Thursday, November 26, 2009

Markings on a Wall

It has been a wonderful Thanksgiving all and all. We ended up forgoing trekking across Southern California from Rossmoor to Pasadena, and opted to just stay at my in-laws. My tired and still sick body is thanking me, but my heart is sad that I didn't get to see my family today. A first in my entire life. I am crying just thinking about it.

It doesn't help that I am here in the house all alone. Since I was moving so slow today due to still being sick, I wasn't ready to go to the in-laws, so Art and the kids went ahead with out me while I got ready. Since we had 2 cars and I was still feeling tired and sick, I left early to come home and get in my pajamas.

I'm sitting here at my computer, going through my blog roll and I start to read the Flea Market Style blog, I come across this passage in a posting:

You just can't manufacture character in a few days. This is the layering of a home that takes years and often decades to produce. It's the peeling paint on the side of a barn, the worn footsteps on a front porch and the pencil markings on a door post marking the height measurements of little children. You can't buy character, it's acquired.

And that is when it dawns on me. The markings on the kitchen wall where we have measured the kid's growth for the last 4 years. How will we take that with us? Why oh why did I not just do a growth chart that I could pick up and take?!?! And it finally hits me that sooner or later, we are leaving this house.

This house that we moved to 5.5 years ago to start a family. This house that we tried for months and months to get pregnant in. The bathroom where I found out that we were expecting our first child. The backyard that I ran out to to tell my husband that it had finally happened! We were having a baby. The house that we brought our newborn daughter home to, and later, our newborn son.

The house that we threw countless parties in, hosted dinners, brunches, play-dates, holidays, block parties in. The house where we went from being a married couple, to a family. We love this house, and while I am ready to move on, I know that there will always be an invisible foot firmly planted in this house on Julian Avenue. And that is how I know that we did our job here. For 5.5 years, this house was a home.

I am Thankful For...

My Husband, who goes along with my Lucille Ball antics and doesn't skip a beat. His strength, humor, support, but most importantly his faith, has carried me through so many of life's challenges. I am thankful for his laughter and his beautiful blue eyes.

My Children, who lately have been driving me crazy, but whom I love so much. They are funny, sweet, wild and crazy, irresistibly cute and even smart! Hey imagine that! I can't imagine my world without them and never knew I would feel a love so intense.

My parents, who have always supported me even when I was wrong, snappy, sassy or whatever. It is an amazing feeling to know you have 2 people that would literally do anything for you and your children. I love you mom and dad.

My in-laws, who have taught me so much.

My wonderful friends. Short and sweet.

God's love.

My health, and my family's health.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Should I Really Make a Decision Based on Some Trees?

We never intended this house to be our last house. We always said that we would move one more time and then settle in and be done. I have always wanted a home with a pool. Art never cared too much about a pool, but we both agreed that we wanted more yard.

When we bought this home we were young(er) and looking to start a family. We wanted 4 bedrooms so that we could have an office and a guest room. To us the house was what was important. The yard here was tiny, but it never bothered me. At the time I spent 50+ hours at work, so the only space I needed was a patio to have a meal on and a bit of grass to spread out my chaise lounge so I could work on my tan in the summer! That's all I needed.

Then we had 1, then 2 children. For the first couple of years the lack of space didn't really bother me. But something switched in me in the last 3 months and suddenly it became VERY paramount that I get a yard . And not just any yard, but a yard with some TREES!

Oh how I long for some trees. BIG trees. The kind that drop leaves. The kind that you can sit under and be sheltered from the sun. The kind that you can have a picnic under.

I'm not really sure what brought on the sudden sense of urgency and the sudden fascination with trees and yard. Actually, I think a lot of it has to do with seeing how much my children love playing in their grandparent's yards. Both my parents and in-laws have giant yards and the kids just adore it. Every time we go to Nana and Papa's house it's like they've been taken to an enchanted garden. Mind you Nana's yard is an enchanted garden, but still.

It's funny how your appreciation for things change and grow. When my in-laws redid their yard a couple of years ago, my MIL kept the majority of the existing vegetation and landscaped around it. At the time I thought that was just silly. Why in the world wouldn't she just dig everything up and start from scratch? Now, I know why. It takes YEARS to grow beautiful trees and enchanting hiding spots for little children. I want that to be my kids normal. Not something they get to experience just when they go to Nana's.

So now, reader, we are at a crossroads. We are about to possibly venture into selling our house and buying a new one, all for the sake of a yard and some trees. We're looking at months of renovations, higher costs, stress, headache, fatigue, etc. We got an offer on our house tonight which is making this all so real. The time has come to make a decision. This house will be our final resting place until, God willing, we retire and hopefully move out of state.

To Vermont, because I want a white Christmas, I want to see fall foliage and I want to tap maple syrup from trees.

But I digress.

Now where to buy? Do we fight for the house with more land in Long Beach, or move to Rossmoor, with less land, so that our kids can have these world famous Rossmoor schools that everyone always talks about? I personally sort of came from the hood and I turned out fine, so not too sure about the whole school thing, but many people are willing to pay plenty of money to live there for these darn schools. Sure K-8 is great in Long Beach, but everyone keeps telling me that I don't want my kids to go to Millikan. They need to go to Los Alamitos High. So if we do send them to Long Beach schools K-8 and then move them to Los Al (because my in-laws live there), will they be all alone because all their friends are going to Long Beach High Schools? Shoot, we might as well move out of state right? that's a joke :)

But seriously, it's a lot to think about. These darn kids are always messing things up for us! I personally want to stay in Long Beach because I just love it here and have never seen myself fitting in with Rossmoor. But I have to admit there is a part of me that wonders if I'm making the right decision. I know I have to do what I think is right and not listen to everyone else, but I can't help wondering. We all wonder if we're making the right decisions for our kids.

This has mainly been a talking out loud session, so if anyone has actually gotten this far, bravo and thank you. I still don't have my mind made up. But at least I can sleep on it.

So my final question is this, am I absolutely insane to want to move out of a beautiful house in an awesome neighborhood with wonderful neighbors for some yard and some trees? Am I making much ado about nothing?

That my friends is the question.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How 10 cents Occupied the Kids for 10 minutes

Actually it was more like an hour with all the putting together of the mobile and such. But a good ten minutes was spent just dancing around it. Then it started to fall apart and the fun was done. I just thought the book was cute and for 10 cents at the Rossmoor Library, how could you go wrong? It was in perfect condition and printed in 1972.

You punch out the mobile pieces and put it together with string. On one side were scenes of baby animals.

And on the other side was the grown up animals. I thought the illustrations and colors were fun.

It ended up being quite long so I hung it from the kitchen light fixture and the kids danced around it and through it.

Then pesky baby brother Sydney started pulling on it too hard and it started to come apart. And that was the end of our fun with the 10 cent Animobile book. It served us well though for 10 minutes at least.

A mother will take what she can get.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Dog Named T-Bone In a Dress That Says Julia

Last Friday we found out that Taylor was going to bring home T-Bone for the weekend, the class dog from her school. She was very excited, as were her horses, because horses can never have enough stuffed animals to play with you know. Little did T-Bone know that he would be in for quite an adventure. A Howe family-style adventure where there is no rest for the weary and there is activity around every corner.

We had to power up for the big weekend, so he/she (still don't know if T-Bone was a boy or a girl) ate lots of Cheerios, the breakfast of champions, wait, that's Wheaties.

To make sure T-Bone was up for the challenge and all the adventures that lay ahead of him/her, he/she was given a full vet exam which included shots, green pills and lots of hugs. It was discovered that T-Bone was suffering from a bad case of wag-a-citis. What is wag-a-citis you ask? The intense and uncontrollable urge to constantly wag ones tail of course.

We all got very dressed up and buckled up for safety to head over to Angie's 2nd Birthday Party!

Cupcakes were enjoyed by all

Later that night we all settled in for some hot cocoa. Cause nothing screams settling down like giving dog-puppets and little children hot cocoa with whipped cream right before bed time. Not too smart Andrea, not too smart. Definitely a lesson learned. Everyone did enjoy their hot cocoa, especially T-Bone. He/she said that the cat usually gets all the warm milk.


And sleeping. So Sweet.

Bye-bye T-Bone. Aside from all the Cheerios and drool you left all over, you were a wonderful house guest and you will be missed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We were all catatonic today. A jam-packed weekend was to blame. On Sunday we were home for a total of 1 hour. I don't like days like that. By Sunday night we were all pleading for mercy and raising a white flag. The weekend hungover lasted through Monday, so during our quiet time when Syd was napping, Taylor and I sat and peeled wrappers off of old crayons to make new ones. We peeled a lot of crayons.

We talked a lot about our favorite colors and why Taylor doesn't think white is an actual color. See that lone white crayon up above? She didn't want to include it in the mix. I then started naming off some of my favorite white things:
Clean, crisp, white shirts
Eventually she came around

We made silly faces at each other

Those fingers were working so hard getting all the wrappers off

We sorted colors. My perfectionist little daughter only wanted to keep like colors together. I understand. I used to be the same way.

But in my old age I am getting wild and crazy you see. The bottom left muffin tin is my creation. She said it wasn't very pretty. Well!

We melted the crayons in a 275 degree oven for 8 minutes

When they came out we swirled some around to mix up the different shades

Taylor told me how they had just made crayons like this in preschool. She loves her new school and that makes me so happy. We started naming off reasons why we love her new school:

"The teachers are very nice" Taylor
"The parents are also very nice" Mom
"We get to do lots of fun things" Taylor
"The parents get to do fun things too like read books and get together to talk about them" Mom
"That doesn't sound very fun mommy" Taylor
"Well it is" Mom
"I have 3 friends in school now" Taylor
"I am happy you are happy" Mom

Once we swirled our colors we popped them in the freezer for 15 minutes to speed up the setting process (we used mini muffin tins too so they would harden quicker)

So pretty. There on the top right is my wild and crazy creation

Then we colored of course

It was one of the best days we've had in a while. I love that little girl so much and can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

Monday, November 2, 2009


A fellow owl-obsessed friend of mine will be receiving these note-cards I crafted last night for a belated birthday gift. I can't decide if I like the card with or without the grosgrain ribbon. What do you think? I'm thinking the simplicity of the card lends itself to no bow.
These cute cards got me inspired to make more note-cards with an uber simple design aesthetic. My friend Janine got me interested in stamping with her design inspiring Stampin' Up parties. While I love all that she creates with their products, I am just either too lame, too stamp- deficient, or just uncreative, I have no luck replicating her snazzy and stylish cards. The girl's got a closet full of stamp products, no joke, so I'm sure that helps her cause.

So back to the uber simple designs. I was searching for "unique" stamps on the world wide web (I recently read that using that term dates me) last night. You know, a design that could stand on its own and really make a card fantastic without needing much at all. I found this cute retro forest stamp from Sideshow Stamps. Isn't it just screaming to be on a card intended for a nature-loving friend?

Oh and I just died over this Yellow Owl Workshop birdcage stamp. I hijacked hubby's Paypal account last night and snatched one up.

Anyone else have good stamp recommendations? The owl stamp was found all alone at Michaels (so unlike their usual assortment), but have had no luck finding something as bitchin again (again, dating myself). Stamp well and prosper my friends!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Craft Fair to Benefit Annabelle Grace Summers

Hi Friends. I will be participating in a Craft Fair this Friday, November 6th from 5:30-8:30 PM at Eat, Play, Grow. 20% of the proceeds will benefit baby Annabelle, born with Spina Bifida.

I will be selling Baby Taylored items as well as custom tutus.

I hope you can make it! Please visit the Craft Fair blog to get more information, including details on the 15 other local Long Beach moms and their products that will be participating.


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