Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Voting Day

If you don't live in Texas, you probably had no idea that our primary elections were held today.  If you do live in Texas and didn't know that, please tell me where you live so I can move there to get away from the robo-calls, wasteful postal flyers and millions (not kidding!) of campaign signs that make our roadways look like they're covered in huge pieces of confetti.

When Ryan got home from work this afternoon, we loaded the kids up in the van to go vote.  Evan was only half paying attention when I told them where we were going.  His eyes lit up and he exclaimed, "We're going to get a boat?!?"  I wish, kid, I wish.

Despite the huge "I just got off work and I am grumpy" crowd, we managed to get in the building and  the kids did a great job of sticking close to us.  The boys accompanied Ryan to his voting booth and Sydney accompanied me to mine.  She's watched me vote before and understands the importance of it (hurray for the Voting badge for Girl Scouts!), and was convinced that I was going to let her turn the dials and push the buttons on the machine.

I informed her that she couldn't push the buttons until she was old enough to vote herself.  The election clerk overheard me and turned around to smile at us.  And then it dawned on me:  at the age of nine, Sydney is halfway to voting age.  Scary!

Anyway, all three kids got "I Voted" stickers and as crowded as it was, I'm glad we took them - modeling positive behavior and all that good stuff.

I just hope they weren't listening too closely when a woman promoting a candidate that I absolutely loathe approached us to encourage us to vote for said candidate.  My response to the woman was not exactly a model behavior.  ;)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What We've Been Up To

We have been so busy the last few weeks that I literally have not had time to sit down for more than a few minutes at a time.  We hosted Sydney's party, we had a crawfish boil the next week and then we hosted Evan's party (pictures coming soon!) the day after that.  All of the parties were successes, but the amount of prep time for them took up most of my free time.

We've also been redoing our backyard.  Ryan pulled up our deck and we installed this:


Before it looked like this,  however, we had to dismantle it in someone else's backyard and haul it to ours. We laid down nearly two pallets of grass, replaced several rotten boards and then I spent countless hours cleaning the play set and re-staining it.  Considering it's almost ten years old, I'd say it looks pretty good now.  Not too bad for a free play set, either!  (The previous owners were putting in a pool and said we could have it for free - all we had to do was get it out of their backyard.)

The deck was moved closer to our back door and while I don't have any pictures of it, I can tell you that it, too, looks pretty darn good for used wood.  We re-used the boards from the old deck and I sanded, cleaned and stained them, too.  We feel like Dave Ramsey would be proud of all of our home improvements - we only bought a few things to put a whole new back yard together!

The next project is my garden. Who knows when that will get done, though.....

In addition to all of this, we said goodbye to our tenant and started a search for another one.  We received lots of calls and we found our new tenant through my old play group in The Big City.  The new tenant would like to move in June 1st, so now that all of our parties and back yard renovations are over, we are now focused on getting the rental house repaired and cleaning up the yard.  There's nothing like spending countless hours cleaning and repairing a house and yard that you don't even get to live in!

We have managed to have some fun, though, throughout all of this chaos.  Ryan took the boys camping one weekend:



And we snuck in a trip to our neighbor's bay house and took a ride on their boat:




And found some time to relax:

(This is one of my favorite pictures of them - ever.)

Hopefully, our lives will get back to normal and I can start blogging regularly again.  I kind of miss it!

Flower Pot Party....

....or as Ryan called it - a Pot Party.  (I didn't think that was an appropriate title for a nine year old's party, though.)

For Sydney's birthday party, we had my painting teacher friend come over to teach Sydney and her friends how to paint flower pots.  The girls had a blast!


Sydney's finished product:


I had fun making the cake(s), too.  Ryan said I was channeling my inner Martha Stewart:



(It's chocolate cake baked into a flower pot with chocolate icing and crushed Oreos on top - yum!)

I paid attention to what my friend taught the girls and used the leftover cake pots to create end-of-year gifts for the boys' teachers.  Instead of filling with them with cake, though, I transplanted some of the mint from our herb garden into them.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Funnies

Look!  Posts two days in a row!  What is the world coming to?

A few funnies from the past couple of weeks....

...Evan and I went to a dollar store in search of cheap pool noodles for his upcoming birthday party.  We walked in and he said, "What is that smell?  Ew."  You know, he's right.  Why do all dollar/discount stores have a certain stench odor to them?

...We were watching a dvr'd Austin City Limits one evening when the headlining group was Coldplay.  Evan was dancing in his seat and Sydney sat there completely enthralled.  When she declared that "Paradise" was her favorite Coldplay song, Ryan was so excited.  It is one of his missions as a parent to ensure that our kids are exposed to good music as opposed to most of the drivel on the radio (his words, not mine).

....Speaking of drivel on the radio...I must make the kids listen to my Adele Pandora mix way too often.  In the past week, Sydney has asked me:
    -"What is a rumor?"
    -"What does 'chasing pavements' mean?"
    -"How exactly do you set fire to the rain?"
I explained the metaphors the best that I could, to which she replied, "Well, if that's what she means, why doesn't she just say that in the first place?"  Smart girl, that one.

...We told Liam that once he's completely night potty trained (we're almost there - he's been dry every night for two weeks in a row - yay!) that he could have a friend sleep over.  He told me that the friend he wants to sleep over is his best friend at pre-school who just happens to be a girl (we'll call her A).  Um....I don't think so.

...A's mother told me that after a day of A's baby sister being clingy due to a cold, A said, "When I grow up and marry Liam and we have a baby, I'm going to hold her all day long while Liam does the cooking and laundry."  Seeing as Liam and A are zoned to the same schools and are in the same Sunday School class at church, I think we're going to have to keep an eye on those two!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What We're Up To These Days

So apparently my new blogging pattern is one post every two weeks.  How sad is that?  You'll understand when I tell you what we've been up to...

Our Easter was great.  Pictures will be posted as soon as I have a chance to get them off the camera.

We bribed the kids with lunch after church to get our annual bluebonnet pictures.  Pictures will be posted as soon as I can convince Ryan to help me coax them off the computer.

Both Sydney and Evan have their birthday parties coming up.  Poor Evan has never had a "friend" party before so I promised him that he could have one this year.  We're having five of his friends over for a play date on a Monday morning (the only morning they don't have school).  It will be Star Wars themed (of course) and thanks to the nice mothers who post pictures and ideas from their kids' Star Wars parties, I have plenty of ideas for games and activities.  Evan is most excited about turning pool noodles into light sabers.

Sydney's party will be a painting party.  We're hiring a friend to come over and show Sydney and her friends how to paint flower pots.  The part I'm most excited about?  (Besides hiring someone else to do the bulk of the entertaining.) The cake!  (Or the lack of.)  Again, thanks to nice mothers who post party ideas on their blogs, she's having flower pot cakes - chocolate cake baked into flower pots with flowers sticking out of them.

Both of these parties, in addition to the family party that falls between them, will be at our house so I am going crazy planning, getting supplies and hyperventilating.  Did I mention that all three parties will occur in an eight day period?

And, if that's not enough going on, Ryan and I are in the process of completely redoing our backyard.  The deck has been pulled up.  A new-to-us play set has been installed.  A pallet of grass has been laid down.  I still need to stain the play set and we need to take all of the wood from the deck that is currently living in our garage, cut it and place it in another spot in the backyard for a "new" deck.  All in the next three weeks.

And, our tenant is moving out so we're trying to get our rental house looking good again.

And, Ryan's dad has been very sick so we've been really worried about him.

Add the normal goings-on of homework, piano lessons, girl scouts, swim lessons and chauffeur duties (Ryan still isn't driving) and it's no wonder I'm exhausted at the end of each day!

Friday, March 30, 2012


AM over at Playing With Fire listed the things she would do if she won the giant lottery that's in the news today.  I thought it would be fun to do the same!

If we won the huge lottery, I thought it would be fun if we could.....

- hire an attorney and money manager to help us deal with the inevitable paperwork and confusion.
- pay off our houses.
- fill the kids' college funds.
- donate a bundle to the church.
- remodel our current house.  I sure would love to have a bigger/more modern kitchen, some hardwood floors and an office.
- take a huge trip to Europe and hire a personal chef to go with us to ensure that I could eat anything I want without worrying about food allergies.
- enroll the kids in any activity they'd like.
- finally get my teeth fixed once and for all.
- start a non-profit that provides high-quality subsidized daycare to low income families and single moms.  Wouldn't it be great if people could go to work and not worry about the safety and health of their children?*
- help support various medical research teams in developing therapies and cures for both asthma and epilepsy since both of those affect our family.
- let Ryan start the business he's been talking about for years - a crawfish shack like the ones we see in our hometown.  You might be able to take the boy out of the bayou, but you can't take the bayou out of the boy!

But all of this is dreaming since we don't buy lottery tickets.  It sure is fun to dream, though!

What would you do with all of that money if you won it?

* Not too long ago, the owner of a home daycare in the Big City near us locked all of the children she watched inside the house while she went to the store.  The house caught fire and all of the children died.  I can't help but wonder if the parents of those children used her daycare because it was all they could afford.  Such a sad, sad situation.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cruise Director

So, yes, our Spring Break was in fact last week, as opposed to this past week, but I am just now getting around to posting about it.  I wanted to post earlier, but once again, I cannot access any of the pictures I took.  And please don't tell me it's "user error".  It is a "stupid, old computer" error.  Ahem.  Anyway......

I don't know about you, but the week of Spring Break is when I take on a whole new role as a mom.  I call it cruise director mode.

Most of our usual activities are canceled for the week giving us five (or nine, depending how you count it) days of total boredom freedom.  While I can usually count on piano lessons or a Girl Scout meeting to help break up the week, I couldn't rely on those and had to find a way to fill all of that lovely free and unstructured time.  I know a lot of people take trips during Spring Break, but it simply wasn't in our budget this year so we had to make due.

So I put on my cruise director hat for the three "entertain me because this is soooo boring" pint-sized residents of our house.  We planted strawberry bushes.  We went to the library.  We read lots of books.  The kids spent some time with both sets of their in-town grandparents.  We played a little Wii.  We tore up our deck and filled in the back yard in preparation for a new swingset.  Sydney practiced piano.  She also finished a project for school.  We went to see "The Lorax." We went out to eat at a fondue restaurant.  Sydney had a friend sleepover.  We made cinnamon rolls for said sleepover.

And probably my favorite activity of the week: pillow sumo wrestling.  I have both pictures and a video of this, but since my computer isn't cooperating, you will just have to trust me that this was the cutest thing ever.  I had each child put one of Ryan's t-shirts on over their clothes and then I stuffed two pillows between them and the shirt (one in front and one in back).  For over an hour, they rolled around on the floor, knocked each other over, piled on top of one another and had a blast.

Ryan watched the video and commented on how creative of an idea it was.  It wasn't my idea.  I got it from this blog.  You should check it out if you're looking for fun ways to entertain your kids.  In fact if you scroll down through a couple of entries, you'll see her pictures of the pillow sumo wrestling.

Anyway, the week passed by more quickly than I thought it would, but I made the mistake of keeping them too busy because they now think they're going to get a whole summer of being entertained.  Little do they know that I  have traded in my cruise director hat for a teacher's hat; I've already started thinking about what kind of educational activities to bore them with over the summer.  Workbooks, flash cards and reading - oh my!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Funnies

* Sydney has four potential songs for her upcoming piano recital: a piece by Mozart, the Star Wars theme, the Harry Potter theme and the Beatles' "All You Need is Love."  Quite an eclectic choice, I'd say.

* Every time Sydney plays the Star Wars theme on the piano, the boys grab their light sabers (or as they call them - life savers) and begin playing "Jedi battles".

* For the past few evenings, the kids have told knock-knock jokes at the dinner table.  After about five nights of hearing, "Knock, knock," I asked them to please stop.  About thirty seconds later, Evan said, "Ding dong."  Now they tell ding-dong jokes at the dinner table.

* I had to take Liam see the ENT for a hearing test since he failed the one he had at school.  Unfortunately, the office is just a few blocks away from the zoo and due to Spring Break visitors, we were stuck in some terrible traffic.  After sitting at one particular traffic light for ten minutes (I'm not kidding!), Liam declared, "What's wrong with these people?  Did they forget how to drive?"  Yes, folks, even five year olds get road rage.

* To celebrate my birthday (a bit early), we took the kids to a fondue restaurant last night.  Evan and Sydney chowed down, but Liam wasn't as thrilled about the meal as the other two.  When we asked him why he wasn't eating the main course (mostly meat and vegetables), he said he was just saving room for his favorite part - zedert.  In excited five year old boy language, that translates to dessert.

* After burning our forearms several times while leaning over the hot fondue pots to help the boys, I asked Ryan what he thought the appropriate age should be for a first fondue restaurant visit (as ages 3 and 5 didn't work out so well for us).  He replied that the ideal age for a first visit to such a restaurant was 25.  Sounds good to me.

* Sydney attended her first birthday party sleepover this past weekend.  When we picked her up, she told us that she stayed up until 1 am.  The next day, she told her grandmother that she stayed up until 2 am.  Two days later, she told a friend that she stayed up until 4 am.  I'm guessing that this is the 3rd grade version of a fish tale.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Outside the Comfort Zone

Homebody.  Shy.  Introverted.  I'd definitely use all of these words to describe myself.  When given a day off (usually Mother's Day when Ryan takes the kids over to his mother's house for the day), I like to lounge around at home in some comfortable clothes.  I might watch a snooty British movie or read a book.  I might give myself a pedicure.  I usually take a nap.  But unlike a lot of women, I won't use my "day off" to go shopping with a girlfriend or pay someone else to paint my toenails.  I'd rather be at home, by myself, in the quiet.

So when I scheduled a painting party at our house last month, Ryan was completely shocked.  It's one thing for me to host a book club meeting since I like to read, but for me to invite a bunch of people over to paint (something I don't usually do).....well, that's just weird.

One of my book club friends teaches painting and in January, she posted pictures of painted wine glasses on her Facebook page.  They were absolutely adorable and I thought it would be nice to paint some for my mom for Mother's Day.  So I invited several people to come over to learn how to paint wineglasses.   I invited my sweet next door neighbor and members of both of my book clubs, even the woman who called Santa un-Christian.  Sometimes it's really hard to be nice to people you don't like, but I try.  I really do.

So after some yummy desserts and a couple of glasses of wine to help us relax, we got started.  Two hours later, I was left with the following:



(My favorite part - the inside of the glass)

(The stem)

They don't look as pretty as the ones my friend posted on Facebook, but I think they look pretty good.  And I don't know that I'll give them to my mom after all, just because I think I could do a better job, but I think they're pretty darn cute.

And....I stepped outside my comfort zone, which is a huge deal for me.  It was obviously a huge deal for my kids, too, because they were just as shocked as Ryan, especially Sydney.  But I think it's important for my kids to see me do things that are out of my comfort zone so that they won't be afraid to try something new and take chances.  After all, aren't most of life's regrets chances that were not taken?

Another positive to come out of all of this is that I think Sydney has decided to have a painting party of her own for her upcoming birthday party.  Of course, I don't think she'll be painting wine glasses (after all, we live in Texas, not France), but I can't wait to see what a group of giggly nine year old girls will paint.  I'll be sure to post pictures of the pint-sized painting party, too.  If I can paint something halfway cute, I know those girls can!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

For Posterity

Not too long ago, Sydney asked me what I do all day while she's in school.  I think she thinks I watch TV and eat fun foods while she's slaving away at math and reading.  She never wonders where that pile of clean clothes comes from and she doesn't seem to notice when her bathroom is cleaner in the afternoon than in the morning (which, I guess, begs the question - why do I bother cleaning the bathroom at all if no one is going to notice? - but that's a different post altogether).  So I decided that for posterity's sake, I'd write down one day's schedule.  This is mostly so that when my kids read this blog way into the future, they'll know that I did more than nag them, eat forbidden foods and let my brain rot away in front of the television.

6:15 Wake up and get dressed
6:20 Make a pot of steel cut oatmeal
6:25 Make Sydney's lunch and boys' snacks/drinks
6:30 Prep and start crock-pot dinner
6:40 Wake up kids, prod Syd to get dressed
6:45 Prepare kids' breakfasts
7:00 Help boys get dressed, brush teeth, put on shoes and jackets
7:15 Leave for 4 mile bike ride to & from Syd's school
7:50 Hop in the shower
7:55 Get dressed, fix bowl of oatmeal
8:00 Eat breakfast, apply makeup, do hair
8:15 Check e-mail, Facebook
8:25 Prep boys' swim bag, nag boys to go potty and put on shoes
8:30 Put the rest of the oatmeal in the fridge
8:35 Leave for swim lessons
9:00 Sit through Liam's swim lesson while entertaining Evan
9:30 Get Liam dressed, sit through Evan's swim lesson while entertaining Liam
10:00 Get Evan dressed, leave for birthday party (boys eat snack in car)
10:40 Attend birthday party (eat lunch while there)
1:30 Arrive home from party
1:31 Tell boys they can't play Wii
1:35 Separate laundry, start load #1
1:45 Go through party goody bags
1:50 Make Liam do his homework
1:55 Clean out dishwasher, re-load with breakfast dishes
2:00 Clean/scrub stove
2:15 Start laundry load #2
2:20 Talk to Ryan on phone to clarify earlier e-mail
2:30 Clean kitchen counters, sink, breakfast table
2:35 Tell boys they can't play Wii
2:45 Sweep kitchen floor, wipe up spots by hand (not enough time to do a full mop job)
2:55 Mix ingredients for a loaf of bread, let rise
3:00 Fold laundry load #1, start laundry load #3
3:15 Check Liam's homework
3:25 Explain game to the boys
3:30 Check e-mail, Facebook, blogs
3:45 Check regular mail, wonder if there will ever be a day we don't get a medical bill
3:50 Take some ibuprofen to ward off oncoming headache due to goody bag noisemakers
4:00 Punch down, roll out and shape bread, let rise again
4:10 Clean up bread mess
4:15 Leave to pick up Syd and friend from choir practice
4:45 Fold laundry load #2, start laundry load #4
5:00 Ask Sydney to start her homework, ask boys to clean up their homework/game mess
5:05 Tell boys they can't play Wii
5:10 Put bread in oven, go over spelling words with Syd
5:15 Type up and post notes to the Sunday School internet group
5:25 Remind Syd to practice piano
5:30 Make a pot of rice to go with crock-pot dinner
5:40 Remove bread from oven and let cool
5:45 Make a fort with furniture and blankets for the boys
5:50 Fold laundry load #3, start laundry load #5
6:00 Set table, serve and eat dinner
6:40 Clear table, store leftovers in fridge, load dishwasher, wash pots
6:50 Fold laundry load #4, start laundry load #6
7:15 Read the boys a story, put kids to bed
7:20 Watch TV with Ryan
8:00 Fold laundry load #5
9:00 Take a shower
9:30 Set dishwasher, check on kids
9:40 Brush teeth, fall into bed, leave laundry load #6 in the dryer for the morning

Minus the birthday party, this pretty much describes my everyday.  There are slight differences, of course.  Some days we have to take Sydney to piano lessons or Girl Scouts.  On a very rare occasion, I get a break from cooking dinner and we'll go out to eat.  And on the days that the boys go to pre-school, you'd think I'd have time to rest, but I usually don't.  I'm either running to the library, buying gifts for upcoming birthday parties, cleaning something that doesn't require "help" from the peanut gallery or doing one of a million things on my ever-growing "to do" list.  Today, for example, I will spend my "free" time digging up some plants that have died and replacing them with some plants that have to be moved before Ryan installs our new deck this weekend.  Fun times.

I can't imagine doing all of this and having a job outside the home.  I have no idea how women/moms these days do it all and still have time to breathe.  And as much as I'd love to get a job once Evan goes to kindergarten, after reading the above list, I honestly have no idea how I'm going to have the time to do that.  But, at least I know that I can show this to Sydney someday and she'll have some proof that staying at home isn't a vacation from work!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bribes and Such

Getting Liam to sit still long enough to work on things he should know by kindergarten (which will be this coming August!) is like getting blood out of a turnip.  For months we've been working on the basics and the boy just doesn't care.  He will sit still and listen for two to three minutes, declare, "This is SO hard!" and then stomp off.  Evan, on the other hand, absorbs everything like a sponge, so much so that when I ask them to repeat something we've been working on, Evan is more than eager to answer first.  It was when Evan told Liam, "I'm smart and you're not," that I decided that something had to be done.

So I started bribing my kid to learn.  Sigh.

I hated it when my classmates were bribed for doing their homework and for getting good grades.  I'd bring home a report card with straight A's and get, "Good job.  Keep it up."  Then there was the girl down the street who was paid $20 for each A she earned.  That was per six weeks.  With six classes, she had the potential to earn $120 every six weeks and $720 for the year.  That's a lot of money to a high school student.  Heck, that's a lot of money for an adult and I'm not ashamed to admit that I was jealous of her reward.

But, you know what?  I learned to internally motivate myself and that's what I'd planned to do with my kids.  It worked on Sydney.  It works on Evan.  But Liam?  He needs a bribe.  (If you could see me, you'd see my head hanging in shame.)

I don't bribe him with money because he's five and so far, he has no use for money.  However, he does like M&Ms and to play Wii (Lego Star Wars is the current favorite) so those are his rewards.  And you know what?  It works.

Here's what I overheard today:

Liam: We want to play Wii, Daddy.

Ryan: What are the days of the week?

Liam: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Ryan: What's our address?

Liam: #### Correct Street Name

Ryan: Who is Luke Skywalker's father?

Liam: Darth Vader.

I cracked up.  I usually don't throw in Star Wars trivia, but I'm glad to know that he remembers it.

I'm not proud that we're having to bribe him to learn these things, but absolutely nothing else has worked for this kid.  And while it's great that his current rewards are inexpensive, I am kinda worried about what the rewards will have to be when he's a teenager.  Money?  A car?  An all-expenses paid trip to meet his current hero, George Lucas?

Or maybe he'll learn to motivate himself.  One can hope, right?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Aftermath

So it's been a week since the incident.  That's what I'm calling it now.  The words seizure, wreck and accident cause the kids to get that worried look on their faces so I'm trying to be careful with the words I use.  Sydney has stopped bursting into tears whenever it's mentioned.  I still get teary-eyed, but I'm guessing that's normal.

Unfortunately, I cannot get away from it.  I'm of the "it was a terrible thing for all of us to go through, but we're trying to get on with our lives" way of thinking, but every time I turn around, someone in our neighborhood or someone at church (also the boys' school) asks me about it.  Or worse, I hear little whispers as I walk by: "Oh, she's the one whose husband had a seizure and crashed the van with the kids inside."

I don't mind answering questions and accepting the heartfelt concern that everyone has.  I really don't.  The offers of help and sweet words have meant the world to me (both in real life and in the cyber-world).  However, like in any small(ish) town, there is a fine line between concern and gossip and I am most definitely not liking the feeling of being the subject of gossip.  I try really hard to not gossip about other people (to the extent that I've distanced myself from a friend I really like and get along with because she likes to gossip when we get together) and I wish others would do the same.  We purposely didn't talk about the incident on Facebook or publicize it on our Sunday School class's Yahoo group so that we could avoid being the center of attention, but here we are, right in the center anyway.

It will all blow over and in a week or two, someone else will have some kind of crisis and become the focus of the whispers; I already feel sorry for whoever that someone is.  I guess it can't be controlled, but I sure don't have to like it.

On a lighter note, I was able to finally meet the wonderful lady who stopped to help Ryan and the kids during the incident.  It turns out that she works at our favorite grocery store and for three straight days I tried to to catch her at work to say thank you.  Despite the feeling that the people at the service desk were about to label me a stalker, we finally caught up with her on Saturday and properly thanked her for all she did.  She and I both cried and I gave her the biggest hug imaginable.  I'm fairly certain the nearby customers thought we were both nuts, but I don't care.

On an even lighter note, I've been trying to focus on the humorous situations surrounding the incident such as:

* When the paramedics opened the van door to ask if the kids were okay, Liam informed them that he needed to go potty.  Well, they asked if he was okay, didn't they?

* When they asked Sydney if Ryan was allergic to anything (as in medications), she replied, "He's allergic to cats."  I don't know if they laughed or not, but how could they not?

* When Ryan asked Sydney how I reacted when I arrived at the scene, she told him that I was so upset that all I could do was talk really, really fast.  My secret's out:  I'm a fast talker when I'm nervous.

* Every time someone mentions what happened, Evan announces, "I didn't cry at all."  He's right.  He was the only one who didn't cry.

* One of the Super Bowl commercials we watched this past weekend showed a man having what appeared to be a heart attack in his car.  Sydney declared, "Hey, that guy's having a seizure in his car, too!"

 It may seem a bit strange to focus on the funny things, but it's a whole lot better than focusing on the "what if" things.  We certainly can't change what happened, but at least we can find enough to laugh about.  After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Ultimate Nightmare

Have you ever had the kind of nightmare that causes you to wake up in a cold sweat?  Like the kind in which a stranger calls to tell you that the people you love the most have been involved in a car accident?

Well, I have.  It was called Tuesday evening.  Except I didn't wake up from it because it was real.

There I was, humming along to my Pandora mix and putting the finishing touches on all the appetizers and desserts I was preparing for my book club when a stranger called to tell me that Ryan and the kids were involved in a car accident on their way home from eating out.

It had to be the absolute worst moment of my entire thirty something years of being.

I, of course, became hysterical.  The saint on the other end of the line reassured me that the kids were scared, but fine.  Ryan, however, was a different story.

He had a seizure while driving the kids home from the restaurant.  According to Sydney, his head flopped to the side, he began shaking as the van veered across three (usually congested, but at that exact moment, thankfully open) lanes of traffic.  They went up and over a median and then halfway up the concrete embankment of an underpass's turn-around-lane wall.  At that very moment, a car came through the turn-around lane and was able to stop before hitting the door right next to Evan.

This driver of that car turned out to be an angel sent from God.  She got Sydney to unbuckle her booster and then unlock the van.  She then managed to lean across the still seizing Ryan, put the van in park and turn it off.  She called 911 and helped him through his seizure (no easy feat - I know from experience).  Because they couldn't find his cell phone, she convinced Sydney to tell her our home number and called me.

I did an absolutely horrid of job of trying to calm Sydney down over the phone (being completely hysterical myself) and hurriedly called my parents to ask them to go sit with the kids while I made my way there.  Fortunately, they live just a few minutes from where the crash site.

My poor neighbors.  Who knows what they were thinking when I ran over to their house and pounded on their door until they answered.  Sweet people that they are, one offered to drive me to the scene because heaven knows I was in absolutely no condition to drive at that point.  I  could barely breathe; driving was out of the question.  Her husband offered to tell all of my book club friends that the evening's meeting was canceled.

That was the longest drive of my life.  I have never prayed so hard.  My neighbor dropped me off at the scene, but traffic was too bad for her to be able to stop.  I ran as fast as my short, stubby legs would let me and fell into my mother's arms.  Not my finest moment.

I checked on the kids first and they were fine.  Evan looked like he had no idea what was going on.  Liam's eyes were red, like he'd been crying and Sydney was just as, if not more, hysterical than myself.  I reassured them that everything would be OK and just I was turning around to run to the ambulance, it pulled away.  My mother reassured me that Ryan was fine, considering what had just occurred; he'd been lucid enough to talk to her right before I got there.

I drove the van home after the police officers asked me a few questions and my mom bathed the kids and put them to bed while my dad and I made the now all too familiar trek to the emergency room.

Ryan was fine.  He didn't hit his head when the van finally came to a halting stop and the airbag didn't deploy so we're guessing that he wasn't going all that fast.  His neurologist has told him to double up on his anti-seizure medication and make a follow-up appointment.

In the meantime, he is not allowed to drive.  His driver's license hasn't officially been suspended yet, but it's just a matter of time since the police had to file a report.  And even if they don't take away his license, I'm not going to let him drive for a very, very long time.

I've talked about angels before and I am convinced that angels were everywhere during this whole thing.  The lanes of traffic that they crossed are almost always congested with cars (as in several thousand cars pass through that intersection during the evening rush hour), but at that exact moment, there were none.  The van also missed the six gigantic cement pillars that hold up the freeway overpass.  The woman who stopped to help them and call me was definitely an angel here on earth.  I found out where she works and I'm going to try to locate her and give her the biggest hug imaginable.  My parents are angels for taking control of the situation and looking after the kids while I made my way there.  My neighbor, who said she completely lost it after I got out of her car and she saw exactly where our van ended up, is an angel for getting me there safely and attempting to calm me down on the way.

What did I learn from this?  For one, count your blessings.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Your life and the lives of those you love can change in an instant.  Second, there are genuinely good people left in the world.  The evening news may make you doubt that, but in a crisis, people, even complete strangers, can and will do the right thing.  And third, I learned just how much I love my family.  I mean, I knew I loved them.  Of course I love them; they are my family.  But in that split second when I thought I'd lost them all, I found out just how desperately I love each and every single one of them.

It's been a couple of days now and I've finally calmed down and the adrenaline has finally left my system.  At some point, we're going to have to tell those around us, not just our family and closest friends, what went on.  People are going to start to wonder why Ryan never drives anywhere or why he's working from home.  I'm sure it will be awkward, but it is what it is.

I'm just happy to have everyone home safe and sound.  The rest doesn't really matter.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm Such a History Geek

Over the weekend, my mom let my niece go through several boxes of old family items for a project on WWII.  At the bottom of one box, she (my niece) found a really old leather wallet (as in hand-stitched) with the following note inside:

"This was hand-made by my grandfather, a Methodist circuit rider."

My mother recognized the handwriting as her grandmother's.

Sure enough, someone had written the name of my great-great-great-grandfather and the date April 1830 in some kind of super ink (to have lasted this long) on the inside of the wallet.

The wallet is almost 200 years old!  How cool is that?!?

This ancestor went on to have several children, one of whom moved to California during the gold rush and another that claimed land in Oklahoma during the Land Rush.  The former was unsuccessful in his attempts to become rich, but the latter was my great-great grandfather and our family still owned some of the original land rush land up until a few years ago.

Talk about having some true American history in your family!

I feel like I could compete with some of the celebrities on that show Who Do You Think You Are? for who has the coolest family history, especially since this is the same branch of the family that can trace its roots back to the American Revolution and to a specific county in Ireland before that.

Someday when I have time (so around 2030 when Evan's out of college?  :)  ), I'd like to do more family research, maybe even travel to Ireland and search their local records.  But for now, I'll have to be satisfied with the awesome work my mom has done and bask in my historical geekiness.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Harry Potter Drinking Game

One of the things I promised Sydney before her tonsillectomy was that we'd have a Harry Potter movie marathon.  She didn't forget about that promise, either.  We watched all eight movies over a one week period and while she was in heaven, the rest of us went a bit batty.

I got to thinking about a way to make such a marathon a bit more bearable for adults (not that we'll ever do it again).  I guess kids could play it, too, but with a soda.

So, here goes.

Take a drink every time:

1. Harry Potter's lightning bolt scar hurts him.
2. Hermione Granger answers a question or solves a problem that no one else can.
3. Ron Weasley says, "Bloody hell."
4. Draco Malfoy sneers at somebody.
5. Professor Snape says, "Potter."
6. Professor Dumbledore introduces a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.
7. Lucius Malfoy complains about something.
8. Argus Filch tattles on a student.
9. Bellatrix Lestrange laughs maniacally.
10. Someone says the phrase "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
11. Someone says the word "horcrux."

There.  By the end of any (or all) of the movies, you should be completely sauced.  Or, in my case, asleep.  Either way, it will make the marathon more bearable.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vegas, Baby!

Since we didn't do anything big for our 10th anniversary last year, Ryan and I decided to go on a quick trip to celebrate our 11th anniversary.  What better place to have some childless fun than Vegas?

It's too bad our anniversary falls in December because the pools outside our hotel room looked quite inviting:


We had lots of fun just sight-seeing.  We walked through most of the major hotels and watched the Bellagio fountain shows (during the day and at night) and the Mirage's volcano show.  We marveled at how big everything is, too.  After all, who needs to go to Paris when you can see the Eiffel Tower in Nevada?


And forget the real Venice when you can see the gondolas at the Venetian:



The Christmas decorations were phenomenal, too.  This polar bear at the Bellagio is made entirely of flowers (you can see the worker repairing his paw):


I even got Ryan to pose in front of these super cute penguins:


We took a half day trip to the Hoover Dam.  And, yes, since our dam tour guide encouraged us to take "all the dam pictures you want to", we did:


(The only picture we have of the two of us together!)

The highlight of our trip was the Beatle's LOVE show at the Mirage:


(The entry way to the show)

(I thought the cocktail list was cute.)

Ryan is a huge Beatles fan and I'd always wanted to see a Cirque de Soleil show so this was a perfect fit for us.  He really enjoyed the music and the symbolism involved in the show (which I totally didn't get because I don't know their music as well) while I was just awed by the whole thing in general.  Wow.

As for gambling.....well, we're not big gamblers.  Ryan broke even on the craps game he played and I lost one dollar in a slot machine just to say I gambled while there.  Other than that, we didn't even glance at the tables and slots.  The city of Las Vegas didn't get a whole lot of money out of us.

As always, we learned some lessons while there:
1. Keep your hands in your pockets so no one can hand you fliers while you're walking around.
2. Don't even make eye contact with the guys trying to sell you a time share.  Definitely don't talk to them; otherwise, they'll follow you and won't leave you alone.
3. Once you've walked through all the hotels you care about seeing, use the monorail or bus system to get around.  Save your feet.
4. Despite what the ads may say, don't take your kids to Vegas.  It is NOT a family oriented place.
5. If you do take your kids, don't let them take pictures with the people dressed up like Elmo, Hello Kitty, Disney characters, etc. that stand on the street corners.  We saw a few of them take their costume heads off and well, let's just say they're not the classiest people.
6. Vegas isn't just a tourist destination for Americans.  Don't be surprised if you start to think that there must be no one left in Japan when you're visiting.
7. There's no such thing as a cheap buffet in Vegas anymore.  That is most definitely a thing of the past.
8. Get your inevitable embarrassing moment out of the way as soon as you arrive.  If possible, get the same cab driver we did; he dropped us off at the wrong hotel and since we'd never been before and didn't know where we were, we looked really stupid trying to check into the wrong hotel.

Overall, it was a fun trip.  I don't know that I want to go back any time soon, but it was definitely memorable.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bye Bye Tonsils

Thanks to her already enlarged tonsils and several bouts of strep over the past year, Sydney was the lucky recipient of a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy a few days ago.

She and I went shopping for every conceivable soft food product a few days beforehand.  None of them were healthy.  She got to have pizza for her "last meal."  And she had the undivided attention from both me and Ryan since the boys were shipped off to their grandparents' for a good 24 hours.   Now that was a rarity.

She was feeling fairly confident going in:


And she looked really pitiful in recovery:


Both the wheelchair ride and the valeted van were new experiences for her, too.  Is it sad that she had to ask what "valet" meant or does that mean that we're doing a good job of not spoiling her?


Overall, her recovery is going well.  She's still not eating much and we have to force her to drink a lot of liquids.  Luckily, all she really wants to drink is water.  And Ryan saved the day by buying a bag of Sonic ice for her to munch on.  She hasn't been turning down ice cream, either, and seeing as how that's the only source of calories that she can tolerate, I guess I don't mind that she's eating it three times a day.

Hopefully, she'll be ready to go back to school on Thursday.  The boys, especially, are getting a bit stir crazy and they're not particularly happy that she's pretty much had the TV to herself for the past few days, either.  I'm getting a little tired of Harry Potter movies myself.

But, if this works and she doesn't have to fight strep anymore and sleeps a little better without all the tonsil related snoring, then it will be worth it.