Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Well, we are home from our whirlwind trip to Denver for Christmas! (Now we just have Christmas gift exchange with hubby's parents and siblings followed by another Christmas gift exchange with my parents and sibling to go...) But I thought I'd write up a few highlights:

1-
Hubby's sister managed to get a plane into the Denver airport after all...apparently when she asked if there was any chance, they told her that if she got to a gate right now, she could get on a plane leaving in 20 minutes...of course, then she got picked for the super terrorist screening which involved some machine that puffed air on her, and all her bags being dumped out and inspected.

2-
We managed to close down several stores. First dumb move, hubby and I decided to stop at Wal Mart on the way up (I had some gift cards, was out of several baking staples, and thought that we might want to bring breakfast for the morning to the hotel)...we didn't close Wal Mart down, but apparently my MIL and SILs did (a different Wal Mart) getting last minute stocking stuffers. We closed down Barnes and Noble (getting a copy of National Geographic's Green Guide to wrap up for my parents, since I got them a subscription to it, and hubby thought they needed something to open) and later hubby and his sister closed down Walgreens getting diapers so that we could go to midnight Mass...

3-
Everything that hubby's family does takes longer than hubby thinks. We got to the hotel first, but hubby figured that they would be there pretty soon...when they did finally get there, they got stuck in this one elevator that was possessed the whole time we were there...then we had to try to figure out where to go to eat on Christmas Eve...we were meeting Brittney's parents and sister, plus the nine of us staying at the hotel...so we had a party of twelve. Hubby was calling around, while MIL and SIL and SILs husband went down to the front desk, because MIL had paid for two rooms on Expedia, but they only found one reservation when they got there, so she paid for another room...eventually they figured out that the second room was under SILs (married) name...eventually we found a restaurant that was open until 10, and could handle a group of 12...

4-
While eating, we decided (all still in our traveling clothes) that instead of getting up early to go to Mass before heading over to the hospital, we might as well go to midnight Mass at the church on the way back to the hotel. That was fine, except Charlotte was in her spare diaper that we brought for dinner and pooped, so that demanded a last minute Walgreens run for more diapers.
Midnight Mass was listed as starting at 10:30...well, we got there at 10 ish, got a pew that would hold the nine of us (Britt's family had already gone to Mass at the church near the hospital), the choir started singing at 10:30 (Charlotte started singing then, too) and Mass started at 11 (Eva was asleep on her aunt at that point...Charlotte didn't fall asleep until about communion). It was a beautiful Mass at a beautiful church.

5-
MIL has a tradition of getting everyone Christmas jammies (which, at this point she is buying 9 pairs per year), so after Mass and back at the hotel, everyone came to our room to get their pajamas...of course hubby and his sister already had the girls in pajamas...they were very happy to change into their new "Hannah Montana" (Eva) and "Disney Princess" (Charlotte) jammies. Then hubby's sister ended up staying in our room (she was originally going to sleep on the sofa bed in her parents room, but Eva wanted her to stay and sleep with her in the sofa bed instead). Charlotte was between us, and fell asleep tugging on my hair...it was past 1 am...so I wasn't going to complain!

6-
The girls woke up at about 7:40...so we took them swimming in the hotel pool from 8 to 9, then from 9 to 10, they watched some horrible version of Heidi made with dressed up dogs on PBS (I am NEVER going to support public television...the dog thing has turned me off for life...) while we all got showered and dressed. Then we exchanged our Christmas presents, then at about 10:30 we did stockings in grandma's room. (I got the dryer balls I have had on my Christmas list for a couple of years now, and Charlotte got the Tinkerbell movie, which the girls are currently watching). Finally, we checked out of the hotel at about 11:30 and headed over to the hospital for a very lovely family dinner with Brittney and her family.

7-
We left Denver at about 3:30, and were able to get home with plenty of time for me to cook a nice dinner...while I was finishing up cooking, hubby called his mom...it turns out they were still an hour away from home and cruising one of the bigger cities to see if anything was open so they could get dinner. Hubby told them to enjoy their 7-11 cheeseburger dogs while we were eating a nice home cooked meal...I told him that it reminded me of "A Christmas Story" where the neighbors dogs eat the turkey, and they end up at a Chinese food restaurant with the proprietors singing "Ringle Rells, Ringle Rells..."

Overall, we had a really good trip! It was great fun to be together as a family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Deck the Halls...

Well, we are getting close to our Christmas travels...we just took our dog up to my MILs house for the rest of the week (her dad will be taking care of all the dogs over Christmas) and we are doing our stockings tonight. I've also been a crafty supermom for the last couple of days (not a role I take on very often) and Eva, Charlotte and I have made Christmas ornaments and cards for their Aunts and Uncles. Once the girls get up from their late nap (Charlotte hasn't actually been napping...mostly crying and yelling) we're going to make cards for their grandparents.

A week ago or so, hubby won two gift certificates in our local chamber of commerce's Christmas drawing...$25 to a restaurant, and $25 to the John Deere dealership...well, yesterday I got a call from the grocery store in my MILs town, and found out that I won a gift certificate there...Charlotte really wanted to talk on the phone, so I only could hear about every other word the guy from the store said...so much so that I couldn't figure out what store he was talking about (the grocery store up there doesn't have a traditional grocery store name)...so when we took the dog up today, we decided to pick up (and spend) my gift certificate. I had it in my head that it was probably a $25 certificate (I don't know why I decided that...) but it turned out to be for $50! That was awesome, shopping for staples with $50 certificate! Also, several of the items that we have been flat out of that I have been refusing to buy until they go on sale were on sale there!

I was thrilled that it was $50, as today we got hubby's pay stub for Friday's direct deposit, and I was a little bit bummed by the total (not that it was bad, it just doesn't leave us much wiggle room in the budget...and we'll have to see if we can squeeze a little bit out for our savings.

The kids are going to go nuts for the next couple of days. Here are their gift receiving moments:
Tonight - stockings from us
Tomorrow night - PJs from Grandma
Thursday - stockings from Grandma, gifts from us
Friday - presents from Grandma (yes, all the same grandma up to this point) and probably gifts from aunts and uncles (if they don't get those on Thursday)
Saturday - gifts from other grandparents (mine) and my brother
Sunday - hopefully we will be done with presents by then...but I'm not holding my breath!

Thank goodness we mucked out their toys already...I don't know if we'd be able to get into the house if we hadn't!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not the day I was expecting...

...that doesn't imply that the day was bad...just different than I had planned (I don't know why I even TRY to plan, being married into the family that I am!)

The plan was for my MIL and I to go pick up hubby's little sister at DIA today, but with the whole plane crash incident and the nasty weather up in the pacific northwest, her flight was cancelled. Of course, we found this out when we were almost to hubby's hometown, where the girls and I were going to meet MIL and head off for last minute Christmas shopping (for MIL, I'm done) and a trip to the airport, while hubby headed out to the farm to keep an eye on his dad and the dog.

So, we spent the day all together instead. It was actually a lot of fun! I wrapped a million Christmas gifts (when my girls started finding their Christmas presents in one of the spare rooms and dragging them out to play with...) and the girls got to do a bunch of Christmas crafts (they made a bunch of gift tags with stickers, glitter and glue.)

The SIL who was supposed to come in today couldn't get another flight until Christmas Eve, which is the day that her hubby is also flying in. Of course, SIL could only get a flight into the Colorado Springs airport, while her husband is still flying into Denver...so, I guess we get to take a slightly longer route to the hotel where we are all staying Christmas Eve to get her at the airport.

Family gatherings can be quite complicated!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick Takes Friday - yes, this is all I do anymore!


1. My Knight in wrinkled armor
I've been meaning to post a picture of hubby in his regalia since he participated in his first color guard a couple of months ago...but I forgot our digital camera, then we bought a disposable one, then it took a while to finish it off (because I never remember to take pictures) then it took a while to develop it...of course, then the picture had to be scanned into the computer, but here he is (finally!)
2. Today we will be finishing up our first quarter of Kindergarten! YEAH!!! (Of course, we could be finishing up right now, but I don't know that I have enough caffeine in my system at the moment) After we finish (testing the final two prayers: meal blessings and act of contrition, and the final two pages of math) I get to figure out how to scan everything in to the computer to send electronically (hubby's preference) or bundle it all up in an envelope and mail it in (my preference)! Also, I really should get a few last items into her notebook to show her progression since we started before I do my happy dance and hide the school stuff until the new year.
3. Speaking of the act of contrition...we have our penance service tonight. Father moved the usual 8am mass to 5:30, and the penance service is at 7...so I am debating whether or not to have hubby come home, leave for Mass, come home, eat dinner, bundle everyone back up to head to the penance service, get back home (most likely) late for the girls bedtime, and then collapse...or do some, but not all of it. On a side note, I have had a mental block on the act of contrition my entire adult life (when you are baptised at 18, they don't particularly teach you about confession in RCIA...I didn't even know that it was a normal thing to know a formal act of contrition until I had a priest yell at me for not knowing it at my 2nd or 3rd confession...the first 1 or 2 were with Jesuits, who didn't seem to have a problem with it...) but, after having to help Eva to memorize it, I now know it! I also know a morning offering and the guardian angel prayer from teaching them to Eva.
4. I don't think hubby has gotten to work at his normal time all week...the trucks have been severely delayed (two hours late today) every day except Wednesday, which happened to be his day off. It's getting a little irritating having him get up at his normal time, get ready to go, and then get a call from his boss saying not to come in until he gets another call...I'm sure it has been irritating him...but that means I have to put up with him first thing in the morning (I much prefer he tortures his co-workers with his obnoxious morning person ways!)
5. On Wednesday, we took a trip up to the front range, because my FIL had surgery on Monday but had some complications because of his asthma, and was kept in ICU for several days to monitor his lungs. He doesn't like doctors, or hospitals or anything like that...and he really doesn't like to not be at home or at work. Unfortunately for him, he's not allowed to do much of anything for 6-8 weeks (he won't even be able to eat solid foods at Christmas...he and Charlotte will have to fight over the mashed potatoes)...unfortunately for my MIL, he will be home all the time and cranky about it...He got out of the hospital yesterday and is at home now. Hubby sat with his dad for most of the day, while the girls and I finished my Christmas shopping, and helped my MIL get closer to finishing hers. Then, hubby's little brother and fiancee came down to visit as well, so we all got to have dinner together (minus FIL, who was enjoying jello and chicken broth at the hospital.)
6. I am DONE with all gifts for Christmas. Eva's bean bags (well, they are actually full of corn) are done and wrapped, all the stocking stuffers are bought and wrapped. I even have the candy bought...though I still need to get a few nuts, and our box of fruit we ordered from FFA hasn't come in yet. Each girl is getting one store bought present, one homemade present and some stocking stuffers. I always forget how little their stockings are, so I have WAY more stuff than will fit in them...but in my family, it is a tradition to have an overflowing stocking. But, note to self, next year BUY FEWER STOCKING STUFFERS!
7. I was pretty excited about singing in the choir for midnight Mass, but I have come to my senses. So, instead of being at home on Christmas Eve, attending Mass and getting home at midnight (or later) just to get up at 5 am and drive to Denver for the family Christmas at the hospital, have Christmas and drive back home so that hubby can be at work at 7 am on the 26th...we will be driving up to Denver after hubby gets off work on the 24th (hopefully around 1 or 2pm) staying the night in a hotel with a bunch of the family, and then having Christmas the next day, followed by driving home. In booking the hotel room, there were two varieties of rooms with the same rate. One style was 1 King bed with a sofa bed, the other style was 2 Queen beds. When I put into the dumb website that we had two adults and two kids, it wouldn't allow us to book a King bed room (Charlotte still falls out of bed without a railing, so it makes more sense to have her in bed with the two of us as bed rails) because we exceeded the room capacity. Then I tried with 1 kid, which still apparently exceeds the room capacity. Finally, I told the computer that we just had two adults (which may be true, because it wouldn't surprise me to have the girls ditch us to stay in their grandma or their aunt's rooms) so that we could get a King size bed. I am wondering if lying to a computer constitutes a sin that I should confess tonight.
Of course, there are more quick takes over at Jen's blog!

Friday, December 12, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

1-
PAYDAY!!! YEAH!!!

2-
I am tired (today) because we spent too much time awake last night trying to google a painting. Hubby noticed the address label on some one's Christmas card was a Renaissance painting of two naked women, with one pinching the other one's nipple. You don't even want to contemplate the wordings we attempted to find it...in the end we found a couple of very funny posts regarding that painting. One told us that it was at the Louvre, which gave us the ability to find the second (that actually had an image of it!) I kid you not, the explanation in a children's art book was "I am pinching my sisters nipple to show that she and the king are having a baby prince." Hubby giggled more about the painting after finding out more about it...

3-
Eva did the first half of her phonics review for our first quarter of Kindergarten. She did really well, until we got to the part she had to write. She got all the sounds right and said them correctly, but she confused b and d in the first word, and kept looking back at it for every other word. So, by the end every b and d on the page were backwards. I'm trying to keep telling myself that that is perfectly normal for any little kid, and particularly since she is 4, she will learn eventually. Unfortunately, my perfectionism seems to be rubbing off on Eva...must work on that!

4-
Today we have 1/5 of our full funded emergency fund done! I'm pretty excited about that, as it means we are finally getting serious again about our money situation.

5-
I really need to get serious about finishing up Eva's Christmas present. I'm planning on making bean bags for her, but I haven't gotten them sewn (I haven't put away the sewing machine either, though), and I keep forgetting to grab the dry corn or beans from my MILs house to stuff them with. Goal for today's nap time GO SEW!!!

6-
It looks like we will be going up to the Denver area on Christmas day to celebrate with Brittney's family. She is doing pretty well, though I think she is still technically in a coma. They do know that she will be going home in February...of course, we don't know what condition she will be in then, so please say some extra prayers for her and her family. (For anyone just visiting, Brittney is hubby's 20 year old cousin, who was in a very bad car accident a little more than 10 weeks ago who received severe brain injuries, and is now in her third hospital, which is the best brain rehab center in the area.)

7-
Today is my brother's birthday...let me do the math really quickly...he's 33 today. Hubby was lecturing me yesterday about how I NEED to call my brother today to wish him a happy birthday...never mind that we are going to see him and my parents (they are all coming to visit us) on the 27th. Of course, my argument is that the best birthday present he could receive from me is me not forcing him to have an awkward conversation with me. I love my brother...but other than our completely crazy mother and our slightly less crazy father and other various crazy relatives, we have close to NOTHING in common. As a compromise with hubby, I am AT LEAST supposed to have the girls draw him a birthday card and mail it today...

Of course, as usual there are lots more Quick Takes over at Jen's blog!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The President-Elect's "Buddy?"

Is it just me (and MM), or does Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich look like this artifact from the 1980s?

Just wondering... ;-)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

"...and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

MM and I have a little bit of a guilty pleasure of watching "The O'Reilly Factor" after the girls have gone to bed most nights, and last night was no exception. One of the top stories last night was Rev. Jeremiah Wright's return to the pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. I'm pretty burned out on the whole Jeremiah Wright thing--as I'm sure a lot of people are--but the clip O'Reilly played from his sermon last night got me thinking a little bit.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Wright was discussing media speculation that his career (and the future of Trinity) had been badly damaged because of the many soundbites from his sermons that had been used against Barack Obama in various stages of the presidential campaign. The Tribune says Wright quoted Matthew 16:18 (sort of), saying:
"Jesus said upon this rock I will build—listen to the promise—my
church," he said. "And the gates of hell—listen to the promise—the gates of
hell—neither ABC nor CNN—the gates of hell—neither Hannity nor O'Reilly—the
gates of hell—neither Time, Time magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago
Tribune . . . the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Nothing will
be impossible with God."

So... he kinda loses me on this one on several levels. At first, I thought he was implicitly making himself out to be the Pope, since this passage is so important to Catholics and our theology surrounding papal authority (and I wish that O'Reilly, as a Catholic, had at least brought that up). I suppose the more fair use of context here, though, is that he is trying to say Jesus's church--as described to and "built upon" Peter--has been attacked by those media outlets. While that may very well be true, I find it pretty dubious that Trinity is really what Peter and the early Christians had in mind when Jesus used the term "church," especially if you look at the practices described by the "Early Church Fathers." Nor do I think Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly are exactly what Jesus had in mind when referring to "the gates of Hell."

Anyway, the papist in me got kind of agitated by Wright quoting "our" passage to legitimate himself or his church or whatever he was talking about. And his general level of asinine anti-Americanism (which he revealed again by referring to December 7th as the day the US government killed 84,000 civilians in Hiroshima--yes, I know...), together with the news today of more corruption in Chicago-area politics, has me thinking we Americans had a big blind spot during this last election.

*sigh*

Friday, December 05, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

1- Sticker
Yesterday morning in my pre 10:00 am stupor (it used to be much later...parenthood has helped me function before noon!) Eva came up to me to show me a sticker...I looked over and it was just covered in snot. I figured that she had been wiping her nose with her hand and told her to throw out the sticker and go blow her nose and wash her hands. Fast forward to after nap time...I'm changing Charlotte's poopy diaper, and Eva got my full attention by saying "'Member a long time ago when I put that sticker up my nose? I'm glad that it came out today!" To which I responded with a "what do you mean?" kind of response. Then it all came together and made sense to me...Eva waking up complaining about her nose hurting, the sticker she had to show me, why it was completely covered in snot...so I asked her when she had put it up her nose and she said "A long time ago, I think it was like 5 years" (insert little 4 year old hip wiggle at the "like 5 years" comment), I pointed out that that was impossible...I never did get a straight answer out of her when it occurred...


2-MyTMMO
This week I won a years subscription to Dave Ramsey's My Total Money Makeover from a giveaway over at One House Schoolroom. So, I have been wasting A LOT of time on the forums there, and being very obsessive about money. Pretty much our phone has been constantly busy most of the week because I've been playing on the computer or downloading commercial free pod casts of the Dave Ramsey show. The thing that made me sad after I first started was that I went back into Quicken to figure out when we had become debt free but the house (baby step #2) and that was way back in February of 2007. We have 1 month emergency fund saved up (I'm aiming for 5 months), but we really could have been done WAY before now had we been even slightly serious, and just saved up money for an emergency fund rather than putting money in college savings since that time. Then, we'd be starting college savings NOW and Charlotte wouldn't have a over $400 loss in her (index) fund. Eva's (actively managed fund) is doing a little bit better.

3-Restaurant Christmas Card
In the "not doing a very good job of changing our financial habits" department...yesterday we got a Christmas card from one of the restaurants in town...Hubby was kept late at work, it was snowing, story time was moved from the library to another venue (because of an ongoing dispute between the library and the bookmobile, strangely enough!), and all of us were at wits end (okay, mostly me and hubby, the girls were fine) so we ended up deciding to go to said restaurant for lunch...not entirely because we felt guilty getting a Christmas card when we haven't been in the place for a couple of months...

4-Mortgage
On the "much better financial habits" front, Hubby had been thinking for a while about increasing the amount we pay on our mortgage every month (the fact that HE was thinking about this is almost miraculous!), which is something that I have been contemplating as well. At first we thought we'd up the amount by $50 (we already round up to the nearest hundred, which pays an extra $50.81 per month), but then I did a mortgage calculator with the current amount we owe (under $69,000 now, woo hoo!!!) and found out that to pay it off in 15 years, we would have to pay $100 more than we do now...so we made the commitment, changed our automatic payment to be $100 more, and we will make this work! So, if we simply stick to paying the new amount for the duration of our loan, we will pay it off before I turn 45!

5-Advent Wreath
We have been doing our advent wreath at dinner (either the evening one or the mid-day one depending on nighttime meetings.) Our Advent wreath has the following on each candle holder -3 wise men, nativity, shepherd, angels. Last year we serendipitously picked up an Advent booklet from church that has each week themed (prophecy candle, Bethlehem candle, Shepherds' candle, Angels' candle) of course, it is WAY over the heads of the girls, but I'm sure it is good for them nonetheless. They get to take turns snuffing the candle which they really enjoy...but their favorite part of all is sniffing the candle snuffer at the end...and Eva' pretty much always declaring "it smells like FIRE!" (I worry about her sometimes!)

6-10th Anniversary
Hubby came up with the idea recently that he should offer to take me on a trip for our 10th anniversary this summer...which is a fine idea...he just keeps threatening me with vacation destinations such as Iowa (in July???), etc. I keep teasing him that he should take me on a cruise (I don't really mean it, but it's fun to harass him) and each time, it turns into another discussion about pirates...

7-High Speed Internet
So, we have dial-up...so anytime I am on the computer, no one can call. In fact, if I could work it out, I'd probably stay connected 24/7 (I don't like the phone...I don't like calling people, and I don't like talking to people...particularly if I am supposed to make small talk...) but the past several people to call have commented on how our phone is always busy (and I figure it would be rude to say "yep, I don't really like getting phone calls anyway, so it wasn't bothering me") and hubby has started to give out his cell phone number to everyone he needs to get in contact with because he knows that our phone is almost always busy...Of course, when I asked if I could start giving out his cell phone number, too, so that he could be my personal secretary, he said no. So, I am thinking once again that maybe I'll get high(er) speed Internet for my 30th birthday this summer. Hubby got dish network for his 30th, so maybe I should follow in that theme and upgrade from cheap dial up to the least expensive high speed we can find...like our upgrade from 5 fuzzy channels that went out when the train went by (about 20 times a day) to the cheapest dish package with DVR...Plus, then we'd be able to watch cool YouTube videos like the one of a shrimp walking on a treadmill that we saw on the O'Reilly Factor last night!

Bonus-I'll throw this one in for free!
My mother...is...so...weird...
First of all, she is always telling me that I would be so proud of her for such and such decision because it is eco friendly ("I'm so GREEN!") I'm not so sure I understand why...she seems to think that I have a deep love of environmentalism...but in reality, I'm mostly just cheap. So, she buys into the whole Al Gore global warming thing (and makes her students watch his dumb movie every year now) and carbon credits, etc. (She doesn't buy any carbon credits, even though they own two houses and travel back and forth between them EVERY WEEKEND!) So, she called me up the other day because she had seen on the news that there was going to be a workshop for farmers on how to sell carbon credits for things that they already do. She wanted me to call my in-laws and let them know since they might be able to make money selling carbon credits (I doubt it...I'm thinking the whole FEEDLOT thing would turn off most people willing to buy carbon credits!) So, let me get this straight...we should all buy carbon offset credits every time we sneeze (okay, maybe more like any time we drive, fly, or have anything shipped anywhere), but those carbon credits we are buying are from people who would be doing said task anyway??? I mean, really...can you get any dumber than that???

Of course, more quick takes over at Jen's blog.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

7 Quick Takes (Not Quite) Friday

1)
Eight people,
Four dogs,
Three pies,
Fourteen pounds of turkey,
Twelve hours...

One tired, insomniac mom who is hoping that the almost two inches of snow on the ground right now doesn't turn into more and rain on my Black Friday shopping parade...
Not that I really go shopping on Black Friday for the stellar deals (who really wants to buy a $2000 flat screen TV for only $999 anyway?) Mostly, it's just something that has become a tradition with my MIL and me and any other females around for the holiday (so this year, MIL, me and the girls).

2)
Dinner went well...I managed to cook the turkey long enough that it didn't need to be carved (again...this is kinda a trend with me!) I figured out how to make sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and frog eye salad (all firsts for me!), and everything came together really well by the time our guests arrived.

3)
Apparently there was a really terrible semi accident on the highway down to our town from hubby's hometown (where our four people guests and three doggie guests came from), and everyone was pretty sure no one could have survived it, but Charlotte's godfather stopped and talked to the wrecker crew on his way home and found out that the truck driver's only injury was a broken jaw...what a huge blessing to be thankful for!

4)
Hubby and I were discussing the cost of our Thanksgiving dinner (because his grandpa tried to PAY me to help out with dinner...it didn't work...I'm more stubborn than him) and so since I can't sleep and am a numbers dork, I got my receipts out of my wallet and added it up. This does not include staples from my pantry and fridge (butter, milk, cornstarch, sugar, pudding mix, marshmallows, spices, coconut), but my total before tax and coupons (and I would bet I had close to $5 worth of coupons) was $23.93...that fed 8 of us exceedingly well for lunch (dinner), 6 of us as much as we could handle for dinner (supper), a homemade TV dinner for hubby for tomorrow's lunch, about 2/3 of a batch of frog eye salad (the recipe said that it served 11...apparently that means 11 people eating a dinner plate full of it) and probably a good 4-5 lbs of turkey meat that I need to do something with!

5)
I have to rave about my great new addition to my spice cupboard...for the entire time we have lived in this house (honestly, I don't really even remember my spice space in our old house, other than it is better that what I've had here) I've been struggling with my spices...I never could find them, I'd have to empty out the whole cabinet to find something, or I'd give up and use something that was kinda-sorta somewhat like what the recipe called for...so, hubby and I have been trying to find some pull out shelves that will fit in our extremely narrow cupboard. Finally, I was at wits end over the weekend (about the time we decided that we would be hosting Thanksgiving) and googled "pull out shelves for a spice cupboard", and found this blog post that has CHANGED MY LIFE (okay, maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic...) Such a simple idea, but so amazing...it was even within hubby's home improvement capabilities (although apparently reaching the random bunch of 2x4s in our garage was a little dangerous...)

6)
We are currently reading a book that I am really enjoying, but am a little reluctant to suggest to people: "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map To True Riches" by Jeff Yeager. Now, I'm not reluctant to suggest the book because of the advice in it...but because it is pretty crude and crass...Hubby grew up in a family with that kind of a sense of humor...I grew up in a family with no sense of humor...So, if you are not from a family with a slightly vulgar sense of humor, you may have to wait until you have been married into one for close to a decade...In particular, I really enjoy his concept "skip the money step"...basically, what you do is to not buy something that you will have to work to pay for...the best (simple) example is the car...You want a car as a teen, so you get a job to pay for the car and the insurance and the gas, but the job takes up all your time so you can't enjoy your car, but now you need your car to get you back and forth to work...it's a very interesting book.

7)
Last weekend we ended up staying the night up at my MILs house (well, my FIL does live there, too...but let's face it...houses tend to belong to women) and the girls didn't get even close to enough sleep...so after a whole bunch of drama queen moments by one girl or the other, I reached my limit, packed up and we headed home early (about 4 pm, we usually don't get out of there until close to 9). The final drama was that hubby's grandpa's dog snapped at Eva and it scared her...Not only was hubby's grandpa's dog there, but also my FILs dog, our dog, and my SILs three cats (not my SIL, though...she is visiting a convent in Nebraska this week). Somehow in all the hustle and bustle of trying to get all our stuff together, I managed to leave a bag behind...inside the bag were several books, a set of coupon inserts, a couple of movies, and my purse (with my keys, wallet, cellphone, etc in it!) We were too far away to go back and get it by the time I realized my purse was in there, too...so from Sunday until today I had no car keys, no wallet, no license, no debit card...nothing! Yesterday, hubby forgot to take several things that I really wanted to get in the mail before Thanksgiving, and I originally thought "no problem". I figured I could drive to the bank, get some cash, mail the things and stop by the grocery store on the way home for a few items....then I realized that we don't have a spare car key for our new car...so I thought since it was nice, I would get the stroller, walk to the bank, then walk to the post office, then steal hubby's car keys and car and make him walk home from work...then I realized that he had the car with no car seats...and I realized that Eva wouldn't do well with walking to the bank, post office, grocery store and then home...so I left hubby a message on his cell phone, and he felt guilty enough to take a break, drive home, mail my letters, AND stop by the grocery store after work the day before Thanksgiving...he really is a great guy!

And those are my takes...in the morning I'm sure there will be more over at Jen's blog!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, the turkey is in the oven, cranberry relish and frog eye salad are in the fridge, sweet potato casserole is assembled and waiting on the counter, the potatoes are cut and in water waiting to be boiled and mashed, the green beans are defrosting on the counter with the ingredients for green bean casserole, and the stuffing is Stove Top in the box.

MIL is bringing dinner rolls and pecan pie. Mrs. Smith made the pumpkin pie and it is still in the freezer (our tiny oven can only do one thing at a time!)

I still need to get out the china, but hubby's been running around cleaning while the girls watch a little TV.

All is well in our house and we are looking forward to a day of family, food and fun! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday as well!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why hubby shouldn't stay home alone #6217

Well, I went to a very nice prayer meeting for my bible study...it's actually the first prayer meeting we've done, but it looks like we will do it again. Nothing quite worked out the way we had hoped...we never could get Father to even let us ask him if we could have exposition of the Eucharist, and in the end there were two different music practices going on tonight in the sanctuary anyway (neither were in the bulletin, but then again, neither were we!)


So, hubby was at home for a little over an hour with the girls. Now, this isn't that unusual...he stays home with the girls a lot, but usually I provide frozen pizza or something like that for them to eat. Today, I made lentil-rice casserole in the crock pot (and Eva and Charlotte ate better than they have all week...who knew that they'd dig lentils so much today?) and fed the girls early. Of course, that meant that they were hungry and wanted a snack.


We've been out of microwave popcorn for a while...I haven't found a good sale recently...and I gave away our air popper in a fit of decluttering a few months ago, figuring that a pot could be used to cook dinner AND pop popcorn! Hubby made popcorn on the stove once since that time, with supervision from me. He doesn't seem to have been listening.


Here's what I came home to:


When I asked what he did, he said "I don't know!" So, I asked if he had tried to cook the popcorn on high, he said yes, then added "I'm not sure I added enough fat." So, naturally I asked how much oil he had put in the pan...and he told me none...but that he had put a little butter in!


So, the blackened mess of virtually unpopped popcorn was awaiting me...but here's one more fun fact before I go...he told me that he had to wet the popcorn down to get it to stop burning...it really is amazing that he's never burnt down a house accidentally!

Friday, November 21, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

1-
Could my computer be any slower??? Honestly, what's so hard about loading blogger in less than 5 minutes??? I am sure that it has nothing to do with the fact that I have two open windows of Internet Explorer (one with 3 tabs, one with 2) Spider Solitaire and Outlook all open right now. I am looking forward to the day when dial up Internet no longer exists so that we can upgrade (yes, I am too cheap to consider high speed!)

2-
We still don't know what we are doing for Thanksgiving. Not really that unusual for hubby's family but exacerbated this year by the fact that harvest is STILL going on. Also, since hubby's cousin is still in a hospital (but was recently moved to the best brain rehab hospital around) we don't know if we will be going up to the city to spend Thanksgiving with them. Of course, I don't know how a normal person would respond to not knowing...but my method is to buy EVERYTHING needed for a Thanksgiving feast JUST IN CASE. I have a 14 lb turkey, 10 lbs potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, stuff to make frog eye salad, and a pumpkin pie in my freezer and pantry...I need help (it was all on sale, though!)

3-
Speaking of sales...I'm starting to need therapy! I swore I wouldn't turn into my hubby's grandma. When we cleaned out her house years ago (which is strangely on the same block we currently live) We found two large chest freezers full of turkeys, etc. She had at least a years supply of TP, and so much dishwasher detergent that we still had a bunch left over (I think we took half the stash) when we moved out of our apartment with a dishwasher and into a smaller one without a dishwasher. So far I only have about a 1-2 month reserve of toilet paper, only one turkey, but I DO have about a years supply of shampoo and conditioner...I have a really hard time saying no to free...

4-
My parents recently gave me a box with a bunch of sheet music, etc in it that has been sitting at their house since I went off to college. Inside was an Irish tin whistle, which was one of the few things that didn't get thrown out...it was up on the counter for a couple of weeks where Eva kept asking about it, and I told her that I needed to wash it (it was pretty gross after that many years in my parent's garage!) I finally sent it through the dishwasher (I'm pretty sure that's not in the care instructions...) and put it in the toy box last night. Naturally the girls are fighting over it and making an awful lot of noise...I am currently rethinking my decision to keep it...

5-
I'm loving our Thanksgiving break. I decided to take a two week break because we a) home school year round- 4 days a week, b) have completed 10 weeks of school, and c) have run out of curriculum for the first quarter...since we are TRYING to stretch out Kindergarten for two years (so we don't have a 5 year old first grader) I need to come up with a bunch of review stuff for a few more weeks, and then find a way to slow her down for the next three quarters.

6-
We started rehearsals for Christmas choir at church...I love singing, and I love the fact that our parish has a choir...I just really wish they didn't love Marty Haugen so much because he makes me want to puke...We are singing this nauseating piece for Christmas:
"Child of our Dreams By Marty Haugen A Christmas Anthem for Choir, Keyboard, Guitar and Optional C Instrument" (If you want to purchase it, it is available from GIA Publications)

Vs 1: "Holy Child of poverty, so lowly is your birth; sharing our humanity, embracing all the earth; Ev'ry nation, ev'ry race, ev'ry person wears your face: Come anew, O Child of our dreams."
Vs 2: "Joyful child of mystery, come warm our winter night; fire our dull complacency, and fill us with your light; Speak the Word that makes us whole, lead each lost and hungry soul; Come anew, O Child of our dreams."
Musical interlude added by our choir just because they love this song so much
Vs 3: "Sacred Child of ecstasy, creation sings your love; light gives back your radiancy and fills the skies above; Gentle glow from candlelight, splendor of the stars of night: Come anew, O Child of our dreams."
and just because 3 versus of this isn't enough
Vs 4: "Child of all eternity, our justice and our peace, born into our history that hatreds all may cease; Bring us all to life from death, be our hope, our joy, our breath; Come anew, O Child of our dreams (echo Come anew, O child of our dreams) Come anew, O Child of our dreams"
YUCK! And the worst part is that after we finished rehearsing this crap, the choir leader (who is a wonderful person that we all love) sighs happily and says "Don't you just love that song?"...I was polite and didn't respond...

7-
FACEBOOK...I hear talking about Facebook is mandatory on these lists (at least it seemed to be last week!) I am on facebook, and it can be fun...but I mostly just like entertaining myself on facebook...You can put your current status on there like "your name is contemplating doing horrible things to Marty Haugen" (not that my status would EVER say anything like that!) Since I am in the "don't particularly want to be found by my high school classmates because it would just take too much explaining" crowd. The whole loudmouth ambitious atheist future business person I was back then versus the Catholic homeschooling homemaker/mom I am now...I just don't want to have to go into it. I am in touch with 1 high school classmate on Facebook. I did put my HS on my profile, so I do show up when you search through my class...but I didn't put my maiden name on there, and I used a picture of my kids on there instead of me...and no one has tried to find me yet. Mostly, I am in touch with hubby's family, my mom's group here in town, and a few Catholic moms I know from the on-line world.

Okay, that was long winded, but fun! I'm looking forward to reading through more of them over at Jen's blog.

Monday, November 17, 2008

One Home Many Hopes


I just found out about this Race to 20K...I guess I must be a bit behind, because they are almost to the end of their 30 day limit. Currently, they have around 500 donors, they need 1000 to meet their challenge. If 1000 people give at least $10, then they will get a matching donor for a total of $20,000 to expand their facilities. Here's some info from One Home Many Hopes website:


"The Past: In the early 1990s, Anthony Mulongo...befriended a group of street children [as a journalist] living and eating from the rubbish dumps. There he met Gift Hawa.
Gift was a six-year-old girl who lost her mother to AIDS, and whose 10-month-old brother had died on her back while she carried him through the streets in search of food. Anthony moved Gift into his house, enrolled her in school and raised her as his daughter. Today Gift is 13 and among the oldest of 35 girls in Mudzini Kwetu.


The Present: Mudzini Kwetu is currently home to over thirty girls, a handful of hens, three cows, a vegetable patch, a few fruit trees and a donkey named George - all living together on a single acre of land...The girls wake up at 6 a.m. and do chores together around the home under the supervision of house mothers Saida and Grace...By 7:30, the girls are in school. Mudzini Kwetu believes that education is the best way to escape cyclical poverty. The girls at Mudzini Kwetu attend classes at a private English-speaking school for up to 12 hours each day...The girls own a couple of board games, a few hula hoops, a rusty bicycle, some bricks and a soccer ball.


The Future: Our vision is:• A new three-story building with each floor serving as a distinct family unit headed by a "house mother."• A university education for the girls so they will be able to support themselves and be agents for ending poverty in their town, region, country and continent.• An on-site kindergarten and school, free of the prohibitive private education fees that are common in Kenya."


Go over to the website yourself and check it out...I was very touched and became one of the 1000 needed donors. Please consider adding your support. Thanks to Karen Edmisten for posting this on her blog for me to find!

Friday, November 14, 2008

One down, one to go!


Well, since hubby was home for a chunk of nap time today, I took the opportunity to finish Charlotte's painting smock. Why does he need to be home if it is nap time anyway? Because I am genetically incapable of ironing (I know I've blogged about this before!) Last night at Mass, Father asked if someone could wash and iron the altar cloths before the Archbishop comes on Saturday...the church secretary kept gesturing to me trying to get me to volunteer...but I burn, not iron...and really I'm not so great at the laundry anyway! However, hubby is very good at ironing (I don't know where he gets it...his mom is better than I am, but not much). Of course, years ago I was commenting on how much I don't like to iron and how hubby doesn't mind, so he does the ironing in front of hubby's grandma (yes, Whimsy...the same one who can't stand dirty glasses...) Well, for Christmas that year hubby's grandma got him a no iron shirt because I don't iron for him so he doesn't have to do it.


So, I sew...and he irons as needed. Here are the results. First, of course, the wonderfully crafty smock made for me more than 25 years ago by my (single and childless) great aunt. Then, of course is my cheap imitation which looks like it was made by two drunk baboons (which is what most craft and home improvement projects look like around here!) My stitches are wildly erratic, my cuts are not so fabulous...but it is done...and it's a painting smock, so I guess I really should be glad that it is not my Mona Lisa...

Two years ago this minute...


I was lying sliced open on an operating table (mostly thankfully, conscious!) making bets for the time of birth of a baby...well, I still was sticking to boy...but hubby, my doula and my OB were all betting girl. I DID get the time right by choosing 7:45!


Happy Birthday Charlotte Merici!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not depressed...just busy!

Well, Katie...you get your wish...an update!

I've been slaving over/cursing at my sewing machine because I decided (unwisely) to make a present for each girl for Christmas.

My great aunt made me a painting smock when I was little (that my mom confessed today that I never got to use when making a mess because it was too nice) and my mom gave it to Eva for her birthday. Well, the girls naturally fight over it. Hubby suggested that we could probably BUY a painting smock (or use an old t-shirt over their clothes or something), but I thought that it would make Charlotte feel sad for Eva to have a nice painting smock and for her not to have one...

I'm about half way done with that one, and I'll post some pictures of the two smocks (hopefully soon!)

I've wanted some bean bags for Eva for her P.E. class, but when I priced them on Amazon, they seemed like a lot of money for what they were (well, the fact that I couldn't find any bean bags that qualified for Super Saver Shipping was the nail in the coffin!), so I will be making those when I have finished the smock.

Also, Charlotte got moved to her big girl bed this week. It's been out in the garage for months, and the past month or so hubby was working on sanding/priming/painting it (all the mismatched hand me down furniture in their room is the same shade of white with some of it having red accents). So, we took out the crib, and she's been there since. It's gone pretty well since she is no longer confined. I'm still having some trouble at nap time.

Tomorrow is Charlotte's 2nd birthday! So, we'll have a little family celebration tomorrow night, and then have the family party on Sunday. If the roads are okay, it will be at my MILs house, if not, it will be here and I'll need to get busy with cleaning and cooking.

We also have confirmation at our parish this weekend, so I get to go sing with the choir and hear what the readings and homily are for a change. I can't believe that Thanksgiving is almost here, and then Advent will be starting...I'm feeling worn out already!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Denial and Detachment...

Well, obviously we are a little sad about the elections yesterday. In the words of my MIL "I wouldn't feel quite so bad if SOMETHING I voted for passed!"

In this house we seem to be having two approaches to dealing with the unhappy political news. I am trying to practice detachment, and hubby is very much working on denial. I can't seem to convince him or his mom that denial isn't so great...

Since we all already know the bad news about the current state of affairs, I'm going to focus on the good news in our household:

All four of us are healthy
We have plenty of food
Our house is relatively warm
We can pay all our bills
Our transportation is reliable (if not stylish!)
Hubby is employed, and in a government-esqe job
If Obama does his whole redistribution of wealth thing, we will be on the receiving end

Okay, that's all I can come up with right now...it's a cold and dreary day around here, and that's not brightening anybody's mood.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My trick or treaters!


Well, my sweet little trick or treaters and I are just hanging out today while hubby is at work. I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend at home for a change. Bad news is that Charlotte has developed a hacking cough since last night, so I may have a quiet weekend at home with a sick toddler!


Here's a great picture of the girls (taken this morning, they are loving their costumes)



Beyond a little trick or treating and keeping up with school work, I've mostly sat around the computer this week entering bloggy giveaways (I did win one over at Voice of Truth - a Creative Memories paper album...and it looks like she is in need of some prayers at the moment)

While I've been doing a whole lot of nothing, hubby's been very busy around the house! On Tuesday he installed our new to us dryer (my MIL got a new set, so we mooched her old dryer since it was still working fine) with minimal cursing (neither one of us is what anyone would call handy). On Wednesday, he worked on priming Charlotte's big girl bed (my childhood bed) and mowed the lawn before we went up to visit his family and carve pumpkins with the girls. While we were up at his parents house, I helped my MIL work on cleaning out her basement, and while I was down there besides finding lots of books she has read and no longer wants to swap at Paperback Swap, I also found some pull out shelves for kitchen cabinets (when she remodeled a few years ago, she didn't need them anymore, as her new cabinets have built in pull outs) and some cork tiles. So, on Thursday hubby installed the pull out shelves in two cabinets, and created a cork bulletin board for me to hang my calendar on...the greatest part about that is now all the random holes from different sizes and styles of calendars are now hidden under to cork tiles!

I really should be cleaning the kitchen or organizing stuff or planning school for next week, but at the moment, I am very content to have a little computer time while my little Nemo and Bruce the shark watch Finding Nemo...

Slime Laboratory Winner

Congratulations to commenter number 34, Lisa who is the winner of my bloggy giveaway! Lisa mentioned that she has 3 boys, so I am hoping that making slime turns out to be very popular with her.

Of course, Slime Laboratory and lots of other great games and toys are available through my Learning is an Art page. Including my girls absolute favorite (which was only mentioned by one commenter) Pet Detectives, which is a fun combination of a go fish sort of game with some money counting skills and lots of fun animals...including two blank sets where you can make your own pet cards using pictures of your own pets! There are also a bunch of exclusive items, including IQ Blaster, which was a popular pick during this giveaway!

So, I hope everyone has as much fun entering giveaways as I did...hopefully we can all rest up before this all happens again! Check out the other winners at the Bloggy Giveaways!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I interrupt my random Googling for the Sweetheart Meme

Okay, if the government ever wants to investigate me, they will probably be bored and confused...Over the past few days, here are several of my Google searches:

What is the difference between purple and violet? (After an argument with hubby as to whether moreno or violeta were a better word to teach for Spanish class)
Homemade disinfectant with dish soap and tea tree oil (after I lost the scrap of paper I scrawled the formula on out of a book a read a while back)
and today's entry is:
Homemade laundry detergent with Ivory soap (after having to buy a six bar pack of Ivory for a science experiment and upon realizing that I am running low on detergent)

Okay, on t0 the meme (how is meme pronounced, anyway? Hubby and I had a fight about that several months ago, too!)

SWEETHEART TAG

The rules are posted at the beginning. Each person answers questions about their sweethearts. At the end of the post, the person then tags 6 people and posts their names; then goes to their blog and leaves them a comment, letting them know they have been tagged.

What is your husbands name? il postino

How long have you guys been married? 9 1/2 years in December (or 9 years in December if you don't count the half a year we were married before we were married in the church)

How long did you date? Well, when we took our FOCUS inventory non-test (that really is a test) I was hoping that we would put down the same amount of time. We did, and I think at that time we said 11 months. Of course, we didn't really have a clean start to dating at all...we met my first day of college (hubby was helping with orientation) and we kinda had a love/hate relationship from that point on...however, we didn't start sorta dating until around his 21st birthday.

How old is he? Just turned 31, so he's in his mid 30s, and I am still in the under 30 crowd (yes, I'm mean to him about his age!)

Who is taller? He is, by just a tiny bit that would probably be negated if I ever bothered to wear heels.

Who can sing best? I can! Well, I tend to be more musical, and I actually can 1) read music, and 2) remember the words to songs. Hubby probably sings more often, because it annoys his coworkers (thankfully they deal with the worst of it at 7 am!)

Who is smarter? Well, he got better GPAs generally speaking, but I never really applied myself...When we went to grad school (he was going to the law school, and I was in a straight to PhD Sociology program) at the law school introduction it was suggested that the spouse of the law student should get wireless headphones so that they could do things like watch TV while their spouse studied for hours on end...we didn't figure it would be a problem for us, since I was doing grad school, too...in the end, we got the wireless headphones so that HUBBY could watch TV without disturbing me with my studying/writing/grading, etc. Of course, we discovered that law wasn't right for hubby and teaching wasn't right for me...so we have no need for the headphones anymore!

Who does laundry? I grew up in a family where my dad did the laundry...in fact, right up until we eloped, I'd walk my laundry bag over to my dad's office on campus for him to take home and wash for me (he worked at the college we attended) and he'd bring them back on Monday...sadly, I had to learn how to do laundry after marriage, and I do most of it now...being a homemaker and all...

Who pays the bills? I pay the bills, hubby drops them off (if they are local) or mails them (if need be)...one time he dropped our mortgage payment on the ground on his way to work...it was winter and very snowy...I got a notification that we hadn't paid our mortgage...I blamed the post office and set up an auto pay on our mortgage...when spring arrived, we found the mortgage payment under the snow...too bad we already paid the $20 for a stop payment!

Who sleeps on the right side of the bed? I sleep on the side furthest away from the door, and always have...so if the bed moves or if we are vacationing, our sides of the bed change!

Who mows the lawn? I have never touched a lawn mower in my life. I hope never to learn. Most people I know find this very strange...

Who cooks dinner? Me. The first time hubby made me supper, he took a box of Spanish rice, a can of black beans and mixed it together with salsa, Tabasco sauce, chili powder and any other spice he could find...I could not eat it...it made me cry...hubby cooks sometimes, but he's pretty gentle with the spices now...

Who is the first to admit when they are wrong? Neither of us! Hubby's favorite thing to say is "Do what you want, but I know I'm right!" and of course, Eva has started to say it, too...I don't like being wrong anymore than he does, so we just don't dwell on being wrong very much.

Who kissed who first? I think it was me, but 10 bucks says that hubby thinks it was him...

Who wears the pants? Well, most of the time we both wear pants...and so do the girls! Really, I don't know...I try not to be pushy, but I probably fail a lot, particularly since hubby thinks "I don't know" is a fine option for decision making!

I tag:
Let's face the facts, I don't have 6 people to tag...So, if you read this, consider yourself tagged...and if you don't have a blog, feel free to post in the comments!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway - Slime Laboratory!

I was just checking my blogs this morning before getting ready to start school with Eva (I'm running late AGAIN!) and noticed that the Bloggy Giveaways have started again!

This time, I thought I'd give away a product that I sell.

I've been with a great company called "Learning is an Art" since last summer, when I ran into their products at our local homeschool conference. We have education games and toys for kids, teens and adults. We have several favorites around here.

But for today, you are entering to win "Slime Laboratory" a great kit for kids ages 10 and up. Since my oldest is 4, and I have two girls, I figure slime is never going to be that popular around here...but maybe you have kids just the right age!

To enter, please pop over to my LiA website and let me know what product you like best. The great thing about the company is that 100% of the corporate profits are donated to top rated charities. Make sure to leave an e-mail or blog so I can contact you if you are the winner! I will draw using a random number generator on November 1st.

If you see anything you'd like to order or would just like more info about the company, please drop me a line, or you can just order straight from the site. Check out tons of other Bloggy Giveaways, too!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hello Olds!

Okay, since Katie was curious...our new-to-us car is an Oldsmobile Eighty-eight.

It is slightly smaller than the other car (mostly we lost a little bit of trunk space) and is blue.

It appears that this car is ALMOST as popular out here as the other one was. 95% of the...(I can't say the name at the moment...I'm still having some problems!) like our old car were white and looked just like it. Blue appears to be the most popular color for big Olds around here.

We visited Britt at the hospital yesterday, and she is looking much better. Still in a coma, but making little bits of progress each day. Eva sang her "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", but wouldn't do an encore. Her parents and sister are holding up as well as can be expected. I know they all have good days and bad days, but I think having company helps.

We met my in laws at a McDonald's on our way home because they were heading up to visit Britt, and needed to give us our dog. We had stopped to do a little grocery shopping, so we saw them pulling into the McDonald's while we were waiting for the stoplight to change. They parked next to a (drum roll, please) blue Olds 88, and did a double take when we pulled in the parking spot across from them a minute later. They had thought we were already inside (it belonged to an older gentleman, and I'm sure had they looked more closely they would have noticed a lack of kids car seats!)

As the Olds and I are still getting acquainted, here are some of my likes and dislikes about it:

Likes:
Working cup holders (the old car's cup holder broke about 2 years ago)
Working door handle (they also seem sturdier than the old one)
Color (blue is much nicer than white)
Glove box (when you open it up, it serves as a tray to hold my coupons as I sort them while we travel...weird, I know, but what can I say?)

Dislikes:
Trunk (not because it is smaller, but because it and I have issues with closing)
Floor mats (they just get bunched up under my feet)
Backseat seat belts (the buckles are loose rather than rigid, which made for easier buckling of the booster seat)
Side mirrors (smaller than the old car)

So, the good seems to overall outweigh the bad.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bye Bye Buick...

...well, today was the day. We no longer own our Buick.

It's amazing how much a car can mean and represent in your life...and generally speaking, I am not very attached to possessions. But the Buick was more than a possession to me...it was a constant...a constant full of memories.

Hubby's parent's gave him the Buick as a present for his college graduation in 2000. We had been married less than a year. It was hubby's third car (farm kid, lived WAY out in the country), but it was my first car. Sure, my parents had an extra car for my brother and me to drive, but I didn't have my own car. When we got married, hubby's car was definitely still his car (I hated it...the cup holders were these little dents in the glove box...the car made no sense...but I guess now I kinda understand why hubby loved that dumb car!)

We hoped we would start a family soon after we both graduated, so the big old boat was the perfect car, in my opinion. Well, we didn't have kids right away, but it has been with us ever since.

It has lived at 8 different addresses with us, and traveled all over Colorado, and through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, and Idaho. We've taken trips planned far in advance in it, and also last minute mini vacations where we slept on the road (not while driving, of course!)

The gas gauge broke in 2000...I also pulled down the oh s*** bar that year. The bar we were able to fix, but the gas gauge only worked for about a day after the repair. We drove it down the canyon everyday to catch the bus to grad school until we got into family housing. We drove it every weekend to church, and probably THOUSANDS of times to my in laws house. It only lived in a garage for a few years of it's life with us...for 6 months at our first rental house and for 2 1/2 years at our first purchased home. This house has a small one car garage that generally doesn't hold any cars (only when we know it's going to snow).

We broke the driver's side door handle somewhere along the way, and had that repaired, but when the same thing happened to the passenger's side over a year ago, we never got it fixed. About two years ago, the tape player stopped working halfway through a tape with the divine mercy chaplet on it, and we never got the tape out (just a homemade recording, though).

It's the car that took me to the hospital to have Eva, and the car that brought us home again. It's also the car that we brought Charlotte home from the hospital in.

It was our only car for 5 years.

It had so many cosmetic defects (and strange problems with accessories) but always ran well. We were never stranded in it.

I do remember changing one flat tire in my parent's driveway...

I also remember the day that the back windshield shattered on my way home...I still am not sure what caused it...maybe a BB Gun...

I know that many of my friends think of the Buick when they think of me...it just has been a part of my life for a very long time.

But, now sadly, it is gone. We ended up selling it to a salvage yard...in part because I probably couldn't have handled watching it get rejected if we tried to sell it. Maybe we should have donated it to a charity, but honestly, there were so many things that really needed to be fixed that I don't know if we would have been doing the charity a favor.

I think that we probably will give the proceeds from the Buick to a charity of some type. What, I am not sure yet.

I do know that all four of us (okay, maybe just 3, I don't know that Charlotte really noticed what was happening) were pretty sad to see them dismantling the car as we signed over the title and were paid for it based on its weight.

But at least it was quick, and mostly painless.

It's probably not normal to have so much emotion about a bunch of metal...it's not like it was a collector's car...or even really a nice car...but it was our car.

We bought a new-to-us car last week (sadly, it is an older model year than the Buick, but with 95,000 fewer miles on it) and I'm still adjusting. But I'm hoping that I am just as sad for all the happy memories we have in it when it comes time to move on to another car...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We've got singing! We've got dancing!

Obviously, Brittney's accident is still very near the forefront of our minds around here, but I thought I'd describe something that happened last night at my folks' house because it was just...too....cute! I'll provide a quick update on Britt at the end, too, if you're interested; thank you for all the well-wishes and, especially, prayers!

So, MM's Aunt Paula gave her family a game callled Songburst (70's and 80's Edition) a long, long time ago and it didn't get played much, despite being generally right up MM's alley, just because the music was a little too old for her and a little too new for her parents. The game turned up recently as MM's parents were cleaning out their basement, and it was still in good shape. MM thought my mom would enjoy it, so she gave it to her as a thank you for watching the girls this past weekend while we were up visiting Brittney, etc.

Well, last night Eva, Charlotte, and my mom tried playing the game on their own, and hilarity ensued! Eva would make up lyrics completely from scratch for any title Mom read, and Charlotte would dance around the room to her sister's singing. My dad and I just cracked up!

Anyway, just a quick update on Britt: she's opened her good eye a couple more times and seems to be responding to stimuli somewhat, but she's still technically comatose. The trauma ward she was in has done about all they can for now, but she's not quite far enough along to really go into any rehab center, so she's been moved into a long-term care facility until the time she's ready for rehab (which we are praying is not too far off). Her friends and family have set up a fund to help with medical expenses; if anyone is interested in more info on that, let us know and we can privately e-mail you the details. Thank you all again for all your prayers and support, and please keep "storming Heaven" for Brittney!

Monday, October 06, 2008

A little bit of hope...

Well, we spent all weekend with the in-laws...MIL and I took the girls for pictures (we did both girls birthday pictures and Christmas pictures all at the same time...first time I've done wardrobe changes at the photo place!) and did some shopping (including buying a new washer and dryer for MIL, but the good news on that one is that we will probably get their old one (to replace the one that is the squeaky background of our lives!)

Then, we met hubby and FIL for a Cajun broil fundraiser for the hospital there...the girls LOVED the crab legs and shrimp (although MIL had quite a time trying to keep up the cracking and shelling with their appetites, since they both wanted to sit with grandma!) and I even tried a crawdad. We spent the night and went to their church in the morning, spent the afternoon visiting at their house, and the evening at a Rosary/prayer service for Brittney, then a community gospel concert/fundraiser for her. Finally, we had a late supper and drove home (we also picked up hubby's grandma's old car, which we are considering buying).

Right before we left for the rosary, etc. MIL was on the phone with about nine different people (no idea who all she was talking to, but every time she said goodbye to someone, the call waiting would ring again!) when her cell phone started ringing...I went to pick it up off the floor (and found Charlotte playing with a steak knife...I think we may need to have a discussion about trying to keep the house a little more baby proof again...) When I answered, it was Britt's sister, calling to let us all know that Britt opened her eye for about 5 seconds, and then batted the nurse away with her right hand (she's used her left hand to do so before, this was the first time she used her right hand, though).

Of course, we don't know what this means, but it was such a glimmer of hope to hear that she opened her eye up, even if just for a minute...and I am sure that it was exactly what her parents and sister needed to see!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brittney and the Parable of the Two Sons


We're visiting my cousin Brittney in the hospital yesterday and today before we need to head back home in a couple of hours so I can be at work at 7 tomorrow morning (it's about a 3 hour drive). The girls have been behaving remarkably well and seemed to have learned a major lesson about wearing seatbelts. Now that Britt is pretty well cleaned up and looking more like herself (and not as sensitive to noise in the room), we let the girls come in and see her and join us in praying for her.


In the middle of all this, we did manage to make it to Mass this morning. I'm really glad we did: it always seems like, at times like this, the readings speak to exactly the situation we're in. Today the first reading, from Ezekiel, and the Gospel from the 21st chapter of Matthew both spoke about how we are given free will to choose to follow God's command and live or to turn away from God and face the just consequences; not only that, though, they both tell us that we are not stuck with bad choices we make at first, but can repent and choose God later, and still be just as saved. This message was of some consolation to me thinking about not only Brittney, but her whole family as well. When Britt was just a little girl, her parents--for reasons I'm still not sure I really understand--stopped going to Mass. This became a fairly big source of tension in the family because my mom is Brittney's godmother and, rightly, saw it as her duty to try to make sure the Britt and her sister were receiving an education in their faith. This, if anything, wound up pushing the girls further from the Church (obviously through no fault of their own) because my aunt and uncle felt pressured by my mom and seemed to get defensive about it.


A few years ago, though, when Britt was probably about midway through high school, her grandfather on the other side of her family died. The really amazing way our parish priest at the time handled these issues and interacted with Britt's family went a long way toward bringing the family back to the Church; not too long after, Brittney and her sister received the sacraments of communion and confirmation and fully entered the Church. From that point on, with a few glitches here and there, they've generally been very active in youth group and other activities in the parish, and have often acted as St. Paul reminds the Philipians to do: "humbly regard[ing] others as more important than [them]selves."


Brittney's a sophomore in college and, as so often goes (including with myself), has sometimes acted out more of the "fool" part of the "wise fool" year. But I feel pretty confident in the state of her soul and, regardless of how her medical condition goes from here, comforted knowing that she, eventually, did "go out and work in the vineyard."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Prayer request!

Sorry I've been MIA...but I am resurfacing today to ask for prayers.


Hubby's cousin, Britt, was in a very serious car accident Thursday night. She was not wearing her seatbelt (she was a passenger), somehow went through the back windshield AND had to be extracted from the vehicle.


We are still not sure if she will pull through, but things are looking much more hopeful.


She fractured her skull, lost an eye, and broke a leg in several places. To the best of my knowledge, they have not done anything with the leg yet. She is in a medically induced coma, and had surgery yesterday to remove a blood clot and place a drain. She also had to have some brain tissue removed. Unfortunately, the tissue is saturated with blood, so the drain isn't helping as much as it would otherwise.

No one is allowed to speak to her or touch her, as the doctors don't want her brain stimulated.

Hubby and I are heading up to the hospital after he gets off work to be with the family. We aren't going to let the girls see her, but I think that hubby's aunt and uncle, cousin (and his parents who have been at the hospital with them) will be happy for a little distraction from them.

So, please pray for Britt, her parents, her sister (who is having a really hard time with the whole situation) and also for Britt's friends who were also in the car, but all sustained fewer injuries.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Uncle!!!

Okay, it's over...I didn't make it 30 days...

I'm currently working on listing 16 books to paperback swap, and I am no longer on vacation from it...

Yesterday we went to the K of C meeting, and I had 3 hours with the girls. We went to Walgreens, used up that last register reward and got out of there with only $7 out of pocket. Then there was a little street fair thing going on, and we went over to check it out for a while. Well, I gave in and told Eva she could do one of the inflatable things (can you believe $3 per thing? She chose a little maze type thing, and got to go through it twice...so $3 for about 3 minutes of entertainment for one kid!) but she had to trade me a WalMart gift card for it (she still had 5 $5 cards...don't worry, I used it to buy her some school supplies!)

Then we headed over to WalMart, and I still did okay, less that $60, and that included a month's worth of yogurt, lots of food items (good coupons for things that aren't carried locally, like name brand pasta, etc) school supplies, vitamins, new dress shoes for Eva, and from the clearance aisle (paid for with gift cards) a Disney Princess dance a long thing (I've been singing "Bella, Bella, Bella dancerella" ever since hubby put the DVD in before 7 am!)

We ate at the pot luck, and went out to visit grandma and grandpa on the way home (their town has the cheapest gas pumps in the region...) Overall, it was a really good day, but I did break my no debit card rule...and didn't do too well with the 30 days of nothing!

Today, I ended up ordering catalogs and one new sample for the games that I sell, because the catalogs I have will no longer be valid starting October 1st, and I talked my MIL into doing a party for me in just over a week.

So, I had a good run with my 30 days, but I didn't make it this time. Maybe if I try again in the future, I'll make up my mind BEFORE the month begins!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Day 19 - Keep on truckin'

I have to admit, that I REALLY want to quit...

It's not really that the challenge of 30 days is too much for me...it actually doesn't feel like much of a challenge at all...just a slight irritation.

Maybe if I had been able to stick with the $100 of groceries for the whole month, it would've felt like more of a challenge, but I didn't, and so hubby is getting the second $100 and picking up a few specials at the store in the next town over. Today he is working at an office about an hour away (1 way time) and he'll be back there next Friday, then the following Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday...it is going to be a lot of gas (particularly since we usually fill up his gas tank once a month!), but he is getting paid mileage (but not drive time) and it will get him a few extra miles and hopefully show management that he is willing to work hard and travel.

What's really bugging me is how depressingly empty our refrigerator is...not that we are lacking food! We have plenty of canned and boxed foods in the pantry (though we are low on cereal AGAIN) and lots of frozen foods...but this is an inventory of what our fridge looks like today:

1 grapefruit
1 banana (I keep the really ripe ones in the fridge so they last longer)
2 triangles of Laughing Cow Light cheese (garlic and herb flavor)
2 almost empty coffee cans (regular and decaf)
2 sticks of margarine
1/8 th of a bottle of AppleJack
Brita cube full of water
lots of condiments (most almost empty) such as ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, mayo, vinegars, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, hoisin sauce, jellies and preserves, leftover pickle juice (I'm planning on marinading some pork chops in it) and also about 1/8th of a quart jar of yeast all in the door.

That's it...I look back on my days as a kid opening up my parent's fridge and whining "there's nothing in here to eat!" and just laugh...I wouldn't blame my kids for saying that at this point!

Sadly, I could probably make three healthy meals a day for over a month from the pantry and freezers...

On Sunday we are going back to the city with Wal Mart and Walgreens because hubby has a 4th degree Knights of Columbus meeting. The girls and I are going to do a little shopping (go buy some yogurt and string cheese for the girls, use up my Register Rewards from last time), and then I WAS stressing out because I didn't know how to deal with the fact that we would need to eat while we were up there, and hubby came home from his Knights meeting this week and told me that there would be a potluck afterwards...so God has provided (I definitely can make a potluck dish that will be safe in the car!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Day 17 - more frustrations from falling off the wagon...

Well, today is hubby's day off from work, so we are visiting his parents again. I really really really wanted some caffeine this morning, so we ended up stopping at an unnamed convenience store that has several numbers in their name...

Well, since we were stopping for drinks (I wish I could say that we were stopping for gas, but honestly, the drinks were the reason) hubby suggested topping off the tank, since the price of gas in our town FINALLY fell (and the price rose in my MILs town where we normally buy our gas!) Of course, they require pre-paying...but at most pre-pay stations around here, I can go in, tell them the pump, and they'll start the pump while I grab drinks.

Of course, the one cashier (there were 5 employees in the store, but only one working the register) was busy when I got in, so I grabbed the drinks and then went to the register. I told the girl that I also had a pump, but I wasn't sure if it was done (it looked like hubby was pumping) and she said that he hadn't started because of the prepay thing. So, I asked her to start the pump.

Well, she informs me that I have to give her money before she can start the pump. I pointed out that I was standing right there to pay, and was going to hand her my card as soon as he was done. She told me that that would not work, and that I needed to give her an amount. I told her I had no idea how much it would be, but that I wanted to fill up the tank. The guy sitting behind her (I think that he was doing inventory) said "just put $85"...well, I flipped out. First of all, our Buick has NEVER taken that much gas, and I was just trying to top it off. I told her that it would be $25 tops, so she put it on, and I had to finish paying before she would start the pump (I think that this is possibly the most inane and retarded store policy I have ever heard.) So, I told her that I was going to stay there until it was done to make sure that either all $25 was used, or to make sure I wasn't charged the full $25.

Well, the girl (I'm having a hard time resisting calling her a "chicky", but I'll try to be mature) walked off, and about a minute later she came back and discovered that she sent the credit to the wrong pump. Thankfully, this being at about 9am, they weren't busy and no one was at that pump. Finally, she got it to the right pump..hubby pumped the gas, she told me he was done. I asked her if all $25 was used, and she said "yeah, he used it up."

So, I finally get back to the car, and tell hubby how VERY annoyed I am at the whole situation, and I mentioned that she told me he had used all $25...and he pointed out that the pump said $18.43...so we pulled up to the building, and I went inside...had to wait for the same chicky...errr...I mean girl, to be done ringing up another customer, and when I told her that she had lied to me (okay, I didn't flat out call her a liar, but technically, she DID lie to me) and that I wanted my money back, she told me that the amount from the pump was charged to my card instead of the amount I signed for, and I asked for a receipt to prove it...she rolled her eyes, and printed me a receipt (am I being unreasonable here???) and I left.

One would think that companies would want to make it convenient to purchase impulse items along with your gas, but apparently not!

I have letters written in my head to both this company's corporate office and the corporate office of Walgreens...but I probably won't write them, as it serves me right that both times I fell off the wagon this month, I had major frustrations with the transactions...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Day 16 - just waiting for the squeaky dryer to be done with the diapers...

Well, hubby opened Quicken of his own accord for the first time EVER! (I think it is the first time he's opened it up, period, he thinks he may have opened up Quicken somewhere between 5 and 20 times in our 9+ years of marriage) Apparently, the way to get him to care about finances is to tell him how much money a politician he doesn't like very much gives...

I have to admit, that I knew this going into marriage. One day when we were dating, I was at his apartment when he got the mail. He opened up his bank statement, glanced at it and threw it in the trash can...I freaked out and attempted to fish it out of the garbage...he seemed confused and told me that he had already looked at it, and that he still had money in his account. I asked him how he was going to balance his checkbook if he threw away his bank statement. He stared at me blankly, and mentioned that he had never actually sat down and balanced a checkbook.

Actually, I asked him last night, and he STILL hasn't ever actually sat down and balanced the checkbook.

Of course, at the time we were dating, I kept all of my receipts, and took all credit card receipts and stapled them to the credit card statement that they were on (after paying the credit card in full) and filed them away. I kept them ALL until Eva was born...then I got a life, and I no longer am THAT anal...

No spending yesterday (having no money left that I can get to easily helps that). I don't think I actually left the house all day either (is it bad that I can't remember much about yesterday?? I do remember that my kitchen was spotless for approximately an hour between lunch and dinner.) No spending today, either. I did go up to church to count collection (yes, I volunteer to count money...surprising? Not really!) and hubby took the girls to the park. I'm also going to go give blood this afternoon (when hubby gets home again) and get a free soda and free cookies...gotta love the snacks there!

I'm looking forward to Friday, when I will be able to get money out of the bank (gotta love paydays!), as our fridge is VERY empty at the moment (we have lots of frozen stuff...but we're down to less than half a gallon of milk, and Eva doesn't like "that yucky milk you made" so I'm thinking that I'll be serving a lot of water and iced tea until Friday). Of course, my plan is to get out $100 to get us through the 30th.