Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thanksgiving History Lesson

You thought you knew the story of the first Thanksgiving?  You thought wrong, my friend.  Allow me to enlighten you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Wishing you many blessings, safe travels, and delicious turkey! 

Anyone traveling from Iowa to South Dakota for the holiday?  Make sure you take some Dramamine so you don't get sea-sick on the boat. 

P.S.  I just realized I spelled "Campbells" wrong, but I'm way too lazy to go back and edit the video and start this whole thing over.  We're just going to have to deal with it. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Kid is a Genius

Maybe it's that whole Third Child thing or maybe it's just him regurgitating all the chatter he hears his brothers spouting off during the day, but I am telling you that this kid is a sponge.  Once he started tossing words out, it was a flood of them and now he's obsessed with knocking his mama flat by his genius with the alphabet.

Alright, I may be exaggerating slightly, but you will definitely concede to his uber-cuteness if nothing else.

While I was at work, Evan was getting the boys ready for bed and after getting their PJs on, he had them go and clean up their toys.  He walked in on the clean up in progress in Thomas' room and this is what he found:

He just turned two in September. I feel like Doogie Howser's mother.

After he put all the alphabet blocks away, he got one more run through with Daddy for good measure.

I may not be able to do a whole heck of a lot else right, but I can make cute little humans, can't I?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Morning

The coffee maker beeped to let me know my pot was fresh and ready and as I took my first few sips, I surveyed the status of things.  After a quick glance in the mirror, I realized my option to "sleep just a little longer" had resulted in a gnarly case of bed-head.  Looks like I won't be walking Isaiah out the door to the bus stop today!

Bus  Doggonit.  I forgot to pack Isaiah a lunch again.  "You're having school lunch again today, buddy!"


I love that he didn't want to hurt my feelings so he kept his disappointment under wraps.  Love that kid.

Once my big boy is safely on the bus, it's just me and the littles.  One of those littles is still in his dinosaur footie PJs and is carrying around an Elmo sandwich cutter.

The other has already asked me for two snacks.

The toothpaste is sitting out on the counter with the cap off and the hand soap dispenser is askew.

There is pee sitting in the toilet.

The hampers are overflowing and I suddenly realize I really need a shower because I don't think that's the laundry I smell.

I pour myself another cup of coffee, careful to ration a bit because my coffee grinder broke last night so I can't make more until I go buy one and I most certainly will not be showering immediately and putting on real pants to go to the store when the wind is howling and it looks like this:

So instead, I savor that half cup of coffee and snuggle a bit with that little boy in the dinosaur PJs and look at the fireplace that my husband says I decorated too early.

My middle boy races around the living room, smashing into the couch as he experiments with his "creature powers," making the little pre-lit tree behind the couch shake just a bit.  The snowman ornament I chose for this year fits right in with the others I have started collecting for that special little tree that welcomes us home as we turn the corner and see its gentle lights sparkling in the window.

So maybe I am a little stinky.

But it's snowing outside and cozy in here.  There's still some coffee left and there are Christmas cards to address.

It's going to be a good day.   

Friday, November 22, 2013

Blog Your Heart - November Edition

Hi there.  Remember when I used to write these posts more often?  Yup, me too.  It's probably been so long that many of you will have never read a Blog Your Heart post or even know what the heck I'm talking about.  For a little recap, I'm going to borrow the words of Stephanie Howell, the host of this little party.

1. blog whatever is authentic. whatever is truly on your mind and in your heart.
2. It can be serious, silly, short, long. NOTE:no one said it has to be serious. But it should be authentic.
3. No judging allowed no snarky comments, no making fun, no passive agressive digs. Nothing here is whining, though I can't help it if you perceive it that way. It's me honestly sharing my feelings. if you feel that it's whining, then you don't have to read. :)

Ok, so that's the scoop.  Basically, it's our chance as bloggers to write whatever the heck we want to write about whatever the heck we want to write about and to join up with others doing the same thing.  If you want to see what others are pounding out on their keyboards, click on the image above to join the party, but remember the rules!

And away we go.

1.  I have blogger envy.  Like, BAD blogger envy.  I recently started working with a pretty big blogger (which I really enjoy, by the way) and I've also started trying to dip my toe in the whole "Ads and PR" pool and unfortunately I have come out feeling more jealous than ever.  While we are struggling to scrape up enough money for my husband to go buy a pair of pants without a hole in the crotch, I see bloggers all around me who are getting free washers & dryers, photo printers, iPhones, and taking vacations every other week.  To be clear, there is nothing wrong with any of that.  In fact, I really don't even want to be a "big" blogger.  I don't want every other post to be sponsored or to feel pigeon-holed in what I write.  I want to be able to write what I want to write when I want to write it, but I'm really struggling with not getting fixated on the swag.  I pour so many hours into this blog that if I were really being honest, I'd admit that it would be nice to get something out of it.

2.  The "soap" flavor of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans is absolutely horrifying.  Both Evan and I were so disgusted by it, that we chickened out and couldn't bring ourselves to try the "vomit" or "earwax" beans.  If you've never read Harry Potter and therefore have no idea what I'm talking about, I feel bad for you.  Go to the library, for the love of Butterbeer!!!

3.  I want to write a book. felt good just writing that and putting it out there.

Maybe this is part of that blogger envy coming out because it seems like every blogger I love recently has announced their book deal, but I've had this desire in my heart for a long time.  My husband's late grandmother wrote a book about their family life after the death of her husband and I can't fully describe the immense pride his family has about that book.  Everyone talks about it and everyone cherishes that book like a priceless treasure.  From the moment I entered this family, there has been talk about when someone else in the family would be the next to write a book and I desperately want to be that person.  I find myself fantasizing about what the cover would look like and doodling possible titles in my planner.  But, just as quickly I slam the door of my heart on that dream and convince myself that it isn't possible.  What on earth would I write? My creative writing skills are pathetic and the material that I write about on the blog has really already been turned into a book by about two thousand other authors.  I feel like I don't have anything authentic to offer and even if I did wake up at 3:00 am with a brilliant idea, I wouldn't even know how to go about turning it into a book. 

4.  I come up with excuses to avoid admitting how important something is to me so I won't be as disappointed.  Have you picked up on this?

5.  The other day, I took my two youngest sons with me to the bookstore in our church so I could pick up the book to go with my upcoming Bible study series and they had a great sale on Veggie Tales DVD - $5 each and it was Buy 2, Get 1 Free.  Pretty nice, huh?  We picked out three DVDs and Micah immediately asked to watch one when we got home.  With ninja-like precision, I hid the other two in my closet so they could end up in Christmas stockings, but he was just fixated on watching this particular DVD right away.  We got in the door and he raced right to the living room to bust it open.  I cautioned, "Micah please wait for Mommy to help you!" but he paid me no mind and tried to yank that DVD out of the case with such force that it snapped.  The best part?  The title of the DVD was "Larry Learns to Listen."  Nice, kiddo. 

The tantrum that followed as I threw the movie in the trash was EPIC.

6.  As it turns out, I love speaking in front of large groups.  This week, I had the opportunity to clip on a microphone and stand on a small stage to speak to the large group of women in my mother's ministry that meets every other Wednesday morning.  I can't really share yet what I spoke about, but I will tell you that it felt AMAZING.  I think my dream job would be to write books and speak to women, offering encouragement and bringing laughter.  Basically, I want to be Angie Smith, Jennie Allen or Beth Moore - complete with gorgeous hair and small waistlines. (Again, let's talk about that envy issue.)

7.  Negative comments cut right to my gut.  I got one icky comment on my last post and I immediately went on the defensive and wrote a reply, defending my position.  It bothered me for hours.  I really need to develop a thicker skin.

8. I have stopped exercising and that is not ok.  When I read this one on Stephanie's BYH, I practically yelled "Preach it!" because her sentiments echoed mine.  It's not so much about the number on the scale, but I can just feel it.  I was happier when I was running and lifting and I had more energy.  If there were some magical way for me to fine 30 hours in each day instead of 24, this problem would be solved.  Thoughts?

9.  Money stresses me out.  Big time.  I keep trying to find more and more ways to add more avenues of income to my plate, including some work from home stuff, but it still never seems to be able to cover everything and we've had several unexpected BIG expenses coming up lately that have left our finances feeling even more unstable than ever.  Even though I'm already working about as hard as I can, I keep pushing myself to do just a little bit more.  I just wonder how much harder I can push before it's too far.

10.  My kids watch way too much TV.  Ask me how much I care.

Thanks for reading!! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sitters Drive Servers Nuts - and Here's Why

Have you ever gone out to eat with an old friend (or two or three) and found yourselves talking like not a day had passed?  Before you know it, your dinner is long gone and dessert a memory, but you still have so much you want to say to one another.  What to do?

Let's take a little survey, shall we?

If you are seated in the dining room and have completed your meal, but have no interest in ordering any further food or drink, should you and your guests:

A:  Stay put.  Ask your server for more water and keep putting off paying for the check.
B:  Pay the check and move to the bar to continue your conversation.
C:  Pay the check and stay at the table, understanding that the server won't likely be returning to attend to your needs.
D:  Ask the server for their input.

I've made no secret of the fact that I've been a server for roughly twelve years and I have seen all of the above in my experience.  I can say for a fact that there is little worse than having three of the four tables in your section being taken up by "sitters," people who have stopped ordering and are just talking, many times having already paid the check.  In fact, I had a table last night who had paid their check more than an hour and a half ago, but continued to sit despite the fact that the dining room was full and we had several people waiting to be seated in the lobby.  At the two hour mark, they stopped me and asked for more water and then stuck around for nearly another hour.  When all was said and done, they left their 13% tip and went on their way.....three hours after they first sat down.

Now, I've got nothing against marathon diners and I have had several meals in restaurants with friends where we have talked and talked and talked like crazy, but I have to give the server's perspective on this issue....mostly because it's my blog.  And I can.  :)

**And for the record, this little discussion only applies to folks who are DONE ordering food and drink and are literally just SITTING for a LONG TIME and not spending.  They do not require any more of my attention as a server, none, nada, zilch.  Got it?  Good.  If you want to sit in my section and order a seven course meal followed by desserts, coffee, and after dinner cocktails and then tip me the likely 20 or 30 percent I've earned by attending to every one of your table's needs for the last three my guest.  I'm all about it.  But that's not what this post is about.  I take no issue whatsoever with the folk who want to hang out for a while when their dinner is done and chat a bit.  Doesn't bug me.  This post is about the guests who linger for an extraordinary length of time after their meal is complete - somewhere in the range of 45 minutes, an hour, or more

Option A - Stay put and put off paying for the check.
This is probably the worst choice of all of the above.  I understand the motivation behind it, really I do.  If you haven't paid the check, you guarantee that the server will be stopping back periodically to check so you know they will be available to refill your waters or maybe bring you another cocktail if you suddenly feel the urge.  But here's the problem.  By hanging on to that check and that table, you are taking up real estate in the dining room that could be used by "fresh blood," so to speak.  If a server can't turn a table, they can't make any money and if they can't make any money, they can't pay their mortgage or buy groceries.  It would be like someone placing an order with your company, receiving their purchase, and then just sitting on top of your desk without paying for their goods, leaving you stuck in your office with a desk-sitting, money-kidnapping, hostage-holding client.  Sounds fun, right?  Exactly.

Your server will likely be stalking your table until you pay that check which gets uncomfortable for you and for them.  There's a good chance you are what is keeping them from running their reports, closing out for the night, and going home to their family.  Yes, your server has a family too.  (We also have feelings, in case you were wondering.)  By holding that check hostage, you are keeping us from doing our job, earning our living, and getting our butts home at a reasonable hour.  Please, I beg of you....don't do Option A.

Option B - Pay the check and move to the bar to continue your conversation.
I understand this is likely going to sound like I'm pawning you off on our bartender, but hear me out.  This really is a decent option, but preferably if you're open to ordering just one more drink.  Obviously, our bartender wouldn't be super-thrilled to have water drinking sitters either, but allow me to explain why the moving to the bar option really is pretty great.

First, you're out of the dining room which means the server won't be stalking you anymore.  You won't see me hovering over your table to check if you would like another drink are you interested in dessert how about a cup of coffee have you tried our espresso mousse did you see all the great after dinner drinks we offer? Basically, you'll get me off your back and I can move on to annoying another table.  Win-Win.

Second, the bar is better equipped to meet the needs of folks wanting to engage in lengthy conversation because they aren't looking to "turn the tables" like we need to in the dining room.

Third, you'll feel like you've entered an episode of Cheers and who doesn't dig that?

Finally, the bartenders make FOUR TIMES the hourly wage that I do.  Yup, you got it.  The folks who sit and order nothing earn me no more than my hourly wage which hovers just about $2.00 per hour.  I think we can agree that this fact alone helps my case.

C:  Pay the check and stay at the table, understanding that the server won't likely be returning to attend to your needs.
Option C is only slightly better than Option A only because at least the server can then cut their losses and go home if the table is still sticking around long after the rest of their tables have vacated the premises.  If it's still the middle of the dinner hour and your server isn't going to be going home any time soon, both Option A and C are just plain mean.  Sorry, but it's true.
D:  Ask the server for their input.
Ding ding ding!!!  Winner winner chicken dinner, folks!!  I know it sounds strange to ask your server about this, but I promise you this is the way to go.  Your question could go something like this.

You: We are having such a good time chatting and your service has been great, but we'd really like to stick around and continue our conversation a while.  What would you suggest?

Odds are, your server will suggest the "move to the bar" option and if you're cool with that, go for it.  If not, honestly ask your server if they are currently on a wait.  If there are people waiting for a table, please take that into consideration.  Have an honest dialogue with your server and it's likely you'll find a solution that works well for both of you.  By asking your server, you can ascertain more accurately what's happening around you.  It could be that your server can say with 100% honestly that it's totally fine if you and your guest sit and chat for another half an hour since they were just cut and still have another table waiting for their dinner and has all their side work left to do.  By all means, sit away!  Chat to your heart's content!

Seriously....ask your server.

Bottom Line - Before you become "a sitter," please just take a moment to be aware of your surroundings and be considerate to your server and the other guests around you who may be waiting to sit down and enjoy a meal as well.  Believe me, your experience will improve because of it!

For the record, every word of this post is my opinion and mine alone.  Nothing I have written reflects the in any way on the opinion of my employer or my co-workers.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thanks Baby

Thomas and I have this special little thing and I'm already dreading the day when it goes away.  I get to put him down for his nap on most days, but usually I only get to put him to bed for the night twice a week at most because of my work schedule.  Needless to say, I really cherish those moments I get with him before he goes to sleep.

We're really blessed to have a kid who usually doesn't fight bedtime very much.  In fact, he has recently extended his "I do it" philosophy to this routine and will go find Blankee and George and march himself to his room.  He climbs on top of his obnoxious toy train (that we never replaced the batteries in so we won't have to listen to its mind-numbing sounds ever again) and turns off the light.  He proclaims, "Did it!" and then closes the door.

And I just sit in our chair and watch.

I watch him take control of something so simple as going to bed and take an enormous amount of pride in it.  I watch his eyes light up when he realizes he is finally big enough to scale to a height tall enough to flip that light switch.  I watch as he puts on a show and relishes in my praise of his accomplishments. 

Then he runs to me.

It's the best part.  He toddles over to me and reaches his arms out to their full extent.  I hand over his loveys and he smashes them into his face.  That Blankee is seriously gross despite my best efforts to steal it from him and wash it on the sly a couple times a week, but he loves it like a member of the family.  He wraps his arms around George and pulls him tight before he gives in to the moment and lays back against me.

He buries the top of his head under my chin, where it fit perfectly in the curve of my neck.  We pray together and rock the chair slowly back and forth as his breathing slows.  Usually he has me give George a kiss goodnight.  I breathe in the soft scent that lingers in the tendrils atop his head and his clumsy little hand often push mine off of his arms or legs because I was squeezing him too tight. 

We just rock back and forth for a couple minutes, quietly. 

Then I tell him it's time for bed and I say to him, "I love you Thomas!"  His face turns toward mine and he whispers, "Toooo." 

"You love me too, Thomas?"
"Oh, thank you."
"Thank you Mommy." 

Thank you for the stolen moments in the dark, just the two of us.  Thank you for sleeping happily in your crib because I'm just not ready for the Big Boy Bed yet.  Thank you for coming to me to make it feel better when your brother body-slams you and for laughing when I tickle your bare toes as you eat your breakfast.  Thank you for forgiving me when I lose my patience or when my agenda trumps your independent streak.  Thank you for insisting on kissing it better when I stub my toe on the coffee table.  Thank you for your willingness to play and to learn.

Thank you for being my baby for just a little while longer. 

For you, I'll watch the Curious George Halloween special for the seventy-fifth time.  For you, I'll hold out my hand so you can give me the peels from the apple you're eating.  For you, I'll try really hard to be ok with being a couple minutes late so you can climb into your carseat all by yourself. Don't tell your brothers, but you have me wrapped around your finger a little bit.

"I do it," you say.

Yes you certainly do, baby.  You do it. 

(Love you, kiddo.)

Friday, November 15, 2013

It Can't Always be Funny

Sometimes it's about waking up to the sound of screaming at 2 am.  After wiping tears and calming fears only to peel your eyelids open a few hours later and hear your spouse say, "Wow.  I never heard a thing." 

Sometimes it's about calling a friend because of the feeling in your gut that something is really wrong, only to have her call you back an hour later, sobbing because your call came at "exactly the right time" with exactly what she needed to hear.

Sometimes it's about not knowing what to say when someone you love insults you.  Wondering about how to handle it, if it's best to just swallow it and let it go or be honest about how deep this wounds you.

It's about feeling the desperate need for replenishment, for rest, for restoration....but not the means.  Feeling like there's an essential piece of you missing, but being unable to find it because you're already divided up among so many others.

It can't always be about goofy potty conversations and messy kitchens.  Interwoven in the routines of the day is very real discontent, frustrations, anxiety, and fear.  And it's so hard to combat it when there's barely time to breathe, let alone to read, to rest, to recharge, to run, to connect, to study truth.

Sometimes it's about very real anger that explodes out over a simple request for peanut butter sandwiches for lunch or raw frustration over a schedule gone rogue.

Sometimes it's takes all of us, every ounce and then some, to hold it together until naptime.

Maybe, if we're very lucky, that naptime will be quiet and still.  The baby will be breathing slowly and heavily within minutes and the big kid will be engrossed in a Lego masterpiece or the imaginary world of pirates and mermaids.  It might only be for ten minutes.  I wish I could say that ten minutes is enough, that the brief sliver of calm it brings is enough to sit down, to relax, to open the Word and set everything right.

But it rarely is.  Sometimes it's not even enough time to complete a solo bathroom trip before someone is throwing plastic ninja stars at the door and demanding you come tie on their cape or zip their pants.  Or both.

How do others do it?

How do they rise early every day without the fatigue destroying them mid-afternoon while I struggle to keep my eyes open on the drive home from work?
How do they lace up the running shoes every day and fit in 5 miles on the trail while mine lie buried in the closet?
How do they turn the pages until chapter after chapter lies in the rear-view mirror while my books collect dust on my bedside table?
How do they meet with the Lord daily and immerse themselves in his Word when I desperately grasp at random minutes in the day to open its pages without spilling my reheated coffee on the thin paper?
How do they pray so intensely and faithfully when I find myself just rattling off a shopping list of requests?

It can't always be funny.  

Sometimes it's just plain hard.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!   (Psalm 27:14)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A 3:15 PM Conversation

Micah: Mommy, I all done!

Me: Ok, buddy.  Start with four squares.  Wipe, fold, then wipe again.

Micah: I want to do a Star Wars puzzle.

Me:  Sure, honey.  Let's just finish this first.

Micah:  Did you pause Snow White?

Me:  No I didn't.

Micah:   So I'm going to miss it?

Me:  A little bit, yes.

Micah:  Did Luke Skywalker have to go poop on the spaceship?

Me:  Ummmm, yeah.  He probably did.

Micah: There's poop on my tentacles.

Me:  They're called testicles, honey.  

Micah:  Can I go watch Snow White now?  

Me:  Wash your hands first.

Micah:  But they're clean!  Here....smell it!  

Me: I'll be in the kitchen.   

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Things I Found While Cleaning out the Minivan

The grandparents are taking our kids on a sleepover this weekend so the hubby and I can have a much-needed date night (can I get a HALLELUJAH??!!), but due to some transportation challenges, we will have to swap vehicles.  They get to drive our sticky, messy, dented minivan and Evan gets to drive their Focus which is not likely to be stained with apple juice or have a month old french fry crammed in the corner.

Not today. In fact, it is cold, windy, and miserable today. But, this goes to show you how long it has been since the van was cleaned at all.  Oops.

Because I love my in-laws and also because I would have been mortified to actually send the van to them in that condition, I took a solid five minutes out of my afternoon to go haul all the trash out of the Mom Mobile before turning it over to them.

Again, five minutes.

This is what I found.

  • a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle
  • a used Band-Aid
  • 3 gloves  
  • 2 socks
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • a copy of Curious George 2 that has been missing for at least a month
  • the Sunday paper
  • a stale french fry
  • yellow yarn
  • my gym bag (Bahahaha!!!!)
  • a rotten apple core
  • earbuds
  • a Milwaukee Brewers bobble-head
  • 4 stickers from the checkout line at Target
  • a birthday card
  • Simba from The Lion King
  • a drawing of Moses leading the people of Israel through the desert
  • a coupon for a free dish of frozen custard at Culver's (score!) 
I find it adorable that there are people out there who are able to keep their vehicles clean.  I bet it's the same people who have their shirts ironed, their DVDs in alphabetical order, and the Tupperware drawer neatly stacked. 


(Before I get any nasty emails or comments, I am not really calling anyone a freak.  I'm merely expressing how foreign of a concept this is to me.  If anyone is a legitimate freak around here, it's clearly me.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

98% Clueless

No matter what all the books that adorn the shelves of Barnes & Noble say, when it comes to parenting, there are way more questions than there are answers.  Even after you've managed to keep one or two kids alive to the point where they can walk and talk with a relative degree of success and you think you just might have this gig all figured out....BAM!  Something happens that slams your right back into that "I have no clue what I'm doing" state of reality.

What's really hilarious is when people see you doing your thing and for some reason think you know what the heck you're doing.  I had a moment like this yesterday when we were leaving from our playdate.  We had gone to this incredibly cool indoor play zone thing where there are themed rooms for the kids to destroy play in like a grocery store room, a dino dig room, a construction room, a dress-up room, and even a room with a pirate ship.  To top it off, there's a huge play structure in the middle of the complex where the kids can climb and slide and smack each other with beanbags to their heart's content while the parents lounge on the over-sized sectional sofa nearby discussing what happened on the latest episode of The Walking Dead over their fourth cup of coffee.

It's pretty freaking awesome.

Anyway, it was time to head out and I rallied my two troops with frequent warnings of "10 minutes until we need to go home" followed by "5 minutes until it's time to go" and then the dreaded, "Ok boys! Time to get your coats on!"  I held my breath slightly, but I'll be darned if my boys didn't snap right to it and march to the coat rack to start suiting up for the trek home.

Meanwhile, my friend's baby was screaming bloody murder and her toddler was in a Stage 1 tantrum that was threatening to escalate quickly.  She looked at me incredulously and commented, "I'm so impressed that your boys listen so well to you! They're ready to go without even a word!"

Oh, honey.  If only you could have seen the code red mega-meltdown that took place the last time I tried to make them leave this joint.  It was epic, girlfriend.  In fact, I honestly have no clue what is making them act so.....normal right now. They're probably going to ask me for candy as soon as we get in the van.

The fact of the matter is that I don't know what I'm doing.  I just make this up as I go along and hope I'm not creating any kind of personality disorder along the way.

Every day I ask more questions than I get answers:

Why is there toothpaste on the clock? 

What is the appropriate punishment when your four year old tries to throw a chair at his teacher?

How long has this sippy cup of milk been buried in the toy bin? 

Should I really put him in Time Out for hitting his brother because he called the Star Wars character by the wrong name?  (I mean, this is stuff he needs to know.)  

Why do my son's hands smell like that?

How is it possible that the left shoe is always missing?

What's so great about playing with Legos naked?

Questions like this aren't answered in the parenting books.  It's just all part of the fun of flying by the seat of your pants. 

By the way, we made a friendly wager in our house the other day.  Micah was in our bedroom watching a movie and it had been quiet for a while.  Evan said to me, "What do you think are the odds his pants are off?"  I thought about it for a moment and replied, "50/50."  He agreed and cast his vote for "off," but I went with "on."  We went about our business, but I think it was maybe only two minutes later when we had to go see who won. 

For the record - pants were on. 

Yeah, I may not have much of a clue what I'm doing from one day to the next, but I do know the WHY.  I know that I have been entrusted with the stewardship of these kids.  For some reason that I will never understand for as long as I live, I have been given the privilege of parenthood.  If that's not proof that God has a sense of humor, I don't know what is. 

I'm going to keep fishing the remote out of the cracks between the couch cushions, keep crawling on my hands and knees to find that missing Lego Guy helmet, keep scrubbing the splatters off the bathroom walls.  I'm going to keep wiping the tears, keep breaking up the fights, keep cooking the dinners they probably won't eat.  I'm going to keep saying yes whenever possible, keep saying no when it's for their own good, and keep giving in to ice cream runs at bedtime every once in a while.

I'm going to keep going, keep loving the daylights out of those kids because He has trusted me with them.  They are precious to Him.

We were designed for one another, my kids and me.  And God definitely knew he had to make mine extra cute to keep me from tossing them out the window on the days when they decide to use their dirty underwear as weapons or the diaper cream as body paint.

I may not have much of a clue what I'm doing, but I'm sure glad I get to figure it out.   

Monday, November 11, 2013

Punching Snowflakes

I have precisely 20 minutes before I have to get out of my "blogging chair" and start getting ready for work, so let's bust out a blog post, shall we?

Ladies and gentlemen, it's snowing.

Unfortunately, it is snowing for the first time this season on the very day that I promised my four year old I would take him to the zoo.  In fact, his older brother heard about this plan and got very upset that his younger brothers were going to go to the zoo without him and he proceeded to lecture me about how it was "so not fair" and then stamped up and down in protest.  Any attempt I made to explain that he was required by law to be at school fell on deaf ears.  It's hard to talk someone down when they are perched on the Cliff of Nofair.

In any case, my plans were thwarted by the onset of yet another winter here in Wisconsin.  One of these years, the miraculous is going to happen and we are going to skip it completely, I swear.  Won't that be fantastic?  No slippery roads, no icy windshields to scrape, no shoveling the driveway.  And most importantly, no 20 minute ordeal wrestling with snow pants, snow boots, mittens, hats, and wet socks every single time the kids want to go outside and then come back in five minutes later because - NEWS FLASH - it's COLD out there!

Isn't there a way we can have the prettiness of snow without all the nasty side effects?  It would be kind of like finding a diet pill that makes you lose weight super fast, but doesn't carry with it the undesirable side effects like uncontrollable tremors, blurred vision, or anal leakage.

Sorry.....I guess that was kind of gross.  But that is probably the most horrifying side effect next to death, wouldn't you say?

Wait, what was this post about?  Snow?  I guess I got distracted by my son catching wind of the fact that I must be trying to do something important because he just climbed up into my lap and tried to steal my wedding rings.

I can't make this stuff up, people.

So Isaiah was mad because I was going to take his brothers to the zoo where we would freeze our tushies off in the 32 degree weather and get pelted with rain/sleet/snow all morning.  Honestly, I'm not really sure what he was all ticked off about.  Regardless, I changed our plans at the last minute and I sent an email to my fellow playdate mamas to meet at a local indoor play center instead.  As a special bonus, it was free coffee day.  Why on earth wouldn't they make every day free coffee day? 

Now Micah's wailing because a Papa John's delivery car just pulled up to the curb in front of our house and the delivery man brought a pizza to the house across the street.  He is claiming to be "soooooo hungry that he's staarrrrrrving."  Who orders pizza at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Monday??  Weird.

I disappointed Micah a lot today, I guess. 

No, we aren't going to the zoo anymore. 
No, you can't punch snowflakes. 
No, you can't go ask the neighbors for a slice of pizza. 
No, I won't order a pizza just for you. 
No, you can't eat Iron Man's helmet. 
No, you are not going to go live in a treehouse.  (At least not now that winter has shown up.)

I love that boy so much.

Dang.  Time's up.  Better go get ready for work and hope that I don't have to explain to Isaiah that his brother swallowed his birthday present. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Painful Day for Packers Fans

Packers fans are the best football fans on the planet and I dare anyone to prove me wrong.  Our loyalty is being tested this year. 

After our main man, Aaron Rodgers went down last week with a fractured collarbone and we ended up falling to our arch nemesis, the Chicago Bears, things looked grim.  Sure, we had always wondered what would happen if we lost A-Rod, if we would be able to win without him at the helm, but I think it's safe to say that none of us wanted to actually test that theory out.

But Heaven help me if watching the game against the Eagles today wasn't one of the most painful football games I have ever watched.  Literally.

As our guys started dropping like flies, including our backup QB, that "Keep Calm and Packer On" mentality became increasingly more difficult. 

But when a blown call by the refs nullified a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown that may have been the turning point we needed, I had to leave the room.  I cut myself a slice of birthday cake and grabbed the bottle of wine out of the fridge.  Upon further review, I put the wine back and added some M&Ms to the cake plate.

I couldn't take it anymore.  I couldn't spend one more moment listening to Troy Aikman saying things like, "The Eagles are just running it down the Packers throats" now or "And now Nick Perry is down on the field."

I put the TV on mute and tried to blog.

But I couldn't because all I could think about was the game.  Because that's what real Packers fans are like, folks.  It gets in us.  It becomes part of who we are.  I mean, why the heck else would we wear giant foam hats shaped like wedges of cheese?  We're a crazy crew, to be sure. 

I tried to blog about something upbeat and light for you to find on your Monday morning, but instead I wrote this. The Packers have a difficult time ahead of them, but they can rest assured that Packer Nation is behind them through thick and thin.

Then I found out that the Lions beat the Bears and are now in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. 

I went back for the wine.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Because the Cleaning Can Wait

A couple days ago, I found myself eating a bowl of Cocoa Krispies while I snuggled on the couch with Micah and watched The Croods.  While I munched on my mediocre cereal, I realized a couple things:

1.  I must be hormonal or something because why the heck else would I eat a bowl of Cocoa Krispies in the middle of the day....especially after I had already been stealing chocolate candy bars from the kids' Halloween bags since the sun came up.  Seriously, my breakfast that day was a Jimmy Dean Delights sandwich made with egg white for a grand total of 250 calories.  And a Twix Bar.  And an Almond Joy.  And ok fine....a Butterfinger too!!

2.  I really should have been cleaning since my house still looked pretty much exactly like the photos I took for Monday's post, but I thought about how that was approximately 30 days worth of work and I had a grand total of 30 minutes to spare before the big kid would get off the bus and I would have to start coming up with some kind of plan for supper.

So I left my tush on that couch.

Because sometimes, I need that half an hour to just be still.  To leave my boy's head rested against my chest.  To occasionally reach up and run my fingers through his hair or poke him in the side to make him giggle.  When he looked at me with that little side dimple and said, "Mommy you come cuddle by me?" - how could I refuse?

All too soon, the door flew open and suddenly there were fights to break up, lunch boxes to unpack, pasta to boil, hamburger to brown, tables to set, phone calls to answer and on and on and on.

But for that 30 minutes, it was just us and the caveman family.  And it was AWESOME. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

It's Not About the Nail

Programming Note: Please watch the following video before reading the text of this post or none of this is going to make sense.  Seriously.  You'll think I've gone loony tunes. 

Dear Husband,

It's not about the nail.  Yes, I realize that it makes precisely zero sense, but that's just the way it is.  I love you and I know that you love me too, which is why you want to act swiftly and decisively to solve my problem and yank that nail right out so I can be quickly be cured of what ails me, I will stop my complaining and we will jump immediately in the sack.


Except it's not about the nail. 

It's about how others respond to me when I walk down the street with the nail.  Can they see it too?  Do they think less of me because of it?  Are they judging me?  Perhaps they too are dealing with a nail or maybe its slightly less obnoxious cousin, the thumbtack.  If they handle it better than I do, does that mean I'm weak?  Or stupid?

It's not about the nail.

It's about the frustration that the nail causes.  It's about the insecurity I feel about having acquired the nail.  It's about how I feel like I'm the only one in the whole world who is dealing with this kind of nail.
If you go in there, hammer blazing, and take that thing out in a hot minute, I will be left feeling stupid or foolish for not having the strength or the courage to do it myself.  Or what if ripping the nail out only makes things worse?  What then? What if the nail hole left behind is even more difficult to you really want that on your conscience? 

It's not about the nail.

So I'm going to keep snagging my sweaters, dealing with the achy head, and struggling with the relentless pressure that I'm scared will never end.  It's not that I want you to ignore the nail or pretend it doesn't exist, it's just that I want you to acknowledge that dealing with the nail must be super-difficult and then treat me to a pedicure or a surprise date night because you're so in awe of my nail-enduring tenacity.

Unless of course the nail gets in the way of you getting lucky, in which case I realize I will probably wake up to find you prying away at my forehead with the claw end of a hammer.

Your crazy wife

(And just so we're clear, I think the video is an hilariously accurate representation of multiple conversations exchanged between my beloved and me.  That's why I had to share it!)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Micah Mystery

Dryer trolls have stolen our DVD remote.

Really, it's the only logical explanation I can come up with because I have turned this house upside down in the name of finding that elusive little plastic rectangle of fury and I simply cannot find the dumb thing.

When I left for work on Friday, Micah was acting out the battle scene between Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Count Dooku with our darling babysitter, Stephanie.  She had agreed to be the bad guy and wielded the red lightsaber while Micah's blue "good guy" weapon blazed back and forth in Jedi-fueled fury.  I kissed his head and told him to take it easy on Stephanie since she had not been trained in the Jedi arts for as long as he had.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the remote resting safely in the box that I call "the remote control box" because it is, you know, where the stinking remote controls are supposed to go.

I left for work.

Upon my return, my husband informed me that the remote was missing.  I said that was impossible because when I had left the building, the remote was safe in its home.  How could it possibly be missing?

Of course, the first question I asked in an attempt to solve this mystery was:
Which Star Wars episode was Micah watching when you got home?

Here's the thing about my Micah, bless his heart.  He has a knack for making things he touches disappear.  Or break.  Or wind up covered in pee.

When we can't find his shoes, we look in the bathroom and we usually find at least one behind the toilet.  The other one has been discovered in Thomas' toy box, under the covers in his bed, or even in the costume box.  I will put socks on that child only to find him bare footed seven minutes later with no trace of the socks in sight.  They usually turn up two months later when I actually get around to sweeping under our couches.

But I've looked in all those places, including under the couches, and the DVD remote isn't there.

So the only logical conclusion is that the same trolls who steal socks in the dryer have stolen my DVD remote so they can watch movies while we sleep.  It's the only thing that makes sense.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Project Life Tuesday - Week 35

The Mom Creative

Welcome to Project Life Tuesday!  Every week I share the layout I've been working on, either in my family's weekly book or my son's baby book.  I started using the Project Life system in 2010, so this will be my fourth full year!  I used to be a very traditional scrapbooker who would spend hours on a single layout to document one or two photos.  Thanks to Project Life, I have become much more practical and I'm able to record a multitude more memories.

If you're looking for inspiration on what others are doing with their Project Life, you can check out my board on Pinterest and be sure to link up on The Mom Creative!

Although I am typically use a hybrid style combining digital and traditional elements, project "Get Caught Up on My Album" has officially begun, which is why you see a LOT more digital stuff here than I usually do.  In the name of git 'er done, my mouse and I have been hard at work in Photoshop Elements.

If you follow along over on The Mom Creative, you have already seen Week 35 because I shared it over there when I guest posted last week.  But it might still be new for some of you, so away we go!

Left Page: 

Products Used - Soccer Theme PackKraft Edition, Summer Theme Pack, Design A digital template,
The Kraft Edition is one of my favorite Project Life kits.  I love the vibrant colors, the fun designs, and the versatility the kit provides.  I did change the colors of several elements on this layout and I added some drop shadows to some of my photos and text, but that's really the extent of the digital maneuvers I used.

Confession time - Every single photo on the page is from my iPhone.  I love having it handy to snap shots throughout the day and my favorite app for editing those photos is Pic Tap Go.

Right Page:

For the soccer card in the top left corner, I used a 4x6 journal card from the Soccer Kit, but I changed the color of the journaling section from the stark white it is designed with to the cream color of the Kraft Edition.  That is one advantage to digital - if you don't like the color of can just change it!  

Zoo Insert:  Products used - Summer Theme Pack, Design A digital template

When I print this out, this layout will actually go back to back in a single Design A page in the middle of Week 35, but it was easiest to show it to you this way for the sake of BlogWorld. For this insert about our trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo, I kept things very simple.  My 4x6 spots are mostly just straight-up photos and the 3x4 spots are dominated by journaling.  

Side A:

I suppose it's kind of weird to be featuring the Summer Theme Pack when it's getting colder by the minute outside, but it's nice to relive those beautiful days!

Side B:

There you have it. I'm holding out some hope that I will get a little time to start working on Week 36 this week, but who know if it will actually happen.  Regardless, I still love using Project Life as my memory keeping system and I have no plan to stop any time soon! :)

The Mom Creative

Monday, November 4, 2013

10 Simple Strategies for a Clean and Organized Home

We all lead busy lives.  Between work, family responsibilities, hours wasted playing Candy Crush, and the time needed to edit and post Pulitzer-worthy photos on Instagram, who the heck has time for housework?  Not this girl, that's for sure.  That's why I've developed this handy list of 10 sure fire strategies for ensuring your home remains in tip-top shape without even breaking a sweat.

So brew a fresh pot of coffee and pour yourself a nice, hot cup.  Once you've handled whatever tantrum your toddler has to dish out, administered a Time Out or two, changed a diaper and maybe even nursed the baby, come on back to your now cold cup of coffee and read this list to alleviate all your housekeeping woes.

Nothing can instantly transform a bedroom better than clean sheets and a neatly made bed.  Develop a system that works for you so you remember to swap out the bedding.  For me, I always change our sheets when I notice that my husband's pillowcase is turning black from all the head sweat.  I wait a couple days until I become really grossed out by it and then I throw everything in the washing machine.  If I remember to put it in the dryer before I head to work, I leave it piled on top of the bed until midnight so we are forced to make the bed before going to sleep.  For kids' bedding, I recommend stripping the bed at 4 am when someone wets the bed and everything is soaked in pee.  Leave the soiled sheets on the floor to be dealt with at a more reasonable hour and just toss a Spiderman sleeping bag on top of the mattress for the few remaining hours of sleep.  When you finally get around to washing the pee sheets the following day, go ahead and grab the other bedding from additional kids.  But only if you have had a hot cup of coffee or two to motivate you.  If not, I'm sure their sheets are still just fine.

When you're pressed for time in the morning, the last thing you want to do is dig through dresser drawers or paw through the closet in search of something to wear.  Keeping a pile of semi-clean and comfortable clothes on the floor next to the bed is a great way to assemble an outfit suitable for a trip to Walmart at a moment's notice.

We have developed a fantastic system for laundry in our house - one person does all the washing, drying, and putting away of clothes and the other is in charge of folding.  That way, when the laundry baskets look like this, you know exactly who to blame!  It alleviates any finger-pointing or confusion.

Kids grow fast.  It seems like they are constantly growing out of the clothes that fit so perfectly yesterday, so keeping a couple plastic bins in the the closet is a great way to store the items that no longer fit and to keep bigger sizes on hand.  I like to have the bigger sizes in a tote on the bottom and leave the top bin empty so I can toss the outgrown items on top of it, creating a pile of clothing on top of the Tote Tower of Terror.  Sure, I could actually open the bin and put the clothes inside, but that sounds like a whole lot of work and I just got three new Twitter followers today, so I really can't be bothered with such nonsense. 

Speaking of closets, what good are they if the items they hold are not logically organized and well-designed?  For instance, I like to shove all my scarves into an enormous pile that takes up an entire shelf in my closet.  When I lean over the piles on the floor to grab one, it's always a surprise to see which one I end up with.  This leads to unexpected color combinations that can jazz up any tired wardrobe!  Keep frequently worn items front and center for easy access.  At a glance, I can grab my trusty grey cardigan, my leopard print belt, and favorite black boots.  Sassy outfit with colorful scarf?  Done and done.

The importance of organization extends to the little ones in the house too.  Make sure to have designated, color-coded bins for the toys to make it much easier at clean up time for the kids to toss stuff everywhere and anywhere, making it impossible to find the green train (NOT the red one!!!!) the next morning when you should have left the house 8 minutes ago.  Plus, no 4 am trip to change pee sheets is really complete without stepping on a LEGO with bare feet.

It's bad enough that they have to live in the darkness under your TV stand, loveseat, or in the crevice behind the garbage can.  When we give our dust bunnies the dignity of a name, it lessens our guilt for leaving them to dwell in these conditions for an an undetermined length of time.  Plus, making the housekeeping process fun for your children is crucial to getting them more involved in helping you avoid it and what better way than to let them name your new pets!?

School papers, bills, coupons, fliers, and forms are constantly streaming into the house.  It's crucial to create an organized filing system for corralling all that clutter.  Once you've set up the color coded file folders in the newly dubbed "Command Center" of your home, ignore it completely and keep dumping everything in semi-chaotic piles all over the kitchen counter.  It keeps all important documents much more accessible and readily available for you to grab at a moment's notice.

Be creative when it comes to storage!  There are nooks and crannies all over your house with untapped storage potential.  For example, this space on top of the microwave is perfect for keeping piles of Target circulars, coupons, kids' art, and birthday cards from two years ago.

Get those kids involved!  Keeping a clean and organized home shouldn't fall solely on the parents' shoulders.  After all, we have so many other things to keep up with and it's important to teach them responsibility!  So, put a broom in that toddler's hand, put your feet up, and start scrolling on Pinterest, my friend.  Why should you have to do EVERYTHING???

As you can see, home maintenance doesn't have to be overwhelming.  Put these ten simple strategies into practice and I guarantee you'll feel more at home in your home in no time.  Now if you'll excuse me, the water & sewer bill is due this week and I need to pull out the microwave to look for it.   

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