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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.

Welcome to my evenings

And I wonder how I haven't been able to find time to blog.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Family Affair

The time has come. Elaina is almost 3 1/2 and Lincoln is 18 months old today. I was determined to finally get a family picture.

We've always had good luck at the JCPenney studio and didn't hesitate to book our family appointment there. I made sure to steer clear of the kids' nap times, I secretly packed Lincoln's favorite musical toy for the photographer to lure his attention and we didn't even have to wait when we arrived. Things were looking good.

As we piled into the room, I instantly felt warm. Like their thermostat was set inexplicably high, even for a cold-blooded gal like myself. I knew that while we were all dressed for outside temperatures, our photographer was going to be have to snap some pictures quick before my wild bandits decided not to sit a moment longer dressed in their pressed shirts and layers.

We started with a family pose since that was our ultimate goal and immediately after the first click of the camera, things only went down hill. For the little one especially. Lincoln had made up his mind to get his little self right out of that room. Elaina was great except for her most gigantic, pretend camera-ham smile from ear to ear. Nothing says "natural" like wide, transfixed eyes and an overly- clenched mouth that seems to be screaming GIGGLE! Funny though she is. Most of hers turned out rather good.

Even after Eric pulled Lincoln to the side for a thumb-suckin' break, he made it clear to us one more time that he was finished. F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D! At this point, the photographer had only gotten a few pictures of the 4 of us and we had plenty of time left. I suggested that she just go ahead and take pictures of Elaina then. She was most definitely cooperating to say the least.
Once she had posed by herself for a few shots, I asked that Eric and I both get an individual picture with her pretty, little self too. Lincoln on the other hand, well... Eric had to put him into his stroller, wheel him out and buy him a soft fleecy blanket for him to snuggle against since that is the one thing I did not count on needing to take pictures. So Lincoln Todd, if you ever complain that you don't have have an "official" one year old picture taken closer to your 1st birthday, now you know why. By no means are you a delight to pose in a formal picture setting. In fact, I already find myself beginning to dread his 2 year picture. Lincoln has 6 months to practice sitting and smiling. Got it Kiddo?

Without further ado, let me present to you our first family pictures!

Cute and fun, but I passed because I found the next one to be just a little more cute and a little more fun.
This one was the keeper.

I loved everything about this pose except that my handsome husband's eyes look all wonky and Elaina's smile is just about verging on goofy. I probably should have ordered this one because the more I look at it, the more charm I'm seeing. This didn't make it on the purchase list either.
Instead, I chose this one. And now that I find myself in super-critic-analyzer mode here, I see that each of their smiles look a little less intense without as much personality as the other. Still good, but better in actual print.
I could have loved this picture. Oh, but darn you little StinkBug Lincoln! No one told you to get out of the smooshed-face line-up. I just couldn't get myself past the breaking- stride-leaning-forward bit in the front row.
It is THIS ONE which was the very first picture taken and proved to be the very best of all of us. I find myself being rather pleased with the colors and shades I chose without being too matchy-matchy. Every one of us had just enough detail in our clothes for interest without clashing and most importantly, I didn't want our picture to scream "Seasonal!" I just wanted a classic, warm-but-casual feel to our picture in an effort to match our warm-but-casual kind of family.
How do you think we all fared in our first-ever-family-of-four portrait?
(Could the photographer not have made mention for me to tuck my giant leg and SHOE behind me while I posed?) ("Warm and casual," I never mentioned perfect.) (As noted and obvious thankyouverymuch.)