Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flaunt It Friday: How I Met Your Father

The Mommy Kelly's Flaunt it Friday challenge this week is to give insight into perhaps the most significant relationship in my life: a peek at me and my significant other. This challenge is to be less about the pictures, and more about the story.

It was January 1994. I was in my sophomore year at college and had a job selling Cutco Knives via in home presentations since the summer. I was doing a pretty good job selling knives, in fact I had just won a scholarship from the company for being in the top 25 in the nation for sales while attending school full time. This had earned me some prestige and a position as assistant manager in my office.

One night I had just finished a sales demo, and decided to stop the office on my way home. When I got there my manager, Steven was just finishing up an interview. We called them interviews, but really it was a huge group of people who just sat through an hour presentation about being a Cutco sales rep and anyone who wanted the job would be hired.

Steven was happy to see me. His “interview” had been pretty large and he wanted me to keep the group occupied while he pulled each of them out of the room to offer them a position. My job was to keep anyone from leaving before Steven got a chance to talk to them. Steven pointed out one boy in particular, he told me to make sure the boy didn’t leave.

The boy was Jeff. I can call him a boy, because he was 18 years old at the time. I focused all my attention on Jeff for at least 90 minutes while Steven sorted through the other job candidates. It was a strategy of Steven’s to “leave the best for last.” So, Jeff was left for last and of course got hired. Now he was scheduled for a 3 day group training seminar for that weekend. Steven asked me to stop in on the training whenever I wasn’t on sales demos.

Usually when I am telling this story, Jeff is around to interject. He isn’t here now, so I get to tell this next part my way.

Jeff followed me around like a puppy dog. If the training group went out to lunch, he would make sure he was in my car. The group went bowling one night and Jeff insisted it was easiest for him to come to my apartment first. When the next semester of classes started, Jeff managed to add himself into two classes that I was already enrolled in.

I didn’t mind Jeff ALWAYS being around, but I wasn't particularly interested either. Truth be told, I had a crush on someone else.

One night my parents called to tell me that they bought a new TV, and I could have their old one. I was ecstatic. I was a poor college student who had been living without a TV for months. I needed help picking up this TV and moving it into my upstairs apartment so I contacted Jeff and the other boy I had a crush on. Jeff said yes, the other boy said no. Jeff and I spent an hour in the car together driving to and from my parent’s house. It was then that I started to realize how much fun I had with Jeff, and what a jerk this other boy was.

The rest they say is history. We dated for 2 1/2 years before we got engaged. In March of 1997 we were married. And we lived happily ever after. The End.

Spy's Like Us

Belle's forth birthday is in January, she talks about it all the time. Lately she has been asking if she can invite two of her friends from preschool (we'll call them Leigh and CeeCee) to her birthday party. We have never met Leigh and CeeCee or their parents. Because of how Belle's preschool is organized, the opportunity to meet Belle's friends and their parents is a little problematic.

The issue with her preschool is parking. When the parents drop the kids off they have to double park or park in a fire lane, so the kids are ushered into the school by parents that have to get back to their cars quickly. Preschool pick up is a little better. They have a designated area where the parents park at the curb. The preschoolers are escorted out to where the parents are waiting.

I'm not sure how other preschools operate, but our preschool doesn't make it easy for parents to mingle. So, Jeff and I developed a plan in which Jeff would ask Belle to introduce him to her friend in the morning. Then at pick up time, Jeff would watch which car Belle's friend got into. Once Jeff knew which car to look for he could approach the parent next time they were all waiting in line for the pick up.

I'm not completely comfortable with this plan but, we want Belle to have her friends at her birthday party
, so we are willing to do what ever it takes to find these parents and get to know them.

Today, our plan worked. Here is the transcript of the instant message with my Husband.

Jeff: so I met Leigh's parents

Amy: Both her parents?

Jeff: yes

Amy: did you get to chat with them for a bit?

Jeff: yes

Amy: what’s their story?

Jeff: ( some details about Leigh’s siblings that I won't post here.)

Amy: did you meet the parents in the pickup line?

Jeff: when I dropped off Belle this morning, I met Leigh and as I left, both girls were holding hands
Yes on the pickup

Amy: Belle and Leigh?

Jeff: yes

Amy: how cute!

Jeff: it was

Amy: so that is how you found the parents?

Jeff: yes

Amy: did you talk to them about a play date or Belle's birthday?

Jeff: yes. I told them in about a week.
I picked up a check today at Denim (this is our local consignment shop where we take old baby stuff)

Amy: you’re changing the subject on me

Jeff: yes

Amy: "told them in about a week......" What?

Jeff: that I would call them to schedule a meeting

Amy: did they seem okay with that or weirded out?

Jeff: Leigh has been talking about Belle for sometime too

Amy: oh Good!!
I feel like a stalker

Jeff: why

Amy: it's just weird trying to locate a child’s parents and get together with them.
It's a lot like stalking

Jeff: how else do you do it? It's not too weird

Amy: I know,
So did you find out anything about them?
Like why both of them were picking Leigh up?

Jeff: by the way, Jill called regarding the Christmas Tea.
It's this Thursday Night

Amy: changing the subject again...
In the evening?
are you sure?

Jeff: I believe so.

Amy: I'll talk to her

Jeff: She left a VMail last night
check my email account for the VMail

Amy: ok thanks
So you got Leigh's phone number?

Jeff: or here you go
(He uploads the voice mail message about the Christmas Tea)

Amy: thanks

Jeff: need to go. Chat w/ you later

Amy: k

Jeff never did chat with me again. I was feeling like a creepy stalker. So creepy, even my husband didn't want to talk to me.

Come to find out, Jeff thought that I thought that he was a creepy stalker.

Go ahead read that sentence again, it might make more sense the second time around.

Apparently when I was asking him all the questions about how he found Leigh's parents, he thought
I was creeped out by him.

Is this making a bit of sense?

So the bottom line is: one set of parents found, one more to go. Is there a better way meet the next set of parents without resorting to uncharacteristic spy like behavior?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Family as Elves

Have you seen this?

The elfin' greeting presented by OfficeMax®.

Click here to see my family spread some Christmas Cheer (and laughs).

The link will take you to Office Max's website.
This is not a paid post. It is purely for my amusement and yours.

Wordless Wednesday

The House we flipped last year

Outside got all new siding and windows.

Ripped out the carpet and refinished the original hardwood floors.

Notice the new tile floors in the kitchen.
Jeff and I tag teamed that project. He worked on it all day until 2 am. When he came home to sleep, I went to the other house and worked on the floors from 3 am until noon. Jeff then brought the kids to the house with him and we worked on the floors together. I am very proud of that accomplishment.

To see more Wordless Wednesdays go here.

I know, I know, "Wordless". Sorry, this is as wordless as I get. Just call me gabby.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Stories

After dinner last night, my girls asked me to read to them. Thanks to the boxes of Christmas stuff taking up my entire dining room, we have books about Christmas that have been in storage for a year. It's nice to have fresh material to read. I read them a cute book with a sheep finger puppet built into it. You tell the story of how the lamb went to the manger to see Baby Jesus and perform the appropriate actions with the finger puppet, very fun.

I love reading stories about the first Christmas but, after 5 times of reading that book, I was done. I went searching through our Christmas box for Max Lucado’s “The Crippled Lamb”. This one is about a crippled lamb that keeps baby Jesus warm in the manager. (I need to get some different books or my kids are going to think that Baby Jesus was raised by lambs.)

In my search for “The Crippled Lamb” I tossed a couple of other books on the floor to keep the kids occupied. They let me read “The Crippled Lamb” once and then they brought me a book I had discarded. “The Night Before Christmas”, you know “T’was the night before Christmas and all through the house….

This book was a big hit. The girls were both worried about Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, “Why isn’t he leading the sleigh, Mommy?” They were enthralled with the stockings and Santa Clause and the presents. The girls even tried to figure out how to put their finger aside their nose, give a nod, and rise up the chimney. We read this book over and over until bath time. Ariel took the book upstairs with her and hid it in her bedroom so she could look at it after lights out.

Why is Santa Clause infinitely more interesting than Baby Jesus? Where is the cool Baby Jesus book where the Holy Infant does more than just lay in the manager? I really want my kids to know that Christmas is about love, not gifts. And when Christmas is about gifts, it’s about giving, not receiving. Should I resign myself now to the fact that just like my childhood Christmas Eve is going to be all about Santa?

Monday, November 26, 2007

What A Difference A Year Makes

Its time for me to come up with a Christmas letter to enclose with this years' Christmas Cards. I took a look at my 2006 letter to give myself some ideas. I thought I would share it with you.

We are excited to wish you a Merry Christmas. We have been very busy; let us tell you about it.

Belle will be 3 years old at the end of January. She loves creating “gates” made from a jump rope, aprons, strings of beads and anything else that ties. We find the “gates” at the bottom of the stairs, between doorknobs, chairs, and kitchen cabinets. Who knew that a she would be able to tie such elaborate knots at her age!

Ariel is now 1 ½ years. She is growing and changing so much. Recently she was “helping” Amy in the laundry room by removing clean clothes from the dryer. She grabbed a pair of her sister’s underwear and said “panties.” This was surprising. We had never introduced that word to her. Now we wonder what other words she has picked up and is waiting for just the right moment to share.

Jeff has taken on a new job. This summer, we decided to buy an investment house, to renovate and resale. We invited Jeff’s brother, Jon, up from California to work on the project. They have been working day and night 6 days a week on the house and it is nearly complete. It has been amazing to see all the ways that God provides for our needs.

Amy has been taking care of the girls and trying to keep the house in a reasonable state of disarray. On Jeff’s day off from the renovation, she goes to her job and takes care of all their office needs. When she gets home that night, she is excited to see her girls, and eager to spend another week with them.

Thank you for allowing us to share our lives with you. We hope your Christmas overflows with all the blessings that God has for you.

Now I have to get to work on my 2007 letter!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Flaunt it.....Sunday?

"Taken with a grain of salt" posted her Flaunt it Friday challenge on...... Friday. I was off taking advantage of all the wonderful sales on Friday, so I missed it. I have given myself a holiday extension so I can take part in this fun challenge.

The objective is to post two photo's of yourself. A "I've never looked so good, I am Hot Hot Hot" photo and then the photo that you thought you had burned, but somehow it is still lingering around.
It is my pleasure to show you my Hot Hot Hot photo.

This picture was taken on March 2, 2002. Jeff and I were in Maui celebrating our 5 year anniversary. We took a very similar (same beach, in front of a rented Jeep) picture 5 years earlier for our Honeymoon.
Just last week I cataloged these old photos with Adobe Photoshop Album Starter. I told Jeff to look at how the Album Starter put all our pictures in date order. (It's really cool) On our date night he said to me, "You looked great when we went to Maui. I saw a picture where you had a 6-pack." He meant ab's not beer.

I said "Are you sure? I don't remember that."

This got him all upset because he thought I didn't believe him. Really I wanted him to repeat his statement and possibly extend the conversation at a louder volume so other people in the bar could hear that yes, I use to have a 6 pack. Now I have 2 children and a appendectomy scar that makes my belly button look strange.

Unfortunately I have to move on to the "other" picture.

This photo was taken my Freshman year of college. The fact that I am posing in front of a McDonald's sign should be a pretty good indication of my physical fitness at this time. Three years later I weighed 185 pounds and wore a size 16. I wish I could find a picture from that year. I am pretty sure that I destroyed all of them. When I look at this picture I am not surprised that I was called "Thunder Thighs" in High School.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

How Memories Are Made

This year we decide to cut down our own Christmas Tree. A couple of years ago we went to a Christmas Tree Farm where an employee cut down the tree that we selected. Today marks the first time we paid $5 to the USDA Forest Service for the privilege of finding and cutting down our own tree.

We started off the day by gathering everything we would need to take two girls and two dogs into the forest for a tree hunt. We packed a saw, food, hats, gloves and scarves to name a few. By 10:00 we were ready to leave on our hour and a half drive towards Mount Hood. Since it was a long drive I decided to put the kids in the car without their jacks and boots so they'd be more comfortable.

When we reach the end of our street Jeff realized he forgot a water dish for the dogs. We quickly turned around to get the water dish. Fifteen minutes later we were on the freeway. Jeff turned to me and said, "You made the sandwiches, right?"

"Ha, Ha, very funny," I replied. "I watched you make them, remember?"

Why do guys think it is so funny to scare us like this.

An hour later we had another conversation.
Jeff: You got Ariel's boots right?
Me: No, I thought you got them.
Jeff: I didn't get them, I thought you did!
Me: Your kidding, right?
He wasn't kidding.

We were able to find a snowboard rental shop that had boots. Unfortunately the smallest size they had was a 13. Ariel wears a size 8. Since Belle wears a size 10, we rented Burton boots for Belle and Ariel wore Belles boots. Both kids left the shop wearing boots several sizes too big for them, but at least they had something on their feet.

Our next stop was the Forest Station to get our permit to cut down a Christmas tree. They also gave us a map showing the approved areas to find a tree. The map lead us to a lovely location.

The girls and dogs had a great time playing in the snow while Jeff scouted out the tree situation. The great thing about the forest, is there are plenty of trees. But, we soon found out that Christmas trees don't grow in the forest. Forest trees are built for survival, not hanging cute ornaments on. Forest trees are crooked, not easily accessible and they tend to be covered with moss.

After a lot of hunting, changing our expectations, driving to a new location and hunting again, we found it. A perfectly strait tree growing out of an old stump right by a river. The timing couldn't have been better. The kids and I were tired and cold. Ariel wanted to go home and was refusing to walk.

Jeff asked me to take a picture of our tree in its natural habitat. He was perched on the stump next to the tree when he lost his balance. He fell off the stump and rolled towards the river. Luckily some other trees broke his momentum. The girls and I were a little freaked out. Jeff took a couple of minutes to catch his breath and build up the courage to climb on the stump again. I tried to help Jeff when Ariel yelled at me, "Mommy, DO NOT push my Dad into the river!" I took a minute to explain to Ariel that I love her dad and would never push him into the river.

Jeff got the tree cut down without further incident. We began our long trek back to the car. Jeff carried (actually dragged) the tree, while I carried Ariel and made sure we didn't leave Belle in the forest. Why a child walks so slow when you are carrying their 32 pound sister through the snowy forest, I will never know.

We got the tree home. We even had enough gumption to set it up and decorate it. So here is our Christmas tree. Lovingly selected from the forest and allowed to reside in our house until Christmas is over.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Memories

It is my favorite time of Thanksgiving day. The turkey has been consumed. The dishes are washed and put away. The children and are running around having a good time. The men are watching football.

Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. Watching my kids play reminds me why I loved it so. Growing up, Thanksgiving was always at my house. All my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents would arrive with arms full of food. My Dad would prepare our cow pasture for a football game. I have so many fond memories of being with my family. I realize now how fortunate I was to have those Thanksgivings.

My parents have since divorced, I have moved out of state, as have my brothers. Thanksgivings have become a smaller affair. I still strive to make Thanksgiving a day of connecting with the people we love. This year we have 9 1/2 people over at our house. 9 1/2 you ask? Yes, our tenth guest's flight got delayed. His wife is picking him up now. He missed dinner, and will arrive just in time for pies.

I am thankful for the opportunity to fill my house with a mixture of family and friends. To eat, drink and enjoy their company.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hold Them Close

Ahhhhh. A long weekend with four full days at home.

I am looking forward to cuddling with my girls. Ariel always gets the slightest smile on her face as she snuggles her head on my chest. I like to listen to her pacifier squeaking as she relaxes in my arms. Belle still lets me hold her “like a baby” and sing the songs that are so familiar to her. She doesn’t even mind that I sing out of tune and have made up the words. To her it is the same off-key melody that she has heard since birth.

I remember the late nights when my baby girls needed comforting. I would rock them well beyond their need to be rocked just because I loved holding them. We don’t get to do that anymore. The rocking chair is covered with clothes and isn’t used in the middle of the night anymore.

They are growing up and I am not ready for it. I look forward to these four days of snuggling, holding, kissing and playing with my children. Four days to be silly, dance, play and watch movies.

On Monday I will return to work with happy memories of a long weekend well spent with my girls.

Wordless Wednesday

You might have too many Little People if.......

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thankfulness Part 2

Our Home

In my last post I told you that things got a lot worse before they got better. I don't want to write about how they got worse, after all it is Thanksgiving week. Instead I want to express my gratitude for retaining the one thing I was sure I would lose, my home. This year we had two houses up for sale. The house we flipped and our home. We never wanted to sell our home. The couple of months that it was on the market went something like this:

We put a for sale sign in front of our house and said, "Okay God, our house is for sale, but we aren't going to advertise it. If you really want us to sell it you will bring someone down our street."

A couple of weeks later we hired an agent and listed the house. "Fine God, we'll advertise, but we are not going to sell it for a penny under our inflated asking price."

A month later we lowered our asking price. "Please God, just get us out of the mess. I don't care what it takes. No material possession is worth this amount of stress and heartache." A couple of weeks later someone finally made an offer on the house we flipped. In July we sold the renovated house and took our house off the market.

I am so grateful that we were able to keep our house. Our neighbors mean so much to us. To leave this neighborhood would have been heartbreaking. Our kids have friends on this street. The stay at home moms on the street embrace and support my husband in his role as a stay at home dad. I am thankful everyday that I get to drive down this street and call it my home.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thankfulness Part 1

A look at last year - My Marriage

January 2007 – It is Monday, Jeff is taking the day off from flipping the house so I can go to work. I am taking a shower and trying to focus on what I need to do today. My mind keeps drifting to the argument I had with Jeff last night. The financial and emotional strain of flipping a house is pushing us apart. I told him that we are going to run out of money unless we sell the house by March. He told me that there is still so much work to be done. Why can't he get this house done?

My life is out of my control. Flipping this house is Jeff's project. He makes all the decisions while I stand by and pray for results. I don't like not being in control, especially when things are going badly. I am so mad. Mad that Jeff is working six days a week on the house and not getting anywhere. Mad that he is spending all our money. Mad at him for not being able to find a job for 3 years. Mad at him for getting fired from a very good job in the first place. Every decision that Jeff has ever made is now under my scrutiny.

And then a little voice in my head says, “Why are you blaming Jeff for everything that has gone wrong, while you praise God for everything that has gone right?” It’s a good question. I gave God all the credit for the job Jeff had in Sacramento. I attributed all our sound financial decisions to God. I thanked God for providing for our needs, regardless of where the provisions came from. Why does God get all the credit and Jeff get all the blame? Why do I assume that Jeff has a handle on the events that are out of my control? Isn't his life being turned upside down just like mine?

My bible study leader recently said, “It’s okay to be mad at God, he can take it.” So I shifted my anger. I got mad at God for this mess we were in. I ranted at God for all the things that had gone wrong. I got pissed at God that Jeff lost his job. I was furious for the lost of our financial security and for the delays on the house we were flipping. I screamed at God for putting all this pressure on my marriage. I vowed to never forgive Him if my marriage fell apart.

Two noteworthy things happened when I got mad at God. First, I didn’t get struck by lightning. Second, I wasn’t mad at my husband anymore. Instead I became sympathetic to Jeff and the challenges he was facing.

My reflection:

In 2007, Jeff and I celebrated ten happy years of marriage. My realization in the shower that morning was a significant event for me. In the months that followed our situation got much worse before it got better. We were able to face these events as a team, supportive of one another. I am thankful for that.

What have you learned that has significantly affected the way your relate to your loved ones?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pee, Pee Go Away

I was sitting at my computer when I hear the sound of water. Someone turned the faucet on? I wish. Spilled milk? That would be nice. Ariel was having yet another accident while standing on a bar stool in the kitchen.

Poor girl. She is 28 months old and I think we might be pushing her to potty train before she is ready. Most of the time she does great. Some days, like today, she has several accidents. I don't mind the accidents, it's the blank expression on her face that makes me think she is not ready. She seems shocked that she is getting all wet, and doesn't know where the water is coming from.

I am the first to arrive at the accident scene. I remove Ariel's wet pajamas and panties, Jeff takes her to the bathroom for cleaning. I am gathering towels to clean up the rather large puddle in the kitchen. Next thing I know Belle gets bitten by the "its 10 minutes to bedtime and I must act like a crazy person" bug. She is running around in circles, saying "Yay! Another accident. Puddles to splash in. Yay!"

Where does she get this stuff?

Granted, we splashed in RAIN puddles today, but does she honestly think that her sister peed on the floor so we could enjoy some indoor puddle stomping just before bed time?

Then she starts singing a song:

Splash in puddles.
pee pee
pee pee

Stomp in some,
pee pee
pee pee

The song is quite good, the tune familiar. But seriously, where does she get this? She's can't be doing it for attention. I am too busy cleaning to respond and Jeff has taken Ariel upstairs for new pajamas. She is just a 3 year old being silly for her own amusement.

This One Is For My Fridge

I love to read blogs. I am entertained by other peoples ramblings, stories and pictures. At first I relied heavily on my Blogroll to keep track of the blogs I was reading. I soon found it much easier to keep up with my favorite blogs through my Google Reader by subscribing to their RSS feeds. I now have 15 blogs that I am stalking. I think it's time to come out of the closet and publicly announce my devotion to these blogs.

I've have come up with a list of my 10 favorite blogs. I like to refer to these as:

Blogs that belong on my fridge

  1. From the Land of Monkeys and Princesses
    Favorite post: The Secret Engine parts 1 & 2

  2. Latte Mommy
    Favorite post: Sticky Buns

  3. Playgroups Are No Place For Childern
    Favorite post: Let's Play a Game! Incredibly Helpful or Nagging and Maniacal?

  4. I Love You Too Much
    Favorite post: Camera Phone Photography

  5. Taken with a Grain of Salt
    Favorite post: My Untitled Convent Diaries

  6. 20 Minutes of My Life
    Favorite post: Mortification

  7. Toddler Daddy
    Favorite post: Can't work out the Toddler Rules?

  8. The Lizness
    Favorite post: Half-Time

  9. Sarah and the Goon Squad
    Favorite post: I Have Become My Mother

  10. The Superdad Chronicles
    Favorite post: Stupidest Thing Ever

These Blogs will remain prominently displayed on my fridge for the next month. I look forward to reading their posts. I will also be looking for other blogs to stalk. If you are looking for a stalker, leave a comment and I will check your site out. Sometime next month I will come up with a new list of 10.
Will you be on it?

P.S. For those being honored. I wanted to come up with a award, but can't quite figure it out yet. If you are interested in having something to put on your site, let me know and I will work harder at it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Catch and Release

Driving to work this morning, I saw most unwelcome site in my rear view mirror, flashing red and blue lights. It’s been awhile since I have seen this phenomenon, so in case I didn’t remember what to do the officer kindly told me to pull over. You know what happens next. Same old song of “License and registration please” and “do you know why I pulled you over?” Usually I know why I’ve been pulled over. But this time, I was clueless.

Me: “I have no idea.”

Officer: “You were traveling southbound on Main at 40 mph. The speed limit is 25”

Me: “Oh…”

Officer: “Are you in a hurry today?”

Me: “No….”

So I told him my very elaborate story about a white van. Not one of those soccer mom white vans. More like a child abductor white van, you know the one without windows in the back. And how this white van had freaked me out and I wasn’t paying attention to the speed limit. The story ended with “If I would of known I was speeding I would have slowed down and let the van get ahead of me.”

The officer was very kind. He noticed the white van was speeding too and if he would have known all the trouble this white van caused me, he would have pulled over the van instead of me.

So, I got off with a warning and “never let me catch you speeding again”. Now I really hope this officer is not a blog reader, because what I have to say next might make him regret letting me off with a warning. I haven’t gotten a ticket in 8 years. I have been pulled over three times in the last eight years and no tickets. I don’t understand why I don’t get tickets. It may have something to do with my fear of authority, and that I end up getting all shaky and talk too much. Maybe the officer wants to let me go on my way before I burst into tears.

Now, I know that getting let off the hook for speeding three times in eight years is not all that impressive. But wait until you hear the story behind the last time I was pulled over.

It’s the summer of 2002, on my favorite day of the week, date night. Usually my husband and I meet at home and drive to dinner together, but this week he had something after work, so we met at the restaurant. After our dinner and a movie we got into our separate cars to drive home. My husband still had his 2001 BMW 525. I was driving my brand new BMW X5 that we had recently added a Dinan package too. (For those who aren’t car buffs, Dinan is BMW's way to get an already fast car to go very, very fast.) It was natural that my husband and I would want to race our cars home, just to see if the Dinan had indeed made my car faster.

The race home was very close. The 525 was faster off the line, while my car did better on the long stretches. We were racing down a four lane avenue neck in neck. There were no other cars around and only green lights ahead. The speed limit is 40 mph. Needless to say we are not following the speed limit.

As we approached the last major intersection before our house, I put the pedal to the metal and passed Jeff. As I am flying through the intersection at 80 mph, I notice Jeff falling behind significantly. I was just reveling in my victory when I saw the police officer behind me. Apparently, the officer was sitting at the red light. My husband had noticed him and slowed down. I was too busy thinking I had won the race to notice.

So now I’m pulled over waiting for the officer to right me a huge ticket, and my husband is driving idly by laughing his ass off. You know the end to this story. I didn’t get a ticket. Why? I have no idea. It might have been because I was in a nice car with tinted windows, and the officer thought he had pulled over someone important. It might have been the inadvertent sexy clothing that I had donned for the evening. I choose to believe that it was my apologetic demeanor and the fact that he had no opportunity to clock me because I came out of nowhere and was gone just as fast. Hell, he was probably surprised he even caught me in the first place.

Flaunt it Friday: Office

My home office:

My husband and I didn't want to waste our Formal Living Room space with fancy furniture that we would never sit on. Instead we created a sitting room/den setting. We fold down the laptop when we are being formal.

I love this desk. We bought it right before we left Sacramento. The store we got it at is called Encore Model Home Furnishing. If you live in or around Sacramento you HAVE to check this store out. Beautiful items that used to be in model homes. Great prices.

Here is the view from my seat:

Notice the empty plate. I just finished a slice of delicious Chocolate Merainge Pie. My husband is practicing his baking for Thanksgiving. I love him and hate him for it!

Happy Flaunt it Friday, I can't wait to see yours!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Spelling test

After dropping Belle off at Preschool, my husband took Ariel to story time at the Library. When the kids arrive at story time the librarian makes them a name tag. Here is what transpired:

Librarian to Ariel: What's your name?

Ariel tells him her name, which as you know isn't really Ariel. Her real name is pretty uncommon in the US, and most people don't know how to spell it.

Librarian to Ariel: How do you spell your name

Ariel: S - U - P - I - D

Nope, Stupid is not the very uncommon name we gave our child.
Not Even Close.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What’s in a Name?

I have to make a change. I am not writing about Firstborn, LittleOne and Husband anymore. My stories lose their flow when I write about them. I am tossing out their names and starting from scratch.

How do I pick a better name?

I thought about asking them what names they prefer. I might get some off the wall names from my oldest. She has a doll named Rainee (pronounced Rain – Knee) and a puppet named Princess Frumba. The only common name she has picked for any of her toys is her stuffed dog named Parker. Parker is the name of our neighbor’s dog. Asking the kids is definitely out.

I thought about asking my Husband. He wanted to name one of our children Nikki Fontaine. Go ahead say it out loud “Nikki Fontaine”. Perfect name…..for a stripper! Asking the husband is definitely out.

I have to come up with new names on my own. I have two girls, and you know they are princesses. But I can’t call them both princess. I could name them after their favorite princess. We have several of the plush Disney Princess dolls that the girls LOVE. I could just name them after what princess each child prefers. What if they swap their princess? Then I won’t even know who I am writing about. What if I name them after the princess they most resemble. that might work.

Let’s start with LittleOne. She’s easy. I will call her Ariel. You know sweet Ariel. The little mermaid that is always disobeying her father, breaking the rules and finally going behind her fathers back to make a deal with Ursula so she can get what she wants. Yep, that’s my LittleOne. Now, before you judge her too harshly, I have to tell you that she has done none of these things, yet. But she is stubborn and determined just like me (read “Little Miss Personality”), and I did all those things.

What princess is Firstborn most like? We can rule out Cinderella, there is no locking my child in her room. Sleeping Beauty doesn’t work. Firstborn stopped taking naps when she was 2 years old. She has never liked sleeping. The princess Firstborn most resembles is Belle. Belle is smart, loves her Papa more than anything and wants to be friends with everyone, even the hideous beast. That is my firstborn.

I need a name for Husband. I could name him after the Disney father that he is most like. Impossible. All the Disney daddies are widowers. I will call Husband by the name I love most. Jeff. After all, the purpose of changing the names of my family members is to protect the innocent. Jeff is no innocent. And neither am I.

From this post forward our blog names shall be: Jeff, Amy, Belle and Ariel.

Wordless Wednesday

Belle applies stickers to Ariel

"Look Mom, Ariel's a kitty!"

For more Wordless Wednesdays, go here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

100 things you should know about me:

  1. I Grew up going to church
  2. in California
  3. I was overweight growing up
  4. In my early 20's I lost 50 pounds in 9 months
  5. And kept it off
  6. I have been evicted from my apartment
  7. I had nowhere to go, so I slept at my office
  8. and showered at the gym
  9. My husband and I married March 1, 1997
  10. My parents got divorced
  11. We got a puppy, Hercules
  12. My drivers license got taken away for too many tickets
  13. I got my car impounded for driving without a license
  14. We never got the car out of impound
  15. we moved in with my in-laws
  16. for 3 months
  17. My husband got a job, we saved our money and moved out
  18. I stayed at home so my husband could prove himself as a provider
  19. He made some money and we bought a 2nd car
  20. I got another puppy, AJ
  21. I would temp whenever I got bored
  22. My husband was really good at his job
  23. He was in sales
  24. He sold a lot
  25. We bought a house in Fair Oaks, CA
  26. 1150 square feet with a pool
  27. It was cozy
  28. He leased a 2001 BMW 525
  29. Crashed it 3 months later
  30. then got another one
  31. My husband ordered a 2002 BMW X5 for me
  32. It arrived from Germany the day we got back from Maui
  33. Possibly the best week of my life
  34. I once spent $1000 in one day on clothes
  35. All for me
  36. I was retaliating against my husband
  37. He spent $1000 on clothes earlier that week
  38. We’re talking cash, no credit cards
  39. You get the point
  40. I got a job working for a home builder
  41. I made a lot of great friends
  42. Husband lost his job
  43. I wanted a baby
  44. As soon as he got a new job, we got pregnant
  45. I love being pregnant
  46. Except for the weight gain
  47. I gained 70 pounds
  48. I made my husband get rid of his BMW
  49. I told him to get something more affordable
  50. He bought an Audi
  51. Our Firstborn arrived Jan, 26 2004
  52. Husband lost his job 2 months later
  53. I went back to work
  54. We decided to move to Washington
  55. Sold our house for twice what we paid for it
  56. Bought a house in Vancouver
  57. Husband looked for work
  58. And looked
  59. And looked
  60. I lost all my baby weight within 9 months
  61. and found out I was pregnant again
  62. I got a temp job
  63. They eventually hired me part time
  64. Our second daughter was born July 4th 2005
  65. No job for husband
  66. He enrolled in classes to finish his college degree
  67. We were on WIC
  68. Kids and I were on state medical insurance
  69. and food stamps, too
  70. Cashed out my IRA
  71. Husband got a job!
  72. We refinanced our house
  73. Husband got fired
  74. Husband looked for work
  75. And looked
  76. Someone said “you should flip a house”
  77. Seemed like a good idea
  78. Cashed out my husband’s IRA
  79. The flip took longer than expected
  80. And cost more
  81. The housing market started to tank
  82. It was a huge strain on our marriage
  83. I asked my boss if he would hire me full time
  84. I asked for a raise too
  85. He gave me more money than I asked for
  86. and a bonus
  87. The bonus saved us from having to sell a car
  88. We had a really hard time selling the flipped house
  89. It sold 1 week before we were going to run out of cash
  90. We lost money
  91. I don't even want to count how much
  92. We now have $57,000 in credit card debt
  93. My husband crashed his remaining BMW
  94. He mourns that car
  95. Our Marriage is stronger than ever
  96. My husband is a great stay-at-home-dad
  97. I love my life, and wouldn't change a thing
  98. I still go to church.
  99. I praise God for all these experiences
  100. And the ability to write about them



Awarded by Amy Shipp at Our Fun Funky Life!

Awarded by: Irene at Our little piece of the World.

Awarded by: The Sports Mama at You Don't Have to Like Me and TheVasquez3

Awarded by: Maria at Mommy of Four, OhMommy at Classy Chaos and The Sports Mama at You Don't Have to Like Me.

Awarded by: The Sports Mama at You Don't Have to Like Me.

Awarded by:Irene at The Green Greek.

Awarded by: Rachel at "From the Land of Monkeys and Princesses".

The Players

Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Amy - Working mom working on being a good mom and wife.
Loves: husband, kids and blogging.

Jeff (a.k.a. Husband, Superdad) - Stay-at-home dad, Househusband and Friend.
Loves: basketball, his theater room and German cars.

Belle (a.k.a Firstborn) - Daughter born January 26, 2004.
Loves: wearing her crown, playing dress up and kindergarten.

Ariel (a.k.a LittleOne) - Daughter born July 4, 2005.
Loves: princess dolls, singing and playing with her sister.

Prince Charming (a.k.a The Baby) - Son born June 16, 2009.
Loves: being loved.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Stupid Elmo

I have the today off, a chance to play stay-at-home mom. It's been 6 months and I miss it. Husband is taking the car in for service, I'm taking the kids to story time at the Library. I get to have the kids to myself, and prove I can still manage the craziness.

I think I have loss all of my stay-at-home mom superpowers. Husband has all the recent experience of getting the kids out the door on time. I thought I would be able do it, but instead I'm like a deer caught in the headlights. Husband took pity on me. He had some time before he needed to leave, so he helped with breakfast and choosing outfits.

When Husband left, all I had left to do was pack lunches. I turned on Sesame Street for the girls. That is when Elmo conspired against me. The subject of Elmo's World was art. Elmo thought it would be a wonderful idea to show kids drawing and painting. LittleOne wants to draw too. I want to pack lunches and get out the door.

LittleOne is chanting "I wanna draw too, I wanna draw too, I wanna draw too!" I break away from my task to grab markers and a piece of paper for LittleOne. Problem solved. Right? Wrong.

LittleOne is still chanting. Now it sounds something like this. "I can't, I can't, I caaaan't draw a cow MOM!"

Stupid Elmo.

TV has a purpose in our house. The purpose is NOT to cause more work for me. The purpose is happy children. LittleOne is not happy.

I'm spreading mayo on bread saying, "Its really easy honey, just draw an oval for a body"......why isn't Elmo explaining how to draw a cow. It's Elmo's fault that she wants to draw a cow in the first place, stupid Elmo....."Then draw a circle for a head."
LittleOne has not stopped crying "I caaaaaan't". I have no choice now, I have to stop what I am doing and help LittleOne. The result is this picture.Not a bad picture of a cow for a 2 year, right? Wrong. LittleOne did not draw that picture. I did. LittleOne's contribution is the black scribbling as she was screaming "THAT IS NOT A COW, MOM!!!"

Stupid Elmo!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Finger, My Finger

Firstborn and LittleOne are happily coloring. All the sudden Firstborn is crying. I rush over to see what the drama is all about.
What happened?
(crying): I got a paper cut. It hurts so badly.
Let me see.
I look, its pretty bad, blood and everything.
Me: I'm sorry that happened. I'll get you a band-aid.
Halfway to the first aid supplies I hear LittleOne crying.
My finger, my finger it weally hurts!
I go over to LittleOne. I look at her finger and I don't see anything.
Me: Where does it hurt, honey?
LittleOne: My hand. I need a band-aid.

Her hand? A second ago it was her finger. I examine both her hands and all her fingers. Yep, just what I thought, She just wants a band-aid just like her sister. It's been a rough morning. I lovingly apply first aid to both my daughters fingers, complete with sympathy and kisses.

2 minutes later

Firstborn is now back to drawing, content with the soothing effects of the band-aid.
LittleOne is still crying. Wailing really.

Now this is out of control. I go upstairs to get a temporary reprieve from the crying and to tell my Husband the story. Husband reminds me of the time LittleOne tipped her tricycle over and laid down on the ground shortly after her sister had fallen off her bike. If our neighbor hadn't seen LittleOne set the whole accident scene up, it would have been believable.

I go back downstairs. LittleOne is still crying. I pick her up, and do the only thing left to do.
Turn on Dora the Explorer.

Cruising the Blogosphere

Figuring out all the intricacies of blogging is a challenge. I started blogging last week. My goal was to write. But I spend just as much time trying to fine tune my blog, get some traffic, and cruise the blogosphere for other blogs that are interesting to read.

At first I used the "Next Blog" tool on the Blogger Navbar to find new blogs. I found a lot of blogs that were of no interest to me, and eventually it would take me to an adult content blog. I was very disappointed in Bloggers ability to prevent this from happening even thought their policies should prevent it (see this blog for more some information). I searched for tips on how to prevent seeing these adult content sites. My search eventually lead me to a post on "I Love You Too Much" talking about Blogrush.

Blogrush requires that the blogs they syndicate meet their strict quality guidelines. I can confidently display their tool without worry that I will accidentally link to unsavory blogs from my site. Now I use Blogrush to finding other blogs that interest me. If you are interested in finding out more follow this link. It's free and they have a referral program. I'm not sure what the referral program gets me.... I just like the tool.

So now I am collecting a list of Blogs that I like to visit. I am adding them to my "Blogs I Enjoy Reading" list so I can remember to check their sites often. I am not sure what proper blog etiquette is for adding links to my site. Do I let them know that their links are on my site? What is the best way to go about this?

Blogging is so much more complicated then just writing!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ode to the Stay-At-Home Dad

Being the stay at home parent is a job that does not end. Ever. Especially at night when everyone should be sleeping.

A couple nights ago our Firstborn came into our room at 3am asking her Dad for a pony tail. SuperDad calmly told her to go back to sleep and he would take care of it in the morning. This was after helping LittleOne go potty at some ungodly hour between midnight and 2 am.

Why is it that we could get our infants to sleep through the night at 12 weeks, but we can't get them to stay in their beds at 2 and 3 years old? I digress.

My husband is amazing. He does what some people say a man is incapable of. He provides superb care for our children, cleans (better than I ever did), grocery shops, has dinner on the table every night and has yet to run screaming from the house the minute I come home.

When I was the stay-at-home parent I had a monthly girls night out, a weekly yoga class, bible study with childcare and a babysitting swap with another mom so I could get an additional 4 hours free of children every other week. Superdad has none of those outlets. He has no other Superdad's to hang out with. He is with the kids all day, every day. Alone.

What an amazing and wonderful man I have been blessed with.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Mom working, Dad at home

The mom working, dad at home arrangement has been in effect for 6 months now. My Husband and I think about all we went through to get to this place. He says, "I wish we would of done this sooner," thinking that we could have avoided all the pain and hardship of the last couple of years.

Unfortunately, pain and hardship are sometimes a tool God uses to shape our hearts and minds for the future. God needed to turn a successful (dare I say) Prima donna sales person into a stay-at-home dad and his wife, who ALWAYS wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, into a working mom. It took 4 years, cost $140,000 and was very painful, but I'm pretty sure it was worth it.

How did we get here?

Flashback to 2003. My husband and I are living in Sacramento. I'm pregnant with our First and hate my job. I am SO ready to be a stay-at-home mom. The company that my Husband had made so much money working for was now bankrupt. We need to cut expenses in order to live on Husbands new income. Our biggest expense (other than the mortgage) is $1000 a month to BMW for 2 leased cars. When my husband's lease comes up, I insists that he get rid of his car for something more affordable (which is apparently an Audi).

In January of 2004 our First is born. My husband and I talk about moving to Washington state. Housing is less expensive, and my brother lives there. My husband is not sure if this is the right move for our family. One morning at his Men's Bible Study he asks the guys to pray about the decision to move. Something like "God, if you want me to move to Washington, give me a sign." Husband goes to work and is laid off, that morning. I'm not kidding. So this is our sign. God wants us to move to Washington.

We sell our house and a piece of property we owned in a gated community. We find a wonderful house in Vancouver. In June of 2004 we move. We have a nice nest egg to live on because we sold our house for twice what we paid for it and made a handsome profit on the property.
Husband starts looking for work. His last two jobs were in telecom, which he has come to hate. He is being selective about what he applies for. He has several promising interviews, but no job offers. This is unusual for him, he is used to getting the jobs he wants.

By March, I decide to see if Kelly Services can place me in a temp job until something comes along for my Husband. They place me with a company that needs someone 10 hours a week for bookkeeping. Oh, almost forgot, I'm now pregnant with our second. One of those not really planned, not really prevented pregnancies.

In July 2005, baby #2 is born.
I'm still at my temp job. Husband is still looking for work. We think he might have an easier time getting a job if he had his college degree, also it seems that having a year of no employment on your resume is undesirable. By enrolling in classes he can fill the gap on his resume.

You may be thinking "This isn't going according to plan. God gave you a sign. Why would he send you to Washington if there is no work."

I know! I thought the same thing, many times. But when I ignore the lack of work and diminishing money I realize that Washington is a great place for us. I am a happier person. I am more pleasant to be around. All the nasty, me-first, competitive tendencies that I had in California are gone. And besides, we only spent $40,000 of our savings in the first year.
It was worth the investment.

To Be Continued.......