Thursday, December 06, 2007

More From the Homesick Front

We are beginning to decorate for Christmas, and once again I am struck by how much STUFF we have. How could we possibly have accumulated this much stuff? It couldn't possibly be because I am an impulse shopper and often come home with things we don't really need.


That can't be it. Maybe there is a little elf that mysteriously plants things all around the house that just accumulate and accumulate until I have a breakdown. Yeah, that's GOT to be it. An elf.

Well, the stuff has to be moved to make room for Christmas stuff, so I will be dragging out the bags and boxes to stuff with the stuff that we don't really need so that we can store it until after Christmas when we can bring it out again and decide what we want to keep and what we should throw or give away. Or perhaps I should give it all away as Christmas presents.


That would work.

HA! Watch out, everyone.

You never know what I might wrap up for YOU this year.

So I went to the doctor yesterday and was diagnosed with bronchitis. Well, THAT explains the month of coughing I have had! I had waited so long to go to the doctor because it didn't really hurt, and if it doesn't hurt, I don't go to the doctor. The decision to go was made when I couldn't taste anything for several days, and my life was a living misery. I LOVE taste. I am DRIVEN by taste. Taste is what helps me get out of bed in the morning (sad, isn't it?), what spurs me to go to the grocery store, what makes me love my husband so much when he comes home with a box of Godiva chocolates just for me (can I make a more obvious hint?). And I wonder why I need to take off a few pounds. I don't eat because I am trying to avoid starvation. I eat because the food tastes SO darn GOOD. It is *stopping* eating that presents problems.

So now that I can't taste anything (7 days later), I am having to find other ways to amuse myself. I have taken up scrapbooking. Wait, you say, wasn't I doing that before I lost my sense of taste? Well, it means so much more now. Everything does, really. I am finding other things to fill the place that food used to fill in my life. So bring on the tasteless food. This is GOOD for me.

Soft, fuzzy socks, a warm blanket to wrap around me and Sammy, since he is now a permanent addition to my side -- more on that later -- a nice sweater and a cute pair of jeans, a clean house (did I just say that?)... these things mean so much more to me now that I don't have food to make me continually happy. I can't just run to the kitchen for a snack when I get bored now. Well, I could, but there would be no joy in it. I have found other ways to amuse myself. So goodbye, food addiction. This is a brand new me.

And oh, it is amazing (as I was just telling Mike last night during dinner -- and yes, I do mean *night*... I wasn't motivated to cook until 7:30pm, so we ate dinner while the boys should have been going to bed). I can actually tell when I am full now! Either the "FULL" switch in my brain wasn't working before, or I just wasn't paying attention to it, but it is easy now for me to realize when I am full and have had enough to eat. Since the food doesn't taste very good, why eat more???

So more on Sammy. I took him to the pediatrician a couple of days ago, because he had had a three-day-long fever, which finally broke, and when it did break, he was stumbling around running into doors and walls and tripping over his feet, and generally just acting very, well, drunk. He wanted me to hold him nonstop, and did not want to eat much at all.

They think he has mono.


Anyway, he is not so woozy anymore, but he is definitely still tired, cranky, whiny, and has a sore throat. All classic signs of mono. Well, except for maybe the cranky, whiny bit. If he is not better in a week (by next Monday) we'll be going in to get bloodwork done on him so they can tell us he has mono and "You can't do a darn thing about it, so just deal with it -- oh, and keep him well hydrated."

This should be a FUN Christmas. We might be spending it at home by ourselves! No one wants to get this stuff, I'm quite sure of it.

So good things and not-so-good things are coming out of our sick time. I am trying to focus on the good, since we know these things are not going to kill us. I am sure that God is using these trials to make us stronger!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

cough.. couGH....... COUGH...........ugh

Well, we have all been sick now for over a week. This bug has taken its toll on all of us, and we are ready for it to be gone! It's too bad that you don't become immune to colds after having one once. Needless to say, we didn't go to church AGAIN. I think this is the 6th week, or maybe the 7th, that we have missed. Well, we're staying away until I know we are all better. There is no use exposing an entire congregation to this stuff. At least we are not nursery coordinators anymore, like we were at our last church. We needed to be there every Sunday, and that just wouldn't work right now!

Sammy has had a fever of 100-103 for the past three days. He is still a bit more warm than usual today, and has been moping around and willing to snuggle at a moment's notice. Griffin had a cough for a few days, but his has lightened up considerably. Mike and I have been up and down for the past few days. I'll just say... it is a good thing he was on vacation this past week, because he would have missed a lot of work anyway! We both have chest congestion and head colds, and are just waiting for the madness to end.

The good part about all of this is that is has forced us to stay at home more, spending time together and relaxing. It has been a restful week, and that is nice.

Mike and I stayed up and wrapped all of our Christmas presents last night. Well, he wrapped. I made bows. He had to stop and wait for me to catch up, because I like to be just a bit elaborate with my bows, so each gift took me a while. We had fun, but were very tired and ready for bed when we were done.

Well, Griffin is waiting for me to change his diaper, so I suppose I had better end here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

oh my

We were sitting at the table eating lunch today when Griffin all of a sudden started talking about the movie "Over The Hedge". This was our conversation.

Griffin: MOM, mom... do you know the raccoon in Over The Hedge?

Me: Yes, I know the raccoon.

Griffin: Well, the raccoon was talking to Hammy the Squirrel and telling him to go get the cookies from the girls, and Hammy says "Guess what, I can burp my ABC's...AaaaAAA.....BEeeEE...CEEeeeE...." and then the raccoon says "Hammy, Hammy... can you focus here??"

I almost choked, I laughed so hard.

I can't believe he is already memorizing entire scenes from movies.

Perhaps now would be a good time to start him on Bible memorization.

Balance! It's all about balance. :-)

Friday, November 09, 2007

To Coco

Sammy has started saying "To Coco."

Don't know what that means?

Here is the interpretation.

Griffin was playing with the trains. Sammy took the trains away from Griffin. Griffin screamed. I intervened. Sammy had to give the trains back to Griffin, or else. Sammy gave the trains back to Griffin. Griffin said thank you. Sammy said "To Coco."

Now do you understand?

It is fun watching my wild little men learning to be polite. :-)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Excuse Me???

Sammy really likes the fireman hat that Griffin wore for Halloween. He wears it all over the place. Well, yesterday he brought it up to me to put on my head. I set it on top of my head, as it was too small to fit properly, and just then Griffin walked into the room.

He took one look at me and declared,

"Mommy, that hat doesn't do anything for you."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Griffin... has what?

Griffin has Mono. Wow. I totally wasn't expecting that diagnosis! He hasn't seemed to be more tired than usual in the last few days. He has asked me, "Is it naptime yet?" a few times, and has been sleeping a bit longer than usual for his naps, but other than that and the swollen lymph nodes and the tiny bit of sore throat he had for two days, you'd think the kid was perfectly healthy.

He goes back in to the pediatrician for a sonogram of his spleen in two weeks. In the meantime, I am supposed to keep him from playing too roughly (ha! this should be interesting) and keep him away from large groups of children in areas such as playgrounds where if he were running and fell off of something, his spleen could rupture. So I guess he's not going to be going to church for a while. Six to eight weeks, the nurse said. Seems like an eternity, and yes, it is over Thanksgiving AND Christmas. Yippee. We'll go back to church in 2008.

Really, it's not as serious of a diagnosis as it could have been, so I am relieved, but it just seems weird to think about. At least it's not very contagious. We're supposed to avoid kissing him on the mouth and sharing utensils and drinks with him for the next few weeks. This means we're going to have to be on "sippy cup patrol". I may go out and get him his very own cups. He's getting big enough that he doesn't really need a sippy cup anymore, but he's just so used to being able to set them down anywhere without thinking about them spilling that it'll be a new concept to teach him.

The nurse told me that we didn't need to worry about it too much, and I checked online and the website I went to said that it's not as contagious as people think it is, but I really don't want Sammy to get this too. More doctor's bills and isolation we don't need.

Griffin will have to have surgery on his finger befoer he turns four, too. His "trigger thumb" is still there and is not getting any better. It has popped back and forth very few times, but he says it hurts a lot when it does, so I have a feeling it's not a problem that will resolve itself. Poor kid. That won't be a fun thing to go through for any of us!

Well, this was a depressing post! I hope the next one will be better.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It's Coming!!!

I can't believe it's only 7 weeks (and 5 days) until Christmas! Wow. The years seem to get shorter and shorter. Just last week, it seems, it was July, and I was saying firmly, "I'm not going wait until the last minute to do my Christmas shopping this year, I'm going to start getting ready now!"


A few weeks ago, I made two clove-studded oranges with a friend, and they both got moldy and had to be thrown away. What else have I done? Zilch.

Oh wait, I take that back. I do have two matching crib sheets and a Winnie the Pooh movie for the boys. That's it.

At least I know what I'm doing for Mike's side of the family. We've all decided to exchange family pictures this year. That will be fun, but I still might make everyone some cookies or something. And there's nothing any of you can do to stop me! Ha! I'm living on the edge, I know.

My side of the family will be either drawing names or bringing one gift and numbering them and drawing numbers. We drew numbers last year and that was fun. I wish I could give gifts to everyone but I know that gets expensive, so it is nice to be able to put my all into one big gift and have someone get great enjoyment out of it. :-)

KU played their first exhibition game tonight, so the season has officially started! The boys are fully trained on all of the KU songs, chants, etc. and are ready and waiting for the first real game. Griffin was running around the house during the game yelling "Rock Chalk Jayhawk, Go KU!!!" He wasn't watching the game very much, but really, where's the fun in watching some old basketball game when you can yell and run around?

We are getting together with some friends for our own Thanksgiving Dinner (for the gals)/Poker Night (for the guys) a little while before Thanksgiving, and I am realizing how fun it is to plan a menu for a party! I might have to do this entertaining thing more often! It will be at our house, but with other people helping to bring food, it really won't be too much work. Well, maybe cleaning will be work, but who's going to have their white gloves on anyway? We'll all be too busy having fun and being thankful for the ability to stuff ourseslves full of super-yummy food!

I'll post our menu once we get it all figured out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Reasons for Homeschooling

These are my thoughts that have come from a question Mike asked me a few days ago. We were discussing school options for the boys. He knows I want to homeschool them, but I have had a hard time articulating my thoughts and feelings verbally. I know, you're shocked. But pick yourself up off the floor and keep reading. When he said, "So why does Carody Lynn Kidwell want to homeschool her children?" I thought of a few answers for him, but I wanted to go a lot deeper and really get to the heart of why I feel so strongly about homeschooling.


I would like to have close relationships with my children during their school years, especially when they become teenagers, and generally homeschoolers have more close-knit relationships with their families during their school years than public/private school kids do. I know this is a generalization, but this is just coming from my own observation. Feel free to object and tell me what you think or have observed yourself.

I would like to be able to choose the curriculum that my children learn. If they have completely different learning styles, it would be nice to be able to choose from different curriculum that would be better suited to their individual needs.

I would like our school day and year to not have to revolve around the public school's time table. This would mean more flexible vacation time, and less stressful days for the family.

Nighttime could be spent as family time, rather than just time to get homework done and prepare for the next school day. This would probably change as they get into higher grades, as schoolwork takes longer to complete and they may have to work into the evening, but it could be avoided in the earlier grades.

The kids would be able to spend more time with their dad while they are young, since their homework could be done during the day.

I have read that when kids are in school, so much time is spent on coordinating the kids and going to/from different activities and subjects that not much time (compared with the amount of time per year that is actually spent in school) is spent in actual learning. I know this is highly debatable, but from my experience of being in public and private school, I can fully agree. I would like to be able to focus on learning for a portion of the day (a few hours to start, and longer as the kids get older) and not have their entire days taken up with being shuttled from one activity to the next.

I believe that I can give my children an education that will prepare them for college and the rest of their lives and will enable them to be outgoing, productive, godly people, as well as excellent employees or entrepreneurs.

I believe that when the Bible says "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it" (Proverbs 22:6) it is telling us that every one of us has things that we are created to be good at ("a child" in the way HE should go, rather than training "children" in the way THEY should go -- I know that some people interpret this verse to mean that we should teach our children Biblical truths and they will not stray from it as they get older, but I don't read it that way), and I think that we as parents should help to develop those traits in our children so that they will have something they can lean on when they get older, whether for income or enjoyment or to further the kingdom of God. I know I would be able to do this even if my kids were in school for a large portion of their day, but if I got to spend so much one-on-one time with each child, how much better could I know them and help them develop these God-given traits?

I would like for my husband and I to be the first people that our children come to for guidance and help in becoming the people God intended them to be. (basically a restatement of the above paragraph)

I would like to eat lunch with my kids every day. :-)

I want to be there to see the look on their faces when they finally grasp a new concept or see something amazing for the first time, and know that I helped them to get to that point.

That's all for now, I'll add more as they come to me, I'm sure!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pumpkin Carving

I had so much fun at Bonnie's house carving pumpkins two weekends ago. I had never carved a pumpkin before, so it was a crash course. What a great time we had! I never knew just how icky the inside of a pumpkin really is.
We had all sorts of yummy food. Corn on the cob, partially husked. The poor guy at the grocery store didn't realize she wanted the husk ON the cob, and thought he was being nice by husking it for her. We had seen Tyler Florence make corn on the cob just the week before by throwing it husk and all onto a pan and baking it for about 20 minutes. It looked amazing, and you could hold it by the husk to eat it. Well, she had to wrap hers in foil since the husk wasn't all the way on, but it still tasted fabulous!
She had made finger sandwiches that were really yummy. I found out that I like smoked salmon, capers, and something green that I don't remember the name of... help me out, Bonnie.
There was a plate of fresh veggies (blanched asparagus, red pepper slices, baby carrots, and possibly some other things that I didn't taste) with olive oil/herb dip and a creamy Italian dip. I will not attempt to spell what she called the plate of veggies. But the Crew Di-Tay was wonderful. Teehee!
There were crackers and a very spicy, very delicious jabanero/haverto/jalapeno/something cheese. And the spiced apple cider. WELL. That was so good.
Bonnie is an amazing cook! Of course, I had gone to her house the night before while she was making a loaf of pumpkin pound cake, and had to smell it while it was baking. Bonnie also teased me that she had apple cider but I couldn't have any! AND THAT WAS JUST WRONG.
When she said it was time for pumpkin cake at the party, you'd better believe I was the first one out of my chair!
It was such a fun time, and as a door prize we all got a light for the inside of our pumpkins! How cool is that? The boys got a big kick out of turning the light on at night and turning it off in the morning.

In case you can't tell, the picture on my pumpkin is a ghost at the top, and the word "BOO!" on the bottom. No one could tell what it was on first looking at it, so I thought I would explain it.
Good times!

Yeah, They're All Doing Fine

Miles is on antibiotics for his mangled face and also a cream for one of his eyes that had started to swell up. Cleo was given her worming medication, and is as good as new. Gordon's ears miraculously were not swollen on Saturday morning, but we took him in anyway and the vet gave us some drops to put in them, and showed us how to keep the insides of his ears cleaned out so that he won't shake his head like that and hurt his ears again. I am so glad that he won't need surgery!

Now we just have to wait to find out what is up with Griffin. I was wondering today what would happen if it isn't any of the things the pediatrician thought it might be. Griffin has told me several times in a voice filled with wonder that "She made a HOLE in my arm, Mommy." I hope they won't have to make any more holes any time soon. But he loves the little bald eagle finger puppet. To him, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Maybe even better, to Griffin, considering he isn't all that fond of bread. Pancakes, yes. Bread, not so much.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wow, what a week this has been! And today was the doozy. First off, Griffin's lymph nodes, the ones on one side of his neck, have been noticeable since he was about one year old. Well, they seem to get bigger and smaller at various times, but last night I noticed that there seemed to be two (rather hard) lumps instead of just one, and the whole side of his neck seemed to be swollen. Then this morning he woke up complaining that when he swallowed, his throat hurt, so I made an appointment for a few hours later to get it checked out. I had looked online last night, and pretty much read that it could be anything from strep throat to leukemia. Yikes!

Anyway, before Griffin went to the doctor, Mike went to the doctor. He has been fighting a "cold" for the past two weeks, and his boss told him yesterday that it sounded like sinusitis, and that he should probably see a doctor or take Mucinex or something, so he did go in, and, guess what, he has sinusitis and is now on an antibiotic and a decongestant. He slept for almost 5 hours this afternoon, and seems to be feeling better this evening.

So at Griffin's appointment, Dr. S (his pediatrician) checked him over, and they ruled out strep and pretty much any other type of throat ailment. Of course, Griffin HATED the strep test. It took three of us to hold him down. I think the nurse was scared of him, after he blatantly refused to step up on the scale for her so she could weigh him. Well, she kept telling him it was like being on stage! And HOW many people in the world have stage fright?! Okay, so he probably doesn't even know what a "stage" is, unless you are referring to a stage of life that he or Sammy will hopefully soon outgrow; he has probably heard us talking about that kind of stage quite frequently. So anyway, the nurse thought she would need a little help, and when they all trooped into the room to do the strep test, I think he freaked out just a little. I know I would have! So we're all laying on top of him and she's making him gag, and he was talking about her shoving the Q-tip down his throat for the rest of the day.

So anyway, Dr. S decided that it is probably one of three things. Cat Scratch Disease, which doesn't have too many symptoms except for swollen lymph nodes that go away after a few months, or Mono, which she said seems highly unlikely given his "activity level"... yeah, he was misbehaving in the doctor's office, but he had just been lain on and gagged; I think I would have been a bit feisty too... or leukemia, which I hope and pray they will rule out with the blood test they did at the lab they sent us to after leaving the doctor's office.

Dr. S said she felt about 6 or 7 swollen lymph nodes in one side of his neck alone, and the muscle on the side of his neck was being pushed out by the lymph nodes behind it. It sounds painful to me, but Griffin said it didn't hurt.

She looked down his throat and said it really wasn't that red at all, and then she didn't say too much else about his throat, we mostly talked about the swollen nodes.

So now I have this to worry about for the next week until we get the results of the blood tests back. I was thinking about all of the possibilities, and hoping it was nothing life-threatening, and as we were leaving the doctor's office, Griffin turns to me and says, "Mom, my throat still hurts, did they give us some medicine?"

He was absolutely wonderful at the lab. I held him on my lap, and held his little arms down, and he sat so still, except for one minor kicking thing, but the nurse knew how to use her stern voice, and he stopped quite quickly. He loved his Donald Duck band-aid, and the little eagle finger puppet she gave him, and the sucker the lady down the hall gave him as we left the building. He was pretty proud of himself, too, as I told him over and over what a good boy he had been and how brave he was.

Okay, so that's Griffin. And Mike. Who else? Oh, yes. The animals.

ALL of the animals.

Cleo has worms that need to be treated. Yuck. Makes me shiver just to think about them! I wonder if there is an over-the-counter product that is effective enough to get rid of them completely... hmmm... or a natural remedy.

Miles looks like a prize fighter who just lost a fight to someone wearing brass knuckles with spurs on them. Seriously. Do cats do this to each other? It wasn't Cleo (although she does enjoy batting his face around with her claw-free paws), it was probably an animal (cat or possum or raccoon or squirrel) he encountered in one of his not-quite-so-frequent-since-he-got-torn-up outdoor escape episodes. He lost all of the hair on the front and sides of his face, half of his whiskers, and has scratches above his eyes and under his chin. He looks like he has a Roman nose, too. His fur is finally starting to grow back, and the skin is healing -- which makes him look like an alien cat with a pink, wrinkly face and whiskers that need ironing -- all in all, he still looks quite frightful. I'm sure he'll scare away plenty of kids on Halloween.

And then there is Gordon. Just tonight, as I was trying to get his mind off of his growling belly (yeah, we ran out of dog food yesterday, so the poor dog hadn't eaten yet today, but Mike was at the store buying some for him at that very moment), I sat petting him, and of course I reached for my favorite part of the dog-- his soft, silky ears. Well, they are still soft, but in a whole other way. They are both filled with fluid and feel like they have little pillows in them. We were told that this could happen with Great Danes if you don't have their ears cropped. Really, any dog with floppy ears. If they get liquid in their ears, the liquid has a hard time drying up because the big ears are blocking it from evaporating, and the dog shakes their head to get rid of the water, which causes the ears to hit the sides of the head with such force that it breaks blood vessels and causes swelling. It looks like he'll have to have surgery. I am wondering if there is another alternative. The websites I read said that if you leave it alone, the swelling will eventually go down, but the ears will be left looking like raisins. Yikes!

I just can't wait for the vet bill from this one. We'll be taking him and both cats in tomorrow. Griffin's swollen lymph nodes and Miles' face... are they connected? I don't know. I'm hoping I'll find that out tomorrow too.

Well, good night. I need some rest!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My First MOPS Meeting

I attended my first MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) meeting tonight at the church we have been attending for about a month now. It was so much fun, and what a relief to know that there are other mothers, in the same boat as me, who also feel like they are going down in a storm sometimes too. It was good to talk to them... you start to feel like you are the only one who straps your kids into their carseats and drives somewhere -- anywhere! -- just to get out of the house for a moments' peace. Yeah, I did that today. 45 minutes of sweet freedom, even though I was strapped into the car too... figure that one out!

We made a neat craft tonight too, a tile that we pasted a picture onto to make a coaster. Here it is, although this is a bad picture of a picture... I still haven't figured out how to work with the flash on a camera when I'm taking pictures of scrapbook pages or pictures... the flash always shines on the picture and it turns out funky. I just point and shoot, that's how far my photography skills have come! The other picture is one I printed out earlier today, and I'm sure I have it posted somewhere else on the blog, but it never hurts to put such a cute picture on here twice, right?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Autumn Wreath

I had put it off long enough. I have had the supplies sitting in my craft room for weeks. I finally made my fall wreath today. I didn't use all of the flowers I got (the big burgundy ones would have overpowered it), or the viney strand of berries/beads that I was planning on wrapping around the wreath (too complicated to attach), but they will grace some other part of my home in the near future, I am sure.

We also set out the pumpkins our family picked out, and I think it makes a pleasing arrangement. I would love to get a couple of hay bales and some burgundy mums to plant, possibly in some nice pots, but we'll see what happens. Sometimes plans just don't come to pass, but there's no use worrying about it or fretting when it doesn't happen. At least that's what I keep telling myself as I think for the 27th time that day how much I would like this or that thing to happen.

I have been attempting to take time each morning, while the boys watch a VeggieTales or a Bob the Builder movie, to write out the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the date. It doesn't take too long to do, provided the boys aren't terribly restless or in the mood for mischief, and I have been finding that verses will pop into my head at various times throughout the day. Sometimes they are comforting, sometimes condemning, but either way it is nice to know that they are sinking in.

I have been indulging in a cup of some form of caffeine during my morning Scripture time, and I find that I am a much more pleasant person when it kicks in. It has such a calming effect on my nerves, but it also gives me the motivation I need (call it a kick in the pants if you will) to get off my dairy-air -- I know that's not how it's spelled, but it just looks so much better! -- and get things done around the house.

I'm not sure what is up, but lately I have been highly unmotivated to get things done! It is a horrible thing for a housewife to admit, I know, that she feels like she has no reason whatsoever to clean...

How hard is it to move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer? Apparently it is easier to just continue to rewash it when it starts to smell funky.

or cook...

Mike made his famous chicken (barbecue, yumm-o!) and peas for dinner tonight while I laid on the couch and took a catnap (the boys got up at 6 this morning after I stayed up until almost 1 to finish a book I was reading... darn book... was it worth it? 100%). What a man. I think I'll keep him. Love you, Babe.

Griffin has been having a ball these days playing with his big cardboard blocks and a box or two we saved (the box is now laying crushed in the living room after being climbed on all day). It is amazing what happens when you take most of a child's toys away and leave him with only a few. He actually plays with them! Astounding, I know, but it took us a while to figure out. Okay, me. It took ME a while to figure out.

Oh, and one more thing. Sammy wanted me to show you this.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dirty Fun

Need I say more?

But I will anyway. The boys LOVE playing in the dirt! Sammy pounds on the sliding glass door with an open hand shouting "Out-Dah!! Out-DAH!!!", his version of outside. It is known to be quite effective.

I love watching them play together, have I said that before? It it so sweet to watch Griffin showing Sammy how to drive the trucks through the dirt and fill them up with said dirt, only to pour it on Sammy's head a few moments later. Of course, the favor is returned a short while later.

You should see the mud in the bathtub when their after-dirt playtime comes to an end. It is really quite shocking!

The days are starting to cool down a bit, so I let them play outside for a long while in the mornings, then give them a bath with a baby-lotion finish after they are dried off. I just love baby lotion. I could write a whole blog about it.

And maybe I will.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Figuring It All Out

Life has been very even-keel over the past few weeks, but my blogging time has been eaten up by a myriad of other things. Also, my camera has been out of commission... well, okay, all I had to do was bring the memory card up from the basement where I had been uploading pictures to my computer, but I kept forgetting to do it!

Anyway, today was a great day for playing outside, so I just left the back door open so that the boys could run in and out of the house while I baked cookies and did some laundry and dishes. Of course, the flies buzzing around the house are testament to the fact that the door was open, but it was worth it! Griffin just loves to play in the dirt, and Sammy is almost to the point where he will actually get involved in some level of playing with Griffin. Most of the time Sammy still wants to do his own thing or stick to Mommy or Daddy, but there are some occasions when I'll sneak up on the two of them happily working toward the same goal.

I came up with a list of rules for our family. Some of these will take some work on my part! I need to work on a couple of these areas. Here they are:

Family Rules

1. Love God and obey His Word.
2. Obey Mommy and Daddy quickly.
3. Be gentle with people and animals.
4. Tell the truth.
5. Listen to people when they talk to you.
6. Do not take things away from others.
7. Be polite.
8. Respect other peoples’ things – do not break, tear, color or jump on things.
9. Keep your food and drinks on the table.
10. Be happy with the things you have, and take good care of them.

These may not be in order of importance!

Friday, August 10, 2007

You Tell on Yourself

You tell on yourself by the friends you seek,
By the very manner in which you speak,
By the way you employ your leisure time,
By the use you make of dollar and dime.
You tell what you are by the things you wear,
By the spirit in which you burdens bear,
By the kind of things at which you laugh,
By the records you play on the phonograph.
You tell what you are by the way you walk,
By the things of which you delight to talk,
By the manner in which you bear defeat,
By so simple a thing as how you eat.
By the books you choose from the well-filled shelf:
In these ways and more, you tell on yourself.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fun, Fun, and more Fun!

What a weekend! We spent most of this weekend at Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun. We are all exhausted but happy and filled with some great memories! Unfortunately we didn't take a camera, and even if we had brought one, the opportunities to use it would have been few and far between. Chasing two little boys who can't swim around a water park full of hidden dangers is enough to keep two people very, very busy!

I thank God for Mike's family, who all helped watch the boys. Yesterday, Mike's parents kept them while we went with the other adults and a few of the children to Worlds of Fun and had a blast closing the park down. I rode on the Spinning Dragons (a roller coaster with a four-seater car a lot like the Octopus cars (remember those?) that spin while moving at a very high speed along the coaster track), the Mamba (Twice! It is the tallest roller coaster in the park -- yeah, I'm scared of heights -- and goes 70 or 75 miles an hour) and the Ferris Wheel. I got to sit by Mike on the first rides, and the Ferris Wheel I got to ride with Jerica, who is just as precious as she can be. We talked about how fun the ride was, how scary it was, which ride was her favorite (the Spinning Dragons, which she rode again after the Ferris Wheel and I politely declined because the Ferris Wheel had scared me so much, but she'll never know that), how someone would have to be crazy to go on the RipCord (3 people laying on their bellies, wrapped sardine-style, are hoisted WAY up into the air and then someone has to pull a cord, which sends them free-falling almost straight down towards the ground, held only by two cords that look very tiny and not very sturdy when you are sitting at the top of the Ferris Wheel holding on to a little girl and her teddy bear and pretending to be The Brave Aunt), and other topics of immediate interest to us both.

Wow, that was a long sentence. I need to take a breath.

So why am I sitting here typing away at the computer at midnight when I am exhausted, worn-out, done in, and pooped? Because I had a Coke this afternoon (yes, I broke my "No-Coke-Except-With-Pizza" rule), and then made myself some Plantation Mint tea when we got home to relax. Apparently it has caffeine in it. Bonnie told me that it did, but silly me, I made it anyway!

I am going to lay down and pretend to sleep now, and hopefully I'll fall asleep in the process.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ode to Hippo

You were there
when we brought
our first new baby
home from the hospital.
You were cast aside
many a night
because the doctor said
"No toys in bed."
You were snuggled by Mommy
more than by the babies
because she loved
your softness.
You are the reason
Griffin says
so clearly.
You have been thrown across the room
and used as a
pillowfight weapon
on more than one occasion.
You started to get
a bit faded and worn
after Sammy turned
one year old.
Then came the day when
two little boys brought
a bottle of lotion into their bedroom,
and you got in the way of their fun.
Mommy checked your label
and it told her
to only wipe you down gently
in order to clean you.
So here's to you,
Mr. Hippo.
You were a wonderful part
of our lives
for three soft, fluffy,
light-blue years.
Mommy will miss you.
Would anyone else care for a tissue?

Back to Pictures

Mike installed a program on my computer that makes adding pictures to my blog a breeze! After the laptop crashed, I knew it might be a while before I could post any of my award-winning (ha!) pictures. I'm so glad I can put them up here again! I love to write, but pictures make the reading much more intersting, I'm sure.

Window Watchers

Vacuum Hair

Sammy Loves "Kee-yee"!

Griffin: "Mommy, look! I drew a pear!!!"
I think he was as surprised as I was.

Sammy sleeping through a tray full of spaghetti. Although he isn't actually asleep in this picture, I think he could eat spaghetti in his sleep. It is one of the meals that he eats the most of.

Captain Underpants
His shirt reads: "Dirt is my favorite color"
Appropriate? No.
Funny? You betcha.

Day Out with Thomas the Train

We have had so much fun this summer! One of Griffin's favorite things was going to the Day Out with Thomas in Baldwin City. A half day of fun in the sun with Griffin's favorite train of all time! The train ride, the (removable) train tattoos, the gift shop (Mommy had fun in the gift shop, and Griffin found a Thomas hat that he absolutely adores), the hay maze, the bus rides to and from the parking lot ("The Wheels on the Bus" really came alive for him, as he realized that the people actually DO go up and down, up and down, up and down!), the funnel cakes, and the company all made for a very fun day.

Aunt Sherri was a big help in keeping the boys corralled and out of trouble. They just love her!
Our niece Carissa. She's a hoot! The boys love her, and Mike and I have a lot of fun with her, too!
Here's Carissa with our niece Amanda and nephew Tommy. They are so good with the boys, and so fun to pick on... I mean, play with!
Mike's sis Laura and her hubby Thomas, along with little Kyle, the youngest of their clan. We have a blast with these folks! There is never a dull moment when they are around. Isn't Kyle cute in his conductor's hat? He was ready to jump on the train!
Cousins Jerica and Josh with Griffin and Sir Topham Hatt. They were in awe! And a tad bit shy.
Posing in front of Thomas the Train. Josh and Jerica tried really hard to get Griffin to look at the camera and smile.
The hay maze. Carissa was a big help directing a very lost Griffin where to go.

We climbed onto the open car on the train, and all of a sudden, Griffin wasn't so sure of this whole train ride thing. He gritted his teeth and tried to smile, and I did by best to help him to be brave, and by the time the train started to move, he was ready to roll! I, on the other hand, was nauseous and had a headache to beat all others by the time we got back to the station. Motion sickness... yikes! It was fun, but next time Mommy will wait on the ground, thank you very much.

Sammy loves to ride on Daddy's shoulders. And he hates riding in the little stroller. So guess where Sammy was most of the day? It makes for a very cute picture, and a very sore back! Thanks, Daddy!

Griffin and his best buddy Josh, all decked out and ready to go!

Kyle wasn't too sure about the train ride, and he held his monkey (and his daddy!) close for comfort when the train went fast.
Sammy was scared, and this is one of the few times he has willingly let me snuggle with him, so I took advantage of the opportunity. It was a sweet moment...
And here's another one. Kyle and Thomas were exhausted after the long day, and not very much sleep on Thomas' part, caught up with them both.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


We had fun this morning at the McDonald's PlayPlace with a friend from church who has a daughter close to the same age as Griffin. We had never had a play date together before, but it was a lot of fun! Well, for US it was fun; we got to sit and chat as women like to do. Mike, on the other hand, was run ragged as he chased Sammy from one thing to the next, attempting to keep him clean and out of harm's (and the other diners') way.

They are all upstairs napping now (or maybe Mike is watching poker on TV). It is the earliest nap the boys have had in a while, so we'll see how long they sleep. They might just have to take an afternoon nap as well! Oh, dear. Whatever shall I do while they sleep? Maybe I'll read! Or maybe I'll just sit here and write.

There are a lot of "mom's groups" online that are easy to get sucked in to, and I have found myself wasting many a naptime glued to the computer screen reading other people's opinions, beliefs and points of view, when I really just need to focus on living my life, and let other people do what they want to with their lives. I would love to type a message in the forum that would change the course of the world, but I think the best changes that I can affect in other peoples' lives will come through just living my life the best I can. Perhaps when I turn 60 I will have enough material to write the Great American Novel.

I believe that sending a heartfelt, handwritten letter to someone is a much better form of communication than shooting off a quick e-mail that will be forgotten a few hours after I write it. Now I just need to actually write those letters. I have written a few, and was amused because I always received a response by e-mail. I don't mind, of course, because I get fulfillment from writing the letter, probably as much as or more than the person receiving my letter gets. I know the person on the receiving end is most likely grateful for the amusement of getting something other than junk mail or bills in their mailbox.

I feel so connected to people on the internet, when in all actuality I wouldn't recognize many of those same people if I passed them in the produce department of the grocery store. It is amazing what a short visit with a friend will do to remind me how powerful face-to-face contact is with the people I love. Sure, you can say more online, but as Sabrina Fairchild says in one of my favorite movies of all time (Sabrina, of course), "More isn't always better, Linus, sometimes it's just more."

I had a wonderful conversation with a good friend last night about simplifying our lives, reducing clutter both mental and physical, and not succumbing to the pervasive American philosophy that in order to be happy, you need more things; you need the latest and greatest that society has to offer. The attitude that everyone seems to have is that if you don't have the best that is available, you aren't good enough as a person. You are lacking in some area, and will never be completely fulfilled until you have this thing that everyone else wants.

Well, what if I thought my life was good enough without it? Would I be looked down upon by everyone else? Of course not. Most people would envy my contentment, and then go out and buy it themselves and find out that wow, it didn't really make them as happy as they thought it would. Or maybe it did make them happy, but that happiness faded when the thing they had so lovingly purchased and carefully placed in their home lost its value when something "better" replaced it on the store's shelves.

What if they had not purchased it in the first place? Would they have feelings of inferiority, or perhaps feel like they weren't worth as much? Most likely not, because there will always be an opportunity to buy something else that is "worth more" in the near future, and then everyone else who actually did go out and buy the coveted item will be in the same boat as the person who didn't buy it at all!

Why do I want to eat out so much? I know I'm shifting gears a bit here, but it's my blog, I can do whatever the heck I want to here! I just want to explore this a little bit. Sometimes I think better while I write.

I love to eat out. I just do. It doesn't matter if it is a fancy restaurant or McDonald's. There is just something about the fact that there are so many choices available to me, and I can have anything I want, and don't have to settle for what is in my refrigerator. And, of course, it means more money for the restaurant, so they are more than happy to serve you (I like making people happy), and will get you whatever you want, most of the time very quickly. On the other hand, at home if I want something to eat it is up to me to look through the cabinets/refrigerator/freezer/garage (the garage is looking more and more like a grocery store with every trip to Costco) and put the ingredients together to make a meal. And then there is the issue of dishes. They have to be washed. And the pans you cooked in have to be cleaned. And the table cleared and wiped off, and the highchair cleaned off. And sometimes the floor even needs to be cleaned after a meal with two little boys. And the kitchen is usually a mess after a meal is cooked, so that needs to be cleaned up too.

If I go out, I pack up the boys (they can even be barefoot) into the van, drive to a restaurant (as long as it has a drive-through or "carside to go" available), order my food, pay, and it is handed to me, neatly packaged in disposable (but not necessarily biodegradable) containers, with nifty little plasticware/napkin things. I get every condiment I might possibly need stuck into my bag, so I know I won't have to actually get out of my seat to get anything while I am in the process of enjoying my food. I drive home, and we have a system. I get the boys into the house, leaving the food in the car. Griffin climbs into his chair, and Sammy gets strapped into the high chair. Then I go out to the van and bring the food in. We sit down, eat a few bites, Griffin remembers that we need to pray, so we fold our hands. "God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food" we pray together with bowed heads and closed eyes. Then Sammy looks intently at his hands, with his fingers so carefully entertwined, and says "Tank-oo" (thank you). That's his prayer for now.

We dig in to our food, and when we are done eating, Griffin says "May I get down please?" He climbs down, pushes his chair in automatically (what a good boy!) and goes on with his life. I get Sammy down, wipe off his tray, gather up the trash and throw it away. This is usually the extent of the cleaning-up I have to do.

When I cook, I have to plan the meals (2-3 hours per week), shop for the groceries (2 hours per week), prepare and cook the food (14 hours per week, on average), and clean up the mess (7 hours per week). Each meal, on average, takes an hour or more to execute from beginning to end. That's about 25 hours a week. That's over half of a full-time job!

So how much is my time and my family worth? Are they worth enough to me that I should spend this much time and effort every day doing something that could be done much more easily by someone who doesn't care a whit about them? Of course they are worth it!

When my boys grow up, I hope they will remember their Mom being happy to be in the kitchen preparing meals, setting the table for each meal, and even doing other things like laundry, scrubbing floors, vacuuming, washing windows, dusting, and all of the other mundane things that it takes to keep a home and family running smoothly. I have a tendency to get bogged down in what I am doing so much that it is easier for me to push them aside and tell them to "Go play while Mommy does this," or "Stay out of the way!" or just rush through "the job" in a huff, expressing myself angrily when anything gets in my way or slows me down.

But what is life, if not a series of small chores that need to be done on a daily basis? Each time I do something with a cheerful spirit, it gets a little bit easier to do it the next time. I am going to write another sentence here, just to make this a full paragraph, because technically each paragraph should have at least three sentences in it.

I had a particularly rough day yesterday, most likely due to the fact that it is almost time for a visit from my little monthly friend. I couldn't find my Midol. The boys, once again, woke up before I did. Sammy wanted me to hold him all day long, and I had a hard time getting things done to prepare for some friends coming over for dinner. I was uptight all day long, and I know that made the boys crankier, which in turn aggravated me even more.

And then I think about women who desperately want children who can't have them. I think about women who work all day to help support their families and come home and have to do everything I do, only they have to cram it all into their precious evening and weekend hours. I think about women whose husbands don't care enough about their families to hold on to a job, or spend what money they do make on alcohol, other women, or gambling. I think about women who live with men who abuse them and sometimes even their children. I think about women who live in shelters who can't even give their children food to eat, much less spend time in their very own kitchen with a full set of matching stainless steel cookware.

And I wonder what right I have to complain at all.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Menu Plans

So I have made my menu plan for the next week. I had to, because I ordered my groceries online this week, and I think that will be how I do it for quite a while. Sure, it is $10 extra, but to eat out for one meal costs us almost $20, so for those times when i just can't get to the store, it is wonderful to have someone else do the work for me so that we don't have to partake of the local fast-food joints again.

Anyway, I had to make my meal plan first, because as easy as it is to wander down a grocery store aisle and find ten things I don't really need but that might make a good meal, it is a lot harder to do that online, where I just type out my grocery list and then click on each item to pick which brand/size I want. It is also an awesome way to compare prices. I saved almost $50 compared to one of my regular weekly shopping trips, because the snack foods and end-of-aisle specials aren't nearly as tempting when you don't see a huge display of them screaming your name!

I went to the store to pick up my order, and was about 10 minutes early, and the order wasn't ready yet. They offered to deliver it to my house for free, so of course I took them up on that! Then as I unloaded the groceries, I noticed with disgust that the avocadoes they had given me were WAY overripe and were completely mushy. So I called the store, told them that I couldn't bring them in to exchange them, and asked if I could come the next day. She said no, she would bring them to my house! I was floored. What service!

They did substitute a couple of things that I would not have preferred, so I'll write them a little note next time and tell them not to substitute items unless they check with me first. But overall, I am SO happy with the service. We finally have fresh food in the house!

I'm excited about my meal plan, too. Tonight we had stuffed green peppers, and they were gone like lightning. Well, the adults' plates were cleaned, anyway. Tomorrow night we will have Bonnie and Caleb over for dinner, and I'm making The Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup, a Paula Deen recipe which, if I judge solely based on the reviews it got on her website, will be absolutely fabulous. It has sherry, cream, and parmesan cheese in it... plus all of the typical ingredients. I can't wait to taste it!

I'm going to go watch a movie right now. It has been a while since I have done that! What am I in the mood for... maybe a nice chick flick...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Poker Day

I can't believe it has been so long since I blogged! Shame on me!!! Well, I'll just jump right back in.

We had a boys' poker game at our house today. There were only three of them playing, since our plans were very last-minute, and we didn't even know for sure whether we would have it or not until today, about an hour before it started! Next time we'll have to plan better.

While the boys battled it out, us girls, one of whom has a beautiful 11-week-old baby, got to socialize and watch my beautiful little boys jump off of furniture (Sammy), fall down the stairs (Sammy again), grab the "Kee-ee" and watch him squirm (you guessed it, that one was Sammy too!). Actually, I'm not really sure where Griffin was during all of this. Oh, wait. Now I remember. He asked me to start a Thomas the Train movie for him, and disappeared into the family room for the majority of the time. He has been Thomased out for a while, and so he hadn't sat and watched one of the movies in quite a while, so he was more captivated by the antics of Thomas, Percy, Gordon (the engine, not the dog), and all of the other little trains, than he has been in some time.

I made oatmeal raisin cookies (recipe courtesy of Paula Deen) and taught Bonnie the finer points of making Ro-Tel nacho dip with ingredients she graciously provided. Here is the recipe, since I'm sure inquiring minds want to know.

Ro-Tel Nacho Dip

2 cans Ro-Tel, mild or original
1 box Velveeta

Pour Ro-Tel into a saucepan and turn heat to medium.
Cut up Velveeta into chunks and add to Ro-Tel.
Stir frequently, and turn heat down to low when cheese is melted.

I serve this with Fritos, but it is really good with any kind of "nacho-friendly" chip.

That's about all I've got for tonight! I'll post more often, I promise!!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Yay!! We get to clean!!!!!

We went to McDonald's last night to let the boys play in the play area and also to grab a quick dinner. We also thought it might be time for Week Three of the free DVDs (one free every week for four weeks from RedBox, the new McDonald's video rental place... it wasn't time yet, darn it.)

Okay, I need to set the stage a little better for this story. Let me take you back in time.

I went to a Discovery Toys party a couple of weeks ago, and ordered a bunch of really fun stuff for the boys, one of which was a frog sprinkler that you throw balls into the frog's mouth and it spits them back out at you. Well, I got my order yesterday, and Griffin spied the sprinkler and really wanted to play with it. I told him that we needed to clean up the toy room first and pick which toys we would store in the basement or give away to other children so that he doesn't have so many toys to clean up every time we clean the toy room. So he knew that as soon as he ws done helping Mommy clean up the toy room, he was going to get to discover the wonders of the frog sprinkler.

Okay, now back to McDonald's. We had eaten and they had played, and we were ready to leave. Mike caught Griffin as he came down the slide, and sat him in a nearby chair to put his Elmo sandals on. Griffin started to protest, because he would never leave if given the choice. I knelt down beside him, and to the great amusement of the family sitting at the table next to us, said "Griffin, remember? We get to go home and clean up the toy room!!!" At this, a great big grin spread over his face, and he very excitedly said "Okay, Mommy!! Yay!!!"

They must have been very amused at the poor little boy whose idea of fun was cleaning up his toys. Poor thing. What a boring life he must lead.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's Been Too Long!!!

I have started going to the gym to work out with a friend. We have just finished our third week of going every Monday through Thursday. It is very invigorating, and I love the energy boost I get. It must be all of those endorphins working. I don't even need caffiene anymore! And I have been eating less, most of the time, I'm not sure why. It's not because I don't want the food, it's more that I realize now when I am full and can push my plate away and not finish every single bite. Now I just need to work on not putting as much on my plate to begin with. I still feel like I should clean my plate, and that is not conducive to losing weight when you still take star-quarterback-of-the-football-team-size portions. So portion control is the next thing I will work on, now that it is a habit to wake up four days out of the week and get ready for the gym automatically. And then perhaps I'll tackle the actual foods I am ingesting. Many of which are somewhat less than nutritious. I am eating more fresh fruits and vegetables than ever before, which is a good start, but my intake of processed foods and fast food leaves something to be desired. Like a tummy tuck.

Griffin is three now, I can't believe it! I'll post pictures from his party here sometime. Our laptop is on the fritz, and I don't think it can be repaired, and that is where I did all of my picture-posting. This computer is old and antiquated, and picture-posting is very time-consuming and difficult on it. So for now, I just get to blabber away and fill this void with my words of wit and wisdom.

So anyway, back to Griffin. He is talking ever so much lately, and can hold his own in a conversation with any adult. Especially if said conversation pertains to Thomas the Train, Caillou, Bob the Builder, sandboxes, dump trucks, excavators, rollers, cranes... you get the drift. He will also talk to anyone who asks about fire trucks, sirens, and flashing lights. Another fascination of his.

Sammy is becoming quite the little talker too. He loves balls, and any time he sees anything remotely resembling a round object, he yells -- at the top of his lungs, mind you -- "BAH!!!!!" and points his little finger at the object of his desire. This is especially fun for him if we are in a multi-level parking garage (echo factor), a mall with a big open area and several floors (echo factor with more people watching), a library (Mommy reaction factor), a bookstore (Mommy reaction factor Number Two), need I say more? He also loves the "Kee-ee!" (kitty) and the "Chit-choo" (train). When he wants down from any place he needs help getting down from, it is "A-wahnt-dahw," and he uses that liberally anytime we place him into that torturous device, the restaurant high chair. Or the one at home, but at least he actually eats something before proclaming his "A-wahnt-dahw" when we are at home. Yeah. We don't eat out much at restaurants. We're drive-through kind of people.

I've been keeping up with laundry quite well for the last month or so. I got tired of not being able to put together a decent outfit. I know I have plently of clothes, they were just always buried in the laundry chute. I think my problem lay in the fact that I wasn't folding the clothes as soon as they came out of the dryer. I'd take them out of the dryer, pile them into a laundry basket, and set the laundry basket outside of the bathroom door (where the washer and dryer are, the guest bathroom on the main floor of the house -- what genius thought that up? I have about two square feet of standing room while I transfer clothes from washer to dryer. But hey, at least I HAVE a dryer. So I can't complain too much.). Then, after the laundry had been tossed out of the basket for the fiftieth time that day (by my two little laundry-helpers), strewn all over the floor, piled back into the basket, strewn all over the floor again, thrown back into the basket, frantically hauled upstairs, and thrown on the bed in the master bedroom, it would get smaller and smaller (if I wasn't adding new loads of wrinkled recently-washed clothes to it) day after day as I picked out what I wanted to wear from the pile. Eventually, my two little laundry-helpers would take whatever was left from the dog-hair-covered (the dog sleeps on the floor of our bedroom, hence everything that touches the floor gets at least one dog hair stuck to it) pile of clothes and would, being the helpful little creatures that they are, lovingly -- no, scratch that, gleefully -- throw it down the laundry chute for me to wash again. I find the most interesting things in the laundry chute. I should make a list over the course of a week, that could be a blog all on its own.

Mike has been working hard stripping wallpaper from the master bedroom and bathroom and the loft upstairs. There were two layers of wallpaper in the loft, so that was tedious to remove. The bedroom was easy in comparison, with just a border at the top that wasn't glued down very well. It actually looked as though it may have fallen down any day anyway. Mike just helped it along. The bedroom and bathroom were once a hideous shade of pink. Pink walls, black tile. Niiiiiiiiice. I'm going to go with a light shade of blue on the bedroom walls, and a darker tint of the same shade of blue in the bathroom. There is a skylight in the bathroom, so there is usually a ton of light in there, so it should handle the color well. The accents in the two rooms will be peach/coral and off-white. Imagine a cream-colored rose that fades into peaches and corals in the center. That's what I'm going for. I got a great deal on some dried flowers (tiny wine-colored roses and some peachy-colored flowers that I don't know the name of) at a local Michaels that is moving, and I think the colors will go perfectly in there. Then there is all of that black tile, so another accent color will be black by default. I can use it, though. It will be modern shabby chic. I can't wait!! Mike is prepping the walls for painting tonight, getting all of the tiny bits of remaining wallpaper off, scraping the walls down, and plastering the rough spots, and then once the plaster dries we can sand, prime, and then paint! It's a slow process, but totally worth it. These are rooms we spend a lot of time in, so they should look good, right?

I'm done for tonight. I'm sure I'll write more often than I have been. I think I needed a little bloggity break.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Thirty and Three

I began writing this on Friday night, after a very eventful day, and am posting it a few days late. I need to get with Bonnie to make sure I have all of the details straight, so I might update it later today after hearing what she remembers. We promised to help each other remember what happened, because it was a very memorable day and evening that neither of us want to forget!


My day began (well, the exciting part, anyway) when I was opening the front blinds this morning. It was hard to miss the big cat carrier and bag of cat food sitting on the front porch. At first, I thought that maybe Bonnie and Caleb had gone out of town and left their cats with us. But then I quickly thought, no, they wouldn't do that to me... much less their cat!! I opened the front door and as soon as I saw it, I knew. There was a note on top of that cat carrier. I felt a big sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I came to the realization that someone had actually dropped their cat off on my front porch! The note was simple, yet gave all the important details about Zodiac. The sick feeling in my stomach wasn't going away, and I really couldn't handle being around him too much, because I didn't want to get attached to him. He also stank. Shallow of me, I know, but after sitting in a carrier all night, which I knew he had been because he and the carrier and the note and the bag of cat food were all soaked in rainwater, and he also had the distinct odor of... other stuff... on him. I brought him in, and Griffin kept asking me questions about where he came from, what would we do with him, was he scared, why did somebody leave him on our front porch, would we take him to the same place we took the tiny baby bunny we rescued a few weeks ago, and pretty soon I just needed to leave the house. I couldn't get ahold of anyone connected to any animal control or rescue places, and was getting frustrated. So I sent out a big mass e-mail asking if anyone knew of someone who wanted a cat, packed the boys into the van, and left the house.

When I got back home, my head had cleared, and I even had a promising e-mail from a friend who works with a lady who helps animals find adoptive homes! She will pick him up tomorrow, which means he has to put up with us for one more night, but now that I know he'll be finding a good home soon, I can rest easy. -- Just a note, today is Sunday and she still hasn't picked up Zorro yet, so we're still waiting!!

Well, the rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful. Sammy woke up early from his nap, which is totally unlike him, so I got to spend a couple of hours with just him before Griffin, the Birthday Boy who turned three years old today, woke up. Sammy wanted to snuggle, give me lots of little puckered-lip kisses, and talk on the telephone. Yeah, it was a good afternoon. :) Bonnie and Caleb even came over (they had taken Bonnie's birthday off -- yes, it's Bonnie's birthday too, she turned thirty this year) and stayed for a while to check out Zodiac, whom I have nicknamed Zorro because of his many skillz with his claws. He can even open cabinet doors (provided they do not have child safety locks on them). He also scratches. I think he's just scared, which is completely understandable after a long, wet night away from his home, and a big, black dog who snuffles around his carrier a bit too often for his liking.

This evening was an amazingly eventful time also. Thanks to my wonderful, loving, adorable, kind-hearted sister who babysat Sammy for us (is that enough brown-nosing? I don't think so), Mike, Griffin and I got to take Bonnie and Caleb out for a wonderful dinner at Brio Tuscan Grill on the Plaza. It was interesting, to say the least!! I had made reservations for seven thirty, but we didn't end up getting to the restaurant until eight thirty because of a longer-than-usual massage (Bonnie's birthday was worth the extra time!), a very amusing jaunt up into a Plaza parking garage (we should have realized we were in for trouble when the people coming out of the garage were waving wildly at us and shouting something unintelligible) which abruptly ended when we and all of the cars following us realized that we had ended up at a wall and the only thing to do was back, caravan-style, down the curvy ramps to freedom, and then culminated in a few blocks' walk to get to the restaurant (Bonnie still didn't know where we were going, but figured it out on the walk there. Then we waited for about twenty or thirty minutes to be seated. Griffin opened his present, a Leapfrog laptop, while we waited, and it kept him entertained. We had gotten a bit tired of waiting, so Bonnie and Caleb decided to use the restrooms, which they said is a scientifically proven way to get your buzzer to go off and be shown to a table. Try it sometime. Just wait until you think you can't possibly wait another minute, and then send one or two people from your party to the restroom, and watch the magic happen. It worked for us! No sooner had they left our sight than our buzzer started lighting up and vibrating. We got a good laugh out of that. Luckily, the table we were seated at was right next to the restrooms, so Bonnie and Caleb found us easily when they came out.

So we settled ourselves in and, having already looked at the menu while waiting for a table, placed our order with our server, a nice black lady who would have had a big 'fro if it hadn't been pulled back into a cute bushy ponytail. I'll call her B, because I have no idea what her name was, and the restaurant's name started with a B. Creative, aren't I? Well, B was a good server, but I'll bet she was glad when we left. And she probably didn't laugh about our experience quite as hard as we did. Let me explain...

We waited for our food to arrive, and while we waited they brought out baskets of fresh bread, and these triangular cracker-like wafers with flax seeds and rosemary, which were so flavorful and yummy! The bread was delicious too, but there was only one minor problem. The one lonely butter pat they gave us (elegantly displayed on a clean white plate) was almost enough for Mike to butter his bread with. So we requested some more. B brought out two more pats after we had waited just long enough for the bread to cool down so that the butter wouldn't melt nicely on it anymore. We finished our drinks while waiting for our food, and B refilled our water glasses and graciously offered to bring Caleb another Dr. Pepper. Only when Caleb tasted his new drink, he made a face when he realized it was, heaven forbid, DIET, and after sniff-tests by Mike and Bonnie, it was decided that yes, it definitely was diet and would have to be replaced. Caleb told B when she came around again that he needed regular, not diet, and she graciously took the drink away and brought him his Dr. Pepper.

We had received our salads by this time, but as Bonnie and Caleb came to realize after a few bites, the kitchen had failed to leave the onions off of their salad (they had split one), as Caleb had requested. So they told B nicely that there were onions on the salads and that they would really like salads with no onions, and she, now a bit flustered, took the salads away, saying it would take them literally just a few seconds to make new salads with no onions on them. She came back a minute later, and Bonnie only found one onion in hers, so they were happy. The dressing was even put on the side, to show them that the second salad had been made especially for them.

I shared my salad with Mike and Griffin, because it was too much to eat all by myself, but boy, was it good!! I had been looking forward to this salad ever since I had been to Brio the first time, with Bonnie, several months ago. It's called Bistecca Insalata -- a big hunk of lettuce with lots of crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes, gorgonzala cheese, and a creamy Parmesan dressing. They give you a big steak knife to cut it with. Mike and Griffin really liked it too, but I think I was the only one moaning with pleasure.

We finished our salads, with Griffin happily playing away on his new laptop. (Before you think we over-indulge our kids, let me tell you that the "laptop" only cost $19.95, less than a third of what our dinner cost, and it was worth every penny! Both the dinner and the laptop were.) The food arrived shortly after, and we dug in hungrily. Well, all of us except for Griffin. There had been a mix-up of some sort, and his much-anticipated macaroni and cheese did not arrive with everyone else's food. We asked the guy who had brought out our food, and he apologized and hurried back to the kitchen, saying he would check on it. After about five minutes, and after watching him deliver food to two other tables, we knew he wasn't going to bring out the macaroni, and we flagged B down and asked her about it. I could almost hear her growl as she scurried away from the table to track down Griffin's birthday meal. She brought it back a couple of minutes later, apologizing profusely.

We had been eating for a little while when I checked my watch to see how we were doing on time. (I had called Christy, who was babysitting Sammy, on the way to the restaurant to let her know that we wouldn't be getting back until about 9:30 because we had gotten a late start.) OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I gasped as I realized it was 9:40, ten minutes AFTER I had said we'd pick up Sammy, and we hadn't even had dessert yet! (Not to mention the fact that it would take us thirty minutes to get home, and another ten to get to her house.) We had told Griffin that we'd be getting a special dessert because we were celebrating two birthdays, and B was already planning on bringing it out to us, so we felt like we should wait for it.

I tried to call Christy at her house and at mine, thinking that maybe she had taken Sammy home and put him to bed since it was so late, but no one answered at either place, so we plodded along with our meal, getting antsier by the minute and thinking about how upset Christy would be with us because we were "taking our sweet time" while she was waiting with a child we were sure was being a holy terror.

We had requested four of our meals to be boxed up, and were waiting for both the desserts and our boxed food to be returned to us. B brought out Bonnie's boxed up pasta and my leftover pizza, and then asked if Griffin was done eating yet. Well, poor Griffin had received his macaroni much later than the rest of us, and then had to wait for it to cool down before beginning to eat. His reaction when I attempted to steal his plate: hold on for dear life and don't let her take it away!!! I started to pick it up and asked as I did so "Are you done, Griffin?" He looked shocked and quickly said "NO!" and grabbed his plate. He drew it back toward him and calmly set it back on the table as we all cracked up, holding our sides and laughing.

We discussed what flavors of gelato we wanted, and settled on raspberry sorbet for Bonnie and Caleb, and mocha for, erm, well, for "Griffin". And me. It was SO GOOD. I would go back just for the mocha gelato! And Griffin's mac 'n cheese was pretty darn tasty too. Even the second time around. Yes, I ate his leftovers for lunch the next day. Tee Hee!! I gave him a few noodles, don't worry, he wasn't deprived. But we almost didn't get to take our mac 'n cheese leftovers home with us, because B forgot to bring it back to the table. When she came to bring us the bill, I asked her about the leftovers, and she once again hurried off to the kitchen, bringing them back a few minutes later. It's a good thing it took her a few minutes, because otherwise she would have heard Caleb's hilarious comment, followed by various sound effects and uproarious laughter, about how it probably wouldn't matter if Griffin's leftovers had been thrown away, because they most likely had a big vat of mac 'n cheese just bubbling away back there in the kitchen. (This might only make Bonnie and Caleb laugh, but I have to...Bloop.)

We finished our gelato and waited and waited and waited, and finally she brought back Mike's credit card and our leftovers (apparently NOT from the big vat, because she brought back Mike's leftovers too, which I had forgotten about) so that we could sign and leave. Mike made it a point to go talk to her as we were packing up. He made sure she knew that we appreciated her service. She apologized profusely for everything that had gone wrong, but he assured her that it had been a fun experience for all of us, and that we knew she had done everything in her power to serve us well. She got a good tip.

We walked back to the van and climbed in. As I strapped Griffin into his seat, he looked at me with sleepy eyes and said "Mommy, I'm tired." If you know Griffin, you are probably laughing your head off right now, because he never EVER admits that he is tired.

Okay, just when you think the story is over, it gets even better.

So we're driving away from the restaurant, and this dude in a dark van is leaning out of his driver's side window *While He's Driving* -- I'm talking both shoulders and his head outside the van while he's going 50 miles an hour -- "with his elbow hanging down to the hubcap," as Bonnie put it. We debated for a minute whether it was his hand or his elbow, because it was hanging down so far that for the average person, it would have been the appropriate place for a hand, but as we got closer to him we realized it was, in fact, his elbow! He must have been rather tall. He appeared to be following a little red car full of teenage girls. They didn't seem to acknowledge the fact that he was risking life and, uh, "limb" (sorry, I couldn't resist) to stay as close to them as possible. Fortunately for us (and our amusement), the red car and the van turned onto the highway with us. As the van passed us, I got a good look at the Hangman, and we laughed all over again as we caught the deathly serious look on his face, combined with dark sunglasses!! The car and van switched places a lot; sometimes the red car would take the lead and sometimes the dark van would be in front. It was like a curious gangly teenage sunglass-wearing dance. We laughed the entire way home.

Griffin must have been kept awake by our talk of the Hangman, because he was still awake when we pulled into the driveway. Mike went to Christy's house to pick up Sammy. I had talked to Christy on our walk back to the van after we got done eating, and she had assured me that Sammy had been asleep since nine. I still felt bad, because I knew we were keeping her up way past her bedtime. Anyway, as I took Griffin's shoes off and prepared to take him upstairs, he looked me in the eye and asked "Mommy, can I go night-night now?"

"Yes," I assured him, "now you can go night-night". It was eleven o'clock.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Our Backyard Butterfly

This is our friend, whom we have dubbed "The Backyard Butterfly". He flutters around the whole time we are outside. Apparently Griffin is sweet, because the butterfly really likes to land on him. There is another butterfly that flies over occasionally, but our little butterfly chases him off so that he can have free reign over his domain. It's too bad we don't have any flowers back there!

Backyard Before and After

Just in case you couldn't tell, the first picture is BEFORE the transformation of our backyard into a safe place for the boys to play. We worked very hard on Sunday night to clean it up and get rid of all of the clutter and stuff that was laying around on the patio. It makes for a much nicer place to sit and read or sip a cool drink or munch on an ice-cold popsicle while the boys run and play.
As you can see, we moved the turtle sandbox to a nice shady place under the swingset, and the basketball goal got a new home between two bars on the side of the swingset. It's rather tipsy, so that's a good spot for it.
The bike and the doghouse were banished to the side of the house, and the little pool and the exersaucer will be thrown away. They have both been through way too much, and aren't even worthy of being given away.
We have played outside several times since the "makeover", and we all enjoy being out in the backyard 100% more now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Sticker Chart

Griffin has completely filled in his sticker chart! For those who are unaware, Griffin has been potty-training for the last couple of weeks. We went to the store and got him a whole bunch of "Big Boy Underwear" in Thomas the Train and Finding Nemo designs, and also a bunch of plain white ones. Every time he sat on the potty and actually went, he got three M&M's -- I know, I know, food as a reward isn't good for the psychological development of a child, but I don't think a few M&M's (he calls them "L-N-M's") will damage him for life -- and a sticker for his chart. We have Spiderman, Blue's Clues and Tigger stickers, and he got to choose his sticker every time.

He has been doing very well, and Mommy is getting better at remembering to take him potty on a regular basis. You could say that Mommy is almost fully potty-trained! I think he is knows what it feels like when he has to go, he just need to work on telling me. And bowel movements are another thing. I've heard that it takes a while for many kids to feel comfortable going #2 on the big potty, so that one might take a while. But we're not rushing anything. It will come, in its own (not-so-sweet-smelling) time.
As a reward for filling in his first sticker chart (the next one will be even bigger), we presented him with a little Tonka Truck town that we had picked up for eight bucks at Children's Orchard a few months ago. He is utterly thrilled, and we had fun making a big deal of his accomplishment last night.