Monday, March 25, 2013

Week in Review: March 18-24

The highlight of last week was definitely a visit from my Susan friend! She arrived Saturday afternoon & left the next day. She even drove through a blizzard to see me. We completed a project we began (& failed) 2 weeks ago when my fam & I visited HER in Bridgeport. This time, we got it right. Well, we hope so. The paper pinhole camera came together lickety-split, but I have yet to get the 3 rolls of film developed. I know. ROLLS OF FILM?!?!? It's so sad that everything is digital now---only because it's not so convenient to develop rolls of film in one hour anymore. At least in my town. I haven't found a place that develops them in such a hasty fashion. They'll need shipped away & I'll get the pics back in a few days. I know. A FEW DAYS?!?!?! We had quite the hilarious time in a makeshift darkroom (a.k.a "the tiny guest bathroom the size of a small closet") trying to get the film out of the camera. It was COMPLETELY dark & well, maybe you just had to be there. We also went to Starbucks to practice taking photos in a different surrounding. (Other than my messy house.) We set the camera on a shelf & let it sit still for a 7-minute exposure. Craziness & lots of fun & I can't wait to get the film, although Susan wants me to wait to open it until she gets her copies, but I don't know if I can, & we might have to Skype.

In other news, my 8 year old daughter brought home a piece of  "inappropriate" artwork she drew in class. Each student created artwork based on an idiom they wanted to use. You know: "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse." Or: "Break a leg." Or even: "The early bird gets the worm." Well, Pazely decided upon "Who cut the cheese?" as her inspiration. The students' artwork was hung up in the hallway. But Pazely's was deemed inappropriate & she had to take it down. (She wasn't the only one though. Pazely showed her finished project to some friends in class, & they decided to do their own "Who cut the cheese?" idiom. So theirs were taken down too.) Seriously?? Who doesn't love a good fart idiom? I know I do.

I'm sure you've been hearing the crickets on the blog lately. I've been obsessed with video-making. More specifically: The iPhone app, VINE. I celebrated 100 followers last week. (I'd love it oodles if you 'liked' me on VINE: Nikki Mans) I have taken over part of the kitchen counter to create my 6-second foodie movies. And the word "VINE" is commonly used now in the WhiMSy love household. The Mr. even left for work one day & said, "Have fun with your VINES!" One series I've begun is taking macro still-shots of different things & playing my melodica in the background. I call them "musical pictures". I also tell people I'm a composer now. Of 6-second songs. Someday when I grow up, I want to be one of the cool kids of VINE.

Last week I also had lunch dates & coffee dates & dinner out with the fam & an orthodontist appointment with the 10 year old & I took the girls to watch their friends at the elementary school talent show & we even had snow & I ate lots of cookies & drank lots of root beer.
And I'm so happy it's Spring!
Oh, & today is my mommy's birthday! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week in Review: March 11-17

Last week I...
...finished the last of our family trip to Bridgeport with a final run to Taco's Mexico, swimming in the hotel pool, relaxing in the hotel room, breakfast in bed & chilling to the max. After visiting the last little town we called "home" for the last few years, I found I miss 3 things the most: train graffiti, having everyone know you when you walk into a place of business, & the landscape/scenery/wildlife/cows.

...hosted the 2nd Knitty Night. It is so relaxing to sit & chat & knit. I love these once a month evenings.

...ate pumpkin pie.

...made Play-Doh desserts & sweets with Pazely.

...was as equally obsessed with Vine as I was the week before. Please follow me on Vine: Nikki Mans. I try to post at least one video a day. And they're only 6-second videos, so it won't take much of your time to watch & like & follow & stuff. I just gained my 100th follower too! Woohoo! Now, if I can only get to 10,000...
(If you haven't already, download the Vine iPhone app! Not available for android as of yet. Sadness, I know.)

...GOT ANOTHER TATTOO!! Actually, I got two. The tats were an early {very early-ish} birthday prezzie from the Mr. They're both paper airplanes. One on the back of my arm, the other on my forearm. It has been exactly a year since I got my first one. It's about time. I'm gonna have a full sleeve someday. But tattoos hurt like the dickens!!! One tiny doodle at a time. One painful tiny doodle at a time.

...gained two temporary pets in the form of button quail. We're bird sitting for some friends for several days. And, oh man! Those buggers are noisy in the morning with their loud crowing & shrieking!

...had a heckuva time getting used to Daylight Savings Time. I'm still struggling. Curse you, clocks, with all your changes! 
*Wags fist at the nearest time-keeper*

...watched as the girls practiced boxing with daddy. So cute to watch their tiny fists & little scowls.

...made plans for Susan to come visit from Bridgeport. She'll be here Saturday! WOOHOO!!!!! We are planning to attempt Round 2 of making a paper pinhole camera. The first one we assembled was too small. Gah! We're experts now though, so it should be smooth sailing. I'm totally stoked!

For a photo play-by-play, click HERE.

Animal friends

Last night was the first night in 5 days that I didn't wake in the wee hours of the morning because of the birds. Button quail, to be exact. We are bird sitting for some friends who {I'm jealous} have flown to Washington to spend time with family.
The button quail are housed in a sweet little vintage cage, though separated, because they keep pecking at each other's heads.
And, surprisingly, they have no names. My friend says she calls them "her boys". And, jokingly, she said {as she giggled}, "You can name them if you want." All joking aside, they are now named Chicho & Miguel. Although, Pazely (the 8 year old), wanted to name one Squirm (because it squirms a lot), & the other Poopsie (because...well, you know). 
We feed & change their water daily. And on occasion we'll give them a treat: oranges or lettuce. Their cage is looking pretty messy, much like my house---except I don't poop everywhere. So, it looks like I'll be tidying up the creatures' cage today.
My bird-owner friend said, "Don't worry if something happens to the birds while I'm gone."
"Like what?" I asked. "Like, if they die?!"
I thought bird sitting would be good practice since the girls want a bigger pet so badly.

The girls currently have beta fish. But what they really want are animals that can be held & cuddled. (And I'm not saying they haven't tried those moves on their poor little fish.)
We left on a 4 day trip just recently & forgot to ask anyone to come over & feed  Jo-Jo & Bud ("Bud" is short for "Rosebud". I laugh every time I say that.) while we were gone.
Well, we came home from the trip & the girls immediately went to their rooms to check on their fish. Pazely's  fish, Bud, was swimming around all happy-like. Zoey's fish, Jo-Jo, was sitting very still on the bottom of the tank. I tapped the bowl, I shook it a bit too. I cried out, "Jo-Jo!!!!" But, nothing. Zoey fell to the ground & screamed, "Get out mom! Get out of my room!" I felt so heartbroken. She didn't even like that fish all that well. Yet, she became very upset at finding it so lifeless. 
My insides literally felt crushed for my little girl.
And, this, my friends, is why I don't want to have pets. I can't bear the day my girls may have to say "goodbye" to their friend forever. 
I closed the door to Zoey's room & left her sad & mad. She didn't like me all that well just then, being a fish murderer & all. I could just picture the day, many years later, when my children were all grown up, & Zoey recalling, "Hey, remember that time mom killed my first pet?" What a horrible thing to have attached to you.
As I walked down the stairs, I felt so numb. 
Then I heard Zoey shouting, "He's alive! He's alive!"
I darted back up those stairs & swung her door wide open. And there was Jo-Jo, slowly swimming to the surface. 
He's a heavy sleeper I guess. Either that, or we caught him mid-death.
I cannot explain the sense of joy & relief I felt. My heart was flooded with gladness. I hugged Zoey.
I looked her in the eye & stared into her blue eyes as if to say, "See, I don't kill stuff."
And she looked into my little brown eyes as if to say, "Can I have a kitten, mom?"
And then I looked into her eyes & spoke without speaking, "You'll have to ask your dad. And you know what he's going to say. He hates cats."
And then she sighed out loud.
As I walked out of Zoey's room, I gave Jo-Jo an extra pinch of stinky fish food.
Way to stay alive little guy!

Well, I hear the birds calling. Time to clean someone's house.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Week in Review: March 4-10

Last week I...
...celebrated my 14th anniversary with the Mr.
...watched 'Wreck It Ralph' with the littles.
...rejoiced when Pazely got a major haircut. (No more tangles! Woohoo!)
...had a sick Zoey home from school one day.
...attempted another Shepherd's Pie. (I don't think I'll ever win. The girls hate peas.)
...played with new iPhone accessories from the Mr. (A new dolly & lens!)
...had SO MUCH FUN making stop-motion foodie Vines!!! (Find me on Vine: Nikki Mans)
...took a 3 hour drive with the fam for the girls' Spring Break to Bridgeport, our last place of residence before moving to North Platte. Had good times hanging with friends! The Mr. also got to preach at our last church while I led worship. to hang with Susan all day Sunday, making a pinhole camera & visiting a friends' ranch. I miss my friend.
...relaxed in a hotel.
...soaked up the lovely atmosphere that is the Western Panhandle of Nebraska. I miss the scenery. I miss seeing the fellas in their hunting/cowboy gear. I miss the small town where everyone knows you when you walk into a store.
...bowled. Almost won. to dine at some favorite eateries while on spring break vacay: Taco's Mexico, & The Wonderful House.

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Last week I helped Zoey clean her room. As in floor-to-ceiling organizational throw-down. I like to do a major overhaul in the girls' rooms a couple times each year. So the clutter doesn't get out of control. And when I "helped" Zoey, I mean that I cleaned while she lounged on her bed watching me. For the most part.

All this tidying & un-cluttering spurred Zoey's little sister, Pazely, to put her own room in order. While Zoey was watching her mother transform her bedroom from messy to magnifico, Pazely was whipping her own space into shape. It was a regular cleaning party. I paused once or twice to help Pazely bring a shelf into her room & find little bins to hold her favorite tiny things & drawing supplies.

After about 7 hours of work (spread over two days), I was finally done!
It is so funny to watch the girls in their clean rooms. They hang out in their "new" digs for countless hours, happy with smiles. Everything is fresh & novel. It's like they've been handed the keys to their very own private, glorious toy store. And yet, they've had it all along, only in a discombobulated state.

As the Mr. got home from work, the girls squealed as they pulled him up the stairs to show him their new rooms. I heard the Mr. tell the girls, "Wow! You should do something special for mommy for all the hard work she's done."

Several minutes later Pazely walked down the stairs & found me in the kitchen preparing supper. She wrapped her arms around me & then handed me an envelope she made with paper & staples. Inside of the envelope were a handful of coins.
Seventy-three cents, to be exact.

Nebraska's minimum wage rate, as of March 2013 is $7.25 per hour. I basically got paid about 10.5 cents an hour. It doesn't take a math whiz to note that I made well under minimum wage. Will I report this to the United States Department of Labor? Probably not. Ok, ok, I won't.

Here's another way to look at it: Pazely just gave me over 20% of her weekly income. That's quite a sacrifice on the part of an 8 year old. And I felt terrible that she was giving me her hard-earned cash. So I kindly shared how grateful I was for her gift, but pleaded for her to take it back. She looked as if she were about to cry. Which made me feel like crying. And I'm pretty sure I broke Mommy Rule #14:
Accept the gift. Take it. No matter what. 
(Even if it's alive.) (Or smells.)

So I took it.

Being a mom is my job. And, no, I'm not going to get into the whole long list of things I do as a mom, adding up how much more I WOULD get paid, compared to the regular employed people of the universe, if I DID get paid. And, no, I'm not going to get into the debate of how mommies work every waking hour of the day (& some non-waking hours too), can't clock out, don't have scheduled breaks, can't switch hours with co-workers, can't call in sick, don't have paid vacations, & can't quit to pursue other employment opportunities.

 But I will say this...
The next day I secretly deposited the money Pazely gave me back into her piggy bank.
Would you even DARE to give back your paycheck at work??
I didn't think so.

Giant gold star for TEAM STAY-AT-HOME-MOM.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I didn't remember until I was just finishing breakfast prep for the girls this morning: Today is my anniversary. As the Mr. was strolling past me in the kitchen to help with the laundry, I stared at him, a little surprised at my forgetfulness. "Happy Anniversary," I uttered. He responded with the most jolly, "Happy Anniversary!" as if he knew all along. He didn't remember either. I know he didn't.

As the girls were eating their breakfast, I asked "Do you know how long mommy & daddy have been married?" 
Pazely squealed: "Forty-two years!!"
"What?" I said, "We aren't even forty-two years old."
I gave them a riddle. "To find out how long we've been married, add Zoey's age (10) PLUS Pazely's age (8) and THEN subtract that by the number 4."
They started yelling out answers:
Me: "What?"
Me: "No!"
Me: *slaps forehead*

Despite the fact that my 3rd & 4th grader need to revisit the basics of 1st grade mathematics, the answer to the riddle is 14. The Mr. & I have been married for 14 years.

This year our anniversary falls on a Wednesday. It's a regular work day. Busy & such. We have church tonight. And the girls get out of school early today. At breakfast Zoey stated the obvious to me: "You get Pazely & I for most of the day mom!" Which means there's probably not much time for proper anniversary celebration. Pazely replied, "You can always put Zoey & I in our rooms so you & daddy can be alone."
Just to see what she'd say, I asked, "What would daddy & I do ALONE??"
I turned to see her make a pucker face & listened as she made loud kissy noises.
Zoey looked at her sister & said, "You're gross."

After the Mr. handed me a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses this afternoon, we had a nice little lunch at our favorite place in town, Gracie Mae's Bakery & Cafe. I got my usual chicken panini & the Mr. got the Cuban.
Earlier in the day the Mr. had thrown his arm up in the air, gave a fist pump, & said, "We did it!"
Seriously, I not only look at our annivesary as a celebration, but as a "We have overcome!" moment.
"We didn't give up!"
"We have made it this far!"

Marriage. Is. Hard. Work.
And anniversaries are a chance for the Mr. & I to give ourselves

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lunch Notes: Choose Your Own Adventure

I have recently introduced my girls to those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books that I LOVED as a kid. In fact, last night while I was in the kitchen doing kitchen-y stuff, Pazely sat at the dining table & read one of those books to me, letting ME choose my own adventure. At one point I had the option to join a tribe, be their leader & help free them from the oppressive ruler of the land, OR decline the tribe's offer to be leader &, instead, escape from the island. I told Pazely, "Well, I'm gonna miss you & Zoey, but I feel that the right thing to do is to become the leader of the tribe." She said, "Mo-ooom! It's not real." (Haha!) In the end of the story, I was thrown in a dungeon where the oppressive ruler contemplated my fate. 

Anyway, it got me thinking this morning: Why not make a "Choose Your Own Adventure" lunch note???
Now, this lunch note idea does take a little thinking & a bit of time. But not much. Seriously, the more silly & nonsense-ical, the better!

When Pazely opens her lunch box today, she'll see a note placed right on top of her food. When she reads it, she'll get to the bottom & have 2 choices. If she chooses the first option, she'll be directed to simply flip the card over & the story continues. (And there it also ends.)

If she chooses the second option, she is directed to look under the container of applesauce, where the story continues. (And there, it also ends.)

You could, of course, let the story go on, giving your lunch eater another option. (Tape another note around their juice bottle, tuck a note in their napkin, adhere a note to the lid of their lunchbox, etc.)  But I kept it simple & brief.  

I'm guessing she'll read both options just for the fun of it. I'm excited to hear how she liked her lunch note today. I am certain she will think it was pretty cool. (And I bet she will be relieved that the adventure she chose was not real.)

Find my collection of original "Lunch Notes" ideas by clicking HERE.

Week in Review: February 25-March 3

Last week I...
...made Vine videos. I'm so addicted!!! (Vine is an iPhone app that lets you make 6-second videos. Come follow me: Nikki Mans)
...watched the Oscars, the day after airing, on my iPhone, alone in bed. 
...wished my grandmother a happy 91st birthday!
...had a movie night with the girls: Rise of the Guardians.
...started making plans to visit Bridgeport next weekend during the girls' Spring Break: I get some Susan time!! (And for the first time, the Mr. & I will be partnering for a ministry itinerate together. We'll be going to our last church home: he'll be preaching, I'll be leading worship.)
...dined on delicious steaks, grilled on the BBQ. (I haven't had a steak in forevers!)
...snacked on pie for 3 days in a row. (I ate other stuff too, not just pie.)
...finished Anne of Green Gables & began book #2: Anne of Avonlea.
...went on 2 afternoon dates with the Mr.
...helped play the part of "Tooth Fairy" for another of Zoey's lost teeth.

Click HERE for a photo play-by-play.