Want to follow my blog?
Pick a way to do it!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Too much fun for one day

I took entirely too many pictures today. That's all there is to it.

Daniel and I went to the zoo - along with roughly 60 other kindergarten kids from his school. We got to spend the majority of the day there, and I only had him and one other little girl with me so we were able to really enjoy it. I even got to ride the school bus, which brought back some interesting memories from *cough* 20+ years ago.

I managed to narrow down the 300+ pictures that I took, and here are a few highlights....

Love the otters - they're always so playful, but hard to capture
with the camera.

Red Panda - only the second time I've actually seen one - they always
seem to hide from me.

Sad gorilla.


He was a little worried about the hippo.

Obligatory dorky self-portrait.

Didn't even notice the heart at first.

She was a 'take charge' kind of gal.

Who wouldn't want to examine the poop???


What's up with the hearts?
After we got back to the school, I ran home, grabbed the truck, grabbed The Dude, ran a couple of errands with him, got the boys from school, took The Dude home, ran a few more errands, dumped the boys at The Dude's house, and went to Sarah's track meet.

This girl....she amazes me. Seriously. She kicked some serious booty tonight.


Absolutely loving the green. Finally.

She ended up with 5th place in high jump...

4th in long jump.....

They got 2nd place in the 4x100 relay....

...and thanks to her amazing lead they got first in the 4x200 relay.
The weather was glorious and amazing and almost hot and sunny all day long - I even got a little bit of a sunburn. It's a good thing that I got to enjoy it today, because I get to go back to the zoo tomorrow with Alex and the rest of the 1st graders.....

.....when it'll be barely 60 degrees....

.....with a 60% chance of thunderstorms.....

.....and the possibility of snow tomorrow night.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wish Flowers

My kids call these "wish flowers".

They pick them, make a wish, close their eyes, and blow with all their might, hoping that the power of their breath is enough to force every single piece of "cotton" off of the stem, granting their wish immediately.

To see their innocence and hope every time that they do this is both inspiring and heartbreaking. Knowing that they have placed all of their hope and faith on a common weed makes me realize just how trusting they can be, but knowing that the weed doesn't have the power to make everything right is just as disappointing for me as it is for them.

As their mother, I want to make all of their wishes come true. As a human, I know that's impossible. How can I do for them what I can't even do for myself?

As a parent, I think one of the hardest things ever is to see my kids want something and not be able to provide that for them - be it a material item or not. It's no secret that I don't have money to burn, so when the kids ask for something.... a new bike, or new 'cooler' shoes, or to go out to eat, or whatever... and I have to say "I'm sorry, but we can't afford that right now" it absolutely breaks my heart. But at the same time, I try to use that as a teaching moment - "we can't always do what we want all of the time, but if we work toward a goal and save our money, we can do it another time" or something similar to that. I think that it teaches them something, and I think that they learn to appreciate things more because of this, and I know that will help them in the long run - but it doesn't negate the fact that right now - it sucks.

I hate using money - or the lack of it - to teach my kids life lessons, but when you get right down to it, so much of our lives nowadays revolves around money. Our kids are being taught by society in general that they have to have the newest best biggest brightest thing or they're not cool - and to me, that's just wrong. And I'm trying to teach my kids that they don't have to have all that to be cool.

Every now and then, there's a moment when I think that maybe I've gotten through to them - like today, when we were driving to church in The Dude's chariot and Emily looked at me and said "Mom, when I get old enough to drive, I want a truck just like this - I don't want a new one, I want an old one" and I could have hugged and kissed her right then and there if I wasn't driving. She thinks that the old beat up truck is cool - and that makes me so happy.

Right now, 98% of the enormous stress in my life revolves around money - or the lack of it. We need money to fix my van, we need money to move, we need money to get The Dude's surgery on his shoulder, we need money to plan our yearly TMOART to see my parents.....money money money. But as The Dude reminded me today: "We will get through this - we've gotten through worse, and we'll get through this too, because we're too badass not to."

Don't tell him, but I'm beginning to think that he's my own version of a wish flower - except that instead of me being able to push him around and get my way, his strength in tough situations is what is keeping me from totally losing my mind.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

That could have gone better.

Today was the first 5K that I've done in quite a while - since September, maybe? I didn't train like I should have, so I knew that it was going to be a struggle - and it definitely was. I had to walk quite a bit of it, but I was also able to jog more than I thought that I would.

I've done this same race 3 times before, and it's always taken the same route. As we started running, things were going fine and we were going the same way that we always had - but then at one point, everyone started going a different direction. The chalk line on the road went in the direction that I thought that we should have been going - but we didn't. I followed the crowd, thinking maybe they had made a last minute adjustment to the course because of the rain that we've been (thankfully) having lately. 

As it turned out, we all went the wrong way - so instead of running the full 3.1 miles, we only did about 2.9. I'm not happy - and neither are a whole lot of other women. But, there's nothing that can be done about it now. It also means that our times aren't accurate - I mean, our total time is (although it's not for 3.1 miles) but our pace isn't because we didn't do the full distance.

Anyway, I finished in 40:41, and Emily finished in 39:15 - at least I'm finally starting to catch up with my kids, but I don't think that I'll ever be faster than they are.
There were a few people running.


Not quite sure what I was doing there -
probably praying for survival.

Keeping themselves amused during the race.

Post-race snack.

I made it!
And to give credit where credit is due, Ex1 took this picture.
(He was there to watch Emily and his wife run.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

My chariot...and other random thoughts.

Since my van is officially dead - to the tune of $2300 to replace a blown head gasket (ha! right!) - it's sitting in my driveway until we figure out what to do with it. I refuse to panic about it yet - I did enough of that  yesterday. Today I started making phone calls to figure out ways to do it cheaper than that - and I will not panic again until all of my possibilities are exhausted. It's not worth the panic. There are bigger problems in the world. This is just a hiccup.

(Yes, I'm trying to convince myself of that as well.)

Anyway, since The Dude is out of town for an extended playdate with his buddies, he handed over the keys to his truck. It isn't pretty, and I can be heard from miles away, but right now it gets us where we need to go.....

Yes, we have reverted to the days of lap belts and actually rolling down the windows. There is nothing computerized or electronic about this baby - and that's ok with me.

We will use the chariot to get us to a 5K tomorrow - Emily and I are running. Well, she's running, and I'm probably walking since I haven't done anything to get ready for it. Life has just been too hectic lately. I'm bummed, but at least I'm still getting out there to do it. And no matter how slow I go, I'm still lapping everyone on the couch.

I have to remind myself of that next weekend when I do the half-marathon. Whoops.

.....speaking of Emily......

For crying out loud, people. The Tooth Fairy letter surfaced again today. People just need to get over themselves and stop armchair parenting other people's kids. Seriously. The pages who shared it were awesome - and they made sure that I got credit for it (which is more than the majority of pages who shared it did) but the people who commented on it - WOW. Most of the insults were aimed at me, which is fine. But there were a few who insinuated that my kid was lazy, or disrespectful, or whatever. Don't get me wrong - my kids are far from perfect, but I will not put up with strangers badmouthing them when they don't even know my kids. And so, to those people I say..... judgmental people suck.

Finally....I know that I've been sharing THIS POST a bunch. But it's really really important. Read it. Share it. Please. And notice the challenge - because as of right now, no one is going to see ME in a moomoo and mohawk. If you want to change that, the only way is to donate more money. Take that couple of bucks that you were going to spend on your next cup of overpriced coffee and donate it to a good cause. Seriously. It doesn't take much to add up to something big. And that something big could be a cure.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The best part of the day

I dropped my van off at the garage this morning to get the issues with it diagnosed - needless to say it did not end up being a happy experience. There's no way that I can afford to have them fix it, so I'm going to go back up there tomorrow and pick it up and limp it home and then we'll work on figuring out Plan B. I've already had my nervous breakdown over it, and I refuse to stress about it anymore. We'll figure it out, just like we always do.

The Dude is leaving tomorrow to go out of town for a couple of days with his best friend and he's leaving his truck here for me to use so I won't be stranded. It's big and old and ugly, but it runs so at this point, I'll take it. At least we have something to use for a few days.

I got lots of walking in today too. And it was kind of funny - as I was walking home from work, I heard this loud truck rumble past me and when I looked, it was The Dude and his mother heading back to their house after an appointment. I tried to get his attention, but he wasn't looking in my direction - so I walked to his house (I was only about 2 blocks away at that point) and made him drive me home so that we could talk about the van - but I also told him that he got brownie points because since he didn't notice me walking down the road, I knew that he wasn't eyeballing girls while he was out running errands. ;)

But the best part of the day was going to the boys' parent-teacher conferences. These were student-led conferences, meaning that the kids had checklists of everything that they were supposed to show us in the classroom, and they checked off each one as they completed it. Then we talked to the teacher and the kids got a coupon to use at the book fair. The Dude has been struggling with his injured shoulder, but he managed to make it through the conferences with me, much to the boys' delight.

Reading corner in Alex's room

Showing off artwork

Alex's tennis player

Daniel reading us a story

Daniel's artwork

The Dude and Daniel - they had to go get his flower that
he forgot to get from his room.

Both boys are doing well in school. Academically they are both ahead of where they need to be. There are some behavioral issues, but nothing that isn't already being addressed. All in all, I really can't complain. And having The Dude there to go to the conferences with us - especially since he really didn't feel up to it - means more to me than he'll ever know.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A year of love...and bizarre connections

One year ago today I took a step that I swore that I would never take again.

I finally admitted that I was in love with The Dude - and I told him.

It was kind of funny how it came about. A dear friend of mine needed a ride to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. She came here and spent the night, and we got maybe an hour of sleep before we had to get up and hit the road for the 3 hour drive. The Dude spent the night as well so that he could take Alex to school for me that morning, and he was still (half)asleep when we were getting ready to leave. I was honestly worried about having an accident because I had gotten so little sleep and had 6 hours of driving ahead of me, and I figured that if I was going to die in a fiery crash, then by God he was going to know how I felt about him. (Yes, that is seriously the thought that went through my head at the time.)

Before she and I walked out the door, I walked back over to the bed, sat down on the edge of it, gave him a quick kiss and told him that I loved him. And yes, he said it back to me. :)

Needless to say, I made it back alive - and incredibly happy. We've made it through great times and bad, but somehow we always manage to do it together and we haven't strangled each other - yet. I'm still not sure how he puts up with my crap on a daily basis, but he does and I am forever grateful for that.

Dreaming of hot days out at the lake.....

Now, here's where the story gets kind of funny. The friend who needed a ride to the airport - well, she has a facebook page and a blog and they can be found here. We have another friend who - surprise - has a page and a blog and they can be found here. The three of us have been friends for almost 9 years now, and we've also had our shares of ups and downs - but we'll always be friends no matter what. Plus we have this really bizarre connection - 1st Time Mama and I share our "non-anniversary" - we each married our first husbands on August 14, 1999 - long before we knew each other. August 14 also happens to be Ordinary Girl's birthday.

Plus, today is 1st Time Mama's birthday AND it's the anniversary of the day that I admitted that I love The Dude.

There are other eerie similarities and connections between the three of us, but I'll leave the rest of it up to your imaginations!

So, go and visit their pages and make sure that you wish 1st Time Mama a very happy birthday too - she's on a road trip at the moment so I'm not sure how often she's checking in, but it would be cool for her to find lots of birthday wishes on her page!

Grocery shopping - NSM style

Some of you expressed an interest in how I was able to go to the grocery store today and buy a month's worth of groceries for me and 2-5 kids on $216. I promised that I would explain, so here it is.

My first step was to make up a menu. 

Keep in mind that I don't have all 5 kids with me all of the time. The older 3 spend half of their time at their father's house, so on those nights I generally don't plan meals - we either eat leftovers, or I make something small for the 3 of us who are here. I plan the meals for when we are all here. The kids also eat breakfast at school on some days, and also eat lunch there - so that cuts down on my meal planning a lot (until summer break).

Once I have the menu made up, I go through meal by meal and list out all of the ingredients on my grocery list. After I get the first draft of the list made, I go through the cupboards and cross off anything that I already have, and double-check to see if I need anything else. At that point I have my final grocery list.

I don't really do coupons. Our grocery store sends some out based on our purchases, and so I use those because they're actually for stuff that I use. But I don't have the time or the patience to do much more than that with coupons. Not to mention that I don't have the storage space for 873 cans of tuna or 47 cases of toilet paper. I buy what I need - period.

So....what did I buy?

The stuff that's edited out is just what was duplicated when I took the pictures - so what you see is every single item that we got.

Yes, there's a bottle of Mt. Dew and a king-sized Snickers up there at the top. We were hungry. And thirsty. But other than that, there is no junk food on there. I don't buy cookies and chips and crackers - I make all of our snacks from scratch. It's not that I think I'm SuperMom or anything like that - it's just cheaper. And while I'm (obviously) not a health food nut, if I make the stuff I at least know what's in it.

I splurged a little bit and got a 10 pound package of ground beef this time although we didn't really need that much - but it was on sale and this way we'll have it. I'll divide it up into 7-8 packages tonight and stick it in the freezer to use for meals throughout the month.

There's also not a ton of fresh produce on there - and there are a couple of reasons for that. To be completely honest, we don't eat as much as we should (although we are getting better about it). Also, where I now work I can get some produce and lots of dairy stuff at a slight discount AND it's super fresh - plus I don't have to have the cash for it because they just take our purchases out of our paychecks. So I will be getting more of that stuff throughout the month, but not in large quantities so that it will be fresh and not go to waste.

But as of right now, there is enough stuff in this house to make everything on that menu - plus some. So although I will have to get a few more things throughout the month, for the most part I am done grocery shopping for the next 4 weeks. I also plan to keep track of the little purchases that I make here and there and get a better idea of the total amount that I spend over these next 4 weeks, but I'm guessing that I can keep the total under $300.

PLEASE NOTE: Some of you know where I live, and/or where I shop. It's obvious that this is a Kroger store, but let's just leave it at that, ok? And I am NOT going to say where I work, so don't ask - and if you know, please don't say it. I hate to even have to bring this up, but I've had to do some filtering over the past couple of weeks so I thought I'd just mention it here. I know I put a lot of my life out here for everyone to see - but that doesn't mean that I want to give the wackos and nutjobs directions to my front door.

Monday, April 22, 2013

I have a plan...

Earlier this evening, I mentioned that I was formulating a plan - but I didn't say what it was.

Well, here it is: the reveal.

Seriously, it's not that big of a deal. Well, it kind of is. But not really. 

I always say that I'm going to plan out my month of meals so that when I get my money towards the end of the month, I can do one huge grocery shopping trip and be done with it. Sometimes I do it, and sometimes I don't. What usually ends up happening is that on that day, I spend a couple of hours paying bills, then run some errands, and then race into the store "just to get something for tonight" and then go home. Then the next day I get just a few more things - and so on and so on, and I end up running out of stuff and it's really annoying.

So, since we didn't have to go anywhere tonight, I sat down and started making a menu for the next month - with the help of so many wonderful people on my facebook page. But I made the menu, and then I made the grocery list - more or less.

Both of them are really pretty rough drafts at this point - I'll probably rearrange a few days on the menu because I forgot about an after-school activity or something like that, but for the most part, my menu and my grocery list for the next month is DONE. I can tweak it some between now and Wednesday, but now as soon as the kids are in school I can pay the bills and go to the store before I go to work, and all will be good.

This is something that I really want to stick to this month - with me working now, my time is even more limited, so doing this should really help to eliminate some of the stress and chaos that I deal with on a normal basis - theoretically, at least.

So that's one problem solved.

Now to figure out how to get my van running again. And to get The Dude back up on his feet. And to get moved into a bigger house.

Winning the lottery would definitely be a big help right about now. But since that's not going to happen, it's just one battle at a time.


We still need your help.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I'll rise

I went camping this weekend with Alex and Daniel. It was a Scout thing, and although it was horribly cold and windy and at times downright miserable, the boys had a great time and we survived the weekend with very few serious issues for the amount of kids that we had with us.

While we were there and I was basically unplugged from the world, it gave me a break from thinking a whole heck of a lot.  But now that we're back and the clothes are unpacked and the laundry is (almost) done, it's back to reality.

Things are piling up again, and my plate is full - and like I mentioned on my facebook page, it's not full of chocolate.

~The Dude is facing what will most likely be major surgery on his shoulder, and right now he is miserable - and I can't do anything to help. He's not working, but there are still bills to be paid on his end.
~We are still looking to move as soon as we can, but of course, that takes money - lots of money - whether we decide to rent or buy.
~It appears that my van needs to have some work done on it. Like, now. I probably shouldn't be driving it, but I don't have much of a choice.

Needless to say, all of that adds to my normally stressful and chaotic life. I actually spoke to my boss last week and she gave me a few additional hours this week so that will help financially. I've all but cut out any frivolous spending on my end in order to save as much money as possible so that we can get through all of this stuff, and I'm looking into some other opportunities to make money that I've known about but ignored up until now.

Bottom line is this: no matter what happens, we're going to get through all of the BS. Even though right now I feel not only like my plate is full, but that I've been smacked upside the head with it - things are going to fall into place and we're going to survive. The Dude will get his shoulder fixed and be back to 100% soon, we'll get moved into a new fabulous wonderful place, and my van will be roadworthy again.

It might not happen today or tomorrow or next week - but I know that we are going to get through it.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

It must suck to be so scarred.

Remember how people were telling me that Emily was going to be scarred for life because of the Tooth Fairy letter?

Spelling bee - 15 kids competed and she was in until
the next-to-last round.

What a horrible, awful, scarred child. 
It all just goes back to my belief that judgmental people suck - and I think that it's funny that so many people said that the letter was the worst thing that I ever could have done to her - because I'm pretty sure that it's not.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I've mentioned before that we're trying to move to a different house. My older three kids go to school in one district that's about 15 miles from here, and my younger two go to school here. Needless to say, it's crazy at times with all of the running back and forth.

We've been just kinda'-sorta' looking for a while. Not being in a huge rush to move helps, but then again I've had the urge to really get the ball rolling lately so that we can hopefully be moved and settled well before the next school year starts - or better yet, as soon as this school year ends. I've been looking online, or calling about houses that I've seen while out driving around, and I've called realtors. We haven't really decided if we want to rent or buy yet for a few reasons - so we're just kind of waiting to see what happens.

Anyway, today The Dude and I went and looked at a house. It definitely has potential for us, in spite of the overly festive blue bathroom. It needs some work (and better paint colors) but it could be "our" house. There are a lot of details to work out with the seller though and we are trying to be very careful before we even decide if this is the one that we want to get.

So don't get too excited. We haven't decided for sure. It's still early.

But on the way back here, we stopped for lunch and talked about it some more. For a lot of reasons that I'm just not going to discuss because it's between me and him, whatever house we get will be in my name. Not his. Not ours. Mine.

He jokingly asked me if I was going to make him sign a lease when we moved in together. I laughed, told him no (actually I gave him a really dirty answer, but I'll leave that up to your imagination) and we continued on our merry way.

But then I started thinking. And processing. Because that's what I do.

Here we are, almost 17 months into this relationship - and he still puts up with me and my nonsense. Not only does he still put up with it, but he wants to live with it. Not only that, but he is willing to move in with us without anything on paper saying that I have to keep him around for the long haul.

Not that I plan on getting rid of him or anything, mind you. Because I don't. But that's a lot of trust on his part - and the fact that he trusts me that much is a lot for me to digest. This is a huge step for both of us for so many reasons, and it's scary. For once in my life though, I am not going to let fear stand in my way. Whether we end up with this house or another house, we are going to work together to make this happen.

And hopefully I won't lose any more of my mind in the process.

Monday, April 15, 2013

At a loss.

I just don't know that I can say much more than I already said.

I don't know what else to say. This one ...... this one is bothering me more than some of the other recent tragedies for some reason. Maybe because I have 2 races scheduled in the next 3 weeks. Maybe because a little boy the same age as Jared was killed. Maybe because part of Daniel's biological family lives in the Boston area.

We all deal with tragedy in different ways. Some of us sit, glued to the television or the computer, waiting for every report, every picture, every video. Some of us ignore it. Some of us pray, or cry, or scream, or laugh. Some of us post inspirational sayings or memes, or change our profile pictures, or join online movements or groups to show our support to the victims.

I don't know what I'm doing yet. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I do know that when I have a few moments tomorrow I'm going to run a huge bag of clothes to a local charity that gives them away for free so that others can get some use out of them. And I'm going to wear a t-shirt from one of the races that I've done in the past. Neither one of these motions will change anything - nothing can change what happened. Nothing can bring back the lives that were lost today. Maybe donating those clothes will make someone else's life easier. Wearing a race t-shirt shows my support for the running community as we all try to understand what happened today.

We can't all be there on the scene to physically help, and we can't all afford to send donations. But we can all do something on a local level, no matter how small - and that something has the potential to have a positive impact on someone else's life.

Something horrible happened today - but we can make positive things come out of it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Some relief

Not so long ago, I posted a bunch of pictures from a local-ish river that had all but dried up from our drought. It got even worse after those pictures, and it's stayed that way pretty much all winter.

But, we managed to get some snow, and some rain, and so things are starting to turn green again and the river has regained most of its water. Today was the first chance that we got to actually stop and take some pictures. It was even more fun because it was a rare occasion when I only had Jared and Daniel with me, so they had a field day running around enjoying themselves.

Make sure you look at that other link to see how dry it actually was - but this is what it looked like today.

No walking across it now...

And yes, I totally did a Rocky and ran up the steps.

See the splash? That was a really
big rock.

After we got done playing here, we went out for ice cream and then came home and hung out for a while until the other kids came home. The Wounded Dude came over this evening and hung out while I worked on some crafty stuff and we got to watch a movie together before he went back over to his place (he fell on the ice and messed up his shoulder - we'll know more about the extent of it on Tuesday) so at least we got to spend a little bit of time together.

The rest of the week is going to be crazy. We have appointments left and right for all sorts of fun (and not so fun) stuff, and work, and kid schedules, and who-knows-what-else....

One day at a time...