Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Crafts for Christmas

Christmas is less than three months away. Since we have only one income around here and I like to plan ahead and I really like to make things, I have already started brainstorming and crafting some Christmas gifts. I wanted to share them in hopes of inspiring some of you! I might be spoiling the surprise for some of the parents of our kids' friends and cousins, but I know the kids don't read my blog and I'm not worried about spoiling their surprise.

First up is an odd sort of gift. I was at a local store called Leftovers and found a bin of trophy pieces. I rifled through them and picked out parts that I could piece back together with my glue gun and give some of our friends a trophy for Christmas. Katie helped me with the project. There's a soccer player for some of our soccer-playing friends (and Jackson), baseballs for baseball-playing friends, and two dancers for Katie and her friend Sammi (it was as close as I could get to a gymnast). Since we have a no-gifts policy with our neighbors, I'll probably just give their trophies as a regular old Happy (what Mom used to call a gift for no good reason). But there are some others that will be Christmas gifts for family, and hopefully it'll make them laugh.

Second is another gift made from recycled parts. This is a memory game that I made for our nephew, Adam. I made it out of milk jug lids and family photos. I sized the photos on my computer, printed them on sticker paper, and then punched them out with a circle punch and put them on the lids. Adam can turn them face down (literally) and play a memory game with them, or maybe just play a sorting and matching game. I am not sure I'll give the game to him in that organza bag. I might sew up something cuter for him to use. I wish I had more photos of his family on his mom's side so I could make more pieces for the game.

Third is a set of story dice I made for Katie. I saw this idea in a bunch of different places: here and here and here and my favorite here. I stamped pictures on small wooden blocks, and then cut out a photo of our family members and stuck it to a side of each block. The idea is that Katie can roll the dice, and then she has to write a story using those images. I'll include pads of paper in the gift set and also a laminated glossary of the images with the words underneath them so she can spell it correctly.

Lastly, I made something for me and it isn't for Christmas. It's just because I like it. I got these little Pionite laminate samples at Leftovers and decided to make a sort of photo album key chain with them. I printed photos on sticker paper and punched them with a square punch, then put them on the samples. I covered them with packing tape to protect them, then put them on a book ring (the kind you buy at an office supply store).

The ring is hooked onto my diaper bag, where I can show people photos of our family. I picked photos that inspire me too, and it helps brighten my day when I see the photos hanging there. And since it's durable, Jackson and Katie can play with the ring when they are bored.

And before you go asking me, "Oh my gosh, where do you find the time to make crafts like this?" let me explain. Three out of those four projects were made on a Friday night at my Stampin' Up consultant's house. I had printed the sticker photos ahead of time (during Jackson's naptime) and then punched, stamped and assembled them at her house. Trust me... I don't sit around on a daily basis making crafts while the kids are behaving like angels. Uh, no. I squeeze in time for this kind of craftiness during naptime, after the kids are in bed, or when I can get a free block of time while Dan is on kid duty.

I hope you're inspired. Now please share some of your holiday crafting ideas with me!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One Year In

A year ago today, I received my diagnosis of lupus. It was a pretty scary time for me, not knowing what to expect and wondering if my symptoms would get worse. But now, one year in to this diagnosis, there is great news to celebrate.

First of all, my symptoms haven't progressed. I haven't had to take steroids and I haven't had any organ involvement. That is a reason to celebrate.

And so is the second thing: I feel pretty darn good. Not 100% and not good ALL the time, but I feel considerably better than I did a year ago at this time. I'm still achy some days and it is annoying that I have an old lady pill box when I'm hardly even middle aged yet. But when I look back at where I was, I know there is NO comparison. I'm a different person today than I was a year ago.

The third thing is that I have reorganized my life somewhat in the last year. I haven't totally pared things down as much as I would like (I AM an overachiever, in case you didn't know that already), but I have tried to put more pleasure in my life and lessened the "have-to" duties a bit. I'm trying to recognize when I'm pushing myself too hard and I'm learning to say no.

Fourth? I've had a pretty freaking amazing year in so many ways. I went to Jamaica with The Love of My Life and some of our best friends.

I lost 20 pounds (and I'm still working on more).

I went skydiving. And I felt so alive!

I did silly things with my kids.

I went to my family reunion and laughed with my crazy relatives.

I found a new passion.

I rode thrill rides.

I laughed a lot.

I fell more deeply in love.

I spent a week caring for Grandmother and truly bonding with her before she died.

I trained for and completed a half marathon.

I got baptized.

And I learned that the only limits I have are the ones I put on myself. Lupus hasn't limited me. It might change my day by making me feel like crud, but I can limit the impact it has on me by choosing to focus on something else. And that's what I plan to keep doing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two and a Half Freeze Frame

Jackson turned two and a half today. We celebrated by singing "Happy (Half) Birthday To You" at dinner and eating chocolate cupcakes.

I told Jackson yesterday that today was his half birthday. When he woke this morning, the first thing he said to me was, "It's my bir-day!" As the day wore on, he told a few people it was his birthday and I had to clarify and say it was his half birthday. Then he would follow up, saying, "I'm a big boy!"

Yes, you are a big boy, Jackson! Let's look at your life in a nutshell right now. Look at your growth chart and how much taller you've grown!

And you've learned so much in your two and a half years. You know that "uncle" is the safe word to make us stop tickling you. You speak in complete and complex sentences. Just today, you told me, "Remember when we went to the park? I wike the park."

You make us laugh with your little jokes and funny pronunciations. Your Js are prounounced like Gs, so you say your name "Ga-kin." Your Fs are Ps, so words like "food" sound like "pood." Blends like "tr" come out "cr," so "trash truck" sounds like "crash cruck."

You LOVE to say no to me, and you also love to repeat the word "Mommy" over and over.

You love taking baths and beg me to give you a bath every night, although the answer is usually no because that's Daddy's job. But you ask so nicely, "Mommy, can you take me a bath?" that I'm tempted to give in to your request. When I DO give you a bath, I watch you entertain yourself for a pretty long time with empty bottles and buckets. You are fascinated by the way water moves from one container to another, and will fill a bottle up and pour it out over and over again.

You say your best friends are "Miam and Beppy" (Liam and Bethany). Sometimes you say Katie is your best friend too. You love playing with trains, tiny bouncy balls, and cars. You love to color. You love to throw baseballs and your new thrill is asking Daddy to play wiffle ball with you. You love Dinosaur Train on TV. And you really really love to read. Go, Dog, Go is always a favorite, and today's book of choice is Llama Llama Mad at Mama. But when you throw a book at me, the Uh-Oh song starts and the books are put away. And that REALLY makes you mad.

You're testing your limits hourly, and I'm trying to do a better job of showing you boundaries this second time around (Katie being the first). I'm no expert, but I think I've found my groove a little faster this second time. Of course, I didn't plan on having to bungee chairs to tables and use the burglar chain on the front door THIS early. But we're having lots of fun in our house because of you, Jackson.

You ARE a big boy, and have taken up so much BIG space in our hearts. Now if you could just learn to potty and quit the paci...

My Weekend in Photos

Friday night was the homecoming parade for our high school. Katie and her Daisy troop walked in the parade and pelted the crowd with threw candy to the crowd.

Saturday morning was my weigh in and then a trip to Goodwill to buy these books for a project I want to make with Katie. While I was gone, Dan shampooed ALL of our carpets. Woo hoo! The house was in disarray for most of the day while we waited for the carpets to dry.

While Jackson napped, Katie went to open gym at her gymnastics school. While she played around, I read Parenting with Love and Logic (thanks for the reminder to reread it again, Gina!) and took COPIOUS notes.

Later, Jackson tried on costumes to see what might fit for Halloween.

Saturday night, we went out to dinner with the kids because Katie got a blackout on her Cycle Break Bingo (and filled up her marble jar).

On the way to dinner, Katie lost her second tooth!

After dinner, we took the kids to Target to poke around. I found these paper bags (white and RED!) for another project I want to make.

Sunday morning was church. More copious notes.

After church, we went to Grandma and Poppy's house for lunch and Jackson's nap. While he napped, Grandma and I worked on making an infinity dress. We didn't quite understand the online directions, so we made a sample one first.

Then we went to the fabric store and came home to make the final version. Here's how it ended up looking on me. The top row shows front views and the bottom row shows back views of the same style.

It was a busy weekend, but also a great one because we got to clean AND spend time with the kids AND shop AND make something creative.

Today is Monday, the start of a new week. Jackson had soccer class (Lord help me!) this morning. Katie is starting another round of Cycle Break Bingo and has already marked three things off her game board. I also gave her a little present this morning: I let her have the Cabbage Patch Doll from my childhood. All of a sudden, my little tomboy is dressing and fawning over a baby doll. Sweet! Here's hoping for a good week!

Macro Monday

Took this at Grant's Farm last month. Can you see the butterfly's proboscis unfolded so he can suck the nectar from the flower?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Love from Gina

My friend Gina gave me a blog award a few days ago, but I've been avoiding accepting the award because I am trying to brainstorm SEVEN things you might not know about me.

Ha. SEVEN?! Don't y'all already know everything? 

Before we get into all that, I must get the fine print out of the way. Here are the rules: 
1. Thank the person who gave this to you!
2. Copy the logo and place it in your blog!
3. Link the person who nominated you!
4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them!

So, thank you Gina for my Kreativ Blogger award.

Here are my seven things:
1. I used to work overnights as a TV news producer from 10pm until 7am. Then I came home and tried to sleep from 8am to 5pm. This was extremely difficult for me. In order to fall asleep, I would write The Lord's Prayer in cursive in my head. And then I would sing Jewel's song "Hands" to myself. And then I would type sentences on a mental keyboard and practice typing. Sometimes I still employ these tricks to sleep, although it's MUCH easier to sleep now because I have little kids in the house who wear me out all day.
2. I have a pair of Billy Bob Teeth that I love to wear. Dan hates them, so I don't bring them out often. And the last time I did, it made Katie cry. Guess I'll have to wait a while to try them again.
3. My favorite magazine is Family Fun. My sister gave me a gift subscription when Katie was born, and I thought it wouldn't appeal much to me. WRONG. I love it. When it arrives in the mail, I read it from cover to cover almost immediately.
4. Every single day, my afternoon snack is a Fiber One bar and a 10 calorie Vitamin Water. I'm addicted to it. I love it almost as much as Coke, although nothing compares with a fully-leaded Coke as it burns down my throat first thing in the morning. I try to limit that as much as I can, but indulge once in a while.
5. Sometimes I turn up the radio really loudly to drown out Jackson's temper tantrums in the car. I feel awful for that. My new trick lately is to pull over when he starts throwing a fit and kicking the back of my seat. I stop the car, get out, and just stand outside in the silence until he calms down. It usually throws him for a loop and he stops pretty quickly.
6. I am really starting to hate my handwriting. It actually hurts to write more than a few sentences anymore. I think that's because of my lupus and also because I just don't write as much because I prefer to type instead. I am bummed that my handwriting is so awful, because I really do enjoy sending handwritten cards to people. I have a reminder on my Outlook calendar every month to sit down and send cards to certain people. I LOVE getting mail, so I try to brighten other people's days by sending it to them.
7. I have no idea exactly WHAT is a Kreativ Blogger. (And Googling it didn't help answer my questions.) And why is it spelled with a K? And not an E at the end? I have a silly pet peeve: deliberate misspellings really annoy me. I know that's because I'm anal retentive and all. But still.

DUDE. That was so boring, wasn't it? Yikes.

Now here are the seven blogs I am nominating as Kreativ Bloggers. The first link is still actively blogging, but the last six are friends who haven't posted in a while. I'm hoping this will give them a swift kick in the tush and get them back online again! 
Juggling Our Way Through Life
AbFab Geek
The Mind of L4H
Catrina's Thoughts from the Fire
Are You There God, It's Me Brina
Where the Wild Things Are

Postcards We've Received

We are having fun checking our mailbox each day after I posted a request for postcards here. So far, we've received postcards from Marietta GA, Jacksonville FL, Houston TX, Bangkok Thailand, Waukesha WI, and Arkansas.

Katie has learned a lot about geography. When we get a postcard in the mail, she finds the city on the map in our craft room. Then she measures how many wooden blocks it takes to get from our city to that city and then enters that information into a special notebook.

It's a fun project and I'm so thankful to our friends and family who have sent us a postcard. If you want to join in the project with us, leave a comment and I'll send you our mailing address.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


  • I slept in about 30 minutes more than normal.
  • I started my day going back to bed so I could snuggle with Katie.
  • I made a promise to Katie that I would count to ten and take a deep breath whenever I feel like yelling. Hopefully it will help me avoid yelling and the guilt that comes along with it.
  • I got to workout while the kids played - and didn't fight even once.
  • I made my kids laugh.
  • I let Katie watch Jackson while I went upstairs to shower quickly. They sat together and read books. Wow.
  • I took the kids to a concert at the library and actually enjoyed it because they had so much fun.
  • I let my friend make me and the kids lunch and we sat there and talked while the kids entertained themselves. So nice.
  • I read the Bible with Katie for at least 20 minutes, then finished her chapter book. She's trying to complete her Cycle Break Bingo game by Saturday so she can get six more marbles for her jar. (This Cycle Break Bingo game has been a lifesaver for us so far on this school break. Thanks, Carrie!)
  • I spent a LOT of time cuddling with my kids today. And I LOVED it.
  • I invited Katie's friend over to play even when their Girl Scout activity was postponed. Katie was in a hyper frenzy from the excitement of having her over.
  • I turned Taylor Swift up LOUD and sang along with the girls when we drove Katie's friend home.
  • I mostly ignored my To Do List today. And the world is still spinning. Imagine that.
  • I sat on the couch and cuddled with The Love of My Life while we laughed at The Office on television.
  • I squeezed in one blog post just now.
It was a good day. It reminds me of this poem called "What Did I Do Today?" by an unknown author.
Today I left some dishes dirty,
The bed got made around 3:30.
The diapers soaked a little longer,
The odor grew a little stronger.
The crumbs I spilled the day before
Are staring at me from the floor.
The fingerprints there on the wall
Will likely be there still next fall.
The dirty streaks on windowpanes
Will still be there next time it rains.
Shame on you, you sit and say,
Just what did you do today?
I held a baby till he slept,
I held a toddler while he wept.
I played a game of hide and seek,
I squeezed a toy so it would squeak.
I pulled a wagon, sang a song,
Taught a child right from wrong.
What did I do this whole day through?
Not much that shows, I guess that's true.
Unless you think that what I've done,
Might be important to someone
With deep brown eyes and soft brown hair,
If that is true... I've done my share.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lambchop III

Saturday was our annual camping adventure. We used to go on an adults-only float trip every year called Porkchop, until most of us started having kids and couldn't get sitters for an entire weekend away. So three years ago, we decided to have a "Lambchop" camping trip with our kids.

We found a campground about an hour away and everyone meets there for a night or two of camping. The first year, Jackson was just six months old and too young to camp. So we sent him home with Grandma and got to have a night of camping with Katie. Last year, we went to the campsite to play for a few hours before heading home because a big storm was rolling in. This year, the plan was for Dan and Katie to camp overnight and Jackson and I would head home at bedtime. But the rain prevailed again and cut our trip a tiny bit short.

We arrived in the late morning and let the kids play at the playground right across from our campsites. We also got to play some basketball and run through the trees. We had lunch, then those of us with little kids (who are still napping) took up residence at our tents for naptime. Jackson spent an hour banging around in the Pack & Play inside our tent, and kept calling out, "Daaaaddy! Open that door!" He never fell asleep, so I gave up and met everyone down at the river where the rest of our group was swimming and playing.

It was kind of cold for swimming, but the kids had fun splashing and playing in the rocks.

I love this picture of our nephew Adam playing with a bucket.

We hung out the river for a while, until the rain moved in and forced us back to our tents. At this point, I decided running around after a wet 2-year-old was not my idea of fun, so I loaded Jackson in the car and we drove back home. He slept most of the way, since he never got a nap. It was nice driving in a quiet car for once.

Dan and Katie stayed, and got soaked by the rain all night long. Dan said he didn't sleep one wink: the tent leaked on him, and the air mattress deflated soon after they went to bed. They came home Sunday morning, wet and dirty. The tent is now set up on our driveway in hopes of drying out before more rain hits tomorrow.

The good news is Katie says, "It was the best camping trips I ever had!" She liked playing with new friends, finding bugs (a walking stick!), eating junk (donuts and cookies for breakfast!), sleeping in a tent, and telling stories with Daddy. (Their favorite was called "The Magical Whippoorwill.")

I realize as parents, we sure go through a LOT of work to make some memories for our kids. Sometimes, it hardly seems worth it. I mean, seriously? Being rained on all night? But then the kids tell us how it was the most awesome thing ever, and it helps erase some of the misery involved. Besides, I can't wait for my kids to have to do things like this with theirs one day. Ha!


Jackson and his buddy Liam started a new soccer class together. Jackson LOVES soccer, so I thought we'd give it a try. I think this it the only time he sat and listened during the class.

It's a parent participation class, which means me and my friend Beth are worn OUT after the 45 minute class is over. It's a lot of work to chase after our wild boys!

The sweetest part was at the end when the kids circled up and put their hands together and yelled, "I love soccer!" So cute.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This Week's Visitors

We had visitors this past week. My sister-in-law Bonnie and her husband John came through town with their son, Jude. They were on their way to a wedding in Kansas, and stopped to spend the night with us. It was the first time we've met Jude, who just turned one in August. He is such a cutie!

We enjoyed catching up on things and sharing family gossip (which bored poor John, I'm sure), and Katie loved helping out with Jude.

Dan grilled an awesome dinner - hearts of romaine from the grill (thanks Brina and Eric!), corn on the cob and pork loin. Vegetarian John even had some falafels to enjoy, so everyone was happy!

Jackson spent the night asking Bonnie if he could play at her house (in Kentucky). "Can I go to your house?" She said yes, one day we could come play. He would cheer and get so excited, thinking we would go right now. Uh, no, buddy. Sorry.

When they left Wednesday morning, Katie cried on the way to the bus stop because she didn't want them to leave. And Jackson kept asking where they went. I kept answering, "Kansas" and that seemed to make sense to him.

Did I Hear That Right?

I got Jackson up from his non-nap today at the campground and laid him down to change a stinky diaper. (More on the camping tomorrow, when I have the camera and can upload photos.)

He and I chattered about the stinky then he looked up at me and said, "I'm gwad yuah my mom." My heart melted, and I had to pause to make sure I heard him right. Did he really say he's glad I'm his mom? Unprompted? Did Dan teach him a new trick or something?

No. He did it on his own. My. Heart. Is. Melting.

A New Face

Wanna know what I did on Thursday night? Here's a hint:

And you can go to my friend Danielle's website at and this link will show you all the fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

DirecTV Bites

I've been waiting for resolution on this issue so I can blog about the entire story from start to finish, but it's taking too long. So I'm going to give you the story up to now... and I'll try to limit the details so I don't bore you completely. Here goes!

I had a Nextel cell phone and wanted a new cell phone. So I went to an AT&T kiosk at the mall to look at some plans and phones. The agent there told me about the cell phones, and then AT&T U-Verse. I told him I can't switch to AT&T yet because I have a contract with DirecTV. He said, "No problem! That's who we use!" He looked up my DirecTV account on his computer, and said I was eligible for U-Verse and it would be such a great deal for us. I listened and asked questions, and took brochures home to Dan.

A few days later on August 11, I called DirecTV and spoke to a woman. I asked one simple question (and even asked it twice). I said, "We are thinking of moving to AT&T U-Verse, but I want to make sure we won't have any penalties from DirecTV. Can I upgrade to U-Verse?" Her answer was yes, and I quote: "It will save you money and give you better benefits." I asked again if there would be any penalties, and she said no. I was a little surprised, but then thought about how DirecTV and AT&T were partners and so it must be cool.

So we proceeded with buying a new cell phone and ordering the installation of U-Verse. We bought it through an AT&T dealer (not the mall kiosk) and the guy there told us the same thing about DirecTV and AT&T's partnership. I thought all was well, right?


U-Verse was installed on August 25. I called DirecTV that night to update my account, and was told that U-Verse is NOT part of DirecTV for this particular instance. DirecTV partners with AT&T only for satellite bundling. And since I was breaking contract with DirecTV a whole year prematurely, I now owe them a $240 early cancellation fee. WHAT?! I explained my phone call from August 11 to DirecTV, how I was told that there would be no penalties, yadda, yadda, yadda. The agent offered me $10 off a month and a $350 credit to stay with DirecTV. She said I still had time to cancel with AT&T and stay with DirecTV. (Never mind the six hours I had spent that day with the AT&T installer in my house, drilling holes in my wall, moving furniture, etc.)

I won't bore you with all the letters and phone calls I've made to DirecTV since August 25. I've also been in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper article about this issue, filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and complained to AT&T as well about their uneducated and misguided agents. The bottom line is we owe $240 to DirecTV because of their mistake and misinformation.

And in the midst of all of this? I hadn't formally ended my contract with DirecTV because I was waiting to see if they would waive the penalty before we cancelled. But guess what? About a week ago, I found out they terminated my service anyway. Their call notes show some mystery "male voice" called them on September 5 and told them to cancel our service. (And, NO, it wasn't my husband. He hasn't had any contact with DirecTV and has been letting me handle it all. I'm the bulldog when it comes to these issues.) Apparently, the guy at DirecTV told me that there is no password on our account, so anyone that knows our name and address and phone number can call and change our service. So since our service was canceled by Mystery Man, the $240 early cancellation fee would be charged to the credit card on file at DirecTV. I told the agent no, but he said, "The only way for the cancellation fee to be waived is to reinstate the account." Uh... no thanks. Why on earth would I go BACK to you after such dishonesty and mistreatment? Ha.

I'm beyond frustrated with the awful customer service I've received. There have been so many rude and snippy agents that I've spoken to. And, yes, I have their names on record, not that anyone at DirecTV or AT&T would listen to that anyway. (My friend Danielle recently wrote about her bad service too. What's up with the bad vibes lately?)

And I'm downright ANGRY that I did the proactive thing and called DirecTV before we switched and was told there would be no penalty. So I proceeded with canceling and now I'm paying for it. I don't feel I did anything wrong! I think DirecTV should pay for their mistakes, not me.

I will also be notifying the state attorney general about these misleading business practices. All the brochures I've received in person and in the mail show the DirecTV and AT&T logos on them, so it misleads the consumer into thinking the two companies are partners and offer reciprocal products. None of the marketing materials explain that they are partners only in very limited capacities.

So. Humph.

Now I'm all fired up again about this issue. And there's no resolution, so far. The BBB is still waiting for a response from DirecTV about my complaint. Let's hope I have good news to report about all of this soon. In the meantime, I hope this whole ordeal helps some of you avoid the same issues. My main warning is this: stay FAR away from DirecTV. Their agents are rude, unhelpful, and dishonest. DirecTV sucks, and I'm not much happier with AT&T at the moment.

I'm tempted to go live off the grid in Montana. Except they don't have Chick-fil-A there. Or even White Castle. Ha. (That's my attempt at humor. Not so good at that right now.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Did a Half Marathon!

Less than three hours ago, I made personal history. I actually completed a HALF marathon! Wow, what a rush.

And just to clarify, the time on the clock isn't correct because there were so many people in the race that we crossed the start line a good while after the clock started.

My team has been training since February. At some points, there were up to six members. Then we lost some and gained one, and four of us finished the race today. I'm so proud of us for finishing. We weren't the fastest (of course), but we weren't the slowest. And regardless of the speed, the fact is that we FINISHED. That's pretty amazing for us, considering some of us used to think a 5K was long.

I love that the race hands out medals to every single person who finishes. I don't know that I've ever won a medal before, so I will cherish this one. Silly to know that a medal can be so meaningful! And our coach, Joe, got two medals because he completed a different race a while back, and people who complete both races get a special second medal too. He's quite the coach and he's even competing in an Ironman in just six days (the Redman down in Oklahoma City). What a champ!

I also love that our bib numbers have our names on them. You have no idea how encouraging it is to hear someone say your name when you're in a slump.

And, yes, our shirts say, "Does this shirt make my butt look fast?" The best part is the saying is on both the front and the back (right across our fannies) and we had so many people who cheered us on just because of our shirts. We ordered them from One More Mile Running.

To thank our coach for all his hard work, we gave him a shirt with a quote from John Bingham on it. It says, "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." Amen!

I am off to elevate my poor aching feet and sit around for a while. And then I'm going to get up and move around a bit so my muscles don't totally seize up. I feel pretty good after finishing, if I could just dull the ache in my feet!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Speaking in Code

Here was the lunch conversation between me and Dan, after I read the newspaper's front page story about Caster Semenya (the South African runner who has undergone gender testing):

Me: What?!
Dan: She has a V but not a P. And they checked, but there are no Os.
Me: Or a U.
Dan: No. But there are Ts.
Me: Hmmmm...
Dan: Very weird.
Me: Wouldn't that make her... ???
Dan: An H? Possibly.

Did I mention Katie was at the table, eating lunch too? That means we definitely can't use the real words. And now that she reads and spells so well, we can't risk it by even spelling the words.

Hence, speaking in code.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mommy Mommy Mommy...

Just for grins today, I decided to count how many times I hear the word "Mommy" in a day. I didn't start counting until 9:39am (that happened to be the time on my car clock), which was already almost two hours into my day with Jackson. Yes, he doesn't get up until Katie leaves for school. Lucky me!

By 9:39am, I am estimating he had already said "Mommy" about 50 times. Honestly. He was mad at me for taking a shower, and whined "Mommy" a LOT. And also during breakfast when he argued with me over which type of cereal he wanted to eat. However, I'm not counting those 50. I didn't start counting until 9:39am.

By 9:59am, when we were back in the car after a quick stop at Wal-Mart, I was already up to 82.

By naptime at 1:15pm, the count was 212.

I'm not sure my brain can continue counting for the rest of the day. Between the incessant "Mommy" and the thoughts that are always already swirling through my consciousness, it's hard to remember to keep counting. So I'm going to call it quits at 212. At the park, my friend Michelle told me I shouldn't count anyway. It'll just depress me.

Can you guess what Jackson's very first word was, when he was just 10 months old? Yes, it was "Mama." It was music to my ears, and I celebrated the milestone. Now, just 19 months later, it is still a beautiful sound. But, honestly? 212 repetitions of ANYTHING can be a little deflating.

Thank God for naptimes and silence in the house.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Picture Perfect Little Life

Madsen Cycles Cargo BikesI keep seeing ads and magazine articles about this cool bike called a Madsen Bucket Bike. It makes me want to move to a little neighborhood that is a suburb of St. Louis (and kind of near us).

It's called New Town, and it's so quaint and sweet. I wouldn't even need a car. I could load Jackson up in the Madsen Bucket Bike and bike on up to the store or library or over to the farm (my friend Gina wrote about it here). We could have picnics at the amphitheater, and New Town also has a GREAT fireworks show on July 4th (which we've attended before). They have concerts in the summer, and churches located within the "town" limits.

And, oh, that bucket bike would be so perfect in this little life. Wouldn't it? Can't you just see me in it, all trim and fit because of all the exercise I'd be getting hauling around kids and groceries? Ooooo, what fun!

I already mentioned to Dan how much fun it would be to live in New Town. He chopped that dream down quickly. Something about being in a flood plain. That's what happens when you're married to a civil engineer with a specialty in hydrology - dreams die to flood plain management. I could still buy the bike even if we didn't live there, right? But we don't have an extra $1,000 to plunk down on a bucket bike. Besides, it wouldn't look so cute if I had to cross the major streets near my house just to get to Wal-Mart. Oh, well. I can still dream!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Last Times

Monday was Labor Day, the official end to summer. We celebrated Dan's birthday. And we marked the five year anniversary of my mom's death. Today would have been my dad's 71st birthday.

Lots of changes and milestones in just a few days, which has made me a little introspective.

It's made me think of how I felt in the days following Mom's death. As we boxed up her things, I couldn't help but wonder how she would have lived differently if she had realized all the "last times."

When she celebrated July 4th for the last time five years ago, before she was hospitalized, did she know it would be her last? When she packed up her Christmas decorations in 2003, did she know she wouldn't make it to Christmas 2004? Did she know I would be unpacking them in 2004 in my own home in Missouri?

Of course she didn't know. Neither do we. But do we live like it could be our last?

Monday could have been the last Labor Day you - or I - ever experience. The end to the last summer of our lives. What if there were no more backyard barbecues, no more days spent lazing by the pool, no more chances to feel the blazing summer sun on your face? Would you say goodbye to this last summer happily, knowing you ate your fill at the barbecue and floated happily in the pool and felt the heat warm you from the outside in? Did you get enough?

And if you can't say goodbye to this summer with some sort of satisfaction in your heart, why not?

Get out there, while the cicadas are still buzzing and the grass is still long enough to feel cool to your bare feet. Run in the sprinkler. Soak it up. You still have time.

If you're reading this, you still have TIME.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Send Us a Postcard!

This is a fun little application I found online. It shows countries I've visited personally.

It made me think of my friend Beth. Her son just started Kindergarten. His class is asking people who live in the US to send postcards so the kids can learn about geography. I think it's such a great idea that I forwarded the email to about 60 people I know, and gave them our home address too. I'd love for y'all to send postcards to him, or to Katie as well. Email me if you are interested and I'll send you the necessary information. Then I'd love to make a map like the one above, showing Katie where she received postcards from.

And, by the way, I would love to have postcards for Katie from ANYWHERE, not just in the States. So for those of you who are foreigners (you know how much I love you anyway!), please send us a postcard too. Pretty please?!

Just for fun, here's a map of the states I've visited (although I don't think it's entirely accurate, since we drove to Canada when I was younger and HAD to have crossed through some of those northern states):

Oooo... this is addicting. I know lots of you who will enjoy it! (It's right up your alley, Pillownaut! Now I just need some photos of myself at each state's sign, like you!)

Happy Birthday, Hooney!

The world is lucky that you entered it today, 37 years ago. And I am beyond lucky - I am truly blessed to be your wife.

I love you!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Dan = Handsome

This post is going to earn me some choice words once Dan reads it. But I can’t talk about all the things I admire about him and leave out one of the best parts! And I tell you what: Dan gets better and better with time.

Sometimes I look at him and openly wonder, “How in the heck did I get so lucky?” He is the total package, especially in the looks department.

I’ve had other women tell me that Dan is handsome. Pride flares up in me, and then negativity because I wonder if they are thinking, “How did he end up with you?” Well, my friends, it’s because he’s so lucky. Ha!

Seriously. I look back at photos of us when we first met. Dan has always been a pretty cute guy, but I think the years have been especially good to him. He just keeps getting more handsome and, dare I say, dashing? (Oh, Lord. He’s gonna let me have it with that one!)

When he pulls in the driveway after work and parks his car, he’ll step out and I can feel his eyes zero in on me. No matter what I’m doing and no matter which child might be hanging off of me, I lock eyes with him and watch him walk over to me and feel like the luckiest woman alive. To know that HE is mine and that his arms are just waiting to enfold me is one of the most divine feelings a human can have. I thank God that He made Dan for me. And, yes, I know that for a fact.

Dan and I were supernaturally tailored for each other. As badly as I’ve tried to botch things up in the past, I somehow lucked out and still hung on to this amazingly wonderful man. He is exactly what I need in a husband, and he has ruined me for any other man. I am deeply, madly, tenaciously in love with Dan.

What a hunk. Hubba hubba!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dan = Intelligent

He’ll scoff when he reads this, but I truly believe my husband is one of the smartest people I know. Street smart and book smart. Part of his intelligence comes from pure desire to know things. And part of his intelligence comes from his inability to let something lie. He wants to know the why and how of things – he IS an engineer, y’all. It’s second nature to him.

Dan is a lifelong learner. I love that about him, because it means he’s always willing to grow and learn more. He’s not satisfied just to sit on his duff and accept the status quo. He wants to question and discuss. He reads the paper from cover to cover (which, I’ll admit, sometimes drives me crazy) and remembers details in ways I can’t imagine. He looks deeper, digging for the rationale behind certain motives (he still puzzles at my rationale sometimes).

There are many decisions I wait to make simply because I want to discuss them with Dan. I love having his perspective on things – he thinks things through and looks at other angles. He picks up on things I overlook, and is pragmatic in finding solutions.

He challenges me to grow more, learn more, and keep my mind sharp. I love this about him!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Motorcycle, Go!

When Katie was about two years old, she L-O-V-E-D cars and motorcycles and trash trucks and anything with wheels. She would see a motorcycle and would shout, "Motorcycle, go!" By the time she was three, she knew the make and model of almost every car on the road. Her favorite was a Dodge Ram (followed closely by PT Cruisers), so we had a Dodge Ram birthday party for her. It was a blast.

Fast forward four years later, and her little brother also has a special love for anything with wheels. He also shouts, "Motorcycle, go!" Back in August, I took him to see heavy machinery at a local rental place. He loved it.

In that same vein, I decided to take him to the local Harley Davidson store today to check out the motorcycles. He was so incredibly happy there. He bounced from machine to machine. He called the motorcycles by their colors saying, "Hewwo, gween motuh-cycuh." He ran from one to the other saying, "Mommy, wook at dat! Can I ride it?"

Surprisingly, he even volunteered for photos with the motorcycles, standing by them and posing on his own.

He was in HOG heaven. (Pun intended.)

We were outside the store and he got to see all the customers arriving on their motorcycles, and he loved hearing their motors roar. Some of the drivers got a kick out of seeing him get so excited, although others seemed to be annoyed by the little boy who was so enthusiastic. (One of the store employees didn't seem too pleased by us, either.)

Jackson kept asking, "Can I ride it?" I kept telling him no, and told him not to touch the motorcycles. But before I knew it, he bolted over to a red one and raised a leg as if he was about to climb it. Just as I shouted, "NO!" he turned and said, "Ow!" He put his knee onto one of the hot pipes and burned it. Luckily, he was distracted by all the other motorcycles and didn't even cry, but I know it hurt. Badly. I burned my leg on a Harley pipe two Christmases ago, and it is painful.

So, now, Jackson has his first motorcycle wound. I feel awful for him, and wish I had been in front of his mad dash to the red motorcycle and been able to block him. I just wasn't fast enough. The pediatrician recommended ice, ibuprofen and Neosporin. Let's hope he heals quickly!

I love encouraging my kids' interests, but I think we'll take a break from machinery field trips for a while.


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