Friday, April 29, 2011

Right Now

I follow a fantastic photography blog.  I'm a very casual photographer (read: too lazy to really learn to use all the fancy features even my point and shoot has) but I love getting a snapshot of all the little cute moments in my life.  So, when this blog issued a challenge with a contest this morning, I had to participate.  The challenge was to pick up your camera and document what was happening Right Now.  I love it!  

My Right Now was Mr. A, enjoying his first ever chocolate bunny.  The bunny was delicious I'm sure, and combined with Jake and the Neverland Pirates, he was completely oblivious of me and my camera.  

Right Now: Chocolate Bunny, Disney Jr, Mom's annoying camera

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Play Ball!

Finally!  After too many days of up and down, mostly down weather, we're expecting some warm sunshine today!  And, since it's going to rain tomorrow we're definitely going out to play today.  Yesterday, Miss M spent the whole afternoon outside and I forgot her sunscreen so her little cheeks are just red.  I spent the day inside cleaning and what not, so I missed out.  I'm not going to let that happen again.  I think we'll take our rather huge collection of assorted balls outside and see what happens.  We did that last fall and had a ball (HA!  Pun intended, of course.  He, he, he...)  Miss M could still use a little help in the catching and throwing department.  I can tell she loves to play ball games, but isn't very confidant because she doesn't have tons of experience.  Mr. A is also becoming more interested in doing more than just throwing the balls around so it will be fun for him to try some games, too.   Since I never outgrew silly bouncing ball games, this looks to be a super fun day for me, too!

In addition to that we have tumbling and soccer practice and all my usual things to do so...  I'm outta here!  Here's to a fabulous Thursday!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday!

Today is Wednesday.  The third day of the week.  It's also the third day I've successfully stepped toward a new habit.  I read lots of blogs, and one I particularly like is called LifeHacker.  They write about all the thousands of tips and tricks to make your life more productive, fulfilling or simply easier.  Often their posts are about how our bad habits are holding us back.  (Read here, here and here for some really good info about getting ahead through good habits.)  It's not hard for me to look at all the things I'm dissatisfied with in my world and connect them to my own bad habits.  My primary bad habit is spending too much time online.  I've been getting a lot better about spending good time with my kids and keeping up on my housework, but I'm still not where I'd like to be.  I'd like an even cleaner home.  I'd like to get caught up scrapbooking.  I'd like to learn to sew.  I'd like to spend more time writing.  I'd like to spend more time with my dogs.  My two biggest "I'd like to"s are spending even more time with not only my kids but my spouse as well, and getting back into my workout routine.  Yeah, I've scheduled time for all of it, but I'm not very good at getting to it all every day.

The culprit is my mornings.  When I was a teacher I really hated having to grab my coffee and go, then drink it on the run while I got ready to teach.  My spouse was self-employed and worked at home, so even if he was "at work" he was at a quiet, comfortable desk enjoying a leisurely coffee as I ran out the door.  I was jealous.  When I became a stay at home mom, one of my biggest treats was luxuriating with my coffee as I snuggled Miss E every morning.  Well, that was two kids and three cats ago and lounging with coffee as long as I'd like is no longer working for me.  And yet, there I was.  Sipping my coffee till 10ish.  Oh, I'd get the girls off to school making sure we all ate breakfast along the way but really, I wasn't starting my day till 10 and by then I was behind the 8 ball. So, I'm cutting back on coffee/computer time.  I'd like to form the habit of being offline by 9 AM and so far so good!  I still give myself about 30 minutes to just surf the web and enjoy my coffee, but I've also given myself an hour every day for all the other things I'd like to do, and frankly, I feel great about it!  I've spent that time shopping with my mom, working out and playing with Mr. A.  It's been great, and each good morning feeds into a good afternoon as well.

The only thing I've missed out on is writing.  Lately, I sat down to blog after getting the girls off to school, but if I take the time to do that, I'm back to starting my day at 10 o'clock.  Soooo....  I'm trying to figure out where I'll work that in.  I usually have about an hour in my afternoon when Mr. A and Miss M are both resting so that's the logical time to write but that may be a problem if I have trouble getting busy again.  I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get there.  Right now, I have my eyes set on getting my new habit to day 21.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mixers and Chickens and Neighbors - Oh My!

I woke up this morning full of plans.  I had a short list of house work we needed to finish, then I wanted to spend the day doing all the things Miss E always misses out on because she's usually at school.  I thought we'd take the dogs on a nice trail, maybe visit a nearby pond and play some board games.  Turns out, my spouse had a suggestion for us.  He'd have a concrete truck on a job he's doing and we could come watch them pour a sidewalk.  Well, Mr. A has an extreme obsession with tractors and trucks and pretty much every kind of heavy machinery.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see a cement mixer up close.  So, off we went to the job site.  As we left, I told the kids "We're going to see a concrete mixer".  During the 15 minute drive Mr. A shouted "MIXER!" at least 50 times.  He was one excited boy!  We finally arrived and the mixer did not disappoint.  I couldn't even get a good picture of him because he was repeating "MIXER!" over and over.
Waiting for the chickens to appear.

When the sidewalk was poured, the client, who is a friend, offered to let the kids gather eggs from her chickens.  Oh boy!  Another great surprise!  All three kids got to feed the chickens then gather fresh eggs from the nests.  What a treat!  I was frankly surprised when Miss E wasn't grossed out at all as she watched a hen lay an egg - which I was squeamish about the first time I saw it - and then only mildly observed that it was warm when she picked it up.  I was impressed when she wasn't icked-out at all.  Of course the kids wanted to rush home and buy an incubator so we could have baby chicks, but we ate scrambled eggs for lunch instead.

Miss E took this picture of the eggs.  She was very proud of them
Then, as we finished our scrambled eggs, a neighbor came over to play with the girls.  The three of them have played all day, both at our house and hers.  I was able to get a good leg up on tomorrows house work, and even have a real, uninterrupted conversation with my spouse!  Wow, what a treat!  And now, I can use today's fun plans tomorrow!  I feel so ahead of the game.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yeah! Frozen Waffles!

Yesterday, I asked Ms. E to write our shopping list so we could grocery shop today.  As I dictated it to her, she asked if the eggs were for dying.  She asked if we could get carrots for the Easter Bunny.  Otherwise, she wasn't very interested in our grocery needs.  But when I said "frozen waffles" she yelled "Yeah!  I LOVE frozen waffles!"  And ran to tell Miss M we were buying frozen waffles.  I had to laugh because it's not as if frozen waffles are rare around here.  We just happen to be out of them at the moment, which really is rare.  I guess they've really missed their waffles.

So, we are planning to grocery shop today.  We're also planning to get our guest room ready for my mom, who will be visiting for Easter.  The kids LOVE helping to get ready for guests. They help with dusting and putting fresh sheets on the bed.  Of course they really just like the novelty of being in our little guest apartment because they aren't allowed out there by themselves but hey, if I get help in the bed making department, who am I to question their motives? And after that, we're going to keep plugging away at the house work and yard work that just always needs doing and finding fun things to fit in between. 

Oh, and I had so much fun with yesterday question about sunscreen (which
mostly got answered over on my personal facebook page - Neutrogena was the most recommended  product but Mary Kay and Avon also got kudos) that I want to ask another!  What do you all do with your Easter Eggs once they're dyed?  I plan to let each kid dye a dozen of their own eggs because any less just doesn't seem like enough.  The down side is then I'll have three dozen hard boiled eggs laying around.  We'll eat a few and make some into potato salad.  We'll possibly roll a few if we're ambitious enough to find a suitable a hill, but otherwise we're going to have a lot of colorful dog treats.  I'd love it if you'd share (in the comments please - it's more fun for any readers who aren't my faceboook friend) what you do with your Easter eggs. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

*** Spring Break!*** Get Yer Party On!

Ha Ha!  The title is a joke.  Today is the first day of Miss E's spring break, but we're hardly getting our party on.  We're actually planning to get some cleaning on!  We have yard work to do, and house work, and even a little homework.  It shouldn't be too hard to motivate the kids to help though.  Miss E informed me that we need to clean our yard up so it's nice for the Easter Bunny.  "Who would want to hide Easter eggs in a junky yard anyway?" was her justification.  So, I think we'll start in the yard today! 

That brings me to a question about sunscreen.  When I was a kid we never even thought of sunscreen unless we were going swimming or camping.  Lots of parents today don't even let their kids leave the house with out a full complement of SPF products.  I don't want to completely block every solar ray from my children's skin, but we do spend a lot of time outside and fair skinned Miss M has already turned brighter red than I like.  I'm looking for a product I can use every day that doesn't smell or feel like typical sunscreen.  I've considered the face lotion I use because it comes with a 15 SPF, smells and feels nice and comes in a pretty bottle.  (Pretty bottles are very important to five year olds you know.)  But, it's kinda pricey and I'd like a bit higher SPF.  If there's a good alternative out there, I want it.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Me and My Timer

In my heart, I'm a lazy person.  I value and respect hard work.  But gosh, it is hard to get that ball in motion sometimes.  Maybe I should say I'm not a good self-starter.  If I'm given a task I'm pretty decent about knocking it out.  If I'm in charge though, it's just too easy to think "Ah, I'll do it tomorrow," and we all know tomorrow never comes to that train of thought.  Some days (like yesterday) are better than others, but when the doldrums hit they can be killers.  As a teacher, I could sometimes see the class needed some motivation. I'd make a game of what we were doing and we'd be happily done in a jiffy.  Making a game of work is actually pretty easy to do when you're working with kids, no matter the task.  It's harder when you're working on your own.  That's when I turn to my timer.  Timers are so useful when you want to know how long something will take, or how much longer you have with any particular activity.  Timers can also be very motivating.  FlyLady recommends setting a timer for 15 minutes and cleaning like mad during that time.  When the timer rings, you're done - at least for now.  Heck, anyone can clean for 15 minutes, no matter how tired they are.  You'd be amazed at how much you can accomplish if you really focus for those measly minutes.  I've been trying to set my timer when I do not want to do one more thing.  I've been setting it to tell me when it's time to get off the computer and play with the kids.  I set it to remind me to take Mr. A to the potty.  In a few weeks I'll set it to remind me to turn off the water in the garden.

I have a bunch of timers.  There's the basic kitchen timer which I let the kids drag around the house for their tasks. I often set it for 10 minutes and ask them to see how much of a specific area they can get straightened up before the timer goes off.  It works especially well for Miss M who likes knowing her work time is finite.
I also have a digital kitchen timer which is equally handy. It has a nicer alarm, but is harder for the kids to use.  I use this one when I'm the one in charge of the timer.

Miss E has a book mark timer she uses to track her reading time.   I ask her to set it when she's having a hard time settling down to finish homework.  Promising she only has to work 10 minutes at a time makes it easier to just do it.

The timer usually turn to, however, is the most convenient one.   I started buying this watch before I had kids.  I liked tracking my dog walk times, and I liked it's indiglo night light feature.  I quickly learned to love having such a simple timer and alarm.  I used it almost daily as a teacher.  And it's invaluable when you're potty training and need a regular reminder to take a toddler to the bathroom.  I've bought three of them over about 10 years and dread the day I won't be able to find a new one.  I wear this watch most days anyway because it's very comfortable.  They aren't the prettiest watches I own, but I love them anyway.

The only down side of a timer, is that when I'm really just NOT in the mood, the brrring, beep, or buzz makes me want to scream.  I even switch watches some days because I'm tired of feeling like a slave to the beep and am maybe making an excuse to ignore my To Do list.  That's a personal hiccup though, and heck, don't we all have contrary days when we just don't want to do anything?

Uh oh...  There goes my timer.  Time to finish my laundry so I can play a little game before dinner.

BANG!!! ....fizzle...

Oh boy, did I start today on the right foot!  I woke up on time, had no problem prying myself away from facebook to get Miss E ready for school, even wound up skipping that third cup of coffee because I just didn't feel like sitting down to enjoy it.  I got a really great start on my morning basics and my daily chore.  Then I had to stop and put out a fire.  Miss M just would not be happy about getting ready for tumbling.  Every piece of clothing I suggested was wrong, for one reason or another, and I wouldn't allow the nicer school dress she really wanted.  By the time we got that worked out and out the door to tumbling, I was exhausted.  Forty five minutes later, it was all I could do to stir up some mac-n-cheese for lunch.  I really wanted to sit down and have that third coffee, but Miss E's school called.  Her allergies had kicked in and were kicking her butt.  So, off to school I went to bring her home early.  Finally, we're home and I'm giving myself a few minutes to veg and recharge.  Phew...  In ten minutes I'm coming back to write the post I had intended today about my love/hate relationship with my timer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's a Gold Star Day! (A Mental Plan Still Helps Me Focus)

One big reason I started this blog was to give myself some structure and keep my real priorities in sight.  It's been helpful in many ways.  Even on the days I don't take the time to blog, I do try to make a mental plan.  Last night I was thinking over my day and what needed to happen today.  By this morning, I had a good idea of how I should to spend my time. I got the girls off to their schools, came home and worked out just as I'd planned.  Then I wanted to hang out with Mr. A when it was just the two of us.  I've been trying to do more small motor skill activities with him because I don't know what's normal for active little boys his age, but I know he's behind where his sisters were.  He isn't interested in coloring, writing or painting at all.  Instead, we've been doing a lot of puzzles, sorting lots of shapes and playing Legos.  All of which have been illuminating.  What he wants to do, he does well.  The other stuff, not so much.  I've also been teaching him how to dress and undress himself (potty training has gone nowhere so I decided to help him be independent in other ways first).  I noticed that he has a hard time understanding about gripping his clothes to pull them on or off.   He doesn't hold on tightly enough so the clothes just slip through his hands.  He laughs and laughs at me when I try to help.  Today, I decided to break out the Play Doh and use it to strengthen his hands.  The poor kid usually has to compete for the doh with his sisters and actually gets very little chance to really handle it.  He did take a while to adjust to the idea that he could do whatever he wanted.  We practiced breaking it into pieces, squeezing it between fingers, rolling it in our hands and squashing shapes on the table.  He got really good at squashing it, and I thought that was decent progress.  We had about 30 minutes to play, and that was plenty of time.  He was ready to move on to something else.  I was pleased with myself.  I spent the morning exactly the way I'd planned.  Now I need to get moving on my afternoon.  I still have my Morning Basics and Daily Chore waiting and Miss M is also eagerly waiting for me to play school with her.  I'm glad I had a plan to help me focus.  I think I'm having a really great day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sharing is Good!

Good morning!  Happy Saturday!  Today I want to share a cute blog that has been very useful for me this spring.  It's called Oopsey Daisy! and she (Alison) has lots of fun craft ideas to share.  My favorite thing is a feature called Mommy School.  Alison creates darling preschool learning packets around a theme and then offers them FOR FREE!!!  I can't tell you how many preschool materials I bought for Miss E but it was a disgusting amount for one little girl.  However, after using them all twice with the girls, I'm not enthusiastic about breaking them out for Mr. A.  I'm also reticent to spend more money on them because I went so crazy before.  Mommy School packets are definitely something I would have paid for in the past so to have them free is completely awesome. I downloaded an Easter pack this week, and although Mr. A refuses to hold any kind of writing instrument for more than two seconds so even scribbling is out of the question, he likes to look at the pictures with me and we talk about every little thing.  Miss M also has fun with them even though she's more or less moved on from letter pages and such.  If you have preschoolers, I highly recommend you check out Mommy School on Oopsey Daisy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Turkeys and Flowers - A Real Plan for Friday?

Ok, I spent my blogging time early this morning writing about the strange dreams I had Wednesday night.  Then I ran Miss M to preschool and Mr. A and I shopped on behalf the Easter Bunny.  Now I'm back to write today's plan.  I thought we'd come home and play in the sandbox because Mr. A had such a hard time at the store - looking at all those fun Easter toys and me not letting him play with them.  I eventually gave in and found a little dump truck he could have today.  Now that we're home though, he's being a total turkey.  He threw his new truck and he's whining and grouchy so I'm going to fix him a little snack and take it from there.  Ah...  Thank goodness for flexibility.

Playing at Grandma's, where there is no internet, no cable TV and the kids are happy as clams.
This afternoon, I'm going to make sure to spend some extra time playing outside with the kids.  One of the personal faults I'm trying hard to improve upon is the example I'm setting regarding enjoying being out and about just moving.  I spend A LOT of time playing on the computer or watching the news as I fold laundry or whatever.  I've seen my kids gravitating to computer games more and more and I'd like to nip it in the bud before it's a real problem.  I don't need to read the volumes of research to know we all feel better if we unplug for a while.  If we're able to get outside it's even better.  I've been working on spending even a little less free time with screens, but man, it's hard!  I've made such a habit of it...  I have been doing better to just turn on some music while I do my chores.  We've all  been looking forward to nicer weather so we could just go hang outside.  We have a few early perennials in bloom and I'm trying to think of some simple little activity we could do with them.  Right now I'm thinking I'll just hand the girls some cameras and see what they come up with.  That's always as fun activity, especially when I follow through and print their pictures for them.  A print is so nice to hold in your hand, and they're always so proud to see their own photos concretely.  Whatever we end up doing though, I'm determined that it won't involve a screen!

Dreams That Teach

Miss E had a soccer game on Wednesday.  There was a bitter wind, and the other moms and I huddled together, wishing each 20 minute half wasn't so long.  There were other games going on all around us and lots of kids running around everywhere.  At one point, another mom noticed a little, TINY, couldn't be much older than 1, girl wandering around on her own.  At first we laughed and said "must be a dad watching her" but as we kept our eyes on her, we looked for her family.  No one seemed to be missing her.  The poor little thing just wandered around, obviously looking for her mom.  We watched her for a long time, and when she started heading for a road I shepherded her back toward our game.  Another mom and I tried talking to the poor thing hoping she could point out the direction she'd come from or something that could help us find where she belonged.  No luck.  After at least 15 minutes her mom comes walking back up the fields with two older kids in tow.  She didn't seem to be missing anyone, and almost incidentally saw the baby.  The mom didn't even walk over to where her daughter was standing near us she just yelled "Come on!" and the girl started following.  I was shocked.  I joked "Well, she's a much more relaxed parent than I am" and we all made a few snide comments at her expense.  Fast forward to me, about midnight.  I was asleep, and dreaming.  I dreamed I had my family at Sea World.   We were frantically looking for Mr. A  In my dream we ran everywhere, asked everyone and finally found him.  That dream melded into another where we were at Disneyland, and Mr. A was lost.  I ran everywhere, asked everyone, and finally found him.  Then another dream - Mr. A was lost in another part of Disneyland...  Basically, I spent the whole night searching for my two year old.  By morning, I was exhausted and chastened.  Moral of the story - The little lost girl at the soccer game certainly needed more caring supervision than what we saw.  However, I don't know the mom's story.  I don't know what took her all the way across the fields, or what made her seem so callous toward a helpless child.  Everyone has a story, and from this woman's behavior, I'd guess hers wasn't a very nice one.  I'm not making excuses for her.  Really, treating a child like that was not only cruel but dangerous and I sincerely hope that behavior was an exception for a truly caring mom.  I am thinking I should keep my snide remarks to myself.  It really is unbelievably easy for these little ones to slip away, even from the most conscientious parents.  Being catty only drags everyone down.  And it makes me have bad dreams all night which make me feel guilty about being spiteful.   Lesson learned.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Short- but That's Not All, Folks!

I'm checking in super fast because I am trying to write a little every morning.  However, yesterday wasn't nearly as productive as it could have been. I still have a rather large To Do list.  My reward for finishing all of yesterday's list will be getting to check back in here and write about the crazy dreams I had last night.  Of course, all that will have to happen around today's regular happenings, including tumbling and soccer practice and today's chore list.  Hope to be back soon!  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Love Homework!

When I was a teacher, I sent homework twice a week.  It was always review work and I mainly sent it so parents could see what we were working on in class.  Oh, I'd occasionally send something like a big project or report or just something fun, but mostly it was the dreaded worksheet.  I didn't like it then but I wasn't creative (ambitious?) enough to come up with something better.  This year, Miss E has a Gifted and Talented certified teacher and I LOVE the homework she sends!  We still get a worksheet or two every week, but we also get three or four fun activities that help extend their learning.  Monday's homework had them looking for specific shapes they could eat.  That is surprisingly hard when it comes to cones and pyramids.  Tuesdays homework asks them to create a presentation about animals.  Miss E brought home a two page list of really fun ideas, and only one was to write a report.  Writing an animal report would have been my whole requirement, but not this teacher.  She's really engaging the kids, and I love it!

That brings me to our fun plans today.  We have a HUGE To Do list, so I'm looking to kill two birds where I can.  Miss E wants to teach our dogs some new tricks for her presentation.  She tried working with them yesterday with a friend, but the dogs were so wound up they had no idea she was trying to do more than play fetch.  We have Border Collies and although ours are extremely mellow for Borders, they don't get enough exercise or play so if they think you're playing with them they almost vibrate with excitement.  We have to really wear them out before they'll calm down enough to listen to the kids.  Miss M and I will try to wear them out with some fetch and possibly a long walk.  With any luck they'll be ready to for a few tricks by the time Miss E gets home.  Miss E gets help with her homework, I'll get to spend some fun time with each of the girls, and the dogs, too!  It will be a win/win/win!

Miss E, playing soccer with our dog Ginny and one of her brothers.
Oh, and I didn't forget Mr. A.  That little turkey spent his play time yesterday throwing his toys ALL over the play room.  This morning, while Miss M is at preschool, he and I are going to put it all away.  He's a good little helper, and he thinks it's great fun if I turn on a little music.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Small Change of Pace

How I started to feel after a winter's worth of identical days.
Normally, our mornings are pretty much exactly like the morning before.  I get Miss E off to school, then get breakfast for Mr. A and Miss M, then get Miss M off to preschool if it's Monday, Wednesday or Friday.  Next, I figure out what has to absolutely get done that day and set about doing it.  The weeks flew by and I had no idea where they went. The days ran together because they were all so identical.  Honestly, I think that's why I took such an extended vacation from blogging here.  I started to feel each day was just so exactly like the day before, and writing about it just made it that much more maddening.  It's true that when you have kids in school your days and weeks are very dictated by the school schedule, and typically one day is much like the last for pretty much everyone (except Richard Branson - he's quite the free spirit) but it had been so long since I switched things up that I really was sinking into a nasty rut.  It was time for something new, even if it was just something little.  So, I signed Miss M up for a tumbling class for the mornings she's not in preschool.  It was something I've been meaning to do for a LONG time, and it feels good to have finally stopped procrastinating.  She LOVES it, and gives my brain just enough novelty to keep it going till summer break. 

All that said, today's plans kick off with a break in routine.  Miss M has preschool class pictures this morning!  If I sound excited about that, I am!  I love all those cutie little preschool types crowding into a photography studio and trying not to fidget while the poor photographer works to get them to all to look at the camera and smile at once.  It's fun to watch and then in a week or so we'll have another cute little keepsake picture for Miss M.  I'm so in love with class pictures.  They are such cute little reminders off all the fun times kids have at school with their first friends.  I can still look at my own kindergarten class picture and smile at the sweet memories.  Gosh, I'm a nostalgic softie!  Then we get to dash off to tumbling!  After that our whole morning will be gone and I'll have tons if house work (and facebooking) left on my plate.  Miss M and Mr. A will have some rest time while I work (and facebook).  Then, later in the day, I've been working to give the kids a little one on one time before I cook dinner in the afternoons.  Even if I just look at homework or do a super quick puzzle, the kids seem to relax and have a better attitude while I'm preoccupied in the kitchen.  So, that's my plan for today.  What are you doing today?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Orphan Blog

Neglecting the blog, having fun with the kids.
I confess, I'm a neglectful blog mother.  I started out with a bang on this little baby last fall, but I took a break to accommodate the insanity that is my life during the winter.  Then, I had a hard time recovering my zeal for mommy blogging.  Oh, I was still planning - especially meals and some special fun with the kids each day - and I have been fluttering along with The FlyLady but I just wasn't in the mood to write about it.  So I didn't.  I also considered moving the whole thing over to Word Press.  I decided I wanted to learn more about Word Press before I made that commitment, and I'm SO glad I did!  I started a little blog over there where I just fiddled around and tried to figure things out.  I had some fun but I spent WAY more time just trying to make things the way I wanted than I'd like.  I just want to write - not reinvent the wheel!  I decided not to move.  I did learn a few fun things that I suddenly wanted to implement here.  Did you notice you can now follow Stay At Home Mom Plans directly on facebook?  Networked Blogs is a good thing.  Also, I've been experimenting with layout design, and depending on how much time I decide to devote to it, you may just see a new design around here soon!  Anyway, that's where I've been.  Here's to the return of Mommy Blogging Zeal!  Huzzah!