Saturday, February 28, 2009

My Guardian Angel Deserves a Raise

On Thursday we had Service One come out to the house to do their annual furnace inspection and cleaning. The technician found some interesting things.

Since we were at work while he was here, he left his note about the work he did on the kitchen counter. Next to the note was a pile of 6 bottles of acrylic paint, 4 paint brushes, a battery, and a plastic ball. He noted that he dug all of these nifty items out of the BURNER COMPARTMENT of our furnace. Now, I don't know about you, but the words BURNER COMPARTMENT bring to mind images of fire. Probably not a good place to store your paint bottles, eh?

I was especially impressed when I noted that on the sides of the bottles of paint, it said "Highly flammable. Do not store near open flame." All the more reason to STORE IT IN YOUR FURNACE!!!

My box of paints is stored in a box in the top shelf of our shelving units in the storage room, so I have no idea how they found themselves inside of the furnace. My guess is the cat. Or I suppose the herd of boys running around these here parts.

I can just see the look of disgust on my guardian angel's face. She's probably totally disgusted she ended up with me for an assignment. Living with boys equals living in a danger war zone.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I've Lost It

Tomorrow on our family calendar I wrote "Pick up old cans".

What the heck?! I have no idea what that means.

I've finally lost it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's That Time Again!

Welcome back to Table Topic Tuesdays!
Here is today's question:
If you were going to create a new holiday what would it be and how would people celebrate it?

Huh. I have thought about this all afternoon. The best I can come up with? Positives Day. I think it would make an excellent Hallmark holiday. This would be a day for you to count up all the GREAT things in your life, especially the small things that you take for granted day to day. You could give people a card telling them that they are one of your positives. You could post a list on your bathroom mirror with all of your wonderfuls.

I don't know about you, but I tend to focus on what is WRONG with everything. I forget to look at the good things. I was reminded of this a couple of times this week.

I read the blog Nie Nie everyday. If you don't read The Nie Nie Dialogues, (by Stephanie Nielson), she is a young mother of 4. She and her husband were in a plane crash in August, and she was critically burned, was in a coma for 4 months, and is now recovering. I think about her everyday, and what she might be going through. It makes me thankful for simple things, like being able to cook my kids dinner, and looking in the mirror and seeing a face that I recognize. These are things that Stehanie misses, that all of us would miss if we lost them, but that we don't pay much attention to on a daily basis.

My uncle is dying this week from lymphoma, a disease he has battled for a long time. I am so sad for him, but I also can't stop thinking about my aunt. I simply cannot imagine loosing Jeff. I need to take more small moments each day to appreciate that he is in my life. That we are healthy. That he is the wonderful man he is and that I am lucky enough to be with him everyday.

So here's to Positives Day, and recognizing the little things that we love, and don't take enough notice of. I'm off to kiss my kids and tell my husband how much I love him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Need of Mary Poppins

Jeff and I attended an Open House down the street from us yesterday. The house is very similar to ours in layout and style, so we wanted to see what their asking price was, and chat up their agent a bit while we there. We got some good information, but we also got super overwhelmed.

The people that live in the house are a young married couple, without kids. Which apparently gives you time to beautifully decorate your house. And it looks like things stay where you put them, and no one tracks dirt on your carpet, and nobody spills sippy cups on the carpet. When I say to you the house was immaculate, I am totally understating it's perfection. I came out doubting that people actually inhabited the space.

When we walked back through our own front door, I saw the carpet I have been battling for three years. The dings in the paint from people throwing toy cars. The clutter accumulated by three boys. And when I thought about trying to get our house ready to put on the market and show, I fainted away on the floor. Okay, now I am exaggerating, but at that moment I wished I was a fainter, because it would have fit the situation perfectly.

So, I picked a room to attack first and ended up with our storage room. If I was being truthful with you, I would admit that there were boxes in that room that I have not opened one time since we moved in, and that the crap is astounding piled up against the walls. Instead I will lie to you and say that of course every piece of flotsom and jetsom in that room was meaningful and purposeful.

Seriously. Apparently in high school I strongly believed it was EXTREMELY necessary to save every scrap of paper I ever wrote on because MY THOUGHTS WERE THAT IMPORTANT! Someday this note to a person in 3rd period I no longer remember COULD save the world. At least I got a good laugh out of it. My idealism was slightly nauseating, but provided great entertainment value, especially to my husband who spent the next few hours snorting uncontrollably with laughter, spurting phrases like, "I love him so much! He's my SOULMATE!!!" My advice to the young? Throw away that crap before your husband can use it as blackmail.

Sadly, we aren't done with that room yet. Happily, we do have a pile of 10 bags of trash, and a pile of things I am going to list on Craig's List. We're going to keep plugging tonight, and maybe in 10 years my house will be presentable for the general public. Until then, I will leave you with this gem. Presenting MOI, at my senior prom.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who ordered the defective eyeballs?!

I took Charlie in on Thursday afternoon for his 3 year check up. The boys had a blast, as they all view our pediatrician as a good friend who loves to play with them and hear about their lives. Most of the news was good-he is growing tall and strong, and is in the 97% for height and weight. He broke 40 pounds, so if I want, I can move him into a booster car seat. He has hit all the other developmental milestones they look for to track their development.

BUT....

Dr. B did recommend that he be evaluated by the public schools for speech articulation. I guess that's not a huge surprise to me. He was a late talker. Charlie talks a mile a minute now, but to people who aren't his mother he is often garbled sounding. So, next Friday we are off to have his hearing tested through Millard, and then they will come out to the house to take a history and do an evaluation.

AND...

When Dr. B turned off the lights to check his eyes, I noticed he was particularly careful. He took an extra long time. He told us he thinks Charlie may be developing some nearsightedness, but also that he may be seeing some atypical movements in his right eye (as in they are not tracking together). Just like Evan's eye problem. My stomach dropped to the floor. Even though the things Dr. B was seeing in his eye weren't nearly as pronounced as Evan's eye movement at it's worst, the thought of another one of my kids having to suffer through this makes me sick. I guess I shouldn't be surprised about this either, as Dr. Vicky (the eye doctor) had warned us it is highly genetic. And I am hopeful that if it does turn out to be the same thing, at least we are aware of it a lot sooner, and hopefully it can be treated sooner as well, preventing many of the reading and academic issues Evan has had to face. So on March 6th, Charlie will have the same 2 hour eye exam that Evan had in October. Yeah for doctor bills!!!

Now I am watching Sammy like a hawk. Wouldn't it be great to have at least one kid who was "normal" and just developed the way they should? For his sake?! As a mother it is torture to see your kids have to deal with things that make life harder.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Moving?

Jeff and I moved into our house three years ago. It seemed huge and cavernous when we arrived, but as it often goes, things are feeling a bit smaller now. Three boys and their toys take up a lot of space. It's not horrible, though, and if we didn't need to refinance anyway in April, I wouldn't even think about typing this next sentence.

We're thinking about moving.

It stresses me out to even think about it. Which may deter us in the end. I hate packing. I hate moving. I REALLY REALLY hate change. I form emotional attachments to houses and the memories their walls contain. Our house is the place I raised two of my babies, and spent long hours walking the floors with infants in the dead of night. It's the place my dad has painted and built a fence. When I think about leaving that, I want to vomit.

But, it is turning out that it might be the best financial move. We'd like to get over to Sarpy county for lower property taxes, and there are some great deals on houses right now. I think it would be very possible for us to end up with a lot more house for a lot less in the monthly payment.

Nothing is for sure, which is good for my emotional state. But I guess we'd better start looking and thinking.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Word Families

Every week my class studies a new word family. For example, last week our word family was -ight, so we studied words like knight, bright, and sight. One of the activities I do with the kids involves making a chart on which we brainstorm and record words that would be in the family of the week, and then we use them to write sentences and to include in our writers workshop writing.

This week's chunk is -uck. I dread this word family. For the past six years of teaching this word family I have been terrified an innocent child will think of THE WORD. You know the one. All the while we brainstorm words and make our chart, this word is screaming through my head and I am fervently praying, "Please don't say it. NOBODY SAY IT!"

And today, for the first time in six years, it happened. Someone gaily offered up the word. The f bomb. And I wanted to melt into the floor. I have thought about how I will handle this for SIX YEARS. Each time I think of another brilliant thing to say. But today? All I came up with, "Sorry! That's not a word."

I didn't wait to see if anyone wanted to argue that point with me. We moved right along to the next activity.

Sometimes I think being a teacher is going to take 20 years off my life! The things they come up with sometimes give me heart attacks!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Table Topic Tuesdays

Here's today's Table Topic Tuesday question:
Would you rather be smarter, more athletic, or better looking?

Hmmmm. I am having a REALLY hard time answering this one. I know I should pick smarter. Obviously, that helps you to go far in life.

But if I am honest? Deep down? I would have to pick the more shallow answer and say better looking. When I was a pre-teen and going through the absolute hell of junior high, I was not pretty to look at. I had the worst perm you have ever seen, coke bottle glasses, a face full of acne, and was about 20 pounds over weight. I was teased and bullied mercilessly. It is because of this that NONE of my kids will attend a public junior high. I remember standing once talking to a group of friends before school started in the morning, and a group of boys stood behind me calling my name and barking like dogs.

I will NEVER EVER forget that. I think it still colors my experiences and feelings today. And so if I am honest, I would have to say I would always pick beauty over brains. At least life is less painful, especially as a child.

Monday, February 16, 2009

So Awesome!

I know it is totally cliche right now, but one of my favorite book series EVER is the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I could read the books back to back endlessly and be happy as a clam.

This weekend I FINALLY got to see Twilight the movie in the theaters, (which worked out well, I guess, because it had dropped down to the el cheapo dollar theater, saving me a bundle, especially since I splurged on the ridiculously yummy nachos) and it was SO SO SO SOOOOOO awesome. I am lucky it is coming out on DVD soon, because I need to watch it at least 7 million more times.

Whoever played Jacob is the most delicious specimen of the male species I have laid eyes on in a long time. Except Jeff of course. Ahem. I totally have a 12 year old, school girl crush on him.

I am twitching just thinking about the whole experience, which lucky for me included Christi, who was as giddy as I was.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

It was an interesting day around here yesterday...

Omaha is typically a pretty snowy place in the winter time, but this year, Mother Nature waited until yesterday to send us our first significant snow fall. This was the view out my back door at about 1:00 in the afternoon:



So pretty don't you think! I was loving the snow (since we had the day off from school and I didn't have to drive in it) until we had to go out and shovel it. It was a very wet and heavy snow, and at about 7 inches at our house, it took me quite awhile. The upside was that Evan is starting to put some muscle on him, and for the first time he was a huge help in the snow removal process. Charlie really enjoyed taking his small, child sized shovel and flinging everything I had just moved back onto the driveway with alarming speed. I watched our neighbor's three teenage boys clearing their driveway, and thought "SOMEDAY!!!"


And unfortunately, this picture shows what used to be the end of my cat Ray's tail:



Evan was trying to shoo him out of his room, and thought he was all the way out the door. Apparently his tail hadn't quite made it. Luckily, most of it is fluff, but there was a tiny bit of the end of the tail skin that was taken off by the bedroom door when it shut on his tail. Strangely, Ray didn't make a peep when it happened. Evan made the horrific discovery on the floor, so we hunted up the cat, and it was bleeding a bit, but nothing terrible. Evan has always had a tremendous guilt complex about everything, so he bawled for the rest of the day, prayed to God for forgiveness, and begged of Ray to have mercy on him. I thought this was punishment enough, as it is apparent he will never forgive himself for hurting his favorite companion. And it wasn't a purposeful act either. Amazingly, the cat still seems to like us, even after his horrible day.

Maybe there is some truth to the whole Friday the 13th thing after all!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Driving Alone

Yesterday at school we had parent teacher conferences. Daycare closed before I was done, so Jeff got off work early to come pick up the kids from school.

Which meant that I got to drive home alone. Alone in the car. It NEVER EVER happens to me anymore. I always have at least one or two of the kids in the car with me, but most often it's all three.

When they're not with me? I feel COMPLETELY anxious. Instead of enjoying the wonderful peace and quiet a ride by yourself can provide, I have an overwhelming urge to get home to my babies. I envision the dire things that could happen to me or the kids while we are apart, and I have this feeling I might not see them again. It's not that I don't completely trust Jeff to watch the kids. He is an awesome Dad, and he does a fabulous job. It just feels so unnatural to be separated from them.

Which is probably not healthy. I need to get out more, me thinks.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Look Over There ------>

Check it out! I feel like I am an "official" blogger now, because the uber talented Christy from Ruby & Roja (who did the design for my blog) created a button that readers can add to their pages. If you want to of course. I'll just mention here that if you did I would be SO happy.

Isn't it cute? And doesn't Christy do great work?!

I'd be honored if you'd grab it!!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Valentine

In the hallway at school leading up to the preschool/daycare area, each child has a label with their name on it, and the teachers hang art projects next to it. This morning when we walked down the hallway, we noticed that Valentines created by the kids had been hung up. Each child made their own heart, and then dictated to their teacher a sentence about who they love, which was recorded in the center. Many children had long lists to cover all the loves in their life, but Charlie's was short and sweet, and made my day:




Such a simple thing, but so wonderful to a mother's heart.

And this afternoon, after 7 weeks of eye therapy, a VERY momentous occasion occurred. On the way home from school Evan took out a book to read in the car. FOR PLEASURE. I was so surprised to see him reading without me having to poke and prod him with a fork first I asked him if it was for homework. He looked at me and said, "No it's just a good book. I want to see what happens next!" My jaw dropped open, and I wanted to cry. This was no small moment for us. What joy to see your child conquer something that has been a major battle for them all their life, to see them enjoy reading for the first time, using a skill they will use for the rest of their days. I have waited 10 1/2 years for this moment. And it was so worth it. So we took a picture to remember the joy we both felt.



And the truly amazing thing? He finished this short chapter book in only TWO DAYS! I am praying we have turned the corner.

Table Topic Tuesdays

Today's post is inspired by Christy over at Real Life Adventures. Her family got a neat game for Christmas by the same name that has questions printed on cards for your family to answer and discuss around the dinner table. Cool idea, huh?!

Christy decided to continue the discussion on Tuesdays on her blog using these cards. Today she invited other bloggers to join in, so without further adu, here is today's question:

What is the hardest thing you've ever done?

As you may or may not know about me, I had anorexia nervosa in high school. I am 5 foot 8 inches and at my lowest point I got down 98 pounds. It is something I still struggle with everyday. A little secret-when I look in the mirror, I still see a 500 pound person.

Anyway, after I was finally diagnosed, and the doctor had sat my mother down and spelled it all out for her and put a name to the problem, I initially felt a HUGE sense of relief that someone knew what was wrong with me. My parents and the doctor then had a big serious talk with me and detailed what would happen if I continued to starve myself. DEATH. Which despite how I looked, was not what I wanted. They gave my parents a strict eating plan that I was to follow to the letter if I was to stay out of the hospital. That's when the relief turned to panic.

The hardest thing I have ever done was to make myself eat that first meal. I had to do it alone where no one could watch me, because it made me feel weak, powerless, and less in control to put food in my mouth. And afterwards, I had to sit with my best friend for a long time with her arms around me so that I wouldn't go running to burn off the calories, or take some Exlax to get rid of things. I love my friend Katy to pieces, and one of the reasons is because she helped me to save my own life.

I will NEVER forget having to choke down that food. It makes me feel anxious just to think of it now. It was harder than childbirth, and being left by my fiance pregnant and alone.

However, I am immensely glad I got past that first step because each step afterwards was so much easier.

So, come on bloggers! Play Table Topic Tuesday with us! If you do, link to Christy's site.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

It's an Honor

There are five special little guys in my life. Five little ones that I think about and pray for everyday. The first three are my own kiddos, but I am also blessed to have two Godsons. One is my nephew Colin, and the other is the son of my dear friends, Joel. I guess God thought I would be extra good with boys. Or, extra bad with girls I guess. Whichever it is, I am so lucky to have these wonderful boys in my life.

Yesterday Joel turned two, and as I was driving home from his birthday party, I reflected on what an honor it is to be in Joel's life. In fact, I think it is the BIGGEST honor I have ever experienced. I was extremely honored to be present at Joel's birth. I think it means more to me, because although I think of Joel's mom Christi as a sister, we are not sisters by blood. And to be asked to be present at such an event when you are not a relative was a huge thing for me. A gift I will always treasure to have seen this spunky little guy make his entrance into the world.

And to be asked to be his Godmother? It was one of the most special days of my life. Not that being asked to be a Godparent is less special when you are part of the family, but it was immensely special to me to be chosen as Joel's, since I was not an aunt or an official member of the family. I was blown away, and have been thankful ever since.

Happy Birthday Joel, from the Dee who will always love you, and can't wait to see what you do in life. You are a gift to me, and I will treasure you always.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Mess

I loved this recent post on Cheaper By the Half Dozen where the author talks about her messy house. One of the things I love about reading blogs is that it makes me feel more normal. Isn't it great to know that you aren't the only one with a messy house, or naughty children, or bad hair?

The state of cleanliness in my house is one of the things that make me anxious on a daily basis. I don't just love neatness and order, I CRAVE it. It makes me feel calm and happy and in control. Unfortunately as a working mom with 3 boys and a husband who is never home, I never ever have enough time to clean. It is usually relegated to the weekends. But so are a million other things, and I never get to what I want to.

The other day I was exercising in the living room to one of my favorite exercise DVDs, when the woman on the TV screen ordered me to the floor for some push ups. The upside of this move was that the filth I was suddenly confronted with in an in your face manner totally distracted me from the torture of this inhumane form of exercise. The downside was that I realized I couldn't remember the last time I had vacuumed.

I berated myself for several minutes for not doing a better job. And then I remembered. I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE! And isn't that great? It helps a lot to know there are a lot of other dirty houses in America. My carpet may be full of fuzzies, but at least the kids are happy.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Fate

As I was telling Jeff good-bye this morning before I left for work, we were both lamenting over how tired we were from tax season hours, and how much we missed each other. I told him we needed an extra special date after tax season is over to celebrate and reconnect.

As we were driving to work, fate was with us, and I heard an announcement that tickets were going on sale for a performance by Bill Cosby the weekend after tax season is over. MY FAVORITE COMEDIAN! I love love love Bill Cosby. I love the Cosby Show. I still laugh uncontrollably at the reruns. I love his sense of humor.

So, I took the bull by the horns and bought two tickets online as soon as we got to school.

I CAN'T WAIT!!! A night on the town with Jeff and Bill-two of my favorite leading men.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Unique Talents

The other day in my classroom we were discussing how God gives each of us special talents. I explained that it is our job to find out how we can use these talents to serve God and to complete the vocation God is calling us to.

Apparently this conversation went right over the heads of some. I asked the kids to brainstorm and share with us some talents that they had. Some answers were great, like being good at math, being able to grow things in a garden, and liking to talk with new people. And then, one little boy raised his hand and said, "My talent is that I can stand four big steps away from the urinal and still get all the pee in!"

I'm not sure how that will help you in any type of vocation, but I could be wrong. You never know.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's All Worth It

This morning one of my favorite students from last year came in to give me a hug before the school day started. She then proceeded to make my day with the following comment. "Mrs. Kleffman, I have been praying for my brother to get you as a teacher next year. He's not a very good reader, and I know you will make reading easy for him just like you did for me. You taught me how to love words."

I will admit here and now that I melted into a puddle of goo and started to cry. So much of teaching goes unnoticed by other people. You don't always get to see the fruits of your labor. But those kind words? Made all 9 years worth it for me. Reminded me that what I do everyday makes a difference.

I gave her a hug, told her she made my day, heck-my whole year, and sent her off to 2nd grade with a smile on my face. If I have made learning, reading, or life more enjoyable or accessible for even one person, it is worth all of the stress, time, and effort.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Blah Blah Blah

I tried all day to think of something to write about on this here blog. And I couldn't come up with one single thing. Mostly because my brain is utterly fried. By 7:00 this morning I was already thinking about going to bed tonight. Which is in fact where I am right now. As soon as the boys were tucked into bed, I crawled under the covers too. I am making myself keep my eyes open until 9:00, because it seems slightly indecent to go to bed during the 8 o'clock hour.

I can't put into words how tired I have been the last several days. And you know what's dumb? Once I fall asleep, I keep waking back up. Even though I am totally tired, I just can't stay asleep. Probably stress I suppose. We have conference coming up next week, which means lots of extra work at school, Evan keeps getting assigned killer math homework which makes even my adult brain hurt and which I also have to do at the same time I am bathing children or cooking supper. Jeff is never home before 9:00. Sammy has been a bear because the antibiotic he is on is giving him major MAJOR diarrhea and his poor little bum has a huge case of diaper rash. Charlie is a crazy man. He has been having hair raising temper tantrums both at home and at school. My brother used to do the same thing when he was little and he turned out okay, but it still worries me. I think, "Is this kid unstable? Will he someday come after me while I am asleep with an ax?" And this weekend, a time when I normally try to rush around like a cray woman to catch up, is going to be killer. So many things going on. And not one of them will my hubby be home to help with, God bless him.

Anyway. Now that I have totally bored you with that stream of consciousness bout of complaining, I am off to bed.

So that I can wake up again in an hour.

Thanks for listening! I feel much better having let it all out!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Romance and Music

Today is the 1st of February. As soon as I turned the page on the calendar and saw the name of the new month pop up, I of course thought of the big day coming in two weeks: Valentine's Day!

I used to hate this day. Really, I probably still would if I were still single. It's a hard day to get through when you are an I and not a we and the whole country is talking about love. Since I met Jeff though, it has been a happy day for us to take time out of our busy lives to remind each other we love each other, and that we feel very blessed to have found each other. It is especially nice for me, as it comes smack in the middle of tax season, right around the time I am beginning to forget what Jeff's face looks like.

We never do anything big on V Day. We both hate fighting crowds at restaurants, and that whole thing seems rather contrived anyway. We like to just take time to sit and talk, without the kids or the TV to distract, and reconnect. Oftentimes we do this to music. My favorite Valentine memory was the V Day right after Charlie was born. He was not quite a month old, and I was overwhelmed from being a new mom without Jeff around very much (tax season again. Have I mentioned lately that I hate it?!) We managed to get Charlie and Evan off to sleep AT THE SAME TIME!! We poured ourselves some wine, put some music on the stero, and just talked for a long time. It was so nice to feel like myself for a couple of hours, instead of just a mom. Don't laugh too hard, but the CD we listened to was Stevie Wonder's Greatest Hits. It's what I had asked for that V Day. I love his disco stuff.

This Valentine's Day, the One to One Network introduced me to some new, AWESOME romantic music. It's called the Yanni Voices. It includes Yanni plus four awesome singers: Nathan Pacheco, Chloe, Leslie Mills, and Ender Thomas. Check out the website-the music is SOOOO relaxing and romantic. My favorite track is Before the Night Ends. It's the one thing I am asking for this V-Day!!! The CD is going to be released on March 24th. You can also check them out in a PBS special on March 2nd. (Jeff agreed to watch it with me, cause he's an awesome husband!)

How are you celebrating Valentine's Day this year?

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