Mar 20, 2012

Happy birthday to us

Matthew and I had our birthdays this month. For his birthday dinner, he wanted Red Lobster. I told him because it was expensive, I was only giving him a tube of chap-stick for his present, and then grinned and gave him a little wink. I made him cupcakes baked in ice cream cones, and then we went to dinner. It was nice, a sweet old lady came up to me to tell me how great my kids behaved at dinner, which is wonderful to hear.

That night, on the way home my mom and dad called to wish him a happy birthday and I overhear him saying to my mom "I only got chap-stick for my birthday, but it is okay grandma, because I really need it, my lips are so dry". My mom said her goodbyes before I could get back on the phone and clear up the misunderstanding.

Matthew loved his cupcakes, had fun with his presents, and got some back from my mom, sister and I. The next day we went to a larger city to go to Toys R Us so he could spend his birthday money. On the way to TRU, he acted like he had enough money to buy the whole store. As soon as he got there, he realized how little he could buy. He quickly decided he did not want the $50 game he had wanted moments before. Something clicked on and he started prioritizing what he wanted. Within a short amount of time he had the top three items he wanted on his list, and had $20 left to spend. He decided he wanted an aluminum water bottle with his name on it, picked that out and was down to $10. Instead of getting the $10 he had just looked at, he decided his sister also needed a water bottle and found one with "Sophia" written on it.

I had some things I needed to do at the mall. I wanted to look at the iPad covers, I was planning on getting accessories since my case just broke, but Bobby said he did NOT want me to use my money on a new case, since that is a "need" not a want. He wanted me to go get myself something I wanted. I honestly could not think of anything I wanted until I went into Kay's to get my rings cleaned and inspected since I was there. While searching for my receipts I realized they were in my big purse, the one I hate because it feels like a diaper bag, and because it is messenger style all my stuff falls out and the flap gets in the way and I just don't like it. But my little purse is too small, and is starting to get holes in it. I complained to Austin that I needed a new purse as we watched by a coach store he suggested we go there. I rolled my eyes and said "no, too expensive" and he said "well, what about Macy's then?" Seriously, what a freaking awesome 15 yr old kid.

So I walk in and it is wall to wall purses and my brain shut. down. It was like over-stimulation station. I walked around a bit more and decided there was NO way I was going to get out of there with something I liked. As I was about to leave I spotted a purse counter and realized THAT is what I needed. I asked her if she could help me pick something and told her what I wanted. Durable, medium sized, cross body design, lots of storage, easy access, and that I was brand retarded. She quickly took me to the fossil purses, and I was in love with the canvas purses, we looked at a couple and then the clouds parted, and the angels sang, and I found MY purse.
Just then... I. was. a. girl. I squealed. Austin rolled his eyes. I had moved in before we even made it to the car. When I slid my iPad in, and it fit, I did a happy dance. He rolled his eyes again. My husband was very happy I got something I liked. My 13 year old said "really mom? ANOTHER purse?" and I glared at him. The one purse I hated from day one, and I don't think I paid more than $12 for either one. My small one lasted for a good 3 years, yet he is acting like I am some purse hoarder. Boy needs to learn when to shut up if he ever plans to have a successful marriage one day.

For my actual birthday, my sweet neighbors took me out for lunch and then we hung out and just chatted for a while. I stayed so long it was too late to start dinner by the time I got home. While I was out, not only did my teens keep the littles well cared for, but they rallied the kids into helping them clean and vacuum my entire house! BEST GIFT EVER!!! If you thought I was excited about the purse, you should have seen me then. Great friends. Great lunch. Great drinks. Great conversation. Great kids. Everything a mom could ever want.

Pt. 2: Lockdowns

Yesterday was a pretty crazy day. There was a triple shooting about 2 miles from here, near one of my kids' school, so as a precaution, 8 area schools were locked down. I had no clue, but a friend posted a link on Facebook, then I started stalking all the news stations. It was pretty scary thinking that my kids were on high alert and I had no way to calm them. I got a text message from the oldest letting me know what was going on, and he was not scared. When the lockdown was lifted (the suspect was never caught, but police determined it was safe) the 2nd oldest texted me that the lockdown was over and he assured me he did not feel scared. About an hour after the youngest school age child got home, he finally opened up.

I felt super sad, he said kids were screaming and hiding under the teacher's desk. He said lunch was milk, cheese stick and a cupcake in the dark. I don't know how much of this is true. I do know that at no time before, during, or after was I notified of the events. I did receive an email and phone call hours later, sometime between the time that the first two kids came home. They did update the facebook page, but I only found that because a friend with kids not even school aged yet posted it. I get that they did not want 100 parents on their doorstep demanding their kids, but I would have loved notice because I would not have normally been tuned into the news stations.

By the time we went to bed I thought we had all put the day of multiple helicopters hovering over us, images of SWAT taking down suspects that turned out to be ruled out as suspects, reports from friends who knew the family of the deceased, reports of drugs, and robbery, and reports of the perp jumping over fences and trying to enter homes. The youngest quit talking of hiding in a dark room and screaming classmates and we all settled into bed. Then, at 5:45am the dog started barking. But not the one or two woofs of a dog walking around outside, or the warning woof of someone knocking on the door, but loud, urgent, incessant barking. My heart started racing as I snuck to the kitchen to find a flashlight. The kids did not see anything and did not know what she was barking at. They did say two other dogs had been barking. I figure it was probably raccoons, but she was nervous to go outside. The 2nd oldest was scared it was the suspect of the nearby shooting. And I was just thankful that the dog decided to alarm us, even if we could not find the source and it probably was a false alarm.

It is likely the victims will not identify the shooter, and that he is long gone, so I am not holding my breath awaiting his capture. Hopefully soon we won't be so on edge.

Sicks,and lockdowns: Pt 1

What a crazy couple of weeks. It started with Sophie having the most awful croup ever, it was so bad I was considering dragging her to the ER. Thankfully with a breathing treatment, cartoons, and a cheese stick she was able to relax enough to sleep. The next day we took her to the ped and she got steroids, which calmed it quick. Night 3 it came back, but no where as bad as the first night, I did not even give her anything for it. This is the 4th or 5th time since September she has been this bad. I am thinking it is time to see an ENT and get her checked out.

I worry because croup is supposed to come with a cold, and happen for 6m-3 yr olds, then taper off. She used to get it about every 6 months, with a cold... but since turning 3 it has gotten worse, it comes on stronger, faster, and with or without a cold. I had the sense to grab my phone and hit record, and it is a good thing I did, because the next morning she was acting like nothing was wrong. Until I played the recording, I don't think the ped took me as serious, until she heard the recording. I mean here was a child bouncing off the walls and I was trying to convince her that 12 hours before was as sick as a dog?

Unfortunately, what stands in my way is that I have never had her seen for croup before. I have a list of conditions in my head I treat at home, croup being right up there on the top of my list. So here is this kid I am saying has been sick monthly since September, but she has been seen exactly one of those times. So now we wait to see if her regular ped thinks she needs to see an ENT and then decide what, if anything the Ear, Nose, Throat doc decides to do.

This is getting long. I will update on the other subjects in later emails.

Feb 26, 2012

Adventures in yard work

When we moved into this house 2 years ago, our bushes were so overgrown we could not get cars into the garage. My favorite tool soon because electric hedge clippers. Soon I had a stunning box hedge. I still struggle with the other hedge, because it lacks definition I always am at a loss of how to trim it. Yesterday was stunning weather, the kids and I were all stir crazy, and the teens were driving my crazy glued to electronics.

I decided it was time for some good old fashioned forced vitamin D and fresh air. I had finished about 1/4th of the top of the box hedge when my sunshine turned to clouds and blue skies started dumping hail. I unplugged my electric trimmers and started whacking at it with shears until the rain passed. My sunshine never did come back, but my hedge looks so good (except for the two bald spots, oops!) and we raked, swept, broke down boxes, cleaned the garage, the storage room, then swept them both. Within 2 hours my house was looking so nice again, until we finished and tracked mud all over the stairs. Oops!

Feb 17, 2012

As we approach a year

In ten days, we will reach the milestone of one year since Bobby left for Afghanistan. I approach this date with mixed emotions. On one hand, we are likely over the hump. It could be any time within 1 to 14 months when a job opens up stateside and he comes home, more than likely, we have already passed the half way point. On the other hand, one year is such a long time for all of us. Seeing the possibility of another year on the horizon scares me a bit, but I keep telling myself we have done 25.5 months before and we all survived to tell. We CAN and WILL and ARE doing this!

Jan 20, 2012

Safe, warm, and with power once again

It has been nearly a week since I left my house. Saturday the older kids and I took down the Christmas tree while the little three napped. Let me tell you, pine water does NOT clean like pine-sol. We tossed the tree over the back deck and the plan was to take it to the dump the next day. I ended up not going because I had someone coming to buy some furniture from Craig's List. When Liam woke up from his nap, the moment he saw the tree was gone, he burst into tears, poor little sweetie was so sad his tree was gone. That night we got some snow, not a lot, but enough that I didn't want to leave the house, as I need new tires.

By Monday it was a huge mess, we kept getting more and more snow. They canceled school on Tuesday, and the kids were so happy to have a four day weekend. Wednesday we got a huge storm and had over a foot of snow. For this area, that is a lot. I had the boys shovel the walk, in case it iced over, and it did. Thursday morning I heard my sleep number bed clicking, which told me we had lost power. And indeed we did. I knew we were running low on staples, and the only gas in my home is a gas fireplace that we did not have the gas key too, and that has never worked. We had enough cereal for that day, and we had stuff for sandwiches, but none of my meat was thawed, so I BBQed some potatoes in foil and we topped them with cheese, sour cream, and bacon chunks. The sun had set, so we were enjoying dinner by candle light, with plans of all the kids and I sleeping close in proximity, when the lights came on.

Now, we were excited, but not convinced they would STAY on, because they had been flickering on and off all day. One time Austin said "I hope we have lights by bedtime" and I said "I hope we have lights right. now." raising my hands to my ceiling... and just then the lights turned on! But were off almost immediately. As soon as it was clear the lights were on to stay, we sprang into action. One kid heated up leftover meatloaf and green beans to go with our dinner. Another kid plugged in all portable electronics, cell phones and the space heater. I turned up the furnace and made sure the pilot was on. We did not have high hopes it would last. 200,000 people in this area were without power, and could be for up to a week, so I did not think we would be one of the lucky ones to get lights within 12 hours. The new housing development behind us was not as lucky. A full 24 hours later, their windows are still dark.

In the night we lost most of our tree branches on our shade tree in the front yard, all barely missing my car. My neighbor was also fortunate that her large tree, that lost its largest branches, also missed her cars. Our enormous tree in the back yard was leaning, and it was clear it would probably come down. There were concerns it would take the fence with it, but my neighbor and I watched as it tipped, and then broke off, landing a few inches from the fences. Until the ice melts and we can move the branches, I will be stuck in my driveway. The kids have had a full week without school. Power flickered off again this afternoon, and I let out a string of profanity, but thankfully it came on before I could add a 6th word to my diatribe.

I also got a nice long nap this afternoon which was MUCH needed as I have been sick since earlier this week with a cold that has now settled deeply into my lungs. Christopher and Matthew have also been sick. Between the three of us, I think I have lost half a bottle of Tylenol, and most of a box of Kleenex.

Jan 9, 2012


Gah, anyone else dealing with the post holidays winter blues? I still have my tree up because it is my first live tree, and I can, but I think it will be going down soon and maybe I can shake this mood. Sheesh, with the kids back in school and Bobby back in Afghanistan, I am finding that the daily grind is really just getting to me lately. I am not one of those overboard decorate the house in November type people, and normally I look forward to January 2nd, but I think I was just overstimulated this year. LOL

So if you had any effect from post holiday blues, what did you do to shake the funk??

Jan 3, 2012

Happy 2012

I have had a busy 3 weeks. For any new readers, my husband works all over the world, but since March 1, 2011 he has been working in Afghanistan and Iraq. A month or so ago he got an email from his boss informing him that he had unused paid vacation and that they needed to be used up by the end of the year, or some of it would be lost. We knew to bring him home we would have to pay out of pocket for airfare, and that we had a limit on how long he could stay in order to get the maximum deductions as an ex-patriot on our taxes, and with paid days off in December-January, we were able to bring him home for 3 weeks over winter break. The kids were home from school his entire vacation, save for 1 day.

Because he missed Thanksgiving because he was traveling, I made him a complete turkey dinner with all the fixings. We also had a great Christmas and got our very first live tree, and went to a tree farm to get it. Then, for new years, my sisters and I all went to my moms house and had an incredible weekend together. The kids did an ornament exchange and my mom made a huge, wonderful, dinner for the 22 of us. Today, the fun was all over. The kids went back to school. Bobby boarded a plane back to Afghanistan (via Paris and Dubai). Thankfully I was so busy with driving to Seattle, and first of the month errands that reality has not yet set in. I am sure as we transition back into our old routine, that will change and we will all struggle in our own ways, until once again we get back into routine and it will get easy again. Until then, I will continue to hug my kids extra close, and remind them how special and loved they are.

Dec 20, 2011

Nothing like an episode of Hoarders to inspire me to declutter

Bobby came home from Afghanistan for Christmas and New Years on Thursday, so to welcome him back I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner, for the second time. While the turkey was thawing, I needed to do a massive de-clutter on my kitchen in order to maximize my working space for a large meal, for a large family, in a small space. A show that always gets me inspired to clean is Hoarders, on A&E. I really admire the people behind the scenes though. The people who have to clean up the messiest of the messes with shovels, or lift heavy furniture onto trucks. The men and women from 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

When we moved from Colorado to Washington, we contacted them prior to moving for a quote, and I was very impressed with their professionalism and rates, but in the end we just did not have time to bring in a team to help us (5 days to make a 1,500 mile move with a family of 6 plus 5 pets will do that to you). However, now I know what we did wrong, and you bet next time we move we will be making a ton of changes. What I really appreciate about 1-800-GOT-JUNK is they don't just take your unwanted appliances, garbage, and electronic equipment to the landfill, but instead donate anything usable to local charities, and their list of products they recycle is quite impressive. That was one of the reasons why we wanted to work with them instead of just renting a dumpster like a lot of people do before they move.

In the end, we ended up making about 10 trips to Goodwill, 4 trips to the dump, and had a bunch more picked up by appliance salvage companies. It was far from ideal, but it worked with our schedule. After my large cleaning spree yesterday, I may just be making that phone call again soon.