Wednesday, August 31, 2011

30 in 30: Day 10 - Animal

As it happens, I don't have too many animals parading around my house in anticipation of having their photo taken, so for today's challenge I went digging in the archives and found this photo of an owl that I took in England this summer:

Lest you be of the impression that England is teeming with woodland creatures just aching for a photo op, or that I am even remotely decent with a camera, let me assure you that this was taken at Paradise Park, a wildlife sanctuary in Cornwall. I literally looked up, and there it was. Espen fell deeply in love with owls that day, and brought a little toy one home with him, thanks to some pocket money from his great-granny. He will still happily inform you that an owl says "hoo-hoo" if you ask him. I love how much he loves animals, and hope that he will keep that love with him as he grows older. 

Toddler activities: Week 2

A quick update on what we did last week:

A field trip: We didn't do one. Partially because I knew this week was going to be really busy, and partially because I was just all kinds of off my game last week. No good reason, I just couldn't seem to get it together all week long. This week is much better!

A play date: Espen has a cute little girlfriend in the neighborhood (actually, he has a couple!), and she has her very own bounce house! S and her mom brought it over and set it up on the grass outside our house. Espen was in toddler heaven! His only other bounce house experience involved a lot of much older kids, so he kept getting squished and bounced on. No fun! This time, he was fearless and soon learned how to go down the little slide and scramble back up again on his own. It was so fun to see Espen enjoy a new activity so much!

An ambitious activity: We're trying to soak up the last days of summer, and have been spending a lot of time outside. Espen loves playing in his little pool, but I always put off doing it because it is kind of a hassle. But summer is going fast, so on Monday I bit the bullet and got it all set up. And of course it was worth it, because Espen had a wonderful time splashing in the water and playing outside. We'll definitely be doing that again while the weather is still warm enough.

Crazy-eyed fun!

What have you been doing with your kids lately?

Monday, August 29, 2011

30 in 30: Days 5 and 6 - My breakfast and books.

Weekends always throw me off my game. It's OK, though, because we happen to have had a particularly lovely one. No plans, no big accomplishments (although, should Costco on a Saturday count?), just the three of us relaxing at home. It was a good reminder to me that we don't always have to have Big Plans to have a good time together.

Day 5: My breakfast

Let's be honest, my friends: there are bloggers out there that could turn this challenge into a visual feast for the eyes. I am not one of them. I barely have my eyes open at breakfast time, let alone the ability to get all fancy with my camera. Or my breakfast. For about six days of the week, the North family is a cereal-eating family. You can also tell that Friday morning, when I took this photo, was a winner because I'm eating my cereal with a teaspoon (no clean regular spoons), and we were basically out of orange juice, so I only got half a glass. However, you should also know that the North family eats breakfast together every single day, and that is awesome. Keeping it simple makes that possible, and I'm not trading.

Day 6: Books

My bedside table is crammed with books. Books I've read, books I plan to read, books I'm reading right now, books I like to keep around for reference. I was going to take a photo of that for you, but then realized that I basically already have. And let's be honest, that would also require cleaning and staging said bedside table in order to make it presentable for you. If this blog should have taught you anything, it is that I am a slovenly woman with very little desire to clean. So no.

Then I looked beside me on the couch (See? Slovenly.) and saw the books I read every single day. Often multiple times a day. The books that bore me to tears, but that I read over and over again because my little boy loves them so. Which makes me love them too, even if does force me to say things like "Red. Flopsy's cape is red. Turquoise. This shoe is turquoise." Espen loves the page with 8 butterflies, and likes to count them with me. He also likes pointing out the animals and shapes that he knows, and has learned words like 'badger' and 'hexagon' from them. Not bad for 18 months! So, if you ever wonder what we might be doing at any given moment, there's a good chance we might be reading our way through 'Peter Rabbit's Bag of Books'. Again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

30 in 30: Day 4 - Clouds

Busy day, lots to do. I essentially opened the back door and snapped this on my way from point A to point B. I do love my dead trees, though.

Goodness gracious, worst blog post ever! I just reread this, and realized that posting at 11 at night while watching Scrubs is probably not the way to go. I could at least have thrown in some lyrical waxing about Dutch skies and the contrast between light and dark. Or maybe a cohesive sentence or two? But, hey, at least now you know that I love my dead trees. *Forehead slap*

30 in 30: Day 3 - Hands

Hands can be so beautiful and expressive, and I've seen some really great photos of hands. Don't you love this one, for example? I think I had that in the back of my mind when I set out to do yesterday's assignment, which was hands. However, seeing as Nick and I more or less changed guard duties at the door last night, there wasn't much time for heartfelt family photo sessions. Which left it down to me and Espen. Which, in turn, left it down to me trying to take photos of a squirmy toddler's hands as he tried to get the camera from me to see the "baby" that lives inside. This is what I came up with:

Under the circumstances, I'm pretty happy with it. It touches my little mother-heart, and am sure I will enjoy looking back at it in years to come. It's strange to think that one day that little hand will be bigger than mine.

Then, this morning Espen asked to get the "crats" (crayons) so we could "a color". He likes to sit on my lap at the kitchen table while we both draw on a huge sheet of paper. Sometimes he'll ask me to draw something like flowers, trees, boats, houses, etc., and then he improves/embellishes/scribbles on my drawings to his little heart's content. Espen likes it when we trace around our hands, and asked me to do it today. "A hand? A hand? Mama?" So I did.

I think I almost like this one a little better. It's like a tiny moment, frozen in time. I can guarantee you that we won't have the actual piece of paper in years to come (as of right now, I'd be impressed if it made it through the week), but now we have the photo to remind us of a time when there was nothing Espen liked better than to sit in his mama's lap and color.

I have company! Go check out Tana's 30 Photos in 30 Days here. Same idea, different photos.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

30 in 30: Day 2 - My favorite shoes

It's things like this that make me love being a blogger. How else could a 30-something mother from Spanish Fork justify having her own little photo shoot in the backyard? Why else would I put on my winter boots in 90 degree weather? How else would I know how impossible it is to contort yourself into a position that allows you to get a decent shot of said boots on your own feet?

Eventually I had to give up on being my own model (I think your kind comments from last night's post went to my head! ), and prop them up to get a photo. I don't know if they're my favorite shoes per se, but I do know that when I saw them hiding coyly in the back of the closet the other say, I got all excited for winter. Don't you love the fluffy tassels? I love the fluffy tassels.

I am doing 30 photo posts in 30 days, as found in this photo challenge. Please let me know if you feel inspired to join me - I'd love to see your posts!

Monday, August 22, 2011

30 in 30 : Day 1 - Self-portrait

This little ol' blog of mine is in need of a little inspiration and a general kick in the pants. I got a little lazy and distracted over the course of the summer, and just sort of got out of the habit of blogging regularly. To help me get back into the swing of things, I am taking on this 30 day photo challenge, found via Pinterest (thanks, Janey!). So, for the next 30 days I will be taking and posting a new photo. And, because I am mouthy like that, I will most likely write a little something to go along with it. Behold!

Day 1: Self-portrait

Four in the afternoon. No makeup. Hair styled by my toddler. (No, really. He likes brushing it. I like letting him :) ) I was going to show y'all how artsy and awesome and frankly beautiful I really am, but let's be honest, friends. Were you to drop by my house at any given moment, this is likely who you'd find. Unless it was before nap time, and then you'd find an un-showered version of the same. And then my cheeks would be pink with embarrassment, and not because I had just wrangled Espen out of the bath.

Toddler activities: Week 1

We kept busy for our first week of Espen-activities. I kept thinking of so many things to do that I had to kind of rein myself in to not go overboard and down in flames in the first week. (Mixed metaphors, anyone?) Anyway, I promised to keep these pretty short and sweet (who am I kidding?), so here's what we did:

A field trip: We actually sort of went on two. On Monday we had the car and some time to kill, so we went to visit some friends in Orem for a play date. And I made the rule that any play date that involves a 20 minute drive definitely counts as a field trip! Espen's friend, C, is almost three, but the two boys played together so well. They were laughing and chatting and chasing each other around the yard, while C's mom and I sat back, sipped lemonade and chatted. It was great.

Our second field trip came later in the week on one of those afternoons when time just would not pass, and we were both climbing the walls with cabin fever. No car though, so some creativity was definitely in order. So, we looked up the bus schedule, and realized in we could catch the bus over to Nick's work and meet him just as he got off work. Espen has had a deep passion for buses since a bus driver waved to him outside the Primark in High Wycombe, so when I asked him if he wanted to go ride a bus he was so excited he was literally running around in circles. The bus stop is only a few minutes walk from our house, so it was easy to hop on. Espen was so happy and excited to be there, and loved having his own seat beside me on the bus. And when the novelty of that wore off, he was happy to sit on my lap and get a better view out of the window. Definitely a win, and one we will be repeating.

A play date: As well as going to play with C, we also had a friend and his mom come and visit us for a play date. M is a few months younger than Espen, and their only play date so far began and ended in tears. This time they did much better. They mostly played side by side like one-year olds do, but they did occasionally play together. My favorite moment was when Espen brought M every single car he could find for him to play with. Sharing is so hard to teach to an only child, so it was really fun to see Espen do it so willingly.

An ambitious activity: A picnic lunch. The effort here was pretty minimal, and mostly lay in me letting go and relaxing a bit. Instead of our usual lunch in the kitchen, we packed a little lunch, grabbed a blanket and headed outside for a picnic. Espen grazed, played, flopped around and generally had a great time while I shoved food in his mouth in passing. I think it was a great reminder for both of us that lunch can be fun, and not just another checkmark on the list. I think part of the key to making it enjoyable for me was to just decide beforehand that it was going to get messy, and to decide to be OK with that. I did put the blanket straight in the washing machine when we came in, but I already knew that was going to be a consequence, so it was fine.

What was really great was seeing Espen so happy. Every once in a while he'd just flop down in the grass and just lie there, smiling and looking around at the world. He also climbed into my lap for some snuggles, something that doesn't happen nearly enough when I'm busy doing stuff around the house, rather than just sitting down and being available to him.

And that was our week! If you have done anything fun with your kids lately, please let me know so I can be inspired and share your good ideas here on Project Project.

Also, check back later today for my first post in a month-long series!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

18 months

Espen turned 18 months yesterday, and our little baby is inexplicably now a toddler. Whoa! Whoever "they" are, they got it right when they said that kids grow up so fast. But when each new stage is so exciting and fun, you don't really have time to mourn "lost babyhood." Instead, you just stand back in awe and amazement at all the things your little guy or girl can suddenly do. Who taught you that?

At 18 months, Espen is happy, curious, and playful. He is very interested in the world around, and always wants to know what things are and what they do. He is very eager to communicate with us, and is as pleased to be understood as he is frustrated when mom and dad just don't get it. His vocabulary is growing fast at a rate of about a word a day. He passed the 50-word mark a couple of months ago, and at this point we've just lost count!

Espen loves books and reading and begs nightly for "Hvor er Tassen?" ("Where is Spot?"). He plays with his Legos daily, and has a deep and abiding love for cars and his race track. He can recognize motorcycles by sound, and calls them "o-sicles". He loves going for walks and being outside, and will often bring mama's shoes to her and try to put put them on her feet. The highlight of his day is still when Daddy comes home.

Having a toddler is a game changer. While Espen remains great at playing independently and keeping himself busy, I'm seeing a greater need to challenge and introduce him to new things. Hangin' out at home with me all day isn't quite enough these days. And so it's time to fill our days with a little more... more.

After some thinking, I've come up with a little plan. And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't share my plan with you? Here's what I'm thinking:

Every week I will try do to three things:

  1. A field trip. One day a week, Espen and I will drop Nick off at work, take the car and head out on a little adventure. I'm thinking parks, museums, the library... just somewhere we can see and do something different to what we do at home. Shopping doesn't count!
  2. A play date. People need people, even if they're little people! It's good to learn to be social and share and have fun. And let's be honest, moms need people too.
  3. An ambitious activity. I'm always thinking about fun and clever little things to do with Espen, like bake cookies, make crafts, garden, finger paint, play in his pool outside... all of that good stuff. But those things are messy, or require preparation, or take a lot of time and effort, and so I get overwhelmed and discouraged and don't do any of them. But even I can get ambitious once a week.
Just to keep me accountable, I will be doing some brief updates every weekend (-ish) so you can see what we've been up to. And if you'd like to join in, I'd love to see and link to your own activities.

I'll be starting a 30-day challenge here on the blog on Monday, so expect a lot more updates in the coming weeks! What are you blogging about these days? Leave me a comment so I can find you, and I'd love to stop by and see what you're up to.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Goodbye, Grandma Jo.

We are headed out of town on a little errand of sadness this weekend. Nick's sweet little Grandma Jo has passed away at the age of 101, and we are going to Las Vegas to attend her funeral.

We will miss our visits with her every time we go to St. George, and how welcome and loved she always made us feel. I only knew her for the last few years of her life, but feel grateful to have known and loved her. We're especially grateful that Espen had the chance to meet her. He might not remember her, but we can tell him that his great-grandma thought he was a beautiful boy, and was always pleased to see him.

Although we will miss seeing her, we're grateful for our strong belief that there is a life after this one. It's a happy thought to imagine Grandma Jo reunited with the love of her life, riding off into the sunset on her beloved horse Banjo, and all her little dogs at their heels.

And of course there will be lots of time for this:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Thank you

Thank all of you for your kind comments, concern and well wishes. I feel so loved! Thank you for letting me know you're thinking of me.

In spite of being a blogger and all, I'm a pretty private person, especially about the hard things in my life. That is perhaps why, this time, I made a concerted effort to let the people around me know what was going on. I knew we couldn't do this on our own, so I overrode my pride gene and actually let people help us. And I'm so glad we did! Nick's parents came up for two days to take care of Espen (and me!), and he just had a wonderful time with his grandparents. There's so much love in that little relationship, and I'm so glad that Nick and I were able to step out of the equation a bit and just let them do their thing together.

Other friends have brought us meals (thank you! thank you!) which has been such a relief. If all else fails, at least I know my family is going to eat a good meal tonight! Our good friend Caren spent Saturday afternoon with us, and it was great for all of us to take our minds off me and my guts for a bit. Caren is really great with Espen, and spent a lot of time playing cars and taking him for a walk at a time when I just couldn't do it myself.

And while I'm feeling grateful for all the kindnesses that have come my way in the past few days, Nick is of course at the very tippy-top of that list. He's had a lot going on at work lately, but there was never any doubt in his mind that he would take time off to take care of me. He was there for every appointment, and all through my day at the hospital. The hardest part of surgery by far for me was waking up in recovery and not having Nick by my side. Silly hospital rules! He's taken care of me in every way possible, and even now that he's back at work, he still makes sure that I have everything I need before he goes. I love that man.

Sharing his toys with mama.
Finally, I'm grateful for my little Espen. I don't think the past couple of days have been the easiest for him, but he has been such a trooper. He definitely knows something is up, but is very patient with his somewhat useless mama. When I'm not feeling good, he'll bring toys over to the couch so he can play beside me. He crawls up the stairs on his own so I don't have to carry him, and yesterday he obliged by taking an extra long nap. And when he's whiny and needy, he lets me park him in front of a cartoon. Sigh. I promise there will be much less of that really soon, little friend.

So, yes, I have a lot to be grateful for. Above all, a gallbladder full of stones that left my body without complication, and a body that is healing nicely. I just need to keep taking things slowly and we'll be back to normal before you know it.

So, enough about me, how are you doing?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Farewell to a biliary vesicle

Dear Gallbladder,

We've been together for 31 years, and yet I feel like I hardly know you. Now you're leaving. Where did we go wrong? I'd wish you well in your future endeavors, but seeing as you will likely be incinerated within moments of leaving me, that seems a little callous. Just for old times' sake, though, please leave without making a scene?

Gratefully, Tamsin

Dear Gallstones,

I don't remember inviting you to visit, but this is me inviting you to leave. If you must take my gallbladder with you, so be it. But I think you're quite rude.

Unwaveringly, Tamsin

PS. I am undecided about whether or not I may keep you in a jar. We shall see.

Tomorrow is the big day. No more gallbladder for me!