Thursday, December 31, 2009

Day 309 - Goodbye 2009

I'm glad it's the last day of 2009. For me, it signals the end of a crappy hard year. Don't let all my happy blogs fool you...this has been tough. It's been a long, lonely road. But somehow the changing of the year signifies a closeness of getting back to normal. I am looking forward to getting reintroduced to normal.

Today while Elise was a day care, I got to play with the big kids and do big kid stuff. That is something we don't normally get to do, since the baby is always around to hinder our big kid fun.

First, I took the kids sledding. We have a park with a giant hill that eases from steep to mild. Luke had a new sled that goes faster than anything I've ever seen. And he loved the thrill.

Maria got a little brave this year and started going by herself. She even eased over more into the steep territory.

(Tammi - Thank goodness I didn't give away these mittens. They were so warm!)

After sledding we went to the movies to see the Chipmunk movie. They loved it. Notice, I said "they." I'm craving an adult movie here. Craving. (My last 3 theater experiences...Chipmunks, G-Force, and Wall-E. Gee...get out much do ya?)

The rest of the day was spent playing with all kinds of new Christmas toys and visiting with neighbors. Not a bad way to end the year.

Days 304-308 - Catching Up

On Christmas day I packed up the kids and started the 6 day round trip of visiting grandparents. It's all a blur looking back on it now...but a couple of days were spent at my mom's then a few more at the in-laws. Too many presents, too much food, and a lot of miles. Can you say exhaustion?

However, the new surroundings, the new toys, and the extra attention doled out by the grandparents were all very welcome distractions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 303 - Christmas Day

We had a good Christmas morning...

Chris even joined us for a little while.

Everyone was happy with their presents. Santa was tired, but still managed to get it all done.

Elise loved all of the paper. It is her favorite food.

Yes, that is a tattoo on her forehead.
Thanks, Aunt Julie.

Yes, that is a smile on Luke's face - really.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Day 302 - Christmas Eve

Today we spent the day in our pj's. It was nice and calm, but slow moving.

Luke found a love for his legos again. Today he spent half the day making Wall-E, his lunchbox, his house, the garbage, and the cockroach. Amazing. It's all "from scratch" - no kits here.

Tonight we had a very fancy Christmas Eve dinner. (I made a big stink about it all day hoping it would entice them to eat...I think it worked!)

First we had appetizers.

Strawberries, gouda cheese, kalamata olives, artichokes, salami, and crackers stacked any way you like!

Next up, the kiddie drinks. We toasted to Chris.

Then the yummy stuff. Beef tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes, and crescent rolls. They ate it all!

For dessert we got to eat my neighbors famous buttermilk cookies with cream cheese frosting. I am lucky to get a dozen of these every year!

I am excited for the kids to go to bed. I have a lot to do tonight to prep for Santa's arrival!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 301 - Dressing Up

I'm trying to get the blog all prettied up for its last 99 days. About time, huh? I am not the most technically savvy gal around, so this was quite a feat.

Ashley, who took our picture here, always makes our family look relaxed and normal. If you got a Christmas card from us this year, she took the picture for that too. She is awesome. I am thinking about having her join us at the airport for some reunion pictures. Just ones to capture the moment...nothing staged or anything. (What do you think Chris - you game?)

Christmas, 99 more days, and Disney. My brain is full of happy right now.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 300 - 300!!

It's already day 300. 300 is sooo much better than 100, or 200. Only 100 more days (give or take a few) until Chris comes back to us for good.

To celebrate, I booked our reunion Disney trip/Disney cruise today. 2 trips in one year's time...why not? The kids are only little once, right?

Sorry to those around me who have to hear me go on and on about Disney. I know I am a little obsessed. And "little" might be not a strong enough word...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 299 - Took

Today -

Took Elise to day care.
Took Luke to the doctor.
Took Luke and Maria to the gym to swim.
Took them to McDonald's for lunch.
Took them bowling with friends.
(Picked up Elise.)
Took the kids plus Grandpa to Logan's for dinner.
Took everyone to see the Christmas lights at the ball park.
Took the kids to see Santa.

I am now taking myself to bed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 298 - New Stuff

I've been wanting to redecorate the bathrooms in our house for a long time now. (It's crazy that we've been here 9 years already!)

I wanted to share what I bought for two of them. I bought these things a long time ago, but finally bought the frames last week and put them together. Now, I just need to paint and buy some new towels and I'll have a little mini home makeover to share. (But don't hold your breath for that!)

First up, are these awesome photographs by Alicia Bock. I have loved her photographs for a long time, so it was fun to finally pick some out for myself. They have the coolest metallic sheen to them and are just lovely. Check out her Etsy shop here.

Next up are these fun mixed media pieces made by Karin from AWindowIntoWhimsy. She sews cute paper shapes on colored mat boards. I fell in love with all of these when she started making them because they were so similar to one of my long time favorite shops on Etsy called Moonmum. Fun stuff!

Day 297 - Getting Lazy?

It's Christmas break for the kids and I am not finding the time to get things done - including the blog. Messes are being made faster than I can clean them. Diapers are being filled faster than I can change them. Food is being eaten faster than I can cook it.

A giant to-do list looms over me and the chances to cross things off it are rare. For instance - I haven't balanced the checkbook in 2 months because I can't find one of the books. Elise plays in the drawers that stores them, and one is still missing.

I finally found my registration sticker for my license plate buried in a pile of papers. It should have been on my car since October. It's still not on the plate, but it is at least in the car now.

I'm getting a mysterious charge on Chris's credit card for Guess what? It's not free. It's $15 a month, and it's a pain in my butt to get it canceled when the owner of the card is at war. All I need to do is fax over the power of attorney and then I can cancel it. my free time.

Nothing is easy. Everything seems complicated. But each day I write this and see that number go up and I have hope that things will be easier when we reach day 400.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 296 - Friday

It was a pretty good day. Tennis in the morning, and drinking wine with friends at night. A lot of other fun and not so fun stuff happened in between (decorating cookies and taking Elise to the doctor for her on-going ear infection.)

I am just looking forward to getting these 2 weeks, winter in general, and this deployment over and done with.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Days 294 & 295 - Christmas Parties

Yesterday and today were dedicated to being the room mom to Luke and Maria's classes. Long lists of craft items, game components, and snacks filled my brain. Thankfully the parties are over and 40 kids are now satisfied with holiday party goodness.

Maria's class had a snack, then made 2 crafts and heard a story. Then we played a game of unwrapping presents. I had placed a dollar coin in a small box and wrapped it. Then I placed it in a bigger box and wrapped it, etc. until I had a huge box full of wrapped boxes. The kids got to take turns opening the presents until one lucky student got the prize.

Luke's class was doing a Christmas Around the World theme. We had a big snack, then did 4 crafts and games based on traditions in different countries. My station was frosting a sugar cone to make it look like a Christmas tree (which had a little German/gingerbread tone). Yummy, messy fun!

Valentine's day is only 59 days away. Time to start planning!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Days 292 & 293 - Gifts

I think it is now safe to reveal what Chris and I got each other for Christmas.

So, what did we send him?

He received a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, tuna fish, peanut m&m's, nuts, and a bunch of Clif bars. (Better than socks, huh?)

But this is what we got...

I got a tennis racket (by giving a big hint). I just could not be more excited about this.

Then today we got 2 big boxes from Iraq.

This is how we divided it up. I got to keep the Iraqi coins, the wooden jewelry box, the genie lamp (it didn't work - we all gave our 3 wishes anyways), and the marble cups.

Luke chose the marble chess set and the gold Jesus plaque (which Luke said he blessed and then prayed to).

Maria picked out the Iraq jewelry box and the wooden fan. That left Elise with the Dora "Operation Iraqi Freedom" camo backpack.

"Operation Overseas Gift Giving 2009" is pretty much complete.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 291 - Great Weekend

Today was a great, but busy end to the long, long weekend we just survived. The best part of the day was the annual cookie exchange down at the neighbor's house. What could be better than rowdy neighbor girls, shots served in chocolate shot glasses, and a table full of sugary goodness?

My cookies this year were easy. I made a chocolate chip cookie recipe but added tons of chopped up white chocolate pretzels and mini m&m's along with the chocolate chunks (forget those little bitty chips!) I think they were pretty tasty!

This is my haul. Chris is going to say as soon as he sees this picture "You might as well tape those cookies to your butt." Ha! I work out Chris...don't you know?

The other fun thing about today was making this video with my kids. My dad sent one to us earlier in the day. The kids loved it so much that they wanted to make another version with their dad in it. Click here to see it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 290 - Crafty

The cleaning lady came today. It never fails - when the slate is clean, I get a jump start on crafty.

This morning the kids and I made these Wilton gingerbread houses. These little guys were hard to make! I'll remember that next year to buy 1 or 2 of the big ones instead of this set of 5 little ones. (Plus, there is more room for candy on the big ones. That is all the kids care about anyway!)

Next came some sugar cookies. I got them baked, but not frosted. That will be tomorrow's project. These are getting bagged up and sent into school for teacher treats.

While I was baking the kids were crafting at the table with a fresh package of construction paper. A lot of fun stuff was being made and will be given to the grandparents for Christmas gifts.

All of that and the house is not in too bad of shape. We still have a few more hours until bedtime though...there is still plenty time for destruction.

Day 289 - Going Out

Yesterday morning, after being snowed inside for 48 hours we got word that the kids had another snow day. (3 days in a row, if you are counting.)

For my sanity, I had to get out. I took the baby to daycare. Then I took the other 2 to the gym with me so I could pound tennis balls for an hour. After that we hit the (snow covered) road to go to the post office and Michaels. We had some Sonic for lunch and called it a day.

My sanity really increased by going to my neighbor's fabulous party. The kids had a great time, the baby slept (amid all of the noise), and we all tried to remember the 80's with our standard neighborhood get-together trivia game. (The girls won!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Days 287-288 Snow Days

We are in blizzard mode here. The kids did not have school yesterday or today. So we've been home bound, but not too stir crazy.

The kids have been surprisingly independent and busy. Luke found love for his Legos again. Maria is keeping entertained by debuting a new dress-up outfit every hour complete with accessories.

I really hope there is school tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 286 - The Post Office

Last week, I sent Chris a box of goodies for Christmas. It was the box that didn't want to be sent. After turning a Mary Kay box inside out to avoid any manly embarrassment, I packed in all of the items. While sealing up the box I completely ran out of packaging tape, which turned out to be a good thing since I had forgotten to put in all of the Clif Bars that Chris has asked for. So I popped them into my half-open box and headed to the hardware store for more tape.

It was then that I realized I had forgotten to bring along Chris' mailing address. I had to go all the way back home to fetch it. No biggie...he's worth it.

I finally am at the post office with a sealed box and an address. I fill out my customs form firmly and legibly. $37 later and my package is on it's way to Chris.

Three days later...

I see the box sitting on my front porch. It has a note attached that I need to fill out a customs form for it to be sent. (Hmmm...I know that!) I hear the engine of the mail truck so I grab the package and head out to the end of the driveway to meet it. I explained to the driver that I already had filled one out, but that the teller must not have attached it to the box. (I had my receipt right inside if there was any trouble...I did not want to pay the postage again.) She came back for my new customs form and zipped off with the package. So, I figure everything is fine now.

Three days later...

Chris sends me an email about my package. It has arrived, but he is wondering why the contents don't match up with my customs form. Instead of Clif Bars, tuna fish, Christmas decorations, a uniform, and magazines he has a back massager in his box.

So that first customs form ended up on someone else's box and is now in Iraq.

(I know it's too late for long story, short, but..) Now we are in a bit of a mess with this mystery package. Chris is going send it back here to try to get it to it's real owner and the Postmaster is going to reimburse us if he gets charged to mail it.

So if you are missing a back massager, speak up! Too bad we are not finders keepers kind of people...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 285 - The Flip Side

I am far from super mom. (This is your feel good will feel good about yourself after you read this - trust me.)

I will only let you into my house on Wednesdays from 12 pm - 5 pm unless you give me at least a half hour's notice. Otherwise, bundle up and know that you're staying on the porch since my house is too messy to let you in. (Cleaning lady comes on Wednesdays...and the "look" only lasts until the kids get home.)

I brush the baby's four teeth every few days. (I need to get better at this...poor third child.)
She wears the same clothes until they get dirty. She's been known to wear the same thing 2-3 days. She's never worn shoes. And we watch Baby Einstein movies all the time.

My kids are picky eaters. Maria eats less veggies than I do. I think her short list consists of potatoes, corn on the cob, and a nibble of raw broccoli or a raw carrot. Luke won't eat any form of potato - not even a McDonald's french fry (which is probably a good thing.)

I'm terrible about reading to my kids. Shame on me since I was a 1st grade teacher all those years. We read the weekly library books, but finding time to sit down to do this is so hard. I see a New Year's Resolution here.

I spend too much time on Facebook, although it is less time than it used to be. I got in a bad habit while I was nursing and it's hard to shake. I especially do it at night while the kids are getting to sleep. (In my defense, I only watch 1 hour of TV a this might be a wash.)

There you go...some of my anti-supermom secrets. I delete the while thing and find something else to write? Or do I hit "publish post"? Aw...what the heck...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 284 - Getting There

I've been hearing more and more lately things like "I don't know how you do it", "You make it look easy", and "Whenever I start to complain about my husband being gone, I think of you and get over it."

It's kind of nice to know people are thinking about our family living through this deployment. I'd like to think people appreciate Chris for the whole defending-our-country thing, but I really didn't realize people appreciate me too.

And while people are sympathetic to us and our situation, I look to other people's lives and feel sympathetic towards them. It can always be worse. There are many positives for us living like this. And to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel makes it that much easier.

I've been day dreaming lately about our reunion. The last one was filled with a lot of fanfare. We (just a year-old Luke and I back then) waited outside on a cold night with a handmade sign for the charter buses to arrive from the airport. The guys were still in their uniforms. It took forever for Chris to find me with all of the people in the crowd. But we found each other...(and nine months to the day later we brought Maria home from the hospital.)

I imagine this homecoming will be much different. I think we will be at the airport waiting for him. I think he will look like a civilian and no one around us will know what we had to endure for the last 14 months. And I know there will be a lot of hugs, lots of hugs...(but no more babies!!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Days 282 & 283 - Open House

For the last few years my friends and I have had open houses this time of year to sell off all of our crafty projects. It never fails - it snows. And it snows like crazy.

On Friday we woke up to this:

It was an official no school snow day. That goofed my schedule up for a bit, but I got it all worked out.

The open house was amazing! Great sales and many people came through. I think we have a cult like following. People love our slightly-country, modern, whimsical, cutesy kind of style. I'm glad the snow didn't slow the shoppers down!

I think I am about sold out now. I have a year to get my stock pile back up. Now to find the time...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 281 - Christmas Program

(Luke is the first one in the front row.)

Tonight was a night that I feared. The school Christmas Program. So many things could've gone wrong. Would Luke be able to handle himself up on stage for 45 minutes with the entire community watching? Would the baby be able to not fuss during the show, which was scheduled for her bedtime? Would Maria drive me mad with her whining that she wanted to be on stage too?

I didn't want to take him. It would have been an easy off-the-hook this year since we have so many excuses.

But he had a part. He was a drummer boy. And he was "the best drummer" according to him.

So we went. And as soon as the singing began I breathed a huge sigh of relief. He was singing. He was doing the movements. He was almost smiling. He was not pushing anyone off of a riser. He was not wiggling his butt at the audience. Oh yes...the things I imagined he would do, he did not do. So I was relieved. And I nearly cried. Because for once, he looked and acted normal. And that made me feel like all of the hard work everyone has been putting into him is finally paying off a little.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 280 - New Meds

My son is a human guinea pig. In 9 months he's been on 4 different medications in many different varieties of dosages and combinations.

Tomorrow, comes his 5th. I hope it is the one.

Tomorrow it's an increase in the Tenex plus a new prescription of Vyvanse.

I hope this is the magic combo for us to survive tomorrow's Christmas concert.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 279 - I Believe

The full moon makes everyone crazy. It does. I'll blame it all on that today.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 278 - I'm Done

I've reached my breaking point. I'm so done with this. 5 more months, are you kidding me? And with winter right around the corner - my least favorite time of year - I am in a dreaded state of major funk.

So, if anyone wants 3 perfectly charming kids, they are up for grabs. I'm thinking about heading to a deserted island somewhere where there is a never ending flow of slushy drinks. No cleaning, no bills to pay, no cooking, no taxi service, no 5 am wake up calls, no kids sitting on top of me at any time, no meltdowns, no fighting, no Sponge Bob, no grocery shopping, no laundry, no light bulb changing, no floor scrubbing, no toys to pick up, no Baby Einstein, no recycling, no movie returning, no sock sorting, no diaper changing, nothing...


That is all I want for Christmas, please.

Day 277 - Thanksgiving Pictures

Here are a few pictures of our Thanksgiving dinner at my dad's. Always good food going on there.

Elise had her first taste of un-Gerber-ized turkey. And, really, I do own bibs, I just would rather do lots and lots of laundry.

The family tradition of playing UNO. Luke was not intimidated in his inaugural match.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Days 264 - 276 - Two out of Three

2 out of 3 sets of grandparents were visited this Thanksgiving weekend.

2 out of 3 kids behaved nicely.

2 out of 3 kids spent the night at my sisters house last night giving my mom and I lots of prime Boggle playing time.

2 out of 3 craft shows are finished.

2 out of 3 kids are at their friends' houses right now giving me time to write.

The turkey tour is now complete, and it's time to concentrate on Christmas I guess. Shopping, programs, baking, Santa visiting, decorating...will I be able to handle it all?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 263 - Cranberry Sauce

Only 2 days until Thanksgiving. I can't wait for some turkey. Today I made my cranberry sauce. To each their own...but I won't eat that sludge that comes out of a can.

Here's the recipe if you want to try it.

1 lb. fresh cranberries, washed
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 whole orange, unpeeled, seeds removed and chopped fine. (This year I used a clementine.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
dash of ground cinnamon

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Add cranberries, orange, and cloves. Simmer over a high flame, stirring frequently until the berries pop open. Add crushed pineapple and cinnamon. Turn off heat and let cool. Add walnuts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Days 259-262 - Craft Goddess

I love my job as a crafter. This time of year, it finally pays off. I may never, ever profit with this job since I have a huge addiction to shopping at craft stores. But there is something so wonderful about creating something and someone else buying it, because they can't or won't make it themselves.

Friday and Saturday half of my items were on display at the fancy house. 900 people came through that house over the weekend to shop, and when I went to pick up my leftover items there was not much left. All of the stained glass and clipboards sold. Most of my tags and post-it note clipboards sold. (That means I get to make more!!)

Saturday I had a show at a church by my house. It is the 4th year I've done this show and each year my friends (who I share a booth with) and I have record sales. It almost feels like people seek us out. It seemed so slow at first that we were getting worried, but by the end of the day we made over 10x our booth fee so we were very happy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 258 - Offers

Sometimes I think no one ever thinks about the situation our family is in. I really don't talk about it too much or try to get attention for it. I guess it just seems normal, and almost flawless.

It's not that I am trying to be super mom in any way. I am just being a stay at home mom with a husband who never comes home. Sometimes I have to be at three places at the same time and I have to figure it out. It would be that way whether Chris was here or not.

But lately, I've realized that people do think of us. The offers to help out are coming in which is nice. It makes me feel like our family and what we are doing for our country is appreciated.

We got an offer for Thanksgiving dinner from someone we only slightly know. He just wanted to be sure we had somewhere to go, and something yummy to eat.

We have an offer from Chris' co-workers to get the video camera things we need to get hooked up with Skype. Since I'm low on technology ability, having someone else figure it out will be nice. I hope someone on Chris' end will be able to help him out.

For the next few months I am looking for anyone who wants to take a girl or two off my hands while I take Luke to wrestling twice a week. Or even better...anyone want to take him for me? That stinky wrestling room is all man. All man.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 257 - Random Stuff

Today I dropped off half of my finished craft goodies to a house that will sell them for me during a tour of homes type of sale. Look at this place...I love it.

Most of all, I love this door. Chris...put that on my wish list for our next house, OK?

I had a lot of encounters with dead deer today. It is deer season I guess, but I still get taken off-guard when I see them strapped on top of cars and in truck beds. The cleaning lady told me today that her husband killed 2 and he processes them himself. She proceeded to tell me much more than I ever needed to know about that.

I ate 2 lunches today. The second one was at Sonic. I love those Blue Coconut Slushes.

I've been complaining (to myself mostly) that my XM radio expired again in the car. I'm addicted to it. Especially since the only decent radio station around here only plays about 10 different songs and about half of them seem to be by Nickelback. Ugh. Well, it turns out I still have it. 1st wave and Alt. Nation live on!

I'm getting good at tennis. I'm thinking about doing it twice a week instead of once. Watch out Wimbledon...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 256 - Hard Day

We had it rough around here today. Maria skinned and fattened up her lip in a scooter mishap, the baby bonked her head pretty hard as she (literally) ran away from me, and I crushed my foot on the baby's toy.

I figured it wouldn't be a complete day unless Luke had some mishap himself.

Instead...I got a call from the principal that he caused a mishap. A melee' is a better term for what happened. Against girls. He hit girls today. I could not be more disappointed.

I struggle every darn day with him. I feel bad for him and for the hand he's been dealt. I want to strip away all of the meds for ADHD and the problems caused by Chris being at war, and see what is left...who is the real Luke?

I want to blame it all on something.

Is it because he is surrounded by girls? All of the neighbors his age are girls. His class is 2/3 girls. He is taught by females. He is stuck in this house with all females. I imagine he just wants to wrestle, fart, and whatever else boys do.

Is it me? Am I just a bad mom? I want the magic pill. I want the quick fix.

Here he is at 7 and I am already resenting the calls from the teachers and the prinicpal. I don't even feel like answering the phone...because I don't think I can fix it.

I am tired of all the prescription experimentation, the doctors, the questions about his short life history, the paperwork, the appointments, the therapy.

So, enough of this bad day. I hope for a better one tomorrow. That is all I can do.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 255 - My Day Off

I spent today, a day with no kids, working on my upcoming craft shows. This weekend I am doing 2 shows - one I have to be at, and another where I just drop off my things and they sell it for me.

Today I priced most of my finished items, then divided the loot into what I would take to each show. One thing I didn't factor in was having enough display pieces for 2 simultaneous shows. My friend Melissa had some great things from when she sold Pampered Chef and she thankfully is letting me borrow them.

I think everything so far looks perfect.