Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas card plundering

Last weekend, Eric and I managed to get our Christmas card and letter pile ready to mail. It is no small task trying to find decent looking pictures of all 4 of us, not to mention the fact that our Christmas card list is lengthy. This year, with our big move and Eric's promotion, we also included a letter, which we don't normally do.

Got to take a deep breath and relax once they were in the mail. Ahh... another Christmas task checked off the list!

Over the last few days, we've gotten reports from some of Eric's relatives in Colorado that their envelopes arrived open and emptied. What?

At first I suspected that the envelopes just came unglued, but we've ordered our photo cards from Costco for the last 4 years or so and have never had a problem with the envelopes opening. And, the three cards we heard about were all from relatives that live within about 10-15 miles from each other. 

Our current theory is that someone at some point decided to open our Christmas cards hoping that they would find money. How sad is that? Thankfully it appears that after tearing through 3 of our cards, they got the picture that we weren't mailing anyone money. (Though, I did think that it would be nice for us if we could afford to put money into 175 Christmas envelopes!)

I felt bad because some of the people we send cards to, people who live in Colorado and hopefully weren't affected, are people we don't talk to regularly and probably won't hear from if the envelopes were opened and emptied. People like some of Eric's teachers he is still in contact with and who we like to update with pictures of the kids.  Hopefully those letters made it through unscathed. And hopefully there is no one out there who thinks my brain is COMPLETELY empty and that I mailed empty envelopes for Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cable Bridge Run 2009

This morning, Eric and I participated in the 2009 Cable Bridge Run 5K. We actually got pretty lucky with the weather. It was 40F and misting on and off. We have been told that last year it was 7F when they ran the race.

This was my first time participating in a 5K that was organized by someone other than Eric's school. He ran and I walked with the jogging stroller. It was an interesting experience. I was herded towards the back because of my bulky stroller (not that I would have run anyway), and ended up waiting for the start of the race with a girl carrying a Starbucks coffee, a couple of people with tiny dogs, and a mom who had a toddler on her shoulders and actually RAN that way over the bridge!

It's funny to participate in events like this with the jogging stroller. There are lots of women, usually older women who have raised children it seems, who encourage me and say things like, "Good for you!" Lots of people asked if the kids were twins, a few people offered me a ride back to my car afterwards (when Eric went to get our car and I was alone with the kids), and there were a few people who were spurred on by the goal of not finished behind the lady walking with a giant double jogging stroller!

I actually did pretty well and passed people most of the race. I am not a runner, but I am super competitive, so I kept setting my sights on the next group of runners/walkers and keeping motivation that way. My goal was to do the 3 miles in 45 minutes -- which is a pretty quick pace considering the two kids plus the stroller meant I was pushing about 80lbs. I ended up finishing in 44.20, so I'm really happy with that.

Next year, I hope I'll be able to run the 5K since running one (without any walking) is a goal I have for 2010. Either way, it was fun to do it and cool to walk the bridge with a herd of other runners and walkers. Hopefully this will become an annual event for the family.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When Good Netflix Luck Turns Bad

This week we had excellent Netflix luck! We had Inglourious Basterds at the top of our queue when it was released on DVD Tuesday. Normally a new release immediately turns into a "very long wait", meaning it will be a week or more until it's our turn to receive the movie. But this time we actually received the movie on the day it was released! Very exciting, especially since I was looking forward to seeing it and have been suffering through "eh" level movies the last few weeks.

Yesterday Eric was off from school because of a snow (ice) day, so while the kids were napping we decided to start our movie. It had trouble starting, but we assumed it was because it was a new Blu-Ray disc, so we updated our Blu-Ray settings online and started the movie.

We made it through the first 5-10 minutes of the movie when it froze. Midway through the first scene, just far enough in that Eric and I were starting to get engrossed. And then... nothing. Frozen. Turns out the disc had a little warp in it.

Disappointed, we reported the problem with the disc, which usually means they will send a new one the next day. But this morning Eric got an email that they couldn't send us a replacement and they didn't know when the movie would become available again. So now we've seen the first 5 minutes of the movie and want to see more, but can't. We may have to pull out the old Blockbuster card and shell out $5 to rent it!

Cursed Netflix!

Instead we spent last night watching Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. Entertaining enough, but not what I would call a high quality movie. We won't be seeing it at represented at the awards shows, except maybe the Kids Choice Awards or something.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yard Santa Therapy

We are in the middle of a freezing rain/ice storm - our first since moving to SE Washington. One downside to living in a low traffic neighborhood is that our streets have stayed slick even when the ice has started to break up a little in town.  The result - I've pretty much been stuck in the house with the kids for the past few days.

Yesterday our blow up santa couldn't blow up because he was weighed down with a thick layer of ice. I decided to get a little workout and return our santa to his "awake" form.

As the air started to try to blow him up, I did a little kickboxing workout on the half inflated santa. Some good kicking and punching broke up the ice enough that he was able to inflate.

I'm sure I looked a little psychotic to any neighbors that happened to see me out in the ice, kicking and flailing at a full sized blow up santa. But really all that matters is I succeeded in freeing the santa from his bonds of ice, and he was able to "wake up" and greet the kids again last night!

(It looks like I'll get to relive my kickboxing glory again tonight as we woke up to another day of ice today.)

Little Man with the blow up Santa on a warmer day

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Cookies

I haven't done much writing lately, but I have been busy baking Christmas cookies. I am actually more interested in the baking and decorating of cookies than I am the eating of cookies, so for the last few years I haven't done much baking. But this year our church did a cookie walk to raise money for missions, so it gave me an excuse to bake as much as I wanted! Yesterday, I hosted a Christmas cookie exchange for the mom's in L's preschool class. I'm hoping to make it an annual event. I ended up baking a second set of the Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies for the exchange. They look fancy, even though they aren't that difficult, and taste awesome!!

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies

Snow Covered Chocolate Balls

Shortbread Candy Canes (dipped in chocolate)

Christmas Salt Cookies

Peanut Butter Kisses

Sugar Cookies & Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Friday, December 11, 2009

"This year, Amanda's been... not doing very much."

Last night in our family Christmas letter, I saw a reflection of my life, at least for this "season". Eric has been working on the Christmas letter that we will send out with our photo Christmas card. We decided it would be one page and would include details about our move, since it was very "out of the blue" and some people may not even realize that we moved or that Eric has become a school principal. Then, on to a short paragraph about what each of us has been up to this year.


We got stuck on the "Amanda paragraph". Everyone else has exciting news or milestones to share. I had one sentence in the page long, single spaced letter. It said something like, "Amanda has been busy getting used to our new town and new house with the kids."

I had no idea my life was so exciting!

I felt really bad when I pointed it out to Eric - that really isn't very informative as much as it is generic information that could be said about any of us. So he asked me what he should write....

and I had no idea!

He ended up writing about my interest in clean eating, the Bible study I'm attending and some of the volunteering I'm doing at church and the school. Hopefully next year I'll have more fascinating contributions to our letter: running a 5K, doing a summer missions trip, and who knows what else!?!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

'Tis the season... for obsessively organizing!

Last year I had a minor nervous breakdown just after Christmas. Not an annual thing, surprisingly. But

two children of toy-receiving age + doting relatives and friends = lots of clutter - finding room for all the new toys and clothes

Did you see how I cleverly turned that into a math equation?

To be honest, I can't even remember what we did with all the toys last year, but I feel like we donated some of the older toys and handed down some things to friends. And even then, we stored some unopened toys in the garage to be reintroduced throughout the year. (One toy actually just made it's debut last month!)

I don't know if it is due to last year's angst or what, but this year the clutter and organizing anxiety has begun even before packages have started accumulating under the tree. Even before we HAVE a tree!

My current obsessive focus is the kitchen. Our new kitchen has lots of cabinet space. Much more than our old house. And we do actually have a pantry, which we didn't have before. But the problem is that while the pantry is spacious, it is akwardly shaped for food storage. The shelves are square, which means they are much deeper than a typical cabinet. They are the same depth as our refrigerator. Nice for cereal, oatmeal and dry staples storage. Not so nice for canned goods and all the little things that you would want to put in a pantry. So, it has been a struggle to keep it organized, and I'd love to come up with a system for utlizing this space better. (I've been half heartedly looking for lazy susans but everything I've seen is either way too small or just slightly too big.)

So disorganized feeling pantry has led to a smaller goal of organizing my dry staples so that I don't have bags of wheat flour, white flour, sugar, dry beans, grains, etc. thrown on to the shelf.

And now I have a secondary obsession - a distracting obsession from the first obsession: I can't stand our dirty and gross spice rack. (This actually started because of the clutter in the herb/spice/tea/hot chocolate/etc. section of our kitchen.) It isn't a bad spice rack, really, but it spins and there is something about how it is put together that makes it really difficult to clean it. And the spice bottle tops have a texture, which makes them hard to clean too, unless I want to empty 18 spice bottles into ??? and throw them in the dishwasher.  And I don't want to have a greasy and dusty spice rack sitting out on my cabinet for all the world (and myself) to see on a regular basis. Gross.

I'm taking my first step to tackle these issues, and Thank you, Cyber Monday, for your assistance! I did a little sale shopping online yesterday and have found the solution to at least part of my problem. I think step two will be to get some of those white wire shelves to divide the big cabinets up a little bit.

Anyway, my new kitchen "toys". Happy birthday to me, a few weeks early!

My dry staples will be so happy!

Spice rack-tastic!

Extra spice jars!

It's probably pretty obvious at this point, by my excitement, that I don't spend money on myself very often. I am really looking forward to having a well organized kitchen!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back to blogging to talk about... ground turkey!

I took a couple of weeks break from blogging because I truly had a half full brain and couldn't put two words together, much less accomplish all of the things I'd love to have done in that time.

But today, post Thanksgiving, I have found inspiration in Extra Lean Jennie-O Ground Turkey. Yes. In the words of Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail":  "I lead a small life. Valuable, but small." When your heart starts getting all a-flutter standing in the butcher section of the grocery store, that's pretty much the definition of "small" in terms of life, right?

Monday morning is grocery shopping day at our house. The kids and I head over to Yoke's Fresh Market, stop to get the kids their Kids Club "special treat", and do our shopping. By happy coincidence (I have shopped on Monday's since becoming a stay at home mom), Yoke's marks down some of their meat on Monday morning to make room for more stock. So I troll the meat section scanning for the orange "Manager's Special" stickers on random packages. Sometimes I even sift through the meat -- sometimes those stickers are hiding in there! Today as I walked past the turkey section, I saw a sea of orange stickers. I thought they were going to be "Extra Lean" stickers. I fall for that trick almost every week! But, no! This week the Jennie-O ground turkey is on sale, but there was also an entire layer of ground turkey marked "Manager's Special" for... $.99/package! I don't know if the regular price varies by store or town, but typically at Yoke's such a package would cost around $4. I even checked my Costco bulk ground turkey package and found that I paid $3.50 a package the last time I went there. $.99/package for EXTRA LEAN ground turkey!

I honestly considered taking every package I could find, but couldn't bring myself to do it. I bought three. But now I'm thinking I should drag the kids back there and buy even more! Talk about post-Thanksgiving sales! =)

Speaking of, have a happy "Internet Sales Monday" or whatever it's called! I'll be talking a little bit about that tomorrow!

I'm back to add that I did indeed pack the kids back into the car for a second Yoke's trip. I bought 5 more packages and the cashier commended me on my deal finding ability!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good Read Thursday: What is the What

Over the summer, I read what has become of my favorite books of all time: What is the What by Dave Eggers.

I admit, I picked up this book because I had heard of it before and it was on the sale rack at Barnes and Noble. Not necessarily a promising beginning, I have found myself reading some pretty horrible books via that method!

But, What is the What reawakened my interest in cultural differences and, specifically, the cultures of Africa.  I have felt a heart tug towards Africa in my life many times, and this was a reawakening.

What is the What is a fictionalized biography of Valentino Deng, a Sudanese boy whose village was destroyed during the civil war and who, without his family, became one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan.  He spent years (13?) wandering from the wilderness to refuge camps, threatened by animals and armed militia. He experienced countless challenges including witnessing the death of friends, injury and starvation. Finally, in his early 20's, Deng was sent as a refuge to the United States.

The book, narrated by Deng, flips back and forth between "present day" - where Deng has to navigate his new world as a stranger - and the experiences of his past. 

While I was reading the book, I had a few different people ask me about the title.  I don't want to give too much away, but the title refers to the Sudanese creation story and, in particular, one point where God offers the Sudanese people "the What".  Upon hearing the story, Deng and his friends naturally ask, "What is the What?" And part of this story is about different people's impressions of what "the What" really is.

The story is in turn heartbreaking, exhilarating, funny, informative and inspirational.  I didn't want to put it down. And it has led me to read further about the Lost Boys and about the history of Sudan, which I think was probably the point of Deng sharing his story. 

Thanksgiving traditions

Halloween and B's birthday have come and gone, and we're starting to see the fall colors of our new town. Not in our neighborhood because we don't have many big, beautiful trees here, but driving through town is a special treat this time of year!

Time to turn my attention to Thanksgiving. Always on to the next thing, right?

I have to admit I have a big failing when it comes to Thanksgiving... I am not a big fan of turkey. That is probably because I am not very good at cooking them. Or maybe because I don't like gravy. Turkey is just a little dry and boring, in my opinion. Now, cold turkey leftovers for sandwiches?? Sign me up! But, secretly I curse the giant slimy turkey and it's bag-o-guts. I'd take a ham any day. But then where would I get my turkey sandwich leftovers?

When we moved this summer, we left behind one of my favorite holiday traditions. Probably the one that is the "biggest deal", and something Eric and I have done every year since we lived in Oregon: cutting down our own Christmas tree with friends.

Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I had no idea you could do such a thing. Didn't everyone go to a Christmas tree lot and spend big bucks on a full, beautiful tree farm tree? Or maybe mom just had me help lug the box with the gigantic fake tree up from the basement?

Oh no. In Oregon, I discovered a whole new world of Christmas tree fun. Fun that was always the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Fun that only cost $5!

Saturday morning we would meet up with our friends to caravan out into the national forest to find our Christmas tree. It's Oregon, so of course there was the mandatory stop at the espresso stand for lattes or hot chocolate. Everyone bundled up in winter coats and snow pants, boots and hats and gloves. (This happened regardless of what the weather indicated was necessary - you never know what kind of weather you'd find in the foothills.) From Bend, the drive to the forest was only about 20 minutes - plenty of time to drink a peppermint latte and enjoy the beautiful fall scenery.

These Christmas tree hunting trips were not our idea. We joined in on the tradition of friends who had been going for years. The number of families always varied, but it wasn't unusual for 5-8 families to drive up together with their kids and dogs. 

When we found the perfect tree hunting spot, the kids would run around together, dogs would run free in the snow, moms would take pictures and corral kids and the dads would lead the hunt for the Christmas trees. We'd also collect boughs for the church's Christmas float.

Side story: The year I was pregnant with L, Eric took off on his own to find our Christmas tree and was gone for more than an hour. Every other family had cut down their tree, posed for pictures and loaded it on to their car, and there I was alone and hormonal wondering where he went. It is a story I am almost required to bring up every year when we cut down our tree. Is that wrong of me?

Anyway, after finding the perfect tree and cutting it down, we always took lots of pictures.

Family picture with our 2008 Christmas Tree

This year will be our first Thanksgiving as a family where we haven't been in Oregon. I really want to continue our tradition of going out as a family to cut down our Christmas tree. I've been doing some research and have found that the closest forest where tree cutting is permitted is about 70 miles away. So we have to decide if the tradition is worth that drive time. If we didn't have a 2 and 3 year old, I'd definitely say "Let's go for it!" But forcing the kids into a day long "adventure" makes me pause. Then again, this is the time for memory making, right?

I'm going to be looking for and trying to think of some other good family traditions for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I really would love for this time of year to be full of meaning and memories for our kids.  When I come across some good ideas, I'll post them here for others to see.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Aliens: Don't Go There, Movie Makers

I am a pretty big fan of movies. Eric and I watch movies a lot and there are very few movies I have seen that I really disliked. I'm not even limited by genre, though horror is not a favorite and I'm sure I don't enjoy action flicks as much as my husband does. But, my movie viewing habits do have one serious limitation.

I cannot stand seeing aliens in movies.

Honestly, this preference runs strong enough that it probably borders on strange. Let's put it this way: If I loved aliens as much as I hate seeing aliens in movies, I would be attending conventions in some kind of stretch body suit with fake ears and painted green or purple skin.

I have instituted a "No Aliens" movie rule which is this: I will watch a movie with an alien plot, but only if the alien goes unseen for the entirety of the movie. This means any kind of alien movie has to be pre-screened by Eric who then tells me (99% of the time) not to even bother.  Even movies where the alien doesn't show up until the end get ruined as soon as I actually see the visual interpretation of the alien. I would much rather leave that up to my own imagination. And it is always, inevitably ruined by the cooky, "man dressed in Alien-wear with a mask" from back in the day or, more recently "totally ridiculous computer generated scary Alien".

There is only one exception I can think of to my "No Aliens" movie rule, and that is E.T. But, E.T. has the benefit of being connected to childhood memories. Plus, who can say no to cute little E.T. hiding out in the closet of stuffed animals??

I am writing about this today because yesterday I saw Alien (1979) for the very first time. I thought that maybe I had actually found a movie that wasn't ruined for me by the actual appearance of the alien! I actually told Eric during the movie that I think my brain was responding to the Alien more as a "monster" (which I have no problem with) than as "alien". You know, it's all drooly with the extra sets of teeth, busting out of some guy's chest, shreiking and flailing around. Really, more of a horror movie than an alien movie. I made it all the way to within the closing minutes of the movie, impressed with how current the alien looks considering the movie is now 30 years old. And then what happens? I won't ruin it in case anyone reads this who hasn't seen the film. Let's just say the final confrontation occurs and all of the sudden there is a cut to a wide shot of...person dressed in dark clothes with an alien mask/helmet and extra fake limbs attached to his body. What a bummer.

All I could say to Eric was, "And now... the line has been crossed for me." I was done, but the movie was also over.

I can't think of another movie rule I have that is as 100% true for me as this one, or one that I feel so strongly about. Please, no alien related movies for Christmas! =)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Ode to "Teddy Man"

My son has a best friend. His name is "Teddy Man", usually shortened to "Man".  "Man" is his lovey.  I have no idea what the kind of toy is actually called. We always called it a "teddy bear head blanket". From that, my daughter named the blanket for us. 

Here is Little Man with his Teddy Man back in the summer of 2008.

Man is a little worse for wear now. But he is a loyal friend. He sleeps with my son every night and tags along anytime we are going someplace that might stress him out.  He is soft and lovable. Thankfully, my son will let me give Man "a bath". We have a front loading washer, so occasionally Man will get a "bath" and my son will stand in the laundry room watching Man go around and around and around.

We will be in big trouble if something ever happens to Man. I didn't realize until too late that my son was developing a "lovey" style attachment to him. By then, an emergency replacement Man couldn't be found.  My daughter never had a lovey, so I guess I was a little behind on that one!

Recently I learned something new about Man.  A few weeks ago when I got B out of his crib, he started talking about a wallet. I thought he meant my wallet, since he likes to get into my wallet and pull things out of it. "Where wallet go, Mama?"

A few days ago, I discovered that B was actually talking about Man's wallet! I didn't even realize Man had a wallet! I guess he probably does have lots of important things he would need to keep with him, right? So, after some questioning, I learned that Man's wallet is his tags! B will say, "Where wallet go, Mama?" and then find the tags and beam with pride as he shows me Man's wallet. Very cute.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good Read Thursday: The Art of Racing in the Rain

I have always enjoyed reading. At times in my life, a majority of the time, I have been a voracious reader. I sort of fell out of the habit a few years ago when our daughter was born, but I am back at it! When stress or anxiety or busy-ness start to build up in my half full brain, it is nice to read. I usually read fiction, but recently have been reading some fictionalized biographies and novels based on real events or people. I consider them sort of "half fiction". Occasionally I throw in a "summer read", but tend to avoid books I consider "ladies books" - they don't interest me.  Eric makes fun of me for reading Jodi Picoult, but her books aren't "ladies books". They often deal with very real social and moral questions, and I find the relationships interesting.

I realized the other day that I have been reading about a book a week, sometimes more. I thought I'd share my thoughts on some of the good reads here. And so, I'll start with...

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

I picked up The Art of Racing in the Rain at the library after failing to finish a recent disappointment. It was sitting at the front of a "current paperback" shelf. I admit, my first thought was, "That looks like Marley!" I enjoyed reading Marley and Me (back before it was a movie), so I picked it up to take a look. 

The story of life from a dog's perspective. Sounded intruiging enough for me. I like reading about people's lives, their motivations, etc. As I often do, I read the first couple of pages. Writing style is almost as important to me as the story line.

I was immediately drawn to Enzo, our narrator. Enzo is a dog, nearing the end of his life and reflecting back on the wonderful ride he has had with his owner and master.  The title relates to his owner's profession (semi-pro race car driver and driving instructor), but also becomes the primary metaphor for the book. The book is about how Enzo and his family make it through difficult times. 

For me, one of the most delightful parts of the book were Enzo's references to TV watching. He stays home while everyone else is at work or school and the TV is left on for him. So he references television shows and specials, tv personalities, as though they are always accurate and true. And the references are always very funny. In one situation, he talks about a court hearing and mentions that he wasn't allowed to attend because he is a dog, but he has a pretty good idea of what happened based on viewing LA Law and Law & Order.

My only complaint is with one of the plot twists that occurs about half way through the book. I won't give details in case anyone else wants to read it, but it challenged my "suspension of disbelief". Whether it is in a book or movie, I always lose a little interest when my mind consciously notices a theme of "anything that could go wrong, will". If you've seen "Meet the Parents", you know what I mean. But, the good thing is that this particular plot twist was tied up nicely and in a semi-believable fashion, so the author saves the story in the end.

By far, the star of this book is Enzo. Possibly one of the most loveable characters I have ever encountered in a book. He will make you want to own a dog, or, at the very least, consider leaving your TV on for the dog you already have!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Pictures - Past and Present

We have been taking a lot of pictures lately. Lots of little trips, fun fall events, out of town visitors, Little Man's 2nd birthday. Good memories. Everytime I load pictures from our camera on to our computer, I create a new dated folder. Since the folders are stored alphabetically, I get to look back at the dates of pictures from the same month last year or the year before, etc. I have really gotten a kick out of looking back at those pictures lately. B just turned 2 and L is 3.5 years old. A year makes for big changes at that age! It is really fun to look back and see not only what they looked like, but what they were doing and interested in at the same time in the previous years.

Here are some pictures from previous Novembers.

Early November 2009

Early November 2008

Early November 2007

Early November 2006 (Pre-"Little Man")

Early November 2005 (pregnant with my big girl!)

Early November 2004

Early November 2003

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Planning

I am a planner and occasionally find that, despite my planning - or maybe in spite of it! - things don't go the way I envision.  How frustrating, but also an excellent reminder that God has plans for me and our family and I don't need to sweat the details as much as I do.

A week or so ago, I wrote about feeling a little overwhelmed by Little Man's upcoming birthday, my dad's visit from out of town, and Halloween all happening pretty much at the same time. I organized and planned so that I wouldn't forget anything and things would go smoothly over that 4 day period.

Then, guess what happened?

My daughter (3 years old) suddenly came down with the flu. Thursday morning I had my normal, hyper and energetic daughter, and by Thursday afternoon she had a fever of 103F and looked like a zombie. And out the window went the plans! Halloween and my dad's visit (which also spanned Little Man's birthday) had to accomodate my sick child and doctor's orders that she not leave the house, not to mention taking steps to get her well and try to avoid everyone else getting sick!

And now the busy few days have passed, and we had a very nice time!, and I am reflecting back and feeling dumb for being so worried.

"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. -- Jeremiah 29:11

So here is a good reminder for today: don't spend energy worrying about how things will get done, or when! God has perfect timing and things will turn out exactly as HE plans, which may not be the way we think things should go, but is always a better way.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

End of October = Crazy time!

I am having a "bad mommy" moment today. I am finally admitting to myself that I have absolutely no idea what is going on with our family's schedule for the next few weeks. Whenever I think about it, my mind gets enveloped by a foggy haze. I hear the soft echo, "You have lots to do... you have lots to do..." I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around these things.

My dad is coming this weekend. It will be his first trip to our new home/town, so I want to be sure he gets a good feel for our new life here.

And it's Halloween. Kids costumes are pretty close to done, I just need to make B's firefighter pants. There are multiple Halloween events going on that I'd like to take the kids to.

Dad stuff... Halloween stuff... B's 2nd birthday is next Monday! It hasn't snuck up on me, but I feel woefully unprepared.

B doesn't really have any "friends" his age here - not the way L did when she turned 2 back in Oregon. It makes thinking about a party a little difficult. No toddlers he has shown a special interest in, and not a big fan of having lots of adults around. I think we are going to do cake with my dad, and then later next week cake with my mom and Aunt. I actually have a made a very general plan about the cake! B loves cars and trucks, so I am going to make him a car cupcake cake. Maybe get some balloons? It's uninspired and I feel like I need to do more, even though the sane part of my brain knows that he has no idea it is his birthday or that he is *supposed* to have a raucous kid party.

So, Dad's visit... Halloween... B's birthday...

I feel like the accomplishment is actually remembering all of these events to realize that I am only "doing them" about half way. Maybe next year I will feel more confident.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'd prefer sunshine and puppy dogs

What is up with reality shows showing people "almost die" on television? I am not a fan. Last night on Survivor, we had to watch Russell, blindfolded for a challenge, slowly slump down face first on to a big wooden maze board and then fall to the ground. Only, he didn't fall to the ground because his shirt caught on the handle of the maze, so instead he dangled, limp, blindfolded in mid-air. And then, of course, time passed before anyone actually noticed and helped him. No one noticed, but there is apparently plenty of up close footage. When my nausea finally passed from seeing this, he passes out again, only this time his eyes are OPEN and it really looks like he is dead. Thank you, CBS. [Apparently this incident was previewed on the commercial for this week's Survivor, but since I don't watch that much TV, I never saw it, so didn't know what was coming.]

Last night's Survivor wasn't the first time the viewing public was shown footage of a reality show contestant in the middle of a shocking, scary health crisis. On the first episode of this season's The Biggest Loser, crazy-eye face making Tracey (who still seemed normal at that point), collapsed at the end of a 1 mile run/walk along the beach. Similar thing. Started the mile looking fine, but by the end was gray with purple lips, muttering to herself and she clawed across the sand before passing out face first into the ground. Unresponsive, glassy eyed.

I understand the "shocking" nature of this footage and why it might be considered engrossing television. There is also part of my mind that tells me, "The person won't die. They wouldn't be showing this if the person actually died. I would have heard on the news weeks ago if someone had died on this show." But, still, I am not into it. I don't want to watch people passing out, looking near death, on tv. I have enough to stress out about.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Box of disorganization

I am one of those strange people that actually really enjoys doing mundane paperwork tasks. I actually enjoy filing and organizing, grading worksheets, stapling and hole punching. You wouldn't know it if you walked into our office today. (Or, any day, really!)

We have a crate in the office that I am going to lovingly refer to as the "red box of disorganization".  There the crate sits, right next to our large filing cabinet. Inside: an astounding combination of necessary, important and/or sentimental documents. No organization, no order.

The original purpose of the red crate was supposed to be that we put receipts, bills, paperwork we need to keep into the red crate and then on Tuesdays when I pay bills, I can also file that paperwork in the filing cabinet. Instead, I throw papers in there and forget them. Or I take something out of the filing cabinet when I need it and then, instead of putting it away when I'm done, I toss it into the crate. So now the crate is completely full of all kinds of things: greeting cards and letters, medication receipts, our dog's vet records, copies of car repair bills, etc.

The sad thing is, if I just kept on top of the papers in the crate, it would probably take me 5-10 minutes a week to get those things filed and then we'd be able to access them easily. Instead, I haven't filed them since we moved here at the end of June! So, 5-10 minutes a week for about 15 weeks =... A LOT OF FILING!

Eric is gone this week, so my goal is to get all of those papers filed before he gets back Thursday night. We'll see if I can do it.

Update on my goal from a few weeks ago: A couple of people have asked whether my kitchen counter has remained uncluttered. For the most part, the answer is yes. The hiccup is that now that the counter is clear, L likes to sit there and color, so now there is a coloring book, notebook and big box of crayons that seem to have made their permanent home there. Not complaining - it's better than clutter and a good place for her to sit and color, especially while I'm cooking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My daughter is three and a half years old, extremely smart and has an aptitude for music. She learns song lyrics and melodies quickly, and three different people with varied musical backgrounds have complimented her pitch. If someone plays her a melody, she can sing it.

She is not, however, very creative. This is something that has been clear since she was much younger. She is very literal and tends towards perfectionism. In the past she has avoided coloring or drawing because she "can't color like ____" or "can't draw as good as Daddy".

I tend to be hard on myself and my parenting about this. Have Eric and I, both type A people, nurtured our first born into a perfectionistic, type A three year old? I don't think so. Since it was obvious early on how hard she can be on ourselves, Eric and I both try to stress the importance of trying, not giving up, and just doing the best we can. I don't think we're completely "without fault", I'm sure she sees that I am hard on myself and absorbs that too. But I do not insist on perfection.

One of the more obvious examples of L's tendencies is that though she colors and paints, she greatly prefers stickers, play-doh and other crafts. She has started coloring and painting more lately, but often when she colors she actually spends the time trying to write letters and numbers or tracing her hands and feet.

Another example was our experience with potty training. L potty trained quickly, just after her second birthday. She was probably physically ready prior to that time, but resisted. Once we switched to panties, when she became interested and asked to try them, she was extremely hard on herself about accidents. She didn't want panties because she didn't want to have an accident. She was afraid to try panties for naps (6 or so months later) because she was scared she would have an accident in her bed. She actually had very few accidents after her second or third day in panties, in part because we had a period of time where she basically willed herself not to go to the bathroom at all because she was scared of having an accident.

I have often thought about this aspect of L's personality. Do I read too much into this? After all, she is clearly musical (though, despite her love for melodies and singing, she does not particularly enjoy dancing), and music is an art, so she can't be entirely without artistic "brain-i-ness", right?

Today her teacher talked to me after class about a fun play time the kids had. It was "Game Day" and one of the fun activities they did was free play with helium balloons. The teacher told me that she noticed L holding her balloon and standing off to the side, looking withdrawn, as the other kids threw their balloons, hit and kicked them, ran around the room after them, etc. When the teacher asked her how she was doing, L's serious reply was, "I don't know how to do this."

At first, I laughed because L has always loved balloons -- our weekly grocery shopping trip was frequently filled with shouts of glee seeing the character balloons hanging above the checkout, and one year for her birthday she got multiple balloons because friends and family knew how much she liked them. We have even played the "throw it in the air and chase it" game with balloons and balls at home. But, with a moments thought, it made me wonder if it was the lack of "rules" or directions. If you give her a balloon and tell her to use it, she gets stumped.

Lack of creativity? Fear of "doing it wrong"?

Her brother, on the other hand, is definitely a "give him a toy and he'll spend all day figuring out different things to do with it" kid. They are very dissimilar in that way. He's constantly turning over toys to explore them from the opposite view, using a bucket as a hat or chair, using a chair as a slide, driving the upside down plastic shopping cart like it is a car.

It is interesting to see these kinds of traits in the kids. And easy for me to worry about them. Should I be doing something to encourage L to be more creative? Should I be pushing her outside her comfort zone more so that she isn't as afraid to "do it wrong"? It will be interesting to see, as she grows up, how we see her personality develop and these characteristics play themselves out in her.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dear City of Kennewick,

I am tired of waiting for you to fix our yard and driveway after the city water main break that occured 2 weeks after we moved in to our new house. Do you realize it has been 3 months since that happened? And 2 months since we filed our claim? And 1 month since your claims adjuster told me we'd be receiving a letter "within the next week" updating us on what is going on - a letter we have never received?

Frankly, I do not care if it was the city's fault, or the fault of the contractor who installed the water main. I care that half of our front yard looks like a disaster zone, half of our driveway has settled, there is a boulder holding up our air conditioning pad, our fence has settled and is basically inoperable, there is a stray dog that comes into our backyard through the area where the dirt and rocks were displaced, and there is an island of dirt, silt and rocks in the middle of our backyard.

I am seriously considering the option of hiring an attorney. I have no doubt that the suit we file would result in our property being fixed. The plus side to having this happen only 2 weeks after we moved in is that I have a beautiful binder full of photos and descriptions written by a 3rd party home inspector that I have never met. No room for excuses - it's pretty obvious what happened.

Did I mention I have pictures?

City people, I appreciate that you have been very "friendly" and courteous on the occasions that we have spoken, but really, enough is enough. Don't you think it's about time we get this taken care of? At the very least, cut us a check so that we can call the contractors we consulted for estimates and let us take care of getting things fixed ourselves. I would rather not deal with the hassles of attorneys. But, we are not going to pay for our yard and driveway to be fixed out of our own pocket either.

You know how to get in touch with us.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Little Man Feels My Pain

Today I got my influenza shot. I am not "sold" on them and wrestled back and forth about whether to get one, but today I decided it might be a good idea since Eric is a school principal and L is in preschool. We may see more germs this year than in years past.

The flu shot line was not very long - we were 4th in line when we got there. I had Little Man in a shopping cart so I wouldn't have to try to fill out my paperwork, stand in line AND chance him around the store. L was a great helper. She held my papers after I finished filling them out.

Little Man was extremely patient, despite the fact that he has come into his own in the "terrible twos" department. That is another story for another time. The short version is that while his sister's "twos" was filled with stubbornness and arguing, Little Man's has, so far, been full of whining, feet stomping and crying at the drop of the hat. He has always been a "momma's boy", but we're getting into some other category beyond that. Is there a name for such a state?

So, back to the flu shot story, Little Man was hanging out in a shopping cart while the nurse was completing her record keeping. He seemed perfectly content. And then... out comes the vial and needle, and Little Man absolutely lost his mind. Crying with big crocodile tears, begging for me to hold him, flailing around in the cart.

At first I thought he was scared of the needle for himself, but after a minute, I realized that he was actually scared that the nurse was going to hurt me! I tried to calm him, while also relaxing my upper arm and keeping it on the table so I could get my shot. It was a helpless minute. I felt, and feel, really bad that he got so upset. He is a sensitive little guy. And today I learned that he's not only sensitive about himself, but also his Mommy. What a sweetheart!

Not to forget L, she sat next to me on my chair and held my non-shot arm's hand so that I "can be very, very brave". I love my babies!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One of the hardest things, for me, about being a stay at home mom is not stressing out about money. I am the "money manager", and have been since Eric and I got married. It was an obvious designation. I am much more detail oriented. Of course, when I took over the bill paying role, Eric and I had equal incomes and we were sharing purchasing decisions more evenly.

Now, I am home with the kids and not bringing in any income into the house. But I spend most of our money - bills, groceries, L's preschool tuition, household and child needs, etc. And I write all the checks sending money out of our house.

I never really considered how much that might stress me out.

I readily admit, I have problems with trying to control things too much. I control the checkbook, to an extent, but not the money that goes into the bank. I carry the worry of stretching the money Eric makes to cover our expenses. Eric is aware of our financial situation, but he doesn't "feel" it as much as if he were writing the checks and writing those numbers into our checkbook on a weekly basis.

I bet there are other stay at home moms who have the same stress.

The good news is that I do know that, in actuality, God is providing for us. That money in our bank account has been provided by Him. We have been a single income family for three and a half years now and for three and a half years, the numbers "don't add up". Looking at numbers, there is no way I should be staying home. And yet, here I am. In times of anxiety (and at the end of the month!), I continually remind myself of these facts. God is providing for us, and I should not worry about the details. (And yet, I still struggle with this.)

Phillipians 4:19: "For God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Jesus Christ."

Matthew 6:25-27 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 2009 Picture

Eric's Aunt Arlene found this somewhere and posted it on her blog.

"Many scrapbookers knew Aleida Franklin. She was a wonderful wife and mother and a brilliant artist. I didn't know Aleida personally, but she taught me something I will never forget.She emailed me last year to tell me she loved my blog and to ask if I liked my short hair-cut. This lead to a series of emails which eventually led me to remark that I really loved how often she posted pictures of herself with her children on her blog. And she replied to me, "Have you ever seen a photograph of your own mother and thought to yourself how fat she looked? Or how she wasn't wearing make-up? Or wasn't dressed in a glamorous outfit?" Of course my answer was no. She then responded with saying that she made it a goal to take a picture of herself with her children at least once every month. And that to use excuses about how we look, as women, is ridiculous, since our children will never care what we looked like, but only that we had physical evidence of the bond between mother and child. Aleida tragically and unexpectedly passed away in an auto accident in September of 2008, leaving 2 small children and a grieving husband. After she passed I thought of how those children must feel to have those precious photographs. I have made it my personal goal to follow her wise suggestion and I try to take photos of myself with my children....double chins, make-up free, bed-head and all. I invite Mothers everywhere to take Aleida's Challenge. To photograph yourself with your children each and every month."

It got me thinking about pictures I have of me and the kids. There aren't many. I tend to be the family photographer. But I do have these kinds of thoughts when I take pictures of my kids or our family: someday in the future both of our kids will look at these pictures and their memories will be enhanced. They won't really remember these days, but hopefully they will love looking at the pictures. And in some cases, seeing the pictures may actually become the memory of the event.

I asked Eric to take a picture of us a couple of days ago, but then they got uploaded to who-knows-where on our computer. This weekend we took our annual trip to Mountain View Orchards and the Fruit Loop in the Hood River. Eric took a really nice picture of me with the kids while we were there. It will be my October picture.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When Healthy Isn't Healthy

I haven't "been myself" since Little Man was born. Crabby, achy and primarily just really, really tired. Exhausted to the point of forgetfulness, moodiness, short temperedness (if that is a word). I was sleeping 10 hours a night, fitfully, but waking up just as tired, or more tired, than when I went to sleep. I heard echoes of other moms saying, "Once you have kids, you'll be tired for the rest of your life." Tired for the rest of your life.... for the rest of your life.... for the rest of your life....

Is there anything more depressing than that? "Knowing" that even as a "healthy" mom in my early 30s, I would NEVER feel rested or "like myself" again?

So I called my doctor and made an appointment two weeks ago. Of course, being a mom and someone who tries, sometimes desperately, to succeed and not admit defeat, I waited until my exhaustion was to the point that I was only managing to be with it enough to care for my kids and household by dosing myself up with Pepsi, and I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Luckily, Eric was still speaking to me, but he was also encouraging me to call someone.

My doctor was fairly certain my bloodwork would indicate Hypothyroidism. I have had many of the symptoms in the last 2 years: fatigue, small weight gain, cold intolerance, joint and muscle pain, depression.
Two days later, my thyroid tests and a host of others -- 8 vials worth of blood -- came back pretty much normal.

It turns out I am a healthy 31 year old!  Vitamin D deficient. Oh yeah, and apparently I am hormonally imbalanced! Physically healthy, brain health -- not so much. It turns out my brain is only "half full" of progesterone and something wacky is going on with my cortisol.

I told my friend, Shelly, "When I write my memoir, it is going to be called, 'They Thought I Had a Thyroid Problem, But It Turns Out I'm Just Crazy'." At the very least, it would make a good country music song, I think.

I'm writing about this now because I am encouraged that I am actually feeling better, and it's happening without serious drug interventions. I'm on a host of vitamin suppliments. Let's just say there isn't a "Day by Day" pill holder large enough for my twice daily vitamin regimen. But, nothing wacky -- Vitamin D, Calcium, Zinc, Probiotics, Fish Oil. I'm also, for the short term, on a sleeping pill to help me make up for 2 years of exhaustion.

But, the big change? The thing I think is helping the most? I've pretty much cut all refined sugar and white flour out of my diet. That's right. No pop, lemonade, juice. No ice cream, cookies, or candy. No bread, rice or pasta unless it's whole grain. And, to top it off, lean meats only. My doctor told me: "Red meat should be limited to once or twice a month."

Did you know that sugar and white flour actually rob your body of iodine and other vitamins, which can cause "hypothyroid"-like symptoms in some people?

Here are the surprising things that I have discovered in the last 10 days of eating this way and taking my suppliments:

1) It actually isn't as hard as it seems! I am the opposite of a scientific minded person. My "science mind" is that of a 2nd grader, so I don't know details here, but apparently not eating those sugars and refined carbs has balanced my blood sugar so I don't even WANT those things! I am actually hungry for healthy foods! Which leads to number 2...

2) With ease, I have gone from being a habitual snacker and occasional craver to a person who... wait for it... eats when I'm hungry! That is a big deal!

3) I feel better about myself, my body, my mind. End of story... I feel better.

I feel better!

I am trying to look at this new way I am eating as something other than a "diet". There is no weight loss goal (though I wouldn't be surprised if I drop the 10lbs or so I've been hanging on to since my kids were born).  There isn't deprivation. This is a conscious choice I am making for my health, and feeling results after 10 days sure reinforces that choice.

I am sharing this story for a reason. Definitely not to laud my diagnosis - it's kind of embarassing, frankly - but because I know lots of other moms (and people who aren't currently moms of young children) who feel tired, run down, moody, achy and/or just downright gross. If that is you, maybe you should give "no sugar and white carbs, limited red meat" a chance and see how you feel.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So many snacks, so little time

I am officially the mom of a school aged child. Thursday, it is our turn to bring snack (and, also, L's first ever "picture day"!). Being the kind of mom I am - "type A" but trying not to be, conscious of not feeding my kids or anyone else's sugar, wanting to make things easy for her teachers - I am racking my brain to come up with a good snack idea. I don't have the time or energy to do some sort of super impressive, crafty treat. I found a bunch of those online. But if it involves using a leaf shaped cookie cutter (to make a snack that goes with this week's "leaves" theme, naturally!), I'm just not going there.

Instead, the kids and I trolled the aisles of CostCo yesterday looking for ideas. I think I've settled on cheese sticks and multigrain crackers. The cracker box explicitly says that they were made in a nut-free environment, so we've satisfied the "avoid problems for kids with nut allergies" requirement. If I unwrap all of the cheese sticks ahead of time, then that is a relatively clean and easy snack for the teachers to deal with. Maybe I'll throw in some apples, too? Fuji's are on sale at our grocery store for $.88/lb right now, so buying 8 wouldn't break the bank.

Cheese, crackers, apple. Hopefully that will be good. Today I asked L what her snack was and she seemed disappointed. "Just a small graham cracker." I think that means that someone forgot to bring snack so the teachers had to break into their emergency snack stash. Alas...

Right on the heels of the preschool snack on Thursday, I am also bringing snacks for Bible study preschool hour on Friday. These ladies made it easier for me by actually telling me what to bring. No stress about making the right choice! Friday the snack goes with the Bible story, which I am going to guess is Joshua and the battle of Jericho. I am to bring "Rice Krispie Treats cut into rectangles" and chocolate frosting.  I can't say I'm completely thrilled about the nutritional quality of the "snack", but frankly if my kids like the preschool hour and I can get in some good Bible studying with other ladies one morning a week, I'll deal with it. And I'm sure my kids will love the special treat.


By the way, I found out this morning that my blog has been accepted onto BlogExplosion, an online blog directory. I actually had to apply and have my blog approved, so that's pretty cool! 18+ people think my blog is interesting!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Junk pile, I banish thee

No matter how hard I try, I can not avoid having a pile of dumped junk on the counter in our kitchen. Before we moved, we had a junk pile that drove me crazy. The second it was clean, more things appeared.

I promised myself that after our move I would not allow the same thing to happen. We have a nice little kitchen peninsula with stools for the kids to sit while I am cooking. It makes me feel happy to be in our kitchen when that area is empty (except for a bowl of fruit or, like now, pretty squash and fall veggies). How often is the peninsula free of junk? Maybe 1/2 of 1 day out of the week. Sad. Right now in the pile: 2 magazines, 2 packages of childproofing locks for cabinets, 1 air freshener plug in with no air freshener, a handful of change from my grocery shopping trip, fly swatter, 1 of B's socks that he gave me while I was putting groceries away. All of these things have homes -- homes that are not my kitchen counter. Why? Why do they always end up there?

This week my goal is going to be to keep that counter free of junk. It will be one small step towards sanity.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Are we late yet?

Eric and I are both 'type A' people, so it's no surprise that L - our first born - has always shown those tendencies.  I have always tried to be very careful to be encouraging to her in all situations because she tends to be hard on herself. This has been the case since she was very young. Ex: until recently she didn't like drawing very much because she "can't draw like Daddy".  We had a small issue with potty training because she was so hard on herself when she had an accident that it made it mentally really difficult for her. (We recognize that about her and have been talking with her pretty much forever about just doing the best you can, it's ok to make mistakes, even mommy and daddy make mistakes sometimes, etc.) 

This past weekend I caught a glimpse of another piece of me that has handed down. This one though, I think, is my fault. It's a little embarassing and a wake up call for me.

Last weekend Eric had class, so I planned to take the kids down to Bend for the weekend. We planned to leave Friday, but had no target "leave time". As I loaded everything into the car and started hooking L in to her seat, she said, "Are we late, Mommy?" like she was very concerned. Unfortunately, this was not the first time she has asked me that and it wasn't the last. She proceeded to ask me if we were late about every 10 minutes for the first hour we drove. You know how some kids say, "Are we there yet?" Well, apparently in our house, the refrain will be, "Are we late yet?"

Over the past couple of weeks, L has been asking me pretty regularly when we get into the car if we are late. Even when we are late, I've been trying to take that as a sign to back off a bit and just relax. It's like she's holding up a mirror saying, "I can tell you are stressing out so I'm going to stress out too!" And I feel silly because 99.9% of the time, "lateness" is not a very big deal at all. But it is true, I definitely get anxious when I feel like I'm late for something.

Good lesson. Our kids pick up on more than we know, and those things sink in, sometimes more than we would probably like. I'll be working on not worrying about lateness, and just enjoying the moment instead. And also not cursing like a sailor everytime we are in the car together.

Just kidding on that last part!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm a Survivor

Tonight is the season premiere of Survivor. To be honest, I have no idea where they are or any details about this season, other than that apparently there is some guy who is going into the game planning to destory the food source of his own tribe so that he can swoop in and be the savior later. Or something like that.

I have a little secret and it will explain my interest in this season of Survivor.

I seriously considered applying for this season of Survivor. Multiple times I thought about what I'd say in my video. I have read that only about 10% of the people they cast on Survivor know actually apply and the rest are "LA people" (model/actresses or wannabes). Here is my serious thought: wouldn't it be refreshing to have a normal woman (not stick thin, not hideously ugly) on the show? Plus, I am a stay at home mom. I don't recall a lot of those on the show. And, if that wasn't interesting enough, my former job working with adjudicated teenagers might be a draw. Such a sweet face, but a tough personality when needed.

I researched my application plan to a small extent. I knew that this season would be filmed over the summer in the U.S. and I thought: Hey! Eric won't be working, so it would be less weird for the kids! Plus, who wouldn't love to win $1 million??

I actually got to the point of pulling up the application and requirements online, only to discover the deadline was the day before. Foiled!

But then, a couple of weeks later, I was at the gym on the treadmill and there was an ad on tv: they extended the deadline and were doing an open casting in Portland, a mere 3 hours drive away, the next day. You can imagine Eric's response when I said, "So, do you think I should take the kids to Portland tomorrow?"

In the end, I didn't apply. But if I did, I'm confident I would be competing against this season's Survivors.

Would I have won? Probably not. My near-obsession with being on Survivor is not entirely consistent with my character. I have never left North America. I am a control freak.  I tend to have problems with anxiety in unpredictable situations. I have had stomach problems my whole life that cause me to eat a basically spice-free diet. I am not very good at letting people get to know me, and am not very skilled at "making friends".

But... I'm also someone who is generally underestimated in terms of my intellect. I'm also very healthy and strong, but not intimidatingly so. I've got some extra stomach and thighs (not to mention butt!) to use as a backup energy source.

And, what an adventure it would be!!

I'll be watching tonight and sizing up my competition. Maybe I'll apply for season 20-whatever sometime, too!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

VictoriaElizabethQOC = Cool stuff

Meet my friend, Victoria. She doesn't know this, but when I refer to her I almost always call her "Babyfit Victoria", not like I know any other Victoria's that I am differentiating between. She is enormously creative and makes beautiful clothes and costumes for toddlers, on top of being a stay at home mom of 2 toddlers (both girls, with the same age span as mine) and pregnant with her third, a woman of faith and someone who desires to live a healthy life as much as possible.

I knew Victoria made little things for her daughters, but had no idea the scope until L's 3rd birthday, when she received this:

It was, without a doubt, the hit of the party! And ever since has been a top tier dress up outfit for not only L, but also for her brother...
I'm following yesterday's post with this because Victoria has made and is, I think, still making pretty cool costume sets for dress up. I'm especially liking the Clown Princess outfit!
Check out her site (link is below), and if you like what you see, drop her a line of encouragement or buy a cute little item for someone you know who loves a little dress up!
VictoriaElizabethQOC  --- Hosted by