Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daddy's Vacation

Less than 5 minutes after we dropped Jeff off at the airport, a very soft little Gavin voice came from the back seat, "I miss Dad." So sweet. So scary since Daddy was leaving the country! That night as I was rocking him to sleep (I thought that was a fairly recent phenomenon since he used to be the best little boy at bedtime - but, Jeff informed me that the trend began when we were in Virginia after Christmas and has never stopped), he fell asleep quickly and was twitching . . . he actually moaned - in his sleep - and said, "Daaaaddddy." That cute little boy is in love with his Daddy.  So began our week at home without Daddy.

Wednesday Afternoon 

After the airport, we made a quick trip to the mall to swap out our cable box.  It felt nice to be another mom pushing a stroller around (although I suspect almost every woman I saw with kids was a nanny).  Then, we stopped by the library for the afternoon.  Gavin loves to crawl up and down the stairs while Autumn and I read and chose the books she was going to check out.

We spent a lot of time out back on the playset all week (we love our neighbor, Marsha and her daughter, Aliza, for passing it along).  Gavin has learned to crawl up the stairs by himself.  He continues to amaze me.  And, he's so proud of himself.

It doesn't stop him from having this look on his face by the time he gets to the bottom of the slide.


My first morning getting both kids ready for school alone.  And, they were angels.  Really.  I did have to make a few rest stops on the way in to Gavin's preschool as I carried him and his trike in.  Wow.  Reason #278 that Jeff makes a great stay-at-home parent.  He's stronger than me.  And, that little Gavin boy is heavy.

Thursday was hot.  It warranted breaking out the Slip n Slide.  We created a water slide on the playset with the hose.  Set up the umbrella.  Made some lemonade (which Gavin surprisingly loves) and had ourselves a picnic.  So much fun.  So hot.


Gavin and I spent the morning playing Cars while Autumn was at school.  It's his very favorite past-time.  He has 30 or more little cars from the Disney Cars movie.  They talk to each other and have elaborate adventures.

We were ready to go to the Toronto Zoo soon after we picked up Autumn from the bus stop (during which Gavin ran into the back of my legs with his four-wheeler and I almost cried when I saw the chunk of skin I was missing).

Trying to get out of the house was a challenge.  Gavin wanted his sunglasses - which I couldn't find.  Autumn wanted to wear sandals - which are all too small.  I had to run back in the house for a million little items - sunscreen, the zoo passes, more water.  I was checking one last time for Gavin's sunglasses in the garage when my sunglasses fell off and skidded across the driveway . . . on their lenses.  I ran to grab them and when I stood up I whacked the back of my head on the side view mirror.  Hard.  Ouch.  

We had big plans to visit the tigers and elephants . . . but, ended up splitting our time between the little bunnies at the zoo in the kids' park and the sandbox.  They were perfectly content and happy not to go anywhere else.  So funny.

They were both ecstatic that they actually were able to each touch a bunny.  They both said it was the highlight of their day.


Autumn's best friend, Alida, and her mom, Lisa, and their little June bug came over for a visit.  I love this family.  June and Gavin actually play so well together.  And, the afternoon was full of freeze tag, playing toys, pretending to be princesses, playing outside, more picnics, and a little bit of packing.


We hit our low point Sunday morning.  Both kids woke up coughing - Gavin sometime in the night and Autumn sometime later in the night.  There's not much sleep to be had with two squirmy kids in the bed.

Gavin was so cranky and upset . . . he couldn't be put down for a second.  And, I'll say it again . . . he is heavy.  I actually had to put myself in a short time-out that morning.  For sanity's sake.

By the afternoon, calm Mommy had returned.  We walked around the block a few times, drew on the driveway with chalk, climbed some trees, had another picnic, pla
yed the Wii, watched a movie, made some cookies and relaxed.


The kids tried to convince me to drive to the airport to hang out and wait for Daddy about five hours before his plane was scheduled to arrive.  I held them off.  But, I had to be quite creative!

We went to visit the new house we are moving to (more on that later).  And, spent the morning playing hide-and-seek in an empty house.  I realized - with utter devastation - that Gavin was going to have an incredibly hard time getting around because of the number of stairs everywhere.  The entire house has wood floors (of which I am not a fan - I've asked Jeff to please limit wood in any of our future homes to the office room only).  Gavin said the stairs are "too slickery."

And, then we went to pick Daddy up from the airport.  Such a cute reunion.

I had shamelessly bribed the kids with small toys that Jeff was picking up from the US (I love and miss you,  They each were allowed five 'strikes' for the week - documented on a prominent poster on the wall - to still earn their toys.  It worked like a charm.  Sadly for Jeff, I think they were more excited to get their toys than see him initially.

Autumn was actually a joy all week.  I adore her.  She's so much fun to hang out with.

And, Gavin was a little roller coaster.  He missed his Daddy.  So, I had to cut him some slack.  Lucky for him, he's such a cute little funny guy.  It partially makes up for the whining and constant begging to "hold me."

So, that's the highlights of the week.  There were lots of extras, of course, like riding bikes, playing with the dogs, making crafts . . .

We survived . . . without Super Dad . . . for a few days.

But, we were so glad to have him back.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hand-made Shirts and High Fashion

Autumn is such a little artist. She has been mastering scissors for years - the adult, sharp kind. And, she dreams up the most amazing projects. Needless to say, she's made 6 bracelets, 5 'I love Mommy' pictures, 1 pipe cleaner alien, 2 door decorations, 1 tattoo that she begged me to let her paint - all by herself, upside down, and much more . . . in the last 3 days.

Without my knowing, she decided last night that she wanted to design her own t-shirts. She found two well-used paint shirts and drew 'Kern, I Love Yoo' on the first. She explained that by using my real name, I would be able to wear it to work. And, on the second, she drew her own name and several hearts - and informed me that she would be wearing it to sleep and to school today. I suggested that we could buy some brand new shirts from the store and decorate them. But, Autumn said she really liked the green paint across the bottom. 

She knows me well. She knew I would only ask the question - but, the decision was hers. I know this is not the norm . . . but, I allow Autumn to wear whatever she wants. Yes, that means a Minnie Mouse costume to church (it qualifies as a dress), white dressy sandals over knee-high colorful socks, red shoes with a brown and pink dress, pink striped pants with a very different pink flowered shirt . . .

For a while, I tried to maintain control. I fought her desire to wear the exact same shirt and pants to school every day of the week. And, then I decided that it wasn't worth the fight. She is always so proud of her ensembles. And, I have decided that I am not going to introduce her to the notion that you should care what other people think about the way you look or dress. One day she will know and care all on her own. And, I will be ready to introduce her to the supposed rules of fashion. Until then . . . she can wear that hand-made shirt proudly. And, she did.  She even allowed me to fix her hair (2nd time for the whole year).  And she chose her special pose for the picture.

Here are a few of my other favorites:

She's got her mommy's sense of style!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Daddy does it this way . . ."

Yep . . . those are painful words to hear. Usually it's the other way around. And kids everywhere are educating Mr. Working Dad about 'the way Mommy does it.' But, Mr. Working Dad is me.

And, Daddy is actually the one that cuts the French toast in strips instead of bites, who knows where you stop to play as you ride around the block, and what 'the policeman' says when you play the Stop/Go game, what Backyardigans episodes are new, the names of all the dogs in the neighborhood and how to encourage Gavin to want to get his straps on and use his walker.

Jeff is taking his first solo vacation this week and is so excited. And, that leaves me to be the solo parent for a few days. I've been equally excited (both for Jeff, who deserves this break, and for me, who gets to spend extra time with our babies).

I have all sorts of plans in my head about the ways that I can actually just be Mommy for a few days. Not Working Mom. Just Mom.

But, after returning from almost two weeks away for business . . . and, being so relieved and happy to be home . . . I have heard "Daddy does it like this" a frustrating number of times.

I know there is nothing like being the one that your kids run to as soon as they are scared or have a boo boo. But . . . let me tell you . . . it kind of stinks being on the other side.

Luckily, my little Autumn is still Mommy's Girl. Gavin? Well, he's Daddy's boy through and through.

So . . . I'll admit . . . I'm pretty nervous about the next few days. Sounds silly, maybe. I used to know what I was doing. But, now I'm just not sure that I know how to do it 'Daddy's way.'

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A big compliment . . .

I have admitted that I love my job . . . despite the hours and the work and the stress and the sleep deprivation. Not always, of course. But, in general. And, I do love to travel . . . despite the slight fear of airplanes, the jet lag and the exhausting hours. But, there are the obvious downsides to my job and to traveling for work.

But, tonight . . . after a very long day of meetings, including a 90 minute presentation that I prepared (until the wee hours of the morning) and gave to the executives, we all walked to a nearby pub for cocktails (not nearly as fun for me as it used to be). The CEO pulled me out of a casual conversation . . .

He told me what a "tremendous job" that I was doing, how they considered me to be an incredibly strong leader and a valuable asset for the company. And, he asked how satisfied Jeff was with our current living situation (in hopes that I'd stay on in Canada for a while). We chatted for a few minutes about the struggles I have been through - both personally and professionally - for the business. He continued that he had mentioned me specifically in the last board meeting by expressing his confidence in me as Managing Director for Canada. And, he ended with a huge "thank you."

It may seem trivial. But, coming from Tim . . . it is not.

I, like a proud little kid, almost skipped back to the hotel and couldn't wait to call Jeff.

It definitely is a good reminder of how critical positive feedback and reinforcement is. Not just to a working person. But, to stay-at-home parents, our kids, and our friends. We can all get so down in the trenches that monotony sets in and we may even start to take people or things for granted.

But, nothing compares to feeling valued, important and appreciated. And it helps to ease the pains - if only for a little while - of all of the sacrifices we make.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Favorite Girls

It's hard to express just how much these girls mean to me. They are my life raft. Especially when I feel the most disconnected and so far away. They help me keep perspective. They buoy me up - but, they are honest and pure. They let me be me - but, a more inspired and better me. And . . . so importantly . . . they make me laugh . . . constantly. I miss you. I love you.

Now . . . to be fair . . . I just bought my super cute little 'purse camera' mid-week. So, I have zero pictures from Becky's - which, sadly, is nothing new. We have the fewest pictures together - even after 5 years of spending time together almost daily! We are either going to have to train our kids to become photographers (and Autumn and even Gavin are well on their way) or our hubbies are going to have to become more inspired. How rare and amazing to have four people (including Jeff and Aaron, of course) all bonded by such a strong friendship. I can talk to Aaron on the phone just as easily as I can talk to Becky. Jeff and Becky used to hang out during the day and take all of the kids to the park. And, Jeff and Aaron are both giddy about their 'boys trip" (Jeff just announced today that it is in 13 days!).

Not one picture from hanging out with Shantelle or Julie. Not one from a great visit to meet little Lincoln, Sherry and Jory's sweet little baby (although Sher has posted the most amazing photos of him on her blog). Love this family and am so happy for them! And, not a one from an awesome night out with all the girls in Heber at my very favorite Mexican restaurant. Grrrr . . .

On the other hand, let me introduce you to three girls that never miss bringing a camera when we hit the town. We were on our best behavior in this picture. One day I will create a collage of all of our many girls night outs . . . the robot, the make-up stand, crawling on the floor, shoving our faces with chocolate. We can talk about anything . . . and we do. Seriously, I think these two could be models and stand-up comedians. They could make a root canal fun. Don't let their hotness fool you. They don't have a snobby judgmental bone in their bodies.

And, Krissie . . . I love this amazing woman more and more. I love that when the four of us are together, we can hang out til the wee hours of the morning and stay perfectly entertained. I love how comfortable we are all together - from the very first time we met. We missed Jeff . . . but, Krissie, Scott and I make a great trio. Krissie will surprise you - and always in a good way. Amazing mom, amazing wife . . . an incredible friend. French toast will never be boring again because of Krissie . . . but, I will never share why . . . (wink wink)

I've lived in so many places and have amazing friends peppered all over. But, Utah is home. And . . . for all of those people with preconceived notions about people that live in Utah . . . you should meet MY friends.

How did I get so lucky?