Monday, August 27, 2012

Second Grade

Today was Kirsten's first day of 2nd Grade!  I can hardly believe how much my little girl has grown up.  It was strange walking into Ogle and turning the other direction to go to a new POD. 

 She was very specific about wearing her favorite dress to school, having a side french braid and then topped it off with the necklace I made for her.  
 Kirsten's new desk
 Kirsten and her 2nd Grade Teacher, Ms Olson.  She is a first year teacher and is so excited to be teaching. I hope that her enthusiasm rubs off on the kids!
 And to top it all off, Azalea is in Kirsten's class.  They were in kindergarten together and are "bffs"  They could not be more excited.
So now I get to enjoy a quiet day with just Katie before I go back to work tomorrow.  Katie was sad without Kirsten until she realized that there was no one here to turn off her Choo Choos and Blues Clues.

 I can hardly wait to hear how my little princess did at school today!

Back to School Bash

Saturday night we had our annual neighborhood Back to School Bash.  It was at the park and there was pizza, a DJ, several bounce houses, and a video game trailer.  It was such a wonderfully cool evening and we loved enjoying time with friends.
 One of the bounce houses was open and we actually got Katie into it.  This is the first time in her life that she has gone into one without screaming bloody murder!
 Katie spent the majority of the time there dancing and shaking her stuff to the music.
While Kirsten hung out with the guys in the video game trailer.
 She did finally come out and enjoy some bouncing and fighting time.
What a fun night and finally summer hoorah!  before school starts.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Arboretum

 Today we celebrated the end of  summer with a trip to the Dallas Arboretum with my Jeremy's mom and sister, Megan.  Kirsten actually had a sleep over last night with Aunt Megan and had the most wonderful time!  When they showed up this morning, Katie said "Megan" clear as day!  I love that she is starting to learn to say names.

The weather has been so beautiful lately and it was a perfect day to go!  Here are Kirsten and Katie on a bridge.
 Kirsten got tired and Katie got restless, so Kirsten went into the stroller,
And Katie got to walk around with Grandma.

We stopped about half way through to enjoy a picnic lunch.  Katie would not eat, just enjoyed running around!
 Kirsten kept dragging Megan through all of the little side paths were the stroller would not go.
 Me and my girls
 Kirsten with her Grandma and Megan
I loved all of the beautiful flowers and tried my hand at some still life photography.

The best part of the Arboretum was the beautiful Chihuly glass sculptures on display.  There were dozens of them, but here are a few of our favorites.
They will be there until November and we are hoping to go back at night to see them all lit up.  It was such a beautiful day and we had so much fun!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Rest of the Summer

Summer is winding down and we are all ready for school to start next week.  We have been trying to stay busy and cool though.  So here is a run down of the past few weeks.

Katie has loved having her sister home and they insist on matching whenever possible - all the way down to the leopard print leggings!
 As I mentioned in my previous post, Jeremy took the girls to the Sci-Tech Discovery Center with free passes we got from the Library.  I am not sure what all they are doing, but here are some pictures of their outing.




 With the hot and dry weather the past two summers, we have had some major erosion around our foundation.  We finally took a Saturday to get some dirt to build up the foundation and change the slope a little.  We rented a u-haul trailer to pull behind our car and ended up with three trailer loads of dirt.  They were each 1 ton - so we hauled a lot of dirt!  The whole family got in on the action, even Katie.
 My dad came over and helped us too.  Kirsten was stuck to Grandpa like glue and loved being his helper.  The five of us worked for 6 hours.  It was exhausting, but well worth it.
 I have two little dancers on my hands.  They like to get dressed up and turn on Swan Lake or the Nutcracker and then will dance for hours on end.  Sometimes they even talk me into breaking out my old ballet shoes and joining them.  It is so fun!
 Last week we used our free passes to the Frisco Aquatic Center.  We chose a great day to go.  It was cool and over cast, and completely empty.  There is an indoor and outdoor area.  Outside there are two big slides, a big pool, a huge kiddie area, and a lazy river.  Inside there is a lazy river, lap pool, play pool, one big slide, and another slightly smaller kiddie area.  We will definitely have to go again sometime - when we get free passes again!
 Kirsten went up these stairs and down the slides 108 times.  I cannot believe she kept track!  She was exhausted and slept so well that night.  Since it was empty, I could just let her go by herself and keep track of her from the kiddie are with Katie.
 Katie and I basically had the kiddie area to ourselves.  She like the little red slide, but not the bigger green one.
 Her favorite thing to do was stick her head in the fountains.
Friday night, Kirsten went to Jada's  birthday party at Pump it Up.  It is a big indoor bounce house place.  She had a ton of fun and ran herself ragged!

 After two hours of playing, pizza and cake, Kirsten started to get a little crazy.  Apparently this is what happens when she is at a party at 9:30 at night!
 I have been working on quilts for the girls for Christmas.  I finished Katie's top yesterday and I am almost done with Kirsten's.  I bought the fabric at the quilt show last year, and need about 1 more yard to finish, but here it is so far.
We are packing a ton of fun stuff into the next few days before school starts back on Monday.  I am looking forward to getting back into a routine, but I am sure going to miss having both of my girls with me all day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thirty Days of Nothing and Counting

About a year ago, I came across this blog 30 Days of Nothing  as well as Bushel and a Peck and felt inspired that it was something our family needed to do.  Of course like so many other things in life, we just never did.  I always meant to, but it never seemed like a good time (is there ever a "good time" for something like that?)  Then this spring I was inspired by my friend, Nancy, who did it with her family and felt again that there were many places we could cut back and that this may be a good way to do it, but again, we just never did.

Fast forward to this summer.  July 3rd started out like any other day.  We got up and had breakfast, said family prayer and sent daddy off to work.  I headed to the gym and then the dentist with the two girls.  While we were at the dentist, Jeremy called, four times.  I finally answered just saying "I am at the dentist, I will call you back" to which he replied, "I am on my way home."  At that moment, the world fell out from under me.  Jeremy had lost his job of five years at Blue Cross Blue Shield.  It was very unexpected for me, though I would later find out, not so unexpected for him.

So thus began our forced 30 Days of Nothing.  We immediately cut back expenses everywhere we could.  We cancelled cable.  Cancelled Netflix.  Cancelled our home phone.  Pulled Kirsten out of dance.  Cut back to a basic internet plan.  Cancelled the data plans on our cell phones.  Turned the water heater down and the air conditioner up.  We have not been out to eat once in six weeks - I am not sure we have gone a week since we have been married, so this is HUGE for us.  When Jeremy lost his job, I had $100 in my wallet.  This is the only money that we have spent on anything at all other than gas and bills.

So how have we done it?  First of all, there is no way that we could do this alone.  We have received a ton of help from family with bills.  My mom gave us money to buy a birthday present for Kirsten.  Our fence blew down when we were out of town and our church stepped up and so many people worked hard to replace our fence posts and put our fence back up.  We are so grateful to our Father in Heaven for putting people in our path that have been able to help us.  However, as you know, there is still so much more that it typically takes to run a household.
  • As I said earlier, we cancelled EVERYTHING that was not absolutely necessary to live, and yes, you can live without being able to access Facebook and e-mail on your phone!
  • We have been eating our storage.  Anyone who has been to my house knows that I have food tucked into every nook and cranny, under every bed and in every closet.  It has come in very handy to say the least.
  • We have been using our toiletry and cleaning supplies storage.  I love couponing and have stocked up on the essentials over the years.
  • I have been cooking every single meal - which means tons more dishes, but thankfully Jeremy and Kirsten really help out a lot with that
  • Friday night pizza night turned into homemade pizza night with a picnic in the living room and a movie
  • I have been making birthday presents for parties we have been invited to with items that I already have on hand.
  • I spent a total of $12 on Kirsten's Luau party ($6 for the flower lei necklaces, $2 for flower napkins on clearance, $1 for cupcake wrappers $3 for drinks (I had coupons!) I made the cupcakes and frosting from scratch from food storage, and gave the girls flower barrettes for their hair that I had leftover from a girl scout project last year.  We danced the Macarena, did the Limbo, swam and had a ton of fun.
  • We have been checking out DVDs at the Library for entertainment
  • I have stopped buying books for my Kindle and download them from Frisco Library's E-Library - this is big because I am an avid reader and read 2 to3 new books every week.
  • We went on a trip in July to a family reunion.  We took a huge ice chest in the back of our car and took all of our food with us.  On the way there we were caravaning with my in-laws and they helped us with meals.  On the way back we made sandwiches and stopped for picnic lunches at rest stops.
  • We used a gift card to Walmart to purchase Kirsten's school supplies for this year.
  • Jeremy and I still have our weekly date night, but since we can't afford a babysitter, we do them at home.  They have included movies and popcorn, games, picnics in the backyard, staying up all night talking, and Rock Band nights.  
  • We ride our bikes anywhere within a mile (when it is below 90 degrees)  So for our morning trips to the pool, to friends houses ect... I throw Katie in the trailer and Kirsten and I ride our bikes there. The afternoon is just too hot so we do have to drive then or just stay home.
  • We are utilizing the coupons from the library reading programs.  On Friday we all went to the Frisco Heritage Museum and then to Chick-fil-a for lunch and did not spend a penny.  On Tuesday, Jeremy took the girls to the Sci-tech Discovery Center then out for Frosties at Wendys.  On the agenda for next week is the Frisco Aquatic Center and bowling - all free with the coupons!
  • JCPenny offers free haircuts in August to school-aged kids.  So Kirsten got her free hair cut on Monday and then we went out for free ice-cream cones (coupons from the library)
The most important lessons that we are learning through this have not been temporal - although those are definitely there - but they have been spiritual.  The day Jeremy lost his job, we decided that we would attend the temple together at least once a week the entire time he was out of work.  Thanks to wonderful parents and friends, we have been able to make that happen.  We have really tried to grow closer as a couple and as a family through this time.  We have tried to grow closer to the Lord, to recognize his hand in every part of our lives, even the smallest things.  

Jeremy started his new job on Wednesday with Capital One.  We are not out of the woods yet though because it will still be four weeks until he receives his first check.  This is also only a six month contract job.  It gives us time though for him to look and find the right job.  

This has been a trying time for us, and while I wish to never repeat it, I am glad that we are going through it.  We are learning some very important lessons about ourselves, our habits, our finances, our relationships, our faith.  So we are actually at 36 days of nothing and counting...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Kirsten is 7!

My precious Kirsten turned 7 years old today!  Time seems to be flying by, and I would really like it to slow down a little bit.  Some facts about Kirsten...

She is 51 inches tall - 95% in her height!
She wears a size 10 clothes and 3 in shoes
She can ride a two-wheel bicycle
She loves to read and finishes a new chapter book almost every two days
She taught herself to play Scripture Power on the piano this week
She is constantly dancing and singing
She is starting her 5th year of ballet this month
She thinks that doing chores is fun
She prefers to play with her little sister over anyone else
And she has the biggest heart of anyone I know

Today was all about her, starting with the homemade blueberry waffles for breakfast.
 Then she opened her presents from mommy and daddy and Grandma and Grandpa Starnes.
 The highlight of her day was her Luau at the pool.  She has been planning it for almost a year and had all of the details worked out for me.  After some swimming time, everyone got to wear a lei, and the girls got flowers in their hair.  Kirsten even had a pink grass skirt.
The kids had a ton of fun doing the limbo.  
  Then Colette and I led the kids in the Macarena (exactly 10 times, by Kirsten's specifications)
 I made cupcakes that were blue - she had to stay up late last night to make sure that I got the color just right to match the ocean in Hawaii - and had purple and yellow flowers on them.
 Katie was right in on the action the entire time and went through several root beers without us knowing.
 Kirsten was so grateful for all of her presents and told me that every single thing she got was on her wish list.  She got school clothes and shoes from Grandma and Grandpa Starnes, new ballet clothes and ballet shoes from Grandma and Grandpa Lowe and a new backpack for school from Grandma and Grandpa Alleman.  She also got some great games and crafts from her friends.  I think that Keeton wins the prize though with the Nancy Drew books - the screaming and hug that followed says it all!
 After her party, I gave her a birthday manicure and pedicure and Salon Mom.  She loved being pampered on her special day.
Tonight we had Grandma and Grandpa Lowe over for Lasagne and Root Beer floats (that is what she wanted instead of cake) and made her birthday celebration literally last all day long.  We love our Kirsten so much and loved being able to make her feel special today.

Frisco Heritage Museum

The best part of the library summer reading programs are all the coupons for free things you get when the kids complete them.  Between Frisco and McKinney's programs, we have the rest of our summer activities covered.  Friday we took advantage of our tickets for free admission to the Frisco Heritage Museum.  We had a great time and we pleasantly surprised at what a nice little museum it is.  

There are some great exhibits that take you through the history of the City of Frisco.  Among our favorites were the original printing press from the Frisco Journal.
 A 1913 Model T
 A 1930 Model A Coupe
 A Parlor from the 1910's
 And of course the den from the 1960's. It was so amusing to show Kirsten the 8-track, record player and a rotary telephone!
 They have an area that is interactive for the kids where Katie loved collecting eggs over and over again.
 And Kirsten wanted to wash clothes
 Kirsten was also particularly fascinated with the old-fashioned kitchen.
 And of course, no museum would be complete without the token railroad exhibit!
We plan on going back on August 19th when they have the historic buildings open for free.  It was a great little museum and I highly recommend it to anyone in the area.