Saturday, February 26, 2011

I've Been Upgraded!

Spring has sprung at Sunshine SAHM! I've been cleaning and organizing the house like mad this month, and I decided the blog needed a makeover too. The colors are bright and cheery, and this design just makes me smile.

There are a few more changes around here worth mentioning. I upgraded not just the design, but also the blog address. I now reside at Now you can remember where to find me on the web! I have had numerous people ask about the blog, and I've had to send a link because no one could remember the site address. Problem solved. *grin*

Also, there is a not so new feature to the right. That little box on the top of the sidebar allows you to subscribe to Sunshine SAHM by typing in your e-mail address. Anytime there is a new post, it will be sent directly to your inbox, and you'll never miss an update of the crazy antics around here! The e-mail addresses are not visible to anyone but me, and I will NEVER share your address with anyone. I hate spammers too.

This re-design is a work in progress. I won't be changing it very often, but you may see a few design updates over time as I work with Julie over at LeeLou blogs to get the final product I'm hoping for.

I've been in my little corner of the blog world for over six months now, and I couldn't wait any longer to finally personalize Sunshine SAHM. Thanks to all of you for the encouragement you give me to keep on writing; I've had so much fun with it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Week Gone...

Grace and Mark are both growing up so quickly! I'm certain that next week's blog will have pictures of Mark walking. He can stand and balance on his own, and he will even take a few steps when holding onto just one of my fingers... but despite our best efforts, he won't take a step on his own. Yet. Stay tuned...

Grace is really beginning to take off in the language department. Unlike most two year olds, she really doesn't say much. I've had multiple people comment on how quiet she is. The last couple of weeks she has started to "talk" on the phone, repeat almost every word that is said to her, and this morning she was moving a chair and said "Excuse me!" I have no idea where she learned that one, as I've not taught it to her yet - but I liked it!

This week I took a lot of pictures of us eating. I must have been really hungry. Lunch with Grace is always an adventure, so our photos start there...

Gracie eats PB&J regularly. But not in a "regular" way. She always peels the two bread layers apart, then eats the jelly by scraping it off the bread with her fingers. She then eats the peanut butter with the same scraping technique (which works surprisingly, messingly well). Next comes the center part of the bread, and if she's really hungry she'll even eat the crust. This week I gave her a sandwich, but didn't cut it in half like I usually do. She still ate it in her routine way, but had to work around the fact it wasn't halved.

Step One: Scrape PB&J off of bread. Mommy gave me
the spatula hoping it will help me stay clean... Ha!
Step Two: Eat center of bread. Where there's
a will, there's a way.

Step Three: Use full slice of bread as bracelet.
Next time mommy will remember to cut the bread!
Cousin Katie came to visit this week and Gracie had a ball. If Katie was going down the slide, Gracie was going down the slide. If Katie was running around the house, Gracie was running. If Katie was skipping, Gracie was... well, sort of hopping forward in a weird sort of sliding way. But it was cute.

We went out for a special treat and got doughnuts for breakfast. More photos of food:

Um, I don't quite get why going out for
doughnuts is so fun? Tastes the same to me...
Hey mom! Can we turn this into candy milk to go
with my candy bread?

Cousin Katie is enjoying time with Grace.
Grace is going into sugar shock.

Somehow, we also managed to convince daddy that going out for ice cream after dinner was a good idea too. So we all went out for ice cream:

Hey Grace, do you think we can get your mom
to give us insulin shots before bedtime???

Grace and Katie shared a dessert.
Grace was too busy eating to smile.

Mark didn't share with anyone. He said he got
jipped at breakfast.

At the end of the night, Grace once
again goes into sugar shock. :)

Mark had fun with cousin Katie, and he learned some new tricks:

Two, two, two.... Go!

How cute are these two?

Last week, we went to Grandma Dee Dee and Papa's house. We were only there for a short time, but my mom was saying that Mark was the only grandchild who hadn't had a bath in the kitchen sink, and she had no pictures. She was worried that we wouldn't perform this "tradition" before Mark got too big. Since I was ready to pack up and go home, I told her not to worry, that we would make sure she got her photos. Imagine my surprise when I turned around and found Papa undressing Mark! Well, you know what they say... why put off until tomorrow what you can do right this very minute?

This fountain is fun! No wonder all the grandkids
want to take baths in Grandma's sink!

Papa says if everyone knew what had been in
my diaper just before this, no one would
ever touch this sink again...
This week, I'll be working hard on getting my little boy to summon up the courage to take a few steps. Hope your week was filled with good food and cute, smiling, and maybe even chocolate covered faces.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Budget for some Soda

My sister is a bit of a health food fanatic. I'm more than a bit of a budget fanatic. Kim spends money on what she wants, when she wants. (She'll tell you that's not true, but ignore her. She's in denial.) I eat what I want, when I want. (I'll tell you that's not true, and I'd be right. I'm too cheap to actually buy what I want, unless it's on sale and I have a coupon.)

And so, when we went shopping together recently, our conversation inevitably turned toward our two passions. Cash and cola. Two years ago this month, my husband and I signed up for Financial Peace University, the Dave Ramsey course on how to manage your money. We'd always been good at managing our money, but the housing market crash served us a kick in the gut, as our mortgage was the only thing standing between me and staying home with my babies. We decided to get some serious advice, and make whatever tough decisions were necessary in order to meet our family values. The Dave Ramsey course saved our financial lives. So, like those in a lifeboat watching others on a sinking ship, we share our story with those who might be drowning.

My sister isn't drowning. She's on the deck of the Titanic... but instead of playing the somber violin as the ship goes down, she's two-stepping with her fingers flying across the fiddle. Granted, she is in a unique position. Her husband is in school, and in less than two years he'll be a doctor. That's when she'll really start to worry about money. "After all, it's hard to be worried about money when you don't have any." (Says her.)

Choosing a place for lunch was a compromise. I am on a very strict budget, and choose to spend my money in categories other than dining out... so I wanted fast food or low priced option. Kim didn't care what it cost, as long as it wasn't dripping in grease, served in a white carb wrapping, or have unpronouncable ingredients shortened into initials. We found ourselves at a bakery that served fresh sandwiches and salads, and Kim offered to pay for the meal. I told her I had budgeted for lunch (she loves when I say things like that) and despite her protests, I gave her five dollars from my wallet.

Over lunch, we discussed the health merits of her low carb lifestyle. As we sipped our water, we talked about our passions. My sister is very adamant that soda is terrible for you, and should be avoided at all costs. I drink a soda almost every day.

After lunch, we began looking for the perfect dress she needed for an upcoming function. As we walked through the mall, I found myself straying toward the altar of Saint Arbucks. I told my sister I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a coffee from Starbucks. She told me, "Go ahead, get one - I'll wait." Of course, I made my "budget face" and told her that I "couldn't afford it". I've been trying to get out of the habit of saying that, as we both knew very well that I could afford it. What I need to say is "I don't have the money... for that." She still encouraged me to get one, and even offered to pay for it.

"Kim!" I said, disgusted once again at her ability to spend money she doesn't have. "Would you stop it?"

"What?" she asked. "It's only a few bucks for a coffee. It's not a big deal!"

And that's when it clicked. It was a big deal. This is exactly what makes it so difficult for people in financial trouble to dig themselves out. "Kim, if I had told you that I wanted to buy a soda, would you have offered to pay for it?" "No!" she said. "Well, think of it like this: you see the value in making healthy food choices, and you certainly wouldn't encourage me to buy a soda. That's your passion. I feel just as strongly about us being responsible for our financial health as you do about us being responsible for our physical health."

I think a light came on for both of us in that moment. We each have a passion and we are willing to make sacrifices for it. She doesn't eat a lot of carbs, even though she enjoys them. I don't spend my money without a thoughtful plan for each dollar, even though it might be enjoyable.

We found the dress that we had been looking for (on clearance at half off!) and headed back to her house. We had a fantastic time talking, shopping, and just re-connecting. As I was leaving, my arms were filled with items to put in my car. She took that opportunity to tuck a note in my back pocket. "Kim!" I protested, "Did you just put that five dollars back in my pocket???" She smiled at me and said, "I love you. Now go buy yourself a soda."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another Week Gone...

Ta da! This week, I doubled the amount of sippy cup washing I already do. Pretty exciting huh?

What's really exciting is that with each new cup, there is one less bottle. My mom tells us that she enjoyed every stage of our growing up better than the previous stage. I think I'm going to feel the same way too.

I love the feel of soft newborn skin, and the velvet head of fuzz that both my children had. The first smile, the first giggle, the first word. All of it so fun. But then they do amazing things. They put their arms into the sleeves of their shirt without prompting. They anxiously twist their arms to get out of the car seat straps and rush into Grandma's house on their own. They snap Elmo into the high chair and sing the ABC song. They learn to drink from a sippy cup and gleefully dip a spoon into a bowl (even if none of the food makes it onto the spoon!). Yes, we're having a lot of fun around here. I'm cherishing every day, grateful for what's passed, and looking forward to the next big adventure.

Speaking of adventure... we had our first real snow day!

We headed up to the mountain, and missed the falling snow by less than an hour... but Gracie LOVED it. Despite our not having the proper attire, she didn't want to quit playing. We hit the lake first, but there wasn't quite enough snow to make it fun:

Then we headed a little further north, until we found a perfect spot for making snowballs and sliding down the hills. Mark had fallen asleep in the car before we got to the second destination, so mommy had to stay inside the nice warm car, eating snacks, playing on her iPod and taking pictures from the window. Awwww, poor mommy. Only daddy and Gracie got to experience the ice cold fun that is snow. *wink*

After a short time, we just gave up on the
mittens. Maybe next year.

Daddy showed Gracie how to make a snowball.

Then he showed her how to slide down the hill.
Then she slid down on her own.
Again, and again, and again...

We did some mundane things too. We went shopping:
Don't touch baby! I'm wiping down the
cart handle to protect you from germs.

Uh, mom? We're in the middle of a store, you're holding
Mark in one hand and taking photographs with the other.
Next time can we pretend you don't know me?

We took baths. Mark discovered when you eat bubbles, they disappear. Oooohhhhh.

See, all gone! They were just here - I promise!

I think I could pull off the mature mustache look a
little better if I didn't have baby food on my forehead.
It's amazing how quickly a rough week can become a distant memory, and the sweet times linger. If you're having a rough week, just remember that this too shall pass. If you're having a good week, take some pictures! Just look at that mustache - they really do grow up fast!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Supervisor And Home Maker: An Inside Look at the Job of a SAHM (Part Two)

Welcome back! Our cliff hanger from last time left you wondering:

Will our SAHM get the kitchen clean before lunchtime?
Will Gracie escape the clutches of her high chair?
Why haven't we heard anything from Mark?
Will the Cheerios on the floor ever get swept up?

Poise those fingers over that mouse as we bring you the final installment of "SAHM: Why Nothing Ever Gets Done Around Here"!

Uh.... peep?

Experienced supervisors know that you do not unstrap the toddler from the high chair before going to check on another employee. Instead, you immediately search for your second staff member, hoping to find him happily engaged in his work. Unfortunately, you find him at the water cooler. And by water cooler, I mean toilet. When you took your daughter to the bathroom earlier, you left the door open. You gently remind your water soaked employee that the toilet bowl is not a kiddie sized sink, and is not to be used as a face washing station. You then explain that if this happens again you may have to write him up, and then detain him in the playpen that has been reserved for insubordinate employees.

You wash his hands and face with anti-bacterial soap, change his shirt, and send up thanks that while the toilet water was definitely dirty, at least you had flushed the toilet this time.

On the way back to the kitchen, you happily note that your two year old is not screaming her head off, wanting to be released from her plastic prison. As you turn the corner, you realize it's because said two year old can reach the salt dispenser on the table - even with all five high chair straps firmly fastened. If she were training for an Olympic medal in gymnastics, you would be beaming with pride. Instead, you give her the same lecture about playpens that you just gave your other employee, and grab the damp dish cloth.

Yes, I know this is not salt. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened.
I only have so much time to photograph my children's misbehavior.

You wipe down her hands and face, and release her from that wonderful invention you strap small children into to keep them from going anywhere. This is considered culturally acceptable because it's designed to appear that restraint harnesses are required in order for them to eat - and who am I to say differently?

You wipe down the kitchen table, which looks like a major snowstorm just blew through. That's when you hear the kids happily removing the three utensils you'd managed to place in the dishwasher. Unfortunately, between the two of them there are four hands. And one of them is empty. Naturally, the empty hand is used to shove the baby and take the spatula from him.

Supervisors often have to deal with employee conflict. Luckily, our SAHM has a lot of experience in this area since it happens constantly.

Sit baby upright, remove spoon from hand. Ignore high decibel screaming, as it is unclear if it is a result of being pushed, or having utensil removed from clenched fist. Give two year old the playpen lecture again. Resist urge to take photograph of child with butter knife and spatula in hand, and create "Wanted: Armed and Dangerous" poster. Remove said knife and spatula, before Wanted Poster is actually required. Ignore screaming, as it is unclear if it is a result of being lectured or having utensils removed from clenched fists.

You now send both employees to the play room with instructions to work harmoniously. You chuckle to yourself as you approach the kitchen, and wonder how much longer you can survive before you finally go insane and eat every item in the break room fridge, whether it's been labeled with another employee's name or not. A bottle with the name "Mark"? Make mine a double.

On the way back to the sink, you pick up your toddler's plate, fork, high chair tray and sippy cup.  You wonder if anyone would notice if you just threw them away...

You actually finish loading the diswasher before you realize that almost ten minutes have passed and not a single employee has come in to complain. Not one scream has come from the "office". Nary a peep. You fight visions of what happened the last time you didn't hear a peep as you race toward the play room, praying everyone is still conscious.

Hey Mark! Do you know why they
call this the "sleeper hold"?
You delight in your supervisorial skills when you find your newest team member happily chewing on the sock the other employee has just removed. You wonder if it has a slight egg yolk flavor. Your tallest employee has climbed onto the top of the table and is busying herself by chewing on her newly exposed toenails. You head to the kitchen with a spring in your step. Everyone is conscious, no one is screaming, you have a fully loaded dishwasher and your toddlers toenails have been clipped. Could "Employee of the Year" be far behind?

You wash, dry and replace the high chair trays. You put soap in the dishwasher and actually remember to turn it on. You grab the broom, sweep up Cheerios, toast crumbs and what appears to be dehydrated corn. You look at the clock and congratulate yourself that it has only taken an hour to load one skillet, one spatula, one butter knife and the breakfast dishes of three people. You might be in line for a promotion with that kind of efficiency.

You head to the playroom, ignoring the banana bits stuck to the linoleum, the toast crumbs hiding under the high chair cover, and the fact that there is an egg yolk handprint in the center of your back. You've got an entire hour to play before the lunch hour begins. Who wouldn't love this job?

If the above scenario wasn't enough to satisfy your curiousity, please contact us for consideration for our intern position. If you are awarded the job, you will receive no pay, no lunch breaks, no ruined clothing allowance, and your fourteen hour work day will leave you with no sense of accomplishment. Apply now!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Supervisor And Home Maker: An Inside Look at the Job of a SAHM (Part One)

Last week my mother asked which I thought was harder: being a stay at home mom or a working mom. I answered, a little sheepishly, being a SAHM. Prior to staying at home, I couldn't understand what was so difficult about getting basic chores done. All I saw were FaceBook status' about playdates, lunches with friends and enjoying sunny days at the park.

What I didn't know what that all of those had been arranged because if mom and the kids stayed in the house for one more moment, someone would have ended up in a crib or playpen all day (probably mommy).

Think of being a SAHM as the equivalent of being a supervisor at work. You have people that you constantly need to check on, follow up with, and evaluate.

Of course, there's an exception. Instead of checking on your employees each hour, you check on them every ten minutes (or less). Instead of keeping them from sending out bad information or messing up product, you're trying to keep them from killing themselves. Or each other. The younger your subordinates, the more often they have to be monitored. Therefore, a chore that you would normally complete in ten to fifteen minutes now takes half an hour. Or more.

Still not following? Let me provide you with an example:

Your two employees are happily strapped into their respective high chairs. The newest employee is drinking the last of the milk from his bottle. The more seasoned employee is munching on eggs, toast, and remnants of yesterday's dinner surreptitiously saved under the high chair cover. (For those of you who are not parents, this is probably buttered corn kernels, now the consistency of raisins. Or something equally gross. And chewy.) You have just completed your own breakfast and use this as an opportunity to clean the kitchen and do the dishes. This task should take about fifteen minutes.
Correction: This task should take a normal adult, with no other obligations or distractions, about fifteen minutes.

You start by rinsing your dishes and clearing the counter. Just as the butter makes its way back into the fridge, you hear the distinct sound of a bottle hitting the floor. As the refrigerator door closes, the crying begins. You walk over, pick up the bottle, and give it back to the baby. You also notice that your two year old is practicing her "sharing" techniques. Very, very nice... except the baby will choke if he gets his applesauce covered hands on her discarded egg whites.

Move high chairs further apart. Step on Cheerio, smashing it to bits and leaving oat carnage in your wake. Go back to cleaning counter.

You manage to get the counter wiped down and the skillet in the sink before your two year old announces: "Mommy! Pee Pee!". You head over with a damp washrag and quickly wipe down the two egg yolk covered hands threatening to soil your shirt as you help her down from the chair. You head to the bathroom, and once again wonder if giving M&Ms as a reward are a good idea, since she's eaten more chocolate than eggs this morning.

*Note: A good supervisor knows that you must keep your employee morale high if you want to see results. And when it comes to potty training, you desperately want to see results.

After strapping your associate back into her high chair, you resume work on the skillet. You try to supress the excitement of being able to open the dishwasher without having to fend off the small intruders who always attempt to climb onto the door. And eat the knives.

You get a plate, spatula and two utensils into the machine before the baby starts to fuss. Actually, he's been fussing for awhile. He dropped his bottle. Again. It's because he's no longer interested in eating, and now wants to get down and play. You dampen a paper towel and head over to wipe his hands. And face. And eyelashes. And the back of his head. And his left foot.

If you're a parent, this requires no explanation. If you're not, well... here:

You let your underling down from the high chair so he can... go do whatever it is underlings do. As long as he doesn't fuss, break something, or get into mortal danger, you don't really care. You've got one clear counter and a sink full of dishes to worry about. Speaking of which, you've added a baby spoon, bowl, bottle and high chair tray to the pile. Which makes the counter look far less clean than it did two minutes ago.

As you scrape banana crust from the tray and wonder again how he manages to get food everywhere but his mouth, your two year old decides she is also done. You know this because she has taken all the food off of her plate, and put the plate upside down on the top of her head. You begin to wish you had scrambled the eggs, instead of cooking them over easy. You walk over to remove the plate from her head, which has stayed neatly in place despite her attempt dodge you. Egg yolk is helpful like that.

As you put the food back on the plate, your toddler gives you a great big hug. Affectionate? Yes. Sanitary? No. You reach for yet another paper towel, and decide a wash rag would do a better job on those egg-yolk covered fingers. And face. And head.

And then you realize you haven't heard a peep from the baby.

Stay tuned for the next episode of "Supervisor And Home Maker: Why Nothing Ever Gets Done Around Here."

Since I deprived you last week by not posting anything (my mother informed me that this had been duly noted and she was going through withdrawals) I'll post part two on Wednesday. Or Thursday.

These things sometimes take longer than they should you know.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Another Week Gone...

Yes, nestled under the early 80's brown tile
awesomeness that is my kitchen counter
sits my new dishwasher.
What? You want text too? But I thought a picture was worth... oh, nevermind. Here:

Yes, those are push buttons. And a dial.
Geez! You people are insatiable! Doesn't the above picture make the first one look all the more fabulous? You still want more? Fine. Moving on.

I'll share some of this week and last week, since I kind of glossed over it due to my dishwasher being defunct.

That and my children were behaving like banshees.

First of all, as mentioned earlier, I was very proud of myself for finally being able to put Grace's hair in pigtails. Turns out, the hair bands I got from Claire's were horrible, I just didn't know any better as I'd never used any before. The cheapie ones from Target are much easier to use. Unfortunately, just because I can now use them doesn't mean I'm very good at it.

Poor Gracie. Luckily, we didn't go anywhere in public that day. I'm afraid after a few minutes in my styling chair she resembled "Darla" more than "darling".

Um, pardon the cheese in her mouth. This was the
best I could get last week. Trust me.

Darla from "Finding Nemo"... or Grace with headgear.
You choose.
I've also apparently been in denial about the fact that Mark is not going to be an infant forever. I was putting his socks on and realized they no longer fit. Something inside of me started to whimper, and my brain tried to reconcile the image of my baby boy with the reality of another stage just around the corner.

Sometimes when you're a mom, you can go for days without really seeing your children. You only see a short person needing another cup of milk, a good face washing, or a three hour nap. When I saw this little foot, which would soon be catapulting my baby to full time toddler status, I made sure to stop and look. And, of course, take a picture. Because even though it had been a miserable week with the two tyrants, I didn't want to forget.

Yes, he's barely outgrown them. No, I did not take them
off. He wore them all day and was none the wiser.
There are some things I would like to forget. Or at least not repeat any time soon. Last week, I entertained you with the picture of what Grace discovered during what I like to call "naptimes" and she likes to call DOOMs (Destruction On Overtime Missions). We recently put a shelf above Mark's changing table and Grace discovered it.

Self.  Explanatory.
Thankfully, I caught her before any major damage was done. She was told not to climb on the changing table again, and not to get into any items on the shelf. Due to my diligent discipline techniques, and stellar ability to be consistent with this discipline at all times, the incident above was not repeated. It was trumped.

When I walked into Mark's room, I found this:

No, the white on the backboard and front rail
is NOT a bad paint job.
A split second later, I saw THIS:

It's very hard not to smile when you see the Joker
from Batman beaming at you with pure Desitin joy.

And then I walked out of the room to keep my daughter from seeing me CRACKING UP.

And to grab my camera.

I'm pleased to announce that there was also a bit of this during the ordeal:

This is her "uh-oh, I think I may be in for it" look.
Did I mention she does get in trouble for this stuff?
Since the sun was shining, my new dishwasher had been installed just hours earlier, and even I can relax enough to know that sometimes you just roll with it, the next logical step was this:

Did you see mom's face when she caught me
with all that white icing?

Sometimes you just gotta have a little fun. Gracie and Mark had a blast, and Grace even showed her brother a trick she'd learned from dad the year before:

When we're older, we're going to be really great at
that "LifeSavers and Toothpicks" game!

Here's hoping that you didn't find yourself or your loved ones in any big messes this week. If you did, I hope that in the end you just smiled and had some good clean fun!

My little angel.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Naptime SASS

Alas, the humor on my poor blog is suffering because I have to actually take care of two children in my "real" life. But trust me, once my computer and I get some serious alone time without anyone climbing on bookcases, fishing in toilets, or doing THIS during naptime:

The garbage bags, which were once
neatly rolled for "easy" dispensing,
are vanilla scented.

Of course, once Gracie had mixed
the vanilla with eau de diaper rash
cream, it sort of ruined the effect.
I'll have a boatload of fantastic stories to tell. If I can remember any of them.

In case the above picture wasn't enough to convince you that I haven't the time to be creative at the moment, here are a few more for your enjoyment. Please remember that there is a real live person on the other end of the camera who gets to clean all of this up after she stops pretending to be a journalist and photographer on her blog.

Sadly, this is relatively clean. And I'm certain my
hairbrush is hiding in there somewhere...

Full Disclosure: Sometimes I don't actually
clean him up...  I just strip him down and
throw him in the tub. It's easier.
I really wish she had decided to dump out the
silverware tray before my dishwasher broke.
Not that it really would have mattered much.
Um, yes. My son is gnawing on a knife in the above picture. Half of you are utterly appalled and the other half are thinking "Whew! Glad it's not just me!"