Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Endings & Beginnings

We've been busy. As I'm sure you have, too. We're still hosting Christmas company and staying in our jammies way too late. Santa brought us a Wii and the first words out of my 8 year old's mouth every morning are, "can we play the Wii?" There are still a ton of baked goodies and Jesus' birthday cake leftover. There's a few more pieces of turkey in the fridge from our big day after Christmas dinner. The house is still a mess. The laundry is multiplying by the minute. There is still snow on the ground and the decorations are still up.

As much as I'm itching to clean and wash and put away and start anew I know I will miss the excess that makes my home so festive. We'll be back in school and in our routines and the snow won't glisten from Christmas lights anymore. It will be my first winter where there's really a winter. I have a long list of projects for our new home that have been waiting patiently for me. Painting and decorating. Changing light fixtures and organizing. What a busy time of year. I'm already thinking of what I'll do differently next Christmas.

I'm hoping and praying that 2010 is a great year. No major car troubles (bah humbug), healing of my husband's rotator cuff, unpacking the rest of the house and maybe a vacation or two back home. What are your hopes for the new year?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Almost Done

The stockings are hung. The presents are wrapped. The house is (mostly) clean. I've been baking all day in preparation of wowing my neighbors with my wicked baking skills. Oh, except for that "high altitude" thing which equals flat cookies. My mom flies in tomorrow from San Diego and my hubby's family flies in from Cincinnati on Saturday. All that's left is wrapping up the kids' Christmas jammies, making buckeyes and a bit of grocery shopping and we'll be ready for Christmas!! This is my favorite time of year as I remember the magical times during my childhood and try to make the days memorable for my kids.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Teachers Gifts

Each year I'm a bit stumped as to what to give those who take care of my kids. I think all the apple themed teacher things are super cute but I know other moms think so too. I'm guessing that after the first year of teaching, teachers have hit their limit of apple/ruler/chalkboard resin collectibles. With the economy being as it is, our car deciding that it's needed mulitple major surgeries over the last couple of months and my kids needing actual winter clothes I decided to be inventive (read: cheap). And I went with the edible thing so that I'm not contributing to the never ending pile of "stuff" that we all seem to accumulate.

Here's what the kids are giving out: a Christmas mug with a packet of cocoa, chocolate dipped spoons with crushed candycanes and candied almonds. Wanna see how I did it? Lucky you I took pictures.

First thing: get all your stuff together. A bunch of almonds from the bulk bins at your local whole foods or equivalent. The recipe calls for unblanched but I just get the regular roasted, UNsalted kind. Sugar. An egg (I like to get the cage free kind because I'm all sensitive to the chicken's happiness and whatnot). Cinnamon. Ground cloves. Nutmeg.

Set your oven to 300ºF.

While your oven is warming up, separate your egg cause you're only going to use the white. As best as you can, get a Tablespoon of that egg white and plop it in a bowl. Get 2 cups of your almonds and dump them in there and stir, stir, stir until your almonds are all shiny and covered in egg goop.

Ya know, I 'fixed' this picture at least three times but it's not cooperating, so if you want, you can tilt your head to the side to make it look right. Next, add 1/4 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg and 1/4 tsp of cloves and stir it all together.

Pour your dry mixed ingredients over your shiny almonds and stir well, making sure every little nut is covered in sugary goodness.

Dump them onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I like the Silpat because it means less cleanup for me!), making sure that they're in a single layer.

Pop them in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

While you're waiting, you can either go on to the next part of the recipe or do something way more fun like facebook, read an issue of People, or read my blog. Just a suggestion.

When they're done, let them cool if you can resist and then store the ones you're not giving away in an airtight container.

Here's how we're going to make the spoons. They're super easy. Easy peasy.

You'll need a microwave safe glass container, plastic spoons (or metal if you have money to spare), baker's chocolate and/or chocolate chips and a box of candy canes.

Take out a couple of candy canes and unwrap them. Stick em in a ziplock bag. Get a rolling pin, meat tenderizer, mallet, Wii controller, whatever, just something to whack the heck out of the canes. Smash them to bits, but not too much or you'll just have candy cane powder. You still want the pieces to look pretty when you're done. Pour your candy pieces into a bowl and have a spoon ready to sprinkle the pieces onto your chocolate spoons.

Get another cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and line it with wax paper.

Put your chocolate in your glass bowl and microwave at 50 power for a minute. Take it out and stir it. Yes, even if it's not even close to melting, stir it anyway. Stick it back in the microwave for 30 second intervals stirring each time. The chocolate will NOT look ready even when it is. Just stir stir stir until it is smooth and glossy. If you overcook it, throw it out. It's done. You need more chocolate. Toss a piece into your mouth for good measure.

Dip a spoon into the chocolate lava and use an extra spoon to get some onto the neck of the spoon. Tap off the extra and move it over to the candy cane bowl, sprinkling the broken mixture onto the wet chocolate. Put your spoon onto the cookie sheet and move on to the next one.

Here's what mine looked like when I was done:

Stick the whole pan of spoons in the fridge for 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Let them come to room temperature before you wrap them up.

Here's the mugs, the cello wrappers for the almonds and my box of cocoa before assembly.

I took each spoon and wrapped it in plastic wrap, tied off with metallic green curling ribbon. The candied almonds are neatly wrapped in their bags and everything fits nicely in the mugs!
Happy gift giving! If you decide to borrow my idea, will you let me know? Wonder if my kids teachers read my blog...

Sunday, December 13, 2009


My awesome husband is on a crazy diet. Someone asked if it was his earlobes he needed to lose weight in, because she couldn't see where it could possibly come from. Funny thing about the military: they want you to like, be in top notch shape and stuff. Psh. So my dh has until the end of the year to do his official weigh in to show his boss that he is x pounds or less. Could there be a worse time to try and lose weight? All the delicious goodness that is abound makes it hard to resist. He's been doing GREAT! Me? Notsomuch. When Bill diets, I end up not eating. What's the point of cooking for just myself? My kids don't eat real food, so they don't even come up in the equation.

Ok, so I eat. Just not well. A trip to Sprouts resulted in my bringing home a bag of chocolate cappuccino covered almonds. A handful of those and a cup of coffee makes for a great breakfast. Hummus and pita chips? Add a Pepsi to it and there's my lunch. I managed to drag something out of the freezer and heat it up for dinner, or find the need to go shopping and stop by McDonald's for my nourishment. It's not that I don't like to cook. I'm lazy. Why go through the trouble of cleaning, prepping, cooking, eating and cleaning if I don't have to? Months that Bill is deployed I live on cereal and frozen dinners.

We weighed ourselves. He, of course, did so to see where he was in his dieting progress. I did it just because I was curious. He's been disciplined and eating nothing but lean meats, tons of veggies and some fruit. Drinking water and black coffee. I've been drinking sodas and creamed coffee, chocolate and nachos. We lost ten pounds. Each. A calorie is a calorie. I just didn't eat enough junk to put weight on. He ate a ton and burned it off.

What I've been eating is way more fun, but for some reason he's had a lot more energy. I can't wait until he's off this diet and I can start eating like a normal person again.

Monday, December 07, 2009


It's too cold to blog.

My San Diego blood isn't thick enough for this craziness.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Get Away

We went home for Thanksgiving. Home to San Diego. And we drove. That should preface our funny, wonderful vacation. We pulled Trey out of school two hours early to get a bit of a head start down to Albuquerque. Bill found an Air Base down there which always means cheaper hotel rates. We finally found an open gate to get into the base around midnight and as the kids slept in the car, Bill ran in to check in and get keys to this very unassuming looking military hotel. When he finally came back to the car, he told me that we had to drive to our house. Uh...the hotel is right in front of us. We weren't staying there. We were staying in a house. I'm still confused. We're paying for military lodging, right? Yes, but they've converted the older base houses into temporary lodging facilities and we'd be bunking in a two bedroom HOUSE for the night. Well, dangit, why wasn't this an option when we got to Denver??

Sure enough, the front door lock had been replaced by a card reader and we walked into a typical two bedroom 1950s military home, fully furnished, linened and stocked with dishes. It even had a full size washer and dryer. Too bad I was so tired that I didn't really care. Bill cared though. He cared enough to rebook our room for the route back.

We got on the road Saturday morning around 10 and finally arrived at my mom's just before 11pm. The 40 is a very boring drive that I'd forgotten about since we hadn't driven that route in twelve years. Even with the DVD player, the kids were bored. I was bored. Bill was bored. Our car was bored. We put "Cars" in the DVD player to compare the movie to where we were driving. Yeah, I chalk that up to being educational. I'll take what I can get.

While back home we caught up with friends that were terribly missed these last four plus months. We hit Knott's Berry Farm during their Veteran Appreciation Month (i.e. free and deeply discounted tickets...although they sure made up for it when we paid $52 for burgers and fries for a family of four--OUCH!). We hit the beach. To make it a true So Cal beach time, we went to Rubios for fish tacos, er...or Bill got the fish tacos, I got chicken, and took it to the beach to eat with the salty air complimenting our Southern California meal. The kids searched for seashells while playing in the water. It was so awesome to be home during the freakishly hot heat wave that hit. I think I finally thawed out from all of this cold Denver weather.

And then there was Thanksgiving.

For the last ten years or so we've had a tradition of having dinner at my mom's best friend's place. They've been friends since the early 60s and our families have all grown up and are growing up together albeit here and there and mostly on holidays. The other two kids who were at Thanksgiving this year are Trey and Leah's BEST FRIENDS on Thanksgiving. But only on Thanksgiving. During the rest of the year, they're remembered and are actually more like cousins, but for that one day they are the bees knees. They needed no warming up time, small talk or mindless chit chat before they all ran to the back bedroom and started to play. After about a half an hour I hear Trey cry. Not just a cry like his feelings are hurt but a hyperventilating, oh-my-Lord-I'm-going-to-die cry. Well, Trey tends to be slightly dramatic so I didn't freak out when he started. He ran out of the room holding his mouth. I deduced that he'd somehow been hit. I pulled him into the bathroom and shoved a wad of toilet paper up to his lips to get him to calm down and catch the bloody spit that was starting to accumulate. And then I saw it. Or rather, didn't see it. He'd lost a tooth. Hooray!!! The only way this kid has ever lost a tooth is if someone else extracts it. I'd been nagging him for two months to get that tooth out. Turns out, the other little lady who is just four, was involved in a three person pillow fight with Trey and she accidentally knocked it out. Now, where was the tooth?

I went back in the room to three frightened faces, explained what happened and said, "I have a game for all of you to play!! We're going to play, 'let's find Trey's tooth!'" Yay! They were excited to look for this treasure and I hadn't even offered a prize. Trey was quite the stud for earning a war wound so early in the day.

Trey's Jack-O-lantern smile

Besides three generations of family friends getting together, another great thing about this home is that they have horses. And chickens. And cats. And dogs. At one time there were ducks and a goat, but the coyotes took care of the ducks and the goat went to live with a family that didn't care that he head butt EVERYTHING. The chickens were the main attraction this year since there's a new rooster in the coop named, Favio. Favio the rooster. He's boisterous and loud and thinks pretty highly of himself. Trey got to pet Favio and try to catch the hens while in the coop with my mom's friend. As I walked twenty steps away to get a picture of Leah on Kahlua the Horse, I hear Trey crying again. What now?! Favio attacked Trey. Trey wasn't hurt, just stunned that a rooster tried to eat him.

I proclaimed it a great day for a couple of reasons. 1) To distract Trey from any more crying. 2) It WAS a pretty memorable thing. I mean, who loses a tooth AND gets attacked by poultry in one day? If he was old enough to write a "What I did on my Thanksgiving vacation" I think he'd get an A.

There are two boys at this table. Really.

Two days later, after a week of wearing flip flops and capris it was time to pack up and head back to the Rockies. As soon as that Freak Heat Wave hit, it left again and was replaced by the most torrential rain I've seen in San Diego in probably ten years. It came down in sheets. After goodbyes and a drenched Bill got in the car, we started out the driveway. With rain pouring down the windshield, Bill turned on the wipers. And then one of them came loose and flapped back and forth along the window. We pulled over immediately and my poor hubby braved the rain again to reattach it. And then it happened again. And again. And then both sides came off. It was so random and such bad timing that it was funny. I mean, it could have been sprinkling but no. The streets were starting to flood and the gutters were white and foamy with so much rain pouring into them. Bill pulled into a Wal Mart parking lot after lots of praying for no cars to come near us and Bill drove almost blindly along the drenched roads. Two new blades (even though we just replaced them two weeks ago) and two new Chargers jerseys later and we were finally on our way to New Mexico. He'd wanted to leave at 6am that morning. I told him he was smoking crack and I'd rather leave at 8. With all of the excitement, we didn't get going until 10. ::sigh::

We hit Flagstaff just around the time we needed a hit of Starbucks and pulled over. By the time our coffee was ready and it was time to get back on the road, it started to snow. A ton. It blew in horizontally, towards us. For all non-previous-snow-driving people, it was like the ride Star Tours where you hit warp speed and the stars start stringing by you. Oh yeah, who was driving at this point? Me. The non-previous-snow-driving person. We got to our hotel/house around midnight again and FINALLY made it back to our house Sunday night.

What a funny, unpredictable, wonderful Thanksgiving. Oh what will this Christmas hold? I'm almost afraid to ask.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
There is much to be thankful for.

I'll be back to update early next week.
Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cars: the necessary evil

Ever have one of those days? Yeah, I'm having one of those months. The weather is changing. For the first time in forever I needed to address the weather and my car. My tires were, um, bald. Not receeding, or wearing out, but treadless. Fortunately, we'd been saving and we bought four very expensive tires for my "free" car. Not that we're snobby about tires, only that my car is huge and therefore requires huge, expensive tires. Cha-ching.

On our trip up the mountain to move out to this snow laden state, our check engine light came on. Hmph. Our battery light had already been on, for about a month while we were back home. We had a few people check it out with no explanation. Well, I have my own explanation: It's a FORD! An evil Ford. Anyway, we made it up and over the Continental Divide without problem and after we'd settled a bit in our home I decided it was probably time to figure out why the engine light was still on.

Mistake #1. We took it to a Ford dealership. My superior thinking was that they'd be able to figure everything out, including why the battery light was on for no apparent reason. After about 8 hours of our car in their care we decided to give them a call. "Oh yeah, we were just about to call you." Rrrright. After going over everything that was apparently wrong with our free car, they wanted $2800.00 to fix it. *blink blink* Um. No. We decided to just pay for them to do the oil change. Our bill? $136.00. Again with the blinking. Apparently, there was a $100 diagnostic fee they forgot to tell us about. To their credit, after we looked at the guy with the deer in the headlights look and explained that we weren't told about the fee, he took it off. Still, $36 for an oil change? Rip off!!

Then the snow came. We had a blizzard. In October. The car sat in the garage for three days while we were all housebound. No work, no school, no nuthin'.

On Bill's first day back at work, he took my car. My car decided it was sick. I know it caught swine flu while sitting in that filthy Ford dealership. Now the check engine light was not only on, it was blinking. Blinking light = REALLY bad!!

Mistake #2: Took the car back to the dealership and asked why they broke our car. Did they take responsibility for it all of a sudden not working. Pshaw. Of course not. I mean, it was fine before they had it, not after they had it, obviously they didn't do anything wrong. This is where I realize that they see a California license plate and the fact that it's a big SUV and assume we have money. Ha! Jokes on them. We're military. We don't have any money!! Husband is beyond mad and threatening to write to everyone just short of the White House to complain. I calmly walk him back to the car, petting him to keep him calm.

We take it somewhere else. Somewhere that a friend recommended. A bunch of money later and 8 replaced boots or shoes or some sort of footware on the cylinders and all new spark plugs, we drive away. Battery light is still on. But the engine light is off. And at least it can get above 45mph.

After a week of searching the internet and youtube and reading manuals, my not-mechanic turned mechanic hubby replaces the alternator AND the brake booster. Did you know brakes had boosters? Me either. Oh, and did you know that evil Ford makes their alternators so that you can't just take them down to the local auto store to have them tested? They need special equipment? Oh and did you know that if you wanted to actually fix something on a Ford in a time less than a weekend, you need special Ford tools?? Yeah, don't EVER buy a Ford. I just kept telling myself that it was free and I haven't had a car payment in three years. Maybe I was chanting it, I can't remember. I think I may have lit a candle, and I'm not even Catholic.

Mistake #3: We go to the gas station. It was then that my hubby and I realized that the lowest grade of gas, which we've been putting in our car since we got it, is NOT 87 in Colorado like it is back in California. It's 85. 85? Really? I thought the lowest grade was standard across the board? For three months we've been putting in 85, not even thinking that it wasn't our usual 87. Um...did we break our car? Why was it ok up until the point that the dealership had it? Dangit!! Why didn't the welcome package warn us about gasoline?! This place has crazy blizzards in October and lower grade gas? Where are we?!

Thankfully we've learned that with a little confidence, my husband can fix my car (there was no other option) and we should be able to hang on to it until Trey is driving it to school in eight years. That is, unless we keep putting the wrong gas in it.

Oh, and the battery light is still on.

Friday, November 06, 2009


Today was gorgeous. It felt like a normal day back home. Sunny and 75. Oh how I miss my predictable weather! I really feel like I'm part lizard. When the sun is out and the weather is warm, my work production goes up. I can go on for hours. I'm motivated and happy. When it's cold or grey outside, I can't hardly manage to function let alone get anything else done. My to-do list for this house is HUGE! I thought that having our very first home that we own would help my motivation. Hmm, apparently not. Today was different. I painted. For six hours. Both of my kids had a day off from school which meant time outside for them and time to work for me! I am covered in specks and sploshes of lime green and lavender and I'm tired in a very good way. My husband is on his way home from work, Chipotle in hand and I feel like I can say that today was great.

Tomorrow, the weather is supposed to be just as nice. I'll be painting again, but instead of the walls, it will be me. Our annual Marine Corps Ball is in downtown Denver tomorrow. This will be the 14th ball I've attended. They're all magical in their own little way. I wish we had good friends coming with us like we've had in the past, but a date night with my hubby will be just fine with me.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Halloween in Colorado

I really wasn't sure what Halloween would be like for us this year, but I knew it would be a lot different than the norm for our family. Last year, we thought we'd be in Georgia by now. Obviously, that didn't happen but we did end up far from home. Anyway, we went trick or treating with some friends last year and had a great time but it was HOT. Like, crazy hot. No apple cider to warm us up when we were done or anything traditional like that. Sweaty kids want something cold!

This year in Colorado the snow came early and fierce. The sky was finally clear on Halloween night, but my kids still had to wear layers (huh?) and make sure to walk around the snow to get to different homes. Leah had to wear clothing underneath her costume, which was her ballet recital outfit from June. She ended up looking like a young Abby Sciuto with her stripes and crazy colored hair. I thought she looked pretty cute but if I'd let her know the she looked kinder-goth it wouldn't have gone well with her "princess ballerina" mentality.

I ended up taking this picture because it just struck me as funny.

And then my neighbor, who we went out with to raid houses, made fun of me. What? Snow on Halloween is funny. A snowman is hilarious in its absurdity. Can I help it if this is weird to me?

Here's one of my kids and the neighbor kids. If Darth looks familiar, well, it's because he came with us last year. What can I say? I'm frugal and the costume still fit. He was good with it, so double score for me!

We only made it around the block before my kids were popsicles and we decided to call it a night. They still got tons of loot. Now I know for next year to get a costume that can be layered multiple times.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Day Late & a Dollar Short

Did I forget to mention that my first born celebrated a birthday? Really? Oops. Good thing he doesn't read my blog since it was quite an ordeal to make him feel better about his birthday being the latest in the year of our little family by telling him, "But yours will be the FIRST in Colorado!" Ooooh...aahhhh. Yeah, well, you do what you can to avoid a meltdown.

Trey turned eight earlier this month. I didn't want to throw a party for a couple of reasons.
  1. I don't think kids should have a huge bash every year. It kinda makes them less appreciated in my opinion.
  2. We just moved. My house is in no way, shape or form ready to have guests here.
  3. I really didn't want to throw a party. Yep, I'm that mom

So, we told Trey he could pick one friend and we'd go to Dave and Busters. Trey chose his new BFF to go with and new BFF's mom told us about this place that is local to Colorado that is like Chuck E. Cheese's for kids older than 5. Bowling, go-karts, arcades, mini-golf, pizza (even though Trey doesn't eat pizza...yeah, don't go there), a huge ball obstacle course and it goes on. Here's Trey, new BFF and Leah waiting somewhat patiently for the lunch that Trey didn't eat. Yeah, that's totally typical. UGH.

After a bowling alley lunch (don't be jealous) of pizza, chicken strips, fries and orange soda for the kids (whose mom lets kids drink soda? Seriously?) we headed down to the lanes for some cosmic bowling. Not only did we fulfill a fun activity that Trey loves, but he got to check a box in his scouting requirement handbook. Score!

Leah shows her mad skills on the alley using the ramp.

She is a rockstar, in case you were wondering.

The place had ONE ride inside. One was more than enough. It's called the twister. Barf. The kids loved it though. That thing kicked up quite a bit of wind. I could have dried my nailpolish. If I still wore nailpolish. This ride is like one of those horrible carnival rides where the whole ride spins and then you can spin your individual car. I felt ok with it at first because I realized it was being torn down every five weeks and moved to a new location like a regular carnival ride. And then they started the ride WITHOUT checking each of the kids' safety harnesses. !!!

Thankfully, they all held on really tight and no one fell out.

Here's Trey and new BFF in this massive, three story ball war-zone, complete with pneumatic guns to shoot these foam balls at your friends or new found enemies. They stayed in here for an HOUR. One hour. Conveniently, there are tables right outside where the parents can take a break and if they want, even get wasted drunk. Oh, and when you're done? Just leave your beer or wine glass on the table for any kid to walk past a take a swig of. I didn't see it happen but I can imagine it does.

Bill and Leah filling the massive ball rocket with ammunition.

We hit the golf course as a last hoorah. There's the boys tolerating the camera and Leah soaking it up.

This place was a HUGE hit for the kids. For Bill and I? Eh...not so much. It felt dirty. Like a state fair. The whole, not-checking-for-safety thing and the temptation for rebellious kids having booze at their fingertips was kind of a turnoff. My little innocents were blissfully unaware, but we will definitely be visiting Dave and Buster's if we're feeling gamey again.

We made it home around 9pm. Just in time for cake and presents after dropping off new BFF. This was by FAR Trey's favorite present. It's a phlat ball. Just like it sounds, it starts out flat and by the time it reaches your friend or your target or you friend who is the target, it opens up as a ball. It was a hit with all the neighbor boys as well.

Happy Birthday, Dude!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not Me Monday

It's Not Me Monday, Fun Day!! If you're unfamiliar with the whole dealio and you're interested in being in the loop you can go here and read all about it.

I hate football. HATE it. The only reason I tolerate the Superbowl is to hang out with friends, eat lots of horrible food and watch the talked about commercials. So, there is no way that I've become interested in how the home team is doing. Not me. I mean, just because I've been forced away from the best place to live in the country does not mean that my devotion would include the lamest game (meaning I can't understand it) ever.

I did not just spend an unknown amount of money on cool weather clothing without figuring out my budget for the month. That would be ludicrous, especially since I was a finance major for a while in college. I mean, who does that? Just because cool weather clothing is mostly for show back home and it's a necessity out here does NOT mean that I can just go shopping nilly willy. I would never do that.

Oh, and of course, that would mean that I would not even think about taking advantage of an Old Navy deal that came across in my email for a mystery discount. Psh. I'm not so influenced by a sale on already clearance priced clothes that I can't pass that up. Seriously. I'm not working. We need to save. Who would do that? Not me!

Since we seem to be following a pattern here, I most certainly would not completely forget about a six pack of chicken breasts that I bought for a great deal until I opened the fridge one day and was knocked over by a horrible smell. With the economy the way it is and those not able to even buy food, I would not let food go to waste. I wouldn't have forgotten to separate it, package it up and stick it in the freezer. Not me!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kid Torture

I'm a pro. I didn't even need to take any classes, it just comes naturally. It all began about seven years ago. I was so mean to my then one year old. I would force him to...(if you have a sensitive soul you may not want to read this) I know, I know. I should attend meetings or something. Food that does not come from a jar for a one year old is purely meant for torture and disdain and I can only be some kind of sadist to continue the cycle. I mean, it's been an ongoing battle torture session ever since then, although he's starting to weaken. Insert evil laugh here. I knew that if he would bend under my pressure I'd eventually have power.

I'm super SUPER mean to my other kid. I make her wear clothes she hates. Isn't that great?! Oh, and shoes and the occassional sweatshirt. I can teach you the tricks of the trade for three low monthly payments of $9.95 plus $3.95 S&H. Oh, who am I kidding? I can just tell you here but if you share these techniques with anyone be sure to give credit where credit is due. You just get some pants and put them on your kid. When she starts complaining that they're too loose (because she has an 8 inch waist, or so it seems) you tighten the adjustable waistband until there is nothing left to tighten. Button her up and voila! She'll throw herself into a fitful heap on the floor crying, "They FEEL FUNNNNEEEEE!!!! They're TOOO LOOOOOSE!!!" Oh yeah, it worked! As long as she seems to think that the pants are too loose even though they're technically a size too small and tightened to the point where there's no gap in the back, then you've won the battle of parent torture. Congratulations. For bonus points, make your child wear a sweatshirt over a long sleeve shirt when the temps reach the 40s. When she yells, "It FEEEELS FUNNNNEEEEE!!!! WAAAHHHHH" again because she was throwing such a fit and was in jeopardy of missing the bus that you didn't take the time to have her hold the sleeves of her shirt in her tiny hands while you slid the sweatshirt on, be confident that you have won the battle. You know it's a good day when one child has two meltdowns before 9am. I chose to leave the third meltdown out today: socks and shoes, but I'm confident I will be discussing that battle sometime in the near future. You may bookmark this site for future reference.

My own reward came when the multitude of moms at the bus stop looked over at Leah and I (because she couldn't walk at this point--score a point--so I was carrying her) and asked with that half frowny face, "What's wrong with Leah? Is she sad because she misses you while she's at school?"

"No, she's mad about her clothes." And then the laughter would come. Not the 'ha ha, sucks to be you' laughter but the 'oh, I've totally been there' laughter. There are a lot of torture pros out there, just be sure you take advice from a legitimite one. I'd hate for you to waste your money on someone who advises you to torture your child simply by making them watch old reruns of Alf. That's just mean.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Part Two

Ok, ok, here it is. The second half of the story. We moved into our hotel in the business section of Denver, unpacked, and called our realtor. My FIL, who is also a realtor, did some researching for us and found an AWESOME lady to be our realtor, who totally listened to us, was completely honest about every place we picked out and didn't try to get us to look at stuff out of our price range. We made home searching our full time job while trying to entertain two small children and figure out which was is which since the mountains out here are on the wrong side. Bill still had to check into work, we still needed to do normal errands like grocery shopping and I had to find stuff to do during the day because 300 square feet is not much space to play. Fortunately there is a public pool/water park in the area that is CHEAP (like $8 cheap) and not like the actual Travel Channel water parks. We googled local parks, we went shopping, we somehow survived the very long four weeks in that hotel.

We looked at a dozen or so houses all along the eastern side of Denver. I had done so much research before we left San Diego that I knew what schools were good, which areas were low crime and what kind of neighborhoods we'd be looking at (thank you google maps). We saw the *perfect* house on our third trip out. It was like a page out of the Pottery Barn catalog. I was ready to make an offer right then and there. Thankfully I'm not impulsive because there was no growing room. What you saw was what there was, which meant no guest room/office/craft room. Boo. We looked at two foreclosures that were amazing. Unfortunately, they both had multiple offers and we didn't have time on our side. The house we ended up deciding on, we'd looked at twice and turned down twice. I thought it was too close to the main road and the eating area was way too small, but other than that, it was a great house. After you compare home after home, certain things seem workable and the home you've rented for the past six years in the quietest neighborhood ever and the excessive square footage become obvious that there was a reason you were renting. Um, because we couldn't afford to buy a place like that, that's why! So we put in our offer, expecting a counter offer. Years of watching HGTV makes me think that I'm an expert when knowing what to expect. They countered but it was hardly noticeable. We closed in thirty days and voila! We bought our first home. I never thought I'd buy anywhere other than California. It's fun and exciting and all, but I'm thinking I would have been elated had it been where I wanted. Maybe, eventually, this IS where I'll want to be. Our neighborhood is great. We met more of our neighbors here the first weekend than we'd met at our old neighborhood the entire time we lived there. My kids are outside playing with friends every single day which didn't happen back "home". We were invited to a block party our first week here. The kids' school is superb. I might think that about any school after leaving the brokest state in the west. My kids actually have art! And music! And computers! That's just crazy talk. They started late because the school is on a year round calendar. Who would think that school starts in July?? Then there was that whole pesky thing of proving that you actually lived in the district.

We're moving a lot more slowly than I'd thought as far as settling in goes. The air up here is thin, and it truly does make for more work. We've been in the state for two and a half months and I still get winded going up the stairs. I have painting and decorating to do. I need to act like I know how to sew curtains and put up some window treatments. We still need to finish opening boxes. Ugh! Just about the time we get it done, it will be time to move again. I long to buy our 'forever' home while living in this transitional state of our life.

To add to the pile, Bill had rotator cuff surgery a month ago which meant a lot of time devoted to him, and not the house. He's been incredibly agile using only one arm. As one new friend calls him, "Chicken Wing". All the 'guy' projects I need him to get done are waiting patiently. Too bad he'll be ready to do them when the weather is even colder than it is now. Oh...and crazy lady? The woman I mentioned in a previous post? Yeah, we got a call from our insurance that she's claiming injury. When the adjuster came out to take pictures of the car, he laughed. "Uh, well, it looks like you've got a LOT of damage there. Seems you'll need to get a new license plate frame." Darn it! And I was saving up for a Coach purse, too. Thank GOD I took pictures. Insurance has them and hopefully crazy lady will disappear.

There's so much more that has happened here. You'll just have to have faith that I will blog again ;)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not Me Monday!

I'm a long time reader, first time poster of this fun weekly tradition. If ya wanna know what it's all about, clicky on the fancy button above. Let's get on with the fun!

I most certainly did not ignore my blog for a very extended period of time. My last post said I'd write again soon, and well, soon is relative. Yes it is! No, really. Do you believe me yet?

I did not completely forget that my darling daughter requested a cheeseburger from McD's and accidentally order her chicken nuggets instead and then after she looked into her square boxed meal with a face of disappointment, I did not tell her that the cheeseburger machine was broken. I mean, seriously, what kind of mom would do that? Not me!

I am not so ridiculously addicted to crushed ice that I'm willing to chomp on it even when the temps outside reach freezing. What kind of crazy person does that? Not me.

I did not spend $5 on a febreeze Autumn-smelling candle at Wal-Mart. Not that buying a candle is silly in and of itself, but I was a PartyLite consultant for three years and have plenty of candles. Purchasing another one from a discount store is just ridiculous.

Happy Columbus-the-kids-are-in-school-but-the-adults-are-off-Day!

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Mile High City

Last October, right after Bill got home from his third deployment to Iraq, we were given orders. The Marines wanted us to move away from everything and everyone we loved. They wanted us to move. To Georgia. UGH! Well, I already talked about that in a previous post. Long story short, no Georgia, but we were moving. To Colorado. Ok, not perfect but a heckuva lot better.

Bill and I celebrated thirteen years of marriage by dropping our kids off at my mom’s one last time and headed down to Donovan’s for some overpriced steak. Any time we’d fly somewhere we noticed Donovan’s listed in the top ten steak houses and had never gone to the restaurant in our own back yard. We’re leaving the area for a while, now’s as good a time as any! Now I’m all about fancy, but I felt out of place there. They have a dress code (which was obviously not enforced by the looks of some of the diners). A valet is the first thing you see as they whisk your car away and give you good wishes of a wonderful meal. Our water didn’t show up in glasses. A bottle with the restaurant’s name on the label was placed on our table and our wait staff poured it into wine glasses for us. The wine list was longer than the menu, which was only two pages indicating that it was so fancy, you didn’t need options. Some of the wines were $500 a bottle. Oh yes, that’s correct. I didn’t know what to choose and figured they’d be snickering at me back in the kitchen for ordering something so “common folk”. So I didn’t. I ordered a margarita. I figured I’d be safe. Oh, but then she gave me a choice of tequila. I don’t know tequila. We let them choose. We’re so beer budget in this $500 wine place. Bill and I ordered our very expensive meals and determined that they were worth the price. Lots of business deals happen here. Lots of celebrations and hoity toity things. It wouldn’t be our regular spot, but I’m glad we got a chance to check them out. We headed to our hotel with ocean views for one more night before heading to the hills, so to speak.

The next day: Moving day. We got off to a later start than we wanted. We didn’t even leave my mom’s until around 11. We had our packed to the gills car (do cars have gills? Packed to the headliners?) on a tow dolly, hooked up to the SUV which had Bill and I and two kids and two cats and lots of “stuff”. I tried to be the nice kitty mommy and drug my cats. I’ve given my cat a pill before so I figured I could do it again. What I’d forgotten is that I had a kitten at the time. Now I have a huge 20 pound monster who has no issues biting the momma that feeds him if it means he can avoid having something shoved down his throat. I tried butter, half and half, force, bribery, presents, a reverse neutering job. Nothing worked. I tried on the other cat. No dice. Now they were not only mad and freaked out, but foamy and drooly to boot. Yep, cats foam at the mouth when they get something gross on their tongue. It’s very Turner and Hooch-ish. The kids thought it was the funniest thing they’d seen all year. Yeah. Funny. So, we just grabbed them, shoved them in the carriers and let them loose in the back of the SUV. We spent way too much on one of those grid contraptions used to keep dogs in the back and put that up to keep my crazy felines from running circles around the car. They had a nice little apartment set up for them. I don’t know why they didn’t appreciate it. They complained all the way up to the 138 (2 hours for non-locals). I kept telling them they would have been a lot happier had they taken their medicine.

My non-furry kids did AWESOME. We drove for eleven hours and I was so proud of them. I was worried about traveling for so long. The last time we did a long road trip was when Trey was two and complained for 6 straight hours. And no, I’m not exaggerating. “All done! All done! Get down, get down momma!” Aaarrrggg! He fell asleep right as we hit L.A. Of course, just two hours short of home and he finally shuts up. So anyway, we made it all the way to Beaver, UT with little protesting. Most of the trip was through the stinkin’ hot deserts. Only 115. It could have been worse—really.

We stayed at a Best Western only because they allow pets and there is no way I wasn’t going to bring my first babies. The hotel was…eh…not the best place we’ve stayed, but Beaver is out in the middle of Utah, aka, nowhere. The good thing about hotel beds is that they are on platforms so when your cats freak out, they can’t hide under the bed and just get out of your reach when it’s time to go the next day. What? Wait a minute. Oh yeah, this was the ONLY place I’ve ever stayed that did NOT have platform beds and the cats hid out under the beds the whole time. We weren’t there to play so we ate and slept and then needed to leave. Now comes the gross part and I’m ashamed to even be writing this although I wasn’t responsible for it. Bill and I had to work together to get the cats out. Push and pull sort of thing. We got them out and seconds after they were pulled out from under the bed…two little beetles crawled out from under the bed. EWWWW!!!! Oh yes, you can guess what they were and you’d probably be right. Dis-gus-ting. Don’t ever stop in Beaver, Utah. Blech.

We headed out to Eagle, CO for our next stay. Again, staying at a Best Western. A little apprehensive considering the morning we’d had. Because it was our second night, we got a free upgrade. This hotel totally made up for the previous one. Our beds were awesome. There was an indoor pool for the kids to spend some energy and it was in a beautiful area. Ok, BW, you’ve redeemed yourselves…mostly. We went to dinner downtown at this little place called The Dusty Boot. Why you’d want to eat anywhere where dirt and footwear are concerned, I don’t know, but they did have good food!

Finally on Thursday we hopped in the car for the last leg of the trip. We were out of the desert part of western Colorado and entered the mountainous green area. We could see rivers and trees for miles. There were walking paths along the river. Then we headed into Vail where extremely expensive tourist areas are. We saw groups of ski lifts and chalets. And then it began to rain. Hard. And then hail. In July. It was 40 degrees outside. Two days ago we had the air on at all times and now we had to turn the heat on! I was amazed that anyone would want to live where your heater needed to be on at the peak of summer. It was beautiful. Cold, but beautiful. We continued our drive over the pass and saw old mines, railroad tracks, tourist stops and the county line of Jefferson, one county over from Denver. We’d made it! The rain came back as we hit the city. The traffic started to slow. We were already slow due to the extra 10,000 pounds we were hauling. I was taking pictures of road signs and the skyline for scrapbooking purposes. And then the traffic came to a screeching halt. And so did we. Right after we bumped into the lady in front of us. D’oh! The lady immediately gets out of her car, throws her hands up and basically asks what our problem is. Bill apologizes, explains we’ve got this huge car we’re lugging around and asks if she’s ok. She says she’s fine but she’s mad because this is the third accident she’s been in. Bill then gets on the phone to call the cops and our insurance. We’re all fine. The kids and the cats are fine. We were maybe going 5 mph when it happened. Then the lady starts to plot. She’s rubbing her head and asks if we have water because “she thinks she needs to throw up”. The police come and do their thing. They ask if we need medical care. No. Then they go over to her. Then the ambulance shows up. I see them put her in a neck brace after talking to her for a while. They put a pressure cuff on her arm and get out a stethoscope. After a few more minutes, the gurney comes out.

PAUSE: In 2005, I was in a major collision. My car was totaled. The only reason we needed to go to the hospital was to get the glass out of Leah’s head and face that splashed on her from the impact. We barely bumped this lady. What is she doing??!

The EMT kept coming over to us to make sure we were ok. After a half hour or more, the neck brace came off, the gurney went away and the EMT’s were smiling and rolling their eyes towards us as if to make an unofficial statement that this lady was a little loose in the head. They wished us luck and went on their way. Crazy lady drove off. Mr. Police officer apologized that he had to write us a ticket and thanked Bill for his service to our country. What a welcome to Denver. I really hope this crazy accident lady doesn’t do anything stupid. I’d hate to have to waste our time in court over a fender bender.

After that wonderful experience we got all checked in to our extend stay hotel and tried to find some way to make it home for the next month? Two months? Dare I say…three months? Two queen beds, a cooktop with two electric (yuck) burners and a microwave. No oven. Oh, a single basin sink. And a bathroom. Free wifi. Woohoo! Crazy cable lineup. Boo. Not perfect, but workable. We call our realtor and let her know we’re in town and set up an appointment to meet the next day.

After dinner, I sit down to scroll through pictures I’ve taken along the way and realize something. As I was taking shots of the city for my hobby, I managed to get two pictures of crazy lady’s car as I was trying to get a good shot of the highway signs. The damage to her bumper that we thought we caused, was already there! I have proof that we did not break her car. Ha! I’m so smart, and I didn’t even know it.

Part 2 coming soon.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Calm Before the Storm

**This post was written about three weeks ago. I'll get up to speed eventually. I hope**
Forest Home. Our second trip to this retreat in the San Bernardino mountains. So, we’re in the middle of moving, why not plan a family vacation in the midst of it? Makes perfect sense to me. Even though we’d only been here one other time, it was like returning to a spot you’d been hundreds of times before. Everything was familiar. We paid a little extra and upgraded our room this year. Gooood decision. We actually have storage which may not seem like a very big deal for a week long family vacation, but when you’re already living out of suitcases and will be for at least another month, being able to unpack is heavenly. Oh, and then there’s the thing where we don’t have to share a very small bathroom with another family. Yeah, that was actually the deal maker for me. It’s one thing to have to share one bathroom with three other members of your family, but throw in some other group and everything that goes along with it? Awkward!

Our cabin (on the right side)

The view from our front porch
So we brought along our own child care person which the camp will normally provide for you free of charge because every night the parents get a chance to get away from their kids and the kids get a chance to get away from their parents. I thought it would be more fun for my kids to hang out in the evenings with someone they already know. As I dropped our sitter off at her cabin, I told her counselor to be sure to take good care of her. I’d hate to drag her all the way up the mountain and just leave her there to fend for herself, which it felt like I was doing. Apparently, I look enough like her (she’s a strawberry blonde with blue eyes, I’m a chestnut brunette with brown eyes) and old enough (I’m 17 years older) that they thought I was her mom. !!! I’m sort of insulted. Now I know that teenagers are horrible at the age game and I guess I could technically be her mom if I was a high school pregnancy case, but do I really look old enough to have a teenager??!

Ok, back on track. Part of the Forest Home tradition is to have Family Lake Day on the Wednesday of the week you attend camp. It was the perfect day after three days of 90ish clear weather. Finally, we’d had a break and it got down to about 80 with a bit of cloud cover. We got to the lake and set up our spot. We watched some of the relay races and I took pictures of our team as they flew through the obstacles of the race. We only had two more groups to go before lunch which was highly anticipated to the group of us hungry campers. And then it started to sprinkle. And then a bit more. And then the wind started to blow. And then it started to whip and the sprinkles turned into raindrops. Excuse me, but I thought this was July in Southern California. See, we don’t do that here. It got so bad that the food service people could not do their job and had to pack it up and take our picnic back to the main camp and we had to shut down family lake day! It was funny in a can-you-believe-this sort of way. We loaded the SUV back up and took the short trek back to camp while the servers and other kitchen staff set up the same lunch a second time. And the sun came out. My explanation? Leeches. There must’ve been leeches in the water and that’s why God made it rain at a church function at the lake.

After lunch, Bill and I took the kids to the pool since they were jipped out of their chance at the trampoline in the lake and “the blob”. The pool had been temporarily closed due to thunder so we waited until we got the all clear sign. And it started to rain. We sat in lounge chairs in the warm mountain air and were rained on. We listened to the blue jays squawk and the chipmunks chatter behind us until my little fish were able to show off their new talents they learned in swim lessons last week.

Yes, I am still up in the mountains as I write, but there is no internet, cable, or cell available so I sit on my laptop and type out memories in between games of Mahjong and Solitaire while my family naps in the cabin before the next activity. We arrived Sunday evening and have been going at a crazy pace since we’ve arrived. My kids have climbed rock walls, flown down zip lines (twice), gone trout fishing, swimming twice, done arts and crafts, miniature golf for the last three evenings and walked more steps than they’ve probably walked at home in a month. It’s been a great start to this crazy new chapter of life we’re just beginning to write. I hope they look back at this as a wonderful part of their young childhood.
Leah waiting on the platform of the zip line
There she goes! Trey is just ahead of her.
Trey starts up the rock wall
Leah OWNING the rock wall.
Our little family on the second to last day of camp. You can't tell, but there were thunderstorms going on all around us at this time. We were smart and stood under the tallest tree.
Bill and I and our friends who spent the week with us.

This is what happens when you try and take a picture of all the kids.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

This blog

is interupted due to some major transformations going on right now. Much too messy and hectic to type up in one post with not enough time to do the necessary things, let alone the optional things. Posts will be coming. I will have lots of free time soon. LOTS.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lazy days of...Spring?

Knowing that my time here at home is quickly running out, I’m trying to soak up as many of my favorite things to do as possible. Yesterday was Trey’s last day of spring break, Leah didn’t have school and I was off from work. The weather was warm and beautiful so I decided to take the kids to the beach for a day of playing in the sand and sun. This morning, there’s a picture on the back page of the paper displaying beautiful pink tulips in Denver…covered in a fresh layer of snow. SNOW! Don’t they know it’s April?? Flights cancelled, schools closed, chaos.

Did I mention we went to the beach?

By this time next year my blog posts will read, “Jen complains about the weather. Again.”