Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sneak Peek of Cruz @ Nine Months

Last Thursday, Darcy from At Play Photo came over to capture some photos of our little man at nine months.  We started in his room, taking pictures of him standing tall by his book shelf or reading But Not the Hippopotamus in his big chair.  He hammed it up for her, showing his pearly whites and scrunching up his nose.  And while I relished the opportunity to sit back and watch as someone else snapped pictures of my sweet boy, I couldn't help but remember the last time Darcy was in Cruz's room, when he was just six days old.  We've come a long way since that peaceful little morning at home and our rambunctious little man is keeping us on our toes.  

I've loved all our photo shoots with Darcy, but must say, Thursday was my favorite.  In a little over two hours, we managed to travel from our house, to downtown Waterloo, and back to our house.  And after posing and shooting and changing and smiling, we ended the photo shoot with a sunset, a galvanized bucket, some bubble bath, and a naked baby boy.  I would have given anything to climb inside Cruz's head at that moment, wondering what he thought of being stripped down to nothing, in the middle of our backyard, in front of a strange lady snapping pictures of him in a bucket.  He had the funniest look on his face!  

It's been pretty special sharing these milestone ages with Darcy.  With just one shoot left before our little boy turns one, I find myself so thankful for the piles of pictures that serve as documentation of a year that is has been the best of our lives.  

Until next time, here is our newest sneak peek.   

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Suppertime Fun

Today, while I was uploading some videos on my computer, Cruz crawled over to watch.  You could tell he was completely mesmerized by my voice and his face on the screen.  He would watch really quietly, then look at me to see if I was making the noise he heard.  When he watched himself do the 'So Big' on camera, he copied himself and did it again!  Pretty cute.

The Secret Garden

We found a place this summer.  A place where Weeping Willow branches wisp the ground beneath them and wild lily flowers shoot up to the blue sky above.  A place where bright green lily pads create a blanket for the red and yellow Koi fish that swim below, just waiting for a fist-full of food to graze the surface of their water home.  A place where cobblestone paths lead to wild prairie flowers, handcrafted Adirondack chairs are nestled beside oak trees, and milkweed grows at your fingertips.

We found a place.

A faraway place.

Okay, so maybe it's not exactly the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel I paint, but it is a great little hideaway place I had no idea existed.  The Cedar Valley has its fair share of beautiful parks and is even better known for its great bike trails.  One day this summer, Google helped me discover our very own Botanical Gardens.  Who knew Waterloo had Botanical Gardens?!  So, one afternoon, we went to scope it out.  And my, what a little treasure I found.


There are walkways and benches, Adirondack chairs for the young and old, a sandbox built for the Duggar family, and a Koi pond with lily pads and stone frogs that spit water in the air.  There are watering cans for the littles to help keep the flowers pretty, and a railroad system with trains, covered bridges, trees, and tiny people.  If one looks closely, one may also discover the remains of old prehistoric pets that used to roam the area.  

Last night, we beat the heat and had a picnic under the Weeping Willow tree.  With sweet tea and Popeye's Chicken, we munched and talked and made plans for future picnics.  Then, we explored.  Beau taught us all kinds of tricks, like knocking the concrete edge of the Koi pond to send the signal that food was in store, or using the pollen of the orange lilies to make face paint.  Cruz felt his first fish nibble and squeezed milk out of a milkweed plant.  It was quiet and peaceful.  


On the way back home, we talked about traditions.  Beau was thinking about the idea after one of his clients was talking about a Christmas in July tradition they have with their family.  And while putting up the Christmas tree, filling stockings, and singing 'Silent Night,' sounds a little weird amidst heat indexes of 100 degrees, I hope one of ours includes a picnic, some Popeye's chicken, and a weeping willow tree.  

And maybe a Koi pond, :)  

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy to be Home

Saturday night, about six o'clock, a mini-van of four tired, but renewed Price Lab colleagues pulled into the parking lot behind the school.  In the parking lot sat a single car, parked beside the 30-minute parking sign, with a daddy and his son leaning against its side, pointing at us as we pulled in.  It wasn't the movie-like airport greeting, complete with a sign that read, 'Welcome Home Mommy' and a bouquet of flowers in the hands of the man who had missed me so, but the emotions were all the same.  I caught one look at the two of them waiting for me and lost it.  It had been four days apart, the longest Beau and I had been apart in seven years, and by far the longest I have been away from Cruz.  I was overjoyed to see the two of them and couldn't stop kissing those chubby cheeks the rest of the night.

The conference I attended was great, but the opportunity to get to know three of my colleagues away from school was the highlight of the trip.  It was a new adventure for me traveling by myself, and I had to pay attention to the details Beau usually takes upon himself when we travel: lugging my suitcase around the airport, stuffing my carry-on bag in the overhead bin, and making sure I had my hotel room key with me.  There were things about the independence I enjoyed.  A luxury hotel room all to myself, the freedom to go to bed, wake up, and shower without bothering anyone, and a queen-sized bed for one.  I realized I could never have a job that required me to live out of a suitcase, but a chance to get away from the usual routines of my job every now and then is definitely an added bonus. 

The conference we attended was ASCD's Leader 2 Leader Conference.  ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is an educational leadership organization that seeks to advance best practices in education and improve the school experience for every learner.  Its Whole Child initiative takes learning beyond the academic achievement of a student and develops approaches to ensure that every student is Healthy, Safe, Supported, Engaged, and Challenged.  These Whole Child tenets have been at the forefront of our school's mission for quite some time, and we were awarded the first ever ASCD Whole Child Vision in Action Award last year for our work in these areas.

It's pretty amazing to sit in a room with teachers, administrators, and policy makers from all over the world and have them recognize the name, 'Price Laboratory School.'  It's pretty amazing to share stories with teachers from Boston Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, and Orange County Schools, and realize the magnitude of the profession we are in.  I became a little more comfortable with this whole Twitter world, and feel ready and re energized for the upcoming school year.  I am thankful to teach at a pretty cool place, and especially thankful for the amazing group of people I get to work with everyday. 

Cruz had a whirlwind of visitors while I was gone; in fact, Beau didn't have a whole lot of time to just play 'dad,' but had enough to realize all that really does go into Cruz's day-to-day schedule.  It felt pretty good to hear him say, 'Wow, I didn't realize all that you take care of for him.'  He is the best dad, however, and made sure Cruz was bathed, fed, and well-rested before my return Saturday.  Between Cruz's grandmas and great-grandma, he had more than enough love and attention for four days.  Cruz even had a day with Charly, complete with a car ride to my parents' in Allison.  Beau periodically sent pictures to keep me in the loop about their 'guys' weekend,' and we even 'tried' Skyping Friday night.  Friday night was a little interesting for the two of them, as he tried spending the night at my parents, only to wake up with a shoulder he couldn't move and a baby who refused to sleep.  Beau ended up driving home in the middle of the night and icing his shoulder while Cruz took over my side of the bed.  

We made it and each learned a little bit more about ourselves in the process.  All in all, we've got a pretty strong network of people who keep our life afloat when the waves of change come our way.  I'm so thankful to be home, but even more thankful for the people in our lives.  Cruz is one lucky little boy, and his parents don't have it so bad, either.

We were happy to see each other.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Leavin' on a Jet Plane...

This is how Cruz feels about me leaving for four days...

Be good for your dad and your grandmas!  I will miss you so much!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Parades, Parks and Pizza Pies!

It was another busy weekend at the Jorgensen household.  We both felt like it was a three-day weekend; I guess we just packed in a three-day weekend's events into two, which tonight, leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed as I look to the week ahead.  This week is a short one at home for me.  In two days, I'm embarking on an adventure without my two boys.  I was given the opportunity to attend a wonderful conference in Washington D.C., and couldn't pass it up.  I'm going with three other great colleagues for what's sure to be an exciting opportunity and a great way to energize my mind and spirit for the upcoming school year.  With that said, however, it's never easy leaving this baby of mine, especially as we inch closer to the end of my summer at home.  I just feel like every day is so precious, and as the days keep filling up, I can feel it slipping away.  So, these days, I try and fill up with as much joy and fun as I can possibly squeeze in.  

This weekend, we squeezed in lots of summertime.  

We sat curbside, caught a rainbow assortment of Tootsie Rolls, and watched Grandpa Curt in the parade at Waverly's annual, Heritage Days celebration.  I love parades, and realized how much better they are when candy is involved.  The streets were bustling with young and old.  Kids with rosy cheeks and swimsuit tops threw candy with all their might to their friends.  Adults marched on the hot pavement, passing out American flags and red carnations to old ladies (sorry, Mom).  Music played, pork queens practiced their beauty queen wave, and little boys without shirts begged for a squirt of water from the firetrucks.  It was hot, but the steamy temperatures just seemed fitting for the 10:30 parade.  We welcomed ice cold bottles of water and devoured freezy pops before they melted.

Cruz loved the parade.  There he sat curbside between Beau and I, fedora on his head and beads around his neck, gladly welcoming the frequent 'treats' tossed in his lap from a parade participant who thought he was cute.  Twizzlers and Domino's Pizza cups, McDonald's cookies, a map of the state of Iowa, and a Frisbee. 

And of course, freezy pops.

Four generations!  Notice Cruz's scrunchy smile.  These are genes he got from his Uncle Jordan, who was known for this look as a baby (with lots of pictures to prove).

After cooling off at Dad's shop and grabbing some lunch, we headed home for a nap and a plan to use up the produce we scored at the lovely Farmer's Market.  Our collection of fresh basil and rosemary, eggplant and pepper, and tomato and garlic begged for a homemade pizza night.  There is nothing better in the world than a pizza crust, some fresh mozzarella, and summertime produce, cooked on a hot pizza stone, and paired with a glass of red wine.  

I love pizza nights, and must say, we're getting better (and smarter) about them all the time.  We started pizza-making business Martha Stewart style.  We even bought a bread-machine in order to perfect the homemade pizza crust.  To this day, we have five different kinds of flour in our pantry and at least that many types of yeast.  We'd settle on making two different sauces, as we could never come to a compromise, and would spend entire afternoons chopping every possible pizza topping known to man (as we could never come to a compromise).  The pizzas always turned out great, as I don't think I've ever had a 'bad' pizza, but by the time we were finished with our process, we were exhausted and ready to put the pizza cookbook away for the time being.  

Saturday night, we simplified.  We purchased two store-bought crusts from Wal-Mart, as well as two pizza sauces.  Both were Classico, stored in a tiny little glass container, and found by the spaghetti sauces at your local grocer.  One was a green pesto sauce, and the other, a sun-dried tomato tapenade.  Going easy on the crust and sauces allowed us to go nuts on the toppings.  We caramelized onions over the stovetop until they tasted like candy, sauteed mushrooms in fresh garlic and butter, and roasted eggplant and red pepper in the oven until soft and sweet.  We sliced fresh mozzarella, an absolute MUST-HAVE in homemade pizza making, and formed a pizza-making competition, judging on appearance and taste.  We drank wine, discussed what we would serve at our very own Italian restaurant, and introduced Cruz's taste buds to flavors of basil and eggplant, red pepper and pesto sauce.   

Pizza #1:  Ashley's 'Green Machine.'  A thin layer of pesto, paired with mushrooms, onion, and eggplant, and topped with mozzarella.  

Pizza #2: Beau's 'Pizza-tini.'  A more traditional style pizza, with red sauce and pepperoni, mushrooms and red pepper, garlic and fresh rosemary.


So who won out in the end?  While both were delicious and masterfully done, we decided Beau's, 'Pizza-tini' took the award for best presentation, while my 'Green Machine,' won on taste.  And it turns out, they warm up pretty good for breakfast, too.

Aside from our parade-going, pizza-making weekend, we managed to find time for a few other joys of summertime... some time in the pool.  The pool that Cruz now thinks he can crawl out of...

...and fresh berries.  We are all big fans around here.

...and parks.  The other night, we welcomed a quick, unexpected rain shower, followed by a much needed break from the scorching heat.  Beau was at a late appointment, so Cruz and I escaped to the park.  Dressed in his Captain America best, we walked the paved trails, watched the Mother Goose parade around with her babies in a row, and played catch on the bike bridge.  Cruz has just recently learned to play catch, and it's our new favorite pastime.  It was so still out, so quiet and calm, and felt so lucky to have each other.  

Cruz is officially a crawling maniac!  He is into everything, and getting pretty good at traveling from room to room.  He gets really excited when he sees something in reach, especially if it's his friend, Jade.  

 He's also becoming a little ham.  His scrunchy face is his latest trick, and he pulls it out at the funniest times.  


More in store this week, including a basement project that's just about complete.  Wishing you lots of summertime and some relief from the heat! 


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