August 8, 2013

one last conneaut post

This is my first full week of being "back to work."

While the start up to the school year is generally pretty gradual, it is still a bit of a shock ...  So, I find that my mind is constantly wandering back to the lake.

Much like Pearl did every day that we were there ...

Bathing suit: Osh Kosh B'gosh (thrifted for $1.50)

She and the small "beach" were inseparable.

I wish (my) summer didn't have to end so soon!

August 6, 2013

baby bear (gets bigger)

Last summer at the lake, I took a photo of Pearl in a white beach hoodie.

As luck would have it, she ended up with another white beach hoodie this year ...

My little cub is growing up! 

August 5, 2013

the rock collector

I don't know if it is all three (almost four)-year-old boys or just mine, but Malcolm is very big into gathering and "collecting" things right now.

Whether we are hanging around the house, or talking a walk around the block (or doing any other benign activity), he will inevitably gather up a group of items and declare them his "collection."

Last week, while we were at Conneaut Lake with my family, Malcolm got to it right away ...

Down at the beach one sunny morning, he and the husband were milling around on the shore, looking for rocks to throw into the clear water, when Malcolm found one that he liked ... 

So he hung on to it.

He then proceeded to find dozens more and declared them all his collection.

"Come see my collection, Mom!" he excitedly called to me when I made my way down to the lake that morning.

The "collection" wasn't hard to spot.

There they were, lots and lots of rocks, lined up carefully along one of the neighbors' docks.

It's good I snapped the above picture because, every day since we've returned from the lake, Malcolm has asked to look at his collection ...  Better an image on a computer screen (and eventually a tangible 4x6 print) than a box full of rocks in our living room!

Now if only I could get him interested in collecting something that will grow in value and help to subsidize his (eventual) college education!

August 1, 2013

girl on a mission

Our vacation at Conneaut Lake was a bit busier this year ...   

(Having two active children to chase around is no joke!)

From the moment we climbed out of our van, Pearl wanted to do everything that her brother was doing.

She wanted to run down the lane.

To walk out onto the dock.

To throw rocks into the water.

To feed the fish and the ducks.

To explore every room of the cottage.

To roam the backyard.

To climb on anything that was on her level.

Shirt: Miniwear (thrifted for $0.50)
Shorts: Healthtex (gift)

She definitely got into a lot this year, but, as always, it is so fun to watch her grow into a little girl right in front of my eyes.

July 31, 2013

the long and the short of it

So, after two years of on-again off-again shenanigans, our first home finally sold.

The amount of money we got for the house was disgustingly low (the Cleveland market really and truly tanked when the real estate bubble burst), and the amount we had to pay the bank to get out was alarmingly high, but I am proud to say we did it!

And, in early March, we found what we thought was going to be our next home ...  A large, short sale in a great school district with four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a big, open kitchen and living room combination, and a finished basement.  It was everything we had hoped for (and more!) at a deal of a price, and we were content to wait it out.

Although the title of "short sale" would imply a quick process, it only describes the fact that the bank will be "short" money at the end of the sale ...  So we moved into our temporary rental, made it feel as "homey" as possible, and waited to hear something about our new place.

Months passed (something not unheard of with a short sale), and while we casually looked for other, normally listed properties, we still held hope that the gears were moving.

But they were not.

Despite extra help (and annoyance?) from our realtor, the realtor representing the seller did not receive any information, or progress, from the bank that held the home's loan ...  And although the seller signed off on our offer (days after we made it), the bank never responded.

With our short sale unexpectedly off the table (and mysteriously gone from all the real estate websites I frequented), we were back at Square One.

So, the "casual" looking  became more serious.

We stretched our budget to increase the number of properties we could look at, yet the more houses we saw, the more we felt like we would never find anything that felt big enough within our comfort zone.  We thought we might have to just give in and settle on something that was "good enough."

I know.  I know.

Total "first world problem" right there ...

But after the time and effort it took to finally be in the position to buy a new house, we wanted this next one to be it ... 

The one we'd live in from here on out.

The one we'd ultimately raise our family in.

And despite some negative attitudes and the feeling that maybe we should have just stayed put a little bit longer (so as to save more money toward this next house), we pressed on ... 

And on.

And on.

Luckily for us, this little adventure in buying and selling has a happy ending.

At the tail end of June (if you're counting, that's about four months after bidding on the short sale), we got some great news from our realtor ...  Another realtor he knew was about to list a property that met all of the items on our "wish list" and was actually within our budget!  So we checked it out (prior to it even being on the market) and decided that it was the one for us.  After some back-and-forth negotiations (and a successful inspection with only some minor-ish issues that needed addressing), we're excited to call it "ours" (home!) in a few short weeks. 

Although I'm definitely not looking forward to the stress of packing up everything (again) and dealing with the scheduling that surrounds moving trucks and the delivery of our "pod" full of belongings, I can't wait to finally put an end to this journey!

A very happy end (that is really just the beginning).

July 29, 2013

wishful thinking

We just got back and I'm already wishing that we were back at the lake ...

I can't wait for next year.

July 25, 2013

exploring the planet trail

Before the ridiculous heat wave last week (which sucked out my motivation for anything other than sitting around and doing absolutely nothing), we took a little family hike in the Cleveland Metroparks.

Our trail of choice is usually the "Planet Trail" (which is within the Rocky River Reservation for any local readers who may want to check it out) for a couple of reasons ...

First is Malcolm's (and, let's be honest, my) nerdy love of the solar system. I personally enjoy that the planet plaques are not just posted willy nilly, but rather positioned to scale, as if they were really floating out in space ...  It's crazy how large some of the distances between the planets are!

Tee shirt: Circo ($4.00)
Shorts: Jumping Beans (hand-me-down)
Socks: Unknown brand (hand-me-down)
Shoes: Sperry (thrifted for $2.00)


Second, not far from the walking trail is a little playground and "decorative" fountain that also provide lots of entertainment for our kiddos.

As long as we come prepared (with extra clothes and beach towels), we always leave with two, exhausted kids ...

Which ultimately makes for two happy parents!

July 23, 2013

eight is great

On our eighth wedding anniversary (today!) I thought I'd take a moment to list eight reasons why I love the husband and am still so glad I said "I do" those many years ago ...

(In no particular order)

1. He is my very best friend.

2. When we were in the early/just friend stages of our relationship, he was able to look past my late-90's fashion choices (Overalls?!  In public?  And I think that's a scrunchie around my wrist ...) and to the beauty that was beneath.

3. Although there are times when he thinks he's way more funny than he actually is, he always knows how to make me laugh.

4. He is an amazing cook ...  And understands that desserts are the way to my heart!

5. He enjoys traveling as much as I do, yet knows how to just take in the scenery and not overdo it.

6. He works hard for our family ...  Both when he is at home, or away at work.

7. He supports me in all of my endeavors, no matter how crazy they may seem.

8. He is partially (50%, to be exact) responsible for these two little cherubs ...

Happy anniversary, Honey!

Here's to eight (plus infinity) more!

July 22, 2013

getting closer

The wheels are turning ...

And we should be in our new home by the end of August!

(Maybe I'll feel motivated to write about the whole experience one of these days ...)

July 11, 2013

on writing and growing

I'm not sure why, but I just haven't been in a writing mood, lately ...  Even though there is plenty to talk about as our summer has already been filled with parades, fireworks, trips to the zoo, and the first of two family vacations.

Part of me is torn and wants to diligently keep up with the "obligation" I have set for myself with this blog, and the other part is completely content with just living life and ignoring the computer altogether.

Even so, as Thursday rolls around, I feel compelled to get a post up (and show off some Pearl cuteness from the zoo last week) ...

 Tee-shirt: Old Navy (thrifted for $0.50)
Shorts: Carter's (hand-me-down)
Shoes: Stride Rite (hand-me-down)
In all of the summer activities that we have busied ourselves with, both the husband and myself have noticed that Pearl doesn't act the slightest bit like a baby anymore.

Her attitude is all toddler ...  Wanting to explore and get into everything (and mimic her brother's every move).

Her legs seem longer and stronger, and she has become quite the expert climber ...  Scaling stairs, furniture, and even the toilet when we aren't paying close enough attention.

It's nearly impossible to believe that, last summer at this time, she was just starting to show a bit of spunkiness.

She's come such a long way (in such a short time) and I love being able to experience every moment!

July 4, 2013

dino-mite duds (for the fourth)

Whenever I can create an outfit for Pearl that is just girly enough without being obnoxiously so, I am a happy mom ...  And, as I've said many times before, she doesn't have to be pink and glitter encrusted in order to look cute.

So, I was especially excited when the little dinosaur shoes I purchased long ago (for her) finally started to fit!

Yes, they came out of the boy aisle, but what science teacher's daughter can't appreciate a good dinosaur?

Especially when they pull together a whole outfit ...

Ruffled tank top: Old Navy ($1.00)
Shorts: Circo ($0.75)
Shoes: Circo ($6.50)

She definitely has the spunk to pull it off!

July 2, 2013

an interview with malcolm (almost four edition)

During one of the hottest days last week, the kids and I were spending some time on the porch and I got the bright idea to "interview" Malcolm.

Here are some of his favorite things ...

Favorite Color: Orange
Favorite Shape: "Half moons, crescent moons, full moons ...  They all my favorite."
Favorite Fruit: "Bananas, of course!"
Favorite Lunch Food: Macaroni and Cheese
Favorite Dinner Food: Noodles (this usually means spaghetti and meatballs)
Favorite Dessert: Gummies, cakes, or pies
Favorite Drink: "Lemonade at Gramma's house, that's my best drink."
Favorite Movie: A Bug's Life
Favorite Game: Hide and Seek (although I don't think he's ever played it before!)
Favorite Train: Gordon
Favorite Stuffed Animal: Peach (the starfish from Finding Nemo)
Favorite Bug: Lady bugs, thorn bugs, caterpillars, and butterflies
Favorite Animal: Seals and reindeer
Favorite Plant: "Droopy flowers, of course ...  And tulips."
Favorite Thing at the Park: Walking on the tires

Favorite Thing About Dad: "He chases me."
Favorite Thing About Mom: Getting hugs and kisses
Favorite Thing About Pearl: Reading books with her

Hopefully, I'll remember to try this again next summer ...  And see how his preferences change over time!

June 27, 2013


I may be biased, but there's nothing cuter than a spunky, (sort of) pig-tailed one-year-old in a bubble onesie ...

Bubble onesie: Carter's (thrifted for $0.50)

And, to think, I didn't want any daughters!

June 20, 2013


Pearl is fifteen months old (as of this past Saturday) and is certainly coming into her own ...  

Even if she ends up wearing a combination of her own clothes, and those that used to belong to her brother on most days.

Long-sleeved tee-shirt: Old Navy (gift)
Pants: Carter's (thrifted for $0.50)

But who says girls can't look cute in superhero gear (and some rainbow pants to soften things up)?

June 17, 2013

dad of the year

After an unexpected week away from this blog (for no real reason other than I just didn't feel like writing much of anything), I'm jumping back in with a quick post for the husband ...

Happy (belated) Father's Day to one of the best dads I know ...

A dad who (even in the midst of an uncooperative three-year-old) makes it look easy and is loved so incredibly much every day of the year!

June 6, 2013

bridging the gap

With school currently in wind-down mode, I feel like we are stuck in some weird limbo between spring and summer ...  And the cooler weather as of late isn't helping (although I'm loving it)!

Still, we are taking advantage of as many outdoor (and way from the computer) moments as possible.


Tee-shirt: Garanimals (thrifted for $0.50)
Long-sleeved onesie: Gerber ($8.00 for pack of three)
Sweat pants: Garanimals (thrifted for $0.50)

Summer, we are waiting for you!

June 5, 2013

final-ly getting there

After a ridiculously busy month of May, the end of the school year is in sight ...

This week is "Finals Week" at the virtual school!

Although it means exams for my nearly two-hundred students, it means lots of email, phone calls, and troubleshooting of various technical difficulties for me.

Oh, and let's not forget the grading of those two hundred plus tests!

And, while it's been a stressful week so far (and a flurry of nonstop activity), the light is just starting to appear at the end of the tunnel.

After Friday, (when all that test grading is complete) grades will be due and all of my students will be done, so my agenda will become a lot less jam-packed through the end of June.  Yes, I'll still be "working" until July 1st, and there will be multiple meetings to attend, files to go through, documents to back-up, and plenty of other school-related duties ...  But my time will begin to become my own again.

(At least a little bit of it.)

This means that, instead of being glued to my computer screen, I'll have more opportunities to take my kids to the park, the zoo, or out to a store ...  In the middle of the afternoon!

Or, if we choose to hang out at home, we can just bum around together and have lunch picnics on the porch, read stories, or play games.

With this increased amount of work geared around my students (and struggling to fit it all in during the work day), comes an increased amount of guilt that I'm not doing my own children any favors.

Malcolm is engrossed in the TV for far too long.

Pearl walks around aimlessly, gathering toys and signing "more" as she brings them to me ...  Her way of asking to play.

It will be so nice when I can finally shove my computer in the background (or just shut it down completely) and actively accommodate my kids instead of my students.

Being a classroom teacher (virtually or otherwise) is hard.

Being a mom is hard.

Being both at the very same time is borderline impossible.

So, it is with a huge sigh of relief that I look forward to the end of this week ...  When finals are over and the school year is done.

I'm probably more excited than my students!

May 30, 2013

baby's first wedding

The kids and I attended the wedding of a family friend over the long weekend ...  So, it was a nice excuse for us all to get dressed up!

You may not be able to tell from the photos, but my kiddos (the one in the middle isn't mine) coordinated quite nicely.

Cotton dress: Cherokee ($6.00)
Sweater: Old Navy (thrifted for $1.00)
Shoes: Keds (thrifted for $1.50)

As I've mentioned in the past, it's a lot of fun shopping for Pearl ...

While it is a challenge just to find a decent selection of boys' clothes, finding something for my girl that is cute, but isn't too pink or prissy, is a whole different animal! 

Luckily, my second born is adorable in whatever she ends up wearing!

May 29, 2013

daddy's girl

It's hard to be annoyed that she only says "Dada" (and not "Mama") when I am witness to sweet moments like this ...

The title of "Daddy's Girl" certainly fits for this little sweetie!

May 23, 2013


When I gave birth to a girl, my mind immediately jumped to all the stereotypical "girl" things I'd have to endure ...




And, yet, my girl (as sweet as she can be) doesn't currently fit that mold.

In comparison to her older brother, she is far more inquisitive (getting into and destroying everything) and spunky than he ever was at her age.

And she's got the battle scars to prove it ...

Lady love is currently sporting a black eye and a shiner (on her forehead).

Tank top: Carter's (thrifted for $0.50)
Shorts: The Children's Place (thrifted for $0.50)

But, at least her bruises coordinate with the lime green in her outfit ...

She may be headed down the "tomboy" path like her mother (I hope so!), but that doesn't mean she can't look cute, too!