guess who

As I was cleaning up the disaster zones created in the wake of the Garage Sale of 2009, I came across photos ......... many photos ........ who were floating around just waiting to be stepped on or thrown away.


I found them a 'transition' home with all of my half-finished albums and lovingly stuck them all in a deep, dark cabinet. You see, I LOVE taking photographs, but do not love the printing/processing, organizing, placing just so in albums. You don't even want to know about how many photos I have stored on my hard drive, patiently waiting to be held and viewed.

I am both aware of and have many talented friends who scrapbook, but I have never desired to go that route. Too many paper choices, stickers, tags, ribbons, IDEAS, themes ....... on and on. I prefer the clean look of photo insert albums, but despise the crinkly plastic coverings on the pages.

My dream is to digitally design and print a coffee table photo album for each year, keeping it sans words and allowing the photos to tell the story. If I had started doing this years ago, I would only have to organize and upload a year's worth of pics at a time. Instead, I am looking at having to spend hundreds of hours (HeHe) trying to catch up to 2009 and spending hundreds (literally) of dollars to purchase the albums. Ugh.

Oh, quite the tangent there ....... sorry.

Back to the 'found' photos. I removed these picturess from a frame I wanted to sell. I took these photos 4.5 years ago right before moving into our present home. I was also into taking REALLY close up photos, trying to capture details and make it look all artsy. While looking at the pictures, I almost forgot which child was who. That means I am a) a really bad mother, or b) extremely forgetful, or c) a bad photographer.

My almond-shaped eyed beauty, Madison

No Rhinoplasty necessary for her. May I present - the perfect nose.

I sucked on those cheeks until Ellie would push me away in disgust.

When she is tired, her chubby fingers would tap on her lips and we would know it was bedtime.

Ben has a lower lip ....... really ..... it's hiding in between those scrumptious cheeks.

My light-eyed sweet baby boy.


night with my men

Yes, you read that right. Men. As in M-E-N. Plural. Cause I roll like that.

I am missing my girlies but am thoroughly enjoying the testosterone tipped scale in my house. I feel like a voyeur handed the opportunity to witness the male species do what they do best.

Build Fire

Perform Rain Dance Around Fire

Hold Pow-Wow about Star Wars Action Figures

Go Fishing for Food

I hope the men return home soon. The youngest needs a bath, some snuggle time and maybe a pedicure.


well ........ hello there!

I have been missing in action for the past week. My brain was only able to focus on one thing at a time, and even then I question whether the synopses were really firing. Bullet points seem to be the best way to catch up and move on:

  • PMS has been battled and conquered. For this cycle, anyway. I can't wait for menopause.
  • The "Garage sale of 2009" did not make the cut for another season. The pilot episode was fun, but turned out to be WAY too much work for too little financial return. I will miss my co-stars, the fun-loving Bakke's, but we all must move on to other projects. The negotiations favored the buyers and the children surpassed the legal amount of time to work. If you missed it, I hear the re-run will air on the Gambling Channel following the 2am greyhound race.
  • My girls are traveling this week for their final summer adventure. I simply cannot believe they return to school in 3.5 weeks. I am not ready!!!!!! We haven't had enough fun yet.
  • We had a Sunday morning mad dash to the urgent care when Ben decided he wanted to 'fly' off the swing on the count of three. Three came and went, leaving his shorts (& the boy) attached to the swing. The shorts gave up and dumped Ben to the ground, landing him on his face and wrists. Dave couldn't see which body part hit first, so after the tears and dirt were wiped away we decided to play it safe and take him to get an X-ray. All turned out just fine, however, Ben is a little disappointed he didn't get a cast.
Who wouldn't want a repeat of this? Christmas of 2006

I am hoping for a nice, calm week with just me and my boys. Lots of picking up the house, organizing and crafting. For today? Not much. Not much at all ...... I hope.


one of those days

I am having 'one of those days' that seemed to be morphing into one of those dayssssssss. I know it is a combination of:
  • no more party planning
  • PMS
  • the summer is more than 1/2 way over
  • PMS
  • the mess of my house with the kids home all day
  • PMS
  • not reaching out to my girlfriends to complain
Even though I can name the reasons, it is not enough to pull me out of the 'funk.' To top it off, I am challenging myself this week by agreeing to have a garage sale.

Garage sales give me the shakes and shivers. All those people looking at my stuff, picking up my stuff, judging my stuff and then asking for a lower price for my stuff. Or, worse yet, putting my stuff back and deciding it is not worthy to be their stuff. Let's not even start talking about all of those people being in my 'personal space.' ::shake::shiver::

I have to remind myself of the valuable lesson I learned by hosting Ellie's birthday party in my 'personal space.' It wasn't that bad. In fact, I kind of had a little fun. I kind of forgot all those people were in my 'personal space' and I didn't really care about it anymore.

Besides, I have a friend who is as virgin to the garage sale hosting as I am, joining me with all of her family's stuff. Someone to share my neurosis with! Well, at least someone to watch my neurosis ....... which can be quite hilarious according to my loved ones.

What makes YOU neurotic? Please share so I can feel 'one with the people' today.


party like it's summer

Ellie's birthday party has been in the planning stages for 2 months now. I am not known for throwing parties, although I love to plan the perfect soiree. I think nothing of spending 3 hours on the computer looking for ideas of how I can recreate something or put my own spin on an idea. I will shop persistently until I find something that looks/acts/sounds/smells like it does in the picture in my head. Having people over in my family's space, however ........... is utterly terrifying. I panic. I have mini-anxiety attacks when I think of being responsible for what will happen during the time my guests are in my space. I am miserable to be around because I am crabby, snippy, jumpy and nervous. I persist, however, because the rewards are soooooo worth the risk.

My children are given the option to receive presents from Dave and I, or to have a party when it's their birthday. I'd say the answer is usually 50/50. I love the ease of just buying presents and having a birthday meal with a homemade cake, but I equally adore seeing the kids laughing, playing and interacting with their friends at a party. Ellie's party last night was no exception. I can say with all confidence I would do it again in a heartbeat just to see Ellie smile and to hear her unique giggle.

Presenting the Photos:

Um, yeah. The Bean Bag Toss

Madison was in charge of the face painting. The sign shows what designs she could execute with the cheap paint set I bought.

I took this photo before the party began, knowing I would be too busy once the kids started rolling in. Imagine a big container of AIRHEADS candy with sheets of paper to guess how many were in the jar. I also placed little bags for the kids to carry around during the carnival to hold their tickets and prizes. The whiteboard and markers were for the scooter races.

Um, yeah. The Water Balloon Toss

Scooter Races!!!!!
Time trials, actually. The kids really wanted to have scooter races and I really did not want them to have scooter races because all I could imagine were collisions, scrapes, blood and tears. I am all about safety and compromise. We did have a brief flirt with disaster when one little girl went to turn around and slowly rolled into the street ........ into the direct path of an oncoming car. All was well and we picked Dave up off of the sidewalk he fainted on.

The photo booth was perfect for ensuring I snapped a photo of all the guests with Ellie.

The Rubber Band Shoot.
Just load up the shooter with a fat rubber band, take aim, and FIRE at the empty Diet Coke cans. Of course, you do have to turn around before you do it. Kind of like sneaking up on your prey.

Unarguably the 'hot spot' of the night ...... the Prize Table. Wait, what's my son doing picking out some loot? "Get away from there! Those crappy trinkets are for the guests!"

:: We must interrupt the party for a brief moment. ::
These boys must go torment some girls and make them squeal.

The Pinata!!!!!
Unfortunately, we didn't place the kids in line according to ability and the 3rd person up to bat hit a home run. Just to allow Ben a chance, we let him go up next to finish it off. I wish I had an audio file of the sounds of the screams and thunderous feet as the candy went flying through the air. Oh, and we succeed at our goal of no 'hits to the groin.'

And, finally the Water Balloon Toss. Several photos are necessary to show just how much fun they had.

The gang

Expressions of Ellie and she opened her gifts.


thinking outside the circle.

Only Madison, my sweet first born, could think of this:

Supplies needed:
  • sit-n-spin
  • black electrical tape
  • backside of site plans from Daddy's work
  • markers
  • a very creative mind
She is going places, I tell you. Just not too far away from her proud mommy.


laundry: the drying edition

How can I write a post about making your own laundry soap without speaking of the joys of line drying? The simple act of pinning sheets to the line, hearing the 'snap' as the wind whips through the clothes and the fabulous sun-warmed scent when you slip on a shirt. Ahhhhhhhhh.

Admit it ........ it's old fashioned. Some people say hanging your clothes out for the world to view is tacky, while certain neighborhood associations go so far as to forbid clothes lines. (We do not live in such a neighborhood, by the way) I say: "Who cares!"

I do have standards, however. No unmentionables on the line (i.e. underwear, cami's, socks, braziers, garter belts or thongs) and I cannot stand the feel of stiff/itchy towels that have been line dried. So my dryer is not obsolete, just getting a little lonely and feeling under appreciated. Don't worry dryer! Your warmth will be much adored during the long, cold winter months!

As for my method, of course I have one. I'm nerdy that way.
  • shirts hang upside down, loosely, as to allow the wind to billow through them
  • pants are hung by their waistline (no more dryer-shrunk jeans!!!!!)
  • sheets are pinned top hem to bottom hem. Again ....... the billowing effect
  • my clothesline is ALWAYS retracted after use. Tacky if not. HeHe
  • never leave your clothes to hang overnight. I don't trust nocturnal animals.
  • always wear an apron with deep enough pockets to hold your clothespins IN when you bend over to grab the next item from the basket

Let me know if you want me to make one for you. Really, they're very sexy.

Watching sheets dry is my idea of relaxing. Some people have a comfy spot on a dock to watch the soothing ripples on a lake; I have my camp chair on my deck to watch the billowing sheets.

You know what this means, don't you? Yeah ....... clean sheet night.


saving some dough

Being willfully unemployed this summer, I have felt the need to take a fine toothed comb to our family budget. After all, I am not bringing in an income and THAT makes me nervous.

First I backed up and figured what I would have earned had I continued working. My part-time hours would have been cut due to lower summer enrollment and by me removing availability to counter the stress of taking my kiddos to work with me. Rounding it all out, I would have brought in about $700 after taxes during the 11 week summer break. Take out gas money (1.5 gallons a week for 11 weeks = about $40), extra meals and treats picked up to bribe the children, ($20 a week x 11 weeks = $220) and it takes the income to $440. That's not chump change, but when looked at from a weekly standpoint, it's only $44.

I wondered if by tweaking the budget I could make up that money. Let's see: all calculations based on 11 week period of summer break for the kids.

  • Choosing not to fix the 2nd car, just for the summer, leaving me and the kids to walk/bike to the store, library, pool, friend's houses. $400 saved in repair + an average of $5/week on gas = $455. (I realized this is temporary, as we will need to have 2 cars by the time school begins. Putting off the repair DOES save money by not having the car available to run out and spend money we were not planning on spending. Hard to calculate, so I will use the repair amount to cover this)
  • Calling the phone company and removing the 'extras' like Caller ID, 3-way calling, yada yada .... as well as removing our long distance. Both Dave and I have cell phones (Dave's paid through his work and mine at $45 a month) and can use our minutes for calling out of area. Saved = $55
  • Placing our DirecTV on hold. No monthly charges until we decide to hook it back up or live without the service. We did have to purchase a converter box for the digital take-over but I searched for the online coupons and received $80 towards 2 boxes. We paid $14 out-of-pocket after the coupons and also purchased a $30 antenna to ensure a good picture. Saved = $215 (holding service) - $15 - $30 = $170
  • Going Greener: We planted a garden (no money saved due to purchasing items to create the garden. Next year we should only have seed expenses). Line drying clothes saves us money on the utilities bill as well as extending the life of our clothes. Granted, I don't line dry EVERY time I do laundry, (and I don't hang our underwear and towels out) but I am getting more consistent. Making my own laundry soap saves us .45 a load x 11 loads a week equals $45 saved in 11 weeks. Total saved by going greener = $60
  • Having more time: Being home with the kids mean I DO more around the house. I tend to fix most meals instead of eating out or grabbing something convenient at the last minute. I have time to SHOP for bargains. I have time to sew and craft with the kids instead of buying something pre-made or spending that time at an expensive outing for entertainment. I really can't put a price on this. Being able to have the time to do the things I want for myself, my husband and my kids brings me into balance which equals happiness for me.
:: drum roll please::

$44 a week in our pocket by working part-time during the summer break.

$67 a week in our pocket by staying home and taking care of the kids.

I realize this is just a 'snapshot' of certain things and variables are not figured into the equation. It makes me feel better, though, for quitting my job and choosing to spend my time with my children and making my husband's life a little easier.


sneak peeks

We have had a busy weekend and I am sad to see it come to an end. You know when all your projects and ideas come together without a whole lot of mess in between? That is how it has been for the past couple of days.

Our community hosts an annual celebration called Summerfest. Three whole days of activities and things to get out as a family and enjoy. We attended the 2-hour parade and the kids came home with more candy than they did on Halloween. The afternoon was spent with Dave taking the kiddos to the carnival while I stayed home and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Well, the peace at least. I cranked up some tunes and laid carpet tiles in Madison's room.

Speaking of: Here is a sneak peek at the new flooring (story to follow later) and the painted walls. Only two of the walls are green, the other two are white. Oh, and the trim still needs to be done. And the electrical. Sheeeeeeesh

Today was spent doing yard work, running errands with Dave while Mads watched the younger ones, and some time with the sewing machine.

Sneak peek at the 'photo booth' for Ellie's party THIS Thursday!

I pieced together 7" strips of purple and blue fabric and backed it with a plain white cloth. I placed it up on our swing set's platform with double sided tape. Ellie posed so I could get a feel for how well it would work. ::check:: Another thing off my to-do list.

Snack Pouches

Sandwich Wraps

And the last sneak peek of the day is of my snack pouches and sandwich wraps. Last year the girls used SO many plastic bags for their school lunches. I'm not 'crunchy granola', but I did hate seeing all of those plastic bags being used once and then thrown away. My solution involved the sewing machine, fabric, Velcro and rip-stop nylon (flag/parachute material). Machine wash and air dry, of course.

The pouches are a cotton fabric on the outside and a water-resistant (ie, will not hold pickle slices without soaking through ........ okay, Madison?) nylon for the lining. A couple of pieces of Velcro and it is good to go. I plan to improve on these by using a zipper instead of the Velcro. Some of the snacks left messy crumbs in the hook and loops leaving them less effective at staying closed.

Next up are the sandwich wraps. One side cotton fabric and the inside lined with nylon; secured with Velcro tabs. I intended them to be dual use ........ as a wrap for a sandwich (duh) and a place mat. The theory was spot on, but the practical use not so much. The wrap is not air tight, so the bread staled. Also, if you wanted a sandwich with lots of condiments; it got messy pretty fast. I think for the next round I will just make a bigger 'snack pouch' with a zipper closure.

To round out the weekend, we are taking the kids to go and see the Summerfest Fireworks. At 10pm. On a Sunday. Hhhhmmm. What a way to take advantage of the WHOLE weekend!


work in progress

Last week my I wrote about my father-in-law coming over to help us move along our project for Madison's basement room. I was going to save the obligatory 'before and after' post until the project was completed, but what fun would that be? A little suspense and teasing is GOOD for the soul. And, besides, I have way too much fun taking photos along the way.

Madison left a little message for her Grandpa ...... written on the wall ....... with a Sharpie. I am such a cool parent. She also wrote "Goodbye yellow walls" and "Thank you Dad" signed with a little heart. So grateful.

The walls were concrete foundation, so the first step was framing up the walls to add insulation and drywall. Take notice of the carpet; it is a cheap Berber and we wanted it outta there.

Drywall done! Mudding, taping and sanding done professionally by Dave. He is not for hire, so don't ask.


The carpet........?

What's the issue? It was a steal of a deal!

Um, ....... Madison picked it out?

This hideous excuse for a floor covering was under the Berber carpet. We knew this ahead of time because the ENTIRE basement was wall to wall red plush love. Kind of grows on you, huh?

Not done yet! The 'party carpet' was backed by a ^$#@%^ caustic rubber adhered with nasty chemicals to the cement floor. Removal by a scraper and lots of new curse word for the children to add to their repertoire.

Thank goodness Dave has lots of favors he can call in with the people he works around. A tough guy named Bernie loaned us a pneumatic scraper and the job was completed in a couple of evenings. Madison baked Bernie some chocolate chip cookies as a thank you gift for sparing her siblings' ears of more naughty phrases.

........... please tune in next time for more updates to the basement room remodeling tale!



It kind of sneaks up on you. Not an announcement over the loud speaker or the leading story on the front page of the newspaper.

For me, happiness is a sigh of contentment followed by "oh, what do I get to do next?"

I keep thinking of that insurance commercial where the people are in different stages of their life and are shown standing on a red dot and stating: "....... yeah, I'm there." I need to find a red dot rug and carry it around with me so I can stand on it to remind me where I am at right now. Because once you are happy, it can disappear out of sight in an instance. You have to cultivate it and care for it and form a symbiotic relationship with it.

Why all the happy speak? Well, I just told you. I need to write about my happiness as a way to keep it around a little longer. You know the lyrics by Johnny Mercer, You've got to accentuate the positive; eliminate the negative; and latch on to the affirmative; don't mess with Mister In-Between.

Hokey dokey. Here are some reasons to remind myself why I am happy:

- I painted a room today ...... while all three kiddos were home with me.
- Ben & Ellie had their annual check-up at the Dr.'s and they both received a clean bill of health.
- Coffee
- Library books

I could go on and on, but the point of my story is to prove happiness for me is all about the little triumphs. There was a time where I did not believe happiness, long-term-stick-to-your-ribs happiness, was something I could have. Something I even deserved. I am HAPPY to report I was wrong.


So, what does your husband do for a living?

I always struggle to answer this question. He is a Geologist by education and works in the Environmental/Engineering/Consulting business. I think. I mean he leaves in the morning and comes back home at night and every two weeks he brings home some bacon. Dave is not defined by his work, so I try not to define it either. Some days, however, he provides me with the perfect answer to "what do you do all day"?

:: phone ringing at 10am ::

Dave: "He babe; just called tell you where I am driving to right now."

Me: wiping sleep out of my eyes because my God, who calls this early?!
"Are you driving to the nudie bar?"

Dave: "Ah, no. So I am about to leave the office when I walk by the front desk and see the message light on the phone is blinking."

Me: "So why didn't your secretary answer the phone? Oh, yeah. You don't have a secretary."

Dave: "Do you want to hear the story? Okay. So there was a message from some guy who saw our company name on some old oil drum barrels. The ^%$)(* contractors were supposed to dispose of them after we did our testing. They obviously didn't. This guy goes on to say he thinks he sees a dead body hanging out of one of the barrels. So, I am headed out to the job site to take a look."

Me: "WTF? Call the police! Do not go out there by yourself. Are you nuts? Geez, babe .... what are you thinking? A dead body? What if this is a trap?"

Dave: "Oh, don't worry. I'll just go out there and have a quick look around. It was probably a crank call, anyway. The guy didn't leave a name or number to call back. I'm sure just a couple of punks were messing around in the area and wanted to play a prank joke."

Me: "Well, alright. But I really don't think you should be going by yourself. Do you P-R-O-M-I-S-E to call the police if anything looks fishy? Oh, and call me back AS SOON as you know something. Love you, Bye"

:: 4 hours later, phone rings::

Me: coughing the bon bons up and swallowing quick so I can answer the phone
"Hi! Why did you wait so long to call me back?"

Dave: "Call you back.......why?"

Me: "Um, the dead body?!"

Dave: "Oh, that. I drove out there and poked around a bit, but I didn't see anything. There may have been a dead body there somewhere, but not anywhere obvious."

Me: "So, that's it?"

Dave: "Yep. Off to another job site to see some guy and tell him to do some stuff. Love you, Bye"

All in a days work.


sneak peak of party flag banner

Since we didn't have our annual 4th of July party to attend, our holiday was pretty laid back. Dave did some more finish work on the drywall and I worked some magic on my sewing machine.

In a previous post, I've mentioned Ellie's backyard carnival party, and this flag banner is something I have been wanting to make. All of the fabric was in my stash, so all I purchased was some bias binding ...... because I am lazy and didn't want to make my own. Have you ever made bias binding? Mind numbing I tell you. If I had a fancy tool to make it go quicker I might reconsider making it; but probably not. We plan to hang the banner over our driveway so the guests can walk underneath it to enter the festival extravaganza!

Madison and a friend finished painting the bean-bag-toss game. Dave took a piece of MDF, cut 4 holes and spray painted the whole thing white. Mads planned out the design (seals) and drew it herself. She had a little trouble with the painting ...... still a learning curve to get over.

Ellie and I made the blue bean bags you see stacked on the floor. Other than party favors, we are just about ready for her party. I hope to tie up those loose ends this week. For now, I plan to clean up the craft room and pick a soft spot on the couch to read a book. Ahhhhhhh.


Happy Birthday America!!!!!

I am celebrating the 4th of July by eating a patriotic breakfast, made by my dear husband. Homemade waffles, butter, syrup, whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries. I can't think of a better way to celebrate our nation's birthday.

Oh, and one last picture from yesterday's photo shoot. The best part of looking through the photos on the camera is seeing all of the funny outtakes. This one cracks me up. I took the liberty of letting you all know what I think they were thinking. Think about that.


photographer for a day

My girlies are home!!!!! Ahhhhhh, I am complete again. They had a fantastic time and are anxious to be home and sleep in their own beds tonight.

The Illinois cousins brought the girls home and will continue on to Omaha to visit with family for a week or so. Grandma B had requested a little photo shoot while all of the kids were together, so I got to play photographer for a day. I took the kids over to a local park and bribed them with the playground equipment if they would hold still and smile nicely for me. Yeah, I'm smart like that.

:: drum roll please ::

Group Shot


My precious babies

Individual Portraits

Generally I prefer to take candid action shots, but Grandma prefers the more traditional, portrait style of photos. They turned out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

EDIT: I went back to March of 2005, the last time I took photos of all of the kids together for a planned shoot. Oh. My. Gosh. Look at these little pumpkins!