Monday, January 31, 2011

Playdate

The girls and I went to my friend Courtney's playdate this past Saturday. They got to play with their little friends Riley and Kate. Playdates use to be about getting us moms together to talk, and lumping our kids in the same room. Now, the girls are actually playing (and nicely, too!) with each other. They had a blast dressing up and playing babies.










Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guest Post

The following post is from my friend Ann Marie. While her son is a little younger than my girls, we both ended up going through our divorces at the same time. She just recently started a blog that has just knocked my socks off. I find myself spending my evenings settling down to read her blog. So read her post below, and if you like - click on her blog button to read some more!


I've always liked country music but, let's face it, sometimes it does get a little depressing. What's the old joke: if you play a country song backwards you get back your husband, your children, and your dog? Or something along those lines. And, don't get me wrong, sometimes, especially when you are in the midst of a break-up, you need a song that will make you cry. You want to feel sad. It's therapeutic. I had those moments, in the beginning. But, oddly enough, the songs that appealed to me the most were the ones where the woman always ended up coming out stronger in the end. I think that was why I listened to them. Because they gave me strength. Because they made me feel as if I could and would be OK when it was all said and done.

I remember listening to Taylor Swifts' "White Horse". My favorite part of the song is where she sings:

"and there you are now, on your knees, begging for forgiveness, begging for me, Just like I always wanted, but I'm so sorry".

That part stood out because it was so much like my life. The entire song was like my life. Man cheats on woman, treats her poorly, then comes back around like a knight in shining armor on a "white horse" to make it all better and expects her to fall for his lines yet again. Take him back. One.more.time. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. That was our entire relationship in a nutshell. The only thing was that when I finally left D, for good, I meant it. I wasn't attempting to play games. I truly wanted out of our marriage, and to rid myself of him. Nothing he attempted would have convinced me to take him back. Not flowers. Not diamonds. Not elaborate trips. Not empty promises. I still, to this day, think that astounded him. He was floored. I even surprised myself with my strength. While he had always been able to redeem himself in the past, something about that final time had been different.

When I finally began to emerge from the thick of things, and stopped wanting to listen to melancholy post break-up songs, I found myself seeking a song that would empower me. Make me feel like I was on top of the world. I could accomplish anything. And any man who didn't realize how wonderful I truly was, didn't deserve me anyways. And never had. Enter, Carrie Underwood. And her hit song "Undo It". Carrie has always been one of my favorite country artists. And she is no stranger to heartbreak herself. She certainly seems to embody all that I strive to be. Beautiful. Successful. Confident. And her songs convey this message. And they do it well. And "Undo It" was no exception.

I remember hearing the lyrics for the first time driving to work one day. Normally I have to hear a song a few times before I really start to enjoy it. I have to warm up to it. Listen to the lyrics a few times. Decide if I like the beat. Not in this case. The very first time I heard that song I loved it. Instantly. I turned the radio up and enjoyed every minute of it. From that moment on, every time I turned the station on I hoped that I would hear that song. I put it on my YouTube playlist. The title was even the theme for my infamous "divorce party". I think we must have played that song half a dozen times that night.

Every word in that song resonated with me, and still does. I could so closely relate to it all. From the first verse:

"Should have known by the way you passed me by

There was something in your eyes and it wasn't right.

Should have walked but I never had the chance everything got out of hand and I let it slide.

Now I only have myself to blame for falling for your stupid games

I wish my life could be the way it was before I saw your face"

I remember thinking about the night that I met D. I knew he was a bad boy. I knew he was wrong for me. But I couldn't help it, I went on a date with him anyways. Something in my gut had always told me that things weren't quite right, but I didn't listen. And then, as the song goes "everything got out of hand and I let it slide". I started dating him, we got engaged, and then married, and, well, the story only goes downhill from there.

My favorite verse of the whole song is the second one:

"Now your photos don't have a picture frame

And I never say your name, and I never will

And all your things, well I threw them in the trash

And I'm not even sad"

I laugh when I think about this verse. I remember my best friend helping me to pack up the rest of D's things. Things that he had conveniently neglected to take when I kicked him out. She had never liked D. No, scratch that. She had always had a bad feeling about him. From the very beginning. But, she had genuinely made an attempt to get along with him, because she loved me and valued our friendship. However, once she found out everything he had put me through when I was pregnant, it was all over. All bets were off. The claws were out. She knew that I wasn't going to forgive him. She knew that she didn't have to pretend that she liked him anymore. And once that occurred, she couldn't help me move him out of my life fast enough. Literally. Because I was still somewhat numb with shock (and hugely pregnant), my friend more than willingly was the one who did most of the packing. I chuckle a little when I think of her throwing everything into huge black trash bags. Taking down pictures. Putting the wedding albums away. Like the song says "now your photos don't have a picture frame" because they no longer did! And, while we didn't throw D's belongings in the trash, per se, we did throw them in trash bags, which is close enough.

The best part of that lyric, is the last line, where she sings "and I'm not even sad". I was so done by the time D and I finally separated, officially. Done. I wanted out. I wanted to rid myself of him. I had no feelings left. He had burnt his bridges. Completely and entirely. He had singlehandedly, over the course of the year, succeeded in making me fall out of love with him. I no longer cared. I had grieved for a failed marriage long before we officially ended it. I had cried myself to sleep so many times, that I no longer had any tears left. I actually felt immense relief, knowing that I was putting an end to the nightmare that I had been living. I felt strong. I felt empowered. I felt like I had a renewed opportunity at life. I was instantly happier. More confident. And re-invigorated. But, one thing I definitely was not, was sad.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Babies

I've mentioned it before, but my girls LOVE babies. They love to change diapers, dress them up, push them in strollers, and put them to bed. So when I brought home my external hardrive that has ALL of my pictures on it - they became obsessed with looking at their baby pictures and videos. Heck - they are better at telling which one is "sissy" than I am some times. It's so hard to believe they were once this small...








I know now that I'll probably never have another child again. Two is plenty for me, and my pregnancy was really rough. I do, however, mourn the loss of normalcy I had. A normal pregnancy, a stable home, a loving husband. Sometimes I think that I'd love a re-do. But I love my life now, and would not go back for anything.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Ramblings

* I completely forgot that I had opened a UPromise account back in 2001. I'd linked my CVS and BiLo cards to it, and over the course of ten years, had racked up close to $400! I had to add a few more cards (for dining rewards), and update all my info, but I was able to transfer that into the girls' college savings account. Nothing like "free" money. I also plan on booking my cruise through their site to get 5% back in savings.

* I also forgot that my Visa debit card through Wachovia was linked to a rewards catalog. I was able to get an Amazon giftcard, and treated myself to a new Columbia jacket, Kindle cover, and some e-books.

* I'll be doing a lot of travelling this year. I have a Middle School Conference at Myrtle Beach in March, I'll be taking a bus load of 8th graders to Washington, DC for several days in April, a cruise this June, and hopefully the beach with the family in July.

* I filed my taxes yesterday. I completely forgot that I had a 1099 form for my blog money. Yeah, it sucked to pay taxes on that!

* Natalie is still having sleep issues. She'll sleep in her toddler bed for maybe 2 hours, wake up, and then I have to put her back down (while laying on the floor). I do this several times during the night, until I realize I'm going to be a zombie in the morning, and it's too cold to get out of bed. So I pop her in bed next to me. I always said I would never co-sleep...blah!

* Eddie and I are going on a fancy date this Saturday night. I'm sure it will be followed by playing Wii games (we're partial to Wario: Shake It and Lego Star Wars). I also plan on enlisting his help to change around Audrey's room. We'll be painting it a light purple, taking down Natalie's unused crib, and putting a few toys for her to play with in there.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed








Also, would you mind clicking? I haven't participated in Top Mommy or Baby blogs in a good while - and would like to see if I could get back on the first page. Currently, I think I'm in absolute last place, lol.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote! Vote For Us @ TopBaby Blogs! The Best Baby Blog Directory


(Oh, Caroline - I double checked on the TMB voting. They are doing it by unique IP from the referred blog - so there's no voting or clicking anymore. It does take 24 hours to update standings)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Post About Cameras

I had a reader leave me an anonymous comment a few days ago asking about my camera, and if I'd mind posting about the gear I like and use. I want to preface this by saying I'm soooo not a photographer. I mean, I've never once shot in manual mode. I played around with my camera until I finally figured out how to get the results I like. I also don't own or use Photoshop, and am very happy with the Picasa (free!) to do what little editing I do.

So...here goes.

First, I love my camera. I bought it in 2009 (from Target, I think). It's the Canon Rebel XS. I have to say it's very user friendly. My dad has a Nikon and I'm just not a fan. But most people are loyal to either Canon or Nikon. You can get them on Amazon for $478, with the kit lens. I use the kit lens as my main lens, especially when I go on playdates, outings, etc. It has a nice zoom to it.


Here are some pics I've taken with the kit lens:






The lens I use for most of my portrait pictures would be the "thrifty fifty". It's the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens. I got mine for about $95, but it's selling on Amazon for $129.99 right now. Seriously, bookmark this lens and check on it often. The price always fluctuates, and you can get it cheaper for sure. This lens is a little "soft" for my taste. Meaning you REALLY have to focus on your subject, and have them still, to get a crisp image. This lens works really well on Natalie because she's a little ham. Audrey - most of her pictures turn out blurry because she's always on the go. This one also creates nice bokeh (bokeh is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image).


Here are some "crisp" pictures from the nifty fifty:






I'd have to say that the BEST purchase I've made for my camera so far is my external flash (Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash). I LOVE LOVE it. I swear, it's the BEST way to take great pictures, outside of using natural light. It's pricey, but it also has the ability to swivel completely around, making sure you can bounce your light.


It works well in places that lack natural light, like the Children's Museum. If I hadn't taken it with me, my pictures would have turned out a lot darker.



I also briefly had a fish eye lens, the Opteka HD² 0.20X Professional Super AF Fisheye Lens. It's great for funky photos like the ones I took in my bedroom. It runs about $50 on Amazon as well. I ended up trading it with my friend in exchange for her photographing the girls' birthday party.


A pic:


So...I hope that helps! Remember, I'm not a pro. I just like taking pictures of my girls. If you click on any of the pictures, it'll link you to Amazon so you can do some research for yourself.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekend Project

I was determined this weekend to tackle the last room in my house still painted "painter's white". I've neglected my bathroom for 3.5 years, only changing out the shower curtains. I finally came to the conclusion that I'd probably enjoy getting ready in the morning a whole lot more, if I actually enjoyed the room I was in.

So I headed to Walmart to buy some paint. Originally, I was going to paint the room a steel grey to match the curtain I already had. But, I wandered over to the bath section at Walmart and found one that I fell in love with, that was out of it's packaging on an end cap. I ended up getting a $20 curtain for $5. Score! So my paint ideas went out the window, and I settled for a color called "cowboy hat" by Dutch Boy.

I remembered that I had some ugly, dollar store painting decorating the bathroom, so I headed to Hobby Lobby. I got there at 7:50 and doncha know they close at 8. All of their wall hangings were 50%, and since they are closed Sunday, I knew I needed to pick out what I wanted then to get it on sale. After a mad dash, I ended up with two small metal hangings ($2 and $3 - which I brushed over with blue acrylic paint), and a large metal sculpture thingy ($15).

Total cost of the makeover? $35. And finding out I can bend in very weird ways and contort into very small places to paint.

Here are some pics (pardon the lack of natural light)...

Before:





After





Sunday, January 23, 2011

CHEEESE!!!!





 
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