Monday, June 28, 2010

Kids say....

Keegan: "Mom, a long time ago when I was 3 (he's 4) I had a bad dream about a monster that ate someone we did not know."

Kendall: after being put in time out "MOMMY, TIME OUT!"

Keegan: "Kendall, don't you want this knife; (plastic play kitchen knife that is EXACTLY like the one she has in her hand) let's trade." Kendall agrees, they swap. "Look mom, Kendall is sharing!(back to Kendall) You're such a good girl!"
Meanwhile, in the background: Joey: "Gee Wally, I didn't know sharing could be so much fun. Yep Beav, sharing always makes the world a better place. Isn't sharing so much better than fighting."
Maybe that one was so funny because I had only had a few sips of my coffee at that point...

Keegan: "Can we watch Erica's Funniest Videos?"
Me: "You mean America's Funniest Home Videos?"
Keegan: "No, it's Erica's Funniest Videos 'cause that's Erica" (pointing to Tom Burserand {sp?})
Joey: "His name is Tom, Keeg's and it's called America's Funniest Home Videos."
Keegan: "Nope dad, you're wrong"



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Surviving the Vacation Hangover









I'm sure you have noticed that vacation usually leaves you needing a vacation. Your routine has been changed, your surroundings offering unending exploration, normal is turned on its head. Well, we just got back from vacation. I loved it! We had so much fun going to Thomas the Train and visiting the Raymond's and Jamie in Chicago. Honestly, I didn't want it to end.

We started our galavant in Kansas City. My parents (Grumpy and Boo) joined us on our adventure. The pool at the hotel was great! It had a low grade entry so the kids had a rather large area to play in. Plus, there weren't very many other people enjoying the pool so we didn't have to worry about the kids splashes or squirt guns. There were some down sides. It rained every night making the ground rather squishy and the air humid. The hotel had its issues as well (the biggest being no micro-fridge in the room, we had to rent one but any mother knows that its well worth the money to do so) but, overall, the experience was great. Our trip to visit Thomas at the depot in Baldwin City was rather muddy from the rain. The event staff had tents up over all the activities which, in theory, should have been wonderful. The unfortunate part is that it rained 4 inches in as many hours the night before causing water to run down the sides and into the floor of the tents where it was unable to escape creating mud pits!! OYE-VAY! The train ride, however, was a big hit.

We also visited the zoo in KC which, I must say, is very large. The animals have lots of room to run, play and do animal things... wonderful for them, tough on us. It was lots of walking and we only made it through half of the zoo but the kids had fun anyway. Keegan got to be the leader and carry the map. Kendall and Murphy were out cold by the time we were walking out.

Next came Chicago. We hung out at Sarah and Bryan's in Oak Park (thanks by the way, guys). The kids had SO MUCH FUN running around with each other. I didn't think we were EVER going to get them to sleep that first night... or the second or third for that matter. We played at one of the local parks that had a splash park. Come on Fayetteville, you need to get on that wonderful idea! It was great until, right at the end, a girl rode her bike through the water (which was against the rules) and ran into Kendall. I was not very excited about that and neither was she. Joey got to go to a Cubs game with Jamie (the only one they won of the series). Of course, we went to Trader Joe's and the kids loved the mini grocery carts. We went into the city one day to visit the Shed. It was free all week so you would think that it wouldn't have been insanely crowded. I mean, people had all week! Unfortunately, it was Chicago, in the summer. Not only were the regulars there, the tourists were too. We got there early so we didn't have to wait in line very long but, as were looking around, the walls were closing in around us as more and more people poured in. After about an hour and half, we had to get out of there for a breather. We went out to the lawn to eat lunch and lines (there were two, one for strollers and handicap visitors and one for everyone else) were easily half a mile long each. We played outside for a while and decided not to try to venture back in. Instead we walked over to Meig's Field and let the kids play on the beach. Keegan got to go with Bryan and Tea on the EL back to Oak Park and so excited! We chilled out the next morning and then went into the city that evening for a concert at Millennium. On our way into the city, a giant storm blew in and the bottom fell out right as we got there. After about 30 minutes hiding out in a coffee shop, the rain let up enough that we could make to the pizza shop so instead of playing in the water, we ate an early supper while the rain finished moving through. We got the park, watched the concert, enjoyed a few glasses of wine and watched the kids run around in the grass. Afterward, we played around the Bean a while and then headed back to Jamie for bedtime. Jamie watched the kids for Joey and I the next morning so we could bike down the lake front which was WONDERFUL! That afternoon, Sarah, Bryan and the girls met us for some beach time and a wonderful pasta dinner made by Jamie. Bryan had brought the kites he had been building with the kids and, after adding tails, took Keegan and Tea out the try to fly them. Unfortunately, the wind had died down some and they ended up just playing at the park for a while. After a long 9 days, we headed home Sunday.

The kids really did amazingly well on the trip. Kendall had very few accidents and we had very few melt downs. Unfortunately, now that we are home, we have to readjust to our normal routine. No more getting away with staying up extra late and getting dessert even if they don't eat supper. Hence, the hangover! All in all, it was a great trip and I really am ready to go back but it is nice to have our own space. See ya' next time Chi-town!


Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Judge a Town by it's Grocery Store

I'm not really sure when my interest in grocery stores started. Like most children, I went to the store with my mom. In high school, I would go for her. I can remember starting college and going to the grocery store for the first, completely on my own; shoe-string budget and calculator in hand. I quickly had to learn the difference in "want" and "need"; when to indulge and when to hold back. I have carried that through the years and can now keep up with how much I'm spending in my head without the calculator.

Traveling with three kids, I have a need for grocery stores in various towns. Milk, PB&J, juice boxes, snack crackers, diapers or booze, grocery shopping is a regular event in my life, home or away. In my travels, I have noticed interesting differences in the stores. Now, I'm not talking about Super Centers. Those are pretty cookie cutter no matter where you go. I'm talking about actual grocery stores. I guess I shouldn't say "in my travels" because I moved across the state for college and discovered Smitty's (though I usually still shopped at Brookshire's which I had been used to growing up) then NWA and discovered Harp's. I consider Harp's my base comparision, though, because it where I have done most of my "adult" shopping and I have been using it for almost 9 years now. GREAT CHEESE BISCUITS, TIME FLIES!

Now, let me explain a little. Groceries stores tell the story of a community. This my sound a little profound or philosophical (or just plain screwy) but go with me here...

Think about it... when you walk in, are you lead to the right or the left? Are you met by non-grocery type things like pool toys, t-shirts or flowers or do you walk in to the deli or bakery? Maybe you make a sharp right straight into the produce; that is what most people in the community buy when entering that store. Walk into the processed foods, you better believe carts are filled with them. Is there a natural food section or isle? Do they offer ethnic foods? If so, how large is the selection? Can you purchase food in bulk? Do have an in-store butcher, fish monger or baker that actually knows how to work the oven and piping bag? How are the prices? You can tell a lot about cost of living by the price of milk (or soy milk if you're me). Let me give you some examples of my favorites.
In KC, my favorite is the Hy-Vee. I think you can find them throughout western Missouri, probably into Kansas and I saw a truck headed north into Iowa. I was introduced to this wonderful store by my brother-in-law Stephen while he was there for work (in KC, not Hy-Vee). I was so excited by this expansive store that I wanted to pee myself the first time I walked in. It was like a REAL STORE, like the ones you see on the Food Network... ARE YOU SERIOUS? I mean REALLY! I was beyond excited. They had a salad bar right as you walk in the front in that first store and several others I have visited. You can also get a variety of pre-made (as in they have people cooking it there) foods at there deli. Now, a lot of grocery stores offer fried chicken, a few deli sandwiches and such but they had homemade Chinese food, Sushi and I believe BBQ and pizza's. There meat counter had real butchers cutting large roasts down for customers and fish monger whom knew what he was talking about. A very large natural foods section in all the stores I visited boasted specialty teas and kid approved snacks. The prices were a little higher than I was used to paying but the quality seemed very worth it. They also have a very extensive spirits collection including an amazing blueberry wine that I found no where else.

In Chicago, I enjoy a few specialty stores likes Trader Joe's. If you are going to be small, be REALLY good at what you do and they are! Trader Joe's doesn't offer a huge variety of of things; you wouldn't be able to do all of your shopping there. Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds are AMAZING! I love their pasta sauce, pineapple salsa, FiberFull bars, Pita Chips, Whole Bean Coffee, Indian Fare, dried pasta and various other wonderful items. They also sell Santa Barbara Wine which is WONDERFUL and Two Brother's Beer, GREAT! Dominic's is a wonderful everything store. They carry their own brand of Light Vanilla Soy Milk which rather good. They also carry a brand of baby food called Organic Baby that was only $6.95 for 10 jars and had flavors like Vegetables with Lentils and Pear's with Raspberries. Murphy was SO EXCITED and so was I. I walked into an expansive produce section with apples that actually didn't even look waxed. The down side of Dominic's is that they have those obnoxious member's cards where you "extra" savings. The bad thing is that when you are just visiting those stores, you pay a little extra and the guy at the check out was a little pushy about it.

Yes, my obsession with grocery stores is a little nuts-o but its my life. The next time you walk into a grocery store, home or away, I bet you will look around and take note of what you see. If you are ever in NWA, KC or Chicago, feel free to check out some of the stores I mentioned and let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

When All Else Fails, Drink Wine

You should never underestimate the need to relax. Just Sayin'

Currently, Joey and I are sitting on the sofa watching The Family Guy version of Star Wars. HILARIOUS! Now, it might not be as funny if I weren't most of the way through a glass of wine but, hey, its been a roller coaster week. I told you about the house I wanted, right? Well, that stupid bubble we were sitting on when we bought our house came back to bite us in the rear and it just isn't the best time for us to buy a new house. HOWEVER, my WONDERFUL father-in-law, Jim, has volunteered his amazing handyman abilities to help us remodel the kitchen!! HOW WONDERFUL IS THAT! Plus, I get a new hair cut tomorrow and there isn't much better than a new due. We have also finished the bathrooms; both of them. Plus, getting the house ready for to put on the market was a great excuse to purge a TON of stuff. That is going to come in handy at tax return time because we donated most of it to Goodwill. All in all, life is good and I thank God everyday for it. You should do the same... and have some wine.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!

Ok, not really, it's Joey's birthday. Mine will be in a month but I started thinking about age several years ago. People say that 30 is a hard year to hit. I'm a little worried because my 26th birthday actually hit me pretty hard. I was suddenly closer to 30 than the 20 and I couldn't rap my head around it. Birthdays have continued to come and go since then and, trust me, 30 IS NOT OLD! I'm actually healthier and happier than I was 10 years ago, not to mention smarter. I don't know that I can say the same for Joey, though ;) I wouldn't give my years back for anything.

Keegan started his summer vacation this week. I can remember thinking summer vacation was SO LONG! I couldn't believe they let us out of school for that long. It never ceases to amaze me how time speeds up by leaps and bounds the older I get. It is so funny to me when Keegan starts a story with his signature, "A long time ago when I was 3" (he is 4 1/2). To him, though, 3 was a long time ago. I also like his, "back when Kendall was 1". I catch myself thinking things like "if they were just a little older" but I don't want to wish away their childhood. These are days when 24 hours seems to take 48 and a week might as well be a month. I want them to savor every moment they have. Kids grow up WAY to fast these days and, in a blink of my eye, Keegan will be turning 29. I just pray that the weeks really do take months I can take the time to make memories of our moments. I pray you can do the same with your family. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and every day is a gift from God.

Happy Birthday Joey! I love you!

Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When that Peaceful, Easy Feeling hides

Everyone gets down every now and again. When I'm down, it usually lasts 2 to 3 days. It can often be hard to actually place my finger on the root of the trouble. Many times, the root really isn't even important. It often isn't just one thing, either; each issue (if you want to call them that), on its own, can be fairly easy to glance over. When you put many of these little boogers together, however, they can quickly turn into a runny nose on the verge of a sinus infection.

I make light of this because the cold always clears up and the world moves on. It's all part of a natural emotional cycle.

My latest funk, I think, is a combo of uncertainty, timing, control, habit and fear. You see, with the spring comes cleaning and change. The world regains a sense of movement and your mind wakes up. In my mind, this spring, I really started thinking about where we live, both on a large and small scale. Please, don't get me wrong; I love our home. Joey and I built it together (not the house in a literal sense, we bought that, but our "home"). When we purchased our house 5 years ago, the economy was still fairly stable - at least in NWA. Our "plan" was to live here for around 5 years and then move to whatever house we planed to retire in.

Now, I knew Joey wasn't that handy when I married him (no offense, honey, but you already knew that). He does try his best, I'm decently handy and our dad's our super heroes of handiwork (I'm tellin' ya, capes and everything). So, together, we were going to accomplish the updates the house needed, a few decorative changes and start our family. Five years and 3 kids later, I can still think of 5 things that need to happen before we can even begin to put the house on the market; right off the top of my head. PLUS, there was that bubble NWA was sitting on... it popped. Damn soap scum everywhere now; I mean Seriously! We also have 3 kids under 4 years old whom demand a lot of attention and, apparently, we aren't as handy as I was giving us credit for (me and Joey, not our dad's... they are super heroes, remember).

I haven't stopped thinking about it though; where we might live next. Like an alarm clock buzzer went off, my mind started wandering to, not only different homes and neighborhoods, but different cities and states as well. Not that I don't like Fayetteville but if you are going dream, dream big. I mean, we're young! Our kids are young and our jobs are easily transferable - why the heck not?!

Fayetteville is a great place to live, though. Like anywhere, it has its ups and downs but, overall, I would be completely comfortable raising a family here. Joey seems to be perfectly content in staying here as well. We are just a few blocks from one of Joey's brothers and his family. Joey's parents live just on the other side of the city. He really likes the hospital he is at as well. We have made some really great friends and are growing more active in the church and community. My parents are only 5 hours away (not bad) and Bo is only 3 hours (though you would think it was 3 days as little as we see each other). Can you tell that I have been talking myself into staying in NWA?

Then, there is the matter of the house. I have long admired the east side of the city. East of 71 is the older, more established section of town. This is not to say that the westward movement doesn't have its benefits but my love for East Fayetteville is strong. I can think of several places, right off the top of my head, I would like to be. Unfortunately, though, the houses are more expensive over there. Then, there is this SUPER CUTE neighborhood in Johnson. No, it isn't east Fayetteville but it IS an actual neighborhood. Complete with sidewalks, people who know each other, kids riding bikes to each other's houses; you can borrow eggs or sugar from your neighbor! Anyway, there is this GREAT house at the end of one of the cul-de-sacs. I have admired this house for quite a while. Well, guess what... IT'S FOR SALE! And, the asking price is within our budget!! HOWEVER - Joey isn't ready to put our house on the market. STAB ME WITH A SPOON!! Ok, so really if you have read this far, you know that our house isn't ready either but give me a week with no kids (ok, maybe two) and by God, I could have it ready! In fact, I came home last night and Joey had been working on our bathroom! So Excited! Maybe, by the time we are ready to put the house on the market, a different great house will be for sale. On can only dream.

Anyway, just talking about it is like blowing my nose (note that reference in the beginning). I'm already feeling better. I know better than to make to many plans; take Murphy for example (my beautiful baby boy). It's just a lot of little boogers, they'll go away. Thanks for listening.