Saturday, May 30, 2009

Going to market

There is something about the farmer's market that reminds me of the Bay Area. Lots of veggies, fruits, friendly faces. It never ceases to amaze me what is grown in our backyards, I hate taking it for granted. So we didn't. We loaded up on greens, salad, squash, and eggplant. We had our first apricots of the season-pure heaven. We almost bought berries, but then learned of a pick your own berry patch, so we're going to do that, possibly next week, if not the week after. The boys and I danced in the square, Robert danced with E, it was fun! I think M wanted to twirl me around all night, and would have if I let him. I knew we had a good night when M and G wanted to listen to the music more instead of heading home. Two hours there equaled tired but happy children, and R and I can't wait to put our culinary skills to work this week.

As for the rest of our weekly shopping, that's done too. We went to Costco today, bringing the trusty coupon book; we walked out with only sunscreen, eggs, bananas, and dog food. It goes to show I have finally broken us away from Costco's grasp. We're now a soda free home (although I'll probably buy some for mixed alcoholic drinks this summer, but nowhere near like we were before). Iced tea, water, and milk is on the menu. Fruit juice is considered a treat, and even then, its a frozen treat. We're not buying bottled drinks, frozen snacks, and have greatly reduced our use of packaged treats (cookies, snack cakes, granola bars). The most we've bought the past several months is trail mix/variety of nuts/dried fruit, each family sized bag lasting us a month or longer. I really hope we can continue to stick to this, it was an adjustment, but then again, the farmer's market shows us how there are many healthy snacks available.

This weekend is going to be fun. We're going to Splash Zone tomorrow or Sunday, bringing a picnic lunch. We may head to the zoo too, or save that for another day. Lots of eating outdoors, splashing in the pool. We haven't used the a/c yet, choosing to go swimming, using free activities to keep us cool. So far its worked well for us, and tiring our our tireless boys in the process. We'll see if we last another weekend, though, I think it's supposed to be 100. At the least, we'll cook outdoors. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Room to breathe

Room to breathe-what does that mean for me? I've been going through some issues the past couple of weeks, some of which were pleasant (M's graduation), and other's not so (the continuing saga of parents divorce, now selling house, not knowing what childhood mementos I'll see again, mother/daughter issues), its a lot to deal with. I'm doing the best I can, and so things have fallen to the wayside-including blogging. That's okay though, I'm trudging along, holding onto faith that things will get better.

Even though another round of paycuts is coming, and we're waiting on bated breath to see where that falls, I'm not going to get worked up about it. There is many more problems in the world-heck between hearing an old mom friend is now hooked on meth (her kids are the same ages as mine) and my mom having to move out, my life is not worth complaining about. We're eating home, lots of stuff at the house, we've changed the way we're living, we've pulled it together-R is really a godsend when it comes to helping shoulder the load. I'll miss it temporarily when school resumes in a couple of weeks (but boy will I jump for joy at his graduation in a couple of years!)

M's party is planned, cupcakes and pizza at the park. Easy. His friends from preschool have RSVP'd, and he is thrilled. Invites went out late, but family drama pulled me down-it hapens, but I'm moving on. I'm sad that two of his best friends from preschool are going to different schools next fall, but due to where they live, it was bound to happen. On the upside, he looked darling with them at graduation. For some reason the pic option on here isn't working, so I can't post my favorite shot of them. I'll try again later and hope it works.

So this is my time to breathe, soak everything up, learn from it. Be at peace with it. Like the intense thunderstorm that passed through last night, and this morning is beautiful, I know I'll get beyond this. I'm looking forward to see where it goes.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Oh to travel by car is divine! We found our newest place to go-better than any theme park and free (because we are zoo members)-the Oakland Zoo! Hands down, the most incredible zoo-and an astounding change in temperature. While F town was toasty at 86degrees at 5pm, we were in 55 degree weather a few hours earlier, only 3 hours away. To heck with buying theme park tickets, head in the car and go to the zoo (and an amazing array of animals not seen at our zoo too!)

We went to Santa Crux for family pictures. They turned out beautiful! Go to, password allenbeach2009. They look a bit pixilated (is that a word?) on the computer, but the prints are aways awesome. And for the record, the cost by the print is not what we pay (we order through our photographer, not the site) Otherwise, ouch!

While passing through the mountains we found places where we can rent cabins for the weekend. Family friendly environment, lots of things to do nearby (or nothing to do, depending on how you see it), and much cooler temps (even cooler than the mountains near here). We're going to consider it for August, maybe later, maybe even a multiple family trip-or sibling trip-as I'm the only one w/ kids. Either way it has a potential for being fun.

Finally, my sister proposed a trip for my 30th birthday-a girls trip to Vegas! No kids, no husband (boyfriend for her), nada. Can we pull it off? R is open to watching all 3 boys ALONE for a couple of nights so we can go. I've been thinking of how I want to start off this new chapter, and this sounds like a great way. I've done a lot in my 20s (college, marriage, kids, more college), and I am excited to start my 30s with new adventues ahead. So I'm going to start looking up airfare, and see what hotel options are. One thing about my sister-she knows I loves a bargain. Oh the things we can do-lounge by a pool, window shopping, see a show. Even eat a hot meal. Sleep in-then again, does anyone sleep in Vegas? Hmmmm....the sound of going sounds more appealing as I think about it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

And the family discussion continues

So I've been on the upswing lately, hormones seem to have mellowed out-I missed my appointment this week due to a repair man coming, but have plans to reschedule that by tomorrow. Why is this relavent to this post? Well, R and I have been discussing the future. We have stuff on our plate that we're going to have to deal with in the coming years, aging parents (his) divorce and remarriage (of mine) and the state of our own family (holding steady at five). R broached the topic of finally getting snipped-yes, with a vasectomy. On his own, he made an appointment for it next week, and told me about it today. He wanted to know what I thought. It suprised me to some degree, but then again, I wasn't blown away. He's known for a long time that I'm happy with our crew-they keep me on my toes, and even though I'm overwhelmed at times, I love our three boys. The yearning to have another comes and goes, more seems it hits when I see a new baby's pictures, but then fades away as Coronas and late nights of free time beckons. Also, I love to hold, but love to hand back. The wanting is fading, more as E is getting independant-I didn't have that w/ G, whereas I knew to some degree the want for another child was still there, no matter how faint the want was. R's desire to have another is waning too-if only because he's enjoying having older children now. That and he outright told me that he's sure we'd have another son (after 3 boys, I'm thinking we probably would too!), and I think a tiny part of him yearns for a daughter.

Thus, the topic of adoption has come up. R's open to that idea, once our boys are in school. I'm open to it too-down the parenting line. I know a mom who has six children, three of whom are in highschool/graduating high school this year/in college, two that I believe are in kindergarten, and one who's entering kindergarten next year. The younger three were adopted when they were babies, and it amazes me how this mom and her husband have started all over, when most people would be ready to celebrate the independance of their youth. So it leaves me to wonder, what does the future hold for us child wise. First, will R keep that appointment (which I have to take him to)? R knows I won't get my tubes tied, and he pointed out today that until we take permaent action there's always a possibility of getting pregnant (no matter what b/c we use). Will we make the leap to adoption down the line? Do we want to start over, or go with an older child that deserves a stable home? Or are we going to raise our boys and move forward. One thing I've learned from watching others, families of all shapes, sizes, ages, nothing is ever set in stone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Starting at the bottom

is how I feel sometimes. There's so much I want to do, as an individual, mom, wife, the list is never ending. I sometimes struggle with not just what I want, but how I want to go about and do it. Its easy to get whipped in a frenzy-or stay stuck in a moment, scared of what to do first. I've been working on that a lot, offering help, yet not having a "I'm in control, get out of my way" vibe. I hope this will bear good results, or at least a calmer, saner me.

First, summertime activities. I put in for the boys to be at the preschool's summer program twice a week. They love seeing their friends, and the center is gearing up for fun activities. I've offered to help out, both in aquiring supplies (which in part is collecting my recycable items for art activities), and with my time. Even if the boys are there twice a week, we may go there an extra day as a family if I do an art/cooking/chaparone an event for the kids. Leaving the door open lets me gain foothold into what's going on at the center, and will help me figure out what we'll do in the fall.

Speaking of fall, we did learn that the center is up for sale-(R spoke to one of the owners) but supposedly it will sell only if they get a good offer. While doing some detective work, I learned there is another center in town for sale (the one that was an alternate for E if I didn't use where we were at). There's also trouble brewing at two other preschools in town-low enrollment, high cost of maintaining facilities, its a sign of the downward economy. For right now, the owners are considering laying teachers off at our center now to reduce the financial pressure; other facilities in town are already doing that, so it wouldn't come as a shock. At the same time, we've had little turnover of staff since we've been there, and the entire staff is part of our extended family. I'm going to stick with the staff, support wherever I can, to ensure this place still exists. My children have benefited tremendously from this place, and its an assett to our community. Time will tell, but I hope parent support will pull through in this difficult time.

That said, I decided to have have us participate in a fun activity at a preschool co-op this summer. I want to foster the boys love for knowledge, and this will help them thrive. It'll also allow me to check out another place in case our current preschool shuts down (or makes changes that we can't live with).

That's it for summer-I'm not signing the boys up for more; it leaves the door (and money) open for something in the fall, as well as gives us the freedom to go on day trips to the mountains and coast (both are inexpensive).

The other thing I'm working on is trip to H town with two playgroups. I'm excited, hoping we pull off this coordinated effort. At the least it's one last hurrah w/ one group, and maybe another group can make it an annual event. At this point, I feel I've done what I can, and know that whoever comes will come; regardless, the boys and I will have a blast.

Here's to summer, I know its going to be a great one!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Summer eats

I love summer food and drinks. Let go of the heavy dishes, bring out the salads, the grilled entrees, the fresh veggies and fruit. We hit up Vons for our weekly trip, and I loved the deals. Fresh veggies (since we used up the squash yesterday and today-we'll need to buy a lot more next week!) and fruit. 90% lean ground beef for under $2/lb (thanks to those nifty 50% off stickers!) and lean pork chops for under $1.25/lb lb (thanks to those 50% off stickers, plus on sale!) Complete with turkey hot dogs (and all beef ones too-both were sale+coupon!), we'll have our grill going with some yummy things this summer. I bought Cheerios, both for our breakfast and snack-that will last us quite awhile. We stocked up on mustard and salad dressing (yet again-love it with sliced veggies!) and all is well. I even splurged and bought two bottles of apple juice-I want to make juice pops for the boys, and remember my mom freezing juice in molds. Along with the pasta (love homemade macaroni salad!), biscotti for my tea, and salsa for our chips, it was a great shopping trip. I spent $47.13, with a savings of 65% (a combined savings of 58.98 from the club card and 27.67 from coupons, total 86.65) I was thrilled, even more so since our meat supply was dwindling.

And one last thought, my blender has found a new home on our kitchen counter-replacing my Senseo coffee maker for the season. I love smoothies, so in sight, in mind.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The glory days of summer!

I love this weather, crisp and cool in the morning, a little warmer by mid day, and by evening, while its hot, its nice to know that with the heat comes ways of cooling down. I love making iced tea, I have many types to try this summer, I'm finding it healthier, refreshing, and dowright cheaper than bottled drinks, soda, and anything else. Add my love of farmer's markets, strawberries, blackberries, cherries galore, and I see fresh smoothies in my future.

We hit up K town's smorgesbord last night, I kept it affordable by buying just the kid meals for the three boys. I wasn't too hungry, and R wasn't either. Man, those children plates were huge! R and I ate a lot, and the boys tried many different things, including beets, pickled herring (which E loved!), and swedish meatballs. There was cucumber salad and lindonberry dessert. Awesome food, nothing heavy, and eating in the park while listening to folk music and dancers was great! The boys suprised me, they opted to sit next to the dance floor and watch the musicians and dancers, instead of playing in the park. They listened so well, even E stayed close by shaking his booty to the music.

Today we hit up the farmer's market in F town. Loved it! Bought strawberries, zucchinni, yummy stuff for our meals early this week. We didn't bring much cash (but we know now most our summer food bill will be spent here instead now, so we'll plan accordingly for next time). After hitting up Costco for the pershiables, we decided to forgo Costco produce for the season except for bananas, since everything at the farmer's market looked so much better (and was cheaper too!) Come to think of it, we may just skip bananas too, but I love those in smoothies, so we'll see what happens. We are now cool at home, fans running without the a/c on. Its bearable, and the kids don't mind. I have laundry hanging on the line, and more to hang up once that's dry. R's at the library, working on his final paper. All is good and mellow. Later we'll eat dinner outside, and let the kids play in their pool. Its the beginning of lazy days of summer and I'm loving it!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday morning musings

This week has been a hub of fun activities. We went to V town for the morning on Wednesday for a stroll through downtown and a free trolley ride. We plan on doing that again, and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at a nearby park. The library (which has an awesome children's wing) also has a trolley stop nearby. I hope to make that a weekly pit stop (besides the library at home).

More layoffs are coming from the state. This doesn't bode well for jobs in the state, let alone the local economy. I'm hopeful that nothing will happen w/ R's job, but we're going to take it one month at a time. Last time we had some notice about the pay cuts, but as with anything, you never know what can happen.

Lots of fun, inexpensive activities this weekend. Too many choices, all spending under $20 for the day. Should we hit up Storyland and the zoo for their multicultural event? K town is having a festival, complete with vendors and kid activities, lots of community attractions. Or how about down in V-town for movies in the park? Or farmer's market? How I love this time of year-no need to stay at home, the outside awaits!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To be a kid

While we're balancing work, motherhood, and family life I'm noticing some changes. M's able to reach the high string that opens the latch on the preschool's gate, whereas just last month he still needed to be on his toes to snag it. Mind you, its not a lot he can grab, but he's proud of getting taller. This brings me to the next point-M's getting older is making him like a puppy-he loves getting bigger, but not necessarily ready for all the changes. Yesterday he told me he wished he was four still- I think it's sinking in that he'll be at a big school this fall, not to mention different surroundings and teachers. We have his assessment this morning, so I hope that puts his mind at ease.

In other news, I'm getting the stuff for his birthday party together. M keeps switching ideas, his latest request was for a rainbow party. My hope is to get that finalized soon, so I can get invites in the mail.

We'll be squared away for summer activities in the next couple of weeks too. I'm on the fence about a couple of things, especially since we have some home repairs we should do before that. As for finances, my frame of mind is less is more. We're eating at home, using free activites to occupy us. I foresee us continuing to have playdates at the park for as long as the weather holds out.

There's more on my mind, but need to get moving for now. We have to get everyone ready before the assessment this moring. For now, have a lovely day :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

The gift

So much is focused on material items for Mother's Day, when the true meaning is lost in the shuffle. I don't know if its because my kids are still young, I treasure the colored drawings, the hand tracings, the simple things. I look forward to my children growing independant, our relationship blossoming from one of primary physical caring to emotional well being.

Seeing my mom's unraveling, from her need to control everyone, through kicking children out, to now this messy divorce, I'm understanding more why self care is so important. I can't take care of my children forever, nor will they necessarily take care of me (although the thought of them passing on a nursing home to take care of me is appealing). I can't control them forever, nor can I control what other people say and do (including my husband, siblings, everyone under the sun).

I almost lost my mind yesterday for a bit-R was extremely tired, I felt I was doing more work than he was w/ the kids, not to mention the kids wanted to veg in front of the tv, I wasn't getting royal treatment and for a split second I wanted to pout. Darn it, it was Mother's Day, it was supposed to be about me! Then I chilled-because I realized my grumpy mood was more about my mom's self absorbed phone calls than not being doted on. I set up the kiddie pool, kids ran out for that. I grabbed a Corona and took a big chill pill. Later when R decided he was tired and wanted to nap, I turned the tv off, and told R I was going out for dinner, and if anyone wanted to come, great-if not, I was taking the baby and going out-I was not cooking today! Realizing I can't control everything-only what I do, that's the bottom line. I didn't care if I ate McDs or a five course meal, I knew I didn't want to cook. The night ended well, and R ommented he knew my foul mood earlier was because of my mom. While it could have left a huge damper on the day, I decided it was more important to enjoy what I do have, instead of what I don't. There's enough sadness and pity in the world-no reason for me to add to it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekly roundup

This week has been a buzz of activity; not so much because we've been away doing things, but because the weather has been fantastic, we're outside more! We've had playdates at the park, playdates at the house, venturing out to explore our surroundings, and having a great time.

M's birthday was wonderful. I suprised his preschool class with pizza and cookies. M was thrilled, I was thrilled, and the kids were polite and well behaved. After that, we took the car for an oil change (coupons used!), and I was suprised that M enjoyed watching the mechanics, talk about free entertainment! We finished up the afternoon by picking R up from school, and having a late lunch/early dinner at happy hour. M was excited because he had icecream served in a martini glass, topped with a cherry. He was one happy 5 year old!

Yesterday R worked, and we met with friends at the park. The weather was great, kids were well behaved, and a good time was had by all. We splurged on lunch at Taco Bell, and the four of us ate for under $8 (coupons used!) We headed home for naptime, and we played inside with cars, and the ever present police officer make believe. We had dinner out w/ R courtesy of a mystery shop, and came home where we all fell asleep early.

I'm hopeful for a restful Mother's Day, or at least one where I get the day off from cooking. So far, so good. Hope everyone is enjoying themselves :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ready to take on the day!

I'm excited about this morning, I'm checking out a wildlife preserve near our hometown. It should make for an interesting morning, I'm glad its dried out from the rain, and the weather should be clear and warm.

This weekend was frugal, we stayed in town this weekend, but ventured out for activities. We hit up the parks, as well as the zoo. The only money we spent wa on grocery shopping, otherwise we ate at home all weekend, and did free activities. It was fun, and the kids passed ou each night from sheer exhaustion.

I'm hoping for a productive week. I have things to get ready for M's birthday on Friday (yay!) and firming up plans for his birthday get together. I have to run by City Hall and see what my options are, and we'll go from there. At theleast, I think we'll have an open playdate towards the end of the month, or early next month. Its always a hard call, between his birthday, Mother's Day weekend, and Memorial Day weekend. Always something going on, but we'll make the best of it!

We have fun things to do this month, one of which is M's preschool graduation. I'm looking forward to that, we received his cap and gown (totally bizarre having one, but I'm going with the flow here). I think he's more excited about the tassell than the gown, or the concept of a ceremony. In any case, I'm excited, and can't wait to see my little man start this new chapter in his life.

That's it for now, we're off and running to the preserve!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Peace of mind

New month, continued new attitude. Its impossible to compete with people, and really, its a self defeating moment. It made me feel ill, moments of self doubt, and left me with a hunger, for something. Changing how I live has not been done over night, but by baby steps. Knowing I can control only myself and how I live, and how I model for my children, I can hope for the best with my family and friends, lend an ear, lend my time, and then move forward.

I was reminded of that today when I heard a podcast about the chronically homeless in our hometown. Its not just released criminals on the street, the mentally ill sleeping on a bench, instead its more working class, white collar, more families, car sleeping, rv parking, even tent cities. Not just in the bad side of downtown, but hidden in areas of wealth, by the freeways, near the malls. Unless you knew what to look for, you'd miss it. No one think it can happen-I've seen it happen. Savings get drained, illnesses, layoffs, it all happens, one thing leads to another. It may take a year for the bottom to fall out, or maybe sooner, but it can and does happen. I'll never forget seeing the sheer desperation of parents wondering how they're going to feed their kids, welcoming them into a shelter for one meal (only to have to turn them away for beds since we were at capacity). It sucked. More so now I think about it and wonder how I could do that, being a mom myself. R thinks I'm a liberal hearted hippie, the way I think and he way I view the world. But really, its moments like this I want to focus on my family, make sure we have our basic needs, and then give to others. I may want a cricut, a sewing machine, any number of scrapboking treats for myself, toys for the kids, something fun for R, but now I know is the time to keep marching forward. We have our needs met, no reason to buy just to buy, the kids are learning that more everyday. I know we want to give our children the world, they may not get Disneyland, but after seeing G's face playing ball last night, or the boys playing with markers (all over their faces and hands this evening), thy sure do have a lot. And that's good enough.

Rain can't hold us in

The rain may have changed our weekend plans, but did not dampen our spirits. It was dwnpouring early yesterday morning in the Bay Area, so after attempting to plan around it, we decided to hold off our pictures until Memorial Day weekend. By then the weather should be warmer here, and a break from K town will be more welcome.

We spent the morning at home, puttering around. The boys played outside with R, and I went on a two mile walk to the library with the baby. I didn't time it, but I think it took me 20 minutes each way, considering I was gone for an hour and was at the library for a long time. I'm hoping to improve my endurance this spring/summer, I miss walking and its a great stress relief for me. I picked up some cookbooks and novels I had requested, and headed home.

We went to Costco, coupons in hand. I've been pleased with our progress in how we shop there, since even though we had a full cart, we walked out under $100. We haven't been there in over a week, and were out of basics and some of our monthly goods. We used only a few coupons, otherwise a lot of it we passed on. No more frozen meals, junk food, fruit juice in the house. Unless I get a smoking good deal on it, prices are higher at Costco, and with R's downturn in income we've seen how those "needs" are really "wants". It's been cheaper to shop the way I've been shopping than getting certain items at Costco too. For examped, I stopped at a neighbor's home along the walk and scored 3 lbs of tomatos and 6 avacados for $3~(salsa and guacamole are in my future) and for the a smaller amount of food at costco-it was $6 alone for five avacados! I'm loving shopping based on seasonality, its making a difference in our way of life.

Today should be a mellow day. Maybe a trip to the park, maybe to Target for an escape. I need to get a move on planning M's graduating class memory books and figuring out what we're getting for gifts for the teachers too. The teachers are giving me the photos next week, but I want to have a rough idea of what I'm doing so I can pop through quickly. That's it for now, breakfast is calling!