Monday, March 30, 2009

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Sigh. We've been together for so long. Eighteen years, from my best estimate. We've been through the utility room off the carport in the Florida apartment. And then to the new house we built in Florida. You got loaded onto the moving truck when we moved to New England, and you tolerated a year in a cold and lonely storage unit while we rented our already-equipped apartment in MA before buying the house in NH. For the past 12 years, you've been tucked away quietly in your own little corner of the house. Through two toddlers. And I know they've abused you, causing you to work overtime. Eight loads a week sometimes! And yet you never complained.

But you have been giving me little signs over the last few months. Sometimes just an ounce or so of water on the floor. Sometimes more. Especially when we put you under stress. This winter has been stressful. More heavy jeans and sweatshirts than usual, with four of us in the house now. The puddles have been a little bigger. I'm afraid to leave you alone with a full load of laundry, for fear of turning the laundry room into an indoor pool.

And so, it is time to say goodbye. This weekend, I went out and decided you are being replaced by this slick new guy. He costs twice as much as you did 18 years ago and probably won't last half as long. But he's slick. He requires his own special detergent (although less of it they say). He's incredibly vain, demanding $200 more to come in a hot red color and another $200 to come on a plastic pedestal with a drawer in it. I was tempted, but I resisted. I'm a frugal person. So, he will be in standard white and K will build a platform for him. I'm not sure why he needs all those buttons on the front. Aren't there only two decisions to make - water temperature, and size of load?

Goodbye, dear Frigidaire top-loading washer. It's been good knowing you. Your last full day is Tuesday. Perhaps one more load of dishtowels to remember me by?

Sunday, March 22, 2009


It's been kind of a busy week around here. Last weekend, K decided to do Potty Training in a Day (following the book of a similar name). It went well, but not so great that we felt confident dropping her off at daycare on Monday with just big girl panties! So, we sent her off to school with "Special School Panties" (aka Pull-Ups), and she did pretty good - keeping the pull-ups dry each day. The teacher was even brave enough to have her just do the panties one afternoon and she did fine. Perhaps tomorrow will be the first day without pull-ups at school.

On Monday, EJ had First Communion class in prep for the big event, coming up in mid-May. This past week, they made their own communion wafers.

Thursday evening was the 4th Grade Multicultural Musical at EJ's school. It was fantastic! The kids work so hard for months studying their different countries, learning songs and dances, and making all the artwork for the backdrops. E's class represented Italy (she was a little bummed she didn't get to do China, but I reminded her that there are lots of interesting places in the world!). She was a dancer, played a song on the piano, and was the New Hampshire reporter for the video (part of her video production project). She did a great job!

I really like the giant Mona Lisa that her class created. Mr. T, their art teacher, divided the painting into a giant square grid, and each kid painted their reproduction of the original grid.

Sophie liked the backdrops for China - she even stood in front of the Great Wall in one of them!

Here's EJ's class in Italy. She's in the front way holding a blue scarf.

I bought the girls new spring coats - the beautiful one I bought EJ last year was practically up to her elbows she's grown so much! So, she has a nice new green plaid trench coat, and Sophie has this cute little number with matching hat:

Miss S, who works at daycare, was home this week for Spring Break, so we took advantage of her babysitting services and had a night out last night. It's restaurant week in Boston, but we couldn't decide where to go, so we thought we'd just go wander around. Then, my friend L at work mentioned that Movin' Out (theater show based on Billy Joel's music) was in town. On a whim, I went online Thursday night and bought great seats in the front row of the mezzanine. It was fantastic! I LOVE Billy Joel, and the music was very true to his recordings. This show is all dancing (choreographed by Twyla Tharp), very little spoken dialog, and non-stop music by a band that is elevated on a platform above the stage rather than hidden in the pit. The guy who played the piano was Matthew Friedman, and he was amazing. There was a great story about him in the Boston Herald on Friday, which mentioned that he actually played the piano at Billy Joel's wedding a few years ago! He even did justice to the Prelude of Angry Young Man, in which he was seriously channeling Billy Joel. During the curtain calls, he donned his shades and did New York State of Mind. And knowing how to win the hearts of the audience, he put on a Red Sox cap and changed the words to Boston Red Sox State of Mind! Only two more weeks until opening day. I am bumming...Billy Joel and Elton John will be in Boston this summer, but during our summer vacation in Nova Scotia. Argh. I haven't seen him in concert in years, but I'll have to wait a while longer. And I haven't broken the news to EJ yet, but the Jonas Brothers will be in Boston that week too!
We took the girls for Easter portraits yesterday, so I'll have those back in a week or so to show you.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Sigh. I'm sick of economic bad news and feature stories on how to save money. This one caught my eye today - an article about what is the "right" amount of money that a family should be spending on groceries. I thought it was interesting, because a few months ago, I read another article about how much the average family of four spends on groceries each month. I think it was around $900, which I found shockingly high.

K and I like to cook. A lot. We eat nearly all of our breakfasts at home and most of our dinners, except for one meal out each week and maybe one night of easy takeout (pizza, subs). K eats all of his lunches at home or packs a lunch when he goes to the office. I probably eat lunch three times a week in the cafeteria and pack it the other two days.

We buy a LOT of fresh produce - nearly 1/3 of all our grocery spending goes to produce. Participating in the farmshare this year will raise our produce spending by $500. I expect to save some of that by NOT buying as much at the grocery store. We don't include meat every night, maybe 3 or 4 nights a week, and we try to eat something vegetarian 1-2 nights. I buy store brand for some things, but am convinced that they will never match up with name brands for other things (like, I ONLY eat Ocean Spray cranberry products).

I don't buy many things that are pre-prepared since we like to cook. I don't many things that are in special snack-sized packaging or any other packaging just for the kids. Maybe a dozen things or so fall into this category, all for the sake of convenience - applesauce and fruit cups, kid-flavored yogurt, small pkgs of crasins, cheese sticks...gee, I can't even think of any others! We don't buy much junk food because I would just eat it all! So, very few chips, cookies, etc.

Anyway, I don't know what I would be buying if I spent $900 a month on groceries. That's nearly DOUBLE what I normally spend! K and I use a little budgeting tool called You Need A Budget. It's really just an elaborate set of spreadsheets that does a great job of tracking every penny we spend in about 3 dozen categories. We spent an average of $465/month in the last 12 months on groceries. We spend about $350/month eating out (about $50/each for dinners, $25/each for pizza nights, and about $50/month for my lunches out).

Should I be upgrading my menu at home to include steak and lobster more often? Last night we had a pork roast. Tonight, roast chicken. Pasta tomorrow and ham with cabbage and potatoes/carrots for St. Pat's Day. I think I eat pretty well (too well when I'm counting my Weight Watchers points...)!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What happens when you don't nap

Miss Sophie caught a quick little snooze on the way home from church this morning and decided that was enough, I guess. I tried to get her to nap after lunch, but no luck. While K and I were cooking dinner tonight, she was playing with some magnets on the fridge. K asked her NOT to slide the magnets up and down on the fridge door so it wouldn't scratch. She put her head down to pout, and the next thing we knew...she was out! She snoozed for another 20 minutes before dinner.
I know we lost an hour of sleep last night, but she went to bed a little later than normal too since we went to dinner in Portsmouth (Muddy River Smokehouse - yum!). So, I thought naptime wouldn't be a problem at all. I was wrong.
It was a beautiful weekend here - in the high 50s and low 60s. Yesterday, I went to Boston to do a travel training class for soon-to-be adoptive parents at our adoption agency. It was so nice to see everyone out and walking around. Lots of runners getting ready for the marathon in a few weeks.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


See this map? Guess which area we live in? That's right...that lovely shade of dark purple that is labeled Isolated 15"+. Argh. It's really cold out this morning too - about 20. Which wouldn't be too bad except we had a really mild week - over 60 on Friday! EJ was on school vacation week last week, but my guess is that it will be extended by another day. Her First Communion class for tomorrow has already been cancelled.

This year, we didn't go on our normal getaway to the White Mountains for a few days to go tubing, etc. We decided to wait until the weather is a little warmer and maybe go away for a weekend around the April school vacation week. Except that if we miss more than one day of school, part of April vacation week could be taken away, so we haven't made any plans yet. I would like to go up to Woodstock Vermont for a night or two. There's a great kid's museum near there, the Montshire Museum of Science. And then there's King Arthur's Baker Store. A stroll through the Dartmouth campus in Hanover is always fun, and if we plan it right, the Five College Book Sale!. We'll see.

This week, EJ went to the big kid's program at Sophie's daycare for four days and then to my office on Friday, where she had a blast in the game room at our new building. She played ping pong for the first time in her life, and then had special meetings booked with my boss for a little Guitar Hero Smackdown and the Executive VP for some Wii tennis and baseball. I had to tear her away at the end of the day. It really is a great facility...and it's a Leeds-certified green building. Yesterday, we went with one of her friends to see the Jonas Brothers 3D Concert Experience. Today? We're just sitting here waiting for the snow to start. And I really need to get the rest of the tax documents together.