Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunflowers

Lately, I've been trying to go through the digital mountain of photos I've taken over the summer.  While the vast majority of them feature the kiddos as their subject, there's a noticeable subgenre labeled "Flowers."  (Or would be labelled "Flowers" if I labeled my photos, classified them, or really organized them at all rather than just dumping them onto the laptop and forgetting about them.)  I found so many pictures of flowers, I almost thought I had somehow gotten a folder of my Grandma's pictures.  There were no photographs of cows sprinkled in, however, so I realized they must actually be mine. 

Because they're the most recent, and because I am, after all, from Kansas, today I'll share these with you.





It's the only one of three potted sunflowers that survived the summer and bloomed for me. 






For whatever reason, it was wilting and just generally didn't look so great when I had it on the deck.  I put it on top of the table back there, and it perked right up.  I don't know why. 

That pretty much personifies my gardening style.  Haphazard trial-and-error.  Sometimes lots of error.

That sunflower looks somewhat tall and impressive until you compare it to...





...this guy.





Now that is a sunflower.  Adelaide began growing it in her preschool class last spring, and it has done beautifully since we plunked in a corner of the garden and basically just left it alone.  Now we're just waiting for the head to dry out so that we can harvest the seeds. 

You're probably aware that there are lots of different species of sunflowers.  According to the seed packet, that first potted sunflower is a "Mammoth."  I'm not sure what the second is, but if I had to guess I'd say it's a "Giant." 

Now, riddle me this:  Isn't mammoth bigger than giant?  I guess in my head, I picture the extinct Woolly Mammoth as being bigger than the Giant in Jack and the Beanstalk.

Those are the images that pop into your head upon hearing the words "mammoth," and "giant," right?  I'm not the only one thinking these things, right?

I'm not big on annuals, but I'll think we'll be planting these again next spring.  They remind me of home, are easy keepers, and might just give us food (well, a snack).  Win-win.

   

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fair Food

When we go to the Iowa State Fair, we go to see the sights:  the enormous hogs, steers, and draft horses, not to mention beasts of butter.  We go to wander the various buildings, collecting free samples of stuff and checking out the the projects made by 4-H'ers and regular folk.  Someday, when our three wee ones are old enough to sit still outside of a stroller for more than two minutes at a time, we'll get to watch the talent shows and performances and exhibitions that go on throughout the fair.

But mostly?  We go to eat. 

This may not be the case for other families.  I, however, married a man who seems to consider it a personal affront to his masculinity not to eat two to three servings at most meals, and who regards The Fair as his own personal smorgasboard. 

So what did we enjoy at The Fair?  (Because I know you're dying to know.)


My favorite, caramel apples.




Adelaide obviously likes them, too, but she'll only eat about half of hers, and since I'm bad about sharing food I love and insist on one of my own, I get her other half, so I get mine plus some of hers.

Again, because I know you care about this kind of stuff.

Here we all are (minus me, the picture-taker) eating cheese curds, which sound disgusting but taste delicious.




Cheese curds are like Sonic's cheddar bites without the breading.  And somehow a bit tastier. 

If you've never had a cheddar bite, then I'm going to assume you don't live within a 100-mile radius of a Sonic Drive-In, in which case I feel deeply and pathetically sorry for you, and will say an extra prayer for you tonight.

Moving on.

We also had Iowa sweet corn...




... porkchops on a stick, pineapple whip, chocolate chip cookies, barbeque ribs, walking tacos, barbeque nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, yogurt, ice cream, cheddarwurst- corn dog, funnel cake, onion strings, french fries, and much, much more.

Please keep in mind that all this food consumption was spread across seven people.  Never mind that two of them were ages five and two and another doesn't have teeth yet.  That still adds up to seven people. 

Anyone else hungry?  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Fair

Adelaide successfully began Kindergarten last week.  She got off the bus that first day sweaty and tired, but finally perked up enough to tell us about her day and let us know that she had fun and liked her new school.  She quickly learned that Kindergarten is very different from preschool, however. 

Soon after we all got home, Derek asked Adelaide if she had made any new friends at school.  She replied, "Daddy, Kindergarten isn't like preschool.  You work all day long at Kindergarten."  Apparently Adelaide + Work = No Friends.  At least for now. 

After her first two full days of school, we decided to reward her with a trip to...  The Iowa State Fair!

I've made it pretty clear that I am not originally from Iowa.  I grew up almost seven hours south of here, in Kansas.  Where I'm from, the county fairs are terrific.  There's lots of people involved, lots to see and do, and because you're in an area of the country that doesn't see a whole lot of excitement, a county fair is a Big Deal. 

The Kansas State Fair, while also pretty neat, is really just like a Kansas county fair on steroids: bigger, but with a higher voice and an irrational temper.  (I may or may not have just taken the steroid analogy a bit far.  But believe me:  I could have gone farther.)  For the most part, larger amounts of the same stuff that you find on a county level.

Here in Iowa, the county fairs are pretty pathetic.  Not the least bit impressive.

The Iowa State Fair, on the other hand, is pretty dang awesome. 

First of all, it's humongously gigantic.  Or maybe gigantically humongous.  Either way, it's big.

It also has crazy stuff like this:







Behold, the Butter Cow.  That's 600 pounds of pure cream Iowa butter.


Also, the Butter Cow's friend, Butter Farmer, doing something to a Butter Calf and her Butter Mama.


This year marked the 100th anniversary of the Butter Cow at The Fair.  That's 100 Butter Cows.  Moo.


There are fair- and farm- themed ice sculptures:




That's a cow, a pig, a 1st Place ribbon, and... maybe a motorcycle.  Because nothing says fairs and farms like an ice Harley.

There was also a big 4-H building, full of awesome 4-H projects: food, clothing, stitching, wood-working, antique restoration; you name it, it was there.

This was one of my favorites.



Some crafty little 4-Her took one of those toy horses- the kind are attached to a metal frame with four big springs, and kids can sit and bounce around on- detached it from the frame, recovered it with fabric and paint (and probably half a gallon of Mod Podge), attached a pole, and made it into a darling carousel horse.  I love this.

I also lingered for quite a while around the 4-H cakes.  Because, you know, cake.




Those are frosting roses.  It was beautiful and absolutely deserving of that blue ribbon.

And something about this coconut cake just spoke to me.


Maybe it's because Derek doesn't like coconut and so I haven't made anything with it in the last... oh, seven years or so.  I miss coconut.

When we weren't looking at all the cool stuff, we were eating... and eating, and eating. 

We ate so much that I think all that delicious fair food deserves it's own post.

Tomorrow.






Tuesday, August 23, 2011

You Know You're From Iowa When...

...You suck on sweet corn like it's candy.





I'll share more about our trip to the Iowa State Fair tomorrow.  Brace yourself for animals made out of butter and 4-H projects galore. 

Oh, and food.  Lots and lots of food.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bear With Me Here

It's been an interesting day.

I woke Adelaide up about half an hour before she usually rises.  She got dressed, I fixed her hair.  She had some breakfast. 

Derek and I woke the boys and got them ready.  Then our little family of five all set out to walk to the bus stop, one block from our house.

We waited with the other kids and parents.  Introduced ourselves.  Shared with Adelaide some words of encouragement. 

Then the bus rounded the corner, came roaring up to where we waited.  Our daughter said her good-byes to Daddy and brothers, I took Adelaide's hand, and we joined the queue of kiddos.  Derek hung back with the boys and shot video.  Adelaide was the last in line, and when it came time to ascend the stairs onto the yellow behemoth, she did everything within her power to remain firmly attached to the back of my shorts, crying and generally freaking out.  When just shoving her on proved fruitless ('cause dang, does that girl have some upper-body strength), I held her hand and walked her up the steps, and we began looking for a spot to sit.

The driver, bless his heart, offered to let me stay on and sit with her for a couple blocks while he made one last stop, then he'd come around and drop me back off.  I may have taken him up on it, but I didn't want to set a bad precedent, and thankfully she had calmed down by this time anyway.  I watched her walk down the aisle to the very back, and as she swung into the last seat, she smiled and waved cheerily at me. 

I got off, rejoined the three Crisler men, and waved at her window as the bus took my daughter away from me to Kindergarten. 


As a result of this momentous morning, I'm feeling a little discombobulated.  So I thought I'd share a random smattering of photos from our trip last week- because I'm sure you weren't sick of these already.





My mom, my sister, and her husband, laughing at the ignorant schmucks who don't know that those are soybeans in the centerpieces.

Actually, I don't know what they're laughing at.  But I think my guess is a good one, because what's funnier than soybeans?






Derek, teaching our niece, Aria, to fly.  The smile on her face hides the terror in her heart.

Kidding again.  She loved being launched high into the air and being caught with a splash.








Adelaide bonding with our newest niece, Brielle, her aunt and other cousin.

I had hoped that playing with a baby girl for a couple days would pacify her enough to get off my back about producing a little sister for her.  I was wrong.








Caedmon taking advantage of some warm and willing arms at the wedding.  (Alliteration Alert!) 



And now, I think I'll go back to trying to get as much done as possible and not anxiously stare at the clock, willing 3:30 to come around so I can hear how Adelaide's first day was. 

It should be fun.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm Here to Tell You

Have you ever wondered what the bridal party does right before the wedding starts, while everyone is finding their seats?


Well, I'll tell you.


The bridesmaids take pictures of themselves.






The bride updates her Facebook status.





Someone says something about singing a song.  I don't remember exactly who it was, but my money's on Kelli.  She can usually be counted on to instigate that sort of thing. 

The first thing that pops into my head is that song All American from the movie A League of Their Own. So I start singing it.  Everyone quickly joins in. You know the one:

Oh, we're the members of the All-American League
We come from cities near and far
We've got Canadians, Irish Ones, and Swedes
We're all for one, we're one for all
We're All-American 

Totally appropriate for a pre-wedding song, right?

The flower girl stares at her singing mother. 





"What are you doing?"

Or maybe just "Lame, Mom.  Lame."




And now you know.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Weddings and Horses and Stairs, Oh My!

Some days are more eventful than others.  Today?  We have a few things to do, but not so much that I feel like I'm running from sun-up to sun-down.

Last Saturday?  Busy, busy, busy. 

We started the day with a wedding and all that entails.




My baby sister and her new husband.  Congratulations guys!

Then we returned to Derek's folks' house.

Caedmon finally conquered the stairs.






Adelaide rode a horse with her cousin Aria.




Aunt Stacie led the way.


All the kids took turns riding on the four-wheeler with Derek.





Then we put the kids to bed and collapsed.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Back In A Jiffy

It was a busy weekend.  And now it's looking to be a busy week. 

Tomorrow, I will post something long-ish with some substance.  I don't know what that substance will be, but it will be there.  You'll take what you get and like it.

Today, you'll just have to content yourself with gazing soulfully back at our middle child. 






You're welcome.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pobrecito

If you have ever read any kind of parenting book, magazine, or random online site about babyproofing your home-

Quick side note: by "babyproofing," I mean making your home safe for babies by adding outlet covers, placing cleaning supplies and radioactive material out of reach, etc, NOT nailing shut windows and doors to keep babies out of your house.  Just so we're clear.

-you know that the best way to go about doing this is to crawl around on all fours, on your baby's level, so to speak, so you can spot potential hazards that may not be immediately obvious from an adult's point of view.

I have to do this every so often, usually when I start finding odd substances in Caedmon's mouth.  This morning I finally figured out where he's been getting those white foamy pieces:  Atticus had shredded and then hidden a magic eraser in a shoe in the laundry room.  It was only by crawling around that I was able to follow a trail of evidence to the stash.

Doing this always makes me feel like I'm stumbling into the strange realm of babies.  Ordinary items appear very different from the floor:  large and looming and interesting.  I had this in mind when I sat down to go through the photos taken over the past few days.  It made me feel particularly sympathetic toward our youngest child. 

I wonder what he was thinking when all these shots took place?



   
"Why does this woman insist on sticking that flashy-thing in my face?"




"And I wonder what happens when I do this?"




This one makes me want to cry.  See the older two kiddos in the background in the pool?  Although they fight a lot, Atticus and Adelaide love to play together, and Caedmon is getting to the age where he wants to play, too.  Half the time they want nothing to do with him.






  But then Daddy comes outside, and all is right with the world.  I'm not sure whether Spud is hugging Derek or cozying up to the Viking on Derek's shirt.

Either way, they're both happy.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Not Obsessed

I am not what you would call trendy.  I am rarely, if ever, on the cutting edge of what to wear, what to do, what to watch.  That includes stuff on the internet. 

A few day ago, I finally broke down and checked out Pinterest.  I know, I know, most of you have probably already heard about it and are pinning experts.  But just in case I've caught a fellow straggler, I'm going to write about this newest time-sucker of mine. 

I first heard about Pinterest a few months ago, but thought to myself, Don't you dare, Kristy!  You do not have time to devote to clicking and clicking and clicking around a new website.  And up until a few days ago, I remained steadfast in that conviction. 

I had been shuffling things around in our closets and bins, organizing and tidying as I went.  I was feeling pretty smug and virtuous, and what with it being the kids' naptime and all, I decided to reward myself with fifteen minutes of time online. 

What I should have done was update this blog.  Instead, I broke down and signed up for Pinterest.  The next thing I knew, Caedmon was awake and over an hour had gone by. 

Basically, (again, for my fellow stragglers) Pinterest is a virtual pinboard- a website that allows you to install a button for your toolbar that reads "Pin It," and as you're checking stuff out on the internet, when you see an image of something neato, you click on the Pin It button, and it "pins" that picture onto your profile on Pinterest.  You can arrange these pictures on different boards, like Home Decorating, Movies, Recipes, whatever.

 Say you're planning a wedding.  Every time you see a photo on a website that has a great idea for flowers, dresses, favors, etc, you can pin it on there, and then all those images are in one place for you to access.  The best part is, once the image is on Pinterest, if you click on it, it takes you right back to it's original website. 

There are, of course, tons and tons of people already on there, and they each have lots of boards and pins to peruse.  I use it as a great big cache of neat ideas to copy.

You have to request an invitation, but that took all of about five minutes to receive via email- or, let me know and I can "invite" you to become a fellow member.  All the cool kids are doing it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Try To Keep Up

See the guy on the left?





His name is Clinton.  He is getting married next week. 







This is the girl he is marrying.  Her name is Stephanie.  She is my sister. 



See this guy? 






His name is Aaron.  He got married almost a year ago.  He is one of Clinton's brothers. 








This is the girl he married.  Her name is Kelli.  She is also my sister. 



That's right.  By the end of next week, my two sisters will have married two brothers. 

This is kind of neat and kind of makes me feel like I'm trapped in a Rogers and Hammerstein production.  I keep half-expecting our families to break out in carefully choreographed musical numbers.

Actually, the wedding would be the perfect venue for something like that!  I better get started...

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's About Time

With all three of my children, I had relatively uncomplicated pregnancies.  I experienced some of the more common aches and pains, but thankfully my babies and I were all healthy.

I was working full-time when pregnant with Adelaide, and spent my workdays on my feet.  This resulted in some pretty severe lower-back pain.  The only thing I found to alleviate the pain was to sit on the arm of the couch while Derek laid down behind me, and used his enormous feet and all the strength in his legs to push/kick/massage my back.  It was heavenly.  The most comfortable way for me to sit on any soft couch or chair was with a basketball behind me, pressing against my lower back. 

Then Adelaide was born.  When she was ten months old, she said her first word.  It was "Da-da." 

I tried not to feel betrayed.

A year and a half later, I was pregnant with Atticus.  Not as much lower back pain this time, thank goodness.  Instead, I had sciatica.  Every time I stepped onto my left foot, I experienced shooting nerve pain up my left thigh all the way up into my lower back.  It was unpleasant.

Then Atticus was born.  When he was ten months old, he said his first word.  It was "Da-da."

Again, I tried not to feel betrayed.

Are you seeing a trend here?

Last year, I was pregnant with Caedmon.  I felt pain all over, from my head down to my toes.  I ached with every step, and couldn't get comfortable to save my life.  My weight gain was still well within the normal range, so I couldn't blame that.  It felt like my body was saying to me, That's it!  Enough with the babies already! 

Then Caedmon was born.  I was amazed when, about an hour after he was born, I got up from the bed to walk across the room, and all that achy discomfort had vanished.  Magic. 

Our Spud is now ten months old.  A few days ago he said his first word.  It wasn't Da da.





His first word was "Ma-ma."  I guess the third time's the charm.