Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day o' Deals

I have been so excited for Arizona's garage sale season. That's an understatement. I have been exceedingly, oozingly, irrepressibly ecstatic. I've even been curbing some normal expenditures lately in order to better justify the spending, I mean SAVING spree than will ensue.

Today I voluntarily and quite cheerfully arose at quarter to six to begin this thrilling season of madness. (Okay, Charlie woke us up and I still laid in bed for a while, but without the typical crankiness or denial, so still impressive.)

This morning's sales were not everything I hoped them to be, but I am just warming up here, and I had Kyle and the kids in tow to slow me down (the kids, physically; Kyle, financially). Still, I have great hope for the coming Saturdays, and we still managed to score a few sweet deals, like Kyle's brand new, leather Samsonite portfolio bag (which he has been needing and on which he was previously thinking of blowing $40) for $5. Also an area rug for $1, assorted cute clothes, shoes, books, and puzzles for me and the kids for cheap cheap.

Not without emotional difficulty on my side, we wrapped up the morning's scavenging to take Erik to gymnastics class, and may I just say that I was beaming with pride at his performance today. He is, by leaps and bounds, the quietest, lowest energy kid in the class, and with the slowest reaction time, but I think the teacher appreciates having just one of the calm, "obedient" type. It was with some hesitation, but he participated in ALL of the activities today. I wish I could bottle up what both he and I were feeling in the moment that he'd just walked the entire balance beam (with only a little assistance). I saw all twenty teeth in the smile he flashed me, and I was so incredibly proud and thrilled to see him feel that way. For a reserved, introverted, easily-intimidated kid like Erik, these are not small accomplishments in the building of his confidence. As I cheered silently throughout class, exchanging enthusiastic thumbs-ups with him across the gym, I had an impression that "this is the best of experience." This feeling is what motherhood is about. It's what life is about. Erik and I are as opposite in disposition as humans come, and we're learning to make quite a swell team.

After class, we picked up Ellie and Charlie and found our way to Imagination Avenue, a mini play land that was basically as cool to the kids as Disneyland. It was an activity sponsored by the Thunderbird Wives and Children Club, so we all got in free (thanks, Kyle's tuition!). Plus, Ellie established a friendship with a little girl who shares her affinity for puffy skirts and ponies, so I quickly exchanged contact info with the girl's mom.

Tonight I am transforming back into a party-planning fiend, with deluxe soirees in the works in honor of Ellie's b-day, Erik's potty training graduation, and penny-pinching (for all the student wives in the area). But first, I made a [not so] quick run to CVS pharmacy to pick up just a little bit of this and a little bit of that...

...for a grand total of $3.54, including 10% sales tax. (!!!) This was admittedly my very best stash of steals to come from CVS shopping, and it felt very good. It was the cherry on top of my delightful day of deals. (Not that I eat sundaes topped with cherries anymore.)

Speaking of the health-freak diet, I want to pleasantly report that eating super healthy was very hard at first, but it has gotten easier already, and I can tell the whole family's taste buds and/or bodies (minus Kyle's) are adjusting in an encouraging way. For example, I made a very broccoli-heavy dish a couple weeks ago, about which even sweet garbage disposal Ellie gently shared, "It's not my favorite, Mom, but thanks for making it." She almost always says things like, "Mmmm, this is the most delicious dinner you have ever made!" or "This is my favorite food!" even when it's a salad. She doesn't really mean it, of course, but she likes the praise that follows her positivity, and she does finish all her dinner every night, so no complaints here. Anyway, Ellie didn't like the broccoli, even after I added cheese, and Bob even threw most of his in the trash. Tossing food is not only the first of the Goodwin family cardinal sins, but it was also pretty insulting. I froze the leftovers with little intention of serving them again, but I couldn't bear to toss them myself.

Well, tonight I thawed and served them again, with more marinara sauce, and ERIK licked his plate and asked for seconds. ERIK J. LARSEN! And then the kids raved about the nutty-seedy-power bars I made in lieu of dessert, calling them cookies of their own free will. I've been weaning us off of sweets, and though yogurt was especially difficult, there hasn't been the gnashing of teeth and throwing of tantrums I expected. The kids' requests for cheese and highly processed foods tapered out without great effort on my part. The greatest evidence has been in our smoothies, though. I've been using less and less juice and fruit, and more and more spinach and greens, and they're still getting slurped dry, so we are definitely on the path to victory.

I still plan to write my story on this sudden lifestyle shift, as I'd like to document my progress for my own sake. If there's any interest in recipe reviews, let me know and I can include those as I go along, as well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fossils, fabric, and all manner of foolishness

-Last week our free culture pass took us to Mesa to visit the Arizona Museum of Natural History (ding!) where we met up with Auntie Noe and the adorable baby Makakoa, who is so cute I want to explode so how did I neglect to photograph him? I will do better next time. Well, this triceratops made the cut, at least.

Animatronix in a museum? It felt like Disneyland. This museum got two ecstatic thumbs up from all the kids, and therefore also from me.

Char was all slobbery kisses with the stuffed stegosaurus. He is most affectionate with stuffies, perhaps as they share his affinity for snuggling.

Panning for fool's gold flakes was almost as much fun as just pouring sand and water all over each other.

The highlight of the exhibit on color and light was experimenting with the green screen effect. We just had to put on a few magic shows.

-Zina had a birthday, and so a birthday piggy bank. But how boring a gift is that? It needed fancifying. (Or have we been reading too much Fancy Nancy in preparation for Ellie's party?)

Yeah, these really are the best shots I got at Zina's party. You can't even see the cute homemade tutus Becca cranked out.

I love me a cupcake tower. I had to photograph the Z topper because it's the ONLY part of the party Becca let me take over. Seriously, I didn't even help her at all. And, strangely enough, I'm okay with that. I think my party obsession is shifting toward freakishly healthy eating (the theory, not practice). Ellie's birthday's in two weeks and I haven't planned or made a thing. Weird.

-In the meantime, as you can see, Ellie is making the most of her new found literacy. Yesterday we started an incentive program in which I will pay her (in Littlest Pet Shop toys) to read books. Not so much because I'm desperate to have her reading Harry Potter by kindergarten, but because Erik's been getting lots of praise and prizes for his potty training regiment and Ellie was thrilled to see her own share of praise and prizes. And yes, potty training is going quite well. Not without accident or incident, but leaps and bounds more successful than this premature attempt.

-Erik started gymnastics class, which was cool except he chose not to participate in a little more than half of the exercises. And the teacher is a little particular about technique, which makes me wonder why she's teaching the toddler class...

-If you're wondering what Charlie's favorite thing is to do in the whole wide world (besides snuggling), take a looksie here. You better watch your chair if you get up to refill your glass or answer the phone. He's taken some tips from his buddy Brooks and has made the kitchen table his locale of choice at pretty much every opportunity. And though we push our chairs against the walls when we're not in them, that still gives him about 592 opportunities each day to boogie on up to the table and do his thang. I think we'll go Japanese.

Don't fall for the charms. He's a hooligan, through and through.

-I dusted off the old Singer and produced these pops of color (except the front orange one, which came from IKEA's clearance section long before it became useful to our color scheme) for our netural/blah living room. I have a huge girl crush on the fabric's designer, Anna Maria Horner.

And what a bonus that they double as costume props!

-And now I'll just top things off with a little recreational biking lesson from Uncle Bob. One of the great improvements of our living arrangement here is that we see a lot more of Uncle Bob. True, he was always living with us, but when the basement was his private lair, I'd go days without seeing him, except as he surfaced in the kitchen to quickly rummage for grub. Bob surely yearns for privacy, but the kids do love having him around for a playmate, and I'm grateful for that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When Ellie found out we were moving to Arizona instead of California, she was bitterly disappointed (to not be near my parents and not be going to kindergarten). She was inconsolable right up until we reminded her that in Arizona she'd get to help take care of Noelani and Mark's new baby, Makakoa. It was love at first sight. (Kjerstin was awesome enough to be visiting us at the time of the baby blessing, which was great because no one in the planet appreciates a good newborn snuggle like her.)

After knowing Becca for all of three days or so, I called to set up a play date and she invited us to her son's birthday party instead. Did you say birthday party? I nosey-ed my way into her plans (for the following morning) and decided to bring my pirate fabric to decorate, as well as make a flag and brownies. She was very appreciate, but the party was terribly cute and perfect even without my interference.

A couple pirates forgot to reapply their sunscreen at midday.

Becca was such a good sport to let me in on the party goodness. Also, I am liking this girl a lot. Bosom friend-quality.

Just in case you questioned my sincerity about the plant food diet comment, take a looksey here at my winnings from the local pseudo farmer's market.

This is one week's worth.

And just in case you weren't convinced that that's a lot of produce, here's another angle.

What else in going on in these parts? Well, Char still can't pass up a good nuk.

Ellie still wants to be a missionary. (That's her testifying arm, not a pitchfork. Under the other arm is her Book of Mormon.) (And yes, she's completely recovered from the UTI that, masquerading as meningitis, sent her to the ER on my birthday.)

I bought a curling iron-- the first hair tool of my life-- and wish my hair wore curl as well as Elle's. Blondes.

Here's evidence of another birthday party interference, though minimal (see, I have self control!).

Ants have officially invaded every edible corner of my household. I now heartily feel Christie's pain. (Actually her blog's private, but this post is far too good to miss, so I pasted it at the bottom of my post-- hope you don't mind, C.)

Yes, they're coming in and out of the light socket. Thankfully, dousing the socket with Raid did not electrocute me.

Charlie's still living the good life, because what could be better than nudity, bananas, or cheesing it for the camera?

Why, all three at the same time, of course!

Uh-oh. Ba[nana] a[ll] go[ne].

(I just noticed my other kids weren't wearing pants, either. Um, that's how good moms in Arizona dress their kids.)

In unphotographed news, Ellie is reading! I tried putting Asian mom pressure on her to read for months, knowing that she was fully capable, but that method failed me. So I ignored it, and then she just picked up a book today and read it. Granted, it was Hop on Pop so she may have it all memorized, but it is still a day to be celebrated. I remember when I read Green Eggs & Ham for the first time and I soaked up all the praise (knowing full well it was really a recitation).

Also, since Kyle rarely posts and when he does, it's nothing relevant to life, I'll just say in his behalf that Thunderbird is treating him well. He's learning lots, meeting great peeps, and soaking it all in with wonder and bliss. (Plus today I granted him permission to buy a used ipod for student productivity purposes, but only because he'd been pestering me to buy a new one for weeks!) We still have to sometimes pinch ourselves-- we feel immensely fortunate to be living out Kyle's dream.

In conclusion, life is full and leaves very little to be desired. We are happy as clams in a big, steaming pot of animal product-free chowder.

Here's my sister's post, as promised:

Pixar lied to me

They told me that ants were the underdog. Bipedal little creatures that just wanted to feed their families and be safe from sadistic grasshoppers. Friend to potato bugs and German-speaking caterpillars and foe to none.

I feel betrayed.

Ants are ruining my life, followed by Tori Amos and Japanese 211.

Sure, at my request I did receive two ant farms for Christmas... but that was to fulfill my nerdy ambition of being farmer Christie, sly observer of ant culture.

Now the joke is on me. I am living in the ant farm.

Somehow, the 10 yard move from unit A to D has produced a drastic increase in ant population. It is not uncommon to find trails of them leading from window or wall crack to kitchen, boldly marching into sugar-laden enterprises. Sometimes they're just hanging out, though...scurrying about in my closet or running circles over the desk as I try to study. Joe diligently applied toxic ant glue around all the openings outside, only to find them methodically walking over the dried glue and into our home. The kicker is that they are too small to be contained in my ant farms, despite the fact that Uncle Milton's boasts an "escape proof design." I can't redeem my free harvester ant coupons either, because they don't ship to Hawaii. Boo!

So next Christmas, I would like one of these, please and thank you:


Zugman said...

Haha, I love it when you write!

Michelle said...

Farmer Christie, hahaha
We have ants here, too. Maybe you'd like them a little more if they all had the same name, like Jeffrey. Then it wouldn't be "The ants are in my cupboard", it would be "Jeffrey's in my cupboard", which at leasts sounds a little less unsettling...
Just a thought.

Michelle said...

As to some strange guy named Jeffrey messing around in your cupboard - well, I can't really help you there.

Kyle and Tiff said...

Yay! The Great Firewall is down today so I can finally leave a comment! Thanks for your posts, and despite the unenviable nature of your current pest problem, we got some hearty laughs out of your description. I even thought it was hilarious before Kyle pointed out to me that that picture is of an anteater, not an alien. Can't wait for next month's reunion! Don't worry-- no creepy crawlies of concern here, although scenes equally or more disturbing, and I'll spare you the porcelainless details... But custard tarts and GAP knockoffs--come anyway! Love, Tiff

Joe & Christie said... that how you deal, Meh? Seeing how zen you are, perhaps I should give it a try. :)

T, that picture was just too good to pass up. The ants are officially on notice: nothing says "exterminate" like a a boxing anteater.