Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - May Week Four

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, May 22nd - When Isaiah puts on Evan's glasses, I swear he looks seventeen.
Monday, May 23rd - Micah loves playing with bubbles, but he tends to do more playing in the bubble solution rather than blowing actual bubbles.  Once again, lots of "not in the mouth!" was heard.
Tuesday, May 24th - For some unknown reason, this crazy boy wanted to watch his TV show upside down.  I can't pretend to understand him sometimes.
Wednesday, May 25th - I don't know what slays me more, those cheeks or that pout lip.
Thursday, May 26th - I invited my friend Dawn to go with me to Star Fest 2011, a free country concert with five HUGE acts put on by my favorite radio station.  I stayed up way past my bedtime, but we had a great time and it was really a heck of a show!
Starting at top left corner, clockwise - Dawn and me with Thomspon Square, Ashton Shepherd performs during her acoustic set, Dawn and me (man, I look chubby), Dawn getting Josh Thompson's autograph, John Flint (one of the radio hosts) sings "Glory Days" with The Dirt Drifters
Friday, May 27th - Today we signed over the title to our car and got our payment, so we couldn't resist spreading out all the cash we have ready to go for our van-buying trip to Illinois.  Neither Evan or I could believe how cool it was to hold that many $100 bills!!
Saturday, May 28th - Before I drove off to work to deliver our car to its new owner, I had to take a photo of the boys with it.  This car brought both these guys home from the hospital and now it's time to move on!
I hope you had a great Memorial Day and thanks for checking out Project Life this week!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Selling the Sable

We were fortunate enough to be gifted a car right at the moment we needed it the most.  We were still a freshly married, childless couple who were still the not so proud owners of my husband's very first car - a purple Ford Taurus that was quite literally on its last legs.  That thing would shake like the Flinstones car every time we drove it, making us seriously concerned that it might fall to pieces around us.  I swear, I looked in the rear view mirror more than once to see if we were leaving a trail of random parts.

In 2006, Evan's Grandma was ready to get a new car, so she saw an opportunity to bless us big time.  She just gave us her car, a 2003 Mercury Sable with barely 30,000 miles on it.  To say we were thrilled would be an understatement. 

We made some memories with that car.  Isaiah came home from the hospital in that car.

I remember riding next to him in the backseat, holding that carrier as still as I could for the 5 minute drive home.  Ah, first time motherhood!

In 2009, we brought Micah home from that same hospital in that same car.  This time, I rode in the front seat and this little prize rode safely in the back.

And who could forget the time in 2010 when I was paying more attention to singing along with the radio and fetching the envelope of photos from Snapfish out of my mailbox to truly pay attention to what I was doing and ended up doing this to the Sable while Evan was away on a business trip to China.

Oh yeah, that was a fun one to explain.  Oy.

Alas, we have reached the end of an era.  After driving our Sable for the last five years, it has come time to make the move to a minivan to accomodate our growing family, so she had to go.  We ran her up to just over 102,000 miles and on Friday, we signed the title over to a co-worker of mine who is just jazzed beyond belief to be buying her first "big girl car."  So, before I left for work this morning to deliver the Sable to its new owner, I just had to take a photo of my babies in front of the vehicle that carried them home.....one last time.

You've been good to us, girl!  Take good care of your new driver!

Movie Date

I had a date tonight with a very special young man.  We dined at our favorite local haunt (Culver's) and then proceeded to our local dive theater to catch a new flick. 

We shared a popcorn, laughed, and even snuggled a bit at the more tender moments.  It was a heck of a night out with a really sweet guy.  I can't wait to do it again! 

Maybe we'll even bring Daddy along next time.  ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - May 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, May 15th - Micah was also sitting nicely on Daddy's lap until I ran to get the camera.  Therefore, my attempt to get a good photo of all my guys failed, but at least I got a nice one of Isaiah and Evan!

Monday, May 16th - After we bought Isaiah new light-blocking curtains this weekend, we rearranged his room.  Ever since, he's been so excited to proclaim, "I love my new room!"

Tuesday, May 17th - Isaiah just loved carrying around this lilac blossom from the bush in our backyard.  He kept saying, "This smell beautiful!"

Wednesday, May 18th - Just two days ago, I was sending a photo of this plant to my mother to ask her "weed or flower?"  Good thing I didn't rip all my daisies out before they bloomed!

Thursday, May 19th - Playing in the water coming out of the faucet is definitely the favorite part of bath time.

Friday, May 20th - If I had a nickel for every time I have said to Micah, "Not in your mouth!  Yucky!!!" we could probably be debt free in a heartbeat!

Saturday, May 21st - Busy day!  I co-hosted a double bridal shower for a couple of Evan's cousins and this cupcake table took my breath away from the moment I laid eyes on them.  They were amazing.  After the shower, I got to meet my friend Jenny's new baby girl, Reagan.  She was such a little cuddle bug and so sweet!!

Thanks for stopping in and have a great week!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's Almost Minivan Time!

We've been talking about buying this stinking van for months and months now.  We argued about the van, dreamed about the van, and remember when I was stupid enough to go test drive a $24,500 Odyssey and then come home and try to sell Evan on how we could "probably make the payments work?"  I even came up with an incredibly stupid plan for how to buy one.  Ah, the days before the Total Money Makeover.  I was such an idiot.
But, gone are those days!  Just a couple weeks past our one year anniversary of being on the TMMO and we are starting to plan out a van-buying trip down to Illinois where we will (hopefully) drive home with a Honda Odyssey we paid for in cash.

Man, did it ever feel good to type that last sentence.

It hasn't been easy, but over the last year we were able to save up to put a new roof over our heads as well as set aside money every month for a van.  Thanks to a generous gift from some family that gave us a much needed boost, we are now equipped with the funds to go make our purchase. 

On his last trip to China, Evan listened to Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and picked up some helpful tips on purchasing a vehicle Ramsey-style.  He told me we should expand our search to up to 250 miles away from where we live.  At first I thought he was crazy, but then he asked, "If someone said they would pay you $1000 to drive down to Rockford and back, would you do it?"  I replied with, "Of course! Duh!" 

Oh.....I get it!

To Autotrader.com I went and searched for up to 200 miles away.  Lo and behold, we had literally dozens of Odysseys to choose from, all within our price range!  *Happy Dance!*

The master plan is for Evan to take a couple vacation days from work and we'll ship the kids off for an overnight at Grandma's house.  We'll drive down to Illinois and spend the first day on a test-driving binge.  That night, we'll weigh our options and rank our choices.  Day Two will be spent trying to strike a deal and make a purchase.  Knowing that we have several other options at our fingertips will give us much more bargaining power and being able to skip over the hassle of needing financing is HUGE.  Who knows?  Maybe we'll even be able to drive home and pick up our kids in the new Swagger Wagon!

We're hoping to have this done by the second week of June, so stay tuned! 

Delane, I'll be expecting my bumper sticker in the mail by July 1st.  :)

And if you're really bored or care to see what we're going to be test driving, here is the link to the search I ran on Autotrader.  Of course, we've narrowed this down quite a bit and some will be gone before we make our trek and perhaps some new ones will be added to the list, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - May 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, May 8th - What a wonderful Mother's Day treat!  I got to sit on my front porch and enjoy reading a good book while Evan grilled me steaks on the Weber and the kids played happily in the driveway. 

Monday, May 9th - Micah is going to be my big slice o' trouble.  He's stubborn as a mule and reacts like this when something doesn't go his way. 

Tuesday, May 10th - It was actually HOT today!  By the time I picked the kids up from daycare, it was about 86 degrees!  We immediately changed into shorts to play outside and when their little faces became beet red, I treated them to some popsicles.

Wednesday, May 11th - Isaiah was running around in his tighty whities pretending to be Captain Underpants so of course, Micah had to strip down to his skivvies too.  My little laundry helpers had a blast helping me collect dirty laundry as long as they could do it in their undies!

Thursday, May 12th - Do you see why this guy is going to be my trouble-maker?  Look at that mischevious little buggar; you can see it in his eyes.

Friday, May 13th - Busted!  At 20 months old, I think it's getting to be time that we move Micah to a booster on the big kid chair, rather than the highchair.  He's been trying to steal Daddy's chair pretty often lately.

Saturday, May 14th - Behold, the wonder of all wonders!!  On Mother's Day, Isaiah surprised us with a sudden desire to not only eat, but willingly enjoy his broccoli.  I couldn't resist the temptation to tempt fate again, so we hit him with the green stuff again.  Isaiah was proud to show off the nutrients he was choosing to eat all on his own!  I was just floored.

Again, I apologize for the delay in getting Project Life up on the blog this week.  Life through some major curveballs at us that really messed with our world and photo editing just didn't hit the top of the to do list.  I hope to share more information with you soon.  Have a wonderful week!

The Moment I Almost Lost my Job

As a special treat today, on a day when my eyes are puffy, my back is aching, and I'm stuck working in the hottest room in the entire high school.....I'd like to share a little story with you.

True story.  I had to switch shifts with one of the other waitresses at work this week because Evan is going on yet another business trip.  Since my job is to be the Play-Doh that happily molds and conforms itself to whatever his schedule requires (grrrrr....), I wound up working last night instead of my usual Thursday night.  I only mention this because in my mind that means that this wasn't meant to happen to me, gall dangit!!

It had been a pretty slow evening and I had already raked in a whopping $7 by the time my work buddy left, so when this young couple and their daughter came in, I really didn't think much of it.  Things got nasty.  FAST. 

The little girl was probably 4 1/2, not quite 5 I don't think.  She was certainly older than Isaiah by a good deal.  Anyway, that little terror was one of the worst behaved kids I have seen in recent memory.  And I work at two schools and a family restaurant.

She screamed at the top of her lungs, kicked her parents under the table, hollered "Nooo!" at every opportunity, and even laughed maniacally as she got her parents more and more flustered.  With every misbehavior, all Mom did was say, "Please, stop!" and "Don't do that."  Dad did nothing. 

Now keep in mind that all the afore mentioned business was taking place from the second they sat down to the second they walked out the door.  Got it?  Good.  Allow me to fill in the main event for you.

As I was attempting to take their order, our little princess was scratching her mother.  Not like the "allow me to take care of that itch you can't physically reach" kind of scratch, but the "let's see if I can draw blood!" kind of scratching.  In between ordering her chocolate malts and cheeseburgers, Mom was having to pull her arm back to keep Princess from leaving red claw marks.  Meanwhile, Dad is doing and saying nothing regarding this behavior and Princess is laughing up a storm because this is really a hoot. 

I move to the other side of the table to take Dad's order when suddenly, Princess realizes she has a new audience and she decides to let me in on the fun.  The child reached over and pinched my arm!  I took a step away, trying to keep my cool, and continued trying to get Dad's order.  When she realized she hadn't fully made the desired impression, the little cherub took it a step further and raked her nails down my arm.  She managed to do this twice while I calmly held my tongue and hoped one of her parents would intervene somehow, but neither of them did. 

How was Princess "disciplined" for this behavior?  She got to continue to act out in the way I described previously and was fed as much ice cream from Mom's chocolate malt as she wanted.  Oh, and they rewarded her with a trip to the park afterwards. 

At one point I actually overheard Mom say, "I just don't know what to do to get her to behave.  I can't yell at her.  She's not old enough to understand." 

People, it was all I could do to keep from going all Supernanny on these clueless idiots.  I had to keep going back into the kitchen and blow off steam before going back out in the dining room because I didn't want to get fired!

They finally left the restaurant to take Princess to play at the park, leaving me with a 10% tip and zero apologies for the red marks on my arm. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rain Delay

Sorry everyone.  Project Life Tuesday just isn't going to be ready by Tuesday this week.  I don't have much better of an excuse other than that life got a little too crazy to pull it off.  I have my photos, but I still need to edit them all and then compile the blog post itself.  It's already past 11:00 pm on Monday night and I haven't even started on any of that.

And don't even get me started on how Castle ended tonight.

I'll try my best to get on it tomorrow night.  Things are just crazy and stressful right now.  As Jessica says on The Mom Creative, "Thank you for grace."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Having All Boys is Awesome: Reason #212

It got HOT yesterday.  After a very disappointing March and April where temperatures remained cold and the skies insisted on dropping snow, we seemed to skip right over spring and jump directly into summer yesterday.  It was humid as all get out and my curly hair poofed up like a mushroom cloud.  The high temperature got up to 86-ish degrees in my area!  On May 10th! 

Being at the high school yesterday gave me a sudden reminder of why I'm really pumped that I am the momma of all boys.  There were a ton of very, very short skirts and shorts running around that place.  Here are these teeny tiny little teenage girls (and some who are not so teeny tiny as well) trotting around in outfits that feature little more than a loincloth that would make Tarzan blush.  On many of the shorts I saw in the hallways yesterday, the pockets were hanging out the bottom of the shorts.  Several others had holes ripped in the fronts to expose just a little sneaky peek of the upper thigh.  And don't even get me started on the fact that the shorts pictured there are listed on Abercrombie & Fitch's website for $58 dollars!!!!

And then there are the skirts.  Oh. my. gracious.  I know I sound like an 80 year old grandmother when I say this, but many of these skirts are just downright embarrassing for me to even walk behind the girl who is wearing it.  They are short.  Crazy short.  So short that I am truly concerned that sitting, reaching, bending over, or even just walking could cause some kind of R-rated event to happen to this young lady.  And of course, several of these handkerchiefs passing off as clothing also have holes ripped in the front so as to expose even more skin. 

To all you mommas (and dads!!!) out there with daughters, I don't envy the situation you'll probably find yourselves in come adolescence.

Reason #212 that having all boys rocks:  I never have to have the "isn't that too short?" argument. 

Instead, I just have to hold my breath and hope and pray that this whole saggy pants thing doesn't have the longevity to affect my boys because oh will they be embarrassed when I yank their pants down in front of their friends and exclaim, "I don't show you my panties, so I don't want to see yours!!"

My kids are going to hate me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - May 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, May 1st - Well, the show is a wrap!  After our final performance of Becoming Juliet today we all enjoyed a buffet of junk food at the cast party.  The kids started up an impromptu game of "Truth or Dare" in the driveway, which Diane and I took as our cue to leave!

Monday, May 2nd - I've shared a photo of Isaiah with his sunglasses before, but this is just to prove that the obsession has only escalated.  Now he's taken over his brother's sunglasses too.  What a goofy boy.

Tuesday, May 3rd - Evan inherited a rider lawn mower after his uncle passed and he got to use it for the first time today.  He's pretty psyched to be able to get the lawn done in record time.  However, Micah was less than impressed that he didn't get to go outside and join Daddy on his adventures.

Wednesday, May 4th - We tried to get a new belly photo, but my hair looked awful.  Instead, Evan snapped a great close up of Isaiah giving his new baby brother a kiss!

Thursday, May 5th - For some reason, the boys were really enjoying ripping up my flowers and examining the stem together.  At least they were getting along. 

Friday, May 6th - I can't help but laugh when Micah gets himself in a situation like this and starts to yell, "Stuck! Stuck!"

Saturday, May 7th - My neighbor invited me to go out to see a movie tonight, so I stayed out waaaayyyyy too late past my bedtime to see "Water for Elephants" with some really great girlfriends.  Even having read and enjoyed the book, I thought the movie did a pretty good job!  (I'm still Team Jacob, Rob.  Sorry.)  Please forgive the dark phone photo.

I hope you had a wonderful week!

On a side note, I want to let you all in on a little Project Life secret.  I do not manage to get a photo taken every single day of every single week.  In fact, this week was really bad in that department!  My dirty little secret is that I had to "fudge" four of these photos!  What I mean by that is that I might get two photos on one day, but use one of them to represent a day I missed.  It doesn't make much of a difference in the big scheme of things and I still end up with a fairly accurate representaion of my week.  It's ok if it's not perfect!  Heck, the whole point of this is to show real life anyway, right?

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Favorite Mother's Day Gift

It's hard to choose what gift was my favorite yesterday.

A.  Gift card for a massage
B.  An excessive number of goodbye kisses from my boys as I left for work
C.  The 45 solid minutes I got to read my book while my kids played happily outside
D.  The steak my husband grilled for supper to a perfect medium rare
E.  Isaiah saying, "I love broccoli!" and voluntarily snarfing down two pieces of broccoli at supper.

I've decided that E is more of a miracle than a gift, so I'm going to go with ALL OF THE ABOVE!  Seriously, Evan and I were just gaping at each other across the dinner table, silently asking one another what kind of body-possessing alien had taken over our son that he was so jazzed about his broccoli.  It took me back to the days when he would gobble up nearly anything I gave him. 

Lord, give me strength.  He was 9 months old!  Now he's like, a little man!

At least it isn't a Harley just yet.

And then there's this guy:

Yup, I'm a lucky mama! 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

New roof and a sigh of relief

For any of you who have visited our house recently, you may have noticed that our roof is in just about as ugly shape as you can get without it actually having caved in on us. The corners of the shingles started curling up about about 2 years ago. It was first noticed when I had a contractor come out to put gutters and downspouts on our house. I couldn't believe it. The house was only built in 2000. How was it possible that the shingles had already gone to pot.

But we decided at the time that other things had to come first. Micah was on the way and we needed to be able to use our 3rd bedroom. This meant a complete basement rennovation. We decided that the roof would have to wait until 2010. The basement went as well as we had hoped it would and gave us the extra room we needed.

The spring of 2010 rolled around and Sarah and I decided that it was just about time to get our act together and think about the future. We read Dave Ramsey's book "The Total Money Makover" and decided to get serious about paying off our debt. "What does this have to do with the roof?" - you might ask. Well, you can't exactly get a loan to re-do your roof if you're eliminating your debt. So, even though it made me more than slightly uneasy to wait, we put off the roof for another year and started saving money so that we could pay for the roof in cash.

Towards the end of the year, I took a few pictures of the roof for a possible lawsuit that's been filed against the manufacturer of our shingles (more on that in a later post).

Yes, it does look pretty bad. Actually, "pretty bad" doesn't do it justice. It's one of the worst roofs I've ever seen in my life. I have piles of shingle dust at the end of each downspout. Before the roof was fixed, pieces of shingles came off with every storm.

Now for good news. After a year of saving money, we felt we had more than enough to cover the cost of a new roof. I contacted a few contractors who were recommended to me by neighbors, friends, or co-workers. We were looking for a 25 or 30 year shingle and were looking for an architectural style. They're quotes came in all over the place. They ranged from $5,000 to $10,000 (that contractor is notorious for being overpriced.)

After giving it some thought, we went with a contractor that was recommended to me by a co-worker. Gilles Construction is run by a man whose been doing roofs for 25 years. He only works on the weekends, and he brings in a large crew and blitzes through the roof quickly. After a little negotiation, we settled on a price. After seeing my roof when he did the inspection for the quote, he knew that I needed him to come out as soon as possible. We set the date for last Saturday.

They showed up last Saturday bright and early at 7:00. There was a humorous moment when one of the guys mentioned that he thought that I could have maybe waited a little bit to get the new roof put on. He thought that I had a good 2 or 3 more days of life in the shingles. That clinched it for me. When you have a guy whose worked on roofs for years make a joke about how bad your roof is, you know it's truely terrible.

Gilles brought out 9 guys total and they got to work immediately. These guys know what they're doing. They immediately got up on the roof and started to tear off the old shingles. They then dumped them into the back of a truck that they had parked underneath the eaves of the house.

From inside the house, it sounded like thunder. I was able to get the boys outside so that they could see what was going on out there. The boys were amazed when they saw all of the men up on the roof. Like all boys, they showed their amazement by picking dandelions.

They had the roof completely torn off by 8:10. A little over an hour on the roof, and they had completely cleared it. I can't give enough praise for these guys. Gilles runs a tight ship and every guy knew exactly what he was supposed to be doing, and what he was supposed to do when he was done with that. Because it was windy out, he even had guys come down periodically to bag up the litter that had blown off the roof before it got on our neighbors lawns. They didn't show any delay in starting to put on shingles. They were putting shingles on the back of the house as soon as they were done stripping it. As you can see in the pictures below, they moved across very quickly.

Once finished with the roof, they all got together and cleaned up any shingles that had fallen on the ground and used a magnet to pick up any nails that might have been missed. They were finished and had left by 11:30 in the morning. That's 4.5 hours to tear off and re-roof a average sized house. I still don't believe it. They were done before nap-time. Now that they're finished, it looks like this.

Sarah and I are very happy with it. It looks great. And by using a 30-year Owens Corning shingle, it should last us much longer than 10 years.

On a final note, I can't say enough great things about Gilles Construction. They did a great job for a very reasonable price and did it quickly. For those of us who spend a lot of time watching shows like "Holmes on Homes", it was a blessing to deal with someone who holds themselves to a higher standard. If your looking for someone to do your roof and you're in the Waunaukee area, give them a shot. You won't regret it.

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