Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Place To Be

Whoever said "there is no such thing as a free lunch", has not been to Costco the day before the Super Bowl.

I usually save Costco and Sam's for the weekend as David likes to go and check out what they have. We have memberships to both thanks to my Dad. Actually, my Dad's wife and David are listed as spouses on the Sam's account. My Dad and I aren't even on the Sam's account, but this way both families can enjoy one membership.

We deliberately went to Walmart first in hopes that Costco would have more samples out by the time we got there. The kids love samples and Emily asks for them as soon as we pull into the parking lot. They are like Pavlov's dog.

The place is packed. Everyone is stocking up on things for the big game tomorrow. I'm a bit pickier than David and don't try everything. We have a system though that if he wants me to get a sample of something he'll say, "Sweetie, you should try the shrimp." Knowing of course that I won't eat shrimp, but I know that's code for "he wants a second one".

On the way out, David remarked about how full he was. We recapped what he ate in the store and couldn't help but laughing.

The feast included:
Cheesecake
2 chocolate cakes
3 pieces of rosemary olive bread with butter, one with no butter (Ben didn't want it)
3 sausage hot links
2 pieces of pizza
2 shrimp ceviche salsa with chips
avocado
strawberry shortcake
bbq brisket
mini bean burrito
3 wings (hot, honey and citrus)
2 cocktail shrimp
Kettle chips
Beef Jerky

I'm cracking up right now as he's laying on the floor recalling his gluttony. Mind you these were all small bite size portions. There were many samples too that he didn't get or they were out of when we went by.

Hungry? Head to Costco today!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Parenting Advice

Emily has been taking ballet for a month through our local parks and rec. I blogged about it previously here. She is really enjoying it. We picked this paticular class because it's close to our home and it was cheap. The dance studios wanted a $50 yearly registration fee and four 45 minute classes a month was $50. The parks and rec is only $32 with no start up fee.

But...

I have a major issue with it.

The parents have to wait in the hallway. As much as I would love to be in the room, I understand that parents and little brothers are a distraction. So, we all sit outside and peek through the windows in the door occasionally. This is not the issue though.

Two weeks ago, I peeked through and saw that the teacher had all the girls sitting down and lined up. She was calling them up one by one to do a move, like first position with your feet. I can't hear what's going on, but she appears to be asking what move the girl is doing and the kids will answer and so forth. The girls raise their hand to go up next. Emily was really raising her hand. When the girl up front is done, all the others clap for her. I thought the teacher was going to call on every girl. I didn't stay at the window because Ben went running down the hallway and I needed to tend to him.

When we got in the car, Emily said, "Ms. Sue didn't pick me to go up in front of the class." I realized then that only select girls got to go up.

I told her it was okay and that there isn't enough time in a 45 minute class for all 15 girls to go up. She'd probably get a turn next week.

Well, that was yesterday and she didn't get a turn again. Now, I don't want to be a parent that thinks my kid should get rights above anybody else. But, I was able to spend the entire 45 minutes watching through the window. David was working from home and Ben was napping, so I didn't have Ben with me.

I saw Emily raise her hand over and over and over again. I saw the teacher call up Emily's friend again and several of the same girls from the week before.

When we got to the car, Emily said, "Ms. Sue didn't pick me again and Alanah got to go up like two times." Then she said, "I guess I don't do it right." After I swallowed the lump in my throat, I told her that maybe Ms. Sue teaches a lot of kids and maybe she just forgets who she calls up. To which Emily replied, "I don't think Ms. Sue likes me because she doesn't pick me." I told her that wasn't true of course. Then, Emily just said, "well, it's not fair."

And she's right.

I was livid. Someone who teaches kids should know that they keep track. They know when they aren't being picked. I know it's difficult to learn everyones name and remember who got picked from week to week. So, do blondes one week and brunettes the next or something. Is it really that difficult to give each girl a chance?

Fabulous. I'm paying money to give my daughter a self esteem issue.

I was ready to stomp into the civic center today and demand my money back for the February classes that we already signed up for. But, Emily likes ballet and she says she wants to keep going. I give her credit for being resilient.

My other issue is Ms. Sue goes over a roster every week at the start of class. It took three weeks just to get a roster. She asks each kid their first and last name. The second week Emily said she didn't know her last name. She obviously does, but these are 3-6 year olds. Some truly don't know yet. The roll call takes 15 minutes.

Yesterday, there was the 15 minute roll call. Followed by Emily sitting in one spot for another 15 minutes while other chosen girls got to go up in front of the class. Finally, she got to stand up with only 15 minutes left of the class.

When David asked her what she did in ballet, she said, "I like sat there for a very, very, very long time."

And she's right.

So, I plan on talking to Ms. Sue about this next week. I don't want to be one of "those" parents, but I have to stick up for my daughter. I don't plan to be mean about it, just make some suggestions for the next class. I also feel they are just wasting way too much time on roll call. Would it be so hard to have a sign up sheet for the parents in the hallway?

I'm really bothered by inefficiency. I mean it REALLY bothers me.

Am I doing the right thing by talking to the teacher? Or should I just go get my money back and sign her up someplace else for a different ballet class? Am I just getting what I paid for? What would you do?

Or should I just forget the whole thing and be more concerned with the fact that my daughter uses "like" in most sentences?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just Flakes

Last winter at this time, we had already gotten 3 decent snow falls. Let me define decent. Enough on the ground to make a petite snowman or have a snowball fight, not enough to last more than a day and definitely nothing that you need to get a shovel out for. Decent is a perfect amount in my book.

This winter is horrible. Although our city and surrounding cities have had several snowfalls, it seems to move right around our housing development. Even yesterday, we got some nice flakes while 1/2 mile south of us my friend said she could barely see out her windshield it was snowing so hard.

The kids woke up this morning to a very light dusting of snow. They were thrilled. It's amazing how little will excite them. I got them all bundled up in snow pants, jackets, gloves and hats and out they went for some early morning play.



They had to make snow angels. Not that you can see it, but they had fun.




Emily was all for going fast down the big slide.


Ben was scared and opted for the little slide.


The lack of snow is disappointing, but these kids don't seem to mind.

I'm still hopeful that we'll get some decent snow before spring comes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

That'll Fix 'Em

We finally fixed the problem of the dogs getting out.

We never minded if they stayed inside. However, they both had issues.

Roxie will eat anything she can get her mouth on. Read about our poor gingerbread house here and the chocolate covered cherry incident here. She also enjoys peeing on our carpet when we are not home. I think eating all that food makes her thirsty and well, you know the cycle.

Rocko doesn't pee on anything but the grass and he doesn't get into any of our food. He's only 18 months old and therefore still a bit of a pup. Which means, he'll pick up something of the kids and take a nibble. It could be a GI Joe, crayon or Emily's beloved Porky. We have to watch him and keep him occupied with things like a rawhide and kong toy. The point being, we can't leave him inside.

Roxie was the culprit doing all the digging and Rocko would just stand back and cheer her on. Then, they'd both run to freedom under the fence and wait in the front yard for me. Rocko was an outside dog, so he doesn't have an issue with being outside. We decided she was never going to be able to stay outside and he couldn't stay inside. It was time to seperate them while we were gone.

Last weekend the kids and David laid down the some cinder blocks under our fence line.



Notice Emily doing yard work in her ruby red slippers. Dorothy would be proud.


Now, we leave Rocko outside. Even though he never dug before, we didn't want to take chances since Roxie's bad influence.

We leave Roxie inside. I take her to go potty before I leave and do a thorough sweep of the house to check for food. If I have meat out thawing for dinner, I put it in the oven (it's off) just in case. I did forget about the baggie of licorice that was by the computer. She found it and devoured it. Oh well, I didn't need it.

We've had our new system going for a week and everything is working out perfectly. Of course when we come home, both dogs stay inside with us...where they belong.

Friday, January 23, 2009

And She Strikes Again...

As if stealing my identity and using it for 5 years to the tune of over $100,000 isn't enough, I got my mail today. There was a bill for $373 from a collections agency. Apparently, I went to see a Doctor in San Antonio and didn't pay my bill.

I guess when you get really sick and can't afford it, you just use the fake license in your wallet and go the Doctor under someone else's name. Freakin' bi#%!!!!

I had to call the collection agency. Then type a detailed letter, make copies of my license and passport and fax all this info over to them. It only took me about an hour. After 5 years, I'm getting to be a pro at this. Thank God I took the copy and fax machines when we sold our Texaco or I would've spent the afternoon at Kinko's.

All I can say is that whatever this lady went to see the Doctor for, I hope it's fatal.

Technology is Awesome

I went to Target yesterday and got the keyboard that Grampie wanted to get for the kids. It is the coolest thing ever.

There are 100 pre programed songs and the keys light up, so you know what to press.

There is a little lady that will tell you "1" or "3", so you know what finger you are supposed to be pressing with.

There are tons of different rhythms and tones.

The kids are having a blast, and so am I. Yesterday I had to set the timer, so everybody got 10 minutes, including me!

Emily went to school this morning, so I took the time to get Ben playing alone. After all, it is his birthday gift.


One of the other great features...volume control! Perfect for when he does this:


I'll get Emily on video later as I'm sure everyone is dying to see my kids tickle the ivories or beat them to death!

Thanks Grammie and Grampie!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Move Over Beethoven

The other day my father in law (Enrique) accidentally dialed David's cell phone while trying to call his brother. I picked up and we started chatting after the initial confusion wore off.

He has always thought that his little Emileelee (that's what he calls her) needs a piano. He found a great keyboard at Target. The keys light up, so you can follow a song. He wanted me to see if our Target had it and get it for her and he'd send the money. Shipping on something like this would be too expensive.

We have yet to make it to Target to check it out. However yesterday at the bread making party, Ben discovered the piano. He had never played one before. Us Moms were in the kitchen and heard someone playing. We assumed it was one of the older girls as it sounded a lot like Chopsticks. Then, we realized it was Ben. He was having a great time.



I'm going to look for that keyboard soon. Little does Grampie know that, Benjino may play it more than Emileelee.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Baking and Breaking Bread

We got together with our Mom's group today to bake bread.

We even grinded our own wheat.


Each kid took turns adding ingredients.


If you poke the mixer with your fingers, it mixes quicker. At least they thought so!


Ben was intrigued with the grinder.


Today was also the inauguration of our new President. As Emily would call him. BarackO. No matter where you go, you find people who love and don't love him. It's like our country is completely joined and also divided. That's not going to get us anywhere. Put personal feelings aside. He is our President and we should all embrace and support him.

Let's all just break some bread together and make some real changes in our lives.

I, for one, am hopeful. Very hopeful.

Just give him a chance.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Thin Line Between Reality and Reality

I got my Parent's magazine the other day in the mail. I always browse the cover to see what stories I might be interested in. The Mom on the cover caught my eye immediately. I knew her from somewhere.

I thought of high school. Work? Friends?

The more I thought about her the more things I was remembering. I knew her name was Claire and I knew she was nice. I liked this girl.

After letting the idea marinade in my head for awhile, it finally hit me.

She was on America's Next Top Model.

When you start thinking Reality TV stars are actually your friends, it's time to watch less TV!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Isn't That Special

Somebody got some beautiful flowers today.

Not a dozen, that would be overly lovey. Just 3 simple, beautiful sunflowers.

A sign of friendship? Love? Appreciation?

I know you are all thinking my husband is just wonderful.

Well, he is. But, he wasn't the one giving the flowers and I wasn't the one receiving them.

Emily's "boyfriend" Cody (see previous post here) drew her a lovely picture of some flowers on pink paper.

When I walked into preschool to pick her up, Cody asked me if I would hang it on her bedroom wall. I smiled and told him that I would and it was so sweet of him.



On the way home, Emily asked if she could draw a picture for Cody.

I said, "Sure, what would you like to draw him?"

She said, "A heart."

And just for a second, mine stopped beating.

Holy Moldy!

I need help! I know I could google it and find 100 bazillion answers, but I rather get real experience of what works from people I know.

I'm a desert rat. Born and raised in 110 degree summers. I don't know a thing about mold!

This is what I found around my bathroom windows today...





Luckily, it's not in every window. I did find a pattern that it's in most windows that face East. I'm guessing it's something to do with dew. Ha! Upon further investigating I found it in the kids rooms, our bedroom and the bathrooms that have showers. We use humidifiers in all of our rooms. So, it's a condensation thing?

What I need to know is...

#1 How do I get rid of it? Bleach?

#2 How do I prevent it from coming back? Do I need to wipe all my East windows every morning? Or just not take a shower or bath during the winter? Ha!

I'm asking any of my east coast/midwest friends and family for help and advice.
And hey, with all this cold, you better go check your windows!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's About Time

Emily first learned to pedal before she was 2 1/2. We let her practice riding her tricycle inside the house. She came riding into the kitchen one day yelling, "My feet! My feet!" She's been a riding fool ever since.

I figured Ben would learn earlier than she did. I thought a boy would be quicker to learn how to pedal. Plus, the muscles in his legs makes me jealous. Santa almost brought them bikes last year for Christmas. I made sure I informed Santa that I did not want to be outside in 20 degree temperatures teaching the kids how to ride bikes. So, Santa left the bikes for the Easter Bunny to bring. Ben has had his bike for 9 months and still hadn't learned to pedal. Sometimes, Emily would ride her bike and Ben would walk almost the entire mile when we took a walk. He obviously wasn't lazy, he just preferred to keep both feet on the ground.

I needed to get the kids out of the house today to see what the dogs would do in the backyard. I think this was David's fifth attempt at setting up a barrier so Roxie wouldn't get out under the gate.

I thought it was a beautiful day for a bike ride.

And there was Ben...he didn't say it, but I could tell he was thinking, "My feet! My feet!"










He finally got it. I had to help him up the little hills and around mailboxes, but it's a start.

Needless to say, when we got home, Roxie was digging another hole to China (or our front yard). David is picking up cinder blocks on the way home.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let There Be Light

My Dad is not one to sit around. He always needs a project. When he and Suzy come to visit for the night, he always helps us out with something around the house. David jokes that everytime my Dad comes up he adds value to our home.

Last weekend, my Dad and David installed flood lights in the backyard. Two lights point onto the grass, one on the BBQ and one on the swing set.

While many of our family members are dealing with below zero tempertures, we are able to spend evenings outside after dinner. David plays ball with Rocko and the kids run around. I'm inside doing the dishes.

It's nice, but I'd trade it for some snow! Well for a few days anyways.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Perspective

Yesterday when David got home from work, he was not in a great mood. I had already told him that Roxie dug under the fence and both dogs were waiting for me in the front yard when I got home from running errands. What this meant for him was that he had to redo the entire gate area when he got home from work. A lot of picking and digging isn't really what he had in mind after a long day of work.

I was bringing the recycle bin to the curb as he pulled in the driveway. I noticed this big heap sitting by the front door. It's the bottom portion of our screen for the front door. To see what the door used to look like go here. It's now missing the bottom screen which pretty much makes it unusable. We might as well just hang a sign saying "bugs welcome".

We won't use the door for several months and it probably won't be more than $100 to fix. But, it was enough to make David pretty angry and myself as well.

We sat down for dinner. I could tell David was drained. On top of the dog issues, he had to drive to Flagstaff for work. It's 90 minutes each way. It had been a long day. I started telling him that I had spoken to one of my dear friends on the phone that day. We are both stay at home Moms and try to catch up once a month.

My friend had told me that her Dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer...again. He's pretty much been given a short amount of time left to live. On top of that, her husband has gotten deployment papers for Iraq. He's supposed to leave in March for 14 months. He is going to try to get out of it, but who knows what will happen.

As I was telling David this information, I just started crying. David got teary eyed as well.

We get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we truly forget that we really have nothing to worry about. Sure, having to replace our screen sucks, but it's minuscule compared to what's going on for other people, for our friends.

Why does it take hearing news like this to make me appreciate my life more?

Why can't I realize how fortunate I am every single day?

It's the selfishness that lies within all of us I suppose.

I often say Emily creates drama in her life because she has none.
I guess I'm guilty of that as well.

At Home

We don't let our dogs on the furniture or our beds. We have large dogs with lots of fur and it gets everywhere as it is. I don't want a mouth full of fur on my pillow. We could tell the first night we got Rocko that he was allowed on the sofa and beds. We've been getting him down every time he tries to get up there.

I was on the treadmill for 25 minutes this morning. The kids were on the chaise lounge watching Scooby Doo.

Apparently, Rocko's has no problems making himself at home.


So, did I get him down?

Nah...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Time To Dance

For 15 years of my life, I was a dancer and I loved it.

Now, I am a nurturer. A dog trainer. A waitress. A chef. A baker. A bus boy. An organizer. A maid. A painter. An artist. A lover. A negotiator. A disciplinarian. A peace keeper. A parent. A friend. An accountant. A photographer. A videographer. A writer. A blogger. A gardener. A nurse. A singer. A storyteller. A wardrobe stylist. A problem-solver. A nail technician. A handyman. A chauffeur. A hair dresser. A shopper. A time keeper. A personal assistant. A task manager. A teacher.

Basically, a mom and a wife.

Emily had her first ballet class yesterday. She was excited. I was excited.

She loved it.

Last night before bedtime, Emily asked me to go over some of the new moves she learned. We reviewed the 5 foot positions of ballet. We did a few plies and releves.

Together, we each became a dancer.

I had come full circle. My daughter's journey is just beginning.








Ben, on the other hand, is clearly not a dancer.



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tea Time

I was hoping Santa would bring Emily a tea set for Christmas. He must have forgotten that every 4 year old girl needs a tea set. I got one for her the other day. She was so excited and could not wait to host a tea party when her Dad got home from work.


David showed Emily how to properly drink tea with your pinky out.


Emily got it down perfectly.


After tea, it's always a good time for a double decker shoulder ride. I was panicked he was going to drop one, but luckily, nobody got hurt.


My husband deserves a father of the year award.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Another Member of the Family

When we had Forest, we always thought it would be nice to get him a friend. Then, he died and we got Roxie. Roxie was with her brother at the Humane Society. Somebody adopted only him. How could someone leave her behind in a kennel? We knew we'd get a friend for her one day. We knew we wanted another big dog and a male as to make sure we avoid any fights. We were keeping our eye out on Craigslist and petfinder.com.

A few days ago, there was an ad on Craigslist for a AKC golden retriever. Almost 1 1/2 year old, male, well behaved and absolutely gorgeous. It turns out we were one of many families that inquired about him. He was meant to be with us as we met him today and brought him home.

His name is Rocko, which Rocco is also my nephews name. We have Roxie and Rocko. It's actually getting really confusing and we may change his name later. We call him and she comes. We call her and he comes. We can't keep it straight. He is a total love. He's still a little excited and unsure tonight as I'm sure he's confused, but I know in a few days, he will settle into his new routine.

His previous owners needed to find him a new home as they also have a Doberman who was starting to dominate over him. The husband wanted to keep the Doberman. Score for us. Rocko is just so sweet. He's our third retriever and we finally got one that fetches! Roxie is fine with him. We thought she'd be happier to have a friend, and she probably will in a few days when they get used to each other. Roxie is a lot older and their energy levels are quite different. David said it was like night and day walking them.

On a side note, on our way home from getting Rocky, we were turning onto the main road (highway) in Chino Valley. We had a green arrow and green light. The car next to us went a little faster than we did as David was going slower as Rocky was standing up. A car plowed right through the red light and the car next to us T-boned it. It was like slow motion watching the truck swerve in front of us and then correct itself. It was a pretty bad accident and we were all a little shook up. Literally, half a second later and we would've been hit as well. If David had been turning, Emily would've got the brunt of the entire accident. Me too, but I was in the back with Rocky instead of the passenger seat. As it turned out, not a single piece of flying debris even touched us. We stopped to make sure that nobody was seriously hurt and then the police and ambulance got there. We drove off breathing a sigh of relief and thanking God that we were spared.

Here's Rocko playing ball with David. It looks like he is playing football with Ben and runs right by him only to fumble, retrieve and then score a touchdown


Monday, January 5, 2009

The Zoo

We woke up on New Years Day and asked the kids what they wanted to do. Emily decided that she HAD to go to the zoo. We have a very small zoo, animal sanctuary really, here in Prescott. It's small, cheap and perfect for kids under 5. I thought about driving to this great zoo that is about 45 minutes away until I looked up prices. $36 for adults and $20 for children. Seriously, are you kidding me? $112 for a family of 4 to get in. I wondered if I should e-mail them and let them know they aren't Sea World. It's a pretty cool zoo though, so I will wait until we get a buy one, get one free admission and then we can go.

We went to our little zoo for $21. It was perfect.


Watching the black bear nibble on a bone.


Being silly.


More silliness.


They also have a playground and free roaming peacocks. Apparently, this peacock enjoys the slide as much as the next kid.


Daddy had to go up and scare the peacock away.


I love watching the kids and taking pictures when they don't know they are being watched.






We had a great time and it was a nice way to start the new year.

Nighttime Gifts

My best friend, Pam, came up for a short visit last Friday. She wanted to bring the kids their Christmas gifts. She always buys a themed Chrismas gift. Pajamas and books, the perfect nighttime combination. After all the noise, batteries and putting together, it's nice for the kids to get gifts that are lovely and practical. Pam buys the kids books for almost every holiday. I can honestly say that we have probably 200 books, and she has bought the majority of them. Emily loves her bed time stories. She would have her Dad read 10 books if he would. It's also another one of many stall tactics. Ben, on the other hand, likes stories during the day. Because he won't nap, he's often so tired by 8:00 that he just wants to hide under his covers and go to sleep.

Thanks Aunt Pam for the new PJ's and books! They are a big hit.

You can't read it, but Ben's PJ's say "Tough Guy" and have a monkey on the front. PERFECT as Ben tells his Dad, "Oh yeah, tough guy!" when they wrestle.



Friday, January 2, 2009

The Neti

Not to be confused with The Yeti.

It's a new year and time for better health. Tis the season for colds and sinus infections. We all get them. We all feel miserable.

I used to rarely get sick. Then, I had Ben and something in my body changed, or maybe I'm just getting old. Emily goes to preschool and brings home every germ known to man. She gets a little cold, Ben gets it, then, I get it. David usually escapes it. Maybe because he's not here with them all day while they insist on drinking out of his cup and eating his cereal.

Emily and Ben are usually over it in a few days with sometimes a lingering cough. I, on the other hand, get the gift that keeps on giving. A cold, followed by a secondary sinus infection. It never fails. I can't get just a cold anymore. I always get the sinus infection that goes with it. I used to think it was allergies. I went to an allergy specialist who poked me 78 times and found nothing. Then, he decided to give me 20 more shots, still nothing. I'm allergic to absolutely nothing. After a CT scan of my face, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection. Seriously, 98 shots and all I needed was an antibiotic? Couldn't we have tried that first?

Now I know that I will get a sinus infections with every cold. On the one occasion that I actually went to the Dr. I was hit with a $20 co-pay and $20 for antibiotics. Nice. I can't afford that every month during the winter. Not to mention David had to take 4 hours off of work, so that I could go.

In steps Dr. Oz on Oprah. Okay! I watch Oprah...daily...and I like it! He introduced the world to the Neti Pot. I little device used to clear out your sinuses. I bought one, two actually. David uses it twice a day now. I use it at least once a day. When I get a cold, I will sometimes use it 3-4 times a day. I truly believe that this is helping me with my sinus infections and pressure.

Here's a lovely demonstration.


I'm not sick right now, so this is strictly maintenance. Sometimes, the gunk that comes out of your nose is pretty impressive. When I have a bad cold, I sometimes can't even get water to pour through my nose. If you keep at it though, it will eventually open up and give some relief.

You can purchase a neti pot at any Walgreens or drug store. My Mom got one at Walmart. The neti usually comes with a few solution packets. Then, they want you to buy more for $10. The solution that you use is 3 parts non iodized salt and 1 part baking soda. We found the solution online, so we just mix up a cups worth at a time. David uses 1/2 teaspoon per nostril. I think it's too much for me, so I go with maybe 1/4 teaspoon. Do what works for you.

Honestly, this is the best thing for sinus infections. I get over my colds faster and I feel better while I have them.

Let me know if it works for you.