Monday, December 19, 2011

A Crafty Christmas

I've never been an artsy-craftsy kind of person.  I can follow a pattern to make something, but don't ask me to come up with some kind of cute idea all by myself.

None of the following crafty things were my ideas; all of them came with some kind of pattern, recipe or example for me to follow.  Feel free to steal these ideas for some of your Christmas gifts, too.  (None of them came from Pinterest, either.  I fear that I might get sucked into Pinterest so I'm doing my best to avoid it.)

First, a really sweet lady from one of my book clubs made these for all of us last year and I just had to steal her idea:


All of the candy can be found at your local dollar store.  They are inexpensive, easy to make and super cute.  I made these for Evan's classmates and I got quite a few "That is SO cute!" and "What a great idea!" exclamations from his teachers and the moms of his classmates.  His classmates, all of them three years old, didn't care about the cute factor.  That was fine with me.  I still got to look like an artsy-craftsy rock star to their moms.

I found recipes for the following on or through Crunchy Betty's blog:


Again, they were inexpensive, simple to make and cute.  I took this set to a friend who is recovering from hip surgery and is pretty much stuck at home for the next few weeks.  They seemed to brighten her day.  She really liked that the bath salts (which she will be using for a foot soak since she can't get in and out of the bathtub very easily) were candy-cane striped:


This last craft is a bit more complicated since you have to know how to cross stitch to make them.  It is also a lot more time-consuming, but the effort is completely worth it when you see the result:


I made Sydney's and Liam's stockings years ago, but just finished Evan's about a month ago.  The kids love them and I know that they're the kind of thing they'll hold on to for a long time.  Well, Sydney will hold on to hers; the boys' future wives will probably be the ones to hold on to theirs.

Of course, now that I have theirs done, Ryan wants one of his own since he claims that his stocking (that his mother made for him when he was little) doesn't match the rest.  Somehow my stocking (that my mother made for me when I was little) does coordinate with the kids' stockings.  But I don't mind the mismatch:


What do you think?

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Glimmer of Hope

A while back, I heard about a study done in the 70's that measured a child's ability to delay gratification.  In the study, a child was seated at a table alone.  A scientist would then place a plate holding one marshmallow in front of the child with the instruction that the child could eat the marshmallow right away, or if he/she would wait five minutes, then he/she would get a second marshmallow.  The scientist would then leave the room.

The children were videotaped.  Some of them ate the marshmallow immediately.  Some of them looked at it for awhile and then ate it before the wait time elapsed.  The rest of the children waited the whole five minutes and received a second marshmallow upon the scientist's return to the room.

The children were tracked down years later at different milestone ages and even well into adulthood.  The children who ate the marshmallow immediately were more likely to have dropped out of school, gone to prison or become drug addicted.  The children who were able to wait for the second marshmallow, or those who were capable of delaying gratification at a young age, were more likely to have finished school, gone on to college and hold down steady jobs.  I don't remember anything about the middle group, but I'm guessing they fell, you know, somewhere in the middle.

I often think about this study when observing my own kids.  Sydney has almost always been capable of waiting for something she wants; at eight years old, she gets a kick out of seeing how much money she can save up.  Even little Evan, at age three, is well on his way to being able to delay gratification, too.  Sometimes I think the boy has the patience of Job.  

However, I've always worried about Liam.  At five years old, he is our impatient child, the one who given a marshmallow wouldn't hesitate to pop it in his mouth immediately.  I think about the kids in the study who went on to drop out of school or try drugs and I fear for this kid.

Just this past week, though, he's really surprised me.  A few days ago, I fixed him a snack of raisins, a cereal bar and his absolute favorite snack, fruit chews (like Gummy Bears but made with juice).  He ate the raisins, then the cereal bar and saved the fruit chews for last. 

Then for dinner a couple of nights ago, I gave him a plateful of bacon, eggs and biscuits.  He ate the eggs, then the biscuits and then the bacon (his favorite among the three).

And just today after Sunday School, Sydney gave him a little bag with two cookies in it.  I told him he could eat them if he wanted.  He ate one and then gave the other to me "for later."

Wow.  I don't know if it's because he's maturing or because he sees his siblings being able to wait for things they want, but he truly has improved.  

I still haven't worked up the nerve to repeat the marshmallow experiment with him (the boy loves those little puffs of sugar), but I think I might try it soon.

There just may be hope for him yet.  

Thank goodness.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Magic of Christmas

I don't make a secret it of it that we do Santa in our house.  The kids write letters to him each year (Liam actually wrote his own this year!).  We have Sheldon, our elf on the shelf, who appears each morning in a new location and reports back to Santa on a daily basis.  We leave cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve and come Christmas morning, the kids are excited to see what three gifts Santa left in their stockings.  (We have a "if three gifts were good enough for Baby Jesus, then three gifts are good enough for you" tradition in our house.)

At eight years old, I'm surprised that Sydney still believes, but at the same time, I am thrilled.  She gets just as excited as the boys about writing her letter and looking for Sheldon each morning and I know that someday very soon, that little bit of magic and wonderment will be gone from her eyes.

I realize that many Christian households don't "do" Santa and I'm fine with that.  Really, I am.  Their house, their rules.  What makes me angry is when I get a "look" from someone at church or the boys' (Christian) school when I mention anything Santa related.  After talking about how much my kids love our elf on the shelf at a recent book club meeting, one particularly snotty woman looked directly at me and said, "We don't do Santa in our house because that is not Christian.  At all."  I wish I were more clever because I really wanted to say something snotty and rude right back to her about how being judgmental is not exactly Christian-like behavior, either.  But of course, I am not all that clever so I said nothing.

You know, it's not as if my kids don't know the real Christmas story.  We read books about it and they play with their little nativity set (all year long, I might add).  One of our traditions is to build a 24 link paper chain to count down to Christmas.  Each link of the chain contains a Bible verse from the Christmas story and each morning we take off a link, read the Bible verse and then hang it on the wall.  By Christmas day, we have the whole Christmas story hanging up for them to see and read.  We attend Christmas services at our church all month long, culminating in a candlelight service and communion on Christmas Eve.  And all three of them can practically hum "Angels We Have Heard on High" in their sleep after hearing Sydney play it on the piano fifty million times over the past few weeks.

We honestly don't see anything wrong with letting them believe in Santa for a few years.  They will grow up soon enough and learn the truth, but for now, we want them to enjoy their very short childhoods.

I'm perfectly OK with parents who don't "do" the Santa thing.  I honestly do not judge them for it.  I just wish they'd return the favor and not judge me for indulging my children in a sweet holiday tradition.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This is Definitely a First World Problem

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you might remember George, our neighbor in The Big City. (I couldn't find an old post to link to - sorry!)

Four years ago, when we were trying to decide whether to stay in The Big City or move to The Land of Fruit due to our growing family, George mentioned that he was thinking about selling his house.  We toyed with the idea of buying it, tearing down his house and then building onto ours.  Ryan even had some paperwork drawn up.  And then George decided not to sell.  So we moved to The Land of Fruit.

Well, according to our tenant, George put a "For Sale" sign in front of his house yesterday.  He even asked her if we were still interested in buying his house.

We did a quick search to find out how much he was asking and found out that he's only asking for the price of the land since the house is in such terrible condition.

For a brief moment, Ryan and I thought about buying it.  We'd still tear down the house, but that would give us two lots, one for our rental house and one for a yard.  We wouldn't move back there since the kids are settled here in The Land of Fruit, but it would be a fabulous investment and it would give our tenant's son a yard to play in.  And it would give us a nice piece of land for building on when we retire.

But we just don't think we can swing it.  We're already paying down two mortgages and just don't think it's smart to take on another loan, even if it is a fabulous investment (our old house is a mere two miles from Downtown Big City).

So, George will probably sell it to a couple of childless yuppies who will tear it down and put up some kind of three story monstrosity that will bring down the value of our tiny little bungalow.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Cynical, C-Y-N-I-C-A-L, Cynical

Yes, it's been six weeks since I last posted.  I'm going to blame my really old laptop and the fact that it is holding all of our photos hostage.  Or, I can blame my computer snob of a husband who refuses to own anything other than Apple products so that I can't just go buy one of those cheap-o laptops on Black Friday to replace our nearly broken iBook.  Or, I can blame writer's block.  Whatever.  You can choose whichever answer works best for you.

Anyway (I have no brilliant segue ideas), Sydney was chosen to participate in her school's spelling bee next week.  It's quite an honor, seeing as only two kids from each 3rd grade class are chosen.  I'm proud of her, I really am, but it is sad that my first two thoughts when she told me the news (with a huge smile on her face) were:

1. Geez, the other 20 kids in her class must be really terrible spellers, and
2. Great - helping her study all those words is just one more thing I have to do during the busiest time of the year.

Pretty cynical of me, no?

Ryan helped her study the first page of words over the Thanksgiving break (thank you, Ryan!) and I'm going to work with her on the second page this week and next.

The first page is full of 3rd grade-worthy words: commute, butterflies, cabinet, etc.  She can memorize 250 words of that caliber - no problem.

The second page, however, is full of "a 3rd grader is never going to remember how to spell these words" words.  Someone please show me a 3rd grader that can spell resuscitable, astrophysicist, chickabiddy (I had to look up the definition of this one) and slantindicular (this one isn't even recognized by our computer's spellchecker).  Who in their right mind thinks an elementary school student can memorize 250 such words?

Anyway, I'll help her study them as much as we can both stand it, but I feel like she's just being set up for failure with some of those words.  As a typical first child, she doesn't like to fail and as my daughter, she really doesn't like being on stage with people watching her.  I have a feeling she's going to spend her entire time on stage either biting her nails or crying.  Fun times.

At this point, we'll be happy when it's all over.  In fact, I think we'll be downright ecstatic, E-C-S-T-A-T-I-C, ecstatic.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Very Good Name

I had to take Sydney to the pediatrician today for yet another case of strep throat (her fifth bout of it since February, but who's counting?) and had to laugh at the receptionist.

She dutifully asked for the patient's name, but the waiting room was so crowded and noisy that she had a hard time hearing me.  Now, we've run into people who think Sydney's name is Cindy and that is completely understandable to me as the "d" and "n" are easily switched and the name Cindy is an actual name.  But the receptionist thought I called her Disney.  Really?  Do you know anyone who's named their child Disney?

And while I was still giggling about the Disney mix-up, the dad sitting behind me made me laugh even harder when he called for his son, Tres Bien.  I kid you not, that child's name was Tres Bien.  I've heard of Tres (or Trey) as a nickname for a child who shares a name with his dad and grandpa, but I'd never heard Tres Bien.  Of course, there could be some kind of official spelling for that name that I am not aware of, but to my ear, that poor child's name was French for "very good."

So even though my sweet girl is feeling icky and I was not happy about spending an hour in an overcrowded pediatrician's cesspool of a waiting room, at least I got a couple laughs out of the situation. It just makes me wonder if there really are kids out there named Disney.  Surely not, right?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

She's Definitely Not in FFA

Actual conversation I had with the (still in high school) grocery clerk the other day.

Clerk:  You're like the third person I've checked out today who's bought a pork butt.  (Giggles)

Me:  Well, they're on sale and we can get several meals out of one.

Clerk:  I just called my manager and asked him if he'd ever eaten a pig's butt and he said he hadn't.

Me:  Actually, this is the shoulder of the pig; they just call it pork butt.  Ham is actually a pig's butt.

Clerk (with wide eyes):  So when I have a ham sandwich, I'm eating a pig's butt?

Me:  Yes.

Clerk:  Ewwww.

I'm guessing she's not in her school's Future Farmers of America club.

That's just a guess, though.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Days of School

Sydney started school a couple of weeks ago, but here she is on her first day of 3rd grade:


And here she is when she found out she had to sit between two, gasp, boys:


The boys started school earlier this week:


Liam started pre-K.  I can't believe he's getting so big!


He's not too big to love his mama, though:


Evan started a more structured pre-school:


Such a big boy with a sweet smile:


Lots of big changes for us this school year.  One of the biggest is how we're getting to Sydney's school:


The boys are participating in the new regimen, too, by riding in a trailer behind my bike:


With any luck, we'll save some gas money, we'll get some exercise and I will look really good in a swimsuit next summer!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Dear Mother Nature,

Please send us some rain.  Pretty, pretty please?  And while you're at it, can you lower the temperatures by about ten degrees?  We are baking to death and going broke paying our electric and water bills.

Drinking Gatorade by the Gallon,
A Summer-Weary Texan

Dear My Poor Lawn,

I have failed you miserably.  You are half dead and scraggly and you look just downright pitiful.  I apologize for not being able to keep you as lush and green as you're used to.  I have faith in you, though, and I know once we get some good rain, you'll be back to your healthy self.  Hang in there.

Apologizing Profusely,
Your Brown-Thumbed Caretaker

Dear Tenant,

Good for you that you grew up in a place without roaches.  However, you live in Houston now and Houston has roaches.  Big roaches.  The drought is making them come into the house to look for water.  The exterminator's been out.  Twice.  Ryan has sprayed both the inside and outside of the house.  I've offered to make some bug bombs for you and I almost took a picture of a huge roach I saw crawling around our back porch to prove to you that they are everywhere.  I'm sorry it grosses you out, but you're just going to have to deal with it until this drought breaks.

A Fellow Roach Hater,
Your Co-Landlord

Dear Swim Lesson Mom,

I know you have three young boys, but do you have to be so loud all the time, especially in a concreted room that echoes so badly?  Even my boisterous and loud four year old thinks you're a bit over the top in the decibel department.

With Ears Covered,
The Mom Sitting Next to You

Dear Crotchety Old Minister,

If you chastise the congregation one more time for applauding after the choir's special music instead of saying, "Amen", I am going to stomp up to the altar and yell "AMEN" as loud as I can into your hearing aid.

It's Time to Retire,
A Fed-up Congregant

Dear P@t R0berts0n,

Haiti deserves a devastating earthquake for making a deal with the devil and the east coast gets an earthquake and then a hurricane because God is mad at them for being too liberal?  So you can read God's mind, can you?  Wow.  Arrogant, much?

Someone With Compassion

Monday, August 29, 2011


Sydney started 3rd grade last week (how am I old enough to have a 3rd grader?) and since, at least here in Texas, 3rd grade is deemed the "Year of Homework" due to stupid standardized testing, she's already had a few assignments.

One of her first assignments was to learn some vocabulary words.  Because I'm type A a former teacher, I have this thing about making her go a step further than her teacher expects.  All the teacher wanted her to do was study the definitions; I made her come up with sentences using the words to show me that she understood them.

One of her vocabulary words was versatile.  My example sentence for her was, "Tortillas are versatile; they can be used for fajitas, enchiladas, tacos and sandwich wraps."  (Don't make fun of me.  We live a few hours' drive from Mexico; we eat a lot of tortillas around here.)

Sydney's sentence was, "Mommy is versatile; she can cook, clean, do laundry, grocery shop and read a lot."

I don't know whether I should laugh or cry.  On the one hand, I'm glad she's aware that I do a heck of a lot around the house.  On the other hand, I want her to know that women can do more than just take care of a house and family.

Maybe it's time to seriously think about what I want to do once Evan starts kindergarten.  Then maybe she can add "have a career as a ______" or "make money to add to my college fund" to her definition of how versatile I am.

Definitely something to get me to thinking, that's for sure.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Little Things

Guess where Ryan was the last half of July and the first part of August?  Hong Kong!  I didn't post anything about it earlier because I'm not going to announce to the internet, "Hey, my husband's out of town for the next few weeks, please come rob us!", but I figured I could talk about it now that he's home.

Let me tell you, two and half weeks as a single parent of three kids is about two weeks too long, especially in the summertime when they're not in school and we really have no scheduled activities to fall back on.

I found that what I missed most while he was gone was the little things.  I missed him, too, of course, but I guess as a stay-at-home-mom who does 90% of the stuff around the house, I never took into account how much the little things add up.

For example, he gives the boys their baths every night.  He takes out the trash and the recycling (that bin gets really heavy!).  He changes light bulbs.  He gets creepy crawly things out of the house.  He knows the special trick to get the pictures off our camera and on to our ancient computer.  He makes Liam get up to pee before we go to bed.  He hangs up the hanging clothes after I do laundry since he knows I can't stand to it.  He moves the sprinkler around the yard (a nearly daily activity during this terrible drought).  He puts air in my van tires when they get low.  He changes the registration stickers on our vehicles.  He eats leftovers (I can't stand them).  He mows the yard.  He makes a killer mojito.  I could go on and on.

So, I guess I just wanted to let him know that I appreciate all the little things he does around the house because they really do add up and I know this from experience since I had to do them all while he was gone.

Don't worry, though.  I saved some of the fun for him since I couldn't figure out how to put the kids' towel rack back on the wall after they pulled it off.  And I let him change the air filters, too.  I know how to do that, but I didn't know that it was time to do it.  See?  What would I do without him?

Love you, Ryan!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


- I ate my very first Lean Cuisine meal this week.  It may have been lean, but it was not cuisine.  Someone should scold them for false advertising.

- I think that new "Cowboys and Aliens" movie looks so stupid, but I'm the same person who took one look at "Dancing with the Stars" several years ago and said there was no way that show would make it past one season.

- While painting my kitchen the other day, I had Pandora music playing.  During the course of the day, it played several Amy Winehouse songs.  She really was a talented singer.  Such a shame.

- My dad mowed our lawn last week while Ryan was on a business trip.  Sydney asked me how much I was going to pay him.  (Just in case you're wondering, I pay him in food.)

- I dropped the kids off at Ryan's mom's house for a few days so that I could some stuff done around the house.  Sydney said the best part of staying there is that she doesn't have to make her bed.

- I finally started working on Evan's Christmas stocking again.  Poor boy is coming up on his fourth Christmas and it's about time he had his own personalized stocking like his siblings.

- I bit the bullet and paid somebody to come out and clean our carpet.  Wow!  Between that and newly painted kitchen I feel like I'm in a whole new house.

- The kids found a baby gecko in the toy room last week.  Liam asked if we could keep it.  I politely told him "no" as I captured the scared thing and put it outside where it belongs.  Maybe it's time we get some kind of pet....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Found: One Backbone

I knew it was coming.  Really, I did.  I just didn't expect it to come so soon.

I mentioned a while back that I was in charge of our church's Vacation Bible School curriculum this summer.  It wasn't all that difficult or time consuming, especially since Ryan took the kids out for an entire afternoon so that I could finish it without interruption.

Because it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, I went ahead and volunteered to make copies of it for all the teachers.  I even put together a supply list based on the curriculum just to be helpful.

And because I did my job thoroughly and went a little above and beyond, I got the call.

What call is that, you ask?

Well, it was the "Since you did such a great job as curriculum coordinator, I was wondering if you'd be interested in being my co-director for all of Bible School next year" call.  (The term "co-director" is also the code word for the following year's head director.)

My internal response?  "Heck no."

My actual response?  "I am so flattered you'd think of me, but I really don't think I can devote the time to it that it needs."  I went on to tell her that Ryan's work is asking him to travel more this year (true) and that he's gearing up to start a master's program at a nearby university (true) and that I'd be a single mom for much of the next couple of years (also true) thanks to the first two reasons.

She was very understanding and sympathetic since her husband also travels quite a bit, but sad.  She asked who I thought who would be a good person to ask and I told her that I'd think about that and I'd get back to her (and I will because I already have a couple of names in mind).

I'm feeling guilty about it because I know it's a hard job and it's a lot of work.  I also feel guilty because the person who asked me was co-chair this past year and still managed to work full time as a high school science teacher and keep her two children fed, clothed and loved.  I honestly don't know how she did it all and I don't want to find out, either.

However, I'm a big believer that you should volunteer with a happy heart.  If you do it out of obligation then you won't enjoy it at all and people will be able to sense your resentment and neither of those are good things when it comes to dealing with over 400 children and volunteers.

I always joke with Ryan that I inherited my mother's inability to tell people "no", but I guess I didn't.  I suppose I've just learned how to do it politely and with a smile on my face.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer = TV

So, um,'s been a while since I posted.

There's no excuse for it other than the fact that I had nothing to say and didn't really feel like writing.  While Seinfeld may have made a fortune with a show about nothing, nobody wants to read a blog about nothing.  It's not that we haven't done anything, I just didn't have anything to say about it.

We've attended two week long camps at church, spent a week in San Antonio with my parents, done some swimming, played in the sprinkler, played games, read lots of books for the library's summer reading program, gone to see some movies and since it is so hot outside (and by hot, I mean HOT - and I'm from Texas so I know the meaning of the word), we've put our Netflix streaming to use.

For the kids, this is the summer of "Phineas and Ferb".  I'd heard parents rave about it but never actually sat down to watch it before this summer.  It's about a couple of boys who spend their summers using their imaginations and inventing things and irritating their tattle-tale older sister who can never seem to convince their mother that the boys are up to no good.  The fact that the plot hits close to home for us may factor into our newfound love of it.

Ryan and I are making our way through the 1980s series "Thirtysomething" an episode or two at a time in the evenings.  I'm telling you, take away their giant shoulder pads and give them some smart phones and the characters could be anyone you know.  There's a stay at home mom who's struggling with having to give up her career, a couple of husbands trying to make ends meet, a divorced couple and all of their single friends whom you can't help but feel a bit jealous of and a bit sorry for all at the same time.  Sound familiar to anyone?

When I get a spare hour to myself (ha, ha) or have a bout of insomnia, I've taken to watching episodes of  "Roseanne".  I watched it as a teenager and it was funny then, but now that I'm the same age as the parents and have kids of my own, it is an absolute riot: the pranks they pull on their kids, the sarcasm, the coining of new phrases such as "fiduciary Esperanto" when doing their's all ten times better the second time around.

While in Florida, I caught a couple of episodes of "Ice Road Truckers" and got hooked.  I usually can't stand reality TV, but I honestly find this one fascinating.  There are lots of bleeps over the bad words, but I'm fairly certain that anyone driving 10 tons of expensive cargo over frozen roads and lakes would probably drop a few bad words here and there.  And while some people think driving those trucks is the hardest job in the world because it so cold and dark, I'm thinking that the poor people filming it all probably have it even worse.  The truck drivers are in their heated trucks; the cameramen are outside in the forty below zero temperatures filming it all....I'm just sayin'.

I've had fun watching some hoity-toity BBC/Masterpiece Theater movies, too.  I'm a sucker for any kind of historical fiction set in Europe so this is right up my alley.  Just last night I watched "A Room With a View" and got the giggles seeing a young(er) Maggie Smith with a pile of blonde hair on her head and a 19 year old Helena Bonham Carter before she met Tim Burton and turned into a weirdo.  I found myself wondering if the makeup person for the movie had ever heard of tweezers or if they were trying to be historically accurate by giving the younger characters eyebrows that would make Frida Kahlo jealous.

So now that I've given you the impression that all we've done this summer is watch television, I will tell you that we've also done boring stuff like work on multiplication tables and practice handwriting.  But, hey, it's summer and everyone needs a substantial break from the grueling school year schedule, right?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Disney Trip

We're back!  Actually, we got back a few days ago, but between laundry, VBS prep and yet another trip to the pediatrician for strep tests, I'm just now able to sit down for more than five minutes.

I won't bore you with loads of pictures (just a few, I promise!).  I will say that we had a great time and we'll probably go back five to six years from now so that the boys will have some memories of the place.  It truly is a magical place, although the number of fussing/whining/crying children we saw totally contradicts the "Happiest Place on Earth" slogan.  If it was truly the happiest place on earth, it would be free of whiny, overtired children, but maybe that's just me.  Anyway....

Sydney and I spent a day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and had a blast:


I let her choose what we did the entire time.  She got her Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks Restaurant:


And she got to buy a wand (Hermione's, if you're curious):


We also discovered that if you're half an inch too short to ride the main ride and you cry in front of the person who tells you that you can't ride it, you'll get a gift certificate allowing you to be the first in line the next time you come and a personal escort to the front of another ride.  Not bad.

Disney was fun, too.  The kids got to meet their heroes, Woody and Jessie from Toy Story:


Liam loved all the rides he was allowed to go on.  In fact, by using their FastPass and Switchoff options, he got to ride most of them several times while poor Evan sat in the stroller waiting for all of us to finish riding the rides he was too short to go on.

We caved and bought all three kids some mouse ears:


And we forced them to pose for all of the standard photo ops:


We had a couple of "rest" days and stayed at our condo to play at the pool:


And we even took a detour on our 16 hour drive home to see the Atlantic Ocean:


I'd seen both the Atlantic and the Pacific but never actually set foot in them, so this was a first for me, too.  The water was the perfect temperature and the kids had a blast jumping in the waves (in their clothes) and getting soaked.  Now we know that we have to make a trip to the gulf for a day at the beach sometime this summer.

Anyway, we had a great time.  The drive was long and boring and by the end of our last day of driving (we totaled about 1800 miles), we were ready to kill each other.  But the rides, the shows and the overall fun overshadowed the irritation of the drive.

And what do you know....I even left most of my Type A personality at home.  While yes, I did have a spreadsheet prepared for each park with each ride's specifications and height requirements, I truly didn't care when Liam did this:


or this:


I even let Sydney take a picture of me with a Butterbeer mustache. didn't think I was going to let you see it, did you?


Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Funny

The following conversation took place earlier this week when we were discussing our upcoming Florida trip:

Sydney: "Did you get the Harry Potter tickets yet?"

Ryan: "No.  We haven't decided who's going there yet."

Sydney: "What do you mean?"

Ryan: "We haven't decided if all five of us are going or if just you and either me or Mommy is going."

Sydney: "Why can't we all go?"

Ryan: "Because for all of us it costs about $500 to get in."

Sydney: "How much does it cost to get out?"

(She wasn't serious....she was making a joke.)

We about died laughing.  Love that girl.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


What do these three things have in common?

Water Boarding, Pulling out fingernails one by one, swimsuit shopping

If you said they're all forms of torture, then you win the prize!  (Not an actual prize, but one of those self congratulatory pats on the back kind of prizes.)

For an hour this past weekend I was tortured.  No, I didn't suddenly find myself in the hands of some North Korean prison guards.  I found myself in two department stores trying on swimsuits.  Ugh.

I've needed a couple of new swimsuits for about a year now.  We go swimming a lot and mine are worn out, as in the little elastic bra thing in the top of my tankini top is no longer elasticky.  I thought I'd take advantage of the Memorial Day sales and get a couple of new suits.  Ha!  Little did I know that no one makes a decent looking suit for a petite mom of three who can't seem to get rid of her pooch of a belly.

Because he truly has a good eye for what looks good on me, I brought Ryan along.  He sat in the "husband chairs" (you know, the chairs right outside the ladies' dressing room), held my purse and shared his opinions on the dozen or so suits I tried on.  To his credit, he didn't once comment on the jiggliness (hey, if Sarah Palin can make up words then so can I) of my thighs.  He did raise an eyebrow to a couple of the more revealing suits.

I discovered a while back that I look best in v-neck clothing so those are the suits that I gravitate toward.  For some reason, swimsuit designers seem to think that women who like to wear v-necks also like to show their wares to every Tom, Dick and Harry.  You know what?  Not all of us want to show that much boobage....some of us just like v-necks!  

So, anyway, the only suit that really fit me was a blue plaid tankini with, I am not kidding, ruffles on it.  Yes, ruffles on a grown woman's swimsuit.  Really?  I felt like Elly May Clampett and vetoed it immediately.  Who in the world wants ruffles around her hips?  Doesn't that just scream, "Look how wide my hips are!!"?

I don't know what I'm going to do.  I really don't want to wear my old suits anymore.  I know kids are often embarrassed at how their moms look in their swimsuits; mine are so bad, I'm embarrassed for myself.  I also don't want to torture myself any further by trying on any more of them.  

How hard can it be to design a decent, dignified yet cute, swimsuit?

If I'm going to wear something that amounts to, let's face it, underwear that is worn in public, I've got to have some standards. 

And apparently current swimwear designers have no standards whatsoever.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


My life seems to revolve around 'O' words these days.

There's the end of the Oprah show.  I started watching her show when I was ten years old.  I grew up with her.  While I missed several years when she was in her weird spirituality phase, I started watching again when Sydney was a baby.  I certainly skipped a lot of shows (I can't stand make-over shows), but I did wind up watching most of this last season.  Most people say they'll just start watching her new network, but since we don't have cable or satellite, this truly is the end of an era for me.

And then there's my outstanding kids who surprise me everyday with their achievements and capacity to care for others.  Sydney has finished 2nd grade with all A's and over 200 reading points (that's a lot for a 2nd grader).  She proceeded to spend half of her reading points at the little library store on gifts for her brothers.  Liam insisted on saving a cookie for Ryan (who missed dinner one evening) and giving his brother a turn at being first at something.  And Evan has taken to sharing his snack with Liam.  He won't share his drinks - that boys loves his liquids - but he has no problem giving his food to others.

And, finally, there's my feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the whole Disney vacation thing.  I've read, researched, made notes, talked to dozens of experienced Disney travelers and I'm still overwhelmed.  There is simply too much to do there and we're not even bothering with the character meals or extras like the dining plans.  I'm going to let the kids watch YouTube videos on various attractions and make a list of things we just can't miss and then we'll fill in the rest of days with any other things we can fit in.  I told Ryan that my biggest obstacle will be being able to throw my Type A personality out the window so that the kids can enjoy the experience without feeling like their mom is a drill sergeant.  I know we won't get to ride everything or see everything, especially since all three kids are too short to ride a lot of things, and I just have to get it through my thick skull that the kids will enjoy whatever it is we get to do there.  I guess we'll just have to plan to go back in a few years so that we can catch all the things we missed this time.  :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Every. Single. Time.

Anyone with kids knows that asking your kids to use the bathroom before you go somewhere is a complete waste of time.  Oh, they might actually "go" before you leave, but you'll still wind up taking them to the bathroom wherever you go.

Every Wednesday, I make all three kids go to the bathroom before we leave for swim lessons.  Both Sydney and Evan can last the entire hour we're there without having to visit the nasty swim lessons bathroom.  However, halfway through his lesson, Liam comes and finds me for our weekly trip to the chlorine-smelling pair of toilets.  I'm usually reading a book with Evan when the side door opens to reveal my four and half year old drowned rat with a look of urgency on his face and both hands holding his bottom.  Every.  Single.  Lesson.   And he's not alone.  There are two other little boys around the same age who do the exact same thing.  Their mothers and I joke that the swim lesson people must put some kind of laxative in the water.

And let's not forget the park.  Five minutes into a trip to the park, at least one of the kids comes up to me doing the potty dance.  Every.  Single.  Time.   And then, of course, we have to leave the park to high tail it home because very few parks have bathrooms.  It's always fun racing home with one desperate child and their two angry siblings.

Oh, and the grocery store!  That's always a fun one.  Just as I reach the meat department in the back left corner of the giant store, at least one of the boys says in his outside voice, "I need to go poo poo right now, Mommy."  Every.  Single.  Time.  Naturally, the restroom at our giant grocery store is near the front right corner of the store so I have to weave my way across the entire store at an inhuman pace in order to walk the nearly quarter of a mile (I am not kidding) to the restroom before the offending child has done something to destroy a shopping cart and get me banned from the store for life.

No parenting books (that I've read anyway) ever mention that your child will need to visit the bathroom of every place you visit.  I've found that they also never mention that having to use the bathroom is contagious among the under five crowd.

Maybe these are just the things they want you to find out for yourself.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


So here it is, 4:30 am, and I'm up for the day.  Not by choice, of course.

My "I fall asleep just fine but heaven help me if I wake up in the middle of the night" insomnia has struck again and here I am wide awake at this horrible hour.

And since there is absolutely nothing on TV at 4:30 in the morning (especially since we only have antenna TV now), what else is there to do but get on the computer?

Ironically, one of the news stories currently on my homepage is titled something like "10 Things That Mess Up Your Sleep" so of course I had to read it.  Most of what they had to say falls under the "well, duh" category - limit caffeine, don't exercise right before bed, don't work right before bed, don't eat a heavy meal right before bed, don't take a late afternoon nap.  Is there anyone who doesn't already know these things?

They should list some real life reasons for sleeplessness like:
-children who wake up crying (and come into your room) at 12:30 am and then again at 3:30 am.
-workaholic husbands who can't go back to sleep, either, and get ready for work and leave at 3:30.
-clogged sinuses that are painful and make it hard to breathe.
-a to-do list about a mile long.
-feeling guilty that you let your kids watch too much TV the previous day because of the clogged sinuses and mile long to-do list
-worrying about things that are uncontrollable.
-trying to come up with daily plans for a really-expensive-so-we-are-not-wasting-any-time Disney vacation.
-a meeting with a school principal to request that your high achieving, yet not officially GT kid, be put in the GT class so that she can be challenged more.
-having only two more days of freedom since Mother's Day Out ends this week.
-being mad that you bought your kid a nice camera for her birthday just to find out that she can't take either of the photography classes you'd planned for this summer.
-feeling guilty that you were happy that a book club member you can't stand didn't make it to the previous night's meeting.
-trying to figure out how to tell another book club member that, despite her continued insistence that it's wonderful, you are not interested in attending a really intensive Bible study four towns over.  (Apparently my reasoning that it's too far away is not good enough.)

Aren't those much better reasons than the ones the article mentioned?

So.....what keeps you up at night?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Birthday Bash

May is a busy month for us with Sydney and Evan having their birthdays just two days apart.  Add in all of the end of school hoopla, and we're ready for summer when it finally arrives.

Sydney's birthday was Friday and since she loves the movie "Mamma Mia!", we decided to take her and a friend to see the Broadway production of it in The Big City.  We ate at our favorite pizza joint and then headed to the theater for the musical.  Neither of the girls had ever been to a production of that magnitude and had a great time, even if they did keep exclaiming that it was different from the movie.  And yes, I was a little disappointed that Colin Firth (who was in the movie) did not make an appearance on the stage Friday evening.  Sigh....such is life.

Evan woke up on Sunday to his traditional birthday breakfast of cinnamon rolls and told us how old he was:

(He's holding up three fingers, but the third one's a bit hard to see.)

He promptly reminded everyone we saw at church of his birthday, too: "Today's my birthday!  I'm three today!  I'm having a dinosaur cake!"

He'd been eyeing a certain dinosaur cake on the bakery counter of our favorite grocery store for ages, so there was no way we could disappoint him and not have that cake (gaudy as it was) at our family party on Sunday afternoon:


Both kids had a great time opening their presents (this is just a very small sampling):

(A stuffed dog for Evan)

(He loves dragons as much as dinosaurs)

(A bubble mower for the yard!)

And Sydney's birthday wouldn't be complete without some Harry Potter stuff:

(Harry Potter Clue Game)

(The 7th Harry Potter movie which she just had to watch last night)

She also got the Lego Harry Potter Wii game, but somehow I can't get that picture to load.

And then the kids had fun playing in their new sprinkler and rolling around in their new play tunnel:


(This Evan saying, "Ta da!" after each crawl through the tunnel.)

They both had great birthdays.  And now I can rest a few months until Liam's birthday this fall.  Whew!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Would You Rather....

My parents have a board game at their house that Sydney and my nieces like to play when we're all visiting.  It's called "Would You Rather....".  Basically, you have to choose the lesser of two evils when given a pair of either really silly or really gross scenarios.  For example:

1.  "Would you rather.....have your mom give you a huge sloppy kiss in front of all of your friends when dropping you off at school or have your friends witness your parents kiss for a full ten seconds?"

2.  "Would you rather....drink the juice the gathers at the bottom of a garbage bag or lick the bottom of your brother's shoe?"

We all have a good time watching the girls play it, especially when they get to giggling over the scenarios.

However, I wasn't laughing a whole lot this week when our lives turned into a game of "Would You Rather....".  Just this week we faced the following dilemmas:

1. Would you rather hold down your daughter while she gets a shot for strep or see your son's knocked out teeth in your husband's hand?

2. Would you rather watch your daughter gag on the strep test q-tips shoved down her throat or watch your son get a set of x-rays on his bloody and mangled mouth?

3. Would you rather get up two nights in a row to deal with a vomiting child or get only four hours of sleep one night because you're so worried about two sick/hurt kids?

4. Would you rather have to change a set of vomit-crusted sheets at 4:30 in the morning or smear antibiotic liquid on  the gaping holes in your son's mouth where he used to have two teeth?

Except this game of "Would You Rather...." didn't let us choose between the scenarios.  We had to do them all.

Yep, it was one of those weeks.  Sydney was home most of the week with strep throat (which, for her, means a sore throat and nausea/vomiting) and Liam slipped after his swim lesson and knocked out his top two front teeth.  While Sydney will get better, Liam will have a gaping hole in his mouth until his permanent teeth come in when he's seven or eight years old.  And, in addition to his normal speech difficulties, now has a lisp.

The only upside is that they're both on the same diet: soft foods, popsicles and ice cream.

And Evan?  He's perfectly healthy and perfectly content to take advantage of all the extra frozen treats in the house.

I guess one healthy kid out of three isn't bad.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A friend of mine has been making her own strawberry jam for years and offered to show me (and a few others) how to do it.  Unfortunately, her jam making session was on a day that the boys weren't in pre-school so I couldn't go, but I promised myself that I'd figure it out for myself.

First, we went strawberry picking at a nearby orchard.  We, and by "we" I mean Ryan and I since the kids picked about five strawberries each and then sat in the wagon and ate a snack, picked about 14 pounds of the yummy little berries:


As soon as we got home, I got to work hulling and washing them.

This is what four pounds of hulled, washed strawberries looks like:


And this is what they look like all smashed up with a potato masher:


Almost all of the recipes I found for strawberry jam called for 3-4 pounds of mashed up strawberries, a package of pectin (to create the "jelly" consistency) and, get this, 6-7 cups of sugar.  Now I'm not a health nut; my kids know what candy is and they're allowed the occasional non-caffeinated soda.  But 6-7 cups of sugar?  No thank you.

I eventually found a recipe that said you can use no sugar added apple or white grape juice so I compromised and added one cup of white grape juice and one cup of sugar to our mashed up strawberries.  The juice added too much liquid and I wound up boiling the mixture way too long to get a good consistency.  My four pounds of strawberries turned into.....wait for it.....just two and half jars of jam:


It's a lot thicker than I'd like it to be, but the taste is phenomenal.  I can't wait to spread it on our pb&j sandwiches and breakfast toast.

Will we do it again?  I don't know.  It's yummy.  It'll last a long time (it's so rich a little bit will go a long way).  It's fairly healthy since I cut the sugar by five cups.  But it was a lot of work for two jars of jam.  My friend said to skip the big pot of boiling water to sanitize and then seal the jam jars and that will cut an hour off of the jam making process, but I'm a bit leery about germs and bacteria and such.  Of course, she knows what she's doing since she hasn't killed anyone with her jam.

So we'll see.  Maybe we'll try again next year.  Or maybe I'll just keep buying it from the people with the last name of Smucker who know what they're doing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning (Kinda)

Some people get the urge to do an intense house cleaning each spring.  I am not one of those people.

If there's a room that is particularly bad off (I'm currently thinking of our bedroom which has become the holding area for kid artwork, quilting projects that are works in progress, an exercise machine that rarely gets used, music equipment that is too fragile to be near children for more than five minutes at a time and toys that have been confiscated due to misuse and/or excessive noise [this is in addition to the regular bedroom items like, oh, a bed, chest of drawers and desk]), I spend several good hours doing a complete overhaul and cleaning.  But that could come at any time of the year, not just in the spring time.  The master bedroom is due for its big cleaning any day now; the fact that it happens to be spring is just a coincidence.

But, like any good procrastinator, I decided to tackle something else first, because what better way to think about how to organize your bedroom than to organize your pantry first?  (This reminds me of the numerous times that I re-organized my dorm room closet to avoid writing some awfully boring paper.)

When my mother-in-law told us that the not-so-nice Tupperware people were going to strip her of her consultant title due to low sales, we put in a huge order.  And by huge, I mean huge.  She generously charged us for only half of it, calling the other half my belated birthday present.  And our pantry went from this:



(Notice the large number of giant plastic bags holding things like powdered sugar, brown sugar and marshmallows.  So classy.)

To this:



(Yes, I used a label maker to label the canisters.  And yes, I am totally type A.)

We are loving it!  Now we're trying to figure out which appliances can be donated to the annual church garage sale so we can free up some more pantry space.  The coffee maker that gets used once a year when the out of town in-laws visit?  The fry-cooker that never gets used because we don't eat fried foods anymore?  The juicer that was a wedding gift that we've used a grand total of two times in ten years?  And then there are the mixer accessories we got as wedding gifts.  Seems kinda dumb to keep storing them when we don't even have a mixer, doesn't it?

Maybe once the pantry is completely organized to our liking, we'll get started on our bedroom.  But then, I'll probably find some other project to latch onto just so I can keep avoiding the bedroom.

Ahh, procrastination.....gotta love it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Random Friday Tidbits

* We have eight tiny tomatoes growing on our tomato plants!  I cannot believe how excited I am about this.

* I've been saving glass jars for a few months now and after we go strawberry picking next week, I am going to make strawberry jam for the very first time.  I can't believe how excited I am about this, either.

* I bought some flax seed at the grocery store and then came home and ground it up myself.  I think moving to the suburbs has made me even "crunchier" than I used to be in the city.

* My budding reader, Sydney, has started the 6th Harry Potter book.  She's read books 2-5 this year; she read (the 750 page) book five in about three weeks.  She reads at the breakfast table, in the car on the way to and from school and the other day she walked into a wall because she was reading.  Love my little bookworm!

* On a related note, Sydney has about 150 AR points at school (the kids read books, take computerized tests on them and earn points for correct answers).  Last year she ended the school year with 32 points.  Talk about a huge improvement!

* And another related note, she told us that someone paid her a dollar to help them with their AR test.  We put an end to that and made her give the dollar back, but I'm kinda proud of her for using her brain to get paid.  Is that bad?

* The boys only have about four more weeks of pre-school until they're out for the summer; I want to cry.

* We had some friends over last weekend for a really fun crawfish boil.  I spent a couple of hours peeling the leftover crawfish and I'm going to make a yummy etouffee out of it for our Good Friday dinner.  Yum!

* We're getting really excited about our Disney trip.  I'm trying to decide if we should go to Universal Studios for a day so that Sydney can see the Harry Potter theme park.  I'd hate to miss the opportunity for her to see the Harry Potter stuff since she's currently obsessed with it.

* We're taking the kids to go see Disney on Ice tomorrow for the Toy Story 3 show.  Both boys love all things Toy Story.  They have no idea we're going and I can't wait to see their faces!

* My mother-in-law officially retired yesterday.  I wonder if we can wrangle some more free babysitting from her now.....  ;)

* We're using our tax refund to pay medical bills.  Aren't we exciting?

* I need to go buy myself two new swimsuits for the summer.  I am convinced that having to shop for swimsuits after having children is torture.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

As is tradition here in Texas, we took our annual bluebonnet pictures this past weekend.  I may not be the best mom when it comes to taking my kids to a photography studio on a regular basis, but I have managed to get bluebonnet pictures every year.  Darn it, my kids are going to know that they are Texans!

Without further ado, our 2011 bluebonnet pictures:


(Liam = family clown)

(She loves having her picture taken.)

(You can just see the mischievousness in his eyes, can't you?)

(Even with messed up hair, he's a sweetie.)

(Evan enjoying his reward for sitting for pictures - yum!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's a Mystery!

On our way to take our annual bluebonnet pictures this past weekend (pictures coming soon), we stopped at our rental house in The Big City to set some rat traps in the attic (cue the collective "ewwww!") and pick up some mail that our renter was holding for us.  Our sweet neighbor happened to be outside and we visited with her for a while.  She couldn't believe how much the kids have grown since she'd last seen them and then made us a little sad when she said she's about to put her house on the market.  Her house is officially designated as an historic site because it's the oldest, free-standing brick (former) grocery store in the neighborhood.  In fact, the people who owned and ran the grocery store nearly a century ago used to live next door to it in our house (also about 100 years old).

Anyway, that was quite a tangent considering what I really wanted to write about what was one of the letters that our renter was holding for us.  Although it was addressed to both Ryan and I, neither of us recognized the handwriting or return address.  It read:

Dear Sir,

Back in 1962 I owned the house at _________.  I would like to know the owners' names and phone number so I can call them and see if a picture I painted on the wall is still there.  Thank you so much.  My address is _______ and my phone number is _______.  Enclosed is a stamped envelope to mail back to me.  


His Name

The house he was referring to is two doors down from our rental house.  Neither of us had ever talked to the people living there so we have no idea if the painting he mentioned is still on their wall, but I did jot down a few notes about the condition of the house as we drove by it.

As soon as we got home, I looked up the owners' names on the county's website and found their phone number in The Big City phonebook.

I mailed a response to the man this morning and I'm sure we'll never hear from him again, but the whole thing has really piqued my curiosity about both the painting on the wall and the man who wrote to us.

Who knows if the painting is still there after nearly fifty years, but wouldn't it be really cool if it were?

Monday, March 28, 2011


Dear Homeowner's Association,

I dare you to send us another letter about the condition of our yard.  In case you didn't notice, we had several freezing days in a row and everything in everybody's yards died.  It's called winter, you morons.  We've spent a good 25 hours the past few weekends raking, trimming, mowing the grass and sprucing up the flower beds.  So if you send us another "polite" letter, I'm going to "politely" tell you where to put it.

The Homeowners

P.S.  You nosy people have way too much time on your hands.

Dear Pollen,

You win.  We're all sick.  Now go away.

With Sniffles,
Our Stuffy Noses

Dear Rain,

Please come wash away the nasty pollen.   We'd be ever so grateful.

Our Sinuses

Dear Future Vacation Bible Schoolers,

I have worked really hard to develop a fun curriculum for you this summer.  I'm sorry if you don't like everything I've picked for you to do, but seeing as I'm not an elementary level teacher, I think I've done a pretty good job.  I hope you have lots of fun making butter and ice cream, tasting various spices and doing several fun cooking experiments!

On Pins and Needles,
The VBS Curriculum Coordinator

Dear My Little Tomato Plants,

This is the first year I've attempted to grow anything other than herbs.  You're looking great now, but I have a brown thumb and I'm worried for your future.  Please hang in there.

Fingers Crossed,
A Hopeful Gardener

Dear Kindle,

Oh, how I love thee!  I still enjoy reading regular books (with all your bells and whistles, you still can't replicate the smell of a book), but I can already tell that we're going to have a long relationship.  Although, I do wish I could figure out how to find more free books because yes, I'm still cheap frugal.

In Heaven,
A Happy Reader

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seven Year Old Drooling

One of the upsides to getting rid of our satellite dish (in addition to saving some money) is that I don't have to watch all of those dumb Disney Channel shows that cater to the 7-11ish crowd.  We have access to them on Netflix streaming so that she can watch them someday, but I'd rather Sydney stay as young as possible for as long as possible so that she doesn't grow up too fast can maximize her childhood.  She's perfectly content to watch PBS shows and old Brady Bunch reruns that we found on some random antenna channel and we're perfectly content to let her do so.

Some of her little friends have the so-called "Bieber Fever" and I'm happy to say that we've avoided that as well.  We don't listen to his music (I honestly don't even know what station plays it) and even though some of her friends have posters of him in their rooms (at seven years old!), she still has posters of kittens in hers.

However, I guess every little girl has to have some kind of obsession/crush and Sydney's is Harry Potter.  She's almost done with the fourth book and is currently halfway through An Unofficial Muggle's Guide to the Wizarding World: Exploring the Harry Potter Universe.  Practically every sentence out of her mouth is Harry Potter related and I bet she could defeat anyone in a Harry Potter trivia game.

For fun, I recorded an episode of Regis and Kelly last week when I saw that they would be interviewing Harry himself during one of their segments.  When she saw Daniel Radcliffe on the screen, she almost passed out.

She flopped down on the couch, her chin resting in her hands and with the silliest grin on her face, watched the entire segment with a dazed look on her face.  When Liam said something she snapped, "Hush, Liam!  I can't hear him talk!!"

I think she's watched it about six or seven times now and is just over the moon.  He doesn't even talk much about Harry Potter since he's promoting his new Broadway show ("How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" if you're interested), but she still practically drooled.

So, I guess I can keep some objects of admiration off her radar, but the need to have a crush on someone or something must be ingrained in girls of her age.

Oh well.  I'd rather have her excited about reading the next book in the series than have her begging me for tickets to a Justin Bieber concert.  It may get a little annoying, but at least Harry Potter doesn't make me want to throw up.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sick of Being Sick

Um, yeah.  So the blogging's been a little sporadic lately.

Every time I sit down to write a post, all I can come up with is something along the lines of, "Kid A is sick with _________" or "Now Kid B's come down with ________" and since I know that everyone else's kids are sick too, I feel like there's no need to add to the misery.

But that is seriously the only things I've had to talk about for the last three months.  Someone in my house has been sick since the middle of December.  So instead of individual posts about each kid and their various ailments and my misery at having to schlep them to the doctor's and wiping up their vomit/washing out their ruined underwear I thought I'd post one giant "We've all been sick and miserable" entry and be done with it.

So there was my stomach bug over our 10th anniversary in December.  Sydney had a touch of that one, too, but thankfully was out of school on break so didn't miss anything.

Then I caught a horrible cold in January.  And Evan had his tear duct surgery; I'm so behind that those pictures are still on the camera.

In February, I came down with strep throat.  And then Liam got strep throat, too.  Then Sydney got some sort of stomach bug and missed her class's Valentine's party and ruined her chances of the Perfect Attendance Award since that was the first day of school that she'd missed all year.  And then Liam seemed to catch her same stomach bug while on their monthly camping trip, but after three days of watching him carry around his "throw-up bowl" and waiting for him to get over it, he started coughing really hard and I took him to the doctor where we found out that it was not a stomach bug, but strep (again) and the poor boy had pneumonia, too.  His little chest was black and blue from all the coughing.

February turned into March and Evan began running a fever.  I called the pediatrician begging for some strep throat antibiotics because, hello!, his brother just had it and I'd rather not make him sit in that cesspool of germs known as the waiting room, but noooooooo........, we had to drive all the way into The Big City (because we haven't switched pediatricians yet) just to have his throat swabbed and "make sure" that's what it was and whaddya know, it turns out that yes, he did have indeed have strep, too.  The pedi was all apologetic about not trusting me, but I know deep down she just wanted another $40 co-pay out of us.  And once both boys finally started feeling better, Sydney woke up yesterday throwing up and having some, in her words, "squirty poop" so back to the pediatrician's office we went today for another strep test.  Hers came back negative so they're sending it to another lab to get more money out of us for further testing and we came home with instructions to treat it like rotovirus which means at least two more days of clear liquids and crackers and no school until she's vomit/squirty poop/fever free.  Who knows when that will be, but it better be soon because I have exactly two weeks to read two books for book club, prepare curriculum for this summer's Vacation Bible School and I'd really like to pull the rest of the wallpaper off of my kitchen walls and I can't do any of that with all of these sick kids!!

To add insult to injury, our trees are starting to bloom with pollen so I give myself about five days before I've got a sinus infection.

See?  Loads of fun in the Dress-up and Diaper Changes household for the past few months.

But!!  Next week is Spring Break and if everyone is well, we've got lots of fun things planned, including a trip to The Big City's gigantic Livestock Show and Rodeo.  That should make for a good blog post or two and lots of pictures of my kids reacting to the sights, sounds and lovely smells of various farm animals.

Of course, in order to see those pictures, I'll have to find the time to take them off the camera.  So I'm guessing you'll get to see them sometime in the middle of April.   :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Angel on my Shoulder

On the evening of my senior prom (many, many years ago), a tornado swept through my little hometown. I left the hairdresser's about 4:30 and made my way home to get dressed and then head to a friend's house to climb into the limo we'd rented for the evening (along with eight other people - limos aren't all that expensive when you split them 10 ways!).

The sky was an icky yellow-green color and the wind was insane.  My little car rocked back and forth with each wind gust and I began to freak out a bit.  Tree branches were flying through the air and just as I was about to make a turn, a tree fell right in front of my car and blocked the only road into the neighborhood.  This was before cell phones (yes, I'm that old) so I jumped out of the car and ran to the nearest house.  The woman who answered the door took one look at me, a hysterical teenage girl with a prom-ready hairdo, gave me a hug and let me use her phone.  I called home, told my mom what happened and that I couldn't get home because of the tree.  Luckily, I grew up in the kind of town where most men drive pickups and carry chains and not long after, two men used their trucks and chains to move the tree off the road and I sped home.

My mom gave me the biggest hug of my life and said, "The angels were looking out for you today, weren't they?"

Indeed they were.  Turns out that I drove right through the tornado.  It tore a path right along the road I was on and two people died in the trailer park that I had to drive past to get to my neighborhood.

The angels have been watching out for me ever since, too.  Whether it was a close call with another car on the road or defying the odds when my doctor said I would most likely miscarry Liam, the angels have been sitting on my shoulder.

Just last week, they did it again.

After Ryan spent two evenings in a row watching some Netflix-streamed documentaries (I was at my book club meetings), he got all worked up over what he'd watched.  He was so mad about what he'd seen, he had a really hard time sleeping.

About 2 am, I was in a deep sleep when a little voice inside my head said, "Wake up.  Wake up now!"  I made myself wake up and instead of hearing what I expected which was Liam coughing (he had pneumonia last week), I heard absolutely nothing.  Ryan had stopped breathing.

I put my hand on his arm and he woke up gasping for air.  He'd had one of his apnea episodes.

I spent the rest of the night just dozing while I listened to him breathe, cursing documentary makers the entire time.  And this past Sunday when we watched the Oscars and he seemed interested in the documentary that won the Academy Award, I refused to add it to our Netflix queue after he asked me to do so.

So yeah, the angels are still watching out for me and I hope they continue to do so; I can't imagine what life would be like without them.

Have you ever had a guardian angel moment?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I've talked about our family camping trips before, but I don't know that I've mentioned too often that Ryan takes Sydney (and now Liam) camping about once a month with a bunch of other local dads and their kids.  The kids have an absolute blast and I am perfectly happy to sit at home with no one whining about the chick flick I've ordered from Netflix.  I'm fairly certain that what they love most about camping is the fact that there are no moms on the trips.  My suspicions have been confirmed by the following things I've heard the last few months:

Sydney:  "I only brushed my teeth one time the whole weekend!"

Liam (to Ryan while he was packing):  "Why are you packing towels?  We don't take showers at camping."

Sydney:  "Did you know that there is such a thing as powdered donuts?!?"

Liam:  "I like going pee pee outside!"

Overheard from another camper:  "I can tell no moms are there because there are never any vegetables."

And my personal favorite camping revelation-

Sydney:  "When you toot at camping, you don't ever have to say, 'excuse me.'"


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Death of Me

Liam's speech has progressed so much in his new four hour a week speech program, that he was kicked graduated out of it and while I'm thrilled that he has improved, I am crying about the loss of the much needed break I get when he's gone.

This week is our first non-speech week in about a year and I'm guessing that I need to find a new activity to keep us busy because I'm about to lose my mind with him home more than I'm used to.  Just yesterday Liam managed to:

- pull all of the the books off of the kids' bookshelves.  I estimate that we have around 200 of them.
- empty his and Evan's backpacks.
- smear the hand cream that was in one of their backpacks all over the living room carpet.
- open a box of bandages and spread them all over the bathroom.
- open several tubes of trial sized toothpaste (thank you, pediatric dentist) and smear some on the bathroom counters.
- play with a really old baby nasal aspirator in the toilet.

It's not like I had them at home and bored all day.  We went to the store, got haircuts and had swim lessons.  Apparently that's not enough to keep him occupied.

If I was on the fence about his going to two day or four day pre-K next year, I'm sure as heck not on the fence now.

I shudder to think about the things he'll do as he gets older!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Some Horn Tooting

I might have to change the name of this blog.

The kids still like to dress up.

But as of this past weekend, I no longer have to change diapers!!!

I started potty training Evan on Wednesday (with temperatures in the twenties and rolling electricity blackouts - that was lots of fun, especially when it took me five hours to finish one load of laundry) and by Saturday, the boy had it down.

There were lots of wet Mickey Mouse underpants, lots of mini m&m's and more under-the-breath mutterings of "I hate potty training!" than I'd like to admit.  But, other than a few mishaps, the boy is in underwear during all waking hours.

We also started working with Liam on his night time potty training.  He woke up in a dry pull-up this morning.  Hurray!!

And, of course, since I've bragged a bit, they'll both regress overnight and I'll be washing a load of laundry composed entirely of teeny tiny underwear and sheets tomorrow.

But at least there won't be rolling blackouts that make the washer and dryer turn off mid-cycle this time.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Since we haven't gotten the nerve to try Liam still hasn't gotten the hang of night time potty training yet, he still wears a diaper to bed.*  After his evening bath, Ryan puts him in his underwear and then he puts a diaper on him right before bedtime.

Well, one evening last week our routine was thrown off after Evan's tear duct surgery (a post coming on that soon) and the next morning Liam staggered into our room at 5:30 am (!) and told me that he was wet.  His diapers have exploded before, so I muttered something along the lines of, "Well, take off your pants and diaper, find some underwear and go back to bed.  It's still night time."

He dutifully did as he was told and when I went to help him with his clothes after breakfast, I discovered a pair of soaking wet pajama pants and underwear on his floor.  His bed was soaking wet as well.  There was not a diaper, wet or dry, in sight.  What a fun start to the day!  I wasn't happy about spending the day washing sheets, blankets and a mattress pad, but there was no point complaining about it (out loud, at least).

When Ryan got home from work that evening, Liam confronted him.  "You forgot to put a diaper on me, Daddy!" he exclaimed.  "I had an accident."  And then he put on his best pouty face.

A few days later, Ryan took the two older kids camping for the weekend.  I packed enough food, clothes and supplies to last them several days even though they were only going for three.

Ryan called me at 8:30 pm the first night and asked where I packed Liam's diapers.


I didn't do it on purpose, I promise.  My forgetting to pack diapers may have been subliminal payback for the soaking wet clothes and bedding, but it certainly wasn't a conscious effort to torture him while out in the wilds of a nearby state park.

Lacking any other solution, Ryan stuffed Liam's underwear with the washcloths I'd packed and put him to bed.  That worked about as well as you can imagine.

I'm still giggling about it all.

* We'd already planned to dive into night time potty training with him after this camping trip.  We're also going to start Evan on his regular potty training this next week.  I'm going to be up to my elbows in wet underwear for the foreseeable future; I consider that my penance for laughing about the camping washcloth/diaper situation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dave Ramsey for Kids

We decided last year that the entire family would go on a Dave Ramsey type plan.  We really want to instill good money habits in our kids early on so that they (hopefully) will never run into major financial difficulties.  I mentioned last year that we're trying to instill the quality of generosity in them, too, and the Dave Ramsey plan for kids addresses that quite well.

The boys are little young for it, but at age seven, Sydney is the perfect age.  She earns three dollars a week as her allowance by doing her chores.  She has to make her bed every day, put her clothes away after laundry day and clean her room once a week.  She also has to set the table for dinner.  We like that she has to earn the money and there were a few weeks in which she didn't want to clean her room, so she didn't get her allowance.

Her three dollars are divided into three locations:  the charity jar in the kitchen (where our loose change goes, too), her piggy bank for her savings and her coin purse for her spending money.

She's allowed to spend her spending money any way she chooses.  This past year, she used it to buy some doll accessories, a book and a little wooden shelf with pegs that we will eventually paint so that she has somewhere to hang her many purses (yes, she is a girly girl).  She still has quite a bit left from last year and is currently thinking about how she wants to spend it.  We love that she doesn't just go out and spend money because she has it, but that she carefully considers her options.

At the end of the year, we let her choose how to spend the charity jar money.  We gave her several options including local animal shelters, homeless shelters, the March of Dimes and Heifer International.  She chose to donate it to Heifer International and specified that she be able to "buy" a share of a llama and three sets of rabbits for families in need.  Of course, she thought the rabbits were going to be pets and was a little sad when we said that they would probably be used for their fur and meat, but she's at an age where she can understand where meat comes from and how important livestock can be for a poor family.

Her piggy bank savings not only included what she earned through her allowance money this year, but what she's been saving since she was very little in birthday and holiday money.  Ryan took her to the bank where she opened up her very first bank account.  She was a little apprehensive about handing over all of her money (quite a bit for a seven year old, I might add) to the clerk, but was happier when Ryan and I matched it.  We will do this every year and we've told her that this is the money that will be used to buy her a car when she's older.  With three kids, there's no way we can afford to buy them each a car, but we have no issues helping them buy cars if they've saved quite a bit of the money themselves.

We also adopted a deployed soldier this year and donated to the March of Dimes through her school's reading program (at a $1 book, she about broke us!).  She's had lots of fun helping me shop for the soldier and drawing pictures for him and it's also led her to be more interested in world events.  She watches the nightly news with interest and gets excited and curious when Afghanistan is mentioned (where our soldier is stationed).

This year, we're hoping to get her more involved in some local charities.  Through her Girl Scout troop, she's been involved in several community volunteer events.  There's a local foster care facility that is renovating a building with the aid of some churches (including ours) and we're hoping Ryan can take her on one of the workdays to help out.  I'm also looking into joining the local epilepsy foundation since that is now a cause that is near and dear to our hearts and I think it would be good for her to join one of us in their annual charity walk.

Raising a generous and money-wise child is really tough!  In the end, we know it will pay off when she (hopefully) turns out to be a giving and responsible adult, but it's definitely a lot of work!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Hard Way

After an entire morning of being a royal pain in the rear end, Ryan just told Liam he can't go to a birthday party this afternoon.

The boy got up at 6:45 which is offensive enough considering this one day of the week when we don't have to set any kind of alarm.  It is now 11:30.  In less than five hours, he's managed to destroy the toy room by dumping toys all over the floor.  He's upturned not one, but three puzzles on the foyer floor.  He's dumped another puzzle on the living room coffee table.  He's antagonized and hit his sister.  He's antagonized his little brother.  He's got into the wrapping paper and unwound an entire spool of ribbon.  He's used a stool to grab a pair of scissors (forbidden to him since he cut up a book a few months ago) and then proceeded to run with them when I tried to get them back.

After being sent to his room, he came back out without permission saying he'd be nice.  We told him to go back to his room and he screamed, "I SAID I'M BEING NICE!"

So he's going to miss the birthday party.  He tried to change our minds by making his bed and cleaning the toy room.

No dice.

Sometimes they have to learn the hard way.