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Happy Birthday to Nick. ^_^

Raffi USA
5 years of motherhood. I absolutely love it. I can't imagine not being a mommy. "Was it only 5 years ago that he was a teeny baby?" I can't even remember what it was like not to have him and
I can't imagine life without him.

He's literally the best thing ever. I get to wake up every morning to his smiling face, kissing me and cuddling me. I get to hold his hand every day, play with him everyday, and teach him something new everyday.

He's teaching me, too. He's growing me up, teaching me to be responsible, and every time I make the right choice, do the right thing, I'm doing it for him. To set a good example, and to show him that life is silly and fun and rewarding if you do it right. He's teaching me to appreciate my parents and how much they cared for me, and how much they did for me. Every day I learn something new from him... another lesson in patience, or crisis management, or in how his little brain works. I try to parent him mindfully and with love and understanding.

And he's amazing, of course, like all kids are. Always growing and changing. Making us laugh, making up games and songs and words and names and imaginary friends. His little fantasy world is exceptionally rich and detailed, and grounded somewhat in reality. He doesn't daydream about knights and dragons and super heroes, but of running businesses and solving everyday problems.

He's a natural leader, unafraid to be loud and step of his shell, to make announcements to the entire playground, to catch attention of kids who are strangers to him, and try to get them organized into a game. And if they don't listen, or don't want to play, he just plays on by himself, cheerful and indefatigable in his games.

He loves sports, especially baseball, and he'll play any sport game you ask him too. He loves the Wings, especially Homer. He loves TV (Olivia, Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid, Thomas the Tank Engine) and he loves "video games" (all the games on PBSkids.org). He loves family dinners, and gramma's house. And playing, and Papa John and Gramma Donna and GG. He loves music, "singing", banging on the xylophone, drum kit, and organ. He loves clothes and shopping, and new toys and pirates. And Star Wars. And being read to.

I love spoiling him, and his birthday will be no different. We had lunch at Dunkin Donuts, and we're going to Henry Ford Museum with his friends later. For dinner we're going out to Red Robin, his choice. Happy Birthday Nicklas John! I hope this one is the best one yet. ^_^

Jun. 12th, 2011

Raffi USA
I found this at one of my favorite blog sites, Lovely Living and thought it would be a good jumping off point for this entry. It's a list of questions to answer for Mid Year reflections.

Think back about the past five months. Have you:
Kept your New Year's resolutions? Yes, I have been markedly less lazy. My house is spectacularly clean and organized when compared to where it was 5 months ago. :)

Budgeted well, making inroads on debt, adding to your savings, but also allowing yourself occasional little treats and luxuries? Yes, and no. We did a pretty big rearranging project and spent about $1,500 on that, but that was a pretty small budget, all things considered. We have to pay to have the foundation cracks fixed on the house, and that's going to be expensive. We will not be adding much to our savings this year. Our luxuries like eating out have stayed about the same.

Spent quality time with friends and family? Yes, I think everyone in the family has been doing a good job with this. :)

Eaten well and exercised? Much, much better lately. I'm now going to the gym at least 3 times a week (trying for 4 or 5) and at two of those times I'm seeing a trainer who is helping me to improve my strength.

Spent time reinforcing pets' training? No, not at all. Dora is an insane dog, but thankfully she's small. She's very badly trained, unfortunately. Rabbits are rabbits, no training needed there. I just need to remember to keep up on the cages and the grooming, which I could improve on for the second half of the year, certainly.

Kept your house well maintained (not just "clean") and orderly? Yes, and no. It's way better than it has ever been. I'm not 100% there on "orderly" but I've been making menu plans and grocery shopping lists and sticking to those, as well as sticking to my cleaning plans, so I think I am doing an okay job.

Given to charity since Christmas? Volunteered your time? I haven't volunteered since before Christmas, unfortunately. I've been contributing regularly to charities via monetary contributions and donations of new/used household items, clothes, etc. I had planned on doing a lot of work in the Earthworks garden, but I'm finding my own garden to be more than enough to try to manage. I do plan on donating some of the produce from it to either Gleaners or Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

Written letters, made phone calls and really spent time with friends and family, not just online? I am not a letter writer, and I don't see time for that in my schedule recently. I don't think I keep in touch well with family outside the internet, and it hasn't been a priority for me, but it's something to keep in mind.

Made time for yourself to enjoy your hobbies, writing, journaling, book clubs, etc? Oh, yes, we've been doing a good job with that. Also, we now all have space for the things we enjoy. Nick and I share a playroom/sewing/craft area upstairs, and Princess has a computer/Lego lab in the basement. We now do all our living (tv watching, sleeping, etc) on the first floor.

So yeah, that's a pretty good update, actually. I can't think of much else to put, besides the fact that Nick is almost 5 which is crazy. It's really starting to hit me that the next time he goes to school it will be to Kindergarten.

Actual conversation snippet with Nick.

Raffi USA
Nick (as Luke): "Princess Leia?"
Me (as Leia): "What?"
Nick: "You know Darth Vader?"
Me: "Yes, I know Darth Vader"
Nick: "You know those white guys that he has, with the guns?"
Me: "Yes, I know Stormtroopers, and I don't like them!"
Nick: "Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers are coming for dinner."
Me: "No, they can't come for dinner. I don't like them, I hate them, we're the good guys and they're the bad guys."
Nick *pause*: ... "You know Grand Moff Tarkin?"
Me: "Yes."
Nick: "He's coming for dinner."
Me: "NO! He blew up my home, he cannot come for dinner."
Nick: "This is your home. It's not blowed up."
Me: "No, not here, my home planet of Alderaan. He blew it up."
Nick: "Welllll... you know Darth Vader?"
Me: "Yes!"
Nick: "Is he...? Is you?" (long pause while he figures out how to say this) "You gotta invite Darth Vader for dinner, even though you don't like him, because he's your dad, okay?"

Red Wings fangirlsplosion, playoff edition

Raffi USA
(needs to be a separate entry, for obvious reasons)

Oh, those Red Wings. How much do I love and hate them all at once?? Coming back from being down 3-0 and tying it up to 3-3 in a playoff series, against an opponent THIS GOOD, is amazing. Getting down 3-0 in the series STILL makes my head hurt though if I think about it.

But they've really, really turned it on. And the Joe Louis Arena crowd, OMG. I've never been more proud to be a Wings fan than I was last night, watching that game on TV and hearing that crowd cheer. It was incredible. I know a lot of people who were there, and guys, let me just say you have my undying love and respect. That was AWESOME. You could SEE the players react to the fans. The POSITIVE energy that the Wings fans put out there was massively inspiring.

Not taunting, not jeering, just BELIEVING. And never stopping. It's so good, guys. I am so proud of all of us.

I didn't do as well as I could've done, with regards to staying positive this series. I was a WRECK after we lost Game 3. But that seems like a million years ago, and I have now resolved not to give up hope. This is a new kind of faith I don't think I've had since 98. I believe, and I know the Wings do too.

Why not us?

May. 11th, 2011

Raffi USA
Ah, a spare moment for updateness.

So much going on domestically, it's rather insane.

First, the household binder is fabulous. Absolutely awesome. I really do need to rely on to-do lists to keep the house clean, and the binder is amazing for that. Some of the highlights are that I've vacuumed our bedroom once a week each of the last 3 weeks, and we've kept the stairs clean as well. The house is cleaner and nicer looking in general. I also have the calendar for Nick's school in there, and party invitations and reminders about round-up etc. It's not the most complete thing in the world, but I have high hopes for it.

I've got a list of pages to add to the binder that I need to create, and hopefully I will have time for that soon.

Princess and I had discussed moving and buying or building a "green" house, but we're not willing to suffer the $50,000 hit the house took when the market collapsed. Seeing as we're effectively stuck here, I proposed a plan for rearranging the house to use our space more efficiently. We're too spread out across the house right now, and there's too much going up and down stairs.

Basically we would be moving all of our living area to the main floor of the house, using the bedroom as a bedrooms (rather than as a playroom and a study as they currently are) and using the living room for our main living space, rather than the basement.

With our new plan, the upstairs nook (currently the craft area) would house the rabbit, and the main room would have my craft stuff and Nick's playroom, and the basement would house the computers (except a home theatre PC and a laptop) and a lab/lego building area for Princess.

Unfortunately, creating more living space is going to cut down on our storage space, so we're going to have to have to do a massive purge of stuff. One thing we decided is that we will sell the vast majority of my books and switch to an ereader. Now taking recommendations for the best e-reader out there. ^_^

We're also going to have to eliminate a LOT of clothing. I have to get rid of clothes and books, two of my favorite things to hoard. It's not really going to be fun. But I know that I need to do it.

On the clothing side, I am one of those people who keeps things I never wear and I keep like 5 pairs of jeans in 3 sizes (4, 6, 8) because my weight fluctuates so much. I also did not used to have such a good handle on the laundry, though. Now that I am dedicated to doing the laundry twice a week, I can get rid of a lot of extraneous clothes and pair down to more versatile pieces that I wear all the time. Once again, I'm really NOT excited about this, but I realize it will help simplify my living, and I'll hopefully like it more in the long run.

As for books, that will be even harder. I don't know how I'm gonna part with some of them. I like when I open up a Star Wars novel and I see my name and phone number scrawled in there in my 5th grade penmanship. I love picking up a paperback and walking around the house with it, dragging it from room to room and treating it rather carelessly. But of course, books are just things, and I should be able to let them go. We are going to keep one small bookshelf for my books that I cannot part with. Nick will also have a bookshelf in his room and I don't really plan on getting rid of many of his books.

Husband also has some things to get rid of like old car parts and cardboard boxes. But really, I'm the packrat of the family. Well, Nick is too, but he's 4 and I feel that excuses him.

May. 5th, 2011

Raffi USA
Nick and I had a nice May the Fourth aka Star Wars day ("May the Fourth be with you" get it?).

We went to the mall and I bought Nick some Darth Vader shoes (I hadn't planned on this purchase and I'm already feeling a bit bad about it. They're definitely made in China and kind of crappy) and I also bought the Star Wars cookie cutters from Williams Sonoma.

We had Panda Express at the mall (kind of gross, not gonna lie) and then came back home, and made and decorated Star Wars sugar cookies.

We made a crap ton of cookies and I still have a lot of dough to freeze for the next time I want to make cutouts. For the record I am getting better at cutouts, or at least more efficient. I can't believe how much my rolling pin skills have improved. It's silly because I know I've been rolling out dough since I was a kid. My mom and grandma always made sure to help me with that part and give me instruction. Actually my mom taught me everything I know about making sugar cookies.

I make very nice sugar cookies, too. My decorating skills are honestly less than stellar, but I did a few cute ones. Nick loves decorating cookies, even though the kitchen becomes a INCREDIBLE mess when we do sugar cookies.

First, I usually manage to spill flour all over everything, which Nick and Dora walk through. Then, when it comes to the decorating part, Nick drips glaze all over the table and we both spill the decorating sugars often. Still he enjoys it, and I do too, for the most part. Even if cleaning up afterwards is a terrible task.

Arbor Consort rehearsal was good. "Though Amaryllis Dance in Green" is coming along. It's such a hard song to learn. We FINALLY put it together with all 5 parts last night after working it for about a month in sectionals. Obviously the sectionals helped because while it didn't exactly go awesome with all the parts together it didn't trainwreck terribly either. I just hope the song is worth all the effort we've put into it. I keep hearing promises that I'll like it once I learn it. We'll see.

And then there was the crappy part of the day, and that was the Wings game.

We're down 3-0 in the series vs San Jose and it's not good. It feels like an exact repeat of last year, which makes it all the more frustrating, but somehow less sad and disappointing? I mean, I feel like, "Didn't we just do this, exactly this way?" Depressing, but easier to accept for me. I would guess some people feel like I do, and some people feel the opposite. I'm in the "Oh, yuck, meh, not this again" camp, but I'm sure there are others who are like, "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?! AGAIN?!?!?!" and this year is worse for them. I don't know if any of that makes sense, I think I've gotten to the point where I'm just typing.

I'm staying away from blogs, twitter and the mainstream media though. I NEVER want to rehash losses. I just want to pretend it didn't happen. I'm gonna enjoy the rest of the season no matter how long it lasts. That's one thing I'm determined to do. :)

Apr. 26th, 2011

Raffi USA
I started our Family Organizational Binder yesterday and it was a pretty big project so I'm gonna post about it. :) I'm hoping that the binder will be a "backup" to all the information I've been holding in my head. I don't want to be lost without it, but because I get distracted easily, I think it will be much easier to have a "command center" I can consult when I find myself thinking, "What was I doing?"

There are lots of binders and templates online... mine was inspired by one at the iHeart Organizing blog. I printed a few pages from that binder to add to my own (she had them free on her site for a few weeks, now you have to buy them from her etsy shop).

The first page in my binder is "Daily Cleaning Tasks" which is a laminated page with a checklist of things that need to be cleaned/done every day before we go to bed. Many of the things on the list were things I was in the habit of doing, or things that I had it in my head that I should do. I also added one thing we HAVEN'T been doing, that I would like to have done, and that is "clean off the stairs." It drives me nuts that things will just sit on the steps waiting to go upstairs, for like a week.

The next 7 pages are also daily cleaning tasks, but specific to each day of the week. The first item on each of those pages is "Complete Daily Cleaning tasks". I basically thought of things that needed to be done weekly and spread them out over all 7 days, so I am not overwhelmed by cleaning any one day. These are also laminated pages so I can check them off with a wet erase marker. For example, Tuesdays tasks are "Finish laundry if necessary" (Monday is laundry day), clean microwave, clean out refrigerator and grocery shopping if not done Monday.

Thursday and Sunday have "catch up" tasks, to do anything that got skipped earlier in the week. Because I'm using a wet-erase marker, I'll be able to check back through the previous days and find out what I missed. Some days also include "Do 2 monthly deep cleaning tasks."

The next page is "Monthly Deep Cleaning Tasks" which are exactly what they sound like, deep cleaning things that should be done monthly. Like a good thorough clean of the stove top (including the drip pans and under the burners) and cleaning cobwebs and washing blinds and bedding.

After that I have the meal and grocery shopping section. I have a laminated page for a Meal Planner with the days of the week and slots for Breakfast, Lunch, Snack and Dinner. After that I have shopping lists for the 3 places I grocery shop the most, Kroger, Trader Joe's and Zerbos (Zerbos is the local health food store).

The lists are like most of those you will find online, with items listed in different sections of the store, but of course customized to what I buy (Almond Milk, for example, and the supplements we get at the health food store). These are in sheet protectors. I printed 20 copies of each grocery list. I put 2 copies of each in the binder and the rest in the basement.

Next come Nick's school calendars (we only have one month left of preschool!) and school related documents.

After that are the sheets I printed from the iHeart Organizing blog which are "Auto Maintenance Log" (one for each car), "Important Information" (phone numbers for basically EVERYTHING, doctors, insurance, banks, etc), "Important Dates" (a month by month list of things like birthdays and anniversaries), "Family Gift Giving Plan" and a very comprehensive "Household Maintenance Checklist" which goes season by season and includes things like checking smoke detector batteries and outdoor chores like gutter cleaning and all that.


After those pages, I have some empty sheet protectors to put things like the documents I'm collecting for Nick's kindergarten registration and for party and shower invitations. Those things used to end up in the mail "organizer" (more like repository for CRAP) and on the fridge door. So I'm really looking forward to having another spot where they will not be so clutter-y.

The binder also contains the extra copies of Nick's Chore Chart (which is really a combination of chore and behavior charts). It's new, but it's working out well. Nick really likes earning stickers. He woke up this morning excited to let Dora out and feed her so he could earn some stickers for his chart. The daily reward is video games, and if he gets most of his stickers, at the end of the week, he gets ice cream from the place of his choosing. I do keep the current chore chart on the fridge.

So, I'm really thankful I stumbled across the blog with the household binder challenge. I still don't particularly heart organizing, but I'm at least starting to *like* it. ^_^

Mar. 27th, 2011

Raffi USA
Whelp, I’m sick again. Must be the spring cold. Anyway, no big deal. Just a little draining and annoying. I don’t have much of a voice, which will be interesting to say the least for babysitting tomorrow. I’m hoping I can type this whole entry without having to blow my nose or cough into my hands, because I don’t feel like washing my hands before touching the mouse/keyboard again. Ha.
Diet talk!Collapse )
Spring cleaning is going well. I rearranged the playroom and packed up all the unused toys. So we have cleaned out all the indoor toys, hooray! If it is nice enough this week I will try to do a purge on outdoor/sports toys. I have pretty much gone room by room for spring cleaning. It’s nice to get rid of all these unused items. I still have a lot of deep cleaning to do, but by cleaning out and organizing I think I am making the deep cleaning part easier to tackle. I still have to clean out the craft area, which I pretty much always hate. And I have to clean out the unfinished side of the basement. Stuff accumulates down there constantly. It’s kind of like our junk area. We have a table with a bunch of random crap on top of it that all needs to be organized.

I’ve been sooooo madrigal happy lately. I have 2 pieces that I want Arbor Consort to add to our rep. They are “La Tricotea” and “Too Much I Once Lamented”. Love them both! Been emailing with Gyuri about “La Tricotea”. He’s such a genius boy, honestly. I had an ugly cpdl copy, so he typeset the song and transposed to fit the vocal ranges of our singers better. How awesome is that? Answer: So fucking awesome.

Let’s see… anything else? Not really. Just been doing quite a bit of TAC stuff, cleaning stuff, and domestic stuff. Speaking of domestic stuff, I think I need to go make the bread for the week right now. ^_^

Mar. 22nd, 2011

Raffi USA
So, I'm making progress, making progress still. :)

As far as incorporating more fruits and veggies into my diet, I've definitely done well today. I had an apple, and a salad (topped with a marinated mixture of mango, blood oranges and beets). *burp*

Cut for diet talkCollapse )

Ahhhh, the wonders of spring cleaning. The National Kidney Foundation is doing their charity pick up around here on Thursday, soooooooo, no excuses on getting rid of stuff and simplifying around here. It doesn't get much easier than carting things out to the curb and letting someone drag them away. We've cleaned out 2 toy chests, Nick's dresser, and I've cleaned out my shoe storage areas. I still need to clean out my closet and drawers... I am not sure if my darling husband has anything he needs to clean out or not. I would guess not though.

I've done MUCH better job with recording charitable donations for tax write off purposes. I actually have a list in Word with everything I'm donating to the NKF, and when I dropped things off at First Step I made sure to actually write some details down on the receipt as well as an estimated value. I've also already done better saving some receipts for monetary donations, which I really wanted to get better at. I am not at all a paperwork girl. So basically if I can get a receipt home and into the hands of my husband I feel I succeeded.

A little tired today, dealing with random Nick sleep issues the past 2 nights (one thunder related, the other unexplained), and a little sore from running around with children outside. Of course, it's frakking cold out again, so no worries on getting more sore today. Boooooo. I'd rather it be warm out and be all exhausted.

Spring cleaning!

Raffi USA
I'm making progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. I thought I would post about it, to encourage myself to do more. Without further ado, my accomplishments:

- Cleaned out and organized bathroom shelves, cleaned shelving units
- Cleaned out food cupboards in kitchen
- Cleaned out cleaning supplies in kitchen
- Emptied junk/broom closet completely and turned it into a recyclables organizer
- Cleaned mini-blinds in bathroom
- Replaced old ugly valance in kitchen with cute new handmade valance
- Cleaned out Nick's drawers (listed and set aside items for donation)

I still have a lot to do, but I'm happy with my progress so far. As an added incentive/bonus, this afternoon I'm taking some of the unused personal care items from the bathroom, and some of the unused cleaning supplies from the kitchen and am donating them to First Step.

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