Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shutterfly - Free Cards!

So... if you know me well enough to have exchanged addresses with me, then you know that your Christmas card will, most likely, arrive late. And often it will just be a snapshot I took myself (think last year's "kids in a snowstorm" snapshot). But this year is different. Only in that it's not a snapshot I took myself ... your card will still be late. My friend, Donna, a budding photographer, took our photos recently and I couldn't be happier.

And what makes me even happier is that I'm getting 50 free cards from Shutterfly. I've never tried Shutterfly for Christmas cards, but I am really impressed with their selection of Holiday Photo Cards.
Or, if you're not the photo card type (meaning you like a card that folds over, but still with your photo(s) on it), check out their Holiday Cards.

Here's a particularly good idea - Thank You Cards with the photo(s) of your choice on them! Have you bought nice thank you cards lately? These are about the same price as thank you cards from a stationery store. Only they could have your adorable kid's face on them.

You know what I loved about creating my photo card with Shutterfly? The fact that I could customize SO MUCH on the card, including the font! I needed to include our new address in South Carolina and was able to find a card that I loved that had room for our address!

I can't wait to get YOUR holiday card this year. If you sent a card to our Flower Mound address and it was returned, please send me an email (crissy dot lodmell at gmail dot com) ... apparently the post office only forwarded our mail for three months even though I requested the full one year.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Buttons

There's a story here. Did your mom or grandma have a container of buttons? 

 

We have one. Although it lacks character. It's a ziplock plastic dish with a lid. Dishwasher safe, recyclable, and stackable. My grandma's buttons were in some sort of clear jar that would be considered "antique" today. My buttons lack character, as well. They were a "lot" that I bought off ebay for about $10 a little over a year ago. They serve their purpose in our house, though.


This child got up this morning, made her bed, got dressed, then pulled out the buttons. There seems to be some sorting by color going on. Oh, I feel for her. What on EARTH is going to happen to all those buttons that don't fit neatly into the red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple cups?!? I'm sure she'll figure something out. I didn't give any feedback on this little project, except to confirm that she DID plan on picking all those buttons up when she was done, right?


What's this? Little piles of buttons. There seems to be a pattern here.

Apparently the whole goal was to COUNT the buttons. Kind of a round about way to get to where she was going, via the color sorting, and all, but hey, that's how she rolls. Piles of ten. So pretty, like a rainbow.


518, in case you were wondering.

And yes, she did clean up when she was finished. Without even being asked.

You Never Know

You never know who is going to be a blessing in your life. Today it was Luke. Luke works at the church where the kids play soccer and my kiddos are strangely taken with him. I mean, Charlotte is just almost obsessed with him. You will understand why later.

Tuesday and Thursday evening are spent at indoor soccer practice. With three playing soccer, we are lucky to just have practice two evenings per week and it's really not a hardship. It's kind of rough that Jack's practice is Thursdays from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., but it's a short season, so we deal.

The gym where the kids practice and play their games has a "rec room" of sorts, with foosball, air hockey, ping pong, and pool tables. There are couches and TVs and large round tables and chairs, where we often eat dinner between practices on Tuesdays. Luke is the guy you ask for the air hockey paddles, or a ping pong ball, or a foosball, should you want to play any of those games.

Tonight we ate Chicken Express at the church. I ordered a family pack, and I tried to be really conscious of the amount of food we were getting and not order too much. But, alas, there was way too much food. So, of course, we asked Luke to join us. After we shared our meal together, he played with the kids. Now, with John being gone, the kids are not getting a whole lot of "roughhousing" type play around our house. Luke played chase and tickle wars and all sorts of games. Then, Mitchell asked Luke to play ping pong with him. Well, the last ping pong ball had been smashed earlier that evening and Luke didn't have any more. So, he suggested that he and Mitchell should play with an imaginary ball. Here's the result. Note the happy dance at the end when Mitchell declares "My point!"



Thanks for the blessing, Luke! (And can you see why Charlotte adores him?)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Beginning of Our Homeschool Journey

I think I'm getting it all together for our first year of homeschooling. If you haven't been reading my blog lately (and why would you? I mean, before last week it had been almost a year!), we are full-time homeschoolers now. Which means that we are setting our own schedules and picking our own curricula. Also, I will be growing my hair down to my knees and will only be wearing denim jumpers from now on. And the kids will, most certainly, become very socially awkward. Because this is how it is with homeschoolers, no?


First of all, we're moving from Texas (where homeschoolers have it really good), to South Carolina (where homeschoolers don't have it quite as good). I'm not saying that it's going to be a hardship to homeschool there; just that there are some requirements that we have to meet. South Carolina, it seems, has made it a bit confusing (imagine that!) to get started homeschooling. Basically, there are three ways to homeschool in SC. The first has a list of requirements a mile long and, as far as I can tell, has the parent reporting to the school system and the child participating in state-mandated testing. The second option also has the child taking standardized tests and the family must be a member of the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools. The "third option", as it is commonly referred to, is to join another homeschool association of not less than 50 students whose requirements of members include:
    (a) a parent must hold at least a high school diploma or the equivalent general educational development (GED) certificate; 
    (b) the instructional year is at least one hundred eighty days; 
    (c) the curriculum includes, but is not limited to, the basic instructional areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies, and in grades seven through twelve, composition and literature; and 
    (d) educational records shall be maintained by the parent-teacher and include:
      (1) a plan book, diary, or other record indicating subjects taught and activities in which the student and parent-teacher engage; 
      (2) a portfolio of samples of the student's academic work; and 
      (3) a semiannual progress report including attendance records and individualized documentation of the student's academic progress in each of the basic instructional areas specified in item (c) above.
So, basically, with this option, the kids don't have to participate in standardized testing. Also, the local "third option" associations tend to be much cheaper (SCAIHS is $328-$448, depending on how many students you have in your family). Most local associations are $40-$75 per family, it seems. Fortunately for us, all the above requirements are not going to be a problem. I hate that we have to document 180 days, but I guarantee that if John does science with the kids on a Sunday afternoon, I will be documenting it as a day!

All that said, now I have to find a homeschool association and join it! So, writing this blog entry has prompted me to do some checking and that's a good thing. I don't want to be considered "truant" on our first day in SC! 


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So, why?

I have a feeling that a lot people who have read the last two posts are wondering, "So why the heck did you buy this big expensive house that you can't afford?" Fair question.

And the answer is, we could afford it at the time. John's salary had doubled over the course of just a few years. We were blessed with consistent bonuses from his job at Capital One, with which we paid for private school and our annual vacation to Vermont. We put our house on the market the summer before Mitchell was born (six years ago) and then took it off when I started having contractions before every showing (two months early!) because of the physical exertion required to get my toddler and my preschooler out the door and leave the house perfect for every showing. The following spring, we tried again. This time, we sold the house in six weeks and began the building process on the new house.

After we moved into the new house, Charlotte was born (nine months later, only 21 months younger than Mitchell) and then we had a 1st grader, a preschooler, a toddler and an infant. The first year with Charlotte was pretty easy. She was a great baby ... very easy-going and a great sleeper. As Jack was entering 2nd grade and Holly Grace was entering Kindergarten, Charlotte was just coming into "toddlerhood" and Mitchell was a full-on, tantrum-throwing preschooler. That fall, John had the opportunity to propose to his boss that they offer him a "package" and he would leave Capital One. He had been dreaming of leaving and being self-employed for a while and was able to "sell" Capital One on laying him off. He got a great package (almost a year of severance) and we were excited for him to pursue his dream of owning his own business and being his own boss.

In hindsight, again, we can see God's hand in our situation. I really benefited from having John at home and from his help with the kids. Especially when I needed to go somewhere/pick someone up/take someone to an activity during the afternoon. It was such a blessing to be able to leave Charlotte (and sometimes Mitchell) napping at home under John's care rather than waking them up to take them with me. The kids LOVED having Daddy at home and, for the most part, did really well understanding that if Daddy was in his office, he was working, and it was important to not disturb him. I would not trade the time we had him at home for anything.

Long story short (yes, I know, too late), the business did not work out and it became clear that John was going to need to get a [real] job [with benefits]. A job (at GMAC) came along, but the year and a half off, without significant income from the business, had definitely taken it's toll on our savings. The new job paid less than the job at Capital One and the bonus structure was pretty pitiful compared to what he made before. Don't get me wrong, we were thankful for the job, and certainly the benefits.

And that basically puts us back to last summer, where we had the conversation regarding school for the 2010-2011 school year.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Changes (Part the Second)

So, there we were, having decided to homeschool (sorta) our kids. For a while I was in denial, just hoping that our situation would change and we would just slide right back in to CDA like nothing had ever happened. And, even though John did get a promotion in January, it just wasn't going to put us where we would need to be, financially, to continue to have our kids in private school.

In March, I got a phone call from the Principal of the local private school from which I graduated. They were looking for a middle school math teacher for next year. Guess what?! I have a lifetime certification in Texas to teach math to K-8th grade and all subjects K-6. Now, I knew that I probably didn't want to go get a full time job if it meant spending all the money I made (and then some) to have my children at that school or if it meant putting my kids in public school. However, what an honor for my former teacher and now, friend, to call me and pursue me professionally! As a stay-at-home mom for 10+ years, it feels really nice for someone to see that you have value in a profession. The principal asked me to come in and just take a tour of the new facilities and chat with him. John encouraged me to go, if for nothing else than an ego boost. We scheduled it for a day when my little ones would be in preschool and my big kids would be at school.

Now, this was supposed to be an informal meeting. Luckily, I decided to dress up rather than down (meaning, I had heels and slacks on). Well, when I arrived I found out that our informal meeting had evolved into a full-on panel interview. Wow. I didn't see that coming. Fifteen years ago, fresh out of college, I would have completely panicked. But this ... it's an entirely different situation when you don't need or necessarily even want the job. The tables are turned and you almost get to interview the interviewer! Well, I ended up (after the interview) visiting with the President of the school, whom I also knew from my time there as a student. He offered to me a very generous swap - my four children at the school full-time in exchange for me teaching there full-time. Now, I did the math and that comes out to more than $45,000 in tuition and fees for my kiddos. Holy smokes, that's a lot of money. It would have been a sweet gig. If ... if, if, if. If I had received any confirmation at all that that was where God wanted my kids and me to be.

But the fact is, when faced with the prospect of a full-time job (and we all know that teaching is more than full-time, because you WILL bring work home with you, at least at first) and NOT getting to spend time with my precious children, I could not bear the thought! I did NOT want to turn them over to someone else for 7 hours a day, especially my little ones! I think God used that day to change my outlook from being skeptical to being thankful for where I am. Looking back, I'm sure he was just showing me all my options so that I would be that much more convinced that homeschooling was for us. Really, I would have no excuses - I could easily have put the kids in public school (free, obviously!) or private school (free, if I was willing to work), but this way, I actually had to "choose" homeschooling instead of feeling like it was my "last resort".

Right now, my kids are my mission field. Now, it becomes more clear to me why missionaries become missionaries and travel thousands of miles from home. It is not unlike homeschooling, in some ways. It is not something you do because it is your "last resort" (or at least not for us!) ... you do it because God puts the desire in your heart, sometimes without you even knowing it. For me, it's definitely not something I'm doing begrudgingly.

Which brings us back to John's job. Remember back in December when we thought we might be moving to Detroit? Well, at that same time, John's boss (with whom he also worked at Capital One) left GMAC and moved to South Carolina to take another job. Do you see where this is going? They talked informally for months about a possible role for John. And I do mean months. Sometimes, six weeks would go by and then they would meet for breakfast when he happened to be in Dallas. Oh, the frustration of the waiting for me! John is much more patient in this area than I am.

Finally, in June, we (John and I) traveled to Spartanburg, SC for John to go through the "formal interview" process. He was the only candidate for the job, and the job description had been written specifically for him, so I encouraged him to please not grow an extra head on the way to the interview and he would, most likely, be golden. We flew in on a Tuesday, looked around Greenville and Spartanburg, then he had a full day of interviews on Wednesday. While he interviewed, I drove around Spartanburg looking for preschools. That is a completely separate and funny post in itself. Remember, he interviewed on Wednesday. Everything went beautifully and he expected an offer by Friday. *cue crickets*

Apparently the powers that be were out of the office on Friday and the offer did not happen. Longest. Weekend. Of. My. Life.

By Monday, though, John had a written offer. After a little negotiating and eventually accepting the revised offer, John gave his notice at GMAC the next day. That was four weeks ago.

So here's the beauty. Realtor fees? Paid for. Closing costs? Paid for. FOUR MONTHS of temporary living while we are trying to sell our house? Paid for. Full-service move? Paid for. That's the beauty.

Here's the ugly. The house is on the market and I am having to be Stepford Wife! This house has to be perfect all the time. Oh, the horror. We put the house on the market two weeks ago. The first week we had something like SEVEN SHOWINGS. Nice! This week ... (what is up with those crickets?!? I would like to hear something else, like maybe my phone ringing with a showing on the other end!!!) the showings seem to have completely dried up. Not one single showing. Is it because God is only giving me what I can bear? And we did a week of homeschool this last week?

I am a complete wreck about the sale of this house. No matter when we sell it, we (the kids and I) are going to join John in SC on Aug. 22. We are still planning on homeschooling, but we got Charlotte into a preschool that starts on Aug. 23 and we don't really want her to start late. Besides the kids miss Daddy too, too much to wait much longer than that. He is coming home the first and third weekends in August, so that will be good, but single-parenthood is wearing on me for the time being.

My mind is swirling with questions. "What will we do if we don't sell it and the four months of temp housing runs out and we don't have the money to extend the corporate lease on the apartment itself and ...???" Every single day I have to remind myself that God did not order our steps for this ENTIRE LAST YEAR to bring us here and abandon us! One of my favorite verses that I memorized in middle school and still find myself quoting almost every day is Jeremiah 29:11:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Wow. One year (almost) has passed since my last post. Am I really that lame? I totally got sucked into Facebook and for a very long time, formed all my "newsworthy" thoughts into facebook-length posts. So. I'm sure many people think that my blog is "abandoned." Someone get the crash cart ... charge to 350 ... Clear!

Some very interesting things are going on here in the Lodmell household. Where should I begin?

Last summer, John and I struggled to find a way to afford Coram Deo Academy for our two oldest for the year. Jack and Holly had both been at CDA since Kindergarten and it was really working for us, so we definitely wanted to stay. (CDA is a university-model classical Christian school, meaning the kids go to school two days/week and we homeschooled two days/week, with the fifth day being for electives, should we choose to send them at an additional cost on Fridays. Classical refers to the type of education.) Anyway ... we managed to come up with the money for tuition for last year, but it was a stretch. John said as he was paying the tuition last July, "Crissy, I just don't know how we can do this again next year."

So, we started the school year just like we had started school for the past four years. New shoes, new haircuts. First day of school pictures.

It was a very busy fall. I was the "Popcorn Kernel" for Jack's Cub Scout pack and our boys (the entire pack, not my two boys alone) sold over $20K in popcorn. Which means that I had all that popcorn in my garage for a time. A lot of time and effort went into being Popcorn Kernel, and I found it very rewarding, but knew that it was just a one-year thing for me. I felt like God was calling me to pare down my commitments. I did not sign up to be room mom again. I did not help with Girl Scouts at the Service Unit level as I have done in the past. I did keep my position as Girl Scout troop leader, but that was really just about it. No cheerleader coach, either (for sure! Because that was a serious beating, even though it was Upward). The kids were still busy with Scouts (Jack and Holly), karate (Jack), dance (Holly), basketball (Jack) and academic work.

In October, I made an appointment with our school's director, Mrs. Campbell. I knew that re-enrollment time was rapidly approaching at CDA (Jan. 1 begins the re-enrollment period) and that, even though the tuition for the 2010-2011 school year wouldn't be due until July, we would have to make the financial commitment in January. And, let me say, CDA takes the financial commitment very seriously. And rightly so, as they are using our commitment for their budget and to hire teachers. So, I sat down with Mrs. Campbell and discussed our options. She encouraged me to substitute at the school last year and even apply to teach at CDA for the 2010-2011 school year or to consider CDA @home (more on that later). I quickly went online to check out the application and it's pretty intense! I got started on it, but just never felt like God was leading me to jump through the hoops necessary to complete it (letters of recommendation, resume, etc.). So it sat at the back of my mind all throughout the fall.

Meanwhile, times were tight here in our house. I had given up my housekeeper at the end of the summer and was trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to keep our house clean myself. It seemed like our house and our clutter kept getting bigger and bigger and the messes were almost insurmountable. Our house is over 4500 square feet. We love our house. We built it and made all sorts of changes and upgrades and it really worked for our family. At first. But as time went by, it became more and more of an albatross around my neck.

January rolled around and we had to make a decision on school for 2010-2011. We had several options. First, we could keep the kids at CDA in the "signature" (2-day/wk) program, enrolling by faith that God would provide tuition for the coming year, as He had done the previous year. This just didn't quite feel right to us. Second, we could put them in public school (nope). Third, we could homeschool full-time (eep!). Or fourth, we could enroll in CDA's @home program (aha!). This would still be at home full-time, but someone else would be in charge of the curriculum and of keeping me accountable. This sounded like the best option to us, although I was most definitely not super-excited about it. When my kids were little I often said that my greatest fear was that God would call me to homeschool my children, which I did NOT want to do.

Winter turned into spring, then back into winter again (remember the day we got 12+ inches of snow?), then back into spring. But let me back up. In December, John and I talked about how we thought a relocation could be the answer. He thought that with the change coming up in his job at GMAC, there was a good chance that we could relocate to the Detroit area and get out of our house. I was not really excited about Detroit, but hey, we could sure get a great deal on a house there! John thought the chances of making the relo happen were probably about 80%. By January, we were thinking maybe 50%. Then, things at work changed and it became clear that a relo was not a possibility (sadly?).

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who's In Charge Here, Anyway?

From the time our kids are about two years old, until they are about five, it seems, we spend a lot of time reinforcing who is (and who isn't) in charge.

When Jack was about three, we had been saying (a lot), "You are not in charge."

One day at the table, he said, "Grammy's in charge, and PawPaw's in charge, and Daddy's in charge, and Mommy's in charge. I ... am NOT in charge." We laughed and laughed and still say that to each other and to him.

So now Charlotte and Mitchell think that they are in charge all too often and we've taken to reinforcing with them that "You are not in charge".

The other day, Charlotte and John were sitting on the couch having some sort of serious discussion and he said to her, "You are not in charge." Without missing a beat, she fired right back, "You aw not in chodge, eedah." Oh dear, we still have some work to do. We had to hide our faces while we cracked up.

This morning, I went to turn on a show for her in my bedroom and we were laying on my bed "chatting". She started getting all bossy on me, so I reminded her, "You are not in charge." She quickly replied, "I not in chodge. I just tawkin'!"

What a mess.


Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of School


Nothing says "first day of school" like new shoes!


The obligatory full-length body shot.


Head shots only


I think this one is my favorite.



Walking into school. They met up with their friends Sam and Ben in the parking lot and left us (the parents) in their dust.

Really? Why did we walk them in? This is the one and only time I do it. The rest of the year, I just slow down in the circle drive and push them out.

P.S. Scrapbookers - imagine how CUTE these pages are going to be. I get to work with GREEN and PINK! My two favs! Although Jack may not look on it too kindly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

My life in bullets

It seems like I just can't make the time to sit down and write a blog entry lately. (Or, really, for a long time.) Every time I think I want to say something, I can only come up with a "facebook-status-like" line for it. I remember when I was in high school, one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Noto, always complimented my friend, Stephanie, because she was so concise. I gotta admit, it always made me a little bit jealous! Well, I think I'm getting there. Look out, Stephanie!!!

  • My mom is at the cabin this week. Alone. I'm a bit envious.
  • I've spent the week doing all the last-minute prep stuff for school. The kids start on Monday. Ordered the brown uniform shoes from Land's End. Ordered the Grammar workbooks and hardback textbook for Holly to the tune of $60. Ouch. Ventured out to multiple stores to buy white tennis shoes for the kids (Converse leather at Dick's - $24.99!)
  • Went to parent orientation yesterday for both kids. It's a long day, but I always come home excited to start the year. I really think Jack is going to thrive in fourth grade. He's reading some great literature this year, including The Witch of Blackbird Pond and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. We're going to breath a deep sigh of relief and hopefully have an easier year with Holly this year. It's funny - I should have sighed that sigh at the END of last school year, but I didn't. I was still all bunched up. Now I have, and it's nice.
  • I think parent orientation may be my favorite day of the whole school year. There's a group of us that have 4th graders and younger siblings and we all get together for lunch in between our orientations. We've been together since our oldest kids were in Kindergarten. It makes me happy. Wendy, LaNita and I were there yesterday. We were sad that Kerry could not join us, they've moved schools and she couldn't make it work.
  • I did NOT sign up to be room mom for either of the kids this year. When the teachers mentioned it, I got a couple of "nudges" and "looks", but I stayed strong. I promised John I would not do it again, since it just takes up too much time - time that I don't really have. (Time that I could be blogging!)
  • I went to Gymboree to get school socks for the kids. They did not have Mitchell's size out on the rack, so I asked if the salesperson could go to the back and check for more. She said she couldn't because there was no one else there to watch the floor. But she could call next door and see if there were two people working. If so, one of them could come over and she could go to the back. Now, let me just say, the store next door is Janie and Jack. Janie and Jack is a Gymboree Corporation store. So that makes sense. What doesn't make sense is that I WORK AT JANIE AND JACK!!! And she knew it! I'm still a little baffled by it.
  • John has been traveling this week. And I am thankful he has a job. That's all I'm going to say about that.
  • John's trip to Toronto next week got canceled! YAY!!!
  • The kids' last day of indoor soccer is Saturday. I'm kind of sad, because I really did enjoy watching them play. Holly Grace surprised us most of all. She has natural ability. (Thanks to John, because she most certainly did NOT get that from me.) All the kids have scored this season (Mitchell, Holly and Jack). We will be glad to get our Saturdays back, though. We've been committed to soccer from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every Saturday for six weeks, now.
  • I got popcorn ordered for our Cub Scout Pack. Come see us at WalMart on 407 the last weekend in August and the first weekend of September. We have $6500 worth of popcorn to get rid of!
That's all for now. I'm off to find a Sharpie and start labeling those school supplies.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Scrapbook Camp Update 6

Thursday 

Nani Dot, my grandmother, arrives at 9:15 bearing gifts! A Paula Deen cookbook for me and one for Christi! We are excited about our new cookbooks! There’s a recipe in it that I just happen to have the ingredients for, so I whip up a blueberry coffee cake right then and there. Nani Dot is thrilled. Also, I put some more chocolate chip oatmeal cookies in the oven because they are John’s favorite and he’ll be arriving home from his trip anytime. At this point I pat myself on the back. It’s really hard to reach your own back, but I am pretty flexible.

John arrives home, the cookies and coffee cake come out of the oven. And this is all before 11 a.m.! John eats a bit, changes clothes and heads to the office. Nani Dot gets ready to go and I decide to take a quick look at her computer. She shows me what’s going on, and she’s exactly right. IE has just quit working. Get a load of this: my grandmother pays her bills online. How awesome is that? Consequently, she is feeling a little lost with no internet and she is looking at two weeks without her computer. Bummer!!!

After she leaves, I start working on it in earnest. I am no computer whiz, especially when it comes to PCs, but I can sure google with the best of them. I google “internet explorer not working vista” and the first result is a blog that has a recommended fix. I try it. No good. I read in the comments about some of the other fixes that have worked for other people. And guess what? I get it to work. As soon as that computer has a working browser, I head over to mozilla.com and download Firefox for her. Ah, yes, much better.

I call her about 1 p.m. and tell her I think she’s all set – I’ve moved all her “favorites” over from IE to Firefox’s “bookmarks” and she’s thrilled. I offer to bring her computer over in the evening, but she’s so excited that she wants to come get it right now. Okey dokey! She arrives in fifteen minutes flat. And she says she’ll dogsit for us next week while John and I are both out of town because I fixed her computer. Yeah, baby. I’m wondering who got the better end of that deal and I’m thinking it’s not her. J Also, she says she’ll “dance at my wedding”, which I think is hilarious, because, even if I had another wedding, why would her dancing at it be any favor to me?

Christi and I have to run a few more errands in the afernoon. Pick up a few extra prints at Wolf, Target run, Belk’s and once more to Hobby Lobby. Then it’s to the scrapfreak’s house to pick up our orders. Fun!!!

We get home and I am seriously, frantically scrapbooking for just a few more hours before we have to pack up our stuff and head to Amarillo. We have a final Scrapbook Camp meal of Wingstop lemon pepper wings with their famous French fries and veggies. In true Lodmell fashion, we eat our wings in the media room. John and I really can’t imagine eating them anywhere else. We have Get Smart from Netflix and we watch that while we eat, and then while we fold laundry. It’s a really funny movie, even funnier if you watched Get Smart as a child.

We scrapbook a little bit more, then get busy packing up all our stuff. This is a huge task in itself. Christi will be taking her supplies with her to the cabin, where she will spend just one night, then head home with the boys and Cory, who is meeting us there. I am taking my supplies to the cabin to spend another week scrapbooking with my mom. We will have the added distraction of the kids … but no errands to run there!

Final page counts:

Christi: 25 completed pages! Amazing. And lots of supplies purchased for future pages.

Crissy: 20 competed pages and 54 page kits (power layouts) prepared for next week.

It’s been a great week!

BIG THANKS to Grammy and PawPaw who gave us the whole week. What a gift!!!

Scrapbook Camp Update 5

Wednesday

Wednesday morning we really sleep in. I’m talking about after 10 a.m. wake-up time. It’s so nice. And it’s just very rare that we get to sleep in that late without feeling guilty.

We think that maybe not leaving the house ALL DAY would be a great idea.

We get busy scrapping and watching the rest of the bonus materials from The Sound of Music.

Now, at this point, I should probably confess that I have not done a ton of actual scrapbooking. I’ve spent the week sorting photos, uploading photos, ordering photos, and shopping for scrapbooking supplies. And I’ve also been making page kits (also known as “power layouts” for your CM people out there).  So it doesn’t sound like I’ve accomplished a lot, but on Wednesday, I actually sat down and started putting photos on paper. Hooray! Remember, I have four children. And each of these children have their own [series of] albums. When I first started scrapbooking, I bought a Creative Memories Baby album for Jack. And I thought that I would fill up the baby pages and then stop. But then I couldn’t stop. And so then I thought I would take each kid’s album to age 5, or when they started elementary school, then stop. But that didn’t “take”, either. So here I am, with multiple albums for each child. And no end in sight!

We want to watch another movie, but not one with too much of a plot since we are trying not to get distracted from our “creating”. I pull up Netflix and find that we can watch Singin’ in the Rain online. Christi discovers that Good Mornin’, which her mom always used to sing to her in the mornings, was from Singin’ in the Rain. Later, we turn on Bedtime Stories for a little more entertainment.

We also discover scrapfreak.com. This is a website run by a super-nice lady in Highland Village. And guess what?!? You can place an order and then pick it up from her, thus saving on shipping costs! She has some really cute things (we love Cosmo Cricket) and so we place an order.

My grandma calls to see if I can take her computer to the mountains with me and have my brother work on it. It’s a PC running Vista (no wonder she’s having problems) and suddenly Internet Explorer won’t work anymore. Now, bear in mind that my grandmother is in her 80’s. I’m just proud that she knows what Internet Explorer is. She says that she will bring it over in the morning if that’s okay. Dangit. We’re going to have to get out of bed at a decent hour, because she gets her errands run before it gets too hot outside and her first stop is the pharmacy that opens at 9 a.m. I am the second stop on her list.

It’s another late night, but this time I set my alarm for 8:30 a.m.

Scrapbook Camp Update 4

Tuesday

We have a big day planned. Headed to the library to get the Sound of Music, to Dallas to the AAC to get our circus tickets (this is a great thing) and to do some shopping in Dallas.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Circus tickets, the good ones, are $30 each. That’s for lower level. The higher ones are $15 and $10 each. The kids each earned a FREE ticket to the circus. Now, you might be thinking, yeah, that’s probably the $10 nosebleed section tickets they earned, but no, they were the $30 tickets. There are more expensive tickets (“front row” and “VIP”), but free $30 tickets make us quite happy. The only caveat is, though, that you have to exchange your vouchers in person at the AAC box office. Which is not exactly convenient.

So, how exactly did the kids earn their tickets, you ask? SUMMER READING PROGRAM, I tell you. At the LIBRARY!!! And this is how easy it is: Read five books (or have your parents read them to you) and then have the library stamp your voucher. How easy is that? If you’re going to do it, though, you have to exchange those vouchers early. The good seats for the weekend shows were going quickly. However, we were able to get tickets for the Tuesday night show at (what would be) center court, about 1/3 of the way up on the lower level. $180 worth of tickets for the bargain price of $60 (one ticket for me and one for John!).

After the AAC, we go to the American Girl Store to get Charlotte’s Birthday present (a Bitty Baby). And this is where it gets a little cooky. We park in the parking garage and get out to walk in to the store. We get out and as we are walking away from the car, we realize that there is something underneath, right in front of the rear tire. It is a giant human turd. I don’t even know if I spelled that correctly, but that’s what it was. I can’t even believe it, it’s so disgusting. Really, I didn’t think that’s what it was because it was so large. It looked like that spray foam insulation stuff, but we're pretty sure that flies aren't that attracted to foam.

Another stop at the “Scrapbook Barn” and then we are on our way home. Oops, we are headed northbound on I-35 at 4:45 in the afternoon. Not the smartest move on my part. We divert onto 3040 and continue on what would be John’s commute if he were home. From the intersection of 3040 & 2499 we call and place an order for takeout from PeiWei. Oh, yes, this week just keeps getting better.  We make one last stop at Wolf Camera before picking up our food. And now, I’m going to let you in another little secret: $.06 photo prints. Here’s the deal: go to ritzpix.com and upload your photos. Be prepared. It takes FOREVER. You might want to start them uploading, then run a marathon, or you runners might want to go to bed and sleep, because when you finish the marathon, your photos will still be uploading. Anyway, don’t order your prints yet!!! Wait until the next Tuesday or Wednesday. Order 3.5” x 5” prints and they will only be $.06!!! What a screaming deal. Even when you can find them that cheap at York Photo, you still have to pay exorbitant shipping charges. The prints are small, but if you are scrapbooking with them, you’ll probably find that that’s okay, especially for the price. I almost ordered my prints through Shutterfly and picked them up at Target where I would have paid $40. Instead, I paid $15 at Wolf Camera. Yahoo!!!

We watched The Sound of Music and then watched a majority of the second disc's bonus materials. Wow, that Liesl (Charmian Carr) is still beautiful today. 

   

And don't even get me started on Captain von Trapp. 

So that’s Tuesday. I'm all about the great deals and handsome singing men. That's just how I roll.

Scrapbook Camp Update 3

Monday

We wake up late. I don’t even remember what time. It is sometime after 9 a.m. I have to work for a little while as soon as they receive the shipment of clothes for a floor set this evening. I’m just going to go in for a few hours and unpack, sort and hang the tiny childrens’ clothes I love so much. Christi’s twin sister is coming over for the day with her girls (who are 13 and 15) and one of their friends. I decide to mix up a batch of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

I get the call that the boxes “have arrived” so I get ready to head over to Janie & Jack. Right as I’m leaving, Carrie and the girls arrive. I hate to leave because I know they are going to have so much fun, but the boxes await.

I’m gone for about three hours. When I arrive home, the swimming is in full swing. The girls are having a great time. I have some lunch and visit with Carrie. She is an amazing cook and has brought some yummy treats for us.  We have a birthday cake for Carrie’s oldest daughter. She is fifteen today.

A tour of the garden is given and oh, so sweetly complimented. We pick tomatoes, okra and cucumbers and we melt. Wow, it’s hot. We head inside. The girls want to watch a movie or play Wii, so I set them up upstairs with Guitar Hero. I don’t know who likes Guitar Hero more, the girls or Christi and Carrie.

When the foodfest ends and Carrie and her girls have to leave, we get busy scrapping again. Then, because we are SPONTANEOUS, we decide to go to Hobby Lobby. It’s 7:25, and they close at 8:00, so we have to hurry. We’re there by 7:35 and have only ten minutes before the Hobby Lobby employees begin their nightly countdown to “Quittin’ Time”. It makes those last precious minutes of child-free shopping so stressful to have them pressuring us: “ATTENTION Hobby Lobby shoppers!!! The time is now 7:45 (or 7:50 or 7:55) and Hobby Lobby will be closing in 15 (or 10 or 5) minutes. Please make your final selections and take them to the front where a Hobby Lobby associate will assist you.”

Later, while we are scrapping, we listen to the entire Sound of Music soundtrack about three times. It makes us happy. We sing loudly. We decide we need to watch the movie, so I check and (because I am a genius) find that it is in at the Lewisville Public Library.

Again, we stay up far too late. We have big plans for tomorrow (including a stop at the library), but we might have to get a late start …

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Scrapbook Camp Update 2

Sunday

9:00
I roll out of bed bright and early. Christi is just coming downstairs. It's been years since either of us has slept in this late without feeling guilty. John is nowhere to be found. The lamp by my bed is still on.

9:05
We hear the media room door open. John comes downstairs looking sheepish (and still half asleep). Oops. He fell asleep on the couch in the media room watching "The Dark Knight".

10:30
My Aunt Debbie calls to say she dropping a breadmaker off at my house for my mom. I convince her to stop and chat, taking her on a tour of the garden. She is delightful and a wealth of information. She points out that I have basil growing among my cherry tomatoes (?!?). I should leave it there, apparently, because basil likes shade and the tomatoes are shading it. Incidentally, she is the one who told me I should put crushed up eggshells in the garden to keep the snakes out. It works.

12:00
Christi and I have finished an entire pitcher of iced tea. Every time we fill our glasses, we squeeze an orange wedge in it. YUM!

2:00
The scrapbooking, organizing, and photo uploading are in full swing.

5:00
I am freaking out a little bit because John has a flight to catch at 6:30 to Florida and he is not done packing. Wait, I forget who we are talking about.

5:05
He's done packing and I kiss him goodbye.

7:00
Christi and I decide to put a casserole she brought in the oven and go for a swim while it cooks. While we are in the pool, we decide to see a movie tonight. On the spur of the moment. JUST BECAUSE WE CAN! We will see "The Proposal" at 9:25.

9:15
We leave for the movie. We look cute.

9:20
We arrive at the movie theater. The parking gods are smiling on us because we are spontaneous! We park steps away from the theater - right in front.

9:21
The movie ticket gods are angry because the parking gods love us. We take out a loan for our movie tickets. Hi, I'm Crissy. I am a hundred years old and I think that movie tickets are overpriced.

9:22
We buy popcorn and a coke (to share because we are cheap ... also because we have very little money left after buying our tickets). The total comes to $11.50.

9:25
We walk into the theater. It's not full at all. We have great seats and the movie starts.

11:30
We leave the theater still laughing. The movie was Hi-Lar-Ious. We may see it again later in the week - it was that good.

11:45
You thought we were going to go to bed, didn't you? Nope, more scrapbooking...

Later
(Can't say how late - my mom's reading this!!!) We decide to call it a day.




Monday, June 29, 2009

Scrapbook Camp Update 1

Saturday

We all meet in Benjamin, Texas. Yes, it's the middle of nowhere. But it is almost perfectly equidistant from Amarillo (Grammy & PawPaw), Midland (Cory & Christi) and Flower Mound (John and me). The kids go nuts seeing each other, Charlotte almost darts out into traffic while we are unloading the cars (and loading them into Grammy & PawPaw's cars) and Cory and I die from the heat while installing carseats in Grammy's Land Cruiser. Literally. We are still laying in front of the courthouse in Benjamin dead.

It's 104 degrees.

1:30 p.m.
Christi and I start the drive to Dallas. There are no children in the car. It's really weird.

2:30 p.m.
We get to Olney and pull into Dairy Queen to grab a quick bite. Incidentally, they give us our Blizzards at the window, then have us pull around to wait for our food. You can imagine what we snack on while we wait for twenty minutes for our food.

2:50 p.m.
We receive our food. We are no longer hungry. Our Blizzards are mostly empty.

5:00 p.m.
We roll into Flower Mound. It's still 103 degrees. We need a few things from the store, so Christi suggests we "get it out of the way". We stop at Wal-Mart. I melt.

6:00 p.m.
We arrive at my house and unload Christi's things. She immediately wants to get started scrapbooking, so we get our stuff set up.

8:00 p.m.
We are living on the edge and just now decide to think about dinner. Can't do that with kids underfoot, for sure!!! We sit down to dinner with John (leftovers!). John starts a pickle-making project in the kitchen. Our nostrils are permanently damaged by the vinegar/dill odor.

Midnight
We head off to bed. John is upstairs watching a movie, so I leave a lamp on for him next to the bed.

Grandkids' Camp 2009

All my kids (and my brother's kids, too) are at my parents' cabin this week for Grandkids' Camp 2009. This is the first year that my parents have had all seven kids. I can only imagine how exhausted they are. Thank you, Grammy and PawPaw! They update their blog every night so that we can keep up with the happenings at GKC.

My sister-in-law, Christi, is here. We have spent every GKC together since 2001. It's the best time. Once she started scrapbooking, we decided to spend the 4-5 days working on our books. We have ALWAYS had at least one child with us and many years one or the other of us was pregnant. We decided to update my blog with our activities of the week so that Mom and Dad can see what we're doing this week. It's heaven. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Plague you didn't hear about

This one didn't make it into the book of Exodus.

Holly Grace has to do a project on Egypt at school. She chose to make a "model" of Egypt. Into a large, shallow tub, we poured a bag of play sand. Then, we made a small "Nile River" down the middle, lined it with aluminum foil, and formed a delta at the low end. Then, we put a bit of potting soil down either side of the river and sprinkled rye grass seed down the riverbanks. Every couple of days, we "flood" the river and the grass has grown to be several inches tall. Later Holly Grace will add some small models of pyramids, etc.

So, after we put "Egypt" together, we left it on the bar in the kitchen. Soon we discovered that the potting soil and seeds had been disturbed and there were new topographic details emerging in the desert.

Charlotte.

She had to have been the culprit. I quickly let John know that we were going to have to move Egypt to a safer place, as it had been hit by the 11th plague - the plague of Charlotte. We had a good laugh over it, and then moved it into our bath tub. Our tub surround is so wide that she can't reach in and mess with it. (This is also where the baby chick lived, safely, for 2 1/2 weeks before she moved to the farm where she now resides.)

Later that day, John was sitting with Charlotte, having a conversation. He asked her, "What kind of plague are you?" She promptly replied, "A PINK one!" and giggled proudly. So we began referring to her as "the Pink Plague."

Anxious to see if she would "perform" for me, I asked her a couple of days later, "What kind of plague are you?"

She thought for a moment, then looked from me to John and said, "CHICKENS!"

Who knew?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In the Garden

Lots of people have been asking what's in our garden. Well, in our actual "garden", until yesterday, NOTHING! John and I cleaned it out (it was so overgrown after some neglect last year, ahem) and got it ready, but ran out of time to put anything IN. Besides, I raked and shoveled so much I developed a blister that's taken two weeks to heal! I was so traumatized, I had to take some time off from gardening.

We actually have two other "dedicated beds" for the things we love so much that we need MORE than we have room for in the garden. One is an approximately 50 square foot asparagus bed. Start your asparagus now and in three years you'll thank me! This is the first year we've harvested our asparagus and it's gone gangbusters! We eat asparagus every couple of nights with dinner. It grows SO FAST.

Our other bed is a dedicated strawberry bed. We started out with three little strawberry plants in our garden three years ago. Those multiplied and became 21 that year, then more than 50 after that! They are now in a 25 square foot bed on the south side of the house and, after a little trauma from transplanting them, recovering nicely. I walked by the other day and there were two little strawberries getting nice and ripe. I didn't share them. They were SWEET!

So, back to the actual "garden". Yesterday we put in 16 tomato plants - some Better Boys, some Early Girls, some cherry tomatoes, and something else (can't remember just now) and some "unknown" variety that my aunt dropped off (extras they couldn't plant in their HUGE garden). We also planted four bell pepper plants and two jalapeno plants. Those (the jalapenos) are solely for others, as I don't care for them. Leave a comment if you want some and I will save them for you when they start producing.

My "jack-of-all-trades" husband put a drip system in our garden last year, and it's sooooo very nice. Now if we could just keep the critters out. And I don't mean the kids. I mean, I do, but also the kind of critters that live down in the creek and come up to munch when we're not around.

Also, my uncle gave us some blackberry shoots when we were out at his farm last spring. We planted them on the fence behind our garden. One is doing GREAT and is blooming right now. The other, well, it kinda got mowed over sometime last summer because it wasn't well-marked. But, it seems to have recovered and is thriving! We probably won't get any fruit from it this summer, but next year we should! Also, plant #1 has sent up a shoot nearby, so we'll dig it up and put it on the fence as well.

There are lots of little seedlings in our garden right now. They look like they are either watermelons, cucumbers, yellow squash, or zucchini. That's what we had out there last year that may have re-seeded itself (which in itself seems miraculous to me). I tried to leave as many of them as I could and we'll see what we end up with!

I love gardening this time of year. It's so pleasant outside. Ask me again in July ... maybe not so much at that point. I hate going out there so much that our okra ends up 6-8 inches long and much too tough to eat by the time I go out to check on it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

And now, breaking the almost six-month silence ...

It was the Baby Jogger City Mini, or BJCM in stroller circles. There I've said it. It's overwith. And I am so glad because this post has had me stumped for this long. Here's the rub: She's ridden in it, like, twice. She's now "too big" for the stroller. She doesn't even call it her "Slow-der" anymore. And yet I can't get rid of it because what if?

What if we go to the State Fair and need a stroller because we stay all day and she's exhausted and almost thirty pounds and my arms can't take it anymore?

What if we go on vacation? Through an airport? And I don't want to lose her?

What if we go shopping? Oh, wait. *laughs maniacally* Like that's going to happen. That's what preschool days are for. And grocery carts. Wait a second. This might explain why just about everything in my house recently has been purchased at "The Wal-Marts".

Now, back to our regularly scheduled (or randomly posted) programming. Whew. It feels good to get that off my chest.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Sordid Affair, part II

The saga continues...

So, I hated the tandem double. It was really massive and HEAVY!!! It was really hard to get in and out of the car and steering was a beating. But I'd gotten the stroller I wanted, so I had to suck it up and use it without complaining.

Then came Mitchell, baby #3. By the time he was born, Holly Grace was pretty much out of the stroller so I didn't need another double. I convinced John that we needed a new single stroller. I used re
straint, though, and bought this one. It was not an expensive stroller, but I loved it because I could just set my (new!) infant carrier right in it. Strangely enough, my infant carrier was a Baby Trend Latch-Loc. It was fabulous!!! I was so excited that my new infant carrier would work on my old [Baby Trend] Snap & Go ... but then I discovered the strangest thing: it didn't. How weird is that? I had a Baby Trend infant carrier and a Baby Trend stroller - and they didn't go together. I was irritated, but I decided I'd just have to get over it and get a new stroller! So we got this Graco Metrolite instead. Big basket! Two cupholders! Snack tray! Adjustable handle! Stands when folded! It has been a great stroller and served us well. But, I've moved on. I'm getting ready to post it on CraigList. Farewell, good stroller!

Then, Baby Charlotte was on her way and Mitchell would not even be two when she arrived. I needed a double stroller again. Arghhhh. I seriously considered this Phil & Ted's E3, but it wouldn't work with an infant carrier and toddler. Plus, it was HEAVY. Especially compared to the Metrolite. It was a single-to-double convertible stroller. I actually went to Right Start, picked it up, shook my head (too heavy!), then put it back down and left. 

I searched and searched and finally came up with this! A side-by-side (SBS) that would accommodate an infant carrier on one side. This is a Combi Twin Savvy EX. Three cupholders, fits through any standard doorway. But wow, it sure was plasticky. I mean really plasticky. And it wiggled from side to side so easily. I wasn't crazy about it, but I didn't have a whole lot of choice because I certainly was not going to do a tandem again. We used it for six months until Charlotte was out of the infant carrier and then I went shopping again.

At this point, we were getting ready to go one our big vacation to Vermont and needed a stroller that could do some serious all-terrain strolling. Which brought be back to Phil & Ted's. Only at this point, they'd upgraded it and it was now called the "Sport". It was going to be perfect for us. I spent an outrageous amount of money on it, and it really was the best money I've ever spent on a stroller. The best thing about it was the removable toddler seat on the bottom. People always stopped and asked me about it and if the one on bottom (usually Charlotte) hated it there. Actually, she didn't. She did great. And I bought it as they were just coming out with new colors and got this great blue camo. This stroller went to Vermont with us twice and Disney World once. When we went to Disney, we didn't even have Charlotte with us, but we took the doubles seat so that Holly Grace could ride if she wanted. And she did want to ride sometimes, even at five years old. This stroller is so maneuverable, it's amazing. It's the combination of the three-wheel design and the swivel front wheel that make it so easy to push. Oh, and the air tires. The lovely air tires. They were wonderful! 

I just sold this stroller to my friend Kim and I was sad to part with it. But, she is going to Disney World in a few short weeks and is going to get some great use out of the stroller, toddler seat, raincover, pannier bags, packing tray, parent console and travel bag. 

When Kim contacted me about buying my P&T, the wheels started spinning and light bulbs came on all over the place. I was about to fund a brand-new single stroller of my choosing! It doesn't get any better than this! Would it be a Quinny Zapp? a Mia Moda Cielo Evolution? a Bugaboo Bee? a Mutsy Spider? 

To be continued...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Sordid Affair

I have a long history with Strollers. Yes, Strollers with a "capital S". I love them. I have since before I had babies. I can't help myself.

Hello, my name is Crissy and I'm a Strolleraholic.

Today I was prowling around on the net and I found a photo of my first stroller, the Chicco 2002. Then I thought about it and realized, no, it wasn't my first stroller. My first stroller was a Baby Trend Snap-N-Go. Oh, wait, nope that wasn't my first, either. Then I smiled and counted up how many strollers I've had over the years. The current count is eight. Eight strollers in almost nine years.

Here was my first stroller, an Emmaljunga Viking.

Actually, this isn't the actual stroller, but it looked a lot like this. And you could take the seat off the chassis and it had a bassinet that you could attach. Jack actually slept in that bassinet for the first eight weeks, or so. I bought the Viking before I was even pregnant. My neighbor was selling hers and approached me about buying it. I just knew I would feel like Mary Poppins if I could push that "old-fashioned perambulator" down the street. I wanted to have a baby just to have an excuse to take it for a spin.

I talked John into buying it, since we would use the bassinet portion in our room and the stroller would last well into the toddler years. Plus, I just didn't really like the look of the "travel system" back then. They were all cream or navy and there were lots of teddy bears and the like. Just not really my cup of tea.

When I did get pregnant, we made the pilgrimage to Babies'R'Us to register. Oh, to be shopping for the first baby again. We picked out the Evenflo "On My Way" infant carrier and John's grandmother generously bought it for us. I loved that infant carrier. It had a dark denim cover and the canopy was a really pretty dark blue and green plaid. That dang canopy never would stay up to block the sun, but that's another story. By the time we had Holly Grace, I just took the whole thing off. I remember that it was one of the only infant carriers at BRU that had a 5-point harness. Most of them just had a 3-point harness.

As luck would have it, while we were at BRU, we saw the Baby Trend Snap-n-Go Lite (I think it was the "Lite") and thought that it would be perfect for the short period of time the baby would be in the infant carrier. Ours looked way better than this one, though, because our carseat was navy blue and perfectly matched the Snap-n-Go. I always thought that white infant carrier with the blue Snap-n-Go looked tacky.
Very snobbish of me.

Well, we brought our precious bundle home from the hospital and five days later took him for a walk to the gazebo that was near our little four-plex. It overlooked the harbor in San Pedro and the weather was gorgeous. (It was December, you know, in LA.) My parents were with us and I was livin' the dream, pushing my baby in his Emmaljunga stroller.

Occasionally, we'd put him in that stroller, or "pram", and walk around the Base Housing area, which was really quite pretty, or we'd walk over to the "shopette", a little convenience store about 200 yards away, but the Snap-n-Go was what we kept in the car to use when we were out and about.

Well, he outgrew the infant carrier at four months. Back then, the height limit on infant carriers was only 26" (much smaller than today). And besides, he was a FAT little baby and I really couldn't carry that thing around much longer. So we moved up to the Britax Roundabout we had received as a shower gift from my coworkers and thus began the loading up of the Emmaljunga in the car. That lasted about a day before I declared I needed a real stroller for this kid.

Which is when we made another trip to BRU for this Chicco 2002:

Oh, I loved this stroller. I really wanted to get it, but it was about $160 on clearance at BRU, and I still felt like that was a lot to spend on a stroller (hah!). Really, though. I loved the colors, the seat was really cushy, the handles rotated 360 degrees (good for one-handed pushing). It had a five-point harness and a reclining seat. Strollers didn't really have cupholders then, so the lack of one wasn't really a hardship. Oh, and it was an umbrella fold and stood when folded. It was GREAT! I used and used it. Actually, my mom still has it at her house. I just couldn't bear to part with it. One of the best things about it was that we could sit our Britax Roundabout carseat in it, forward-facing, when we were going through the airport. And we traveled quite a bit when Jack was young. I never did understand why it was called the "2002", though. We bought it in 2000, and it was a 1999 model!

But then, little Holly Grace came along and it was time to upgrade (???) to a double stroller. I labored over this decision until after she was born. When she was two weeks old, I went to The Right Start in Plano and bought this monstrosity, the Baby Trend/Swan Caravan Lite:

Oh, how I came to hate this stroller. It seemed like such a good idea at the time because it could accomodate one infant carseat in the rear position, and Jack could ride as well. Plus, we'd had such a great experience with the Snap-N-Go. But it was so very, very heavy. Caravan Lite? Not so much. To lift it in and out of the car was just misery. I just didn't have many options, though. I wanted to get a Sit-N-Stand, but if you used it with an infant carrier, there was no place for the older child to sit or stand, which kind of defeats the purpose, right? So I dealt with it until I felt like Jack could just walk and I went back to my beloved Chicco for Holly Grace.

Also somewhere in there we acquired one of these. I believe that a friend of ours gave it to us when she made a $20 purchase at BRU and got it for free. That should say a bit about the quality. I have to say, however, we still have it and pull it out when the car is packed full and we still need a stroller (it fits between the seats, on the floor); we've also taken it through the airport when our nice big stroller is all packed away and checked through. It's a good stroller for going through security. Unfortunately, in order to steer it, you have to tilt it backward since the front wheels don't really roll very well. A disadvantage in a stroller, to be sure.

Well, that's only five, but the others will have to wait. To be continued...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Did They Eat It?

This week I decided I'm turning over a new leaf. Cooking EVERY night this week, for real. No running out for pizza at the last minute because I didn't have a plan. I'm serious.

Monday
Stopped in at Wal-Mart after I dropped the dog off at what Holly every-so-seriously calls "the broomer". Her mispronunciations could be a post of all their own. I picked up a few fresh items that will hopefully allow me to cook all week. I have about an hour and a half of "peace" in the afternoon, so I put together my mom's lasagna recipe. However, I have pork chops to cook Monday night, so I stick the completed lasagna in the outside fridge. Monday night we have grilled pork chops, salad and corn.

Jack - not crazy about them.
Holly Grace - Yes, please. And can I have Jack's leftovers, too?
Mitchell - uh, no thanks. But I would like some more salad dressing to dip my fingers in.
Charlotte - harrumph. I'll take some milk, though.

I'm really bummed - we ate pork chops a lot growing up and I loved them! We'll just have to keep trying.

Tuesday
Tacos. I've decided that one of the biggest deterrants to me actually cooking is having the meat out and thawed. We have lots of beef in the freezer from the side of beef we get every spring, but I'm just not good about bringing it in to thaw in a decent amount of time. So, this morning, I asked John to bring a package of beef in for tacos tonight. Everyone loves tacos, except Charlotte, who claims that they are "yucky" and proceeds to toss hers on the floor and ask for a "snack" instead.

Jack - 2 HARD SHELL tacos, let's be clear that they must be HARD SHELL.
Holly Grace - 2 SOFT tacos. Again, let's be clear that they must be SOFT tacos.
Mitchell - THREE! TACOS! I don't care - in any combination - I'm starving here. And after I'm done, can I have an extra hard taco shell to munch on?
Charlotte - "Yucky!" But now that you mention it, can I have a hard taco shell, too? Yum! It's like having chips for dinner!

Wednesday
Spaghetti? I have all the stuff and it's pretty quick if I use the canned sauce. Hmmmm. 

Yep, they ate it, and some of them (Holly Grace, I think) even requested sauce. Everyone, of course, loves Pepperidge Farm Garlic Bread, but only John and I ate the Caesar salad. Of course, I put some on everyone's plate, but they complained about that "yucky sauce" until I gave in and said, "Fine, you don't have to eat it. But nothing else to eat until BREAKFAST, capice?" Okay, I didn't really say, "capice". Heck, I don't even know how to spell it. But I thought it.

Thursday
Roast? Heading out to the freezer after finishing the post.

Friday
Lasagna. Ah, the beginning of the weekend and I've already made dinner!

Live Blogging - Couch Pillows

Why bother having them when you have four kids? Let's just see what happens with the couch pillows over the course of a day. Maybe it's not as bad as I think.

11:00 a.m.-2 on the couch, 3 on the floor. Pick them all up and place them, nicely, back on the couch.

11:32 a.m.-all four kids are still outside for their morning "break" (my shower). Cushions still in place; I'm thinking about lunch...

10:25 a.m.-everyone's in bed, and guess what? the couch pillows are STILL on the couch, nice and neat. And tomorrow everyone's at school, so maybe it's just my imagination. To be continued...

7:48 p.m.-ALL FIVE pillows on the floor. I'm not sure how it happened, 'cause they were all on the couch when I last checked at 6:00 p.m. I know this, because five of the six of us played a rousing game of Ring-Around-The-Rosies in the living room at that time. WHO IS THE CULPRIT??? I shall begin the interrogations as soon as they are all out of the shower.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The new thing that I love

It's called Click-and-Pull. It's at Sam's Club. It helps me avoid the vortex at Sam's that sucks you in holds you hostage and makes you pay a ransom of at least $200 to leave the store. Every Sunday, I log onto samsclub.com and "do" my grocery shopping. It's great. I take John's laptop upstairs and sit with him while he watches football. Good wife, on two counts. She is grocery shopping and she is also watching football. I click "place order" and go about my business. Monday morning, I drop the two big kids off at school at 8, then Mitchell at 9. Then I cruise right on over to Sam's, go through the exit (since I am a big fancy "Business" member and can shop earlier than the lowly PUBLIC). I pull my order out of a binder at the membership desk, take it to a cashier, and pay for it. Then a person brings my cold stuff out of the back and I pick up my basket of everything else by the pharmacy. Then we leave. Ten minutes, tops. The End.

Warning: you cannot add stuff to your Sam's Club shopping cart over a period of a couple of days. It will not save. It makes me sad, but this is how it is. I know from experience, so trust me. All of your "clicking" will be for naught if you try to keep "adding" to the cart over time. You will log in and the cart will be empty. And there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. And someone might rend their garments. It's very upsetting, is what I'm saying, so use a 20th century notepad and pen to make your list until you are ready to shop.

Chicken Cacciataco

A new recipe for you! Six ingredients! And you probably already have (or should have!) them in your pantry/freezer. A side note: every time I try to type "pantry", I inadvertently type "panty". What does this mean???

2 tsp. seasoned salt
4 chicken breasts
1/4 c. (or less!) oil
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1/4 c. water
1 16-oz. can tomatoes

Leave the chicken breasts whole, or, if you really want to live a little - cut it up into bite-sized chunks. (Did you know that chicken is easier to cut up when it is still just a little bit frozen? Yes, I have time to hover all day until my chicken reaches the perfect state for cubing.) Heat the oil in a skillet. Toss the chicken and seasoned salt in a bowl until the chicken is coated. Brown the chicken on all sides. Drain. (If you don't use the full 1/4 cup of oil, there won't be much to drain! What a concept!)

Add everything else to the skillet. Cover and simmer 40 minutes (or less, if you're pressed for time). Serve over spaghetti, rice or on tortillas. John likes it on tortillas, with cheese and taco fixin's. I like it tossed in a big pot of spaghetti. The kids like to eat the tortillas and spaghetti plain while I sob quietly over why they won't eat what I cook unless it's meatloaf

Monday, June 23, 2008

I check my blog ...

frequently to see if I've posted anything new, yet.

I can't wait to read this entry next time I open all my bookmarked blogs "in tabs". 

Did you think I'd fallen off the face of the earth? I did, into the world of volunteerism. Argh. 

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Disney World

We took the BEST trip to Disney World a couple of weeks ago! We were there for 11 days/10 nights and had an absolute blast. Here are our secrets:

We rented a condo at Mike Ditka's Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa. It was almost 2200 square feet and had four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a full kitchen, dining room, living room and laundry room. It was, in short, incredible. It was ONLY $129 per night. AMAZING. Especially when you consider that, on our last trip to Disney World (after which I swore I would never go again) we paid $99 per night for a "Disney Hotel" on property that was MAYBE 300 square feet (one room).

We bought a $30 crockpot when we got there and cooked most of our meals in the crockpot while we were in the park all day. What's that? Oh, you want the recipes? Of course. Yes, I will share those soon. :)

Each kid had a "pack" that they wore around their waist (I refuse to use the f-word ... as in "fanny-pack") (What f-word did you think I meant?) They carried their own snacks for the day, "Disney Dollars" that they had earned at home for their souvenirs, an i.d. card with their name, our names and our cell phone numbers, and pennies for pressing.

Mitchell didn't carry a pack - John carried his stuff for him. But, I wanted his name and our phone numbers on his person somewhere. I didn't want a place that was too obvious - like a nametag, yet I didn't want anything too hidden like a piece of paper in his shoe (who would look there at park security?). I finally came up with what I thought was the perfect solution. I went to PetSmart and bought a little round animal tag that said "Mitchell" and then listed John's cell number and my cell number. And then I bought the cutest little dog collar. Just kidding ... I attached it to his shoelaces ... it was noticeable if someone had found him, but not obvious to everyone walking down Main Street, USA.

We left Charlotte at home with my parents. It was really hard to say goodbye to her, especially because we knew that she didn't understand that we were leaving, and more importantly, that we were coming back. My mom told me when we got home that it seemed like she was a little depressed the first couple of days, but then she perked up and definitely began to "bask" in all the Grammy and PawPaw love she was getting. When we got back, she actually didn't want anything to do with me at the airport, though. She only wanted John (definitely a Daddy's Girl).

We took our Phil & Ted's stroller with the doubles kit so that Mitchell and Holly Grace could both ride if they wanted to. It was awesome. And a lot of moms pushing those tandem double stroller "limos" wanted to know where we got it after they saw the small footprint and maneuverability of it. It's camo blue, in case you were wondering. We also got the double rain cover, pannier bags, and packing tray to take with us, all three of which were invaluable.

Why did we stay so long? Well, consider this: an adult 4-day ticket to DisneyWorld (includes Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Disney's MGM Studios) costs $212. A 10-day ticket is only $13 more at $225. Yes, it's crazy, I know. So, we just figured we'd take our time in each of the parks and not try to "marathon" it by staying from opening until closing. We did not buy the "park hopper" option, but we did buy the Water Park Fun & More Option for an additional $50 per ticket. It allowed us ten (total) entries into the two Disney water parks (normally $39 per day), Disney Quest ($37) and Pleasure Island ($21.95). We went to the water parks three times and Disney Quest twice, so it was definitely worth it.

This year Disney's theme is "Year of a Million Dreams". Now I'm not really sure why they have to have a different theme each year. It seems to me that an appropriate theme that would always be fitting is "Disney - Where it's all about the movies and us cashing in on them". Anyway, on our first full day in Orlando, we went to the Magic Kingdom. Jack, Holly Grace and I rode Space Mountain (yes, she is too young to ride, but she is tall enough and she insisted that she wanted to and so we said, "okay" and yes, she was in tears at the end of it). Well, as we were getting off the ride (tears and all) there were these people at the "disembarking" area handing out free mouse ears as part of the "Year of a Million Dreams" celebration. Apparently, sometimes they just start handing out free "stuff" at random times in the park. So, I gave my mouse ears to Mitchell outside and all three kids then had a pair. So that was a great start to our day. Then, just a little while later, we were riding "Pooh" and there they were again - at the exit! Only this time, they were handing out "Dream Fastpasses". Basically, it was like a credit card on a lanyard. It had nine different break-off tabs for nine of the most popular attractions at the Magic Kingdom that were like Fastpasses (basically, you get to go to the front of the line when you use a fastpass. At least, you get to go in the Fastpass line, which is significantly shorter than the "standby" line). We actually saved most of those Fastpasses because the crowds were so light that day that we didn't need to use them. We did use them, however, when we went back to the Magic Kingdom another day and the lines were longer.

We spend three days at the Magic Kingdom, 1 1/2 days at Animal Kingdom, 1 day at Disney MGM, and one full day and two half days at Epcot. We worked in Water Parks and Disney Quest in the other half days. And the afternoon we arrived in Florida was spent at Cocoa Beach. Until Holly Grace got too much sand in the nether regions of her bathing suit and begged to leave so that she could take a bath. :)

Someday I'll get around to getting the photos off my camera and onto my computer. And then maybe I'll upload them and share. We'll see ...