Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bull Riding and Goat Tying and Steer Wrestling, Oh My

A couple of weekends ago I read in the local paper that TAMU had a Rodeo Club, and that Club members would be competing in a regional competition in Bryan (College Station’s sister city) the following Saturday night. We met up with friends who have kids the same ages as Will and Hallie, and set out to enjoy an evening of bull riding, bareback riding, barrel racing, calf roping, goat tying, and steer wrestling. (Read more about the rodeo here – it’s really quite interesting.)

Our trip to the rodeo coincided nicely with Rodeo Week and Cowboy Day at Will’s preschool, so Will was, thanks to the real-life cowboys who demonstrated their roping skills for the kids, pretty pumped to see more cowboys in action. Hallie was also excited, but mainly because she really likes “ho-sees” and “MOOOOOOOOOO cows” and not because she had any idea about what a cowboy or a rodeo actually is. Oh, and Hallie throws her support behind any event to which one should wear boots.

This little buddy DID NOT like me taking his picture.

Before the rodeo started we sang The National Anthem AND America the Beautiful AND said a prayer. I consider myself to be fairly patriotic and will admit to tearing up during the singing, but the pomp and circumstance of the opening was a little much, even for me.

I bet a took 50 pictures trying to get one good one during this event - this is the best I could do.

The first TWO riders were injured. Neither of our children will be joining the rodeo circuit.

A little play-by-play of Calf Roping. As the horse and cowboy race past the starting line the calf is released (or perhaps shot out of? I'm not sure how they get the calves to run so fast) from the shoot.

The cowboy lassos the calf, and at that exact moment the freakishly-well-trained horse stops on a dime to keep the calf from continuing to run (the end of the lasso rope not connected to the calf is connected to the horse). Before the horse comes to a complete stop the cowboy dismounts.

The cowboy runs down the rope to the calf...

...and whips (for lack of a better word) the calf onto its side with what appears to be super-human strength.

And finally, the cowboy ties up three of the calf's legs and raises his hands into the hair to signal that he's finished.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy the rodeo - going that evening was more about experiencing something "Texas" and helping Will understand what he'd been learning about in school. But let me tell you, it was AWESOME. We are definitely going back, but without the kids so that we can really focus on the competition. (We spent a good portion of the evening trying to keep the two older kids from disturbing the spectators around us and the two younger kids from falling off the steep bleachers.) Oh, and just so you have a point of reference, the cowboy in the photo series above, from beginning to end, took only about 14 second to rope that calf. It was amazing.

And just because I love this picture, here's my little cowgirl that night.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Birthday Season

It’s birthday season here in College Station – Will attended two birthday parties last week, and has already been invited to birthday parties at the end of April and beginning of May. And that’s not counting the Minnie Mouse-themed birthday party he and I are planning for Hallie in April.

The first party, for a little girl in Will’s preschool class, was held at a local gym where the kids exhausted themselves on the gymnastics equipment and in a gigantic bouncy obstacle course. Will LOVED the obstacle course, and I’ll be honest, it looked so fun that I kind of hoped he’d get stuck inside so I’d have to go in after him. No such luck.

The second party, for a little boy also in Will’s preschool class, was held at Chuckie Cheese. Will and I had a blast playing games (except Skee Ball, because I’m awesome at Skee Ball and I refuse to “let him win” when we play against each other), but I think the highlight of the party for Will was when the birthday boy’s mom bought him his first ever cotton candy (since he couldn’t eat the birthday cake).

Will’s been planning his 5th birthday party since the day after he turned 4, and all these parties are giving him some pretty elaborate ideas!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Allergy Update #2

Good news… We have officially removed eggs from the list of foods that Will is allergic to!!

Our most recent visit to the allergist was another long one – nearly three hours – but also another successful one. Will was given an egg challenge, which means that, while in the presence of the allergy clinic nurses and doctors, he gobbled up a plateful of scrambled eggs and then we waited to see what happened. (Note: allergy challenges are only administered after the results of multiple rounds of allergy testing – both skin and blood – indicate that the patient is no longer allergic to the allergen. DO NOT try this at home!) Will passed the challenge with flying colors, and to celebrate, we went home and ate more scrambled eggs.

Will also underwent additional testing with regard to his peanut allergy, due to a discrepancy in the test results collected at his last appointment (the skin test results and the blood test results were contradictory). This round of tests revealed a negative (not allergic) result to commercial peanut but a VERY positive (allergic) result to peanut butter. This unusual result will mean more tests down the road, but for the time being, Will is still allergic to peanuts.

We’re giving Will’s little body a break from allergy testing for the next three months, and during that time we’ll also be evaluating how well a new nasal spray prescription helps his seasonal allergies. Watch for another update in late June, and in the meantime, bring on the omelets!

Friday, March 25, 2011

They Say It's Your Birthday...

Happy birthday (on Sunday) Uncle Jeff!

And an extra "Uncle Jeff", just because I think it's cute.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An Interview with Will, Round 2

I enjoyed hearing Will's answers to the questions I asked him about me, so I thought I'd give Tom the pleasure (?) of reading Will's answers about him. Will seems to have trouble with question #5, as he thinks that as children, both Tom and I were "Disney World"...

1. What is something your dad always says to you?
Wanna play some Wii? (More often than not this question is actually posed by Will.)

2. What makes your dad happy?
When he gets to play with his kids.

3. What makes your dad sad?
When we don’t be good.

4. How does your dad make you laugh?
He tickles me.

5. What was your dad like as a child?
Disney World.

6. How old is your dad?

7. How tall is your dad?
Like 10 feet tall.

8. What is his favorite thing to do?
Play with his kids.

9. What does your dad do when you're not around?
When I’m sleeping he likes to watch a movie and when I’m at school he likes to work.

10. If your dad becomes famous, what will it be for?

11. What is your dad really good at?
Juggling. And Wii.

12. What is your dad not very good at?
Wrapping presents. (Hole in one, Will, hole in one.)

13. What does your dad do for a job?
Works at his new office and use his big stapler and little staples.

14.What is your dad's favorite food?
Peppers. And BBQ. (Completely accurate - this boy knows his dad.)

15. If your dad were a cartoon character, who would he be?

16. What do you and your dad do together?
Sometimes he likes to play Wii with me.

17. How are you and your dad the same?
We have the same skin and the same colors.

18. How are you and your dad different?
We have different hair.

19. How do you know your dad loves you?
He gives me hugs.

20. What does your dad like most about your mom?
That she’s very good at Glee Wii. (Glee Karaoke for the Wii.)

21. Where is your dad's favorite place to go?
Disney World.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Aggie Baseball

Growing up I hated baseball. Watching it on television, watching it live, playing it. I suppose these feelings stemmed from a few negative childhood experiences (twice I nearly knocked people – my dad and my cousin – out when my wildly inaccurate throws hit them in the head, and I was the worst player on my team the one summer I played co-ed baseball), and since my parents and friends weren’t really interested in baseball there was no reason for me to change my opinion of the sport. Tom, on the other hand, loved baseball and was very good at it. Still is, actually - what a stud.

When Tom and I moved to Michigan he convinced me to start watching Detroit Tigers games with him, and before I knew it, we both became Tigers fans (despite the fact that they were pretty bad for nearly all of the six years we called Ann Arbor home). We watched games on television, bought t-shirts and hats for all four of us, and even drove to Detroit for quite a few games. I still don’t like to play baseball, because I’m TERRIBLE – I have the hand-eye coordination of a drunken grizzly bear (Tom’s analogy) – and I’m afraid of the ball, but I’ve become a huge fan of watching the game on television and in person.

We’d heard good things about the TAMU men’s baseball games, and since everyone in our family now enjoys the sport (or at least the food and the singing and the mascots), we decided to check out one of their preseason games (you know, before the regular season starts and the rowdy college students decide it might be fun to see if one of my kids would bounce as easily through the student section as a beach ball would). The crowd was, at least based on my experience, HUGE for a preseason college baseball game – it seems the team has a lot of regular community fans, and hundreds of college students attend the games as well. We arrived in time to snag great seats in the general admission section and stock up on hot dogs, popcorn, and the sweetest pink lemonade I’ve ever tasted, which was of course full of sugar and kept the kids up late enough that we made it through six whole innings.

Will’s highlights were “when they (the Aggies) got hits” and “when they (the Aggies) were up to bat”, and I’m fairly sure Hallie’s highlights were the popcorn and marching back and forth in front of Tom and me in the bleachers. My highlight was when Hallie finally stopped marching back and forth in front of Tom and me in the bleachers.

My dates for the evening.

Welcome to Aggieland!

It was 73 degrees when the game started.

"Look Mom - they're hugging!"

Let the good times roll.

In all seriousness, the evening was a wonderful one – we were together, outside in beautiful weather doing something we all enjoy. Football is king in Texas, but on this Friday Night in College Station, the Lights were pretty bright at the baseball field as well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday snuck up on me this year, mostly because I don’t pay much attention to my calendar. It’s a shame though, because I really enjoy some of the traditional Mardi Gras foods – jambalaya and king cakes – and had I been more prepared I could have cooked/baked up quite a feast for me and the fam.

Instead, I remembered Fat Tuesday on Ash Wednesday, when the little old lady at the Kroger flower counter offered Hallie a free Mardi Gras balloon, because, as she put it, “that silly holiday is over and these balloons ain’t worth nothin’ anymore”. So that afternoon, after Will woke up from his nap but while Hallie was still snoozing, he and I had a little Mardi Gras celebration. Basically we just wore beads and an alligator nose and took pictures of ourselves, but since Will considers getting to touch my camera a treat and getting to hold it a party, we were good to go. Mardi Gras certainly looks a lot different – for me, at least – than it did 10 years ago…

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things...

We’re starting to think about potty training Hallie (Really? I have to potty train a second child? Sheesh.), but only to the point where we encourage her to sit on the potty before bath time. On this particular night she was willing to give it a try, but only after I offered her a gummy bear.
Erin: Can you let your pee come out? Let your pee come out, Hallie.
Hallie: (directed toward where pee comes out) COME OUT AND PAY (play) PEE PEE!

There seems to be some confusion about what her pee will be doing once it exits her body.

Will: Mama, I know it’s not your birthday today, but I have a present for you anyway.
Erin: Really? What is it?
Will: It’s a sticker with a number four on it. Because I’m four.
Erin: That’s very nice of you, Will. Thank you.
Will: Whew. Now I don’t have to get you anything for your birthday.

Hallie and I were singing along to “Happy Hand” (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”, the Glee version), when all of a sudden she pointed to me and yelled “YOU! NO SINGING!”. She continued singing the rest of the song as a solo. No one appreciates my mediocre musical talent around here.

A commercial for Neutrogena’s new Anti-Wrinkle Cream popped up on the television.
Will: Mom! You gotta get that!
Erin: Why?
Will: It’ll make all your wrinkles go away!
Erin: (near tears) Do you think I have a lot of wrinkles?
Will: I don’t know – what are wrinkles?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hallie's 23-Month Bath Photos

Hallie will be two in less than one month, and quite frankly I just can’t believe it. After Will was born, each hour felt like a day, each day felt like a week, and each week felt like a year; by his second birthday I was fairly certain we should have been putting four or five or 74 candles on his cake. After Hallie was born, however, time flew by. I blinked and my maternity leave was over, and before we knew it she was rolling over, crawling, walking, talking, bossing me around, and registering to vote.

Hallie still lets us call her a baby (I probably shouldn’t, but I use “baby”, “baby girl”, and “baby Hallie” in place of her name quite often), but I’m sure those days are numbered. The countdown to two begins – 24, 23, 22…

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


In case you ever find yourself interacting with a two-year-old, let me arm you ahead of time with the knowledge that all two-year-olds must do absolutely everything ALL. BY. THEMSELVES. It’s the law. And Hallie is one law-abiding almost-two-year-old. Oh, except when something’s too hard, and then she must immediately have “HELP! HELP NOW! HELP HALLIE NOW!”.

I knew this day would come, and was prepared for it, except when it has to do with clothes. Even when Will was two, I could convince him to wear what I wanted him to wear, therefore his clothes usually matched and he was dressed appropriately for the weather. I fear, however, that getting dressed is about to become a battle ground between Hallie and me. I’m willing to give a little, but at some point lines have to be drawn – we’re not going to wear a swimsuit to Target, winter boots when it’s 80 degrees outside, or flip flops in the snow.

Here’s the first photo installment of what I call “I DO IT MYSELF meets Erin Gives a Little”.

Monday, March 14, 2011

They Say it's Your Birthday...

Happy birthday Grandma Brenda!

The duet:

The solo:

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Interview with Will

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Don’t touch that - that’s mine. And that she loves me.

2. What makes mom happy?
If I say she’s beautiful and give her a hug. And if you be good.

3. What makes mom sad?
If you don’t be good and when something breaks.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Disney World.

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?
40 feet tall

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Work on stuff.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Find me.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
For not getting in trouble.

11. What is your mom really good at?

12. What is your mom not very good at?

13. What does your mom do for a job?

14.What is your mom's favorite food?

15.What makes you proud of your mom?
When she plays Wii with me.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Princess of Marioland.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Wrestle, play, play Wii sometimes, and eat dinner.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Because we have the same colors.

19. How are you and your mom different?
Because we have different hair and different toes.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Because she gives me extra hugs and kisses.

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
That sometimes he comes home and gives her a big hug.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Disney World.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Allergy Update #1

As most of our readers know, Will is a walking allergy. At nine-months-old he was diagnosed with allergies to wheat, egg, and dairy, though a few months later the wheat allergy resolved itself. At nearly three-years-old, Will was diagnosed with an allergy to peanuts, and over the last four years he has developed various seasonal allergies and a sensitivity to cat. It’s also very likely that Will has asthma. Poor kid.

Our allergist and allergy clinic in Ann Arbor were very well-respected and came highly recommended. And I hated it there. The allergists were condescending, unprofessional, and at times downright disrespectful, and they never once made an effort to actually help our family navigate the extremely confusing, frustrating, and scary terrain that is allergies in children. If I hadn’t known we were moving to Texas I would have found a new allergist last year, but since I knew we were relocating, I decided to wait it out with our Ann Arbor allergist and start anew when we arrived in College Station.

Once we found a pediatrician in College Station, I met with her and asked for an allergist recommendation. She spoke very highly of one particular doctor and his office, so I called and spoke to the receptionist and one of the nurses. They were kind and understanding and flexible (foreign to me, when it came to allergists) and assured me their office could provide for Will the two primary things I was looking for in a new allergist: a complete retesting for all of Will’s already diagnosed allergies as well as testing for other common allergens, and a progressive treatment plan. I was SO frustrated with being bound to four-year-old testing results as well as never being given any options as far as improving Will’s condition was concerned.

Our first appointment was last week, and while the actual test results are still pending (update to come), the visit was a tremendous success. The office was wonderfully equipped for children – allergy testing requires kids to sit and wait for LONG periods of time (while their skin flares up and itches like crazy), and this office had DVD players, books, Legos, and train sets in every patient room. The clinic knew how to test children, both in terms of pain management and engagement/interaction, so while allergy testing isn’t fun, this round of tests was considerably less painful than all rounds Will’s had in the past. The allergist spent 45 minutes talking to me about Will’s history and 15 minutes talking to me about the preliminary results, and when we left we had updated prescriptions and an actual plan of attack (again, update to come).

For those of you who aren’t familiar with allergy testing, here’s what it looks like.

Each of the abbreviations on the left was an allergen stick, and each abbreviation on the right was an allergen shot. By the time we left our appointment Will had endured 43 allergen sticks, 20 allergen shots, and a blood draw. “Trooper” doesn’t even come close.

Stay tuned - hopefully we'll have good (or at least better) news to share soon!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011