Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Perfect Spring Day

If you've had weather like us lately, you've experienced those chilly days (where you consider pulling the winter coats back out) with warm teaser days here and there and many, many days of rain and gloom.

Yesterday, was a perfect spring day.  The weather was in the 80's and a cool breeze was blowing.  My husband had a rare day off so we spent the day together.  Emily had pre-k in the morning so we rushed home after school so she could change out of the tennis dress she had begged to wear that morning into shorts and a t-shirt.

We actually spent the day close to home in the Lehigh Valley.  We had a quick errand to run before heading out.  We had to stop at the local outdoor living store to check if they sold doors for backyard sheds since ours needed a little TLC. The girls had fun checking out the chairs and gazebos (not to mention the swingsets) while my husband talked to a salesman.
We picked up sandwiches at Wally's Deli (a LV institution) before heading off on our picnic lunch at the semi-new (it opened last fall) 19,000 sq foot "destination" playground that they had built in Allentown at Cedar Beach.    I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  With a recycled rubber surface, the girls almost bounced as they walked. With a rope spider web type activity area, a multi-tiered play structure, slides, rock climbing walls, games with lights and sound, and a whole host of activities for children of all abilities, the girls were exhausted within two hours of being at the park.

While they napped in the car, we headed to my grandparents house for a quick visit.  We timed our visit perfectly. The magnolia tree which has stood outside of my grandparents kitchen window for as long as I could remember was in full bloom- a testament that spring truly was here.  It has been years since I saw it with flowers since I no longer live in the area.  The breeze blew the flower petals from the tree.  There was a thick blanket of them on the ground.  I have a lot of memories associated with that tree. My sister and I climbed the tree in the summer when we were little and we used to hang on its branches like little monkeys. 

On the way home, we had to stop at Cabela's. While my husband visited the big boys playground, I took the girls to see the animals and the fish.  I always find the stuffed animals a little macabre but the girls love looking at them and naming all of the animals.  

By the time we got home it was bedtime for us all.
It was a simple day but a perfect day.  Those are the best days.

Sorry about the poor quality of pics but I forgot my camera and for some reason Blogger doesn't let me upload pics taken from my phone  properly unless they are in collage form.  They always end up rotated sideways.

Monday, April 25, 2011

One More Transition From Who I Was to Who I Am Now

With baby #3 on the way, it was inevitable.

We knew we would need to upgrade to a more practical vehicle.

We had talked about swapping cars.  I would take my husbands SUV and he would take my car.  It seemed more practical anyway with all the commuting and traveling my husband does.  My Accord beats his MDX's highway mileage, well, "by a mile", by many, many miles to be exact.  With gas at almost four dollars a gallon it would save us money to.

I had bought my car for its practicality.  The only splurge was the fact that it had leather seats.  It had decent gas mileage which was important since at the time I was commuting to my teaching job at a school district an hour away.

It was just a car.  That was my mantra.

My husband bought his vehicle because he wanted a nice vehicle with all the latest gizmos and gadgets and he wanted an SUV to tow his boat. He lost interest in the gizmos and gadgets within the first 25,000 miles.  With almost 300,000 miles to date, he has an attachment to his car that no amount of cajoling on my part will break.  According to my husband, it is a perfectly good car that has never needed any major repairs.  With that many miles, its reliability is eventually going to come to an end and I don't want to be the one driving it when it does.

In the end we both agreed that I had to trade in my car...for a minivan.

For someone who always said that a car is just a car, I was having a hard time adjusting to actually driving a minivan.  I had been dragging my feet on actually doing research about models and makes.  So last week after searching the Internet and many calls and trips to various car dealerships, we finally settled on a particular minivan.

On Tuesday evening, when the car salesman said they could have it ready for us on Thursday, I actually breathed a sigh of relief.  I had two more days to adjust to the idea of driving a minivan. 

I don't know why I was having so much difficulty adjusting my image of how I saw myself with the image of a woman driving a minivan.  So much for my "a car is just a car" mentality.  Maybe it was because I couldn't get the soccer mom image out of my head.  The car makers have done such a good job branding the minivan as a "soccer mom's car" that that was all I could see it as.  Any mom will tell you she's more than a mom and I couldn't get over being branded as "just a mom" every single time someone looks at my car.

Needless to say, I made peace with the idea pretty quickly.  The van drives just like my car and most of the features are where they were in my car to.  I now have cargo space for groceries and the best part is I also have a clean car. I can even carpool now which I haven't been able to do since Madison came along. 

My husband informed me Saturday night that he was borrowing my car for a guy's night out.  I rolled my eyes.   He obviously has no issues driving my minivan. Yep, I am even getting possessive of my new car.  Rather than him driving everywhere when we go somewhere as a family, I keep the keys, at least for now. 

I may even already have a ticket in the mail since on the way home from the dealership, I was to busy admiring my new car and drove through the EZ-Pass lane crossing the border back into PA when I didn't have EZ-Pass in the car.

And I realized it is just a car.  One that has some pretty useful perks for our growing family.  Of course, let's hope I don't pass out from shock when I fill up the gas tank for the first time. That may take some getting used to.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Peep Art

I'm sure your familiar with those ooey gooey sugary marshmallow treats that appear on store shelves around Easter and other holidays.  Peeps.  While I am not a big fan of them, my children love them. Every time my grandparents visit they bring a box for them to dig into.  Just like they did this weekend.  And they brought two boxes of little yellow bunnies. In case you didn't know, yellow is Just Born's (the company that manufacturers them) bestselling color of these confections.

Yesterday, I had visited with a friend who has a son Emily's age.  She had made carrot oatmeal cookies with raisins, covered them in green frosting, added jellybeans and Peep bunnies nestled in a bed of edible grass.  It reminded me of  last year when Em and I had made Peeptastic Peep Art.

It also reminded me of how I am behind this year with the whole Easter thing.  We visited the Easter Bunny and went to an Easter Egg Hunt but that has been it.  No decorating eggs.  We haven't even decorated the house.


Decorating is on the to-do list today.  I figured we would make a day of it and decorate and make Peep art.  Em had fun playing with all the edible supplies and getting her hands covered in frosting glue last year.  I knew by her reaction to my friends Peep creations that she would love to do it again.

First thing this morning I trekked to the grocery store, gathered all the goodies (taking advantage of the bulk candy aisle where you could scoop out a few pieces to buy rather than buying an entire package of candy), and assembled my creations before the girls even stirred.

I figured we would create our masterpieces this morning during snack time.  Nothing like a little sugar before leaving for their weekly play date where they could play and run off their sugar highs outside before heading home for naps.

This year our theme is gardens and edible jewelry. I assembled them in less than 10 minutes just so you could see what they looked like.  You can use whatever you have on hand (including any candy your kids have already gotten from school parties or Easter Egg Hunts or family members if your family is anything like mine).

To create the little garden I used the following supplies:
  • Butter loaf cake (you can use any kind of cake)
  • Frosting (you can add food coloring if you have it)
  • Green sugar crystals
  • Sugar wafers that I split and cut for the fence
  • Peeps (of course)
  • Gummy worms
  • Pretzel sticks and Fruit Gems for the flowers
For the edible jewelry all you need is the following supplies:
  • Licorice lace
  • Fruit loops or Cheerios
  • Peeps
It is super easy and fun for the kids to create their own creations.

Have a Peeparific time!

What kind of Peep art would you make?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Things You Forget About Pregnancy

There are so many things you forget about pregnancy after your baby is born.  The rough edges of your memories tend to soften after a time.  Even labor doesn't seem so daunting after you have gone through it.  So much so that your even willing to do it again. 

Here are some of the things I had forgotten:

How your awake when the rest of the world is sleeping.  I tweeted about this months ago.  The one morning it seemed I was alone on twitter.  I found myself talking to my computer.

How awful morning sickness really is.  That feeling of being nauseous every second and how nothing seems to help can be brutal.  Brushing my teeth throughout my pregnancy is even an ordeal since it makes me want to gag. 

How bone weary you are and lethargic.  This time is usually one of the few times that can make me forget my to-do list and the stack of bills on the counter.  Oh, and the Redbox video that I had for about two weeks and never got around to returning.

The crazy dreams seem to start earlier with each pregnancy and are so vivid and real that I wake up wondering where I really am.

How teary eyed I get over everything.  Reading a magazine article at breakfast will have me crying in my Cheerios.  Those Hallmark commercials about the recordable storybooks that were everywhere at Christmas made me weep.

How hormonal you become and so easily annoyed. Over.  Everything.  Including when your husband forgets to turn off the porch lights and lets them on all night long or forgets to put out the four garbage cans for the garbage man to pick up.

Are you remembering now?

Believe me I am not complaining.  I know more than most about how these are all good things.  It means everything is fine and that I have a little baby safe in my belly. Yet, these are the things I forget about in between pregnancies and don't remember until I am either expecting again or I hear another pregnant woman talking.  And then it all comes rushing back!

Friday, April 15, 2011

And The Race Is On

And I was worried...

Last year when we went to an Easter Egg Hunt, Emily had been so slow at gathering eggs that she ended up with maybe one or two.

And that was with me egging her on, so to speak.  I had even taken her hand to help guide her to some eggs at one point.

When it was over, she had a huge pout on her face while the other kids sat and opened their eggs.  Then, she asked me why she didn't get as many.  There were even tears on the way home.  My heart broke for her.  Her little legs were no match for those of a seven year old.  She was so shy when it came to running around grabbing up eggs and she seemed overwhelmed by the sheer number of kids around her.

Have you ever seen kids at an Easter Egg Hunt?   It is sheer chaos and every child for themselves.  Easter baskets go flying as kids whoop and race around scooping up eggs.

This year I figured she would figure it out.  Herself.  And she did.

She beat kids twice her age to hidden caches of eggs, grinning and laughing as she went.  I couldn't believe how much she has changed in the last year.  She is a completely different child.  Precocious and silly, she is full of questions and is a total ham.  She loves anything creative and delves into things enthusiastically instead of holding back.  I love watching the person she is becoming.

And she is not afraid to go up to kids bigger than her and start talking to them.  Recently, we were at a church book sale and she asked me if she could go talk to the "bigger boys".  They were probably in second-grade.  She didn't want to talk to the girls next to them. She wanted to talk to the boys.

I don't think I am quite ready for that yet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Are You An Email Hoarder?

Did I get your attention?

Are you?

I am.

I never thought of myself as a hoarder before.  Yes, I recycle everyday things for the kids to use in art projects and I save stuff to repurpose but I do keep it organized or chuck it when I've had it awhile and it has been sitting unused and/or temporarily forgotten.  My front closet houses three plastic tower cabinets filled with craft items.

My email is another matter.  It's annoying clicking on each and every email I want to get rid of, not to mention it hurts my hand. 

This is why I have almost 4000 emails in my personal email.  That isn't counting the ones already sitting organized in folders.

Horrifying, isn't it?

Then, I got an email with the title, "Are You An Email Hoarder? Hotmail Can Help You Organize!"

My interest was piqued...and my skepticism.

Apparently, Hotmail now has a new Sweep feature that allows you to get rid of mass amounts of email in just a few clicks.  Do you hear angels singing?

Here's How It Works:
1) Locate a sender whose emails you want to sweep from your email.
2) Click the box next to the email.
3) Click Sweep to move or delete all of that sender's messages. (You can also choose to move or delete all future messages from that sender.)

Three easy steps!

Can it really be that easy?

The answer is yes.

Just by getting rid of the retailers emails I received, I was able to whittle my inbox down to about 1800 emails in mere minutes.

The rest are personal and need to be gone through but it is more doable now than before and I feel energized by getting rid of the other 2000 so easily that I am more optimistic that I WILL get around to spring cleaning my email.

Hotmail is also running the Hotmail Sweep:Messiest Desk Contest. Click here for the rules and visit their Windows Live Hotmail Facebook page to submit your entry. You have until Friday, April 15th to enter.

*I was not compensated in any way to write about this Hotmail feature or the contest.  I just think it is a wonderful and useful tool for any email hoarders out there like myself!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mom 0 Bug 2

Em has been learning about bugs in preschool.  She is fascinated by the little creepy crawlies.  Personally, I hate insects of any type.  I shudder at the mere thought of dealing with them.

It seemed fitting then that she also learned about another type of bug this past weekend...the stomach bug.

That little bugger blew through our house.  Em had some belly issues on Saturday right before we were to leave here to visit my family so we had to put the visit on hold.  Madison seemed immune to it all.  Lucky, Squirt.

Me, not so much.

I ended up in bed on Sunday afternoon to sick to move except to run to the bathroom when necessary.  Ginger ale and crackers were not even my friends.  I don't often get sick so when I do I usually get hit hard.  This time was no exception.

This was one bug that Emily did not want to get up close and personal with unfortunately.  Mommy neither.

Hopefully, this is one bug that has been squashed.

Hopefully, my husband who usually falls victim last manages to make it back from his work trip without succumbing.

Now please excuse me while I go lysol my house to obliterate any more of those pesky little buggers that may be lurking.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What Did I Get Myself Into?

Sorting, entering data, printing, cutting tags, hanging, pinning, pinning, pinning, thinking "why am I doing this?" and "is it really worth it", taping, and then counting (and not on my fingers).

That has been my "job" for the last week.

I finally sorted all of the girls' baby items and after giving away a lot of clothes and toys, I decided to sell the rest at a local children's consignment event being held this weekend.

I have had yard sales before but this was so much more work than even I imagined.

The prep work to get the items ready for the sale took a lot more time than I thought it would.  You had to enter descriptions of all of your items into the website, print your sale tags, and hang them on the clothes and tape them on the toys.  Did I mention you had to hang and pin all clothing items to the wire hangers?

For about 50 pieces of clothing it took about 8 hours overall to prepare them since I had to steam them to to make them look pretty.  I had about 115 items total. 

I get 60% of the sales plus an extra 5% for putting up signs in local businesses advertising the sale and another 5% for working a shift.  While I am not sure the huge amount of time invested is worth the few extra bucks, a good friend made a good point about paying it forward. 

The nice thing about doing this is I get everything out of my house at once and I don't have to take a few things at a time to a consignment shop.   So in the end the pros and cons will balance out.

And not only do you get to sell your items but you get to shop to.  If you consign or volunteeer you get to shop early.  Did I mention that the amount of new items being sold is mind boggling?  I couldn't believe the amount of new stuff I put in the sale.  Many of the items were things I had on my baby registry with Emily that we never even used for either girl.

I am actually looking forward to working tomorrow though.  The atmosphere at these events is crazy which is why I volunteered to work the pre-sale when it won't be quite as bad as the first public day of the sale.  It is kind of exciting though watching everyone's enthusiasm for finding good bargains.

As far as what exactly I will be doing while I'm working is anyone's guess.  We shall see...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Is In The Air

Could spring really be here?  For good?

A stretch of warm weather seems to be in the forecast rather than these teasers that Mother Nature has given us only to dump some snow on us a few days later.

A 10 day forecast with not a single day under 50 degrees met me this morning when I turned on the computer and checked the weather. 

Yes, I checked the weather since I didn't want to put my kid in a spring jacket (again) only to have her walk out into a snowstorm. 

Park days, walks around town, and even lighter jackets may be in our future.

I read something yesterday that said if it wasn't for winter and those brief cold spells even after spring is here that we wouldn't appreciate spring so much.

They were right.  We probably wouldn't.  Nor would we the feel the need to curse at Mother Nature or Punxatawney Phil either when they let us down since we need someone to blame and they seem to have more clout than the weatherman.

In our house we are officially declaring it spring.  We even made egg carton tulips out of egg cartons and pipe cleaners because I told Emily the flowers would soon be blooming (if the late snow didn't kill them).

My husband told Emily that he saw his first robin yesterday while doing work outside.

I asked him when was the last time he was outside.  They've been around for awhile, I explained.  It turns out he was just chatting with Emily and explaining all the birds that migrate back.  He knows she loves birds.  I had to correct him only to find out it wasn't the first robin he saw but he wanted to share its sighting with Emily.  Score one for me as I ruined a nice daddy and kid moment. 

Spring really is in the air.  It seems we could all do with a little fresh air.