Saturday, July 31, 2010

Samba, baby!

I get to go out to dinner at a real restaurant tonight.  By "real" I mean that I don't think they have a kid's menu.

I'm going to wear my Spanx and my shaping camisole. 

I bought a new tube of mascara specifically for the occasion.

I will not wear flip flops.  I will take the pack of Pampers wipes out of my purse.

If things get really crazy, I may even decide to spray on perfume before we leave. 

I am going to have a cocktail and eat meat served from a sword.

Tonight I get to be a real grown-up.

Samba, baby.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anniversary Giveaway!

Two years ago, I started a blog.  I wanted an easier way to share what was happening with our lives and our kid (just the one baby at the time!) with the rest of our family.  So, on August 6th, I wrote a post about how I was going to turn my computer time into something constructive. 

In the beginning, I wrote about how teething was turning Isaiah into a monster and shared a photo of him doing his "evil genius laugh" as he cackled about how he was eventually going to take over the world. 

Brett Favre had just un-retired to sign with the Jets.  I was mad.  So I wrote my third blog post ever about my former quarterback.  I got a little riled up, I'll admit it.  Little did I know that he would eventually become a Minnesota Viking and I would declare him dead to me.  Ah, good times!

Two years ago, Jenn Van Wyk was trying to launch her photography business and was looking for people to let her take some pictures.  Even in the early days of her business, it was clear she was going to be successful.  Now she's booked up several months in advance and I'd like to think it all started with this photo of Isaiah!  (Not that it actually did, but I like to think that.)

Jon and Kate were still married, we took Isaiah to his first Brewers game, Michael Phelps was in the process of becoming the most decorated Olympian in like the history of the world or something, and Isaiah was learning to stand up on his own.

Here we are two years later and I'm so happy you are here to join in on the journey with us!  To celebrate, I am proud to present our VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY!!!  Can I get a "Woot!  Woot!!"  Just as a way of saying "Thank You!" for being a reader of The Arena Update, I have TWO fabulous prizes to give away!

FIRST PRIZE - $25 Gift Card to Amazon.comOne lucky winner will get to choose whatever they want from Amazon's massive selection of items.  If you can imagine it, Amazon probably has it!

SECOND PRIZE - $5 Gift Card to  Even our runner-up will get to pick something out from Amazon's superstore!

P.S.  If you're stuck on something to get, I can recommend some wonderful choices from My Birthday List!!  Just kidding!  Kind of.

You can enter up to SIX TIMES!  To enter the giveaway, leave a separate comment each time you do one of the following:

1.  Leave a comment telling what you would score from Amazon with your gift card!
2.  Become a follower of The Arena Update.  Click on the "Follow" button under the heading "My Awesome Readers" on the right side of the page and then tell me about it in a comment.  If you already are a follower, that counts too.
3.  Subscribe to my RSS feed using Google Reader, Feed Burner, etc.
4.  "Like" The Arena Update on Facebook and share with your friends how they can enter the giveaway!  Again, if you already do this, just leave a comment letting me know!
5.  Follow me on Twitter and tweet this giveaway!  Copy and paste the following and tweet away!
Want to pick your prize? Enter to win an Amazon Gift card at The Arena Update from @slkooiman!
6.  Grab my button from the right side of the blog and post it on your website/blog.  Leave me a comment with your URL so I can go check it out!

Giveaway closes at 11:50 pm on August 5th.  The winner will be chosen by on August 6th and the results will be posted shortly thereafter!  So, get after it!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just One Bite

After reading your suggestions following my Lessons in Lunch post, I felt confident I could get Isaiah to start branching out and trying new things.  As it turns out, old habits die hard. 

Isaiah had eaten absolutely nothing for dinner and was trying to tell me he was all done.  I scraped everything off his plate except for one bite of chicken.  I told him he had to at least try one bite of chicken before he would be excused.  It's not like I was trying to get him to eat brussel sprouts, eggplant, or deep fried liver.  It was chicken

Two hours later, Isaiah was still sitting at the table.  Screaming his bloody head off.

I gave him this choice:  Eat the chicken or go to bed.  He chose bed.  We went potty, put on PJs, and he climbed up into 7:00 pm.  It was at that moment that Daddy returned home from his business trip.  I filled him in on what had transpired, so he went in to have a talk with his boy. 

A couple minutes later, Isaiah emerged from his room and popped the chicken in his mouth.

He spit it back out, but at this point I didn't care.  I praised him for actually trying it and he got to play with Daddy until his real bedtime.

I'm at a loss here.  Did I play this one right or was I giving out cruel and unusual punishment?  Was it right to finally let it go at the end?  I welcome your comments!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Project Life Tuesday - July Week Four

Welcome once again to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2010 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family. Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their project over at The Mom Creative!

Sunday, July 18th - One of my favorite things about summer is sweet corn!  Isaiah helped me shuck two dozen ears of sweet corn tonight and I cooked them all.  It made for a hot kitchen, but a start on a decent stock in the freezer.  Too bad I couldn't get the boy to actually eat any of the corn!

Monday, July 19th - Gimme the camera, Mommy!!!

Tuesday, July 20th - That lightsaber has been a favorite toy since he got it at our local fireworks show.  The lights inside it broke shortly after this photo was taken, but he still likes to pretend with it!


Wednesday, July 21st - Micah likes to use noses as teething rings.  And ears.  And knees.  And anything else he can get a hold of!

Thursday, July 22nd - This sky was waiting for me as I crossed the bridge on my way to work.  About 12 seconds after I set foot in the building, the rain starting coming down in sheets and the tornado warning whistle started to sound.  Scary stuff!  And yes, I took this photo while driving.  Please don't tell Oprah.

Friday, July 23rd - I know this photo isn't anything original for me, but I just love these sweet moments of Micah.  He's just so darn cute!

Saturday, July 24th - What is it about little boys and playing with their Momma's heels?

I hope your week is blessed!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lessons in Lunch

Five years ago, I never would have guessed that my life would someday revolve around food and poop.  Now that we've conquered the whole potty training adventure and Isaiah has realized that going #2 in the toilet means he can "poop like Daddy," all is right and good in the world of elimination in our household. 

Food, however, remains a challenge.  Seriously, are all toddlers as freakishly picky as my boy?  If I allowed it, the child's diet would consist of the following:
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • French Fries
Of course, since I am Super-Mom and I would never dream of providing anything other than a nutritionally balanced, organic, farm-raised, GHB free (is that even a legit acronym?) diet to my children, his actual food choices are the following:
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich
  • Sweet Potato French Fries
  • Regular French Fries (when we go to restaurants)
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Hot dogs
  • The occasional cheeseburger
  • Pasta (But it has to be penne or spaghetti.  Other shapes freak him out. Whole Wheat, thank you very much!)
  • Fruit (grapes, raisins, blueberries, peaches, strawberries, blackberries)
  • Fish sticks
  • Yogurt
  • Eggo Waffles
  • Pancakes
Yes, I was being sarsactic.  I've caved like a sinkhole in the middle of Milwaukee.  If I branch out too much from there, I just end up throwing food away.  Yes, I realize there is nary a veggie to be found on that list.  Unless I am sneaking it into the pasta sauce or hiding it inside a cupcake or cookie (both of which I have done successfully, I might add), the child will NOT willingly ingest a veggie.  This is infuriating.

To illustrate the dining conundrum I find myself in, I invite you to join me on a short photographic tour.  First, observe a typical lunch offering.  Micah's plate is on the left, Isaiah's is on the right.

This is about as balanced as I get, people.  Fish, sweet potato fries, cheese, raisins, strawberries, milk. 

When the "All Done!" had been announced and the faces had been wiped, Isaiah's plate looked like this:

Fruit and dairy were a big hit that day.

Micah's plate....well, no surprise here:

And since Isaiah didn't eat any of his fish, he did not get to have his cookie with white beans and wheat germ hidden inside. (Shhhh!! Don't tell!)
On the other hand, I ate Isaiah's leftover fish so the cookie became rightfully mine.

Don't judge me.

So here's my plea to the experienced parents out there.  Throw me a bone and pass along some sage advice on how to get my picky toddler to even TRY something new.  I can't force him (can I?) and I can't punish him for not eating something (can I?) and I certainly don't want to bribe him.  Am I doomed to never see anything green on my child's plate actually get eaten?  Help!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Need or Want?

When one is living on a budget, it becomes neccessary to divide things into categories such as "Need" and "Want."  I need milk, eggs, baby formula, and Diet Pepsi.  I want a pint of Ben & Jerry's, Glee on DVD, and a tummy tuck. 

Most of the time, it's easy to tell when something is a need or a want item.  However, I'm a little stuck when it comes to eyebrows.

Yes.  Eyebrows.

You see, when they're in good working order, they look like this:

However, right now I am looking more like this:

Eyebrow wax:
Need or want? 

Photo of me is by Jenn Van Wyk Photography.  Photo of Susan Boyle channeling my eyebrows was borrowed from Google Images.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lime Rickey Love

My friend Meggan is moving to Spain soon and has had to go through all her stuff and purge out anything and everything she possibly can.  Lucky for me, this also included some amazing scrapbooking supplies!  Thanks to dear, sweet Meggan, I had some delicious Lime Rickey paper by Basic Grey to play with for this layout for Micah's scrapbook.  Paired with a sketch by Alison Davis and a circle cutter I won from Janna Wilson and I ended up with a bright, fun layout I'm really proud of.

I used Bazzill Basics solid cardstock (also gifts from Meggan!) to accent the fabulous patterned paper from the Lime Rickey collection.  Of course, my title was done wtih Thickers by American Crafts and I added a couple rub-ons by Bo Bunny for a little flourish.

I love how this flower added a special element to the left side of the paper.  Even though I guess it's technically a "boy" layout, the flower doesn't feel too feminine because it plays so well with the other colors.

The journaling block was created with a clear stamp on coordinating card stock that I just cut out and mounted with a pop dot.  Add a couple little spots of bling and....DONE!

I am still soooo far behind, but getting this one finished got me one step closer!  Thank you again to Meggan for giving me these wonderful items.  This is really one of my faves thanks to you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Closets

My boys.  One is two and a half years old, tall, and lean.  He wears size 2T or 3T shirts and either 24 month or 2T pants (he's thin!).

The other is ten months old, solid, stout, and weighs nearly 28 pounds.  He wears size 18-24 month clothing. 

This becomes very problematic for closet configuration because I am this close to reaching the point when I can take items directly out of Isaiah's closet and put them into Micah's.  In fact, I recently took the tote of outgrown clothing out of Isaiah closet and was able to nearly entirely empty it into Micah's because 75% of it was 18-24 month clothing!  Isaiah's closet now looks like this:

His brother's looks like this:

I swear to you, Isaiah was just wearing many of those items only months ago.  The totes on the floor are filled with clothing Micah has outgrown.

The great thing with moving all this stuff over is that I was able to resurrect some old favorites.
For instance, the Aaron Rodgers jersey that Isaiah wore only last season should fit Micah perfectly!  I can only hope it will still fit him once football season comes around, but it is only a 24 month so who knows!

No kidding.

This shirt was one of Isaiah's favorites and it just went into the tote maybe 4 or 5 months ago.  I'm just praying he won't get all jealous the first time his brother wears it.
And just to prove that Micah isn't stuck with all hand-me-downs, I couldn't resist documenting my clearance rack triumph at Target for a cute blue 24 month T-shirt!

If Micah continues to grow at the rate he is, I am going to run into the problem of overlapping closets.  But for now, I'll need to worry about finding some clothes for Isaiah to restock his barren closet!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Simply Wicked

Who would have thought that the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch were at one time best friends?  As the promotional poster for the musical Wicked teases us, "So Much Happened Before Dorothy Dropped In."  If you've been privileged enough to enjoy a performance of this blockbuster Broadway musical, you will fully understand why I nearly had a conniption fit when I heard it was going to be coming to my local venue, The Overture Center in Madison, WI.  Thanks to the generosity of my in-laws, I was fortunate enough to see this show in Chicago a couple years back and I was blown away. 

Still have no clue why I would be so jazzed to see a show about a couple of witches?  Take a moment to watch this trailer and then come on back.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.

You dig my jive now?  Rocking show, trust me.  Anywho, Wicked is coming to Madison and I could think of very little I would rather do on a date night with the hubs than to go see it.  However, just as our green-skinned friend was never meant to be homecoming queen or wear sparkly red magic shoes, it was not in the stars that I should be able to enjoy her story once more.

Thanks to the efforts of a bunch of scalpers who swooped in on the early large group ticket sales window, the prices of tickets for Wicked have soared through the roof, as if they were defying gravity (ha ha ha!!!).  The Overture Center made tickets available for large groups early on, so these people bought up a bunch of tickets at lower prices and now are selling them on StubHub and eBay at astronomical rates.  Tickets for the rest of us became available on Saturday and the only ones even remotely in my price range were so far back it would be like watching the show from a hot air balloon (I can just keep going with The Wizard of Oz references!).  But, if I were to try an alternative ticket source, I would end up paying even more!!

For example, according to an article in The Wisconsin State Journal, "A recent search on eBay turned up tickets in the orchestra section for a Friday night show on Oct. 8 — priced by Overture at $86 — selling for up to $288 per ticket including tax and shipping."


Thanks to the scalpers, this Broadway Baby will be staying home.  To read the rest of the article, click here.  If you're fortunate enough to go see this show, enjoy it for me.  But, come on Overture Center.  There must be something you can do to avoid this in the future! It's simply wicked.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We're THAT House.

Apart from having some busted old cars sitting in the front yard and an outhouse out back, I'm beginning to feel like we're becoming "that house" on our street!  Perhaps this stems from the deep insecurities I developed when Evan was last in China for 2 1/2 weeks and our lawn grew so long it looked like someone dropped a house in the middle of a prairie.  I was almost embarrassed to pull into our driveway because I thought people were giving me that "why doesn't that woman get off her duff and mow her lawn already" stare.  For a moment or two, I considered putting up a sign by my mailbox that said, "Husband Gone, Wife Lawnmower Ignorant.  Our Apologies!"  But then I realized that such an advertisement might also be read as, "Worthless Wife Welcomes Burglaries!"  No sign was erected and I held my head in shame until my darling husband returned to the country and saved us.

As in any remodeling project, it has to look worse before it can look better.  Evan rented a power washer last weekend and used it to blast away at the already chipping paint on our back deck and, most importantly, around our door and on our front porch.  In addition, he built a structure to repair the broken cement on the corner of our porch.  Add these two together and the front of our house currently looks like this:

Until we finish the cement repair and repaint, we're back to being "that house."  And yes, I realize my flower bed looks terrible.  Flowers just didn't fit in the budget this year!  It will all start to look better soon.

In the meantime, please don't dump your nasty old refrigerators on my lawn.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Project Life Tuesday - July Week Three

Welcome once again to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2010 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family. Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their project over at The Mom Creative!


Sunday, July 11th - Isaiah helped me whip up The Pioneer Woman's baked french toast recipe.  It sat in the fridge overnight and I baked it Monday morning for an absolutely blissful, butter-induced taste celebration.  Bless you, Ree Drummond.


Monday, July 12th - Isaiah preferred to wail like he was in a hair band, but Ali tended to groove to a more R&B vibe.  What a fun playdate!

Tuesday, July 13th - I actually bought clothes for me today.  No need to alert the TMMO Police; it was with gifted money.  What got me excited was the size on the jeans - size 10!!  Sure, they're still a bit tight, but Old Navy jeans are notorious for stretching out quite a bit.  I buttoned and zipped those bad boys though!

Wednesday, July 14th - Micah discovered he can open the drawers and pull out the DVDs.  I'm in big trouble.

Thursday, July 15th - We got rid of the old fridge, set up a second table, and finally put some stuff up on the walls in my scraproom!  Isaiah and Micah created those painting for me (thanks to Samantha at Mama Notes for the idea) and I absolutely love them in this space.

Friday, July 16th - Lately Isaiah is really big into piling every cushion he can find on the couch so he can bury himself in them and pretend he's inside a volcano. 

Saturday, July 17th - Every year, a large group of bikers descend on our town for a massive ride to raise money for the MDA.  The ride goes right past the restaurant I work at, so we always get to watch the hundreds of very pretty motorcycles drive by, all for a good cause!

Thank you so much for checking out my Project Life this week.  I hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sincerely, Your Waitress.

Dear Restaurant Patron,

There are a few things I think we should talk about.  You see, I've been bringing people food for about ten years now and it's become clear to me that sometimes what one might assume to be unspoken rules are, in fact, not even being considered.  So, let's set the record straight on a few things so I can bring you pie and we can remain friends.

  • Please listen to what I actually say, not what you want to hear.  If I say a dinner comes with a potato and a salad, do not get upset with me when I don't bring you any soup. 
  • A little patience, a please, and a thank you are all it will take to stay on my good side!
  • Your server genuinely wants you to enjoy your meal and have a good experience.  We are NOT out to get you.  That being said, we're also human beings with feelings.  Treat us rudely and there's a good chance we won't give you our best service.  And I can promise we'll be grumbling about you to our coworkers.
  • I am not a dog.  Therefore, do not whistle or snap as a method of getting my attention.  All this will earn you is a bad attitude and an "accidental" iced tea in your lap.
  • There are good servers and there are bad servers.  Not everyone is cut out to do this job and I hope you understand that.  If you get a good server, please tip well.  If you consistently perform at a high level at your job, you would expect to be paid accordingly, would you not?
  • We are humans.  We make mistakes.  But consider this, if you will.  Your waitress who just spilled coffee on you might just be a ditzy clutz, but perhaps she lost the grip on the coffee cup she was carrying because she has rheumatoid arthritis and she's trying the best she can to work through the pain so she can bring home an income to her family.  You never know what the story really is, so cut a little slack.
  • I will never, ever spit in your food.  Ever.
  • Please be honest with me.  If I ask "How is everything going so far?" and you respond, "Fine" I will have absolutely no clue that your steak is overdone or your mashed potatoes are cold.  If you don't tell me, I cannot fix it.  Mind reading is not one of my skills.
  • If something does go wrong, please take a moment to consider why it went wrong.  If it was clearly a kitchen issue or something that most likely had nothing to do with your server, ask to speak to a manager and make them aware of the problem, but please do not take it out on your waitress by cutting her tip!  If it wasn't your server's fault, it's not fair to punish them for it.
If you take nothing else from this, please remember this one thing.
  • Waiting tables is not easy.  It takes a unique personality, time, practice, and a ridiculous amount of patience to get good at this job.  The fact that I am bringing you your food and drink does not mean that I am somehow below you.  A little kindness goes a long way.

Your Waitress.

Photo borrowed from Google Images from the movie "Waitress."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Scraproom Progress

It certainly took us long enough, but we finally got rid of the old fridge that had been left behind by the previous owners of our house which freed up a big chunk of space in my scraproom.  We set up a second table in there to serve as additional table space for me to leave in progress layouts out.  Also, I now have the ability to have a buddy over to scrap with me!  We put a few things up on the wall, moved a couple things around, and now the scraproom is starting to resemble a more complete setup.  I still have some storage solutions to come up with, but I am so grateful to have a functional space to use.  Thank you once again, Evan (and all those whose slave labor we enlisted) for making me such a great room.  Love you.

Probably my favorite thing about my scraproom is the artwork above the second table.  Isaiah and Micah created these canvases for me during their very first finger painting experiences.  I'll admit it - I added the heart at the very end of Isaiah's painting, but the rest was all him!  As for Micah's, Isaiah took over at the end of his and added the flourish you see on the right side of the painting.  Thanks again to Samantha at Mama Notes for the idea of having the boys create these special pieces for my creative space!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cotton Candy

No, not the spun sugar spiked with artificial colors and other crap.  Sorry to disappoint.

I came across these camera straps on a giveaway on Gussy's blog and I instantly fell in love.  Just when I thought I couldn't come up with one more thing to add to my wish list for my camera, I saw this beauty.

It's like turning your DSLR camera into jewelry!!  If you're looking for a unique, handmade, thoughtful gift for the photo enthusiast in your life, check out Cotton Candy by Natalie for one of these gorgeous camera straps.  There are so many beautiful designs that you really can't go wrong!

And no, I wasn't compensated by the shop or even asked to write this post.  I just saw these and fell head over heels.

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