Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Anything Can Happen

I wanted to regale you with my resolutions and how it would take something of a revolution for me to stick to those I (should) make. I think instead of resolutions mine should be called "challenges to myself." I have the usual ones: exercise more and eat healthier. I have the mommy-specific ones: get the baby books up-to-date and write in the boys' journals on a regular basis. Let us just say, there are lots of things on my to-do/resolution/life's work lists! However, I am enjoying the Curious George movie with all my boys tonight, so I'll just leave you with one challenge I really want to meet this year: make pajamas for all four of us to wear next Christmas! Also, this great Shel Silverstein poem that I want to make my mantra for 2009:

Listen to the mustn'ts, child.
Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me...
Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.

Here's hoping for and wishing you a happy and healthy 2009!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Questions

1. Egg nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa just fills the stockings at our house; we don't put much emphasis on Santa. In fact, when W's PT asked H if Santa was going to bring him some presents, he replied, "Well, we wrap our presents." The reason for not emphasizing Santa is twofold. One, I want my children to focus on the true reason and spirit of Christmas. Two, I want them to know that Mommy and Daddy work hard so that they can get presents. If it wasn't for the good music and books that include Santa, we probably wouldn't do it at all, but I am a sucker for Twas the Night Before Christmas. Below is the response to this question from another blogger that I got this little question list from. I love, love, love her response!

We don't do Santa at our house. We want to be sure that we are telling our kids the truth and that we are celebrating the real reason for the season. If our children are to believe in a man that they cannot see, I want it to be Jesus! However, we told our daughter that people like to "pretend" about Santa at Christmastime and she said she wants to pretend, too. Pretending is fun and that is fine with us! But the presents are from mommy and daddy. We get the credit for that!

Please no hating on me about Santa. It doesn't bother me at all that others do Santa stuff. My brother is almost a decade older than me, so I think that's partly why I was never that into Santa as a kid. Not to mention my mom is not a secret-keeper or much of a surprise-giver.

3. Colored lights or white? White. In fact, my mom gave us her old artificial tree this year (the first time I've ever had an artificial tree, terrible, I'm a real-tree girl all the way), anyway, it is pre-lit with colored lights. That will not do, so I put our white lights on it, and didn't plug in the pre-lit ones. Also, I really like putting the lights on because my dad always checked the lights. It makes me think of him. What can I say? Down with artificial trees!

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, maybe when the children are older (isn't that stuff poisonous?)

5. When do you put your decorations up? Either the Friday or the weekend after Thanksgiving.

6. Favorite holiday dish? Sausage balls, macaroni and cheese "pie" (as my dad called it), deviled eggs!

7. Favorite childhood memory? Wrapping presents with my grandmother and the year my dad decided we were going to have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

8. When/how did you learn the truth about Santa? I think I just sort of figured it out (see #2 above).

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? As a child, I could open one gift on Christmas Eve. Now, we open gifts with my mom on Christmas Eve. This year, I am going to let the boys open one (their matching red Thomas pajamas, so they can have them on for Christmas morning pictures!)

10. How do you decorate the tree? I am a bit of a tree hog (maybe not as bad as Kate). See #3 for the light situation. I put on the lights, then unwrap and unbox the ornaments and hang those, and I have the star we used at my dad's house. I let H help hang some of his ornaments (several John Deere/tractor ones).

11. Snow. Love it or dread it? Love it, usually.

12. Can you ice skate? Yes, the last time I tried, and that was a looong time ago.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? It might be this year's, check back after Christmas :) But a favorite from the past was all of Jane Austen's completed novels in hardback!

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays to you? Being with my family, doing things that will give my children good memories, and making sure my children know the real reason for celebrating.

15. Favorite holiday dessert? My mom's Fresh Apple Cake.

16. Favorite Christmas Tradition? Going to Christmas Eve church services (haven't done that in a couple of years), watching A Charlie Brown Christmas with my boys, and before he passed away, hearing my dad say, "I hate Christmas, I hate Christmas, I. Hate. Christmas." What can I say, I'm a bit twisted.

17. What tops your tree? The gold-garlanded, color-lights star that was always on our tree at my dad's.

18. Do you prefer giving or receiving? I love giving to my kids, and who doesn't enjoy receiving?

19. Favorite Christmas song? "What Child is This"

20. Candy canes. Yum or yuck? I'll eat them, but they're not my favorite.

21. What do you want for Christmas? Can someone give the gift of sleep and/or more time?

22. Do you attend an annual Christmas party? No, seems a bit sad, but really, I'm probably glad.

23. Do you dress up for Christmas Eve or wear P.J.'s? We usually go to my mom's, but it's not dressy (but not pj casual either, I wish it was!)

24. Do you own a Santa hat? Yes, we wore them in parades when I was in band in high school. I wear it when I'm decorating the tree.

25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with? Christmas morning and lunch is reserved for just the four of us. Then, my mom and step-dad usually come over as well as my MIL later in the day.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Letters (Hoochee Book Club)

Chattahoochee Mama decided to start an online book club, and you know me, I always enjoy reading and discussing books. So, the first ever Hoochee Book Club pick was The Letters by Luanne Rice and Joseph Monninger. The story is told through a series of letters sent between an estranged husband and wife (Sam and Hadley) who are dealing with the loss of their only child (Paul).


I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read and freely admit to loving the letter format. I do believe that for some it is easier to express emotions in writing rather than verbally (I am one of those). In Hadley and Sam's situation, this is particularly true as they are wary of revealing too much of their selves, their vulnerability.

Sometimes while reading, I questioned which author was writing. Did Rice only write Hadley's letters to Sam? Some parts of Sam's letters seemed to express emotions in a way that I found hard to believe a man could write. I am not saying it's impossible; I'm familiar with Shakespeare. Still, from a letter dated November 18 "...when I came back you were there at the campsite, and the sun was behind you, and you didn't see me for a second and I watched how beautifully you moved, how you had such purpose and calm, and you had cut an enormous bouquet of black-eyed Susans and arranged them in an old coffee tin sitting on the table. You had collected the flowers for no other reason except that you appreciated beauty, just beauty, and returning to you that way, coming toward the camp, I felt out of breath at the sight of you." (Cue the Take My Breath Away song from Top Gun... watching in slow motion...). I have known men who have had thoughts like this, but I think they are probably few and far between. Hadley did mention that "Other women complain their husbands don't talk; that was never the case with Sam." So, perhaps he was just meant to be characterized as one of the few. Still, it would be interesting to know how the writing collaboration was done.

The characters were very real to me, especially Hadley (probably because I am a woman and mother). When she writes about going to the Abbey in Kentucky and feeling that a monk "who'd felt the pull of desire...would understand a young mother who adored her husband and son more than air and sunshine, yet needed to escape those bonds for a time," I was thinking, "Write it, sister, Amen!" Sam, when writing about dog sledding, really hit on a feeling that I think a lot of people have: "It is all next. It is some sort of perfidious human desire to never be where we are, but to be next, to be the next minute forward, to escape the present." I don't know about escaping the present, but I am guilty of thinking if I can just get this done, then I'll be able to relax or do more with the kids. Even Paul's character was developed enough for me to sort of picture him. I guess my point is that if a character's thoughts connect with or reiterate my own, that's a real character to me.

I did think it was cliche-ish that Hadley suddenly "got religion" when she wanted to believe her son was really alive. That sort of bothered me. In fact, the whole Hadley-falling-for-the-pilot's- widow's-story bothered me. I guess I could have done without that whole part of the book. I see that the authors wanted Hadley to have her own "trip to the truth," her moment of actualization just as Sam did in going to the crash site, but I would have been fine with Hadley going through it all via reading the letters and being in her island house and painting again.

One odd little thing I noticed (probably because it is so close to Christmas) was on the next to the last page Hadley is writing to Sam "when I return to Anchorage tomorrow morning. Abbot Fredric said there is a predawn ferry, for the residents who work in town, and I will be on it." Then, at the end of this same letter (and the end of the book) she ends with "It's Christmas Eve." So, I must ask does the ferry run on Christmas? Maybe it does, some places are open on Christmas, right? Are there Blockbusters in Alaska?

So, those are my thoughts on The Letters. I thought it was a perfect book choice for this time of year with the book's last letter being written on Christmas Eve and its look at the bonds of family and their strength, especially enduring a loss. I am looking forward to finding out what will be next for the Hoochee Book Club (and, PS, don't you love the book club name?).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bandanna Fun

I just wanted to post links to two neat projects for bandannas. I found turquoise, lime green, and black bandannas at Target this past summer, and I know WalMart has had red and navy blue ones in the past.

For the girls: V and Co. has a great bandanna skirt tutorial with helpful pictures!

For the boys and the girls: Blue Yonder has a cute bandanna shorts tutorial also with instructive pictures for those of us who really need it :)

I've been a shopping, reading fool this week (I'll try to explain the reading in a later post).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Cards Have Been Sent

One thing down (Christmas cards mailed), what seems like a zillion to go... I am still here just trying to finish Christmas shopping. I don't think it's going to happen. Poor C may only get one gift this year. I don't have any great ideas for him, and it's really hard to get out to shop even though my poor mom has been coming over every afternoon to help. Thanks to everyone for their prayers and concern for W. He is doing well, although it seems that we all have a cold and of course, I am worried about infection in him as he just had surgery. We are going to be praying and hoping REALLY hard for a very healthy new year.

Back to the gifts, though, I have no ideas. We had planned to order family pictures, and I was hoping to give my mom one as part of her gift. We missed our appointment with the photographer due to our stay in the hospital! I feel so bad. How can I not have good ideas for people I see every day?!? My dad was so good about thinking of gift ideas or picking up on small things folks mentioned they'd like to have. Apparently, I didn't get that gene! I am very excited about the boys' gifts though and love seeing the packages arrive from good ole Amazon.com. I like to "try out" some of the little ones' toys, just to be sure they're safe and all :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Seven Things About Me



Finally, I do the meme. Anastasia tagged me, so here goes.

1) I love Scooby-Doo, L.O.V.E. it. I detest Scrappy-Doo, he signaled the beginning of the end for this beloved cartoon. I've been known to say to C, "Shaggy, you know I can't see without my glasses, Shaggy!" I also share some of Daphne's downfalls (ever heard her referred to as Danger-Prone Daphne?)

2) I have never watched an episode of Lost or Grey's Anatomy, and I've only seen one episode of The Office.

3) Until 2006, I had never tasted taco salad or chicken salad. Now, they are two of my favorite things to eat (C's taco salad is the best, I think taco salad made at home is way better than a restaurant's).

4) I learned to whistle at the ripe old age of twenty-one (yes, really).

5) When driving in terrible traffic, I like to listen to Eminem. Um, let's just say I have a bit of road rage.

6) I know the Japanese words for right, left, straight ahead, and be careful. I use them pretty often.

7) My husband's first Christmas gift to me was a motorcycle helmet (he wasn't my husband then). Does that make me seem a little more adventurous or bad a#$? I feel kind of boring.

Oh well, I know I am not the most adventurous gal. Also, I wanted to try to pick seven things Mel didn't know! I'm not going to tag anyone, mostly because I don't think I know seven more bloggers well enough to tag =)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and to say I am thankful for all my friends out here in the blogosphere. I have much to be thankful for, with faith, family, friends, and health topping the list.

I recently had a "restoring my faith in humanity" incident and thought it might be a good one to share this holiday. I inherited my father's house and sold it in the spring. When we closed on the house, the lawyer wasn't sure how to split the property taxes, so they were just split in half with the instructions to buyer and seller (me) to check our taxes and contact each other about any discrepancy. I was pretty sure I was over paying, but I was so happy to sell the house, I didn't want to bicker. A few weeks ago, one of the buyers contacted me to tell me she would be sending the check for what I overpaid. I knew they seemed like nice, honest people, and they really are. The wife called me and chatted with me about the changes taking place in that neighborhood and what changes they had made in the house. She invited me to call any time I am over that way and come by to see the house. I do hope to see it one day soon. Anyway, I love knowing there are "just good people" in the world. It's another reason to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Coming Attractions: Anastasia has tagged me, and I am challenging myself to think of seven things even Mel doesn't know about me! So check back for that ;)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Wife

I just finished reading The Wife by Meg Wolitzer. You may remember that I didn't think much of another book by Wolitzer (The Ten-Year Nap), but I enjoyed The Wife. I do find her writing a bit slow, but still, I would recommend it. It's also a pretty quick read (a little over two hundred pages). The book flap mentions a surprise that I guessed pretty early on, but even being pretty sure of this "surprise," I found the book interesting and thoughtfully written. I even think I saw some literary tools in it (like character names that reveal character traits). The wife in The Wife is Joan who has been married to the famous novelist, Joe, for thirty something years. The couple have many other "novelist couple" friends, and it seems that being the wife of a novelist is a career unto itself. I believe they were newlyweds in the early 1960's, just to give a time frame, and all the novelist husbands are philanderers to say the least. It is an interesting look at the differences between comfort and contentment, love and need. I remember in high school a question that went around, "Do you love me because you need me, or need me because you love me?" A word of warning: it may make you a bit of a man-hater (at least while you are reading). My newly-wed friend was planning to take this book with her on her honeymoon as we have book club the week after she returns. I sincerely hope she only reads it on the plane, maybe only on the way home!

It was serendipitous that I was reading this book right when this post was written by Anastasia discussing raising sons and the division of labor between genders. In The Wife, and, it seems, also in life, boys and the men they become are given a bit of a pass from certain duties or rules just because they are male. Why is that? Do women prop this up with our seemingly unending guilt? You know, mommy-guilt, wife-guilt, professional-guilt, house-keeping-guilt, contributing to society-guilt, I could go on... like a blister in the sun, but I need to go play some indoor basketball with my boys.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wedding Weekend Wrap-up

Before I tell a bit about the weekend, let me first tell you what I am doing right now: having some hot chocolate while some muffins cook in the oven (just from a mix, not from scratch or anything), W is napping, H is at school, and I am enjoying myself :) Love it! It's turned quite cold today. I am not much of a cold weather girl.

So, I will start my weekend run-down with Friday lunch time. H and I met Mel and her husband for lunch at a favorite local pizza place. First on the agenda was giving Mel and her husband this...

I knitted it! I've been keeping my knitting skills (which are still limited) a secret, because I really wanted to surprise them. Since they are Clemson fans and are not finding out the baby's gender, I decided to use Clemson colors. This little hat is easy because you don't have to knit in the round; it's just a flat piece that is seamed. For some reason, at first, "knitting in the round" sounded so scary to me, but after reading about it and talking to the gal at the yarn shop, I'm ready to try it on a new project (maybe a hat for H). This little hat was my second project. My first was this scarf.



The first picture shows the detail of the edges and ends. I didn't block it, so when I wear it, it looks like the second picture (all rolled up). I felt like it was a bit too wide, which is why I let it roll up rather than blocking it, so it would lie flat. Knitting is a bit addictive (at least for me). I really want to sew more, but knitting is more portable and requires less prep work. I can knit while sitting on the floor with the boys :)

So, we enjoyed our pizza lunch. I didn't get to eat as much as I would have liked, but that's probably because I was too busy chatting! Mel brought two of her latest sewing projects so I could check them out. You can check out her projects here. She's a more talented sewer than me, for sure.

Saturday was the bridal brunch bright and early! It was very nice, and the bride made us all tear up with a heart-felt speech. Each attendee got a great cookbook, bread basket, and hand-sewn cloth to go in our bread baskets! I thought the bread basket and cloths were a great idea. We also wrote on quilt squares that the bride's aunt is making into a quilted wall-hanging for the bride.
The wedding was at 5:00, and I ended up wearing a light blue sweater and long black skirt. It seemed appropriate and in line with what others were wearing. Both grandmothers were baby-sitting which allowed me to relax about as much as I can when I'm not with the boys. The reception allowed me to catch up with some friends, but we stayed out too late (I'm scared to tell the time because everyone will laugh at just how early it really was). Still, it was too late for me, because I spent all day Sunday wishing I could cuddle up with a blanket on the couch and watch football. I finally did get a nap Sunday afternoon and then hustled to CVS to use my 25% off coupon. My tiredness carried over to Monday, but I seem to be back to my usual self today. I'm sure there's much more to tell, but I need to get moving. This post may have started with hot chocolate and muffins in the morning, but now it's almost dark out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shopping Daze

The couple I helped host a shower for a few weeks back is getting married this weekend. So, I spent some time shopping on Wednesday. It was not fun. I do not like to shop for clothes or spend money on clothes (except for comfortable jeans or shirts, you know the things that I will really wear and get my money's worth). The wedding is at 5:00, so I've struggled with how dressy my clothing should be. After all the time I spent looking, I'm starting to think I'll just go with a skirt and sweater I already have. I did find one pair of jeans (at Old Navy, no less, can you believe it?) and also a pair of khaki corduroys (also at ON). Yeeha! I haven't had khaki cords that fit since my first child was born! So this is why I haven't had much chance to write here or comment or even read my favorite blogs. I do hope to have a good time at the wedding as several of my long time friends will be there, as well as the women from my book club. When I say good time, I really mean, talking, chatting, catching up with people I love!

I also wanted to be sure to mention the Target re-tote offer (you don't have to have the People magazine they mention). I always have a lot of bags from Target around, so I will definitely take advantage of this and hope to not have so many around and help the environment.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Will I Ever...

1) stop talking about that birthday party? Well, maybe soon, but I did want to say that in my craftiness frenzy, I decided to make something for the birthday girl! A headband! I found a fairly simple, quick tutorial here. So, after a few issues with back-stitching that required the use of the seam ripper, I got it looking pretty good.






Good enough to consider making it a part of a gift! Then, I tried it on H's head. (Hey, I needed a toddler-sized head :) He said it was too tight. I got C to take a look, he agreed, too small. Aargh! I had cut the fabric length halfway between the toddler and child size measurements. I could have remedied this with a bigger hair elastic thing, but of course, I don't have any bigger ones on hand. I couldn't make another headband or go shop for a bigger hair elastic thing, because, I like to leave these things to the last minute, you know the morning before the party! Oh well, one of these days, (begin dream sequence music) we'll get invited to another little gal's party, and I'll be on the ball. I'll make a great headband. The little girl will pull out the headband, and say, "It's so pretty," and I'll smile and say, "I made it" while the other moms ooh and aah. Then, they'll tell all their friends, and I'll have an etsy store - huh? Oh where was I? Back to will I ever...


2) buy a new sewing machine? I'm one of those people who cannot make a decision without agonizing over it, rethinking it, changing my mind, bugging those close to me about their opinions, and the like. So after working on the headband, I realized that my aunt was probably correct when she said she'd never liked this old Kenmore because it never did what she wanted it to do. Well, it's not that bad, but I think there could be some feeding issues, particularly when I attempt to back-stitch. Sometimes, it just seems to sit there (i.e., not back up). I still worry some that it may be OE and would like to get my aunt over to check it out. Still, overall, it would probably be best to get a new machine. This one is about 35 years old, and after using a Bernina in sewing classes, I'm just spoiled. Maybe too spoiled to not have an electronic machine. My dilemma is whether to go whole hog and buy a pricey Bernina or get something less expensive until I see whether I really will stick with the sewing. If I do get something less expensive, which one? Trying to make that decision is enough to push me toward the Bernina. I saw one comment on a sewing forum that said "if you bought the Bernina 220 (the machine I used in class), you'd probably never have to buy another sewing machine." Decisions, decisions! I am so not good with decisions! At least, I know what I'll most likely be asking for at Christmas time :)
I put two pictures beside each other! Hooray!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Life Lessons from a Glowstick

At the birthday party H attended this past weekend, they got a bag of favors. One of the favors was a glowstick. One of the children's father turned off the lights briefly for the children to see the glowsticks in action. When the lights came back on, H looked at me and said, "Birthday girl is the best for giving this to me!" He was very impressed with the glowstick. He carried it out to the car, noticing the glow. He kept it right beside him in his car seat on the ride home. He showed it to Daddy and his little brother when he arrived home. He took it in his room at bedtime and placed it on his dresser. I put it on my dresser before I went to sleep. The next morning H asked, "Where is my glowstick?" I gave it to him explaining that it would no longer glow in the dark as they only last so long. He looked at it, took it to the bathroom (where it was dark) to check it out, then came back to me, "Mommy, but I really wish glowsticks would last forever," in a sweet little voice. So, self-help-book-reading mommy that I am, I saw a "teachable moment." I explained that some things that are really fun or beautiful only last for a given period of time: a flower, a perfect-weather day, a yummy snack, so we should really enjoy those types of things when we can, knowing they will soon be gone. This was a good lesson for me as well, right? Live in the moment, put down that iPhone, stop worrying about what you can't change. After all this waxing somewhat poetic, H repeated, "I really wish glowsticks would last forever." I get an A for effort, right?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Overheard at a Birthday Party

Yesterday, I took H to a birthday party for one of his classmates from preschool. While the children were enjoying cake, I heard one of the other moms say to another,

"I didn't realize they are out of school both days next week. My mom is coming to visit, and when I realized they didn't have school, I told her, thank goodness you're coming."

So, here's the thing. I don't feel that way about preschool. AT. ALL. In fact, I feel almost the opposite. Getting H ready and to preschool on time two days a week is much harder than hanging out at home. Trying to get W a good nap before leaving to pick H up again, that's tough. (The mom who was saying this has another little one who I don't think is in preschool or MMO as she looks less than a year old). H's preschool is 9-12. I am usually one of the first folks in line for pick up, because I try to get home in time to get lunch ready at a normal time for everyone. Of course, there's also my germophobia that comes in to play too. I know H is there with all the other children, learning in an environment I can't provide at home, sharing with other children, learning to follow classroom rules and such, but there is always that thought of all those germs. Don't get me wrong. I am so proud of H for learning to go to the potty at school. I love hearing about what he did at school, seeing what he made, but I don't see it as much of a time for me to get things done. While it does provide me with maybe an hour and a half at home while W sleeps, it also requires a lot of getting ready and driving to and fro. It's just interesting to me to know how people in similar situations can view things so differently.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Without Further Ado... Project Two Completed

My second completed project (I finally got the button on).



The handles...








This is a shot of the inside lining and pocket (I couldn't get a good shot of this without my hand

being in the picture, too).




I cropped that last photo in PhotoShop all on my own! C, now that you see the cropped version, are you still impressed?

I love the fabrics, but I think of something a bit larger when I hear "tote." I really would like to try to play with the dimensions and make it bigger. However, for me, it might be better to find a novice-level pattern. There are several more projects I want to get busy on, but I need to get to a sewing supply store before I can get very far with anything. I am considering packing the boys up in the car and going today or tomorrow. It's not so easy taking them to the sewing supply store, but maybe I can swing it. The weekend is getting quickly booked up with haircut trips, a birthday party, and the like, so I'm pretty sure today or tomorrow may be my best bet.

We loved watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. H laughed out loud at Linus struggling with the big pumpkin at the beginning. Our whole family was snuggled up on the couch watching together by the end of the show. Now that's a Halloween treat!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

From Blue Lagoon to Routan Boom

Am I the only person who finds the Routan Boom ad campaign, um, strange? It’s not really offensive or necessarily disturbing; it’s just odd. Maybe that’s Volkswagen’s diabolical, reverse psychology plan? It wouldn’t be quite so weird if they had not chosen Brooke Shields to be their spokesperson. That she agreed to appear and say the words in the ads seems out of character to me. See, when I think of her, first, of course, I think Blue Lagoon. Then, I think of the whole anti-depressant spat with Tom Cruise. This is a woman I admire for writing Down Came the Rain (I haven’t read it, but I’d like to, love the title, too). I love that she spoke up and said PPD is real and needs to be treated, in some cases with meds. I have been blessed to have okay postpartum experiences, but I also know that those first few months with a newborn can be very trying. I can see how PPD develops in some. So, back to the point, I find it surprising that this same Brooke Shields would sort of poke fun at becoming parents “just to get a VW Routan.” That she would say, “Have a baby for love, not out of a desire for German engineering” (or something like that). I have to admit every time I see one of the ads on television, I have this sort of uneasy feeling come over me. I question, is this really a good idea for Volkswagen?. Not that I own any stock in Volkswagen, but it just doesn’t feel right to me. IMO, they should be focusing on the great color choices they offer on their automobiles. I have to hand it to the German auto-makers, their car colors are tops (ooh, how I love that dark navy blue of a BMW or the silvery blue of a Mercedes). So, am I the only one?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

A few posts back, I mentioned that we read this book when Halloween is coming. I just saw that it's being shown on ABC Tuesday October 28 at 8:00 Eastern/7:00 Central. Charlie Brown is definitely not PC (there's a lot of blockheads, stupids, etc.), but we like it! So thought I'd put it up here in case anyone was interested in tuning in!

Friday, October 24, 2008

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

First, let me explain what's been going on with me. I've been sleeping on the couch. Don't worry there's no trouble in paradise, but there are some germs! H started with a sore throat and coughing last Thursday evening (while I was at sewing class, the minute I walk away, the germs must make their move), then W started sniffling Sunday evening, and last, but by no means the least sick, C started feeling bad Tuesday. So, it's been sick house around here (again). Luckily, H and C seem to be mostly better, and W is just still battling a runny nose. Thankfully, everyone slept well last night. I didn't have to get up to give W his pacifier at all! Hooray! The night before was another story altogether. Of course, H said his ear hurt tonight. More to worry about. Every time I ponder a third child, I also question whether I could handle worrying about another one. I know worrying is useless, and if someone could tell me how to push the off button on my worry, I'd be more than happy to give it a try.

I got a new Cookie magazine in the mail today. It's stressing me out a bit. I usually devour my Wonder Time magazine in just a few days. This month, not so much. Cookie? I'm like two and a half issues behind. If I don't read them, I feel like I wasted my money, made a bad decision (oohh the guilt). I'm still pushing through Making Your Children Mind Without Losing Yours. So, who am I blaming? It's the phone, the iPhone, I tell you! I can't put the little handy dandy thing down. Getting W to sleep at nap time? Use the iPhone to browse some blogs. Letting H play in the bath before getting out? Check emails and reply (really browse some more blogs). If only it were easier to comment on blogs and post to this one with the iPhone, then I'd be a bit more productive. I am getting better at commenting from it. It seems the only thing that can make me put down the iPhone is a fiction book. I really am going to have to put the thing in time out (as someone commented at Eat, Play, Love). We really do need to do some serious scheduling in this family.

This is where the dream part of my title comes in, but maybe it can be more than a dream. The boys need to go to bed earlier. Sometimes it's apparent that H should be in bed as he becomes so whiny and irritable. It is just a matter of getting my and C's behinds in gear to get H to bed earlier. Feed him, get him in pjs, do the normal routine, just earlier. W is going to be a bit more of a challenge. He is still taking two naps a day (H did until 18 months), but W's PT has expressed surprise that he's still taking two naps. Not sure if I can expect much before we go to one nap a day. I also have to buckle down and make a weekly menu and grocery shop for it. Right now, my grocery shopping is often haphazard (meaning I don't have a set day, my dad shopped every Saturday morning, why don't I do that?). There's more, but I better get to bed. And, honestly, my thoughts as I drift off to sleep after saying my prayers are of sewing and knitting projects I want to do. There's colorful yarn and glorious fabrics playing before my eyes. No scheduling happening in those dreams.

Just a couple of cute things. W has offered his PT a kiss goodbye on her past two visits, isn't that the sweetest? He also behaved wonderfully during his haircut this week. H used some of his wooden train track to make a track for W and gave him a couple of trains to play with. I told him that was nice of him to share with his brother. He said, "Yes, it is nice, and maybe he won't tear up my track if I let him have his own." Always thinking that little guy :)


Note: I responded to the comments on Meltdown Makers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Meltdown Makers

I thought it might make some of you laugh (and possibly disturb others) to see a list of what makes my three-and-a-half-year-old have meltdowns.

1) Putting on socks and shoes. The socks feel funny. The shoes are too tight and too loose (sometimes at the same time).

2) Clothes in general. He doesn't want to wear that shirt or those pants. The pants are too loose or too tight (sometimes at the same time).

3) How far his chair is pushed in at the table (it's too close, too far away- sometimes at the same time).

4) The towel in aforementioned chair has the slightest wrinkle in it. It must be fixed. Note: The towel is there in a fruitless attempt to keep my dining-room chairs cleaned. Really we should just get rid of the towel and save ourselves a few tantrums.

5) His car seat straps are too loose or too tight (sometimes at the same time). Also, a piece of fabric that his back touches when he's in the car seat is ever so slightly wrinkled.

6) There is too much or too little juice in his glass (sometimes at the same time).

Those are the main reasons for our battles these days. As you can see from the repetition of the theme "sometimes at the same time," this seems to be more of a test of wills to see who is in charge. However, we do sometimes get a bit worried that he may have some OCD tendencies. Of course, his grandfather (my dad) had folding undershirts, towels (heck, all laundry) down to an art form. When my dad was sick, and I did laundry, he pretty much left the room rather than watch my pitiful attempts at folding! Maybe he gets some of this honest, but it still drives me and C a bit crazy some days. I try to see the humor in some of it and remember, I am in charge. So what makes your children become the Tasmanian Devil?

Friday, October 17, 2008

I won at MOPS!



By guessing the number of pumpkin candies in this


I won these
at this month's MOPS meeting! It's a cute Halloween bowl filled with some candy, a candle holder, and a small pumpkin. I was so excited, because I actually used my Sid the Science Kid estimation skills to guess the number of pumpkin candies in the jar! C laughs at me, but I think I learn almost as much as H watching Sid and also Zula Patrol. We also tie-dyed shirts for our children and made a cute "build a pumpkin" game at MOPS. I'll try to post pictures of the shirts when I complete them (I need to add pumpkin eyes, nose, and mouth with fabric or fabric paint). The best part of MOPS (for me) is just talking to other moms and laughing and commiserating about some of our shared trials and joys.

I spent most of Wednesday sewing at home on my old Kenmore (it was my grandmother's). I was making a little zip pouch, and it did not turn out so well. The zipper foot for this machine is not easy to use, and I had to keep re-setting the pressure on the presser foot to get the material to feed. I even took the presser foot to sewing class to ask the teacher. She looked at the zipper foot, mentioned it might be for an invisible zipper, and shook her head. I'm thinking that's not a good sign. I am thinking of asking my aunt to come over and give the Kenmore a test drive. She is an avid sewer and could give me an opinion. I am still trying to figure out exactly how old the machine is... I have the model and serial numbers but still haven't found an internet site to tell me the age. Anyway, I refuse to spend money on a new machine until I know I am going to stick with sewing. So, I am going to try to work on a tote here at home that doesn't have any zippers! (The Kenmore seems to do everything else pretty well without any "feeding" problems!) I did finish another purse at sewing class last night, but I don't have the button to sew on yet. I will post a picture when I get the button on there. My next project is pajama bottoms! Mel and I met up at a really big fabric store earlier in the week. Wow, it's a bit overwhelming to have so many fabrics to choose from (poor Mel, Indecisive could be my middle name), but so inspiring to see ALL those fabrics. Thanks for meeting me, Mel.

In other news, W and H got their flu shots today, C got his yesterday, and I have to find out when they are giving them at our family doctor so I can get mine! We are hoping to go an Apple Festival tomorrow, but H seems to be getting a cold. We'll have to see how everyone is feeling. Also, I know I am behind on blogging about the books I've read and need to do those. Last weekend, I helped host a couples shower for a dear friend who is getting married next month. It was fun and held very close to our house, so we weren't out too late. I forget how much I enjoy socializing :) C came home before me and told H I was helping clean up the club house where the shower was held. So, when I came in, H asked, "Mommy, did you have fun cleaning up the club?" He's keeping us hopping with questions about the Milky Way galaxy (see Zula Patrol above). W has his two top front teeth, two bottom front teeth, and his left eye tooth and now his molars are coming through on top and bottom. Is that crazy that he doesn't have all the other teeth in between? I can't believe I forgot to ask the doctor about the teeth when we got the flu shots! Wow, the boys have been great letting me type this. Of course, Super Why was on the telly ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Autumn Views



These are the trees I see from my kitchen window. Unfortunately, I'm still a bit leery of staying outside for very long because of our allergies. Hoping that some recent rain will have washed some of the pollen away. Below is a perfect little seat that one of the dogwoods makes. I can just picture a young woman in a white dress sitting on it (think Anne of Green Gables times).







Excitement! I just figured out how to move a picture a bit (we'll see if it lasts when I publish this post).

I have recently re-discovered that I really enjoy creating. I have been taking a sewing course, and we made this small bag/purse.





I hung it on a tree limb as they do in department store ads. I decided I better post a picture or all the sewing bloggers I've been visiting won't believe I've ever sewn a thing. It's far from perfect, but the evening I got home after making it, I had this creative adrenaline rush. I wasn't sleepy; I was jazzed. So, if one little bag can make me feel so energized and, well, just plain good, what would it be like if I could find (make) the time to create more often? We'll see if I can really do it, after I stop taking the classes (where I have a dedicated time and place to sew).



Finally, sometimes my mind's eye puts a picture to verse. While walking with H this morning, I snapped this with my iPhone...




H was wearing his binoculars, because it is "a perfect day for bird-watching." When I saw our shadows holding hands, I just prayed, "Thank you, God, thank you, God, thank you God." It made me think of Emily Dickinson's

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –


So thankful for my precious boys and beautiful days spent with them. Below is the rest of the poem.

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October = Halloween

I have one excited big brother on my hands this morning. We put out a few Halloween decorations we have including a plug-in pumpkin, Halloween-themed dish towels, and the like. H is really pumped about Halloween this year. He is going to be a dinosaur (a T-rex), and my little guy is going to be a lion (thank you to S of the three sons for the hand-me-down lion costume- it's new to us!) We'll go to the pumpkin patch in a few weeks for a pumpkin to carve and a couple of small pumpkins to decorate the table. We usually get some great pictures of the boys at the pumpkin patch. I can't wait to put them in jeans and Halloween shirts (that will just be a black shirt for H most likely). I am even thinking of trying to find some Halloween fabric to make a little something to hang on a door (I always have grand plans :)

Another treat that I am going to discuss with C is taking H and W to a local apple orchard for a festival they have in a few weeks. It has hayrides with tractors, and if it has tractors, H is in! The weather is so beautiful, but both H and I are plagued with seasonal allergies that seem to be bothering our eyes right now despite allergy medicines. Sometimes the best help for H's itchy eyes is a damp cloth. We are looking forward to some fun outdoor time now that it's starting to really feel like autumn.

I forgot to add that we just got out my old read-along-with-a-record (some of you youngsters may not know what these are) copy of It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. H loves it, and we get to anticipate watching the original on the telly in a few weeks!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thanks, I Needed That... and Still Do

My darling husband brought these to me last evening. Wasn't that sweet? I was having a bit of a day. W's re-circumcision continues to be a pain (mostly figuratively now). C and I still haven't had time to sit down and place our Amazon book order (partly b/c I had a terrible headache yesterday). I get so frustrated that my to-do list never gets done... whine, whine, whine. Get some cheese why don't ya? Today was going pretty well, and then I read the letters from H's preschool: chicken pox and foot and mouth have been spotted. This is enough to strike terror into the heart of any parent, but for germophobes, it's like a punch to the gut. So I needed these flowers.

In other news, I've been trying to stay a little more abreast of current news (you'll see my link to Politics4Moms). I'm waiting to see when they start blaming it all on the auditors... it usually happens. I need to go catch the end of Sid the Science Kid with H. So much to type, so little time :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A New Kid in Five Days - Part One

I haven't finished Have a New Kid By Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman, but I wanted to blog a little about it. First, let me say that I don't like the title, because I don't want a new kid. I love my H, but I would like him to listen and respond more easily, without threats and punishments and endless repeating of requests. Please don't think he's a "bad kid," he just has his moments and issues. IMO, a lot of the book's points make sense. I for one didn't want to hear this, but the author explains that a lot of the reason for a child's bad behavior is you, the parent. Does your child yell at you? You probably yell at him. Does he not behave well when you are out? Are you expecting him to behave well, or do you constantly remind him that he must behave before walking in a restaurant? Yikes! One of Dr. Leman's instructions is to "say it once and walk away." Believe it or not, I am finding that this actually works, not every single time but way more than expected. Another of his tenets is "do not get angry." This one is a hard one for me. I have a bit of a temper (and guess what? so do my children!) However, I am really trying hard on this one. I take a deep breath, do some inside-my-mind counting, and then respond not react (another of his tenets). Another of his points is to encourage children and not praise them, and honestly, I am not completely sure I get this one. He says not to tell them they are the greatest, but to say "Oh you did so and so. I know you've been working hard for that. I am proud of you. We need to tell Dad." I may just be a bit dense, but it doesn't completely make sense to me. It just seems a bit like splitting hairs. I understand emphasizing that they worked to do something and praising the effort and all. He also stresses to not make threats because they are often empty. Aha, finally I do something right as a parent; I generally follow through on my threats (which are usually taking a favorite toy away- not sure that works so well when you appear to be living in a Toys R Us thanks to the grandparents). I am not sure if I'll go full out with all of his teachings, but I do believe that to change my children, I am going to have to make some changes in myself. If you're feeling alone in your parenting struggles, have a piece of cake. I promise it made me feel better after a pre-bedtime cluster.

I Love a Deal




Today I went to a local consignment sale. The folks who put this one on also have one in the spring. I am always there for the clothes for the most part. One year I worked, so I could get a few items, and they had me moving pack and plays (those things are heavy)! Still, if you really want to get the good stuff that goes fast, working at or putting items in the sale is the way to go. I got H three button up shirts (one that I plan to use for the boys' Christmas picture), three pairs of jeans, khaki cords, navy blue cords, and some other pants! I spent around $50, not too bad! I know you all might be surprised I like to get things from consignment sales given my germ issues, but rest assured, the clothes are immediately washed and the clothes hangers are Lysoled! The button up is a great blue (although the picture light quality doesn't show it) and Nautica to boot (I could care less about name brands, but C thinks Nautica is good). Hooray for pictures! I love my iphone. Now, I don't have to know how to upload pictures from my camera, just use the iphone and email 'em to myself! I can tell I am getting to a certain age and time of my life as I ran into a couple of moms I know at the consignment sale (in the past I never recognized a soul).
C wants a book that is coming out soon and proposed an Amazon book order, so I am working on a list of books I want (should be able to get all of them used). I get so excited about ordering things. I am just like a child when I get something in the mail (that is not a bill or junk). You should see how excited I get about a magazine or thank you note! If you did, you'd know that a package is reason for real anticipation for me, and, if it's books, well, that's even better!
I am still on the hunt for some jeans and khakis. My friend SAW (who is a fashionista, the same age as me, but somehow seems much younger - no children or husband) has suggested Anthropology for khakis. Although, she is now a homeowner and also mentioned Target. I never can find time to try things on at Target. I am always rushing back home to relieve grandmother from baby-sitting. Also, I am an odd size. Meaning, the sizes at ON are even, and one size is too tight and the other I can pull off without unbuttoning! Craziness! I seriously must find jeans soon, can only wear the same pair so many times! So where do you buy jeans and/or khakis?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Review: The Ten Year Nap, It's Aptly Named

It's aptly named, because it could put one to sleep. I decided to check this book out because it received a good review in Parenting magazine (and I had to get on the wait list at the library). It's a close look at some mothers who have decided to be stay-at-home moms and how it has affected their self-worth, relationships, their life in general. There is an interesting premise with the main character becoming strangely involved in a fellow mom's life. However, that storyline sort of fizzles out. Some characters are under-developed while others are way over-developed. By the time I realized it really wasn't so interesting, I felt like I was too far into the book to stop, but I would not recommend it. IMO, it was slow, and one would really have to be interested in some minutiae of the thoughts of mothers in NYC to enjoy it. Our next book club pick is The Wife by the same author (Meg Wolitzer), so I am hoping that one will be better.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

C-Words and Mops

So, it's been awhile, but I've been busy with some things that start with C. First, circumcision. My poor little W had to be re-circumcised. (I know everyone doesn't believe in circumcision, but we did it, okay. Please don't fuss at me about it). He's a tough cookie, though, and seems to be trucking right along except for a reaction to another C word: codeine. I do not tolerate codeine well, but W seemed to be doing okay with it. Of course, he was dopey, but no rash or anything like that. Then, yesterday, on the way home from taking both boys to the doctor to be sure all they have are colds (yet another C), W throws up all over himself and his car seat. I promise you we were less than two minutes from home. If only I had driven a little faster. We are pretty sure it was a combination of the codeine laced Tylenol and riding in the car. So I now can say I know how to take a Car seat almost completely apart. Thankfully, my mom was with me and able to help get everyone and everything cleaned up. So, no more codeine for W. Let's hope the childen's Motrin can keep him happy. One of the reasons I decided to be sure they have just been dealing with colds is that a friend's son was hospitalized for two nights due to croup/bronchialitis. He is fine now, but I didn't want to risk the boys' colds developing into something more serious. I had believed H to be almost completely well on Monday, but that very night, he woke up coughing several times (coughs- another C-word).

A good C-word this week is cell phone. Due to my husband being a complete phone snob, he decided he must have the newest/latest/greatest iphone. So guess who got his old iphone? That's right, little old, technologically-challenged me! Checking blogs and email from your phone is awesome, addictive, and dangerous (when you really should be paying more attention to other things like driving).

In other news, I've joined a local MOPS group that is just starting its inaugural year. I went to the very first meeting this morning and really enjoyed myself. I think I am going to like it! Thanks to my friend S, who let me know about it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I'll Back You Up

This past weekend was book club. We discussed The Thirteenth Tale. It was a hit with everyone! Whilst there, I asked two of our members (both of who happen to be nurse practitioners and mothers) about the Meet the Teacher debacle. They totally backed me up! I was a bit surprised. I completely expected them to tell me that I am way over-protective, and H is too high-strung, but instead these ladies said I would have completely been correct in taking him with me to the director's brief meeting. They even thought the preschool should have forewarned the parents of the plan to have the children stay in the classrooms. These two women are not the type to pull their punches, so I feel so much better about it all. Not that it was that big of a deal, but I guess I like to feel like other intelligent women back me up. So, I want to say to H and W, I'll back you up, guys. That's my job as Mommy. I won't always be right, but I will always be trying to do what is right.

Two and Three

The number of days at preschool it takes for H to catch a cold? Two
The number of days it takes for W to catch H's cold? Three.
Seriously, two days. I'm taking medicine and drinking juice and Airborne. W is just pitiful. Poor little guy. The good news is that by day three, H seemed to feel pretty good just sniffly.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The First Day

Yesterday was H's first day at his new preschool, but before I get in to that, I'd like to take you all back to Friday, Meet the Teachers day at the new preschool. H and I walked in with a friend and her son who is only a few months older than H and is in his class. A little later, C arrived to meet the teachers, too. There are twelve children in the class, and the room seemed a bit cramped, particularly with all the parent and siblings in there too! H quickly spots a fire truck to play with and is happily pushing it around while Ms.K is telling us a bit about the activities they will do, how their day flows, what to put in their backpacks, etc. Then she mentions that while the parents go to meet with the director of the preschool, they want to try to keep the children in the classroom. Warning bells go off in my head before H even knows what she's proposing. Sure enough, when I tell him we're going to leave for just fifteen minutes or so, he's crying. Most of the children (who have never been in a preschool environment, remember H has been going to a Moms' Morning Out for a year and a half, although he's been out for the month of August), they're fine, a few, "no, mommy, don't goes," but they settle down. When I go back to get him, truly about fifteen minutes later, he's still doing the "I've been crying" sniffle-breath. Oh no! When I ask him in the car why he's so upset, he says, "he wanted to be with me." When I say, "But you knew Mommy was coming back and was only going to listen to someone talk for a little while." He responds, "But I didn't want you to go listen to someone talk."



So, here's the thing, I am sort of blaming myself. I had told him we were going to meet the teachers, that I would be WITH HIM, not that he would be staying in the class with the other children for a bit. When he started to get upset, I thought of saying, "I told him I would be with him, so I am just going to take him with me," but I was peer-pressured out of it by the other parents leaving their sons and daughters and by those same sons and daughters who were happily staying. I don't know if I did the right thing or not. I think if I had it to do over again, I would just take him with me. So, Labor Day weekend was spent reminding H about the first day of school, and how he's gone to school before, and he's my big, brave boy.



Cut to the night before the first day, I have trouble sleeping. Cut to the morning of, my stomach is in knots. I give him the option of the drop-off line or W and myself walking him in, he opts for the drop-off line (good, b/c it is a to-do to get W out of his car seat, plus when it gets cold outside, I really would rather do the drop-off line). He acts hesitant to get out of the car for the director for about fifteen seconds. Then, he gets out, and goes in to have a great first day! I am praying the next school day goes as well.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chik-Fil-A aka The Twilight Zone

On Labor Day, we went to Chik-Fil-A for some of the free chicken strips (if you were wearing a football team shirt). Hilariously, I had to wear a sweatshirt (we have no adult football t-shirts in this house), and the baby wore a team t-shirt. Anyway, the strips were not good, but H's nuggets tasted a little off, too. C says the seasoning was not the usual. So, we sit down to eat, and from behind me, I hear this woman's voice that sounds like Minnie Mouse. C referred to her as helium-girl. Then, an elderly man comes out of the restroom, and I notice he is walking sort of carefully. I sort of have a shot of sympathy run through me, as my dad became unsteady when he was sick. Then, as we are packing up our tray for C to take to the trash can, I hear a noise like a snore. C glances up and is trying not to laugh. It's the older man. He has set down at a table, propped his head on his hand, and is, apparently, asleep! I manage to keep H inside the booth with me until C comes back from the trash can. C is trying his best not to laugh, and I am okay until I see his face, struggling not to laugh. We manage to hold it together, despite H's getting a little too close to the older man's personal space and looking at him with interest. When we get out to the car, C explains that the man almost slid off his chair at one point. I am still a little concerned about the man, but when we drive past the windows as we're leaving, we can see he has switched chairs at his table and now has a drink, hopefully, something caffeinated. It was definitely like we'd left the normal realm, but, still, I would have felt a lot better if that older man had moved to a booth.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Art of Remembering

Isn’t it wonderful when someone remembers something about you? something small but specific? I have a friend whose mom gives her serseys (which, for her, are little gifts that she needs or wants like Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream (which is great stuff) or cute stationary). I always felt like the serseys she received were such a symbol of how well her mom knew her daughter, how closely she watched, listened, and remembered.

My brother has a fabulous memory (as did my father). My brother wrote my father a letter after we found out that my dad was sick. The letter detailed all the things my brother wanted to thank Daddy for doing for him over the years, even the smallest things like eating the raisins out of my brother's Little Debbie snacks. It was amazing all the little things he remembered our dad doing for him.

This week Mel and her hubby came over for pizza with me and the boys (C was in class, although he did get to eat some left over pizza). They brought me some mustard-flavored pretzels that are favorites of mine (Gardetto brand, if you are interested), and I cannot seem to find them at any of my local grocers. My friend has a talent for remembering, and I so appreciate it… but I am not as gifted in memory. For my bridesmaids, I added a small package of each one’s favorite candy to her gifts. I felt good about individualizing their gifts with something I remembered about each of them. Sometimes, I might see a little something that immediately calls to mind someone dear to me and think of getting it, but too many times I think “oh, they don’t need that” or “when will I even see them next to give them this?” Not so anymore! After the sense of delight those pretzels have given me, not just because they are tasty but because they are a gift of memory, I am going to try to become better at the art of remembering.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What If They Really Do Spoil Rotten?


W turned one a few weeks ago, so now we have even more toys to trip over =) While I am very appreciative of the gifts our children receive, the number of toys they have is really ridiculous. So I want to take a look at how all these toys have amassed. First, many of the guests at the birthday party brought a gift for my three year-old in addition to a gift for the birthday boy. I understand the thought process, and I guess I don’t really mind a small gift for the sibling(s) who is not celebrating a birthday. However, my mom brought H a real gift. Now, granted it is a pretty cool gift (that’s it in the picture), and both the boys enjoy playing with it. But, why? My MIL told my husband she was bringing a gift for H b/c she “didn’t want him to feel left out.” My husband reaction to this was “Isn’t that our job? To worry about whether or not he feels left out?” (He didn’t say this to her… oh that he would!) I have an older brother, and I don’t remember receiving gifts on his birthday. Is this just more of the consumerism everyone is talking about? It’s kind of like wedding favors. I told C, “The favor at our wedding is the free beer, wine, and food!” I know some may say favors are fun, and don’t get me wrong, I like them myself most of the time. But, I don’t like that people feel pressured to provide them.

Back to the mountain of toys, the other way we get them is from the grandmothers. For some reason, they do not believe they can visit without bringing a gift. For a time, my MIL did not show up without a balloon. Seriously. Neither one lives more than twenty minutes away, so it’s not like they only visit twice a year or something. Now, I know some of you are reading this and asking, have you talked to them about this? Yes, I have (at least my mom). It doesn’t work, and in fact, this is a big part of the reason I don’t ask her to come over more often. It makes me angry b/c both of my children love their grandparents without the toys. Why do they feel compelled to bring things, when the boys are just so happy to spend time with them? I know that many say grandparents are supposed to “spoil” their grandchildren, and I agree in a way. I want the boys to be “spoiled” with their grandparents’ time, and by that I mean, playing with them when they are here. My grandma always had my favorite lemon pound cake baked when we visited. My grandmother saved the bowl of batter for me when she made muffins (I’m sensing a food theme here). I honestly can’t say that I remember a gift they got for me, but I remember that they knew what I liked to eat and made it especially for me, they sewed with and for me, and gave lots of love and memories. So, please tell me how do I stop this constant gift-giving?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Water for Elephants

I had heard of Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, but I didn’t know what it was about. But when one of the members of book club offered it to me on loan, I took it. I am very glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Alas, I read ahead (again, I know, I know) and spoiled a neat twist the book offers. Still, I liked it a lot. I definitely would recommend it. My only warning would be that if you dislike circus-lore, it may not be for you. I would not describe myself as liking circus-lore, but I don’t dislike it. In fact, it was interesting to learn about Depression-era, traveling circuses. The story is told from the viewpoint of ninety-something Jacob, and this was one of my favorite parts of the book. I cracked up at some of his thoughts and rants. So, unless you have a clown phobia, I’d say read it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Use It or Lose It

The other day, I was emailing a friend and telling her W was commando crawling everywhere or every where? Is everywhere a word I asked myself? Not having time to check my dictionary, I played it safe with every where. Then, I noticed in a previous post I typed "This is the thoughts" -um that should be This is the thought or These are the thoughts-what is going on here? I have always strived to use correct grammar and am usually a good speller. I grew up being corrected if I said "have went," and now, in a way that I'm sure is making my daddy smile, I find myself correcting my older son (not in a "you are wrong" way, I repeat what he says just correcting the mistake) and also, sometimes, my husband. I'll tell you what I think. It's use it or lose it syndrome. I no longer write papers or essays for a class or type emails to co-workers. I'm not using my writing skills, and I am losing them (just like my computer skills). It is scary how quickly these skills atrophy. One thing's for sure, I best be working some crossword puzzles as I age, or I'm going to be in real trouble. (You like the "I best be"? That's just some local flavor for you all!)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Swim, Boy, Swim

I am a phan! Please don't take issue with my use of the word boy; it's not derogative. I use the same term when watching football (then it's run, boy, run). Also, I feel a bit like an old lady watching 23 year-old Michael Phelps! So, Friday night, watching the 100m butterfly race, I was up on my knees on the bed, both fists pumping the air, whisper-screaming, "Swim, boy, swim" (no real screaming, my one year-old had just fallen asleep on the bed)! I do not know Michael Phelps, but he appears to be a pretty stand-up fellow. He obviously respects and adores his mother and sisters. In interviews with his relay teammates, he always gives the teammates their due and doesn't hog the spotlight. Also, his teammates say they are proud of him. I think that speaks volumes. So, I couldn't stay awake for last night's race, but the first thing I asked my husband when he woke up was "did you watch the relay last night?" After getting a yes, "did they win?" After getting the boys breakfast, I'm reading the yahoo article on Phelps's eighth gold and crying (I know, laugh if you want). Then, I'm on nbcolympics.com watching the video of the relay and medal ceremony. I know some folks take issues with him wearing his ipod until the last couple of minutes. Who cares? If that's his routine, so be it. I'm proud of him. I've enjoyed watching the events he's participated in (and a lot of others, too, the twelve hour difference is getting to me). Maybe he has displayed some bad qualities or used curse words in interviews (that really makes me mad, don't these athletes know children and young adults look up to them?), but I have not seen it. (Feel free to comment and let me know if he has, but first know that what he listens to on his ipod will not change my opinion). This quote from an article by Dan Wetzel on Yahoo Sports struck me:

“It’s been nothing but an upward rollercoaster,” Phelps said. “It’s been nothing but fun.”

I interpret that as: it's hard work, but I've loved every minute of it! Also interpreted as, hard work pays off, nothing in life is free, or one of my sixth grade teacher's favorites, nothing from nothing leaves nothing, you give me nothing, you get nothing (okay, that one might be a stretch). So, Phelps exhibits humility, responsibility, strength of body and mind, drive, esprit de corps, and elan...sounds like qualities I want my children to have and to have myself. Sounds phantastic!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Is Mommy Guilt Making Me A Worse Parent?

Or at least a not so good disciplinarian? One of my top reasons for guilt is yelling. I was reading an issue of Parenting magazine that said yelling was one of the number one reasons for mommy guilt. Well, it's nice to know I'm not alone. Let me explain, I am a yeller by nature. I get it honest from my father, who got it honest from his father. However, getting it honest doesn't make it okay. I guess if there's a good side, it's that I am not a grudge holder. I don't bottle my anger up inside and let it fester. It explodes out in a very loud voice, and it's gone in a minute. (This is not to say that I forget every unkind comment that has ever come my way, that I don't remember said comments periodically and feel hurt all over again, but that's another blog topic).



The problem is I know it's not good to yell at my three year old. It just makes him yell, too. The time I am most likely to yell is (I cringe to type this) when I am on the computer - emailing, reading blogs, posting. I get so frustrated that I am not allowed even fifteen minutes of me-time. Now we're coming to part of the problem, allowed? Since when are my children making the rules for me? It's the mommy guilt. I feel guilty for being on the computer and yelling, so then I don't give myself time to do something I want to do. When, really, I need to set some boundaries (for myself and my sons). For instance, Mommy is going to be on the computer for fifteen minutes after breakfast, then we can play, draw, go outside. During those fifteen minutes, please don't ask Mommy for a snack or if you can get on pbskids.org.



I know lots of moms struggle with giving their children enough of their time. I know it's easy to let the computer (or, for me sometimes, a book) suck up way too much time. I guess I just don't want 1) the guilt I feel for not giving my boys enough time to become a reason for giving in to their unreasonable demands or 2) the guilt I feel for yelling at H to become a reason for not following through on a promised punishment.

I don't know if this will even make sense to anyone else... Maybe it's the pressure of having two mobile children, for which I am very thankful.

Wow!

W pulled up to standing for the first time! Yeeha! I can't wait to tell his PT tomorrow! Now his feet were quite a distance apart, but he still pulled himself up!

Commando Crawling

So the forward movement actually has a name; per our Early Interventionist, W is commando crawling! He is very mobile nowadays. In fact, we had to pull out the pack and play last night, because I can't leave the room for a few minutes any more and expect to find him in the same place (or even remotely near where he was when I left). He is also starting to try to pull up on the couch, just a little, but still, it's great to see progress. He definitely wants to stand up more now (which means I have to really stay right with him since he hasn't learned to bend his knees and fall down on his bum!) Anyway, it's great to know that his crawling style has a name and is something many other children do. I forgot how hard it is when they become mobile, and this time it's even harder since H has all these toys that are not okay for W to get in his hot little hands!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back To School

Just wanted to take a moment to say how proud I am of my hubby! He is going to go back to school (or at least attempt to do so). We know it will be tough for both of us and most likely for the little guys, too, but it will be such a boost for C. He is interested in almost all things computer-related, so he's looking at studying computer technology with an emphasis on networking. He just got the good word yesterday that his employer will help with some of the costs of school, so now we're even more excited and motivated to make it work. I am and will be praying that I can be supportive for him and not a nagging shrew! I'll just keep reminding myself that maybe he'll get a fantastic job one day, and I can be a stay-at-home-mom for a long time. If your children go off to college, do you become a stay-at-home-wife-with-children-in-college?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Olympics Are Coming

Tomorrow is the day: the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics! I am so looking forward to it! I hope to see H show some interest in the games. Maybe the shorter contests, like track and swimming, will hold his interest. We only watch television after 9:00 at night around here, so I'm not sure how we'll work this. By the way, don't think we're wonderful parents who always turn the television off to spend quality time with our children. Instead think, often hurried parents who can't eat, feed the children, wash the dishes, bathe the children (some nights), and turn the tv on before bed time. Now you're getting the picture =)

Blogger Issues

I somehow ended up with two copies of the same post, so I deleted the one that did not have a comment or a label. The one with the comment and label disappeared. My previous post has crazy spacing I can't seem to correct. I'm going to chalk this up to being logged in during the scheduled ten minute outage on 8/6 (this is what I get for being an idiot that forgets how many hours behind Pacific Time is from my time!) I hope things work going forward...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Things I Like




I thought I'd make a list of things I like just for the fun of it!




1) Capri length yoga pants (if I had a few more pairs, I probably would not wear any other pants or shorts the whole week through)


2) H's knock-off crocs (see above, I can't figure out this page layout stuff right now)

3) NFL Football (you never would have guessed, would ya?)
4) M & M's (I can trick myself into thinking I don't eat that many)
5) Crossword puzzles (I know, I'm a nerd)

6) The smell of feed stores (feed for cows, horses, and the like)
7) H saying muddy puddle (it's just so much sweeter sounding than mud puddle).

8) Thunderstorms in the late afternoon/early evening. This despite being terrified that any slight breeze meant there would be a tornado when I was a youngster.

9) C's random, deep thought comments i.e., "Don't you wish you had x-ray glasses, so you could, like, see everyone's story?"

10) No-show socks. Why didn't they have these back in the day? B/c, lots of times, at band camp, I got sock lines! Yes, I was a band nerd, too.

Monday, August 4, 2008

For Love or Corn

I am reading (and, so far, thoroughly enjoying) Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen. I kept looking at the author's name thinking it was familiar. Finally, I realized that Gruen is the last name of Nancy Drew's housekeeper, Hannah. Now I am revealing just how long I've been a bookworm =) Anyway, I wanted to share this hilarious quote from Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (trying to cover my behind here for copyright stuff). This is the thoughts of 90 or 93 year old Jacob:

"Sometimes I think that if I had to choose between an ear of corn or making love to a woman, I'd choose the corn. Not that I wouldn't love to have a final roll in the hay - I am a man yet, and some things never die - but the thought of those sweet kernels bursting between my teeth sure sets my mouth to watering. It's fantasy, I know that. Neither will happen. I just like to weigh the options, as though I were standing in front of Solomon: a final roll in the hay or an ear of corn. What a wonderful dilemma. Sometimes I substitute an apple for the corn."

I laughed out loud the first time I read this. It cracks me up every time I read it. I particularly like the substitution thought. You can tell he's really thought about it rather seriously! Love it!

In other book news, I finished The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. It is in the juvenile fiction section of the library, and, as I put in my sidebar while I was reading it, touted as a Native American Laura Ingalls Wilder-type story. It was a nice read. The author uses some of the tribe's language and provides a glossary at the end of the book complete with phonetic pronunciations (all of which I appreciated). Also, I found that they have this book on CD at my local library, so I have requested it. It will be great to hear the correct pronunciations. Also, there is a follow up book, The Game of Silence. I plan to read it in the near future! I enjoy reading juvenile fiction sometimes (even re-reading my old favorites). I feel like it relaxes me somehow to read about life from a child's perspective.

I am thinking of trying out the book club sponsored by the local library. They have two meeting times (during the day and in the evening). I go to the library so often, I've made friends with one of the librarians, whom I asked about the book clubs. She attends (or maybe leads?) the evening one, so I think I'm going to try that one. To be honest, I am hoping to find a book club to possibly join. Well, maybe...sometimes I think I get carried away with all the things I think I want to do. I mean do I really have time for more book clubs? but they're only once a month (or less) you know? Maybe I just want to get out more? Anyway, the first book is American Pastoral by Philip Roth. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Thirteenth Tale

Just a quick review of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. This is our book club pick for September's meeting. I think it will make for good discussion. The narrator is a woman who loves books deeply. She is asked by the country's most famous living author (reclusive Vida) to write said author's biography. Vida's life story takes up most of the book, and it definitely has some disgusting aspects as well as a few surprises. A bit mystery, a little bit love story, some who-done-it thrown in, even some psychology of sorts. I'll let you know how discussion goes (you know our book club often doesn't do too well with that).

Keira, You'd Make Jane Proud

Keira Knightley has made the news for being herself. She has refused to let movie production enhance her cleavage in scenes from the movie The Duchess. I am so proud of her. For another movie, she allowed something like this, and apparently, people noticed (of course they did, it was like going from a B-cup to a D-cup or some such nonsense). She seems to have freely admitted, "Those things aren't mine," when it was done. I am still so proud of her, and I think Jane Austen would be as well (Keira was in the most recent version of Pride and Prejudice). I wish she'd wear a shirt that reads, "I don't have a big chest and I'm naturally slim b/c God made me this way: beautiful."

A clip from a news show about Keira's decision showed all the changes that can be made with computers after a movie has finished filming. Once again, I want to say that I feel bad for the teenagers of today, striving to meet an image that is not real at all. It's not just women whose appearances are altered, either. I guess I'll be sure to reinforce to my children that what you see on film, computer or in print is not necessarily what you get in reality.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Who Is To Blame?

If I read ahead in a book, is it my fault for being impatient or the author's fault for not keeping my interest? I feel guilty for reading ahead; my daddy would be scandalized by it. However, sometimes I just can't help myself, and I fear it's getting worse, like my patience is wearing ever more thin as I get older. In my defense, I do always read every word of the book. I don't skip ahead and not go back. Does that make it a little more pardonable?

I am ashamed to admit that I've been watching Hogan's Heroes. They have a marathon on Monday nights on some channel. My husband is to blame for this. He enjoys lots of things WWII related, but Hogan's Heroes is downright silly. Click here if you'd like to have the theme song stuck in your head for a few hours.

I can't keep a conversation going. During my Sunday lunch date, I had to ask H-from-college once what I'd been talking about. I find this happening quite often. I'll forget what I was about to say or what I'm in the middle of saying. It makes me angry sometimes. I'll have something I want to talk about, and then it's gone right out of my head. I know, I shouldn't be thinking about what I want to say when another person is talking, but sometimes it's in response to a topic the other person brought up. I blame coming off of a good nine months of sleep deprivation.

Monday, July 28, 2008

It's A Conspiracy

It's five minutes 'til 08:00; both of my boys are still sleeping. If I had decided a shower could wait and tried to sleep in a bit, they would have been up by 07:20 or sooner. They know my plans and react accordingly. It's just like in Sheri Lynch's Be Happy or I'll Scream when she finds the secret magazine where her daughters are interviewed about how great they are at creating disaster and generally wreaking havoc (it's just Lynch's crazy imagination but sometimes I wonder...)

So I was a wild and crazy mommy this Sunday: I met a friend for lunch and went shopping with her. I was away for about three and a half hours. C was alone with the conspirators =) It was great to catch up with my friend (H-from-college). Plus I'm always happy to have someone with me who gives me an opinion on what to buy. I am a terrible decision maker when I am shopping for clothes, and you know how I feel about trying things on at home. I had hoped that going out on my own for a bit would make me have some more energy, but, no, I am still exhausted when I fall into bed. Uh oh, I hear some mutterings.

Conspirator #2 woke up at 08:05, and Conspirator #1 awoke at 08:25 with his feet asleep which really freaks him out. Did I mention H's school starts at 09:00?!? This should be interesting. Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Trick My Dump Truck



H did this all on his own. Those are stickers from Chiquita bananas. When I was little, my grandmother always put the Chiquita banana stickers on me, so I do the same with H. Nowadays, the bananas have the regular Chiquita trademark stickers and ones that say things like: Naturally Fat Free. My favorite one to put on H reads: 100% Perfection!

I Promise, It's Not Me

I had to laugh when I saw what this little gal asked her friends to call her! Just another thing to not do to your children: give them crazy weird names.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Doughnuts and the Y, Go Figure

I thought I would share some of the craziness that goes on in my head. On two occasions when I have seen a Krispy Kreme Doughnut truck, I thought, Forget a Wells Fargo truck, this is the truck I would hi-jack! Tonight I walked by one of the trucks outside the grocery store, and I could smell the doughnuts. Mmmm...good!

I went to a Zumba class at the Y this Saturday. It's pretty much like a Cardio Dance class, and I love it! Any chance I get to dance (and pretend I'm a Britney Spears back up dancer -before the whole getting married/getting divorced/having a breakdown deal, of course), I'm enjoying myself. I feel so energized after one of those classes, and I hear songs that I think must be popular (Buttons by Pussycat Dolls, anyone?). Of course, they could be older songs by now. I'd never know. I don't drive very long distances, and I honestly forget to turn on the radio when I'm in the car (plus I'm a bit of a talk radio junkie when I do listen). However, I really need to attend one of the sculpting-type classes because I need some toning up in more than one area. I just don't know how other people have time to exercise.

C and I joined the Y early in the year, and I started going to a Cardio Dance class on Fridays when my mom could watch the boys. Then, W was diagnosed and had surgery, and all the grand exercise plans were put on the way-back burner. W is too little for the child watch that is available at the Y, and I'm not sure how H would do in there. C and I have discussed each having one night a week we could go. Those would be sandwich nights around here. We just struggle to get motivated. What we need are some very responsible, very trustworthy, very capable baby-sitters. Side note: Aunt J, when are you and Uncle D moving back here? J/K, but I do so completely trust you :) There are others who might be reading this who would qualify as well... At least on this issue, it's not just us.

At a wedding back in May, a fellow mother asked myself and another mom if we ever let anyone besides our parents watch our kids? The answers all around were no. I thought, we need to all band together to help each other out! I have a friend nearby that I would feel completely at ease leaving my children with, but she has three boys of her own. I'm not sure whether asking a mom who has her own children to take care of to add to her load is a good answer. So what did my parents do? My mom has a sister who is twelve years younger and two cousins who were teenagers when me and my brother were younger. My brother and sister-in-law would be fantastic or my niece and nephew (their children), but they live several states away. I'm afraid it just seems like a problem we can't seem to solve. Maybe our plan to pick a night for me and a night for C will work. Wish us luck!