Thursday, April 30, 2009

Day 56 - Family Day

The kids did not have school today so we spent the entire day together, and I have to admit, I'm exhausted. After spending the morning at the gym, we went out to lunch at Johnny Carino's (thanks to some free kid's meal coupons we got from Luke's school).
Then after a failed attempt at getting our military ID cards, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Children's Museum. So, the kids got to play with the fun stuff there and I got to play with my camera for a bit.I love the expression on Luke's face in this shot. There was a whole Blue Man Group exhibit there for the kids to experiment with sounds.

Maria at the silly mirrors.

Lots of Elise in the kaleidoscope.

Maria being a bee keeper.

Bubbles are always fun, especially when they are this big!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 55 - To-Do List Review

This is the 5th day out of 8 for Chris' visit. We are on the down side now and time is slipping away too fast. I think the up coming goodbye will be the hardest yet since we know we won't have this amount of time together until the end of summer.

Anyhow, I sure have been getting spoiled around here with all of the extra help. I thought I'd update the to-do list from last week.

My list -
adjust the baby's car seat since she's getting so big (done!)
break down all of the cardboard boxes that are going to be recycled (done!)
get the basement organized (ha!)
hang up this darn vinyl wall thing that has looked like this for the past few weeks: (thinking about it)

The kids' list -
go to Chuck E. Cheese (done!)
go swimming (not yet)
play Transformers and Power Rangers (kind of)
go to the Children's Museum (maybe tomorrow)
go to a movie (none out that we want to see, so we are crossing this one off)

My dream list -
get my haircut (nope)
get a massage (nope)
go shopping, by myself (nope)
craft craft craft (not enough)

The must do list -
Go up north and bring home our trailer and sell it! If it doesn't sell while he's here we need to store it and put an ad on Craig's list. (SOLD!)

So, we are getting there. It looks like we are even going to have a chance to go out for dinner at The Melting Pot this Friday...a great finale to a perfect week!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 54 - $10

We bought Luke a new bike today. The choices were to buy it in pieces, or pay $10 more to take home an assembled one. Hmmm...I know what my choice would have been, but Chris was the one in the checkout lane while I was stuck in the Barbie aisle with Maria. So, we ended up with a box of bike parts.

Good thing we didn't have anything else going on today.

But how wonderful it was to have Luke and Chris working together. Plus, Luke loves any opportunity to play with real tools. So, I guess, in this case it really was $10 worth not spending.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 53 - Pizza

Here is my one pan dinner that pleases everyone in the family. But it takes a lot of math and ingenuity to create this thing. I'm not even sure I can accurately describe what I did here...

It's half pesto sauce and half pizza sauce. But every section is tailored to what everyone is willing to eat.

Maria - Chicken and cheese
Luke - Chicken, kalamata olives, artichokes, roasted red peppers
Me - Chicken, kalamata olives, roasted garlic
Chris - He'll eat anything...the more toppings the better.

So, everyone is 100% satisfied with the chef tonight.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day 52 - Up North

We spent the day up north in our favorite place - Leelanau County. The main reason for making the trip was to bring home our camper which has lived there for 3 years. But, we turned it into a very short beach day.

First stop...Moomer's Ice Cream shop in Traverse City. They milk the cows right there. It just does not get any better than this.

Our favorite - Coconut Almond Delight. They brought it out from the back for us since it wasn't one of the flavors in the front case. Toasted coconut, toasted almonds, and mini chocolate chips in a "vanilla based ice cream" (inside joke for my dad).

Chris going back for a second helping..because one scoop just wasn't enough.

My favorite place on earth. Even more than Disney World.

Elise's first trip to Lake Michigan.

Dad, I got a head start on you today. Look at the all the stones - my addiction!

Then we got sandwiches from our favorite spot - The Cheese Shop in Leland's Fishtown. I was surprised it was open so early in the season. It's the first time we didn't have to circle the lot five times to find a spot to park.

The grand finale - another round of Moomer's ice cream in Sutton's Bay. So, if you are keeping track - that's Chris' 3rd cone, and the 2nd one for the rest of us. It's that good.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 51 - Saturday

Chris made it home about 2:30 a.m. We had a nice breakfast and then he went back to bed.

Elise slept through the night for the 1st time (I think. If she's done it before it was a LONG time ago.)

I woke up to find out a treasury I made went to the front page. I think this is the 4th one. I was happy that it included lots of my friends from the EtsyWMI team!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 50 - Finally

Today has been jam-packed busy, but that's pretty typical. I almost didn't get Luke to the bus stop on time this morning. As if that wasn't bad enough I really blew it by not getting to the bus stop in time to get him off at noon. They don't let kindergarteners off the bus without a parent, (which I 100% agree with), but I had to chase the bus down, flag down the bus driver, and lure a grumpy Luke off.

Between the two trips to the bus stop, I dropped off and picked up Maria at preschool, went to Jo-Ann Fabrics, Old Navy, the post office, and the grocery store. If it were just me alone, these things would seem easy, but traveling with a baby makes everything challenging (and heavy).

The second we all got home we packed up the pool bag...that's right, the POOL. Hibernation is OFFICIALLY over. What a long, long winter.

All the neighbors met down at the Tannis' pool for hot dogs, junk food, and swimming for a couple of hours. I feel a combination of sunburn, and fresh-air-wiped-outedness. Soon, this pool time will be the routine instead of watching Sponge Bob all day...thank goodness!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 49 - To-Do List

Chris is going to be traveling home tomorrow for a week long visit. He flies from (I'm assuming) LA to St. Louis and then driving the rest of the 8 hours. Combine that with a 3 hour time difference and he's going to be fried.

Little does he know we've been cooking up some fun to-do lists around here. I'm sure the first thing he'll want to do is SLEEP (ha - wouldn't we all), but after he gets caught up a bit we've got some work to do.

My list -
adjust the baby's car seat since she's getting so big
break down all of the cardboard boxes that are going to be recycled
get the basement organized
hang up this darn vinyl wall thing that has looked like this for the past few weeks:

The kids' list -
go to Chuck E. Cheese
go swimming
play Transformers and Power Rangers
go to the Children's Museum
go to a movie

My dream list -
get my haircut
get a massage
go shopping, by myself
craft craft craft

The must do list -
Go up north and bring home our trailer and sell it! If it doesn't sell while he's here we need to store it and put an ad on Craig's list.

Going up north is the thing I'm most looking forward to. We'll get to walk on the beach, get some Moomer's ice cream, and enjoy the most beautiful county in all of Michigan.

I wonder if we'll have time for anything on his list?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 48 - Elise's First Word

Another day of not getting much done. How is that possible? Grocery shopping and my taxi mom services did not leave much time for what I really wanted to do - craft.

Little Miss No-Nap (Elise's well earned nick-name) was awake most of the day, except for the ride home from the grocery store. She takes after Chris in the "I don't need to sleep" department.

She spent most of her day babbling and smiling. She talked more today than I've ever heard from her before - must be something on her mind. One thing that was very pronounced was "da-da". That will be a nice greeting for when Chris comes this weekend for a visit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 47 - Maria

Nothing too exciting is going on here today. We did our usual morning trip to the gym for my personal trainer session. Those always end up with me feeling like I've been hit by a freight train for the rest of the day. Oh how I miss knowing what a nap feels like.

After lunch we all went over to school for Maria's kindergarten screening. Luke and I played tic-tac-toe while Maria went with the teachers who were determining her readiness. I think Maria was ready for kindergarten two years ago, but that's probably just the proud mom talking. But, seriously, she's pretty smart.

What was complicated was all of the paperwork involved for Maria.
Resides with? hmm...technically or generally?
Medical problems? yes, aortic stenosis, but no technically not
Allergies? possibly penicillin...but we need to have it tested again just to be sure
Can she tie her own shoes? do they even make shoelaces anymore?
Separates from parents easily? did you see her running down the hall just now?

She's going to make a great little kindergartner. We just need to make it through summer first!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 46 - Accomplishments

I finally finished a big order today. What a relief! This one was for 150 thank you tags for a wedding - hand cut, stamped, hole punched, bow tied, and stringed. Check that off the list.

Another big accomplishment today was Maria learning how to give herself tattoos. I thought she was too quiet for too long. She thinks she looks fancy now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day 45 - Sunday

I think it's funny how I keep writing about food, but the breakfast I made today is worthy of mention. I made waffles and covered them with strawberries, bananas, chocolate sauce, and some whipped cream. As I was putting them together Maria said, "These are going to be super, super, super tasty." They must have been because they were gone within seconds. (Too bad veggies and chocolate sauce don't go together too well.)

The rest of the day was easy for once. Luke got picked up to go to a friend's house for a few hours, and Maria went next door for a bit. They were both gone while Elise was sleeping, so I actually had time to work on a special order that's been hanging over me.

Later in the day my sister and her boyfriend came over with the third round of Easter goodies for this year. After the sugar high wore off, everyone was pretty sleepy (the grown-ups were anyways).

While they were here I conquered installing the new vcr/dvd player. Those who know me know that I am technically challenged, but I did get that baby to work.

It was a nice day...I'm glad it went fast. Tomorrow it's back to the grind!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day 44 - Party Day

My kids like it when things turn out fair, and today was one of those rare days when that happened - they both had a birthday party!

Luke's party was for "the prettiest girl in the whole class". He talks about her all the time and is constantly making things to give her. One of the things he made for her was a locket made out of paper, with his picture on one side and hers on the other. Cute.

Well, a dilemma came up when he wanted to give her a real locket for her birthday. Would a mom of a 6 year old girl appreciate the fact that there would be one less toy-type gift, or would she be horrified? I had to take a gamble on it because it meant a lot to him. And when I found this little locket I figured it looked harmless.

Well, it turns out it was a big hit. She was wearing it when I picked Luke up at the end of the party and even asked if she could put his picture and her picture in it. Cute. (Whew...)

Then Maria had her party at the local gymnastics place. She loves it there, so anytime she goes there she is a happy girl. This party was for a little friend at preschool that she hugs every morning and hugs again when they say goodbye. Cute.

She had a great time too. Her favorite part was watching her friend open her presents. I'm sure she will sleep good tonight after all that running around!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day 43 - Eye Doctor

My mom came up to help shuttle the kids while I took Elise to the eye doctor today. She has a bump under her left eyelid that I discovered about a week ago, and the pediatrician quickly sent us to a specialist. So, today we met with a pediatric opthamologist to have it looked at.

The bump is called a dermal cyst. It's about the size of a pea and it moves around. It really doesn't bother her and thank goodness the doctor said it hasn't impaired her vision (yet).

So, at this point they are monitoring it to check it's rate of growth. Probably by summer we are looking at surgery to have it removed.

In other news, we did have a beautiful day again. Mom and I took the kids to the park and had another round of ice cream. Then the kids had a squirt gun fight and begged to put on their swimsuits (I didn't let them). It's funny how the temperature went up 40 degrees since morning!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 42 - Around Town

Today was such a beautiful day. We went into town to walk around for a bit. The fresh air and sunshine completely wiped out all 3 kids (and me).

The first thing we noticed were all of these green footprints. They were everywhere and just beckoned to be jumped on. I'm not sure the meaning of them, but they made the walk interesting.First stop was the toy store. The kids had some allowance money to burn. Maria never has a hard time picking out things, but Luke took his time and contemplated the price on everything. He ended up with a boomerang.

Next stop, ice cream. Luke got a flavor called candy playdough. Does that even sound yummy? I guess to a six year old it does. Maria got the cookie dough and I got cake batter.

Then we walked around by the dam. People were fishing, riding bikes, and soaking up the sun. The kids love walking over the dam seeing the water high on one side and the waterfall on the other.

When we got home the boomerang had to be tried out. I love the determination in this picture. Neither one of us could get it to come all the way back, but it was fun trying.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 41 - Good Day

It's been a good day around here. It started with dropping Luke off at the bus stop. His waves are contagious to everyone else there. He waves until the bus is out of sight. Cute.

I had my favorite lunch today - a leftover meatloaf sandwich.

The mail came today and I got a tax return check and this maple syrup I ordered. Check out VermontMaple's shop for a great variety of well-priced maple syrup goodies. I see pancakes in my future.

Maria was a great helper today by feeding the baby cereal puffs while I got some crafting done.

And speaking of crafting, I got a special order request firmed up today so I got to order a big load of paper. I love on-line shopping. What a great day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day 40 - Numbers

Today is day 40 out of 400.

10% down
90% to go

10 days until Chris comes for a
7 day visit.

Elise had a doctor's visit today.
187 days old
3 shots today
17.8 pounds
26.5 inches
2 teeth

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 39 - Cool

When I turned on the computer this morning the treasury I had made was on the front page of etsy! What a conquest! People who know the etsy world know what a big deal it is...and people who don't know probably think, "What in the world?" or "She spends way too much time on the computer."
Regardless, it helped to change around my bad mood from yesterday which probably would've continued since I had yet another pretty-much sleepless night.

Spring break is over, so it was rush, rush, rush this morning. Breakfast, lunch box, folder, backpack, brush teeth, rush, rush, rush. Hurry, we do not want to miss the bus!

Luke threw me for a loop this morning when he wanted to "style" his hair. He even asked for a comb. At first he had a mohawk going, but I talked him out of that one. I supported his ambition with some Redken goo and got him "looking cool". And I got him to the bus stop on time.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 38 - Easter

Today is Easter. I'm tired. My house is a mess. My kids are on an all day sugar-high and I'm waiting to see which kid throws up first. I just want to take a nap.

Luke woke up at 6 a.m. ready to hunt for eggs. It took me until 11:00 last night to get things ready (for some reason this year's bunny decided to buy Nerds and mini-Twix, neither of which fit into plastic eggs. The back-up plan - raid the Halloween candy and split up the 5 rolls of Sweet Tarts).

The baby woke up twice last night (1 and 3:30). So, yeah, I'm tired.

The next bite-off-more-that-you-can-chew activity - church. I don't even want to talk about it. This picture is proof for Chris that I really did go.

Oh, did I mention Chris is on 24 hours of San Diego. I think I'm really jealous. Where's my liberty? (Sounding bitchy there I know, but really, I want a break.)

So, again, it's Easter. I'm not doing the big ham dinner (even though that sounds really good especially that cheesy hash brown casserole stuff). Instead I'm cooking this other ham thing...and for putting up with my complaining today I'm including the recipe.

Ranch Noodles with Ham - (serves 6)
1 (12 oz) package egg noodles
1 cup diced ham
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Cook egg noodles according to directions; drain and return to pot.

2. Meanwhile, saute ham in a lightly greased skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes until crisp and fragrant. Set aside.

3. Add butter and remaining ingredients to noodles, stirring to blend. Dish up, and top with ham.

Hopefully I'll be back to my normal self tomorrow when the kids get back to school. 11 days for a spring break is ridiculous.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 37 - Lucky

I'm realizing that we live with a good luck charm. Maria is the luckiest person I know. In the last month she has won:

* a stuffed bear from a claw machine
* a cake at the cake walk
* a 2-liter of 7-up at a ring toss
* a football from today's Easter egg hunt

Is she too young to scratch off lottery tickets?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 36 - Easter Eggs

Our Easter Egg coloring today was a bust...literally (well, 3 broken eggs). Each year I forget lessons learned from previous years. So, today I am going to document my tips for the fine art of egg dying so that next year we will have a more successful batch.

Tip 1 - Stick with Paas. This year I got attracted to a different brand. I'm sure it's the same stuff, but I don't remember Paas leaving my table and hands so stained.

Tip 2 - Keep it simple. Next year I will not buy a package with stickers, tattoos, glitter, Hello Kitty, Transformers, Sponge Bob, or any other gimmick that will inevitably mess them up. The tattoos from today's package didn't rub off onto the eggs. Instead the eggs cracked under the pressure. I prefer them just colored...maybe with a little white crayon resist action. All that other stuff makes them messy looking. (My kids used the tattoos on paper really they did come in handy, but just not for what they were intended.)

Tip 3 - Put the vinegar in last. Some of the pellets needed water and vinegar, and some just water. I was deceived by the color of the pellets today, and so with my pre-mixed cups of vinergar water, I messed up. I'm glad nothing blew up.

Tip 4 - Have something to put the eggs in that is softer and more contained than the um, floor.

Tip 5 - Make more eggs. I only made a dozen this year....what was I thinking? I love egg salad and hard boiled eggs. Plus, I don't like sending all of that wasted color down the drain. But, come to think of it, it's a little creepy to eat a pink colored egg...I'll have to contemplate this tip a little further.

Tip 6 - Save the dipper for next year so both kids have one.

Today's results...9 eggs, 3 broken eggs, 2 with tattoos, the rest plain, 30 stained fingers, 1 stained table, 1 stained shirt, 2 happy kids, 1 mom that is glad it's over.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 35 - Stones

On a beautiful day like today I get impatient for summer and the things that come along with it - green grass, ice cream, and of course, going to the beach.

Each year our family goes to Lake Michigan. We do the usual things like picnic, make sand castles, and swim. But we also hunt...hunt for stones that is. Walking on the beach collecting stones has almost turned into a competitive sport between my dad and I...but I always get the best ones. (He would not agree.)

When I get home from vacation the stones get put into my gallon size rock tumbler along with the assorted grits and polish powders. For a month, the hum from the motor out in the garage makes me impatient to see the end result. On the day they emerge, I spread out a big towel on the kitchen table and look at all of the little pieces of art.

The only problem with this hobby is what to do with the stones when they are finished. 2 - 3 batches a year makes for a lot of stones. I have baskets filled, plants surrounded, landscaping enhanced, hurricanes filled. I've glued them to birdhouses and sold them in bags at craft shows.

One of my favorite things to do with stones is to simply add a magnet to them. They are fun and still sleek and modern looking on the fridge. I've listed a few sets in my shop and hope to add more soon. You can check them out at

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Day 34 - The Big Picture

Chris and I have a theory about our lives. It generally says that even our biggest problems are quite small compared to other people's problems throughout the world. That helps me keep things in perspective, but I wasn't always like that.

Many years ago I was steaming mad about the property behind us. We thought that land would never be built on which was a nice perk in buying our house. When I saw the pink plastic ribbons hanging from trees marking the lines I about blew. Rage is probably an understatement. That happened on September 10, 2001. I calmed down real fast.

But, then the war on terrorism caught up with us and Chris found himself activated and deployed. He flew to Kuwait as President Bush was giving his 48 hour ultimatum. Angry? Yes. Frightened? Incredibly.

But a lot of good came from it too. Our neighbors, co-workers, and friends were so supportive. Some days you'd see three neighbors riding around mowing our lawn simultaneously. One stormy day the tree in our front yard that held our yellow ribbon blew over and broke. Soon after, Chris' co-workers bought and replaced it with a new one. Another moment was when I needed a babysitter so I could go to the doctor for a brush with pinkeye. Chris' boss took the job and then took me out for dinner.

The best part of that deployment was bringing Maria home from the hospital 9 months to the day of Chris' return. She is a bonafide war baby.

That long 8 month deployment seems like a blink of an eye now.

So, why am I writing about all of this now? Because I had an up and down kind of day...where the little problems (like bloody noses, taking three kids to the grocery store, and not being able to get a glue bottle open) were starting to become the story for today. But, I had to push that all aside and realize...I've got it pretty darn good.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Day 33 - Leftovers

Chris was always the main leftover eater. Thank goodness, because I'm not a big fan of them. Now, with him gone, my new duties include leftover eating (as well as toilet plunging, cat litter changing, and garbage taker-outer).

I'm going to further my tweaking of cooking around here so I'm not left with so much extra, unless it's something I like a day pizza, meatloaf, and, well I can't think of a third to round out this sentence. If I cook smarter I won't end up with the lunch I had today...

(Beef Stew by Risky Beads)

Left-over beef stew, left over couscous with chicken, 1/2 can of fruit cocktail, 3 buffalo wing style pizza rolls with blue cheese dressing, a 1/2 of a fish stick with ketchup on it, and a cinnamon muffin left over from breakfast.

In the meantime, I should get some cooking inspiration from the names RiskyBeads has given her jewelry.
I think I need a nap now...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 32 - Nothing

We did nothing today. Officially nothing. Zip! The kids were in their pj's until about 2. I only left the house to retrieve the garbage can and the mail. I caught up on some much needed computer time after being deprived all weekend. It was wonderfully lazy.

Really, the most exciting thing that happened was my unsuccessful attempt to unplug a toilet. Hubby's do have their area of expertise. Put "call the plumber" on the to-do list for tomorrow.

In other news, I'm finally convinced that Elise will end up with blue eyes. I love blue clothing on girls...and this new outfit really makes her eye color pop.

She is really starting to "talk" a lot which is so sweet. She is really on the go too...she's starting to scooch and travel. Time to clear out the legos and other scary stuff. I'm not ready! Where did the last 6 months go?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Days 28-31 - Illinois

I took a trip this weekend to visit my in-laws in Illinois. Even though I had a real nice time while my mom, the kids, and I visited, it was bittersweet being without Chris. In fact, missing him was more intense when surrounded by all of these places and memories.

Chris and I met while we were both living in Illinois. Even though I hated it while I lived there, I now find beauty in the flat rich soil of the prairie. (Chris taught me that.) On this trip I drove by the first place I ever saw Chris. Little did I know then how meeting him would change the trajectory of my life so drastically.

Another thing Illinois has going for it is that it's 2 weeks ahead of us back in Michigan spring-wise. It was great to see green grass and flowers. It's ironic that the threat of a snowstorm chased me back north a day earlier than planned.

Grandpa Larry showed Luke how to cast this weekend. They have a little pond out back where Luke practiced. I think it might be the only thing that can slow Luke down.

I had the chance to get together with some "old" friends from college. Our 6 kids had a great time playing together while we caught up. What a perfect day!