Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Anticipated Album

I really heart 'Ruby' by Apples in Stereo. The song truly puts me in a good mood. No matter what, I always sing at the top of my lungs and have an extra skip in my step when I listen to that song.

Now, Lubbock, can enjoy their stuff, too ... Robert Schneider of Apples in Stereo is releasing a kid's album on February 17, 2009! I am so excited. I can't wait. It's called Robbert Bobbert and the Bubble Machine. What a great title!

They've also got two tour dates listed, but it's no where near us ... so I'll just have to keep my eyes open. The count down begins!

I suppose I should add this ... the lyrics to 'Ruby' aren't exactly uplifting ... it's just the sound of the song and the 'ba ba ba' part in the middle that put me in such a good mood!

The Tagged Photo

Jen had a photo tag and since I've run out of material to ramble about, here's mine. 4th photo in the 4th folder. Proof that I am in desperate need of a better camera ... mine takes too long to focus and so I either wind up with a photo of something one or two seconds after what I really wanted or a blurry photo. I've learned to embrace the blurry photo, however.

This photo is from about a month ago ... Lubbock eating yogurt with a spoon. Me being very brave since I really hate messes. Really hate messes.

We've not had yogurt again.

Not that this is really on topic (I do realize I wasn't really on an interesting topic anyway), but tomorrow is the five year anniversary of when Kevin proposed. It's really insane to think that five years ago, we lived in Oklahoma City and couldn't even imagine what a kid in our life would mean. Now, here we are. It's been a really great last five years.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Almost One Week Break

I'm sorry it has taken so long to get back here, but I've been crazy busy with all sorts of social activities and as Lubbock isn't napping as long as he used to, something had to give.

Right now, Kevin is getting his oil changed, Lubbock is taking a nap, my mom (who is in town for the weekend again) is taking a nap, and I just completed the tedious task of calculating how much we donated to Goodwill last year ... almost $3200. Wow! That's a lot of clutter. More on clutter clearing later.

Let's go back to the beginning of the week.

The Frozen Back Seat

We found out just before Christmas that Kat had a cracked tooth. They were unable to do anything at the time because she had just had all her shots, so they said to wait until January and bring her in then. Our choices were to do a root canal (I think they said $5000, but I could be wrong) or extract it (a mere $250). I believe you know what I did. Anyway, she was beyond upset at having to go into her cage and peed all over the place, but I didn't notice the smell until we were already on our way to the vet. When I noticed that pee had leaked out of the cage, I was happy (yes, happy) that the weather was so frigid that day. The pee had simply frozen into little pee balls and were sitting on the seat. I simply wiped them up with a Kleenex! I've never been so happy for cold weather.

We were supposed to go to a play group that morning, too, but Lubbock was being B-A-D and I did not have the energy to try to take him out in public.

The Extreme Close Up

We went to the Red Oak Nature Center again, but this time with Jen, Lori, Hailey, and Sergio. We let them go crazy for about two hours and they loved every minute of it. I can't tell you how much I enjoy going there.

I was taking pictures of the kiddos running around looking at snakes and walking sticks and everything else and was zooming in and out. I took a picture of Lubbock and I, forgetting I was zoomed in. I like the picture anyway.

The Angry Volcano

Then Thursday morning came and my once monthly Mom's Together meeting. We're supposed to be there at 9:15a so there is time to drop off kids at the Kid's Together program and be back for a little chatting and breakfast prior to the speaker. Lubbock (aka my little alarm clock) decided to sleep in this particular morning. So, at 8a, I threw him in his seat for his breakfast, hopped in the shower, got out, put him in the tub, put the egg casserole in the oven to heat up, got ready, pulled Lubbock out of the tub, got him ready, put on makeup, pulled casserole out of over, placed in car, started car to warm up, put Lubbock in car, saw that it was 9:04a, thought ... "I can't believe I'll make it."

Famous last words.

I forgot that I told Heather I'd bring her grapes for her. So, take Lubbock back out of car, run into house, rinse and pluck grapes into a Ziploc bag, all the time, fighting with Lubbock that he need not be between me and the sink, anger building in me like a volcano (it's exactly what I was thinking right at that moment). But, we got back in the car, made it to the meeting and I was very thankful that anything involving moms and kids will never start on time.

Our speaker this month was Julie Barnhill. She was talking about mothers and anger and about her book, She's Gonna Blow. I thought it was quite spectacular when she likened anger to volcanoes, giving examples of explosions and lava and words spewing out of a mothers mouth. I knew exactly what she meant. They then reminded us that in two weeks, they were starting a book study class on Julie's book. A six week course with free child care. So, I signed up. I need it. It doesn't hurt that they're providing child care, but that wasn't exactly the top reason.

The Gas Can in My House

I think I've mentioned this, but the vehicle I bought just before having Lubbock had been sitting around for a year or two prior. I drove it around for a while, never paying attention to the gas gauge (or how far I had been driving) as it was sitting above 3/4 of a tank. While driving around when I was 10 months pregnant, the car broke down. Fortunately, I was right in front of a mechanic. They looked the car over and after about 15 minutes, informed me I had run out of gas.

"But, I had 3/4 a tank ... how is that possible?"

They shrugged and told me where the nearest gas station was. They donated a gallon to the cause to get me there and refused payment, possibly thinking the longer they kept me on their property, the more likely the possibility of me having my baby right there!

A few weeks later, I was driving with Lubbock to show him off at my old office, when I ran out of gas again. I was tracking my miles, thinking that surely I could go 300 miles on a tank of gas (since that's what my last car got). Wrong. Again, fortunately, my good friend, Bill, was able to bring me a gallon of gas and we were on our way ... vowing that from then on, I would never go past 200 miles without filling up.

That was over a year and a half ago.

Thursday afternoon, I was running late for my doctor's appointment and thought, I'll fill up afterward. I made it to the appointment and as I was just thinking about filling up, I noticed that my needle was down at 1/4 of a tank. Is it possible that it fixed itself (something my mechanic told me was possible, but I had given up hope of)? I called Kevin and told him of the amazing event of the day. I then called my sister and started planning our afternoon together.

Sputter, sputter. Heart dropping.

I ran out of gas. I was able to pull off the busy road, but not able to make it to the gas station (about another 1/2 mile up the road). I had not worn my coat on this balmy 30 degree day and was wearing my cute loafers with no socks. I had also cleaned out my car, leaving my gas can at home. Could this have happened at a worse time?

I called Kevin and he informed me that he was too busy to help ... hmph. Called my sister, but she is extremely nervous about driving outside of her comfort zone and this was way outside. Heather couldn't help because she had Lubbock, so one more kid than car seat. Who else? All my friends with school aged children were likely picking them up or waiting for them to come home. I called Kevin again. He finally agreed that he could come get me, swearing that I could not have possible run out of gas if I only drove 240 miles. But, that's exactly what happened. I love my car, but not it's quirky habit of running out of gas.

The Scrapbooking Forest

Yesterday, I was determined to get my side of the playroom in order. I organized (and yes, purged) all my paper, envelopes, magazines, and stamps. I believe after going through all this, I am responsible for a small forest. I'll make up for it on Arbor Day.

I organized it in two separate file containers. I used ROY G. BIV! With additional folders for white, pink, brown, black, metallic, and patterned. I put paper in one and envelopes in another. Please ... all my local friends ... should you need white envelopes, take mine! I'm overloaded.

The good news is that the room is almost ready for the computer to go down there and I can walk into my area. I still need to pare down my magazines and pictures, but that's a project for another week. I'm proud of the progress I've made so far.

I hope to not have another one week break, but I've also got lots going on around here. I'm considering my Great Aunt Jan's advice to join Fly Lady. It looks like a great step-by-step plan to get control of your home life, but I've been making such great strides that I think I might wait until all the big projects are completed around here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The City Folk

Are you sick of me yet? I have a lot to catch up on ... so here we go ...

Nadine and Cormac visited us this weekend. It was really nice of them to drive out from the city since we're not very good at getting down there ourselves.

My sister graciously offered to babysit (or did I practically force her?). We went to our favorite restaurant, The Turf Room. I don't think they have a website, so the link is for a review that I absolutely agree with.

Kevin and I both ordered a glass of wine and while we were looking through the menu, we were brought a Chef's Tasting of chicken confit. I can't remember what sauce was served with it, but it was pretty yummy. (And impressive since I had never been served a Chef's Tasting before ... I felt very fancy!)

I ordered tortellini (chicken with spinach and cheese tortellini, pesto sauce, pine nuts, and goat cheese), Nadine ordered a coconut curry chicken pizza (it was the perfect amount of sweetness), Kevin ordered a New York strip steak served with a fried onion stack, and roasted fingerling potatoes (they tasted like at the last minute they were deep fried ... and you can't go wrong with that), and Cormac got the Turducken (I think mainly because he didn't know it really existed).

Everyone offered their dishes up for tasting and I tried it all except the Turducken. I'm just not that adventurous. He said it was good, though, and I'll take his word for it.

Then, for dessert (I've already had a creamy pasta dish ... what's a few more calories, right?) I shared a delicious bread pudding based on s'mores. It had a chocolate sauce and marshmallow on top. I'm regretting that I left some of it there because I would eat it right now.

Give me a moment.

Okay, I'm done. Oh, it really was heavenly.

So, if you're looking for a great place to go ... give it a try. My favorite part of the meal, of course, was the absolutely perfect company. I have so much fun when I'm with Nadine and Cormac. The conversation never dulled and I can't wait to hang out with them again. We'll have to get up our nerves for a trip downtown soon so we can check out their side of town.

The Incomplete Playroom

I don't know when I'm ever going to get back to working on the basement mural, so I'm posting a picture of it as it stands ... incomplete.

Lubbock doesn't care, so I'm in no hurry. I think his favorite part of the playroom is the teepee. He, Eleanor and Joey love to all get in and close it up and giggle. I don't know what they're up to, but I'm fairly certain they're plotting something!

Heather was brave last week, too, and bundled up her munchkins to come over and spend some time in the playroom. I took advantage of this and started to go through the boxes of previously mentioned cards and letters. It was nice to have Heather there to have a sounding board.

"Oh, who was this guy? I remember ... He was really nice ... I should keep this card."

Heather gives a disapproving look.

"Yes, a card from a guy I didn't instantly remember is obviously worth keeping. You're right, Heather. Off it goes."

All in all, I only kept about 10 things. So, I'm really proud of myself. I think my next big 'emotional' clutter purge will be my boxes and boxes of pictures. I need to get them all scanned and loaded onto a disk, but that takes time ... lots of it, so it's probably a project I'll save for when the desktop gets moved downstairs.

Anyway, I know I've been promising pictures of the playroom and kept thinking I'd wait until it's done ... but, realistically, I have no clue when that's going to be, so there it is. It's missing anything that's dark purple and the bridge section in the middle. Once all the color is up, I'm debating tracing everything in black. I haven't decided yet, though.

The Coldest Day

To all my friends in Texas who have been complaining lately about the cold weather ... Puuuleeez!

This first picture is the inside of our front door. Frost. Ice. I'm aware that's a pretty hefty gap below the front door. We used to have weather stripping there, but I would find Lubbock face to the ground eating it. I figured it was probably better to have a gap there than allow my son to ingest ... whatever weather stripping is made of.

The second picture is the inside of a window. Again. Frost. Ice. Dang it's cold. I believe on this specific day, it was -32 (with a -50 wind chill) in Aurora. That's a few miles away and usually the closest city on the weather report, so I go with it.

Where the heck is the global warming everyone keeps complaining about?

We were very brave, though, and got out a few times last week. We went to a story time at Barnes & Noble and had lunch that day with my friend Meredith and her two kiddos. And we went to Target one day. (Is any week really complete without a trip to Target?) I went grocery shopping and worried about my groceries freezing if I stopped anywhere on the way home!

I'm not sure how much snow we've had, but it's plenty. I'll have to measure it later on today, but I'm guessing we've got about a foot of snow at least. I'm tired of it already!

The Fun Mirrors

Last week, Lubbock, my mom, and I went to Red Oak Nature Center. I absolutely recommend this to anyone around here looking for a free (yes, free) place to take your kids.

They have so much to do. There's a room with mirrors that make you look short (or fat) ... fun for kids, not so much for moms. There's a room with live bugs, snakes, and turtles. Puzzles, puppets, and more education opportunities than you can cover in one day. Lubbock's favorite was the bees-in-a-box. They're dead, but he liked carrying them around and handing them to people. One room is decorated to look like the inside of a leaf and the next room is the inside of a tree. We spent almost three hours there and he never got tired. He was so sad to leave, in fact.

Another nice thing about it (did I mention it's free) is that hardly anyone knows about this place! So, when our play group was there, we were the only people there and that's super nice because you don't feel like you have to keep your kids out of the other kid's way as much if they're 'stranger' kids.

I can't wait for the weather to get a bit nicer because they have trails and a picnic area, so we could probably spend an entire day there and not get bored. I hear that it does get a little busy on the weekends, though, because they offer opportunities for boy scouts to earn badges. So, I recommend the weekdays; although, I haven't been there on a weekend, so I can't say for sure they're busy.

We liked this place so much, we're going there again this week. Oh, and it's free!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Plan for the Year 2009

With my mom in town for the last few days, I've been able to get a ton of paperwork done. Mostly just having a moment to sit down, rework the last year's budget, and have a clear enough mind to think about what our family should accomplish this year.

I don't necessarily consider this planning to be resolution-ary in nature, but maybe it is. Is planning and resolving much different?

Kevin and I were able to sneak out for dinner tonight at Front Street Cantina in downtown Geneva. They just opened and as far as Mexican food goes around here ... it's aw-ight.

It was not a very romantic dinner since we decided to go ahead and have our planning meeting.

Mostly we talked about money. We ironed out our 2009 budget. Our expenses are pretty stable, but the discretionary categories we discussed at great length. Kevin is paid twice monthly, so we try to work on a 'per payday' system. Per payday, there will be $350 available for all things necessary for the house (food, toiletries, eating out, diapers, Lubbock's clothes, etc.). Per payday, Kevin will receive $200 for his gas, clothes, lunches out, and haircuts. I will receive $150 for gas, clothes, lunches out, day time activities, and haircuts.

Certain concessions were made. Namely, I agreed that since Kevin has fill his tank once a week, I agreed to allow for a trigger for a raise in allowance if gas prices hit more than $2.50/gallon. Hopefully, we won't have to get to that point.

We discussed larger financial decisions and made a prioritized list of what to do. This list includes (in order) paying off Kevin's car, saving for property taxes so these can be paid once the bill is received, beefing up the emergency savings account, paying off the laptop we bought last weekend (did I mention that?), and starting a travel fund.

Our 2009 goals are: (in no particular order)

1. Pay off 75% of debt relating to car and credit cards
2. Research the benefits of refinancing the house
3. Declutter house by 50%
4. Expand family
5. Take two trips downtown with Lubbock
6. Take a vacation just Kevin, Lubbock, and I (not to visit family)
7. Clean up front yard (trims trees, plant grass, move bushes)
8. For Kevin to be 'overweight' (instead of obese ... see the BMI charts) and for me to be 'normal' (instead of overweight) ... assuming I'm not pregnant
9. Have a party for our friends
10. Have a date night once a month

The family mission statement is still a work in progress, but the draft is this ...

We love each other.
We practice patience.

We encourage daily.
We appreciate each other.

We provide learning opportunities.
We set clear boundaries.

I excel in using my imagination.

I dunno, maybe it's a bit wordy. It's not visually balanced which totally messes with my OCD side.

I have a ton to write about pertaining to our social life this last week, a trip to the nature center, a playgroup, story time tomorrow, lunch with friends from the city this Saturday ... I'll find time to write soon, but for now ... I'm going to spend a little time with my mom.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Declutter Anxiety

I don't really have much to say ... just busy decluttering the house. It will never end. I think I have a hard time with some categories of clutter because I was raised to be very emotionally attached to things. Not that the actual memory doesn't matter, but that you need the thing to remind you of the memory. I'm not sure that makes sense.

Anyway, I've kept EVERY card and letter I've ever received. I even have love letters from my first boyfriend, Travis. I asked Kevin once if that bothered him and he said it didn't. I haven't read 99% of what I've kept, but I have about 5 large shoe boxes full of stuff like this. It takes up a ton of space.

I'm considering getting rid of ALL of it. I think I might even do it without looking through the boxes. I can't decide, though. If I start going through it piece by piece, I feel like it will be some huge emotional roller coaster ... all sorts of memories.

I have gotten over most of the fears I've had about decluttering ... the 'what if I need it later' kinds of feelings, for example. This one was easy. If I could look it up online, replace it fairly easily, or if it was cheap to begin with ... out it went. But, it's the emotional attachment to things I'm having a hard time with.

So, letters ... pictures ... trinkets ... very hard time. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you deal with it?

Another thing I'm working on is family goals. I told Kevin to think of six things he wanted to do in 2009 and I'd think of six things. Then, we'd try to accomplish them this year. I have five on my list so far. We're gearing up for our financial meeting soon and this is something we'll discuss then. I'm also drafting a Family Mission Statement. Basically, I'm attempting to run the house more like a business with schedules and goals instead of just floating through the day with no direction. So, I'll write more about this after our meeting takes place.

All in all, I'm pretty excited about this year. I just feel like I have to get the house in order physically so that I can get a better mental grasp on what's going on. It also just feels like a never ending project. I really need to practice positive thinking more ... think happy thoughts, Nata-Leigh!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Great Team

Last night was Kevin's office party. I don't know if they consider it to be the 'holiday' party or not, but I like that it's after all the craziness of the holidays has settled and you can relax and have a good time.

To get in the mood, I got a snazzy haircut. Paul, my friendly hair guy, flat ironed my hair. I got lots of complements. It did look awesome last night, but since I am completely incompetent when it comes to using hair tools, it will never look quite that spectacular again. I washed and styled on my own today and it still looks pretty good, though.

So, Gretchen picked me up so I didn't have to drive home alone and as soon as we got on the highway, it started sleeting. Luckily, Gretchen's new-Christmas-present-car-with-a-big-red-bow has four-wheel drive, so we were fine. And Gretchen, you're a fine driver!

We arrived at Maggiano's just as they were having everyone sit down for dinner. They had delicious gnocchi with a tomato vodka sauce and wonderful tiramisu (although I took a picture of the cheesecake). We sat with Jim & Gretchen, Kevin (O.) & Maureen, and a few other peeps.

Prior to dessert, they presented awards and Kevin's team won best team for the year. He was so proud. And I'm proud for him. I know he works hard to do a good job and to be recognized in such a big way had to have been a great thing for him ... and his guys and gals.

We made it home by 11p, so it wasn't that late of a night. And I'm glad. Lubbock woke up a few times last night screaming. I think he's having growing pains. So, I gave him some ibuprofen and put him in bed with us while he calmed down. I was rubbing his legs (I remember that when I had growing pains, it was always my legs that hurt the worst) and hummed for him. Unfortunately for me, the only song I could think of last night was Silent Night. Why when you're tired, can you brain not even function well enough to think of one other song?

The Letter J


Friday, January 9, 2009

The Scarf Monster

As I continue my decluttering conquest of the whole house, I have tried to have fun with the process.

Yesterday, I had pulled all my scarves out to determine which 3 were staying and which 15 were going. Lubbock had an instant attraction to the ones that were going. He dragged them around, wrapped them around himself and rolled around on them.

Being the silly mom that I can be, I decided to tie them around him ... all of them. We had so much fun. He spent about 30 minutes getting them all off and then brought them back to me to put them back on him. Oh, it was so much fun. I love those snowy day activities that come about from boredom. And no toys required.

An update on my party outfit ... I called Gretchen and asked what she was wearing. She said that she was wearing jeans. Really! I was so excited. I love my dressy/sexy jeans. So, I went to Kohls (since by this time I didn't have the energy to dig through racks of thrift store clothing with Lubbock) and found a cute one in the clearance rack. I'm pretty excited and hope that with my new haircut I'm getting this afternoon, I won't feel so drab. I'll have pictures later.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Tin Man

Dear Friends ... I may have unknowingly exposed myself to a deadly situation. Perhaps, a little dramatic, but hear me out. Didn't the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz die from being painted silver?

I chose silver envelopes for my New Years cards and upon pressing them closed, the silver rubbed off on my finger. *Gasp* I immediately felt the familiar sound of angels calling me toward them, but warded off their efforts by using soap and cold water (our water heater is killing me, too, and Kevin doesn't want to look at it until this weekend ... I might try to fix it myself since our dear friend, RJ, showed me how).

Other things that are killing me include my inability to consume enough liquid (as shown by the deep crevices in the finger above). Since my week long bought with all things icky (I'll spare you), I have been super thirsty. The good side effect is the jump start to a more healthy year. I'm drinking tons of water and am less hungry.

And the thought that Friday is Kevin's office party. I can't help fight off the feeling that I'm frumpy when I go to one of these. I've always felt like that ... even back in the day. I think I have a hard time being social when there's more people in an area. I am better in small groups. I've always told Kevin that I consider myself more of an acquired taste (like beer). At first, people don't know quite what to make of me ... I'm an over-sharer, am really lame most of the time, have a third grader's sense of humor, and on occasion, I talk with my mouth full. I think most people like me once they give me a chance, but I also think most people don't stick around long enough to see past my quirks. Anyway, I'm choosing instead to dwell on what to wear to not feel frumpy. I do not own anything in my current size fancy enough to attend a steakhouse dinner party and am not wanting to invest an a nice outfit for the event either.

Brandy and I went to Target this morning and I tried this dress on. It was okay, but since I'm so short, I felt like it was a few inches too long on me. So, instead of spending the money on a dress that is just okay, I think I may try my luck at a thrift store this afternoon. I haven't gone to one of these for myself in ages. I'll keep you updated on my shopping safari.

I haven't blogged (I mean a proper blog) in so long, I seem a little out of practice with thoughts even more scattered around than usual, so I appreciate you reading through this entire entry (if you haven't given up on me yet). I promise to get back in proper blogging form soon.

I've missed you.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Shortest Posting

12/31 ... got sick (again, and again, and again) ... canceled New Year's Eve plans with Brandy. Felt even worse because everyone else has canceled, too. (Felt even worser because I forgot her birthday.)

1/1 ... still sick with back aches, headache, and stomach ache. Go the ER. Have viral infection.

1/2 ... still feeling dizzy.

1/3 ... take a pregnancy test (just in case) and it's negative.

1/4 ... take it easy ... still having dizzy spells ... still can't eat much without getting queasy.

1/5 ... first have to finish New Years cards to send out and then will get back to the blog-o-sphere.