Oct 26, 2009

Maybe I will sleep with my door locked tonight

Matthew is quite the little smart mouth. Tonight he was being a pain and being naughty, so I sent him to bed 30 minutes early. He stormed up to his room, very angry at me; I could hear his toys being flung and him storming around up there. I planned on letting him blow off some steam, and then go up there to talk to him and then hug and kiss him goodnight and talk to him about his behavior.

While he was cooling down, Austin went upstairs to get some pajamas for Sophie out of Matthew's room, and I hear them arguing and then I hear Matthew say "IF YOU TELL HER, I WILL KICK YOU!!!" Austin came running downstairs with a silly smile on his face and explained that he needed to tell me what Matthew said. I guess in a fit of rage, my darling sweet son turned into some sort of monster when he told Austin angrily "Next time I see Mommy with a knife, I am going to tell her I hope she cuts her head off!"

The problem with this statement, is that it would be nearly impossible for me to keep a straight face when confronting him about it. After having a giggle and updating my Facebook page, I called my parents to take turns telling them one of my near-famous "Matthew Stories". They also had a giggle and then I mustered as much composure as I could and "angrily" marched upstairs.

Matthew was very remorseful and said he let some angry words come out and that he was very sad about what he said. He claimed he tried to say "next time I see mommy with a knife, I am going to tell her I hope she cuts some vegetables", but the other words just slipped out. This is where I had to turn my head and hold my breath to keep from cracking up. He apologized freely and we talked about how it was not okay to be naughty like he had been when I sent him to bed early, and that he needs to try not to have angry words, because once the words are out they cannot go back and can hurt someone's feelings. I gave him a hug and a kiss goodnight, and surprisingly enough he went to bed fairly easily. I have a feeling he was tired in the first place, causing the naughty behavior in the first place that led to angry words. Having a four year old is an adventure.

Oct 23, 2009

Give, and you will receive.

I need to write this to clear away the black rain cloud that drifted in and tried to take over my good mood, especially since what brought me down was well intentioned and nothing worth fussing over.

Tonight at the grocery store, I got a reminder of something that happened to us years back and the funny little "coincidences" that remind you how life is just a series of circles in a great big circle. About eleven years ago, we were at the Post Exchange buying some necessities when the total came up to more than what we had. The cashier told us not to worry about it and she would cover the difference as we were spending the very last of our money. We were 11 cents short and joked for the rest of our lives we would carry 11 cents. Eleven years ago, eleven cents.

Tonight I decided to make breakfast for dinner, but when we pulled out the ingredients we found we only had 3 eggs, so I took off to the grocery store to get some eggs. When I got in line, there was a woman two people in front of me, and she looked upset and the cashier was ignoring her as best as she could by talking to one of the people in front of me. With a sad look she said "I guess I will have to figure out what I can live without", so I leaned over and I said "how much are you short ma'am?" and she said "eleven cents, can you believe I don't have any dimes or pennies?" I always try to keep at least one of every coin in my wallet, so I did not hesitate to pass up my last penny and dime, I knew I would eventually replace it. She was very grateful and I was happy to have finally had a chance to pay forward my 11 cent debt with the world...lol My eggs, which were $1.89 each, somehow rang up to $2.78 and when the change was spit out, I got back TWO dimes and TWO pennies. Even though it was just my own change, it was a neat little reminder that every thing you put into this life will be returned to you in duplicate, good or bad. And sometimes, you get what someday you will give back.

Oct 20, 2009

The Grapes of Wrath

My darling daughter has a dark side. She is absolutely addicted to grapes. There is no other food on this earth that makes me as happy as grapes, and no other food that makes her scream more. She signs "more grapes" all day long. She will let out the loudest, shrillest squawk every time she sees grapes. We can be in the grocery store, at home, in a restaurant, it does not matter. She absolutely flipped her top over fake grapes the other day, even after the discovered they were rubber, she *still* cried for them.

Today I made her a sandwich, and gave her some grapes on the side (I have to restrict them to one time a day now), and she gobbled down the grapes and then screamed for more, completely ignoring her sandwich, her milk, her cheese and even a blueberry muffin. We cannot even say the word without her getting upset if they don't appear on her tray. We have been reduced to spelling the word when she is in earshot.

The other day I was making a grocery list, after my 4 year old hijacked the list and wrote "candy" on it (with spelling help from his brother), and then asked him "Austin, how do you spell fried chicken?", I asked Sophie if there was anything she wished to add to the list and she signed "more grapes". Months earlier I had taken her to Costco and she starts wigging out saying the word more repeatedly and signing more. I finally saw on the other side of the room was a box of grapes.

I do hope this phase comes to an end soon, or she potty trains soon. Grapes are not digested fully and are not fun at diaper changes. I am sure you can get your own mental image without me painting a picture, so I will leave it at that. Luckily, grapes have been on sale, and all the kids enjoy them, but man I wish she would mix it up a bit and find a few different foods to love.

Oct 19, 2009

Questioning my sanity and realizing my mortality.

I am so sore today, I have found all the muscles in my body, especially in my butt. This morning while crawling into my van I actually checked to see if I was sitting on something.... nope, it was just my swollen glutes. My hands felt bruised when holding the steering wheel. I felt beat up. How did I sustain these injuries? Well, for one, it was a direct result of not listening. It was a secondary response to me not realizing when I was out of my league.

Let's start at the beginning. Yesterday I was bored. It was 2pm and I was up the night before until 4am so I was feeling tired and stir crazy and I decided a nice fall walk in the unseasonably warm weather would be just what I need. I posed an invitation to my local friends on Facebook to suggest a great place to visit with the baby on my back, the three kids on foot, and our two large dogs. It was suggested that I take the kids & dogs to Helen Hunt Falls. I stopped by the grocery store on the way and got energy bars and we had water bottles, a backpack and were ready to go. My GPS could not find Helen Hunt falls, so I set it to Seven Falls, a pay-to-visit area nearby the free Helen Hunt Falls. I now know this was my first mistake.

It was a beautiful drive once I got to the Broadmoor area of town. The temperature was near perfect, the air was clean and crisp. The trees were a lush array of yellows and reds and there was a small dusting of leaves below them. The red rocks towered above us, as the road narrowed to a small guard-post where we paid our $20 entrance fee. This is what lead to the second mistake.

We head a couple miles up a very narrow road to the parking area and chaotically unload kids and pets and jackets and packs. I put the baby in a pack on my back and take the Great Dane. Christopher gets the backpack as the Golden Retriever is too much for him to handle. The dogs excitedly yank us up the hill to the falls pulling us to each new person, smell, chipmunk, or dog.

The view from the top of our second trip up the mountain, this time via the elevator across from the falls.  LOL

The visitor center had a small walk-through next to a stream on the left of it. The water was crystal clear and small fish swam around. If you have ever been to Disney and been on splash mountain, you will remember how happy the ride was until moments before you took the death defying plunge to the bottom. I felt much this way as the stairs emerged before us. Remember where I said paying $20 was my second mistake? That is because I figured if we paid for it, we might as well enjoy it, right? So the sign at the bottom of the falls warn you that the climb is 224 steps. Two HUNDRED and twenty four.

Bottom of the falls.

It was probably around step 50 and the dogs freaked out with the height that I realized what a huge mistake I had made. I was cursing the friend who recommended this death trap and feeling overwhelmed by a 95 pound dog who's attitude about the steps is to just run up as fast as she could to get it over with, dragging me and the baby along with her.

That is one wild stair climb.

At the first platform we took a small break to drink a little water and mentally prep for the second climb. There was another woman with a tiny toy poodle and a baby. My dogs were trying to mess with the puppy and felt like they were pulling our arms out of our sockets in order to sniff the puppy. When the stairs cleared I decided we had better press on while we could.

Close up of the falls and the middle landing.  Half way up the dogs and the four year old decided they were afraid of heights!  lol

It was about halfway up the second set of stairs that I felt like my lungs were about to explode. Matthew was scared and clinging to the rails, Isis was trying to drag me up to be with Austin and Chloe, and I feel like I am going to die. There were people waiting at the top to climb down so I pressed on, red faced, out of shape, and winded.

At the top of the stairs, there was another 2 hour round trip to Helen Hunt's burial site, but at 4pm I started freaking out that we had started way too late, that I was exhausted, and most importantly that we had to get the dogs back down those steps, potentially in the dark! Austin and I were deciding how we were going to get the dogs down the stairs and I think we had just decided that when we got back to the stairs, that Austin and Chris would go down with one dog, and Chris would wait at the bottom with the one dog, while Austin would climb back up to get the other dog and head down again. At about this time a gentleman approached us and said that they would be closing the path soon and that he would be happy to take one of the dogs down half way for us so I could use two hands to hold onto the rail with the baby on my back. On the middle landing, a young gentleman offered to take the dog the rest of the way down so our first volunteer could wait for his wife to come down the stairs.

About this time I was feeling pretty bummed that we could not finish our hike, so we decided to take the mountain elevator to the other side of the canyon to see views of the falls.

Kids & dogs.

The falls were gorgeous, although I do wish they had been more swollen with water. I bet in the spring when the snow is melting they are an amazing sight.

They call it 7 falls because there are 7 different waterfalls.

I will really miss the red rocks of Colorado. By this time I was already looking forward to taking another hike through Garden of the Gods one last time before we leave Colorado.

The beautiful red rocks of Colorado.  I will miss this when we leave.

Sophie was pretty bored with the whole trip, she didn't quite understand why I would not let her climb up the stairs that were no more than plastic steps supported by a single beam in the center of the steps and handrails.

Me with my monkey on my back.  Err, Sophie in her Ergo carrier.

The little boys had a good time, even if they did not get to finish the hike.

Posing with the falls.  Matthew, Christopher, and Austin.

We took the scenic drive on the way home and decided I would take the boys out to dinner for the fist time in months after I showered. While in the shower I realized that my friend had NOT recommended Seven Falls, where we had gone. But a lesser waterfall down the road in a free area without any stairs! Next time I will run in and mapquest driving directions to any place that my GPS cannot find, and I won't push the kids and dogs and I up an area that is too much for us. I don't regret the trip at all, I just wish we had left the dogs at home and gone earlier to be able to take the two hour hike.

Oct 17, 2009

Parking 101: How not be be a complete A-hole

I did not want to have to do this, but kids, it is time for a lesson on parking etiquette. I guess I just assumed everyone knew how to park a car except the NFH, but the last 17 days of the house next to me being for rent has taught me that I guess I am wrong.

I guess it is a good thing, and I should be happy people are looking at the house next door, especially since the only ad I can find for this property is one tiny listing buried on Craig's List.

So boys and girls, get out your notebook and be prepared for a test at the end of my lesson.

My city has laws that say that your vehicle cannot be within four feet of the entrance to someone's driveway, otherwise they can be ticketed, or towed; however us living on top of each other in the land of track homes, they have an unwritten rule that in our area they just can't block them, and you know what? I am fine with that. I also take no issue with people parking in front of my house, I don't claim the public street. What I DO take issue with is when people block my driveway, especially when I am trying to leave my house. It gets a bit old tracking down people to get them to move their cars and my deductible is too high to just say "oops! My car must have slipped out of gear, gone down my driveway, and smashed into your car.... too bad you were parked there", although I can't say I have not been tempted.

We keep one car in the driveway, and my minivan and a piece of shi... err, classic car, in the garage. Yet I don't know how many times I have come outside to see someone's car blocking the entire tail end of his car, which I drive about once a week to keep the battery charged and the fluid moving through it. It is a 2003 Honda Civic with perfect paint and a straight body, so it is not like it looks abandon or anything. There is also only about 2-3 feet between my driveway, and the neighbors, so unless you drive a motorcycle, you are going to block someone's driveway... one might think the smart thing to do would to be to block the *empty* house you are coming to look at, and not the car occupied one.

The empty house, also has an equally empty two car driveway, and an empty spot spanning the entire front of the house. On top of that, directly across the street is a house facing east to another street leaving the side of it completely unobstructed by driveways and can easily fit 3 or 4 cars. Common sense would say you could park in one of about 9 different spaces and be close to the rental you are looking at, and not piss off anyone.

So today I realize the storage unit I rented last month for pre-packing is due today, but rather than be able to pay on the phone, or online, I have to go in person to waive the insurance on the storage unit since my homeowners policy covers off-site storage. When I open the garage door, there is a car parked with the bumper of the car right up the edge to the left of my driveway standing next to a truck parked halfway into the middle of my driveway. She is chatting on a cell phone and the driver is sitting in the drivers seat. I buckle up the baby and then walk down to where they are and I say "Excuse me, but do you mind pulling forward so you are not blocking my driveway?" I was nice, and polite and did not have one ounce of attitude and can you believe she SCOWLED and glared at me and mumbled something bitchy to her husband! I wanted to kick her in the neck and tell her that she is too low-rent to be able to afford a house to live in and go back to living in her single-wide, but I was nice and just walked away. When I got back they were both gone, and I can just hope they don't come back. I can understand why my neighbor has a sign in front of his carport telling people not to block his driveway.


Question 1:
It is okay to block a car in their driveway if they have enough room to back out if they pull the wheel all the way to one side, even if they have to pull forward a few times, or drive on their lawn, to get far enough to get around you.
A) True
B) False
C) Heck no, are you effing stupid??

Question 2:
Are you special and think you have privileges to be a jerk to anyone you please, and they can just deal with it?
A) Yes
B) No
C) We all deserve to be treated with respect

Question 3:
If you are visiting someone or looking at a home to occupy, or you do occupy it, where should you park?
A) Anywhere I feel like, I am allergic to exercise and should not have to cross a street.
B) In front of their home.
C) Anywhere that is free, legal, and not inconveniencing others.

Scoring:
Please use the point system below to add up your answers.
A) -2
B) 0
C) 2

If you scored a 0-6:
Congratulations, you have common sense! You may now officially co-exist with other humans, and know basic parking etiquette. Pat yourself on the back, your IQ is greater than your shoe size.

If you scored -2 or below:
Time to go back to kindergarten so you can learn basic principals like sharing this big giant planet with others. Until you learn some manners, feel free to stick a plastic bag over your head so you are not wasting oxygen that could be used by others. If you don't like sharing this planet with others, you are free to leave it at any time.

I hope you had a good lesson and that you learned something boys and girls. If any part of this class did not make sense to you, I will be available for private tutoring after class. If you failed this lesson, and refuse to repeat this lesson, there will be plastic bags at the end of the hall and a shuttle bus in the parking lot to take you to Mars where you will be much happier.

Oct 16, 2009

Book Review: Kevin Shamel's "Rotten Little Animals"

RLA_cover2Kevin Shamel is a brilliant writer who makes you feel like you are right there with him on this fantastic voyage into the twisted lives of animals. This book is dark, and sometimes quite fantastic, but at the same time pulls you in. Shamel's descriptions really painted a picture of the story you were taking in, without being over-descriptive. I never was able to truly pick sides, sometimes I was rooting for the boy, and the next chapter I would cheer on the animals. I really felt like I was taking a journey into an underworld secret society of rotten animals. Don't expect to trust your pets after this book, I am starting to wonder if my cats are plotting against mankind, they always seem like they are up to no good anyways. I look forward to more from his Author, I have read a few of his short stories and each one is different from the last and all are very enjoyable.

Oct 10, 2009

I love being a girl

Last night, I was so wound up from a long busy week of trying to get work around the house done that I just needed some me time. After the kids went to bed I climbed in a scorching hot bubble bath and just read. I read page after page until my toes were prunes and my water cooled down. It was bliss. When I was done with my bath, I climbed into my bed and read some more. I got so into my book, The Secret Lives of Bees, that it was 2 am before I finally saved off my page on my Kindle and turned the light off.

This morning I am paying for it. I have a bad case of the lazies and I just can't seem to get myself out of this funk I keep hoping for a burst of inspiration to get back to work on the office that needs to be turned into a nursery, or finish hanging lights, painting, or installing the CO2 detectors, or even knitting would be a step up from what I am doing now.

On a positive note, I have been better about carving out time to make sure to get 30-60 minutes a day of exercise. Last night I was able to pull out a box of clothes I wore 6 years ago, before I got pregnant with Matthew and after I had lost 50 lbs, and the larger of the two sizes fit. I was so happy to have some new clothes that fit since all my others are too small. Unfortunately, these were all summery clothes, and we have snow on the ground here, so they will be around the house clothes or workout clothes until I can drop one more jean size.

Oct 5, 2009

Not enough hours in the day

I need more hours in the day between 11 and 2; at least 4 more. I feel like I have accomplished nothing lately... I have not had enough time to heal my mind, body, or my soul, and because of that I feel out of sync. Today was one of those odd days where synchronicity was completely necessary. I had just started trying to pick up my house when the house painters came by and I was settling them in when my new cabinet door was delivered and installed. As soon as the painters sealed up my house (trapping me inside) the school called to tell me Christopher was sick and needed to come home. I get him home, I get lunch for Sophie and myself and before I have time to relax, it is time to go get the older boys.

My neighbor down the street is a Vietnam vet, so once I had the kids home I walked over to apologize for all the traffic since he is the unofficial neighborhood watch. He's a pretty cool guy who is retired and sort of looks out for everyone, especially those who are single moms or young. He adores my kids and is always praising how smart and well mannered they are. His wife is super sweet too and they are on my short list of neighbors I love (which is a pretty long list actually). I must have been putting off some strange vibe today because he seemed to think I was dressed up for something. I laughed a little because I think the "fanciest" thing I did was brush my hair and put on my necklace. It is a diamond and white gold journey pendant that Bobby got me and did not know it until I told him. How that equates to looking fancy is beyond me... but I wonder if he would have thought I had a hot date or something had I bothered to actually put makeup on or something.

PS. Today was day 5 sans the NFH (neighbors from hell) and I have to say, it has been the quietest 5 days in a year; even with all the construction I have had going on here lately.

PPS. I got tired of Bobby complaining how out of date my 'Cast of Characters' section is and updated the photos and bios a bit.

PSPS. Isis had her Great Dane reunion on Sunday. I hope to get pictures up soon, possibly when I have 4 extra hours in the day.

Sep 21, 2009

It's not easy being mean.

Today I left this message on my mom's voice mail. "Hi mom, its me. I just wanted to let you know to keep an eye out for two of your grandsons. I have a feeling they may be running away from home today and will probably be hitchhiking up to live with you. They have no clean clothes though, so sorry. They will be traveling light, I took all their belongings from the room they told me to clean since they lied. Let me know when they get there."

The back story to this message is simple: I told the two oldest boys, who share a room, that in 3 days the Realtor was coming and I needed them to clean their room to the level of spotless. They cleaned for a while and then told me it was done. So I told 2nd oldest to vacuum, after about 20 minutes I yelled at him to start the vacuum already and he told me that he was cleaning his room so he could vacuum because they messed it up a bit since they finished cleaning. Odd. Ok, whatever. You told me it was clean, twice... I'll hold you to it.

So this morning I head down to the crawlspace in their room to find a box to put cookies in to mail to my hubby and I exploded. Thankfully they were at school when this happened, and the baby slept through it... So I decided to clean it myself to teach them what "clean" looks like. Just a quick product review. Kirkland brand lawn bags are AMAZING. They are Costco's generic brand of Hefty bags and they hold well. I grabbed one of those brooms that you see on TV, the "amazing" ones that are a wedge on one side and bristles on the other, four trash bags, and set to work bagging up everything on the floor except big boxes, and laundry. An hour later... I was almost done, but had to leave for a doctor's appointment, so I loaded up all the laundry into the back of my van and 3 of the 8 laundry bags and head to my appointment.

Afterward, I ran over to my brand new storage unit and unloaded a total of ELEVEN loads of laundry, 3 bags of toys, garbage & books, a huge basket of books, and 3 tote boxes of toys. I headed back home and put the baby in her highchair for lunch and loaded up the rest of the toys (5 bags) 2 globes, 2 boxes of breakables and then proceeded to spread baking soda all over their room while I vacuumed under dressers, windowsills, cobwebs, and under the bed. My poor Dyson vacuum had to go over their carpet TWICE just to get it clean. Mind you, this is the room that they vacuumed just yesterday. I woke up the baby who had fallen asleep in the highchair while I was working and then took another trip to the storage unit. The oldest boy called to tell me he was sick, so I picked him up and banished him to bed. He explained that while waiting for me, he ate his lunch and started feeling better. I *should* have loaded his butt back into the van and taken him back, but I figured laying in an empty room was punishment enough and would be less fun then playing sick and getting attention at school.

In 10 minutes I have to leave to go get the 2nd oldest from school, he is going to FLIP OUT when he sees his room. I predict whining and tears from him. I will explain that I simply took care of all their trash that they left on the floor and maybe they will be able to keep their room clean if it is empty. If they keep their room clean, they will earn one container back at a time. Too bad they have so much dirty laundry, since that is what they will be earning back first... one basket at a time.

Sep 17, 2009

Moving, Moving, and More Moving

Wow, feels like my entire life revolves around moving. From the bids I am getting for our deck, bathroom outlet switch and cupboard door.... to the storage unit I rented today to move stuff out of the house that we won't need until Virginia, to the most awesome news of all..... IT IS SEPTEMBER!!! Which means the neighbors from hell are MOVING!!! YAY!!! They have been slowly moving stuff out for weeks, I am sure the homeowner would love that they are parking on his lawn to haul stuff out in true NFH form. Their garage is packed full with identical electronic boxes.... I guess no one can have enough DVD players and stereo receivers... right??

Today, the contractor that came by was giving me tips on maximizing my value and he said "your biggest downfall is going to be the tricked-out-hoopty next door. People are not going to want to live next to people who look like they live in the hood"... wow, he can peg them just by their cars... niiiice.

Monday, our realtor is stopping by and I am so excited to finally get some answers to the big questions... like how much can we get out of this house for, what do I need to do to make it marketable, and should we turn the nursery/office into a nursery, or an office? LOTS of work until Monday, there will be no rest this weekend!

A letter from my dad to Matthew

Dear Max,
This is what happens when you have big brothers! Don't listen to them, they are evil. Remember this, they do not have any money for ice cream, if they did they would already have spent it. Even if they cross their heart and hope to die they can't get you a pony, where could they get one? Don't fall for that one, and know that they have no permission to allow you to stay up past your bedtime, only Mom and maybe Dad have that ability. Do not listen to them it will not be really, really, really fun, no matter what they tell you. A promise to come back in just a few minutes is not an enforceable contract! Neither is a promise to pick up the dog poo on your day. Danger always lurks behind a double dog dare. Anything involving shovels, BB guns or jumping off anything with a parachute made of a sheet should raise a red flag in your mind. Remember these rules because if you forget them later on they'll be saying "I'll hold your beer, go for it." Watch out for girls, too. The girl that came by later and made the boobs in the sand in front of you did not have your best interest in mind. I will try to have more advice for you as I see that you may need it. Love Grandpa
[caption id="attachment_1287" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Matthew in the sand"]Matthew in the sand[/caption] (Click for full sized)

Sep 11, 2009

PSA: Lower your interest rates!

If you have a loan (credit card, auto loan, mortgage) call them and see if it would be worth it to refinance or lower your interest rate. About once a year for credit cards, you can call and tell them that you have been an excellent customer, with a strong history of paying on time, and you may even want to mention you are looking for a lower rate even if it means taking your business elsewhere. Especially now, with so many companies hurting for money, lower interest rates, and wanting to keep the customers they have, you may find it much easier to lower those rates.

I just realized today the power of credit unions, vs. banks. I currently have my minivan financed at a credit union for 8.75% for a vehicle I purchased 18 months ago. I decided today that I do not like that rate, and so I looked at the lowest rates my bank of 10 years had to offer... 5.25%, not bad. I called my credit union that hold my loan to see if they would negotiate refinance and they said they could offer me 4.99%, fantastic! With the numbers crunched, if I went to a 60 month loan (I have 66 months in my current loan), I would still manage to lower my monthly payments by $150 a month and pay it off 6 months earlier than I would now. They took my application over the phone and I should have an answer in a few hours.

In the past, I would do this same thing about once a year with my credit cards, and usually while I was on the phone I would have my answer. I could usually lower my interest rates by between 1-5% with a 15 minute phone call.

Other things worth trying... I have successfully had my satellite bill lowered by a customer service rep, I have had my DSL provider give me a "new customers only" rate by calling and asking. I have had credits given to me by my cell phone company, and my residential phone company. Calling your insurance company is a great way to see if they can find ways to lower your automobile or your homeowners insurance. I have had my electric company give me ways to lower my energy consumption, or tell me of improvements I can make to earn an energy rebate (I got $250 for sending in the receipt to my dryer).

Haggling is hard, but especially in mom & pop businesses, it is easier to get a discount. Yesterday I bought a new (better) tank for my carpet cleaner to replace mine that was cracked. I was told the tank would be $50 and I said "wow, those are $35 on amazon.com!" And the sales person said "well, if you order it online you will pay shipping, but I can sell it to you for $35". You don't see that at big corporate chains. I also got a few dollars off my purchase of cloth diapers yesterday... not because I asked, but because I was dealing with the owner of a small business and she felt like giving me a discount. Sometimes it pays to avoid the national "rollback" business and support your neighbors.

Once, I went into a toy & hobby store with my brood, and just because I told my children not to touch the models that someone worked very hard on making, the sales person gave me a "15% good mother discount".

Deals are to be had in all economies, but right now is probably the very best time to find discounts and sales. Don't be afraid to ask, the worst they can say is no. And remember, they best way to get something for 100% off, is not to but something you don't need just because "it was on sale".

Sep 3, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation

*Now, with working pictures!!*

Wow, what a whirlwind of the last 3 months. I had a GLORIOUS summer. First vacation was up to Glenwood Hot Springs a few hours northeast of here in Glenwood Colorado.

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The drive was gorgeous, the kids loved all the tunnels and the hot springs were amazing. The pool was a city block and so comfortable. Sophie fell asleep floating in my arms several times.

The next weekend we went to Canon City about an hour from here to camp in these amazing little one bedroom (sleeps 6) cabin with a full kitchen and bathroom. We stayed at a Yogi Bear campground, so the kids were super busy with activities and contests. Austin did an essay for a contest on his dad since we were there for father's day and made me cry.

As soon as we were unpacked from Yogi I packed up the 4 kids and two large dogs and drove 1200 miles to visit my family. I got to spend a few days in Montana with my oldest sister and her 5 little ones (sorta, two teens, a tween, the youngest two are the most adorable twin toddler girls!!) After that I went to my parents land in Idaho where we spent the 4th of July on the beach, picked huckleberries, and enjoyed each others company. My grandparents came over from Montana to see us and it was so wonderful to see them again. Then we headed back to Spokane were we went back and forth between Spokane and the cabin in Idaho for the rest of the month. I also got to see my other sister and her two kids who are just amazing kids. My niece writes music and plays them on the guitar and athletic and confident and just a remarkable young woman. Here are a few pictures of our time in Priest Lake:

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Two days after we returned from Idaho, Bobby came home from Iraq for 3 weeks. Our anniversary is July 28th and he flew home the afternoon of the 27th so with the help of my friend Tracie I was able to plan an amazing little getaway. We went to a super nice restaurant in town and then I surprised him with an overnight stay in a gorgeous suite at a 4 star hotel at the Cliff House in Manitou Springs. They had a bottle of wine and chocolate covered strawberries and a rose waiting for us when we arrived.

Then we were off for our family vacation to Disney World!! The kids had NO idea where we were going so when we missed our flight they were super bummed. A night at the Hilton near the airport and all was forgotten.

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When we finally made it to Orlando we had so much fun. The weather was hot and muggy but we did not mind. The park was crowded and the lines were long but we barely noticed. By the end of the day we were so happy we had rented a house and had our own rooms to go to and a full kitchen so we could just grab a bowl of cereal and crash for the night. We spent two days at the Magic Kingdom.

My husband and kiddos.

All of us with Mickey & Minnie.

All of us with the chipmunks.

Then we spent a day in Epcot, which really was not enough!

Us w/ Stitch.

Bobby & I.

Us w/ Daisy.

We also spent a day at Animal Kingdom, where my camera battery promptly died and a rushed day at Hollywood Studios because we were having a little get together with three families who live in Florida whom I have been friends with for seven years. Talk about a fun night!! The kids got along great, the men folk hit it off instantly, and we girls had a blast talking the night away.

Bobby's vacation was over before we knew it and the boys headed back to school. Austin and Christopher are both in middle school this year and Matthew is in his last year of preschool.

They are enjoying school, except Austin had a problem with his math teacher. She was bullying him and talking down to him since day one. She seemed to single him out. Anyone who knows Austin knows this kid is a golden child. Today he *asked* me if he could put my laundry away for me and folded a basket of laundry without being asked and then put it away. The same child I heard tell his brothers "lets keep the kitchen clean, mom worked hard on it today". Well his breaking point was when he was sitting on his feet so he could see his math book, he's short like we are and the desks are bigger this year. The teacher yelled at him to sit on his butt and when he explained he could not see if he sat that way she told him "maybe you need to have your mommy send you in with a booster seat?!" Austin did not say anything, but went to the principal to demand a new teacher because he was tired of being treated like dirt and then having her demand his respect. The school still has not called to tell me of this incident or to apologize, but I have not called them either as I kind of fell like this is Austin's battle, not mine and he is handling it like a true warrior!

Christopher has his ups and downs. On one hand he is helping out more to earn money to replace games he lost of Austin's, he mowed the lawn for me tonight. On the other hand he is having problems with doing what he needs to do in a timely matter (getting ready for school, completing homework, etc) and he has had a few outbursts here and there that are uncalled for.

Matthew is having a hard time with preschool this year, he's having some major separation issues and clings to me at drop-off. Once I leave he is fine, but man he wrenches at my heart strings. Today I was listening to music and he said to me "I sure like this song about them living in a lallow sub-barine!!" He's a funny boy.

Other than that, we are trying to adjust to Sophie's moods. She's getting 4 molars in right now and her 4 front teeth are still trying to come in the rest of the way. If that is not bad enough, because of teething she is getting horrible bleeding diaper rashes so both ends are hurting her. She is talking up a storm and says "here you go" "go bye?" "yogurt" "mommy" "Austin" among all her other words. She's a smart little thing and made her toy say bye-bye by cycling through other sounds until it came back to bye-bye again when I was pressuring her to wave bye-bye to me.

Bobby and I are doing well, 5 more months until he gets home and I am just trying to stay busy to help move time. I am also trying to get healthier and keep my house cleaner. I am trying to get into the habit of going to the gym on M, W & F when I drop the kids off at school. I have already started to see and feel changes in myself.

So, if you have made it this far, here is my massive update of why I have been MIA. I am hoping be around a little more now that school has started. If you want a link to *all* my Disney pics the link is here.

Jun 21, 2009

Such a busy summer

I have not had much time to update my blog, let alone breath, but I have a moment as we are just getting home camping in Canon City. The weekend before we were in Glenwood Spring at the hot springs for Sophie's little friend Winter's birthday, her party was Saturday. Seventeen days ago, my own little Sophia had her very first birthday. I am just in disbelief that my teeny tiny princess is already a year old. How time flies!! She's got such a huge personality for such a teeny tiny little thing. She's not walking or standing up yet by herself, but she is pulling up on stuff and walking along furniture A LOT. I imagine she will be 13-14 months before she walks, just like the rest of my kids.

Next week we will be driving home to WA state to go spend time with my family for 3-4 weeks, and then we will come home in time for Bobby to come home on leave for 3 weeks. We are planning a huge surprise family vacation, but I am not saying where until the airplane tickets are purchased and the vacation home rented. The kids start back at school 2 days before Bobby heads back to Iraq.

May 17, 2009

I have needs...

(This may be a TMI post for some)

I have needs I have not been able to meet lately. Tonight I was just so frustrated I took a long how shower and just let my mind wander. When I was a kid, I was so carefree and no burdened by these reckless desires and longing for time in the bedroom....


...you see, I am tired. I feel like every morning I cannot start the day without a cup of coffee or two. When did I grow up? When did I start craving such adult desires. Yet I am teased by exhaustion, and itch I cannot scratch... because I am one of those who cannot nap! I know, crazy huh? I can have all my kids at school, the baby can be taking a three hour nap and I just lay there, unsatisfied. And right now, it is 12:45am, I know I have to be up in a few hours, but I just cannot settle my mind and instead I am having a quickie in bed, with my MacBook and my blog. I know if I do not get this off my chest I will lay in bed all night and not be able to drift off to dreamland.

I was looking at some pictures today of many years back... the innocent years, when I could get up easily in the morning and spend all day running around outside. Coming home only when the street lights came on. If I was thirsty, I drank from the hose. If I was hungry, I went inside my house, or that of a friend's and got a snack. Now, I can barely drag my 4 year old upstairs without feeling my muscles tighten in my back. I looked in the mirror today and realized it is time to dye my hair... not red, blue or pink like when I was a teen, but the same color it is now.. just to hide the gray hairs that keep appearing no matter how fast I pluck them out.

On SwingI watch my children growing up so fast and I want to yell "slow down, enjoy this, stop being in such a hurry to grow up", but they don't get it. I sure didn't. I never understood the adage "Youth is wasted on the young" until I was no longer young and longed for those times back.

Maybe some day soon I will be able to lay down in bed at 9pm and close my eyes and drift right off to sleep. I will sleep soundly, for 9 or 10 hours. I won't lay wide awake in bed thinking about everything I need to do in the morning. About an appointment next week that makes me anxious, or a promise that was broken and how much it hurt our feelings, or inconvenienced an already busy week. I will wake up easily, naturally. No need for coffee, no need to feel like I need to shake off the sleep from sleeping too long. Bright eyed and bushy tailed. No kids to carry upstairs at midnight. No babies crying at 1am. No need to wake up and investigate every little creek and groan. And if it is noon, and I have eaten my lunch and I feel sleepy, I want to be able to lay down on my mat with my favorite toy and a blankie and be able to sleep for an hour or two without disturbance.

So yes, I have adult needs. I need to get a good nights sleep. I need a great hairdresser who can do magic with grays. I need a chiropractor and a massage for my aching back. And I need a babysitter, so *I* can be the one playing outside all day long, with no cares in the world... until the street lights come on.

Battle of the sexes

I was talking with a friend who was telling me a cute story about how her son identifies adult and children males and females and it got me wondering what Matthew calls them as I have only noticed him say "boy & girl".

So I picked up a magazine and I asked him "What is that?" and he says "girl" and I said "but she is a grownup, so what is she" and he says "she is a woman!" so then I found a picture of an adult male and asked him what that was and he thought a moment and said "he's a dude!!"

What is even funnier about the answer is that from the time he could talk, Matthew has been calling our friend across the street "The Man", no matter how many times we corrected him or told him his name, he was always still just "The Man".

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Austin found a pit bull puppy today and put it in our back yard with a bowl of water. It was salivating so much from being thirsty that Christopher said "Oh no! It has rabies! It is foaming at the mouth!" The pup was nice enough, but I sure was glad that the humane society was quick in picking it up.

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Sophie has been a pill for the last two days. Nothing seems to make her happy and she is not wanting to eat or nap. I think we may be seeing some new teeth soon. On a positive note, I was able to get all her 6-9 month clothing washed and sorted and put away with any of her 3-6 month summer clothes that still fit. She was screaming at my feet almost the entire time, but at least I managed to get it done. Thankfully it looks like she should have enough clothes to make it through the summer, especially if the ones I have soaking in oxyclean come clean. I may take a trip to the new Goodwill soon, because I am sure everyone could use some new summer clothes.

May 14, 2009

Distraction, routine, and other little updates.

It is Thursday already?? I think after all the disappointment of last weekend, this weekend is trying to get here at light speed to make me like them again. Well my mother's day was nice, but holy heck Saturday was a mess.

So we had another laundry fiasco a few weeks back... the kids again were not helping, so I quit once and for all. Bought myself 3 new baskets (reds/pinks, whites, and darks), gave them the old ones to do the same, and decided they are big boys, they can use my washer & dryer on Fri, Sat, & Sun, and I will use it Mon-Thu. That was a few weeks ago and it has taken some time getting into the routine, but they seem to be catching on. Well Monday I get my W&D back and I am relived to finally have a chance to clean Matthew's laundry from his bout with the stomach flu, but the dryer is taking longer than normal and the clothes are cold. I knew it was likely my heating element and started calling to get someone out.

The first company I called said they could be out on Wednesday... unsatisfactory, so I called another and they said they would be out that same day. Thankfully Matthew was home trying to work out the bug still, so when it was time to pick up Austin I just *knew* he would arrive as I was trying to leave, and sure enough he did. So I let Austin do what he has been begging to do for 2 years... walk home. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, can we say lesson learned?? He NEVER wants to do that again.

Anyways, 30 minutes and $260 later I had a working dryer and I have been trying to catch up ever sense. Monday I lost most of the day, Tuesday the cat decided he would use my clean clothes as a litter box, so those clothes needed reloaded, and I also used that time to go to the store to get more kitty litter and rearrange chores so the cat boxes would now be cleaned by the other child, and the other child would do his chores. I also found a smoking deal on a cat climbing post/house that I seem to appreciate more than my ungrateful fur-butts. So what I am saying is that about 287,403,028 1/2 loads later I am *almost* done with laundry for three whole days!!

Speaking of laundry, this is the hired help... does that explain why it takes me so long to finish??



Sophie's pediatrician's office called back, all Sopher's blood tests were normal... we will go back in July and see how much, if any, weight she has gained. Another reason that I am up to my eyeballs in laundry is that I decided it was time to put Sophie in 6-9 month clothes. That baby has almost worn out all her 3-6 month clothing... I did not know babies were ever IN their clothes long enough to wear them out. Unfortunately, most of her new clothes are winter clothes... so I am going to have to box them back up and then reevaluate how much we will need to go buy for the summer. We have a new Goodwill in town I have been wanting and excuse to check out.

May 12, 2009

Matthew and the books

Matthew is starting to read. JUST starting. I took him to Barnes and Noble today so we can get some Bob books, they are like our generation of our parents Dick and Jane books (they still sell those by the way!). While I was there I also got him some Biscuit books, which are a little harder, but my older boys loved them. The entire time there I am talking to Matthew about what a big boy he is and that he is ready to start trying to read. We bought the books, he carried his little bag of books out to the curb and when I asked him to hold hands he tells me "I am a big boy now mama, I am going to be reading soon, so I am too big to hold hands".

Silly boy.

May 8, 2009

Holy crap!! I have a teenager!!

Austin is thirteen today, THIRTEEN, 1-3. Holy cow how did that happen?!? Normally one would lament on the day their baby was born, but I feel truly blessed that I have SO much more I can lament on. I can remember the day like it was yesterday when I met him the first time. He was 2 1/2, in a red shirt and blue jean overalls. He was so tiny, but I got a glimpse of what Christopher would look like in another 18 months. I also remember one year later, the day he came home, I remember him smoothing out his quilt on his bed my sister made for him. He kept asking over and over if that was really his own bed.

The years flew by with so many unforgettable memories. Him calling me mom for the first time. Him wrapping his arms around me and telling me he loves me. First day of Kindergarten, losing his first tooth, riding his first airplane, riding on the back of my dad's Harley and then telling me he did not even hold on half the time. His personality started coming out more and more and I adored the little person he was turning into. He is compassionate, caring, funny, smart, but at the same time so blond. I just cannot believe what a change he has made with his life... he was once such a mouthy, angry child. I remember him telling Christopher how much he hated him and getting into fights at school. I remember him hitting me in the face and acting out so terribly that we were concerned about his mental health.

Then he blossomed. Slowly, beautifully, like a flower in the morning dew. He let the sunshine into his heart and it spread! His joy and happiness was contagious, everyone he met loved him. His teachers raved about how much compassion he had for his friends. Last year, the school acknowledged all his marvelous traits when they recognized him for the great kid he is when he made student of the year. I cried, oh how I cried. I cried because he did not start out this way and build to this great kid. He worked hard, twice as hard to get to this place. He started out at a -100 and worked his butt off to be a +100. He overcame so much to get where he is now.

He is such a funny little boy. This morning he went back to school after missing 3 days of school this week due to illness. When we pulled up he said "ohhh, this place looks familiar, but I can't place it... I think I was here a LONG time ago". Funny, funny boy!

May 7, 2009

Update on Sophia

I took Sophie to the lab at the hospital today for her blood draw. That place is a maze, I spent more time lost then we did in the lab. Twice we needed volunteers to take me where I needed to be when we were lost, and I am talking down long hallways and up elevators... and after we navigated the maze and got to the right lab and the right valet, we did not even get any cheese!

Sophie did well. They were able to get the blood they needed from her bruised little arms, without drawing it from her head. I won't know the results until next week, but I am hopeful we will get good results.

May 5, 2009

Sophia: My great big wonder woman in a teeny tiny body

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Sophie had a well baby appointment today, I had asked at a ped appointment a few weeks back at my concern over her slow growth. She told me to make a well baby visit ASAP and we would discuss it.

So today she saw her ped who said she was 24 1/2 inches long, and 12 pounds, 9.5 ounces. She is 3% under the growth chart in all areas, and taking her last few measurements into consideration is right on track for that of a 4 month old... at 11 months. My ped said she is not too worried yet, but wanted to run some blood tests and see her back in 2 months after I make some minor dietary changes (more fatty foods, more yogurt, etc). She is not behind on any of her milestones, and actually was ahead on some (crawling, 2 word sentences), she also nurses well and sleeps well.

We arrive at the lab and they are pretty empty, but still fairly slow. The phlebotomist suggested I nurse her in a private room to calm her down as she was already fussing, and to make sure she was well hydrated. Two of the four lab tests required a lot of blood (thyroid & celiac disease test) and the CBC & lead test required very little, so they were glad she had easy to find, thick, veins. They wrapped her up in a thick blanket and had me hold her super tight while one woman held her arm, and another woman drew blood. They used a syringe, a tube and a butterfly needle and almost immediately her vein burst. So they wrapped her again and tried the other arm and again her vein broke.

SuniThey barely had enough for the first two tests, so they recommended I wait two days and then take her to the hospital to have her blood drawn from her head by a pediatric nurse. My poor baby!

She was so brave. She eventually just turned red, while tears ran down her face, without crying. My heart just broke for her. After the ordeal she held me so tight and just laid in my arms.

May 3, 2009

Quiet couple of days.

We started with the landscaping project on Thursday. Changes are slow, but exciting. I have been posting pictures on my facebook, but not my Flickr and I will post before, during & after pictures here once the work is done.

First of all, the NFH's have still been quiet. The SUV that took all but one of them away last week, returned today, so we will see if the peace lasts.

Also, the Great Dane behind me has been quiet too, it has been wonderful.

We are replacing our back fence, which is right next to the fence of the neighbors behind me. When mine came down, we realized that our two crappy fences were being held together by the gravity of each other, and her Ivy vines. So after they propped their fence up, I decided it was time to pay them a visit to offer to share a fence if they paid the couple hundred dollars to remove their fence by my guys. They agreed that our plan would benefit us both mutually, and it looks like at least the portion we share will be going down Monday.

They are such sweet people. A retired couple and he plays in the band. They explained to me that the Great Dane was driving them nuts too, and they talked to the owners and lent them a bark collar that ran out of batteries some time that second night. On the third night, the new family was moved in enough to stay at the house and bring the dog in. I have not heard a peep from him since, so I am pretty sure he was just lonely.

Days like the last few make me really like my neighborhood. :)

Apr 30, 2009

NFH: Stupidity, the one thing you can depend on

Tuesday night, around midnight, I head a loud ruckus of heavy items being drug across the sidewalk, people talking loudly, and similar noises. I looked out the window and the NFH's were parking at the end of my driveway, loading tons of people and stuff into a SUV. I rolled my eyes and headed to bed. The next day..... nothing. I see the person in the NFH household take the two trashcans to the curb, and about a dozen bags... but they were facing the street the way the trash company requests for easy pickup. I can almost envision the waste management person grinning, as I see them out there almost every week trying to get the cans turned around and picking up all the stuff overflowing.

It was a gorgeous day outside yesterday, absolutely beautiful, so all day we worked in the yard getting it cleaned. Only once did I hear their dog barking in the back yard. It stopped almost as soon as it started as he was brought into the house. Then last night, no music, no visitors, no parties.... I was in shock!

However, stupid and inconsideration are qualities you can depend on. If the expected parties don't offer it, you should expect someone else to, and that is just what happened.

Around 7pm I hear a dog barking, deep throaty LOUD barks. woofwoofwoofwoofwoof. The dog is not even taking breaks to breathe. woofwooofwooofwoofwoof. After 3 hours of it I am starting to slowly feel my soul dying. woofwoofwoofwoofwoof. I go out in the front yard to see if the pitbull is sticking his head out one of the bedroom windows next door and is causing all that noise. I go out front, I see nothing... no cars, no dog, nothing. But I still hear the dog; woofwoofwoofwoofwoof. I go out in the back yard, the noise is even louder. We had some people visiting my neighbors on the *other* side of my house that had two large huskies that would sometimes bark, but those neighbors would never let any of their dogs bark 3 hours. I turn on my floodlight in the back and there it is. Directly behind the NFH is the person who volunteered to pick up their slack. Locked onto the back deck, these new idiots had trapped a 150+ male Great Dane who was not too happy about being confined. woofwoofwoofwoofwoof. We are not on hour FIVE and I am wondering two things... why have they not brought the dog inside? and how is the dog not hoarse??

I figure I will just go to bed, since my bedroom is in the front of my house, no way it will bother me, right? Wrong. woofwoofwoofwoofwoof. His voice carries through three back yards all the way to the front of my house. I turn on my fan, turn my TV to a music channel and set the sleep timer. I still hear him, but it does not bother me anymore. It does however bother *my* Great Dane who is downstairs, in her crate that she sleeps in, barking back!! Her bark is her insecure, whiny bark. I yell at her the few times she does it, and she finally gets the hint.

What gives? I *finally* have all four kids healthy, no coughing child across the hall, no parties or 7-11 type traffic next door, and someone leaves their dog outside all night? Is this karma for flipping off that little old blue haired lady??

Apr 29, 2009

Supersleuths and the Thief

A couple months ago I banned a certain friend from the house. I never really cared for him, but I could not put my finger on it at first. In time I REALLY did not like him because when I would say no to almost any request, he would try to change my mind even though I never once went back on my initial decision. He was always also trying to stay the night, and when I would say he had plans, he would respond that his parents had plans and he could not stay home alone so he *had* to find a place to stay.

Well two months ago I was about to slice some mango for fruit salad, and one was missing. I blamed my own children, but the next day they said they saw this boy with a mango. Then he was bragging at school that he had gotten a mango from our house and it was the best ever. I was furious and told the boys I did not want him in my house anymore. Bobby thought I was being harsh, but I refuse to allow liars or thieves into my house. A few days later he apologized to Christopher and admitted to stealing the mango.

Then it comes out that some of the kids in the neighborhood as missing games, and this boy has stolen them and he was in a lot of trouble at home. Austin admits to me that he thought the boy had stolen his game, but had no proof. Christopher also was missing a game. Austin & Christopher went to his mom and told her that they felt he had their games and she said she did not see them.

Well a few weeks ago I see the kids looking through Matthew's room, they told me he had Christopher's gameboy last and they don't know where he put it. I immediately think of the boy, but they sort of dismiss it for a few days until Austin says "you know, the last place I saw his gameboy was when Matthew had it in the bathroom, and the boy used that bathroom too.

So today the boy says at school he is going to come over and talk to me about a game he accused Christopher of stealing, a game *we* gave him that he lost. I was really hoping he would come so I could ask him to get the gameboy and games now. Instead, two neighborhood boys show up. They say they they have seen the boy with a lot of new games lately and they mention the two pokemon games the boys were missing. Then I ask if he had a DS, and they said "a silver one? With a ton of scratches??" and Austin was like *I* scratched that gameboy, on accident!!" so together they went to talk to the boy's parents.

Well I guess the apple does not fall too far from the tree. The mom was pissed, at MY kids! She said she was going to call the police on my kids for harassment! WTF!?! Hearing this, I called the police and asked him to write down the boy's address, as well as addresses and phone numbers of all the witnesses who saw our games and gameboy. The dad started yelling at the boy and amazingly enough, the gameboy appeared, and it was being used by none other than the mom. Another one of the kids admits they know who has the game, and he traded the boy his own games for the pokemon games. That child let Austin look at the game, and sure enough, there is the the pokemon he misnamed, "Charmandy". That child gave back the one game and asked me if he could borrow the other game for a few weeks so he could beat it. I told the kids to make the decision, but I had to problem with it because he had been super honest in returning the game, even though he had traded it for one of his own games. They like this other kid, so they are letting him borrow it.

I decided since the games and the gameboy were returned, I would not involve the police, but my friend suggested I make an appointment with the principal since he was threatening to beat up my son, and I agree that I probably should involve the school for that reason alone. If that boy as much as sets foot in my driveway, I will have NO issue telling him to get off my property.

Tonight I took my kids out to dinner and ice cream for standing up for themselves, choosing better friends (at least 3 kids were willing to help them and were honest about the boy having their games), and for being thorough in making sure he had witnesses' names and addresses. I was also impressed that he was still polite to the boy's mom, even though he *knew* the boy had his stuff and she was protecting and bullying him. I am glad this family lives about 4 or 5 blocks away.

Apr 25, 2009

NFH: Where do I even start?!?

I am SO insanely pissed I don't even know where to begin.

Ok, Wednesday at 10pm I am in bed trying to sleep and the music next door is pounding so loud I am getting a major headache. I call the non-emergent police number and report it. The music stops so I call back and cancel my report. I guess they were changing a CD because 2 minutes later it is back on and I give up and stick a pillow over my head. At midnight I guess the CD was skipping or something because I wake up to BOOM-BOOM-BOOOM-BOOM-BOOM. It sounds like rockets going off next door. They finally turn it down and I get what little sleep I have left until kids are needing to go to school in the morning.

Thursday I pull up into my driveway with my kids to unload them out of the car to be greeted by a cloud of cigar smoke. Austin is gagging and hacking while at least 7 or 8 guys stand about 10 feet away all puffing on cigars. I get the kids in the house as quick as I can. I forgot to mention I had to pull in at an angle to make sure I did not hit either of the cars that are literally right at the edge of my driveway.

Last night the music starts up again. It is SO freaking loud I literally CANNOT hear my TV or a word my children were saying in the same room. I have two glass cups on a shelf on the wall that I had to pull down because they were vibrating so loud I was afraid they were going to break. I could see the pictures on my wall moving and I was just waiting for them to fall down. Two hours into it I call the non-emergent number. They tell me someone else has already called and that they will be there as soon as they can. It takes me forever to get the two little ones to sleep. My four year old tells me "Mommy, my room is so loud I cannot even hear my dreams!" I had to shut off Sophie's jumparoo because it kept going off on its own thinking there was a baby jumping in it.

At 11:30 I decide I will just put a pillow over my head, I am so exhausted I feel like I am going to pass out. I hear a ton of commotion even louder than the music outside. There are two people revving their cars up outside and a group of about 11 children and adults talking super loud at each other. Someone else in a car is honking their horn. I call back and update that they have now become even MORE obnoxious.

At 11:57 the music finally stops and I take the pillow off my head. Ten minutes later my room fills with light as the police pull up in response to my complains and the other neighbor's call.


So today at noon my doorbell rings and someone I don't know is outside. I step out and she explains to me that she is either a friend or a relative of the woman next door. She explained that her 18 yr old son died of a heart attack and that is why there were so many cars. She stated the police had told her that "the lady next door called to complain of the noise and traffic". I told her to let the neighbor know I am sorry for her loss and that I have kids that cannot afford to lose a night's sleep because the bass is louder than their own thoughts. She tells me she cannot attest to the noise because she was not even THERE!!! I explain again that this is an ongoing thing and most of the neighbors either have small babies or are retired and we are all tired of 2-3 parties a week since OCTOBER.

Here is where I am pissed. When I called I stated I would like to remain anonymous. *IF* the officers really did say "the lady next door" that is hardly anonymous. It is quite possible that the person at my door this morning made up that the police identified who I was. I was not going to lie and say it was me, but I was not the only call last night either.

This is getting so old. I HATE living next door to party central.

Apr 22, 2009

Tracie took some adorable shots of Sophie today. Like this one:

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To see the rest of them, visit my Flickr page:

Apr 20, 2009

Oops, going to hell!

I flipped off some little old blue haired lady when her husband almost side swiped me on the way to the ped's office. I don't even think he heard me leaning on my horn, he did not even seem to notice that he almost hit me. If I had not slammed on my breaks he would have hit me and Matthew's side of the van.

I hope god forgives those who flip others the bird when they deserve it.

Apr 11, 2009

Taking a step back

When Bobby went to Iraq, he had to put his degree on hold. That also means student loans that were on deferral until graduation, will soon be activated and moved into our debt snowball. I was so excited to be at 15% repaid, and now that I have added in this other debt, we are not only 10% repaid. This is very sad news to me. I was really hoping to pay off everything but the van before he returned from Iraq, but now it looks like we will still have the van and student loan debt.

Oh well, this only strengthens my resolve. What is another couple years of working hard to get debt free when the end result is the same. I am really hoping that when we sell the house we are able to make enough of a profit on it to pay down more debt, or at the very least not need to use the money we are saving for any shortcomings we will have at the time of sale.

We can do this. We will do this. We ARE doing this!!

Apr 10, 2009

Psychological Warfare

There are days when I struggle with motherhood. I mean REALLY struggle. Just today I was telling my husband how frustrated I am in my kids' lack of responsibility with the animals. We have a horrible mean pitbull living next door ripping holes in my fence and it is just a matter of time before it gets through and kills or harms one of my dogs. So the rule is the dogs can be out for 2 minutes max until I can get the landscaping company to come out and replace my fence. So this morning I hear the dogs barking while I am nursing the baby. Ten minutes pass, still barking, 15 minutes. I finally hit the conference button on the phone and broadcast that the dogs are STILL outside.

Also, the cats. Christopher's job is to feed the cats and clean the litter boxes daily. Yet if I don't nag, it does not get done and then they seek out my towels. So now every time I think I have a "clean" towel, I discover it smells like cat urine. Nice. Also, when I am trying to feed Sophia, I have three cats underfoot circling around my ankles because their food bowl is empty.

Bobby called today and I vented, I vented good. I told him how frustrated I was at their total lack of responsibility, how Austin pulled out a progress report while we were walking out the door and asked me to sign it because it was due today and I refused because we would have been late if I had to stop everything and look it over before I sign it. I am just plain sick of it.

So I told my husband how I was half tempted to load up the three cats and two dogs in the van and take them to a kennel for the weekend and board them. How tempted I am to tell the kids that I got rid of the animals because I found them families that would take better care of them. How tempted I am to tell them that if they did not love the animals enough to feed them, water them, and provide them with a clean place to poop and pee that they will go elsewhere.

BUT that would be mean. I am not about to punish my pets, or my four year old because of something my teen & tween did. I am a mean mom, but at the same time I don't want to teach them that lying and trickery is OK. I struggle with where the line in the sand is sometimes. I struggle daily with trying to be effective without being too mean or too nice. I struggle with making the punishment fit the crime. I struggle with too many chores vs. too little chores. I have very good kids, and I believe I have good kids because my husband and I have always worked together and tried to be consistent, we have always given them responsibility, and we have never spoiled them with toys or candy because they held their breath or stomped their feet at the store.

I think with our family spread out like it is right now we are all feeling the stress and I feel less effective because I don't have my partner here to back me up. I think he feels helpless because he wants to help and he wants to put his foot up their butts, but from that many thousands of miles away, what can you say? "Just wait, in four months, you are going to be sorry!"? And I think the kids are struggling too, they miss their dad and it is hard to stay motivated when you are sad, I get that. I just wish they would see how overwhelmed I am carrying their load on top of my own. I need to heal this fracture, or I will crumble under the weight of it all.

I don't think this weekend is going to be a fun one, I can tell you that! Hmmmm, I wonder if I can figure out how to set up the parental controls on the TV??

Apr 7, 2009

It's fun to play at the YMCA

Friday my friend and I joined the YMCA, we want to take the kids swimming, use the gym, and get a discount on swim lessons. Friday we played in the pool all afternoon, the babies had a blast. Sunday we splashed in the pool some more. Monday we started our routine with walking & equipment... we could not get a spot in the daycare, so we went later in the day to another center. This morning we arrived at 8am and got a spot pretty quick. Both babies did very well, they actually let us get a 45 minute workout in.

My legs are so not used to being used yet. Ouch!!

Apr 2, 2009

How long does it take to warm up a car?

Well apparently, according to my observations this morning, it takes ONE HOUR. NFH (neighbor(s) from hell) started the car around 6:50am this morning, and when I got home from taking kids to school at 7:30am it was still running, no one was around, and I could not imagine it needed *that* much time to warn up.

So at 7:40 I decided to call our cities finest and they immediately dispatched a patrol car. As luck has it though, the NFH must have heard his ears burning because he decided to stroll out, scrape the snow from every surface of his car (why the roof needs de-iced is beyond me) and finally left.

The dispatcher I spoke with when I called back to cancel the patrol was super nice. She told me to call *more*, and that things I considered nothing more than a nuisance, could be more serious (heavy traffic all hours of the night, loud parties, unattended vehicles, etc).

My other neighbor has cameras on the front of his house, he states he has seen enough stuff going on next door to conclude our neighbors are more than just inconsiderate. Next time I won't be waiting an hour.

Mar 30, 2009

Last Place, I Promise!

Ok, I have now put this video every last place humanly possible, so this is it. Enjoy!

Mar 27, 2009

I don't want her, you can have her, she's too crab for me!

Matthew says to me today "We don't want Sophie anymore, she's TOO crabby!!" He's smiling the entire time, it's a joke of course, but man oh man is it true. Lately she has been a great big ball-o-fuss.

I blame the two teeth that have just poked through, but another theory is that they have awards similar to the Academy Awards, and Sophia was trying her darnedest to get a nomination.

The way I figure it, the perfect fit has several key elements. Let me break it down:

  • The Face: Must be red, crimson, or maroon.

  • The Eyes: Tears or no tears... eyes must either be closed tight, or have a distant, far off crazy look.

  • The Arms: The best fits include dramatic arm action, flailing, pounding, or waving will suffice.

  • The Hands: Must be balled into fists.

  • Vocalization: This element is most important, the best fits include many different vocalizations, from yelling, screaming, growling, crying, howling, gasping, and breath holding...aka the buildup.

  • Other Dramatic Effects: These vary greatly and can include throwing the body backwards, rolling, kicking, stomping, running, climbing, writhing, etc and all are dependent on the age and maturity of the child and severity of the tantrum.



On the fit throwing table, the fit Sophie just threw wold have been an 8/10 (for an infant of course). She had crying, wailing, breath holding, arm flailing, crawling up all over me, etc. I hated to break the news to her that she was about 3 kids too late for much sympathy. By the 4th child, their little tantrums are almost comical. Of course they still get the same amount of comfort and love as the earlier children, but inside you are thinking "Aww, she is trying so hard, and I am trying even harder not to burst out into fits of giggles".

I found that when I first was a parent, fits were sad, scary, and frustrating because I felt so helpless. As I got more hours of experience under my belt, I removed the blame and guilt and they become a part of parenthood; at one point you start to admire their effort, tuning it out.

Thankfully after some Orajel and infant Tylenol, Sophie decided she was more tired that she thought and is now laying down for a nap. Matthew also fell asleep... he's laying next to me on the couch snoring away. The older two kids are at friends' houses. The silence is both deafening and exhilarating. I think I will grab myself a fresh made-from-scratch brownie, another cup of coffee, and watch my Netflix movie. Could it be a more perfect afternoon??

Mar 26, 2009

What I did for my spring break vacation

A Thank-You letter to Cindy from Cindysporch.net

Dear Cindy,
I want to thank you for your email thread with the subject line "Spring Cleaning Challenge #3: The Kid's Rooms". You sufficiently helped me traumatize my children for life, and almost made my 12 year old son cry.

Let me back up a bit... I am a mother of four, two preteens, a preschooler, and a prima donna, I mean a baby. My sons are 12, 11, and 4, and my daughter is 9 months old. I also have three cats, and two dogs who are over 85 lbs. Things got even crazier this February when my husband left for a year in Iraq as a military contractor. I would like to say my house normally just looks "lived in", but truth be told there are times when it looks like World War III was just fought and a nuclear disaster was contained in my 1800 square foot home.

Your email could not have been read at a better time. Today we had a surprise blizzard here in Colorado, and because it is spring break, I have been hearing how bored my children are, or have had to pull them out of their Gameboys just to get them to clear their dishes from the table. What a brilliant day to play the "Clean your room or mom will kill you" game!! So I excitedly posted the link to the the spreadsheet in my Facebook status and printed out a copy. My four year old took quite a delight in running up to the printer to grab the game sheet and I handed them to my oldest son. His displeasure was easy to read; his face was red, his answers were curt and he looked like he could start crying at any minute.

To prove to him what a wuss he was being, I printed out a second sheet and told him I was going to do the same to my room. I even took the four year old up to "help" me and instructed the 11 year old that if he stopped working that he would would be grounded until the end of time.

Truth be told, the four year old was a lot of help. He made an awesome little "gofer" and had no problems fitting under the bed to push out CDs and books that found themselves held hostage under the bed by rogue dust bunnies. The children needed no prompting to get back to work or stay busy. They did need some reminding that Yu-Gi-Oh cards do not belong under dressers and that "clean dresser tops" does not mean to pile the junk right back on them as soon as you have dusted the tops off, however I think they earned an A-!

I soon found the cleaning was contagious though, because soon it spread and I found myself "accidentally" cleaning my bathroom mirror, which was not part of your list. The virus kept mutating and soon I was accidentally putting away pill bottles and mouthwash, tooth paste and mousse. Hair clips and nail clippers soon seemed to crawl into their drawers to escape the wrath. Next thing I know I am thinking how wonderful my cucumber melon all purpose would make the room smell and the counter, sink and toilet soon sparkled.

Before I knew it, my cluttered bedroom soon resembled a spa-like sanctuary. I now have a peaceful place to retreat to at the end of the day, and won't have to worry about books and CDs crawling out from under the bed while I am sleeping and tying me up like in Gulliver's Travels.

THANK YOU for giving me my sanity back and helping me to find a small slice of peace again. I LOVE my gorgeous bedroom and bathroom, I am really hoping having my rooms clean will inspire me to break out the gallons of paint I have had sitting out in the garage for weeks now and finish my redecoration project I have been putting off since I bought this house back in 2004.

Heather

Mar 23, 2009

Updating the house

Things have been busy here to say the least. Matthew started running a fever after school on Wednesday, by Friday I had called his teacher to let her know I would see her after Spring Break. Saturday I took him to urgent care because Tylenol and Motrin were no longer keeping his fever down. He has an ear infection.

Sophie popped out her first tooth on Friday, and today seems to have a second one trying to squish out too.

Today I had a landscaping/fencing guy come over to the house to do an estimate. $8,000 after "military" discount, YIKES! This includes a new fence, updated sprinkler system with expansion to the back, sod in the back & front with rocks and a breezeway. Nothing fancy by all means, but I think it will really help give us some "curb appeal" which right now is pretty negative on the 10/-10 scale.

Wednesday I have a carpet guy coming out to give me an estimate for new carpet & linoleum. Before I pull the trigger on that, I really need to paint my bathroom... but before I can paint I need new light fixtures, which I bought tonight, and LOVE, except the people who built my home put the hole for the electrical 2 feet to the left of the center of the wall, so I cannot use the lights I just got and I am not loving any of the lights that I can find that are long enough to cover a hole of that size, since I would need a 48" wide back plate. Wahhhhhh, I am so bummed!!

I also was planning on naming this blog post "I am not itching" but when I got back from Lowes my feet started itching so bad that I had to remove all the happy news of my itch FINALLY being gone. I guess I spoke too soon. :( I am hoping to go get a pedicure sometime this week, I think I deserve it!!

Mar 15, 2009

New Design

Just playing around with the header to my blog to reflect my life a little more. I have wanted to change it for a few weeks now, but I am now the happy new owner of a Mac!! I know, I know... I used to me a die hard PC lover, but I guess Once you go Mac, you never go back, because I LOVE this computer!!!

Well I never did find a program I liked as much as I did Paint Shop Pro X, until I downloaded a trial of PhotoShop Elements. Looks like I will be buying it in a few weeks, it works for exactly what I need it to do.

Anyways, I hope you like the new header as much as I do!

Mar 14, 2009

Fever baby, preschool, and other business.

On Tuesday, my sweet baby Matthew turned FOUR! It is so hard to believe that he is already four, but on the same hand I can't believe I have only known him four years because I just cannot imagine life without him, it seems like I have always known him. For his birthday dinner, he wanted to go to Olive Garden, which hit a sweet spot with me because that was the place I always went to for my own birthdays.

Sophie is sick with a fever and a cold. It started with a low grade fever on Tuesday and by Wednesday morning it was up to 103.5 and she had me up all night long. She is still a little warm today, but she does not seem so dependent on Motrin or Tylenol. I keep expecting to see teeth or chicken pox appearing, but so far neither one seems to be coming.

Matthew started preschool on Wednesday, so Sophie and I were able to rest while he was away. He goes 3 days a week for 6 hours a day and he LOVES it. I really struggled with the decision between a home daycare where they center around play-learning or an actual academic preschool. Both have up sides and down sides, but in the end I really liked the teacher, philosophy, price and convenience of the home based daycare near my home. He is only around two other kids who are 2 and 3 years younger than he is, but he does not seem to mind. I also like that he is exposed to less germs. I was hoping she would have another four-year-old or two, but he does not seem to mind at all.

Having only one child here for 18 hours a week clears up my schedule when Sophie naps to get much needed projects done. Part of my frustration was the clothing situation we are having. Matthew was pulling all his clothes out of his dressers to find one shirt, and when he and his brothers cleaned his room, those clean clothes ended up in the hampers and I had Mount Washmore climbing to scary heights. I felt overrun by laundry and was ready just to institute a burlap sack uniform policy. I decided the only reasonable thing to do was to move all his clothes into my room into Bobby's dresser. However then I had to decide what to do with Bobby's clothes. I ended up hanging up all his clothing, to include his jeans. It was actually sadder than I thought. I felt like I was "moving on", when in reality he is just overseas, not gone.

With Matthew's dresser now empty, I decided to use if for Sophia's clothing and then I moved all her diapers off the top of his dresser and into her old dresser. The room looks a lot more orderly now. We will see in time how this arrangement works.

The older two kids have been busy this week with state standardized testing. Austin is done and Christopher has another week left, but I think they are both feeling pretty sick of those stupid tests.

I braved the post office this week when I mailed off a 17 lb box to Bobby, it took me 45 minutes of standing in line to get it mailed out, but I needed to take a helper and I knew that would mean going at a busy time of the day.

Today I am feeling like a drill sergeant, the kids have overrun the house with their toys and messes and enough was enough. It was time to take control of the situation and put them to work cleaning up toys, their bedrooms, and all their other little messes. I still have to go through the house and clean up all the little hot spots that they have gathered on tables and the kitchen could use a good scrub down. All the floors need attention from a vacuum or mop too.

Last night I had my first bad night since Bobby left. It was the first time I REALLY started missing him. I mean I miss him every day, but we also talk, email, and chat daily. It has been almost four days since we have talked, which is the longest we have gone without talking since he left in January for training or February to Iraq.

Matthew is also having a hard time, he went from only 2 or 3 accidents at night a month, or 4 or 5 or more accidents a night a week since he left. I forgot to bring it up with the doctor on Wednesday at his physical to rule out anything medical. I am also having other issues with Matthew and Christopher both that I won't be bringing up on here to protect their privacy and keep from embarrassing them later in life.

I guess we all deal with changes differently, and we all have our good days and our bad days, all our trials and triumphs and in the end we will find our own ways to work through it all and be stronger for it.

I feel like a leper

IMG_4831

I still have hives, this is what my legs, arms, hand, feet look like. My belly is spotty, but to a much lesser extent. My shins, feet, hands, arms itch the most.

I went back to Urgent Care on Thursday and saw the same PA who gave me the ammoxacillin, she did not remember me and I felt bad saying "You did this to me" I just said that I was there on the 26th and prescribed ammox for a double ear infection. She was stunned that not only the "doctor I saw" missed it, but also that the pharmacist missed it.

IMG_4832

She put me back on prednisone, 20mg for 5 days, 10mg for 5 days, and then 5mg for 6 days. I have already had the hives for 2 weeks, and the PA told me it could be another 2-4 weeks before they are cleared up. I also am taking Claritin and Tagamet (yes, the heatburn medication) which is also an antihistimine. It was actually my facebook friend who told me about using the two over the counter meds, my mom confirmed my dad was on it for his shingles, and I talked it over with the urgent care doctor who agreed they were both good medications to add.

IMG_4836

Now if only I was getting any relief from any of it. I am sure it is helping, but I still itch like a dog with fleas. I try hard not to scratch, but it does not work that well. I just hope that it clears up soon, it is embarrassing to go out in public looking like I have something contagious. Oh and I am SURE my insurance company is loving the 4 visits I have had with doctors over this in less than 45 days from joining them. Not to mention my visit with the rheumatologist and Matthew's physical yesterday.... not to mention all the visits we have coming up!

Mar 9, 2009

Avon, Law & Order, and My Dad??

I had the most bizarre dream last night, it is still with me but fading fast so I figure I better write it down.

My dad is a trickster, he likes to joke with telemarketers and salespeople. He gets it from his father who is the same way. I remember one time my dad telling someone on the phone that his entire family had just been in a horrible accident and were totally burned and disfigured and mangled... and when he hung up the phone he was laughing so hard he was almost crying... on the other end of the phone was some young kid peddling a free sitting for Olan Mills photography!! Anyways, I digress.

So last night in my dream my parents were hosting a BBQ and I saw a woman driving around sticking Avon magazines under everyone's windshield wiper. As she comes around to the party, who are the cast of Law & Order and SVU, but in the dream are real judges, lawyers, detectives, etc. I think "Oh no, here he goes again!" and he does not disappoint.

He tells the Avon lady that they are celebrating the pregnancy of one of the attendees, he points to an elderly woman, probably in her mid 60's. Of course she is not really pregnant, she is swollen from cancer treatments, but the Avon lady does not know this. He then goes through the crowd introducing the guests, and telling her facts about them that by appearances seem very unlikely... this person here, who is clean cut & very professional just was released from prison for a lifetime of heroin use and trafficking, this gorgeous woman over here was born a man, etc.

When I woke up, all I could think of is how odd that dream was, and I promise I have not been watching too much Law & Order, but I do think I need to take a trip to see my parents soon as I have been thinking about my dad a lot lately.

Mar 7, 2009

Music for Breakfast

I just ran upstairs to grab my Kindle and found a very naked Matthew sleeping in my bed. After walking him to the potty I put him back into his bed where his radio was playing softly on some AM talk radio station. I asked him if he wanted his radio on or off and he asked me to find him a music channel. First I put it to a classic rock station and he turned his nose up at that. Next I passed by a modern hits station and he said he did not like that song right now. Next was a station that was either playing Christian or Country music, I could not tell.... I asked him if it was OK, and he replied "That is my breakfast song!" Not sure if that was a yes or a no, but I let him keep his breakfast song.