Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

well, i debated as to whether or not to have a tip this tuesday. but the one i thought of seemed fitting, so here it is:
know when to not bother posting.

really, this works with all sorts of things. you can have wonderful ideas and clever schemes, but sometimes, even time-saving methods are not as productive. i'm a big lover of schedules and lists, but i've learned that spontaneity (shudder) and flexibility are just as valuable. for example, when i decided i would post Tuesday's Tips, i was determined to do it every tuesday. even the tuesday before christmas when no one is bothering to read anyone's blogs. then, i thought about it, and i realized that doing so would be counter-productive. anyone with a blog knows that they get quite neglected over the holidays. mine sure does. so much so that my husband, after reading my last few ignored posts, decided to leave a comment - only he did it in my name since he doesn't have an account, making it look as though i was commenting on my own blog in an effort to make it seem read by someone. it made me laugh.

enjoy your christmas... and throw caution to the wind.
i'll try.

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 days and counting

watching our christmas chain wane this year has almost been surreal... i realize that the busier one is (or feels), the faster far-off dates seem to approach. but, 4 days! wow...

the amazing two feet of snow we got over the weekend has really added a fun and atypical feel to our christmas this year. while we've always dreamt of a white christmas, our maryland reality has usually been a 50 degree christmas. so the added thrill of snow to our already excited week-before christmas house has brought it all to a new level. the kids and chuck are home today which means they now have only 2 days of school this week - great for them... but if these kids don't get out of the house, i'm never gonna get their presents wrapped! usually, we do it in the evenings once they're in bed, but they've been staying up later since they haven't had to get up early in the mornings and i've been exhausted by bedtime! in the past, i've had all the presents under the tree by now... oh well. the slow addition of gifts day by day seems to add to their excitement and anticipation. (yes, my kids' presents show up under the tree before christmas morning...)

my shopping is done... with the exception of a few gifts for my side of the family with whom we are not celebrating til january 9th (so i have time). i know there are a few odds and ends i still need to pick up before friday, but it always feels like there is something else that could be done. cookies are made; i even remembered the loaves of breakfast bread in the freezer that i wanted to use for the holidays.

on friday night, the kids and i waited outside for our local fire company to drive by with santa. we weren't exactly sure what time they were coming, and since they don't drive all the way up our hill, we had to walk to the corner to make sure we didn't miss it. it was cold. pre-snow cold. and right about the time we decided to give up and go back inside we heard the sirens approaching. i'm not sure what was more exciting - the fire truck on our street or the candy canes, but they enjoyed the fun of it all. tonight, we're taking our annual trip to the mall - for no other reason than to experience the mall at christmas. we never have any real shopping to do, but my family has been doing that since we were kids, and it's a fun way to see each other and hang out.

the further possibility of snow on christmas day adds another bit of excitement but it also leaves us with the possibility that we'll be home-bound for the first time. depending on how bad the weather is, we may not be braving the 4 hour drive through the mountains to be with family that day. not sure what that will be like. different. very different.

i feel abnormally laid-back about everything this year. oh, i'm excited, but i don't feel uptight - and, unfortunately, that word has described me all too often in the past. the fact that i tend to gradually prepare for big events, helps... but i've been thinking a lot about my christmas last year. and, after everything i went through last year at christmas, doing all this on two able-bodied feet seems to be no big deal. i'm not saying a broken ankle is a major health issue... and my ultimate lesson in that instance was that an injury is nowhere near as devastating as poor health, and for that, i'm grateful.

every year, i try to see past the fun stuff of christmas (which i don't downplay or dread - it's FUN!) to learn a lesson. and, something i've thought a lot about this advent season is that my joy is not dependent on my circumstances or on the people in my life. it's dependent on me and my choice. and, today, i choose joy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

peace, please. just peace.

technically, this is not an orginal post - and if you've followed me since my xanga days, you may recognize it. but i was feeling contemplative, and this still sums it up...
i've been thinking about christmas...and how everyone kinda places some magical value on the holiday - not in a cheesy, commercial way - but in the honest-to-goodness-christmas-is-an-amazing-time-of-year kinda way. and i've decided that people think more about....everything...at christmas-time. pleasures are more joyous and pain is more devastating during the holidays...for whatever reason. so, i'm guessing it's for that same "magical" reason that people think more about "peace on earth, goodwill toward men." i mean, ultimately, that's something we want all the time, right? and yet...our material christmas lists seem petty and immature compared to others' lofty requests for peace on earth, so much so that we feel almost guilty for saying what we really want on christmas morning. i'm not gonna lie,...this has always annoyed me. for better or for worse, christmas has become a time when we give gifts, and i enjoy that. i think we can have both - i do. so, this year, i've thought a lot about peace on earth...and how the whole concept is just too big to get my head around and, so consequently, i give up and get annoyed. i mean, yes, ultimately, peace is from God and our prayer for world peace is one we give to Him. but, then it occurred to me, that having or contributing to peace on earth doesn't mean i'm responsible for solving each world crisis one by one. for me, peace on earth means peace in my house...peace with my family...peace in my sphere of influence. so, this year, that's my christmas wish - something that i can really grab hold of and work towards. what an amazing gift to give eachother - to let go of each and every grievance and disagreement...and just have peace. and not just to be put down and then picked back up after the holidays - but to really let it go; to remember that our love for eachother and for righteousness is so much more important than the pain we may experience at the hands of those around us. simply, that is what peace is. and yes, it comes from Jesus, but more importantly, it comes when we let Jesus work through us.

so that's it. that's my christmas wish. all i really want is peace.
and a GPS.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

what i read

home-christmas.jpg i know that there are bad books out there... but i'm getting annoyed at how frequently i seem to be reading them. generally speaking, i find that an author who is listed as "bestselling" will be worth reading... on some level. not so in this case. in fact, i decided that if this particular author is a bestselling author, that holds out a lot of hope for anyone who wishes to be the same. and that, my friends, is about the only good thing i have to say about this particular reading experience.

the story is simple... kinda. a 20-something girl on her way back to her childhood home for christmas discovers a man in the middle of the road dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier. the man claims to be from that era, somehow lost in time. after much doubt and confusion, the girl and her family decide to try to get the guy back to his time. of course, in the meantime, they discover that their home just happens to be his childhood home. and then, coincidentally, they discover secret diaries that belonged to his sister in the attic (even though they'd lived in the house for 30 plus years. good grief). on top of that, the father (a mad scientist-type) and the mother (a hippy, anything's possible Catholic Wiccan - what the heck???) join forces to come up with a potion and radio frequency that will transport the lost soldier back to 1776.

the ridiculous story would have possibly been more palatable had the writing not been so trite and cliched. about a quarter of the way through, i knew i did not like the book but refused to stop reading simply for curiousity's sake - i wanted to see how much more ridiculous it could get. the snow storm of rose petals at the end sealed the deal.

i thought christmas fiction would be a nice "feel-good" addition to the holiday season. i'm not doing trying, but i really hope my next pick is better!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

this is one of my favorite tips for this time of year, and i'm pleased to say that i came up with it all by myself.

nothing says winter like static cling. and nothing says static cling like little girls' hair (or little boys if you don't buzz 'em short like i do). when my girls were toddlers, i couldn't figure out what to do about their crazy fly-away hair in the winter. so i started carrying dryer sheets.

let me explain.

here is lucy, with a not-so-horrible case of static cling hair.
as you can see, a quick rub of the dryer sheet all over her head, and the static is gone. i actually keep them in my winter coat pocket and i've started putting them in my girls' coat pockets, too. they even come in handy when you've got static issues with pants or skirts and slips (or am i the only one out there who still wears a slip?)

many thanks to my little model. she may have a calling... what do you think?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

what i read

laugh all you want, but i am that person who actually reads books on how to properly raise a dog.
cesar millan is also known as "the dog whisperer" and can be seen on the National Geographic Channel on friday nights (or every day at 2:00 pm). i had seen enough of his show to know that he was the one i wanted to emulate with our next pet. chuck and i have had several pets, but i really wanted to know as much as i could this time around. and, honestly, this is just me. i love to research... anything. if it's something i'm interested in, i will read and research til i feel properly educated. so, having a new puppy, it made sense that i'd try to find a good book on getting her started on the right foot... or paw.

this book is a fantastic one to read when you are ready to introduce a puppy to your family. his techniques may not seem to be what most people would want to do with their pet, but cesar's approach is to not treat your dog like a human member of the family (which is what most people tend to do) but rather a pack member with you as the pack leader.

just as with raising children, raising dogs is all about consistency. we've now had Parsley for one month, and i have to admit that there were days when i though, "oh my word, what have i gotten myself into. this dog is crazy." but, now, four weeks later, i am happy to report that, no, she's not crazy. she's a puppy! and with very consistent and (usually) patient instruction, she is really making great progress. she is completely crate trained (meaning she will not pee or poop when she's in her crate) and she uses the pee pads with some accuracy while penned in the kitchen. she's even starting to master he walk on the leash with minimal tension (and this is a big deal...). i'm really proud of her and of our progress.

the kids are doing exceptionally well, too. i've been able to instruct them with what i've learned, and they are all doing a great job becoming mini-pack leaders. each of them can say "no" or hold their hand out and she will respond by sitting or stopping most of the time.
thank God for resources like this book!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

happy birthday, tucker!

i can hardly believe my little boy is 4 today. to some degree, i say that every time my kids have a birthday. but watching your youngest grow so fast is a bit unsettling.

lately, i find that he’s correcting me when i talk to him as if he’s “little.” and sometimes he’s the one teaching me the grown-up lessons.

like last week... he and i were on a quick shopping excursion to target to hit up some extra-appealing christmas deals. he was relatively patient while i searched for the right gifts (and then tried to hide them so he wouldn’t see them...) i promised him a snack if he was cooperative while i shopped, and he obliged; so we stopped at the target cafe on our way out. cookie for tucker. pretzel for me. as he sat and took tucker-sized nibbles from his giant cookie, all i could think about was how much i had to do that day... and how eager i was to get home and do it. my pretzel was gone in an embarrassingly short amount of time, but he was not even a quarter of a way through that cookie. i tried to encourage him to eat faster. i suggested he take it home with him. finally, i asked, “are you done yet?” to which my not-quite four year old son answered, “mommy, it’s not a race.”



it’s not a race.

about the same time, i noticed an elderly woman in a wheelchair nearby, waiting for her freshly ordered starbucks drink. i thought about the life she may have lived... children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. i bet she thought they’d never get out of diapers, never stop fighting, never pick up their dirty clothes, never finish their dinner. and then, suddenly,...

it’s not a race.

maybe if i slowed down a bit, it wouldn’t seem to go by so fast.


happy birthday, tucker...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

you'd think that with christmas coming, i'd have some kind of festive, yuletide tip. but, no.
rotting bananas. that's all i got...
i don't know about your family, but i seem to have a hard time figuring out who's gonna eat what when. one week, we don't seem to use up more than two loaves of bread. the next week, we've finished three in four days time. same thing with bananas. one day everyone wants one... the next day, i couldn't pay them to eat a banana. and this is what happens. i catch a glimpse of my fruit basket out of the corner of my eye and see this:
oh well... i guess i could just throw them out. but i don't. i don't feel as bad for misjudging the week's need for bananas if i can come up with some kind of use for the poor spotted, shriveled things.

so, instead of tossing them, i remove the peels and place the mushy bananas in a resealable freezer bag, labeling the bag with how many bananas are in it. then i put the bag in the freezer until i'm making something that requires bananas.... banana bread, banana muffins, banana pancakes,... smoothies. because it seems that whenever i have the desire to make one of those things, i don't have enough ripe bananas on hand. not anymore... i've got a few bags in the freezer right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

admittedly, this is not the most exciting of tips, but i'm hoping it's a bit more intriguing than sink cleaning.

if you have children, you've probably at some point made the decision to not tell your child of an upcoming event because you know that all you'll here from then til the "big day" is, "how many more days til ______?" that is why we use chains!

the idea came from my teaching years. i don't know of any teacher who hasn't used a construction-paper chain for something. it's a classic classroom christmas decoration, but i loved using them as countdowns, removing a link each day as we anticipated a big event (usually a break or summer vacation!). my kids now love them for the same reason.

this is tucker's birthday chain.
i usually make the chain about two weeks before the event (although christmas's chain goes up a bit earlier). each morning, the child wakes up and takes off a link - watching his chain get smaller and smaller as his birthday nears. this helps to cut out the inevitable, tireless barrage of questions: "how many days til my birthday?" it's also a great visual reminder for the rest of us that something is coming.

with four children and annual events like christmas, first day of school, last day of school, vacations, etc, these chains come in handy all year long. we're hoping to make our christmas chain tonight!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

what i read

well, i guess cleaning sinks doesn't thrill everyone else as much as it does me. better luck next week.

since i've been posting what i'm reading, i thought i'd try to give a quick review of what i've read. i just finished Cecilia Ahern's There's No Place Like Here.


i had read PS I Love You and really liked it (and not just because i loved, loved, loved the movie), so i thought i'd give another book by her a try. i did not love it. in fact, i'm not really sure i liked it. but you know that feeling when you're reading a book you don't want to put down and you eagerly wait for all your work to be done and the kids to be in bed so you can go read that book? yeah, well, i wasn't feeling it. in fact, i was feeling something more like, "i gotta finish this book so i can move on with my life." i know, i know, i'm allowed to not finish but i refuse. because sometimes books like this surprise you and then you're glad you stuck with it. i kept waiting for it to get good... but it was just too far-fetched for me.

i'm not a big fan of fantasy... and i think she was trying to combine contemporary chick-lit fiction with fantasy. the protagonist, Sandy Shortt, has an obsession with finding lost things and somehow ends up in this alternate universe where all the lost things go. i guess that sounds interesting, but there were too many loose ends left "undone" by the end. and i really never felt like the main character learned or grew through the challenge of the story.

oh well. i think i'd still like to read another of Ahern's books... just to give her a chance to redeem herself. if any of you have read her stuff, do you have suggestions?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

i like a clean sink. i'm not neurotic about it, but i will not leave bits of food and gunk in my sink. not to mention, the dirtier you leave a sink, the harder it is to clean when you "finally get around to it..."

today's tip is one i've developed over a few years of finding the most effective (and easiest) way to keep my kitchen sink clean.

here is my sink "before." not that bad... but it can look better.

here's what i use: vinegar, baking soda, and boiling water. these are things most of us have on hand, but they are also a more natural way to clean . i don't exclusively clean with all natural products, but i try to use them when i can.
start by dumping a good amount of baking soda in your drain (both, if you have a double sink). i probably use about 1/4 of a box. use your fingers to work the baking soda into the drain, then pour a good amount of vinegar down each drain (maybe a cup or two). quickly place the stoppers back in the drain - this allows the vinegar and baking soda to react and clean out the pipes. both ingredients also work to remove odors (and i hate any kind of odd odor - especially in my kitchen. multiple pregnancies seem to have left me with an incredibly acute sense of smell. it totally annoys my husband).
after the vinegar/baking soda combination has had a few minutes to sit, remove one stopper at a time and pour boiling water down each drain (placing the stopper back in the drain). i usually pour the water down my lesser used sink drain first and quickly stop it while i open the other drain. the second sink will sometimes appear to be clogged but really it's just a combination of the "stuff" working and the slight vacuum that's created from stopping up the other drain. this picture isn't so helpful, but you get the idea.
now that the drains are clean, it's time to scrub the sink. again, i choose more natural cleaners, but that is really up to you. here are two that i like and use often - from Shaklee and Melaleuca.
both companies make great non-toxic cleaning products as well as health and personal care items. and their stuff is super concentrated so you don't need much. that bottle on the left i have had for 2 years now... and i use it often.

this time, i used a bit of shaklee's Basic H concentrated cleaner. and i mean a bit. a couple drops in each sink...

add more hot water to fill the sink just an inch or two.
use your sink scrubber (doesn't everyone have one of those???) to scrub the sides and bottom of the sink while it is filled. i like to use a cloth to wipe down the counters while the sink is filled with hot, soapy water. you can even spot-clean your floors (with a separate cloth). remove the stoppers and scrub the drain and the stoppers well.
the result is a clean sink in less than 10 minutes!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

in an effort to be a bit more purposeful with my blogging, i'm trying out a theme on certain days. for now, i'm starting with tuesday's tip. over the years, i've stumbled upon and, consequently, accumulated a number of helpful household tidbits that i think are share-worthy. hope you find them helpful, too!

so, for today...
i finally have a set of matching glasses. this may not seem like a big deal, but when you start out small (with mismatched furniture and kitchenware), eventually having an actual "set" of anything is an accomplishment. i was happy to get rid of my hodgepodge collection of McDonald's and Burger King "collectors items" as well as random dollar store plastic tumblers. i like drinking out of glass.

the only problem with having a set of glasses is that when you have company, everyone's glass looks the same. this is great when you're setting your table. but what about after dinner when the table is clear and everyone wants to hold on to their drink? well, today's tip is totally credited to my ingenious husband. he has so many good ideas, and this one is one that we use over and over.

he grabbed the handful of those various colored rubber bracelets that had been collecting in our daughters' dress up drawer. you know,... they started out as only yellow - but now every cause has its own color and matching bracelet. it turns out they are perfect for marking drinking glasses. they are stretchy and, because they are rubber, won't slip off. we liked the idea so much that we officially commandeered the girls' bracelets and now keep them in a kitchen drawer for this very purpose.
if you don't have these rubber bracelets (or little girls who collect them), they are not too hard to come by. i'm not sure where exactly to buy them. around here, they just pop up like odd socks. however, if you do have little girls who have an "eclectic" collection of jewelry, try using their little elastic beaded bracelets. they especially work well on glasses that have a any kind of ridge or lip along the bottom. you could even break out the crafty bead set that their well-meaning family member gave them for their birthday that you stuffed onto the top shelf of their closet hoping they'd forget about it so you'd never have to endure the chaos of tiny hands trying to coordinate threading a 3 mm bead onto a piece of elastic all the while dropping them all over your floor and losing them in places like under the refrigerator and dining room table only for you to go skidding to your demise when you step on the forgotten pieces later that same day. well, i digress. clearly.

still, you should try it. it works :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

a new era

well, this has been a long time coming.

i love dogs. i mean, i really love dogs. when we took our youth group on a missions trip to mexico, we made a border stop at walmart to stock up on gifts for the local children. the group bought crayons and candy. i bought dog biscuits for all the strays i had heard would abound.

early in our marriage i stressed chuck out every time we took a walk and i’d stop to talk to the neighborhood dogs. he was sure i’d get mauled.

suffice it to say, our 11 years of marriage has involved lots of pet-related debates, as well as on and off pet ownership. this time, it’s the real thing.

because, this time, i got MY dog.

i had been thinking about what i wanted. and what chuck did NOT like about dogs. he can’t stand the hair. and the poop. i told him there was not a bald, constipated dog breed out there. and if there was, we wouldn’t want it. but i know from childhood experience that there are small non-shedding dogs. (small dogs make small poop). so, a few months ago, i told chuck i had been thinking. and he totally surprised me by saying that he had been thinking, too.

so, i moved forward with the necessary research... knowing exactly what i wanted. and then, he shocked me even more by saying, “katie, you always loved that your parents actually bred dogs when you were a kid. why don’t you do that?” so, i did some more thinking. and some more research. (i like to research).

this week, we agreed that the time was right. i found the right dog... at the right place... for the right cost. and today, i made the drive with a wad of cash in my purse.

we joked about the fact that i was negotiating with a man whose last name was “stoltzfus” in lancaster county who had a distinctly pennsylvania dutch-sounding accent. but, i know from experience that not everyone named stoltzfus in lancaster is amish, thank you very much (i can just hear them now...) not to mention, what amish dog breeder is going to be advertising on the internet and taking phone calls.

well, i’ll tell you who - because i found him. tucker and i drove an hour north on winding country roads only to arrive at a farm. a farm that also had a one-room school house on its property. a farm with no electrical lines running to its house. and a buggy in it’s driveway. after a few minutes in the driveway, an amish woman about my age came out and told me that amos would be in from the fields in a few minutes. man, i can not tell you how much i wished i had brought my camera... except that, yes, i know that cameras are a no-no with the amish... but, come on. the irony.

so, after a few minutes, amos did indeed come along with a wiggly parcel wrapped in his coat. we chatted, i handed over the cash, he handed over the pup... and tucker and i made the hour long drive home... dodging buggies as we went.

the puppy is adorable, of course, but definitely smelled like an amish, farm puppy. the first thing we did when we got home was give her a bath. pictures and details will follow... but first, i’m waiting for my kids to come home from school and meet their surprise. they have no idea!

i’m still not exactly sure how the amish are on the internet...

Monday, November 9, 2009

stuck between a blog and a hard place

i haven't been posting a lot lately.
it's not for lack of ideas. or things to say. i have lots of them. let's face it, i'm full of them. however, i'm stuck.

writing has always been my outlet. those who have known me the longest can attest to this. my hidden stash of spiral notebooks and bound journals can also attest to this. and while i was never particularly secretive about this hobby, i have always been rather selective about whom i would allow to read my "stuff."

somewhere in the last 5 years, technology forced out my handwritten journals and introduced me to the wonderful world of blogging. and i liked it. somedays it let me tell funny stories about my kids. other times it served as my outlet for the day's frustrations. then, on very rare occasions, it became my virtual soapbox. when i began, i blogged to a very small community of bloggers - fellow moms, mostly sahms, who could feel my pain - or, at least, laugh at it.

then came facebook. facebook has linked me to everyone, everywhere, all at once. and i like it. for someone who strives for efficiency at all costs, it has consolidated all my efforts to make contact and keep in touch with people from my past and present and has even allowed me to make new friendships. it's an amazing thing. but now i'm stuck.

being connected with everyone everywhere means that my "audience" is not what it used to be. and you know what i mean. say it on facebook and it's out there. for good. and anyone who didn't see it will be told by everyone who did. sometimes this helps to keep us informed. however (and this is more often the case) it can also contribute to the ever growing cyber-rumor mill. even admitting that pushes me precariously to the very edge of my non-confrontational comfort zone. and THAT is my problem.

i am a people pleaser. i like people to be happy - happy, in general, yes, but happy with me would also be fantastic. this doesn't work so well in a social network as accommodating as facebook. i've seen seemingly innocent status messages spark 100 comment-long debates. others complain to no end about other's "stupid application notices." i find myself wanting to send people messages telling them how to "hide" the things that bother them, simply because the tension becomes too much. i know, i know,... i sound like a pansy. maybe i am.

unfortunately, though, this has transferred itself to my blogging. throughout my day i think of things i'd like to write about... but then i also think about the gauntlet any such blog must run once it's out there. and suddenly, the way i handled my 5 year old at breakfast this morning is being read by other moms, yes,... but it's also being read by far away family friends and church leadership and random teenagers as well as the child's aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. i realize that none of that changes what did or did not take place at the breakfast table, but it does give one the feeling of having placed one's self under the microscope.

ok, so, yes, that's what blogging is. and, no, i don't have to make my blog accessible to everyone. but then that opens up even more controversy. let's say my blog is only read by other moms. let's even limit it to sahms. the amount of judgment and criticism (albeit, innocent and well-intentioned) within that audience is enough to induce a bout of writer's block. oh, i still know what i want to write about. but i have a hard time figuring out exactly how to word it.

consider these possible topics:

we debated over whether our 8 year old son should read this well-known series...
what??? you let your child read that?
what's to debate? just be glad he's reading.

the kids have been sick. we went to the chiropractor...
are you kidding? a chiropractor?

so, then we had our flu shots...
flu shots?? are you crazy?

the kids picked out really cute costumes for halloween.
halloween, huh? we'd never let our kids do that...

but we took them to church for a halloween-alternative party...
halloween alternative? why do you need an alternative to dressing up and getting candy?

i'm tired of fighting with my 5 year old about what she wears to school...
children need to express themselves without restrictions.
fighting? with a five year old? my children know better than to argue with their authority figures.

no, as a matter of fact, our kids don't play any sports or take any classes.
what do they do, then? they need time for themselves and to be involved in competitive activities...

last sunday, i took my daughter to a birthday party...
a birthday party? on a sunday? hmm...

so, i am thinking about doing "X" but i need to see what my husband says...
what your husband says? you're a grown woman!
should you really be doing anything else? your family is your priority.

i could go on. and honestly,... none of these things are meant to target any one specifically (although i've gone back over this a few times, nervously wondering if i've worded it right or if anyone will find this post offensive... seriously, it's an illness) i've come to the conclusion, however, that many of us have the same thoughts. the rest of you just don't dwell on it for unhealthy amounts of time. i mean, we can call it "social networking" but aren't we making ourselves very vulnerable when we put all manner of opinions and thoughts and feelings "out there" to not only be read by the 20 people we talk to on a regular basis but also the boy we went to kindergarten with and mom's work friends and cousin Ann's boyfriend and the church secretary and... you see my point.

of course, all this only means something if you actually care what people think. and i can hear that now... "why do you care so much???"
well, i don't know.
but i do.
and i don't think that's bad.
but i think i need to learn to be able to write without fear.
and share even when it might challenge what someone else thinks.

but first, i may need a stiff drink.
what? you drink???

see what i mean?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

happy birthday, chloe girl

maybe this is 3 days overdue... but i didn't want to miss a chance to say happy birthday to my girl. chloe turned 7 on sunday.

what a young lady she is becoming. she is our peacemaker, our stability, our extra set of hands. she makes her momma proud when her dry wit puts her daddy in his place, and yet she is incredibly compassionate and nurturing.

even though her sister's injury stole the show on sunday, chloe didn't mind. she's always been one to fly under the radar and not draw much attention. for the most part this is a good thing... although those types can be more challenging to discipline as their issues are more "subtle."

a perfect example of who chloe is can be seen in how she received one of her birthday gifts. our children are rewarded monthly for good behavior in school (assuming they have had no discipline issues in the classroom that particular month). last month, patrick told me he wanted to use his october money to buy a birthday gift for chloe. i thought this was very thoughtful of him... even if his idea of the "perfect gift" for his sister was a star wars figure. so, i took him shopping the day before her birthday and he searched high and low for a "girl" figure - sadly, they are hard to come by, so he settled for some jawas. he insisted it's what she would want.

and she was really very excited as she opened that gift - because she knew he was excited to give it to her. she enthusiastically responded to the somewhat unorthodox gift and spent some time examining them and checking out their cool gear.

what patrick doesn't understand, of course, is that, while chloe does play star wars with him, she really doesn't care all that much about having star wars toys of her own. because what she really values is playing with him. having arrived only a short 13 months after her brother, chloe has always followed very closely after him in everything. she rarely challenges his leadership or preferences. when we suggest that patrick play something she likes, he says, "but she likes to play with my stuff!" and, at that moment, chloe usually has a little smile on her face that says, "it's ok... i don't mind."

don't get me wrong. there are moments when she puts her foot down and throws out a little drama...
and there are also moments when we tell patrick to go play polly pockets with his sister (just because...) - and he shrugs his shoulders, picks up a little blond toy, pretends she's ahsoka or qui-gon jinn, and moves on with life.

i love her...

Monday, November 2, 2009

here we go again...

yesterday was chloe's 7th birthday. however, in true chloe-fashion, she gave up the spotlight for another family member. yes, we celebrated. there was dessert and presents. but most of the attention went to lucy... and her chin.
on saturday night, after returning from our church costume party, we were eager to get the kids showered and put to bed. chloe and lucy were the last to get cleaned up and were supposed to be drying off when i heard some commotion. it sounded like laughing but quickly turned into crying. further investigation led me to chloe comforting a rather distraught lucy. chloe said, "i told her to stop fooling around, but she fell and hurt her mouth." apparently, she had slipped and landed on the tub floor. her mouth was fine, but her chin had not fared so well. the one inch gash was gaping open. not pretty. so... chuck got her dried off and dressed as i began the ordeal of calling and waiting on hold for our insurance to give the approval for the few stitches she would need at Patient First. we taped her wound closed, and lucy and i got back into the car to go out.

thankfully, the approval came, and Patient First was not busy. we were in and out in less than a half an hour. the more interesting details are better told by lucy, so you'll have to wait for her next video installment. for now, a close-up will have to do...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

it's the little things...

those of you who have followed me for a while, heard about the evolution of my kitchen. chuck spent nearly two years updating our kitchen, and i love it. even though it was "done" there were still a few finishing touches it lacked - mainly hardware and a curtain. recently, we added those finishing touches and i'm so pleased with the result.

here is the "original" finished kitchen...

and, now, here is my current kitchen... complete with a few changes.

there is no denying it. chuck does some good work. i am so pleased every time i walk into that room. ironically, when he's in the kitchen, all he sees is the ceiling - the only thing left to "do."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

tucker's current state of affairs

aside from the last update, i feel as though my blog makes it look like i only have one child. i mean, really, do i even have 2 daughters? i'm very happy to care for any of my children in need of my attention, but lately, my life seems to revolve around a certain 3 year old. he's needed it. for now, though, i think he needs a break. i need a break. anyone who gets undivided attention for over 2 weeks is bound to have issues.

yesterday, i took tucker to his 2 week post-op appointment with the surgeon who performed his tonsillectomy. the good news is that his throat is healing right on schedule and tucker is free to return to his normal activities and menu. the not so good news is that our sleepless nights may not end any time soon. ever since his surgery, tucker has woken up screaming several times a night. yes, we adjusted medication. we've tried everything. the doctor informed me that the nighttime problem should be resolved in about six weeks. SIX weeks. SIX WEEKS? what the heck? i don't really know why he's having such a hard time... but apparently this is normal (?) following this procedure. great. last night i was up with him 4 times before he went more than an hour without screaming. and he's not even awake. how do you reason with a sleeping, screaming three year old? oh well...

as a way to celebrate his clean bill of health, we decided to let tucker decide what we'd eat for dinner last night. not surprisingly, he opted for mcdonalds (and, consequently got his mother out of cooking dinner, bless his heart). he was so excited for that burger and fries... til the first bite hit his throat. his eyes popped open and he grabbed his neck. "it hurts my throat!" he cried. chuck and i just looked at each other thinking, "huh,... maybe he isn't always making it up..." before we could swap his happy meal for soft serve, however, he was back in his seat taking deep breaths and saying, "i can eat this..." and he did. despite whatever discomfort it caused, he sat there and got every last bite down. either way, it was encouraging. it was good to see him eat, because the last few weeks has made our little boy even tinier than usual. it was also encouraging to discover that, although some foods may not feel great going down, he can eat them. so, the next time he comes to my dinner table, takes one look at my dinner, and dramatically whispers (after having gobbled up a bag of goldfish crackers) "i can't eat that. it hurts my throat..." i'll know he's full of bunk.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

patrick's journey continues

last sunday, chuck and i had the pleasure of watching our oldest child be baptized. the whole thing was supposed to happen over a month ago, but it was postponed several times. our church performs baptisms every so often... as the need arises, so to speak... and because we don't have a baptismal, they perform them at a local creek. it's a fun kinda authentic way to do it,... except when copious amounts of rain flood both said creek and its bank causing the warm august baptism to actually take place at the chilly end of september... in a swimming pool. ah well, either way, it works, you know?

as children's pastors, chuck and i had talked with the kids at church about what baptism means and whether or not they were "ready." several decided they wanted to be baptized,... but by the time it actually took place, patrick was the only kid standing amidst all the adults. (the numerous schedule changes threw a few off, i think).

being the only child present, he opted to go first, but decided that keeping to the ladder was his best option. man, i love that boy. safety first.

i am really proud of his decision... and glad that he asked lots of questions first and then followed through despite what everyone else did. i look forward to watching him continue on this journey...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

tucker and the tonsils...

i document. it's what i do. chuck makes fun of me for recording our family events rather than actually experiencing them. in the case of tucker's tonsillectomy, it was not my intention to document - i just figured i'd get a before and after shot. ironically, chuck took most of the pictures this time.

tucker's journey since last thursday has been challenging for all of us (although, i suppose physically, he is recovering right on schedule).

as he was prepared to go back to the OR, chuck read tucker's favorite book...
once he and daddy were fully changed, he definitely knew something was up. leading up to this point, he kept saying, "i don't want my tonsils out. i want to keep them."
although tucker clung to chuck before the surgery, he only wanted me afterwards. of course, he wasn't exactly coherent...
we were glad when he fell back to sleep on my lap, because every time he woke up he was not happy.
in fact, he was pretty miserable.
i can only imagine what it must feel like to "go to sleep" feeling fine only to wake up feeling like someone drove a truck down your throat. he kept telling us he was choking.
he refused to drink or try any popsicles (mainly because he HATES cold foods). all he really wanted was to go home. the nurse finally told him he could go home as soon as he started eating and drinking. to that, he responded, "give me that popsicle."
the ride home was a somber affair...
once home, however, chuck plopped his mattress right in front of the tv and granted him free access to the wii. this distracted him for the greater portion of the day.
he even got to nap there!
he looks peaceful here.
unfortunately, waking up is much harder than falling asleep,... and for the last several days this entire process has repeated itself every time he wakes up.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

a chatty sort of all-encompassing update...

well, at least, that's what i'm hoping to accomplish. lately, i put off blogging in search of uninterrupted time, but i'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that i don't really have any of that. at all. but that's ok.


i took patrick to his 8 yr check-up today. not that thrilling, i know, but it still reminds me of how old he is getting. and that makes me think of how quickly my children are leaving their current phases and entering new ones. of course, that's all part of the plan,... but i'm always making a conscious effort to really appreciate who and what my kids are now. it seems like just yesterday patrick couldn't get enough of bob the builder and his toy guitar (he used to write his own worship music... but that's another post entirely...). now he's reading Treasure Island and drawing pictures that already surpass my most artistic moments. i love him. and i love watching him and his siblings grow up.

three weeks into the school year, i feel like i'm finally starting to fall into a routine of sorts. this year has brought many changes: lucy entered kindergarten which leaves only tucker at home with me. this is a good thing... but it's taking some getting used to on his part. some days he's not sure what to do with all the attention and other days he turns into a monster if he doesn't get all my attention. in the long run, the good and bad attention he's demanding is helping to work off some of his rough edges. he's at that age where he needs a little "polishing." when people ask what the kids are up to these days, i tell them, "the older three are in school, and tucker is in boot camp." it's true.

another change is that the two kids i watch, K and A, are down to just A now because K is in kindergarten, as well. however, his is half day kindergarten, so some days i get to pick him up and keep him for the afternoons. i'm glad for these days, because tucker enjoys the added company. he's recently started asking if we can keep A forever. not sure her parents would like that...

i finally feel as if we're really moving into fall. the kids clothes are all switched over (with the exception of some shorts and stuff, because, let's face it, this is maryland...). i'm ready to get back into the kitchen after a spending the hot summer avoiding it. my mental baking list is growing... now i just need to work up the nerve to get started. hmm...

winter baking inevitably leads to the dreaded "winter weight" which makes me think about giving exercise another go. ever since last november's broken ankle, my attempts to re-acclimate myself to any exercise has left me a bit sore (that and summer exercise routines are too hot for my liking). i think it's time to get back on the treadmill - but maybe in smaller, more manageable doses. now, i just need to figure out how to work it in to the schedule...

i guess that's enough for now. my uninterrupted time is just about up...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

my boy

i don't want to overlook the fact that my oldest turned 8 last week.
i'm not sure which is harder for me... the idea of him being that old OR the idea that i've been a mother for 8 years. it's been a great ride. happy birthday, patrick

happy birthday, patrick