Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Party

We had a grand old time last night at our house. I had my grandma, 14 of my 15 cousins and their families, my parents, and my aunts and uncles over to celebrate the holidays. Good times were had by all. It was nice to talk with everyone, especially since this is the only time I may see some of them this year.

We even had a visit from the Sheriff (that hasn't happened at a party that I hosted for a GOOD long time, let me tell you...at least it wasn't for rowdiness!!) One of the guests parked on the street, which made travel down our snow packed, dumb one lane roads tricky, so one of our more friendly neighbors called the sheriff's office. Didn't even bother to come talk to us first!! I may or may not have told the sheriff that this wouldn't have been a problem if the streets were plowed a bit better. *cough*

I made this pie:



And it was delicious, if I do say so myself!

My handsome brother Creighton, and his lovely lady Lindsey were there. I love this girl. I hope Creighton makes her an official member of the family very soon. That was just a subtle suggestion, dear brother.



This is me with my mother (in red) and my Grandma Rose (in black-I am named after her!). God gave all of us the exact same face, so I am relatively sure of how I will look at 57 and 88.



And this is Grandma Rose with 14 of her 15 grandchildren. Of the 15, only 3 of us are girls. There are WAY TOO MANY BOYS at our family gatherings. Also? All of those boys are VERY VERY TALL. Just look at them...



Too bad the three tallest are seated. They are all over 6 foot 6. No kidding!

This is me with my best cousin pal growing up, Jeremy. He and I are the oldest grandkids, and we kept everyone in line when we were younger. Which is a nice way to say, we were very very bossy. And of course, I am not bossy anymore. Oh no! (Jeff is laughing because he knows the truth!)



We had lots of good food, including a monster 14 pound ham I baked. Somehow, we planned the food very well, and there was plenty, but not gobs of leftovers. Which is nice for my waistline.



The only downside to having a party in December in Nebraska is this:



A pile of shoes at the door, all of which are coated with a thick layer of sand and ice melt. Makes for fun cleaning times in the morning!! But it was worth every grain of sand. I wish Christmas came more than once a year so that we could see more of these wonderful people.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Blizzard 2009

Christmas was a wild ride around here, due to the 15 inches of snow we received from Christmas Eve through Saturday night. Jeff's family Christmas celebration was canceled entirely, and the one I am hosting has been rescheduled to tomorrow. In preparing for the 40 people who will show up at my door tomorrow needing a place to park, I called the Douglas County engineer, and begged them to plow more than one lane through each street in our neighborhood. They did come and plow for quite awhile this afternoon, and I think it is the best it can get, but there is just so much snow and nowhere to put it. Parking will still be dicey. We have received 22 inches of snow in December here in Omaha, and it is all still on the ground. To illustrate:



This is the back of our neighbor's house. As you can see their back door is almost completely covered with snow.

I feel that we have been transported to Alaska.

I would like to go home now.

Normally, I enjoy winter and a good snow. Now? I AM SO.SO.SO.SICK OF IT!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Christmas in Pictures


Evan teaching his brothers how to use their new Leapsters on Christmas morning. (This is by FAR Charlie's favorite gift!!)


My big boy Evan on Christmas morning, enjoying one of his many new DS games.


Charlie next to his haul from Santa.


Sammy got this football uniform and helmet from my Mom on Christmas Eve. He loved it so much he wore it to bed that night, and insisted on opening most of his presents Christmas morning with his helmet on.


Our tree after Santa arrived.


Evan's big present this year...a new bike!! He was thrilled! Too bad he can't ride it in all this snow.


Sam in his new uniform on Christmas Eve. I will never forget his excited gasp as he opened his present. He had to put it on RIGHT.AWAY.


Jeff and my Dad


The table at my Mom's house-delicious lasagne!!!


My handsome three dressed up for Christmas Eve services!


Have you heard of The Elf on the Shelf? (If not check it out at Amazon-great tradition to start with your kids!) We started this this year at the suggestion of my sister. The kids named ours Santa Elf. We were sad to send him back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Once again, I am up before the rest of my family this Christmas morning. Not sure why this is an annual occurrence, but I think it has something to do with how much I enjoy creating a wonderful Christmas morning for my kids.

It is a bona fide blizzard here in Omaha. It wasn't snowing yet yesterday when we decided to leave for Christmas Eve services. The weather people were initially calling for just a couple of inches to fall by 6 o'clock, so we thought we could make it to church and to my parent's house for our annual Christmas Eve celebration.

Church started at 4:00 (and I am, so , so glad we got to hear Evan's choir sing. They were beautiful!) but by the time we walked out at 5 we were stunned at the amount of snow that had already fallen and was drifting against the cars. We decided to head over to my Mom's anyway, and I am glad for all of us that we did. It was nice to be with family. It just doesn't seem like a holiday if you can't do the same traditions you have every year.

We left my Mom's house at 9:00, and I was really worried we might not get back. The snow was coming down hard, and the blowing and drifting was awful. We actually live outside the city and have to depend on county snow plows, which often seem to be MIA. The county streets were AWFUL. Completely snow packed. Thanks to the help of the good Lord, we got to our own driveway where we finally got stuck in about 8 inches of snow. I had to get out and shovel the tires out, and then push the van the rest of the way into the garage, but we made it!!!

Now I am eagerly awaiting my kids to wake up so I can have a cup of coffee and enjoy my family while the snow still swirls around us. (That's right! It's still blizzarding, and is not scheduled to stop until tomorrow morning!)

The only bad thing? I don't think Santa brought me that snow blower I asked for.

Merry Christmas everyone!!! Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The 23rd

December 23rd is so bitter sweet.

So much excitement over the events of the next two days, but sad to see the season coming to a close. This is truly my favorite time of the year, especially with my boys, and I am so sad to see it coming to a close.

This is the year that Charlie and Sammy are 3 for Christmas, and everything is magic for them. They are anxiously awaiting Santa's arrival, services at church, and going to Grandma's house. I love watching everything through their eyes.

Evan, despite being 11, is just as excited. I love that he is helping me to pass traditions on to his little brothers.

We are forecast to get over a foot of snow Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, but I think we will at least be able to sneak in church and my mom's house on Christmas Eve before things get too bad. And then we will snuggle down in our warm winter beds and wait for reindeer hooves to sound overhead. I've bought steak for a special Christmas Day dinner, and we will celebrate snow bound with our own little family.

I hope all of you have a very blessed Christmas, and that you are safe, warm, loved, and surrounded by family.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stupid Snow and Other News

I am really disgusted with the weather report in these parts.

We are under a Winter Storm Watch from Tuesday night until Thursday evening. We are supposed to get up to 1/2 inch of ice first, and then heavy snows. At this point, it is not looking good for us to get to church on Christmas Eve for Evan's choir to sing, to be with my parents on Christmas Eve, or to drive up to Harlan on Christmas Day to be with Jeff's family. All the special events I have been looking forward to may be canceled. I am praying the storm misses us, but we will see. I am headed to the grocery store tomorrow to pick up some supplies for a Christmas dinner in case we are snow bound.

I am also disgusted with my body.

I went into the doctor today for my regular 6 month check up on my cholesterol, and I learned that while my HDL (good cholesterol) did increase into the normal range for the first time ever, my LDL (bad cholesterol) increased 55 points. To be at the highest end of normal I need it to go down 60 points. All this while on lots of medication, diet, exercise. I asked both my doctor and my Dad (who also has cholesterol problems) if they had any advice. They both said the same thing.

Get new parents.

Since it is too late for that, the doctor has added yet another medication to my repretoire. Thank God for health care reform because we will soon not be able to afford our pharmacy bill!

Evan was tested for both anemia and mono today to try and track down the cause of some strange symptoms he has been having lately including extreme thirst, exhaustion, and diarrhea. No results on his blood work yet, but I am hopeful we will get some answers.

I am trying to be positive today, but it was not a good start to our holiday week. Maybe some present wrapping tonight will help.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Stress

I am not usually a person who feels a lot of stress during the holidays. It is really and truly my favorite time of the year, especially after my children came along. I love the lights, the decorating, the baking, the events, and the shopping.

This year? Different story.

Remember that blizzard a couple of weeks ago? It was a lovely three days of being snow bound at home with my family. I loved snuggling on the couch and taking a break from life. But taking a break in December means that you are creating a pile up of chores to accomplish during an already very busy time.

Three days last week had me going, going, and going some more until 10:00 every night, hardly sitting down the entire time. So, last Wednesday, I took a personal day from work. I never do this. Usually I save my days and use them as sick days when I have to be caring for sick little ones. I am so glad I indulged myself this year with time. I finished my shopping. I ran errands. I went to the doctor. I wrapped gifts for three hours.

I was by no means done with my holiday chores when the day was done, but I felt so much more in control. I may make this an annual tradition. Sometimes Moms just need time to do some uninterrupted work.

On Thursday, I did something else I have never ever indulged in.

A cleaning lady.

I have always felt that the cleaning is something that I can easily and cheaply do myself. And most of the time? It is. I also feel like it is part of my duty as wife and mom to my family; to make our home a clean and organized space. Maybe it sounds silly, but it is truly something I think God wants me to do to minister to my family. But since I was drowning in chores and jobs this month, I thought...just this once.

Heaven is coming home after working all day to a house that smells fresh and clean. Every surface was shining, the appliances were gleaming, the beds were all made, and it was so beautiful I almost felt like we were in someone else's house. (Which perhaps says something about my cleaning abilities). Evan walked into his room and breathed a reverent "Wow Mom! This is AWESOME." The only downside? It was so clean, I didn't want the children to move or touch anything. Ever again.

I have had such a great weekend as a result. Since everything is clean, I have been able to get to other chores that have long been residing on my to do list. I feel energized by having a fresh start. So while I can't justify it being a regular occurrence, maybe I was wrong about the just this once part.

I am feeling better about Christmas being in 5 days. And I am over feeling guilty for helping myself out. I guess I'm not Super Mom after all, but that's okay.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

This Isn't Funny Anymore!

My muscles are SCREAMING! Yesterday, after my last post, we got around 6-7 more inches of snow, and then the blizzard force winds took over during most of the night. When we awoke, we found a waist high drift blocking our front door, 18 inch high drifts over most of the driveway, and a HUGE 4 foot drift blocking the garage.

The bad news?

We don't own a snow blower.

Jeff and I worked our butts off for two hours this afternoon, once the winds finally stopped blowing. Have you ever exercised so much you felt sick? I felt that way after the first time I worked out with my personal trainer. And then again today. We didn't even start on the sidewalks or the front stoop/door, and still when I came in I felt nauseous and achy. Thank the Lord our neighbor let us borrow their snow blower for the drifts by the garage, but even then we had to shovel off the top layer of snow because it was too deep for the blower to handle. Our neighborhood still hasn't been plowed, so we are stuck. Cabin fever is starting to set in along with the muscle aches.

We have another snow day tomorrow (3 in a row is unheard of!) and so the upside of this whole thing is that all of my laundry is ahead of schedule.

Some holiday panic is starting to set in...I was supposed to have a personal day on Tuesday to get some holiday shopping done. As a result, I have only about 1/4 of my holiday shopping done! We're cutting it down to the wire this year...EEK! Hopefully my muscles will be able to move again by the weekend, so I can get some of this DONE!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Blizzard!

In the wee early hours of Monday morning, it snowed 2.5 inches here. It was just enough to make everything look festive, and to make driving a bit tricky. We still had school on Monday though, and the kids were full of snow excitement.

Monday night, the snow started coming down thicker and faster. By the time we woke this morning, our driveway had a fresh 3 inches on it, and school had been cancelled. So, we spent the day snuggling on the couch and watching movies.



Even the cat.

We went outside to shovel and play around 11 o'clock. The driveway was now covered with about 6 inches, so I put a shovel in everyone's hands. Evan is getting to be pretty good, but lets just say Charlie and Sammy were *not* very helpful. The boys had a great time zooming down the slide in the backyard to land in the huge pile of soft, new fallen snow underneath. We were very chilly when we came back in, but it was nothing a good hot bowl of mac 'n cheese couldn't handle.

After lunch we all got down to the business of napping under our electric blankets, and when we awoke, this is what it looked like outside:



Snow, snow, and more snow-still falling quickly in thick, busy flakes. And this is my driveway, only 3 hours after I shoveled it:



Can't even tell we were out there, can you? And even though it is only 4:00 in the afternoon, school has already been canceled for tomorrow as a result of the blizzard warning which will take effect at 9 PM. That's right-the snow is expected to start falling in even heavier amounts. I may give up on the whole shoveling thing until this is over.

Thank the Lord Jeff was able to work from home today, so I didn't have to spend any of my delicious day worrying over his safety.

I think tomorrow I am going to lay in another batch of sugar cookies and make the boys help me decorate. One of the best parts of being a teacher? SNOW DAYS!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Cookies Galore

It's been a sugar filled weekend around here. My Mom, sister Sarah, Aunt Connie, and I all got together on Saturday and baked, and baked, and baked. For 9 1/2 hours we baked. Until cookies were coming out of our eyes and ears! We made sugar cookies, peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies, a candy we call Ella balls, peppermint cookies, turtles, and chocolate peanut clusters. And now our freezers are stuffed with Christmas goodies for our families and our children's teachers, and our Christmas guests.

It is soooo much work, and my feet and hips hurt today, but it is lovely to see everyone, drink coffee, and munch a broken cookie here and there. To be truthful, it is a task that tries my patience. I don't mind making one batch at a time. I really do love to bake. But I do like tasks that take a small amount of time and then are done, so I feel a sense of accomplishment. Being with the women in my family makes up for the never ending work though. As you know, I don't have nearly enough estrogen in my life, so a big dose like this is great.

We were sad that this year my Aunt Julie and Grandma weren't able to join us though. Grandma went back into the hospital for the third time in less than a month, and Julie toughed out the whole day with her, getting her seen in the ER and eventually admitted. To top off her bad day, Julie's car wouldn't start when she finally went to leave the hospital for the day. I hope the huge pile of cookies waiting for her at home made up for it a little bit. We missed both of them bunches.

My kids also got to play with their cousins while we baked. Some of my favorite memories as a child are of playing with my cousins, especially during the holidays. I love seeing my own kids develop that same relationship with their cousins. Although wan't it just yesterday that I was their age?!

I hope that all of you have a chance to do some of your favorite holiday traditions this year!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Seeing God in the Little Things

Today Rachel Anne over at Home Sanctuary asked the Company Girls:
How is God working in YOUR life? Do you sometimes miss the quiet presence of our amazing God in the hustle and bustle of life?

(I have been reading her blog for a long while now...I love her inspiration and advice, and the motivation to get things done around my home-but this is the first time I have participated in the monthly point challenge and the weekly company coffee!! I'm very excited!)

The thing I am really loving about this holiday season is that I have had the chance to see and feel God through my children. We have made time this week to pick out a holiday movie or book every day after bathtime, and then we all pile onto the couch (even the cat!), turn out all the lights except the Christmas tree, and snuggle in together. While my children enjoy Rudolph and the Grinch, I have loved having time to just stare at their beautiful faces, full of holiday wonder. I have had the chance to kiss their sweet cheeks and smell their freshly washed hair. I have been so thankful for God giving me the honor of raising these children, and the joy of being the mother in this family. I love where I am in my life, especially with my family, and I am SO thankful that the holiday season has provided me with the chance to stop and really experience that joy.

I hope that all of you have the chance this holiday season to love on your family, and to reflect on the blessings on your life. It's one of the best gifts of all.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Boys!

My preschoolers kept their teachers on their toes today.

This morning, after only 30 minutes at school, Sammy tripped while running in the gym and split his chin open. We were sure he was going to need stitches, as it was a pretty long cut, so my Mom (who works at the daycare at my school) headed off to the ER with Sammy in tow. Sammy was really impressed to be presented with a mask that made him look just like a doctor, to be asked to sit and watch Disney channel cartoons for an hour, and to be given some markers to color with. Luckily the doctor decided glue would be good enough to seal the cut, so no stitches were needed. On the way back to school Sammy asked my Mom if he was ever going to get to eat breakfast, since he had been whisked off to the hospital before breakfast was served at school. To top off his fun morning, Grandma took him to breakfast at Burger King. He was thoroughly impressed with his royal treatment. This was another one of those times when I thank my lucky stars that my mom works at the same school I do.

Charlie is lucky to be in one piece this evening. His class was on a walk to the nursing home across the street from school this morning when he dashed across the street-RIGHT in front of an oncoming car. He teacher reported it was the scariest thing she has seen in 20 years of teaching preschool. I wanted to yell at him and smother him in kisses all at the same time. He spent some time in his room tonight while the rest of us watched our nightly Christmas movie, and we said a BIG prayer of thanks to his guardian angel.

Needless to say, my boys will all be getting crash helmets for Christmas.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amazing Weekend

We have had a wonderful few days around these parts. We did home repair on Wednesday, and knocked a couple of to do items off our to do list. Our fireplace is now functioning for the first time in a year (thanks in part to the removal of a family of mice, but that is a whole other post), and we have new outdoor light fixtures.


Decorations courtesy of Charlie and Sammy

Thursday was a double celebration for us, as we also celebrated my baby turning 3. Which should be impossible, as Sam was just born yesterday. The party was at Casa de la Kleffman this year, which I loved, as I love to cook big dinners. The turkey turned out great, thanks to whatever they do at the Butterball factory, and my sister brought an AMAZING gourmet mac 'n cheese recipe, which my hips thoroughly enjoyed. I vote for it to become a Thanksgiving tradition.



After the dishes were done, we had birthday cake in addition to our pie and pumpkin crumble cake. Isn't this 3 year old boy as delicious as the turkey?



Sammy had a blast celebrating with his cousins. I love that this bunch is the best of buds...



Sammy's favorite present was a Spider man costume from my sister, and he has worn it every night since. In fact, he insists on wearing it to bed. I have had to sneak it into the wash.



On Friday I went to Target for the Black Friday experience with the awesome Christi, and I scored a few deals. The best part though was breakfast at Summer Kitchen afterwards. Have you noticed yet how much I've eaten this weekend?! SO MUCH FOOD!

Friday was the actual day of Sammy's birthday, so I wanted to do something fun to make it special for him. So, after some encouragement that I could handle it from my sister and Christi, we went to a Christmas tree farm. You see, we have had an artificial tree for 14 years now, ever since I moved into my first apartment in college. I grew up having real trees for Christmas with my parents, but once I was on my own, I was completely intimidated by the tree stand. You know that thing the man in the family has to fiddle with for three hours, and then even after that the tree is still crooked, and then a day later the tree falls down anyway? After hearing the farm we went too has a special "Marriage Saving Tree Stand" they sell to make it easy, I braved my fears to help Sam have a special day. We got on a hay ride and rode out to the tree field, picked out our own special tree, and got to see it cut down (this part made Sam sad-he was sure the tree wasn't liking this!) Charlie loved the free hot chocolate they offered and the machine that shook the trees to get the dead needles off. It's a good thing Evan talked me into the tree we got, because this one almost reaches the ceiling, and the one I wanted was even taller.



We all had fun decorating, and I have to admit, this tree looks and smells SOOO much better than our artificial one.



And the tree stand was a breeze. I think we will be making a return trip next year. When we had decked the inside and outside of our halls, we celebrated with a viewing of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, our new Christmas video.

We've had such a fabulous weekend, I am not sure I am ready to go back to work tomorrow. We are ready for Advent and the Christmas season though. I LOVE this time of year!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beyond stuffed...

My friends, I hope you had a wonderful day.
The turkey turned out beautifully at my house.
My father in law told me it was the BEST turkey he's ever eaten.
Is there a better compliment than that?

Sammy had fun with cousins and ate lots of birthday cake.
He blew out the candle on the second try.
Presents were opened and Spider Man costumes were worn.

I loved seeing my family.
We drank champagne to celebrate my new NBTC status.
My fridge is now stuffed with leftovers,
and we have lots to eat while watching football tomorrow.

But there is a bad ending.
Within the last two hours I have come down with what I am pretty sure is strep.
Bleh.

I guess you can't have everything.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to stop in quickly and wish all of you a wonderful holiday tomorrow. I hope you are surrounded by family and friends, and between mouthfuls of turkey and pie, you have a chance to be thankful for your blessings. I have plans to kiss all of my blessings tomorrow. All four of those wonderful boys are getting a big smacking kiss.

We will also be wishing Sammy a Happy 3rd Birthday. I can't believe my biggest surprise in life is going to be 3. I love him to pieces. Every bit of him.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm so excited! And I just can't hide it!!

I love this week, every year. I love the break from school. I love making the dinner (I have 15 people coming for our Thanksgiving feast, and I couldn't be happier!) I love being encouraged to take a moment to look around at all of my blessings. I love going shopping on Friday and fighting the crowds. I love that Sammy's birthday is always right around Thanksgiving, and I will always remember that I went into labor after eating a lot of turkey leftovers, sitting on the couch next to my husband. (Right after the first hard contraction came, I could only think, "I really shouldn't have eaten all that turkey.") I love decorating the tree and the house and listening to Christmas music.

But most of all, I love that we are poised right at the beginning of the most magical time of year. All of that anticipation, excitement, and fun events still ahead.

I can't wait!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Moon Heaven

I am a HUGE fan of the Twilight series. Today I got to feed my obsession by seeing the New Moon movie (and eat nachos with cheese...AWESOME!). It was so, SO, SO good. I loved it even more than Twilight. I always felt strongly that Bella should have chosen Jacob, and I love the line her father says in the movie, "Sometimes you have to learn to love what's good for you." A lesson I learned the hard way several times over. Anywho, I love that Jacob was the featured guy in this movie.

I got to go with my friend Christi, which made it even more awesome. I love girlfriend time. It's been awhile since I've gotten to see her, so I had some volcano of the mouth issues as I gushed all of my news to her. Being with Christi is like soaking up sunshine. NO KIDDING! I feel so cheery and positive after I have spent an hour or two with her, which is why I am going to brave the crowds with her on Black Friday. And then we are going to have breakfast afterwards so I can gush at her some more. I love that she still likes me even though I can't stop talking when I am around her.

I am topping off my great day with family movie night. The boys picked Rudolph, which I thought was a fabulous choice, since I could watch Christmas movies all year long.

Happy Weekend to you!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kiss Your Brain!

I am just so excited today-I have really and truly been on cloud nine for the last 14 hours. At 8:30 this morning, I found out that I passed all of my requirements, and I am now officially a Nationally Board Certified teacher. It took me 18 months of blood, sweat, tears, and more tears, but I did it. I was so convinced I would fail. I found out on Wednesday that the board would be releasing the scores on Friday morning, and I didn't tell one single soul that I would be finding out, because I was dreading telling everyone I didn't make it.

So, when it popped up on my computer at school this morning, I screamed in surprise and happiness, and scared the ever living daylights out of my quietly working students. When they asked what the matter was, I told them all about it, and one of my little girls said, "Mrs. Kleffman, you are so smart, and we are so proud of you! You need to Kiss Your Brain!" (This is what I make them do when they have a particularly fabulous answer or solve a problem). Which was so sweet, and I was so emotional, I burst into tears. To have my students be proud of me? What could be better?

I have been teary on and off all day. Mostly because I did this whole thing to prove to myself that I could, to walk outside of my comfort zone, and to show myself that even though I am now a wife and mother I am also still Christy the girl who loves to teach. To have those things reaffirmed to me was awesome. I have been saying prayers of thanksgiving all day long. Thanking God for my gifts, because without him, I would not be a teacher. I am thankful for the mission God gave me in life. To help kids, whether they are my own or mine through my classroom.

THANK YOU GOD!

I am going to spend the rest of the weekend Kissing My Brain, because darn it, I am PROUD OF ME!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Happy 100th

We are headed out tonight to celebrate my Grandpa Creighton's 100th birthday.

He actually died in 1991. I was 13 when he died, and his death was hard. I missed his guiding presence at family get togethers, at my annual birthday celebration with my grandparents, and being able to see him with my Grandma Sophie. Sophie and Creighton were married for over 50 years before he died, and I remember them shining with love for each other when they were together, even when they were in their 80s. They provided 10 children and numerous grandchildren a powerful example of a loving marriage.

Too celebrate a wonderful man, his children are getting together tonight with fun, food, and football. I love that we are still loving him, and thinking of him almost 20 years after his death. It is a great way to pass on to my own children our memories of a man they will not have the chance to meet. I love that he continues on through us.

When my Grandma Sophie died in 1993, one of the last things she said to her children was a request that they still get together, still have holiday parties, still see each other often after their parents had both gone. She would be so proud to see them gathered today. I am proud of them too, and proud to be part of a family that loves each other always.

Happy Birthday Grandpa Creighton!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Germs Germs Germs

I was excited on Monday to be able to have a normal week with healthy children and 5 days of school to catch up on things at work.

The germs attacking my family had other plans. They decided our week with H1N1 and high fevers last week was not nearly enough fun!

So today, when Charlie woke up from his nap, he had a fever of 104 again. Awesome!

Back to the doctor we went, where we discovered he had a raging case of strep. His pediatrician said it was one of the worst he has seen he has seen in a long time, probably because his immune system was in poor shape after his bout with the flu.

I am back to sanitizing the house, even though I just went through this ritual over the weekend. I just don't want ANY MORE SICKNESS. Does everyone hear me?! I AM DONE WITH THESE GERMS. Amen, The end.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We got a head start to the season of being thankful on Saturday, when we were all extremely thankful that everyone was healthy enough to go trick or treating. I was really worried Sam wouldn't make it, but after one more day of laying low, he was up for the job of being adorable in his Clifford costume. He didn't really make it too far around the neighborhood before he got tired, but it was far enough for there to be way too much candy at our house.



Charlie was a very spooky spider (even though he only had six legs-oops!)



Sammy as Clifford the Big Red Dog-don't you love his floppy ears?



And Evan as the spooky goon. As soon as Evan put his costume on, Sammy refused to call him Evan and instead said things like, "Mom! The Goon won't hold my hand!" and "Hey Goon! Wait for me!" It was hilarious how seriously he took the whole costume thing.



This was taken roughly 30 seconds after we got back in the door. Sammy made a bee line for the couch to pick out all of his packages of "starwars" (aka Starbursts) from his bucket, and eat them as fast as he could unwrap them. Apparently this is his new favorite candy.

SO glad we had a succesful and happy Halloween!! Hope you did too, and that you had lots of candy to enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fluish Woes

We are all sick and tired around these parts.
Charlie came down with H1N1 on Monday night, and Sammy joined his brother in the high fever wracking cough department in the wee early hours of Thursday morning. This bug is wretched. Sammy's fever was 104.2 at it's highest point, and that just scares the poop out of me. This morning he came into our room at about 6:00, breathing like an old man with emphysema, and he said "Mommy, I just can't breathe!" Which also scares the poop out of me.

So, we've been downing tamiflu and ibuprofen, and taking regular breathing treatments in an effort to get well quickly. Charlie missed the Halloween party and trick or treating fun at preschool, and now I am worried Sammy won't be able to breathe well enough to go trick or treating tomorrow. And is there anything worse than being an almost 3 year old whose mother has told you that you can't go trick or treating?

Evan is not speaking to me this morning after having to reschedule his birthday party for the second time due to germs. He is so incredibly disappointed, but what else can you do? Stupid flu!

The bright spot in all of this is that I got to see my wonderful father in law in action. He called us Tuesday night and told he was coming down one day this week to watch the sick kiddos so that we could work. Bless him! He came in armed with a cooler full of soup and orange juice, and it meant the world to me. The kids are all in love with him. One of the nicest Grandpas I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I am so glad my kids can call him their own.

I hope all of you are having a much better Halloween week than we are!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Today Was a Good Day

Today I got to work with 29 smart, quirky, full of life, energetic 1st graders.

I got to kiss my children awake. I got to watch Charlie and Sammy run with delight on their faces into their preschool classroom which had been transformed into a "spooky house" (preschoolease for Haunted House).

I got to cook dinner for my family, and help my Evo with his homework.

I did many of these things in a home we are blessed to have.

My husband is home from a week in Las Vegas. I was lucky enough to greet this adorable man at the door (in my adorable apron I might add-very June Cleaver!). Is there anything better than being married to your very best friend? I love him to pieces, but especially after he is home from a trip.

I read a good night story and said prayers with my little ones, and had a nice talk with Evan.

I am right now snuggled up on the couch enjoying Monday night football with my gorgeous Mr. Kleffman.

I am so, so, so very lucky. I am so glad I took small moments today to soak it all in. Thank you God, for my many blessings.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And Now He is Eleven!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful 11 year old Evan!

He turned 11 at exactly 2:13 AM. I told him in his birthday card that his birthday always reminds me of what a gift he is to me.

Eleven years ago, as a newly single woman and a single Mom, I should have been terrified at the prospect of raising a child on my own and having two years of college left to finish on top of it. But instead, I was absolutely IN LOVE with my new little man. He was instantly attached to me, and cried whenever I put him down, even when he was only hours old, so I spent the good majority of those first 6 weeks staring into his beautiful face. Having Evan to fight for made the hard work of those first years worth it. Whenever I felt tired, or like I might not make it to my goal of finishing college, I would just need to look at him to find strength.

And now, when our life is much more stable, I am finding new reasons to look at him and find more strength and patience. I know he is not officially a teenager, but boy howdy does the age of 11 bring hormones, mood swings, and tempers. If I had a dollar for every time the phrase "You just don't love me!" or "You are SOOO not fair Mom!" came out of his mouth, I could retire early. And when I am ready to pull my hair out at the complete craziness of his 'tween logic and view on life, I make myself look into his beautiful brown eyes and remember what a gift he is. And sometimes, when I am really in need of patience, I look into his face and remember the tiny little baby that arrived on October 20, 1998 . I see the little one who brought magic to my heart.

Happy Birthday Evan! I hope the next year goes very slowly, because I am not ready for you to grow up.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Update on GG

My Grandma is still in the hospital today. They have been working hard to get her lungs free of fluid, but it has been difficult because she is still in atrial fibrillation . They even used the paddles to try and "zap" her back into rhythm on Tuesday, and it only worked for about 5 minutes. The doctors have done many tests, and have discovered that she has calcification in her aorta and an enlarged right side of her heart (probably the cause for the irregular heart beat). They are beginning to think that she may have to remain in the atrial fib, and take blood thinners to reduce the chance of blood clots. One doctor even recommended open heart surgery for her in the future. While I want for her to be with us forever, and comfortable and healthy while she is, how much is too much intervention for an 88 year old woman?

It's so hard to watch loved ones be in pain. It is certainly taking a toll on my Mom and her sisters to watch their Mom go through this. I wish that growing older didn't have to be so messy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

She Hit the Nail on the Head

Go read cjane's post today. She hit the nail on the head, and said everything I have been trying to write here within the last couple of months. Only she did it much more eloquently.

In fact, cjane is one of the most eloquent ladies I know.

So! Go read. What she says is so true, and I am so there with her. Are you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

GG

My grandma, whom we affectionately refer to as GG Rosie, was admitted to the hospital today. She has lungs filled with fluid, and she is in atrial fibrillation.

I am so lucky to be 32 years old, and still have my Grandma here. I am doubly lucky to have this amazing woman as my grandmother and role model. I take the honor of bearing her name, Rose, as my middle name very seriously. I want to live up to the wonderful example of mother and wife that she set. (I really wish I had inherited her talent for having baby girls-she had 6!)

So, I am saying lots of prayers tonight, and sending her lots of love. She means the world to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall and...Snow?

On Friday night we went to a small, family run pumpkin patch. There is a HUGE patch here in Omaha that is more like am amusement park, which is fun but also super expensive. We were excited that our daycare (who planned the outing) chose this smaller, more family friendly venue.



I am in love with this picture. I know next to nothing about photography, and my camera is anything but fancy, but once in awhile a picture comes out that amazes me.

The weather was perfect. Temps were in the low 50s when we arrived, giving the air a fall crispness, and making it too cool for the bees to be much of a problem. The kids had fun checking out baby chicks:



Visiting the petting zoo:



getting their faces painted (Sam and Charlie both went with John Deere tractors, and Evan with a traditional pumpkin):



and riding horses:



Charlie and Sammy's favorite was the trike track where they sped around with their friends, pretending they were in the Indy 500. It was actually pretty momentous, as it was the first time both boys actually mustered the leg strength to actually pedal a bike, instead of doing a Flintstone push. As a result, we were forced to spend over an hour here so they could practice their new found talent.



For Evan and I, our favorite part was taking the hay rack ride and picking out our pumpkins. I got some great shots of the kids.






My Mom and Charlie:



Strangely enough, when we woke up the next morning, this is the scene that greeted us:



Yep. That's snow. On October 10th. We got roughly 4 inches of the stuff overnight. So Saturday morning as I processed our 30 pounds of apples, made homemade applesauce, and baked apple pie, my time clock was very off. It should have felt very much like fall between the pumpkin patch and the apples, but instead I felt like I should be pulling out the Christmas decorations. Very unsettling to have your seasons confused like that.

At least we got both trips in before it froze!!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Apple Orchard 2009

I love fall. I love the way it smells, the way it looks, and the way it feels. But most of all, I love all of the fun fall activities there are to do as a family. One of my favorite is our annual trip to the apple orchard.

We go to Ditmar's Orchard, right outside of Council Bluffs. This year, we had the pleasure of going with some of our favorite people: my friend Christi, and her two delicious children Alyssa and Joel. (Joel is one of my very handsome Godsons).





We rode a tractor up to the orchard, where the 5 kids got down to the serious business of selecting the best apples and finding the perfect tree.



My kids outdid themselves, and they picked 30 pounds of apples. The good part of that is that I had enough to give some to my Mom, and we will have plenty to turn into applesauce, apple pie, and apple butter. The bad part is that the bags became to heavy for Sam and Charlie to carry and I had to cart them around. Worth it for the apple desserts though, right? That's what I'm telling my aching arm muscles anyway.



We had lunch after all of our hard work. It's nice to see all of our kids together on outings. When I look at all of them together, it almost looks like they could be cousins. It must be all the blond hair and blues eyes!



It was a wonderful morning!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Laid Back

We are thrilled to have a laid back weekend ahead. It drives me nuts when I have to spend the whole weekend running from one place to another, cleaning, doing laundry, and catching up on the work I can't get done during the week. The worst part of going back to work in the fall is giving up our relaxed family time on the weekends.

I have some me time planned tomorrow, and I am going to have my hair done. There is nothing more relaxing to me than having someone do your hair. Evan and I are going to church just the two of us on Saturday, and just me and the boys are going out to breakfast on Sunday morning. I am promising myself to spend as much time as I can on Sunday hanging out with my kids. I am going to soak up their sweetness.

My Mom always had a plaque hanging in whichever room was the nursery at the time that had a saying on it that went like this:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
For children grow up, we've learned to our sorrow
So quiet down cobwebs
And dust go to sleep
I'm rocking my baby
And babies don't keep

I always pish poshed it in my mind as a child, back when time stretched on forever, and moved at a snail's pace. Now I feel time burning at my heels, and I want to bottle up my kids, keep them forever at a size where they will fit in my lap and in my arms. I wish I could make them stay an age where they will always let me plaster them with kisses.

I don't have forever, but I do have this weekend. And I am going to use it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Harry Connick Jr...Cutie Patutie And Singer Extraodinaire



Thanks to the wonderful ladies at the One2One Network I had the opportunity to listen to Harry Connick Jr.'s new CD, Your Songs. I will admit to you, because I know you won't laugh at me, that when the CD came in the mail, I had to look at the cover photos for a good 5 minutes before I could even put it in the CD player. Isn't Harry the most adorable? That face combined with that voice is just awesome.

We played Your Songs for the first time during dinner on Wednesday. I've been inspired by NieNie lately, and the way she exposes her children to so many wonderful types of music, so I have been making an effort to do the same. It's perfect music for dinner and relaxing. Evan remarked that he felt like we were at a fancy restaurant with Harry's lovely melodies playing in the background, and I had to admit, so did I. Remember my obsession with the TV show Dallas? I love how the family always had to dress for dinner, and how they always had cocktails first. I like to imagine my family doing the same, someday when the children are not inclined to come to the table with bugs clutched in their muddy fingers, or with kool-aid stains plastered around their mouths. I am going to add this CD as a soundtrack to my imaginings. Perfect cocktail before dinner music!

The songs on the CD are covers of several artist's hits. Harry includes everything from the Beatles "And I Love Her", The Carpenters "They Long to Be Close to You", Elvis' "Can't Help Falling in Love With You", and Frank Sinatra's "All the Way". This is my kind of music. The Carpenters and the Beatles are on my top 5 list for my favorite artists. I love Big Band, so the Sinatra and Nat King Cole selections had me swooning. I will admit though that these same songs also had my husband puking. He is a classic rock man at heart, and I could tell he was suffering through to make me happy. He is also a purist, and as a man who loves the Beatles and Elton John as themselves, I could tell it made him want to crawl under the carpet to hear someone else doing their songs.

The boys and I loved it though, and it made for some great dancing music, as I took my three most handsome boys for spins around the living room. Your Songs has already taken up residence in my iPod, and we have been listening to it daily ever since.

I love you Harry (just don't tell my husband)!!! Thanks for the great music.

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