Memorial Day Camping Weekend

We are back from a long (and FUN) camping weekend.  We spent last week getting geared up for it – MiMi and Grampy stocked up the camper while Avery and I made some goodies to pack.

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Avery was a big helper making apple chips.  Yes, he took a bite out of almost every one before putting them on the tray.
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That batch of apple chips barely lasted Friday afternoon – Avery devoured them as soon as we got to camp and shared them with his friends.  I’ll make two batches next trip. And if you noticed Avery’s face in the last picture…IMG_6491

He also helped me make cookies and since stirring is hard work, some flour escaped the bowl.

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Friday morning came and Avery was so excited…. that he just kept sleeping and sleeping.IMG_6499

I even tried my ‘mommy tactics on him – opened the window, turned on the lights… but he was still snoozing.  I guess he knew he had a big camping weekend ahead of him and he needed to stock up on sleep!  Friday at noon, we were off!  Grampy and I (Mimi had to work all day and joined us later Friday night) picked Avery up at daycare (which Avery thought was pretty cool since we had the camper with us!).IMG_6501

(Oh, Avery looks like a grump in this picture because he’s making a “Pokey Face”)

Just over an hour later, we pulled into the campground – and we were the first ones there! (first ones in our group – we had 6 sites reserved for my Papa’s side of the family – my Mom’s Dad).  After setting up the camper, we headed off to the railroad track.
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We stayed at River’s Bend, in New Haven VT.  It’s very secluded along a river, but there is a train track and bridge near the entrance.IMG_6506

We climbed up the hill and I snagged a couple good pictures of these two.

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I wouldn’t dare walk over the bridge part – eek too high.  But Grampy and Joseph did.

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Avery and I stayed on the tracks and I almost got a very poetic picture of Avery on the tracks, then the dogs photobombed it.

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We put down pennies and dimes for the train to flatten.  We went back on Saturday and we found them all – smushed.  Avery and Joseph (my cousin) thought it was pretty cool!
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To bring our first day camping to a close, we did popcorn over the fire…IMG_6518

Good thing we brought two bags of it because the first one exploded, haha.  Avery and Grampy enjoyed their usual nighttime snack.IMG_6520

The rest of the weekend was a blur of fun… lots of fishing, playing in the sand, kayaking, playing with family – cornhole and woffleball and some new game called KamnJam.  Avery skipped rocks in the water and rode his bike around with Joseph.  They played soccer and with this helicopter spinner Avery would let off and Joseph or Mia would catch.

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Grampy finally caught a couple fish.  Avery had so much fun playing with his second cousins – ‘my friends’ as he calls them.  He woke up Sunday morning and asked ‘where are my friends?’ since they only came for the day on Saturday and had left that night.  He really loves playing with them.

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Avery, Grampy, and I spent hours looking for fish.  I took this picture a split second before Avery fell in right there.  It was too funny.  He had a soaked pantleg (just one) and a shoe. We were all laughing.  The water wasn’t deep so he didn’t get far and his pants dried before we got back to camp.IMG_6536

The river was so low in places that we walked out to islands like this a couple times.  We found broken pottery, dug holes making rivers and floating sticks and leaves down – so much fun.IMG_6564

And Avery and I went out in the kayak 4 times I think… one time we even took Frasier along!

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I didn’t carry my phone around with me, so there aren’t pictures of every second of the weekend, but that’s what camping is all about – leaving work, and housework, and electronics at home and enjoying the outdoors and the people you’re with – and we sure did that.

We closed the weekend with smores… oh and catching a frog – the second one of the weekend.IMG_6566

Thank you Johnson Family for such a fun camping weekend.  Sunday afternoon while I was baking up a storm for the week and Avery was playing play doh, he says ‘I want to go camping’.  I think he had fun :)

<3 Meghan

Money, Mother’s Day, and More!

I can’t lie, I am getting sooo excited for buying this house!  Probably because I drive by it twice a day and mostly because I got to visit and take measurements last weekend!
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Yep, I spent a couple hours one night with a tape measure and my laptop drawing out the first floor.  This way I can play around with furniture layouts before we even move in – so exciting!

On the financial side of things, I’m one month into saving for the down payment, and things are looking good…

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I have saved 31% of my goal, and there are still 5 months to go! (I did start off with a nice chunk on day one of saving, so don’t expect another 31% jump next month!)  Just keeping expenses to a minimum, and saving every bit I have leftover every week seems to be working.  That plus I FINALLY got my VT tax return back.  It took weeks and it was complicated because I had to file in VT and Mass, since I lived there part of last year – but thankfully it’s all sorted out, I got my $ back, AND I don’t have to do it again next year! (Why?! Because I’m a Vermonter, and as much as my manager wants me to move back to Mass, I’m staying put!)

So, what’s been happening on the homefront?  I have a little catching up to do… two weekends ago, we had a busy shopping day, getting our weekly fix of groceries – Costco, then Hannafords.  I know, who choses to take their kid shopping with them – usually they have to.  But not me, I for one LOVE to get out of the house, since I work at home all week, and the weekends are my time with Avery so, he comes along and he has so much fun.

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He was a big helper, going around finding things on our list.  And he LOVES to put items on the belt when we check out.
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And if he behaves well and helps out, he gets doggy bones.  Yeah, the woman in line in front of us gave us a pretty odd look when he asked if he could have his doggy bones now.  Doggy bones are a candy in the little quarter machines when you leave the store.  They are one of his favorites, so it’s a nice treat and incentive for a hard morning’s work of shopping.

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And as if that wasn’t enough work for a three year old… he helped me clean all three vehicles that afternoon.IMG_6266

We found out last summer how much Avery loved playing with the hose, so when I asked him if he wanted to help wash the cars, he jumped with joy, litterally!  And man was it a feat cleaning the vehicles – mine hadn’t gotten a thourough clean since last fall.  I did a quick vaccum a month or so ago, but finally it’s really clean.  All those stale cheerios and missing toys are no more.  I even found my missing set of car keys!  I had sucked up a dinosaur with the shop vac on accident, opened the cover and there was the little orange guy, and also my spare key!  I didn’t even know it was in there. Whew – good catch!

So, when we’re not outside soaking up the rays (it was in the 70s and 80s here for almost 2 weeks straight), I’m inside baking up something new.  I started in the winter when I made blueberry muffins for Steve, and since then, I make a batch of something once a week.  This past week was cupcakes.IMG_6327

I sent those four to my gram and gramps.  The rest Dad and Steve got.  And thanks to my Nana, I have a bunch of new (new to me, they are from really old cooking books) recipes to try out.

Ok, now we’re caught up to last weekend.  On Friday night, Steve and I had a picnic dinner on the tailgate of his truck on the lake.
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The view was much better than our mediocre chinese food.  And Saturday morning it was nice and windy so, we flew kites…IMG_6359

That little green spec is Avery.  He’s flying our forever old send in your kool aid points kite.   He did pretty well, running to get it up, letting the line out, until he let go a few times and got it caught in a tree.IMG_6360

Steve was kind enough to climb the tree and get it down – all for the price of looking like he had a fight with a very mad cat :)
For Mother’s Day,  Avery made me a card and a gift at school and one at home.IMG_6378

Yeah, whatever you do, don’t tell this kid a secret.  We hid flowers for Mimi at Uncle Johns (I bought them on Tuesday, so we wouldn’t have a limited selection come the weekend when everyone was out buying flowers), but apparently Avery spilled the beans.  No biggie, we get hanging flower baskets for Mom every year, so she knew they were coming.

We spent the morning and early afternoon with Nana and Papa on their screened-in porch.  Avery had fun with the men, throwing rocks in the water and walking around outside.  He even sat on the porch with Papa for a while.IMG_6379

We shared some pictures and videos of Avery and he showed his math skills on the ipad.  Oh and we had a yummy lunch – I wasn’t hungry for dinner 6 hours later.IMG_6380

Then we were off to Gram and Gramps where Avery and MiMi got caught in the rain outside!  We played Go Fish with Grandma and saw some family too.IMG_6381

Oh, what are some other random misc things going on?  Oh, Mimi and Grampy celebrated their 30th Wedding Anniversary.  I made them a treat on the day, but they went out and celebrated with friends the weekend before.  IMG_6312This just means it’s getting closer to my 30th birthday… eeek!

Oh, and with all this nice weather, I put away winter clothes and got out summer clothes (yay for dresses and skirts again!!)  But that also meant going thru Avery’s clothes and putting away things he has outgrown.  I filled a box.IMG_6286

Thankfully, at his last birthday and the holidays, he was gifted lots of bigger clothes, perfect for this summer.  Oh and Mimi bought a few new outfits for him too – shorts and t-shirts perfect for playing outside in.IMG_6287

We got a little rain this week, but the weather is finally staying warm and we’re playing outside every day.  Avery scored a free blow up beach ball at the Pharmacy yesterday when we bought new sunscreen for him at school, and the nice lady gave it to him for free.  Score!  It’s perfect to kick around the front yard.  Little guy is all tuckered out and in bed now… I will soon be in there too.  I forgot how much the sun makes me tired, oh that and running :)

<3 Meghan

Running…What’s that?

Hours after I posted about my last race of 2014, my friend, Michele, registered us for Burlington’s FirstRun on New Year’s Day.

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Although it was the start of one long cold winter, I kept up with my runs.

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The FirstRun was COLD! But it was better than the freezing rain during the Glow Run last fall, so no complaints from us happy runners…

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There was a big turn out (Lots of other crazy Vermont runners out there I guess!), and the course was pretty flat, with some great views of Lake Champlain.Capture8

And yes, we sported our pink tutus!  There were some creative costumes and we had some cheering fans (thanks family!) along the way.

And after that, I was done.  Litterally.  I lost the run bug and didn’t run for MONTHS.  Yes, months.  It sure didn’t help that it was below freezing for January and February and we didn’t see the 50s and 60s until April – plus I realize I HATE running on the treadmill, especially my parents one… it is missing a few nuts or bolts or something and makes a whiney sound – can’t stand it.  Excuses excuses, I know.

I finally got my butt in gear when my jeans were getting way too snug and jumped back into it 3 weeks ago.

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My body was starting to look and feel like it did post-Avery, and that was not gonna fly.  Plus, once I started running, man did it feel good.  Don’t get me wrong, I do not enjoy running… it’s hard.  I have tiny little legs and run so very slow, but if I push myself thru a run, the ‘runners high’ feeling I get when I finish and cool down… man, it’s worth it. And the biggest plus, it keeps me in shape.

So, last week was my first real full week of running – I ran 14 miles (that’s the week total, not all 14 in one day!), and took one day off for free weights.  I’m trying to stick to 2-2 1/2 miles every day (because I can fit that, stretching, and a quick shower between finishing work and picking Avery up) and a long run on a weekend day (3-4 miles) – it so helps that Avery needs some cartoons to wake up to, and Mimi and Grampy can be there with him while I get that run in first thing in the morning.

In the past week I’ve felt my body coming back.  It’s nowhere near where it was 1 1/2 years ago when I was running 3 miles a day and doing a long run (6 miles) on the weekend, but I’ll get there soon enough :)  It really does take almost a month of working out and eating right to start seeing results.  It’s worth it tho – got out the summer clothes this past weekend and like that some of them fit!

I think the key this time around is sticking to it.  I have the blog to fess up to, but it helps a lot to flood everyone Instagram with lots of pictures of my feet…
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Oh and I’ve decided I’m not a big fan of races.  They were great motivators, but when I’m trying to save $, dishing out 30-40 bucks for a race once a month when I can just run outside anytime really isn’t worth it for me.  Right now I’m not focused on speed, just getting my butt out and doing the work and sticking with it is the goal right now.  Plus, races are for fast runners.  I am not fast (part of getting old is accepting the things you are NOT good at – oh, I sound so wise!).  I do like distance runs though.  The 4 miles I did two weekends ago (which was by accident because I took a new route and when I came home and mapped it, I was like Oops!, that was 4 miles, not 3!) felt great… at least the last mile did.  I think I ran my fastest that last mile.

So, if I don’t have races to motivate me, what’s gonna keep me in gear?  Well, my friend told me about this site called DietBet, where you bet $ and if you reach your goal weight, you win $.  What better motivator when saving for a house than money?!  It’s a 6 month long DietBet, and I barely made this past weekend’s Round 1 goal, but that’s because I know I’ll keep slowly losing, instead of crash dieting.  Doing the whole eat healthy and workout thing… should work best in the long run, right?

I ran 2 1/2 miles today in a nice 62 degree afternoon.  Much less muggy than yesterdays 82 degrees.  Tomorrow will be another couple miles… and the roads are finally runnable.  First it was super muddy (thanks New England Mud Season), and then they graded the roads, which is great because it covers up all the pot holes but it leaves golf ball sized ‘gravel’ in the road which means I have to really watch it or I could twist my ankle – Oh the joys of living on a dirt road…

Well, I fess up, I will be for sure running one race this summer.  I helped organize it last year, so I’ll be doing it again this year – the Milton Freedom 5K.  IMG_6204

Would love to have some friends and family running/walking it with me (or volunteer to help out!)  Let me know if you’re intrested…
  <3 Meghan

Dreams and Dollars

This month started a new chapter – Since I finished paying off my student loans last month (Yay!), the next step to buying a house is saving for a down payment.

Houses, don’t come cheap, well in VT they are much cheaper than in Boston, but they are still cost a pretty penny.  Luckily, my Uncle is looking to sell, so we can cut out needing a realtor (usually costs 6% of purchase price), so we are getting quite a deal. Plus, being down the road (8 houses away) from my parents will convenient!

So, before I go into all the boring $ details… here’s what all this hard work the past couple years (and the next 6 months) is going towards…

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This is adorable little cape is what we’ll soon call home.  Little is an understatement.  It’s 2,960 square feet (that’s almost 5 times the size of our old apartment in Boston), 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, + FROG (finished room over garage) Room, oh and a wood stove!!! … and the basement is a finished 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment, with it’s own laundry in addition to the laundry on the second floor.  Yeah. CRAZY! Crazy to think this could be ours!!!

It does give some serious motivation – so back to business…

The goal is to save as much $ as possible before this fall (Sept/Oct-ish) when Uncle John will be ready to move into his new apartment and sell the house, plus it’ll be nice for all of us to get moved before the cold weather comes.  The bigger the down payment, the smaller the mortgage – so more money saved is best.  This gives me 6 months to pinch pennies and come up with as much $ as I can – seeing as I’ve been pinching pennies for almost 3 years now, I know the drill.

So essentially all the $ I put towards loans every month in the past, is now going into savings.  Simple plan, right?  Well, no plan is complete without an excel spreadsheet!!! (So organized it’s annoying, right?)

Spreadsheet Saving for House

Thankfully, this one is much less complex than the one for paying off my student loans – I made a budget, listed my income, my expenses, and the difference is what I should be saving every month.  I divided that number by 4 or 5 (the number of pay days that month) and that’s how much $ I should be able to put into savings every week. ‘Should Be’ is the key in that statement, because we’re almost thru April and I’m already finding I have more unexpected expenses than planned, thus I haven’t saved as much as hoped.  I’ll have to up my ‘misc spending’ category next month.

Anyways, I’ll spare you the detailed, yet boring, excel sheet and keep track with this:

Savings Thermometer Goal

As of April 1st,  I had $1800 saved.  The goal is $10,000.  Why that number?  Because I know it’s attainable, and I’ll probably be able to save a little more than that (hence the higher numbers on the spreadsheet), but unexpected things come up, so aiming for $10K won’t kill me, but will def. make me work hard for it. Plus, it’ll mean about 7-8% down on the house, which will give us a manageable mortgage (you should see the spreadsheet for those numbers… on second thought, maybe not… then you’ll really think I’m crazy)

I’ll be back soon with a May 1st update, since this one is so very late.  Crazy to think May is almost here and we’ve already been back in VT for a year.  Even crazier… we’ll be HOME soon.  Been such a long long road… this is the home stretch.

<3 Meghan

Surprises and Easter!

We started April off with a bunch of surprises – and not just any surprises… ones that had been in the works for MONTHS!

On just a typical Wednesday afternoon, Avery and I went out and instead of heading to a friend’s house (Kate, I used you as a cover!), we went to the airport to pick up MiMi’s birthday present.

Months ago, Grampy and I were talking about what to do for MiMi’s big 50th birthday and we decided on a dinner of close friends.  While we were running names, Mina’s name came up (she worked with MiMi as a teacher here in VT, had a baby last summer (Charlie), and moved back to Reno, Nevada), and we knew Mom would love to have her here, so I wung it and asked Mina if she would like to come (and Charlie too), and they accepted our invitation!!!

So, sneakily, Avery and I picked them up from the airport, and brought them home to surprise MiMi!  We had been planning for months, and the weekend before, I got to buy baby food and diapers for Charlie’s stay!
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Avery was very excited for our friends coming!  We picked up a couple things for Charlie’s Easter basket, and a few ‘baby’ animals for Avery and headed to the airport to watch the plane come in.IMG_5810

Avery took this picture! (see the BUSY airport behind me and the tiny animals?)IMG_5817

Burlington Airport is very small and not busy at all.  We only saw two big planes come in during an hour wait.  Avery had fun watching a small plane do touch and gos tho from the observation tower.IMG_5819

They arrived and we headed home! MiMi was so very happy when we arrived – there were tears :)IMG_5841
Mina and Charlie stayed with us for a week.  We converted half the finished basement into a room for them – and thanks to hoarding all of Avery’s baby stuff, we had everything they needed!

Charlie is 9 months, so he was sitting up, putting everything in his mouth – such a sweet age!
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I had the pleasure of making Charlie and Mina breakfast and lunch a couple days – he was so cute eating finger foods like hot dogs, scrambled eggs, and mac n cheese.IMG_5824

Oh and I got to fold his tiny baby clothes!!! So so so cute!IMG_5830

On Friday, Avery got a surprise – his 3 (second) cousins came over to play!  My cousins had a death in the family and asked me to watch their kiddos for the afternoon.  Avery had fun playing outside with them and later having pizza and a movie (our Friday night tradition).IMG_5838

We got snow Friday night, so Saturday we played outside with Charlie – it was his first real experience with snow!IMG_5843

Avery and Grampy had snowball fights and Charlie took a sled ride.IMG_5851

Saturday morning I took Avery to the town common for the Easter Egg Hunt – we met our friends Joayn and her son Caleb there.  After they gathered all the eggs and got bags of goodies, we went to their grandparents house so the boys could play and we had coffee and chatted – so fun.

Then it was back to surprise plotting because I had to pick up more supplies at the store (I got most of them the weekend before) for MiMi’s surprise party that night!

Mina made an excuse to get Mom out of the house with them, and then the party planning began!  Grampy made four different yummy meats,  Sarah and Jonathan and their friends Kelly and Amanda came with decorations and gifts and desert.  I made appetizers (I tried to keep it healthy with fruit and veggies and dips) and Charlie approved…

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The guests came with a dish each (thank you everyone!!!).  When MiMi got back home, we had a house full of people, and food!  MiMi was surprised and we all had a great time celebrating her big milestone with her.

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Avery helped her open presents… some socks, gift cards, lottery tickets, and lots of wine!IMG_5979
Sunday we celebrated Easter, and it was Charlie’s first!  Avery got a basket from the Easter Bunny filled with goodies.

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He got new underwear (The Easter Bunny must have known his current ones were getting tight!), chocolate eggs with characters inside, a ball set, and eggs that grow animals!IMG_5858

Avery was very excited about the chocolate eggs – he bit one and got the toy from inside and didn’t want the rest of the chocolate.  These eggs were months in the making – Avery always watches these youtube videos of eggs with tiny characters inside, but they don’t make them in the US, so we found them in China and had them shipped here a month ahead of time.  It was worth it, because so far Avery has opened two eggs, both cars from the Disney movie ‘Cars’ were inside and he loves playing with them.

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Charlie got shaker eggs and a bunny rabbit!  And two packages arrived with Easter books for the boys!IMG_5866

He seemed to enjoy them, just not the bunny ears – they barely lasted long enough to take this picture!

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MiMi and Grampy made a big Easter Linner (Lunch+Dinner, served early afternoon) and we got all dressed up for our family and friends to arrive.IMG_5880

I was so proud of Avery, he kept his tie on even though he complained ‘its hurting me!’… it was a clip on, and the shirt collar was big on his neck, so dramatic!

The kids at the kids table…

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And the big adults table…IMG_5882IMG_5883

The kiddos had a fun egg hunt downstairs…IMG_5888

And Avery worked very hard the two weeks before Easter making the Egg Piniata…

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He kept asking every time we put a layer on if he could smash it… well he finally got his chance to!

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Charlie even took a few swings – and after two rounds, there was candy everywhere!

The surprises ended when on MiMi’s actual birthday, Grampy gave her two handmade aderondak chairs with their names engraved.  I was sitting in them this afternoon actually… oh see all the snow is finally gone!!!
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Now that all the surprises are out, I’m back to the blog.  So much sneaking around took lots of time and effort!  Next up… the plan for saving for our house!!!  It’s already in the works, just gotta bring everyone up to speed and get back on my monthly updates for it :)

Oh and a big thanks for everyones congrats on paying off my loans – so exciting and glad to share it with everyone!

<3 Meghan

This is Three

Ugh!  Is it spring yet!? The calendar says yes, but if I look outside, I’m reminded it’s not all butterflies and green grass just yet…

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I picked the right year to move up from Boston – they got slammed with snowstorms and sooo much snow this winter, but man is it really dragging on up here.  We still have snow on the ground, it even snowed this morning.  There are brief glimpses of spring though… birds chirping in the morning, muddy rutted dirt roads, and with spring comes celebrating Avery’s halfway thru his third year.

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(Ice skating at the town common)

I still catch myself calling him a toddler sometimes, and other times I wonder what happened in the blink of an eye – when you’re a parent, time seems to drag on during those tantrums and fits of fussiness and crying, but when they start doing circles around you, you wonder when that happened and actually wish they were tiny again and you could cradle them in your arms.  He’s not a baby, or a toddler, he’s a kid.  He’s in (pre)school, he has friends (real ones, not just the kids of his Mom’s friends), and he’s growing into his own person.

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(homemade donuts – Avery approves!)

Oh how I wish I could just swaddle him up and rock him to sleep again, but man is this a fun age.  You’d think by now we’d run out of ‘firsts’ but now that he’s older, he can and wants to do new things… he loves baking cookies with me, or prepping a salad for dinner.  We even trust him bringing plates (one at a time!) to the dining room to set the table for dinner.  He’s such a big boy!

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(Celebrating Grampy & Uncle Todd’s Birthdays-Avery picked out the pink cupcakes)

Dinner is still one of our favorite times as a family.  I remember back when most the pictures I took of him were of him in his highchair, because otherwise he was crawling around and I couldn’t get a shot that wasn’t blurry!  Now Avery sits in his own chair, and complains about the food on his plate.  We ‘Talk about our days’ as Avery calls it, every night at dinner.  I can’t even ask him how his day was at school because he says its not dinner time yet.  At the table, Avery goes around asking about our days.

 “How’s your Day, Mimi?”

“Mimi had a good day at school.  Guess what I did today?”

“More MATH?!”

Avery always asks with a big smile and silly face.  For a while, every night Avery would tell us he had gone to Parc Safari that day (We went last September).  He’s still working on the concepts of ‘today’ ‘tomorrow’, etc. but man is it cute to hear him ramble on….

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(Weekend fun shopping with Grampy, making cheerio necklaces and cookies!)

And does he ever ramble!  Avery talks and talks and talks.  It’s pretty hard to get a word in these days, especially if he’s throwing a fit.  Yes, life with a three year old is not all fun and games.  When he was a baby, it was all about eat, sleep, diaper changes – just keeping him alive and growing was the goal!  Then he became a toddler and it was about colors, and numbers, and making sure he’s talking and walking.

Now that he’s growing into a little boy, a kid, it’s about parenting, teaching him right from wrong and guiding him to become a little gentleman.  So, when he refuses to take off his boots himself and flops on the floor like a runner after a marathon, or when he chucks a dinosaur at me while I’m driving down the highway during a 4-hour car ride, or when he refuses to eat corn off the cobb, because corn on the cobb is delious, but off the cobb it becomes enemy number one, well, that’s when parenting kicks in.

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(Baths are still one of Avery’s favorite parts of the day)

Avery is Avery.  He wants what he wants, when he wants it.  He knows what he likes and wants and doesn’t like and doesn’t want, and man does he vocalize it.  He tries to negotiate…

“Avery you have five more minutes of the movie, then it’s bedtime”,

“10 more minutes?!”,

“No, Avery 5.”

“Three?”

“OK Three” :)

I didn’t say he was good at it.

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(We love making new train tracks – Avery’s favorite train is Percy)

Oh and when he doesn’t get his way, he puts his foot down, or throws something, haha.  He is stubborn and defiant, and at times has quite a temper.  And although he tells me he loves me many times a day, oh so many times he’s glared at me and told me “I no like you” or, “you made me cry, Mommy!”, and man does he know how to tug on those heart strings.  I hate seeing him upset and especially cry, but teaching him lessons is part of parenting, and I know it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Like when he’s giving me a hard time putting his winter clothes on to go home from school and he kicks me and gives me a disgusted look.  Well, then he loses his jelly bean treat (We stop and get Mike and Ikes at the hardware store nextdoor most days, if he has a good day).  And man does he throw a fit, and the tears, oh the tears, and wailing – the whole sha-bang.  But if there is one thing I’ve gained over the past three and a half years, for some many reasons other than just being a parent, is patience, and staying calm and collected.  I hooked Avery into his carseat, tears streaming down his face, and sat with him for a few minutes talking about jelly beans being a reward, and how kicking was not nice, and he knew he did something wrong and he looked so dissapointed in himself – he knew the conversation was coming to a close and said sorry before I asked him to, and know what he did?  He pulled my head in and asked to give me a kiss.  Parenting is hard work, but soooo worth moments like that, that give me clarify that I’m raising a fine little man!

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(Avery loves trying to play board games like Scrabble and Yahtzee with MiMi and I)

And now, onto the fun stuff!  Avery has always been go go go!  He’s always been on the move and wants to try everything.  We’ve been ice skating, snow shoeing, sledding, and have kept busy inside this winter, all in hopes of curing our cabin fever.  The latest fun activities Avery has been thrilled with… a box, some sticks, and a ball of yarn.

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So, we visit my grandparents every Monday, and there was a ball of yarn on the coffee table, for Gram’s cat, Missy.  Avery took it upon himself to make this yarn into a game, and proceeded to tie all the furniture up and before we knew it, the living room had become a giant cat’s cradle!  So, we gave Avery a ball of yarn at home and he sure keeps busy!

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Grampy had some scrap wood, so he made a set of sticks for Avery that he stacks and makes houses with, so much fun!

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Grampy came home with this gem (little kid or big box?) and Avery has since made it home, and shared it with friends.

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I’m not surprised that his two favorite things right now are not actual toys and were free – he used to love playing in cupboards with tupperware.  But he still does love his toys… trains and cars mostly.  He does like to color and do art projects.  Our latest project is making a piniata for Easter!

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Avery kept asking when he could smash it, haha.  We are having family over for the holiday and he’s been told, and tells others when he shows off the piniata, that he can ‘smash it’ when his friends come over.

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Avery is becoming his own person.  He has likes and dislikes (strawberries, yum.  green beans, oh no!). He has an opinion about everything, and he is such a sponge.  He doesn’t forget anything, and the questions have started – Yesterday he asked me “Why is it raining Mommy?’  Now how far do I go with that for a toddler?  Just tell him it’s coming from the sky or explain precipitation and weather…. oh man I have to brush up on my 3rd grade science and weather unit from 1995!

We get to do so many fun things together tho that expands his knowledge of the world around him.  Just last week, he and Grampy planted flowers and veggies and he is sooo proud that they are growing now and waters them.

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At three and a half, Avery is amazing.  He always surprises me, makes me laugh, smile, and yes, at times I feel like throwing my hands in the air and giving up, but that only lasts a few seconds – every parent needs a time out for themselves for moments like those (Like when he’s called “Mom, Mommy, Mooooom, Momma!” so many times!

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(Riding back from Boston, MiMi’s driving, and Avery sound asleep – so sweet when they are sleeping!)

My favorite thing I want to remember about him being three right now is saying good night and I love you.  After his bath and pjs are on and teeth are brushed, he tells everyone good night.  Avery says ‘I love you’ and Mimi started telling him ‘I love you more’ back, and then it became ‘ten more’, and ‘100 more.  Now when Avery goes to bed, we wait in anticipation to hear what his response would be.  It’s always so darn cute and the other night my Mom and I were laughing so hard that I had to write it down, so here are a couple from the past few days

“Good Night, Avery.  I love you”….

“I love you one hundred miles ago!”

“I love you one hundred and a half!”

Now I’m off to Friday Night Pizza and a Movie, and I’m sure I’ll have much more to share in the coming months from my growing little wonder :)

<3 Meghan

FINISHED!!!

Eh, you know, just another typical Tuesday…

NAVIENT (previously Sallie Mae)

student loans paid off navient

VSAC
student loans paid off vsac

Yep, read um and weap (heck, I practically cried)…

 All of my student loans are PAID OFF!

That’s right, $42,000 in 30 months.  Finally Finished! And six months ahead of my goal date too!

I know, I know, I just posted two weeks ago about being on the home stretch and my plan to pay off my loans by the end of this month.  I blew my plan from my last update out of the water and knocked them off in a couple weeks, thanks to diligently putting $500 a week towards loans the past 3 weeks, and a nice big bonus check (bigger than expected).  Yay!

So, let’s take one last look at the numbers…

30 Month Progress

  • Starting Debt: $41,868.53 (Nov  ’12)
  • Debt Today: $0
  • Total Debt Paid Off: $41,868.53

And my pretty graph is finally finished and man, does it look good to see that blue line hit the bottom!

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Blue: remaining student loan debt Red: goal

I am putting my giant spreadsheet to rest…

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Crazy to think I paid off so much debt, in so little time!  Well, it seems like a short time now that it’s over.  In the midst of it, there were times I felt like I was treading water, or like I was barely making a dent some months.  But as they say, good things come to those who wait work their butts off!  Months of working 6 days a week, nights of working 4 hours after Avery was asleep, coupon cutting, DIY’ing, and watching every penny I spent – all paid off!

It was sooo worth it, too.  Because now I get to start on my next financial project…. saving for a house!  This challenge won’t be as long, because Uncle John and I talked about buying his place this coming fall, so maybe 6 months?  I’ll share soon.

So, all my loans were officially paid off on Friday, so before I buckled down again, we had a fun weekend celebrating….

Friday Night, Avery and I went to my cousin Joseph’s Irish Heritage Celebration to raise money for their 6th grade class trip to Montreal this spring (I’m chaperoning!).  I made festive cookies for the bake sale; IMG_5598

Sugar cookies with green food coloring, dipped in chocolate with green sprinkles!IMG_5599

We arrived a little early and played in the car.  Avery was very excited!IMG_5601

Avery had dinner I packed him in the car, so when we got there, he bought one of the cookies I brought.IMG_5602

Nana and Papa were there, so we sat with them and Aunt Sheri joined us.  I bought two tickets for this awesome raffle they are having.  For $20 each, we entered into the drawing for a trip for two to Ireland!

There was live music and irish dancers, and Avery had fun clapping after every song and sitting with Joseph in the front row.IMG_5605

Papa and I had some yummy stew and potato soup while Avery had a hot dog, and we finished off the night with cupcakes!IMG_5608

On Saturday, I treated Avery, Mimi, and Grampy to GoKart Racing, Bumper Cars, and Video games at this new place near us.  We goofed off in the car…IMG_5610IMG_5611IMG_5612

Avery rode with Grampy in the go karts, and Avery was big enough to drive the bumper cars by himself!  He thought the spinning around was the best!  We played air hockey, and racing video games, and walked out with a bag of popcorn.IMG_5615

Avery walked in and out saying ‘This is awesome’  ‘This is cool!’  So I think it was a success!

That night, Steve and I celebrated with homemade fried pickles, a bottle of champagne and a bottle of wine… our second two bottle night ever, haha.IMG_5617

And now it’s time to buckle down again and SAVE!

Oh, and happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Avery wore EVERYTHING Green today and Mom and I are wearing our shamrock earrings :)

<3 Meghan