Wednesday, July 30, 2008

For lunch tomorrow

Tomorrow we are taking a field trip to the Carl Sandburg house. Hey, if it's good enough for Laura Bush to visit on Monday, it's good enough for us. They do a children's play in the morning, which means that we've got to get up and out fairly (very) early to make it all the way out there in time to see it. We're going with a friend and her girls and we made plans to take lunch with us.

Unfortunately, I've been a little busy this week with buying a house, and I just didn't get around to the store to get supplies. Which meant a 10pm grocery store run. And an 11pm lunch making session.

Good times.

Since it's still way too hot to sleep here, I've decided to post my ultra-delicious lunch creation that even my kids l.o.v.e.

Cucumber Ranch Chicken Wraps

Aluminum foil
Large flour tortillas
Bagged salad (I used Field Greens, but you can use whatever)
Sugar snap peas (I love them, L likes them, and K thinks I'm torturing her with them)
Grilled chicken strips
Craisins (we like the cherry flavored ones)
Cucumber Ranch dressing (made by Kraft)

Tear off a square of aluminum foil larger than your tortilla and place it on the counter. Place one tortilla on top of the foil. Top the tortilla with some salad, peas, and chicken. Sprinkle craisins liberally over the top and pour on the dressing. Roll up the tortilla and wrap the foil securely around it.

The foil helps hold the wrap together while you eat it or you could even make this as a salad in a bowl. It's a great lunch option for the quickly approaching school year. Just pair it with some crinkle cut carrots and dip and you've got a healthy, cool lunch. Then toss in a Nutty Bar (like I did) and ruin the whole healthy aspect, but it's still healthier than a PB&J sandwich and some Cheetos, so it's all good.

"It's a Small World After All" - everyone join in!

Well, we made our decision. We are diving in head first and buying the townhouse. After considering all the pros and cons and all of them, the townhouse just came out as better for us.

So to tell you a little about it. I would include pics but I forgot my camera when we signed the papers today and handed over our first chunk of change. So you'll just have to deal with a brief description.

The exterior is stone, shake, and siding and very nice. The floors are wood, tile, and berber carpet (not sure what color yet since it hasn't been installed). The living room has a fireplace. The kitchen has tall dark cabinets, "Absolute Noir Caesarstone" countertops, and stainless steel appliances. There's a breakfast nook and a dining room. The large laundry room comes outfitted with black front-loader washer and dryer with pedestals. The master is downstairs and the bathroom has tall counters and fancy-schmancy faucets. Upstairs the girls have large matching rooms, a 2-sink bathroom, and there's a big loft for Mr. at Home to work from home.

As you can tell, it's got a phenomenal list of upgrades and I didn't even mention most of them. We got the complete list and it happened to have the name of the person who was originally going to buy the place and chose all the upgrades. I didn't really pay attention until the agent was walking us through the place today and mentioned that they had two kids. The pieces then clicked and I realized...

I know them. I go to Sunday School with them.

When their house hadn't sold yet, they had to release the townhome. Just as they had to release, we stopped in at the community and things worked out so that we're buying the home they designed. I love how God worked it all out.

We're closing in less than a month and so tonight the girls and I started packing. There are six boxes lined against the wall so we've got a tiny start. Anyone want to help?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oh, the joys of house hunting

Can you call it "house hunting" if you're not necessarily looking at houses?

The root of our problem is that our lease is up in 3 months. The rent is looking like it will go up considerably and it was already at the top of our comfort level. We are also on the 2nd floor, which doesn't work too well with 2 active kids to annoy the downstairs neighbors.

We have a few different options, but not one that just screams THIS IS THE ONE! 3 months is too far out really for rentals and too close for buying, but we're looking at both and a decision must be made, like totally, today. Or maybe tomorrow.

Option #1 - A *phenomenal* deal on a townhome that is being built now and will close at the end of August. This is the one thing that's pushing our decision to be made now. It's beautiful and looks like a safe, sound investment should we be required to sell it, though I would not plan to sell until we are 87. This option means we wouldn't have to worry about rent going up or having to move. We were not planning to buy yet, so it's unsettling to make a decision so quickly.

Option #2 - Another apartment. There's one with a great price and a brand new building. It's a bit small, but definitely workable and K claims it's her favorite. K's second favorite is another apartment with a better floor plan, but more expensive. With an apartment, there's no worry about maintenance, but you're at the mercy of market rental rates every 12 months.

Option #3 - Renting a townhouse or house from an individual. We can get some great places for a great price, but there is the risk of having an inattentive landlord. I looked at a condo this morning and I have an appointment for a house and a townhouse tonight. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment, but I want to see our options.

All kinds of ins and out, ups and downs, money and space to consider. Move-in dates, deposits, and addresses are swimming in my head, but hopefully, it will be settled soon and we'll have a plan.

And I love having a plan.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ah, the joys of 4

Right now...

heck, for the past 15 minutes...

L is in her room crying. Crying monstrous tears with loud whining sobs and a few incoherent words thrown in for effect.

The funny thing is, she hasn't come out to tell me *why* she's crying. Using my amazing psychic Supermom powers, I know that she's crying in frustration because she's trying to put clean sheets on her bed and it's not working out so well for her. I'm just not sure why she feels it's more productive to scream and cry than to simply ask for help.

It's just one of those 4-year-old things that no matter how much we work on that problem, it'll keep being a problem until the one moment one day that she just gets it.

Lest you think I'm a mean mom with unreasonable expectations, she asked me to wash her sheets and she asked me to get down her clean ones, so she wanted to try it herself. I simply let her. After all, this is the child who can fold a blanket and pull a full garbage bag out of a trash can nearly as tall as she is without making a mess *all on her own initiative*.

Since I started writing this post, L did come out for a paper towel to wipe her face and to complain that no one was helping her make her bed. We had a discussion about asking vs. crying and the bed is now made. Now to get her to help me fold laundry...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A post I've been meaning to write about techie stuff

Awhile back, Mr. at Home (aka, the cutting edge technology guru) dragged me kicking and screaming into the world of readers and RSS feeds and I have been kissing his feet ever since.

You see, I read quite a few blogs and I just don't have the time/energy/mental capacity to check each blog individually everyday so I would miss some really great posts without this great invention called Google Reader. There are other readers, by the way, but I use the Google one.

Here's how you sign up:

Go to and follow the instructions.

Here's how you use it:

1. I find a blog I really like. Or a part of the online newspaper I like.
2. I click the little orange symbol in the address bar (sometimes it's in one of the side margins on the web page)
3. I select the big blue button that appears and reads "Google Reader".
4. My Reader pops up with that site's last 10 posts for my reading pleasure.

Here's what's cool about it:

Instead of going to all the individual websites, you just go to your reader and every new post from all of your favorite websites is listed right there under "All items". You can read most of the posts and stories right there or you can click on the post title and read the post on it's own site. With this I don't miss a great post, like this one from Et tu? which prompted this post. By the way, when you start using your reader, you really ought to add to your reader list. As well as my blog, of course!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

From D.O.N.E. to Blessed!

Last night Mr. at Home walked in with groceries in hand. He sent me upstairs for a hot bath while he fed the girls and put them to bed. I came down to a wonderful dinner of filet mignon and baked potato by candlelight with ice cream for dessert. We then collapsed on the couch for some Without a Trace and What Not to Wear.

Pure absolute perfection of an evening.

Go ahead, be jealous, but you can't have my Mr. at Home :-)

Friday, July 25, 2008

I am so D.O.N.E.


I have a favorite response to the question of "How long do you plan to homeschool?"

My answer is "Well, we're doing it today and I'm pretty sure we're doing it tomorrow, too, but all bets are off after that."

Of course, if you were to ask me that question today, I would laugh maniacally and ask where the nearest elementary is. It's just been that kind of day/week. The worst part is that there's not really any *thing* I can blame for my foul mood and overwhelming desire to lock myself in my closet. So let's take a look at what the underlying causes might be.

1. We just got back from a long trip last week.
2. The girls spent the last month with Grandma and Grandad.
3. We started a short handwriting refresher course.
4. We had 2 boys visit on Wednesday, and one boy yesterday and today.
5. The household chores have been piling up with no time/energy to do them.
6. I went back on the elimination diet and ate only turkey, green beans, with the occasional grapes and fritos for several days. That's enough to make anyone grumpy. (The best, most fabulous thing is that I started taking my meds from the doc again and they're *working* this time!!)
7. I have got to organize my homeschool stuff to close out last year and finish my planning for this year, which is taking up a lot of my limited brain power.
8. Our lease is up in 3 months and I'm obsessing over what we're going to do about that.

I need to turn off my worry switch and just be for a little while. As I told Mr. at Home, I'm just tired of making decisions. At the moment, my biggest decision is whether to take my sorry self to the mall for some Barnes & Noble and Dairy Queen or simply stretch out here on the couch and sleep. And I don't even want to make that decision. It's quiet for the moment since Mr. at Home took the munchkins off somewhere, probably to save them from their Wicked Witch of a mom.

Oh wait, I hear the door. He brought me ICE CREAM. I love that man!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The girls all dressed up

Mr. at Home had a big presentation today in front of the senior senior senior senior management and had to go uptown in a dress shirt and tie. As a surprise, I decided to take him out for dinner after work (it didn't hurt that I got a gift card in the mail - score!). K upped the ante by proposing that we all dress up and make it a really special event.

So that's what we did.

Then the girls looked so cute that I just had to take picture.

Mini Me

Everyone accuses my older daughter K of looking just like me. So for all of you who think we're just alike, here's a side-by-side comparison.

My high forehead, my freckles, and my pointy chin, but she's got her daddy's eyes and his smile.

Summer Tour Stop #1 - Texas

While in Texas, we stayed with my parents along with my sister and her roommate and my other sister and her three boys. Which, if you're counting, means there were 12 people sleeping at my parents place. We used the house, the RV, and the cabin and there were still children sleeping on the floor. It was crazy, but fun to have everyone there. My sister's roommate Sammy (Sammi?) manages a Build-a-Bear and she brought all the kids tiny stuffed animals and lots of July 4th gear, so she was an instant favorite. They even dressed up Aunt Angela and dragged her into the picture (that's Aunt Bethany, the boys' mom, in the back).

While the girls were at Camp Grandma, K learned to hula-hoop and showed off her mad new skillz. Remember this fact because it will come into play in a later post.

We went to dinner with two of Mr. at Home's sisters and had such a great time at dinner that we went to a local park to continue the fun.

All in all a successful visit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beautiful Lengths

Today was the day.

THE Day.

The day that K has been working on for over a year.

The day that K got a haircut.

Today K had her 9" ponytail sliced off to donate to Beautiful Lengths, a charity run by Pantene to make wigs for female cancer patients. She was going for Locks of Love, but they had a minimum length requirement of 10" and K wasn't waiting for another inch of hair to grow. Beautiful Lengths only requires 8". So today K got a cute, sporty little bob that she loves and we have an envelope with a tail of beautiful honey blond hair ready to go.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Our vacation to the COUNTRY

Have I ever mentioned that my parents live in the country? No, really, it's the country. There are more animals than people in their neck of the woods. In fact, our very first adventure on our Summer Tour involved some of those animals.

Since Mr. at Home got off early on July 3rd, we decided to leave then and surprise the girls by showing up a few hours before they were expecting us. We almost didn't make it, though. Remember how they say most accidents happen within two miles of home? Maybe your parents' home counts, too. Our GPS (bless her heart) had us take this tiny dirt road out to my parents' area where the tiny bridge made of old boards almost stopped my heart, but it was the least of our problems. As we turned a corner, I saw something black in the ditch.


It was a group of several adults and piglets and Mr. at Home didn't see them until we were right on them when (naturally) they decided that was the perfect time to cross the road. We skidded and swerved and had both us and those pigs scared witless. We managed to avoid them all, even the one who decided to run a race with us for awhile. We even managed to stay on the tiny dirt road.

We did make it safely to my parents' house, where we, over the next four days, encountered cows, frogs, and guineas all blocking the road or bounding through the ditch straight for us.

Exciting times, my friends.

It's a regular menagerie around my parents' house. On one side are the horses, on the other side is the donkey that brays and causes the dogs across the street to bark like crazy. The bull frogs in the pond sound like the Sand People from Star Wars and they compete with the cicadas to keep you up at night. The girls watched a turtle walk up near the house, dig a hole, and lay her eggs before plodding back to the pond. Driving down those country roads, you'll see llamas and goats and tiny ponies. The rabbits will go bounding out of sight while the clueless deer that hangs out near the gun and rifle club stands and watches you. While we were down, a strange hybrid goose/swan moved into their pond. But that's better than the alligator that took up residence there a couple of years ago. Thankfully, he mysteriously disappeared after several attempts by the game warden to trap a 6-foot alligator in a 4-foot cage. The poor man couldn't figure out how the bologna kept disappearing.

After we left Texas for stop number 2 of our Summer Tour, we figured we'd left the animal excitement behind.

We were wrong.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Today I took K and L to Staples to buy ink for our printer that has this persnickety habit of refusing to print black and white documents if it's out of cyan and magenta ink. It makes no sense to me, but I was finally bullied by those "warning" messages (and it's refusal to do anything but blare those warning messages) into going out to get ink.

Do you know what they have smack dab in the middle of Staples?

School supplies. Bin after bin of colorful rulers, fresh boxes of crayons, and pencils with snazzy designs and glittery rubber grips.

I dutifully picked up the printer ink first, but then I wandered back to the education section and meandered past all those bins full of treasure. Does anyone else out there have a passion for new school supplies? The one thing I miss with homeschooling is going through the school supply list and seeing my kids decked out with new backpacks filled with shiny new folders (6, with brads in red, blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange) and boxes of baby wipes (are we sending them to the nursery or what?).

The lure of the supplies proved too strong and, reasoning that it would be special for the girls to have a few new things, each of them picked out a pencil bag with matching folder and ruler and I got some fun erasers and pencils. They happily packed their new and old supplies into their new pencil bags as soon as we got home and showed them off to Daddy.

Tomorrow morning - well, late tomorrow morning since I'm planning to take the girls to the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition rally at our church first thing tomorrow - we'll sit down with our new supplies and get working on some handwriting skills. The girls are so excited to start school again, and I have to admit I am, too. Especially now that my printer is cooperating again and I can actually print off some worksheets I need. Maybe I'll even go wild and print them in color.

Friday, July 18, 2008

And we're back

Yippee!! We're back in our own home, I'm on my own computer, watching the girls swim in our own pool, drinking water from my own fridge. Yep, life is good.

As you can imagine, I'm tired! I've got a zillion things to catch up on and school stuff to think about. I've decided to hold off on the full school program for a couple of weeks pending a decision about curriculum. Instead, we're going to dive into a study of North Carolina with an intensive week or two of concentrated study, then shorter lessons throughout the year complete with field trips around the state. Doesn't that sound fun? I'm hoping to convince some of our homeschool friends to join us. We also need to work on handwriting since K's cursive is beautiful, but her printing is sad, sad, sad. So we'll be doing writing starting Monday and pick up the state studies on the next Monday.

Today's funny quote from our trip is brought to you courtesy of L.

We were hiking on a short trail and in spite of having explained hiking and what we were doing a million times, L was still confused.

L: "Are we going somewhere? Where are we going?"
Me: "We're going to the waterfall."
L: "Why?"
Me: "To see it, because it's beautiful."
L: (jumping up and down in excitement with stars in her eyes) "Is it PINK?!?"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A midnight fried pie feast

I am breaking my rule about no posting during vacation for one funny story.

Yesterday we emptied our van so that we could get all 6 people in one car and we put the various bags and containers in our tent. It was mostly clothes, so we weren't too worried about anyone stealing it. As night fell, we lined all the bags along the front of our tent and everyone went to bed. It was hot (we are in Arkansas in July so what else would it be?), so I unzipped the bottom of the door to let in more air from the massive fan we have guarding our tent door.

Unfortunately, that fan was no match for a determined raccoon.

You see, one of the things I pulled out of our car was a small canvas cooler. I remembered that I had packed something inside of it, but I couldn't remember what and I didn't think much about it. If I had remembered that I had packed a sack of fried pies inside that cooler, it would've been in the car rather than just inside the door of our tent. But alas, that was not the case.

At some point during the night, a very brave and very hungry raccoon caught a whiff of the sweet, fruity goodness inside of that cooler. That little sucker *got into our tent*, pulled the cooler over onto it's side, opened the top flap, and pulled out that sack of fried pies. He then proceeded to sit right in front of the tent and devoured every single one, probably enjoying the cool breeze from the fan as a bonus. Mr. at Home said he heard the raccoon outside and this morning we found the sack and pie wrappers strewn across the dirt.

As always, there's a lesson in all this. Don't ever leave food in your tent, keep the tent flap zipped shut at all times, and don't trust a fan to guard your door. It can obviously be bribed into silence by hungry raccoons and fried pies.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Tomorrow we'll be in Texas and I get excited just picturing the mayhem that will happen when my girls see us pulling into the driveway. They've been gone for far too long. Not that I haven't fully appreciated the quiet, the peace, the ability to go out to dinner without ordering chicken nuggets, etc. I'm just ready to see them.

Over the next two weeks, we'll spend a few days in Texas with my family, a few days at China Camp in Oklahoma, a few days camping in Arkansas, and lots of time in the car burning gas. Woohoo! I worried about the security issues of telling the world we'll be out of town and away from the homestead for a couple of weeks, but

  • we live in a fairly quiet community
  • we have someone checking on our home
  • we have a security system known as Tinker, the cat, who would trip up any would-be burglar by winding herself around his legs begging for food
  • we don't have anything here worth stealing anyway
I have made the decision that I will not be blogging during our trip. It would be difficult to get a connection and we'll be busy doing, you know, family bonding and all that. So I am officially disconnecting for 2 weeks. I'm not even taking my laptop with me.

I totally twitched when I typed that last sentence.

I am taking pens, a notebook or two, and my Bible. I plan to get some writing and studying done the old-fashioned way - hard-cover Bible (not, paper (not Pages), and longhand (not typing). Don't worry, I'll be sure to write down all the funny stuff that happens on our trip and post it when we get back.

As for now, I am signing off and getting back to packing and cleaning. See you in two weeks!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

In which Grandma discovers that L is so very 4

My two girls have been at Camp Grandma with Head Counselor Grandad for over 2 weeks now. They've been swimming, having playdates, visiting family, watching movies, and doing VBS. That's a pretty busy schedule even for me, and I'm used to the energy required to keep up with the kids.

They're winding down all the entertainment and spent the day getting my Granny moved from the rehab hospital and settled into a nursing home.

Well, at least one of my kids was involved.

L, it seems, has been acting out and getting into things that she shouldn't. This is my child who has issues with boundaries. Earlier this week, she let all the air out of the mattress she's been sleeping on. While Grandma was blowing it back up, L found Grandma's perfume. And liberally doused herself with it.


When the girls were told the plans for today, K decided that she didn't want to drive ALL THE WAY out there, so she spent the day with her Great-Grandmother. L was not allowed to stay there since Great-Grandmother's house isn't exactly child-proof and after the perfume incident, Grandma didn't trust her around all those medicine bottles. Good call. I'm also thinking K might have needed some quiet time away from her high-energy little sister.

While my mom was telling me all this today, I heard her pause and say, "No, L! Get up off that floor! It's dirty!" Yep, L is also in the habit of checking out the comfort of public floors. For no apparent reason.

We're scheduled to arrive at Camp Grandma on Friday and I think my parents will be just as glad as the girls to see the reinforcements riding in.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More cool organization and redecorating stuff

First I have to sing the praises of Rocks in My Dryer's Works-For-Me Wednesday. Last week, her #1 link was on closet organization and I thought it was such a great idea that I implemented it.

I installed a shower stall rod in L's closet and now her beloved dresses hang low enough that she can reach them herself. I liked how it turned out so well that I went out and bought another one to hang her dress-up clothes on the other side. I then added a set of hanging shelves and her closet is now a masterpiece of apartment closet efficiency.

I also jazzed up her cabinet with princess stickers.

On a final note for K's room, she had asked me to give her sister the tall castle shelves that held her impressive collection of stuffed animals.

Which led to the question, "What the heck do I do with all these stuffed animals?"

My solution was a $2 fish net from the craft store and a few nails. K will be thrilled.

Going through detox

No, not *that* kind of detox. Sheesh, people.

This kind of detox. A friend sells it and told me about a testimonial from a woman who claimed it completely got rid of her chronic hives. At that, I was sold. Hey, it couldn't hurt and maybe it would finally be the miracle cure for these hives I've had *for 2 years*. My friend said she was going to try it, too, and we could do it together. It finally came in and we started yesterday morning.

It comes in tiny beautiful blue bottles that you mix into 32 oz. of water. Imagine my surprise when the water turned into this.

Hellooooo, this stuff looks more toxic than anything it could be getting out of my system. Now look closely at it and I think you can even get a pretty good idea of how it tastes. In reality, the taste isn't as bad as it could be; it's the aftertaste that gets you.

Surprisingly, I'm not as grossed out by the taste today. I guess it just goes to show you can get used to anything. Next thing you know, I might even start drinking Diet Coke.

Yeah, like that'll ever happen.