Friday, April 30, 2010

Mom's day gifts - or birthday, if you're the procrastinating type.

digital camera without a spot on the lens - and automatic red-eye removal (because you KNOW that extra flash doesn't always eliminate the problem)

a year's worth of weekly menus & the coordinating grocery lists

this fun tape, brought to my awareness by my sister

frequent updates of the best price for toilet paper and diapers that don't involve me doing math

these photo ropes, which I'd like to hang EVERYWHERE...

a Keurig coffee pot and case of vanilla-flavored caffinated coffee that won't get me addicted to caffeine

pretty much any of these necklaces...

Cricut with all the cartridges that I might ever be interested in

these earrings, which I bought for a friend's birthday but almost kept for myself

Then there are the real biggies:

time to scrapbook and catch up on all my albums
time to catch up with all the housecleaning that's nagging me (windows, dusting, vacuuming upstairs...etc)
time to absorb all my kids' charms before they grow up too fast
time for a date night with Aaron once a week (I guess if you gifted me a babysitter, that would work, too)
a mama & daddy for every child
food for every mouth
peace in every country, with all people

You know, as long as I'm doing some wishing....


What are you getting YOUR mom to commemorate all the time she's put into turning you into productive member of society? That is not a small undertaking, you know.

Hopefully the kids will stage a coup tomorrow...

My kids are lovely. Today has been good, and I've accomplished a fair amount. For some reason, the back tire on Ben's bike won't touch the ground, which means he sits, pedals, and the nothing moves. It's actually pretty funny, but also very frustrating to him. Fortunately, Leah won Big Sister of the Year by letting him ride her bike for a bit. Also, Ben went #2 on the potty this morning! Not sure exactly why, but he's told me AGAIN that he's not going to poop in his undies anymore. One of these times I'll believe him.

So there's my day. Nothing too exceptional, at least not that I'm already sick of talking about (see: pottytraining.)

I had a request at the Modern-Day Jane Facebook page for information about our last book club meeting. We discussed The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which is the hot new thing in adolescent literature. I borrowed the book from a friend and finished it in one day. It was so good that I pretty much ignored my kids, except for cooking dinner & doing baths/bedtime.

At our club meeting, we discussed other post-apocalyptic teen lit novels and stories, and the story The Lottery came up. Some members were not familiar with this short story, although I think it is required reading in most high schools. It is one of the most horrifying examples of mob mentality, and also an example of "governing" the wrong way.

One of my favorite blogs mimismartypants just happened to mention this story recently. And since I'm having a little writer's block, I thought I'd pass you on over there. WARNING: This blogger is not kid friendly, and does occasionally use some swears. But she. is. funny. Plus, she lives in Chicago, and it's fun to read about the craziness of the big city where my sister lives. (Like El train rants!)

Also, whenever I feel the pressure to do MORE with my blog, I remember that the reason I love Mimi is just because of her writing. Not that I am nearly as good as she is. But, she doesn't have photos, rarely links, no advertising, and NO widgets, fancy or not. Stick to the basics, and do it to the best of your abilities.

Which is why I'm totally slacking off tonight. Apparently, I am a good slacker.

What's your favorite blog? What do you love about it?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Old Man is Snoring

Our first really good spring rain came today. Here's what else happened:

- We slept in. (Well, maybe not entirely because of the rain. But I swear the barometer pressure makes a difference.)

- Aaron had to work in the basement instead of the yard, replacing ceiling tiles.

- Leah had recess in the gym instead of the park, which worked out perfectly, since us half-day moms had planned to have pizza for lunch with the kids at school.

- Ben got really, REALLY sweaty running around in the gym.

- Ben also had to apologize to his little friend Cadence about five times for hitting her. Accidentally? On purpose? Who is really to say?

- The big kids and I went to Target. It took them a full five minutes to walk the 20 feet to the store's door - because they were sharing an umbrella.

- Found flip-flops for Ben & Leah, some new storage for Leah's dress-up collection, and Multigrain Cheerios for $2 a box! (with a coupon, of course)

- Almost poked myself in the eye twice maneuvering our two umbrellas, a sliding van door, and Ben's carseat straps.

- Ben fell asleep on the way home and slept for another hour and a half.

- Oh yeah, that other kid? Adam slept until 8:30am, napped from 10-11:30am, and then again from 2pm - 4pm. Good napping weather!

- No soccer for Ben! And it was such a relief, too, since Leah has gymnastics from 3:45-4:45pm, and soccer practice starts at 6pm. It's a tight time schedule, especially to try to get a home-cooked meal in between those two events.

- The rain cleared up just before dinner, so Aaron was able to escape the house - to the driving range, of course. Leah went with, and was a great help in pounding tees into the ground.

- The boys got baths. Ben turned nice & pruney in a long bubble bath.

I love rainy days, and especially in the spring! There's just something about all that sand and scum being washed away. Now if it would all clear up for Aaron's golf excursion this weekend...a happy husband is always lovely!


Any special rainy day activities?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Master of Procrastination

Folks, I am a little anxious tonight.

In that box to the right, just under the photo of a truly modern Jane, it says that I "want a Masters degree without all that work". Truer words have never been spoken.

I renewed my teaching license a few years, but time it is a ticken', and now I only have two years left to renew again. Fortunately Aaron has a license for his job, too, and can appreciate that it's usually easier to go through the renewal process than let it expire and try to get a new one. I really do plan to go back to teaching, possibly part time once Adam is in 1st grade, so I do need to get this done.

The last time, I had a slew of continuing education credits from my stint teaching middle school for three years. Plus, I made a half-hearted attempt at grad school (I never should have tried to be a teaching assistant - TA- for a class. I think if I'd just stuck to TAKING one class, things would have been much better. Anyway.) Those credits, plus a couple easy online classes for specific content areas, and I had all the credits needed.

This time? It's not going to be so easy. First of all, I haven't worked in almost six years. I also haven't taken any other classes since my last renewal. All of which means that I'm starting to get stressed about what it's going to take for me to keep that license.

My last graduate school attempt was for a Masters in English, which is much harder than a Masters in education. But still, I'm not sure if I'm willing to do the work required for that degree, either - I mean, I DO have 3 little kids and spend a good part of my day wiping poopy butts. Plus, I have a tendency to like big ideas in my head, but not so much when it comes to the nitty gritty. (Aaron is constantly teasing me about my ambitious gardening projects that I end up forgetting to water...)

A local university ( in Minnesota, since that is where I'm licensed) has a degree for childhood & young adolescent literature - does THAT sound fun or what?! There are only 3 classes required - if I could somehow manage one a semester, things may not be so dire. (Just try and convince Aaron of that, will you?)

I really need to call MN's department of education and get some advice on how to go about this in the most painless way possible.

Honestly, the part I'm dreading the most is asking my former references to have faith in me again. They were so kind and complimentary before, I'm rather worried that now they'll be all, "THAT girl didn't even have the decency to finish her LAST program? And now she wants to start ANOTHER one? What a looo-ser."

Oh wait, maybe that's just what I'm saying to myself.

Quick, someone tell me about something terrible that happened from not going through the proper paperwork!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hopefully he'll move out before he's 30.

Leah was a rather independent kid, right from the start. She loved the idea of the toddler bed, potty trained herself (well, basically), figured out on her own how to manage zip-up pjs in the bathroom at night, and in general took to everything rather quickly.

She was never a cuddler, either - too fidgety.

Now we have my little man Benjamin. He is a wonderful cuddler. The other day he even told me that he wanted to sit on my lap forever. "But me want to play soccer too." Yes, it is hard to play soccer while sitting on your mommy's lap. But I'd be willing to try.

Unfortunately, it seems that another way his affectionate nature is presenting itself is by being as dependent on me as possible. Every step towards independence has involved about 5 mini-steps.

Sleeping in a toddler bed: Partially because of our moving twice in 3 months, he slept in a pack & play until he was about 2 1/2. By then he was almost too big to fit IN the thing. But to get him out, we had to first leave the mattress on the floor in the room with him, then let him choose which he wanted to sleep on, and finally took the pack & play away completely and just forced him to make the switch. It took several months.

Putting on his own jacket: Used the "flipping it over the head" technique, but are actually still working on having him pull the sleeves right side out and/or take it off so that doesn't happen in the first place. I think he's finally getting the hang of it.

Potty-training: Yeah. We had to force him to "practice wearing undies" and "practice going on the potty". The #1 part is going pretty well, but #2 is a whole 'nother issue. One we are ready to give up on until he just gets tired of it.

Brushing his teeth: He does a rather random job, so much so that I prefer not to be in the same room when he does it. And still, I usually put the toothpaste on his brush, and do the job myself once a day, just so I know they're getting really clean. Now, if he (and Leah, for that matter) could just avoid spitting on the faucet and MAYBE make sure all the paste gets washed down the drain.

Putting on his own shoes: Last summer he seemed intent on putting his crocs on the wrong feet every. single. time. With sneaker weather came much whining about having us put them on for him, or to fasten the (velcro!) straps, or that something was wrong (usually the tongue or heel pushed down). Finally it seems that we've convinced him to put down BOTH shoes to tell if they are on the right side. He can get it done, but only if he's calm and in the mood to cooperate.

And here's my top five list of things I'd like for him to get figured out as soon as possible:
1. Poop in the potty. Nuff said.

2. Fix his own blankets at night. This is one of the negatives of having a Type A child - Ben insists on his blankets being arranged JUST SO, and if he wakes up at night and they aren't, well, reinforcements (aka Mommy) must be called in to help. This tapered off, but now that he's waking up at night to go potty, I've been tucking him in after helping him. Guess what I'm stopping immediately? (And I have to admit, this blanket fixation is my own fault - if ONLY I didn't do the same thing every night...apparently my habits make my kids rather OCD.)

3. Go potty at night by himself. This WOULD be number 2, but I'm kindof afraid that he might fall and get a concussion trying to go potty while half-asleep, pjs & undies around his ankles, and standing on a stool. I'm willing to get up with him ONCE, but the second time he's on his own.

4. Learn to blow his nose. Heck, I'd be happy if he'd just WIPE it himself. Our new rule is that if he wants me to wipe it for him, he has to at least TRY to blow. The attempts are the most pathetic ever.

5. Zip his coat. Now I'm really dreaming. But as long as I'm fantasizing, why not go all out?

Do me a favor? Remind me of all this when he buys his own car and doesn't come home until 3am.

What one accomplishment of your child's made the biggest change in YOUR life? Is potty training the ultimate? Or is something smaller the key to freedom?

Friday, April 23, 2010

With great power comes great responsibility.

In our family, I am the designated "looker". If something is missing, and anyone else "can't find it", I am the one who then looks for it. And usually I find it, thanks to my near photographic memory for where things are.


Random tools of Aaron's. Doll pieces of Leah's. A certain car of Ben's. Doesn't matter what it is or if I am even remotely interested in it myself - it doesn't take me long to locate the hiding object.

(Which is why it drives me craaazy when things really go missing. Like for instance, 2/3 of the pegs for the game Trouble in the Bubble. My theory is, if you lose one piece, the rest is sometimes rendered unusable - you may as well throw it out. But don't despair! All the Bubble pegs have been found - most were hiding in with the blocks. Anyway.)

Of course, if anyone else in the house took the time to think through these steps, they could probably do their own looking - and finding:

1) Where was the last place I put the object?
2) Where was the last place I saw the object?
3) Might the object be in one of those said places, but obscured by another item?
4) Might the object be very NEAR to one of those places?
5) Where SHOULD the object be?

But since these steps seem to not be as automatic to everyone else as they are to me - and also, I have that photographic memory thing going on - I am the first line of defense against rampant loss. I don't mind too much, since I like the feeling of accomplishment and helpfulness. At least if they didn't like the supper I made, they still needed me to find that other shoe.

My patience is tested, however, when I can STAND UP and find the desired object. I've started warning the kids, when they ask me to "help them look": Am I going to see it as soon as I walk into the room?

But the other day, something exception happened. I was blamed for a MISSING item. (Actually, not exceptional - every time I put stuff away I get accused of hiding it.) But get this - it wasn't even MINE. OR Aaron's. It was Ben's (kid-sized, left-handed) golf club.

The other parent in the family called me TWICE while I was at the park (where recess takes place) with Leah & Adam after picking her up from school. Both times he had me replay the last time I had seen the club, which was desperately needed for Ben to have any fun accompanying Aaron thirty minutes.

Of course, the last time it was seen by either of us was when I had allowed Ben to hit golf balls in the front yard. People, I SWEAR it was totally safe. I even had him stop and wait whenever anyone came near. Perfectly fine.

Anyway, since I had put the golf club away (in a completely logical, normal spot), and now it wasn't there, it was clear to the OTHER parent in the family that I had misplaced it. Thinking that maybe I had, I threw out some options of where it could be, and finally agreed to come home and check it out.

The guys were gone when I got home, and I made a sweep of the typical hiding spots with no luck.

Four days later, still no golf club. By then, I was very curious. There really aren't THAT many places for a golf club to hide, and by now I'm very certain that I was not the one responsible. I explained to that other parent that although I am the primary caregiver, there are *gasp* pockets of time when the kids are not directly supervised, and either of them could have made off with the club during any one of those times in the past week. But we looked and LOOKED, with still no success.

Tonight, we had some friends over for dinner. During the kids' "go run off some energy" time after supper, Ben came running in with exciting news:

"Me found my goff club! It was buried in the sand box!"

I am so NOT taking the blame for this, AND I will be reminding that other parent of this whenever such a situation occurs again.

Also, the sandbox has been added to the search route.


What's the oddest spot you've found something in? I know a teacher who put his shoes in the fridge. Yes, he's legally blind, but still - you'd think something would click there.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Parents

Today was gymnastics for Leah. All year, Aaron has been taking her, with or without also taking Ben. And let me tell you, it has been awfully nice to have an hour or so of relative quiet in the house while they are all gone. Sometimes I'd scrapbook, or vacuum, and once Adam and I watched the "kid shows" that are part of the afternoon routine...all on our own. Because I know Adam likes them. Yes, I feel a little guilty about that.

However, the last several weeks I have started the task of driving Leah to class, and waiting in the balcony for the duration. Why? Because her friend E is ALSO in the class, and I happen to really enjoy chatting with E's mom Laurie. And since she also has 3 kids, E being the youngest, rarely do our paths cross, and then usually just briefly. The chance to visit for an hour once a week? Yeah, I'll volunteer for that!

Today Leah, Adam and I arrived a tish early. Like, 15 minutes early. I guess I forgot how close we live to the gymnastics arena - or how much faster I move without having to unbuckle Ben and wait for his lollygagging. Regardless.

We went back to the changing area and spent a few seconds absorbing how peaceful and quiet it was. AFTER, that is, we passed a crazed mom and two boys. Here is a synopsis of their "conversation":

Mom: Come on, Blaze! Let's go! You need to listen! Blaze, if you don't get going....well, I guess Ashton and I will have ice cream and you won't get any!
Blaze: But I'm hungry!
Mom: You just had a cookie! Now let's go!

By this time, I've already heard this kid's name way more than I really want to. And there is more to come.

I deposited Leah at her class, after a teacher showed up, and then the baby and I headed up to the balcony. And guess who was waiting there? Yep, Crazed Mom. And her two LOVELY boys. Here's some more of what I was put through, all from the Mom this time:

Blaze, sit down! Don't touch that (the railing)! I said sit DOWN! Sit down now! Blaze, if you don't sit down, you're not going to get that ice cream. Blaze, stop it. Stop it now! Blaze, I have had it with this! Sit down! Ashton, don't fall (through the railing...and since when does a kid fall on purpose?) You're going to get stuck...again! Be careful! Blaze, be quiet! Ashton, sit down. (By now, Ashton is sitting with his legs through the railings, dangling his legs over the trampoline below. But Blaze can't TOUCH the railing, or at least he couldn't five minutes previous.) Blaze, I will take you OUT of here. You can wait in the car. (I think she realized this was probably a bad threat to make in public. My ears perked up, probably visibly, and I started thinking about calling Social Services.)

Then I called Laurie. Thankfully, she was on her way upstairs, because there was no WAY I could sit through an hour of listening to that woman's parenting. I usually try to be understanding of a parent's situation, but this one went on for so LOOOONG, and she was talking so MUUUUCH, if I didn't have someone else to distract me, I was planning to go home and just come pick Leah up when she was done. I mean, the boys were squirlly, but they weren't being overly naughty, that I had noticed. Just how much do you expect of kids ages 2 and 4? When they are waiting for an older sibling, with nothing to entertain them? Seems like a stressed mommy waiting to happen.

Anyway, Laurie arrived and things improved greatly. Then she got a phone call from one of HER boys. Apparently there was some brotherly dispute going on, and one kid had locked the other out of the house, and it sounded like bodily harm might be inflicted. This is roughly what I heard from HER end:

Okay, M, what I need you to do is go to your room, by yourself, and stay there until I get home. Give the phone to C. M, give the phone to C. M, go upstairs and sit on the couch until I get home, and I don't want the tv on. If I get home and find out that you've disobeyed me, there will be consequences. Now give the phone to C. I want to talk to C. M, that's One. ...That's Two. ....That's Three.

And then M hung up on his mom, and her expression said that things would NOT be happy for M once she got home. What I admired is that her tone stayed even throughout the entire conversation! There was no sign of the screaming and battling going on at the other end (she just told me about it!) She was clear and direct. And yes, the boys were still naughty, but I had a feeling that if she had been there in person, the situation would have been resolved rather promptly.

Have you ever just been flat out irritated by another parent's "methods"? And let me clarify AGAIN, I usually give the parent the benefit of the doubt in similar circumstances - kids throwing fits at stores, leaving playdates, etc. But this time it really seemed like the MOM was misbehaving more than the children.

To what extent will you change your schedule just to visit with a friend? Most extreme example, please?:)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Also, driving with the windows down. Willingly.

One of my favorite things about the change in seasons (besides the novelty which makes it easier to get my kids outside) is the new wardrobe that comes with it. And I'm not talking about the wardrobe that has come straight from the mall.

I'm talking about the one that comes from the back of your closet. Yesss, we get to pull out the frilly t-shirts, not just the ones to layer under sweaters. Cropped pants (cause it has to be REALLY hot for this mama to wear shorts). Sandals and flip-flops.

And it's just a bonus if you spent the previous summer pregnant and/or nursing. That opens up a whole segment of your wardrobe that hasn't seen the light of day for almost 2 years: closer fitting button-down tops (I know those should be nursing-friendly, but it's much easier to pull up than unbutton). White shirts (baby spitup? leaking boobs?). All bottoms that didn't fit (either too big OR too small, depending...). And the biggy? DRESSES. After several family weddings, I have a good supply of them, but they are decidedly NOT nursing-friendly, unless I want to put the thing over my head. Which I don't.

I love me some pretty skirts, and have many, but I've taken my opportunities to wear dresses for the last four dressy events I've attended (and those would be, just so you don't think I'm attending black-tie events: Easter Sunday church, school banquet, and two nights of the dinner theater I directed.) Dresses that require special undergarment considerations - and I'm not talking nursing bras. REAL dresses.

And to prepare, I even planned ahead. About a week or so before the first dress event, Easter, I started on my crusty heels. I thought I'd end up heading to a salon for a pedicure (Oh, the TORTURE), but instead I just used my pumice stone in the shower. Within a few days, the skin looked new. Not, of course, baby-new, but at least nearly-middle-age new.

I also started making my legs look less like they'd spent the winter buried under denim, being shaved once a week (on average). My favorite tactic for this is Jergens Natural Glow body lotion. From past experiences, though, I have learned to put regular lotion on my knees, tops of my feet, and shin bone first, before applying the tanning lotion. Otherwise that thinner? skin absorbs more color and it looks very UN-natural.

Of course, painting my toenails was a must before the first breaking-out of the sandals. One of the rewarding parts of having little people around is that they are much closer to your toes, and therefore oooh and ahhh very satisfactorily over any improvement in the view. There's nothing like a kid appreciating your purple toenails to make the day a little brighter!

I do tend to go shopping for a few new items each spring - especially solid color t-shirts, which are my uniform of choice. I have one in almost every color, but wear them so often they DO need replacing, although Aaron has yet to be convinced of that. (The replacing part. The every-shade-of-the-rainbow part he's in complete agreement with.)

In summary, (this is a tip of the hat to my 8th grade writing instruction) spring to me means wearing almost-forgotten clothes - especially dresses - , shaving & coloring my legs, and painting my toenails. All this comes before planting my gardens...which are in the process of being built. More on that soon!

A non-nature sign of spring for you?

Which type of clothing do you most look forward to wearing when the season changes? From winter to spring, OR summer to fall....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

They haven't been to a circus, either.

This last weekend, the show "Walking with the Dinosaurs" (life-size dino puppets with a human narrator/host) came to town. And it seemed that everyone was going...especially if their kids love dinos. I felt like a negligent parent by refusing to take mine.

Truthfully, there were a lot of other events in town scheduled for the same weekend, but since I knew I'd be busy with the dinner theater production (which I was directing), I pretty much ignored anything that conflicted with those dates. I felt guilty for not making more of an effort to get Leah and Ben there, even though they went to the dinner theater at our church with me both Friday & Saturday AND Leah went to a birthday party Saturday afternoon. Clearly they weren't sitting around bored.

ALSO, tickets were $25 or so at the cheapest.

IN ADDITION, my kids are wusses. Ben will beg and BEG to watch Aaron play Mario on Wii, or Guitar Hero, and then spend half the time hiding around the corner, watching from the other room. (In his defense, the Wii is set up on the projector screen, so the characters are practically bigger than he is.) Leah gets really emotionally involved and will cry out of sympathy for the characters, as she did when we watched Wall-E.

When the ad played in between PBS show, Ben asked about it. I said we weren't going because we were going to the dinner theater, and all he said was, "Oh." Easy enough! Leah said she'd like to see the show, "but only if our seats are way in the back!"

Knowing this about my kids, was I willing to gamble $75 on tickets? No. Because even if I DID have the time/opportunity, and they WEREN'T freaked, what are the chances that they wouldn't have nightmares?

Slim to none, my friends.

But that didn't stop the guilt. Inadvertently, from my dad, who called to say that, "Some friends of mine took their kids and they really enjoyed it." I was kindof bratty on the phone to him (sorry, Dad!) but at the time, the sarcastic voice in my head said,"Yep. I'm just trying to keep them from enjoyment. They will be scrubbing the floor while all other kids in town are busy being happy." But instead I pointed out how I was busy both evenings and Aaron was working. Dad volunteered to take them, and then I proceeded with my previous argument about $$$ and nightmares. I won.

And then Friday night the local news had a little feature piece about the show, and reported from online commenters how awesome it was. The anchor said something like, "One viewer said she took her three year old, and that they weren't a bit scared."

Well, great for you, lady. But for me, this is not a blanket issue. This is PURELY a case of knowing your kids well enough to judge what is best for THEM, not other people's kids.

Part of me wishes we had been able to go, or maybe that I had tried a bit harder to be able to get them there.

But then I saw that one of the opening scenes involved a newly-hatched baby being "eaten" by another adult dino...and that it ends with all the dinos dying...and I think Leah would be a little upset by that.

And maybe I'm okay with my decision. Isn't that one of the tougher things about being a parent? Saying NO to something you think your kid might enjoy in favor of their greater good?

Any help here, folks? Like, know of a little kid who WAS scared of the dinosaur show? Back me up here.

Have you ever nixed something fun (circus, fair, etc) because it just wasn't right for your family, although it MIGHT have been okay?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

That's one engagement broken, I believe.

During lunch today, I was reading the digest section of the newspaper - you know, that section where all the REALLY interesting/depressing occurrences are described in horrifying detail. It's soo conducive to digestion.

And today was no different. I came across a description of an incident, commented on it to Aaron - something to the extent of, "Wow. That was really rude and disgusting, and I'm not going to say anything more...because it's not something for kids to hear." Especially considering the status of potty-training in our house. "Also, if you are in a dispute, and someone starts making a 911 call, it's best not to interfere, since that is a separate charge." I know this from one of my THREE experiences with jury duty.

Which of course made Leah insanely curious. I told Aaron I'd tell him about it later, but he was very curious also, and asked if maybe there weren't some grown-up words I could use to describe it?

Ok, honey. Sure. I'll try.

Me: It involves ...excrement.
Aaron: Hopefully outside.
Me: No.
A: (puzzled look)
Me: It involves an engaged couple...
A: (more puzzlement)
Me: ...the gentleman (using the term loosely) was sitting on the...commode...and they were having a ...disagreement...about...finances...
Me: (seeing that Aaron is getting the picture but needing a few more details...) (motions to wiping my face, behind a magazine blocking Leah's line of vision)
A: Gross!

Yes. So it seems that an engaged couple were having a fight about money while the guy was on the toilet. He did the only LOGICAL thing, which was to reach behind him, grab some...excrement...and wipe it on his beloved's face. And then when her 12 yr old son tried to call 911 (wouldn't you love to be THAT dispatcher?) the guy interfered.

I think the wedding is off. Wonder what the cards announcing the situation will say? Elegant and minimalistic: "We realized that there are some unresolved issues we need to work on." Or simple and direct: "He wiped POOP on my FACE!" Maybe no formal announcement is necessary. You could just make a bunch of photocopies of the article, and write "US" in the margin. 'Nough said.

Do you remember the biggest "Why is this in the news?" story you've heard?

Hope your day is going better than that poor couple - and the lady's son!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Even more crazy than usual.

That's how I would describe this week. For me, at least. The kids have had life much as usual except for that Daddy is tucking them into bed instead of Mommy.

The play I'm directing at church goes public for the first time tonight when we perform for the youth group. Then Friday and Saturday evenings is the official event, the big youth group fundraiser, the annual dinner theater. Our church is not exactly designed for hosting a 3 course meal, silent auction, and full-length drama, so there are a lot of people and many, MANY volunteer hours involved with its success.

Our first rehearsal with a set was Monday night. And that went oh so well that the students begged for another rehearsal the next night. One terrified student said that if I couldn't come, they'd just have a "captain's practice". Not sure who was going to be the captain - but I was available. Of course, that also meant that I volunteered Aaron for yet another single-parenting night.

(Now, moms, I know that we all do "single-parenting" fairly often - I've had my share of solo nights. But I'm USED to it. Its always harder to do something that's out of the norm, and especially when that involves a 10 month old baby who still nurses before can understand Aaron's nervousness.)

Monday night I was gone from 6:15-9:15. Tuesday was a little easier for Daddy, since we didn't start until 7pm - I helped bathe the kids and put Adam to bed before heading out. Tonight I probably won't be home until around 9pm. Friday we will ALL be gone from 5-9ish, and Saturday will be the same for at least me - Aaron is working, and I'm trying to find someone to stay at home with the kids, so at least they get to bed at a normal time THAT night.

All these late nights mean that I've been in overdrive during the day. Washing dishes, tidying the kitchen, vacuuming the kitchen...these are all things I usually do after dinner. And I REALLY don't want to come home to that mess later on...I'd much rather crash on the couch and surf the Internet.

Plus, there's all the extra errands & appointments, like the first swimming lesson Monday afternoon (which went great! Ben got in the water, and even admitted to having fun!), renting a bunny costume, a Target run, etcetera, etcetera.

I haven't made it to the grocery store this week yet, and I have Leah's birthday invitations to print and mail this week...and a birthday party, and an art show, and possibly a visit from my grandpa...gah.

This is basically one long excuse for not posting more this week. But honestly, my priority is my family and my sanity. Hopefully next week things will be back to normal and I'll have all sorts of humorous and/or intelligent things to say. But tonight? I'm going to go cuddle with Aaron on the couch.

See you later!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Next year, it's monster trucks. Gah.

Four years is perfect for a dinosaur birthday party. Ben is interested in every dinos, and I get to hear him tell us that his favorite is the "dynosauraus rex".

This is the one and only time he wore the hat, although his father attempted to wear three in imitation of a triceratops!

These same boys (the girls are all big sisters who tagged along) were at Ben's Thomas the Train birthday party last year. LAST year, I had some games ready to play, but ditched all but one in favor of letting the boys just play with trains. THIS year, it was obvious that some of the boys are in preschool, and that all of them are a year older. They sat so nicely and listened to the directions, raised their hands for turns, and followed the rules. Even if they didn't really get the point of the game, they had fun and played nicely.
Moms, if you'd like a few minutes of peace & quiet (and let's face it, we ALL do), here's the game: Don't Wake the Dino (or whatever). One kid is the dinosaur, and they curl up on a towel (as the nest) with plastic eggs around them. The other kids try to steal an egg, one at a time, without the dinosaur hearing them and waking up. If they ARE caught, they are the next dino.
The hilarious thing about our version is that NONE of the dinosaurs woke up! And the egg-snatchers were stealthy, but not THAT stealthy. Next time, I may put a bell in each egg or something. As it was, it was basically one kid being really quiet and still, while the other kids were really quiet and stealing eggs. Definitely a low-energy game.

Instead of a cake this year, I put my dinosaur cookie cutters (and my mom) to work.

Aren't they adorable?

The big activity was excavating dinosaurs. Two nights before, Aaron was nice enough to mix up a big batch of plaster of paris for me. We filled large plastic cups & buried a plastic dino in each one. My mistake was not removing the plastic cup the next morning, because they still weren't totally dry when the kids cracked them open. By the way, are you in awe of our bravery? Seven little boys, all armed with hammers. And then the plaster started flying. Thanks to the dampness, it also stuck - to hair, jackets, pants, and our sidewalk. Oopsie.

But they had fun. After they mini-archaeologists found their fossils, they played some dino-tag (T-rex tries to catch the herbivores!) and then dug in the sandbox, hit some golf balls, or played on the swingset for awhile.
Goodie bags were genius this year: a bag of dino fruit snacks, a packet of Dinosaur Egg instant oatmeal, and a booklet of dino stickers.
After the official party, Grandpa & Grandma came over for lunch, and so did my cousin K, her hubs B, and the baby, little B. Little B and Adam are about 3 months apart in age, and we are predicting that they will become close buddies. Have you ever seen two babies more snarfle-able? Me neither.

So there it is. I obviously like low-key parties - there was no decorations, except a balloon bouquet. There was no craft, no project that took me all week to complete. I didn't even sweat over the cake for 2 hours the night before!
All in all, an awesome party.

What the most outrageous party element you've ever PERSONALLY witnessed?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Ben in Review

Four years in review, anyway. And I sure hope some of you enjoy these photos, since they've taken me 2 1/2 days to get uploaded & arranged properly. Gah!

Contractions started at 4pm on April 8th. After about 20 minutes, I couldn't walk across the room without doubling over. That should have been my first clue that they were "real" contractions, but no. I had to go check my birthing book and match the description. Silly me.

We got to the hospital, I got my lovely, perfect, wonderful epidural, the doctor broke my water AND THEN WENT HOME. He said that if he stayed, it would probably take me five hours. We called him back about an hour or so later, and actually had to wait for him to arrive for me to start pushing! After only 16 minutes, Benjamin Aaron sprang into the world at 9:08pm. He weighed 7 pounds, 12.9 ounces.

We have almost the exact photo from Leah's birth, but the other photo was taken after we were up all night and I'd been pushing for 5 hours. I love how awesome I look for Ben's first family photo!

Just before leaving the hospital as a family of four. Look at those two cute little buggers!

Just a few weeks old, and already so handsome.

These two still crack each other up! We are so blessed by their friendship.

Is this baby starting to look familiar? Everyone wonders who Adam looks like, but I think the boys have some resemblance!

On his first birthday, taking his first life-threatening steps on Grandpa's hearth!

About 18 months. I would like to point out those luscious curls, the bruised forehead, and the outfit that Adam has already worn. Also, that he is headed for the steps.

2nd birthday. Looks like he got beat up, but I'm pretty sure that's a casualty of being a two year old boy.

Two and a half. Multitasking. Thatta boy!

3rd birthday. Never saw a group of 3 year old boys so intent on the same thing - and not being destructive.

About 3 and a half. LOVING the bike. Finally figured out how to stop by pedaling backwards instead of just dragging a foot and then bailing.

My goofy four year old. He's an obstinant, debating, non-stop talking, constant-running, almost- totally-potty-trained bundle of energy. And although he may try to negotiate every single request from mommy & daddy ("Eat your dinner." "How many bites? One?") he is also the first to come and want to cuddle, sit on my lap, or request to be carried upstairs for bed. Kisses still make owies go away, and he looks to hold my hand whenever we are out shopping. He's my baby. And always will be, even when he's a big stinky teenager. Happy birthday, Ben-O.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

60 days to a new family!

Who invented this Google Reader thing? They owe me BIG time, for all the time I just lost - right after I get done saying THANK YOU for making it soo much easier for me to catch up on my blog reading. Which is essential to life, as you well know.

I have a few big things going coming up soon, and because I tend to double-book myself when things happen back-to-back like this, I'm going to write it all out here, and maybe that will help me make sense of it all.

April 8th - Ben turns FOUR! We are heading somewhere fun (his choosing, so McDonald's?) for lunch, and then having family over for cake and some birthday quiz.

10th - Ben's dinosaur birthday party at 9:30am! In the works is dinos in plaster of paris for the little guys to "excavate". Also, dino cookies to decorate and put on top of cupcakes. Enough sugar for ya?

Oh yeah, the 10th's not done. That evening is the yearly banquet for Leah's school, including both a silent & live auction. Each class put together a themed "basket" for the live auction, and ours contains $750 worth of scrapbooking/card-making materials, including a Cricut - the big one. I am so excited to see how much we can raise for the school!

12th - Swimming lessons start for Leah and Ben! Ben, of course, is refusing to look forward to them, but I addressed it briefly today and there was no outright rebellion, just a bit of crabbiness, so I'm getting hopeful.

16th & 17th - Dinner Theater at church - it's the youth group's major fundraiser of the year, and guess who they have directing that drama production? Um, me. For the second year. Who's crazier, them or me?! Regardless, I will have a LOT less on my mind after next weekend. Those kids better get their lines memorized, or I won't be responsible for what happens next.

24th - Ben's first soccer game! Whoo hooo! And I get to go to book club that evening. WHOO HOOO!

30th - MOMS Club showcase, where Mom and I are selling her jackets & my booties. We'll see how it goes.

May 3rd - Leah's 6th birthday! Lunch at a place of her choice - probably Chuck E. Cheese. Hope I remember to bring that cup of tokens from our last excursion...exactly a year ago.

6th - Yearly doctor visit for Leah & Ben. Not really a big deal, unless Ben is still pooping in his undies, and then maybe I'll be asking for a referral to a psychologist for him, and probably a psychiatrist for me. (For the record, Aaron thinks I'm overreacting. Who, ME?) By the way, I am proud of myself for not freaking out when he pooped in his pants today. He can do it for years, as long as he cleans it up himself. Which he is - even rinsing out the pants. At some point, he'll get tired of it. Eventually. Right?

8th - Leah's Ruff Ruffman birthday party. The invite list is at 21, including 4 older girls as helpers. This is her big shebang - she may not get another one like it until her Sweet 16, so I hope she enjoys it. I even emailed the show asking for a copyright release for Ruff's image. Geesh. What am I, some sort of suburban soccer helicopter mom?....Well? Am I?

27th - Leah's kindergarten graduation. How cute is that? I'll post photos, I promise.

Okay, so what's on your agenda for April/May? These months are classic for big events... I mean, maybe you don't have the humongous occaision of a kindergarten graduation, but maybe you have some other kind of something coming up?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Now all I need is the Farmer's Market...

I think it's officially spring. Of course, we could still get a blizzard, but I'm starting to think that's less and less likely. But not impossible.
Here's my evidence in favor of Spring:

* Aaron bought both the kids baseball mits & balls. Leah's is pink.
* I've signed the kids up for swimming lessons, soccer (Ben), tennis (Leah), and a couple of art classes (Leah)
* Adam has had his first taste of pea gravel from the swingset - by his own hand, NOT falling.
* I broke out the flip-flops. Who cares if my feet are a bit chilly! Socks feel confining.
* Aaron has started lawn care - raking the front yard.
* Also, he's getting to the root of why our yard takes longer to turn green than the neighbors' does.
* Next project: Building garden beds! Too bad we decided not to use the treated timbers Aaron bought extra of last summer, in order to avoid getting cancer.
* The Easter bunny DID make it to our house, in the form of Auntie Korina. She brought sand shovels & pails for the kids, artwork for the mom & dad, and candy for everyone!

* First family bike ride of the year! Adam rode in the trailer like a little man. Grandpa's head was too big for my helmet, so he took a risk. Kids, wear your helmets!

* My mom was back to work making an Easter dress for Leah. She loooved it.

* I'm starting to think the kids need baths more than 3 times a week.

* Washing hands before eating is now mandatory, not an afterthought. (Bad mommy!)

* The kids smell like fresh air.

* Ben has finally stopped asking if he needs to wear a hat & mittens before heading out.

* The thought of switching Adam to a new carseat isn't quite so terrifying. But I'm holding onto that infant seat for his naps at playgroup & church. Thank goodness for minivans!

* Check it out! All of us in our Easter duds, and nobody's freezing!

Hope you are all enjoying it also!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Archeological dig.

This afternoon, Aaron continued working on replacing the basement's ceiling tiles. But first, he primed, and then painted white, the metal frames that the tiles sit in. Finally, a few of the new white tiles were put in to see the effect, and it looks awesome, people! The final touch will be cleaning the light fixtures. Then we get to pick a new paint color for the paneled walls (currently painted puke-pink beige) and then decide what to do with the floor (anticipate water damage at some point or go for the full carpet with padding?)

And believe it or not, I actually helped. Aaron insisted that I finally do something with all the junk that has been gathering in the basement. Which of course meant that I had to start by shuffling some things in my craft room...

...which lead to going through a file of memorabilia...and finally finding the lock of hair from Ben's first haircut!.....and lots of other cards & birthday quizzes.

...which lead to messing around with the kids' "baby" boxes. And THAT required digging out Leah's coming-home-from-the-hospital outfit to include in her box...and of course I had to get sappy about how teeny it is, and how she swam in it! Those three boxes, plus one of wedding trinkets, are destined for shelves in our closet.

Here are some other things I came across in the excavation process:

- a yoga mat, used once. We decided to keep it, as a pad for camping or something. I don't know. It'll come in handy sometime.
- four of my old 4-H trophies. Against advice from someone, I decided to keep them. What if someday I want to make a trophy for a game for the kids? Or they are needed for a theater production? Come on. You can't get rid of a little collection of iconic trophies - besides, they are the only ones I ever earned. I'm NOT getting rid of them.
- an entire set of stoneware dishes, waiting to be sold on Craigslist
- Six boxes containing all of my teaching materials. Someone said that if I'm not using it, I should get rid of it. But again, I'm NOT getting rid of that stuff. I know that when I finally get back to the classroom, I'll probably have to relearn a ton, and every district uses different programs to teach writing and grammar. But those boxes hold all of my reminders of what I USED to do. Looking through it all, even though I may not remember how to use it, makes me remember the me that DID.
- Two boxes of Aaron's college textbooks. TWO. Yes, he brought that up several times.
- Two boxes of a combination of Christian books & materials and theater books. Yeah. Not sure how that happened, but I separated those topics into one box of each.
- At least five Bibles. Those got put upstairs, so that when we host Bible study again, we won't be embarrassed by the lack of them.
- At least five anthologies from undergrad. Those are being donated - not sure exactly who's going to want them (English Lit, parts 1 & 2, American Lit, parts 1 & 2, African-Am lit, etc...) but they'll be at the Boys' Ranch soon! Couldn't part with my Mythology & Drama anthols, though. Maybe in another 10 years.
- Another pillow form, used to fill out that box of anthologies.
- A collection of figurines that Mom gave me over a few years. Hoping to display them in Leah's room someday.

Now pretty much all that's left is the huge pile of empty boxes, and stuff to sell at a garage sale this summer. Oh, and a few cases of audiotapes, and a bunch of empty picture frames, and a kids' easel, and a ping-pong table...

What's hiding in YOUR basement (or other storage area)? What remnants of a past life are you unwilling to part with? Am I the only one with trophies taking up space?