Thursday, February 27, 2014

::Personal Remodel - week one::

Week one of my personal remodel is at an end.  

Money Progress:
Josh and I had a good money meeting about paychecks and have a good little plan in place.  We have discussed all the upcoming bills.
I am working on updating the budget.  It isn't going to take one week to do it, but its getting done.  
I still haven't figured out how to squeeze out the Christmas account money but I am working on it. 

Weight Progress:
I have not even stopped in to Qdoba.  Sounds basic but its a good start.
I have been getting my tush onto the elliptical.  
I haven't been perfect with my food diary but I can kick it up today.
I have been really good about my water intake at work but need to kick it up at home.  
I have been doing pretty well with my veg and fruit intake.  
I modified my no fried food to no french fries.  It keeps me away from fast food but gives me a little more flexibility.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Reading for Lily has always been a struggle.  We first noticed something wasn't right in kindergarten.  She would work on her site words every night and she would still be unable to remember them.  She was doing wonderful in math related task, but anything with letters was an uphill battle.  In first grade she had a teacher that was not the right match.  That lady was pregnant with her first baby after years of trying and she really just wasn't on her A game.  That was the same year that I lost our baby and I wasn't on my A game.  I did ask this teacher for more help for Lily, but she calmly blew me off.  And I was too depressed to fight her.  Second grade rolls around.  We had the most wonderful teacher.  She and I had our first parent teacher conference and I came prepared.  I have a friend whose husband is a special ed teacher and he said I have the right to demand an evaluation for Lily.  I was ready to fight.  She was testing at first grade three months level and that was after the first quarter of second grade.  She was a solid year behind already and I didn't want to see that gap get any wider.  The teacher said she would talk to the principle.  I emailed the principle and begged.  "If it was your daughter, would sightly behind be ok with you?"  They all agreed with me.

She got her evaluation.  And she needed some help.  I can't tell you the exact wording of what they found, but it comes down to this.  She doesn't put things together in her mind in exactly the same way other children do.  She has good comprehension but if you give her a nonsense word she could not sound it out.

Third grade was another wonderful teacher.  Lily moved up from low math to regular math.  The actual math was not the issue, it was the reading that went along with the math that was holding her back.  I thought we were making some progress but her testing scores where still showing her about one year behind.  Meanwhile she was getting old enough to notice that she wasn't reading as well as her peers.  One day we where doing her homework and she said something to be about not being the smartest knife in the drawer.  She said it like she thought I was going to agree!  Like it was just a fact.  I told her that she was way smarter than most people her age.  I pointed out to her that her talents for acting, music, and art where things that her peers would never catch up to her on.  I told her that she was like a sling shot - we were pulling back and pulling back with all the things she was learning and soon her brain would understand and let go and she would catch right up to her classmates.  Maybe even pass some of them.   I've retold her this several times through out this journey because it gives her strength to keep fighting.

Fourth grade rolls out and we lucked out with a teacher that really understands Lily.  She knows when the tears are real frustration and when they are drama.  Lily complained to me once that she had to work harder than everybody else and I told her that sometimes life was like that and if you have to work harder it may not be fair but you better stop whining and start working cause you got no time to spare.  Basically - life is sometimes not fair so just keep trucking.  I just had her mid year parent conference.  She is over 7th grade level for math and she is at her grade level for reading!!  The sling shot let go.  Thank God.  She has moved up to the regular reading group and they are talking about her moving to high math since her reading can support it now.  I have been building her up for years but to actually have it come true is a huge relief to me.  She is finally reading for pleasure and every time she finishes a book I take her right out to the book store and buy her another one.  This kid is starting to soar.

Side note - we never told Lily that she had an official learning disability.  I will tell her.  Especially once she is really comfortable with her progress.  I'm not sure how I am going to word it, but I will make her understand that we all need help with some things.  I was diagnosed as learning disabled in fourth grade and I knew at that time I was not smart and I would never be smart.  It took me years to recover that confidence, I think I was 25 before I really thought I was smart again.  I want her to understand that belief is a huge part of it and she has the talent to be a successful student.  We plan to let her keep outgrowing her special needs, but to always keep at least a little bit help on her list in case she needs her SAT to not be timed.  It's much easier to keep those options open than to reopen the doors if you close them all the way.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

::personal remodel::

I have been kind of stressed lately.  Silly things.  Working too much and other things building up.  I was starting to feel a little bit out of control with life and it was getting under my skin.  I decided to pick out a few things that I control and really focus on them - then that grew in my newest idea.  I think I need a Personal Remodel.

I have chosen to focus on two different aspects - financial and health.  I am really sick of seeing how much money I make and still being broke at the end of the pay period.  I need to grab this by the horns.  I financial situation has come a long way in the past few years.  We are down to less than one year and we will have all our old bad debt gone.  But we still need to make more progress.

  I am also sick and tired of being chubby.  I just seriously lack person discipline when it comes to eating and I am getting too old to not take personal responsibility for my weight.  I know very well the health risks of being overweight, yet like a smoker, I just ignore them.  Its ridiculous and embarrassing.  I want it to stop.

Since I am easily overwhelmed with weight loss I decided that I would set a one month zero cheating time frame that gave me a little time to come up with a strategy.  I start Feb 21 and go till March 21.  Then I will re-evaluate and go from there. 

Financial Goals
1.  Commit to 8 hours of overtime every week.  More time working means more money.
2.  Audit our spending in January.  Figure out exactly what we spent and on what.
3.  I wrote out a pretty good budget that we mostly ignore.  Compare it with the Jan audit and have it make more sense.  Figure out how to put it in to place so we can become more proactive instead of reactive.
4.  Set up a Christmas account so I can stop acting financially surprised ever year with Christmas rolls around.  I already figured out that if I start a Christmas savings account now I would have a nice little nest egg by the holidays.  
5.  Have a half hour long financial meeting with Josh at least every two weeks.  Things run so much better when we do this.  During this meeting discuss what upcoming expenses are coming up and where we are on other bills.  Set a timer so we don't drag on and and on about it.

Weight Goals
1.  No Qdoba.  Seriously - it sounds ridiculous, but I am an addict and it has to stop.
2.  No fried food of any kind.
3.  Ever day that I work 8 hours or less I have to be on the elliptical for at least half an hour.
4.  Keep and food diary and count calories.  Reeducate myself to my intake.
5.  Eat or drink my daily recommended fruits, vegetables, and water.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

::what I am growing for 2014::

Cottage Garden
Carrots - sprinkle these around where ever they will fit. I felt like I had a decent patch last year but it wasn't enough. I want to have more frozen.
Cucumber - along the fence
Eggplant - this was wonderful last year and I just love the color
Garlic - in the fall. I didn't plant any this last fall. Huge mistake.
Lettuce - stagger this so small batches come in season weekly
Basil - at least two purple and two green. It's time to make pesto and I had none dried last year.
Chives - If a nuclear bomb dropped on my house my chives would still come back every year.
Sweet peas - the kids can't eat enough of these. I have never actually harvested them because the kids eat them all fresh right off the vine.
Snow peas - good all the time. Freeze lots.
Hot peppers - I still don't utilize these as much as I should. I need to learn more about cooking with fresh hot peppers instead of hot sauce.
Bell peppers - Honestly I don't really like these. I grow them because they are pretty and easy to give away. This year I am going to make myself be more open minded to eating them.
Spinach - lots. Lots. Lots. Frozen and we eat lots of it fresh. I have never grown enough but this year I want to give it a shot. I am going to stagger plant it with Cilantro harvests to try and meet my supply. More to come on that latter.
Butter Nut Squash - I want to grown some of this along the fence. I don't need much.
Luffa - just one or two plants of this to let Lily play around with the concept.
Tomatoes - six
Cilantro - TONS of this. Tons! Make sure I have lots of it frozen for the winter to use in stew.
Parsley - I need a nice stash of this frozen for winter and I need to dry it for year round use.
Edememe - frozen and fresh. I haven't had luck with this before but I am hopeful this year.
Tomatillos - plant two and see what happens. This is a new one for me.
Zinnias - up front
Sunflowers - in short back bed
Petunia and misc - in hollow log planters. The kids get to pick out something to plant that they like the look of.

Orchard Garden
Asparagus - I need to line this bed with landscape timbers to define it better and I need to put it on a every two weeks weeding schedule. It needs a fresh layer of compost this year too.
Green beans - on the fence like last year and as part of my three sisters patch. We can't ever have enough of these guys and last year was not enough. I might even grow these on the ends of my grpe arbor.
Broccoli - I try to not tuck this away too far because I want to make sure I can cut off the edibles easily. Last year I grew 8. I need twice that this year. By January my freezer was out.
Corn - Sweet, popcorn, and ornamental. I haven't really done corn before but I have a large space that needs to take a break from melons this year so I am going to try and three sisters patch again.
Onions - red, white and yellow. Dry some but dice and freeze many more than last year.
Sweet potatoes - I really want to try these again. I did them once but they got away from me.
Pumpkins - I found a few powdery mildew resistance types that I am going to make part of my three sister garden.
Tomatoes - 12
Zinnias - fill open spots
Sunflowers - have cut flower patch of suns
Hydrangea - start row for cut flowers as procreated from current plants
Lavender - start a row of this as budget allows, fill with zinnias
Yarrow - try it out in a few spots
Shasta - start a row of shastas

Cranberry's - I am going to order a few of these and put them up by the house. I am just curious to see what happens with them.
Blueberry's - my first row of blues should be really hitting its stride this year. My second row is half planted and needs to be finished off with 6-8 more bushes this spring.
Grapes - I have three vines planted from last year. We actually ate some grapes off the vine last season. I have found some great seedless grapes to order online and I will finish off the grape arbor plantings this spring.
Strawberry's - I have big plans for strawberry's this year. I will post more details as it progresses and as budget allows. I hope to add about 130 new plants this year. Again - more details to follow.

Already planted - peach trees (3), plum trees (2), new apple trees (2), very old mature apple tree, very old mature pear tree
    Adding this year - two more apples, two cherry, four more peach

House Herb Garden

This was kind of an epic fail last year. The soil is too clay and maybe too shady. I am going to try and add organic matter this year and give it one more shot.
Mint - already planted and ready to go
Oregano - take more time to dry this and have some to use next year
Thyme - add this

Roses - add two more cheap roses to rose bed
Hydrangea - keep working on the new ones from last year. Buy any that are found on clearence and find spaces for them.

Misc -
Potatoes - maybe??? I can't decide. I want to make a potato box but I just can't decided if its a job for this year.
Hibiscus - one planted last year. Add a few more sprinkled around as found on clearance.
Poppies - buy $20 worth of seeds and keep expanding from fence poppy patch
Peonies - pick up a few as they go on sale and hide them out by the orchard. I think they are such an ugly plant bush but the flowers are beyond gorgeous and I want them as part of my cut flower collection.

Friday, February 7, 2014

::mother of boys?::

Project by Emma - captures the Max perfectly

Boys.  Who knew I was going to have boys?  I always thought of myself as a girl mom.  Honestly, I rarely liked my friends little boys.  I always loved their daughters.  Cute and pretty and understandable.  With little purses and bows and saying adorable things.  But usually the little boys either seem wimpy or totally wild.  They all seemed to have the same short hair cut and the same clueless crap going around in their heads.  Most of the time they all look the same to me, crappy boy shirt-pants/jeans-character tennis shoes-short hair.  Little to no variety in the look.  They hardly ever seemed to have much personality besides breaking stuff.  Their mother would tell me all the cute stuff they did but I saw them more as an untrained one year old Labrador.  They eat and/or destroy everything they come in to contact with.  Dry wall, glue, dirt, laundry soap, couches - whatever.  

Perfectly dressed with all clothes 100% matching, clean and ironed. 
Then Josh and I got together.  THANK the gods he had a daughter.  A two year old boy might have driven me off but a two year old girl was a dream come true.  I couldn't wait to shop for her and take her fun places and basically treat her like a little doll.  Isn't that what parenting is?  Right???  It seemed right to 23 year old me.    Once Josh and I where pregnant I had my fingers crossed for a boy.  My little boy was going to be named Charlie and he wasn't going to be like other little boys.  He was going to be a gentleman like his father and not a distructo like most little guys.  I wanted a boy because I felt like it would be easier on Emma if Josh and I's first child together was a boy and she could have more time to be the only girl.  When we found out I was pregnant with Lily, I was actually mad.  In the true fashion of who I was at that time, I pouted for several hours.  Then I started shopping, because obviously that would make me feel better.  Now that Lily is 10 I seriously thank the world that she is my daughter every day.  That kid and I where made for each other.  Now I did spend the first five years of her life with my credit card out at Gymboree, she had every purse and tights and bows and sweaters that matched all her perfect dresses.  She was always perfectly dressed as a little girl.  Since Emma came and went, Lily had a ton of supervision and never really broke anything or destroyed anything.  I used to have a glass case full of fragile treasures in her playroom.  Never one thing touched.   

Lets get one good picture - nope
When we got pregnant again over four years latter, I still had that feeling that little boys where wild animals.  But I still wanted one.  We had two little girls now and I felt like I need to "give Josh a son".  This was not something he every made me feel.  He actually wanted another girl, but I felt like I real needed a boy.  Then we had Max.  And I learned what having a boy that people call "all boy" was all about.

Snow boots and shorts backward
What could go wrong?
He breaks stuff.  Often.  My house was hardly baby proof with the girls.  Emma never broke one thing in her entire life.  Lily grew up with a jar of Sharpies at her eye level and never colored on one thing besides paper.  The girls didn't need basic rules about safety - they didn't want to hurt themselves and they knew that jumping off the back of the couch would potentially hurt.  Max needed a rule about everything.  Don't put plastic bags on your head, don't play in the front yard naked, don't climb on the roof, don't play in the hot car, and on and on and on.  We learned fast not to have one breakable thing below adult eye level, not his eye level - because that kid can climb.  Seriously - you let your guard down for five seconds and things get interesting really fast.  

Please look at the couch next to him
Three years after Max I was pregnant again.  I was praying for a girl.  I wanted a little doll to dress again.  A little baby Lily all over again.  If I would have had a girl that poor thing would have had so much pressure on her to be like Lily she would have eventually lost her mind.  Instead I had an awakening and my whole life changed.  That baby I was pregnant with died and was delivered at 18 weeks.  He was named Zack (spelled like Jack but with a Z because he made me puke the entire pregnancy and I had to take Zofran like candy).  And he was a perfect little boy.  A little boy.  I was so surprised that he was a he.  I just knew I was having a girl.   After him we quickly got pregnant again - and I have never wanted anything so bad as a I wanted a little boy.  I was dying for a little boy.  I wanted a little boy because I had lost a little boy and the dream of a little boy was so sharp in my mind.  And he was a little boy!!!  Quinn came in to our world almost one year after Zach.  Quinn was healthy and perfect and mended my heart from the loss of his brother.  

Stuff we found in the vent in the kitchen
 Now I think back about when it was that I fell in love with little boys.  When the animal craziness actually became a bonus instead of a negative.  When I started to see the humor in a Sharpie left out with no lid and became a detective at following the trail of marker scribbles.  When I stopped caring about what the boys where wearing because they where going to trash it anyway.  When I fell in love with dirt stained knees and grass stained feet.  When did I fall in love with little boys?  It happened slowly, one broken dish at a time.  But Max paved the road and Quinn didn't have much resistance.  

Five mins in to our ranch vacation he fell in to the freezing cold pond
Max has taught me so many things about life - that my schedule doesn't really matter to anyone but me, that some people need 10 minutes to put on a coat, that hair can bring joy to strangers, that happiness in contagious.  I adore Max.  He gets away with stuff that no other kid could because my heart melts at his smile.  You have to meet him to understand him.  I know I am his mother and obviously not an unbiased opinion but he is just so handsome and charismatic that life is a joy with him in it.  Quinny is still just two, he is still growing into his powers of destruction.  Don't worry, he already breaks crap all the time.  He got two full box's of cereal out last week and dumped them both totally out - and that was TWO separate events on two different days.  He has Max's destruction gene for sure.  But Max desensitized me to it some.  It doesn't seem like as big a deal as it did the first time around.  

Now, I still have a pet peeve about boring boy hair.  I don't like short hair.  I will never cut the boys hair super short.  Of course that means they will both cut off all their hair as soon as they are old enough to control their own hair - the lesson of over control has already been taught to me by the girls.  As long as I am the one that gives them their hair cuts they will have long hair.   

I still struggle to connect with my friends sons.  Its harder for me to find common ground with them then with the little girls.  I am still a total sucker for a little girl.  But now I get confused by a little boy that doesn't like to be dirty, or doesn't have a constant curiosity drive.  I expect a little boy to be climbing and jumping and wrestling and act pretty similar to the Tasmanian devil.  Wild little boys make sense to me know.  Reserved little boy confuse me.  I never had one of those.                      

Really it all comes down to this, I adore my children.  All of them.  I adore my Emma to pieces, she is a true blessing in my life.  My Lily is my soul mate, we where designed for each other.  My Max is my heart.  He makes me happy when skies are grey.  And my Q is the rainbow baby that brought me back.  Boys, girls, step, no step - all four of them make up a family I am so proud of.  

PS - When looking for pictures for this post I found about 100.  Seriously - they are doing something bad in just about every picture.  Here are a few extras for fun.
Where is Max?  I can't find him.  Oh - asleep under his bed with a movie. 

Baby stacking rocks in monster truck wheel

Happy to be dirty with a black eye. Next day went to ER for eye infection.

Q- in jammies   M - with a sword

Bringing swag while dressed as a 100 year old at the 100 days of school party. 

He taped his own hand together and then tried to cut in apart. 

Filthy old cage and why did the puppy join him?

The duck making a good choice.

His "Man Chair" as he called it

Let me go!

Sneaked outside to eat this alone

Because he can't just smile.

Another broken thing

Please note the sink is totally full and actually flooding the bathroom

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

::max 6 quinn 2:

 Max - January 31

Quinny - February 3

Sunday, February 2, 2014

::pirate party::

This kid turned 6!
And we had to have a party... 

And for the record we used our trailer to take our supplies down to the church.  
We are getting pretty serious.  

The treat table had jello pirate ships, pirate rice crispies, cannon balls (black gum), fruit swords, two treasure chests of candy, Swedish fish, and two cakes.

Why two cakes?  Quinn turn two on 2/3.  He doesn't care about the rule that you don't get big parties till you are school age.  He thinks all parties are his party.  So, till he figures it out he can share parties with Max.    

Iced by Lily. 

For the record these are not Jello shots.  
I can't tell you how many people asked me if they were.  
I know I am crazy, but even I wouldn't give Kindergarteners booze.

 Cakes where made by my wonderful and reasonable cake lady.  
Message me for her contact info.  

Quinn's cake.  


 The cake was so heavy that it was easier to hold Max over it than move it to him. 

Josh printed me off a few pirate flags.

We started a few weeks ago on the grand ship, but we could finish it till we got it in the gym. 
The mast and sail was too big to be assembled at our house.  

And I love how it all came together.  We got most of our boxes from dumpster diving at rental shops.  The front is made from a 70 inch TV box.  The middle is made from a 60 inch TV box.  The back is made from a stove box.  The curved back was made from scraps of other boxes pieced together.  The sail is super cheap scrap wood, chicken wire, and a $5 black sheet from Walmart.  Total cost with duct tape included was less than $20 and the kids loved it. 


We had some old scrap boxes set up for the boys to play with. 

For crafts we had three options -
They could make a spyglass.

They could make a parrot.

And they could make a pirate hand stamp.  
Please forgive his purple beard.  I didn't have black when we did our mock up. 

 We had a pirate gear table when they walked it.  They had pirate sashes, which where cut up strips from a $5 sheet.  They also had pirate beards, swords, earrings, and tattoos. 

I really fell in love with the adorable beards that my Mother In-Law came up with.  She threw them together about 10 mins before the party.  I was very impressed. 
So impressed that I had to wear one.

Even Q felt the pirate fever. 

 Curly head had a great time rocking it out with his homies. 

Two pirates.  

 Josh was so helpful to me.  He was the head engineer of the ship and actual is the reason we had it almost done in advance.  He even built me the sail when I changed my mind last minute and wanted one.  As usual - I am lucky to have him. 

 And Mr. Max.  What a delicious little creature.  A big bad six year old.  

All pictures by Emma.  
Link to project ideas and even free printables - pinned on my Pintrest page.  

This was my first school age big party for Max.  
What did I learn:
Boy's don't usually care about crafts.
Don't give boys weapons.  I had to take away the swords.
Don't try and have organized activities.  They just want to run. 
Keep it short.  The whole party was 1.5 hours.  Perfect.
Don't ever let a herd of wild children into your tiny house.  
We had the party at a near by church gym.   


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