Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude journal - Day 16

So, today, I am grateful for two things: a dead car battery in the parking lot of Giant and our king sized bed. Strange, huh? Why would I pick these two things when there are so many other things to be grateful for? Well, here's the story of my evening yesterday:

It was a great day. I had a great meeting at work and I drove towards home with a smile on my face. I stopped at Giant (grocery store) to pick up some milk for Meg and a loaf of bread. Normal day,eh? Well, when I came out, my car wouldn't start. The electrical system did some funny stuff and then nothing. I knew immediately it was the battery or the starter (from MANY issues with the Diesel stationwagon my parents owned). Now, you might say that this isn't a reason to be grateful but I truly am... Why? Because:
1. It died in a parking lot. A well-lit, not on the side of the freeway, parking lot. A parking lot that conveniently contained a car repair place within a 2 minute walk.
2. Merchant Tire and Auto was that car repair place. These guys are awesome. The technician actually drove me back to my car (he had just gotten off work), tried to jump it with the jumper cables in his trunk and when that didn't work, he went back to work and got the jumper box (much more powerful). He returned and then stayed over at work to replace my battery.
3. My battery was not just dead, it was on the verge of exploding. Every side of it was bulging from an internal leak. The technician didn't think it would have survived another month and when it went, the battery would have exploded. Now, if I was parked, no big deal. The battery fluid would leak all over the ground and the car wouldn't start. BUT, if I was driving, the battery acid would have hit a hot engine, potentially causing my engine to start on fire. It would be worse because the battery on my Crap-in-a-Box (my personal nickname for the Equinox I own) is not located on the top of my engine like most cars. It's actually under the fuse box, in the middle of the engine. Very hard to get to and impossible to see. (which is why I couldn't tell if it was dead) I shudder when I think of myself driving home with the girls and having my engine catch on fire. Yikes!

So, I am very grateful my car died in the Giant parking lot.

While that might be enough for most people to be grateful in one day, I am also grateful for my king sized bed. Why? Because when the furnace goes out - which it did last night for the 4th time in about a year - there is enough room for Steve, Annde, Meghan, and I to cuddle/huddle together under the blankets and keep warm until the next day when we can get a repair person out. While there is always some kicking/twisting and random walking up by the kiddos, I can honestly say that I at least got 4 hours of sleep and for that, I am super grateful!

Whew! Bad evening to say the least... but today is a new day and I know that I will find something new to be grateful for today. Hopefully, it won't be because of something bad happening!

Gratitude Journal - day 15

Day 15

Today, I am grateful for my parents.

I know that as children, we feel like our parents are out-of-touch and difficult. I know that I did some serious fighting with mine growing up and I am pretty sure that I am not the *best* child now - I don't call regularly and I don't write/send pics regularly. But, as we've starting dealing with the difficulties resulting from the daycare situation, I have really noticed how hard it is to *really* get to the heart and mind of a child - to find out just what they are thinking, feeling, experiencing. I am learning how hard it is to raise two smart, creative, and independant girls. I can't imaging how hard it was for my parents to raise four kids to be strong and smart and self sufficient. While us kids might not always feel like we are doing a great job or life is pretty sucky, I can only imagine how much worse it could have been if my parents hadn't laid the background and foundation that we now stand upon in our lives.

My parents taught me that marriage is more than the wedding. It's a partnership - not necessarily an easy one - that is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, celebrations and downfalls. They taught me that it's going to consist of arguments - if it doesn't, it's not a healthy relationship - and it's how you work out those issues that is important. They taught me that while opposites attract (which I think Steve and I are), it takes commitment and love to find that common ground to make it work, year after year. I saw what it took to make it through the tough times and still keep a marriage strong. I think that I am a better partner because of it. After 10 years of marriage, I am more committed and in love with Steve than I was when we walked down the aisle.

Life isn't easy - being a parent makes it even more difficult. Your heart does truly walk around outside your body. You can't always protect them and even though anyone can be a parent, it doesn't come with instructions. You will question your abilities, your decisions, your methods. I just want my parents to know (since they read this blog), that I appreciate everything you have done for me, intentional or out of love. I love you and I know that I don't tell you that enough. You have been good role models for me so I thank you. I can't wait to see you at Christmas!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude journal - day 14

Today, I am grateful that I have very creative girls... I might not never really know what is going on in each of their heads, but I love the fact that they can play by themselves for hours or with each other. Every night is a 'new game' for the Little Pets/Zoobles/My Little Ponies/etc and we even get songs, voices, and acting with those games. :) And Meghan can sit there and flip the same toy for a good 20 minutes while jibber jabbering. So cute!! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude journal - day 12-13

Day 12: Today is the MSU Basketball season opener.For those of you who know me, you know that I LOVE college basketball - especially Michigan State. So, today, I am grateful that Coach Izzo turned down what was probably an amazingly awesome contract from Cleveland to return to coach at MSU. He's such a talented coach when it comes to working with young men, I would have hated to see him go to the Pro's where there seems to be a lack of respect for coaches and in general, the game of basketball. (It's a team sport, not a bunch of superstars trotting around the court, showing their style and forgetting to play defense...) So, thank you MSU basketball for starting up a new season and thank you Coach I - I'm glad you're here to stay!
(JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/Detroit Free Press)

Day 13: Today, I am grateful that we have a wonderful farmer's market 5 minutes from our house. It's open April - Thanksgiving (yes, my sweet potatoes will be awesome!) and it's far cheaper than the grocery store. Plus, they carry these sweet babies (as well as the spicy ones) for the whole time. I love peppers and it's great I can get 3 lbs for $5! What a deal!! :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gratitude journal - day 11

Today, I am grateful for all men and women that have given their lives to defend our country.

To celebrate Veterans Day, I decided to go to Arlington National Cemetery to participate in their annual Memorial Service. There's just something about this place that is so powerful. Maybe it was the fall wind whipping through the gravestones and the spirits of these extremely brave men and women who have given everything in service to our country that just put the tingle on your skin.

Of course, since the VP was speaking, we had to be there early, but I brought a book and listened to the President's band play patriotic music. Very touching. I looked around and I was excited to see so many young people. It was refreshing because they weren't always with parents.

When the canons started to go off (21x), the VP had arrived. He laid a wretch at the tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and then joined us in the Amphitheater. The VP had a nice speech, honoring those who had fallen and reiterating our job as Americans is to thank these Veterans daily for service, not just wait until 11/11 to do so.

One of the best parts of the service was this guy singing. What a voice!! He obviously loves doing it too. This was the end of God Bless America.

It was a nice day - 50s and sunny. I looked up as I was leaving and the sun was framed just right...

After the service, I walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers to watch the wretch presentations by each of the Veterans organizations before heading home.

Of course, these morons (right side of the pic) decided to try and ruin everyone's day but honestly, most people just walked right by without even looking. The Harley riders kept them from coming anywhere near anyone. Thanks!!

I hope you spent an enjoyable Veterans day as well, honoring those who have paid the ultimate price. I want to thank all those in my life who have or are serving. There are too many of you to list - but I thank each one of you for everything you do! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Meg's 1 Year Old (Lotsa pics!!)

Today, I am grateful for Meghan.
We were blessed with her presence last year today. (Nov 10)
She didn't necessarily want to come out of her cozy home but once she did, she changed our lives forever.
She's such a happy girl!
Walking and talking, dancing and singing. The child's energy seems boundless.
Her favorite thing: Dad! Followed closely by Mom, Annde, and food. She's also into phones and remotes.
She can be shy and sweet or loud and outgoing.
And when she nuzzles into Dad, it's the sweetest thing ever.
Here's some pics of our birthday evening:

This is the cake that I made and Annde decorated. It's a giant cupcake!

When Annde and Meg walked in - they went right to playing with Meg's gift: A Kitchen with all the fixins'!

Meg enjoyed pulling EVERYTHING out of the refrigerator!
Soon, it was dinner time. Even though Annde thought we should start with cake, we started with one of Meg's favorite meals: Chicken and green beans. Even Annde got into the act and ate some snap peas to go with her Chicken and pasta. Man, Meg really loves food!! (Look at that smile!)

Now, it was time for cake! Look who's ready!!

First, we have to sing and blow out the candles. (Yep, Meg did go for the candles first!)

She was hesitant at first... then Dad put a bit of frosting in her mouth and...

Let the fun begin!!

She polished off a bunch of the cake before we took it away cause she was starting to play instead of eat it. On to presents (once we cleaned her up of course!)

Today, she's tired. She got up early and I think she was a bit bummed that there was no more presents or cake. But, how cute does she look in one of her new outfits?!?!

Happy Birthday, Meggie!! We love you and can't wait to spend year 2 with you!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gratitude journal - day 9

Today, I am grateful that I have such cool people to work with - can't you tell from their snazzy facebook pics? These two, Sarah and Rachel, are especially fun! Together we make up the Transfer Under Pressure engineering team and we work really well together. I know that I have been blessed through the years to work with a lot of awesome female engineers (Rachel A, Jill W, Teresa VH, Amy B, Terria L, Karen C, and the list goes on). For that, I am thankful and I miss those of you still in Michigan!

Yesterday was Sarah's birthday and we had a great time at Good Eats, the burger restaurant from that DC cook on Top Chef. LOVE the fries there! (and the burger wasn't bad too)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gratitude journal - day 8

Day 8

So today, I am grateful that I have a high pain tolerance. Seriously! I think I inherited the gene for klutziness. I am constantly tripping over things or falling down. How many broken toes do I have from tripping over steps? Steve says I just need to look where I am going but I think it's an ingrained skill. Usually, I can be graceful and catch myself before I hit pavement. Today... yeah, no grace. I hit the ground hard. Ripped a huge gash in my pants and the knee below them. My palms took a beating too. But, I picked myself up, walked the rest of the mile to my car, and came home. My hip and knee hurt. My wrists hurt. But, I keep on going. Pain is not in charge of me! HA! So, I am thankful that I can take a licking and keep on going...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude journal - days 4 -7

Day 4
Today, I am grateful, so overwhelmingly grateful that I have great parents in my girl scout troop. One of them, Anne Hoffman, lead me to Kim. Today, I interviewed Kim about becoming my new daycare. Some of you know how stressful the last 5 months with Kay have been. It's been overwhelming by how fast a situation can go bad. We've been very stressed out by our lack of options and Anne led me to an opening with Kim. Kim is everything we wanted in a daycare - she reminds us of Lynne, our daycare from Michigan. And now, since Kim had openings for Annde and Meg, we will be back in that loving, educational environment - full of activities and laughter and light. I can't tell you how quickly the weight on my shoulders lifted after that interview. Telling Kay we were done was VERY hard - she took it very badly and cut us off immediately (like I figured she would). But that's good - cause Kim is able to take us Monday! And, now Annde gets to ride the bus!! :)

Day 5
Today, I am grateful that we have an amazing friend, Kevin. Kevin flew in to spend some time with Steve (and the rest of the family) to not only celebrate his graduation with his Masters but also as my gift to Steve for our 10 year anniversary. It was great to see how relaxed Steve has been since Kevin got here. Those two have been friends for almost 20 years and I am glad to see that the friendship has not diminished since we left Michigan.
Day 6
Today, I am grateful for my husband. This is a picture from dinner where we celebrated our 10 year anniversary (a few months late) and Kevin's graduation with his Masters. Fogo de Chao is a fun restaurant where you eat WAY TOO MUCH. It was such a fun and relaxing meal. I am so thankful that I've had these last 10+ years with Steve! I could get really sappy here but y'all know how I feel about him! :)

Day 7
Today, I am grateful for the enthusiasm of my 6 year old, Anndelyn. We went to the Butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum and she was SOOO excited. She didn't want to leave! I love her enthusiasm over simple things like a butterfly landing on her hand. (One landed on mine too). Meg was shrieking in her backpack too... She's never seen butterflies like this before. I think we saw at least 20 different kinds of butterflies while we were there!

Well, I am off to get stuff ready for the first day at Kim's! Yeah!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gratitude journal - days 2 and 3

So I'm a bit behind for posting:

Nov 2 - I am grateful that I get the opportunity to vote on who I want in charge. The candidates might drive me nuts with the mudslinging and the political ads/calls but I get to vote and express my opinion on who I think will do a better job. A lot of people in this world have to take what they get so I am glad that I don't.

Nov 3 - I am grateful that I have a happy and healthy baby. Meg's 1 yr checkup went awesome! She's now 25 lbs, 31", and walking like a fiend! :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Start of Grateful journal

For the month of November, I am going to list one thing each day I am thankful for. Then, at Thanksgiving, me and my BFF Tracy are going to put together the mini-albums I made for us to document these 30 days of gratitude. I also made one for my sissy, Susan, cause I am thankful that she sees me as someone to bounce ideas off of and turns to me for assistance. I am thankful that we don't fight like we did as kids!

So, here goes:

November 1st: I am thankful my child is getting a high quality education. I am thankful she is absorbing everything that is taught to her. I wish she had a teacher right now that I felt was a better match for her. But, I am thankful she's taken this year in stride - from having to make new friends, wearing glasses, and having homework - and really grown with it after only 9 weeks. I can't wait to see where she ends up at the finish of 1st grade.

(NOTE: Great report card, not so great parent/teacher conference. I am not happy with her teacher and we're going to have to find some way to work together to benefit Annde. I firmly believe that 6 year olds should not be entrusted to remember ALL the important stuff that parents need to know to help assist them (aka - homework expectations, what they need to remember to bring the next day, what they are working on, how to do assignments correctly...) I shouldn't have to guess if I am grading something correctly, if the teacher has expectations of how she wants it filled out. I have only had 3 notes/communications from the teacher in 9 weeks - 2 notes on Annde behavior and 1 on her surgery. That's it. I don't find that acceptable if she wants me to assist in reinforcing what's she's teaching in class or to make sure we are doing what she wants at home (reading 20 min, etc...), especially since the other teachers in 1st grade are communicating weekly with parents.)

Off to finish my lunch and back to work! :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween and a MSU letdown...

So, Iowa spanked our football team hard - yikes! MSU must have been reading their own press-clippings a bit too much this week. What a disappointing effort. Good think I was cosmic bowling with the Brownies, or I would have been seriously bummed (actually watching the game).

But on to a better topic - Halloween!
Meg and Annde had a blast trick-r-treating. It was the perfect night for it - warmish with minimal wind. Only 3 people called Meg a boy. Guess the shoes weren't a big enough clue? (Pink sparkly shoes)

We went out with the Rashids - we had a lot of fun. Great neighborhood with lots of houses.
Here's the trick-r-treat crew:

Here's Dad and Meg starting out... The first house she walked to... and then she got a rest in between houses for the rest of the night.
Here are the speed demons - they (with Steve) finished the block really quick and then went inside to play games instead of moving on to another block. (Yeah! Less candy in our house to throw out...)

End of the night - Meg was still in a great mood - and wondering where her candy kept going... (Mom kept sneaking it out of the bucket on her.)

What a great first Halloween!! :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just a couple of quick notes...

It's been very crazy around here lately. For the last 3-4 weeks, Steve's been working 20+ hour days. This trend of longer days has really been going on for 4 months now (12-14 hr days). It's been rough on him and everyone else. It's been awhile since I've had to be the single parent so it's taken me a couple of weeks to get in the groove. The girls - not so much. Annde's been upset more (more tantrums at night when Steve isn't home) and Meg cries/won't be put down by Steve when she does get to actually see him. Me - I am doing my best to roll with it. It's hard, to say the least.

I want to thank the officer who pulled Steve over this morning on his way home. Yes, this morning. Steve left for work on Wednesday at 5am. Steve came home from work this morning at 5:30am. He dropped off a co-worker at a hotel and was making a (what he now knows is an illegal) u-turn around a center median when he got pulled over. He explained the situation to the officer, who thankful let him go with a warning. It would have made an already bad day even worse. Luckily, Steve got home and went straight to bed.

So - since I have been resuming my role of Super Mom, my scrapbooking has somewhat fallen to the wayside. I did pick up this cute Mom Calendar at CVS for $8 (for 1.5 years!!) to replace my bigger calendar, which was too big for my purse now. (Thanks to Katy for hosting that purse party - I LOVE my new 31 purse!!) I love that it has a removable cover insert that I can scrap book and the whole calendar has a plastic case to protect it! Here's my first cover... obviously it will change when I get bored. I scrapbooked over the insert (folded over frame) so I can replace the pictures whenever I want with new ones, without impacting my layout. The back also has a envelope for paper so I just slid a solid piece of the black flower paper in to complete the look.

Looking forward to the weekend! We have the Ghost Ship Barry (The Navy Yard turns the Display Ship Barry into a haunted house for kids (2 levels of scaryness for different ages) on Friday, Cosmic Bowling and Soccer on Saturday, Trick-r-Treating with the Rashids on Sunday and the Annde gets 2 days off for parent teacher conferences... Yikes! I hope she does well...

Plus - it's only 2 weeks until Meghan turns one! How you resist this cute little giraffe?!?!In case you were wondering, the comb was to comb the mane of the giraffe but Meghan wanted to play with it instead of letting Annde comb it.

Have a good day! My hubby is up so I am going to go smile and chat with him!

Monday, October 18, 2010

GOAL!!! (and a few pages...)

So, Annde is still learning the basics of the sport but we were so excited that she had a breakaway goal this week! She tried really hard the WHOLE game (for the first time ever) - no picking grass, no daydreaming or trotting behind the pack until she could be substituted out.

Before the game, we had team pictures. Yes, I bought them. Yes, they are overpriced. But, how cute is this girl?!?! (These were mine afterwards)

Here's her goal - look at that shy little smile on face as if she's realizing that it's going to go in. I was clapping too much afterwards to take a picture - wish I had. She was sooo excited this time.
I've also finished up a few more of the challenges over at Collections Coordinates. This one I did using the first Get Picky sketch - it's a new sketch site and I love what I've seen so far. The Challenge at CC was to use a quote in the title... I used the song by JaneDear Girls called "Wildflowers"...
This one I did with Annde. She picked out the materials and she drew the heart I stitched (thanks Crate Paper for that suggestion on your blog). We worked together to lay it out although I did all the actual work). I love the result!
That's it for now. I am working on a couple of mini books right now. Pictures to come once I'm done! 2 lucky people in my life will be getting these mini-books in the mail within the next couple of weeks...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cyber Crop at Coordinates Collections & lots of pictures for Grandma!

I'm having fun this weekend playing at the Cyber Crop over at Coordinates Collections. I challenged myself - since it's a Friday night and I've been up since 4:30am to do a couple of layouts. I hope to finish the challenges later on this weekend.

So, here's the first two:

This challenge was to use 5 different patterned papers (of 3 different manufacturers). I wanted the page to stay simple so that the pictures would really stand out since they were so dark. I like the mixture of colors and the simplicity in the embellishments.

The next page is a page to document Meghan's trip home from the hospital. I wanted these to go side-by-side in the album so I had to try and fit all the pictures on one page. That worked well with the second challenge I completed, Use 6 pictures in a layout. I've really noticed that lately my pages are taking on a cleaner look - maybe the days of Jana's 10 pound pages are gone... :)

Then I noticed that my scrap idea notebook was out of pages so I whipped together a new one with scraps from Basic Grey's Indian Summer collection (and a bit of other stuff)... I think I will take out some thread and stitch around the edge of the pink paper to finish the look off a bit more. I have to sew that button back on Steve's shirt anyway... :)
And lastly, because Mom doesn't have Facebook, here's some cute grandkid pictures for you! Meghan is walking all over now - not much knee walking anymore. Look out! The kid can easily take anything off the table or countertop now if it's near the edge. Dad learned when Meg took his Mt. Dew away... HA!

This was one of my favorite pictures! I love her expression here... Plus, you can't see it but Meghan now has 8 teeth! (4 top, 4 bottom)... Dad rode the "cow train" with the girls. I love the fact that he made the effort to fit as you can see below... definitely not made for 6'6!
One of the best parts of a pumpkin patch on a farm is the corn maze - this one was pretty neat too!
Here's some cute pictures of the girls in the patch!

A few more pics from the day before at the Burke Fall Festival:... and after MSU destroyed UM on the football field....

I can't believe this baby is almost 1 year old! It doesn't seem like she's been with us that long but we are glad she has... I can't imagine life with out our little chatty, walking, and always happy NutMeg!