Saturday, May 30, 2009

Weekend Top Five

Actually, I'm, not going to do a weekend top five this week. My 36th birthday was Saturday, and a very busy day. I will post about it on Thursday for my T13. On Sunday, after a very rough morning at church, we stayed home and had a very nice relaxing afternoon around the house. Instead, I want to share some of the foliage improvements I made around the yard this weekend.

If you used to follow my old blog last year, I had an ongoing saga about a little plant I had received. After killing it and bringing it back to life many times, I blogged along the way. It had QUITE the following I must say.

I haven't mentioned it this year, but when I was doing other work in the yard, I HAD to show a picture of how well it is doing this year. It went from this last year :

to this year being a beautiful full plant. No buds though...maybe next year.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about transplanting our little cherry tree in the back, leaving a big gaping hole in the front:

We filled the home in this weekend with a new baby lilac tree. I hope it grows and catches up with the two next to it soon.

Noah wanted in on the planting action when we went to the flower store for my birthday to get the lilac bush he picked up on little tray of petunias that were pretty to him and I told him he could plant them anywhere he wanted. He had a whole yard to find a little corner to plant his flowers.

But instead, he made four tiny little holes in the MIDDLE of the yard, and planted his little flowers.

Do think they will survive the entire summer of Daddy mowing the lawn? I will do my best to protect, but we'll see. I'll have to keep you posted.

So, as I bring my little foliage tour to an end, I will share one bit of annoyance (you already know if you're a facebook friend) I have found in my yard.

Some neighborhood dog has decided that a certain spot smack dab in the middle of my backyard lawn is the perfect spot to consistently do his number two duty. I cant catch it in the act, but if I do, that owner will be getting quite a mouthful. I can't believe anyone would be so rude as to allow their dog to do that.

The Week Ahead:
Finishing up school (and taking lots of pictures of end of school activities), putting an ad on Craig's List for Pumpkin (I've had it with him), REALLY REALLY REALLY need to call the doctor and get those hormones going again, and figure out a way to maybe pay a bill or two to keep everything from getting shut off.

Let me know if you posted your weekend so I can come visit.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sigh of Relief From School

I know it's the weekend and I am supposed to be turning the computer off. But since Steve is out singing and I am here alone, I thought I wold share a piece of happy news I got today regarding Noah's school for next year.

One of the reasons I think he had much a better year this year (one of SO many) is that his teacher this year was so much more structured than the kindergarten teacher was. It was just what he needed.

photo: Noah's teacher this year on a field trip to the library where she was a character in a play that the teachers and parents put on for the students.

I was very worried about the 2nd grade teacher next year because she was fairly new and also didn't seem to have nearly the structure to her classroom.

Noah had "Moving Up Day" today where they visit the class for next year. Turns out the 2nd grade teacher has decided to go to part time and his teacher for next year will be a woman who has been an aide in the 3rd and 4th for years, but also has 12 years of classroom teaching experience on her own as well. I know her and really like her.

I am still very sad to be saying good bye to Mrs. T though. She was truly the best thing that could have ever happened this year. But now I am hopeful for what next year will bring, both for Noah and for Aaron.

See you Monday with my Top Five.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Skinny Cows: Yummy

I used to be skinny.

For a short period of time, right before I got pregnant for Noah, I was skinny.

I had taken a family trip to Disney World and when we got the pictures back, I was appalled at how heavy I had become. The next week, I joined Weight Watchers and learned how to count points and make good food choices.

There were a few things that made Weight Watchers successful for me that time. The main ones were ham subs at Subway and Skinny Cows.

I remember going to a meeting (this was in 2001) where they were all talking about these new ice cream sandwiches. We finally had yummy ice cream that had two points only. We could eat for the day and still have a treat at night.

I was hooked!

I ran right out and bought them. At the time, there were three flavors, chocolate, vanilla, and mint sandwiches. I loved them all. Skinny Cow has expanded their line of products since then.

For now, my days of being skinny are over. I have quite the sweet tooth that I overindulge WAY too often.

So when I got a chance to be reintroduced to Skinny Cows, I jumped at it.

They have several more varieties than they had back then. In addition to the ice cream sandwiches, they have really yummy chocolate fudge ice cream cones and truffle bars.

The points values for weight watchers are here on their website and they range from 1 to 3 points depending on the item you choose. The website also has all the other nutrition information as well.

The items are a little on the pricey side, since there are only 4-6 items in a package, but so is going out for ice cream, and this way you can indulge and have much less guilt.

The kids liked them as well, even though we didn't tell them that they were a "healthy" treat. Even my hubby, who generally steers clear of any of the healthier alternatives of ice cream I buy, really liked the chocolate fudge ice cream cones.

Definitely a yummy way to have a yummy summer ice cream reat, and not completely blow your diet.

This review was sponsoderd by Mom Central.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: School's Almost Out

Anyone who has ever read my posts knows how far my son Noah has come in his schooling. In kindergarten, he was pretty much a nightmare behaviorally. After quite a few adjustments, he has had a great year in first grade. He has grown so much and I am blown away by the change in him. As I write this, I am sad to be saying good bye to the teacher he had this year, who has made all the difference in the world. I wish she could just follow along with us through the years.

Here are thirteen things I will remember about Noah's year in first grade.

1. First day of school. This shirt doesn't even fit him anymore and has been passed on to his brother

2. Friday Recess Duty
My favorite times were taking the class sledding, playing hangman while they finished lunch, and watching Aaron interact with the "big kids"

3. Taking Pumpkin The Cat to school for Show And Tell

4. Going to the library every week to fill the bag full of books for FRED (free reading every day) time.

5. Watching Noah play "Nutcracker' on the bells for his Christmas program

6. Watching Aaron make friends with three seventh grade girls who waited for him at the fish tank every morning, and who declared him their "BFF"

7. Friday Morning All school Assemblies (called Flag Raising) when students got "character" awards and sometimes the first graders presented little programs to the entire student body.

8. Getting to know the other parents of kids in his class better. Last year I avoided everyone like the plague.

9. Field trip to a play where a fire drill went off just as the kids were getting seated and Noah discovering something sticky in his hair, which he proceeded to have the entire class touch.

10. Watching the progress from reading simple sight words to reading books

11. School carnival in which Steve ended up running the game we were supposed to man the entire time.

12. Being able to reward him when he would have a perfect week behaviorally.

He got these speed stacks for THREE PERFECT WEEKS in a row.

13. Watching him continue in his preference for friendships with girls over boys

Six days of school left. Woo Hoo!

Next year I will have two boys in school and the memories will continue to grow. For now, we will just work to get through the last week of school and start our summer adventure.

Did You Miss The Giveaway?

I hate to admit this, but I sometimes skim through other people's reviews of products. It's not that I'm not interested in their opinions of products, but if it is too wordy, then I will skim through to find the main points.

Which you may be doing right now

And that's okay

But you may have missed my giveaway in your skimming and I want to give you a chance at it.

I have the chance to give away a three month membership to Jumpstart Online. It is a very fun interactive website that my kids beg to visit every day.

Just click on this post to enter.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Favorite Website

If you're anything like me, you are always to find new websites that have information from other parents ho may be struggling with similar issues as you.

I have found one that I immediately bookmarked. It is called Mamapedia (Mom+encyclopedia) and it replaces numerous other "mommy" sites that I have found.

Check it out at

It is extremely well rounded. It has answers to health questions, but also about how to deal with kids during a foreclosure, summer camp locations in different areas, and even young love. It is so easy to use and I guarantee you will end up bookmarking it as well.

Some of the searches I have performed:

end of year teacher gifts
sibling rivalry
sensory processing disorder
auditory processing disorder
Red Dye 40
summer fun activities
appropriate sports for different ages

I am loving this site and I strongly encourage you to visit.

Through the site, you can also sign up to be part of the mamasource community. When I did this, I get an email each morning about different topics on the site, and I have found some interesting articles on topics that I would not have thought of otherwise.

I was even able to put an ad on the mamasource site for private piano lessons as a private business. I haven't gotten any response yet, but I also searched in the site for other moms who are running home based businesses in our area.

This review was sponsored by

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weekend Top Five 5/26/09

It's been an emotional weekend for my family members and I appreciate all of the prayers sent our way. Please continue those prayers...they are needed and appreciated.

As for the weekend adventures for our family, we stayed pretty busy. It's hard to believe that we even need to head back to school tomorrow. It seems to me that summer should start now. But nevertheless, we are heading back for 8 more days of school. The kids are very grumpy and we put them both to bed super early Monday night, hoping for better behavior this week.

5. Bad Mommy Again
While I was making lunch on Friday, Aaron called from the basement (where he was playing our piano) that his foot was bloody. He came upstairs and I saw a little blood streak on the top of his foot. I went to go wipe it and the saw IT...gushing blood from the bottom of his other foot. His foot had found a small piece of glass from a glass that had broken down there ages ago.

Slight panic...I couldn't get it to stop bleeding, even after almost a half hour of constant pressure. It was too small for stitches and I didn't have any liquid bandage. After a little while longer, and a VERY impatient four year old begging me to leave his foot alone, I cut regular band aid lengthwise and stretched it super tight across his foot.

It was fine until close to bedtime when I took the band aid off to check it out. Sure enough, eight hours later it started to bleed again. This time Steve was home and I was able to run and get some liquid bandage.

New rule in our going in the basement barefoot again.

4. Playworld

Yup. We ended up at Playworld for a few hours again Saturday night. It is just such a nice place for them to be able to run wild, which they really needed.

Noah got a little tired of running around and took over camera duty for me. Steve and I were his favorite targets.

3. Afternoon at the In-Laws
After early church on Sunday, we headed up north to spend the day with Steve's parents. There are always stories from theses visits, and this was no different. The kids did have fun swimming in the community pool.

But the highlight of the day for Steve AND the boys was something that apparently Steve and his older brothers spent every weekend doing while camping when he was growing up.

Steve took Noah and Aaron into the woods and searched for dead trees. Then, with various amounts of energy exerted, they pushed them over. I didn't really get the must be a boy thing.

2. Chore Bucket
This idea stemmed from a discussion I had with my MIL. Beginning the first day school gets out, and for the entire summer, the boys will be picking out a chore to do each morning. Some of them are along the lines of "pick up library books" or vacuum the living room" but others are fun like "write a letter to grandma and grandpa".

When I made the list Monday morning and showed it to the boys, they were so excited they wanted to start right away. I hope that enthusiasm continues come middle of July.

1. Memorial Day Service
Steve's patriotic singing group had to sing for a memorial service on Monday so I took the boys. It was good for several reasons. I was able to have a discussion with them about veterans and those who have died in wars. We sat out on the grass for the 45 minute service. The boys' favorite parts were the 21 gun salute and the release of the 21 doves at the end of the service.

My hubby is the tall one in back with sunglasses

We were supposed to go to a cookout at the director's home later Monday afternoon, but instead, Steve found a different job to keep himself busy.

Two hours later, he had replaced all of the plumbing under our sink, thanks to a clog of spaghettio's, straws, and paintbrushes caught down in the pipes.

The week ahead:
Major activity filled week ahead. Tuesday is the performance of my hand bell group at a local nursing home. I am not feeling super prepared at the moment, but hopefully the residents will be pleased. On Wednesday, Noah has a grandparent's tea in school and baseball game at night (80 percent chance of rain). I still need to make a treat for Noah to take to school on Thursday to celebrate his birthday (it falls in the summer) and on Saturday I will turn 36.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wanna Laugh at Today's Youth?

We took the kids to Playworld this afternoon.

Our former babysitter, E, works there, and slips us in for free, which is a very nice bonus.

So after the kids were playing for awhile, E (she's 19 and going to community college) comes over to our table and I asked her how her summer class was going.

She went into a spiel about how horrible this class was; all the usual stuff from when I was in school. You know, too much reading, too many expectations, etc.

I was right with her and strolling through memory lane until she dropped this bomb:

"Well, we're not allowed to take computers into the classroom, so I can't even take notes!"

Deb and I just started laughing. Was it really that long ago that we went to classes and used paper and pens to take notes in class?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Please Pray

Please send up a prayer for my step brother Andy as well as his wife and daughter, and also for my parents and my other stepbrothers.

They all need comfort tonight.

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: The Positive Side

So last week I was a bit of a sour puss when it came time to write my T13. I was having a bad week. I promised a more positive spin on the end of school.

So here are 13 things I am looking forward to this summer

13. Sleeping in
12. Leisurely breakfast that can be more varied than during the school year
11. Swimming in the Grand Rapids city pools
10. Library programs on Thursday nights
9. VBS (the music is rockin' for this year...Crocodile Rock)
8. Watching how much the boys mature this summer (I wonder if it's possible to beat last summer)
7. Trips to the beach
6. Playing in the sprinkler
5. Wearing sandals instead of socks and shoes
4. Freedom to take off for a day trip (if I can scrounge up the funds)
3. Did I mention sleeping in?
2. 4th of July birthday bash
1. More time playing with my boys

Oh SOOOO ready for summer.

Have a great Thursday!

Making Life Better Review: A Great Website Resource

We have an odd meal time arrangement in our home. Since I work teaching piano in the evenings, my husband is in charge of meals several night s a week. Most of the time, it consists of hot dogs with mac n cheese, froze chicken nuggets with fries, or frozen pasta with sauce.

Steve often nags me about getting other things for him to make for the kids . When I ask him what he wants me to get, the standard answer is , "I don't know", which make sit hard to come up with other things. I could be making much more use of the crock pot if I could get the boys to eat the fruits of my labor.

On the the other nights when I AM home, our standards usually run around, spaghetti and meatballs (or chicken patties), meatloaf (which the kids are still balking at), tacos (or other variations on them), or a chicken and rice dish of some sort.

When I was contacted by Mom Central to see if I would be interested in reviewing some other meal options, I jumped at the chance. We received LOTS of goodies, as well as a family fun book with cooking ideas.

We have tried several:
I have been making meatloaf for awhile now, but I keep changing recipes to find the one we like the best. the book suggested Pizza Meatloaf, using the new Ragu Pasta Sauce and Lipton Onion Soup mix. It was even better since it was topped with more pasta sauce and mozzarella cheese. Yummy!

Also in the kit, we received a jar of Bertolli Alfredo sauce and spaghetti. I used the sauce with corkscrew pasta and chicken breasts and even the picky little boys ate it up.

I still have a bunch more I want to try. If you are curious about these or some other recipes to try that are easy and healthy, check out the website Making Life The site has more than just recipes. It has beauty and health tips as well. There is even a You Tube video showing demonstrations of recipe preparations.

I have bookmarked the site, and I encourage you to do so as well.
Have a great Wednesday!

This review is sponsored by Mom Central

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Love Dare and How I Am Changing It

Have you seen the movie Fireproof? If you have, you will totally understand this post. If you haven't, follow along and hopefully your curiosity will be peaked.

As I've said before, the acting in this movie is so "after school special", even if it does have Kirk Cameron (remember Growing Pains?). After you get past the bad acting, you start getting sucked in. The premise of the movie is a husband and wife on the verge of divorce. The man's father gives him a book called "The Love Dare", which is a book of 40 days of showing love to the other person, based on scripture. Steve and I watched it together a few weeks ago, and it is still on my mind.

Over at Write from Karen
, she is sponsoring her own Love Dare Challenge. I was intrigued from the minute she posted last week that she was going to do this.

As I started thinking on Sunday night about doing this with Steve (without his knowledge),
I was thinking over our current life situation. It led me straight to I Corinthians 13. You all know it, the "love" passage. But as I was contemplating the start of this challenge, I realized that having PATIENCE with my husband is not a challenge for me, but having patience with my boys is a struggle minute by minute.

So I will not be able to enter her contests since I have skewed this, but I am concentrating in earnest to use this passage in my parenting.

Guess what happened yesterday?

1. When Noah started his daily little fit about getting dressed, I repeated "love is patient" in my head, and I DIDN'T get mad. I said what I had to say, and walked away.

2. When Aaron was fiddling with his shoes for fifteen minutes when it was time to go outside, I usually would have lost it with him. Instead, I repeated again "love is patient" and headed outside by myself. He followed shortly after.

There were SO MANY instances yesterday of this kind of challenges and changes.

For most moms, this would be common nice and patient with your kids. But for me, I struggle daily, hourly, and every minute with how I interact with my children. It's not that I don't love them. I love them with all of my heart. But I am an impulsive person who has a tendency to react first and think later. If I even have hopes of helping my sons learn to think before they act, then it is up to me to model the behavior.

Today the challenge is "Love is patient, love is KIND". In addition to PATIENCE, I will find ways to be KIND to those special three men in my life.

So I will continue to visit Karen each day as she posts each day's challenge. But I will also continue to practice it on my hubby AND my children.

Have a great Tuesday.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekend Top Five 5/18/09

Pretty good weekend. I am finding myself more and more scatter brained and short tempered than I was. I think it is time to break down and get to the doctor. Now I just have to figure out when I can do so without kiddies tagging along...yuck!

Here are my top five for the weekend:

5. Student Recital
I have a much smaller piano student load than I used to, thanks to Michigan's wonderful economy. But I still had enough to hold my annual recital on Saturday. Unfortunately, three of my students never made it, but it was still a pretty nice little event. My wonderful hubby, Steve, was gracious enough to play "hostess" for me, greeting people as they came in and setting out the snacks for the reception afterward while the recital was going on.

4. Beginning of a big tackle
It is going to take awhile before I can present a finished product on this one. During the reception after my recital, I started to talking to quite a few parents who are interested in morning lessons in my home this summer, so I have A LOT of work to do get my entry way and basement presentable for the public. I got restless when we got home from church and searched my basement for left over paint. I found some and went to work, only to discover that it had solidified on the bottom after I have gotten half of one wall done. So now I will have to go purchase more to finish it off and redo the sections I already did.

Noah was VERY sad that I didn't let him help paint. I guess I have to figure out a way for him to help me when I start up again. I only have three weeks to get this done.

BTW: If you want to help me be able to get new paint for my yucky house, PLEASE go to this site and vote for me as the stinkiest room contest. When you vote for me, you can be entered into a drawing for free paint for yourself.

3. Sunday Church: 3 out of 4 parts
Since Steve was gone singing all afternoon, evening and into the wee hours of Sunday morning, he was very tired and wasn't in any shape to go to church Sunday morning. So I packed the boys up and headed out to double duty alone.

The first service we were scheduled to sing but there weren't enough ladies so I ended up singing soprano (I am normally an alto). For the second service, I resumed my alto part for the anthem, and then since a certain unnamed tenor (STEVE) wasn't in church, the tenors needed help and the directors asked me to step in as a tenor. Very strange singing that low but it was definitely a good move...I didn't realize how lost they are when Steve isn't there to guide them. It was the first time ever that I sang three different parts in one Sunday...and it was kind of fun.

2. Sunday Afternoon Frequent Plan Changes
What started out as a trip to the little church carnival by our house, changed into a trip to the zoo.

Kind of strange, but so are we.

After taking a quick walk through, we realized that there was no way we were going to pay the kind of money they wanted to ride these rides so we settled on letting the boys play a few games and then headed over to the park. After about ten minutes, we realized we needed to extend our outside activities for the afternoon, and asked the boys if they wanted to head to the zoo.

The zoo membership we got for Christmas has paid for itself tenfold by now, and it was fun to sit above and watch the monkey in the new exhibit that opened this weekend.

Of course, the boys' favorite part...when the monkeys peed from the high ropes. It was easily the highlight of the day for little boys ages six and four.

1. A Man And A Saw
After getting home from the zoo, it was still beautiful outside so we started playing in the backyard. I, for one, am unable to sit in the backyard without wanting to perform yard work. It is by far my favorite chore and I have been so frustrated that I can't afford to get what we need this spring, so I have been doing my best making any improvements that I can.

One of the things that has bothered me since we moved the little cherry to the backyard is this big useless tree that hangs over everything. Each year it bugs me, but now that I have put down some new grass seed and planted a new tree, I REALLY want it gone.

After attempting to cut back the branches with neighbor's clippers, Steve broke out the saw and started slicing. I was so excited to see how much he got rid of. After asking him to put the wheelbarrow and fire pit in the garage, the backyard looks much better.

Now if I can just find the stupid dog that keeps slipping into our backyard and pooping in the same place over and over again, I would be happy. It's making me really angry.

The Week Ahead:
Noah's last full week of school, two baseball games, figuring out a time for Noah to celebrate his July birthday in school, and the biggie, getting a doctor appointment for me. I will also be doing some research on the best way to get a handrail installed on our stairs leading to the basement, and it would be good for us to find Steve's phone which he lost on Saturday and has been panicked about ever since.

Let me know below of you posted about your weekend.
Have a great Monday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thursday Thirteen: UUGGGHHHHHH!!!!!

I take the risk of sounding EXTREMELY negative as I write this post, but I am feeling very frustrated with a certain first grader at the moment, so without further ado, 13 things I will NOT miss when school gets out

13. Forcing a PB&J sandwich down Noah's throat every morning
12. Ditto for apples on the way to school
11. Explaining why it is not possible to wear PJ's to school every day and then battling over getting dressed every morning
10. Worrying about whether the lion, tiger, or bear got taken out as discipline each day
9. Checking the backpack for which foods didn't get eaten for lunch, and which ones have now gone bad and can't be put back into the lunch box for the next day
8. Homework
7. Making Noah redo all the work that comes home marked "too sloppy" and sending it back to school the next day
6. Fighting with Aaron each morning to leave the school after we drop Noah off (he wants to sit at the fish tank and talk with his 7th grade "friends")
5. Keeping track of show and tell days and other "special events" that have been written incorrectly on the calendar this year
4. Friday lunch duty that used to be fun and now feels like a chore
3. Wondering each day if I should put Aaron down for a nap or let him sleep in the car on the way to pick Noah up
2. Spending a HUGE amount of money in gas to drive Noah 12 minutes each way twice (sometimes three) times a day
1. Feeling like a complete NAG all of the time!!!!

Disclaimer: Noah has had an awesome year. For some reason in the last two weeks, he has let himself shut down and has given up following directions both at school AND at home. It seems as if everything is a battle. This happened last year in May too. I seriously thought about pulling him last year for the last month. I have no intention of doing that this year. I am just so frustrated after such a great year that he is all of a sudden getting in trouble every day. Is anyone else seeing this kind a pattern happening at the end of the year too?

Again, I am sorry for the T13 vent. Next week, I will plan to spin it in a positive light about things I look forward to do with the kids this summer.

Have a great Thursday!

Wordless Wednesday; Everybody Loves a Good Book

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday: Housework and Books

In preparation for my MIL to visit Friday afternoon, I went psycho in house cleaning mode on Friday morning. I got rooms done that hadn't been taken care of in ages, including finding our bedroom floor which hadn't been done in quite a long time (I think ever since I hid Christmas presents in there back in December.)

I also found a way to tackle SOME of the book dilemma in our house. Noah's bed is actually the top part of a bunk bed that my parents gave us awhile back. It sits about 2 feet off the floor with a border all the way around. We had an ongoing problem of whenever he would have reading time in his bed, he would take a pile of books to his bed, and then just drop them on the floor when he was done.

My first solution was to divide them into nice baskets at the end of his bed, but they seemed to be in his way when it was time to go to bed at night.

A couple of weeks back, I shared with you a tackle that I got out of the Family Fun magazine. I had also seen an idea from that same magazine about a way to handle books in bunk beds, and after much finagling on the part of my husband, we made it work. We attached a window box holder to the end of his bed.

Now whenever Noah is reading in bed at night, or Aaron at quiet time (yes, they both use that bed at different times), they can sit and look at books and they can go right back into the flower box when they are through with them.

We still have the problem upstairs with overflowing books, but like I've stated before, is there a better problem to have than books that are read TOO OFTEN?

Have a great Tuesday!