Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolutely Resolving to...

It's that time of year again, when we all try to decide how to improve our lives in the next year. I learned a lot about resolutions in 2008, as it was the first year ever I actually kept my resolution for the ENTIRE year. I am really proud of how I exercised 4-5 days a week, joined a gym, ate LOTS healthier, and lost weight. I think I was successful, because this was the ONLY resolution that I decided on. I also didn't set specific pound loss goals, or how much weight I wanted to lose by when goals, which I think really helped. If I hadn't achieved these, I probably would have given up. Instead, I just decided to get better at having healthy habitats. Which did lead to weightloss, but at my body's own pace.

This year I am going to have two resolutions.

The first is just to keep going on the healthy living/habits I established last year. I am going to additionally work on adding more healthy snacks.

The second is to have more time with friends, so that I can get some of ME back. This is probably going to require finding a babysitter and then shelling out some bucks to said sitter, but I know that I am a better mom when I have time away from my family. That's pretty hard to come by around here with Jeff's work schedule, so I am going to have to get creative. I know for my mental health though, that I HAVE to do this in 2009. Raising three boys on your own for 5 days a week takes a lot out of you. I would like to find the girl named Christy I used to know well.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your resolutions go well in the new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Unpacking...FInally

I spent this morning cleaning out our guest bedroom. I got a new sewing machine for Christmas, and this seemed to be the best place to set it up. The guest room is probably the only place in the house where I can start a project, and leave things out for a work in progress, thanks to the lock on the door. Thankfully for my sewing, we don't often have overnight guests.

Somehow during our move to this house almost 3 years ago, several stacks of boxes were relegated to the closet in this room. Most of them having nothing to do with sewing, or guests. Due mostly to being a baby machine and baby care taker for our first few years in our home, I haven't sewn a stitch or had any inclination to dig out the closet until today.

I am hoping to change that in the New Year, so today we dug in. I found huge stacks of fabric, most of it I have no idea where it came from. It did get me itching to start a new project and fire up my new machine, so hopefully there will be some me time in 2009.

Three boxes and four bags of trash later, I can now see the floor in the closet, and my sewing supplies are neatly unpacked and arranged. I love organizing, so it was actually an enjoyable project. Now...if I can just find some time to do some quilting, I will REALLY be happy!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Playdate

We had a terrific morning around casa de la Kleffman today. My niece and nephew Brookie Cookie and Colin came over to play. Colin and Evan had a lot of talking and playing to do with their new Star Wars things, Brookie let me brush her hair and put a pony in (ahhh! The joy of little girls!), and we all played a little Wii. We stopped mid morning for this:



There's nothing like a little chocolate cake at 10:00 in the morning for a snack! Even though Colin doesn't have any in front of him in the picture, he had already polished off two pieces. What are aunts and godmothers for if not a little spoiling?

A fun morning that has provided me with a lovely stretch of naptime, since my kids are all worn out.



See that rock star pony tail?!

I so love these two kiddos.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lovely

I just spent a lovely couple of hours having coffee with two old, dear friends. I have known both of these people and counted them as friends for over 16 years now (which I guess confirms my entry in middle agedom).

It reminded me how wonderful it is to have friends who have stood by you and loved you even during your most dreadful mistakes or dumb choices. I always come away so comforted to know that someone supports me, no matter what.

I think one of my resolutions for 2009 will be to make it a point to get myself out of the house more often this year to spend time with friends, as just me, and not as Christy the Mom. When I am out, I realize how much I miss myself, if that makes any sense.

Vacation from Celebration

I love the holidays. I really and truly do. It is my favorite time of the year, but today I am feeling like I need a vacation from celebration.

We attended our fourth Christmas party this morning. Don't get me wrong; it is SOO nice to visit with family and friends. But when you shove that many parties into so short a time span, it gets to be exhausting. Also, even the thought of any more rich food is starting to make me nauseous. I am scared to step on the scale after all the unusual eating I have done in the past few days.

We saw my Grandpa Dave at today's party, and it was a real wake up call. Just since the last time I have seen him, he has become incredibly frail. He slept most of the time in his wheel chair, and seemed completely oblivious to the fact that there were people around him. I think it was pretty hard for my Grandma. I know it was very hard for some of my relatives to see him like that.

So, maybe a little from the emotion of that, and probably a lot from the too rich food I've eaten as of late, I am feeling tired, headachy, and a bit overwhelmed. Despite my desperate hope that it would happen, my laundry did not do itself while we have been out partying, and now it is overflowing from every hamper. I haven't seen my living room floor in days due to the influx in toys. It is time for some serious organization, cleaning, and laundry around here tomorrow.

But first, I am off tonight to have coffee with some old friends. I can't wait to relax and catch up!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Our Christmas in Photos

We had such a wonderful past few days celebrating the holidays. Jeff and I have both felt so blessed with the love of family and friends. Here are some of the highlights...

My three handsome guys

Evan, after singing with the Awesome Angels choir at Christmas Eve Mass

The table set beautifully at my Mom's on Christmas Eve

My awesome Christmas present from my Mom and sister-excuse Sammy's head-a new sewing machine! My only hope is that life will let me use it!

Evan opening his favorite gift-a new Wii!!! Isn't Santa nice?!

Sammy in his new ball pit, although his favorite gift was his new basketball hoop, which he has been playing with non-stop since I got it out of the box on Friday.

It was truly a magical day, especially with Charlie and Sammy now aware of the Santa magic. I just wish it wouldn't go so quickly!

Today was spent in Harlan with Jeff's family where the awesome Grandpa John presented Evan with the Star Wars helmet he had been lusting after, and Charlie and Sam received matching two wheel bikes, complete with license plates with their names on them. We stuffed ourselves on DELICIOUS prime rib and cake, and spent wonderful time with family. Evan loves getting together with this side of the family, as he has cousins his age to play with. They spent a large portion of the afternoon playing crazy eights. Aunt Sarah taught Charlie to make a toast, and he drank gallons of sprite from a fancy plastic flute while toasting everyone in the house. A lovely time was had by all!

I hope all of you had a magical day as well.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

As my friend Jeff twittered last night,

"For unto us a child is born!"

I am up early, before the rest of my family, so I am drinking coffee, enjoying the quiet, and trying to remember the real reason for the season.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your families.

Got some great pictures I will be posting later from Christmas Eve, including one of Charlie peaking out the windows at my parent's house, after he swore he saw reindeers outside!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not Much

There isn't a whole lot going on around here, (I feel like there are some who might like to bosh me over the head for saying that this close to the holidays) but I thought I should do a post so you don't think I am MIA. I did such a good job of posting this year *patting myself on the back* that I didn't want to let December get too low on posts either.

So, here we go with a mish mash update.

Saturday I gave all three boys plus Jeff haircuts, and then went out and got a cut myself. 4 more inches off for me! There's nothing like a good haircut to make you feel better. I was feeling good about how we would all look in the Christmas photos until yesterday afternoon when I managed to give myself a black eye while changing the sheets on the bunk beds. You have to be flexible in gymnastic proportions to be able to change sheets on a bunk bed. People as clumsy as I am should obviously not even attempt it. Somehow I managed to smash my eye into the side of the bed, and now will look pretty terrific in our family photos. At least I am usually the one behind the camera.

I managed to work up some holiday excitement and get out of my holiday funk yesterday in an interesting way. I had just a couple of presents left to wrap, so while I was working I put on an old Christmas record on the turntable. There was something about the quality of the recording, with that bit of scratchiness and sound only a record can have, that transported me back to childhood. I felt a good deal more excited and festive afterwards.

Evan starts his eye therapy next Wednesday. I am so dreading it! The schedule for home therapy is going to be a killer. Worth it, but killer.

I wish the Christmas cookies in our house would walk out the door. Or that Jeff would eat them all. Maybe in one sitting? They are too tempting.

Jeff gave me the BEST early Christmas present. Jeff hates wearing his wedding ring. He has always said it feels really awkward for him. He wore it for about 4 months after the wedding, and then it got relegated to the drawer in his nightstand. On Saturday, he put in back on his finger, and pledged to keep it there. He has worn it faithfully ever since. This is really the only thing I wanted for Christmas. No gifts, just his ring. I know it's only a symbol, but it makes me so happy to see it there!

Here's hoping all of you have a wonderful holiday with lots of time with family and friends!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Un-Merry

Our Christmas tree is decorated. Our home is jolly with decorations placed in various rooms. We have Christmas cookies on a plate to munch, and more in the freezer. I have spent the last two days wrapping. I spent 14 days of the last three weeks with 30 very excited and joyful 6 year olds, preparing for the holiday season in both religious and secular ways. I have been to various Advent prayer services in an effort to get ready for the birth of Jesus.

And yet...

I do not feel in the holiday spirit. Today is my parents wedding anniversary, and usually at this point in the holiday season I start to get really excited. This year, I can't get out of the mind set that it is just any old day. I can't even wrap my head around the fact that I don't have to go to work tomorrow, and that we are on Christmas vacation.

Not sure what is wrong, or what is different, but hoping to get out of my funk in the next few days.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I am in LOVE LOVE LOVE!

With an electric blanket! I have never owned one before. Due in large part to the fact that my mom is a bit of a Smoky the Bear. There is an OCD gene in my mom's side of the family, one which I inherited full force. It started with my Grandpa, who had a healthy fear of water heaters and furnaces exploding, and a driving need to make sure all the doors were locked in the house about 200 times before going to bed at night. My mom is the lucky one with a light case only related to all things flammable. She HATES candles, space heaters, and electric blankets. Could start a fire you know! She passed the gene on to me, and hence my obsession with folding towels certain ways, perfectly placed rolls of toilet paper on the dispenser, neatly arranged office supplies, etc. Anyway. My mom never let me have an electric blanket growing up, and as a result as an adult I have always been slightly fearful of them.

Jeff has been trying to talk me into one for three winters now, and I finally gave in, but only after we discussed a fire safety plan if it resulted it us burning the house down. (See the OCD coming out?!) I used some gift certificates I had received from my students to head over to Walmart, and I picked out a blanket with dual controls so Jeff can have his at a low setting and I can fire mine up.

I had THE BEST night of sleep I have had IN YEARS last night. I have always had problems with being cold at night. In high school I slept with mittens on my hands in the winter. Lately, I have been known to cajole Jeff into getting into bed 10 minutes before me to warm up the sheets. But finally, last night, I slept in total toasty comfort. I cranked it up to the middle setting of 5, and loved every blessed minute of it.

Heck, a fire is worth all this comfort before hand.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Copy Cats

Last Saturday night, before Omaha was transported to the North Pole (complete with snow, ice, and arctic temperatures) we copied an idea that my fabulous friend Christi did with her kids. As Christi is always fabulous, I frequently copy her, as I know it will turn out-well-fabulous.

After the dinner dishes were put away, we gave the kids baths, put them in their pjs (even Evan!), and put them in the car, wrapped in warm fleece blankets. We then headed over to Starbucks to grab some hot chocolate. As we pulled up to the window to collect our cups, Sam yelled from the back seat, "I WANT SOME FRIES!!!" Which I guess tells you where we usually go for a dinner treat.

Anyway, the hot chocolate was delicious, and it was wonderful to drink as we drove around looking at Christmas lights. The boys were thoroughly impressed, and it was such a nice time to spend with the kids.

I know I have mentioned here before about Sam and his crazy mix-ups, like how he calls lions monkeys, snow monsters are owls, etc. Another one popped up as we were looking at lights...as we passed each house, Sam would ooh and ahhh in wonder, and then say, "That's dumb!" Through a lengthy toddlerish discussion with him that night, and after much snorting laughter on our part, we discovered he has switcherood the word dumb with the word pretty. Seriously! I am starting to wonder if someone at school is feeding him this stuff on purpose.

A good time was had by all, and I hope we remember to continue this tradition next year! Thanks Christi for yet another great idea!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Get With it Little Tikes

There were three different Little Tikes toys that I wanted to buy Charlie and Sammy for Christmas that I just couldn't find in stores so I ordered them online. Normally I love doing online holiday shopping. It's so nice when you can shop without having to leave the house, and everything arrives on your doorstep in a NICE PLAIN BROWN BOX. Ahem.

As we approached our house today after school, I saw that Santa's elves (aka the UPS man) had made a delivery to our front porch. Three boxes sat, BUT they were not plain brown shipping boxes. No, they were the original toy boxes, huge full length pictures on the outside, all facing towards the street and the eyes of my toddlers.

Luckily, Evan and I both spotted this Christmas catastrophe at the same time, and we both turned to the kids in the back with funny faces, jokes, and songs to distract them from the spectacle of new toys sitting in front of the house. I am pretty sure it worked.

What the heck? Surely this company has tons of people ordering children's Christmas presents. You would assume they would know this is a bad idea. Every other toy company I have ordered from this season, and in seasons past has delivered in discreet boxes.

GET WITH THE PROGRAM LITTLE TIKES!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sad Sammy

I think I mentioned earlier that Charlie has been transitioning to the preschool class at school. Each day he gets to spend a little more time with Miss Jenny and her Lucky Ladybugs (the 3 year old class name). Charlie is loving it, but Sammy is having major separation anxiety.

Charlie and Sammy do everything together. The term Irish twins is very apt in many ways, as I think they operate and relate to each other in many of the same ways as a set of true twins would. At home they play together constantly. I rarely see one of them off by themselves. In fact, Charlie refuses to go into the downstairs toy room without Sam. (I think he sees Sammy a bit as his protector from the Booger Man, which Charlie believes lives downstairs at our house. And no, I did not mean Boogie Man). They eat together, nap together, and brush their teeth together. Over the summer when I took them to the daycare at Lifetime Fitness, Sammy was confined to the toddler room, as he was not yet two. So, Charlie would go into the toddler room too, even though he didn't have to, to be with his other half.

Sammy is distraught that Charlie is now in a different classroom at school. He stands by the gate most mornings and looks for Charlie in the big kid room. If they pass each other in the kitchen, they both stop for a hug and a few minutes to hold each other's hand. His teacher says he has been acting up lately, and pretty naughty and I know it is because he is missing Charlie. This morning on the way to school Sammy burst into tears and said, "I NOT a toddler! Sammy go too!" And I knew right away what he was talking about.

It breaks my heart. I know that in a lot of ways this is good for them, and will help them to develop separate identities, but I am still so sad for Sammy.

It makes me a lot more understanding of the twins I have come through my classroom who's parents don't want to separate them. It's just plain HARD.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Penguins

I watched this post over at Kelly Corrigan's blog today. Check it out.

In it, Kelly refers to her "posse", her incredible group of women friends, as penguins. This is a take on mother hens.

It got me thinking. I don't have a group of penguins. And it makes me really sad. I have a penguin here, a penguin in Detroit, and that's it. As a woman living with too much testosterone in her house, I crave the companionship of other women. To be truthful, I guess I always have, but maybe that need is more acute now. In the past, in my pre-kid life, I had a large circle of girlfriends that I felt I could count on for anything. We were as close as sisters, and I loved that feeling of support. Arms around you at all times. Girls are great at that, aren't we?

Having Evan changed all of that for me. At least, that is point I can track it back to. I would never take back the miracle of having Evan in my life, and I thank God everyday for the honor of being chosen to be his mother. But being a single mother is nothing if not isolating. Especially when you become one in college. Everyone else is out socializing and having the time of their life, and suddenly you are the one that always has to stay home. It was all I could do to focus on myself and my child, and getting through the rest of college. And I am SO proud that I graduated summa cum laude at the end of it. But the cost? My friends.

I don't feel like they intentionally abandoned me, our lives just suddenly went in totally different directions. Sadly though, no one really ever showed up to take their places. Probably some of that is my fault. My life has been a whirlwind for 10 years now, but I guess I should stop once and awhile to make more time for those around me.

Anyway, it just made me feel so lonely to watch her video. I miss having close girl friends. A group to go out with and have a girls night.

Do you think Santa would deliver if I asked for Penguins for Christmas?

Monday, December 08, 2008

From the Classroom

Every Monday I introduce and practice with my class the new vocabulary words we will work on during the week in reading. One of the activities I use to do this is to have the students record the words in their vocabulary notebooks, where we also draw a picture to remind us of what each word means.

One of our words today was call. We talked about how this could mean to call someone on the telephone. When I went to draw the picture for the students to copy, I automatically (without even thinking about it) drew a phone with a "banana shaped receiver", a long curly cord, and a rotary dial. I guess this is still how I think of a phone. As I stepped away from the board, I noticed that 30 faces were staring curiously at me. I looked back at my Teacher Assistant, and she just shrugged. It looked like a phone to her too.

One little boy called out, "Mrs. K, what IS that?" And it hit me. Phones don't look anything like that anymore. Another little girl raised her hand and said, "We only have cell phones at our house, and they don't look like that. Where are the buttons for texting?"

I just sighed, and had a student draw the picture.

It's official. I am old, and I guess I am to the point where I can say, "When I was kid, we..." Sad, huh?

When I was kid we used phones that connected to the wall. You dialed them instead of pushing buttons. You used them just to call people instead of sending a text message. If you needed to call someone while you were out, you used a pay phone. What changes there have been!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Scary Owls

Sammy and Charlie are in love with the classic movie Rudolph right now. Luckily I bought the DVD on Black Friday, so they can watch it often. Unfortunately, this also means at least once a day. I love Rudolph, but I am starting to get a little bit tired of it.

Sammy's favorite character is the Abominable Snowman, who he is convinced is an owl. We still haven't been able to get through to him on the fact that owls are birds, not monsters. Or that Big Bird is not a duck. Or that the Cowardly Lion is not a monkey. Come to think of it, I am a little worried about this kid's brain. Maybe he has issues.

Anyway, while grocery shopping at Walmart on Friday, I noticed some shirts that feature a Rudolph (with a blinking nose!), Eddie the Elf, Ukon Cornelius, and a BIG Abominable. I had to get 2, one each for Charlie and Sammy. I knew they would love them.

They both wore the shirts yesterday, and Sammy was especially gleeful about his, telling everyone about the owl on his shirt all day.

Shortly after putting them on in the morning, Charlie and Sammy were sitting together and talking about their shirts when Sammy said, "Charlie, Owl is gonna bite you! He bite you on your legs! He gonna EAT YOU FOR BREAKFAST!" (This was said in as threatening a voice as an adorable 2 year old can manage). Charlie looked horrified at Sammy for a minute, and then he burst into tears. Sammy merely looked satisfied that Charlie had the fear of God in him regarding the viciousness of the Owl and his big teeth.

What a kid. This is going to be an interesting Christmas!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Teacher Woes

Are you sick of high paid teachers? Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - baby sit! We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM
with 45 min. off for lunch and plan — that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children.

Now how many do they teach in day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET’S SEE…. That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 peryear. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children
X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your
kids!)

WHAT A DEAL!!!!

I wish I wrote this but I didn’t. This was sent to me by one of the teachers in my school. It sure does put things into perspective!

Mission Accomplished

The good news first-our computer power cord arrived today and I BACK Internet! I am BACK! Ah-the joys of Facebook and blogging. It's better than your first cup of coffee in the morning.

I am so excited. Every year I try and get one big gift in addition to the little ones that the kids get from Santa that will kind of be a creme de la creme of toys. This year my mission was to find a Wii. I saw a bunch of them on Black Friday when I was out. Sadly for me, I hadn't yet decided this would be the thing for us. About a week later when I tried to find one-they were nowhere to be seen. I have looked everywhere in stores and come to the conclusion you need to stalk the store to know when stock is delivered and then haul ass to the electronics department when it is so that you can tackle a bunch of people to get one.

So today, after about an hour of searching online, I FINALLY found one that was miraculously in stock. THANK YOU LORD!

With the exception of two gifts, I can now say that I am done Christmas shopping.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts...

We are having a technology black out at our house this week. The cord that charges the laptop broke over the weekend, right as the laptop was out of power so I have no access to computers or internet at home.

Yes, it is killing me.

I have realized how addicted to Facebook and Twitter I have become. I feel like I could start twitching everytime I think about how long it has been since I checked in.

And I can't do the online shopping I wanted, and not having email? IT. IS. KILLING. ME.

I suppose this whole "break" is good for me, but really? I don't care. I just want my computer back. I feel good about admitting I am a total technology addict.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Nervous!

I am hosting a baby shower today with my sister Sarah for our cousin's wife Ashley. I am excited but nervous!!!

I am not the most natural of hostesses, so here's hoping I can pull it off. Thank God my sister is helping me, and most of the guests are family.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Baby

Today was a special day around our house. Not just because it is Thanksgiving, but also because my little Sammy boy turned 2 at 11:24 this morning. It was rather appropriate the days were combined, as I spent a lot of time today being thankful for Sammy, who was the biggest surprise of my life, and for my husband, the second biggest surprise.

We actually did most of our celebrating last Sunday, when we had friends and family over for a party. He loved the presents, which he quickly figured out, and he loved being sang Happy Birthday to; one of the few people I have ever met who enjoy this part of a birthday celebration.



Isn't he cute? I am so thankful that even though he no longer officially a baby (although I will always call him that since he is my youngest) he still has his round baby face, and utterly edible chubby baby cheeks. I am thankful that he still wants to snuggle and cuddle with me, and I am still the one who can kiss away his boo boos.

I am so thankful that God sent me this beautiful baby boy, even if finding out about his arrival into our lives gave me quite a jolt. Although looking back maybe it shouldn't. The night that Sam was conceived I had this very vivid dream, of being inside a womb, and watching an egg get fertilized and a baby begin. I awoke with a start right after the dream had ended, and I felt vaguely unsettled. I didn't even tell Jeff about it right away, because the dream was so real, and I didn't want it to be true. I had a newborn to deal with. I couldn't completely forget it though, and the dream faded into a little nagging itch in the back of my brain. I think the itch is why when I felt a vague sense of nausea a few weeks later I had a horrible suspicion of what had happened.

As usual, God knew best and Sammy turned out to be the missing piece of our family, and the very thing I needed to complete my heart.

I remember looking up into Jeff's exhausted, red, tired, loving eyes shortly after Sammy was born, and being so very thankful for this man who was strong enough, loving enough, and patient enough to stand by me through birthing two children in one calendar year. I am not a pleasant pregnant person. Hormones do wretched things to my emotional state, and I become demanding, whiny, depressed, and teary. Jeff patiently rubbed my back, put my shoes on for me, dried my tears, and encouraged me through it all. If he was frustrated too, he never once let me see that, not wanting to add to my already full plate. I remember thinking that if we could get through that, surely we could get through about anything.

I am even more thankful for this amazing man, who I am blessed enough to call my husband, today. The last two years have been HARD. And that word doesn't even begin to cover it. Having two children only 10 months apart is COMPLETELY exhausting. Not that I don't treasure my children, but there have been many moments when I wasn't sure I had enough energy and patience to make it. Today in the car on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner in Harlan, I looked over at Jeff, and I was hit with the same feelings I had two years ago, but much more intense. This man is still here, still walking by my side. No matter how hard it has gotten, how crazed I have become with the demands of mothering and working full time-he is still here. I am just so incredibly thankful to have the blessing of a husband who loves me and sticks with me through thick and thin. And I feel so secure that if we can make it through all of this happening in only 3 1/2 years of marriage, we can make it through whatever comes next. Together.

That's why Jeff is my second greatest surprise. I had given up on finding a friend to walk through life with. God surprised me with his goodness, in sending not just any man to be my husband, but this man of strength.

Happy Birthday Sammy! I know you will keep bringing happy surprises and blessings into our lives for many years to come. I love you, buddy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Organization: My Own Form of Heroin

I love to be organized. I love the process of organization. I love finding containers to organize things into.

A little OCD?

Probably. Nobody's perfect though, right?

Anyway, that's why the storage room in our house has bothered me for the entire 2 1/2 years that we have lived here. The room is big, which is great, but that's all there was-just a large open room with not a shelf in sight. When we moved in, we piled boxes up against the walls. My first months in this house were not restful ones that I could spend leisurely sorting through boxes and organizing this cave which seemed to attract spare bits of flotsam from all over the house. I was newly pregnant with Sam, and had a 4 month old Charlie to deal with at the same time. Needless to say, I didn't get around to organizing much of anything in there anytime soon.

Things got worse after Sam was born. Not only was I half crazed between taking care of two infants, but I started to need things that were buried in boxes down there. I would hurriedly paw through boxes and shove things around to find something quickly in the rare 5 minutes I would have to myself, desperately searching for a piece of baby equipment I knew was down there SOMEWHERE. The mess grew and grew.

Eventually things calmed down a bit in our lives. As they did, I stopped to notice how horrifying it had become in the storage room. Admittedly, not as horrifying if you are Jeff or someone else without a need for order, but to me it was horrifying. I hated walking past the door or going in to find something.

So, I started talking about getting some shelving units. My dad, who is a master at building things thought that was dumb. He said he could custom build me some floor to ceiling shelving units that would better utilize the space.

My rock star Dad took the day off from work on Tuesday, came to my house to work instead, and built me this:



They extend along two walls and I am just in love with them. I happily organized away last night, and I just feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. Isn't my dad great?



This is a part of what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. Not just my new shelves, gorgeous as they are, but for a wonderful Dad who loves me. Loves me enough to keep taking care of me with kind acts even though I am a grown up. It is a wonderful thing to feel cherished and loved by a parent, and to know that will be true no matter how old you are.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Putting All That Training to Good Use

Sammy took 20 years off my life tonight at dinner by scaring me to death.

We had some left over baby carrots from a veggie tray we had at his party yesterday, so I fed them to the kids at dinner tonight. Sammy was goofing around in his chair at the same time he had a mouthful of carrots, and fell over backwards onto the floor. He hit his head on the floor when he landed, which caused him to inhale in surprise and pain, which meant that he breathed in a mouthful of hard chunky carrots. And then-my worst nightmare (or one of them-the other being a fire in the middle of the night) came true. He started choking.

There is nothing worse than looking at your child's face when they can't breathe. When they are scared spitless.

I am praising God right now that I have had to sit through countless First Aid and CPR trainings for various daycare and teaching positions I have held. Somehow adrenaline and training took over, and I grabbed him, flipped him upside down in the football hold, and started pounding on his back. In a few seconds, even though it seemed like HOURS, the carrot came back out. He coughed and coughed and coughed for a long time after that, and a lot more came out.

I was SO relieved I started crying, and I went to sit down on the chair I thought was behind me so I could turn him around and reassure myself that he was fine. Somehow in all the excitement though I moved the chair, and I ended up falling with Sammy to the ground, flat on my back, and hitting my head REALLY hard on the edge of the kitchen chair on the way down.

What a night.

Poor Sammy. For the rest of the night he kept saying, "What happened?! I upside down! Mommy hit me!" He was so confused!

No one in this house is ever going to eat a fresh carrot again. It's a new rule. You can add carrots to my list of things I'm scared of.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Generations of Love

A few days ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Sharon, did a post called An Object With Unexpected Significance. .

I've thought a lot about her post her post ever since I read it, and yesterday while I was doing some baking in preparation for Sammy's birthday party, I found my own objects with unexpected significance.



The rolling pin on the left belonged to my wonderful Grandma Sophie, and the pastry cutter and rolling pin on the right belonged first to my Great-Grandma Adeline, and then to my Grandma Rose. I love to use all three of these things, which would probably seem like ordinary objects to anyone else. When I am baking something and using my rolling pins, I can feel my grandmother's hands on mine. I feel how their hands touched the very handles that I am using. I imagine all of the cookies, pies, and meals these rolling pins helped to make for their families. Sophie had 10 children, and Adeline had 8. That's a lot of hungry people. Adeline came from Germany, and her husband Henry, who later lived with my Mom when she was a child, often spoke of the German tradition of ALWAYS having a freshly baked desert after every meal. I am sure they both got a lot of use out of these everyday tools.

In fact, one of the handles on Adeline's rolling pin was reattached by my Grandpa Dave, when it came apart after much use in the '70s. The bolt doesn't match and looks totally different from the rest of the rolling pin, but I love that too. It reminds me of my handy man grandfather, who used to love to putter around and make, create, and fix.

I love that these tools are helping me to make food for my own family now. They are truly precious to me. Anything that can help me remember the smiling faces of my grandmothers, their heartfelt laughter as they worked in the kitchen, and the love they served their families with will always hold a special place in my heart.

I am sad that I don't have a daughter to pass these on to, and continue the tradition. Who knows-maybe one of my boys will be a baker. Or maybe I will be blessed enough to have a daughter in law that I love like my own. One thing is certain-whoever I pass these along to will be the type of person who can see my hands in the mix when I am gone. Someone who can see these simple rolling pins as a symbol of generations of women in our family, taking care of the ones they love.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Starting to Panic

I am starting to get nervous.

On Sunday is Sammy's birthday party. He is turning 2! So, I am nervous because:
1) My house is a FREAKIN' DISASTER AREA. Due in part to the fact that I can't stop reading the Twilight series long enough to get anything done, and also to the fact I have a cold-I know you're shocked I'm sick again.
2) I have a lot to bake this weekend, Evan has a birthday party to attend, and I am scheduled to help at church Saturday night. Will it all get done? Probably not.
3) My BABY is turning 2. He will officially be a toddler, and not a baby. I AM NOT READY FOR THIS. Would it be too much to ask for Sammy to remain a one year old forever with his sweet kissable baby cheeks always at that perfect size for munching?

On Thursday is Thanksgiving. I am not hosting this year, but I will be making yet another pie to take with us, and as we will be in Harlan for the day, it will be one less day to get ready for...

the Baby Shower Sarah and I are hosting on Saturday. Which the only thing I have done to get ready for is send out the invites. It's cool-NOT!!!

Did I mention the mountains of laundry that are once again everywhere?

Where is your fairy godmother when you need her?!!! Or at least Merry Maids?!!!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I admit it-I was wrong

That is not a statement that I choke out easily, but I am ready to insert my blog foot in my mouth.

I was wrong about Twilight.

Or, should I say, mostly wrong. The first 275 pages of Twilight are not fast moving or particularly interesting. The author does a lot of explaining about her characters and plot, and maybe that is necessary in a fantasy story like this one.

Once you hit the last third of the book though, look out. It is fantastic. I literally had my face stuck in the book while cooking dinner, giving baths, and helping with homework. Yes, I now know I can do all those things one handed!

The second book, New Moon, is good-GREAT-from the first page. I have about 100 pages left, and I am watching the clock crawl through the day so that I can zoom home and finish. And on the way there I am stopping to buy books 3 and 4 because I will go crazy if I can't start Eclipse as soon as I am done with New Moon.

I am hooked!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big Scary Monsters

Welcome to my 400th post! I can't believe it. One of my goals this year was to add a lot more posts to my blog-so I am proud that I did it. But I am also pretty amazed that there was enough to write about that many times. I guess maybe I am just getting better at writing about mundane details. And maybe I am boring you all to death with them! Thanks for putting up with me!

Yesterday, throughout the day, Sammy was making growling noises, in a toddler's imitation of a big scary monster. Or so I thought. Charlie and Sammy are both into dinosaurs and monsters right now, so I played along with him, acting appropriately scared, and making him giggle.

Right after dinner he growled deep again, but this time he said, "Guess what Sammy is!! Guess Mommy!" I pretended to think hard, and guessed "Is Sammy a monster?"

He laughed like I had said something stupid, and said,"No silly! Sammy a SCARY OWL!!!"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Check It Out!

The awesome Christy and Beth over at Ruby & Roja designs (they did my new blog design and I LOVE them!!!) are having a blog design give away! If you enter the contest, you can win a FREE-yes-FREE Christmas blog design plus four FREE blog designs to take your blog in style through 2009.

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Go check it out! You'll be glad you did!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas Shopping

I had the nicest morning today! I got up at the crack of dawn, and my mom, sister, and I headed out to the Younkers Community Day Sale. I got some awesome deals, like a crockpot for $19 (my old one was something I bought at a garage sale in college), a rice cooker for $14, and dress shoes for Jeff for only $35. Actually, looking back, the whole trip turned out to be Jeff themed, as I also got him a dress shirt, dress pants, a new belt, and his three big Christmas presents. I think I can cross him off my list.

The best part though was being with my mom and sister, without any kids. These moments are fewer and farther between since the kids came along, and so I treasure them more when they happen. Living with all boys, I think I crave girly moments like these more than ever. It's just so nice to be around other people with estrogen in their systems, ya know?

The end of the day wasn't as grand. The lights and fan went out in our hall bathroom after dinner, and even after flipping the breaker switch, they won't come back on. After this happened, Evan informed us that for the last couple of weeks the lights have been flickering in there while he has been taking a shower in the mornings. Fab. Luckily, my brother is an electrician, and he will be over in the morning. I'm hoping it's something simple.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fly Away Binkies, Fly Home Thumbs

Remember how the binkies in our house flew away about a week ago to be with a new baby who really needed them?

It's not going to badly, actually. A lot better than I thought it would. We had a couple of outraged bedtimes and naptimes, and that was about it. Charlie is especially doing a great job. He even got a toy car from our super pediatrician when we went in for an ear check as a reward. (Isn't it cool he noticed? And that he would make a big deal out of it with my toddler? I seriously love Dr. B).

Sammy, on the other hand, has replaced one bad habit with another. When he was a tiny infant, we noticed the occasional thumb sucking with him. I remember him popping his thumb in his mouth within the first hours after birth in fact, but it was quickly replaced with a binky.

Not anymore. Whenever I check Sammy at night before going to bed, there is a thumb in his mouth. When he's sitting and watching TV? Thumb in his mouth. When he's reading a book (usually Green Eggs and Ham)? Thumb in his mouth. This is my kid who didn't inherit straight baby teeth either. When I see him with that thumb in his mouth, I am picturing him as a 9 year old with braces. Too bad his thumb can't fly away with the binkies!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Twilight

Everyone on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, my blog roll, etc. lately has been talking about the book Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. It was originally written for teen age readers, but the book has a huge adult following. I love, love, LOVE to read, and I had heard it was as good as Harry Potter, so I hopped on the bandwagon and bought the book last week.

It is about vampires, which are normally such an exciting topic for me that I can't even read about them because I have major nightmares. So, Jeff was super relieved when I failed to wake him up kicking and screaming about blood sucking creatures after beginning the book. In fact, he was shocked, because he can count on this happening any other time I read a scary book.

Which is in fact, the problem with Twilight. So far, I am bored silly. The story line is kind of plodding, the love angle is so overdone it is nauseating, and the vampires (at least by page 322) are not scary at all.

I have this obsession where if I start a book, I have to finish it (remember that OCD problem I mentioned yesterday?!) So, I keep plowing through waiting for something to happen. I am really trying to understand why some people are over the moon about it.

Have you read it? What do you think? Tell me what I'm missing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Failing at Being Green

In January when I was making New Year's Resolutions, one thing I really wanted to do was try to incorporate a few things into my family's daily life to make us more green. One of the big things I chose was switching to a more concentrated, earth friendly laundry detergent.

I am totally anal about laundry. Don't hit me, but it is my favorite chore to do around the house. I love taking warm clothes out of the dryer, folding them carefully, and putting the loads away. I feel so accomplished when a load is done! I am BIG on the smell of detergent and fabric softener, it has to be noticeable in the clothes days later. I am anal too about my kids smelling good. Okay, so I admit to having a bit of an OCD problem.

Since almost all of my kids clothes also get passed through three boys, I am a stickler about stain removal. I get as many as I can with a pretreater, but with boys, I am ALWAYS missing something. And whoever thought it was a good idea to require the students at Evan's school to wear white polos as part of their uniform was obviously a man who was not in charge of the laundry. I want a detergent that will step in and erase the spots I've missed.

I have tried three different detergents this year that are concentrated and touted as earth friendly. including Melaleuca's MelaPower, All small and mighty, and Seventh Generation. I even tried a friend's reciped for a homemade mix. All of them brought terrible results.

I guess my kids play in the dirt all day long, because the washcloths were the first to bite the dust. I watched in horror as they all turned a sickly gray after trying to tackle the dirt of three boys in our daily battle to keep the kids clean and presentable. Next, I started to notice set in stains-the BANE of my existence!!! Then, the whites load, which includes that most stubborn of male garments, the undershirt, turned gray, even with bleach. What is it about mens armpits that can cause such stains?!!!

So this weekend, I gave up. I threw out undershirts and washcloths damaged beyond repair, and with a relish, I went to the store and bought my favorite liquid Tide, Bounce dryer sheets, and Downy fabric softener (yes, I use both dryer sheets AND liquid softener! Like I said- OCD.) I threw in a load, and when it came out of the dryer, I will admit to you I stood there and sniffed for 5 whole minutes. My clothes and my family smell and look great again.

So, I guess I am a failure at green laundry. Have any of you ever tried this? Any success?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tripping Through My Day With Bells on My Toes

I can't begin to tell you how NICE it is to feel half way normal today! I am not 100%, still really tired, but I can BREATHE! And it doesn't hurt to swallow! And best of all, I don't have a fever!

I hadn't realized until today exactly how grumpy and irritable and depressed I had gotten. My poor kids who had to put up with me!

We had a great day in school-I was happy to be there, excited to teach, and we had fun learning. It has been so long since I felt that way, and I could tell the kids were excited to have their regular old (although tired) teacher back.

I was cheerful with my own kids today, and it felt nice to be together, instead of a supreme struggle to get through the next five minutes.

And to top off my awesome day, my Mom, saint of mothers, is in my kitchen making home made pizza and letting me rest.

THANK YOU God for giving me health on the upswing today!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Joy of Raising Boys

I woke this morning to the sound of raucous peals of laughter coming from the toddlers' room. Even with my brain fogged with sleep I knew this couldn't be a good sign.

When I went in, I found both boys buck naked, diapers off. Both of the them were joyously using their boy parts to spray the room with pee. The walls, the floor, the toys. I was torn between laughing and crying. Not a mess you want to clean up when you're sick, but it was just so....boyish! They looked at me with faces flushed with laughter and chuckles and fun, and it was hard to be stern.

I can name quite a few grown men who would have just as much fun doing the same thing.

So, tongue in cheek and trying to suppress a laugh, we had a talk about not getting undressed until I got there, and how our parts were for going potty in the toilet, NOT around our room.

Is life this much fun with girls?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Illness

I didn't write about this last weekend in an effort to not complain too much, but I feel the need to do so now, because sickness is consuming my life.

Last Sunday I was diagnosed with strep throat. Which was depressing of course, but more so because I had just finished two bouts with a wretched stomach bug within the last three weeks.

I pushed through work during the week. I know I should have stayed home at least a day, but my class had two practices during the day for our big All Saints Day at church on Tuesday, and to tell you the truth, I just can't afford to use a sick day on myself. I have already used 4 1/2 this year, and with all of the eye doctor appointments for Evan I need all that I have left. And God knows the toddlers are going to get sick as we head into cold and flu season. At my school, when you run out of sick days, if you miss any other days you have to pay for the sub out of your own pocket. Which is $125 a day. Something we can't afford on top of Evan's eye treatment.

By Tuesday, I was also coughing and stuffy and running a fever again. I thought at first it was related to the strep throat. By Wednesday it hurt terribly to breathe, and I was feeling worse instead of better. I decided to go back to the doctor, but I couldn't make it until Friday afternoon between doctor appointments for Charlie and swimming and choir for Evan.

Yesterday I was diagnosed with pneumonia. They gave me yet another antibiotic, steroids, and cough medicine with codeine. Which I was very grateful to knock myself out with last night. I slept soundly for the first time in days.

The most depressing thing for me, and the questions I wish I could have answered is why. Why do I just get one thing after another?

If I am honest with myself, I really think it is because I can't rest and heal like I need to. I need to crawl into bed for several days and stay there. The not taking off from work is made worse by the fact I am a single mom during the week. Jeff is rarely home before 7:30. So even when I get home from work I can't rest because I am still on the job as Mom and Dad put together. Which sucks but it is just a fact of life for me/us.

I don't know what to do. My mom is coming Monday after school to help me out with the kids. I hate to depend too much I on her, but what else can we do?

I guess I will try to lay low as much as possible this weekend and just hope it is enough.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

From the Classroom

Our class journal assignment this morning was:

I like _____ for dinner.
It is good to eat because _____________.

One child's response:

I like Texas Roadhouse for dinner. It is good to eat because they have a penis to eat.

Hmmm. It's a shame then I've never been there before. Do you think Jeff would take me if he knew they serve this entree?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fly Away

Last night when we came home from school, Charlie could not find a binky (yes, my 2 1/2 year old still uses a binky! Try to refrain from throwing fruit at me!) and he threw the mother of all temper tantrums.

Over the weekend, Jeff had made up a story which he told both boys. It involved how binkies fly away when boys are too big to use them, and they find a brand new baby that needs to have a binky and stay with the new baby instead. Who knew my husband could be so creative? I was totally impressed.

After we had suffered through 45 minutes of Charlie's wailing, screaming, gnashing, and head smashing (he bangs his head on the floor when frustrated) I made the impulsive decision that those binkies were going to fly out the window that very minute!

I gathered all the binkies left in the house, had Charlie and Sam tell them good bye, and made them "disappear", aka threw them in the trash can.

In other words, we quit cold turkey.

Stupid, no? But now I am stuck. So bed time was a bit rough last night, but they eventually went to sleep.

This morning on the way to school Charlie asked me if "that dumb other baby still have my binky?" Poor guy. I am so tempted to give in!!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lovely Nuggets

I have been learning a little bit here and there lately about the Mormon faith. Three of my favorite bloggers are Mormons: Courtney at C jane enjoy it, Stephaine at the Nie Nie Dialogues, and Jessica at Balancing Everything. In the last few days, I have learned two things that warmed my heart. I "met" these women and began to read their blogs as mothers first, and as their faith is an important part of their lives, I have also learned some of their beliefs.

In Courtney's post today, which is an essay she wrote about her sister Stephanie who is recovering from serious burns to 80% of her body she says, "We also believe that women are divine. Where a righteous woman walks there is virtue. We want to be around the angelic presence of females. We are commanded to treat our mothers, wives and sisters as holy daughters of God. We worship a Savior who teaches the sacredness of women." It warmed my heart to read this. In a world where so many women are still treated as second class citizens, and where in some countries women are outrageously abused, it is wonderful to know that somewhere children are taught respect for women, especially in a religious context.

Mormons also believe in forever families. It is their belief that if a marriage is performed by a priest of God in a temple and is a "true" marriage, that marriage bond lasts beyond death. I love this. It has never made sense to me that God would create a soul mate for you, allow you to live your life together as one, bring children into this world as a part of that love, and then have it end at death. At my own wedding, that line of my vows truly bothered me. I want to always be connected to Jeff in a special way. Maybe it's not physical in heaven, but I really believe in my heart that our bond will last at least in a spiritual way beyond death.

I love learning about different faiths, how people worship, and what values and traditions they hold dear.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween 2008

I must apologize to you for being such a whiny blogger this last week. Hope I didn't bore you with my ranting. I have to thank all of you for your kind and supportive comments! They really did help me get through the week. That's one of the things I love best about blogging. People you've never met in person become a community and friends you look forward to hearing from. What in the world did we do before the internet?

Halloween was a wonderful time for us around here. Jeff made it home just in time for us to have dinner together. The look on the boys' faces as he walked in to see them was priceless. Sammy jumped up and down and absolutely squealed with delight. It was one of the priceless moments that you file away in your memory to take out again to look at many times.

This year we had a clone trooper, a dragon, and a giraffe to trick or treat with. Aren't they cute?



Sammy was not wild about the idea of a costume and kept asking why he had to put it on. Charlie thought that being a dragon was a grand idea and kept growling at us in true dragon style.



It was a Halloween of firsts for us. The first time Jeff has been able to go with us, the first time Sammy trick or treated, and the first time we have done so in our own neighborhood. I was amazed at the hordes of children we saw. There were large groups of 25-30 children walking along together. It made me a little sad. All of these kids in our neighborhood, and we don't know any of them. One of the definite downsides of having Evan go to school where I teach (which is pretty far from where we live) is that he has no friends where we live. And, I guess, neither do Jeff and I. We know our neighbors to either side pretty well, but we haven't really met or bonded with anyone else. Something to ponder.

Most of the dads (and quite a few of the moms too!) were walking along with cans of beer or bottles filled with brew. I guess everyone got to have a good time!!

You want to know a secret? One of my favorite parts of trick or treating is getting to have a glimpse into other people's houses. I love seeing how people decorate and make their houses into homes.

The toddlers made it for about an hour before Sammy plopped down on the sidewalk and said, "Sammy crash. I need hug. I not walk any more!" I guess our route was a little over zealous for the little guys. Luckily we were only a block or two from home, and I only had to lug his 34 pounds of adorable chub a short way.

Evan and I headed over to our friend Katie's house for an hour or so after that. She had a firepit going in the driveway, chili and cider, wine, and caramel apples. It was so beautiful out, and it was so relaxing to sit around the fire with friends after a long walk in the autumn air. A perfect end to the perfect evening.

See? I went an entire post without complaining. I feel much better. In fact, I won't even mention that Sammy was diagnosed with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease yesterday =)

How was your Halloween?

I Love E.L.F

About a week ago, the awesome Christi sent me an email about a new website she had found called E.L.F. As Christi always knows what she's talking about, I visited the site and discovered we weren't talking about Santa' little helpers, but instead about one of my favorite things, MAKEUP! ELF stands for Eyes, Lips, Face cosmetics.

One of the things I regret most about not having little girls is that I won't be able to play with make up with a daughter. I love new colors, new makeup trends, and new products. One way I motivate myself to get up in the morning is by thinking about how much fun it will be to do my makeup!

So imagine my delight when I discovered I had found a new line of makeup. I went a little wild, and ordered all of this:



But that's okay, because get this-I only spent a total of $25!! Most of the products offered by ELF are only $1.00. Yes, you read that right-$1.00. Go ahead-I'll wait while you pick yourself up off the floor.

Now, I admit that I was a little skeptical at first. I thought maybe the quality would be terrible, or that the sizes of the products would be miniscule. But when my box arrived on Wednesday night, I was delighted to find full sized products. And I have loved playing around with them the last few days, and the quality is wonderful.

Here is a shot of just the makeup portion:



My favorites so far are the all over face brush, and the luscious liquid lipstick, although the bath set is wonderful too. I got the peony scent, and I am in love with the body butter.

So-go check out ELF and treat yourself while saving yourself a dollar or two at the same time. You'll be glad you did!!

PS-Just as an FYI, no I did not receive any free samples from this company, nor was I asked to use them. Just wanted to pass on a great product-we girls need to stick together, right?!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

SERIOUSLY?!!!

Evan woke up this morning with an ear ache. Poor guy has a lot of ear pain.

Daycare just came to tell me that Sammy is running a fever of 102 and is hacking, coughing, and snotting.

Charlie's ear pain kept him up a lot during the night.

We will be going back to the doctor tomorrow morning-for our THIRD doctor appointment of the week-so that ALL THREE of my children can see their pediatrician.

Come on!!! Universe, you are totally raining on my parade.

I say enough is enough. Is one normal day too much to ask for?

This morning Charlie told me, "Daddy is never getting on that airplane again." You are so right buddy. He is never going out of town again. Not without me, anyway.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frazzled and Fried

Jeff left Sunday afternoon, and it has been nothing but chaos around here ever since.

Charlie woke up from his nap Sunday afternoon complaining that his right ear hurt. By Monday morning he was pretty miserable, so I called the doctor. We were lucky enough to get a 6:40 appointment, where they confirmed a raging infection, and sent us off to Walgreens with a prescription. When we had handed over the paper, the pharmacy tech smiled at me sweetly and said in a sugary tone that the wait would be 35-40 minutes. I am sure that smoke started pouring out my ears and I wanted to shout, "DON'T YOU SEE ME HERE ALL BY MYSELF WITH THREE BOYS?!!!!" But I just turned and walked the boys around the store for as long as they were good. After about 20 minutes they were pulling things off the shelves, so I sat us down in the waiting area, where Charlie and Sammy both launched into heartfelt temper tantrums. I totally understood their frustration-it was late (now about 7:45), they were out of patience, and Charlie was feeling sick. I did my best to comfort them, but stuck to the waiting room chairs. The pharmacy tech looked over at me with firm disapproval, but I just looked back at her with the same sugary sweet smile she had dosed me with earlier. Lo and behold, our prescription was done in about 5 minutes-the toad.

Meanwhile, I had known Monday morning that I was coming down with another of my bladder infections. I decided to be noble and take Charlie to the doctor first, so Tuesday afternoon found us at yet another doctor. Luckily for me my mom took the boys to her house so I could go by myself, as when I picked them up from daycare their teacher said that they hadn't napped all day. Not a good sign! It made the doctor appointment more peaceful, but it still meant we weren't home until around 7:00.

Today was spent taking Evan to choir practice after school, then racing to swimming lessons, and comforting Charlie who's ear still isn't feeling any better. And tomorrow-joy of joys-I have to do parent teacher conferences at school for a mere 13 hours straight. Does anyone know of a way to get Prozac in an IV drip? Cause I seriously need a little somethin' somethin' around here. Why does everything always happen when you are on your own with the kids?

The one redeeming point of today was when we were waiting in the narthex of the church for Evan to be done with choir. The toddlers were overcome by a well timed, yet totally unnatural fit of goodness and patience. They sat nicely together on a bench, holding hands, as calm as could be. An elderly gentleman walked past, and stopped to admire their breathtaking cuteness. "These are the cutest darn kids I've seen in a long time!" he stated. "Do they always have those shining halos over their heads?" Hardly ever, but I wanted to give him a great big smacking kiss on the lips for saying so. It made my day-and made up a little for the rest of the week. Maybe it was like a little hug from God coming right out of his mouth.

Now, if you all could just send me some energy, pep, happiness through the internet, maybe I can make it through tomorrow. And God, could you just make Jeff's plane land safely on Friday in time for him to help me with the trick or treating? It would be the best thing ever.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm a Slow Learner

Check out the great post today at Looky Daddy. It's a hilarious take on something we have around here-Irish twins. I may take up The Dad's suggestion and start referring to Charlie and Sammy as my I'm a Slow Learner Twins. Which is true!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Birthday Party #2

Despite my best efforts not to be a baby, I am really quite a mess about Jeff taking to the friendly skies today, and having a week of fun in Las Vegas. One of the worst parts about teaching is that I can't take a few days off to join him. Grrrr.

So to take my mind off things, I thought I would focus on the fun we had last night. I was disappointed that a few of our favorite people couldn't come-Jeff's grandma and aunt made it down to Omaha, but then had to return to Harlan because Grandma Monica was just too tired, my Grandma Rose is recovering from a stomach bug, and Evan's idol Christi and kids were in Harlan for a family event. But, despite missing a few of our favorites, the night went really well.

It is a tradition in our family that the birthday boy gets to pick the meal, and Evan chose tacos. Which was a relief to me after his choice of fried chicken last year, which took me hours to prepare, and eventually required me to call in my mother to help when it was clear that the piles of chicken were winning. It was an easy meal to serve and to prepare, and it seemed to go over well. Evan's Grandma brought her authentic, homemade Thai egg rolls, sticky rice, and beef jerky, which as always was to die for. Her food is amazing. She has taught me several Thai recipes over the years, and in an effort to keep Evan closer to a culture I can never begin to impart, I have tried to serve him a Thai dish here and there. Sadly, he always tells me, "Thanks for trying Mom. It doesn't taste as good as Grandma's though!"



Having Thursday afternoon and Friday off from school really helped my stress level too. My laundry was done by Saturday morning, the house was cleaner than it had been in months, and all I had left to do was bake. I made a strawberry cake (Evan's choice) and an apple and cherry pie.



Evan seemed to have a great time, and raced from one thing to the next. He loved his gifts, the food, and the people, so what more could you ask for? I loved seeing my family, and the blending of everyone. It was so nice to see all of the people who are important to Evan-my family, Jeff's family, and Dan's family come together to love him. After Evan was born, I couldn't even imagine a night like last night was possible. I never thought I would find a man to love both of us, and I thought it would be way to much to ask to have that man include a family that would love both of us. And I have so much respect for Dan's parents and their willingness to still be a part of our lives. I am so glad that God has worked wonders for both Evan and I in the last 10 years, and has provided us with things I never dared to believe in.

And now, the morning after, my house is filled with the sounds of crashing light sabers. Evan's (and Charlie and Sam's) favorite gift of the evening was 2 Star Wars Light Sabers. All three of the boys have been fighting happily together since they got up.



Now that Evan's birthday has been officially celebrated and recelebrated, I guess he can get on with the important business of being 10, with all the fun that it entails.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trying Not to be a Baby

Jeff's trip to Las Vegas is quickly approaching and I am absolutely DREADING it. Not just because I will miss the help with the hooligans-I mean children-but just because I will miss him so much. When Jeff is gone, I can't fall into a deep sleep. I just don't feel comfortable or relaxed at night with out him. And let's be serious-I just don't feel right during the day either when he's away.

I am really trying to kick myself in the arse about this though, and I am telling myself not to be such a baby about a few days once a year absence. My friend Linda's son is in the Navy, and his wife deals with a 6 month deployment every 2 years. My cousin Ashley went for a year without seeing her husband while he was in Iraq. One of my "tweets'" husband travels 4-5 days out of the week. At school, the father of one of my students just had to take a job in Kansas City and is only home 2 days a week. So, I am trying to remember that it could be SOOOO much worse, and that I have the strong example of many wonderful women to live up to.

It doesn't make me miss him any less, but it does make me want to be more grown up about it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Than a Woman

I am not ashamed to admit I have more than a few songs on my iPod by the Bee Gees. I love the wankedy wank disco sound of their music.

The last few times that a Bee Gees song has come on in the shuffle cycle Sammy has started covering his face with his hands and crying, "Sammy not like it!! Oh no! Sammy not like it!!"

He keeps it up until we skip to the next song. I guess he's not a disco fan like I am!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's a Miracle!

I took all three boys to the doctor this afternoon to get flu shots. I dread with all my being taking all of my children at once to the doctor. We usually have to go after school, and let me tell you-if you take a late afternoon doctor's appointment, by that time the doctor is so off schedule that first you wait for hours in the waiting room and then you wait for hours in the exam room and by the time the doctor comes in I need to be admitted to the insane asylum. Because waiting with three boys does not involve sitting, or patience, or anything resembling calm. Usually Sammy is trying to push the handicap button on the door so he can try to run out to the parking lot, while Charlie is trying to put the germy waiting room toys in his mouth, or at the very least is running in the opposite direction of his brother.

Today was different. All three boys sat in chairs. They did not get up. They did not scream or cry. They sat and waited patiently for their names to be called. I was dumbstruck. I have not had a pleasant wait in the last 2 1/2 years. It was so pleasant in fact I am beginning to suspect alien abduction. These people could not be my rambunctious children.

After thinking about it, I've decided to keep the aliens. I could do with a little calm around here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Evan's 10th Birthday

At 2:13 AM this morning, Evan turned 10 years old. I never wrote down a birth story for him, so I am challenging myself now to write down as many of the details as I can.

Evan's arrival actually began on the 19th. I went in for a 43 week appointment with the doctor at around 10:30. Yes-you read that right-43 weeks. At the time, as a single mom, I was using Medicaid as my health insurance, which left UNMC as the only group of doctors/hospital I could choose. I would never run out of bad things to say about this medical institution, the interns I had to see (a different one each visit), or the general depravity of care I received. After going through the humbling experience of using Medicaid, WIC and other public assistance programs, and coming out on the other side, I have the utmost respect and sympathy for other women who have to do this. It is degrading, demeaning, and depressing. The level of care available to you is so substandard it is frightening.

But I digress. My pregnancy with Evan was peppered with my first experience with tachycardia, which is a rapid heart beat when you are at rest. I had this with all three of my boys, but it was worst with Evan. The night before, I had been up all through the night with a heart rate averaging around 163 beats a minute, despite the fact I was lying down in bed. It was exhausting. At the appointment my mother and I had to beg the intern, who was meeting me for the first time that day, to induce me. After 2 hours of consulting with other doctors, they finally made the decision to induce and by 1:00 I was hooked up to a pitocin drip.

We watched the movie Titanic for the first several hours, which really weren't bad at all. I don't recommend watching this flick when your body is doped up with pregnancy hormones. The scene with the mother and baby frozen in the water about threw me over the edge, but everyone else was so wrapped up in the movie they failed to notice how much I hated it.

My mom, dad, and sister were all there to help me bring my first son into the world. They rubbed my back, fed me ice chips, and kept me motivated. I listened to Garrison Keillor all through the tough parts, which started around 7:00 PM, because I think his voice is the most relaxing thing ever. I remember feeling like I was floating through a haze of pain, contractions, and hunger, and it was all wrapped up in the lull of Garrison's slow methodical story telling.

After only about 12 pushes, (pushing has always been my specialty in labor-something I am really proud of! I can push out a 10 pounder in only 12 pushes! Literally!) Evan was born at 2:13 AM. He came into the world weighing 7 lbs, 4 ounces, 21 1/4 inches. I remember my Dad saying "Oh Evan! It's nice to meet you!" which I thought was so sweet. My mom and dad both cried, and my sister couldn't wait to hold him. I have a clear picture of her in my head sitting in the rocker next across from me, cradling him in her arms.

I also remember being RAVENOUS. I hadn't eaten since breakfast that morning, and so as soon as I was stitched up and sitting up in bed with Evan in my arms, I turned to Sarah, and rather shouted, "I need a SANDWICH!!!"

But most of all, I remember sitting up with Evan in my arms the rest of that night and the next, when it was just us left in the room, in complete awe of this new little being who was my wonderful, glorious, son. I was immediately smitten, completely in love, and more than a little over protective of this tiny little boy. Strangely enough, I was never worried about how I would support him, how we would manage, or what in the world I would do to finish college with a newborn in tow. I felt oddly peaceful on this front. I just knew he was meant to be, and our small family was meant to be as well. And for once, I was right. It all worked out, for the best, and he was meant to be the piece of my heart that had been missing.

Happy 10th birthday Evan! It's been a wonderful 10 years getting to watch you grow and change. I am HONORED to be your mother.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Creaking and Moaning

is what my muscles and bones are doing. I went to the gym for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks today. The sickness and birthday parties and visits to get stitches the last couple of weeks have kept me away. I have been working out at home on our exercise bike to make up for it, but I guess this is proof that home work outs just don't cut it.


I guess maybe I should have scaled back a little, but I did my hour of cardio I had *been* used to. Apparently I am not used to it anymore because my muscles are literally quivering.

Isn't it depressing how quickly you can loose ground with fitness?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The First of Evan's Birthday Celebrations

Tonight two of Evan's best friends came over. They hung out at the house for a bit, and then we headed over to Village Point to take in the movie City of Ember. The two boys Evan invited are the NICEST young men. (Although it pains me to admit that they can truly be called young men!). So polite, and kind, and well mannered. It helped that I have known these two since they were in Kindergarten, and one was a former student, but I really enjoyed spending the evening with these three.

I know it is silly, but I was a nervous wreck about this event for weeks. I was nervous about the organization of the whole thing, interacting with the parents, and driving everyone to the right places. I guess it's an outcropping of working where Evan goes to school. The parents of these little guys are wonderful people, but when you start out your relationship in the teacher/parent manner, it is hard to switch over to the more equal footing of a parent to parent relationship. I've always felt slightly outside of the circle with other parents in Evan's grade. I don't think they feel completely at ease with me, and I guess the opposite is true as well.

Despite my crazy nervousness, it all went really well. Got to the theater in one piece, enjoyed what turned out to be a WONDERFUL movie, and got everyone back safely to their respective houses without getting lost (although I have to say this was due in part to the excellent directions of my passengers-playdates are so much more pleasant when your charges are old enough to help direct you!)

It was cute to see Charlie play the part of the jealous younger brother. He tried his darndest to break up the party by sneaking into Evan's room, and begged to get to "go in the car with big boys!" I have such clear memories of my own siblings trying to do this with me when I was little, and it was funny to see this replayed.

Underlying it all though is my complete disbelief that Evan will turn 10 on Monday. I know it sounds so cliche, but I really did blink and he turned from a baby to a young man. Although in many ways I know him as well as I know myself, there are moments lately when we are talking that I feel like I am getting to know a new friend. He is truly beginning to come into his own, with his own feelings, opinions, and thoughts on the world. Watching your child progress through the beginning stages of childhood is so exciting, but as we are starting to navigate through this pre-teen stage, I truly am amazed at the glimpses of grown-up Evan we are starting to see more and more often. It tears at my heart strings more than a little bit too, to see how much of an individual person he is, so separate from me. Young children feel like so much of an extension of you as a parent, that it is like a painful tearing to have them become their own person. It's the goal you work so hard to help them achieve, but at the same time, there is a selfish part of me that doesn't really want that to happen.

I sure wish someone would figure out a way to capture time so I could freeze moments like these with my kids. I love you Evan. And no matter how big and grown up you get, you are always going to be my baby. It's just exactly like the Robert Munsch book says, "I love you forever, I like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fire Drill Adventure

This afetrnoon at daycare Charlie announced to his teacher that he had to go potty. So, she lead him into the bathroom and just as she was about to help him get his pants down, she heard a brawl erupt from the toddler room. She told him to wait there while she intervened. In the meantime Charlie had an accident and peed all over the floor. At which point he decided it would be a good idea to dance in the puddle in his new tennis shoes. When she returned, she found Charlie happily covered in pee from the waist down.

She had just finished peeling off his socks, shoes, pants, and underwear when the fire alarm went off. Since he didn't have any shoes on, she plopped him into a baby bed with some other infants who were being wheeled out to save wear and tear on his bare feet. My mom (who is a teacher in the daycare) said he stood up in that bed, held on to the side, and proudly displayed his naked butt, much to the delight of the students who walked past.

It was the big event of Charlie's day, his naked fire drill, and as soon as Jeff walked in the door he had to report it to him. Here is Charlie's version of events:

"Daddy! Charlie didn't have pants on in the fire drill 'cause Grandma wanted it that way!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Enough is Enough

For the second time in two weeks, I am in bed with a wicked stomach bug. Yesterday at school I was exhausted in the morning, and felt a bit like my extremities were not attached to my body. By lunchtime I knew I had a fever, and was feeling nauseous. I started throwing up shortly there after. Somehow I made it through the school day.

I actually thought I was feeling a bit better until 8:00 hit, when the vomiting became continuous and I couldn't leave the bathroom. I can't explain to you how badly my stomach hurt. Around 4:00 in the morning, I threw up so violently it came out my nose, I hit my head on the toilet, and I knocked myself out. This was apparently the ticket to feeling a bit better, as when I came to, my stomach felt still enough for me to crawl to the bed and heave myself over the side. I was finally able to sleep around 6 this morning, and I slept until 4:30 this afternoon. I am feeling weak, but much better. Anything would be better than last night.

So, sorry for the TMI, but I always feel better after complaining. Don't you? It makes my suffering feel validated somehow.

I can't believe how sick my family and I have been the last two weeks, and that it is only mid October. I hope this isn't an indication of how bad cold and flu season will be. Maybe we've already been through the worst of it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Poor Lefty

Yesterday evening the boys and I sat down at the kitchen table to make our annual grandparent's Christmas present. We always color pictures which we send off to the "magic factory", (aka Makit Projects) where it is turned into a plate. Evan and Charlie were able to work more or less on their own, but I had Sam on my lap to help him color his picture, and not the table.

I was helping him to hold the marker in his right hand while we worked. Sammy kept trying his hardest to grab it with his left. I thought he was trying to take the marker cap off to chew on. We struggled along like this for about 10 minutes, both of us getting more and more frustrated, when it dawned on me. My kid is a lefty. Which I've known for awhile, but it didn't even occur to me to let him color with his left hand. As soon as I put the marker in the other hand, he sighed happily and got busy.

Poor kid has a door knob for a mother.

Baby Shower

In November, my sister and I are throwing a baby shower for my cousin and his wife. I love showers, but sometimes I feel like I am not so great at coming up with cute games or ideas.

Anyone have some good ideas for me? I know you are more creative than me!!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How do you know it's time for this election to end?

The boys and I were snuggling on the couch tonight watching Extreme Home Makeover, when a political commercial came on. Sammy looked at the TV and said, "Oh look! Obama!"

My kid, who isn't even two, can identify the political opponents.

I think it's a sign. Let's get this election over with and move on!!

Pumpkin Patch

We celebrated fall on Saturday morning with a trip to the pumpkin patch. This year we went to th Big Red Barn and Pumpkin Farm, and we LOVED it. Less expensive, less crowds, very kid friendly.

The highlight was the pony rides for both Charlie and Sammy. Here is Charlie:



They also of course loved picking out their "punkins". Sammy loved each and every one he saw and wanted to take them all home, including the one filled with ants.



Sammy also loved diving head first into the corn bin. We found out this is NOT a good idea for a kid with asthma, but I think Sammy thought it was worth it.



I love fall!! The kids had a great time, and so did we!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Evan is a Big Guy

A few of the men on my dad's side of the family regularly go camping with each other to have "guy time". Which I hear is always better when it's in the woods and involves tents and campfire.

Since Evan is turning 10 in 10 days, he was invited to join them this weekend for two nights and two days of manly camping. I feel a little bit like he is going through a ritual to officially become one of "the guys".

Which makes me a little bit weepy. It seems like yesterday that I was rocking him to sleep.

Sigh.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sam I Am

Sam's latest favorite book is "Green Eggs and Ham" which of course features the famous character Sam I Am. It warms my heart that he loves this book, as it was the first book I learned to read, and as a 1st grade teacher I am required to love Dr. Suess. When I was pregnant with Sammy, I really wanted to do the nursery in a Green Eggs and Ham, Sam I Am theme, but since he shares a room with Charlie I resisted the urge.

I love reading it to him, because every time you turn the page he points to Sam and shouts "SAM!!! IT'S SAM!!" You can tell he just delights in hearing his name in the story. It is SO cute. Charlie has heard it so much this week, he is starting to recite it with us when we read. And how great is that? Dr. Suess was a genius.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How Embarrassing!

As most of you know, I am crazy and start listening to Christmas carols on October 1st. On the way home tonight, one of my all time favorites came on. I love "We Three Kings" by Barenaked Ladies, on their "A Winters Night" album.

Evan and I were singing along (in harmony!!) at the top of our lungs, when Evan asked, "Who sings this song?"

"Barenaked Ladies."

"Mom! Stop trying to embarrass me!! That's awful! Tell me who really sings it."

"No really. It's by Barenaked Ladies!" Suddenly this conversation is getting pretty embarrassing for me too.

Evan, who is cringing about nakedness in a way that only a 10 year boy can, checks the display on the iPod. When he sees it really IS BNL, he says "Why the HECK would you name your band that? I bet people can hardly stand to talk about them."

Suddenly, I can't either.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I Mean Really

Obviously the Universe did not read my blog post yesterday when I begged for normalcy at our house.

Tonight during dinner, Charlie was trying to adjust himself in his seat, and didn't realize how close to the edge of the bench he was. One second he was there, and the next he wasn't!! He fell right over the edge, and on his way down, smacked (hard) his chin on the corner of the wooden bench. As soon as I looked at it, I knew he needed stitches. It wasn't especially wide, but it was really deep.

My mom flew over as quick as you can say worried grandma to watch Sam and Evan, and then Charlie and I went to Children's Urgent care. Charlie was a star patient, which was the bright side. He did not make a peep throughout the entire experience. Even while strapped to the papoose board with all of his face but his chin covered by a blanket, he didn't cry, or wiggle, or protest in any way.

The funny part was that when it was all over, and they offered him a prize from the chest for being such a big, brave boy, he didn't want anything to do with it. It was like he was thinking, "I have had enough of you weirdo people and your strange ideas. You can keep your stuffed animal!"

So for the next 7 days we have to keep the stitches clean and dry. Two words that don't really apply to boys, so that should really be enjoyable.

I am not even going to jinx myself today by asking for a normal, calm day tomorrow.

Monday, October 06, 2008

And the fun just keeps coming!

Evan started having diarrhea at 4:30 this morning, Charlie started at school today at about 2:30. At 4:45, Charlie puked all over the living room carpet.

All I have to say is that I thank God for our Bissell carpet cleaner. It has truly saved my carpet the last four days.

I am about done with excitement now, Universe. Please stop sending surprises my way. I can't handle anything else today.

I am off to find a large glass of wine, and a big comfy couch.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

In Which I Chatise Myself

I have a confession to make. I am hoping if I make it publicly it will spur me to action. I am not usually a procrastinator, but I am doing a seriously good job of it in relation to my portfolio I am supposed to be working on. I am working for my National Board certification for teachers, and it is due in March. I realize that's not tomorrow, but I have a lot of work to do on it. I need to get my act together. At the beginning of the school year, I put it aside for a bit to get some major projects for school out of the way. And then...I never went back to it. To tell you the truth, I am more than a little sick of it.

So, in order to get it out of the way so it won't be hanging over my head any longer than necessary, I am announcing to you, dear readers, that I WILL get it done by December 31st. Done meaning complete and in the mail. I don't want to have to think and worry about it anymore.

So feel free to bug me about it, kay?

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