Happenings this month.

• Wedding. My nephew and his sweet wife Sarah got married three weeks ago. So excited and happy for them; they're a great couple. We had the luncheon after the wedding in my backyard, which I must say is very well suited for a big party! Food was great, weather was perfect. We hung around all afternoon and snacked on chips and played games. Fun. Favorite quote of the day was from J - he came up to me while I was sitting at the table and touched my arm... "Mommy I wuuuv you... (pause)... do you want a soda?" Me: "Why Josh, do YOU want a soda?" J - "Yes." It was too funny. Juliana's pictures of the event are super cute, too. I need to download my photos and edit them and see if I got any good ones as well.
• Landscaper. It was time to hire someone, since N no longer has time to do anything outside of work, let alone mess with our yard. The guy's really good - and so you get what you pay for, right? Once the yard is in shape and new trees are planted this spring, we'll be looking for someone less expensive to continue.
• Road Trip. The kids and I headed down to Safford the weekend after the wedding to attend the reception. It was decorated beautifully, lots of white, lots of Christmas trees with white lights and touches of purple everywhere. Nice. Since Sarah's Dad is a DJ, of course there was dancing at the reception. Got the kids out dancing with me and my niece Cherie - they had a great time. M's favorite was the Cupid Shuffle. Nonnie Jarvis was SO CUTE out there dancing! And yes, we did the macarena. And the electric slide. Which is kind of tough in a pencil skirt and high heeled boots! J kept vying for the attention of my camera while he danced.
• Painting. Of course! N is WAY ahead of me, and has finished rolling most of the main area in the house now, so I still have lots of ceilings/baseboards/door frames to cut in paint around to catch up. It finally looks like we've made some progress downstairs! Everything is looking CLEAN now, which is great. Once it comes time to do trim and doors and ceilings, I think I want to hire someone - I'm about out of steam to tackle all of that!
• Stitches. I stabbed my finger making dinner the other night and ended up at Urgent Care to get three stitches. The tetanus shot hurt for a good three days afterward. I guess I'm supposed to be keeping the stitches dry - well, you tell me how the laundry and dishes and cleaning and bathing and feeding of children is all supposed to get done then? Nope. I'm just trying to keep it clean. But dry? Impossible.
• Reading. In full force around here again. A hardly does anything else while she's home. I don't know how much she is actually comprehending when she consumes 300+ page books in a day, but she certainly enjoys it. Need to find some kind of incentive because I want her to WRITE something about each book afterward, to help with her takeaway. She is not interested in a mom-daughter book club, but I am!! Need to think about how I can get her on board with that idea. M has actually started reading a lot more, too. Judy Moody books are just about her speed/size right now. J is learning to read too! He is constantly figuring out the buh-buh-beginning ("B!") sounds of lots of words. Working on ending sounds, rhyming, etc. He has a hard time distinguishing between "b"s and "d"s and "p"s. And "g"s is confusing too, with the different sounds it makes! Giraffe, ring, garage... you know.
• Registration. My baby is all signed up for kindergarten, wow. Debating whether to send him half- or full-day. Wish I could do half for the first semester, and whole day for the second!!
* Shots. As of today J has been poked five times in the last seven days. He's finally all caught up on his vaccines, but the flu shot made him sick, darnit. He's currently taking a nap, enabling this blog posting session.
• Shutters. Aaaaah, I know it's a total indulgence, but shutters have to be one of my top 10 "things I love" in life. Seriously. Now we have two more in the family room downstairs. Which makes my kitchen look even shabbier! Ha. Love the quality of light in there now - just makes me want to lay down and read a book all the time!
• New glasses. Hallelujah, they're on their way. Hopefully I can pick them up Monday, if not today. Let's hope that I can actually read with both eyes open now. Just getting a new Rx, sticking with the same frames, heavens, don't want to go through that selection nightmare anytime soon.
• Gymnastics. We've started up again as of this week - this time including J in tumbling too. I'm going to take each month at a time, and evaluate whether it's worth it. For A? Definitely. The other two? Not so sure.
• Pool. We've started thinking about the "epic pool remodel of 2012". I have some fab ideas of what it could look like - of course, I have no idea if we can afford any ideas at all, let alone any of my fab ones.
• Vinyl. I wouldn't call it a steady stream of business, or even a trickle... maybe a slow drip? I've had a couple of custom orders each week keeping me going. As of this week I've gone international, ha, and shipped my first order to Canada. The shipping cost was more than the sign I shipped though, ridonkulus.
• To-do list: Lots of finishing touches: cutting in paint, a ceiling fan to be installed, outlet covers to be put back on, doorknobs/locks installed, outdoor lights put back up, weather stripping put on door jambs, smoke detectors installed, and finally, the last of Christmas decorations to be put away!
• Calling. This is more on the to-do list than the "happenings" list. I need to focus and have more of a plan/structure with these activity day girls, it's kind of a disorganized mess every time we get together!


A poem.

Just found one of M's school papers. It's a poem entitled "Wishes"

I wish I liked chocolate ice cream.
I wish I were taller.
I wish someday my sister
would just be smaller.

I wish when I am at school
my class would just be quiet
I wish my brother Josh would be quiet
Just like my friend Whyet (Okay that spelling is hilarious)

I wish that I could read
Just like my sister.
I wish they wouldn't
Call my dad a mister.

I've got such heaps of wishes
I've only said a few
I wish that I could wake up some morning
and find they'd all come true.


2011 - the rundown

Since I didn't get a letter written with my Christmas cards this year, here's the lowdown on what we did last year.

January saw us anxiously awaiting an auction on what we thought was our "dream home" in Tempe. Well, we didn't end up getting that one but neither of us was sad about it one bit - so I guess it wasn't our dream home after all. Just a couple of weeks later N ended up finding our REAL dream home - this time in Mesa, not in Tempe. From the first time I walked through it, I knew that THIS was the place we needed to raise our kids. January also saw me spending A LOT of time on my computer designing stuff for twovinylchicks.com, and even MORE time on my treadmill. I logged running more than 100 miles that month. Whew.

In February we said goodbye to Grandma Valentine at her funeral in Utah. Bittersweet, to know that this fine woman would finally be reunited with her husband, but missing her being around again too. Almost all the family was able to be there, which was fun. We're still laughing about some of those late-night games in the hotel room. We got to bring one of Grandma's dressers home with us to Arizona, which I've since had re-done and painted in turquoise. It's absolutely awesome in A's new room.

March saw me getting into packing/purging/decorating mode. Collected a hundred different ideas for our new house (and this was before I got on Pinterest!) Also stayed current on all things American Idol, of course. Spent most of Spring Break down in Safford, hiding out in Papa's wood shop cutting, routing, and painting a ton of vinyl signs. I also think it was this month that A got her braces off.

In April we finally got a closing date for the house, and busied ourselves with getting our house in Phoenix renter-ready. We listed it and only had one family come and look at it. Turns out, they are THE.PERFECT.RENTERS. We consider ourselves very, very lucky and blessed that we haven't had to deal with any serious rental property issues. I also spent much of April trying to figure out what school to send the kids to come fall.

May was a whirlwind of driving back and forth, back and forth from Phoenix to Mesa, taking load after load over to the new house. Also in May N went on a big business trip and left me holding the bag trying to coordinate a bunch of end-of-year activities at the school, and clean and pack up our house. I spent the last week of school commuting from Mesa to take the girls every morning and every afternoon. I still can't figure out how we got it all done, but that house was fixed, patched, sparkling, touched up, and beautiful when we handed over the keys. We also had the exterior of the house painted too, as if we didn't have enough to pay for that month. Also took a whirlwind nightmare trip with the Other Chick to California for three days to hang out at the beach. With all of our kids. In one vehicle. Will not be repeating that anytime soon!

In June we finally were able to turn our attention to the new house... and boy did it need our attention. Let's just say it was in pretty rough condition, and leave it at that. I threw a "Nemo" themed birthday party for J and invited all of our SoPho friends over to swim, which was a little ambitious two weeks after moving in! We spent the month performing triage on the house, painting, fixing plumbing leaks, replacing the garbage disposal, putting up the first of several ceiling fans, trying to get the pool functioning, painting, etc. The kids and I spent every morning at the Stapley pool while the girls did swim team, and J had his lessons. We also hosted lots and lots of barbecues. About halfway through the month J finally realized he could swim without floaties and was suddenly FREE in our pool. Too fun. The girls also spent about a month in a synchronized swimming camp that was super fun. We'll definitely be doing that again!

We spent the week of July 4th at Newport Beach with all the Carters. Ahhhhh, I love that place! Seven days of relaxing and snoozing and reading on the sand wasn't nearly long enough, and made me realize that I need a beach house of my own there! Got to spend time with cousins and had a blast playing games, sand volleyball, riding bikes, you name it! We still had a few more weeks of swim team once we got back to reality in Arizona, and we sweated our way through swim meets every week. While staying at our house for few days, my dad gave us a scare ... his defibrillator shocked him several times within a few minutes and he ended up going to the hospital in the middle of the night. Good to know that the paramedics are only two minutes away. Several of us had lots of dental work during this last year too... M ended up getting four teeth pulled. Curse these huge teeth and tiny mouths! S re-read several Harry Potter books in order to be ready for HP7 part 2... which she saw at a midnight premiere with several friends and had so much fun! The end of July brought us to Safford once more to watch my nephew and his wife get sealed in the Gila Valley Temple. A also somehow ended up sick with pneumonia in the middle of the summer, when no one else we know had it. (?)

I never thought I'd made it to August and school starting, but somehow we did. We decided on Franklin West school for the kids, and I think we made the right choice. The girls of course eased right into the curriculum and pace and have made a ton of friends. After school started I began exercising vigorously again with a friend, and started seeing some progress... but also did something funky to my knee. A started playing the violin in the school orchestra and has LOVED every minute of it. J started preschool at Discovery Club and loves it almost as much as his Mommy does. We spent every free weekend painting.

September found us in full swing of PAINTING. I swear, the theme of 2011 was PAINT for us. By this point we had all six bedrooms painted, as well as the laundry room. Now it was time to pick colors for the main areas and exterior of the house. Sheesh, talk about indecision! I got everyone's opinion I could get a hold of, and finally went with it... and luckily the HOA approved it. We ditched M on her 8th birthday like the good parents we are and took a trip to Maryland. Bliss. Saw old friends, ate great seafood, saw the sights, slept, worked out, ran around National Harbor... it was awesome. Two days after we got home I threw a birthday party for M and 8 of her friends. Swimming, pizza, minute-to-win-it games, cupcakes... oh, did I mention I broke my toe an hour before the party? Yeah. Not fun. Thank goodness Grandma came over to pinch hit, because I could hardly walk.

October brought A's 10th birthday and M's baptism. Lots of family and friends were there to make it special. I was still hobbling around a bit and still couldn't put a regular shoe on my foot with the broken toe. That, in addition to my twisted knee pretty much halted all exercise for me, which was not good timing with the holidays on the horizon. The girls started piano lessons in October and have really liked it. Patience to practice songs JUST RIGHT still eludes us, as well as timing. We spent fall break on a "staycation" at a resort in Scottsdale. For FREE. Love our timeshare! I finally got my new TEETH in October too; veneers that had been in planning stages for years because of a childhood mouth trauma finally became a reality. I love that I don't have to photoshop my teeth ever again in pictures! Exterior house painting finally began in October too. Now, three months, 40 plus gallons of paint, new garage doors, lots of blood, sweat and tears and a boom truck rental later, I can say that it's pretty much finished. For Halloween, we dressed up as Alice in Wonderland characters, with the girls being heart playing cards, J as the king, me as the Queen, and Daddy as the Mad Hatter.

In November, we spent our 13th anniversary going to see the Blue Man group. So much fun, I really do love seeing shows. We hosted Thanksgiving and were able to have my parents come up, as well as have friends over. Menu, company and leftovers were all fabulous. Starting in November the vinyl orders and projects started trickling in and kept me busy for the next month.

December saw me and the other Chick participate in a couple of craft shows, where we actually did pretty well! N got into a new position at work - - and the time he has spent has been even more intense than the bishopric calling ever was. I'm getting used to never having him around. At least the kids are older and more self-sufficient now. Between vinyl stuff and Christmas cards, ward party, birthday party, gift-getting and making, recitals, winter programs, parties and all the other December stuff, I was pretty much wasted come Christmas morning. We took off the day after Christmas and spent a few days in Safford recuperating. And, wouldn't you know it, I was sick by new year's. I'm just glad I made it through the month!

Now it's 2012. It's been 20 years since I graduated from high school; my classmates have been planning a reunion - yikes. My slug body that hasn't exercised regularly in months is feeling old lately. Probably because I'm addicted to soda, desserts and any dark chocolate and peppermint combinations I can find. The kids are doing awesome. They play outside every day with friends in the neighborhood, and ride their bikes and scooters constantly. We have started to hit every library event, Lowe's workshop and any other free entertainment Mommy can find. We have much, oh, so much to still do on this house, but I think we've made a significant dent in the to-fix list considering it's only been six months. I've tried really hard to maintain my old friendships, so therefore haven't really made many new friends here in Mesa. Overall I'm totally content with our life. We are blessed beyond measure. If you've made it through to the bottom of this longest post ever, then I owe you some kind of treat. Peace out.


I hate clutter.

New year, new themes for the blog. Clutter drives me nuts, both in my home and others. There are some spaces in my house (and in my garage, and on my hard drive, and in my business) that seriously need some attention in 2012.

Need some motivation to de-clutter? My best tip is to schedule a party... it gives you a deadline to get projects done and spaces clear, and it REALLY helps to look at your house/car/yard through someone else's eyes. Found these tips in an article that made me think of several people I know...

1. Clutter Keeps You From Being Productive

Keeping disorganized piles (OR ORGANIZED PILES, for that matter) of stuff lying around your home is a mental and emotional drain. Seeing those piles reminds you of things you need to do, but drains your energy and motivation to do them. Clutter makes it difficult to focus and makes it difficult to find the items you need to complete tasks.

When your house is cluttered you may start a project only to find that you are missing an item. While looking for the item, you may get distracted by the piles of other stuff. Rather than finish your original project, you spend the rest of the afternoon dealing with those piles.

Few things irritate me more than to have to look for something that I KNOW is buried SOMEWHERE. Ugh, if I just had LESS STUFF this wouldn't be as big of an issue! Time to de-clutter!

2. Clutter Costs Money

Clutter not only prevents you from being productive, it also costs you money. When you are constantly distracted and wearied by the disorganized chaos in your home, you don’t have the energy to cook, plan or do other time and money saving activities. You may also spend extra money on gas and purchases because you “lose” items in your home or you forget that you have them.

When the clutter really begins to pile up, you may choose to spend time away from home to avoid it. Being “busy” away from home costs money: eating out because you’re too busy to cook, buying unnecessary items because you’re in the stores too often, and gas money driving to all the places you go to avoid being at home.

3. Clutter Keeps You Stuck Emotionally

Many times we hold on to stuff rather than dealing with our true feelings of fear or loss. We fear that we won’t have enough in the future or we fear that we will need the item we are holding onto, but we won’t be able to replace it.

The truth is that most items can easily be replaced for very little money. Is it worth the emotional drain of keeping the item rather than risking the money you may have to pay later if you actually need it? The freedom gained by dealing directly with fear and grief is far superior to the bondage of trying to keep those feelings buried.

If you assess your situation and realize that you need to get rid of some things, don’t be overwhelmed. Instead:

::Grab a box for give-away items, a trashcan for throw-away items and set a timer for ten minutes. Clean one area until the timer goes off.

::If you declutter one area a day for only ten minutes, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in the next few weeks. The clean spaces in your home will fuel your motivation to continue.

My Easy Life.

Yesterday our relief society lesson was on trials. The first question posed by the teacher was "Who here has an easy life?" Ummm, I was the only one to raise my hand in the room, and I was totally surprised by that. Yes, maybe it was a rhetorical question because everyone on the planet has their own set of trials, but I do truly feel like I have a pretty blessed and easy life - I mean come on, I know people with REAL problems, and compared to them, my life is cake. Would you have answered "yes" to that question??