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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekend Recap

This was one of the best weather weekends that we have had in months. It wasn't too hot, wasn't too cold and we spent a lot of time outside enjoying it.

Friday, we took the kids to dinner at Chili's and bought them a couple of new dresses at Target. (Of course, we weren't there to buy dresses but they were adorable. I am a terrible in that clothing section.)

Button's new dresses:

I love both of them but the little maxi dress on the right is so freaking cute.

Peanut's new dresses:

Peanut actually picked out the little butterfly dress on the right. 
And I got her a maxi dress like Button's but in a different color. 
(No. They will NOT wear them at the same time. Ever.)
After Target and dinner, we headed to Famous Footwear. Button said that her shoes were feeling a little too snug. Yup, the kid is finally remembering how to grow.
And since Button actually outgrew all of her sandals this year and Peanut outgrew every shoe she owned last year, we had to stock up for the summer.

We got to use a discount card due to being Rewards members so we got 20% off of our purchase. Add to that that most of their shoes are usually marked down, we made out like bandits. 5 pairs of kids shoes for 80 bucks.

Button's new kicks:

Those black thongs are a glittery silver on the straps. And they are super cushioned.

Peanut's new kicks:

On Saturday, I washed my SUV. And when I say washed, I mean I detailed the hell out of it. I think I was trying to wash away any sign of the winter that we had this year. I washed the outside, vacuumed the inside, used Armor All cleaning wipes and then protecting wipes.

On Sunday, my husband washed his own SUV. (I didn't do much other than constantly wetting it with the hose so that it wouldn't start to get water spots. I am a little anal about car washing.)
I didn't really wash the outside but I detailed the inside of it for him.

I am shocked that my nails didn't take more of a hit from all of the water.

We had a great weekend and we were soooo happy that the weather finally started cooperating.
(Sadly, I may go postal by Wednesday judging by the Weather.Com forecast.)

Oh, and we got a new quote from Peanut for the Kid Quotes page here on the blog:

Peanut: Today at lunch, I had a California burger.
Me: Why was it called a California burger?
Peanut: *shrugs* I think maybe because it was made of California.

Interesting. I didn't know they sliced that up and served it these days.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Now THAT'S More Like It

It seems as though maybe Mother Nature has stopped drowning her sorrows in booze and has finally decided to let us rejoice in her weather choices.

Twinkies and other deliciously fattening things from better days are coming back!
The real ones!
I feel like a kid right now.

I'd do the happy dance but I'd rather do the Chocolate Dance.
Because, you know, then I'd be happy and have an entire room of chocolate...and Twinkies.

If you need me this weekend, I'll be outside with no coat.

Happy Friday!

Sorry, But They Won't Break Up the Set

We were informed by Peanut that her class is doing a project.
And of course, she has no idea when she is supposed to be doing this.
Did a note come home? No.
Should you trust a 7 year old to relay these messages? No.

Each kid is to bring a king sized pillow case to school and then all of the kids take turns putting their hand prints on each pillow case with paint.

Sounds neat, I suppose.

But what in the hell is she going to do with it?

She probably won't want to sleep on it since it would be all sorts of scratchy.

Not to mention... where am I supposed to get ONE king pillow case?
Stores around me don't sell them in singles, they sell them in SETS.
(I checked.)

And we don't have ONE pillow case laying around for her to use.
The only king sized pillow cases in this house belong to my husband and me.
And those are a dark purple.

And even if they were white... how would that work?
Draw straws to see who gets the pillow with the case on it that night?
Flip a coin?
Split it open and pin each half to one side of each of our pillows?

A t-shirt.
THAT would make more sense.
A t-shirt is something she could wear and get some use out of until she hits her next growth spurt. (Which by my calculations should be next Thursday at 3:17pm)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What I Love Wednesday- Mia 2

Happy Wednesday! And wow, it's almost May! Button's birthday is one week from today, May 1. Time to get my rear to the store and see about some cake mix. (If I don't do it now, I will be asking my husband to go to the store Tuesday night.) I'm thinking multicolored cupcakes with different colors of icing and sprinkles. 

Yum, cupcakes.

Anyway, have you heard of Clarisonic? It's a handheld, cordless face scrubber/buffer/exfoliater. And I finally bought one last week.

I say 'finally' because when I first heard of them, I couldn't see paying that much for a face scrubber. I have hands and a washcloth. But I sort of suck at washing my face like I should. And it pays the price.

Old Man Winter really did a number on my skin this year and it's in bad shape. Plus, I am getting older so my skin isn't snapping back like it used to.

Due to the horrible dryness and overall ick factor of my face, I finally ordered one last week. And lest me tell you, I love it.

Just one week and I can feel the difference.

I got the smaller Clarisonic, the Mia 2.
And I got mine online at Sephora so I had no idea it came in that many colors.
(It helped that I got 15% off with a code.)

I got that light blue one, on the left.

It's pretty neat. 
Charge it for 24 hours before initial use.

Wet face or brush, apply cleanser, and scrub.
20 seconds on forehead
20 seconds on nose and chin
10 seconds on each cheek

It does all the work for you.
It scrubs and beeps to tell you when to change areas.
And when the minute is over, it shuts itself off.


I can already tell that my face is more hydrated. And there are less patches of dry skin.

I do want to get another brush. They have several but I want that deep pore cleansing one. I could possibly store spare change or mints in my pores at the moment. 

Do you have a Clarisonic?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What are you teaching your children?

As parents, most of us worry about how our children behave. (Inside and outside of the home.)

We have stressed to our girls for years how important it is to be friendly and caring and not act like selfish brats. And with the exception of Peanut having a nasty temper sometimes, our kids are very caring towards their friends and teachers.

Button is the sensitive one. She is full of empathy and sympathy. At times, she cares more about how others feel than about how she feels. She has a big heart.

The only 'problem' with having a big heart is that people can break it easily.

Yesterday when my husband went to pick up the kids from the YMCA, a counselor pulled him aside and told him she needed to talk about an event. His first reaction was "what did Peanut do now?".

But it wasn't about what Peanut had done wrong. And it wasn't about what Button had done wrong.

It was about what Button had had done to her.

A large group of kids were playing some sort of game with a ball involved. They had to kick the ball and try to knock over the other team's pin.

Poor Button is a little awkward. Maybe it's due to her finally growing a little bit. Who knows. But being awkward shouldn't result in what happened.

When she tried to kick the ball, she pulled her foot back too far. (What's worth doing is worth overdoing, right?)

As she brought her foot back, she accidentally knocked over the pin and lost the game for her team. She said that she knew she had made a mistake but since it was just a game, she thought it wasn't a big deal.

Not a big deal, right? It IS just a game, right?


Her team was so angry that they started to yell at her. Things like "you ruined it" and "it's all your fault that we lost".

And they didn't stop after a few seconds. They kept yelling and getting louder until finally the counselors intervened. When you are 9 and have that many kids yelling horrible things at you and making you feel like an idiot, the only thing you feel like doing sometimes is crying.

Button lost it. She felt terrible and stupid. Those kids made the biggest deal out of a freaking game.
There were no trophies.
There were no ribbons or medals.

It was just a game, after school, at the Y.

What in the name of coffee is wrong with some kids these days? Are they learning this crap from their parents? Why is winning the be-all and end-all?

See, Button used to be a horrible winner AND a horrible loser. But over time, we crushed that out of her and taught her that all that mattered was playing the game. And in her classes over the last few years, they have also stressed what it means to be a 'team player'.

I have strong feelings about this.
One person doesn't ruin a game.

I get so irritated during football season. When a kicker misses an extra point or a last minute field goal, fans (and sometimes the players on the losing team) start mouthing off about how that kicker lost them the game.

That one guy did it?
What about the 11 people on the field when the kicker is on the sidelines?

Maybe if that running back hadn't fumbled on the 3rd yard line, you wouldn't have NEEDED that ONE point to win the game. That 6 points that the running back cost you would have helped you into a position where you didn't need that 3 points from the field goal.

And what about when the kicker misses a 40+ yard kick? Maybe if the offense had been able to get a wee bit closer to the goal posts, the kicker would have had a better shot at making it.

It's called a 'team' for a reason.
You win together and you lose together.

I completely understand the 'want' to win. I have played team sports in my life.

And when I was on those teams, our coaches constantly told us that one person doesn't lose a game. Have the coaches stopped stressing that these days?

Kids can be cruel. And sadly, they get worse with age. They grow up to be cruel adults if no one ever tries to squash that behavior before it's too late.

I don't want Button being afraid to play a game in the future for fear that she will be taunted and ridiculed by her own team/friends if she makes a mistake.

All I can hope is that some parents out there will take a look at their own behavior and realize that kids do what you do. They learn by example.

And maybe some parents might need to be more aware of how their children treat others. They can't hide their true selves for long.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Music for my Soul

Back in early 2009, I was engaged and starting posting with other brides-to-be on The Knot. And since I was going to be a June bride, I mostly posted on the June 2010 board.

(If you are getting married, check out The Knot. There are tons of boards to choose from and you don't have to stay on one or the other. There are month boards which in my eyes were wonderful since you can talk to all sorts of people getting married the same month that you are getting married.)

The main reason I loved The Knot? I met some really great gals in my wedding month. I still haven't met any of them in person since we were spread out from California to New York, but I still talk to a few of the regularly. I love my June girls and I do keep up with quite a few of them on FB.

It was wonderful being able to talk to other ladies who were all going through the same thing. At the time, none of my friends were getting married and most people get tired of hearing about your wedding planning and listening to you stress over the linens. Other brides typically don't get tired of it and will be there to talk to, day or night. WARNING: If you are an "entitled' bride, I would advise not posting unless you like to have internet strangers tear you apart.)

ANYWAY, the reason for this post was to highlight a musician that I discovered while being on The Knot. One day we were talking about music that we loved and someone mentioned Jem.  (My first thought was "Jem and the Holograms? Yeah, I watched that years ago".)

Jem is a female musician/singer from Wales and she has a beautiful voice. I liked her so much that I ended up choosing one of her songs for our wedding video. (The kids adore her. They get so excited when I play any of her songs in the car.)

She hasn't had a new album out since 2008 but from her FB page, I gather there is a new album coming out this year. YAY!

Below are a few of her songs that I love. (One of them was used in the first Sex and the City movie, which I discovered yesterday on You Tube. See, I still haven't watched the movie so I had no idea.)

The video gets a little blurry at time and jumpy. Not sure if that 
was the point or what. But listen to the song, don't mind the images.
(This song was in Sex and the City.)
Jem- It's Amazing

I never watched Gossip Girl so I have no idea 
when this song was used. But I like it.
Jem- Crazy

I love the CD version because she plays the piano in the beginning.
Jem- Down To Earth

Totally low budget video and I love it.
Jem- They

I love her voice. And some of her songs will stay with you for a long time. And since they lack the sexual crap and swearing that most pop music has these days, they are kid friendly.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Some things can't be skipped

I wrote a post last week about Peanut and her brain. And the fact that the school wants to put her in a few advanced classes.  We knew it was coming.

We never expected this.

Peanut brought home a packet of math related work. (Keep in mind, she's at the end of 1st grade.)

Her class is just getting into learning to multiply single digit numbers. Makes sense, right? Math is all about stepping stones and building a foundation, just like building a house. You cannot possibly build a house without laying the foundation first to make it as stable as possible. (You could try but it would fall down eventually. Not to mention, you're not passing any inspections that way.)

So why in the hell is this packet for 3rd grade math?!?

It's got a ton of double digit multiplication in it. Also, word problems using double digit multiplication and time. (They have been doing lots of packet work on practicing telling time on an analog clock. But they aren't ready to use time in word problems.) Not to mention measurements. Um, they haven't started going over most of that as far as we know.

How in the hell can the child possibly know how to do this stuff when they essentially gave her a packet that skips an entire grade?

My husband was trying to help her but then we talked and neither one of us are okay with the way this is being implemented. WE are supposed to teach her? Might as well homeschool her if that's the case.

I saw her face last night. Complete dejection. And when a kid gets that feeling, school starts to suck. (I know. It happened to me quite often.) She's always enjoyed doing homework or any sort of school work. I would hate to see that change.

I don't want Peanut to hate school simply because it makes her feel stupid. She's so smart. And she knows it. But to have this work in front of her that makes her feel less than adequate? No way.

My husband is planning to tell the school that this is not how "advanced work" should work. She can't just skip an entire years worth of math for this. If this is their plan for her, they can just take her off the list now.

Plus, her teacher should know by now that if Peanut learns all of this at home, good luck getting her to pay attention in class while her classmates are still learning it at school. 

I've known people that have skipped an entire grade and usually the summer in between, they take a few classes to get them to where they need to be in order to skip. They don't normally throw you into a new grade without the fundamentals you need to survive.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kids on a road trip

If you are a follower or friend of mine, you know that I loathe traveling by plane.
And I've posted (briefly) about the very first trip in the car with the kids.

This post is about the 2nd road trip that we ever took the kids on... Minnesota to Disney World.

At the risk of being labeled a 'mean parent' or something else, I am going to tell you something that drives my mother nuts.

We don't have ipods or ipads for the kids. (My mother has offered numerous times to buy them.)
They don't have phones. (They're 7 and 9, why in the crap would they need them?)
And they don't have... dun, dun, duuuuun..... video game players. (Their bio mom bought them each a Nintendo DS but she keeps them with her. She won't allow them to bring them here.)

Yeah, go ahead and judge.

Done? Good. Let's continue.

The reason that our kids don't have these technological time sucks?
They don't need them. At least, not yet.

On the way to Disney, right when we crossed into Tennessee, I gave the kids 2 large bags. Of what? Pipe cleaners.

Yes, pipe cleaners. We found some at a learning store and decided to see what they would do with them in the car. (At the Y after school, they were ALWAYS making rings and snails out of them.)

They had two bags of different kinds. One bag was the skinny pipe cleaners in normal colors and sparkly ones (the ones you see at any daycare or school). The other bag was full of jumbo pipe cleaners. It looked like a bag of bright colored caterpillars.

And let me tell you... those kids sat in the back of our car from the TN state line all the way to Macon, GA (about 5 hours) and played with those things. (We made a short stop in Chattanooga to see my mom and they were totally bummed that they had to stop creating.)

The next day, they played with them again from Macon all the way to Disney (a little under 6 hours).

The kids were born and raised in MN and have not really been anywhere near a mountain. On the way to Chattanooga from Nashville, you actually drive up and down a mountain. The kids knew this and were really excited about it. But apparently the fun of pipe cleaners was too much for them.

We actually had to FORCE them to put down the pipe cleaners and look out the windows as we drove the 4 miles up the mountain and 4 miles down the mountain. And once we got over the mountain? Yep. They went right back to playing with the pipe cleaners.

And when we were getting close enough to Disney to see Cinderella Castle in the distance? Again, we had to force them to put down the pipe cleaners and look out the windows. (Of course, once they saw Disney, the pipe cleaners were forgotten... until the trip home.)

Out of the two kids, Button is the most creative right now. While she made a plethora of things with the pipe cleaners, Peanut chose to make a ton of bracelets (and a handy carrying circle for all of them). And she didn't keep them all. She made a bunch for my mom and a bunch for me. She also made microphones for me to use to sing in the car.

Here's Peanut wearing some of her bracelets that she made with pipe cleaners:

And with her "glasses".

Oh, yeah. She looks really bored, mom.

Peanut's bracelets and holder:

The pile on the right is for my mom. The pile in the middle was for me. The rest were for herself.

And then there was Button. Instead of sticking with just bracelets and necklaces, Button made several things, including my favorite:

Yes, that's a headset. And she wore it the entire way to Macon once she made it and all the next day on the way to Disney.
In the car, wearing her headset: "Report. Report. My sister is a weirdo. Report."

Playing her "drum" while wearing the headset and sunglasses.

Sorry. But I don't see bored kids here.

This is the plethora of things that Button made during the trip:

Top left- Headset
Bottom right- Her drum and two orange drum sticks
Also included: a flower pot and flower, a few rainbows, a few fish, a necklace, and a bracelet.

On the way home, they were running out of pipe cleaners. So we told them, especially Peanut, that maybe they should undo a few things and reuse them. And they did.

On the way home, Peanut made a Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Each had a water bottle (because water is important to stay hydrated, she said) and I believe Minnie had a purse. I cannot for the life of me find either of them. 

By the time we got home, I think there were a handful of pipe cleaners that never got used.

And please, don't pity our children because they don't have video games. They have played with the Nintendo DS's a few times and they liked them okay. But they have never once asked us for one. They have a lot of cool stuff to play with in their rooms. (Button will play with her Lego's for days while Peanut prefers to play with everything she owns, back to back.)

The one electric gizmo they have? My mother bought them CD players this last Christmas. I cannot tell you how much they love them. While some kids are sitting or laying around staring at video game screens, these kids are dancing, bopping, and singing all over their rooms. Exercise!

Button's birthday is coming up. And what did she ask for?

A yo-yo.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What I Love Wednesday

I love a lot of stuff. And since Wednesday is a TV love day due to Criminal Minds and CSI being on, I have decided to make all Wednesdays about what I love.

Best ever. I am a snob when it comes to creamer. I won't use anything else which sucks due to this being harder to find than most creamers. Around my area, only Cub and I believe Byerly's carries this particular flavor. I actually emailed them and asked which stores carried it. (They actually emailed back a list of stores that stock it. YAY!)

It's wonderful. Both myself and my BFF have been using this for years. When her Walmart is out of it, I hear about it on the phone that day. (You know, I think a Walmart near me carries this one, too.)

Origami Owl Living Locket

A friend of mine from high school posted her locket in her photos on FB one day and I blame her for my obsession with this locket. I just loved the idea.

They have a number of chains, lockets, and charms. There are also dangles that you can add to the chain and stamped blanks to put inside as a background.
The lockets come in different sizes and colors, although right now it's just gold, rose gold, and silver. I do believe that they have chocolate brown and black lockets coming out April 22. 

Here are my 7 charms out of the locket:

Clockwise from far left:
My birthstone (circle shape), my husband's birthstone (heart shaped), a karma circle (because I truly believe in it), a palm tree for my favorite vacation spot in SC, a dog bone for my Georgia Bulldogs, Button's birthstone female child, and Peanut's birthstone female child.

Hand tossed dough rolled thin, rubbed with garlic and butter, 
topped with mozzarella and provolone

It doesn't look like much in the photo, I know. But this is honestly my most favorite food. Ever. And I can only have it 1-2 times a year when we go to Hilton Head Island, SC. (Yes, we try to get an order multiple times in our week on the island. I'll swim off the fat.)

I have taken no less than 6 people to that island in the past 10 years. Each one of the tried the Skinny Stix thinking, "I'll eat them to shut her up".

Well, guess what? They would rip off your arm and beat you with it to get more of them. One year, I took a friend who wasn't able to go back the next year. We sent him a pic of the Skinny Stix when we stopped in and I got a response saying "f*** you. That's cruel."

I dip them in ranch and make really obscene noises at the table. It's that good.

I must stop looking at the Skinny Stix pic. I'm starving.

Haircuts: Best left to professionals

Yesterday, I saw a post by Liz over at According to L about one of the things we fear our small kids will do and pray that they don't... self haircuts.

I feel her pain.

When Peanut was 2, Button decided to cut her hair for her. (Button also cut a tiny bit of her own hair but since she had so much, it wasn't that noticeable. Of course.)

Button cut so much off the top of Peanut's hair, she was left with a mullet.

Yes, that's marker on her face. She was good at that.

The only thing we could do with it was cut the rest off and leave her with a pixie cut (which looked like an intentional haircut not like Edward Scissorhands came over).

All was fine until early October 2010, shortly before Halloween.

The girls were with their bio mom that week and for some reason, she refused to do anything with their hair. Ever. And Peanut HATED her hair in her face, probably due to the time her sister cut it off. (The growing back process irritated her.)
Since it was down and not parted at all, it was bugging Peanut at daycare. While no one was looking, she grabbed every bit of hair around her face and cut it off, right at the scalp up front.

You can see how many layers she gave herself.

It was awful. We were so horrified. And furious. (More furious at the adult who didn't do a thing with her hair that day than at the 4 year old that was so tired of having hair in her face.)
There was just nothing that could be done with her hair for a few months. We had to be patient and just try to get it to lay down in front and pass that part off as really bad bangs. (Thank goodness she did this a few months AFTER the wedding and not before.)

Peanut was also mortified. When she looked at what she had done, she cried. And then she had to look at it every.single.day. I think she tried really hard not to think about it.

Fairly certain I made this face when I first saw it

So for Halloween, her costume had a hat.

Her school pics at daycare were taken around Thanksgiving and we sent her in this outfit, with the hat. (Luckily, MN winters get so cold, no one looks twice at a kid wearing a hat inside.)

At Christmas, the front was long enough to do a 'sumo style' ponytail. (I did have to put it as close to the forehead as possible for it to work.) Kind of looked like a whale tail.

It was June the next year before I could get her hair into pigtails again. And we were all so happy when that day finally came.

So if your child has ever cut his/her own hair, know that you're not alone.
If your child hasn't cut his/her own hair, I envy you.
Just keep an eye on the scissors so that you don't join the club.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Take the plane, I'll be in my car

My husband and I have been on quite a few road trips in the past few years.

We used to fly everywhere because it was faster and we could get to our destination in just hours.

But then airports started annoying me. People in the airport started to really annoy me.

~ How do people still not know the best and quickest way to get through Security? Seriously. Take off your freaking shoes and belt before it's your turn to walk through the metal detector. And empty your pockets. (For those of you who wear sandals and go barefoot through the line...EW! They clean the floors at most airports once a day... AT NIGHT. Foot fungus, anyone?)
~ Take your electronic gadgets out and put them on the belt. You have to. It's been this way for years. Why do you think you get a pass not to do this?
~ Why do people insist on lining up and being in the way to get on the plane? They will call your Zone number when it's your turn. So get the crap out of my way.

Carry-on luggage:
I get it. It sucks to have to pay to check bags to travel. But trying to pack everything you need for a week long trip into a carry-on bag is insane. (The overhead bins seem to get smaller while your carry-on bags seem to get larger.) And stop using the space above MY seat when you are 10 rows up. Not to mention, the plane isn't going ANYWHERE until you stow your crap and sit down.

And I always get a seat in front of a hyper kid who somehow manages to kick my seat every 20 seconds. (Of course, his mother never seems to notice this. Ever.)

On one flight, there was a mother and her little boy, I'm guessing he was around 2. Her husband and other child were seated further back. Right after takeoff, the kid pukes. That's not what made me upset, although the smell of vomit was overwhelming. No, it was that she was a mother of 2.. on a plane with both kids and no diaper bag. No bag of any kind. No wipes for the kid. No napkins. No diapers to change him if needed. She had NOTHING to clean up the puke. And she told the Flight Attendant that the kid was already sick before the flight. Seriously. I have never seen a mom get on a plane without a bag full of wipes, snacks, diapers, etc. I have no idea what she was thinking. (Thank you to the Flight Attendant for giving her stacks of napkins to try to clean it up.)

And then the delays. Oh. Holy. God.
I flew 5 times in one year. And of those five flights, not one came in or left on time. Not one.
And I am not talking a few minutes of a delay.
I am talking HOURS.
Missing connecting flights hours.
Having to just drive home due to missing connecting flights hours. (Please, for your sanity. Try to never fly on US Airways through Charlotte, NC. They have to be the worst offender.)
Flying back into Chattanooga, I had to drive home instead of flying at least 3 times in a year or two: from Atlanta, Charlotte, and Memphis.

Leaving Hilton Head once, on our HONEYMOON, we actually got bumped from the flight. It was overloaded due to too much luggage and how much the plane weighed due to moisture and humidity. (*insert swearing streak here*)

So a couple of years ago, we started driving. And my sanity returned on trips. (Think we're nuts? Well, go stand over in the corner with my mom and discuss it. She's right there with you.)

Once we sat down and did the math, we realized that we could save a lot of money if we drove.

Flying from MSP to Hilton Head Island, SC- Granted, it's a small island. There are a limited number of planes flying in and out a day, through only 2 airlines. But $600 per person, round trip? That's $1200+  for my husband and I to get to the island by plane.

Driving from MN to Hilton Head Island, SC- Yes, it's roughly 1300+ miles and takes 21 hours (roughly) to drive there, but it's cheaper. The first time we did it, we saved each gas receipt on the way there and on the way back. We had the receipts for the hotel we used on the way there and back. In total, we spent $700.

So we saved about $500 by driving, even staying in a good hotel in Kentucky a night on the way there and a night on the way back. Why in the hell would we want to fly?

And since we drive, we can stop when we want to stop. It's usually just the 2 of us in the car and it's peaceful. We can take detours and see new things. In planes, you try to make out what you fly over but usually, you're nowhere close to getting it right. You cannot explore new places in the country when you're sitting on a plane, desperately trying to get the feeling back in your legs from being jammed into those tiny seats.

The first time we took the kids with us was a trip to Kansas to see their bio mom, after she had lived there almost a year. (That's another story for another day.)

On the way back, we stopped in Nebraska for a few days and went to the zoo in Omaha and the children's museum in Lincoln. (Highly recommend both, by the way.)

Since we left MN and headed to Kansas through Iowa and on the way back we were leaving from Omaha, we were traveling a different stretch of interstate than on the way down. And that's how we found the Danish Windmill in Elk Horn, Iowa. I had no idea there was a real Danish windmill in Iowa before seeing those signs. And we were all glad that we stopped to see it. It's actually an official Iowa Welcome Center.
(And it was fate that in the parking lot, there was a truck with Georgia tags and a University of Georgia magnet on the tailgate. The drivers of that truck were easy to spot since they were wearing the same Georiga 'G' that I was wearing on my shirt. We talked. It was nice. Go Dawgs!)

If we had flown to Kansas, we would have flown straight home. We didn't decide to go to Omaha and Lincoln until halfway through the two days in Kansas (the trip was terrible and we wanted to salvage it for the kids). If we had flown, we would have never seen and gone up into that windmill.

I prefer driving across this country for so many reasons. The most important to me being that I want to see and photograph as much of it as I can. And I want the kids to experience this country at a young age by going on these trips... not reading about these things in a geography book. I wish that I could have gone on more road trips as a child and not had to wait until by adult years.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Never too much nail polish!

I have had an addiction to nail polish since I was little.
And as I've gotten older, that addiction has turned into an obsession.

My collection, or stash as we call it in the nail world, has grown.
And don't side-eye me. You might have 6 closets full of shoes or handbags.
I have an entire wall of polish. (Yes, I said wall. I have them in acrylic displays. It's art.)

Polish, compared to most other things, is a cheap accessory. Polishes that I have come across can range anywhere from $.99- $20. (Chanel polish is pretty pricey. But still cheaper than their handbags and shoes.)

You can change your nail color everyday.
And there are so many different polish finishes and types: cremes, shimmers, duochromes, jellies, crellies, glitter top coats, and glitter bombs, etc.

Also, these days you can do SO much to your nails with nail art: stamping, stickers, water marbling, and sponging just to name a few. Below is a collage I made of some of the nail art and manicures that I have done in the last year:
Click on the photo to view and see them better

Favorite color polish? Blue. I have many, many blues. Lights blues, bright blues, neon blues, baby blues, shimmery blues, blue cremes, blue glitter... lots of blues.

Favorite big polish companies?
China Glaze, Zoya, Barry M., a-england, OPI

The latest thing is indie polish companies. Normal people making polishes at home and selling them on Etsy and in other online shops.

I am one of those indie companies.

Last March, I opened an Etsy store and started selling polishes.
And it's been a fun ride.
Don't get me wrong, it's not easy. And it's not a quick money maker.

To make your own polishes, you have to buy a lot of glitter and colorants. And then you have to test everything you buy in the nail polishes bases that you usually have to buy in bulk. And with all that you pay out to do research and development, it can be a long time before you see an actual profit.

For me to put out one new polish, the testing usually goes on for at least a month.
Why so long?

Because glitter comes in many forms. Not all glitters are created equal. Some glitters start bleeding in polish base within a few minutes of mixing them. Some glitters can take a week or longer to start the bleeding process.

Some glitter will bleed for a short time and then stop, fully retaining their original color. Some glitters will bleed so badly that you are left with nothing but silver.

Some glitters actually start melting in polish base. They become nasty blobs of plastic. And some of them can curl or bend, making it look terrible on your nails.

Over the last year, the indie polish market has BOOMED. But like glitter, not all indie polish companies are created equal. Some have rushed and bought some glitter one day, thrown it in base the next day, and then sold it online the day after that. That's never a good thing. Those indie makers give the other indie makers, the ones that test everything for months, a bad name.

If you find an indie polish company on Etsy, make sure to check their sales numbers and feedback. The sales can tell you how long they have been in business and the feedback will usually tell you if people are happy with their polishes.

Also, GOOGLE is your friend. Just search for that indie company and include the words 'swatch' or 'reviews' in your search. There are literally thousands of nail polish blogs now and a lot of them scoop up new indie polishes by the dozens. And most of them give you an honest opinion.

A couple of my favorite indie polish companies:
Elevation Polish and Indigo Bananas

Elevation Polish is owned and operated by a local gal, Lulu. And when I say local, I mean she lives a few blocks from me. When we realized that we were both in Minnesota and just down the road from each other, we started meeting for coffee to talk shop. And she has a BEAUTIFUL blue polish that I adore.

Indie polish companies usually have restocks a few times a month. Since it's usually one person making everything, they cannot keep the shops stocked for long periods of time. Everything sells out quickly. So if you find one and the store is closed or empty, check back later. Also follow their blogs or FB pages to get updates about when restocks will take place.

Shameless plug for my own indie brand polish:
And if you happen to want to see what I have concocted, head over to my Etsy shop, Red Carpet Lacquer. I also have a FB page and a blog for the polish so you can check those out and follow if you feel the urge. I also have a Twitter page for the shop.
If you get the urge to buy anything, use coupon code NEPTUNE14 at checkout to receive 10% off of your entire order.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my naked nails need something to wake them up. And with the current weather, pastels aren't going to cut it. I think I need a dose of bright and happy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

5 Years of Winter

It's mid April in Minnesota but looking outside, you'd think it was February. And since it's been a long winter, this is long post about winter.

I remember April 6th being in the mid to high 50's and the yard was clear of snow. (That nasty brown stuff is grass, if I remember correctly.)

And the last of the plow assembled snow along the driveway and berm was melting fast.

(Man, that stuff is gross once it sits too long. Snow starts out falling as white and by the time winter is drawing to a close, it's a mix of black, gray, and brown. Ick.)

I was so happy that day. I sat outside in the SUN. I had on a light fleece jacket that I almost had to take off due to finally feeling the sun's warming rays again after so many months of feeling nothing but cold air trying to choke me.

Spring was coming and we were all getting excited. People started putting their winter coats and boots back into the closets and some people started hunting down the flip flops.

And then a few days later, Winter Storm Walda decided to show us that it's not over until it's over.

When my husband showed me the forecast for that storm, I admit... I cried a bit. Seriously. I thought "this hell is never going to end". Woke up two days later with the yard and driveway covered, yet again, with the white mess.

I have been depressed since.
Okay, I have been depressed since sometime in November. I knew what was coming.
In MN.

And now, Winter Storm Xerxes is coming? (Seriously, Weather Channel. What's with the names?)

Will this nightmare ever end? I feel like I'm stuck in the movie Groundhog Day.

I grew up in southeastern Tennessee. When I was younger, we got a little snow maybe twice a year. And we loved it. (The most snow I can recall was the Super Storm of 1993. It hit during our high school Spring Break. We were hit with 20 inches of snow in about 24 hours. Unheard of for that part of the country. Two days later, I think the temps went up into the 70's.)

After that storm, we were lucky to see a dusting of snow each year, which is probably best because even that dusting would shut the city and schools down. (No use trying to find bread or milk at the store because of the HUGE dusting coming in that would have us all locked away in our houses for weeks.)

I moved to Minnesota 5 years ago. And yes, I knew there would be snow. But I also knew that humidity here, at least my area, wouldn't be anything like the south. (Curly hair doesn't do well in humidity. I hate humidity. I prefer being able to breathe.)

The first winter (2008-2009) wasn't too bad. Not a ton of snow due to it being so frigid. The windchills were about -25 for days at a time and when it's that cold, we don't get a ton of snow. But I can handle the cold more than the snow. Snow gets all over my car, inside and out. We track it into the house no matter what. And when you're at Target, the sound of squeaky shoes makes me want to punch someone.

I seem to have blocked out the winter of 2009-2010.

The third winter (2010-2011) was hell, even by this city's standards. (4th snowiest winter in Twin Cities history with 86.6 inches recorded at the airport.) Our average for the year is usually between 45-50 inches. I remember the weekend that the storm hit. The plows were throwing some HEAVY snow around and it caused our mailbox to break off and die.

Here you can see they were already leaning during the first part of the storm from the heavy amounts of snow thrown by the passing plows.

 We found this the next morning.

In our yard, the wind caused what looked like sand snow dunes.

And until we could fix the mailboxes (and start receiving mail again) we stored them on a snow ledge in the yard that was never there before the storm.

During the storm, our mailboxes were not the only news to us. The plows had to stop plowing due to the heavy amounts of snow coming down, the mail stopped running (yeah, never thought I'd see that happen but when the plows aren't clearing the roads, you can't do much), the buses for public transit stopped running, and the Metrodome roof decided that it had had enough of life in general.


It was nasty. And I still stuck around. (If Mother Nature is a sadist, I guess I am a masochist.)

So as you can imagine, I was nervous about my fourth winter (2011-2012) when it was drawing near. Turns out, it was the mildest winter this part of Minnesota had had in YEARS. I think we got a total of 20-22 inches for the entire winter. It fell less than 2 inches at a time (driveway plow company only shows up for 2 inches or more) and since the temps were milder, the snow always melted within a day or two.

Christmas was brown, not white.
And most of us were overjoyed by it all.
Plus, by March, we were seeing temps in the 70's.

But of course, it did cause a problem and I guess we do need the snow. (I hate admitting that.) Without enough snow in winter added to the dry summer, we had drought conditions. Little ponds were drying up left and right and the rivers were sooo low.

Which brings us to this winter and the pictures at the beginning of this post.

I was okay back in February when we had about 45+ inches for the winter. Especially when I realized that March was just around the corner. (March can be snowy but April comes in and usually helps me ease out of my winter funk.)

I have contemplated running away numerous times in the last few days and I wish that could. Normally, we head south every April to see my family but this year we decided to stay home. (We drove down to Tennessee in October, November, and December last year so we needed a traveling break. Or so I thought.)

'Foul mood' doesn't begin to cover how I feel. 
I miss the sun. I miss being able to slip on my sandals and go sit outside and watch the clouds float through the blue sky.
I miss seeing my bare feet. (When you wear thick socks for months and only see your toes in the shower, you sort of let pedicures slide and then you have stark white feet with overgrown cuticles and nails that look like claws.)

I also miss riding my bike and washing my car. (Hand washing. Because only then will there be a gleaming car with no water spots.) And I miss playing tennis at the park with my husband while the kids volunteer to be balls girls.

We (the entire family) are more than ready to get back outside, without the threat of frostbite. We are beyond ready for what little spring we have left and then summer.

It's going to happen.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Against the Grain

Most of my life, I have not followed trends and friends. I always find myself going in the direction that I want to go. I prefer to figure out for myself what I like.

Examples of what others LOVE and I just don't get:

1) Designer shoes: I'm sorry. I have a problem thinking about spending more than 100 bucks on a pair of shoes. Do you realize how much nail polish I could buy with that? And nail polish doesn't usually go out of style.

2) Heels, anything over an inch: I'm 5'7''. I don't need the added height. And I have plantar fasciitis. So any given day, my heels are throbbing like someone was whacking on them with a hammer.
And stilettos? Never in a million years. They may make your legs look good but yowza what they do to your feet. Even Sarah Jessica Parker, the Queen of Running in Heels, is having to give them up:
From People Magazine

3) Most Reality Shows: I just can't stand most of them. If you forced me to watch Honey Boo Boo or most of the Real Housewives, you wouldn't live long past turning it on.
The only "reality shows" that I can stand are usually more documentary types, like Deadliest Catch or Alaska: The Last Frontier on Discovery. (Living off the land and fishing in the Bering Sea, trying to stay alive. THAT'S reality.)

4) Taylor Swift: This just confuses me. You're either a country music star OR a pop star. In my book, you're not both. I grew up in south and was forced to listen to country for most of my life. Swift isn't what I consider "country". Reba McEntire is country. Brooks and Dunn is country. Plus, I have no interest in listening to her slam every single guy she dates on her albums.
I freaking love the stuff I find on Pinterest

5) 'Ombre Hair': No. See, this is weird for me. What the hair world is calling 'ombre', I always called 'you should just dye your hair all over until your roots grow out'. If a color specialist at a salon does this to your hair, it may look okay. DON'T do it with one of those kits. (The girl that colors my hair said she's already had to "fix" several clients hair who tried it at home.)

Plus, in the nail world, where I usually live, 'ombre' is painting each nail a different shade of the same color, darkest to lightest. What the hair world latched onto as 'ombre' is usually 'gradient' in the nail world. So it totally confuses me. (Below is a set of polishes that I got from Sephora from The New Black. To me, THIS is 'ombre'.)
One color for each finger, going darkest to lightest

How about you? Any trend or popular thing that you just cannot get behind?

Newest Song Obsessions

I get hooked on songs. 

They get stuck in my brain for days and I walk around with a constant soundtrack running through my head. It's awesome and annoying at the same time.

Right now there are 3 constantly swirling around in my head.

Most recent song obsession #1- Cuckoo by Adam Lambert: I know her was on American Idol but I don't watch that show. (Okay, I used to watch at the beginning to make fun of people.) If Adam Lambert had not guest starred on the Season 3 Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars, I may never have heard this song. And that would be sad.
I love the beat of this song. Oddly, it reminds me of being at the skating rink as a kid. Good times.

Most recent song obsession #2- Trespassing by Adam Lambert:
Same as above on this one. This song was also in the PLL Halloween episode.
And for some reason, it reminds me of pep rallies. I guess it's the chanting-type beat.

Most recent song obsession #3- Lucky Strike by Maroon 5:
See, I love Maroon 5. I had 14 of their songs from 4 albums already. And when they put out a song that's catchy and makes it hard to stand still, I am all over it. (I like some of the slower songs but not all. I am usually more into fast moving songs that I can dance to. In my car.)

Sorry there's not an actual video for each song. 

Do they make those anymore since MTV doesn't play them? 
Do artists still spend the money to make videos since there's nowhere to watch them?

What about you? Any song obsessions?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Walda... You Suck

What is this mess?

Ya know, I do love Minnesota. Except when the above is the current forecast... for APRIL 9.
Forecasts like this make me want to get in the car and start driving.

Just when almost all of the snow around here had melted away, a storm like this comes in and makes me wonder if Mother Nature is a sadist.

Today is not a good mood day.
Waking up tomorrow might be even worse.