3 years and 9 hours ago. . .

As stated above, we made a huge decision that long ago.  The most expensive to date.  Three years and nine hours ago, we bought our humble abode that we now call home. . .or Casa de Tow.

It was a leap of faith that seemed scary at first but I now know was the best decision we’ve ever made.  I couldn’t possibly imagine my life anywhere else or in a town that has more than one stop light.

I tried to find a few pictures of the house and came across us painting the inside as well as our celebratory Panther Pizza dinner our first night spent in our new house.

A few things have changed since purchasing our house. . .the kitchen went from khaki to green to a green glaze on the green to finally a texture “Butter Cookie” cream.  I won’t even go into detail on the other rooms of the house, but our room and Ellie’s room are the only ones that have stayed the same from the beginning. . .until Ellie gets her new bedding. . .get your paint brush Nana. . .

Another change from three years ago would be including Ellie.  Emma was our honeymoon souvenir and Ellie was our “we bought our first house” souvenir.  Emma’s playroom wasn’t one for long seeing as how we got pregnant within a year of purchasing our home. 

Personally I have lost 48 pounds in three years.  That includes gaining and losing the 18 pounds from my second pregnancy (since giving birth to Emma, I’m down 60 pounds!!).

So much has changed (including my hair color and tattoos), but life just keeps getting better.  Dustin’s new manager position starts in January and with it comes added stress, but I know he’s ready for it.  I married a man that is constantly wanting to better himself and improve his life.  I’ve learned to go along with him (with a little bit of my own opinions) because he knows what he’s doing.

Who knows what the next three years and nine hours hold for us.  But hopefully kisses will still solve the world’s problems. . .or at least a hurt knee.



I love painting!  Look at the cabinets, they’re brown?  And the counter tops are orange?  And the wall color is khaki??  And what’s with those baseboards???


Here’s Ellie. . .no wait, that’s Emma right before she turned 2-years-old.  What a big helper?!?  Papa was in charge of keeping Emma entertained.


I don’t know if you can tell, but this is the face of indecision.  What’s with this color???


Ahhhh, the student is learning from the teacher.  Seriously, I wonder how long it will take before Dustin kills me???



prep day for party. . .

Not that I don’t have enough on my plate for the month of December, but I have refused now for the last four years to buy a birthday cake.  Call me crazy, but I just can’t pay $35+ for a cake when Betty Crocker sells one in a box for $.88 at Wal-Mart.  Call me frugal, hell call me cheap, but as the nickel nazi, I find ways to cut back on party purchases.

Ellie picked fish for her party theme, so fish she shall have.  It was kind of funny telling everyone we would have fish cupcakes and seeing their response to cupcakes made of fish. . .


Deep concentration and Dustin just let Ellie get out of her room because nap time is over. . .must ice faster!


Okay, I totally know this is not just the best picture, but this is actually me with a hangover from the Christmas Party the night before.  I know, Mom and Dad are so proud.  This is also my “if I have to smell any more of this sugary sweetness, I’m going to lose it” picture.


The finished product.  Ellie’s “Pish” Cupcakes.  After the 30th cupcake I had to asked how fish was spelled because it just didn’t look right.


Ellie’s cupcakes and party favors in the beer fridge. . .yep, we’re that classy.


I just thought this was an awesome picture.  Emma was such a big helper, she lined up all the cupcakes when I was done icing them and then was on sprinkle duty.  She asked if some sprinkles could get in between the cupcakes on the cookie sheet and I said that it was okay if that happened.  So before I could tell her no, Emma grabbed a huge handful of sprinkles and was dropping them between the cupcakes to decorate the cookie sheet.  What a goofball!  But my 4-year-old will never know how much she helped Mama out getting ready for Ellie’s party.


Again, Mrs. Frugal here occasionally doesn’t buy party favors and opts for the made from scratch cookie (which surprisingly enough I rock at) and icing.  Each kiddo got a fish cookie and a cookie of the first letter in their name.

fish party. . .

Nothing like 43 of your closest friends and family to help you celebrate your daughter’s 2nd birthday.  Let’s see, 1149 sq. ft. house divided by 43 people, technically only four rooms were occupied. . .I’ll let Dad email the answer that. 

We celebrated Ellie’s 2nd Fishy Themed Birthday Party this past weekend and the weather cooperated this year.  If you count 20 degree weather cooperation, then yes it did cooperate.  “Papa”razzi was the camera man as always, so imagine each picture being accompanied with five or six more and you’ll have an idea of the play by play of Ellie’s party.

Here is the short version of my little girl’s big day. . .


Ellie did so good blowing out the candle.  My painfully shy daughter did very good at socializing with all of her guests.


Not to get her anything on her cheeto fingers, Ellie used the “2” candle as a spoon for her cupcake.


Surprisingly enough, her “Ellie” shirt had no stains when I finished washing it today!


“Yuummmmm. . ..cupcake. . .”


“Almost there. . .I can almost get that cheeto while no one’s watching. . .reach arm, reach. . .”


Dad’s view over the millions of children waiting for me to say that Ellie needs help opening her presents.


Ellie is telling Grandpa and Grandma thank you for her check.  They really got a kick out of her good manners.


Typical child, Ellie threw the clothes out to get to the toys.


I love that little smile!  She found the toy necklaces.


Notice Ellie’s facial expression and Emma’s at the bottom right.  You think they’re related?  You think Emma thinks Ellie will let her borrow that beanie hat??  Oh Lord, the sharing (or fighting) of clothing is about to begin. . .


A small portion of the 43 people that occupied my house.


“What is this?  What do I do with this?  Mama, why are you taking this so quickly?”




Painfully shy girl says no more pictures.  And Ellie’s finished opening presents and done being in the spot light.


Ellie told everyone thank you after each present she opened and finished with a some what loud “Tanku!”


“Papa, I thought I said no more pictures. . .is that cheeto I taste on my finger???”


Post Party play of the tea party.


Ellie found her diaper bag and made a dash down the hallway screaming “ha baby, ha baby.”


Ellie’s new diaper bag. . .so fashionable even at the wee age of 2.



Dustin would like to personally thank Jennifer for the bath tub paint and colored tablets.  He also said something about a 1001 bead set for Keeley’s birthday. . .or was that a drum set for Westin???  I can’t remember.

Happy Birthday Ellie!!




Hard to believe my little girl is 2-years-old today.  Our Christmas baby named Noelle.  Only after a nurse said it was so cute that we would name her that because it was Christmas time did I realize what we had done.  Like Mr. & Mrs. Cane naming their daughter Candy, I had unknowingly themed my child.

Quite a bit has happened in the last year.  Here’s a small recap:  learning to run to keep up with Emma, cutting molars, discovering fruit allergies, Scarlet Fever, learning the word no, learning how to apologize, learning how to apologize loud enough where the person can hear you, giving kisses (as well as tongue kisses, yah that one is still pretty gross), moving into a big girl bed and lastly that Santa is still a really freaky guy even if comes bearing gifts.

Always the follower but never to be left behind, Ellie makes her presence known.  So painfully shy, she manages somehow to not get left out.  The painfully shy part still makes me wonder if Ellie’s adopted somehow, but then I have a particular scar a couple inches below my belly button that begs to differ. 

My miniature version of myself, like she was made out of the exact same mold once made 27 years ago, often has me questioning Mom if I acted the same way and often apologizing to Mom for what I put her through so many years ago.

As she lays in her big girl bed fast asleep not knowing what an important day it is today, I blog her life in hopes that one day she’ll read this and understand why I am the way I am.  Why Mama makes a big deal out of traditions, why Mama is so routine, why Mama organizes when she is stressed, why she attempts to bake when there’s a birthday, why Mama is such a nickel nazi (daughter of the penny nazi), why Mama would rather clean up the house before going to bed rather than getting an extra 45 minutes of sleep. 

Maybe Ellie won’t be reading this to understand Mama, but maybe understand herself.  Like so many of us that dare say they won’t turn into their mother or father, I realized at the age of 27, I want to be Nana when I grow up. 

I don’t want to force Ellie to be anything she doesn’t want to be when she grows up, but if I could offer a suggestion, it would be me.  Not out of vanity, but as Papa (and Gene Simmons) says, “It’s good to be me.”  Emma and Ellie make me happy from the moment I wake up to the moment I kiss their heads and tuck them into bed sometime around 1:30 a.m. when I go to bed.  When you are surrounded by love and have so much happiness, who wouldn’t want to be you?

My husband and my girls give me happiness beyond what I could express in words.  I never thought 2 years ago, it would be easier with two kids, two dogs, four fish and anything that needs taking care of.  I know what love is because of my family. . .especially my little Ellie Bellie who sleeps happily probably dreaming of Poptarts.

December 11, 2006 at 12:15 p.m. Noelle “Ellie” Cambryn Tow came into our lives.  So painfully shy, yet never left out.  Maybe this will be the year of her independence. . .maybe I should do a little research into my and Ellie’s Daddy’s past to figure out how the next 365 days are going to play out. . .

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future.  ~Author Unknown

What the daughter does, the mother did.  ~Jewish Proverb