21 July 2014

Terrible Twos

Dear more-experienced-mom,

Please, when you see a stressed mom of a two-year-old, do not laugh and tell her that the "terrible twos" don't really exist and that the real age at which little kids are terrors is three.

You probably think that you're encouraging her, telling her that things really aren't so bad right now. But think about it from her perspective, and from the perspective of building up the culture of life; if her two-year-old has spent the past 23 hours screaming and sobbing about every single thing that has happened—the light turning on, the light turning off, wearing pants, hearing the story he just begged for, mama cleaning up the juice he poured on the floor—and you cheerfully tell her that this is nothing compared to how he'll be acting a year from now, do you think that makes her want to be open to life, to happily anticipate adding to her family? 

Of course not. She can barely handle this, she's thinking to herself; how much worse will next year be? And what if there's a new baby needing her time and attention too? What if she has twins? She will probably only be half-joking that night when she tells her husband that they aren't having another baby for at least a decade.

There are joys and challenges with every age, with every stage of parenting. Intellectually, we know this. But the brinkmanship mentality that's crept into parent-to-parent interactions, the need to "prove" to others that their current struggles are nothing compared to what you've gone through or are going through, ignores the joys and magnifies the challenges into terrifying bogeymen that tell already-discouraged new parents that they simply can't do it. That it's impossible to be genuinely open to life and have any hope of peace and happiness and sanity. And that's not the message you want to be sharing; it's not true.

If the threes are really worse than the twos, she'll figure that out soon enough on her own. What she needs to hear from you right now, more-experienced-mom, what you need to say to build up the culture of life, is that there are good things about having a two-year-old, too. Tell her that your son was two when he learned to put his own boots on. Tell her how much fun it was when your daughter finally started talking in sentences. Tell her about a book your little ones enjoyed at that age, or share your tips for getting crayon off of floors. And if you absolutely have to say something about things getting worse before they get better, hopefully you'll follow up with "so if you ever need a break, I'd be happy to babysit."

Mom of a two-year-old

20 July 2014

Answer Me This

When we got up and turned the light on to get ready for Mass this morning, Little Bear dramatically flopped back onto his pillow, arms outstretched, and declared, "Nap!"

I couldn't have agreed more, child. Why didn't you feel that way at 2 o'clock this morning? Some of this week's questions for Answer Me This took way more brain power than I have right now.

1. What's something you won, and how did you win it?
I'm sure there are better, hopefully more recent, examples for this, but Little Bear was up half the night and I'm exhausted and somehow the only thing I can think of is the school spelling bee in eighth grade. I hadn't intended to enter: didn't register until the morning of. But the year before, my younger sister had won the school bee, the state bee, and gone to nationals in DC, and that morning I decided that I was better at spelling than she was and I signed up, without studying at all. It came down to just the two of us at the end, and we went back and forth over and over again until I was given the word "stroganoff." I completely blanked. Then I spelled it so horrendously—s-t-r-o-u-g-h-a-n-o-u-g-h—that I threw her off, and she stuck a "gh" in it as well when they asked her to spell it to win. I have no idea what word I actually won on, but my siblings still remind me about that misspelling when Mom makes stroganoff.

(Neither of us won the state bee that year; I took fifth (missing "gynecologist") after she missed a word in an early round, and she won and went to nationals again the following year.)

2. Do you save old greeting cards and letters, or throw them all away? Why?
I typically throw them away—I really dislike clutter, and am I ever really going to go back and read them again? But I did save Little Bear's baptism and first birthday cards, and the cards we received after Alex's miscarriage. And I know that somewhere, Matt has many of the letters and cards we've written to each other since we started dating.

3. When you're at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?
I definitely prefer to go barefoot! My feet get cold quickly, though, so I'll wear socks in the winter, and when it gets really cold slippers. But whenever I can be, I'm barefoot; even in the middle of winter, I can't sleep with socks on.

4. Who's the most famous person you've ever met?
I've been around famous people a number of times, especially while writing for Franciscan University of Steubenville's PR department. My favorite story comes from my senior year of high school, though: then-governor Sarah Palin hosted a "Fire and Ice"-themed celebration of arctic life for international dignitaries. One event was a fur fashion show, and I was asked to model for a local furrier. Other than Palin, the one person I particularly remember from the event, although I've forgotten his name, was a young Polish diplomat who complimented my "Russian forehead."

Probably the most widely-famous person I've actually met, though, is Newt Gingrich; I participated in a press conference with him prior to a screening of his film Nine Days that Changed the World.

5. What has been your best work of art?
Can I just say Little Bear? No? I'm pretty bad at visual arts, and there's nothing I've done in any other art form standing out in my sleep-fogged memory as being particularly spectacular. It's been a long time since I've done any writing or music that I could really class as "art"... Maybe this quilt?

I made that the summer before my freshman year of college; I certainly don't have time or energy for projects like that anymore! I was pretty happy with how it turned out, though.

6. What's your strongest sense?
Sight, I suppose. Not because my sight is exceptional, just that nothing else is unusually good and I know that sight is typically the strongest sense in humans. Although, thinking about it, maybe my sense of taste is equally good; I really enjoy playing with recipes, making subtle changes to ingredients and quantities to try to find just the perfect combinations. And last night Matt and I were teasing each other about how we make oatmeal: to one serving of oats, he adds dehydrated strawberries and a drizzle of agave, and that's all; I add up to a quarter-teaspoon each of a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, and maple extract, plus molasses, brown sugar, or honey. And raisins or dried cranberries, and sometimes coarsely-chopped almonds or pecans. It's probably unnecessary to note that Little Bear would rather share his father's oatmeal than mine. I like trying new foods, creating interesting flavors, trying to figure out what herbs and spices go into different foods when we eat out.

18 July 2014

SQTF 95: Settling down

I'm sorry; it has been a ridiculously long time since I've posted, and I miss it! There are still a few too many balls in the air at the Shifflerhaus, but hopefully linking up with Seven Quick Takes today will help me ease back into posting more regularly.

We've moved! Moving day was officially last Saturday—we brought over a lot of boxes on Thursday night and Friday, but Saturday my dad and brother both brought their pickup trucks and carted all of our furniture to the new place. We got the bedroom put together that evening so we'd have a bed to sleep on, and have slowly been putting the house to rights since. Little Bear's had a hard time adjusting to being in a new place: I haven't been getting a whole lot done until Matt gets home from work, because it seems like every five minutes Little Bear is crying and begging to be picked up again. He's getting better about it, though, and I got more organizing done this morning than I was able to do all day yesterday.

After living the last three years in a suburb, we're both loving that our new place is out of town, out in the woods. Our driveway:

It's a little more rural than where I spent most of my growing-up years, a little less "modern civilization" than many places: We can't see any neighbors from any of our windows (and this place has a lot of windows!). Matt is currently pricing out cords of wood, chainsaws, and axes; we'll need to split about three cords before the end of September to help heat the house this winter. Last weekend we picked up two 7-gallon water jugs, and joined the ranks of those who haul their own water. Our well water is okay for showers and washing clothes or dishes, but not for cooking and drinking. More work than city living? Sure. But we love it.

Being farther out of town, it's been a bit more of a challenge to get phone and internet service. Only one ISP covers our area, and we are right at the edge of their coverage for DSL. Because Matt works in video conferencing and has to be able to occasionally work from home, we wouldn't have been able to live here without adequate internet. That finally got set up on Wednesday, and because for some reason it costs the same amount whether you add a landline phone or not, we now have a "real" phone! Cell phone coverage is pretty spotty out here, and Matt's phone can only reliably make or receive calls if he's standing on the corner of the deck, so he's been working with AT&T customer service for the past couple of evenings trying to find a way to fix that. I've appreciated finally having a local number on the landline, because AT&T won't let us change our cell numbers to a local area code and I've felt badly that my mom has had to call me long-distance even though we live in the same town.

What is your least-favorite part of moving? Mine has to be organizing a new kitchen. Every kitchen is set up differently—you can't just put everything in the same place it was in the old kitchen. And things have to be located in the right places: best use of space, convenient to where/how things will be used, easy to access and keep things organized... I spend so much time thinking about it, organizing, reorganizing, it takes me forever to get the kitchen set up. It's still not done, but I think it's getting there:  I finally got most of the dry goods and cans into cupboards this morning.

One of my favorite things about this house, though, is the attached garage. Little Bear and I made our first post-move trip to the grocery store this morning, and unloading the car was so much easier! No more leaving him in the car or house to yell or cause trouble while I ran back and forth: he sat in the doorway and watched me bring all of the bags inside, then helped me move them to the kitchen. He's very interested in the garage (which he pronounces "gah-raj-da"), and spends a ridiculous amount of time hanging on the doorknob and trying to convince me to let him play out there.

Fortunately that door is heavy and sticks just the littlest bit, because the other day he learned to open all of the other doors in the house. He thinks it's the funniest thing in the world to run around opening and closing closets and the bathroom door, shutting himself in and then popping out again with a huge grin on his face. I'm just grateful that he wasn't interested in closing doors at all before this, so he never shut himself in a room and was unable to get out.

One non-new-house take? Okay. This weekend, Fairbanks celebrates "Golden Days," the sort-of-anniversary of gold being discovered here and Fairbanks being founded. It's kind of more a celebration of the gold rush era than a particular event, and there's a lot going on: a parade, a rubber duckie race down the river that runs through downtown, live music and dancing, the Alaska state BBQ championship, the governor's annual picnic, and the annual Red Green River Regatta where people build boats out of mostly duct tape and try to race down the river without sinking... My family's parish is celebrating its 110th anniversary this weekend as well. I hope we'll be able to take part in some of the fun, but I should really try to get a lot of writing done on my current freelance project while Matt is around to help with Little Bear. And of course it would be nice to finish unpacking... So I guess we will have to see.

Have a good weekend!

07 July 2014

Long Weekend

Last week wound up being too busy for blogging, and unfortunately this one is looking at least as crazy! I think I have time for a post right now, and hopefully I'll be able to get back to posting more regularly soon!

Thanks to working for the university, Matt got both Thursday and Friday off for the Fourth of July! He and his friend took advantage of the day off to make sausage: 12.5 pounds each of bratwurst and smoked polish sausage! They were in the kitchen for a good six hours, and the house smelled wonderful.

Also Thursday, we signed the lease for our new place and got the keys and garage door opener from our new landlord. We have a garage! This winter is going to be so much less unpleasant.

Early Friday morning, two of Matt's coworkers came with us to our new house to help Matt bring in the large, heavy, solid wooden desk that he bought at the thrift store Wednesday night. The desk he's had since we got married is a big L-shaped particle board beast with a strange shelving configuration; the footprint is so big that it takes up far more than its' share of a room, and we're glad to be able to put it up for sale on Craigslist and use the more compact 6'x4' rectangular desk instead. It is very heavy, though, and it took the men more than an hour and a half to get it in the front door!

Because we were working on the desk so long, by the time we got back to our old/current apartment Little Bear was clamoring for a nap. I was supposed to have baked brownies before he fell asleep so they could have all the time in the world to cool, but instead wound up rushing to bake them after nap, cool them while I made the two frostings, then assemble them as requested by my brother while Matt ran around finishing the packing and Little Bear hung on my knees whining and I worried about being late to the airport to meet my sister. It's a good thing that our other sister was still in town and planning on going to the airport as well, because we didn't hit the road until the time the plane was supposed to be landing.

After filling gas tanks and grabbing the last few things we'd been asked to pick up (ice, ice cream, beer), the three of us girls got in my family's suburban with Little Bear—Matt got to have the nice quiet Jeep to himself—and we started off on our roughly four-hour trip south to my parents' cabin. We switched drivers in Delta, 90 miles south of Fairbanks, because Little Bear was all done with not being able to interact with Mama, but overall he was really good on the drive. He was quiet, kind of uncertain and intimidated, on the boat ride down the lake, but was very happy to see Grandma waiting on the dock when we got to the cabin! 

That night everyone stayed up really late: I think they shot fireworks off around 10, and sat out on the deck watching the lake and talking after that. It's hard to go to bed when it's still sunny and beautiful out at 11 pm! Matt and I had planned to sleep in a tent since all of the beds in the cabin were spoken for, but as soon as we stuck Little Bear in the tent, it became clear that he hadn't agreed. "Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!" he exclaimed, a worried wrinkle between his eyebrows as he shook his head back and forth. "Tent? Oh no, oh no!"

We gave the tent a good try, but when he woke up crying for the second time at 2:30 am, we gave in and hauled our sleeping pads and blankets into the cabin and camped out under the table, where Little Bear slept soundly for the rest of the night.

We really enjoyed being at the cabin with the rest of my family, and hopefully next time we'll be able to stay longer—we weren't there even a full 24 hours, but we needed to time our drive home Saturday so that Little Bear could nap in the car and wake up early enough that he'd sleep well at home. We stopped a few times to get out and stretch our legs after Little Bear woke up, and got home, had the car unloaded and everything unpacked and put away, and were in bed by 8:30!

Sunday we got up painfully early to go to the 7:30 Mass with the rest of my family; I'm not sure if Little Bear was so well-behaved because we wound up in the third row from the front or because he was still sleepy, but Matt and I were sure tired... back to the 9 or 9:30 Mass for us next weekend! After brunch with my family Little Bear got a good nap, and Matt did an impressive job of packing far more into the Jeep than I thought it could hold. We made supper for our landlords who are moving out of state tomorrow, and after cleaning up took the loaded Jeep to the new house to put boxes in the garage. (We have a garage! So excited.) while there we discovered that something is wrong with the thermostat; even though it's turned all the way off, the bedroom baseboards were on and the thermostat in the master bedroom is registering 90 degrees. We don't want to be paying for heating fuel already! Matt called and left the landlord a message, and we went home.

It sounds like we might be fortunate enough to have gotten another great landlord in this new place, though; when we woke up this morning, Matt noticed that he'd gotten a text from the new landlord at 12:59 am saying that he was going to head over and try to fix the thermostat problem, and he'd call in the morning to let us know what had been wrong.

So it was a great, full, crazy busy weekend! And the "crazy busy" part spills over into this week: furniture-moving day is set for either Saturday or Sunday, whichever winds up working for my dad and brother, so I have to get everything else boxed and bagged before then and ferry as much over as I can. Plus, this afternoon Little Bear has his 2-year-old well-child checkup and vaccines. And the buyer of our current place was supposed to do a final walkthrough at 2:30 this afternoon before signing on the sale, but this morning she up and changed the time to noon. So she'll be showing up any minute now and cutting Little Bear's nap short... We're going to have a very unhappy boy this evening. Hopefully taking him to Grandma's house right after the doctor's office will help a little bit!

And I will post photos from the weekend, I promise; they're all on Matt's phone or my siblings' cameras right now, since I left my phone in the car at the boat launch while we were at the cabin. Hopefully I'll be able to get some soon.

30 June 2014

Weekend in photos, and news!

I shouldn't have put that "and news" at the end of the title, because there's no way I can wait until the end of the post to say this: we got the duplex we applied to rent last week!!! It's beautiful, and we're so happy to be moving there, and to know finally where we will be living and what's happening for at least the next year.

Matt got the call offering the place to us if we were still interested yesterday afternoon, and we will be signing the lease in the next couple of days. I'm so glad that the timing worked out the way it did, because around noon today, he found out that someone else was hired for the job in Indiana. Because we didn't know that yesterday, we were really able to make a free decision that "no matter whether we're offered the job in Indiana or not, we want to stay here and move into the new duplex." It's a little thing, and maybe it wouldn't have made a difference, but it seems possible that if we'd heard that Matt didn't get the job before we heard about the duplex, being able to rent the duplex might have seemed like a "consolation prize," and we might not have been as happy and excited about it as we are. Overthinking it? Probably.

Paperwork for our current landlords' sale is messy because they leave partway into July, so we're going to have to pay for July in both places, but I'm trying to look at that as a positive: this way we can move into the new place whenever we're able and still have plenty of time to thoroughly clean the old one.

So that's our excitement right now! Time to start packing up boxes, making a list of what we'll need for the new place and looking on Craigslist/at garage sales, plus lists of people and companies that will need our new address, utility companies that need to be contacted, questions to ask our new landlords... Yes, I need lists to function effectively. It sounds like we'll probably start moving boxes once we sign the lease and get the keys, but won't actually "move in" (furniture, etc) until next week. We have enough going on just with prepping, packing, and getting ready to celebrate the Fourth of July with my family.

As for the weekend photos that I promised... I really thought I did a good job of taking pictures this weekend, and maybe there are more on Matt's phone, but it looks like pretty much all I have are photos from cooking supper on Saturday and Sunday! Sorry I don't have anything more interesting, but both meals did turn out well... And given my track record of photo-taking, having this many photos of anything from a 48-hour period is an accomplishment!

Saturday: bourbon chicken on the grill with peppers and onions

Little Bear made sure Matt had "music" while he was grilling

So much grilled deliciousness! Usually we would just make a reasonable amount for supper that night and put the rest of the pack of chicken breasts in the freezer uncooked. But we figured that we're trying to empty our freezer right now, so we should grill all five and have wonderful leftovers for the next few days. It was definitely a good plan!

Sunday: sole meunière with rice and green salad

Dredge three-quarters of a pound of Pacific Dover sole in flour with a little bit of salt and pepper 

Brown three tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook sole a few pieces at a time, not allowing them to touch, for one and a half minutes per side

My first attempt at French cooking, and a recipe which was apparently Julia Child's first experience of French cuisine, was a success! And it was incredibly easy; I was able to make the rice and salad while the sole cooked, even with a whiny toddler hanging on my knees. I'll definitely try making it again some time if I find sole on sale again.

Using these quantities yielded three largish servings; one for Matt, one for Little Bear to share with me, and one left over. I don't know how well it would reheat, although I'd be reluctant to try... Instead I chopped up the leftovers and added them to my leftover tilapia and vegetable medley from Thursday and made soup. Little Bear ate the soup more eagerly than I've ever seen him eat anything that wasn't straight carbs, so it looks like a fish chowder will be appearing on our supper menu in the near future!

29 June 2014

Answer Me This

Matt and I were talking on the way home from Mass today about how living in Alaska makes it hard for you to live anywhere else, but not just for the reasons you might initially think. There's the natural beauty and ability to get out and do things, of course; the lower taxes; the less restrictive laws on many things. But also, we are comfortable dealing with the threat of large animals, but not with small-but-dangerous ones (snakes, ticks, poisonous bugs and spiders, etc). And we're good at handling cold, but can't take heat: it was probably about 70 F this midday, and we were sweltering. Little Bear was very unhappy in Mass, and I can't even blame him because it was so awfully hot. I do realize that makes me sound like a total wimp, but come January, I'll be happily wearing knee-length skirts to Mass without leggings at -10 F.

(Not that I want it to be January right now. A little cooler would be pleasant, but I'm not ready to lose the sunshine yet!)

No photo for What I Wore Sunday this week since Little Bear was desperate for a nap when we got home, but before I start this week's Answer Me This, I have to show you what we wound up having for dinner for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on Friday:

So many delicious peppers! This photo was taken mid-preparation; I unfortunately forgot to put the rest of the peppers and the pepperoni (solemnity=meat on Friday!) under the cheese, so the finished pizza was not as impressive. I'll try to remember to do it in the right order next time!

1. How often do you take public transportation?
Never. When I was in high school taking classes at the university here I rode the city bus to work afterward a couple days a week, but since moving back after college outside I haven't ridden the busses once. They only just recently expanded the bus lines to include the area where we live, and since I try to consolidate my errands to just one or two days so I'm not running to town all the time, I typically have to go to far enough apart places that multiple bus changes and long waits would be involved, and it's just not worth trying to navigate that with an angry toddler right now.

2. How many cousins do you have?
Nine cousins on my dad's side, two cousins (plus two step-cousins... is that a thing?) on my mom's, and two cousins-in-law plus their wives on Matt's side. And I don't really know any of them. I've met most of them, but since I grew up in Alaska and none of the rest of my extended family lives here, we never got to know our cousins growing up.

3. Have you ever fired a gun?
Yes, many times. Purely for target practice; I've gone along bird hunting but never gotten anything, and haven't actually been game hunting. Matt has, though, and is looking forward to the upcoming moose season.

4. Do you ride roller coasters?
No. I have what's called binocular instability, which means that my eyes are constantly trying and re-trying to focus independently instead of working together. It's not a problem most of the time--I just tend to perpetually have a slight headache--but roller coasters are definitely one of the things that I can't visually deal with: they move way too quickly for me to be able to see.

5. What's your favorite flower?
That's hard! I love the appearance and scent of hydrangea and heliotrope, but they don't grow well here. Bleeding hearts and lily of the valley are so pretty and delicate, and do well in partially shady spots. If I could just scatter something in a flower bed and let it run riot, though, I think it'd be columbine in a mix of colors.

6. Are you allergic to anything?
There are a couple of medications I discovered I was allergic to in college, but so far that hasn't really been a problem; there's usually something similar I can take that does the same thing. I'm also allergic to caffeine, though, which can really be frustrating! Coffee, tea, chocolate... I do still have moderate amounts occasionally, especially of chocolate!, but I can always feel it afterward.

27 June 2014

SQTF 94: Crock pot fish, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, maybe movingeventually?

Is everyone else getting tired of hearing that we don't know what's happening? I'm sure getting tired of living with the uncertainty! Still no word on the job in Indiana; it's still listed as "interviewing." Our landlords sign the sale papers and leave the state in 10 days. We've officially given notice that we'll be out of this apartment by the end of July... even though we don't know where we're going. We submitted an application on the upper level of an upstairs/downstairs duplex on Wednesday, and are hoping to hear on that soon. The ad said it was available "July," so hopefully that means the beginning of July and they'll be eager to get new renters in quickly, and that we'll be those renters!

It would be great, if crazy stressful, to find out that we could move in July 1. Great because friends who've offered to help will still be in town then, and because we'll have a houseguest over the Fourth of July weekend and it would be nice to be at least partially moved in before he gets here. Crazy stressful because July is only three days away, and have we started packing anything? Nooooo. We've wanted to wait until we actually had a place lined up to move into, so that we don't spend a couple of weeks living out of boxes, and I have to pack things differently for moving them across town in the back of someone's truck than for moving them across the country in a conex. But at this point I think I'd definitely take living out of boxes over living with the stress of "if they let us rent this place we'll have to pack everything immediately and I don't have any boxes and there's so much stuff..." And we've decided that whichever happens first, housing here or a job there, will be the one we'll go with. So that doesn't exactly help with figuring out which type of moving to pack for, but it's been long enough since his interviews that we aren't really holding onto too much hope for the job anymore...

Enough of the situational stressfulness. Here's what we had for supper Thursday night: 

"Crock pot fish just sounds wrong," according to my husband. And it kind of does, I agree, but we were both pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. (Okay, this is still tangentially related to moving...) Because we're trying to use up the food we have so there's less to move, and are doing a decent job of it, there weren't many choices when I opened the freezer that morning, and I settled on the package of tilapia filets that we had both agreed were awful the first time I made them. But because I was foolish and got a family-sized package, we had to have them at least once more. Fortunately, we were saved by this book:

which one of my mother's friends recently handed on to me. In what had to be a case of divine providence, the only page with a turned-down corner in the whole book was this one:

I subbed tilapia for the halibut, broth for the wine, and it was wonderful. Next time I'll try it with the wine; I used broth because I didn't think the alcohol would cook off as much since it would be covered through the whole cooking time and Little Bear would be eating it, but he really only ate carrots and broccoli so it didn't matter anyway.

Happy (belated) solemnity of the Sacred Heart (yesterday) and Immaculate Heart of Mary (today)! Forgive my scatterbrainedness; I should have started off with this. Little Bear took a ridiculously early nap yesterday, so we were able to make it to noon Mass. And because it's a solemnity (i.e. a really big deal), there was no Friday abstinence yesterday. We're supposed to feast and celebrate the day! Matt kept reminding me of that all week as I kept talking about making soup for supper.  Catholic Cuisine has a lot of neat ideas for yesterday and today, mostly for desserts.

In just a week, Little Bear will be two years old. That's incredible! How has it been that long? Matt and I were talking the other night about how the past few years seem to have gone so quickly, and yet individual days can feel so very long. Individual half hours, even, like this morning when I was trying to talk on the phone and Little Bear was sticking spoons in the coffee grinder and trying to drink from the jam jar. Sometimes I can look at this stage and call him "curious" and "inventive," but more often it seems like it's "child, you make me crazy!" 

We are planning to spend his birthday at the lake with my family, in a tent outside their cabin if it isn't raining. I'm sure we'll all have fun, and I hope the trip winds up being a needed break from stress for Matt and me. We're waiting to actually celebrate his birthday until after we get settled into a new place, so Little Bear gets to have two birthdays this year! (But he'll still just be 2. I have to clarify that for any of my siblings reading this who would otherwise try to convince our gullible youngest sister that Little Bear is turning 3 and catching up to her!)

I've seen all of my siblings do it, and probably most of the other little kids I've known, but somehow I assumed that sticking your arms out behind you and running around making airplane-type noises was something little kids learned to do by watching older kids do it. Apparently not, because Little Bear has never seen anyone do it, but yesterday evening, totally out of the blue, he started running as fast as he could back and forth between the kitchen and living room, arms outstretched, yelling "Aaaahhh!" with a huge grin on his face. The grin turned to giggles, then laughing so hard he couldn't stand upright, when Matt started copying him. The two of them laughing together is pretty much my favorite sound in the world.

Can't think of anything else, so I'm just going to end with this wholly irrelevant photo of my middle sister mowing the lawn. Isn't she pretty? Somehow she manages to look graceful even while she's doing yard work.

Have a good weekend! Visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.