Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The Iditarod is starting this Saturday and this family is super excited.  We have gotten the extended family together to each pick Mushers (racers) to cheer on throughout the race and bought the GPS feature on the Iditarod website so we can follow their progress.  Z and I also had a great time creating an interactive display board in our Dining Room this past weekend.
Our display has a map of the checkpoints with a little husky that we can move from checkpoint to checkpoint as the leaders move.
We also made an interactive leader board so we can follow along with the family picks.  Each family member has a dog with their name on it, their photo (for Lil'C) and their Musher's Name and bib number.  These dogs will move up and down depending on where the Musher is in the race (1st place, 2nd place etc.)
I plan to send out daily emails with the standings to keep the family in the loop.  The top 3 finishers will get small prizes.  We are so excited to watch this amazing and challenging race.  It starts on Saturday so mark your calendars and follow in on the fun!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Our "New" Playroom

Well Operation Downsize is in FULL SWING!  This weekend we filled our car with another load for donation and also took two trips to the dump.  I spent the morning going through Z's room (oh the scary mess) and we filled two bags to donate and one bag of trash.  We also moved his Lego Table to his closet so we can shut the door on that crazy but he can still have his creations out (brilliant move by Scott).

Our basement is much lighter and just needs to be organized and cleaned.  We are hoping to put a mudroom down there, I can't wait!

While Scott was at the dump, I thought it would be "fun" to move the playroom furniture around.  My Mother In-law had given me some advice on how to make the space look a bit more grown up (not so much like a preschool) so I thought I'd try it.  I knew if I asked Scott he would say, "Not today" so I decided to go it alone while he was out.  This was probably not the best idea after my trip to the chiropractor but c'est la vie!
I moved the couches (sorry no good before pictures, you will have to settle for the one above from C's birthday) and all the toys as fast as I could.  When Scott came home he said it didn't work for him.  He went back to the dump and I tried two more arrangements and finally found one that really works.  We got rid of toys, moved a bunch upstairs to their rooms and switched out some furniture.  Now we have a "grown up" space with toys and I LOVE it!!!
I am sitting in the new Living Room right now and it was soooo worth the sore back.  It feels less like a preschool and much more versatile.  It is now a place that I could read a book, enjoy a cup of coffee or enjoy time with friends.  The kids still have plenty of space to play, their toys are well organized and they love the new layout.
The plan from here is to take down the giant mirror and paint the walls.  If we ever put the house on the market, we will have to hide more toys but we are a ways off from that giant step. Over all it was a very productive weekend!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dancing Through My Day

I rediscovered Pandora this past weekend (had forgotten all about it) and it has been such a trip down memory lane.  I have been dancing around the house for the past few days to songs I have not thought about since childhood.   Madonna, Paula Abdul, The Bangles, The Jets and so many other artists have been bringing me back to a simpler time and have made me realize how much I miss listening to music.

I don't know about you but in this house much of the music we listen to is controlled by the wee ones.  We hear the Theme Song to Mario Bros, Princess Hits, Sparkle Stories and the occasional "good" song that we have introduced them too.  I do take control of the ipod here and there but most of the time it is all about the kids.

For those of you who don't know what Pandora is, it is an Internet Radio.  The basic Pandora account does not cost a thing but you will be shown or hear ads while you listen.  You can upgrade to an account without ads for $4 a month but the ads are short and sweet and really aren't that big of a deal (much better than regular radio).

With Pandora you can pick channels based around genres of music or an artist that you may like.  You can then customize the channel by clicking "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" as to whether you like a particular song or artist that they play.  If you click "Thumbs Up", they will play more music similar to that track.  If you click "Thumbs Down", they will never play that song again on your account and stay away from similar music.  You can also customize your channels by changing their names and adding other artists, songs that you'd like to hear.

Right now my favorite channels are called "My First Tapes"(all the songs from the first tapes I ever owned), College Radio (songs from my college days), "Dad's Rockin Hits" (the classics that my dad introduced me to) and "Scott and Jess" (songs that we can both agree on).  I also have some channels for the kids.....I do share my Pandora time :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Operation Down Size

Every Spring I go through a purging, organizing and cleaning phase.  It feels so good to get rid of things we don't need, organize those neglected closets and drawers and do a deep cleaning of our home.  With each passing year the house improves, simplifies and feels more like home.

This year we are upping the ante and have created Operation Down Size.  This year is going to be the biggest Spring Cleaning yet!  The goal is to simplify our lives and improve our home so that if we have an opportunity to move, we could do so easily.

The project list is huge and we have already begun to tackle it.  Two closets, a cabinet, a junk drawer and half of the garage have already been attacked.  We have made a sizable donation to Good Will with many more carloads to come.   There are painting projects, clothes to go through, a flooring project or two, some landscaping, some rearranging of furniture and then the DREADED BASEMENT.  The Orkin man will be so excited when he next comes and can easily walk through our Catch All Space!

Operation Down Size will take a lot of hard work but in the end we hope it will lead to more peace in our home and more flexibility in our lives.  I'll post our progress as we go :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Potty Palooza

Doesn't Potty Palooza sound like fun!?!?!  Five days at home filled with Potty Movies, Potty Books, Salty Snacks, Yummy Beverages, Sticker Charts, new Underwear and Prizes.....Oh the Fun!!

I had such great visions for this post...a day to day account of the amazing success we had potty training Lil'C during our Potty Palooza (this is what Scott and I called it, Lil'C had no idea we named this event).  But Lil'C had other ideas.

The week leading up to Potty Palooza we were all Potty Talk around here.  We watched Potty DVD's, read Potty Books, took a bunch of visits to the Potty with great success, discussed who uses the Potty and picked out new underwear.  The first morning of Potty Palooza was great.  Every 20 minutes the timer would go off and we'd head to the potty.  We read books, sang songs and Lil'C got a sticker for each attempt but no success.  By noon time she QUIT!

"I hate the Potty!!!  No more is hard!!!"
We LOVE this book!!!
The entire morning I noticed she was withholding her pee.....she would go as soon as she was back in her diaper.  Lil'C refuses to wear pull-ups or underwear and she is a child who is very resistant to change.  If we push too hard I know she will be the child who ends up withholding all bodily functions until we are in the ER with stomach pain. This process has to be relaxing and allow her to feel in control.  I thought I would give her more control in other areas of life, but that did not work either.  She is afraid, afraid of change and likes the comfort of her diapers.

So we took a few days off where I never asked her to go but continued to read the potty books, watch the DVDs and talk about all those folks who use the potty.  After a few days off, I started our trips again and was met with tears and screaming.  Now we are at a loss as to what to do?!?!?  Any suggestions for us?  I know she won't go to college in diapers but I'd like her to be diaper free for preschool in the fall.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Breakfast

This morning I am busy preparing a Valentine's Breakfast for my loves.  I set the table last night, complete with all of the cards we made and a little sweet treat (candy for breakfast!?!?).  Two years ago Scott ask that we no longer buy the kids small gifts and that we make the day about homemade LOVE.  This has made the holiday so much more fun and we all really get into making our Valentine Cards.
Z even designed his own Valentine Bags this year for his classmates.  They are super cute and he worked so hard on them.  He can't wait to give them out this afternoon.

 May your day be filled with love and smiles!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Blizzard of 2013

I am sorry but I refuse to call this storm Nemo.  Tropical Storms and Hurricanes have names, not Blizzards.  And Nemo??  Really??

This storm was the BEST storm we have had in the 7 years of living here!!!!  We did not lose our power....not even a flicker.  We spent two days indoors and got over 2 feet of snow (we had practically nothing when the storm began).  Unfortunately the kids weren't really able to enjoy the snow until Saturday afternoon.  Even then the winds were whipping, the temperatures were cool and they were sinking into the deep "Snow Globe Snow" (it was light and fluffy).
We were super prepared for this storm.  I spent all day Thursday and Friday morning filling buckets, doing laundry, making food, cleaning and Scott got gas for the generator.  He even hauled it out to the backyard, all was ready.  Because we had gotten all that work done and didn't lose power, we were able to devote the indoor weekend time to relaxing and house projects.  It was GREAT!
Sunday we headed to my mom's house (Dad was in Honduras) for Winterfest.  This is a highlight of the year for Z and he enjoyed sledding with me, a life size Angry Bird competition (came in 3rd place) and a hockey shoot out (tied for 1st!).  It was a great weekend and we were so blessed to have electricity throughout it!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Making Memories...

Mimi and Grandpa sent us this great calendar from Whole Foods that celebrates unique and fun holidays.  January 31st was "Art from Your Heart Day" and so we decided to celebrate by spending the day looking at the Art of Science at the Science Museum.  The Boston Museum of Science is one of my kids favorite places on earth and they had soooo much fun showing their grandparents their favorite sites.  It was a wonderful day and we hope to meet up in Boston again soon.  Thanks for a great day Mimi and Grandpa!!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mario Party

Last month my Book Club read Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.  I was sitting by the fire one evening, curled up with my kindle when Z came and sat beside me.  "What are you reading?"  he asked.  I told him the name of the book to which he said, "What's it about?".  I explained that it was about ways to make your home a happier place to be.  I then had a question, so I put my book down and asked Z, "What would make your home happier".  He looked at me thoughtfully and answered, "Having a Party, Living Room Surfing with Daddy and playing Super Mario Galaxy with Daddy."  I smiled and thought about his answers.

The last two items on Z's happier at home list were completed by the end of the weekend.  The first consumed my thoughts for the rest of the weekend.  It was not even close to his birthday, what reason could we pick to celebrate?  I didn't want an expensive or crazy affair, just something simple.  That is when I thought about aligning it with my dad's send off dinner.  My dad does a yearly Rotary Service Project and we usually gather the weekend before to see him before he goes.  The dinner is a low key event (just family) and so I told Z about my idea.  He quickly jumped on board and by the end of lunch had a guest list, menu, decorations and activities planned (he is my son!).  
The theme was Super Mario Galaxy.  He created the decorations (with very little help), goody bags (made from stuff around the house), helped cook, helped clean and planned out a few fun activities.  He put so much thought, time and effort into this party and it ended up being a really fun night.  We invited the family to dress up as their favorite Mario Characters and just about everyone did!  Scott and I were Koopa Troopers, Mom and Z were Mario, Dad was Luigi, my sister Kristen was a mushroom and my niece G and Lil'C were Princess Peach.  

I was so proud of Z, the perfect party host.  At the end of the night Z, Scott and I were sitting on the couch, completely exhausted.  I looked over at Z and asked if he enjoyed the party.  He said that it was GREAT!  I then asked him if it made him Happier at Home....he said it definitely did!  Mission Accomplished :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog...

This has been the question for me for the last few months.  I so miss this space, this outlet, connecting with people.....I haven't even read a blog post in a very long time.   I am constantly writing blogposts in my head, doesn't every blogger?  My 5 year blogging anniversary just was in January, I have been at this a long time and wonder if I am burnt out or if after this break I am ready to come back to this space, or the other blog space I created last year (I have been on break from that site since last spring).

So I asked myself, am I using this new "free time" on the computer wisely?  I am not sure if it has been used wisely but it has been busy.  The bulk of my time has been spent on two AMAZING online classes.  The first was Whole Food Kitchen, which I was not able to participate in the moment and had to do a lot of catch up after the course was over and the second is called Inside Out, which is going on right now.   Like many of us, I do waste time on facebook, as well as time listening to podcasts, researching many topics that have come up in our lives and watching the Bachelor (no cable here) and Season One of Beverly Hills 90210 ;)
I am loving my online classes and will not be giving those up, the research has also been very important and I am sorry but I can't stop watching the train wreck that is the Bachelor (and this week they are torturing me with two nights instead of one).  So I have decided to cut back on facebook and podcasts and spend the time I would be over there, blogging instead.  I think the break has been long enough and I will no longer put pressure on myself to post a few times a week.

I miss this space and so I am moving back in, at least for now.  It might be that in a few more months or maybe even next year, I decide to move over to the other blog more permanently.  Raising Z was created as a space for sharing thoughts and stories about raising my little ones and they are growing up, too fast I might add.  The other blog might be more appropriate as we venture into the school years.
So if anyone is out there, thanks for reading.  I have missed you and it is nice to be back :)