Ummm, so hubby made brownies tonight. Ugh.
Tomorrow is another day. (unfortunately, with brownies in the house! EEEEEEK!)

But I will forgive him because he brought me these this week.

Click on the picture and view it BIG!  It looks even better that way!

I actually looked at the manual that came with our new camera and discovered I have a macro setting.  Cool!  I also found out how to set the focal point in my pictures rather than just point and shoot and hope for the best.  I am looking forward to more experimenting with macro pics.

I let the kids have a long bath today while I cleaned up the living room.  Mostly a perfect plan - clean kids, clean living room...only one problem.  Because they were unsupervised in the bathroom, they did their favorite thing - splash half the water out of the tub onto the floor.  Note to self: next time, remove bath rugs first, then I can mop the bathroom afterwards and add clean bathroom to the list!

 Flowers for Algernon...or at least my girls!

So we finally put a new method of discipline into place today.  I had seen this idea on Supernanny, and I have to admit, I have to watch that show now and again just to get a refresher on how to deal with the kiddos.  It is also encouraging to see that we aren't the only parents who run into problems with reigning in the little spitfires and getting them to be mostly civilized. (mostly)

The concept was used with a family of girls (um, hellloo!) and each girl was given a container to put flowers into. The flowers were plastic flowers and they could earn them (and subsequently lose them) with their behavior.  When they got to 10 flowers in their flower pot, they would earn a reward.

I thought this might be a nifty system to try.  We have these awesome charts that are hanging on our kitchen wall.   Up to now, the only consequence we could dole out was a time out or a spanking.

We are tying the flowers into the charts.  We explained to Trinity and Angelina that if they were doing one of the blessings, then they would earn flowers and if they were breaking a rule, then they would lose a flower.

First I included the girls in the process of making their flower pots.  I found a couple of cleaned, empty containers (green juice bottle and bread crumb container) and let the girls decoupage pictures of flowers all over them.  (I save the catalogs that get mailed to me from Springhill and the like, for plentiful flower pics for crafts)  How could a kid resist this project?  It involves cutting and messy gluing - heaven on earth for kids.  When the decoupage mess was over and done, David used an ice pick to put holes in the lids - only 8 as that was the number of flowers per bunch that we were able to pick up at Dollar Tree - and we were ready to get started.

I have to say I am cautiously optimistic about this.  The first thing Trinity did was voluntarily go in and pick up the living room.  Then she offered to come help me with the laundry when she saw me heading to the basement, basket in tow.  I could get used to this!

Next thing I have to do is create reward cards that they can choose from when they reach eight flowers.  I am  thinking things like:

1. get a ride on the carousel at the mall
2. get a dollar to spend at the Dollar Tree
3. trip to the play area
4. outing to the zoo
5. outing to the Science Center

My only concern is that things like the zoo and science center ends up being a treat for both of them.  I'll have to think about that one some more.  Plus come up with some other rewards.  I'd like to keep them free things as even a buck or two here and there adds up quickly.  But all in all, I'd have to say, this looks like a great tool for training up the girls in the way they should go. :)

 Real Life Conversation with The Hubby

Scene - Me diligently going through the massive quantity of clothes that have been in bags since I moved the girls room upstairs and our room downstairs, and getting them put away in their new closets.  Enter The Hubby, who takes me in his arms and starts smooching with me.

The Hubby:  I'm sorry for being such a crabapple earlier.

Me:  What? You mean the last six years?

The Hubby: (laughing) It's been that long??  Yeah! (more laughing...and more smooching)

 Gotta Get Outta Here!

It has been a cold, rainy week and the girls and I have been hibernating in the house.  The only excitement we have had was the arrival of dance outfits from Grandma B yesterday.  The girls want to wear them 24/7 now and I am determined they survive to actually be worn to dance class at least once!  The hubby snapped some pics of them last night as they showed off their new duds to him.

So after a week of being at home, I decided spur of the moment that today was the day for an adventure.  It was either an adventure or a labotomy. 

Remember that movie The Bridges of Madison County with Clint Eastwood and Glen Close?  Well, Madison county and the city of Winterset which the bridges are centered around, is a mere 45 minute drive for us.  That may seem far to Iowans, but that is how far David drove to get to his salon in Cave Creek back in AZ.  It is also how far my commute to work has been many times in my life; from Bowie to Bethesda to teach ballroom dancing, from my 2 acre spread in rural New Mexico to get to Honeywell in Albuquerque, and my top down drive in my red convertible around the 101 in Arizona to get to Mesa.  So in my mind, this is a very close attraction. 

I told the girls that we were going on an adventure to look at bridges, the beauty of the fall landscape, and hopefully some wildlife.  I have to admit though, that most of the wildlife I saw, fox, raccoon and opposum, was smeared on the highway...yuck! 

We made a pit stop in Indianola to get a HUGE drink and I loaded the girls up with cheap candy, wondering if I was going to regret that decision. 

This was the first bridge that we came to on our way east to Winterset.  This is the Holliwell Bridge built in 1880.

At first the girls were a bit spooked by the bridge.  So I yelled, "I bet I can run to the other side and back before you" and took off.  They were fast on my heels and soon made me look like the tortoise half of the proverbial "Tortoise and the Hare" story.

This is the lovely river.

Angelina being a little hesitant to come back in.

I antiqued this pic to give it an old time feeling. 

A corn field processed and ready for the winter.  I thought the hills were pretty in the background.

We went into Winterset for lunch.  Winterset is one of those cute little Iowa towns that still has a town square.  We ate at the Northside Cafe, which conveniently enough, was located on the north side of the square. :)  I found out just tonight that this is actually the cafe featured in the movie where Robert Kincaid stops for coffee and offers Lucy Redfield a stool.  Apparently, the fourth stool from the door has been graced by the likes of Clint Eastwood.  And to think I almost sat there for lunch today...does this count as a brush with fame - my posterior on the same stool where Eastwood's posterior sat?  ;)  We moved to a booth because while the girls were really wanting to sit on one of the nifty swivel stools, they figured out they couldn't scoot closer to the counter so it wasn't convenient for little ones.

Angelina really likes ketchup.  It's the dip of choice for this girl.  Actually, food just becomes the medium by which she can eat ketchup.  You could hook her up to an i.v. of ketchup and she'd be the happiest little girl on the planet.

After lunch we happened by the birthplace of John Wayne.  Who knew??  Cute little white house on a corner not far from downtown.  Chalk up another reason to visit Iowa!

Then we scored our adventure...the city park.  Wow is all I can say.  We had the best time, like... ever!  It started with another covered bridge set amongst the beauty of fall.

 Trinity singing (as usual)

 Angelina climbing over the rock wall.

They're off and running!

I love this picture.  With the girls close to the bridge, you get a better perspective.

Kids will always find a way to climb...

gratuitous tree shots

Another bit from the movie.  This bridge was where the characters Franscesca and Robert had their picnic.  We so did the Bridges of Madison County getaway without even trying.  Hey you...stop climbing on there!

Sigh.  They just can't be stopped.

pretty leaves on the ground

"Mom, stop taking my picture and puuuuuuush meeeeeee!"

Another little known Iowa factoid:  Iowa is the birthplace of the red delicious apple.  I know I am repeating myself but "who knew??"

This may single-handedly be my favorite photo of the day.  They were trying to see if anything was living in the hole in the tree.  Sister helping sister...beautiful fall surroundings, gnarly tree...I love it!

To our great delight, we discovered the hedge maze.  Waaay too much fun!

We had the best time running around in this thing.  First we just tried to find our way out.  Then we tried to find the sundial hidden in the center of the maze...harder than it seems!  Then we played a combination of chase and hide-n-seek.  Angelina was reluctant to have her picture taken, so I had to ambush her!

more pretty leaves

Ummm...more pretty leaves (at least these are still on the trees!)  This is actually a one-way road/hiking trail that leads to a stone tower.  There's a stone tower??  We have to go see the tower - have to!

Coming around a bend in the road, lo and behold, there was the wildlife we had been hoping to see.  And it was up close and personal.  We stopped and rolled the windows down to watch her.  She was pretty nonchalant about the whole thing as you can see in the picture.  Instead of running away, she simply scratched behind her ears with her hind leg.  Oh, to be so limber!

We arrived at the tower.  Very cool, three story medieval looking thing. 

up to the second floor

up to the third floor

Once again, Angelina was not wanting her picture taken...geesh!

Yes, she is trying to climb out the second story window.  How do we ever survive childhood?!

gratuitous fall foliage shot

I had Trinity take a snap of me to prove I really was there and hadn't hired a nanny to take my kids away and give me a day of sanity.  Maybe not the best set up with the light behind me.  Ah, well.  My fault, not hers.

hey there cutie!

Trinity is at the top and Angelina is in the window below her.

We seriously had the best time at this tower. (castle)

We came under attack of a dragon and had to hide under the stairs.  Then we had to flee to the highest reaches of the castle before discovering that it was a friendly dragon that blew kisses and gave us chocolates.
(what's that?  you noticed Trinity's pants look wet? my, yes, you are very observant.  she peed herself at the playground and I didn't bring a change of she played in wet pants...sue me!)

Then all of us took turns being Rapunzel.  "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair!"  None of us quite had the locks for a rescue.

But, alas, all fair maidens eventually have to head home.  Midnight comes all too soon.

You know it's been a good day when...