Friday, April 29, 2011

Early Bird

That's's 3:33 AM and I am AWAKE.  In fact, I'm already settled in on the couch with a fresh cup of coffee and a serving of The Pioneer Woman's Baked French Toast is warming in the oven.  Yup, I'm one of the crazies who has risen at this unholy hour to watch the Royal Wedding!!

At first, I thought it was royally stupid to even consider getting out of my comfy bed at such a time just to watch the wedding, but then I thought about some very real possibilities here.  If I got up at 3:00 AM, I realized I would have at least 3 solid hours of time to be all by myself, in the quiet, enjoying my coffee and delightfully fattening breakfast.....before anyone else woke up!  Including my kids!

The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. 

Plus, there's the added bonus of watching Kate Middleton star as the bride in the most monumental wedding of our generation.  It's not just a wedding for Britain, but a national event.  As far as I'm concerned, it's a fairy tale come true.  She gets to arrive a commoner, but will leave a princess.  It's every little girl's fantasy come true!

Sorry if I have typos this morning.  It's bloody early. 

Now if you'll excuse me.....I see yet another fabulous hat!!! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - April Week Three

Hello and welcome to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2011 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family.  Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their projects over at The Mom Creative!

Sunday, April 17th - One of our priorities at rehearsal today was to find costumes for everyone in our cast.  We're really close to being ready to go on this show!

Monday, April 18th - Introducing Lainee Corinne, born April 14th.  The second daughter of my husband's best friend, this darling girl looks just like her big sister.  I got to have some serious snuggle time with her today and it was awesome.

Tuesday, April 19th - A freak April snowstorm left my poor tulips covered in snow and ice.  The snow came down all day long and it was cold!  The return of winter was far from welcome.

Wednesday, April 20th - Taking advantage of my time at home by myself, I made my not so triumphant return to scrapbooking!  Unfortunately, I had to quit before I had completed the layout because my hands just started to hurt too much.  My RA has been flaring up more frequently lately, so it wasn't much of a surprise. 

Thursday, April 21st - My view from the tech booth during my show.  I have to call all the tech cues, so I spend the duration of every show with a headset on my ear and a Mac glowing in my face. 

Friday, April 22nd - One of my favorite scenes in this play is when Ronnie starts to realize how good Shakespeare is at writing insults.  Josiah (the actor) really gets into it and has a great time playing this part!

Saturday, April 23rd - After eight days of being apart, I was thrilled to see my baby again!! 

It was a strange week of living by myself without my hubby or my kids, but we made it!  Just one more week of craziness with the play before things finally calm down a bit.  Have a wonderful week!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The View from Shanghai

After a fair bit of nagging encouraging, Evan finally got me some photos of his current business trip to China.  Sometimes he forgets that I'm really interested in seeing what he's up to on an ordinary day over there, since even that is so much different than what I'm used to seeing and experiencing here.  So, here we go!  (Captions are all Evan's)

 The first two pictures are of Shanghai at night.  This is when I was leaving Zapata’s (restaurant where apparantly the servers have no idea what the heck they're doing) that night.  The second picture is of Zapata’s. 

 The third and fourth pictures are the view out of my hotel window.  There are many skyscrapers and hotels.  It is in the downtown Shanghai area. 

 This picture is of the elephant statues in front of the second hotel we stayed at in the suburbs of Shanghai.  I thought it looked pretty cool.

 These pictures are of a real elephant tusk in the lobby of the hotel.  In the second picture you can see it has monkeys, elephants and other animals carved into the tusk.  Very cool, but very illegal to have in the States. 

(I'm guessing that isn't the gift he's bringing me back this time.)

These two are pictures from my 2nd hotel room window in Shanghai. Not exactly as nice as the one downtown (the view, the room itself was a little nicer). You can see in the last picture all of the apartment buildings. They build them everywhere.

There are just so many people there. It’s insane. Real houses are insanely expensive here. Last night Nathan told me that a house on the lake in Hangzhou (the city Nixon visited) costs about 8,000 RMB (about $1200) per SQUARE METER. To give you perspective, that’s about 40 times more expensive than our house (would make our house worth $5.797 million). But you have to realize owning property on the lake in Hangzhou is like owning a house overlooking Central Park in New York City.

Isn't is crazy how different these two "worlds" can be?  The best news of all today is that Evan is currently on a plane heading back home!!  After 12 days without my man and 7 days without my kids, I'm so anxious to get my family back together!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Winter Returns

This was the scene out my porch door as I sipped my coffee yesterday morning.  Egads, those are snowflakes.  Huge, wet, demonic snowflakes falling from the sky.... the middle of April!

My poor tulips and daffodils wound up blanketed in snow and ice. 

And the bloody stuff didn't melt!  I could understand a freak mid-April snowstorm, but one doesn't expect it to not melt once it hits the ground.  Instead, we wound up with fresh snow cover that stuck around all day.

Later, my sidewalk and driveway ended up polka dotted with sleet.  Then it started to hail and thunder.

I had to drive 45 mph on the way home.  We're less than two weeks from flipping the calendar to May, but we're smack dab back in the middle of winter.  So ready for spring to arrive for real!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - April Week Two

Hello and welcome to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2011 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family.  Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their projects over at The Mom Creative!

Sunday, April 10th - A nasty line of storms moved through our state tonight and this was the view of our sky off to the west as the storm loomed toward us.

Monday, April 11th - I brought the boys with me to rehearsal today, but it was unexpectedly cancelled so I took them to a nearby park to blow off some steam before supper.  Micah got a tad bit stuck and was hollering, "Help! Help!"  I had to take a photo before I rescued him, of course.

Tuesday, April 12th - Isaiah picked out these Spiderman sunglasses on Monday and he hasn't wanted to be without them ever since.  We had a beautiful day to play outside this afternoon, so he made good use of them!

Wednesday, April 13th - Today was simply GORGEOUS!  Sunny, warm, and perfect for a quick visit to the park after school.  I love the happy look on Micah's face as he looks at his big brother.  These boys are such buddies.

Thursday, April 14th - Thanks to an idea from Jessica at The Mom Creative, we've been pulling one ring off this paper chain every day all week as a way for Isaiah to count down to his visit to Grandma's house.  Today he is telling me we are "one day closer!"  Only one more ring to go until it's time to visit Grandma!

Friday, April 15th - My first night all by myself this week, no husband and no kids.  Just me, the second season of True Blood and freshly printed photos to place in my Project Life album.  I ended up staying up way too late, but it was a nice evening.

Saturday, April 16th - Meanwhile, my kids were having a ball playing with their grandparents and aunt.  Here, Isaiah is beaming with glee inside a bouncy house and it looks to me like Grandma is having a good time too.

Enjoy your week and thanks for checking out my Project Life photos this week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lainee Love

Guess who I got to meet today??

This little princess is Lainee Corinne, the second born daughter of my hubby's best friend, Joe.

She was born on Thursday and I had the opportunity to be the first in my family to meet her.  With Evan in China and the boys visiting Grandma, I got some one-on-one snuggle time with the little peanut.  She has that new baby smell.  I love that smell!

Lainee looks just like her big sister.  I mean, exactly!  They have the same nose, same chin, same everything.  Both girls look just like their Mommy!  In fact, it got me thinking back to when little Ali entered our lives in 2008.

Help me, Rhonda.  Taken in January of 2008, that's newborn Ali (now the big sister!) and 2 month old Isaiah.

And here the little buggars are at Christmas last year.  Of course, by this point, we had added Micah and Kole to our little brood!  It's crazy to think that at our next "Fat Man's Thanksgiving" celebration, there will be SIX kids!

Isn't growing up crazy? 

Anyway, welcome to the world Lainee!

What a Crappy Dream!

If you're any good at dream interpretation, I really could use your help on this one.  I had a very vivid dream on Thursday night that I just can't seem to get out of my head (or hair)!  I promise, that little quip will be much funnier in a minute.

I didn't even remember this dream until I was driving the boys to their grandparents' house on Friday morning and I passed by a farm next to the freeway.  Suddenly, a rush of images streamed into my head and I could remember every single detail of this dream.

I'm at my grandmother's farm with my kids.  We walk over to the barn, the gravel crunching under our feet with every step.  As we approach the barn, one of the many farm cats skitters across the entrance.  Crossing the threshold into the barn, the familiar smells flood my nose and we can see cows lined up all the way down the center aisle.  Suddenly, Isaiah drops something.  I bend over to pick it up for him and......

.....a cow poops on my head

I can feel it running down my neck, my back, sticking in my hair.  The smell of the manure overwhelms my senses and my whole body seizes up in horror.


So apart from that I probably might want to avoid a visit to the barn on Easter Sunday, what on earth could this dream mean?  A rather clever young man at work suggested that it must mean that "I've got some good shit coming my way." 

I liked that idea!  If nothing else, I certainly got a good laugh out of it.

(Cow image from here:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Regular Einstein

I'm feeling pretty intelligent today.  If I get called to substitute for a Math teacher, I am usually prepared to put on my smiley face as I politely explain that I was an English & Theater major and that math is really not my strong point. 

Translation:  I have no idea how to help you, kid.

Today was a lighthouse in my sea of math despair.  I realized in the first couple minutes of teaching IM2 (I think it stands for "Integrated Mathematics," but don't quote me), I had a light bulb flip on above my head when I started class.  I actually knew what they were doing!!  Imagine my delight as I remembered how to multiply out factors into standard form of a quadratic equation!

*cricket chirp*

Oh crap.  Something tells me I just screwed up the explanation of the very concept that I claimed to understand.  Allow me to demonstrate:

(x+3)(x+6) = x2 (squared) + 9x + 18

Yes, I realize this is pretty basic stuff, but you have to remember the fact that I consider myself a bit of a math dunce.  I had to work like a dog in high school to get good grades in math in high school and I only survived AP Calculus by spending three hours on the phone with Evan every night.  It's so not my thing.  After I tested out of math entering college, I forgot pretty much everything.  So to be able to actually stand in front of the class and offer help to the students was priceless to me today.

Of course, when a particularly bright kid who was already finished with the assignment that the rest of her class was still working on asked me a question about their assignment for Monday, I read the question carefully and replied:

All I hear when I read that is "Greek Greek Latin Latin Blah Blah Blah."  I'd ask your teacher tomorrow, if I were you.

I love being helpful. 

Albert Einstein, signing off.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - April Week One

Hello and welcome to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2011 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family.  Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their projects over at The Mom Creative!

Sunday, April 3rd - Right before we went to bed tonight, a storm system moved through and brought a deluge of hail down on our house.  We only ended up with dime sized hail, which was nothing like the tennis ball size stuff Madison got hit with!

Monday, April 4th - I got to go out to eat at one of my favorite breakfast spots before a very full day of running errands.  The Triple Berry Crepes at the Pancake Cafe make me very, very happy.  I couldn't even resist taking a couple bites before I took a photo!

Tuesday, April 5th - I was floored when I saw this photo Evan took of Micah.  My baby was suddenly gone and there was this little boy there instead! 

Wednesday, April 6th - The boys and I whipped up a batch of cookies today and although Isaiah claimed his "lick the beater" privilege, he was more than willing to share with his little brother.

Thursday, April 7th - After I wrecked my car in February, I left my coupon binder in there by accident!  After I finally got it back, I purged it of all the expired coupons and got it back into shape just in time to write a blog post about my approach to couponing.

Friday, April 8th - Some of Isaiah's bedroom buddies have migrated into the living room so we now have two baskets overflowing with toys!  I'm looking forward to doing a big "toy purge" in this house come garage sale season!

Saturday, April 9th - Isaiah's grandparents presented him with a little boy's dream: a cowboy hat, holster, and pistol.  He was in Playtime Heaven!

Have a wonderful week!  Be sure to check back again next week for a glimpse at another round of severe weather that pushed through!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Extreme Couponing!

In case you haven't heard, there's a new reality series on TLC called Extreme Couponing.  Even if I hadn't heard about it for myself, I would have certainly found out about it from the handful or so of people who have recently said to me, "Have you heard about that new couponing show on TLC?  I thought of you!"


Here's the thing.  I watched the original one-time show about this when it was on a while back and enjoyed getting to see one of my fave couponers, Joanie (aka The Krazy Coupon Lady), in action.  Then I heard it was so popular that it was going to be turned into a regular series!  Couponers of the world, rejoice!  Right?  Maybe, but maybe not.

See, what people are forgetting is that the show is highlighting EXTREME examples.  One of the shoppers on Wednesday night's show got about $1100 worth of retail product for under $44 out of pocket!  Certainly amazing, but even the most hard-core couponer isn't going to go make a haul of that magnitude every time they shop!

I'd say that, at best, I am a novice couponer.  I have a decent grasp on what I'm doing, but I'm not going to make headlines by any stretch of the imagination!  Here's how I roll:

1.  Do you use a coupon binder?
Yes!  I love my coupon binder and when I accidentally left it in my Accord after I wrecked it and had to be without it for a was traumatizing. 

My binder allows me to have all my coupons organized and in one place so that I know I'll be ready if I see an unexpected deal.  I also use individual envelopes labelled by store to pull out the coupons I plan on using for that particular shopping trip.  I write my shopping list on a big Post-It and stick to to that store's envelope of coupons.

2.  Do you seriously spend HOURS clipping and organizing coupons?
Regularly, no.  Sometimes, yes.  For example, when I had to purge out all the expired coupons after I finally got my binder back and then clip and organize a month's worth of collected coupons....yup.  That took some time.  Usually though, it takes me only about an hour or so each week to clip, organize, and write up my shopping lists.

3.  Where do you shop to find the best deals?
I'm not fortunate enough to live in an area of the country with the best store options for couponers.  If you have a Kroger, Safeway, or Albertsons, they are GOLD MINES when it comes to coupons.  They will double and even triple your coupons and it's those stores where you tend to see these extreme couponers shopping on TV.  In fact, my local Piggly Wiggly won't accept Internet coupons above a total of $2.00!!  So, I find my best coupon-friendly stores in my area to be Walgreens and Target.  Both allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon and use both on top of a sale.  Walgreens has a strict policy when it comes to how many total coupons you can use and also how you can use your Register Rewards so be sure to check the store's policy on the website before you jump in.  I've made some serious hauls at both these stores though!

4.  Do you have a stockpile?
Yes.  Mine looks nothing like the mini-mart sized stockpiles of the professionals on TV, but a good couponer must stockpile to a certain extent!  When I can get something for free or dang close to it, I stock up!  I have a bathroom stockpile that consists of soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors (LOTS of razors!), shaving cream, diapers, and my hair products. 

I also have a pantry stockpile of canned soup, boxed stuffing, pasta, pasta sauce, canned pumpkin, juice boxes, cereal, oatmeal, macaroni & cheese, etc. 

It's not a ton, but it's nice to know that I don't have to worry about running out of deodorant and having to pay $3.50 to buy some!  That's the whole point of stockpiling.  And just for the record, my stockpiles are looking pretty bare right now since I've been out of the game for over a month! 

5.  So, where do you get all these coupons?
I get my coupons from the Sunday paper and the Internet.  I get one paper delivered to my door and then I try to collect extra copies of the coupon inserts from folks at work who don't want them.  I follow a bunch of coupon blogs in my Google Reader and only read the posts that contain coupon info that pertains to me.  For example, if I see a post from The Krazy Coupon Lady about a deal on razors at CVS, I don't even bother reading it.  No CVS around here for me! always has a great number of store coupons on the website.  Also, I keep my ears perked up for free product offers on Facebook or on company websites.  More often then not, a free sample of something also comes with a coupon!  TIP:  Create a ghost email account just for getting coupons and freebies!  That way, your Inbox doesn't get overrun with junk mail!

So, there are a few tips from a very novice couponer.  I've listed my favorite sites below if you want to get started on learning how to get started for yourself!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Who is This Kid???

There's a mysterious kid running around my house.  He looks like this:

Coincidentally, my baby boy has disappeared at the same moment this mystery little boy showed up in my house.  Seriously!  Look at that guy!  There's a defined chin, a mouthful of teeth, and an "I Voted!" sticker for crying in the sink!  When did this happen?

I need some M&Ms.  Stat.

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