Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Update on the Tickle Tooth!

I was met with a very excited grin after school yesterday - Mister J's tooth finally came out!  He was excited to find a 1971 Silver Dollar under his pillow this morning.  We think the tooth fairy probably leaves a little something special for the very first tooth, so I think he's decided to add that coin to his collection.  Perhaps she will leave spendable, paper money for the next one, which is already loose!

Monday, August 30, 2010

All He Wants for Christmas?

For about a year and a half now, Mister J has been asking for something a bit unusual.  And honestly, he would be pretty excited if Santa brought one.  So, what does a seven-years-old-by-the-time-Santa-arrives little boy want?

One of these....
Do you recognize this?  It's a compost bin.  Yes, my little boy thinks having one of these would be awesome!  And, I have to admit, I think so, too.  I've noticed that we produce one to three cups of compostable food scraps at each meal time.  If I'm prepping fruits or vegetables in advance - like celery or carrot sticks, sliced cucumber, apple wedges, cubed melon, etc. - I have even more scraps that end up going down the disposal.  I'd sure rather be composting it all.  And after two summers of gardening, including prepping the beds, Mister J knows how much compost it takes! 

It used to be a bit of a challenge to walk through Costco in the spring.  Last summer they had a compost tumbler on display, and we had to go 'try it out' every time we were there.  I can't tell you the begging that went on - for a compost tumbler!  I thought we were off the hook a bit this year - they didn't have them in Costco, but we came across the one above at our local Whole Foods.  And then, just last week, he spotted this one ... at Costco. 

from here
It sits on a wheeled base, and the top of the sphere opens to add more compostable scraps and yard trash.  It's 'spinnable' in the store, so you know we had to give it a whirl!

I'll be interested to see what Santa has in mind, since Mister J has already told me that "Santa can't bring one, because he only knows how to make toys!"

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My boys

On a Friday night...

You're right - it's not a local campground.  It's a local ball field.  It's also a great place for Mister J's first camping experience.  Level ground, no rocks/twigs, and plenty of food and entertainment.  He stayed up late and got up early.  He was tired when he got home - but he's managed to keep going all day long without a nap! 

Mister J and Big J had a fun "just the boys" outing last night, and I have to admit that while I was happy for them to have that time together, I was sad that I wasn't there.  You see, this was Mister J's first time camping.  And I'm a mostly-stay-at-home mom, so I'm used to being there for all of the firsts.  Instead, Big J got to enjoy this milestone.  And I'm glad.  He works hard so that I can be at home, and he doesn't always get to do the 'firsts.'  I think it's important for them to have some time together and to do some special things.

To be honest, Miss M was a little bummed, too.  She wants to do everything her big brother does!  And have I mentioned that the tent is new?  So she and I were both a little, teeny bit envious that the boys got to use it first.  We hadn't been able to work out a time to give it a test run in the backyard before the boys used it!  That's ok, though.  It was damp when they brought it home, so the kids and I set it up this morning to let it dry.  And, of course, we all crawled through it a couple of times for fun.

So what did Miss M and I do to occupy our time?  Dinner out (Chick-Fil-A, of course), followed by a trip to Target to pick out some new nail polish, and mini-cures when we got home!  She also wanted to buy her brother a book since he didn't get to come shopping with us - so sweet!  I have to add that she really missed him like crazy last night.  While she wasn't very talkative (tired from the first week of school!), when she did talk to me, it was often about Mister J.

So how did this missing-her-boy's-first-camping-experience Mama do?  Well, I did get a few phonophotos and text messages to let me know how things were going, so I did fine.  And all of those came after Miss M was in bed, when I was really missing my guys (perfect timing, Big J!).  But next time, I want to go, too!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Slow Down

Conversation with my son this morning:

"Mom, what was that word you said after you wrecked into that other car?"

Well, I couldn't remember, except that it was likely, "Crap!" or something relatively mild - after all, my kids were right there with me. 

The good news is that we are all ok.  Oh, and the kids got to watch Toy Story 2 while they waited for Daddy to come pick them up and take them on to school. 

I was very fortunate this morning.  First, that we were all okay - though I was mortified that this accident happened while my kids were with me.  Second, that it was just a fender-bender. And truly, just an accident.  I was not a distracted driver.  I was not talking on the phone or doing other non-driving activities when the car in front of me stopped unexpectedly.  It was on an odd little stretch of road where my lane of traffic did not have a stop sign, but needed to stop - quickly.  And I just wasn't quick enough.  Third,that there was only cosmetic damage to the vehicles.  Fourth, that no citation was issued.

After all of the necessary phone calls were made, information was shared, and reports were written up, the police officer who came to the scene said something to me that has stayed with me all day.

"Slow down." 

And while she surely meant it in the "you were probably going just a wee bit fast on the curvy exit ramp" sense, it translated a bit differently in my heart.

I'll explain....

We are at the beginning of a new school year, facing a very busy fall.  Now, that is of our own choosing.  We have scheduled one after-school activity for each of our children and I will be training for a 5K.  I'm going to do my best to participate in a book study with friends.  Doesn't sound like much, does it?  But the kids' activities just happen to be on the same night - one before dinner and one after.  That night will turn into a "fast food or leftovers, adults are lucky to see each other in passing" kind of day.  The trade off is that I'm committed to have lunch with my husband that day.  We will have together time during the day, and the kids will get some one-on-one time with one of us adults.  So far, not bad.  But then there's this - the coached 5K training sessions are two nights per week.  And book study?  Yep, it's the same night as - and on the heels of - one of those training sessions.  I've already been told that I can "come stinky" by my sweet friend Muffy who is hosting the study.  My hubby will be taking over solo that night - and I am already so thankful!  (I'm an "Acts of Service" - can you tell?)   

We are feeling the Gravity of Motion.  None of these activities has even begun, and we are already feeling stressed.  This will be the biggest balancing act we have ever managed.  I also have some big commitments that wrap up this fall (one of which wraps up next month and one that goes to the end of the year).  I cut back on activities when I was preparing to take on these commitments - and turned a couple of other requests down - but I'm still feeling the effects of 'busy-ness.'  So, what to do?  Well, I'm not sure.  Which is why, along with my book study book (Satisfy My Thirsty Soul by Linda Dillow), I've ordered a copy of this:

to help me find some answers.

I'll also be cutting back on some things (Facebook, Twitter, blogging) in favor of family and my own fitness.  It's all about priorities - isn't it always?  And it's just time to re-evaluate.  I hope you'll stick with me even when the blogging slows down.  I've had quite a run of posting these past couple of weeks ((waves to two new followers)), which is a bit unusual, but I've just had a lot to say!  I hope to continue mobile blogging if time allows.  I also hope to post about my 5K progress, the kids' milestones and firsts (will that tooth ever fall out?), and some of the funny stuff they do and say.  Probably less about lunches.  And I'll let you know what I learn from Ann.

Incidentally, I found out about Ann Kroeker's book through Jane Anne's blog, and I now also read Ann's blog (and sometimes participate in her blog carnival, Food on Fridays).  Small, supportive, bloggy world.

Bagels, Berries, and (Reusable Water) Bottles

Bagel with cream cheese, yogurt with strawberry puree, cherries, carrots with dip. These are Miss M's smaller portions. Also, I added fun napkins again.

(Alternative, and equally semi-alliterative, title: Cream Cheese, Cherries, and Carrots?)

This post is linked to What's for Lunch Wednesday (Week 14) over at What's for Lunch at Our House.  

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day of School (1st grade, Pre-K4)

Ah, the end of summer - back to a routine!  Back to our regularly scheduled activities!  Back to early wake-up calls!

Miss M has been so excited about going back to school!  Uncharacteristically, she was the first kid up this morning, and was cheerful about it, too!  She may be extra-excited because she's full-day this year.  Mister J asked, "Why do I have to get up so early?"  Never mind that he has been getting up early (on his own!) all summer long!  We still managed to make it out the door only 3 minutes behind my ideal schedule (I've already confirmed, I'm a dork), thanks to my very successful preparations last night!

So what slowed me down?  In truth, not the kids.  I wanted to take some pictures!  Forgive the poor color on the lunches - it was overcast this morning, so the natural lighting was non-existent.  (I'm also not taking the time to color correct since I'm anxious to go pick up my kiddos!)

It started with photos of their lunches, which we a little fancier today than normal.  Translation - they had some fun notes and stuff.  See?

Mister J's lunch had:
  • turkey and cheddar sandwich, cut in half, with an apple cutout on the top slice of bread
  • yogurt with a frozen cube of strawberry puree - according to Mister J, it kept the yogurt cold, but was also melted by lunchtime (yeah!)
  • jello - a special treat for the first day of school (I don't usually pack a dessert).  It's hiding under the note from Mom & Dad
  • veggies and ranch dip - an apple-shaped slice of cucumber and some carrots hiding underneath
  • a Phineas and Ferb napkin - another fun surprise
  • an afternoon snack of pretzel nuggets

Verdict:  He ate the whole thing!

Miss M's lunch had:
  • half-sized turkey and cheddar sandwich with an apple cutout on the top slice of bread
  • strawberry yogurt, store bought for the extra fiber
  • jello - again, hiding under the note from Mom & Dad
  • veggies and ranch dip - an apple-shaped slice of cucumber and some carrots hiding underneath
  • a Princesses napkin - another fun surprise
Verdict: Leftover sandwich bits were not a surprise; Miss M prefers American cheese.

And finally, here's a picture of the two cutest kids I've ever taken to school:
Didn't even have to ask him to put an arm around his sister.  But I did have to ask her to not stick out her tongue.  Yep, just a normal day around here. Except for this - I can't remember the last time I was alone in the house.  It's kinda quiet....

Post-school update:  They walked out to the mommy-van holding hands and smiling!  Mister J wanted to talk non-stop about a new computer game he played at school.  He's usually not much of a talker, so I felt a tiny bit guilty for asking him to give Miss M a chance to answer a few questions about her day.  It wasn't long before I turned the conversation back over to Mister J; I could tell that Miss M was worn out after her first full day of school.  After a quick snack once we were home, Mister J invited a friend over and now they (along with Miss M) are playing in the backyard.

Also: check out last year's first day of school post.   Scroll down to see a picture of the kiddos - they have grown so much since last year!

Also posted to What's for Lunch Wednesday (Week 13) hosted by What's for Lunch at Our House.  Click on over to get some great lunch ideas!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New-School-Year Eve

I just posted this as my Facebook status.

I seriously have nothing left to do to prepare for tomorrow.  This feels weird.

The weird part is that I posted it around 9:30 pm.  That's about 90 minutes ahead of my school-year bedtime.  I feel like I must be forgetting something to be done this early.  So far this evening (since 5pm) I have:

  • Held a "peanut butter alternative" taste test (look for future blog post - with photos).  Both of my kids are in class with peanut-allergic kids, so we'll be using an alternative to PB again this year.  Stay tuned to see which one it'll be.
  • Cooked dinner
  • Cleaned up after dinner - all before I went upstairs with the kids.  That last part there is what makes it a HUGE deal.  (Just FYI, that means I cleared table, put away leftovers, loaded dishes into dishwasher, washed non-dishwasher safe items - all before the start of the bedtime routine.)
  • Packed the kids' school supplies - one paper bag full of 'supply list' items for each of them (we never get the 'real' list before Open House, which was on Monday, so I didn't have quite everything they needed until today).
  • Remembered to include all of the 'first day of school' forms - which I completed yesterday, including a copy for my files and getting them into said files.
  • Prepared the backpacks  - which mainly means cleaning them out from the summer (toys, papers, odd crayons, etc), but I also tucked in a travel-sized pack of tissue.  They couldn't resist the Toy Story-themed packets (Woody for Mister J, Jessie for Miss M) when we saw them weeks ago.  Kudos to me for not losing them by now.
  • Packed their lunches, complete with fun surprises (more details tomorrow)!   Except for the sandwiches.  I'll make them in the morning so the bread doesn't get soggy.  But the bread is even cut in half already, just waiting for the fillings.  Oh, my, I'm a dork.
  • Put the kids to bed on time - really on time - for the first time in ages.  And that includes bathing, flossing, brushing, and reading (3 chapters of How to Eat Fried Worms).  Oh, yeah - I'm feeling like SuperMom.
So, if I got everything done, why does this feel so weird?  When I figure out what I forgot, I'll let you know.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crafty? Yes.. Creative? No.

"You're so creative!"

I get that a lot.  And while I like to think I'm crafty, it's less about creativity and more about being able to follow directions.  Cut this.  Fold here.  Print this.  Yes, you read that right.  Print this. 

One of my newest crafty loves - free printables.  So quick!  So easy!  Usually just a little cutting and folding required and - voila!

I'm stealing borrowing and idea from One Pretty Thing - a site that has a ton of craft links every. day.  Only OPT has a photo of every craft, and I'm just linking you here with a short description.  I like to print cards (to stuff into my collection of unused envelopes) since I'm really a fan of letter writing.  Most recently, I've been doing back-to-school printables - especially lunch box notes.  One day my kids will outgrow this, and I'll be sad - but for now, I guess there are worse things that printing out free stuff.  I'm going to link you directly to the site with the printable download, but many thanks again to OPT for the links, the ideas, and the craft reading escape on a daily basis!

Backpack Snack Treat Topper (for the first day of school, so print it now!)
After School Convo Cards (hope this is a fun way to jump-start some after-school conversation with my oldest)
Gingham Lunch Note Cards (so cute!)
Lunch Box Love Notes (get out your circle cutter!)
Lunch Box Notes, Tags, and Stickers (customizable notes, and a cute idea for attaching the notes!)
Make My Lunch ... Fun (notes and bag tags)
Lunch Survey (scroll down - probably best for older kids)
Printable Lunch Box Menus (boy and girl designs - 4 per page)
School Notes Printable (scroll down; 2 per page)

And one more, not via OPT:
Super Sweet Lunch Notes (in celebration of the newly-designed another lunch - one of the bento blogs that I read)


ETA:  Look at this post that just came through my reader today.  She has some of the same printables in her post!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wii love Toy Story 3!

Shortly after it came out, we took the kids to see Toy Story 3 (and when I find the pics from that outing, I'll upload one here).  We all loved it, so it's definitely one that'll be added to our DVD collection.  Shamefully, it's the only one I've seen all the way through.  We have Toy Story and Toy Story 2, but I have never made the time to sit down and watch them - I'm always doing something else, so I've only seen them in bits and pieces.  (Same with It's a Wonderful Life, as it turns out....)  Anyway, back to the point....

Shortly after seeing the movie, Mister J spotted Toy Story 3 for Wii - and asked if he could use his savings to purchase it.  Big J and I thought about it for a bit since Mister J would need to use some of his "save" money rather than his "spend" money.  In the end, we agreed that a bigger purchase from his savings would be a great lesson in working hard - and saving - for larger items.  We did ask Mister J to think about the purchase for a while to be sure it was really the way he wanted to spend his savings.  We were just about to go on vacation for 10 days and decided that if he still wanted to make the purchase when we were back home, we'd take him shopping.  Well, shopping day arrived!

Leaving Costco, about a month ago
As it turned out, there was a coupon that day, so he saved $10!  He was so proud of his purchase!
While we don't follow it exactly, we use the principles from Financial Peace, Jr., to teach our children lessons about money.  We have attended Financial Peace University and although Dave didn't pay me to blog about FPU, I'd love it if he'd sponsor a giveaway.  Dave's not reading - who am I kidding?- but if you'd like to know more, check out www.daveramsey.com.  I'm also glad to share our experience, or you can type "financial peace" in the search box on the right.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Oh, my! I'm guessing the Tooth Fairy will be here before the weekend is over!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, August 20, 2010

Overheard #32 and #33

After getting post-haircut Dum-Dum lollipops...
Miss M, holding up wrapper for Mister J to read:  "What flavor is this?
Mister J, paying more attention to the pictures than the words on the root beer wrapper: "Cracker Barrel"

As I was going through the McD's drive through for an iced coffee:
Miss M:  Can I get a box?
It took me a moment to figure out that she wanted a Happy Meal....

There were a few more good ones today, but my brain got full!

Another Post-Allergy First

Over two months after Miss M  was given the "all clear" by her allergist, Big J and I still have aha! moments when it comes to safe foods.  Yes, they are all safe foods now, but our habits aren't so easily changed.  In fact, we have discussed whether or not we will ever stop questioning food safety, and we doubt that it will ever be so.

For instance, on a recent outing we were trying to decide where to go for dinner.  The kids were tossing out ideas (mainly Chick-Fil-A) when Big J proposed a stop at Five Guys.  I've been two or three times before, but I could only go on my own because they serve peanuts.  Big, open boxes of peanuts.  It's completely off-limits for any peanut-allergic family.  In fact, Big J had never been before, but as soon as we remembered that we can go, we headed that way.

So, here's another snapshot of something I never thought I'd see:
That blur is Miss M's fist coming down to smash a peanut open.
And besides the burgers and the super-yummy fries, Five Guys has my respect for this:
Posted on the door as you exit a Five Guys restaurant
 Thanks, Five Guys, for spreading the word about food allergy safety (even though you serve peanuts)!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Overheard #31

Miss M has decided she only likes "fixed" tomatoes - she doesn't like her cherry tomatoes quartered, she likes them whole.
Also, while I was rearranging three of the upstairs rooms, the kids were playing pirates in the soon-to-be toy room - complete with their versions of British accents. Too funny!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Back to School - Lunch Box Practice

School starts next week, and I'm gearing up to pack two lunches a day, five days per week.  I'm not new to the routine, but I've done a little practicing and preparation over the last couple of weeks.  For starters, I've packed lunches for some of our trips to the pool.  Although the meals are basically the same, we do have slightly different tastes.  Miss M has a smaller appetite, and Mister J's is growing.  This was a good way for me to visualize how much the kids would need in their boxes since it's been a while since I've packed them.
My lunch - with an extra sandwich wedge made with a sage-y bean spread, no carrot sticks (can't eat them with braces), add bell peppers
Miss M's lunch with tomatoes
Mister J's lunch with no tomatoes
They usually eat pretty well at the pool, but get hungry again quite quickly.  I supplement a normal-sized lunch with extra snacks and drinks.  It's pretty easy to do that since there's a break the last 10 minutes of every hour. 

I've gone to several sites with free printables to print out lunch box messages.  Sure, my kids love a few stickers and a note from mom, but the printables are quick and easy for days that I don't have time to track down the sharpies and stickers!  I keep them right in the cabinet with our lunch supplies so I don't have to go very far.

Another way I've started to prepare for the year is by trying out a few new things.  My kids don't mind my school-lunch experiments, but I also like to try new things when I can see their reactions.
New pasta dish based on an idea I'd seen somewhere else.  Verdict:  Mister J loved it, Miss M was not a fan.

You can see these in use in the lunches above.  I wanted to be sure they would a) not poke each other with them and b) put these back into their boxes rather than throw them in the trash (they can be washed and reused).  Thankfully, my kids are used to keeping everything that they find in the boxes.
I also experimented in one other way, though I'm not sure the folks at Laptop Lunches would endorse what I tried.  I've hand-washed the insulated carriers that my kids use, but after an unfortunate yogurt spill I was never able to get the zippers completely clean.  After several loads in our new front-load washer, I noticed that our clothes don't take nearly the beating that they did in our old top-loader, so I thought about tossing in the kids' insulated lunch carriers.  I figured that if it all went wrong, the kids could use our insulated lunch sleeves until I could order new carriers.  I decided to play it as safe as possible, and I put each carrier - closed but unzipped - into a zippered lingerie bag.  I put a couple of towels into the washer to cushion the bags a bit, washed them on cold, and set the spin cycle to a slower speed.  I'm pleased to say that they came out looking new.

Along with the two lunches I pack each day, I also pack a snack for Mister J.  Last year, I either packed a non-perishable snack (like a granola bar), or he would finish up any lunch leftovers.  Finishing up the leftovers was fine, except that he had to get his whole lunch out again.  I'm not sure if the teacher was a fan of that idea or not, but at least she never complained.  However I struggled with that idea a bit.  Lunch time is short, and snack time is even shorter so I didn't want Mister J to feel rushed.  I also wanted the flexibility to pack something like fruit or veggies, but the bento was already full.  As I was shopping earlier in the summer, I came across these insulated containers:
From packaging: aladdin Chill Snack Pack - 14 oz., includes ice pod
The ice pod is attached to the lid, but removable, so the capacity would be a little greater for a non-perishable snack.  Oh, and they come in at least two colors from T@rget.  They also had other sizes, but I didn't give those much attention since I have a pretty specific need.
I'm pretty sure these would get condensation either on the food or the outside of the container, and I'm guessing they would need to be inside of another insulated bag to remain cold.  I'm not sure how leak-proof they would be.  And, you'd need to wash the ice pod and the container after each use, and do it with enough time to spare that you could re-chill the ice pod.  So, as you can guess, I pretty much talked myself out of one.  But, I wonder if any of you have other ideas to share? 

Do you pack lunches for your kids?  Are you getting ready to send you oldest off to school and still trying to decide?  Questions, comments, and suggestions welcomed - and have a happy school year!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


You know how they say "God works in mysterious ways"?  Well, there's no mystery for me today.  He knows what I need and places it right in front of me in ways that I can hardly ignore.  It's really no question Who is really speaking to me.

I've been feeling like my prayer life isn't quite up to snuff lately.  And there are plenty of folks on my prayer list - more than usual, or at least it seems that way - so I'm feeling an urgent need to regain some focus. 

So what does He do to remind me that prayer isn't hard?  That I don't have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get his attention?  That I just need to find a calm place, quiet my mind, and turn my thoughts toward Him? 

Knee Prints - by Ann Kroeker
Lamb - by Angie Smith

For this blogger, these two posts from today are a pretty good message.  One that I can't ignore.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Muffin Tin Picnic

I'm linking up to Muffin Tin Monday over at Muffin Tin Mom.  She's got all of the details on her blog (like, "What's a Muffin Tin Meal?"), and I encourage you to hop on over to learn more, check out the others who've linked up, and join the fun!

This is our first Muffin Tin Meal, so I'm excited to link up.  I can't believe I didn't do this earlier in the summer - it was so much fun!  School begins next week, and with both kids in school I won't get the chance to do this often. 

I really enjoy being in the kitchen, so preparing this lunch was fun for me.  The muffin tin gave it a fun because this meal didn't have to have a lid over the top and I didn't have to worry that it would get shaken about on the way to school (I pack my kids' lunches in bento-style Laptop Lunchboxes).

I served both kids out of this 12-cup muffin tin.
There wasn't really a theme, although a rainbow theme came to mind as I was filling the muffin tin and I decided to serve it as a picnic on a brightly-colored towel.I served strawberries, carrot sticks, white cheddar (not exactly yellow), cucumber slices, and blueberries.  I didn't have anything purple, so I rolled up a few slices of turkey (the package had a purple label, does that count?).  I served ranch dip in silicone pinch cups, and milk to wash it all down.  

I was surprised by how much food fit into the muffin tin!  I was also reminded that my kids don't need "fancy" foods - they devoured this simple meal.  Mister J finished all of his meal, and then helped me out with Miss M's leftovers (there wasn't much).  They did ask for a snack of chips afterward, but I think that's just because they knew that we had a new bag in the pantry. 

Photos with two smiling kids, eyes open, and looking at the camera are rare.  This was the best of five.
And there's one more thing to be excited about - easy cleanup!  My kids always try to bring their dishes to the kitchen in one trip - and frequently end up dropping something along the way.  Miss M carried all of the 'dishes' to the kitchen, and Mister J grabbed the towel.
I didn't even have to ask her to do this - she figured it all out on her own.  What a big help!
I think I'll be able to revisit this idea on school holidays and weekends, and I'm also going to borrow Muffin Tin Mom's idea of serving snacks this way.  It's a great option for the days that the kids can't really decide what they want - and end up wanting a little bit of everything.  Hop on over and see what others are doing!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Nope, not the movie - just my musings on automobiles. And although the mommy-van turned 6 in June, my thoughts have been less about what I'll drive next and more along the lines of what I used to imagine would be fun to drive.

Before we had kids, I drove a cute little Saturn sedan.  Red.  Manual transmission by choice.  Sunroof, spoiler, and a CD player.  It was a fun little car.  When Mister J was born, I switched to Big J's larger sedan, also a Saturn.  That's the car we just replaced - but more on that later.

While I ended up keeping my little red Saturn until it was paid off, and for a few years after that, there was a time that I wanted to trade it in on an olive green Land Rover Discovery.  I never did, but two school years ago, I passed an olive green Discovery just about every morning on the way to drop the kids at preschool.  I was pretty envious of the young owner, though I tried to make myself feel better by rationalizing why it really wouldn't have 'worked' for our family.
I never did get a photo of the olive green Land Rovers - but this similar to the one I wanted.
When I drove by the house where we used to live, there was a black Land Rover parked out front.  If you read that post, you'll understand why it's an interesting 'coincidence' - and why I really don't desire a Land Rover anymore.

(I'm skipping back and forth a bit here, but bear with me.)

In the first six months of Mister J's life we lived in two states, at three addresses, and traveled six weeks in a row during the relocation process (not counting a trip to Grandma's when our power went out during an ice storm [no heat in January!], and not counting our house-hunting trip).  During the six weeks where we traveled back and forth between our soon-to-be-former home and our temporary location, we borrowed Grandma RL's SUV.  It would haul more "stuff" than either of our vehicles, which was helpful during that time of transition.  It's also when I fell in love with fold-down seating.  

Soon after we settled into out new home, it was time for Mister J to move into a rear-facing carseat (out of the snap-in, newborn style seat).  We realized how difficult it would be to fit the larger seat into either of our sedans, so we knew it was time for a change.   Anticipating that we would expand our family, we made the move to a minivan.  Red.  Automatic sliding doors.  Second row captain's chairs.  Fold down rear seating.  And yes, the entertainment system.  It was (and still is) quite luxurious for something designed to simply get us from point A to point B.

I've been thinking about this writing post since I started collecting photos in the spring - putting my ideas together and just waiting for the time to write it.  Many of those days I was driving 65+ miles per day to get my kids to and from school.  I filled my gas tank up once a week, and ... longed ... for something more fuel-efficient.  Also, something smaller would simply be more fun to drive (back in high school, I drove a 1973 VW Beetle - cute!).  Of course, this would be a bit too small...
It's a smart car.

...but I bet you can imagine why it caught my eye!  It's a big change from the most of the cars on the road which, around here at least, are typically silver, grey, or white.  Actually, that Pepto-ish pink turns my stomach - ick!  Mister J used to have a keen eye for smart cars, but in the past several months has become a fan of Fords - in particular, Mustangs.  He also thinks Corvettes are pretty exciting, since we don't see those very often.  He can identify the logos of most auto manufacturers, so there's usually a running conversation about cars and trucks when we are in traffic. 

When the mommy-van is due for one of those all-day services and they give me loaner, I usually ask for something that's not a minivan.  Earlier in the summer I got to drive the new Honda Crosstour for a day - it was about the sportiest thing I've ever driven. 
I went shopping, had lunch with a friend, and picked the kids up from various summer day camp locations.  Mister J wanted to "keep this because [he liked] the front."
I've also driven the newer Odyssey, which has about 800 more buttons on the dash that the model year that I drive.  A couple of years ago I drove an Accord, which was fun to drive but not as convenient for buckling in the little ones.  Each time, I'm reminded why I love my mommy-van.  It's mine.  It's comfortable and familiar.  It's easy to get the little ones in and out. And while change can be fun - and it is good - it's just not my time to move into a new vehicle yet.

In late May, though, it was time for Big J to move into a new vehicle. 
Remember that I mentioned gas mileage?  And wanting something small and fun to drive?  Oh, how I love to drive Big J's car!  It gets twice the miles per gallon as the mommy-van, it's fun to drive, and parallel parking is a breeze.  I still drive the mommy-van, but since all four of us can fit into Big J's car we get to enjoy it, too - especially since the kiddos can buckle themselves now.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Counting Down!

OK, so I'm SO excited, and I can't believe I have made it this long without telling you, but then it would have ruined my idea for this milestone post....

One month from today, I start training for a 5K!

Yes, I really am excited about it!  So, why wait a month?  Well, it's too stinkin' hot to go outside for very long right now, unless a pool is involved.  And then there's the whole the kids don't think this is all it's cracked up to be part.  School isn't back in session quite yet, and I just can't see dragging them along in the heat - which would include pushing 60ish pounds of jog stroller and preschooler.  (Been there, done that!  Ugh!)  Oh, and there are coaches and a training schedule - and it all begins on September 13th!

This is my 3rd attempt to get into the training program - and I've gotta admit, the training that started in January would have been my choice - but I'm so excited to have a spot in this session!  (I think I might have mentioned that already....)  The timing turns out to be great, though, since we will have a couple of weeks to settle back into the school routine before I add 'training' to my regularly scheduled events.

So why put it out there for all to know?  Well, that's part of my accountability to myself.  See, if I'm going to keep you all up-to-date with my progress, you have to know what I'm doing.  And I have to make progress.  And I might be hoping for a bit of encouragement in return.  Putting it out here is kind of scary, even though I am excited.  What if I fail?  It's a risk I'm willing to take, because I want to do this so badly.  I want to be more fit.  I want to have more energy and not tire as quickly when I play with my kids.  I want to make time to enjoy the outdoors - because I really do enjoy being outdoors, I just don't make time.  I want to be a better example for my children, and show them that exercise needs to be a part of their lives.  And I have always - always - wanted to be a runner.  It's been a crazy dream in the back of my head for a loooong time.  "Run a marathon" used to be on my bucket list.  It's not anymore - 'cause a marathon is long, y'all!  But if the 5K thing works out, who knows what else I can do?

I haven't challenged myself in a long time.  I don't think I've ever challenged myself in this way.  It's a physical challenge, to be sure, but there's a lot of it that's mental.  As the start date draws closer, I'm feeling the mental challenge more and more!  Thankfully, there are quite a few folks who are already encouraging me and counting down with me - and that's exciting!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

It's Been Quiet Around Here...

Hey there!  So glad you popped in!  I haven't been around much lately, either.  I'm trying to make the most of the last couple of weeks of summer, my mom came for a long weekend (in addition to visiting, shopping, and cooking, we also straightened up my pantry), and Big J took on a yard-improvement project (the rest of us pitched in a bit, but he did most of the work - it looks great!).

I've got a few posts in mind, but I hope you'll be patient with me as we enjoy the end of summer and get into our new school routine.  So, for now, I'll leave you with this little bit of excitement - I got a little link love over at Mama's Laundry Talk today, where "Mama" is highlighting laundry room makeovers!  Ours isn't complete, but it's sure nice to have the virtual pat-on-the-back to inspire me to wrap it up with the finishing touches.

There's nothing like a few small projects to make your space (indoor or outdoor) a more enjoyable place to spend your time - even if it's just laundry time!  As much as I want to tackle some more projects around here - small and not-so-small - I think I owe it to the little ones to set aside my grand plans for a few days.  "Fun" is the order of the next several days - I'll do a bit of mobile blogging as time allows.  Thanks for sticking it out with me during the quiet times!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

4 More Days Away!

Yes, you read that right!  Just in case the recent bloggy break didn't give it away, we took another short vacation -and boy, did we ever need it!

After a bit of worry that it might not happen, and then changing our schedule just a bit, we made it to Charleston on Thursday and then just Friday off.  We slept in, saw a movie with the kids (Ramona and Beezus - recommend!), and generally took it easy.  After all, we had exciting plans for the rest of the weekend!

On Saturday, we went on an amazing eco-tour with some friends from our college years.  We learned a lot about the barrier and sea island ecosystem, saw lots of dolphins and cranes, and then got to spend some time on Capers Island, one of South Carolina's barrier islands.  My photos of the dolphins and cranes aren't great - in fact, a couple of times I just put the camera down so I could enjoy watching them - but I did get some good (for my purposes) photos while we were on the beach.

Miss M was excited before we even left the dock!  

During the boat ride - which lasted about 45 minutes each way.
Miss M and Mister J leaning against one of many old stumps on the Boneyard Beach.
Mister J had a great time - and I daresay he could've spent another hour playing in the water, scooping up the sand, and generally just checking things out.

One of many shots from Boneyard beach - this one is SOOC, but I've also spent a little time editing it.  Big J and I are hopeful that we'll end up with a wall-worthy photo to help us remember the trip!
 After the eco-tour, we had a great lunch, drove over the new Copper River Bridge, had a bit of downtime, and then met our friends again for dinner (Cru Cafe' - mmm!) and a stroll on the Battery/White Point Gardens.  I didn't take my camera (gasp!), so I only have a few pics on the BlackBerry....

On Sunday, we visited some friends from my grad school years - and their twin baby girls!  We'd originally planned to see them on Friday, but rescheduled so we didn't risk exposing the babies while anyone was still contagious.  Again, I didn't take my camera!  I spent most of my time with an armful of baby, though, so I wouldn't have gotten it out, anyway. 

Even though we started out a bit under the weather, we really had a great weekend.  I'm already looking forward to our next trip!

Strike three four!

On the Saturday before our trip, Mister J developed a cough.  He asked to stay home from church on Sunday, so I knew he wasn't feeling well - and the cough was worse.  Guess where we were on Monday morning?  After confirming with the doctor that we'd still be okay to travel, we left with a prescription for a z-pack and an inhaler to treat walking pneumonia.

It's hard to get a 6-year-old to rest - and I mean, lay on the couch and do nothing for 2 days - but we managed.  It's also hard to get the little sister to lave the 6-year-old alone so she doesn't catch the same thing - but we managed.  The hardest part, by far, was putting Mister J back into his own room.  The kids were more than disappointed since they'd been bunking in the same room for over a month - and they are asking when they can return to that arrangement.

We continued to prepare for our long weekend away, including going to Miss M's 4-year well-visit, my orthodontist visit, and a dental visit that I'd rescheduled to accommodate our previous travel schedule.  Oh, and Big J's doctor appointment on Wednesday because he, too, needed a z-pack.  That night, my ears were itchy and I had a sore throat.  Great.  So on Thursday I finished packing, went to my doctor for the 3rd z-pack of the week, and we left town only an hour latter than planned.  I'd contacted the friends we were to visit on Friday and rescheduled to Sunday.  I also confirmed with the friends we'd be seeing on Saturday that we were still good to go.  After resting most of Friday, we continued with our Saturday and Sunday plans - hooray! 

Guess who got her own z-pack today?  Whatever she has is still in the very early stages, but the doctor decided to go ahead and prescribe anyway.  And guess what?  She's congested and miserable this evening, along with the cough that started today.   Hopefully, the meds will kick in quickly and she'll bounce back in time for Grandma's visit this weekend!