Monday, April 30, 2012

Our Weekend~All Wrapped Up

Well, aside from the rain, it looks like the weather has decided to warm up FINALLY this coming week. After last week's 40s and 50s for the high, I was definitely wishing we lived in Arizona. Everytime I'd go to switch out Lily's clothes from winter to spring and summer, the temperature would plummet. So, her room is amass with all seasons waiting to be transitioned. 

If you missed my post yesterday.... I was wrong...there's still 15 hours {as of now}left to do this!

Friday night, we headed to the mall to pick up a couple things and decided we'd eat supper at the food court.  A nice treat! Lily and I had Chic-Fil-A, Andrew had Five Guys and George wanted Chinese. While we were sitting and eating, I noticed a man and a woman with a toddler and a teeny baby eating a little ways from us. The man made eye contact with me, then asked, "Did you go to Arizona State?" I was wearing an ASU sweatshirt {yes, a sweatshirt at the end of April}.   He and his wife also went to ASU an had been in Pittsburgh for about 3 years.  Turns out he went to a high school in the same district I had also. He graduated the same year as my youngest brother. George and I talked with them about the local ASU Alumni chapter and the send-off party in the summer too, so we hope we'll see them there!  Small world.

We decided before it got too crazy to let Lily play in the play area before we headed home. She's just a joyful little person. Happy to run and just laughs while she does it.  This was the first time she went down the slides on her own too. She made herself go down backwards on her belly and said, "Weeeeee!"

Saturday, we headed to celebrate my friend, Tracy's, daughter's 1st birthday party! She did an amazing job on all her crafts and decor!  Charlie was born on Easter Sunday last year and is exactly 9 months younger than Lily. I love that they share the 24th & I never forget how old Charlie is too. :) 

Good food, good friends, loud kids. :)  I feel very lucky to have found Tracy, Stef and Amy through twitter and blogging and enjoy all our time together! We missed a couple others from our moms group, but that is life ~ we all have so much going on, it's nice when it works out for even some of us to get together.
Happy 1st Birthday, Charlie!

Lily was already chasing boys. :)

Sunday was an uneventful day hanging around the house doing a whole lotta nothing but homework, a few odds and ends housework/projects and lots of playing. 

Was a perfect relaxing family weekend!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Super Deal on Personalized Gifts!

I wanted to share a great online deal with you!!! Today is the last day to take advantage of it, but it's a good one and you don't want to miss out!  

Yesterday, we headed to a first birthday party of a blogger/twitter turned in-person friend's baby girl. On the gift, I attached a gift tag that I had made for Lily to give with gifts.  I got asked a lot of questions about it, so I figured I'd post about it here and share the fantastic deal going on now {last day} where you can get some too!  Plus there's a promo code for an additional 25% off and y'all know me and coupons!

I scanned the actual labels really quickly, so the scan quality isn't the greatest, but to have an idea of what I'm talking about:

These are the three different ones I currently have {obviously I removed our last name}.  The colors are super vibrant and they definitely start conversations when attached to gifts. I love them! I've ordered a few more for gifts. 

There are so many things to choose from with this company and I have always loved personalized gifts, so this is right up my alley!

Bottom line: you can get a $50 voucher for only $25 bucks!! 
Add the promo code: MOM25 for an additional 25% off then you'll have $50 to spend on things like that for a grand total of  only $18.75!! 
*don't forget the promo code

I also have the Life Planner and the address book.  All of the products are AMAZING and customer service is phenomenal.  Do it!  Check out what they've got at: Erin Condren. Also, once you've bought this awesome voucher, there are coupon codes you can use at the store too for even more savings.

Click HERE to get this deal!

Happy Sunday, Happy Shopping!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Earth Wind & Fire...Do You Remembah

It's interesting to me when I stop to think of the season that being a mom of a tween and a toddler at the same time puts me in.  Most days, I'm immersed in stories of language development and toddler-wrangling until later in the day then it's homework, discussions about friends and responsibilities all while little miss is running around wanting to chatter to everyone and climb all over me.

Last night was orientation for the parentals {me} for junior high school.  My first baby is going to junior high.  He was just a baby yesterday, you know.

As we sat in the auditorium listening to the principals and the guidance counselor talk about what to expect, when the orientation for the kids would be, and other varying transitional information, we learned the team names that the students will be broken into are called: Earth, Fire, & Wind. 

Ok, come on, I was not the youngest of the group by any means and they really should just say, "Earth, Wind & Fire," and give the incoming 7th graders a theme song from the band.   Anywho, I thought it was funny and later when I asked Andrew if he knew what the teams were called, he even said Earth, Wind & Fire.  So, of course I broke into song in the car.  He rolled his eyes and said, "Mom. Don't embarrass me." Which prompted me to started singing louder. :)  Ohhhhhhh the fun of a tween! *muhahah*

The one major piece of info that was truly helpful was learning the date of the kids' orientation in August.  With his dad being out of state, we have some rearranging to do already.  School also starts earlier next year than it previously has, so this kid has a jam packed summer of travel 6 weeks before school is even out.

Shortly, after I got home from orientation, we headed out  to Andrew's hockey game.  This was the 2nd of the season after he took the winter season off.  The weather has recently gotten cold again and it was freezing at the game. George and the girls stayed home because the game had a late start and it was so cold.
Andrew played really well and is working on improving his own game by focusing on anticipating plays.  I love hockey and it's really enjoyable to watch him play~especially when he's on and putting in great effort to do his best!

The ended up winning 11 to 0 after their 1st game ended in a 0 to 0 tie after overtime.  So far, the season's off to a good start! Everyone keeps asking where Lily is since no one has really seen her since last fall. She'll be a lot of fun at the deck now since she loves to run and will have room to do just that while Andrew's playing.  Next week he's got three games, so hopefully the weather will cooperate and warm up.

It was a good night of Andrew-centered business to attend to and I always enjoy my one-on-one time with him even if it's just a ride in the car.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lil' Bit of Life

Happy Thursday!

Lily and I have had a productive morning in the kitchen since Andrew and Reag headed off to school.  Andrew is on day two of a science centered field trip, so I was up early packing his lunch, ensuring he was weather appropriate to be outdoors all day and getting all the things signed and returned to school that the big kids need each day.

After a breakfast of waffles for Andrew, Count Chocula for Reagan and yogee {yogurt} and Cheerios for Lily that resulted in her second timeout over breakfast, it was kitchen cleanup and dishes time. 

Whenever I'm cooking or doing something in the kitchen, Lily likes to be right in there too.  Most times, she plays with her play kitchen mimicking and chattering about washing her hands, counting what pans she's using or opening and closing the cabinets and turning knobs.  I love it! Well, except when I'm trying to make supper and she's hurling all her pots, pans, spoons etc. all over the kitchen floor so I have to move carefully around the landmines she's just planted.

I did the dishes while she played and made me eggs ~ "eggs mama?" I see now that the egg she made me was formerly a landmine on the floor. :)

See that scrape on her face in the last picture? Poor baby! Last night she played outside with Andrew and Reag and tripped on the concrete.  She scraped her face and her fingers, but otherwise ok. No screaming. A few tears at first, but they quickly stopped because she wanted to keep playing.

She was so happy to be outside with the big kids!

One final Lily note...we've GOT to fix the way she says "frog"...


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Some Random Musings

I've got some random stuff to dump tonight. Some of it funny, some it annoying, some of it venting. None of it worthy of an individual post on its own, so it'll all get lumped together and out of my head.  That works for me and well, since I write for me, that's exactly what I'll do.

~ Have you ever accidently sent a text to someone other than to who you meant to send it?  Let me give you an example:  tonight I sent a quick text to a friend who also has an iPhone {which means it should be blue on my screen}. It was still green {non-iPhone}. Whoops.  So, I yelled to my husband in the other room, "Hey, I just sent you a text accidently I meant for Carisa." 

No biggie, right.

Rewind 3 years. I did the same thing with the same people. Only then I was standing in front of the courthouse dealing with false abuse allegations in the middle of a custody trial and I had some not so nice choice words to say about someone in my husband's life.  Yikes!!!

The moment we were all standing together and my husband read his text {not intended for him} and looked at me silently wondering why I had written what I did, was seared into my memory. I felt terrible. 

His reply to me tonight, "You weren't calling {blank} names again were you?" and laughed. I laughed too.

Lesson learned.

~The husband got a nasty email from BM today and we had a good laugh about it. 
Apparently, me emailing Reag's friend's mom basically saying, "BM won't let Reagan come to the slumber party unless you send her the same information we did directly, can you please just appease her?" Again, EM-barrassing.    Reag asked BM on the phone again tonight if she was allowed to go and BM told her, "As long as your dad will take you."  WHAT?!  

People who argue both sides of everything to suit their own convenience are ridiculous.  One side is: oh I only have blah blah short time with MY daughter, no way can she do ANYTHING like Brownies or anything that normal kids do and I can't pick her up/drive her/let her/control her because of blah blah blah, so of course you can't have her come do anything in your neighborhood on a weekend because it's MY time. While the other side is: "As long as your dad will take you." even though it's not HIS time it works out conveniently for me and I don't give a crap whether he has anything to do Friday night since it's all about me anyway, so if HE doesn't do it for you and make his family's schedule work for me, then you can't go. 

Nice position, bit BM.  Of course, we'll ensure she's taken care of. We always do and always will. And don't think you're the hero in this, you're not. Pathetic.

People, if you  have a child with someone, ensure they are sane and their family is also.  It will save you more headache than I could ever tell you.  And if you divorce, do right by your children always. It's never about you anymore.  Thank you to my ex-husband & his fiance for walking right in this with us.

~Today, I forgot one of the kids had an appointment late this afternoon. CRAP! Or as Lily will say, "Cap!" oops.  What that meant was calling the school and rearranging the afterschool bus riding to car pick up and more importantly that meant Lily only ended up with 45 minute nap for the whole day.  Luckily, she was in perfect Lily mode and was entertaining, happy and just full of joy.  She kept an entire waiting room laughing, smiling and talking.  She makes me smile always.  She knows no stranger and I often wonder watching other people interact with her, if she creates a change in their attitude at the moment. She is infectious.  I am so grateful for the gift of being her mother.

~Ok, bloggers. Captcha on your comments. Gotta go.   Change it in your settings.
You know how many times I write out a comment and then think it's posted only to realize that the blogger had captcha enabled and my comment is not there? Countless.  I hate it. And honestly, I won't go back and retype it all because time is valuable and there isn't enough in the day.

On the subject of commenting, thank you to those who do or email me instead of commenting publicly. I appreciate it.  I see who reads and I appreciate the conversation. I have been very lax about replying via email to comments left, but I assure you, I appreciate all of them.  My way of fixing that is to enable the "reply" within the comment section, so I will be doing that FOR. SURE!
I love that feature!!

~I seriously love Elise's voice on American Idol, but I cannot get past the chick's personality. So annoying. And I do not understand the fawning all over Joshua. Whatever. They'll all have deals, so it doesn't matter. If Taylor Hicks can win one season....blech.   Phillip Phillips' name annoys me, but man I love that kid!  He has this sultriness about him that I lovelovelove!

~That'll about do it, I think. Oh!  I hate the three hour time change between Arizona and here. It's always too early or too late to talk to family and friends.  And trying to enforce bedtimes for kids when it's light out still seriously sucks.  I'm ready for summer.

~And one final thing, I do have a giveaway coming up soon!  And when I hear the company's name, I always ALWAYS think of one song in particular.  Funny it came on this morning when I was taking the kids to school:  ooooohhhhh fun hint!

An Off Tuesday

Yesterday was election day in PA, so Andrew and Reagan had a day off from school on a rare day where Reag is with us.  If there's no school on Mondays or Fridays {which most of them are}, she stays with BM, so we when we say we have no non-school time, it's no joke.  This is the 3rd day {not a holiday} all school year. Makes it tough to have playdates or even some downtime at home for her.

I had mentioned yesterday about the upcoming slumber party that the odds are not in favor she'll be able to attend.  So on Monday night when I got an email from her friend's mom asking if Reag was available on Tuesday for a playdate, we were all excited.  I wish I could have captured the reaction when we told her she was invited and would be able to go if she wanted.  She was beaming! Such gratitude and excitement for being able to do "normal kid" things.  They're not normal for her, sadly. She was thrilled!

Andrew had a friend come over Monday night to spend the night and stay up too late doing 12 year old boy things like playing videogames, laughing and playing online computer games with each other sitting side by side. I didn't see them much except for food.  George gave them a "lights out" time and I didn't see them again until morning...for food.  Nor for much of the day...except for food. Boys.

While Andrew and his friend stayed here for the day, Reagan headed over to her friend's house and off they went to the zoo for part of the morning and then hung out back at their house for the afternoon. We heard stories of meerkats, playing outside, dance parties, "my very best friend" all evening. She also said they had a conversation about the slumber party.  It was honestly very sad.

Friend:    "Are you coming for my birthday?"
Reag:       "I'm not sure yet."
Friend:     "Why? Don't you want to come?"
Reag:      "It's not that! I do want to come. I'm not sure my mom is going to let me.
                 Not the mom that let me come over today. The mom I live with on
                 the weekends."
Friend:     "I hope she does."
Reag:        "Me too."

The rest of Reagan's recounting of events of the day were filled with excitment and lots of "it was really fun"s.  That kind of stuff, she does not take forgranted.

Lily and I hung out at home, I wiped her runny nose 185239279 times, she chattered all day long, we read books, she had her first big timeout moment in the morning and took a 40 minute nap due to the power going out which of course caused her sound machine to turn off.   When the power came back on about 5 minutes later, well, it was too late for napping. She was not going back to sleep. 

She decided she'd play with the boys some too. They didn't seem to notice. :)

It was a happy, out of the ordinary Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chronicles of Inflexibility

I read stories about blended families all the time and sometimes I think, "Sheesh. Glad we don't have to go through that aspect."  Other times I think, "I so wish we had that experience."  But, the fact is, we  have what we have.    I can commiserate connect with other stepmoms based on all of it.  Those connections are sometimes the only things that make it bearable...knowing we are not alone.

One element I will never understand about our situation is the inflexibility about doing what's right for my stepdaughter with regard to her time and activities. 

As I've mentioned before, Reagan was involved in Brownies this year per her desire. Last week was their final meeting of the year {once a month}.  When filling out the survey about the experience, it was difficult because when asked what her favorite activity was during the course of the year, Reagan had only two to choose from. She missed the 15+ others because they were during BM's time and BM refused to allow Reagan to participate on "her time."  So, she attended a meeting once a month and the only two activities that fell during the week rather than on a weekend.  She missed out on a zoo overnight, a 2 day camping trip, countless service activities, a Father-Daughter dance, a Haunted House, selling cookies with her troop at the grocery store, Earth Day clean-up among others. 

Last week while we were eating supper, we were talking about Andrew's upcoming hockey season and she said most of her friends are playing soccer now and she wants to play a sport.  Tricky situation, kid.  We told her that she needs to tell her mom because it's not fair to herself or a team that she misses out on half the games because her mom won't bring her. {We've already been down this road in the past.} There is a clause in the custody order to cover this, but BM refuses to follow it anyway, so it's pointless.

Realistically it's not fair for a team to not be able to count on a participant to show up and take the place of another who can and will show up.  We explained that as well.  She won't tell BM she wants to do anything anyway.   She's been taught that she won't be able to, so she just doesn't hope or ask anymore.

It's not simply sports or scouts either.  Birthday parties in the past have been denied or told she can go, then the rug pulled out at the last minute.  Even with an upcoming birthday slumber party, she said she's not allowed to go because the mom didn't send the information to BM directly. Ok, crazycakes. That's seems fair.  The friend's mom and I have worked on committees together, we have kids in two same classrooms {Andrew and her older daughter are in the same class too} and are friends. So, she sent the information to me. Why wouldn't she since all of the above mentioned? 

George simply forwarded it to BM. All of it. The flyer with info. He didn't re-write it or change it.  So instead of going to a slumber party with her best friend on a Friday night until Saturday morning because Reagan didn't get invited BM's way, she misses out again. Control psycho freak, anyone?

Here's the thing. Reagan tells her own friends that BM won't let her do anything on "her time."  Those friends tell their parents. Thus, those parents don't want to get involved in the chaos. {me neither}.  This was one of the parents taking a shot in the dark that Reag would be able to come because HER daughter really wants Reagan there.  Pretty soon, those invitations just won't come.  And that is simply hurtful to Reagan. Not us. We ensure Reagan participates and has a rich life during the time she's with us by normal family participation as well as activities.  For the record, I don't talk about BM with school folks because she's embarrassing to me and I don't want any association with her at all, so there's not that factor with Reagan's friends' parents.

The inflexibility doesn't end there, sadly. Last weekend when we headed out of town, George took a shot in the dark and asked BM if Reag could come with us. {Of course, BM would never give without getting, so he offered her 3 extra days in the summer out of his custodial schedule.}
She ignored him for a few days and after we'd sent Reag off to school Friday {the day BM's representatives pick her up}, she decided to answer telling him he needed to plan things on his "ample time" with Reagan.  hahahahahhahahahaha!

Yeah, ok.  While we're busy ensuring she's successful in school, attending doctor and dental visits, participating in extracurricular activities and being the parents, we'll just whisk away out of school and work because it's "our time".  This is the real world, honey. Not the fantasyland you reside in.  The responsibilities of the actual work in being her parents lie with us. You've successfully become the person she visits on the weekends by your own doing. 

We've been on the weekend side with her. We still ensured her life was rich with time and activity as best we could.  Only 6 more weeks of school and then we switch to a week on/week off which I'm sure will bring another set of issues with BM, but we'll see. I'm looking forward to the break.

Reagan is to call the non-custodial parent each night per the legality of life when your kid is in the family court system.  While this was fitting in the past brought on when we'd go weeks with hearing from or seeing her during the custodial process, at this point an eight year old should not have to be forced to make phone calls to her parents.  She specifically says that if she doesn't call BM from our house then when she wants to call her dad when she's at BM's, she won't be allowed.  So the obligatory phone call gets made each night despite lack of desire.  However, when she does want to call her on a time when she's not "supposed to", BM doesn't answer anyway.  It's a joke all the way around.  A kid should be able to call her parent to share, say goodnight, I miss you, I love you, hi or whatever because she WANTS to WHEN she wants to. 

Last week, I suggested that Reag FaceTime BM instead of just calling {in an effort to encourage the desire versus obligation}. After explaining that BM could set it up via email instead of with her phone number {that she's legally obligated to give, but doesn't because she thinks we want it to harrass her. whatever *coo coo*} Reagan was able to FaceTime with BM two nights. We suggested she sit on the porch for privacy and she was able to enjoy a conversation with BM and see her baby sister during the week.  Rest assured that will never happen in the reverse. Ever.  I still suggested it because something needed to be better for Reagan. And that's why we do what we do. For her.

We're at the point where we have no expectation regarding BM allowing Reagan to participate in anything that is associated with us, school, our family, her friends, or time.  We just go about it without her and although we desire her to be with us, we're not putting our lives on hold because she's stuck with inflexibility on her other side.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Pictorial

I mentioned yesterday that we'd been away for the weekend.  This is Lily's version.

Watching Daddy getting ready to go fish.
{it was wayyyyyy too cold for the rest of us to go out with him}

 She kept hollering down to him, "Dadddddddddyyyyyyyyyyyy! Hi Dada!"

Then she'd look at the birds flying and talk to them for a bit.

And then run back and forth across the balcony.

Then back to Daddy...

"hmmmmm" what to do next?
{she literally says hmmmm when she puts her finger on her chin}

She decided to toss her hairbow over the balcony, "Awayyyyyyyy!"

Andrew went down to retrieve the hairbow and help Daddy with something.

Watching Daddy head off in the "boap"

Not thrilled about him leaving her...


Sunday, April 22, 2012

This One Time At Camp...


New Blogger, you surprised me.  I leave for a couple days and you go and change.  It's like dating in my 20s all over again.   Thank God, that's over.

Well, although I'm not one who loves things to change {that work just fine}, we'll see if this is as user-friendly as I'd like for it to be. I'll keep an open mind. ;)

Now, that I'm through talking to an inanimate object like it's real, {weirdo} I'll move on with the rest of my writing. 

I mentioned leaving for a couple day... Well, my family headed out of town{about an hour and a half away} for the weekend to my outlaws camp.  After 5 years of all things Pittsburgh, I still don't understand why people refer to a place as "camp".   It's definitely local though and not exclusive to my husband's family.  I've written about this before and it's still one of those things that sound weird. "I'm going to camp."~as a noun, not as a verb.  Pittsburgh puzzles me about things like this.

Anywhoooo, we headed to "camp" for the weekend. 
Well, actually the husband, the son and the pup headed up Friday night and Lily and I headed up early Saturday morning. I totally enjoyed a girls night Friday evening with Lily, just us.  She was in a great mood, funny and just happy.  She went to bed in time for mama to watch the Penguins do-or-die hockey game while George and Andrew got things squared away and settled at camp.

Lily and I headed out from home early and arrived around 10am. She was still sleepy~she NEVER sleeps in the car. Sweet sleepy girl.

It was rainy and cold most of the day, so we all spent the day hanging out, having lunch together, snacks, watching movies, playing video games and card games. 

Just my husband, my son, my daughter and myself.  Perfection. 

Minimal cell signal. No internet. No cable. Just family time. 

It was definitely needed. 

Friday night, the guys went out on the boat and my adoring husband who knows the little things keep me happy and snapped a picture of the two of them for me. 
♥ them!

They like their "man time."

Lily was 11 months when we were at camp last summer, {not the best 1st time} so this was a whole new adventure for her~ and us. She loved being outside on the balcony running back and forth, dancing and later calling down to her daddy on the river when he was getting on the boat.   And of course throwing her hairbow over the balcony... twice. Yelling "Awayyyyyyy!" each time.

She reminds us to appreciate the simple thing everyday and definitely keeps us on our toes!

There was some happy Daddy playtime and reading books on Daddy's phone. {The pop-up version of Peter Rabbit is really cutie!}

She loved not having a highchair and just being to eat like a big girl or whatever you want to call people to stand in chairs.

As we were eating, Lily was chattering about her body parts~particularly her face parts. "Eyes, Mama. Nose. Ears. Teeth. Hair...." 
That prompted a conversation between Andrew and I about her having blonde hair {what little she has} and brown eyes and him having {now} light brown hair and blue eyes.  I think they both have stunning eyelashes and eyes.

After Lily finally crashed, we watched a movie and played an eternally long game of Uno, laughed a lot and then went to bed.

{My father-outlaw has been doing a lot of drywall replacing, hence the ladder in the livingroom & they haven't officially "opened" for the season. We made due. :)}

Although, it was a brief time away, it was much needed.