Thursday, September 25, 2008

Snow White becomes PG

Tonight I was reading Ella the story of Snow White. I was tired and reading a bit quickly...

I got to the part about the dwarfs working in the mine.

It went like this...

"At five o'clock their workday was over, Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sleazy, Sneezy...."

Wait. I think that's a new one! I can only imagine how the dynamics of their late night singing and dancing would have changed with the introduction of Sleazy!

And on that note I'm going to make like Snow White and start cleaning in hopes that I'm allowed to stay.

For those of you who have been eagerly awaiting it's return since last May, enjoy the season opener of The Office. Have great weekends, out in my neck of the woods we're looking to have a few days of rain (although I can't complain, September has been gorgeous so far) which is unfortunate because all the fun fall and harvest festivals and happenings were starting this weekend. Instead we'll be focusing on a few home improvement projects for which I will at some point be requesting your advice and assistance. That is if I'm brave enough to post pictures!

Edited to add: It was my slip reading Sleepy and Sneezy and inadvertantely adding Sleazy to the mix - not the publishers! Please don't worry that there is some adult version of Snow White out there! :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To Wii or not to Wii...

I've been wanting to use that title for awhile now! It's just so catchy! It also describes the dilemma Matt and were going through this summer. I know, real tough dilemma.

Matt had sold a bunch of his old lacrosse equipment on Ebay and made enough money to purchase a Wii bundle. Of course there are tons of options out there with various games and accessories which made this all a bit confusing. Add that to the fact that Wii's are still really hard to get ahold of. I challenge you to take a look at your local Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Costco, Circuit City to see if they have any Wii's in stock. Doubtful.

As we pondered and searched the weeks passed by and it got closer and closer to our family beach vacation. We knew that if we were going to get one it would be fun to have for that trip.

The week before we left we made tons of calls to various stores to find one and get tabs on our favorite Wii tracker website. Do you know how many calls you have to make before asking "Do you have any Wii's" starts to sound really funny? For me, maybe one or two!

We found our Wii and enjoyed many weeks of playing and making little Wii Mii's with friends and family.

Then I started thinking about the Wii Fit.

I had heard good things about it and I thought it might be a substitute for the sessions with a trainer that Matt was hoping to get me for my birthday. In comparison, the Fit was pretty affordable and something the whole family could use. After more weeks of stalking the Wii Fit tracking website of my choice (I kid you not, they exist!) and watching them sell out within minutes of becoming available we finally snagged our Wii Fit.

The Wii is fun and has tons of cool games, but the Wii Fit is a totallly different experience. It measures your BMI, lets you set weight loss goals, tests your center of balance and gives you the all important (but not really important) Wii age. My first Wii age was a result of an honest mistake (honest!) on my part so I had to redo my body test to get my age a little more reasonable, and, of course, accurate! Now I am in my upper 30's and hopefully only getting younger. The Fit age is based on a set of balance tests, an area in which we discovered he is very talented. My very balanced husband who never exercises tested out with a young Wii fit age of 21. So unfair!

The most surprising part of the Wii Fit is how much the girls love it. Sometimes Ella will stand beside me and try the yoga moves next to me and Catherine loves the balance games. But by far their favorite activity is running. They hold the Wii control and run in place following a little Wii Mii trainer. As you go along the trail the other Wii characters in your system cheer, run past you or run next to you. They love calling out the names of their family and friends that they see. Ella, in particular, seems to have an endless amount of energy for Wii running and somehow does little tricks like changing trainers and courses mid run. I'm thinking this will be just what we need when we're stuck inside during the winter!

I had to share a video I took of Catherine and Ella running together. Two disclaimers before you watch. Because of the placement of the "play" button on the video it may appear that Ella is in her birthday suit. But alas she is not, just her normal morning outfit which I hope does not offend anyone. I'm sure she'll love me for this when she's a teenager. But it's just so cute. Secondly, when you hear Catherine say "beep" she means "beat". I probably need to start working with her on that, but again, it's just so cute!


Friday, September 19, 2008

First Day of School

This week the girls finally started preschool. The church where they attend school was undergoing a construction project and the preschool decided to push the start date back a week so there was less construction going on in the classroom area. I am pretty fond of starting, not the day after Labor Day, but one week later. Especially with the really hot weather we had that week I felt like it gave us some extra time to swim and enjoy a few more days of summer. But that extra week that pushed us into mid September? That had both girls pretty restless and anxious to get started.

That's putting it lightly. For Ella it meant a few times during the week she was crying about how much she wanted to go to school. When the day finally came everyone was ready to go and excited!

Here are a few pictures of both girls on their first days.

Catherine really was that excited and enjoyed her time. I thought it would be so much harder to send Catherine (last year I got a little teary eyed when Ella left), but I can honestly say I was just so entertained by Catherine (ready to go with her backpack on 20 minutes before we had to go) that it didn't even cross my mind to be emotional.

Her favorite part was making hand prints on a big folder that she brought home to store all her artwork in over the year. It was also someone's birthday so they got cupcakes for snack. I hope she doesn't expect that every day.

Ella knows most of the kids in her class from last year and I think it's going to be a good year because all the kids seem to get along. One of the boy's mom told me that her son had asked if Ella was going to be in his class this year - uh oh, I better keep my eye on him! There is also a little boy from her class last year that just liked her so much and is in a different class this year. His mom was so disapointed for his sake that she arranged a play date so he'd get to see her. She's a heart breaker at the age of four. I am already praying that we make it through the teen years!

Next week they'll be on their normal school schedules of Ella going Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Catherine going Tuesday and Thursday. Anyone catch how nice that schedule is?

Total sidebar here... for those of you who are regular readers here you'll know what I mean when I say that Chuck E. Cheese has now been added to the list of places we will never ever go again. Ever. Never ever. If you want Ella to come to your birthday party, do not have it there. Maybe as time passes the wounds won't be as fresh and I'll be able to share the whole story, but for now that's all I can say about it! Now I'm off to pour myself something to drink! :)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Love Hate Relationship

Hello there- I'm back. Sorry I was busy cleaning all week. Pause. No, of course I wasn't, but I did enjoy reading all your comments and input on my cleaning woes. It seems as though a majority of you feel the same way as I do when it comes to cleaning. I still bet that my house is messier and more cluttered than yours. Not proud of it, but I'm pretty sure it's true! I always wondered if it is as stressful for others to prepare for visitors as it is for us. Perhaps stressful is not the right word - time consuming might be a better choice. I have a sneaking suspicion from reading the various comments that many of you do the mad cleaning dash that is common in our household right before we have someone over for dinner. There were definitely some helpful tips from the cleaners in the bunch, so go ahead and check back in the comments if you're looking for some help like me.

In other news....a topic that is quite pressing these days...

Ikea. I would say, with just a tiny bit of shame, that the majority of furniture in our house is from Ikea. What can I say - it's affordable! We've always had good experiences with our trips to Ikea and the products we buy from there. I guess I should have known those good feelings would come to an end at some point. Recently we bought a new dresser for Ella's room and spent a few lovely hours assembling the dresser and eight drawers. What a fun way to spend an afternoon. I actually didn't mind it too much at the time because I was excited for Ella to have a dresser that her clothes would actually fit into. Then we realized that we had been given incorrect pieces for one of the eight drawers. Not too big of a deal - inconvenient, but how hard would it be to return the pieces and get the correct ones.

This is when things started to get crazy and my love for Ikea began to dwindle away.

Matt was able to get back to Ikea a few days later and found out that the dresser is now being made differently and they would have to give us a different drawer (the front still looked the same) but it would still fit the dress correctly. Again, a bit annoying, not that big of a deal...IF IT ACTUALLY FIT! Yeah, I was yelling that. I'm sure you know where this is going...the drawer didn't fit - it was almost an inch lower using the rollers already installed on the dresser so it wouldn't shut.

That was a week and a half ago. Today Matt made what he hoped would be his final trip to Ikea regarding this dresser. After spending about an hour in the returns section this was the status; We can keep the dresser we have, minus one drawer. They gave us a totally new unit for free. And a $25 gift card after Matt tried to get them to give us free assembly (because I am not looking forward to a couple hours putting the same piece of furniture together again).

All very inconvenient and annoying but it should have worked out alright. Right? Wrong! When Matt got home and opened the two boxes he realized that there were two dresser tops in it. A sign that it had probably already been opened and rummaged around in. In Matt's eyes, this was the final straw. He put the boxes on our front porch and started making phone calls. He is pretty adamant about not making another trip to the store to correct another one of their mistakes. I am doubtful that they will agree to come and pick up the dresser boxes, especially since we've already paid for it (well not that one, but the one before it!).

Regardless of how it comes about, it looks like we're going to have two indentical dressers, minus one drawer. I hope that we are able to actually have one complete dresser - at this point I would be pretty happy with that. But don't worry the second, one drawer less, dresser will not go to waste. I have a new project/home improvement/diy brewing that the dresser should be perfect for. More to come on that - I may be asking for some input and creative ideas in the near future!

I am this close to boycotting Ikea. But I just don't think I can do it. They have 99 cents macaroni and cheese and peanut butter and jelly, they have $1 ice cream cones. And their swedish meatballs are delish. Plus - free child care!!! How can I give all that up? I guess I don't have to - I can just go there to eat and avoid all contact with assembly required items? Right?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Cleaning Woes

I've been wanting to ask about this for awhile. How do you keep your houses clean? I don't so much mean in general - if you have kids you know how quickly they can mess a room up (less than a minute on our end) and the question "how do you keep your house clean" becomes somewhat rhetorical.

What I would like to find out are things like:

How often day/week/month do you vacuum, dust, mop the floors, load/unload the dish washer change your sheets, clean the bathroom, sweep, do laundry, put away toys, sort through papers, etc?

What type, if any, of routine do you have? Are certain days for certain activities? I hear that people do that but all of my cleaning is done on an as needed basis. As in, you need clean underwear? Time to do the laundry!

As someone who is not a natural in this arena I would love to hear the good the bad and the ugly. Perhaps you'll inspire me to step up my game or perhaps I won't feel like such a slacker.

Also what is your Achilles heel when it comes to keeping your house in order? For me it without a doubt, not even a close second, it is the clutter and papers that are constantly being shuffled from one place to another, never having a true home and usually making their way to the floor as the kids decide these random items are just as much fun as their toys.

For instance, this morning our family room was clean. I had just vacuumed and nothing was out. A mear three hours later it is covered with crayons and tons of pages from coloring books as well as about six pairs of shoes that the girls were trying on. Granted I brough the shoes out so I could figure out what is going to fit them for the fall and the coloring is a result of Ella playing quietly by herself for over 30 minutes - can't complain about that! I'm sitting here typing this when I should just pick everything up and have it done with but then my eye wanders to another pile of stuff on the couch that is a bit more random and not as easy (ok, probably still pretty easy) to deal with and I just don't feel like it. There I said it - I am a procrastinator and I don't like to straighten up. I don't mind the cleaning part of things, but getting my house in order so it can be cleaned is where I typically fall waaaaaay short.

I would love to hear from you all. Whether you are neat and orderly or tend towards chaos like me, share your cleaning secrets with us - either in the comments, or make a post about it and let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Birthdays and Good Byes

This past week has been a busy one and a roller coaster full of emotions.

First of all I had my mandatory two day adjustment after coming home from a vacation. It used to be one but I've decided I need at least two days to get back into the swing of things. Before you know it, I'll have a week of vacation and a week of recovery. This week I wasn't able to have too much of that because I had a birthday party to get ready for and friends to help move.

Catherine's third birthday party was last Wednesday and for the second year in a row Renee and I planned for Catherine and Nolan to share a party. It just so happened that the park where we wanted to have the party wasn't available until last week. Not too big of a deal because the planned date would be two weeks from each of their birthdays. Little did we or they know that the move across the country that they had been processing and praying about for a few months would come to fruition and they would sell their house and pack up all their belongings – the very week we had planned the party. Needless to say I felt pretty silly calling Renee saying "Please take a break from sorting through all your possessions and help me decide what game we're going to play on Wednesday." Of course that's not what I said, but it felt like. For those of you who know Renee won't be surprised that she continually apologized for not being able to help as much as she would have liked. Because it's not like she had anything more important to do!!! J

The theme was Dora and Diego and we had it at a nearby park so the kids could pretty much play the whole time. Instead of a cake I made cupcakes.

Nothing fancy, but they tasted good and were easy for the kids to eat.

We played one little game that was supposed to be similar to a Dora adventure. Each kid got a map with a two places that included a little activity for them to do. The final task, after getting crayons from Dora's backpack, was to color their map and then turn it in to get a goodie bag. As I watched the kids play along I mentioned to my friend Kelly, "It was kind of stupid, but they seemed to like it." Without missing a beat she responded "well that's Dora for you – kind of stupid, but they like it!" Too true!!! Don't get me wrong…I love that my kids can count in Spanish because of Dora, but sometimes I just can't get over the fact that this 5/6/7 year old girl is constantly running through the jungle on her own, dodging crocodiles and climbing mountains – where the heck are her parents!! Seriously???

The kids had fun playing, eating pizza and just being silly. It was fun to see some friends that I hadn't touched base with all summer. We were so excited that Shannon and Jack and Cade were able to be there with us. Of course I didn't take many pictures but Shannon did so I'll have to steal some of hers!

I did have to include one picture of the birthday girl looking oh-so-sweet wearing her new headband made by Renee.

I love this picture of Ella, Mia and Catherine – it looks like they're having a little conversation.

Can you just picture it 10 plus years down the road as they're all giggling and talking about who the cute boys are??? I can picture it oh too clearly.
Jack, Mia and Catherine. Again, all three have such cute expressions.

Getting ready for the party was one way for me to avoid thinking about the major stuff going on all week – Renee and Jon getting ready to leave to live in San Jose, CA for nine months (less than that now, right? It's been a few days already!)! I have to admit that I was pretty sad last week as we tried to spend as much time with them as possible before we left (granted, I think most of the time Matt spent was packing stuff into their storage unit!). I know that nine months will go by quick, but I will definitely miss them for those nine months. Renee and I are both home with our kids so we see each other a lot through the week during Bible study, Moms groups and this year Nolan and Catherine were going to be in preschool together. Even though we'll continue to talk as much as possible, I'll miss the day to day life stuff we shared with each other. I'm used to having loved ones live far away. My family and many close friends live far enough away that we don't see each other every week or even every month. This move is hard for me because Renee and Jon are part of our local family, people who we share our lives with on a regular basis – I'm not used to having them far away!!!
So basically, even though I know they won't be gone long and I know they're coming back (PROMISE!), I am still sad to see them go. Enough sappiness – I'll try not to sound too pathetic!!!

wanted to have a little time with Mia and Nolan before they left so I watched them for a few hours one morning so Renee could continue with their packing. The kids had a blast playing together and I snapped a few shots since I knew it would be the last time before they moved.

We had a week of celebrating another year with our Catherine and we had a week of preparing for the big good bye to our dear friends. Looking back, I'm glad it all happened the way it did! The last time we would see them was church on Sunday and once again, a really sad moment was bookended with a really happy one because I got to watch my girls perform their worship dance and see the joy on their faces as they danced for Jesus. Again, perfect timing for me…not so perfect timing for Renee since she was the dance teacher and choreographer!

Since then we've only talked once, or twice…maybe more….thank goodness that we have unlimited long distance. They are enjoying exploring their new city and sleeping away all the stress and crazy emotion of the past weeks. If you want to stay updated on their California adventure, check her blog Hangin' with your Naybor.

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