Thursday, July 31, 2008

Musical Rooms

When I was single, I purchased some pretty decent furniture. I never really envisioned what the future held for me or my furniture. I've found out that the original purpose of something is not always how it turns out. For example, a year before I met David I purchased a beautiful buttercream yellow chaise lounge from Restoration Hardware for about $1,000. I loved this chair. It was by far the most comfortable place to sit in the entire house. I could also curl up and take a nice nap. All that ended when we got Forest. No matter what I did, he only wanted to sleep on this chaise. He wouldn't do it when we were home, but the second we left, he would make his way up there. Apparently, he agreed with me that it was the most comfortable spot in the house. I quickly tired of putting laundry baskets on the chair when I left the house, and it soon was covered with a blanket. It has remained Forest's bed for over 4 years. It is literally covered in dog hair and I don't dare sit on it anymore. I also had a great coffee and end table set. The coffee table is now for Ben's Thomas the Train track. Such is life I suppose and I'm sure we will continue to find new ways to use the furniture other than it's intended purpose.

In our home in Phoenix, we had a formal living room and dining room. We went out and purchased a table for the dining area that we used 3 times in the 2 years that we lived there. Does anybody ever use these formal tables? We have a "formal" area here as well, so we hauled the table up here. We've been here a year and I don't think we've used it. I've dusted it twice a week, okay, okay once if I'm lucky for a year and that's about it. I like the table. It's a nice dark wood and it's really not very formal. The chairs are great and have a cushy microfiber seat. Our breakfast area is rather large. We've been using a table in there that I've had for about 10 years. I have always loved this table. It was solid wood and the finish was just beautiful. The problem is that it seats 4 comfortably. It's a little tight to add another chair and forget about 2 chairs. You're bumping elbows with the person next to you. We do seem to have a lot of company and this is always something I think about when I have to drag out the back up chairs from the guest room.

Last week, I had a vision at 2 AM. Yes, this is what I am up thinking about when I can't sleep in the middle of the night. Maybe the formal table would work in the kitchen area. This will also free up the entire formal living and dining room for kid stuff. Before, half was kid stuff. We actually have an airplane teeter totter in the middle of the room. I did the switch today while David was at work and we both love it. We sat at the table tonight for dinner and could not believe how comfy the chairs are. The kitchen area is void of kid toys which is always nicer to look at. The living room belongs to Ben and Emily. Of course I left the sofa in there so I could relax while I watch them play and still in place is Forest's "bed".

I realize that this change works for us for now. In a few years, the kids will be in school and not playing at home all day. The play kitchen and rocking horse will be gone and they'll want their own TV with a Wii and 2 computers. Until then, Forest and I will relax on our respective spots and watch the kids play.
The BEFORE -- Yes, that's Ben's bare butt. He's potty training.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Unexpected Ride at Disneyland

My brother decided to take his girlfriend and 12 year old daughter, Auna, to California for the week. They planned on going to Disneyland and the beach. I made them some online reservations and they arrived last night. They were all excited to get to Disney today. He said they were waiting in this building for this car ride and the whole thing started shaking. Joe knew right away that it was an earthquake and they waited about 10 seconds for it to pass. Then, they evacuated Disneyland. Can you imagine all of those people leaving at one time? We are heading to Disneyland in October and I'm hoping the earthquake will be one "ride" that will be closed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Compliments of George W.

We love the weather up here in Prescott. For about 6 months out of the year, you really don't need A/C or the heater. We've been struggling with not getting a good enough breeze through the house during those nice months. We looked into getting a screen door for the front door. We have an extra wide and extra tall door. That means a custom door. I called one company that came out and wanted $1250! What?!? I went to Lowe's and on sale they wanted $1150 plus tax. I could not believe how expensive a door could be. I was going with the most basic model. These are really nice security doors though. Basically, they only have a deadbolt lock so you could actually leave your regular door wide open all night. One of our friends does this. I'm not sure I could as I would be freaking out all night that somebody is sitting there staring in my living room. Anyway, I used the same company that my friend had just gone through and it ended up costing about $900. It's a good thing we got that economic stimulus check or we probably would've postoned this little home improvement for several years.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Mystery Plant

Don't get too excited Joe (my brother) it's not that... :o)

First a little history. We started composting about 9 months ago. At the time, we didn't have a compost bin. We just started a pile, which David would till and what not. We now have a nice bin, so that makes the process easier. The point being, when we started our garden, we used some of this compost pile as filler. It hadn't quite broken down into mulch it was more of an enriched dirt. One of the first plants that started growing in the garden was not one that we planted. It looked kind of like the zucchini leaves, so we assumed the wind had carried a seed a few feet and something rooted. Well, the plant is now huge, like the zucchini and it's sprouted some sort of fruit or vegetable. It is definitely not zucchini. It's obviously something from this original compost pile that just started growing. I thought it might be butternut squash, but we only eat the frozen kind so nothing would end up in the compost bin. I'm thinking it looks a lot like a watermelon or maybe a pumpkin. I really have no idea. I'd love any feedback on what you think it might be. If you are the lucky winner, we'll send you a zucchini!

Old Friends, Well Family Really

My Mom met Cathy in 1954. My Mom was 6 at the time and walking to school. Cathy's family had just moved in a few houses down. Cathy's Mom saw my Mom and asked her to walk Cathy to schoool. They've been best friends ever since. I've always called her Aunt Cathy and her kids have always been my cousins. I didn't realize until almost high school that she wasn't actually my mother's sister, but by then, it didn't really matter. Aunt Cathy and Uncle John moved up here to Prescott over 10 years ago. My cousin Denise and her family followed shortly after that. Denise and I were exactly the same age and we were always good friends. We had lost touch over the last 10 years, life happens. I knew when we moved up here that Denise and I would get back in touch and we just picked up right where we left off. We try to get together once a week for a play date. Denise has two kids also. Jude is 5 and Stella just turned 3. Today was Stella's birthday party. We went to Peter Piper Pizza and the kids had such a good time. They played video games and rode this clown ride that barely moved for hours. I gave Ben a token and he dropped it in this game that you hit a button and the ball falls and you get X amount of tickets. Well, he hit the jackpot and got 416 tickets. He didn't even care. After buying a few trinkets with their tickets, we headed home and now the kids are "napping". It was another fun filled afternoon.
The birthday girl - Stella!

Emily on her favorite clown ride.

Ben brought Buzz along.

Ben with his jackpot.

Stella, Emily and Jude

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Some Fun Indoor Play

We went with the Mom Group to Freedom Station today. It has miniature golf, arcade games, bumper cars and this huge indoor play area with slides. I knew the kids were too young for golf. We have a little plastic set in the backyard and Ben just whacks at the ball. I knew they would like the tree house play area and the games. They allowed one of the Mom's to get a wrist band and go in the tree house also to supervise if needed. The other Mom's did not want to do it, so I agreed as I knew Ben would go up and not want to slide down. There we were in this maze of tubes, mats and slides - me and 6 kids. I had to go down the slide with Ben and I couldn't believe how fast it shoots you out. I think I must be getting old. We played a few arcade games. I made the mistake of doing skee-ball. It's really not a good idea to give a 2 year old a heavy ball and tell him to throw it. He was dangerous. Overall, we had a great time. You'd think the kids would be tired after the morning activities. Nope, I tried to lay them down and they just keep coming out of their rooms. I don't get it. If somebody put me in a soft bed in a dark room every afternoon, I'd be asleep in 2 seconds. They seem to have boundless energy. Maybe if somebody made all of my meals, got me dressed, fixed my hair, put on my shoes, toted me around town, pushed me in the shopping cart, cleaned up after me, gave me a bath, washed my hair, lotioned up my body, brushed my teeth and tucked me in every night after reading me a story, I'd have boundless energy too!!!

A Tender Moment

David sent me this link to a You Tube video today. It's such a sweet story. I actually got a little teary eyed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Rooms

We've lived here for over a year and we just got around to painting the kids bedrooms. I love paint. White walls just seem so boring to me. It's truly amazing what a $20 can of paint can do for a room. Every wall in this house was a flat white paint. With a black dog and 2 kids, the walls got dirty quickly and it's impossible to get it clean. We started painting shortly after we moved in and started with the main rooms like the kitchen and family room. We still have our bathroom and the guest bedroom and bath left to paint but we'll probably wait awhile to finish it. We went on a painting frenzy when we first moved in and quickly became bored with it. We haven't painted in over 6 months. Emily has been wanting her walls painted. Of course, she wanted pink. I didn't want to go that route knowing that she'd probably have a new favorite color in a few years. Besides, her drapes and bedspread are pink and I didn't want it to look like a bottle of Pepto Bismol exploded in her room. So, I made the call to do yellow and it looks great. We added some Princess decals and she's all set. We painted Ben's room blue. I almost went with Red, but again did not want it to look like a blood bath in there. The blue looks nice and I'm sure he'll be good with that for many years to come. He really loves Spiderman, so he has some Spiderman decals. He also loves, fire engines, Thomas the Train, boats and Toy Story. So, I may paint some of those on the walls in the months to come. Here are pictures of the finished product.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Vegetables of Our Labor

I've always wanted to plant a garden. In Phoenix, it's so hot that I never really knew what to do or where to start. When we were designing our backyard here, we decided to leave room for a future garden. This spring we decided to give it a go. Neither David nor I really knew much about it, but we figured it would be a learning experience. We bought several already established plants and we also tried to grow some things from seed. We learned that out of 8 already established plants half of them died. That was a pricey lesson at $3 each. The seeds are only $1 and we've had way more success with those plus they produced several plants. We planted cucumber, rhubarb, zucchini, basil, parsley, strawberries, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, onion, corn and lettuce. We've been watching everything grow and sometimes die daily. Emily and Ben are really interested in it also. It's fun to get them involved and see their excitement when something starts to grow. Lately, there has been a lot of rain and it seems things were doubling in size overnight. I went out to show Ben the garden and I moved a zucchini leaf and we had our first full size zucchini. I had seen them growing a week ago and they were the size of my finger. It's unreal how quickly they grew. We are going to have more zucchini than we know what to do with. I imagine we will be eating zucchini casserole, fried zucchini, zucchini kabobs, grilled zucchini (Forest Gump shrimp reference)... If you have a good zucchini recipe, please leave it for me in the comments.

We've also had some spinach. It was growing so fast that I used it in some salads and cut a bunch of it and cooked it. We've already learned quite a few lessons from this garden and I'm sure next years will be even better.

Lesson #1 Don't bother growing cheap stuff like carrots. Focus more on the expensive items like bell peppers and zucchini.
Lesson #2 Don't buy any established plants. Use seeds. They will grow. It's what they do.
Lesson #3 Corn needs lots of room. Depending on how much we get will determine if we bother with corn again next year.
Lesson #4 Onions don't grow very easy.

We have also started a compost bin. I know, we are turning green. It's amazing how many kitchen scraps we have. We started it a few months ago, so next year we will have lots of great mulch to start our garden back up with. We'll keep you updated on the rest of the progress of the garden as the summer goes on. And if you come up for a visit, expect to eat some form of zucchini.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Two of My Greatest Joys in Life

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we don't realize how lucky we are. I know I'm blessed with a great husband and two wonderful healthy little kids. I know that I'm fortunate to get to stay home and watch them grow up. I could really go on and on with how lucky I am, but what I really want to talk about is my husband. He is truly a gift. He brings me flowers on special occasion like he's supposed to. He's always thoughtful and respectful to me. What really makes him exceptional is that he knows what I want. Flowers are pretty and I always appreciate them, but that's not the way to my heart and he knows that. I love sleep and I love coffee.

Here is David's morning routine. He gets up at around 5:30. Not because he has to but because he has done it for so long that he can't sleep later. He either walks the dog or goes for a 3 mile run and then takes Forest for a walk around the block. He comes home by 6:30. Around this time one of the kids, usually Ben, is waking up. If Ben gets up while David is out walking, he will come in bed with me and lay down. When David gets home, he comes in the room to find me asleep. He will take out whoever is in bed with me (sometimes I'm alone), he'll turn off the monitors and he'll shut the bedroom door. He leaves for work an hour later. During that time, both kids usually get up. He gets them their coffee (yes, both my kids drink coffee in the morning) and he turns on whatever cartoon they want to watch while he gets ready. He comes in the room about 7:25 to wake me up. As I stroll out to the kitchen, he has my coffee waiting for me prepared exactly as I like it. I usually sit in front of the computer and sip my coffee while I wake up. He gives us all a kiss and heads off to work.

This is our morning routine and has been for at least a year. I just take it for granted. Until at a recent playgroup, somebody mentioned that they were up at 5:30. I gasped. The horror. Why would anybody do that to themselves? As we shared our morning stories, I realized that I'm the only one who wakes up after 7:00. Most Mom's make their husbands coffee and are up with before the sun. I heard a lot of "I wish my hubby would do that" and "you're lucky". And you know what? They're right. I am lucky.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's a Girl!

We just found out that David's sister, Alisa, is having a girl. She is due in December. We are so excited for her and her husband Daniel. We kind of figured it would be a girl. Everyone on David's Mom side (excluding Auntie Barb) had girls first. David's Mom was the first born. Four out five of her brothers have children and all had a girl first. Alisa was born before David. Even though Auntie Barb didn't follow the pattern, her two sons both had a girl first. David, obviously, had a girl first and now Alisa. It's really very strange. Congrats to Aunt Munchie and Uncle Daniel. Emily is excited about her new cousin and wants to change her diapers!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Daytime Memories

Emily has been out of preschool for over a month. It's been difficult finding things to do to occupy the days. With gas being so expensive, we try not to drive into town for little things. We save up all of our errands and do them all in one day usually on the weekends when I have David to help with the kids. So that leaves a lot of time on our hands. I often feel like the days are broken up into 15 minute activities. I like to think that it's because of the kids attention span, but frankly it's mine too. I can only play hop scotch, play doh or Candy Land for so long before I start to lose it. The weather up here is fantastic. We got an early monsoon season and the days are usually nice in the morning and overcast in the afternoon. I use any opportunity to get the kids out of the house. We go to the clubhouse pool or we have a great park really close. We usually go with some of the Mom's in the Mommy group which it's always nice to speak to another adult. Sometimes we just hang out in our front yard. Here are a few photos from one of our recent 15 minute segments.

Emily's outline. Ben's outline. Forest gets in on the fun. We can't leave out Buzz Lightyear. Here are videos of Emily playing hop scotch.

Being a stay at home Mom is the hardest job I've ever had. The days are long, the activities are monotonous and the pay is lousy. I sometimes think that I should get a part time job, but then, I think about all that I'd miss if I had to work and they were in day care. About 10 minutes after I put Emily down for her nap today, she came running out of her room. She wanted me to come look at something. She had drawn a picture on her magna doodle and she said "Look Mommy, that's my family." It's moments like these that I realize I'm the luckiest woman in the world.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Greatest Show on Earth

We went to the Circus Friday night. We have a small arena here that holds about 5,000-6,000 people depending on the event. This was the Ringling Brothers circus, but they only had one ring instead of the usual 3 due to the arena size. This was our first time going to Tim's Toyota Center, and overall, we were very happy with it. It is mainly used for hockey, but they get a few odd and end concerts or shows. I didn't realize that it was so small. When I bought our seats they were in section 215, so I thought we were going to be on the upper deck. I didn't realize there isn't an upper deck. It was small and intimate and perfect. The kids both napped that day which is unusual. We went an hour early and they let you down on the stage floor to watch some of the performers or do a few activites. The kids got to swing from a trapezee and hula hoop. They both did well during the show. Emily was completely enamored. Ben got a bit fidgity after 90 minutes. I think he was moving just to stay awake. They loved the tigers and elephants. Emily told me during the show a number of times that she wanted to do this or that. We all had a great time and I think David and I enjoyed ourselves more than we thought we would. I looked over several times to see David laughing out loud usually at this French character that was the comedy relief. We put the kids to bed right when we got home. Ben was asleep in about a minute. Miss Emily was wired. She would not settle down. I went in her room to tell her to go to sleep at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and finally 1:00. When I went in at 1:00, she was standing on her bed. I asked her what she was doing. She said, "Cartwheels like in the Circus." I guess she's all ready to run away from home and join the Circus at the ripe ol' age of 3!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Room for 2 More

David and I always agree that our kids have way too many toys. I can probably count on one hand how many we've bought them with the exception of Christmas and birthday gifts. They are loved and spoiled by many. Granny came to visit for a few days after a trip to the casino with her sisters. My Mom had a little luck and came away with some money. She gave each of the kids $20. Ben had been eyeing a Buzz Lightyear toy at Kmart for months. Whenever we go to any store, we browse the toy section, bid a fond farewell and finish our shopping without buying any toys. Ben really, really wanted that Buzz Lightyear. Low and behold, Buzz cost $19.99. We headed to Kmart the other day and Ben got his Buzz Ranger. It's Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger, but he mixes it up. Emily wanted Woody. I showed her the Barbies and dolls and even a Snow White costume, but she wanted Woody which was fine with me. I've been a fan of Toy Story since it came out over 10 years ago. I used to have a Jesse doll that I took on vacation when Pam and I went around the U.S. Jesse was very well traveled and enjoyed sun bathing on the beach in Arcadia Nation Park, taking a ride on a Harley in Boston and she even went to the top of the World Trade Center. I don't know what ever happened to my Jesse doll, but I will have to find one and buy it for myself. The kids are having so much fun with their new Woody and Buzz. Ben even insisted on sleeping with Buzz. I could hear "to infinity and beyond" about 1,000 times before he finally fell asleep. Buzz even went on a ride in the Jeep today. I'm sure they will have as many experiences as Jesse did.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Price You Pay

When we moved up here, one of the many things we wanted to do was find a church. We tried two different ones last year and gave up for a little while. David and I seem to be searching for entirely different things when it comes to a church. We are both Catholic (altough I never went to church as a kid), but we both agreed that we didn't want to head back to the Catholic church. So, we went pursuing other Christian options. David is all about the sermon. The music is almost an annoyance to him and he'd rather hear the message and leave. I, on the other hand, rather enjoy the music. I like a good sermon too, but the music is also nice. We agree that the church needs to have a good kids program. We want the kids to have a good time, learn about God and enjoy coming every week.

One church we tried last year was 98% senior citizens. The music was played on an organ. Now I like the elderly, but I was hoping for something different for the kids. They didn't have Sunday School or anything. The kids had to sit in service with us. This is not a bad thing, but at the time, Emily was 2 and Ben was 1. Getting them to sit for an hour was not about to happen. I spent about 45 minutes chasing both of them around the parking lot while David listened to the sermon. We didn't go back.

The next church was better at least from my stand point. The church was modern and the music was contemporary. They used a guitar and keyboard, so I thought we were off to a better start. It was a nice sermon. We both seemed to enjoy it. The kids had their own rooms based on age and they had a nice program for them. Emily was a little freaked out and that prompted us to put her in preschool for the year. She hadn't really ever been away from me. So, we stopped going for awhile. In the meantime though, this church called us probably 20 times. That was enough to make me abandon this ship and look elsewhere.

We just started going to a church called The Heights. It's close to the house, they have a great kids program and several of the Moms from the Mom Group attend. They are super modern (the church not the Moms). Checking in our kids required a finger print, photos and beeper system. Wow, I was impressed. They also had a nice coffee bar and you can bring your beverage into the service with you. Who doesn't like a second cup of coffee on Sunday morning? The music starts and it is really good. The singer used to be in a Christian band and it's like being at a rock concert. I'm enjoying myself and I look at my husband who I know is awaiting the sermon and merely tolerating the music. I will say, although the music is excellent, it is a bit long. They played for almost 30 minutes before the sermon began. My feet were actually starting to hurt from standing in one place too long. Plus, I'm used to wearing flip flops not anything with a heel. Around this time, my beeper went off. I didn't make it through the first set of double doors when I could hear the wail from the lobby, "I want my mommy." That's my boy. We've been to this church twice and each time it was the same thing. So, I calmed him down and brought him into church with me. He was actually so freaked out that he just held on to me and then David for the rest of the service. Emily is now doing just fine in church. The first time, she went in the 3 year old classroom and they did a craft and story time. We were sending Ben and her together hoping that he'd do okay with her in the room. Ben did not like the 3 year old room. So, last week, we put them both in the 2 year old room. It's really just all toys and some outside play stuff. Emily loved it. Now, we are dealing with the aftermath of the germ infested toys. Emily was stuffed up yesterday. She woke up today at 4 AM with a cough, congestion and a fever. It never fails. We sanitize afterwards, but I think she probably sucks her thumb when she feels insecure while we are gone and our sanitizing efforts are sabotaged.

I think we will continue to give The Heights a shot. Hopefully, Ben makes it through the entire service at the day care soon. We'll shout out a big Hallelujah that day!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's raining frogs?

Every time my Mom is here for a visit, we find a frog. It's really the strangest thing. My Mom comes up usually every few months. In between that time, I never see a frog. It rained yesterday as the monsoons have started early. We are always glad for the rain. Emily was walking along the curbing in the backyard and spotted a frog. Where did he come from? There isn't any water around us. I don't get it. The fun part is always capturing them and looking at them for awhile and then we let them go. My Mom isn't afraid of frogs, so she scooped her up and put her in a crate. We decided this one was a girl and David named her Baby Bertha because she was small. Of course, Emily wanted the frog on her lap while Ben made little screams every time the frog jumped. We released Bertha back into the wild after a few hours in captivity. I hope she made it out of our yard and back to wherever it is that she came from.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Life is a Highway

About a month ago, we went to a play date with the Mommy group. Two of the kids had ride on jeeps or "beepers" as Emily calls them. Both Ben and Emily just loved riding on the jeeps. Emily would not get off unless I was forcing her to share and Ben only got off to get another cookie. They were hooked. I thought that our evening walks could actually be a walk instead of our normal stop and go if we got the kids a jeep. The jeep holds 2 kids which is perfect as Ben isn't great with steering yet, but he is learning quickly. We went to a few yard sales but we did not have any luck in finding a beeper for the kids. I certainly wasn't going to buy a new one as they are between $200-$300 and something only Santa could afford. Last week a lady had a jeep and quad for sale on Craigslist for $20 each. Of course they are used and a little sun faded, but I wasn't going to pass up a great deal. Plus, I've learned the kids could care less if it's new or not. It's new to them. Emily's is a purple Barbie jeep that even has a working radio and Barbie CD. Although I secretly wish the Barbie CD was broken. If I hear Barbie say, "Is everyone ready to go the beach?" again I'm going to through myself under the Jeep. We are going to add some cool new stickers to it soon. Ben is perfectly happy to be her passenger. A few nights ago on our walk he fell asleep while Emily was driving. Thank God he wasn't driving! Ben's quad is very cool and he loves it. It's awesome that it's a little used and the traction on the tires is worn because he fishtails every time he takes off or stops. That just adds to the fun. The kids are loving their new toys and couldn't wait to show Granny this morning. My Mom came back up for a visit again and it's great to have her with us for awhile. Here are some videos of our morning adventures.

Ben is starting to get the hang of it...

Emily decides she's had enough of Barbie and the beach party and hops on the quad!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Emily's Adventures

Emily has always been fearless. She jumped off a diving board before she was 2. David can't toss her high enough into the air. Some kids like to sit on their Dad's shoulders, Emily likes to stand on David's. She always wants to go faster and higher. She always wants more. In fact, "more" was one of her first words and the only word she picked up in sign language at 9 months. She is always up to try anything and usually the first kid to go for it. We had a play date at our house on Monday and one of the Mom's brought her water slide. Emily was playing with the older boys the entire day. She could completely keep up with them. Ben was inside in his room by himself. Their personalities are night and day. I don't know where Emily gets her sense of adventure. I'm kind of in the middle and I'm told David used to turn blue if pushed too high on the swing. Our girl is one of a kind. I love her spirit and know that she will experience many things in life because she loves a thrill. Notice in the video that she doesn't even use the slide. That's just in her way.

Here's another one of Emily at our clubhouse pool. I didn't realize that most 3 year olds will barely get their heads wet or leave their Moms. Emily will jump in the pool without the floaties, but when I have both kids by myself she has to wear them as I don't have eyes in the back of my head...yet. Notice Ben standing on the side of the pool watching.