Friday, July 31, 2009

I have officially turned into my Mother...

I remember being little, and seeing my Mom and her post twin-babies belly, and wondering how in the hell it got like that. Where the skin kind of moves on its own and can be stretched and twisted.

And as much weight as I have lost in the past three years, all the running I have been logging lately, the abs crunches, the late nights at the gym, I can't get rid of my "I gained 40 pounds with both kids" belly. There is muscle under there, but I am thinking that the only way to get my stomach in any way, shape or form to be able to ever wear a two-piece bathing suit in front of people I know would be surgery. And that ain't happening. Unless I win the lottery I don't play. Or Ray sells a four million dollar home. Then we have to fight over a tummy tuck for me or a new Jeep for Ray.

And the stretch marks. It was sad. I had stretch marks below my belly button with Ashley, and then because those were so nice and pretty, with Audrey, I got them stretched above my belly button. Fantastic.

So last night, I was reading the girls their books before bed, and my shirt was showing my stomach somewhat. And the girls became fascinated with the fact that I had lines on my stomach, and if they hurt, and how my skin could move and stretch, and how their stomachs were nice and tight.

I am blaming my Mother for this one.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Email and Technology

I have had my personal email account with Yahoo! since I was a freshman in college, which is fine. The only thing is it is not related to my current name (unless Ray wants to divorce me, and that ain't happening) and I have had it for so long, the amount of emails I get to that account daily is CRAZY. There are days when I stay on top of it, and days where I just don't. And then I blink, and I have over 100 emails logged into that account, sitting and waiting for some sort of attention.

The closing keynote at the Blogher conference talked about unplugging and doing certain things to stay on top of things like email. The one lady speaking said she declares email bankruptcy on the first day of the month. She files all those old emails away into a monthly folder and moves on.

I should totally do that. Except I am thinking of doing it weekly. And if I haven't gotten to it, it doesn't get moved, it gets deleted.

And these aren't emails from friends or family, I tend to see these come across and answer them immediately. It's all the other emails - the Kraftfood emails that hold the recipe I want to try, or the PR pitch from someone wanting to send me something that might interest me or my readers. Or it's the emails for Twitter, saying someone new is following me. Or a coupon for Gap. Or a sale at Lowes Foods.

The other thing about technology is unplugging. As you can probably guess, Ray and I spend a lot of time on computers, whether it is my laptop at work or at home, as well as on our iPhones. I never just sit at a traffic light anymore. I Twitter, or check email, or check the weather.

I jokingly texted (is that a word?) Ray while I was in the session at the conference and told him we should have a turn off technology night once a week. He often brings my laptop into bed with him (his laptop will only work with a mouse, and it is kind of hard to work in bed with a mouse and mouse pad). I am often checking email or doing schoolwork in the evenings as soon as the kids are in bed. He laughed at the suggestion, as being a Real Estate agent running his own company means he is constantly attached to his phone and his computer.

But I think turning off electronics for one night a week would work for me as the weekends I could do without. For Ray, it is a little harder since the weekends are really when he gets a ton of calls. And if he unplugs on the weekends, it would just mean his weeks will be more packed.

Any suggestions? Who "unplugs" in their house? I am thinking I want this to be for the whole family, where we all unplug from electronics such as TV and iPods. But we shall see.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rolling through

Sunday was my Stepmom's birthday, and every night I remember to call her at about 10:00pm. When she is in bed most likely. So Happy Birthday Diane!

We are back to some resemblance of a schedule this week. The kids are sleeping well (except for Audrey joining us every night at some point, but at least she is sleeping) and knock on wood, Ashley has had a good week so far at school. Smiley faces everyday in her daily report home. Which basically means she hasn't been blurting out answers and has been raising her hand. I realize this is a basic concept, but for whatever reason, Ashley is having a hard time with this in her new school year. I (and her teacher) think she just wants to see what she can and cannot get away with. Unlucky for her, her first grade teacher is pretty strict with that sort of thing.

Ray unfortunately has a head cold or allergies or some sort of manifestation of what Ashley and Audrey had last week. So he is miserable, but functioning.

This getting back to a schedule is just in preparation for August where dance and cheerleading starts. Ashley and Audrey are both in dance this year, and Ashley will have cheerleading practice two nights a week in August, with games started in September for her to cheer at. I need to get some meals frozen this week in preparation for the craziness that is about to come.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Long time no see

I realize this blog has been slightly neglected the past few days. A few events occurred, and I just didn't get online to blog.

The funeral Thursday was beautiful for my Grandma. She is buried close to where I grew up, where my Grandparents home is. It was good to see family I haven't seen in decades, even though the circumstances on why I was seeing them was crap.

After the funeral, my brother and his wife drove me to Dulles airport so I could leave for Chicago and Blogher09. This was of course a change from my previous plans, but it worked out. My flight into Chicago was slightly delayed, but my friends were at the hotel eating dinner by the time I got there.

And how great it was to see a friend who I hadn't seen in way too long - since probably 1994. My best friend from high school. The one I set a hotel room on fire with. The one I doubled dated for our senior prom with. The one who would sometimes get called my name, and I would get called her name. The one I lost touch with, and found again on the internet.

So SJ and I got to hang out for a long weekend, along with a few new friends - Mrs. Ca and Jenny. And there was Mrs. CPA who was not a new friend for me, but now an old friend who was a riot to hang out with again.

And then there was dinner with Lostasock, who was not attending but lived close enough and answered my crazy emails of meeting for dinner. She graciously drove in from Indiana to eat dinner with us.

I got home yesterday with lack of sleep to two beautiful girls who actually let me take a nap yesterday afternoon. And Ray, who wanted to know what I learned at this conference. Unfortunately, since I was volunteering at the event (and scored a free sold-out ticket to the conference), I didn't get to attend some of the Geek Lab sessions where I am pretty sure I would have a learned a ton. I did get to attend some really good sessions, and you can go here to see the live blogs about them.

But ah, the aftermath of drama that I am sure you can read about on multiple blogs or on twitter this morning. You can't get 1,500 women together without just a teeny bit of drama. There's the people mad at the people who got mad at Nikon for not letting them bring a baby to a loud and dark bar for an invite only event. There's the people mad about the craziness of swag bags. There's the people mad at the vibrators in the swag bags. There's the people mad about the naked woman who streaked multiple times through the hotel family-filled lobby.

I am not a huge blogger, not an "A-lister". I was not invited to any "invite only" events. I was there to hang out with SJ, get some free stuff, meet some new people, learn a few things, eat some good food, laugh over drinks.

But I will summarize what I did get out of the event in the ever so popular bullet points:
- Dresses with pockets rock
- Not losing my iPhone which I was petrified would happen also rocks
- Having my roommates realize I left the present for my kids in the room and run it down to me as I was getting on the shuttle for the airport was great
- Twitter is one powerful social media tool, and finally getting Tweetdeck on my computer was good too
- I really need to get on Google Reader
- Riding in an elevator with Marlboro Man and his kids was really, really cool; meeting The Pioneer Woman was awesome as well - she was so nice even when psycho me went up to her as she was waiting for a cab

I am glad I went - glad I got to see a really cool city like Chicago (definitely taking the kids there) and glad I got to see SJ. But I am also glad to get back to reality this week and back on some sort of schedule. Last week was crazy and nuts. Both kids weren't feeling well, Ashley had a bad day at school one day, the funeral, the change in travel plans. I think getting back to "normal" this week will just what we need.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I remember days of bologna and cheese sandwiches. I remember sitting on her porch swing, listening to the bugs. I remember playing her made up sort of charades game where my brother and I had to figure out what her occupation was. I remember lazy days of playing outside. I remember helping her do chores. I remember telling her I was a tomgirl, not a tomboy.

I remember her walking us to the end of the dirt road to the bus stop everyday. I remember the excitement we would get when the "UPS" man would show up, or the time when the school bus actually drove up the dirt road. I remember waking up to the mouse on my head and the frantic search for it, all the while my brother slept.

I remember the pancakes she would make my brother and I for breakfast, the ones that were so huge they were almost never cooked all the way through. I remember eating spaghetti and coleslaw, biscuits and gravy, fried apple pies.

I remember listening to blue grass music and standing in front of the window air conditioning unit in the heat of the summer. I remember tall glasses of sweet tea, with more sugar than was probably healthy for a little girl.

I remember when she would make homemade jam and keep it in the building next to her trailer. I remember the chicken coop, the huge sandbox my brother would spend hours in, the tree swing. I remember her goldfish that lived for what seemed like 20 years. I remember the stacks and stacks of Harlequin romance books.

I remember the day my Mom was in a car accident and broke her neck. I was sitting at my Grandma's house, doing homework. After that, my Mom was set up in a hospital bed at my Grandma's house since she had to spent the next few months in a halo. I remember washing her hair on the front porch.

On Monday, my maternal Grandmother passed away. I am choosing to keep in my mind the memories I have of her from my childhood, the ones where I spent every summer day with her. I choose not to keep in my memory the visit from last December, where she didn't know who I was and didn't know where she was.

Rest in peace, Grandma.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Ashley

Every year, I try and sit down and write a letter to the girls on their birthdays. It's hard to do this, sit down and remember the past year and what they are becoming. It's hard since I know time is slipping by too quickly, that soon I will look back and read these and ache to have that little girl back.

And Ashley had such an eventful year.


This year was full of stuff: there was lost teeth (three to be exact), first day of kindergarten, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, camps, weeks with the Grandparents, playdates and sleepovers. There were tears and laughs and learning how to ride as fast as you can on your scooter. There were frustrations with your two-wheeled bike, but as long as you have your scooter, you could care less.

And each day, you become more and more like me. You worry about everything - where certain toys are, where your favorite bathing suit is. You worry about schedules - when are we doing what and where and how. You keep asking me what time it is. And you really think sometimes that you are the Mommy.

You love your friends and your sister with more love than we thought possible. Every night, you let your sister climb into your bed and lay on you to give you a hug goodnight. Even if Audrey sometimes clocks you in the face, you still let her do it. And your friends are who you often think of first. On vacations, you want to buy them presents to bring back to them.

And how you are most like me? You like to talk. And talk and talk. And this talking is getting you in trouble in school. And this is where we differ. I was afraid to get in trouble in school, and did what I could do avoid it. You seem to like to challenge your teachers and see how much you can get away with.

Your kindergarten teacher told us she had never seen anyone like you. You can act like are not listening - humming, talking, not paying attention - yet when she would ask you what she just said, you could repeat it word for word. It's like you need a million things going on to make it work. And that is alot like me too.

Lately, you want to sleep in bed with me because going to sleep with my arm around you is the best thing in the world. And I would do it every night, but that's not the best for you. I still come in every night and give you a kiss and make sure the covers are the way you like them. And you look so beautiful and peaceful, I could watch you sleep all night long.

Happy 6th Birthday Ashley!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Land of the lost teeth

Ashley's top tooth has been loose since January. Seriously. Not really, really loose, but moveably loose. And then Monday this week, it was REALLY loose, as in she could just about turn it completely around. Which she liked to do to gross Ray out.
(Ignore how TIRED she looks...she has been going to bed at 7:00pm, but sleeping? Not good this week.)

And then yesterday at school, she bit into her cheeseburger, and poof. Out came her tooth. She was so freaking excited because all she wanted was to lose her tooth at school so she could to the office to get the tooth necklace to wear around her neck.
And the tooth necklace now? It is under Audrey's pillow. She says that it is her tooth that came out, and that the tooth fairy is coming for her as well. I mean really, who doesn't believe this face?

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I want this t-shirt....
Isn't it great? I've got all sorts of balls up in the air right now...(improving Ashley's behavior in school (yes, that again), getting ready mentally for blogher next week, schoolwork, running, work, blah, blah, blah). This t-shirt just made me smile.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I failed to let everyone know what happened this past weekend.

For starters, Ray went to Virginia to help his brother move on Friday, and came home on Saturday about 4:00pm. Just in time for me to go to a neighbor's to scrapbook and for him to take 2 tired kids to a birthday party (hehehe, I got the better end out of that deal, that's for sure).

So me, solo time with the kids, which is fine. I was going to take them on a bike ride to the Farmer's Market in our town on Saturday morning (since I couldn't do my usual run), and then to the pool. But the weather looked kind of iffy, so we decided to paint toenails, and the drive to the Farmer's Market and then see what else to do.

I banned Ashley to my bathroom with the nail polish because it would be my luck for her to get it on our carpet.

Ha! That was fate laughing at me.

While waiting for me to cut Audrey's toenails, Ashley sat on the side of my bathtub with the open bottle of redish-pinkish nail polish and accidentally knocked it into the bathtub.

Just so you know, nail polish remover DOES NOT WORK. Just in case you were curious. So plan B - go to Farmer's Market and then to Walmart to get Magic Eraser (or red paint as someone on twitter suggested to me) as that was the only thing Google said would work.

And yes, there is currently still nail polish in my tub as it takes a lot of elbow grease to get it out.

That was debacle #1. The second one came on Sunday morning. I had taken the girls to a park to ride their scooters after scrubbing and scrubbing the bathtub on Saturday. We had a nice picnic lunch and played. So Ashley's scooter was still in the van when she wanted to ride it on Sunday.

And being the independent little thing she is, she proceeded to go out the garage, open the back hatch to the van (by pushing the button, it is an automatic lift), and then also proceeded to try and open the garage door.

Our van barely fits in the garage (mainly because of all of our crap), and it definitely does not work if the back is open on the van.

So that order of events put a few scratches on the back of our van. Not really all that bad, and again, it was an accident.

I think I need to put my house in a bubble.

But the girls did have fun at the birthday party, as evident from these pictures:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I can sleep when I am dead

Yes, I listen to country music and like that song by Jason Michael Carroll hits close to home this week.

Ashley is back in the saddle of crappy sleeping, accentuated by nightmares and the inability to let go of my arm to actually fall asleep.

Audrey has also decided to get in on the fun, coming into our room in around 4:00am the past 2 nights. I think she was feeling left out.

So I go to bed at 11:00pm, get woken up by the dog wanting in bed at 11:21pm, and then get woken up at various points in the night, only to have my alarm clock go off at 5:50am.

Good times in my house. So, sleep is obviously not a priority for me right now. I have started my final class for my master's degree (without the student teaching part, who knows when that will happen), I have a birthday party this weekend, and then the following weekend is Blogher. And I am pretty darn sure there won't be any sleep there either. Especially since I am doing this:

The fun run is at 6:30am on Friday morning. I don't even land in Chicago until 7:30pm Thursday night. Should be interesting, but at least Carmen said she would run it with me. Hopefully she won't think I am a turtle due to my slow running...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ashley's Birthday Party

I have grand plans for Ashley's birthday party that wasn't supposed to be a birthday party because we told her she could only have one friend sleep over which turned into three friends which turned into "I want to have a few more friends over for cupcakes" which turned into Mommy breaking out her crazy planning skills and deciding we would have a cupcake decorating party.

Whew. And it's almost here.

We are only inviting the girls she plays with on our street (which there are 5) and one other girl who is spending the night.

I googled "cupcake party" and was hit with millions of choices and ideas and games and food. I am attempting to keep it simple.

Banners - I am going to make one just like this.
These things (instructions here)

And these I found on this blog (not the cake, the other things...)
I am keeping this party short - only 1 1/2 hours. So we will obviously decorate some cupcakes with a cupcake bar and fondant. I found a few games we could play if needed, and we will be making a cupcake bracelet.

The cupcakes. I haven't really thought about anything else.

Goody Bags:
There really isn't a goody bag per se, I have bought cupcake boxes so they can take one of their cupcakes they decorate home. I also have bought aprons and cupcake patches, and there are the bracelets. I did see cupcake bandaids and lipgloss, but I think if I order one more thing off the internet for this party, my debit card will explode.

And then I will send the girls home, and hopped up on sugar! Sorry neighbors!

Did I mention I haven't started doing any prep for this? Yea, getting on that this week....

Friday, July 10, 2009


It is the word I currently hate the most. Ashley has been using this word for the past few weeks in not a nice way.

As in I tell her to do something, and she says, "whatever". Overnight she turned into repressed teenage girl whose Mom let's her do nothing at all.

She has been punished every time she has said it. She has lost her scooter, desserts, and she has sat in timeouts. Eventually we will erase the word from her vocabulary if it is the last thing we do.

I mean seriously, SHE'S FIVE (okay, really almost six, but STILL).

She's knows it irks me and is disrespectful. And so help me if she says it to another adult, I swear she won't see the light of day for a week. Or two.

As far as where she learned it from?

Um, supposedly me, but I don't really remember ever saying it. I don't, but if I did, well then, my fault, but that doesn't mean she should say it either.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

First week of school

Ray and I have decided we officially do not like the first week of school. Ashley is so freaking tired from being in the class all day and not on whatever schedule she was on previously that she is not fun to be around in the evenings. I gave her bath and read books and put her to bed right after 7:00pm last night. And she slept until her alarm went off at 7:00am.

But as far as liking school and first grade, she loves it. She is so a little version of me. I loved school, still do.

Homework starts next week for her because according to Ashley, the teacher is still trying to figure out what the kids can and can't do. And then Ashley started naming the few kids in her class that still don't know their letters sounds. Hmm, interesting.

We are happier this year too that Ashley no longer eats lunch at 10:20am, but at a more normal time of 11:00am. She is still starving when she gets home, but at least when I go meet her for lunch now, it won't be as bad to eat cafeteria pizza at 10 o'clock in the morning.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Stove Top Challenge - Week 2

I realize this was supposed to be posted last week, but hey, I try. I will post this week's tomorrow as we are eating it tonight.

I try to think of some non-chicken dishes to use Stove Top. I saw while perusing the Kraft Kitchens website a recipe with chili and cornbread stuffing.

So I adapted it to my chili recipe, and here it is:

Chili-Cornbread Stuffing Bake

1 pound ground turkey
1 season pack of Lawry's chili seasoning (or whatever chili seasoning you use)
1 bottle of Heinz chili sauce, 12 ounce bottle
1 box of Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1. Brown the turkey meat and drain. Add the chili seasoning and chili sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes.
2. Combine the Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing with the water.
3. In a 2 quart casserole dish, place the chili on the bottom and sprinkle the cheese on top. Cover with the Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing.
4. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

The cost? I am going to have to guesstimate again, as I had all these ingredients on hand. I pulled these prices off the internet:
Ground Turkey - I am going to guess $3.00
Lawry's Seasoning Mix - $1.29 (per their website)
Heinz Chili Sauce - $2.49
Stove Top Cornbread Stuffing - $1.74 (price at Walmart)
Cheddar Cheese - $1.00 - (bought at 2 cup pack for $2.00 at Walmart)

So total cost of the meal? $9.52. Another economical meal.

Did the family like it? I actually served the kids theirs in a tortilla, without the stuffing. Yes, I tricked them into thinking they were eating tacos, but it worked. Ray liked it as well.

Tonight - Velveeta, chicken and stuffing....yummmm.

First Day

There's a ton I need/have to/want to blog about. I still need to load pictures from the 4th from my camera, as well as pictures from today, Ashley's first day of first grade.

And no, I did not cry, although it was hard. She has an actual desk, with workbooks and books and stuff, no more big table like she had in kindergarten. Audrey and I walked Ashley into her class today. It was semi-chaotic with it being the first day and the teachers trying to figure out what transportation the kids took to school and such. I helped Ashley load her stuff in her desk, and then helped another little girl who Ashley knows from cheerleading.

I left her coloring a picture and she seemed so big.

Audrey moves classrooms this week as well at her school. She is moving to the Preschool room, and this is where the learning really takes off. They work on one letter of the alphabet a week. She gets to move up with her best friend at school, so she is happy.

So onward to posting. I need to fill everyone in on my running, me getting to attend Blogher in Chicago later this month for free, the poison ivy I have once again, but this time on my arm. I need to post some Stove Top recipes, and a few giveaways on my review site. Seems like this Tuesday is going to be a busy day.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Here are some of my favorites from last weekend at the Outer Banks. I am off today from work, Audrey's school is closed, but Ashley is at camp, so Audrey and I are going to have a Day-O-Fun, just her and me, which I can't think of a time when this has happened.

Audrey giving some turtle love at the Aquarium at Roanoke Island.

Jockey's Ridge, before we started the climb.

And yes, we made it all the way up that big dune. Without any whining, crying or complaining!

A very rare shot of me, I was afraid I was going to actually drop my camera, so Ray had it. We were on the top of Currituck Lighthouse.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Terrible Three's

I don't believe in the Terrible Two's. They don't exist in my house.

It's the three's.

I had a good friend tell me once the halves are worse than the wholes. Meaning, 3 1/2 would be much worse than 3.

And how freaking true in my house.

Audrey has been a little bit of a pill lately. When she wants something, she screams. I mean really screams. I am attempting to talk to her in a calm voice to get her to stop. Sometimes it works, other times people look at me like I have three heads.

Like at Walmart last night. I mistakenly went past the display for the fruit snacks. Stupid on my part. We refuse to buy those baby-crack items anymore since when we have them in our house, that's all Audrey wants. So of course she saw them and wanted them. And started to cry. Really, really loud.

I just kept pushing the cart telling her she could pick out another snack - how about some Goldfish? Crackers? Cheetos? (Yes, I realize the nutritional value in Cheetos is probably much worse than fruit snacks, but still).

She started to calm down. I explained to her how to ask nicely if she wanted something, not to scream.

And then I went into the ice cream aisle. I think I left my brain at home for this Walmart run. But they had ice cream things like Dippin' Dots for $1, so I let both the girls get one. After asking nicely, and not in the whiny, crying way that Audrey had been speaking in, they both got some ice cream and were happy.