Saturday, August 29, 2009

Totally ANNOYING!

Our neighborhood is located a ways outside of the city limits. While our neighborhood is nice, but not particularly rich, the neighborhoods surrounding us are. Because of this, several different companies who go door to door have been dropping off van loads of their door to door salesman in and around our neighborhood. In the last week alone we have been approached by 5 different people.

What drives me nuts is that these so called "salesmen", who are usually peddling magazines, candles, candy, or cleaners, usually look like gang members recently released from the state pen. They usually arrive when Jeff isn't home from work yet, and I am alone with the kids. Charlie and Sammy are trying to hang out the door to talk to them, the cat is trying to run away, and meanwhile the gang member is letting loose with a really aggressive sales pitch. Being alone, I have the vague feeling that I may get shot if I refuse to buy something. The other day my neighbor Tom helped me get rid of one guy who was extremely pushy. I was SO grateful, but I am ridiculously annoyed by these people. Today I was ready to pull into our driveway when I noticed another salesman at our neighbor's house. In order to avoid him, we drove around our neighborhood for 10 minutes, because I didn't want him to accost me while I was getting the kids out of the car.

Is there someone I can call about this? I have no idea, especially as we are outside of the city limits. I noticed one of our neighbors had affixed a no soliciting sign to their door today, so I did the same. I don't know if it will help, as I have the feeling some of these people can't read, but I am hopeful. You shouldn't have to be afraid when your doorbell rings.

Friday, August 28, 2009

This is a picture of me when I was 16 years old:



I am on the right with that incredible mane of hair. I am trying to grow my hair out right now, and I would kill to have some of that back. I am standing with my bestest friend in the whole world, Katy. I love that girl to pieces. She has stood with me through thick and thin, and through every bad decision I've ever made. And I am the queen of bad decisions, so I really gave her a workout in the best friend department.

There have been a flurry of old pictures of me and high school friends appearing on Facebook the last few days. I love looking at them, and remembering fun times, and dearly wonderful friends. I had the best friends in high school, and I will love them always. I love looking back at how their faces looked when I first came to love them.

But sometimes? When I look back at myself at this age in pictures, it makes me weep. The late teen/early twenties years are such an incredible time. A time when you don't have the responsibilities that come with age, and the only thing you really have to focus on is you. You are on the brink of your life, and every decision you get to make can be so important. When I look into this girl's face, my 16 year old self, I remember how idealistic I was, how self assured, how cemented I was in my convictions and that I would conquer the world. I just knew that I had the power to make the world a better place. And when I see her face, and remember how it felt to be her, I miss her terribly. I feel her loss way down to my bone marrow.

Is she still in here somewhere? Burried under all the pressures of adult life? It's not that I don't love my life right now. I am blessed, and I have everything that I prayed for and wanted at age 16. I became a teacher, married, and have a family. But being a wife, mother, and teacher means that all day every day people are depending on you and taking your time, energy, thoughts, and patience. When all is said and done, I probably have about 15 seconds a day for reflection, or me time, or getting to know myself. Or finding the self that I lost. I love the roles I have to play in life, but I wish they allowed for more time for me to be me. And not the Christy that is Wife Christy, Mother Christy, or Mrs. Kleffman the teacher Christy. I want to be ME. Just Christy Christy. I want to be able to reach back to 1994 and grab that girl's hand, and pull part of her back to the present, and find a way to weave all of it together.

How? I'm not sure or I'd do it right now. A vacation by myself? Maybe-but who has the time and opportunity to do that?! I think I need to add this to my prayer time. Or maybe I just need to squeak in a walk by myself in the evenings once in awhile. At any rate, I am going to be searching around inside myself to see if I am still in there somewhere. I'd like to renew my acquaintance.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Inspiring

If you have an extra second today, go visit here and read the amazing story of a mom with four children who will soon be going to Uganda to adopt 2 beautiful daughters.

I so wish that adoption like this would be an option for us. I would love to open our hearts and home to a child in need. Unfortunately, the expense is huge, and I think my husband would need a brain transplant to want another child. Although I may have to add this to my prayers and conversations with God. Miracles can happen, right?

At any rate, get a dose of inspiration at Moments with Love. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Finish Line



My dad finished replacing the wood work today, and a few little finishing touches. I so wish I had even 1/3 of his handiness. We would get a lot more done around the house!!! He did such a great job, and I love my Daddy-O tons.



LOVE IT!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Almost to the Finish Line!

This shows how my kitchen looks right now:



This fantastic mess is because my living room is currently residing in the kitchen. Those of you who have known me for even 5 seconds will understand that as a person with an unusually high need for order and organization, this situation is making me anxious as all get out. But since the result is well worth it, I am trying to ignore the tottering piles to the best of my ability.

Here is a shot of the living room chaos:



It does show, however, that we are ALMOST done with the floor!! We ran out of wood with one small strip to go by the wall, so we will finish up tomorrow. I am so in love with how it looks, and I can't wait to see how everything looks when it is all put back together again.

We are so, so, so blessed to have good family and friends. My dad, Jeff's dad, my brother Creighton, my dad's friend Doug, and Jeff all worked countless hours this weekend to help us get this in, and it saved us $2500 to be able to do the labor ourselves. In appreciation for all of their hard work, we are going to have them over for some steaks on the grill later this month.

And here is a close up of the finished product:



Seriously. I am in LOVE with it. Especially since I can just wipe up any mess my boys throw at it. Carpet and three boys? BAD. VERY BAD.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Not So Fond Farewell

Wednesday night my Dad and his friend Doug came and ripped out the carpet in our living room. Jeff and I did the happy dance on the bare plywood when they were finished. We are so unbelievably glad to have that craptastic stuff out of our lives and our home!!!

Tomorrow is the big install day for the wood floor. Pictures to come soon!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Day of School

Today was the first day of 5th grade for this handsome guy:



What amazes me is that when I look into his face, the snippets of his baby and toddler self are slowly melting away, and I can now see glimpses of the man he will become. It makes me proud and heartbroken all at once. Being a mother is super hard, isn't it?

Evan had a great day at school, despite being a nervous wreck before hand, and his dire prediction that his teacher would surely hate him. They weren't given any homework, so this definitely helped cement it as a good first day, in Evan's opinion.

And here is a picture of me on my first day. Evan was tickled to turn the camera on me, and make me go through the dreaded first day of school ritual. I am wearing my rockin' new skirt I ordered on Etsy the other day.



I love how the bright yellow and orange colors make me feel light and cheery. And two of my new students today told me that they knew when to line up because they saw my yellow skirt. I was like a lighthouse beacon, y'all! But best of all, it was super comfy. When you teach primary students and get in and out of tiny chairs and up and down off the floor all day, comfy is essential.

And now that the first day is over, the worst part is over. Now we now a little of what to expect, and hopefully everyone will sleep a little more soundly tonight!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nervous Nellie

Guess what I did today?

I did 7 loads of laundry. And I mean washed, dried, folded, and put away.
I helped Evan with his home eye therapy.
I cooked a down home, Sunday dinner with all the fixins. Even gravy!
I cleaned up the kitchen, and scrubbed it down twice. Once after lunch, once after dinner.
I made and frosted cupcakes.
I labeled all of Evan's school supplies and stashed them in his backpack.
I mowed the lawn. After a recent fertilizer application and 20 million inches of rain this weekend, I managed to fill the entire 96 gallon yard waste container.
I gave 4 haircuts-one to each of my handsome guys. One of the best things my mom ever taught me was how to give a boy haircut. I think we save about $50 with each round I do at home.
I made sun tea.
I scrubbed the floors, and I vacuumed.

Don't get the wrong idea-this is WAY more than I accomplish in a regular day. So why in the world did I treat myself like a work horse today? Because...I AM A NERVOUS WRECK! And when I am nervous, I clean and organize to make myself feel better. Lucky for my neuroses, living in a house with four boys provides me with ample cleaning and organizational opportunities.

Why am I nervous? Because school starts on Tuesday. I don't care how many times I go through the first day of school, I am always, always nervous. I wonder if my students are half as nervous as I am. Or if they know I am nervous too, just like they are! It's always fine, but I always worry ahead of time, and I want it to be a great day for all of my kiddos. Worrying is something I am very talented at. I'll probably give myself an ulcer, but at least my house will be clean.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Home Improvement

During late July, my Dad, who is super handy around the house, helped me to stain our deck and fence. I love the way it looks, and it will help the fence/ deck to last longer, but oh my GLORY! It was hard, hot work. Here it is in progress:



I think it would have gone a lot faster if this was a regular fence, but because it is a shadow weave design, it was pretty tricky to get the stain in all the nooks and crannies. And it was HOT!! Did I mention that? Or that I sweat out 20 gallons of yuck?

Here's the finished project:



In one week, my Dad and my father in law are returning to bless us again with their carpentry skills, and help us install a wood floor in our living room. My three boys and our cat have destroyed the carpet. I would show you a picture, but I don't want to make you vomit. I absolutely can't WAIT to have it out of here.

We are so thankful to have awesome Dads in our lives. I really don't know what we would do without them.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

School Days

This past Monday marked the end of the summer for us, as I went back to work. No students this week, just meetings and getting my classroom ready to roll for another year. Evan just went to after school care, as his first day of 5TH GRADE!!! won't be until Tuesday. It amazes me that he is just weeks away from 11, and now in the upper grades at school. Just yesterday I was walking the floor with him in the middle of the night, singing lullabies, and trying to croon my colicky baby back to sleep.

It was the first day of preschool for these two cuties though.



Charlie has moved up to the pre-k group, aka "the Busy Bees". Sammy had his first day with the big kids, as he moved out of the toddler room, and into the 3 year old preschool group, aka "the Lucky Ladybugs". Both were excited about their new and improved status at school. When Jeff asked Charlie how his first day of school went, Charlie replied, "It was so super! I was the busiest bee in the WHOLE WORLD Daddy!" It doesn't get much better than that.

It was hard to get back in the swing of things for me, much more so than the kids. I have always been a person who needs a LOT of sleep. In the summer I get a good 9 hours a night, plus a 2 hour nap every day. Not getting more than 7 hours anyday this week made for a lot of headaches. Today I got out at noon, and Sammy and I crashed together, and we all had a loooong 2 1/2 hour nap. I felt SOOOO much better! Maybe I can convince my first graders to nap with me every day.

I've been missing my kids like crazy all day every day this week, but I've also been reflecting on how much good that comes out of the kids going to preschool. We are very blessed that my school has an on site daycare for the children of staff members. The teachers there are outstanding, there is very little turn over in staffing, and it is a small environment for the kids at the daycare. There are under 30 kids in the entire center this year, which is birth to 5 years. The boys learn so much while they are there, they love interacting with the other kids, and seeing their friends. They get to visit the residents of a nursing home across the street once a week (they affectionately call them "the Grandmas") and they have various special events every single month. So while I ache sometimes to not be the one to tuck them in for nap or fix their lunch, I have to admit that they are gaining a lot, and it is a good experience for them.

The real deal starts Tuesday, and I get to meet my 29 new first graders. I am excited to get to know the people who will be my family for the next 17o school days. It's always an adventure, and I am antsy to get started.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Independence

Two weeks ago, Jeff and I took a quick trip down to the KC area to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. It was just three nights, but it was the first time we have taken a trip together, with or without kids, since our honeymoon. Which should explain right there why it was a wonderful get away.

We stayed in a bed and breakfast called the Hawthorn, which is located in Independence. It is a mansion built in 1900, which has been converted to a GORGEOUS B & B. I've never stayed in one before, but oh my goodness! HEAVEN! Here is a picture of the room where we stayed, which was a hundred times cleaner, more comfortable, and nicer than any hotel I have ever stayed in:





Right outside our room was a gourmet coffee station (and for the girl who drinks at LEAST one pot a day, this was a huge plus!) and a snack bar. Every morning, we were served an out of this world three course, fresh, homemade breakfast. In fact, on Thursday night we were the only guests, so we got first dibs on the table in the sun porch at Friday morning's breakfast. Every day started with a fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola parfait. Next came a variety of fresh out of the oven muffins, and then pancakes, hash browns, breakfast meat and eggs. We were so stuffed after all this indulgence we never had lunch one day the entire trip. Breakfast was probably my favorite part of every day. Not having to prepare food, feed three kids, and clean up afterwards was the biggest luxury. I felt completely pampered.

Although the mansion is beautiful, it turns out Independence isn't. It's a pretty scary town, actually. The whole thing is like one huge bad neighborhood, with sex shops, cruddy convenience stores with shady people lurking in the parking lot, and lots of crime. Sprinkled here and there throughout the town are some pretty cool historical sites, but don't wander too far off the beaten path!

A big highlight of the trip for me was our visit to the Truman Presidential Library. Beforehand, the only thing I really knew for sure about Harry Truman was that he dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. I really enjoyed learning about his life. He is one of Jeff's favorite historical figures. Jeff loves anyone who "pulls himself up by his bootstraps", and Harry Truman was certainly a bootstrap man.

This is a photo of a letter written by a father to Mr. Truman after his son was killed in the Korean War:



He sent along with the letter his son's Purple Heart. Harry kept this letter in his desk at the Oval Office for the rest of his term. It made my heart hurt to see it-a little for the parents of this young soldier, and a little for Harry Truman, who seemed to carry the loss of each soldier's life on his shoulders.

In one room they had a display of articles that appeared in Life Magazine in 1952. One of them showed this:



It's a little hard to see, but the article told of a young mother with three small children who had been stricken with polio. Having a husband who also had the disease as a child, I think all polio stories grab my attention, but I will admit I stood at looked at this picture for a good 10 minutes. The photos in the article show the mom in an iron lung, where she lay paralyzed. Hanging above her head you can see the pictures of her three children. I cried right there, thinking about how heartbroken I would be to have to lie there, unable to move, seeing my children's faces, and knowing other people were taking care of them. I wish I knew what happened to her and her family.

We also took a tour of Harry Truman's home, which actually belonged to his wife. Poor Harry had to live with his mother in law most of his adult life, who wouldn't let him sit at the head of the table, stay in the master bedroom, or display any of his treasures from the White House, even after he had been President of the United States. That's one difficult MIL.


My favorite part was the kitchen where Harry decided to put wallpaper on the ceiling, as well as the walls, because he liked the pattern so much!

Afterwards, we stopped for an ice cream at Clinton's Soda Shop where Harry Truman had his first job. Here's Jeff, making his "if you're going to take a picture of me I am going to try and look as dumb as possible so you quit trying to photograph me" face. I hate it when he does this:



Seriously. He looks like the grumpiest man in the world. But I love him anyway.

It was so nice to be away, just the two of us. I am always nervous to leave the kids, but I am always a better mom for it when I return. I wish we could get away, if only for a quick weekend, more often. But alas! The joys of having three kids, a job, and a husband with a REALLY busy work schedule make that impossible. We appreciate it all the more though when it happens. It was a great way to wrap up the summer.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

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