and finished)

Then, I packed up the kids in the van and was on the road to the Tri-Cities by 7:30am. We made good time and the kids traveled very well, thanks to Bolt and Mulan on the van's DVD player. Rick unfortunately had to stay behind in Oregon, because he had to be at the school that afternoon to leave for Outdoor School with his sixth grade students (more on that later this week). Waiting at my mom's, was a yummy brunch and a wonderful visit with my mom, step-dad, sister, niece, brother, and my aunt, uncle, and cousin, who I had not seen in 3 1/2 years!!! Way too long! We also stopped by my dad and step-mom's house for dinner and a quick visit, before getting back on the road towards home at 7:15pm. It was a long day, 6 1/2 hours of driving, and there were serious no-nap meltdowns from the kids, but all so worth it to see all my family for such a special day!

While I was at my mom's visiting with everyone, Rick called to have me run out to the van and look for a pair of his gloves he thought might be in the "secret" storage under the floor... 1. I was visiting and 2. I didn't understand what good it would do if they were there, it was too late for him to take them along to Outdoor School... so, I was a bit annoyed when I had to put down the phone and look for them... then, I found a box and inside were these...

A hidden Mother's Day gift to help with my marathon training...
Followed by an apology from me for being a little annoyed with him and his wild gloves chase!

My mom also gave me this clever thing...
It's to hang your purse on the table at restaurants, etc., so it doesn't get dirty. Cute, right?

Remember the post I just did about how germ-filled hotel rooms are? Well, the bottoms of purses and diaper bags are right up there on the list after all the floors we put them down on and then place them on our counters and tables. Great gift mom! :)

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rick's new toy

Last summer, a new backyard... this spring, a new grill to go in the new backyard!

This is our new Traeger Pellet Grill!!

It takes pellets, rather than gas or charcoal and apparently very user friendly. I'm excited to see all of the great food Rick will be able to whip up on it. He broke it in the other day and made some very tasty cheeseburgers!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Princess stickers

Riley went through a little bit of regression in her bathroom habits a few months ago and we were looking for an incentive program in order to get her back on track. I found these little charts and princess stickers at the dollar store and I'm amazed at how successful it has been! Each time she lets us know she has to go potty, goes all on her own, and washes her hands, she gets one sticker. We're also working on getting her to get dressed on her own and go bed without a fight or getting up, so she gets a sticker for those things as well. There are 25 squares on the chart and when it's full, she gets a treat- so far, a Hershey's mini leftover from Easter. It takes her about a week to fill one sheet, but she loves the idea of picking out the sticker herself and sticking it on the square. She gets a "bigger" sticker when she gets all tucked into bed to put on her shirt or jammies.

We are thinking of making a "Prize Box", filled with other things besides candy, that she'll be able to pick from when the chart fills up and get Tyson in on the action somehow, too. He's showing small signs of being ready to potty train, so maybe that will be our angle with him!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Flight Attendant Chronicles: Part 2

Anatomy of a Food Bag

I couldn't imagine eating out for every meal while working my 3-day trips. Not only would it get expensive, I think I would gain a lot of weight... do you know what kind of food is available in airports and hotels?! Mostly junk. This is why I pack a food bag for my trips...

Here is a photo of my Coca Cola/Southwest Airlines food bag that I pack each week before my trips... not every hotel has a microwave and refrigerator in them, it's a rare treat. Usually we have to use ice to keep our food cold and the airplane coffee pot to warm food up.
Classy, I know!

Last week, my food bag consisted of the following items:
apples, string cheese, yogurt, hummus, a red bell pepper cut up, carrots, turkey slices, tuna in a pouch (easier to pack and no can opener needed, just add mayo from the packets and eat with crackers on the plane), instant oatmeal (add hot water from the plane), spaghetti leftovers (in a freezer bag to warm up in the coffee pot), hard boiled eggs (great protein), Crystal Light on the go packets (because I gave up soda and water gets boring), banana bread I made Wednesday afternoon, microwave popcorn (because I knew my hotel room would have a microwave that week), and my own salt for the eggs.

Here is the hummus, turkey slices, and red pepper I had one day for "lunch"... notice the garbage can I get to stand over while eating, not to mention the bathroom that is 2 feet to my right. Again, very classy!

My goal each trip is to eat out of my food bag for breakfast and lunch each day, then buy dinner at the hotel the two nights I'm away. So far, I've been successful and I feel like I'm eating pretty healthy. But, week after week, packing the same food bag can get BORING, so I need to figure out a few new things to pack this week. I'll be in San Jose on Friday night and there is an In N' Out Burger within walking distance of our hotel... guess where I'll be having dinner on Friday? My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

So, there you have it, my food bag. I have learned some great tricks over the years on how to eat healthy on the road or bring your own food. You can even warm up pizza wrapped in foil on a coffee pot warming plate!

Insider tip of the week:

Did you know that a hotel room remote control is one of the most disgusting, germ filled thing around? Well, now you do! Most people walk into their hotel room and before doing anything else (i.e. wash their hands), they grab the remote and turn on the television. Presto! Germs galore! Here is a little trick I've come to use over the years. If there is an ice bucket in the room with a plastic liner provided, take the plastic bag and wrap it around the remote, then press the buttons through the plastic. Genius, right? This only works if you don't plan on using the ice bucket for actual ice, because if you are... please, use the plastic liner to protect the ice! :) I also travel with extra Ziploc freezer bags and sometimes use those to put around the remote or wipe it down with a sanitizing wipe from the airplane.

I would also recommend pulling back the bedspread before sitting on the bed, those are pretty gross, too. And also, always wear either socks or flip flops when walking on the floors... I swear, between working on airplanes, staying in hotel rooms, and becoming a parent, I have become a complete germ-a-phobe!


Tyson has a thing about running around the playroom acting like a lion, tiger, dragon, dinosaur, giant... anything he believes says, "Roar!!". On Saturday afternoon, he had Cooper cracking up with his roaring... I love baby laughs!

I also thought this photo was sweet of the kids "reading" stories before bedtime last Wednesday. This was taken just before I left for Oakland... a great memory to take with me on the road!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

If I had the time...

...these are the books I would like to read:

New Moon
Breaking Dawn
(The final 3 books in the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer)
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Shack by William P. Young
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
And many more, I'm sure...

I love to read! Not books for school, but books for pleasure. I used to read about a book a week, until I started school and had 3 kids. A couple of weeks ago, I bought Twilight on my trip. It took me a couple of weeks to get into it, but once I did, I couldn't put it down! Now, all I want to do is read... but, I still have school books to read and lots of homework and a house to keep up and 3 kids to tend to and a husband to spend time with. So, maybe my new goal will be a book a month. When I'm on the road working, I hope to make it my time to read and get started on this dream list. Rick went to Borders tonight and picked up New Moon for me, so I'm looking forward to Wednesday night and my commute to Oakland!

Are there any must-read books on your lists? I'm always looking to expand mine and would love any suggestions!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Where does the time go?

Our little guy is 6 months old today!

I'm not at home today, so I don't have an up-to-the-minute photo, but you get the idea.
Cute, right? :)