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Saturday, October 30, 2010


There are A LOT of bail bond locations here. HUGE signs that say "drug dealers destroy communities" and "Meth Kills"... Olympia has huge signs that say "Plant a tree" or "Buy Local".
Olympia...bring your own bag to the supermarket is a staple for many families...here...it is almost a contest to see how many bags they can give you at the store...one can of tomato soup for one bag...one bag for the chicken noodle...oh and this huge case of 24 soda's with a sturdy carboard handle- let's throw that in a bag.
Olympia... "poop scoop stations" EVERYWHERE... bags for your dogs provided at every park, at many points. Many along sidewalks, etc... here.... I think someone would look at you the same way as Olympians do when you DON'T clean up after your pet- if you DID....disgusted...
Olympia- recycle stations everywhere- electric car hook ups in parking lots... Our condo- (nor anywhere else that I have seen) No recycle option and a $50 fine for putting cardboard down the garbage shoot.
Washington beaches...windy and cold even on the nicest of days. Beaches here... let's just say I had rollarbladed nearly 4 miles and the kids in the stroller  when they wanted to play in the sand and I was happy to stop and dip my feet in to cool off.... not even REMOTELY refreshing... in fact I think the water was hotter than the inside of my rollarblades! White sandy beach, paddle boarders and wind surfers everywhere.
Olympia...travel 4 miles...takes maybe 7-10 minutes... Miami....15-25 minutes
Olympia...umbrella's are used for rain...Miami...umbrella's are used for shade from the sun. I am yet to see if it is mostly "foreigners" (people who did not grow up here) that use the umbrella's here... I know in Olympia- not many who have lived there their whole life ever use umbrella's... I myself have NEVER owned one except when I was a child and used it more like a boat in the puddle or to fly like Mary Poppins rather than to cover my head.
Cold packs...the kind you can freeze and then use in your cooler and then re-use. Next to impossible to find here....here-where a cold day is 75 degrees... I went to 6, yes six, stores (Grocery stores, home depot, walgreens, etc...) to try and find some for Michael's lunch cooler for work...NONE had them, 2 had never even heard of them. I finally went to Wal Mart thinking that they would at least have them... they did! They were about the size of...well, even smaller than my fist! I had to buy them out of the 15 they had just to be able to keep one cooler cool! Is it just me or shouldn't those be a staple here?


Hungry for interaction with other kids, since we have no friends here, Elle is taking ballet. She had her first class yesturday. The teacher was excellent, very clear spoken, fun, made eveything a game or a story... Elle really enjoyed it. The other kids have been in the class since early September so for the most part they had the motions down, Elle sort of reminded me of myself when trying to do work out videos... as soon as you figure out what to do, they move on to the next thing!  HA! But she enjoyed herself and half the fun was dressing up in tights, tutu, and ballet slippers and getting her hair all put up (yes, she IS my daughter...WAY more girlie than I ever was). She got to do some tap too. Loud shoes... a child's dream...a mother's nightmare....=)
On the way home from here there was a TERENCHAL (sp?) down pour! I had the wipers on full blast and still couldn't see 5 yards in front of me. The roads became rivers in just a few minutes and there was thunder crashing and lightning stricking all around us. It was incredible. Poor Michael was working in it...but it was pretty spectacular. I love thunder storms and this one was definately the most dramatic one I've ever been in.

Children's Museum

The place was PACKED. I could hardely believe it. Elle was enthralled (sp?) with all the kids. I think there were at least 6 bus loads of kids there from schools, plus all the other individuals. I have still never been to the Children's museum in Olympia so I have nothing to compare this to, but it other than how packed it was and you couldn't hear eachother even from 2 feet away, it was nice. Elle really enjoyed it. I think it'd be even more great for 5 year old's and older. It was not stroller friendly and it was tough on my own to keep my eye on Elle and chase Christian all over the place-as he is in the "run away" phase and could care less if he stays where he can see me/I can see him. They both LOVED driving the remote control boats in in the pool, there was a puppet show of the 3 little bears that Elle really enjoyed. Elle even went "fishing" off a boat and caught three "fishes"- she was so proud of herself... and me too, those fish are tought to catch! (the magnet kind, with the magnet "hook" and magnet in the fish's mouth) The best part of all, that I need to create at our place is the pretend grocery store. They had little carts, all sorts of fake food, real registars and check out stands. She absolutely loved it. She could have played that for hours. I think I am going to start saving food boxes and cans to tape back up and set up a store for her. Christian enjoyed putting things in and out of the cart as well.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Where are the Florida oranges?!

First Africa, now Austrailia..... no grocery stores have oranges from...ahem... FLORIDA! Someone educate me... do oranges not grow at this time of year? They don't store well, what? What possible reason is there that no grocery stores down here sell FLORIDA oranges? There are at least a dozen billboard signs as you drive into the state with pictures of lucious oranges and statements of encouragement to purchase these juicey delites...my mouth has been watering for them since....but where are they?!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Pride has completely changed my daughter. We go to the pool daily and every day she pushes herself to do more and more things learning how to swim. Other than the one day on Sunday when Michael watched Christian while it was just her and I at the pool, I basically just watch Christian and keep my eye on her. I am not involved with what she is pushing herself to do- the ideas are hers and the execution is done out of my reach. (although I am ready at every moment to pounce if she ever did go under.)
The last 3-4 days have totally changed her. She is so proud of herself. I consider myself to be a positive mom. I give positive reinforcement to her regulary during the day (even hourly)... you know, "way to listen first time", "oooo, nice letters you are writing", "wow! I didn't know you could..."...but this is so different. She would be just as proud of herself if I wasn't even commending her for her bravery and skills in the water. This is a pride that no one would be able to take from her if they tried. It is a true experiance for her. I can see her process her fear before she jumps, her focus, her concentration with how far she is from the wall or the steps in relation to how far she was the last time, I can even hear her talk herself through it at times...and she triumphantly does it! She jumps, her face goes under water and she keeps it under water intentionally (to push herself as this is a new skill) and kicks and paddles to the step before bringing her face up with a conquering smile.

It absoluetly affects our entire day. That hour in the pool changes her. She is obediant, doesn't argue or try and debate me, she isn't just happy, she's joyful. Her confidance gained carries her through things that otherwise would be difficult for her or "worth the battle". The way she is able to CONTROL her fear while jumping and going under water, makes controling everything else (where we are going, what she is eating, what tone of voice she should use, how she is dressed, etc...) no longer as important to her. It is a truly remarkable transformation.

So...therefore, I am sold. Children need this kind of pride and confidence. They need to be given the opportunity to become successful at something difficult (even if it's just difficult in their minds) and feel like they did it themselves.  I'm not saying I 'had' a bratty child, or even a disobediant one, or anything like that. I actually think we have always had her trained well (certainly with failing moments...but overall...) and she's always been a very happy girl (except for maybe the hours between 8pm and 8am for the first 3 years of her life)...but it is just different now.  So FIND IT, find what your child wants to learn (something that would be challengeing) and figure out how to enable them to learn it on their own or with you "behind the scenes" as much as possible.
 I can't express how much easier my day is because of this transformation. There are no longer those petty battles with her, or "control" battles, she doesn't get jealous of attention given to Christian anymore and is just all around a more confident person, happy to do what we have taught her is right.

Also, I know this is the "right" kind of pride because she immediately wants to share the joy of it with others. She anxiously tries to teach Christian to do it too "come on, it is so much fun", or "you can do it!" and tells me that she can now give me "swim lessons" if I want, because "she is ready". =) She wants to help others to be good at what she is good at and that's how I know it is a pride/confidance that I want to encourage.
On a lighter note, she did tell me this evening that maybe she still needed swim lessons so she could "learn how to breath underwater"...  ;)

four chairs and a sheet

I remember making forts like this when I was a kid. My brothers and I were only allowed to eat sugared cereal (lucky charms was my favorite) on Saturday morning. So we would make some magnificant fort and eat a rediculous ammount of sugared cereal and watch cartoons. I had totally forgotten about it until Elle made this one. Great entertainment for young kids... almost more time (and fun) in "building" it than actually playing in it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

I was itching to bake yesturday, to make something from scratch, to fill this foreign smelling condo with a "baking scent"...so Elle and I made Cinnamon Rolls. I have literally been to the grocery store 6 (yes, SIX) times since I have been here, and I have not even been here a week. It is amazing how many things you just have when you cook/bake often that lasts a while and you don't really consider often. Well, here I started with hardly anything- I brought along some recently purchased items from Azure Standard like organic flour, sugar and black beans- but other than that I mainly brought baby food and child's snaks. Every time I try and make a meal I find myself realizing I don't have a very basic ingrediant that I always would have had on hand back home.
Homemade meals really are cheaper than eating out (not to mention way healthier) all the time, but when you are starting with having to re-buy everything like baking soda, baking powder, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, spices, seasonings, etc... it gets spendy fast!
So Elle and I made these cinnamon rolls after carefully checking the ingrediants and going to to grocery store to get all that we needed. I put them in the fridge to chill overnight with the plan to get up an hour before Michael had to leave for work to set them out and cook them and put icing on them so they could enjoy them warm that morning.... As they were cooking, I began to make the icing (which had a separate ingrediants list)... and had no powdered sugar! It was 4:30 in the morning and no grocery store close enough to make it there and back in time, let alone worth risking who knows what being out in this area in the dark... so the kids and I had icingless cinnamon rolls this morning... but we made our 6th grocery run this afternoon and I got powdered sugar, so we'll try again tomorrow. =)

Here's the recipe: (altered from Better Home and Gardens Cook book)
Prep: 45 Minutes    Rise: 1 hour     Chill: 2-24 hours (or not at all)
Stand: 30 Minutes (if you choose to chill)   Bake: 20-25 minutes 
Oven: 375 degrees    Makes: 24 rolls

4 3/4-5 1/4 Cup of all-purpose flour                                      Vanilla Glaze:
1 package dry active yeast
1 Cup milk (I think whole milk works best)                           In a small bowl stir together 2 1/2 Cups
1/3 Cup butter                                                                        powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons light colored
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar                                                      Olive Oil, 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla. Add
1/2 teaspoon Salt                                                                    enough half and half to reach drizzeling
3 eggs                                                                                      consistancy. (about 2-4 Tablespoons)
1 Cup packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 Tablespoon Cinnamon
3/4 Cup butter
a few Tablespoons of half and half
1 recipe of Vanilla Glaze

Optional add ins:
Raisins, pecans, chocolate chips, peeled and diced apple chunks (I used these)

1. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 1/4 Cups of the flour and yeast. In a saucepan heat and stir milk, 1/3 Cup butter, granulated sugar, and salt just until warm (120-130 degrees F) and butter almost melts; add to flour mixture along with eggs. Beat with electric mixer (or a strong arm as I did...) on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on high speed 3 minutes. Stir in as mush of the remaining flour as you can.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (about 3-5 minutes). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a greased bowl; turn one. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (about an hour).
3. Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in  half. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease two 9x1 1/2 inch round baking pans or 2 baking sheets; set aside. For filling, stir together brown sugar, the 1/4 C flour, and cinnamon; cut in 1/3 Cup butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Roll each half of dough into a 12x8 inch rectangle. Using 1/2 of remaining butter on each rectangle, spread butter evenly over dough. Sprinkle filling over butter. If desired sprinkle any optional add on's at this time. Roll up each rectangle starting from a long side. Seal seams. Slice each roll into 12 peices. Place cut sides down in prepared pans or baking sheets.
5. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap, leaving room for rolls to rise. Chill for 2-24 hours. Uncover; let stand at room tempature for 30 minutes. (Or, to bake rolls right away, don't chill the dough. Instead, cover loosely; let dough rise in a warm place undtil nearly double, about 30 minutes.)
6. Break any surface bubbles with a greased toothpick. Brush dough with half and half. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until light brown (you may want to cover the rolls with foil the last few minutes to prevent over browning). Remove from oven. Brush again with half and half. Cool for 1 minute. Drizzle with Vanilla Glaze. Serve warm.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The trash commitment

I have never used a trash shoot before. It is unbelieveably stressful! You take the bag full of garbage down the hall, open the door, pull the metal handle back and drop in the trash bag... it should be simple... but once you drop it...it's GONE! I just can't seem to get over it... What if something was in there I will realize later that I need? What if the kids dropped something in there I didn't see? A bill? My cell phone? A phone number on scrap of paper? A sentimental toy? ...I am not a material person, we don't have very many nice things let alone anything that I would be really upset if I lost (basically just the ring on my finger, a couple of stuffed animals of the kids and some furniture that I didn't even bring with us) but it still never fails me to hesitate before dropping the bag and then standing there for a moment after waiting for that "moment after memory" to occur that never fails to kick in when it is already too late, and then all the way back to the room I go over in my mind what "might have been in there"...
My conclussion on the trash shoot is that the stress far out weighs the convienance... I miss having haul my garbage to the can off the back deck and then 700' down the driveway to the curb... at least then I had a whole week to rummage through and get anything that accidently found it's way there or caused too much remorse to get rid of... this being said... I cannot think of a SINGLE time that I have EVER gone and "retrieved" ANYTHING from the trash...humm... maybe the garbage shoot isn't so bad.
This city living is making me crazy... a post about garbage?! What am I thinking....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Here's a capture I got of Elle the first full day we were here. I was putting things away and she was playing in our room building a "boat". I noticed it got quiet and went to investigate and found this. She slept like this for over an hour. Cozy kid.

We have been practicing Spanish since we've been here. I will probably butcher the spelling (much like I do with the English language as well) but I thought I'd share what we're learning and if anyone wants to teach us a few essentials- that'd be great. It is so fun learning with a 3 year old- languages come so easy for them. Rapido=fast. Coma-es-ta?= how are you?. Muy bien=very good. Gracias=Thank you. Daynota=you're welcome. Ola=hello. Senta=jump. and of course the numbers 1-10. Minuteo=minute. Porfevoir=Please. I think that's it. She has got them all down except for Coma-es-ta? she usually says something like "Coma-mushy-tineo"....so funny.
I have to just throw this in because I'm not sure where else to put it and it was such a shock. We went to the grocery store and started in the produce section and I was excited to get yummy Florida oranges... I saw the oranges and started putting them in the bag.... until I saw... "grown in Africa"...AFRICA!? I put them back and looked thoroughly for the other section of oranges... there were none... they had NO Florida oranges, only ones from Africa! That would be like a grocery store in Washington not carrying any WA grown apples! I was shocked.

Alligator Farm

These are the geese I wanted to get last year when we got Elle's chicks....but they're over $50 per gossling... but aren't they beautiful!

They look fake!

My little man is growing up fast!

Elle touched the tail when I was holding it... then she asked if she could touch it's mouth.... nope! =)

Elle kept asking to see the Aligators and Crododiles since she learned we were moving to Florida. When I was teaching her states I "tagged" each state with something to stand out for her and those were Florida's (Montana's where the cowboys go... Maine's where the lobsters live etc... I made it into a song for bath time and she loves it.). So we went to the Alligator farm today down by the Everglades. She loved it. I feared she was all talk and when it was time to see them up close, she would burrow into my chest, but she didn't. It was fun. We didn't stay too long the kids are still getting climatized and it was HOT out, but I started a new tradition (if you could call it that) I got the kids a book from the gift shop. I am going to try and buy them a book each time we go do something special and then write in each book where we got it, what we did that day, how old they are, etc... I thought that'd be a fun sort of educational way to remember where they've been.

The pool

Elle loves the pool here. Today her and I spent a lot of time there and every day she gets more and more comfortable in the water. But today was a break through for me with her that I thought I would share for anyone else who has a VERY strong will and "I'll do it myself" type personality. (And I'd love any ideas/examples anyone else may want to share with me! It takes a village!)
 I have a challenging time teaching her things that require a process--she is super easy to teach facts to, but actions are much more difficult because she is so determined to lead- not follow. I want so much for her to learn not only how to follow directions about things that are not easy to do but also that good leaders are leaders who know how and what it is like to follow.
So with the swimming it has been a real process trying to encourage her to do more things in the water, without pushing her to where she doesn't like it or is scared of the water. So today I took a new approach and asked her to teach me. (really the best way to learn anyway) She LOVED it. I said "okay I am going to show you real quick how to use your arms and then you're going to teach me how to do it." We made our hands into "closed bear claws" and "scoop scoop scoop"ed the water behind us. And then she taught me- ever so carefully- correcting me and using her hands to show me and to push my fingers together. I pretended to wonder why we want our fingers together instead of appart,  and we "contemplated" it, etc... It worked great and in less than 10 minutes I made more progress with her than the last 3 pool visits combined. Her "getting" to teach ME meant so much to her and she was so proud of herself and it was obvious that the techniques will not be forgotten.