Meet The Nat Pack!

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The Nat Pack: The super fashionable, super mod, super hip family consisting of Nat, Pete, Jakob, Brock, Troy, and Ivy. Like The Rat Pack, only younger, cuter, and not as rich or famous.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brave New World

I'm the kind of person that likes to start a project, and finish the project, without having other projects that are half completed.

My current life? So not like that right now. And it drives me crazy. I have a bunch of half-way, kind of started, PROJECT projects laying about. Like, big humongous, can't tackle in one sitting kind of projects.

For instance, I've started in on my genealogy. That's not just a one hour, or one day, or one week project. It's actually kind of an ongoing thing.

Or painting. Sure, I got Ivy's room done, but I have a huge 5-gallon thing of paint, sitting in my kitchen, just waiting. Waiting for me to clean walls and fix dings and move furniture and cover up carpet in my downstairs family room, and get kids out from under my feet so I can paint the dang white walls a beautiful blue already.

Scrapbooking. Neverending. About, oh, two plus years behind on that now.

Anyway, because I'm crazy, or JUST NOT BUSY ENOUGH, I've taken up a new "hobby", if you will.


Week after week, I'd go grocery shopping. And week after week, I'd get more and more frustrated at the prices of the items that I'd be buying, and my grand total.

I had heard the whole schpeal before: get coupons, hit the sales, yadda yadda. But I had never put forth the effort. Then my cousin and his wife came up not too long ago, and my cousin starts bragging to my dad about his wife's mad shopping skills, how she can literally come home from the grocery store with a car full of groceries, having not spent a single dime. And I got all jealous, and motivated, and thinking, maybe I can do that too.

So I started. And it sucks.

Don't get me wrong. It's good. And I'm still very motivated. But that first Sunday, when I sat down with 5 newspapers, attempting to separate ads and coupons and all that, it took me hours upon hours to get through it all. That was two weeks ago. Last week was better. It didn't take me as long, and I actually found some things that I knew were a good price, and was able to actually match up a coupon with a sale. (Yes, singular. But hey, I'm still just starting out.)

I figure if I can save even $25 a week on groceries, that's $100 a month. That's my starting goal. The first week, I spent just as much on groceries, but I got a ton of frozen chicken (it would normally have cost me $60 to get the amount of chicken that I spent $28 on). Last week I spent about $20 less than I normally would have. And this last shopping trip, I spent $103 but saved $100. YAY! I also got hot dogs, which normally I'd spend $1 on a package, but each package was 38 cents instead. So, thus far, I'm shooting about 50% off on 50% of my grocery needs. That's not too bad. Not too good, either, but I'm just starting out.

I've realized that this new "project"/way of life is going to be slow going. That I'm sure I'll get frustrated. And, I hate shopping, and making several stops. I know that there will be a big learning curve. But, I love saving money. I love that I feel smarter with my money. I know that there are a lot of ladies out there that know the system, and can help me out. I know I'll get better at it. And even if I can't hit $0, at least I'll be spending less than what I was.

Coupon world, here I come!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Graduate, Take 2

Well, it's official!

Brock is done with preschool! It was just barely nice enough that we had the "ceremonies" outside in his teacher's backyard.

Brock has had a blast this year. His teacher, Miss Karla, is super awesome. I think about how I was (*ahem* absolutely batty) with Troy's preschool group (6 kids, twice a week, only 6ish times the whole year), and I am in awe of Karla doing two groups of 12 all year long. They learned the pledge and a whole bunch of songs. She taught the kids a lot of sign language signs.

They also did a play not too long ago: The Three Billygoats Gruff, and Brock was the Troll. SOOO cute.

Brock has grown so much this last year! He knows some of his letters, can color and draw really well, and I guess is quite the puzzle guru. He can even write his name! Kind of! (Well, if his name is "Byonx", then he's got it down perfect. That's another thing we'll be working on this summer.)

They did field trips, and Zoophonics, and tons of crafts. I love Miss Karla, as do my kids. I am really excited to have Troy go to her preschool in the fall.

Good job, Brock!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Lou is Two!

Ivy's 2nd birthday was last week. And, officially, my baby is no longer a baby. *sniff*

My sister and her family and my parents all came over for the festivities. We had dinner (yummy Monte Cristo sandwiches), and then Ivy opened her gifts. She had snuck outside for a little bit, and didn't want to come back in. So I picked her up, and she started crying. As soon as she saw the presents out for her, though, she immediately stopped the tears and started squealing happy squeals. A lot of happy squeals.

She got two babies (one that goes potty), Snow White the movie, sunglasses, a fairy costume, a baby stroller, and some clothes. My boys absolutely hate getting clothes. But my girly girl squealed at every item, and took it around to every person in the room to show them, in case they had missed her very cute new outfit.

We brought the cake out to her with the candles lit. We sang to her, then tried to tell her to blow out the candles. And she reached out and grabbed one instead, putting it out with her fingers. I don't think it burned her; she just seemed surprised is all.

For all the testosterone we have in our house, Ivy balances it out with all her estrogen. She is a GIRLY GIRL, all the way. (Although she can say "zombies" and laughs at her own burps.) She's talking more and more, which I love. She's very into shoes and babies. Ivy knows when she has a "stee buh" (stinky bum). (But...ugh, I'm just not quite ready to take the leap. Getting there, but not quite ready. Diapers have been a constant in my life for almost 7 years.) Ivy loves to color, just like her brothers. She also loves to pretend to read. Ivy sucks on the fringe of her fleece blanket, just like Brock did. She checks for gunk in between her toes, just like all her brothers did at that age. (Is that just my kids?) She tries to be the boss of her brothers, and half the time succeeds in getting her way with them. Ivy sleeps with her bum in the air, loves fruit snacks, and has her dad wrapped around her little finger. Ivy is independent-she wants to give herself a bath, like her brothers do. She loves cleaning things-give her a rag, and she'll have whatever surface spotless in no time. She's a sweet sweet thing, and I'm so glad she's mine.

And I pray that the sweetness stays, and that the Terrible Twos avoid our house.

A slide show:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Before and After

My kitchen before:

Monday morning. This is what happens when I neglect my dishes all weekend, because of painting, and attempting feebly to eek out a relaxing Mother's Day for myself. Needless to say, if I'm not the one doing it, it doesn't get done.

My kitchen after:

Monday afternoon. Ooooh, sparkly!

Curtains before:

I've loved having these curtains where they've been for the last 4 1/2 years. But, it was time for a change, and ever since I got blinds for my front bay window, um, windows, I had been wanting blinds on the back.

Curtains after:

And now, I moved the curtains against the sliding glass door. It opens up that area so much! Now I get to fix all the holes in the wall, but at least I have the stuff out because I'll have to fix holes in the walls downstairs when I go to paint there in the near future.

Little boys' hair before:

Brock's hair grows into a ducktail in the back-it kind of goes sideways towards his neck. And Troy's grows very flat. He looks like Julius Caesar.

Boys' hair after:

Nice and buzzed! What handsome little fake smilers.

Ivy's room before:

Winnie the Pooh themed. Which I loved having for my babies. I made a couple of cross stitches, I got some Winnie the Pooh gifts, and because we were super extra poor when we had Jakob and Brock, I got a coloring book, and colored some pictures and put them on paper. When we moved here (when Brock was still little), I painted two walls solid green, and two walls green, but spongy. And I loved it. But again, time for a change.

Ivy's room after:

VERY purple. Pete calls it lavender. It matches the purple on Ivy's princess bedspread. I don't have anything on the walls yet. I was going to do a stencil of pink butterflies and flowers, but the paint bled underneath the stencil, and it got all smeary. So I'm thinking I'll go vinyl or something. Or get some princess posters. We'll have to see.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Gay" Aerobics and Other Random Life Events

Random 1:
Yesterday I:
-washed 6 loads of laundry and folded 9 loads
-unmade, then made 4 twin beds and a king bed
-patched a hole on my jacket, and darned some socks
-went to part of mutual
-vacuumed my whole house
-loaded and unloaded my dishwasher, twice
-did a little sudoku
-took out two huge bags of garbage
-cleaned up two dead mice in my garage
-along with the usual (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dirty diapers, fixing hair, fixing lunches, helping with homework, etc.)

I just wanted to document how I pretty much rocked yesterday, so I know that I actually can have the energy and time to get a whole lot done.

However, I did not exercise, because my back was killing me. I think from making the beds. Oh, and from P90X.

Random 2:
One day, Pete came home from work and said, "We should start doing some gay aerobics", and did a little disco-esque move. And I thought, Richard Simmons? But he meant just some sort of aerobic exercise. So we got a copy of P90X, and have been working out ever since. It's a lot of yoga, with some weights, and a whole lot of push ups. Each day of the week is a different workout, and it gets jumbled up after three weeks. I could barely do parts of the ab ripper one, we only did about half of the 90-minute yoga night, and my "weights" for the arm day were little tomato sauce cans. (Hey, when you haven't worked out in who knows how long, you gotta start out slow.) And even though my back was killing me last night, it's been good. It's only been a week, and I feel like I'm sleeping better, and I have a bit more energy, which is probably why I could do so much yesterday (though today, not so much).

Random 3:
The other day I decided that I need to take more pictures of my kids. The spur of the moment ones are the ones that seem to really capture my kids' personalities.

I love this picture of Brock and Jakob. My kids were all taking turns telling "secrets" (mostly just whispered nonsense words) at dinnertime, into each other's ears, and into mine.

I also love this picture of Ivy and Troy. Taken the same "secrets" night. Blue eye heaven.

Random 4:
I'm getting the urge to paint rooms again. I don't know why I get motivated to do inside improvements when I should be feeling the need to work on outside stuff. Though it's still been too nasty and cold and freaking windy to do anything outside, anyway, so maybe it's just fine that I want to do inside stuff.

Anyway, I'm hoping to paint Ivy's room, this weekend. Stay tuned for that! (And I promise I'll be faster at posting. I've been sucking it up lately.)

I also want to paint my downstairs family room, though that's going to be quite the undertaking. I'm hoping for maybe next weekend...ish. (Hey, if anyone out there reading this likes to paint, and you aren't a crazy stalker, feel free to come help me.) And other future projects: making new bedspreads for my three boys, and painting their rooms, too.

Random 5:
I checked out community classes for learning guitar. Turns out they don't teach beginner guitar in the summer. Grrr. So hopefully this fall...

Random 6:
Just spent oodles of money on our minivan on Monday. One of the break pads was totally worn away. And we needed new tires. I really hate spending money on things like that, even though it's inevitable.

Random 7:
I'm starting Brock and Troy on chores-cleaning up toys (which they already do) and helping me dust and windex. They were REALLY gung-ho about it. And Important Kid #2 (Ivy) had to help as well. She cried and cried until she got a rag, and absolutely fell apart when we were all done dusting. Yesterday she was pointing and kept saying "bill! bill!", and I thought she was looking at something outside. Finally she got down from the chair, pulled out a washcloth from the drawer, went back to the table, and starting wiping up the spill that was there that I hadn't seen. Such a little cleaner. Are all girls like that? Because my boys sure as heck wouldn't have cleaned up a spill-they would have spread it around and made the mess bigger.

Random 8:
Memo is getting declawed tomorrow morning. The stinking cat sunk her claws into our new couch. She'll probably hate us for a while, but I'd rather have that than clawed up furniture. (We've tried the claw stand thingies. She doesn't care about those a smidge.)

Well, I'm off to do some more "gay" aerobics with my hubby. I think it's legs and back tonight. Hoo, boy.