Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Changing Joci's Eye Color

I discovered some fun PhotoShop tutorials and learned how to change eye color along with some other fun tricks.

Original picture taken by Sweet Pea Photography:

And with blue(er) eyes

with green eyes

And with brown eyes. Frankly, they look so weird to me. :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Walking by the Money Tree

How many times have I walked by a tree full of money?

I wouldn't know.

Amy, the lady who put the money tree together, sure seems disappointed that more people failed to enjoy her free gift to them.

I think of my Father in Heaven and all the money trees He has planted along my path every day. I know they are there because I have seen a couple, sometimes enjoying them, sometimes feeling like the money is not really meant for me. I have a feeling there are many, many more money trees on my path, but I'm too involved in my own little self to take advantage of the richness and blessings He wants me to have. What a shame. I'm sure He is disappointed, just like Amy.

Starting now, I'm gonna look for money trees.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Open Adoption Writing Prompt

I am a member of Open Adoption Bloggers. Occassionally, members are assigned writing prompts to explore our experience. Here is the lastest prompt:

"Open adoption is about information sharing." Share your reaction to that statement. How well does it match up with your experience of open adoption? If you disagree, how would you finish the phrase, "Open adoption is about..."?
I can't disagree that open adoption is about information sharing. It is on a very basic level, but I think it is so so much more. To me, Wikipedia is about information sharing. I think it is about building relationships. Because when we you share information with other humans, that just happens. I think of my bloggy friends. People I've never met in the flesh but I still feel as strong as friendship with. Because I read what they write and they read what I write. You can't help but develop caring feelings.

I guess to me, open adoption is about opening a door. There is a chance no one will ever use that door. Or maybe it will get overused. Or shut later by someone else. But all I know is it's not my place to close it. So I open it wide and support my child in her curiosity and desire to discover it herself.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We're Believin'!

Are you a Gleek? I am. This song is awesome. Even if you're not a Gleek, watch the first 30 seconds or so. The rest of the post won't make sense without it.

We sing the Glee songs at home. Justin even got the books of music and plays them on the piano. Joci's favorite song is the one above - "Don't Stop Believin'." It is affectionately known as the "da da" song in our home. Because in the Glee version, they sing "da da da" at the beginning during the instrumental part.

And because Joci sings to it too. She sings on beat (pretty much). Whenever Justin plays this song, she comes running and wants to sit up on the piano bench and play and sing along. When Justin moves on to a different song, she gets mad, grabs his hands and sings "da da da" until he starts playing the Journey song again.

Since tonight is the big Glee Season 2 Premiere, I wanted to whet your whistle with this.

Not even 18 months and already a Gleek. And also a fish-eater.

(you can't really hear her because the music is too loud, but you can see her singing!)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Joci's New Words

Just wanted to draw your attention to a page at the top, under the banner that says "Vocab." That shows a growing list of Joci's words. She surprises us with new things all the time. Lately, we've watched a lot of the "Signing Time" (or "Leah," as Joci calls it) that has colors, fruits, vegetables, and movements. She loves to go through all the signs, unprompted. We haven't worked too much with her on a lot of these words, so it impresses me when she says them.

And just for fun, here are some recent pictures.

Sneaking Dad's Crunch Berries

Playing the piano with friend Sophia.

Mmmm...Rockstar in the morning.

Aung Jennifer and Cousin Haiden at the park

Swinging at the park

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sweet Sunday

Justin and I were recently released from our church calling as Sunday School teachers. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (sometimes known as LDS or Mormon), each ward (or congregation) runs on volunteer effort. So we were asked to teach Sunday school to the 12-13 year old age group in our ward.

I have been doing this for about 3 years. Justin joined me for the past 9 months. It was fun but a big responsibility to be prepared with a creative lesson every week. Plus, 12 year olds ask the worst/best questions. If you think you have prepared for everything, just wait until a 12 year old gets to dissect you. :)

Today, instead of teaching others, we were able to go to adult Sunday School and be taught. And more than that, (drum-roll, please), we took Joci to nursery today for the first time. Usually church involves a 3 hours of chasing/wrestling/entertaining/negotiating/begging with our one and a half year old. She fit right in with our class of tween kids, but it was mighty difficult to move onto adult Sunday school with that. Anyway, she's 17 months. Normally, kids go to nursery at 18 months, but I thought I would give it a try just a little early. She did great. I attribute it to daycare. She's used to playing with other kids and doesn't panic too much when Mom's not around (how sad is that).

I thoroughly enjoyed being taught. My spirit was fed. My faith was strengthened. I remember why Sundays can be so great!

Plus, it was SO FUN to pick a happy girl up from nursery and see the little craft she'd made.

I hope you all had as great a Sunday as I did.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Joci and the Ziploc Bags

I am probably going to jinx myself by typing this. I'll risk it. My kid is so freakin' cool.

There is this cupboard in the kitchen that Jocelyn loves to get into. It houses tupperware and other harmless things. But it also contains Ziploc bags. Joci loves to get them out and remove every single bag. A lot of times I just let her do what she wants with these bags because she can only mangle and step on the exterior of the bags and any food or storage items are in contact with only the inside of the bags. But it can be an awfully big, annoying mess. So everytime she gets into the cupboard now, I take the boxes of bags away and put them up.

She got into the cupboard while I was preparing dinner just now. I told her, "Jocelyn, don't get into the bags. Just play with the collander or something." Guess what? She pulled out the collander! (I'm sure it's totally coincidental, but I'm gonna pretend she's an obedient genius.) Within the next couple of seconds, I removed the box of Ziploc bags from the cupboard so she wouldn't make a mess. Well, apparently some had fallen out while I was pulling the box out. Joci fished out each bag - one at a time - and handed them to me so I could put up the loose baggies too. How cool is that?

Then, when she was done playing with the collander, she actually put it back in the cupboard and shut the door! My jaw fell on the floor. It's the first time she's played in the kitchen that I haven't had a lovely mess to clean up afterwards.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Money Goals

In our little kingdom, we've had seasons of expansion, growth, prosperity, and famine (so to speak). The past few years have been years of expansion. I went back to school and finished my degree in 2007. Justin was accepted in grad school and got his Master's degree. We "bought" a house in the midst of this. And we adopted Jocelyn. All great things. But expensive things. And now we are in a season of stabilization after this expansion.

I hate how any kind of financial speak is so taboo. It breeds ignorance and disillusionment. I try to be open about it. I am going to try harder. And this is a forum where I am going to be a little more transparent. Judge me all you want for any financial mistakes. But maybe they will help shatter some disillusionments and empower others to be more financially savvy and make better choices.

2009 was a really bad financial year for us. Late in 2008, Justin was wrongly cited for drunk driving. We got it all figured out in court six months later, but we still had to pay bail, court fees, and attorney fees. Not to mention as a substance abuse counselor, Justin was on leave from his job until it got sorted out. He was about six months without income. And Jocelyn came along right in the middle of that. That entailed adoption fees, travelling fees, court fees, attorney fees, and twelve weeks of unpaid maternity leave for me. Our resources consisted of our tax return, a couple thousand dollars of savings (they were low due to lots of spending for fertility treatments), a couple credit cards, a personal line of credit, and a 401k loan.

2010 started off better. I got a sweet free lance writing gig. A great tax return with an adoption credit. A promotion and raise at work. And we've been working on paying things down. We've done pretty good, I think. We've already paid off around $15,000 in debt. Of course we accumulated another car loan much to my chagrin, but we'll survive.

We've been working on snowballing our efforts to pay down debt. We focus on the smallest debt, get it paid off while paying minimum payments on other debts. Once one debt is paid off, we just roll over all the money to the next debt.

I just read the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey this weekend. As Mr. Ramsey says, none of his principles are new. Which is true. Nothing is new to me. I've learned to budget and how to pay down debt. And we have been making progress and I'm proud of that. But I want to get more focused about my financial goals. Make progress faster. And going public with goals always helps!

So I am going to follow the steps of the Total Money Makeover because it has some great suggestions. I've realized that I am diluting my efforts in a lot of ways. So our first step is to develop an emergency fund of $1,000 within one month.

So by October 15, we're going to have $1,000 in an emergency fund.

We are looking for ways to accelerate our progress. I went to the store today and I walked past the baby section without buying anything for Joci. I bought Suave Body Wash for $1.97 instead of the $4 stuff that was calling my name. I gave up my free range chicken eggs for the regular kind at half the price. I stuck to what was on my list. Justin has picked up basically a second job. He's doing on-call work for child protection services in our area once a month. It's a tough gig, but it pays well. And he's doing contract work at the criminal work center. Oh, and the biggest sacrifice yet? I've given up my daily Diet Coke at lunch. Even though it only costs $.67 cents, that's almost $250 a year. Ah, Coke, we will still be friends. Our trysts will just be farther between and oh, so much sweeter.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New Spa in Idaho Falls

Hey, all you local yockels, I've got some great news!

A friend of mine has opened a brand new spa in Idaho Falls! She is coming from probably the most elite spa in  town and has decided to start her own business - go Melissa! She is having an open house tonight and tomorrow. This will help build her clientele and give people an opportunity to drool over her posh new spa.

In order to get the word out, Melissa is also putting anyone who posts this info on their blog into a drawing for a free massage. Scha-weet! Go ahead and do a post and email Melissa at modbemeliss at yahoo dot com with your blog and your contact info so she can enter you into the drawing.

Check out the new Xhale Day Spa here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Celebrity Doppelganger - with a Twist

Thanks, Ashley, for your awesome idea.

What celebrity of the opposite gender do you look like?

I'm going with Justin Bieber.

Justin (my husband - not Bieber) found his:

If you're up for it, post yours on your blog and leave me a message. I'd love to see!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

This Ain't No Magic Wand

I don't get these new rubbery mascara wands.

Am I missing something?

Everytime I've tried them, I think they totally suck.

But their advertising is pretty convincing and I venture out and buy another weirdly shaped, weirdly formed mascara wand only to be tragically disappointed (you may think I am exaggerating, but when it comes to me and my lashes, it's an epic deal, so the disappointment is, in fact, tragic) and I go back to my trusty L'Oreal Voluminous, which I have been using since seventh grade.

Maybe it's all just a sales gimmick. But maybe I'm lash-ly challenged and can't keep up with times.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Activities

Here are some of the things we have been up to. {Lots and lots of pictures!}

Justin and his cousin, Louis in Cody, WY. Jocelyn meeting her second cousin Rhett. He's six months old.

Playing - usually nicely - with Cousin Haiden.

Uncle Jon, Daddy, and Joci after we hiked a mountain near Cody.

We took a few fun detours in Yellowstone on our drive home.
This is the Dragon's Mouth Geyser that Justin has great memories of from his childhood.

A buffalo crossed a boardwalk full of people just to get a drink.

a waterfall


Aunt Cindy and Cousin Paige at a baseball game.

Cousin Afton ate a hotdog while Joci ate a crayon

Lara with Paige and Justin with Joci

We went to Lava Hot Springs (one of my favorite places!) with my brother and sister and their families.
This float was awesome. No need to worry about holding a squirming toddler trying to dive head first into the pool and the other cousins could just push her around, which they loved!

Stephanie holding Paige and Jeff in the back.
Justin, Joci, and Ellie.
Jessica and Afton in the front.

Afton on a kid slide

Ellie on the kid slide

Group dinner at Lava

Joci LOVES spaghetti. Double-fists it. Too bad it's so messy. I've just learned that when eating out with a toddler, you double the tip! :)

And we went to the fair this past Saturday. Here Joci is looking at turkeys that outweighed her by at least 100 % (seriously, they had to be genetically mutated - they were HUGE!)

Petting the lambs

She loved the miniature horses. I wanted to just plop her on it and take her for a ride.

Eating corn shaved right off the cob. (She wouldn't eat scones - this kid has a serious thing against sweets. I don't get it. At all. All I can say is, more for me!)

She's started to play pretend lately. She kept trying to put a diaper on this koala bear so I helped her. I got her some dishes so she could pretend feed it. She also likes to wrap it in blankets and rock it.

She will spend lots of time and concentration wrapping and rewrapping her "baby."

Being silly with a shirt on her head.


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