Friday, July 30, 2010

Mr. Popular

AJ is taking the last week of summer vacation very seriously. And he is doing everything he can to squeeze every last drop of fun out of it before the new school year starts. He has not been home in 3 nights. And he is leaving again tonight for a 2 day birthday party sleepover extravaganza in Tucson.

It all started 3 nights ago when he went over to a friends house for a sleepover. He goes to his house all the time and loves it there. I get a call the next day, after he had already spent the night. "Can AJ stay for dinner?" Sure. A few hours later, "How do you feel about a double header sleepover?" Sure. When AJ got home after the doubleheader, he got a call from another friend to come over and swim. Sure. And then I get the call a few hours later, "Can he sleep over?" Sure. So AJ has been gone for 3 nights and is leaving again this afternoon for 2 more nights.

Yesterday, I asked Charlie where he thought AJ was. Charlie replied: "Camp." Yeah- that's about right.

I love that AJ is so independent. He has a zest for life that I have found in very few people. It is one of his best qualities. Of course I can say that now. He is ten, and said "zest" is not causing him to fail out of college.

But we will cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, it is still the last week of summer vacation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chicken Artichoke Casserole

This recipe came from trying to use up what was in my pantry and kitchen. For an alternative, the chicken mixture would also be good in a pie crust for a fancier pot pie.

Chicken Artichoke Casserole

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of potato soup
1 jar of artichokes
3 stalks of celery
4-5 red potatoes
1 cup of milk
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 white onion
salt to taste

Place all of above in crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours.

Mix together:
2 cups of dried stuffing, crushed
1/2 stick of unsalted butter

Transfer mixture from crock pot into a 8x8 casserole dish, cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces and top with stuffing and butter. Bake @ 350 for about 25 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

I won't say this is totally kid friendly, but it is pretty flavorful.

UPDATE: AJ said it was delicious. And that is a direct quote. Of course he may have come to the realization he has been driving me batty all day today, and was just trying to earn back some points. (That boy is going to make someone a great husband someday. )

Counting The Days

It was decided at a doctor's appointment a few weeks ago that I should have a hysterectomy. I have a fibroid the size of an apple that has calcified and is sitting on a nerve that runs down my leg.

The pain started last December and I have been living with it ever since. Most days are ok. The pain is uncomfortable but tolerable and I can usually ignore it. But there are a few days every month that it is hard to sit, stand, walk or lay down. And that doesn't leave you with many options. I have noticed that the pain has lessened since I have stopped work for the summer. But at work, I was on my feet most of the day. However, last night the pain was back with a vengeance and I slept very little. It confirmed to me that I am making the right decision.

The positives outweigh the negatives. No more periods, no more supplies, no more cramps, no more birth control, no more sciatic pain. The only negative is. . . Well, I can't think of one right now. And it is dawning on me that if I had just had them take the darn thing out when I had Charlie I would have be about 1K richer by now.

Yes, it is major surgery. But it is not's like there is a chance that they are going to cut off the wrong leg or something. We are moving to a one story house, and Shawn works at home so recovery should be relatively easy, all things considered. And unlike my C-section, there won't be a helpless newborn to take care of while trying to recover.

The only bummer is that because of the long recovery time, and the way my job is structured I had to resign. I had no benefits with the job and was not covered by FMLA. So, my choices were to keep working in pain and have the surgery in a year. Or, simply resign. And to be honest, a huge weight was lifted when that decision was made for me. I was a bit stressed when I thought I was going to have to move and have major surgery all while holding down a full-time job. Now, I can just concentrate on things as they come and not over-extend myself.

I have just been hired to design two children's rooms. So, I will have that to keep me busy in the coming weeks. Although art education seems to be where my heart is, as long as I am doing some sort of art, I am happy.

So things are looking up. And I just need to get through the next couple months and get past the move and surgery. Then my life will be better exponentially.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Weekend

This is what happens when you don't take a nap when mom tells you to. Not only do you end up sleeping in a weird position, you miss the most riveting episode of Blues Clues EVER!!

And this is what happens when your big brother thinks you are the cutest kid in the whole world and forces you to cuddle with him on the big chair.

What did I do? At last count I am up to 50 boxes. I am making huge progress and feel like I might actually finish in time.

After not being able to find boxes in my neighborhood, I stumbled across a company called I got a large number of boxes, paper, tape, tape dispenser and box cutter for less than I would have spent at U-Haul or UPS. And I got more boxes for my money. And did I mention they deliver them to my house? The company buys used cardboard boxes from companies and then resells them for moving. And the boxes are really good quality. One added bonus that I didn't realize until they arrived, was that many of the boxes are exactly the same. So they are much more stackable than the random boxes you get from friends, etc.

We also had to buy a mower. Since the yard service stopped when the landlord (the jerk) skipped town, the grass needed to be cut. At the new house, we only have a small patch. So Shawn bought one of those old fashioned push mowers with the blades. It would have been more fun to have goats. But the new house is right up against the desert and the coyotes would have gotten them in about 15 minutes.

The pool guy showed up the other day, which was surprising since as I mentioned before, our landlord skipped town. Shawn went out to talk to him and he informed Shawn that he has never been paid. Ever. He had even installed parts for the pool pump and has been coming weekly since December. So Shawn had the pool guy call the new owner and see if he would be willing to pay for the pump at least. The new owner (also a jerk) said he bought the house with a pump and he wasn't paying for it. Shawn got the pool guy's card because we will need someone who knows something about pools at the new house. We also gave him all pool supplies that the old owner left in the garage. Not much of a consolation, but at least it was something.

We will hopefully be moving to the new place August 15th. I say hopefully because you never know what could happen. I am just taking it as it comes these days.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What He Said

This picture pretty much sums up our summer. I was telling a friend recently, that if one more perfectly nice, well meaning person asks me how my summer is going I was going to lose it.

Among the people we know, we have had divorces, job loses, health issues, moves and deaths of relatives. Honestly the bad luck that has fallen on my family and the people we know and love has gotten a little much. I don't want to answer the phone, or the door, or open the mail for fear of what news it will bring.

On the other hand it makes me want to play the lottery since I MUST have used up all my bad luck by now, right?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boxes, We Meet Again

I have been packing for about an hour and a half and this is what I have accomplished. I remember when my entire life would be contained in this number of boxes. Now? Not so much.

The good news is we found a house. It is in a part of town that we like. It is close to the school and close to good friends. It is one story and has a beautiful pool and an even more beautiful view. The people we are renting from our military. They are being stationed abroad for 2 years. So I am almost entirely confident that we will actually have the house for 2 years. But, I have said that before.

The floor plan is not ideal, but it is a beautiful home and with a little finagling fits our needs. And as painful as moving is, we are looking forward to the new home.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Glimpse Into The Future

Charlie got a hold of AJ's glasses and tried them on. Is it bad that I now want him to need glasses because he looks so darn cute? He looks like he is channeling that kid from Jerry McGuire.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My Life In A Picture

I packed my first box. And I made sangria. (You will notice that the sangria is in a super-cool beverage dispenser. My friend Brittney gave it to me for my b-day. It is made from recycled glass. )

I am not sure what the upside down baby means. But I am sure it's significant.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Birth of a Rendering

I was hired to do a rendering (That is design-speak for drawing and coloring.) the plans for the proposed community garden in our town. I was a bit nervous about taking the job since I am an Interior Designer, not a Landscape Designer. Luckily I didn't actually have to design anything- just draw it and make it look pretty. That I can do.

I thought it would be fun to post the process of how a drawing comes to be.

The is the penciled drawing that I did to scale. All the components that will be rendered will be in the drawing. This drawing took about 5 hours to do.

Now the fun part starts. I begin the coloring by using base colors and then work my way up to darker ones. It is a subtle way to add depth.

You can see in the raised garden beds I am using a total of 3 colors to give the illusion that the beds are three dimensional. The grass wouldn't get lighter in real life, but by making the darkest grass towards the gazebo, and the lightest grass towards the viewer, it a) draws the eye in and b) gives the illusion of a light source.

In the bottom right quadrant I have added the ground cover around the flower beds. It represents mulch. Also, you can see that the roof of the gazebo has been shaded and details added.

Shadows have been added to help with the 3-d illusion. And I have added some plant life to the garden beds.

Here is the final.

There is a giant chess board in the upper right hand corner, playground equipment, grills and picnic tables, pergolas (bottom corners), and a water feature below the gazebo.

And for the record, this was only slightly less painful then the births of my other children.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nap Time

Nothing like a morning swim to get toddlers to fall asleep in random places and positions.


This is how observant I am. I bought both boys the same suit, (at different times) from the same store months ago. I never realized they were the same suit until this morning.