Christmas Letter Draft

I may or may not get our family picture taken this month. And I may not ever get Christmas cards sent. I know, shocker. After 12 years of marriage, this is a first.
Please know that if this season was paved with good intentions, well, then all of you would be riding along smoothly with the top down and admiring my cute handmade card featuring a picture of our adorable, photoshopped family as you drove. Huh? I think I lost myself in that analogy there. Anyhoo, here's a rough draft of our Christmas low-down, in case you're just dying to read about us.

N - still working for SRP, though in a different position now. His new title is the "Business Area Representative" for the Power division. AKA, the "Power BAR". Insert funny comment here.
- still serving in the bishopric, playing basketball 3-4 times a week, and participating in several networking and strategic groups at work.
- tries to keep up on a couple of TV shows, but usually falls asleep once his backside hits the couch, because of the previous.
- got himself a brand new (old) car this summer, and not surprisingly it's exactly the car that his wife was wanting. It's a lovely little Honda Accord that's super fun to drive, oh-so-comfortable, and has all the right options, and our old truck with its faulty transmission and its inability to fit nicely in our garage is GONE. Hooray!

S - finally broke down and got glasses a few months ago. She is still getting used to them, and forgets to wear them lots of days.
- participated in not one, but TWO 12-week fitness challenges this year, and in the process lost more than 25 pounds. Struggling to maintain it during all the goodies of the holidays, not to mention the discovery of lovely QT sodas...
- is able to keep up on a lot of TV shows while running on her treadmill almost daily. Santa brought it to our house last Christmas, and we're SO glad he did!
- started a little business with a friend designing, cutting and selling vinyl - including wall words, signs, frames, and just about anything else they can think of to throw vinyl on. Check out their stuff at twovinylchicks.blogspot.com!

A - is nine years old now and has been attending Activity Days for more than a year. She's growing up so fast we can't believe it sometimes.
- got braces on her bottom teeth in January to correct a couple of problems, and was able to avoid the need for oral surgery (hooray!) She will get them off in the spring, and then we have her "real" braces to look forward to in a couple of years.
- is still doing gymnastics, and had fun swimming for the El Prado Waterdogs (I know, you don't have to tell me it's a dumb mascot name) on Swim Team this summer. She is small for her age group, but still did pretty well in the meets. It helps that we had several friends on our team with us!
- is a THIRD grader now and doing great! She loves school and hanging out with her friends and can't fathom ever moving away or attending another school.
- has become an avid reader, devouring the Percy Jackson series, the Tales from the Odyssey series, the 39 Clues books, everything by Judy Blume, plus anything else Mommy can dig up from the library. Ask her anything about Greek mythology and you'll be impressed. She stays up for hours nightly reading and re-reading her favorites.
- is addicted to computer games and is a sucker for any cross-promotional cards that come with books. She has moved on from Webkins and is now an expert with Club Penguin, 39 Clues, Fandango...

M - is growing like a weed. Mommy can hardly keep her in clothes or shoes, and it's a daily struggle to find something that still fits for her to wear. She's growing out of her mouth too, as her permanent teeth are struggling to find a place among all the crowded baby teeth. Looks like we'll be pulling several of those, just like we had to do with A's teeth.
- turned out to be quite the strong swimmer during Swim Team this summer. She came in first place in most of her races at each meet.
- is a big FIRST grader now. Math is a piece of cake for her, and as long as we stay organized with homework, M is one of the top students in class. We scored the same teacher both girls had for kindergarten, which has been a huge blessing.
- is a super big sister to J, and a super help to Mommy around the house. She and A start a dozen different "clubs" and art projects around the house each week - they're always planning something. Right now there's a sign on her bedroom door announcing that anyone who wants to come in has to recite all 50 state names in alphabetical order (because she can, you know). Anyone who can't list the states can NEVER come in again. Be warned.

J - is a whopping 3 years old now! He is potty trained, pretty much, and he goes to a little preschool once a week.
- is a sweetheart and literally walks around the house all day saying "I luf you mom..." He tells N that "You're my good boy, Da-eee"
- follows me around all day and talks my ear off. This kid has a LOT to say. I can't believe we were ever worried about him talking. Ha!
- has three favorite questions. Why? Why? and Why?????? He always makes his tone sound like "Whatever you're asking me to do is absurd, mom."
- has a best friend, truly. He is concerned about Finny at all points in his day. If he wants fruit snacks, he gets two packages, one for him, one for Finny. If he's tired, he wonders if Finny is taking a nap. If he's getting ready for church, he wants to go see Finny in his class. Heaven help their Sunbeam teacher in January. Together, these two are a handful!

Our Family - went to Disneyland twice this year. We may not be able to travel to extravagant locales, but we love that our timeshare allows us, at least, to afford Disney and its "canned family time" as N calls it. Hee hee.
- sweated our way through swim meets each week this summer. Man, it's hot at 5pm in Phoenix in July.
- spent a weekend apart when N & S took a couple of days to attend a family wedding in Safford in July. It was great to spend time with all the Scotts - and the new Ferrins too!
- survived just fine when Mommy took a girls' trip for a weekend to SoCal. Well, thanks to Grandma, that is. S got a much-needed break.
- spent Thanksgiving weekend traveling to the North Pole. We took the Polar Express train all the way to see Santa, and it was awesome!
- all experienced lice for the first time when we discovered the critters in the girls' hair. UGH, was that an awful few days.
- is looking forward to Christmas at home with Nonnie and Papa, and then traveling to Safford to see more family.


Christmas Boutique

This is our last hurrah before Christmas - come check out this boutique in North Mesa this weekend! YES, we've added new stuff this week that you'll love! Too fun!  It's all day Friday and Saturday, and the best part is you can BRING YOUR KIDS to play on the gymnastics equipment WHILE YOU SHOP!  How cool is that??  See you there!


Need a laugh??

Big hair, leggings, layered shirts on top...


Come One, Come All!

Looking for something totally fun to do with your family tomorrow? Want to come to one of the TWO CHICKS' awesome craft shows? Need to get pictures taken with Santa? Want to see him fly in on a helicopter? Want to let your kids play in the snow without having to drive half the day to get to it? Are you a fan of kettle corn and fry bread?? Have I got the solution for you!!! All you need is 3 bucks a ticket, or better yet, 3 cans of food for each ticket to get in. Clean out your pantry to donate to charity and come on over!


See? I'm not that behind after all.

December 1st - Even though Christmas looks like it has thrown up in my front room, at least the Christmas tree is up & mostly decorated. Blog has been decorated for Christmas as well. We survived Thanksgiving, and had a wonderful time at the inlaws' house in Scottsdale - even though J ended up with the flu that day. We also got to see SANTA on our trip to the North Pole this weekend. Had such a fun time on the Polar Express train along with all of our cousins! Pictures forthcoming. Discovered the most unpleasant creatures in the girls' hair when we got home Saturday night. UGH. Sorry to everyone we exposed in the last week - I hope everyone has been checking thoroughly and is clean! Spent an obscene amount at Walgreens getting anything and everything to clean, comb, shampoo, treat and spray every head along with every surface in our home. Seriously the biggest nightmare of my life. Still making my way through all the laundry, and the girls have been nit-free, we think, for 24 hours now. Crossing my fingers that we're out of the woods now with it, 'cause man, I couldn't handle another day with everybody home from school. Busy getting prepared for another craft show on Saturday. This one should be a good one, at N's work Christmas party. I heard Santa will be flying in on a helicopter to see everyone - fun fun! Now if we could only figure out what to ask him to get all of us for Christmas... I would like an extra week before Christmas, please, and an extra pair of hands to attach for the month as well, I think!



Where is the time GOING? Thanksgiving is less than 27 hours away now - I have yet to have my kids officially write to Santa, have NOT planned out what I'm getting for anyone on my list, have NOT taken a family photo yet (or even planned what exactly we're going to wear for such photo), I have NOT planned my Christmas cards (usually they're in FULL SWING by now) I have NOT purchased what I need to make my portion of Thanksgiving dinner, I have NOT checked my turkey to see if it's thawed yet (it's been three days since I bought it and had to put it in the fridge because of lack of space in the freezer, probably time to brine and cook that bad boy), nor do I have a plan or recipe of how I'm going to do such, I have NOT started packing for a mini trip we're taking this weekend, it has NOT occurred to me that we might not all have appropriate winter shoes or coats for such a trip, I have NOT dealt with the fact that I only have ONE pair of jeans that fits, and doesn't feel like they're falling off, I have NOT completed several custom vinyl orders asked of the Two Chicks, I have NOT even settled up and figured out how much $$ we made last weekend at our craft show, I have NOT dusted all the shutters in the house like I'd planned to do before the installer comes bright and early tomorrow morning to put more in the loft... ugh. Better get to work...


Crazy Cool Crafting - Again!

We're in another boutique Saturday - that's tomorrow! This one is bigger and better - don't miss it! We have added several new products in the last week!


Life is good.

I am grateful for my kids. They are smart, and fairly well-behaved, and funny. I don't need to mention that they are super cute.  J likes to bring me flowers he picks out of the yard sometimes. The last time he brought me two bright red hibiscus flowers, handed them to me "Here Mom! They are for you."  and then,  "Don't die them." Ha!

I am grateful for my talents, and my many projects going on. (My husband is not quite as grateful for all of my many projects going on, however.) We survived our craft show this weekend, and I think we did okay selling at least some of our stuff . Still need to figure out if we broke even, though.   : )  We are looking forward to doing other sbows and boutiques in the future.

I am grateful for Finny. J has such a good time with him.

I am grateful for Arizona weather. It ROCKS right now.

Had a great workout this morning thanks to Cindy. Tomorrow morning, when I can't walk or lift my kid, I just may change my attitude, though.

I am grateful for my family, and for my husband's family. Everybody is funny, and fun to be around. My kids play wonderfully with their cousins.

Soup is awesome. Please send me your favorite soup recipe - I want to find some fun new ones! My mouth is watering thinking about Aubrey's potato-apple soup I had yesterday. Yum. I could totally eat soup every day.

Projects on the horizon:  getting shutters installed in the playroom this week, visiting Deirdre and Oakley, half a day of school on Wednesday, getting ready for the school fall carnival on Friday night, coordinating family pictures sometime in the next week or so, a couple of custom vinyl orders to get ready, designing an ad for Justin, finishing the painting in the girls' room, getting hair cuts for my girls, making a scrapbook for some friends who are moving away, figuring out my Christmas cards and sending them out, finishing sewing J's quilt and setting up his twin bed, getting my carpets cleaned, planning my birthday party...


In case you haven't heard...

Tomorrow is the big day! We (aka the TWO CHICKS) are so excited to be in this here craft show tomorrow!

Come check it out! I've seen some products of one of the other vendors and I was giddy, everything was so cute! And unbelievably priced! You HAVE to come visit us tomorrow! Please please! We've got show specials, gimmicks, and even t-shirts that match our booth! Ha! Hope to see you there! 9am -1pm 740 E. 2nd. Avenue, Mesa AZ 85204 - It's right around the corner from the temple. Look for the signs and balloons to lead you in! See you there!


Grateful - the next few days.

1. Grateful that our little craft show is almost here, because I'm tired of making stuff! I figure whatever gets done, gets done, whatever does not, no one will ever know we intended to do it. Right?

2. Grateful for my treadmill, which enables me to burn at least a few calories a day and keep current on all my TV shows. (By the way, have you seen the show on DIY called "House Crashers" ?  The host, Josh Temple. is my new TV crush!)

3. Grateful that two of my children are asleep in bed, and that the third is not bugging me at the moment.

4. Grateful for Jackie, who is always willing to watch J for me at a moment's notice, pitch in on projects, and has pudding when I need it to borrow. And also, grateful for Finny, who is hands-down-J's-favorite-person. He wonders about him, and talks about him, all day long. When I was tucking him in he asked me if Finny was asleep in his bed too? Sweet.

5. Grateful for the weather. I wore a hoodie today! Granted, I still had on capris and flip flops, but it was ideal. I love that I can wear shorts to go play volleyball, or jeans and my boots to run errands in - either is perfectly fine at the moment in AZ.

6. Trying to grit my teeth and be grateful that I get to go on M's field trip as a chaperone on Friday, even when I have so many things to do. Ugh. No, really, I'm totally grateful she WANTS me to go.


Dear Santa, *EDIT*

or the anniversary fairy,
or the birthday fairy,
(or any of the above)

I would like, in no particular order, one of these lovely camera bags:


and one of the big-bag versions of the Miche bag, along with a couple of shells - I think the "hope" and the "delilah" and possibly the "lexi"


and this software program to use with my Cricut, "Sure Cuts a Lot"


along with a few colors of vinyl to play with,

and oh, still wanting my carpet cleaned in a bad way,

and I would love a weekend away with my hubby somewhere...

You can fit all that in your sleigh, right?


Grateful Month - The first few days

1. The other Vinyl Chick. Everyone should have a friend like Lisa. She threw one heck of a Halloween party over the weekend, complete with trick-or-treating and all the gross-out food you can imagine. (I made the vomit myself - it was fantastic!)
Not all invitees showed up, but it was still fun, even though N slept on the couch through most of it. We played a game of Atmosfear (an old college favorite) until I could barely keep my eyes open, but at least I WON, and the kids all went home with gobs of candy. I woke up the next day weighing 7 pounds more than I did the day before. - no lie. But seriously, I am so grateful that Lisa's now in the Valley (albeit on the whole other side of such from me) and that she's willing to hang out and do any and all projects on a moment's notice. She loves to go all-out for every event, and is so fun to be around!

2. SRP. Although they keep my hubby from us way longer each day than I would like, they are about the most stable place that we can be, and they have treated N pretty well the last month, including a promotion and two raises, with one more possibly on the horizon next month. (!)

3. J - oh man, does my little guy make me smile. He has lots of opinions on things nowadays, and his memory is shockingly good. He loves to hide, and then jump out and shout "BOO" at the top of his lungs when Daddy is walking in the door from work each night. When we are getting in the car to go somewhere, he usually runs out into the driveway, or the front yard, and literally runs in circles "I running round, Mom!" a few times before he gets in the car. Funny, except when we're late. Here he is very intently decorating his pumpkin with foamies.
This mound is J and Finny hiding from me under a blanket on my bed.

4. Today I'm grateful that
I got my errands run no sweat
I got to go to the grocery store without J
I finished a few more vinyl projects for our craft fair next weekend
I got most of the Halloween decorations got put away and Thanksgiving mostly put out
A got a new wire put in her braces
Alison and Sara recommended Melatonin to me, and it's been much calmer around here at bedtime for a certain 7-yr-old.


Ideal Protein Diet

No, I have not done this diet but I have watched several people in the last year melt away by doing it. (And do it a LOT faster than I have, trying to exercise it all off) This video is of my sis-in-law's sister, and if you can get past the "reporter" at the beginning, this is interesting to watch. My SIL has also been doing this diet for a while and has lost more than 100 pounds as well. Go Carolyn - and Karen!


Pumpkin Festival

Well, I guess if you can't go wear sweatshirts and cut your pumpkin off the vine in a real field, this is the next best thing! We went to the Desert Botanical Garden on Saturday for their Pumpkin Festival (Thanks J for the heads up!) The weather was perfect, and the kids had a good time wandering around all the game booths and collecting their prizes, then we went on a hayride (of sorts) to go to the hay maze and pumpkin patch where all the kids got to pick out, then decorate, their own pumpkins. They also had a little petting zoo. J was very concerned that some other kids were trying to pick up the chickens "Put the titten DOWN!" I also decided the best way to torture me - play some awful, heavily twangy music and then make me stand in line in front of a very loud speaker while my children are tired and whiny. Fun!


Upcoming Craft Fair

The lovely Amber Tryon has invited us to be a part of her annual craft fair over in Mesa in just THREE WEEKS - so Lisa and I have been busy preparing to hopefully sell all kinds of vinyl-laden crafts. So excited! Do you want anything? How about one of these? Or one of these gorgeous frames(which we'll be offering in two sizes) We're still working on details, samples, and figuring out pricing for everything. Will you come visit us? It will be on Saturday, November 13th from 8am-1pm. 740 E 2nd Ave, Mesa just down the street from the temple. There will also be signs, wooden plaques, Christmas nativity project kits, unique frames, and more! Not to mention all the fun stuff that all the other vendors are doing! See you there!


do the girls need their own rooms. The fighting has gotten unbearable, and we're having sleeping issues. I'm perfectly willing to move A downstairs to the guest room, but it's packed FULL! Need to sell the secretary/bookshelf STAT, buy a lamp and find some other place to store an entire closetful of Costco/pantry items/food storage. ugh, we need a bigger house.


Thursday thoughts.

• We got all the hail-ish dents in N's car fixed and picked it up today. We found a company to do it "paintless" for much less than the insurance estimated, so hooray for the insurance check covering the whole repair - and hopefully the A/C repair too, without us having to shell out the $500 deductible. And the car looks PERFECT - without having to get it repainted (part of me is bummed, though, I wanted to repaint it blue!)

• I went to DI this week (so random, I NEVER go to DI or thrift stores or anywhere!) and found some fun deals - including two fabulous pairs of boots! Need to find a cute brown skirt STAT so I can wear the knee-high ones! Thank you to whomever donated the size 8 brown suede boots to DI - they are great!

• Lisa and I have been working furiously on vinyl the last couple of weeks, between Super Saturday projects and several other random orders for friends. We are planning to do a craft fair and sell stuff in the middle of November, and are toying with the idea of putting on our own "Santa's Workshop" day in Nov. as well. Would you go to the craft fair and buy stuff like THIS , already finished? Would you rather come to a Santa's workshop and put projects together yourself, instead? Do you know anyone who WOULD come to such things? Do you want me to send you an invitation??

• J has been about 50/50 with potty training lately - he is perfect with #1, but seems to have issues with #2 a lot of days - sigh. Not sure how to motivate him to stay clean every day. Sunday = accident, Mon-Wed = perfect, last night = wet the bed, today = accident. Hmmm...

• We're still trying to figure out Halloween over here. M's going to be a Bee, (and Mommy and N and J might join her as bees too) and A wants to be a tree, but I haven't made any progress toward anyone's costumes yet.

• Recess, recess, recess has become a hot topic the last few weeks. Our school board arbitrarily cut afternoon recess without consulting any parents or getting a vote on the issue, and many many parents are ticked off about it, but I kind of see both sides of the issue now and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I know my kids severely miss the recess that was cut, and I as well want them to have a short break in the afternoons, but if it truly is going to cause the school year to have to be extended, and if the teachers really don't like it because it's disrupting teaching time, then..... well I just don't know. School board meeting is tonight - we'll see how it all goes down.


Monday with M

We're in the bad part of M's mood cycle, it seems. It been rough for the last few days; something is always setting her off and making her upset. Last night after throwing a massive fit at Grandma's house and screaming and kicking our seats all the way home, she tore off all the covers on her own bed and ended up sleeping on the guest bed, in her underwear, because she refused to do anything else - sigh. This morning she was a cranky zombie walking around, so I suggested she go run on the treadmill (Hey, it totally cheers me up!) and she perked up instantly. She ran/walked for almost 5 minutes, until A got involved and wanted to do it too, sigh... but it helped, I think, a little. After going upstairs to get ready (thank goodness her favorite skirt was clean!) she had on a hoodie over her shirt, as well as leggings under her skirt, when she asked me if I thought it was going to be hot today. When I said yes, probably, and suggested she take either the hoodie or the leggings off, that set her off again, she freaked and threw a fit. She finally, reluctantly got in the car to go to school, but was sobbing by the time I dropped her off. Sigh. I wish there was injection I could give her that was a liquid form of "sleep".


If I had ten grand...

I would get every sqare inch of carpet and upholstery in my house professionally cleaned.

I would get N's car fixed and be free of all the hail-induced dents.

I'd buy myself some new running shoes that aren't falling apart, AND some new volleyball-only shoes.

I would schedule my root canal and go ahead and spring for four brand new veneers for my front teeth, and have them perfect and straight and not discolored, once and for all.

I would get shutters for all 3 west/south windows in my horribly hot loft, plus in the guest room downstairs.

I would build in a desk in the back corner of my living room that would match my kitchen, complete with the same granite countertop and overhead maple spice cabinets, with lighting underneath to facilitate homework-doing, and act as a landing spot for mail and cell phones and Ipods and Blackberrys and keys and coupons, other than my kitchen.

I would buy N a new, superfast laptop to go on said built-in desk, so bills could be paid downstairs, and all internet surfing and playing could be in a very open, common area instead of hidden up in my office upstairs. Then I could google to my heart's content WHILE watching my DVR'd shows.

I'd get rid of our sad, disgusting sectional and buy some very high-quality leather furniture for downstairs (Oh wait, I only said 10 grand? Make it 15.)

I'd pay to get all my clothes altered so they'd fit me JUST RIGHT. And I'd make Amberly take me shopping until we found some awesome boots for me to wear.

I'd buy myself a super cute new camera bag that would also act as a purse.

I'd hire an awesome babysitter like Rachel for a few days, and fly myself and hubby to Maryland for our 12th anniversary weekend, which is coming up, take my awesome new bag and boots and stay in a bed and breakfast somewhere in New Market, and eat as much crab soup at Dutch's Daughter as I possibly could.

SIGH... maybe we could cancel our cell phones, skip paying the mortgage, stop eating, stop driving anywhere, and turn off all the electricity in our house for two months. Then MAYBE. Just maybe...


Thursday thoughts.

• Birthdays came and went last week for the girls. No big hurrah this year at seven and nine years old, just a few small gifts and special meals with parents and grandparents. We'll make up for it big time next year and do a party up right for the big 2-digit "10" and biggie "8" birthdays.
• Conference started well with comfy nests made up on the floor, plenty of conference activities and notebooks - but ended the way it always does with and the cheap toys broken already, and some good naps.
• Nonnie and Papa visited over the weekend; we attempted to watch conference and got a few things repaired, but mostly played a whole lot of games of Bump-O. Papa made the game for the girls for their birthdays, and MAN do they love it. It's a fixture on the kitchen table, at least for a while. We've already lost all the green marbles, though, oops.
• Made two Halloween wreaths over the weekend - pictures forthcoming.
• Cleaned out most of the fridge this week. Found not one, not two, but three tupperware full of adobo peppers (apparently I make CafĂ© Rio pork a lot, but never know what to do with the peppers afterward)
• We're on fall break this week, and as much as I thought we should spend a quiet week at home, I'm now trying everything I can do to avoid that, since "quietness" and "home from school" don't really go together after all. It's more along the lines of "screaming" and "chaos".
Monday: After I worked my triceps into a tizzy, ouch, we hung out with friends at an only slightly ghetto-ish indoor amusement park called Jeeperz or Jambo or something in Mesa - kids had a great time, and Mom could actually afford it with a $1 entrance special. We didn't get ripped off until we decided to buy tokens and let the kids play games, and then trade their tickets in for "prizes". Oh brother, how I hate those things. I had to carry J out of the place screaming because he'd changed his mind and wanted something different, and I had to listen to M whine for half the day Tues because she'd already lost her mini finger-skateboard. Sheesh. We spent dinner and an evening of decorating with some friends.
Tuesday: once I finally got going and finished my treadmill stint, we were off to the Children's Museum - and thank goodness we didn't get there a moment sooner; it was packed. It did clear out after lunchtime, though, and we were able to hang out practically by ourselves in the afternoon. We then braved the torrential downpour (of rain, and of M's complaining) and headed over to gymnastics. I dropped the crew off and decided to make a quick trip to Joann's - wow, was I ever dumb. I got stuck in major rain and traffic and flooding and UGH, it took me forever. At least J got a nap in the process.
• I've been thinking about our little gymnastics habit lately - and how it's more of a convenient habit for me, to take turns carpooling and have an excuse to shop Tempe/Ahwatukee every couple of weeks, versus the girls actually learning and progressing and getting exercise. M still can't do a decent cartwheel - after two years. I'm not criticizing the place nor the teachers there. It's just a matter of barely being able to afford just one hour class per week. This habit may be ending when 2010 does, I think.
• Storm score: Hail, 3, Carters, 0. N's pretty new car has about 2 dozen dents now, and our stucco on our house has golf-ball sized chunks out of it in several places. Window screens on the east side of the house are torn up as well. At least we don't have any broken windows.
Wednesday: I found that it's actually do-able to take all three kids shopping with me. Well, at least to Walmart and Target, anyway. I had a dentist appt. in the afternoon where they took more x-rays - I have an abcessed front tooth that will need a root canal shortly, and I'm hoping to get four veneers in the process as well. We'll see how much of it the insurance will pay for... I don't have high hopes.
• A has an ortho appt in a few minutes, so I guess it's time to shower & dress for the day (yes, it's after noon)


Here you go Tara.

I met a slightly older version of myself while in San Diego last weekend - and she was oh-so fabulous. These pics are for her. Tara - I haven't done my album yet, but here's the photo I copied to make my stand. Mine looks just like this. Everything is from Michael's.

To-Do List

Seems I can always get more done when I can SEE a LIST written down - and since I tend to sit at my computer several times a day, and can't keep track of a piece of paper to save my life, here it goes - warning: boring post...

Set up P/T conference with A's teacher
Send registration info back
Follow up on RPM folders
Finish Halloween decorating
Paint more snakes and finish Medusa wreath
Pay tithing on Sunday
Buy new toothpaste for the girls
Get more water softener salt
New bathroom rugs from Target
Get Kerri's vinyl cut and sent off
Finish sewing J's quilt together
List PB dots on Ebay
Schedule carpet cleaning
Get remaining pics printed for scrapbook pages
Print out journaling blocks and put on
Get root canal scheduled (pleasant, right?)


Love my girls.

No I'm not referring to the ones I gave birth to, but rather the ones I choose to hang out with whenever I can. hee hee! I spent a glorious weekend in SoCal with my best gal pals - and even though we seemed to take the heat from Phoenix WITH us instead of escaping it, we still had a great time. We learned all sorts of interesting things about each other {And what was heard in the Armada STAYS in the Armada!}  We spent hours cricut-ing (is that a verb?), swapping ideas for, and creating scrapbook pages (I think D got 20 pages completed!)  We ate great food in and out of restaurants; I had a pazookie for the first time and will for certain be ordering the Pasta Rustica again the next time I visit Macaroni Grill.  J's dad should seriously open a little gourmet sandwich shop. Remembering my asiago cheese-bacon-tomato-avacado-turkey sandwich is making my mouth water right now.  And by the way, Boston Miller has to be the most entertaining kid I know. "Speaking of whatever you were just talking about.... " And "Get ready for the funniest joke you've ever heard. You're going to laugh your head off..."! Too cute! Thanks Ashlee for sharing your boys with us for lunch!

We also spent a whole morning wandering around at garage sales where I don't know if I found what I was after, exactly, but I did come home with lots of totally random treasures - including a couple of rubber snakes (project to be unveiled at a later date).  Here's all of our stuff so artfully packed back into D's car. DANG, I told myself I would never stand next to Amberly in pictures anymore. Oops.

We could have use another couple of days away, as there was still many, many things on our to-do list that we didn't get to - pedicures, bra shopping, haircuts, card-making classes, beach, pool, reading.... but hey, there's always next year...that is, if J's Mom and Dad will have us back...

This was my favorite pic from the weekend - Here I am with my fat calves in an awesome motorized recliner on wheels at a garage sale. The homeowner had crafted it himself out of a wheelchair's mechanics. It had a joystick to move it around and everything, and even a spot to hold your ice chest full of beverages INSIDE the chair. Super cool. I was impressed with the guy's ingenuity, to say the least.


So many crafts to make, so little time.


Dare I say it??


We will stay in Pull-ups at night for a while, but he really hasn't needed those either, so it's really more for my peace of mind when he tends to drink too much at night. J is awesome, if I do say so myself.


Get on board the Potty Train!

99% of you reading probably couldn't care less about this particular posting - so feel free to click away to some other, more interesting website now.
Many of you who have spoken to me in the last few weeks know that I'm obsessed with potty training at the moment, and I'm bound and determined to make this work with J.  Right now. As of a week ago, he protested (read: yelled at the top of his lungs) any time I tried to put him in anything but a diaper. He wanted no part of pullups or of "big boy" underwear. I knew this was the week to do it, so we casually ran out of diapers over the weekend, and only had a few pull-ups left by the beginning of the week. On Monday, we went and picked out some new big boys for him - and even though he kept trying to take them out of our cart and put them back on the shelf, we still came home with lots of fun ones. Tuesday began the fun with Lightning McQueen! (He started off wanting to wear them all backwards, so the big characters were on the front instead of on his bum, funny)  I was thrilled that he would wear the things at ALL, but we had no successes that day. Wednesday and Thursday morning we went back to pullups because of our schedule, but starting Thursday afternoon we went cold turkey. Score was 3 successes, 2 accidents. Not too bad. Today's score was better with 4 successes, 2 accidents - and 2 of those successes were NOT AT HOME - yeah! He actually stayed dry from 3pm until bedtime. Awesome. I'm trying to keep this a positive experience for both of us. He gets a few M&Ms with every success, which is working pretty well so far. Don't judge me when you find out he's a sitter - it honestly didn't occur to me to have him stand up while he "went" - and now he absolutely won't. Oops. Wish us luck tomorrow - hopefully we'll have a #2 success soon too! He is great at telling us when he needs to go, and he's quite tired of us asking him every two seconds "Are you still dry? Do you need to go potty?"  but so far so good. I'm keeping him in Pull-ups for nighttime for now, because I have no idea how else to do it - he wakes up earlier than me and is always soaked by the time I get up. Any advice on how/when to do nighttime too?


Deirdre, will you make me one of these??

How can I score some ASU fabric/embroidered Sparky to create this reversible tote - anyone??


Thursday thoughts.

It's been a very good couple of weeks - why, you ask?
- Fitness challenge is OVER
- I read "Mockingjay" and though didn't love the ending, really, really ended up liking the series overall.
- J loves his preschool class and is so proud to show you his projects
- N got a promotion
- small miracle - I had a thought one morning to go get something out of my car, immediately, and I found J in my front seat. He had popped out several "M&Ms" from their packaging and had them all laid out, ready to eat. I don't know what eating half a dozen adult-strength antihistamines would have done to him, but I'm glad I got there in time so we didn't have to find out.
- my sore throat/cough only turned into a cold, versus a nasty strep throat or sinus infection
- N took all three kids to the cabin last weekend, and I had 48 hours to myself
- I was able to get a bunch of scrapbook pages finished up
- I went shopping on Saturday for MYSELF and actually found a few shirts to wear that don't have holes or stains - amazing
- Went out with some old girlfriends on Saturday night and had a great time eating mexican food, laughing at a Jesterz show - and then enjoying dessert at Yogurtland
- I went to church ALL by myself - and yes I was on time - and actually was able to pay attention to what was going on in sacrament meeting
- Washed and vacuumed my car and got all the cabin dirt off of it
- Got the yard cleaned up on Monday and it looks SO much better
- Enjoyed FHE with some friends on Monday night
- Got a couple of vinyl projects designed
- Was able to make MUCH progress on J's quilt thanks to Grandma
- Got my A/C fixed for FREE even though we were three weeks out of the warranty period
- Went and helped out in M's classroom today. I love her teacher!


I want to make

one of these - or at least something similar to it. I'm thinking little skulls or pumpkins instead of fans...

15"–17" grapevine wreath
Dry twigs
Wired candy corn, spiders, skeletons, fans of orange paper
Spool of fishing line
Artificial web
Small skeleton
Insert dry twigs in a vine wreath.
Tie on wired candy corn, spiders, skeletons, fans of orange paper, etc. with fishing line.
Drape artificial web over wreath.
Tie on skeleton at bottom of wreath.


Merry merry

Here's my project I'm teaching for Super Saturday in October. Cost will be no more than $15 (still looking for my best tin option)  Size is 12" wide by 9" tall. Let me know if you want one!


Something else I want to make.

This time, for my girls, not for me! I love the pleats, and the elastic in the back, and the big bow in the front. Hey, I could probably even make this in tan or navy and have them wear it to school!



Next Project.


I have almost zero wall space in my kitchen, but I DO have a tall skinny strip of wall where this would be super cute. I would want it a tiny bit taller and add a couple of hooks at the bottom for keys. Is anyone else interested in making one of these??


Revisiting an Old Idea...

My girls would LOVE to have their own rooms, but it ain't happening in this house. A thought of this great idea a few days ago to build a platform to put her bed and bookshelf on... so I sighed a great sigh and then I drew her up the plan that's been in my head for two years, to make HER bed into a loft-style, and stick M's bed underneath. Of course, the girls love the idea. I absolutely adore the beds they have now, though, and don't have the $1000++ it would take to buy a new loft bed contraption brand new. (Contraption? Sheesh. How old am I?) SO- - I want to take what we have and re-build it into what we want.

This is what we have. I have two identical head & footboards thanks to my MARVELOUS dad. See the distressed paint and cute routed detail on the headboard and footboard? See the awesome turning on all the legs? SIGH. What I need is THIS (above) style, that we already have, in THIS (below) type of functionality, at just the right height so A won't get decapitated by the ceiling fan. Here's the type of 4x4 ugliness to be found online:

Any ideas? Any assistants willing to sign up to help me with this project? I'm thinking I want to use the same headboard, but I just need new POSTS on all four corners, but bigger, sturdier - and TURNED like the ones we have, with finials on top - - - fence posts perhaps?? and then duplicate the footboard 3 more times, and stack those into a "ladder" on the end. Of course I'd need to brace the back like they have in this bottom picture too...


Reading List

I was just perusing my "reading history" on the library website. This is most, but not all, of what I've consumed the last four or five months. Holy cow, no wonder why my house is so dirty. MOST of these I would recommend.   : )

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

The Absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian by Alexie, Sherman

Confessions of a shopaholic by Kinsella, Sophie. - - This whole Shopaholic series is so fun, I giggled all the way through it.

Shopaholic takes Manhattan by Kinsella, Sophie.

Shopaholic ties the knot by Kinsella, Sophie.

Shopaholic & sister by Kinsella, Sophie.

Shopaholic & Baby by Kinsella, Sophie
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Dahl, Roald- - Books that have been made into movies always pique my interest, but after reading this we did NOT see the movie. 

The undomestic goddess by Kinsella, Sophie. - Not the best of hers.

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks - This was my favorite book of his.

Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks
Can you keep a secret? by Kinsella, Sophie. - Again, not her best.
Heat wave by Richard Castle - AWESOME. Can't wait til there's more from whoever the heck wrote this!
Wayside School gets a little stranger by Sachar, Louis
Legally blonde by Brown, Amanda.
The goose girl by Hale, Shannon. - Took quite a while for me to get into this one, but once I did I was hooked. Like where it ended up.
Hunger Games by Collins, Suzanne - - double wow

Catching Fire by Collins, Suzanne - -  wow
- oh man, these are the most intense, gripping books I've read in a long time. I'm awaiting the release of "Mockingjay" in a couple of weeks with bated breath...

The Lightning Thief by Riordan, Rick. - LOVE LOVE this series. So much fun to read. My 8-year-old is OBSESSED with greek mythology now after reading these Percy Jackson books. She read a couple of them twice! 

The sea of monsters by Riordan, Rick.
The Titan's curse by Riordan, Rick.

The battle of the Labyrinth by Riordan, Rick.
The last Olympian by Riordan, Rick.
Twenties girl : a novel by Kinsella, Sophie. - awesome, awesome. If you've read Sophie Kinsella you know she likes to sprinkle the "F" bomb in a little too often, but I think this book is probably her best.

I have just started "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett - not sure about that one yet

The rest of these are in queue to be read after "The Help" is over. Please, somebody stop me.

This is where I leave you by Tropper, Jonathan
Charlie St. Cloud, Ben Sherwood
The Devil in the white city : murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America 
The Secret Short Life of Bree Tanner, Stephanie Meyer 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins



I get it.

Why a LOT of people want to move out of our slightly ghetto-ish area. But why they want to move away from me, I'm not sure exactly, because really, I am delightful. Just ask me. I just wish they would have all moved to the same flippin' AREA, at least. Check this out, off the top of my head (I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting) :

Rockwoods - Gilbert (yes, I know it's been a while but I'm still bitter about not having a carpool buddy)
Lisonbees - Laveen
Reissners - where did they go again?
Goodmans - North Carolina, but they missed me, so they moved back to Laveen.
Stephens - Chandler
Parmenters - Colorado
Evans - Gilbert
Tryons - Queen Creek
Millers - San Diego
Eagars - central Phoenix
Robinsons - Northeast Mesa
Harlows - Washington
Hatches - Avondale
Shermans - Ahwatukee
Fullmers - Chandler (hey, at least they can hang with the Stephens)
Bruces - leaving us soon for Paradise Valley
and I swear, if the Austins move to three different places I just might break down and cry.

SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE??? These are all my friends (or at least people I thought were amazing to be around) that I used to see on a weekly basis, if not more often! Why, oh why couldn't they all have coordinated and at least have moved to the same TOWN??


Heath & Cheri

Remember the wedding invites I designed like a month ago? The deed is done, they're married and on their honeymoon now. HOW CUTE ARE THEY, HUH? Check out the one of Shane and his brand new nephew, Trenton. Both he and Lindsey are slightly more than smitten with him. You could say they are in "deep smit" I guess.