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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cherio, mate.

I'm going to England! Well, maybe. Probably.

Mike is definitely going to England. He'll be going on business. And he wants to take me with. Because his plane ticket will already be paid for. And the hotel and rental car will already be paid for. And his food will already be paid for, too.

So the argument is that for the price of my plane ticket we get a trip to England. I really REALLY want to go.

But there are a few minor details that keep me dragging my feet just a bit.

First-what to do with my 3 children.

Second-Even though it will cost significantly less due to Mike's work picking up the tab for his expenses, it still will cost a good chunk of change. And, we already spent a good chunk of change on our new patio and deck and fence this summer. And I'm trying to be better at that whole "living within your means" thing. Because, well, we've lived at the strapped for cash each month level before and it's no fun and I don't want to be there again.

Third-Since this is a business trip for Mike he'll be, well, working all day. Leaving me to my own devices all day. And we'll be in Reading not London and is there anything to do in Reading that doesn't require driving? Because I'm pretty sure I'm not up to driving on the wrong side of the road all by myself in a strange country.

But I have to decide soon because I need to buy a plane ticket. And lose some weight. And get something nice to wear. I don't think my stay-at-home mommy wardrobe of sweat pants and t-shirts is quite appropriate. What do you wear in England in October?

And this would definitely nix Disneyland for Christmas. Which is actually okay because as much as I am dying to take the kids they'll most likely just cry most of the time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When you can't decide, get it all!

First off, I'm HORRIBLE at dieting! Let's just get that out in the open so that there are no misconceptions.

So, I've been on a diet for a whole 2 1/2 weeks now. This is SERIOUSLY a new record for me. But the stress of trying to be on a diet got to me today and I went for a little shopping therapy. (a whole post in and of itself!!! Better left for another day.) Anyway, when shopping therapy fell flat on it's face (where is a good clearance sale when you need it???) I gave up and told my husband I wanted fast food for dinner.

So we loaded the kids in the car and began to drive down fast food row. The first place that looked intriguing was Arby's, with a picture of an Arby Q in the window for 99 cents. Because who doesn't love roast beef smothered in BBQ sauce? So we to the window and ordered 3.

Then we headed further down fast food row and stop two was Taco Maker, because Zoey wanted a burrito. And I thought that sounded good, too. So 3 crisp bean burritos were ordered.

But Adam wanted chicken nuggets. So we headed a mere 2 driveways north and pulled into Wendy's for Crispy Chicken Nuggets for Adam. And I needed a frosty.

So there you have it, 2 1/2 weeks of dieting spoiled, gone, destroyed, ruined, annihilated. Oh well. It sure tasted good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I should've gone to Disneyland instead

Well, it finally came. I knew it would eventually show up. But it was taking so long I had actually half convinced myself that maybe I was off the hook. I knew it was a vain hope, but I hoped just the same.

Yes, my bill for the most expensive ride of my life appeared in my mailbox today. (thank goodness for a flex spending account.)

Now I know that the price of gas is high right now. I would even say it's painfully high. But you tell me, do you think it's high enough to warrant $31.65 a mile?

And I was charged $97.32 for spine immobilization. Which means the going rate for torture these days is about 50 bucks an hour.

However, I was quite pleased to see that I will only have to pay a mere 56 cents for exam gloves. They must've gotten them on clearance.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tang, it's not just for astronauts anymore

I've had this pesky little problem lately. I clean my toilet and the very next day it has what looks like rust streaks in the bowl. No matter how I scrub and scrub them they come back the next day.

In a desperate attempt to get rid of them I consulted my Queen of Clean book. She mentioned using Tang, something about the citric acid doing a good job at cleaning stains.

So I tried the tang for a few days. But it still required lots of scrubbing and didn't completely remove the stains.

Then one day, on a whim, I took the top off and poured tang directly into the tank.

When I came back a few hours later the stains were completely gone. I didn't have to scrub, wipe, or rinse. They were just gone.

Almost makes me wish I had taken before and after pictures so you could see the HUGE difference. Just from pouring powdered tang in the tank. Because it was AMAZING!!!

Maybe I am Mrs Tidy Bowl after all.....huh. Who knew?

So, in the spirit of helping others with other tough cleaning dilemmas leave a comment with your best cleaning tip! We'll all be grateful you did.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What next?

First an audit from the IRS and now fraudulent charges on my American Express. Oh what fun!

The first person to say "bad things come in threes, so one more is still on the way" will be silently flogged out back.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who needs Botox? Me, apparently.

Several months ago I read in a magazine that when calling a dermatologist Botox patients get appoints 3x's faster than patients wanting a mole check. I kind of chuckled at the little tidbit of information and moved on with my life.

Fast forward to today. I have a mole that, in the past several months has begun to change in size and color. So, just as a precaution I decide to have it looked at. I finally get around to calling the dermatologist recommended by my insurance and you want to know when they can get me in....November!!! (and this was after being on hold 8 minutes just to talk to somebody!) No, seriously. I may have skin cancer, and we're always told that early detection is the key....and yet they can't see me until November! I may be dead by then!!!!

Okay, okay, that's a little melodramatic.

I was toying with the idea of calling back and telling them I wanted Botox.

Instead I called a different dermatologist who requires a much farther drive to go see, but who could see me in September. Still 3 weeks out, but I'll take what I can get.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Three Cheers for you, my awesome readers!

I have two recurring dreams. They usually appear when I am feeling like my life is a little out of control, or when there are things in my life out of my control.

In one dream I am driving a car, careening out of control and no matter how hard I push the break the car won't stop.

In the other dream I am in school again (sometimes high school, but usually college) and I am behind in ALL my classes, and I can't catch up because I just keep getting more and more and more homework.

Last night I had both dreams.

I guess it's because in the middle of building decks and building sheds I've also had sick kids, church responsibilities, and social obligations. Oh, and did I mention we're being audited by the IRS? Swell.

So things are not exactly, shall we say, put together at my house right now. (meaning, don't stop by for a visit, there is no place to sit.) There is unfolded laundry in baskets all over the house. Dishes in the sink. Sky-high stacks of paper that need attending to. And today I even discovered I had forgotten to pay one of the bills. I have NEVER paid a bill late. Ever. Until today.

So, what is my point? (because I do have one.) My point is this. I am humbled, touched, and even somewhat embarrassed by the response to my last post. Embarrassed because it was so not intended to be a plea for a bunch of people to say nice things about me. I really was just putting it out there so that if anybody else has ever felt that way before they would know they are not alone.

But your response has been so overwhelming and humbling that I have so wanted to send each and every one of you a personal response for all your support and kind words.

But alas, time just hasn't allowed. And I feel really REALLY bad about that. Which is probably the biggest reason I'm having dreams about running into trees and being behind in Calculus class. Because I want you all to know that your words have touched and inspired and blessed me. And I want you all to know all the wonderful things I think about you. And it's killing me that there so many other demands on my time right now.

So, in an attempt to have better dreams to night I'm settling for writing this post....thanking you all from the bottom of my heart! The love, the support, the unity, the friendship....this is why I blog!!!!

And I haven't given up my desire or hope of writing you all a personal message....eventually. When things settle down a bit. But for now, please know I love and appreciate you!

And please forgive me for not making as many comments on your blogs as usual...I'm terribly behind in my blog reading. I'll catch up, slowly but surely.

But right now I'm off to fold some clothes...

Here's to good dreams. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Just kick me while I'm down, pour salt in that wound

This is one of those posts that is hard to put out onto the interwebs because it's raw and it's personal and it opens me up for judgment. But I often find that when I write in such a personal that instead of the harsh judgments I receive kind empathy. Your words of "I've been there" make me feel less alone on the days I feel most alone. And if what I write makes anybody else out there feel less alone, knowing that I too feel the way they feel, well then putting myself out there is worth it.

Still it's hard though because you never know for sure the response you'll get. And it makes me feel vulnerable to admit to some of these feelings. It's like that Anna Nalick song:
"And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to"

I've actually been thinking about writing this post for quite some time. I've even started writing it once or twice. But never could really get it all out, finding it difficult to put into words everything I was feeling.

But then last night I felt like I took 3 punches straight to the gut, and that's when I knew it was finally time to sit down and finally get it all out.

I may be mistaken but I think, in general, that women struggle more with feelings of inadequacy. I think we struggle to feel accepted, to feel valued, to feel good enough. We struggle with the need to know our place in this big, vast world, we all yearn to know that we have something to give, that somehow our lives make a difference. We want to be noticed and appreciated.

For me this struggle intensified once I made the choice to be a stay at home mom. I've always been a highly driven individual and was always a top student in school. So I became accustomed to praise and recognition. The same accomplishment followed me into my early career. I had always planned on having a long, highly successful career.

But then this came into my life.

fresh from heaven

And after 1 year of being a working mom, I decided to come home, turning my back on the successful career I had imagined for myself.

Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, my last day of work was also the day I found out that she was on the way.

Zoey and teddy

So while the internal struggle to feel good about myself is always brewing just below the surface once in a while something happens that makes keeping the struggle at bay so much harder.

Like the night I went to my neighborhoodbook group a few weeks ago. I sat there all night thinking about how I have lived here 5 years now and only in the past few months have I been invited to join book group. Yet, there were women sitting in the room who had only moved into the neighborhood in the past year who have already been invited to join. It seems such a small, insignificant detail but it really bothered me all night. Made me feel like just wasn't as cool or fun or intelligent or as likable or as something. Because if I was, they would've been dying to have me in book group 5 years ago!

Or the day I ran into a former co-worker. She asked me "So what have you been up to." And the only answer I could come up with was the highly eloquent, "just being a mom." All the while thinking of all the things I WISHED I could've said. "I went back to school and just got my Master's Degree." or "I just published my first book." or "The Today show just hired me to be a local roving reporter." or "I just got back from a trip to Scotland." Truly just about anything would've been better than my actual answer of "just being a mom." Somehow it just didn't seem like enough.

Last night I got 3 such hits, one right after the other. I didn't even have time to recover from 1 before the next hit.

It started with the evening's church activity. Ironically, it was an activity intended to help the women of our congregation overcome just such feelings. The evening was called "an evening with the stars" and each women in attendance was awarded that spotlighted something unique about that women. It was meant to be an opportunity for us to get to know each other better and to honor each other's achievements. It was a wonderful idea, in theory. But the execution was a little weak.

You see, I clapped along enthusiastically as my friends and fellow women received their awards. But I must admit (and I'm embarrassed to admit!) that I was quite disappointed with my own. You see, I was given an award for boing "Mrs. Tidy Bowl" And I was confused as to why this would be my award. It suddenly felt like despite all the casual kindness shown to me over the years that nobody really knew me. It seemed apparent that they were at a complete loss as to who I really am and decided to give me some random title that they pulled out of a hat. And that hurt almost worse than not getting anything at all.

Because my toilets are not the cleanest thing in my house, I'll be the first to admit. I hate cleaning the bathrooms and I put them off as long as I possibly can. Vacuuming on the other hand I am fanatical about. It my favorite chore and so I do it often. Dyson Diva would've been an appropriate title. Or Flickr Fanatic. Or Blogging Babe. Or Crock Pot Queen.

The point is, to somebody how REALLY knows me there are about a million other titles that would've been more appropriate than Mrs. Tidy Bowl. And it was such a stupid, insignificant thing to be upset over but it unnerved me just the same.

So what do I do? Go home and watch the Olympics. And if seeing 16 year olds win gold medals, or seeing Michal Phelps make Olympic history by getting his 11th Gold Medal doesn't make you feel just a little insignificant, well then you're just not normal. (oh wait, perhaps I'm the not normal one....there's something to think about)

Once Prime time coverage of the Olympics ended and the local news began I was greeted from Bejing by the smiling face of a girl I went to school with. A girl who was a year behind me. I was the TA for her Newscast class. And SHE was in Bejing reporting on the Olympics, and I was sitting at home eating chocolate and feeling sorry for myself. It was too much for one night and stole away to the upstairs bathroom to cry.

I had recovered a bit by this morning, no longer feeling the need to cry. But the internal struggle still brews just beneath the surface. Maybe it always will.

In the meantime, I hope and pray none of the neighborhood women come by today and ask to see my toilet....because I'm afraid they will be highly disappointed.


What do you think? Is it me?

What do you look like?

Because we all don't have nearly enough ways to waste time each day....


Some time ago I posted about my struggle to overcome my retarded habit.

Apparently I started a revolution. (Okay, really it had nothing to do with me!!!)

Special thanks to Ryan over at Overcast Days for bringing this story to my attention.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Feet, feet, feet.....they're nifty neat


I've been thinking a lot about feet lately. Believe it or not I've been thinking about writing a post about feet long before I broke my toe.

And then last week Damselfly over at Growing a Life talked about sandals for her What I'd Wear Wednesday.

And THEN over at Shutter Sisters the Superhero photo challenge was to take a self-portrait guessed it, FEET!

So then it was inevitable that I would have to finally write my post about feet and footwear, complete with pictures, of course.

One of my favorite things about warm weather is sandals. I LOVE sandals!

Last summer I was very pregnant and needed a sturdier shoe than your typical summer sandal. So last summer I lived in my crocs. (well, okay my Payless/Airwalk knock-off version of crocs.) They are bright red and don't match anything, but I wore them everywhere.

This year it's been all flip-flops all the time. I can't help but wonder, if I had been wearing my red, closed toe airwalks instead if the obnoxious stubbed toe would've been as big an ordeal.

In the past I was never the type to wear uncomfortable shoes just because they were cute. I was overly practical in my choice of shoes. But something about having 3 kids and feeling so "mommy" all the time made me suddenly start to care more about my foot fashion. Perhaps I was trying to counter-act how old having 3 kids made me feel. Because at the beginning of the summer I ventured to wear these.

cute, impractical shoes

It was quite an uncomfortable experience.

So you think I would've learned. But, no. Not too long ago I found these at Old Navy.

the things I'll do for fashion

They were cute AND on clearance. Only 2 bucks! The only problem was that there was no half they were a tad small. Just a tad. I convinced myself they would stretch out when I wore them. So I wore them to church, thinking it would be a perfect place to break them in because you mostly just sit anyway. Let's just say it was the longest 3 hours of my life! And I was extremely happy we had been running late and driven to church that week instead of walking like we usually do. But they are oh so cute!

Oh course, now I'm making a new summer footwear fashion statement.

my new summer footwear

My Zoey is already becoming quite opinionated about her footwear. For awhile she wore these everywhere.

her boots

I think because she could put them on herself, and so she loved them, rain or shine.

Now she must wear her flag flip-flops everywhere she goes. And I do mean everywhere!

quite the combination

And I can't write about feet without including the little known fact that I LOVE little baby feet. I honestly can't think of anything that's much cuter. So, just because I want to, and because this is my blog I'm going to include some of my favorite pictures of little feet.

tiny feet

Adam's feet

Playing Hide and Seek with Uncle Ryan

This little piggy went to market.....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Doing my homework

My church's women's group gave us all a personal questionnaire to fill out last month. I, of course put it off until the last minute. (They wanted it back by July 31st and I'm just getting around to finishing it today, August 3rd.)

Anyway, here is the survey, along with my answers. I won't neccisarily tag anybody, but if you feel so inclined please feel free to put in your own answers to the questions, post it on your own blog, and then put the link to your post in the comments here so we can all come check it out.

1.What is the most thankless job you perform?

You mean I can only pick one? I can’t think of a job I do regularly that isn’t thankless. Nobody comments on how shiny my toilet bowls are. When my kids are eating off the floor (why do kids do that?) they never pause to thank me that I mopped, so that the floor was in fact clean enough to eat off of. Can’t remember the last time somebody mentioned that they were sure grateful I paid all the bills so that the water and lights remain on. No matter what I fix for meals half of it winds up in the garbage disposal. And I’ve been wiping little bottoms for over 4 years straight and there is no end in sight!

2. List 3 characteristics you feel describe you:

Well, perhaps if I list all the things I’m not maybe I can figure out what I am. I’m not patient, crafty, or a good cook. I want to be organized, but struggle to be so. I try really hard to be clean, but the kids seem to undo everything as quickly as I do it. I’m not particularly thoughtful and I’m horrible at remembering people’s birthdays. I don’t diet or exercise. But my kids think I’m a stupendous dancer. And they laugh at the songs I make up for them. Songs with such brilliant lyrics as “Zoey, Zoey, go get a diaper” and “Pick up the toys, and stop making noise.” They also think I’m a great spider killer. I don’t squirm at all. (which is very important to them because they are all TERRIFIED of spiders.) My husband thinks I’m funny, which is the chief reason I married him. He is the ONLY one who laughs at my jokes. He also tells me I’m a good writer. He claims that when he was on his mission my letters were his very favorite. (and we weren't even dating or anything at that point.) I am a wiz at assembling Ikea furniture. Is that a characteristic?

3. List at least 1 of your accomplishments that you are proud of:

I sometimes struggle with this one, because at times I feel like all my accomplishments were in the past and that I haven’t done anything important lately. In my past I won honors, awards, scholarships, praise and recognition of all varieties. Now everything I do goes completely unnoticed. (see # 1) Does having a blog that actually has a handful of readers count? Or what about having over 19,000 views on my flickr photostream? This summer I planted flowers for the first time since we moved into our house and only about a 3rd of them died. And I finished this survey!

4.If you were to hire yourself for a job, what would be your job title? (for example: West Valley’s Taxi-Soccer-ballet-cooking Queen)

Slacker Mom and Wife Extraordinaire.