Tuesday, November 29, 2011

...to tackle my house

...and I barely can walk in the living room still.

Today is a day that I have had little motivation to do much of anything.  It is rainy.  Gloomy.  I've had a headache all day.  My big toe hurts.  Blah, blah, blah.

I have little to show for my efforts.  Sure there's a bit of laundry done.  The kids ate three square meals today.  I ran.  They all were showered and shaved read to when they went to bed.  So why you ask does my living room still look like this?

Because I cannot figure out where to start!

This must be how Isabella feels when I tell her to clean her room.  The task is too overwhelming.  Too depressing.

Much like my afternoon.

I have been meaning to take Abbey in for her four-year-well-check.  I have been concerned the past two weeks or so that she has been really lethargic.  Every chance she gets she is resting on the floor or the couch sucking her thumb.  Even her teachers in school mentioned this.  Today we had an appointment with her pediatrician.

Personally I think it probably is just her.  She is probably just growing.  She always has been my sleeper.  But I wanted the doctor to look at some other things that may be causing this; especially since the onset is so recent.  I was thinking iron levels, mono, thyroid...

A little background on my experience with this doctor:  I have met her no less than four times in the past six weeks.  Every time is like the first time even though it was with the same child three times.  And today the fifth time, was no different.

Without much ado...Her diagnosis:  Abbey is on the road to obesity (her BMI is much too high) and she thinks she is depressed.  "Because depression is often overlooked in children".


Thank goodness I didn't crumble into tears.  Had I not been caught so off guard I might have.  I was speechless and just listened.  My mind whirling with all of the questions she didn't ask or notice...for example, the last I checked I wouldn't be considered overweight.  Isn't obesity often inherited?

She asked if her dad is deployed.  Yes.  Why, yes he is.  He and 4000 other dads are on this post (at least).  That doesn't mean she is depressed.  Again isn't depression often inherited?  Do I appear to be depressed?  How about checking her other risk factors?

I should consider therapy she says.  Maybe.  But not after one quick judgement from someone who doesn't know my daughter or me.

Or maybe I just need a new doctor who doesn't jump to a couple of conclusions based on one rather uninformed visit (and one who does her reading(I don't know how credible this article is but I thought it pretty ironic that I just read it last week)).

So instead of finishing up my house tonight, I am wallowing in a little self-pity and a glass of Bailey's.  My favorite once-in-a-blue-moon-indulgence-because-I-forget-it-is-in-my-fridge.  Delicious.  And I am drafting my list for tomorrow putting three 'must-do's' on it.

1) Clear off counters in kitchen (and in the process find spots for all of the random holiday hoopla littering it)
2) Go to Post office (This will clear off the dining room table of three packages.)
3) Change Abbey's primary care doctor.

Pretty doable?

Monday, November 28, 2011

...to do a little holiday project

...because in truth I am avoiding my real issues!

You cannot begin to imagine what my house looks like on the inside.  From the outside it looks nice...because this is where I spent all of my spare time yesterday.  It was a surprisingly pleasant day.  While the kids rode bikes and played catch, I decorated the porches.

Our front porch

Side entrance...a bench to take off all of our snow-gear!
But from the inside my house looks like all of my tubs of Christmas decorations have thrown up and spewed holiday shtuff everywhere!

Mark says that I sometimes have trouble with priorities.  Sometimes I have trouble finishing what I start.  Sometimes I try to do too many things.

He is right.  Looking around here there is no question...an extra holiday project should have been tabled until this condemned zone became inhabitable again.

But since we all know that Mark is what balances me; and he is not here...than my whims prevail.

And so today we did pom pom pinecones (a.k.a. little x-mas trees)!

-pinecones that are nauseatingly cinamonny
-little items for decor (buttons, pom poms)
-three cute girls to decorate them (one was home from school with a little cold).

Isabella's...she loves the hot glue gun!

All pretty and smelly...for Daddy.

Maybe tomorrow I'll tackle the living areas....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

...to celebrate #3

...turning 4!

Oh how can it be?  Four seems like such a big girl age.

And she is such a grown up little one.

Abbey has been my baby for the longest.  She has been my slowest to grow up.  She didn't walk until she was 19 months...didn't say her first words quite as quickly as the others, and hung closer to me longer than the others have.

I didn't expect her to be so independent so quickly.  I guess I expected to stay back on the curve and I am was OK with that.  I don't know when it happened...when she gained the confidence to become her own boss.  To become everyone's boss!  She has changed into a feisty four-year-old.  A little girl that loves to play and learn and be a friend.  One that can exude a rainbow of emotions in a very short period of time.  A little girl that I love to be around...because she is so colorful.

She loves sucking her thumb, being in charge of her little sister, babies, pretend play, cooking with me, listening to stories, dancing, playing games, doing art projects, and 'writing'.  Probably in this order.

She is the first to offer to do something for her brother or one of her sister's (get a coat, pick up something off of the floor), she is the first to fall asleep at night (she requires the most sleep of all of my kiddos), and she is the first to remind me of a task I was supposed to do.  She love, love, LOVES her dad.  She mentions his every day and often thinks of something new to send him.  She is kind.  And thoughtful and true.

Happy 4th Birthday my Abbey!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

...to enjoy the day

...and it was a very nice day.

It was so much fun to watch the kids welcome their grandparents and Aunt Sandy when they arrived into town...and better yet Mark got to participate in the excitement as well.

He called right before they came in.  Although we are not able to do webcam with him, he is able to watch us on gmail video chat.  It was as if we could pretend he was here with us.  Hopefully we were able to bring a little bit of our chaos to him.

After a day of eating...all day...I am enjoying the late evening fatigue that is beginning to set in.

We just finished watching Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, reading stories to the girls, and right now I am watching Will torture his grandfather by trying to teach him to play baseball on the Wii.  Poor Fred.  I think I heard the Wii tell him, "I have never seen such a terrible swing."

The normal family stuff with our extended family here to share in the fun makes for a very enjoyable day.

Mark and I have so much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

....check everything off my list

...and write a new one

I am running out of steam as I finish preparations for tomorrow.

I was trying to think what I wanted for the big day; here is the new list of things I came up with:

  • I just want everything to be tasty and I want to make the things my visitors want.
  • I just want everyone to feel comfortable in my home.
  • I just want my children to behave and mind their manners.
  • I just want my children to be appreciative and thankful for their relatives coming to spend time with them.
  • I want to enjoy the day tomorrow.
Looking at this list it is probably similar to what many people want from tomorrow.  The Hallmark version of a family Thanksgiving.  Something to frame.  Something to remember.

I can tell you...I can vividly remember nearly every Thanksgiving since Mark and I have been married.  I am not sure why this holiday is so marked in my memory.  I suppose it is because every year has been celebrated in a different location, a different state, with different family members.

(Here is a little trip down memory lane...)

The first Thanksgiving after Mark and I were married we were living in Lompoc, CA; near Vandenburg AFB.  My in-laws made the trip to California to visit us.  We spent the actual holiday in Monterey eating at a very bad restaurant...but I made a traditional meal before we left on that little trip.  That was my first Thanksgiving away from home.  I was so homesick.  I spent a good portion of that day sobbing.  Most notably, running off to my bedroom, right before the meal was served.  

One of my favorite Thanksgiving weekends was when Isabella was a toddler and the Crow families all met up on Cape Code.  I loved visiting Plymouth Plantation on Thanksgiving Day.  I have some of my very favorite photos of Isabella as a baby from that trip.  She even began walking well that weekend!

Another favorite weekend was the year Abbey was born.  Both of our brothers and their wives made the trip to visit a very VERY pregnant ME in NJ.  We have such a fun weekend together...watching movies, indulging in some wine, and enjoying each other's company while waiting for #3 to join us.  She barely missed meeting her aunts and uncles that weekend and instead was born the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  

One year we went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade!  Mark, myself, all the kids, and my brother and Taylor faced the crowds in New York City.  What a fun experience (though Mark might use a different word to describe that adventure).  I loved that parade (what we could see of it) and wished that we could've gone back...maybe another year.

We have been to restaurants on Thanksgiving (some terrible and others pretty good), I lost my grandfather the Thanksgiving weekend the year Isabella was born, we have celebrated our baby's first birthday on a Thanksgiving (2008) and we found out I was pregnant with Audrey on another.

Thanksgiving is always a memorable holiday weekend.

It's easy to understand why this will be another memorable holiday weekend.  And this is not likely to be in the top five of my favorite Thanksgiving day celebrations.... 

I have changed so much since that first Thanksgiving back in 1998.  Our family has changed even more.  I am incredibly thankful for that.  But, this Thanksgiving I won't spend much time blubbering about what I don't have or who isn't with us.   Instead, I will quietly miss him so SO much.  I'll pretend I am holding his hand during the prayer at dinner.  I will miss him telling me to 'sit down'...'relax'.  And I will cherish the time I have with our family.

I have done everything I can possibly for my wish list to happen.  

I won't worry too much when my children don't behave or mind their manners.  

I'll do my best to help teach them appreciation and thankfulness.  

There is plenty of food tomorrow.  And Mark's family is super easy to please.  

Likewise, they will be so happy to see us they won't even realize I didn't mop the floor.

That brings me to the last one...

And well...I am already enjoying the day and it isn't even here yet.  

Can't you hear the kids voices now?  The squeals and giggles?  The love in their voices?

When they see their grandparents?  When they show Aunt Sandy their rooms?

....and when they talk to their Dad to wish him a Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

...to show my desk re-do

...now the kids have a new workspace in my living

Our house is not short on tables and spaces to do projects.  However, my children are always wanting to work right at the bar on the island.  The problem is that often their work gets splattered with water or worse, Abbey or Audrey spills something on it.

And, for the record, my counter usually isn't cleared off enough for them to have ample work space.

I found this treasure on Craigslist about two week ago.  I love old school desks!  Pretty soon I'll probably have four of 'em!  For now this is my new favorite treasure.  Unlike Isabella's, this desk top is flat (Her desk is a vintage model in which the chair is attached to the desk and the desk top is angled).  This new style desk will make it much easier for projects and papers to stay put!

As you can see it is pretty beat up.  Luckily, the weather has been unseeingly mild this fall I was able to refinish it already.

The chair is all sanded here...

And after a few coats of stain and a spray on polyurethane (which I might point out is a truly genius invention!)....


I am not 100% convinced I am in-love with the finish I chose, but for now it fits in perfectly into our living, the kids LOVE it, AND it doubles as a side table!

Monday, November 21, 2011

...to share the 'quote of the day'


I am in my bedroom trying on some new clothes I bought myself this afternoon.  I had put on a dress that I mostly liked.  Mostly because it was long.  And I like anything that is long enough to cover my legs.

Isabella walks in.
Me:  What do you think?
Isabella:  Well...um...it isn't really you.
Me:  What do you mean?
Isabella:  Um, well, it is kinda shaped.  You know tight.  Around your butt.
Me:  Oh.  Well maybe that is why it was on sale.  'Cause it runs a little tight.
Isabella:  Or maybe it was on-sale because it is U-G-L-Y.
Guess who will be making another run to Old Navy tomorrow?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

...to have a lazy day

...and recover from the kids' first sleepovers.

We did nothing.

I started off my day catching up with my old dear friend Kris M. and we even both got to finish a cup of coffee in one conversation together!

Please don't get the idea this means our conversation was uninterrupted.  I tell you, kids can smell the phone.  They must have special sensors placed in different locations throughout our house.  Because when I picked up the hone to call Kris all six kids were scattered in various places throughout our ginormous house; and I went to hide out in my tiny little workout room/closet.  Sure enough...within moments of beginning our conversation the fumes from the connection between the plastic of my phone and my ear must have been wafting up toward the stairway.  Then wammo bammo number 4 was at my feet ready to complain, #3 all-of-a-sudden needed a drink of water, followed by....you get the picture.

But I digress.

It was fun to catch up with her.

We barely got dressed today.

Instead the kids played.  And watched TV.  And made a fort in the living.  And ate snacks.

"Fort" Drum.
It was a lovely start to our day!

After their friends went home the little girls napped and Will and Isabella and I each went to do our own thing.

Here is where my story gets interesting.

I decided to start my holiday baking.  Dinner rolls.  Pumpkin scones.  French onion dip.  Caramelized onions.

Isabella went to go and play on the computer.

Will went to go out to play some baseball in the backyard.

Here is a snippet of our conversation that followed ten minutes later; after my hands were covered in pumpkin dough.

Will:  Hey Mom!  (All out of breath)  You have really got to clean up all of the dog poop in our yard.  
Me:  Huh? 
Will:  Yea Mom.  I just saw it and it is everywhere.  You have got to take care of it NOW.  
Me:  (Idea bulb 'pings' in my head.  With a hint of evil to it.) 
Me:  You are right Will.  It does need to be taken care of.  And today is a perfect day.  Why don't you grab your sister and the two of you can add that to your list of chores.
          Will:  No!  I am NOT going to do that.

          Me:  (Thought bulb in my head:  Why have I not thought of this sooner!)
Me:  (Thought bubble:  To ensure it is done well I have to come up with something smarter than they are.) 
Me:  To Will and Isabella:  "I am going to give you your allowance plus and extra $10 a piece.  I know this is a crummy job and no one wants to do it.  You have to do it together.  And for every pile you miss, I will subtract a dollar."
          Me:  (Thought bulb:  I am brilliant.  I should get a MOM genius star or something for that caveat!)

A few of the choice comments Will uttered in an incredibly whiny voice during the several attempts at avoidance and quitting his newly acquired job:

YOU AREN'T EVEN DOING ANYTHING. (pictures to follow)
Guess who won't remind me to clean up the back yard ever again?

For the record:  When I wasn't 'doing anything'...

Pumpkin Scones

...to attend the Spaceship Derby! (Yesterday)

...I forgot to publish this post.

What a fun event it was for Will!

On your mark!  Get set!  Crash...
He didn't even seem fazed that his rocket crashed right away.  Fell off the line.  Dropped.  His is the second one in the photo above.  (I had him put that white this in the top; supervised him hammering it in place.  But simply forgot to have him glue it in there.  Who knew that is what it was for!)

But he was excited when the leaders gave his rocket another chance!

He did a lot of work to make this spaceship!

He has a new friend

And he was really proud of his rocket!

I would call this day a success.

I am just really happy he didn't complain about having me as his helper...but think subconsciously his voice of reason is hoping I don't have to do another project like this with him.

After all, I am NOT a rocket scientist.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

...to reveal the office

...this has been a much awaited post I think (well only for my father-in-law; he just wanted to know how I was going to cover up the mess of a wall we made!)

As I have mentioned before, this is a great military house.  It's not a house we would want to buy because in ten years it will have fallen apart due to cheap materials and the use of the 'low bid government contractor'.  Having said that, certainly a lot of thought was put into the lay-out of the home.

Except for the office.

It is a small room (about 5 X 8) set right next to the mudroom and just off of the kitchen.  There is no door.  Although, I don't necessarily find that problematic.

My beef is that some designer thought it would be a good idea to put in a countertop and two random cupboards in the space.  Great if you don't have a desk...

It is that low countertop that I really disliked!  And much to Fred's dismay, that counter was going to come out of there...b/c my desk was going to fit perfectly in that space!

Bless that man's troubled heart (I know that it tore him up to 'destroy' that new house) but like any doting FIL would do...we went and bought the tools and he got to work!  I included a few photos of the process:

Under the counter working with a paint scraper tool and a rubber mallet.

This was a long process; working around the edges on both the top and underside of the countertop.

Unsightly triangular support
This triangular piece did come off.  It has been carefully stored away so that I can put the cupboard back on the wall when we leave.  If this were my house...I would have taken off the wall supports and certainly gotten rid of the cupboards and put in some type of shelves.  However I didn't want to be found guilty of destroying government property so we demolished as carefully as possible and with a little glue that cabinet could be back in place in no time.  (Would you want it my way or the countertop way?)

This office became the dumping ground while I was unpacking.  It was the last room that I decided to tackle.  Mostly because I have a laptop and didn't have to spend any time in it.  Remember that toy room before picture this was 'wayyy worse' (as Will would say)!  I can't believe I didn't take a before picture.

Well here is the office now...

The unsightly supports for the cabinet....badly needed to be covered!
And despite MANY google searches I could not find an example of what I had in my mind to cover these beasts.  So I just did what I thought was best.  I found some fabric I liked, sewed it to the approximate length I wanted, and created a curtain-like covering.  Even my mom helped in the hanging process!  Who knew she could work a staple gun?

 Thank goodness my Grandma Viele taught me how to sew oh-so-long-ago!
This is a large bookshelf we have had for a long time...

A vintage clock as a bookend and a couple of the kids silver cups can be spotted.
This shelf was a thrift store find that my dad sanded and I refinished.
Mark brought me the sculptures from Africa.
A view of our work area with the ugly cupboards.
I love the modern looking lamp I found!

We don't have an extra table for the printer so I have put it on top of a large basket...this is perfect because it serves a second purpose of storing and hiding all of the cords!

Another picture of the desk/wall covering from the window side of this office space...

Final views from the mudroom hall area...Time to replace the curtains!  Ideas anyone?

Now it is a useable and cozy space to occupy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

...to research dance classes

...for my children

Unfortunately they surely inherited their dancing genes from Mark and I.

Pay no mind to the girls that are scantily clad girls in this video nor to the young man trying to practice for his future performance in the mosh pits at concerts.

Your children should not try this at home lest they be videotaped too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

...to get several things accomplished

...and I did have a super productive day.

that I would love to tell you all about a different time...because I turned into an ogre especially early this evening.  I ran out of steam.

Because of the visitor I had in my bedroom at 0100 this morning.

I realize this is the season of Thanksgiving; and I do adore my number 4.  AND she was uber cute (which I why I decided after several minutes of her 'sermon' to turn on the video camera).  We were up for a while for sure.

So I am trying to be thankful for these moments and if they happen then simply go to bed a little earlier the next evening.

My little gal must have felt like she had taken a great nap.  She was ready to talk.  I have at least 15 minutes of video and I didn't even start it right when she walked in.

Here are a few snippets of our conversation...

She would like to get into bed with me:

Now she is trying to get me to turn on the television for her.  She would like to sit in her chair at the end of the bed and 'watch a show'.

Now she is talking about Mark..at some point in our conversation she was concerned she was sleeping on Will's side of the bed (he probably sleeps with me the most) but she also knows its Mark's side.  Anyhow, she refers to him often in the conversation.  She's got a little attitude too.

I wonder who will wake me tonight?

Monday, November 14, 2011

...to take the evening off

...to go out with a group of people I barely know?

It may come as a surprise to some of you that I am not really a social person.  Certainly I have many friends and I am so lucky to have them.  And I adore my friends with all my heart.

It is the group thing, that I am not really a big fan of.  However, logically I understand that within a large group of people there is typically one person that I can connect with.

Somehow, over the years I have miraculously muddled through all of my wifely social responsibilities and managed to snag a few friends in this manner.  Come to think of it, as I think back to all of the units we have been a part of, I have only remained in contact with a few of these women.  Yea, yea I get that there are times in our lives when we have friends for different reasons and friend may come and friends may go...

Anyhow, while most of my friends are military, we met and became friends under very different circumstances than just because our husbands were in the same unit.  It is for this reason that I have been a bit skeptical about joining my most recent spouses group.  Not because I don't think i will make a friend in this group, but because I am being a snot by thinking I don't need any new friends...And let me reiterate I am not good in a large group setting of people.

I like small groups...ask me over for a play date, morning coffee, a trip to the mall, or to go for a run...I guess I just like to get to know others on a more personal level.

I don't know what I was expecting...and evening of relaxation in an environment that I find quite taxing?  An evening away from the BTN (bed time nightmare :)?  An evening devoid of homework, timed tests, reading logs, baths, pajama time?

This is what I got:  (Sorry Amy for the recap...)

A meal that was $30...and I am still hungry.
Conversation forced.
A babysitter that cost $35.

Oh yea...and the important part of this story is that when I got home THE SITTER WAS SITTING ON THE COUCH READING A BOOK PEOPLE!

Isn't that flipping great!  Because I had:

Four children still awake (at 9:00) without stories having been read or drinks been given.  Well duh babysitter girl... The whole point of going out in the evening is so I don't have to put the kids to bed!!!!!

In fact when I went upstairs to check on them, Audrey was pushing her stroller around the toy room.  She wasn't even close to being in her room much less her bed!

Nearly every game was out of the game closet.  This should be seen as good right?  At least she was playing with them while they were downstairs.

Go-gurt wrappers on the floor.  Really...she could't have at least thrown the trash away?

There were the dinner dishes still all over the counter with two full glasses of milk.  You might think well at least the babysitter made dinner.  No. No. AND NO!  I did and cleaned up all of the dishes including the soup pan before I left.  The children were simply eating at the counter when I walked out the door.

Every light in the house was on...Can you hear the country music song??

and this is what my sink looked like:

Grilled cheese sandwich in the drain surrounded by tomato soup.


I should tell you this girl is very nice.  And sweet.  And seems to really like my kids.  I should also tell you I had a very similar experience with this same young girl before.  Am I a dummy for having her back you ask?  Possibly.

The kids liked her though and I wanted to give her another chance.  So this time...this time I was very specific about the tasks I wanted done.  They were written down.  Things like:  Make sure Audrey has a pull-up on (NOPE).  Make sure the kids put the dishes in the dishwasher (NOPE).  Make sure the kids make their lunches (SORT OF).  Make sure the living room looks like I am leaving it.  (Maybe I should have included photos in my list? Because maybe she has a poor memory of what the place looked like?)

I don't know.

I can laugh about this already.  In the big scheme of things none of this is a very big deal.  And frankly, I like hanging out with my kids in the evening much better than I like hanging out with a group of people that I don't know.

I should have saved all of my money and gotten a massage instead (while the kids were at school and daycare).

Now that would have been relaxing....

Friday, November 11, 2011

...to celebrate Veteran's Day

...Fort Drum style

I thought this was a really cute photo op; I wish the quality of the picture were better.  Abbey was mesmerized (while she was feeding her baby) by the opening ceremony of the Michigan State vs. North Carolina basketball game this evening that took place on board the USS Carl Vinson.  What a tribute for the American Soldier; especially for those in attendance.  Even the President and his wife were in attendance!

We started our day off with a the Boy Scout parade in a very small local community.  I think it took us twice as long to drive there, than the parade actually lasted.

Here are my gals waiting for the parade to start:

Audrey refused to be in this photo.  :)

Vietnam and World War II Vets led the parade:

Can you see Will?

Here is my little man...
Isn't he a handsome little Boy Scout!
Thankfully that is NOT his leader walking there behind him IN the parade with his cell phone.

We all got to talk with Mark this afternoon and then spent the rest of the day at home.  We played a little baseball, ate a nice meal, and said a special prayer for Daddy.

I'll conclude with a little story that is very appropriate to share today:
Most every evening of late, after I get the kids to bed, I come downstairs to sit next to the fire with a cup of tea and my computer.  This is my quiet time.  A time i DO NOT like to be interrupted with footsteps over my head, calls for water, or worse...visits from my children into 'my-space' (which for the record is the entire downstairs).

My children understand that I turn into an ogre after 9:00.  And typically are pretty good after the final bedtime call.

In fact as I write this...Isabella just came into 'my-space' and announced as she was walking through that I shouldn't "freak-out"; she was only getting her book.

The night before last William dared enter my space.  Also announcing his intentions before he crossed my imaginary line.  He came over to kiss me, one last time before he went back upstairs and said,

"Wow.  This is nice.  It is very warm here.  You like your tea Mom?  I think I would like to sit and work at the computer in front of the fire when I am old.  (pause) Except I guess I will have to be the one to go to Afghanistan and work there too (like Dad)?"
I just gave my little boy a hug.  Secretly hoping that I don't have to send him too.  Worried that he carries such heavy thoughts in his little heart.  Proud that he understands this sacrifice and yet accepts what he believes is his responsibility.

Happy Veteran's Day to those who are willing/have done their part.

...to recognize our veteran

...even if he doesn't remember that Veteran's Day is tomorrow

I thought I would revisit a few of our Good Bye's of years past....

Off to Iraq 2/03
Off to Iraq 7/04
Going back from R&R 12/04

Now a few Hellos... 

"Hi Will!"  11/04

Welcome Home Daddy!  7/05

You were gone a whole week!  5/11

R&R 10/11
And Some "I Love Yous"

Having fun with Dad

Christmas Ball 12/08


Thank you...for all of our shared memories together.