Monday, March 4, 2013

She Melts My Heart, I Tell Ya

Putting Alyssa to bed last night.  I was laying in bed with her, and I usually ask her if she had a good day, and go over the events of the day.

"So, how was your day?"
 "What did you do today?"
"I seen Massin" (Madyson - her friend)
"Oh, do you love Madyson"
"Is she your best friend?"
"No?  Well, who is your best friend?"
"Umm, You."
It was so sweet.  My heart melted and tears welled up in my eyes.  I know that one day, probably not too long from now, she will come home and tell me about Madyson, or another kid from school, and how they are her best friend.  But at that moment, and many moments while she is still small, I am her world.  What a great privilege I have.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Date with my Girl

It was just Alyssa and I on Friday.  Chris wasn't coming home for lunch and the baby I keep during the week wasn't here, so I wanted to take advantage of one-on-one time with her. 

It's crazy how I'm a stay at home mom, and still struggle to find time to just stop and enjoy life with my daughter.  I mean, isn't that the point?  This August, we are planning on putting her in preschool.  Not just day care, where I can keep her with me when I feel like it. This is real school.  This is the school she will be attending in kindergarten and beyond.  I took her to the school yesterday because she has been begging to go, so I figured I could take her to see it, and I could get some info on their 3 year old program while I was there. 

I'm really torn about it, to be honest.  I want her to go to this particular school.  It is not private, but it is charter.  Most kids that go there wait for years before they can get in.  The best way to guarantee her entrance is to take her when she turns 3.  I have someone who can hook me up with a spot for her, so it's ideal for me to just take her.  But at the same time - she's my baby.  I hate the thought that when she is enrolled, I can't decide to just keep her for 1 or 2 days a week.  When the rest of the school has early release days, she is stuck there until 3 pm.  I know it's really the best option, but it just seems so final.

Anyways.... so I have been feeling like I only have a few months to really enjoy mommy-daughter time, and want to make the most of it.  I don't want her early memories to just be of me cleaning, or paying bills, or being on the computer, I want her to remember me taking her to the park or the library, or Disney, whatever.  So I have really been making a point to do those things now.

On Friday, I decided that I wanted a stay-in-Auburndale sort of day.  The weather was perfect.  It was warm under the sun, but cool in the shade, and the breeze was blowing just right.  I knew I was going to take her to the A-dale park, and really let her blow off steam.  First we went to the Auburndale Pizza Company.  They sell pizza by the slice, and have a nice little outside area (that is actually screened in, so it keeps the bugs away).  We sat out there and enjoyed our pizza and antipasto.

Then we headed to the park.  I love this park.  It's divided in 2 sections - one for 2-5 year olds, and the other for 5-12 year olds.  The only problem is that the big kids seem to migrate to the little kid section, and they run all around them and aren't careful.  But during a weekday when school is in, it's not a problem at all.  Of course now Alyssa wants to go to the big kid side, so I really can't complain about it at all.  I have a hard time getting her to play with the other kids out there.  She is so shy.  A little girl came up to her and said "Hey, do you want to play with us?"  Alyssa very frankly says "Nah".  I don't want to be too pushy with her, but I did finally talk her into playing.  She ended up having the best time, and didn't want to leave.  She also overcame her fear of going up the ladder, which is really high, and going down the big slide which is also very high, and dark inside.  Once she went on it the first time, there was no talking her into anything else out there.

After that we went to the public library.  I have not hung out in a library since I was in Jr High.  We both got our library cards.  Of course, I picked out a cute little bee card, and she picked out an adult design.  This library is cool, because there is a separate room for kids.  This way they can go in, and don't have to worry as much about being quiet.  They have computers there with learning games.  She thought she was really cool playing on a real computer.  I will be blogging more about this library, because I learned recently that they have a kid's program every Thursday with crafts and music and stuff.    Plus it is just for 3-5 year olds, so it will be nice for her to get to know a few other kids her age.  I am looking forward to meeting some new people.

Of course she would pick up the book with a scorpion eating a lizard on the cover

I love days like Friday.  I hope for many more like this before she goes to school.  Of course there is always spring break and summers. 

What types of things do you do with your kids?  Leave a comment telling me all about it!


Monday, February 25, 2013

My New Front Porch!

On my last post, I told you about the plans for our front porch. Originally this space was just another flower bed.  Well, maybe not just another flower bed, more like a jungle, with it's own ecosystem.  After just a few months of living here, we tore our the flower beds and just had a plot of dirt where the plants used to be.  We knew all along that we wanted a porch there, but had no idea how to go about it.  We knew we wanted pavers, but were overwhelmed by the costs and work involved with that.  We have thought about pea gravel, cement, cement molds, you name it. 

We ended up settling on these 16x16 pavers.  We love them because they are all one piece, which means less work and less up-keep than the smaller ones.  Plus, they have deep rivets in them so you can put the sand in them, making them look like we worked a lot harder than we did.  (PS... shout out to my father in law, Bobby for all that he did to help us this weekend, as well as my mom for helping take care of the kid, and carting me to Lowe's for some extra stuff we needed.)

Sorry in advance for not having step by step pics. 

Here is what we did to make it happen:

1) Prep the ground.  This was actually done a long time ago, when we pulled all of the bushes out, thus leaving an empty pallet.

1a)  Part of prepping the ground also includes leveling it, and packing the dirt to avoid shifting.  They make tools that you can rent to make the job a little easier, but my FIL and Chris did it the old school way, by pounding a cinder block over and over again. 

2) Paver sand base.  We didn't have to do a lot of this since we live in FL, and already have sandy soil.  But the good thing about the special paver sand is that its more like crushed rock, will likely prevent everything from sinking and moving around.

3)  Paver base.  Not sand.  This is like a thick styrofoam that keeps everything level.  It also won't absorb water, which is good. 

4) Pavers.  The pavers we used have a similar pattern to them, but not exactly the same.  So we were able to make them look a little more hodge-podge than if we just used straight bricks.  Really, how you do it is up to you, just as long as you keep with it, and don't change your mind in the middle of your project.

5)  Paver sand base.... again.  This is going to keep the pavers from shifting more, and also makes it look like cement between bricks.  This step isn't all the way complete for us.  We put some down, and wet it and let it dry, and we are going to be mixing some sand and Seal-Krete to put in between the cracks, so that we aren't sweeping up sand and re-packing for the rest of our lives. 

6) Seal-Krete.  When the last step is done, we will be putting Seal-Krete over the whole porch to keep the whole thing sealed.  It's best to do this, so the cement stays dry, and doesn't wear down or have mold issues. This will also help keep grass and weeds from showing up between the pavers.

7) Decorate.  I don't have it just the way I want it just yet.  We will likely be adding some lighting above the porch, and maybe a nice wall sculpture.


Notes:  Pavers are heavy.  I don't mean like over time, they are difficult to handle, or maybe you will be sore the next day.  These things are like 40 lbs.  It was quite comedic when we were buying them, and trying to get them through the store, onto the truck and off again.  Not to mention pinched fingers. 

In case you wonder:  The pavers, paver base and sand cost us about $450 for a little bigger than 7x10 area.  The pavers were $4.96 a piece, or $2.68 per square foot. 

I don't regret our decision to do this at all.  Last night we sat out their with my parents, watching Alyssa play through the grass while the sun went down, and the orange blossoms were potent!

One more thing to add.  Over in the opposite corner, we had a sort of straggly plant there.  I have always wanted a Bougainville, but it is super thorny, so we would always be trying to get Alyssa to stay away from it, and pruning can be a bear, not to mention very painful.  I was at Lowes the other day and found this Bleeding Hearts Vine.  It resembles, and will continue to resemble a Bougainville, without the thorns.  Just a little tip from me, because I was excited about it.  The only bad thing is that it is pretty picky.  It doesn't like moist soil, but also doesn't like the sun.  I put it there, because it is the perfect spot, and I'm hoping I can keep it going.  And the trellis that I am using was only $8.  Score!


Friday, February 22, 2013

A Thorn in My Side, and a True Thorn in my Side

I'm so excited for this next month.  As I shared in my last post, we will be overhauling the backyard.  We are putting in a fire pit/living room area, and building a deck for a dining room area.  I have been pinning mosquito repelling plants like crazy so that we can be out there and not become dinner.  But, something that I forgot to mention is that we are also creating a front porch sitting area by our front door. 

One of my dreams of living somewhere that my kids would grow up is to have a front porch so they can play outside in the front with the neighborhood kids.  One of my fondest memories growing up was playing with the neighbors at dusk when the fireflies were out.  My parents were chit-chatting with their parents, and we were just enjoying life, being kids. **Rabbit Trail Alert** Then we would go inside, take our baths for the night and go to bed when our hair was dry. Sometimes we would go to bed when it was still dusk.  I thought it was crazy to go to bed so early, but it must have been comforting, because now, sometimes at dusk, I just want to go to bed while I can still see the light through the blinds, and whisk away to dream land.

Well, that was Ohio.  In Florida, our dusk is only about 10 minutes long, compared to about 3-4 hours on a cooler Ohio summer night.  We also don't have fire flies here.  But, I have made a home here in Florida, so I have to make do with what I have.  I may not have dusk or fireflies, but that doesn't mean that I can't make some of those same memories in this neighborhood with my kids. 

Here is a picture of the house when we first moved in.  Notice the jungle that was our front flower beds.
Those flower beds took months to clear out.  MONTHS!  I was going to try to keep some of it, and just cut it back, but there was a very thick bed of ferns that had to come out.  The more I tried to pull them out, the more I realized how in-the-way the bigger bushes were.  We ended up pulling out absolutely everything and starting from scratch.  We ended up changing the shape of the flower bed, which also took a lot of work. I never realized how strong I could be until I had to dig up 100 pounds worth of bush and ferns out of the earth.  I'm like Wonder Woman, only less 80's.

We have also made a few other changes to the front. We painted the whole house.  It's hard to tell in that pic, but the house was pink.  Everyone in the neighborhood hated it, not to mention that it had been years since it was last done, and there was mildew stains and hard water stains from the irrigation system.  It was really terrible. 

My father in law came a couple weeks ago and installed gutters.  That was a huge blessing, because we had a water fall where we wanted to put the porch, and knew that we would regret laying pavers if we didn't put those up first.

Here are a couple pics of the area that we will be putting the porch.  Please don't judge me for the weeds.  The fact is that we have dug weeds out of that area several times, and there is nothing protecting the ground from them right now.  That will change this weekend.

I will keep you up to date on all of the progress over the next month. 


I'm going to get serious with you for a minute.  My brother posted this video on Facebook the other day.  I don't care who you are.  If you are a kid, or a teen, or a parent or future parent, you need to watch this. 

Bullying is a real epidemic amongst kids.  I myself was bullied terribly in school.  I have overcome in a lot of ways, but the pain is still real.  Kids these days are killing themselves over what people are saying to them.  It's not something to joke about, and no kid, no matter what they look like, who they choose to love, how much money their parents have or what they did in the past should deserve to be bullied.  Yesterday was an extremely emotional day as I first watched this, then saw in the comments someone try to make light of the bullying situation.  That particular person just happened to be from my past, and someone I associated with my bullies.  When I called him out on it, he basically told me that I deserved it because I didn't stand up for myself.  Needless to say, I was a wreck yesterday. 

I won't keep you any longer but do want to say, please, please pay attention to your kids.  If you think your kids seem depressed, struggling in school, not playing/hanging out with their friends, please talk to them about bullying, because they very well could be a victim.  On the other hand, if you think your child could be a bully, please put an end to it right away. 

Have a kid or teenager in your life?  Tell them why you love them, and how great you think they are.  That could be just what they need that day, or as a reminder for their days ahead.

If you yourself are being bullied, please know that it does get better.  When you leave high school, the people that you were around, will all go their separate ways.  You will grow up.  You will learn who you are, and accept who you are.  They will grow up and mature.  I would have never believed it, but 99% of the people that bullied me, I don't know where they are, or what they are doing this day.  The adult world is so much different.

If you have any questions about bullying, please refer to this website.  It will give you some insight on signs to watch for, plus what to do in the situations.