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.

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