Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sweet Weekend

I am going to give you three clues to where our family is going this weekend. I could give you one sweet clue but you'd guess it too easily.

Here is the first:

"I Want to be Famous."

The second:

It will be my children's first concert.

And third:

Oh yeah. We are driving to Allentown, PA to see my son Kyle's favorite band. Big Time Rush! We bought him tickets for his birthday back in March. He looooooooves them. I can't wait for him see them in person.

Do you remember your first concert? Mine was Whitney Houston. Back before crack was whack. They had a parent tent so my dad let my friend Carrie and I go to the concert alone. Yikes! And he sat and waited for us all night. I bought a navy t-shirt that I kept for years and years until there were holes in it. I loved the whole concert experience.

Since then, I have seen most of my favorite artists. Some over and over again. But as I got older and more spoiled, I can't stand the nose bleeds and have to either get great tickets or stay at home. It has been more home than great seats lately.

Why couldn't he love U2? We could have visited Pittsburgh instead! But instead, we will pile into our car right after school on Friday. We will visit Hershey Park and have a sweet day at the amusement park on Saturday. And then it is off to the Allentown Fairgrounds on Sunday where Big Time Rush will be the headline act. I think I might be more excited than the they are right now. You never forget your first concert. You won't catch me in the parents tent. I will be rocking it out to BTR with my boys. Sweet!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Whatever Her Name Is

We looked from cage to cage searching for the perfect cat. I kept track of our top five. The room was hot and crowded. I needed some water and I was ready to go home. My kids on the other hand were on the search. I wasn't so sure I was ready to replace my dear Indy.

But the search continued until a fight erupted over the perfect cat choice. After a few threats of "We are going home without a cat unless you agree on one," they finally decided on our new sweet kitty. She is a year and a half old but seems so small and young.

She is so talky and friendly. She is getting used to our house that is much larger than the small room she shared with 6 other cats. Right now, she is only hanging out in our bedroom. But she is starting to sit in the open room. I can't wait until she is on my desk here driving me crazy when I type.

When she glides past me and meows, I sometimes miss my old cat. I still can't believe she is gone. I just buried her ashes on the day we brought this new little rascal home. I knew it was time. Time to say goodbye fully to my old cat and time to open my heart to a new little fur ball.

Thank you to the Cleveland APL for running your cat special this weekend. She was only $7 with all of her shots and spayed. It helped push me in the right direction. In time, I know this little cat will be a family member and my kids love her so much. Even Gracie our dog is adapting to her new friend better than I expected.

Welcome sweet no name kitty. I have read online that you are a tuxedo cat. Who knew that's what they are called? We will work hard to find a name for you. If we can ever agree on one.

This cat picture is of Socks, Chelsea Clinton's cat when she was in the White House. My toddler, Elle, must have hidden my camera. I haven't been able to find it since the first day of school photos. Ahhh. The life with a toddler. Our no name cat looks very similar to this cat but her hair is a little longer.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The One and Only Carnation Festival

When I drive home to Alliance, I see many rough looking houses. The people are struggling. Steel factories have shut down and there aren't the jobs to support the working class. It looks like a John Couger Mellencamp video. Many of the working class are now poor. The jobs are not there. So many hurting and struggling. Except for one week a year.

The Carnation Festival. Somehow, the small town comes together and puts on the most amazing hometown festival I have ever seen. There aren't rides for the kids. But, there is a boy scout booth where the kids play simple games to win old fashioned prizes like suckers and the mom-dreaded goldfish. In the background, you will see the Carnation Queen walking around greeting small girls who are giddy to meet a real queen and her court. Bands from the area play oldies for the brave to dance to and provide a fun atmosphere. And the most important part of the festival...the food.

The food is amazing. I am sure some of it is nostalgic for me. I eat the same menu each year. But the best part of it for me is that the prices are EXTREMELY LOW and all of the proceeds go to local service organizations in the city. Churches, Ulster Project, the high school class of 2012, Key Club, Kiwanis, Republican/Democrat clubs, etc. It blows my mind every year I am there. They have it down to a science. No one can sell anything that another vendor sells. All are non-profit. All of it delicious.

I can go to this festival and say yes to every request of my kids. That's how cheap it is. And I do. They play games, eat cotton candy, beg to win goldfish and ask to do it all over again.

Alliance struggles but they put together an amazing week of activities for the Carnation Festival. We'll be taking the family down there on Saturday evening. When you stand over the festival on your way down the hill, you feel a real sense of community. This isn't a suburb. It is a real small town struggling to make it in this new economy. If they can put together such a fantastic festival year after year, there is hope for Alliance. I know there is.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Just call me a rebel

I am going to do it. I am not sure what will happen but I am just going to try. I am a rebel. I am sending in a wooden ruler instead of a plastic one to school on Wednesday. I know it is crazy. Totally going off the deep end here. You thought you knew me.

A little old lady saw me at Walmart pulling out my hair while looking at the kids "Back to School" lists. She said "In the old days, we just bought a notebook, a folder and some pencils and sent the kids on their way." We talked about how specific the teachers are and the length of the lists. I think it is a bit ridiculous.

I wonder why it is so specific. Is it because today's parents aren't smart enough to decide what size crayon box to send? Is it because teachers want it to be easier so they can say "Take out your purple folder?" Is it because so many people don't follow directions when they say send in tissues that they have to add "family size" to the description.

I don't really care what the reasons are. I am just annoyed. I can't imagine how really, really busy parents holding down two jobs are getting organized. I have to run out tonight and somehow find the two folders I forgot to buy. It sounds easy but I am sure Target or Walmart will be a zoo. I also have to find a "simple" calculator and two bottles of "Purell" (only) sanitizer.

On Facebook, one of my friends asked where she could find some glitter crayons for her child's list. This is obviously a new teacher or one that does not have children. Glitter crayons. Really? Come on. And my older friends would tell me to stop complaining. Kids will soon need the really expensive scientific calculators or even computers. I know. I have it easy right now. But, when you have three kids under age 8 and you are trying to find items on the list, it feels a little like a scavenger hunt. The reward for this little game is a quiet day when they climb onto the bus on Wednesday. But just to maintain control over this list, I am going to send my pencils "pre-sharpened." The list specifically said unsharpened for one child and sharpened for the other. I bought them pre-sharpened. I am that much of a rebel. Hear me roar.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Give Me Some Sugar!

I am a sugar addict. I can eat an entire white cake in a day. And then drink a Coke. And then some more Coke.

When I decided to lose weight about two years ago, I knew that my love affair with sugar would have to end some day. But, with Weight Watchers, we could casually keep our affair in order. I used to use Splenda all day in my tea and then at night, I would have a Coke with a treat like M & M's. It worked for me and I lost over 60 lbs. doing this.

But then I wondered what would happen if I gave up Splenda. I wanted to really taste real food and get rid of the super sweet hot tea that was getting me through my day. I made the switch to real sugar to get rid of the super sweet Splenda. Calories weren't my issue. A teaspoon of sugar only has 15 calories. A bargain! But I wanted to decrease it over time. Sounds crazy but I measured down to 1/4 tsp. I was hoping that healthy foods would taste better to me. A grape or a strawberry would taste like a thrill! The jury is still out on this one. I love my sweets.

So I hit a milestone in my journey this week. I am now drinking tea with just a splash of milk. This is huge for me. When I worked, I used to put in THREE TEASPOONS in each cup!!!! Yikes! And to have it without sugar is absolutely astonishing to me.

Little changes over time can add up to huge changes in your diet (or your budget). You hear it all the time. Try it. You know how you see the ladies with their marathon stickers on their vans? That's how proud I am. I would love to put a sticker on my car. I just can't believe it. And while this isn't the most thrilling post you have ever read, it is for me. Yahoo!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Now Linkedin

Elle is two. So, my days as a SAHM (Stay-at-Home Mom) are probably numbered. There are braces to pay for, college in less than ten years and prom dresses to buy.

To be honest, I have checked the Sunday job section of the Plain Dealer since I resigned in 2002 to have Ryan. It started by being nosy. I knew everyone in my field at most universities. So, I wanted to stay up to date with who was where. And then it became dreaming. Dreaming of the old days where I got to eat lunch with other people that didn't need me to cut their food. And now I check the help wanted ads to make sure I am not missing a great part-time job.

I never expected to be a SAHM. If you would have bet me a million dollars in college, I would have bet you I'd work. But the reality of a newborn hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn't sleeping. I couldn't manage. I was not fuctionioning at all so working was just not possible for me. And my husband was at a law firm that required long, long hours. The decision was easy to make but hard to grasp when it actually happened.

So yesterday, I joined Linkedin. A friend asked me if I was diving in. It's more like I am dipping my toes in. Not ready to jump but just thinking about the future. I saw on a friend's refrigerator once a magnet that said "Days with children are long but the years are short." As we creep closer to the start of school, the days are really, REALLY long. It always causes me to start thinking about work and my future. I just hope I can hang on until August 17.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Houseflies: Unwanted Houseguests

I have killed about 30 flies in the last three days. At least. I am going crazy. I have no idea where they came from. But, I know where they are going.

I usually don't kill anything. I will escort a bee out the door or slip a spider in a cup and put her on the porch. And any insect outside of our house is safe. I don't let my kids kill anything. But houseflies are nasty and I can't stand to have them in my house.

So where are they coming from? I have no idea. The weather has been not so great and very hot. So, the kids have not been running in and out. There is no way that this many flies simply flew in. There has to be a source. And if you have seen maggots, you know that source is a nasty source.

I have looked around my window frames. Looked in my basement. Cleaned out my recycling bin and changed all of the garbage bags. There is only one thing to do. Keep my trusty flyswatter with me. And let the kids help.

So now that I have grossed you out, where can I look? Where are they coming from? They are unwelcome in my house and I will win this battle.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Light as a Feather

Life feels so much easier this week. Last week, I watched my sister's three kids so she could go on an anniversary cruise. They are great kids but it was a long week. I can barely keep up with my three so adding three was a lot of work. This week I feel so light and free. My house is a mess but I am less of a mess so I can deal with it.

As I wrote in my last post, we are trying to follow a budget and only spend a certain amount of money each month on groceries. There has been so much talk about coupons and how to get things for free. So, I spent the last week in between making many, many meals researching all of the coupons using sites. They are a gazillion out there. And so much passion.

I am not so passionate but I do love a bargain and the game. I am not ready to get all crazy but I am learning how to use a store coupon at Target and combine it with a coupon from the Sunday paper. I had no idea you could combine them and save big. I was floored! So, if you wanted to buy shampoo for three dollars and had a Target $1.00 coupon and a Dove $1.00 coupon, you could get it for a dollar. How cool is that? Or you could buy Suave like I always do for $1.00 and save yourself the hassle. That's what I am wresting with.

I would love to learn more about this coupon craze from a someone who really does it. Not someone that writes about it but someone that can talk to me about it. I don't want to create a closet of freebies like the ladies on the Extreme Couponing show. I just want to maximize my budget. Or maybe I will just go back to work, hire a cleaner and hopefully a great nanny who will do the grocery shopping for me.

I'm Not Talking About It, I'm Just Saying...