Thursday, May 30, 2013

What a year!

We are officially on summer vacation! Well, I take that back. Xander is on summer break. Tiff and I still have the normal work schedule all day every day while Xander gets to have fun at summer camp for the next couple of months until he starts first grade at a new school!

Look at this guy! Not a TON of difference, but I can definitely see a change in his face. Definitely less baby, and he has a whole new set of teeth coming in. By December 2012, he was missing almost the whole front of his smile. Now he's getting his permanent teeth and his whole smile has changed.

This year, Xander has changed in many ways. As a kindergartner, trying to find his way socially, we have found that he sure is a chatterbox. That's all we ever hear. He's a fantastic student academically. He's reading above and beyond his grade level. He's learning quickly. He catches on. But he just needs to stay focused and stop talking! I do not know where he gets that because both his dad and myself were very shy growing up and just kept to ourselves. In the long run though, he will probably benefit from being a more outgoing and talkative individual.

Not only is Xander moving to a new school district for elementary school, but we had to say goodbye to the amazing YMCA program, where Xander has spent every day after school as well as summer camp last year. What an amazing group of people over there! They are always interested in parents being involved. They teach their students real life-lessons, rather than just make it a daycare situation. I will truly miss the YMCA friends I made through volunteer work, and I'm sad that Xander is having to end that chapter in his life.

Next year, life will be different for Xander. More time spent at his dad's house. A uniform to school every day. A whole new set of friends. I hope he is able to adjust to all the changes easily.

Until then, we will be enjoying the summer with library time, farmer's markets, bike rides (and hopefully finally learning how to ride without his training wheels!), swimming, and playtime at the park.

Now when do I get MY summer vacation?!

Friday, May 24, 2013

And Your Little Toes Too!!

This last week has kind of been a roller coaster ride for me. As our plans to expand our family are getting closer and more real, we have realized that we have GOT to get our funding in line for this baby, because holy moly, IVF is not cheap! Contacting Medical Loan companies and feeling like we're getting the run-around. Worrying that we're just going to get denied everywhere. It's just starting to get to me. I mean, it's already unfair that my wife and I can't have a child together as it is. But on top of that, we also aren't able to adopt because we're a same-sex couple. And we also can't get insurance coverage for IVF treatments because as a same-sex couple, we're not ACTUALLY infertile. So what are we to do? Are we really going to be denied the right to raise our own child together? I know many would look at our situation and say that this is just a sign that same-sex relationships are wrong and that we aren't meant to make babies... But I refuse to take that as a reason. I know the love that my wife and I share, and I know that we are meant to raise a wee little one together. I know our love is meant to be carried on through a baby of our own. I just know it.

Every so often when I'm feeling down about the possibility of this whole thing NOT going through, I need a little trip to the baby store. So yesterday, we hopped in the car and headed to Babies R Us so we could get excited all over again. Ahhh, I just love it! We were looking at all the teeny tiny shoes, and Tiff told me she's just gonna eat up our little one's cute toes, and that just melted my heart. She's going to be such a great mom, and I can totally see her loving on our baby and eating its little feet and neck rolls. Having a baby with Tiff is going to make me fall even more in love with her.

The financial side of things is going to be rough. Honestly, I'm not sure where the money is going to come from. But somehow it will work out. I will not give into the idea that we are not meant to have a baby just because we are gay. You cannot put a price on our future child, and we will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Back to Journelling

Welp, you can say it's been awhile since I have been around this neck of the woods. All my efforts have been over at HappyFoodHealthyLife. I have made the decision that I need to be better at actual JOURNALLING. I really don't write a whole lot about my personal life over at HFHL. Over there, I have to worry about SEO, technical things, pleasing my readers, etc etc. That's all fine and dandy, but sometimes I wonder: Shouldn't I be documenting my life story somewhere? I need to get back to that. In a no pressure way. Maybe it'll be every day (although I highly doubt that), or maybe it'll be once a month. Either way, changes are happening in our lives, and it is time to put it all down on paper.

So where are we now?

Xander is just about to finish kindergarten at Fremont Elementary school, and I couldn't be more excited for summer to start. Things have changed for Xander this year. He's gotten more attitude. He's learned how to lie. He's learned about taking cool things, like toys and candy, to school in order to impress his friends. All while frustrating Tiff and myself in the meantime. This summer, Xander will be spending more time at his dad's house, and we will get to have him on the weekends. That will be such a welcome change for us for a few reasons. One: we're honestly really burnt out on all the lieing and disobeying. Two: We get to be the fun weekend parents! Three: Tiff and I really need some time for ourselves as we prepare for a new and exciting time in our lives together.

And what a perfect segway...

We have decided to expand our family, and we couldn't be more excited!! We have just barely started the process of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), which is scary, expensive, and really quite surreal. We are going about this conception in the most complicated way possible. We are using Tiff's egg and an anonymous donor, and I will be carrying the baby. Things are still at a pretty early stage, but we start hormone injections in the next month or so, and we're hoping to be pregnant in July, which would make for an April 2014 baby. EEK! Less than a year from now, we could have a real live baby! And I know I've been a Mama to a newborn before, but it's been almost 7 years, and I'm scared to death of that whole first year. It did not come easy for me. But I'm also a very different person now with a very different (ie, more involved) spouse. We couldn't be more excited for this new journey in our lives, and I can't wait to record it all here.

I guess that mostly sums up the big things going on for us. I’m working hard at trying to build my blog, Tiff got a great promotion at work, and we’re just trying to make it through day in and day out. Summer is right around the corner, and we have some fun plans in the works. Hopefully, this will be a more regular thing, as I document our new and upcoming journies.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

V-Day Wreath

Love is on the door..... errr, in the air.  Well, in this case, it's on the door.  A couple of months ago, I came across this cute Valentine's Day heart-shaped wreath, that looked easy and inexpensive enough that I could recreate it without too much difficulty.

It was really quite simple.  The hardest part, I'd say was cutting out the billions of red felt circles to cover the wreath form.  After about 7 episodes of Cake Boss, I had all the circles I needed - plus a bit of a hand cramp.

I haven't really done any other Valentine's Day crafting, but I am happy to say that I did finally get a festive wreath on the door.  I meant to make a holiday/winter wreath since the day after Thanksgiving, but it just didn't happen.

Who else decorates for Valentines?  Do you like V-Day?  In my experience, I've learned that people either love it or hate it.  I happen to be one of those who love it.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Recap

My where has the time gone?!  It seems like between the baking, shopping, crafting, and family gathering, I haven't had time to sit down and really reflect on this year's holiday season.  I'd have to say that most of it was one big blur, unfortunately, but there were definitely some fun and special moments.  This year was different from most years in the fact that I just couldn't get in the mood for it.  I'm not really sure what happened, but I didn't even start buying gifts until a couple weeks before Christmas.  Usually I'm online right after Thanksgiving looking for the best deals for everyone.

Let's see - where did the holiday season start for us this year?

We bought a droopy little Charlie Brown tree this year - maybe subconsciously, it's just what fit our Christmas mood - but either way, it was cute and it was ours.  Xander and I had a fun time decorating it, as rinky-dink as it looked.  It only took about a week of it sitting in our front room all bare waiting for some clothes.

Xander had his school Christmas program right before they let out for holiday break.  It was definitely a joy watching him this year.  Last year, he basically just froze on stage once he saw all the people in the big auditorium.  Things went much better this year - for the most part.  He did have one narration that he had practiced over and over again, and knew like the back of his hand, that he was supposed to say before one of the little kids' songs.  I thought that maybe this would be the year that he would overcome his fear of speaking in front of others (that he may or may not get from both of his parents).  But this was not the year.  He peeked outside the curtain, looked around at everyone, and basically stood there.  After about 5 seconds, he went back behind the curtain. He wasn't going to do it.  But his friend Sabrina came out holding Xander's hand and said the words for him while Xander stood next to her.  I was happy that he at least stood up there with her and kind of got the feel for it.  But a bit of me was still a bit sad knowing that Xander knew those words so perfectly and that he should have been the one saying it.  Oh well.  Next year!  I'm just happy that the rest of the performance went smoothly.  He knew all the words to the songs and all the movements to the dances they had been practicing for months.

 About a week before Christmas, we bundled up and headed downtown.  We went to Trolley Square to see all the hustle and bustle and pay a certain Jolly man in a red suit a special visit!  I'm not sure what's gotten into Xander this year, but he hasn't really known what he wanted for Christmas this year.  He didn't really know what to tell Santa.  Santa tried asking him what he wanted and then finally asked if he likes cars, and Xander said yes of course, but that's about all he got out of him.  Luckily Santa has magical powers and knows the insides of children's hearts and knows their wishes :)  After visiting Santa, we took Trax down to Temple Square to see all the lights.  But we sure didn't last long.  Tiffani and I were so cold!  Xander didn't complain at all, but Tiff couldn't feel her toes, and I couldn't feel my fingers.  It was definitely time for us to head out and get back home where it was warm!

 This isn't really holiday related, but it's still worth documenting.  We were at a store the Sunday before Christmas.  We were mostly just browsing around and stopped to look at some clothes.  Xander found an empty clothing rack that just looked like it needed to be climbed on.  Unfortunately, I didn't really think much of it.  We were letting him be a kid and happened to turn our backs.  We never could have predicted what happened next.  We heard a thud and a scream.  Xander was standing on it and pulled it over on top of him.  It hit him right on the head and put a pretty big gash under his eyebrow!  10 stitches worth!  Luckily, no broken bones (which was my first concern) - just the stitches and a pretty bruised up eye and nose.   It was pretty traumatic for all involved - Tiff and I couldn't help but spoil the crap outta him all the next day.  Hopefully it won't scar too badly!

Next up is my most looked forward to event of the season.  The annual family cookie bake-off!  My older sister, Jenny, has hosted this event for at least the last 8 years or so.  We take what we think is our best cookie recipe, bake up a batch or two, then send them off to very willing judges (neighbors) to vote for the winning cookie.  This year, I also set up a cookie decorating station to keep the kids occupied.  I made an amazing sugar cookie and frosting recipe that I found through Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  As much fun as the kids had decorating, it definitely didn't take them much time at all.  After about 10 minutes, they were over it and off just playing with toys again.  Oh well - can't say I didn't try!  As for who the winner was this year - let's just say it's a sensitive subject... I hate to say that I didn't even place in the top three! (or 4... or 5...) Ugh - how embarrassing - what does that say about the recipes on my blog?!  I'm not even going to tell you what I made.  In lots of peoples' opinions, it was one delicious cookie.  Unfortunately, the judges weren't any of those people.  So moving right along ...

Everything was leading up to this day, and what a great Christmas it was!  We spent Christmas Eve over at Tiffani's mom's, where we ate a yummy dinner, dessert, played games, and exchanged gifts.  I made a yummy (and VERY easy) Broccoli Bake to go with dinner and Joy the Baker's aMAZing peppermint chocolate roll for dessert.  Both were hits!  We stayed until about midnight playing a new game called Logo with Tiff's siblings.  We didn't do so well on our team, but it was still a fun time.
When we got home, I still had to get the egg casserole into the crock pot, and then wrap presents!  Oh my, it was a late night. We were up until about 4:00, and Xander got up bright and early around 8:30.  Just about 4 hours of sleep just doesn't cut it for me!  We had a fun morning spoiling each other around our Charlie Brown tree, then we ate a yummy breakfast that I didn't have to fuss over at all since it had been in the crockpot all night.  After breakfast, we took Xander over to his dad's and it was off to my parents' for us.  I made mashed potatoes for dinner and actually made a second peppermint chocolate roll for them as well.  It was ALSO a hit there!  I think this one's a keeper!  

All in all, it was a crazy whirlwind of events, but there was a lot of great time spent together as a family.  I was very happy being able to spread out our Christmas events by doing the bake-off one night, Christmas with the in-laws another day, and then Christmas with my family on another day.  It was a lot less rushing around and time spent driving than what we've had to do in previous years.  I vote for the new relaxed version of celebrating the holidays.

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas season, and I hope the New Year brings all that you hope for.  Have fun and be safe!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pretty Cash System Envelopes

So, if you know me personally, you know that I'm a pretty big advocate for Dave Ramsey's cash envelope system.  The basic run-down is that you budget all of your income down to the dollar, and you don't spend more than you make.  Sounds simple, right?  It really is. But you would be surprised how many people are budgeting and spending much more than they actually have coming in.  How does that work, you ask?  Credit cards.  America loves their credit cards.  It's easy spending... but there are many consequences that come with that convenient 'right now, gotta have it' mindset.  
So the deal is that you pay with cash.  Obviously, there are bills that you pay online, and that's fine.  But things that you physically go to the store for (groceries, dinner at a restaurant, movies, etc) should all be handled with cash.  Each category is then divided out into separate envelopes.   Once the cash is gone, it's gone.  No using a credit card to last the rest of the month (because you really should cut those things up anyway!).  You learn real quickly what's important to you. For example, do you really need to go out to eat tonight, because if you do, you know you won't have much 'restaurant' money left over for when your friend comes in town later this month. You really stop spending so spontaneously and actually think about what your money is doing for you and where it is going.
Oh, I could go on and on about how Dave Ramsey's system has changed our lives.  After just a little over a year, we have paid off about $10k in debt and don't have much further to go.  We paid for our entire honeymoon in full with no credit cards and no bills that are following us around afterwards.  Christmas has been saved for all year, so we won't have to go into debt in order to give this season.  It's a very freeing feeling.  This is coming from someone who has had some major money woes.  I couldn't get a loan or a credit card even if I wanted to, so this cash system has been a blessing to us.
Well, so the real reason for my post, besides putting the word out there is this:  I was getting really sick of flimsy and boring white envelopes for our cash.  They were falling apart about every month or two, and we were always having to replace them.  So when I came across this cute and simple solution on Pinterest, I knew I was going to have to put it into action.
I bought so cute and heavy-duty scrapbook paper.  I didn't want these to tear easily like the white ones had been doing!  Got the template downloaded.  A little tracing, cutting, and gluing, and this is what I came up with!  Ta-da!

So simple and very aesthetically pleasing!  I just pop them into my accordion coupon organizer that I use just for filing these envelopes, and I'm good to go!

Oh, and another annoyance I was having with the white envelopes is the flap.  When you're paying with cash for everything, you're having to get in the envelopes constantly.  Over time (or not so much time), the flaps wear out and rip and fall off.  Really they're just in the way.  So I decided to revise the template a bit by omitting the top flap, so it was just open. 


I think this will work so much better for us.  And I'm just really happy to have something so pretty in my purse.  Especially because I hardly ever whip my wallet out anymore, I gotta have some sort of pretty accessory!  Ah, when did I turn into such a girl!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Big Announcement!

Two Hens and a Monkey is now branching out! I have a brand-spankin' new food and recipes only blog called Mama Hen's Kitchen that I couldn't be more excited about. I'm so excited to have a place that's dedicated to all things kitchen related.
And now I can go back to writing about family and every day things over here at Two Hens. I hope you follow me over at Mama Hen's and I don't lose anyone in the move.

Please check it out and let me know what you think. I think you'll be happy with the first post - it's a yummy seasonal cookie that is sure to please all your cravings. See ya over there!