Thursday, July 31, 2008

15 Reasons Why I Love You

Hey you. Yes, you. If you're reading this, don't go getting any funny ideas. Even though I may love you for reading my blog, this post isn't for you or about you.

You see, today is my anniversary. It's been 15 years since that wonderful day when I became Mrs. DH. As a bonus, 16 years ago today, he proposed to me by hiding my ring inside my fish tank. On a shell kind of shaped like a finger. If it weren't for reflection caused by the sun shining in on it that afternoon, I don't know how long he would have hidden it there.

But that's a story for another day. Today, it's about DH. For DH.

15 Reasons Why I Love You
(If I list the rest of the reasons, I wont have anything to type next time!)

15. Your eyes make me smile and your smile makes me melt. I've thought you were handsome since the day we met... and as we age, I still think you are and even more so!
14. You joke about my faults to make me realize they aren't that big of a deal. When you know something trivial is bothering me, you tease me until I laugh.
13. You love me despite all of the things that are wrong with me.
12. You are constantly thinking. No matter what you are working on, whether it be the computer, your profession, something with the kids - you are always looking for ways to improve it, make it better, make it more profitable. I see a jungle gym in the winter and you see a potential igloo.
11. You never hesitate to help my family when they need it.
10. You are not afraid to learn something new. So many years ago, when the job market was tough, you taught yourself computer graphics (among other things). You put those skills into practice and they are what ultimately got us to where we are today. Whenever you have the chance to improve yourself, you do.
9. You encourage me to make decisions on my own based on what I think is best. Even when you know there may be a better solution. And you don't even say "I told you so." Sometimes.
8. You are fun! I tease you about being my 3rd child, but really, you are a lot of fun to be around. You play with the kids, find new places to explore, take the family to the movies, festivals and conventions, and even suggest a picnic lunch with the girls.
7. You're funny. Although I roll my eyes and groan at some of your jokes, you are quite comical. It was apparent on our first date when I walked you around our campus and showed you the various sculptures of "Ascend." As you put it "I ascended you a letter?"
6. You are creative and talented.
5. Sears Tower. Comiskey.
4. You are always supportive. No matter what I venture out to do, you stick with me and encourage me. Whether it be joining the gym, participating in an activity, starting a new hobby or just spending time with my friends. Even when I wanted to stop working to become a stay-at-home-mom, you supported me.
3. You are modest - which is why I have to tell you these things.
2. You are a wonderful father and our girls are fortunate to have such a great dad.
1. You are a thoughtful and caring husband. I never ask for anything because you always get it for me or do it for me... sometimes even before I know I want it!

I am blessed to be your wife. Thank you for the past 15 years. For all the great times and memories. I'm looking forward to all that is still to come.

I love you.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

First, I apologize in advance to anyone receiving this twice.
It's cross posted on
SAHM Reviews

Thanks to DH, I finally have a button for each of my blogs. I wanted to make it look similar to my page with pictures of the girls, but 125x125 isn't much room to work with. Those would have been two very tiny girls! He worked his graphics magic and this is what he came up with.

You know what? I love it!

If you want to add my button to your side bar, here's the code!

SAHM Ramblings
SAHM Ramblings 125x125 Button Code

SAHM Ramblings
SAHM Ramblings Banner Code

SAHM Reviews
SAHM Reviews 125x125 Button Code

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Distant Cry of Chainsaws

When I lived in Los Angeles, I was often asked how I felt about the earthquakes since I was a transplant from an area without them. In all the years we were there, I only felt shock waves of one really big one miles and miles away. It woke me in the middle of the night and I was more frustrated and annoyed that I couldn't get my glasses from the nightstand since everything was moving. My answer was always the same, "I would rather have an earthquake than a tornado any day."

It's not that an earthquake is easy, because it's not. The devastation is harsh. But the advantage is that you don't know it's coming. It's just there. Then it's done.

But with a tornado, you have the watches and the warnings and the sirens. The news casters saying "Tornadoes have been spotted..." and "Conditions are ripe for tornadoes." You stand at your windows and you watch the storm clouds and wonder if that cloud right there is going to turn into one. It usually goes on for hours as the storm clouds make their way toward your home, over your home then ultimately beyond. It's that anticipation, that uncertainty, that makes it so difficult.

This past Monday in the wee hours of the morning, the winds picked up, the rains thrashed and the storm moved in. It was quick but it was powerful. There wasn't any kind of warning.

But the destruction it left was undeniable. This was not just an ordinary storm. From what I understand, the winds reached 100 mph in some areas. A call from my mom indicated that the winds in their neighborhood were severe. They lost their two apple trees along with a maple - trees that were among the first landscaping they did back in the mid 1970s. A fourth, a smaller tree along the front lane also fell victim to the storm. Branches on other trees were broken and flipped upward into the trees, over the limbs they were originally connected to. One of their neighbors had a windmill that was bent in half and another neighbor lost his flagpole that had been rated to withstand winds of at least 80mph.

DH and I spent the better part of Monday helping my parents clean up the chaos. We were hauling and stacking the limbs as fast as my dad would cut them but 35 year old trees are huge when you start to cut them apart. Each time my dad would cut the power on his chainsaw, we could hear at least one chainsaw running in the distance in one direction or another. Seems there was a lot of cleanup going on Monday.

With as nasty as this storm was, I'm thankful that my parents weren't injured, nor were any of their neighbors. I regret to say that one 4 year old child lost his life when a tree fell on their tent during a family camping trip. If you're curious what a 100 mph storm can do, check out some of the pictures on the QC Times website.

So as I sit here today, here in Iowa, I can honestly say that I prefer an earthquake to a tornado. Any day. Still.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

How does your garden grow?

First, my name is not Mary. It's Nicole. AKA Mom. But the garden is growing just fine none-the-less! However, if I were to finish the nursery rhyme, it would go something like this:

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary. How does your garden grow?
With one red bell and toe-may-toes and lots of carrots-all in a row.

For those of you who were with me in the beginning, or even when I saw my first sprouts, thanks for all the encouragement. We've come a long way. I seriously didn't think I had a knack for gardening but family and friends assured me that it would be okay. That I could do it.

We built just two beds to see how I would do and how I would like it. DH commented that he can tell I'm already planning for more beds for next year's garden. I guess he can see the proud gleam in my eyes.

The girls have been great about helping me weed it. They were very confident with pulling the weeds until it became so overgrown that they couldn't even find the dirt any more.

I'm quite proud of where we're at now. With six tomato plants creeping over the fence. Six different varieties already preparing a nice yield. One red bell pepper plant surrounded by cooking onions and edged by a row of spring onions. We pulled and cut one of the large onions the other day and it was delicious.

My onion. From my garden. Delicious. What a lovely sound.

The bed of carrots is huge. In the beginning, I worked diligently to thin them as much as I could. Three zillion tiny carrots that are so close together that you need tweezers to thin them properly. No, I didn't do that. I did what I could then figured I would have lots of baby carrots in the beginning... THAT would be my thinning method. Well, those baby carrots are making a tasty addition to my salads these days. The girls and I pick a few each day.

And then there are the banana pepper plants... producing far more than what I could possibly know what to do with. That's okay though, we'll figure out something.

On the down side, we're having a major problem with Japanese beetles. It's annoying, but the girls and I are making a game of it. Each day, we head outside with our jar of soapy water and proceed to catch any beetle that dare raid our garden... or our bushes.

It has all been a nice bonding experience. The gardening and the bug collecting. And it's been a confidence booster, too. I love my garden and can't wait to have fresh tomatoes!

Monday, July 14, 2008

On the Fringe... 20 Years Later

When I was in high school, I wasn't part of the "IN" crowd. Actually, I was one of those kids who worked very diligently to screw up the bell curve in any class that I possibly could. Honest, it wasn't out of spite - it was because I wanted to be at the top of the class.

Socially, I was raised to get along with everyone. That's just how it was. Although I didn't hang with other crowds, it didn't prevent me from mingling with them, talking to them or going places with them. I often crossed into different cliques so long as it didn't mean trashing my true friends.

One day in high school, a classmate told me how phony I am. She said "It's impossible to be friends with everyone, so since you're friends with everyone, you must be fake." Nice. Truly the words of a snobbish, clueless high school (ummm) young lady. But I was genuine and really just wanted to be able to talk to anyone. I'm still that way today and people that know me as an adult really get it. People at the gym refer to me as the welcoming committee because I'm the first person to greet a new person to class. Why? Because being new somewhere is uncomfortable and I like making people feel like their presence makes a positive difference.

When I graduated, I didn't look back. I maintained a few high school friendships in college then kept in touch with nobody. Zilch. Moving to California gave me the perfect excuse for not having a clue as to any of the gossip surrounding my classmates. When I received an invitation to my 10-year reunion, I had absolutely no intention of spending money for a trip back to Iowa for it.

A few months back when I received an invitation to my 20-year reunion, I felt like tossing it into the trash. The difference, however, is that I'm now back in Iowa and have run into a few of my classmates. You know what? They grew up. They matured. We all did (for the most part). I've been in contact with some of them either through preschool or the gym and I've enjoyed talking to them. They convinced me that going to the reunion wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Well, this past weekend was the reunion. Yes, I went. No, it wasn't horrible. Yes, I loved seeing some of my old friends. Particularly Meg, someone I called one of my closest friends in high school. Who, by the way, aged beautifully - as you can tell by the photo. You may notice that I blurred out our name tags. My concern was my sanity, not my identity. The name tags displayed our FRESHMAN picture next to our name. Ick.

As Meg and I walked around, we caught a glimpse of a bunch of the "in" crowd gathering for a group picture. Meg elegantly raised her glass to me and said "Here's to being on the fringe."

Yup, Meg. Here's to surviving the fringe. Cheers.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

When is a Cupcake NOT a Cupcake?

When it's a bath bomb!

As I've mentioned a few times recently, I created a new blog for doing reviews and giveaways. I like my SAHM Ramblings blog to be focused on my life and the kids (and other what-not) but I will be posting heads-up messages over here so people know that there's a contest running over at SAHM Reviews. I apologize if it's out of place for anyone but I hope it won't send anyone rushing to hit the "unsubscribe" button!

With that said...

I'm really excited to have the opportunity to host a giveaway sponsored by Beyond the Bomb. Head over to SAHM Reviews for details on how and what you can win!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One Photographer. One Gold Digger.

We went a different route this year for the 4th and headed to a small festival near where the fireworks would be on display. Typically, we go to a large open area a few blocks further outside the worst of the chaos-zone but this year I suggested we try something new.

By 7:30 when we arrived, they were already shutting down all the bouncers and other kids activities. Since there wasn't anything for the girls to do, we pulled out our blanket and chairs and set up camp with two hours to go before the fireworks would begin. I had not brought anything for the kids to do since I figured we would be killing time at the festival. They entertained themselves for the most part, but when Miss M asked if she could take a picture with my camera, I said "okay." After a few botched shots, she actually pulled off a good one.On the flip side... The other night at dinner, DH decided to have a conversation with the girls about what they could be when they grow up. Astronaut, doctor, judge, banker. He would say something in-between bites and the girls would ask what "that" was. He would explain it and they would respond whether it sounded good or not. I apparently appeared to be spacing off and in true jokester fashion, in an attempt to see if I was paying attention inserted "Gold Digger" into the list. Yes, I was listening and no, milk did not come out of my nose. Miss K asked "What's that?" to which he replied "Someone who digs in the ground and finds gold and jewels." "Oooh! I want to be THAT. What was it called?" So he repeated it and so did she. At bedtime that night, she reiterated that she wanted to be a gold digger when she grew up and dig jewelry and gold out of the ground. The following day, she proudly told me AGAIN. Followed by the desire to tell her Grandmas about her new found interest. Since she is going to be seeing one Grandma tomorrow and the other in a few weeks, I figured I better be proactive about the story!

Think I'll go charge the battery in the metal detector so she can start practicing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Following Through. Starting Another Year!

If there's one thing I do well, it's getting bored and moving on. Let me put it in more realistic, less fluffy, terms - I don't finish what I start. As my husband so eloquently puts it "You're full of good intentions." Despite my knack for creative discussion (cough, argue, cough), I would lose that debate time and again. I love to start things but if I'm not 100% invested then it just doesn't happen.

It's really not a new thing. As much as I want to blame motherhood, senility, whatever, I just can't. I've been presented with evidence that this problem goes back to childhood. Sigh. When we bought our first house, my mom and dad delightfully delivered all my childhood memories. They cleaned their basement and made a trip to California - delivering anything they could find that was marked as "Nicole". Crap I saved for a really long time. Can I say crap? Sorry. Stuff that I saved for a really long time. No need to point out that my pack rat tendencies stem from my childhood, as well.

Within that mess of childhood tchotchkes was a beginner loom. Attached to the loom was the original purple yarn and a makeshift scarf... a work in progress dating back to the 70's.

Before my nephew was born, I jump-started my crochet hobby. Selecting yarns to match our bedroom set and picking a patch-together pattern that I could do over time. I never finished the afghan and our bedroom set has long since changed color schemes. I even purchased yarn to make a baby blanket for my nephew once I got the hang of crocheting again... he starts junior high this year.

To my credit, the gym is one thing that I have continued with - having just passed the two year mark and still going strong. Oh, and hubby... I'm sticking with him until he gets tired of me. That's a blog post for another day.

But the title of this post is "Following Through. Starting Another Year." It's about my blog. I just want to say that I've come a long way since my very first blog post on July 9, 2007. One year ago today. I'm excited and energized about it. I don't post as often as I would like, but I post when I can. I started a new review/giveaway blog and have several things in the pipeline for that.

Best of all, I'm enjoying my blog. I've met a ton of great people. Read a lot of wonderful stories and posts. Vented a lot of steam. It's therapeutic. It's fun. It's something I can call my own.

Thanks to all my readers for helping me with this accomplishment.

(and special thanks to DH for all his help and encouragement.)

Friday, July 4, 2008

You Have to Be Sad Like Mom

Last night we took a dinner cruise on the Mississippi on board the Celebration Belle. It was a three-hour cruise beginning with some free time for relaxing, followed by a small buffet dinner and dessert topped off with more relaxing and some music. I really thought that the boat would be packed, but there were only 22 of us.

After having tea and lemonade at our assigned seat along the window (with only 22 guests, everyone was assigned a table by a window), we set out to explore the paddle boat. We headed up to the top deck and enjoyed as much of the view as we possibly could with two antsy little kids with us. DH and I really started to question whether this outing was a good idea when Miss M constantly asked what time it was and when dinner would be served. We just wanted them to enjoy the scenery but getting them to hold still was tough. I haven't figured out how I managed to get a few beautiful pictures... thank goodness for digital cameras and the ability to take 15 photos and delete 14.

While topside, we pointed out the bridge we usually cross and how the girls could see other cars crossing if they just paid attention. Miss M was very excited when she recognized a landmark associated with where one of her preschool classmates lives. Since she rode the bus every day, she saw that landmark every time they picked up and dropped off her friend, Zachary.

Dinner was okay - nothing fabulous but it wasn't horrible. Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly kid-friendly. But we were enjoying it anyhow.

After dinner, we spent time looking at the scenery then eventually headed to the dining hall where the band was playing a variety of tunes. With such a small number of passengers, I wasn't surprised when Miss M and Miss K had sole reign of the dance floor.

Now let me tell you, my girls are not shy on the dance floor. We're not sure where she learned it but Miss M claimed to be break dancing. Can you picture this firely little red head running the circle then spinning on her back?

When DH mentioned that we should request "Wheels on the Bus" just to see what the girls would do, my brain about exploded. The completely selfish side of me took over and any thoughts of requesting a song for the girls went out the window. I looked at him and asked "They're taking requests?" He said "Yeah, they said that at the beginning." Ummm. Oh. "Well then maybe I'll request our song. Will you dance with me if I request it?" He rolled his eyes as I was asking because he saw it coming. But no sooner had I finished the sentence when the band played a warm up four bars for their next song. DH and I looked at each other. Tears welled in my eyes and I could see a sparkle in his. When they started back up, they played something entirely different. I was totally deflated so when they approached the end of that song, I put in my request.

DH and I headed to the dance floor. I wrapped my arms around his neck and blissfully rested my head on his chest. Miss M saw us and tried to mimic it with Miss K. After a few minutes of jockeying for position, Miss M loudly explained "No K! You have to be sad like Mom! See." They finally gave up and just joined us.

Despite a few tears here and there, I wasn't sad. I was actually quite happy. It was a beautiful night with my favorite people in a wonderful setting. What could there possibly be to be sad about?