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!!