Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My crowning New Year's Eve achievement

Bank ledger - balanced on first try!

I think that's worth popping the cork on non-alcoholic bubbly for the evening!  Bought for the children's entertainment.  And rightly would have been celebrated with anyway - okay I'm rambling. 

And who is out there actually working on personal bills on New Year's Eve anyway?!? 

But I have something even better to crow about.  Last night I reorganized my entire billing filing system in preparation for getting my 2013 taxes in order AND I made an appointment with an accountant next week.  Such a grown up!  I feel so professional and accomplished :)

How to reach a live agent through Macy's credit card

To reach a live speaking human, yell AGENT three times into the phone.  The teleprompter will try to get you to input your information, repeatedly, but that only leads to another list of services which do not include speaking to an actual person.  So just yell AGENT repeatedly until the teleprompter finally directs you to a human being.

They will also remove the $25 late fee if it's your first time calling and you've somehow managed to put in the incorrect account number for your bank thus leading to said late fee.  

Your welcome.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Originally titled "last post of 2013" but because I can't leave well enough alone was updated so I could spout a few more random and possibly unnessary blog posts before the year ends

Productivity has fallen by more than 50% on this blog since 2012.  We've had some major life changes that have forced me to reallocate time.  The biggest being our move to Maryland mid-year.  Working from home was supposed to afford more time and less driving time but I think I've been working longer hours then ever before!  I think a wise new years resolution would be to restructure my work hours.  I've been staying up too late, sleeping in too late and that pushes my work hours too late.  Time to get on a proper schedule put work where it belongs! 

That said, I'm considering exploring a new theme on my blog.  A blog friend and I have been exchanging articles regarding human rights issues; typically the kind found in the work force like domestic worker abuse and factory worker abuse.  I wonder if we might make a place to highlight issues, bring them to light and make people aware.  I know there are already some great companies doing this like Fair Trade, and what can one person really do to make a difference?  I ask myself that all the time, but who really knows what one article will make a difference in your buying patterns?  Or maybe it's a series of articles that slowly changes one's mindset.  I know mine has been changing as I'm made more aware of where products come from.  Is it really possible to dig deeper and know where all our products are made?  Again, there are many great companies already working hard to highlight these issues, but maybe readers of this site do not know of them. 

Well, it's an issue that's been bothering me for a long time so I thought why not make some noise on my little side of the internet.  So now the only question is, how can I handle a BIG topic and actually be productive on this blog?  Well maybe it's all down to scheduling.  Get work hours under control, and everything else falls into place! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A letter to Santa, from The Fabulous Violette

Dear Santa,

Have heard rumor that mama sent out a Christmas List.  Just want you to know, it's all wrong!  Here is what I really want:
  1. A force field or bubble that surrounds me as I claim new prize that Sam and Charlotte cannot break through and grab from my hands.
  2. An entire wall of those wonderful metal handles on mama's dresser.  They make such a lovely sound when flipped up and down.  I could do this all day long.  Have never understood why parents don't appreciate repeated jarring noises.
  3. My very own bubble wand that somehow keeps the liquid inside even when turned upside down. You're Santa, you figure it out!
  4. A pot with dirt that I can empty and refill without getting yelled at.  Preferably inside where it's warm.
  5. Everything on mama's dresser with a stool so I can reach all the way to the back.
XOXO

The Fabulous Violette

Thursday, December 12, 2013

So your mommy works from home? How to enjoy time in her office without being booted out!!!

Dear Internet,

My name is The Fabulous Violette - pronounced VEE-O-LETTE when mommy makes up silly songs about me.

Having mommy work from home has been a source of absolute delight and extreme frustration.  The latter when she shuts the door.  I do my best to get her attention by bolting off the couch and demanding cuddle time every single time she comes out to use the bathroom or get a drink. 

Recently, I discovered the key to actually STAYING in her office for an extended period of time.  It's called "Not pulling things off the desk and putting them in my mouth"!  Have learned to watch mama's face while cautiously removing each curious object from her desk.  Now that we've come to a mutual understanding, she occasionally let's me sit under her desk and sort various objects like paper clips, sparkly hearts, pennies, a miniature cup and iPhone plug.

See, this is me standing by the cords and not getting in trouble!


Another rule is "Not pulling handfuls of dirt out of plants and tossing it onto the floor!".  Have learned to gently touch dirt without removing mass quantities.


Finally, mama's office has the best candy in the world - chocolate covered pomegranates!  Once I spot the bag it's all over because I pester her over and over until she gives in.  One is never enough so after a few minutes of stomping my foot and desperately trying to crawl into her lap to access more, I am booted out.  Oh how I love those chocolates!!!
 

XOXO

The Fabulous Violette

Monday, November 04, 2013

Where there is much love

The morning of my two week trip to Asia.  Twin alarms go off at 5am.  We've both prepared for this day in our own way.  As I huddle in my warm bed, counting down the minutes until I have to leave, his arm comes around me in a strong embrace.  Not the soft gentle kind, no, it's the tight grip of a husband who wants me to know I will be missed.

The night before I tell me oldest I'm leaving for two weeks and she wraps herself around me, literally!  Arms and legs pinning me to her bed to show me how much she cares.  She says in a small voice "why can't I come with you?".  I tell her it's for work and I have to go alone.  Then she breaks my heart by saying "but I could help you".  Oh how I wish it were that easy to take a five year old around the world.

My mom stops by the morning before I leave and I have pleasure of helping her with a church study she's doing soon.  As she leaves she hesitates at the door, I tell her I'm leaving the next day and she says "I know".  She gives me a long look and a big hug and leaves.

There is much love in my little family and it's hard to say goodbye for two weeks. 

Off my game

Well I'm back in Asia for two weeks; it's my second trip of the year.  For some reason I've forgotten all my hard earned travel tips.  I got onto the plane without reorganizing my bag to make sure I had included toothbrush and sleep meds!  I think I pulled my bag down three times during the flight!  I forgot a pen and ear phones!  Who am I?  This is just crazy.  So in an effort to reorient myself for future travel, here is a list of must haves.

Carry-on that goes under the seat:
  1. Laptop
  2. Kindle
  3. Phone & Cord - because mid-trip I may have to charge it on the laptop, although today I let it run down to 15% but I don't recommend that ever!
  4. Snack
  5. Water
  6. Meds/Vitamins
  7. Glasses/Contact Case
  8. Toiletries that are necessary for pre-bed activities because on a 16 hour flight one must get into that pre-bed zone before attempting to sleep for 8 hours.
  9. Head Phones
  10. Sleep mask
  11. Travel Documents for hotel and other travel arrangements, I use a thin plastic folder that snaps
  12. Strap - to attach carry on to rolling bag - this is critical for easy walking through airports as it keeps the carry on from falling off
  13. Wallet
  14. Tissues or Napkins
  15. Business Cards
Must haves for the travel pack I wear around my neck:
  1. Passport
  2. Credit Card
  3. Pen
  4. Travel Document
  5. Mini notepad for notes
Have you noticed I don't carry a purse?  I adhere to the two travel bag limit and pack very carefully so that my carry on bag that goes in the overhead compartment has exactly one week's worth of clothes and I do laundry at the hotels.  This saves time of waiting for bags and saves me from over packing.  My goal this trip is to use everything I've packed.  If I haven't used it then it goes on the "ban list" for future travel. 

Back to the purse thing, I've noticed that when I travel that I have to take my laptop everywhere anyway so that bag basically becomes a giant purse.  I do pack a very small tiny bag that folds up really small so it's a nice back up when I don't need to take the laptop bag with me for a night out.  In case you're wondering, I have tried to do three bags and I hate getting yelled at in the airport.  I've been told to pack the third bag inside the others so often that I finally just gave up and adhere to the two bag rule. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sam's 1st Pumpkin Carving

Sam is three, so he hasn't created an entire story line around his pumpkins thoughts and feelings.  He did however provide the inspiration for this lovely cute pumpkin by drawing the face for dad to cut.


Charlotte's First Pumpkin Carving

Meet Shooby! She is happy when she gets picked up and held.


This is MAD Shooby!  She got put down and that makes her mad!


This is Shooby's PLAY face.  She's having so much fun she's just a blur! 


I hope Shooby doesn't mind, we need to give her a lobotomy so we can turn her into a jack-o-lantern.


Things have gotten very serious, Charlotte sits next to daddy dictating every line that must be cut.


"You're really good at this daddy!"


Shooby's mad face is complete.



Children's Church VS Adult Church

As we considered moving back to my hometown of Hagerstown, MD, the question of where to go to church was heavy on our hearts.  We had been attending Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale for almost ten years, five of which were spent with children attending their awesome children's ministry.  CCFL provides a class for every age group and it's broken down like school where you stay with your grade.  The babies are broken down in 6 month segments until they reach 2 so the church is really geared to meeting each child at their level.

There is a Calvary Chapel in Hagerstown and we pondered over going there and continuing with the concept that children are placed with their peers while parents attend adult church.  But the pull to return to the community that I grew up with, where everyone knows my name and family history was too much to ignore and we found ourselves back at the Church of God Universal.

It's challenging to attend church with 3 little ones under 5 but I think they can learn a few things from observing us as parents in church. 

1.  They watch me take notes just as I watched my mom take notes.  Taking notes has come easily for me over the years.  I can recall my first professional interview where the guy who eventually hired me looked at my notepad and said "wow those are really organized notes!".  I take notes everywhere I go, in meetings, at conferences, etc.  I find that my notes are typically more accurate and reliable than those I'm with.  I attribute my ability to watching my mom take meticulous notes in church.

2.  They learn how to be quiet for 2 hours.  Children's church is typically boisterous and full of music and fun.  In our church they must be quiet for 2 hours.  Is this unreasonable?  I don't think so, it builds character.

3.  Socialization after church.  In Florida, as soon as church ended we made a mad dash to the children's ministry to pick up our kids.  There was no standing around and chatting with people next to us.  We'd collect our kids and leave because by that point people were so dispersed there was no hope of connecting.  In the Church of God, we find ourselves staying for 20 minutes and chatting with those around us and all the way to the parking lot. Our kids enjoy this too, they hug everyone who stops by and bask in the attention.  We are providing them a community of people who will love them and value them. 

4.  Worship in reverence.  Children's church is fun and bouncy verses an adult setting where the songs are more reverent.  I think our children can learn about how to worship God in reverence when they sit with us every Sunday.

While I miss dropping my kids off and having 2 hours of free time, I'm also starting to value the time with them in church as they sit next to us and watch our actions. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pumpkin Patch 2013

My favorite time of year and the kids seem to agree, although it was quite cold! 










Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday

I know someone who's husband was in a terrible motorcycle accident a year ago.  They were only married one month when it happened.  By all conventional standards she has every right to be angry at her situation, I think I might be, but she's full of grace, love and hope in God.  Her blog is one of my favorite places to go for inspiration.  Today's nugget of wisdom is in her June 15 post, which I wrote on an index card and placed on my black board:




Friday, September 20, 2013

Peach Sauce - like applesauce but with Peaches!

The Pear Cucumber Sauce worked out so well, I decided to follow the same theory for using up a bag of peaches my mom dropped off. I started by searching online for a peach sauce recipe but it seems the most common recipe has something with brandy - not to knock brandy but we just don't have it handy and I'm not about to go out and buy something else to use up for something I'm already trying to use up!  So I decided to take what works for a peach pie and turn it into a sauce!

Step 1:
Peel 7-8 peaches and slice into medium size chunks or slices

Step 2:
Place peaches into a sauce pan with the following:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
Cook for 20 minutes

Step 3:
Let peaches cool, then puree in blender or food processor

Serve warm or cold over ice cream or just eat it!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Talk Like A Pirate Day - 2013

TLAPD is becoming a major hit, this year NPR put a post on Facebook and of course Twitter was abuzz with Pirate talk.  It's a fifth year tradition in our home; this year we went all out and hid pirate booty all over our backyard with a map to find the treasure!





Ah, the big treasure!


 Time to enjoy the booty!




Another great day!  We love building family traditions.

Fall, Fall, Fall - Glorious Fall

How I've missed you - all those years tucked down in Southern Florida, only wearing boots one week per year when we'd get a tiny cold spell.  I've just had one week of glorious cold weather in Hagerstown, MD and my boots are happy to be worn daily.

My oldest is enjoying stockings - bright, bright, bright stockings of fuschia pink and purple.  She attends a conservative private school where her uniforms are a bit bland in navy blue and tan so the bright colors really cheer her up each day.  I wonder if I could find butterfly stockings?  That would totally geek her out.

But alas, there is always a drawback.  Husband saw the summer electric bill and is freezing us to 70 degree temps inside.  I think he's willing to let it drop to 68.  This morning I tried, I really really tried to sit in a cold room with scarf, boots and sweater but my spine got cold!  Yes, my spine!  It felt all stiff and rigid until I finally caved and brought a little space heater in.  Now I'm nice and cozy in my den of solitude - i.e. home office.

I thought maybe the kids would revolt, but Sam, the three year old, is perfectly fine running around the house in a t-shirt and shorts.  I've asked him if he's cold and he says no!  The oldest also seems perfectly fine in short sleeves.  Kids, I can't believe they've left me out in the cold on this one! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bento Lunch Box

MORE BENTO LUNCH BOXES!

Tuesday's lunch includes the following:  cottage cheese, gummy bears, cheddar cheese, crackers, honey ham, banana and grapes.

 Wednesday's lunch:  grapes, cheese sandwich, carrots, Pringles and S'more's mix

Thursday's lunch:  Cottage cheese, Peach Sauce, Carrots, Cheese, Crackers, Carrots and Reese's cup!

Rose with Instagram


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Random Tuesday ~ Enjoying our new home

I've been in a bit of a blogging rut all summer - but according to the little counter on the side of my blog it looks like I've had 87 days since the BIG MOVE so it's time to join Random Tuesday folks and get back into the swing of things.

First of all - where is all my free time?  I thought that working from home would give me oodles of free time with no drive to work but somehow I have even more to do then ever before.  It might be due to a bigger house with a giant backyard that needs maintained.  Or maybe it's all the unpacking we have yet to do.  Or maybe it's all the stuff we've been invited to every single weekend!

Regardless, we are really enjoying life back in my hometown.  Here are a few great images directly from our yard!

Red Tail Hawk on our cloths line pole

Roses from our garden
(picked AND arranged by husband, he even added the little glass beads!)

Pool days!

Gardening

Look mom, we planted a dead branch!

Well that's all for now; I'll try to not be a hermit or overwhelmed with stuff to do and blog more often.  Have a great Tuesday!!

Stacy