Monday, November 25, 2013


By now it has escaped nobody that the Thanksgiving season is upon us. And I'm not just talking about the Black Friday ads which are being stuffed into your mailbox. Even if it wasn't marked on your calendar, you could figure it out in the most basic of ways simply by the wind slamming the door behind you once you've entered your house. With a "brrrrrrr, it's cold out there", your next thought would be an unconscious, "and I'm thankful that it's warm in here!"

I just came in from putting seeds out for our visiting birds. It's something I do year-round, because we like watching them come to eat and socialize and jockey for a spot at one of the feeders. We can tell without looking when a screamy blue jay is hogging the sunflower seeds, and it reminds me that my ladybug-shaped feeder is still buried in the tall grass by where Dada parks his car, still full of decaying peanuts that the jays couldn't fit through the holes. My bad. We can tell by the mourning doves' sorrowful coos that the sparrows aren't knocking enough still-full seeds to the ground. Sometimes I'll fill the feeders and 6-8 plump doves will arrive and simply sit along the fence, like Black Friday shoppers camping out. They don't bother to eat anything. They just stare at me like, "what're you looking at? We're just SITTING here." To which I think back, "WHY are you just sitting there? The feeders are full, birdbrains!"

I also cleaned up all the dog poop in the yard. The kids laugh because I call it, "my favorite job." They know exactly what I mean when I say I'm going to go do my favorite job. It pretty much guarantees I'll get to do it in peace. Nobody wants a part of that. Perhaps I've said it before, but I'm going to say it again: the only redeeming feature of cold weather is that the dog poop freezes. That's a good thing because 1) it is easier to pick up when it's frozen solid and 2) it doesn't smell as much. I suppose if I were a dog, I'd object to that second one as I'm sure their powerful noses can smell much more into the poop than just stink. Alas, I'm can't.

The washer is sudsing away and most of the beds have been remade already. That tells me I should be thankful for several things. One, that we have enough clothes to be wearing some while others are in the wash. Two, that I can do our laundry right in our home. Don't get me wrong, I love laundromats. I always have fun in laundromats. I have loved them since I was a kid when our dryer died. I think it was the dryer, anyway. Plus, I have many memorable trips to a laundromat with a certain Mary Alice and our backpacks filled with notepaper and pens with which to write our bucket notes to tell camp staff how loved they are. And candy. But believe me when I say I'm thankful that I don't HAVE to go to one on a regular basis. Blessed. Three, we have beds. We don't have to share one or two. Or be on a pallet on the floor. Or a bag filled with straw if we're lucky.  Four, we have extra sheets for said beds. That's mostly thanks to Grandmama, who has a mild Salvation Army addiction, but that's a post for another day.

The same goes for the outside business. I had a coat and a hat and mittens on. I'm thankful that I own all those things. Not so thankful that we live in a climate where those things are needed, but I appreciate them nonetheless. I'm glad I smushed my big kids into all those objects before they left for the bus stop. Thing One is learning about insulators and conductors, so perhaps she is a tiny bit more appreciative of her thick, warm, heat insulating coat as our typical Ohio wintry winds whip around her at the bus stop.

And we have enough money to buy birdseed, even though it may only be for the sparrows of the fields. We have enough that we can have a family pet. We would be sad without our hairy beast. I know this. As much as I trip over her and complain about where she chooses to spread out that long, long body of hers, we miss her when she's not with us. As many times as I have to tell her, "go lay DOWN" when she's trying to sneak her 100 pound self under the kitchen table, I'm thankful that she's part of our family. Hairballs and all.

The kids have tests in these two days before Thanksgiving vacation, and I'm trying to be thankful for that because it means that they get to go to school. Both genders of them. Their school has heat and lights and they get to see their friends and have teachers who enjoy them. Our kids can read. Blessed!

Damon and I have been coughing and blowing our noses frequently because we have been sharing a cold. Instead of complaining about my sore nose or how many tissues we're going through, I should be praising because this too shall pass. It is just a cold. We don't have cancer or Lyme Disease or anything genetic that we could have to deal with for the rest of our lives. And that's not to knock those of you who are suffering, please don't think that. It's simply to say that I'm aware of what's out there, and I AM grateful that I'm not going through it either myself or as a mom watching my kids struggle through it. We are so fortunate to have our health, which we always take for granted until it is adversely affected!

Plenty of us on Facebook have been participating in the #30daysofthanks challenge (Nana, that's 30 days of thanks) where we post what we're thankful for each day. I can honestly say that I haven't had to think very hard for blessings. They're right in my face all the time. Everywhere I look. Today I tripped over a big toy. I was carrying aforementioned laundry in a basket on my hip, didn't see the huge toy underfoot, and crashed right into the doorway. My first thought was to start griping through clenched teeth while I rubbed my sore elbow. I can't post what I thought because I try to keep this site family friendly. And then, I thought about how we have so many blessings I'm tripping over them!

When Dada and I were in Hawaii almost 5 years ago, we were talking with friends who'd read or heard about someone getting rid of all their possessions until they'd ended up with only 100. One spoon. One fork. One plate. Three things. We talked a lot about, "well, was it one pair of socks or one sock? How about pairs of shoes? One sheet set or one sheet and one pillowcase and one top sheet?"  They went on to say that while not many of us could truly live comfortably or feasibly (especially if you have young children- one diaper or one box of diapers or one trunkful of diapers?) on only 100 things, there are probably a TON of us who could get rid of 100 things and hardly notice. Certainly who could give away 100 possessions and not be inconvenienced. Those 100 objects might inspire us to give away more, to simplify. To get rid of the Stuff that is making us trip. To get rid of the Stuff because more is coming into our homes on Black Friday. On Christmas. For our birthdays. Just because. How about we start or continue blessing others by donating some of our Stuff?

Go to your local charity's websites or stores and ask what is needed. Check with the Red Cross to see what the typhoon victims really and truly could use. Find out what the people in Kokomo, Indiana lost to the tornadoes and desperately need replaced. Help fill the Salvation Army kettle where the Boy Scoutsicles are madly ringing the bell. Drop off whatever nonperishables you can afford to the food pantry in your town. Make art or a scarf for that elderly neighbor. Donate your time and your money to your church- they often already have feet on the ground where the need is greatest and we don't have the time to waste reinventing the wheel. Be the light in this season when the sun shines less often and not as brightly.

May your blessings be tight enough keep you warm, but not so tight as to constrict your heart until it becomes two sizes too small. Experience the true joy of the season by shifting focus to others. Make the holidays a Grinch-free zone.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Exciting times

We can say truthfully that things are never boring around here. For example:

Dada got home safely from his two-week China trip. He'd left on a Saturday morning, was gone all that week, over a weekend, and came home the following Friday night. Then he needed to sleep most of that weekend to get back on our time zone. He had a very good first experience from the food to the people to the haggling that is shopping. The worst part was probably the neverending plane rides there and back!

While he was gone, I took the kids to church, dropped them off in their Sunday school rooms, made my way to the sanctuary and lasted through one song before I was paged. Damon was standing against the wall, sobbing his heart out, and refusing to be comforted. I ended up in the lobby, holding him on my lap in my metal chair, until he fell asleep during the offering. He woke up just in time to go collect the big kids and head home. Kids-1, Mama-0.

Monday after school brought Carrie home coatless.
"Where is your coat?"
"I left it at school."
"What were you doing when everyone else was putting theirs on? Didn't you notice you didn't have yours on?"
"Nobody else was wearing theirs, either!"


Tuesday night, I asked Carrie to please tell Liam to finish up in the bathtub. This included rinsing, getting out, draining the water, getting dry, then getting pajamas on. I hear hysterical laughter from upstairs but proceeded to finish the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, more fool me. By the time I made it up there, I found a still-soapy Liam in the tub along with a fully clothed Damon. Kids-1000, Mama-0...

Two Thursdays later was the first swimming lessons for the big kids. Their classes are in the evening, while Damon has one right before lunch. We're at the Y a lot! Anyway, Liam is old enough to be in the male family locker room. So I pop Damon in the child care section, go through the female family locker room side and watch their classes. When they are done, they are instructed to rinse off the chlorine, get changed, dry, into pajamas, etc. so we can go home and go to bed. It's a school night, and I have to rescue Damon before the child care part closes. Carrie gets done, I get Damon, and we are waiting, waiting, waiting. A towel-clad Liam pops out into the hall with his swim trucks in his other hand, proclaiming with just a tinge of panic that his stuff is gone. Turns out, he was in the wrong locker bay and his stuff was intact on the other side. However, it takes eons for him to find it and get dry and get dressed and get packed up and get his coat on.............

I tell Carrie, "I am SO GLAD Dada's job will have him home more now. Next time, I can stay home with Damon while you take care of yourself after your lesson and Dada can do the guys' locker room with Liam." She sags against the wall in relief.

You get the idea. There was something like that every.single. day. I was overjoyed to see Dada come home. My Girlfriends all suggested I dump the kids on him every single night of the following week, but alas, it was not to be.
"Did I mention that I'll be gone Thursday and Friday of this week? Um, and of next week?"
Life- infinity, Mama-0.

Fast forward to this Thursday past. Once again, there's a clean, dressed, book-in-hand (she's wised up) Carrie in the hall. I get Damon, and we wait. And we wait. And we WAIT.

Carrie sets her book down and marches into the guys' side. "Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam!"  She finds him still in the shower. No joke.

He does eventually make it out. To the tune of FORTY MINUTES AFTER HIS CLASS ENDED.

This week, we'll take sleeping bags. And snacks.

That Friday, he confided to me that he'd been scrubbing the shower walls. They were nice and shiny when he was all done.

Paging Alexander, once again. Is there room in that suitcase for me to join you in Australia?

So Sunday night, as some of you know, well, most of you on the Facebook nation know, one of our wonderful wintry windstorms swept through. It was powerful enough to knock down wires in more than one spot, and we lost power just as we were ending dinner. I'd gotten groceries, some Christmas presents, and had snuggled babies at church earlier in the day. We got candles and flashlights and headed to the basement as our tornado watch devolved into a tornado warning. We even took Triskal down there, which was a first or second time only, as Newfies are not big fans of stairs and they're bad for their hips so we purposely never encouraged her to be anywhere but our main floor.

So we're as snug as can be (and may I add that spending a decent amount of time in the basement makes one take a serious look into redecorating so that they're more comfortable furnishings for extended stays?), the warning subsides, we head to bed, and wake up the next morning with still no power. A two-hour delay turns into school being cancelled. Are you even kidding me!?

No. They weren't. Okay, so there's no school. What are the kids doing? Cross my heart, they are packing suitcases. Where are they going? To camp in the front yard.


Yes, that's what they said. They were going to move out.
"Did you not notice that school has been cancelled because of inclement weather? And you want to try to set up a tent in that wind? And it rained yesterday so the ground isn't going to be dry?"
"Auuuuuuuuuuuugh, FINE."

At this point, I quit keeping score.

Thankfully Dada came home at lunch and treated us all to Bob Evans. We stuffed ourselves silly and spent a little bit of time in the bookstore nearby to stay warm. "CanIhavethat? Canwegetthis? CanIhavethat?"

I received an ecstatic text from our next door neighbor saying the power's back on. Hallelujah! Let's go home and turn on the heat!

We were blessed. Yes, the power was out for 20 hours, but we didn't lose anything in the fridge or freezers because we'd kept them closed and the groceries were fresh and unopened. It only rained before the power went out, otherwise the sump pump wouldn't have kept up since there was no electricity and we could have flooded again. I haven't found any shingles in the yard, our garden gnome Virgil Eugene is merely laying down instead of smashed to bits, and our cars were undamaged. It could have been so much worse. They were on the other side of town. Some of the same areas that were hit by the tornado when Damon was born got blasted again. The outage taught the kids to not depend on the iPad or the Wii or the TV to entertain themselves. A little, anyway. And nobody got hurt. Blessed.

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

And if you know me, you'll know that I'm not in the least bit happy about it. I came out of the Y tonight into snow. SNOW. *Insert lots of choice bad words here. I did.*

We've been enjoying having Dada back home from his two week trip in China. He had an excellent first experience from the food to the inner workings of the business side to the landscape to the haggling/dickering/price finessing. I've only seen a handful of pictures, icnluding Tiny Traveling Tino holding a peanut with chopsticks, but the food looked amazing. Poor Dada is adjusting to the 13 hour time zone difference by sneaking in naps...

Tomorrow begins parent-teacher conferences, which ought to be interesting given Thing One and Thing Two.  There is potential for some good blogging there!

But first, I must go make Aunt Chris's Best-Ever Potato Soup for Dada's work potluck tomorrow. And Gingersnaps. And PaPa's coming! Woohoo! Goodnight. And try not to think about the nofucks . Click on that for a refresher.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Girlfriends old and new

Oops, forgot this one. These are the kids in Aunt Sherri's car the weekend Dada and I went to camp. They gave us hardly a backward glance as they all piled in for THEIR adventure. They would gladly move in with her!

And this is my new friend Isabella. Isn't she darling? Her mom, Mar, and I have been friends since 7th grade. SEVENTH GRADE. Holy cow, we are old...

Anyway, Mar was kind enough to drag this poor, sweet baby out on a Saturday night to come meet us at Eat N Park during our camp weekend. She's just perfect, Mar!

My beautiful BFF Lisa came up too. Nothing like girlfriends past, present, and future!

I would certainly not be the mom or the woman I am without these two awesome women. I am more thankful for their friendship than I can ever express. Thank you, Lisa, for putting up with me since I was 6! And Mar, looking forward to getting into shenanigans with little miss Isabella. If she is anything at all like you, look out! ;)  Love you all!
Posted by Picasa

8 is Enough!

I kind of started Liam's birthday celebrating early. Wednesday night we ordered pizza, his choice, and sang to him and gave him our family gifts. I've learned that a birthday on Halloween leads to mass chaos between the school day and parties and parade and dinner and homework and trick or treat. When are you supposed to fit a birthday in? The day before, naturally. Spread the love.

His card from us was picked by Damon. It's a singing, vibrating hamburger with googly eyes. It never fails to make them laugh. See?

He got a yellow gift bag from Grandmama with her usual across-the-board goodies from flash cards to books to yellow plates/napkins/plasticware to Lego shaped candles!

Yes, I am That Mom, who buys her kid underwear for his birthday. He's grown a ton and needed it anyway, so he got fun Skylander and Angry Bird skivvies from his Mama.

All right, I got him a pretty sweet Angry Birds hoodie, too. I'm not all bad!

Pap and Grandma Barb brought him a Star Wars Lego set when they got here, so he was over the moon and has his um, some star-fighter thingie all assembled and is delighted that it shoots um, thingies? Haha!
Posted by Picasa

Halloween Thursday

Must rest up for all the Halloween shenanigans...

Trick or Treat was cancelled on actual Halloween because of the 50 mph winds we were having. The only damage I saw was to one of the neighbor's trees out back:

Damon started swim lessons on Halloween. I signed him up for the first class that didn't involve me having to get in with him. The being in the water part is not a big deal. The chasing a naked, wet 3-year-old around the slippery locker room while I myself am trying to shower/dry/change would be the part I object to!  He'll have about 6 lessons on Thursday mornings, and the big kids will start their evening ones this week. We will be at the Y a lot this fall!  And yes, he loved it.
Posted by Picasa

Birthday cupcakes

I found these cute cupcake kits at Aldi and went overboard by buying two of each set. One set had everything needed to make the orange and purple monster cupcakes, while the other set made the skeletons with brains ones you see in the distance. I think originally I thought I'd make them for Liam's class party, but then I figured the kids would have more fun decorating them themselves so I only did 24 and served them while Grandma Barb and Pap were here. We even got to send some home with them. Win!
Posted by Picasa

Trick or Treat 2013


The kids were a "chocolate skellie", dark Link, and regular Link. Once again, for those of you who've missed it, Link is an elven character from The Legend of Zelda, Carrie's obsession since she first played the video game. Somehow she convinced Liam to be dark Link, who apparently is evil and has a black face with red eyes. I'm hoping this passes and quickly.

I was a gypsy (which is, yes, politically incorrect), but I already owned everything for my costume so I'd call that a win.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Just Stuff


I have SUCH handsome boys.

Sweet old Triskal. She's been soaking up as much sun as possible.

Carrie took this one of the sunrise, also catching our party lights and her reflection. I like it!
Posted by Picasa

Epic Fall Getaway of our Dreams

Thank you to Chris, who planned the Epic Fall Getaway of our Dreams (part II). We all had a wonderful time!

Everybody at the Truck Stop, of course.

Emily NOT looking like she wants to kill someone, hehe!

Eric and Zak, looking rather innocent, and Abby being her cute self.

Beautiful heeeeeeeeey, Marina!

And lovely, small Chloe.
Posted by Picasa

Camp in October

Naturally, it was beautiful and dry on Sunday when we left. These are all shots from main camp on our way out.
Posted by Picasa