Friday, January 30, 2009

A Guide for Reading Twilight with a Toddler

Like many people (okay, most of them teenagers).....I have fallen in love with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series (I am 1/2 way through book 3 but have read book one and two 2x each). I have to admit that I was extremely skeptical at first. I usually stay away from books about vampires and didn't really see the purpose in getting caught up in this teenage craze. However after 4 people (who were over 28 and whom I respect) told me that I had to read it (and I was assured by my BF that I would love it) I gave in :) I am so glad that I did!!!

This guide is for those of you are not yet "sucked" up in the world that is Twilight. If you loved Harry Potter or like a good love story (with lots of action) or just want to relive your high school will love this book :)

What you will Need before you get Started on your Reading Journey

1. All 4 books (borrow or buy them, it is nice to have all 4 in your possession at once....that
way you won't have to wait long to jump into the next book)

2. Access to the Internet so you can read Midnight Sun online (this must be read after you read
Twilight and understand it is not yet complete)

3. A Facebook account so that you can reconnect with old High School classmates as you relive your high school years with Bella and Edward (yes I am on Team Edward).

4. Four weeks of time (not too many appointments, obligations, nights out etc.). You will need about a week per book if you have a family to take care of (2 weeks per book if you have a family and work full-time)

5. An understanding husband who won't mind picking up the slack around the house and won't
mind your absence for a month or so....if he likes college B-ball, maybe March Madness would be a good time to start :)

6. Lot's of Coffee and other caffeinated drinks! You will be very sleepy from staying up so late reading.

Tips for Finding Time to Read

1. Naptime is always prime reading time for me. On days where I want an extra long time to read, I bathe Z before nap and then have 3 hours (one day I had 4) to myself to read.

2. The Curious George Power Hour (or other TV programs). When Z sits down to watch George in the evening, I hurry to make dinner and then snuggle up on the couch with him. I angle myself so that I am reading but still cuddling with him. He hasn't caught on yet and feels like I am enjoying George with him ;)

3. Extra long trips to the bathroom (even if you don't have to go). S and Z eventually come looking for me but I then let them know that I am going "potty" :)

4. Books on Tape...I didn't go this route with this series but I did with Harry Potter. Z doesn't mind listening to tapes in the car and this is a great way to get in that extra reading time.

5. Burning the Midnight Oil---I spent many late nights caught up in Forks, WA :) That is why coffee is so essential :)

I am having a lot of fun with this series and I will be sad to see it end. I have actually been dragging things out by going back and rereading books one and two before starting three. If you are on the fence about starting the books....I highly recommend you try them. The vampire world that Meyers has created is fascinating! Happy Reading :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

Today we were snowbound. I love being snowbound when S is home but when it is just Z and I....I get a little bit crazy :) Z woke up at 7 AM to this snowy day which meant we had 12 hours (well 10 since he napped) to spend together...just he and I ;)

After a pancake breakfast, we started out our day with an indoor snowball fight (the soft balls above were the snowballs). We giggled and laughed as we dove behind couches and hurled "snowballs" at one another ;) I know that someday I will regret introducing this activity to my small, active boy (when he starts throwing things other than soft balls) but today it was FUN!

Next it was on to the Island of Sodor. We built an elaborate track and played trains for over an hour. I know this is going to sound geeky but I love building different tracks, the more complex the better. This particular track was one of my best ever and Z really enjoyed it. We both love to play with trains. It is so fun to watch him role play. I will be so sad when he outgrows Thomas!

Next it was onto creating Valentines Day cards for Neene and Mimi. After our craft was finished it was off to the tub for a long bath. Z enjoyed the extra tub time and I loved the fact that it was almost lunch time when he got out :) I celebrated lunch with a leftover wine cooler (from my sister's bachelorette party) and imagined that I was some place tropical :)

Z has been sleeping for 2 hours and should be up any minute :) I now only have 4 more hours to go :) I am thinking that we will bake some cookies, play some more trains and maybe even break out the bubbles (I know what you are thinking...they are really wild and crazy over there at Raising Z)!

This morning I woke up dreading the long day ahead of me but I have to admit that it has been really nice having this opportunity to snuggle up, play and just enjoy the day :)

Later on....Here are the pictures from cookie making. We made Superbowl footballs, snowflakes and hearts :) It was messy but fun.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Snuggling with Socks

Our naptime ritual is always the same. We march up the stairs to the bathroom where we brush our teeth and wash our hands. It is then off to Mommy and Daddy's bed to read 4 books (2 long, 2 short). We then sing two songs, snuggle for a bit and Z rips off his socks. I then I carry him to his crib where I get him a cup of water, tuck him under his blankets and then hand him his socks to cuddle.

Yes....he needs to have his socks to snuggle with or else he will not go to sleep! It is so strange and a little bit gross. If his socks are dirty (which they usually aren't that bad) I switch them for clean socks from his drawer. My son has 10 stuffed friends in his crib but yet the socks are what he wants to snuggle up with! Does anyone else have children out there who snuggle with their socks? Are we alone in the world? :)

Our bedtime ritual is almost identical to the naptime ritual except that Daddy is usually involved instead of the socks. Z also wears footy pajamas to bed so there are no socks around. However, he does have a few comfy pairs of two piece pajamas and on those nights he must have his socks to snuggle with.....I just don't get it :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009


When my youngest sister K was born, I was five years old. I remember cuddling next to my mother in the hospital visiting room. I was sobbing, wishing that she would leave that new baby in the hospital and come home with me. Meanwhile my sister L (who was 3 at the time) was beaming from ear to ear. She couldn't wait to bring home this new little baby sister.

Growing up my sisters and I definitely did our share of fighting. It was usually two against one and we would work as a team to make the one outsider feel horrible and cry. We fought over toys, the TV or what we should play next. Later in life we fought over clothes, the phone and who could use the family room. Despite all of the fighting, we really did love each other (deep down) and most of the time enjoyed being together.

My sisters and I would play together for hours. I would wake early, create our "Play Agenda" and we would go from game to game. We might start off playing Fisher Price Little People, then move to Store or Adoption Agency, then onto Bus Driver and then break for lunch and play Restaurant. Our days would go well until one of my sisters grew tired of the Agenda and wanted to do something else. Then we would argue and split off for awhile.

Over the years our relationships have grown much stronger. We call each other just to talk, rarely fight and act more like friends than siblings. These past few weeks have helped our relationships to grow even stronger. After Noni passed away, my sisters and I took a day to organize and clean her old apartment so that we could move everything out. We spent hours going through old photos, throwing out junk and putting all that we deemed valuable in one spot. Though we were so sad about the task at hand, we had a lot of fun. We reminisced, tried on Noni's jewelry (just like we use to do when we were little), laughed about photos we found and could not believe that Noni saved every item we ever made her!!

When we were ready for a break, we decided to head to Friendly's for lunch. This was a place where Noni use to take us as kids. As we perused the menu we thought about all of the old menu items we use to get (many of them are still there) and chatted about old memories. It was really nice to laugh during such a somber time. I will never forget that day!

Mom and Dad, thank you so much for having three of us! It may have taken time for us to get to know each other and actually "like" one another but it has been so worth the wait. I know that I have two friends who love me unconditionally and that we will always be there for one another. L and K....I love you very much!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Picnic with "Present Omama"

For those of us on the east coast, the Inauguration happened during lunch time :) Z and I set out our picnic lunch in front of the TV and watched history in the making.

My eyes welled up with tears as I watched this momentous occasion. Z snuggled in close and watched quite a bit of the ceremony :) He really enjoyed Aretha Franklin's version of My Country Tis of Thee but decided to play a quiet golf game while VP Biden was sworn in. The composition arranged by John Williams was lost on him and so he began a loud game of basketball but when it was time for our new "Present" to be sworn in, he was silent again. He even listened to about 1/2 of his address :) I was impressed!

On the way up to read books before nap he kept saying "Present Omama, Present Omama". I know he will not remember anything about today but I am still happy that he and I got to watch it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy 2009!!

Okay, so I know that this post is a few weeks late but I am working hard at catching up on my blog and I couldn't let this post go by. So please humor me.

I love New Years resolutions :) I am a planner, a list maker and a goal setter. These traits tend to drive my hubby crazy but I think they help to keep our family organized :) On New Years morning S, Z and I sat down to a special breakfast. I asked S to share what his resolutions were for the year.....he was silent for a long time and so I offered to go first :) Here were mine......

J's List

Work on Z's Scrapbook and organize photos

I started a kid friendly scrapbook last fall and I have not done anything since the beginning of October. It is a fun way for Z to look back at all of the fun things we have done....I need to get caught up :) I also promised to help my mother (and myself) organize our family photos. While cleaning out Noni's apartment, I found many more photos that need my attention. This project may take all year!

Write more letters
I miss snail mail!!! The holidays are so much fun because every day there are cards, notes and letters from friends. I want the mailbox to hold this much excitement all year long!!! I hope to write a letter to someone every week. If they write back, great! I think it is time to bring back the beauty of letter writing.

Keep up with my Exercise Routine
This is the first year that I don't have "Lose 10 pounds" on my resolution list!!! I worked really hard before the wedding to get in shape and I just need to keep it up. We leave for Aruba in 2 months and I need to look my best :) I hope to continue with my Windsor Pilates and Turbo Jam workouts.

Continue along with the 365 Photo Challenge
This was a challenge from OHMOMMY and I love it. It will be great to have a collection of photos from 2009.

Get Organized!!! guestroom and unorganized closets have my name written all over them. It is time to make this space more functional and I can't wait to have some time to do it. Z will someday move into the guestroom and at this point, he can't even walk in it :) Watch out I come!

Stop buying Stuff
This resolution is for S :) He is tired of our house being filled with so much stuff. He and I have a deal that if I am at a store and want to buy something (other than groceries), I need to call him and run it by him. This may sound like a husband trying to control his wife but it really is in our best interests :) I am a bit of a shopaholic and it is time to take control :)

Eat more whole foods
It is time to stop eating anything processed and get back to basics. For the most part we are good about this but when we get busy....the crap comes back into our lives. S really wants to lose weight and I think that this change (and the reduction of alcohol) will really help him with this goal.

S then said that this exercise was stressing him out :) With a little more prodding and help from me, he did come up with the following list :)

S's List

Get Healthy
He wants to lose 20 pounds, exercise more and drink less booze!

Drink less Coffee
We both agreed to cut back but he had a harder time doing so than I did. I think if he went to bed earlier, he wouldn't need the caffeine :) He is trying to switch to Green Tea.

Finish projects
We have so many projects around the house that need to be finished....most importantly, the BATHROOM :) We hope to tackle these projects and finish them before starting anything new.

Clean Out our Parents Houses
S would like 2009 to be the year where we finally move out of our parents houses :) We still have possessions in both places and he feels it is time to go through them and move them out ;) We will each get one trunk and will only be allowed to bring things back to our house that fit in the trunk, the rest will be thrown out or donated. That will be a huge challenge for me!

Stick to a Household Budget
S is tired of creating budgets and only sticking to them for a few months. It is his goal to create a family budget and stick to it throughout the year. Wish us luck!

Though this resolution setting did stress S out....I think it was good for us :) So look out we come!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Looking Back...A Fairy Tale Wedding

My sister married her high school sweetheart...not many people can say that. She followed the footsteps of my parents (also high school sweethearts) and in early January she had her fairy tale wedding.

K and M started dating in the 8th grade. They dated for a few months, shared their first kiss on the roof of a shed at a friends party and then she dumped him a few weeks later. Senior year in high school their paths crossed again (they attended different high schools) and they started dating again. This time they dated for 9 years. Their relationship was tested time and again as they attended different colleges (3 hours away), moved to Costa Rica together for a few months and M even lived in Wyoming for a year. Now they are facing yet another day after their wedding, M entered into the Police Academy. He must live there for 4 months and will only see his bride on weekends, this means no honeymoon for K and M for at least a year :( Everything that they they go through, seems to make them stronger....they are meant to be together.

Their wedding was a fairy tale, set on the lake, it was a winter wonderland. People were skating, snowmobiling and ice fishing. The Christmas decorations were still a glow and the Inn looked like an Adirondack lodge.

We checked in on New Years Day for our weekend getaway. Z fell in love with hotel and quickly learned his way around. The weekend was filled with dinners, a spa day, pool time for Z and many wedding preparations.

As family started to arrive, you could feel the excitement building. The ceremony and reception were both in the Inn which made life with Z very easy. Once our hair and make-up was done we got into our dresses and Z got into his tux. After one last glance in the mirror, I turned around and saw my sister for the first time. I welled up with tears...I could not believe that my baby sister was getting married! She looked amazing. My friend S (the photographer) said she looked like a delicious meringue :)

The ceremony was something like you would see in a movie. Z and my niece G did a great job coming down the aisle (unlike the rehearsal). Once the 11 groomsmen, 5 bridesmaids and 2 bridesmen were in place, the room filled with anticipation. M teared up as he saw my sister walk into the room...this left most of the bridesmaids in tears. They were both so happy! M's best friend's dad married them and the ceremony was so personal. I wrote a piece that I read for them, M's best friend did as well and K's friend recited a poem. They wrote their own vows and the audience hung on to every word....there were very few dry eyes in the room.

Once the ceremony was done, it was time to party. The room was gorgeous filled with birch, hydrangeas and candle light. My sister and M paid attention to every detail and there were so many personal touches. It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended.

Z was the first to hit the dance floor (besides the bride and groom) and if I let him he would have danced all night! My in-laws were there to help with Z and we had babysitters on hand to sit in my friends room and listen to Z and G's monitors. We had such a great time!

Dad wrote a song for K (he wrote one for each of his girls) and my sister L and I were beside her as he sang it to her. We were all in tears as he sang, it was a beautiful song. After the song we all hit the dance floor and danced all night long!!!!

It was a magical night.....a night we all needed considering the sadness that was waiting for us at home. Thanks K and M for including us in your wedding. Martha would be proud.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Our Holidays

Some of the many holiday crafts That Z and I Did....I think he ate most of the candy that we bought for the gingerbread house :)

Making Cookies with Daddy

A Holiday Gathering with my best friend L and my sister L :)

Christmas Morning at Neene and ChiChi's House

Christmas Day at Mimi and Grandpa J's House

Our Christmas at Home
This was done on December 28th :)

New Years Eve Party with my best friend L and her family
The New Years countdown began at 7:59 PM :)

It was a magical holiday! Thanks to everyone who helped to make it so special for Z :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Me :)

Raising Z is One Year Old Today :) I can't believe a year has already gone by! I have done over 200 posts, made a lot of online friends and have really enjoyed having Raising Z as an outlet :)

Thanks to everyone who reads my blog :) I really appreciate it.

Looking Back....Z's Perfect Day

With the craziness of the weddings, Noni being sick and the holidays....I decided Z needed one day dedicated to him and things he would like to do. It was a very special day and I hope to have "Z Days" every couple of months. This day did not cost a lot but the special moments that we shared were priceless :) It was the perfect day!

We started off our day at a liquor store :) That is right....a liquor store. It was a bit of a drive but so worth it. This liquor store sets up the most amazing electric train display for the holidays. Next to the display they stack beer boxes so that the children can climb up and watch the trains. They have three controls so that when the trains stop, the children can push the buttons and start them up again. It was great and Z had a blast. We spent 45 minutes here while Z played with trains and mom shopped for holiday treats :)

Our next stop was to D and D for some coffee and "do do's". While I resisted Z's donuts and ate my 100 calorie pack of crackers, we chatted about life and the trains we had just seen. On the way out of the parking lot we saw something amazing.....

A building across the street was being demolished! Z and I drove across the street and parked to watch this amazing show. We sat for 25 minutes and cheered the digger on as it smashed windows, bricks and wood. It was SOOOO COOL!!!!

That night we went to Friendly's for the perfect toddler dinner :) Z had chicken fingers, fries and a vanilla milkshake. S and I got indigestion with a side of heartburn :) After our dinner we went to a special Christmas Village for a light show. It was so much fun and truly got us into the Christmas spirit (not that I needed much help :)).

It was a wonderful day!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Looking Back....

Since the Ice Storm kept me from blogging since December 12th, I have decided to use the next few days to reflect upon our holiday season (the rollercoaster ride that it was). So let's start at the very beginning....the storm itself :)

The power went out just before midnight on Thursday, December 11th. My biggest fear was that a tree would come through our house. We were up all night listening to the crazy sounds outside. I also worried that Z would wake up freezing and get sick (a bad night for thin jammies!!!).

The next morning S tried to get out to explore but most of the roads were closed…..he decided to stay home from work. My mother and sister both lost power as well but our plan was to go north to my moms anyway….she has a gas fireplace. Our cable and phone lines were ripped from our house and a tree came with in inches of Z’s sandbox but no major damage.....we were very lucky!!!

We spent Friday huddled around mom’s fireplace. My sister called every hotel in our state and there were no rooms! S booked us at a hotel in the state next door (about 2 ½ hours away). We had a birthday party there on Saturday and figured we would just go up early. My sister decided to stay at Noni’s retirement home and my mom and dad decided to tough it out.

When we arrived at our hotel it was very dark. Come to find out their power had been out for over 24 hours!!!! The Marriot reservation line let us book a room that was unable to be used and by the time we got to our destination….there was not a single room in the city! I was too tired and angry to cry! I just wanted a shower!!!! My friend S's house was too small for three more guests so she got on the phone and started calling every B and B in the area. Luckily she found the last two rooms in the city (one for us and one for her father in-law flying in from Seattle). The only catch was that they do not allow children under 12! After hearing our story, they agreed to let us stay if Z promised to be quiet. Were they kidding??? He also was not allowed to come to breakfast.

That night Z did not go to sleep until 11pm!!! He cried when we put him in his crib at 9PM and so he came into bed with us. He then started singing very loudly (this is how he puts himself to sleep). We tried so hard to get him to be quiet but he has no volume switch. I was so afraid we were going to be asked to leave!!! S and I are were on edge the entire night and did not get much sleep. On top of that… the B and B turned off the heat at 10pm and it was freezing. We should have saved the money and stayed in our own cold house! It was a long night.

Z was up at 6:45 singing once again! He then got out of his bed and started jumping and dancing all around. The person below us must have been thrilled. We both showered and rushed out of there!

We decided to make the most of our situation and do a little exploring. We had a really fun day. The b-day party was great and Z did well (despite being so tired). We then went back to my mom's house...she got her power back on during the day on Saturday. S planned to spend the evening at our house emptying the pipes in our heating system. It was suppose to be 4 degrees on that Saturday night!

Luckily when S got home he called with good news....we had our power back! We were one of the very few houses in our town with power but because we are on the grid with the fire and police stations…we got it back! Unfortunately for Z, 2 out of 3 of our fish froze to death. The house was too cold to return to at that point so we slept at my moms. The next day we took Z on the Polar Express :) He LOVED it!!!! We took Park the Elf with us too....what a treat!

Most of my friends did not get their power back for 8 1/2 days! Many of those friends were just down the street from me. We were so lucky to have had only a day and a half of craziness!
Our cable and internet came back on this past week (almost a month later) we are up and running once again!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Saying Goodbye

This is part of what I wrote to read at todays funeral. The picture is Noni and I on my first birthday.

"My Noni and Pops moved to be closer to the family when I was two years old. They were two of my most favorite people and played such an important role in my life. It is difficult to come up with a memory that they were not a part of. They were our only babysitters, attended most of our sporting events, cared for us when we were sick and entertained us with stories and songs.

Some of my most wonderful memories of my Noni and Pops happened at our summer home on the Lake. My grandparents had a trailer very close to our house and it is here where we shared many second breakfasts, spent hours playing board games (Yahtzee being the favorite), took many fishing trips which always resulted in no fish and most importantly….shared many laughs.

It is ironic that the last weekend I spent with each of my grandparents was at the lake.

My last weekend with Pops was Memorial Day weekend of 1995. For some reason I was alone for the weekend with my grandparents. We stayed in the 4 Bedroom Cottage, played lots of Yahtzee and had a great time. One month later, he died suddenly fixing a boat at the lake.

My last weekend with Noni was Labor Day of 2008. Again, we stayed in the Four Bedroom Cottage (this time with a full house), played lots of Yahtzee and had a great time. She had her stroke days later.

The past four months have been very difficult on my grandmother. The stroke did not affect the logical side of her brain and she knew all that was going on. However the side of the brain which brings joy and happiness to the body was affected and she also lost all of her independence, something that was so important to her.

Her final days were peaceful, filled with love from family and friends. She even joined us in song on Christmas Eve as we sang carols in her room. This past Sunday she bestowed a very special Christmas gift to those visiting….she told each of us that she loved us. It was a very special moment and the last words I heard her speak.

In her final hours we played old home videos so she could hear Pops’ voice. We told her that he was waiting and encouraged her to go to him. Noni passed away on the 12th day of Christmas, the Epiphany. So fitting since this is her favorite Christmas carol and was one of the last songs she ever sang.

So my Noni and Pops have been reunited once again... They have been apart for over 13 years.

I hope that they have found a lake up in heaven to park a small trailer near. If they have... I am sure that they have their CB radio on, are frying up hamburgers (I am sure Pops still can't catch a fish), and they are waiting for the rest of us to come and enjoy another game of Yahtzee with them.

I love you both Noni and Pops!

Enjoy the lake."