Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 117 - The Mall

I conquered the mall with the kids today. It could have been a disaster. (I pretty much expected it to be one.) But, we pulled through and got it done.

We ate lunch at Panera Bread, shopped at 4 stores, rode on the merry-go-round, and played at the foam-type play area.

Everyone got a big gumball for being good. Check that off the list of rainy day things to do.

Ok sunshine, you can come back now!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 116 - Cloudy and Crabby

It's been a while since I've let out a self-pity sigh on here...(for your sake, I hope it's been a while).

It's cloudy, I'm exhausted, and I'm getting crabbier by the minute. I'm really looking forward to bedtime - for the kids and myself.

Although today was not a bad day, the routine is just plain wearing on me. I really, really want a break.

This is stemming from my envy of Chris getting a day off here, a 48 hour break there. He deserves it. He works hard. He probably works harder on his days off than I do on any normal day. But, I'd love to hear the words..."go home" or "take the day off".

Then I hear..."we went out for sushi" or "I had a big steak tonight", etc. while I'm cooking Ramen noodles and super pretzels for dinner. Again...I am trying not to be jealous...but I'd kill to go out to eat right now, and have someone else do the dishes. Heaven.

Life is hard for both of us. That darn grass is always greener, isn't it?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 116 - Strawberry Jam

Once there was a mom who wanted to make strawberry jam.

She took her kids to the strawberry field to pick strawberries. "Who will help me pick strawberries for the jam?" the mom asked.
"Not so much." said Luke.
"I don't want to." said Maria.
"Whaaaaa" said Elise.
"Then I will pick the strawberries." said the mom.

The strawberries needed to have their stems cut off. "Who will help me cut the strawberries?" the mom asked.
"Not so much, I have a song to write so I can be famous" said Luke.
"I don't want to." said Maria.
"Whaaaaa." said Elise.

Then the strawberries needed to be mashed. "Who will help me mash the strawberries?" the mom asked.
"I need a sponsor for my tour." said Luke.
"I want to decorate my strawberry." said Maria as she took out her markers.
"Whaaaaa." said Elise.

The pectin and sugar needed to be mixed with the strawberries. "Who will help me mix the strawberries?" the mom asked.
"My tour can be sponsored by Pampers and the 4th of July. Maria you can play the tambourine." said Luke.
"OK, I like playing the tambourine." said Maria.
"Whaaaaa." said Elise.

The jam was ready to eat. "Who will help me eat this yummy jam we made?" asked the mom.
"I will." said Luke.
"I will." said Maria.
"Whaaaa." said Elise.

"I love the strawberry jam" said Maria.
"I love you Maria." said the mom.
"I love you too." said Maria.
"I always love you too." said Luke.

The End.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 115 - Strawberry Fields

Today I braved the strawberry patch with the kids. It was a scene from the beginning...no one wanted to be there except me. But nothing says summer like fresh picked strawberries. So everyone, and I mean everyone, suffered through it.

I'll skip all of the fun details of each child's unwillingness to pick, or the baby's constant fussing to get out of her stroller.

But we somehow managed to pick 5 1/2 pounds ($6 worth!).

After dinner, I made strawberry shortcake. I love making the "real" shortcake out of Jiffy Mix. I'm not a big fan of the angel food cake type.

2 cups Jiffy Mix
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbs. melted shortening
3 Tbs. sugar

Roll it out to 1/2 thick. Cut out circles. (I used a drinking glass.) Bake for 8-10 minutes at 450 degrees.

After they bake, you pile on the strawberries and whipped cream. I think it is my favorite summertime dessert!

Come back tomorrow to see how the making of our freezer jam goes!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 114 - More motivation

Yesterday I had a fellow gym member tell me that "I can't" lose those last 10 pounds. Then I went to try on swimsuits, an ugly experience. Game on.

Today I bought a Virgin Health Miles GoZone Pedometer. I'll be wearing it all the time and it will count my steps, miles, and calories burned. Then I plug the thing into my computer, upload the data, and I can earn gift certificates to...the gym.

So, swimsuit makers and negative gym members...I will prove you wrong.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 113 - Swimsuits

I used my last two hours of "free time" of the summer doing my least favorite thing...shopping for a new swimsuit.

I attempted this once already this season with no luck. Today's expectations for success were low since I figured the racks were full of picked over size 2's, size 16's, or really, really ugly mismatched pieces.

Somehow after trying on a dozen things I ended up with 2 tops. I guess the bottoms from years past will have to do. I stopped while I was ahead.

With about an hour left of free time, and the swimsuit job checked off the to-do list, I shopped like there was no tomorrow. Knowing that the baby was not going to last long, I started throwing stuff in my cart...I ended up with a towel rack, new running shoes, a rug, 2 skirts for Maria, a dress, and about 4 shirts, maybe more...I don't really remember - it was all a blur....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 112 - Water Day

Today was another hot day here. It seemed to jump from 60 degree weather to 90 degree weather overnight. I'm not prepared. I need some new shorts and a new swimsuit. I need that swimsuit soon so I can hop on that huge water slide I bought yesterday.

Speaking of the water slide, the kids slid on that thing for 3 hours today. Up, down, up, down for 3 hours. It's been so worth every penny so far!

That 3 hours of water sliding happened after 2 hours of water fun at their adventure camp today. It was beach day there today...kiddie pool, slip and slide, and water guns.

Right now, my kids are zoned out, extremely pruney, and very clean. I'm expecting an easy bedtime tonight.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 111 - Overboard

So yesterday's situation just gets better. I spent all of last night on-line trying to locate an instant gratification water slide. I couldn't afford to wait around for delivery. I wanted to use it right now! I found one in the 100 mile radius surrounding my home. I called, got it saved, and went to pick it up today. Whew!

I was now familiar with the general set-up, so it only took minutes to put it together. I turned on the blower and the same thing happened...too floppy on top.

Thankfully, I have a son who loves to touch and tinker with things that he shouldn't be bothering. (This came in handy just this once.) He was on the other side of the half blown up slide and closed off the exit air valve. Brilliant.

So now, we are the proud owners of 2 working water slides. Just in the nick of time! We'll use one for back-up when this thing gets worn down. The kids had a complete blast on it. I can't wait to get some of their friends over to share the fun!

The other thing that was great about today was having a few minutes to pop into a scrapbooking store in the same city as the water slide. (I should call it a paper store since I've never made a scrapbook in my life.) They had a room with racks of paper that were 50% off...heaven on earth. I quickly purchased a big stack to add to my other mounds of paper waiting for me at home. Someday, I'll have time to craft again...and when I do I'll be ready.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 110 - Just Have to Laugh

Today is not my day.

I treasure my free time. I even pay for it. For instance, this week I signed my kids up for a camp that is 2 hours long each day for 4 days. 8 hours of near peace (I still have the baby) for $110.

Today I decided to use my 2 hours to buy water stuff since this week is going to be hot.

My first stop was Aldi, an unfamiliar store to me, to purchase a $200 Banzai waterslide. I quickly mastered how to scooch a baby stroller and a 50 pound box to the checkout. However, when the checkout gal said cash or debit, I got thrown off and had to make a detour to an ATM. No problem, I got the money, went back and bought it and hauled the thing to the car. I couldn't wait to get home and set it up.

My next stop was Target. They had a kiddie pool in their ad for $15 - 1/2 off the regular price. I was not surprised to find that section of the shelf empty. I asked if I could get a raincheck, and of course I couldn't because it's a sesonal item. No problem. I can live without the pool...I've got a cool waterslide. I checked out my other items and that's when I noticed a man (a man who I saw walk in with his kids after I'd been shopping for a while) holding the very pool I wanted. I asked him where he got it and he said he got the last one. Hmph. Oh well.

So, I picked up the kids, put the baby down for her nap (another precious time of the day) and decided to set up the waterslide. It took about an hour and in 90 degree weather was not a fun project...but the pay off was going to be great. Everything was ready to go. I flipped the switch to blow it up and it looked a little floppy. Really floppy. Not safe floppy.


I spent 20 minutes on the phone with a customer service representative who needs me to fax this, cut off this, send it here, and wait for their replacements to come in since they are back ordered. I tried to rig it with some string, but it wouldn't support the kids, so I pulled the plug.

So, at this moment...I'm $200 down, wasted all of my free time, no pool, no hope for a quick replacement on a water slide, and I'm hot. It's just not been my day.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 109 - Father's Day

It's just another day around here today. I'm sure we'll be thinking a lot more about Chris today since it's Father's Day. We are so blessed to have him in our lives no matter how far apart we are.

We had a fun time picking out cards to send him. The one Luke picked out could not be more appropriate since he is the #1 toilet plugger-upper around here. Luke can plug up two toilets with one load of crap. He has talent.

As for you Dad, a good card is coming. Better late than never, right? Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 108 - Slacker

For this garage sale, it paid to be a slacker. With the combination of bad weather and a slight mix-up with the newspaper ad, we did not see a lot of action the last few days. So for once, my procrastination paid off!!

We set up Wednesday, sold on Thursday, Friday, and a little this morning before breaking it all down. I spent an hour making signs and another hour putting them up and taking them down around our area.

I have 4 bins of stuff for "try again next year", 2 boxes for charity, and a really clean garage.

I made about $150 and have a trashed house from all of the commotion.

I'm not sure why, but I'll probably do it all over again next year.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 107 - The Gym

Now that school is out, the gym is my only kid-free break during my days. The gym has a great area for kids there, and thankfully, mine love to go there.

In my quest to get rid of these last *cough* 20 pregnancy pounds, I've doubled my workout routine. And if that is not enough, I'm willing to triple it.

While I was pregnant with Elise last summer, I worked out twice a week in a class called "Boot Camp". I revelled in the fact that I could still run faster then the other ladies while being 8 months pregnant. I guess I'm a little competitive. I also walked a couple of miles 3-4 times a week.

I thought the pounds would come flying off since I had worked out so hard all that time. My 37 year old body had other plans.

So, I started with a personal trainer once a week and continued doing Boot Camp once a week and then running whenever I had the chance. The weight still held fast.

I stopped nursing...my next excuse why it wasn't coming off. Yeah, that didn't help much either.

So in a one last ditch attempt to avoid dieting I doubled my weekly workouts.

Tuesdays - Personal Trainer
Wednesdays - Cardio Tennis
Thursdays - Boot Camp
Fridays - Kickboxing
Saturday - Running or Group Power

Today is Friday and the body held up fine this week during all of that exercising. I had sore calves, and heard a pop in my arm during kickboxing, but otherwise felt pretty good. I'm really hoping that this will help...I really, really want to have my cake and eat it too.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 106 - Garage Sale

Today was the start of our annual garage sale. It's truly obscene the amount of stuff my sister and I are trying to get rid of. Pack rat syndrome must run in the family.

I always make no-bake cookies for the kids to sell. 50 cents for a hunk of sugary peanut butter chocolate goodness. They are our best seller. Plus, the kids are irresistible sales people.

Day 105 - Elise

Elise started to officially crawl today. Time to do some serious baby-proofing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 104 - Catherine Marissa

Yes Catherine...you get a blog entry about you. You gave me a wonderfully cool gift for some very humbling reasons, so you get some press.

Catherine has a great shop which I drool over all of the time. Check it out by clicking right here. She has some seriously beautiful jewelry. Please buy it and support a great gal!

I finally met her on Sunday at the market (we've been cyber friends for a while now, but had never met in person). She gave me this ring and a great note about how cool I am. ;)

It has a ribbon and the letter "C" for Chris. I think I'm going to love wearing this everyday!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 103 - Pie

Pie is way down at the bottom of the list of desserts I prefer. It's tied with ice cream. I'd much rather have any form of cookie, brownie, or cake as my dessert (or creme brulee - my all-time favorite).

But THIS pie is one amazing pie. It's made by The Elegant Farmer in Wisconsin. Thankfully, somewhere between where we live and where Chris' parents live there is a Dutch Farmer's Market that carries them. Whenever one of us makes the trip we try to snag one.

Chris' parents left today and they left me this much. I'm not sharing with anyone. I ate a few bites for my appetizer and will eat more (probably the rest) for dessert. This one was called "Summer Berry" and had apples, blueberries, and raspberries in it...along with LARD, yes, lard. Why do the bad things always taste SO good?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 102 - Etsy Day at FSAM

Today was a big day! I took my crafty stuff to the local artisan's market to sell. I did 16x my booth price so I was very pleased.

This was a special market day because of all my Etsy cyber-friends were there. It was great to meet them and see their creations in person. I think everyone was pleased with how they did. Every vendor booth was filled, and the crowd flooded the path. The only thing that could have made it better was if an ice cream truck would have shown up at about 2:00. Maybe next time.

Elise was my special helper today and she could not have been better. She took 2 naps and played in her pack and play. She was a great magnet for our booth!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 101 - Grandma & Grandpa

The in-laws came today to help out with the kids while I am at the market tomorrow. Maria has been excited for the past week counting the days until they got here. Both of them spent about a half-hour looking out the window looking for them to pull in the driveway.

When Mary Lou is here, I have the closest thing to a self-cleaning house. Things get magically put away before I can even blink. It's wonderful.

I'm off to continue the last minute crunch before the market tomorrow. I'm looking forward to a fun day and maybe make a few bucks while I'm at it!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 100 - Day 100

It's hard to believe that we are 25% done with this whole mess already. Things feel almost normal now. We are starting to get into the swing of not having school. Even though I slightly dreaded summer, I am realizing my life is much easier now without having to race to the bus stop, make lunches, worry about library books, etc.

Before Chris left I thought I'd never be able to leave the house with the 3 kids. We've conquered the grocery store, a road trip, and school carnivals.

But today, I surpassed my own expectations by taking them to our local carnival. (And I left it in a good mood, so that says something right there.)

The kids actually got their money's worth on this bungee jumping thing. I'm really surprised they wanted to do it!
Both of the kids wanted to ride the bumper cars. Maria was too small, and Luke was too short to drive. This kiddie ride was Maria's Plan B. She was fine with it.

Luke's second choice was between this ride and the fun house. I'm still not sure which one would have made be more nervous since he was by himself. Thankfully his car on this ride didn't spin at all. So neither of us ended up freaked out.

While sharing our elephant ear and lemon shake-ups, we ran into Brandie, our neighbor. Her soon to be 7th grader did not want to be seen with her, so she hung out with us for a while. Which meant I had a babysitter for Elise while I got to take a spin with Maria and Luke on the Tilt-a-Whirl. That is my all-time favorite ride (outside of Disneyworld).

So, here's to 300 more days of this. I think we'll make it. I might not feel this way tomorrow...but I'll take it for now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 99 - Wake Up Silly

This is the scene when I woke up this morning...

Luke and Maria had both crawled into bed without me realizing it. Our mattress doesn't move, plus I'm too exhausted to notice.

I'm starting a collection of photos of all the crazy ways Maria sleeps. She rarely sleeps the traditional way with her head on the pillow and her feet towards the bottom on the bed. Instead, she likes to try out new angles like this 180.

It got my day off to a giggle...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 98 - Ups and Downs

Today's Successes -

Going grocery shopping with 3 kids without incident.
Cooking a meal that all 3 of us were willing to eat.
Buying the 3D chalk that entertained my kids longer than I expected.
Finishing the goody bags for the craft show this weekend.
Making the friendship bread after taking care of it for a week. (Anyone want a starter?)

Today's Failures -

Not being able to fix the toilet and paying $75 for a plumber to plunge it.
Luke's behavior at the gym during his first speed school session.
Giving in to too much junk food at the grocery store.
Not being able to find the checkbook.
Forgetting to buy pudding for the friendship bread recipe.
Realizing I had no one to call when I had a huge breakdown today.

Today's Thank-Yous -

Thanks to Janine for watching the kids and being the look out for the plumber while I took a shower.
Thanks to Dirk for being my watchdog regarding over-priced plumbers and for mowing half of the yard today.
Thanks to Laura for the friendship bread starter.
Thanks to Steve for donating the pudding so I could make the bread.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 97 - Stress

I'm a little stressed. Cleaning lady comes tomorrow, so I have a house to clean before she gets here. Hopefully doing that will help me find my checkbook which I've lost twice over the past week.

I have a craft show on Sunday with nothing made for it. Maybe once the house is clean I'll get in the mood.

I have a garage sale in one week. Nothing to put in it except for a few things I've rounded up over the year, but not the major purge we need around here.

So, I'm turning the computer off now and going to search for motivation. I think I left it around here somewhere...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 96 - The Ride Home

This story was supposed to be a story about eating deep fried cookie dough at Joe's Gizzard City. But when I drove by, I chickened out...I really did not have it in me to haul 3 kids into a seedy looking joint when I could happily drive through a Burger King, and throw the bags back to them and keep driving...So that's what I did...not that that made the trip any easier...

Before we left...
Me - Make sure you all go to the bathroom.
Luke - I don't have to.
Maria - I just went - (but goes again anyways)

60 minutes later...
Maria - I have to go potty.
Me - There are no exits here...you'll have to hold it for about 10 minutes.

10 minutes later...
Me - Luke do you have to go potty too? I'm not stopping again. (famous last words)
Luke - No

30 minutes later...(LUNCH)
Me - Does anyone need to go potty here, or do we just drive through?
Maria - I'm fine.
Me - Luke, do you need to go?
Luke - No.
Me - That didn't sound too convincing.
Luke - NO!

5 minutes later...
Luke - I HAVE to go to the bathroom!!
Me - Are you frickin' kidding me Luke? I JUST asked you!!! Just eat your lunch (and I kept driving)

30 minutes later...
Luke - I have to go to the bathroom.
Me - OK...We can stop. (Pulls off to exit)
Luke - Oh, I can wait.
Me - (Turning car around)
Maria -I have to go potty.

20 minutes later...
Maria - I can't hold it! (We stop)

5 minutes later...(We are home)
Luke goes to the bathroom.

Elise meanwhile has wet/pooped/spitup in her car seat and is worthy of a serious wash down. I unpack the car and clean the carseat.

Aren't road trips fun?

See all of you grandma's and grandpa's...this is why I like it when you come to us.

Day 95 - Rewind

I took a trip back in time on Sunday and brought my unwilling kids with me. I haven't been to my hometown in 6 years and couldn't wait to see how everything had changed.

First stop was my home when I was 2-6. It is a gorgeous old farm house out in the country. I have so many memories there even though I was so young. John, the owner, (who knew me when I lived there) was there when we pulled in and was able to give us a tour. A lot had changed, but each room brought back snap shot after snap shot of my past - the corner where I sat on my Dad's lap learning my left from my right, the room where I dropped a big weight on my little toe, my bedroom (which is now a closet) where I gave myself a haircut, the porch where we would shuck corn, the dying ash tree which held my tire swing. Amazing to get to sneak a peek and relive those moments again.

Next stop was visiting my friend Laura and her children. Her husband is at boot camp right now so we are both in the same boat of being unlikely military wives. I'll bet neither of us thought we'd be experiencing this at our age... (right Laura?)

Then I took the kids to the house I lived at from 6-17. We just did a quick drive-by. I'd love to get in there someday.

By now, my kids have had enough of my memory lane so I took them to my elementary school so they could run around which satisfied us all. Recently the school had been seriously upgraded/remodeled. There was not a trace of the playground equipment that I played on...just this four square game painted on the "blacktop".

Last on the day's agenda was a get together at my friend, Amy's parent's house. New friends and old, husbands, and kids....lots of kids! We had yummy food, many laughs, and an all-around enjoyable visit!

I forgot to mention the cherry-on-top thing of the day...my kids "let" me listen to 1st wave on my XM radio all day. It plays all 80's alternative music - The Cure, Depeche Mode, U2 - all the stuff I listened to in high school. Perfect!

Day 94 - Mom's

It was a challenge, but I managed to pack for the 4 of us and get everything packed into the van for the road trip to Mom's. I was exhausted before I even backed out of the driveway yet I still had to conquer a 2 1/2 hour drive with a squealing baby and 2 kids who constantly talk (to me, not to each other.)

But we made it. And then I got to relax.

Mom's house is on about 100 acres of land where trees, privacy, and quiet are all in abundance.
Yes, this is an underground house. Kind of wild. Makes me scared of mid-western earthquakes though. Time to play with the camera:

Aren't those poppies gorgeous?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 93 - Last Day!

Today was Luke's last day of school. I'm looking forward to summer and dreading it at the same time. I think Luke feels the same way.

Here is Luke and his teacher today. She never seemed frustrated with him. She is a true saint.

Luke brought home a year's worth of work in his backpack today. This paper was the first one I turned to in his writing folder and it made me proud:

(My dad is going overseas to fight people that don't like our country.)

Not very many kindergartners have that sort of perspective at that age. Life is rough for Luke right now, but hopefully we can get though this next year with as much success as we saw this year.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day 92 - The Fixer

Today is the day I need to figure out what I'm going to give Luke's teacher and teaching assistant tomorrow since it is the last day of school. I'm still in denial about the school year ending, but that's another story...

About a month ago I bought flower baskets from a fundraiser and I've been doing a really sad job of keeping them lovely enough for giving. Here is what they looked like this morning:

These don't exactly measure up to what I feel I owe them for putting up with Luke all year.

I started to contemplate a Plan B - a gift certificate? a better looking pot of flowers from the grocery store? one of my soon-to-be-finished clipboards? wads of cash?

Even though they deserve all of the above I decided to head to the nursery to pick up a few little flowers to perk up the existing baskets. This is how they look now:

The other thing I fixed today was the snag I ran into with my little clipboards. I couldn't get the price tags off the back without the messiest residue, so I covered them the problem areas with this little tag:

This picture doesn't show it very well, but I used scraps of paper that match the front sides. Now all I have to do is put the ribbons on and I can check one more thing off my to-do list!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 91 - Hectic

What a day! It went something like this...up at 6, made waffles, did the dishes, folded and put away laundry, packed backpack, drove to bus stop, took shower, got Maria ready for a summer class, fed baby, took Maria to school, met friend to pick up a new dvd player, met another friend to pick up a supply order, dropped off recycling, got gas, went grocery shopping including taking back the empty cans & bottles, unloaded groceries, fed baby, picked up friend, picked up Maria, went out to lunch, toured 4 Parade homes, fed baby, talked to Luke's principal, called the doctor, picked up Luke from the bus stop, returned movies to the video store, cooked dinner, fed baby, and that's where I'm at right now at 6:00 p.m.

Who knows what else is in store tonight, but I'm seriously pooped.

What is funny about all of this is that the baby can just chill out and relax at any time...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day 90 - Progress?

I am starting to freak out because I'm doing a craft show in12 days. I have nothing done! Sometimes I work well under pressure, but I've had a lot of misplaced motivation lately.

Yesterday I started some clipboards. I've been making them for a few years now and I'm always learning from my mistakes with them. I stopped making the large ones because they take 2 pieces of paper and are harder to cut around the clip. I stopped buying them at Office Max because last year's batch had to be sanded after the Mod Podge raised the grain.

Late last year I found a new brand that is darker, smoother, and takes the Mod Podge easily, so I'm happy right? Well, then I found the problem with these - the price tag! The price tag is so sticky I can't get it off without taking off some of the back of the clipboards...So, I have to come up with a way to cover the flaw...maybe a cute little paper square on the back that I can put my initials on. I just need to remember not to stack them until I get that sticky part covered up...(another lesson learned.) It's always something!

Here is a preview. Hopefully tonight I can get the Mod Podge on so I'm one step closer to getting something accomplished for my show!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 89 - Sorry I'm Late

Not much is going on today. I've been alternating between Facebook and crafting all day. (I'm working on some new clipboards. My first craft show is less than 2 weeks away - AHhh!)

So, to keep me from being on here too long today, I'm posting this sweet little video that my friend Amy Sellers posted on her Facebook page. It's way cool - cooler than anything going on here today. So, enjoy!

Click here for the video.