Tuesday, March 31, 2009


My cousin Denise took her daughter Stella to a pediatric dentist a few months ago. The dentist just happens to live around the corner, is a good friend of ours and I babysit for his daughter on Thursdays. It's a small town.

Stella was a big thumb sucker. Emily is also a thumb sucker, but usually this habit creeps up only when she is tired. Dr. Brown recommended a nail polish called Mavala Stop for Stella. Now I know everyone has tried stuff like this, but this stuff is really powerful. Denise snuck into Stella's room every other night and painted her nails. It worked!

Emily is starting Kindergarten in August and I know this will mean a lot of tired days. She's going from 3 days a week for 2 1/2 hours to 5 days a week for over 7 hours each day. I know she will be tired and I know she will suck her thumb more. I also know kids can be mean and she will get teased. Not to mention the nightmare she is causing on her teeth and palette. I thought we needed to do something now.

I knew painting Emily's nails in the middle of the night would never work. She is the lightest sleeper ever (with the exception of me). One night when I couldn't sleep, I came up with an idea.

Thumbelina, the Thumb Sucking Fairy.

She's been eyeing this Thumbelina doll for months. She doesn't want the movie and has no idea what Thumbelina is actually about. So, I told her all about my made up version of Thumbelina one day. She's a special fairy who comes to visit when she thinks a little girl is a big girl and she leaves nail polish and a doll. She also promises to come back in a month if all is going well. Emily was so excited. She asked for weeks when Thumbelina would come. I told her soon. What I really meant was 5-7 days for Amazon shipping.

Thumbelina came one night this past weekend. She left her doll, some pretty blue nail polish, the nasty tasting nail polish and a note. Emily was so excited. We painted her nails blue and then put the other polish on. She couldn't wait. She did so good that day and never once sucked her thumb. She said she was thinking about it and that was helping her not to suck her thumb.

David tried the polish. He was at the sink spitting up and washing his mouth out in a matter of seconds. I was curious how the night would go with Emily when instinct would take over.

She did really well the first night. In the morning, she said she tasted the yucky stuff a few times. Since then, she hasn't even gone to stick her finger in her mouth. I'm applying a fresh coat of yuck stuff every few nights. I'm hoping this also helps with her nail biting habit, another thing she gets from her father. I haven't trimmed her nails in years.

So far it's a huge success. It's been 4 nights. I think if I stay on top of it for at least a month, it will be enough to change this habit. I'm so proud of her for giving up something that she has done since she was 3 months old. It seemed rather painless and the only concern she has is when will Thumbelina come back with another present?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

I Smell Like...

Ben was snuggling with me. His face buried in my neck. I felt him take a deep breath. He looked at me and said, "Mommy you smell like..."

Oh God. I thought for sure he'd say something like dirty feet, wet dog or poop.

He wrinkled his nose and took one really good smell of my neck.

"like strawberry".

Isn't that sweet?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Emily and Ben have 4 cousins. Three are from my brother and sister and they are all teenagers or close enough to have the attitude of one.

Today, David's sister (Alisa) and her husband (Daniel) came with their 3 month old baby girl. It's the first cousin that is close in age to Emily and Ben.

Emily has been so excited about this visit and talked about it for weeks. She adores her Aunt Alisa, but I think she was equally excited to have a baby in the house. For her, it's a living breathing doll.

Luckily, Alisa and Daniel hit the baby jackpot and Rachel is beyond good. She fussed for about 2 seconds today after traveling for 12 hours. She is an absolute sweetheart. My babies would've fussed for 12 hours and been content for 2 seconds.

I'm thinking in 6 months, Emily will be a great big sister (she already is) and really help me out with the new baby.

As for Ben, I thought he would be super jealous, especially when I held Rachel. He didn't seem to care one way or another.

Now we just need to hit the baby lotto!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wish Granted

David's sister, husband and new baby Rachel are coming on Thursday for 5 days. This means I have a time frame on getting the house cleaned.

Normally, I'll do one bathroom one day, the next one a week later and the third bathroom will only get done by the time the first bathroom needs cleaned again. It's a vicious cycle and I seriously wonder why we bought a house with 3 bathrooms. There are only 4 of us (well almost 5) what are the odds that we will all need in a bathroom at the same time? I'm sure I will understand and appreciate the need for 3 bathrooms when the kids are teenagers. Until then, I will think about cleaning them for weeks until I finally break down and do it.

For the most part, our house is clean enough. Sure, something could always be dusted or scrubbed and the kids have toys everywhere, but I wouldn't be overly humiliated if somebody stopped by unannounced.

Today, I started the cleaning in preparation for our company. I'm tackling all 3 bathrooms. I'm feeling crazy. I'm shining the mirrors up and wondering how toothpaste got all the up there when a thought crosses my mind. A maid. Now, we don't have the financial means right now, but I let the thought run through my mind anyway and the mere idea of it was making me happy.

Emily breaks my bliss and asks what she can do to "help". This essentially means she makes a mess and I have one more thing to clean up. But, I know I need to teach her how to do this stuff if I ever expect her to do it one day. I arm her with her own bottle of enviro friendly vinegar and water and a towel and she goes to town cleaning the tile. I don't have the heart to tell her there's about 1500 square feet of that stuff and she better move quicker.

Here's a little side story...
***I'm in the laundry room about a year ago. Using an entire bottle of spray and wash on the million stains my kids get on their clothes. I thought Emily and Ben were watching TV. In walks Ben. He's soaking wet. His hair, face, eyelashes, everything is wet. Huh? Then, Emily walks in with the empty bottle of vinegar and water solution and says, "Mommy, I need more stuff to clean Ben." Thank God it was only vinegar and we only had to deal with him smelling like an Easter egg for a few days..***

Back to today's cleaning...
Emily and I are cleaning bathroom number 3 when she pops out with a declaration. She said, "Mommy, when I get older, I will do all the chores and clean the entire house." I gasped. I have my maid!!! Well, maybe in 5 more years, and maybe just a helper but it's something and I'll take it.

I had her sign a document just in case she ever forgets that she made this promise.

I doubt it will hold up in court.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Shhhh...It's a Secret

When my Dad sold the Texaco 4 years ago, I was unemployed for the first time since I was 13. I was officially a stay at home Mom with a very cranky 4 month old. I felt a little lost. I was reading one of my Parenting magazine trying to figure out how to calm my fussy baby in 3 magical steps, which never worked by the way, when I came across an article on Secret Shoppers.

Now, I know all about secret shoppers. Owning, managing and working at Dunkin' Donuts, Texaco and Cousins' Subs for 20 years had taught me plenty. I had read hundreds of evaluations, several which were done on me. I thought I could do this. So, I went online and applied at the few reputable sites listed. Nothing that required money paid by me to be a member. The most it took was a 20-30 minute questionnaire about myself and I was an official mystery shopper.

I'd check occasionally on what was available. Hmmm...Cheesecake Factory (one of the busies restaurants in town) at the bar between 5:00 and 6:30. Yeah sure, let me just tote my newborn to a bar! There were always some for car dealerships. Nobody ever took these. They couldn't pay me enough to test drive a car and apparently, everyone else felt the same way. Then, I'd see the cosmetic counter in Scottsdale, a city 45 minutes away, one-way. No thanks, I'll stick with Cover Girl. Nothing ever worked for me. Eventually I stopped looking, had another baby and moved twice.

I switched my zip code, so I could see new assignments when I moved to Prescott. Pickings were even slimmer up here. There were still the car dealership offers which still nobody would take. I'd rather put needles in my eye than walk onto one of those places.

And then...

A mystery shop on a veterinarian. This could work. After putting Forest down, we knew that we didn't want to go back to the same vet. Here was an offer for up to $100 in treatment reimbursed plus $25 for doing the report. Rocko was due for his annual exam and vaccinations. On our tight budget, this could be $100 in our pocket instead of out of it.

The vet was fantastic. I now have to log on and write the glowing review in the next 24 hours. There was only one major problem.

I had David put the kennel in the back of the van. Our only experience with Rocko in the car was when we brought him home. He wanted to climb up on the seats and on Ben and I didn't want to be distracted by that while I drove. Rocko went willingly into the kennel on the way there and home. About 2 minutes into the drive home I hear a wretch. Was that what I think it was? Then, the pregnancy nose kicks in and I smell right away that the contents of his breakfast is now in the kennel as well.

Why oh why can't my husband be home when this happens? After 30 minutes of sitting in his own vomit, it was everywhere. David put a blanket in there for comfort, it was a giant puke pad. So nasty. Not to mention, when he jumped out of the kennel he splattered puke all over my pants and jacket. I literally stripped down in my garage and threw everything in the washing machine. I've yet to check it. I'm scared.

Rocko has been banished to the backyard until I can muster up the energy to give him a bath. It's freezing outside, so this will probably mean that I will get to scour my tub thoroughly later tonight as well. Will it ever end?

And the answer is no...

On the way home from preschool, Ben fell at the farmer's market and literally ate the asphalt. That took almost 10 minutes to clean up and get him to calm down.

We dropped off our carpool buddy and I told the kids to stay buckled. This never happens. They walk all around the car while us Mom's chit chat for 10 minutes. I can't help it. This is sometimes the only adult I will talk to for 10 hours at a time.

We were leaving their house and I reprimanded the kids. I told them Mommy has had all she can take today and we are going home and they are going to listen and behave.

It was quiet for a few seconds. They knew I was at my wits end.

And then Emily so sweetly said, "Mommy, you're beautiful."

And for the first time today, I had to laugh.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Random Things

This week has gone by really quickly.

I had my 12 week appointment with the doctor. Everything was good. I got to hear the baby's heartbeat and he/she was moving around a lot. Probably due to the cup of coffee I had just drank. I'm still feeling great. I thought my other pregnancies were easy, this one is a breeze. So far...

David had a furlough day on Thursday. So, I went to my doctors appointment in complete peace and quiet. Plus, I came home and my van was washed. Nice. Then, my best friend Pam came up from Phoenix and we went to lunch and did some shopping for 4 1/2 hours. I'm thinking furlough days aren't so bad after all.

Pam and I had a really nice girls day. Talking, laughing, sharing stories...all interrupted! It was delicious. Plus, my kids totally missed me when I got home. They never get a chance to miss me because I never go anywhere. They ran into the garage to see me when I pulled up. That warmed my heart.

Our Garden:
Some seedlings are taking off and some are still empty little pods. The green beans are outrageous. I've had to relocate them out of the greenhouse because they are probably over a foot high now. I wasn't expecting them to grow so well. Now, we need to transplant them earlier than expected and we are forecasted to get a freeze this week. We'll try to cover them and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, I'm impressed at the resilience of other produce.
Our rhubarb sprang up again after a long cold winter.

Our broccoli, that we planted in September, was supposed to produce something in December. Nothing ever happened. It survived the entire winter and is now producing broccoli. We haven't eaten any yet as I'm waiting for it to get bigger, but it looks yummy. Well, at least Ben thinks so.

Our spinach did the same thing as the broccoli.

Last but not least, when Ben eats Oreos he gets a brown mustache. I'm not sure how he does this, but he looks hysterical.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I've seen this clip before, but it's still fun and I still got it wrong! After yesterdays brutality at Chic-fil-a, maybe the defense shouldn't call me as a witness.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Off To Surgery...

Ben had his appointment today in Phoenix with a Pediatric Urologist. If you missed the earlier post, you can read about it here. Basically, he's had a little hernia since birth. It's so small and sometimes not even swollen, but the doctor told us if left untreated it could be a major problem later. The opening that is allowing fluid in will get bigger and bigger with time. So, we are doing it and getting it over with.

It's a simple in and out procedure that lasts about 30 minutes with less than an inch incision. By the end of the day, he should be running around oblivious to what has happened. I'm not worried really except that they do put him under. Obviously on a 32 pound kid, that's always a bit scary. The appointment isn't set yet, but will probably be in April.

Meanwhile, we made the 90 minute drive from Prescott to Phoenix and stopped at Chick-fil-a for lunch. One of my all time favorite fast food places. They had an indoor play area for the kids. We had a nice lunch and they kids went off to play. David and I sat in there and watched. We were the only parents watching. Where were all the parents? Eating, drinking, talking, taking care of newborns...

Until a fight broke out. Not with my kids thankfully, but these 3 boys were getting rough with each other. David and I actually thought they knew each other as it seemed several Mom groups met there. I was looking around for the parents. Is this how these kids play? Then, the rough hitting turned into a few smacks and one boy bit the other. Mind you the one who got bit was the one starting everything. He went out crying to his Mommy. Who was so irate she called her lawyer!!! What? David and I were stunned. We immediately came to the biters defense. True, he shouldn't bite, but those two other kids were not being nice. The Defendant took our name and number in case we need to be called as a witness and the Plaintiff was was still on the phone with her lawyer when we left. I just couldn't believe it.

Can't we make our boys sit down, apologize to each other for their rotten behavior and be punished appropriately by not getting to play and not getting the ice cream cone that was promised. Or better yet, how about a good smack on their rear?

What happened to the good ol' days?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break

Emily is off this week for Spring Break. I like when she goes to school, even if it is only 3 days a week. It gives us some structure. Something to do besides spend money.

Speaking of spending money, we made it through our first month with David's pay cuts just fine. I mean, I wasn't stuffing leftover money under the mattress, but I didn't have to pull anything from savings. Then, the bomb drops. Well, bomb might be too strong. How about...then, the firecracker goes off. My car tags...on a brand new mini van. Meaning, this year will be the highest and it gradually goes down. The highest meaning $381. Crap. Not only that, but David's will be coming up in a 5 months and his should be about the same. Oh well, just another little hiccup.

Speaking of hiccups, when I was pregnant with Emily, she got hiccups all the time in my belly. I'd be up for hours at night while she hiccuped every 5 seconds. Seriously, it's impossible to sleep when you have the hiccups, let alone someone else inside your stomach. I'd try to scare her and yell, "BOO!", but nothing worked. I'd just have to wait out the hours until she finally stopped. I'm hoping the baby in my belly doesn't get the hiccups much.

Anyway, spring break. I'm trying to think of fun, cheap things to do. We should have a gorgeous week, so I'm excited about that. I think today we will go to the library. The kids always love that. And then probably Walmart because we went on Saturday, but I didn't have a good list. I forgot half of the things I needed to go to Walmart for. Also, we could go to the park and fly our new kites. I've found those fancy kites don't work worth a darn, so we bought some cheap kites at Walmart and I'm sure they will take off.

Speaking of taking off, Ben got a Matchbox Space Shuttle set for his birthday. It comes with astronuts, a space shuttle, aliens, U.F.O. and a bunch of other stuff that I have yet to figure out. It's pretty fun and something he wants to play with everyday. He also loves Buzz Lightyear, who is a space ranger in case you live under a rock. With his love of space and space men, I asked him if he wanted to be an astronaut and fly to the moon. To which he told me, "No, I want to stay here." I like that answer. He's going to be cautious like his father and prefer both feet firmly planted on the ground.

Anyway, tomorrow we have to drive to Phoenix for Ben's doctor's appointment for his hydrocele thingy. I'll let you know how that goes. David is taking the day off and coming with us, so at least the drive down and back up the mountain will be nice.

On Thursday, my best friend Pam is coming up for the day to visit and spending the night. David is taking one of his furlough days, so Pam and I are going out for a girls only lunch and doing some shopping. I'm totally looking forward to it.

I guess the week won't seem so long after all.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fashion Statement

He might not ever make the cover of Vogue with this idea. But I imagine when he is 35, married and has 3 kids, he will think it was pretty cool that he wore a dog collar as a belt.

And it's loose!

He says he's a cowboy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Puppy Love
They were asleep until I got the camera and then they both opened their eyes.

We better love lettuce this summer. After only 24 hours, lettuce was the clear winner, by a head. After 3 days, lettuce has a nice little plant starting in each pod.

Green beans are also doing well. Emily is most excited about this. We call her the Green Bean Girl and Ben is the Broccoli Boy. Lame superhero names.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Getting A Spring On Spring

Last year was our first time planting a garden. We learned a lot and still have lots to learn.

We planted a lot of vegetable plants. At $3.99 each, this got expensive quick. Plus, over half of the established plants that we bought either died or didn't produce anything. We also planted a few packs of seeds and had way more success with those, lots of plants and lots of vegetables for a lot cheaper.

This year, we decided to start with seeds. We bought a cheap greenhouse and Emily and I planted some of the seeds yesterday. The plan is we will transplant our little plants in a month and also plant more seeds. This way, we will have plants at different stages instead of getting 50 zucchini in one month.

I'm amazed at how fun Emily thinks this is. She loved counting out 3 seeds for each hole. She woke up today and went over to see if anything grew overnight. I can't wait for the first plants to sprout. She will be so excited.

We are planting a lot of the same veggies as last year and a few new ones. There are a few like corn and onions that never produced last year, so we are not doing those again. Others, like carrots are just cheaper to buy at the store, so we are not doing those either. We have watermelon, zucchini, yellow squash, cilantro, basil, bell peppers, green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and large yellow tomatoes. Our parsley and strawberry plants from last year survived the winter and are turning green again. We will also plant some pumpkin seeds in a few months, unless they spontaneously grow again.

By the way Grammie, Emily found one of your Diet Mountain Dews leftover from Thanksgiving and HAD to have it. You'll also notice David in the sandbox. He was sifting out the rocks and a few cat poops that accumulated over the winter.

We are ready for Spring!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Simple Needs

Emily has been battling a cold all week. I thought she was getting better, but she woke up today whining. She had her morning cup of coffee and was laying on the sofa watching Toy Story.

My babysitting gig got cancelled. I was on the computer playing Scrabble and drinking my morning cup of coffee.

I went to check on the kids and Emily was laying on her side looking rather pathetic.

I asked her if she wanted something to eat.
She shook her head no.

I asked if she wanted some juice.
She shook her head no.

I asked her if she needed anything.
She pointed to me.

I let my coffee get cold, put my Scrabble games on hold and left the dirty dishes in the sink.

I sat on the sofa while she rested on my lap and rubbed her head. She just closed her eyes and relaxed. And if only for a few moments, I was all that she needed to feel better.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Free Money and Some Change

In my early 20's I worked at Discover Card for almost 2 years. I learned a lot.

We charge everything. We don't live beyond our means so this is not a problem for us. We pay our balance in full every month. We don't pay an annual fee on any cards. Therefore, we don't give any of our credit card companies a single penny throughout the entire year. They make plenty off of us though.

Most people don't know that the merchant you are buying from has to pay 3-4% of your transaction to the credit card company just for letting you use the card. For instance, if you charge $10 on your Visa at Starbucks, Starbucks then pays Visa 30 cents. Merchants do this because it's proven that most people will spend more when they pay by credit versus cash. Plus, they probably just inflate prices to cover this cost anyway.

I even pay my bills on my credit card as long as it doesn't cost anything. My cable, home phone and cell phone all charge directly to the card. Why not? It's one less thing I have to worry about paying on time and I get a rebate on everything charged. So, I'm making money by paying bills with my credit card.

Every February our American Express sends out the rebate check for Costco. This year, we got $288.57. We went last night and got all this stuff.

***We did not purchase Emily at Costco. :o)

In years past, we spent the rebate on fun stuff. Little splurges for ourselves and the kids that we normally wouldn't buy. This year, we mainly went for necessity. I did get the convection toaster oven that I'd been eyeing for months. I hate heating up the oven just to make croutons. Yes, I make my own croutons. Old bread + butter, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan = super yummy toppings for your salad. Much better than anything you'll buy in the store and you don't throw out the last few pieces of bread that start to get hard. I digress....

Our splurges were the toaster oven, cutting boards and a container of chocolate covered caramel macadamia nuts. Wow, are those delicious. Since David's recent pay cuts, we decided to spend the rest on things we need like toilet paper, paper towels, veggies, fruit, spaghetti and bug spray. In another effort to cut back, we've decided to spray our own home this year to forgo the $30 fee every month. We'll see how that goes.

We also ended up with over $60 on a gift card that we didn't spend. We need new home phones, so I think we will buy those with that.

I also had over 11,000 points on my Visa. We use this as a backup when places won't take American Express. I decided to request a $100 Home Depot gift card before the company goes bankrupt and I lose all my points. We made a trip there and got new shelves for our desk area and we have over half of it left which we will use for gardening supplies in the next month or so.

In the past week, we got almost $400 from our credit card companies and we've personally never given them a penny. Feels like free money!

Monday, March 2, 2009

I Spy

Emily has learned the "I Spy" game at school. Her teacher will often play it while they are waiting for parents to pick up their kids. It's become her new favorite game to play. We play it at home, at the store and in the car.

Emily, Ben and I were in the car while Daddy ran into the store for something quick.

And it starts...

"I spy with my little eye..."

It's finally my turn. "I spy with my little eye, something handsome."

Ben immediately puts his hand on his chest and says, "Is it me?"

I couldn't help but laugh. He can be so sweet sometimes.

We reenacted the moment here:

Of course, Emily told me I wasn't playing right and I had to pick a color.