Sunday, December 23, 2007

Anything?

Today Belle and I set out for the mall so Belle could pick out a Christmas gift for Jeff. Before we left Jeff pulled Belle aside to talk to her. He whispered something in her ear and then said, “That is what I really want for Christmas, but you can pick out anything you want.”

When we got into the mall, I knelt down next to Belle and asked her what her Daddy wants for Christmas. “I can’t tell you,” she replied. “It’s a secret.”

“Well honey, I need to know what he wants so we can go to the right store.”

“My Daddy said that I can buy anything I want for him and for you and for Ariel and for myself.”

Oh boy, am I in trouble.

After many minutes of negotiating, explaining and begging on my part, I finally extracted the information I needed. We set off for the appropriate store so Belle could pick out her Daddy’s gift. While we were shopping, Belle needed to use the restroom so we put our item on hold and attended to her needs.

While in the bathroom I asked Belle about the gift we had picked out. I wanted to make sure it was indeed the present that Jeff most wanted. “Do you think Daddy will like it?”

Belle responded with an unenthusiastic, “I guess.”

“Honey, I thought you said Daddy really wanted one of those.” I said.

“What Daddy really wants is a doll, a really big doll as big as me,” my daughter explained as her eyes drifted off tho the right as they tend to do when she is lying. I encouraged her to continue talking just so I could see how far she was willing to take this ruse. She continued with, “Yes, he wants the biggest doll we can find, one that looks like Pocahontas.”

“Are you sure that he doesn’t want a new razor to shave his face?” I asked.

“No. Daddy said that I can buy him ANYTHING I want,” she explained impatiently. “Daddy really wants a big Pocahontas doll or a bouncy ball. He told me to buy something for Ariel and for me too. ANYTHING I want.”

I was trying so had not to burst out in laughter, I almost fell over.

I managed to leave the mall with a gift I think Jeff will like. It’s not a life-sized Pocahontas doll or a bouncy ball but, I’m pretty sure Jeff will be okay with that.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Over the River and through the Siskiyous....

It's 10 pm. The car is packed, the kids are asleep, the dishes are washed, the coffee maker is set to start brewing at 3 am. Everything is in order for our early morning road trip. This is our third time making the 10 hour drive to California. We have it down to a science.

I hope that this trip goes better than our last one. After the last trip, we vowed to never return to California again. Obviously that vow was short lived. It's a hard one to keep considering the number of people we love that live in that God-forsaken place. God-forsaken is a little harsh, but let me tell you what happened last trip, and then you can be the judge.

I know you are all busy with your Christmas preparations, so I will reduce it to a short photo essay.

Our car DID NOT look like this when we embarked on our journey.

Nor did it look like this.
To be honest, I don't have any pictures of our beloved 540i before we drove it to California, but I can tell you it was pristine, as you can see from the parts of the car untouched by the accident.The good news: Jeff was the only person in the car at the time of impact.
The bad news: The car was totaled. The accident happened 12 hours before our vacation ended, and we spend a obscene amount of money on plane tickets so we could all fly home. Not exactly ideal when the reason we drove in the first place was to save money.

But that is in the past and what are the chances of something like that happening again? Wait, don't tell me. I don't want to know.

**Update - As I was falling to sleep I realized the my California readers may not appreciate the good-natured way in which I referred to their state. So I would like to say, ah hem...California has many great features which I love. For example Santa Cruz, the Bay Area, Monterey, the San Francisco 49ers and the Sacramento Kings. My gripe with California lies only in the cars that occupy the roads, and in particular Hwy 99 between Turlock and Elk Grove and the car that ran the red light in Modesto.**

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Preschool Logic

Anyone with kids knows that dinnertime can be a power struggle between the parent who strives to put a healthy meal on the table and the child who would prefer to eat something else. Last night Belle used her creativity to come up with a reasonable excuse not to eat her dinner.

Belle: I'm allergic to these foods I don't like.

Me (stifling laughter): Allergic?!? Honey, if you were allergic you would get red dots all over your body.

Belle (alarmed): Red dots!

Me: Yes, and you would sneeze...

Jeff: and cough

Me (to Jeff under my breath): Not symptoms she can fake!

Me (to Belle): ...and we would have to take you to the doctor. The doctor would give you a shot.

Belle: A SHOT!!!! I don't think I'm allergic anymore.

Yep, that's what I thought. Score one for Mommy.

Chocolate and Cancer

Someone got us a box of See’s candy for Christmas. I am not sure who this gift is from. I am sure that there was a card that went with it at some point in time, but last night the card was destroyed when the gift was unwrapped. So I would like to say thank you to the giver of the See’s candy. It was a really nice gift to give. All that is left of this delicious gift is little brown wrappers strewn across our living room floor like rose petals. The chocolate was devoured by Hercules in the middle of the night.

Yes Hercules, our dog who was diagnosed with cancer in October. Hercules doesn’t realize that he has lost 15 pounds and shouldn’t have the energy to sniff out the good presents and eat them. He can now cross “Eat a pound of chocolate in one sitting” off his “things to do before he dies” list. I wonder what else is on that list.

All you dog lovers know that chocolate is bad for our four legged friends. It’s supposed to make them sick, it could kill them. Does Hercules know this? Is his midnight snack a suicide attempt, or did he overhear us talking about the health benefits of chocolate to cancer patients and decide to self medicate? Who knows… One thing is for certain, our dying dog has not changed one bit. His body is failing and he is still a trouble maker.


I love you sweet dog, even if you did eat my chocolate.



You you want to hear another story of a dog pillaging the Christmas tree? Read "Someone's in the Doghouse" at Wonderful World of Wieners.

Wordless Wednesday

How to eat a cupcake.

Yummy!

Look at my hat!

My kids had a great time at a birthday party last weekend. For more Wordless Wednesdays go here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hugs in Heaven

After writing my Friday post, “In Memory of Oma”, I called my Opa. Christmas is hard for him this year; this is his first Christmas in over 60 years without his wife. During our conversation the only time I heard happiness in his voice was as he talked about my Uncle coming home for Christmas.

For those of you who don’t know, because I have never bothered to explain this, I live in Washington State. My family and Jeff’s family, with the exception of some siblings, live in California – 650 miles away. Jeff and I lived in the Central Valley of California until three years ago. Our family is there, as are our friends.

After my conversation with Opa I really wanted to be with him on Christmas. While this is a wonderful thought, it isn’t feasible. Jeff and I have committed to live within our means. We withdraw a fixed amount of cash from each paycheck and make do on that amount. Because of this commitment we constantly drive cars that need gas; our refrigerator and pantry are empty every Saturday. (I am not exaggerating; I have turned away people collecting canned food for charity, because I don’t have any food to spare.) Our decision to live on a meager amount has drastically changed our lifestyle. Taking a 1300 mile round trip to California is not an option.

The thought of going home for Christmas stuck in my mind. The only thing that would make it possible is a Christmas bonus from work. A Christmas bonus would be a miracle. Not because I don’t deserve one, but because I have received two bonuses already this year. It would be asking a lot to expect another one.

On Sunday I told Jeff, “If I get a Christmas Bonus AND it is over “X” dollar amount, I want to go to California.”

Ever since the words pass my lips, I have prayed and I have asked other people to pray for a bonus. Yesterday my prayers were answered. I received a Christmas bonus and that bonus was two times more than I needed to justify a trip to California.

Have you ever bought someone a present that you know they are going to love? You watch them open it with anticipation. You wait for their face to register the surprise and then the thrill of receiving that gift. I have this vision of God looking down on me as I “opened” my gift. I can see him smiling and feel his love and happiness for me. In response, I want to give God the biggest hug humanly possible.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Three Smiles, Two Girls and One Mommy

Today was a girl’s day. I don’t mean one of those wonderful days when you get a mani-pedi, shop, and drink wine with your girlfriends. I’m talking about a day with my daughters, no daddy allowed. I shouldn’t say he wasn’t allowed, he is always allowed to spend the day with his girls. Today he was doing manly stuff. He put his house flipping skills back to work and tiled our neighbor's kitchen back splash.

What do I have to say about my girl’s day? It was difficult. Today was filled with constant fighting between siblings, disagreements just for the sake of disagreeing, not wanted to share but wanting to play with the same toys and the inability to hear their mother’s voice and follow instructions. My husband assured me that it is always like this and I shouldn’t take it personally.

Now that they are tucked in bed for the night I can say, it was a good day. We had our bonding moments. We went to a Christmas dance recital that our neighbor was in. Belle turned to me in the middle of a tap dance routine and said, “I love all the dancing Mommy.” I don’t know why that brought tears to my eyes.

We made salt-dough Christmas ornaments together. The shapes are cut and baked. We will save the painting for another day. When we were cutting out the shapes with cookie cutters, Belle said to me, “Mommy, you seem so mad.”

I smiled my biggest smile and said in my forced happy voice, “Oh honey, I am not mad. I just have to work really fast so the dough doesn’t dry out.”

In reality I was not happy. Ariel was spreading corn starch all over the counter, floor, her clothing and face. I had to work quickly with the dough and it wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be. Belle’s comment made me realize that the memories we were creating had the potential to be good or bad. It was my responsibility to ignore the temporary mess and need to produce perfect ornaments. It was time to be silly and enjoy the process.

That was a turning point in the day for us. I would have rather had that moment at 10 am instead of 5 pm, but the rest of the day was stress-free nonetheless.

So my girls are tucked in bed and my heart is filled with love for them and gratitude that I got to share my day with them. Someday we will spend our girl’s days at the mall and the day spa. Until then, I’ll gladly take a day like today.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Flaunt It Friday: In Memory of Oma

The Mommy Kelly at Taken With a Grain of Salt has posed her Flaunt It Friday Challenge: In Memoriam.

This challenge comes at a good time. The holidays are a time to remember those who are no longer with us. The important people in our lives never leave us, even when they have passed away, They live in our memories. It’s important to Flaunt those memories, so that these loved ones are not forgotten.

Mid-December last year, my Sister-in-law called to tell me that my Oma’s health was failing. This was news I was not expecting. My Oma still lived at home with my Opa and had only suffered from minor health issues. Two weeks later, On December 26th she passed away in her home surrounded by her family.

My Oma is a very important person in my life. The second post I ever wrote is about her, and her life. Rather than recount that story, I will link to it here.

I admire my Oma for her strength. I love her for her acceptance and kindheartedness. I remember going to her house as a child. We only lived a couple of miles from them. I have very fond memories of playing with my brothers and cousins on my Oma and Opa's ranch. There was so much to do. They had birds, fish, walnut trees and a creek. She would always have lime Kool-aid. To this day lime Kool-aid reminds me of those childhood adventures and of her.

What I love most about my Oma is the family she is responsible for. I love my aunts, uncles, and cousins beyond words. I treasure all the Christmas Eve's and Thanksgivings we spent together. I recognize that at the root of all my good childhood memories is a woman who after marrying my Opa, left her family and home in Holland so they could make a new life for themselves in the United States. Without her strength, determination, and love; I would not be here.

My Opa is not the same without her. They were married for 60 years. I cannot even fathom the pain he must be experiencing this last year without her. My Oma and Opa mean the world to me, and they meant the world to each other. I only want to say, "Hold on Opa. I know you are sad, but I am not ready for a world without you. I miss her too."

My Oma left behind a loving and close knit family. Many of us honor her in the naming of our children. Every generation of my Oma's family had a Nicolaas. My Uncle John's middle name is Nicolaas, my Dad's first name is Nicolaas, both of my brothers and several of my cousins have the middle name Nicolaas. My firstborn is named after my father. My second born is named after one of my Oma's sisters.

My Oma loved cross stitch and needlework. The pictures in this post are pieces she made. I have two more, not pictured here, that are hung in my children's rooms. I treasure these pieces. I look upon them daily and know that they were made by hands that I loved and that loved me.

Thank you Oma, I will not forget.



Thursday, December 13, 2007

What if I don't wanna be the boat?


Tonight Belle, Ariel and I decided to play Geo-Trax. Belle and I set up the tracks while Ariel linked the trains together. Belle then assigned duties to Ariel and I. "Mommy, you are the boat. Ariel, you drive the train and I am the airplane."

I deviated from my role as the boat, and was quickly reprimanded. "Mommy, you can't play with the boxes, those are for the airplane, you need to put gas in the boat!"

I am not one to be pushed around, so I told Ariel that she needs to let people play how they want to. I want to play with the boxes and the fire engine for awhile. For five minutes I listened to Ariel's instructions. "All the trees need to go here. The boat needs to go in the water. That is not the water. These signs don't go here. Mommy, stack these boxes. Ariel, drive your train this way." Finally I decided to go downstairs and make some tea.

"Okay Mommy, but you have to bring your tea back upstairs with you." Belle says.

I muttered something that she must of taken as a yes, because she let me go. Honestly, I couldn't take the bossiness any more. Belle is reigning supreme over the play room. She has a crown and knows how to use it. I want to put a stop to it, but the only person it is bothering, is me.

Ariel is completely fine playing with Belle. She either follows Belle's instruction, or she ignores Belle, depending on if she finds Belle's suggestions favorable or not. Maybe I should follow Ariel's lead. Maybe a two year old is better equip to deal with a bossy three year old than I am.

While downstairs sipping my tea and typing this post, I can still here Belle telling Ariel what to do. I go upstairs to investigate, and find Belle sitting on the toilet giving commands. Yes, folks she has found her throne. "Ariel, now you need to run down the stairs."

Ariel replies "Okay, Belle," and off she goes.

She goes down the stairs as fast as her little legs can carry her. When she gets to the bottom, she turns around and goes back upstairs, happily. Ariel returns to the bathroom where Belle has come up with a new task for her sister. I go downstairs again. Downstairs where it is quite and peaceful.

Everyone is happy. I'm not sure if I should intervene. Is she bossy or is she just showing great leadership skills? If I instruct her to not tell others what to do, will I put an end to her future as a CEO? Can I keep quiet and let her learn how to tame her bossiness into something more pleasant by experiencing the natural consequences of being demanding? Currently the natural consequence is that her Mommy doesn't want to play with her anymore. But, don't tell her that. I don't want to hurt her feelings.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Recipe for Correction

I have been tagged for a very interesting meme. Several blogs have talked about their discipline style, specifically whether they spank or not. Kelly at Ordinary Art and OHmommy at Buttermom…Classy Chaos want to know where I stand on the subject.


I read three parenting books when Belle was 2 ½ years old.They are Supernanny by Jo Frost, Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp, and The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. From these books and trial and error, we have developed a parenting style that works for us.

Anyone who knows these books will tell you a couple of them stand on opposite ends of the spanking debate. Supernanny shows how peace in the home can be accomplished without spanking. Shepherding a Child’s Heart takes the stance that careful and controlled use of spanking is biblical and effective. When we read these books we were not looking for an answer on whether or not to spank our children. That decision was already made through our upbringing.

Jeff and I were both raised in homes where spanking was a consequence for disobeying our parents. I remember meeting a girl when I was little who wasn’t spanked. I was so jealous. I also remember adults discussing how the parents of this girl were making a big mistake, they predicted that this child would be nothing but trouble. I cannot tell you if they were right or not. The girl is a cousin of a cousin, so I never saw her again.

I can’t ever remember being unfairly spanked. I also don’t remember being surprised by a spanking. I knew that if I was caught disobeying, my mom was going to spank me. I never remember being hurt by a spanking. Not that the spanking didn’t hurt physically, it did. I mean that spanking never hurt me emotionally. Other kids were not so lucky. I recognize that different parents had different experiences in their childhood, and those experiences have resulted in their parenting style. I hope that the parents who see things differently than I do will respect my opinion, just as I respect theirs.

In our house we have 3 rules posted on the refrigerator. Let me show you.

Our kids know that there are consequences for not following the rules. I told you in the beginning that I read Supernanny. I am also a big fan of her show. When our children disobey they are sent to timeout. Belle’s timeouts last 3 minutes and Ariel’s last 2 minutes. When their timeout is over we talk to them about what they did wrong and they apologize to the person they hurt or to Jeff and I for disobeying.

We have a couple of exceptions to the timeout rule. Ariel is not sent to timeout for throwing fits. She is 2 years old, so we work with her on controlling her emotions and teach her to express her feelings. I will sit with her while she is throwing her fit and say in the most soothing voice. “You are frustrated because ….” “I understand that you are frustrated” “I am sorry that you are feeling frustrated.” We found with Belle that by helping her identify her emotions, she learned to communicate with words instead of screaming.

Another exception, that I learned from “Shepherding a Child’s Heart,” is to not punish when we didn’t see what happened. Usually this comes into play when our children are fighting with one another. Tedd Tripp’s advice on this is, it takes two people to fight, so both are in the wrong. We expect our children to apologize to each other, regardless of who hit who, and learn to play nicely. If they can’t figure out how to play nicely together, they are both sent to their rooms.

I’ve managed to get most of the way though this post about spanking without revealing whether or not we spank our kids. So, you want to know, do we spank our kids. Yes, we do. How often? Not very often.

Spanking is reserved for situations where our children consistently break the same rule and timeouts are not solving the problem. Our children always get a warning, “If you do that again, you will get a spanking.” Every time I have to say those words to my children, I am thinking “Please don’t do that again, I don’t want to spank you.” Why do I spank then? Well, it works. It changes the behavior, and I honestly believe that a spanking delivered by a calm and loving parent is beneficial. The alternative to spanking would be to allow my children to continue the behavior until I yell at them. Yelling is more harmful than spanking. I mentioned earlier that I was never harmed emotionally by a spanking. My parents yelling, those words said in anger, are hurts that I carried into adulthood.

Now that I’ve established what side of the fence I am on, I want to add some advice about this type of discipline. If you are thinking about spanking, these are the things you need to know. Don’t EVER EVER EVER spank out of anger. If you are angry, don’t spank them. Sent them to their room or someplace FAR FAR from you until you calm down. If calming down is not possible, have someone else do the spanking. If that is not possible, read Supernanny and find a different way to punish your child. Spanking should make you feel terrible. If you get pleasure from spanking your child, it is abuse, and you should never do it again.

I recognize that spanking is not for everyone. I don’t presume to know what parenting style is the best choice. I recommend that parents find what works in their house and for their children. Whatever method of punishment you choose, research it. Know why you are doing it and how to do it properly.

Above all realize that your children have NO idea how to behave properly. All children have a selfish heart and a tendency towards sin, this is the human condition. Do not expect them to know right from wrong and make good decisions. Expect them to make a lot of mistakes, and when they make those mistakes, equip them with the tools they need to make a better decision in the future.

This is the hardest post that I have written. I offer a different opinion then those who have come before me. Do me a favor, leave me a comment. If you agree with any of what I say, support me. If you disagree, I want to know what you do that works better. Here are the opinions of those who have wrote on this subject before me.
Miche does not spare the rod.
Jo-N wants to be her children's best friend.
Tot's Mom spares the rod and believes in patience.
Huckdoll spares the rod and believes there are more effective yet gentle ways to discipline than spanking.
Kelly at Ordinary Art has a three-step approach that does not always work but leaves tiny tushes mark free.
OhMommy has spanked and never will again.
Amy spanks when necessary.

Instructions:

1. Go to your blog.
2. Post about the topic.
3. Give me the hot, hard, and heavy linky love
4. Copy the last paragraph above and add your name and discipline style.
5. Post that paragraph onto your blog, including links. (Yeah, you will want to sharpen a pencil and stab it in your eye at this point. But, isn't that half the fun.)
6. Go to the five people you have tagged and leave them a comment to know they are now, it.
7. Sit back and let the comments roll in.

And so I am interested in what you have to say...
Rachel
LatteMommy
Amy at P2P
The Sports Mama
Daddee

Wordless Wednesday




Sunny and 38 degrees. This is how we spent our Saturday.

For more Wordless Wednesday photo's go here.


And while your here, go here:

Melinda Zook
to win a Coach wristlet. (I have been assured it is authentic.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

My kid would NEVER do THAT!

Christmastime is a great occasion to gather together with family. It is during these times that I get to hear the stories about Jeff’s childhood that he otherwise wouldn’t tell me. A couple of years ago I was shocked by this story:

Cousin 1: Do you remember the time we took those little white balls out of the bean bag and stuffed them in our ears?

Jeff’s sister: Yeah, and your parents were freaking out because they couldn’t get all the balls out of your ears.

Cousin 2: Jeff, wasn’t that your idea?

Jeff takes a big drink of beer to avoid conversation. He always gets uncomfortable when they start telling “Jeff” stories.

Jeff’s sister: Hey, do you guys remember the time Jeff stuck a marble up his nose?

Cousin 1: Oh, that was so funny!

Me: What? A MARBLE! How could he fit a marble up his nose?

Cousin 2: Oh, it was SO funny. His nose bulged out where the marble was.

Jeff has now gone to get another beer to avoid conversation.

Me: How did they get it out?

Jeff’s sister: They pushed on the top of his nose to force the marble out.

Me: Who, in their right mind, would put a marble in their nose?

So last night when my Christmas letter was interrupted by Ariel complaining about her nose, I spent a very short time trying to blow her nose before I got a flashlight and looked up her nose. As you know from last night’s post, she went to the doctor to have the object removed.

The doctor extracted this:

It is a bead that had come off her necklace. The removal was fast and easy. Doctors have tools for this sort of thing.

Ariel has inherited Jeff’s propensity to put objects up his nose. I hope she has learned her lesson, but just in case she hasn’t, I am removing all marbles and bean bags from my house.

Christmas Letter Interrupted

Merry Christmas Friends,

As another year comes to an end, we are struck by how much life changes so fast. Belle will be four years old in one short month. She is no longer a baby or a toddler. She is a preschooler, and a very happy preschooler at that. She loves going to her class and being with her friends. Friends she has made on her own accord. It’s amazing to watch her venture out on her own and experience life beyond her parents.

Ariel too has undergone so many changes. She is at that adorable two-year-old stage where her sentence structure is amusing and her voice is so sweet. She still needs her pacifier and blankies for comfort, and to be honest, I am not ready for her to give those things up. As long as she clings to these…..


We interrupt Mommy's attempt to write a Christmas with the following announcement:

Ariel has something stuck up her nose. Ariel is crying and all attempts to remove this object from her nose have failed. Daddy must rush Ariel to the Doctors office while Mommy stays home and worries about Ariel’s nose. Mommy’s attempt to write a Christmas Letter will resume when Ariel’s nose is cleared of all foreign objects.

Thank you for tuning in to today’s “Memories and Musings of a Mommy”, we hope to return to our regularly scheduled posting tomorrow.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Feast of Saint Nicholas

One of our family traditions is the celebration of the Feast of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was a Bishop who served God by giving his wealth away to people in need. If you want to read more about his story, I recommend this website: "St. Nicholas, discovering the truth about Santa Claus".

Since this is only our 3rd year celebrating the Feast of Saint Nicholas, I managed to get my dates mixed up. Saint Nicholas Day is December 6th. Our family is honoring Saint Nicholas on December 9th this year.

We celebrate Saint Nicholas Day for a couple of reasons. When I heard the story of Saint Nicholas, I was thrilled to know that Santa Claus is derived from a real man who served God by giving gifts. I want my children to know the story of Saint Nicholas, just as they will know all about Santa Claus. The second reason we celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, is so we can wrap up and give Christmas Pajamas and Christmas Dresses to our girls before Christmas.

This year I wanted to present the story of Saint Nicholas in a way that would be entertaining to my children. I wrote down one of the stories of Saint Nicholas in a format they would like and created a makeshift book for our story time tonight. It was a big hit. I would like to share my creation.

The Story of St. Nicholas

A long time ago there
lived a boy named
Nicholas.

When he was young
his parents became
very sick and died.


Nicholas' parents left him with
more money then he could ever
spend.

But, he missed them very much
and felt sad.


Nicholas obeyed Jesus'
words to "sell what you
own and give the money
to the poor."

Nicholas felt happy when
he gave his money away.



Nicholas grew up
to be a Bishop.


This means he
worked at the
church and
served God.


Nicholas heard about
a very poor man with
three daughters.

The poor man wanted
his daughters to get
married, but he didn't
have any money for
a wedding.


One night Nicholas went
to the poor man's house
and tossed three bags of
Gold through an open
window.

The bags of gold landed
on the shoes that were
drying by the fireplace.


The next morning
when the daughters
awoke they found a
bag of gold in each of
their shoes.


The daughters were
very happy. They now
had enough money to
get married.



Tonight we celebrate
"The Feast of Saint Nicholas"
in honor of a man who
served God by giving gifts
to people in need.









All images were obtained from various websites using Google Images search.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

So Long, My Friend

Today is an unexpectedly sad day in our house. My husband is cleaning our Peg Perego Pliko 3 stroller for *gasp* consignment.

I love this stroller. I have no good reason to keep it, we haven't used it in months. Belle will be 4 in January and Ariel is 2 1/2. Ariel is a big girl, and according to her, only babies ride in strollers. So the Peg is going where all good Pegs go, the consignment shop.

One of the benefits of buying a Peg is it's resale value, or at least that's what I told myself at the time. The real reason for the Peg? It's sexy, light weight, easy to maneuver, and frickin' cool. I was one of those mommies carrying a designer diaper bag, wearing makeup and working my designer jeans and impractical shoes. I didn't want my stroller hindering me in between racks of clothing at Nordstrom and Ann Taylor**. I had things to buy and other Mommies to strut my stuff with.

It really didn't last long. By the time Belle was 9 months old, I was pregnant with Ariel. Pretty soon my super sexy shoes were replaced by the comfort of Dansko. Not long after that, the jeans were stored away and I was donning maternity clothing. The stroller still rocked my world, but not because it was so cool, but because it was so easy.

I could put my baby Ariel in a sling, set up the stroller with one hand, put 18 month old Belle in the stroller and off we went. Except now we weren't strutting our stuff. We were rushing to the story time that had already started. We were meeting other overtired, rundown mommies of two at the park or mall play area. I was wearing a hat to cover my disheveled hair and sunglasses to hide my makeup-less eyes.

The true reason why I am going to miss this stroller is because it represents a short period of time when I was the Mommy I always wanted to be. The one with every hair in place, makeup perfectly done and wearing fashionable clothing. The Mommy who went to the mall to shop, for herself. The Mommy that didn't have to waste her time in a play area and wasn't negotiating with her restless kids so she could try on one article of clothing.

To me the Peg represents everything good in motherhood. A sleeping baby in a comfortable stroller while Mommy is shopping. Those were the days.


**Total side note: Did you see Ann Taylor makes maternity clothes?? Ann Taylor Maternity is a great reason to get knocked up!




Friday, December 7, 2007

Flaunt It Friday: Guilty Pleasure

The Mommy Kelly at Taken with a Grain of Salt has presented her Flaunt it Friday Challenge. This week...Guilty Pleasure.
My Guilty Pleasure?
Speed.
Driving Fast.Passing Everyone.
Having more horsepower.And knowing how to use it.







I have become more responsible since having children. I haven't driven over 100 mph in awhile. I use to drive 100 to 120 mph everyday.
Yes, I was that girl.

Now I have kids, and I've slowed down. But every so often I put the pedal to the metal and pass everyone.
Just Because I Can.

Pictures are courtesy of Google Images. I have driven each of these cars at some point in time, and one of them I currently zip around in.

Want to participate in Flaunt it Friday? Post your link here and leave me a comment so I can see yours. Has Friday come and gone? No worries, it's never too late to Flaunt It!

An Award? For Me?

My wonderful fellow blogger, Rachel has awarded me.



Isn't this just the cutest award? I am so proud to display this award on my blog. Please go visit her site "From the Land of Monkeys and Princesses". You will not be disappointed.

I have been told that an acceptance speech is expected. So hear it goes...

I gratefully accept The Royal Banana Award for Blog Yumminess. It gives me great joy to know that my humble blog(and I quote)

"is like turning your face up to the sun; it's bright, it's warm and it makes you feel good."
I would not be able to post my stories everyday without the feedback and support of my readers. I would like to specifically thank my first readers - Gulf Coast Mommy , lattemommy and Rachel. Without each of you I would not have an audience to write for.

**exit music plays**

Thank you all, and don't forget to check out "From the Land of Monkeys and Princesses" for more very deserving winners. If anyone knows how to pick a great blog, it's Rachel!

**Two very handsome men escort me off stage with my Royal Banana**

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Work, Beer and Botox

Latte Mommy tagged me for my very first MEME. What's a MEME? I have no idea, but all the popular blogs are doing it and now I can too! For this MEME I get to list seven things that you didn't know about me. Ready? Here they are.

  • I've mentioned that I am a working mom, but never talk about my job. I am an office manager in an office with three engineers. They engineer our product, I do the other stuff. This means accounting, human resources, purchasing, project management, marketing and telling the assembly team what to build and when to build it. I also get to deal with shipping and export documents. It is a good job, and I enjoy the people I work with.

  • I recently outsourced all my job related writing responsibilities. I was writing press releases with the help my co-workers and an editor. I do not like writing, especially pieces about our very technical XYZ product for a complicated ABC industry that are published in trade magazines read by people more knowledgeable about the industry and applications than I am. Two weeks after I hired a PR firm write my press releases for me, I started this blog. It seems I love a challenge, and am currently challenging myself to become a better writer.

  • The three engineers that I work with met in college. One of the traditions they maintain from their college days is Beer O' Clock. Every Friday at 4 pm we walk to a beer shop that sells microbrews by the bottle. In order to hang out with the guys and drink at work, I've learned to like beer. I have found Abby style Belgium beers to be quite tasty.

  • Every weekday during my lunch break I walk across the street to my gym and workout. It is the best hour of my day.

  • For my 31st birthday, I treated myself to Botox injections. It was great and I'd do it again. For your enjoyment, here is 2 pictures. Me with Botox and me without Botox. I won't even tell you which is which. You guess.


  • I unintentionally lied about my weight on my drivers license. I was eight pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight when I got a new drivers license. I put 125 pounds on my application fully expecting to lose the last couple of pounds. I have been dieting for the last year and a half so I can honestly say I weigh what my license says. It's stupid, I know.

  • Some of my closest friends live far away from me. I either left them in California or they have moved away. I am terrible at picking up the phone and not consistent with e-mailing so I don't get to talk to them very much. I miss them!
That's all folks. Thanks for reading. That was really fun to write.

Now in hopes of finding out some little known facts about my new friends in the blogosphere, I would like to invite....

Fine for Now, who I just found and love her amusing posts.

Rachel, From the Land of Monkeys and Princesses. She just tagged me on an Ipod meme which I am going to figure out how to do on my Windows Media Player, soon.

Amy at Permission to Peruse who writes a blog I am being entertained by.

TheMommyKelly at Taken with a Grain of Salt. If you are looking for something fun to do, check out her Flaunt it Friday Challenge.

I'd tag some more people, but my bed is calling. Happy blogging everyone.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Wooden Flute

After dinner last night Belle was blowing into a wooden flute as we were listening Christmas Carols. The sound that came out could hardly be called music, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Belle handed the flute to Jeff and he played "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" for us. He then passed the flute to Ariel, so she could screech out notes in rhythm to "Little Drummer Boy". I remember thinking that we would make the perfect Norman Rockwell painting. I was delighted that the girls were taking turns with this fun musical instrument. Hours later I realized that we were sharing more than just memories.

At 2 AM Belle got sick. At almost four years old, this is the first time she's vomited in the middle of the night. It was traumatic for her and us. While Jeff changed all her bedding, I sat with her in the bathroom and rubbed her back while she continued to vomit.

I remember being sick when I was young. I remember the bad dreams that came when I had a fever. I remember the awfulness of spending what seemed like the whole night looking into a toilet bowl and emptying my stomach. As a parent there is not much that can be done for a sick child, except be there, hold them and let them know they are not alone. I hope that my presence gave her comfort. It made me feel good to be there with her.

Belle was sick a couple more times today. It's the flu. The flu is most recognized by it's fast onset and violent symptoms. It is also highly contagious. I told you about that shared music experience after dinner. I failed to mention the extra wet, sloppy kisses that Belle received just hours before she became sick. I fear that the flu has invaded our home like a horror movie villain. Eventually everyone in our house is going to be confronted with the ugly virus, it's just a question of who's next and how long until they are attacked.

Wordless Wednesday



For more Wordless Wednesdays go here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Poem

I am struggling with gift giving this Christmas. I want to go Christmas shopping but, I don't have any money to spend and I really shouldn't rack up any more debt.

The problem lies in my love language. When I read "The Five Love Languages of Children" by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, I was appalled that one of the love languages is gifts. My exact reaction was "I hope none of my children have this love language, how would I deal with that!" I read a little further to find that the gifts love language manifests itself in a child treasuring each gift and remembering who it is from. Then it hit me, "Oh my gosh, that's totally me!"

I remember the sweater my future father-in-law picked out for me the first Christmas I spent with Jeff's family. I remember my dad bought me CV joints when I was 19 years old and my car was on it's last legs, literally. I remember Jeff hawked his ski's one Christmas so he could buy me an engraved locket with both our baby pictures in it. I remember the smell of the Coach Diaper Bag that Jeff surprised me with when I was pregnant with Belle. I remember the huge stuffed dog that my Aunt Gayle gave to me for my birthday when I was in High School.

I also remember the gifts I gave. The first Christmas after my parents divorced, I got my dad a coffee maker from Starbucks. When my younger brother was in high school I pitch in with my parents so we could buy him a car stereo. I remember buying my nephew a stuffed lion puppet when he was a toddler and before he was my nephew. I will even admit that for my first Christmas with Jeff, I bought him a shirt that matched mine.

Admittedly, I don't always picked the best gifts, but I have always given something. This Christmas, I want to find something for everyone and pay for it on credit even though I know I don't have the resources to pay off the credit cards. The only resource that I have is a Disney gift card earned with reward points from my Disney Visa purchases.

Here is a short Christmas poem to my family:

My heart and pocket book are having a tug of war.
I hope you want something from the Disney Store.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Joy To The World, My Dinner's Fun!

My first Christmas Miracle of 2007:
We had dinner. In a restaurant. With the girls. And it was enjoyable.

I swore that I would not be one of those parents that stopped dining out when I had kids. After Belle was born, I had no problem keeping that commitment. Dining out with one child was easy, even desirable, just for the simple fact that I didn't have to do any cooking or cleaning up afterwards.

Dining out with two children is not pleasant. Especially my children. Its not really their fault, I'm the one who thought it was a fabulous idea to get pregnant with my second child before the first was even nine months old. In the last two years I have had several restaurant experiences with my children where I either needed a drink or we needed to head for the door. Most of the time I was downing my drink as we ran for the door.

We have found two restaurants that we risk going to with our children. The first is a pizza parlor, so it doesn't really count. The second is a restaurant called Beaches. The big selling points? First, it's loud. Second, it is located on the Columbia River. The kids can watch boats and airplanes all dinner long. Third, for dessert the waitress takes our children away from us. The kids get to pick out a toy and make their own ice cream sundae. It is wonderful, but we have never had a perfect dining experience there.*
*Our failure to have a idyllic dining experience at Beaches is completely our fault and should not reflect negatively on the restaurant.

This weekend we celebrated Jeff's birthday. Jeff wanted to go out for dinner, but wasn't in the mood for pizza and we didn't have a reservation at Beaches. We decided to brave the unknown and go to Big Al's. It wasn't that much of a risk, It's a bowling alley with an arcade, bar and restaurant. What we were really risking is terrible food and kids who didn't want to stay at the table. What we got was a completely different experience.

The restaurant is really a sports bar. Luckily we arrived during the first overtime of the Oregon verses Oregon State football game. The sports bar area was filled with people in orange shirts yelling and screaming. Our table had a wonderful view of all the craziness, perfect kiddie entertainment until their food arrived.

We were not expecting the diverse and succulent sounding menu that Big Al's had to offer. Jeff ordered braised ancho honey pork and I went for the feta vinaigrette marinated chicken breasts topped with a Kalamanta olive, tomato, cucumber salad. Yummmm.

The kids were losing interest in their dinners by the time our food arrived (we ordered the kids food right away so we could avoid a hunger meltdown). Belle discovered that if she stood up in our booth and look over the wall she could see pool tables. Jeff was concerned that she would drop a french fry on some unsuspecting pool player. Once we set the ground rules (perfectly okay to stand up and watch other people, not okay to drop your food on them) everyone was happy. Jeff and I enjoyed our dinner, engaged in adult conversation and marveled at how well the whole experience was going.

We had a wonderful evening. After dinner we played in the arcade. They have a great selection of kids games that yielded tickets that we later exchanged for prizes. We spent $10 on games and went home with a lipstick and crown for each of the girls. Now we have enough crowns for everyone, even the dog.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Happy Birthday My Love.


Thank you for your love, devotion and understanding.
Thank you for pouring all you have into this family, your family.
Three girls who love you, adore you, admire you and need you more than you'll ever know.
To a good man, a great husband and a loving father.
Today we celebrate you.


Happy 32nd Birthday, Jeff!
Love,
Your Girls

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flaunt It Friday: How I Met Your Father

The Mommy Kelly's Flaunt it Friday challenge this week is to give insight into perhaps the most significant relationship in my life: a peek at me and my significant other. This challenge is to be less about the pictures, and more about the story.

It was January 1994. I was in my sophomore year at college and had a job selling Cutco Knives via in home presentations since the summer. I was doing a pretty good job selling knives, in fact I had just won a scholarship from the company for being in the top 25 in the nation for sales while attending school full time. This had earned me some prestige and a position as assistant manager in my office.

One night I had just finished a sales demo, and decided to stop the office on my way home. When I got there my manager, Steven was just finishing up an interview. We called them interviews, but really it was a huge group of people who just sat through an hour presentation about being a Cutco sales rep and anyone who wanted the job would be hired.

Steven was happy to see me. His “interview” had been pretty large and he wanted me to keep the group occupied while he pulled each of them out of the room to offer them a position. My job was to keep anyone from leaving before Steven got a chance to talk to them. Steven pointed out one boy in particular, he told me to make sure the boy didn’t leave.

The boy was Jeff. I can call him a boy, because he was 18 years old at the time. I focused all my attention on Jeff for at least 90 minutes while Steven sorted through the other job candidates. It was a strategy of Steven’s to “leave the best for last.” So, Jeff was left for last and of course got hired. Now he was scheduled for a 3 day group training seminar for that weekend. Steven asked me to stop in on the training whenever I wasn’t on sales demos.

Usually when I am telling this story, Jeff is around to interject. He isn’t here now, so I get to tell this next part my way.

Jeff followed me around like a puppy dog. If the training group went out to lunch, he would make sure he was in my car. The group went bowling one night and Jeff insisted it was easiest for him to come to my apartment first. When the next semester of classes started, Jeff managed to add himself into two classes that I was already enrolled in.

I didn’t mind Jeff ALWAYS being around, but I wasn't particularly interested either. Truth be told, I had a crush on someone else.

One night my parents called to tell me that they bought a new TV, and I could have their old one. I was ecstatic. I was a poor college student who had been living without a TV for months. I needed help picking up this TV and moving it into my upstairs apartment so I contacted Jeff and the other boy I had a crush on. Jeff said yes, the other boy said no. Jeff and I spent an hour in the car together driving to and from my parent’s house. It was then that I started to realize how much fun I had with Jeff, and what a jerk this other boy was.

The rest they say is history. We dated for 2 1/2 years before we got engaged. In March of 1997 we were married. And we lived happily ever after. The End.

Spy's Like Us

Belle's forth birthday is in January, she talks about it all the time. Lately she has been asking if she can invite two of her friends from preschool (we'll call them Leigh and CeeCee) to her birthday party. We have never met Leigh and CeeCee or their parents. Because of how Belle's preschool is organized, the opportunity to meet Belle's friends and their parents is a little problematic.

The issue with her preschool is parking. When the parents drop the kids off they have to double park or park in a fire lane, so the kids are ushered into the school by parents that have to get back to their cars quickly. Preschool pick up is a little better. They have a designated area where the parents park at the curb. The preschoolers are escorted out to where the parents are waiting.

I'm not sure how other preschools operate, but our preschool doesn't make it easy for parents to mingle. So, Jeff and I developed a plan in which Jeff would ask Belle to introduce him to her friend in the morning. Then at pick up time, Jeff would watch which car Belle's friend got into. Once Jeff knew which car to look for he could approach the parent next time they were all waiting in line for the pick up.

I'm not completely comfortable with this plan but, we want Belle to have her friends at her birthday party
, so we are willing to do what ever it takes to find these parents and get to know them.

Today, our plan worked. Here is the transcript of the instant message with my Husband.

Jeff: so I met Leigh's parents

Amy: Both her parents?

Jeff: yes

Amy: did you get to chat with them for a bit?

Jeff: yes

Amy: what’s their story?

Jeff: ( some details about Leigh’s siblings that I won't post here.)

Amy: did you meet the parents in the pickup line?

Jeff: when I dropped off Belle this morning, I met Leigh and as I left, both girls were holding hands
Yes on the pickup

Amy: Belle and Leigh?

Jeff: yes

Amy: how cute!

Jeff: it was

Amy: so that is how you found the parents?

Jeff: yes

Amy: did you talk to them about a play date or Belle's birthday?

Jeff: yes. I told them in about a week.
I picked up a check today at Denim (this is our local consignment shop where we take old baby stuff)

Amy: you’re changing the subject on me

Jeff: yes

Amy: "told them in about a week......" What?

Jeff: that I would call them to schedule a meeting

Amy: did they seem okay with that or weirded out?

Jeff: Leigh has been talking about Belle for sometime too

Amy: oh Good!!
I feel like a stalker

Jeff: why

Amy: it's just weird trying to locate a child’s parents and get together with them.
It's a lot like stalking

Jeff: how else do you do it? It's not too weird

Amy: I know,
So did you find out anything about them?
Like why both of them were picking Leigh up?

Jeff: by the way, Jill called regarding the Christmas Tea.
It's this Thursday Night

Amy: changing the subject again...
In the evening?
are you sure?

Jeff: I believe so.

Amy: I'll talk to her

Jeff: She left a VMail last night
check my email account for the VMail

Amy: ok thanks
So you got Leigh's phone number?

Jeff: or here you go
(He uploads the voice mail message about the Christmas Tea)

Amy: thanks

Jeff: need to go. Chat w/ you later

Amy: k

Jeff never did chat with me again. I was feeling like a creepy stalker. So creepy, even my husband didn't want to talk to me.

Come to find out, Jeff thought that I thought that he was a creepy stalker.


Go ahead read that sentence again, it might make more sense the second time around.


Apparently when I was asking him all the questions about how he found Leigh's parents, he thought
I was creeped out by him.


Is this making a bit of sense?


So the bottom line is: one set of parents found, one more to go. Is there a better way meet the next set of parents without resorting to uncharacteristic spy like behavior?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Family as Elves


Have you seen this?


The elfin' greeting presented by OfficeMax®.

Click here to see my family spread some Christmas Cheer (and laughs).

The link will take you to Office Max's website.
This is not a paid post. It is purely for my amusement and yours.