Saturday, April 30, 2011

Celebrating Four

When Lydia woke up on her birthday, the first thing she exclaimed was "Today is the first day of me being 4!"  She was pretty excited!

We have an 3.5 foot inflatable birthday cake that is pulled out for every birthday (we bought it when Colin saw it at the store when he was 3.) Next to the huge birthday cake, we had placed her brand new Disney bike w/pink camo helmet.  On top of the cake, I nestled the Max & Ruby stuffed animals.  And I put a new bracelet and a tiara in the pouch on the front of her bike.

She was a bit overwhelmed at first, but quickly got excited and tried out the bike.  We all had to get dressed and out the door, though, because the boys' school was hosting a family breakfast.  So, we went off and Lydia wore her tiara and enjoyed baked goods at school before sending the boys off to their classrooms.

Friday, April 29, 2011

She's Four!


 I can remember sharing my pregnancy news on my blog more than four years ago, then sharing our baby girl's birth on April 29, 2007.  (I spent some time  yesterday re-reading the posts during my pregnancy and it brought back so many memories!  It also reminded me how this blog used to be a small-picture of our life and it has become much more big-picture.)

Did you know I chose her birth date?  I have email proof that I decided months before she was born that April 29 would be a good birthday.  The pregnancy was tough on me, but I wanted her to be full-term.  On April 29, she would have been full-term (her "due" date was May 14) and it was a Sunday which meant that my sister wouldn't have to take a day off work to keep the boys.  Bo was working a job where his weekend was Sunday & Monday, which meant that he wouldn't have to miss any work.  It just seemed like the perfect day.

And then it ended up her birthday!  Of course, it didn't go quite as I expected.  I had every intention of having another VBAC, but my blood pressure was high, and bed rest was difficult and not really helping keep my blood pressure down.  We didn't have much choice but to force her out.  On the plus sides, my sister didn't have to miss work to keep the boys and Bo had the day of her birth and the next day off of work.  My doctor was great, the delivery went fine, (and Lydia is convinced that her dad was a doctor on that day because she has seen pictures of him in his scrubs for the OR) and I went home 2 days sooner than they usually  let c-section moms go home.

She's been a joy and a delight ever since. She will quickly tell you that she is my angel child.  She also will tell you that everyone looks at her because she is just too cute.  And, that she is.  Humility, however, is in short supply.

Her hair is down to her waist, and she proudly exclaims that she wants to grow it to her toes!  (But, she is starting to get used to the idea of getting a trim one of these days.)

Her brothers fight with her and play with her and delight in reading to her.  The first question she asks after I pick her up from childcare is "Are my brothers home yet?"  When we're spending a day at home during the week, she asks by 10AM -- "Isn't it time for my boys to be here yet?"  I worried when she was born whether or not they would be close, but my worry was unfounded.  They are definitely close and find ways to play together all the time.

Bo likes to say that she is just like me -- stubborn and willful and insistent and independent.  I think those are all wonderful qualities to have.

She is also kind and inquisitive and spunky and loving and intelligent.  Her favorite spot in the evening is curled into my arm while I read a chapter book aloud.

Happy Birthday, my dear Lydia Jane!  I can't believe 4 years have gone by!  I treasure each day I have with you!

Last year's post

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Her Last Day of Being Three

Unlike my boys, she can't wait to turn four tomorrow!  I remember each boy feeling nervous about turning four, but Lydia is ready to face the next year head on!

Tell Me Thursday - Easter Portrait

Yesterday's title said it all -- this is our 2011 Easter Portrait!

After Mass, we headed out to the desert to take some pictures of the kids.  We forgot our tripod, but we balanced the camera on an abandoned dryer and were able to get a few great shots of the entire family.

While we were out, we even managed to find a geocache!  The day started with the kids finding their hidden Easter baskets and then searching for eggs in our backyard.  We headed to church, then pictures in the desert, followed up by a stop at Starbucks.  The boys then went back out in the desert with the quads and then my sister & brother came over later for a very simple Easter dinner.  It was a lovely day -- how was yours?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Love Slingbox!

In the last couple months, we switched from DirecTV to the DISH Network.  Other than a better monthly rate, we were really intrigued by the Slingbox.  (Except for the name.  I hate the name - it makes me think of that movie Slingblade from the 90's.)

The Slingbox allows us to watch things we've recorded on our DVR from our iPhones and iPad while we're away from home.  How cool is that?  I can hand my phone to Lydia in Starbucks and she can watch the latest Max & Ruby while I catch up with a friend.  Bo can travel on work, and still watch his favorite shows when he has some down time.  It truly is a fantastic feature that I realize we've spoiled ourselves with!

The funny thing is that I'm not a huge TV-watcher.  But, I love being able to watch it completely on my schedule.  The DVR made that possible in the past, but this new feature makes it possible when I'm away from home as well.  I'm sold!

You can find out more information about the DISH network and all the features they offer by following one of the top DISH installers -- on Facebook, Infinity Facebook or if you prefer Twitter, follow Infinity Twitter.

Wordless Wednesday - Easter Portrait


Friday, April 22, 2011

Frigidaire and Eco-Friendly Options!

A couple summers ago, I was chosen to be a Frigidaire Refrigerator Test Drive Mom.   I still love our stainless steel refrigerator, and do my best to keep it full of healthy food for our family!

I recently learned that Frigidaire was named the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  I appreciate having energy efficient appliances, and have always been a proponent of making energy-smart decisions going back to the days when we owned our HVAC company.

In addition to being energy-efficient, our refrigerator works wonderfully and is designed to fit plenty of food for my family of 5.  In celebration of Frigidaire's achievements and of Earth Month, Frigidaire has a poll on their Facebook page that you can take regarding Eco-Friendly choices you make.  They're also giving away appliances each week during the month of April!  Head on over for your chance to win!

In our family, we try our best to make eco-friendly choices.  We use reusable bags, use rags when possible instead of paper towels, use low-flow toilets, recycle what we can, and watch our water consumption.  Have you added any new things this April to save the environment?

*Disclosure: I received information from Frigidaire about their ENERGY STAR partner status and a gift card in exchange for posting.  No additional compensation was provided, and all content is my own.*

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tell Me Thursday - Unaware

My iPhone is a family toy, so when I sync it I usually find pictures that I didn't take.  I was surprised yesterday to sync my phone and find a picture of myself.  Nate must have snapped it while we were waiting during Colin's viola class.

It was kinda nice to see a picture of myself -- especially among those things that he found important -- like his shoes, his pencil and his homework.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Betty Crocker Loaded Instant Potatoes (Giveaway)

 I love mashed potatoes.  I like them made from scratch, with a few lumps and some skin left on a few of the potatoes, with plenty of milk and butter and salt and paprika.  Yum!!

Sometimes, though, I don't have the time to make them from scratch.  Yes, I know it doesn't take that long, but some nights when I walk in the door and am lucky if I have 30 minutes before I need to walk back out again and dinner needs to be on the table -- instant mashed potatoes are made.  Betty Crocker has a new version of their instant potatoes that have seasonings mixed in already, saving me an extra step. 

Betty Crocker instant mashed potatoes are made with real potatoes and taste better to me than other instant potatoes that I've tried.  They are quick to make, and easy enough that the boys can make them.  They help round out a meal and help me get everyone fed something they like before we head back out to music lessons or sports or whatever.

To give my readers a chance to try them out, I have a great prize pack to give away thanks to Betty Crocker and My Blog Spark.  It includes a box of loaded instant mashed potatoes, a measuring cup, a spatula, a bowl and a potholder (that has a magnet so you can throw it on your refrigerator!)


To enter the giveaway, click HERE to hop on over to my giveaway form.  The information you enter there is entered into a Google spreadsheet and then I use random.org to choose the winning comment.

To enter the giveaway, you'll need the following information:

Name of Giveaway: Loaded Potatoes
Mandatory Question: What would you serve with your loaded mashed potatoes?

The giveaway will end on April 22, 2011.  Good Luck!

*Disclosure:  Betty Crocker provided me with the free product, information, and prize pack through MyBlogSpark.  No additional compensation was provided.  All opinions are my own, and were not influenced in any way.*

The Beat

Back in 2003, when I started this blog, my intention was to record the rhythm of our days.  Lately, however, life has been beating along so quickly that I don't have the time to blog the mundane parts of our life like I did when I was a SAHM with 2 toddlers. (Am I completely mangling the musical references?  I am SO not musical.)

I  have been cleaning out my blog reader and realized a number of blogs I followed were no longer publishing.  I also cleared out a number of single focus blogs.  While their craft ideas or recipes may have been interesting, I never got the feel that I "knew" them so I won't miss them.  I do, however, still think about some of the blogs I used to read in the early 2000's and wonder what has happened with their lives since they stopped blogging -- because they did open up their lives and I felt like I knew them. 

A friend mentioned that she was considering narrowing the focus of her blog, and perhaps starting multiple blogs.  I told her that I hope she keeps everything in one, because I like reading those "big picture" blogs so much more.  Even realizing that those bloggers that share a good portion of their lives can never share all of their lives.

I do blog about life and my kids and what we're doing.  But, it's only a small portion of who I am and while readers may have an idea of what's important to me, they don't really know me or what affects me.  I'm grateful for the real-life friends I have who "get me" and while a few may read my blog they truly know I am so much more.

I have a few posts in draft that I hope to finish soon.  But, first I need to get back to living this crazy, wonderful life of mine!

Wordless Wednesday - Unaware

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Journey by David Whyte

The Journey

Above the mountains
the Geese turn into
the light again
Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.
Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens
so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.
Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that
small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.
You are not leaving
You are arriving.

-David Whyte

Sunday, April 10, 2011

If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda

It's still April, and it's still National Poetry Month, so here's another favorite of mine.


If You Forget Me


Pablo Neruda


I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Lydia's Disney on Ice Video Review


Look how she's grown! -- Lydia's review from last April

Review: Disney on Ice Princess Classics

Last night, we attended the Phoenix performance of Disney on Ice, Princess Classics. The show was full of princesses (of course!) and quite a bit of fun. During the first half of the show, we saw Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Mulan, Snow White and Belle. Pieces of each of their stories were enacted on the ice. My favorite was Ariel -- the costumes of the fish were amazing, and the skaters who performed Ariel and Prince Philip seemed the most athletic and daring!  I also really enjoyed the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White.

After intermission, we enjoyed Cinderella's story. I especially loved the wicked stepsisters. They were hilarious and their pratfalls on skates were definitely the work of pros!  While the princesses were the definite stars of the show, the secondary characters brought quite a bit of fun to each segment.

Another neat thing about this performance was the huge castle at the back of the stage.  They were able to twist the turrets and main building of the castle to create different sets and castles.  It was very unique and well done.

My children enjoyed the show.  Lydia (3yo) loved seeing her princess friends, but she also loved seeing the Beast and the witches.  Nate ( 8yo)  thought the sets were pretty neat and was very interested in how Aladdin's rug flew around the arena and the different props that were used.

The show will be here through the weekend, so you can still catch the princesses before they move on!  There may still be some discounted tickets left for these shows -- Friday, April 8th 7:30pm show; Saturday, April 9th 7:30pm show; and the Sunday, April 10th 1:30 and 5:30pm show (excluding Front Row and VIP seating).  Use the code MOM at Ticketmaster to purchase 4 tickets for $44, and additional tickets for $11.  Visit www.disneyonice.com to see all of the upcoming shows!

The show runs 2 hours and keeps the kids in the audience interested throughout the show.  Lydia was 2 when we first attended a show, and she enjoyed it very much!

*Disclosure: In exchange for sharing information about the show, my family received tickets for opening night, thanks to Feld Entertainment.  No additional compensation was provided, all opinions are my own.*

Sunrise by Charles Erskine Scott Wood

Another for National Poetry Month. The imagery in this poem is incredible.  Enjoy!

Sunrise 

by Charles Erskine Scott Wood

The lean coyote, prowler of the night,
Slips to his rocky fastnesses,
Jack-rabbits noiselessly shuttle among the sage-brush,
And from the castellated cliffs,
Rock-ravens launch their proud black sails upon the day.
The wild horses troop back to their pastures.

The poplar-trees watch beside the irrigation-ditches.
Orioles, whose nests sway in the cotton-wood trees by the ditch-side, begin to twitter.
All shy things, breathless, watch
The thin white skirts of dawn,
The dancer of the sky,
Who trips daintily down the mountain-side
Emptying her crystal chalice....
And a red-bird, dipped in sunrise, cracks from a poplar's top
His exultant whip above a silver world.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Tell Me Thursday - The Kid's Speech

This picture is of the spread in the April, 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids, written by me!  The article is about Nate, stuttering, and local support groups.  If you check the archives in May, there should be an online version of the article to read -- otherwise if you're local to metro Phoenix you can find an issue around town.

I was so pleased with the amazing job they did creating the spread.  The picture of Nate was taken by me, but they added the sidebar of other famous people who stuttered and additional pictures.  The article looked great, and I hope it helps local parents find the wonderful support group we attend through the National Stuttering Association

You will see more about stuttering and the NSA in the coming months as Nate and I are headed to the annual conference in Texas this summer.  We are very excited, and plan to do some fundraising to help us get there!  We have already received corporate sponsorship from a couple places, but we need to do more to meet the costs.  You will probably see more compensated posts on this blog (I've done 2 in the last couple weeks.) and I'll post about our fundraising efforts (Nate is planning to sell some original artwork.)   We are also open to additional corporate sponsorship to help us get there!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Review: GoalForIt.com

More and more of my life is moving into the cloud.  My life is planned on Google calendars, my documents are created with Google docs or Microsoft web apps, my bookmarks are saved with SpringPad, my files are scattered across multiple cloud servers for easy access from anyplace with an Internet connection.  And now, I can even create a chore chart for the kids on the fly with the website "Goal For It!"

The site is free to use, easy to navigate, and has plenty of choices to make custom chore charts, behavior charts, to do lists and goal plans. I had fun creating chore charts for each child, and then even created a couple goal charts for myself.  One of the goal charts allowed me to spell out the steps needed for the trip Nate & I are taking to Texas this summer, and outline the funds we need to raise.

The chore charts for the kids had a ton of graphical headers, and depending on the age range chosen I could choose chores/behaviors that was more pictures (brush teeth) or more text.  I can also customize the charts with my own chores that aren't listed (although there are plenty that are standard)

The thing that I liked best is that I can be on break at work and begin work on a chart, then finish it up from home, then work on it some more on the iPad.

And, did I mention it's all free?  Once I created our charts, I was able to print them out and hang them on the refrigerator.  I can also keep track of progress online through the site.  I plan to continue using this site!

*Disclosure: This is a compensated post. I learned about this site thanks to BSM Media. All opinions are my own!*

Review: Truth Be Told Movie

I've had the chance to get advance information in the past for movies that were produced by P&G and Wal-Mart (Secrets of the Mountain and The Jensen Project), so I was excited when approached by MomCentral to check out the latest family movie from these corporations -- Truth Be Told (airing April 16, 2011 on FOX at 8pm/7pm.  Facebook page)  This time, I didn't receive a trailer for the movie, but instead had the opportunity to view the entire movie before it airs on television. 

I watched the movie tonight, and was fortunate enough that my schedule allowed me to watch during the time frame that the lead actress (Candace Cameron Bure) was watching and chatting with the viewers.  I'll admit that when I read the promo and realized the movie was based on the lead characters telling a lie, I wasn't too sure that it was a movie that I would want to watch with my family.  After watching it by myself this evening, I can tell you that I don't have any problem watching it again as a family when it airs next week.

The lie told by the main character moves the story along, but the characters are worried about their lie and often try to come clean.  I don't want to spoil the story, but lessons were learned and I think the movie can bring up some wonderful family conversation about telling the truth and making choices that are full of integrity.  It also provides the opportunity to talk about choosing the easy route, and the pitfalls that can occur when that choice is made.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock by TS Eliot

April is Poetry Month, and I love poetry, so I thought I'd share some favorites. I've always liked this poem for the stanza that includes:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
but as I've grown older I find that I like the poem even more. I've never been one to dwell on my age, but lately I've been more aware of my age than ever before (and not always in a good way.) This poem seemed to speak to me this week. And, while I am solidly in love with one person, there are plenty of other things about which I wonder, "Do I dare?"

(I've added a jump break, since it's a long poem.)

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

   In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

Friday, April 01, 2011

March 2011 Reading List

This month, I've started a number of books that are still in progress, so my list looks woefully short.  I guess that's one problem with reading more than one book at a time (I usually have at least 2 going, usually 4 or 5.  I'm sitting on 4 at the moment I've started and am reading.)

Greater Inclination by Edith Wharton.  After remembering how much I don't care for Jane Austen last month, I picked this collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors from the same time period. I love the tragedy in most of her stories, but also the portrayal of the angst and turmoil of individuals living during that time.  I love her descriptions, and her style of writing.  (Checking with Amazon, I linked to the free Kindle version I read this month.  There is also a novel she wrote of the same name, but this is definitely a collection of short stories.)

The Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton.  Once I got started, I didn't want to leave her behind.  I had read this one before, but I liked coming back to it.  I think it is one of her best, and I love the ending (no spoilers, though!)

Ravenous: A Food Lover's Journey by Dayna Macy.  Interesting. She's an author, who decided to write a book about her year-long journey about finding out more about the food she craved -- including how it's made. It was interesting.  The oddest thing to me?  How it always seemed that she prepared and ate a completely different meal than what she prepared for her husband and 2 kids.  I"m not sure that was the point of her book at all, but that was one of the things that I came away with.

Murder a la Mode by G.A. McKevett was about a former detective, who has a chance to appear on a reality show.  It's one of those female-character-murder-mystery novels that I enjoy for the fun factor.  This one didn't disappoint.
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