Monday, June 21, 2010

My So-Called Life

The heat here is really getting to me so all we seem to be doing lately is sitting inside my nice, cool, air conditioned house. I feel bad for Brendan since he deserves to be out playing and having fun but I’m just not up to it most of the time.

IMG_6517So we end up doing this a lot- me sitting on our porch in the shade while Brendan occupies himself.

IMG_6535  It’s so hot that I don’t even care when Brendan squirts me with his little water gun. In fact, I encourage him to squirt me to help cool me down.

IMG_6545 I’ve been doing some baking as well since I’m always in the mood to eat and Brendan helps by licking the bowl clean. He loves to help me bake and cook.

IMG_6552 I’ve been feeling guilty for not doing fun things this summer so I made Chris take us to a cute park that a friend told me about that has a short train ride and an awesome carousel for kids. Here we are enjoying the train ride. Brendan was so excited and loved when the train would blow its whistle. We even got to go through a tunnel and Brendan thought that was pretty cool too.

IMG_6568 The carousel was a big hit too. Brendan had so much fun and every time they circled around, he would wave happily to me. This is the second time he’s been on a carousel (the first was in Spokane- remember that, Angela!) and I think he enjoyed it a bit more this time.

IMG_6577 Once again, the heat got to me so we didn’t last very long. Brendan got to ride the train and carousel and play on the playground, and then it was back in the car to head home. Brendan didn’t seem to upset though- he was pretty worn out from all the excitement.

And we recently found out that Brendan officially qualifies for speech therapy through a local program in our school district called Child Find. It’s taken 4 months to go through all the assessments and meetings but it is finally official- the only down side is that we have to wait until school starts in September again. I hate waiting but I’m looking forward to Brendan getting some awesome help. He’s doing much better and is constantly talking and using new words, but now his big problem is articulation. I probably only understand him about 70% of the time and I’m his mom. So until we start his therapy, we’re trying to get him to pronounce things correctly and break some of his bad habits. The big one we’re working on is “daddy”- Brendan has a tendency to favor the “w” sound and so he says “da-wee” even though he can say it correctly. It’s getting really old correcting him over and over and over, but hopefully it makes a difference. I just love that he’s talking so much more and we’re now able to have little conversations together. It’s so cool. He surprised me the other day by pretending to ride the broom like a horse and saying “Yee-haw! Ride ‘em cowboy!” I have no idea where he picked that up from! And today he was talking about telescopes- also have no idea where that come from. But I love it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Zach Attack!

This post is about the time when Valerie flew to Texas to be with some friends and Zach Parry Esquire flew to Virginia to hang out with Brendan and Myself.

First, a couple of things to know about Zach:

1. Yes, he is indeed the same Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell. As most of you know, he dyes his hair dark brown for his current role on Raising the Bar.

2. Zach is absolutely a lego maniac.

3. Zach still tours with his band "Zach Attack," which features Kelly on backing vocals, Lisa on bass, and Slater on drums.

Okay, the story begins with Valerie leaving for Texas. Now, I've never been a big fan of Texas; however, I did approve of Valerie going there to be with some friends because she deserved a little break and it had been many years since she'd seen these particular friends.

This was the first time Valerie would be away from Brendan overnight. I don't know about Valerie, but Brendan cried a little at first. Every day he would ask "Where's Mommy? and every day I would tell him "Your mommy was very naughty, so she got sent to Texas." Then we'd both cry.

Valerie left Thursday and Zach came into town on Friday morning. His flight left Vegas at 1:00AM, had a layover in Minnesota, then finally made its way down to D.C. around 11:00 AM. When Zach finally made his way out of the airport we embraced each other and Zach lifted me up off the ground. He doesn't know this, but I even lifted my leg up behind me when we hugged; just like in the movies.

And that was how we began our weekend of a real-life episode of My Two Dads.

Obviously, I was the cool dad with the beard and Zach was the boring, strict dad with the highly fashionable sweaters. And Brendan got to be the girl with the long, teased hair and hunky boyfriend played by Ricky Schroeder (Who, for your information, is now a Mormon).

Due to formatting issues I have to work around the photos I already uploaded into this post. It won't let me change the order of the pictures I put in, so this post will be in reverse order of how our weekend actually went. The coolest part of the picture above is, and I'm sure we can all agree, Zach's shirt. The shirt is a charcoal color. Slightly faded in the shoulders and neck region. Made in Indonesia entirely of a 50/50 cotton/polyester blend. It portrays a person dancing like a robot. The person dances a few moves, then gets pounded on the head by an actual robot. I assume it's because they weren't dancing up to real robot standards. As a side note, Zach is standing by some waterfall that we went to in northern Virginia. The signs in the bathroom stated "If you fall in the water, you will die." In hindsight, I'm not sure if that was a reference to the waterfall or the toilets. Fortunately, we all made it out alive. Brendan loved it because he got to throw rocks in the water. I loved it because I got to throw rocks in the water. Zach loved it because he got to take great pictures with his cool camera.

Next topic. Pictured above is Brendan sleeping. This was after a long day traveling across D.C.
Anyone that knows Brendan knows that he only sleeps when absolutely necessary, but that's how tired he was. Of course, he woke up once shortly thereafter and ran around and knocked on all the windows outside the Cathedral and tried to jump in the fountain outside the cathedral as well. The cathedral itself was pretty breath-taking. Lots of details, hundreds of stained glass windows, and statues of every kind (including two grotesques, one of Darth Vader's head and one of a raccoon. Both designs picked out by elementary school kids back in the eighties. True story. They're so high up they can only be seen with a zoom lens, but they really are there).

Prior to going to the cathedral we went to the botanical garden right next door to the Capitol building. Zach is an avid botanist and always looks for any chance to explore new plant life inside a hot glass and metal environment (another reason why Zach was the lame dad and I was the cool one). Actually, in hindsight Zach said the botanical garden was probably his least favorite part of the trip. I'm not sure if that included the red eye flight over here or not. But the garden was neat if you like plants alot. It had a cool view of the Capitol building from inside it and it was probably Brendan's favorite part of the trip because he got to spray water and play in the dirt, but for your average Paul Reiser-type of person, the garden was kind of boring. So we took the tour, went up a really slow elevator, saw the plants from a catwalk, played in the kids botany section, then headed out.

Maybe the botanical garden would have seemed cooler if we hadn't just come from the Library of Congress, which happened to be one of the huge highlights of the weekend. The Libaray actually consists of three buildings. One, pictured above, is the one one usually shown in movies and pictures and it's obvious why when you first walk in. The building is immense and almost as ornate and detailed as the National Cathedral. It's certainly more colorful and vibrant. Lots of statues, detailed paintings, and a rotunda with a painted celing somewhat similar to the Capitol. When we first went to the Library of Congress we could only enter certain parts of the building. You have to have a library card to get in to the sections that actually have the books. So the second time we went, we had to go to another Library of Congress building and get our official library cards. Library cards are suppossed to be issued only to "serious" researchers, but we managed to get one even though our purposes were less than serious. The building where you get your card was a major letdown. It reminded us of an elementary school with primary colors used on the doors and lots of laminate floor tiles.
For anyone that tours D.C. the Library of Congress is a must-see.

When we first went to the Library of Congress we accessed the building through a series of
underground tunnels that connected the Capitol to the Library. That means that prior to going to the Library of Congress we spent some time on an official tour of the Capitol. The two of us(that's right, two of us. The first day of the trip Brendan hung out with his friend Josh while Zach and I saw some sights.) started the tour off with a movie on how great the checks and balances system is and how effective the current democratic process is. I'm not sure why they bother showing fictional movies like that before they start you on the tour.
At the tour they give you headphones and briskly herd you around to the rotunda and senate/representatives buildings. The rotunda was impressive and the guide gave some interesting insights into the history of the artwork and the various disgruntled artists that contributed to the work over the years. One angry artist painted his face into a tree as an act of definance before being fired.
The most intriguing part of the tour was when we finished and the guide asked for us to hand him our headphones. We were in the back of the group at the time. We were in a bit of a hurry to get going, but I was content to wait until everyone else turned in their headphones in front of us. However, in a classic Zach move, Zach took my headphones and his own and handed them to a tourist from Hawaii while we took off. The look on her face was priceless as she went from surprised to confused, then to annoyed, and finally to angry as she realized what had happened.

When we left the airport to start touring the city we first had to get some nourishment. The obvious solution was to buy jumbo slices of pizza. Hence, we went to Jumbo Slice Pizza. Or at least we tried to. I'm still not sure what the name of the place was that we ate at. We were looking for a recommended pizza place called Jumbo Slice Pizza. What we found were three shops all on the same block with giant signs that said "Jumbo Slice Pizza." It seemed that one was legitimate, and the other two were jumping on the jumbo slice bandwagon to gain customers. Anyway, whatever one we went to, it had really big slices and it was good. But don't be fooled by the picture above. What looks like ham and canadian bacon is actually turkey. The place we went to didn't sell pork products, but we were surprised when we found out we weren't really eating pork. Couldn't tell the difference.

Again, due to the formatting issues, my pictures are in random order and this post is at the mercy of the Blogger settings. One evening we went downtown to see the national mall including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and other nearby memorials. The night pictures were some of the best, but most of them wouldn't load into this post. Try to picture big, white monuments with the sun down, but lit up by large lamps and camera flashes.
As shown in the picture, this was a very tiring weekend for us all, but especially Brendan. He would wake up early every morning so he could wake up his second dad by spraying him with a water gun. I'd get Brendan up and the first thing he would say was "Spray Zach?" Then we'd spend pretty much every moment of each day on the go driving to places including the masonic temple, Mt. Vernon, Olive Garden (Only becuase Zach had a gift card, not because we'd normally go to a place like that), a pupuseria, the Supreme Court, the Washington D.C. temple, and many other places.
While looking at the photo I noticed Brendan was missing a shoe. I guess that's what happens when you have two dads. There's no mom to keep an eye on those things, so Brendan gets run ragged dragged around D.C., with only one shoe, he probably had dirty underwear on, his hair was not combed properly, and he was likely being fed popsicles and soda for every meal. For Valerie's purposes, if anything like that did happen, it was Zach's fault.
We definitely made the most of our time. On Tuesday Zach had another long flight back to his family and Brendan and I had a joyful reunion with Valerie at the airport. Her arrival was nearly delayed by her almost missing her flight, but thanks to baby #2 in her belly she was able to cruise through security in a wheelchair and bypass all the long lines. We're back to being a nuclear family and it feels good.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Girls Weekend

This past Memorial Day weekend, Chris and I spent the holiday apart which would usually not make for an awesome weekend but this was the exception.  I got the chance to spend 5 days with four of my best buddies from college while Chris had Zach, who is the reason Chris and I first met, come stay at our place. Chris will blog about his weekend another time, but this post is all about me and the 4 lovely women that I got to spend my time with.IMG_6464 I headed down to Austin, TX last Thursday and met up with my fabulous friends Tara, MaryAnn, Bekah and Lindsay. We all lived on the same floor in the dorms at BYU and have managed to keep the friendships alive even after 10 years. Having never been to Texas before, I was a little surprised by how normal and awesome Austin is- which wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting a lot more cowboy hats, giant belt buckles and pickup trucks but instead Austin felt completely hip and urban. My opinion of Texas has greatly improved since my trip but maybe that was because I got to spend this trip with such great company.

IMG_6468 Three out of the five of us were pregnant and showing, and I was glad that I was not the only one that needed to be constantly eating but I was jealous of Tara and Bekah’s very flat stomachs.

IMG_6470I hope the girls know what an awesome time I had despite my lack of pictures. I was having too much fun to bust out my camera and be bothered with taking photos- I just wanted to enjoy as much time as I could with these women. Now though I’m sad that I don’t have more photos of all the awesome things that we did (and ate) but let me tell you, this weekend was jammed packed with fun. We went tubing, ate some killer BBQ, hiked and walked a lot, enjoyed a bit of the city atmosphere, and ate one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.  This is something that I hope we do much  more often than once in every 10 years, but this weekend was priceless for me and a much-needed vacation from my everyday life. And next time, I hope we have the complete crew there- we missed you Christine, Jenn and Teagan!

Even though it was much-needed, I still missed my family like crazy and couldn’t wait to see them again. I barely made my flight out of the Austin airport and ended up using my “delicate condition” to my advantage by claiming need of a wheelchair to breeze through the insanely long security line. I thought I had got to the airport with plenty of time to spare but I hadn’t counted on the enormous number of post-holiday travelers who were also trying to fly out Tuesday morning. Luckily this giant pregnant belly is good for something and they gave me a wheelchair without a question and I was able to make my flight with about less than 5 minutes to spare.

When I finally got home, I was rewarded with the sweetest smiles, kisses and snuggles from my child who is not usually very keen on being snuggly. It was awesome and I took full advantage of it.



Of course, it didn’t last long. The next morning, Brendan was back to normal and wouldn’t even smile for me when I tried taking some photos of him.

To my wonderful friends- thanks for the awesome conversations, fun activities and good food. You guys are so inspiring to me and I can’t wait to see you all again!Thanks to Chris (and Zach too) for taking care of Brendan while I was gone- it was such a treat for me and I know it probably wasn’t the easiest.