Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Triathlon

Well, the Christmas Triathlon is finally over. We have a very interesting family dynamic so we end up going to four different Christmas's. Since both of our parents are divorced, we get double the holiday festivities. Yay for us! Not really, that means being in more places in a shorter amount of time, bringing home twice the stuff to put away, and eating twice the food. Our holiday went like this:

Christmas Eve- Jake had to work until 2pm and when he came home we got a shit-ton (which is a unit of measure by the way) of snow, so he spent 2 1/2 hours shoveling, plowing and shoveling again. We had to be to my former step-dad's mom's house by 5pm for a Christmas thing. (This is my mom's ex but we are still involved as family. I know, I told you it was an interesting family dynamic.) So we made it to the festivities in spite of 7 inches of snow and partying til around 8pm to make it home by 9 ish so that Santa could get to work. My mom met us at our house and helped with the Santa preparations. Meanwhile, Jake went to his mom's house to shovel her driveway, as we would be having Christmas get-together #3 with her the next day and other people would be coming too. My mom and I finally finished organizing, wrapping and laying out all the present around 11pm. Exhausted. Went to bed and Jake came home around midnight.

Christmas -
The children woke us up promptly at 6am. Luci was pounding on the door to get to her presents so we opened presents around 7am. My mom had stayed the night (kind of a tradition) and so we all opened our gifts. Around 9am my aunt and cousin came over to open gifts and have breakfast. We got a late start on breakfast and it quickly became brunch. We did have a fabulous brunch though. By around noon, Jake had passed out watching TV and I let him sleep since he had basically shoveled from 2pm-11pm the day before. Around 1:30, I did have to wake him up since we told his mom we would be over between 1 and 2pm to open gifts. And none of us had showered yet.

So, by 3:30 we left the house to go to Jake's mom's. We were greeted by many hungry, eager-to-open-gifts family members. Well, sorry folks, 'cause Luci passed out in the car, so we'll now have to wait until she wakes up. So sit back and relax, it may be a while. We finally got to open gifts and eat around 5pm and came home around 8pm. Exhausted. Not feeling well, I went to bed around 11pm, again. Woke up at 2:30. Sick. Gross. Sick and not good. That's all I'm saying.

December 26-
I was up most of the night getting sick and decided I must have a 24-hour flu. Jake quarantined my bedroom and I slept most of the morning. We were supposed to go to Jake's dad's for Christmas festivities at 3pm. I knew I was definitely not going to make it, so Jake sucked it up and entered the world a brave, single daddy with two kids that were Christmas'ed out. All turned out well and they had a great time. All survived and I am glad to say that I am better. Jake actually recorded some sweet moments on the FLIP camera and he brought me a plate of food. My sweet sweet husband knew me like no other......instead of bringing me mashed potatoes and prime rib, he made me a dessert plate. Man, I love him!

Today-
Recuperating from "The Illness" I lounged all day.

I am glad that the holidays are over for another year. It is so much preparation for such a short period of time. As I lounged on the couch, I soon realized that I only have six days of Christmas break left, so I better make it good!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Card's Past

I put the 'pro' in procrastination, I tell you! Here we are, Dec. 20 and I have a nice huge pile of all the beautiful Christmas cards that friends have sent us. I have officially send zero cards as of this moment. However, procrastinate be damned, I just ordered ours online and they will be ready in about an hour. Thank God for Walgreen's!

As I contemplated what to put on the card, I revisited Christmas cards past. I remember the first card Jake and I sent as a married couple...... ah yes, the Merry Flippin' Christmas Christmas card. This card was so well planned and executed that I actually got phone calls about it! Picture this: A photo of Jake and I in Chicago O'Hare airport at 3am after nearly 18 hours of layovers and plane changes returning from our honeymoon in the Bahamas. The photo catches our emotions so eloquently. It is us giving the finger to the camera.

I layed out the card so cleverly and I was so proud. It was nearly 10 years ago now so the MasterCard commercials were brand new. Priceless.

The card read:

Gift for your wife: $100

Holiday party- $200

Showing all your friends and family how you really feel about the holidays.....Priceless.

Don't get me wrong, we were not nearly as cynical and bitter as we are now. It was just a funny card to send as a newlywed couple. I really need to find that picture, I'm sure I could use that again sometime. Maybe a before and after children card???

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Girl's Day

Luci and I very rarely get to spend quality time alone, but today it's just been me and Baby Moon. I've realized what a carbon copy of me she really is. She is so full of emotions and feelings, she will tell you exactly how she feels and has the most hilarious facial expressions. Case in point.......
Mischief

Curiosity

Love

Funny

Silly

Goofy

Talkative


Animated

Love

Mischief
Carbon Copy

Twin Stockings

I was reading my favorite blog the other day, M Cubed, which also happens to be my fabulous cousin Mandy. While looking at her Christmas pictures and Christmas happenings, I noticed that she had a picture of a mantel with stockings hung. I spied a very familiar looking stocking that said AMANDA on it.


Pictured here to the far left.

I commented that I had the same exact stocking with my name on it instead.
Seems our awesome Grandma Carol must have given us these stockings when we were little. Since Mandy and I grew up miles apart and really only met in our teens, we never knew that we had the same stocking. This just goes to show how rockin' our Grandma really is. It makes me wonder how many other little things that we may have that Grandma bought in two's!?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Denise

While I was working at the flower shop, I met quite a few interesting people. But none as memorable as Denise. Sweet, sassy, manly, Denise.

It was a Friday, late afternoon and I was about to get off work. At the time, I was in charge of helping customers when they came in . I would take orders, make arrangements and wrap things up for them. It was a pretty normal day, until Denise showed up. I heard the bell ring as the door slammed shut. I finished what I was doing and casually went out front to see if someone needed help. As I turned the corner I experienced feelings of confusion, curiosity, humor, confusion again and then acceptance.

Denise was very tall for a lady, maybe 6'4" or so. She wore a sandy blond, curly, shoulder length ladies wig and big glasses. Her glasses reminded me of Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. She wore a floral print long skirt and sweater. She was wearing high heels, but not new and fashionable, think orthopaedic old lady shoes. She reeked of cigarettes and cheap perfume and carried a large purse.

She seemed uncomfortable and a little nervous. I smiled and greeted her. She uncomfortably smiled back and turned the other way. I asked if she needed any help and she simply nodded her to let me know not yet. I fiddled around the cash register for a while trying to figure her out without her noticing my stare.

Now, I am very gay friendly and have many friends that are "the gay", as my best gay friend would call it. I grew up in an environment where I just understood that men have men friends and sometimes we call certain friends "auntie Craig." So, seeing a man dressed as a woman should not have been such a shock to me. I think, rather, it was the fact that she was such a poorly done tranny that I was confused by the most. Of all the gay men I know, none would have ever been caught dead in her attire. If I can say one thing about gay culture, it is that you do it in style, honey. Snap snap.

To continue, as I watched from afar, I questioned whether or not she really was a man or woman. I noted the details.
1. Very tall
2. Obviously wearing a wig
3. Walks like a man.

The bad clothes, choice of purse and shoes really threw me off though. I couldn't get past it and that is what made me wonder if she was just a really manly woman. As she looked in the cooler for a long time I finally, after about ten minutes, asked her again if she found anything. She faced me and the moment that helped me make my final decision that she really was a man happened. She had an obvious five o'clock shadow and said in a raspy, Jewish, New York accent, "Yes, I am having a dinner party and I need a corsage to wear on the lapel of my blazer." And as she said 'blazer' she laid her large, hairy knuckled hand on her collar. That hand gave it away!! She had the biggest hands I have ever seen with long fake press on nails. Any self-respecting queen would have had her nails professionally done, but she had obviously gone with the Lee Press on Nails.

I smiled and contained the laughter inside me and proceeded to take her order. She was very nice and told me all about how she was having a dinner party and wanted a corsage to pick up the next day. I finished taking her order trying not to fall apart and wondering where the hell were all my co-workers to see this!! (At the time, I worked with three respectable gay men that would have died to see her!) We finished the transaction and she agreed to pick up her order the next day, which was Saturday.

As she left the shop, I near fell on the floor laughing. The minute the door slammed shut I let out a blast of air, as if I had been holding my breath under water for the last 10 minutes. I scurried around the corner to the back of the shop to find someone, anyone that could catch a glimpse of her to validate my thoughts that she was, indeed, a man in a dress. As I found the first co-worker, which was the manager, I blasted, "DID YOU JUST SEE THAT!?" A confused and dumbfounded response, "What? That lady?"he said. "No, THAT was NOT a lady! That was the worst drag queen I have ever seen!" I replied.
"No, that was a lady. I saw her." He was not convinced either. (This manager happened to be a veteran gay who probably had seen his fair share of drag queens in his day.) I couldn't believe it, they didn't believe me!

The next day, I had off so I made sure that the manager was aware of the order so he could see with his own eyes when she came to pick up her corsage. On Monday, when I returned, the first thing I said before I even got my coat off was, "So, did you meet Denise?"
As his face exploded with laughter, I knew he had the same realization as me. Turns out Denise had come back the next day in her just-as-bad outfit the next day and picked up her corsage, reeking of cigarettes and cheap perfume.

Denise became a long standing joke and loyal customer. She returned every once in a while, wearing bad clothes and smelling like a shady disco club. She was always very sweet and uncomfortable. She would lay her cigarette outside the flower shop door and pick it up and proceed to finish it after she left. She always came to order flowers for friends or dinner parties. I always wondered who she was having dinner parties with. Did her friends see her as absurd as we did? Why didn't they tell her? Or maybe they were also a bunch of men that dressed so obviously as women. Maybe they didn't care and that's what I loved about Denise. She was a man wearing a dress and wig God damn it and by God she didn't give a shit! She was living her life the way she wanted to and being the person that she wanted to be.  She obviously didn't care what people would think of her and she was brave enough to embrace it.  We should all look at Denise not with a smirk or giggle, but with admiration and envy because how many people can honestly say they are living their life exactly as they want to live it?

Where ever you are Denise, work it girl!  Be yourself, honey and rock those orthopaedic shoes!

Elf Fail

Well, let's see......today was pretty uneventful except for a few things.
1. A first grader barfed during our whole school opening ceremony that we do every morning. We evacuated the area stat and then I had to begin my day by calming down a class full of grossed out second graders.

2. A student lost a tooth in my class within minutes of the barf evacuation. It was a first for me and I wasn't sure what to do so I kind of freaked out. He came up with tooth in hand and blood running down his chin, "Mrs. T, I just lost a tooth." I stuttered a few indistinguishable words and looked around, as if another adult would tell me what to do with him. When I realized it was up to me, I responded, "Uh, ok, uh well.......are you bleeding? Ok, yea. Go to the nurse." Minutes later he came skipping back with some tooth necklace that distracted him for the next 30 mintues until I took it away. Meanie teacher strikes again!

3. I forgot to move the f'n Elf on the Shelf last night and Ivan got up earlier than I did this morning!! F*&#! F&#$! Ivan woke me up with disappointment in his voice, "Mommy, Bob is still where he was yesterday. Maybe he didn't go to the NorthPole last night to report to Santa." As I silently cursed myself and the whole idea of that flippin elf, I devised a quick response. "Well, maybe he just liked that spot and he went back to it for another day. It was a good place to see and hear everything." To my relief, he bought it.
**Note to self, move the flippin elf tonight!!


4. I heard a song that reminded me of a funny story that I could easily write 2-3 blogs about. "Lola" by the Kinks reminded me of my first encounter with a transvestite, Denise. WBL- Will blog later.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I feel a little taller today.


Woooohoooo guess who's 32!!!

This cute chick!!

Alas, it is my birthday day and I am now, gulp, 32. Honestly, it's not that bad and it doesn't really bother me. It felt like any other day, really.

I woke up before the alarm went off, which always pisses me off. The children and husband gleefully wished me a happy birthday. Jake made the baby humans breakfast and I took a little longer shower than usual.

The children at school immediately realized it was my birthday and instantly wanted to know how old I was. (They always have this fascination of how old the teacher is.) Of course, I told them I was 100. Thankfully, they didn't believe me. I giggled at their responses and asked, "Don't I look great for my age!!" They roared in laughter.

They kept asking and wouldn't let it go, so I asked how old did they think I was? (Loaded question, I know.) The initial responses were positive though. A little girl shouts out 29! I spun around and gave her the game show pointed finger and said, "We'll go with that one!" Just then another student said I must be around 23. My smile grew as I made a mental note to make that little darling my new favorite. Then, some hellion said I was definitely 40. I made a mental note that he was now my least favorite.

After the conversation died down a little, ( I never did tell them I was 32) someone asked if I felt any different today. Too cute, since you know that someone has probably asked him that on his birthday. I answered that, no, I didn't feel any different. He looked serious for a moment and then said, "Well, I think you look.....taller."

The rest of the day was a battle and felt as if it would never end. They were beasts today and even the fact that it was birthday wasn't enough to get Problem Child to behave.

We did, however, write letters to Santa today, which was adorable by the way. I saw somewhere that Macy's is donating money to Make a Wish foundation for all the letters dropped off at their stores. Since Ivan is a Make a Wish recipient, I thought what better way to support the cause.

I found some cutesy paper and told the kids we would write a letter to Santa. First of all, they were so stoked. We talked about what types of stuff to put in the letter, like if they have been good, what they want, (but not too much because you don't want to sound greedy), whether or not they will leave cookies and such. One letter that I read said "Santa I will leve you sum cokies and mill. P.S. Don't spil the mill." That means milk. How cute is that!? This is why I love my job. Even Problem Child's letter made me smile, he wants a iPad, DSi, a gun and a car. Eeeeeeeerrrrrrt. Wait. A GUN!?!! I said, "Whoa, a gun. What do you need a gun for????" in a scared teacher kind of way. "Just a bb gun," he said. Breathe sigh of relief, whew. Still, Problem Child does not need a bb gun. Do you hear me Santa? HE DOES NOT NEED A GUN!!

After school, we had a staff meeting, which was short and sweet so I was happy. We congregated in my room afterwords taking funny pictures for our school Christmas card to send to other schools in our district.

Ivan's Christmas program was also tonight and pretty uneventful. Yesterday, I realized we had so much stuff going on and commented about how it was birthday, I had a staff meeting and the Christmas program. Ivan's response, "Well, I only sing one song. Do we HAVE to go, Mom?" He is not exactly the performing type. However, we went and had a good time. He actually sang the song and did the choreography that accompanied it. Proud and surprised as I was, I got to use my new FLIP camera. Yay!

We went out for dinner, had some cake and played before bed. I must say that I do feel a little taller today and 32 really isn't so bad after all.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Changes

"There's going to be some changes around here."
~Nurse Ratched
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Well, tomorrow I turn 32 and some things have been on my mind that need to change soon. By the way, if you want to get me a birthday gift, I really want this. Body Media Armband
It's only $250 and it goes along with #1 on my changes list.

1. I NEED to loose some of this "baby weight". My children are now 6 and almost 3, so I can't hang on to this excuse that "I have kids" much longer. I really really want an elliptical machine for my house, but Jake doesn't agree. He thinks it is a waste of money and space. I have tried the gym membership before and never get my money's worth. I usually go for the first 4-5 months and then life gets in the way. I really need something that I can do to exercise at home or extremely close to home. I don't have time to drive all over creation to get to a gym. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

2. Since I will be 32 in a matter of hours, I think it's about time that I take up a new hobby. I have been thinking about being a master cookie baker or something like that ( this probably won't help my weight loss efforts, however). I have lots of friends that have a cooking niche. My fabulous cousin is insane about making scrumptious ice cream and cupcakes, my sister in law is all about cakes and desserts, and another cousin is all about casseroles and such. If I have a niche, maybe I will seem more interesting or at very least, I will have something better to do with my time, rather than watch TV.

3. I vow to figure out the composting thing this Spring. I had every intention of doing it last Summer, but I was so consumed by finding a job that I said screw it. My garden did pretty good last year, but I really would love to add my own compost to it.

4. I have to quit buying stuff on ebay. My addiction has caused me to buy the same Christmas book for my classroom that I already had. Crap! Which reminds me.....

5. I need to organize my classroom library a little better. I think I need a different system. I have no idea what books I have and even if I do know that I have a certain book, I don't have the faintest idea where it's at! I feel like the beginning of the school year was such a whirlwind that I didn't have the time or know-how to organize all those books. Maybe this is a task to tackle after the new year.

6. I have to take better care of my car. My poor car is a big trashy, toy boxy, over-due-oil-change, kind of mess. We plan on buying a new 2011 Mustang in the Spring, so I guess I better get used to it. The toys aren't my fault, but they keep the kids busy while we are en route. The trash and oil change are my fault, however. I have no excuse other than lack of time or motivation. I keep telling myself once I have the new car I will definitely feel inclined to keep it clean. And I have already been getting the kids prepared for no drinks in the car ( so when the time comes, it's not such a culture shock)!

I know this stuff may seem petty to some, but little stuff like this weighs on my OCD mind. Maybe it's the 'over achiever' in me, but sometimes, you just gotta make a list!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Damn you, over achiever!

In the last week, I have been called an over achiever twice. Twice! I admit that I am an only child (gasp) but I'm not THAT bad. Am I? Today, I was called an over achiever because I put some thought into my door decoration at school. God for bid if I should spend more than 20 minutes planning and executing a door decoration. I thought my idea was super cute and I know that the kids will love it.

My door decoration looks like a fireplace scene with Santa's boots in the fireplace. I am having the kids make stockings with their names on them to hang on the mantel that I created. I used some glitter glue to write "Welcome Santa" on a rug in front of the fireplace. Leave it to me to raise the bar by "going all out" on my door. Really? I spent a whole half hour and now I'm an over achiever. Either I really am an over achiever or other people just have very low standards. Wait....is that the definition of an over achiever??

Elf on the Shelf

I have been hearing about this Elf on the Shelf from co workers at school for the last two weeks, so I decided that we should try this little Christmas trickery with our own children. It sounded like a cute idea and a way to keep the kids motivated to be good from now until Christmas. I did some searching of the internets ( yes I said internets) and found that one could find the elf at most Hallmark stores.



So over the weekend, I went in search of an elf. I went to our local Hallmark and they were out but I was in luck because a cute, little, over-priced kids boutique in the shopping plaza also sold them. I don't understand how I missed the huge window display of elves as I drove by, but I did. After forking out $30 for an elf and book, I started plotting.



How was I going to present the elf? Beacause you know, presentation IS everything! I really wanted to introduce the idea Sunday night, to avoid the Monday morning rush and trying to read, explain and answer questions about this mysterious elf in our house. After talking to my mom, we came up with an idea. I would wrap the box in a paper and place it on the front step. In the mean time, I would have the children go upstairs to clean their room. ( Good ploy on both parts, kill two birds with one elf, right?) Jake would call up to them to come downstairs as I rang the door bell and bolt to the couch, where I would pretend to be vegging out. (Easy enough to believe, really.)



The plan worked and as I "answered" the door to see who was there, Ivan came to see also. I looked curiously around and "noticed" the package on the steps. "Who could this be from?" I asked. Ivan is beginning to read, so with gusto he read "Santa, Santa's Workshop, North Pole. It's from SANTA!?!"




Luci quickly jumped to the window to see if she could see him. Much to her avail, he was already gone. We quickly opened the package and found the elf and the book. I read the book, which explains that the elf is Santa's helper that has magic powers and flies back to the North Pole every night to report back to Santa about how the children have been behaving. The book explained that every morning he will return and we will have to find him hiding in the house somewhere.

**The catch- he is magic, so we can not touch him or he will loose his magic powers and won't be able to return to the North Pole to report to Santa.


For the full details : http://www.elfontheshelf.com/



We also had to quickly name him, because his magic powers will not work until he is named. After much discussion, confusion and contemplation, the children named him Bob. So Bob sat on top of the China cabinet last night.


While Luci was thoroughly enchanted and amused by the whole thing, I got the feeling that Ivan wasn't buying it. As they went to bed, Ivan asked a ton of questions, which continued tonight at bedtime. While he was the first one up this morning and looking for Bob, he still isn't buying it. This was tonight's conversation:



Ivan- "Mommy, when you put him on the China cabinet, what did he feel like? Was he like a plastic toy?"


Me-"Well, he was kind of soft, warm and tingley. "


Ivan- "Was his face plastic feeling? I think it's just a toy. "


Me- "Well, I thought he felt soft, warm and tingley and sometimes you have to believe. Please, don't talk too loud or he will tell Santa that you don't believe!


Ivan- "I do believe. I just think that Bob is a toy."


Me- "Well, then, how did he get here? Where did he come from? How did he move to another spot this morning?"


Ivan- "He came from the North Pole! And I think you moved him last night!"


Me- "Well, I know that I didn't move him and Daddy didn't either and so I believe that he is a magic elf. You can believe whatever you want. Goodnight!"



Now, my problem, you can see is that I have a highly logical child that has always been taught that there are no monsters, that things happen for a reason and there is an explanation for everything. Seems that backfired on me, didn't it??

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Almost Hoooowwlloween

Somethings that happened today:
1. I got to leave school early today due to a dreaded doctor visit. But bonus was that I only worked until noon.

2. I got to eat lunch in peace and all alone at Panera Bread today. I usually don't go there just because it's a little kitchy for me but I will admit that the food rocked.

3. I went to the Neonatal ICU to see my best friend's baby, Lucas. He was so tiny and sweet. I loved watching my friend and her husband with their new baby. It was so amazing to watch them work together just to change a diaper. The new parent fumbling are sweet and endearing to witness.

4. I went to the dreaded doctor appointment and was pleasantly surprised. I have had an alien lump growing in my throat for a little over a year now. I have been back and forth and trying different meds but apparently, the little bugger has grown. The doc and I agreed that it was time to stop playing Mr. Niceguy and remove it. Although the recovery time is two weeks, I am excited to get it done and over with. We think that I can hold off until summer break so that I don't have to miss much school. I go back for a followup visit in February.

5. Enough of that, has anyone seen the beautiful moon lately?!? I think the full moon is technically on Sat. but it sure looks full to me. I think I'll howl at it. Ow Ow OOOOOOwwww!

6. Luci is a beast. Tonight I cut up a carmel apple for her and Ivan and later she found a nut on the table. After holding it for a long time, I asked "Are you going to eat it or not?" She thought. "Not!" she said as she tossed it over her shoulder onto the floor. Good thing we have two famished dogs.

7. I forgot that Ivan's snack day was tomorrow, so I had to run like hell to get to the grocery store and back so that I could bathe the beast children before bed. Cheese on Cheese it is!

8. I am STOKED that tonight is Criminal Minds night. I think Dr. Reed is a hottie. Plus I really like his new haircut.

9. How the hell does my fridgerator keep getting so friggin dirty! I feel like I just cleaned and wiped it all out and the bottom is all sticky again! Who keeps spilling juice, koolaid, tea or whatever it is!?! I need a fridge cam.

10. Speaking of the doctor appt. Did I mention that it is extremely hard to focus on the important health facts at hand, when I can't get over the fact that my doctor looks exactly like John Malkovich!

11. After some though, I think a fridge cam would be a bad idea. Too many evidence photos of me when no one is looking.

12. I'm super excited for the weekend because our friends Shane and Laura are having a house warming/birthday party. I am so ready for a party that isn't at my house. Only down side is that we will be taking the kids, so I can't dance on the table.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's been years.....

I know it's been a million years since I've posted on this here blog, but I've been a little busy. Since the end of July, I have had such a whirl wind life experience!

I was just about to concede and accept that I may not be teaching this school year. I had researched the ideas of making and selling crap on etsy and ebay. And low and behold....I got the call. I had an interview for a second grade position in the district where I student taught last year. With a huge ball of nerves and new business suit, I entered the interview and totally nailed it. I got the call the very next day and it was all I could do not to scream into the Principal's ear when she told me I got the job.

The task that lay ahead was something that I had studied, waited and prepared for for years! Upon gaining access to my new classroom just one week before district meetings began, I walked in to find this......

Please take notice that I didn't even have a teacher's desk yet. Not to mention that I still had to move all my own stuff in. Needless to say, it is now mid-October and I finally feel settled in.

My class is reasonably small, only 16 students, but holy shit they are wild! The first 6-7 weeks was me being a bad ass drill sergeant and maintaining balance and sanity. We have finally reach a point that I can ease off them a little bit and we are having some fun.

Besides that, Ivan started first grade and is doing great. He's reading and writing and loving it....well, not exactly. But he's doing it! He's becoming a good reader but a reluctant one. I keep trying to entice him with cool books but he's still not interested.

Luci is almost three and has a ton of sass and attitude. She's trying to figure out the potty thing and likes getting stickers when she goes. The other day she went on the potty and I told her she was a big girl. She replied with, "Can I go to school now?" I know who my scholar will be.

Jake and I took a much needed weekend trip to Starved Rock State Park for a weekend without kids and it was wonderful. We ate, shopped, ate, hiked and ate some more. It's amazing to me how much I enjoy his company when we have time alone.

Halloween is upon us now and I just pray that the coming months won't be nearly as scary as the previous!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Soap Obsession

I have a new obsession......homemade soap. When I bought a small bar at the Farmer's Market several weeks ago, I didn't realize the can of worms that I was opening. I bought a Rosemary Mint bar to go with my new favorite shampoo and conditioner purchased on a separate shopping adventure. Well, since then, I have decided to try making my own homemade soap.

In the last week, I have been researching, reading and asking tons of questions about soap making. I have become a bit obsessed with it. I am constantly thinking of questions and making mental notes about what to look for on the Internet. After much consideration, I decided to try my hand at Melt and Pour process soap making. There is a Cold Process soap making but it involves making soap from pure Lye, which is a hazardous material and must be handled with extreme caution. Being that the kids are likely to be present whilst my soap making commences, I figured this is probably not the best process for me, right now.

After more research, I found a company, Brambleberry, that sells wholesale soap bases, essential oils and all soap making supplies. Talk about being a kid in a candy store! I couldn't believe the vast array of oils and soap bases. After looking, for what felt like hours, I decided on a mixed soap base started kit that includes 1 lb each of their top 7 selling soap bases. It includes hemp, goat's milk, clear glycerin, white glycerin, honey, aloe and shea. Talk about variety!

The essential oils were amazing to look at and read about all the healing properties of each. I decided on about 7 different oils that I can mix and match together.

My order should be here early next week and I can't wait! I have been watching YouTube videos for different ideas about soap making. I have also been clipping herbs from my garden to include in the soaps, to serve as an exfoliant. I have clipped and dehydrated about a pound of herbs so far. My mom also clipped some lavender from her garden for me.

After my order gets here, I will post my first attempts at homemade soap making. We'll see how it turns out!

Wildlife Prairie Park


We have a hidden little jewel in Central IL: Wildlife Prairie Park. Let me be the first to say that this is the best thing that Central IL has to offer in my opinion. I have always taken the kids to the park in the spring and summer but this year, since they are both getting older and a little easier to do fun stuff with, I decided to buy a year long pass.

When I looked into it in early April, I found out it was very reasonable. I bought a pass which allows me to bring up to three guests with me at a time. I opted for this package rather than just the family pass because I knew there would be occasions that I would want to take my mom or cousin Amanda with us. Since Luci is only 2 she is free anyways, so this package seemed to make the most sense. The best part? It was only $75 for a whole year.

We will probably go to the park at least 10 times from the spring to fall, so this ended up saving tons of money. We usually pack a lunch and go in the late morning and stay until 1 or 2 pm. There is so much to see and the kids love it. Last week, since the weather was semi-cooperative, we went to see the bears, cougars and whatnots.

Ivan walking the trails and being an adventurer.

Luci with a treasure that she found on the ground.


Big bears galore at WPSP.




Busy Week

I know it's been about a week since my last post, but odd as it seems, I've been busy. Not busy as in I-have-been-working-60-hours-a-week, but busy none the less. Some things we've been up to:

1) We went camping a few weekends ago and I decided to embark on a camper DIY renovation. We have a really tacky, broke down ass camper out at my step-dad's lake. Don't get me wrong, we love it! It serves it's purpose, keeps us dry and provides great storage for easy camping. But, it is very old, circa 1962 and very out of date. So I decided to jazz it up a bit and add some retro decorating. The ceiling had formerly been covered by some type of wall paper/ plastic coating of some sort that has been removed. It looked kind of tacky.

So I did this.


I decided the camper needed a little color so what better than to cover the ceiling in a patch-work of retro paper??
The kids were excited about it!
It turned out pretty good, but I didn't get it all done. I only worked on it while Luci was napping, so I will have to finish it later in the summer/fall. We plan on keeping our free camper for a while, so why not dress it up!?


2) While camping I got to read some fun magazines. Food Network magazine was one of them and has quickly become my new favorite magazine. I saw this recipe for Taco Burgers on the front cover and had to make it.


It turned out really good and I will definately make them again.

3)I have a new favorite kitchen tool. I got it as a gift for Christmas but I am just now realizing the vast potential for this awesome invention! It's from Pampered Chef, which I have heard a lot about but never been to a party. Love this cutter though! I always tell Jake that crinkle cut cheese tastes so much better anyways! Thirty seconds later......

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Day in the Life....

So, today was one of those days that started out terrible and ended up being a highly productive day. Here's how it all began....
I went to bed last night at 10:30 and fell asleep like I was in a coma.
2:00am- Jake wakes me up and says he needs to turn the light on. Turns out, the puppy peed on the bed. So we got up and started peeling blankets and sheets off the bed. Then we had to clean up the actual pee and spray the magic enzymes on the wet spot.

2:30am- Jake takes his position on the couch and I went upstairs to share the bed with Ivan.

3:00am- Still awake--listening to Luci sleep restlessly, rolling around.

3:34am- Awake still.

4:09am- I hear thunder! SHIT!

4:10am- I ran downstairs to get Phoebe (the older dog) who is deathly afraid of thunder. Too late, because she already peed on the kitchen rug. Oh well, easier to clean than a mattress! I herded Phoebe into her kennel, cleaned up the pee mess and went back to bed.

4:30am- Probably fell asleep, coma style again.

7:16am- Ivan and Luci are awake and they go downstairs.

7:45am- Jake yells upstairs and says that Luci's diaper has leaked and there is pee everywhere. God! Enough of the pee already!

7:48am- Luci gets her 1st change of clothes for the day, along with an impromptu bird bath.

8:15am- While watching cartoons with the kids, Luci gags and pukes up milk on me. Yay! Oh well, I have a shit ton of blankets and sheets to wash today anyways.

8:16am- Luci gets her 2nd change of clothes for the day.

8:30am- I made breakfast. Nothing fancy, egg and cheese sandwiches, since my day has not exactly started out stellar.

8:46am- I started the laundry triathlon.

8:50am- Dishes have begun to pile up so I started loading the dishwasher.

9:30am- Changed out the first load of laundry and continued dishes.

10:10am- Changed another load of laundry. Not bad! 3 loads by 10am! It's leading to a super productive day!

10:15am- I noticed the 5 gallon bucket of green beans still sitting in the kitchen and thought I should start the process for processing and freezing them. After all the picking in the garden, I certainly didn't want them to go to waste.

11:08am- Whilst in the midst of blanching green beans and preparing them for freezing, Jake calls and requests that I go to the garage and unplug a charger. I agree and quickly get off the phone before I mess up the beans.

11:20am- Green beans are all done and some are vacuum sealed for freezing. The others will be served in green bean casserole tonight for dinner.:) Yummy and well worth the hassle.

11:24am- Luci needs a drink so I make her some juice. While making juice I decide today is a good day to make sun tea since it's like 1000 degrees outside.

11:45am- I go to the garage to unplug the said charger that Jake requested. While out of doors, I got the mail and took a 5 minute break on the deck while reading the mail. I got a baby shower invitation from a cousin who is due in Oct. After the day I've had, I want to tell her to run, turn the other way, hide, whatever! Just don't do it! Instead, I'll probably buy her some butt cream and burp towels or something.

11:50am- Realized that since I was making ice tea, I should probably make ice since I used all our to blanch the green beans.

11:53am- Did the rest of the dishes from the green bean process.

12:10pm- Lunch production begins. Mac and cheese, since that's what Ivan wanted.

12:45pm- While putting away lunch ingredients, I notice a bunch of expired and nasty left overs that were hangin out in the fridge. So, I cleaned out the fridge and threw away half the fridge contents.

1:02pm- Changed laundry again. Ooops, I think I changed it another time before this but I can't remember.

1:09pm- Luci is a beast and needs a nap, so I laid her down.

This was as far as my log went because after I laid Luci down, I crashed on the couch and slept until about 4pm when Jake came home from work.

It was a productive day but I am glad that it's over. This is just a sampling of a day in the life of a stay at home mom. People think that it's easy to stay home and take care of kids, but let me tell you, there are days that I would much rather work at Kohl's, Target or something. No, I don't just sit on the couch and eat bon bons all day while watching my programs. It was a great reflection to keep a log like this today because, many days, I feel like, crap where did the time go today?!

Jake and I made an awesome dinner tonight. Jake made killer BBQ pork chops on the grill and cheesy au gratin potatoes in the oven. I made some awesome green bean casserole with the fresh green beans that I processed today. Everything turned out excellent!

So, now I sit here blogging about my day while sippin on a homemade Bartontucky milkshake and watching all the drama on Real Housewives of Jersey. I see all their drama and think to myself....my day wasn't all that bad!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Too much TV

Some recent observations and rants:

1) The humidity can be gauged by Luci's curls. The more humid it is, the tighter the curls in her hair get. The girl has crazy hair as it is and the humidity makes it 10x's worse.

2) Oh Hardees-This new marketing campaign for your hand-battered chicken strips. Do we really need the greasy, pimple-faced teenager to touch my food any more than he already does? Is it really necessary that instead of grabbing frozen chicken strips with tongs, now he has to handle my raw chicken and hand-batter it? As if I really will eat at Hardees anyways. Never again. Not since the button I found in my cheeseburger. Gross!

3) Law and Order marathons are not conducive to being a productive individual. It is so easy to get sucked into one episode after another. I have found that the only way to escape the cycle is this: when I see DICK WOLF's name, I have to turn it or turn it off because if see the even the first minute of the next episode, I'm screwed. They should have to provide a disclosure about the addictive nature of that show.

4) The ASPCA commercials get me every time. They have to play the most heart breaking music and show the most sad little furry faces. I saw one yesterday that had two dogs that look just like mine. It tore me to pieces, but yet, I couldn't change the channel. I felt like, if I turn the channel, I'm turning my back on those poor animals. Damn advertising ploys.

5) I saw a commercial yesterday for an awesome new show: Cupcake Wars. I have to watch this! I'm going to have to find it and set the DVR because I never remember when things are on.

As you can probably tell, I have been watching too much TV in the last few days. It's been too stinkin hot to be outside so we have been veggin out inside. I need to find other things to do though because my brain feels a bit extra mushy from all the Law and Order and bad commercials.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Riverfront Relaxin'

Today we went to the Riverfront Farmer's Market again. This time I took the kids with me and we had a great time. I was so excited to find a new handmade soap.....and bonus that is it Rosemary Mint. I just bought Rosemary Mint shampoo and conditioner this week that I am in love with, so you can imagine how elated I was to find matching soap! It smells so good that I could easily take a bite of it, although I don't think that you are supposed to ingest sodium hydroxide, whatever that is. I was just very impressed to find such a good quality soap handmade right here in Central IL. The packaging says that the lady that makes it lives on a farm in Hanna City, which is a small town about 15 minutes from our house, population around 200.
Ivan and Luci had a good time laying in the grass.
My kids are extremely laid back....literally.


Ivan likes watching the sea gulls fight over food.

And Lu was on a mission to climb anything she could find.
After the relaxing morning on the riverfront, I agreed to take them to Chuck E. Cheese, which was ok because I really just wanted to wear them out so Luci would take a good nap before the fireworks tonight!
While at CEC I ran into one of my students with his family. This was my first experience of running into a student outside of the school walls. He was cute though and gave me a big hug and asked what I was doing there. Of course, he's only 8 so he doesn't yet realize that his teacher doesn't sleep/live at school! Ivan still thinks it's funny that my students call me Mrs. T. I must admit that I do too!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wonders of Childhood




On a recent trip to Wildlife Prairie Park, I watched my children play and was absolutely amazed to see their excitement, discovery and adventure of it all. A simple sand box and iron animal statues where more enthralling than the park itself!

Ivan found a frog statue to climb on and it became an adventure.
Luci enjoyed drawing in the sand.
It's an awesome thing to see your kids playing and enjoying the Earth's wonder. It's hard to imagine life through their eyes.

Adventures in Pork Roast

Two days ago, I set out to create a fabulous dinner. The bargain shopper that I am, I found a 2.5lb pork roast in the "meat clearance" section, as I call it. It was only $4, so I thought I could make an easy dinner on the cheap.

I took it out the day before to thaw because I froze it right away, but that's the down side to buying food from the "meat clearance" section, it is very close to expiration if not eaten or frozen. So, I let it thaw in the fridge for a day and that evening Jake seasoned it with our new favorite seasoning. Butt Rub. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it's awesome. We picked up a small shaker at a Gourmet food store in St. Charles, MO and fell in love. It's great on pork, chicken and beef. Jake just recently found a store that sells it locally and bought a bulk container of it. I'm off track.....

Anyways, Jake seasoned the roast and we let it marinate over night. In the morning, I put the pork in the crockpot and added a can of beer, 1/2 cup water, salt, and pepper. I set it on low for 8 hours and went to see Eclipse.

When I came home later in the day, it smelled awesome! I couldn't wait to check it. It was already pretty tender and flakey. Jake decided we should put it on the grill for a few mintues to give it a nice charred edge. While he played with the kids, I prepared some homemade steak fries. I took 4 potatoes, quartered them into steak fry shape and put them in a bowl. I added about 1/2 cup EVOO, I just eyeballed it. I also added some Italian seasoning from a shaker and some Butt Rub. (I'm addicted to the stuff.) I tossed it around to cover the potatoes and we were good to grill.

Jake heated the grill and away we went. He seared the pork for about 10 mintues on each side while cooking the steak fries. We have a gridle for our grill so he heated that and threw the potatoes on it. Since they were covered in the EVOO, they had a great sizzle and fried very nicely. Within 20 mintues or so, we were ready to eat. I'm sorry I forgot to take pictures, but I was so excited to eat, I lost all judgement. Next time, I promise. The meat turned out very sweet, tender and crispy in part that were grilled. Ivan and I shredded ours and ate it on a bun with some BBQ sauce. Luci, Jake and Amanda ate there's just by itself.

Here's my recipe:

Pork Roast

2-2.5lb Pork Roast
1 can Beer
1/2 cup water
Salt & Pepper
Butt Rub seasoning

Thaw roast ahead of time and marinate with covering of Butt Rub seasoning overnight.

Add roast to crockpot with 1 can beer and 1/2 cup water.

Add salt and pepper.

Cook on low setting for 8-9 hrs.

After cooking all day, remove roast and sear on grill for about 10 mintues on each side.



Steak Fries

4 Potatoes
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp Butt Rub

Quarter potatoes in steak fry fashion.

Add 1/2 cup EVOO, italian season and Butt Rub seasoning, and potatoes in bowl.

Toss until potatoes are completely covered in mixture.

Fry on the grill or in pan. Turning as sides become crisp.

Extrordinary Finds

Super excited because I went shopping the other day and made a few awesome purchases!

1) I bought a great smelling, yummy new shampoo and conditioner. Rosemary Mint. Tell me that doesn't sound awesome. It smells so good, I think it could be used as a glaze or marinade for chicken.

2) I bought a new eco-friendly, phosphate free dishwasher soap. I am a total bargain hunter and it was just as cheap as the off brand. It is by Palmolive and I can't wait to try it. It's Apple Citrus Splash. It just sounds clean, doesn't it?

3) Ivan got a Nerf gun for his birthday that he already had, so we agreed that I would exchange it and buy him a new pair of shoes. As luck would have it, they had one last pair of Toy Story 3 shoes, in his size! And they light up! Victory is mine! I can't wait for him to come back from his 3 day camping/fishing/four wheeling trip to see them.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ease my Mind and Soul

Today was a wonderful, relaxing day. I got to sleep in this morning and then decided to go to the Riverfront Farmer’s Market. This was the first Saturday that I have had time to go and it was well worth it. The market has loads of fresh fruits, veggies, organic herbs, farm fresh eggs and homemade baked goods. There is also an area where local artists set up shop. There are hand crafted ceramic bowls, photography, hand made jewelry, and blow glass wares.


I perused the local fare for a while first and then headed to the artist area of the market. I could literally spend hundreds of dollars on all the hand crafted blown glass, kids apron dresses and jewelry. I ran into a friend that is a yoga instructor and tried my hand at yoga.


I have never really done yoga, although I have always wanted to try. I will say that it was the most relaxing, soul healing, happiness evoking experience ever. We set up in a shaded area in the grass along the river, under a huge beautiful tree. The relaxed atmosphere was enough to put me to sleep alone! Add in a beautiful day, the sounds and scents in the air, I was truly at peace. The live music added to the perfect mix and made the whole experience more euphoric. I sat under the huge tree that we meditated under earlier and people watched for a while.


It was everything that I needed and exactly what I wanted. I will definitely go back again in the near future!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Diggin in the dirt

I resurrected my garden this year, which was a huge triumph! Last summer, I didn’t do anything with it because I was taking a full summer class load. This year, I spent more time and effort by putting down weed stopping black paper. Two years ago, I planted straight into the ground without thought and had a garden full of weeds. This year, I out smarted those weeds and thought it through first. Let’s just be real honest, I don’t have time or energy to weed a garden every day! So far, weeds are at bay and veggies are coming along swimmingly!
I can’t wait to start pickin’ stuff to cook with. I also planted two containers with herbs out in the front of the house. I have oregano, cilantro, basil, parsley and sage. I used some cilantro to make a yummy corn and black bean salad for Ivan’s birthday party. Gotta love fresh cilantro!

Soon I will have Big Boy tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, Yellow, Orange, Red and Green bell peppers, JalapeƱo peppers, Serrano peppers, sweet banana peppers and some Mexican spicy something that I forget the name. I also planted two different beans, one is a pole climber and that other is a petite green bean. My cucumber is taking over the back half of the garden and will surely have a few hundred cucumbers, I’m sure! This is also the third year for my strawberries and I have already picked probably a gallon so far. They are blooming again and hopefully we will get another gallon or so. My mom recently gave me several raspberry plants that I planted on the edge of the woods. I haven’t seen any berries yet, so maybe later in the year!

Diggin’ in the garden makes me so happy and knowing that I have grown something for my family to eat makes it taste even sweeter!