Wednesday, January 28, 2009

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Hey...I won!

Hey, everybody! Well, right now I'm in the middle of school being canceled, a morning of no electricity at the restaurant and a honkin' messy house. But guess what? I got some good news on Monday night when I found out that I won a t-shirt design contest over at!!! You can see the post announcing that I won here, but I've also included a picture of my entry:

I was just tickled pink about winning! So, I get to judge the next contest (and pick the topic - which I have chosen, but Casey hasn't announced it yet). Such fun! It brightened up this otherwise icy and miserable week!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

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Hello, exercise.

Well, I did something last week. I ordered a Wii Fit Balance Board, and it showed up at my house on Thursday. The reason for this? Well, there are a few. One is that I REALLY start to need exercising. I have about 20 extra pounds on me that I want to go away. I haven't done any REAL physical activity since I was tending bar, almost six years ago. I'll walk around the neighborhood when it's warm, but zilch in the winter. So, I thought that the Wii Fit would be a fun way to start doing something physical. And I had heard great things about it. I didn't want to part with the cash, but I did. I also thought that using the balance board would be a bit easier for the kids.

So, I hop up on that puppy Thursday night. I enter all of my info, it weighs me and gives me my Wii Fit age. Which wasn't pretty. It was 51. In my defense (or maybe proving how dense I can be), I DID have the board backwards when I first started. Today when I did it my age was that's definitely better. I really like that I can do simple exercises in the yoga and strength training (well, not simple as in EASY, but simple as in not complicated) and then can play some 'games.' I also like that the more you play, the more games get unlocked. Keeps it interesting. I especially have been enjoying the step class and the hula hoop game. I am definitely not graceful, but that's something I've always known.

The kids enjoy it also. Becca has even been really good at the skiing! Speaking of Becca, she lost a second tooth today, so I got to play tooth fairy again. She asked if I thought whether or not the tooth fairy would let her keep her tooth. I told her maybe she should draw a picture for the tooth fairy to butter her up. She has become very grown up in the past couple of weeks. Last week we had this conversation:

"Mom, do I look sexy?"
"What? No! No, you do not look sexy. You should not look sexy. Don't say that word anymore."
"It's a grown up word. Just don't say it."

She has finally started wearing jeans. Normally, I wouldn't really care whether or not she wears jeans. But we have bags and bags of hand-me-down jeans that are in great condition. And she does look darn cute in them. So Becca? She is definitely making the transition from little kid to just kid.

Chloe, on the other hand, is just amazing me with her imagination. She simply cracks me up. A few days ago, she told me that she knew what she was going to ask Santa for next Christmas. She said a lion. I informed her that lions eat people, and unless she wanted to be lunch, a lion would not be a very good idea. So then she switched to zebra. She told me that we could keep it outside. Yup, a zebra.

I'm trying to talk her into a hamster.

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Crazy Life

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I have a plan. I'll post something original tonight. But for now, here's a little nugget. I was tagged on Facebook with '25 Things About Me.' So, here's what I wrote:

1. I think college is overrated, but I'll never tell my kids that
2. I watch 'Dazed and Confused' whenever I come across it on tv
3. I make the best damned sweet tea
4. Bananas make me sick (literally)
5. I still have dreams that I work at West Coast Video (I worked there until I was 23)
6. I have a goal of making my living completely online
7. I believe in the Law of Attraction
8. I think I have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder
9. Even after being a bartender and owning a restaurant, I don't really like dealing with real, live people.
10. I actually used to like Milli Vanilli (before the lip sync thing was revealed)
11. I secretly want to be a Rock Star
12. Watching people put a napkin or paper towel in their mouth totally gives me the heebie-jeebies. Like nails down a chalk board.
13. I don't know how to drive a stick shift
14. My father made me do donuts the first time it snowed after I got my license. MADE me.
15. My oldest daughter was 4 lbs and 6 weeks early
16. Once I found out the oldest daughter was perfectly healthy, I was SOOOOO glad I wasn't pregnant anymore.
17. I gave my oldest daughter my middle name (Gwen)
18. My younger daughter's middle name is for my parents (Rayann = RAY + Carol ANN)
19. I truly believe I met my Father In Law in one very vivid dream right before my Mother In Law passed away.
20. I worry about my parents - But still think my Dad is the smartest guy I know
21. I want to lose 20 pounds
22. I hate to paint walls, but like to paint furniture
23. The word 'Warshing" (Pittsburgh-ese for washing) goes right through me.
24. I think that I can sing 'Mercedes Benz' very well. This has never been confirmed.
25. I don't like to go into the ocean.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

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My Craptacular Maronda Home

If you read my previous post, you saw that I had some frozen pipes in this sub-zero Pittsburgh weather. Which leads me to discuss my house.

We bought our house from Maronda Builders a little over five years ago. We bought it for a number of reasons. We had just had a baby, and our current home's location wasn't exactly perfect for raising children. The plan that we looked at was in the general location of where we 'always wanted to live.' We bought our first house at a decent price, and knew we'd be able to make some money from it. So, we signed the papers. Now, the builder was definitely NOT the reason that we decided to purchase our home. We knew of problems with Maronda, but we liked the floorplan, it had a fantastic yard, and we could afford it.

We checked on the house's progress every weekend. Luckily, there was a person who just got a promotion - and he was in charge of the activities in our plan. Our home was the first that was 'his.' So he did pay attention to a bit of detail. Honestly, we haven't had any MAJOR problems. They DID forget to install one of our central cold air returns. When you would come up the basement stairs, it was just a huge wind tunnel. Now, for the pipes: Our pipe going to the kitchen sink did freeze one other time. I guess the problem is that this particular pipe must go through the garage a bit, and on the outer wall. Last time, my Brother In Law came over with a little torpedo heater, ran it in the garage, and all was good. This time, the sun helped. Plus, I ran the washer and dryer (I now have lots of clean clothes) and they eventually started running.

No wall or ceiling in my home is exactly straight. My neighbors have had worse problems. Very leaky roofs (because they didn't seal around the flashing correctly). Extremely squeaky floors. I have one neighbor who, after their yard was graded, ended up with a complete swamp. The light switch in my upstairs bathroom is backwards (the first switch should be the light - but it's the fan), my master bathroom sink had a leak from day one.

Even though there are all of these problems, I love my house. I love the size, the layout. I love the location. I love our yard. I wish I had more money to spend on it. I'd love hard wood floors, granite countertops and nothing bought at Ikea or Target. But I DO love it. And I truly love my neighborhood. There are about 74 homes in our neighborhood - it consists of four streets. Some of our best friends live here. And they were our best friends BEFORE we moved in. I'm so glad they followed! In fact, when we signed the papers to purchase our home, my husband called our very good friends and left a message on their machine. It was the classic song from Mr. Rogers, "Won't you be my neighbor?" We moved to the neighborhood in November, and they joined us in February. Our other friends lived in a townhouse for a few years, but were always looking to buy. They looked at private builders, land, and other communities. But I am SO happy that they ended up here in our neighborhood. They just had twins (this week!), and it will be great to watch them grow up.

So, I'm all about the silver lining when it comes to my house. And when I really think about it, I now live in one of those houses that I wanted when I was little. I remember passing homes in plans and thinking 'I wonder what it would be like to live there.' Well, now I know. It rocks.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

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I <3 you, Pittsburgh

Well, here I am in Pittsburgh, dealing with less-than-zero degrees.  It hasn't been this cold in fifteen years.  Yuck.  I absolutely love, love, love Pittsburgh.  There's something here that's cozy and familiar.  The people here are (generally) awesome.  There are great hearts, fantastic senses of humor and a sense of commitment.  When I visit my folks in Florida, it just  I think it's the lack of hills.  The hills give me comfort, a sense of coziness.  It's like being in a bed with lots of pillows and a fluffy comforter.  Florida is flat.  Just flat.

Pittsburgh has character.  It has history.  Now, I'm no history buff (that's my sister in law's department), but it's nice to see things that have lasted for hundreds of years.  Now I live in a newly constructed home (with a frozen pipe - but that's another story).  But I appreciate the beauty of an older home.  The carved staircases, the classic hard wood floors. 

And the people.  They just rock.  After working at the airport for seven years, I've spoken to many people who were just visiting Pittsburgh for the first time.  And the majority of them commented on the people.  Really.  Now don't get me wrong, every city has its share of @ssholes.  But the visitors that I spoke with were surprised that when driving, people were courteous.  Pittsburghers are more than willing to give you directions (even if this city is one of the most difficult to navigate for visitors!).  And we're committed.  The Pirates have sucked eggs for a very long time.  But there are still SOME dedicated fans.  As for the fans that have given up?  It took them a very long time to dish out that tough love.

If I could pick up Pittsburgh and move it somewhere just a BIT warmer, I would.  Then it would be perfect.  Now yes, we have some issues with local government.  But I could only imagine that every city has issues with local government.  But the one flaw that sticks out for me is this darn weather.  Damn this weather.  

Oh well, I guess nobody's perfect.  And no city is perfect, either.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

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The Medicine Nazi

Well, if you haven't heard already, both of the girls have strep throat. Becca has made it through, but Chloe is still in the middle of everything. After two days straight of going to the pediatrician, I'm dishing out little cups of medicine like a drill sergeant. And it ain't easy. My kids don't enjoy taking ANY kind of medicine. It's definitely a bout of psychological warfare that I will not lose. The Motrin isn't really very difficult to get down their little throats. Seems that it has the least medicine-y flavor, and a small amount of coercion is needed.

Now, Becca had strep so bad that she had a rash all over her body. So, she needed Benedryl. That was a bit more difficult to keep up with. With the first dose, I talked up the flavor. Mmmmm, bubblegum. Yeah, that only works for the first dose.

How about the amoxicillin (sp?). That is definitely more difficult. The kids recognize that pink bottle in the fridge. They've been there, done that. They know it tases awful, and I have to agree with them. Today we even got some watermelon flavoring added. Yeah, that didn't really help. That's when I pull the threats out. No, you can't watch anything on tv until you take your medicine. Chocolate? Sorry. Eat this Hershey Kiss AFTER you take the medicine, to get the taste out of your mouth. I really hate being mean about it, but they always lose. They have to.

This is our first dance with strep throat. It wasn't pretty. I caught it earlier with Chloe, so it wasn't quite as bad with her. And now, as the lay sleeping and I sit in a clean (well, clean-ish) house, I I next? Taking care of sick kids is one thing. Yes, it's tiring. But it just feels so motherly. The love just pours out of me, and I want to cuddle with them constantly. Taking care of kids when YOU'RE the one who's sick. Awful. Terrible. Ugh.

So, I'm determined to stay healthy. I'm keeping that thought in my head. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, January 12, 2009

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Awesome Video!

I'm not sure where exactly this video came from. My friend Nikki sent it to me, and I absolutely love it. I have no idea who the woman singing is. I went to the website listed in the corner, but couldn't find anything. If anybody knows who I should give credit to, please let me know!!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

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I Was Craving Some Brain Candy!

Well, I feel a little better now. Last night (after falling asleep with Becca in her room) I watched a new episode of 30 Rock that got DVR-ed (OK, I'm not sure if that's a word, but I'm going with it). It's been a few weeks since I watched some new television. I'm surprised how much I missed the little escape it brings me from the millions of thoughts bouncing around in my head.

I really don't watch too much tv. I'll watch True Blood when it comes back (I think in the Summer). I watch How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory on Monday nights and The Office and 30 Rock on Thursdays. If I happen to watch live, I'll get up and clean while the commercials are on. And I'm usually doing something on the laptop at the same time.

On to other things, Becca is going to a little cheer leading camp tomorrow. It's a fundraiser for the High School cheerleaders. They take kids K-5 (K and First in the A.M. and 2-5 in the afternoon) teach them a cheer and give them a t shirt. Then they get to perform their cheer all together at a basketball game this week. For $30, I thought she would have some fun. I'm interested to see how it all goes.

Oh, and to get back to some boring, serious, political stuff...I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that a judge told Dan Onorato that he couldn't use the money from the drink tax for anything other than mass transit. Finally, Score one for the restaurant owners! Of course, he's going to be a big ol' weenie about lowering it down below 7%. Which irks me. He just can't seem to be a big enough person to just admit that he screwed up and fix it. In fact, if he did just admit to his screw up and fix it, he may win back some votes later on down the road. But because of his pride (or male ego, or stubbornness...whatever) he won't. So now his budget is screwed, and it looks something like this:


Well, enjoy the snow that they're calling for this weekend! If you live in Pittsburgh, I'm sure you already made your mad dash for your milk and bread 'cuz you'll be stuck in your house for a whole whopping 24 hours.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

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Sometimes, I'm not a bitch

I received an email from an old friend today. We had recently found each other on Facebook, and hadn't really talked in at least ten years. This was somebody I used to work with when I was a bartender and she was just an awesome person (and I'm sure she still is!). Super sweet and hard working. So, here's what she sent. I had completely forgotten.


I was experiencing the hardest time of my life in the year of 1995. The reason behind this tough time was the separation and divorce I was going through. I had gotten to the point where I was pretty much past the emotional roller coaster of my feelings of ups and downs. I was told over and over by numerous bill collectors that, while they were sorry about my situation, they still needed their money. After questioning whether or not my husband could be at least partially responsible for the bills he'd helped incur, I was told that he couldn’t be held accountable because he lived in the next state! He was only two hours away! I have to say that the thought crossed my mind about moving over that state line! Is that all it took?! What a simple solution to get out of paying your bills! I, however, didn’t want this hanging over my head. I wanted to be done with my past, not hide or run from it.
One of my bill collectors eventually got tired of my meager payment plan and ended up taking me to court for the account to be paid in full. He ended up winning. The amount that was due was way past what I could afford all at once, in addition to the rest of the bills that I was attempting to keep up with, as well as, catch up on. I would work as many double shifts as I could, but I couldn’t seem to get caught up. I still seemed unable to get over this “hump." This one bill really put me behind more than I already was. I began to wonder once again if I could make it on my own, financially.
One night my friend, Heather, and I got together for a “girls night” at her house. We were eating Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream, right out the container, going through old pictures, scrapbooks, looking at remnants of her past.
She then pulled out a dull gold ring with a light green stone from one of her many drawers full of memories. She held it up, turned to me and said, “This is my strength ring”. Thinking she was either very tired or getting philosophical on me, I looked at the ring. It didn’t seem very “strong” to me. It was plain, in fact, not very pretty at all. Th e stone didn’t even shine anymore.
She went on to tell me the story of how she had had the ring for a long time and once in a particularly bad time in her life, she found it after it had been forgotten about, and began to wear it again. Whenever she would get sad or depressed or wonder about decisions she had made, she would look at her ring and find the strength to get over what she was feeling.
She looked at me and said, “ I know you’re going through a rough time right now in your life, so I’m going to loan you my strength ring”. She handed me the little green ring with the directions on how to use it. “Whenever you are sad, lonely or depressed and start to wonder about your decisions, look at the ring, understand that I love you and that you have so many friends that care about you. Feel confident about your decisions, past or present. You made, and continue to make them confidently and after thinking them through, so don’t look back-move ahead”.
Her final thought on the ring was, “When you are strong enough, and no longer doubt yourself, you’ll know. You won’t need the ring anymore. Only then give it back. Until then-it’s yours. No matter how long it takes”.
The plain little ring fit perfectly on my finger. I was touched by her heartfelt words, but still very skeptical on its powers to solve my problems and help me feel better.
I soon found out I was wrong about that! My little “ring of friendship” seemed to almost have a power, or hold, of its own. When I would begin to feel down, like the world was closing in on me, I would always feel compelled, or drawn, to look at the ring and feel its strength.
After some time, I began to realize that this wasn’t a talisman with magical or problem solving powers. The “strength” that it held was that of friendship and also of my “inner strength” that I always had, but sometimes forgot about.
One night at work Heather and another friend of ours, Eileen, invited me out to a late night restaurant for something to eat after our shift. She said a lot of our friends were going to go and that I should come too. It sounded like fun, so I decided to join them.
After we had placed our orders, which consisted of salads and ice cream, Eileen handed me a card and said, “This is from all of us to let you know that we love you and are proud of all you’ve done for yourself and we’re proud of the confident person you’ve become”.
I was touched, along with being a little bit surprised and embarrassed because all of my friends were around the table looking at me, smiling! My other “ring of friendship”.
On the outside of the card it said, “Hang in there”! Then on the inside, along with the words, “You are loved”, was a collection of money that they had gathered from 53 of my friends. The total was over $600.00. What it meant to me was worth more than any amount of money.
I was so overwhelmed by how many people cared about what happened to me and at what good friends I had.
I managed to get over my mountain of bills with a lot of work and help from my friends! June was my hardest month. I told myself all through the month, if I can just get through June, I can get through anything!
On the last day of the month, I was celebrating within myself, for myself. I knew I’d be fine and felt better than ever. I was confident with everything, including who I was and also who I had become. I knew that I’d encounter occasional rough spots down the road in life, but I felt powerful to face the challenges and ready to overcome the obstacles.
I walked over to Heather at the end of our shift, looked at her and said, over the lump in my throat, as I pulled off my “strength” ring ( which I now saw in a whole new light!), “thank you for everything, I‘m ready to give you your ring back now”. And I was.

I have to say, reading this made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I tend to focus on what I'm doing wrong (or have done wrong) instead of what I've done right. So, receiving this story today brought everything full circle...It's exactly what I needed. In order to simply be more positive and productive in my life, I'm going to focus on the GOOD instead of the BAD in my everyday life. Which may make for a boring blog...we'll see!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

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The Tooth Fairy Cometh

Tooth Fairy - greeting card card
Well, Becca has been playing with her 'wiggly' tooth for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday, it REALLY was wiggly. I asked if she wanted my help, and she said that she did. I held the tooth and told her to move her head as much as she wanted to. She moved her head a bit, felt the pain, tasted the blood, and decided that it was better for nature to just take its course. Today, however, after pushing it around with her tongue all day, she got brave. She went right into the powder room, and after a few minutes of hesitation just ripped the darn thing right out. She was very surprised at how small it was.

So, I got to be the tooth fairy tonight. I wasn't quite sure what the going rate for the first tooth was, so i figured five bucks would be OK. She'd better not expect five bucks every time, though. So, here's Becca (and her trusty side kick Chloe) talking about her tooth.

In other news, I have been a total slacker parent over this Christmas Vacation. I haven't made Becca keep up on her extra reading work very much. And I haven't been writing my good ol' trusty to-do lists. So, I end up dong whatever I feel like doing, and not being very productive. I've decided that I get to slack for one more day (Sunday), and then it's back with the nose to the grindstone. Speaking of that, I better quit blabbering here. Gotta go finish getting my designs up over at Zazzle. Have a great night!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

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Disclosure Policy

This policy is valid from 13 March 2009

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owners. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

The owner(s) of this blog would like to disclose the following existing relationships. These are companies, organizations or individuals that may have a significant impact on the content of this blog. We are employed by or consult with: Downey's House.

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Happy New Year to All!

Well, 2008 was pretty good to us. I mean, life got extra crazy and there was a huge amount of uncertainty (there still is!), but it was a huge adrenaline rush. It was life changing. It was emotional. Although I love these huge events and thrive on change, I'm hoping that we can just continue to adjust to these changes in 2009. We're sort of on a schedule where we have some life changing event about every 5 years. I think that's about all we can handle. It went something like this: First house and our wedding in 1999. Second house and life with kids started in 2003. Restaurant in 2008. Let's just coast through until about 2011 or 2012.

The daily happenings of my life continue to amaze me. I never in a million years could have imagined how my life would be. Here's how my day has gone so far. We all woke up on the couch, because we fell asleep waiting for the whole ball drop thing. There was coffee, breakfast (for the kids - still none for me yet) and I did the paperwork from the restaurant last night. (It was a great night at Downey's House, btw. The wedding was great and we were super busy). Then started more motherly duties. Chloe wanted to play with her 'Cupcake Maker' that she got for Christmas. There's a story behind this thing. She had been saying that she wanted it for Christmas since October. When I went to buy it, it was located next to the Easy Bake Ovens. I would have much rather bought an Easy Bake Oven over this thing. I knew it would be a bust, but it was the ONE THING that she was consistently asking for. So, I plunked down my 25 bucks, and here's what I got:

So, I pull out this crazy thing, mix up the mix, nuke the cupcake (yeah, you're supposed to), shove the icing in the tube, and they put the machine into motion. I cut it in half for them to share (Yes, you can only make one at a time), and they each took a bite. Then they said 'Ewwwww,' and I threw the rest in the garbage and cleaned up the mess.

Then they moved onto the next project. The 'Le Cafe' that they got last year.

They got this last year from my parents (on my recommendation), and they do enjoy it. I don't really mind it so much, either. It's quite large when you assemble it, but it does break down pretty easily, and I can store it under the couch. It is, however, much easier to assemble with TWO adults. I can do it on my own, but thank God there's no hidden camera in my house (that I know of, anyway). The whole process of getting the 'covering' over the sticks of the structure involves me being inside of this floppy thing with the roof resting on my head as I try to stretch it over the frame. I come out with crooked glasses (no contacts in yet) and a big ol' static head.

So, I've told them that they got their two projects done, and now it's time for Mom to work on hers. A day in the life.....and we've only been awake for about four hours. Heading over to the SIL's today for traditional pork and sour kraut. DH is working at the restaurant tonight, and I see the return of 'normal life' on the horizon. Have a great, great New Years!!!