Monday, April 27, 2009

A Great Start to the Day

As planned, I dragged myself out of bed at 6:15. Hayley had just gotten up as well. When she was ready for the day, she came into my bathroom where I was curling my hair. (Yes, you read correctly. I did actually curl my hair, but that's a story for another blog post!)

She asked how you curl hair and I offered to curl hers and show her. We spent about 15 minutes, just talking, playing with her hair and truth be told, playing with my hair, too. :)

As 7:11 approached (the time she walks out the door), I said, "This was nice, Sweetie. I really enjoyed talking to you." And you know what she said? "It was nice. I like talking to you, Mom."

Aaaaawwwwww! It's one of those precious moments that don't come around too often once they hit tween-hood.

What a way to put a smile on my face today! I'm trying hard to keep it there as I'm mired in work. (And if you read yesterday's post about me trying to work more hours, I've actually put in 3 hours today and it's only 11am!)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Know anyone who wants to buy a house in the Detroit 'burbs?

I know... laugh's on me, right? No one wants to buy a house in the Detroit 'burbs!

We heard from our renters that they're not renewing their lease come June. The husband was just laid off from GM. They own a condo a couple towns away and will move back there once their tenants move out in October. In the meantime, they can't afford to stay and pay the rent on our place.

So what do we do? Do we let them leave? Or do we offer to lower the rent to what they can afford just to have someone living there and paying at least a portion of the mortgage?

We've been expecting this to happen. I mean, the guy worked for GM. What else could we expect? But still...

I frustrated enough by the renter issue, but here's what I'm more upset about...

The past six years have been financially debilitating for us. I won't go into the details, but basically we went from a six figure income to just over the poverty level amidst promises (from Scott's then employer) of a much higher level of pay. There's no need to say how stressful that was and the degree of debt we went into to stay afloat.

Things have recently been better financially. Yes, Scott's current employer still owes up $15K in back pay, but we've been keeping up with the bills. More than that, I've been able to pay them down quite a bit.

That's not to say we're almost debt-free, but we were getting there. We finally had enough extra to do fun things here and there or buy a new cd or a cute shirt or a pretty potted plant.

I don't want to say all such spending is gone again because it's not. I won't let it. I'm sick and tired of the guilt I feel whenever I spend money. Really, will that ever end?

So here's my solution in the meantime... I will work more hours.

Are you laughing? You should be! How on earth am I going to fit more hours into the day? I work as many hours as I possibly can and still haven't gotten more than an average of 11 or so. I guess the answer is just buckling down, getting up earlier and sitting down at the computer at 8am and working till 4pm, with only short breaks here and there. And definitely no hour long lunch.

After all, I still have kids to take care of, meals to make, a house to clean, errands to run. I guess that's all weekend stuff now. How do full time working moms do it? I just don't know. Any delicious advice?

And just because our Michigan is so beautiful (and because it's for sale), here's a photo of it...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Take Your Kids (And Someone Else's!) to Work Day!

This is a day that Hayley and Em look forward to all year long. Daddy has been taking them into the office for probably five years now, spoiling them with treats and popcorn and soda. This year, though, has the added benefit that Emma's best friend, Ashlyn, came along. (Em was so excited last night that she couldn't sleep!)

In the past, Emma was too young to really understand we h so Scott just let the whole "job shadowing" thing go. It was really just a fun half day with Dad.

This year, though, I told him that I wanted the kids to actually learn something about what he does. He said, "Yeah, I'll have to think of some fun activities for them." I looked at him and rattled off a few suggestions. Which he loved, thank you very much. :)

So this morning dawned with Emma putting on a fancy "work" dress ("because you have to look nice when you go to work, right, Mom?") and Hayley putting on a non-wrinkled shirt and a pair of non-holey kneed jeans (which is about as nice as sheet dresses). They left on time and picked up Ashlyn -- I hadn't heard a peep since until just a few minutes ago.

Everything is going swimmingly! (And I don't mean they're swimming in the boss' pool which is right outside the office, although they would have if the weather had been warmer!) Scott had the three of them come up with concepts and design their own websites. Then they had to present to a focus group (Scott and two other employees), using the white board to illustrate their ideas! I love it!

Apparently they're loving it, too, because I could hear them giggling in the background. Scott got some photos that I'll put in here later today. When I drop Ashlyn off at home, I'm going to have the girls do their presentations again. I can't wait to see what they came up with!

And this time I'm going to get video! (I'll try to post that, too.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Growing Pains Aren't Just for Kids

Friday afternoon, we dropped Hayley off at camp for the weekend. Her first away camp! And what's more, she didn't know a single soul there!

She was a little nervous, but not much. She just wanted to know that we would walk around with her a bit so she could get her bearings. And when it was time for us to go... she asked half-heartedly, "Do you have to?"


"Ok! Bye!"

And that was that. At least as far as Hayley was concerned.

As we drove away through impossibly beautiful farmland, I couldn't appreciate any of it. My stomach felt as if I'd just competed in a chili dog eating contest. I snapped at Emma without meaning to and refused a stop at Dairy Queen.

(The only thing that perked my interest was the cutest calf nibbling grass by the side of the road. I wanted to stop and pet it but Scott told me it was a bull, so no. Are baby bulls dangerous? I guess I don't want to find out the hard way.)

Scott figured out what was wrong with me before I did. Growing pains. I was letting go of my baby for the first time. Sure, I've been away from her before, but she's never spent the weekend with strangers.

Would she make friends?
Would she remember to take her meds?
Would she be ok?
Would she be homesick?

In a nutshell, I was a wreck. Not crying, but truly miserable.

Forty-five minutes later as we got back on the freeway, the stomach ache finally lifted. I knew she'd be just fine. She was already making friends as we left. (Emma and I spied on her from behind a very large oak.)

It hit me suddenly that this wasn't the first time I'd felt this way. Hayley's first day of kindergarten was much the same. I'd been so excited, so ready for her to start school. Then as she got in line behind her teacher, I started to cry. The more I tried to control myself, the harder I cried.

And the one disintegrating (probably had been through the wash) tissue I found deep in my jean shorts pocket was not up to the task of cleaning me up.

I cried for the entire three hours of school that day. I mean sobbed. I thought I'd been ready to let her go, but I wasn't.

Same thing now. She was ready. I wasn't.

We pick her up at noon today. Want to come over later and see the holes I put in the floorboards trying to get to her faster?

Friday, April 17, 2009

As if I don't have *enough* projects!

My dear friend, Melanie, has an absolutely incredible talent for making cards. Honestly, they are so darned adorable! A couple times a year she'll send me a package of 10 or 12 cards and I love them all so much that I can't bear to actually use them!

(This is Melanie and her daughter, Gabrielle.)

Now I have a cupboard full of scrapbook supplies upstairs that haven't been used for actual scrapbooking in at least two years. And while my intentions are always there, well... the time for scrapbooking generally isn't.

So I finally decided to pull out all that paper and create some beautiful handmade cards a la Melanie.

Well, you know how it is when you have an abundance of supplies but nothing to actually work with? Hahaha. Yup, that was my problem.

I bought a few basic supplies, a few sheets of more current patterned card stock and some stamps.

And I jumped into the rabbit hole of card making!

I try to spend half an hour or so working on the cards each day, which isn't much, but it's what I've got right now. On Easter, I did actually get to spend 2 entire hours card making! Mostly without child assistance, too!

Obviously, I'm having a ton of fun with it all. It's a creative outlet that I can stop and start fairly easily. (And since writing my book is on hold, I need to create something, somehow!)

There are always more supplies I think I need, more buttons, brads, ribbons and papers. I'm really tired of shopping, though, so I'm trying to use what I have and only what I have.

You can all guess how well that's going!! LOL!

Seriously, though, I'm doing pretty well with that. I have a tendency to reinvent the wheel every time I discover a new talent simply because I refuse to go out and buy things. Maybe this time I should invest in some of the inexpensive tools that can make things easier. Time is of the essence, you know.

Here's the Question of the Day:

Will I actually be able to use my beautiful cards?

Use them? No. Donate them? Yes. I plan to make several stacks of cards and donate them all to the Intern Auction at church. (Eek! It just occurred to me that that is in just about three weeks! I better get working!)

You know where I'm off to!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Workin' the Gymboree system

Is there a mother out there that doesn't adore Gymboree clothes?

I certainly haven't ever met one. Love it though we may, we all agree that Gymboree is way overpriced.

But I bucked the system today! Woohoo!

On our drive home from CA a couple weeks ago, the girls and I stopped at a Gymboree outlet store. Emma practically lives in their knit dresses, so I was hoping to find some low-priced treasures. Sure enough, I bought four or five dresses (for both now and next fall/winter) for between $3.99 and $10.99.

I was pretty darned pleased. Em was, too. Thanks to her recent modesty development, she at least waited till I shut the car door before changing into one of the dresses. LOL

Annnnnnyway... I earned $25 in free Gym bucks so I headed over to the mall this morning to see what I could find for the least amount of money. Heeheeheeheee...

Check it out!

1 pr. of the softest light green cords you've ever felt
2 skirts
2 prs. of leggings (pink and green)
1 bathing suit
1 cover-up

$150 worth of treasures, all for the grand total of $40!!!!!!!

Woohoo! Uh huh! Oh yeah! Doin' the dance...

High quality clothing for way less than I could get similar (and much less cute) items for at (sweatshop-haven) Wal-Mart!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fishful Thinking Part 2

Last week, I posted about a great site I stumbled upon: Fishful Thinking. Its premise is to give parents the tools needed to teach our kids about optimism, dealing with challenges, spreading peace, positive thinking, etc. In short, teaching kids how to be successful throughout life.

Each week, Fishful Thinking offers a different activity to help promote those values. This past week was "Grateful Sayings". Per their instructions, I created a poster for all of us to write down what we were thankful for. I titled it "Grateful for God's Gifts".

After I created the poster, I introduced it at dinner. It was all I could do to keep the girls in their seats till everyone was finished. They were just so excited!

We spent the rest of the meal discussing the many things we're grateful for. By the time the girls were excused, they each had a lengthy list to write on the board.

Each day since then, I've caught both the girls and Scott writing down their thoughts, doodling little pictures and further decorating the board. At this point, there's little room remaining!

Here's what's on it so far... (I thought I'd share them since some of them are so amusing!)

Girl Scouts
All the wonderful things our parents do for us
Fairy Amy
old people/young people
new skillets
Jane Austen
Girl Scout cookies
holding hands
our family's names
hot showers
sweet and sour adventures
my 3 girls
violin, piano, trumpet music
great sky at night
made up songs sung lately
men's group at church
daytime IM's
beautiful hand drawn pictures to hang on my office wall

I have to say, though, that the highlight of the project thus far was when Hayley's Girl Scout troop came over. She immediately dragged them over to the poster and told them all about it! Gotta love that enthusiasm!

You've also gotta go check out this site. It really is phenomenal!

Deliciously Reviewied: Hannah Montana The Movie

Alright, I admit it! *blush times 10* I thought the new Hannah Montana movie was so darned cute! (Yes, I'm a 35 yr. old woman who really should hide her head in the sand for even thinking that! LOL!)

To begin with, I don't really like her show. In fact, I think it's absurd. But the movie, although certainly not forging new theatrical territory, didn't hang on to the insipid tones of the show.

Here's the plot: Hannah, after getting a bit too taken with being a celebrity, is dragged back to her hometown in Tennessee. She's followed by a paparazzi whose trying to figure out what her "secret" is. Of course he runs into all kinds of trouble because the town binds together to protect it's own -- even though they have no idea that Miley is Hannah Montana.

Now throw in the obligatory romance. I hate to call it "chemistry" when we're talking about 16 year olds, but Miley and the boy really were adorable together. (What's not to love about a cute guy in a cowboy hat?)

The music was so much better than Miley's previous songs. Don't get me wrong -- those other ones are fine and all, but nothing special. But Scott, the girls and I all left the movie singing and doing the little "clap dee clap" dance. (I was going to put a link to the YouTube video of it, but I don't want to lose all respect. LOL)

Now I'm not saying that each and everyone of you needs to run out and see the movie this afternoon, but merely that if you must accompany your pre-teen daughter to see it, you might just like it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Delicious course 101: Amusing yourself with poetry while waiting at the doctor's

To doctor, to doctor
to fix a pink cast
Wouldn't you know?
It's not such a blast.

To doctor, to doctor
Arrived right at eight.
Hope against hope
There would be no wait.

To doctor, to doctor
Were we ever wrong.
Third person in line
Already a throng.

To doctor, to doctor
An hour we sat.
Girls missing school
Ecstatic 'bout that.

To doctor, to doctor
We finally were called.
That she broke her cast
The doc was appalled.

To doctor, to doctor
He cut off her cast.
The white shriveled arm
was washed clean at last.

To doctor, to doctor
He put on a splint.
The wrap he pulled tight
Then left with a sprint.

To doctor, to doctor
Half hour past nine.
Much later than planned
But bones are aligned!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Illness Determinator 2000

Would someone please invent one of these things? Pretty please with sugar on top? Humankind has invented some pretty complicated things -- the internet, space shuttles and tv remote controls for goodness' sake!

So why can't someone invent a thermometer-like devise to determine if your child really is sick. It needs to read "Physically ill", "Mentally ill" or "Just plain faking it". And it needs to have a little display that says whether they're too sick to go to school or not.

Every parent of school-age children has been there. Kid wakes up on a school day. "My tummy hurts." "My throat hurts." "My pinkie toenail hurts."

What's a parent to do? Send her to school, risking the wrath of the secretary when she has to call you because said kid really is sick? Keep her home, completely changing all your plans around? Send her to school later in the day when she's bored enough to perk up and start playing like normal?

Trust me, I've done that last one. That's my general caveat when Hayley and Em get to stay home from school: "Sure, you can stay home. But if I determine that you're not really sick, I'm taking you in anyway."

But what's really getting me lately is Emma's mysterious stomach aches. They come and go at random. They don't seem to be related to food, nor stress. The pediatrician thinks it's constipation, but I happen to know (being her mom and privvy to all kinds of great stuff) that constipation is not the issue.

Most of the time, she starts hurting in the early afternoon -- usually between 1 and 2. She calls from school needing to come home. If I bring her home, she perks up as soon as we walk in the door. She's absolutely fine.

If I tell her to tough it out, I inevitably get another phone call half an hour later and end up picking her up anyway.

Run through the gamut of possible causes with me, will you?

  • Stress -- really not much for her to be stressed about right now
  • Nerves -- she is a bit intrepid about the upcoming WASLs (Washington Assessment of Student Learning) but her tummy aches go back three or four months so I don't think they're related
  • Tired -- she gets lots of sleep
  • Bored -- maybe academically, but she loves her friends and seems quite happy at school
  • Bullies -- not a single one
  • Abuse -- I've talked with her extensively and nope, not it

What am I missing? The only thing I can possibly come up with is that she wants to spend more time with me.

Honestly, that's kind of laughable. Aside from school and about 1.5 hours (Sunday school and violin), we are together. I play with her, cuddle her, read with her, help her with homework, etc. etc. etc.

I have been working a lot of hours lately, but I still make time to play with the girls. I'm certainly not ignoring them.

So what is it already? And what do I do? Do I continue to pick her up or keep her home? Her grades are great, but I don't want her missing school. I want her to toughen up. (I live by the creedo "Ow that hurts but I'm ok" and I teach my girls to do the same. They've never quite caught on, though.)

My Mom-o-Meter is broken. I just don't know what to do. Any thoughts or suggestions, oh Deliciously Wise Readers?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fishful Thinking

Wandering through one of my favorite websites, Mommy Track'd, I came across Fishful Thinking. It's a site dedicated to inspiring optimism and positive thinking in your children.

For those of you that know me personally, you know that I'm all about teaching my girls to be positive thinkers. It's not always easy with a naturally glass-half-empty kid on hand. But I do my best.

We talk about the highs of our days, how we can turn negative things around and how perspective changes everything. Talk isn't enough, though, and sometimes doing is just too frustrating for the kiddos.

So when I came across Fishful Thinking, I was immediately enamored with their suggestions. It was something else, though, that captured my full attention: a community of moms dedicated to helping their kids develop the skills necessary to succeed. With grim economic news, gruesome murder stories and notices about sex offenders coming home from school, our kids need to understand that positive thinking can change the world.

But positive thinking is a learned trait. Sure, some of us are naturally optimistic and that helps tremendously. Still necessary, though, are skills to get us through the tougher times, to impart to others when their own situations are less than ideal.

So join me, Delicious Readers, in teaching our kids/grandkids/extended family/friends about optimism, appreciation and silver linings.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ten dollars, four hours, two skeins of yarn and one exasperated mama

Hayley's cast is scratchy. I don't mean itchy for her (which it is), but scratchy on the outside. So when she brushes against someone else, we get scratched.

To me, it's the name of the game. It's not forever, so we put up with it.

Emma, though, is completely frustrated by the constant pain of getting scratched. So is Miranda, Hayley's best friend. (Hi, Miranda!)

So I suggested that I knit a cast cover. They all loved the idea.

After Hayley picked out the yarn (light blue), I got to work. Three hours Sat. night and another hour on Sunday. Good thing I've gotten faster at knitting, right? LOL

Never having done this before and as a not completely experienced as a knitter, I'm just glad it turned out at all. But...

Hayley most likely won't ever wear it.

It's a little big. Not much, not even enough to make it a big deal to most people. But she is a tweenager and starting to become more and more concerned about appearances. (Since she's holding her arm out in front of her in the photo, it looks bigger than it really is.)

Her arm is generally either hanging down or against her front, so the extra width would not even be noticeable. But there's no convincing otherwise. All you parents out there know what I'm talking about.

I can't say I'm frustrated because I half expected this. But I did work hard on it, put aside other work and stayed up late to get it together before she went back to school today, so I am exasperated.

Looking at it from a larger perspective, though, I have to remember that it's really not about the cast cover. It's about me taking the time to make something for Hayley, to make her feel special, to show her my love. You can tell by her smile in the photos that she's pleased to have something from Mom, even though she admitted she probably won't wear it.

Take a look at her smile below. Tell me... is it not worth at very least the ten dollars, four hours, two skeins and one frustrated mama.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I love Winter, but Springtime is so beautiful!

All of these were taken somewhere between Chico, CA, and the greater Portland, OR, area.
(And several were taken out the car window as we were driving, so forgive the blurry-ness and the occasional bug spots!)

Meeting Murphy

(Post from last Tuesday)

Howdy-Ho from Californ-i-o!

The girls and I are visiting my parents here in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in a tiny town called Magalia.

It's absolutely gorgeous now that Spring has Sprung -- the trees are budding and blooming, the tulips are popping up, there are fields of wildflowers on the sides of the freeways.

And it's truly amazing to see all the new growth in the areas that last year's horrible fires affected. Fire is a natural process (although this particular one was arson) and so the earth is turned and various species of plants grow where they weren't before.

But the highlight of our visit (and the original purpose) was to meet Murphy, my parents' new dog. Murphy is a three year old Doxiepoo. He is seriously the most unique looking dog I've ever seen. Check him out...

He's got four inch legs and long, long body that tapers towards his backside. His head is huge and his snout is loooooonnnnggggg. Murphy's crowning beauty, though, are his gorgeous golden curls!

My girls, Hayley especially, have been having the best time playing with Murphy. They've been playing with, training, feeding, brushing, cuddling and loving up this mellow little guy! And he seems to love every minute of it! (I'm not sure, though, who's loving it more -- him or Hayley!)

I do believe that when we leave on Thursday afternoon, I am going to have two very sad daughters.

Brushing Murphy's teeth....

Teaching him to sit...

Teaching him tricks...

Cuddling in the sun...

Lovin' him up...


trying to take him home!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Here I am! I didn't fall off the end of the earth!

I had intended to post while I was at my parents' house this past week and indeed, I did write a post, but was too busy to upload the accompanying photos.

Even now as I sit here in my own comfy rocking chair, sleepy and thinking of dessert, I'm too tired to upload those photos. Not that it takes all that much effort, but my laptop won't read the flash card. Thus I have to do it on the desktop and sometimes, I just want to watch tv while I'm working on the blog.

So, Dear Readers, you can look forward to reading last Tuesday's post on Saturday, complete with photos of the world's greatest dog. (I thought about using my standard "delicious" adjective, but that could too easily be misconstrued! Hahaha!)

For now, though, my pj's are calling, dessert is knocking and my knitting (yes, I'm actually somewhat successful now!) is begging to be picked up.