Friday, September 24, 2010


Dear Natalie,

Earlier this month you turned three. It felt like a natural progression until I sat down to show you videos of yourself when you were Liam's age. Just two short years ago we were oohing and ahhing over first steps, communicating with you in baby sign language and chasing you around the house trying to keep you from playing in toilets.

Now you're almost fully potty-trained, like to say "Actually" and dance with your father around the house calling him "Prince Phillip".


I suppose it DOES give me hope on Liam's extra cranky days. That this too shall pass. But then, maybe I shouldn't WANT them to pass. Maybe I should be cherishing every single minute rather than thinking about where we NEED TO BE or if LAUNDRY NEEDS DONE or if you're not EATING YOUR DINNER or if you're RIDING YOUR BROTHER AROUND LIKE A HORSE.

Your little birthday cookout was a fun time. We had a couple of your friends over and you shared the limelight with your brother, since he hadn't had an official party, per se. You were cool with it. Perhaps since you didnt know yet, but really I hope you're always cool with sharing things with him.

We started out the day giving you your big birthday present: a dollhouse. It was an instant hit. Thankfully - As your Nana and Mom had driven all over creation a few months ago trying to find it. Yes, I bought it off Craigslist, but its in near new condition and I got it for a steal! I think you'll probably appreciate stuff like that when you get bigger. I've already heard you walking around the house saying "I bought it on sale!". Ha!

You played with this all morning. I do think it was the best birthday present money I've ever spent on you thus far! Liam even liked it!!

Liam played King Kong

I'm not sure what this face means, but I'm sure it was something about how girls are stinky.

Later that day we went to Toys R Us for you to spend some birthday money from Mommo and Poppo. I'm not sure WHAT you're doing in this photo, but kid, you're too funny.
I've since come to think that Toys R Us is a black hole. We spent about an hour and a half there and while we DID have a good time, we were all about spent by the time we left. And this is what we left with...

Mommo and Poppo's money was put to good use!

Natalie, before you were born, your father and I SWORE we'd never push the princess thing. But I think we've come to realize that you absolutely LOVE princesses and there's not really much pushing we've done about it on our end. We also have realized that the whole "being polite and kind to puppies and woodland animals (to include your brother)" portion of the princess gig is a pretty nice quality and corrects our original thinking that all princesses were "divas". Sorry kid, no room for a diva in this house, but if Aurora or Ariel or Cinderella will get you to clean your room, be nice to your brother, go pee pee on the potty and any other such things, then bring on the princesses. They can march in my house and throw up all over everything if that helps! Well okay, I have to put my foot down at princess decor, but then again, I was never very much for "character-themed" decor. But I digress...

So the party was a "royal barbeque". Well, it was really a barbeque, but I figured you'd like to dress up with your friends so that's why we threw that in there. After having the party - which was so informal really - I think I realized that I'm never going to be one of those "party" moms. Don't get me wrong. I'm DEFINITLEY in to birthdays and celebration, but something about herding even a few 2 and 3 year olds along with their infant siblings was a little crazy. You seemed to love it though - so really that's all that counts.

Sequoia and Natalie
Combating the mosquitos out back.

Liam celebrating 1!

You blowing out three candles.  Your (and Liam's) crowns were made by my friend Heidi who I think bleeds craft glue or something.  She's a crafting queen!

So you're growing up so fast. It's hard for me to believe that you're in gymnastics and going to be starting preschool next week. It also shocks me that you can seemingly remember everything that happens to you - like the comments I get about you falling down in the CVS 6 months ago EVERYTIME WE PASS IT. Sheesh! With that sort of memory I've gotta watch what comes out of my mouth!

You're a pretty special part of our every day, Natalie. Your dad and I think you are just the best little girl we've ever known and are SO thankful we get to call you ours. I believe your dad's also said that it's okay with him if you live at home until you're thirty. Hmmm... I'm a little divided on that, especially if you still keep such a messy room, but I'd be totally fine with next door.

Mom and Dad

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Organizational Frenzy

So I've written recently that I've been on an organizational frenzy. While I havent had as much time as I've wanted to devote to projects, I've noticed that I've become very AWARE of what a mess certain spaces are in my house. I'm going to try to photograph my progress to either inspire you or show you how much of a nut I am.

Last week I attacked the cabinet under my kitchen sink. After causing an avalanche (see below) in searching for ONE item, I decided I'd had enough. I had these wire racks (purchased from Walmart) in my craft room and I ripped them out of their current location to organize this space. Yes, the craft room is in shambles at the moment and I'm in limbo about the whole space because I don't really use the room to craft in per-se. However, it does hold all of my clothes (in the closets) and store all of my crafty things. I'm sure you'll see a craft room reorganization down the road.

But I digress... Here's the after. Ahh.... Something about organization that just makes me take a sigh of relief.

Yes, yes, I'm well aware that I'm remiss in posting 3rd birthday pictures. Stay posted next week for pictures of that as well as some recent camping stories.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Liams Mad Walking Skills

Yeah, my kid is a walking genius. I'm not partial or anything. Feel free to take a look for yourself. Cringe with me toward the end when I debut my singing voice for YouTube. /groan

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


So I'm in this mode of cleaning stuff out of my house and selling it on Craigslist. It's liberating getting rid of all the stuff we have sitting around that just collects dust. It's also nice seeing the little bit of cash that comes in as a result. I'm currently up to $110 and I do a little jig everytime I add another $10 or so to the total. In fact the other day I found out I had a $10 library fine and just about broke down in tears as I realized that was the same amount as the carseat I had just worked so hard to sell.

This is all very ironic for us because up until recently we've been in "spending mode" and even $100 didn't seem like a lot. We both realized how sad this was because we've both had points in our lives where we sweated hard for a mere $7/hr and $10/hour seemed like we were rolling in it. We also were wondering where exactly all of our money was going! So I've taken to the task of saving money in the everyday expenditures by just NOT spending and reading a lot of blogs on couponing and such (you may have noticed a lot of new blogs to the right under "blogs I follow"). I'm learning a lot of new things and MAY venture into the extremes like making my own laundry detergent, etc. We'll see if I become THAT adventurous. There's something a little weird about that in my mind still. Like I need to have hair down to my rear end and have 10 kids or something. But, I'm trying to remain open!

Anyway, back to the title of this post, I got a freecycle update this morning alerting me to some items someone was GIVING away. I emailed the woman and she told me I could have them BOTH!! So exciting!

Four wire bins with dust covers. Not sure what I'm going to use these for yet, but they should come in handy with all the organizing I've done recently!

I've wanted a sand and water table for a while and ALMOST spent $40 on one at the beginning of the summer. Now I'm cringing at the idea of that. I'm so glad I didnt and can't believe that I'm getting one free... Wooohooo!!

So this "new perspective" is good. It's kind of a reassessment of what's really important and trying to be a good steward of what we've been given. I hope this isnt a phase for us. It feels good to save the cash we'd normally spend on eating out, unecessary consumer items and such and it doesnt feel like THAT much of a sacrifice.

If you are interested in making a change to your family's budget, check out a great book I just happened across called "Be Centsable" or one of the thrifty blogs I've linked to on the right. I'd also love to hear about ways you cut your family's budget without sacrificing all the fun.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jog!

A couple weeks ago I made the brave venture to my home state of Missouri. It was brave only because it involved me traveling with a one and two year old BY MYSELF on a plane for 2 1/2 hours. I know people who have done more. But this was my Everest. Let's just say... I survived.


Well, the trip TO Kansas City was the WORST I've ever experienced with kids thus far. I opted to give Liam Benadryl, as authorized by my pediatrician. I had given it to him a few days prior as a dry run and he seemed to sleep much longer during his nap. So it seemed like a good idea.

Famous last words!

Liam doesn't ever get rocked to sleep or held to lull him to bed so he's pretty used to being left alone and stretching out in his crib. Since he couldn't do this on the plane we had one unhappy baby on our hands. He kicked and screamed and screamed some more. (Imagine that ear piercing scream that makes you want to hit the snooze button really hard)

Let's just say that I didn't have many friends on the flight.

The lady in front of his car seat (with seat reclined) turned around and asked if I could get him to stop kicking her seat. Oh yes, let me just ask a 1 year old to please stop having a meltdown and refrain from bothering others around him! Why hadn't I thought of that??? Maybe if your seat wasn't reclined he wouldn't be able to reach it to kick it? She claimed later that her seat was broken. Perhaps it was. It would have fit nicely with the kind of trip I was having so far.

Toward the end of our flight Natalie informed me that she needed to use the bathroom very urgently. I acquiesced and carted her and her slobbering, cranky brother up to the front and asked the flight attendant if she'd hold Liam while I took Natalie to the potty. The attendant looked less than thrilled to hold a wet, sticky one year old with graham cracker all over his shirt, but she agreed. The look she shot me when I retrieved Liam from her and commented that they should offer a babysitting service was priceless. Let's just say that she's good on birth control for another 5 years.

I arrived in Kansas City only to discover that the airline had lost my bag (on a DIRECT flight). The belts in Baltimore were broken when we left so it would appear that my bag never made it on the plane. LOVELY. The airline rep was less than helpful and I left the airport thoroughly annoyed.

Alas, my trip gets SO much better from there.

We celebrated Natalie and my mom's birthday, complete with pink cake and pink icing (Natalie's request)!

The kids played with Nana and Papa's array of fun toys (a lot of vintage stuff from when my sister and I were growing up).

Natalie got a princess dress from Nana and Papa (her favorite things are princesses these days). You'll probably see this dress again at Halloween!

(Taking a break with Aunt Lib from all of the dancing she was doing in her dress)

The kids and I drove down to my hometown (Springfield, MO) to stay with my friend Miriam and spend time with my other friend Angie and their little girls. The kids got along like old friends and it was so nice seeing them play together. I know that if I lived there still the girls would all be great friends!

Natalie, Addison, Reese, Jasmine

Miriam's twins Jasmine (back) & Addison (front)

Miriam's Stella

Angie's Reese (sister Aubrey not pictured)

Natalie making herself right at home at Miriam's house

Dress-up photo op!

Angie, Miriam and I got a night out on the town one night sans kids. What a luxury! It reminded me of when Miriam and I were new friends and we were trying to get into the 21 and over hot spots in Springfield. It wasn't so much that we wanted to drink - it just that in a town of 125,000 people there isn't much to do and most of those places had a band or SOMETHING going on. Springfield has grown up a LOT since then with fun, swanky restaurants and cool gourmet grocery stores. We ended up hopping around to three of those restaurants in the downtown area. It was a fun opportunity to see how much has changed.

Miriam and Me at Kai

Miriam, Me and Angie

Flaming Sushi at Kai. I wasn't sure what to expect with small town sushi, but I was actually impressed!

Miriam, Angie and Me at Maria's (we also went to Flame *not pictured*)

I guess I really ate my way through Springfield (I mean, what's a vacation without food?) I also stopped at Pineapple Whip and my favorite Springfield Chinese, Lucy's.

Doing the hula at Pineapple Whip!

After getting back from Springfield I still had a few more days to hang out in Kansas City. I got together with my friend Rachel and her kids Lucy and Asher for a playdate.



We made pizza from scratch at home one night: Margherita (pictured), BBQ chicken with bacon, and white pizza with spinach, sausage and mushrooms. YUM!

Then my sister and I went out for tapas and gourmet ice cream (we're talking goat cheese, Thai curry, spiced chocolate, salted pretzel). So bizarre and fun!

All in all my trip to Missouri & Kansas was SO fun. The flight back was MUCH better too. Thanks to all of you who were praying for us. I was convinced I was going to arrive in a straight jacket or they were going to kick us off the plane in Ohio - but alas the screaming was kept to a minimum and we avoided a major meltdown. I'm sure we annoyed a FEW folks sitting around us with a bit more noise than they'd care for, but if they would have said anything I was all ready with "Honey, you should be thankful. This is NOTHING!"