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Monday, May 31, 2010

Menu Plan Monday ~ Preparing for a Vacation Edition

There is nothing I hate more than coming home from a long vacation to a house with no food. Even worse, a house with no food and no idea what we are eating for dinner! (I'm already going to have 50 loads of laundry to do .. I don't want to have to fit in a trip to the grocery store on the day we get back!)

So, I've planned ahead. I planned meals this week that I am going to make double batches of and freeze so that we will have some meals already prepared when we get back.

Monday ~ Beef stroganoff (using the last of the leftover roast from a couple of weeks ago)

Tuesday ~ Baked salisbury steak with tomatoes, green peppers and zucchini drizzled in fat free italian dressing. (Making a double batch of the steaks to freeze and eat with homemade mac and cheese when we get back.)

Wednesday ~ Jalapeno chicken enchiladas. We have had these several times over the past couple of weeks, but they are Rick's very favorite. I am making a double batch. The kids and I are leaving a day early for our vacation, so Rick will have leftovers to eat on Thursday night. The day that we get back from our cruise is Rick's 40th birthday! We are landing at 8:00 a.m. in Kansas City, Missouri, and driving the hour and a half to my parents. Rick's going to see the kids for a bit and then drive the four hours back to our house so he can go to work the next day. What a birthday huh? But, he'll have his enchiladas waiting for him when he gets back so all he has to do is heat them up. That's the best I can do for his birthday dinner.

Thursday ~ Rick leftover chicken enchiladas. The kids and I will eat at mom and dad's.

Friday ~ Rick will likely grab fast food on his way to Missouri. The kids and I will eat at mom and dad's.

Saturday and Sunday ~ It's vacation time, baby! And you can bet we'll be eating!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What Would You Do?

How would you react if you had a neighbor whose backyard was next to yours, who routinely had parties in their pool and talked about you (meanly) with their friends? Our one set of neighbors play loud music, talk loud and it travels up the hill where we can hear it very clearly. And they are very specifically talking about me and my kids ... saying they can't stand us, mocking us, making fun of and laughing at us.

Would you just ignore them? or say something?

We just ignore them. But, I was just wondering what you would do.

Allowance Basket

I had someone ask me about our new summer allowance system.

First of all, here's the reason for it. Several years ago Rick suggested that we give Kyndal and Dawson a certain amount of money every month with the expectation that they would do their part in our family. My list of things included making their beds, putting their dirty clothes down the laundry chute, picking up their rooms when asked, putting away their clean laundry, picking up their pajamas in the mornings, etc. And, with their allowance they were to be responsible for all their own entertainment, including movies, baseball games, etc.

We have done this system for at least five years.

For the most part the kids do what they are asked. But, they very rarely just do their daily picking up and it drives me crazy. I go upstairs and see the beds unmade so I make them (because I am WAY anal about beds being made.) I see their pjs on the floor so I put them away, I see their trash cans full so I dump them, I see their (well his) toilet unflushed so I flush it (gross!). There have been times I have made them pay me for doing it.

But, this summer, I decided to do things differently. My goal is not to pay them for doing their work, but to use payment to help formulate habits! It works with kindergarteners at school, surely it can work with teenagers.

So, starting on June 1st, we will be using the allowance basket. On a beautifully type-written list hung next to their bedroom doors will be the things they have to do in the mornings, before they come down for breakfast. It will be up to them to do those things, mark them off the list, and come tell me that they have done them.

(I'm thinking of putting these in a clear sleeve so they can cross it off with an Expo marker.)

Once they have done the chores and told me, I will give them a play dollar that has their initial on it and they can put it in the basket.

At the end of the month I will count the bills for each kid. I will pay Kyndal and Dawson $1 a bill and Eli and Brynne 25 cents a bill. The older two kids have a chance to make up to $31 a month depending on the number of days per month, and the younger two kids have a chance to make up to $7 a month.

If they don't do all things on the list, they don't get a bill. If they don't tell me they did it, they don't get a bill. If they aren't even here to do it, they don't get a bill. And when I see that it hasn't been done, I will then make them go do it anyway for no bill.

The goal is to get them to do these things without being told! The money is the incentive to make that happen.

Of course the little kids will think it's fun. They LOVE earning things! But, Kyndal told me she thought it was stupid because I would get tired of doing it. Ahhhh ..... but that's the beauty of it! I don't do anything, so there's nothing for me to get tired of! Really, it won't hit them until the end of the first month when they don't have any allowance. I suspect they will take it much more seriously in July.

I guess we'll see!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One Week Until Sail Time ~ Cruise Tips

In celebration of the fact that we will be sailing away in exactly one week (well, maybe we are the only ones celebrating), I thought I would give my tips for going on a cruise. This will be my 7th cruise since I was 18. Cruises are my vacation of choice because they are fairly inexpensive (with food included) and you can visit so many different places. I've been to The Bahamas (twice), San Juan, Martinique, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Barbados, Cozumel (twice), The Cayman Islands (twice), Jamaica, Key West, Bermuda and now we'll be hitting the Hawaiian Islands. There is no way I could have afforded, or fit in, all of these destinations had I gone to them one at a time.

Even though it's an exotic vacation, I still do my best to make it as frugal as possible. Here are some of my tips:

1. Get the cheapest room possible. We have had the nice balcony room, and in my opinion the cheapest inside (dark and cool) stateroom is the way to go. All you really do there is get ready, sleep and *ahem*. You aren't on a cruise to lounge in your stateroom.

2. Look at the layout of the cruise ship and choose your room. We always try to get one in the middle of the ship (to avoid seasickness), one that is near an elevator and one that doesn't have any busy place above it (like the casino or a dance club).

3. Buy the insurance. It's less than $100 a person and will protect you if a hurricane comes through and destroys your destination the week before, or will give you some relief should your luggage be "misplaced" or gives you refund options should you or one of your children get sick and preclude you from going on your vacation. Money well spent.

4. Book your own excursions. My experience with this came when we were in Cayman. We paid $80 per person to go swim with stingrays (an experience of a lifetime, I tell you!). The second we got off the ship to meet our tour guide, I saw the MANY signs for sting ray tours. They were $40 per person. Also, when we were in Cozumel, I booked Rick and the kids for a dolphin swim adventure. By doing it online, they participated for $89 each. When we got there we saw a family that was on our cruise. They paid $175 each for the excursion through the cruise ship. Yes, there are risks involved because the ship won't wait for you if you are late. But, just pay attention to the times you book things for and you'll be fine. We have never been "taken" and have always had plenty of time both ways. Are you worried that you don't know what's out there? Look at the excursions offered by your ship and then just google them for private companies. We are doing that this trip with a luau and zipline tour.

5. If you are driving to your cruise ship terminal, take a case of soda and a case of water. The cruise ship will allow you to bring those on. (Not so if you're flying to your terminal city).

6. Pack a small soft side cooler in your suitcase, and small and large ziplock bags. When you are going to be out on the island for the day, order FREE room service that morning (sandwiches, etc.) and pack them in the cooler. Then you have lunch when you are out and about, and it doesn't cost you the astronomical prices of the island food.

7. Pack a large insulated cup for each of you. Tea and water are free on the ship, so we pack a large insulated cup to fill with tea while we are at the pool. Our ice doesn't melt and there is no need to purchase the soda card.

8. Claim your pool chair before breakfast. We come up for breakfast, put some towels and a beach bag (and our insulated cups) on a chaise lounge and then go eat breakfast. If you don't, you won't have a chair.

9. Stay in your terminal city an extra day. Instead of booking your flight for the day you dock (which is EXTREMELY STRESSFUL when you have a flight to catch!), stay an extra night. Get a unique hotel room in that city and spend a day exploring that city! Extend your vacation! We did this in Baltimore when we went to Bermuda and we had just as much fun in Baltimore that day as we did in Bermuda. This time we are staying in Honolulu an extra night so we can take our time seeing Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head and attending a luau.

10. START TAKING DRAMAMINE THE DAY BEFORE YOU BOARD! To me, this is the most important tip. I have seen SO MANY people ABSOLUTELY GREEN the first morning of the cruise. I always take a dramamine the night before we leave for our cruise, and take it every four hours until at least the second day. It does make you extra tired, but I'm always tired the first night we board anyway because of all of the traveling to get there. Believe me, the extra sleepiness is worth not being so sick you can't eat or move!

These are just a few of the things we do every time to make our experience more enjoyable (especially to our pocketbook). If you have any other questions, let me know and I'll see if I have any advice to dish out.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Old Navy Bargains!!

Oh how I love, love, love Old Navy's 50% off all Clearance sale!!

I ran in today to pick Brynne up some clearance summer clothes. I got her six shirts, a pair of jeans and a pair of shoes.

Eli needed absolutely no summer clothes! But, they had winter things marked down so I got him four hoodies, three pair of jogging pants and a shirt. Oh, and he really wanted a new pair of swimming trunks. He did need a new pair. In fact, he has worn hand-me-downs for so many years that I don't know that he has ever had a brand new pair. They were on sale, but just not on clearance.

And I picked myself up a cute denim shoulder bag (that was a clearance item).

All this for $75.56!!

Very nice!

Rick Rocks ~ Because He Comes to My Rescue

I am sure it is assumed that if you are a stay-at-home-wife-and-mom that you have all the time in the world to do the things you want and need to do, especially if all of your kids are in school.

But, sometimes that couldn't be further from the truth.

I would miss many things if it weren't for Rick's willingness to adjust his schedule to help me out.

Just this week I needed to take Kyndal to get her driver's permit. In order to do that we had to go early in the morning so she could get back to school for finals. That meant that I wouldn't be home in time to get Eli ready for school or take him and I was babysitting my neighbor that day.

Rick to the rescue.

Then Dawson asked me if I would come and take him to lunch one day this week, since it's his last week of school. (I typically try to take each of the kids to lunch the last week.) But doing that would mean that I wouldn't be here to get Brynne ready for school or take her and I was babysitting my neighbor that day.

Rick to the rescue.

I've mentioned before how Rick was here so that I could be with Kyndal when she had her wreck. And, he'll go with me today to Brynne's Pre-K program. And he arranged his schedule one day to go read to Eli's class. He goes to work late, rearranges his lunch hour and stays at work late whenever I need his help so I can do something important to me.

Living in a town where I don't have any family, or many friends to help me out, having Rick come to my rescue during these times is invaluable. I would be just sick if I couldn't spend time with the kids doing the important things.

Rick Rocks ~ Because he comes to my rescue.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer Things To Do With Your Kids In The Tulsa Area

Summer break starts today! I can't believe another school year has come and gone!

I always look forward to the kids being home. We like to do lots of fun stuff. But, boredom can set in quickly if there's not a plan.

I typically have the same general plan for summer break, ways to keep us busy and having fun at the same time.

The Tulsa area has lots of things to do. These are the things we take advantage of:

Tulsa Zoo. We have a great zoo! It's just big enough to have plenty to do, but not so big that you are exhausted when you leave! We always buy a season family pass for $60. The great thing about it is that even if we just go, ride the train to the playground, have lunch and leave, we don't feel like we have wasted our money. Also, if it's a rainy day, we can just do the buildings. It gives us something to do on days that we can't swim. The zoo is only a 10 minute drive from our house.

Big Splash Waterpark. We also purchase summer passes to our local water park. Again, it's big enough to be fun, but small enough that we can all separate and I don't worry. There's something for everybody. If you buy your passes in September, the year before, you get the cheapest price. With an upgrade (for free tube rental all summer and some guest passes), I get five season passes for about $175. It's only a 15 minute drive.

The Library. Our library has a summer reading program where you can gain prizes (food, admission to local attractions) with the books you read (It's worth it just to get free childrens' admission to the Oklahoma Aquarium. That's an expensive day trip.) Then they also have little shows you can go to if you want (We'll definitely be attending the Cartoonist that is coming). This program is free, so we try to hit the library once a week. Plus, we can check out dvd's for free, too. You can also take advantage of reading programs at Barnes and Noble and at Border's by submitting the same books you read at the local library and receiving a coupon for a free book at each of those stores. Great deal!

Movie Theatre. Our local movie theatre has a summer program where they show eight different movies (Tuesday or Thursday at two different times) for $13. It's movies that are out on video, but it is a fun way to beat the heat or gives us something to do on a rainy day. We love this!

Kids Bowl Free Program. You can go here to find what bowling alleys are participating. Unfortunately, the Owasso alley does not (although they do their own program), but Andy B's in Tulsa does participate. So, you get two free games of bowling per week for each of your kids, only having to pay for the price of the shoe rental. If you have bowled lately, you know that two games times 4 kids plus shoes can cost you around $80 or more. Andy B's is across the street from Toys R Us. So if my kids earn their allowances with our new summer system, we can stop by there to spend their money. That will be a sweet treat!

Local Museums. Tulsa has a couple of great art museums (Philbrook and Gilcrease) and a new kids' museum called Kaleidoscope (that we haven't visited yet.) We try to go to these once a summer. They also usually have some kind of free art day each year.

We try to go to Big Splash once or twice a week, go to the library once a week, go to a movie once a week, maybe swim at a friends' once a week and fit in a trip to one of the museums or a park or the water splash pad park or the aquarium here and there.

Between all of that, a week or two at grandmas, church camp and a vacation, our summer goes by in a snap.

Boredom is typically busted, and we're all usually ready to get back to school.

Or at least I am.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I took my monkeys to the zoo ...

Go here to see more pics from our trip to the zoo this past Sunday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nicole's Daybook

Outside my window... it's sunny and steamy hot!

I am thinking... about how tired I am right now. It's 11:00 a.m. and I have already taken Kyndal to take her driver's permit test in a nearby town, come home to find a sick puppy, and taken the puppy (with Brynne and my neighbor) to the vet in a nearby town in the opposite direction.

I am thankful ... that Quincy only has a bacterial infection of some kind and is not more seriously ill. It's amazing how much we can love our pets in such a short period of time!

I am wearing... a black and white #12 t-shirt, long black sweat shorts and my black and silver tennis shoes.

I am remembering... that I now have a child who can drive ~ legally!

I am creating... the beginning packing lists for our vacation.

I am going... to chill for a few minutes, take Brynne to school, come back and pick up the house, go tan, take Dawson his Science book, pick Kyndal up from school and take her to the Tag Agency to get her permit license, stop by the store, come home and take care of my sick puppy, fix dinner and then CRASH to watch the finale of The Biggest Loser.

I am reading... Nothing for now, other than a magazine article here and there.

I am hoping... that I can hold it together today without getting so tired that I start to blow up at everybody all evening.

On my mind... is how badly I need a vacation!

From the learning rooms... the last two days of school for this year.

Noticing that ... my garden has lots of tomatoes and three green peppers, and how yummy my fresh container herbs taste in our food!

From the kitchen... we are really trying to stay on top of what we eat.

Around the house... are beds unmade and lots of little morning messes I need to get picked up.

One of my favorite things... is watering and nurturing my flowers and gardens.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Today is crazy, as you saw above! Tomorrow I am taking Dawson out of school for lunch (for the last day of school), then going to Brynne's end-of-the-school-year program. On Thursday Kyndal has an early morning ortho appointment and then I'm taking her to a friend's to babysit. Then it's home for the official first day of summer! The older kids are leaving for the weekend, so we'll just hang out with the little guys. I am so looking forward to a weekend with nothing to do!

From my picture journal.

Brynne on the tree swing her daddy made her. She loves it!

Get to know other special women at The Simple Woman's Daybook. (Not that I'm "special", but you get the point.)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Menu Plan Monday ~ 10 Days and Counting Edition

Our cruise is in 10 days! I can't believe it's almost here!!! When you book a cruise about nine months in advance, it feels like it will never arrive. But here it is!

Rick and I have been doing great on our attempt to get trim. We've both lost a little weight (him more than me, naturally), we're tanned (with a little help) and we're toned (he's been hitting the golf course hard and I've been running).

Now it's the home stretch so we need to really buckle down this last 10 days. Why you ask? So we can eat like crazy people for the entire length of our trip and not regret it later! Pay now, play later!

So, here's our menu for the next week ....

Monday ~ Salmon and veggies, homemade veggie/brown rice (fish sticks for the kids)

Tuesday ~ Spaghetti

Wednesday ~ FFY

Thursday ~ Asian chicken stir fry

Friday ~ Grilled paninis and Baked Lays

Saturday ~ Stuffed peppers

Sunday ~ Turkey hot dogs over the fire pit and fruit

Have a great week!

Balloon Flip Flops

In the summer we head to our local water park at least once a week. I always like to have a cute pair of flip flops for Brynne. But, her favorite multi-colored-match-anything-ribbon-flipflops are going to be too small for her this year.

And then I saw these at one of my favorite blogs, Or So She Says ...

You can go here to read the step-by-step instructions on how to make these. Honestly, they would cost about $2.00 to make, it will be an easy project and they are super cute!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Great Date ~ A Blast from the Past

Yesterday Rick and I went on date number 19 of 52. (This past week we also did a "usual date" of going to the tanning salon, Home Depot and then dinner, so that was 18/52).

Rick went to college at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Other than the college, Stillwater is probably most famous for it's Eskimo Joe's restaurants.

I think Rick has real-life dreams about Eskimo Joe's blackened chicken sandwich. So, we decided to make our date night this week a Stillwater road trip to Eskimo Joe's. It's a drive of about an hour and a half. But, we love car trips together because it gives us uninterrupted time to talk.

We talked, we ate (a lot), we shopped in the Eskimo Joe's store (and got t-shirts, new cups, socks, a hat, a coffee mug), we stopped at Panera for a chocolate cookie and coffee, and we drove back home.

Another great date!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Don't Know Who's More In Love With Him

... it might be Eli because he plays Wii with him and then plays "pretend" squash outside with him.

... it might be Rick because he plays along with his sense of humor.

... it might be Brynne because she is smitten with any teenage boy, and he pushes her in her swing.

... it certainly might be me because he is a sweet kid with a beautiful smile and he compliments my cooking.

Or ...

... it might be her, for so many reasons she can't even count them all.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Rick Rocks ~ Because He Helped Me Create This Child

Go here to read all about Eli's graduation from kindergarten.

What a special event for a special boy!

And without Rick, Eli wouldn't be the boy that he is.

Rick Rocks ~ Because he helped me create this child.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Student of the Quarter

Eli was chosen as one of his elementary school's Students of the Quarter this quarter!

Each class nominates three students from their class. He got to attend a pizza party yesterday with his principal. He was very excited because he really loves his principal!

We are so proud of Eli for all of his accomplishments this year!

I had his IEP yesterday and all of the teachers were teary as we were discussing how far he has come. I just can't believe he has done so well and everyone is so excited to see how he will do in 1st grade next year.

He is an exceptional boy.

Tonight is his graduation from kindergarten. I am packing lots of tissues. He showed me one of his songs on Tuesday night and I cried. I can't imagine how emotional I'll be tonight.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crusoe just ran a mile without stopping ...

and so did I.

"So?", you are thinking ... "I run two miles every day", or "I just finished my first 5K", or "I am training for a marathon."

But for me ... that one mile is huge!

I'm not a runner. In fact, when I see people running I wonder why in the world they do it because they look like they are miserable!

A month or so ago, while walking and being drug by Crusoe who wanted to run, I set out in a jog. After a short period of time I had to quit running and resume walking. But, he kept dragging so I started jogging again. Again, I had to quit after a short time.

Then I started hearing all about the benefits of interval walking/running. The big loop around our subdivision is 1.8 miles, and there are lots of stop signs. So, I started what I called "Street-to-Street Interval Running." I walked to the first stop sign, then ran to the next one, then walked to the next one, then ran to the next one, and so on.

One day last week I realized I wasn't really tired at the "walking" stop sign, so I kept running to the following one. I did that kind of thing for a day or two.

Then yesterday I kept going until I had run just under a half mile. And I really wasn't even winded. I stopped there because Crusoe had to poop.

So, while taking the kids to school, I measured how far a half mile was and decided that this morning I would run that half mile without walking.

You know what? I felt so good as I was approaching the half mile that I decided to just Go for it and turn around and run the half mile back to make it a full mile.

You all were my inspiration because I so badly wanted to be able to say today that I had just run a full mile.

In fact, with just about 50 feet left to go, Crusoe tried to stop to poop. I pulled him and told him "No way!" because I wanted a legitimate one mile.

Back when I started realizing that running was getting a tad easier, I started thinking about the possibility of running a 5K. I don't have lofty goals. My goal is to run one around my 40th birthday, and that's not until the end of next summer. But, that gives me a little over a year to work myself up to running our big block twice, which would be 3.6 miles.

This really is a big deal for me. When I was in high school all of the track coaches told me I had a runner's body. I wasn't very fast, so they wanted me to run long distance. But, Yuck!! I really wasn't into sweating. And, hello, it was the 80's ... my bangs would have never survived! And I had some shin problems, so it was actually painful. To be pushing 40 and realize a new love (well, that's a strong word ... maybe like) for running, makes me feel great. Plus the one place I really feel it is in my butt, which is my area I'd like to get firmed up (wouldn't we all?)

If you want to do something like this, you don't need a class or a personal trainer. Just start small. Run a little further than is comfortable for you each day. And, increase it as you can. If I can do this, anyone can, believe me!

Oh, and I plan to do this thing while looking like I am enjoying it (when really, that's a stretch!)

The difference between the unattainable and the attainable lies in a person's determination.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nicole's Daybook

Outside my window... after days and days and days of rain, the sun is finally shining (at least for a while!)

I am thinking... about my current and recurring frustration.

I am thankful ... to have the daily family life I have.

I am wearing... my gray sweats, Fitz's t-shirt, Nike's from my walk/run this morning.

I am remembering... the first little hummingbird that was at my new feeder last night. So exciting!!!

I am creating... nothing right now .. can you believe it .. nothing!

I am going... to clean the floors, the bathrooms and the upstairs today.

I am reading... I have decided to put Winter Garden down and save it for our flight to Hawaii. I have only read a couple chapters of it anyway.

I am hoping... that our little Chloe gets to feeling better today. She got spade yesterday, but also had to have a hernia repaired so she is very sore and shaky.

On my mind... is the stress of leaving the kids (and now dogs) while we got on vacation for 10 days.

From the learning rooms... only 6 more days until I have a sophomore, a homeschooled 8th grader, a first grader and a kindergartener. Wow!

Noticing that ... I have felt tired, cranky, overdone and distant for the past week or so. This is the "old" me that I don't like, but I don't know why I feel that way.

From the kitchen... things are back to normal with a regular meal plan and a stocked pantry, fridge and freezer. Meals are yummy this week.

Around the house... is lots to do.

One of my favorite things... is my morning walk (and now run) with Crusoe. I don't like to get up at 6 a.m. (and am looking forward to pushing that up to 7 a.m. this summer), but I always feel so much more energized when I do it.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Today is the first day in a looooong time that I don't have to be anywhere or do anything all day! So, I'm going to get the house cleaned and maybe mow this afternoon. Tomorrow I have an IEP meeting for Eli, but that's it. On Thursday Brynne has her Carnival Day at school, my mom is coming and our little Eli has his kindergarten graduation that night. Then on Friday I am hosting a pizza party for Eli's class, to reward them for performing the Great Expectations so well all year (I have witnessed them doing them with Eli and it has warmed my heart all year. Mrs. Sansone has done an outstanding job teaching her children, and they have done an outstanding job learning!) On Friday afternoon I have to take Kyndal to get her driver's permit **Gulp!** And this weekend? Nothing on the calendar! Yippee!! Maybe we can fit in a date night! ** hint, hint honey!**

From my picture journal.

My little piece of Heaven on Earth. I love, love, love my back porch!

Get to know other special women at The Simple Woman's Daybook. (Not that I'm "special", but you get the point.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Busy week this week, but cooking anyway!

Monday ~ Italian roast in the crockpot

Tuesday ~ French dip sandwiches with leftover roast

Wednesday ~ FFY

Thursday ~ Sub sandwiches before Eli's Kindergarten graduation

Friday ~ Taco salad

Saturday ~ Pizza bread

Sunday ~ Spaghetti

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Puppy Dogs

I don't know at what point puppies become dogs. But, ours are about 5 1/2 months old, seem to have hit the last of their growth spurt, have had all of their vaccinations and are now being taken one at a time to get spade/neutered. I'd call them dogs now. Although, I think we will always call them puppies.

Here's Crusoe. He is such an amazing dog and we love him to death! He is my morning walking/running partner and he is so in love with Dawson he can't hardly stand it. He truly thinks he is a 13 year old boy.

Weight: 23 pounds
Best Trait: Super smart!
Worst Trait: Sheds like crazy!

This is Quincy. He is definitely more poodle than chihuahua, with all that wild hair. He is so stinking cute and has one ear that sometimes stands straight up. He is very well behaved and is probably the most potty trained out of all three of the little puppies. He sleeps cuddled right up to me in bed at night.

Weight: 7 1/2 pounds
Best Trait: Is always by my side
Worst Trait: Is always by my side

Here is Buck .. or Buckster or Bucksterooni, as he is often called. The little kids seems to be most attached to him, probably because he is the most versatile in who he loves and the most laid back (until he sees Clifford, our cat). He also sleeps with Rick and I at night.

Weight: 7 pounds
Best Trait: Will let the little kids do absolutely anything with him
Worst Trait: Will not come when you call him

And then there is little Chloe. She is such a sweety, and is the tiniest of the three little puppies. She sleeps with Kyndal at night and seriously could make us millions at the dog races because she is faster than any greyhound I have ever seen.

Weight: 6 1/2 pounds
Best Trait: Cute as a button
Worst Trait: Will poop on any bedroom carpet as soon as she gets in there, even if she doesn't have to poop.

I can honestly say that we are very lucky to have gotten the dogs that we have. They are all so good and sweet! They are great with the kids, mind relatively well, are almost completely potty trained and are fun and cuddly. As much work as they are, I cannot imagine our lives without them. They certainly complete our family.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rick Rocks ~ Because He Has An Amazing Sense of Humor

Any sense of humor that our kids have, they totally get from Rick.

He is the funniest person I know and can make any situation, no matter how dreadful, full of laughter.

He has a saying, "You have to laugh or you'll cry!"

I tend to think I'm pretty witty, but he always takes my little jokes and magnifies them to the nth degree to make them so much funnier. I just laugh all the time!

And he can find a movie line or verse from a song to apply to any situation. We've been together so long that now I usually know what line he's going to use before he uses it. He's rubbing off on me.

In a life of difficulties .. and we all have them .. it certainly is nice to have someone around who finds the humor in most situations! It makes life so much more bearable, and even fun!

Rick Rocks ~ Because he has an amazing sense of humor!

** He also gets a bonus Rick Rocks award this week for the amazing job he did cleaning out our garage and setting up hanging racks for my garage sale. I would have just thrown something together (probably at the last minute). But, he spent a couple of nights this week fixing it up. I will look like a professional garage sale giver. I am so grateful! Thanks, babe!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Teacher Appreciation Week

Eli and Brynne have been blessed to have the greatest teachers this year! Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week. I always try to have the kids do something for their teacher every day of the week.

On Monday each of the kids took "My Teacher Rocks" cut out guitars (sent home by the school) to their teachers.

On Tuesday we made these. They said "You deserve a hand for being such a Great Teacher!" and Eli and Brynne's handprints were attached to hand lotion.

On Wednesday Brynne wore her homemade "I love my teachers" t-shirt. Eli grew out of his, so he just wore his teacher's favorite color (as the kids were asked to do).

On Thursday the kids wore crazy hats for "I'm Crazy about my teacher" and took their teachers' favorite drinks with a tag attached that said, "Thank you for quenching my thirst to learn."

On Friday the kids gave these to their teachers. The envelopes contained tokens to our local car wash.

Eli and Brynne love their teachers! It's been such a fabulous year!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May Baskets

Do you remember the days of May Baskets? Did you ever get one as a kid? I can remember neighbor kids getting them hung on their doors by their friends. But, I never got one. And I thought back then that I would definitely have my kids do May Day Baskets for their friends.

And I've yet to do it.

Until this year.

Victoria Magazine has this to say about the tradition of May Day and May Baskets:

"The tradition of May Day begins with a basket or container brimming with flowers and small gifts. The May Day basket is quietly and secretly placed on the doorstep of a neighbor or loved one, demonstrating the gift of giving without receiving. Children and adults alike can participate in the joy of the holiday by making a special basket for a friend."

Here are a few cute May Basket ideas I found:

My plan was to have my two little ones prepare traditional May Baskets and hang them on the doors of their neighborhood friends. We were going to deliver them the evening of April 30th. I was excited to have them hang the baskets, ring the doorbell and run back to the car before they were caught.

And then we had a crazy week and I realized the morning of April 30th that it actually was April 30th and we were leaving that afternoon to go to Missouri for the weekend. Gads. So, I threw them together and delivered them myself in the early afternoon.

So, the kids didn't get to join in on the fun .. but their friends got a fun surprise treat.

Here's how ours turned out. They were filled with candy bars, suckers and gum.

Next year I'll be more organized and actually do what the May Baskets were intended to do and teach my kids the simple gift of giving.