Saturday, January 29, 2011

Project 365- Day 29

I was hoping to take it easy today with this cold lingering but the big guy had to go out of town for work training and I was left with the little people. So much for rest. Somehow despite feeling like at any moment my head might actually burst out of my skin from the coughing, I managed to make them three meals plus snacks from semi-scratch, wash, fold and put away a load of laundry, sweep the entire house, wash the dishes, get a fire going in the wood stove, and I even played with them a little. They also watched three movies and at one point I sent them both outside(to the completely fenced in yard devoid of any major hazards), yes even the toddler, and hooked up the baby monitor so I could run to their rescue if needed. They were fine and I got some much needed couch time.
When they became restless once again I figured we should head on out to the hot tub. I hoped the heat would also help clear up my congestion.
Maybe I should have made it clear what they could bring with them.
The baby girl was fine bringing only a couple of toys.
She mostly sat with me and tried to enjoy the hot water and scenery.
Had I known that my son was going to bring along half of the Star Wars saga cast, in Lego form, I might have reconsidered our little dip.
The little guy had a running dialogue going between all his action figures. It was exhausting to hear. And why must boys my kids be so loud?
My head actually felt worse afterward.
Fortunately they both went to sleep before eight.
It's the little things that make my day.

Project 365- Day 28

So one of these "project 365" pages I found suggested you take a photo of yourself once a month, presumably so you can look back and witness yourself aging or something like that. That's my guess anyway. Seems a bit narcissistic but I feel like I should play by the rules at least occasionally in my life.
So since I was feeling yucky yesterday coughing my head off and sidetracked with life's stresses, I figured I would take the easy way out on a photo to post and just do a self portrait.
Here's me yesterday.
I guess this is where I am supposed to reflect on what I see.
Well, I don't normally wear makeup while at home watching the little people but we had to go into town yesterday.
And when I feel sick it makes me feel less miserable if I throw some on.
I for sure look like I could use about 4 more hours of sleep a night.
And those gray hairs are starting to pop up again.
But I think overall, not bad for a 39 year old former long time smoker and semi professional party-er who has two children under the age of 7 at home.
Not bad at all.

Project 365- Day 27

These past few days have been a little miserable. My kids get sick and they are better in 3 days. I get their sickness and two weeks later I still have a cough, and I think it is actually getting worse.
Anyway, the baby girl is taking mom and me swim lessons in town once a week. Yes she is only two and a half but if you have seen her fearlessness you would know why we thought she would benefit from becoming water safe as early as possible. And since my inlaws have a huge pond on their property where we sometimes like to swim in the summer I figured, better safe than sorry.
She has been going for a few months and according to her teacher she is doing really well. She goes right under the water holding her breath naturally, and makes an attempt to swim to an edge. It is amazing to witness. She has been learning how to flip over onto her back and float. It's a skill that she would hopefully be able to utilize should she find herself in the water alone.
She loves it! She is okay with the lesson depending on how she feels that day. Sometimes she fights it but sometimes she just relaxes and it is fun to watch her swim like a little fish.
But what she really loves is the slide they have in the preschooler pool. It's in the shape of a whale and they slide out of his mouth. She would spend all day there if she could.
She actually would like to do the really BIG slide that the older kids get to use but she is still too small for it. It's a HUGE 450 degree slide that twists.
She asks for it every time we go.
Maybe when she's three.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Project 365- Day 26

Nine years ago today I married the love of my life.
In fact, nine years ago today at this exact moment we were partying the night away at the Madonna Inn.
But tonight my true love is at work. Sigh.
Most of my day has been pleasant although slightly less exciting than that day.
Here's a comparison.

Nine years ago today:
12:00am Could not sleep. Too excited and nervous about my wedding day.
2:00am Finally asleep after talking to my mom for 2 hours.
8:00am Enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Madonna Inn with my family.
10:00am Had my hair and makeup done.
12:00pm Back to our room at Madonna Inn for pictures with photographers.
1:00pm Had a light lunch and two or maybe three glasses of champagne courtesy of my ever thoughtful sisters. Nerves much calmer. Very calm in fact.
1:30pm Dressed all in white, rode to church in limo.
2:00pm Got hitched to my dreamy guy.
2:30pm Pictures, pictures, and more pictures.
3:30pm Drove to Madonna Inn in limo with brand new husband. Drank a bottle of champagne and enjoyed the quiet for those several minutes. Seriously considered not going to the reception and instead driving straight to LA for our flight to Mexico.
3:45pm Came to our senses after remembering the yummy goodness of Madonna pink champagne cake.
4:00pm More pictures at the Madonna Inn.
4:30pm Beautiful reception that lasted many hours and included a humorous first dance with my new husband when the DJ played a bizarre version of the song we had chosen.
10:00pm Finally retired to our room, exhausted but happy.

1:00am Could not sleep. Baby girl kicking me in the head.
5:30am Woke up as the bedroom door was being shut by baby girl headed out into the house to begin her daily havoc wreaking.
5:35am After bitching about not being able to function on such little sleep, awesome husband got up with her. Went back to sleep.
7:00am Woke wild bear cub-like child up and sent him to dad for breakfast.
7:05am Got kids clothes together.
7:10am Showered and got dressed.
7:31am Was wished a happy anniversary by husband.
8:05am Drove little guy to school.
8:30am Drove to sister in law's house for coffee.
8:40am After carrying around littlest niece, watched her vomit her entire bottle onto kitchen floor. Seriously considered leaving before we caught this scary Exorcist bug.
8:45am Decided talking with adult friend and coffee were more important than a little potential future vomit. Hoping decision was not bad one.
10:20am Drove baby girl and her formerly wild-child cousin to library story time.
10:35am Had one hundred and twenty seventh person ask me if baby girl's perfect ringlets were natural, as if this always slightly disheveled mom would take the time to curl her hair every morning and as if the little thing would ever stand still long enough to endure it.
11:12am While checking out library books for kids discovered that we owe $30 in late fees.
11:13am Found out books could not be checked out unless amount owed was below $20.
11:14am Found $14 in purse and considered foregoing the books and buying more coffee.
11:15am Remembered what the big guy had taught me and finagled my way out of a portion of the fine. (note: librarians almost as goodhearted as social workers.)
11:16am Played poverty card and was allowed to check books out with only a tiny bit paid.
11:34am Drove home and watched baby girl begin to doze off. Drove extra 3 miles to put her to sleep.
12:00pm Left baby sleeping in minivan (perk of living in country) and went inside to check email and make lunch.
12:55pm Woke husband and talked without interruption for 9 minutes.
1:04pm Checked on baby girl. Explained to now awake baby girl that the bird she was looking at was in fact not a chicken but a wood pecker.
1:09pm Remembered baby girl's tenacity. Agreed that bird was indeed a chicken.
1:28pm Kissed husband goodbye. Played with baby girl until time to leave for school pick up.
2:45pm Picked little guy up from school wondering if people were gossiping about that mother whose children are always watching movies in their van.
2:46pm Remembered I didn't care. Changed movie for baby girl.
2:48pm Drove home.
3:00pm Read library books with kids.
3:30pm Fed kids snack.
3:45pm Sent kids to rooms to play while I began sorting and folding 5 loads of laundry.
4:38pm Received phone call from husband at work. Chatted for 58 seconds until he said he had to go and the sound of sirens filled the phone.
4:39pm Said a prayer.
5:01pm Husband called back to finish story he began when interrupted with hit and run call.
5:30pm Fed kids dinner.
5:57pm Received call from husband wanting to say good night to kids.
6:00pm Dealt with six year old who did not want to do homework while listening to whining baby girl demanding to be held.
6:45pm Led kids in teeth brushing and face washing.
7:00pm Settled baby girl into my bed(where she now sleeps).
7:05pm Fell asleep and was woken by baby girl's over sized toddler head smacking me in the side of my nose.
7:06pm Cried.
7:20pm Praised God that baby girl was finally asleep.
7:30pm Got little guy settled into bed after watching Dino Dan.
7:58pm Checked on little guy who was fast asleep.
8:00pm Ate 13 chocolate covered macadamia nuts(that I got for free)and wished that I had some champagne to wash them down.
8:05pm Began working on blog.

Just slightly different. And the rest of the night? Who knows but it won't include the big guy so in honor of our anniversary and since there's no one here to say otherwise, here's the song I wanted for our wedding dance:

Project 365- Day 25

30 months old. Someone make it go slower. Please.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Project 365- Day 24

A calm moment in our day.
Sitting in her doll's playpen pretending to drink from the toy sippy cup.

Don't let the sweet smile fool you.
She's plotting something.

Project 365- Day 23

This Wednesday is the ninth anniversary of my wedding day.
My husband now has this great new slightly more normal schedule where he works weekdays. Unfortunately they involve the evenings so we decided to celebrate our anniversary on Sunday.
We talked about how we wanted to celebrate the occasion.
He threw out the standard dinner & a movie thing.
I thought it might be fun to go for a hike or something outdoors while the weather was nice.
We attempted to have this discussion amid a toddler crying to be held every ten seconds, a 6 year old whining about not being able to beat some level in yet another Mario Bros game and our little dog barking incessantly at the cat who was silently tormenting him from the roof.
Decision made.
What we most wanted to do was talk without any interruptions.
That's all.
You don't realize how much you will miss getting to hold a quiet conversation with your spouse until there are children who need your constant attention and demand it loudly.
My wonderful in-laws allowed us to use their guest cabin near Shaver Lake so we could enjoy the outdoors and have some time alone.
We had an incredible day. No fancy lunch, just some Subway sandwiches, enjoyed a dip in the hot tub, took a walk down to the half frozen pond, and just talked and talked and talked.
On the way home we got to see this incredible sunset.
It was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Project 365- Day 22

Yesterday was a really good day. First the baby girl had no issues being without her binky all day. I even got her to bed without any crying and with barely a fuss. Then the little man and I left the big guy to relax and we headed to our CVS for some coupon deals. I was able to snag all this stuff worth $77, on sale even, for a total of $6 out of pocket!

I had lots of good coupons, including a few freebies, and combined with the extra care bucks I had, I came away spending just under $30 and with $24 in extra care bucks to spend on another trip.
So I saved something like 92% off my bill. The Starbucks drinks are a total treat for my husband to have at work and I would never pay money for those normally since they were still $5 each on sale. I also would have only spent $4 but my husband needed deodorant and I could not make the poor guy wait for another sale. Luckily it was 50% so only $2 but still more than I would normally spend on deodorant these days.
And I already have another shopping trip planned for today.

But my night got even better. Two days ago while I was doing a search on my name I found a page that read: Winner of the bread machine: Rosalinda (rosalinda_herrick@).

My eyes almost popped out of my head. Now I know I have a very unusual name and to top it off that is exactly how one of my email accounts begins. It HAD to be me right? Then I remembered. During Christmas time a lot of the blogs I follow had giveaways. I probably entered dozens of them and me being the ever organized one didn't write down a single word about which ones I entered and how the winners would be announced.

You know the saying, a day late and a dollar short?
That is literally the story of my life. So I guess I figured, no way I am winning any of these contests.
But I DID win!! Except now, it is a month later and because of the whole "day late" thing I wrote an email to the blogger, completely convinced that I was going to be told it had been given to another.

Last night, my luck changed. She sent me an email saying, yes I had won. And they had emailed me. And could I send my ADDRESS SO THEY COULD SEND ME MY BREAD MACHINE!!

I had tears in my eyes because I really wanted this machine!
I almost asked my husband to get it for me as a Christmas gift but I knew we could not afford it.

Yesterday was a really, really, good day.
So good it makes me feel like dancing!!
I love this guy's voice and the lyrics say it all!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Project 365- Day 21

I learned about Kubler-Ross and her five stages of grief theory when I was in college. Everyone who is grieving goes through five stages, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Well tonight I saw my two and a half year old daughter go through all five.
It's true.
This morning my baby girl awoke to a letter from the dreaded Binky Fairy. The fairy wrote that if she were willing to leave her binkies for the fairy to take to the newborn babies, she would leave her a wonderful gift in the morning. This made my sweet daughter very happy, especially since she loves fairies.
But she also loves her binkies and most of the day you can find her with one in her mouth. She takes them out from time to time so I can understand what she is saying, but she is never far from a beloved binkie.
Everything was going fine even as she gathered the only two binkies she could find and placed them in a basket by the wood stove for the fairy to take.
Suddenly it was like she had the realization that this fairy was taking these things for good!
At first she asked for the binkies, then she cried out for them as I carried her off to bed. She began to hit me, something I had never expected. I saw my son through this several years ago and he was easy breezy compared to this firecracker.
Then she calmly asked for them back telling me she missed them. Then she quietly cried. But only for a few minutes. Just when I thought she was going to cry all night, she stopped, yawned, and closed her eyes. Success.
Of course I know that this will not last. She will probably repeat the process at least one more time tonight and then again tomorrow and maybe even the night after. But eventually she will be okay without the binkies and we can stop worrying as bedtime approaches because we cannot find one.
Tomorrow when she wakes up she will be greeted by the beautiful new fairy doll. A toy not at all suitable for a baby. Only big girls have dolls like those. And the candy will be there for her the next morning because I know she will most likely have another rough night.
I think she'll be a little sad for a few days, and I will be little sad too. She may very well be my last and I liked the idea of her being a baby for as long as I could keep her one.
Now hopefully she doesn't hate fairies in the morning!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Project 365- Day 20

My baby girl makes me laugh all day, every day. Well, she also makes me cry a lot but that's not what this is about. Today was an ultra cute day for her. She has been talking a ton the past couple of months. Now she talks to herself as she make believes coffee parties, (guess she's not a big tea party fan either) and plays mommy to her stuffed animals and baby dolls. Today she whipped up a big bowl of "fresh air" and offered me some and then decided her bears wanted coffee. So she set out all her cups and things and then brought her bears to the table.
She looked very concerned and said, "Mom, I think the bear is sad. I think he needs coffee."
So she gave him some and said, "He's happy now."
Seeing the way she gave her bear a drink made me giggle.

It can be an exhausting job at times and the thank yous are few and far between, but getting to be at home for all her adorable moments are worth every single sacrifice.

Project 365- Day 19

These are the books from my nightstand.

They say you can tell a lot about a person by what they read.
So what do these books tell you about me?
Well, I have a good marriage that like most marriages has ups and downs. I enjoy the ups much more than the downs and that's where the Gottman book comes in.
I have ADD and I am a mom. Pretty self explanatory.
I like Obama. No surprise there. He's by no means a perfect president, but he has given me hope for our future after an ugly eight years with the bad man. And that's a good thing. I'm a glass is half full kind of girl and I do much better with hope than with fear.
I have two spirited children. This is my second reading of this book and I have realized that my kids are both spirited, but at different ends of the spectrum. Hmm. Perhaps I need to have that third child so he or she can land somewhere in the middle.
I believe that kids are under too much pressure these days. Parents want more academics at an earlier age, more lecture time, and more structure in the classrooms. It all makes me a little nauseous knowing that I never learned much in those types of environments. And I think something needs to be done about it.
And lastly, I love Lenore Skenazy and one day I wish to be as brave as she is. Again, the fear thing does not sit well with me. I would much rather see the world as an inviting place full of decent people who have good intentions and a very few bad seeds.
I am not oblivious. I know bad things happen because my husband sees it every day. Occasionally we sit down with the kids and teach them about how to protect themselves against real dangers and then they can go about enjoying their lives as they should. There is not a predator on every corner no matter how much Nancy Grace says it and I refuse to raise my children to believe otherwise.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Project 365- Day 18

This is Fishy.

Fishy is the strangest fish I have ever known, and I have known a lot of fish. We had many tanks full of goldfish growing up and I believe I tortured all of them. Not intentionally of course. I was just little and didn't know any better. I was also sneaky and when no one was paying attention I was known to do things like pour shampoo into the fish tank because the fish looked dirty. Or pour soda into the tank because I thought they might be thirsty. We didn't have fish for very long at our house and I think my parents finally gave up on trying to keep them.

So I know fish. And I have never seen a fish that will follow your finger around the outside of the bowl, swim up to you when you reach towards the water, or let you pet him. Yes, he really does. His bowl sits in the middle of our kitchen table because there is a mini me that resides in our house and she is also known for being quite sneaky. The kitchen table is central to the house so we can see her approaching the bowl from anywhere in the main rooms.
Having a fish on your kitchen table is especially odd when he watches you eat. It's not like Fishy doesn't get fed because we feed him twice a day. But even if he has just eaten he will swim to the side of the bowl and watch you. It's very odd and kind of creepy.
I had a friend who told me that her fish, Michael Jordan, was named that because he occasionally got the idea to jump out of his tank. He had done this a few times but oddly only when someone was around to rescue the crazy fish from dry land. Like he knew he should not be doing it but he just could not help himself.
You know, I thought she was making it all up but now that we have Fishy, I am not so sure.
Maybe some fish are just more active or involved in what goes on around them.
Or maybe Fishy is just an oddball.
Who knows.
But he fits in perfectly with this family.

Project 365- Day 17

My husband has been a police officer since before my son was born. The little guy has never known his dad to do anything else. When he was younger, the weird hours were always a little tough since he often went days without seeing his dad if my husband left before the little man woke up and was home after he had already gone to bed. Nights when the little guy would wake up at some odd hour were usually a welcome treat for them both. As he got older, my son sort of accepted the routine which often meant dinners, vacations, holidays, and lots of bedtimes with just the two of us.
But he never seemed to really be bothered by what his dad was actually doing while they were apart.
Now that he is older, it is a lot harder. Just when I thought it would get easier we have quickly realized that our son is a very sensitive guy. He gets upset if someone even pretends to mess with his little sister, he cries when he thinks about his favorite cat he lost two years ago, and lately he has been crying over his dad going off to work.
I don't know if it is the reality of what his dad does or if he just misses him a whole lot, but these last couple of weeks have been tough. We try to shield him from the news and the details of what being a police officer entail but he's a smart kid and I am sure he must know some of the danger. We pray every night before bed and in those prayers we ask for protection for his dad and his safe return home to us.
With my husband's schedule changing recently it has also meant he sees him every weekend but not so much during the week and I think that is also affecting him.

Yesterday when my husband had only thirty minutes to shower, dress, and head off to work, he grabbed the kids and spent twenty five of his precious minutes in the hot tub with them, one of the kids favorite places to be. When he could have been enjoying a quiet, relaxing shower, slowly waking up from awkward day time sleep, he decided that seeing his kids even for a few minutes was worth so much more.

Quite honestly, that's the kind of stuff that really makes him a true hero to us.

Project 365- Day 16

My son asked me to photograph this spider web he found on the porch of my parents house on Sunday. It was overcast outside and the web was covered in dew and shimmering in the light.

I am not really scared of spiders but I am not exactly fond of them either.
I don't think I have ever appreciated spider webs before but perhaps I should have.
This spider web was amazing to see up close!
It was such intricate work and it was strange to imagine that some lowly little garden spider knitted this amazing work of art.
I have a new found awe of spiders.
Of course, they will still die if they enter my home, but that's neither here nor there.

Project 365- Day 15

I loved seeing the baby girl and her cousin sharing secrets and having fun all day in San Francisco. They only see each other a few times a year but they are as close as two kids can be. And they are also very much alike. They both have larger than life personalities and voices, no fear, and the "I do it myself" syndrome. Despite the year and a half difference in age these girls are as close as sisters when they are together and I see a future of shared mischief, laughs, and lots of love here. I can't wait to see how this story unfolds.

Project 365- Day 14

My little guy is quite possibly the most cautious person I have ever met. It's only been in the last year that I have noticed him trying more things and being a little bit braver. On Friday we went to Pump It Up for my niece's birthday party and the kids had a lot of fun. I knew the baby girl would do fine since she has no fear and is always willing to try something new. But I was really proud of my little guy who decided to try climbing the rock wall with his cousin.

That's something he would have cried about just a short year ago, had I asked him to try it then. I have to say he did pretty good. He said he was tired and that is why he had to stop and come back down before he made it to the top. Naturally, I saw that as an opportunity to discuss his poor eating habits and how if he ate more than corn flakes three times a day, perhaps he would have been able to make it to the top. He was less than pleased with my comments. He is a typical first born, very driven, and was upset with himself for not being able to complete his task. He did try it again and made it further up the wall and even though he was still a bit upset he moved on emotionally once the pizza was served. Maybe he did take our little talk to heart since he ate three whole slices, something he has never done.

I think I am also a little proud of myself. Seeing all the other kids climb, the old me would have encouraged, pleaded, maybe even bribed him a little to give it a try. But this day the idea was totally his own and I am realizing that if he never tries anything scary ever again it would be no big deal. He is who he is and I love that person very much.
Hmm. Perhaps I have grown some too.
Besides, the baby girl has already given me enough gray hairs in just the past year to last me the rest of my life. You know she also had to do the rock wall, right?
One fearless and one cautious. A perfect balance.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Project 365- Day 13

This is our little house in the foothills.

Despite the fact that we owe more than it is worth and it has caused us countless headaches, I do love it.
I love the new bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. I love the screened porch in the back with the big comfy chair. I love that it is small enough to hear most everything that goes on from one end to the other but everyone has their own space. I love the yard where the kids spend all their time in the summer. I love the fresh air, the creek where we catch frogs and dig for worms to go fishing, and the picnic table we placed up on the hill for spontaneous lunches in the sun. I love going outside in the pitch black and looking at the millions of stars. I love hearing the symphony of crickets serenading us on hot summer nights.

When my husband and I first went to look at houses I was disappointed that the homes we saw looked nothing like the nice brand new homes we saw in the city when we had looked the year before. I dreaded the work we were going to have to put into the place and I imagined I would not be as happy there as in a move in ready home.

I was right.

I am happier.

It isn't anywhere near a perfect home. The rooms are kind of leaning in parts, the fixtures don't always line up right, and the floors creak and groan a bit when you walk through the rooms.
But I love the blood, sweat, and tears we have put into making it into a home.
And I love that someday my husband and I will sit in the wicker swing, hanging from our favorite oak tree out back, watching the sun set past the hills, and thinking back on all of our days together and all the joy and love we have shared here.

I could not see us anywhere else.

Project 365- Day 12

This was my baby girl last night at around 10:30pm.

To some that might seem normal but my little one is always asleep by 7:00pm and sometimes earlier. Lately she has been waking up from nightmares and as a result has also started sleeping in our bed. I really don't mind the sharing sleep part since my son is almost seven and still goes back and forth between his bed and our bed, but it is only nice when they are actually sleeping.
I am just trying to enjoy her late night visits to the living room and remember that someday this will all be a distant memory.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Project 365- Day 11

I was very happy to open my mailbox yesterday. Besides not including any bills, yay, I received two beautiful gifts. And with them comes some advice for you.

Tip #1: Register for every store rewards card that you can find. I registered with CVS's rewards program several months ago and I have already gotten a few things free. I'm not sure if you can read the detail on the postcard in the picture but it says they will pay up to $10.99 so I can try their razor. In addition to occasional offers like that you can also get coupons emailed to you for money off of a purchase like $4 off of $20. That might not sound like a lot but that is before any coupons. So if your total is $20 reduced down to $4 after coupons(which is not that uncommon), the amount off coupon covers the rest so you can get $20 for free. Sounds a lot better doesn't it?
Tip #2: If you are following any money saving blogs and they post about a freebie, fill out the info and get the freebie. Sometimes you get small samples that only last one use, but sometimes you get things like the blotting linens on the right side of the picture. They are resting on the company's brochure and if you can see the type, the blotting papers normally cost $10 for 100 sheets. My sample was 100 sheets. And even if the sample is a small one, they often include a decent valued coupon to use later.
Tip #3: Create a separate email account for these offers. Some companies will only send you an occasional email about their product or store but some will send multiple emails per day. It is much easier to keep track of all your offers if you have them going into one account away from your private or business emails.

I wish every trip to the mailbox was like yesterday's.
$20 worth of free products. Not bad just for filling out a few forms.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Project 365- Day 10

I have a six year old boy who is going on 16. Well, not really quite that bad. He's into playing sports, video games, constructing with Legos, and he love shows about teenagers. I don't let him watch shows that highlight relationships like Hannah Montana,but he is allowed to watch iCarly. If you have ever seen it you know it focuses on friendships, having fun, and their web show. It's a very tame show really. In fact I think I have only seen one episode where there was even a mention of a boyfriend and the little guy was a bit annoyed by that one.

I know this will sound strange to some, but I have to say that I actually enjoy watching the show with him sometimes. I feel it's important to know what images our kids are seeing and to be honest, it is actually pretty funny at times.
I also have a mini crush on Spencer, Carly's oddball artist brother who cares for her while their father is in a submarine somewhere in the world. Weird, I know. But then so is talking to a two year old all day long and having tea parties with stuffed animals. You adjust.

My favorite episode was on again on Monday. It's the episode with baby Spencer. I don't know if it is because I spend way too much time around little people and their crazy humor, but every time I see that episode it sends me into fits of laughter. It's hilarious, weird, and totally silly all rolled into one. I highly recommend catching the episode if you can.
I'm laughing now just thinking about it. Baby Spencer.

Project 365- Day 9

Sunday was a pretty lazy day. The baby girl was feeling sick and we spent the day doing a whole lot of nothing. As usual when the kids sit down on the couch to watch TV, their dog Oscar joins them. But lately he's brought a friend. It turns out that our neighbor's dog has a bit of a crush on our little Oscar. She has been "dropping by" every day now to see him. We have lived in our house for almost 4 years and I have never seen this dog other than when she would run along the fence barking at our car as we drove past. Now she's become a regular overnight guest.

If you think that dogs cannot have feelings of love then you haven't seen these two together. I would often see them meeting up on the driveway saying hello, and then one day she just followed Oscar in the door. Now every few days I will hear a bark from outside and Oscar will go to the door and bark back. That's apparently my cue to let our friend in. The dogs snuggle together on the couch and follow each other around the house. It's pretty cute to see. And the kids love her. The baby calls her Friend and when the dog is not at the house she will open the door and yell, "Friend, Friend, where is you?" Hopefully the relationship lasts because I think the kids would be devastated if Friend found a new man.

Project 365- Day 8

This is my baby girl. She is officially two and a half today and sadly the only thing still babyish about her is the pacifier and the diaper. She is headstrong, independent, and knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. My husband says she is very much like someone else he knows but I am not quite sure to whom he is referring.

Her latest want is to go to school. We did a one day a week co-op type preschool last year and it was all going fine until the owner and instructor closed up shop to care for her newly adopted children. I was at once happy for her and sad for my little peanut. She loved school and she misses it every day. When she sees her brother getting ready for school she finds her boots and put them on, grabs her coat and heads for the door. When we say goodbye to him at the drop off she asks to go also, and when he sits down to do his homework she sits down with him and asks for her own homework.
And every day she puts on her little Dora backpack and asks when she will be going to school.

We have found an affordable school for her to attend that offers a structured program for a few hours a day and even before and after care included in the price. Even better is that they allow you to drop in for school whatever day you want, there is no set requirement on how many days she needs to attend every week, and we can vary it week to week depending on our schedule. It's only 20 minutes from our house and still in the foothills and her cousins attend one day a week so if she felt nervous she would have kids there she knows and loves.

It all sounds so perfect. Until my feelings get in the way, that is. I am not even close to ready to let her out of my sight for a few hours a week. She is my side kick, my mini me, and she is most likely my last baby.

But I know I have to let her go sometime. Perhaps she sees that there is much more out there besides me and she wants to grab a hold of it and let it lead her wherever it may. Or maybe she just really wants to paint and glue cheerios onto paper. Whatever the reason, the day has arrived. Much like the day she was born, ready or not, here she comes!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Project 365- Day 7

It's true.
We live pretty far out from the city.
At least sometimes it seems that way.

This is the main road right before you get to our own dirt road and for me it signals the beginning of my serenity.

Some people might see it and think, it's just some trees, a field, and a few hills in the background. But that is exactly why I love this stretch of road.
You can no longer see many houses, there are no other buildings anywhere, and there is zero traffic.
I can't hear neighbors arguing, I am not woken up by the sound of someone mowing their lawn or blowing leaves off their driveway at 7am on a Saturday and I have only once heard a siren of any kind. I lived in the suburbs for 35 years and those are all things that were a part of that life.
In fact, most days all I hear are birds, the wind, and occasionally my neighbor's cow Buddy.
Of course, this life doesn't come without its share of problems. We have had issues with our road, damage under our house, bugs of every kind imaginable, and the coyotes have taken more than their fair share of our livestock. Trips to town require careful planning since you can't just run back to the store for that missed ingredient and the one phone company out here is not very good.

But the trade off is absolutely worth it.
We have some of the kindest and most thoughtful neighbors who have literally dropped everything to help us more than once. The sound of crickets in the summer and a babbling creek in the winter are two of the sweetest sounds in the world. The kids have room to run and the freshest air to do it in.
And of course, the view.

Henry David Thoreau said, "I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion," and I have to say I completely agree.
Give me some trees and dirt, lots of miniature farm animals, a few good books, and a quiet porch. Add in my little family and some good home cooking and I will be heaven bound.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Project 365- Day 6

Several months ago I realized that my husband and I were living a bit beyond our means. Times are tough and with a mortgage, car payments, student loans, and 4 mouths to feed on only one income, we really needed to make a change to how we were living.

Can I tell you how much I love saving money now?

It really is my new hobby. I started with using Swagbucks and Opinion Outpost to earn free gift cards. I was able to buy a lot of Christmas presents that way but it wasn't enough. Then I began following a few bloggers on Facebook and they really showed me where the deals were. I bought Disney movies for a quarter of the price, and games for the kids for practically nothing and I learned about how to find coupons for free products.

I am a money saving convert.

At the end of Novemeber I took the time to track our spending and it became pretty obvious that cuts needed to be made in what we spent on food and household items. It was then that I got serious about using coupons to match store deals. Yes, I even shop with one of those massive coupon binders. Nerdy, I know. But it feels wonderful!

Today was a great day for seeking out deals at Rite Aid.

I purchased SIXTY TWO Schick disposable razors for women, six Schick Quattro disposable razors for men, a box of Puffs Plus tissues, two boxes of cereal, two boxes of Planters Nut-trition bars, a bag of cough drops, six packs of Trident gum, and two bags of M&Ms which were eaten before they could be photographed. Normally this would have cost $70 even after the sale prices.
But after coupons and +Up Rewards from Rite Aid, I paid only $1.30. That's a savings of 98% and less than what the box of tissues alone should have cost me!

I also made a stop at Office Depot where I was able to get two HP printer ink cartridges for $1.58 using a gift card I won online through Office Depot's Facebook page, and when I got home I was greeted by one of my 9 FREE monthly magazines, Martha Stewart Living, and two coupons for FREE full sized bottles of Excedrin Migraine.

Spend thrift no more!
I am a changed woman.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Project 365- Day 5

My husband loves Christmas but he is not a big fan of the decorating. I think he doesn't understand the need to spend money for something that only stays up for a few weeks and I believe he would be happy with a bare tree and nothing else. So it really touched me that this year he started decorating without me. The fist thing I noticed was the wreath on our property gate. He lovingly attached it with a silver garland and he did it the day after Thanksgiving, something unheard of in our home.
I thought we had taken everything down and packed it all away the day after Christmas. But today on my way home from dropping my son off at school I noticed that we had forgotten the wreath on the gate. I think I might leave it up just a little while longer.

Project 365- Day 4

I imagine that at precisely 1pm all over the world, toddlers are snuggling down with their binkies, their blankies, and their stuffed animals, and entering a dream land of unicorns and lollipops. That is toddlers all over the world minus mine. You see, right around the time my spirited daughter turned two she decided that naps should be optional.
She will occasionally fall asleep in the car but a car ride is no guarantee that a nap will occur. Most days 1pm will find her playing mommy to her baby dolls, or playing in the mud, or chasing the dogs from room to room, or bouncing on the trampoline, or making creative messes throughout the house. In other words, she is an unpredictable little thing. This is where she was yesterday at 1pm.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Project 365- Day 3

After several miserable days of gray skies and nonstop rain the sun finally made an appearance today! Even though the baby girl was still coughing a bit from her lingering cold, she was so happy to be outside. And the little guy even put down his DS to join her on the trampoline! As you can see they are both still in their pjs. That's how we do Christmas break!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

365 Days Go Swiftly By

My son learned how to snowboard this past week. Well, he took a lesson anyway. The point is that he willingly went up to Badger Pass with my sister and her family, donned his winter gear, strapped a board to his feet, went down a hill, and he was excited to tell me about it. It was a pretty small hill from what he says but the fact he did it means he is growing up much faster than I expected. It seems like only yesterday that I was encouraging my ever cautious son to climb over the back of the couch because it was so much fun and he was saying, "No mama, too high."

Time goes so fast and these kids grow right along with it. I have been looking at ideas for how to hold onto that passing time and in the process found many projects based on 365 days. In honor of those I am going to do my own little Project 365, right here on my blog mixed in with my rantings and ramblings. I thought of starting another blog but let's face it, I haven't been so committed with the one so maybe I should try and make this one work. Enjoy.

Project 365- Day 1
Sadly, I dropped my beautiful Fuji camera around Thanksgiving and broke the little battery door so most of these early photos will be with my less than fancy point and shoot Polaroid. Hopefully I can get my nice camera fixed because I do miss the quality.

I captured this exchange between the little guy and the baby girl on the 1st of course. Sillies. We had missed him while he was learning to snowboard and had not seen him in two whole days! That's a lot in mommy time. The baby also missed him but right after they looked so lovingly at each other, she stuck her tongue out at him.

Project 365- Day 2

They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and today these cows decided to find out if that was true! I looked out the kitchen window this morning to see these two ladies grazing on the grass inside of our fence. I believe they came from the field across the way. My husband got out there and wrangled them out the fence and down the road, oddly enough, while wearing Wranglers.