Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Playing Peek-A-Boo



Chronicles of Narnia


Being the book-lover that I am, I hate to admit that I first read the Chronicles of Narnia just last year! I loved them and wish that I had read them as a child. I loved The Lion Witch and The Wardrobe movie too. Well, Prince Caspian comes out in May and I am excited! This was one of my favorite books in the series. Here is an article about it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I love the sight of.....

Daffodils popping through the soil! Spring in on the way!
I am just afraid they are going to bloom while we are in Blythe for vacation. We might have to catch them next year.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Copperhead Island


Gabe loves posing for pictures now as long as he can show Thomas.


I like the picture of Colin and Chad because of the faces they are making.

My birthday Part II

Well, I woke up to quite the surprise this morning! Chad had previously told me that he had a bunch of calls at work today that he couldn't get out of, but that he would try and be home somewhat early. However, this was a huge lie, and though I expected him to be long gone before I got up, I woke up to the smell of him cooking breakfast for me. He made Eggs Benedict from scratch and had fresh fruit with whipped cream on top! I think it was the tastiest breakfast I have ever had. I got to watch Bridge To Terebithia (which was a gift from my Mom and Dad) with Colin while I ate it. It was a lovely, lovely morning.

Then Chad presented a top secret folder to me. In it was the plans for my b-day. He made reservations for me at Maggiano's and then had a hair appointment set up for me after that at the hair salon that I have really been waiting to go to. What a sweetie! I decided that I would save the Maggiano's certificate for sometime that Chad and I could go together, andinstead we all went for a nice jaunt at Copperhead Island. The weather was gorgeous. Then I went for my haircut, and I really liked the salon. I haven't gotten a good picture of the cut yet- I will post one when I do.

After that we all went to Red Robin for dinner - which is a Coleman family tradition. If you didn't know, you can get a free burger there on your birthday, so now it is a fun thing always do. It helps that we all love burgers and their's are soooo tasty. Whew! What a day - now Chad is putting the boys down.

I am going to post pictures seperately because I forgot to load them on here before I started typing and I don't feel like re-writing all of it.

My birthday Part I

We got to have family over last night to celebrate my birthday. I loved it! I feel so lucky to have such nice and fun people living so close by.

When we took this picture of Levi and Audra's family, Gabe jumped up between Bobby and Sabina and posed for a picture. He made it clear who he wants as his family. Notice Thomas in his hand. He will be appearing in many a picture you will be seeing these days. Notice Sabina as well- can I please look like that when I am pregnant? She is always beautiful. And isn't Audra adorable with glasses? Those sister-in-laws of mine!



My sweet husband cleaned the house from top to bottom to get ready and made the delicious dinner. Seriously, I am beginning to wonder how I could get any luckier!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What a relaxing morning!

The pastry and chocolate milk that I got to enjoy all by myself, sitting in the parking lot, in my van, listening to music. Only a mom can appreciate how nice that can be. I can't remember the last time I drank chocolate milk. Ahhhh.


The shoes that I bought, after leisurely strolling around Target for over an hour. My cousin Olivia happened to blog about these very shoes yesterday! Sorry for being a copycat Olivia, but I figured I could get away with it since we live across the country from each other.
After Target I went to Books-A-Million, hoping to buy some of my all-time favorites that I don't own yet. However, they didn't have a single one! I guess they are all about new stuff because they only had one book by Chaim Potok and NONE by Wallace Stegner. Ugh.
So I went to the library and indulged in some light YA stuff(for free!). It was a great morning. I know - I am an incredibly dull and simple person :o)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A little sick of babysitting


Let me just preface my complaint by saying that I honestly don't mind watching other people's kids. I am pretty easy going and they keep my kids entertained, so I really think it's a pretty cool thing. But....


For about two hours today, I had 5 kids in the house, ranging from 2-5. Just two hours with all of them, but the whole day with at least two more than my own. They were all pretty well behaved and I really didn't have that much extra work, but I just didn't feel like doing it today. I think that one of my problems, besides being tired and grumpy, is that it just feels like I am getting nothing out of it (besides, of course, the satisfaction of helping others). My checks just go straight to my bank account where they look quite paltry next to the moolah that Chaddycakes brings in, and I never see exactly how they benefit the family (or me :o).


I haven't done anything fun with the extra money since I got my camera. So I think I should! Nothing big, but maybe this weekend I will go out and get something I don't really need like a new dress or a new pair of shoes! I feel totally selfish just saying that though....I am not a shopping-as-a-hobby type of girl, but WHATEVAH


If I could bring myself to spend $75 on a massage, I would do that, but I just CAN'T.


So give me some good ideas about how to spend less than $30 to buy a little bit of sunshine! Be creative!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

No-nagging policy




Now, most of you wives out there are probably a lot wiser than me. It took me a long time to figure out a lesson that has proved to be vital to a healthy relationship with my husband. I used to nag. I don't think I was out of control, and I don't think it dominated the conversations I held with my husband, but I did nag. If Chad did something around the house in a manner that I didn't approve of, I had no problem mentioning it to him. If he forgot to do something, I would bring it up. If I thought he needed to stop reacting a certain way to a certain situation, I let him know, right then and there.


There came a time in our relationship when we just weren't too happy with each other, and Chad let me know that it seemed like he could never do anything right with me. I scoffed at this idea and chalked it up to him just not paying enough attention or feeling sorry for himself. Afterall, I complimented him all the time - I often told him how proud I was of how hard he worked, how smart he was, how handsome he looked, and let him know every day that I loved him.

It took me awhile to realize that all those words of affection were being completely cancelled out by the Chad's-need-to-improve-list that I was constantly writing for him. I started to realize that (duh!), it wasn't my job to let him know what he needed to work on. I am lucky enough to be married to a man that is constantly striving to improve himself, and it is just my job to be his cheerleader. Afterall, isn't that I want him to be for me?

Still, I was in the habit of complaining to him about what he needed to do differently, not just to his face, but in my head. I needed to break that habit, so I made a goal. I was not going to complain about anything he did or didn't do for a whole week.
ANYTHING.
And I did it. Let me tell you a few things that I discovered.

#1. There are very few things that are worth complaining about. Most of the things that I felt like complaining about really didn't matter that much (I mean, they could easily wait and whole week, so they were truly insignificant), and were things that he already knew my opinion on.

#2. When I nagged him less, it was a lot easier to be happy with all the good things about him, and as the week went on I wasn't even nagging him in my head anymore.

#3. He is so much happier when I nag less and so much more cheerful about doing the things that I want him to do.

I am telling you, a week of no nagging, and you will never ever want to go back. Don't get me wrong - I still let him know sometimes if I am not happy with him or if there is a certain aspect of our relationship that I feel like needs improving. I am still big on honesty and openness in a relationship. I have found that what makes a big difference is how I do it, when I do it, and how often. I try not to make blanket or absolute statements like, "You never spend enough time with the kids" or "You never help out around the house." Statements like that aren't just a complaint, but an attack on his character. I try to be very specific and contain the complaint to one specific incident so that he doesn't feel like I am attacking him.

I also try to never complain while either of us are mad or having a bad day. Even though those are often the times when I feel like complaining the most, the conversation that ensues is rarely productive. And when I bother him less often about things, the occasional complaint is taken more seriously, and he doesn't feel like I am never happy with him.

This no-nagging lesson, in combination with others, makes for a very happy Chad and Katie combination. Sometimes I feel myself slipping and I do the no-nagging-for-a-week again and things inevitably get better.
At this point you are probably either nodding your head in agreement, wondering why I thought I had the right to nag Chad in the first place, or thinking, "Well, that just isn't how our relationship works. Sometimes I need to nag him or nothing would ever get done." I am telling, try it for a week.

Let me just mention two somewhat side notes:

Women can be really bad about complaining to each other about their husbands. Since I started my no-nagging policy, this has stood out to me, and I have realized how much more damaging it is than we realize. I honestly think that "venting" about your spouse rarely does any good, and I think that part of the double standard that women have about men (we can nag them about anything, but don't they dare complain about dinner not being on the table) stems from these venting sessions. I think it is a bad bad thing. Remind me of that, Audra, the next time I start venting about Chad :o)

Also, this nagging thing really really makes a difference in any relationship, including the one with your kids. It is a little trickier with kids because it is our job to discipline them and teach them. However, a lot of the same no nagging principles can be applied with great success.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What I want covering my patio


Now, this is not that impressive by itself, and I was never a huge fan of pergolas until my imagination starting running wild. Picture this pergola with a.....

wisteria climbing up and over it....

or a trumpet vine, if you like the flashier colors.....


or what is more romatic than some climbing roses?
Ahhh. Now do you get the idea? Imagine sitting on the patio on a cool spring evening, enjoying the sunset, dining with friends, while the sweet wisteria scent wafts down on you. Heavenly. A girl can dream (and search all over for an affordable pergola).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day Dew

I think that it's a sign that the freckles in our eyes

are mirror images

One Year Older and Wiser too....

Happy Birthday to You!

Babysitting Colin on your birthday 4 years ago. What a sister!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Movies for Valentine's Day


Okay, there are a lot of really bad romantic comedies out there (ie. Because I Said So, The Prince and Me, Catch and Release), but when they are good, I absolutely love them. Using the term somewhat broadly, here are some of my all-time favorites:


Amelie - the original is rated R, but you can borrow my edited copy anytime. This is one of my absolute favorite movies, and it still melts my heart every time I watch it.


Groundhog Day - a romantic comedy that is as funny as it is romantic. Gets better with each viewing. A little side fact: Chad and I got engaged on Groundhog Day, and I happened to watch this movie that day as well. Wooooo.


As Good As It Gets - An almost cynical love story that is still sweet. It is funniest when I watch it with Chad.


Pride and Prejudice - No one mixes comedy and romance like Jane Austen. I still love the BBC version, but I love the different Darcy interpretation in the new one. Yes, the climax is somewhat silly with them nuzzling in the field, but awwwww, is still makes my skin tingle. This is Katie's ultimate-lie-in-bed-with-tissues-movie. I saw it probably six times last year alone.


You've Got Mail - I didn't really care for this one the first time I saw it, but the more times I watched it on TBS, the more I loved it. What? A movie where the two main characters are friends long before they even kiss? NO WAY!


Anne of Green Gables - Gilbert Blythe still makes my heart thump a little harder. If only the next two movies where as good/faithful to the books. I am a huge fan of the books (like I still read all of them every year) and I am telling you, I just don't know why someone hasn't remade Anne of Green Gables yet with some decent sequels. That darn third movie, don't even get me started on it, with Anne and her smoker's voice, Gilbert's receeding hairline, and the war that Anne's sons actually fought in in the books.....GRRRRRR.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PVHS graduate speaks out


I couldn't resist blogging about this article about someone who graduated from Palo Verde High School, especially after my previous post about sending Colin to school. Good thing they have a great new principal there!

School next year for Colin


As Audra mentioned in her reply about America's Most Miserable Cities, one problem with Charlotte is that it has an absolutely huge school district. The schools vary greatly in quality. Every year you can find Charlotte schools on Parade's list of best high schools, but there are also schools here that I would never want my kid to attend. Since we live in a very new area of Charlotte that has experienced rapid development, our kids are not assigned to the elementary school closest to us, but one about 9 miles away, close to the airport. It is one of those schools that I would never want my kid to attend. Not that is it horrible, but I think a lot of his school day would be wasted, and what is the point of having him go if that is the case?


Some of the pluses of the Charlotte school system are the "magnet programs." These are public schools, or programs within public schools, dedicated to learning philosophies like Montessori and Paideia, and other ones for accelerated learning and talent development. These schools also have varying reputations. Any kid within the district is eligible to attend the ones within their transportation zone, and chosen through a lottery system. Bobby and Sabina's son Santiago currently attends Smith Academy of International Languages, a language immersion school, which is a part of the magnet system. Santi, who is already fluent in Spanish and English, is in the Mandarin Chinese Program, which means his teacher, who is a native chinese speaker, teaches equally in Chinese and English, all day long. He is supposed to be fluent, writing and speaking, in Chinese by the time he finishes elementary school. How cool is that? The school continues through middle school, and when he hits sixth grade he gets to pick up another language. In addition the the language program, the school boasts excellent test scores and very high parental involvement.


Colin starts kindergarten next year, and we have studied up on all the public programs available and decided that this is the one we like the most. Besides the obvious great learning opportunity it provides, it would be nice for him to attend the same school as his cousins (Evan will automatically be accepted when he starts kindergarten because his older brother goes there), and it happens to be the closest magnet program to where we live. I was also quite pleased with Santi's schedule each day - it is very much a kindergarten class, with the kids taking only 15-20 minutes for each activity and lots of moving around.


So when the lottery applications were due a couple of weeks ago, Smith filled all three preference spots on Colin's. #1 was Chinese #2 was German and #3 was Japanese. Now that his application is in, we just have to wait and hear what the lottery results are. We are supposed to receive a letter in March and I know that I will be haunting the mailbox after Feb. 29th.


If Colin doesn't get into this school, I will seriously consider homeschooling him. I never thought I would be interested in homeschooling, but since I have started to see the way Colin learns I have begun to see the benefits of it. I think I could handle kindergarten. Plus I just don't want him to go to the school he is assigned to. There is an elementary school being built next to our subdivision and would we consider sending him there, but that is still a couple of years out. We shall see what happens - I have my fingers crossed for Smith.

C'mon, at least give me a discount on it!

Funny and somewhat disturbing story about Valentine's Day candy.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Should I even mention this?


You know those silly lists like "America's Most Miserable Cities"? Well, uhm, you should probably ignore them. Seriously, just walk away. 'Cause the city that I live in, the city that I plan to live in for a long long time, the city that two of my brothers have moved their families to....was ranked number 9. Gulp.


Yeah, we have a lot of violent crime. We moved here straight from Provo, and watching the news was sometimes scary. We would go, "Uhm, I recognize that intersection where someone was car jacked." Instead of a murder once or twice a year that was breaking news, like it was in Provo, you would hear about a murder every few days, and it would be, like, no big deal. BUT, there are definitely the safer parts of the city, and the parts to stay away from, and after you hear about a couple of murders at Eastland Mall, you just don't go there any more (yeah, I wish someone had told me to never go there in the first place!) Honestly though, Chad used to work nights and I never once felt unsafe in my home at night, even when I knew that our neighbor was buying "hot" big screens. And the neighborhood we are in now....I mean, I haven't heard a police siren once since we moved in last summer.


As far as our unemployment rate goes (which is apparently not great), I had no idea. I guess I just live in a happy bubble with a husband who has held two great jobs here.


I didn't see anything about housing....which is one of Charlotte's huge appeals, in my opinion. Normal, work-classing people can easily afford a home here.


When I first read the title of the list and didn't see what was on the list I thought, "I bet there are a lot of people living in those 'miserable' cities who absolutely love them." Turns out I am one of those people. So bite me forbes.com.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Motherhood


Motherhood is interesting. If you chop motherhood down to the bare minimum requirements, mothers are supposed to feed, clean, and protect their children. On some days, even this is a lot to ask. On those days, I feel like I spend half the morning fixing egg sandwiches, bagels, apple slices and sippy cups - and I don't even have a newborn. I have some memories, that are somehow poignant yet hazy at the same time, of latching a tiny and yellow Colin on every 45 minutes so that he could nurse for another hour and a half - round and round the clock, only to lay him down to sleep underneath his bililights while my mom or Chad watched him and I tried to catch some sleep. During those draining hours, my basics requirements of motherhood were all consuming and seemed very overwhelming. I have never been so anxious in my life. On one of these nights, bursting into tears, I shoved a can of formula at Chad and told him I was going for a walk and probably said something about not knowing when I was going to be back, and ran out the door. The stars overhead, I walked around the apartment buildings, trying to reassure myself that I could actually do this. I was gone for probably ten minutes total.



I don't have a newborn now and my boys are at relatively easy ages. Feeding, cleaning, and protecting them does not take all 24 hours of the day. This is where I think motherhood gets tricky. You can just do the basics, or go way above the basics, and either way when you are walking around with your kids at Target they are going to look just like the other kids. When you go to Chik-Fil-A and your son is playing on the twisty slide, no one is going to say "Wow! You can tell his mom spent time 3 hours setting up his train track with him this morning!" and pat you on the back, just like they aren't going to say "Man, look at him. Too bad his mom did nothing but surf on the internet all morning." (Okay, sometimes people do make snap judgements about your parenting skills, but usually for things moderately out of your control, like tantrums and huge bruises on your kid's forehead)


As a mom to slightly older kids, there are some days when you can get away with doing very little. If you wanted to read a book while your kids watch TV, you could throw some clothes at them, stir together some macaroni and cheese for lunch, yell orders from the couch, and spend twenty minutes cleaning the house and whipping dinner up before your husband came home, and he probably wouldn't be the wiser (I can just see the wheels in Chad's head turning as he reads this.) If you chose to be a super mom the next day, you might turn the TV off by 8, head out the door to the playground with a lunch of whole wheat pasta salad with fresh veggies, and on the way home you could stop by the library where you patiently read to each child, swing home for a lullaby and nap for the youngest, while you teach your oldest how to add and subtract, and then you could all spend the afternoon together baking cookies and making dinner. You would probably spend the last twenty minutes of this day doing a quick clean too, and guess what? When your husband came home, everything would look identical to the day before.


Do you get my point? What I do, beyond the basics, is almost entirely up to me. Whether I respond to little requests with patience or irritation, I am still doing my job and am in no danger of being fired or receiving a payraise. There are no performance reviews for Moms, just as there aren't any bonuses or promotions (or is a promotion being a grandma?). My main motivation for going above and beyond has to come from within. Since I really do love being a mom, and am a firm believer in the long-term benefits that my nurturing will provide for my children, most of the time I wake up feeling motivated to do a good job. Yes, I do start feeling grumpy sometimes about being a mom. I can feel unappreciated, overworked, and just plain lazy. When this happens, I have to block out the noise of the whining kids, set aside the feelings of self-pity, and focus on what being a mom really means to me. I have to stop and ask myself if I am using my talents to be the kind of mom that only I can be. More on all of that later.....

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Life at the Colemans


I have been such a bad blogger lately. I think it is because my life has been pretty dull lately! Basically this is it - the kids and I both got sick. We barely left the house for about 2 1/2 weeks. No preschool and no church, and Colin was absolutely going NUTS. Oh my, he was being an obnoxious 4 1/2 year old. Gabe, on the other hand, has never been happier. He would much rather just stay at home all day and play with his choo-choos and family than go to nursery where he has to share mommy and his toys. I think the difference between the two of them is all about the age and stage that they are at. Anyway, Gabe got an ear infection but is getting better and Colin was finally able to go to preschool again today, and best of all - it has been in the 70's here the last two days AND the sun was shining all day today. Do you know how happy that made me? I was positively giddy! I love how wonderful the air in the house smells when you can finally open the windows. Life feels so good when you can feel the warmth of the sun again and you can turn the heater off (and stop slathering your skin with lotion!). Oh, and when your kids go to sleep at 6:30! Ahhhhhh!

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Challenge for you


We (the kids and I) like to play the games at sesamestreet.com. However, we hit a snag in one of them. You have to find some letters hidden in a picture, and it was going well until we hit the E. We could not find it anywhere I finally figured it out today, and it was completely by accident! I think that I might just be slow, so try it out and let me know if I am :o)