Monday, December 31, 2007

Ringin' it in...with hope

I'm amazed at the amount of hope I have for this coming year. I've never been big on New Year's celebrations or resolutions. Really, it's just another day to me. But something, something, is different about today. And tomorrow. And the next year. I can't put my finger on it, but I'm filled with so much hope about what this next year will bring that it almosts brings me to tears. I'm so hopeful that I can't even think about the past year, whatever disappointments I had or goals I didn't meet. I don't want to think about them. They don't matter now. I honestly feel like I have this fresh, clean new slate waiting for me when I wake up tomorrow morning. And I hope that when I read this post at this point next year that I'll be able to look back and think, "Wow, I really felt it coming".



Among the obvious things (being a better wife, mom, homemaker, etc) I have ideas in my head of how I want to live this next year that are too personal for me to post here. And I'm not even sure I could put it all here if I wanted to. I'm not sure I could make my "goals" coherent. But they're there. And this year, at this point in my life, I'm more than ready to make things happen.

*As I finished that last paragraph, Sweet Hubby called to tell me that he just had a wreck. He's fine, but he hit and injured a calf and there's quite a bit of damage to his car. See this post to remember how we started 2007. And now I guess we're going to end it the same way. We'll be starting 2008 with the same burden as we started 2007. But I'm not going to let that get me down. I'm still hopeful and I'm reminded even more of how I want to make life better for myself and my wonderful children and my sweet, sweet husband who is safe and sound.

Happy New Year to you and yours. May 2008 be a year that brings us all countless blessings. God bless you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

From our home to yours....

I want to use this, my 200th post, to wish all of my readers (all 3 of you) a very merry Christmas. I pray Christmas finds you warm, fulfilled, and surrounded by those you love and who love you. I hope your Christmas brings you love, laughter and memories. And most of all, I wish you a lifetime, not just a day, of peace and joy.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Just a little perspective

It's been over a week since I've blogged. How can that be? So much has been happening and life's been so busy. I have so many blog topics running rampant in my head, I don't know if I'll ever be able to put it all here.

The main thing that's been going on this last week has been family related. Sweet Hubby's 80 year old grandmother had been very sick. He went to be with her earlier this week. She passed away Thursday morning with most of her family by her side. From what he says, it was truly an amazing experience to be with her in that time. Just a few hours before she passed away, she started saying things like, "Do you hear the bells?" and commenting about the color of the clouds and about the people that were "there" waiting for her and cheering her on. It really helped put this season into perspective....while most people were out stressing about gifts or travel or food, Sweet Hubby and I were able to celebrate a woman who led a good and long life. We've been able to really celebrate Christmas, knowing what we have to look forward to, thanks to that Baby in the hay. I'm not exactly sure what I believe about the afterlife, but it's a glorious thought to think about his grandmother meeting her Creator and Savior. I had a terrible time actually being sad about it all. I had a hard time not smiling because I was so happy for her (which made me feel a bit like a freak, but that's a whole 'nother blog post).

On to other matters not nearly as deep or spiritual....I have to say I'm a little bitter. And I KNOW that's not how I should be feeling. And maybe I shouldn't even be blogging this because I'm not sure who all reads this, but here goes....I made the gifts for Sweet Hubby's side of the family Christmas (not the same side who just lost their mother/grandmother). I put my heart and soul (not to mention time and effort) in to their gifts. They thanked me for them, and maybe I'm not being fair because they don't know how much I poured myself in to their gifts, but they didn't seem very excited or that they liked their gifts very much. Perhaps that's just the way they are, and I don't know what I expected their reactions to be, but it seems they could have acted like they cared a little more. I was really excited about their gifts, I wish they were, too. Now I'm wondering if I could have done something else that they would have liked better.....

And now I'm tired and off to bed. Christmas Eve will be a busy day for us, although Sweet Hubby will have to work most of it. I may never get used to him working so much over the holidays.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm tired, I'm bored and I 've got kinks in my leg!

*Updated at the bottom of this post*

(Ten totally useless points to whoever can name which classic story that title line is from....)

(something about that first sentence just sounds completely grammatically incorrect...but it stays)


I feel like a whine. And I will take one because it's my blog and I can whine if I want to.

Okay, so I'm not really bored and there aren't kinks in my leg, yet, but when I read that story to the kids, I say that line in a really whiny little voice that seemed to fit my mood for the last few days.

I love Christmas time and I've actually really been enjoying it with the kids, but I've just been so tired and cranky lately. I know what my problem is. I've been busy trying to get Christmas stuff done so my house is a mess, we haven't done school in two weeks (I think we needed a little break) and I feel completely unproductive because I spend most of my day putting out fires (aka: referee-ing fights, cleaning up spilled milk, changing the channel, plugging in a movie, getting snacks, putting shoes on tiny people so they can play outside....the list goes on). If I feel like things are piling up on me, I shut down, stare at the mess and whine about it.

I'm working on apron for a Christmas gift. And I'm mad at it. I've had to take the thing apart and redo it three times already. And now I've got the whole thing assembled minus the pockets (and, oh, if I can get the pockets on right it will just be so stinkin' cute that it's a good thing the fabric's not my style because I might keep it and have to go buy a gift for the person I'm making it for) and I'm wondering how in the world I'm going to get the pockets on. You see, I had to gather the apron at the waistband (that was my first time gathering in a sewing project, I've tried to avoid it) and now I don't know how to get the apron part flat enough to get the pockets on. And if I did get it flat enough, I don't know how they would look once I got them on. And this is a dilemma for which I need my entire brain and with kids fighting, asking me questions or trying to pants me by using my jammie pants to stand up, I just can't put my whole brain in to it. I tried last night, but the apron and I had been with each other all day long and we were starting to give each other dirty looks so it was time that we spent some time apart. But if I can get it done to my liking, I'm just going to be so excited.

Which brings me to my next point. I love sewing. I don't think I knew how much I loved to sew until I pulled out my machine and fabric a couple weeks ago when I started thinking about making some Christmas gifts. I haven't sewed since Marc-Adam was born. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day/money in the budget for me to be able to do it as often as I like. I'm hoping I can whip up a few things to sell so that I can go buy more fabric and patterns and that maybe, maybe, I can start selling stuff I make so that I can keep doing it.

And for my next whine, I'd like to present my children. Whom I love dearly. But I want to hide from them. If I hear "Yeah, but...." one more time as response to something I've told them, they might be wanting to hide from me. I know that there's a possibility that our parenting might have gotten us to this point, but I've never let their arguing get them what they want. And ever since this backtalk/"Yeah but"/arguing phase began a few weeks ago, I've made darn sure that they don't get anywhere with it. I don't know what else to do....but the whining and arguing must stop before I collapse into a little heap on the floor. And surrender.

Lately, no matter how much sleep I get, I feel this uncontrollable urge to lay down and take a nap about 3:30. And yesterday, I sat on the couch to watch the Grinch with the kids, and fell asleep sitting up. When I woke up, Marc-Adam was in a completely different room from when I fell asleep and neither of the kids were sitting next to me like they were when I was awake. Zachary came running up to me saying, "YOU'RE AWAKE!!" I missed most of the Grinch!! Which means I had to have been asleep for about 20 minutes! While I was supposed to be taking care of my children!!

And then yesterday evening, we were driving to meet my in-laws, and Stephen wanted to take a little detour to look at this one house with a bunch of lights. I know I didn't fall asleep because, oh my word, how scary is that, and obviously we were safe, but I zoned out or something because all of the sudden I came back to earth and realized and I had no idea where we were. Thankfully, it's a small town, so I was able to drive a little further toward something familiar, but not after zoning out a couple more times and taking turns I didn't intend to take. It was so weird and scary.

But I have a great weekend to look forward to. I'm leaving for a few days to stay with my folks because I've got rehearals tonight and tomorrow night and the concert on Friday night for our church's Christmas musical-thingy. Even though it's only 25 minutes away, my parents live much closer to our church than we do and we don't want to have to spend that much gas making that trip 4 times in 5 days so we're spending a long weekend with them (which is really my cover for not wanting to look at or deal with my messy house for a few days). So I have the concert Friday night in which I'm singing a duet of "In the Bleak Midwinter". I love that song and it should be pretty. But, last I heard, the guy I'm supposed to be singing it with had a bad upper respiratory infection....so our plans might change a bit. Stephen's also singing with the children's choir in that concert and he's just so cute standing up there with all the other kids. I can't wait to see how he does at the actual concert. We will definitely have the camera going just in case he does something to win us $10,000. Saturday, my mom and I are taking a girls' day and going to finish up the rest of our Christmas shopping. We haven't done that in what seems like forever, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Monday, I think I might join in on BooMama's tour of homes. I was going to post pictures of our Christmas stuff just for fun earlier this week, until I saw what she was doing with the tour of homes. So I think I'll do that instead of doing it all on my own.

So there's lots to look forward to. Let's hope it can jolt me out of my doldrums.

Love all around.

*Update: I had to start fresh with the apron. I think I worked on it too long yesterday, because when I started working on it this morning, I realized I had done most of it all wrong. It was partly my fault and partly because the pattern instructions were so wacky (it's a new pattern I've never used before). I'm able to keep the pockets I had before--as far as I know those are right--but everything else needs to be re-done. And since I had to take the other pieces apart so much yesterday, I figure I'm better off just starting fresh with new pieces. I'll post a pic when it's done.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

And God bless his sweet little heart.

This evening, the kids and I were saying our prayers before bed. When it was my turn, I said something about 'Thank you for Pastor Bill and all our Sunday School teachers. And be with the people who don't have homes or families this season....."

After all the prayers were said and we said our final amen, Stephen looked up at me with his big dark eyes and said very sadly and quietly, "Mommy? Pastor Bill doesn't have a home?"

I think he would have seriously asked Pastor Bill to come live with us.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper and a bow(if it's being shipped, no bow)....unless I have a gift that just can't be wrapped.

2. Real tree or Artificial? artificial...I'd love to do real, but it's just easier to have a fake one.

3. When do you put up the tree? Generally the weekend after Thanksgiving....but with Sweet Hubby's new job, that was out of the question, so this year we did it the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? Usually between Dec. 26 and Dec. 31. I can't stand to look at it after Christmas, so I take it down as soon as I get a chance.

5. Do you like eggnog? I don't know....

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Um....I can recall a few....but I don't know which would be my favorite.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. A cheapy $10 one from Wally World...It's an all one piece kind of thing where the pieces are glued down to the bottom. But Joseph came loose a couple years ago and Mary came loose this year, so they travel now. I'm surprised something hasn't gotten broken yet....but my feelings won't be hurt if it does.

8. Hardest person to buy for? Hmmm...my father-in-law? I usually can find something for everyone.

9. Easiest person to buy for? Sweet Hubby. He has an ongoing wish list all year round!

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received? I can't think of anything really bad...

11. Mail or email Christmas card? Sadly, neither. I always have good intentions to send out a card, but for some reason, it never happens.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Oh, there are just too many. A Christmas Story, It's a Wonderful Life, the original Miracle on 34th Street....the list goes on and on.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? After Thanksgiving.

14. Have you ever recycled/re gifted a Christmas present? I don't think so....

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My grandma's fiesta crescents, pecan pie, homemade cookies.

16. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night, and in a very close second, O Come Emmanuel

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel, I guess. On Christmas Day we go to my grandma's house, but she only lives an hour away.

18. Can you name Santa's reindeer? Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy.....oh, wait....

19. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? One Christmas eve and all the rest on Christmas morning.

20. Most annoying thing about this time of year? White Elephant Christmas exchanges.

21. Best thing about Christmas? Christmas Eve. Drinking hot chocolate, eating warm from the oven cookies, reading the Nativity Story from the bible and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with the kids.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rambling all the way to nowhere....

I know. That title's been used by other people. But there's just no other title that would fit as well as that one.

There must be something I'm missing about crock pots. People sing their praises and talk about how wonderful they are and how easy they are and all kinds of inspiring talk to make me pull mine out a couple times a year. But in all honesty, I don't like crock pots....and while pulling mine out yesterday, I realized that for some strange reason I have 3. Three crock pots. I have no idea how that happened and cannot think of even one situation that I might need even 2 crock pots.

And the recipes...they all taste the same to me. The chicken, the beef, the vegetables...all the same. And I don't really like it. We walked in the house yesterday evening after the crock pot had been working on dinner most of the afternoon, and the kids immediately scrunched up their noses and asked what the smell was. I hated to tell them it was dinner. Thankfully they had already been filled up full of Cocoa Pebbles at my parents house, so they weren't terribly interested in white chili. Actually, it was one of the better recipes I've ever used. But it doesn't matter how good the recipe is, the crock pot is also a pain in the neck to clean which takes away any "Oh, it's so easy" feelings from me.

On to other news, we ordered some stockings the day after Thanksgiving. I've been wanting to buy them for years, but this was the first year that we actually had the money in the budget to do it. While we were ordering, we explained that Marc-Adam's name was spelled M-A-R-C "HYPHEN" A-D-A-M. When we got the stocking, it was Marc'adam. Apostrophe. So we called back and to tell them it was wrong and to see what they would do about it. The lady said, "Well, ma'am, this is hyphen." No. It's an apostrophe. As in "can't" and "it's" and "Alli's". She said, "OH, you're right! I'm looking right at it! It's been years since I've heard someone use the word 'hyphen'". Wha....? Whatever. Can we have a new one? So, they're sending us a corrected one free of charge. Which is why, among other reasons, we love JCPenney's.

One more thing in this post o' random....I know some people think it's entirely too early, and some people are already sick and tired of hearing about it, but I want to encourage you to start looking into a presidential candidate you can get behind. I'd love to tell you to get behind the guy (and yes, it's a guy) I'm behind, but I won't. Yet. I just want to encourage you to at least start listening and researching. It's more important than ever to know what these people are saying, doing and planning. And even though it's a little less than a year away, please plan on voting. I'm afraid that the votes will be too close for people to have the luxury to say that their one vote won't matter.

And now I'm off the soapbox....but as November '08 draws nearer, I'll be talking more about this.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Plan, it has backfired

Earlier today, Stephen overheard me joking with my mom about something being "made in China". At dinner, he reminded me that not every toy was made in China (even thought that's not really what I had been discussing with my mom), and I told him that most toys were and I could prove it. We just so happened to have a Veggie Tales pirate ship on our table during dinner (yes, we have interesting centerpieces), so I turned it over and showed him where it said "Made in China". He paused for a second, in deep thought, and said, "Ohhhh, that's right. Santa died and now the people in China have to make our toys."


Oh dear.

Friday, November 30, 2007

An indication of my cooking...and why no one eats it.

While I was making lunch the other day, Stephen walked in, took a look around, glanced at the stove where lunch was cooking, walked out and said to himself:


"Hope it doesn't catch on fire again."



Gee. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Well, I did it.

We had "the talk" with Stephen (and Zachary, but I don't think Zachary even paid attention to the fact that we were in the same room). You know, the talk about Santa Claus. We've "done Santa" from the beginning and I've hated it. It took a lot of courage dug up from my mommy instinct, but Sweet Hubbby and I finally agreed to 'fess up and tell the truth. Actually Sweet Hubby did most of the talking (and did a great job) and we told him that St. Nicholas was a real man who loved God so much that he did exactly what Jesus told us to do and he loved everyone, and he showed that love by giving food and gifts in secret to people who were very poor and had nothing. And then when St. Nicholas died, people admired him so much that they started to pretend to be him and they started giving gifts in secret (and also started calling him Santa) and telling stories about him. We told him that LOTS of people pretend to be Santa...even Daddy. At that point, it seemed to click for him. He said, "And Papa and Poppy?" We agreed and told him that we could still pretend and have fun doing all the stuff we did last year (baking cookies and leaving them for Santa and getting up together to see what Santa brought). We asked him if he had any questions and he said, "What about Mrs. Clause?" Lol.

So I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. We went to Wal*Mart the other day and they had a "Santa". Stephen was excited (this was before the talk) and went to take a picture with him. He carried the picture through the store and then a little while later said, very thoughtfully, "Mama, I don't think that man was really Santa Clause." We had a nice little discussion about most of the mall/store Santas not being Santa Clause. I think it was a good segue in to the talk we had the next day.

In protection of other children, we told them that this was a huge secret that only really big kids know, so they couldn't say a word to other kids about it. Stephen's surprisingly good at keeping secrets (he never even lets on that he knows a secret), so I'm not too worried. But there is a little nagging feeling that my kid will be the one to ruin it for someone else's kids.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yeah

Ah, recovery. Almost. We still have one more family get together for Thanksgiving tomorrow, but for the most part, we've winded down our Thanksgiving festivities and are firmly in the Christmas mode. We got our tree up on Tuesday because Sweet Hubby was off and we weren't sure when we'd have another chance to do it anytime soon. All of this year's ornaments are bought and the Christmas movie watching has commenced.

I went shopping with my mom and cousin yesterday. We were out of the house at 7:30. I want to be one of those that are in the Wal*Mart with list and ad in hand at 5:00am, I really do. The chaos is fun and the crowds don't bother me, but at this point in my life, it's just not an option. Maybe next year when I'm not nursing anymore. Of course, Wally World and others are going to have to come up with some better Black Friday deals to make it worth my while. The "deals" this year were a little underwhelming. But I did get some deals...I did not walk away empty handed. I only bought a few things and walked away $100 under budget. Yay! Which allowed to me to work more things into the budget that we otherwise wouldn't have been able to do.

I'm almost done with Sweet Hubby's gifts for Christmas. Just one more thing and I'm done. The kids will be easy this year. Bunk beds, a bike, an easel and a couple of small toys and CDs. I've covered a few other people on our list, but I still have more than half of my list to finish.

I'm usually not at all choosy about what I want for Christmas. Every few years, I set my heart on a pricier item, but for the most part, I don't know what to ask for and it's not really important to me to get anything. But. This year, I have a my eye on a few big ticket items. And I *think* I might actually get them. I'm pretty sure I'm getting this (right, Mom?? *grin*). Which makes me happier than I can say. I've been hinting at Sweet Hubby for a while that I'd really like an MP3 player and the hints have been getting more and more obvious with the last hint being, "I want an MP3 player for Christmas." I think he was perceptive enough to pick up on that subtle statement. I hope. And at first I thought I was going to be a snob about it and insist on an iPod, but after doing a little research, I don't think it's going to matter to me at all. He's been acting like he's got it covered and that's what I'm getting, but I don't know how since it's not in the budget. I can't wait to spend an afternoon finding and downloading all the perfect songs. I've even promised Stephen that he can have a few songs on it so he can borrow it. He's been begging for an iPod (LOL), but that's just so not gonna happen. But maybe I'll think about a cheapy off brand for his birthday. The one thing that's probably going to have to wait till next year is a Kitchenaid mixer (pink...or maybe red). I've wanted one for a few years, but they're so expensive, I won't buy one for myself and they're too much to ask for as a gift. But I might start saving up in January for next year's Christmas so maybe we can work it in to the budget. I can't think of what I would actually use it for, but I think I'd find something to whip up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Happy Visit

Stephen had his very first dentist appointment today. He was very excited and it went very well. No cavities! He looked so grown up and gave the ladies no problem. He thought he was the coolest kid ever (he didn't get much disagreement from me, either). My camera almost died but I was able to squeeze a little more life out of it by talking real sweetly to it, so I got some cute pictures.

Climbing up in the chair



Flipping through a magazine while being patient



You see how he's got his hands/arms?? They're propped behind his head! Have you ever been so comfy in the dentist's chair?



Getting his teeth "counted"

Quarantine

It's been an interesting few days around here. Every single person in my house came down with that stomach virus I mentioned. If you've been anywhere near my house in the last week or so, I pray for your health. If you've been near my house and have recently been reacquainted with your toilet, that would probably be courtesy of my sweet family. My sincerest apologies. Count yourself blessed if you haven't.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Three

Yesterday was Zachary's birthday and I intended to post this then. But the computer was acting up last night and the last few days I've been entirely too busy losing a few pounds thanks to the stomach virus I caught from the kids. So it's a day late.

To my sweet sweet Zachary,

You are three years old today. Which is kind of weird to me because it seems like you've been around all my life. It's so hard to imagine my life without your sweet little spirit in it. Your spirit fills a room where ever you go and it's weird to me that not too long ago, you weren't even here.



This has been a fun year with you. You learned a lot and you make it clear that you are learning more and more every day. Your newest accomplishment that you like to show off is jumping up and down. You'll be in the middle of intense playing and you'll stop what you are doing to say, "Hey, Mama, watch this!" And you'll start jumping until you nearly fall over. As of right now, you can count to 13 without skipping numbers. After that, you miss a few before you get to 20. You know about 20 (give or take a few) of your letters and you're actually better at identifying the sound a letter makes than you are at giving the name of the letter. One of your favorite things is curling up with me to read, especially your SpiderMan or VeggieTales books. Larry Boy is a favorite as well and when ever it's your turn to pick a CD to listen to, you always choose Larry Boy. I think I know every word to every Larry Boy song ever made.

I love how you get stuck on things...For a while, you had to wear your Superman cape 24/7, until your Grammy couldn't stand it anymore and peeled it off of you to wash it. And then for a little while you had to wear nothing but "stripey" shirts. To this day, the sight of a "stripey" shirt still makes you happy. And that's just so funny to me.

You found your first crush this year. You are in love with the 11 year old neighbor girl. You hug her and kiss her and tell her you love her all the time. You also freak her out by doing weird things like smelling her.

Your personality is really starting to shine. You have this interesting combination of being laid back and kinda uptight at the same time. You're really laid back in your relationships. Most of the time, you let Stephen (and sometimes Marc-Adam) treat you any ol' way. You let him call the shots and you happily follow. But at the same time, when you're tired of something he's doing, you have no problem letting him know. But you are a little fussy about other things. Your clothes can't have the slightest drop of wet on them, or you need an entire change of clothes. And you can't be convinced that your clothes aren't wet or that they'll dry very soon because it's only a drop of water. In fact, once you've set your mind on something, anything, it's very hard (sometimes impossible) to convince you of anything else.


If I had one thing to remember about your third year, it would be the development of your sense of humor. You are so stinkin' funny. We call you "The Comedian". You love to make us laugh....all the time. Even when it's not appropriate. Your daddy and I will be disciplining you for something and you'll make a funny face or start talking in a funny voice to make us laugh. It seems like you have an inate sense of "comedic timing". You learned the value of a good joke and you know exactly how to deliver. You also learned to tease which helps you fit perfectly in to this family. You especially like to tease Daddy when he gets hurt while y'all are playing....you say in a funny little voice, "Aw, you need a band-aid?" And you aren't being sympathetic. It's clear that you are poking a little fun at him. You are my social baby. You are shy at first with people you don't know, but it's obvious you love being around other people because you can't stand to be by yourself. You crave personal time and physical touch. You love curling up at my side (or with your Daddy or Grammy or anyone that you know loves you) and just being with us. Then you'll look over at me and give me a kiss for no reason. Then you'll start to stroke my hand. All day long, you are free with hugs and kisses. You love to play in my hair and face. It seems like if you are within arms reach of me, you must be touching me.

I absolutely love watching your personality blossom. It's hard not to smile after every conversation with you. Sometimes it seems that your personality is too big for that tiny little body of yours. I can't wait to see what you're like when you grow in to it.

I love you, my dear. Thank you for the smiles and the laughter and the kisses. Here's to many many more.

Love,
Your mama

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday-Backwards Edition

Today is WFMW-Backwards Edition which means we get to ask questions and hopefully they get answered by the wonderful people who follow RIMD.

My predicament--My oldest son will be 5 in January. We're currently homeschooling him and he's smart as he can be. We've had no issues....he's reading and doing simple math. Except that his writing is atrocious. I can't figure out how to teach him to correctly hold a pencil since I've never done it correctly myself. Getting him to write is a sure and quick way for us both to dissolve to tears.

So here's my question: Is he too young? Is this something I should hold off on for a while? I would normally do that in any normal situation, but because he's a little bit further ahead in other ways, it's getting a little difficult to get very far in our math/reading curriculum without him being able to write. Should I keep trying to get him to do it right? Are there any techniques I could use (besides the tissue holding one...he LOATHES that)? What about a good, affordable handwriting curriculum for very young children....anyone have any recommendations for that?

I know there are scores of people way smarter than me on this subject...please answer with anything you've got!:)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Birthday pictures part deux

More pictures...scroll down to the previous post for the first set.

Me and Marc-Adam (showing off my newest haircut for those who haven't seen it):

Marc-Adam opening presents (with a lot of help):


Z opening presents (with just a little help):


Z modeling one of his gifts:

Fun was had by all!

Birthday pictures

Some fun pics of this weekend's festivities (and for the record, I had my house back in normal working order by this morning!):

The best I could get of all three of my boys:


It was really good cake...and Zachary could prove it:


Stephen and Bubby:


Marc-Adam's cake, courtesy of my Mama:


Zachary's "Super Z" cake, also courtesy of my Mama

Monday, November 05, 2007

Recovery

Well, we had the big party this weekend. May I just say that as much fun as we had and as much as I love my boys and the rest of our extended family, I'm so glad it's over. Throwing a big party of nearly 40 people (15 or more of them kids age 6 and under) in my home is way more out of my comfort zone than I'm willing to go ever again. Well, at least until the next party. In January.

I've got lots of great pictures. My mom made some fantastic cakes and then everyone walked around with blue lips after eating it. Someone gave Marc-Adam some of the blue icing while I wasn't looking and when I saw him a few minutes later, my heart sunk for just a second because I thought something was terribly wrong with him because it was obvious by the blue lips that he was having trouble breathing. Not a nice thing to do to a mama's heart.

It was nice having all the family gathered to celebrate my two littlest boys. And it's obvious that they are loved. Not only by the fact that so many people were there, but it was also obvious they are loved by the AWESOME gifts they received. Seriously, they got some of the coolest gifts this year.

The highlight of the weekend for me was my sweet cousin and her children and my aunt coming to visit and staying overnight. We talked till the wee hours of the morning and visited in a way that I don't think we've ever done. And I'm so glad we did. Katie, Auntie K, it was wonderful to have you and your visit was such a blessing. More than you know, I think.

As soon as I can find my camera in the party aftermath, I'll post pictures.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

According to the boys

Some things my boys have said recently.



Zachary to me while I was making his lunch: Mama, you're my best girl.

And then I mopped myself off the floor to serve lunch.

**************

Stephen and I were having a discussion about Spanish. I asked him (just to see what he would say) what language we speak. His response:

"The real kind".

**************

And of course, I had to add some additions to the Sweet Boy Dictionary.

What they say: Tato Banana
What they mean: Taco Cabana

What Z says: Cocoa Pebbles
What he means: : The Flinstones

What Z says: tater tots
What he means: apricots

What Stephen says: consequence
What he means: consonants

What Marc-Adam says: heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh
What he means: Please, Mother, if you don't mind, please may I have some more of those delicious Goldfish crackers? Can I just have the whole box?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wordless Wednesday--First Days of School


Stephen's first day of math and first day of reading.



Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's bad news when waffles can take you down a notch

Last weekend, I made soup. Not just any soup. I took some to my neighbor and she called to tell me it was the best soup she ever had. And y'all, it was good. So good that I kept burning my tongue because I couldn't wait till it cooled off. So good that the baby even ate 3 bowls (veggies and all). I was feeling pretty good about my culinary creation. I didn't even use a recipe. I was thinking to myself, "Hey, I'm gettin' pretty good at this cooking thing. It's about time!"



And then.

I made waffles. Correction: I attempted to make waffles. What I really made was this:



Perhaps I should have given you some warning in case you are eating or getting ready to eat. Just the picture could induce loss of appetite. It was gross. It didn't even taste good. And I won't go into why it turned out that way. Let's just say it was, um, human error. What you see there, wouldn't even come off the waffle iron. It had to soak for 2 days and even then I had to use a fork to scrape it all out. Bummer.

So I'm not so impressed with myself anymore. I got too cocky I guess. I'm back to making fun of my cooking and everyone else is back to not eating it.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Haircuts and birthday cake

Here are a few pics from Marc-Adam's birthday (we're having a big "dual" party for him and Z this weekend):

He had his very first haircut. I was waiting till his first birthday because I knew it would make him look much more like a little boy and less like "my baby". So I was finally ready by his birthday.

Before:




After:



Later that evening, my parents and my in-laws came to have a little celebration. And there was cake:

Friday, October 26, 2007

One

My Dear Sweet Marc-Adam,

Today my dear, at precisely 5:57pm, you will be one year old. And what a year it has been! It's all been a bit of blur for me. I've heard it said that the third baby grows up the fastest. That's not something I truly understood until I blinked and am now celebrating your first year. I feel like I'm trying to catch the memories of your first year before they're gone.



Before you were born, I always felt like something was missing. Your brothers are wonderful and I love them just as much as I love you (but of course, I love all of you differently), but I felt like a there was still a little part of my heart that was empty. A part that your brothers or even your Daddy couldn't fill. And then when I found out that you were growing inside me, I missed you. I had never even met you, at that point I didn't even know your name and I missed you.

And then you were born. And I found out that that little empty spot in my heart was Marc-Adam shaped.



You've completed this life that your Daddy and I have built, even if only for a while. And I love watching the little person you are becoming. Watching your personality grow and develop. You're boisterous. You don't miss a beat with those rowdy brothers of yours. You love getting right in the middle of the action and sometimes it seems you have no fear. I have no worries of you 'holding your own' when you get a little bigger and those inevitable brotherly fights happen. And as is normal with the "baby" of the family, you love being the center of attention. And you love having a captive audience. You have no shame in clapping for yourself when you know you've done something great and even at your young age, the pride is written all over your face.

You are so loving. You've learned to give kisses. Those drooly, slobbery, open-mouthed kisses that I will treasure for as long as I live. I love it when you get a little sleepy and you find a shoulder (usually mine or your Papa's) to snuggle into and you go right to sleep. No fighting it, no protesting. Within minutes, you're sound asleep making those precious little snorty noises you make when you're sleeping really well.

You're not talking quite yet. Every once in a great while I can get a mama or dada out of you, but deep down I know those words have no meaning to you. But I'm not worried about it. Brother Stephen didn't talk until he was almost 18 months and, well, now he's your hero. You're signing pretty well, and that helps keep most of the frustration (yours AND mine) away for now. Sometimes, though, you have to yell at me just to get my attention long enough so that you can sign at me. And for that I'm a little sorry. Your brothers are just so distracting sometimes.

And speaking of brothers...it's amazing to watch you watch Stephen and Zachary. It's in your eyes...you want to be a big boy so badly. To run and jump and chase. You try and your brothers usually include you. They love you so much. They're always so sweet with you. You usually can't get a good meal without one of them trying to cover you with kisses or play with your "cute little toesies", as Stephen calls them. Stephen calls you "Cutie Pie" or "Sweety Cheeks" and the best we can get out of Brother Z is "Mart-Admom". But one day they'll get it right. I can't wait to hear what you call them.

Right now, you LOVE crayons. You love getting the big box of crayons right in front of you so you can "dig in". You dump them all over the floor, pick them up, chew on them, put them back in the box and then dump them on the floor again. And now that we have the nice, new floors, you like to color on them. Even when Mommy puts that silly paper in front of you, you just shove it aside to color on the great expanse of floor. The same goes for the dry-erase markers. You'd rather color all over your own face (or mine) than color on the white board. Although, you do like coloring on the white board. You've found that the best place to color is right over someone else's masterpiece.

You are persistent. You just don't give up and I can't wait to see what that does for you when you get a little older. You don't let anything get in your way and when you want something, you don't give up without a fight. Right now, and probably for a few more years, you're driving your mama crazy with that, but I have a feeling that quality is going to take you places.

I love your smile, my boy. You have a crooked little smile. Just like your Daddy's. You're the only boy to have picked up that trait from him. And, oh, how it makes my heart smile. As of right now, you have 7 teeth. 4 on top, 3 on the bottom, which makes your smile even more "uneven". You've completely changed how I feel about symmetry. :)



I can't wait to see where your second year will take us, honey. I can't wait to hear your first words, to see you running through the backyard with your brothers, to watch you see things for the first time. Christmas is coming up and you were just a wee little baby last year. I look forward to your reactions to everything this year.

So as your first year comes to an end, I want you to know that your Daddy and I love you more than you will ever be able to comprehend....until of course, you have a child of your own snuggle into your neck and drift off to sleep.

To many more years, my love,
Your mama

Monday, October 22, 2007

Maybe I'm not smart enough to homeschool...

I was browsing through a homeschool classifieds website just a bit ago and found an ad for Bob Books. We have two sets already that Stephen has been learning to read with. I got them at a garage sale a couple months ago. They've been working really well for us and for the most part, he likes them. So I thought I'd inquire about the ad to see if they were still available and which titles were in the set. The publishers have changed the way the sets are leveled and I always get confused (but that's fairly easy to do). Ours are leveled Set A and Set 2, I think. After I sent the e-mail to find out more, I went to the Bob Book website to find out which books are in what sets. And now I feel really bad. One of the sets we have is the very first set. I knew that. But the other "Set 2" is actually the FOURTH set of books--compound words. There are a full 24 books between the last set he read and the one he's reading now! Considering that, he's actually doing a fantastic job, but I feel like I've made him start reading these harder books without giving him a better foundation for reading. I thought these books seemed to be quite a bit more difficult, but I thought since he was doing okay with them that maybe that's how the Bob Books worked.

I feel really bad. Next thing you know, I'll be asking him to do trigonometry next week after he learns to add.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

His first steps....

....and I didn't even get to see. :(

Marc-Adam took his first steps today. While I was at church.

He stayed with my parents this morning while I went to church. I got a voicemail in between the service and Sunday School from my mom saying he took 3 steps to his Papa. It's bittersweet. I was excited because I knew it was coming very very soon, but I was also totally bummed because I spend most of his waking moments caring for him and playing with him and helping him grow. Then I leave for an hour and he gets up and runs around the room.

Ok, not really. But that's what it looked like in my head until I could get back to see him.

*sigh* And since he's the baby, it's sad to see him grow up so fast. He'll be a year old on Friday. Can't someone just slow this down a tad?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blah blah blah

I've finally ordered all our curriculum that we need right now! I got the Math U See books in a few weeks ago and was waiting on a few more bucks to be able to order the blocks that we need. Thanks to Sweet Hubby's company messing up his paycheck, they decided to compensate him by paying for the hours he actually worked. He worked nearly 30 hours in overtime, too, so we got a little unexpected bonus. So I ordered the blocks and this morning I won an auction for Stephen's reading curriculum which is different from the one I originally wanted to get, but it's much more affordable and I think he'll like it just as well (honestly, he won't know the difference because I never showed him the other one). I'd also like to use KONOS, but we can't afford that right now, so I'm going to spend the next few weeks putting together my own simple unit studies. Zachary and Marc-Adam's birthday party is coming up in a few weeks, though, and I'm going to be busy getting ready for that. And then of course comes the holidays, so I'm trying to decide when I really want to start "for real". He's so excited and I hate to keep putting him off and I wonder how busy we'll really be during the holidays. I might just try to make it through the birthday party and then start. Our first couple of units could be Thanksgiving and Christmas, I guess. Maybe that would help him understand better what we're celebrating. But now I'm rambling...

The past few days, Stephen's really been struggling with his reading. He comes to a word he should know or one that should be really easy to sound out and for some reason he just shuts down. I encourage him, but I refuse to give him the answer when I know he can get it on his own. Then I start to get impatient (which I know is the kiss of death when it comes to his reading) and he starts crying and it takes 20 minutes to read a word like "gill" or "set". I don't know why he's started it, but it was getting a little discouraging because he's done so well up to this point and I really don't want him to start dreading our reading time together. And there are times when he starts to sound a word out, but for some reason he just can't put all the sounds together. But yesterday, I found something that seems to help both problems and he thinks it's just the greatest thing ever.

I'm finding he leans toward being an auditory learner so when he can hear the sounds put together it clicks for him. Yesterday he was having the hardest time with the word "still" (which on any other day wouldn't have given him much difficulty). He kept sounding it right saying 'st' and 'ill' but he just couldn't put the two sounds together in his head. So I did a little cheer and I said kinda loud, "I say 'ST' and you say 'ILL! ST!" and he yelled "ILL!" We did that twice, he jumped up and yelled "STILL!!" This morning we did that again with the words he stumbled on and it worked within 2 times of us doing that and he got the word every time! What's more is that he LOVES doing it. And I don't feel like I'm giving him the answer because he breaks the word down in to two sounds and he tells me what sound he wants me to say and what sound he'll say. I nearly cried this morning when he was sounding out hard words this morning and reading them after we did that little cheer. I'm just so stinkin' proud of him!

Oh and one more thing about Stephen...I need some ideas and/or opinions...I'm working really hard on trying to get him to hold a pencil correctly. I've never held one correctly so I'm not sure how to help him. I tell him to hold it in a way that's comfortable for him, but it looks totally wrong. And when I place his fingers where they "should" be, it looks totally uncomfortable (because of the way he holds his hand and he's so stiff). Anyway, is this important? Is it something I should keep working on until he gets it right, or is it something that will eventually click so I should just let him hold it whatever way he wants to? Any thoughts/tips/tricks??

Moving on to other Sweet Boy fun, I've been meaning to post some pics of the kids because I haven't in a while, but I kept forgetting to upload the pictures from my camera. NowI finally did. So here are some tacky, white-trash pictures:





And a sweet picture that I think I'm going to use for their birthday invitation:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Oh. My. Word.

Just.....oh my.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,303058,00.html

Is anyone else terrified that things are going in this direction?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Food, food, wonderful food!

Katiebug tagged me for a fun food meme. And I haven't done a meme in a while...not because I haven't been tagged, but I just haven't gotten around to them.


1. How do you like your eggs? Runny. Cooked just a second longer than it takes for the salmonella die. Not a fan of fried and I'll eat a hard boiled egg once in a while.


2. How do you take your coffee/tea? With vanilla cream and a little sugar


3. Favorite breakfast food: eggs and cinammon rolls...maybe bacon if someone else cooks it. I can't be trusted to cook bacon.


4. Peanut butter - smooth or crunchy? Smooth and preferably "honey roasted" as well



5. What kind of dressing on your salad? Vinegarette or honey mustard (but only honey mustard if there are red onions in the salad)



6. Coke or Pepsi? Yech, neither. Barq's Root Beer, please.



7. You’re feeling lazy, what do you make? cheerios. That's all I ever eat if I'm eating by myself.



8. You’re feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order? beef and onions


9. You feel like cooking. What do you make? Tacos. Or maybe some fancy chicken dish.



10. Do any foods bring back good memories? Nothing really comes to mind right now.



11. Do any foods bring back bad memories? Once my ex-boyfriend's family ate bratwurst and made me clean out the pan that it had marinated in with beer and onions. I don't eat bratwurst, but whenever I see one or hear the name, my stomach turns just a little.



12. Do any foods remind you of someone? Eating at Schlotzky's reminds me of my best friend.



13. Is there a food you refuse to eat? Oh, seafood. Yuck, yuck, yuck. And I threaten Sweet Hubby that I'm eating alone at a different table if he orders it when we eat out.



12. What was your favorite food as a child? Hmmm....I don't know. I remember making hot ham and cheese sandwiches every day after school and thinking I was in heaven when I sat down in my bean bag chair to watch "Tailspin" to eat it.



13. Is there a food that you hated as a child but now like? I used to loathe lasagna (something about the cheese), but now once in a while I crave a good homemade lasagna.



14. Is there a food that you liked as a child but now hate? I can't think of anything.....



15. Favorite fruit and vegetable: I'm a meat and potatoes kinda girl, but I'm getting better about eating my 5 to 9. Bananas or cantaloupe would be my favorite fruit and these days I make sweet potatoes at least once a week because I'm beginning to like them so much.



16. Favorite junk food: milkshakes? oreo milkshakes to be exact.



17. Favorite between meal snack: This probably sounds a little weird, but it's something I started eating when I was pregnant with Z and I was diabetic: string cheese and graham crackers.



18. Do you have any weird food habits? I think everyone in my family could give you a list of my weird habits. I don't eat the ends of french fries. And I don't like crunchy/crispy fries. Or crunchy/crispy bacon. Come to think of it, I like most of my food a little undercooked.



19. You’re on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on? LOL. I'm the last person that needs to be on a diet...hmmmm.....water, salads, grilled chicken.



20 . You’re off your diet. Now what would you like? guacamole, warm brownies, any kind of breakfast baked good....not all together, of course.



21. How spicy do you order Indian/Thai? I don't like spicy or Indian or Thai.



22. Can I get you a drink? Strawberry margarita sounds great!


23. Red or White Wine? No thanks.



24. Favorite dessert? Anything sticky and chocolatey. I'm gonna stick with Katie on this one.



25. The perfect nightcap? These days it's fudge marshmallow cookies and a glass of milk.

I hate tagging...so consider yourself tagged if you liked this meme and haven't done it yet.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Update on Z's foot

The good news is that Zachary's foot isn't broken. We took him into to the doctor yesterday and had some x-rays done. The pediatrician wanted us to get him into the orthopedist today if he still wasn't walking on it, but I couldn't get an appt until Monday. He will walk on it now, though, but only if it's tightly and thickly wrapped in an ace bandage. He wails that it hurts when I take the bandage off. So he still can't walk on just a bare foot and even when it's wrapped he limps and even crawls a bunch of the time still.

And the "drama king" is coming out even more than ever. This morning while I was wrapping his foot and encouraging him to try to stand and maybe walk, through tears and a pouty lip, he said, "I'll never walk agaaaaain!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I rank right up there

Stephen: I love you so much, Mom.

Me: I love you, sweetie.

Stephen: I love you more than bugs.

Me: Um, thanks....me, too....?


On a not-so-lighter note, Zachary slipped this evening and hurt his foot. He now refuses to walk or even put weight on it. There's no sign of anything...no swelling, bruising or redness. I can't tell if he's just milking it and being dramatic (Zachary?! NO!) or if this is for real. I guess we'll see how he feels in the morning. I told him that if he can walk on it in the morning that we'll go to the park. If not, we'll have to go to the doctor.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Good news!

It's so nice to read articles like this one. It's really uplifting on days where the doubt that I can't possibly begin to homeschool my kids starts to creep in. And I love that more and more research is being done on homeschooling AND that the results are great (and surprising skeptics!). That particular article helps squash my fear that I'm not smart enough to help my kids succeed.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A handy little piece of information

Kelli had posted the other day about how to cut back on using plastic grocery bags and start doing something a little more eco-friendly. Well, I found out today that Wal*mart recycles their plastic bags. Apparently there's a big green recycle bin next to the main doors and you can bring in your used plastic bags, and they'll recycle them! I guess you could do the same thing if you are recycling already, but I think it's awesome that Wal*Mart is doing something, too. It's still not as good as using reusable bags, I guess, because they're still using up the petroleum to make them, but it's not as bad as throwing them in a landfill where they'll sit forever and ever amen. My source told me, however, that you can only take in Wal*mart bags. Not sure about that...it seems to me that a plastic bag is a plastic bag.

So there you go. Something to do to help you make a small difference before you buy your reusable grocery bags.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

There's really no good title for something this random

*sigh* I just can't keep up anymore! I haven't been blogging much because I've been trying very very hard to get my house in order. And it just ain't hap'nin. I really don't feel like I have much to blog about, though. So here are a few random thoughts.

We're home now for good. And Sweet Hubby has worked 40 hours in the last three days. I'm kind of seeing what it would have been like if I had stayed home during those six weeks he was gone. His boss told him to reassure me that after this week, it won't be like that anymore. I'm having a hard time believing that with Christmas right around the corner.

Marc-Adam is obsessed with the toilet. I'm just sayin' because I had to stop blogging for a minute to go fish him out of the toilet. I have to be very careful these days to keep the lid down or keep the door closed. I have to stay on top of the kids all day to make sure they put the lid down or close the door. He's also obsessed with the sound of the flush. If I put the lid down, he just goes over to the side to flush it. Over and over again. I'll admit...the toilets are not the cleanest thing in my house. And it just grosses me out to find him elbow deep in potty water.

And speaking of not being clean, I'm desperate to find some kind of cleaning/household routine to help me stay on top of this mess that we've mortgaged. I've tried FlyLady and the routines at Menus4Moms. Honestly, I find FlyLady a little too sugary and "in your face" with all her "purple puddles" and "Finally loving yourself" and testimonials and baby steps. It's just too much. I just want someone to lay out a decent cleaning routine for me because obviously I'm completely incapable of doing it myself. And I need more hand-holding right now than I get from M4M. So as it stands right now, I'm just trying to make sure we don't lose the kids in the laundry or break our legs tripping over the toys.

I bought our math curriculum. I got it off eBay, but ended up spending about what I spent for it brand new. Duh. I just got too wrapped up in the excitement, I guess. Oh well. But at least we'll have it and I just need to get the manipulatives now.

We've hit the Accountable Kids wall. I heard Stephen saying under his breath the other day, "I wish we didn't have to have those silly tickets...". LOL! But at least the tickets are the bad guys, not me. He hasn't figured out saving tickets, yet. He spends them on a TV show as soon as they hit his hot little hand. And then by the end of the day, he's mad because he doesn't get to watch one of his favorite shows. He's actually still excited about getting his chores done, I think he's just resentful that he has to have a ticket to enjoy the TV. And Zachary just does whatever Stephen does.

Most of you that read this know by now that Zachary does not have Celiac Disease. He doesn't even carry the gene. However, he is strongly predisposed to gluten sensitivity, but the tests showed that he doesn't seem to have any signs of it right now. So we've been enjoying real bread and meals out. But this also means we're back at square one with his eczema. He's still having flare ups. I've taken to wrapping one of his ankles/knees every night (I alternate) over a combination of Aveeno and Aquaphor. That's helped a lot as far as the thick, scaly skin, but the next day, the leg that I didn't wrap is all dry and flaky again (I'm planning on buying another wrap to be able to wrap both legs every night). And he's compulsive about getting the dry skin off and does it in his almost-3-year-old way....by scratching until he's bloody. I can't seem to get his fingernails short enough.

Very soon, I'll be posting some new pictures of the boys. They're very cute. Slightly tacky, but cute nonetheless.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Pretty close

I got the link to this personality test from Kelli. I thought it was actually pretty accurate.




You Are An INFP



The Idealist



You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.

Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.

It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.

But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.



In love, you tend to have high (and often unrealistic) standards.

You are very sensitive. You tend to have intense feelings.



At work, you need to do something that expresses your personal values.

You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.



How you see yourself: Unselfish, empathetic, and spiritual



When other people don't get you, they see you as: Unrealistic, naive, and weak

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"We are not best friends"

I had a best friend. We got along so well together. We laughed and played, we taught each other things. We shared meals....well, more specifically, I offered myself for his meals and we spent every minute possible together. Things were wonderful and sweet. And then my best friend grew and changed as a person. He started yelling at me. Pinching and scratching and worst of all, biting me. He started not letting me eat a meal in peace or get a good night's sleep. And one day, he didn't even notice when I left without saying goodbye.

We are not best friends anymore.

In all seriousness, I really am about to pull my hair out about Marc-Adam. Granted, our life has sorta been turned upside down with Sweet Hubby gone so much and we haven't even been home in almost two weeks. But the last several days, Marc-Adam has been so cranky and so fussy and so clingy. In the mornings when he wakes up looking all smiley and refreshed and happy to see me, after keeping me up what seemed like all.night.long, I tell him, "We are not best friends." I seem to have some kind of vague, blurry memory of at least one of the other boys going through something like this, but I don't know for sure. I know it could be separation anxiety, but I thought we went through that phase a couple months ago. He won't let me out of his sight and now that he's mobile he follows me around screaming and yelling because I put him down to do such silly things like eat and you know, go the bathroom. He gets mad even when I put him down and then SIT RIGHT NEXT TO HIM to play. He needs to be held and I better be standing up while I do it.

Oh, but after behaving that way all day long, Papa comes home, offers some frozen goodness in the form of a popsicle and Marc-Adam's all, "Mom? Mom who?" Which isn't a terribly bad thing because then I can actually get something done without him attached to my hip. But it still irritates me...I'm not sure why.

I'm really hoping hoping hoping things can get back to some kind of normal once we get back home. I really can't take too much more of this.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It hurts when I think this hard

I've been thinking alot about this boycott business. You know, boycotting all toys made in China. I've started looking into toys made in America and Europe and it's actually pretty easy to find some toys that are really cool. For a long time, I've avoided toys that light up, make noise, talk or race around the room. They have a name here...."battery suckers". The thing is, once the batteries run out on a toy, generally, I don't replace them. So then the toy just sits. And the kids move on to toys that don't take batteries. It's my belief that the toys (not all of them) that are free of "bells and whistles" are the best kind. Chances are, if a toy has a bell or a whistle, or any plastic whatsoever, it was probably made in China.

With Christmas just around the corner, I'm still struggling with this. I find myself justifying certain things. But here are things I struggle with:

I don't even have to look at some of the toys my kids want to see where they're made. I already know. It pains me to not get something they'd really like for Christmas/birthdays. They're so young to understand the idea of a boycott. The other day, Stephen told, "Mom, not EVERYthing is made in China!" I'm sure if he could roll his eyes, he would have.

I've had my eye on a bike for Stephen for Christmas for months....I looked on the website of the store I plan on getting it from and all it said was "imported". I really don't want to investigate further. So (wait for it, here comes the justifying) then I think, 'But it's not like he's going to be sucking on the bike!'

Boycotting toys made in China also means boycotting most toys carried by Sweet Hubby's company. It's almost like a conflict of interest. He really wants us to do as much of our Christmas shopping as possible not only with his company, but at his store.

Toys made outside of China are not cheap. And it's harder to find them in a store, which means we'll also be paying shipping.

Most toys made in China are not toys that my kids would recognize off the bat, so I worry that come Christmas morning or the birthday party, they won't be excited about their gifts. Certainly, they'll have time to get excited once they get a chance to play with a toy, but if they have no idea what it is, will they care when they open it? Will they be disappointed?

I'm not sure how to handle gifts from family and friends. I'd hate for the kids to get really excited about something only to have me tell them when we get home from the family Christmas that they can't play with it or it has to go back to the store. I know my mom is trying to seek out American made toys, but I'm not sure who else is putting any thought into it.

During all this, I've realized that I need to pinpoint exactly what it is I'm boycotting. I know definitively that I am boycotting ALL toys that pose a health risk to my children because of the way or where they are made. Lead is harmful when ingested. So all toys that might get sucked on or chewed on can not be made in China. That cuts a lot of toys out. But how far am I willing to take this? Am I willing to buy toys that are made in China (bikes and larger toys) that the baby won't play with and I know the boys won't try to eat? Do I want to make it even broader by boycotting the companies that aren't taking the appropriate measures to keep our kids safe? Or even further than that by boycotting ALL products made in a particular region just to make a statement?

As an aside, here are a couple websites I've found with some really cool toys made in America. Willow Tree Toys...check out the page labeled "Toys Made in America and Europe". They carry toys made in other countries, but claim all the products must meet their "stringent safety standards". There are some neat dress up clothes on their site for boys and girls (I'm thinking seriously about the sword and shield). And Imagiplay has some great toys as well that also say they are environmentally safe.

I know I'm not the only putting this much thought in to all this...what are you all thinking? With Christmas coming up, are you planning your shopping (for your kids, other people's kids, or your entire shopping list) just like usual or are you hesitating, maybe coming up with alternatives? What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Pullin' out the big guns

One morning last week, we were having a playdate at our house. I had told the boys a couple of times to clean up the living and play rooms of all their toys (picking up toys is an afternoon chore and I was asking them to do it in the morning). There was much whining and groaning about it--and the kids weren't happy, either. Just kidding. Kind of. Finally, Stephen actually started to clean up, but was grumbling. I told him he should be doing it with a happy heart because we were having guests. Then I said, "What if Jesus were comig over? Wouldn't you want the house to be clean and wouldn't you be happy about doing it?" He thought about it and said yes. So told him to clean like Jesus was coming.

A few minutes later from the playroom I hear, "ZACHARY!! Help me CLEAN!! Jesus is comin'!"

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hey! LOOK!! It's new post!!

It's been a while, I know. I just haven't really been in the mood to blog. Not a whole lot to blog about, I guess. I could have posted some cute pictures, but I'm a terrible mother and let the battery run out on my camera and have yet to charge it (same with my phone the last couple of days, so it's best not to try to call me on my cell phone in the very near future).

My mind has been consumed with many other things. I'm itching to start homeschooling "for real". Stephen just seems to be so ready and asks to "do school" every day. For now, he's content to do the workbooks I've gotten him (I got a ton for a quarter a piece the other day at a garage sale), but I'm afraid he's going to get bored with that and quite frankly, I've been bored with that for a while. I just don't like workbooks. They're fine for one or two subjects in addition to other kind of learning, but as the sole form of "school", it just irritates me. And I can't believe he's actually been happy with them for as long as he has. Anyway, I got some Bob books at another garage sale a couple weeks ago. He's already read through almost one entire box (11 out of 12 books). So needless to say, I'm ready to "take it up a notch". It's just the money that's holding me back. I keep half-joking/half-warning my family that I'm going to buy a bunch of cheap tins and popcorn and wrapping paper, mark it up 150% and sell it to them as a "fundraiser". Public school kids get away with it, right? Stephen's been busy earning himself fishing poles and transformer voice changing helmets. You know, the important stuff.

On the Zachary front, I sent away his, um, samples on Monday to have it tested for gluten-intolerance. We should have the results in a couple weeks. I'm anxious to know. Just when we seem to get his eczema under control, he has a flare up. And with each flare up, there's more rash. When he flares up, his eyelids (top and bottom) are bright red, a little swollen and scaly. He looks so sickly. But he's not acting it. He's his funny, goofy, stubborn self.

Marc-Adam is growing too fast for his own good. Yesterday, somehow, he pulled up on the side of the breakfast table and pulled a whole cup of milk down onto himself. I put the cup there for that exact reason...to keep it out of his reach. I had no idea he could pull up on the table. When I peeked over from the kitchen to see what he was doing, all I saw was too tiny hands "white-knuckling" the side of the table and I knew what was coming. It was kinda funny (since I wasn't the one soaked in cold milk). And now I know we have to be more careful. He's also gotten very one-track-minded and has started to show a temper. When he wants something, he wants it NOW and gets M-A-D if anyone gets in his way. The standard "redirection" form of discipline that's supposed to be appropriate at this age doesn't really work on him. If I do get him distracted from the "no-no" it's only for about 30 seconds before he's back to it again.

Next week, we're heading back to my parents while Sweet Hubby finishes his last two weeks of his training. That should be fun. It's like a little mini vacation for me.

What else? Anything else you'd like to know that I could blog about??

Friday, August 31, 2007

Jiggety Jig

We're heading back home today. We've been staying at my parents during the week for the last month, and now Sweet Hubby is coming back home for 2 weeks before he leaves again for the last 2 weeks of his training. So the hardest part is over. It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it'd be because it was great fun (and so relaxing!) to stay with my folks. They take great care of me even though I'm grown with kids of my own. And the kids just love them to pieces...the popscicles and chocolate rice krispie treats probably have something to do with it, but as Mom says "Bought love is better than no love at all."

As fun as it's been, I'm so looking forward to having my husband home. I miss sharing the everyday details with him and having him a part of my daily life. My parents are my parents and I enjoy them and I'm comfortable with them, but not having Sweet Hubby around is like missing a part of me.

And it'll be good to get back into routine. My parents' house is so neat and organized even when we're here, that now I want to go home and make nice of every room in the house. Then when I come back to real life, I remember that it'll probably take me a week to get everything back in order from this trip and then I'll spend the next week getting ready to be gone for 2 more weeks. Then I'll be gone for 2 weeks and spend the next week getting back to normal. So realistically, I'll be lucky if I get things in order before Christmas. If I ever actually do get things in order. Organization is not one of my strong suits.

Home again, home again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The simplest pleasures

I've been looking for a while for some big, chunky pencils for Stephen and have surprisingly been unsuccessful. He's just not getting the hang of holding a crayon to write, and I'm having a hard time explaining or showing him since I never leared to write correctly anyway. My mom finally found some chunky pencils (at a grocery store of all places) and brought some home. I used them with Stephen this afternoon and it was like a whole new world of writing was opened up to him!

"Wow, Mom, this is better!"

"These are really good!!"

"I like these pencils Grammy got!"

And then when he made a little mistake, without thinking, I took the pencil from him, turned it over and said, "Here, let's just erase it." His eyes lit up.

"There's an eraser!? This pencil can do anything!!"

And this, my friends, is why I'm going to homeschool these precious children. I wouldn't miss a moment like that for the world.

The Ultimate in Procrastination

Zachary: Mama, I need to go potty!

Me: Then, go, silly goose.

Zachary: (long pause) Neh, I'll go tomorrow.

Works for Me Wednesday--keeping baby clothes organized

When Stephen was a baby, he wore his clothes for a loooong time because he was so little for so long. And then I was bad about putting away things that didn't fit anymore and then we ran out of room for all his clothes. And then it would take me a weekend to sort through everything and get it all put away and by that time, I had newborn stuff mixed with 12 month stuff. Which, you know, made it real easy to sort through when Zachary came along. Yeah, right. Anyway, here's what I do now.

  • I have all baby clothes sorted in boxes in these categories: 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months and 9-12 months (after that it's 12-18 and 24 month/2T, etc).
  • I keep the box that we're in (for instance right now we are in the 6-9 month box) empty in Marc-Adam's closet. The previous box (3-6 months) is sitting next to the changing table. I know it doesn't look very attractive, but it keeps me organized.
  • As I get him dressed, if something doesn't fit, I put it in the box. If it does fit but only once more, then I make mental note and when it goes through the laundry and gets put away, it gets put in the box.
  • When I realize that none of the 3-6 month clothes are fitting anymore, I do a sweep of his dresser and closet for any leftover 3-6 month clothes to put in the box (but by this time most of it's already there, so it only takes a few minutes). I throw in some cedar "packets" I made and the box goes in the attic.
  • Then I pull the empty 6-9 month box out of the closet and put it next to the changing table. Usually by that time I can start unpacking the next box (9-12, in my case right now) .

And the whole thing starts over again.

This process keeps from having to spend hours sorting through all the clothes. And has a byproduct, it also keeps me from getting all teary about the clothes that don't fit and how big the boys are getting.

As always, check out Rocks in My Dryer for more tips!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ketchup packets are NOT a food group

Yesterday, my mom and the kids and I went to Chick-fil-a for lunch. While we were getting the kids set up with their lunches, Marc-Adam got a hold of an unopened ketchup packet and started sucking on it. I let him play with it for a few seconds and then took it away and distracted him with a bit of banana and moved everything out of his reach. When we were all just about done, he started gagging and choking a bit on what I thought was a piece of chicken. Then it seemed like he got it worked out. So I gave him another bite. He started choking again. I gave him a few seconds to see if he could work it out and when it was clear he wasn't getting out (because he wasn't breathing) I got him out of the highchair, turned him almost upside down and started beating on his back. A piece of chicken fell out and he started breathing again. I thought all was right. But then he starts gagging and choking again. At this point I'm a little more than freaked out and I was just getting ready to start hollering to see if someone could help, because obviously I couldn't handle this on my own. Just then I get a glimpse of something in the back of the roof his mouth. Against everything that I've been told about a choking baby, I did a sweep of his mouth and yielded.....a pointy corner of a ketchup packet! Not off the one he had been sucking on, though. I have no idea where (or when!) he got it from. I don't even tear the corners off the ketchup packets when I open them.

His lunch was over after that.

Then yesterday afternoon, he crawls into the kitchen where I am with something obviously in his mouth. Before I can get to him I see it's something sparkly and when I dig it out (which thouroughly ticked him off) it's my wedding ring. I had taken it off while putting lotion on Zachary and then the phone rang and jumped up to get it and left my ring on the floor.

It was a great day for me as a mom yesterday.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Cheetos are a food group, right?

You know it's time for a trip to the grocery store when the kids eat Koala Crisp (kind of like cocoa pebbles, but gluten free) and cheetos for dinner.

And then the next day they have tater tots and bananas for breakfast.

And the next day they have mashed potatoes and yogurt for breakfast.

Funny thing is...I still haven't gone to the grocery store except to get milk...and the aforementioned bananas and yogurt. I can't imagine what they would have eaten if I hadn't gotten those!

(I have to add that the reason I didn't do actual grocery shopping when I picked up the milk, bananas and yogurt was because I refuse to do real shopping at the grocery here in our town....$100 worth of groceries at any other store would be about $150-$175, so I only do pick up things we need immediately from that store.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wordless....Thursday?


This kid has more hair than the previous two put together!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fired up!

This weekend I attended my first ever homeschool conference/convention. I went into it with a few shaky ideas about how/what I wanted to do. I was still even feeling a few doubts that I wanted to homeschool at all.

I sat in on a few seminars and got my hands on every kind of curriculum I had heard of, plus a few I hadn't. I joined a group specifically for moms starting out homeschooling (Smoothing the Way). Now, I am fired up! There is no doubt in my mind anymore that homeschooling is the right decision for our family and now instead of just planning to homeschool for a few years, I'm reallly hoping we can do it for as long as possible (as long as everyone wants to). My ideas about curriculum and our "style" are solidified and now I'm just waiting on having enough money to purchase it. Technically Stephen wouldn't start kindergarten until next fall and Texas' compulsory age is 6, so I'm not in that much of hurry except that I'm really excited. And not to mention he is soaking things up like a sponge lately (he's reading!) so I don't want to waste time. But we are still reading a lot and he has what he calls "circle books" which are fun workbooks that he enjoys.

So in case you are interested, here's what we are going to do for Stephen's kindergarten year (assuming I don't find anything in the next year that I like better....and as always, I reserve the right to change my mind). For math, we'll be starting with the Math-U-See primer. Sweet Hubby and I both got to attend seminars lead by Steve Demme, the creator of Math-U-See. We fell in love with the program (as much as you can fall in love with math) and him. It's more affordable than some of the other programs, and it's supposed to teach math in a way that makes you actually know it and learn it rather than memorizing facts. For reading/writing, I'm still slightly on the fence, but it's just because of the price. As of now, I'd like to use Sing, Spell, Read and Write. It's quite pricey (retailing on the website for close to $300, but I've found it on ebay for less than $200), but it covers 2 years worth of curriculum. The way both the older boys memorize songs, I think this would be a great one for us. And Stephen loves to play games which this curriculum has a lot of. I've been told to just focus on math and reading at this age, but Stephen loves science stuff, so I think we'll use Backyard Scientist (an idea I got from Katiebug) and do science once or twice a week. I'm also planning on doing social studies "projects" once a week and I'll put that together on my own. I'd also like to do some kind of bible curriculum, but I'm having a hard time finding ideas for something for preschool/kindergarten age (I'd like it to be something I can do with all the kids, or at least Stephen and Zachary). I've found something called Disciple Land, but I'm not sure about it and it looks like it could get pricey quick.

We'll also be starting Accountable Kids as soon as we're back to a normal routine. Right now, I think it's just too much with all the back and forth during the week. I think the kids could handle it, but I'm not sure I can. And my mom bought the kids Financial Peace, Jr. which we're all super excited about. Stephen's obsessed with the calculator and he's working toward saving for a fishing pole. The kids love the FP Jr. books so far and Stephen talks about them all the time (and what he would do if he were in those situations).

So if that wasn't enough links to keep you busy for a while, I just don't know what will! :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Is this normal?

For me, part of being a mom is needing validation that I'm not alone--that other moms deal with the same things or that other kids have the same issues. I used to be a part of an online forum where I could get that kind of validation, but I don't visit that forum anymore. So here I list things about my kids that make me think "Is that normal?" Some of them I know are normal (or I know they're not) but they're just fun/cute/weird and maybe worth sharing. Feel free to tell me your kids do the same thing or the things that you wonder about. Whatever you do, don't tell me my kids aren't normal. I'll start with Marc-Adam, because he seems to be less weird...probably just because of his lack of years.

Marc-Adam

  • repeatedly throws his head back and then brings it forward again just as quickly...as if he's in violent agreement with you
  • loves to be held upside down and throws himself back if you hold him upside down once while holding him...he's only 9 months old
  • loves to suck on the dry erase board eraser (ewwww!)
Zachary
  • insisted on buying a pair of glasses that look like they might be a cheap knock-off of a pair in Elton John's wardrobe--he then proceeds to wear them upside down because he's ears aren't stiff enough to hold them up
  • when you tell him to close his mouth, he opens his eyes wide and lifts his eyebrows half way up his head...he also makes this face when you ask for a kiss...we've now begun to call this look "Zachary's scary eyes"
  • has developed a Peewee Herman laugh
  • randomly throughout the day insists on a change of clothes, simply because he doesn't want to wear what he has on anymore
Stephen
  • LOVES watching (and participating with) Sit and Be Fit
  • gets totally freaked out by the videos of people losing teeth or their dentures on America's Funniest Home Videos
  • holds his ears when he's scared
  • will turn up the TV/computer/music until it's the only thing everyone else in the house can hear
  • regardless of how many times I've corrected him, he leaves the toilet seat down to tee-tee and puts it up to sit down for his other business
Well, after putting this list together, I'm pretty sure I have my answer....my kids might be a little on the weird side. And I wouldn't have it any other way.