Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas!

From Ian, Cara, Aven, and Grace

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Dress

When my Aunt Ann was here in November, she bought Aven a darling dress. The best thing about the dress? It has little Scotti dogs sewn around the hem, and since dogs are currently Aven's favorite thing, it's a winner. Enjoy a cute picture of Aven by our Christmas tree:

Also, enjoy Aven's current favorite video from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. We watch this video at least twice a day but she never seems to get tired of it, and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm not tired of it either:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December so far . . .

I've already posted about visiting Santa and partying with friends, but here are a few more things we've done during this very busy, fun filled month:

Aven and I went to the Festival of Trees with my mom. Aven loved the Elmo tree.

We went on a carriage ride downtown with Ian's parents and brother. Aven loved seeing the horses and the lights downtown.

After our carriage ride we walked through Temple Square. Aven was most impressed with the fountains. This kid loves water.

Aven "performed" in her daycare Christmas program. Here she is as a darling reindeer.

When I say she "performed", what I mean is that she didn't cry as much as she did during her Spring program. She stared out at the the audience like a deer in the headlights until she spotted me, then she started crying.

Zoo Lights! We went to Hogle Zoo to see the holiday light display. It was really a lot of fun. I highly recommend it to anyone with kids. In the above photo you can see mine and Aven's silhouette. We had to choose between silhouette pictures or flash pictures that completely washed out the lights- oh well.

I can't believe that Christmas is in 6 days! It's been an incredibly fun holiday season so far. Having a child has made everything seem magical again.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas with the Kids

I am grateful that my three best friends have kids. It makes getting together super fun. Tonight, we had a Christmas party for the kiddos. My very brave friend Natalie volunteered to host the party since she has the largest house and more toys than any kid could ever hope for. Aven is the youngest, but she still managed to get involved in plenty of the action:

She wasn't thrilled about my insistence that she sit on the bed with all the other kids for a photo. Sweet little Gwen was nice enough to hold her while I took the picture.

I loved seeing the two girls at the party playing with a big bucket of plastic bugs and snakes.

Present time! We did a gift exchange for the kids. I believe everyone was quite satisfied. Aven got a really cute pony that makes horsey noises and also works as a flashlight.

Then came the fun part- decorating sugar cookies and eating them. Aven was mostly interested in eating the m&m's and frosting off her cookie. By the time she was done she had chocolate frosting smeared all over her torso, arms, and face.

Partying with the kids is always fun, and even though I'm usually so beat by the time we're done that I'd like to lapse into a coma for a couple days, I can't wait to do it again.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Visiting Santa

I decided to take Aven to the mall to see Santa after school yesterday. The mall near her daycare had a "natural " Santa, so I was excited to pay way too much for a low quality picture.

I thought that Aven would be okay being near Santa as long as I was holding her. I was wrong. Despite weeks of reading Christmas stories, playing with a little stuffed Santa toy and talking about how great Santa is she was terrified when we got near him.

The scowl on her face was the result of two very energetic photographers jumping around, playing peek-a-boo, and waving around stuffed toys and squeaky balls. She was previously screaming and squirming to get off my lap, so trust me, the scowl was as good as it was going to get.

Oh well, maybe next year she'll be more willing to sit with Santa and crack a smile.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving . . .

. . . from our expressive little eater:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snow Day

We had our first big snow storm of the year and I couldn't wait to get out and play with Aven, Grace, and Ian. We went over to Liberty Park to romp around. Aven wasn't too thrilled with the snow at first, even though she had spent a better part of the morning with her face pressed up against the living room window staring longingly at the white stuff. She got pretty upset the first few times snow got on her boots, but she recovered pretty quick. Her biggest frustration was walking in it. It was hard enough for her to walk in stiff boots and puffy snow pants on the sidewalk, but adding the challenge of 5 or 6 inches of snow just made her mad. Things did improve, however:

Once we got her sitting in the snow she had a pretty good time. She even helped me push the big snowman ball around a little bit.

Silly smile.

Aven's first snowman. She was pretty upset that we had to leave him at the park, but eventually we got her to say "buh, buh" so we could go home.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Job Description

At a recent faculty meeting my principal mentioned that if people knew our actual job descriptions nobody would enter the teaching field. Since then I've been thinking a lot about what my real job description is. I've tried to think of things that I do daily or at least multiple times a week.

First, I'll start with the parts of my job that I expected when I decided to become a teacher:
  • Developing curriculum and planning lessons
  • Delivering instruction
  • Managing behavior
  • Grading assignments
  • Attending faculty meetings
  • Being assigned to a variety of committees
Next, I'll list things that are an integral part of my job but really don't have anything to do with the previous list:
  • Triage nurse. You can often find me cleaning and bandaging cuts, looking at swollen eyes, rashy skin, and even occasionally extracting a finger from someplace it shouldn't have been stuck in the first place.
  • Counselor. I deal with my fair share of tearful girls who have just been dumped by their boyfriends, or shunned by their former BFF's. I also watch for and report and suspected abuse that might be happening to a child outside of school.
  • Nark. If you come to school high as a kite and reeking of marijuana I have to report it to the vice principal. I also have to report any rumors I hear about who smokes cigarettes or chugs Nyquil.
  • HVAC technician. I work in a 52 year old building with no air conditioning and only 1 boiler. I also work on the 2nd floor where the heat tends to congregate all year long. I am constantly trying to keep the temperature of my classroom comfortable, even if it means opening my windows during a blizzard.
  • Mediator. Between feuding kids and sometimes between a parent and child.
  • Shameless self-promoter. I teach art. If kids don't sign up for art I don't have a job, so every year during registration I send letters home, hang posters in the halls and, beg, and plead for students to take my classes.
  • Psychologist. Somewhat related to "counselor" but this one is more about observing behavior and figuring out why a kids acts the way he does and figuring out how I might be able to get through to him effectively.
  • Decorator. Creating decorations for various school assemblies and functions. If my esteemed art professors from Westminster knew that I use glitter on regular basis they would take away my art degree.
  • Special ed. teacher. This is one of my favorites. Sometimes in a sea of regular kids I get to work with some of the sweetest kids who are in a special ed. classroom all day with the exception of the hour they get to spend with me. I always look forward to seeing these kids because they can really brighten your day and change your perspective on life.
While I could go on I feel that this list should give anyone who is not in the teaching profession an idea of how much teachers do beyond their scope of employment.

On particularly challenging days I stand in the hall during class change with my next door neighbor and we chant "we love our job, we love our job" over and over. Sometimes you need a reminder.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

18 Months

Aven will be 18 months old tomorrow. Every parent I know has told me over and over how fast time flies once you have a baby and I have found that to be absolutely true.

Seeing her reach new milestones has been particularly fun. Her language development seems to be on the fast track with her new favorite word being "ammals" (animals). She is also really into doing stuff by herself like feeding Grace pup corn treats in the morning and pushing the button that unlocks the main door at daycare.

While Ian and I suffer from our fair share of toddler drama we mostly have a great time playing with our silly little girl.

A couple of recent pictures for your enjoyment:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Aven's Halloween

Halloween was a lot more fun this year since Aven was so much more interested in the whole affair. She was fascinated by the decor and has loved the few pieces of candy she has eaten. I wanted to share some pictures from the season:

We took Aven's picture in her costume at Sugarhouse Park a couple weeks ago. She was not a fan of wearing the dalmatian costume at first, but we discovered that as long as she had a sucker she was more than willing to tromp around the park in it.

My two favorite puppies.

Carving pumpkins in the backyard with Grace Dog.

Our cute pumpkin family. Ian, who normally doesn't care much for carving pumpkins, discovered that it's pretty fun if he can use power tools.

We went to Garden After Dark at Red Butte Garden. It was SO much fun. Aven is definitely not afraid of the dark- she had a blast running along the festively lit paths.

Finally, we went trick-or-treating. This was our first stop at my mom's house. We also went to a handful of houses on our street after dinner. I think Aven was just confused that I was all of the sudden encouraging her to walk up to people's doors when I usually make her stay on the sidewalk when we are on a walk. She was very shy and wouldn't take candy from the bowl herself, but she seemed to enjoy the experience. Now I'm worried that she's going to expect to walk up to our neighbor's doors to get candy every time we are out on a walk. I'm sure it will all get even more fun next year.

Finally, after all that hard work collecting candy from neighbors she got the enjoy a piece before bedtime.


Friday, October 29, 2010


I am a middle school teacher and I love my job, but nobody ever promised that a career in middle school education was going to be dignified. This is evidenced by this picture of Scott, the head custodian at my school, who was coerced into joining the teacher team in a dress-up competition today:

I think he makes a lovely witch, complete with his magic mop.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh the joys . . .

. . . of teaching middle school:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Fun

So far this year we have enjoyed a rather mild fall. Last Friday My mom, Aven and I went for a walk on the Pipeline trail to enjoy the fall colors and fabulous weather. Aven had a grand time and my mom spent a lot lot of time worrying that Aven was going to fall off the mountain.

She's so fast these days that it's hard to get a picture of her.

Looking toward Salt Lake Valley from the Pipeline.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cast of Characters

I love my neighborhood. Ian and I chose to live in this area specifically because we like the layout, the proximity to places we like to go, and because it has character. One of the things that I love so much about my neighborhood is the contrast. There are a lot of younger people buying up old houses and remodeling them. There are elderly people who are still living in homes they bought a half a century ago. There are also a lot of run down rentals and houses that have been strangely subdivided into multiple apartments. The wide variety of dwellings lends itself quite obviously to a wide variety of people. I love my neighbors and am always entertained by someone on my street. I'm sure that my tendency toward neighbor-watching came straight from my dad who, during my childhood, always had a pair of binoculars at the ready and a clever nickname for everyone within spying distance.

Our neighbor across the street, Mark, who lives in one of the worst examples of do-it-yourself remodeling in existence retired at a fairly young age from the financial industry. He then rode his bike across the United States in celebration and now spends his days tending to the neighborhood stray cats and doing odd things like walking up and down the street while brushing his teeth. Ian and Mark enjoy talking about sci-fi books. The house next door to ours is an ugly rental with an unkempt yard and is occupied by several girls that Ian and I refer to as "The Sexy Coeds". This group of girls gives us the largest variety in our neighbor-watching. My favorite is when they get all glammed up and ride their cruiser bikes a half a block to the coffee shop I can see from my driveway to get an iced mocha latte (or whatever it is they drink) and then ride back ten minutes later. Jesus, another guy across the street is also retired and spends his days working in his yard which reminds me very much of the secret garden. He likes to set up tiny scenes around an old hand-crafted doll house in his front yard. He also invites us over regularly to see new features he's added to his yard such as the river he built in his backyard. Steve a.k.a. Van Guy lives in a van in Jesus's driveway, wears the same clothes everyday and drinks a 36 pack of Natural Light a day. I really wish Van Guy would go live down by the river. He gives me the creeps.

Today a new character entered the scene. He may have just been making a cameo, but with the way Van Guy drinks I'm guessing he's going to be a regular. We were returning home from a walk to the bakery when we saw this:

I do own binoculars, but I prefer my telephoto lens.

A man I have already affectionately named Can Guy. He appeared to be homeless but he had a pretty sweet set-up with a bike that had an attached trailer and he had obviously been busting his butt collecting cans. He told us that he collected $300.00 in cans just on the Fourth of July- pretty impressive. When we arrived home Jesus was bringing out bag after bag of empty beer cans left-over from Van Guy. This guy hit the jackpot. I don't know why he is in the situation he is in, but Van Guy and Can Guy might have the start of a "beautiful" relationship.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pet Day

Today was Pet Day at Aven's daycare. As luck would have it I had the day off, so I got the opportunity to take Grace Dog to visit Aven's class. I'm pretty sure it was one of the most terrifying experiences of Grace's life.

Grace tried desperately to burrow into my chest as she was quickly surrounded by 8 toddlers, 3 babies, and 5 teachers. She's just a big 60 pound scaredy-cat.

It wasn't all bad for Grace, I took enough biscuits so that each child could feed her one. Aven got a little miffed when I gave biscuits to the other kids. She wanted to be the hot-shot dog treat feeder.

Grace's nightmare, come true. One little girl was so excited that she laughed and squealed the entire time we were there. It was a fun day for Aven, even if it was at the expense of Grace's sanity.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Aven has recently entered what is commonly referred to as the "terrible two's". I always thought it happened around age two, but after doing some reading I have learned that the terrible two's start during the second year of life, usually somewhere between 15 and 18 months. Aven's pediatrician likes to joke that the terrible two's start around 18 months and last until about 18 years- ha, ha.

The thing that has surprised me so much about her stages is that the changes they bring seem to happen overnight. One day she was a happy-go-lucky toddler, content to play with her toys independently and rarely interested in stuff out of her reach. The next day she was constantly whining for something on the kitchen counter or dining room table that she couldn't have like a nail file or Ian's i-touch. If she doesn't get what her little heart desires she has a classic toddler melt-down. Several melt-downs a day is really starting to wear me out. I find myself asking Ian "do you REALLY think this is normal?" about five times a day, to which he responds "yes, what gave you the impression that having kids was going to be easy?". At least in between meltdowns she is fun, pleasant, and often downright hilarious.

Here's to the in-between!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

State Fair

We took Aven to the State Fair for the first time. She absolutely loved the animals. She also fought to get out of the stroller whenever possible so that she could try to pick up repulsive stuff off the ground like cigarette butts and used straws. Ian, my mom, and I took turns chasing her. We had fun.

Aven met a friendly goat . . .

. . . petted this sheep on the nose and then promptly stuck her finger in her mouth- ewww! . . .

. . . and was entertained by the fun house mirrors for about 5 seconds before spotting something on the ground she wanted to pick up.

Next year she'll be old enough to go on a pony ride and get sugared up on cotton candy :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pucker Up

Aven recently went through a phase in which she didn't want anything to do with Ian if I was anywhere near. She wouldn't let him pick her up or hold her unless I wasn't home. She only wanted me. Our pediatrician warned us that this could happen and that it's totally normal. It didn't make it any less heartbreaking. Fortunately she has emerged from this difficult phase and into a completely fabulous phase in which she wants to kiss everyone in sight (as long as it's someone she knows). She also loves to kiss her toys, Grace Dog, and she even kissed her own toes in the bathtub tonight. I have to confess that this has got to be my favorite phase so far. She doesn't give what you might consider a real kiss. She presses her face up to your cheek (or arm, or leg) and sticks her tongue out as she makes a kissing sound. I've even been nipped by her baby teeth on a few occasions when she was a little too aggressive with her technique. I am grateful that her difficult phases seem to be peppered with heart-meltingly sweet phases like this one. Until she learns how to give a "normal" kiss I will proudly walk into work everyday with the remnants of a slobbery kiss on my cheek and a smile on my face because I get the opportunity to be a mom.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Ian and I went mountain biking at The Canyons today. One thing that I love about Utah is that you can go from cool, thick forest terrain to . . .
. . . dry, dusty desert terrain in a matter of minutes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Time Wrap-Up

With my summer vacation very near its end I am feeling very ready to go back to work. One thing I love about being a teacher is that I get to spend a quarter of every year as a domestic engineer a.k.a. stay-at-home-mom. Another thing I love about my job is that just when I start to feel mom-burn-out I get to go back to it, which will give me a much needed break from all of the domestic engineering I've been doing. Don't get me wrong, I love being at home with my daughter, playing with her and getting to see her achieve developmental milestones rather than hearing about them second hand from her daycare teacher, but I seriously need a break. This lifestyle is killing me. I don't know how people do it full time, year in and year out. I think it's far harder than being a working mom in many ways and I have a seriously high level of respect for anyone who does this job full time. It's hard for me to put into words why staying home is so hard for me, but I often feel like I never really get to go home from work. The only comparison I can think of is if I lived in my classroom. While I realize that I am still going to have to do all the same stuff I have been doing all summer with less time to do it I somehow know that it will be easier than this. I talked to the mom of one of my students last year who said "I think some of us are better parents because we work". I have always appreciated that she said that to me- it helped ease some of the guilt I felt last year for leaving my baby in daycare to go back to work.

Now that I have that off my chest, let me share some of my favorite moments from my summer with Aven:

Playing at Red Butte Gardens on a weekly basis.

Spending time at the cabin and getting to see countless hilarious facial expressions every day.

Getting plenty of exercise chasing Aven wherever we went.

Getting dirty on a daily basis.

Playing at the park with friends

Hiking in Milcreek Canyon

And last but not least- relaxing and playing at home.

It's been an unbelievably fun summer. By about Christmas I will be excitedly looking forward to doing it all again next summer!