Category Archives: That’s Life

Our Unplanned Landscaping Project


I have lived in my house for twelve years and during that time I had a love/hate relationship with my 30-foot tall Chinese Elm Tree. Love, for the summertime shade it provided during 100 degree heat. Hate, for the millions of horrible little leaves it would drop every single fall and throughout winter. This past December, however, ended my roller-coaster relationship all together – it fell during a severe windstorm.

On a cold December morning I woke up early, went into the living room, and turned up the blinds like I always do. I could not believe my eyes. This gargantuan tree had fallen over during the night without me, my husband, or my son hearing it. The tree had fallen square on our lawn and missed my son’s room by a couple of feet. It really was a miracle that there was hardly any damage. I say hardly, because the damage that was done was mostly underground, and we hadn’t a clue anything was wrong at that point.

About a week later, when the main trunk was removed, we realized what damage had occurred. Our sprinkler system was history. This tree that had been decades old had wound thick roots all around the PVC pipes and ripped them to oblivion when it fell. In addition, all of our brick work had been destroyed and the shade we relied on so much in the summertime was gone, meaning we’d have to find some other way to help our home stay cool.

We are in the first phase of our unplanned landscaping project – installing a new sprinkler system. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been to OSH or Home Depot to buy PVC pipe fittings and sprinkler heads. Did you know that there are different ratings for PVC fittings? Schedule 40 PVC pipe fittings, schedule 80 PVC pipe fittings….it kinda gave me a headache to try and sort out what we needed. Thank God my husband did all of that. We’d have a new rock garden if it wasn’t for him.

With our pipes buried and sprinkler heads adjusted, we are finally about ready have sod planted. It will be so nice to have real grass to walk on instead of dirt – and fewer muddy footprints tracked through our living room. In the next stage, we’re looking at getting brick work done so we’ll have some sort of sitting area available to us again, but we’re not sure how that will fit into our budget. Maybe we can do it ourselves and save a few bucks. The one item we really want to get, even if it means not having brick work, is a metal pergola. Even though it is only Spring, our house can heat up rapidly. We will probably go with one we found online and call up a few friends to lend a hand installing it.

Even though our landscaping project was unplanned, it has given us the opportunity to remake our yard into something new – which is an exciting prospect!

Double The Pleasure, Double The Fun

Toddler Tollhouse Cookies


For the last two years I’ve been fitting in what little baking I do during my son’s naps and after bedtime. Waiting to start baking until 8 p.m. after a long day of chasing a toddler can be a little challenging. Last week I decided he was old enough to “help” mommy in the kitchen and see what it’s like to make cookies. I pulled up his little stepstool, got my ingredients and tools together, and said a little prayer that my kitchen wouldn’t be totally destroyed.

To my surprise, my son stood on his stool patiently while I creamed eggs and butter, sifted flour and leavening, and mixed it all together with a hand beater. He particularly enjoyed helping dump cups full of chocolate chips into the bowl, although at times I think he would have been just as happy to eat the measuring cups!

After scooping out the cookies we put them in the oven and watched them melt and mold into our Tollhouse treats.

We also had cookie dough left over, so we stored it in containers for freezing. I think after this experience I’ll be doing more baking with my son at my side.



This is what I was greeted with when I turned around after unlocking my front door. The Peek-A-Boo King had magically disappeared from his stroller. Where’s Jack?

Apparently, after a few games, Jack only needs partial use of the blanket in order to make himself disappear completely.

Eventually Jack so good at disappearing he can simply vanish from my sight by closing his eyes. Thankfully, after a few seconds he opened his eyes and BOOM he magically reappeared. I have no idea how I would have found him otherwise.


Hey, It’s Cheaper Than Buying Her a Pony

Here You Leave Today And Enter The World of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy

A year ago around this time, we took the plunge and bought Disneyland Annual Passports.  We couldn’t wait to spend the year with Mickey.  Since then we’ve spent many at day in the parks, I lost count somewhere around the 15th visit.  Seriously, I was determined to get our money’s worth.  We’ve loved every minute (aside from a few isolated temper tantrums) and have made family memories we’ll treasure for a lifetime. We recently got a postcard in the mail letting us know our renewal date was approaching, so it was decision time.  Passports aren’t cheap and now that the twins are three, we’ll need five instead of three.

As a reasonably frugal family we could think of plenty of reasons not to pony up, but in the end we did just that.  It may mean we don’t take a big family vacation this year, or eat out as often.  Yet the benefits of having the passes made it practically a no-brainer.  We can escape into a world of fantasy for the whole day or just a few hours.  We can take it slow, enjoy the parade, the shows, the people-watching – and not feel like we have to get on every ride.  There’s always another Disney day.  It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how stressful my week has been, whatever grown-up worries are weighing on my mind, once we walk through the gates it all seems to disappear.  It’s all forgotten and we can spend quality time with the kids, seeing the wonder through their little eyes.

Look – now I don’t have to buy her an actual pony!  Think of all the money we’re saving on horse equipment, boarding and food.  Her brothers already eat like horses as it is.

Are my kids a bit spoiled by getting to go to Disneyland all the time?  A little perhaps, but we don’t go all out on every trip with treats, souvenirs and the like.  We’ve discovered one of the parks cheapest and most collectible souvenirs, pressed coins.  All three kids have their own pressed penny book and they add a a couple to their collection on each trip.  They’re happy and we’ve spent nothing more than the change in the bottom of my purse.  I know someday they’ll probably have better things to do than spending day after day at Disneyland with mom and dad, but I don’t see the magic wearing off any time soon.  These memories we’re making?  They’re priceless.