Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grandpa Dave

I found out this morning that my Grandpa Dave passed away early this morning, around 1:00 AM. He has had advanced Alzheimers for the past six years, so while we knew it was coming, it was still a bit of a shock. Apparently he had developed bronchitis last Tuesday, and even though he appeared to be getting better on a round of antibiotics, last night his breathing just got farther and farther apart until he died. I am so glad that he wasn't in a lot of pain. It seems to be a peaceful way to go.

The Alzheimers disease was anything but peaceful. In the last 6 years we have watched him forget our names, his past, his wife, how to talk, and how to eat. It is no small blessing that he has been released from the prison of his body, and is in a better place.

My heart goes out to my Grandma Rose. I can't imagine loosing your spouse.

We are gearing up for a busy week of saying good-bye, and remembering him in happier days.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Social Buterflies

We have done more in the last two days than we have in forever. It's been a fun start to the weekend! Getting out of the house was just what the doctor ordered as a Mommy pick me up.

Yesterday we met our friend Christi and her children Alyssa and Joel (who is also my ADORABLE Godson) at the park for a picnic. After some fun in the sun, we went home for a quick nap, and then went out again for my aunt and uncle's 50th anniversary party. Don't they clean up well?

It was a beautiful party for so many reasons. It is an amazing thing to see a couple who have dedicated their lives to each other, surrounded by their children and grandchildren, glowing with love for each other and their family. My grandpa used to say, "It's amazing how much trouble two people can cause!!" And it's true.

This morning we packed the kids into the van and headed down for a day at the zoo. This was no small thing for me. Don't throw tomatoes at me for saying this, but I really do HATE the zoo. Looking at animals has never been too exciting for me. And the Omaha zoo? It has so many hills in it, it feels like they built it into the side of a mountain. When you have to climb up and down those things while either pushing 80 pounds of kid in a double stroller or with older children hanging on you saying "It's hooooot. I'm thiiiiiirsty. Can I geeeeet something?" it ends up being a workout for your muscles and your patience. But the kids love it, so I sucked it up and we went. And it was fun to watch the delight on their faces. So I watched my kids instead of the animals. That's what made it fun for me.

We grabbed lunch at BK on the way home (big treat for the kiddos!), took another quick nap, and then we headed over to my sister's house. My brother in law just got his masters degree, so they were having a shindig. I am in awe of him for accomplishing such a feat with two small children.

And here's a picture just because it's cute. Charlie and Sammy love to listen to tunes with Daddy. They especially love Johnny Cash and the Beatles.

*sigh* I love my boys! Aren't they all just deliciously adorable?!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Motherhood is Tough

Do you ever feel that being a Mom is isolating? I sure do lately.

It means that it is hard to go anywhere. This can mean the grocery store or the doctor's office, but it can also mean a friend's house. When you are the primary caretaker for your kids, it is really hard to get out of the house. Which makes it hard to talk to other adults. Which in turn makes it hard to have friends.

A lot of moms I know begin to make friends through their kids when the kids go off to school. An unfortunate side effect of your kids going to school where you teach is that the other parents always see you as the teacher, and there is a distance between you. One that has to be there, I suppose. But the reality of it means that I haven't gotten to become friends with the other moms in Evan's class. And the moms of Charlie and Sammy's daycare cronies are my teaching buddies. Which leaves me with a very small circle of people to interact with.

I am invited to a jewelry party tonight at the home of one of my teaching friends that I was really looking forward to. Jeff worked late last night in an effort to get home tonight in time for me to attend, but it still is going to be a tight squeeze. Jeff works so hard to be a good provider for our family, which I am so thankful for. The long hours his job requires of him are hard for me though, as it means more time when I am left feeling isolated here at home.

My goal for the week is to give myself a kick in the pants when I start feeling lonely like this. I am going to remember back to the time when it was just Evan and I, and I was yearning to give him siblings, to have a father figure in his life. There was nothing I wanted more than to be a wife and to have more children.

Now that I have that, I need to continue to be thankful for the blessings I have received. I am going to remind myself to take joy in the little things, and remember that my job here at home as a wife and a mom is the best way I can serve my family, and the Lord. This is where I need to be. And it won't be forever. As Jeff and I were telling Evan yesterday in a talk about why we are expecting more out of him lately, Evan only has 8 more years and then he will be an adult. As soon as the words left Jeff's mouth they knocked me on my rear. 8 YEARS?! How did that happen? It's not nearly long enough for me. I am going to try and change my perspective this week and remember that our time with our kids is all to short, and there will be time for me later.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day: Bah Humbug

Do you know for the last three years I have gotten a bladder infection on Memorial Day? It's becoming an annual tradition that has quickly worn out it's welcome. I can't figure out what I do every year on this day that brings it on, but it's becoming ridiculous.

I have been seeing a urologist for the past year and a half, and I don't think it's really done any good at all. I keep getting these infections over and over and over again (and is there ANYTHING more annoying and painful than a bladder infection?!) I am so frustrated. I guess when you go to the doctor you expect them to have the answers. Sometimes that just isn't true I suppose.

At any rate, it made for a depressing holiday weekend. I was tethered to the bathroom for most of Sunday night and Monday. Thank God I have the best husband ever. He entertained the children without complaint, and ran to the store late Sunday for medicine and a bucket of cranberry juice. Have I mentioned lately how madly in love I am with him?!

I am hoping the rest of the week is better. I am ready for some fun to ring in our first week of summer vacation!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Biting the Bullet to Avoid Being a Selfish Mom

Evan's swim instructor suggested to us in December that he join a swim team this summer. Initially, I thought "Awesome! I am so proud of him for working this hard to get there. It will be great for him!"

Not being someone with any type of experience with a swim team, I decided to do a little research. I went to the club the teacher suggested to inquire about price, schedules, etc. And that's when my jaw fell to the ground.

Swim team? It's serious business. They practice four days a week, and there is a meet every Wednesday evening on top of that. The practices will be at least an hour long.

If Evan were still my only child? No problem. If Charlie and Sammy were just a bit older and out of that it is such a pain to take them ANYWHERE stage? No problem. Unfortunately I am the mother of three, two of the them being toddlers who ARE A PAIN TO TAKE ANYWHERE.

So, being the selfish mom I can be at times, I put all thoughts of swim team out of my head, and thought "I'll think about it later." Later is now here. His teacher has been badgering (I mean encouraging) me for three weeks now to sign him up. I am scared spitless of the commitment this will mean for me, the time spent in the car with the toddlers, and the schedule it will make us stick to in my sacred summer time. The time I like to do a whole lot of nothing.

But, I am giving myself a big kick in the pants and telling myself to get over it. I am going to sign him up today, and we're just going to do it. And if I'm not alive to tell about it in August, well, then his swim teacher will be REALLY sorry won't she?!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Teachers are Exhausted at the End of the Day

This happens all the time. The following example happened yesterday afternoon in my classroom.

(Teacher makes a statement to the class) Teacher: Tomorrow is field day. Please put on sunscreen before you come to school in the morning.

Immediately, at least 14 hands will shoot into the air.
Student 1: Should we wear sunscreen tomorrow?
Student 2: What kind of sunscreen? Cause we have purple and green bottles at home, and I really like the way the purple one smells.
Student 3: This one time? We went to Florida? And I put on sunscreen there too!
Student 4: I have a dog! He's brown!
Student 5: Mrs. Kleffman? I was thinking about wearing sunscreen tomorrow. Do you think I should?
Student 6: Sunscreen? What's sunscreen?
Student 7: My mom hates sunscreen. Do I still have to wear it?

Multiply this by 45 for additional statement made during the day like "Please get your coat on" and "Where is your homework?", and you will know what a 1st grade classroom sounds like during the day.

This is why I have no patience left when I get home.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Young Man

Evan came out of his room on Friday morning after his shower with agitation rolling off of him in waves. "Look at me Mom!" he said. "I LOOK RIDICULOUS." And after examining him carefully, I had to agree.

It's been getting warmer around here, so Evan had dug through his drawers trying to find some warm weather clothes. His toes were curling over the edges of his sandals, which had grown way too small for him over the winter months. His shirt looked like a belly shirt a girl might wear it was so short. And his shorts were WAAAAAAY too small. My baby is shooting up like a string bean.

So Saturday morning we went shopping, as we had discovered after going through all of his clothes that he needed an entire new wardrobe. Growing boys are impossible to keep up with.

Once at the store, I discovered-much to my horror-that we needed to shop in the men's department. For my baby! It seems in so many ways I had him yesterday, and yet there we were in the middle of the men's clothing, trying to figure out sizes that make no sense to me.

We picked up some size 8 men's tennis shoes and sandals, lots of shorts and shirts, and some clothes for church. And since we were throwing out so much money anyway, we got new tennis shoes for Charlie and Sam, who had destroyed their old ones in their insistence in using them as brakes for their scooters.

Some days I am so tired, I can't wait for everyone to be in bed so I can sit down. But days like these remind me that I need to cherish every blessed second of time with my kids, because before you know it they are turning into young men.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Thursday

Want to know what I did today? Sure you do! Thanks for humoring me.

Woke up at 5:30, got myself and three boys to school and/or daycare by 7:00. Worked a full day until 4:00. Went home, did eye therapy with Evan, made dinner, cleaned up after dinner, mowed the yard, gave the toddlers a bath, pretended I am a nurse while treating the case of hives Charlie broke out with after playing in the backyard, did 2 loads of laundry, and put the boys to bed. I did all that by myself. Jeff, God bless him, is having a busy end to the fiscal year at work, and didn't get home until 8:00.

I'm tired.

I just read a book by James Patterson called Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas. (Soooo good, but soooooo sad. If you read it, get a large box of Kleenex ready). In it, he compares life to juggling 5 balls which represent health, family, work, and 2 other things I can't even remember. All the balls are made of rubber except for family and health. Those two balls are made of glass. If you drop the work ball, it will eventually bounce back. But you can't drop family or health, because it might be damaged, and it might shatter, and it's almost impossible to fix after that.

As a working mom, I am having a hard time balancing things. I so want to get the most out of our time together in the evenings, but it seems to go by in a blur of things that need to be done- like eating, dishes, homework, and bathing. Even so, there is so much I am not getting done around the house, that weekends end up being marathon sessions of a mile long to do list to keep the family moving smoothly.

Once the boys are in bed and I exercise for the day, I am left with about 45 minutes of down time for myself for the day, if I am lucky enough to not have school work to do.

I feel like I am dropping all five balls a lot of the time, doing a halfway job with everything. I am hoping I am not cracking the glass balls as I do.

I am craving more time with my kids lately. I have been praying a lot about being a stay at home Mom. Jeff works so hard to make our family stable financially, and he does a great job. I trust his leadership completely in finances, as he can turn $5 into $500, whereas I would use that same amount to put us into debt by $5000. Jeff thinks it would be best for me to continue working at this point, so I am praying to have a gentle spirit on this front, and follow his lead. I am also praying that God will lead me into whatever role he wants me to be.

If I am meant to be a Mom and a teacher, I'm okay with that. But I wish I had a clone. Or an instruction manual. Or maybe a maid? Right now, I am stretched way too thin. And I love my babies, all three of them, to the moon and back. I just want to do the very best I can for them. I just need to figure out how to accomplish that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sammy the Linguist

Sammy tickles my funny bone with the way he gets words totally mixed up. He has added a couple of funny ones this week I want to write down here so I remember.

Last weekend we brought the fans back up from the storage room for the warm nights ahead. As soon as we put Charlie and Sam's in their bedroom, Sammy immediately started calling it his "shadow". He has stubbornly stuck with the name ever since. He asked my mom to turn on his shadow while she was here for dinner on Sunday. Needless to say, she was baffled.

One of Sam's favorite candies is Starbursts. He will only call them Star Wars.

Pretty soon we are going to need a dictionary to translate.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Missing Blogger

This is the longest I have gone without posting in FOREVER! And it is mainly because of things like this...the following is a snipet of the conversations I have had in the last half an hour...

Me: Sam! Don't lick the cat!! (Spent 5 minutes wiping hairball out of two year old's mouth. Apparently one lick can get you quite a bit of hair).

Charlie: Moooooom! Sammy put a car down my pants!

Sammy: Outside! Kitty went out the door!!! Ray kitty is GONE! (Spend 5 minutes in the backyard coaxing the cat to come down from the eaves of the deck).

Charlie: MooooooM!! Wipe my bottom! Me: You are a big boy now, you can do it yourself. Charlie: NOOOOOOOOO! I HATE POOP!!!!! (Repeat this about 10 times).

Evan: I HATE DECIMALS! WHO THOUGHT OF THIS! I am NOT going to do my homework!! I wish school was over RIGHT NOW!!

Sammy: Mommy!!! Charlie poke Sammy's eye out!!!! (Scream and wail).

And they wonder why we had chips and leftovers for dinner!

Hopefully the natives will settle down enough for me to post a bit more regularly around here...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pleased and Yet Baffled

Today is Weigh in Wednesday again. I am really pleased with this week's results, but I have no idea why they happened.

I lost 2.5 pounds, and I am now down to 174.3.

Here's why I'm baffled. Remember when I told how absolutely exhausted I am? It's been so bad a lot of days that I have been going to bed at 8:00 and sleeping through until the next morning. I didn't exercise those days at all. A lot of the days when I managed to stay awake after 8:00, I have been way too tired physically to exercise. I think I probably squeezed in three to four exercise sessions last week. The only thing I have been consistent about is my Monday night water pilates class.

Maybe pilates is better than I thought?

But, I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I'll take 2.5 pounds and run! Which reminds me, I have lost over 5 pounds total for the challenge, so I think I get one of those nifty sidebar buttons from the Sisterhood saying I've lost five! Woohoo!!!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Something is not quite right...

I have a nagging feeling that something is just not right with me health wise. If I didn't know better, I would think I am pregnant. I have been nauseous off and on for the last two months. I have been having a myriad of other odd symptoms, but the worst has been complete and total exhaustion. When I get home at the end of the day, I need a nap. A 2-3 hour nap. It is getting to the point that I can't get through the evening with the kids. I can't even put into words how bad the exhaustion is.

I made an appointment with my OB for when school is out. I am hoping to get some answers, because with three kids around, I can't spend the day sleeping.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Jeff and I attended our annual marriage retreat, Table for Two yesterday at church. It was just awesome. The food was outstanding, the speaker was great, and who can beat an uninterrupted 3 hours with your spouse?

During one of the mini talks that came between each course of the meal, the speaker did a mini-meditation on hands. Part of the exercise was to picture the hands of those who had influenced us, who had taken care of us during our lives. The hands of both of my grandmothers immediately came into my mind.

By the time I was introduced to these two pairs of hands, they were lined with age, love, and hard work. Even though I have not seen the hands of my grandmother Sophie in 16 years, I can picture them perfectly in my mind. Her voice has gone a bit fuzzy for me, but her hands I can still hold in my mind's eye. She had lovely, long fingers. I don't remember ever seeing her with painted nails, probably because she was often using them to clean her house. She was the best housekeeper I have ever known. Her house was spotless. How she managed this with 10 children is beyond me, but this is one of my dad's biggest memories of his childhood. It was a comfortable clean-not one where you couldn't run in and out and play.

Sophie was a very faith filled woman, and I can see her hands around mine, showing me how to pray, and say the sign of the cross. I can vividly see her fingers caressing the beads of a rosary, her eyes closed in prayer.

My Grandma Rose's fingers are also long and tapered, and she has large, rounded nails. Two of my children inherited her fingers and nails. After my babies were first handed to me, fresh from the womb and wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, the first thing I always did was to unearth one of their hands to inspect their fingers, and watch their brand new hands wrap around mine. When I looked at Charlie's for the first time, I laughed at their well loved familiarity. It was my Grandma's fingers in miniature, right down to the shape of her nails. So comforting to know they will always be with me.

When I think of Rose, I see her fingers running up and down my back in a relaxing tickle. She is the best of back rubbers. I see her dealing out cards for hands of Kings in the Corner. Her hands are the ones who taught me a myriad of card games. I see her hands in front of my own, wrapped in yarn, teaching me to crochet.

Last night I thought about how hard their hands had worked as young girls, one farming, one taking care of cows, both raising younger brothers and sisters. I thought of them raising their own children (sixteen between them!), keeping a house, making meal after meal, combing little girls' hair, loving their husbands, and then their grandchildren.

Isn't it amazing how much your hands do in a lifetime? How much care. love, teaching, and praying they do? I've never thought about it much before last night, but I can picture the hands of many of the people I love best, and my best memories of many of them revolve around their hands. My prayer last night was that I will use my hands for kindness, and that those I love will be able to think of my hands with fondness.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Fabulous Friday

The weekend is off to such an awesome start.

I am sitting on my front stoop, watching my children zoom by in the sunshine on scooters. My adorable husband is sitting next to me. It's so nice to have him home in the evening. Did I mention he's adorable?

I grabbed pizza on the way home from school for dinner, so now I don't have to cook. We ate on paper plates so I don't have to clean up.

I just get to enjoy. Adorable kids with full tummies, adorable husband, two days of freedom in front of me.

Three weeks until school is out, and tomorrow Jeff and I are going to our annual Table for Two marriage retreat at church.


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