Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 26 - The Gym

9 months up, 9 months down...Isn't that what they say about pregnancy weight? I've been up, and now I'm on my way down, but it's not coming off as fast as I feel it should based on the amount of time I've been spending at the gym. OK, enough whining about that.

We are at the gym 4 times a week. It is my sanity. I get adult conversation (between huffing and puffing breaths) and a break from the kids. The kids like it there and get a little exercise themselves.

Today we about overdosed on the gym because we were there twice. Maria had to do her tennis lesson early since we'll be going to grandma's later this week. A perfect opportunity to try out the new camera and take some action shots...(I still have a lot to learn about this new camera.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 25 - Sunshine

As I was driving Maria to school today blasting the usual Coldplay I caught myself smiling. Happiness is the sun shining, the open road, and a four year old trying to keep up with Chris Martin's lyrics. Spring is coming on and life is good.

Today was Maria's Easter party at her preschool. It was pretty low-key...some sugar cookie decorating, gift bag decorating and an Easter egg hunt. Then a presentation of the resurrection with lego figures.

My kids have one more day of school and then it's Spring Break. I think time is speeding up! Which is a good thing if you are wanting your husband to come back home. Only 375 more days and then life will really be good.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 24 - Easy Going

I didn't set the alarm last night. That choice sealed my fate, for Elise woke up at 6:00 a.m. this morning. Ouch. More time to get the chores done...ha ha!

Cleaning is the only thing on agenda today. I started off strong, but that early awakening is taking it's toll now that it's midday. What's nice is I have a deadline. The ladies are coming over tonight. It's my turn to host "Desperate Housewives" despite there is no new episode tonight.

My neighborhood is full of moms that get together every Sunday night to watch the show. We've done this since the first season - 5 years now. At the beginning we were gung ho and drank bottles and bottles of wine, or our favorite - slushy buckets. Now, most of us opt for bottled water. One thing has not changed...as soon as a commercial comes on we get chattering like little school girls. It's probably the only time we wish the commercials were longer.

Since Chris left, I've not been able to go to these Sunday night get togethers. My nearly perfect attendance is out the window. So, I was excited to volunteer to host. I have a lot of gossip to catch up on! But more than that, it's a good excuse to get the house clean.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 23 - Carnival #2

We attended Luke's school carnival today...the last stop on this year's carnival circuit. This one I got to brave alone with 3 kids. I have to admit, these things were more fun as a kid. But, I survived and the kids came home with more sugar than I know what to do with. Here are some of the highlights:

A carnivorous game of throw the sponges into Sponge Bob's mouth.

At the knock-down-the clowns-with-a-beanbag-game Luke said, "If you don't like clowns, this is the game for you."

Mmmm...Cake Walk

The lucky winner today - Maria. She won a 2 liter of 7-Up at the ring toss and this special treat on her first try of the cake walk. She picked the smallest cake, but that's probably a good thing after devouring a whole bag of cotton candy!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 22 - Stimulus

Today I did my part to help our flailing economy by buying myself a fancy new camera. I can only hope that I will learn how to use it. I'm excited about the possibility of capturing better pictures of my kids. My current camera is so slow, and my kids are not.

To balance my retail therapy today, I did two not-for-myself things, three really, but one involves lottery tickets and a chain letter...so, probably just the two count. First, I bought 20 cantaloupes and brought them to our local food pantry. They were happy to see them.

Next, I baked all afternoon to help "sweeten up" the cake walk at Luke's school carnival (that I will be writing about tomorrow, unless something more exciting happens). The cupcakes turned out fabulous, but my Cake Doctor recipe book failed me on the white sour cream cake. You can't tell this in the picture due to a creative frosting technique called "loading up the middle", but the center of each one sank. But, who cares really about the cake. It's all about the sprinkes, right?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 21 - Haircuts

Luke and Maria desperately needed haircuts. Here are their before and after shots. It looks like only one of them got a haircut, but I did pay for two.

Before shot of Maria

Before shot of Luke

The after shot.

Yeah, I don't know what the stylist had in mind with Maria. I did ask her to leave her bangs alone because I think we are trying to grow them out. (Long term hair goals for a 4 year old are beyond complicated.) But, I'm disappointed that she looks nearly the same. (That came out wrong...but you know what I mean.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 20 - Dinner

So tonight for dinner I decided to cook instead of heat up. Heat-up food is the kind that Maria likes. So I knew I was in for a battle with her. But a promise was made to Luke about me making stew. However, Luke doesn't really know what stew is, and I really don't have time to make it. So I improvised.

This is "Chicken Noodle Stew". I invented it, I think. I baked the chicken in the oven, cooked the frozen egg noodles, and made a white sauce with butter, flour, and chicken broth. When all that gets combined, you have stew. (I'm sure in veggie eating households, something with color could have been added, but here we consider white things to be "safe" to eat.)

Luke dove right in, no problem. In between bites he was trying to convince Maria to try it. She was having none of it. Even with this persuasive argument, "Maria, Maria, it's not even poison", no bites were taken.

Little did she know I had a trick up my sleeve. Earlier in the day I purchased a Transformer musical toothbrush at the store (one just like her brother's). It was really a replacement for his, but he didn't know this yet, so ownership was still fair game.

So a trade was made...a bite of "stew" for a new toothbrush. The deal was sealed - two bites were taken. Another tally mark for mom.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 19 - Painting

When my 6 year old son started talking like Mr. Crabs I knew we had overloaded on Sponge Bob. Time to break out the paints and turn off the TV.

Luke must be studying things in art. Last night he came home and painted a picture with little dots inspired by Georges Seurat. Then with the help of his little sister who held a flashlight on me, he painted my portrait as seen here:

So, back to today. The kids started painting and chatting. Maria said, "Luke, what are you making?" Luke answers, "Another Pitasso." I chime in eager, (but not pushy) to fix the mispronunciation, "The museum might have a Picasso, maybe we can go sometime." Maria corrects me, "You mean Pitasso." Ok, kids you win. It's only kindergarten right? There's not a test or anything I hope. He could ace a test about Sponge Bob, but needs a little more time to study art history.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 18 - Special Order

I have so many projects hanging over my head that it's starting to stress me out. I have 2 special orders for Etsy, a basketball pool to help out with, and a huge consignment sale project all due within a week of each other. Sometimes when I have too much I my plate I run more smoothly, but this time I'm feeling rusty.

I was relieved to check one thing off of my list ~ the special order for 100 tags - finished and sent to Greece.

Arawen makes fantastic jewerly. I love the Victorian and Renaissance influences in her pieces. I also love that she is one of my best customers. She fell in love with my mariposa tags so we tweaked them to fit her custom stamp. Here's how I make them.

First, I hope that my printer is working. When it's is a good mood I print out the images I purchased from etsy seller piddix. I punch them out and ink all of the edges.

Then I cut out all of the gray tags, ink their edges, and punch a hole in them. Next, I get out the glue stick and get all of the little butterflies glued on. Finally, I loop the string through the hole and viola, they are finished.

I can't wait to get more checked off of my to-do list, but having this project on its way to Greece has lifted off quite a load!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 17 - Goodbye, Again

The weekend went too fast. But of course, it had to end. We had round 2 of goodbyes today, and this time seemed harder than the last. Maybe it was because we were awake. (He snuck off in the wee morning hours last time.) Maybe it was because we knew we were returning to the hard life without him. Maybe it was because the next stretch is 5 weeks long.

I'm sure it is hard for him to drive away. He wants to be here with us, but needs to do his job. What a conflict of duty. In a way, I would imagine it's harder for him than it is for us.

When he got activated in 2003, the war was just starting and neither of us knew what was in store. He was training 2 hours away, so we had a few chances to see each other before he flew overseas. We never knew when the "real goodbye" would be. Those were some heart breaking emotional goodbyes. The last time I saw him, I was driving away after dropping him off at the drill center. He just stood there in the parking lot until I got out of sight. Days later he flew to Kuwait just as President Bush was giving Saddam Hussein a 48 hour ultimatum to leave Iraq. Terrifying for both of us, except I didn't have the rockets firing at me...so I guess I was the one better off.

So in comparison, these goodbyes are not as hard as during that time. Still, it's a terrible feeling to see him drive away.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 16 - Firsts

We are still enjoying Chris being with us this weekend. We've got 24 more hours to have fun with him and then he's away for another 5 weeks.

Today we've witnessed 2 of Elise's "firsts". Her first tooth is now visible. I think I'll start getting a little more serious about weening her.

Her other trick today was rolling over for the first time! She did it twice. I had put her down on her belly and she flipped right back over. I took this picture of her right after the big event.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 15 - A 48 Hour Visit!

Chris came home today for the weekend! After only minutes of walking through the door it felt as if he had never left. The kids climbed on him, played "batman", and showed him all of the pictures, trophies, school work, etc. that he had missed out on the last two weeks.

He actually came home in the nick of time because tonight was Maria's carnival at her preschool. Being alone with 3 kids there would have not been a good time, but with him helping it was a joy.

When I was little I looked forward to my school's carnival more than any other day of the year. I loved deciding how to use my tickets and accumulating cheap little prizes. I especially was drawn to the cake walk, but don't remember ever winning one. My best prize was a real live gold fish that I won by throwing a ping pong ball into a little fish bowl.

It is fun to be on the "grown up" side of things now and see in my children how I felt back when I was a child. They spent their tickets, bought some cotton candy, and accumulated lots of cheap little prizes. And yes...one of them won a toothbrush...much better than a real live goldfish.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 14 - March Madness

Today is the crazy day when I start to pretend that I like basketball. I don't really like basketball, I like the gambling associated with the NCAA tournament. And I really don't like gambling too much, because I usually lose.

But there is one thing that is worth filling out those silly charts about teams I know nothing about - bragging rights. Therefore, I keep trying. Year after year, I keep trying. I think this will be my year. I'm feeling lucky...but it's still early in the day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 13 - Good News

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to grocery shop. And anyone who knows Chris, knows that he loves to eat. We are a good match. So when he called last night to tell me the good news (he's coming home for 48 hours this weekend!) I immediately went into food mode.

Today was the big trip to the store...and it was wonderful because Elise slept through most of it, so I got to take my time and go up and down every eisle. Not only did I get to buy food for him to eat while he's visiting this weekend (which means I get to cook "real food"), but I got to buy him another round of "survival food".

While he's been away he's been living in a hotel near the drill center. No fridge or microwave, only expensive hotel food. Although the per diem helps, he can easily out eat that money. So when he left, I sent him with a huge goody box to help keep his belly filled up. Today I bought him a refill which felt like Christmas shopping.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 12 - St. Patrick's Day

Keeping busy is a good way to take my mind off of the burden at hand. Today we overloaded on busy. By 8:30 we were at the gym. Then we went to the bank, the post office, the dentist, Panera Bread, the park, and the candy shop. Once home, I made chocolate chip/m&m cookies for the St. Patrick's Day get together while the kids were playing outside. (It was a beautiful day here!)

Then after dinner we headed down the street for some much needed social interaction. That was the longest time I've spent talking to grown-ups in quite some time, unless you count Facebook. Like I said...much needed.

Green beer, green cookies, green cupcakes, green guacamole, and a sea of people dressed in green. It was a wonderful time! I think bed time should be a breeze tonight...for both the kids and myself!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 11 - Etsy Day

Etsy goes in spurts for me. Right now it is keeping me crazy busy. I've been working on 2 custom orders, making spring creations, keeping up with the forums, and making treasuries. My latest treasury made it to the front page today!

One of my favorite stores on Etsy is humblebea. She makes fun clothes for kids and other interesting stuff too. She takes beautiful photos, and I always seem to want to include her items in my treasuries.

Recently I volunteered Elise to be a model for humblebea's store. She sent me a beautiful pinafore for me to photograph Elise in. My friend Karin (awindowintowhimsy) and I headed over to Fredrick Meijer Gardens today for a beautiful, lush background for the photo shoot. Karin was in charge of holding the baby while I took the pictures. We had a blast!

After the pictures were taken we went for a nice walk outside in the gardens. What a beautiful day to be there! You can just feel spring wanting to pop out!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 10 - Swimming

Chris was always good about taking the kids to the gym once or twice on the weekends. It would give me a much needed break and give them a little exercise. Michigan winters make it so hard to stay active. Lately he had been taking them swimming which they enjoyed so much. Since he left it's been my turn for swimming duty.

You don't have to stick your big toe in to test the temperature. This pool is a nice warm therapy pool, so it's very comfortable. The gym has all of the goggles, toys, and flippers to keep everyone happy.

Luke started swimming on his own last summer. I don't have to worry about him too much. Maria, on the other hand, thinks she can swim. She will push off away from the edge, dog-paddle for a bit, and then start to sink. If I don't stay close to her we'd be seeing some Baywatch moves from the lifeguard.

Swimming ends with a tradition that Chris started. He would let the kids put their feet in the hot tub for a couple of minutes. I could have stayed in that hot tub until I was a prune. It was the best 2 minutes of my whole day!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 9 - Quote by Luke

Luke said "I want to travel around the world. I want to go to the North Pole. Then I want to go to the South Pole to see if I get upside down."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 8 - Baby Food

Elise recently turned 5 months old. She has been eating "solid" food for a couple of weeks. The technique is to start babies with veggies so that they don't get spoiled with the sweet stuff. The way my other children eat these days makes me think that I'd better get all the veggies I can in her while she is willing.

So, today after a dinner of peas and rice cereal, I cracked open a container of nice sweet peaches for her to test out. I thoroughly enjoyed the great faces of discovery she made. I'm not sure they were all happy ones, but they were so entertaining.

After dinner (and dessert) she went straight to the bathtub!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 7 - Kindergarten Program

Today Luke had another milestone that I'm sad Chris missed. It was the night of the Kindergarten program. I would have liked Chris to have seen the difference between this year and last year when Luke was in DK.

Last year was a disaster. He was not into it at all and actually chose to leave the stage to come sit with us. In fact, I really did not want to endure another round this year. But Luke was actually excited about it...so of course we had to be there.

Before the program began, I started getting a little nervous that we were in for a repeat performance. Notice Luke with his hands on his face. I found out later from him that he was disappointed for not getting placed by "his girlfriend". OK then.

But in the end he pulled through and contributed to the grand production of "Stone Soup" with all of the other kindergarteners. Check that off the list...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 6 - Banana Bread

My grocery shopping and cooking habits are making an abrupt adaptation since Chris has left. He was great for eating the leftovers and making sure the produce was eaten before spoiling. So, now without him here, things are different in the kitchen.

When life gives you rotten bananas...make banana bread.

This is my favorite (and only) recipe for banana bread. I've probably made it 100 times and it is always devoured within a day. It is so moist and tasty. I'm sure it would be great smeared with butter, but here we eat it plain jane style.

Glazed Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1-2 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream the butter and sugar. Then mix in vanilla and eggs. Add the bananas and sour cream. Then add in the flour, baking soda, and salt until blended.

Pour into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with a mixture of 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 5 - Cookies

Today was the day of the cookie! When the mail lady pulled into the driveway I knew something good was in store for me. I had almost forgotten that my friend Amy was going to have me taste test her nearly famous cookies. How I lucked out on that I have no idea...but I'm a good person for the job!

I had already planned on making my own cookies today for a party tomorrow night. So, after nibbling some of hers, it was time to get mine own done. First up...the chocolate chips with mini m&m's. Who doesn't love the dough better than the cooked ones?

Next up I made the chocolate peanut butter no bake cookies like grandma used to make...except mine are a much bigger version! I love to scrape down the side of the pot while the mixture is warm and gooey and eat it up.

My total calorie count today is probably enormous, but it was so worth it!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 4 - Sleep Deprived

A few days ago I started giving Luke Concerta for his ADHD. It's been a miracle. I can't wait to see how this little pill changes his life for the better. I wish we could have started him on it sooner so that Chris could see the difference it is making.

Right off the bat I noticed 2 side effects. He's never hungry and he cannot fall asleep at night. The latter problem is the most worrisome since each night he's been up until nearly 11. It seems like the pill wears off right at bedtime and all of the energy that he's suppressed all day attacks and keeps him from falling asleep. My friend Karin whose daughter also takes the same medication suggested looking into melatonin to help him. I called the doctor, got the okay and picked some up. Hopefully tonight he'll fall asleep before 11:00.

I can see why people are against medicating. It's so scary sending these little pills into your child not knowing what the outcome will be, which side effects might take place, and what the long term will look like. I also see how one pill can start problems that another pill can help. Where does it end? For now, I'll just keep looking for the positives in all of this and enjoy seeing my son in a new way.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 3 - Laundry Day

Today is one of those rare days where we have no plans. Still, I always find ways to keep us busy. We ran out to get Luke's lightsaber this morning, and for some odd reason I thought getting an additional one for Maria would be a good idea. Once we were home it didn't take long for me to realize I had made a big mistake.

So, as they were dueling, I worked on the laundry. Laundry. I'm usually great at talking myself out of finishing at least one part of the laundry process...usually the folding/putting away part. A lot of times clean clothes sit on the bed until bedtime and then they get placed on the floor for another day. But today, I was washing Chris' last things and I wanted to just get it done and over with. Washed, dried, folded, and put away. No more Chris.

On the upside, less laundry is one of the few perks about him being gone. Saving money on groceries and getting the whole bed to myself are the other ones. I guess I'll have to appreciate the little things for a while.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 2 - Odyssey of the Mind

Today was the day I both dreaded and looked forward to: the Odyssey of the Mind competition day. Luke was in a group ranging from kindergarteners to 2nd graders who had a problem called "The Candy Factory". Their group invented the candy, made the set, made the dialog, and performed it.

I was so worried because during all of the practices throughout the school year, Luke was the silly one. He was the one we all worried would blow the whole thing. But, he was perfect. PERFECT! I nearly cried. Tomorrow, he is getting the lightsaber he was eyeing at the store. Well deserved, I'd say!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 1 - New Job

Today is the first day of my new job. I am now a military wife. Chris pulled out of the driveway at 6:18 a.m. leaving me to wonder how this new life is going to work. 14 months is a long shift with no breaks, but with the help of family and friends we will pull through. I am told that I need to be strong so that Chris can focus on his duties and not worry about us. I'm sure I'll have my ups and downs, but I'm up to the challenge. Just as Chris is proud to be serving his country, I am proud to be married to this courageous and noble man.

Today I am thankful that my mom is coming to help out. The big project de jour is to fix the screen that Chris' seabag knocked out of the door.