Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fall Cleaning!

Oh my goodness! Who knew that my kids were such pigs!? Their room was TRASHED!! Mark and I have been trying to let it go...thinking that eventually they will get sick of it and just clean it - we tell them to clean it and it becomes this big fight about stuff not being theirs. So Mark and I are in the process of gutting their room...GUTTING! We've dumped every toy in their closet onto their floor and played keep or toss...we've gone through every book on their bookcases and figured out if there were actually going to read them - if not...we are donating them. We've gone completely through their dressers to donate old clothes and figured out what needs to be displayed on top of their dresser vs. what is just a special item that can be put in their own tote. We've moved the computer desk out of their room and into the living room. We've actually gone as far as moving out the beds and dressers to wipe down the walls and vacuum behind them (we are donating four BIG boxes of toys and books...not to mention what we've already taken in clothes!) But...when it is all said and done, the room will be a much nicer place for them...and with the coming of cooler weather and less travel - they will have more of an opportunity to clean the room themselves and keep it nice.

We are trying to do our ultimate spring that it is almost make this apartment a nicer place to live. I know with Ohio winters we will be spending much of our time inside and we need to have space to be able to spread out a bit.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shhh! Don't tell my kids what day it is tomorrow!

Go through the clothes and find out who needs what...Check!
Buy new backpacks...Check!
School supplies...Check, Check, Check!
Cora's hair dyed raspberry...Check!
Drake's hair dyed blue...Check!
Gage's hair dyed Midnight blue...Check!
Met Drake and Cora's teacher...Check and Check!

It is close to bedtime at the Roberts' and the kids are ready for a brand new school year. I find it unbelievable that Gage is going into 7th grade, Drake 4th and Cora is in 1st. Kait is starting her sophomore year in college. I'm not ready for my kids to grow up this fast. Don't get me wrong...I find it awesome and amazing to watch them grow into these the incredible human beings - so different and complimentary, so sweet and conscious of others feelings (most times), so wild and crazy and yet very well behaved. I'm proud of my kids. Sometimes though it is hard to stretch out that umbilical cord and hopefully, one day, I'll be ready to cut it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


As we work to build our credit and our new life, we have found that driving our minivan for the primary source of transportation is just not working out so well. It puts a ton of miles on the van (that already has 120,000+ miles) and it wastes gas...we just feel very wasteful driving it when we only have one or two of us in the car. Frankly, "the brown car" - our older Honda is just not reliable enough for a steady work car for me. So we went spontaneously car shopping...We have always known that we want a little car...we dream of a Prius...but know that we'd love a Toyota/Honda - something that uses barely any gas and will last forEVER...FOR - EVER. So I submitted a credit application and two days later we left the lot with a BRAND NEW 2010 TOYOTA YARIS! We are super excited! She is candy apple red...has five doors (2-front, 2-rear and a hatchback), has 7 cup/bottle holders, awesome storage, a decent trunk space, AND the rear seats fold down (which will be great for work and play). I'm so excited that we were able to qualify...I mean, don't get me wrong, we did get a sucky interest rate and a long payment period - but hopefully we can refinance as we work on our credit even more (after 1-2 years?) BUT we have a NEW, RELIABLE, BABY CAR! So STOKED! Now, all I need is a promotion :-) Oh! and a farm...and that's all I need...and that goat, and an apple tree...and a couple of chickens...but that's all I need.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Philly, NYC, Hershey, Atlantic City...Oh My!

I'm awake...Mark had a difficult time trying to sleep and I decided to get up and join him. I thought I might be his comical relief...but I'm just sitting here like a lump....staring...sleepy eyed...not very comical...but I'm here.

We had a crazy trip last week. Two weeks ago today I was notified by my company that they needed some help with their Philadelphia program and they asked if I would be able to come and help for a few days/week. Mark and I were going to make the trip together and then the three little ones decided they wanted to tag along too.

We left on Saturday's about a 10 hr. drive from here to there...but on the way in we decided to make a pitstop at Hershey's Chocolate World. We rode the ride, we sampled the chocolate, we bought some goodies...and we got back on the rode. An hour and 1/2 later (ish) we were checked into our hotel in King of Prussia. Sunday morning we got up and made the just over 2 hr. drive to NYC for Mr. Gage's birthday!! Gage is definitely my city boy and loves everything that the bright lights of New York have to offer. This was our first time getting out of the car and really being able to explore the city. We parked near Central Park and climbed the rock structures there, we walked down Madison Ave and 5th, we went into the Trump Tower and made our way down to the Empire State Building (with a limited budget...just a glimpse from the outside would have to do this time)...After that, we made our way back up Broadway and through Times Square...we got to see the magical "ball" and I realized it was MUCH smaller than I expected. The trip was amazing and I'm so glad we were able to do it!
Back in Philly, I had a ton of work to do...but we were able to fit in a couple of side trips between work. We made our way into downtown Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell, toured Independence Hall and stood in the rooms where the Declaration and the Constitution were signed and took a walk through Chinatown. Finally, on our last night there, we took a drive over to Atlantic City...dude, this place is a fairly shifty. I guess I had mini-Vegas strip in my mind...but it was more like casino - scary ass ghetto - casino - scary ass ghetto...not really a place that I'd got to "hang"...we just parked at the Taj Garaj...we walked into the Taj Mahal and I introduced the kids to the wonderful world of slot machines (I truly hate slots...but they were on the edge of the main hall and the kids wanted to see what those things actually did...BTW, I'm up $5!), we walked out onto the boardwalk...all the way to the end...past the rides and games...we walked out onto the beach and dig our toes into the sand...the dirty, yucky sand - but hey, it counts! We let the water run over our feet (and in the kids case...their entire legs, some of their shirt etc). Once we sat on the bench on the boardwalk for a bit we decided we should head back to the hotel. Oh! I nearly forgot...they had this big, circular, birdcage type thing out on the boardwalk, near the taj around 10:30p or so, they had a family (Dad, Mom and two kids) come out and ride their motorcycles in the at a time, doing 360's, multiple people in at once, a little girl standing there while her dad rode around her...scary and cool at the same time...the kids thought it was amazing.
I'm so fortunate that my work allows us these occasional trips...that I can take advantage of a free hotel room and while I might be putting in long also allows us to play and adventure as a family and do things we were certainly not expecting to do. This unexpected trip will hopefully get our family through another couple of months in the ghetto...before our next adventure and hopefully (eventually) the ultimate adventure of moving!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Streets of Philadelphia...

It all started when I determined that I would have some free hours this month for I reached out to some other programs to see if they had something for me to do. Three different programs contacted me almost immediately. For a couple of the programs they have work on I can do over the Internet/phone training etc. and possibly an opportunity for travel next month - the other program needs hands on help next week! So, I'm heading to Philly! At first, I thought it would be nice for Mark to tag along and we'd have a week to just chill out and then the kids wanted to join in too... How nice will it be to work all day doing store visits and still be able to hang with the family and do fun stuff in the evenings. We decided to head out a couple days early and leave tomorrow - we're going to make a pit stop in Hershey, PA and then on Sunday perhaps a trip into NYC and/or Atlantic City to get a Big City and a Beach Fix! I'm SO excited! This trip keeps me in the eye of the higher ups at work (hopefully), but will ultimately get me more training about some of our other programs, it gets us out of the ghetto for a bit, Gage's birthday is Sunday (WOOT! Happy Birthday G!!!!) so he'll be spending his birthday on a really cool whirlwind vacation and we'll get to do the hotel dance!

In garden news...after harvesting nearly five pounds of potatoes last week...we decided to eat them (they were amazing!) - the skin was very thin, the potatoes had a nice flavor and most importantly - we GREW them! We have baby tomatoes growing out there - our tomatoes seem to be late bloomers...but then again we grew from seeds and had a late start after our first set of seeds were AHEM destroyed! But they are growing cute little baby ones. The cucumbers are tasty and I THINK I might be seeing some beans out there (checking from the window, we need to venture out there). All of this part is just trial and error - we'll see what works and what doesn't...this doesn't seem to be a stellar year for the garden, but anything home grown is better than nothing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prop 8

Down with Prop 8! I am so excited that a judge has the sense to overturn the ban on gay marriage. There is a separation of church and state (or at least there should be) in the US and our laws should not be governed by religion. My cousin and his partner have been happily together longer than most hetero couples that I know. I never closed myself off to the idea of being with the same sex or another race...if I could be lucky enough to find a person to spend the rest of my life with, a person that makes my tummy feel warm whenever I see them (even 14 years later), someone who loves me in all my craziness...I'd marry that person (which I did!) and I couldn't imagine if people out there were telling me it is wrong and/or illegal.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Checking off the to do list.

I'm so tired. Here it is 10:38 PM EST and I am so tired but feeling so accomplished. I woke up and sat with my morning cup of coffee, looking through the newspaper and cutting coupons. We went through all of the ads. Then I ventured out to the front yard and started pulling weeds. I knew we had a plan of harvesting our potatoes and didn't want to waste the compost and dirt from those bins. We figured that we could move the dirt/compost mix from back to the front garden area - but first those weeds had to go. We sat and pulled and apparently it wasn't quite as bad as I thought or we are just really efficient because we went through it in no time and were off to the potato bins.
POTATO! POTATO! POTATO! It is so exciting to excavate and find those little nuggets of gold. We found little tiny baby ones and ginormous ones - so so exciting! Not to mention that we grew (I'm guessing) around five pounds of potatoes!!! SWEET...these will go nicely with some pork tenderloin in the next couple of days and I'm sure another meal (or two?).
Then we (and by "we" I mean "Mark") brought the dirt around and we spread it over the front garden - which makes it look so nice. Strangely though, us being out there cleaning encouraged some of the other neighbors to come out and clean up their spaces...I mean, I'm talking baby steps here but still...counts! We had one neighbor come out and sweep up her door frame and main hall area - she asked if we were coffee drinkers and if she could have an old container to add dirt to for cigarette butts...others were talking to us about gardening (both the flower garden in the front and the vegetable garden in the back). We had kids playing in the front yard, neighbors being somewhat neighborly and our garden looks really pretty.
After all that, we went through the remaining items from my friend and her daughter from their "great move". We finished playing "keep or toss" with the toys and browsed through a ton of books and took the remaining to Goodwill (I'm talking boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff...I'm thinking it was 3-4 VAN FULLS)...amazing what she collected over the years and was ready to get rid of and after our children went through and kept all that their hearts desired and still had that much to giveaway. Our friend is ALMOST settled, I'm impressed by everything she has been able to do in the past couple of weeks.
Then, we went over to my parents' house and visited with a family friend that we haven't seen in many, many years. It was nice to catch up and share old stories, talk about babies (who have now grown into young adults) and make tentative plans for future get togethers. Did I mention that we were even ON TIME for the party and brought a cucumber (mostly from our garden), tomato (mostly from Aullwood Farm) and Mozzarella Salad (YUM!).

Gotta say...I think we kicked a little ass today.