Thursday, November 7, 2013

ELEVEN !

That's right. I now am in possession of an ELEVEN year old girl. She's smart and tall and beautiful. She has loads of friends and she's learning the flute and she's started caring about what she wears and what matches and her hair. She still hates bath/shower night and going to bed for school, but she also hates waking up early. But she loves the bus rides and her friends and fifth grade. She's pretty fantastic.

This happened.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween

Batgirl 
Happy Halloween everyone. I'm grateful that it's over. Halloween should be moved so that it's ALWAYS on a Friday or weekend. Week night trick or treating is just exhausting. The 6yo went as Batgirl and had the best time. She kept seeing kids that ride her bus, which was blowing her mind. Apparently kindergarteners do not understand WHY they're on the same bus. It was hilarious. The friend in the picture is also a kindergartener and they ran into another friend which blew both of their minds. It was hilarious to watch. And then the 6yo started trying to make play dates. "You wanna come to my house sometime?"


friends on a candy hunt
The soon to be 11 yo (thursday the 7th) wanted to trick or treat with her friends. I think I was misled on the plan, but it worked out ok. She went with her friends, and her pumpkin was overflowing with candy. She said it was the best time ever.
11yo and friend on the hunt
It was around 45 degrees so we've had worse Halloween nights, but it stopped raining about an hour or so before we went out so that worked out pretty well. The kids are so excited that they don't get cold, so the 6yo had gloves on but kept refusing her coat. The 11yo went with gloves but at the end she was wearing her jacket also. I was wearing my big winter coat with gloves and I was still freezing. It was a pretty good night, and they were pleased to miss bath night and go to school again with pink hair. Of course, the 6yo's cold got the better of her this morning and she's had trouble from both ends, so I kept her home from school. I still have every confidence she'll grow out of this eventually. For now, she's bored on the couch.

And now, more halloween cuteness.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Growing so fast

We had church directory photos taken a few weeks ago. I intended to buy nothing...and bought everything. It's a racket for sure, but the photos were good and we hadn't had any family pictures in awhile. The girls are growing too fast..they should stop that.






We also got photos of them individually which are so good. The 6yo is always suspicious and the 11yo is always posing. It's a funny and adorable combination.

The 6yo is also doing much better with Kindergarten. I've been driving her to school for a little over a week now so she's getting a little more rest and she's avoiding the carsickness of the bus. She's fine on the way home because it's a shorter ride. She's the 2nd stop, so in the morning she has to ride an extra 30 minutes after she gets on, but on the way home, she's still the 2nd stop so she's off pretty early on.

Also, a word of warning. I've been giving her children's claritin while she's had a cold, to keep the snot that ends up in her stomach overnight to a minimum. So I give it to her at bedtime, it keeps her from puking first thing in the morning. After a few days,t he claritin kicks into her system and she...was...active. Let's say that..Active. So I put her to bed on Sunday night at 8pm because they take a little bit to fall asleep and they have to get up at 645/730 to catch the bus/get to school on time. at 825 we hear thumping upstairs...what the...she's standing in my room.

Me: "What are you doing? "
6yo: "I'm not tired."
Me: "Ok, but what are you doing in my room?"
6yo: "Staying up."

She'd also gone into her sister's room and climbed up her loft bed ladder, shaking the bed a bit, as it does...and freaked her out as she tried to fall alseep. So...no more claritin for a bit. The cold has mostly subsided so she can fight the rest. I'll not give it to her so many days in a row next time, giving it time to build in her system, hops her up.  The next morning she said she had been under my bed...I cannot even fathom why. She was hopped up :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Birthday girl.

The five year old turned six a couple weeks ago. I know that I "should" have planned and thrown her a party with her friends, but it's just so much work. I'd rather wait until she's got a good group of friends and just invite them. Next year. Maybe. We had family come over of course, and everyone brought gifts which is really all she wants anyway.
Six
She got clip on puppy earrings, lip gloss and nail polish, a new Lite Brix set, a new webkinz pegasus and some things I can't remember. She came with me to pick out a cake and get some balloons and I think she had a great day.
Hello Kitty lip gloss and purse, puppy clip on earrings
She still doesn't want to go to school. She still throws up before she gets on the bus nearly every morning. So this morning I drove her myself. She still threw up before we left, but at least the bouncy bus didn't make her throw up again. She'll ride home on the bus like normal (she never gets sick on the way home) so she'll still get to see grandpa (he drives it). And maybe someday she'll get used to this whole going-to-school-without-mom thing. I'll drive her as long as she needs me to.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I lied. School sucks.

I spoke too soon. It hasn't passed. She's puked probably 15 out of the 20+ days she's been going to kindergarten. I know its nerves because she's not sick and she only throws up before she goes to school. I put her on the bus, she's fine maybe 50% of the time, the other 50% she is weepy and sad. Sometimes she even throws up a tiny bit on the bus. This morning I tried children's dramamine, but it doesn't seem to be enough or in her system enough to get her on the bus. I'll try again tonight by giving it to her before bed and again when she wakes, maybe i can get it into her system enough to prevent the puke. Even if I can't prevent the nerves.

I'm 90% sure she has a good day when she goes. She plays and has friends and sees her cousin every so often. She comes home and says things were awesome. But every morning she doesn't want to go again.

Gah. It sucks. I hate it.  I really hope this doesn't last all year...but I have no indication that anything is going to change anytime soon. What would make it better? According to her, if i go to school to be a helper or something, that would help. Ugh.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

This too shall pass

And it has! I think. I hope..I forcefully WILL it to be so. I put her on the bus this morning with no tears and no sadness, just a big hug and a wave. She was chatting up her neighbor friend before they got on and it was fantastic. I could tell she was starting to come around after school on Friday. She was saying things like 'I don't want to go to school...but I have to.' and then she'd talk about her classmates and she's remembered more names than I ever will. This morning was fantastic.

I also acquired some echinacea drops to give her periodically to help build her immune system as well as some organic vitamins with extra C and Zinc to help her fight whatever she does catch. Let's hope we can stay ahead of all the colds those kids like to pass around.

So. YAY for Kindergarten now. I am so relieved after that bus load...my entire day is going to be fantastic. I can work alone, which I always knew I'd love when I got back to it, but I can also really focus because I'm not worried about how my baby is doing. She's great!

Thanks for all the lovely comments on the last one. That was a rough week.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sad Kindergartner

I put the 5yo on the bus this morning, crying. She doesn't want to go to school anymore because she misses me and doesn't like leaving me. She asked why I can't be her teacher, or a helper teacher, or ride the bus with her, or something! Gah. Breaking my heart. It will get better..won't it ?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

School is IN!

Hooray for the first day of school! I have been waiting for this day for about three years now. I work from home which is awesome, but it's a little bit difficult sometimes to balance the kids with my work schedule. Today is the first day in five years that I won't be fetching someone juice or yelling at anyone to stop fighting. My oldest is now a fifth grader and she got on the bus this morning at 7:15 without any problems, she was pumped and ready for it. The Kindergartener was a little more hesitant, processing things as she goes, but her grandpa drives her bus so that was comforting for her and he called to let me know she got off with no problems. She climbed on at 8:05 with a weepy face, but no crying. Her cousin also goes to her school now, and so her uncle saw her get off the bus all smiles. So I feel like this is a beautiful beginning.





Sunday, August 11, 2013

I bought myself a treat

Since taking the motorcycle class last weekend, I've had bikes on the brain. The husband has been scouring the internet and local shops for the perfect bike. Yesterday we found one. I am now the proud owner of a silver with blue flame 2008 Honda Shadow. It's used, so we didn't spend too much on it, and if it doesn't work out to be a hobby I can continue, we can get our investment back out of it without much loss. So far, I LOVE IT. I've been taking it slow, learning the gears and shift nuances and driving around the neighborhood and no long trips yet. It's been really fun.

No I do not drive without helmet or proper shoes

Monday, August 5, 2013

Motorcycle mama

This weekend my stepmom and I took Ron Bandy's Beginner Motorcycle Rider class. It was so much fun and we passed everything and learned so much. We can now get Motorcycle licenses added to our drivers' licenses. So awesome.  It was important to really pay attention and work on the skills and my body is a little angry about it now, but it was worth it. I sort of want to buy my own motorcycle now, since the husband's 1700 is just too big for me to handle.
Melissa on the motorcycle from Melissa Anderson on Vimeo.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Kitchen Sink

Underneath my kitchen sink...to be more specific. That space is a mess.

I keep all my cleaning supplies down there, plus a vase or two. There are plumbing pipes to get around and a garbage disposal but just look at it. I'm clearly not using the space as well as I could. From all the organizer blogs I've been reading lately I think the solution is a combination of lazy susans and undersink shelving. I'm thinking something like this  and maybe something like this too, to hold my most used cleaners.

If OrgJunkie, OMF or OTO or anyone else happen to see this post..I'd love ideas for products to help organize this space better. I'm going to tackle it some time this weekend I think.

I also need a solution for all our CDs and DVDs. They're taking up way too much space on a storage shelf in the storage room of the basement. We don't even use the CDs since we stored all the music on our media server. That shelf could be much better used..I'm going to tackle that this weekend too, now that the super hot is finally going away (right? it IS going away isn't it?) and I won't be obligated to swim with the kids every single day.
these need to move, i could better use that shelf
I should have taken before and after pictures, but I'm super lazy so I didn't, but I rearranged the sort of hallway at the bottom of the basement stairs. You come down the stairs and at the bottom, toward the right there's a mini fridge and wine fridge, shredder and trash can. We're going to move the minifridge over by the couch (no pictures of that) and the wine fridge somewhere into the storage room. I'll likely leave the trash can and move the shredder into my pretend new office area.
bottom of stairs
 The door (on the right wall) to the storage room is there, with a wall. Along that wall we had a deck box with all our swimwear and towels (we have A LOT of beach towels) and a bookshelf holding all our games and some random books we were keeping for whatever reason. Anyway, since I'm selling the hope chest there's room in the storage room, I pulled out the hope chest, and slid in the deck box - perfect fit.
hope chest going soon, used to be bookshelf and deckbox here
 Moved a few other things around and pulled the bookshelf of games in there too. Now that wall is empty (well, once the hope chest goes it will be). I love it. And now I've sort of started imagining turning it into a nice desk area. Putting the main family computer down there, as well as using it as a place to work when the kids go back to school in August.
is this wishful thinking?
 There's definitely enough space for a small desk and I'd put the main family tower on the floor with the monitor on the desk, and a lamp (which I already have) and move the shredder over to this wall. Then my new laptop that's coming from the office, I'd work at the desk here most days, but it'd still be portable of course for summertime or if it got too cold down here. This would also allow us to get rid of the desk that's too big that's in our living room. It works ok, but it'd be nice to just have a chair there and no bulky desk.
this is far right wall in storage room, opposite the DVD shelf
I'll likely put the wine fridge on top of the pool supply cabinet, I think it'll fit best there and I might switch places with these things depending on where my outlet is. I don't love that brown shelf - it's the husbands from living at home eons ago with his parents. We'll see where that ends up. To the right is the deck box - which replaced the hope chest.
deck box
See, it fit perfectly and I intend to store the bin with the pool cover on top of it during the winter. And next to it is the bookshelf. There used to be a file cabinet there, but since I've gone all paperless and Fuji Scan Snap with our bills, we don't need it. Also, it had rusted leaving a giant pile of rust - which I thought were bugs or something. Gross. Anyway, that went to the dump. So this spot used to have the filecabinet and pool cabinet and I put the bookshelf here with all our games, arranged so the littlest one can reach her favorites. We don't need to talk about the golf clubs.
game bookshelf
On that bookshelf is a book called "Build your own x86". A book about how to build your own computer. From like 1995. But the husband insisted we keep it...for...nostalgia or something. I dunno. I'm on a roll though, I want to finish up this cleanup, see if a desk area really is possible here. I love purging and organizing like this.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Chicago

So our next trip was to Chicago. The husband is a Network Admin for a decent sized company and they get a lot of their supplies from a large vendor. So that vendor had been asking him to come to Chicago, see the Cubs, see the facilities and talk shop a bit. We finally worked it out with grandparents and such that he could go and I could tag along. Also the 5yo had a t-ball game the night we were scheduled to leave. So, the plan was to go to t-ball and send the girls home with the grandparents, leave directly from there to head to Chicago. There was a line of storms coming through, but we couldn't tell exactly where or when we would be when it decided to storm. So we left after t-ball, our kids prefer not to live with us anyway, so there were no tears or anything as we waved goodbye. We got to I-88 before the weather started. At one point it was so dark and the clouds were so ominous we weren't sure what was going to happen.  There was a tornado warning near Dekalb at some point, but I think we stopped at the oasis and got ahead of it by that point. We were headed to Vernon Hills for the first night, once we made it through the storms and navigated our way through Chicago, we found ourselves at the Indigo Hotel Vernon Hills. To be clear, the first two hotels were on the vendor's dime, we didn't pay for them, and we were reimbursed for taxis and valet and tolls.

Hotel Indigo bed (two fulls, we slept separately this night)
The hotel is really nice and very modern. Wood floors (or wood look alike floors) and mounted flat TVs, a sectional couch and a nice modern bathroom area.  Since there were two full sized beds we decided to sleep separately for this night. We prefer a King sized bed and this was just not going to work to sleep together :) The only drawback to separate beds is that I can't wiggle when he starts to snore (the wiggling stops it generally). Oh well, we were pretty tired after the late and stressful drive, so we slept pretty well. There is no free breakfast, but there is free wifi and the hotel is very nice. I think we liked it best of all the hotels on this trip.
Hotel Indigo couch, faces the desk and tv area

Hotel Indigo bathroom

Hotel Indigo dresser and desk, across from couch

Hotel Indigo Sink (all liquid runs AWAY from drain)

Hotel Indigo TV
So when you brush your teeth and spit into this fancy pants sink, all the spit runs AWAY from the drain. Totally gross. Very cool LOOKING sink, but totally gross functionally. Otherwise the room was really nice and felt larger than a hotel room and was super comfortable. We were on the 7th floor also, so we had a nice view in the morning. The husband had some work things in the morning and then came back to the hotel for me and we checked out and headed into downtown Chicago.
3 wheel motorcycle with WALKER strapped to the back
Traffic in Chicago sucks. Driving in Chicago sucks. Therefore I conclude that living in (or near) Chicago must suck. We left around 10:30am Thursday morning from Vernon Hills and I think we arrived at our hotel at close to 11:45am. So..a little over an hour to go about 35 miles. I cannot imagine doing that regularly.  We saw a pickup truck with two mattresses flapping on the back, weaving in and out of traffic like a maniac. I highly doubt they made it to their destination with mattresses intact. We also saw a three wheel motorcycle with an older man and woman riding, with a walker strapped to the back. If you need a walker - GET IN A CAR. Crazy. So our next hotel destination was Omni Hotel Chicago.
Sunset view from our fifth floor room
The Omni is an all suite hotel I believe, with valet service and a fancy pants bar and restaurant on the fourth floor. First of all, the address is 676 Michigan Avenue, which might be where the mailbox is, but it is NOT where the drive up valet is. So we drove past it first, in downtown lunch traffic and had to navigate around a block or two, through the maniac pedestrians to get back to the hotel.  The valet/front of the hotel is on Heron NOT Michigan. Valet parking was $54 which is insane, but what else are you going to do if you don't live there and don't know where else to park? Luckily we're getting that cost back. So the hotel room opens into a living area with a desk and wetbar with a fully stocked fridge. The bathroom is nice and then the bedroom was a king sized bed (yay) with a pocket door leading to the bathroom and french double doors leading to the living area. It was pretty nice. The views are obviously of other large hotels and downtown buildings, but it's still a pretty nice view.

Photos of Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago
Omni Hotel, Living area


Photos of Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago
Omni Hotel, wet bar


Photos of Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago
Omni Hotel, bedroom


Photos of Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago
Omni Hotel, pocket door into bathroom
The Omni only offers free wifi in the reception area and if you join their membership program (free). I wasn't interested in that, and honestly, for as much as these hotel rooms with valet cost..free wifi and maybe even free breakfast doesn't seem like too much to ask. We'd never stay here on our own, but it was a really nice hotel. We caught a cab and headed to the Cubs game right around noon, to meet our vendor contact and go into the game together. They have a suite at Wrigley so that was...pretty awesome. I had never been to Wrigley before, so that was pretty fun and it was a beautiful day for a baseball game.
Wrigley entrance

cubs vs reds
The suite had beer and drinks and free food and excellent seats. The outside seating area had a little heater over it, which was great because it was shaded and kind of breezy. I brought a cute jacket/blazer thing to wear over my summery outfit which worked out perfectly. The game went to 14 innings. FOURTEEN. We did the seventh inning stretch TWICE. Around inning 11 the rest of our group left to go to a bar, but the husband and I waited it out. We weren't really that interested in the bars and I kind of wanted the full game experience. Well, the Cubs WON and I say it's because we stuck it out. :) It was pretty fun.  We caught a cab a couple blocks from the stadium and headed back to the hotel. We weren't really in the mood to wander around hunting for a restaurant, so we headed to the fourth floor 676 Bar & Restaurant. Very swanky.
Diet Pepsi

View from the 676 Restaurant
The husband had New York Strip steak and I had Lake Michigan White Fish. The restaurant cooks only with locally sourced food which was kinda cool and weird at the same time. I bet that gets difficult in the snowy winter. Both were fantastic. Super delicious and perfectly cooked. My diet pepsi came with the extra in that fancy vase thing, which was weird and fancy. It was expensive, but considering we are being reimbursed for most of the rest of the expenses, we treated ourselves. We could see a giant Apple store out the window of the restaurant and it was really really great food. We probably under-tipped because of the price of everything, but I couldn't make myself do more given what the bill was anyway. It was nice...not something we'd do that often, but it was nice. We were tired from all the driving the last couple days and navigating our way around Chicago and enjoying the game. So we headed up to the room to lounge and then sleep. The husband had more work things Friday morning, and then I checked us out when he was on his way back, we got our car out of the valet and we were done with Chicago.

When we arranged the trip, we sent the kids with the husbands parents for Wed/Thursday night. But they needed to leave to see my sister in law in Georgia, and they wanted to leave on Saturday. They would have stayed for us if necessary but we didn't want to hold them up. So we arranged for my dad and his wife to pick up the girls and take them Friday night. That gave us an extra day to go to IKEA and the Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora. So Friday morning we left the Omni and headed north to Schaumburg.

I hadn't been to this IKEA since my oldest was less than a year old. We go to the Minneapolis IKEA sometimes when we're up there for the Mall of America but its not quite the same as this one. I didn't want to bore the husband, so I had a plan of what I was looking for before we got there. We started with lunch in the cafe, which was good, but disorganized. Then we headed to shopping. I wanted to make a full lap, but not linger anywhere other than the spots I knew I wanted to buy from. So I bought a set of pink magazine holders for the oldest girl, for her desk under her new loft. Then we headed to the chests of drawers. I had looked at the HEMNES 5-drawer chest as a sort of supplemental storage solution for the husband, our new dresser is awesome, but he could use a bit more space. The we saw the BRUSALI 4-drawer. My intention was to put it in our room, where the laundry basket was and move that out to the hall for better access for the kids, but when we did all that, it was just taking up too much space. So..I cleaned out my closet a bit and made room for it just inside. It's perfect. He puts his underwear and work tshirts in the top three drawers, freeing up a drawer in our main dresser, I took the bottom drawer for my workout clothes. I cleaned out my hanging clothes and shoes, which was an added bonus. Yay. I love it.

IKEA chest
Next we found ourselves in the TV stand area of IKEA. It wasn't my intention to stop here, nor to buy anything, but we'd been talking about replacing the basement stand that the husband built ten years ago with something smaller for our new tv.  We needed something at a particular height, that could hold a 60" TV and had a space for the center speaker to be underneath the TV as well as extra spaces for the XBOX, PS3, DirecTV box and Receiver. Some extra storage would be ok too. So we found one that would work great..and then we found another that worked better...and then we found the BESTA. That link isn't exactly right, but it's the closets I could find. It looks just like that, but there are 3 shelves in each spot. It's actually a cabinet with 6 shelves and then an extra one with 3 shelves. We put a door on one of them to hide our junk. It's working perfectly. It cleans up the space and holds everything perfectly.
IKEA tv stand




It was a great IKEA trip. I'm kind of hoping I can get another trip in sometime soon, with my mother in law. We'd have such a great time, just she and I. Maybe a trip for her birthday or something in November, if the snow/weather isn't awful. We then headed to the Outlet malls in Aurora, stopping in Naperville to check into our Best Western Naperville hotel. It was a typical Best Western, not super fancy, great deal, nice room and easy to find. I didn't take any pictures because you all know what a BW looks like. The front desk girl was super friendly so our checkin was easy and quick. We rested a bit and then headed to the shopping. I got quite a few things, but I think I'll save that for another post. We shopped until we couldn't anymore, and then we headed to Panera to take some dinner to the hotel and we called it a night. We checked out Saturday morning and headed back to our children. Chicago was fun, but it was time to go home.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Motorcycle Road Trip


The first weekend in June the husband and I took a motorcycle road trip to Hannibal, Missouri. The birthplace of Mark Twain, or Samuel Clemens, or whatever. The whole area is confusing with Becky Thatcher's house...a fictional character..and Samuel's father's office..a real man..the fictional pieces are mixed with the real pieces. It's a nice area, right on the Mississippi River (flooding at the time of our visit) but the mix of stories I found to be...confusing.
Tom Sawyer's Fence
A berm keeps the Mississippi from invading Hannibal, but there was definite flooding
We drove down on Friday morning, leaving the children with the in-laws. We drove in about 40-50 miles increments, stopping to stretch and eat lunch as necessary. We've got a new seat on the bike and we got a really great luggage piece to carry all our stuff. It was a beautiful day for riding, cool enough so wearing our protective jackets wasn't too hot, but warm enough we weren't freezing. We arrived around 2pm and headed to Lulabelle's to check in. We stayed in their Main Street Bed & Breakfast, in the Renaissance Room.

Renaissance Room - King Bed
Bathroom counter, mini fridge under counter

Giant tub

Private toilet area

TV stand

Shower, low-flow head

The room was enormous, located directly downtown. It was a great location for walking to all the attractions and bars and restaurants. We parked the bike and just walked everywhere. We were booked for two nights, but the noise from the bars on the street and the incoming storm sent us home Saturday afternoon instead. The B&B owner very nicely refunded our 2nd night. If we had been in our car, we likely would have stayed and just moved rooms to a quieter spot (at Lulabelle's proper probably) but on the bike we couldn't risk the storm and having trouble driving home on Sunday in the rain or even hail. There were also a couple problems with the room (low-flow shower and TV) that would have prompted us to move or leave after one night also.
Lulabelle's Train Mufflers
The room comes with Lulabelle's Train Mufflers because the trains run over by the river throughout the night. The Mississippi was flooded at the time, so the trains weren't running. I did use these to drown out the bar patrons from midnight until 2am when the bars closed, but I wouldn't necessarily consider it a good sign that they provide ear plugs. The room was really large though, on the 2nd floor of an older downtown building, and really nice and clean, so overall we had a great time. There was a note about breakfast on our checkin paper, but we didn't notice that until we packed up to leave. Oh well. The girls stayed with the in-laws the 2nd night anyway, so we still had the weekend on our own, just at home :) It was a great ride and I got to break in my new seat and footboards which were excellent. We even stopped at Shelton's fireworks on the way home and grabbed as many fireworks as we could fit on the back of the bike - it wasn't much :)
Shelton Firewoks, Missouri

The Hannibal area needs to invest some serious time and money into the area if they want it to remain a tourist area. There was construction in front of a stretch of stores, they were all still open, but it was a little hard to navigate and it seems like no one was working on it. We headed to the non-historic part of town to get some snacks at Walmart and I think if they don't get the historic area updated, it'll be less interesting to tourists as they come through.