Monday, August 29, 2011

Free at last!

Well, something like that.

I don't like to talk about it much, but DH and I borrowed nearly all of the down payment for our house from my parents. Not a fact I'm proud of, but given the time and the circumstances, it was the right thing to do.

Yesterday, four and a half years later, I paid it off! My mom controls people with money, a fact I knew going into the deal and now I'm no longer in debt to her. I'm sure that she's happy and proud of me for paying her back in full (plus interest) and so quickly (5.5 years ahead of schedule) but she probably is a little sad knowing that with that check I cut the last real string she had on me.

I decided to pay it off yesterday because it was her birthday and my SIL made dinner for everyone. I made my mom a purse* as her gift and wrapped up the check in the 2011 payment statement and put it in one of the pockets. But all passive-aggressiveness aside, I guarantee you that loan was the best investment they've made in 4.5 years** so we all benefited from it.

I have been itching to pay that off. I'd intended to pay it off at the beginning of the year but we knew that my job probably wasn't going to last so we shifted things around and decided it was better to pay the car off first. So we got that paid for in January (!!!) and now we've paid off my parents too!!! Now our only debt is with the bank for our house and land. Debt sucks and must be eliminated! Die debt, die!


* I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture of the purse. It was Butterick #5109(B) (the lower left one) made with black pleather exterior and pink plaid lining and silver rings on the handles. It was cute, but the shape turned out a lot more triangular then the picture shows, and I didn't love the shape of it.
(The only scrap I have left of the lining fabric)


**That's not to say that my parents aren't savvy with their money, but, ay craramba, the economy really has sucked for the last several years.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sometimes I surprise myself

I'm on a constant hunt to find new and exciting things to do with Michael these days. Not so much for him, but for me. I'm the kid always complaining that there's nothing to do.

So I got this idea the other day that I should take Michael biking out at this park with a lake nearby. I've never really spent much time there and they have a bunch of trails and it would probably be a lot of fun. Except that the trails are mountain bike trails, i.e. skill is required. And since I don't have much skill I thought I need to check this out before showing up with a toddler.

Any chance this is toddler friendly?

So DH took the afternoon off so that I could go to my therapy appointment and I loaded up the bike and planned to ride after my appointment.

First I forgot how to get to the stupid park. Winning? Oh and I also forgot my helmet in my haste to get loaded up. Smart.

I got out there and burned out on the first real dip in the road. (In my defense, it was a probably one of the biggest dips that I encountered on the trail but I still shouldn't have gone down on it). I cut the back of my calve and jammed up my rear break. I should have taken this as a sign and turned around and left but I freed up the break and dusted myself off and kept going.

The trail was about 3.5 miles and I planned to take the first shortcut and leave but I missed the shortcut. Then I planned to take the second shortcut but I thought I'd missed it and further along than I was and went by it because I was worried that it was the connector to the next trail set. Then I got my chain stuck up in the front gear and had to stop and fix it. At this point I finally figured out where I was. I was not nearly as far along as I thought I was (for the record I only thought I was that far along because the landmark descriptors were vague). Note to self: Bring your compass next time. Note to self: Find your compass. Note to self: You are a terrible Girl Scout.

I got my chain fixed up and went along. I did successfully identify where my trail connected to the other trail and I made the right turn and stayed on my trail. If I had screwed that up, I'd of never gotten out of there.

Finally when I got to a part of the trail that was close to the road I decided to cut through the woods and get on the road and go back to my car. I wanted to keep going but I still had about a mile of trail left and I was getting tired and wanted to get home. But I really wanted to keep going! I didn't feel like too much of a quitter because I made it a lot farther than I would have if I'd found that first shortcut.

I was very happy when I made it out to the road and rode the smooth pavement back to my car with views of the lake off the the side.



Nice leg, Crash.

I was hoping that even if I couldn't bike the trail with Michael maybe I could push the Chariot on it. It would have been doable until I got to the "boardwalk" which was a 1.5ft wide bridge over a 50ft long rough patch. So no, Michael will definitely not be seeing this trail anytime soon.

But the cool thing, even though I suck (hard), it was still a lot of fun. I want to do it again. I was afraid that I was going to fall and crack my head open the whole time and at one point I called my husband to make sure he knew which trail I was on so that I didn't have a "127 Hours" story go down (although it's a small area, so it'd be more like "127 Minutes").

So if we can get it together we are all going back out there tomorrow morning and going to try to push Michael on the nature trail, which should be reasonable. (But I'm also excited because the nature trail intersects with another mountain bike trail and I want to scope it out!)

I don't get a lot of time to myself these days. When I finally get a break from Michael I usually just go to Joann's. So I'm really happy that I found something else to do that was so satisfying and fun. I felt really happy tonight and I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the cut on my leg :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cute Photos - In lieu of substance

Please accept photos of cute children and pets in lieu of an actual post.


Ambrosia is enjoying the morning sun.


Her peace has been disturbed.


Poor Kitty :(


Is he gone?


Too sun-drunk to care for long.


I guess she finally found a comfortable position.


Michael is rewarded for his kindness to the kitty with a fudge-cicle.


Hmmm....


This is pretty good!


Ain't I a stinker?


Ought-oh! It's getting messy!


When they get this messy, there's really only one thing to do...


Hose 'em down.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Development Explosion!

It seems like there is so much going on in my head lately. One of the reasons I shy away from my blog is that I can't focus in on a topic (and that I don't have the time). And while I still have more things I'd like to blog about, today I just have to share Michael's explosive development lately. What, I'm a proud mom, so sue me.

With Michael things move real slow for awhile and I find myself wondering if anything is getting through and then he'll have a bunch of development all at once. When this happens I'm always just in awe of how cool this kid is. It blows my mind. But lately, wow, it's just crazy.

His vocab seems to be growing exponentially. He's still really hard to understand on most things, but he's spitting out new words every hour that he's awake. It shocks me the most when he says a word that we don't use a lot. It's like, "Whoa, when did I even say that last?" I think I will have to be a little more careful with swearing now too (not that precocious cursing isn't adorable).

He put two words together for the first time the other day. He said "read book." Or course it sounded more like "eed bokh" but really very understandable (and he was shoving a book in my lap too).

He's counting, well not really, but sort of.... The other day I was pulling the diapers out of the dryer and counting them as I put them in the basket (I always do this to keep an eye on how many diapers he goes through a day). I pulled out the 5th one and tossed it in the basket and stopped to dig deeper in the dryer and before I could get the next diaper he said, "six." I figured this was a fluke so I tried it again the next time I was doing the diapers. I stopped after the 4th and he said "five." Then today I was waiting on him to do something and I started counting (I count to three and if is doesn't do what I ask he goes to the naughty chair). I said "one" then he said "two." But he wouldn't do three.

Of course this doesn't mean that he can count, he just knows what word comes next. But he maybe able to count to 2 because I handed him two crayons today and he said "two." We count to two all the time, so that one would be on for what he's learned.

I've been working with him on his colors. Apparently it's pretty difficult for kids to learn their color words (this article is interesting, I'm going to have to try what they suggest), but Michael seems to have blue and orange down. He doesn't have a clue on the rest of them, but those two he seems to get right most of the time all of a sudden. Oh yeah, and he knows brown like a pro, courtesy of Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?

He started spinning in circles the other day. He will spin around and say "circle," he even got down on the floor and started drawing circles in the carpet with this finger.

So maybe this isn't that extraordinary, but when it all happens within a half week time span, it just leaves me wondering "What will he do next?"

The one place he isn't wowing my pants off is his motor skills. This kid is clumsy. Painfully clumsy. He bumps into so much stuff you'd think he was a pinball. And this leads to a lot of tears, which is annoy, honestly. It just really gets old quickly watching a toddler sob, red-faced on the floor every time you turn around. There are days I just feel like bubble wrapping him and sticking him in his crib. This kid has got to get better balance or more careful or tougher.

Ok, I'll STFU now.


First Oreo


Scribble


Stacking TP



Whoops!


Ugly crying

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Clutter

I've been busy sewing up a storm again, but I'll blog about that some other time. Today I'd rather discuss clutter.

I don't remember exactly how we got on to it the other day, but me and my husband were driving to the store (with Michael) and I was telling him about how I'd quit keeping a spreadsheet of my grocery receipts because I was feeling it was more like 'organization for organization's sake' and not doing anything to actually help me. In fact the pile of receipts laying on the table waiting for me to be taken care of was causing me to let the table pile up with other clutter faster than I would like and that was stressing me out.

But this led into a larger conversations about clutter in all parts of our lives. My mother used to always bring up a quote from some pundit (Suze Orman I think) that, "...physical clutter mirrors financial clutter." For me, that statement has always rang true. Not that my financial clutter has ever been so bad that is has caused problems, but it definitely needs tidying up from time to time. Even the kitchen table problem... junk gets on the table, then mail gets on the table, then it gets forgotten about on the table, then you're already late walking out of the house one morning and you have to run back inside and dig through all the crap on the table to find the bill you know is due today.

And just think about hoarders... you know their finances are as terrible as their homes.

But beyond finances, my physical clutter is a barometer for my mood. I think that's true for a lot of other people too (especially women).

In fact I was able to explain to him that he deals with his emotions the same way he deals with his finances and personal clutter. He thought about it for a minute and had to agree with me.

When the house gets really messy (which happens frequently with a toddler) my tension level starts to rise. I start to get frustrated with what I see. I start to worry about a neighbor stopping by and being disgusted by my bra hanging off the back of the couch. I'm not that neat of a person, but I like to pretend that I am.

I was listening to the radio the other day and they were saying that a survey had asked men and women what the ultimate status symbol was. For men it was a prestigious job. For women it was a beautiful home. Whether you completely agree with the results of that survey or not, having a nice home is certainly something that most people value.

And that made me think about the constant bits I hear and read discussing the division of household labor. I wonder if it's such a big deal because having a nice home is so important to so many people and causes stress for them when things get out of order, like me. If your home is how you think other people see you then having it messy and cluttered is a problem. And feeling like you're not getting help at home makes you upset.

When DH and I were engaged I asked him if he could spruce up my apartment a little the day that I was going to be gone for my bachelorette party. When I got home that night my place was sparkling! He had done so much more than I asked him to do. I was so happy and impressed. And it was even better because my maid of honor was with me and saw how wonderful my man and home were. And today it's the same. I'd take coming home and being surprised by a freshly vacuumed floor over roses any day.

And that is one place that I have to give my husband serious props. He is great with house work. He is very willing to do the dishes or vacuum or laundry. He may not notice that the base boards or fan blades are covered with dust, but I appreciate what he does. And when I am tired and really need the rest but it's clearly my turn to do a chore he'll step up and do it without asking and that is love, imo. I try to reciprocate as well. It's just nice to get a break from something every once in a while.

Which goes back to the cleanliness of our homes causing stress. Having someone else treat you and remove the physical clutter also helps with the mental clutter for most people.

Now that I'm a SAHM I feel a lot of self-inflicted pressure to be Sally Homemaker but I can't handle the stress that I put on myself to be that person totally. So I have let it go. I feel bad that my husband doesn't spend more time with his feet kicked up in the recliner after a day's work but he doesn't need that to be happy but I do need him to do the dishes for me to be happy.

What do you think? Does clutter in one part of your life relate to clutter in another part?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No!

Michael started saying no today (probably because we keep telling him no). It's cute, so far.

And it was good timing because I checked out Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! from the library and it's pretty much the perfect book for a kid that says no a lot.

His vocabulary is really starting to take off. He'll say several new words a day and repeat many words we say. He can say almost every word in Baby's First Farm, and a couple that he can't say he can (loosely) sign (like he signs 'water' for 'watering can', good enough for me).

However, many of his words are very hard to understand. And he'll change how he pronounces things. He's been able to say 'hat' for a long time but for some reason today he's saying it more like 'how'.

He's also saying 'mama' and 'dada' and pointing to us when he says them all the time. Oh, it just melts my heart. Nothing is sweeter than hearing your child's voice say mama.

---

In other news... I went to my therapy session on Monday and my therapist asked me how I've been over the last week. I told her I've been so busy with projects that I haven't had time to think about anything else... no anxiety, no depression. And I've got a giant stack of projects in front of me so I'm still completely consumed with activities. I'm still undecided if not having to deal with emotions because I'm busy is healthy or just tabling the problem. That concern aside, I do think having projects that I enjoy is definitely positive, so I'm not going to think about it too much.