Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Writing On The Wall, Literally

I've always wanted the kids to feel like this is their house too, so I try hard to let them feel their presence in the house. I always hang their school and homemade art for holiday, and the fridge is always a free space to hang whatever they fancy. I have decor that reflects their personalities too (okay, really it is my nerdy side coming out and I blame it on the kids but they seem happy about it), and generally keep the house "kid friendly" so they aren't walking on tip toe through any room in the house. I've found it keeps my blood pressure down, and the screaming to a minimum if I keep things around that aren't going to be broken the first time they are touched.

Even so, it seemed that the art was multiplying...like mice...or rabbits. I'm not sure when it started, but one day I noticed there were art projects up on ALL my walls. Even in my bedroom. I ultimately had to ask what was going on and was informed Ella was using her new easel A LOT and wanted to basically make our entire house into a gallery. We had to have a talk about asking first, and trying to keep the art to the main family room. I was feeling a little grumbly, asking myself (in my head) "where had she gotten the idea that it was okay to go around taping anything up on the walls" when I walked into the living room: Oh, yeah. Because I do it all the time.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Failing At Almost Everything

I made it one week with my New Years Resolution to not drink soda anymore, but then we had pizza. How can you eat pizza without root beer? You can't. So a big fail there.

I wanted to buy either a X-box with a kinnect sensor or an elliptical to get more exercise, but it turns out our dryer died so it's good I didn't rush into buying one of those. A big fail on that.

I wanted to get dressed every day. I know this sounds stupid, but when the only places I ever go are to drop off the kids at school and Walmart it is hard to get motivated to put on a blouse. On Thursday I put on a really cute dress with jeggings underneath because I was helping in Ella's class. The second I got home I took it all off and put on my "comfy" clothes (ie a t-shirt and velor sweat pants, because I'm just that fancy). It is pretty sad when you think jeggings are too restrictive that you have to take them off the second you get home.

I wanted to feel like I was accomplishing something, but I've been sick all but 4 days of the new year. Hard to feel like you are doing anything when mostly you sit on the couch, trying to breathe, drinking hot chocolate all day.

I wanted to be a more positive person, so here it goes. I am going to try to not fail on this last resolution:

Eric has to give up soda and basically everything yummy, plus exercise more, in order to lower some levels to qualify for our health insurance. On the bright side I should probably re-give up soda and exercise more with him. We can all work together to be healthier. (I may still have root beer with pizza, though. I'm not crazy!)

I bought a dance game for the Wii and we've had a lot of fun sweating and dancing as a family. The weather may warm up in the next couple of months and we can start walking more and riding bikes.

I did get dressed to go to Ella's class. I still get gussied up for Church. When I go out to places (and even Walmart sometimes) I try not to look like the pajama people. So on this bright side I'm still trying. Maybe next week I'll try a whole day with no sweats!

Today is actually one of the few days I feel ok. I danced with Ella and Eric. I'm going to work on the Tudor Home for my Christmas village, I'm posting on the blog. Maybe I'll go see a movie by myself. I WILL make dinner if it kills me. I will feel like I did something worthwhile. And if I don't...well on the bright side, there is always tomorrow.

And now for something to brighten your day. Ethan found "Darth Maul Yourself" on the Star Wars website and I thought these two turned out particularly well (Livi's was cute too but she cries every time she sees it).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Other Benefit, or a tiny-bit insane

My poor husband. This is the state of our kitchen counter and he hasn't complained once!

So I mentioned that the low cost of firewood (really, cost of living in general) is one of the two benefits of living in Scottsbluff and my friend Holly wanted to know what the other one was. I was going to post about this in a little while when I have accomplished more, but since I am bored, and sick with my 32nd cold of the season I thought I would do it now.

I tend to pick up weird hobbies. Weird in that they are more appropriate for a 122 year old retired great-great grandma who grew up in 1890. I have taken up knitting (luckily no doilies as of yet), I can embroider linens with the best of them, and now I have become obsessed with building a dollhouse.

It all started while I was reading one of my favorite blogs and she shared pictures of her "haunted" dollhouse. It was a little on the creepy side, but it was intriguing. I have been thinking of how I would have done it differently. More spooky than truly scary. More like the silly parts of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. The more I thought about it the more I wanted to do it. I love Halloween and it would be a fun centerpiece.

I've been perfecting the concept, drafting ideas, reading everything I can on the web, and trying to scrounge up what information I can about a very outdated hobby. Unfortunately dollhouses went out after the 80's as a popular hobby, so there are almost zero supplies in the Scottsbluff. Luckily (and here is the other benefit to living here) we have a library that has incomplete current best seller book series, but a very well stocked 1970-1980's hobby section. There were over 20 books on dollhouses! I may not be able to read the entire Sookie Stackhouse series, but man, I can learn a lot about antiquated hobbies anytime I want. Woot woot!

Here is the first design I was thinking about using for my custom piece, a replica of the Disney World Haunted Mansion in Florida. The only problem is when I got the proto type finished I did some measuring and the real wooden dollhouse would be over 7 feet long. I'm thinking something more along the lines of a French chateau that Lady Tremaine or Maleficent moved into to go into hiding after their various princesses triumphed. More a misunderstood "evil" sorceress abode.

I have lots of ideas (literally a notebook full), and now I am practicing on a small Christmas village and then a dollhouse for the girls before I start on my masterpiece. So far I have most of the carriage house for my village completed. Hopefully I can get the whole village done by...May-ish?

Monday, January 23, 2012

One Of My Favorite Days...okay not really

Friday was not a good day. It wasn't horrible, but definitely not going in my top 10. We started at 2:30am with Livi's fever, 5:30am was Ella's fever and 6:00am was Ethan dry heaving in the bathroom. The dryer died a painful, expensive death, and Eric was out of town for 3 days.

There were 2 bright spots:
1. I got to order DELIVERY pizza for the first time in my married life, and I didn't even feel guilty about it!

2. The girls were very happy with the pallet I made for them to lie on since they were too sick to even move around. A big thank you to James and Jes for the giant pillows that made it possible.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

False Advertising, or one of the two benefits to living in Scottsbluff

We now have our working fireplace and decided having actual wood might be a good thing, you know, in case Eric's Apocalypse is this winter. There were ads in the paper for cords of wood for super reasonable prices (one of 2 benefits to living in Scottsbluff) so we called and ordered a cord. I went to Menards, bought a rack and cover that stated ON THE BOX that it held a cord and Eric set away merrily setting it up. Then the truck came.
Well, a cord was an entire pick up truck filled up over the top of the cab. It was a little more than my rack could hold. After that one filled up Eric decided we should have a pile on the porch for easy access. When that area was filled up he decided to put the rest on the side of the house in a little forlorn pile that I am tempted to bring over just so it doesn't get lonely.

Never Ending Birthday, fa la la la la la la la la

I can't believe how big Ethan is getting. So trite, but so true. Birthday number 9. Geesh. Now I love a big celebration for birthdays and Christmas, but I am not the Dursleys. I don't do 37 presents and 1 more than last year, but it kind of seemed like the birthday that just kept giving (or it could be the elephant strength antibiotics I was taking distorted everything).

Here are some highlights of the never ending birthday celebration: Morning time and Eric manages to get me out of bed in time to open gifts before school. Livi was a little confused as to why none of the gifts were for her, but was mollified that she had a birthday in October (as if she knew how far or close that was). We took chocolate cupcakes to school (because Nebraska rocks and we can still bring homemade treats!) and after school there was a pile of presents the mail man and UPS man brought for Ethan from grandparents. Casey, my parents dog, even sent him $1.01 in his card! What a nice dog. That evening we ordered pizza and had the Bagleys over for dinner and cake. (I know the picture is awful, but I loved the silly look on all the kid's faces). And if this last picture is a little smokey looking that is because Ethan blew out the candles, we asked what he wished for and he looked at us with a blank face. He had forgotten you get to make a wish! So we re-lit the candles and he had another go. You'd think on the 9th one you'd remember something like free wishes!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some Exciting News, oh and I have a new nephew!

I would like to give a great big welcome to my nephew Lincoln who made his debut into the world this morning! We are so glad he finally decided to show up (11 days late, poor Julia).

Now something else truly amazing:
I give to you, different types of barbed wire! Amazing. Thrilling even. We went to the farm and ranch museum and it had a display of all the different types. I didn't even know there were 2 types, let alone several types that would necessitate a display. The wonders you can learn in western Nebraska!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'll Be Home (Disneyland) For Christmas

It is not Christmas if I don't get to walk down Main Street, see all the beautiful decorations and hear the piped Christmas music over the speakers. Do I want to live in Celebration, Florida? No, because it is in Florida, duh. Would I live in a Disney dictatorship somewhere (anywhere) else? Absolutely!

This year was no different, and we were once again blessed to be able to go enjoy the season, Disney-style. Looking through the pictures we took there, there was a real lack of Christmas-ey photos. So here is our mostly Pirate themed Christmas trip to Disneyland:

We did have a new and exciting experience when we first arrived in Anaheim. I don't know if it was the fact Livi was vomiting in the seat behind me, or the tiredness I had from just arriving in California, but somehow I missed the branch off to go to our hotel and ended up at Disneyland. The part of Disneyland that leads right into the parking garage and there is no way to turn around. To further compound my embarrassment I was the lead car, so Andrew and Joy followed me right up to the parking attendant. When I explained the situation the worker was very nice, and promptly slapped a bright pink billboard on my windshield that announced to everyone that I didn't know how to drive. It gave me access to a "special" exit for "special" people like me. We started calling it "The Tag of Shame."

We eventually made it to our hotel, enjoyed Downtown Disney, and ate way too few beignets. The next day was DISNEYLAND!!!

Ella was a good "mother" and wanted to constantly help with Ebby. We sat together on the train and she held his hand during the "scary" parts.

We were lucky to get reservations at the Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside the Pirates ride, and it was so exciting Livi promptly fell asleep. I guess she finds dark interiors and quiet cricket and water noises soothing. Hmmmm, who'd have guessed. We also went over to the island-formerly-known-as-Tom-Sawyer-but-is-now-pirate-themed and wandered around for a while. Ebby loved the barrel bridges, and doesn't my mom look like she's enjoying herself too?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Confusion In 5 Parts, (or the joys of extended family Christmas mornings)

Christmas morning is always one of my favorite mornings. We walk into a house that has little lights reflecting off of bright packages. Stockings are stuffed and Santa has left gold wrapped packages. Everything seems so quiet, shiny, magical even, until my kids get going. This year was especially...loud. Here is the run down:
The kids walk out youngest to oldest.
Ebby, seeing the bright pink scooter immediately thinks it is for him.
There is confusion as to who is the scooter's owner.
Ebby loses and Livi cries because he is crying.
Livi realizes she won, and is a happy camper.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Back in the Saddle, or Random Bits of Trip-age

So this is the disaster the day after we got back. It's been a journey, but I think at this point almost everything has found a place in our home. I'm recovering from yet another sinus infection so I'm too tired to tackle one of the big events. Here are just a few highlights from California:

The month of December had been a little hectic for my mom with an employee on maternity leave she had to fill in for, jury duty, and preparing for everyone to come visit. Knowing something had to be left undone she waited until we were there to get the Christmas tree. I thought it would be fun to take all the kids and pick out that perfect tree. The kids thought it would be fun to play at my parents house and let me do it myself (actually it probably was more fun that way!). So we headed off and found the a huge beautiful tree. What we also found was that many people were out shopping for trees. I was in charge of making sure no one snapped up our chosen tree while Dad and Jes looked to make sure it was the best (it was).
After finding one of the last rotating tree stand available in Lancaster we promptly broke it and had to go late at night to find a new one (okay, so I went to bed and my brothers went to get a new one), so we waited until the next day to decorate. The kids helped me and my mom, and it was so fun to point out my favorites, explain the meanings and to let them "help" hang the ornaments. We did have more ornaments per square foot on the lower half of the tree, but they really seemed to love it!
Sweet Autumn, my favorite niece, had her first birthday while we were there. She received a mutant stuffed Ewok from us that hopefully wont haunt her dreams (it looked cuter online!). We were a little afraid after Ebby snubbed his chocolate cake on his birthday that she would react similarly, but she relished her cake.

This next picture is my favorite one from the whole trip! We were lucky enough to see my favorite musical, Wicked, with the adults in my family. The Stotts were kind enough to introduce me to it a few years ago and I have been dying to go back. That's actually not why I love this picture though. I love it because it is one of the few I didn't have to photoshop my chin (thank you Aunt Diane for your photo taking tips)!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If Mary Poppins Had A Garage...

For me it's always a struggle coming back from vacation and trying to reenter the monotony of real life. Right now the crushing sadness of missing family, and the disaster of a house that I need to get cleaned up have made me stress out to the point where I will end up painting my living room before I get to the mounds of laundry, just to defy my to-do list. Anyways, I will get around to posting about how much fun we had on the trip but for now I want to share two not-so-quick stories before I forget the particulars.

1. The Muffin:
We (the kids and I) went to the park one morning with my Mom, my nephew, Ebby, and my niece, Autumn. We had brought some bread and a very old muffin to feed the ducks, but about half way into our excursion Ebby and Livi found the bag of bread and started on it like a pack of rabid dogs. Ebby, who is not allowed snacks because then he wont eat at meal times, was especially...vigorous in his eating of the contraband.

After a few minutes the bread was all gone and I remarked "Well at least we still have the muffin!" Next thing I know Ebby has pulled out the extremely stale muffin and is trying to take a giant bite out of the marble-like top. We decide we need to start feeding the ducks ASAP if we want to, in fact, feed the ducks and head over to the pond. Soon all 5 kids are throwing pieces of week old muffin at the delighted ducks.

Unfortunately one muffin, even a giant Costco muffin, does not go very far with 5 kids and soon we were getting to the last crumbs. My mom remarked to Ebby as she handed him his final piece "Last one Ebby, then the muffin is all gone," trying to prepare him for the end of the duck feeding frenzy. Ebby looked down at the muffin in his hand and promptly shoved the piece in his mouth.

The kid may have loved feeding the ducks, but he wasn't fool enough to feed them his last chance for an illicit snack!

2. The Cave Of Wonder
My Dad either needs a 12,000 sqft shed in the backyard, or he needs the Hoarders tv crew to come out and help him wade through my parents "garage." I say "garage" in quotes because in all the time they have owned the house (23.5 years) I can remember a car being parked in there all of 1 time. True, houses in Southern California do not have basements, and most houses do not have adequate storage, but really, it is a daunting hold-all (and I have to say 99.9% is my dad's stuff).

I get my love of hobbies (ohhhhh, I have to write about my newest one soon, it is AWESOME!!!) from him, but the difference is he can afford to go all out on them. Having a lot of hobbies means having a l0t of hobby specific equipment. Having lots of equipment means that the garage is turned into an apocalyptic wasteland where you are afraid you are going to run into a band of scrounging survivors every time you round a corner. And there are many corners. Walking into the garage is like entering a labyrinth. Down one aisle is 19th century clothes and street corner light (for a youth dance), another has a replica guillotine and electric chair from the spook alley he does every year, and the edges have various cabinets for wood turning, ammo making, house repair, and probably even his secret lunar exploration module that we will all get to ride in next Christmas. I would post pictures as it truly defies words, but that would embarrass my poor mother too much, so I wont.

whew, where was I...oh, so Ella was following my mom around as Mom picked up the house after our holiday madness, as children do, prattling on about dancing, music, princesses, or probably all three. Mom opens the door to the garage to put out a cardboard box and I hear from my spot on the couch Ella stop mid-stream of speech. Then in a tone part wonder, part fear "Grandma...what IS this place?"

Ella, we've been asking ourselves the same thing for years!