Sunday, March 02, 2014

book recommendation: hair of the corn dog

This post is not going to be about my kids. Instead, it will be about someone else's kids--and family, actually, of an author (AK Turner) I recently discovered and whose writings I thoroughly enjoy.

They say everyone has a twin—I think AK Turner may be mine. Except she’s published books and stuff. And she’s funnier and wittier than I am. I think her headshot shows her wearing glasses while my vision is at this point 20/20. And, well, she may consume a bit more alcohol than I do (but not much).

Ok, maybe we’re not that much alike. But there are definitely similarities, particularly the mom thing, especially since we have young children (girls, even) around the same age, and that’s what initially drew me to the first book I read of hers: Mommy Had a Little Flask. Those stories had me giggling so much that I sought her out on Facebook, liked her author page, and the next thing I knew I had a digital copy of her soon-to-released book Hair of the Corn Dog on my Kindle and the opportunity to review it. I wondered how her tales of family life would measure up to her previous work(s) this time. Would they be funny? Would they entertain? Would I be able to comprehend her train of thought without having a glass or three of wine myself? The answer to each of these questions is a resounding “yes!”

I loved this book. It had me in stitches on at least every third page, most notably during the description of Turner’s daughters’ art camp (where they did almost no art) and as she recalled entertaining encounters with her in-laws. (She and her mother-in-law sneak booze into public events in their coffee mugs and pole dance together. Isn’t that awesome?) And her acknowledgement of farting in bed really had me tooting—er, hooting. Ok, maybe a little of both. (Because you know, we all do it. We just don’t admit it.)
Basically, I absolutely think anyone with a sense of humor should check out this book. I just don’t recommend reading it while trying to create a quiet, soothing environment to coax your baby to sleep in. (My poor guy kept waking up en route to la-la land as my chest heaved repeatedly from trying to suppress my laughter. Attempts to keep this in check made things worse and his naps were crap until I finished the book.)

Five stars from me. And if I’m ever in Boise, I’d love to stop in Humpin’ Hannah’s for a drink with this hilarious woman. 

PS Hopefully this glowing review will negate the fact that I "borrowed" a JPEG of the book from online without permission. :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

back in the saddle again

Ha ha ha..I just "found" my blog once again. I see the last post began with me wondering where the heck 2012 went. Well, folks, how about 2013? What happened to that one? It's gone and done, and here we sit in the bright, early, cold months of January 2014. Very. Cold. Kids have already had SIX "snow" days (they have actually been extreme weather condition days). Yesterday was the latest one. But my parents, the good souls, came by to take Miss M and Miss A out for lunch and other mall adventures, and I've been thinking I need to bring back the mom blog lately, so while I should be working on newsletters for clients, I thought I'd take a moment to re-ignite this thing.

So since all kinds of time has passed since my last entry and we've not caught up for a while, do you want to guess what I am doing right this second? I'll give you a hint--it begins with a B. I am currently holding a warm bundle of about 15 lbs. in my arms, listening to the soothing (or maddening, depending on how you look at it) sounds of sweet lullabies emerging from a fuzzy brown monkey's light-up tummy while willing a certain 5-month-old to finish his nap.

Did you guess correctly? That's right, we got ourselves a baby!

In August of last year we welcomed little Mr. Wesley to the family. His big sisters adore him. Mom and Dad do too, although he gave us quite a run for our money with the timing of his birth. The day before Miss M started 2nd grade and the very first day of classes at Kevin's college #1 Mr. W decided to make his appearance. He was pretty much right on schedule--just a few days early, and on my dad's birthday actually--so it shouldn't have shocked us. We knew the timing was bad. But I felt completely out of the loop during the first few months of school--my email didn't make it to the teacher's list and since a certain 7-year-old doesn't tell us much about what's going on at school, I was totally out of it. A far cry from last year when I was in school volunteering once or twice a month!

But we persevered and now we're settling into a bit of a groove. Well, some days we have a groove. Other days it's more like we are caught in a whirlpool of kidstuff and we're (that is, "I" am) hanging on for dear life. But overall, things are great and I wouldn't change a thing.

So now have two girls and a boy. So far the boy thing is different...and this started in utero. My entire pregnancy was different from those with the girls. Here's the short list of my pregnancy ailments:

- Never had morning sickness, but during the first trimester I had aversions to just about every food but grilled cheese and peanuts. Especially coffee. That was very, very sad.

- I had issues with my sciatic nerve. Damn, that hurts. Walking hurt. Sitting hurt. 

- Swelling of the, uh, unmentionables for at least 6 or 7 of those 9 months. 

- Headaches! Being pregnant with the girls cured my migraines, at least until they were born. But headaches were a near-constant enemy of mine for the first and second trimesters this time. They weren't migraines, but they were annoying.

- He sat sooo low toward the end. Constant peeing. Constant pain. Couldn't get up. Couldn't roll over in bed. Suck.

However, I have managed to put most of this out of my mind as W's sweet little self has more than made up for it. That said, we are NOT doing this again. Three kids is our limit!!

So to catch up with everyone, which I'll do briefly because who really has time to read a long-ass post?

W is 5 months. He's laughing, smiling, growing, nearly sitting, and he's got these awesomely awesome blue eyes. Gonna get the girls for sure with those!

A is 4 and prepping for kindergarten next year. Well, she's in preschool anyway and our prepping is pretty much informal: "Look, next year you'll be going to that school over there with your sister!" I'm trying to make myself truly appreciate the time we have together at home now since she'll be at school all day next year, but some days I just don't feel like I'm doing a very good job of that. Life is just a little bit crazy right now and poor A is the middle kid. She's doing ok, though. Still a totally lovable kiddo who has a super snuggly side that I'm certain is there to balance her air of mischief.

M is 7 (nearly 8) and in second grade. She loves school, friends, rainbow looms (it's all the rage you know), reading, and is becoming quite the little lady. She's got a sense of fashion that I could only dream of and a penchant for peacemaking. Case in point: a girl in her class took a little envelope she made and decorated and wouldn't give it back. She came home and told me about this and was upset, and when I asked what she thought she should do about it she thought a minute and said, "I should make her one so she'll have her very own. And then maybe she'll give mine back!" Guess what. Her plan worked. Awwww.

It takes lots of words to catch up and I don't need to do it all now. Signing off for the night, then, with a promise to return sometime before the next two years fly by!

Monday, April 16, 2012

birthdays n' more

The big news around here is that we have a...TA DA...6-year-old in the house! So of course that comes with a celebration of sorts...well, actually, a few of them. Miss M enjoyed a host of activities to commemorate the big 6, including a family party, a trip to the ice rink with a few friends (in lieu of a full-fledged friend party), and taking treats into school.

And of course we captured everything on camera. First, the birthday dinner at the restaurant of her choice (no frills here at McD's playland):

Then, open skate at the rink, complete with chocolate cupcakes!

Back home to our family gathering (sans Grandma/Kappa Smith, who both had nasty colds that day). It was about 75 degrees on this March 18, 2012! Peace signs were the requested theme this year. Definitely one of the easier decorating feats I've tackled over the years!

Special guests include Aunt Mary Ann, giraffe, and Cousin Isaac.

I should post comparison pictures from over the years, but since the photo feature is giving me grief, I'll sav that for another post!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

time flies when you're having fun

Really? It's 2012? That's hard to believe. Especially when I start doing math related to this date. Like, I graduated from high school--gulp--19 years ago. College 15 years ago. K and I will celebrate our 12th anniversary in February. I've been a mom for almost 6 years. Where o' where did the time go?

But I'm trying not to dwell on dates and years. Because there are so many great things happening I'd rather focus on that.

For one, I've been trying to build my business back up. I'm embracing social networking with a vengeance, from Facebook (like my biz page!) to Twitter (follow me!) to LinkedIn to my biz blog. The issue, however (as always), is trying to find a balance between getting work done and being an attentive mom. While Miss M is in school all day, Miss A is not. And she naps intermittently so I can't always count on time in the afternoon to work, which means lots of late nights. So the struggle continues, but still, I wouldn't trade this situation for anything. Thanks to K, who works hard to make this possible! Anyway--now that I've shamelessly plugged my links--I'll move on to family stuff.

So what's new with...

...Miss M? Well, she's really grown. And I mean that in many ways. Literally, she's growing! We can't keep her in pants long enough to cover her ankles for long. But she's also becoming more mature in other ways. She's reading really well, and writing, too. The things they learn in kindergarten are waaaay different from what I remember. She surprised me recently by counting by 10's and 5's...something I'm pretty sure I didn't learn to do for another couple of grades. She's overcoming her shyness a bit, too...while she still doesn't love speaking in front of groups of people, she's doing better. She makes friends quickly and has decided she loves ice skating (we went last week). Her imagination is as fired up as always, which is always neat to see. Now, if she'd just get out of that dawdling stage (mornings are not fun in our house)!

...Miss A? She's a typical 2-year-old at times, but more often than not she's really fun to be around. Her language skills are excellent...while she's been communicating quite well for a while now, she asks questions and gives answers in pretty good detail. She's lovable and loves giving kisses, hugs, and "I love you's." We're working on potty training somewhat...not hardcore, but when she shows interest we definitely take advantage of it. Recently I've started taking her to story hour at the libraries, and she has been enjoying it. One thing we're struggling with, though, is hitting. Usually she hits M, but occasionally if she's angry, it's me. She get a time-out in her room when she hits, but it seems like this goes in one ear and out the other because she'll turn around and do it again a few minutes later. (Feel free to chime in if anyone's dealt with this!)

Here's a brief visual recap of our past few months:

Tradition: building the gingerbread house!

M's girl scout troop caroling at a nursing home


Great indoor project: playdough gingerbread men


Ice queen

One of those rare naps (love that she fell asleep book in hand!)

Date night at White Castle. Yes, the entire house is build from burger/fry boxes. Plus a fireplace & chair inside.

Clearly we've been having fun, and we hope the new year is going well for you!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

fall fun

So often fall escapes us in Central Illinois. We've been known to go from 85 degree weather straight to super chilly days almost overnight--but not this year! October has been beautiful, and we've definitely been taking advantage of it with lots of outdoor activities. While I'll admit I've been putting off raking the front yard (thanks to the neighbor's trees that have dumped their loads on our property), I think the time procrastinating chores has been well-spent. Check out some of our latest adventures!

Ropp Family Roundup, complete with carmel apples and hayride.

Trip to Lake of the Woods in Mahomet:

Kindergarten field trip to Rader Farms (and I got to chaperone!)

Pumpkin party at Grandma Joanne/Grandpa Ronnie's:

And of course, our own fun fall crafts! I've found a great site, No Time for Flashcards, that offers tons of awesome ideas for doing stuff with kids. I borrowed these two projects from the site.

Halloween sensory tub. Beans, dried noodles, creepy plastic creatures, and a pumpkin spoon for scooping and dumping. I'm trying to make a different sensory tub each month, using various themes.

Marshmallow ghosts! Maddi's is the first one and Ali's is the second. Great, simple craft for even young toddlers. For Ali's, I put one glue dot on at a time and let her add the marshmallows.

Hope you're enjoying the season as much as we are!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September (test)

Ok, what gives? I can't find my blog online. It doesn't turn up in a Google search, and when I type in the URL I get a "page not available" note. So I'm trying to post a quick update to see if it will publish. If not, I'll be in full-fledge panic mode...I've got 5 years of motherhood chronicled here!

Deep breath in, and exhale out. Ready to click the publish button. Fingers crossed. 3...2...1....

...and...I'm back. For real, I guess. Not sure what was going on, but the site seems to work for me now. Apparently it was working for others as well, as I received some reassurances via Facebook, so my worries were unnecessary. And since I'm here, might as well add a quick update.

What's new?

Kindergarten! Miss M is loving kindergarten. She doesn't seem to be worn out in the least by a full day of class. She has become quite the monkey at recess, spending all her time on monkey bars. In return, she's gaining superior upper body strength and two hands full of lovely blisters. Makes me cringe to see them but for the most part they don't bother her. Ahhh, to be a kid again. I truly believe as we age we become wimpier.

Ali is in two-year-old mode! Tantrums are a daily part of life now, but she's easily distracted--usually--so that's a good thing. She's darn cute the rest of the time. (And she knows it!) She's very social and isn't afraid to get involved in activities. We went to a story hour last week--her first one--and she sang, danced, clapped her hands, and answered questions about the stories. "What shape is this?" "Ummmm, a circle!" "What color is the frog?" "Ummm, green!"

I have tons of new pics, but sadly I lack the time to sift through the masses right now. Here are a few from the latest folder...enjoy, and see you back here soon, hopefully!

Fancy butterfly girl

Sweeeeeet cooooorn!

Happy birthday to Ali!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

summer's end (almost)

Somehow this summer has flown by. Usually things mosey along at a reasonable pace until July. Then, for some reason, time kicks it up a notch. And now here we are in the second week of August, and school starts next week. This is a big deal this year, because Miss M starts kindergarten! She's very excited. And Little Sis is excited because Big Sis is excited. ("Look!" she exclaims when we drive past the school. "Maddi's tinderdarden!") And I'm kind of excited because I will not have to listen to arguments and crying all day long. But I'm also fearful because this is a big step...I'm releasing my firstborn into the care of someone else on a daily basis, for a large chunk of time each day. (Why is it necessary for 5-year-olds to spend all day in school? I still don't really get that one.) But I should relax. She's friendly and will find new pals. She's smart and will do fine academically (she's been reading Dr. Seuss on her own lately). So what I really should say, in the spirit of Alfred E. Newman is: "What? Me Worry?"

All this aside, we've had a great summer. Let's see if I can do justice by narrating with pictures:

Water fun with a friend.

Sumer staple: freeze pops.

Garden girls.

New baby alert! My sis had her first kiddo in July. Can you tell which is the real baby belly?

Farm fun. (Meow.)

In business selling sweet corn.

Riding a bike...2 wheels!

Can't believe she'll be 2 this month! A has a great sense of humor, and she's very verbal. Talks, sings, and dances all the time!