Call me narcissist if you must but this blog is all about ME. I have another blog about my kids, whom I love and adore writing about. But I was Nicole a long time before I was mom and I don't intend to give up being Nicole overnight.

You can read all about my kids at Naptime Optional.
Or you can follow along on our Arizona adventure on my 365 project blog.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thanks Mom!!!!!

I know my mom prays daily for me and my little family. And I know that her prayers There have been specific times in my life that I a "close call" occurs and I KNOW (no doubt in my mind!!!) that the tragic incident was avoided because my mom prayed for me that morning!

The other day I had such an occurrence. I was driving along, singing to the radio, all 3 kids in the car with me. As I'm approaching a light the truck in the lane to my right starts slowing down, which I find odd because the light is green. So I glance ahead to see that the car in front of the truck is at a complete stop. Being the total idiot that I am I spend more time wondering why the car in the lane next to me is stopped at a green light instead of checking to see (a bit too late) that the car directly in front of me is also stopped at the red light. I slam on my breaks but my new shiny red Saturn Outlook is a much bigger and much heavier vehicle that I used to drive and it is not stopping as fast as it should be! I see that I am going to smash into the car unless I do something quick. Luckily (very VERY luckily) there was nobody in the left hand turn lane and I was able to swerve into it and stop just before the intersection. Only then, once I was at a complete stop, did I hear the sirens as the ambulance came speeding through the intersection. No wonder everybody was stopped at the green light.

No now I'm shaking and freaking out at how close I was to smashing my car with my kids in it.(who were all in the back seats sleeping through all this, by the way) And I knew that I was saved that pain and terror because my mom prayed for me that morning that we would be safe.

Thanks mom for keeping us in your prayers!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The problem with ready-to-assemble furniture

Tonight I decided to singly handedly assemble Mike's nightstand for him. No biggie. I have assembled quite a few pieces of Ikea furniture on my own. This was not supposed to be a big deal. Just something to keep me busy while he was gone. The kids were asleep and it was the perfect project for me. Plus I was really excited about our bedroom really starting to come together.

But somewhere along the way something went wrong and I turned into this Ikea guy.


I guess as I was trying to talk on the phone and assemble furniture at the same time I managed to get the bottom put on backwards. And then it was downhill from there. Because then I hammered the back onto the front of the nightstand, thus putting little nail holes all over the front. Still, I didn't realize the problem until I completed the LAST step, putting on the door. And then something looked really wrong. On either side of the door was a strip of unfinished wood. Because this was the BACK and those unfinished strips were for the backing to slide into and then be nailed to.

This was a problem. Why hadn't I figured this out 6 steps ago? You know, like before I started pounding in nails like a mad woman?!?!?!

At this point I was looking for a good divorce attorney (one that would make sure the husband got stuck with the now battered nightstand) because I knew I was going to get the "lack of paying attention to detail" speech when the husband got home.

Fortunately, the husband actually laughed about the whole thing. (well, except for when he severely gouged his finger on a nail when trying to pry the backing off the front so it could be re-nailed to the back.)

I'm hoping a little wood putty and a black sharpie will repair the damage I've done. Good thing Lowes is just down the street.

Monday, May 19, 2008

always the wrong shoes

I am constantly yelling at women movie characters for wearing the wrong type of shoes for the job they have to get done. Like have you ever noticed women spies or FBI officers in movies doing chase scenes in high heels? I mean really gals! Heels have their place and all, but in a foot chase? You apparently didn't think that one through too clearly.

So imagine my own chagrin last weekend when I found myself in a wrong shoe dilemma. At the end of the season last summer I found on clearance these really cute black flip-flops with sparkly straps and just a little tiny heel. Super cute, believe me. And I was dying for a chance to try them out.

So last weekend my husband and I went out to dinner with some friends and I decided to give them a try. I thought I'd walk from the car to the restaurant and then from the restaurant to the car. A perfect way to try out new shoes, right?

Well, the first problem was that we went to dinner at the Gateway. That in and of itself was way more walking than I intended to do in my flip-flop heels. But I managed okay. At least we parked in the parking garage that was actually at the same end of Gateway as the restaurant we were eating at.

At this point I thought we'd go home...but no. We decided to check out the new Cheesecake Factory for a little dessert. Well, the wait was 90 minutes. 90 MINUTES!!! At this point I really have to use the little girl's room so we walk over to the mall to find a bathroom. We literally walked from one end of the mall to the other and back again trying to find a bathroom clean enough to use. And I've used some dirty bathrooms in my day, but these bathrooms were out of control! UG!!!! I've seen gas station bathrooms cleaner than some of the ones we encountered at the mall. Plus by this point my feet were really starting to hurt.

And we'd only wasted 40 minutes or so. So we gave up on the Cheesecake Factory and decided to go catch a movie. Upon arriving at the movie theater there was, of course, no parking close to the theater, so again I was walking, in my new shoes, on my sore feet. When was the torture going to end?

But the time the movie ended, having been off my feet for few hours, there was no way I was going to be able to hobble out to the car at the far far end of the parking lot. My feet were rebelling.

So I begged my husband to give me a piggy back ride. Which, magically, he agreed to. So I hop up on his back and suddenly I felt a little juvenile. I said to him, "so do you feel like you're in high school again?" but I let him carry me all the way to the car just the same, because man my feet hurt!

The moral of the story? Tennis shoes are always the way to go.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

building a room in a day

the painting is complete, but it needed furniture. Of course it's Ikea. (it's in my budget, okay!)

According to the directions you'll need a drill and a friend



We've turned a page in our lives. We've moved from hand-me-down newly wed furniture to brand new, ready to assemble furniture. And after spending HOURS putting together Ikea furniture I now dream of someday owning pre-assembled furniture, that is delivered, and hauled up the stairs by dreamy, muscular furniture movers with tight butts.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Abs, Home of the Fat Boy

So, in case you missed it, we were painting today.

Well, let me back up. We started prepping the room for painting last night. But then we went to Bajio and got something to eat and both Mike and I overate so when we got home we had lost all our motivation and just went to bed instead of getting a coat of primer on the walls.

SO, when it was lunchtime today Mike said the goal was to eat enough to keep his blood sugar levels up so he had energy, but not so much that he was full and lethargic. So I ran to Abs (the local burger joint) to grab some food.

Ryan went with me, well actually Ryan drove his nice little red Saab. So we get to the order window and I'm telling Ryan that Mike didn't want any fries or a drink because he was trying to not get the over full feeling. What actually came out was something like this...."Mike doesn't want to feel overstuffed today so he wants to eat light, so all he wants is a Fat Boy."

Ryan just stared at me like I was crazy. (which we all know I am!)

Painting in progress

I'm FINALLY painting my bedroom! It is literally the last room in my house to get painted. And I am so happy that the excitement is palatable! My room has been so blah for so long. Here are some "before" shots from a few months ago.

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

dull! boring! downright ugly, in fact.

And while these are far from being "after" pictures I'm just so excited that I'm posting "in progress pictures"

cut in

wet paint

painting in progress

And now I must get back to work if I want to go to bed at any point tonight. Because I still have another coat of paint to apply and my new (Ikea) bed to assemble.

Friday, May 16, 2008

After midnight

This was the conversation that took place last night after midnight over a bowl of ice cream. And you know what after midnight means that everything is suddenly funnier.

Ryan: "You know when I'm standing in the store trying to pick ice cream the english toffee never sounds appealing, but whenever I eat it I find it quite delightful"

Mike: "I really like english toffee"

Me: "Me, too. That's why I bought it."

Mike: "I really like Praline and cream, too. But I don't think it's a very popular flavor."

Me:---staring at him incredulously and then "are you serious? I love praline and cream ice cream, but I never buy it because I was always afraid nobody else liked it."

Ryan: "That's funny"

Me: "You know, I think we are having a magical marriage moment right now"

Ryan: "You should twitter that.

Me: "I think people would read 'having a magical marriage moment' and get he total wrong idea."

Ryan:---looking down intently at his bowl of ice cream feeling a little embarrassed, "especially if you said you were having a magical marriage moment with praline and cream ice cream"

trust me, it was funny after midnight

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I'm the princess

Okay, because Melissa did it, of course I had to, too.

You Are Ariel!
Image hosted by

Headstrong and fiesty. You have a mind of your own that's full of romantic dreams about the world around you. Exploring exotic places is your ultimate dream, and although you can be a little naive you'll realize that there is something to be gained from your family's wisdom.

Which Disney Princess Are You?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hallmark Holidays

Call me a cynic, but I believe we should do away with all the Hallmark Holidays. You know, the ones invented merely to sell greeting cards. The ones that nobody really likes because everybody just ends up feeling bad at the end of the day.

Mother's Day is a prime example.

I really can't see that there there are more than a very small handful of people who actually enjoy this day!

First there are all the women out there who want desperately to be mothers but aren't by no choice of their own. Mother's Day is a horrible day for them.

Then there are those who have lost their mothers. I am thinking particularly today of my good friend Aubrey who died last fall. This is the first Mother's day for her husband and two small children without her. I imagine it has been a difficult day, as it is for all whose mother is now gone whether recently or long ago.

Then there are those of us who presumably fit the perfect mold. I am a wife and mother so I should have no reason to dislike the day, right? Wrong! Most of us who are mother's spend most of the day feeling like bad mothers. Especially if you are church going kind. Then you have to endure listening to others dribbling on and on from the pulpit about how perfect their mothers were and the longer you sit there the more you realize how imperfect a mother you are. We spend the whole day comparing ourselves to all the other mothers we know and finding that we come up short.

And the pressure is really on the husbands to make it a special day for us because if nobody makes a big deal about what a great mother we are then we REALLY start to assume we are terrible moms.

And society as a whole doesn't do anything to ease all this mother's day pressure and angst. In fact, they make it worse!!!

I was appalled last Monday to catch a segment on the Today show about a special that was going to air called the Search America's greatest mom.....or something lame like that. We mothers spend enough time comparing ourselves to others and feeling like we are lacking we do not need an awards show full of a bunch of perfect mom's to solidify in our minds our complete incompetence in motherhood!

I guess there were different categories of Mothers for the show and each day on the Today show they were going to show the nominees for a particular category and then the viewers were supposed to go vote on the best mom. Well the category on Monday was Military moms. There were two moms shown who are currently deployed and far away from their kids. The one will miss not only this Mother's Day, but next one too because she is not scheduled to come home until June 2009. The third mom had a son in the military who started sending him care packages and he would share with his fellow soldiers so then she started sending out packages to more and more solders until it has grown to this huge organization with volunteers all over the country sending out care packages daily. And my point is we really have to pick which one of these moms is the best? Because I don't care who you are losing sucks! Especially when it's something as important as being a good mom. And don't give me that "it's an honor just to be nominated" crap! I think all three moms were amazing and I don't think it's right to pick one that is the best! Plus there are hundreds of other moms out there who are also in the military and away from their kids as well-where is their recognition? It just infuriates me. Mother's are hard enough on themselves as it is, they don't need the added stress of feeling not good enough to be nominated as America's Favorite mom. sigh.

So, to all you mothers out there (and I'm talking to myself here, too, because I'm super hard on myself!!!) You are better than you think you are. Seriously. Even if you fed your kids brownies of breakfast, or they stayed in the pajamas all day, or you forgot to brush the 2 year old's teeth before putting her to are still a good mom. Even if you lost your temper a time or two today, or let your kids watch too much are still a good mom. Because you are doing the very best that you know how to do and motherhood is not a contest. We all have our own unique qualities and quirks that will (hopefully) be endearing to our children, someday.

And to all you who are not currently mothers-I cannot say anything that will take away the hurt of kids you want but have not yet been blessed with, or even worse, kids that you have lost....I can't even imagine your pain. But please know that you are still important and indispensable to somebody. (I dread the day that my sister gets married and has her own kids because I rely SO MUCH on Aunt Natalie!!!!)

It's not much, and I'll probably still hate Mother's Day next year, too. But for now, Happy Mother's day, from me to you.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

politically incorrect, coming at ya!

So I have this pesky little habit. I have this word that is part of my (nearly) daily vernacular that I find slips out at the most inopportune times. It is a word I use around my family all the time but find that when I use it in "mixed company" that I am actually embarrassed that I just said it. So, here it is....I use the word retarded. When I think something in stupid, lame, ridiculous, asinine, or otherwise without merit I often call it retarded. (I didn't even have to use a thesaurus to come up with all those synonyms, which leads to wonder why if I know so many words that retarded is always the one that springs to mind....) Now mind you, I am always talking about some THING when I use the word (like how retarded it is that I have to pay to park when I've already paid to eat and shop.....) and never about a person. But for some reason when I utter my politically incorrect adjective around the playgroup mommies an awkward hush falls over the room.

Now I was having this conversation with Ryan tonight about my bad little habit and he seems to think that the word stupid is actually more politically incorrect than retarded. I'm still leaning towards retarded being less socially acceptable in mixed company though. Maybe I'll just start saying that things are mentally challenged.

The Evil Empire

I quit shopping at Walmart quite some time ago for a bunch of reasons that I don't desire to go into at this time. The point is I literally had not been inside their doors for nearly 3 years. (okay, I guess that's a bit of an exaggeration since I shopped at the Walmart in Paige, AZ when we went to Lake Powell a few years ago because it is the only store in Paige.)

But Walmart is tricky. Because you can only stay away for so long until you are lured in again by "low prices" on something you just can't seem t0 live without.

For me it was this and this.

I always like to buy something new for the backyard each summer. Because I really like when the kids go outside and play so I want to keep the backyard fun and exciting. So I had been to Toys R us and shopped Toys R us online and there were other bounce houses and other playhouses but these ones seemed to be the best bang for my buck.

Well, of course neither item were carried in store at Toys R us, and shipping on big items like these is always a pretty I resigned myself to either having to get them at Walmart or choose something different.

And much to my detriment I chose to get them at Walmart-and was reminded why I don't shop at Walmart.

First off, the Walmart website claims that both items are carried in store in limited locations. But OF COURSE you can't check inventory online. (and yes, there are actually stores that will tell you, right from the comfort of your own home, whether or not that product is in stock at a particular location. In fact, some super cool places you can buy the item online and then just go pick it up, for those of us that like the convenience of shopping online but the instant gratification of buying it at brick and mortar.)

If you have ever tried to call Walmart on the phone and get help you will know it is next to impossible. So I determined it would be easier just to go to the store and see if they carried the item at my location. That was my first mistake.

See, I printed off the items from the online site, highlighted the product code and everything, and then took a little trip down to the local Walmart. I take my pretty print outs straight to the Customer Service center thinking they will be able to tell me fairly quickly if they carry the items in the store. Because I am used to shopping at stores that have a localized, computerized, searchable inventory system. Say like, Famous Footwear. Have you ever been shopping at Famous Footwear and needed a particular shoe in a different size? They are sooooooo cool that they just come over with their little scanner/pda device and scan the barcode on the shoe box and viola! They can tell you right away if they have any in back or at what other store in the entire valley they do have that shoe in your size. And if it is in stock at another store they can call them right up for you, because the phone number is right there on their cool scanner, and have them hold it for you. All in about 45 seconds! OR, if by some strange twist of fate they don't have it at any of the stores but they do have it in the warehouse (whose inventory is ALSO on the cool scanner) they will ship it to you for free!!! Now that's how shopping should work!

Apparently Famous Footwear is about a million lightyears ahead of Walmart. Because you want to know the method used for telling if the product I wanted was in stock at Walmart? The customer service gal called somebody in working in the toy section and had them walk up and down the isles. No joke. I had the product name. I had the product number. But the way we could tell if it was in store was to have their high paid employee (okay, the not so high paid employee) walk up and down the isles for me. Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?

Well I obviously wasn't going to go to every Walmart in the valley looking, so I resigned myself to ordering online and forgoing the instant gratification of having it today!

But I told myself it would be okay. Because the one thing Walmart's website had going for it that Amazon or Toys R Us didn't was the "site to store" ship option. See, if you have the item shipped to the store shipping is free. And since shipping on these large items is nearly as much as the item itself of course I opted for this option. (is it too repetitive to say opted for this option? I kind of liked the ring of it. What do you think?)

I ordered them. And one week later one of my items had arrived. So off I trot to Walmart, again. You have to go to the back of the store and press a button to alert an employee that you are there to pick up your stuff. So, I walk to the back of the store (a chore in and of itself) and there is an employee standing there and our conversation goes something like this.

"Hi, I'm here to pick up something shipped site to store"

"Well, I can't help you because I'm on lunch so go ahead and push that button."

I push the button

"I would really like to help you. But I'm on lunch. But I'm bored so that's why I'm back here working anyway. But I can't scan your paper (my printout that tells the employee what I am there to pick up) unless I'm signed into the system and I can't sign in until I clock back in but I can't clock in for 15 more minutes. But I'm bored, so I'm here working."

I stand there for 3 minutes or so and she gives me her big schpeal again about why she can't help me, adding in that somebody should be there soon to help me.

3 more minutes of standing in akward silence and then she once again tells me all about how she's love to help me but just can't.

And still nobody else has shown up to help me either. So I wait, and wait, and wait.

15 minutes I wait. Well, okay it was only 13 minutes because somebody else showed up to help literally 2 minutes before this other gal could clock back in to help.

And so Walmart my question to you is this....are you really more worried about paying 5 minutes of overtime to somebody who only makes minimum wage anyway than you are about offering good customer service? Because believe me, I don't believe that standing around for 15 minutes waiting for service is good customer service.

Plus it leads me to believe that such incidents are going to, in the end, bring the Evil Empire crashing down to it's knees. You can only survive by being the cheapest for so long. At some point even the most non-discriminating customers start to be jaded by the continually abysmal service and sooner or later we'll all just stop coming back. Because yes Walmart, most sane rational people are, in fact, willing to pay 2 bucks more if they get outstanding customer service. (except my mom....did I say that?)

I don't know about you all but I'm going back to Target.