Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not for sale

We've come up with a new plan. Because our new budget has been working so well, it appears that we will be able to reach our goal by early spring. So instead of continuing to half-heartedly try to sell our house, we are taking the sign down. We'll continue to work on our financial goals and, unless something major comes up, we'll put new windows in the rest of the house in the spring and have a big garage sale. Then we'll list it again but whole-heartedly this time.

I like the idea of staying put for the winter and continuing to make improvements. I also like the idea of having another chance to get rid of the piles of stuff that have accumulated already.

It's good to have a plan. It's also good to be flexible with that plan. We'll see how this one goes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Preparing for Christmas

I guess the snow has gotten to me. Just a week ago, I was being a bah-humbug and not thinking about putting up a tree until the week before Christmas. The thought of rearranging toys and dragging things out of the garage seemed overwhelming. Then yesterday I started looking at the calendar. The week after Thanksgiving is very busy. The weekend after is packed. And it's all with holiday events!

I want to enjoy the holidays, not dread them. I want to take time to look at the decorations, not stress about putting them up.

So I decided to start preparing now.

Some toys were moved upstairs and some were moved to the basement. There is now an empty corner in our living room just waiting for a tree with sparkly lights. Aahhh. Won't that be lovely? Assuming, of course, that I can somehow convince Owen and Rachel to not touch and grab the ornaments.

I was imagining our walls decorated with the various holiday artwork when all of a sudden, I realized something . . . our living room walls have no nail holes! This had been a conscious decision after painting when we were preparing to sell. Bare walls help a buyer visiualize their stuff on the walls and you're not supposed to have family pictures up or, heaven forbid, a buyer might realize another family lives there.

At the time, I was prepared to do whatever was suggested to make it more appealing to a buyer. I'm over it now. Let the walls be filled with decorations! There is always spackling and touch-up paint, right?

I love Christmas. I love pulling out special decorations that I only see for a few weeks each year. I love the songs. I love hot chocolate. I love making plans to see family and friends. I love making Christmas lists. I wish I didn't love that part as much as I do but it's true. I'm still very much a kid on Christmas morning. I love to give presents but I also love to open presents.

I feel myself anticipating Christmas with enthusiasm and I think, "Welcome back, me!" And now it's time to deck the halls.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Has it really been a week already?

This vacation has been so delightful. I'd love to stay longer. But work and obligations are calling us home. So tomorrow morning we will start the journey home. Mapquest quoted our trip as taking 14 hours. We made it in 16 on the way down, including stops. Not too shabby. Tomorrow we are planning to go approximately 11 hours and I don't think that's counting stops. I'm hoping that's not too ambitious. It will be nice to have a shorter trip on Saturday and to have time at home to unwind and unpack and do some shopping.

But it could make for some really bad times tomorrow. I think I've done all I can do. I have snacks, water bottles, movies, toys, books, and blankies. I just hope for happy dispositions and some longer naps while riding in the car.

It's been great to have this time with family and knowing we'll get to see them next week makes it that much better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

We made it! The trip went really well, much better than I ever anticipated. Brendan and Tori are excellent travelers. We left Jackson around 4:30 on Friday and stopped for supper around Toledo, OH. We then took off again and didn't stop until 11:3o in Somerset, PA. During that entire time, Rachel and Owen fussed for maybe 15 minutes. There was never any hard crying, just occasional whining. It was so pleasant. Brendan and Tori were self-sufficient in the back of the van. They had their own activities, snacks and drinks. I bought these little snack cups for Owen and Rachel called "snack traps". They are awesome! I highly recommend them to anyone with a toddler. They're plastic cups with handles on each side and then a lid that is cut open so hands can reach in for snacks but snacks can't fall out. With persistent shaking, there will be a few that fall out but for the most part, the snacks stay in until little fingers pull them out. I could fill up the cups and pass them back and everyone was happy.

When we got to the hotel Friday night, we let them run around for a few minutes and then started getting ready for bed. Rachel and Owen had been sleeping for about 2 hours before we got there so they were a little wound up. We got everyone in bed and turned off the lights and then heard this:

Owen: "Heyyy."

Rachel: "Oohh."

Owen: "Nama odo min"

Rachel: "Taka cha do"

Owen: "Da so ku"

Rachel: "Maba oo"

Then silence. Owen jumps around in bed for a couple minutes. Then:

Owen: "Heyyy"

Rachel: silence

Owen starts clapping to "We Will Rock You".

We knew they had their own language but hadn't heard them so clear before. I think Owen was ready to party and wondered why we were all so lame and going to sleep.

Saturday we got up and got ready and then had breakfast and started off. We stopped for lunch and then headed off again. The day didn't go quite as well as Friday; I had to send more snacks back and pick more things off the floor for them but there was still no hard crying. There wasn't much sleeping, which was disappointing. At 4, we stopped to change diapers and use the bathrooms and then realized we only had about 2 1/2 hours to go so we decided to not stop for supper and to just eat when we got here. The last hour was the worst of the whole trip. Somehow she knew we were getting close. She had snacks, a drink, a movie, her blankie, and still wasn't happy. It wasn't hard crying or screaming so I am thankful for that.

The kids did so excellent with not needing to stop. Friday we traveled from 4:30 until 11:30 and only stopped once in between. Saturday we were on the road from 9:30 until 6:30 and only stopped twice in between. I'm hoping the trip back home goes just as well.

The condos are amazing. Josh, me and the kids have one to ourselves and my parents, Jenny, and Tony are staying in another one right next door. The decks connect so we can leave our sliding glass doors unlocked and come and go. The first level has laundry and a half bath. The 2nd level has the kitchen, dining room and living room. The next level has a jacuzzi tub and master bedroom with bath. The 4th level has a bedroom and bath and a loft that has another bed. We expected to have Rachel and Owen in our room for the week but it's worked out for them to be in the loft area and then Brendan and Tori get the other bedroom. Not counting basement space, this condo has more square footage than our house! Needless to say, it's a very comfortable place to stay for a week. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Heading out

We are leaving for North Carolina today. I have mixed feelings about this trip. We'll be staying in a lovely condo with loads of amenities, courtesy of my parents, so I'm excited about that. I'll be making meals with my mom and sister and sharing the burden of choosing what is for dinner and I know I'll love that. There will be lots of games and snacking and having fun with the kids, and I can't wait for that. My only hesitation is that it is an approximately 14 hour trip and I have two toddlers who will let us know in not subtle ways when they're done traveling.

I've tried to think of everything I possibly could to make it a more enjoyable trip for them (and for us). I have loads of snacks, new books, a couple new toys and some movies. We'll stop for the night after driving about 1/3 of the way tonight. We talked about driving straight thru but Josh wasn't sure he was up for that and we also didn't know how well everyone would sleep in the van. They don't have a good track record for that so far.

I'm already praying for patience and a good attitude. I think it will be tested during the next day and a half.

Of course, I'll be taking my laptop with me and there is an internet connection there (or so we've been told) so I'll let you know how the trip went!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My little man

My baby grew up today. I didn't realize how sad I would feel. Owen got his first real haircut. Not just a little trim in the back, but a full-fledged haircut. And he no longer looks like a baby. He looks like a little boy. Just like that.

Josh took him to the barbers and they did a good job. It's a very nice haircut.

But I miss his crazy curls. I'd always play with them when I was holding him. Now there is nothing there. I think it will be awhile before I let him get a haircut again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The guitar that caused so much angst

But will bring lots of joy! Choosing this was no picnic. I struggle with wanting quality items but not wanting to pay too much. It's also hard to know how much to invest in a hobby that right now you're not good at. I think I made a good decision though. I love the look of it and enjoy playing on it. The small red one is Brendan's. Isn't it cute? It's a mini strat. :) It fits him really well. He loves to mess around with the knobs and try different sounds. I have already had to tell him 20 times to turn it down. Can you imagine the next 10 years? I think we will need to finish off the room above the garage for him.

I have seen progress but it is coming slowly. I have read different tutorials on-line and it seems like this is normal. It is a slow start and it's hard to keep up the motivation to play when you sound so bad. I just have to push through and keep practicing. They also recommended listening to great guitar music so I bought Brad Paisley's new cd, Play. It's mostly an instrumental album with lots of great guitar music. It has been inspiring to listen to.