CLICK HERE FOR THOUSANDS OF FREE BLOGGER TEMPLATES »

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Finale

As we near the end of our Christmas Chaos tour 2008 we came home to one final surprise waiting underneath our Christmas tree.

Meet our new babysitter for Lincoln!
I think he likes it.
Santa left a small sprinkling of gifts on the Christmas tree for Elaina and one big toy underneath the tree with Lincoln's name on it!

Christmas for our family this year was great. I recognize how fortunate we are for having the opportunity to be with those that we love and celebrate that our Savior was born. As I cradled Lincoln in my arms each night before bedtime, I've been singing Silent Night to him. As my heart begins to swell with love and gratitude, I thank God that of all things He put on this earth for us to enjoy and make our lives happy and easy, the gift of our children and the love and happiness that we share with them means the world to me. I sometimes wonder if would have ever known true happiness without them? Elaina and Lincoln complete us. They are our most treasured gift each minute of our lives. All is calm and all is bright. Thank you Jesus.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bring on the birthday!

What's Christmas chaos without a birthday party thrown in for good measure? Just ask my brother and sister-in-law as their son, Colin turned 4 today. A Christmas baby who will forever give his parents a run for their money to see how cleverly they can maneuver a birthday party in the midst of this crazy time of year.

This year however, may have proven itself to be one of the best birthdays on record for my sweet nephew. (You know, out of the other 3 he's had;-)) It was an astonishing 65 degrees outside with a sky full of gorgeous sunshine and a special birthday surprise visitor who came knocking on his door. You can catch the video clip here. Greg and Kate never told Colin that we were tagging along with Grandma and Grandpa for his party. Judging from his reaction, I think that he was pretty happy to see his cousin Elaina. (i.e. - his biggest fan) Well that AND the awesome party that his parents rolled out for him. Kate did an amazing job perfecting every detail of a Spongebob Squarepants birthday theme party right down to serving seafood (because Spongebob lives under the sea!) and blue ice cream for their guests.

Even though my kids didn't quite fill their nap quotient for the day, the played nicely and happily and made for pleasant, little party guests. Happy children are key to me enjoying any part of my day. And we all had a great time. Want proof?
(thanks for allowing us to join you for such a great birthday party Greg, Kate and Colin!))
Lincoln doesn't have a clue who Spongebob is but I think they both like cheeseburgers. Colin, cake AND bunnies?? YES!

Lincoln's version of balance. A car in each hand.
Birthday boy! (It's okay, no one saw that!) Happy birthday Colin!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas vacation

The 26th of December! What a lovely day, December 26th. The day following Christmas has always been like a little reward for me. Christmas is still a lovely and fresh memory, you're still pouring over your new goodies from Santa and if you're lucky, there's a refrigerator full of delicious leftovers upon which you are now granted permission to graze upon. What's not to love? On top of that, if there isn't a giant ice storm in the town you're staying in, the day-after-Christmas shopping is great!

This was a great day of full blown laying around and I loved every minute of it. I took Elaina to see her first basketball game at my old high school gym in the evening. My friend happened to be one of the players in an alumni girl's game and I thought it would make an excellent opportunity to show my support for her while seeing how long Elaina would be able to sit still at a sporting event. I reached my conclusion after only 8 minutes. That was it. We sat down, greeted some friends around us, she ate a snack, she was thirsty, wanted to go to the bathroom and then wanted to go home. Okay. Good thing it was free admission.

Later in the evening, Eric and I joined some friends for a night on the town. Alright, we were with friends, we were at a bar and although we had a nice time visiting, it would really be a stretch to it was a "night on the town." If only you saw the town bar. That will just be one of those fun, little memories you tuck clear back in the corner of your mind. But hey, it's the company you keep, right?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

In which Santa delivered

We woke up in the morning to find that Santa was not only in our state, but had actually left presents underneath Grandma and Grandpa's Christmas tree! Of course, Lincoln was the first one awake in the house and could have cared less, but when Elaina caught wind of more presents, she was very interested to see what Santa had left for her. (thus being Christmas the Second)

By noon, we had made our way to my parents' house to celebrate Christmas the Third. We were fortunate that both kids napped before Greg, Kate and Colin arrived which often comes with a little more assurance that our kids will be able to handle themselves for the day without turning into raging monkeys who have gone without food for a week.

Elaina and Colin continue to be each other's biggest fan and were more than ready to see what gifties waited inside of all of that pretty wrapping paper. I mostly loved that both (older) kids shared their toys, were happy with what they received and didn't get their undies in a bunch over taking turns unwrapping. Lincoln was the exception as he (AGAIN) made himself completely unavailable for our gift exchange. He was more than content playing with his cars in the next room and getting into the Chex party mix that my mom had left out on the table. At 20 months, he is very much his own little person and he won't be persuaded to change his independent play time if it involves distracting his attention from rolling his cars around.

Elaina and Colin both received cameras which they used to document every square inch of our day together. Elaina had taken pictures of G & GH's floor, her pillow, the TV, her toys, the chairs, Daddy in his underpants, etc., etc.... you get my drift. One great feature of her new camera is that the "delete" button functions very nicely and easily.
So, didn't the kids just get through unwrapping a mile high mountain of Christmas gifts? (not really, but plenty enough) One might be inclined to think that they would be all consumed in playing with their new toys. Uh. No. It was the empty box that Grandma and Grandpa's new dishwasher came in. They had left it there just for the kids' visit which seemed to be the greatest gift of all. (I hope I have gift receipts; new toys, patooey! cardboard boxes, here we come!)
With one more full day and new location under our belt, Christmas day was grand and just downright enjoyable! Now, if I can only fold that cardboard box down flat enough to fit into my truck...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Since the ice storm in the western half of Ohio affected our travel plans, we enjoyed one more night in our own beds before embarking on our five day tour of Christmas Chaos 2008.

We arrived at Eric's parents' house before noon and while the kids napped peacefully at Grandma and Grandpa W's, Eric and I squeezed in a quick date to the mall sans kids for some last minute shopping. A little free time with my best husband was great, but I also found the perfect pair of winter boots that I've been longing for. And on sale! Woot!

Shortly after our return to the homestead, the Christmas party began to roll in. Eric's family gathered together for dinner and as the extended family began to go about their merry way with their bellies full, the adults finally conceded to the begging children to allow them to open gifts.

My little Lincoln was not amongst the begging children this year. In fact, we couldn't even keep in the same room long enough for him to open his own gifts. Lucky for him, he has a big sister who was more than willing to lend a hand in the unwrapping and then track him down to show him what great gifts he received.
Elaina with her boy cousins on the W. side. One of Santa's elves got left at their house by accident.

Although this wasn't Lincoln's gift, he enjoyed taking it for a test drive.
After all of that gift opening, Elaina and her cousin Raina kick back on Lincoln's 5' teddy bear from Grandma and Grandpa W. Elaina had to catch up on texting to her peeps.
Christmas the First was great! The food was plentiful, the family was together and memories were made. We were fortunate enough to end our evening by seeing a special report on the evening news that was tracking Santa's sleigh in our state which was enough to send one young, non-sleeping child scampering off to bed without another word. A perfect end to a perfect day!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

ramble, ramble, ramble and a happy new year

I'm not exactly sure what did it. Maybe it was the Christmas music. Maybe it was exchanging gifts at work. Maybe it's the prospect of having 5 days off of work (in a row!) to spend with my family. Or maybe it's because Christmas is 2 short days away. Whatever it was and whatever it took, I think that I am finally in the Christmas spirit!!

Merry Christmas!

After Thanksgiving fell so late in the year and my dear husband's time being consumed with hunting season, things have been moving so fast around here and just the thought of hauling of the Christmas stuff down from the attic and going through all of the hassle of decorating the tree and the house, well, it just seemed like a pain. Worse than that, I hated that I felt so scroogey about letting myself get in the Christmas spirit because of the hassle it took to get there! Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, but Christmas can sometimes be a lot of work.

Lucky for us, Eric and I encouraged one another and brought down storage container after storage container and our house has looked like "Christmas" for almost 2 weeks already. And I love it! Once I started pulling one pretty, sparkly decoration out, one after another, my stingy-scrooge mood began to slip off of me and I am ready for full blown holiday hoopla!

As of this evening, Eric has all of the gifts wrapped, we had our bags packed and the truck filled and ready to roll on out to my in-laws for Christmas celebration #1. Just as we were getting ready to leave, my mother-in-law called to warn us of the icy conditions of the roadways in their area and that the weather predictions seem to be favoring tomorrow for a safer travel day. In any case, I would much rather be safe than in a hurry. So, here we are, kids tucked snuggly into their warm beds, my final blog for the length of time we will be away from home and all of us anxiously looking forward to all that Christmas has to offer us this year!

Wishing each of you a happy and warm Christmas and a great new year ahead filled with blessings and with love!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winner #1 and Winner #2

Whew, so there was my first, last and only contest ever to be posted on this blog. Pay it forward is a good idea in theory and a good idea if you have a large reading audience and a good idea if you don't host it exactly the week before Christmas and a good idea if you have readers who may not already be burned out from hosting more than their share already. Not such a good idea to host here.

The good news is that Tracy and HollyLynne have been selected as the grand prize winners of my Pay it Forward contests. Contest #1 and contest #2, respectively. I've decided not to put anyone else through the torture of a potential second contest, thus accounting for two winners from one contest. Sarcasm aside, I'm happy to be able to send out some pretties to these lovely ladies because Tracy and I have gotten to know one another through our blogs and I love following her life through her amazing photos and reading about her sweet girls. As for HollyLynne, she's already reaping what she sowed from her PIF contest in which I was on the receiving end of these stunners which are the current BFF's of my ear lobes. Aren't they beauties? She has an awesome collection of handmade jewelry available for purchase at her Etsy shop with an assortment of styles that will make you only wish that you were HollyLynne herself to have the luxury of having all of these pretties for yourself. Not to mention that the craftsmanship she puts into each piece is something to be admired.

So Tracy and HollyLynne, when you have a minute please send me your mailing information and I'll be happy to ship off some pretties to you!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

let's get to it! PIF style!

Let's talk.*

*My husband always cringes when I approach him with those words.* *And that's why it's just fun for me to say sometimes.* (evil: "heeheehee")

So I haven't mentioned what a what a big winner I've turned out to be on a couple of fabulous Pay-It-Forward contests now have I?
Nope.
Not until now, I'm ready to spill!
I WON! I WON! TWICE! even!
The reason I haven't made mention of it sooner is because I knew I wanted to save something this huge for just the right timing AND I had to be ready to come up with something even close to as beautiful, fabulous and lovely as the awesome loot that I received. Get it? Paying it forward!!! And now, it's my turn.

Since my original plan was to host my first Pay It Forward contest for my birthday, (and that came and went) I am still going to plan on the PIF prize package to include loads of little goodies that I personally like and therefore you should like too. Heh, okay, I can't afford to send you a heated mattress pad or my GPS because I would literally be lost without them! But! I will be sending the randomly selected winner a healthy amount of goodies, some edible, some not, of things that put a smile on my face and make my day happier. (Children not included.)

The rules are pretty simple. And I'm all about simple here at the hectic holidays. On second thought, they really shouldn't be considered "rules" after all because they are more or less "suggestions" of how this whole contest goes down.

Suggestion #1: Since my original plan was to give you presents on my birthday, I am asking you to leave me a comment telling me about your most favorite birthday present or birthday memory ever and who it came from. Be detailed, I like to pry, I mean read.

Suggestion #2: Comments must be received by midnight (Eastern time) on Friday, December 19, 2008. I'll see how quickly I can scurry to the post office and cause your postal carrier even more work this season that you may receive your goodies by Christmas. Just be sure to link me to your blog or provide a valid e-mail address for me to contact you if you win.

Suggestion #3: Once you receive your package, it's up to you to Pay it Forward in some way or another. If you don't have a blog, no problem! I'm certain that you have loads of real-life friends who would love to be on the receiving end of a kind deed or small gift or favor. Won't you be popular? Just remind them that what comes around, goes around. Enough said.

Easy peasy! Isn't this so much fun? Just in case you're new here or have just never commented, isn't this a fun way to break the ice? Letting me give you free stuff! What's not to love? Start thinking about those birthday memories!

And while you're doing that, let me share with you the great, motherload of goodies that I received from Kelsey which started this whole thing! ShaZAM, that Lady was good to me! And my kids!
*** Remember how I mentioned I won two contests? Oh Yeah... my next PIF is will be shiny!

Friday, December 12, 2008

settling

Yes, that sneaky Christmas holiday will be arriving right on schedule again this year in just 2 short weeks. Do you think that we've made time for a posed kid picture for Christmas cards? NO! Do we have our Christmas tree up and fully decorated yet to use a backdrop? NO! Can we afford to grovel to JCPenney and tell them that we should have ordered 80 overpriced Christmas photo cards of our lovely family portrait and kindly ask them to do a reprint into card format for no extra charge? NO! Do we have $100 to spend on Christmas cards this year? NO! Would we rather slap together a mostly unprepared family picture on a Christmas themed card stock, pay for overnight delivery and send it out to our most beloved friends and family? YES!! Check your mail.

The long and the short of the story is that since Thanksgiving fell so late in the month this year, December hit us square in our unsuspecting jaw thus causing panic and stress in our household. Well, for me, anyhow. Eric is a non-stresser. About anything. Ever. I digress. When we had planned our trip to Children's Wonderland with our parents, I already set about the mission of dressing the kids cute (how did I do?) and have them pose in front of one of the many gorgeous backdrops they had to offer. Still following? Yes, I said pose. A one and a three year-old. Ooh BOY! Any guesses on who stood still and who didn't? If you guessed that NEITHER child stood still within arms length of the other for longer than a second AND looked in the general direction of the camera: YOU WIN! (A Christmas card, maybe?)

It wasn't long before we reached the decision that in order to have a Christmas card photo taken this weekend (could not waiver) and to keep the kids still, we had to restrain, I mean, hold them. Alas, Eric and I got produced onto our Christmas picture as well. Not really as I planned because, hello... I would have put on a little more lipstick and taken care of a little less shine across the old, stressed Mom -face. Also... tha hair. **quiver** Not so good. BECAUSE I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO BE IN A PICTURE!

Here's what we were up against folks:

What did I miss? Did Lincoln tell his first joke because I'm seeing two heads swiveling in his general direction.
Elaina, you know I love you. And that's why I'm asking you not to cheese quite so hard. You're cute, we get it. Meh... I also wasn't entirely impressed with this Christmas background.
Okay, this background is much better. It looks all chilly and glistening doesn't it? Again, Elaina, still cute but how 'bout a little less leg and rump showing for a family picture. Nice lollipops Kids.

I'm afraid that there is no great finale here Folks. This is it. The picture below is the one we ultimately decided on because I still love the background, nothing seems to be growing out of any one's head from behind them, body parts appear modest and even though Elaina is looking everywhere else except at the camera, it could have been worse. As presented above.
If it were all left up to me and casting all appropriateness aside, I would have just decided on this one and called it a day.
I love the look of laundry baskets stacked in the background, teetering on which may fall first. Oh, and Elaina... way to compose yourself. Now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Roseanna

Earlier in the week, Santa Claus made a special visit to our town (again) to see all of the good little girls and boys. Prior to going to see him, I talked to Elaina about what Santa was going to look like, sound like and that it was okay for her to talk to him without being shy.

Once we got there, Elaina was much more excited about the treats from the cookie table and didn't realize how soon our turn with Santa was coming. She told Lincoln that he could go first. Polite isn't she? And so, Lincoln did. While he wasn't terribly impressed, he never turned his head to see exactly who was holding him. He would be okay as long as he kept looking the other way. Lincoln, my man of few words, really didn't ask Santa for anything more than when he could go back to his mom, which he made clear by his repeated "Ehhhh!" plea in a desperate tone. While I was decending my son onto Santa's lap, I had a brief request of my own for Santa Claus to fulfill. I pulled a little "magic" from the lining of my jacket, straight into Santa's furry, red suit. Since it was more than obvious that Elaina wasn't going to have anything to do with coming within 5 feet of Santa, I asked that he give her a magic elf, straight from the North Pole. Can you believe how lucky Elaina was to have her very own elf come and live with her?
In all actuality, Aunt Kate and Uncle Greg were the original "gifters" of the elf and I decided that the best time to help create some Christmas magic for Elaina would be straight from the big guy himself. Of course then, it was my turn to harp on how lucky she was because none of the other kids got elves from Santa and that she already came named "Roseanna" because Rose is her middle name and Santa already knew that. (Fact: the elf really did come pre-named and ironically-to me anyhow- my grandma's name was Anna Rose; fitting that "Roseanna" would come to be a part of our family:->)So more about the elf later, here are pictures of everything I have ever wanted for Christmas. Signed, sealed, paid for and delivered! I couldn't decide which picture was my favorite, so you get them all.
**While I'm at it: You can double click on any of these pictures to make them larger and just tell me if it's just in my head, or is the resemblance between Eric and our kids unbelievable? Hello miracle and thank you God. Beautiful pairing you've done here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Birthday help

On Sunday, we celebrated Eric's grandmother's 90th birthday by surprising her with a party. This was the primary reason we made a second weekend trip (in a row) to be out of town. Seeing the reaction on her face and just knowing how much she enjoyed having all of her family there, showing how much we all care for her, made our trip so worthwhile.

Lucky for her that she had so much help when it came time to blow out her candles. Check out who is front and center just waiting for her piece. Why, it's Picky Pickerson, the cake eater!
The kids had so much fun and were actually on pretty good behavior which totally eases my stress level and lets me enjoy the occasion too. This just proves that the day will eventually come when all of our plans don't have to revolve around our kids' napping schedule. What a happy, little world that will be.

Almost all of Eric's immediate family (dad's side) for a four generation picture.
Happy 90th birthday Grandma W!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Icy wonderland

Lincoln had a bad-baby night our first night staying with Eric's parents. He has a very specific internal clock which doesn't allow for much wiggle room on his particular, little schedule. He likes to eat the minute his butt hits the highchair, he MUST be fed dinner promptly at 6 p.m and his bedtime window is only open between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. Any deviation from what he wants will surely be grounds for a baby-retaliation.

We missed the bedtime window and said child was fussing and fitting his ever-loving head off from 3:30 to 5:00 a.m. Lawrdy, Child! Sleep already! Aside from this being a major pain the arse, we all needed to rest for the big day we had ahead of us. It was Children's Wonderland day!
Eric's parents, my parents, Eric's sis, BIL and nephew had all made plans to take the kids to a children's magical wonderland of vivid animation and holiday showcases. This indoor, seasonal display has been around since the time our parents were kids and I remember going there when I was in grade school. I was so excited to share the magic and lights with my kids and with both sets of grandparents joining us.

The unfortunate part about the day was that the weather began to turn wicked cold and snowy, rendering the roadways sheets of ice. My anxiety and stress level reached an all time, panic-button-high during our almost one hour drive to get there on the slick roads as we passed accidents almost every 5 miles. I could have thrown up by the time we finally got there. Safely of course, but I was more than rattled.

Aside from the gut wrenching anxiety of traveling, the kids loved the winter wonderland and we all had nice time making memories together.

Here are some of the highlights of our day:

And now you know where Santa keeps his reindeer... they were all waiting to play "reindeer games" with Rudolph.Eric's parents with the one and only grandchild that would hold still for longer than a hot second. My parents with the happy, sticky-lollipop-face child.My Elaina, what long legs you have! What's wrong with your brother's head?

Despite the rocky start to our morning, the kids behaved very well for the better part of the day and even through dinner which was creeping dangerously close to their bedtime hour. The only thing that could have made the day better was having a group photo of all 11 of us together. But seriously, 11? Didn't so much happen this time. We'll have to put that on our list for next year.

Lately...

There has been too much going on lately with the W family. (That's us.) Things are well with all of us, but we need to find a way to shift our lives into low gear. Every day, I tell myself that "next week won't be so busy, just get through this week." And do you want to know what happens then? The "busy" doesn't cease.

Last week, I was embarrassingly light on the blog front. One evening was spent with Elaina at the library for story time and then a special, "surprise" visit from Santa. Elaina enjoyed the Christmas stories sitting front row with the other kids and she liked the paper crafted reindeer that we made together but when it came to the big, jolly fat guy himself, she cowered behind me, not wanting Santa to see her. Lincoln had a case of the yellies and it seemed much more sensible to leave him home for some Daddy time.

(The reindeer head is made of a tracing of Elaina's booted foot and the antlers from tracing her hands.)(She glued on the eyes and mouth and even decorated eyelashes for her girl-reindeer.)
This past weekend, we were headed out of town for the second trip in a row to visit our parents. I worked my tail off on Wednesday and Thursday night trying to get all of the laundry done, bags unpacked from Thanksgiving weekend, bags packed for the upcoming weekend and everything put away to avoid a giant mess-collide upon return from another weekend away. Eric picked me up from work on Friday and away we went. Let the busy begin. Oh, and I had a birthday too.

sinking

Woe is me for I don't know where to begin.

I don't know where to begin catching up on my blogging that has taken a back seat in my life.

I don't have a clue how I am going to find time to squeeze just 2 more hours of work (at home) into my day and maintain the inadequate 6 that I am currently getting by on.

I'm desperately ashamed that it's December 8 already and I still have half of my Fall themed decorations hanging in my house and the other half recklessly packed away.

I'm teetering in my mind if I'll go out and drag all of our Christmas stuff down from the attic to decorate for the next 30 days, or if I'll do a very minimalistic Christmas theme at our house.

I don't know when I'll find time to get a Christmas card together and mailed out, Christmas presents wrapped and what in the world am I going to buy for the remaining 3 people on my shopping list.

I don't know who honestly cares at this point to read all of my pointless rambling since it only seems whiney and pathetic and that I could seriously benefit from either a stiff drink, anti-depressants or some crack.

(okay, maybe not crack, because I wouldn't have time to find a dealer, but a glass of wine and a day off would do me wonders!)

*** And now, we'll return to our regularly scheduled happy family stories and cancel any future program notes of self-pity and grumbling.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Little Turkeys

Hi my name is Laura and I'm truly pathetic for taking almost a week to find time to post pictures. Based upon the evidence I am to present, wouldn't you agree that there is no excuse for not sharing these sooner?

God does this boy melt my heart!! Oh, my handsome boy!
Is it just me, or is anyone else having trouble figuring out whose body parts belong with which kid? It's a tangled mess of kids.

While Colin was changing out of his wet shirt, Elaina also decided that turkey day was best spent shirtless with her cousin.
Let the posing begin. Aren't they animated?
I hope they always love each other this much. I just hope that in the coming years, they opt for shirts.
Can you tell that we enjoyed our Thanksgiving? And I couldn't be more thankful for the little turkeys that I got to share it with!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Gobble-dee-goo

Here I am!

I just know that you were on the edge of your seat just waiting for my return, right?

Since I hardly know where to start to sum up what has been our previous week, I may as well just jump in feet first.

The first part of last week, Eric was in West Virginia and the kids and I actually had a pretty easy time together from Saturday to Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon (before Thanksgiving) I decided to leave work early and bust my tail to pack our bags and head to my parents' house a day early. After running like a maniac gathering everything we would need for 4 days away from home (and I still forgot stuff!), I was finally ready to pick the kids up from the sitter's house and get on the road. However, in all of my planning, I happened to discover that I had a 100 pound problem that I seemed to have overlooked. Keegan. How in the world was I going to get his furry, hind end into my truck? Up until only a few years ago, he would have himself positioned in the truck bed with even the slightest hint that we were going on a trip. As the years have caught up with him, he has since grown heavier, more arthritic and is now mostly blind.

Because it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, none of my neighbors were home to lend a hand and I was most certainly not holding up all of my plans of leaving this day because of my dog. And then it dawned on me. I carried our oversized ottoman outside, guided his front paws on top and then his rear end and then heaved his happy self into the truck. Victory was mine!

Our trip to my parents' house was lovely and uneventful and we were all happy to start our mini vacation together. Since my brother and sister-in-law have other turkey day obligations, we have taken to a new tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving day by feasting on crab leg. As my mom quoted weeks prior, "What's Thanksgiving without crab leg?" And so we did. Thursday was also plentiful in the napping and slothing department too. Do we know how to enjoy a holiday or what?

Now let me tell you about black Friday shopping! Another tradition that we have fine tuned in our own custom way is having my on site baby sitter's (Grandparents) watch my kids on black Friday while I get up before the crack of dawn to have my hiney in the stores collecting deals. I scour the sale ads the night before like it's my job; prioritizing, labeling and mapping my route for optimal efficiency and maneuverability. I was in my first store (under the influence of a tall cappuccino) just a little past 5 a.m. and when I finally thought that I may have just run out of stores to shop, the time was quickly approaching 2:00 p.m. I had to add the numbers a couple times to really make myself believe that I had been shopping for 9 hours! The best part is that everyone was happy, rested and fed by the time I returned home. No harm, no foul. A lovely day and great deals!

Saturday finally brought Thanksgiving day for my family in the way of Greg, Kate and Colin. (And a bounce house.)(We'll get to that.) Colin was the first in the door upon their arrival and the minute Elaina laid eyes on her cousin, she ran across the room with outstretched arms that flung around his little body like he just had jumped out of the television set off of one of her favorite shows. In her mind, Colin is an idol. Like rock-star-idol in the life of a 3 year-old.

The kids played so nicely and happily together and while we were stalling time, waiting for dinner, we sent our wild monkeys out to the garage to bounce in the bounce house that Greg and Kate had brought along and loaning out to us. Lincoln was so excited and eager to jump but he had just jammed a giant serving of cheese and crackers into his mouth and hadn't yet finished the whole chewing-swallowing process. As he was about to squirm out of my arms, I finally coaxed him into spitting out his mutilation into the trash can so that he could get on with his business of bouncing. They had the best time ever!

Saturday and Sunday were lovely and leisurely and the times that I could have spent blogging or doing something the least bit productive, I spent sleeping or watching T.V. Two of the things I love to do but never seem to find enough time in the day to do them. I've heard that you can't "make up" lack of sleep, but over the course of the weekend, I tried my best to disprove that theory. I beg to differ and if you want, I could keep on re-testing that for a truly accurate conclusion. But only if you insist that I keep trying.

So there you have it, Thanksgiving 2008.
Highlights: bouncing, shopping, Lincoln liking shrimp, Mommy enjoying extra sleep and Elaina calling my brother "Aunt Craig!" <--- (loved that part!)
I can't wait until we get to do all of this again in another year!

Monday, December 01, 2008

a date, perhaps

ooohh, it's been almost an entire week since I've made time to sit my happy, little butt down for a quick mind-spill and wanna know something else? I can't even make time tonight to recap our fabulous and LONG Thanksgiving weekend to do it justice. So, is everyone free tomorrow evening? Say about 10:00? I'll be here then doing my best to let the kid pictures flood my page and tell you how many consecutive hours I can spend shopping on Black Friday. Sound good? Good. See you then!

(yes, it's been one of those days!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

100

I love it when blogging posts get handed to me on silver platters, er, um, pretty blog backgrounds from my neighborhood pals. This idea I'm pulling from Heather and I so much loved reading what she's done and see what she's created to share with her kids one day. So, I'm following suit to see what I can check off.

The following is a previously compiled list and the things I have done are highlighted in bold and obviously in purple. Some things... well, some things are just better left for some one else. But I'm still finding plenty on the list that I can aspire to do one day.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day.

So, 40 out of a pre-listed 100 that I have done. When the day comes that I have more money than I know what to do with, maybe it'll be easier to knock off a few of the world- traveler themed items. I'm sure that the Sistine Chapel and a gondola in Venice will still be there for me when that happens, right?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

day two

Have you ever had one of those days when you really just feel like you were a really good mom? Not like you're not a good mom any other day, but there are some days when the kids seem happy and content, the day runs without incident and you feel most of your sanity and composure still intact after the kids go to bed. THOSE days.

I'm happy to say that we enjoyed one of those kind of days today. And since I'm running the show by myself (and didn't let Elaina recruit herself to plan our day) I feel like today was a pretty nice success.

Since it's about 4 degrees warmer than an iceberg outside, we had no plans of going anywhere today and only opened the door to let the dog out. That's it. Elaina got to play with Play-Doh and Lincoln tried to eat Play-Doh. Lincoln didn't like Play-Doh because he couldn't eat it. Elaina played happily for almost an hour. Elaina also earned a reward for her good behavior and had me paint her finger and toe nails sparkly pink!
Lincoln's behavior seems to be changing by the week. He's learning that his bedtime routine consists of brushing his teeth while I sing to him and then we read books, we snuggle while I rock him and then I ask for kisses, he laughs and tries to squirm away from me as I press a dozen kisses into his head and face and then it's crib time for my boy. This is the same little boy who had me so worried that he hated books and hated to sit still and didn't want to have anything to do with sitting quietly and rocking on my lap. Progress has come with time and along with him growing older, both Eric and I remained diligent about keeping "Squirmer" on our lap long enough to get through even the shortest of books. Now we read 2 or 3 books and on the occasional nights that he comes to me with outstretched arms to sit on my lap to read, just about brings tears to my eyes. Progress, Little Man.

Other than that, I think that I'm losing the battle with the nasty sinus infection that's been toying with me all week. My laundry is nearly caught up and I might just make it to bed tonight before 11:00. That's the last goal on my list: early bedtime. I gotta go!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

day one

This morning, Eric left for his annual hunting trip in West Virginia. It's the start of gun season down there and he stays with family and is able to celebrate Thanksgiving with them to conclude his week away.

Now that both kids are a little bit older, (that's a relative term) I don't seem to feel quite as anxious as I did when Lincoln was still a baby and Elaina was still learning the whole single parent routine. What I mean by that is I now have only one child in diapers, both kids can entertain themselves for reasonable lengths of time and Elaina can be trusted to behave without having Daddy to have to fall back on. This is a nice feeling compared to just one year ago.

Since I also plan to celebrate Thanksgiving away from home, I'm keeping my eye on the prize just knowing that I have to only make my way alone from Saturday through Wednesday before heading out to stay with my parents. Five days. I can do that.

Today was pretty good. Although I felt like my day consisted of washing dishes and scrubbing the table down 78,000 times, we did well. At one point, Elaina was playing games on the computer and Lincoln's scraggly baby hair was just screaming at me for neglecting it for so long. All of the sudden, I could no longer handle waiting for a professional to get us in for an appointment, nor could I wait for a hand from my mom to help cut it. (Incidentally, my mom is a self-taught beautician. Key word: self.) I dug out my haircutting shears (that's the only professional thing I had going for me) and began to snip away at Lincoln's golden, wispy, baby locks. I took advantage of the perfect staging doing it myself; Lincoln was standing in front of the TV, fixated to Yo! Gabba Gabba! which was prime time for his first haircut. Plus I even remembered to take before and after pictures and I saved his hair for his baby book! How do you like me now!!

BEFORE: (Scraggly. I know!) (Plus his head was angled up.)

THE LOVELY AFTER: (pay no attention to the grump face, it was not haircut related)
Surprisingly enough, it actually turned out pretty good. No more scraggly baby hair, but layers which actually look like "texture" in his hair and not so fine and flimsy. Although you can't tell from the picture, the back is straight and even. I should have combed through it before taking his picture.


I must have been on a haircut high because it was that moment that I decided that Elaina also, was due for her first haircut. Three and a half years old and getting her first haircut! I trimmed the length of her hair after she was fresh from her bath and only took off the uneven ends which was all of about one inch. Her haircut saddened me just a little because to me, these were the last thing that connected her with the tiny newborn that we brought home from the hospital. These were the same golden curls that she had when she was a year old and the same ones that began to touch her shoulders when she turned 2. Lincoln, well, he was a peach-fuzz head from day one and his hair only really began to grow within the past 8 months.


How's that for posterity? Another "baby's first" to put down in the baby book and retell when my kids are pre-teens and actually have an interest in when things happened in their life timeline.

Friday, November 21, 2008

you know you're getting old when...

you appreciate how nice your new trash can looks in your kitchen.
Behold what has come to make me feel just a little bit giddy inside. I'm so weird.

The best part is that it comes fully Lincoln-proofed. Yep, I really like my can.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Not Ignoring the Ringing I Hear

After work today, I made my bi-monthly Wal-Mart run (shopping Day 3 if you're counting) and if I'm not mistaken, it looks as though it is the opening day for the Salvation Army's bell ringers to be out in full force with their red, metal kettles. I didn't see them yesterday and it's going to be a long time before they go away.

I parked my fat SUV in a close parking space and took off my warm gloves to check over my shopping list. Included on my list were several food items, but also items that just seem to make our lives a little more enjoyable. A little more luxurious and a little bit easier. It was that moment that I looked up and spied a Salvation Army bell ringer, volunteering their time in the freezing cold weather, being ignored by shoppers too busy rushing past to get into the warmth of the store and buy what they need and what they want. I began to think how many times I've filled that role, making up excuses in my head that I don't have any pocket change or I don't want to take my gloves off to look or I simply don't have time to drop in a spare dime. Embarrassing excuses don't you think?

From that moment, it struck me how fortunate I am, how fortunate my family is and how blessed we are every single day. We really don't have a "need" for anything. And isn't that nice to be able to say? While there are most certainly plenty of people with greater financial wealth than ourselves, just think of how many people right in our own community, who don't know when or where their next meal is coming from. And one season a year, volunteers step up across the country, reaching out to make a difference. All you have to do is stretch out your arm.

So, I'm doing it. From this day forward, a new tradition has been born into our family. I will no longer pretend that I'm not acutely aware of that ringing bell in the cold night air. I won't think of how much money I don't have in my purse, but rather dig until I come up with something. And most importantly, not let a single day go by without thanking God for how blessed we are and how He continues to provide.

The side effect of this effort in giving is twofold. Can you imagine a better lesson and tradition to share with your children? When our kids are grown and they hear that bell ringing next to the red kettle, I don't want them to remember a single time in their life that that didn't mean for them to take action. Like making a simple contribution was ever an option given to them. It's just the way it's always been. In addition to that, even with the simplest contribution of my spare change each year, it accounts for something. It may be the difference in feeding a hungry person their next meal. Or it may that a lovely 3 year old girl or boy gets their very first new toy to call their own.

Whatever it means, I'm in. Anyone care to join me this season?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We could get used to this...

My parents came into town to stay with us this weekend just after last weekend's visit with Grandma and Grandpa W. Whew, do you suppose we could we ever get used to so much attention and new people to put kids to bed and new people to sit beside at dinnertime and new play companions? Um, yeah!!! (you didn't think the answer would be "no" did you?)
Elaina and Lincoln were mostly hysterical and kept the four of us on our toes at all times. I think that my mom and dad finally understood that I've never exaggerated when I say that you need to keep an eye on Lincoln all of the time. That little stinkbug isn't so much into watching TV like his big sis, (which is FINE) but what he enjoys the most is putting himself into places he doesn't belong and running his cars ANYwhere that he can find a flat surface. Oh, and the fact that he is part monkey and likes to climb ONTO everything! My parents witnessed firsthand what a little Stinka-Stink Linky-Dink really is.

Other than not being on any time table other than making an effort to sleep in, we went shopping. Let's just say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree:-)) We shopped on Saturday and on Sunday! My mom has always been a shopper and my dad, since retirement, has enjoyed the thrill of the hunt more than ever, but most especially, when there are kiddos to help wrangle. God love him for that!

We all enjoyed our time together and so much looking forward to our next visit with them at Thanksgiving! Which is next week already. Seriously.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Things

Since this week has been relentless at kicking my tail end, I am going to wrap up my week with a list of "things."
Categories: Mad, Sad, Glad and Bad "THINGS"

Ready?

The MAD things this week had to offer me:
1. My co-worker has a serious stench problem. And in utmost honesty and fairness, it is severe. No exaggeration. The whole office has pitched in and tried to remedy the stink (coming from her coat in the coat room also) by spraying their well-intended air fresheners which have only taken on a new stink and caused me to come home with a headache each and every single day.
2. ^ headache.
3. ^ every.
4. ^ single.
5. ^ day.

The SAD things that have occupied me this week:
1. It's hunting season. This is the one month each year that I don't expect to see hyde, not hair of my own husband as he forsakes me for long walks in the woods with his gun.
2. I've heard too many stories of children being victims this week to last me 8 lifetimes. Needless to say, I don't work in a very happy place. No one comes there for anything good.
3. Even though I was off work on Monday and Tuesday, I don't feel like I accomplished very much even though I took the kids to the babysitter's house.
4. I should have bought more stuff at Kohl's when I had my 30% off coupon. (Yeah, that makes me sad.)(I like stuff.)
5. I only wish that I could read Lincoln's mind. The past two nights he has woke around 10:00 crying his ever-loving head off and the only thing that makes him happy is to let him wander around and play. I don't know if he's not feeling well, if he's getting his 2 year molars, or what.

The GLAD things that I have enjoyed this week:
1. I took Monday off and our offices were closed on Tuesday in recognition of Veteran's Day. Hello 4 day weekend;-)))
2. Did I mention that I won my blogger-friend Kelsey's Pay It Forward prize? And I won another awesome Pay It Forward contest last month too! (this is coming from the girl who never wins anything!) We don't get our mail from the post office on a regular basis so I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my next big prize!
3. With my fabulous winnings now bestowed upon me, it will soon be my turn to host my very own Pay It Forward contest. Get it? Win, pay it forward! Since my birthday is only a few weeks away, I've pretty much decided that I will be holding my first contest then since I've already learned that it is better to give than receive. I'll host my second contest to kick off the new year in 2009. (Seriously, that's like 90 days away!) That's exciting stuff Folks!
4. Last month, frugal-me took a serious plunge and splurged (invested) on purchasing a a professional hairdryer to tame my naturally frizzy, unruly hair. Every. Single. Morning. I am so happy to have that sucker, err, um, blower. I've had seriously happy hair ever since.
5. I'm glad that this work week is almost over. 3 days? I can do it!

And finally, the BAD things that have caused me stress this week:
1. During our play date on Sunday, Elaina must have bitten her tongue at some point, however didn't complain until that night and it's been causing her pain ever since. I was really taken back at how badly she chomped down on it to cause the marking that it did. It's caused her so much pain that she wakes up in the middle of the night crying because of it and it hurts her to eat. That's the last thing this kid needs; something to cause her to want to eat less than she already does. I didn't know that "less" was possible.
2. Eric's regular work scheduled compiled with his generally-inconvenient-hunting schedule has left Eric burning the candle at both ends and us not seeing much of him. This has also created me to cover as "solo mom" to pick up the slack along the way, both morning and night.
3. The "Super-Mom-Wannabe" which I aspire to be finds me at midnight bedtimes and 6:00 mornings. While this is ordinary to some (you're crazy by the way!) this Momma needs more sleep! My eyes want to slam shut by noon and then again at 3:00 and 8:00. But no.
4. Judging from the telltale crappy weather we've been having recently, I just find myself dreading the beginning of a long, cold and dark winter.
5. Some of my fellow blogger friends have been so diligently working on posting a new blog each day this month as part of National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and since this week has been already taking it's toll on me, I can barely squeeze in time to read all of their posts, let alone keep up by trying to comment on what a great job they are doing keeping me entertained.

That's my week in a nutshell. Dare I say that next week will be better?

NO. It's STILL hunting season. Maybe by February. Cross your fingers.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why "2" fit us fine

A friend of mine is going through a little rough patch with some circumstances in her life and her marriage at this point and I thought the only thing that I could possibly think to help lend her a hand at the given moment was to offer to watch her kids for a few hours to allow her some time alone.

When I called her asking for her kids to come over for a play date, she told me how nice it was for me to think of that and that while many other people have offered to help her in other ways, what she really needed most was some kid-free, adult time. Just by her acknowledging so openly that I was actually providing some much needed help to her, I felt like she was the one doing me a favor. I can't even tell you how good it felt for me to know that the simple favor I was doing for her, meant so much to her and how much she appreciated it. And it didn't cost me a dime, or any of my time, nothing except for being there to play with her kids for a couple hours. Better yet, my kids thought it was a major event hosting their friends at our house. What a giant boost to my self-esteem; realizing that it is better to give than to get.

So, what in the world do I do with 4 kids? The cast of characters include my 1 and 3 year old and my friends' players, a 3 and a 5 year old. I let them decorate cupcakes, color, and jump and bounce around on the sofa and the slide. They played kitties melting in hot lava. (5 year old imagination?) They were wild, screaming horses on a rampage. And myself and the 3 older ones even sat on the floor and took turns rolling the ball to one another. We had only one snag in misunderstanding (read: not listening) which resulted in a shattered picture frame from a ball kicked in the house. No one was injured. All kids remained intact.

The afternoon was interesting to say the least. I very much recognize that 2 kids is exactly the right amount for me (like I have a choice) but at the same time, 4 kids wouldn't be impossible. (as long as I had earplugs on standby) Also, because our mini-guest siblings are 2 years apart, as are my duo, it was like catching a glimpse into our future with a 5 year old Elaina and a 3 year old Lincoln. That alone, made me want to freeze Elaina into forever being 3 and let Lincoln catch up to speed. A little bit. At least until he can talk to me and we can have conversations. And he's done teething. And he can feed himself.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

When the Grandparents come visiting


On Friday afternoon my mother and father-in-law arrived for an overnight visit. It's been a while since they've happened this way and the kids were especially happy to see them.

We enjoyed dinner out together as timing would have it that they would be celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary the very next day. The pre-kid, well rested me would have gone through a little more trouble and planning and actually had a nice evening meal prepared at home, but those days are gone and the joy in eating is now having someone else do the preparation and the cleaning up. The old me would have even been so thoughtful to get a card for the occasion. Current status: I haven't been in a card store since before Lincoln was born.

All of that aside, they didn't come here looking for any fanfare or party balloons, just some quality time with their youngest son and his family. So, do you want to know what we did first thing on Saturday morning? My mother-in-law accompanied me in taking the kids (and myself) in getting a flu shot. Yep. Come on over to my place if you want your fill of family bonding, skin piercing, baby screaming, lollipop-licking moments. (Thanks Brenda for coming along with me! Really.)

Other than that, we had nothing on our agenda other than hanging out around the house and losing count of how many times Elaina had to be told to stop squeezing her brother. She loves him. Intensely. To the point of wanting to squeeze him into tiny, Lincoln bits. My poor boy.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Storage solution

His second favorite place to be. Seriously. Thank God that Christmas is coming up... forget real toys, I hope we can get our hands on some oversized boxes. A virtual playland in the making.