Friday, March 27, 2009

{Dirty Bingo}

Every month the MOMS Club that I'm a member of has what we call "MNO", or Mom's Night Out. We do all kinds of things on these nights, including scavenger hunts around town, movie nights, cooking nights, and other fun activities. Last night we played Dirty Bingo!

What is Dirty Bingo? In a nutshell, it's regular bingo but with a "dirty" method of claiming prizes for winning. Everyone brings a gift - and anything goes - and leaves with a gift. Here's how it gets dirty. When you win, you can either choose a gift that has yet to be opened OR you can steal a gift from someone else. If you steal, then that person gets to claim something new, and so on. Sometimes it takes a long time to wrap up the stealing and move on to the next game!

These three gals and three others who you can't see in this shot were at my table and kept me rolling with laughter the whole night. My stomach literally hurt from the belly laughs! Very early in the game, Brittny had to make a choice: the obvious wine or the surprise in the Pampers box. Hmmm . . . wine it is! Too bad she didn't hang on to it very long.
What in the world could have Rachel busting a gut like this? Cock Soup! Yep, it was "cock" flavored soup - yum! :) Where do people find these things? Fortunately, it came with a nice ceramic drink dispenser perfect for having a group of friends over for drinks during the summer. Rachel really liked this gift, but of course it was in and out of her hands lightening fast.

One of the funnier gifts was a "love" box. It was filled with all kinds of items to spice up a certain area of your life: a Love Meter, Now & Later Mints, and a variety of other novelties. Based on Laurie's "delicate" condition, I'm thinking she doesn't exactly need this assortment right now. But she was a good sport and added a plastic firefighter "outfit" (and that's the best family-friendly way I can describe it) that she won at a prior MOMS event to the box. Sadly, the box did end up staying with her.
My gal Anna was thrilled to open up this handmade shrug made by our own Sara B. (middle gal in the first pic above). She rocked it, too! But like all the really nice items, lots of others wanted that shrug, too. It was one of the more sought after items of the night.
As the evening wore on, it became more and more obvious that I wasn't going to be shouting "Bingo" anytime soon. I didn't win a single game all night while others won numerous times and got to participate in getting "dirty". I swear that I had a card with numbers that simply weren't in the Bingo ball! It got to the point where there were five of us who hadn't won yet, so we decided that everyone else would sit out until we all won. I was the last to win, and I only won because I played two cards instead of one and I begged, begged, them to keep calling numbers until I had a legitimate Bingo. It was sad.
However, because I hadn't won a thing yet, I had my pick of all the prizes! I knew we were going to play one last round with everyone and that whatever I picked would likely be stolen, so I figured I would choose something really nice, let it get stolen, and then pick something else really nice to keep. Once something is stolen once during a round it can't be stolen again, so I thought this was a good strategy.
I chose a really cute, reversible bag. It's smaller than the bags I normally carry, and with the baby due soon I know I won't be using little bags for some time. But I figured it would be stolen and I'd just pick something else equally awesome.
Well, as it turned out, Anna won the last game. She already had possession of the shrug, so she didn't steal anything. That meant everyone kept what they had! So I came home with this adorable bag!
I'm debating keeping it for the future because I really do like it a lot. But I know of a few people who would also really like it, so it might become a gift. Who knows! Any takers?
Thanks, friends, for getting dirty with me! You all are the best!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

{Random Stuff}

There's no consistent theme to this post, just lots of random things that have been going on this week. Here goes!

Our backyard makeover continues! On Saturday Cory spent all day constructing a picket fence around what will become our garden. He dug the holes, leveled the ground, and even created a gate all on his own. This was really a trial run to see if he could tackle building the fence for the dogs, and we both agree that he did an awesome job. His muscles are screaming, but the workout was well worth the results.

Now this is something you don't see every day: a steam tractor! While Cory was working on the fence he heard the tractor coming our way down Colorado St. He yelled for me to grab the camera and we stood along the road to watch the old Case tractor slooooowly make it's way past our house and down the street. I have no idea why a steam tractor came through Marion, but it was pretty cool!
Yesterday Sasha's class had another field trip. This time they went to Giant for a tour and lesson in nutrition. I wasn't sure what to expect, but let me tell you, those folks know how to give a tour! All the kids got hats to wear and they marched from section to section doing things like clapping, waving their arms like trees, and swimming. At each section they learned about different foods and healthy habits. They started in the toothbrush aisle because the first thing you should do in the morning is brush your teeth. They pretended to brush while singing the ABC song since that's how long you should brush. A few patrons stopped to watch - it was cute!

We made our way through cereals, fruits and veggies, seafood, poultry, dairy, and ended at the bakery for a cookie. The kids ate something at each stop, so they were full! At the fruit section Sasha actually answered a question that no one else was able to answer: Which fruit is grown in all 50 states? Strawberries!
Last night Sasha had dance class so Clara and I headed to Marshalls to look for dresses. I found a couple dresses for them, but I also found these adorable dance outfits. Check out the bling on the tutus! Well, it's kind of hard to see it in this pic, but the tutus are covered in crystals that sparkle like crazy. I'm afraid I may have to take Sasha's back, though, because it's a bit snug and the tutu stands straight up instead of going out. I'll have to find her a replacement or she'll be a sad girl.
This morning Sasha had a milestone moment: she registered for Kindergarten! While I did paperwork with her principal, Sasha took a "test" with one of the reading teachers in the district. Of course, she passed with flying colors! She met with a nurse and was told she didn't need any shots, which I already knew (whew!), and she also met with a librarian and got her own library card. But the highlight of the morning? She got to go on a SCHOOL BUS!!! This girl has been wanting to ride a bus for soooo long, and she was thrilled to actually sit inside of one. My little girl is growing up!
More to come later! Try to enjoy the rain if you're getting any - we seriously need it and more.

Friday, March 20, 2009

{The Lumberjack}

Half-dead trees aren't that pretty. They aren't very functional. They aren't very safe in a backyard where children play.

Ever since we bought this house seven years ago, we have had a half-dead tree in our backyard. It's actually the only tree on our property, so go figure that it had to be half-dead. Every summer about half of the branches would produce leaves and nuts and the other half would remain barren and ugly. Eventually the tree would drop its nuts and we'd have to clean them all up so they didn't damage the lawn mower and so we wouldn't turn an ankle if we stepped on one. Birds don't care so much if a tree is healthy or not, and they would perch there and poop on the girls' sandbox and on Cory's truck which is usually parked next to the tree in front of our shed. Overall, this tree has been a bigger pain in the rear than it has been a provider of shade, beauty, and home to animals. The tree simply had to go.

Yesterday evening my in-laws came over and my father-in-law transformed himself from a dairy farmer into a lumberjack. He came complete with a plaid flannel shirt, heavy-duty gloves, and a gas-powered chainsaw - what a man! Everyone gathered in the backyard to watch the half-dead tree make it's final transition to tree heaven. Here's what it looked like seconds before saying goodbye to this world: Ed fired up his chainsaw and began making the first cut, careful to cut the tree so it would fall in the correct direction. Apparantly this is important when cutting down a tree that is really tall and close to homes.
The second cut: making the watermelon wedge.

TIM - BERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Man standing next to his kill. Doesn't he look proud of himself? I can hear the inner Tool-Man Tim "argh, argh, argh" wanting to explode from his chest.
Now it's time for clean-up. As Ed sawed off the skinnier branches and cut apart the tree, Cory gathered up the branches and loaded them into his truck. The plan was to put all the burn wood into Cory's truck and all the big pieces that will be good firewood into the in-law's truck. That didn't happen. There was WAY too much little stuff and it took both trucks to load it all up. We'll have to get the firewood over to the in-law's house another time.

Ed left a nice sized stump for us so we can do *something* with it. Will it become a seat? Will it hold a watering can full of flowers? Who knows. Cory always comes up with creative plans for things like this so I'll leave it up to him.

The girls helped gather up little sticks, too, and they thought the watermelon wedge was pretty cool. Watch out for splinters!
It's good to have family members who can help tackle these jobs around the house. Thanks, Ed! And goodbye, tree! Enjoy a leafy life in tree heaven.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

{Birthdays, Leprechauns, and Fairies - Oh My!}

I've been meaning to blog for a few days now, but I wanted to wait until I had all of my pics from the weekend. THANK YOU to Liz and Katy for helping me out with that! :)

Anyway, this weekend was a birthday weekend, and it was fun! Sasha's friend Riley turned 5 this month. Her family recently went to Disney World and she wanted to recreate her Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience with her friends. So all the girls were told to come dressed as their favorite princess for Riley's Princess Tea Party. They decorated crowns, had their hair, makeup, and nails done, drank "tea" from real teacups, and played games. From what I hear, they had a ball! (No pun intended!) The birthday girl is the third from the left - so pretty!
Sasha is 110% girl, so this party was right up her alley. I can only imagine how regal she felt as she had her hair pulled up into a princess bun and had glitter sprayed all over it. When we got home from the party, she went straight to the bathroom and spent several minutes just staring at herself. She really did look beautiful with her hair up and makeup on - but at the same time she looked older. Sigh. I knew Cory and I were in trouble when she went through her goody bag and pulled out all kinds of makeup; she and Clara have been putting it on every day since, sometimes multiple times each day. This is what we have to look forward to!On Sunday evening we celebrated my mil's birthday (I won't tell her age out of respect for the old). We had a really nice meal at my sil Megan's home. Non-farming people probably won't "get" this, but we had steaks from a cow on their farm that Megan's husband, Jason, and Cory had to put down recently. Yes, you can eat dairy cows! It was quite tasty and very tender meat. But I'm rambling about the cow instead of my mil.

Diana was the princess this night and she wore her crown well. Need I say more?
Now on to the Leprechauns. When I picked Sasha up from school on Monday I quickly noticed little green feet throughout the halls. I wasn't sure what they were for, but I soon figured it out. All the parents line up in one hallway to pick up our kids. Once we were all there, we heard the entire class come marching around the corner wearing shamrock hats and chanting something (I can't remember what). They had been on a Leprechaun hunt, and the footprints were leading the way! Apparantly they found a pot of gold. The gold was actually vanilla wafers, and each kid got a bag full of them. It was so cute! Her teachers are the sweetest, most creative people! I was kicking myself, though, because I had JUST taken my camera out of my purse before I left to charge the batteries. Ugh! The following is the best shot I could get once we were home.Not to exclude Clara, here's a shot of my little Leprechaun yesterday on St. Paddy's Day. She's too darn adorable!Finally, let's talk fairies! Sasha lost her second tooth on Monday night while eating dinner! She took a big bite of her cheeseburger and out it fell, right onto the kitchen table. She was super excited and keeps asking us if we're proud of her. Of course we are! She's just getting to be such a big girl - losing teeth and getting makeovers are sure signs of her transition from little girl to school-aged girl. To make this event even more cool, Perdy the puppy also lost her second tooth. She dropped it on the floor for me when I noticed she was chewing something odd. I have no idea if Jasmine has lost any yet, but she probably is swallowing them like a normal dog if she is. I guess Perdy likes us to know that she's getting older, too.

So we put Sasha's tooth and Perdy's tooth together for the tooth fairy. Sure enough, the good fairy visited Sasha's room to collect the teeth, leave a little note, and give Sasha two dollars and Perdy two biscuits. Perdy was nice and shared one with Jasmine. What a good girl.

To end on a REALLY good note, we're finally getting a fence! We had the consult and estimate done yesterday and we're ready to roll. So in two or three weeks the pups will FINALLY be able to stay outside all day if they want to, and I will no longer have to take them out umpteen times a day. Yay! Good things are coming!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

{Field Trip}

Today Sasha's preschool class went on a field trip to Step By Step dance studio. A notice was sent home last week about the trip and stated that siblings could not come. However, since we missed the last few days of school last week, I didn't get that notice until Monday. Let me tell you, it is hard to find someone who is home during the day and can care for your child on short notice! I thought I would have to miss the field trip because no one I called was available.

Thank goodness for the MOMS Club! Last night I sent out an email begging for help. Wouldn't you know it, three people offered to take Clara so I could be with Sasha. These ladies are absolutely wonderful people; how blessed I am to be a part of this club and to call so many awesome moms my friends!

So Clara ended up going with my friend Sara to the roller rink for their toddler play time. Thank you Sara SO MUCH for taking her with you! I'm sure she had a great time and I'm grateful that I could share this field trip with Sasha.

Sasha has been taking dance lessons at a different dance studio for three years, so nothing they did today was new for her. But she still had a great time! The teachers played lots of cute songs and had the kids do various movements and activities. The kids have done a great job learning how to stand in line and wait their turn. (My apologies to the darling who just happens to be scratching her nose in this picture.)In this shot, Sasha is balancing a bean bag on her head while marching across the room. Some of the kids were hilarious during this activity - they would either be super serious or would run to the other side as fast as they could. Sasha simply did exactly what she was told and marched like a good little soldier.
At the end of their dance time, they all got together and gave each other hugs. It was adorable! I missed the hugs, but managed to get this cute shot of Sasha and two of her friends looking happy. (My apologies to the dear girl digging in her shorts. Hey, it happens!)
I love taking pictures of Sasha with her classmates because I know how fun it will be to look back at them when she's older. I have a few pictures of my preschool class from way back when, and it's neat to see how people have changed over the years. I'm sure Sasha will treasure these captured moments, too.
We're off for Sasha's real dance class soon - what a day!

Friday, March 6, 2009

{House of Sickies}

Ugh. The relative good health we enjoyed in February has left us and we are back to the wrath of illness that afflicted us in January. Blech.

Sasha started to show signs of having a cold on Sunday, and when I picked her up from school on Monday her teacher told me she was coughing really badly. The girl went downhill fast. All week she has been "barking" like a seal uncontrollably. Even the prescription codeine cough syrup I got her in January hasn't helped much. She coughs non-stop, sometimes to the point of - TMI warning - throwing up mucos. I know it's good that she gets it out of her chest, but the poor thing is miserable.

To make matters worse, Wednesday was picture day for her class at school. How do I not take her to picture day? Those class pictures are priceless, especially ten years from now! I told her teacher I would bring her in the morning, have her picture taken, and take her home. Thankfully, her nose and eyes weren't all red. She actually looked really cute, so I'm hoping the pictures turn out nice.

Speaking of red eyes, Clara has come down with a case of pink eye - in both eyes. She wasn't herself Wednesday night, and Thursday morning her right eye was veiny and pink. I kept her home from school, and by the afternoon both eyes were gross. I tried to get a picture but I got too close to her and it's a bit blurry.

I tried to make an appointment for both girls, but the doctor's office is crazy, CRAZY, busy right now. The nurse told me they don't have any openings at all for the next two days! Thank heavens Dr. Colli was willing to call in a prescription for Clara and I was able to pick it up last night. I was told that if Sasha starts to wheeze or has trouble breathing I should take her to a walk-in clinic or the ER. They simply can't see her at the peds office. Great.

So after a night of being woken up SEVEN times by the girls for various reasons, I was hoping last night would be better. Nope. Clara got up once an hour until 3 o'clock. She didn't "want" to sleep. She had to pee and wanted help (not that she needs it, she's just stubborn about it at night). And the best reason: Sasha threw up in bed. Except that she didn't. Cory and I both got up to investigate, and that was the best invisible vomit we ever "didn't" see. Girlfriend just didn't want to go to sleep and she was making sure Mom and Dad didn't sleep, either. Thanks, babe.

You would think that the girls would be tired and sleep in today. I wasn't planning on taking Sasha to school today, so I didn't set my alarm. I was counting on an extra hour of sleep. Wrong again. The little monsters decided to get up earlier than normal and climb in bed with me! UGH! Cory came upstairs and put a pillow under Clara's head since she was lying at the foot of the bed. She fell asleep almost immediately. The booger. Sasha and I headed downstairs, and Clara slept like this until almost 10 o'clock.

In puppyland, things are always exciting. Perdy lost her first tooth on Wednesday! She kept chewing on something, and Sasha opened her mouth and pulled out a molar! (I think we have a future small animal vet on our hands.) Of course, the Tooth Fairy came for her tooth and left her two biscuits. Perdy was nice and shared one with Jasmine.

Today the pups decided to make my life even crazier than normal. I had washed the girls' sheets, and in the time it took me to go upstairs, make their beds, and put away some clothes and books this is what they did.
Lesson learned. Don't ever leave a box of tissues in puppy range. This photo doesn't even show all the mayhem that I discovered when I got downstairs. The couch was covered in tissue shreds as was the floor all around it. Good daughters that they are, Sasha and Clara scooped it all up while I got the vacuum for the itty bitty pieces. I hope the critters had a good time destroying the box, because they spent the next half hour in their crate. And they will never find another box of tissues unattended again.

Monday, March 2, 2009

{February in Review}

February was a good month. We had all been sick for the majority of January, so I almost did a cheer when I flipped the calendar page to a new month. Since I didn't have this blog running in time to share all the neat things that happened over the last 28 days, I'll do a month in review instead. This could get long (and picture heavy), but here we go!

February was a month full of fun. We kicked off the month with a Superbowl party at our house. I made all of Cory's favorite finger foods and then some, and we all chowed until our guts hurt. I couldn't tell you much about the game itself other than certain people were quite pleased at the outcome and others left in a huff. That's the way it goes!
I got to enjoy a rare treat during that first week of February as well - I went out to dinner with some friends! My girlfriends Mariah and Theresa and I met at a local restaraunt, Sollenberger's, and had a really good time together. The food was just ok, but our conversation was totally enjoyable. We'd love to do this once a month, but we'll see how that goes.
Old Man Winter took it easy on us for a day or two and we took full advantage of the nice weather. The girls haven't ridden their bikes in months, so that's exactly what we did on this gorgeous Saturday morning.

Perdy and Jasmine played tirelessly in the backyard while the girls rode their bikes and played on the swingset. They definitely are warm weather dogs, so they were in their glory as they ran and tussled with each other in the heat of the sun. I think they would have stayed outside all day if we had let them. I can hardly wait until we get the fence installed so they can do just that!
At the beginning of the month, Sasha started to complain that her tooth hurt. She was eating an apple the second time she mentioned it and I thought she just had a piece of skin wedged between her teeth. Nope! When I looked in her mouth I saw that one of her bottom teeth was wiggly! This was not what I was expecting - not yet! I was really glad that I had bought a fairy door for their room for Christmas so that the Tooth Fairy had a way to get inside their bedroom.
A week later on February 11th, Sasha lost her first tooth while at school. She was so excited, and so was I! It's hard to believe that she's old enough to start losing teeth, but it's happening!

It's hard to get a good picture of a missing bottom tooth, so I apologize for this funky angle.
I had no idea how much a tooth goes for these days, so I polled my friends for their opinions. It turns out that pretty much anything goes with the Tooth Fairy. Some of my friends are quite creative with that fairy and her gifts! Sasha's Tooth Fairy ended up giving her $5 for her first tooth, plus she left her a little note that was rolled up and tied with a ribbon. At four in the morning Sasha woke Cory and I up to let us know that the Tooth Fairy had been there. Now her other bottom front tooth is loose, so I imagine the Tooth Fairy is going to be visiting her again soon.

Valentine's Day was awesome this year. I decided that we would have chocolate with every meal of the day, starting with pink heart shaped pancakes with chocolate chips. The girls love pancakes and got a kick out of these special ones.For lunch I made a fantastic sandwich - I HIGHLY recommend it! I got a crusty loaf of bread and thinly sliced it. Then I spread mascarpone cheese on each slice and filled the sandwiches with sliced strawberries and chocolate chips. I grilled them like a grilled cheese sandwich, but Mama Mia, these were over-the-top delicious!The dance studio where both Sasha and Clara take lessons offered incredibly cheap babysitting for Valentine's Day evening as a dance team fundraiser, so Cory and I made reservations for Nick's Airport Inn and dropped the girls off at the studio. We had a wonderful dinner of steak and crab cakes. We were too stuffed to order dessert, so we then headed to the Valley Mall and got a blizzard at DQ. Not real classy, but it was tasty enough and fulfilled our need for chocolate!

When we got home we decided to take a few pictures of the family. Cory got to feel the love of his girls.

One of the cool, fun things about being a Tastefully Simple consultant is that we get to go to conferences and connect with awesome people while learning and celebrating together. This year the regional Tastefully Simple On Tour (TSOT) that I attended was in Richmond, VA. It was a great conference and I got to cheer on many team members as they were recognized on stage for various accomplishments. My sister, Jen, was a rock star that weekend. She was on stage quite a bit and the article she wrote for her team newsletter on having a wealth mindset instead of a recession mindset was read at all 15 TSOT locations. You ROCK, Jen!

Here's a picture of the ladies on our team who attended the Richmond TSOT. I'm one of the few who didn't wear a team shirt because my big preggo belly wouldn't fit into one! It was incredible to see so many of these gals again and to meet many team members for the first time. What an inspiring group of businesswomen! I can hardly wait for Nationals in August!

Finally, I took the girls down to southern Maryland to celebrate my nephew Aidan's seventh birthday. He's SEVEN! Wow! On Friday night we all went to a Japanese restaraunt and had a wonderful meal. Our chef was a lot of fun and really catered to the kids. Sasha was a champ at using her chopsticks!
Then on Saturday we went to Solomon's Island to the Marine Museum for the birthday party. The kids had a blast making fossils, learning about sharks and dinosaurs, and watching the various stages of stingrays as they grow in their eggs.Aidan had a big group of school friends there and they all seemed to have a great time. I think all the boys were impressed by the Mario cake - it was really nice!

Well those are the highlights of Febraury. Like I said, we did a lot and had a fun month that was largely illness-free. Yay! It seemed like the month flew by, and I hope March does, too. I'm ready for spring!

{I'm FINALLY on Blogger!}

My goodness has the creation of this blog been a headache! I've been trying to get my new blog up and running for about two months - literally. The problem? My header kept showing up with a funky color cast on it. It looked like someone threw a blue-tinged bucket of mud all over it - ew! And because I'm a perfectionist when it comes to certain things, I refused to start posting until the header met with my satisfaction.

Thankfully, my friend Tina had an epiphany this weekend and told me a little trick about rgb color versus web color in PhotoShop. I'll spare you the details, but that trick worked! All these weeks of pulling my hair out over this header and it all boiled down to clicking a different color option. Thanks, Tina! I never, ever would have figured it out myself!

Because I've put off posting anything for quite some time, I'll try to do a February in review post later tonight. Lots happened last month, so it might be a doozy!

Oh . . . and welcome to my NEW blog!