Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Birthday Season Continues

In my Wednesday playgroup, we face a three week 'birthday season' in which all our little guys (and gal) get to add a year. I think it will turn into a really special time of year for them as they are more able to understand the joy that is a birthday.

Today was the first fete. Austin turned two! But let me take you back a month or so ...

The moms in the playgroup were sitting in my living room discussing birthday planning, themes, and cake designs when Austin's mom, Rachel, shocked the rest of us with the confession that she hadn't started the planning ... hadn't even thought of a theme. (I hope she doesn't mind me sharing this.)

You could have picked my jaw up off the ground! It's no secret in our group that I have career aspirations of being a children's party planner.

So, we reviewed theme ideas and she said that Austin liked construction trucks, so I threw out a few ideas and kindly offered to "hijack" her party ... with her permission, of course.

She agreed and I promised to put together a complete party plan after I had a few hours to think about it.

Later that day, I put together the following:

Theme: ABC Construction (Austin's Birthday Crew) with yellow and black as the colors

Dessert: Construction Cupcakes

Favor: personalized hard hats

Decorations: caution tapes, cones, and toy dump trucks

Invitations: a sort of 'help wanted' ad giving a work site and shift

Rachel came up with several ideas on her own ... so nobody should read this and think she's not the creative type, too! She made the invitations, made the cake, thought of the cute idea of sack lunches for the kids (big hit!), and even found a little truck and digger to park in her driveway. Rachel, you did an awesome job of putting it all together!

We all had tons of fun and Austin got some great gifts from his friends, including a cute black t-shirt with a dump truck on it from Lubbock. Of course, courtesy of be the thread.

So, next month (after birthday season) ... I plan to open my children's party planning business! I guess I can say this was a trial run at using my creative forces. I'm fairly nervous ... no ... very nervous. But, it's nothing that "blogging it out" can't help!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Proof I am a Mom

As Mother's Day is approaching, I've been paying close attention to the things that make me a Mom. Not the qualities ... but the actually things. I'll talk about all those 'intangibles' on Sunday!

I mentioned my favorite shorts ... by Dockers. I also think the capris are fabulous ... both versions they made this season. They stretch. And they cover my underwear when I bend down. What Mom doesn't bend down? What Mom likes her undies handing out? What Mom has been embarrassed when a three-year old points to your "rat-too" on your hiney? (Maybe that's just me.)

And shoes ... comfort. Moms need comfortable shoes. They must be cute, slip resistant, and match your favorite shorts, jeans, and skirt, right? Who cares about the brand ... right? Well ... here's my last Mom confession ... I bought my first pair of Easy Spirit shoes. Wow! Did I just admit this? Yup! Maybe I'm turning into a Grandma before my time ... but, for now ... I'm only admitting to being a Mom!

What makes you a Mom?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Bubbles and the Sticks

As Kevin is out of town this weekend, I had to keep Lubbock busy all by myself. Well, a few good friends helped out and, of course, Aunt Lo came to the rescue, too.

Our friends, Julia and Madeline, invited us to a second birthday party. We had so much fun catching up since we hadn't seen each other in almost a year! It was great to see how much the kids have changed and how much their personalities remain the same. She was able to blow out her candle all by herself!

The highlight of the weekend was likely the Baby Loves Disco party we attended today. It's basically a daytime nightclub experience for your little one. They play adult music (sorry, no Barney) that has been pre-screened for bad lyrics. You won't be able to keep your hips from movin'!

If you'd like, they do serve adult beverages, but mostly it's just adults not caring that they look silly because the kids are having so much fun. The DJ (yes, a DJ) announces when the bubble machine will be turning on and all the kids rush over to the dance floor for a ''bubble popping contest" ... everyone's a winner in this contest. They gave away egg shakers that were a hit with the kids and there was face painting and spray hair coloring (orange all the way)!

He made friends with lots of little girls with pink tutus. And when he got tired of dancing, he hung out in the hallway ... next to the mop bucket. Whatever. As we left, he was handed a pink star wand that lit up. I was given a gift bag that included a blow up globe (with animals for each region) ... and loads of advertisements. I guess they've got to get their money somehow!

We had lunch at the Mongolian barbecue place down the street where Lubbock thrilled an audience of diners with his ability to allow Aunt Lo to feed him brown rice with chopsticks. Okay, maybe it didn't take much talent ... but, it was pretty cute. I am incredibly impressed, however, because from about seven-months of age, Lubbock has not allowed anyone to feed him anything. That is, until Aunt Lo fed him chocolate cake from a fork. So, that used to be the only thing he'd let us feed him. Now, we can feed him brown rice. It wasn't just the chopsticks, either ... we tried chicken and broccoli and he had no interest in that.

We stopped at a few of the local shops to look at some toys, but Lubbock had a full day and was ready to get in his car seat for a long nap. A very long nap, indeed.

Tomorrow, Kevin gets back in town, but he's going straight to work from the airport, so I likely won't see him until he gets home from work. Lubbock will probably do the chicken dance until he flies off the ground.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Greetings and the Card

Earlier this week, I decided to run lots of 'long distance' errands. I visited with my friend, Beth of be the thread. She is making some of the items for Lubbock's birthday party (less than a month away *yikes*) and some other important things for me ... to be discussed next month!

As Lubbock and I approached her front door, I couldn't help but smile and the signs posted for all her visitors. "Hello! Hello!" One written in perfect block letter handwriting and the other in 'I'm a big boy and can write now' handwriting. I had flash forwards to the day when Lubbock will want to sit down and begin to learn the benefits of letters, letters making words, and words making thoughts and stories. The signs made me feel so welcomed . Thank you, Beth!

After that, Lubbock and I took off for the mall. Not any of the three closer malls, but to one pretty far away. All in search of the towels and shorts that eluded me on Friday. I wasn't able to use my 20% discount, but was still able to find what I was looking for. Lubbock played in the kid's play area with Hailey and Sergio while Jen and I talked about our weekends. We had lunch and a few meltdowns ... complete with a nasty bite to my arm which is still bruised! Ouch!
I guess I didn't take Lubbock seriously when he told me he was done (via the bite) and decided to visit one more store while I was on that side of town. One of my favorite, overpriced, scrapbooking stores. I don't think I've ever bought more than some glue and paper from them, but I love to look around. Lubbock doesn't. He screamed the whole time, every set of eyes on us. We left and he fell asleep about ten seconds later.
The rest of my week has pretty much been consumed with the completion of his invitations. I've been working on the wording (always important) and gluing bits and pieces together. One day, Lubbock will be impressed ... or not. Who knows.
Kevin will be leaving early tomorrow morning to fly to Texas to play a round at the MJ Golf Classic. The tournament helps raise money for the American Cancer Society. He has a lot of fun, too ... so, I don't mind him going. He's been just about every year it's happened (except 2007 when I was a very pregnant lady).
We'll see what a weekend alone with my little guy brings! I really can't wait to see his face on Monday evening when Kevin comes home. He'll be so excited ... a chicken dance won't be able to express the excitement.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Egg and the Towel

Kevin's parents came in town on Friday and it has been a whirlwind of food and fun ever since. Being the weekend after Easter, they made sure to bring some good Tex-Mex fun with them in the way of cascarones.

I probably can't count how many times I've heard Kevin and his mom talk about how much fun it was to do these when he was younger (and maybe older). Making them is a tradition I plan on starting next year as Lubbock just isn't old enough to handle raw eggs yet. As welcoming as I am, salmonella is just one of the things on my 'no thanks' list.

So, the basic idea is that it's an emptied out eggshell filled with confetti and you bust it over someone's head (ideally when they're not expecting it). We started by having Lubbock break one over Kevin's head ... with Grandma's help.

Kevin then broke one on Lubbock's head. He was completely unimpressed with the whole thing and spent the next little while picking the confetti off himself and Kevin. I'm glad I didn't go through the effort of making them this year, but I know next year will be a different story. He'll be old enough to understand how much fun breaking something on someone's head is ... especially when it makes such a big, colorful mess.

In the food department, we dined on fajitas one night, pizza another, and homemade corn dogs & corn fritters last night. (Mary was nice enough to make some with veggie dogs for my sister and me. Lauren being a vegetarian and me just not being a hot dog fan.) We went to The Turf Room for a late lunch on Saturday and to this place that I can never remember the name of yesterday. I always call it "the restaurant on a hill that makes the really good soup on Friday, but we always forget to go on Friday, so we're always mad about it on Sunday." They all know which one I mean.

I meant to get a lot of work done on Lubbock's birthday invitations, but that did not happen. Instead, I tried to shop. It made me appreciate the 'fishing' phraseology that was always explained to me when I lived in Oklahoma.

Any random man in Oklahoma: I went fishing yesterday.

Me: What did you catch?

Man: Nothing, I went fishing, not catching.
I'm not sure why I thought of that. Back to shopping ... I have needed new towels for a while as Kevin has long complained about the lack of softness of our current ones. Like most things, I had a list of qualifications our new towels must meet. First, they had to be white. Second, they must not have a stripe (you know, that hard, decorative area that always shrinks after it is dried, making the last two inches or so look funny when the towel is folded). And third, they had to be soft. I researched long and hard and settled on the Linden Street Quick Dry towels.

Knowing they would go on sale one day, I waited. Then, yesterday, I got an email from JCPenney's offering a 20% discount off my whole purchase and I saw on the website, that they were on sale, too! Score! I had hit the jackpot. I knew my patience would be rewarded. While I was there, I'll pick up some pajamas for Lubbock (again, I have a qualification ... must be 100% cotton). And I noticed that my favorite shorts were on sale for nearly half price. What a great day!

So, coupon in hand, I visited our local store and found that they only had three. I wanted ten. No luck with checking in the back either. They had no more. No biggie, I thought. I'd just order them online and the discount would likely take care of the shipping.

I visited the kid's department to look at pajamas. Polyester, polyester, polyester. Ick, ick, ick. Poor Lubbock has my sensitive skin and polyester always feels scratchy to me and causes too much static, making my hair go crazy. Lubbock has the same hair problem. Not a single pair of cotton pajamas in the whole store. No biggie, I thought. I'll just try somewhere else.

Off to my section, thinking about how fun it will be to get a new color short. "Maybe I'll be brave and get a bright turquoise." Hmmm. Where are they? I asked if they had them. No, we only have the capris. "But they're in the ad. Do you know if you'll get them this week?" (While they're on sale, I thought.) "No." Not very helpful.

Still, I won't let this break my excitement of finding the perfect sale/coupon combination. I'll get the shorts online, too.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

Did you know that they don't have the same prices online as they do in the stores on all items? The towels were on backorder, so the website said it couldn't tell me how much shipping was or if it would then honor the discount code. And the shorts were so much more expensive online, that once you added shipping, they were practically full price.

So, I went shopping, not buying!

Not complaining. Just saying.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Box and the Wait

The day finally arrived. My chairs were delivered yesterday morning. The driver told me the boxes were so big, he had to drop them off first so that they wouldn't be in his way the whole morning! Big, yes. Heavy, no. They weigh about 7 pounds each and made of aluminum.

I emailed Kevin to let him know they arrived. I told him that I was going to mop the floor because I didn't want the chairs to make their first appearance on a dirty floor. He asked if I would wait until he got home to open the boxes.

Reluctantly, I agreed ... cursing him under my breath. He then said he was just checking to see what I would say ... knowing my eagerness to tear into the boxes as soon as I could. But, I got the point and told him that I would, indeed, wait until he got home for the grand unveiling.

Last night, I had a Girl's Night Out Game Night. We were all going to meet at Brandy's house for a fun night of Scrabble, sangria, hummus, Nutella, and Brie. But, Kevin was running late.

By the time he got home, I was very tired and not really looking forward to unpacking the boxes anyway. It was almost time for me to be at Brandy's, so I determined that Kevin's "punishment" for being so late was that he needed to get the chairs set up for my return.

Game Night was a blast! We were able to relax and concentrate on the game (instead of the tots). We gabbed about our college days and how our lives have calmed down so much since then. And, of course, we talked about the kids ... and the husbands.

It was so nice to come home that night and walk (with my eyes closed) into the dining room all set up and looking so pretty.

I really, really, really heart my new dining room. I feel so relaxed in there. It feels so open. With the table top being white (with a two year old ... really?), it makes the room seem so much bigger than it was. The drawers on the side are charming. And the chairs add such a retro, industrial touch.

I can't say that they have completed my life, but they have completed the dining room/kitchen part of our house.

I can't wait to host the next Game Night. For now ... I'll have to settle for showing it off online.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Face Parts

Nothing super exciting happened today. Took my sister and Lubbock to Jason's Deli for lunch. Mmmmmm.

I've been trying to teach Lubbock about what his face parts are called. "Nose" and he sticks his finger up his nose. "Eye" and he places his finger very carefully on his eyelid. "Ear" and he just says 'ear' back to me. That's about it.

I got an email about the chairs I ordered and they will be here on Thursday (fingers crossed). I met with a great couple from Lisle about buying our dining room set and another email from a lady about my extra table for sale on Craigslist.

My hope is that they are G-O-N-E by Friday since Kevin's parents will be here by then. I have other things I'd like to list, but I'm tired of dealing with there Craigslist people. So much drama with them!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Free Gum

I feel like I'm about to announce the birth of a child. In a way, it does feel like I've added to our family, though.

On Friday ... just before all my scrapbooking friends arrived, I received a phone call. "Is this Nata-Leigh?" "Yes, this is she." "I'm calling about a table at Anthropologie that you want. It's on sale." "Oh." ...

I'm not sure it was the wisest purchase, but I got it! And since it was the floor sample, I even got a free piece of gum that someone left behind! I'm really finding this piece of gum hilarious.

This is as much as I'm going to show you for now, though. I figured since I already got the table ... I should go ahead and get the chairs. (Similar logic works with ... I already ate one piece of cake ... I might as well eat the whole thing.)

They should be here Friday.

Now, I am attempting to rid my house of the old dining table and chairs. I've listed them on craigslist, but so far have only had scammers ("I'll send you a check for $5,000 ... you keep the change and ship it to me."), people who don't know where I live even though it says "Batavia" in the title (one lady lives in Lansing, MI and I had to tell her it wasn't worth her drive), and people who want me to sell it to them for super cheap because they have some sort of sob story (I believe they simply copied the lyrics to a country song and then added, "so please consider this when giving me a new, more affordable price"). It'll sell ... I have no doubt.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Egg Drop Flop

Do you see that little speck in the middle of this picture? That's the helicopter that dropped thousands of eggs for an Easter Egg hunt. It sounded like such a fun idea ... Brandy's church puts it on each year and it looked like a fun time. So, Jen & Hailey, Brandy & Evan (and Matt, the hubby), and my family were going to go have a blast.

Well, you remember that picture of the helicopter ... that's about as close as we got. We missed the whole thing because I believe about 2% of the entire population of Illinois decided to go. We made it to the entrance of the parking lot just as the helicopter dropped the eggs, so we determined it was best just to drive on.

It's times like this that I'm actually happy Lubbock doesn't understand most of what's going on. I'm sure if he were a year older and I had hyped up a helicopter and Easter egg hunt ... he would have been angry we hadn't made it in time (and rightfully so).

Instead of being angry, though, he took an early nap. That'll show, Mom ... put me in a car in stand still traffic for over an hour! Ha! I'll just take my nap now so that she won't get her break later this afternoon.

For information on how the egg drop went for those that made it on time ... you can see Jen's blog.

What we have decided, however, is that for next year ... we'll locate a CD of helicopter noises, send one of our dear hubbies onto the roof and just launch the eggs from there. No traffic to fight. No kids stealing your eggs. No early naps to deal with.

Just the possibility of a husband rolling off a roof. Maybe throwing them out a second story window would be a better idea!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Green Party

Last month, I missed the first Scrapbooking Night put together by my friend, Beth. But, I volunteered to host this month's get-together. Not knowing what happened last time, I was concerned about how much or how little to put into it. I've never been known to go over the top with anything. (I can't believe I typed that without spitting my wine on the laptop screen.)

One thing I learned ... you can never have enough table! I don't scrapbook (probably a shocking statement to those who know how I enjoy expressing my creative side). I tried it my freshman year of college. I started to scrapbook all my pictures from high school. I got two pages done. That was the end of that.

But, since I don't scrapbook, I didn't realize just how much space this can take up. The pages are 12" x 12" and there's typically two of them out at any one time. Plus the "stuff." But, it was still a total blast.

We got to see all the cool tools we all had and tried each other's glues and cutting machines. I find card makers and scrapbookers have much to learn from each other. They are two totally different art forms!

What was the theme, Nata-Leigh? I'm glad you asked. It was "Cuttlebug Green." I had a green bucket with Izze soda, some green cups with Nutella scooped in the bottom and pretzels for dipping, and some handmade wine charms to write your name on (yes, all in "Cuttlebug Green").

So, I've cleaned up enough to feel okay about going to bed and I really should since tomorrow, we're going to Brandy's church's Easter Egg Drop (out of a helicopter!) and then a Dinosaur Jr. concert with Lauren and Kevin. Both events should be a blast.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Quick Plan

I really didn't intend on doing much today because this weekend is promising to be super busy.

But, it cracks me up how easily plans can be created. I emailed Hailey's mom to see what color Crocs she intended on purchasing this summer. Just to make sure we didn't get the same pair at the outlet store.

Jen (Hailey's mom) said they got orange and blue thongs. (Yah! since I plan on getting the orange original pair.) But she also planned on going to the outlet mall this morning anyway. Do I want to go?

Um ... go window shopping? Sure! I was so proud of myself ... I spent fifty cents! For the fire truck ride for Hailey and Lubbock (a.k.a. photo op). Of course ... I accepted the coffee Jen picked up on the way there. Thank you so much!

And can they be any cuter?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Note, the Water, and the Boys

This morning, I received a special delivery package in my mailbox from Meredith. She had a recent birthday party and invited Lubbock and I to "chaperon." I couldn't believe it. I'm old enough for that? For someone to entrust me with the lives of five tweenagers? Surely she must have meant to ask someone else. But, it was true. All went well. I started and ended with the same number of girls and we won the scavenger hunt contest!

Meredith, being the most graciously raised child I know, wrote a thank you note and included a few pictures from the scavenger hunt and some perfectly coordinating bottle cap magnets for my desk (all pictured on my cookie sheet message boards). In case you can't read the note, she calls me "helpful," "smart," "responsible," and "gorgeous." (Okay, I made up the last one.)

This helped start my day in such a special way. Prior to getting the package, I had forced myself out of bed by way of singing C&C Music Factory's "Here We Go" ... you know ... "You all want this party started? Right? You all want this party started ... quickly! Right?" Admit it ... you liked them, too. Anyway, I started bopping (in my head) and took a shower, got dressed, ate breakfast, and had coffee all before Lubbock woke up.

When he woke up, he ate breakfast, took a bath, and got dressed with enough time for me to do a quick wipe down of the bathroom (with his towel, thanks for the suggestion FlyLady), and made my bed before the water guy came to complete the installation. Verdict on the morning: success! I received a thoughtful note and had a smooth running morning.

Verdict on the water: pending. He said you have to run some water through the filters before you can drink it. I've run it through twice ... Kevin drank it and said it was fine. I'll wait for one more flush before trying it. Fingers still crossed.

I can't think of a good transition ... so ...

There is a family that lives two houses down. They have three teenage boys (poor Mom). These boys have so much energy that I believe the parents must send them outside to burn it off five times a day. They have a trampoline that has been the recent tool of choice. It is also a complete fascination of Lubbock's. He loves to watch the boys and when he notices them jumping, he climbs up on our dining room table and just points and yells at them (can you see the boys in the photo? Not close enough for them to hear Lubbock, for sure!).

I've spoken with the oldest boy and he promised when the weather got warmer that they'd invite Lubbock over. Oh, boy! I'm not sure I'm ready for another trip to the emergency room just yet!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Vote and the Sink

Today was one of the few days I brought home the bacon. Kevin indulges me in my "career" as an Election Judge. What a career this is. I've worked two whole days. And by whole ... I do mean whole. I worked from 5a to 7:30p. And by worked ... I do mean ... sat on my butt.

Of course, I couldn't have expected as great a turnout as the Presidential Election produced, but the turnout wasn't enough to keep everyone busy. We rotated all duties and even had a "break" position. We just sat between two people who worked and if they ran out of stickers, we replaced them.

I was able to read a huge portion of my latest self-help book, Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley. The basics of her system is that you come up with a routine, you spend a short amount of time everyday cleaning, and you de-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter (you can't organize or clean clutter). I've mentioned this in passing before ... Marla is FlyLady. As I researched her system online, I found it to be a really complex website to navigate. Sure, you get the gist, but in order for me to map it out on my own, I found the book to be a more concise version of her plan. Perhaps this is on purpose ... I did buy the book, after all!

Tomorrow, I am welcoming a handyman into my home to finish the reverse osmosis water treatment system. We've made this investment based on the hope for drinkable well water. We spend about $50 a month for water delivery. At that rate, the water system will pay for itself in just about a year. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the water is drinkable.

I am hosting a playgroup and serving lunch to my lovely friends. I don't know what I'll cook, but I've got plenty in the freezer ... I really should pull it out before I to bed to start thawing in the fridge.

I have a dentist appointment to determine if there is a non-surgical way to fix my bite ... I don't have one and this has caused some jaw pain. I used to sleep with a night guard, but when I was pregnant, my teeth got so loose, the night guard no longer fits. So, the result may just be a new guard.
Then, we are going to Brandy's for dinner. I still feel horrible for missing New Year's Eve at her place (even though I had the "death," as Kevin calls it). We're going to look at her dining room chairs to see if I would like them in my dining room as a temporary substitute for what I really want. Of course, there's what I would really get, too. My kitchen is so bright and colorful and I'm tired of the dark wood furniture. It's really lovely, but just doesn't flow with the rest of the house. Not like my favorite table would!

Oh, table ... how do I live without you?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Office and the Dining Room

I've moved! Not really, but kind of. We purchased a brand, new shiny laptop and I promptly closed down the "study" in the front room. This left me with a challenge, though. I could be extremely mobile with the laptop, but I still needed a "home." I think that's why I've been so bad at sending pictures to grandparents and updating my blog. It's easy to do something quick (like update your facebook status to say "we're gonna make like bears and hibernate"), but much more difficult to stand and expound on the daily grind of the life of me.

So, I've set up shop in the dining room. Due to my successful decluttering, we were able to get rid of a large piece of furniture in the dining room (it didn't really match anyway and mostly housed large machines and liquor). I purchased a bar height table (two feet by four feet) and a stool. I love having my office located in the dining room!

The kitchen and dining room area of our home is always the busiest. Both Kevin and I love to cook and what better place to be than within feet of each other.

As I'm sure you're aware ... everything in my life has a theme ... so, the theme for the desk is "kitchy kitchen." I found a pretty pink colander to use as a junk drawer, a super cool measuring cup to house my pens and pencils, two baking sheets to put my notices on, and I'm on the hunt for a napkin holder to use as my mail sorter.

I do have a small open filing system to keep medical, tax, and course catalogs. It took a while to decide what to do with my paper shredder. I'm not very good at shredding things if the shredder isn't close at hand. I finally determined that it had to go downstairs. But, I have one file folder specifically for things to be shredded. I haven't used the shredder since it went downstairs, but my folder isn't over-flowing yet!

My household notebook is also taking up residence on my desk. Easy access will hopefully make for a more smooth operation around here.
I do have some really super cute pictures of Lubbock that need to be loaded, but as he just awoke from his nap ... I'm going to go pay attention to him. I love being able to do that. And I find as I am keeping up with the housework, there is more time for me to enjoy him.
I love my job (and my new desk).