Monday, February 28, 2011

Feb Faves: Lent

What a crazy thing to be a "favorite", right? I love Lent as a season of commitment, a stage for reflection, a time of change. I feel like I can manage to stick to something for 40 days, you know, so I open myself up to new challenges. And since Easter is my favorite holiday, I like taking advantage of Lent as a period of preparation.

We still have a few days before Lent begins, I know, but I'll share our plans here early in case it brings inspiration to anyone.

1. Our family tradition for five years now -- our blessing tree -- will continue.
2. We will have a short version of evening prayer together as a family.
3. A new tradition I am excited about was inspired by my sister-in-law's sister-in-law. (So is she my sister-out-law? LOL!)  I saved the Christmas cards we received last year and we will pray for a family or two each night at dinner.
4. We (John, Caroline, and I) will walk (or run, or bike in Caroline's case) 68 miles during Lent to recall Jesus's walk from Jerusalem to Galilee. It is also a time to remember our bodies are temples.

(and this wraps up my February Faves. I am back in the habit of blog-journaling, so check back soon!)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feb Faves: My Thirty One Tote


Here's an item I use several times a week that makes my life so much easier! So much easier, in fact, that 1) I bought a second one and 2) I'm hosting a party so my friends can buy one, too!

My friend and food swap buddy, Staci, sells My Thirty One, and I bought the tote when another friend hosted a party. I didn't actually attend the party, just ordered the tote with the plan to use it weekly to transport my food swap meals. It works perfectly for that. And I discovered that it also works great to transport my Sunday School supplies each week. And it is also great for events, like class parties, that I need to carry lots of things to. For Caroline's Valentine's party at school, I just sat the tote in my bedroom and added the party items as I bought them. On party day, I just grabbed the bag and went! I use it, too, as my Costco "bag" instead of boxes. It is easier to carry inside and I don't have to bother recycling any boxes.

You can browse all the My Thirty One pretties (they have several other products and bags. I have my eye on the About Town blanket for summer picnics and park time.

My party is March 12 if you'd like to come or just place an order. The whole catolog is here:

http://catalog.thirtyonegifts.com/page1.html

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feb Faves: Stellar Transition Trainers by No Babies Allowed

Both girls seemed to grasp the potty concept at the same age -- 25 months. This time, though, I am taking the lazy mom approach to avoid having to abandon my grocery cart when I'm next in line to run a little girl to the bathroom and I'm putting Elizabeth in training panties for a couple of months. I love these I got from No Babies Allowed, made from the Stellar Transitions pattern. They are cute (these are not mine). They are waterproof, but still pull down easily like regular panties. And they snap off in case of poop accidents, which we do still have very often.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Feb Faves: my calm personality

To call myself calm now is a pretty big statement. As a child, I was the crier, the panicker, the ball of stress. I remember crying hysterically and hyperventilating in first grade when I accidentally wrote my name (IN PENCIL) in a workbook that we were not allowed to write in.

Well, somehow along the way, I calmed down. Thank goodness. Let me give you a glimpse of three minutes in my life. As I am unloading groceries, Elizabeth strips herself down to use the potty. As I turn, with too many items in my hand, I drop a zipper bag of popcorn that scatters everywhere -- in the cat food, on the floor, in the pantry, in the recycle bin. I grab the Dyson and start vacuuming as Elizabeth comes up wiping herself with about a third of a square of toilet paper. I glance at the potty. Sure enough, she's pooped. So, I turn off the vacuum, wipe her properly, wash her hands, and finish getting up the popcorn. No stress. Just business.

Yesterday, I locked Elizabeth in the car during a rainstorm. I did not even cry. I just called John to bring the keys and stood in the rain singing to her through the window.

I wonder if it's like how some people's hair changes to curly after pregnancy/childbirth. Maybe being a mother has given me stronger nerves. :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feb Faves: volunteering in the classroom

(oops, I missed two days! I'm not keeping up with this NaNoBloMo so well, but I am getting back in the swing of blog-journaling, which was the whole point. I think I can finish off these last five days of the month.)

I'm Caroline's kindergarten room mom. While I did retire from LLL this summer to (for one reason) have more time to volunteer at C's school, I did not intend to be room mom. The mom who signed up to do it pulled her daughter out the first week of school, so the teacher was left without a volunteer. Several moms said they would do it if nobody else could, but they all worked full or part time. Once again, I thought, well, the gift I have now is time, so I'll do it. So, I am in Caroline's classroom briefly every Thursday to put together take-home folders, and I rotate weeks with a friend (one watches our toddlers while the other volunteers in the classroom during reading group time.) I look forward to my weeks in the classroom. I really enjoy it and realize that maybe I will go back into teaching. For a while, I did not. Then I thought I would. Then I thought no because, while I would have the same breaks as the kids, I would not be able to pop over for class parties or lunch as I would be busy in my own classroom. My current train of thought is that I would just dedicate a personal day for each girl for one class party and one time to have lunch with them and give the teaching thing a go again in a few years. (Once Texas recovers from its current educational finance fiasco and Elizabeth in is first grade.) I did let my certification expire, so I'll need to take some classes to re-certify and figure I'll do that slowly when she's in pre-K and K. I really do fantasize about returning to work, but being here with the girls is my priority. And even once they are both in school, I reserve the right to decide they need me more than I need a job.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Feb Faves: someone else's words

Happiness is a choice. It's all about your perspective.

Instead of my own words, today I share someone else's words and pictures.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Feb Faves: (a tie!)

Two of my favorite things related to today:
Having my sister live within day-trip driving distance

and

Salt Lick BBQ

Those two together made for a great Saturday evening.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feb Faves: Five Year Olds

As the book says, Your Five Year Old: Sunny and Serene. And, of course, my five year old goes beyond sunny and serene to be a peace maker. At the park yesterday, she was playing off and on with two other little girls, also kindergartners. A little boy and his mom were playing on the teeter totter when her baby woke up and she went to get him out of his stroller. The two girls ran and jumped on the teeter totter and the boy burst into tears. Caroline ran to him and showed him several options of ways he could play on the teeter totter with the other girls, even offering for him to sit in her lap in the middle. I just love her. Do I get to take full credit for how cool she is?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Feb Faves: libraries

I think I've gushed before about the library. But, really, it is just such a fabulous place and makes my life easier. I actually have dual-library citizenship, thanks to the Tex-Share card. With it, as long as I stay in good standing with my "home" library, the Austin Public Library, I can renew, for free, this card to have access to other library cards. I have a Cedar Park Public Library card, thanks to Tex-Share.

I prefer Cedar Park's children's programming and story times, so Elizabeth and I go there weekly for a story time. We go with Caroline occasionally, about once a month. From there, I check out movies for the girls as they have a great selection and children's books.

Since it is hard to browse the stacks with a two-year-old, I take advantage of holds at the Austin Public Library for my reading. I just put four books on hold -- two for me and two titles I want for Elizabeth that (to save me browsing for them at CPL while she pulls off other books that she "wants." I browse the catalog from home via the interwebs, use my library card number to place the hold, get an email when they are available, and pick them up at the drive-thru window at the library. How cool is that!?

Now, go hug a librarian!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Feb Fave: my community

I'm there now! I like it here. I really do. I know I've bemoaned the lack of community here, my desire to move to what I thought was a more close-knit community. I think I just needed to narrow my circle a bit to find what was in my own backyard.

Caroline starting at the neighborhood school certainly helped with that. After I dropped her off at ballet today, saying "Hi" to a mom from the class before I've known from music class and LLL connections since Caroline was two, chatting with another friend and former LLL co-Leader, catching up with a mom whose daughter Caroline has played with since they were infants, seeing six other little girls from Caroline's school, all, as always, thrilled to see Caroline, I realized as I drove to the Y where I ran into more kids from Caroline's school, that this is what I wanted. That feeling of running into Burton's/TJ&A's/Market Basket (depending on the year) in Mauriceville and knowing most of the people shopping. I wanted Home. And I love my Home.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feb Faves: (oops, I missed a day!) and Netflix watch instantly

Oops, I was supposed to blog every day in February, and I missed the half-way day! Let's just assume I would have gushed about Valentine's Day (which I would not have) or my lovely family (which I would have).

My fave today is Netflix -- both the mail kind and the watch instantly. We have a fancy hook-up so we can watch internet shows (hulu, netflix, etc.) on our TV.

Some of my (well, the kids' )favorite watch-instantly shows (the availability changes frequently, so these may not be up long) are
The Nutcracker
Peter Pan
Ponyo

When we want a certain movie or show, I first check Netflix watch instantly, then Hulu.com, then the library. If I can't get it those places, I'll add it to my Netflix queue and will even occasionally fork over the $1.99 to rent it on amazon on demand.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Feb Faves: New Cosmetics (and gifts with purchases!)

I love visiting the cosmetics counter for new skin-care luxuries. I just feel so pampered when I get new face cream or eye cream. Even better when there's a gift with purchase. I plan my purchases now with the help of My Gift with Purchase so I am sure to get some good stuff for free. I'm a Lancome girl, save for two make-up items that I've been a faithful MAC customer for the last 15 years or so. I stopped by the MAC counter at Macy's yesterday, though, to discover they discountinued their Studio Fix foundation stick that I use as concealer. I love it and am pretty bummed. But, I suppose I should feel reassured that the saleslady told me I should be using liquid concealer now "because you're showing more lines than you really have." What does that even mean? How is that possible. And I know because I've been without eye cream for a month waiting for the Lancome Gift with Purchase at Macy's!  It's all good, though, and I didn't feel insulted. But yeah, having a beauty staple for 15 years really isn't best for my look anyway. Those years snuck by without me even realizing what a stuck-in-my-routine fuddy duddy I was. Apparently, I shouldn't be using powder anymore, either. Cause I'm old!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feb. Faves: C25K

C25K

That's Couch to Five K
as in getting your booty from the couch to running 5K

I'm doing it and just completed week five of the nine week program and must say
IT IS INCREDIBLE!
I sincerely do not think I have ever, in my entire life, ran for 20 minutes straight, but today, I did. I actually ran longer, probably 25 minutes straight because my iPod Touch turned off when I put it in my pocket and I had to resume the run.

I feel like this is a huge accomplishment, but I see on facebook what a trend running is and feel like a slow wimp, with friends training for marathons (and longer!) and running 11, 20, 50 miles for their long weekend runs! Running is the new yoga, eh?

But really, since my butt was on the couch five weeks ago (eating chocolate chip cookies), I am just going to be happy with running my (VERY SLOW) 25 minutes today. Elizabeth could have been my pace car, riding along on her scooter, but speed is not the goal at this point. Running is. Next weekend,  I plan to invest in some new running shoes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feb Faves: Easy*Bake!



One of my favorite toys as a kid was my Easy*Bake oven. I remember trips to Gemco with whatever saved money I had to buy the little mixes. I got Caroline one for Christmas. Gemco doesn't exist anymore (that I know of), and I'm much more frugal than I was back when all my income was disposable. So, rather than pay $13.35 for two cake mixes (I realize frosting is included, but STILL!), I made my own -- a dozen mixes for a buck! I found a recipe online and measured out three tablespoons of cake mix into snack-sized Ziplock bags. Caroline just needs to add one tablespoon of milk when she's ready to bake. We tried one out after dinner tonight, and it was much tastier than the mix that came with the oven, too.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feb Faves: Two Year Olds


Elizabeth helps me unload the dishwasher by putting away the flatware. Today, she did it with no help. Honestly, she did better than some adults would have. :-)

I love TWO! Really, I do. For both girls, it has been a really fun age with exploding verbal skills and humor and engagement. I am fascinated by the sense of order that comes with two. A place for everything and everything in its place. It is more than a personality quirk specific to the Bindel girls, too. This is the age of Montessori's sensitive period for order.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Feb. Faves: My girls' personalities

The similarities and the differences amaze me. At times, I am struck by how different they are. And a moment later, I see Elizabeth do something that instantly brings back a memory of Caroline doing the exact thing.

And at times, I deprive Elizabeth things unintentionally just because her sister didn't like it and I just got in the habit of doing things one way.

Like making peanut butter sandwiches (sans jelly) because Caroline doesn't like sweet things. Having a brown bag lunch with a friend and her toddler earlier this week, I realized that Elizabeth would LOVE jelly. So today, I made her a pbj sandwich. Sweet girl, bless her. She took one bite and said "YUM!"  Then she did her best to lick all the jelly off that she could before taking a few more bites. Love her!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Today I really do need to remember my favorite things . . .

I'm surprised at how sad I feel, to be honest. I learned today that the division of the company I've been freelancing for the past four years is being acquired.  That could have been a good thing -- that is actually how I came to work for this client in the first place -- the original project I was on was acquired by this bigger company and I went along. Well, that doesn't seem to be an option this time.

This gig has been a true favorite thing of mine. A very little bit of extra income. A cool job description to add to the glamorous life of a stay-at-home-mom. Work I enjoyed. And could do while my little one napped. From home. Really, just perfect.

So, if you happen to know of any publishing houses looking for a copy editor to complete a 250-300 page manuscript every two weeks, let me know. I'm really good with deadlines. I query kindly and edit with a light hand.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Feb. Faves: Amazon Prime

Another of my favorite things: Amazon Prime.

No more adding an item I don't need to get to the $25 free shipping. No last-minute trips to a toy store, kids in tow, for birthday party gifts. No more trips to the PO to ship gifts to out-of-town family. I order it on Amazon and have it shipped for free -- in two days!

I did the math. It pays for itself in 16 uses, which granted is a lot of Amazon ordering for most people. But I am an online shopper. My kids recognized the letters UPS about the same time they recognize HEB (and we all know that now that you can't spell Texas without HEB.) That UPS guy visits my porch a few times a week.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Feb Faves: keepin' it fresh



Side note: As it is a NEW discovery, I can't count it as a "favorite" just yet, but I have found Mod Podge and it very well may become a favorite thing. I'm not crafty as I am not detail-oriented enough to do crafts well. This is pretty easy, though. Mod Podge may well figure in frequently in my methods to keep things fresh. In the picture here, I used Mod Podge and card stock to redo a toddler table I bought at a resale shop five years ago. The table was used as-bought for several years. Then I painted the top with chalk-board paint to make it a drawing table. It didn't get much use (mostly because I have to hide the chalk from the toddler who eats it), so I decided to cutesy it up a bit in Elizabeth's room. I'll probably put her tea set on it for the first rotation.

(and now for our scheduled programming -- my favorites)

I inherited from my grandmother the need to change things up around my house. The stories of Nanny knocking down walls, moving plumping even, to change the house are numerous. In her little house now, where she's lived the past twenty years or so, her kitchen has been in at least three different places. The KITCHEN! And more than once in each of these locales. That is not an easy room to move, you know! My own mother did not take her inherited obsession so far, but we did frequently move our furniture around. It was always a fun day when we'd rearrange the living room!

So, I move the girls' rooms around frequently, moving from bedroom to playroom to seperate bedrooms, changing up the arrangements, converting closets, etc. I live with someone who is a bit more resistent to change (or maybe he's just normal), so I don't get to do near as much as I dream (converting the formal open dining room into an enclosed all-purpose room entered from the garage (I'm still nagging and dreaming, so I just might get that room in ten years), but I still manage to get John's help on weekends to move the big things and drill holes in the walls, and fill in old holes.

It keeps life interesting.
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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Feb Faves: Looking back

One of the main reasons I wanted to blog daily this month and get back into keeping this up is that I get so much joy from reading my old posts. They are a snapshot of life during those days. I visit the girls' photo blogs most often, just looking back and remembering. And already I have that mother's memory of just remembering the good things. I love to look at Caroline's photo blog at the age that Elizabeth is at. I've come to realize that they are more alike than I realize when I so often describe their personalities as opposite. They are different, but when I read how I recorded the funny things Caroline said at this age on her blog, that we are at that same stage with Elizabeth. I see that Caroline was obsessed with wearing boots everywhere at about the same age. I remember that Caroline's sense of order emerged at about this same age, just as Elizabeth's is.

But reading my own blog, my journal, reminds me about my life and what was going on. Even the frequency of my posts is telling. Lots of posts are times when I wasn't over-committed in other areas and had some quiet time while my little one napped.

I am so glad I have these blogs to serve as my journal.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Feb. Faves: SNOW DAYS!!



Though this year it's actual snow, Austin's February "snow days" are actually ice days, most years. But I'll count them, either way, as one of my favorite things because these trapped-at-home days force a little peace on us. You make do at home with what you have on hand (a good reason to buy flour and sugar and chocolate chips in bulk as I do!) You get creative in entertaining your kids. The daily must-dos and must-gos cease for a bit. Lovelieness!
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Thursday, February 03, 2011

February Favorites: There's an app for that!

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

 Last year I fell in love with the Motivated Moms chores list. They made a good thing even better by developing an iPhone app for it now! So, my iPod Touch now has daily for me a checklist of my chores. I mark them off as I complete them and can stop at the items listed confident that my house will stay somewhat ship shape.

I'll tell you what I like about these housekeeping lists overall. They give me a stopping point. Sure, with two kids, two cats, and one husband who creates clutter like two, I could spend hours a day cleaning the house and still feel like I'm running on a hamster wheel. With these lists, though, I do what is on the list and stop. The other parts of the house will fall into shape on the days assigned.

Here's the app:
http://motivatedmoms.com/appsupport.htm
I rarely pay more than .99 for an app, but this one is almost 10 bucks and totally worth it (if you do truly use it.)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Happy Birthday, John!



I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so sad.

Not that I feel sad very often at all. But another of my favorite things -- my sweet, smart, cute, loving husband, who just happens to be a great dad, super friend, strong leader, and good earner. I just love him! And today he is 39 years old. Doesn't look a day over 25, though, which irks me some days but is pretty nice.
Happy Birthday to my love!
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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things -- AKA: Let's get back to blogging this February

I had a splendid little time perusing my old blog entries and I realized I've been neglecting this journal of mine. So, to get myself back in the swing, I am going to NaBloPoMo for the month of February.

In honor of watching The Sound of Music with my sweet girls last week (several times!), my February theme will be about my favorite things. And maybe in the process of recording my favorites, I'll catch up my journal on what has been going on/is going on in our lives.

WHEN THE FLU HITS:
Tamiflu is one of my favorite things.

Caroline got hit hard with the cooties late last week. She didn't feel well Thursday afternoon and woke up in the night running a fever. I was selfishly thankful that she woke up during the night with the fever rather than me getting up with my alarm at 6:44, brushing my teeth, packing her lunch and starting the laundry, before going to wake her and finding her with a temp. At least with her waking in the night, I could turn my alarm off then and know I didn't need to wake at any set time. She was out of it all day Friday, with her temperature reaching close passing 103. I called the pediatrician Saturday morning and got an appointment to see his partner who diagnosed an ear infection in each ear. The new partner (young and cracking jokes) didn't see any reason to swab her for the flu and strep tests. I wanted to know, though, especially since we had just received an email from the school nurse to let her know if our kids had confirmed cases of the flu. He swabbed her (and thanked her for not puking on him) and came back within a few minutes to let me know she was positive for both. He added a Tamiflu prescription to the antibiotics. Within 24 hours, the lethargic Caroline was gone and my bubbly little girl was back. Yay for catching it quickly and Yay for Tamiflu. (I will not dwell on the fact that she was also vaccinated for the flu in November. Perhaps, though, that also contributed to her quick recovery.)