Monday, November 30, 2009

My Favorite Things - Part I

I was just thinking that each Monday until Christmas, I am going to showcase one of my favorite things.  For no other reason than this is my blog and I can do what I want.  It will be just like Oprah - without all the free cars and exotic trips. 
There is no way I can decide upon my absolute favorite things in the whole world, so these are just some random favorites, in no particular order.  My life doesn't ever seem to have any order anyway, so why start now.

On with the show.

These are my favorite socks.

Some might argue they are completey ugly and would never match anything.  I find quite the opposite to be true.  Because there are so many random colors involved, they match everything.  But, that is just a bonus to this pair of socks.  They are made by Smartwool.  They are a delicious treat for my feet.  They are made from wool, but not your ordinary itchy wool.  They use much smaller fibers when they make their products so they are some of the softest socks out there.  Plus, since they are wool, they offer all the benefits such as warmth, durability, breathability.  All the things I desire in a sock AND, they actually come in various sizes so they actually fit my feet right.  Plus, you can machine wash and dry them and they will not shrink. 

What's not to love?
I have the socks above, a pair of hiking socks, and a pair of ski socks.

Those are the ski socks.  See that black part that would be on the shin?  That is padded.  Right where the downhill ski boot always rubs you the wrong way.  Problem solved!

And, they aren't all sporty.

Those are pretty.

Various sizes, various cushion, various lengths.....running, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, sitting on your butt.  They make a sock for everyone.  They don't stop at socks either.  Hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, shirts, name it, Smartwool makes it...and they make it comfier.

And, well, maybe this will be a bit like Oprah because Smartwool has generously given me three pairs of socks to give away to you.

There they are!  I'd take them out of their packages for a better picture, but if I were going to win a pair (or three) of socks, it'd make me feel better if they came in a nice manufacturer sealed plastic bag.

And there you have it.  Here's the details:

  • Enter once per person by leaving a comment answering this question:  "What was your favorite dish this past Thanksgiving?"
  • One more entry for you if you have a blog and link to this giveaway, just leave another comment telling me you did that.  Or, if you don't have a blog, but tell a friend to enter the giveaway (and they do), leave a seperate comment telling me who you invited.
  • Last entry received noon on Friday, December 4th.
  • I'll use to choose one lucky winner.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My holiday

I have a lot to be thankful.  Enough to fill a year's worth of blog posts. And I'll get to that later.  We had a lovely trip to Iowa to celebrate with Rob's family.  But is my holiday. 

Yes, Black Friday is a holiday in my book.

I scanned the ads in Iowa (good thing since my paper delivery person faild to deliver me the most important paper of the year) and immediately knew that Toys R' Us (TRU) was where I needed to be.  They opened at midnight and when all was said and done, my plan was to walk out of there with 5 gifts for under $58 (but that would retail for $120). 

Since I needed 5 items, I enlisted the help of my Black Friday partner in crime and her trusty sidekick (a.k.a. my mom and dad).  I picked them up around 11:15 and when we strode into the TRU parking lot slightly before midnight, we were shocked to see the line was about 100 yards long.  Then as we neared the "end" we were even more surprised to find out it was closer to 300 yards long.

Now, I love a deal more than most, but even I was not willing to stand in that nonsense for something I could just pay a bit more for any other day of the week.  I wasn't looking for ZhuZhu pets or XBox's or anything like that.  A rocking horse, light saber, movie, and medic kit topped my list.  Hardly "hot" items. 

My partner in crime had a backup plan though.  We would drive to the next closest TRU and by the time we got there, the line would be gone and we'd waltz in and find our treasures and go home triumphant.  However, upon arrival at the next TRU, we were further dejected when we were told this line wrapped around the building and ended 3 cities over.

We went home cursing Black Friday.  I set my alarm for 5am in hopes of snagging an online deal at Walmart and went to bed dreaming of the deals I left in the store. 

But, as the alarm roused me at 5am, things were looking up.  It was an alarm of good things to come.  I refreshed the computer screen where I left it and immediately snagged a present for Austin at 60% off.  Once the kids and Rob hit the gym, I hit the road and made my way back to TRU.  Confident the front of the store would be void of patrons, I parked the car and marched into the store stopping only once to ask for directions to the toys I was seeking.  I'm fairly certain is was this girl's first day except for her nametag told me a different story with 3 years of service stars.  She was useless and I was on my own.  I did manage to find one of the toys I was seeking.  A rocking horse, but I also found out why there were so many left.  Kind of a crappy little thing put together by someone with the dedication I witnessed from my first employee encounter.  Nothing else was left.

Saddened, but determined to find a deal, I went across the street to Target.  They never let me down.  And, if nothing else, Austin literally had no socks left because they get holes faster than I can buy them.  I was still armed with the one TRU ad I had swiped from Iowa.  Technically, Target is not suppose to price match doorbuster deals, but I thought I'd give it a shot.  I found every single toy I had been looking for and walked up to the service desk with my TRU ad in hand.  5 minutes later, I walked out with every single toy I wanted at over 50% off.

This is my holiday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Funny sayings

This is going to be a very brief update.  But, tonight a couple things were uttered that, as a parent, you just want to remember.  This is the closest thing I have to a journal, so this is where I am going to record them.

My kids say a lot of cute and clever things.  I don't think I'm being a biased mother either;  I really do think they are clever.  Or, if not clever, at least entertaining.

Tonight we were all sitting around enjoying some dinner and we were talking about Rob's day and somehow got on the subject of "doing what we're good at".  Rob asked each of the kids "What about you?  What are going to do for a job?  What are you really good at?"  Austin thought about for a second and replied "I'm good at eating pizza!.....I'm really good at eating pizza with a fork!"  We like this idea.  We're going to work on how to capitalize on this notion.  Between Austin and Rob, I'm seeing dollar signs.

Story #2
During our normal post dinner capers, we were pretending to be various animals in the family room.  Austin walked in claiming he had "light brown fur, black eyes, and claws".  My guess was the obvious - Grizzly Bear.  Wrong.  He described himself again, exactly as he had before.  I guessed Grizzly Bear again.  Wrong again.  Then he told me he was a Meerkat.  And because Ellie likes to copy Austin most of the time she walked up shortly thereafter and said "Mom....I'm a Meerkat.  Meeeeoooow."

I'm telling ya....clever kids.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Star Wars Resurrected

It's no secret.  I'm not a very big fan of Star Wars.  Actually, I'm not a fan at all.  I didn't even see my first Star Wars movie until this past summer when we watched it outside.  I didn't walk away a convert either.

Still, I try to play Star Wars with Austin.  We check out the library books, I read him stories about Defeating (or maybe it's Defending) the Sith.  When the girls are sleeping, we have fights with our lightsabers and we blow up imaginery battle droids.  Those girls have no idea what kind of impending doom we are saving them from most afternoons.  It's not pretty.

What I'm trying to say is, despite not knowing anything about the Star Wars saga, I can hold my own with my 4 year old.  That is, I could.  Things have changed.  When Rob went hunting in West Bend a couple weekends ago, he returned with a box full of goodies.  Last night, Rob went through the giant box and carried in a smaller box full of acceptable toys for Austin.  It was a collection of Star Wars characters and ships. 

Some in better shape than others.

Austin asked Rob "Were you a little hard on these?" and Rob replied, "Yeah, maybe a little, but maybe it was Uncle Dave".  Austin said "Yeah, he's a little wrecker."

With this box of fresh "new" toys, comes a whole new learning curve for me.  I mean, I was just starting to learn what a Super Battle Droid was, and now I need to deal with things like this:

Or this:


As you can imagine, Austin is in heaven.  When he woke up this morning, at 6am, Rob offered him a chance to lay in our bed and watch The Grinch.  Something that is rarely, maybe never, turned down.  Austin had another idea though.  In his sleep induced growl, he said something about going downstairs to play with his Star Wars toys.  He's been at it for 2 hours now.  He asked me to join in, but I promptly was scolded for having two characters fight that are not, in fact, enemies.

I could have sworn he muttered, under his breath, "Much to learn, you still have."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why sometimes it's better to just stay out of it

I was trying to come up with something fun for the kids to do today.  It seems like it's been awhile since we have done something out of the ordinary.  While I was busy thinking, Austin started searching for one of Ellie's toys.  He thought it might be under the couch cushions (a very good possibility).  Over an hour later, I had to extract my children from the couch to get Austin to school on time.  And, again after lunch, in order for Austin to take a nap, I had to promise him that I would not touch the couch and put it back together.  These kids have played on the couch all day...NICELY.  I am willing (almost) to dismantle every piece of furniture I have if they agree to play like they have been today.

At first, it was a nest of some sort.

It turned into a slide.

A place for pretend naps.

A race track for cars.

And...well, I don't know what was going on here.

I do know a few things:
1)  I'm happy I regularly vacuum under our couch cushions
2)  Ellie really enjoys "Crazy Hair Day"
3)  My idea would not have been nearly as fun as what they came up with on their own.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My helper....I think

With 30 minutes to spare before preschool today, I decided to vacuum. Thirty minutes is kind of pushing it if I really want to vacuum the house completely and not cut any corners.  But, I love a good challenge and the house really needed it, so I rolled up my sleeves and addressed my slaves children.  I explained the game plan and that their job was to clean up the family room floor while I tackled the kitchen.  Ellie loves nothing more than to sing our clean up song, so she got right down to business....singing.  She was too busy dancing around to actually do much the of picking up I requested.  Austin, on the other hand, scuried around picking up everything in site.  I think he is convinced the vacuum will suck up every toy left on the floor.  I have no idea how he would conjure up such an idea (what?  Me?)

Once the family room was complete and Riley was already busy tearing every book off the shelf (again), I  set to work on the stairs and sent Austin upstairs to clean his room.  After ten minutes, Austin met me on the staircase and announced his room was ready for me and the "toy destroyer".

He did exactly as I asked.

Well, sort of.

This is Austin's version of cleaning.  He takes everything off the floor and piles it onto his bed/couch/counter...whatever room we happen to be working on.

Now I need to come up with some sort of "cleaning monster" who eats toys piled on beds.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oil and water

Some things were made for each other.  Peanut butter and Jelly, lock and key, chocolate and me.

However, there are just as many combinations that aren't so great.  Tires and nails, oil and water.....oh, and juice, blueberrry muffin, and Ellie's hair.

Good thing she's cute.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I've been duped.

The kids had another secret meeting last night.  They are getting very tricky with their plans.  They are incorporating Riley.

Riley.  In all her baby cuteness.

Here's how it went down.

This morning Austin and I were discussing the days agenda, as usual.  He suggested, in his common cryptic way, that we should go someplace that has Lightning McQueen, has a lot of red, and has doors that open by themselves.  Since I've been trying to do most of my Target runs while he is in preschool, the poor boy is going through withdrawl.  And, because I'm an enabler, off to Target we went.

We followed our routine path through the store to arrive at the Toy department.  I don't mind hitting up the toy department on every single trip.  They enjoy it, it's a good time waster if I need it, and they never throw any sort of tantrums over not walking away with a treasure.  In fact, they never even ask.  Austin just drools over the latest and greatest thing he wants and then puts it back and says "I'll ask Santa for this".  Today, he found the illusive "beeping R2D2 that Jake has!" and when he was done looking at it, he hid it so no one else could buy it.  I swear, I did not teach him this technique. 

We continued on our path weaving through the aisle and the next thing I know, Riley, sitting in the cart seat, has a stuffed dog.  She not only has this super soft stuffed animal, she has practically fallen asleep on it.  When I asked her where she got the puppy, she popped up, strangled it in a hug, and said "Thank you!"

That's the moment I turned the cart around to retrieve R2D2 from his hiding place, and then lead Ellie down an appropriate aisle to pick out her toy.  It was only fair.  I was only rewarding polite behavior.  It's my job, as a parent, to use positive reinforcement.

Where is this adorable puppy now?

It was promptly forgotten on the floor within 5 minutes of arriving home.  These secret meetings have got to stop.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do you hear that?

Shhhhhh!  Listen.  Is that angels singing?

No, it's just Austin practicing his preschool Christmas songs.

He has told me they are secret.  My lips are sealed (but my fingers can't help themselves).

This next one is suppose to be "Away in the Manger" but instead it reminds me a little bit of:

This is the song that never ends,
yes it goes on and on my friends,
some people - started singing it not knowing what it was,
and they'll continue singing it but only just because...

He did finally get on with it once I helped him along. This might be a long Christmas program!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rub a dub dub...

Three kids in the tub.  That's how we're working it now.  It's like an assembly line during bathtime. 

Shampoo, shampoo, shampoo.  Scrub, scrub, scrub.

Then they think of some crazy game to play for the remainder of their bathtime. 

It always involves both Austin and Ellie holding their breath underwater for as long as possible.  I think Ellie is up to "8 Banana" on the last count.  Not bad.  Riley just giggles and puts her face in the water to blow bubbles.  But, if the tub rituals follow the rest of the trends in this house, it won't be long before she is also diving under the water. 

I'd like to note that the bath water above is not, in fact,'s soapy.  I swear.

After Riley gets out, the older two get about another foot of water and play in there for as long as I let them.  That amount of time all depends on how much laundry I have to fold.  It's a very scientific calculation.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Did you miss me?

Well, my whirlwind trip to Indiana and back is complete!  It took us 10 hours to drive down there on Friday and 11 hours to drive back on Sunday.  I have learned that after 5 hours in a car, I get a little bit delirious.  I did not bring my camera with me, but I'm fairly certain Kerry has proof on her camera that I should not travel in a car longer than 4 hours.

The trip was a success.  The wedding was nice, the food was delicious, and the company was fantastic!

I'm positive Rob missed me since he called a couple times "just to have adult contact", but I'm not sure the kids had time to miss me.  It's hard to miss mom when you're having pizza parties!

There is one area of our house, that I noticed this morning missed me terribly.  I can't say the feeling is mutual.

And, deep down, I know the kids did misse me.  And, missing me is hard work.  Just ask Ellie, when she wakes up.  She crashed on the couch this afternoon after lunch.  This is very unusual behavior from the girl who typically urges me to let her stay awake with Austin when nap time arrives.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I can't keep up

Austin has always been a child who learns best when you use a story to teach him.  He listens so intently to stories that after only one time through, he has the majority of the story memorized.  For example, he has a Star Wars book of Droids that I picked up at a garage sale once for $0.25.  I bought it so that the kids would be entertained in the car while I hit up the next sale.  When we got home, I read that book to him, doing my best to pronounce all the obscure droid names, and later that night he was telling me the names of the droids on his own.

Now he is in preschool and everyday they have a bible story.  Like all stories, Austin listens intently and takes in every word.

The other day I was exiting the bathroom after taking a shower.  I had on my robe.  My robe is old.  It's from college, it's old, and it's navy, and it's old.  I wear it, at most, 3 steps from the bathroom, to my closet.  In those three steps Austin caught me.

A:  "Mom, your robe is boring."
M:  "Yes Austin, it's old."
A:  "Yep.  It's certainly not as coloful as Joseph's!"

And then he disappeared leaving me to wonder who Joseph was and why my son has seen this man in a robe.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just call me Sherlock!

I've cracked the case.  The case of the sleepless child.

Here is Ellie right when she wakes up from her nap (I know, the nice mom that I am, bombards her with a camera right away...she was not pleased):

Innocent enough, right?  Only, this dear child has been skimping on her sleep more than usual.  My kids always seem to skimp on sleep, it's just how they roll.  I like to think that it is because I am so unbelievably fun that they cannot wait to hang out with me. (There will be no comments allowed for this portion of the post). 

I did a little investigating though.  I stripped her of her covers:

Still, doesn't look like she's hiding anything.  Or does it?

Aha!  Once you remove that innocent little girl and her innocent little blankets, things aren't so innocent.  She scampers around up in her room after I shut the door and finds almost every little toy she has and puts it into bed with her.

I'm sure this has a tiny bit to do with her early waking.  I don't know about you, bu I know I always have trouble sleeping on my binoculars and toy horse. 

I will just keep telling myself it is because I'm unbelievably fun.  My early mornings are a little bit brighter when I think that way.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Costumes and Chaos!

We had trouble keeping up this weekend!  The kids went to a great Halloween party on Saturday morning.  It was a little bit crazy with over 11 kids, the oldest of which was probably 5.  Ellie and Austin spent their time running from craft to craft and game to game.  Riley spent her time wandering around aimlessly trying to find her parents in the forest of legs. 

"Are you my mom?" - Riley

We did get this great picture of the family though.

Or, well, as great as it gets when you have 3 kids in costume that you want to look at the camera.

I took the girls home around 1pm for naps and Austin and Rob remained at the party.  When the Hawkeyes were done playing, Rob came home and left Austin there.  Around 3:30 I went back to finally retrieve Austin.  He had been at our neighbors house for over 5 hours!  It wasn't long before the kids were all in costume again and heading back over to our neighbors for dinner.  Then out the door to trick or treat. 

Riley and I hung back and handed out candy.  It dawned on me that I'm not sure I've ever had the chance to just hang out with Riley.  She's a pretty fun and funny little girl.  Also, a very cute Eeyore.

Austin LOVED his grizzly bear costume (made by my mom!) and Ellie sparkled as the Princess she was born to be.

Now we are drowning in candy.  I'm not complaining yet, but when we run out of chocolate, I might.