Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday night leftovers

  • Risking sounding like a broken record - but seriously. Nothing is more fun than Christmas-time with my kids. I love it.

  • Last night, we watched the Polar Express. Cam LOVED it. A train AND Santa. It couldn't get any better. I was nervous for a bit, with the whole doubting Santa stuff - but once they got to the North Pole? It answered all of Cam's questions about where the Elf goes every night.

  • Last night, our dog, Henry, was laying in Maggie's room while I read her bedtime stories. He didn't get up and leave when I left and closed the door. About 10 minutes later I was looking for him, and I realized he was in Maggie's room. I opened the door and he is sitting next to her crib, and Maggie is petting him through the bars. The minute the door opened, he sprinted out - and then Maggie cried for 'Enry! for a good 20 minutes.

  • I volunteered to help as a 'costumer' for the 'Nativity in the Trunk' service at church. Turns out that means I needed to iron like 50 costumes. God. Damn. It. So I insisted we turn it into a ironing party, and I had two other women at my house last night ironing all the damn costumes. When will I learn?

  • My mother-in-law arrives today. I told Cam about it, and he said 'I'm GB's best friend.' I doubt my son could be any cuter.

  • We are going to the Rockettes this afternoon!

  • In true Maggie style, she insists on putting her jacket on MYSELF each morning. This is the result if I don't set it up for her to flip:

  • And if I DARE suggest that it's wrong? Forget about it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


A picture's worth a thousand words, right? So these will help explain what I was trying to talk about yesterday!

Here is Cam helping Aaron put the lights on the tree:
This is a picture of Maggie painting those hand print ornaments I was telling you all about the other day. Cam painted one (both kids made 5). Maggie stayed and painted all 5, and wanted to do more. Makes me think that the present that my mom is getting her (the easel) is going to be a HUGE hit.

One of my friends holds an annual gingerbread house making party. Cam is finally old enough to go, and he had a BLAST!

He wanted to only put the orange candies on his house. At least the kid is consistent.

Final picture? Aaron and I took the kids to the mall, and after walking around for 30 minutes, I notice that Maggie has a candy cane stuck to her sweatshirt.

She is completely obsessed with the candy canes on the Christmas tree, and sneaks them at any opportunity. Aaron and I split up at the mall - he took Cam, I took Maggie. Cam and Aaron managed to get a bunch of presents, Maggie and I got a smoothie. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I haven't been posting a lot because I've been spending a lot of time just enjoying our life. I know that many people hate this season, and I get it. I really do. I've had more than a few things go wrong in this December and pretty much every December for the past 5 years. I think people would feel that I was totally justified if I just stayed in bed and protested all the holiday celebrations.

But that isn't how I'm wired. I just can't help but look at what I DO have and just revel in it. I have a pretty amazing husband who is the best father to two wonderful children. This year, Cam is really starting to get the concept of Santa. It is beyond cute to watch them run around the house looking for the Elf every morning (Maggie wants to touch the elf SO BADLY. Her little body quivers when it's somewhat close. And she starts repeating Elf. Magic! MAGIC!). The fun of watching Christmas movies with them for the first time (Cam was terrified of the Abominable Snowman in the Rudolph movie).

And this year, for the first time in a while, I've been able to really plan and get perfect presents for everyone. I don't have a million dollars, but I do have enough to be able to buy things that I have been wanting to get for a while. Which is fun. And, people may not even believe this, but we are excited to have both Aaron's mother and my mother visit for Christmas. I'm going to have company for almost 5 days, and I'm excited about it. I've even ordered special cuts of meat from the butcher for all our family dinners on the 23rd and 24th.

So yes, this is a hard season. Expectations are high. People are stressed. But I somehow am just enjoying the great life and family that I have.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Last night, I was home alone with the gang. Aaron had to work late. So I thought I could engage the kids with making those hand print ornaments. But I had this feeling that it was going to be a huge failure. And it was headed that way -Maggie was VERY crabby when I picked her up from daycare.

But I fed them pancakes with syrup, and all of a sudden I had happy kids! Behold, the power of sugar.

I had made the dough in advance, but I'm sure the kids would have loved being involved in measuring the dough. Instead of rolling the dough out with a rolling pin, I just squished it evenly with my palm. Worked out great. I wish I had done this sooner with Cam, as his prints are the size of small dinner plates!

I followed this recipe, but found that I needed more water to make it feel like dough. I'm planning on letting the kids paint them with their favorite colors and then I'll tidy them up with white paint highlighting the actual hand prints. The kids LOVED pushing their hands into the dough. If they pushed too hard and made a hole, I would just add a little extra dough and blend it in with some water. They turned out pretty well! Cam's were so big they were still a little bit soft when they were done, but I didn't want to risk them getting burned/brown so I figured a little soft is fine. Also - I read another blog who made these, and she recommended two holes vs one for stability since these are heavy.

Fun, quick project!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmasy Stuff

Now that the birthday's are over, and the sad event of putting Abby down is over (augh) I'm trying to do a few fun Christmas things with the kids.

  • Every night, we take a treat from the Advent Mittens. I just love how cute those damn things are. I made two more sets as Christmas presents for close friends this year.

  • We went and cut down our own Christmas tree - which is SO much fun. I love it because it's a local town's conservation land. A resident of the town had a Christmas tree farm, and he got sick, and the trees weren't tended for a long time. After he died, he gave the land to the town. So - you go and pick out these 30 foot trees, but only the top 6-8 feet is a groomed tree. But they are not SUPER full trees, which I like better.

  • Then we decorated the tree, which was pretty funny - because both Maggie and Cameron insisted on putting all their ornaments on the same branch, so the tree isn't decorated evenly. Which kills me a little but I leave it.

  • We are also doing Elf on the Shelf - and I forget to move the damn thing every single night. Sigh. But they love finding it each morning.

  • I ordered our Christmas cards from Tiny Prints. I was sorely tempted to just let them address and send each one, but that will be this weekend's activity. Having the tree up and the cards ordered made me feel like a was SUPER MOM. Which is somewhat sad, I know.

  • Yesterday, on the suggestion of Jen, we did a little Candy Cane hunt... but I thought it would be super smart to do it at our Aunt's house, because they have a lighted, covered porch. The kids were more excited to go inside and see everyone than to play outside.

  • Tonight I'm going to make ornaments with the kids - hopefully handprints. That will be a HUGE hit with the grandparents.

  • Friday Cam and I are going to a gingerbread house making party.

  • On the 23rd, we are going to see the Rockettes! I was able to find 'cheap' seats - and he is going to love it!

I've also got all the presents done for the kids. They both got this scooter, Cam is getting this Hot Wheels Garage and Maggie is getting an easel. I'm sure more than a few things will come in from the Grandparents, but it feels good to be done.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Rest in peace, dog of my heart.

Tell Nora you like your tummy rubbed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

Been a long time since I've done leftovers - so I've got a bunch!

  • I just need to state that toddlers/pre-schoolers are awesome. Yes, they have their faults (pooping in their pants, tantrums) but in general, they are awesome. The smallest thing is AMAZING. Like tomorrow morning, we are going to a friends' house for breakfast - and they have set up their train tracks all around the downstairs. I can't even tell you how this is going to blow Cam and Maggie's minds.

  • I have to report that my pushing for us eating dinner together, in the dining room, has officially paid off. Weds night, we went to our Aunt's house for a 65th birthday party. Both of my children sat at the table, ate in a civilised fashion, and asked to be excused. All the adults (including Aaron and I) were suitably impressed.

  • We are going to cut down our Christmas tree tomorrow - I'm excited! I think the gang is going to have a blast picking it out and decorating it.

  • My older dog is declining rapidly. It's sad. I'm kind of hoping that she falls asleep and just doesn't wake up - but that seems unlikely. So we are talking about our options, and they all pretty much end the same way. Which makes me sad.

  • I had this super awesome idea of taking Cam to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Then I went to buy tickets. Cheapest are $111 a seat. Super awesome idea no longer.

  • I haven't ordered my Christmas cards yet. I don't even have a good picture. Hoping this weekend I can get that taken care of.

  • I'm done with all of my planned homemade presents. I rock.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The party!

I don't even know where to begin, but the kid's birthday was a HUGE success. If I just start with the presents, Maggie won't stop playing with her tea set, and my mom got her this super fun Ice Cream Set that they play with every night. And the car thing Aaron got? Cam wakes up early in the morning to play with it. Huge huge huge success.* The dolls I made, while cute, I think are a bit advanced for the kids - and the hair is getting pulled out. So I think I'm putting them up on a shelf and buying Maggie a Baby Stella for Christmas. But Maggie also received a cradle, and that is a HUGE hit. Both kids spend a lot of time putting the 'babies' to bed (which is every stuffed animal and doll in the area).

But the best part was the party. As you all know, I was SUPER nervous about the whole thing. It was just perfect. First, Cam was just so excited that Fellowship Hall, where we go for coffee hour after church, was decorated and set up just for him (it was lost on him that this was a joint party). There was a bounce house (a small one - perfect size for 4 pre-schoolers), tunnels for the kids to crawl around in, a table where the kids decorated a banner with crayons and markers, and another table where they made drums/noise makers (basically decorated coffee tins with rocks in them - the kids LOVED it). And even someone making balloon animals. The kids ran from place to place - screaming and laughing and having an absolute blast. And, since I didn't have to organize anything, I could just sit back and watch and enjoy.

About an hour in, they shut down the bounce house and had the kids sit still for some music (which was the cutest thing ever) and then had cake. Both of my kids had SO much fun, but the other parents wouldn't stop commenting on what a blast it was either. Just a perfect day all around.

Sunday we went to church. It was a rough day, as the 4th is the anniversary of Nora's death - but we stood up at the joy and concern time and talked about how this is a hard time for our family - with the joys of the birthdays and the sorrows of the anniversary... but that many people in that room helped us get through. It's been really hard for Aaron to go back to church - he always remembers Nora's service when he goes there - but the awesome birthday party I think helped him turn a corner. Which is nice too.

And Monday? Cam's actual birthday? We both took a half day off work and brought both kids to the Museum of Science. Cam was SO excited. It's still a bit old for Maggie, but she had a blast too. Then they got to bring Happy Meals for lunch at school, and ended the day with all our neighbors coming over for birthday cake.

Only funny thing is that when Cam woke up on Tuesday, he was pretty upset that his birthday was over. But he got over it.

* There are some issues with the build a road. The cars are battery operated and don't stop. The gearing is super high on the car - Aaron says that the motor and the wheels are probably directly connected - so you burn a battery within an hour of use. If you just let that go, it's a really really really fun toy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Freezer Paper Tutorial

I know there are plenty of tutorials out there for this, but SOMEONE nagged me, and I was making more anyway - so here it is.

I've made a bunch of tee-shirts for the kids with freezer paper stencils. I like doing this mostly because I get sick of the sicky sweet saying and pictures that are on most toddlers clothes (Mommy's Little Angel! 2 CUTE! blah blah blah). Also, I like to be able to get some shirts in more unusual colors - surprisingly, my kids aren't obsessed with pink and blue. Maggie loves purple and Cam is always telling me 'Orange. Dat is my FAVORITE color.'

First, I find cheap, plain tee-shirts. I get mine here. Then, figure out what designs you want to do. You want a VERY basic shapes. I would recommend one color (at least at first). I found this fun firetruck - so that is what I used. I've also done fairies, scull and cross-bones, trucks, airplanes. Just whatever your kid is into.

Remember that you need to cut out the area where the paint will go. In the above picture, I need to block out all the red areas.

The first step is to get the design onto freezer paper and cut it out with an exacto knife on a cutting mat. You can either tape the picture to the freezer paper and cut through two layers (which is what I did for this one) or do the extra step and trace the design onto the freezer paper. This is easier for cutting, but when you don't have a light box for tracing, I find it easier to just cut through the two pieces.

See all those little pieces? Keep track of those. Also notice that on the top of the firetruck, there are a couple places where I ripped the freezer paper. No worries. First, take the freezer paper and center it on your fabric, shiny side facing the fabric. Then, take an iron on the cotton setting, no steam, and first get the big piece stuck on. Try to stick any torn pieces close together. If that doesn't work, you can also use masking tape. And then add the tiny little pieces bit by bit.

If you look closely at the above picture, you can see that I lost the little headlight circles and needed to use a small amount of masking tape to fix the top of the firetruck.

Then, put another piece of freezer paper in the middle of the shirt (to be sure the paint doesn't bleed through to the back). I use this cheap paint from Joanne's and it held up to a whole summer of washes. I also use the cheapest foam brushes I can find.
Put a thin layer of paint on. I dab it on rather than brush - so I don't accidentally lift up the freezer paper.

I let it sit for about 30 minutes and then do another thin layer. DO NOT go crazy and do super thick layers - it cracks and looks bad. Trust me.

Wait at least a hour (if it's a shirt I really care about, I'll wait overnight) and peel off the freezer paper:

Super fun, right?

And - to show you what a freak I am - I made Cam a new firetruck shirt for his birthday:

And decided his doll needed one that matched.

Help. Me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let's talk toys.

I know I have a mix of stay-at-home and working moms that read here, so I have a question. What is your toy 'strategy'? When we first got ready to have kids, I had this vision that I would have all natural toys, with NO awful sounds or batteries required. I certainly wouldn't have a ton of toys - just the good, basic stuff.

Then I gave birth. And friends and family started buying stuff and giving hand-me-downs. THEN I found out I was pregnant with twins, and therefore wouldn't be able to afford daycare, so I started picking up anything that looked fun, so the kids would have things to play with all day with the nanny. And, of course, I found out just how much babies love LOUD toys. So for about 2 years, our living room had loads of toys and many of them played music or whatever. As the kids have been growing out of them (like this was a big fav as was this) I've been giving them away or storing them for my grandkids.

Since both kids spend all day in daycare, we have a very small window of playtime. At night, they get home at 5, they maybe play for 20 minutes or so while we get dinner ready. The weekends is the only time they REALLY play at home - and if the weather is nice, we are outside as much as possible. I feel like we can have a much smaller amount of toys. I also see that both kids are only playing with a few select toys. They play with the play kitchen, the trains, and blocks. Maggie plays with her dolls and Cam plays with his firetrucks. I decided to just focus on those toys, and get good quality stuff, and throw away the crap. Over the past few days, I've gotten rid of any toys that they never play with or are broken. I threw away some plastic crap play food that I'm going to replace with a few sets of Melissa and Doug play food. Cam has a huge amount of firetruck toys - and many he found at tag sales or older kids have given him - which means that they are broken or missing pieces. I threw those firetrucks away. I'm a little nervous that he is going to freak out when he notices (they are on the curb and today is trash pickup).

What do you all have? Am I making a mistake by severely paring down our toys? I just feel like we have piles and piles of toys, and the kids play with maybe 10% of them. So my theory is to replace them many with a few, high quality things.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Last night, after the kids went to bed, I ran to the store to get balloons, an ice cream cake and wrapping paper. Aaron brought the dollhouse up, and we got everything ready for the birthday girl. I was SO excited, I wanted to run up and wake her up right then. But I didn't. I made her a sweet birthday bow* instead.

I do want to get the tradition going that you wake up in the morning and have your presents waiting. That is what my mom did and I loved waking up and running to see my wrapped present at my place on the kitchen table. Although trying to get everyone out the door this morning after opening presents and playing with balloons was a bit of a challenge.

Anyway. It's become apparent over the past few months that Maggie needs 'girl' toys. She was very happy playing with trains and trucks, but if we went to a place that had dolls or a dollhouse, Maggie was totally into playing with that. So it was our mission to give Maggie some of toys I enjoyed playing with as a little girl. A dollhouse, a doll and tea set. I'm happy to report that she seems to love all three. This morning, the tea set was the biggest hit. I got this one - because it's wood and pretty much unbreakable.

She didn't pay much attention to the doll, but did give her some tea (and see the cute bow? I made that).

And when we called GB (that is what they call Aaron's mother) Maggie was super excited to show her the dollhouse on face time. And she loved the Elmo balloon!

I think it all was a little overwhelming this morning, but she was a very happy girl.

For me, today is a bittersweet. I don't know about other Mamas but on my kids' birthdays, I think about the day they were born. And for Maggie - that is hard for me. I remember the joy I had with the two girls. I think about holding both her and Nora. And our blissful days in the hospital together. I also have to admit that the further I get from it, the less painful it is. I'm not looking at Maggie and wondering what Nora would be doing now. I think of Nora as a baby, and Maggie is just NOT a baby anymore. Tonight, I think I will let a balloon go up to heaven and let Nora know we are thinking of her.

* I post the link for this bow because last night I couldn't find it. So poor Jen got an email and a twitter freak out to help me find the directions. She is a rock star and helped me find it.

Monday, November 28, 2011


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. The kids were real troopers and were perfect the whole trip. There was a bit more vomit in the mix than I would have liked (Cam got seasick on the ferry ride Thanksgiving day and I got food poisoning on Saturday) but those were the only issues. Both kids were great all weekend - going with the flow and getting a few early birthday present was very exciting for both of them. Aaron's grandmother even took the kids to the toy store and let them pick out their own birthday presents - and were really great. She expected a bit of a meltdown - but Cam picked out a firetruck backpack and Maggie found some dollhouse furniture (I pushed her in that direction). I love it when they impress their great-grandmother.

We got home Saturday afternoon, and just relaxed on Sunday (Aaron let me sleep in after throwing up late into the night). We had a play date with some of Cam's friends (ones that won't be able to go to the birthday party next weekend) and I just have to tell the cutest story. The kids all play together wonderfully. We ate dinner, and the grownups stayed in the dining room while the kids were in the living room playing. Things started to get quiet, so I got up to clear plates and see what was going on. Cam had managed to get the play-doh out of the closet, and all four kids were happily sitting around the kitchen table with it. They had divided the play-doh amongst everyone and were having a blast! It was super cute.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Crazy Time

This time of year is crazy for us as a family. For the past 4 years, at least. 4 years ago, I was in my first IVF cycle, and in the middle of miscarrying during Thanksgiving. 3 years ago I was heavily pregnant with Cam, and 2 years ago heavily pregnant with Maggie and Nora. Last year I was freaking out about the combo of birthday's and the anniversary of Nora's death.

So this year is the first year in a very long time that we are traveling for Thanksgiving, and the first year that I feel like things are somewhat under control. Of course, couldn't be totally smooth sailing, as my older dog is too fragile to leave at home, so we are bringing 2 toddlers and 2 dogs with us on Thanksgiving, which will add a nice layer of stress..... but in general, this is the calmest Thanksgiving time we've had in a long time.

I went away this past weekend with my girlfriends and spent a LOT of time crafting, and made two Waldorf Dolls - one for Cam and one for Maggie. Maggie's is totally done, I even made it a sweet little outfit. Cam's needs clothes - and one of my buddies mentioned I should give it a firefighter outfit. So I ordered one from build-a-bear (the doll is 16 inches, just like the bears, so I'm hoping it works). I'll post pictures when they are both clothed, lol. I also made a bunch of cute little Christmas tree wall hangings, so I'm almost done with my homemade Christmas gifts! And I got home to find that Aaron had finished up Maggie's dollhouse. Check it out:
Cool, right? If you can believe it, Aaron's mom found this at the Take it or Leave it at Nantucket's dump. It was in rough shape, covered in crayon marks and stickers and the bottom deck had been chewed by a dog. But Aaron really did a great job of restoring it, and I know Maggie will love it. It's got two fun decks/porches and the doors slide back and forth in the front - and the sides and back are totally open. A super fun dollhouse and it was basically free - just sweat equity.

And the birthday party is also under control. I decided that a party from 10-12 didn't need to serve lunch, so it's going to be super easy for me. They have a bunch of activities planned - decorating a birthday banner, making a drum, having someone come with a guitar and sing, an obstacle course, and winding up with a parade! It's going to be a heck of a lot more fun than I would have managed to pull off!

So now, just to survive the next 2 weeks without a major breakdown, and we are good. Deep breath.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Got a cute baby?

My buddy Jen got me into Tiny Prints. I contacted them after winning free holiday cards on her site, and they told me about a fun contest that everyone can enter.

Tiny Prints is having a Talent Search Contest - and you can enter for a chance to win the grand prize of $1,000 cash, plus a $500 Tiny Prints gift certificate, what a perfect prize just in time for the Holiday season!

· Cutest Baby (From ages of 0-24 months)
· Cutest Kid (From ages of 25 months - 10 years old)
· Cutest Family
· Cutest Couple
· Cutest Pet & Owner

You can enter the Tiny Print Talent Search Contest via Facebook or on our website. For Official Rules, click here.

I admit that for letting you know about this contest, I'm getting MORE free cards (25 personalized thank you cards). They are so cute, I couldn't resist.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Morning Leftovers

I'm going away with my girlfriends this weekend - so I'm doing my leftover post a day early. Plus tomorrow I'll be telling you guys all about a Tiny Print contest, so get ready for that.

  • My older dog has been acting strange for about 2 months. Peeing in the house when we were gone (to the point of RUINING an expensive rug) and losing a lot of weight. Because I can't deal with anything bad happening right now, I was avoiding taking her to the vet (dumb I know). This weekend was the last straw - we have been crating her so she doesn't pee overnight, and she was sitting in her crate barking ALL. NIGHT. LONG. For two nights straight. I took her to the vet, nothing obvious. So I've been nervous all week that it was going to be something awful like cancer. And yesterday the blood work came back that she has hypothyroid. Totally treatable. With inexpensive pills! What a relief!

  • Because I act like I'll be OK if something happens to her - but Abby is my original baby. She was with me when I was single and lonely. She loved Aaron the second she met him. She is my girl.

  • Nightime has been a huge cry-fest with Cam lately. And then I realized I'd gotten out of the habit of giving him choices. We used to do this a lot - "Do you want to put your PJs on now and play with blocks? Or put your PJs on now and go to bed? " - he would happily choose PJs and then blocks and run to his room to put on PJs. But lately, we've been saying - go put on your PJs! And then it escalated from there. I was getting annoyed with this (and Aaron, who always resorts to yelling) and then realized what was happening. So I started with the 2 acceptable choices, and last night was a breeze. Duh.

  • I'm thinking of all of these great handmade gift ideas for the holidays - and then I do the math. Why didn't I start sooner? sigh

  • Speaking of holidays. I'm planning on starting Elf on A Shelf this year. Should I start when we get home from Thanksgiving? Or wait until after Cam's birthday (which is the 5th). I'm leaning towards after the birthday, but then we'll be starting the advent calender on the 1st, so would think we could start the elf then too?

  • Work is super stressful right now. One of the woman that I started with (over 11 years ago) got laid off yesterday, and moral is just low in general. I think I'm ok (jobwise), but the stress stays.

  • Which is why I'm looking forward to this weekend! Staying in a B&B with a bunch of my girlfriends, crafting, sewing and gossiping from Friday-Sunday. Hurrah!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Children's books

We have a lot of books in our house. At night, we read a couple books before bed. And, if you are the first baby up, sometimes I'll read a couple books waiting for the other one to wake up. Maggie's very favorites are Dear Zoo and Gossie. I could recite them to you without even cracking the cover.

But here is the thing. Gossie wears her bright red boots every day, right? She wears them when she eats, she wears she sleeps - but then, one morning she wakes up and she can't find her boots.

Doesn't she wear them when she sleeps!?!

It's a short book. Seems like an easy detail. Drives me crazy. And Maggie insists on reading it. Every day.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I love you guys

Heather hit it right on the head. Of COURSE paging through invitation after invitation for joint birthday parties for TWINS was an issue. I didn't even think of it.

Every day I'm reminded somehow of our loss. Maybe it's just walking into Maggie's room and seeing the holes in the wall where Nora's name hung over her crib. Or last night, when I was trying to soothe a sad baby girl who couldn't stop coughing - sitting in the chair in her room often reminds me of the one night they were home, and I was sitting in that chair giving them both a bottle at the same time. We got this nice big chair just so we could do that. But now it's to the point wher it's a little pain, a small thing, and I move on with my day. I rarely register when the reminders are more frequent that it may affect my mood. And now that Heather pointed it out - I see that she is totally right.

Sigh. Moving onward and upward! Want to see the final proof of the birthday card?

Perfect, right? I love it. Exactly what I was thinking. Hurrah!

One funny story, as I ordered this, I copied Aaron on the wording, to make sure it was correct. He noticed that I put "Maggie is turning 1". Guess I'm not ready for my little girl to grow up!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I'm in a funk.. I blame it mostly on an awful cold that I've had. A cold totally kicks my butt. Add in a random financial stress we weren't expecting and being super busy at work... blech. I'm working on shaking out of it, but that is why the lack of posting.

This month is already flying by! I can't believe we are almost in mid-November! First thing I need to do is to get the kids birthday party invites and send them out. I picked these invites from Etsy. It's surprisingly hard to get good invites for a joint birthday party for non-twins. My invite is going to really similar except with orange and purple as the colors. I am happy to report that the actual party is going to be the way I envisioned it - pretty low key but in the hall as I expected.

For birthday presents, I'm almost ready to start making Maggie's doll. I'm a little nervous I waited to long, as she is kind of getting attached to a different baby doll that was laying around the house - but here is the progress I made on my practice doll:

I would definitely do the hair differently, and do better on the face shaping - but I was really happy with how cute the face looks! I was really nervous about the face embroidery, but wasn't any where near as hard as I thought it would be. The eyes may need to be a little closer together, but all in all - cute!

Aaron is working on refinishing a dollhouse for her, and the other big present, which I'm not sure will be for her birthday or Christmas, is a child sized rocking chair that Aaron refinished and our Aunt did needlepoint covers for the cushions. Just this week I dropped it off with someone to get it all put together - so I may have done that too late for her birthday.

Cam is another story. Aaron did that whole firehouse bed, so I'm kind of at a loss for what else he even NEEDS for his birthday. Aaron is thinking some sort of race track, but we have a little bit of time to figure it out. Worse case, we'll save some of the presents he gets from family and friends at the party (which is on the 3rd) for him to open on on his actual birthday (the 5th).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

  • Last night, I went and used a groupon for an 80 minute massage. Very much needed.

  • I met a friend at a Super Walmart after the massage. Two things on this. First - how convenient is Super Walmart! You can get groceries, home stuff, clothes, go to the bank, get your hair done, and your nails done all in the same place. BUT. Wow. Now I understand why people protest them. Small business killer.

  • Related to the above, I also got a pedicure last night. First one in a few months. So nice.

  • Tonight is the rescheduled Halloween. My kids are crazy excited.

  • Aaron is away this weekend, so my kids favorite adult friend is coming Saturday. Suzanne is my ace in the hole for anytime Aaron goes away. They could care less that Daddy is away if SUZANNE is here. When I'm away, Aaron never asks for help., It's like he wants to prove that he can do it alone. Me? I'm all about getting reinforcements. Plus, after the kids go to bed, I have a buddy to hang out with. We'll all have a blast.

  • I'm totally obsessed with hair clip making. I blame it all on Jen. BUt that is a post for another day. I will say that it was picture day at school yesterday, and I stayed up late making Maggie the perfect bows to match her sweater.

  • And we are taking a break from potty training. Maggie was doing great 80% of the time, but the 20% was ending in tears (for both us us). I'm not dealing with that.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Last night, we got home from daycare's Halloween party (and the only Halloween my kids got. The town canceled Halloween because there are so many down power lines and power outages in town. I'm hoping they reschedule). I was crabby. Aaron was crabby. The kids were losing a nut. It's been a rough couple of days. The people we were borrowing the generator from wanted it back, so I was bracing for another night of cold and dark.

And then the lights turned on. And all of a sudden, everyone was happy again. It's sad how miserable I was after only about 48 hours without power. The house was a mess with no water to be able to clean anything. Maggie's potty training isn't going super great, so I had a lot of laundry to deal with too. The minute the power came on, I started cleaning. I've never been so happy to have warm, running water!

Aaron had already setup for a fire in fireplace, so we sat downstairs in the nice, warm living room and watched TV. And were happy. And then went to bed.

It's the little things.

Monday, October 31, 2011


It snowed on Saturday night. Not a HUGE amount - but a lot for this time of year. It was about 6 heavy inches. There are downed trees everywhere, leading to power outages (including our house). Cam and Maggie were VERY excited about the snow. Cam was out with his shovel helping me knock the snow off the trees:

We only lost one tree, a dogwood that was having issues to begin with, but Nora's tree was untouched. Thank god. Maggie had a blast watching Aaron use the snow blower. She was running around saying 'I Shovel!'

Thankfully, our Aunt who lives 3 miles away did have power, so the kids and I camped out there while Aaron cleaned up our house and friends around the street. He even managed to borrow a generator and get our house up to 64 degrees last night so we could sleep at home.

Which was nice.

But. I'm still sick with that damn cold (wondering if it's maybe broncitsis at this point) and by the end of the day yesterday fed up with Aaron helping everyone except ME. Which is bitchy and maybe a bit unreasonable, considering I was at a place where we had heat and TV - but hey. Aren't I allowed? I couldn't sleep last night because I kept thinking about what the heck I would do if daycare didn't have power. Because work is a bit of a disaster, and I really can't afford to be out. I had this crazy plan to bring the kids into the office with me - it would have been a disaster, I bet.

Maggie woke up in a panic this morning (it was super dark and quiet in her room, she usually sleeps with white noise and a night light), so I pulled her into bed with me and she cuddled with me for about 45 minutes. I called daycare, and they were open - so at least that was a good thing. Trying to get two kids dressed and out the door in the pitch black wasn't the most fun. Plus I had to get them set for Halloween too, which I at least remembered at the last minute.

Then, I stopped to get coffee, and they only could give me a small. They were out of medium and large cups. Son. Of. A. Bitch.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Leftovers

  • Maggie is potty training. I just went for it. We are using the cotton training pants. She isn't having any accidents - she's only had one pee and one poop accident. But she goes to the potty every 30 minutes. It's kind of funny.

  • Work has been awful this week - big production problem kept me online all the time.

  • The first time they called me with the issue, I was in bed at 7:10 after taking NyQuil. I was a wreck.

  • The kids have a cold and I have the same one, but like 100 times worse.

  • Cameron has a kazoo that is killing me. He insists on bringing it to bed, and then stays up for 2 hours playing with it. So I became Mean Mommy last night and took it away. After Aaron calmed him down, he was asleep in 5 minutes. I'll be burning the kazoo today.

  • Tonight Aaron is taking Cam to the Science Museum and I don't know who is more excited - Cam or Aaron. Maggie and I are going to see my friend - who has 4 'big' girls (10, 12, 14, and 17) PLUS they have a dog. She is going to be in baby heaven.

  • We turned the heat on this week. We like to try and wait until Nov 1st - but seriously. It snowed last night. It had to be done.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I have a wicked cold. Wicked. I feel like crap. And the kids have it too, which is making them whiny. Which makes me EVEN MORE cranky.

Fun fun fun.

So I will bitch. And I'm going to bitch about something that many people tell me I should be happy about. Maggie is obsessed with potty training. Obsessed. She gets on the potty and does something pretty much every time. She is super proud of herself.

BUT. And here is the big BUT. She wants to be on the potty all the time. And maybe 80% of the time actually does something. A perfect example is this morning. I'm upstairs, trying to get something I need to bring to work, and Maggie followed me upstairs. She runs into the room I'm in and says POOP! POTTY! So I stop what I'm doing, put her on the potty and leave to finish what I was doing. And she starts crying. So Cam goes in, and then runs back to report to me that "Maggie no want me Mama. She want YOU." So I go in, ask if she is all done and take her off. I try to finish what I was doing. She is runs around yelling POOP POTTY again, so I try to whip off her diaper and throw her on the potty. But. The diaper is full of poop which is now all over my hand.


So I try to stay calm and get her cleaned up (and myself) but of course there aren't any wipes upstairs because we don't usually have to deal with diapers upstairs anymore and the ones we have are dried out because they were left open and DID I MENTION I HAVE POOP ON MY HANDS!!?!?

Sigh. I know most of this is because I am cranky and tired from my cold, and I should have gotten up BEFORE the kids and gotten myself ready for work. But seriously. Poop on my hands before 8 AM?

I'm considering getting Maggie pull-ups, just to make this stage easier, but I just think they are dumb (basically fancy diapers).

Deep. Breath.

Now is when you all tell me to relax and be happy that Maggie WANTS to use the potty. Or tell me funny diaper training stories so I can laugh a little whist MISERABLE and snotty. Begin.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

On a Thursday.

But hey, Aaron and I are taking tomorrow off together, so I doubt I'll be on the computer.

  • The firetruck bed is a huge success

  • Cam is currently obsessed with a kazoo that my mom gave him last weekend. Funniest story on that front was the other morning, he got out of bed and declared that he had to pee. So he ran to the bathroom. While be peed, he was playing the kazoo. I may have laughed.

  • Tuesday night, on a whim, I took the kids to a local pasta supper. I reluctantly bought raffle tickets. I won a free loaf of bread every week for 6 months from Nashoba Brook Bakery! I'm crazy excited about it.

  • When Cam was learning to talk, I avoided a lot of tantrums with him by asking him to SHOW me something when I couldn't understand what he was trying to say. Until now, all attempts at that tactic with Maggie have ended in a HUGE tantrum. This morning, she kept telling me something and I really couldn't figure out what she wanted. I told her to show me. She gave me a look, turned around, ran and got what she wanted. She was SO proud of herself!

  • Aaron was supposed to go away this weekend to CA, leaving Friday and coming home on Monday. The trip got canceled, and he is still taking Friday off of work - so we are going to do take it together. Bonus!

  • Another cute Maggie story. This morning, we stopped and got donuts on the way to school. As we left the store, I told everyone to hold hands. Cam wanted to hold Maggie's hand - so Maggie was going to end up holding my hand and Cam's - with no hand left over for the donut. She moved the donut from hand to hand - trying to figure out what to do - and then just shoved the whole thing in her mouth and grabbed our hands. Cutest thing EVER.

  • My mom is visiting this weekend, and for the first time in 2 years, I'm letting her bring the dog. Pray that it isn't a disaster with 3 huge dogs, 2 toddlers and 3 adults all weekend.

  • I have won the Birthday Party Debate. We will have the party in the room that I thought it would be, with the rules being 20 kids. Parents won't be included in the count. I'm very, very, happy about this.

  • Currently obsessed with the idea of making Maggie hair clips. I blame Jen. I'm planning on trying to make some on Sunday. We'll see if they are the success I'm thinking they will be.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Firetruck Bed

This weekend, Aaron installed the firetruck bed. It is so much more amazing than I thought it would be (and I already thought it was going to be pretty amazing). A while back, I found a blog showing off the firetruck bed that someone made for his son. I emailed it to Aaron right away - and he totally was into making it. We measured Cam's room, and figured out that we couldn't do one with the stairs, and after much convincing on my part, decided that Cam could handle a ladder. So, we used the plans from for her Easy Playhouse Loft - but Aaron made many changes from there.

I was really nervous that it would total overwhelm Cam's room, as it's not a super big room and our house only has 7.5 feet high ceilings- but it just fits perfectly.

The big additions that Aaron made the first firetruck bed was a driver's seat for the steering wheel:

And a toy box/back seat at the back of the truck:

This was pretty much all Aaron. I helped with a little bit of painting (as did Cam) and some of the precision cutting on the diamond plate vinyl but every night after dinner Aaron would head down into the shop and work on it. He came up with all the cute additions, figured out the best way to make the lights work (Christmas lights), and angled the ladder in the best way so toddlers can go up and down with ease.

The first night, Cam asked to read his books inside the firetruck. With Daddy. The man couldn't have been happier.

And because I know people are going to ask:

  • Yes, he does sleep in it. Amazing, but true. Aaron was nervous that he would be to excited, or play all night, or even maybe be too young to sleep up high - but it's been three nights now and he LOVES it.

  • It cost about $500 total. That includes wood, paint, bolts for the wheels, lighting, and even the mattress that I got at Ikea. I got a little firetruck rug (secondhand) to put inside the playhouse part and a little firehouse print to put on the wall. Only thing not finished is the window treatments.

  • No. Aaron will not make these for sale. Besides the fact that he has a backlog of personal projects for our family (next up is refurbishing an awesome dollhouse for Maggie), the man works full time in technology. He isn't quiting his day job! And imagine the liability for bedding beds for kids? I think not.

Anyway. Pretty awesome, huh? Cam is one lucky kid. And so many thanks to Jeff and Kristin McClure for posting their son's bed - we would have never come up with this on our own!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Birthday party season

I had been very excited. Over 6 months ago, we had a service auction at church. People auction off goods and services and the proceeds go to the church. One of the things auctioned off was a birthday party for up to 18 kids in the Fellowship Hall. Which is a nice, big space. I envisioned a party with both Maggie and Cameron's friends - with the parents standing to the side, the kids having fun. A nice, relaxed space for the kids to have fun and the parents to relax.

I gave them the date I wanted to do the party, and gave them pretty much full rein on the planning - theme and whatever. As the date approaches, the head of the group doing the party has started talking to me about the details. We were thinking a music theme - with one of their friends to come in and play to the kids. I mentioned that I was hoping I could use the big, industrial ovens to cook pizzas for everyone, and she gave me a little strange look, and said 'Right, food wasn't included'. Then mentioned that they were planning on having the party in the basement of Fellowship hall.

Which is a basement. A small room that they use for classes, and I don't see all the parents fitting with the kids and being comfortable in any way shape or form. There aren't even grownup sized chairs down there. It's a preschool classroom. So I kind of looked at her funny and said, what about the parents? And she was like, I'm sure a total of 18 people will fit there.

And I was like 18 people total? Which, at a birthday party for 2 and 3 year olds equates to maybe to 4 friends, with their parents. Which is not at all what I want. Forgetting about Cam and Maggie's adult friends. And I certainly don't want to have two separate parties (like a small friend party and then one at home for family or whatever) - we do this birthday thing ONCE.

So I wrote a (hopefully) innocent sounding email:

I’m a little confused after our quick conversation on Sunday. What I thought the deal was for the party was for 18 kids, and use of fellowship hall. Since my kids are so young, I envisioned being in the big space, with the kids having a blast with the activities (maybe some kids that are way too shy to even be WITH the other kids) and the parents (who have the more adventurous kids) chit-chatting on the other side of the hall. I had expected that I would provide most, if not all food, decorations, etc. plus help you all out with child herding.

Is your understanding different? Because kids as young as Maggie and Cameron are going to probably have one, if not two parents attend. So we would only be able to have maybe 4 kids besides mine. I’m thinking that it will be more like 14 kids + parents (invited, with less attending, of course)

Let me know

So. If she comes back telling me that yes, she meant 18 people total and they were are to do it in the basement, I'm going to say thanks, but just take my money as a donation to the church and Aaron and I will do the party in my house.

Annoying, but it will all work out.
ETA: I just looked it up. The certificate I got says 'up to 20 guests' and 'at your house or in fellowship hall'. So we'll see. Because it's all up to interpretation, right?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What a difference a year makes

This was a long weekend for the kids and I (Aaron had to work on Monday). I don't know about you all, but for me, it's easier to handle the kids alone at some sort of 'event'. They are both so excited (and a little nervous about the crowds) that they hold hands and just have a blast. When I saw that a Day out With Thomas was this weekend - I decided to take the gang.

We went last year on Labor Day weekend, and the kids had a blast. It's at Edaville - an old train-themed amusement park for little kids. Each year they threaten to shut down (I'm sure it's expensive to run) but they decided to keep it going this year.

When I was saving the pictures from this trip, I noticed the ones from last year. Look at this craziness. Here is Maggie last year on the train ride:

And then this year:

Would you even recognize her? She is such a big girl now.

On the way home we stopped at Ikea and got the mattress for the firetruck bed. You guys are NEVER going to believe how awesome that thing is. It's amazing. I have no idea how Cam is ever going to actually SLEEP in it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Maggie doesn't have any dolls. I didn't think it was a big deal, because she happily plays with whatever Cam is playing with. But. For the past few weeks, I keep getting reports from daycare about Maggie and her friend J sending the whole afternoon covering the dolls with quilts and rubbing their backs, sitting them in the kitchen and feeding them and basically just carrying the dolls around. So I started looking into a doll for Maggie.

I hate the plastic ones. The combo plastic/cloth ones seem a little creepy. And then, last night I went to a friends house who has four girls and she showed me the Waldorf dolls that her kids used to play with. Oh. My. God. They are SO tactile and sweet and PERFECT. So I started looking around to buy one - minimum $100. Not happening. (But of course, shopping around made me want them more - look here and here and here).

I called a crafty friend of mine, and it turns out she LOVES making dolls and used to teach a class! So I'm buying a pattern and we'll embark on this journey together.

I then started looking a sweater patterns for the doll. I have a feeling I may need to make myself a doll too.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Night Leftovers

Happy Friday! This week at work has been.... interesting. I'm very happy that the work week is over.

  • I got tickets to a Day Out with Thomas. I was going back and forth on it, but I have the day off work, and Aaron doesn't. Sometimes it's actually easier with two kids to go do a super big EVENT than to just stay home.

  • This weekend is the church fair. There is a bounce house, games, a bagpiper, and other fun music stuff. Cam and Maggie's best grown up friend, Suzanne, is coming to go with them. Just Suzanne alone is enough to make my kids crazy with excitement.... add in a bounce house - and they are going to lose it.

  • Aaron's grandmother is coming to visit. She wants to take us out for dinner. Let's hope the gang is on the best behavior.

  • The dinner would be Saturday night. So we pray that the bounce house excitement leads to good naps. Or we are going to have a disaster.

  • Night time potty training. I'm not even thinking about it, because Cam never wakes up dry. What have the rest of you done for this? Should I wait until he starts waking up dry? Because sometimes I wonder if he wakes up, realizes that he has a diaper on, and pees.

  • I'm currently dollhouse obsessed. I like this one, this one, and this one.

  • Aaron is willing to build the dollhouse. So I'm trying to decide if the Melissa and Doug (with the 'real' windows and tiny little details) is necessary - and in which case I don't think Aaron could swing it. But one like Anna's dollhouse Aaron could totally make - but will Maggie like it as much as one with all the pretty bits? Or will it be cooler that Daddy made it?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our House Policies

In line with the post I did a while back about freezer dinners and our need to just RELAX about some things, I thought I would share a little bit about my parenting policies. I'm on a few email lists on parenting topics and it's very interesting to me the things that some mothers try to control.

Things I 'enforce':

Manners: Aaron is better than I am at this, but we insist on the following

  • Please when asking for something

  • Thank you when someone gives you something

  • Excuse me when interrupting a conversation

  • Asked to be excused from the table

Kindness: Mostly this is kindness in our house, to each other. They are usually pretty good with others (isn't that like life in general - many people are nicer to strangers than their own family). I don't tolerate a child yelling at me (For example, 'No thank you' instead of 'NO MOMMY! NO WANT TO'), teasing someone else (including the dogs) or being mean to a sibling. This is happening less and less - and I just keep repeating 'Treat your brother/sister how you want to be treated'. And it works! You would think they were too young, but no.

Helping: Everyone helps around here. Maggie and Cam help set and clear the table. If they make a big mess (like spilling cheerios) they help clean it up. I don't get upset - man do I remember my mother FREAKING out if I spilled something. I just acknowledge the mess, and have them help fix it. Same with if Cam pees in his pants, no big deal, but go get yourself a change of clothes. They help feed the dogs. They help put away laundry. I'm not making 'chores' because that isn't what it is. They are contributing to the family. Because they are part of a family.

Family Dinner: I try to get us to sit in the dining room every night for dinner. It's helping them learn to sit and have little conversations, but it's also good for Aaron and I to reconnect at the end of the day. It would be nice if Maggie would stop pooping in her diaper the minute dinner is served, but we are getting there.

Things I care about, but don't try to control.
Sleep. I'm a mom who thinks one of the most important skills you can teach your child is how to sleep. Both of my kids went through my sleep boot camp at about 5 months old - and have slept through the night ever since. We have a routine that is pretty set in stone. We have dinner, we play, then we have a bath, read some books or watch a little TV, and then get into beds and turn off the light. Some nights, they pass out right away. But other nights? They play with their blankets or stuffed animals - or like last night, the glow sticks that I gave them before bedtime (not my best decision). And then they fall asleep when they do. I don't run up into their rooms and sit in there until they fall asleep. I just make sure they are safe, and in their rooms - and I let it be.

I feel like micro-managing when my child falls asleep is something I don't need to stress about. I certainly can't FORCE them to fall asleep and they will fall asleep when they are tired.

Potty training: Best advice I ever got - it's their project, not yours.

Toys: The kids play with whatever toys they think are fun. We have a battery powered guitar, a big drum, trains, a play kitchen, blocks, dolls, whatever. I don't ban anything. Maggie hasn't showed interest yet, but I'm fine with barbies and princesses. Cam will probably own nerf guns or whatever. We let them watch *some* TV, Aaron let's them play toddler games on the iPad. I'm not going to be the mom that BANS a certain type of toy.

As that get older - I see myself limiting screen time, if necessary, but when I was a kid, I never ended up watching much TV because I was involved in sports and had homework. I'm hoping that my kids are the same.

Jackets/Clothes (and at some point, hair). I let them wear what they want, when they want. Often this will mean Cam going to school without a jacket (Maggie on the other hand LOVES jackets). I watch people loading there kids up to go somewhere and seriously having a battle over a jacket. If the kid gets cold, he is going to realize that he should have put a jacket on. I always bring it with me, and if it really is cold enough? Cam will run over and ask for it soon enough (and then he will tend to listen to me on the jacket suggestion for a few weeks, and then he'll forget again). When Maggie is 15 and wants to dye her her pink - who cares?! It grows out. It's not permanent.

Now those weird ear stretcher things or piercings or tattoos? That's a whole other story.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fairy Houses

I've talked about our cabin in the woods here a bit. One of the neat things about being able to go there when I was a kid, was exploring in the woods. My mom basically let me run free when we were there. While exploring, I found this house that had a little mini-city built in the woods. I don't know why the guy who owned that cabin did it - or even if he had kids - but in my mind? It was a little city for fairies. I would check it out any time I was there. Since it was a vacation home, I never got to meet the people who lived there - but it was so magical to me.

Now that my kids are getting to the age that pretend play is in full force, I decided to start a little 'fairy town' in our backyard. We have a little bit of woods, so I found a good, out of the way place - and I put a stone that Cam made in daycare. And then a simple little 'house' to get them started.

I figure we can be 'surprised' and find it when we are out exploring in the back yard. I can't wait to see their reactions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Lots of things to say - and the longer I wait to say it, the harder it is to do it. So here we go.

I've been having trouble sleeping lately - I can't stop thinking about Nora. But only at night time. I hate it when this happens. I can't figure out what triggers it, but I find myself wondering 'what if' and also reliving that night over and over. Thankfully, I finally got so tired that last night I just passed out. Rational me knows that grief has no end date and also that in general, my life is pretty awesome right now. But we all know that the rational part doesn't always win, right?

I am CRAZY busy this month. I volunteered for a few things at church, and separately they aren't big time sucks, but together - geez. One is teaching at the religious education class on Sunday - I'm with the 1st and 2nd graders. All I can say is kids that age are hilarious. I also signed the kids and I up for apple picking, as our church makes apple pies for a fundraiser during the month of September. A local apple farm lets us pick the dropped apples off the ground, and I realized that it's a perfect toddler activity. They love it. And finally, this weekend is the annual Church fair, and I'm heading the craft table.

This past weekend was WAY too much fun for the kids. Saturday we went to a Colonial Faire, and saw DRUMMERS (Cam's fav). I found myself tearing up watching the two of them just LOVE watching the different Fife and Drum Crops walk by. It kills me the joy they find in the little things. Sunday was Aaron's company picnic, and Cam is finally old enough for everything - he tried the bumper boat (with one of us of course), loved mini-golf and spent FOREVER in the bounce house. And Maggie, since she sees Cam doing it too - tries it all! She wasn't a HUGE fan of the bumper boats (too loud) but everything else - she totally went for it. Neither child had a nap on Sunday, and they both did great (and were sound asleep by 6:45 that night, lol).

Aaron is close to finishing the firetruck bed - and it is awesome. Awesome awesome awesome. I just need to decide if we should use a futon or a 'real' mattress. Anyone have opinions?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's Thursday. But this is all I can muster right now.

  • Thursday night, Maggie threw up in the middle of the night. Fun times.

  • She was still throwing up in the morning, so I was home with her all day.

  • Saturday, we had a fun day, running around, doing errands, even having some family over for dinner. Perhaps even had a few too many adult beverages.

  • Sunday was my 36th birthday. I slept in. When I woke up I feel a little 'off'. Cam had some nasty poop, so I figured he was getting what Maggie had, and I was just hungover. My mom was arriving at 9 AM to hang out with us for my birthday

  • I was just SO tired and my stomach hurt so much, I basically sent her home at 1, because I needed to lay down. I felt awful. She made some snide comments that she was being 'kicked out'. Grow up. Seriously.

  • Monday, the kids made it through school until about 3, when Maggie woke up covered in poo.

  • Tuesday they were both out. And I officially now had the illness.

  • Same yesterday. But add on that I got my period too. Woot! Liquid butt with a dose of hormones!

  • And today, Maggie is better, but Cam still has it.

  • I'm crabby, miserable, and want to kill someone.

  • Aaron is a lucky man.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In Praise of the Freezer Dinner

This is half a post about telling you to GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK and half to tell you all about freezer dinners (which helps me a lot). In my circle of friends, I have about a 50/50 spilt of moms that work outside of the home and moms that stay-at-home. Many of the moms that work grew up with stay-at-home moms, and I swear, they are holding themselves to an insane standard. They work all day, come home, make dinner, take care of the kids, and then spend the whole weekend cleaning the house just to do it all again the next week. I was doing the same thing for a while, but all I have to say is thank god for therapy.

A smart person once told me that your life and the time you have available can be viewed as a pie. You can change where you spend each slice of your time, but the pie itself doesn't get any bigger. As a working mom, I already spend at least 8 hours of my 24 hour day working. And another 8 sleeping (To be civil. I know, thanks to Maggie, that I can survive on much less. But it's ugly). That leaves me a total of 8 hours to do everything else. I'm sure that other moms agree, I'd like some time to myself to relax and recoup and also get in some quality time with my family. So we do the following:

  • Aaron is a huge part of this household. He contributes equally in every way. This was hard in the beginning with the kids - I had this NEED to tell him what to do and how to do it. I finally let it go. Sometimes, he may do things differently than I would - but so long as it's getting done and I'm not involved, I let him go for it.

  • We have cleaning people. They come into my house every two weeks, change all the sheets and clean things top to bottom in less than 2 hours. For the cost of a nice dinner out. I'm willing to sacrifice going out to eat to not deal with DEEP cleaning. We still do spot cleaning, but I'm never pulling up my sleeves, donning cleaning gloves and getting down on my hands and knees.

  • We eat dinner together, almost every night. Sure. It's a bit of a circus to get things done (and this is the second part of my post) but for at least 30 minutes every day the 4 of us are in the same room and connecting. And the more often we do it, the more used to it that the kids are. I usually cook, Aaron gets the kids from daycare, and when the get home, the kids set the table while Aaron makes drinks for everyone (Mommy's usually has vodka, lol)

The only way I'm able to get a dinner on the table for the whole family is by making it in advance. I either use a freezer meal, or a crockpot meal. Now, while I do love the crockpot, it's not great for EVERY meal. I think the crockpot is great for roasts, chilis, and stews. Before I found freezer meals, I would pretty much grill some sort of meal every day. That was all I had time for. Which got old fast, and back in the day when all my money wasn't being sucked into childcare, we would end up going out to eat at least 3 days a week.

Enter freezer meals. The idea is you take a block of time to assemble a bunch of meals, and then you can pull them out of the freezer and cook them when you are ready. It costs a bit more than doing it yourself (about $4 a serving with Dream Dinners), but less than take out. And you end up saving money because you aren't throwing away uncooked food at the end of the week that you ended up not having time to cook. Most meals take between 30 minutes to an hour to cook - which gets us at the dinner table by 6. Plenty of time to eat and get the kids to bed without meltdowns.

I started, 5 years ago, going to a non-chain store locally (called the Gathering Kitchen), but they shut down. I moved to Dream Dinners and have been very happy with them so far. Thing is, the Dream Dinners close to me have all shut down (thank you, recession) so I'm driving 60 minutes round trip to spend 45 minutes assembling dinner. Which honestly, is still worth it, but the other issue is that the serving sizes they offer is 3 or 6. 6 is way to much, but now that Maggie and Cam are eating what we eat, 3 is often to little.

My current project is seeing if it makes sense to do try and do this with another friend on the street. Because a lot of the allure of Dream Dinners is that you aren't buying (for example) a whole container of craisens when you only need 1 Tsp for a recipe. I've gotten a few books that have recipes, and am researching prices and container options this weekend. If it works out like I think it will, I'll be saving (more) time and (more) money.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Picture Wednesday

I feel like you all need some cute baby pictures.

Here is the gang 'helping' me with the laundry. Cam dumps the laundry out of the basket and then they both climb in.

Here they are helping me make tomato sauce. This was truly helping! Maggie would put the tomatoes in, and Cam would crank the machines - they did this with me until it was done, almost 45 minutes. Who knew it was that exciting?

When I got home from India, there is a small chance I took the kids out and let them have ice cream for lunch. Maggie was a fan.

Aaron has been working every night creating Cam's firetruck bed. On Sept 11th, we put the first bit of paint on it. Seemed like the right day to be working on it.

And finally, on Saturday, Aaron watched a bunch of my friend's kids while we went to another friend's art opening. There were 6 'big' kids (from 10 - 14 years old) and then Cam and Maggie. One of the moms brought this big cardboard box, and it entertained EVERYONE for 2 hours. Aaron didn't even stay in the same room with them.

Maggie decorated it with markers, the big kids made an elaborate drawbridge and some windows and Cam declared it his firehouse, and spent the evening filling it up with all his firetrucks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back to it

It's funny. I was away for 10 days. I had no children, no husband, no work. No one to worry about but myself. No toddlers to feed, no laundry to sort, no dogs to clean up after. Being on a break like that was great for me, I think. But what shocks me somewhat is how easily I've just shifted right back into my 'normal' life.

Like there was never a break. Things here are crazy. Work is so insane right now it's actually laughable. I've got my two wonderful kids just being kids.

Maggie won't stop hitting people. We tell her no and move her away. She either turns around and runs back and hits again, or throws herself to the ground and freaks out. She is 22 months old - help? We've never needed to do time-outs with Cam, and I think she's too young anyway. What the heck do I do? She is a bit of a whirling dervish. She doesn't get what she wants? Complete and total freak out. Monday night, she wanted to stay in the tub. It was well past her bedtime, so we took her out and tried to get her ready for bed. She cried for 2 hours. TWO FULL HOURS. At first, I thought she was sick, so I went up and held her, rocked her - it was like trying to hold an angry cat. She was so loud she woke up Cam (so then I had TWO crying babies), and needed DADDY. Aaron came up and finally got her calmed down by letting her play with his iPhone, and she finally passed out. I think she was just overtired....I have to admit I was thinking at one point during this two hour scream fest - are we showing her that if she flips out, Daddy will come and play with her? But it didn't happen last night - I think she just worked herself up so much and was so tired that she couldn't self-soothe. But my friends. The force is strong with this one.

And Cam is just this crazy ball of Big Boy. Big boys sleep in BIG beds. Big Boys use the potty. Big Boys ride REAL bikes. It's hard to keep up with him! And it's also hard to believe that he will only be 3 in December.

Both kids have just shot up in size. I had to do my seasonal purge a bit early. Baby clothes require SO much more work then you would think!Sorting through what fits, what we should save. What to donate, what to try to sell.... it's just a bit overwhelming at times. I had everything dumped out in our guest room, and was slowly working through it (in that I'd pop my head in every once in a while and then walk away because I didn't want to deal with it), when our good friend Darrin called and asked if he could stay at our house for a few days. I overhear Aaron say 'We've always got room for you!' and I was like.... um. Not right now! And spent 4 hours sorting, chucking, organizing and putting things into bins. My system, though a pain in the ass, works great. I put each size in a big bin, and on the outside, I label what's in there. If someone offers me handmedowns, I can check quickly if it's something we need.

That's my life. I love it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Traveling to India - my trials and tips

I'm guessing that most of my daily readers aren't planning on trips to India, but maybe people will google and find this. I would have loved a little write up on what to do as a woman traveling alone in India.

I think when you read this, you must know that my travel style is to try everything. I'm not afraid of failure. I try different foods (assuming that they seem well cooked - I'm not risking food illness) because what is the worst? I may not like it. I go to local places, and I try to experience the culture as much as a can (which in this case wasn't always easy because I don't speak the language). I also go in with the idea that if it's a success, it's fun - if it fails, at least I have a good story! And I also usually have the option to 'fix' it. If I hated traveling on the train, I would have sprung for a taxi home. If the hotel sucked, I would have switched. I'm a pretty flexible traveler. Which I think allows me to do and try more things than the average person.

First off, the people are friendly. Maybe too friendly, as many people wanted to practice their English with me. But don't be afraid to travel alone. I think the worst thing to be afraid of is pickpockets. I walked around with confidence and kept my bag close.

Pre-paid taxi stands are your friend. At all airports and railway stations, you will find these. Most places they are right out front. At the Old Delhi train station I needed to walk a bit, but they exist. Only the guy INSIDE the booth gives you the price. You will walk through a sea of people offering you taxi rides for probably at least double if not triple what you would pay at the pre-pay booth. At one point, I was at the window talking to the guy (he told me that it was 140 rupees to go where I wanted) and another taxi guy was telling me 200 rupees. They'll pressure you until you pay the guy - it's amazing.

If there isn't a pre-paid taxi stand, insist on a meter. I actually had to tell someone to stop to let me out because he wouldn't turn on the damn meter

Be ready to barter. Everything is up for negotiation. At first, it's fun. They give you a price, you offer half of that, and then you go back and forth. Sometimes you walk away. If they chase after you, you know you can still negotiate. They won't sell it for less than it cost. By the end of the trip, I was so done with this. Usually what I would do is set a price in my mind that I thought it was worth to me. Like cool pashmina scarf - $20 seemed fair to me. As long as I hit that price I was happy, but sometimes I got significantly lower.

What to wear. Sure, it's hot. But nobody wears shorts or tank tops. I got by with t-shirts and capris. Bring your own sunscreen.

Go to Agra. Seeing the Taj Mahal was one of the top 5 experiences of my life. It's amazing and majestic. No matter why you are in India - make it to Agra. Trains are cheap, and domestic flights are reasonable. Some people gave me advice to take a personal car tour of the Taj starting in New Dehli. This would have cost me about $400. I took a train back and forth for $30, and got a pre-paid taxi cab for 8 hours around Agra for 1500 rupees ($30). You can see everything worthwhile there in less than 5 hours. If possible, get to the Taj first thing in the morning before it's crazy crowded (the buses start arriving from New Delhi at 10). If you stay until sunset, ask a taxi driver to take you to Mehtab Bagh. This is a garden - but don't actually go into the garden. If you walk down the edge of this park, towards the water, you can see the 'backside' of the Taj. It's a great, not too crowded place to watch the sunset. When I was there, I was with maybe 20 other tourists.

Take a train. The train system is a HUGE part of Indian life. And they are safe and a very reasonable way to travel. I took a 6.5 hour express train to Jaipur, first class AC, and it cost me $21. You can book in advance on Cleartrip. But if you happen to need to book it the day of - there are tourist offices IN the railway stations (the ones outside are scams) that save a few seats for tourists usually. I mostly rode in first class AC, but second class is also fine - just make sure you are in an AC carriage. DO NOT EAT THE TRAIN FOOD.

NOTE: Be aware of scams. If you have a ticket in hand, it is good. An e-ticket print out IS a valid ticket. I had a moment of freak out when someone tried to tell me that my eticket wouldn't work, and that I needed to be at the station 2 hours before the train to confirm my seat. That is bullshit. I would recommend getting there a bit early to get on the right platform and settle in - but you don't have to check in like you do for a flight.

Drink the coffee. They make is with boiled milk, not water. It's delicious.

Try a heritage hotel. I only booked one hotel for myself - in Jaipur. They did have the tried and true US chains there, but for $120 a night and no charm. I risked it and stayed at the Umiad Bhuvan guest house for $40 a night. Great place!

Get a Aruvedic Massage.

I think that's it. The most amazing trip ever. I only wished I got to share it with Aaron.