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.