Posted in Uncategorized

He Survived Live

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It was just a few short years ago that the only kids shows I knew of were the ones I grew up with: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mr. Rogers, Ducktales, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mickey Mouse, Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers.

And being that we don’t have cable I didn’t really know where to look for cartoons once Liam started watching TV.  I would joke that he was going to be the only kid who knew nothing about modern day TV shows – just mom’s classic cartoons.  But then I discovered the PBS app and Netflix and Hulu and YouTube.  With one scroll of the “Children under 3 category” we discovered hundreds of new shows.

So at some point in recent months, a little boy I watch was watching a show called P.J Masks.  I can honestly say I don’t even remember when Liam first started watching the show but it became his newest craze.

Goodbye Mickey Mouse.  See you later Thomas.  Hello Gecko, Owlette and Cowboy – aka PJ Masks.  I can honestly say I’ve never watched an entire episode but I have determined that it’s about three children who save the daytime from bad nighttime villians.  (OK I actually only know that because of going to the show!)  Hence the PJ part I guess.  And what kind of names for superheros are Gecko, Owlette and Cowboy?  Then again, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were named after famous artists so who am I to judge?

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Anyway, I saw that these famous superheros were coming to Bozeman for a live show.  I put off buying tickets for a while but a week before the show I found a Groupon.  I knew it would be nose-bleed seats but it was at the college basketball coliseum where, honestly, there’s not a bad seat when I compare it to concert venues I’ve been to before.  So I bought them and we headed out on a little date.

Just as I expected we were row Q….4 rows from the top.  But they truly weren’t terrible.  And Liam didn’t know better anyway.  Better to start him far away and get closer as he gets older, right?IMG-1056

So we got our popcorns and drink and I explained to him for the thirty-second time that it wasn’t time for the show to start yet.  Then a college kid came up and explained that they were trying to fill in seats and did we want to moved closer.  So here we move, from fourth row from the top to third row floor seats!  I wanted to laugh and all I could think of was “I guess sometime’s it pays to be cheap (or more politely – frugal).”  In fact, we were so close that Liam didn’t like it.  I ended up going back and asking for seats a bit further back.  HA!

So we ended up in second row seats (just not on the floor).  When it all started I could tell Liam was just in awe.  He sat with his hands over his ears and his mouth open the whole time.  Quite frankly, he looked scared to death.  And it was sensory overload for sure – even for me.  The music was super loud, the lights were bright and constantly flashing, the cast and background never stopped moving.  But at intermission, he assured me he did NOT want to leave and he liked the show.

So from the two tickets I bought on Groupon, I ended up with six tickets in my possession.  So much for the “start him far away and move closer as he gets older” plan I was going for!

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Posted in Montana Adventures

A Beach of Our Own

Got my toes near the water, butt in the sand
Not a worry in the world, a cold Coke in my hand
Life is good today Life is good today.
~Zac Brown Band

Ok.  So I changed a few of the lyrics but now they really work…and it pretty much sums up Mother’s Day for me.  There’s no need to tell you every detail about my day but it was very enjoyable from start to finish.

And, like all good days since moving to Montana, we visited somewhere new.  I debate whether to even say where it was because I just might go back next Mother’s Day and I don’t want anyone there because that’s what made it so great.  🙂

Our own private beach…in Montana.  I’ll let the pictures and captions speak for themselves.

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A baby buffalo (bison?)!! And we also saw a moose on the way!
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Not my typical beach attire but the shoes and socks did eventually come off. Though, without a pedicure, my toes were not picture ready.
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Picnic on our private beach.
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Having a blast running down the beach.
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Digging in the rocky sand.
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He brought his own fishing pole 🙂

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Look at all these crawfish!
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I believe it was a bit after this that she decided to jump off the boat.
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He made me a mom ❤
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The child was in heaven. He collected a bunch of big sticks for Matt to put in the sand.
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Leaving our mark with Liam’s “wall of sticks”.
Posted in Uncategorized

VIPKID: It’s Been 21 Days

Work from home.  I bet that is a phrase that is typed into Google a lot.  I know I have typed it in the past.  Before I had Liam I had no desire to work from home.  But, once he came into the world, the idea seemed so appealing.  Make money and play with him (saving money on daycare also being a bonus).  But nothing seemed ‘real’.  Ever heard of secret shoppers?  I thought I’d be awesome at that.  But who was I kidding?  You can’t make actual, substantial money doing that.

Then I discovered Discovery Toys.  That is a business that I am still doing though it has taken a bit of a back burner while I get VIPKIDs figured out.  But Discovery Toys was still not exactly what I had in mind.  I’m not a seller and relying solely on selling people products (though I believe in them with all my heart) to make an income was not ideal for me.

IMG_0654And then…wah lah (is that how that sound is even spelled?)…VIPKID showed up on my computer screen.  And, though it took me almost a year to realize this at-home job met every criteria I was looking for, I have began and am VERY HAPPY with it.

So, it’s been 21 days since I officially became a VIPKID teacher.  Apprehensive is the word I’d use to describe how I felt about what I was getting in to.  Skeptical works just about as well.  So, how is it going after 21 days?  Here’s the facts of the first 21 days (warning, if you care nothing about VIPKID then you’ll probably care nothing about the remainder of this post):

  1. It was slow going at first.  Out of the 76 time slots I chose to work the first week (each slot is 25 minutes), I only filled 7.    The next week I opened 63 slots and 17 were filled.  And by the third week (now) I am fully booked with exactly 20 slots.  Once I saw that I had 20 slots I unchecked all my other openings (I don’t want to work too much.  HA!)  My goal when I began was to only do an hour a day but my fully booked schedule is 2 hours a day and it works perfect for me.  And next week is already fully booked as well!
  2. I took initiative to get myself bookings.  I was discouraged with very little bookings.  I wanted to meet my goal of an hour a day.  But who was I kidding?  I was a newby with no parent rating (they have an apple rating system with 5 apples being great).  If I was a parent, I wouldn’t pick me either.  So I fixed my problem in two ways:
    1. I signed up for a program.  I had received an email asking me to sign up to be a Level 1 only teacher (there are around six levels I believe).  It promised if I went through this course that I would get much more teaching practice as well as a rating at the end that would encourage parents to pick me.  It seemed like a no brainer.  It took a little time (but I wasn’t really teaching anyone anyway) and it truly did help me get that extra practice.  Plus, there are 96 lessons in Lesson 1 so I knew I wouldn’t get bored.  This turned out to be a great decision in ways other than I’d planned but more on that some other time.
    2. I worked the graveyard shift for a weekend.  Yes, like 3 AM.  There is a 14 hour time difference between Montana and Beijing so a lot of students are wanting to do classes while I am sleeping.  So, while Matt was in NC, I decided to see if I could get any of these bookings since Liam would be asleep anyway.  I ended up with three bookings: 12 AM, 3 AM and 4:30 AM.  My goal was simply to get some practice and hopefully a parent rating that would make me stand out.

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  3. Being my goofy self is highly, highly encouraged.  The more facial expressions that are used the better.  To my husband, who walked in once while I was practicing, I looked and sounded funny, but to the students I am fun and engaging.
  4. My teaching fix has been cured!  I love teaching Liam but there’s still a teaching itch that hasn’t been cured since I left the classroom.  This has cured me!  I just love to see each student learning, practicing and having fun.
  5. I like to track my money.  I’ll be honest.  Teaching the children is wonderful but 4535the money is what got me started.  And the app makes it so easy to see how much money I am making and to keep track of it each day.  I have to admit I’ve become a bit obsessed but it definitely keeps me motivated.
  6. It’s practically no work!  Yes, I did do some work to get props and things when I first began but now that I am in a routine I get up at 4:45 and begin teaching at 5.  Those 15 minutes include brushing my teeth, brushing my hair, putting on a little mascara so I don’t look like a zombie, and throwing on an orange t-shirt (the VIPKID color).  This does NOT include getting out of my pajama pants!!!  Then I walk the 20 steps down the hall to the computer and sign on.  I always review the powerpoints the night before so I have some idea of what I will be doing but if I forget, the directions are right on the screen!!!  See you later lesson planning!!!!

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  7. I’ve spent hardly any money!  In the real classroom I spent HUNDREDS of dollars to teach the best lessons I could for my students.  I have spent less than 20 dollars for VIPKID.  I bought a headset for $14 and spent a few dollars printing some items at Staples to be used as props (thought I could have just used my own printer).  Everything else that I have used was already at home (stuffed animals, a whiteboard and alphabet letters to name a few).

I could keep going but that’s enough for now.  I’ve had several people asking me how it’s been going so that’s a quick update.  I may answer some more specific questions later in another post but I’ll just end by saying this is the EASIEST and MOST FUN money I have ever made.

I was skeptical and apprehensive but now I’m SOLD!

If you’re interested, don’t hestitate to reach out!  I will happily answer any questions.

If you’re ready to give it a try, click here.
And here’s my code: 02OMEG

Teacher friends, if you are okay with not sleeping until 10:00 this summer I say give it a shot!!!  Or for you east coasters, the time difference may allow you to sleep in AND teacher.  Start your Christmas fund early 🙂

Posted in Toddler Life

Little Boys Grow Up

One minute he’s clinging to my legs as if a tornado may come and snatch him up at a moments notice and the next minute he’s averting eye contact and telling me to go away.

OK, maybe it wasn’t a minute but sometimes it sure feels like it.  I signed Liam up for the same sports camp last year.  Four days long.  A different sport each day.  And if memory serves me correctly it was only thirty minutes each day.  Soccer, basketball, t-ball, and gymnastics.  A perfect taste of different activities.

The first class last year was soccer.  I went into it thinking, “He’s got this.  He can kick and run.  How hard is this possibly going to be?”  The first thing he needed to do was to sit in a circle with the rest of the children.  This was only accomplished by him pulling on my leg and me reluctantly sitting down while he proceeded to try to climb all over me like a baby monkey.  There was no way he was getting any closer to me yet he continued to climb.  And when it came to his turn to say his name.  Yeah right.  He averted all eye contact with anyone who looked his way and attempted to climb even closer onto me – which could only have been accomplished by climbing inside me!  And when it came to the actual class?  He let go of me enough for me to be his kicking partner.

Now, I make it sound like he was the only clingy boy in a class full of macho four foot tall boys.  I was not alone.  There were other children doing the same thing.  And I had to remind myself that he was a two year old in a class of two and three year olds.  He’d be the ‘big kid’ soon enough.  But that didn’t keep me from thinking “I have the child that will never do anything without his momma.  He’ll never play on a sports team.  He’ll never  listen to a teacher without sitting in my lap.  He’ll never….”

And then…  Nine “short” months later, this same boy walked straight to the circle and sat down.  When it came time to say his name I thought, “Just skip over him.  He won’t say it.”  And then, from over ten feet away (or 30 or 5…I’m not good at estimating), I hear “Liam”.  Loud and proud.  I practically fainted.  Did someone else know my child’s name and say it for him?  Nope.  He was looking directly at the coach.  PROUD MOMMA!  So out came the camera.  I might as well take some pictures of this big boy before he decides he needs me again.  He couldn’t possibly last an hour!  Thirty minutes later, Big Boy was still being an ideal student (in three year old terms that is) so I thought I’d just see if he wanted my help.  After all, most of the other parents were out there helping their child.  Without even looking back at me he says, “Leave me alone”  I was so taken aback and didn’t even correct him with a “It’s PLEASE leave me alone.”

And with that, I realized that my boy is growing up.   Yes, he still needs me, he still “gives me love”, he still needs to be tucked in like a taco and read exactly two stories at night.  And I know there will be hundreds of other times when I will feel like this.  But, it was just so shockingly evident at this soccer class.  He is growing up.

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Posted in Uncategorized

VIPKID: The Beginning

It is 3:00 AM.  My contacts are in and I actually have on mascara.  Why you ask?  Because I am waiting for a child in China to come to their computer so that I can teach them English.  Now there is something I didn’t think I would EVER say.  The problem is, though, that that child has forgotten about me.  Well, more likely his/her parent has.  Maybe they are eating dinner.  Maybe there’s traffic and they haven’t made it home in time.  Maybe the child is throwing a tantrum and doesn’t want anything to do with the computer or learning English at the moment.  Whatever the reason, it has left me sitting staring at the computer at 3 in the morning!

My journey with VIPKID started almost a year ago.  I saw one of there what seems to be hundreds of ads on Facebook telling me that I could teach at home making almost $20 an hour.  For someone who didn’t currently have a job it sure sounded amazing so I fired off an application.  Within a day I received an email that my application was accepted and that I was on to the interview stage.

And then I stopped.  I began watching videos of other teachers doing the same lesson that I was to teach and they all just seemed so amazing.  So peppy.  So bright.  So energetic.  So GOOD.  I couldn’t possibly be THAT good.  Plus I had to either 1) book an interview with a real person in China (GULP!) or record myself teaching the lesson.  Both options just seemed so daunting and so for almost the next 10 months I received email after email asking me to complete my demo but I never followed through.

During those 10 months, Facebook kept bombarding me with the ads of all the happy teachers making a lot of money from home.  And I kept hearing of other friends of friends who were actually working for VIPKIDS and loving it.  Also, during this ten months we bought a house and money was something I was constantly thinking about.  So, I made a phone call to someone I knew who was teaching and loving it.  She was sweet enough to answer all my questions and so I decided to take the leap.

The next step of the process was to teach a short demo lesson.  I could either do a live lesson with an adult in China acting as a child or record one myself.  Recording it myself seemed waaaaaaaaay less daunting so after a lot of practicing on my own and watching a ridiculous amount of YouTube videos of other people’s demo lesson, I recorded my lesson.

**Guess who showed up?!  I’ll write more in a bit…..and hopefully not 4 months from now!**

Well, that was interesting.  More about that later.

So after recording my demo lesson, I received an email stating that I’d passed and could do my “Mock Class”.  Basically it’s another lesson but this time it must be live and it’s two parts: a lower level class and a higher level class.  So once again I watched WAAAAAAAAAY to many videos on YouTube and began to psyche myself out.  Was I good enough?  Was my classroom to plain?  Did I need more props?  Was I exciting enough?  but I told that little voice in my head that said “You can’t” to shut up and I scheduled my mock class and set to practicing my lessons over and over.

The way you teach a VIPKID is so different from the way you teach in a brick and mortar American school.  It felt like my first year of teaching 10 years ago when I would review my lessons over and over the night before class.  My veteran teacher self laughs thinking about that now and I know in a few weeks my veteran-VIPKID teacher self will be feeling the same way.  But none the less, the mock interview felt so daunting so practice-practice-practice is what I did.

The day of the interview/mock class came.  I made sure that Matt had Liam entertained and the dogs were out of the way.  I could afford no distractions!  My interviewer popped up.  She was an American VIPKID teacher so just that familiarity put me at ease a bit.  But I still felt like a newbie teacher standing in front of her principal for an observation.  No one enjoys that!  After asking me a few questions about myself she took on the role of a five year old student and I began my first short lesson.  Afterwards we talked about good things/things to improve on and then moved on to the next lesson.

I ended up getting my results within ten minutes which was crazy!  All the information said to wait 24-48 hours.  And, even better, I didn’t have to do a Mock 2 which many teachers have to do.  My email simply said that I’d passed my Mock Class and was a great fit for teaching Beginners (hallelujah!) and the next steps I needed to take.

And so my adventure with VIPKIDS began…!

I am on Day 10 now and have taught 3 live classes.  There are definitely things I am liking and things that are confusing.  And, no, teaching at 3 AM is not the plan. I will do my best to fill you in on this journey (as well as what has been going on in out MT life since I wrote six months ago!) soon.

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Posted in Montana Adventures

Duking it Out with the Little Debbie Guy

Months ago I was at our storage unit in North Carolina with Liam and my father-in-law.  The rectangular box that houses literally everything Matt and I own other than clothes and food.

As I’m doing whatever it was I was doing, a Little Debbie’s truck drives up and backs up to the unit directly beside ours.  The driver hops out and opens the back of his truck.  I stood there finding it funny that this Little Debbie guy was doing a personal errand using his Little Debbie work truck.  But then the most surprising thing happened.  He opened his storage unit and packed from floor to ceiling were Little Debbie boxes!

That’s right.  Just inches away from my “life box” were hundreds of boxes of Little Debbie snacks!  The man proceeds to start loading the boxes into his truck.  Who knew that such delicious snacks were just stored in some ordinary storage unit?!  Makes me wonder what other treasures there could be just feet from our stuff!

Jerry took Liam over and starting chatting with the gentleman….and came back with a few boxes of delicious treats!

Fast forward to yesterday.

The moving truck was in Marion picking up all of our stuff.  My mother-in-law met the movers at our unit to make sure everything went smoothly.  And apparently not one but TWO Little Debbie trucks show up.  With the way our moving truck was parked the Little Debbie’s trucks were not able to get to their unit as they normally would.

This apparently led into quite a quarrel complete with grown men yelling!  The Little Debbie’s men didn’t like that they couldn’t park close enough to their unit and our moving man said he had a few hours left to go and would not move.  I wasn’t there but Darnell said it was quite the excitement.

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But our stuff is now loaded and going on quite an adventure before coming here.  The truck is heading to South Carolina and Georgia before heading over here to the icy tundra.

All in all, the loading went quite well…except that Darnell didn’t get any free sweets this time!

Meanwhile here in Montana, we closed on our house three days ago.  We won’t officially move in, though, until the truck arrives sometime around the 15th.  But packing here has begun and we’re taking a few boxes over to the house at a time.

It was like Christmas day for Liam this morning as I started packing up his toys and he discovered toys he hadn’t played with in ages.  He’s already asking when the “big truck” will be at the “new house”.  He’s getting quite excited…and so are we!

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Posted in Cooking

Bread: Round 1

Rolls.  Garlic bread.  Cinnamon rolls.  Bread sticks.  French bread.  Croutons.  Sourdough.  White.  Wheat.  Pizza crust.

They are all bread.  Hot, soft, sweet bread.  Each delectable in their own way.

At Italian restaurants I could make a meal just on the bread they bring out dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  And don’t get my started on the biscuits at Red Lobster…!

I have never comprehended how anyone could complete the Atkins Diet.  Isn’t that the one where you can’t have any carbs?  And while I love to eat bread, I have never–I repeat, NEVER–made my own.  I honestly never gave making bread much thought.  Maybe once when my mom bought a bread machine but that’s it.  Bread is always in the Bakery section of every grocery store with an assortment of kinds to choose from.  Or in the refrigerated/freezer section if I want to go the extra mile and actually “make” some bread.

But, NEVER did I ever have a reason (and let’s be honest – a desire) to make my own.  Even my mother-in-laws amazing homemade cinnamon rolls and sour dough bread never enticed me to want to make my own.  I just savored every bite of what she made and was thankful every time she gave us a new loaf.  Sandwiches and toast certainly tasted better with homemade sour dough bread than the Food Lion wheat bread I usually bought!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and we were at our friend’s Joe and Nicole’s for dinner.  Nicole loves to cook and the last three times we have been to their house for dinner she has made some type of homemade bread.

It all began with “the rolls”.  She had underestimated how much time they’d take to cook so they ended up out of the oven after dinner was finished.  But after taking them straight out of the oven, the four of us hovered over the counter and ate them as if they were our dessert.

Hot rolls.  Melted butter.  Need I say more?

After the next two evenings of fresh, homemade bread (and Nicole saying how ‘eaaaaasy’ it was to make) I decided I would try.  First step: find yeast.  I didn’t even have a clue what I was looking for.  I thought yeast was a liquid for starters.  After failing to find it at the grocery store and admitting defeat to Nicole, she surprised me with a jar.

So armed with the correct ingredients, I decided to make the rolls for dinner yesterday. J (the boy I watch) was home sick so Liam and I had a free day.

Now I have to be honest.  When it comes to cooking, I tend to ALWAYS make some kind of mistake.  Matt says it’s attention to details.  I’ll admit that is usually the case.  I have a bad habit of skimming directions or skipping around.  It’s like I have ADD when it comes to cooking.  But in this case it was simply trying to make sure Liam didn’t pull out Tippet’s hair as he chased the poor dog around the house trying to put her leash on her.  I ended up leaving out three–yes, three–very important ingredients:  milk, eggs and butter.  I’d hate to think of what the bread would have done if I hadn’t realized this gigantic mistake!

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Leaving out three wet ingredients definitely makes for dry dough.
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Much better!

In the end, the rolls turn out great!  The original recipe made 48 rolls.  Who in the world would ever need 48 rolls?!?  It did say you could use half the recipe to make homemade cinnamon rolls but I decided tackling one new recipe was enough for me.  So I halved the recipe.  I still didn’t need 24 rolls so I froze 12 of them.  Still, though, we didn’t need 12 rolls so that evening I took four of them over to the sweet, elderly couple who lives close by.

Now I know why so many woman seem to give bread as a gift around the holidays!  It really wasn’t that hard and it certainly does make a lot.

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Fresh out of the oven.  Yummmmmmm.

Next, I may try to make Nicole’s pretzel bread.  With a little bit of cheese sauce and making the bread into bite size pieces I imagine it will be like eating my very own Auntie Anne’s pretzel!

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Not a bad addition to dinner.

 

You know you want to try to make some now, don’t you?  Here’s Nicole’s ‘secret’ recipe: https://reallifedinner.com/lunch-lady-cafeteria-rolls-step-by-step-pictures-and-instructions-no-mixer-needed/

If you do, let me know how they turn out!

Posted in Montana Adventures

Where Oh Where Have the Dietrich’s Gone?!

Its been two months since I last wrote!  Bozeman is quickly becoming home and life is getting a little busier.

It’s hard to believe that Matt has lived here for almost an entire year now and Liam and I have been here for just over six months!  Time certainly does fly.

So to catch you up on the last two months in a somewhat quick way.  Fair warning.  This could end up long.  It is two months worth after all!  Here are the top things that stand out:

 

VISITORS!
August and September have been the month of visitors.  Matt’s parents came for about fifteen days, followed by my parents and their friends for just over a week, followed by two of my high school friends.  Sharing a two bedroom/one bath condo was not nearly as crowded as I expected.  There was no need to sign up for shower times or arguments over what to watch for TV.  I have actually taken a liking to small home living.  Easy to clean and only so many places to look if you lose something (hhmmm, my phone?!)

It was a lot of fun to be the local and to show everyone around some of the highlights of the area.  Yellowstone was a must for each group.  I’ve now been to Yellowstone a few times but I love showing everyone the popular sights.  Plus Liam never gets bored of seeing the buffalo!  As we live here longer I can’t wait to go and hike some of the trails and get to know some of the less trafficed areas of the park.

We also went to the Hot Springs.  When my parents were here we enjoyed the outdoor pools while the outdoor temperature was in the 70s.  When Courtney and Bethany were here we enjoyed the outdoor pool while the outdoor temperature was 40!  Liam and I stayed out for about fifteen minutes before my momma-brain told me to take him in so he wouldn’t get sick.  But he loved the “smoke” coming off the water!

And then there have been several North Carolina friends who have been vacationing out here that have been sweet enough to give us a heads up so we can meet up for dinner or something.  I may not have known about Bozeman, Montana but a lot of other people in North Carolina seem to know about it!

Unfortunately,  August and September are the wildfire months here in Montana and no one truly got a good glimpse of the gorgeous mountain views that can be seen throughout the entire city.  But that just means they will all have to come again!

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WEATHER
I thought North Carolina had crazy weather but Montana has won the prize.  I guess I already realized this in the spring but fall seems to be one and the same.  One day it was in the 80s and overnight we were in the 40s!  It has even snowed…three times…so far.  The first snowfall was September 16.

Meanwhile, in North Carolina, friends and family were (and still are) complaining of constantly sweating.  Here, it seemed that someone just pulled a switch and decided to go straight from summer to winter.  I don’t think I have ever gone from tank top to scarf so quickly!

As I watched the snowfall I began to mourn the passing of fall for I fear we truly have skipped straight to winter.  But the weather has gone back into the 60s (atleast for the next few days) so I will enjoy it while it is here!

Mentally, though, I am prepared for cold, cold and more cold.  Which reminds me that I need to buy some new long underwear (which I wore pretty much every day in the winter and cold spring days) and some more tall socks.  Because if I wasn’t wearing long underwear I had on socks that came up to my knees!

 

BACK TO WORK
At the end of August, I started watching a little boy four days a week.  Liam and I drop Matt off and then head over to J’s house.  We’ve now fallen into a nice routine and the teacher in me is enjoying throwing in some preschool to our day.  The boys are learning Bible Stories along with their numbers, ABCs, a variety of poems/songs/books.  I sit in awe some days of just how much and how fast Liam learns.  And I soak in every moment knowing it is going to fly by in a flash.

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ADVENTURES
Matt has discovered some quite off the map places for us to go.  He’ll research some great fishing spots and we’ll head off.  I would call the roads we take back-roads but that usually implies there is a main road somewhere nearby.  There are no main roads for miles!  But our Kia has done a great job of taking the dirt roads like a champ.  It even made it up and down the road that a gentleman told Matt “you might want to walk the hill to be sure you can make it”.  I was a nervous wreck and tempted to get Liam out of the car and let Matt chance the hill himself.  But we made it with no problem at all!

It’s been fun, though, seeing the “real Montana”.  It is truly BEAUTIFUL!

 

HOUSE HUNTING
Our sweet next door neighbors told us a few weeks ago that their condo that they’ve lived in for three years was being sold and they were going to have to move.  Even though I knew Matt and I weren’t going to be in the condo too much longer (with plans to look for a house when our lease was up in February) I was sad to know they’d be leaving.  Who would let Tippet out in a pinch if we couldn’t get home in time?  Who was I going to borrow milk from when I was out at nine o’clock at night?  Would Hannah live too far away now to babysit?  Each evening Liam and Tippet run out to meet Justin when he gets home from work.

This announcement spurred us to start looking again at homes.  Maybe we could buy a house (which we planned to do anyway) and they could just move in to our old place?  But the house hunting here in Bozeman just made me uneasy.  Let’s just say that the housing prices here are astronomical compared to Marion, North Carolina.  The cost of houses was completely laughable to us when we thought of what the same houses would cost back home.  And if you want a place semi-intown you might as well expect an itty-bitty yard and to be up close to your neighbors on all three sides.  There would be no woods in your backyard or freshly manicured yards that seem to stretch out for miles.  Well, you can get the latter if you wish to spend in the MILLIONS and be outside of town.
I think the close proximity to neighbors was one big thing that has taken some getting used to.  While all the houses I have lived in were in suburban neighborhoods with neighbors that we could see out our bathroom windows, I always had woods in our back yard.  In Florida, Dad built us a tree house in the woods behind out house.  In St. Louis, we had a rope swing tied to a giant tree and would go hiking to the train track and river below our house, and in North Carolina for years we rode our four-wheeler through the paths behind our house.  While all these houses had privacy in the backyard neighbors were still to our side.  But there are no woods here (there are scarcely trees unless they have been purposely planted) so I’ve had to get used to the idea of having neighbors behind us as well.

When we first started looking online I got excited because I saw a 4,000 square foot house for sale for a decent price.  It seemed too good to be true.  Well, it was.  It turns out that the house wasn’t 4,000 square feet.  The LOT was!!!  That’s right.  They measure the lots here in square feet and not acres!!  I knew right then and there we would not be recreating our house in North Carolina.

But through much conversation, debate, searching and looking we decided exactly what we were looking for and what we’d be willing to pay.  I felt like I was on House Hunters.  ‘I love the kitchen and living room but the bedrooms are just too small.’  ‘Who builds a kitchen with no pantry?’  ‘I can literally watch our neighbors take a bath from standing right here!’ ‘This house is just too dark.’  ‘I wish I could just move this house to that part of town.’  ‘This yard is so small!  I can touch the fence just from standing on the porch.’
We have lived on the internet searching over and over.  Zillow.  Truila.  Our realtor’s website.  Craigslist (that’s right…you never know where you’ll find a good deal!).  It became quite obsessive.  How many times did I need to click on a house that I had already seen in person and decided I didn’t like?  Did I think it would suddenly have a bigger yard or an extra bedroom?

 

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!
And then….we made an offer!  A house is a big purchase so most people have a “story”.  Whether it was love at first sight or they had to deal with crazy sellers, there is usually a story.  Our story is technically still being written but here’s how it began.

My parents were in town at the time we were scheduled to see a house with our realtor.  So they came along for the ride and watched Liam.  That house wasn’t “the one” and I mentioned to the realtor about a neighborhood we had driven through the day before.  He suggested going over there then and seeing a few (many were new construction so we didn’t need any appointments).  We ended up seeing several that day and falling in love with one in particular.  Without boring you with the details, the “perfect” house was not technically off the table and every house we looked at after never compared to it.  A week or so passed and I sent our realtor an email with several addresses we wanted to see including the ‘perfect’ house again.  We were seeing several houses in the neighborhood we liked and Matt mentioned going and seeing one of the houses we’d seen when my parents were in town.  I had already said no to that house in my mind for several reasons but when we got there all the negatives I remembered were not near as bad.  That night we lay in bed thinking about that house again.  While there were still some cons there were quite a few positives.  Matt continued to scroll through the online listings and turned and looked at me and says “You won’t believe this.  The price of the house was just dropped again.”

So here we are in the middle of the house buying process.  It’s a bit nerve wrecking knowing we are about to take on a mortgage again but it feels so nice to know that we will truly be setting up a home and we will finally get our stuff from North Carolina.  It’s going to be like Christmas Day when the moving truck pulls up!  But I have a feeling there is going to be quite a bit of stuff that we will look at each other and say “We did without it for a year.  Do we really need it?”

 

So life is going well here in Montana.  The holidays are coming up and I know there will be some mixed emotions for me.  But we’ve got a dinosaur costume picked out for Halloween and a Thanksgiving menu planned with friends so we’re starting out the season well!

Posted in Toddler Life

How Did Women Mother Before Pinterest?

It’s Friday and I have no car.  Matt is being a fishing guide for a gentleman from North Carolina.

This morning a sweet friend came and picked Liam and I up so we could go to a play date at the Splash Pad in town.  But we are now home and Liam doesn’t take naps and quiet time lasted just under an hour.

He wants to paint but all of our paint has been mixed together to make black or has been used up.  What to do?  I headed to Pinterest.

Within point two seconds I had hundreds of homemade paint recipes at my finger tips.  Some bathtub paint jumps out at me.  YES!  No mess.  I mean, lets be honest, more paint usually ends up on him or my floor than on the paper.  All I need is four ingredients and I have them all…or so I thought.  Into the kitchen I go and apparently I have no cornstarch and now I have a child who is pumped to paint…and no paint.

What to do?  Back to Pinterest!

Now that I know of the existence of bathtub paint I just can’t abandon it.  Then I see bathtub paint with only TWO ingredients.  I’m not too excited yet because I figure these two ingredients are probably some rare flower that can only be found in three states.  OK, that’s an exageratoin but I’m not getting my hopes up that I have these two miracle ingredients.  It’s like winning a raffle.  Never happens for me.

Shaving cream and food coloring?  I do believe I can do that!

And so, I am now typing away undisturbed while my little artist is completely content and my bathroom is becoming quite fragrant and my bathtub is getting a good cleaning!


Credit goes to: http://www.onebeautifulhomeblog.com/homemade-bath-paint/

Posted in Uncategorized

The You Don’t Need AC When It’s 20 Degrees

Thick, heavy comforters.  Warm, cozy blankets.

A single sheet and one, thin blanket.

Matt and I were not created to sleep in the same bed.  We have found our happy middle by folding the warm, cozy blanket in half and laying it only on my side.  Bonus: I now have an extra layer!

But the cover dilemma is a thing of the past….for now.

It all started at about two in the morning sometime in June.  I was tossing and turning.  My half-asleep brain couldn’t put together what had woken me up.  ‘Where’s all my covers?’ I wondered.  Gone was my folded up down comforter and quilt.  I was only covered by our one sheet.  No wonder I was awake.  I yanked the covers back up close to my chin, shut my eyes, ready to continue my somewhat-peaceful sleep.  But sleep didn’t come and I quickly realized that I was not actually cold.  In fact, I was HOT.

Wishing for the fan in our bedroom in North Carolina that had a remote control conveniently giving Matt and I three fan speeds to argue about each night, I threw back the covers and stood up.

In a daze, I got up and shuffled out to the living room and began mashing on the thermostat.  I pushed the down button repeatedly and shuffled blindly back to bed (narrowly missing tripping over the dog, I might add).

Again, I closed my eyes and waited for sleep.  Nothing.  I poked Matt and told him to go and see if he could get the air conditioner working.  Without even turning around he mumbled these horrific words: WE DON’T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING.

That’s right.  NO AIR CONDITIONING.  I didn’t even realize places were built without air conditioning anymore other than third world countries!

It seems that air conditioning here in Bozeman is equivalent to soaking, garden tubs back home.  An extra, luxurious option.  It is listed special on realty listings right there with basements or master bedroom on main level.  Something people want but is not guaranteed in every house.

There were two times in Matt and I’s marriage where we have just absoluetly roasted at night.  Where we could not escape into a nice, cool indoor sanctuary.  But both of those occasions are mere memories inlight of the extensive heat we’ve lived in the past few weeks.

We’ve been keeping all of our window shades down and standing fans going.  That’s right.  We don’t even have ceiling fans!  I’ve been going to bed with wet hair to keep me cool and Matt has been falling asleep with a wet washcloth on his forehead.  There are even nights I have fallen asleep with no covers!

But, while I might sound like I’m complaining….I’m not.  For two reasons  1) There is virtually no humidity, which, while it is warm, it is not “North Carolina warm”  2) Winter is coming and I will enjoy every minute of heat I can…even if it is inside my house.

So, here’s to continued warm weather before the winter rolls in and I’m wearing five layers of clothes and never see my skin!

But I’ve seen it as high as 85!