Monday, May 31, 2010

Plan B=Garden

Last summer we bought a fixer upper. I swore that we’d never do it again after renovating our 2 previous homes. But since deciding to stay home full-time, we’ve been on a budget. BUMMER. Bummer about the budget- not staying home. I like my kids most of the time so staying home is worth the sacrifice.

But, that sacrifice part meant that we needed to buy another fixer. BUMMER again, although we're truly grateful for the house. It is just that fixing up takes a lot of time and energy. Neither of which seems to be abundant in our house. Let me rephrase that. The kids have energy. They suck out our energy like a Hoover vacuum. But we still love them.

The main fix for me was the floors. Our downstairs had a mix of white-ish-pink-ish tile (super ugly) and brownish-pinkish carpet (tolerable ugly). And the WORST part…carpet in the bathrooms. I mean, seriously, who does that?

I thought we’d have our new floors in during the 1st month of living here. But after painting, redoing cabinets, buying new furniture, bedding, etc. our so-called budget was at its limit. There was no way the floors were getting installed. Another BUMMER.

Fast-forward to Memorial Day Weekend and we’re now ready to do the floors. Hooray! Or so I thought.

Day 1: Kevin hurts his back, but continues to tear out the tolerable ugly carpet and super ugly tiles. No pain, no gain.

Day 2: Kevin’s back hurts too much. House is a wreck. Dust is everywhere. We’re living on concrete floors, hubby is out of commission and the kids are antsy. Me? I’m going C-R-A-Z-Y!

So I thought it would be a good idea (that’s a good inclination that it isn’t) to plant our long desired organic herb and veggie garden. I have to be honest, though, I am notorious for my “good ideas.” They usually entail a big plan that is way more work than I think it will be. Kevin always warns me of the work ahead, but I do it anyway. He either loves my feisty side or gets a sick kick out of watching me dig myself into a project that is way over my head. I’ll go with the 1st option.

So I took the older kids with me to Home Depot to pick out veggies. They enthusiastically picked out more packets than what we needed and I quickly put them back without the boys noticing. It was like a well-oiled factory machine of revolving packets of seeds. We then picked out our barrels and soil and headed out.

As I started the car and looked back at the bags and barrels, I started to think about the amount of work I just got myself into. Maybe Kevin was right.

Once we arrived at the farm, I mean home, I unloaded the 3 large barrels and 14 bags of soil. Yes, I just said 14. I’m not good at math and figured it would be best to have too much than not enough. Kevin just laughed when he saw the piles in the garage. I justified my reasoning. He still just laughed.

Luke (7) and Charlie (3) were pumped for helping out until…

It is amazing how easily they get distracted.

And as for the crippled hubby, he did the “sissy” work. He brought me the tools and took the pics. I had to make him useful, right?

Even sleepy and fever stricken Jack (2) woke up and wanted to help…

He got distracted too…

I managed to reel the boys in to plant the herbs. The enticing aroma drew them near…

“Fun-time” Charlie displayed his usual excitement for all things. After all, this is the kid that cheers when he discovers socks in his Christmas stocking. He kept at task and planted the yellow squash, zucchini, and pumpkins.

Luke, on the other hand was playing wii. And Jack, well, he was long-gone.

For the grand finale, we planted the remaining seeds in the mini-greenhouse.

I didn’t realize it would take them about eight weeks to sprout. Again, I’m usually about the big idea, not the details. And when I say grand finale I have to admit there wasn’t anything particularly grand about planting the seeds at this point except that it was grand that it was over. I was beat! And so was my main farmer.

And to prove how bad my math skills are, take a look at this return trip to Home Depot…

I'm a tad embarrassed to admit that we took back 8 bags. Yeah, you can’t be good at everything.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Why I Blog

Tonight I attended a glorious blogging event~ Blog*Sugar. I almost didn’t go. In fact, I had a ton of excuses to NOT go. I have a sick kid at home, we’re about to tear out the carpet, baseboards, and tile downstairs-I wanted to get a head start, and it was going to be a long drive (on the eve of Memorial Weekend).

However, I already committed to attending this event with a friend. I invited her for two reasons (besides the fact that she just a super cool friend). One, she’s a blogger too ( so I knew she’d probably dig the event. Two, I knew that if I had someone coming along that I could not let my lame social insecurities (blast them) get the best of me.

Upon arriving, I immediately sensed that I was glad I came. To be in the midst of 60 creative types was invigorating for a girl that considers brushing her teeth, taking a real shower (washing hair AND shaving legs), and managing to keep her children from starting WWIII a good day. No, not just good. Fabulous.

Once we had a chance to munch on delicious appetizers and desserts (I have to admit I ate more desserts than appetizers), we were asked to reflect on the purpose of our blog. I was stumped. I’m not gifted at impromptu meaningful thought (blast that too!).

So I thought for a bit and this is the best I could come up with: I blog for a lot of reasons. Not so much for a purpose (yet). A purpose is a noun. It is a thing. I have not quite found my blogging "thing" yet. I'm working on it. For me, at this stage, my blog is about sharing, venting, and laughing. Verbs. Actions. I do it because in the midst of raising 3 crazy rascals, lupus, cancer, autism, and putting on a weak performance as Martha Stewart, blogging makes me happy. I enjoy the connection it has formed with so many of you.

Hmmm….maybe I am sensing a purpose there???

And while I have definite blog envy (yeah, I'm working on that too) of the purpose-filled writers, crafters, chefs, and home-schoolers, I am okay with writing without a purpose for now. It will come. So, I’ll keep writing about my random thoughts and nutty mom experiences. Thanks for being a part of the journey with me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


How often do you “forget” how to drive? How often do you simply “forget” to breathe? Probably never because you know it would result in something tragic, right?

I wonder why we simply "forget" to wear our sunscreen. I do it too. Guilty! Did you know that melanoma is the number one cause of death from cancer in young adults? Did you know that it only takes one bad sunburn to put yourself at risk? Did you know that melanoma is typically either a good cancer (stage 1) or a REALLY bad cancer? There’s not a whole lot in between. It is aggressive and reappears frequently. Since most people don’t catch it early, the results can be devastating.

Not only do we need to focus on ourselves to stay healthy for our kiddos, we need to keep our munchkins protected from the sun. We buckle them in their car seats and don’t ever leave them unattended in the bath. Likewise, we need to protect them and their futures by lathering them in sunscreen everyday. I'm guilty again! And I of all people should know better, right?

Lastly, please remember these two facts: Sunscreen should be worn year round and you are no more protected from developing melanoma if you have light or dark skin. Everyone needs to lather up!

Okay, enough of my lecture! Now I’ll move on to my scare tactic (and you thought I was done!). I’m posting my blog which details my husband’s battle with melanoma and two websites, which detail important facts about this disease.

Happy spring and soon to be summer, my friends. Enjoy the warm weather and be safe!

Lots of love,

P.S. If you have not had your skin checked, now is the time to do it! Don’t wait…just do it!!! I’m not kidding, pick up the phone and make your appointment. I’ll stop now…I think you get my point.

P.S.S. Pass this along to those you love.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Very Happy Birthday Indeed

Well, I’m another year older. And I had a great day. It is funny how it is more about them than me and that’s how I like it. You know, the kids. They think our birthdays are about them. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My day started with sleeping in to 7 a.m. Yes, that’s sleeping in at my house. I thought I was dreaming when I heard Kev roll out of bed at 5:45 to get Jack. It was too good to be true.

And as I waltzed down the stairs with an extra bounce in my step from my extra sleep, I was greeted with an enthusiastic chorus of “happy birthdays” from my little guys. Well, except from 2 year old Jack who doesn’t quite get the protocal and kept telling me “happy birthday party, Mama.”

Then it was gift time…

Only a mom of boys can appreciate the true love behind receiving a gift wrapped in Bob the Builder wrapping paper. That’s what Charlie and Jack wanted.

That was just the beginning.

We piled in the car to watch Luke’s class perform…on stage. That’s a big deal to a 7 year old. Oh, the joy!

After his performance my mom and I headed to breakfast (fun) with Jack (not fun) and Charlie (fun). I think I maybe spoke two complete sentences to my mom in between picking up crayons off the floor and escorting a loud and energetic Jack outside. This is why we don’t eat out anymore. I appreciate the goodness in my mom, though. She thought he could do it. I knew better. However, breakfast is my favorite meal and my mom is one of my most favorite people, so it was all worth it.

After school, the kids and I baked a cake together. Charlie wanted chocolate. He truly is a mini-me. Jack was the helper. He loved spinning the mixing bowl…

But he was so enthralled with the mechanics that he preferred to watch it rather than spin it…

All 3 boys took charged of decorating it at my in-law's house while Kevin and I went out for dinner by ourselves (woo hoo!)...

They all wanted their favorite color of frosting…go figure!

This why I love my birthdays being about them. I'm a lucky girl...

And Best of all…

THE BACHORLETTE. I have NO shame in admitting that this is what I wanted to do on my birthday night. Well, maybe a little shame, but I’m letting it go. That’s the good thing about being 32 (gulp), I am beginning to care a little less about what people think of me. Getting older isn’t so bad after all.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dot Art and Numbers

There are a few arts and crafts that I keep hidden and only bring out once and awhile so the kids have a renewed appreciation for them. Dot art paint is one of them. Play- doh is another. And water color paints work, too. But today my kids were sick so we used all 3 in one day.

I've been trying to teach Charlie to identify the written form of numbers. He can count aloud and accurately count a set number of objects but identifying numbers in print has been hard for him. Since he wants to be like his big brother and do homework, we've been spending part of the day on Charlie's homework.

Today we made a number book.It is simple to make. You just need paper, a stapler, a marker, and dot art paint. You can purchase the paint at a teacher supply store.

I wrote a number on each page and modeled how to trace over it with the dot art paint.

He did the rest like me...

Until he decided he rather just take the sponge and make a solid line instead of dots. That's ok. The objective of the lesson was to have him get "a feel" for the numbers.

Mission accompished.

He then reinforced his learning by reading to Jack.

Fun learning for all!

And the best part...

They were having so much fun today with all their art projects that I was able to get one of my house tasks that I've been wanting to do for a long time done. Don't worry, I didn't paint a room by myself while I had sick kids at home, I just put sample colors on the wall. But, that was a huge accomplishment for me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Sweet Good-bye

Last night was the last night my “baby” Jack slept in his crib. His big boy bed is being delivered today and I have mixed feelings about it. Although he’s the size of a four year old and clearly big enough for big boy bed, he’s still my baby. Yet, he’ll always be my baby. He’s my last one.

I’ve struggled with Jack being my last baby. On one hand, I am ready to move forward to the next chapter of our lives. Although babies signify everything precious and good in this world, I won’t miss the frequent feedings, middle of the night wakings, and lack of flexibility. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel with Jack being 2 ½, Charlie almost 4 and Luke 7. We are creeping out of the trenches and enjoying the greater freedom that comes from having your kids getting older (unfortunately that means we’re getting older too!). Yet, there is still a place in my heart that will always feel like there’s room for one more.

So as we prepare to pass along our crib, which has safely held my niece, nephew, Charlie, and Jack, I am eager and yet somber as we pass it along to my cousin. Her sweet new baby girl has not yet entered the world, but she will soon. And this beautiful crib will embrace her too, just like it has with her second cousins. It will provide a place for comfort, sweet dreams, and silly giggles.

Farewell crib…hello big boy bed. Cheers to change and to new adventures that are waiting for us in this new chapter.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Last night I was venting to Kevin about my stress for today. For today was Luke’s 1st grade field trip to the Wild Animal Park and I signed up to volunteer weeks ago. However, like most of my plans, this event was not going to go as smoothly as I had hoped it would.

If you read my post last week, you know that I have sick kids in the house (yes, they are still sick a week later!). My generous mom volunteered to watch Charlie and Jack so I could be part of this big day for Luke even though she knew they still were not fully recovered from this latest bout of sickness.

So last night, I was pondering what I should do. I didn’t know if I should cancel volunteering and leave Luke’s teacher with one less adult (even though she had plenty) to stay home with the boys. I was equally concerned with Charlie and Jack still not feeling well. And my biggest worry was that my mom would get what they’ve had for the last week. There’s nothing like having someone watch your kids (for free) and then sending them home sick for week! Trust me, it has happened (more than once) and the guilt is overwhelming.

I was vacillating back and forth about which decision to make while Kevin listened patiently. In his mind I am sure I often sound like the teacher in the Charlie Brown movies…wah, wah, wah.

After speed talking and weighing the pros and cons, Kevin calmly interjected, “why do you have to do these things?” I was a bit (okay, a lot) taken aback by his question. I didn’t hesitate to respond with my gut answer, although it was not the least bit eloquent:


BECAUSE I want to see him light up with delight when a butterfly lands on his arm.

BECAUSE I want to put his hand in my usual stroller pushing hand. I know those days are numbered.

BECAUSE I want to see him giggle at the majestic lion sleeping in a jeep.

BECAUSE I want to see him gaze at the giant gorillas.

BECAUSE I am his mom and that’s reason enough.

*Disclaimer for Kevin’s sake: He clarified himself and was wondering why I put myself through so much stress. Men just have a gift of seeing things differently, right?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

False Interior Decoratoring

I LOVE home improvement. I LOVE HGTV. I LOVE home magazines. But, I Don't love decorating. I just don't have the eye for it. I know what I LOVE, but I don't know how to put it all together. My sister was born with that gene. It's so bad that when we bought our new home, I'd send her pics of blank walls and asked her what I needed to put on them!

As I've joined the blogging world, I've noticed that many blogging moms share creative posts about decorating, cooking, and crafting. Although I crave to be that mom, I am not there...yet. But I'm trying. I am more of the should have been a CEO workaholic, but can't let other people watch my children because I'm too controlling kind of mom. It is just the way it is.

But I dig this time of my life and being at home with the kids has been the right choice for me. However, choosing to resign from my teaching career and live on one income has not been without sacrifice. One of the sacrifices has been to give up my walk into my fav stores, look at a room set up, and say, "let's do that."

Although I don't have profound decorating tips, I do have one major one for those of you who feel a bit void of this talent. Look at pics in magazines, pull them out, and keep in a decorating file. Then look online or in stores for similar items, but at a lower cost. You'd be shocked to see how you are able to replicate "the look" for much less.

I also go to my favorite stores, take pics with my i-phone, and shop elsewhere for "the look."

At first I found this a bit depressing, but now it is so much fun to go on the hunt for my desired items and see how much money I can save.

Here is a latest example:

Wanted shelves from Pottery Barn. Cost:$170
Bought shelves from IKEA. Cost:$50
Savings: $120!!!

Because I saved money on the shelves, I was able to buy the accessories I wanted. I've adopted the new decorating mantra, "spend where you can, save where you can."

However, I didn't know what to put on the shelves, so once again I looked online for room inspiration. Fortunately we had the photos in storage. That was easy. I knew I needed an inbox for each of us to store school forms, "to do" papers, etc.; hence, the IKEA media storage boxes. Then I found the plant at Pottery Barn, the turquoise vase at Crate and Barrel,the brown vase at Urban Outfitters, and books at Barnes and Noble. The funny thing about this project is that I spent more money on the books than I did on the shelves! I could have gone to an used bookstore, but I was burned out at this point and wanted to wrap up the project.


So, yes, I don't have any super creative tips to make your house more spectacular, but I'm a practical girl and I have practical tips.

Happy decorating!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Welcome to the Real Life

I just got home from a relaxing weekend in Palm Desert with 3 amazing gal pals. We had the BEST time sitting by the pool, reading mindless mags and sharing our survival stories from the war zone, otherwise known as home. We also shared funny stories about our kiddos and delighted in the silliness of our children and the way in which they brighten our lives. It is refreshing to share the good and the bad with friends whom you know won’t judge you for your mommy shortcomings. Those types of friends are invaluable. We all need them.

And although girl time is a complete reprieve and filled with belly aching laughter, there always comes a time when I’m hit with homesickness. This time was no different. What can I say? I’m a wimp. I talk BIG about escaping from my kids, but I am a total sucker when it comes to being apart from them.

Last night, Kevin sent me a text with pics of the boys at bedtime. They were snug in their beds. And then it hit me. I missed them. I missed the hugs and kisses goodnight. I missed reading stories and chatting about what we were going to do the next day. Of course, I didn’t think about the battle to brush their teeth or the energy it takes to just get my rambunctious boys to the calm, sleepy state. It’s funny how we block those things out, isn’t it?

As we headed home today, I had mixed feelings. On one hand I was sad to leave the serenity of the hotel, but on the other hand I could not wait to get home. However, within a few minutes of being home, I desperately wanted to jump in my car and drive back to Palm Springs. You see, real life doesn’t change at my house just because I get away for a night. I came home to Charlie screaming over Jack crashing his fort, dirty dishes, and beds to be made. My mantra kicked in, "Serenity now! Serenity now!"

But, that’s my life. And it’s a good one.

A Change of Pace

We were at a major crossroad last summer. After selling our home in San Clemente and renting for 2 years, we needed to make a major decision.

As we were contemplating our decisions, we knew one thing: we wanted our next move to be somewhat permanent. You see, in 10 years of marriage we had moved 8 times. Sometimes there were 2 moves in one year! We wanted to move somewhere where we could put down roots. We didn’t want to move our kids from school to school and from neighborhood to neighborhood. We desired to have a “home” for our children-a place of familiarity and stability.

We thought we were headed to Portland. Kevin works in software sales and was given the flexibility to move anywhere where his company has an office. However, within a week of Kevin heading up there to look for homes, we found a house in Bonsall, which is close to where we both grew up and owned our 1st home. When we moved from the area to San Clemente (Orange County) we swore we’d never move back. Except, God has a sense of humor and usually demonstrates that our plans don’t pan out…even when they are really good plans because His plans are better…much better.

There are days when we all miss San Clemente. We miss the sandy beaches and variety of parks. We miss the conveniences of living in the suburbs. We miss our friends a ton. Mostly, we miss living near my family. The boys have such a special relationship with them and we loved just being able to drop in for visits.

However, here’s the thing. When we give something up, we gain something in return. So instead of focusing on what we’ve lost by our move, we are focusing on all that we’ve gained. It’s a choice and one that we’re benefitting from making.

Let me share with you a few of our gains:

Walks up a country dirt road to visit our neighborhood horses.

A breathtaking view.

A school with history.


And now…

Seeing a tractor for sale in a front yard...

Local trails...

In law’s grove...

Fresh homemade lemonade...

Have a blessed day and focus on what you’ve gained recently.

Much love,

Friend or Foe? My Battle with Chalk

I really dislike chalk. Even funky, pretty chalk like this...

However, when the boys seem so intent on creating and drawing, my feeling of disdains melts a bit...

My issue with chalk is that it is so messy. And mess and Katie don't get along too well. We're trying to become friends, but it is a work in progress.

But the thing with chalk is that my disdain for it is greatly outweighed by my little guys' delight with it. Luke makes up games, creates mazes, and taps into his inner Monet. Charlie focuses intently to create art that only he can describe. It looks like scribble, but he knows what it is. I just call it modern art. And Jack, well, he just chucks the chalk because he likes to see it break. Go figure. He's 2.

Another bonus of chalk is that it keeps them busy. And for a house of 3 rowdy boys, keeping them busy with one thing for more than a few minutes is enough reason for me to tolerate it.

I am curious what drives you a little nutty in your house. Is it chalk like me? What is it that makes your insides cringe when your kids ask to do that very thing that bothers you most? I’d love to hear from you so I know that I’m not alone!

Cheers to chalk and all the other bothers that we tolerate for the sake of our little ones.


If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I love-make that LOVE traditions. BUT, there is something I LOVE even more.

I LOVE combining traditions WITH food.

Back in my teaching days, I’d have my 1st graders form a circle on the carpet. We would take turns going around the circle sharing our “bubble up” (good thing) that happened at school for that day. The kids eagerly anticipated Bubble Up and expressed their utter disappointment if we ran out of time and could not squeeze it in at the end of the day.

Now that I’m at home with my boys, I take as many opportunities to infuse my teaching experiences with my mommy moments. I fervently believe in family dinners. With our nutty schedules that keep us preoccupied, I hold onto the old tradition of sitting with your loved ones and sharing a meal and meaningful conversation together. Kids need that time to connect. Moms and Dads do, too.

As we begin eating Kevin and look at our children and observe which boy is showing the best table manners (elbows off the table, chewing with their mouths closed, etc.) May I say this is a much better tactic for teaching table manners than nagging? Trust me, I tried that 1st.

Once one of the boys is chosen, we ask, “What was your favorite today?” They answer, “My favorite is…” Sometimes we give everyone a moment to think of their favorite before we pick a kiddo to start so they don’t ponder their answer and make the other kids wait. Once the 1st family member shares, they have to look at the next person (of their choice), address him/her by their name, and ask, “What was your favorite?”

Not only does it give Kevin and I insight into their days, it teaches them important life skills.

“Favorites” has become a major favorite in our house. Try it tonight and let me know how it goes.

Cheers to your favorites!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who Needs Diamonds Anyway?

I got some pretty cool gifts for Mother’s Day. Who needs diamonds when you can have these:

Homemade cards (thanks hubby)

“A Mother’s Day spaceship” from Charlie and a Lego replica of me from Luke. She looks just like me.

A cookbook from Luke’s classroom.

Best of all, a necklace that I wore shamelessly.

Yeah, it is made of wood and paint, but like I said, who needs diamonds anyway?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Baby Mine

This song from the movie "Beaches" has always tugged at my heartstrings. It is such a mother's truth for her child/children. Although my children are no longer infants, they will always be my babies.

Baby mine, don't you cry.
Baby mine, dry your eyes.
Rest your head close to my heart,
never to part, baby of mine.


Little one, when you play,
pay no heed what they say.
Let your eyes sparkle and shine,
never a tear, baby of mine.


If they knew all about you,
they'd end up loving you, too.
All those same people who scold you,
what they'd give just for the right to hold you.


From your hair down to your toes,
you're not much, goodness knows.
But, you're so precious to me,
sweet as can be, baby of mine.

I wish you each a very blessed Mother's Day.

Much love,