Tuesday, December 3, 2013

All the Fingers on Your Hand

It is astonishing yet, at the same time, totally believable that I am the mother of a FIVE year old.  Wowza!  And let me tell you, this kid has been rocking my socks off lately.  He is just so full of life.  He is such a delight to be around and leaves no stone left unturned.


Here’s the yearly birthday interview to highlight a few of his favs:


It’s always fun to see how he’s going to answer the questions.  The “three words that describe” me answer made me giggle.  Clearly he didn’t quite understand what I was asking…which is why his answer “crime” doesn’t concern me too much.  Ha!

Anyway, some of MY favorite things about five-year-old Easton:

·         He’s been totally into telling jokes for the last few months.  But just recently he’s figured out how to make up his own.  Some of my favs…

Where does a car like to play? The park!
What do Smurfs like to do at the beach? Ride their Smurf boards.

What does the mail learn about at school? Letters.

What’s a toilet’s favorite day? Potty day.  (Clearly he had his birthday in mind here…potty day/party day.)

·         He never lets me leave without a hug and a kiss.  If I head out the door at preschool or day care he’ll stop me in my tracks and say, “Wait Mom!  I need a hug and a kiss!”  I’m sure these days are numbered, so I’m soaking it all in.

·         His passion for trucks, tractors, and big machines continues to grow.  He’s really gotten into Legos the past few months and is constantly creating and inventing new vehicles that are capable of performing any number of tasks.  So cool to see his imagination at work.

·         He is the best snuggler EVER.  He loves it when I wear “comfy clothes” and will ask me multiple times throughout the week (sometimes multiple times in one day!) if I will snuggle with him.  I realize this, too, is probably something that won’t last forever so I rarely turn down a snuggle invite!

·         When he woke up the morning of his birthday I told him something was different about him.  After deliberating for a few minutes I told him the difference must be that he was now five instead of four.  He looked at me with the biggest, brightest smile and said, “Yeah, that must be it!  And I think my voice sounds a little different.  And look at my hands!”  Just LOVE that kid.


The past five years of being Easton’s mommy has been an absolute joy.  His smile comes easy and often, and his beaming personality is warming and contagious to everyone.  People ask, “Is he always in a good mood?” “You can just tell he loves life!” “He’s such a fun kid!”  And he really, truly, is.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Conversations Between Friends

A quick bit from earlier this week. We don't exactly converse in a straight line, so hopefully you can follow.
Kim: Yesterday Max told me in the sweetest little voice, "I love you so much I'm going to fart.
What a riot.
Kim: I had to ask him to say it again and it came out the same way. No space, no forgotten comma.
Dana: Probably at the same time that Ember was saying "poop on Mommy's head" and giggling ecstatically like only middle-school aged boys should about something like that.

Kim: Ha! We talk lots about poop + head + butt + stink. But its funnier coming from a girl.
Dana: How does she even know that's inappropriate, which makes her giggle?

Kim: You deserve her because you love me so much. You know that right? I'd have a girly girl because I wouldn't know what to do with one, and you have one just like me.

Dana: Yes, it's like living my life with you all over again. Only now I'm in charge and supposed to be responsible. Thanks for that.
Kim: Ha! Daycare? Its not an Easton thing at all. If she lived with Gage I could understand it.

Dana: At least I can rest assured I'll like her as a teenager and grown-adult.

Kim: Hahaha! Let's hope so.
Dana: No, definitely not day care. I'm praying she doesn't say it at day care. 

Kim: I love it!! My kids pick up lots of things at daycare. Its been a great gateway drug for elementary school.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Work. Run. Heat.

Hold onto your seats, here's a summer update thanks to my phone camera.

Summer has found us with more than a couple irons in the fire. We really ramp up work this time of year with rodeo entries, so why not tear down some walls in the house?? Its always an adventure to unearth what is hidden behind the sheetrock.

Not the biggest hardware we've found holding the house together, but it is definitely more than necessary. With solid wood walls on both sides of the studs throughout the house, the home was built to last. We've left most of the original walls intact.

Hot days + stressed out mama = chasing children with garden hose. Believe it or not, this was their idea and they had a blast running away from the cold water.

15 minutes later. Soaking went and loving it!

A few thoughts on my summer stress relief. A couple of months ago I took up running. Yeah, I know. Anybody who knew me as a Chester Flyer can attest that my 7th through 10th grade years I participated in cross country as the slowest person on the team. One year, I didn't finish last in all of the races. I was in horrible shape, had bad knees, and zero athletic ability or coordination. I went out for cross country because my older brother did and I either had to participate with him, or ride the school bus to and from school every day. (The horrible plight of the American Teenager.) So for me to tell you that I enjoy running now is kind of a big deal. I'm in better shape now than I ever was when cross country started in the fall and my times are better than they've ever been. I'll probably never win a race, but I'm doing it.

I find that running makes me less "short" with people, including the children. My patience is better, and I have more energy through the day. I figure I can run, so I probably should. I am fortunate to be alive, and healthy enough to run, and taking off down the highway is my way of saying thanks.

Also, I've had crazy nightmares about running for most of my adulthood. Running away from danger, running toward loved ones, running around lost. Always running. My time in cross country, while enjoyable in the social aspect, was a little haunting. I joke that when cheering someone on you'll usually hear, "Way to go! Keep going - you're doing great!" However, I remember on more than one occasion hearing complete strangers throughout the course cheer for me, "You're almost there. Its ok, just a little farther!" I must have been a pitiful sight, and I knew it.

So just like 15 years ago, I'm running because I can. For my cross country coach who always ran back to finish practice with me, and now walks with a pronounced limp from a massive stroke. For the students I used to teach who have passed away far too soon. And for the times in my life when I may not be able to run. Today I run.

My running partner, some days. I can tell you this: if you think you're in great shape and want to brag about being in great shape, start running behind a stroller. Max doesn't come all the time. In the perfect world, he's still asleep when I get up to run because he needs the rest. But many days he'll tag along, bringing a few toys, a bowl full of breakfast cereal and my phone full of music. Sure, we go a little slower and sometimes we walk more than run but this time together where he'll fit in the stroller and come willingly is fleeting.

Get this - I ran so much for a while that I got horrible shin splints. Apparently you can get them when you push a little too hard and increase distances too fast. I joke that if there's a way to run incorrectly, then I'd find a way. You'll be happy to know that after backing way off for a few weeks and new shoes, the shin splints are gone. And no vegetables were harmed in the process either.

Look - I ran a 5K! I crawled out of bed, secured my hair in a headband and sweated it out with almost 150 other people for the 10th Annual Boss Cowman 5K. Here's Kayla, one of my former students and I after we finished. She's a new runner too and we're probably going to be awesome together for the next 60 years at the BC5K.

Alright, enough about running. I really have been meaning to pop in a post about running because it has really changed my perspective on a few things.

One more picture I got a kick out of. In taking the laid back approach to summer, I spend most days (and every evening) in a headband. I have to get the hair out of my face the minute I leave work so I usually just throw it back. I was taking a picture to show you (all of my faithful drought readers) when Max snuck in and photo bombed. I totally deserve it. :)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Not You, Me

Welcome back! I hope you haven't missed any daily updates we've sent. Kidding aside, we have been living, growing, helping and parenting. I thought I'd jump back in feet first with a post on our evening outing to the park and thoughts on where we've been lately.

At three and a half, Max still enjoys riding in the baby swing. The big kid swings mean staying a little closer to the ground for now and this boy is full of adventure.

You may notice the casted arm. We've been given the go ahead to take off the cast (as of today) so throughout the weekend we'll transition out of it. Six weeks ago Max was riding on his brother, the bull while Jack and I were out of the room. The bull landed on the rider and the next day (I let him whimper through the night before I figured out it was legit) we got xrays and a cast. It actually broke both bones and they found three separate fractures. Its healing great and he's been surprisingly patient with it. It hasn't slowed him down enough as he looks for new and exciting ways to scare his mother every day. If Gage can handle it, then Max thinks it'll be a piece of cake for him too.

Gage finished up Kindergarten a few weeks ago and even though I've been trying hard to change up daytime schedule and keep things fresh, he's bored enough to find all sorts of trouble. I don't want to get into the specifics to protect the guilty parties, but he brought me to tears a couple of times this week. In an effort to understand what's going on I've come up with two thoughts to try and calm myself. First, I remember living at my parent's house the summers after my freshman and sophomore years of college. After the freedom of the dorms and the schedule of college, going back home to their rules and expectations was really challenging. One of those summers I was planning our wedding and preparing for that milestone which didn't help. Perhaps Gage feels the same after a year at school away from a nagging and controlling mom? Second, the kid is amazing. He catches on fast, he loves to learn, his memory is scary accurate and he knows things he shouldn't know (an encyclopedia of random animal facts). He has always been a spirited child. Endless energy, unlimited questions and a thirst of adventure has kept us on our toes for 6+ years. The highs with Gage around are incredibly high. However, it has to balance out somewhere and I truly believe that it makes his lows that much lower. We're working on it. He really is awesome 98% of the time.

I haven't posted anything about his first wrestling season yet either. This past week he spent two days at wrestling camp in a neighboring town learning technique and skills for future seasons. I really do want to put up some more info and links to video from wrestling season. He lost the very first match he wrestled and then went on to a very successful year, coming home from a lot of hardware. Fortunate to take both the district and regional championships he headed into the the state tournament with a single loss on his record. He lost one match in overtime at state, came through wrestlebacks and ended up in third place in his weight and age group. His season record for his first year in the sport was 20-2. We are so proud of his dedication and excitement during the season. He really excels in the land of the unknown. The bigger the challenge, the better.

Thanks for coming back to read. I really have been needing to jot down some ideas and get back into the blog. So much to say and I have a list of new posts needing to happen. A quick rundown of a few things:
  • Summer rodeo season is underway, beginning the same day as the start of a new daycare.
  • After a visit from my former cross country coach, I've laced up the running shoes again.
  • We were able to take a quick weekend trip to the Black Hills, including Mt Rushmore.
  • Our niece and nephews bring all kinds of joy to our lives and we treasure our time together.
  • Gage turned 6, got a Mohawk, finished Kindergarten and played tball!
  • Max broke an arm, almost lost a finger, nurtures an interest in singing and dancing and makes new friends at new daycare.
  • He also finds an "antler" at the park.

Thanks for seeing this!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

30 Years of Life: 25 years of Friendship

Senior class trip: Sioux Falls SD 2001. Thank goodness for curling irons and perms, eh?

Prom, freshman year. You went with my brother. I stayed home and tried to grow taller. PS, it didn't work.

Freshmen in college. Right? You were playing basektball at DSU and I was a state FFA officer at SDSU. I can tell from my nasty home highlights and your buffness. Holy crap, let's do that workout! mmm, maybe not.

 An actual nice, mature picture of us from our senior year of high school. I didn't know it was possible. We really grew up and blossomed at a young age. So lovely are we.
Five minutes later. If there's any "type" of picture I have more than tongue-sticking-out pictures, its butt shots. So maybe that's your "thing". Congratulations. :)
Alright, I know. Its fun to rib you a little bit, but the truth is that you mean the world to me. I don't know what I'd do without you and I'm so lucky to have you in my life and the lives of my family. I'm nodding off at the computer so I better cut it short. There's more to say, but its going to have to wait. Until then, one more letter that put it into words pretty well. Just pretend I'm writing it to you instead. Enjoy the rest of your birthday. I hope David spoils the crap out of you. You deserve it.

Dana turns 30: Picture of Youth

Road trip! Thankfully nobody let us drive. That was never a good idea. We didn't have a problem driving fast, but I'm glad I never met us on the road. Thanks for keeping me safe, and shame on you for never letting me drive your cars. I only ran over you once, and that wasn't even with a car.

 Over the years, I've gotten kind of a bad rap for being "that person" who sticks her tongue out in pictures. And yet, when I flilp through my pictures of you I see the SAME THING. Truce?
 We could publish a book with the correspondence from our youth. We'll title it Lock Up Your Daughters: They Are Probably Crazy.
 I LOVE the stack of moderately sized film cameras on the table. Hehe.

A couple more posts, hang in there.

Dana Turns 30: Flashback 1996

I know I'm posting these out of order, but I think you'll enjoy them anyway. Right Dana? :) PS, I still remember the calf Norman and SO wish I had a picture of him. I probably have gotten one from your mother, but that would have required some forethought. Also, the idea of you at the salebarn picking out a calf cracks me up! Let's do that again sometime k? :)

 I don't remember helping you babysit any cousins so clearly "Mean Old Brice" put the kibosh on that. Or I was off showing cattle or something.

I don't have great pictures from this Dance Line performance, but I have this. Man, were we cool!
Marching band! So many great memories stem from the work and trip required for marching band. Quite a few of them are even happy memories. Here's our practice uniforms, obviously. Where's Waldo? Also, are you even carrying your trumpet?

If I still knew how to play an instument, and owned one, you better believe I'd call you up and play you a song. Instead, I'll probably have the kids call and sing to you. I guess they're kind of like an instrument. Full of spit, loud and people get pretty cranky if you drop them.


VanZanten Family Vacation

The amount I had to look to find something awesome from Dana was way too easy. She sent this in 1999. Just take a look at the envelope. I'm not a hoarder...just following directions.
She clearly stole the dinosaur stickers from the letters he brothers were supposed to write for their friends. :)

Here's what was inside. In my opinion, a treasure. On a side note, I remember sitting the back of a VanZanten vehicle, writing letters on the way home from ball games using the headlights of the vehicle behind us to see.

I think this picture was from 1998, on a band trip to Chicago, but you get the picture. It'd be a close reference to the letter.
This picture was most definitely taken at a livestock judging contest. I drug Dana along because we needed another body and her brothers were already going anyway. (at least one of them, I'm not sure if Andy has seen livestock yet). hehe

I expect a letter from the next family trip you take too. :)


On turning 30


Welcome to the world of 30. Since you plastered my picture all over Facebook (thank you for that, by the way), I figured I'd take a turn and share a few stories and pictures here, in a few installments that will post throughout the day. Enjoy. :)

We met in Kindergarten. Mrs. Poppen's class. I look at Gage's Kindergarten class and pray everyday that he starts a friendship and real and wholesome as ours. Who would have known that 25 years later, we still adore each other. I remember the story your mom tells about calling Mrs. Poppen to ask if 'The Franken Girl' was ok for you to hang out with. Thank goodness she said yes. :) Check out this picture I found of us...there you are in the your white dress, red bows, curled hair and fancy black shoes looking mighty fine. At the other end of the Kindergarten girl line is me, in my Little House on the Prairie dress and lion mask. Crayons are still awesome.

Summers were always difficult. You spent a lot of time in Colton with family, church and activities and I did the same in Madison. The 7 or 8 miles that separated us in the summer might as well have been an entire state. Thankfully, our parents were great about letting us sent letters back and forth. And fortunately, some have survived the test of time. I like this one best.

Throughout elementary school, it was pretty evident that our teachers didn't want us in the same class. Or maybe our parents requested that, at any rate, we were reunited a few times, and especially enjoy joint adventures like this fourth grade field trip. How is there only one fanny pack in this picture, and two pairs of Hammer pants? Also in style: windsuits, tight-rolled pants and cheesy grins.

And then we graduated. Through high school, some of our activities overlapped, others did not. We went our separate ways after CHS, attending different colleges. I really thought the separation would make life between us awkward. I feel so fortunate that our friendship is stronger now than ever before. Getting married and having babies has taken the 400 miles between us and given us something to talk about every day. I value the time we can spend together so much, even if that time is 10 minutes of virtual chat a day. It keeps me sane.

My favorite part of us? Sharing the joys and challenges of being Moms. I think its what we've always been meant to do. Gage was so lucky to spend a day with you last summer. Knowing my kids know you and love you means the world. Thanks for the letter. Anytime I see your handwriting in the mailbox, my heart leaps with excitement and anticipation. You never let me down.

Have a great birthday. Check back again later. I have some great letters you sent me and pictures of some high school adventures. I just need to do a little censoring first. :)

Love you dear,