Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

We May Have Set a Record...

We picked out our tree in less than five minutes this year.

Being our first Christmas here, I had no idea where a tree farm/lot would be so we just went to Lowe's last Saturday.

We were in a crunch for time between standing in a line (that moved 4 feet in 25 minutes in the cold) for a Santa with brown eyebrows - which we saw once we decided to step out of line. I was so relieved we didn't wait  and that the kids agreed we needed to try to find the real Santa later instead of one of his helpers. Then Abby and I were off to see the Muppets and take a tour of the movie theater with her Brownie troop while Pat and Noah went searching for a $5 hockey set. By the time we all got back home, we only had a couple of hours to find a tree, eat dinner, and straighten up a bit before we had some friends over for dessert.

Thus a new family tree-picking record was set.  We could have tried to set a decorating record too, but I convinced the kids that the tree needed time to settle so we would decorate it the next day. There's no way we could have squeezed that in too.

Funny thing is that Sunday was just as crazy between church, a child's baptism after church, an unexpected meeting that Pat had to go to, and the missionaries coming over for dinner...but we finally got it done. Phew.

Now if we can just find the real Santa with white eyebrows (and a decent beard)...

Wish us luck!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A "Beary" Merry Holiday To You!

Abby had her second grade program tonight, and I have to say, she was definitely the cutest bear up there - not that I am biased or anything...

She was all smiles the entire time and singing her heart out. I broke out my old school video camera (that we got when Abby was born) to make sure I'd be able to zoom way in - between the two heads and baseball cap that were in front of me - gotta love that. The Flip and phone videos just don't cut it when it comes to stuff like this. I got some cute close-ups...probably too many, but I couldn't help myself.

*Sure loved your program, little one! You did such a great job and worked so hard to learn all of those songs. We are so proud of you!

Look What We Made!

Noah and I just made these Click over to my "Teach it Simple" site for the recipe link and a spur-of-the-moment craft idea that used those scattered peanut butter cup wrappers!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What Could Be Better Than...

...a strawberry torte ice cream cake (thanks, Mom!) for my birthday?

Being able to share it with these little kiddos - 

...which was followed by a post-bedtime-mini-girls-night with my mom and sister-in-law, indulging in some chocolate mousse and mint chocolate brownies (thanks, Ashley!) while watching "What Not To Wear" and browsing on-demand exercise videos at commercials (haha!). Then we topped it off with an episode of "Parenthood" when my brother got home from teaching his class - much more fun to watch with my family. (You should hear us when we watch "The Bachelor".)

The one downfall to spending a whole week full of playtime, puppet shows, superheroes, the Muppet movie, new baby snuggles, and silly dance contests with half of our favorite people?

Having to say good-bye. (geez...tears are flowing just typing that.)

We sure miss you guys already...if only we had our own private "jetplane".

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

That Little Turkey...

When I picked Noah up from school yesterday, he had a construction paper turkey hat wrapped around his head along with all of the other kids who were filing out the door.

"Cool hat, buddy! I love it!"

"Eh...", he says as he pulls it off as he climbs into the car.

Then he unzips his backpack to show me the construction paper headdress he made - "I earned SEVEN feathers!" he announces proudly as he puts the hat on. (We had been practicing his address, phone number, along with a list of other things he could do to earn feathers at school.)

"Wow! That is awesome, Noah! That's a lot of feathers! I'll take a picture of you with your hat on when we get home."

"NO WAY!" he says emphatically.

"But buddy, your hat is so cool!"

"Uh-uh," he says again.

"Aw, come on...for Mommy? You look so cute."

"No way," he says again.

I even resorted to fake crying thinking that he would think it was funny and cave in.


So, alas, I have no cute Kindergarten Thanksgiving hat picture to share.

My boy is his father's son - that is for sure.

*Need a last minute Thanksgiving treat? Click on over to Teach It Simple for one of our family favorites - chocolate-covered marshmallow pilgrim hats!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Enough With the Germs Already...

Seriously. We are going on a month and a half.

Noah...Pat...then me...

and now Noah has started coughing again. ugh.

I am pumping the kids (and myself) with extra Vitamin C and Omega 3s with fish oil which, according to the doctor, will help boost the immune system and keep this junk from coming back. 

We're heading to my mom's for Thanksgiving and then riding back with them to Chicago to see my new baby niece for the first time so we CANNOT be sick!

Have I mentioned how excited I am to snuggle this new baby?

So excited...and so are the kids. They can't wait to see their cousins.

And we get to spend my birthday with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law too. Can anyone say "ice cream cake"?

The kids are missing three extra days of school, but getting a free ride out there and then only $99 per ticket home? How could I pass that up?

So, yeah. We can't be sick.

Noah has finished his amoxicillin, and Abby seems a lot better so it's down to me.

Here's hoping the antibiotics kick this bronchitis to the curb and this is the end of it....

at least until after New Year's.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Really Loved This - "Moments That Matter Most"

"Moments are the molecules that make up eternity" - Neil A. Maxwell

...such a sweet reminder of how important it is to invest time in the things that really matter.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Teach It Simple" & a Super Cute Gratitude Mascot!

So I've been trying to post a fun idea featured on my new "teach it simple" blog each Tuesday - aka "Teach It Simple Tuesday" (catchy, right?) - but I missed it! Dag-nab-it! Sick kids, time change, sleep deprivation, piles of laundry, watching too many episodes of Parenthood on Netflix...I've got all kinds of excuses. I could have waited until next week - as I am sure no one would have noticed - but this little "gratitude mascot" created by my friend, Jenny, is too cute not to share...

The kids are still debating on whether we are making a  "Thankful Turkey" or a "Thankful Tree", so I am thinking we will be making one of each and then add to them for the rest of the month. Why not?  I am a huge fan of any activity that helps instill a gratitude attitude in my kiddos.

Click on over to read Jen's post and share your Thanksgiving ideas too!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

This Made Me All Goosebumpy...

I know I've said it before, and I'll say it again - This gal's music is amazing. Truly inspired lyrics and melodies...and this song is now one of my favorites. Hilary Weeks' newest CD came out last week, and I just watched this video that was released along with it so I had to share...(You may recognize Stephanie Nielsen from the NieNie Dialogues, and the African woman, Mariama Kallon, has an incredible story of triumph as well. Unimaginable. I've heard her speak twice at Time Out for Women. Awesome.)

Each of us could hold up one of those signs. We all have personal struggles. This song is such a beautiful reminder that we can endure any trial that comes our way and even be made stronger with the help of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Like I said...goosebumps.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Photo Story Friday & The Best Halloween Surprise Ever!!!

Little did the kids know as they set off for their first round of snowy trick-or-treating dressed as "Rocky" from Disney's "Shake It Up" - an iffy choice for mama since it's a bit grown-upish but after seeing the "collection" at Target that's all she talked about - and your friendly neighborhood Spiderman - yup, I caved a got him a real costume this year (He was all about those muscles!)...

that Daddy was on his way back from the train station with a disguised guest! I told the kids that when Dad called we were going to head back to the house to warm up and answer the door for trick-or-treaters until he got there, and then we'd go out for round two. Abby and Noah had absolutely no idea that this character would be ringing the doorbell...

The picture doesn't do it justice. I did get it on video - it was hilarious!  Abby recognized Uncle Michael's glasses right away and started giggling like crazy - "That looks like Michael!"  to which I played dumb. "You think so? He does kind of, doesn't he? That's so funny..." Noah didn't have a clue why we were inviting this random "Mario" into our house until everyone started laughing and Pat said, "That's where I went, buddy. I went to pick Michael up at the train station!"


The kids were beyond excited, especially when "Mario" told them that he'd be staying for a few days! We hadn't seen him since August so it was an AWESOME surprise! The whole thing was my little bro's idea - what a cool uncle, huh?  Even at 18 years old, when he could be hanging out with friends or whatever, he loves spending time with the kids. It's no wonder that they think the sun rises and sets with him. And, of course, Noah wants to be just like Uncle Michael. After he left yesterday (sniffle...sniffle), we had to run by Wal-Mart, and, sure enough, Noah spotted the "Super Mario" costume (luckily, it was half off)...

"Mom, can I get it? Please, Mom! Please?????????" could I resist? 

Noah put it on when we got home so I took a picture of "Mario Jr." with my phone and sent it to Michael while he was still on the train.

"HAHAHAHAHA AWESOME!" he texted back.

Noah is definitely a little Michael - such a crack up. I love it.

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Sunday, October 30, 2011

This is a Halloween First - A Snow Ghost!!!

We lost power yesterday afternoon due to the record-breaking FALL blizzard that was showing us no mercy. I am talking heavy, wet snow (coming down sideways), wind, gloomy sky - it was something else. My attitude went from bad to worse. I was already so far behind on laundry and housework with Noah being sick this week and then all of the fall festivities at school. Now snow and no power? Not happy.

When the power flickered on three hours later, I was SO relieved and grateful...and decided that I'd better not whine about the snow anymore. We were warm. We were safe. We could make chocolate (aka almond bark)-covered peanut butter crackers. (That's what I call comfort food.)

Still, I admit, I wasn't looking forward to trudging out in the snow today - piling on layers....finding hats, gloves, scarves...pulling on snow boots...and I wasn't sure if we should after poor Abby spiked a fever last night out of the blue.  But the sun was shining, the wind wasn't blowing, and she was begging (since her fever had returned to normal) so I told the kids we could go out for a little while.

And I tell ya, I don't know what came over me, maybe the kids' excitement and enthusiasm finally rubbed off but I had this grand idea...

We made a SNOW GHOST - complete with Oreo eyes! Who would have thunk it - right? 

Just like going trick-or-treating in snow boots, school being cancelled, and another surprise for the kids I'll have to reveal later - this will definitely be a Halloween full of firsts. 

Happy Trick-or-Treating! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Um...Are You Kidding Me?


And it's STILL coming down...

Luckily, I bought those snowsuits early and grabbed some boots for Abby at Target yesterday when I heard the forecast, but mentally? 

Not ready for this, people.

Not at all. 

I need some warm chocolate chip cookies and a major attitude adjustment.

Hmmm...or maybe some peanut butter balls. 

That might do the trick.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Total Flashback

I had to pick up inhalers from the pharmacy yesterday. Make that three trips to the pharmacy in drizzly, cold rain before the pharmacists got us what we needed. The first location had the inhalers but not the opti-chamber and mask. The second location had the opti-chamber and mask but looked at me like  I was crazy when I showed up saying that the first location had sent me there. Then we got home and one of the inhalers had a circular mouthpiece instead of the curved rectangular one and didn't fit into the opti-chamber. I called the first location, and the lady told me that I could come back in and exchange it.

If I could have, I would have paid someone one.million.dollars to go and make that exchange. Noah and I had already been at the doctor's office that morning and had been up most of the night before. Poor kid was coughing more than usual on Wednesday as we ran around picking up last minute Halloween decorations and items for the iLove Music fall festival basket for Abby's class. That night at bedtime, his cough got worse - like coughing so hard that he actually threw up...three different times between 9pm and 1am.

The steam didn't help. The humidifier didn't help. The allergy medicine didn't help. I finally brought him into my bed, propped myself up on pillows, and let him sleep upright laying against me. I felt so bad for him and was clueless as to what to do. I said a prayer that he would be able to sleep, and he finally did.

Being that this cough has been hanging on since the beginning of October, I called the doctor in the morning. It had turned into bronchitis - thanks to the first doctor who told me "you just need to give it some time". I requested a different doctor for this visit who told me that seasonal allergies could be at the root of the problem and that he needed to be tested to see how severe they are. (Daddy is coming to that appointment - definitely going to need some back-up.) She also mentioned the possibility of asthma- or an allergy induced asthma - or something like that.

 All I heard was "asthma" and my mind went to Michael, my youngest brother. He's eighteen now, but I can still vividly remember pressing my ear against his little four-year-old back to check if he was him nebulizer treatments in the middle of the night when he and my sister would sleepover...making sure we always had his inhaler with us...

My eyes started to tear up as the doctor was talking. I couldn't keep my composure...stupid sleep deprivation. I looked away from Noah not wanting him to think that something was wrong. Like the doctor said, it doesn't mean he has asthma, but she wants him to try the inhalers, come back in next week, and then get tested.

Noah actually thought the whole inhaler idea was pretty cool, especially when I told him that Uncle Michael has one too.  Still, it felt like I'd gone back in time - shaking up the inhaler, pressing the canister, and taking deep breaths in and out with Noah like I had done with Michael at his same age.

The inhalers made all the difference in the world. He slept last night. He went back to school and to the fall festival today. He's asleep right now.

Still, I am praying that he won't need them forever...that it's not asthma...and that he won't completely freak out when we go for the allergy testing - not looking forward to that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Little Miss Student Council

Ever since finding out she was chosen to be a student council representative a few weeks ago, Abby has been counting down the days until her first meeting which was yesterday during recess...

but she didn't mind one bit. And the best part? "Getting our pictures taken and putting what I like in my speech bubble" for the bulletin board by the lunch room.  She and the other class rep got to report everything back to her 2nd grade class too. Pretty cool stuff.

Yep, there may just be homemade campaign posters and Vote-for-Abby stickers in her future.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"Teach It Simple" Tuesday - Nutter Butter Ghosts!

Halloween treats don't get much cuter (or easier) than this! My bff (of 20+ years...and "domestic diva" as I like to call her) posted about these spooky delights over on my "teach it simple" site today.

 Pop on over to read all about 'em!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Would It Really Be The Worst Thing in the World if...

"...I had to drive you to school this morning?" I asked Abby as we were scrambling around, stuffing backpacks, and tying shoelaces trying to get out the door in time to make the bus. Their school is three minutes down the rode for heaven's sake.

"YES!!!!!!!" she emphatically declared (without a moment's hesitation), and Noah was backing her up all the way.

Really, the WORST thing? 

Geez. Thanks a lot.

There's just something super cool about that school bus. The novelty definitely hasn't worn off yet. 

I guess they won't be happy campers when/if I get a teaching job next year (hopefully at their school) at they have to ride with me EVERY morning.

Now that will be a tragedy.  :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Teach It Simple" Tuesday - Birthday Cake Cookies!

Want to learn how to make these?

I cute are those, right? 

Click on over to my new "teach it simple" site and for this easy recipe - courtesy of my awesome friend (and former Bruster's ice cream run partner), Jenny!

*If you have a keep-it-simple family activity, craft, recipe, etc... (which doesn't require much prep and is glue-gun free!) that you'd like to share over at my new place, please let me know. I know you've got 'em! :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Photo Story Friday - Good Old Fashioned Fun

Last Saturday afternoon, Abby spotted a sign for a block party hosted by a local church - FREE FOOD, FUN, GAMES - so the kids, Papa & Gramma Peggy (surprise visitors!), and I thought we'd go and check it out...

Moon bounces, a horse-drawn hayride, a cake walk, hamburgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, ice cream, face painting...and it didn't cost one penny.

Did I mention the caramel apples? 

There are definite perks to living in a small town...especially in the fall.

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

A Twist on Teaching Table Manners

 Here's a "teach it simple" sample for you in case you haven't made it over to check out my new digs quite yet...

To curb the "yuck"s, constant interrupting, and feet…I mean, elbows on the table, I started a reward incentive called Mind Your Marbles to motivate my kids to mind their manners.  The kids can each earn marbles by staying in their seats, saying “please” and “thank you”, and – my personal favorite – taking their plates to the sink. The marbles are dropped into their special glasses lined with a decorated index card. Once they fill it half way, they get to choose a yummy dessert. When the glass is filled to the brim, they can choose the entire meal (plus dessert) for the family – or pick a favorite restaurant!  This incentive has worked wonders. My kids are excited to “mind their marbles” and have even asked to help set the table to earn extras - gotta love that!

*What works at your dinner table?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WW & Proud Mommy Moments - No More Training Wheels!

...and he has the band-aids to show for it!

So happy for that boy of mine (and my back is too)!

Now we just have to work on starting and stopping... 

*For more special everyday moments - check out my new site "Teach It Simple" - soon to be full of our most favorite "easy peasy" family activities, recipes, crafts, and other simple ideas! 

Join in the Wednesday photo-sharing fun at Seven Clown Circus,
 5 Minutes for Mom, Better in Bulk,  and wherever else you can find a link up! 
They are ALL over the place!

Just found another cute meme today (10/13) - 
this accomplishment definitely qualifies!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Well, I Finally Did It...

Remember that idea I mentioned way back before the summer began - the one that I had been sitting on forever and hoped I would have more time over the summer to devote to working on it...before Pat got that job offer, and we packed up our entire house in less than three weeks, and hauled ourselves 15 hours across five states only to start unpacking in a new place and try to get settled in brand new surroundings?

Remember that one?

Well, I am finally working on it. It's right here.

Simple beginnings for my new "teach-it-simple" site soon to be full of "easy peasy" activities and ideas that help families to make the most of everyday moments.

I feel like it has potential...and it's also a great way for me to get my teacher brain and my mommy brain on the same page, especially since I am planning to go back to teaching next year (if I can get through all of the red tape). I even purchased the domain name...I won't even tell you how long ago I did that.

I'd love for you to stop by, browse around a bit, share some ideas, maybe even click that "follow" button...

Like I said, just simple beginnings...but you have to start somewhere right?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Right in Our Own Backyard - Photo Story Friday

What are the odds of two of these making an appearance in our backyard in less than three months of living here?

If you look really closely, you can see a faint second rainbow off to the left - or a "double rainbow" as the kids and I have started calling them. 

I think I've only seen two other "double rainbows" in my lifetime so how cool is this? Really.

We've also seen three or four of these floating in the sky since moving here -

I captured this one from the grocery store parking lot. Then, this afternoon, Abby spotted one from our front porch. Pretty awesome, I must say. (Not that I'd ever go up in one...yikes!)

Gotta love colorful surprises in the sky, especially when we've had more than our fair share of rain clouds over the last couple of months.

For even more color, check out the pics from our latest adventure to see the world's largest crayon! Fun stuff. 

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Might Need a Tissue for This One

Noah spiked a fever on Saturday afternoon. We were sitting in Friendly's waiting (and waiting) for our food when Noah leaned into my arm, and I could feel the heat radiating from his little face. His temp ended up being 101.6 - poor kid. He just laid on the couch the rest of the afternoon and even fell asleep - which we all know is completely uncharacteristic for that boy of mine.

He's slept next to me for the last four nights - waking up every hour or so, sweating, coughing, crying...I took him to the doctor yesterday who assured me that it's probably allergies with a touch of croup. He woke up around 11 o'clock last night with that barking cough again (oh, and spiked a fever later on - definitely not allergies). I turned on the hot shower in the bathroom to let it get steamy and held Noah in the dark, his arms heavy around my neck, swaying side to side, humming, thinking of how I used to do this when he was a baby. My baby boy - now a whopping 45 lbs and going to school - riding the bus even. I thought about how it won't be much longer that I'll be able to hold him like this. My arms began to ache just holding him for a few minutes last night until I finally had to stop swaying and sit on the toilet seat lid. He curled into me even more, bringing his legs in and sitting "criss-cross applesauce" on my lap.

Being that I haven't had much sleep for a few days and that I am a sap of a mama any way, the tears were flowing - mine this time...not his.  This growing up thing is hard on a mom. As much as I love to see my kids learn and their talents develop, there's a tiny part of me that aches for that snuggly baby sleeping on my chest. Every phase has been amazing to watch - from taking first steps to writing their names, and even now it's neat to see how confident they are and how they've become more independent, especially Abby. She is just loving school. She was beside herself with excitement when she found out she was chosen to be a student council representative. Her reaction was the cutest thing, and I couldn't be more proud of her. But man...time goes by so fast.

Pat is always reminding me that they are still little...and I know that they are. They still need their mama. I've had to stop writing this post twice in the last five minutes because Noah got stuck in a hiding spot and then Abby stepped on a LEGO ( - that is never pleasant). It's just a mom thing I guess....or maybe a sleep-deprived sappy mom thing, and I'm sure it doesn't get any easier the older that they get. I just need to toughen up a little bit - treasure the past and savor the present...

and get in as many snuggles as I can before it's not so cool to hug your mom at the bus stop.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Behold! The World's Largest Crayon!

1500 lbs, people! Enough crayon to color three football fields and then some. 

The kids and I ventured out in search of The Crayola Factory this past Thursday since they had a day off from school - gotta take advantage of those! They don't get another one until Thanksgiving break - no Columbus Day or Veteran's Day privileges around here.  It was a bit of a drive and pretty packed, but the kids had a blast. Watercolors, Magic Markers, Model Magic, and more crayons in one place than I have ever seen!

They even let the kids write on the "walls" - love those window markers!

Abby kept going on and on about how fun it was. Having all of those art projects at your fingertips - how could it not be?

I'm glad we were able to make the trip while the kids are still into this kind of thing. As I looked around at the swarms of people, I noticed that a lot of the kids were younger than mine - lots of strollers and little ones toddling around.  I couldn't help but think of how big Abby and Noah are getting, how childhood passes way too quickly...and how grateful I am for the time I have with them and for the  "color" that they bring into my life (to borrow a favorite line from Ramona and Beezus).

Amazingly grateful. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

T'was the Night Before the 1st Day of School...

And what to my wondering eyes should appear?

"Look Mom! I have glasses!!!"

(I'm not sure what the purple stripe down his nose was supposed to be.)

At least he did it before his bath...and they were only magic markers. Wouldn't that have been a great first impression?

Crazy kid.

The kid who wasn't too sure about this whole going-to-Kindergarten thing, but exclaimed on the second day when I picked him up - "Mom! Tool is fun after all!" and has had a good time ever since.

I have to remind him of that on mornings when he is wanting to play Super Mario Brothers and stay in his pajamas. "I don't want to go to tool!" usually comes out of his mouth at least a couple of times a week, but once he's dressed and eaten his chocolate chip Eggo waffles, he's ready to get on that bus! I think the bus is his favorite part.

Still, this is also the kid that when the teacher said to the class, "If you like Kindergarten, you may go get your backpacks," he stayed sitting on the rug. Knowing my boy, I had to laugh when his teacher mentioned it when she called last week to let me know how he was doing. At least he was honest, right?

When I asked him about it, he told me he was the only one who didn't go get his backpack.

"But why, buddy? You always have fun!"

"But I don't get to be with you," he says. That kid knows how to work it.

 I think he does like it - despite this little episode. As his teacher said, "He must still be trying to decide."

Let's just hope that enrolling him in this extra thirty minute "extended day" program doesn't put him over the edge. Since K is only two and a half hours, the school offers an enrichment time for extra literacy and math instruction - aka "Kindergarten Club". It would be good for him since he doesn't really want to work on his letters with mom. (Believe me, I've tried.) Noah wasn't too keen on the whole idea until I a deal with him that if he would stay and have a good attitude and learn his letters, he could pick out a new video game  when the session ends in a few weeks. ("A Wii game," he insisted, not a DS game like I offered. Thank goodness you can buy them used.)

Sometimes a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do, right?

I admit though, I am sitting here kind of worried about it...obviously, blogging about it...and just waiting until I can go and pick him up....and hoping that he liked it okay.

We shall see...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Honesty Isn't Always the Best Policy...

I went to Pet Smart this morning to buy a new fish - a yellow guppy - to replace the one that I found lifeless at the bottom of our little aquarium about a week ago. 

I managed to hide our one-gallon-tank behind lunch boxes and a bag of potato chips for a few days hoping the kids wouldn't notice that one fish had gone missing before I had a chance to get to the store. Then a couple of days ago while Abby was still at school - thank goodness - Noah was standing next to the kitchen counter (before I replaced the lunchbox) and says, "Mom, where is Abby's fish?"

"What do you mean, bud? It's in there."

"But I don't see it."

"Oh, I am sure he's just hiding....hey - do you want a cookie?"

Lying to my kid. I know. I am not proud, but I tell ya, if Abby had found out that another precious fish had gone belly-up, it would not have been pretty. 

It was this past 4th of July when she discovered her zebra fish at the bottom of the tank. (That very same fish that I was tricked into getting three years ago.) She completely flipped. Flipped. I am talkin' screaming, crying, could hardly went on for probably thirty minutes. No lie. It was awful. There was no calming her down either. At one point, Pat and I looked at each other as she was wailing, her head buried in her pillow, as we sat on her bed - and we had to to keep from laughing. Terrible parents, aren't we? Her reaction was just so over-the-top dramatic, we were both taken off guard, I think. She had never had a meltdown like this before. Ever.  Of course, she wouldn't flush it. Once she regained her composure, we wrapped it in a paper towel and buried it next to a bush at the front of the house. She made a sign with its name - Flower - and taped it to a popsicle stick to mark its grave. Poor kid...and fish.

Yeah, I didn't want to put her through that again...and I didn't want to witness it again either.

So when I asked the guy at Pet Smart if I could get a fish with a longer yellow tail, I told him that I was doing a bad thing and replacing my daughter's fish without her knowing.

"Oh, we get that at least two or three times a week," he said, all nonchalant.

"Really?" I laughed, feeling relieved. "I'm glad I'm not the only one."

Still, I have my fingers crossed that this yellow guppy - Charming (Jr.) -  keeps on swimming for a good long while.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Snippets of Summer (Photo Story Friday)

Noah informed me tonight that tomorrow is the first day of fall.

Here I was thinking we had a few more days until summer was officially over.

With the school year in full swing, we've traded flip flops for tennis shoes and pink goggles for new glasses.

I'm still holding out for a day at the beach. This crazy rain has sure put a wrench into things. So summer, if you could stick around just a little longer...

My kiddos and I would really appreciate it.

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

When Mama Ain't Happy...

This morning didn't go so well.

More like the last five minutes didn't go so well.

When you find your son's new school shoes soaked, muddy, and stuffed with wet socks, his other pair is too tight, you can't find his sandals to wear instead, and your daughter is freaking out that "the bus is coming!" (and it really isn't) - things don't go so well.

Yes, we found the sandals.  Yes, I explained why he can't go stomping through streams of rain water in his school shoes. Yes, we gave hugs and said "Have a good day"....but I feel bad. Gotta love that "mom guilt".

I think I am just in a funk. Not quite sure what to do with myself. I still have tons of boxes I could unpack, pictures I could hang up...there's always cleaning to be done, but I am totally unmotivated to do it.

To my credit, I did trim down our crazy bushes, plant some flowers, and laid new mulch - finished it up yesterday.  I felt pretty accomplished...for a few hours. That is until the dark brown blanket of mulch was obliterated with grass clippings after my dear husband mowed the lawn.

I know that nothing goes untouched INSIDE the house. You put the pillows on the couch - they are back on the floor again.  You empty the dishwasher just to fill it back up. You vacuum the floor, then see the kids eating crackers in the living room. You finish the laundry...well, you never finish the laundry.

But OUTSIDE? You think your work might stay in least for a few days.

Ho hum...

I think there are some Cocoa Puffs in the cupboard calling my name. This mama could use some chocolate.

Monday, September 19, 2011

That Crazy Kid...

Noah's quote of the day:

This morning, I had just finished blow-drying his hair and combing it down so it would look decent for Picture Day. He smiles at himself in the mirror and says, "I look GOOD."

"You do look good, Noah. Very handsome," I say.

Still grinning at himself, he announces, "I look like I am going on a DATE!"
Such a nut, that boy of mine.

No dates for long awhile, Mister. Mom is still getting used to the whole Kindergarten thing.

"Talk Like a Pirate Day" (and that cake I promised...)

Evidently, it's "International Talk Like a Pirate Day", mateys!

Taking that as me cue (humor me if ye will) to share that tharrrr pirate cake I made a wee bit ago for me lil' scallywag's 5th birthday (the birthday post that was plundered by arrr movin' madness)....

I gathered me up a few swashbuckling ideas from Family Fun and put me own twist on it. The whoppers ferrr cannonballs, root beer barrels, and chocolate licorce linin' the top o' the ship were a big hit with the pirate crew.

A LEGO Captain Jack Sparrow steerin' his ship, and the candles comin' out o Rolo portholes got 'em bustlin' too.  I used food colorin' markers to add a bit o' texture to the sea, lined the bottom o the ship with blue fruit roll up strips, and cut strips o green ferrr seaweed.

Captain Noah went straight ferrr that tharrr seaweed. Wouldn't be a real pirate without green teeth, now would he? Between the cake, squid dogs (authentic pirate cuisine), paper pirate ship races, and a hunt ferrr treasure - it be a "Jolly Roger" of a good time!

 Our make-shift treasure chest - artwork by Abby

*Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean - did ya see my boy on the Disney Parks website? Click here!

**After I wrote this, I picked Noah up from school and told him it was "Talk Like a Pirate" day - totally thinking he would be into it and want to play along. Yeah, not so much. "MAAAAoooom!" he says in response to my lame attempt at Pirate lingo. Got it, Noah. Better off leaving it to the professionals.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Family Curse

I was in second grade when I got glasses.

I vividly remember looking across the classroom at the bulletin board behind my teacher's desk, closing one eye and then the other, to compare which eye made the posters and cut-out letters more blurry. 

Not that I should have been too surprised. My dad was blind as a bat. Sometimes, I would put on his thick, orangey-brown-speckled framed glasses just for fun. Everything around me would become all distorted and shrunken in the middle - like a reflection in a fun house mirror.

At the time, I actually thought it was kind of cool that I'd have glasses just like my dad...and I pretty much did. I ended up with big, brownish, round frames.  That was the IN style at the time - totally 80's. (What were they thinking?)

By the time 2nd grade rolled around for three of my younger siblings, they all needed glasses too. My brother (next oldest in the birth order line-up) was the only exception. He had two years on the rest of us and made it all the way to fourth. Funny thing is that neither my mom nor my step-mom wear glasses so you would think that maybe Dad's vision-altering gene would have skipped one of the five of us kids, but no such luck.

When Abby told me last week that she couldn't see the board very well at school, my heart sunk a little. Not that glasses are so terribly awful, but you have to admit, it's nice not to have to wear them. I swear, it was like a whole new world when my mom finally let me get contacts when I was in tenth grade. (Yes, tenth grade. At least I had upgraded to gold wire frames by then, but still...)

The kids and I had just watched a rerun of "Good Luck Charlie" where the family goes to Hawaii and gets cursed when their mom "does the robot on sacred ground" so I started joking around that THIS was our "family curse".

Still, Abby kept on me to make that appointment. I admit, I was procrastinating a little, but I finally set one up for Wednesday.  Abby was kind of nervous/excited the night before the eye exam. As we were talking about it right before our family bedtime prayer, I realized that if, in fact, she did need glasses, I'd better put a more positive spin on this thing...

"You know, if you do get glasses, Abby, it will actually be like a family TRADITION!" (Good save, right?) That perked her up a bit, and that I assured her that kids' frames are really "in fashion" now (as she likes to say).

And, indeed, they are...

Yes, the family, tradition continues. Yes, my eyes started to sting, blinking back a few tears as she missed some letters on the eye chart, but seeing how excited she was to pick out those little aqua blue frames (her favorite color) with a heart on each side sure made me smile.

Cute, cute girl.

If only there had been frames like that when I was a kid.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Forever Remember

It's funny how I can't remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, but I vividly remember this day ten years ago. I was at VCU in a Criminal Justice class. Total confusion. Cell phones weren't working. Coming home to see the footage of the twin towers aired over and over again...and feeling like I could hardly breathe. 
While flipping channels this afternoon, I came across "The Concert for NYC" that Pat and I took donation calls for at the Wachovia call center in Richmond, VA shortly after the attacks. We answered call after call for six hours straight. Along with their generous donations, each person had a sincere love and concern in their voice for those who were affected by the 9/11 tragedy as we spoke. Some shared where they were when it happened. Some were still in disbelief. Many said that they wished they could help more. 
We all wished we could do something more.  
A few months later, we had the opportunity to visit Ground Zero.  I'll always remember the messages of love and hope that were written on the tall wooden boards that lined the path leading up to the site.  It was a humbling experience.
When the kids are a little older, I will explain the significance of this day to them, and how even in a time of tragedy and despair, our country came together to comfort, help, and love one another.
My heart goes out today to those families who lost loved ones, the many 9/11 heroes, and those who continue to protect our country each and every day.
Click here for the 9/11/11 tribute: Rising Above - performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and narrated by Tom Brokaw.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fun Idea for Back-to-School Lunches

Last Monday, I surprised the kids with these little water bottles. It was a spur-of-the-moment idea and actually helped calm my night-before-school jitters.  A few strips of patterned paper, self-adhesive labels, Sharpies and VOILA!  Abby and Noah thought they were really cool so I just thought I'd share this super simple way to send a special back-to-school message to your kiddos. 

Here's to a great year...
and to calming those back-to-school mommy jitters!