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!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I am a MEAN neighbor

I had quite a dilemma this week.

As you may know, I live in a townhome, so it's pretty close quarters with all the neighbors. We've been here 5 years and have had almost no problems with our neighbors. Last year, a new family moved in next door (what was formerly the model home for the neighborhood, so it was vacant for 4 years). They are a nice couple, who just had a new baby this year.

The big problem is - they do not take care of the exterior of their home. Last year, they would let the lawn go weeks between mowings. They didn't even buy a mower until they had been here 2 months! Everyone in the neighborhood offered the use of their mowers, but honestly, they just didn't care to mow more than once a month.

Same thing in the winter - snow removal just didn't happen. The sidewalks in front of their house were dangerous and icy all season!

Now, we're back to spring, and they have mowed ONCE. The grass is now 11-inches high in the yard and over 2 FEET in the rear of the yard. It looks horrible and is now breeding all sorts of bugs (and I shudder to think of mice and *gulp* SNAKES). I can't leave the kids play anywhere near this grass - it's awful!

Our very nice preteen neighbor offered to cut their grass for a reasonable price, but he was turned down twice. The grass remains way too high.

Yesterday, I made the decision to go to the Township about it. Honestly, I am worried about what is crawling around in this grass! I figured the Township would monitor the situation and *maybe* issue a warning.

Well, yesterday afternoon (as I was hanging my laundry) the enforcement officer came to measure the grass and told me the township would be cutting the grass and issuing a fine to my neighbors. I feel fairly guilty about this - I don't dislike my neighbors, but I did feel something needed to be done.

So I am officially the MEAN neighbor. But I am hoping the township comes to cut this grass BEFORE Maddie's birthday party on Sunday!

How Does My Garden Grow???

I haven't spent a lot of time in the garden lately - just pull weeds here and there. But it's growing nicely.

i know most people love seeing the abundance of their garden later in the season, but my favorite time is the early days. I love seeing a bean barely peeking out of the ground one day, and see it 2 inches high the next day! What growth!

My sugar snaps are getting high! And the lettuce, carrots and beans are coming along nicely too. The cantaloupes are REALLY tiny, but they popped up too. Still waiting for the watermelon!

Hopefully this weekend we'll be able to add to the garden a bit. I need room for my tomatoes and peppers!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


My daughter turned 8 today!

It seems like so many years ago that Craig and I were just a couple - waiting to be blessed with a baby of our own. Madeline was (and continues to be) everything we could ever want!

Here she is at just 5 days old (doesn't she look so much older than just 5 days? That's just how she is - much more mature than she really needs to be!)

And here she is today wearing her "new" (a hand-me-down from a friend) riding helmet. Maddie has a love for horses that I will never fully understand, but we are embracing it and gave her a week at horse camp for her birthday. She is thrilled!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Will I ever get caught up?

I am certainly paying the price for choosing fun over function this weekend!

The laundry is piled up out of the hampers, the whole house needs a good cleaning and OH MY! the clutter! It's going to take a lot of effort to get this place clean!

Tomorrow is Maddie's 8th birthday, so tonight we need to get treats to take into school. Her family birthday party is on Sunday, so the house needs to be in order by then!

I am trying to get little thing done here and there (when the day care kids allow it). I did get one load of laundry done this morning, and was able to vacuum the 1st floor of the house. Got to keep on going!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

MPS Awareness Day - May 15th

Friday May 15th was MPS Awareness Day. From the National MPS Society webpage:

Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) and related diseases are genetic lysosomal storage diseases (LSD) caused by the body's inability to produce specific enzymes. Normally, the body uses enzymes to break down and recycle materials in cells. In individuals with MPS and related diseases, the missing or insufficient enzyme prevents the proper recycling process, resulting in the storage of materials in virtually every cell of the body. As a result, cells do not perform properly and may cause progressive damage throughout the body, including the heart, bones, joints, respiratory system and central nervous system. While the disease may not be apparent at birth, signs and symptoms develop with age as more cells become damaged by the accumulation of cell materials.

The kids and I wore purple ribbons in honor of Waverly and Oliver (a friend's children who suffer from this disease).

Shannon and I went to high school together and were pretty good friends. We fell out of touch during college and the years right after college. I helped to plan our 10-year high school reunion in 2004 and got back in touch with Shannon at that time. She was a proud new mom to baby Waverly at that time. Fast-forward just a few years later.... I "found" Shannon again through a Google Search. I landed on her Blog (which was supposed to be an account of their family's travels) where she and her husband were just handed Waverly's diagnosis of MPS III. I began to read her blog daily, and was heartbroken to read that their second child, Oliver, also tested positive for MPS III.

As a mother, I just can't imagine being handed news that both of your precious children have a terminal disease. As a friend, I am heartbroken that such a wonderful person has to suffer.

You can read more about Waverly and Oliver at A Hundred For A Home - an awareness and fund-raising site for their family.

Weekend Update

(Can you find the little toad in the above photo? Isn't he cute?)

Oh my goodness were we busy this weekend!

Jacob and I got a head start on the weekend by going to a few yard sales on Friday morning. We had a nice time, and came home with a few treasures (2 new DVDs - still in wrap, a new Nerf toy, several great books, and two of those big balls you can hop on). Friday night we went to Ryan's school carnival. That was really fun - lots of fun bouncy things to play with. And we did Spin Art - what a blast!

Saturday, we had a day camp outing with our Brownie troop. The weather wasn't the nicest, but we did manage to have a good time hiking, playing in the creek and cooking over a fire. The sun came out for the last half of the afternoon and the girls had a blast catching minnows and crayfish in the creek!

Sunday was Girl Scout day at Dorney Park (local amusement Park), so we packed up the family and spent the day having fun there. Maddie tried a REAL roller coaster this time (ThunderHawk) and LOVED it! It was chilly all day (didn't feel like May at all!) but we had a great time.

I am VERY behind in my housework, since I wasn't home all weekend. But it was worth it - we made some great memories!

(We forgot the camera at both the carnival and Dorney Park, so no pics from those events).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bathroom cleaning update

I promise - I really am trying to get these bathrooms decluttered and cleaned!

I did squeeze a little time in yesterday and cleaned the 1st floor powder room. I washed all the carpets & towels, scrubbed the floors, did a general cleaning and decluttered the little toilet-top cabinet. It's probably the easiest bathroom to clean - because it's TINY and we don't keep much in there.

But I did find some diaper cream samples tossed in a drawer, as well as a few leftover cloth wipes and baby washcloths. I tossed them out, and one drawer now hosts some personal items for me while the other has become a First Aid drawer (since this bathroom is right by the backdoor, it's the bathroom that mends skinned knees and removes splinters!). Now I can just pull out one drawer and find band aids, tweezers, etc!

So that one's DONE! Yay!

I started on the kids' bathroom upstairs - bought a few bins/baskets at Walmart and began to go through their vanity. it's still a mess though - I guess I need to tackle the toilet-top cabinet next and try to move things into there so that it's more organized.

I'm taking baby steps, but I am getting there!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My bathrooms - from bottom to top

I just read MooMama's post about Spring Cleaning her bathrooms and I have been inspired to tackle mine this week (or, this week and next - we'll see what time I find this week!).

Bathrooms are no small feat in this house - we have FOUR. It seems obscene at times - having nearly as many bathrooms as people, but (aside from cleaning) it's a good thing.

My bathrooms could all use a good spring cleaning and decluttering. Most of them could also use some clever problem solving and decorating.

Let's meet Bathroom #1 - The Basement Half Bath

This poor bathroom almost didn't happen. When we were building this house, we opted to pay for the plumbing rough-in because we could envision kids having sleepovers down in the basement at some point. We thought a bathroom would help keep guests in the basement. Of course, the builder "forgot" to put the plumbing in and we almost just took the refund for the plumbing. It was a royal pain, but we finally did opt for them to come and install the plumbing (what a mess!) and we are so glad we did! This bathroom was a lifesaver many times (especially when Jacob was potty learning!).

Anyway, this is just a little ole powder room, but we also have some great built-in shelves (because there are a few clean-out-pipe-things in that corner that we needed to have some sort of access to). We store kids' games, cleaning supplies and Sam's Club bulk paper goods on these shelves.

The walls are painted a basic tan and we have a little outhouse border. It's cute - it's painted - and only kids or close family use this bathroom, so I don't really care much about how it looks. :) It certainly serves it's purpose!

Bathroom #2 - The First-Floor powder room

I've shared our little powder room before. It's the smallest room in the house, but we're glad to have it! It's right off the family room and laundry room and gets used heavily! It's painted the same tan as the basement powder room. I love how the pedestal sink looks, but miss having a vanity (and storage). The little cabinet over the toilet helps with some storage, but I keep all the cleaning supplies in the laundry room.

Bathroom #3 - The Kids' Bathroom - 2nd floor

This is our hall bathroom on the 2nd floor. It's probably the room that needs the most work. It's a basic bathroom - tub/shower combo, boring oak vanity, UGLY lighting fixture and rather small. We added the cabinet over the toilet for some extra storage, but I only keep washcloths and toiletries in this bathroom - all towels are in the linen closet in the hallway.

At this point, only the boys take baths in here. But I would love to find a better way to store shampoos, soaps etc. We have one of those racks you hang from the shower head, but it's too tall for any of the kids to reach.

We also need to do something about the towels - we still have the cheap and ugly towel bar the builder put in the house. It's really not big enough for all 3 kids' towels. I need a towel solution - badly! I also need a place for our tub mat - we usually just wind up tossing it over the shower curtain bar. Not the prettiest look!

This room also really needs some decorating. We bought the Pooh stuff when we were getting ready to move in here. At the time, Maddie was 2 and loved Pooh. We were so happy to be moving into a house with more than one bathroom, so we embraced having a "kid" bathroom. I am kind of over the Pooh stuff now, yet I still want this bathroom to feel comfy for the kids. But no more animation in the bathroom.

Bathroom #4 - The Master Bedroom Bath

This is "my" bathroom. It's small, but we have gotten very used to having a bath right off our bedroom. There is no tub - just an extra-wide shower. I like our shower curtain, but that's about all I like in the bathroom. All of the stuff on the walls are leftovers from our bathroom at the old house, and I need a change! We need a solution for our tub mat in this room too. And we are over-run with bottles of shampoo and shower gel in the shower, so we really need some sort of shelving in the shower itself.

We've done almost no decorating here. The walls are still buidlers primer. UGLY medicine cabinet - UGLY light fixure. I love the function of this room - there is just about no form though.

So - any ideas for my storage/decorating needs? I am going to start from the bottom up with my cleaning and decluttering, and i'll post my progress as it's made. Just think - once I have the bathrooms under control, I'll have 1/4 of my house clean!

How I love this child!

Jacob makes me laugh every day. He's such a funny kid, and I love that about him.

This morning, we were walking home from the bus stop and he held up his thumb and said "Look at my thumb, Mommy." Now, he sucks his thumb, so it's often wrinkly and yucky, so I asked him if it was wrinkled.

"No - it has a HOLE in it! Mommy, there's a hole in my thumb - Dear Liza, dear Liza - There's a hole in my thumb, Dear Liza, a hole."

I guess we have listened to Kids' Songs one too many times! LOL

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's SUMMER...

Well, at least according to my place of employment it's summer. As of 1:00 p.m. today, we are into the summer semester here at the community college. Know what that means? It means I don't go into work on a Saturday until late August!

I love my job here - I really do. But it's so nice having the summers off!

Let the summer begin!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spending money to save?

I just subscribed to our local newspaper. We haven't received the newspaper for over 5 years now (as part of our cost-cutting methods), but I also do not get the coupons! I started buying a paper at the convenience store on occasion, and thought perhaps it was time to start getting the paper at home.

I prepaid $109.20 for a year of Wed-Sun service - this means I'll get all the good yard sale ads on Friday & Saturday AND all the ads and coupons on Sunday. Hopefully I'll recoup my $109.20 in savings over the course of the year.

"Cold Arms"

Jacob likes to snuggle. But not the way most little ones would - there's no snuggling in my lap, or nuzzling with my neck. Nope. This kid likes my "cold arms."

For as long as I can remember, he loves when I wear short sleeves and he can rub my upper arms. He does it when he needs to feel reassured, when he's tired, hurt or just needs some extra love. I guess it started when he was done nursing?

Sometimes I just wish that he would come up and give me a big old hug. But then I think about how totally JACOB this "cold arms" thing is and hope that he still wants to hug my arms for a bit longer.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good website - great for Pennsylvanians!


Check out this website (Living Better for Less). There is all sorts of information for those who want to save money by living more simply!

This is the organization that provided me with a FREE compost bin last night, so if you live in PA you may be able to take advantage of some of their programs!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Tonight, I attended a FREE composting lecture and received my very own FREE compost bin (An Earth Machine). How cool is that?

i am not sure how my neighbors will feel about me composting (after all, we live in pretty close quarters in a townhome), but I think I can find a spot which is not offensive to them. And, as the presenters tonight told us, if you compost correctly, there won't be an offensive smell at all.

We were told that we can have compost ready-to-use in 8 weeks. If it ever stops raining here in PA, I'll give it a try!

Monday, May 4, 2009

A new project

I am not sure what exactly I have gotten myself into, but I am officially a member of our (gulp) 15-year High School reunion committee.

I met with some old classmates the other night and today I am knee-deep in menus, budgets and entertainment! There's a lot of work to be done before we host this event! It's almost like planning a wedding!

I am thankful that I have a nice group helping to plan and execute this event. It was really fun catching up with some old classmates (I was not good friends with any of the people involved, but it was a real pleasure to get reacquainted!) and making plans for a super fun night with even more classmates.

The expected date is Thanksgiving weekend, which gives us about 6 months to get ready for this.

Wish me luck!

I'm normal - hooray!

Please disregard my previous posts - I am "normal" again. :) What a relief for the whole household!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Getting personal

Okay - time to get personal. I'll try not to give too much info here, but I need to get some of these thoughts out of my head, and this seems like the best venue to do it.

I've been having some issues with my monthly cycle. For several months, I was having some spotting midcycle (which is not the norm for me). I talked to my midwife about it twice, and we decided that there was no cause for alarm - it's most likely either harmless cysts or just a change in my hormones.

This month I have the opposite problem. I am over a week LATE and there is no sign of my visitor showing up any time soon.

Now, there is very little chance that I could be pregnant, but the possibility does exist. So I've taken 2 pregnancy tests this week and both were, without a doubt, negative. Yet here I am - day 37 of a normally 27/28-day cycle.

So my head is spining. Last few months, I was bleeding too much. Now I am not bleeding at all.

A pregnancy would be very much unplanned and a BIG shock (how on earth can we afford another child - we have no materinty or baby stuff left in our house - and we'd need a bigger house!) to both Craig and I, but at least it would be an answer. I doubt that I am pregnant though - a test would show up positive at this point.

I am worried a bit that something could be wrong. Or nervous that I could be going into early menopause or something. I am sure I am jumping the gun, but I've only been this late three times in my life (and those times are named Maddie, Ryan and Jacob).

I have been slightly late (like 3-4 days late) a few times. Most recently, it was when my sister announced a pregnancy and shortly after miscarried (chemical pregnancy). A month ago, the same thing happened to her again - and she then discovered she was pregnant AGAIN (without even having a cycle after her loss - this one is looking WONDERFUL for her and will hopefully stick!). I wonder if her hormones are having an effect on mine.

Craig is a bit worried - and I am trying to keep him calm. He doesn't know if he should be worried about another baby on the way, or if he's worried something could be wrong with me. I have told my sister that I am late (she brought me the 1st pregnancy test LOL) too.

Hopefully I'll know what's going on soon. This is driving me half-crazy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I've been quiet

I guess I haven't had much to say lately!

We're just going about our daily lives here - nothing too exciting going on at this time (which is probably a good thing).

The biggest thing that happened this week was I finally gave my notice to my final babysitting client. I will be totally done with babysitting by June 11th! My part-time job also goes on hiatus during the summer, so I only have 2 more weeks of working on Saturday mornings. This is going to be a HUGE change for all of us - and I think it will be a positive one! Of course, we'll miss that extra income quite a bit, but the extra family time will be worth it. I am actually looking forward to cooking, cleaning and being a mom and housewife again!