Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I'm still alive!!!!!!

My goodness - It's been over a month since I posted here. I guess I don't even need to go into detail about just how busy I have been, right?

This year was supposed to be my "year off." I am only working on Saturday mornings, but I am so busy with other activities that I am never home. While I really enjoy being able to help with the kids' schools and activities, I will admit I am TIRED!!!!!

So, I have made some big decisions. First and foremost - I will never (I repeat - NEVER) help plan another high school reunion. This has me nearly tearing my hair out these days! Next year, I am also taking a step back from Girl Scouts. I have run into some less-than-thankful parents this year, and it's really made my experience as a leader less fun. So next year, I am going to pass the reins to someone else and act as just an Assistant Leader.

Our little Drama Club is also causing some stress to me. It's our first try with an elementaryage club, so there have been a few bumps on the road. I was thinking that I would not continue to help with that next year too; however, our school district's redistricting took care of that first. My kids will be moving to a new (yes, BRAND new) school next year, so all of our school activities will have to change.

I know I will continue to help in the classrooms - I truly enjoy that - and I think once I trim the fat with our other activities I'll be a bit happier.

Also - I am giving some thought into going back to school next year. I have been thinking about this for years, but never really had the opportunity to do it. I am still not sure it's the right thing to do, but we are going to explore it more carefully.

Lastly, we are having some budget issues. We really need to find a system that works for us so we can stay on track - right now we have found ourselves in the uncomfortable situation of having a little more debt each month than we can pay off. :( This had become top priority for me right now - we need to get things under control!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like....

Well, maybe I am not quite ready for Christmas yet, but I feel like it's been on my mind a lot. I was lucky to get an extra 30% off at Kohl's this week - AND they were giving out Kohl's Cash too! So guess who did a huge part of her holiday shopping???? Our family has lots of celebrations in the fall and winter - birthdays galore! So I managed to buy birthday gifts for all my fall birthdays and was also able to cross a number of gifts off my holiday list too! Plus, I earned Kohl's Cash, so I can shop for "free" next week!

When I am not busy shopping at Kohl's I've been

  • Working on Drama Club curriculum - it's our first attempt at a club for grades 1-5, and I wrote all the curriculum. I am crossing my fingers that the club runs smoothly when we start in October!
  • Planning our Brownie meetings through the end of December - some fun outdoor events, lots of crafts and a party or two!
  • Signed Ryan up for Boy Scouts.
  • Enjoyed my first morning ALONE - Jacob attended his first solo preschool session yesterday!
  • steam cleaning my carpets (it was on the to-do list for this fall, but I had to start due to a nasty, leaky trash bag!).
  • Homework, homework homework! It takes so much more organization to get TWO kids to sit down and complete their assignments after school!
  • Got to have a nice visit with an old friend - and meet her 3-month-old little man!
  • I am helping my mom plan a "sprinkle" for my sister (who is due with her 2nd baby in December). She's been blessed with a boy, and is now expecting a little girl!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So Sad

I heard some very sad news today. A friend from high school lost his 2-year-old daughter after a long battle with serious complications from illness. Emma just turned 2 on September 9th. She contracted meningitis as a very young infant and suffered massive brain injuries because of her illness.

Less than one month ago, I learned that another high school classmate lost his 3-year-old daughter as well. She suffered from some medical conditions as well, but both of these precious girls were not expected to leave this world so soon.

I have another (closer) friend whose daughter was diagnosed with a terminal illness last year. Follow-up genetic testing confirmed their younger son has the same disease. Neither child will live to see their 18th birthday.

I know that these children are indeed angels and have gone on to be in peace,but it's still so heartbreaking.

I am on the reunion committee for our 15th High School Reunion this fall - the event truly has a dark cloud hanging over it.

Please go hug your babies tightly - they are miracles.

Monday, September 14, 2009

School Days

(sorry no pics - I am bloggin' from work tonight, where I am covering for someone's vacation)

School started last week for my older two kids. What a change for us all! 3rd-grade is a lot more intense than 2nd grade - Maddie seems a little overwhelmed with the homework so far! Ryan is having a tough time with fullday school in 1st grade. So we are very slowly adjusting to our new fall schedule.

Jacob starts preschool tomorrow - he can't wait!!!!! I am so happy that he will finally be able to go to his own school. It's all he's been talking about for weeks!

I am trying to adjust to the schedule changes as well. This summer, we were very blessed to be laid-back and LAZY for nearly the whole 3 months. September has found me once again scheduled for PTO and Brownie events, as well as trying to find time to volunteer in the kids' schools.

I will admit that I love being home with just Jacob during the day. He loves being my little helper and we get so much done during our mornings. On Wednesday, we will be taking a Mommy & Me Music class together - I can't wait!

AND - since Jacob still takes a nice, long nap in the afternoon I have found myself with some Mommy-time! I have been using that time to sneak in some exercise - and I plan on sticking with that new routine! I also made plans to start walking with my neighbor on the mornings that Jacob is in school.

Blogging may be infrequent for now - I am just so busy with the school year STUFF. Hopefully we'll be back on track soon.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bargain Alert - CVS

I have no idea if this is at all CVS stores, or just mine, but I need to mention it. I went in for toothpaste, but found 90% summer items today!

Water Wings/Floaties for the pool - $.29!

Boogie Board - $.79!

Womens/Mens Flip Flops - $.99

"Crocs" (not real ones) - $.79!

I bought several pairs of the Crocs, since the boys love to wear those. How can you go wrong for $.79?????????

America on Wheels

Yesterday, we visited the America on Wheels museum. I am not a "car buff" by any means, but I enjoyed seeing the exhibits. The kids are so into cars right now (even Maddie!), so they enjoyed their visit a lot!

There was a Photo Op Spot to be driving a race car!

And a huge display about Mack Trucks - including a cab where you could "drive."

Throughout the museum there were plenty of "hands on" activities for the kids to learn and explore.

And I enjoyed the nostalgic presentation that went along with many of the displays.

On the second floor, we found a room just for kids - complete with license plate rubbings to make! We also found a neat education room too (which is perfect because we are considering a Girl Scout field trip there this fall!).

There was even a working jukebox - 5 songs for a quarter! We enjoyed The Lion Sleeps Tonight the most!

Friday, September 4, 2009

10 Percent

I have had something weighing on my heart lately, and I think I found a way to feel good about myself and help others in need. It's all about 10%

I have been concerned about how much my family consumes - in all areas of our lives. We eat out too much, we buy too many things and we have been taking less time to enjoy the important things in life. I don't like that I do it, and I don't like the lessons it's teaching my impressionable children. I care about financial future, our planet and people in need - I really, truly do. But my actions have been speaking louder than my words lately.

Today I heard some stories about homeless families in our area. My sister teaches in an inner-city district less than 10 miles from my home. Last year, that school district (just minutes away from my suburban neighborhood) had over 600 homeless children enrolled in its schools.

600 children.

And I sit in my home complaining that I need more storage space because our clothes do not fit into our closets and multiple dressers in the 3 spacious bedrooms (not to mention basement and garage) that we have.

Yet, it's really difficult for me to simply get rid of our things - things that we can (and do) use. So that's where the 10% comes in. I used this technique with Madeline once, while she was cleaning her room. She has too many stuffed animals, yet never wants to part with them. The last time we cleaned her room, I asked her to choose 9 animals to put back in her toy box - and then asked her to select ONE animal to give to charity. We did this until we went through all her animals. She still had tons of toys left, but pulled 10% of her toys to donate to charity. 10% doesn't seem like a lot, yet it's something.

I have decided to put 10% to work in other areas of our home too. Tonight, I tackled Jacob's closet. I pulled 10% of his clothes to give to charity - and he still could go weeks without wearing the same shirt twice! But his closet is less crammed, and I was able to fill almost an entire laundry basket with donations. I will be going through everyone's clothes - as well as our books, toys, media and household items - and giving 10% to someone who truly needs it. I won't miss that 10%, but I am sure it will make a HUGE difference to someone else.

Can you find 10% to give?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Meet my new Best Friend...

... Pam

(Okay, I'll be honest and say it's not even PAM that I love, but her less costly store brand sister).

We have kitchen table troubles. Our table has a wood top and we get water marks all the time. After doing some internet reading, I learned that rubbing some sort of oil into the wood will remove those nasty white water rings. I was using olive oil to do this, but one day I got the idea to use Pam instead. It was so much easier - and less messy! I simply spray it one, let it sit, and then buff it off with a rag.

I have been doing it once a week to remove any water marks.

But this morning, I noticed a new problem on the table. As some of you know, I work saturday mornings, so my husband is in charge while I am working. This means that the kitchen table usually does not get wiped clean after meals. LOL We also did not eat dinner at home saturday night, so I never looked at the table at all. Well, something sticky was on the table, and then the Sunday paper was sitting on top of it. YIKES! I had black ink words all over the table!

They did not budge with a good scrubbing, and I started to panic. But then I turned to Pam. I gave the table a liberal spray and let it sit for a few minutes. I gave it another good scrubbing AND THE INK CAME OFF!!

So Pam is truly my best friend these days! She's saved us from a life of table cloths more than once!

Friday, August 28, 2009

End-Of-Summer Party

We had our End-Of-Summer party on Wednesday. There was a small group of kids - my three plus 4 others - and I was lucky enough to have 2 other moms helping me!

I don't have the best photos, since I was the MC, the head chef and general Leader of the Fun, so I had little time to snap photos. But you can get a general idea of the beautiful day we had!

As our guests arrived, we handed out eyepatches and earrings (4 set for $1 at Walmart!). We started with a treasure hunt. I hid clues all over the yard, and the end result was a treasure chest (borrowed from Ryan's bedroom) filled with treasure (organza bags from the wedding section of the craft store filled with those colorful glass "gems"). There was one bag for each child - so no fighting over their booty! This was my favorite activity of the day - the kids worked together so nicely! The older kids who could read took turns reading clues and they all worked together to find the treasure (which was hiding under our tomatoes!).

We then spent some time doing pirate crafts. I had pirate suncatchers, little foam pirate ships and blank notebooks they were able to decorate with markers. I purchased all of these things for about $5 from the clearance aisle at Michael's.

Our last game was Pin The Patch on the Pirate. I simply drew a pirate on a piece of posterboard and made eyepatches from black construction paper. We used a bandana to cover their eyes. All of the kids got to choose a prize, so everyone was very happy!

We had a nice lunch consisting of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, yogurt, cheese & crackers, fruit, carrots & dip, Sun Chips and drinks. The grown ups had yummy chicken salad in whole wheat pitas.

Our afternoon ended with some water-fun. The kids did a Cannon Ball Toss (with water ballons) and then spent the rest of the afternoon playing in a tiny pool, the water table or in the sandbox.

Out guests all went home with pirate goody bags that held more pirate treasures (a Ring Pop, candy necklaces, pirate pencils and a few pirate gold coins).

Oh - Maddie and her best friend Madison asked if they could do a short play for us while we ate. So we were all treated to their short pirate drama - complete with a sword fight!

Friday, August 21, 2009

What a harvest!

The kids' school has a nice-size garden as part of their "outdoor classroom." The PTO asked for volunteer families to tend to the garden over the summer. All the volunteers were assigned a 5-day stretch in which we have to water, weed and harvest in the garden. In return, we are able to keep anything we harvest!

We spent 2 hours at the school this mornings. There weren't many weeds, but there was a lot to be harvested (in fact, there were many, many tomatoes past their prime). The kids had a blast picking the tomatoes and beans (which were pole beans, so quite different than the dwarf variety we have in our own garden) and peppers. They did a nice job of helping me take some of the rotten stuff to the compost bin - and of course they were GREAT with watering!

And checkout the goodies we took home with us today. The bowl of string beans is overflowing and taste so good raw! There were many different types of tomatoes (although most of the bigger varieties were rotting - they should have been picked weeks ago!) and we got several green peppers (there were a few red peppers, but they were also rotting).

The kids take little interest in our garden in our own yard - except to eat the yummy cantaloupe which is ripe now - so this was a good exercise for them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Party Time

It's nearly time for our annual end-of-summer party!

Next week we will host our 3rd annual End-of-Summer party. It started as a way to get the kids int he neighborhood back together before school started, but now it's just good old fun! This year, we are doing a pirate theme, which I am so excited about doing!

Today, I made the invitations. Our guest list is small (only 7 kids - plus my 3 - but we only needed 4 invitations due to groups of siblings).

First, I tore the edges off of some old linen resume paper I had. Then I made some tea (4 c. boiling water plus 8 tea bags) and let it cool. I gently crumpled the paper and dipped it in the tea (I think I dipped it about 3 times). Very carefully, I opened the paper and let it dry on our patio table (this took less than an hour to dry!).

I then used a super-fine Sharpie to write the party information on each piece of paper.

I rolled each invitation up scroll-style and tied it with a small piece of raffia.

We then cleaned and dried some empty water bottles and slid the invitations into the bottle. I used scraps of the tea-dyed paper to make labels and then tied a raffia bow on the front of the bottle.

Since I had all of these materials at home, the cost for these invitations was $00000!

We'll be hand-delivering these invitations tomorrow, and then I will dive into the rest of the plans. More to come....

A few more camp photos

Here are a few more photos from the kids' week at camps (Ryan was at Sports Camp; Maddie was at Horse Camp; Jacob was a super-trooper who put up with running the older kids to two different camps!).

New Neighbor????

So, about a week ago, I was outside hanging out the laundry and talking to my neighbor (who was overseeing repairs on his central a/c unit - it died on them on the first truly hot day of the summer!) and all of the sudden we saw *something* fall out of a tree and land between us. Turns out, it was a hawk - fairly large (crow-size or a little bigger) with a not-so-lucky bird (and not a little sparrow - a decent-size black bird!) in it's talons! It looked at us, readjusted the bird in it's clutches and flew away.

I thought our hawk-friend was a one-time deal, but then this weekend I found something right off our new patio. I think it's a hawk pellet (the fur, feather and bones that birds of prey don't digest - they cough it up about once a day).

Our Brownie troop had a wonderful time dissecting owl pellets during an overnight trip to our local zoo, so I had alittle experience dealing with pellets. The owl pellet was dry (and sanitized!) and the pellet I found was very dark and wet. I did a little research, and I am pretty sure this pellet belongs to my hawk friend. I am even thinking he may have been a red-tail hawk, since i read that they bite off pieces of prey (rather than eating them whole) and this pellet had very few whole bones in it.

I guess this means we have a new neighbor - one who is keeping the rodent and small bird population in check!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

School shopping!

My sister was lucky enough to get 30%-off at Kohl's this week, so we are taking advantage and doing our school shopping!

I love school shopping. No - I ADORE school shopping. I think it just takes me back to when I was a young child and a new school year meant so many new things. New school years mean loads of opportunities! (and, of course, I always met every goal - of course).

Thankfully, the kids don't need much this year. Maddie hit a growth spurt in January and I bought her all new pants at that time and they all still fit now! In fact, I actually have the next size up ready and waiting too! She has tons of shirts in her closets already too. So she needs a new pair of sneakers and possibly a new pair of dressier shoes (if we can find some she will actually wear). Ryan grew several inches this summer and none of his pants fit. I had enough stashed away to have a decent wardrobe, but I do need to supplement with some jeans. And he needs sneakers and shoes as well. And pajamas - the poor child tried on his fall/winter jammies the other night and they looked like capris! Jacob only needs sneakers and jeans (for some reason, Ryan never really wore 3T pants, so we have very few hand-me-downs in that size).

I did notice a great selection on the clearance racks too (I LOVE KOHL'S!) so I may have to buy some basics in the next size up for the older kids too. You can never have enough jeans and khakis!

I can't wait to go out with the kids tonight. Jacob and I had a potty-emergency stop at Kohl's this morning (coming home from the horse barn), so we chose jeans and sneakers (High-Top Chuck Taylors!!!!!! Can you say C-U-T-E???????) for him. That means I can have some special time with the older kids tonight!

And I am thinking that the evening may have to end with a stop at Rita's - it would only be out second time this summer!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Horse and Sports

That's the name of the game this week - Horses and Sports.

Ryan was lucky to be selected to attend two wonderful camps this summer - for FREE - at an excellent local park/estate which provides programing for our school district. He had a great time at a pirate-themed nature camp a few weeks ago. This week, he is sweating it out at a 3-day sports camp. They really keep those kids moving!

Maddie is spending the week at Horse Camp. This was her birthday gift (from back in May) from Craig and me. She LOVES LOVES LOVES it! We found this horse farm through a neighbor and are very pleased. Neither Craig nor I are big animal people, but Maddie just adores animals (specifically horses). She had no riding experience prior to camp, but after only one day we were told that she has vast amounts of natural ability! Today, she told me her horse broke out in a gallop and she nearly fell off (oh my!) but the instructors said she rode like a champ and hung on! I have to admit I am still a bit scared of these HUGE animals, and I am not a big fan of being around hot, stinky horse poop - but I am so happy Maddie has found something she loves.

Of course, her love of horses means we now have a HUGE need to find some more money in our already tight budget - she would love riding lessons this fall! I have been looking for "the right job" for nearly a year (with no luck) and almost sent a resume in for a position this week. On the surface, the job seemed like a good match, but we decided it would still be best for our family for me NOT to take this job. Instead, Craig is going to look into options for some side-jobs (which can hopefully pay for lessons). I am going to continue to stay home and only apply for any jobs which truly are the "right" thing.

Oh - here's a cutey-pie picture of Jacob - who gets an award for being a good sport this week. he has spent a lot of time in the car either dropping-off or picking-up either of the kids. He's too young for these camps, so he doesn't get to do any of the fun parts. However, he adores the horses at the barn almost as much as Maddie, so we may be looking at lessons for TWO kids in the near future!

FINALLY - some photos!

I have more to post (about our busy, busy week this week), but first some photos of our new projects!

First, we had some outdoor work done. Out front, we had a rickety "wall" installed by the Builder. Basically it was a pile of rocks which, while it looked nice, was slowly letting all of our flower bed fall into the neighbor's yard. We finally had it replaced with a real retaining wall. I wasn't crazy about this project - it seemed like a lot of money for something I essentially never look at. BUT - once it was done I was thrilled! The wall looks great now, and it offer a wonderful flat surface that I can use for flower pots and jack-o-lanterns in the fall! Yay!

The same contractor put in our patio off our deck. We have been wanting to do this for quite some time, but always ended up pushing off the job. The guys were in and out in two days and I love the results! Prior to the nasty 95-degree, 100% humidity weather this week, we found ourselves outside quite a bit! now we just need to finish restaining the deck and add the river rocks around the base - and we'll be living in style (at least outdoors!).

We also added a new deck box to our deck - in an effort to control the kids' toys (how do we always wind up with so many balls?). The older two kids spent the weekend with my inlaws, so Craig only had Jacob as a helper when he assembled the deck box. He was a good helper, but was a little confused when he figured out that he was stuck IN the box. :)

The big on-going project is our bedroom. Our new bed & mattress arrived a MONTH early! Our plan was to paint both the room and the bathroom before the bed arrived, but that didn't quite work out. We are prepping to paint (the bedroom is nearly ready - perhaps paint this weekend?), but the bathroom is turning out to be a much bigger project! We (hah - let's be honest - this is ALL ME!) opted to change the lighting fixture, the faucet, the towel bars, the medicine cabinet etc. So it's going to take us a bit longer to get the bathroom done. We love the new bed, and it's inspired me to declutter a bit more and work towards having a truly peaceful master suite. We're not quite there yet, but I am working on it!
I certainly have enough to keep me busy for now! The end of the summer is coming quickly (actually, I go back to work next weekend - so summer is officially over for some colleges!) and I finally feel like we got something done! Lots more to do though!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another crazy week...

I know, I know - I have not posted the photos of our new additions. It's just been such a busy week - again!

My meeting with old friends was WONDERFUL! We had a great time - margaritas, nachos and great conversation. I only wish they came to town a little more often!

Work was fine. The kids had a good time at my mom's house, and both Craig and I survived all the managing that had to happen with me working a full day. It was a nice refresher for my job too - I start working Saturdays in just a few weeks!

The older two kids are attending Vacation Bible School at our church this week. They are having a great time! Jacob is so sad that he's not old enough to go (next year) but that hasn't stopped him from learning all the songs.

Now that we have a new bed and bedding, we're working on getting the bedroom up-to-snuff. I am still working on choosing the perfect paint color (I think I have it narrowed down to 4 choices). The bathroom is turning out to be a bigger project than anticipated. I had planned on simply painting the room, but decided the hideous lighting fixture (put in by the builder) should go. THREE lighting fixtures later I am still not sure what I am installing....

And of course I needed new hardware, shower curtain rods, towel bars and faucets - right? So I have become a regular fixture at Lowe's this week, and I am not really any closer to making a decision about my bathroom.

All of this thought for a tiny TINY bathroom!

I am also knee-deep in planning for the Drama Club at the kids' school. It's the first time the PTO is trying this, so we have to invent the wheel. I seem to be the only volunteer who has done any real theater, so a lot dropped into my lap. Busy busy! and now that we are into August, it's nearly time to sit down and plan out my year for Brownies! Busy busy busy!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crazy Week!

This week has been crazy!

Late last week our contractor called us and told us he'd be here Monday morning to start our patio. He wasn't supposed to come until mid-August! So we spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at home while the guys worked on our patio and retaining wall (pics to come - I promise!).

Then, as the last bricks were being laid for the wall, the phone rang. Guess what's here a month early? Our bed and mattress! Yay! But we didn't have any sheets yet, so I had to sneak a late-night Walmart run into our schedule.

Craig and Ryan are at a baseball game tonight, and Maddie had a playdate with a friend, so Jacob and I spent the evening at my mom's house. It is my sister's anniversary today, so we got to play with my nephew (my mom was babysitting him).

Tomorrow is a big day for all of us. I received a call from work (a local college, where I usually work just Saturday mornings during the school year) and was asked to cover for someone's vacation. I'll be working all day tomorrow (a first for me since having kids!) - from 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM! My mom agreed to keep my children and they are excited for a day with Grandma. Craig is actually going to do the drop-off and pick-up for me (since his work schedule is a little more flexible than mine), but boy am I going to miss those kiddos tomorrow!

Also, my best friend from high school is coming into town tomorrow. I haven't seen her for over a year, and I am excited that we are trying to arrange for a time/place to meet tomorrow night. I rarely get to go out with "the girls" so this will be a treat! To be honest though, I actually did go out with the girls this week - another good friend (who lives in Japan) is home visiting family and I was able to get together twice with her this week. While out the first time, we randomly ran into another friend from high school (who lives in SPAIN) and included her in our second outing. All of these trips were especially fun because they included all of our children too!

I will post some photos of our new patio and wall soon, as well as the bed (once it's delivered on Saturday!). I am working hard on picking paint colors for the bedroom now - I thought I had a month left to paint, but looks like I will have to work around the new bed now!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I spent the day all by myself today. Craig took the kids to his parents' house and I stayed back to clean, declutter and organize.

I love days like this, but I always feel so guilty too. Guilty for not spending the day with my kids and husband (even though I spend nearly every day with them!). Guilty for not visiting my inlaws (even though we seen them frequently). Guilty for taking a little time for ME in between the cleaning I am doing.

I know some moms have no problem spending time away from their children. I could never figure out how to do that. I used to think it was a sign of being a "bad mom" - who could possibly want to spend time apart from their children????? But I know now that it's a very healthy thing to do (I wish I was better at it).

I guess these alone-times will start coming more frequently now that the kids are getting older. I am still not used to it, but I am trying very hard to enjoy it!

I think I am going to make a run to Goodwill to drop off the 3 garbage bags of junk (!) I pulled out today. Then maybe I'll use my coupon for a free Chicken Salad sandwich from Chik-Fil-A - and perhaps a Redbox video for Craig and I to enjoy later tonight.

Bedding - again.

Okay - I think we have this figured out. :) I am keeping the quilt from Walmart, because I really do like it AND the colors work very well with what is in our Master Bathroom already (so I won't have to change that!). I found this pretty bedskirt at Kohl's

I also bought the matching KING eyelet pillow shams. We have decided to use 3 standard pillows to sleep on, so I will have to buy open-stock sheets, but that's not too big of an issue.

Now I have a question - the king shams are ivory with eyelet trim - very pretty but very plain. I know I want a throw pillow to go in front of them too. I did buy 2 standard shams that match the quilt, which I was planning on returning. But now I am thinking that I could perhaps keep one and use it as a "throw pillow?" Do you think that would look okay, or like I forgot to put another pillow with it?

Friday, July 17, 2009

I am having bedding issues

argggghhhhhh! I thought the hard part of all of this was picking the mattress and bed, but it turns out bedding is even harder!

The new mattress and bed are king. There is no problem finding beautiful king-size quilts. But the pillows are driving me crazy!

First, Craig insists he needs to keep his memory foam pillow (which is, of course, standard size). No problem - I just bought a rather expensive (okay - not so expensive, but not the el cheapo $5 Walmart-special either) memory foam pillow for me last year too. We'll just use 3 standard pillows and return the king-size ones.

Oh - but then I can't buy sets of sheets - everything will have to be open-stock so I can buy king flat & fitted, and THREE standard pillow cases.

Okay - I can do that (even though it means returning the sheet sets I already bought, but no big deal).

BUT - why on earth do people make king-sized quilts and only make standard shams to match???????????? I really don't want 3 standard shams on my bed - I want two king shams.

I am having the hardest time finding something I like that has king shams!!!!! I want a pretty quilt and two king shams - I don't think that's too much to ask.

I am off to look at more bedding....

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Tonight, Maddie is sleeping at her friend's house for the first time! She has had her friend stay here, but she's never gone away on her own. I am hoping I don't get a call at midnight!

I still can't believe she is old enough to be sleeping at someone else's house!

The new bed is coming....

in 6 to 8 weeks.

Isn't it horrible to have to wait for new furniture????

We bought a new KING mattress tonight, and a new headboard/footboard to go with it! The mattress is a Serta (from the Vera Wang collection - who knew mattresses had to be as fancy as a wedding dress????). And here is the bed

I bought this bedding too
I am not sure I will keep that bedding though. I am torn about what I want in the room. The bedding is from Walmart, from their Better Homes and Gardens collection. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the items, but I am thinking of going with a pretty tan toile set I saw on ebay. Not sure, not sure!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bubbles and gardens and mattresses - oh my!

Maddie is at girl scout day camp this week, leaving me and the boys home together for most of the day. We've been getting a lot done around the house. Today I gave my bedroom a good cleaning (including the windows!), cleaned the kids' bathroom, did 4 loads of laundry and decluttered another dresser drawer (making it the 4th one this week - Goodwill is going to love me!)

Ryan and I played a few games this afternoon, but soon he wanted to try something new. I just got the newest issue of Family Fun magazine in the mail and had torn out a page with a cool bubble activity on it. We decided to try it.

All you do is take an empty bottle (water, soda etc) and cut the bottom off of it. Rubber band a piece of towel or washcloth around the bottom, wet the fabric and then dip it in a shallow pan of dish detergent (we use Dawn). Just blow into the bottle and here is what you'll get
Aren't those the coolest bubble "snakes" you have ever seen? This was so east to do, but be careful you don't hyperventilate! Ryan was blowing so hard (to make longer snakes) that he nearly fell over! The best part about this (aside from how easy it is to do) is surprising others with it. Ryan loved showing his brother and sister what his new bubble blower does - they were all pleasantly surprised!

While Ryan blew bubbles, I checked the progress of the garden.
We have lots of green beans on the plants (had some with dinner a few nights ago) and the lettuce is getting bigger (I planted too close to the beans, and most of my lettuce ended up not growing at all - we'll try again for the fall). Lots of carrots plumping up too. We have some nice green tomatoes:
The squash has some nice flowers on the plant, and the peppers are turning from flowers to tiny peppers this week! we also have TONS of flowers on the cantaloupe plants and some starting on the watermelon too!
Tonight, we went mattress shopping - with all three kids. Needless to say, it was quite an experience. We currently have a queen-size bed which is about 10 years old. The mattress is getting saggy, and after sleeping in king-size beds on vacation we started talking about upgrading to a king.

Mattress shopping is very frustrating! Craig seems to enjoy laying down in hundreds of beds, but I find it tedious and exhausting! The kids want to jump on every bed (you have to admit, it does look tempting), and Jacob had an accident while we were in one little mattress store! Yikes! (I was kind of hoping perhaps the salesman would give us a great deal just to get us to leave his store!).

However, we did make some progress. We know we are interested in a traditional innerspring mattress - something right in the middle of plush and firm. Hopefully we'll make a decision this week and order something - then I can have fun shopping for new bedding!!!!! I love this brown quilt from Kohls.com
Tomorrow - I'll show you my very undecorated bedroom. We'll finally paint and decorate once we get the new bed!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Can you even stand it?????? I love Cow Appreciation Day at Chik-Fil-A! The whole family dressed up as cows and enjoyed a totally FREE dinner tonight! Yee-haw!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bye-Bye Hair!

Here's the new me! I cut several inches (in the back, it could have been almost 8 inches?????) and had the back "stacked." This was a pretty bold move for me, but it paid off as I love the new look! Craig liked it a lot too (which is great - I thought he would miss the old, long hair). What do you think?

ps - these pics were taken with the self-timer and were the best I could get. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009


I carved a little time for moi tonight and took a nice long walk. I like walking (once I get going) - it's so nice and quiet and the perfect time for me to relax/daydream/unwind. I love to look at all the homes as I walk past and imagine what the families who live in them are doing. :)

We had a busy day today - library, returns at one store, paying my charge bill at my dear friend Kohl's and lots of laundry.

Tomorrow we're heading to the opposite end of town to try to pick up a gift certificate for my sister's birthday (she's turning 30 this weekend - and her husband is trying to pull off the impossible and have a surprise party for her). She loves getting her nails done every other week, so I figure a gift certificate for that is PERFECT!

Speaking of things that cost a lot of money but make you feel pretty and pampered, Craig got me a lovely gift certificate to a spa (yes, a real honest-to-goodness-spa!) for Mother's Day. I still have to book my day of pampering - but first I need to decide what to get done. There will certainly be a pedicure and massage involved! I can't wait to find the time to enjoy that gift!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New Routines

I can't believe the 4th of July has come and gone! The summer is nearly half over, and I feel like it just started!

We returned home from our vacation nearly 2 weeks ago. We had mostly good times. :) The kids turned out to be good little travelers (despite the fact that poor Ryan either had a big case of the nerves, some car sickness, or a 24-hour bug on the ride down - he was sick an hour into the ride) and did much better than expected during our long, long drive.

The Orlando portion of our trip was wonderful! I can't say enough great things about the pool home we rented, and Disney World was everything I hoped it would be (despite REALLY hot weather and some tired kids). Craig did work during our trip, but we still had lots of fun!

Myrtle Beach was a great way to end our vacation. We had perfect weather and stayed in a hotel that was very nice. I think we will end up visiting Myrtle Beach again in the future - we all thought our 3-day stay was a little too short!

Since we have been home, we've all been adjusting to our new "normal" - I am done babysitting and spend the days with my own three children. I won't lie at all - I am loving it! We are free to do whatever we want! We've done the pool, the library, grocery shopping, visited family and friends and more. We eat dinner at 5:00. We're all a lot happier; however, there is still a lot of adjusting going on.

I am rarely on the computer anymore! we're so busy doing "stuff" that I never have time to sit down at my desk. My goal for the next week or so is to really settle into a rhythm where I can balance housework, time with kids and personal time - I haven't really been able to hit that balance yet (meaning lots of kid time, but little time for the house or me). I think we can do it - we're just still in the Honeymoon Phase.

Hopefully I'll find more time to update more frequently here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

We're back!

Greetings! We're back home, but a bit overwhelmed with laundry, unpacking and post-vacation kid-crabiness. I'll post more when we are settled!

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's time (almost!)

We have been counting down FOREVER until our vacation - and it's just about time! We are leaving at the end of this week for a trip to Walt Disney World!

We're driving (from PA!) to Orlando with the 3 kids. It's going to be, um, interesting for sure.

I am knee-deep in luggage and up to my eyeballs with "to do"lists! So every free minute is taken up with packing and planning!

This is also my last week of work. I've been doing childcare for 3 years, and it's time for me to move on. My last day with all the kids is on Thursday.

Life will be very different for me when I return home - I will be home full-time with just my children. I can't wait!

When I get back, I will pick up where I left off with decluttering and organizing my home. Unfortunately I have to return my library books this week, so I have to finish my review of It's All Too Much in July!

Have a great end of June - and be prepared for some Disney pics when I get back!

It's All Too Much - Part II

Okay - I promised Part II - the FAST method to cleaning and decluttering. Here it is:

This is your "kick start" to cleaning. Make it quick and dirty - no lingering to make tough decisions now. Walsh tells us there is 2 types of clutter -
  • Lazy clutter - unfiled papers, junk mail, magazines etc.
  • Stored treasures - grandma's pot holders, baby's first pair of shoes, etc
We not even going to touch the stored treasures at this point - just go after that lazy clutter. And we're going to do it FAST
  • F - fix a time
  • A - Anything not used for 12 months
  • S - Someone else's stuff
  • T - Trash
This is simple folks! Set up a time to do this - whether it's a whole weekend or 15 minutes every day for a week. Just pick a time and stick to it - nothing else happens in that time (turn off the phone, the TV and *gasp* the computer!).

If you haven't used it for a year, it's time to let go of it. If it belongs to someone else, it's time for them to reclaim it. And if it's trash, THROW IT OUT!

Things that you decide to KEEP, find a place for them. Trash - be sure to get it to a trash can ASAP so it's not tempting you to reclaim it (renting a dumpster may be helpful if you are taking a weekend to declutter). Make arrangements for others to pick up their items - or make arrangements for charities to pick up donations. Do not let anything "out the door" come back into your home!

if you plan on having a yard sale, do it as soon as possible. And be sure to not allow anything that doesn't sell back in your home!

Told you this was EASY!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Review - It's All Too Much

I am reading It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. It's a very easy read with a few attempts at humor along the way. I am using this book at a guide to declutter my house this summer, so I thought I would share some of the highlights with you too!

In Part I - The Clutter Problem, Walsh addresses why clutter is a problem for so many people. In fact, he even includes a "clutter quiz" you can take (I was a "Clutter Victim" - suffering from some clutter problems, but still able to dig my way out). Americans are suffering from a "clutter epidemic" - we have too much disposable income and the MALL has become the "new town square." There is a huge emotional cost associated with too much clutter (like embarrassment) and Walsh promises to give us a step-by-step guide to overcoming the clutter problem.

Think you have a good excuse for using your kitchen counter as a storage shelf? Or keeping your cookbooks in the guest bathroom? Or filling your child's playroom with so many of his outgrown clothes that he hasn't found his Hot Wheels in months? Walsh goes through a list of the top 9 excuses, and shows us that we are really only fooling ourselves.

Why we keep things
  • "I might need it one day" - it's smart to think ahead to the future, but clutter can "stop us from living in the present." (He specifically discusses those of us who keep clothes a size or two too small - just because we *will* lose 10 lbs soon!).
  • "It's too important to let go" - These are things that have sentimental value (Grandma's tea towels), family history (your child's first pair of shoes) or mark personal achievements (all of your cheerleading awards from high school). "Clutter makes us forget what's really important." (Have you ever not had family over to visit because your house was too messy?)
  • "It's worth a lot of money" - Things with a great perceived value are sometimes the hardest to get rid of, but "Clutter robs us of real value" when we live in a messy home filled with things we don't use.
  • "My house is too small" - There is nothing wrong with wanting to better your situation and have a bigger home someday, but you can't live for the next house. "CLutter steals our space."
  • "I don't have the time" - Sure, we're all busy, but think of how much time you'll save if you are not hunting for keys, permission slips or other lost items.
  • "I don't know how it got like this" - "Clutter takes over" - for some reason, we hand control over to our things. Take back the control!
  • "It's not a problem, my husband only thinks it is: - We must communicate about clutter issues. If one person perceives it as a problem "clutter jeopardizes our relationships."
  • "It isn't mine" - Other people's clutter robs us of opportunities that should be ours. Stop storing things for others - reclaim your home!
  • "It's too overwhelming" - It IS overwhleming, but the result of being clutter-free is a HUGE emotional benefit. "Clutter denies us peace of mind."
Walsh encourages us to "look beyond stuff and imagine the life you could be living." Picture your ideal home. Do you have a romantic get-away in your Master Bedroom? A Family Room that encourages the family to work and play together? Think about how you want each room to be used, and be sure to communicate this with others in your household. If you aren't on the same page about how you want to use your Family Room, the list of "necessary items" will be vastly different!

So - that's Part One of the book. Are you ready to declutter?

As I read some of the excuses for clutter, I could feel myself getting embarrassed! I have said so many of those excuses time and time again! I have given some thought to the life I want to live too - I want to be a stay-at-home mom to my children. I want the freedom to have at least half of each day to playing and enjoying being with my kids. I want weekends and evenings to be reserved for family time. I want my kitchen to be ready to prepare healthy meals for my family. I want my family room to provide entertainment and relaxation for the whole family. I want the living room and dining room ready to entertain any surprise guests, and I want the dining room table available so that I can sit with the kids and help them with their homework.

Our basement playroom is where the kids can play, movies can be watched and Craig and I carry out any office duties (bill paying, filing etc). The master bedroom will be a relaxation sanctuary - no toys, no storage! my closet will only hold clothes that fit me now, so that I don't need to waste 20 minutes trying on clothes every time I get dressed!

I have a plan in place! Tomorrow I will blog about Part II - which gets into the FAST way to clear clutter. It's a great way to start and results are immediate! I can't wait to start (even if I am a bit short on time until after our vacation). Who's with me????

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Catch-Up!


My busy week is over - and I survived! Here's a quick run-down of what we've been busy doing:

Maddie had a birthday party at home last weekend. Big parties = big work! i am glad all of the kids' birthdays are past for another year!

My Brownie troop had it's last meeting for the year and ended with a sleepover at our local zoo. It was a lot of fun, although I didn't get much sleep. We took a hike, met some animals, toured the zoo and got to pick apart owl pellets!

We added on to our garden. This is the "during" shot - the after shots will come later!

the bummer news is that I had to ground Ryan. As in, take away toys, no tv, no privileges at all. He inked up my bedroom - tableclothes, lampshade, dresser, clothing etc. I'm done being mad about it. I just hope we did the right thing with the punishment for him.

So it's been a long week. i have some things I want to post about before vacation - hope I can find the time! Oh - Maddie snapped a photo of me & Craig the other day - she didn't do too bad of a job!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This is their childhood

I had a realization over the holiday weekend. I am sure some will think this is pretty silly for mom-of-three (with the oldest being 8) just figuring this out NOW.

THIS is my kids' childhood. Right here - right now. This is what they will remember when they are older. This is what they will be referring to when they say "remember when we were kids..."

Kids don't look forward to the time when we'll be able to afford a bigger house, or when we'll make more money. They don't look forward to next year's vacation. They don't worry about what they'll be wearing next year. They don't worry about college, weddings, retirement. All they care about is NOW. NOW is where they form the memories they will hold for the rest of their lives.

This is really important.

I do think about the future and what needs to come next. After all, that's kind of my job as a parent. But it finally hit me that I need to live for the NOW too. These days are too precious to miss out on.

This whole year has ushered in some big realizations for me. It's why I finally quit my daycare job and decided we need to focus on just our children.

But as I sat at picnics and birthday parties this weekend, I recalled picnics and birthday parties from when I was a child. Did I care about parties at fancy places? Nope. Did I care that our house wasn't the biggest or fanciest? Nope. All I remember is family, friends and good time.

I want that for my children too.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Something's Missing....

Ryan lost his first tooth tonight!

We had a fun night taking a long walk, playing at the playground and finally came home for nice, relaxing baths. I was just about to step in the shower when Ryan asked me to look at his "super loose tooth." Wow! It was loose! We checked it just last week and it wasn't this loose!

Well, the poor guy just started crying - he was so afraid to lose a tooth! he wiggled it a bit more and we all heard a CRACK and knew it had to come out. So I reached in and plucked it out.

As soon as it was out, he was really REALLY excited and proud!

Maddie lost her first 2 teeth before she was even 5 years old. Ryan turned 6 last month, so he's been waiting for this.

We finally got his Tooth Fairy Box out tonight!

A story of our homes (and have I really become a snob???)

I am a real estate junkie. I fully admit it. I search the MLS at least twice a week (just looking!). I would even do it 2 months after we moved into our house (it drives my husband crazy!).

We're not in a position to buy a new house - and won't be for quite some time (it will take either 2 incomes or a lot more equity than we have). But I like to look. And dream....

*Rewind to 1999*

I had just graduated from college and was working and planning a wedding. Craig was still in college (he's 2 months younger than me, but a year behind in school). We knew we would rather buy a house - any house - than "throw away" money in rent, so as Craig was being fitted for his cap and gown, I was out house-hunting with my dad. By the time Craig was also a wage-earning member of society, we were spending every weekend going to Open Houses and actively looking for a house.

It took a few months, and a few rounds of disappointments and tears, but we finally found our house. It was an 80-year-old twin in the west-end of a fairly large city. Everything about the house was charming, but old. We had 3 nice-size bedrooms, 1 full bath (and a scary toilet in our basement that only the brave would approach!), a beautiful sunroom and a postage stamp yard just perfect for a toddler to play in. It needed some work (all new wiring plus some cosmetics), but basically was a nice sound house.

Look at the beautiful front room we had! 6 windows! And the front door was all window too! We started out with wicker in there, but as we had children, it slowly turned into a playroom.

Living Room & dining room - our house was nice and spacious. Brick fireplace in the living room. HUGE dining room that fit tons of furniture PLUS a curio cabinet PLUS my piano! There was beautiful woodwork in this house that was just begging to be refinished (we never did!).

The kitchen was pretty hideous in this house. There was a bad circa-1982 renovation done - complete with orange counters. The layout was terrible too. had we stayed, we would have redone the kitchen (I heard that was the first thing the new owners did!).
We could have made this house work for us - had it been in a better school district. We lived here for just shy of 3 years, and then found a new opportunity in a much better district.

*Fast-forward to 2004*

This is our "new" house while it was still under construction. It's a townhome - but we gained some square footage, several bathrooms, a garage and a much larger yard. We're also in a great school district (that we don't ever want to leave). I don't have many recent photos of the house - that will be my project this weekend (so expect a photo tour next week!).

*Return to 2009*

While we do love our house, I find myself still looking at the MLS twice a week. Now that the real estate bubble has burst, I see so many opportunities becoming available, but we just aren't ready to make the move. Not only do we not have the confidence to tackle a bigger mortgage on a single income, but I just can't find the "perfect" house. This is where I start to question if I have become a house snob. Ugh.

We are blessed with a great backyard. Especially for a townhome. I could never give my kids less space to play! And we have 2 full baths and 2 half baths. Now, I could do with fewer bathrooms to clean, but it's soooooo nice having a bath right off my bedroom. And it's really nice having a bath on each floor of the house.

I think my biggest area of becoming a snob is air conditioning. I LOVE CENTRAL A/C. I really, really do. Not only does it keep us nice and cool, but it helps our allergies so much. I don't think I could ever go back to not having central air!!!

So maybe I've become a house snob. Finding the next "perfect" house may be a real problem. Guess it's good we aren't going anywhere soon!