Sunday, November 30, 2008

Eye Doctors, Malls, and Black Friday crowds

I had another brilliant, well thought out scheme the other day. Two of my children were sent home with the "your child failed our vision screening test, how could you not know they were blind?" note. The third already wears glasses, just had them replaced two months ago, and was kind enough to tell us the NEXT DAY he sees much better when he wears his prescription sports goggles and regular glasses together. Anyhow, it only took being knocked in the head a couple hundred times before I realized I needed to make some eye appointments.

For some odd reason, I kept avoiding making the call. Could it be the thought of sitting with 6 kids in a tiny waiting room for hours doesn't sound like fun? Perhaps I dread finding out I need to spend a small fortune on accessories that I will then have to monitor constantly (where are your glasses?), fix (I just need to screw that in tighter), and replace (I mean it, WHERE ARE YOUR GLASSES?). Probably I'm just the master of procrastination. For whatever reason, I kept putting off making the call until guilt, and Kirsti's constant reminder that she can't see, finally got the better of me.

I took the 1st available appointment. 4 of them in a row (if I need to do the other 3 kids in school, I might as well do 1 more). For the Friday after Thanksgiving. Did I mention our eye doctor is in the MALL and it was BLACK FRIDAY? Yep, I am the well-thought-out-plan-making guru. Some might say this was punishment for not Black Friday shopping for the first time in years.

So I loaded up the kids and got there early so we could make the 4 mile trek through the parking lot. We arrived at 2:45 for our appointments starting at 3. We left the mall at 7:30. With the exception of 1/2 hour at the end, spent getting pretzels and walking around waiting for the glasses, it was all spent in a waiting room the size of my closet. Jealous?

Although gratefully, Matthew slept the 1st two hours in his stroller, the receptionist happened to have the American Girl movie for them to watch, I had them bring in books and coloring things and, thankfully, they all decided to be pretty well behaved most of the time. It could have been much, much worse.

Oh, and Ryan's prescription had doubled (which is why he saw better wearing two sets of glasses), Kirsti and Elise need to wear theirs all the time except when reading or on the computer, and Ethan got a clean bill of health.

And during the "extra" 1/2 hour I found a store with a great deal. Buy one get one free on everything AND spend $50 get $40 in gift cards. I would tell you where I bought the girls an outfit, but I'm embarrassed that I shopped somewhere so expensive (even if I did get a deal). You will just be LIMITED TOO your imagination.

Here are my kiddos with their brand new glasses. Sorry for the glare, I was a little tired.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Matthew's New Game

We might be the first parents in the history of parentage who spend exorbitant amounts of time encouraging our baby to cry.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Can someone who doesn't like to cook enjoy Thanksgiving?

Yes, yes you can. But you must invite the right dinner guests. So here is my shout out to all my company this year. Thank you Mrs. Smith for providing the pies. And Mr. Stouffers? Your stuffing is always a favorite at our home. The McCormicks gave the right touch to the gravy and Mrs. Rhodes, your rolls melted in my mouth. Finally, thanks to my assistants, Mr. Hefty and Mr. Reynolds. Without your help my turkey wouldn't be moist.

I am in awe for those who cook their dinners from scratch. I think if I had one thing to concentrate on, I might have had the patience to make something great. But when faced with the daunting task of making the entire dinner for my family, I'm glad I opted to let my friends help. Keeping me from slaving in the kitchen all day I was able to enjoy my Thanksgiving with my family. You holiday guests are nearly as dear to me as my everyday best friend, Betty Crocker.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

(and Kirsti wore that hat for days and all through dinner)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Proof that Batman and Robin made me crazy

A couple of weeks ago the kind people of the Cartoon Network decided they wanted all parents' heads to explode. So they decided to put Batman and Robin in their program lineup. The plan was ingenious. They must have known that 1) parents would have blocked such a terrible movie from their memory and 2) children seeing an old batman movie coming on would beg to watch. Anyway you look at it, my head was about to explode. However, I did learn a couple of valuable tidbits while trying to avoid watching or listening to this movie.

First of all, I had the pleasure of informing my children that the actor, and I use that term loosely, playing Mr Freeze is the current governor of California. Not only was I proud of the fact that I did not use the term "governator", I learned my children must know something of California (because it did not surprise them in the least that a man covered in silver paint was California's governor). I even took a moment to pause and consider that my children will think of Arnold as the politician who used to act (again loosely held usage) and not the actor who became a politician. Unfortunately, this only took up a minute of time avoiding watching the movie.

Next, in an attempt to avoid more of the movie, Peter and I began discussing Batman, aka George Clooney. I believe things were stated along the lines of "Too bad his politics are so crazy, because he is so good looking." Out of respect, I will not tell you which one of us said that. And I apologize for anyone who agrees with Clooney's politics . . . because you must be crazy.

Anyway, it comes out that Peter has met George Clooney. Not actually met as much as saw him in a restaurant eating. He would have introduced himself, but was worried he might actually say something along the lines of what we were just saying (crazy . . . good looking . . . feud with Bill O'Riley . . . etc). Plus, and we know this as parents of a toddler, who wants their dinner to be continually interrupted by slobbering, adoring fans wanting to sit on your lap? Um, not that Peter would do that to George Clooney, but it was probably wise to just admire from afar.

I was shocked! This is the man who calls to inform me he just saw Obama- with his window down and holding a bottle of water- drive past him in NYC. He never mentions hobnobbing with George Clooney? I mean they're practically best friends now! What other famous people encounters must he be hiding? I want to see paternity test results for Angelina's twins!!

(Actually this is unnecessary since the the discussion of Clooney naturally evolved to the admission that Peter thinks Jennifer Aniston is better looking than Angelina Jolie. What? Seriously? Has he seen pictures of Angelina Jolie??)

Thankfully, I managed to avoid most of the movie. There is no telling, however, how much brain damage was incurred by my children watching the entire thing. I just checked and it is still on our DVR. I will erase it now before I'm accidentally sucked in again. Although maybe if I mute the sound I can just watch George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman dance across my screen. Man, maybe I am already brain dead. Curse you Batman and Robin!!!!

And although I like to tease my husband, I am compelled to admit that I said the line about crazy, good-looking Clooney. And Peter would never fall all over him. However if he were ever to meet Ben Affleck . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

O Amazon

O Amazon,
O Amazon
I love you so much

I Christmas shop
with kids asleep
and hubby gone.
Sanity I keep.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Your prices rock,
Selection's great.
I’ve never had
You ship too late.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Supersaver shipping
changed my life.
Ship straight to friends
Saves me some strife.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Come home and find
At my front door
Another box arrived
from your great store.

O Amazon,
O Amazon,
I love you so much

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mom, this piggyback's for you

I remember the moment quite distinctly. I can’t tell you what I was doing or wearing or even the exact date. It isn’t that sort of memory. What I remember is the thought, simple enough and yet paradigm shifting: I realized that I have distinct memories of my mother in her thirties, my age.

It couldn’t be true! I remember my mother was old, she had it all figured out. She could do anything, fix anything, make anything. When she didn’t do something, it was because she didn’t want to do it. She was the master of her universe (and mine, too).

But me, in my thirties I’m still figuring things out. I make mistakes ALL THE TIME. I have a list of things I need to do so long I know it won’t all be done. And the things I’d like to do? Don’t get me started. I’m learning and changing all the time.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood. My children need me to love them, help them, fix their problems, show them attention. Constantly. I panic that I cannot live up to the ideal they’ve unconsciously set for me and they'll realize their mistake. (I know that I will have a different battle as they grow older, but they are still young and adoring now).

And then I looked at my daughter, almost the exact age I would have been when my memories of my mother became clear. And I realized she had the same utter confidence in my abilities. If she thinks of me the same way I thought of my mom, could my mom at 32 have felt the same way I do now?

Remembering my mother taught me something. Doing my best is good enough. It doesn’t matter than I can’t do everything and fix everything. It doesn’t even matter that I make mistakes sometimes. What matters is that I am there for my children, trying everyday, loving them every day. I don’t remember my mom failing, but I remember feeling secure in her love for me.

On a side note, what is it about moms? Even though in my head I know she is a fallible person, I still believe she can fix everything for me. Can’t get my Christmas PJ’s finished? She’ll mail them to me. Advise for the kids? She is the go to person. When she is coming to visit I count down the days till she comes and makes everything better. When she leaves I’ll have a clean house, happy children, and projects finished.

Maybe, after my children are finished being teenagers, their childhood adoration and dependence will mature to appreciation and gratitude as mine has (I wouldn’t mind some less-dependant adoration, either).

So today when my youngest asks me for the 300 billionth time for a “peacock” ride, I will think of my mom and my childhood memories and my respect for her and let him climb on my back one more time. Mom, this piggyback ride’s for you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Falling in Love with Connecticut

Last year, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we loaded up our car and headed to our new home in Connecticut. I loved North Carolina. We lived in a great town with fantastic neighbors and wonderful friends. We were moving to a place I had never dreamed of living. And we were leaving warm weather for the frosty northeast. Peter had already lived and worked there for a month and a half. Since our home wasn’t sold yet, we had leased a furnished off season rental.

Sometime during the 12 hour drive Peter mentioned that the place he’d rented had no dishwasher. And the dryer was broken.

So I was missing my family and friends while living in a drafty house (you could literally sit on the couch and feel the wind blow throw it). It was dark and dusty and the furniture was 30 + years old. And the kids were not adjusting to their new school. And Peter was working all the time. And I didn’t ever want to move from North Carolina. I hated Connecticut.

And then one day I was hanging my laundry in the basement to dry. I was pondering the reason for living here. With 6 kids and no dryer, I had a lot of time to ponder. I had felt strongly this was where we should be and leasing this house was the right plan, so why was I so miserable? And as I silently whined, a thought came to my mind, as clear as day. “Why are you complaining? This is the answer to your prayer.”

You see, for many months I have worried about my near teenage children. How was I going to guide them? What could I do to direct them during this difficult time of life? I had prayed for the wisdom I needed as a mother. As I stood in that basement, God let me know that these experiences were the direct answer to that prayer. I was here specifically to receive that wisdom.

And slowly, I began to fall in love with Connecticut. The people I have met here have been nothing but kind. The parks and libraries are much nicer than our old town. And the summers? I can stand the cold winters if I can have New England summers. But even the summer can’t compete with the autumn. Wow. Beautiful can’t begin to describe it, but to try any further would almost be an insult.

Our second rental is perfect for us. I’m glad to have my furniture again. Our new school is wonderful. The kids are thriving. Peter’s work is at the crux of easing up. We are making great friends and great memories.

Even though I still miss my family and friends, my old house (which has yet to sell), and warm winters, in the last year, I have fallen in love with this place. I don’t know what the future holds for Peter’s work, but it will be hard to ever leave Connecticut.

I am thankful that God answers prayers. Sometimes to get where I need to be, I have to travel where I’d rather not. And to find love unexpectedly along the way has been a blessing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Who has the harder job? Let's compare.

I often hear men lovingly proclaim that their homemaker wife has the hardest job. Just once I would like to also be awarded “toughest job.” I do, after all, have 6 children. But you see I have some stiff competition; my husband is an ER doctor. (And technically it is an ED doctor- it is a department, not a room after all) Let’s compare job duties:

Me: I was up all night (figuratively) with the baby.
Peter: I was up all night (literally) working my 5th all night shift, then stopped in on a morning meeting, then stayed up as long as possible so I could flip back to daytime hours.

Me: My kids were bickering all day. Possible even had an all out fight to referee.
Peter: I had a shooting, retaliation shooting, and then retaliation for the retaliation stabbing.

Me: Have you ever spent all day with a tantrum throwing 3 year old?
Peter: Have you ever had an OCD schizophrenic (who is off his medicine and on cocaine) punch you in the face?

Me: I changed a ton of diapers today.
Peter: I gave a 500 pound man a rectal exam.

Me: My kid threw up on me.
Peter: Know what an obstructed bowel is? Stuff has to come out one end or the other.

Me: I was running kids around all day. While doing laundry, cooking dinner, and reading Silly Sally 500 times.
Peter: I had a stroke, heart attack, car accident, and 1st time mom with a 99.0 degree “fevered” baby come in AT THE SAME TIME and I was the ONLY doctor on duty.

Me: I had to practically force the kids to brush their teeth and/or clean their room.
Peter: I had to hold down a screaming baby while I stitched him up and/or gave him a spinal tap.

Me: Had to help the boys deal with a bully.
Peter: Had to bully the consulting doctor to actually see and admit his patient.

Me: Diaper rashes to sooth, hurt feelings to mend, virtues to teach
Peter: You-don’t-want-to-know rashes to diagnose, death notifications to give, Plan B asked for often.

But then again, Peter is well paid and has nurses who think he’s wonderful. I get paid in “love” and “beautiful memories” and a husband who comes home and asks, “What DID you do ALL day?” Maybe my job is harder after all…

And if my husband and I come across as a little crass, this post should prove that it is merely a coping mechanism. Otherwise we would both be totally insane. Which we aren’t. No, really. Why are you looking at me like that? What do you mean, “inappropriate dinnertime conversation”?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A whole bunch of random

Well, I made some aprons last week. They took under 1/2 hour (closer to 10 minutes I think). Below is the pattern I used ...

- More cool how to projects

... and here are the finished results. Yes, I know this photo is an awesome display of my photo taking skills. I tried to skimp on the ribbon, wouldn't recommend it. Didn't sew on the buttons because I can't find my needles. Maybe next week.

Elise gave a talk during the main meeting at church today. She did a great job. I printed off a conference talk for her to read and she wrote (and typed) it all herself. I don't know why they had an 11 year old give a talk, but for a minute a member of the primary presidency thought they had missed her birthday. I am going to post her talk here.

I am so proud of my family. Every single adult on my side dressed up for Halloween this year. Half have private blogs, but you can find the rest of the pictures here, here, and here. And if you aren't sure we're crazy yet, check out my Mom and my Sister. As you can imagine, our family reunions are a blast.

Peter and I lost at Settlers of Catan today. Only because 12's were rolled twice as often as 9's, so Elise was rolling in cards. Somebody forgot to teach our dice the laws of probability.

Yesterday we ate hamburgers for a late lunch. Then at the mall (for the boys' haircuts) we bought some pretzels. On the way home we hit Wendy's to use some free Frosty coupons. Dinner were some hot leftover hot wings Peter had (we all got about one hot wing) and rootbeer floats. Since breakfast is always a loosely held tradition in our home, we were VERY healthy yesterday.

And maybe that is why I am incapable of pulling together a coherent post tonight. Better luck next time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

For the Love of HFCS

I’m sure everyone has heard by now that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is to blame for all the evil in the world. So out of sheer curiosity, I looked in my pantry. My favorite teriyaki sauce, the only one I'll use? It is the number one ingredient. Soy sauce? It was in there, too. In fact, practically everything I like contains HFCS.

So that got me thinking.
Maybe I should make my own HFCS and add it to my home cooked stuff too. I hate broccoli. Perhaps not after infusing it with HCSF! Meat a little tough? Marinate with HCSF. Kids complain about dinner? Pour some of this yummy syrup over it. Want to win the next chili cook off? I have a secret ingredient!

I could even save money on my grocery budget! Just take all the left-too-long leftovers and mix in HFCS. Just like new!! Maybe I could just go outside and bring in a bucket of dirt. Mixed with just the right amount of HFCS (and the perfect dishes and center piece), and I’ve made a gourmet dinner!!
No more complaining, great cook reputation, my 6 year old gaining enough weight to be out of her car seat. I’m not really finding a down side.

In fact, maybe it isn’t just for cooking! I bet pouring it all over my house will make it look great without cleaning. Who needs to workout or use makeup? Just shower in HFCS (for an added treat see what happens if your husband does it too). Maybe it can be made into a hairspray to fix a terrible haircut. I wonder if lame TV shows are funny once you make a HFCS screen? The possibilities are endless.  

HCSF just might be a panacea for all my problems!!
So, anyone have a good recipe for high fructose corn syrup?

(And a quick note to my book club: don’t worry, I am not using HFCS for the pumpkin rolls I’m bringing this week, they are strangely delicious all on their own. But I wonder if they could taste even better. Hmmm.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

We Found a Boat?

My kids are determined this came from some poor, shipwrecked boat
(even if it looks like a regular two by four).
Something interesting is always washing up in our backyard.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Costumes & Results of an All Candy Diet

This year I went with an easy, no-sew costume idea. All I used was felt, under wonder, fabric paint, and hot glue. You'll notice that my "quirky" dresser opted for a lollipop over a candy bar. And yes, we dressed as Almond Joy and Mounds just for the joke you could make.

Trick or treating was a lot of fun. I was worried when at dusk there were no lit porch lights. By the time we went out there were plenty of lights. Everyone in the neighborhood gave out candy bars (see diagram at right)! By the time we finished half the neighborhood, our bags were full and heavy (chocolate weighs more that smarties, I guess).

Anyway, today after an all candy 24 hour diet, my kids reacted quite strangely. The older three had to take turns. Not on the computer, or the wii, or even the TV. They took turns using my sewing machine and proudly displaying their creations. Then they spent at least 3 hours playing on the beach (except Elise who opted for rare, alone, creative time upstairs). This gave me time to clean up the house and catch up on old Clark Howard Podcasts. If this is how they react to candy, I think that is all I will ever feed them.
PS We had spaghetti with bread sticks and corn for dinner and now they are fighting. I think my theory IS true . . . .

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Painting Pumpkins

I will post the pictures of our Halloween later today, I promise!! Anyway, here are the photos of our annual pumpkin painting.

Top to Bottom: Ryan, Ethan, Kirsti, Matthew, Elise, Joseph, Me