Friday Randomness

I was just thinking that I really should write something since I’ve missed a few days.  I couldn’t think of anything to write, though, until a minute ago.  A minute ago, Cooper Jones proved that he is totally his father’s son.

D.Jones love to harrass me by doing the whole “you ready now?  How ’bout now?  Now?”  It annoys me to no end, which he knows and loves.  He does it frequently, so I have stopped responding to it altogether, except for the necessary eye roll.

A mere moment ago, Cooper was happily munching on his chocolate chip Eggo waffle and sipping some milk.  Then one of the Wonder Pets said “can we go now?  How ’bout now?” and Cooper Jones spit his milk all over the living room in laughter.  He’s still laughing.

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Yesterday I was cleaning in prep for my father-in-law’s arrival today.  He was on the floor playing with his cars and trucks and making weird noises.  Not car noises.  I say “what is that?”?  In response to one of the noises.  This conversation ensues:

Cooper:  The Jeep burped.
Me:  He did?
Cooper:  Yeah.  He burped a little (laughs)
Me:  Did he say excuse me?
Coops:  No!  He doesn’t have a mouth to talk, Mommy!
Me:  But he can burp?
Coops:  Yep.  He can.  He just drives around and burps.  A lot.
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Tomorrow I am excited to be going to my sister’s birthday party.  There should be lots of friends and family there and I’m flying solo…which doesn’t happen very often.
Unfortunately, at the exact same time, Doug and his Dad are taking Cooper to what could be the most exciting moment of his life…to see Bob the Builder in person!!  They got 5th row center seats for Bob the Builder live!  I wish I were going to be there to see his reaction…and I’m also hoping it goes well.  You never know with an almost three year old, but I’m thinking he’ll love it!  More to come on both activities, hopefully with pictures to add as well.  I made Doug promise to take lots of pictures so I can see what he thinks of things.  And no doubt I’ll be snapping pics at my sister’s party…so more to come.
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Happy Birthday Sis!

Today is my sister’s birthday.  And not just any birthday, it’s her 50th!  It’s hard to believe that I have a sibling who is sporting those numbers, but when you spend a few minutes with her, or even look at her for that matter, you’d never think that was her actual age. 

Because of the age difference, I don’t have a whole lot of memories of Dawn and I when we were really young.  I have visions of time with her, but I’m never sure if it’s an actual memory or just a formulated memory from stories I’ve heard along the way.  I know she took me to see Disney Fantasia in a theater when I was really little, and I know she and her friends babysat me once in awhile. 

When I was going into Kindergarten we moved from Minneapolis to Omaha due to my Dad’s job transfer.  I remember more from there than I do from Minneapolis, and at that point, I remember her getting ready to leave for college back here in Minneapolis, and then sharing a big queen-sized bed with her when she’d be at home.  I remember stapling my finger when my parents were out one night and my sister saving the night by pulling it out with her always perfect fingernails.  I’m not sure if I remember or was told that she also took me trick-or-treating and when a seemingly inert scarecrow on someone’s front porch all of a sudden came to life and jumped up out of the chair as I approached, I threw my candy filled pillowcase and took off like lightening, my sister giving chase and panicking that I’d be lost on Halloween night!

We moved back to a suburb of Minneapolis when I was going into Second grade, and then my memories with her become even stronger.  She got married and was living with her husband in Minneapolis.  I remember her coming to get me to spend overnights with them, and being taken to do fun stuff like hiking along Minnehaha Falls, playing games, staying up late, and sleeping on their couch. 

As I got older, and soon entered high school, our relationship grew even more.  She was easy to talk to, offered great advice, and never judged.  In truth, she rarely if ever judges anyone.  She truly is a live-and-let-live spirit.  She and I became closer.  Through the crazy times of graduation, college, frat parties, breakups, and the growing up kinda mistakes we all make, she was my sounding board and was always there.

Through even more growing pains, which included calling off a wedding, she continued to be a support system for me.  I remember asking her to call the church to tell them it wasn’t going to happen.  She agreed without hesitation.  Well, okay, maybe not without hesitation, because if I remember correctly, there was a moment of “seriously Kristin?  The church?!”  But she did it anyway.

When I returned from New York, ashamed and embarrassed that the relationship hadn’t worked out and that I was back home, it was my sister I turned to for friendship and to hang out with…  We road tripped to Iowa for a crazy weekend to visit a friend, and we road tripped to Wisconsin for a Jimmy Buffett concert.  I mean, what better way to forget your troubles than at a JB show, right?

With her by my side, I moved on from the past, and moved toward my future.  She stood by me when I finally walked down the aisle with Mr. D. Jones, and offered advice and understanding when I journeyed through my pregnancy. 

Thinking of some other crazy things we did can always make me smile.  I can’t list them all, of course, but a few that come to mind include laughing ourselves to sleep in a hotel as some rednecks in jacked up pickup trucks drove around outside honking their horns, taking funeral time at work to go to Cuzzy’s, dancing with ChickenMan (oh wait..maybe that was just me, but she witnessed it!), craziness down at 7 corners by the U of M, talking me into going to a “SCA event”, and a night of nuts and berries in Hershey, PA.  Oh, and laughing like crazy trying to determine if the folks of Hershey, PA were really as friendly as we thought by continually waving at us, or if we were not following the rules of the road and they were trying to get our attention.  I am cracking up just typing these things…

In summary, my sister has the most amazing laugh, all the artistic talent in the family (seriously…sorry Greg & Kenneth, but we all know it’s true, right?), an unbelievably positive spirit about her, and a way to put people at ease that made her the most loved employee at Lutheran Brotherhood headquarters for many years.

I can’t believe it’s the big 5-0, Dawn!  Happy, Happy Birthday to you…I have loved all of the time I’ve gotten to spend with you over the years and I look forward to so, so much more.  Love to my stalker…my sister~

-Kristin

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Cooper’s Been Partying

This morning Cooper, Doug and I met our friends Matt and Megan, Matt’s great-grandma and little Jack out at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for the annual “Rock the Cradle”.   It’s put on by a local radio station called The Current, and it is an awesome way to spend a freezing Sunday in January.

Rock the Cradle included a very cool “instrument petting zoo” where the kids can get their hands on all kinds of instruments and check ’em out. 

Coops started on the xylophone

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Then tried out a cello with D.Jones

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and then hit some keyboard action with Jack

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and solo

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Then we headed over to the Children’s Theater area, which was totally converted into a kids disco and featured djs from The Current spinning tunes for kids, and some for their parents.   Cooper had a riot showing off his fancy footwork.  The boy’s got moves~

That was all she wrote for poor Jack, who is a year younger than Coops, so after a stop at the “bar” for drink boxes,  the Schwalie family headed out and we went to another building, where we sat through a story time that I enjoyed as much as Coops because it was read by a DJ from The Current who has the best British accent ever!  He also interjected plenty of comments that made the story time as amusing for the parents as for the kids…like one part in the story where a bear yells “excellent!” and he added “the bear must be British because we all overuse our adjectives, don’t we?  Nothing is “good” to the British, it’s “brilliant!!” 

By that point, I needed more coffee in my life, so we wandered over to the D’Amico & Sons inside the MIA for a much needed skim vanilla latte and Cooper found a play area that had lincoln logs.  You’d think he’d found buried treasure from his excitement over the scratched up logs, but it was the best thing ever for C.Jones.

At that point, the sea of parents and children that had descended upon the Minneapolis Institute of Arts made it nearly impossible to even get from point A to point B.  Literally.  Thousands.  So we did the only thing we could fathom doing at that point…we went to the coat check to get our stuff and get outta there!

It was a “brilliant” morning had by all, though.  You know it must have been worth it, because even now, as the visions of thousands of other people’s children dance in my head, I am still up for it next year.

I Heart Faces!

My friend Dawn just alerted me to a super cool new place to look at beautiful faces in all shapes, sizes, colors and expressions.  I decided to try to enter one this week, so here’s the picture I chose.  I hope I’m doing this right, I am kind of dense when it comes to “linkys” and other blog stuff, so my fingers are crossed that I don’t somehow mess this up.  🙂

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And my adult entry…the sarcastic “you are crazy” look that I only get from my niece Jennifer.  Okay, maybe not “only”, but she’s definitely the best at it!  And although she may look young, she definitely belongs in the “adult” category, as she’s well over 18, I swear.  In respect, I won’t post her real age.  LOL~  🙂

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Moving Right Along

I’m not big on making resolutions around New Years.  I find that the failure rate is far too daunting and putting “out there” what you hope to accomplish is just too stress-invoking.  Especially for those of us who kind of assume, as we are making said resolutions, that they might not ever come to fruition.

This year is no different.  I didn’t plan to make any “resolutions” per say.  But I did tell myself that I would make every effort possible to take care of me in a way that I haven’t in far too long.

As I look back over the past few years, I realize that 2004 was kind of a lost year.  There were highs and lows of a greater magnitude than most people experience in one year.  In February of that year, D.Jones proposed after what seemed like (and really was) a lifetime.  It was a wonderful surprise and had me immediately planning my wedding, both in reality and in my mind…dreaming of what would be the “perfect” wedding day for us.

Unfortunately, a month or so later, my Dad went into kidney failure.  Although he was only actually in the hospital for a couple of weeks, it seemed like an eternity (especially for him), but for myself and the rest of the family as well.  It was a scary time for everyone and time seemed to drag on, though at the time, I think it was all a haze of sleepless nights and trips to the hospital. 

Of course, you all now know that things looked up pretty quickly and the amazing news is that in the next few months my Dad went from long hours spent at a dialysis center, to doing his dialysis at home, to no dialysis whatsoever.  Truly a miracle, and another high point to be sure.

In the Fall of that year, my mom, sister, one of my best friends and I went on a girls weekend where an event planner plans your weekend for you and you literally just go along for the ride.  We had one of the best times of our lives, doing all sorts of fun things like horseback riding (I was terrified!) visiting a farm where they made wonderful soy candles and homemade soaps, visiting an opera house, an evening of fine dining, shopping and cocktails.  What a weekend!  The only thing was, I was incredibly uncomfortable that weekend, with this painful itching on the inside of my forearm.  My mom’s friend looked at it and said “that’s odd…that looks like shingles.”  Pffft.  Riiight.  Shingles!?  Don’t you have to be like 80 years old to get shingles!?  Turns out, you don’t.

The day we got back from our long weekend, I went to Urgent Care.  At that point, it hurt enough that it kept me up at night.  Turns out, my mom’s friend was right.  The doc who examined me asked if I was under extreme stress.  I told him about my year so far.   Apparently, he thought all of the above might just be enough to toast my immune system and cause a lovely case of shingles.  Great.  My first thought was “crap!  Now I’m going to have to wear long gloves at my wedding to cover up the scars from the shingles and that’s going to make my upper arms look fat!” 

The Spring of 2005 found us finishing up our wedding planning for our May wedding.  It went off without a hitch and was a great time had by all.  And I thought finally I can relax, enjoy our condo living, and be stress free.  By July, though, I started to feel not 100%.  I was extremely fatigued and would come home from work so exhausted I would fall asleep on the couch.  Definitely not the norm for someone who usually worked nights.  Turns out, there was already a future Jones on the way….

Everyone knows how that changes the focus of things.  All of a sudden we were planning a nursery, doing to doctor’s appointments, and consuming more medical reading material than anyone should be allowed to.  Thankfully I had an awfully easy pregnancy, but being the first, I was stressed and enjoying every moment, all at the same time.

2006 was not much more relaxing for us.  In March along came Cooper William Jones.  Everyone out there who is a parent knows that you can write off the next few months as a haze of sleepless nights, terrifying worry over whether or not your baby is eating properly, growing properly, etc., etc., etc., and the overwhelming joy of looking into this new little person’s face and dreaming of what will come as you watch them begin to recognize you, smile for the first time, and grow, grow, grow!

Then we experienced a devastating blow in June when we received a late night call to tell us that Doug’s Mom had unexpectedly passed away.  Cooper was only 3 months old at the time, and thank God we had been there a week or two before, when Doug’s Mom was able to hold him, spend time with him and even rock him to sleep in her favorite chair.  We packed up and headed home to WI for what was the most difficult trip home that we could ever imagine.   Not only were we still in the crazy sleeplessness of parents to a newborn, but I was mourning alongside my husband.

When we returned home and tried to get back to our day-to-day life, we also realized that a high rise condo is not the best case scenario for a growing family with a Yorkie, too.  We put the condo on the market and began a house hunt.

In the Fall of 2006, as Christmas approached, we took the condo off the market so that we could enjoy the holidays with our new baby and not have to worry about strangers traipsing through our condo every other hour.  We also had our first big trip with Cooper planned, as we had a wedding to attend on Captiva Island, FL. 

We went to the wedding in November, and returned to a call from our realtor saying “I realize you took the condo off the market, but I have a very interested possible buyer…can they come through anyway?”  We decided it was no big deal to host one more showing.  Turns out, they wanted it and wanted it now.  They needed to move and prove to the buyer’s employer that he had a St. Paul address prior to Jan 1.  Okay…  Let the fun begin.

I spent 3 days in a row with our realtor enjoying what we then titled “Aaron and Kristin’s days o’ houses!”  I toted little Cooper Jones along as we viewed no less than 30 homes, finally settling on one back in Minneapolis where we’d hoped to return someday. 

The week of Christmas we moved during an ice storm into our new home, and also packed what we could to get home to spend the holidays with Doug’s Dad in Wisconsin.

When we returned around New Year’s, we immediately began work on the new digs, painting, cleaning, ordering new appliances and doing everything that a new, not-so-new home requires, all while planning and preparing to host a big hoopla for Cooper’s 1st birthday, which I decided to combine with his baptism.  Whoa.  More chaos.

Things finally calmed down a little bit in the summer of 2007, when we were able to enjoy some leisurely trips to the cabin, a trip or two to WI to visit family, and some other things.  Finally…moments to breathe.  But thinking about my own health and my own “stuff” was farthest from my mind.

By the fall of 2007, we were about to experience another tragedy, when Doug’s brother, who had been suffering with problems with his pancreas, was diagnosed with cancer.   He sadly passed away right before Christmas.  We made another trip home to Wisconsin to be with family.

2008 came and went in a literal blur.  Happily, of more positive times. 

We celebrated Cooper’s 2nd birthday with surprise guests from Wisconsin and lots of friends and family.  A month later, I made a trip to Vegas to meet up with some wonderful friends and have my first real time away from Cooper.  It was an awesome three days spent enjoying good times with good friends.  It was a time that I will always cherish.

When I returned it was time to celebrate my Mom’s 70th, and then enjoy the weather easing up and allow Cooper and I to get outside and enjoy park time.  Summer saw him grow in leaps and bounds in his ability to really play with and interact with other kids.

We were able to make a couple of trips to the cabin over the summer, Cooper and Doug made their first boys-only trips back to WI, we made a family trip back to a celebration for Doug’s sister and brother in law who had purchased a new resort and planned to move there permanently, we made a trip to California to visit family and attend a wedding, we celebrated my Dad’s 70th with a Norwegian party at our house, and we enjoyed Christmas celebrations in both MN and WI.

Now, as 2009 begins, I vowed that I will turn some of the focus back to me.  My short list includes getting to a doctor, a dentist, and getting an eye exam.  Today, I was able to check that last thing off my list.  Eye exam, complete!  Turns out, I need to wear glasses all of the time now (darn it anyway!), and my new glasses are being made for me as I type.  I pick ’em up tomorrow afternoon.  My eyes are pretty jacked, I guess, and the opposite of most people’s.  I suffer from major far-sightedness, whereas most people are near-sighted.   The doctor told me that I’ve kept my eyes under so much constant strain, that the muscles in my eye are unable to relax right now.  If he were to give me my “real” prescription, I wouldn’t even be able to tolerate them.  So, I’m told to wear my new glasses all the time for one entire year, and then return for another exam.  Geez.  Not the news I was hoping for, but not so bad, I guess.  They’ve got his cool new technology that takes pictures of the inside of your eye ball and they can tell amazing things from the pictures.  Things like whether or not you have diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac problems, circulation issues….all from the veins and arteries in your eyes.  It was crazy…and kind of cool to look at.  Thankfully, all was well except that he told me I’ll probably need bifocals by the time I’m 45.  I wish he would have saved that tidbit for later.  Talk about making someone feel old!

Anyway, next up will be the dreaded dentist and doctor apppointments.  I’ve avoided them for far too long, and it’s time to just get it done.  I also need to put some thought into what I want to do when I grow up.  Now that we’ve got Cooper ready for Fall preschool, I want to put some thought into what I’m going to do…  Will I continue to stay at home with him for a little longer?  Will I begin the job search in these rough economic times?  Will I purse my Master’s degree that has been in the back of my mind for some time now?  Will I instead pursue a law degree that was once my dream?  Who knows what 2009 will bring, but as I embark on this new year with new things to come, I enter the year thinking that some of my focus will once again be turned inward.  Not resolutions, so much, just the thought that I need to do the things that Doug tells me to do once in awhile.  Like, leave he and Cooper to fend for themselves at night once in awhile, so I can do nothing more than wander around a bookstore alone.  Things like actually taking my parents up on their offer to keep Cooper overnight so that Doug and I can enjoy a night out and actually sleep in the next morning.  Things like continuing to learn more about using a camera, getting back to work updating my food blog here, and enjoying a hobby or two of my own.   I also hope to ease up a bit on myself and my parenting this year.  And, in turn, ease up on D.Jones, as well.  I needn’t worry like I do about things like “did he watch too much t.v. today?  Is he performing at an appropriate level for his age?  Did we do enough learning activities today?”  I hope to realize more and more that D.Jones and I are pretty good at this whole thing, and we can have a lot more fun if I just go with the flow.  I’m not good at that, but I’m hoping to get better.  Perhaps doing the other things I outlined will also positively impact the latter.  I mean, they say maintaining some balance in your life makes you a better parent, better spouse, better friend, and happier person.  I think they are probably right…  I’ll keep you posted.

The Stress of School Applications

And no, I’m not talking about college.  Cooper and I have been actively seeking the right preschool for him, and I am incredibly happy to report we have found our spot!

We toured the most amazing preschool yesterday and thankfully, even though enrollment for next fall was actually in December, they had 2 spots available for the Tuesday/Thursday morning group.  Whew!

This place is fantastic.  I immediately felt at home there, and it was clear that Cooper did, too, since he had no problem marching into various classrooms during class time and offering a huge theatrical wave  and a “goodbye…see ya later!” as we would leave.  The Assistant Director who was on the tour with us laughed on a few occassions and added a “yes, he’s definitely ready for school.”

Doug and I had outlined a variety of things that we required for our school of choice and this place delivers on all fronts.  All of the teachers there have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, most in elementary education.  Once per week the music director, a woman with a master’s in music and also a teacher at another location, comes to the school and teaches a music segment to the children.  She was there during our tour and we got to watch as she opened a huge box of kid’s size instruments that the children got to select, and then they played along with some music as she helped them learn the instruments.  It was awesome.

Most of the morning is structured with learning activities except for the first half an hour, which is free time, while all the kids get dropped off and settled.  There are numerous classrooms, and Cooper will be in a classroom of kids who are all exactly his age (3 1/2 at the time).  There will be 18 kids and 2 teachers in his particular room.

The kids are also involved in volunteerism, participating in a program called Children Helping Others or something like that.  This week, the kids who are currently in the classroom Cooper will be in were assembling midwife kits to send overseas.   They also sing at nursing homes twice per year, and go on other field trips.

By the end of his first school year, he will know numbers, letters, be able to write some letters, have kept a journal of art, understand calendars, animal habitats, and so much more.  Most importantly, he will have time to get to know some other kids who he will see on a regular basis, and be able to expand his already crazy social skills.

I am so happy.  This search has felt endless and tedious, so this feels like a weight lifted.  On a side note, I’m also looking forward to a little bit of mommy time, even if it’s only from 9 to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

An Alarming Attack

Friday night we went to the Mall play area so Cooper could run amok for awhile and then went out to dinner.  We arrived home to an alarming discovery.

To start from the beginning, Cooper elected to give up his security froggie blankie after he found Betsy, our Beagle-mix, gnawing on his head.  No damage was done, but when Cooper snatched the blankie from the ugly assault, he felt a dampness on the frog’s head that was not by his own doing.  He was offended and disgusted.

He immediately handed froggie blankie to me and said “put him away, Mommy, I’m done with him.”  Wow.  I’ve heard of parents struggling for a long time to break their kid of the security item…but usually when they are what?  6 years old or something?  Not two!  But, as he insisted, I sadly tucked froggie blankie away in a drawer, never to be seen or heard from again.

A few days later, Cooper mentioned that he would, indeed, like to have a froggie to sleep with, but certainly not the defiled froggie blankie.  I passed the message on to the big guy in red.

As always, Santa delivered a fine new froggy.  A bigger kid froggy, and Christmas morning there he was, waiting for the loving arms of his new buddy.

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They became fast friends, and every single morning, no exception, Cooper’s little feetie pjs pad into my bedroom, arms clutching the new frog, now named Flex, and ask if they can jump on my bed.  (frogs are good jumpers, FYI).

Fast forward to Friday.  Friday, we arrived home after a night of fun to find that something horrible had happened.  An attack of previously unseen magnitude.  Betsy, our Beagle-mix, apparently had some sort of a confrontation with Flex, and was clearly the victorious one because Flex sustained some mortal wounds.  He’s now a cyclops frog.

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I made the disturbing discovery in the master bedroom and immediately called Detective D.Jones to the scene.  Cooper, sensing something weird, arrived at the same time.  He stared in horror, but there were no tears.  After a literal minute or two passed, he simply said “I don’t want him on my bed anymore”, turned on his heels and marched down the hallway.  That was it.  Not so much as a loving embrace to end the friendship.  He was done.

Flex joined froggy blankie in the drawer of doom.  RIP Flex.  We enjoyed your company for the short time you were with us.