Archive for April, 2010

Raking, Mowing & Mulching – Oh My!

Townhouse living certainly had it’s perks.  I watched out the window each week as the landscaping crew came by to rake, mow and mulch the property.  When it snowed out, the plow was there bright and early to clear the lot.  If we had a lot of trash for any reason (big purchase, party, holiday), we had the luxury of just tossing it all in the dumpster.  Of course there were also plenty of cons about living in a townhouse with two small kids.  The two biggest negatives – all the stairs and no yard.

Our townhouse had three huge flights of stairs.  Each probably had at least 16 stairs (surprisingly, I never counted them).  To get to the main level of the house, you had to go up a flight.  So when it was grocery shopping day that meant multiple trips up the stairs with arms full of bags.  Not to mention the every day haul up and down the stairs with 20 pound Nora + diaper bag in one arm and 35 pound Brinley in the other. (Yes, she could do the stairs herself, but she always complained about it.  So in an effort to get out the door faster I’d often just carry her down.)  The main level had the kitchen and living room.  The bedrooms were up another flight and then Nora’s room (a loft converted into a nursery) was up yet another flight.  Then if I had to do laundry I had to go back down to the ground level (where the garage and laundry room were).  The one benefit to all of those stairs – nice calves!  To put it bluntly, I do not miss the stairs one bit.

The townhouse also lacked a yard.  There was common space outside but it wasn’t very close to our unit and there were always cars coming and going so it didn’t seem very safe to be out there with the kiddos.  We went to the park A LOT!  Not that I mind going to parks, I’m sure we’ll still go plenty but that meant an trip away from home and packing a bag with kid stuff and maybe not having a potty accessible for Brin.  Now we have our very own playground right in our backyard! 

While having all of this right outside our back door is awesome, it also means more work!  As if I (we) didn’t have enough of my plate already we have new chores now.  There’s raking and mowing and edging and mulching and trimming and watering and….  I spent two whole afternoons last week raking up the lawn. I even have blisters to prove it! (I quickly went out and bought some yard gloves the next day.) Scott then spent two evenings mowing the lawn.  We laid 10 bags of mulch (and that’s just the back of the house).  We looked forward to the rain yesterday when we’d typically frown upon it.  Why?  Because we wouldn’t have to water the lawn or plants.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our yard!  It’s amazing having all of this space.  The girls absolutely love being outside.  Brinley can play with all of the outside toys that have been stored in our garage for the past few years.  If we’re out playing and someone needs a snack or a potty break we can just go right inside and not have to have preplanned for any of it.  This might seem old hat to many of you, but it’s a huge change for us.  I’m sure the novelty will wear off at some point, but I’m actually enjoying the yard work so far.  It gives me a huge sense of pride.  I’m just worried that it’s going to be hard for us to keep up with it.

So, do you have a yard?  How do you keep up with the yard work?  Any tips or tricks to make it stay fun?

On The Move, Part One

As you know, since you’re a loyal reader and all, my family has gone through a major life change.  Last Wednesday we became the owners of a new home.  This has been an event long in the making.  Scott and I first started looking to buy a bigger, more family friendly house back in late 2007.  But things just never panned out exactly the way we had hoped, so we never pushed it.  After Nora was born in May 2009 the need for more space, both indoor and outdoor, grew.  So we dove in and went for it.  We found our perfect house by accident back in November and have been going through the process of home ownership ever since.

It would be impossible to recount everything that has happened over the past week and a half in one blog post.  So, I’m not even going to try.  It has all been a whirlwind to say the least.  Everything has happened so fast and gone so well that I hardly even remember how most of it went down.  None of it would have been possible without the help of some amazing friends and family members.  It truly blows my mind (in a good way) how unselfish and giving some people are.  I’m truly grateful to have friends and family who embody those characteristics.  My sincerest and heartfelt thanks goes out to them.  You know who you are!

On Wednesday, April 14th, Scott and I closed on the house.  We spent the next three nights painting rooms and making things perfect for the girls.  In total, we put in over 20 hours painting.  We taped, primed and painted.  And then we painted again.  We were at the house until 4am one night just to be sure that we’d have all the painting done before officially moving in.  Each night we’d put the girls to bed and had my mother-in-law stay with them while we worked.  We’d drag ourselves home each night and literally pass out the second our heads hit the pillows.  It was extremely exhausting but well worth it in the end.

That Saturday we did the big move.  We rented a moving truck and had some of our friends help us.  The predicted downpours didn’t put a damper (no pun intended) on things for us because we were so excited to finally be moving.  Our friends showed up at 9am in rain coats with coffee in hand ready to get down to business.  On top of two trips with the moving truck we took at least six cars full of stuff.  Beds and cribs were taken apart and put back together, dressers were moved, the refrigerator was emptied and the new one restocked.  Pizza was ordered, beer was consumed, and at 11pm everyone had just about had enough.  But everything (well the important stuff anyway) was in!  We were about to spend our first night as a family in our new home.

To be continued…

Coach Bags and Good Grades

Today I bring you another guest post (sorry, I know you miss me!) from another awesome friend who doesn’t currently write her own blog.  Kelli and I met freshman year in college.  We were in the same English class.  We didn’t become friends then though.  It wasn’t until the following year when I was looking to move out of my triple (which was the size of a jail cell) and into another dorm or apartment on campus that Kelli and I crossed paths again.  We were both looking to do a room/roommate swap and ended up trying to swap with each other.  However, she didn’t want to live in my triple and I didn’t like the sound of her roommate so it didn’t work out.  BUT, the following year, after I had landed a sweet single room in a campus apartment, I asked Kelli to move in with me.  She became one of my roommates and so began our kick ass friendship.  I only wish I could somehow get her to move back to the Bay State, she is a Sox and Pats fan after all.

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Coach Bags and Good Grades

So, when Kristin (one of my bestest friends in the world and who taught me just about everything I know about Mommyhood, the Red Sox, and the Patriots) asked if I would be interested in doing a guest appearance on her famous blog, I jumped at the opportunity. However, what would I blog about? I mean her blogs are so hilarious and so captivating and perhaps genius. How would I ever compare? Well, I immediately starting thinking about what to blog about—maybe being a new mom, no, wait, how about a working, new mom? Nah, that is boring. What about being a working, new mom who used to go out all of time in college and dance on bars and now just craves a really good night sleep and a delicious cup of Dunkin Donuts blueberry coffee? Well, that sounds pretty good, but I think many moms are in my shoes and might not find that blog entry captivating or genius. So, I started to feel deflated.

Let me take a commercial break. I am a high school mathematics teacher. I am responsible for teaching over one hundred teenagers each year the wonderful world of either Algebra I or Algebra II (and next year, College Calculus!). I also teach at the same high school that both my husband and I graduated from. We are also moving to this school district in the next few months. So, yesterday I was grading a test that I gave my first period students. They performed terribly. I immediately started questioning my teaching and how I prepared them for the test. I did a good job. No, I did a great job. The students did not complete the review packet. The students did not stay after school for extra help. The students finished the test too quickly. It is their fault. I asked my husband—who is also a high school mathematics teacher at the same school—what his opinion was on the situation. He said, “kids these days just do not care about school.” Other veteran teachers said the same thing—“students just do not care. They are apathetic. Their parents give them everything and that is all that matters to them.” So, I started to think about my daughter. Mackenzie is going to be nine months next week (seriously? When did this happen?!) Then I started to think about my blog entry again. This problem is what I blog about…..kids and school!

And so, will Mackenzie be apathetic towards school? Not if I have anything to do with it. Why would “today’s parents” not encourage their kids to do well in school? Why give cell phones, iPods, new Coach bags, new cars if they are not doing well in school? It seriously bothers me—especially now that I am a parent—that parents do not support their children in school. For at least 12 years, school is the only job that children need to have. Of course, they may have after-school jobs for making extra money or to even help out with the bills at home or they may participate in athletics or extra-curricular activities. But, the primary focus should be academics. Let me tell you, Mackenzie will be focused on academics. She might not end up being the smartest kid in the class—and that is okay—but she will try her best in all of her endeavors. Why can’t today’s students be encouraged by their parents to succeed in school?

The Top 10 Reasons I (kinda) Want Kids

The moving continues.  We’re in the new house but no where near unpacked.  Moving with two small kids is VERY stressful.  Lucky for me I have some great friends to help me out with guest blogging for a few more days. Today’s post is from Molly.   I met Molly my freshman year in college.  We became friends immediately.  We were inseparable for the first year and a half of college.  Heck, she practically moved into my dorm room.  The day she transferred to a different college was one of the saddest days of my life :-(  Thankfully we remained friends and are still buddies to this day.  My girls just love Molly and she’s awesome with kiddos even though she doesn’t have any of her own (yet).  Read on to hear some of Molly’s reasons for wanting to have children.

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The top ten reasons I (kinda) want kids…

Man, I miss blogging.  I used to have an American Idol blog.  Unfortunately, when Paula left all of my good one liners left with her.  Ironically, there is just nothing funny about Ellen DeGeneres.  So I invited myself to guest blog while Kristin is moving.

Moving is so much fun… sometimes.  You see, my husband is in the Coast Guard.  Every couple years we have to pick up and move.  It’s not the packing (the military hires movers for us!).  It is the period in between where my husband dreams of all the places he’d love to go like… Alaska (gasp!) that leaves me…. er…. stressed.  You see, I am a bit uneasy about really doing anything in Alaska especially having children. My husband would have had kids years ago but I’m not quite ready.  There are some things that I think would be really great about having children.  Here are ten considerations for the DINKs (Dual Income No Kids)…

1.  My husband and parents– My husband and I were pretty much the first ones in our families to get married.  I think my poor mother was hoping I’d have a honeymoon baby, or at least after the first year, second?, third?!?! Her closet is stock piled with baby sweaters she has knit and it’s a good thing because she’ll probably have arthritis from knitting by the time we have a child.  She’s laid off the “When you have a baby…” comments but I’m not off the hook.  Even though my husband understands that I want to finish grad school first, he’s just afraid of being an old dad.  Honestly, I don’t blame him.

2.  To play with my friends’ kids– My friends’ kids are so amazing.  After I see them I end up talking about them for days.  They brighten up a room and they are so smart.  I have nieces and nephews too and I love being an auntie.  One thing I didn’t have growing up is cousins I was close to. I did have family friends though who had amazing children who are still my friends today.  I just think it is so important to have those people in your life and I’d love to give that to all my friends’ and siblings’ children.

3.  To get some fresh air– Did you ever notice how many people on a nice day are out walking with strollers?  The kids need fresh air.  The kids need watching.  That means I would get out more and probably walk off some of this butt that I seem to have accumulated since high school.

4.  They are funny– Since you all read A Mother’s Work is Never Done you already know all the hysterical things Brinley says.  Also, I love when kids do things that you shouldn’t laugh at… but you just HAVE to.  I know as a mom you can’t laugh at those moments or you’ll encourage bad behavior. Hmm… on the other hand… add that to the list for just being an auntie.

5.  I love buying things for people– Ever since I started earning money I have wanted to buy things for other people.  Shopping for kids seems awesome because you don’t have to feel guilty.  They grow so fast it makes shopping a necessity.  No problem with that!

6.  They save you money on the weekends– I know what all of you are thinking.  Children are expensive, dummy!!!!  I know.  But so is going out to eat and to the bar every weekend—all three days . So yeah, diapers and beer are both expensive.  See number 5 for which I’d prefer.  Anyway, if I change my mind they make 6-packs.

7.  Cooking for two is just plain stupid.– Cook for 2, cook for 3, heck, even cook for 4.  I don’t see much difference.  Besides, I love all the staples of toddler food—chicken nuggets, french fries, mac and cheese.  Yum!

8.  Those darn kids’ tv show songs are so catchy– You’ve caught yourself singing them…. “the phone… the phone is ringing… “, “we did it! ¡lo hicimos!”, or even “try it… you’ll like it!”.  Imagine how much more embarrassing it is to know all the words if you don’t have kids.  I’m sure the shows will change by the time I have kids but I’ll be prepared if they don’t!

9.  Christmas cards– My fridge is covered in beautiful pictures of kids.  I love it.  Every time I grab a seltzer, an apple or a brownie ice cream sundae, I mean, carrot sticks, I am reminded of my people and their amazing children.  I’ve never been one for sending out Christmas cards but maybe a kid is just the right reason to send my love and holiday cheer.

10.  Cookies, brownies, cupcakes…– Oh, here is the brownie sundae again… gee do you think I’m on a diet or what?!?!  Anyway, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to bake.  I think it is my calling in life.  I don’t however want to eat all the goodies.  Nor do I have any bag lunches or classroom birthday celebrations to make chocolate chip cookies, or monkey shaped cupcakes for.  All this talent and sugar and no one to share it with!

With all the wonderful reasons to have children Kristin better watch out… there might be another mommy blogger in a few years!

“I’m Sorry, Gluten Free??”

Today’s guest post is from Devan over at Accustomed Chaos. She is a mommy to three little ones and lives her life Gluten Free. Her blog is great because she is so full of information and shares lots of recipes and ideas on how to live without gluten in your diet. Even if you don’t need to eliminate gluten from your diet, you can still enjoy her recipes. It’s really amazing to read about her journey and how she has done so much to help herself and her family. Here she shares with you a bit about her journey with Celiac Disease. For more recipes and information about the disease, be sure to visit her blog.

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I’m Sorry, Gluten Free??” : My journey through Celiac Disease

Gluten Free” – 3 years ago when I was told by my doctor that this was the only treatment for what I was just diagnosed with, I was both relieved and freaking out. I was a young mother who just had her second child 4 months ago and was just learning how to handle 2 kids 14 months apart and now I was thrown this curve ball.

My heath had been an issue for some time and while I was relieved to finally have an answer for what was going on with me, I was not prepared to have to completely change my eating habits. Celiac disease … celiac disease was the reason for my weight loss, brittle bones, fatigue, digestive issues, walking around with a 6 month-looking pregnant belly (when I wasn’t). Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten – hence the “Gluten Free Diet”. There is no “cure” but the treatment is to strictly follow the diet.

OK… so gluten free, what does that mean? Gluten is in what seems like EVERYTHING. Pasta, breads, cookies, crackers, pizza, beer, … even the glue on the back of envelopes. I had to learn a whole new way to shop, cook, plan and come to terms that I might not be able to eat certain foods ever again.

Fast forward 3 years to today, and I can tell you that it really isn’t as scary as it may seem. The whole house is gluten free, if my husband wants a treat he must have it outside the house. My older daughter (she is 3 now) has also been put on the gluten free diet so it was safer and easier for us to have a totally gluten free kitchen. I have a strict NO GLUTEN rule (one breadcrumb will send me into a downward spiral) and as bizarre as it sounds my husband would tell you he doesn’t feel like he lives in food h*ll, we actually eat pretty good!

The initial learning period can be hard to navigate, but once you align yourself with some really great resources you will quickly realize that you are not condemned to a lifetime of bad food. The gluten free market has grown so much in the last few years and products like gluten free beer, ‘oreo-esque’ cookies, gluten free pretzels, pizza, bread and more – are all available and taste great. My favorite gluten free recipes that I cook on a regular are gluten free lasagna, orange beef with fried rice and peanut butter bars.

Things are not always easy being gluten free. I run a busy household with 3 kids 3.5 years apart and one of the biggest road blocks of being gluten free is we can not easily go out for dinner or do take out. I am also facing another gluten free dilemma when my 4 year old starts school this fall. Although he does not exhibit signs of having celiac disease I am going to have to be aware of what he touches and eats while at school (play doh is not even gluten free).

I am actually one of the lucky ones. Typically it takes the average person 10 years of symptoms and doctors visits before they are correctly diagnosed with Celiac disease. I am feeling so much healthier and I am thankful that my daughter was caught early. Gluten free isn’t a life sentence to bad food but a wonderful way to discover what it’s like to feel healthy and to use that creative cooking side.

Have you ever heard of Celiac Disease? What is the one food you don’t think you could give up?

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