Ramblings from my life…

rambling

Little helpers

My kids are awesome. They love to help in the kitchen, especially when licking spoons is involved.

I’ve always been a bit hesitant about letting them help with any other cooking because most of my recipes are pretty involved. Lot’s of sautéing (that word looks weird, but spell check picked it), chopping and taking hot things out of the oven. Yesterday I made simple beef enchiladas. When I told the girls that I needed to assemble them, they both replied with, what does assemble mean? and can we help?

After realizing that my kids are in fact tall enough to stand at the counter and (b) old enough to comprehend directions, I put together an assembly line and put them to work. It was great… I got to supervise (read a book and have a glass of wine!).

Looks like I will be researching other easy kitchen suppers today…

This is easy mom!

Look at us!

Easy Beef Enchiladas Verde

1 lb (ish) of ground beef
1 28oz can of green enchilada sauce
4 cups of shredded cheese
12 small tortillas

Brown beef, add roughly 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce, let simmer for a few minutes. Transfer to bowl so that little hands can help assemble. Take one tortilla, add beef mixture, cheese and roll up. Place in 13×9 pan (which is prepped with a layer of sauce), repeat. Pour remaining enchilada sauce evenly on top, top with cheese. Bake covered 375* for 20 mins, uncovered for 10 mins for cheese to bubble. Serve with salsa and sour cream.


until that day comes

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives, our own worries of what the future holds. It is easy to ignore or push aside other people because we don’t see them day to day. We tend to think that our minute problem is huge and trumps all.

Amazing what can happen when you take a moment to examine the people around you. I know a family that the dad is struggling with a debilitating health issue. They have to deal with this everyday for the rest of their lives. I know a cancer patient that so far has beat the odds, but the more the cancer spreads – the more it is eating away at her and her family. Why then do I linger on silly little issues in my own household?

Humbly, I come to the cross.

I let go.

I bow before the Creator.

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I started a prayer journal at the suggestion of my pastor. Even though I talk to God in prayer, writing a letter to Him helps me with perspective. I can see on paper the desires of my heart and I am both humbled and at peace.

You Never Let Go – Matt Redman

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know you are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

(Chorus:)
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth

(Chorus)

Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You


We all grow…

Most of my friends thought I was crazy that I didn’t check on my babies before I went to sleep each night. I figured they woke me up enough, why would I chance waking them up by going in their room? It is strange now though… they are 7 and 8 years old and probably at least once or twice a month I go up to their room to check on them before bed. I worry about if they are having a restless night because of their day at school. Or if the sleep walker is laying in the bath tub. Mostly it is because I miss them. I mean, I don’t want to miss them growing up. Each year seems to go faster. I know that the kids have to grow up and I’m sure we will have a good time when they are adults… but I like it how it is now. They are at a fun age – and still so full of adventure and what lies ahead.

I made a few simple new year resolutions. I know… nobody keeps them. Well here we are 14 days into the new year and I have kept ALL of them! My biggest resolution was to be a mom. Simple, right? I am a mom already, therefore – mission accomplished!

Really, my resolution was to BE a mom to my kids. Not their friend, not a space cadet, not lazy… but to BE there for them, DO things for/with them, Encourage them, Teach them, Lead them, Show them. One of the hardest balances is to let your kids grow up and yet still BE a mom. For instance… shower time. Seems simple enough… let kid shower and wash their hair, put on jammies and get in bed. When I first decided to let the girls start taking showers (instead of baths), I helped them – taught them how to get a good lather in their hair and make sure they were washing each and every nook and cranny. Then, after a month, I let them do it on their own. For about 4 or 5 months they have been completely on their own until one night I realized that I had become a lazy space cadet. I was enjoying my time reading or watching TV while they took turns with showers. I was letting myself off the hook because they were independent, instead of BEING a mom. What gave me this sudden realization? My older daughter, almost 9 years old, had smelly hair and armpits… AFTER taking a shower. I’ve come to the realization that long, thick hair on an 8 year old still needs moms help… and that a barely turned 7 year old still needs someone to talk to and guide her.

I have to say that by implementing this one simple resolution that life here in our little household is happier. Not only that, but since I am already upstairs helping them, we finish earlier (and I’m not yelling for them to “hurry up”) and we have more time for cuddling and reading stories before bedtime.

my silly kids playing on the Mac…

oh the fun...


Year end review

Well, December has turned out to be a very full and fast paced month! It seems that when your youngest child turns Seven, time starts to go even faster. When I started this blog Three years ago, I felt the urge to write all the time. Now it seems that with the addition of Facebook, I don’t have much to share anymore. Maybe, or maybe I’m just lazy.

Most of December was filled with activities for Girl Scouts, school or rehearsals for the Christmas Eve pageant. We also were taking the oldest child to the doctor for testing. She was very lethargic, fatigued and complained that her neck hurt all the time. Blood work revealed that everything was fine. This Holiday break has given her the opportunity to “heal”, if you will, from the stresses of being a 3rd grader and she has been the happiest I’ve seen her since this summer. I’m thinking that my new years resolution will be to take things slower. Not that we are over involved, she only does Girl Scouts and gymnastics… but then add in her sisters Girls Scouts which meets opposite weeks, our Bible study growth group and homework and all the sudden we have a full week.

We had a wonderful Christmas holiday. The girls were involved in the Christmas Eve service, as was I. Both girls were bell ringers during the first song and the 8 year old was a flag dancer at the end. All of those rehearsals paid off!

After the service, my parents came over to spend the night so that they could watch the girls open presents in the morning. Santa was generous this year and brought the kids (and daddy) a PS3. It came with one game and honestly, I don’t see any reason to buy another. Ever. This game has so many levels and the game system does so much more than just play the games.

We then headed over to my parents house for the night, along with my sisters family. We had a big Christmas dinner and played a few games of scrabble.

On the 27th, I celebrated my birthday. The day was very relaxing. I got to pick out a new phone (thanks M&D!), go house looking for fun and then have a low key dinner on the sofas by the fire at a local restaurant. The girls sat on the floor by the fire and ate their dinner under the coffee table. Their giggling reminded me of good times when I was their age… but I think I’m having more fun now.

Speaking of good times… this break has allowed us to not only have much needed family time, but also one-on-one time with the girls. The girly-girl and I painted toe nails and went grocery shopping together, while dad and the tom-boy built a lego house. We’ve also had time to snuggle and watch movies, read books and play games. The girls even made up their own version of charades the other night. Now the year is coming to an end. So many memories, a few of them sad… but all of them together make another chapter in our lives. Here’s to 2011!


Letters to you…

I have been writing hand written letters to my girls in a journal. Mostly I’ve been remembering the past because this blog is only 3 years old and there is no documentation of our lives before that. I hope to get the journals up to date soon so that I can write them a monthly letter. I just thought that it would be a neat gift to hand over to them on their wedding day… or when they have their first child.

I’ve also been meaning to scan in some of the girls recent art and class work. I figured that I can’t save everything… so why not scan it on the computer? It is fun to come across something old that the girls did that was long ago recycled. Here are a few of their recent pictures they made for halloween:

I actually think this one is quite hilarious… they are each thinking about their "loves"… by the 6 yr old

I'm not sure why the pumpkin is melting… except maybe b/c when she drew this, it was still quite warm outside? by the 8 yr old

It is interesting to see their perspective on holidays. One that I haven’t scanned yet is a picture of the caterpillar from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle… only his head is a skeleton head with a witches hat.

I can’t wait to find out what they come up with for Thanksgiving!!! Speaking of Thanksgiving, it is only 19 days away. Not only do I love the traditional Thanksgiving meal… but I love family time. I think this year I will have the girls write out what they are thankful for in advance and then have them read it to us on Thanksgiving day. Hm… maybe I will get hubs and I to do it too!


Catch Up

Where have we been?

Life in this household has not slowed down. It seems that we go from event to event. Even when my calendar pages are empty, something comes up, like the 8 year old just started after school Enrichment in Chinese lessons. Monday we have Gymnastics. After the first session ended, the 6 year old has decided that it is not for her, so she is just going to take coloring and reading material with her. Every other Wed and every other Thursday we have either Brownies or Daisies (girl scouts). And of course the biggie… this is football season, so weekends are packed full. On top of the kids activities, I have taken up two jobs. I am substitute teaching again this year but since you normally don’t get a call everyday, I accepted a nanny job with my good friend. She works from home full time and needed someone to watch her younger two, so since I already know and get along with them – why not? It has been around 9 weeks with them and it is a dream job!

In other news, our HVAC just gave up and died, the fan has been on the fritz for about a year (producing hardly any heat and making an awful noise, then in the summer producing next to no cool air).  So since we needed a new system, we converted from oil to electric. The new system is working great!

A pipe in our septic system broke. I don’t know how long it has been broken, but my guess would be that it froze sometime during our major snow storm last year and burst shortly thereafter resulting in the need to be “pumped out” before we had an overflow issue. Hopefully the broken part comes in soon and can be repaired.

Did I mention that there seems to be a problem with our water softener? A few months ago our water started tasting metallic and subsequently our tubs and sinks started to stain. The problem seems to be off and on though, so we are putting off a new system until it completely dies.

I’m not sure that anything else could possibly go wrong with this house. I think we are done. You see, we’ve also had the roof replaced after much leaking…. and a few other things that I’ve mentioned over the years.

On the positive side, we have done some fun things like a surprise mission to Mimi’s house for her birthday, a crab feast and my husbands class reunion. I’ll leave you with some pictures of our adventures…

 


Perseverance to Perfection

She did it. My eight year old can now ride her bike without training wheels. I know, most kids do that around age 4. The problem is, you have to have commitment as the parent, to have the time and patience to run along with them, teach them balance and keep a positive attitude.

Two weeks ago we went to the park to try it out. After an hour of learning balance and riding with assistance, we went home. It was around 95* and she was starting to get frustrated. The six year old did not make it past 2 minutes without training wheels… that is a task for another day.

A few days ago we took the girls to the park again. Daddy worked with the 8 year old while I took the dog and the other child on a walk. After 40 minutes or so, we ran back into them and she was flying. He had her turning corners and braking without falling.

In other news, the girls started gymnastics. After much battle between what kind of sport/dance class to take… the girls finally picked gymnastics. The nice part is the beginning class is at the same time, but split up by age… so I only have to drive there once a week.

The girls continue to love school and their teachers. Last night was “back to school night”, where you get the low down on what the class will be learning, where they will go on field trips and how you can help your child succeed throughout the year. Once again I feel like the girls have teachers that fit their personalities. Amazing what a bit of prayer and patience can do…


Summer days, drifting away…

I’ve been trying to be more relaxed this summer. Usually I’m worried about jamming in enough trips to the library, swim lessons and things that I forget to just enjoy the fact that we don’t have to do anything. I am a family girl. I’m not a huge fan of time away from my husband or kids. However, I haven’t been to my grandparents house in 9 years. I know, my kids are younger than that… which means they have never been down to visit. Thank goodness travel works both ways, as my grandparents have visited us several times over the last 9 years. So, this past week the kids and I jumped in my parents RV for yet another road trip adventure. When we arrived at my grandparents house on Friday morning, my grandfather was a bit taken aback. At first it didn’t click who these two little girls were standing at the door (my parents and I were hiding), but he knew that he recognized them. When we popped around the corner, it all fell into place. We then repeated the hiding as we entered the house to find Gran knitting. It took her a good hour to get over her initial shock! I can’t say that the rest of the visit was fabulous. There is something about living that long that gives you the right to be cranky. We’ll just leave it at that.

Thankfully, my cousin only lives an hour away and came to my rescue! We took the kids to feed some ducks and then took them to the mall to put on a fashion show for us. I’ve never let my girls in a dressing room alone before – so this was a special treat. They tried on outfits and then came out and modeled them for us.

This was a size 10 that she picked out… didn't try that one on!

We left a day early and set out to a camp ground, where we stayed for 4 days. The campground was on a lake and since over half of the sites are owned by people who keep their 5th wheels there… it was quiet. I took runs along the lake and swam in the pool for hours with the kids. The most memorable moment though was when my dad and I took a 3.1 mile bike ride to a local winery, did a wine tasting, and then rode 3.1 miles back to the campground with our purchase!

In other news, this weekend the family and I took a last minute day trip. The girls love water fountains… so we seek them out whenever we can.


Recycle, Reuse, Retire

As a family, we try to recycle as much as possible. Sure every once in awhile a paper towel will be thrown in the trash – but we try to be conscience of what we throw away. With the kids, I’ve started a statement with clean up time. We have our daily pick up of toys – which usually consists of them stashing things under furniture for the clean “look”. We also have our weekly mom sweep, which consist of me finding the proper place for a few things here and there…. and then we have the monthly toss out, which consists of my statement. “Girls, do you want to Recycle this, Reuse it (Something like construction paper that they rolled into a cone shape can be reused for a drawing.) or Retire it?” (which means, give away or throw away.) The monthly toss out takes about an hour and the girls have learned not to get frustrated or upset. I explain to them that old projects cause clutter and if they aren’t going to save it in their box, they need to recycle it. With toys, if it is no longer age appropriate, we decide if it can be given away or thrown away.

Another thing I’ve aways like to do is reconfigure furniture. I feel like it is easier to make a mess when things always stay the same. When you place your furniture in a different spot in the room, (or in a different room altogether) you can de-clutter and organize. When the girls started sharing a room a few months ago, their room became a tight space. However, the guest room stays clean and we only have one kids room to clean up now! Today I made the decision to move the reading chair out of the room and to the basement. The basement only has one overstuffed chair and a rocking chair, so it isn’t very family room friendly. We spend all of our family time up in the living room anyway, but now we have more options. Moving the chair out has made the girls room feel bigger – and taken away one more spot for things to get stuffed under.

In other news, I finished buying school supplies yesterday. I had some things left over from last year that the girls can use. They will also be re-using composition books. I will either tear out pages – or just leave it as is. The math journal had less than half used. I have two left over from last year too… in case she fills the whole thing up. Even with re-using, the supplies cost an arm and a leg. I’m gonna blame it on the pencils. Third grade asked for 8 boxes of 12 pencils, sharpened and First grade asked for 4 boxes of 12 pencils, sharpened. I know that my third grader will not use 96 pencils throughout the year. Maybe 30 – and I think that is pushing it.

Tuna sashimi from date night on the water! yum!

Speaking of food… I made three new dishes for my dad’s birthday party on Monday night. It took me 3 hours to prep them before taking them over to my parents house to cook. We have bacon-wrapped stuffed dates, grilled asparagus and melon salad and last, roasted tomatoes with garlic and gorgonzola. The last two are from the Giada cookbook and the first one was Giada inspired, as she has a procuitto wrapped stuffed date which is not cooked. I wanted to have the goat cheese melted inside the dates – and I love the flavor of the bacon with it. Since I used procuitto in my asparagus salad, I did try one of the dates with it and I didn’t like it as much. You can find all of Giada’s recipes over on my cooking blog. I forgot to take the “after” pictures – but here is the raw product!

raw bacon wrapped stuffed dates… almost yum!


Around the water cooler

Around our house you will often hear one or both of my girls singing or playing some tunes up in their room. They both love music, especially the 6 year old… it is not surprising since I am a singer and am always humming a tune or singing a song. They love all types of music from 80’s, 90’s, Jazz, Christian and more… but you will usually hear kid pop of some sort coming from their room, Hannah Montana, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato or something from High School Musical. The funny part is, I like all of the music. I mean, the artist are good and their tunes are catchy. I’m not embarrassed to say that I know all the lyrics to Ice Cream Freeze (Hannah) or HUMUHUMUNUKUNUKUAPUA’A (from HSM) but I’m not sure if my kids think I’m fun and cool – or maybe a bit crazy.

Today my 8 year old is writing another song. She most recently wrote, The Sea, the Ochan and the Shore (her spelling), which she added some more versus to today. Her new song is titled, Summer, so I’m excited to read the lyrics soon!

Speaking of summer… we only have four weeks left until school starts. I’m not ready to face the fact that my youngest child will be in 1st grade. Rumor has it that our school will have it’s only male teacher this year – and in 1st grade. I think it would be neat… but the 6 year old is not so sure. Wonder if the rumor is true? Our school waits until the week before school to give out teacher assignments. While I can understand why they do it, my stomach remains in knots until we find out. My kids have always been matched with the perfect teacher for them though… so I don’t know why I always worry.

my beauties


Rise and Shine

Amazing how a little children’s song can give such great advice. Two ways I’ve been trying to give God glory are by reading the Word and by exercising. I’m not very good about getting up early, but I get up when I hear my husbands shower turn off to make lunches, coffee and start stretches. My routine for the last few months has been to open my Bible and sit on the floor with coffee and start stretching. Now that I’ve accomplished this, my next goal is to get up when my husband exercises in the mornings and go jogging. So far I’ve only been going jogging when time allows and it is after 6:30 am… but usually my husband leaves by 7, so that would be pushing it with all the other morning things I do (listed above).

I’ve decided to use a few Bible verses to motivate me. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 which says, “24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Hebrews 12:11 which says, “11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Last, one of my favorite which I quoted on my very first blog post in 2007, 2 Timothy 4:7  which reads, “Fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith”. This one is true not only to keep your faith strong, but to believe in yourself.

Now, let me share some more sunshine:

My two little sunshines

having some summer fun


The bean will sprout

I am still doing some searching on a Chef to follow cook through their cookbook. After a ton of soul searching, I’ve decided that I really want to try and cook every recipe in someones cookbook. Now, the question is who. My first instinct was to choose Alton Brown. However, I have followed a few of his recipes and they are pretty daunting. Next I thought of Giada – but I’ve made practically everything in the two cookbooks that I have of hers. Then I came across Cat Cora. I love watching Iron Chef America, so looking into that seemed like a good idea. I don’t think I am good enough to make anything by Masaharu Morimoto!

It has been a week since I typed the above note… and since then, I was at Target and spotted Giada’s new cookbook and gave in. It was an easy choice because there were no other cookbooks by people I have heard from – AND I peeked inside the cookbook and was overwhelmed by the aroma that I imagined from the recipes. Now… here comes the task, the cooking. I’m thinking the best time for me to start this is on June 16th, the day after school gets out and my last day of work! That way I will have time to shop for proper ingredients and make the dish.

In other news, tonight is the Talent Show at the high school. We use their auditorium because it is much, much bigger and nicer. Last night was the final rehearsal and the girls looked so cute up there on stage!! I think it is funny how I get nervous each time I see them. Or rather, right when they are walking on stage. I don’t know if it is a pride thing – or if I am nervous because I am reliving my on stage days. Boy was that a long time ago…

Speaking of children… mine are super cute. I’m really torn about this being the end of yet another school year… but, what can we do? I guess God has a reason that we grow up so fast. Today my Kindergartner was the guest reader for her class. She picked a second grade reading level book. I’m not surprised, the books with super big words bore her. Huge difference from when my 8 year old was in Kindergarden… she took a Dick and Jane book to guest read. Since I noticed that others were reading at a faster pace, I made both girls read, listen to books and go to the library all summer long last summer. She is thankfully, now caught up, which made the 6 year old ahead… but that doesn’t bother me.


Where the lima beans grow

The other night we watched Julia and Julie, a movie based on the blog by Julie Powel, The Julie/Julia Project. I wouldn’t say that this movie was fantastic, but it wasn’t boring either. The one thing that it DID do, was inspire me to do something. Anything.

Now the brain is ticking. However, my selection is limited… I need a Masters to do some of the things that have crossed my mind. So, here are the things that I can do that don’t require additional education… (1) Do my own Julie/Julia project with any of my favorite chef’s cookbooks, (2) Write a short novel (not to be published) (3) Write a children’s book (could possibly be published) (4) Write my own cookbook (ha, ha, ha) (5) Write lyrics (I can either come up with words or tunes, but never together). … … …

You know what else has inspired me? My kids. I had the day off work today, so I’ve been cleaning and organizing the house. As I pulled paper after paper, project after project and pencil after pencil from under my kids beds, I noticed a pattern. They love to draw, but moreover, they love to write. They are good too. Some are songs and some are stories… but they are all meaningful. They all have purpose and were written for a reason. One of the songs I found had great lyrics. I am going to type them how they are written.

The Sea, the Ochan and the Shore

Some people think theirs know one to play with.
Some people think the earth isn’t spining,
but in the eyes of a ital, theirs know such thing
as an oranary God.
But in everything theirs know such thing as a ital
in the temples eyeball but in every thing theirs such thing,
as God.
He created the sea, the oshan and the shore. He created the sea,
the oshan and the shore. He loves us so much that he created us
for some kindness, for some kindness.

I’m not sure if she is done… and I’m a bit confused about the idol part, I know what she is trying to say – or what she should be saying, rather. Maybe she is confused on what an idol is. Maybe this is a song she heard on the radio and is misinterpreting the words? I’ve never heard it though, so I think it is from her head.

So, I’m inspired. I’m thinking my best bet is to follow a cookbook and blog about it. I mean, I’ve been learning to cook for the past two years and I’m loving it. Every once in awhile I blog about the recipes… so, shouldn’t be too hard, right?


The rock star and the rock climber

I’m sure I’ve mentioned several times how different my two girls are. The 6 year old is a girly-girl who loves to dress up, fix hair and in the future (gasp!) will be the teen that is all over which shade of lip gloss will look best today. She loves all things music and pretends that she is a rock star, a chef or a princess.  The 8 year old is a tom-boy who loves to dig, discover, climb and day dream. She is a scientist, a builder and an organizer.

It is amazing to watch them in their element. Right now, the rock climber is outside collecting rocks and other specimens for further analysis. She uses a shovel to carefully scrape away dirt and gently lift the object to her fingers. She places the objects in her bucket and stores them away for later observation. The rock star is upstairs, playing music and singing along. She has her “Hannah Montana” headset on and is standing on her bed in front of her audience… a herd of stuffed animals that can’t defend themselves.

It is also fun to watch the girls interact. When they are both outside, the rock star will try and keep up with the rock climber. She will ask questions and usually give her opinion on why swinging or picking flowers is a much better option… but, they get along and play alongside each other. In other imaginative play, the rock climber will be in a play or musical with the direction of the rock star. She will sing, dance and act along side her sister, usually choosing her own path of rock stardom. In fact, it was the rock climbers idea to have them audition for the school talent show!

It’s fun (and scary!) to watch the girls grow up. I can only imagine what their true professions will be… but for now, I’ve got them pegged.

the rock climber

the rock star being silly with mommy (she loves, loves pictures too...)


It’s birthday time again!

It seems like each week passes more quickly than the last. I cannot believe another year has passed. My baby turned 8 years old today.

Last weekend she attended her very first slumber party. Now, she has had sleepovers with cousins before – so the nights of being silly and staying up late have happened before… but I have never shipped her off to another persons house for a slumber party. Rumor has it that the girls were all well behaved and eventually fell asleep. Needless-to-say, I am relieved!

This weekend found us in another “first” situation. My 8 year old and I had a camping weekend with the Girl Scouts. We slept in a cabin with 16 other girls and I was one of 4 adults. The first night they were pretty hyper, looking around the room at every noise (Which was mostly each other and the “swish, swish” of the old bunk mattresses.) and giggling with each other. Over all the girls were amazing. Willing to learn and explore new things. Next time I want to rough it with the girls and tent camp.

So here we are at today. A school day. Since we didn’t get home from the camping trip until yesterday afternoon, I haven’t had time to plan a friends party… so, today after school and work, we embarked on a journey to get ice cream cake and Chinese food. Last night when I asked my daughter what kind of cake she wanted, she replied, “ice cream cake” – which was a shock to me since I have always baked her a cake or cupcakes. I was going to bake it after she went to bed and major relief flowed over me when she said ice cream cake. This is the first year (since she started having friend parties) that I have not been on the ball at least a month in advance. If you remember back to last year, she had the Luau party which was a huge hit… but took me over a month to plan. This year she wants to have a slumber party. Pretty easy planning… except I was planning for our Disney trip instead. When we got back, I was planning for our camping trip. Oh well… I told her we would find a date for her slumber party this weekend while we did a continuation of her family birthday party with our movie night. She fell for it!

Happy 8th birthday to my first baby girl! You are so beautiful, smart and sweet. I love you!!

doing the happy dance! A zhu zhu!!


The scent of a memory…

Funny how certain scents can take you back. Today on my walk, I smelled wood burning… like a campfire… and instantly was flashed back to the last time we went camping. This, of course, led me to smile because in a week I will be camping at the Disney campground. My parents own an RV and thought it would be fun to drive down and go camping and do a few days of Disney in between. Apparently we stayed at this very campground when I was 5 or 6 years old. The best game plan is to camp, relax, hike and hang out, then a day of Disney, then rinse and repeat a few times. This way the kids get to rest up before running around Disney all day. I’m wondering if I will remember being at this campground or at Disney… and if any scents will trigger my memories.

So, what usually happens the week before a vacation? Something goes wrong… right? Yup, my camera broke. I’m not sure if someone (meaning a 6 year old that loves cameras) dropped it… or if it just magically broke on it’s own… but the thing won’t turn on – or if it does, the lens goes coo-coo.

Along similar lines… last night we watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the girls. We had rented the book from the library and read a few chapters a night together, then we rented the new version of the movie. I have to say, I remember in the old version that both Willy Wonka and the Oompa Loompa’s were a bit looney – and the new one was equally as looney, but better because there wasn’t as much song and dance. The songs were right out of the book. Anyway, in the movie Willy Wonka has flashbacks to his childhood which are triggered by things that the children say.

As far as books go, even though we own a ton of series books that we haven’t even read… I am tempted to check out some of the oldies like “Anne of Green Gables” and “Little House on the Prairie” and then rent the movies. This way the kids imaginations are running and then they get to see their imaginations come to life during family movie night. Yet another fun learning experience.

What scents trigger memories for you?

a memory of 4 years ago...


Life goals… (when you are 6)

Does life get any harder at six?

Whenever our six year old does her pouty face and look, we usually reply with, “aw, it’s so tough to be six…” to which she will immediately agree. I however, do not agree. I would love to be six. Kindergarten, making projects, playing, getting to cuddle up in an adults arms… not saying that I would want to do the whole school thing again, but six? I could handle six.

Here are the said six year old’s life goals for the moment. (1) Lose a tooth. This is very high on the priority list because most of her class has already lost a tooth OR has a wiggly one. She will even go as far as constantly trying to wiggle a tooth. Fun times. (2) Try to get out of eating (fill in the blank). She might have loved the dish last week, but today is a different story. (3) Convince you that she is more knowledgeable on (blank) topic than you. “No really mom, it is true!” (4) Convince me that EVERYBODY else has play dates EVERY day.

She is a piece of work… but she is oh-so cute.

look at me! I am cute!!

In other news, the job that I was subbing in for the last two months has now become full time. I am a “temporary” employee for the rest of the year. I still go back and forth on whether I am okay with this, everyday. I guess soon enough it will be June and I won’t have to worry about it any more.


Back to basics

Funny how children outgrow likes and dislikes. My kids have always liked crafts, but right now they are really into cutting and gluing. It doesn’t matter if what they cut gets glued… and it doesn’t matter if what they glue was ever cut. Most things they make don’t make sense, but they always have an explanation for them. One thing the kids had seemed to outgrow was coloring books. Not coloring, they still like to color their creations and make cards for people… but opening an actual coloring book hasn’t been done in ages.

Yesterday I took the girls to ToysRus/BabiesRus to get a baby gift for a friend. When we were done, we walked by the game aisle and just glanced. They didn’t ask me to look at other toys and they didn’t ask to buy anything… until the checkout line. Behold, there was a huge display with coloring books. They looked so pretty and nice. They were shouting, “hey little girl! color me!!” and so they asked. “Can we have a coloring book? Look how pretty they are”! Seriously? So the 50 or so coloring books all stacked up neatly at home aren’t pretty anymore?

As soon as we returned home, the girls ran downstairs, grabbed markers and coloring books and have been coloring ever since. Well, they did sleep… but they are back at it this morning.

oooo, coloring is fun!


Snow Wonderland…

AKA Kid Paradise.

But first, a funny story. I normally blog when I (a), have something to blog about, (b), have the time to blog and (c), remember what it was that I was going to blog about. I normally do not write anything down in advance or jot down cute things that my kids say. However, knowing that I eventually wanted to blog about the snow, I wrote it down on my “to do” list along with laundry, cleaning, groceries and the like. I also made some notes under the word blog that I would title it “Snow Wonderland” or “Snow Paradise”. I just sat down to finally type this blog out only to find my word “snow” crossed out and replaced by “kid”. I haven’t found any other small person edits… so, I will continue.

Our weather has looked a bit like this… snow, then more snow and then a bit more snow. While the kids have had fun playing in the snow wonderland, I am done. I think the dog is done too. Poor guy scratches at the door, excited to go out and roam his wonderful huge yard, only to find out that the white stuff is still covering his precious kingdom. Where’s a poor guy supposed to run his figure eights? How is he supposed to catch that squirrel now? Earlier in the season, Rusty pulled a muscle trying to run after a squirrel when he slipped on the icy stairs that go down into the yard. Now, he will just sit at the top of the stairs and bark at the squirrel as if to say, “I see you… and I could catch you if I wanted to…”

So we have done what any normal family does when it snows and school is canceled for over a week. We have built a snow tunnel, built snowmen (and a snow dog), made several new recipes for dinner and baked yummy goodies and let’s not forget crafts. My kids love crafts. I have started to teach them how to make friendship bracelets. The 7 year old loves it… the 6 year old, not so much.

Here are a few pics of our snowy adventures…

the snow tunnel...

the snow blob that the 6 yr old helped me with...

the snow reindeer... or dog???

husbands perfect snowman... um, yeah.


a little bit, and a little bit more

We had the blizzard of 2009 just a few weeks ago, and now we have the blizzard of 2010.

I’m tired of snow. I must say, it is fun to see your kids playing in the snow… and their daddy out there helping them build a fort… but, come on. Snow means shoveling and slushy mess yet to come.

But while I reminisce about my own childhood and watch my kids have fun, it makes me kind of glad that we are snowed in… bunkered down together as a family for the next few days. We have had lots of hot chocolate, movies and board games… and the fun has just begun.

the view out the front door... where's the mailbox?

no, I do not own snow boots. yes, those are target bags around my feet!

Cheers to the snow!


Torn…

I have been working every day for the last two weeks. While having a routine and constant day is nice, I am also learning a new balancing act. I no longer can do laundry during the mornings, take my dog on a daily walk or run errands while the kids are at school. Those things, if I do them, have to be done after 4 pm and with kids. I know, that is what most working moms do… but I am torn.

This job is only temporary. I am a substitute teacher. The reason I chose this job in the first place was so that I’d have days at work and days at home. A good balance of alone time and housekeeping verses keeping my brain active and working. My favorite part about subbing is the variety, getting to work with different age children and see what they are learning. Every once in awhile a sub job will be for an Aide. While helping individual students is rewarding, it is also very draining.

Two weeks ago I got a call to be an Aide. Aide’s work with individual students and get paid less than Substitute teachers. Now, I don’t take teacher jobs over Aide jobs because they get paid more… I take the Aide jobs because I want to work and maybe even make a difference in some young kids life. (I’m a dreamer, what can I say?) So… the Aide job turned into a temporary job while one of the school employee’s is out.  I wake up every morning ready to go and feeling very blessed for the opportunity to work. However… I can’t help but feel sometimes that I’m missing out on something. I mean, I signed up to be a Substitute teacher because I love kids and mine are at school all day long – so, why shouldn’t I be at school all day long? My kids and I have the same hours, I don’t owe the school any extra time for meetings or planning. It is perfect. I signed up to be a Substitute teacher for the random work schedule. Teach a day, stay home a day.

I am torn. I love what I am doing at school right now and I love the constant… but at the same time, I kind of just want to do what I signed up for… substitute as a teacher, for a class.

I am a mess. My real goals are to eventually get a Masters degree and my own classroom. If only I had picked a real major in college. Don’t get me wrong, lots of people are music performance majors and then go on to BE performers. That was not in my cards…. and I knew it, right after I graduated and met my husband. If I had gotten a Special Education or Early Childhood Education degree… things would be so much different now.

So now, I am stuck in limbo land… and torn.


2010 and counting…

…and so goes 2009, Wow.

Our Christmas vacation was a wonderful, relaxing and fun-filled time. Our break started early with the Blizzard of 2009 and the last three days of school being canceled. However, they did it on a day by day basis… so, we couldn’t head out anywhere 3 days early.

kid one

kid two

Rusty says, "Where is daddy?"

"There he is!"

the view up the sidewalk

Our plan was to be at home for Christmas. It is a tradition that we started a few years ago when husband and I decided that we wanted our kids to wake up Christmas morning in their own house. The day before Christmas Eve, we made the decision to move our girls from their own rooms into one shared room. It was the 6 year olds idea because she has decided that she no longer likes to be alone. This worked out great since we have always wanted to have the guest bedroom upstairs. I finally have an office that I can stretch out in! (well… after we clean up the mess!)

Christmas morning was a fun and relaxing time. My parents had spent the night (in the new guest room!) and were ready to celebrate with us. I had made sausage cheese balls and Vienna rolls ahead of time and popped them both in the oven. The kids opened presents and were very excited about their gifts. Later that afternoon we headed over to my parents house to prepare Christmas dinner. We were joined by my sister and her family, her in-laws and another local friend.

Thanks Aunt Erin!!

The rest of the break was spent doing fun things like ice skating, swimming at the indoor pool, playing tons of board games, watching movies and plenty of cuddle time.

look at the kid that wiped out in the background!

New Years Eve was spent with our good friends and some new friends. We cooked up some mean appetizers and played board games and the Wii until it was time to ring in the New Year.

Husband and I "punching" each other on Wii


The iPod

My children do not have their own iPod’s. Since my husband and I both have one, we let them “dock” in the kids rooms. At the beginning of the year, the older child got an iHome clock for her birthday and this year the younger child got an iHome clock for her birthday. This brings me a glimpse into the teenage years…

This morning, both girls were upstairs getting dressed for school. Both girls had iPod’s blasting tunes. Both girls were blasting different songs and singing along. Oh boy…

I think about the teenage years a lot. It really frightens me. I think about the way I acted as a teen… how poorly I treated my parents sometimes. I am not ready. Hopefully these next 6 years will go slow enough that I will be able to prepare myself and help the girls to grow. Yikes… in 5 years and 4 months my oldest will be 13.

In other news, our Elf friend, Mr. Squiggles has made an appearance on our shelf. Every evening he flies to the North Pole to report to Santa and every morning he comes home and sits on another shelf to listen in on the day. If the girls have even so much as started to argue… we gently remind them of the Elf sitting on the shelf… and they are friends again. I wonder how many more years we can have this Elf… and if he can stay year round??

Multi-tasking... (eating chocolate and playing the DS, another favorite of this generation!)

playing Super Mario brothers "wirelessly" vs her sister... (amazing...)


The other side of the story

As you know, my kids have been learning about kindness to others. In some ways it has helped them realize that there are people in the world that aren’t as fortunate as they are. However, it always comes back to the fact that they are kids. After a child turns four or five years old, the realization hits them that they are their own people. All of the sudden, they are more independent and self aware. They see that mommy and daddy are still in charge – but that they can get away with more if they keep disobeying.

I have really sweet kids. Most of the time they are getting along with each other and being nice in general. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have major mean streaks or that they aren’t selfish. Children are selfish by nature. Who am I kidding? All humans are selfish by nature. Which brings me to my point. Christmas.

Christmas is the time of year when most parents hear, “I want, I want, I want…” If I showed you the number of “Dear Santa” letters that I’ve hidden away (because Santa already picked them up!) in the last few weeks, you’d be shocked! It is mostly the six year old. I don’t remember if the 7 year old was this way the last few years? I’m guessing she must have been. She is a bit more tame this year. She wrote one letter and has mostly talked about what she would love to get other members of the family. As I type, the six year old is writting yet another letter. Funny part is, she almost always has asked for the same thing in each letter. The last one contained a price and everything. “Dear Santa, For Christmas I want (fill in) and it costs ($$).” I guess Santa doesn’t make toys anymore…

Every year we go over the true meaning of Christmas with the kids. They learn about the birth of Jesus and why God sent him to the Earth. Throughout the year we discuss stories in the Bible and why Jesus died for our sins. If you ask the kids what Christmas is about. They will reply something like this… “Christmas is about Jesus’ birth and children getting presents to celebrate His birthday.” True… but, it always goes back to the “I want, I want” part. I need some ideas to make them want to give more than receive.