Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh, Sandy!

In the scheme of things, Sandy was just a nuisance in my area: flooding, road closures, power outages, trees down, and no lives lost. In the greater affected area, many people are dealing with major issues caused by the storm. The recovery in some areas will take months!

I am thankful:

*That my extended family along the East Coast is fine, and so are their dwellings.

*That we did not lose power or communication during the worst of the storm.

*That my house is on top of a hill and it would take A LOT of rain in a small amount of time for the creek to flood my house.

These pictures are just a timeline of the creek that runs through my neighborhood across our backyards. In no way are they comparable to the flooding in many cities!

The creek on a normal day (this tree is to the left of the next 5 pictures)

10/29 around noon (taken from my deck)

10/29 around 2:00 pm

10/29 around 4:15 pm

10/29 around 5:40 pm (last shot before sunset)

10/30 around 8:00 am

Just for comparison purposes, here is a picture from the worst flooding we have witnessed since living in this neighborhood. It is taken on ground level and the "Florida Room" of our neighbor's house (see below the word "branches" in the picture above) is about 4 feet from the edge of the water.

5/26/2011 Our little creek became a river!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Day My Van Was Possessed

No, there is not a typo in the title... my van did not get "repossessed," it was POSSESSED. The Demonic kind. The Horror Story kind. The "I can't make this $&*^ up" kind.

It is a normal Thursday morning in our household. The alarm goes off way too early. I get myself ready for work, and then get the kids ready for daycare and school. We pile into the van and off we go to the daycare. As per usual routine, I leave everything in the van except the keys, lock up, and take the boys inside. When I return to the van, I push the unlock button on the key fob...

The headlights start flashing, the interior lights come on, the windshield wipers run on high setting (both front and rear), and the horn screams into the early morning. Not the "honk, honk" like when the alarm goes off; the steady HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONK like when you lean on the horn. The van is freaking out. I am freaking out. The driver door is still locked. I push every button on the fob with no result.


Oh, look: the passenger door is unlocked. Huh... I wonder how that worked.

So I run around to the passenger side and climb in. My first thought is to put the fob in the ignition and try to start it up; maybe that will make the crazy stop. Nope. The van starts up beautifully, however it is still having it's temper tantrum. I push the unlock button on the door console, which does nothing, so I use the handle to open the door.

Now what?!? In about 5 more minutes there is going to be angry mob of pajama-clad people coming out of their houses, and I have no idea how many of them own firearms!! I've got to get away from the neighborhood and figure out the next step.

So, I put it in drive and pull away. Horn blowing. Wipers flailing. Lights flashing. I am a mobile air-raid siren.

I drive approximately one mile to a hardware store. As I pull into the parking lot, I notice there is an early shopper in the parking lot; he watches me closely.

I swear I did not steal this vehicle! I have proof of ownership, although right now I may give it to you if it continues to act this way!

As I look for a good lamppost to park under (remember, it is still before sunrise) the crazy stops. No more blinking. No more honking. The wipers stop in the middle of the windshield.


So I put it in park and turn it off. And turn it back on. Completely normal, as if the past 5 minutes never happened.

Now what? Do I got to work? Do I call for a tow and become the brunt of some guy's joke for the rest of the week?

I nod to the early shopper as I pass him, I pull out of the parking lot, and I continue on towards work.  I call my husband and relay the "freak-out" of the van. I get on the highway and drive a couple of miles...

Wipers flail. Lights flash. Horn screams. But I get added bonuses this time: Wiper fluid sprays, Engine cuts off, and the Brakes apply. I was doing 70 mph on a major highway. Now I am starring in a horror movie. Thank goodness there were no other vehicles near me at this moment.

I steer the demon-ship to the shoulder and put it in park. This time, it will NOT start again. Not even a sputter. Dead engine, however everything else still seems to be working (screaming, flailing, spraying). I call my husband.

HELP ME! WHAT DO I DO? WHO DO I CALL? (Who will believe this?!?)

My husband can hear the crazy over the phone. So he tells me to call for a tow and he will circle back to come get me (he is on his way to work as well). As I'm pulling out the card to call for roadside assistance, the crazy stops. At least now I can hear myself think! I call for roadside assistance.  The automated system tries to tell me I'm in a difference state. Seriously?!? Finally, I speak with a human being. I did not relay the story, I just requested a tow. At the same time I am talking with the service, I text work to tell them I am having "car trouble;" this can not be explained in a text. The tow is arranged and I have 40 minutes to wait... 40 minutes alone with a van that is this close to speaking in tongues and spinning in circles.

At some point the silence gets to me so I take my chances and turn on the radio. At least that seems to work without negative consequences.

Once my husband arrives, he joins me in the van and calls the repair shop where our van goes for service under our extended warranty. Thankfully, they have just opened. My husband explains to the lead technician that our van will be towed there shortly and asks if we should come in to explain the problem. The tech tells him to just explain it over the phone. My husband tells him: we believe the van is possessed. He turns to me and asks me to explain how it started. I just motion for him to give the phone.

I have to give the tech credit: he did not laugh while he was on the phone with me. Granted, he may have pushed mute at some point while I was telling my story...

When I finished, he summarized the entire story. It sounded twice as ridiculous coming from him. "So now you refuse to drive it any further since it is Possessed." EXACTLY! Gotta love a tech with a sense of humor. He takes my contact information and tells me he will give me a call after running diagnostics and taking a look at everything.

The tow truck arrives. I wave good-bye to the Captain of Crazyland. My husband drives me to work. I'm an hour later than normal, but at least I got there.

It turns out the entire power module short-circuited. I guess if my power module blew-up, I'd act a bit crazy, too. The repair is covered under the warranty, the van is fixed and ready to go by 4:30. They arrange a rental car to come pick me up at work and I drive it to the repair shop. They know what time I would be there to pick it up. As I stood in line at the Cashier (there was one other person before me), I noticed all 4 techs at the repair desk looking at me.

I looked each one in the eye, and turned my attention back to the cashier. I will not share in your humor. Not today.

As I walk to my van, my footsteps become more hesitant... will it happen again?

Every time I drive my van, I feel a little bit of anxiety...

This will only heal with time.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Homemade Cleaners - Starting Small

One of the side-effects of having children is being more aware of the ingredients in everything I bring in the house: snacks, cleaners, take-out, etc. The past 6 years have seen a shift in my shopping, and I have begun making my own version of items (see previous posts about Granola and Gummy Snacks). The other side-effect is noticing the cost of everything.

Now I am experimenting with cleaning products.

I found a great online resource in DIY Natural. It has TONS of ideas for creating homemade, natural products (I am not receiving anything for this endorsement; just sharing something awesome that I found).

For my first two experiments, I picked two items that we use very often in our house: Laundry Detergent and Dishwasher Detergent. These detergents touch every item that comes in contact with our food and every item that comes in contact with our skin. I thought that was a great place to start.

The ingredients for the Laundry Detergent are readily available at the grocery store and super easy to mix. I am on my second batch and I love the results so far. My clothing is clean, and I appreciate there is no additional fragrance from additives in other detergents. I have also been using white vinegar with sweet orange oil as the fabric softener; again, a winner. These work well and are inexpensive.

I had a little more difficulty with one of the ingredients for the Dishwasher Detergent: citric acid. I made the detergent without citric acid and noticed the "clouding" problem mentioned in the comments with the recipe. So I made it my mission to get the missing ingredient. Thanks to a tip on the website, I stopped by the local homebrew shop and found the citric acid without having to order online. One week later and the clouding on the plastic is completely gone and the rest of the dishes are shiny again. Lesson learned: follow the recipe exactly until you understand how each ingredient works... this sounds like cooking and baking. I use white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment.

What homemade items are making your life cleaner and less expensive?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to the Grind

When am I not busy?

Everyone in my house will be back to the grind starting on Monday. CT will start First Grade, IG will be at daycare full time (where the daycare mom is going to "wage war" with him on potty training), my hubby will have his First Day with students, and I will have my 4th day with students. Per usual, the weekend becomes "catch-up with housework" time when I would rather do something more relaxing.

Oh, wait: I don't know how to sit still. Nevermind on that "relaxing" part.

I am extremely thankful for iCloud! No, I do not own stock in Apple, although I probably should. No, they are not paying me to blog about how fabulous the products are. Our house is a Mac house: MacBook, Air, iPods, iPhones, iPads, and AppleTV.

But iCloud is what I am loving right now. Hubby and I have "synced" our calendars using iCloud. At any time, I can pull up my iCal on any of my devices and see what is on any of our schedules. Instantly. Oh yeah. They only time it sucks is due to user error: "But you didn't put this meeting on the calendar!"

My OCD loves iCloud. All is right in the world.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer Goals - FINAL WEEK!!

It is officially the last week of summer break. Technically, it is the last few days since teachers officially report back on Thursday. As always the break has gone by fast. Even though we were fortunate to have 10.5 weeks of summer break in my district this year, time moves fast since I try to cram as much in to that time as I can.

Time to reflect...

Week One: I was super successful with setting and achieving goals the first week. It also helped that I was the only one home!! My husband and children still had one more week of school.

Week Two: Successful at setting goals, but not completely successful at achieving them. The house was full (everyone home), so distractions were constant!!

Week Three: Successful at setting goals, horrible at achieving them...

Week Four: Successful at setting goals...

Week Five: Oops!

Week Six: Doh!

Week Seven: Sort-of successful at setting goals, did not completely achieve them.

Week Eight: Completely successful at setting and achieving goals! Of course, this is simply because I was on vacation and the goals were beach and family oriented :)

Week Nine: Completely successful at enjoying every minute visiting my BFF/sister in California.

Week Ten: No goals set, however I did start a new fitness/meal plan with my husband which should help us both feel more fit and energetic. The challenge will be to keep up with it once our "normal" schedules begin again.

Week Ten and a Half: That would be this coming Sunday through Wednesday, the final days of my summer break.
  • I need to paint the front railing. It is mostly prepped; I guess I should paint it :) 
  • I need to convince my brain to focus on work tasks since there will not be enough time in the day to complete everything if I wait until the 4 days before students walk in the door! 
  • I need to get my oldest son ready for First Grade, which he will start in 2 weeks (this just involves reviewing what he learned in Kindergarten and checking supplies).
I will start that list tomorrow. For now, I will enjoy the view out my front window:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Goals - Week 9

We had a fantastic summer vacation at the beach last week (Week 8 of my summer break). Following family tradition, we rented a house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My maternal grandmother grew up in Elizabeth City, NC, and the tradition began for her family when there was not much of anything except the sand, the sun, and the ocean. Although there are all the modern conveniences now readily available, I still love it for the sand, the sun, and the ocean.

My goals last week were about enjoying the beach as much as possible and spending time with my family creating memories... both of these were achieved.

Since we take our vacation towards the end of July, I always feel that it marks the end of my summer. August 1st is usually when I face the fact that I need to start focusing on the new school year: making plans, editing documents, making lists, etc. However, I get to slightly extend my "mental" summer break this year:


Kimberly is my best friend and sister-from-another-mother. We met on the bus in 6th grade, and have remained best friends to this day. Although we are only 3 months (to the day!) apart in age, she was one grade level ahead of me. We were constantly together through our middle school years, living at each others houses since we lived across the street from each other. When she moved to a different neighborhood, we remained friends. When she moved to California, we remained friends. We have lived 3000 miles apart since 1996, but that does not dampen our love for each other.

As our families grow, it becomes more challenging to afford and find time to visit each other. It has been FOUR YEARS since our last visit (she traveled to the East Coast for her niece's high school graduation). I have not met her 2.5-year-old son and her 5-month-old daughter, and she has not met my 3-year-old son. When her daughter was born in February, I pledged to find a way to see her... I can only afford to send myself and not my family, but that's enough for now.

So my only goal for this week: enjoy every moment with my sister.

Taken at my wedding

I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED!!! I will see you tomorrow, Timmie!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Birth of a New Cookie

I have been eating eggs for breakfast this summer, and to keep it relatively healthy I've been using 1 egg + 2 egg whites... which means I have a bunch of unused egg yolks. I hate just tossing them down the garbage disposal, so I researched methods to store them and recipes to use them. Unfortunately, they do not freeze well, so I can only extend their life by a few days in the fridge, enough to gather yolks and make a recipe of some sort.

First up: Egg Yolk Cookies

I found this recipe on Food.com (Love that site! Been a member since it was Recipezaar.) I started by following the recipe exactly as it is listed (except I did substitute one of the cups of flour with whole wheat flour).

*Pet peeve: I HATE when recipes do not list the ingredients in the order in which you use them. Drives my OCD bonkers!!!

Anyway, as I was mixing and adding and such, my mind wandered and I wondered what else could I do to make these fabulous. How about adding some of my peach preserves I made last summer? What a great idea! But how?

I decided to use my mini-muffin pans and my tart wand. I followed the recipe through to step 7 (form into balls about the size of a walnut) and step 8 (roll balls in sugar) which is when my baking took a detour. I placed each ball in a spot in the pan, used my tart wand to turn them into mini pie shells, and then I filled each with peach preserves. I had no clue how these would turn out. I could be looking at a sticky mess.

I baked them for 15 minutes, cooled for 5 in the pan, then gently twist/pulled to get them out of the pan and onto cooling racks... only about 5 fought me on getting out of the pan.

They are delicious!! If you want to make them, you can use any flavor of jam or jelly you like. I used an entire jar to make the batch, and still had enough dough remaining to make a dozen standard cookies. Enjoy!! And please do not drool on your keyboard as you ogle the photo below :)

I call them: Jam Cup Cookies

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Goals - Week 7

WEEK 7?!?! What happened to 5 and 6?

Life happened, that's what.

Some updates for you:

*Chore Charts: so far a success! The boys went shopping for the first time using their spending money. CT saved up to get a Lego set, which we spent quality time assembling. IG bought more Buzz and Woody toys to feed his obsession; check this post to see how his obsession is ruining my household.

*Cost Cutting: thanks to the internet, I have found 2 more methods for helping with grocery costs. Although I have not crunched the numbers, I hope that making my own Gummy Fruit Snacks and Granola Bars will lower my grocery bills. Of course the trade off is spending more time in the kitchen, since my boys (big and small) eat through these incredibly fast.

*Music Camp: fun, successful and exhausting! I had 9 campers between the ages of 6 and 9. We spent 3 hours together every day for 5 days, learning to play guitar and piano, as well as singing, dancing, crafting (yes, that's a noun now), and having a great time! As soon as the PR director of the School of Music posts pictures, I will update this to include a link :)

Week 7 Goals

Personal - Hmmm... no clue. Maybe reading for pleasure. Maybe finding 10 minutes of peace each day (not sure that is possible). Maybe taking a walk each day, which will give me at least 20 minutes of peace and a work-out.

Home - Paint the front railing. I have finished the prepping process, however I refused to paint with the temperature over 90 degrees. The weather was finally accommodating last week, however I was then busy with Music Camp.

Work - I have a PD session to attend on Tuesday. I think that is enough for this week. I usually try to push off most work tasks until August 1st, which is coming all too soon.

Week 8 will be spent on vacation. No goals, other than to enjoy my family and try to relax.

Granola Bars

Thanks to Pinterest, I have more recipes I want to try than I have time to actually try them. But it was time for the granola bars recipe. Yet another snack that my boys (including the big boy) inhale faster than I can purchase them. 30 bars gone in a week.

So yet again I used on online recipe to make some bars; no tweaking required... yay!! Well, a little tweaking, but only in the process, not in the ingredients. And it takes slightly longer than 3 minutes... maybe 5, but definitely less than 10.

First tweak, I line my pan with parchment paper. My best baking friend is parchment paper. Whenever you want to be able to lift your item out of the pan to easily slice, use parchment. Oh, yeah. When I tried to "push" the mixture into the pan (by the way, the pictures involved a doubled recipe in my big jelly roll pan), the mixture stuck to the spoon and my fingers. So another sheet of parchment paper, my best baking friend. Now it was super easy to push the mixture really well into the pan.

The hardest part of the recipe: allowing the batch to rest on the counter for 2 hours WITHOUT my boys eating it.

When they are set, I just lift out using the parchment paper and slice. If I had been a little more exact with my sizing, I could have sliced this batch into 36 bars (3 x 12) but instead I only got 3 x 11 with the bars all the way to the left a bit wider than the rest. I place them in a plastic container, using the parchment (hurray for reuse!) to layer between levels, and leave them in the snack drawer to be devoured.

The flavor is reminiscent of rice krispie treats, but so much better since there is no marshmallow; I am not a rice krispie treat fan.

*If you need an invite to Pinterest, let me know :) I will need your email address to send the invite through Pinterest. But be prepared: IT IS AN ADDICTION!! Therapy may be needed in the future.


I started a quest a few weeks ago to find a recipe for Gummy Fruit Snacks. My boys LOVE gummies and my budget can not afford to keep up with how quickly they eat through them. So I found this recipe online and began the experiment.

I followed the recipe exactly and used my mini-muffin pan, since I do not have any ice cube trays.

They were... decent. Not nearly enough flavor for me and my boys, but the texture was good. My next thought was to find a good balance of flavored gelatin with unflavored gelatin to get the additional flavor but keep the texture. I went through various experimental versions over the next two weeks.

Some were too jello-y and we needed a spoon to eat them.

Some had the consistency of a bouncy ball and we could not even bite them. No, we did not experiment with how high they could bounce since I did not want to encourage the boys to play with their food.

I'm now very close to what I want.

I use 3 ounces of concentrated juice (thawed), 5 teaspoons of flavored gelatin, and 4 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin. I am able to buy the gelatins in bulk, so that helps lower the cost of production: it comes out to 62 cents per batch! :) I purchased ice cube trays in different shapes to see what will happen; my boys love pirates! What is pictured below is actually three batches based on the 3:5:4 ratio. I placed them in the refrigerator for a while to help them set.

They are still too sticky for my likes, however the boys love them. The fruit and pirate trays worked really well, since they are silicone and I can bend them to get the gummies out. The white tray... not so good. I had to use my fingers to dig our the circles and hearts, and I am not able to get the stars out at all. I think I will just use them make ice cubes and purchase additional silicone trays. The boys really want gummies in super hero shapes :)

If you have any tips for helping them not to stick to the trays and/or for making the gummies a bit less sticky, I would love your suggestions.

Disney Makes Me Rated R

I would love to be a fly on the wall during a Disney movie brain-storming session, especially one in which they are discussing naming the characters. Can you imagine the amount of laughter involved with some of the suggestions?

Let's take "Toy Story." Rewind to the character naming session over 12 years ago.

"Let's name the cowboy 'Woody'."

<Everyone at the session imagines every parent in the world having to discuss their child's obsession with Woody... and proceeds to laugh hysterically until they pee themselves>

Fast forward to present day. These are the characters that my 3-year-old is obsessed with:

"No, I haven't seen your Woody."

"Are you looking for your big Woody or little Woody?"

"Do you have a Buzz?"

"Do you have a Woody in your lap?"

"Has anyone seen his Woody?"

"Which Buzz do you want?"

<begin sarcasm> Thanks, Disney. You're the best. <end sarcasm>

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Goals - Week 4

I am still struggling with this whole "time" issue. I don't feel like I am setting too many goals for myself, however I am getting sidetracked with other projects and tasks. Maybe by Week 8 (out of 10.5) I will finally get the hang of achieving my goals. I am not going to post a recap, simply because I am not going to dwell on that which I did not complete.

Week 4 Goals

Personal - Read every day for personal reasons, not work-related. I have not quit the daily physical activity, but I feel it no longer needs to be my goal (that and if it is not a focus, maybe I will have better success)

Home - Prep and paint the front railing. I did the research last week, but I did not have the opportunity to complete the project.

Work - create the student packets for the music camp. That will take up a good chunk of time, so that's all for this category.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Goals - Week 3

Now that I have had a dose of what summer "break" will really be like on a weekly basis, I hope to get back on track this week (see my update about the chaos last week).


Personal - Keep up the daily physical activity and include at least 2 spinning (cycling) classes.
I need to do this... for me.

Home - Research how to paint the front railing (which is rusting) and then paint it. I also need to get dirt to fill my planting boxes (which I built myself... woman power!). I'll have to take some pictures...

Work - create the daily lesson plans for the music camp and begin creating the student packets; post to my music blog.

Does anyone else suffer from "not-enough-time-itis?" You mean, EVERYONE has this?!? No way!! It's an epidemic!

Summer Goals - Week 2 Recap

Where does the time go?!? Last week was more like what summer "break" is around this house: chaotic. Week 1 was relatively blissful since I was the only one home. Last Monday was similar since I was still the only one home. Then it was Tuesday... EVERYONE was home... all day. I sneaked out for a cycling class, but otherwise it was time for bed before I new it!! And this continued the rest of the week.

Update to Week 2 Goals:

Personal - I did not keep up with this goal. I did spend 2.5 hours cleaning out the garage on Monday (that definitely counts as physical activity) and I did go to the cycling class on Tuesday. And that was it. Wednesday was spent at "work," Thursday prepping for the garage sale, and Friday & Saturday holding the garage sale.

Home - Completely achieved... yay! I did clean and reorganize the garage and I did hold the garage sale. Although I did not sell as much as I hoped to, I did make $300... which I am using to upgrade the boys to a bunk-bed. See below for how I organized my garage sale.

Work - I did create the overall plan for the music camp and create the "basic" daily lesson plan, however that's as far as I got.  I did not post to my music blog. Oh, well.


I did some research online to pick up some tips to success. Some of the best tips that I employed was to make everything clean, to label prices and sizes clearly, and to make it very organized like shopping in a store. I put the large items in the driveway (with the hopes of attracting customers) and the smaller things on shelves, bins, and laid out on blankets in the garage.

I re-purposed some election yard signs (from a friend of my husband) to "Garage Sale" signs and placed those at the main roads leading to my housing development. Then I had smaller signs on the street sign and my mailbox. I only "advertised" on Craig's List and the local yard sale Facebook page. I probably could have gotten more foot traffic if I had remembered to contact the local newspaper.

As the garage sale was happening (Friday and Saturday mornings), I took pictures and listed some of the items on the yard sale Facebook page. I got a few sales from that page.

I still have lots of stuff left, so I took a bunch of pictures and listed them on the Facebook page. Later today, I will also put the items on Craig's List.

I will conquer the clutter. I will.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Goals - Week 2

One week of summer break has gone by and it was wonderful!! It was nice to have some time to myself. My husband (also a teacher) and my oldest were both still in school the full week, so I sent the youngest to daycare and enjoyed some peace and quiet. I did achieve my goals for the week (check the update post), as well as did other projects and tasks.

During this summer break, I am teaching music 4 different ways: private flute lessons (one student, 5 sessions, 30-minutes each), a babies & toddlers music class (7 sessions, 30-minutes each), a music camp for ages 6-9 (5 sessions, 3 hours each), and assisting with the New Horizons band (a band for retirees who want to learn to play a band instrument, 8 sessions, 1.5 hours each). Thankfully, most of these sessions occur on different days of the week so I still have a very flexible schedule.


Personal - Keep up the daily physical activity and include at least 2 spinning (cycling) classes. I went to one class last week: the instructor was awesome, I loved the music choices, and the time of day works perfectly for me! The same instructor offers 3 different classes during the week, so I am going to make time for myself to go to at least 2 of them.

Home - clean and organize the garage, hold a yard/garage sale. I really hope to make a decent profit and clear out our house a bit.

Work - create the overall plan for the music camp, create the daily lesson plans, and begin creating the student packets; post to my music blog. So far, the music blog has been successful, so I need to keep putting my ideas out there and sharing them with other music teachers.

Now these are just the BIG goals for the week. I am not very good at doing "nothing" so there are lots of little things that I do throughout the week.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer Goals - Week 1 Recap


Personal - Do some type of physical activity every day, such as walking, biking, playing with the boys, going to the gym, or playing Wii Fit.

Sunday = played frisbee with CT
Monday = used Wii Fit
Tuesday = walked with my Beagle, Xerbi
Wednesday = got out the bike, discovered it needs some adjustment, so I walked with my other beagle, Doyle, instead.
Thursday = did some Pilates while watching the Today Show
Friday = went to my first spinning (cycling) class in YEARS!!
Saturday = the only day I did not complete my goal; I spent 4 hours in my car and 6 hours at a meeting, then had movie night with the family. Perhaps I will do 2 activities tomorrow to make up for it...

Home - re-organize & move downstairs shelves, collect & clean items for yard sale

I finished the shelving project Wednesday. Of course that project spawned a few other smaller projects that also were completed on Wednesday... with some carryover into Thursday. The collection of yard sale items gets bigger every day.  I plan to hold the yard sale next weekend, so I'm sure you can guess what my next set of Home goals will be :)

Work - create task list (items that need to be completed prior to August 16th), post to my music blog

The task list is begun and ever growing. I guess next week is when I start actually working on the tasks, huh? I posted on my music blog and had a fantastic response to the post!! I'm feeling good about it since I just started it this spring.

See you tomorrow for Week 2 goals :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chore Charts

CT has hit the wonderful age of 6... and he is constantly asking for things. Squinkies... Nerf guns... Legos... video games... a basketball. Enough, already!

I did some research on ideas for allowance based on the ages of my boys. I know CT can handle many different tasks and IG, who is 3, will have a shorter list of tasks. I want them to learn the lesson of earning money and prioritizing how to use that money, however I do not want them to expect payment for every little task they do. Somehow I'd like to find the right balance.

Here's the plan:

I created a Chore Chart for each boy. On the left are the tasks they should be doing every day; these tasks earn the weekly "allowance." CT will be paid $6 per week and IG will be paid $3 per week as long as they are being a functioning member of the family and doing these tasks (put clothes in basket, straighten bed, put away toys, etc.). On the right are additional tasks that can be completed for additional pay; a quarter per task for CT and a dime per task for IG.

I created the charts using PowerPoint, printed them on regular paper, and put them in frames from the dollar store. Now I can use them as "wipe off" charts. At the bottom are spaces that I can keep track of their day to day progress: if they completed the allowance tasks and how many extra tasks they completed. Pay day will be Saturday morning of each week.

While at the dollar store, I also lucked out and found Piggy Banks (!) so I bought four of them, 2 for each boy.
The plan is for one piggy to hold "Savings" and for the other piggy to hold "Spending." CT will be required to put at least $2 of his allowance in the savings piggy each week, while IG is required to put at least $1 in the savings piggy. At the end of each month, we will go to the bank and put the contents of the piggies in to their savings accounts. The other piggy is for their spending money. CT already has ideas for what he wants to buy. Once he picks his first item, I will research it's price and create a chart so he knows when he has enough money to buy the item.

This Saturday will be our first pay day. I have no clue whether this will work they way I would like it to or not. Somehow there has got to be a way to teach children about the importance of working hard to afford what they want without creating monsters that expect payment for everything they are asked to do. I see both of those types of children every day: the ones that expect handouts and the ones that ask "what do I get?"

I'll let you know how it goes...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer Goals - Introduction

Being a teacher, I get the opportunity to spend a couple of months refreshing myself and attempting to catch up on tasks that I kept pushing off (until summer). Although those who may not personally know a teacher often think teachers have a "dream" work schedule, those in-the-know realize teachers regularly take work home and rarely work a typical 8-hour work-day (for which there is no overtime!).

Let me step down off my soapbox... sorry 'bout that.

In my district, the last day with students was June 1st and I have one more day in the school building on June 4th, then summer break officially begins! Teachers report back to work on August 16th, so that gives me 10.5 weeks to do all the personal, home, and work tasks that I have set aside for myself to accomplish. I will also have a handful of meetings to attend and music classes & camps to teach during these weeks.

Every Sunday, I will set at least 3 goals for myself: one personal, one home, and one work. I hope this will help me to reach my goals this summer, but also to keep me from over-booking myself or getting too lazy.


Personal - Do some type of physical activity every day, such as walking, biking, playing with the boys, going to the gym, or playing Wii Fit.

Home - re-organize & move downstairs shelves, collect & clean items for yard sale

Work - create task list (items that need to be completed prior to August 16th), post to my music blog

So once I post this, I am getting off my butt to start working on the shelves, and as soon as my hubby is finished mowing I am going for a bike ride.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rabbit Run to Catch Up

Yeah, yeah... I warned you it would be a while until I updated the blog again. I didn't think it would be 3.5 months in between posts, but life has been very "life-y."

So, where to start...

On the home-front, things are mostly well. CTM, the 6-year-old, has demonstrated some emotional and behavioral concerns since he started Kindergarten. So we consulted the school staff & his pediatrician and started a plan of action: behavior charts to keep track of day-to-day observations, consultations to check for underlying issues, and visits at the pediatrician to discuss treatment options. So far, the plan has worked beautifully!! He even achieved "Student of the Month" status for April. Hurray!!! IGM will be turning 3 next month. He is precocious and verbose and absolutely entertaining!!

On the career-front, things are busy. I have 3 private lesson flute students, one Musikgarten class, as well as my full-time middle school job. March is always busy in public schools since it the "Standardized Testing Month." And in the performing music class world, it is "Festival Month." Since those two "Months" seem to collide every year, it causes for a decent amount of stress and flexible scheduling. In addition to the normal amount of crazy at this time of year, I have the added bonus of being a Finalist for the County Teacher of the Year. This is a fantastic honor, which I am thrilled about and overwhelmed by at the same time. I'm putting all the details regarding that process in a separate blog.

This has not left a lot of time for cooking (for fun), baking (for fun), reading (for fun), or anything not related to keeping my household running on a daily basis. I'm still working on this whole "balance" between work-family-personal interests and obligations. Have any of you figured it out yet?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What's in a Name?

I'm linking up with Create With Joy for Friendship Friday (yeah, I know I'm a little late...)

So the question this week is: What inspired your Blog name?

Over the past 6 years, I have found myself remarking that my house feels like a circus: 2 dogs, 2 boys, and all the crazy that entails. At one point I surmised that although I view myself as the Ringmaster of this crazy and completely in control of the show, I am more likely just a Clown included for the comedic factor.

So when I decided to start a blog back in August, it was only natural to go with my circus thoughts :)

How about your blog name?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Flexitarian Wannabe

Flexitarian = one who chooses to mainly follow a vegetarian diet, however still enjoys the occasional meat item.

I have discovered that I am a Flexitarian.

Flexitarians are often called "Vegetarian wannabe's," as if we don't have the self-discipline to not eat meat. That has nothing to with it. I just really enjoy a good burger or pork BBQ :)

I have family members and friends who have dabbled at being Vegetarian as well as being Vegan, but I never quite got into it. I mean, why substitute tofu and still call it "Egg Salad?" I love food and I will try anything you put in front of me, but call it what it is! I am disappointed when I am expecting the texture of one food item and instead get an entirely different texture!!

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy tofu and many other vegetarian meatless products. The difference is telling me I am eating "veggie crumbles" versus allowing me to believe (or telling me) that it is meat. My husband has recently informed me he is willing to try meatless items... of course, I don't always tell him what he is eating before the first bite :)

I am still struggling to cook vegetarian meals. Simply substituting meatless items into meals does not quite cut it. And I know there are millions of recipes our there that are meatless without being a "substitution." So I will keep searching and trying. I have a few cookbooks I've picked up and a few blogs I have started to follow to get some ideas.

I have discovered that on the days I do not eat meat products, my body feels better in general. I think the most I have gone is 5 days without any type of meat. WOW what a difference in my overall well-being!!

On a side topic, after reading many blog posts about a product called "Kombucha," I decided to try it. I did some research online to find out what it is. The info is intriguing, so I bought a bottle yesterday to try it out. Here's the timeline:

  1. Purchased the bottle at the grocery store. Opened it in the car on the way to the next store. Took 2 drinks... um, ew. I know this is supposed to be good for your body, but, seriously?!?
  2. Went to another store. Took 2 drinks on the way to the next store. Tastes slightly better. Maybe it has numbed my taste buds.
  3. Went to the third store. Took a few more drinks on the way home. Not too shabby. Either my taste buds have left my mouth, or Kombucha is an "acquired" taste.
  4. Finished half of the bottle and placed the rest in the fridge for the next day... there is only so much my taste buds can handle in one day :)
I intend to finish the bottle today. Perhaps I just selected the wrong flavor to start with. if any of you have a good suggestion for my next bottle, I would love to hear it!

I finished the bottle of Kombucha and it was definitely better tasting once my taste buds had adjusted. I think I will buy a different flavor next weekend and keep the experiment going.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The UnDiet

It is the time of year where almost everyone is posting resolutions, and just about every set of resolutions has something about losing weight or getting fit. Not mine. (Of course, I don't set "resolutions"... see my last post).

Yeah, I used to be part of that crowd: trying different diets, shelling out the cash for fitness programs, and just hoping to figure out the mystery of the "skinny people."

There is no mystery.

The summer after I graduated college, I bought a health book that actually seemed to work. I did not own a scale, however I could feel the difference. Looking back now, I realize it was not the book itself but what the book was guiding me to do: eat unlimited fruits & vegetables and eat certain types of foods at the correct time of day for that food. Also, I was pushing myself to run or jog almost every day that summer... that was not in the book, although exercise was mentioned.

Fast forward to the year before my first pregnancy. I vowed to get back in shape prior to getting pregnant. I met with a trainer and a nutritionist at the gym where I had a membership. I LOVED the trainer!! He really listened to my fitness goals & what I like to do at the gym and tailored a plan that I wanted to do. I still see him occasionally around town; I'm sure he doesn't remember my name but he always recognizes me and stops to chat. The nutritionist mostly listened to me and created a meal plan that was pretty good (I don't like rice, sheesh), however she did not include chocolate.

Now there are many things I have cut out of my life in the spirit of "good health," but some things are REQUIRED to stay. Chocolate. Coffee. Wine. Seriously.

I followed the meal plan anyway, although I did have 2 pieces of chocolate every afternoon :) Between the training and the meals, I reached my goals.

Then I got pregnant. Then I gained 60 pounds, including the baby. And when 2 weeks after the baby was born I still had 40 pounds to lose (you mean to tell me they aren't born at the weight of a 3-year-old?), I pulled out the good ol' meal plan. I tried it for a couple of weeks and decided that I do not like to be told what not to eat.

I remembered the fruits & veggies book, but couldn't find it on my shelves or remember what it was called. So I got an app for my phone (Old School: Palm Treo... yeah, baby!) and decided to just log my food, count the calories, do physical activity, and WANT it to work. Oh, and my work was doing a "Biggest Loser"-type contest so I joined in that fun bit of motivation. I won the contest and 14 months after the baby was born, I was back to being me.

Whenever I feel that I am physically not at my best, I go back to eating more fruits & veggies, and try to squeeze in more activities. The second pregnancy was better: I only gained 40 pounds total and lost them all in 7 months. No, my body is definitely not what it used to be (Is THAT my belly? MY boobs look like that?!?), but I am healthy and happy and definitely not food deprived.

I do not claim that what works for me will work for anyone else. I listen to my body and figure out what I need, and that usually works. Although your needs may be different, I bet if you listen you can figure it out.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Look Ahead to 2012

Happy New Year!

Things that will be occurring in the Circus this year:

*CTM will be 6 years old in 5 more days!

*IGM will be 3 years old in May.

*I will complete my 10th year of teaching music in public schools in June.

*BWM and I will celebrate 9 years of marriage in July.

*I will continue to find more ways to "green" our life.

*I will continue to add more spirituality to my daily life.

*I will keep striving to remember "me" in my daily life, while taking care of my family and my career.