Thursday, April 28, 2011

Whatever Wednesday - how do working moms do it?

Next week we find out Taylor's placement plan for next year.  In Marlton where we live, it is still 1/2 day kindergarten.  Her teacher and the CST have recommended she be in 1/2 day "normal" and 1/2 day "special" so a full day total.  I agree that this is a good idea, for many reasons, but I am VERY nervous about it.  I'm nervous for random reasons like "What if she poops during normal kindergarten and won't wipe herself and calls out from the bathroom that she pooped?"  No really - I laid awake the other night thinking about that.  She has a real resistance to wiping herself - for whatever reason.  I told her we are going to work on it over the summer and she said, "You can work on it."  Hmm.

Anyway, I am anxious for more serious reasons, too.  Is it too long of a day?  Will the "normal" kids realize she's different?  Will she be teased?  Will she miss me and be sad?

And...what on earth am I going to do.  My identity is being a mom now.  I volunteer many hours being the MOPS coordinator and doing things like making and delivering meals, and now couponing...all of this relates to my "work" as a SAHM.  I work just one morning a week in our church's nursery, and that is mommy-ish too.  For 8 years come August, I have not worn business attire, I have not been accountable to a boss, I have not filled out reports, made business phone calls, commuted.

For as long as I can remember, the vision I had for myself of being a mom included staying at home.  Of course I had totally romanticized it, but all the same, this was what I wanted.  And I wouldn't change it for anything.  Nobody else saw any of my kids "firsts" and I am too jealous of a person to have been ok with that.  I was here for every sickness, every hurt feeling, every happy playdate day, everything.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  When Bailey was diagnosed with CF, I felt in my heart God would honor my desire to stay home and make a way for us financially.  This feeling magnified after Taylor was born and it was obvious she could not have handled daycare.  I am thankful to say that He has, and not just for our needs but many wants too.  Sometimes I have wondered if I should have worked - not for the money (although at times I pined for it!) but if the girls and I had a bad day, if I lost my temper, if I didn't appreciate the time with them like I should have, let them watch one too many shows.  There were days I wondered if they would have done better, learned more, at a daycare.  But I know that's not true, our time at home together has been blessed.

But now that both the girls will probably be in school for 7 hrs a day, I am feeling an itch to do something more than all things mommy.  I don't know what, I don't know how.  I do know that it must fit in with some responsibilities I want to maintain with MOPS and HOPE, and of course being there for my girls.  But as the days go by and I think about what God may be preparing me for, I keep thinking HOW am I going to do it?  HOW DO WORKING MOMS DO IT?!  Really!  How do they maintain the home, keep everything paid, clean, food on the table, lunches in the bookbags, running kids to drs, activities, not to mention take care of their husbands and themselves, and still keep their sanity?  Most jobs have some take-home work.  How do you do that at night, while also throwing in a few loads of laundry, dinner, cleaning up dinner, homework, bath and bedtime - and also have time to actually talk to your kids?  This is scaring me!!  I don't want to be a half-ass mom, wife, employee.  Because I am the kind of person that can't have too much going on.  Many people seem to be able to do it all, and they are still smiling!!  But I fear I will be miserable.  Financially, I could still stay home - but Kevin doesn't want to stay in sales forever, and I don't think it's quite fair for me to live out my dreams, like staying at home, while he pays for them.  Does that make sense?  He doesn't think of it like that, but I know at some point he'd appreciate the freedom in having a job he's more comfortable with, than has to have.  And really, I'm feeling an itch.  But no job will be worth the expense of my family, so I am so hopeful there is something perfect out there.  Part-time maybe, no summers.  No holidays.  An understanding boss when I have to call out sick bc Bailey or Taylor need me.  Is there such a job?

I am praying to have eyes to see the direction God wants for me and my family.  I have a few ideas, but basically I have no clue.  In the meantime, I want to "ready" myself and my house as much as possible before taking on a closet cleaning, picture albums, garage clean-out.  We'll see what happens!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tummy Tuesday

This has nothing to do with anything, but I'm watching 'A River Runs Through It' right now, and oh this movie kills me!  A young Brad Pitt, the bond of their family and although they adored him, they couldn't save him.  Paul's addictions were stronger than the family's love for him...he left them time and again to drink and gamble, and it was to his demise.

This also has nothing to do with anything, but I love how Norman's love interest Jessie says his name, "Norman."  Do you think that was one of the reasons he fell in love with her?  I don't like the name, but there is just something about the way she says it, really!

And all these ramblings may be why my own husband doesn't even read this blog!! :)

Okay so at weigh-in at WW on Sat I lost .4.  That's less than 2 sticks of butter, people.  BUT at least it was a loss considering I had 2 sick kids last week and my fridge seemed to use a magnaphone to call my name. Especially at night.  Especially while I was watching my shows at night.  In my nightie, under my blankie. Are you picturing the love affair I have with snacking at night?  Except I'm not as into snacks and sweets as I am into real food, so my "snack" really is sometimes like another dinner.  Oh that sounds terrible to admit but true!!  There are so many days I do so "good" during the day and then blow it at night!!  I know, I know, once again, anyone who's not a chunky probably just doesn't understand me just not opening my mouth!!!  But I can't really explain it - when I want something, I WANT something and it's just very strong.  Even if it's just fruit - I want it.  It's amazing to me that in some areas of my life, I consider myself pretty strong.  I can "take it."  But in this area I am very weak.

So that's my update.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mommy Monday - so what?

So today I took the girls to the Y to swim for 2 hours and it was great.  The girls had a fabulous time, no tears, fun exercise, bonding.  Going swimming is my favorite way to spend time with them because they love it, I love it, it makes us all feel good - and then tired and hungry which I like too...doesn't food taste better and the couch feel softer after a great swim?! - AND I can not leave.  What do I mean?  Well, when we are at home and I am spending intentional time with the girls, like laying on the floor with them with their Barbies, or playing a game...I almost always get distracted, or bored, after a while and leave them to their own devices.  I justify it in my head, thinking "they have each other, that's why I had 2 girls..." but really, I flake out.  But with swimming, there's no phone, no laptop, no chores, nothing.  Just my girls with their pink Speedo goggles and huge smiles, and me with my pruny fingers and proud mama-heart.  They are wonderful swimmers, they get along great, and the water acts like some kind of nutralizer for Taylor, so she acts very "normal" in the pool.  Mostly.  It's just all around a check-plus, as Kev would say.

While we were swimming and I was feeling proud, I was realizing that this is something I do well with, and for, my girls.  But then I immediately started thinking about the things I don't do well, things I really drop the ball teaching Bailey how to tie her shoes or ride a two-wheeler.  I KNOW! The girl is 7 and doesn't know how to do those things, bc I haven't taught her.  But so what?!  She will learn, and is it really that bad that she doesn't know how yet?  I spend so much time berating myself for what I DON'T do...don't a lot of mothers?  Why do we do that to ourselves?  I don't remember how old I was when I learned to ride a bike, but I know how...and I do remember my mom teaching me how she makes her infamous apple pie.

And to me that's more important...but that may just be me, I am chunky for a reason you know.

Sales Saturday - how to save without coupons

Ok so everyone knows how much I love couponing.  It has freed up money for us to use in other areas, or save for fun stuff.  This year I am using the money we're saving for a few vacations, but next year I hope to use it for a few home improvements.  It's a wonderful way to relatively-painlessly shave money off your grocery/necessities/entertainment/dining-out bills.

That being said, I may not always be a couponer.  I have fallen in love with it, but I can see myself falling out of love pretty quickly.  It does take some time each week to cut and organize coupons, and if I get a full-time job at some point, I don't know if I'll be able to maintain this level of couponing.  It is something you can do a little or a lot of.  I consider my level medium, so to speak, and I do think I will continue for a long while.  As the years go on though, I may make time for it, but maybe I won't.  Thankfully, I have learned a few ways to save money without having to hardcore coupon.

*Shop the circulars - by far the best non-couponing savings tool.  There are still great sales even without coupons.  For instance, I have learned that many of ShopRite's sales of "Buy $20 worth of (whatever)...Get a Catalina worth $10 off your next visit' go by the SHELF price, not the sale price.  So for example, a few months ago, they had a health-and-beauty deal of buy $20, save $10 on ShopRite brand products.  Their fem hygiene pads were priced at $1 each - already a great price.  But the SHELF price was something like $2.50.  I bought 8 - reaching the $20, but I only really spent $8 bc that was the SALE price.  Then I got back $10 in Catalina money (it looks like a coupon that prints out with your receipt) to use on my next order.  So I actually MADE $2 buying pads!  That's a for instance, but you get the idea?  The best way to know if a sale is working on shelf or sale price to get a catalina is to check out my fave site "Living Rich with Coupons" bc she does the work for you and tells you what's on sale and how to do the deals.

*Speaking of LRWC site, before I shop I always check her site bc she lists everything on sale, and if there's an online coupon available for it (ie - say "Ragu" pasta sauce is on sale and the Ragu website offers a .50 coupon, she'll link you right to their site so you can print it off).  So even without cutting insert coupons that come in the paper, I could still take a few minutes to at least save a few dollars with coupons that are available online immediately.

*Stock up on sales.  Chicken breasts are a rare $1.79/lb?  Buy a lot.  Freeze in Ziploc freezer bags, and freeze the way you want to use it.  Like when chicken is on sale, I buy as much as my store (they might say "Limit 1 pkg per family") or budget allows, then I cut it into strips, nuggets, etc.  If the store does have a limit but I want more, I'll make another trip that week and use my mom's phone number instead of mine at checkout.  I give her some too, and I don't feel badly about that - I make meals often for others too. Also, some stores have coupons right in the circular, making the sale better.

*Use cash.  Now, this is not a tip I even use.  For shame!!  But I do believe in it.  If you know your family can only afford $50/wk in groceries, you'll figure out a way to do it.  Farmers markets for your produce for $25 let's say, and then $25 for the'll get creative.  This is where your stockpile comes in great, that you can do a little at a time.  You can fill in your families meals with cheap pasta, potatoes that you bought when they were .99/ 5 lb bag, etc.

*Now taking that $50 budget for example, where do toiletries fit in?  This would be hard to do without couponing.  Using coupons means you can get name brand toiletries for pennies on the dollar from drugstores, Target, Walmart, etc.  BUT you can still save, just not as much.  Drugstores offer toiletries often with sales like "Buy $10 worth, save $5 on your next order."  Say it's John Frieda shampoo/conditioner and it's priced at $5 each.  You buy 2, spending $10 but getting $5 back, so $2.50 each after sale.  More than Suave but a better product.  Now, this is a brand that has $3 or $2 off coupons often, making it then cheap or free...and sometimes they're available online.  Again, worth check the LRWC site to see the deal.  And also again, this takes looking in the circulars - you don't buy John Freida when you "need" it  - you only buy on sale so you HAVE it already when you DO need it.

*After couponing for over a year now - and nothing like you what you see on tv, just saving some money - I have realized that the easiest thing to save on is in fact toiletries/necessities.  You can amass a great stockpile in a short amount of time, and then you can live off of it without messing with coupons for a long while.

*Some sales are seasonal and that's the time to stock up.  Like BBQ sauce - it'd be nice to have it in your pantry for a winter craving of shredded pork in the crockpot - but summer brings the best sales for that and things like salad dressing.

*And perhaps all of this just boils down to being intentional about how and where you spend your money.  Knowing what you need, knowing where it's cheapest to buy it, saving some for later, and even just plain old going without.

Please ask me a question if you have one - and if I don't know, I'll try and find out!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

on spring break

Well it's been several days since I last wrote.  Tatie was sick and now Bailey was sick, so I just haven't sat down to think of blog posts all week.

And even now, with having the time right now while Kevin is out and I catch up on DVR'd shows, I just can't think of anything to say.  I'm pretty tired I guess.  Last night Bailey had a very high fever and long story short (long story including a 911 call, a visit from a cop, 2am run to CVS and making her noodles - which she didn't eat) I am sleep deprived.  The whole week I haven't slept well, it takes me back to my baby days.  Thankfully, my girls are great sleepers so normally, I get a good 7-8 hrs a night of uninterrupted to have a handful of 4-5 hr nights is not good for me.

But I'll tell you what is good for me.  This weather.  It's my favorite - not too hot, not too cold.  Breezy.  Sunny.  Fabulous.

Tomorrow, Friday, I am really hoping Bailey is almost to normal and we can enjoy the day.  I love taking the girls to parks and watching them play together.  I will say, this week they were really good sisters to each other.  When one is sick, the other one - usually, for at least a while - feels badly and is nicer.  They call each other "honey" and "sweetie" and give up some of their lovies or prized Barbies to borrow.  This kind of sister-love has a shelf life, but I take what I can get.

What I am watching right now is Jamie Oliver's 'Food Revolution' and I really like it.  But I have a question - why can't some more parents or kids just make their lunches?  Kids don't have to buy the lunches right?  Now, that is a very broad kind of comment - a lot of low income families rely on meal plans at schools to give their kids lunch.  I get that, totally.  But a lot of OTHER families who pay for lunch, if the school serves crap can't they make their lunch instead?  I think it takes 3 minutes, no kidding.  I understand that my kids are still young enough they eat what I tell them (unless that's veggies, to which they say hell no - not really but you get what I mean), it's not like they have free reign yet with their own wallet in high school to make their own choices.  Bailey wants to fit in - and I understand that too - and so on Fridays, pizza day, I let her buy lunch and milk.  I figure that's a happy medium of control :)

Next up on the DVR is Mike and Molly, I love the actress in that.  She has a really good laugh.  Don't you love people who have a really good laugh?

Until tomorrow, with Sales Saturday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sales Saturday

So last week I told you how I overspent on my weekly budget - but I did get a lot for what I spent, for many upcoming occasions.  This week I wanted to spend about $25 to balance it out a bit.  I ended up spending under $20 at ShopRite - would've been $15 but I bought myself a flowering plant for the deck.  Cause I wanted to feel better about something and I thought that had more value than the lunch at ChickFilA I contemplated.  I bought 8 lbs of Land O Lakes butter - they were $1.50 a lb after sale and coupon.  I freeze it and this will last us a long time!  We only use butter in our house, not margarine.  I also bought a few necessities and other items that were free after coupons.  My produce basket is getting low...but I won't replenish it until the end of this coming week bc I'm taking the girls to my moms for a few days.  I did buy Kev bananas and he has some apples and grapes, lettuce...that'll do for him.  My budget breaker this week though was going to CVS - they had a deal I couldn't pass up and I had no ECB remaining to pay for it so it had to be OOP.  I bought 7 Finish dishwasher tabs boxes (20 in a box) for an OOP cost of $17 after coupons, and received $10 back in ECB.  So it's really like paying $1 a box, and I was down to my last box, so it was a good price.

This coming week I haven't figured out my list yet, but I do need to get milk, yogurt, lunch meats, bread and perhaps some meat.  I think I may need to spend $40 realistically, and I can get all these things from the Marlton farmers market.  I can get my milk from RA bc my $14 in UP rewards expires Saturday, and I'm hoping they sell dessert toppings there so I can buy them for the girls Tangled party they're having Saturday with make-your-own sundaes.  If not, I'm making my own toppings...for instance melting my own chocolate with some whole milk (which is what my kids still drink per docs orders), pureeing some strawberries to make strawberry sounds better to make my own anyway!  Maybe I'll use the UP rewards to get my mom the Alpha Keri bath oil she loves so much.

Anyone have any good deals they've scored recently?

Flash Forward Friday - to do list

Okay so April is more than mid-way done, where did these last 4 months of 2011 go?!  I am discouraged about the lack of progress I've made with my January resolutions/to-do list.  I think part of the problem is I think way too big.  I still have busy days with parenting, cleaning, couponing, MOPS planning, and a million little to do a lot more each day on top of that is unrealistic.  But I want to get stuff done, so here's another to-do list.

By the end of the year, I want to...


*pay off Kevin's car (6% interest) and our new mattress (0% interest).  Both of the loans would be paid off early by 2 yrs, leaving only our mortgage as debt.

*have a zero balance to CHOP.  This is less likely of a goal, as we visit quarterly and her fall visit is her "annual" where we rack up the biggest bill and usually don't pay it off until tax return time.  But we have new insurance this year so I hope to be pleasantly surprised by how much less we'll owe.

*continue saving hundreds of dollars off of our grocery budget.  Want to focus more on our eating-out budget and pare that down.  Last night's Houlihans bill of $58 doesn't count. :)

*pay for our vacations.  We are going to Lancaster for a long weekend, Wildwood for a week, Williamsburg for a week, Vegas for 5 days, and WV for a long weekend.  Kevin won't be going to Wildwood or VA...bless his heart he'll be working for the girls and I to enjoy those things.  His parents gifted us the Wildwood week, their friends have a house - but we pay for the groceries (cheap w my couponing!) and boardwalk evenings.  We save for that with loose change, we have about $100 so far.  They also gifted us the Williamsburg trip, but we pay for gas, food, etc.  (I know, we are so fortunate to have generous parents).  WV the girls and I will be staying with my cousin so that just means gas and spending money.  Vegas we already paid for the room, plane and show tix - we need gambling, food, spending, gas and rental care money.  Lancaster we still need to pay for all of it, but we got a good deal.  I plan to pay for vacations out of our tax return money, which I put in our savings acct.

*do one thing to the house.  I think that may be some much-needed yard getting a yard.  We have dirt, sand, trees and tree stumps.  We want grass and some aesthetic trees/bushes added, a few more trees out and stumps removed.  If we are fortunate enough to pay off the mattress and car, that will free up room in our budget each month in 2012 to get....NEW FLOORING!!!  I'd add an 'amen' here but it seems irreverent.  But you get my gist.

*sell items at a garage sale and finally learn how to do Craigslist/Ebay.

*If Taylor does in fact get approved for full-day school (Marlton is 1/2 day kindergarten but her teacher is recommending she attend 1/2 day "normal" kindergarten and then second 1/2 of the day attend special ed kindergarten.) I want to find a part-time job.  Nothing crazy, just get my feet wet back in the career-world.


*Lose weight!! Come on, you knew this was #1.  I have lost about 6 lbs from my weight at New Years but ugh, I feel like such a failure.  Waiting for divine motivation to kick in.  Along these lines, and even more importantly really, I want to be fit.  Thankfully, I am "healthy" by way of my bloodwork, but if a murderer was chasing me, I'd have maybe 1 minute left of my life.

*Continue to be more patient with the girls. This is something I've been working on and thankful to say I have done better with.

*Be a nicer wife.  More loving, have more of a servant's heart.

*Read the Bible more, pray more, and do so with my girls.

All this to-do-ing is making me tired.  That's it for now.

Thinking Thursday - furniture

The year before Kevin and I got married, my paternal grandmother passed away.  My dad had already passed away, but my family inherited items from her as we would have if he was still living, which we were thankful for.  My dad was one of 4 boys, 2 were still living - my uncle Tom and uncle John.  They let me have a lot of furniture from her house, which I still have.  Her bedroom set (which was newer, I don't remember the details of why she had a newer set but my dad had either gotten it for her or with her, so it's sentimental to me too) and her dining room set minus the table (a great '40s set, I love it) were what I chose.  I love the furniture and it's served us well.  Perhaps we would have chosen a different bedroom set - I love mismatched pieces, like an antique whitewashed dresser with a black wrought iron bed - but I appreciate what I have.

In Bailey's room, her furniture was my furniture growing up.  The bed, nightstand, dresser, bookcases, desk.  One of the bookcases my dad made, another - along with all of the furniture - he stained.  The desk actually was not only mine but his when he was a boy.  And it was my "crib" as an infant - I was tiny so they took out a drawer and put blankets and me in it.  

Taylor has new furniture, all pieces I chose (a huge green dresser accented with flowers I picked up at a thrift shop, I love it, and a cream colored wrought iron bed) except she has a bookcase my dad made too.  I keep thinking of the girls painting these bookcases and putting their handprints on them.  Ok I will do that.  

Anyway, I love having newer and older pieces in my home.  I love looking around and remembering who/what/when/where with furniture.   Do you have pieces in your home with a memory attached?

This blog post is boring, I know...perhaps it would have been less boring with pictures.  That is on my to-do list, to get a phone where I can take pics and download it immediately.  Ah the possibilities of posts!   Recipes, the kids, projects... would accomplish something else off my to-do list...selling items on Craigslist.  I still haven't learned how to do that, but I bet it'd be faster and easier with a camera phone.  Maybe a Mothers Day gift?!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tummy Tuesday - better late than never

I didn't do a chunky report on Tuesday, so I thought I'd do it today instead.  I was actually down a bit on the scale by 1.2, which was nice.  Just a ripple in the ocean, but still.  But today I weighed myself on my home scale and was up by a pound.  Grrrr....

So today I pulled it in and really watched what I ate.  I planned my day tomorrow so hoping that is good too.  I weigh in on Saturday morning.  I also wanted to exercise today but I am not feeling really well so unless this Excedrin really starts working it's magic, I may not.  I went to a new dentist today - who was fabulous - but she did a number on my mouth and my whole head is pounding.  I'm also exhausted...ok, enough complaining.

I have the feeling I will be on this rollercoaster my whole life.  Although it seems to me I haven't even started the ride yet.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Whatever Wednesday - lazy and lovin' it

As I write this, I am laying on the couch in my snuggly pants, v-neck tee, blankie...ah it is bliss.  Don't hate me, or think "yup, just the pic of a SAHM's life" because it really isn't.  But I've been go-go-going too much lately and I needed this luxury of laying around, catching up on emails and my DVR'd shows.  

Currently the show is Oprah who has Shirley MacLaine on...whoa she's quacky.  Really quacky.

Here's the thing.  I think everyone needs some time alone once in awhile to lay around and watch junk tv or read a book, whatever.  Indulgence is really not indulgent if that time is used to renew your energy, is it?  If it makes you a calmer mommy, a sweeter and more serving wife, when you yourself have rested and relaxed?  If you tend to yell at your kids out of frustration/anger/impatience, or distance yourself/"flip out" at your husband out of feeling exhausted/invalidated/taken for granted... wouldn't all interested parties WANT you to take a rest if it meant you had MORE patience, MORE forgiveness, MORE grace?  

And yet...I don't think anyone wants mommies to take a break!  It IS seen as indulgent!  By and large, I think society encourages an environment of non-stop action, even for SAHMs.  

Well today I am rebelling.  Raising children - special needs, no less - is zapping my energy.  Being a wife is making me tired.  The thought of house chores renders me immobile.  MOPS planning needs to wait on the back burner.  For these few hours while Kev and the girls are gone, I am doing nothing...and I believe, it will equate into something good for my family.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

a memory and a goodbye

Tonight was the viewing for Ron, who I wrote briefly about last week.  I was so touched - albeit a bit embarrassed - at his family printing out that short blog post I wrote about him and had it out at the viewing.  If I had known they'd read it, much less print it out and others would read it, I would have put more time and attention to it.  But I think they got my sentiment - which was he was such a good man and would be missed - and that is what I wanted to say.  Seeing all of the pictures out tonight celebrating his life - some of which were from our years as neighbors, a few funny ones with my dad - was really nice.

When Kevin and I arrived at the funeral home, we waited in the lot because we made great time and were early.  I was so appreciative he was with me, as it is his birthday and I really understood if he wanted instead to be with his parents and the girls.  So we talked a bit in the car and I told him I felt sick to go inside - it was the same place my dad was laid out, and I didn't know what I'd feel.  I was remembering other viewings I've been to also, and I started to cry thinking of one for a classmate of mine when I was young.  I don't remember how old she was - perhaps 12ish? - but she died from I think leukemia.  I attended the viewing with my good friend Kimmie, as we had been in Girl Scouts with her.  I will never forget walking in that room and seeing tons of stuffed animals and pictures of their family in Disney and doing normal things...and here she was, lifeless.  I had only been to a couple viewings by then in my life, and they were of older family members, nothing like this.  I felt so bad for her mom, but I remember being surprised she wasn't bawling her head off.  And she came over to Kimmie and I and hugged us, and thanked us for being such good friends to her daughter.  And oh this is where the tears came in -- because I wasn't a good friend to her daughter.  I never made fun of her to her face, nothing like that, but my heart wasn't warm towards her - she was different - even more different than me.  (Because by no stretch of the imagination was I a cool kid.)  Her mom was thanking us, and I felt like a fraud and guilty beyond belief.

I cried tonight remembering it - my feelings of remorse and guilt, the stuffed animals, her poor mom.  I can look at it now with the clarity of an adult...her mom, burying her only daughter, thankful that some kids seemed to care, because not many did.  She wasn't bawling her head off because her daughter had already gone through hell and perhaps there was even some relief that her precious baby was not in pain anymore, and in Heaven.  I can understand the dork of a kid I was...wanting to be "cool" but not knowing how...but knowing that being friends with her wouldn't take me there.  I wish I could tell my young stupid self that I should've been friends with her, she probably would've taught me more about life than I could imagine, and who did I think I was.

I'm grateful for these lessons, because I am trying to raise my daughters to embrace all kinds of friends - that we all have different gifts, beauties, and even sometimes special needs.  But we are all unique and made in God's image, with no one being better than anyone else.  I wish I could go back and be her friend, but I can't.  What I can do, is be a friend now, to others, and to raise my children to be friends.

I told Ron's daughter Meaghan tonight, that one of the things I liked about Ron is that he liked my dad.  My dad was different - uncool, if you will.  Actually, it depended on what circle he was in - to his choir friends he was the coolest! :)  But Ron embraced my family even though we were different than his, and he never made my dad feel uncool.  He'd invite my dad down (or my dad would invite himself) to have a drink on his red deck in back of his red house...

Well, I will always drive by that red house and think of Ron.  Sometimes people dying still teach the people that are living a thing or two.   And then they are never forgotten, their goodness lives on in people trying to be just like them.  And what is a greater honor than that, and a greater mark upon this earth, than being an example to others.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mommy Monday - Bailey's softball scene

I am officially a softball mom, and I really like it more than I thought I would.  Granted, she has only had 2 practices and games, but I like it so far.  It helps that it has not yet rained on my head and the temp has been cool.  This is our first experience with a team sport, the girls have only done swimming.  I don't know if Taylor will want to participate when she's old enough, but Bailey is loving it and so am I.

I think I like it so much because I love watching Bailey interact with the other kids.  She wants her team to win - if you can call a kindergarten/1st grade team winning - but she also cheers on the other team.  She says things like "way to go, girls!" and I think it's just precious.  She also looks downright adorable in her uniform and visor.

The coaches are wonderful - so encouraging and gentle.  Not knowing what to expect from the coaches and other parents watching from the sidelines, I have been really impressed with what a positive experience it is so far.

Nobody on Bailey's team would know she has CF, she can keep up with all the kids just fine.  I am hopeful that her swimming and now the softball - not to mention just being active every day - will strengthen her lungs as she grows.  There have been studies that show sports really help CFers ward off lung disease, although exercise is hard for a lot of them because of their decreased lung function.  It's hard for them endurance wise, and competitively, I would imagine it's very frustrating.  We have talked about trying to encourage Bailey with diving, because it's something she already does well and loves, and she wouldn't have to be measured against her peers using a lot of lung strength.  But for now, she is loving softball and I am loving watching her!

Spirit Sunday - the act of prayer using the ACTS method

Prayer is something I have done my whole life, but the way I pray now has completely changed from when I was young.  And my prayer life is still an active work in progress.

When I was growing up, my family said grace before meals, and we prayed together in church on Sundays.  I did know you can pray any other time and I think everyone in my family did, just privately.  My prayers focused around the following -

*Apologies for what I did wrong, and asking for protection - like the time one of my neighbors heard me and my friend trying out curse words in the field behind her house.  I was petrified she was going to tell my parents, although she never did.  I didn't say the "F" word again for probably 10 years.

*Asking for something different than what I had - like, "God I want to be skinny like so-and-so and have long blond hair and live in her house."

*Asking for a sister.  This was a big one, and didn't stop until my mom gently told me that ain't happening.

*And on a serious note, praying that my dad's temper would calm.  I'll leave that there, because although I've cracked the lid open, I don't really want to open pandora's box, and I never want my thoughts on my dad misconstrued.

Anyway, it wasn't until college that I learned the ACTS system of praying.  The following is taken from -

  • 1
    ADORATION: Begin the prayer by adoring God. Praise and worship HIM. This is a time for telling God what He means to you and how much you love Him. This is not the same as Thanksgiving where you thank God for all He has done, but a time to tell God how magnificent/holy/glorious He is, to focus solely on Him, to tell Him all the wondrous beautiful things about Him you love. King David was a great worshipper of god and a man God Himself stated was after His own heart, read Psalms for great examples of adoration. (Psalm 8: O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth, who hast set Thy glory above the heavens! Heb 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name.)

  • 2
    CONFESSION: This is when we confess our all our sins to God. Unconfessed sin creates a barrier between you and God and can hinder your prayers. Begin by confessing your sin to Him with an apologetic and repentant heart (to repent is to stop and turn 180 degrees from). Ask God to bring to mind any sins you may not be aware of so that you may repent and confess. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness I John 1:8-9. Often times the feeling of a weight lifting will follow this step. Important: Nothing can separate you from the love of God. But we can separate ourselves from the love of God just as Adam and Eve ran and hid from the Presence of God after their sin in the Garden-Notice God called after them, He did not wait for them to come to Him

  • 3
    THANKSGIVING: This is where we count our blessings, thanking and praising God for all He has given us and done for us in life. You may begin with the basics such as family, friends, food, shelter, safety, jobshealth, healing. Thank Him for hearing your prayers and for forgiving your sins, for His all-consuming love for you. Thank Him for His promises, for the glory of His handiwork, for His promises to you (if you don't know them, start looking them up). Follow Paul's advice, Ephesians 5:20 thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • 4
    SUPPLICATION: This is also known as Intercession. This is the phase of prayer where we come to the Father asking God to supply needs for ourselves and others. Be specific in your prayers. For example, instead of asking for God to bless your family, ask Him to help your son focus in math class and to give his teacher the wisdom she needs to present the information in a way he can digest, etc. If you feel led to pray for a certain person but don't know exactly what that person needs, ask God to lead you in prayer. He will.

  • 5
    Remember, prayer is an act of communing with God. It is about communication. It is about relationship with the Father. Use these steps to help you obtain that but don't feel you must adhere to any rigid rules. Also don't forget that communication is a two way street, that means you have to listen as well. You may not hear at first but with practice you begin to feel God speaking to your heart.

  • Read more: How to Pray the A.C.T.S. Prayer |

    This is the method I am using to teach my children how to pray.  There is no right or wrong way, God loves hearing our prayers, whether in thought, written or spoken word, song.  But I feel like this method is easy to understand and helps you focus on the how of communicating with God in a way that is all-inclusive.  Does that make sense?  

    Like I said, it's a work in progress, my prayerlife with God.  Currently I am most concerned about the time I spend praying, which is not enough.  Also I am working on meditating more on specific Scripture verses during my prayer time, which I rarely do even though I love it.   Why don't I do more of what I love, when it always makes me feel "better" when I do it?

    Sale Saturday - cheap vs frugal

    Ok so did any of you see that "Extreme Couponing" show on TLC this week?  Garbage!!  TLC has a real opportunity to teach millions of people a way to trim their grocery budgets in these hard economic times and they are instead sensationalizing hoarders.  I didn't like the show at all, and it is not portraying real "couponers" who use their time to save money for their family, store enough to get them through for a few months, and give to others.  In addition, savings like that is not even possible here in NJ - and many other states - as most stores will only let you use 4 "like" coupons (as in, 4 Cheerios coupons) in one transaction - not 50.  Also most stores have a limit on how many like products you can buy in one transaction, or even per week, per family.

    What I took from the show, is that I am so thankful I am not like that!!  I have a real interest in couponing and yes, I like knowing I have 20 boxes of tissues in my garage (what - we're a bunch of snotfaces in this house) but I am nothing like those other women who store toilet paper under their kids beds, and I never want to get to that point.  It made me sad in addition to angry, because really I think those people shown have a real problem and need psychological help.  Perhaps they are so scared of being without, perhaps they feel less-than without their shelves crammed with stuff.  Perhaps they went hungry as a child, I don't know.

    But with all of these negative opinions I just threw out there - yes, I will be watching again on Wednesday night.  Sure call me a hypocrite, it's ok.

    So last week I told you of my pantry challenge for April and to only spend $150 for the month.  WHAT?! was I thinking?!  Between hosting Kevin's birthday party for family this past weekend, buying part of 2 shower gifts for friends and cards for Easter, birthdays, Mothers Day, Easter supplies and items for the Tangled party I'm letting the kids throw with their friends and of course our usual produce, dairy, etc...I spent the whole months budget last week!!!  I did save about $140 between ShopRite, RiteAid and CVS, with $27 left over (in RA rewards and ECB) to spend, but out-of-pocket I spend around $150 exactly.  

    Kevin and I took the girls to the beach playground on Saturday and I was upset with myself with how much I spent last week.  I went through my purchases in my mind and tried to see what I could have not bought.  And really, everything I bought we either needed or wanted.  I realized that while it's good to have goals for our spending, I don't want to be cheap.  I WANT to be hospitable and entertain at our house.  I want to give nice gifts and give to others who are in need.

    So basically, I am on a journey to a happy medium.  I don't want to be an extreme couponer, but I do want to save money on the items we need and want.  I do want to have goals, but not at the sacrifice of enjoying our lifestyle, which my husband works so hard to maintain.  Really, $150 for the week is what I used to spend on just that week's worth of food and necessities!  I am still in the pantry challenge though...I do need to hit the store for their best sales this week, hoping to spend around $25, but we have enough of everything where I don't have to buy any produce, bread, etc.

    Where are you with your couponing journey if you have one?  What were your opinions of the TLC show?

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    Flash Back so-called life

    Do you remember the '90s show, 'My So-Called Life'?  Claire Danes and her typical-teen drama as a teen in love, friendship, family.  I loved that show...she seemed so cool yet real.  I was transfixed with I was with Neve Campbell in 'Party of Five.'  Oh I really loved 'Party of Five'.  Everyone my age seemed to be in love with Bailey, but I loved Charlie.  First of all, he was hot.  Sorry, but he was.  Second...alright that's all I really remember - that and his youngest sister was annoying as anything.  Claudia.  Annoying.

    I loved these shows as a teen and I still love them takes me to a different place.  It's part masochistic, because these shows always made me feel dumpy and loser-ish, the girls with their tiny legs in jean shorts and tank tops off-the-shoulder.  Even if they had problems, their lives definitely seemed better than mine.  Ugh that's sounds so negative but it's where I was...and still am sometimes.

    The other night Kevin and I were watching a show and the couple was dating, and so hot for each other.  I turned to him and said, "Don't you miss that?  They're so cute and all into each other...that feeling of excitement, don't you miss it?"

    He could've gone a few different ways with his response.  He could've lied, and said we are still into each other like that...which if you had seen us, laying on separate couches, you would know we're past that I-can't-get-enough-of-you-when-can-we-be-alone time in our relationship.  And by past, I mean really past.  He could've also said that he does miss it, which would've made me really sad.  But instead, he said he loves me and likes what we have.

    When we were young and dating, we definitely had the hotness.  Now we have flashes of hotness, but pretty much a steady temp of warm.  Once in awhile it's freezing...but I think we're both okay with that.  When I watch these shows though, I get very un-ok with where we are in our relationship.  It's like I KNOW that it's just tv, I KNOW that real life isn't like that, but I want it anyway.  I get jealous of those teen girls all over again, and how ridiculous is that.  Sure I can be rightfully jealous of their tiny legs in the jean shorts, but of their teen angst with their boyfriends?  They can have it.

    I'll take my Saturday night of mexican take-out on our separate couches, and I'll keep my memories of our hotter days of sneaking off to Valley Forge Park...all you Eastern alums know what I'm talking about!  And sometimes I still even look at the clock to see how many minutes until he gets home...does it matter that it's because I want him to take care of the kids?  There are times we fight, times when the next 50 years seem like a VERY long time...but we really do love each other, and isn't that the stuff dreams are made of?

    I'll try to remember that the next time I get caught up in a McDreamy/McSteamy scene.  I have a feeling I'll forget.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Thinking Thursday - for Ron.

    Yesterday - Thursday - a good friend of the family passed away.  I had known him since I was 3, a neighbor down the street.  When my mom told me, I couldn't say anything for a minute, I just couldn't believe it.  He had been very sick and hospitalized - you would think I would have not been so surprised - but there I was, dumbfounded.  My heart broke for his family, and all of the emotions that I felt when my own dad died, were there with the faces of his own 3 children - one of whom is expecting her first child.  I thought of them all night, wondering how they were doing.  

    This man was a good man.  A family man, working practically right up to the very end.  He always had a smile.  He helped me study for the SATs in Math, he was so patient with me bc I never did get it.  He was really funny, and he just made you feel relaxed around him.  

    The street I grew up on had a handful of families that were really close with each other, and are to this day. My mom's best friends are these neighbors.  You don't really find that anymore...neighbors that include each other in their daily lives, and really have deep friendships.  When my dad died, these neighbors were there for us, doing everything from laundry and meals to just being there.  I hope this family feels that same kind of love and care in these following weeks - it doesn't make it better, it just makes the day a little more livable.  

    I like to think of my dad welcoming Ron in Heaven...patting him on the back...a little too hard, and a little too loud as Dad was apt to do...and Ron just smiling, and laughing.  We'll miss you were good to us.   

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Whatever Wednesday - Vegas baby!

    This week Kevin booked our trip to Vegas for our 10th anniversary in August and I'm so excited!  He got a GREAT deal - $876 for the BOTH of us included a stay in a king pyramid room at the Luxor on the strip for 4 nights (weeknights, much cheaper than the weekend!), plane tickets for both of us both ways, and 2 tickets to a show like Cirque Soleil.  What a deal, right?!  We still have to budget for our meals, rental car, spending money, etc but I am pleased this trip isn't going to break our bank!

    I am thankful we have decided to go through with this trip - I had thought of spending our money instead on a few home improvements but I'm glad we're celebrating our 10th in style.  I think staying married for 10 years in this day and age of falling in and out of love is something to celebrate.  Our marriage has had it's bad days, but overall, we love and respect each other and are committed for life.  We need these get-aways not to stay married, but to enjoy being married.  To feel young and in love, have fun, remember why we married each other to begin with.  To spend some time together where the conversations aren't all about bills, Kev's work, my MOPS, Bailey's appointments, Taylor's therapy, who's turn it is to clean the cat vomit (it's always Kevin's turn - I figure I always have to do the kids)...and when the van needs an oil change and who's going to take it in.

    When we return from said vacation, unless my pulls on the slots are lucrative, we'll be returning to same-old, same-old.  But what a blessed same-old it is.  I'll take it.  And keep it.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Tummy Tuesday

    Last night at 10pm I decided I wanted to make 2 casseroles to share at our MOPS leadership meeting.  It was perfect because I tried 2 new recipes - an apple/raisin french toast casserole and a crustless egg quiche - and they went over great with my friends!  I love adding new recipes to my rotation!

    I love cooking, baking.  I love creating dishes that other people enjoy.  It's sad to me that my kids are so picky, in part because they don't like my cooking!!  Most of it, anyway.  They'd much rather pb&j than fajitas, mac and cheese instead of lasagna.  Oh well.  I was so pleased my friends enjoyed the casseroles this morning.  Kevin likes my cooking too - and it's definitely a way I show love.

    So where am I with my chunky dunky and what does cooking for other people have to do with it.  Nothing I guess.  Except that food really does have to do with love to me.  A complicated love.  Sometimes I never want to see food again, and then I apologize vehemently, and dive right back in.

    Dear food,

    Sometimes I hate you.  You stick to me and make my ass huge.  But yet I love you.  You make me feel better, you fill me.  And then I hate you again.

    I'm breaking up with you.

    No wait, I'm back.  See how committed I am?  Really, it's me!  I haven't changed...I've been here all along, I didn't mean to say good-bye...

    Your tortured servant,

    Sweats-wearing, bathing suit fearing,
    wishes she could just GET IT TOGETHER...Brynn.

    Same-old, same-old on the weight issue.  I do have to say I have been regularly exercising and it feels great.  Even when I hurt the next day, I love the feeling of it.  So at least I'm doing that.  Knowing how good exercising makes me feel, I wonder why I don't make time for it every day.  Knowing how good eating healthily makes me feel, I wonder why I don't do that every day either.  It's almost like I don't really want to change...but I really do!

    Thinking about this makes my head hurt.  Off to do laundry and vacuum, which strangely, feels a lot better than talking about this.

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Mommy Monday - how Tatie is doing

    Tatie's not doing so hot.

    I don't know what the problem is, but she's been very unregulated.  Unregulated is a term in the SPD world that basically means out of sorts, discombobulated, and for Tatie it means she's even more sensitive than normal.  Highly, crazy sensitive.  The least little thing will set her off, and she can throw a tantrum, or wail, or shake and try to bite anything thats near her mouth.  Thankfully, not people - I'm saying that if she's near a jacket hanging on a hook, she'll bite it.  Then it takes her F.O.R.E.V.E.R to calm down.

    Last week her teacher wrote  me a note saying Taylor's been having a hard time at school, and she thinks she's addicted to playing Mario on the Wii.  I had noticed Taylor not doing well and had not correlated it to the Wii, but I cut back her time on it, and she hasn't even seemed to notice.  So I really don't know what to think - and of course she can't articulate her feelings enough to tell me.  I tried talking to her last night about it, as I was scratching her back, which usually "regulates" her and she can communicate better.  But it upset her, and there she was again, crying and yelling at me to never ask her what's wrong, stop talking at me, just scratch me....

    I am grateful - SO grateful - that Taylor does not have a deeper problem than she has.  It is very frustrating with her SPD, but I know it could be so much worse.  But it still is not easy!!!  I see her compared to her same age peers and while sometimes she appears so "normal", other times the difference is glaring.  And people see it - the looks she gets sometimes break my heart.  I used to say in her "hay day" that I wished she could wear a shirt that said, "I'm a work in progress and YOU ARE TOO."  Because nobody's perfect.  Some people must think they are I guess.  Or they don't have compassion or understanding.  Or it makes them feel good about themselves, or their kids, to look down upon someone else.

    Anyway, I have to put Taylor back on a sensory diet, and it may not be pretty for awhile.  But after her adjustment, it will make her feel a lot better.  Her sensory diet would include a strict schedule of daily activities, more strenuous physical activities, and brushing her body from head to toe every 2 hours with a sensory brush.  She's going to rebel, and cry even more than she has been, but I know now it's time to do it again.  I tried thinking she was having just a few bad days, but it's more than that...I wish I knew why.

    Between Bailey's treatments, Taylor's sensory diet, regular daily life, starting the CF fundraising, being the MOPS coordinator...I feel tired emotionally and I want to light my to-do list on fire.  The weather is GORGEOUS today, so I know being outside with the girls will really be nice.  That breeze feels sooo good!

    And venting like this makes me feel good too.  I can't wait for Taylor to feel better and I hope I can help her.  Because a happy Tatie Tot makes the world a much better place. :)

    Spirit Sunday

    I'm going to be honest, because what's the point if I'm not.

    I have been feeling very lazy in my relationship with God lately.  I bailed out of the Bible study I had been attending, because it required a lot of thought and time.  It made me feel a little dumb, and because I am pleasure-seeking, I started finding reasons to not go.  Which then makes me feel worse.  When I actually do sit and read the Bible or pray, I find my thoughts racing, my mind wandering...which again, makes me feel bad.

    Just this morning I heard some terrible news about a family friend.  It made me upset, and I did pray, Oh God, help them.  But then it's like I couldn't pray anymore, I didn't want to sit down and pray...I felt like if I did, I'd just start crying and I had too much to do this morning to take the time to have a little meltdown.  It's like I miss God, and I want God...but I am putting Him at arms length and I'm not sure why exactly.

    I guess a relationship with God is like any relationship - it takes work, and time, and love.  Priority.  And that's what's missing on my end - making God a priority, putting out the work, and taking the time.  I attend church, I pray with my children, I believe completely.  Sometimes I have issues -- trust, for one.  I go very back and forth with my trust in God.

    I can't even maintain a thought.  Well, I guess what I'm saying is I need to do some work.  And perhaps you've been there once or twice?

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Sales Saturday and a new grocery challenge for April

    I did a bit more shopping this week than I wanted to, but good deals were beckoning me.  Off the top of my head, I spent $20-something at ShopRite, $20-something at Genuardi's, and around $10 at CVS, with $8.50 back in ECBs to use on my next visit (so in my mind it's like paying $1.50 for my stuff, which was a Skintimate shaving cream, 2 M&M candy eggs, 2 Colgate toothbrushes and 2 Colgate toothpastes, 2 Reach toothbrushes and 1 bag of Smartfood popcorn - Bailey was with me and she asked me nicely.  The cost of that popcorn is really what I spent OOP on that trip.

    Anyway, I need to go over my receipts from March and tally up exactly what I spent.  I want to say it's around $150 for the month, saving hundreds of dollars on what I bought.  Which included 8 laundry detergents and fabric softeners, 20 boxes of Purina One cat food (so not like it's crap - the good stuff!), 30 cat food cans, dairy, produce, meat, juice, toiletries, paper goods...and I have donated a few bags of items too and qualified at SR for a free turkey or ham.  Couponing is a huge blessing to me and my family!  I was able to save a great amount this month because of ShopRite's 2 weeks of "dollar days" deals they had, but I am over my goal of spending $100 this month.  This tells me that even with saving $40-something a week right off the bat bc of dollar day rewards, I would've spent more like $300+ and that's WITH couponing.  So I'm definitely not like those women on tv that leave the store paying $5 for carts full, but I am pleased with how much I spend for what I spend it on.   I buy Dietz and Watson lunchmeat, not the junk.  I buy 100% whole wheat bread, organic milk about 1/2 the time, 100% juice, all-fruit get what I'm saying.  Not to mention the shelves I have full of Wisk and Era laundry detergents, John Freida shampoo, Dove soap -- good stuff, the stuff I want.

    I do have to say one way I did not do well this month was on eating out.  Initially I wanted to spend $100 on BOTH eating out and groceries combined and after one week realized I was C.R.A.Z.Y!  I don't even know what we spent eating out...I would guess $200-$250.  So clearly I have work to do there.  We love dates though, and we love going out with I'm not thinking about it yet.

    But I am ready for a new challenge for April.  My shelves are stocked, my freezer full.  I want to what the coupon bloggers call a "Pantry Challenge" and that is to only buy what is absolutely essential over one month's time, using up items you already have.  I will have to get milk, eggs, lunchmeat, yogurt, bread, produce each week as we go through that stuff quickly.   But as far as meals and snacks go, we are going to forage through what we have.

    My goal is to spend $150 in April on groceries/necessities.  I'll let you know how I do!  Does anyone want to join me in the challenge?

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Flash Forward Friday - boys

    I always wanted a girl. I HAD to have a girl.  I told Kevin that if we had boys I would adore them, but we were getting a girl one way or another (in hindsight, whatever.)  I don't think he was listening to me, he'd just kind of nod and start a new conversation.  But God heard me, and gave me 2.  I am thankful for that ALL the time, I LOVE my girlie girls.

    I never said I had to have a boy.  They intimidated me, and I felt I had nothing in common with them.  Also, I thought I'd be a bad boy-mommy, because the thought of trucks and cars and trains bored me just thinking about it.  And as a boy grew, what do you talk about with a teenage boy?  For whatever reason, boys just weren't an experience, if you will, that I HAD to have.  In fact, I wanted a girl so much that if I saw a mom with a passel of boys, I'd feel a bit bad for her.

    Don't judge me...I know I'm weird.   And let me put on the record, that WITHOUT A DOUBT, if I had been blessed with boys, I would have given thanks to God, and I would LOVE them.

    But would my boy leave me for his girl, his wife, just like all boys do?  Boys love their mamas, but the adult relationship between a mother and a son seems very different usually, than the relationship between a mother and her daughter.  Broadly speaking, of course.

    Anyway, I don't know what my relationship with my girls will be like as the years go on, but I pray we're close.  I pray they talk to me, and let me in their lives.  I pray they respect me, listen to me, love me.

    I pray they live close and let me have my grandchildren for the day - a lot.

    I digress.  What I was going to say, is that my heart has changed towards little boys.  I'm not scared of them anymore, and I think if we had had one, I'd really enjoy raising him.  I see these cute little short haired boys (God help me if they have curls!) with their striped polos and dirty sneaks and I just melt.  They are so adorable!  Just today at the Y, while Tatie was having her swim lesson, my eyes kept going to this little boy who had shark swim trunks on, his goggles askew, and I just wanted to kiss his face.

    His mom would've called the cops, I don't even know this kid's name.  He's not even in Tatie's class.

    Kevin and I are done having children, and most days I'm okay with that.  If we didn't have a health risk, if we had a bigger house, a bigger income...we probably would want another child.  Well, I would...Kevin always wanted 2 and is very content.  Anyway, we have not permanently prevented a pregnancy and God could bless us with a child, but I don't see that happening.  So I am really looking forward to being an aunt someday, or at least a fake aunt to a really good friend's baby, so I could love that baby up and enjoy infancy and toddlerhood to the fullest - minus the sleepless nights, breast infections, colic, doctor appts, financial responsibility, etc that comes with having another child.

    And I'm really hoping for a boy.  It's all about me, right?