Monday, June 21, 2010

The Glee of Three

The last few months have flown by and before I knew it, I ran out of time to make Lubbock's birthday party invitations.

Pick your jaw up off the floor!

The invitations for birthdays one and two were extremely intricate, but I had lots of fun making them. The idea I had for the third party invitation never looked as good in life as it did in my head.

After a few attempts, I gave up and turned to my favorite card website, Tiny Prints, to do the work for me. Once I admitted that I ran out of time, there was a sense of relief that took over me and planning the rest of the party was a breeze.

The plan was to load the kids up with sugar and send them home for lunch. So, I needed some fun ways of incorporating music and mayhem (or sugar).

With my dad's help, I was able to assemble a Sound Garden out of dowel rods, cowbells, and a variety of metal bake ware from Goodwill. This idea worked out even better in real life than in my head, so I was happy about that. I set out some shorter dowel rods (or drumsticks) and the kids went crazy.

I've left it up and my backyard neighbor even commented about how cheerful it looks and hasn't minded the noise a bit. You really can't make much noise with dowel rods, anyway, so I'm sure that helps! And now that the orange flowers in the bush have bloomed, it looks like it's meant to be there all along.

I set up an assortment of candy, cleverly disguised as an egg shaker making station. And I asked a friend of mine to make some beautifully decorated cookies that matched the party's colors perfectly.

I made his cake this year ... well, assembled his cake. I bought an already frosted cake from the grocery store and covered ... no ... really covered it with Mike & Ikes. It was another way to raise the sugar to minute ratio of the party.

The yellow gift baskets were a big hit. They included a few musical instruments, an egg shaker filled with chocolate, a big three-shaped cookie, and two CDs: one with Lubbock's favorite dance music and another with his favorite lullabies.

Lubbock was so excited to have all of his friends over and was the perfect party host. As his guests arrived, he ran over to the juice box station and handed them out. He also made sure all the kids knew the egg shakers had candy in them.

He's so lucky to have so many friends. It's been great for me to see how his relationships have bloomed as he's known some of these kids since he was six weeks old. I can't help but wonder what the future holds for them all: school, sports, driving, college, weddings ... and then I remember, he's only three!

My dad and Colleen (or, Papa and Mama Teen) were able to make it out to Illinois again for Lubbock's party. I know he enjoys seeing Lubbock play with all his friends and loves seeing how much Lubbock has grown up. Lubbock's birthday party is the "holiday" my dad has claimed as his. So, he's been here each year!

Here's some of my favorite photos from this year:

Thanks, again, to Monica Bornhoff Photography!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Hot Mess Girl

I once listened to a speaker that had everyone look at their neighbor and say "I'm a mess."

We all laughed, but I thought. "Damn! I really am a mess."

What have I done lately? Tons ... especially considering my lack of concentration lately. Mostly because Kevin has made concerted efforts on the weekends to help me complete small projects.

We've finished cleaning out the basement. We've created a pantry area since we don't have one upstairs.

We sold our bedroom furniture on craigslist and purchased (with cash!) a new dresser, TV, and chair. We're still sleeping on the old box spring and mattress on the floor, ala college ... wait ... I actually can't remember the last time I slept like that. But, we aren't buying a bed frame until we find one we can agree on and pay cash for it. We'll see how long that will take.

My super awesome friend, Brandy, and her husband even came over to paint the room. Apparently, some people actually *enjoy* painting! Who knew?

I've gotten a really good grasp on my food budget and have become a (self-proclaimed) coupon expert. Promising not to turn this into a coupon blog, I will spare you the details. That's my coupon binder. Just one more bit of evidence that I am extremely OCD.

Along with reining in the food budget, we've got a household budget in play that seems to be reasonable. We've had budgets before and were somewhat good at sticking to them, but they always seemed to be unrealistic and we'd eventually give up. I'm looking at this like a diet. If you go off the deep end and go on some crazy water and grapefruit diet, you'll quit quickly. If you start with reasonable expectations, not expecting to lose the weight in two weeks, you may just get where you want. Perhaps that's only logical to me. But, we've got to start somewhere and the deep end hasn't worked well in the past.

We used Kevin's bonus to pay off his car and now have two paid-for cars in our driveway. We've got lots of little bills we've been scratching at for a year or so and they will be gone in the next month or so. Then ... we've got the biggies. The credit cards we used to make up the difference when my income disappeared (or ... looking on the bright side ... decided to stay home with Lubbock) and my student loans.

We'll get there. I have no doubt. We've stopped the bleeding by paying cash for things. I realize a wiser person would probably have kept the old bedroom furniture until the bills were paid, but ... no excuses ... I'm just not wise 100% of the time. After all ... I'm a mess.

I'm seeing a few signs of spring and that makes me optimistic. There are little green shoots of daffodils appearing on the side of my house, I can see the grass in my backyard, and I went out without a coat on the other day. I know we've still got another two or three months of snow, but little things like that keep me hopeful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Awesome Husband

I just wanted to let everyone know that my husband is so awesome.

On Friday, we had some friends over and the next morning ... well, I was not ready to face the day. So, he let me sleep in.

Until 11 am.

Then, because of this, I was completely unable to go to sleep Saturday night until 3 am.

So, Sunday ... he let me sleep in again! Until 10 am.

Who gets to do that twice in one weekend when they have a two year old???


And did I mention that he cleaned up my mess from making chili on Saturday? And he swept the house? And he made dinner tonight?

I think the older I get, the more my language of love is acts of service.

What's yours?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Trade-Off

Progress, right?

That's not what today is about, though.

I spent the morning looking at our budget. (I said the B word.) Budgets aren't fun. Budgets for the holidays are especially not fun. But, the budget must balance and the holiday money has to come from somewhere.

So, we're going drastic here, people! We're slashing the grocery and household budget down to $50/week. Maybe that still sounds like a lot, but it includes diapers, wipes, food, milk, and any thing needed to run our house in general.

The remainder of the amount that I normally use for this category is going toward Christmas. So, Merry Cash Christmas to us!

I've spent the last few months stocking up on good deals and have totally gotten the hang of this couponing business (it feels like a part time job sometimes). But, it's allowed us to have times where I meal plan around the pantry. Perhaps, not fresh, organic meals, but believe me ... we won't starve!

The big present that I'm excited about is what Santa's doing! (You're alone, right?) We've had this on-going play room project downstairs and Santa is sending his elves to help finish it up! I've just about got it decluttered, so I've done that part for the elves already.

They've got lots of work ahead of them: finish the mural, find a small bookcase (plea posted on freecycle ... check), install a floating floor (we've got some half-baked plan involving pallets, plywood, and outdoor carpeting ... we'll see how that goes), and a few other things.

Anyway, I'm sure it will be a present well worth the budget slashing and I can't wait to see the look on his face when we let him down there ... since it will be off limits starting December 11th ... in case any other elves want to come lend a "paint brush" hand!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Worm and the Why


Happy Halloween!

Due to all the rain we've had since the leaves fell off our two huge trees, we were unable to rake a single leaf until Halloween morning.

Lubbock and I kept Kevin company while he, literally, shoveled leaves. The rake just wasn't strong enough to move the piles.

I put up our Halloween decorations and Lubbock jumped in the leaves ... yes ... those are pajama bottoms on my child.

He had taken his cute little toy pig (thanks, Gretchen) out there with him, but lost it in all the foliage. I started pushing small portions of the pile aside when I realized I had a worm stuck to my hand.


I am *not* a fan of insects, bugs, grubs, or ... in general ... anything with more or less than two legs. But, I am also not a fan of pushing my dislikes onto my kid, so I 'manned up' and said, "Lubbock ... look ... a worm! Wow!"

I picked it up ... *gulp* ... and handed it to him. "Go show Daddy!"

Lubbock was so excited, "Worm! Daddy! Daddy! Worm!"

He played with that poor thing for a very long time. He carried the worm to one part of the yard, set him down very carefully, looked at a few leaves, picked him back up, showed him to Kevin again, and made a best friend.

I'm happy for him. Gross!
And, in case you're worried about the pig ... he was found.

Later that day, we teamed up with two very scary dragons to visit our neighbors and collect some yummy candy.

It didn't take too many houses for Lubbock to get the hang of Trick or Treating. Ring doorbell ... grab a handful of candy ... turn around and run back to Daddy ... yell "thank you." We couldn't get him to say "thank you" while still facing the homeowners, but at least it was said. And he really had no interest in saying "Trick or Treat!" ... I guess he figured that he got the candy either way, so there wasn't much point in wasting his breath.

As you can see, Lubbock was Super Why! He loves that show. I asked Beth if she'd be interested in helping carrying out the vision and she happily agreed. She had the great idea of using Velcro to attach the cape to his shirt. He loved wearing his costume and we're keeping the shirt in his regular wardrobe rotation because it's too dang cute!

On the list of other things that are too dang cute: Beth's own kiddos. They were a firefighter and a dalmatian.

Now that we're into November, I can start talking about Christmas, right? Yup, I'm one of those people! Thanksgiving and Christmas are one big holiday to me with no line drawn in the sand to divide the two.

I'm really excited about this Christmas since it will be our first one at "home." I'm excited to start new traditions with our little family.

What traditions does your family have?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Fine Line

Dear Friends,

You know me. You know my struggles. You know my successes.

You know they often co-exist.

After reading and re-reading several of the organizing, decluttering, cleaning books, the biggest thing I've taken away is that things always get worse before they get better.

And that often it's a very fine line between what you see on my desk and what you see in my bathroom.

A very fine line between what's going on in my front room ... what is going on in there? And what's going on in the living room (well, except for the "line up the books" game that is a constant favorite around here).

One of the books pointed out an extremely amusing similarity amongst clutterbugs ... they collect storage containers. Very interesting. It's always with the hopes of finally figuring out how to organize all that "stuff."

Yup ... that was my hope. But, the more stuff I get rid of ... the less stuff I have to organize. And the more the containers have become the clutter. Hmmm.

As I write this, I see a similarity to weight loss. You lose weight and you've got all your "fat clothes" and you keep them ... just in case. Just in case you're fat again. Wow! How unhelpful is that!!?!!

I've even said that about the containers. I'm keeping them in case I need them. A thought process I've just about eliminated when it comes to clutter, but for some reason allowed myself to apply to the containers.

In case ... what? In case I go back to my old ways and am swamped with so much stuff, I can't see straight?

I'm over you, containers. You're outta here!

Does anyone need a container or two? (Or twenty?)

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Sweater Hats

They're here! They're here!

I'm so excited. I wanted a unique hat for this winter. One that would keep my ears warm while running and one that would enable me to be visible to approaching traffic (why are all winter hats black?).

I found what I was looking for at That Funky Boutique on etsy. And, of course, Lubbock needed one, too. I guarantee nobody else will have our hats.

They are made out of old wool sweaters, so they are good for the environment and the Buy Handmade movement.