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.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The 63% Juice

Do you coupon?

I sometimes do. Sometimes not.

One of the first arguments Kevin and I ever had centered around couponing.

Within weeks of moving in with each other, I was laid off from my job as a Document Control Coordinator (yes, as boring as it sounds). I determined that while looking for a new job, I'd try to save us as much money as I could.

This included couponing.

Kevin joined me on one of my couponing outings and as I reached for a container of juice (free with a great coupon), he said he wanted a different kind. I told him this one was free, so he should just suck it up and drink it. I really don't remember what else was said, but I remember standing in the middle of the juice aisle ... crying.

This time around with coupons, I'm trying to have more fun with it. I have a group of friends that get together about once a month to swap coupons (mostly it's an excuse to have an evening out). We meet at a coffee shop and spend two hours clipping coupons and talking about good deals that are out there.

I spend about 30 minutes every Sunday morning going through the ads and blogs, and clipping coupons out of the papers (I get three Sunday papers to be able to take full advantage of the coupons). This morning, as I reviewed the grocery ads and coupons, I discovered I had a great combination of coupons to redeem. I do most of my couponing alone, but Kevin wanted to come this morning.

This trip to the store reminded me a bit of the "juice trip" ... but, it also didn't.

Before leaving, I pulled out all the coupons I knew I would use and reviewed the ad one last time. We entered the store and Kevin followed my lead. I was able to get everything on my list and more. Kevin noticed a few deals in the store that weren't in the ad ... go, him!

So, here's the breakdown: (Q = coupon)

Oh, I have some friends who will be completely unimpressed (like Kris) ... and I have some friends taking notes (like Jen). Click on the names to see some of the good deals they've been able to pull off.

3 Red Baron pizza ... sale 3/$10 and I had 3 $1 Qs
3 12pack Coke ... sale 3 12packs/$11 ... in store deal for 3 FREE PowerAdes and I had a FREE 2 pack of 50 oz. bottles Q

For the rest of the products, for every $10 you spent, you automatically got $3 off

6 Cheezits ... sale 4/$10 ... and 3 x $1.50/2 Qs
6 Duncan Hines ... sale 10/$10 ... and 3 x $.55/2 Qs
5 Welch's ... sale 4/$10 ... and 5 x $.75 Qs
3 Pepperidge Farm toast... sale 4/$10 ... and 3 x .50 Qs
3 Nestle cookies ... sale 4/$10 ... and 3 x $1 Qs
2 Barber chicken ... sale 2/$10 ... and 2 x $1 Qs

So, there was an instant $12 savings for the $40+ worth of product I bought.

Then, I had a $3 off $30 purchase Q for Jewel and a $2 savings Q for taking a survey (look at the bottom of your receipts, ya'll)!!!

Transaction began at $122.21
- Preferred Card savings - $48.85
- Manufacturers Qs - $22.59
- Jewel Qs - $5.00

Total $45.77 (a 63% savings)

One more thing ... the pizza deal included 3 FREE RedBox rental codes (a $3 value) ... Wow! And I got a Q that printed out to save $3 on 4 Welchs ... so, tomorrow, I can go back and get 4 more for $4! (I hope Kevin doesn't get sick of all this juice ;) And, one more bonus ... I don't have to go junk food shopping for a long, long, time!

Couponing Rocks ... GO, ME!!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Milk Carton 5k

The most recent issue of Family Fun magazine had a great green project that I just had to do. They turned milk cartons into lunch and snack boxes!

It was very easy to do and the only thing I had to buy was Velcro since I buy milk in cartons anyway. It's a great size for Lubbock to carry his gold fish in (or any other snack) and fits perfectly on that little shelf in the grocery cart.

Click here for instructions!

On a different subject ... I've signed up for my first 5k! I'm doing the "couch potato to 5k" training program and it's going really well. I'm not a super fast runner ... but, I'm not at all trying to push myself for fear of hurting my knees again.

My first goal is to just be able to get the 5k under my belt without walking ... I don't really care what my time is ... I'm not trying to set any world records. Just personal ones.

So, if you're local ... and you want to be in my cheering section ... let me know and I'll get the info to you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Fridge Raider

Lubbock has a mind of his own sometimes. I have no idea where he gets that from!

A typical breakfast for him is a waffle and an apple. But, not this morning. He wanted something else.

He pushed his chair to the fridge; opened it; then climbed into it. He looked around and then got back down. I suppose he was just making sure there wasn't anything better.

I've been trying to empty the freezer and pantry lately, so there really weren't too many options.

I guess what he really wanted was in the pantry.

So, what did Lubbock have for breakfast?

Chocolate milk and cookies.

Don't you judge me!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Old Gray Mare

... just ain't what she used to be.

This morning, the light must have been extra harsh in the bathroom because I felt my gray hairs were screaming at me from the vanity mirror.

Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of your own head? I also feel like I may be thinning up there! I don't recommend taking a picture of this angle of yourself ... yikes!

I determined a few years ago that I would grow 'old' gracefully. I suppose I also thought this amount of gray would be further down the road.

Perhaps I should reconsider my determination!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Alter Ego

Have I mentioned I have a two year old lately?

And that he's discovered his alter ego "Mr. Make a Mess."

I know this is a stage that's going to end any day, right?

Anyway, on the list of my favorite messes:

The Elmo coloring book that was in his bedroom ... I put him in his bed for a nap. I heard "ere u o" (here you go) and then saw a piece of paper slide under the door. This went on for a while ending with "ank u" (thank you). Then he went to bed.

The coozie I placed on his sippy cup ... His new stainless steel sippy cups get really cold when I put milk in them, so I put a coozie on it to keep his hands safe. He bit off tiny pieces and placed it in a pile on the loveseat. I was so confused when I found the pile because I couldn't figure out what it was for a few minutes. He was really mad when I threw it all away. I guess it was fun.

And my least favorite mess was the paint on the face ... I decided to try painting ceramic with him knowing this was going to be a test of my patience. I was determined to get a cute piece of artwork to give Kevin for his birthday. Lubbock's sole interest was eating the paint. I asked the gals at the store if it was non-toxic to only hear "Dunno." I'm assuming it is. If you know otherwise, since it's too late ... don't tell me. I don't wanna know.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Orange Chili Surprise

Do you have a favorite time of the day?

I've long had a fascination with the time of day the mail arrives. Even if it's junk mail, bills, or a shrinking investment statement. Somehow, it's just fun. It's probably because you don't know what is going to be there. A little like opening a present each day.

But, then there's the days that you actually do get something you want! A great note from a friend far away.

I'm still smiling.

In addition to the great card, my dear friend included two little glass chili magnets (that are now on my cookie sheet/message boards in my desk area) and a magnetic recipe card holder with a yummy sounding meat loaf recipe already loaded! It's especially great that the card holder is magnetic because I have metal cabinets and am always searching for cool magnetic kitchen gadgets.

Here's a picture of where it will be when I make the meat loaf.

And to send a smile back to Melisa ... the picture includes one of my messy corners! Yes, that's a dead battery, slightly rotten bananas, a grocery bag filled with clean dishtowels (I didn't have a basket that was empty), the groceries that were at one time in that bag, a pair of Lubbock's underwear (it was washed with the dishtowels, so it is clean), and a few other things that don't belong in this corner of the kitchen.

But ... this isn't the only surprise this week! My thrifty friend, Kris, found a purse that had my name written all over it. She didn't say it, but I think she did a star dance when she found it for me. An orange, patent leather shoulder bag! I'm in love with it.

I truly believe I have the best friends on earth.

So ... since you've read this post ... you have a challenge. Send a kind note to a friend the old fashioned way ... through the real mail! Stamps have gone up, if you haven't heard ... forty-four cents. But, it'll be worth it.

As for me ... I am finally going to complete the thank you notes from Lubbock's birthday party and then get straight to work on sending out a kind note to a few of my special friends!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The County Fair

We took Lubbock to the Kane County Fair over the weekend and all had a blast. I think, for Kevin, it was one of the first times he got to do things that were fun for him and Lubbock. I could truly see the joy in their faces. Not that this picture captures joy, but still a pretty funny face!

We got to the fair just as Lubbock took his nap, so we were able to just wander around and take our time looking at all the 4H displays and awards given to vegetables and flowers. You know ... all the things that would have bored Lubbock to tears.

Once he woke up, we took him to the petting zoo where he got to feed all sorts of animals and chase a chicken. He rode a pony and took a tractor-inspired tricycle for a spin.

The ferris wheel was a great time and I was only slightly nervous about Lubbock not being securely fastened while we were that high. We took a spinning pumpkin ride (as pictured above) and then finished it off with a funnel cake (he wasn't a fan) and a cherry limeade ... which he loved.

Lubbock loved the whole adventure and said "yay!" several times. Kevin couldn't keep a smile off his face. I enjoyed watching the two of them bond and kept thinking about how special the relationship is between these two. Kevin was happy just because Lubbock was happy. Ah! Bliss.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Great Road Trip of 2009


Here it is ... my first posting since arriving home from The Great Road Trip of 2009.

For the first leg, Lubbock and I spent three and a half days in St. Paul, Minnesota ... we went to spend time with the Irwin family. They were up from Oklahoma so that one of their girls could have surgery. While Dad was working, Mom was at the hospital and I (attempted) to be a mom to the other kiddos. The whole family was so brave!

And I'm giving a major shout-out to all my mommy friends of more than one child. I was exhausted after the first day!

So drove back home on Wednesday and then on Thursday ... set off for Texas!

We tag-teamed the drive and made it straight through with no problem. Lubbock was a trooper and with the help of a borrowed travel DVD player, we had no major breakdowns.

The highlights of the lakehouse visit included a golfcart parade (our entry shown), sparklers, a ride on the boat, a swim in the lake (not for me, though ... no, thanks!), lots of great food, lots of fun with family, and a cute kitten.

We drove back to Illinois and spent the next two days recovering from vacation. I know. It doesn't sound like much. But, we hit all the important things for vacation.

I spent time with Kevin, Kevin spent time with Lubbock, and we all spent time together!

For the last 'home' part of Kevin's vacation, we worked hard on decluttering the basement some more. We got rid of another car load of crap. And I posted some more things on freecycle yesterday. My next area of focus really needs to be my crafting area.

Since most of my friends also seemed to be on vacation at the same time ... what were your highlights???

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Top of the Cupcake

Lubbock's friend, Joey, from down the street turned two this week and we went to his early birthday party over the weekend. There was lots of bubble-play, swinging, running, and sugar!

When it was time to sing "Happy Birthday," the kids were so excited. Having been to a few parties lately, I think Lubbock was starting to get the hang of this birthday party thing.

Singing = cupcakes. Some pretty good math!

Except that Lubbock's mom takes the fun out of cupcakes. I am not crazy about messes, so I always wipe the frosting off the cupcakes before giving it to him. Can you tell by the look on his face that he is quite aware that he's missing something?

Joey had so much fun that I was told he went inside after his party and sprawled out on the couch ... worn out from too much fun.

His big sister, Eleanor, was so gracious about letting it be Joey's day. She really seemed to get it, which is really amazing for kids at this age ... must be great parenting!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Star Dance

Do you have a "star dance?"

Oh, sorry ... you don't speak Natalese. Let me explain.

If you are so excited about something you literally cannot stay still ... you do a little dance ... maybe just in your head, maybe you pump your fist. Or, if you're me ... you actually dance. It's a star dance.

What brought on my star dance today? A trip to JoAnns to pick up some glue. I have to walk up and down the clearance section when I visit any and all craft stores. You know ... just in case there's some fabulous deal that I just cannot live without.

Or ... in this case ... a free very sturdy Sharpie display! Can you believe it? Free! Yes, free. All I had to do was:
  • notice said empty display sitting in the clearance section
  • find employee and play dumb about seeing if something is for sale (of course it's not, it's just a display case that ran out of 50 cent Sharpies)
  • wait while employee tracks down manager
  • ask manager what they plan on doing with it (while thinking "please let me have it, please let me have it")
  • smile and do your star dance when the manager helps load it into your cart

I suppose you're wondering why I'm so giddy about this Sharpie display, huh? Well, I was just saying the other day that I needed some sort of organization tool to help control small die-cut paper. If I cut too many trains or ladybugs or circles, I need a great way to store them. This will be great! I should be able to start a small inventory of commonly used shapes. Yay!

One other free thing to mention ... my friend, Melisa, is having a giveaway relating to a website called Handipoints. This website helps parents with getting kids involved in doing chores around the house. Kids love it ... from what I hear. It's geared toward kids of at least 'computer-using' age. So, if that sounds like something you could use ... get on over there and check it out. It's free!

So, if you win, do me one favor ... do a star dance!

What makes you do a star dance?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Half Birthday Wish List

I'm writing this entry to celebrate my half birthday. To know me is to know that I love birthdays of every shape and size! Especially half birthdays.

I told someone that the theme color this summer is orange. And since I'm trying to focus on buying green and/or handmade products ... I've discovered the perfect combination:

An ornj tote sit double and a wrightsan recycled plastic wallet to go with it. Do you have to ask what's on my wish list?

The bag is made from used construction fencing by artist, David Shock of Detroit. "Creating boldness out of blight" says his website. Agreed!

The base of the tote is reused corrugated plastic and the handles are bamboo.

If you're worried about items falling out ... add the recycled sweatshirt liner.

And this wallet would just send me over the moon!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Blue Want

It's almost midnight and I can't sleep ... so ... what do I do?

Cruise Etsy, of course!!!

In recent facebook discussions, I have come to realize that some people actually don't know about Etsy ... *gasp* ... so, if you know about Etsy, great. But, have you heard about Artfire?

Back to Etsy ... I ran across this really cute pendant. I can already say that I love these since I have the brown and green ones. I love wearing them. And when people notice what they are ... they are a little tickled. The tops of bottles! How green ... and blue.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Butterfly House

Since I learned about it over almost a year ago, I've wanted to visit the Butterfly House at Peck Farm. When I finally got around to going ... it was closed for the season. I was so sad. I suppose that is a huge difference between Texas and Illinois ... seasons. While I enjoy most things about them ... things being closed for months at a time is certainly not one of them.

So, when I read it was opening on May 23rd, I did not wait long to visit. My Wednesday playgroup rounded up the kids and went on a butterfly watching adventure. We let the kids play outside of the tent for a while to let them burn off some energy. The tent is somewhat small and we didn't want them to bring harm to any of the fragile little beauties!

There is a small room where they let you in (and keep butterflies from getting out) and then the kind workers explained the rules. I'm sure this was intended for the moms as seven toddlers can't follow the simple rules of: don't climb on the rocks, don't touch the butterflies, and ... oh, I forgot the rest. But, I think they were very well-behaved and (that I know of) no butterfly wings are missing.

A few funny stories ... well, not funny ... but stories:

- When the lady explained the rules ... she mentioned something about butterflies eating when they sit on the flowers. Two of the kids piped up that they eat, too! They were pretty excited to have something in common with butterflies, I suppose.

- One butterfly was sitting on the walking path and just about everyone tried stepping on it (not on purpose, of course). The kids would get very close and were very observant. Then, it would move a few inches quickly and all the kids would jump back ... Joey saying "ow!"

- Hailey is fascinated with all things moving ... she kept getting really close to each butterfly and would say "hi!" It amazed me that these butterflies were so calm and just sat around enjoying the flowers and bright sunlight.

In other news ... Kevin and I joined a softball team. We're not great. We ended our first two games thanks to the 'slaughter' rule ... you know ... where one team scores so many points, they just put you out of your misery. We scored two runs in our third game. Go us! Last night ... we topped it all! We were actually leading at the end of the first inning ... and scored three runs! The other team scored nine ... semantics.

We celebrated adult-style and are very fortunate for a college-aged babysitter who's allowed to stay out after midnight. Yes, on a work night!

My friend, Kris, gave me a present last night ... a recycled wool business card holder! She hearts wool and I think I'm becoming a bit obsessed, too. I'm also very impressed with her ability to sew! It's got a cool balloon and stitched string on it ... so cute for my shindigs for kids business cards! She made this from bits of wool sweaters that have been 'felted' ... or ... accidentally washed and shrunk. I didn't know people did that on purpose! Either way ... there's so much you can do with that sweater. And Kris will tell you all about it at Resweater.

And now ... speaking of handmade and butterflies ... way to combine two topics, Nata-Leigh!

Why, thank you!

I found the cutest little upcycled crayons for a certain someone's ladybug themed party and they arrived in the mail today ... along with a butterfly one. I'll build the suspense for the ladybug ones ... but here's a look at the butterfly. Just about the cutest thing ever! I heart drawing with it because no two lines are the same color. Fun for all ages! And a great use of old, broken crayons. You can make them yourself ... or if you lack the patience ...

Scrappers by Design is having a moving sale if you want a few for yourself. But, act quickly ... I think today is the last day!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Training Train

I have completed the fronts of Joey's 2nd birthday party invitations. I can't really take full responsibility for the whole "two toot" idea ... even though Heather told me I could. But for some reason, I feel that wouldn't be completely honest to post it without saying so.

On the inside ... "we're on track for a toot-in' good time." So cute!

The one great thing about doing these cards for friends is that it is providing me with an excellent training opportunity. It's helping me determine pricing structures and get better at determining how long it takes for each element in a card.

I've got lots more to learn, I'm sure. But, for right now ... I'm having so much fun starting this new adventure.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Un-Gardener

I potted some flowers for the front porch and had enough left over for one pot in back ... yes, orange flowers.

This is the theme color for this summer. All orange, all the time.

I did buy a big yellow watering can and Lubbock likes to help me water so much, I decided he needed his own little can. So, he enjoys helping me water with his own can.

Apparently, he also loves unplanting the flowers. Not that they were really planted to begin with. I kinda sorta just pulled each plant out of the little square and placed it on top of the soil in the pot. I was in a hurry and meant to get back later and fix them. But, alas ... I haven't gotten back to them.

I'm so envious of people who have the patience to grow flowers and vegetables and spend hours a day weeding and pruning. I'm not sure it's in my blood. I do love looking at them, though.

In fact, I think I need to get to Morton Arboretum soon to have a nice long walk through all the pretty flowers and gardens. That sounds so relaxing! Anyone wanna join me?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Review of the Zoo

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, our family visited a zoo. I was bit on the back of my leg by some kind of bird. I remember it as a duck for some reason. It left a little blood blister, but I was fine. The only lasting consequence was my disdain for zoos. Ever since then, I can't stand the thought of going. The smell of animals, the sight of the little plastic melty waxy toys you can buy in the vending machines, and the feel of the feed you buy in the gumball-like dispensers all take me back to "the attack." Yes ... that traumatic!

My Wednesday playgroup has scheduled Phillips Park Zoo a few times in the past, but the weather never seemed to work out. Darnit. They have attempted to convince me that it doesn't smell, there aren't animals loose, and it's free ... attempting to appeal to my cheap-ness. Most of them had already been and promised me it was a great place to go.

Last Wednesday, it was on the calendar again. And so was rain. It looked like I dodged the bullet again, except it was only occasionally sprinkling. So, everyone decided to chance it and go. Sigh.

I'm so happy we went and now it's one of my new favorite places. I'm sorry it took me so long to get there, but I promise not to drag my feet next time. The animals don't smell and the only thing loose was a snake for the kids to touch. It was securely held by a zookeeper.

They have a large playground area with plenty of covered picnic tables. I wouldn't suggest going there unless the ground is dry (it was really muddy on Wednesday). But, it was still fun.

A side note to the playgroup ... don't think this makes me want to jump into a big zoo like Brookfield. I wouldn't call myself a zoo-fan yet ... just a person that tolerates this zoo!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Burn and the Fire

I've never been known to take a fall gracefully. This was no exception.

My friend, Rutu, was up from Texas with his fiancee (of about one week ... congrats, man). I was really excited to head over to Chicago for dinner and drinks and to see other friends like Nadine, Cormac and Deven. I even convinced my sister to tag along. I had on a super cute jean skirt and my new yellow shirt (from Lubbock's party).

We walked out the front door, made it down the porch stairs and as I was doing my last minute "make-sure-I-have-my-cell-phone-and-wallet" check ... bam!

I forgot I have another set of steps at the end of the sidewalk. It wasn't a very graceful fall. I landed with my skirt hiked up and everything! Oy!

So, I went in and washed off my knee and put some ointment on and thought ... I'm a tough girl ... I should still go. But, then I looked down and the blood was dripping down my knee. Hmmm. Maybe I should stay home.

I texted my apologies (along with a picture as proof) and tried to figure out what to do with my night.

Of course! Build a fire!

We bought a fire pit last week in hopes of using it while our friends were over for an evening grillout, but we never got around to it. If there's one thing I learned from growing up around two Eagle Scouts and a Queen Scout (the Canadian equivalent ... yes ... Queen Scout) ... it's how to build a fire. Well, there's other things ... but I'm talking about fires right now.

So, I got some dryer lint and dried up clumps of grass and small, medium, and large twigs and built myself a tee pee. Kevin tried helping, but all he was doing was putting logs on before it was ready. He almost killed my fire three of four times. But, I triumphed and had a roarin' fire shortly! Go, me!

My sister got her tent out and set it up (to make sure she had all the parts for her trip to Wakarusa this weekend). Lubbock loved going in and out and in and out. I think he needs a tent, too. How fun would that be?

I'm not a big fan of camping. I hate being dirty, I hate bugs, I hate peeing in the woods. In fact, I think the last time I went camping ... a tornado warning was so close to where we were that we decided to pack up and leave. (You can imagine my disappointment.)

In shindigs for kids news ... I have my first two 'gigs' booked! Thanks, Audrey and Heather. They're friends, but I think they count. Audrey is doing a ladybug themed second birthday party and Heather is doing a train party for Joey's second birthday. Both are going to be super cute. In fact ... I have the outside of the ladybug cards complete ... what do you think?

They're very three-dimensional ... the ribbon going from the '2' to the ladybug making it look like the ladybug is flying. I couldn't decide if I liked the loop or the lazy 'S' better, so I did some of both. I hope Audrey likes them!