Tuesday, January 31, 2012

...share a few gems of the day

...because it is always fun to reminisce about the fun stuff

Fun thing #1

This morning when I woke up to run I was surprised to find that I wasn't sleeping alone.  (Frankly, it is also a bit unnerving that one of my children was able to creep into my bed unannounced. But sweet nonetheless.)

Because my young cherub was sleeping so peacefully I simply couldn't get on my treadmill.

This fits right into my mantra, "Must try to find reason not to exercise each day."  Which consequently isn't helping the 'well there's more of me to love' quandary that I seem to have.

I digress...

Fun thing #2.

When I finally did actually wake up my son...I was tickled to find that he had already gotten dressed.  Head-to-toe.  Uniform on.  Socks too.

This leads me to think I have given my children some sort of complex about timeliness and getting ready on time in the mornings...remember Abbey a few weeks ago?

Fun(ny) thing #3

I thought the house could use a little cleaning:
Audrey: "Mommy what is that?"
Mom: "Huh?"
Audrey:  "What are you doing to the floor? What is it?"
Mom:  "A mop?"
Apparently I need to clean a little more often.

Fun thing #4

Will has wrestling on Tuesdays and Thursdays and last week they received their singlets.  How cute is he?

Showing off one of his 'moves'.
Fun thing #5

I have tried to make a concerted effort throughout this deployment to read to them each evening.  And for the most part I have tried to pick books that a) appeal to both of them and b) are something they might not choose to read themselves.

We are powering through the first book of the Harry Potter series.  Neither or the big kids (nor myself for that matter) were very excited about reading this book.  And now we can't wait each night to sit down at read a chapter (or two if I can be convinced; and usually I can be convinced to read on).

We are looking forward to watching the first movie.  Maybe we'll be able to rent it next weekend?

Monday, January 30, 2012

...to share our out-of-doors experience

...we finally have gotten a little bit of snow and it has been so lovely outside!

I thought it would be fun to take a little family walk in the freshly fallen snow.

The kids and I have noticed lately several areas on the ground that have patches of water frozen over and I thought it might be fun to take the kids to go slipping and sliding on it.

Can you tell where this story is leading?

Who thinks I should never, NEVER listen to my "good-idea-fairy"?

It probably will be weeks before my children are over the undue emotional agony I put my them through.

For starters, I think it took approximately 28 minutes to get everyone dressed and geared up for the event.  The dog included.

The walk looked promising when right at the beginning of the walk the kids found something fun to try.  A tree was lying across a ditch and it begged to be 'tight-roped' across.

It is harder than it looks when you are wearing big snow boots!
Our destination was a short walk...less than a mile away.

One might have thought it was ten miles, with the way they were carrying on!  Fussing and crying and collapsing to the ground....

I'll spare you the video with sound effects.  I am sure you can imagine the sobs...pathetic.
And wouldn't you know it, when we got to that lovely patch of frozen ground cover that I saw the other day...well, it was completely covered in @#$@ snow.  Duh.  Of course it was.

The patch of ice we were going to slide around on...
I wish I had remembered to bring my good camera with me...there were some really great photo opportunities that I missed.

Perhaps I should try again this coming weekend?

Friday, January 27, 2012

...to attend family movie night at Augustinian

...to eat pizza and watch look occasionally at the screen that was showing the movie How to Train Your Dragon.

The kids had a great time.

Even the little girls were completely, and easily managed!

The setup of the gymnasium

#4 trying to figure out this movie venue

Will and two of his best buddies

#1 cozy and content

#3...she had this movie night thing figured out!  Consequently, I wasn't able to take a photo of her.  She was too quick!  Because...She realized a few keys details about social freedom...
  1. Mom was busy gabbing with her friends.
  2. There was an endless supply of candy, drinks, and chips.
  3. She knew many of the children at the event and greatly enjoyed mingling amongst them.
  4. As long as she did nothing to overtly grab the attention of the person mentioned in item 1, she could do as she pleased for the evening.
She loves movie night!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

...to make some 'snow-box-sleds'

...never heard of this?

Me either.

Lucky me, we have yet another exciting boy scout adventure/competition to prepare for!

I can refer you back to the spaceship experience...remember when Will's rocket fell off the zip line?

Unfortunately for him I don't expect this experience to be any more successful.

The rules:

Create a sled using..
1) Cardboard
2) Duct tape
3) Zip ties (I haven't figured out what we might need these for....this may be our first problem.)

Lucky for Isabella she gets to participate in this event as well.

I googled the concept on google images...Let's just say I hope these folks don't attend our derby.

I found an article from the local Watertown newspaper...Wow.  These people had vision and time on their hands.  Impressive.

Here are a few others:

No one mentioned that we needed our snow box to accommodate more than one child...

A boat
 Show off.
Tiger Stadium.  Extremely impressive.
Today was a half-day so I thought it would be a great chance to begin our creations.  I purchased a few fun colors of duct tape as well as a very large roll of extra-wide regular duct tape.  The kids dragged in a couple of oversize boxes that I have been hoarding in the garage and the creating commenced!

Preparing their boxes

Making the tape just the right length.

A car

A snow box sled
My vision was to let the kids enjoy the afternoon by taping up their boxes and adding some color.  

My only hope is that their snow boxes will make it down the hill.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

...to lighten up a bit

...and do what I do best...


And play games.

Abbey and I made an old favorite this morning after the big kids left for school.

Then we made our coffees (really it was hot chocolate for them) and played several rounds of Zingo.  This is the favorite game of the week.

a coffee and muffin morning...

Mornings like this are definitely my favorites.


In case you are interested:

I remember my mom clipped the recipe from the newspaper about twenty five too many years ago.  This is that recipe, or my altered version, as best as I can remember it.  They were gobbled up!

Poppy Seed Muffins

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar (I use less...especially if I use vanilla yogurt)
1 cup yogurt
2 eggs
1t vanilla (or lemon extract)
2 cups flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t soda
3 t poppyseeds

Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar on top before baking.

Bake at 375 for about twenty minutes

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

...to be a good mom

...but I don't foresee any nominations for an award coming my way after today.

Overheard from the peanut gallery:

"It's not like we even really had dinner last night.  I mean four meatballs and some sauce on a plate with some garlic bread..."

"Count to ten...breathe."

"Maybe you should have some more coffee.  You seem...you know...stressed."

"You never spend any time with me.  You are always with the little girls."

"How come you always take away my video games first?"

And for my last, non-award winning accomplishment for today:

Perhaps I should put her back in the five-point harness?

As one kind-hearted friend noted:  "At least she is clothed AND she has shoes on".


I'll try harder tomorrow.

Monday, January 23, 2012

...to check off a few things off my list

...especially the items I have been procrastinating about.


They have the potential to keep me on task.  And organized.  If only I could find all of the ones I have started on the many scraps on paper that are on hand...

A wise friend mentioned recently that maybe I should just think of the three, must-do items each day that I have on my list (which is infinite).

The items that were on my list today were the ones that I have been putting off.

1) Call for my medical records

My appointment was nearly two weeks ago.  There is absolutely no reason why I haven't called the imaging center for my scans and x-rays....except that phone calls like that are NEVER as easy as it seems they should be.

This phone call was just as I expected.  Now I have two more things to do tomorrow.  Write a letter and then get it faxed.

Why?  Just who is going to try to steal the scan of my lower extremities?  Is there a lot of sensitive information contained in the structure of my veins?  Can someone steal my credit in this way?

2)  Three Returns to three different stores....with the little girls in tow.

Do I need to explain this one?

3)  The calendars.

I tried to do these around the holidays.  It made me so sad looking back at all of the photos and reflecting on the year of 2011.  Mark recommended I wait until I was looking toward something with anticipation and then maybe browsing the images wouldn't make me so reminiscent.

With the rampant murmurs of redeployment here around post...it is hard not to get excited about Mark's homecoming.

If you are one of the family members anticipating one of these...they are complete.  And ordered.  Happy Valentine's Day?

One list.  Three items.  Complete.

Now I have a medical request letter to compose....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

...to go to the Science Museum

...and to have a family day

My kids and I have come to enjoy laying low on the weekends.  We love not having the pressure to get up and out of the house and we love just doing our own thing.

But we also enjoy going and doing.

I have been feeling a little cooped-up with the crummy 'too-cold-but-not-enough-snow-to-play-outside-weather'.  

And I have been in a 'if-I-step-on-one-more-Lego-I-am going-to-lose-it' funk.  So I thought a good family outing would be the therapy I needed to refresh myself.

It's really too bad that Syracuse is an hour-and-a-half from Fort Drum.  I think there are so many fun opportunities in this city!

But for today...

We started at Starbucks!
Enjoyed our time at the MOST.

'swimming' on the reef

Future helicopter pilot?
And finished up at Chipotle.

We even ate lunch so late in the afternoon, that I didn't have to make dinner!  Yay for me!

Two of my favorite eateries with four of my favorite peoples.

Now if only I had come home to picked-up Legos....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

...to go to church

...and be happy (and you know it)

After an exciting week I was looking forward to today and was keeping my fingers crossed it would be a peaceful day.

We had a lot on the agenda, baseball, church, door-to-door cookie sales, and the big treat of the day McDonald's.

As you can imagine, going to church is the children's least favorite activity.  So today I had a bribe for them...behave well in church and we'll go to McDonald's for dinner (otherwise...it's leftovers).

It probably is no secret to many of you, but I was hoping they would behave because I do NOT like leftovers.

And...it may surprise you that going to church is a challenge with the four of them.  (Do you sense my sarcasm?)  Here is the rundown:

#1 only needs reminders to participate.  You know, pick up the book and sing-a-long.  She has also been known to squeeze her brother's hand a tad to strong and for a bit to long....

Number 2.  He's sly like a fox this one.  Not sly enough though.  Let's just say that last weekend he 'earned' the privilege of going to mass twice.  (Yes...my most clever consequence yet.)  Since he wasn't very well behaved last weekend he was lucky enough to attend mass for a second time on Sunday with me alone.  This allowed me to demonstrate one-on-one my expectations for him.  I don't think he'll have too many troubles at mass any more.

Number 3.  She is a bit tricky to control.  Her behavior is usually in direct correlation with that of #4.

Number 4.  I only try to appease her.  I cross my fingers and hope that she enjoys the music and sitting in my lap long enough to make it through the homily.  After that I strategically dole out treasures from my purse (a notepad, a pen to draw on a small pad, stickers, and in extreme moments...my wallet).

So this evening I bribed them all.  (I am SO not above bribery.)  If they were well enough behaved we could go to McDonald's for dinner.

I told them that Number 4 would not negatively affect their chances to go to McDonalds'.

Audrey scoffs at bribes.  And rewards.

This evening's mass went well enough.  There were a few "if you do that again I am going to make you wish you hadn't" stares but they passed the criteria.

This is my conversation with Abbey near the end of mass...you know the part where it is REAL quiet and the priest is just sitting for a moment.
Abbey:  "Momma was I good?"
Me: "Yes" (in a whisper)
Abbey:  "Oh good".  "Then I can have some food!" 
Children sure do know how to make their parents want to crawl under a rock and hide for a moment!

Why yes.  I am going to feed you Abbey.  But only today.  Not tomorrow.  Ugh. 

That conversation still makes me laugh.  Which makes me think of the little girls at the breakfast counter this morning...

I am clapping my hands.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

...to transplant some greenery

... and please don't think I was inspired by the balmy weather (single digits) we have been having!

While I surely have a busy household with many commitments I don't often feel stressed.  But yesterday and today, I most definitely have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

And my young, creative, intuitive first-born surely sensed my anxieties.  She is such a gem.  We arrived home much later this evening than we usually do.  She knew that she couldn't make dinner for me (because she isn't allowed to use the stove or microwave if I am not home) and instead, made me this lovely fruit & veggie platter for the girls and I to snack on!

After seeing this creation of hers, I could feel my anxiety lessen.  After we indulged in her creation...

I looked over at this beautiful terrarium and felt a little more peace:

Meghan made it for me from 'all things West Point'; including the small piece of driftwood inside.

I was inspired.

So doing what I do best in moments of chaos, I like to create a little more.  I looked around at the other plants I had around the room and decided to transplant them all.  I wish I had taken pictures of all of them but I didn't think about it till I was half-way through my project.

Isn't this one pitiful!

This poor plant had been 'stuffed' into the turquoise pot above!

'pitiful one' now in a pretty little pot
I am not certain this little guy will make it.  And I quite possibly have decreased his chance even more by placing him on the desk next to the couch.  I can almost envision him in a pile of dirt on my rug.  (Ugh.  I must think happy, positive thoughts!  He will not be knocked onto the floor.  He will not be knocked onto the floor....Maybe I should just move him.)

I already feel a bit more calm.  

And I even learned something new this evening...potting soil freezes in the garage.  Who knew?    


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

...to talk about my 'vacation'...

...ohhh what fun it was!

And how I hated for it to end.

But it was time for us both to get back to our own families' routines and our own respective 'to-do' lists.  By-the-way I learned 'list-ing' from Meghan.  I am merely her apprentice!

And this was the best kind of vacation.  It was a break from the routine.  A chance to catch up.  A chance to enjoy the company of friends.  Of family.

We didn't even have to leave our home.

My Meghan came this weekend with her two little ones.

We had nothing on our agenda.  Yet we filled our days with projects, quality time with the kids, comfort foods, delicious wines, and lots and lots of coffee.

It was so nice to share our new life here at Fort Drum with her.

Here are a few of our Kodak moments:

One of my favorite photos!

#3 held baby C as often as she could.  She barely would leave his side when he was awake!
At this moment these delightful two-year-olds were feeding the giraffe in the high chair together...
Snowball fight with Meghan!

I wish I had taken more photos.  But time slipped away so quickly and in such a comfortable way.  

It fills my heart to to think of our time together.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

...to finish the Valentine decor

...because this holiday is right around the corner and it is yet another holiday closer to Mark's return!

When my dad was putting away all of the Christmas decorations I had him keep out all of my red and white, non-holiday-specific things.

After Christmas I picked up these felt hearts (that I made into a little holiday garland), the wooden rose trees, and the small wreath.  These were perfect for Valentines Day; especially at 75% off!

I would love to 'frame' the little wreath since I feel like it is too small for that giant space, but surprisingly it has been too cold for spray painting anything!

The dining room continues to be my favorite room...

Here are my red lanterns I found this summer, a little Valentine printable I found on-line, and a few of the carnations from my children that I got for Christmas!  They are still doing pretty well.

A new and an old apothecary jar filled with yummy Valentine treats (suckers, candy hearts, Dove chocolates).

I noticed today the sucker jar is dropping suspiciously low.  If I had to guess it was our invisible fifth child, "Not Me", that ate them.

My chickens (I love to place these red guys in lots of places), more of my holiday flower arrangement from the kids, another printable I framed, and some more yummy Valentine treats (candy corns, red-hots, and cinnamon  heart gummies).

February 14th...just around the corner and when the count-down can really start.

Friday, January 13, 2012

...to go see Beauty and the Beast

...in 3D.

I am not quite sure why this is something I have wanted to do ever since I found out that it was being rereleased.  I suppose it is because I have loved Disney movies since I was young.  And dragging my four children along to one of my favorites movies sounded like fun.

So when today became an 'unofficial snow day' for us...I jumped at the chance to take the kids to see it.

Let's just say that William was less than thrilled at this 'great opportunity' to see a princess flick.

Isabella was excited only because it bribed her with the fact that it was in 3D.

Audrey still isn't really quite ready to sit through full-feature films.

And Abbey...well she was the only one who was really excited.

I thought it was great to see an old classic on the big screen.  And my kids...I think they all enjoyed themselves.  Although it probably would be very hard to get #3 to admit it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

...to sit down and read this evening

...not a book but some articles I have wanted to read.

On tap for this evening was one that caught my eye on Facebook today...

"What Military Children Won't Tell You About Being Asked, "Where Are You From?"

I wasn't expecting this article to make me feel better about our lifestyle of choice; but I also didn't expect it to make me feel sad for our children.  But it did.

Many thoughts went through my head when I read this article.  But the thought that really sticks with me is that, "Wow...my life (and Mark's) was really different compared theirs".  And that is sad.  Because we had great childhoods.

This question is easy for us to answer.  Both city and state.  Before heading off to college, we each had only lived in two different homes.  Isabella was off to her second home by the time she was seven-months-old.  Even Audrey has already lived in three homes.

I am saddened, because our children won't be able to experience the life that we did.  Their grandparents are not close.  Their aunts, uncles, and cousins are NOT a stone's throw away.  They are not going to have their middle school friends be in their weddings.  I am sad because these are all experiences we loved.  Our children won't ever get to experience these things.

I am also a little sad because they can't raise their left hand and point with their right hand to show where they are from.

The move here to Fort Drum was a particularly stressful move.  Even still we struggle (especially Isabella and I) with what/whom we have left behind.  But this is our lifestyle.

We even have a pretty good idea of when we will be moving again.  Yet, hopefully I am providing an example to my children to embrace our new surroundings and make this a home that we loved just as much as West Point.  And in less than ten weeks it will feel even more like our home!

I think that for the most part, Mark and I believe that the military has a lot to offer us in terms of our professional goals and aspirations; AND it also provides our family with great opportunities.

I feel very strongly that if our thoughts were to change on this matter than Mark would get out.

But don't many Americans feel this way about their jobs?  Aren't many of them trying to make their children's lives more rich and fulfilling while also trying to meet their own professional goals?

I am comforted by the fact that we make the best decisions we can for our children and our family.  Just like any other parent would.

I can only hope that when our children hear this question they'll be able to reflect on the places they have been with smiles in their hearts.

And hopefully, by the time our children are grown, they will have the skills to thrive in their endeavors, not in spite of, but because of the opportunities they have been given.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

...to get better at delegating

...because frankly it is just easier, more efficient, faster, and is done better, if I do it myself.

Having said that, I feel as if our children probably do more than the average child does (of their similar age) just because we have more children than most families do.  And also because of that little fact that I have been by myself for the last eight months they HAVE to pitch in more than their peers may have to...

Yet I think they need to do more?  Are you confused?

Well maybe not really more...but more responsible chores.  My thoughts is that maybe they balk because they don't want to get Timber food for the hundredth time; maybe it is because the chores is just another mundane task.

I definitely tease the big kids all the time that I had children just so that they could do my chores for me!
But to set the record straight, my goal is two-fold: to help them feel more grown up and to have them give me a little less grief about doing their chores.  

Today, while I was home with the little girls I was just picking up here and there and I decided to enlist their help.  Funny enough they LOVE to 'do shores' as Audrey calls it.  (Hey if she thinks she's at the beach...than who I am to correct her?) Well the little queen emptied the dishwasher just as well (and probably more carefully) than either of her biggest siblings!

she is very serious about her tasking

No...she is NOT pouting she has to do this 'shore';
She is pouting because #3 dared tried to do one piece for her!
my heart is palpating as I watch this...envisioning
that entire scoop of food going all over the floor.  Alas, it did not.
My goal in changing up the chore chart isn't to make them feel overworked, it is instead to make them feel a bit more like Abbey and Audrey do...They love to do their simple chores b/c they are challenging to them.

It did take FOREVER for Audrey to complete the task...but instead of doing it for her, I moved on to picking up the living room.  When she was finally finished, I went back to tidying up the kitchen.  She felt like such a big girl!  Me...I was impressed and got to thinking that I need to capitalize on this interest.  And up-the-ante on the big kids.

I guess what I really think they need it to do some things with a little more responsibility.

I am starting to think about the possibilities and am always up for suggestions.  #1 and #2 will be super thankful I am sure if you send your ideas along to me!

Right now some of the things they are responsible for include:
  • emptying the dishwasher
  • feeding the dog
  • making their lunches (although I hardly EVER make them do this...because I do it for them)
  • keeping their rooms clean (for the most part they are pretty good at this)
  • helping when I ask them to (again they are pretty good about this as well)

I think that Isabella and Will's chores have lost their zest!

I have tried out my theory a little bit of late and given them a few new tasks over the past couple of weeks to include: cleaning the mirrors in the bathroom, wiping down the counters (with Clorox wipes) and cleaning the toilets.  So far they have loved these tasks!

So here's what I am thinking:

Isabella is nine...I think she could begin to make some simple meals on her own?  Maybe she can make spaghetti, meatball subs, and tacos?

Folding the laundry and sorting it and maybe putting their own away?  (oh my, the sweat is beginning to bead on my brow just thinking about the state of chaos their drawers will become!)

Really cleaning up the kitchen? (clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, wiping off the counters) of course not on the days when I have cooked like the swedish chef.

So...I'll let you know how it goes with:
  1. me letting go of control
  2. them accepting their new challenges
  3. the decrease in 'disgruntle-ness' 


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

...to show a flash from the past

...that I found the other day when I was looking at old photos.

This video is Isabella and Will when they were very small.  William would have been about 14 months old and Isabella would have been nearly two.

A lot hasn't changed in their relationship since this video...she still dangles all the 'carrots' and then determines when and if he is going to be able to have a piece/participate.

Maybe this is the relationship of many siblings so close in age and why the whole birth-order-theory has some merit.

My apologies in advance...but again, probably only grandparents will find this humorous.

P.S.  She still is known to covet hoard all of the treats.

Monday, January 9, 2012

...to clean out the freezer

...why of course this is what I wanted to do today

I have a set of beer mugs that I always keep in the freezer.  In the rare event that I am thirsty for a soda and I can't have a fountain pop, I like my Coke to be super cold.  So I will pour it into one of the beer mugs.  Pure deliciousness.

Of course Isabella and Will think this is super cool too.  Who doesn't like little frozen chunks of Coca-Cola in their drink!  You see where this story is going right?

To make it even a little more frozen they like to put their mugs back in the freezer.  Then they'll take them back out and sometimes maybe even have to eat them with a spoon.

Well an even better idea, and of course it saves the step of pouring it into the mug, is to just put the can of soda into the freezer right?  And then never go back to it....


Soda everywhere.

What a mess!

Maybe I should watch my children better you say?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

...to share our picture perfect morning

...these are real photos

Of my children taken right at the same time (well as close as I could)!

And I didn't even have to 'set up' the photos...they are taken in real time.  Isabella was the only one who realized I was taking pictures.

It just goes to show, the moon and the stars can align sometimes.  And what better timing than on a lazy Sunday morning.

Abbey is painting at the kitchen counter.

Isabella is painting in the dining room (with acrylics...this is why they are separated!)

Audrey is building with her Legos.

William is working on his thank you notes.
It's true.  I can't make this stuff up.

And to top our morning off...Audrey decided to serenade us.  (Be warned...this clip is for grandparents; only they will think it is cute).

I think she gets her musical talent from Mark.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

...to post some numbers

...because I thought it would be fun.

Besides I have always liked statistics.

6  the number of times I was interrupted during my 30 minute run this morning on the treadmill
0  the number of times the interruption was necessary
2.7 the number of miles I was finally able to complete.

6 the number of 'bites' of the kids' donuts that I had this morning at Dunkin Donuts.  Do you think this equals a whole donut?  Probably not.  No definitely not.  Right?

4 the number of children I took grocery shopping today after their sugar high at Dunkin Donuts.
17 the number of times I had to correct #2, 3, and 4
2 the number of times a child hit someone with our cart.  Thank goodness it was me that was hit.  Well, either way, it was nearly deadly for the driver....
4 the number of children that I brought home from the commissary today.

In case you missed me writing about it before, #4 is terrible about actually trying to lay down and go to sleep in the afternoons for her nap (This is why I refer to this time of day fondly as the NTN.  Nap. Time. Nightmare.). Thus, usually I sit very close to her room and do some work until she falls asleep.  Usually the process is not too painful...she just sits in bed and plays and reads for nearly an hour till she finally succumbs to her drowsiness.  But today was my lucky day!  Today she was upset.  About what?  This is anyone's guess.  But...

47 the number of times that Audrey yelled "I won't cover up!"  "I said...I won't cover up."  "I am NOT going to cover up."
4 the number of phrases she tried after she realized "I won't cover up" wasn't going to get me to respond to her.
0 the number of times I responded to her.
3 the number of glasses of wine I thought I had earned for enduring such torture.

2 the number of hours she mercifully slept for this afternoon.

We also went to church this evening.  No one wants me to report on those numbers.  U-G-L-Y.  I can report that William did learn a most important stat...next week for each time he "just HAS" to go to the bathroom during mass, he'll lose 2 days of play dates after school.  Anyone want to place a bet on the number of times he leaves mass next week?  I am pretty sure it won't be 3.

.5 the number of hours left in this day.

How does the day pass so quickly?

Friday, January 6, 2012

...to share a funny kid moment

...Mark's inspiration for me

Mark writes every now and then about life in Afghanistan.  And he has shared some comments that he has coined "Smart things he hears around the FOB".

So every now and then I'll share "Funny things our kids say or do".

funny as in peculiar

Time:  3:00 in the morning
Place: my room
Child: #3

#3:  "Mom.  I already just got dressed so I don't have to in the morning!"
Me:  Huh???
#3:  "And I already just made my bed!"
Me:  fumbling for my phone to double check the time.  yep.  0300.
#3:  "Can I lay with you for a little minutes?"
Me:  "mmm" (acquiescing and hoping the less I say the more she will realize it is NOT okay to be awake at this hour and thinking if it means you'll go right back to sleep and don't talk to me anymore and I don't have to take you potty, walk you back to your room, find your baby, get you a drink of water, and tuck you in...of course you can get into bed with me. )

...to get a pedicure

...and my toes are saying T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U!

Remember my post way back in November when I thought my time and money would be better spent treating myself?  Well today was the day!  I took a few hours all to my lonesome.  My list was too long to accomplish all of the things that I wanted to in my four hours of peace (courtesy of the Army's 16 hours per month of free daycare per child a.k.a deployment hours).

I felt a little guilty dropping off the girls this morning.  Don't ask me why?  They were not upset...nope.  All they were worried about was whether or not they would have to take a nap at the center.  When I told them I would be picking them up after they had lunch, they said, "See ya Mom!"

During breakfast this morning Isabella even said, "Mom you really deserve a few hours to yourself this morning after all of this screeching (#4 sometimes isn't very pleasant in the mornings)!"

So...I dropped the girls off and bounded away!  I ran a few errands and even did a little shopping.  I forget how pleasant it can be looking at all of the pretty things in a store when I am not saying things like, "Abbey stop wrestling with your sister" or "Audrey keep your finger out of your nose!" or "Will, do you think that is the behavior I want to see?" (By the way kids love rhetorical questions.)  And just for the record, the answer is always, "No. No. That is NOT the behavior I want to see."  Funny...he often gets that one wrong.

So my morning off was just what I needed.  And the afternoon was super-productive.  

I guess that is probably not a coincidence.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

...to write

...my 200th blog!

Pretty impressive that I have stuck with it this long!

When I began this blog, I already read many different blogs myself.  Mostly ones that made me feel a bit incompetent in the areas of: house-keeping, organizational skills, time management, project doing, and mothering skills.  The blogs that I would (and continue to) skip around on are filled with amazing tips, great advice, fun ideas, personal journey's, families stories... and often are written by persons who are skilled writers.  And though I still love reading all of these types of blogs, I don't really have the skills to write on these topics.

My sister-in-law was my inspiration for this blog.  I had never thought about blogging myself.  But I did to create a journal that hopefully in the future my children can read and maybe gain some insight about me and how I think.  That while I love parenting, and spend most of my time doing it, there are so many other things that I enjoy, think about, and want to try.

It was quite a while before I told anyone that I had a blog. Mostly because I was embarrassed.  Poor Mark was one of the last to know.  I had told Kyle and Taylor and Meghan but held out telling him because I thought he would tease me about spending even more time on the computer.  Now, he is surely my biggest fan.

I wish I had some exciting way to celebrate this 200th post.  I don't.

After reflecting on this being the 200th entry, I only wished that I had kept a blog back when #1 was an only child.  Because....oh my, have I evolved in my parenting.  And maybe not for the better.

Judge for yourself.

I never would have even thought about taking Isabella for a walk in the neighborhood without making sure she was dressed perfectly!  Note her matching sandals...

Much less taken her out in public without making sure her outfit was properly accessorized...

But #3 and #4....these two little ladies are lucky.  Check out how I let them 'dress up' to go to Wal-Mart today! (I wish they were playing dress-up...these are actually the clothes that they wore...all day.)

Don't you love Audrey's hair?  She did it herself!  Yes, she is wearing sweat pants that say 'Cutie-Pie' underneath that lovely skirt of choice.

And nope...if you look closely Abbey is NOT wearing any pants.  Just leggings, her leotard, and a sweatshirt.

So...I'm a different mom today than I was when #1 was little.  Maybe better, maybe not.  But hopefully I'll have my journal to note the next several years of progress evolution of my mothering skills (or really...life's thoughts).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

...to bundle up and listen to the wind

... because "Baby It's Cold Outside!

And Yep...in case you were wondering, I am still listening to Christmas music.

It is still the Christmas season until the Ephiphany (celebrated on Sunday).  And while my poor Christmas tree had to come down (Audrey could have huffed and puffed and blown that thing over) I am still living the Christmas spirit.

And finally the weather is beginning to cooperate.  It is -1 degrees right now.

And so tonight I am sitting here: watching the Michigan football bowl game cheering on the Maize and Blue mostly because Mark can't and Will is asleep (and oh yea, Michigan State won their bowl game last night), sipping on a hot decaf latte, reflecting on coffee and the cold.

The cold doesn't bother me too much.  Maybe its the Michigander in me, but more likely it is because I have so many ways to get warm that I love:
  • A nice heavy sweater.
  • Turning the heat up just a bit.
  • Sitting next to a space heater in my nice office space.
  • Sipping on a hot drink
  • A fire in the fireplace.
My favorite part of winter is having something hot to drink.  The colder it is outside the better.  This just means the more hot drinks I get to have in a day.  And I think I have become of collector of hot drink makers.  

Of course I have a standard coffee maker.  A few years ago I received my trusty Cuisinart from my in-laws.  This is a great machine complete with a grinder.  The coffee is fresh and can be made to be ready upon awakening.  Perfect for use when a full pot of coffee is needed.  
Two years ago Mark bought me a coffee press.  Yum.  There is an art to making coffee in this way.  The press brings out such rich flavor.  I think its most useful as a conversational piece or when I have plenty of time to enjoy the process.  I have good memories of our friends the Moynihan's using a similar coffee contraption for dessert one relaxing evening together back in our Pennington days.  This piece is comforting.  

Last year for Christmas my parents bought me a Keurig.  I love this machine.  In just a minute or two I can have my hot drink of choice in my hands.  It may not be the most cost effective way to drink coffee (or other hot drink of choice) but it surely offers the most options and convenience.  

This year...this year I received a prize.  Mark and I love to sit and have a cup of coffee (mind you with raw sugar, and frothed half/half) on the rare weekend morning we don't have to rush off to a commitment.  And when we go out for a nice meal we love to linger over a cappuccino.  So this year, I was so excited that he sent me a beautiful, shiny, espresso/cappuccino/latte machine!   

This afternoon I was finally able to semi-conquer this machine.  Thankfully, after many failed attempts, I read the reviews that it takes time and patience to learn to use this machine and make a good espresso. 

So tonight I am sitting here watching the Michigan football game all cozy and warm.  Sipping on my cappuccino with a single shot of espresso sans sugar.

I am not perfect at making my new hot drink of choice (and am willing to listen to any pointers/suggestions).  But for tonight I am happy I am cozy in my home, savoring my cappuccino and hoping it stays 'cold outside' until at least a while after Mark comes home.

Because I can't wait to savor these drinks, and cold evenings by the fire maybe catching the end of March Madness together.  I'll even cheer on the Maize and Blue if I have to.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

...to think about a my 'resolutions' for this new year

...and I wanted to make them realistic.

One of the things I am pretty good about doing at the end of every year is making a photo calendar for our families every year.

And Friday night I sat down trying to make up these calendars.  Well...

Pity.  Party. Time.

The photos made me feel so sad...about all of the all of the stress and loss and change.

Have I mentioned before that change really isn't my thing?

I went to bed two hours later, without the calendars complete, and a giant headache from crying about all that I missed or happened.  My #4 being a baby.  My friends.  My kids' friends.  My house.  My job.  My husband.  My family.  My surgery.

Thank goodness I don't have many days like that.

But it made me realize that really, I am not sorry that 2011 is gone.  It really wasn't all that banner of a year.
Sure, I am probably a stronger person for it in all of the areas of my life: my faith, my marriage, being a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a friend.  But I am not sorry that year is over.

So, I haven't completed the calendars.  But I was very reflective.  And it made me think about my New Year's Resolutions.

Resolutions are hard to keep.  And, I think that the New Year is a good time to hit the re-set button.  To try to do things a little better, a little more, a little less...

So in no particular order (although I did number them) here are a few resolutions for myself:

1)  I am going to try not to make excuses for myself or my children.
  • Meaning sometimes, I might not be very good at keeping in touch.  It doesn't mean I don't want to know how my friends/family are or what they are up to.  Actually, I wish I could stay in closer contact.  But my children can be all consuming.  However, if you don't mind talking while my cherubs are chasing each other through the living room with light sabers and I am running water in the kitchen than please feel free to call.  If I can find my phone, and it is charged I will do my best to answer!
  • Similarly, if friends stop by, I am going to not make excuses as to the state of disaster that my home is probably in.  Again, I just reference my four cherubs.
  • My children.  I adore them.  I love their sweetness and their sourness.  And sometimes they are not well-behaved.  They are children.  No, they are probably not tired.  Nor are they probably hungry.  Probably, they are just grumpy.  Or rude.  I will certainly try to correct them.  But I am going to do my best to not make excuses for them.
2)  I am going to try to make better, healthy choices.
  • less fast food
  • more organic foods
  • less processed foods
  • more water
  • better recycling habits
  • more consistent exercising
  • floss every day (yeah right)
  • take my makeup off every evening (there is never enough time/energy left in a day)
They're all lumped in here together.  But I am always trying to do these things.  Maybe if I write it down I will have a little accountability.

3)  I am going to try to not volunteer for things.

I love to help others.  I love to make people feel welcome.  I love to be a part of my kids school.  But I have a lot of my plate right now.   I need to try not to take on anymore.  Meghan where are you???  I need my gate-keeper!

4)  I am going to try to read more.

I love to read.  And since both of my children have Kindles now, surely I can sneak one of them for my morning runs!  The technology of changing the font size has done wonders for helping me to read while I am on my treadmill.  And surely, this will help with my #2 resolution.

There are so many other things that I would like to do better (grocery shop), do more of (projects with the kids), do less of (drink coffee with real half/half) but I think for now, these four resolutions are good start.

So, if you are a family member waiting on a calendar, please refer to #1.  Technically this project is 'grandfathered' in for resolution #2.  So, I'll get to them.  I will.  (They just may have a start day of 1 March or 1 April.)

Give me a little time to work on them because for right now I'm going to be busy with resolutions #2 and #4.