Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Deep or Not So Deep Thoughts... House Lust

So I am currently re-reading the book, Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic. I've read it before... a couple times and I always pull more bits of food for thought from it. The last couple days I have been pondering house lust, or more specifically, my own house lust. We are selling our home in North Carolina and moving back to Minnesota. We will be renting for least least a year, but Philbert and I enjoy looking at houses online. It's a hobby of sorts.

I rationalize my thoughts on what I believe I need/really desire in a home. Four bedrooms - so the girls have their own rooms and we have a guest room or room for a third kiddo. A dedicated craft/sewing space - I love to sew and desire a place where I can create. A front porch - I want to sit on a swing and read to the girls like I used to do at my Oma's house in Duluth. A open floor plan - We like to entertain and often crowd in our kitchen at our current house. A finished basement - for a family room so the TV can be hidden away for infrequent viewing. Bedrooms on a second floor - I like the idea of the family sleeping space being separate. The list goes on and on...

But I don't really need all these things. My girls currently share a bedroom and it's not an issue. My sewing room/guest room/office is really a blessing. It works. I don't need a front porch to read books to my girls on nice days. We can read lots of places. So what if we crowd in the kitchen, the last I checked no one has declined an offer to join us due to the lack of an open floor plan. Really our home we have right now works for us and hopefully at some point we can find a similar home in Minnesota that works for us. I'm not going to go broke paying my mortgage just so I can have a breakfast room, playroom, sewing room... you get the pictures. It's not what matters in the grand sceme of things.

So what do I really need in a house you ask? I need somewhere my family can call home. I need a little yard for the dog. I need it to be in neighborhood that is a community with folks out and about who connect with each other. I need it to be close to where we work and where we play. That's what I need.

The four bedrooms, open floor plan, sewing room, finished basement and breakfast room... not such a big deal.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review: Welcome to the Great Mysterious

I recently finished reading Welcome to the Great Mysterious by Lorna Landvik. I have read a couple of her other books (Angery Housewives Eating Bon Bons and Patty Jean's House of Curls) and I really enjoyed them. Landvik is a good story teller and this book is no exception, although it's not as good at the other two I read. I didn't feel like I developed the same frienship with the characters like in Angery Housewives or House of Curls. It was a nice story, but it was very predictable. I enjoyed the characters, but not as much as her other books.

The story follows diva Geneve Jordan who travels from New York, where she is a well known, well paid Broadway actress, to Minnesota to care for her nephew for a few weeks. Her nephew, Rich, has Down's syndrome.

So in short, it's a fun read. It won't change your life and it's not nearly as well written as her other books.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Making Crafts Mom...

Last weekend I woke up to the sound of Ella Bean humming and singing her monkey song. When I cam out to the living room to follow the sound she was all set up at the coffee table and told me "I am making crafts mom." She had decided she needed to make cards for her friends. Oh Bean, my little crafter. Just like mommy.

Menu Plan Monday

Ok, Julianna... I am going to give this a try. Here's what's cooking at our house this week:

Meatless Monday - Bean tacos/taco salad

Tuesday - Hamburger Stroganoff (Made by my mom, who is in town visiting.)

Wednesday -Spaghetti, veggies, and garlic bread

Thursday - Sweet and Sour Chicken with Rice (Trader Joe's Style)

Friday - Out for dinner with the girls, my mom, and PHILIP!! (Who flies in Friday)

Saturday - Date Night with Philip at P.F. Chang's... yummy yummy. I can hardly wait.

Sunday - Pizza? Left Overs? Who knows... My mom and Philip both leave, so it's back to being the girls and I. :(

77 Days Until We Move To Minnesota... But who's counting? While I am not eager to leave behind dear friends in North Carolina, I can't wait to be living as a family again.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Crazy Busy Week, What Else Is New? :)

Ella giving Pooh Bear a big hug. She loves her Pooh Bear and enjoys reading him stories.

Hannah wearing the skirt and shirt that I made for her. It fits perfect and is too cute. I love it!

It's been another crazy week at school. The end of the school year is approaching and that means state testing. We have 20 school days until the End of Grade (EOG) tests. My co-worker and I are working on some really exciting EOG review for our kiddos. I think it will be grand. We've got some super interesting reading passages and exciting ways to re-enforce test taking strategies. I've gota handful of kiddos who are close enough to being on grade level that they have a shot at passing the tests. I know they can do it! I know I am a teacher-nerd when I get all excited about these things, but I embrace it. :) I really do love my job.

We wrapped up our unit on the Iditarod this week. My 5th grade reading group, which happens to be all boys, was reading a series of stories about the Iditarod and they were so into it! We followed the real Iditarod race since it was going on as well. Each of my kids picked a musher to follow. They learned so much and were so exciting about reading more and more about the race. Unfortunately the musher I picked was out of the race early on with an injury, but for the most part the guys picked strong teams. This past Thursday was the Science Fair at Royal Oaks, so we did a wicked cool project about dog sleds. The boys built a dog sled out of cardboard and then we raced it outside. We were investigating how the amount of weight in the sled affects the speed of the boys pulling the sled. They got so into the project. After we did all our trials with our weights I got in the sled and had them pull me. It was very funny when I wore two butt holes in the bottom of our sled. One of my kiddos said I better check my pants to make sure they didn't have holes because that was not something he was going to do. Love these kids. I will certainly miss them when I move back to Minnesota. They are a little rough around the edges, but have such big hearts.

On the kiddos front, Hannah can now say "Ella" and it's really cute! When I was telling Ella to come inside Hannah was holding onto my leg and standing next to me saying "Ella! Ella!" She's such a cutie pie. Ella Bean is getting very excited for her birthday that is coming up soon. She is so excited to have pink cake and play with balls. I figured those are pretty simple requests. We got her the American Girl - Bitty Twins Double Stroller for her birthday. I got it at a consignment sale so it needed some cleaning and some elastic repair, but that was easy. It looks like new now. She's young enough now that she does not care if it's not brand new. I will take advantage of that as long as possible.

Tomorrow we'll be off to soccer bright and early. This will be Ella's third soccer "game" (it's really just a practice) and she seems to enjoy it. She is proud to tell people she "falls and falls and falls" but she gets back up. So that is good. The highlight of soccer is often the snacks at the end.

Exciting News.... We get to fly to Minnesota over spring break! We are so excited! Philip found a great deal on tickets so we'll be headed North. It's not a direct flight but we can deal if it means we get to go see Philip, Bode Dog, family, and friends.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Resolutions Check In Time!

1. I will run a 5K.(It's in April, perhaps I'll do more after the April run.) I got new running shoes and am walking and running more. Am I ready for the 5K in April? Nope, but I'll do it anyway. It won't kill me.

2. I will finish my parent's quilt, Aiden's quilt, Hannah's quilt, and Sean's quilt. (The last three are baby quilts, they should not take a ton of time. I just need to finish them!) Aiden's quilt is done! I started another quilt for my co-workers daughter. That gets bumped ahead of the others since it's a graduation gift.

3. I will make crafts/sewing projects using up-cycled materials and fabric I already have in my massive stash. I made a cute dress for Bean out of a t-shirt. I made the monkey skirt. I made baby doll clothing. I think I am off to a great start on this one!

4. I will make and stick to a household budget. This has been tricky, since Philip is now in Minnesota and I am here with the girls. We sort of have two households... I am trying.

5. I will pay down debt. Again, tricky with moving coming up. The pay down debt money ended up going to the "Finish the bathroom so we can sell the house" fund. We'll get back on track. Especially after we move back to Minnesota.

6. I will read at least 1 book a month. I have read Freedom, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, and Patty Jane's House of Curl. (I still need to review Cinderella Ate My Daughter, which was great.)

7. I will go on "date" nights with my husband at least every other month. (Thanks to babysitting exchanges with friends.) Read above - husband is in Minnesota. I am in North Carolina. No hot dates until June.

8. I will learn how to knit or crochet. I have knit one washcloth. It took a really really long time. I will work on more projects later.

9. I will cook more healthy meals for my family. I've made some yummy food. I try... it's hard with Philip in Minnesota. I resort to nuggets too often.

10. I will LOVE my time with my family. This has been a test since without Philip I rarely get a break, other than work. (Where I am taking care of other people's kids.) I am working on it. We've had some grand adventures. We've had grand days. We've had days that I would like to do over.

Monkey Scraps = Monkey Scrappy Twirly Skirt

I have a bag of left over monkey scraps from Ella Bean's 1st Christmas quilt and have been pondering what to do with them. Here is my first project with the monkeys. I LOVE this fabric. It's Moda Fabric, which makes it expensive fabric, but stinking cute fabric! I still have lots of scraps left. This outfit is for Hannah, but I think I can put enough together to make a skirt for Ella Bean as well. That will be a project for another night though. :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Day of Bliss...

Today was wonderful, a wonderful day of bliss. It started off with sleeping in, which is always grand. Ella Bean was up early, but she just crawled in bed and read stories while I slept. Hannah slept until 9 AM. It was fanastic! We made yummy coffee cake for breakfast and Bean helped. She is a pretty good cook. She is very fond of stirring things. We had a lazy morning of playing blocks and puzzles. Hannah likes to knock down Ella's towers. Ella is not so keen on this.

After our lazy morning he headed over to Julianna and Drew's house for the afternoon. Julianna and I and the four kiddos headed out on a walk to nearby Lake Lynn. (For you Minnesota folks it would be more "Pond Lynn".) It was a great workout pushing the kids up hills in the stroller! Once we got to Lake Lynn Grant, Ella, and Andy Bear had a stupendous time hitting the water with sticks, throwing rocks, splashing, and stepping in mushy mud. Julianna and I were discussing how sweet childhood is and how grand it is that they were having the most wonderful time with a few sticks, water, and mud. It was fun to watch. Hannah spent most of the time sitting in a tuff of grass and picking at it. After the kiddos were sufficiently muddy and messy we headed back home. We took the "off road" option, which would have been perfect without strollers. With strollers it was a wee bit interesting, but we made it all in one piece. Even Buddy the dog who tried oh so hard to get tangled in the stroller wheels. Poor Old Man Buddy.

When we got back the kids stripped down naked and frolicked about. Grant was very excited to give Ella some of his clothing to wear. He wanted her to wear PJs because they were "more comfortable" but Ella Bean opted for a Thomas shirt and shorts. The kids all played peacefully for a while, without any adult help, which was small piece of Heaven! Drew made delicious burgers for dinner and Bean even ate some. (No surprise that Hannah inhaled her burger and fries.) The girls both fell asleep on the way home.

Now we are home... it's still wonderful and warm outside. (It was at least 70 and sunny today.) It's just getting dark. Bean has informed me that it's not dark yet, so she can't go to sleep. She's up reading her story books on the sofa. Hannah is out cold.

So today is bliss... the only thing that could have made it better would be Philip being here to enjoy it with us.

Off to read with my munchkin. Then perhaps some sewing for me.

Grant is parting the Red Sea with his powers.

Andy Bear and Ella Bean splashing around.

Hannah and me. Hannah is getting so close to walking!

Hannah playing in the grass in her tutu dress.

Bear is up to no good.

Bear is fiercely independent, so naturally at 18 months he does not understand why he cannot go hiking on his own. After all, the dog is with him. (Bear is the blue speck, Buddy is right behind him.)

Grant is having fun in the mud... oh lovely mud!

Bean enjoying herself at the lake!

Grant and Bean throwing sticks and rocks in the water.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quilting Time...

I have not had time to work on a ton of quilts, but I am carving out time to work on one for my co-workers daughter, Sarah. She is graduating from high school this year. I am making a quilt with soccer fabric and her soccer jerseys. It's been a fun diversion now that Philip is gone. It's a reward to get the house cleaned quickly at night so that I can quilt!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Good Bye Stewart

Today I drove Stewart for the last time. Our dear 1994 Honda Accord with 260,000 miles. Stewart was purchased by the Klaber family in 1994, when I was 10-years-old. He was the first car I drove when I got my license at 16-years-old. I drove a HUGE car pool for swimming in Stewart. When I was a senior in high school one of his tires had a slow leak, but instead of fixing it I kept the air compresser in the trunk and filled it back up at the end of each school day. In college I celebrated when he hit 200,000 miles. It was a big day for Stewart. He was the get away car when Philip and I got married. We drove Stewart down to North Carolina, with Chewie the hamster in the passenger seat. He was a good car for us. He safety transported our girls for several years.

Last week we brought him in for a check up before Philip heads back to Minnesota and found his repairs cost more than he's worth. We bought a family mini van this weekend to replace Stewart. Luckily our trusted Honda mechanic, Eric, wanted to buy Stewart. He can tinker with him and get him running ok. Eric was looking for a "Fishing Car" and looks forward to driving him. Naturally we had all the records because my mom keeps very good records and as do I. Eric was very impressed. I know it's silly, because Stewart is a car, but I am happy he's with with a Honda mechanic who will take good care of him. He's an old man car. He needs a good owner. We'll miss you Stewart!

Philip, John and I with Stewart when he hit 200,000 miles.

The odometer hitting 200,000 miles.

Philip and I on our wedding day. Getting ready to drive away in Stewart. Some folks have limos or horses. We had Stewart. A good car.