Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy **I Need a Drink** Halloween

Let's just start this off by saying that our Halloween evening didn't start out full of sunshine and happiness. This was Day Two of the fall school conference, meaning second day in a row of no school. I love my children dearly but for some reason lately they seem to feel my existence is purely to entertain, clothe, feed, pick up after and cater to their whims. So when it was time to start getting my children dressed and ready for our neighborhood chili dinner prior to trick-or-treating, I was already tired, drained and a bit miffed. I told them it wasn't nice to ME to make me a mean crabby mom. Yeah, I know, we make our own happiness, yada, yada, yada.

But we all got dressed, Julia's hair straightened, corn bread made and put into bowls, gathered TWO cameras and headed on over at 5:00. It was a beautiful day here; warm and sunny so my mood couldn't help but get better.

Here is Emma dressed as a fairy. She is not a head band kind of girl and we have caught her in the act of starting to remove the offending accessory.

Ryan was knight. He wasn't sure he liked this costume until he realized that he got to carry around Julia's pirate sword. My goal had been to have Ryan and Emma's costumes match some how. I never came up with anything brilliant (I save my brilliance for my blog-- LOL!!!) but a knight and fairy go well together... I think.

Jenna was so busy running around with her friend Kendall that I realized after I uploaded my pictures that I never got a full shot of her costume. UGH! But here's a picture of her running off. She's in the light pink leotard and tights and cream colored skirt. She was an ice skater.

Julia was supposed to be a pirate. She even had TWO costumes to chose from. But a pirate is not a girly girl costume so she spent the day coming up with a new costume. I told her I wouldn't spend one dime more, that she had to find things around the house. She ended up going as a prom queen. You'll see a better shot of her in a minute. I just love this photo of her with Emma.

The girls also decided that I needed to dress up as well. I'm sure that you don't find it hard to believe that I do dress up for Halloween. I just didn't have a plan for this year so the girls raided my closet and decided that I needed to go as a super model. They found a fancy dress they wanted me to wear along with a pair of 3 inch heels. For some reason I didn't feel confident in pulling the super model look off. The good news was that the dress actually fit!!!

So I played it totally ultra boring and safe this year. First I told them I was a best selling author. Later I told them I was Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series. I had to go with Stephenie rather than Kay Bratt, my other favorite author, because Kay is blond and I am obviously not. I thought the sun glasses really helped pull it all together.

I find our block parties or even hanging outside to sometimes be somewhat stressful. Emma still doesn't walk well so she's crawling around scuffing her shoes and wearing holes in her pants. Tonight was no exception. I spent pre-dinner chasing her around, keeping her from putting various objects on the ground into her mouth and watching as she climbed all over a children's table. Then it was time to eat.

Let me ask you, have you ever tried to get food for 3 small children while holding a baby on your hip who grabs everything in reach. Throw in a 5 year old girl who thinks that she can eat only a handful of chips for dinner and 2 year old who only wanted a hot dog. But it only got better.

Jenna sat at this table.

Jenna sat on the other side of the driveway with Kendall.

Julia sat in a chair in the drive way.

And Ryan sat at another table closer to Emma. I got to run from child to child, the 3 younger children anyway, checking on them and making sure they weren't climbing on the table (Emma), eating other people's food off their plate (Emma and Ryan) and that they were actually eating their food (Jenna.) You would think that with all that running around that I wouldn't get a chance to eat but never fear. I ate plenty. I have to tell you that at one point as I was running around I thought to myself "Why am I stressing myself out like this?" but the happy looks on those children's faces made it pretty clear why I did it. They were happy and making happy memories. I was burning an extra 50 calories and inching myself closer to high blood pressure.

Then it was time for Trick-or-Treating.

I took the Big Boy camera back home and got the stroller so I didn't have to carry Emma around. I also needed to retrieve the trick-or-treat buckets and we were off.

We ended up going around with Kendall, much to Jenna's delight. We started out with most of the kids on the cul-de-sac but Ryan was pretty slow and soon the bigger kids took off without us.

Ryan really had no clue what all of this was about but it only took him one house to figure out that it was a good thing. Smart boy.

We walked around a couple of streets. Ryan was impossibly slow, Emma was getting restless in the stroller and at one point I turned to Kendall's dad and told him I had the title of this post already figured out. Happy ** I Need a Drink** Halloween It was no surprise that by the time we got close to our street Kendall's dad offered to let Jenna continue on with them so we could go home. Julia ran on home to turn on the porch light and pass out candy while I took the babies to a couple of other houses on our street. At the last house my neighbor opened the door and and asked me if I wanted to come in and have a drink. She told me that I looked like I needed one. Was it that obvious?

I guess Halloween wishes do come true.

Edited Saturday morning at 9:30: I did want to add that the children were oblivious to my stress. They just had a good time. I was unhappy the I wasn't having a good time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I've got the Music in Me

As with so many big life events people can tell you what they were doing when something big happened. You know what I mean. I can tell exactly what I was doing when I went into labor with 2 of my 3 pregnancies (the third was induced and I can remember MUCH of that horrible experience} I can tell you what I was doing both times I got "the call" with 2 of my adoptions and the total chaos of the third. So it only stands to reason that I can tell you what I was doing when all 3 High School Musical movies came out.

The first is bittersweet. It came out the night before Darrell and I left on our trip to Florida the week before his accident. I went to neighborhood bunco while Darrell watched with little 8 year old Julia. Actually, I think he bribed her with money to scratch his head while SHE watched it, but he was there none the less. He was a good daddy.

The second came out while we were living in the lap of luxury at the Homestead Suites Our cable selection was quite limited and we didn't have Disney channel-- oh the horror! (Hey, I was equally punished with no HGTV or Food Network) This proved quite the dilemma which was thankfully solved when Julia's friend threw a HSM 2 party the night it premiered. I wormed Jenna and I and invite too. I had wanted to see it but ended up helping the hostess take care of all the kids. So the first time I really saw HSM2 was in Hanoi, Vietnam laying on a board hard bed watching with my very ill 4 year old daughter Jenna, who I believe had strep throat. (We got antibiotics from a Western clinic) We owned the CD so I knew every song, especially Bet On It. So I would sing along at points; Jenna's throat hurt too much to sing.

When the girls heard that there would be a High School Musical 3 they were beyond excited. But when Julia found out that the movie came out the night before her middle school's play, Peter Pan, she was not a happy girl. Believe it or not, she even considered ditching the dress rehearsal the night before the play to go see the movie. I finally convinced her that for one thing ditching a dress rehearsal was only an option if you were rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, and even then being excused was pretty iffy. And for another, the lines would be horrendous!!! After my few experiences standing in long lines I try to avoid them when possible. I know, what kind of mother am I? I finally convinced her that waiting until Sunday was a good thing.

Sunday arrived and the girls were even more excited because I coerced the big boys into watching the babies so it could just be the 2 girls and I. It was an easy baby sitting job since I timed their naps to coordinate with the movie, although it didn't stop the whining, from the big boys that is. We got to the movie a little early; its surprising how much faster you can get somewhere when you're not lugging around a 15 month old and a 2 1/2 year old. This meant we got to see the previews. I'm one of those weird people who actually enjoys the previews. The girls were very excited to see that Zac Efron has a new movie coming out this winter. Sigh...

I thought that the movie itself was all right. Some plot lines were totally preposterous, but what Hollywood movie doesn't do that? Besides, its a musical. Who just jumps into a song and dance, and even better, has a whole room full of self conscious teenagers jump into it too with perfect synchronicity?

Uh, me.

Seriously. These movies (count Hair Spray in there too. Hmm, Zac Efron was in that one too...) make me feel like I could just jump up and burst out into a song dance. And I do, although usually in the privacy of my own home. The girls are semi used to this obnoxious behavior on my part, and often enjoy it-- unless Julia's friends are around! But Ryan, this is totally new to him but I was somewhat surprised by his reaction.

The kids were eating breakfast the other day and I just burst out in a song and dance. I can only imagine what the poor boy was thinking What kind of crazy woman is this???

But soon he got used to the idea that Mommy is a crazy woman and started laughing along with his sisters. Now that I think about it maybe they were laughing at me. Oh well, at least they're laughing!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can Someone Translate This Please?

The Impossible Task of Measuring Up

I'm a bit of a blog snoop. Instead of folding laundry, or washing dishes or picking up the aftermath of babies at play I will read a blog and click on a link to another blog within the post of an interesting looking blog on a side bar. I can meander for endless lengths of time reading other people's blogs sometimes just passing through, others I stop and "sit a spell." (I have no idea why that phrase popped into my head. Some of those really Southern blogs must have planted a seed somewhere.) Sometimes I'll stumble upon a blog I enjoyed, forget to bookmark it and then have no idea how I got to it consequently loosing it, temporarily at least.

But there's a danger to reading some of those blogs, for me anyway, and from some of your comments, for some of you as well. While some blogs are about people just struggling through life, like the rest of us, some blogs are about families who seem so perfect. The pictures, the impossible menus, the photos of uncluttered floors and uncluttered kitchen counters, I find myself comparing my life to the glimpse of a life I see on my computer screen and I fall desperately short. And being the comparer that I am, I feel unworthy. Unworthy of what? I have no idea really. My children, my life, I really don't know, its a deep seated feeling that buries itself deep only to bubble up from time to time perhaps from years of insecurities.

The bottom life is that this is my life. Its not impossibly sweet and definitely not impossibly perfect! I can only imagine Trace and Ross' reactions if I churned out gourmet dinners along with tulle table clothes and floral bouquets on a regular basis. We won't even mention the younger children's reaction to the proposed menu. I freely admit that I could spend less time on my laptop and more time on my housework but perhaps the real key is more balance.

There will always be someone smarter than me, funnier than me, prettier than me, skinnier than me and some most of things I don't have to look very far to find! The lesson I work on and will probably forever work on is to accept who I am, who my family is, what my life is and change what needs to be changed but embrace the rest. The perfect people can live their own perfect lives. But something tells me that the "perfect people" aren't so perfect after all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

We Interrupt This Reguarly Schedule Post...

to bring you this late breaking news:

What is this, you ask? Here's a clue:

Jenna lost her first tooth this afternoon! You can see there's already a tooth coming through that was behind it.

Everyone has their own first lost tooth story. Mine is that I lost my first tooth eating an ice cream cone and swallowed it. How lame. Jenna's is full of excitement and drama -- Emma kicked her in the mouth and her tooth just fell out. What a great story to tell years from now! I'm sure it will get quite embellished, although its good enough to stand on its own.

So now, Jenna is excited to receive her very first visit from the Tooth Fairy.

She carried her tooth in a snack sized zip lock bag all afternoon and evening and even drew a picture for the tooth fairy. Julia suggested that the tooth fairy might write a note back. WHOA! Hold the phone! I asked Julia what the tooth fairy was expected to write back because the tooth fairy is awfully busy and didn't usually carry a pen on her while working.

Jenna putting the bag behind her pillow.

Snuggled in waiting for the tooth fairy's first visit. I hope she comes.

OK, that sounded really bad. It IS bad. She will come, pinkie promise because this is Jenna's very first tooth fairy visit. The 15th visit... well let's just say I can't make any promises.

Its been like True Bad Mommy Confessions around here lately so let me add another to the list: Sometimes the tooth fairy forgets to come visit. Now before you start booing and hissing at me stop and think about this fact: We've moved multiple times and I just keep forgetting to send in our change of address card. That's the official kid version. The truth is that sometimes the tooth fairy is out of dollars or she gets super tired, whatever the case, there have been times that the tooth fairy forgets to come 2-3 days in a row. You would think that my children would be upset by this and in fact, at first they were. But they soon learned that the longer it took for the winged creature with a dental obsession to come around, the guiltier she felt and in the end it was to their financial benefit. The normal $1 per tooth rate has been known to jump to $5 after a especially long delay. Good things come to those who wait.

But not to worry, the Tooth Fairy has been notified of Jenna's lost tooth. No disappointed little girls tomorrow. Not about tooth fairy money anyway. The rest is fair game.

Today's scheduled post about High School Musical 3 has been moved to tomorrow. That gives me more time to procrastinate think of more witty things to write.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Let me add your blog!

Now that I have my new blog look, you can see that I have TWO sidebars. But now that I've split it up the right side is looking a bit bare. You may have noticed, or not, that I don't very many blogs listed on my Blogs List and even though I read quite a few blogs, I wonder sometimes if people would mind if I put them on the public blog list.

{For the record I would LOVE for you to put me on your blog list if I'm not already there!}

So if you would like me to add you to my Blog List would you just leave me a comment giving me permission to add you?

And another thing:

When I started my blog a year ago I wasn't sure HOW to get people to read my blog. I ended up getting a lot of people through my Chinese adoptions lists. But some people don't have that resource. My weekends are usually pretty slow posting wise so I thought might be a good opportunity to highlight someone else's blog to help them get a little attention. If you would like me to highlight your blog either leave a comment or send me an email.
Edited on Sunday morning at 8:00:

Cynthia at Under the Misty Mountain emailed me with their blog's side button to add to my blog. I forgot all about that!!! I got one of those nifty little buttons with my blog redo! Its so cool! If you have a side button you would like me to add either 1) email me the link or photo or 2) tell me in your comment and I'll go to your blog and grab it myself!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Detective Mommy and the Case of the Missing Pirate Skirt

What is it with children and husbands thinking that mothers have some all knowing, all seeing power? "Mom, where's my basketball?" "Honey, where's my blue shirt?"

How in the world would I know? If I was psychic I'd be rich by now playing the lottery and I'd have the maid look for you. Shoot, half the time I can't even find my own car keys let alone Jenna's pink socks. Nevertheless it wasn't surprising when Julia told me first thing this morning that she couldn't find her pirate skirt and she wanted needed my assistance.

"Where's my pirate skirt? I can't find it!" She announced before 7:00 a.m., an act itself that should be banned. No one north of the Florida Keys should be looking for a pirate skirt before 7:00 am. But Julia is in the play Peter Pan at school and if you haven't guessed her part by now you should really get yourself a Starbucks coffee with an extra shot and wake your brain up. Tell 'em Denise sent you. They'll probably know who I am.

But back to the skirt.

The play is on Saturday so this week has been full of really long rehearsals, all of which are dress rehearsals and today was the day a professional photographer was taking cast photos. It seemed rather imperative that Julia be wearing a skirt.

"When and where was the last time you saw it?" I asked still somewhat asleep.

"Last night on the kitchen floor."

This statement snapped me out of my stupor. "I'm sorry, I thought I just heard you say it was on the kitchen floor."

"Yeah, I had to go to the bathroom in the powder room so I took it off and left it there."

All righty then. This explains so much. Obviously it was the logical thing to do.

After a short lecture covering proper placement of our costume accessories, we began to search for the skirt. We searched for the next 40 minutes looking in places you wouldn't normally think to look. But I had my suspects in mind and had to think on their level thus I was searching in the freezer, in the pantry. under the sofa. After all of that, no skirt was found.

Of course, the tears began to flow closely followed by sobs. She would get in trouble. She would be out of the play. She wouldn't be in the pictures. Her life as she knew it would be over.

After another lecture of taking proper care of our things, I softened and told her that one way or the other I promised to have a pirate costume to her by 3:10, when school got out.

That's when Detective Mommy was called in on The Case of the Missing Pirate Skirt.

I had 3 suspects in mind:

Suspect #1: Older brother Trace. Possible Motive: Has admitted in the past to hiding the girls objects to "teach them a lesson."

Suspect #2: Little baby sister Emma Possible motive: Already caught red handed with a pirate hook. She already has an established criminal past of assault with a deadly weapon (her finger nails) however theft is not her usual MO.

Suspect #3: Little brother Ryan Possible Motive: Has been known in the past to take and hide objects not belonging to him.

Suspect #1 was interrogated and ruled out. He claimed he didn't know where it was. To break him I told him that if I didn't find the skirt I would use the money I owed him for mowing the lawn to buy a new one. Instead of getting a confession I was bombarded with "why should I have to suffer because Julia can't take care of her things?"

On to the interrogation of Suspect #2:

On to Suspect #3:

I had reached a dead end. No confessions and no evidence to go on I could only do one thing: drive to the Halloween store and buy her a new costume, grumbling all the way. But what are you going to do? I got the costume to school and the tragedy was averted.

During the day I kept expecting the skirt to show up since I had already spent $40 on a nonrefundable costume but it never did. I was ready to file it as a Cold Case. And then Julia was getting ready for bed and she yelled to me "Mom, look what I found!" Tucked into her dresser drawer was:

The skirt. Case Closed. Detective Mommy's good. Julia's lucky to be alive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Letter to the Presidential Candidates

Dear Senators McCain and Obama:

With only 2 weeks until the presidential election I am still an undecided voter. I am a single mother of 6 children ranging in ages from 21 years to 15 months. I have watched the debates, both presidential and vice presidential, and all I heard was:

Blah, blah, Mom she's touching me, blah, blah, I'm thirsty, blah, blah, this is boring, blah.

It occurred to me today that I have the perfect litmus test for you both. My home is like a microcosm of the free, and sometimes not so free, world. I propose that each of you spend a day in my home and the person who handles their experience the best has my vote, and I expect the vote of many others. Let me tell you about a typical day in my home and how it relates to your capabilities of handling our nation.

I'll give you both a break and let you start your day after lunch when the 2 little ones are napping and the other 4 are at school. You start your internship on the computer goofing off doing administrative work (your time between your election and your inauguration)

You take the baby to the doctor while leaving the oldest son in charge of the 2 year old. (delegation) Upon arriving at the doctor's office you pay the $30 co-pay and discuss the payment plan in effect (making the children indentured servants) because the health insurance doesn't cover well child check ups and immunizations and the family currently owes $800. (Health care)

Return baby home and find all 6 children present. Find urgent matter that needs immediate attention on the computer. (Domestic crisis) Try to deal with urgent matter while baby fusses at your feet and 2 year old tells you he's thirsty. Yell at older boys to assist you. (delegation to cabinet members) Boys say they will help but disappear leaving small children behind (broken campaign promises) Eleven year old daughter is going to play practice. Her ride shows up and she can't find her pirate sword (military unpreparedness) You run laps through house searching for sword while 11 year old blames 5 year old because she "made her put it down." (bipartisan politics) Find sword and meet neighbor at the door. Neighbor seeks advice for dealing with her daughter's preteen attitude. (peace negotiations of warring countries)

Go back to urgent matter, baby is now on your lap wanting to play with all electronics within reach (white house interns) Five year old is whiny and demanding of attention; 2 year old is also trying to get your attention, urgent matter still needs your attention. Baby is now climbing you like a tree. (dealing with Washington lobbyists) Five year old takes toy from 2 year old and is sent to her room (criminal justice system) Realize that dinner needs to be fixed. Send older boys to help a neighbor (exportation of labor) Try to entertain and distract small children while heating dinner. Eat with children and try to discern what 2 year old, recently adopted Chinese boy is telling you (foreign relations)

Clean up kitchen while dealing with a broken garbage disposal (collapse of infrastructure), realize that both babies have dirty diapers. (bio hazardous environmental clean up) Older son needs money for gas. (energy crisis) Both boys leave and you are left alone with 3 children ages 5, 2 and 15 months. (Kennedy family) Uncle to the children arrives with his own children (hosting of foreign dignitary) Uncle and cousins leave. Find spider and kill it (capital punishment) Give children bathes, into pajamas and into bed (congressional recess)

Move a load of laundry from the washing machine to the dryer and find a quarter (money laundering) Check menu for the morning and decide not to make the sausage biscuits planned for tomorrow's breakfast (cutting out pork ) High school senior son needs $200 check for graduation expenses (financial bailout) You are relieved for the day.

While I sincerely welcome you both into my home to take over my duties for a day, I realize you are busy shaking hands and giving speeches and flying around on private jets so let me encourage you to send your vice presidential candidates in your place instead. Or your press secretary. Or that guy you hired to make signs in Topeka. I'm not picky-- really.


CC: Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin

My New Blog Design

As you can see I got a new blog design today! However, its still a work in progress so please bear with me as I try to get things rearranged. I have some really cranky kids I'm dealing with this afternoon and they babies aren't cooperating very well either.

I did want to point out at the top are links to a couple of new blogs that I started. One is for all of my Vietnam information and the other is for my book I am working on. Just bear in mind that I don't have back links on those blogs yet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask For...

...because you just might get it! The link to the mini-pilot for The Power of KC is here! I just watched it again and asked myself again why I'm torturing myself by letting you watch it. I just spent 2 minutes pointing out to Trace all the fat rolls and flaws. Like a good son, he told me he didn't see what I saw. Of course, he likes a roof over his head and home cooked food. I didn't raise a fool.

So, with MUCH hesitation, I give you The Power of KC but before you link over please, please, please, remember I didn't wear makeup on purpose that morning, although that outfit has been worn many times and the frizzy ponytail was a standard part of my look. And also remember that my left eye was all swollen and red-- but that doesn't explain the fat looking face on the right side.

So go ahead, enjoy, and while you're watching I'm throwing out all the chips and chocolate. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ryan Gets a Haircut

Yesterday, at long last, I finally took Ryan to get his hair cut. While we treated this occasion like his first hair cut, it was obvious he had had his haircut before. But it was a first for us with him so out came the camera. Come to think of it, the camera takes pictures of all kinds of things most people wouldn't take pictures of so I guess this was nothing unusual.

I took him to Sports Clips because my older boys love Sports Clips so maybe a tradition has started. Plus I didn't need an appointment because forgetting to make appointments is one of my few many faults. We showed up and signed him in and waited about 10 minutes before he was called back. When he went back he was followed by his entourage-- me, Jenna and Emma. I think by now most of you realize I usually travel with an entourage. That's how I roll.

{Note to self: Remove Alvin and the Chipmunk DVD from the van's DVD player immediately!}

Ryan sat in the chair, although unsure about what was going on. He wasn't sure he liked the cape but didn't up any protest. I was somewhat surprised since I had taken him to get a Halloween costume and he recoiled at the sight of a costume with a cape, even after I tried the cape on myself to show him how cool it was. Then again, maybe that's why he didn't want it in the first place. Really, nothing says "cool" like your mom wearing a size 2T cape in Target!

Ryan didn't like getting his head sprayed with water but sat still for the haircut.

Mom, if you take just one more picture!!!

Just a few finishing touches...

And then blow dry the loose hair on the back of his neck. He's not crying here just showing his obvious displeasure.

Suckers made everything better! He and Jenna outside afterward. See, he almost has a smile!

Friday, October 17, 2008

And the winners are...

Ok, the comments were a mess. Its my fault really because I posted that second post wondering where the comments were. So I ended up with comments in both places. I tried moving comments, etc and it was still a mess. So here's what I did for drawing #1. For each person who commented I assigned a number in order of WHEN they commented, on either post. Each person was submited once. (Sorry Issy!) There were 21 comments. I submitted the number to a site that picks randon numbers and this is what it came up with:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random number: 12
Timestamp: 2008-10-17 20:24:17 UTC

Number 12 comment was Kitty! Congratulations Kitty! Email me at and give me your address so I can send you your gift certificate!

On to the second drawing. Three people were listed as sending someone to my blog, or finding my blog through them. Trish, Carrie and Kristin. Each one had 1 person so it was a 3 way tie. While I would love to send each of them a gift certificate, I can't-- I know how incredibly stingy! So back to the number picker (wow, that sounds kind of like another type of picker... I've been around kids too much..) And the number is:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers: 1
Timestamp: 2008-10-17 20:47:22 UTC

So the winner of the second gift certificate is Trish! Congratulations Trish!

I just want to say from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!!!! You all have left me the sweetest, kindest comments! I only expected you tell me your favorite posts, not tell me how much you liked them and me. I am literally in tears right now. I have the absolute best readers in the world and I tell you that I feel so blessed to have you.

I hope to have Reader's Favorite Posts up next week-- along with a whole new blog look!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Where, oh Where, are the Comments?

At this moment, there are only 7 comments on my Giveaway post. I know that a $25 gift certificate doesn't go as far as it used to but hey! Twenty five dollars! I'm doing this giveaway for several reasons. One, I really, really want to know what you like. Sometimes I do a blog post and I wonder "did they like it?" "did they think this was really lame?" So this way I'll get a sense of what interests you. Two, I want to put a section on the side titled "Reader's Favorite Posts" and I have to know what your favorites are! And finally, three, i just love to give things away and when you leave comments you are usually so sweet that I want to say Thank You!

So I've spent a couple of days mulling this over. Why has hardly anyone commented? I know for a fact that over 120 per day have viewed my blog since the announcement yet only 7 people have commented. After much thought and review I have finally reached a conclusion:

The only logical explanation I can come up with is that over 100 people per day are tied to a chair and forced to view my blog as some kind of punishment.

Back in August when I ran my Vietnam series I had my blog viewed multiple times by the National Security Agency. At the time I presumed it was because I flung around the words "US Embassy" several times. Now I realize the truth: The National Security Agency was studying my blog trying to determine how best to use it as a torture device for suspected terrorists. Glad to be of service to my country, but the least they could do is pay me royalties or something.

So to all you tortured souls forced to read my drivel, I salute you! But you too can enter the giveaway. Those of you in bondage to my blog can write a comment about your least favorite post. What was like fingernails on a chalk board to you? Just ask your tormentor to loosen those ropes just a bit so you can reach the keyboard.

In all seriousness, I think the actual truth is that maybe you are intimidated by this task. Perhaps you feel you must pour over post after post looking for the "right" one. But don't make it so hard! When you think of my blog what post comes to mind? You don't even have to know the title, just say what it was about and I'll figure it out.

Now go leave those comments!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

For the Love of a Good Book

Sorry I've been a bit absent; I got lost in a good book.

I'm a book worm. I always have been. I love to read and will devour a book in no time. I just don't read books like I used to though. For one thing I usually don't have enough time to sit down and read a book and when I do read a book, I become a bit obsessed with it. I can't put it down. I have been known to read while cooking dinner, giving kids bathes, etc. One hand free to do the job that needs to be done and my book in the other hand.

Darrell liked to read too, although our reading lists were vastly different. While he was reading Solzhenitsyn I was reading Harry Potter. Yeah, you read that right. Harry Potter.

Ross brought home a Harry Potter book from school when he was in grade school and loved it, this from a boy who hated to read. Of course, it made me curious as to what would keep his attention. I read it and was hooked. Lucky for me there were several books in the series out at the time. Ross started reading the second one while I flew through the first. Ross was a slower reader and not as interested so I admit that I literally took the book my son was reading to read it myself. I assured him he would have it back in a few days. And he did. Here most mothers are trying to get their children to read and I'm stealing the books right out of their hands. One of my prouder mommy moments.

I wasn't a die hard Harry Potter fan. I can't tell you minute details about the books, in fact their names all run together, but I love a good story and HP is a good story for sure. When the very last Harry Potter book came out I had pre-reserved a copy at Barnes and Noble, but hadn't paid for it. I planned on going into the store to pick it up a couple of days after its release.

Trace used to work in a movie theater when we lived in Little Rock and some of his favorite nights were when cult movies came out, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc. He loved it because on opening night die hard fans dressed in costume would be lined up outside waiting to get in. He found this very amusing. The night of the big HP release Trace and Ross were talking about going by Barnes and Noble to look at the costumes and get a good laugh. Before I knew it Trace and I had decided to go get my copy when it was released at midnight. Ross, who was totally disgusted by it all stayed behind to watch the younger, sleeping children.

We arrived at the book store a little after 11:00. I had expected a crowd but this was like Black Friday morning Christmas shopping at Best Buy (another good story for another day). We made our way inside and there were lines everywhere in all directions. There was no telling which line was shortest, they wound all around the store; so we just stopped at the nearest one. And just stood there taking it all in.

It was obvious from the start that I was under dressed. About 75% of the people in the store were in some type of Harry Potter costume, even the employees. After a bit we realized that there were 4 lines representing the 4 houses of Hogwarts Academy. We were in the Slytherin line. As we waited for what seemed like an eternity I wondered how one determined what house they belonged to? In the book a magical hat did the sorting but how did this happen in real life? It seemed to me that most people would pick Harry's house, yet the lines all seemed equally long. But Slytherin? It was the house of evil people. Who would purposely pick that, I wondered as I stood next to a 30 something woman in full Slytherin attire. Why do I always pick the wrong line?

After the LONGEST time someone blew a horn or something and the whole store cheered. Trace confirmed it was midnight. OK! Let's get this show on the road! Ten minutes later we hadn't moved one inch and although it was hard to tell, I would guess we were about 347th in ONE line. This was going to take awhile.

"Mom, this is taking forever! Let's just go!" Trace had more than used up his time to get his jollys and he was done.

I wasn't quite ready to give it up. "Look, I've stood here for over an hour, I'm not leaving. I'm getting my book."

"Mom, let's just go to the 24 hour Walmart and get it there!"

"I'm not losing my place in line!" That was about the stupidest thing I could have said. I was the next to last person in our queue. "What if Walmart doesn't even have it?"

"Fine, just give me the keys and I'll go and see if they have it. You can stay here with your new Slytherin friends." I handed the keys off with mock disgust. Where was his sense of adventure? Didn't he know that I would use the story over 2 years later in a blog post? We needed material baby!

I spent the next half an hour listening to some very odd conversations, but then I was in the Slytherin line. These people really needed to get a life! I had moved about 4 feet when I saw Trace come in the store. Now Trace is pretty tall, 6'2'' so he stood out anyway, but he practically had the entire store's attention. In his hand, which was straight over his head, was a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. You could practically see the people salivating. It was like watching a room full of vampires observing a unit of human blood being brought in the room.

Trace was about 20 feet away from me and he started calling out "I got it Mom!" Talk about stating the obvious. "Let's go!"

The people around me started asking questions "Where did he get that?" By this time Trace had reached me. He told us that Walmart had a huge pallet of books and he just walked up to it and took one.

Well, so much for the Barnes and Noble Harry Potter experience.

If there was any question to my sanity, I suppose its been settled.

My newest book kept me up until 2:30 this morning. I couldn't put it down. What could this new addiction be? Twilight. I know, I'm such a follower but its really a good read. I started it last night and I'm over halfway through it. There's 3 more books to read so who knows when you'll hear from me again.

Talk amongst yourselves while I'm gone.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I've Been Tagged -- Twice!

On Sunday I was tagged by Donna at Lena and Macey and I hadn't had a chance to post my answers yet because I was busy whining on Sunday night and announcing my giveaway on Monday. Then on Monday night Teresa at Continuing the Journey tagged me too. Thank goodness its the same Tag game!!! But as I commented on Donna's blog Sunday evening, I was very excited to be tagged and I'm such a dork that I have always wanted to be tagged, I just hadn't ever been tagged yet!

So I've taken care of rule #1. On to Rule #2.

I briefly wondered if since I was tagged twice if I had to post double the answers but I decided there was no since punishing anyone with having to read 14 esoteric things about myself. I'll just make you suffer through 7.

In no particular order of importance:

1) I got out of my second semester of my senior year in high school to go to college. I had earned all my credits and was bored with high school so I went to a local community college that semester. As I was coming up with these random things on Sunday I told this one to Julia and she asked me in all sincerity. "Mommy, did you use to be smart?"

Amazingly enough the child is still alive with no visible bruises nor psychological trauma.

2) When I was in high school I was in the Miss Blue Springs pageant 2 years in a row. You had to have a sponsor to enter and I was sponsored by the Blue Springs Missouri Historical Society, so that alone tells you that I wasn't picked because of my striking looks. And for the record they picked me, I didn't ask them. I had no delusions of winning. I was more like Miss Congeniality, although I wasn't that either. I could have been Miss Genealogy since it was the historical society... oh, never mind.

No, I didn't win either time nor did I make any type of runner up. I know your next question: What was my talent? I did dramatic readings and I wasn't that bad. My attire was a different matter. The first year I wore this god awful white ruffled dress with giant lilacs all over it. (Which was re purposed the next year as my costume when I played Beauty in Beauty and the Beast.) The second year was better, I wore a lace covered yellow dress with a lace sleeveless jacket. Ah, the fashions in the early 80's....

3) I am unable to smell. I don't ever remember being able to smell. I have no idea why I can't. I really don't remember making a big deal of it and I rarely tell anyone that I can't. Strangely enough when I reached the age of 3o I began to have moments when I could smell, sometimes for as little as 5 seconds and once for a couple of minutes. Its only happened less than 10 times and the first time it happened I was blown away by it. It was completely overwhelming and I couldn't imagine smelling all the time!

I do wish I could smell though. Most people think I'm lucky: I can't smell a poopy diaper, but it makes me paranoid because I can't. If I could only smell one thing in my entire life it would be to smell on of my babies head's after a bath. I have heard it is one of the sweetest smells in the world.

I think this might actually be considered a disability. Do you think I can get a handicap license plate for my car?

4) I have an informal "Bucket List." Darrell and I started our lists of things we wanted to do in our lifetime long before the movie. One thing on my list is that I want to be in a parade.

Even I am a stumped by this one. I don't like parades. I don't watch them on tv or go to see them in person. But yet, I want to be in one. What will I do in this parade? Good question, seeing that I don't really have any parade worthy talents! We'll work out the details later.

5) I have attended 4 colleges and I still don't have a degree in anything. My college education has spanned about 20 years.

6)Kind of a tack on to #5-- I used to want to go to medical school. When I worked in a lab I saw some idiot doctors and I thought to myself "I'm smarter then they are!" I was looking into it when I started dating Darrell but he convinced me not to go because I would have missed so much of the boys' lives. I struggled with this "loss" for a good 10 years afterward. It is one of my biggest regrets, not necessarily that I didn't go when I was dating Darrell but that I didn't go to college straight out of high school. I loved science and I'm positive I would have switched my desired biology major to pre-med.

But then I wouldn't be writing this blog right now.

7) Hmmm, so many trivial tidbits to chose from... but which one? I have had many different, varying jobs. They were/are: fast food worker (Wendy's for 4 years); cashier and jewelry counter person at the now defunct store Venture; Histologist; part time seamstress; order taker at a floral shop; draftsman for a kitchen designer; teacher's aide at a Pre-K class; kitchen and bath designer; writer. Well, I'm working at the writer part anyway.

So now, who to tag?

1) Margaret at Journey to Baby Miracle.

2) Kathy at Our Journey to Lindsey

3) Penny at Oh the Places You'll Go

4) Cynthia at Under the Misty Mountain

5) Trish at Hannah, Taylor & Hailey

6) Issy at Swimming on Dry Land

7) Kristy at Franceskas Journey Home

I can't wait to read their answers!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Giveaway!!!

I am so excited to announce my newest Giveway! It officially starts at 12:00 noon CDT Monday afternoon and ends Friday afternoon, October 18, at 3:00 pm, CDT.

I'm in the process of re-doing the look of my blog and one thing I would like to add to the sidebar is a list of Reader's Favorite Posts. Of course, I can't list what your favorite posts are unless you, my dear readers, let me know what your favorite posts actually are! Maybe its something funny like my fairly recent post, Intervention, or maybe it's on the more serious side, like Goodbye Lazy Summer Days. I'm planning to list 3-5 posts on the list so here's my request of you: Leave me a comment on this post telling me at least one post that you have enjoyed. Every person who leaves me a comment telling me at least one favorite post is eligible for a drawing to win:

A $25 gift certificate to one of 4 restaraunts: On The Border, Chili's, Macaroni Grill or Magginao's! How easy is that? And now you know why I reprinted some of those really old posts-- no I wasn't just being lazy!

But wait! There's a chance to win again! You could actually win BOTH give ways! What do you have to do to win the second? Spread the word to all your cyber friends about my blog and convince them to leave a comment: first telling me a favorite post (you can tell them which one to say) and second that they found me through YOU. The person who has the most people tell me that you sent them here wins this:

Another $25 gift certificate to one of the four restaurants! If you read this blog already because someone told you about it you might want to help your friend and include that information in your comment. But only if you're nice, which would be everyone who reads this blog. ;>)

So start leaving those comments! I know there's a whole bunch of lurkers out there so this is your chance to have your voice heard!

{Do you think I used enough exclamation points in this post?}

Added Monday at 1:15, just one hour after this posted: I usually get all chitty chatty in the comment section and I can't do that and after only 3 comments its driving me crazy!!!! I may have to create a seperate post to address the comments!!!

{Again with the exclamation points!}

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Unpardonable Sin

Last week Julia's middle school invited parents to come eat lunch with them. There were 3 days parents could go: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It was decided that I would go on Thursday. Trace doesn't have any day classes on Thursday so he could watch the babies enabling me to go alone. Last Thursday morning before Julia left for school I asked her what time I was supposed to go. She couldn't remember and I couldn't find the sheet that told me. I remembered it being 12:15 but neither of us was sure. I told her that I would call the office to verify the time. We discussed what food she wanted me to bring. And then she got her lunch box.

"What are you doing?" I asked. "I'm bringing you you're lunch, remember?"

"I'm bringing this so if I have to wait for you then I won't look stupid just sitting there with no food. I can eat the crackers in my lunch box."

"Jewelz, I'll be there on time. I promise."

"Yeah, I know Mom, but I'm going to bring it anyway."


For the record, not only was I on time but I was 10 minutes early. Our lunch went well and I got to meet a few of her friends.

Last week was P week for Jenna. Her teacher sent a note to send in a mini pumpkin because they were going to do a project with them. She also asked for parents to send in extras in case someone forgot theirs. I looked for them at Price Chopper but didn't see them anywhere. I meant to make it to Walmart but forgot to go. (I'm trying not to go to any shopping places unless I absolutely need to to help stop unnecessary purchases.) On Thursday Jenna's teacher emailed pictures of the kids putting their mini pumpkins in water to see if they sank or floated.

Thankfully there was a picture of a smiling Jenna and a floating pumpkin. Some other mother came through for me when I failed.

And then last Friday I committed the unpardonable sin: I sent Jenna to school in a cute little dress -- on pajama day.

Friday was Ryan's Cleft Clinic day and we needed to be in downtown Kansas City by 8:00 a.m.. I had to take Emma's to my mother's house by 7:00 which meant that I left home by 6:50. The night before I stayed up late laying out clothes, making muffins for the children to eat for breakfast since I wouldn't be there in the morning to cook their breakfast. Julia and Ross are usually up around 7:00 and Jenna gets up around 8:00 but everyone had to be up about 6:40 so I could make sure they were really up and getting dressed. When I kissed Jenna goodbye she was wearing her darling Gymboree dress that she loves, the one we got before school started and has a identical version in a smaller size in Emma's closet so they can be "twins."

I wish I could say that I realized this blunder by 10:00 but it wasn't until about 11:30. Ryan and I were still at the Cleft Clinic and I realized my error when I checked my Blackberry and saw an email from Jenna's teacher with attached pictures of the children in their pajamas. My heart sank and I nearly burst into tears. I couldn't bring myself to look at the pictures. I couldn't bear the thought of seeing my sweet little girl's heart broken face among all the smiling, pajama clad children. If I didn't look then there was hope that someone had realized my error after I left and fixed it.

I immediately began to come up with a million excuses as to how and why I forgot but I stopped myself instantly. I could make excuses all day but the fact remained. I broke my baby's heart.

Ross' last home football game is on Halloween night. The last home game is always Senior Night when they recognize the seniors and their parents at half time. I figured that Halloween with the small children was still doable. Halftime would be after 8:00 and it gets dark by 7:00 here. We could attend our cul-de-sac block party/chili dinner, get some Trick-or-Treating in and still make it to Ross' game on time. But Saturday morning I got an email from one of the mothers announcing that Senior Recognition was changed to before the game, at 6:30. I was doomed.

Last year Jenna didn't get to Trick-or-Treat because we were stuck in Vietnam. This will be Emma and Ryan's first Halloween. I was excited to see Ryan's reaction to it all. To not go Trick-or-Treating will devastate Jenna. But Ross is a senior and will never play football again. How would Ross feel if he was the only player without a parent?

Some days its hard being a mom.

By the time Julia came home from school last Friday I had worked myself up in to quite a state. As soon as she walked in the door I nearly attacked her.

"What did Jenna have on when she went to school this morning???"

"Her Hannah Montana pajamas"

My heart felt lighter than it had since lunch time. "Then she remembered after I left?"

"No, I was taking her to the neighbor's house when Carter's mom saw her and reminded her it was Pajama Day. I ran back in and got her pajamas for her and she changed at Lori's house."

Saved again by another mother.

I then went an opened the photos attached to the email Jenna's teacher sent.

And there was a beaming Jenna in the back middle of her class.

I would like to think that from this point forward I will never disappoint nor let down one of my children again, but I know that is impossible. I am far from perfect, so imperfect some days I don't feel worthy to call these beautiful children mine. I can only strive to do my best, clean up the mess when I do screw up and thank the mother's that save me when I fail.

Thank you Courtney.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

I love the show Jon and Kate Plus Eight. I actually discovered it when Emma was at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital last November. There were very little choices for television viewing if you didn't want to watch cartoons but one of the channels was TLC. Since it was Thanksgiving week they were showing marathons of shows everyday, one day was Miami Ink (I had never seen that before either), one day was Big People/Little World, etc. But Jon and Kate Plus Eight really caught my attention. Finally a family that was a bit crazier than mine! (For those of you who might not know about this show it's about a family with 7 year old twins and 4 year old sextuplets.)

Darrell was the "let's go out and chop down a Christmas tree" member of our family. Our butts would be firmly planted somewhere and he would say "Lets go do something." and we did, almost all the time. So when he died we kind of lost that. Sometimes it was just so much effort for me to do things so I just didn't do it. But then I saw an episode of Jon and Kate Plus Eight and Kate said she wanted her kids to experience life even though there were so many of them. She wanted them to create memories and I realized my kids lives were slipping by because of my laziness.

So this weekend, for the first time since we were in Little Rock (four years ago) we went to a pumpkin patch. It had been awhile since I had my Big Boy Camera out and wanted to use it to take photos of the kids in the pumpkin fields. What a great photo op! I thought. Trace had to work but I told Ross that he WAS coming, executive order. No getting out of this one! Grumbling was involved, especially when I dictated his clothing choices. My children's outfits had to coordinate!

Apparently pumpkin patches are different here. Back in Little Rock we went to an actual field full of pumpkins, walked around and picked our pumpkins. It was a lot of fun and the kids loved it. But here, they have pumpkins laying around on a gravel parking lot in a fenced area. You could pay $5 per person to go do some jumping things and other activities but by the time the my sister-in-law Janne' and her kids, and my family got there it was after 5 pm and they closed at 6. We decided to just get pumpkins.

Needless to say, I didn't get my pumpkin field photos but I made due with what I had and they didn't turn out half bad.

Jenna and Julia when we first arrived.

All my children (except Trace) We had the hardest time getting Ryan to look at the camera, much less smile. Starting with the tallest and going clockwise: Ross, Jenna, Ryan, Julia and Emma.

Photo with me! Yes, Emma is missing a shoe. We lost it somewhere, I just hope it is in the car somewhere because we looked all over that parking lot!

Julia picking up a pumpkin and being her dramatic self.

They had wagons for the kids to pull around and put their pumpkins in. Ryan had the most fun just pulling his little wagon around.

Jenna found her pumpkin pretty quickly.

"Are we done yet???" We had been there about 10 minutes at this point. Ross is holding Emma and trying to keep his teen attitude in check.

My nephew Adam. His father, Rick, and my parents paid the money to go to the other part so we didn't see much of them.

My nephew Dillon. Quite a character this one is! He's obviously exerting much effort pushing his very heavy pumpkin in the wheel barrow.

My brother Kevin and SIL Janne's' kids: Caitlin, Dillon and Zach.

Ryan now has a pumpkin to pull around.

There was bin full of little miniature pumpkins. Ryan's checking them out.

Emma and Ryan on a hay bale in front of a wagon.

Emma loves her little pumpkin and carried it around the parking lot pumpkin patch.

Ryan at the very end of out outing. He finally got relaxed just as we were about to head to the car. And yes, he needs a hair cut!