Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fun with our Friends

Click to play Winter+Fun

The pictures speak for themselves. We had a wonderful time at our friend's house. They go all out when they decorate. (Think Christmas Vacation). The outside of the home is complete with a snow blowing machine, lights enough to power a small city, and a fire pit. The hospitality in this home is unmatched: drinks, food, cookies, you name it. There was music playing and we even danced like we were at a night club. The house is on a culd-e-sac so there was a constant parade of cars and pedestrians to come and see this real life Chevy Chase house. Still we danced shamelessly, our kids gave away freshly decorated cookies, and we laughed a lot. Although there are many good memories of the evening, the highlight was when my youngest daughter pointed out to the head of their household, Richard, that despite his attempts at dressing himself that morning, his crack was showing. Yes, my sweet little Courtney actually told our host, "Excuse me, but your crack is showing." Then she skipped on to make more mischief. In her defense, it was showing, but he was busily creating hot chocolate and apple cider for his demanding guests. He had just temporarily forgotten about his pajama pants creeping their way down his posterior. The rest of us chose to ignore it, maybe mention it later perhaps. But not Courtney. The situation needed to be rectified. Just when I thought I couldn't be any prouder.
These are some of the easiest people in the world to be around. We don't have many couple friends...mostly because Steve is not a big social person....but these people take us, and any one else for that matter, as we are and make us feel like honored guests. I don't know how they do it. But I wish I had some of what they have and give out so willingly.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Greatest Discovery

Yesterday I discovered Puff kleenex with Vix vapor rub inside. It is the greatest invention ever. So now blowing my nose during this cold that will not quit is a joy and a pleasure. Thanks Puffs for being so innovative.

I Need a Fan

Sometimes I feel like I am at the end of my rope. The rope I so tightly hang onto is the rope that represents my life: my children, my husband, my household, my family, my friends, my extracurricular activities, my church.... This particular rope has gotten thicker through the years. When I was a kid it didn't seem like such an accomplishment to keep holding on from day to day. But these days, holding on seems to take a little bit more effort and determination. Steve is always trying to get me to go to bed earlier at night. But my response is always, "As soon as I hit the pillow, everything starts over again." I much prefer to fall asleep watching TV, be startled awake by the TIVO telling me the show is over and drag myself to my second sleep in my comfy bed. It probably sounds strange to some, but to you mothers you know exactly what I mean.

Before I go much further I would like to clarify, that I know I am blessed. I have much to be thankful for. That's what makes holding onto this rope so frustrating sometimes. I know things are really good in my life...why do I feel so frazzled?

As I ponder these types of questions I realize this one thing. I need a fan. No, not an extra cooling device in my house that collects dust in order to give my black coffee drinker something to talk about. No, I need a fan. Yes, I am that needy. I have been reading a book about a guy who is a big time celebrity and he has fans everywhere he turns, cheering him on, telling him how much they love him, and how great he is. It is annoying to him. It sounds thrilling to me.

Last night my mechanic told me that Steve is lucky to have me as a wife. The reason for this great compliment was, my mechanic knows I take care of the cars in the household. I brought in Steve's car for an oil change and the oil tank was a quart and a half low. I remind Steve to check it because it is an old car. But there is no time for such silliness in his life. So I, about every three months, toss and turn at night wondering if the oil needs to be changed or filled in his car. After about a week of wondering, I call my wonderful mechanic, bring the car in, and always it is just in time. This was the greatest compliment I have received in a long time. I almost asked my 55 year old mechanic to marry me. (Just kidding...kind really I am...mostly).

I think I'm not the only one who needs a fan. I bet everyone, at one time or another, feels like they wish someone was on the sidelines of their life cheering them on embarrassingly loud. So if you think about that today, maybe someone in your life needs you to be their fan. I bet someone has come to your mind already. Be their fan!! It's Christmas for crying out loud!!

Here are the people I am so proud of :
JP-Keep going. You are a great mom!!
LMB- You are an amazing wife and mother. Your sweet spirit and patience is something I wish I could emulate.
TJC- You are just wonderful!! You have such a gentleness about you. Your family is lucky to have you.
Dad- Someday I hope to be just like you. Keep praying for really works. Your steadiness in dealing with life's challenges is amazing.
Mom- I'm your biggest fan. I don't know how you've done it all. And you've done it all well.
JRG- The hardest working mom I know. You are amazing.
JRS-Don't ever quit all you do to help other people. It is a quality many don't possess. I'm proud to know you.
SCM- You are the hardest working man in the world. You have four girls who are your biggest fans.
KAS- One of the greatest examples of true friendship I have ever known. Your compassion for others is a gift...never change.
JN- You are a pillar of strength in the face of many adversities. I admire your dedication to your family, to your classroom full of junior highers and your loyalty to your friends.

...and by the way...Jesus is that fan standing on the sidelines cheering embarrassingly loud. Sometimes we just forget to listen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Here is Something I am Realizing

Friendship is really important to me. I am starting to wonder if it is too important to me, or more important to me than it is to the people I call friends. I am very thankful for my friends. In fact, my really good friends are the ones that know the worst about me and still return my calls (or e-mails). There are those people who I still call friend, who I am pretty sure no longer call me friend. (That is sad). These kind of things make me wonder about my personality flaws that maybe I am unaware of. Sometimes I talk too much...this is true. I think I may be annoying sometimes too. I'm not sure why I'm thinking about this stuff on such a beautiful rainy morning...but I thought I'd share.

I am done with my Christmas shopping. Now the drudgery begins of wrapping. I really loathe wrapping presents. There are probably many of you who have received gifts from me, still in the shopping bag from which it came. I probably hate wrapping because I am not good at it at all. My sister Julie is a pro. You would not believe that she doesn't do it for a living if you ever receive a gift from her. The corners lay flat; the tape is symmetrical on all of the seams; it is a work of art every time. When I wrap gifts I get comments like, "Oh you let Courtney help you wrap." or "Nice try Jenn, nice try." Or "I guess we can't save this wrapping paper for use next year." Truthfully, I just don't have the patience to wrap presents well. It is a time consuming, tedious event, that just never fits well into my schedule. It seems I can never find all the materials at once. Usually the item I am missing is a pair of ADULT scissors. So after turning the house upside down looking for one of the three pairs I have, I resort to using the kids crayola brand plastic scissors. So my would be straight edge turns into a zig-zag fringed edge. Since my kids love to tape things everywhere, the must have item of scotch tape is also elusive. Because of this I have to get creative and use a glue stick or black electric tape (i think my brother-in-law Rich, has a supply of this just in case). I have to wait for the kids to be asleep for another thing, and by the time that time rolls around, I am ready to stare mindlessly at the TV. I have had all of my gifts bought for 1 week now and not one of them is wrapped yet. I even bought nice, new wrapping paper this year, know exactly where the scissors are (in with the toothbrushes of course) and have horded two rolls of scotch tape for just such an occasion. So with all my excuses gone I still have not wrapped a single gift. Instead I am sitting here blogging, which I find very cathartic and much easier on my mental stamina.

Two good things that have happened:
1. I actually went out on a date with my husband. We met two friends we hadn't seen in a long time and had dinner. One was Steve's room mate, John, from college and it is always fun for me to see Steve interact with people that are like him and just enjoy being around him. They had a great time debating and challenging each other's concept of who God is. John's wife Laurie is one of the most genuinely nice people I know. She is the type that you can go months without having contact with and then get together and it is like no time has passed.

2. I saw the movie I am Legend. I mention this as good, because it has been a long time since I have seen a grown-up movie. The movie itself was definitely riveting, but.... Well it was a grown up movie so you will get no complaints here.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What the Elf?

Instead of homeschooling today we decided to dress ourselves up as elves. Education comes in many shapes, sizes, and songs.

Or the lighter side of my beloved:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Money and Marriage

I read a survey not too long ago that said the #1 cause of divorce among couples is finances. I thought to myself, how could people be so surface as to throw away a best friend over money. I'm starting to understand. (not that I am planning a divorce at all) I am just saying sometimes the conflict is, at its surface about money, but at its core communicates a lack of consideration for the other party. If, for example, one spouse wants something, and the other spouse is more money conscious. The money conscious spouse thinks it may not be a smart purchase at this time. The wanting spouse may take advantage of the people pleasing quality of his spouse and buy the said item anyway. Now, I am speaking completely hypothetical. Because in my marriage, all of our major decisions are marriage decisions. If we do not agree then the status quo remains. We have nothing but the most respect and appreciation for each other. There are no decisions made above or around my head. We are in complete agreement at all times. There has never been a more in sync couple.

But I did receive this letter:
Dear Funny Because Its True Writer:
My husband is a great man. However, we strongly disagree about large purchases. He has an opportunity to buy a family heirloom. But at this time we are not in a financial position to buy it. I have begged and pleaded...I think he is listening, but I'm afraid he has already made his decision. Wait...he just walked in the door...oh, he already bought it. Never mind. What do I do now?
Signed, People Pleaser

Dear People Pleaser:
Well since he has already bought said item you have two choices. Make his life miserable and take the joy out of something that he wanted badly enough that he was willing to disappoint you and make a decision that you did not agree with. Or try and share in his joy and hope the financial stuff will work itself out. I tend to lean toward making his life miserable, but being that you are a people pleaser by nature...I think you will make the right choice.
Signed: Funny Because it is True Guru

Please continue sending in your letters. I love the opportunity to share my pearls of wisdom. In the end, it is my professional opinion, that finances are a red herring that take the place of locating the real problem in any relationship.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Things that Are Not Fair

Don't worry, I will still include two good things on this blog, but I need to express some concerns about how life sometimes plays out.

As I sit here writing, I am very well aware of the fact that I should go back to bed and rest. You see, I am sick. Sore throat, head ache, body aches, stomach ache, know all the fun stuff. I would still be in bed, except for the fact that one of life's certainties is that if I get sick, one or more of my offspring will get equally sick.

As I was trying to find a comfortable spot in my bed this morning as my fever racked body tried to get warm, I hear, "Mom...." I of course ignore it because...well, I'm tired. Then I hear a more desperate "Mom...." To which Steve yells a loving, "Go to sleep. Leave your mom alone." Then I hear the dreaded words, "Mom...I'm throwing up." Music to my ears....a tune that I wish I could play over and over. So I immediately forgot about the sickness ravaging my body and jump up to thwart any additional messes caused from the inside contents of my child's stomach. As I quickly move to her room, the fact that I sprung out of bed so quickly does something exciting and new to my blood pressure and I crashed into the door jam of said child's room. Ouch. But I still persevered toward the goal of comforting and cleaning my child. Of course when I get in the room there are small pieces of toys awaiting to pierce my bare feet, but I am oblivious to that pain since my shoulder is mirroring the throbbing pain going on in my head. The smell I am accosted with sends me immediately into my own rendition of "dry heaving." That's when I see my poor little Kayci Bean, doubled over, hair matted to her pale little face, crying, and asking if I can hold her. I of course ask the obvious question, "Where did you throw up?" She sniffs and says, "All over the place." In the dim of the room I try to locate the said throw up by gently patting the blanket. My first hand placement is right into a pile of warm squishiness. Yes, I said WARM SQUISHINESS. (I will pause here for those of you with weak stomachs).

Musical interlude..."It's the most, wonderful time, of the year.... with kids getting sick and the parents are ticked, it will be a great's the most wonderful time of the year.

So while I am cleaning up the digested contents of my middle daughter, my sweet Courtney says very impatiently, "Mom, can you get me breakfast..." Kayci says, "I'm hungry...." So after dizzily starting a very stinky load of laundry I get Courtney her breakfast...of course made her way. I give Kayci a banana and toast (Why, you may ask? She just threw up. Her stomach obviously doesn't want anything in her tummy. Well, I'm just not that smart.) So I give her a banana and toast and within 5 minutes she throws up again all over the couch. She did get some of it in a bowl I gave her, but most of it...not so much.

So now Kayci is snuggled up on the couch, watching the latest episode of Magic School Bus. Courtney is fed, snuggled up on the other end of the couch, waiting for her turn with the vile virus called the flu. I haven't heard too much from Haley this morning. Hopefully she is still sleeping. I sit at this computer expressing my frustration at how unfair it is that I have to be sick at the same time my kids are. Because truthfully, I don't feel like taking care of anyone right now. I want to stay in my pajamas all day and drink tea and read/sleep. Doesn't it sound wonderful? But alas, it is not to be. I have a friend who was just recently sick and he got to spend two glorious days in bed. Now I am sorry, of course, that he was sick, but I actually hate him just a little, because he really doesn't know how lucky he is to have been able to sleep off his illness in uninterrupted bliss.

So onto my two good things:
1. I had an amazing time with my college friends this past weekend. We haven't seen each other in a year, but as always it is like no time has passed. They are some of the most fun people I know. We laughed and laughed. I am so thankful to have friends that I can just be me with and not worry about anything at all.

2. Our dog Faith had her adoption/birthday celebration yesterday. I am so glad we have her. I am so glad she has not jumped the fence once. And I am so thankful that she is alive.

Uh oh....Haley is calling.

Nope...false alarm, Kayci is throwing up again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wedding Highlights

Traveling with Tots

Ok, I really don't have "tots", but it seemed to go well with my title.

Forgive the long absence. I'm not sure why, but it seems around the holiday time, the days speed by a little faster and I'm just a little more tired. But it is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

About a week ago we embarked on a journey that could make most grown men tremble. Yes, we traveled with children. Now, I need to qualify that one of my faithful readers traveled to Greece and England this summer with three children. But she is should see her blog!! However, for us regular people , traveling with children, even just to Dallas is a feat worth bragging about. (Maybe warning others would be a better description). The kids actually did a tremendous job. Considering how tired and hungry I was....the kids were especially impressive.

The flight was delayed leaving Ontario which meant we landed in Las Vegas at the exact time our other flight was to take off. Luckily the gate was only four gates away. Running to the back ground music of "Flight of the Bumblebee" the Merrick clan made it onto the plane with no time to spare. They had one row of three which we sat the girls (this was the long leg of the trip so it was necessary for all three girls to be able to view the portable DVD player), Steve sat next to a pilot who happened to be interested in music, and I sat between a Large Liberal Texan and a gentle Texan Rancher/woodworker/real estate agent. Because of the earliness of our first flight we missed breakfast, because of the late arrival to our second flight we missed lunch. And because we fly Southwest, we had no hopes of anything but peanuts and a bag of 8-10 wheat thins. And we were not disappointed; we had peanuts a plenty!! Bags and bags of these sweet/salty morsels. My girls loved it. They loved that the flight attendant kept asking them if they wanted anything else...because of course...more peanuts. They also loved that mom was not sitting with them because when drink options were presented...what did they order? Coke. Of course. Thankfully, the amount of beverage the flight sees fit to give us does not directly correspond to the amount of peanuts they are willing to give. Otherwise my kids would have gotten up to go potty 50 times instead of a mere 25 times. (each that is) JRG, this is an exaggeration...not a lie...please forgive. Potty....yes some flight attendants must not have children or have ever been around them. When we took off out of Las Vegas, after our small sprint to the gate, Courtney announced she had to go potty. For those of you with kids, you know that the first announcement can usually be given a wait, however any subsequent requests to go potty are always followed with..."I gotta go real bad..." One small personality flaw I possess is I think it is very important to obey. Especially on planes.

In my life I can point to one very pathetic example of this. When I flew from Rhode Island to Burbank I was stuck by the window and told at each stop to remain in my seat until the flight attendants had gotten an accurate count. After being on the plane for an entire day, obeying the flight attendants, obeying the seat belt sign, and enduring sleeping passengers next to me, when I landed in Burbank my bladder almost exploded. True story. JRG was there...does she remember?

Anyways, because of this inborn need to obey, when Courtney exclaimed for the 11th time that she really needed to go potty my palms began to sweat. The fasten seat belt sign was still on. We were not yet free to "move about the cabin." So I made a quick decision and decided a wet Courtney would be worse than getting in trouble by the FAA. It actually seemed like an even trade. When I finally made my move I was met with a flight attendant saying, "Um you know the fasten seat belt sign is still on." "Yes I know...." I then helplessly pointed to my tiny child. Did the flight attendant really think I didn't know the seat belt sign was still on? Did she really think I was personally that excited to spend some quality time in that upright box called a restroom? I was obviously out of my seat because it was an emergency. She let me pass, but I got an annoyed look from her, which I didn't appreciate. But I also didn't really care. I paid my dues in the obeying-on-a-long-flight realm. I had earned the right to bend the rules just this once.

That was just bathroom trip number 1. I became bolder and bolder with each request and with each shot glass full of liquid in conjunction with 1,325,451 peanuts I ate.

Something else I learned...if you have a portable DVD player you are supposed to have headphones. Umm....have you ever seen a jack for three headphones? How were the girls supposed to hear their video? Without the video, the trip would have been a lot worse, not necessarily for my kids, but for everyone around them. Besides, what traveler does not enjoy the sounds of Barbie singing as the Island Princess?

On the return leg home, we were lucky enough to have my sister and her two kids (husband too) with us. What a sight to see we were in the airport! Because not only was there four adults trying to herd 5 children, but each child now had a cumbersome Build-a-Bear box, and large cowboy hats to manipulate while also carrying the necessary carry-on complete with snacks, things to do, videos, wipes, and other must -haves for traveling with small children. I know that the flight crew was so excited to see us all board with our space-robbing boxes and potty-bound children.

I don't know what it is about traveling with kids, but there is such an urgency at every turn. Trying to settle the kids in their seats takes time, but I am always very aware of the people waiting to get by me to find their seats. I'm trying to manipulate boxes, carry-ons and kids in the most efficient manner. The sweat is trickling down my back, my shoulders are so tense I could balance a small automobile on my back, the kids are demanding a movie now, and of course one of them needs to go to the bathroom.

But, here we sit. A week from this adventure and able to laugh about it. And mostly so thankful for the time we had all together.

Two good things that happened:

1. I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun. Really...I'd forgotten my capacity to really laugh. It had been a long time since I had seen Steve laugh and really have fun. (If you see him around though you may want to ask him about his tailbone).

2. As I looked around at the wedding I was so overcome with pride at my family. We all know each other; we all get along; and there are really no other people we'd rather be with.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This never happens to me

Well as some of you may or may not know, we finally purchased a replacement van for the total loss of our other van. We bought a 2005 Honda Odyssey very similar in color, but quite a bit nicer in options. However, since driving it for one week we have already encountered some problems. The dealer from whom we bought it of course gave us 1000 miles or one month to bring it back if anything did go wrong.

I don't know if this kind of stuff happens to you, but usually when I take my car in with some kind of noise or problem it seems to be on its best behavior for the mechanic. It's like the car knows that these people have the capacity to inflict all sorts of discomforts to its well being. It's similar to taking kids to the doctor who suddenly feel better because the word "shot" is mentioned. The conversation with the mechanic usually goes like this:

Me: Hi, um it seems like when I am driving my car it gets stuck between 2 and 3 gear and my engine revs up to 6 and 7,000 rpms. It usually occurs when I am trying to pick up speed like on an on ramp or accelerating from a green light. I did some research and found that this particular model has been having some transmission issues so I thought I would bring it in before I became stranded with three kids in a remote area.

Mechanic: Ok, lets take it for a drive.

Car: Oh no, I better do my best here. I can keep it together for one test drive. Ok shift calmly, ohhh it hurts, but I can do it. (Drives perfectly as if it came right off the new car lot)

Me: Ummm...its weird, it does it every time I drive.

Mechanic: (rolling his eyes) Ok, well let us keep it for a week and see if it acts up for us

Me: Can't you just assume it is the transmission and look into that?

Mechanic: Uh, no. It actually has to act up for us or we think you are just making stuff up.

Me: Ok, that makes sense. I do have a serious problem with wanting to be car less and waste endless hours at a dealer waiting for them to charge me $2000 to fix whatever is wrong. Thank you for recognizing this defect in me. And, again, I am sorry for wasting your time.

Mechanic: (pats me on the head and sends me on my way)

Then months later the car actually breaks down and I am no where near a dealer and my cell phone is out of battery. (The mechanic then confirms that there is something wrong with my exchange...etc.)

Me: Hi, um my drivers side automatic sliding door gets stuck sometimes when I am trying to open it.

Mechanic: Ok, let's see it.

Car: ...trying to open sliding door...trying...beeping..trying...just can't do it...just can't do it

Mechanic: You're right. You really know things about cars. Usually people come in and tell us something is wrong and we can tell they are making it up just to get attention and hang out at our facility. Thank you for actually knowing what you are talking about.

Me: ....uh.....don't know how to respond....need to argue or fight or get frustrated to feel like my trip to the dealer is worth while....uh....just give me a minute

Mechanic: We'll call you and let you know our progress by noon. You are our favorite customer.

So, this is a very good thing that happened today. I will keep you posted on the exciting adventures or our "new" van.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Greatest Moment in Baseball

I couldn't pass up this great clip. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. This is the best thing I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Two Good Things Have Happened

#1 My insurance is covering treatment for my back through my uninsured motorist coverage!! Hooray. I didn't have to argue, cry, threaten, throw a tantrum...they just offered it.

#2 I had one of the greatest tennis matches of my life today. My partner and I lost, but it was the best tennis ever. How cool it is that I get to play tennis!!

Courtney and Haley are currently trying to have a contest to see who can suck up the most Cheezits with their mouth off of their plates. (Pause here and try and picture it) I'm wondering where they learned that trick. Steve and I usually save our highly competitive cheezeit sucking contest for when the kids are asleep. We are very careful about that. It's strange what habits kids pick up completely on their own.

Haley and Kayci had a great time at the Hannah Montana concert last night. However, today, after being up until 11:30pm and getting up at 7:00 this morning, Haley is insisting that she is not tired. What she doesn't know is that I am a mother and I KNOW when my kids are tired!!
Why does she doubt my wisdom? How can she think she knows herself better than I know her?

Here are some ways that I know Haley is tired:

1. She said she was tired when she got out of bed this morning.
2. She has not brushed her hair yet and it is well into the afternoon.
3. She has cried about the following things:
a. being hungry
b. doing school
c. riding in the car
d. me telling her that she is tired
4. Her eyes are bloodshot
5. She can hardly hold her eyes open while I am talking to her (and we know I am NOT THAT boring).
6. I am tired because I waited up for her to get home last night.

So even though she is 8and 1/2 I am making her take a nap before tennis clinic this afternoon. Guess what..........

She started crying about that too!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How about this?

Alright commenters...let me know about this change.

Before I met Steve, I liked to do new years resolutions. I liked to write 10 new things in my journal that I was going to change/accomplish/etc. during the up and coming year. When I met Steve, he brought up a good point. Why wait until a new year to change something that you want to change. Why not start when you think of it. Good point dear. So I think I will...

My New Year's Resolution is going to be to try and post at least one good thing that happens to me everyday. Since I tend to be a negative person, I've decided to start trying to find the good things in my day instead of stewing about the bad. Now I'm not at all saying my cynicism will be gone. But amidst my sarcastic blathering I am going to include one good thing that happens in my day.

So since the day is only half way over...I will not post any good things yet.

However, I will say with a loud Hooray, that we finally purchased a new car. It is not new really, but new to us. It is a 2005 Honda Odyssey. It is just great and is wonderful to be behind the wheel of a car I feel safe in. We got a pretty good deal on it and the kids are excited about the DVD player. I, being the die hard pessimist, am nervous about something going wrong. But for the time being, we have a really nice, safe, van that the insurance almost paid for in full!! Hooray for AAA insurance.

In other news, my girls are going to see Hannah Montana tomorrow night. Are my girls spoiled? Yes, they are. IS their mother so excited to be able to give them this opportunity, even though she can't afford to go with them? Yes, she is.

By the way, for all of the sarcastic comments I make about my poor husband. Let me say once and for all...he is a great man. People on this side of heaven will never know all he does and all he puts up with. I think people who really know him, I mean really know him (people outside of church) know that he is a talented man that is often taken for granted and misunderstood. And no matter what, I'm thankful that he has put up with me for all of these years. Because I'm no picnic when things are not going the way I think they should.

I will post again later.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fiddler on the Roof May Be Too Sophisticated for Kids

I like the black, but I understand that most don't. I appreciate the feed back. I thought it was nice to have something different. I am still searching for a new look, so stay tuned.

In other news...I took my children to see "Fiddler on the Roof." It is not really a kids' play. ...Not because it was inappropriate at all. ...Just because it was too sophisticated for their little minds. They enjoyed some of the dancing, but had no idea what a "Matchmaker" was and why that was important. About midway through the play, Kayci leaned over and asked "Mama, we're Jewish right?" Trying to be as quiet as possible because there were others actually into the play I responded with, "No, we are Christians." She said, "Ohhhh, they don't have Jesus in their heart." And with that she went back to sucking her thumb and trying to find a comfortable position in her theater seat. Courtney sat on my lap the whole time. She was not still for more than 15 second intervals. She did manage to pinch my arm between hers and the chair rest which always hurts more than one would think. She hit her head against my chin twice and dug her heels into the tops of my thighs more times than I can count. But I'm not complaining because she was actually quiet through the entire play and only asked to use the restroom during the appropriate time of intermission. I was very impressed with this. Haley brought her friend Katie and even though these two may be two of the smartest 8 year olds on the planet, this play did not hold their attention very well. They exercised extreme self control and sat still through the entire thing. They didn't make a lot of noise and kept their conversation quiet and on topic. They were even polite to the people that invited us and said "Thank You Very Much." Of course as a mother I was very proud.

It was a nice Sunday afternoon outing. Not one I would soon repeat, but a memory even still. And one question: Does anyone remember when eating out was a treat? I remember when my parents took us to McDonalds it was a big treat and there were no complaints. Today trying to get 4 girls to agree on where we were going to eat a quick lunch almost did me in. Seriously. I had to pull into a parking lot and shift into park and calmly explain that we could only go to one place. So if they didn't like my suggestion, they needed to agree. We ended up at KFC. Then the ordering started. I really like to go to In-N-Out just because there aren't that many choices. As if KFC doesn't have enough choices; this particular KFC was coupled with an A & W Root beer store too. So after spending 15 minutes deciding where to eat and 20 minutes ordering we had about 10 minutes to eat and get to the play. Fast food was not meant to be swallowed and not chewed. There were weird smells coming from the row we were in in the theater and I think I know why.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What do You Think?

I changed the look of my blog site. Obviously.

What do you think? I am open to suggestions. I may not take them, but I'm open to them anyway.

I kind of like the dark look. It is representative of the war raging inside my mind at all times.

Not really...I'm not sure why I like the dark look. Maybe just because it's different. I may change it again. I have a friend who has a blog site that is awesome. She has slide shows and music and great little vignettes. Maybe I will ask her to teach me to make mine cool like that. I will also get her permission to post her site here. I think if you like my site, you will LOVE hers.

Cleaning is Something I should do more often

I have let my kids' rooms get out of control. I am ashamed to admit it, but it is very true...and even actually a little funny. I decided yesterday was going to be the day that I tackled my youngest two children's room. What started out as a well intentioned thorough cleaning, full of enthusiasm and high expectations, ended with a crazy woman purging toys and other objects that were found in their rooms by the trash bag full. I couldn't believe the mismatching toys, parts of games, used pull-ups, single socks, occasional pair of Elmo panties, or other various odds and ends that I found in there. It was actually like a treasure hunt, but imagine a treasure hunt where you would rather not find what was buried under all the toys.

Here are the top ten "best" things that I was surprised to find in my kids room:

1. Missing pieces from Candyland game
2. One domino (How have we even been playing the game without this one domino?)
3. 14 pencils
4. 4 markers with no caps
5. 9 socks, none of them with matches
6. 27 ponytail holders
7. 2 Dried out packages of wipes
8. smashed-into-my-carpet cherry lip balm (birthday gift to Courtney)
9. an old wet pull up sealed inside a plastic bin...the smell when I opened this bin was...well you can imagine

and the best thing that I found in my kids room was......

10. A sippy cup half full of chocolate milk from a week ago!! Yummy!! There really isn't anything better than finding soured milk. It is something I wish I could experience daily.

Number 10 was especially amusing to me because the kids are not allowed to even take water out of the kitchen, much less anything that actually spoils. I think I have lost control completely.

I actually believe that most of these findings were a result of Courtney's newest phase of rebelliousness. I say "No," and she hears, "Sure do what you want; you are the princess in this house." She is definitely scoring some good blog points these days. If I only had time to write about all of them.

So in conclusion I would like to invite everyone over to see Kayci and Courtney's clean room. After 3 hours of deep cleaning, the bio hazard people have declared it livable again. If you do come and visit please don't look at any other room in the house, or at the top of my fans. I'm doing the best I can while still maintaining my heavy television schedule. This includes, but is not limited to, 3different CSI episodes per week, HOUSE, and WITHOUT A TRACE. I am a loyal fan, and the casts of all these shows depend on my faithfulness.

Someone should be able to count on me. Right?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This IS NOT very funny...but still true

This is the reason my blog has been stagnant this week. This is just one side of my precious van. The other side is equally scarey as well as the back from being rear-ended by not only someone behind me, but also by the girl who hit me in the first place. She bounced off the front; spun around and hit me again. All because she didn't have a drivers license and she thought red meant go. I'm still kind of in shock about the whole thing and really have nothing but negative things to say about life and what treats continue to come my way.
Ok, there is one bright spot. Neither Haley nor I were severly injured. The officer on scene said if we'd been in a smaller car we could have been killed. So three cheers for mini vans!!
Steve once again did not answer his phone, (and I really can't write about this without putting my fingers through the keyboard) but I found out the depth of friendships I had by those who stopped to help. God really sent special people to help me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Words Hurt

How do you communicate this little fact to children? Why is it that they say horrible things to people without thought for the pain their words may cause? As someone who is overly sensitive anyway, I find it hard to believe that my offspring can be so hurtful to others sometime. And lets be honest, embarrassing to me!!

About a month ago, my sweet little 3 year old Courtney was jabbering about to a stranger. We were at a country club watching my sister give tennis lessons. Courtney was being her usual "shy" self and was impressing this man with her command of the English language. I was partially listening, measuring the level of annoyance from this patient stranger. When all of a sudden she said, "Hey, you know what? Brown people are bad guys." The look on the guys face said it all. His instant conclusion was, "Oh, this is one of THOSE type of families...white supremacist or those trying to make sure our borders stay closed and "brown people" are forced to go back from where they came." I swallowed hard and said, "What did you say Courtney?" (Why I wanted her to repeat it...I'm not sure...I was hoping that I heard wrong or that my apparent surprise would assuage any incorrect conceptions this man may have already drawn.). She giggled and said, "Brown people are bad guys right mom?" I quickly walked away and said over my shoulder, "Whose kid is that anyway?" I wonder whatever happened to that impertinent child.

Instance number two:

This past weekend my three children were left with my mother, then my grandmother (Gigi), then my mother-in-law. The variety alone may have been too much for my precious little girls, but it was necessary so I could go and be a pastor's wife for a weekend retreat. (I think this needs a blog all by itself...stay tuned). While staying in the care of my mother, Gigi (pictured above) came over to watch them while my mom played tennis one morning. Upon entering my house both Kayci and Courtney started laughing. My grandma, so thrilled to see these little angels, said, "What's so funny sweet girls?" At which time Courtney, allegedly repeating what Kayci had just said, blurted out, "You're fat." To which my grandma simply replied, "Oh, ok." When I asked Kayci why she said it in the first place she replied that she thought it would be funny. I really don't even want to keep writing. I'm so humiliated and so hurt for my grandma. My grandma, surprisingly said that she thought it was no big deal and very funny. She had a good attitude about it, but I have decided that my children will be given a script everyday of the things they can say and who they may speak to. Deviation from this script will require some kind of consequences. They obviously need this kind of control.

So in the future you will see my children walking along with a written out script of what they can say. If they don't talk to you, just feel lucky. They would have probably called you a bad guy, fat, old, balding, or any other insecurity you may have. My kids seem to think that kind of stuff is funny.

I have failed. (It's only funny if I say it first.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

For Female Readers ONLY

The annual exam. Is there anything worse? Really. I know there are tragedies that happen in this life, but is there anything worse than this event, that we purposely, and healthfully put ourselves through? I have just returned from one such exam and feel pretty good that I will wait another 4 years before entering those doors again. While the paper vest and sheet they provide are considerate, the vulnerability and utter humiliation I feel as I maneuver these "clothes" into the most modest position is borderline unbearable. My particular doctor loves that he and I have tennis in common and while probing areas I like to keep private; he discusses things like his serve versus my net game. Is my backhand or forehand better? Meanwhile sweat is trickling out of my armpits, making giant, visible drops on the nice paper shirt they have given me to wear. I'm pretty certain the pulse reading and blood pressure reading are inaccurate because my fight or flight response is really kicking into high gear. Do I kick nice doctor in the face or do I take off running out of the office warning other woman what is going on behind these innocently closed doors, precariously holding my paper goods in the most appropriate spots? It is quite the dilemma. So while I will keep the details personal, because you all know what goes on, the experience seemed blog worthy because the whole ordeal arises empathy in even the toughest of souls... if you are a woman. If you are a man and still reading this...shame on you...but at least I don't have to get my prostate checked. Ha! Ha!

The best part of the exam was when he said, "You weigh the same amount now that you did six weeks after giving birth to your third child." That was four years this an insult or a congratulations, or just sheer incredulity? I choose to take it as an insult, but realize there is not a thing I can do about it. This may be what I weigh for the rest of my life. However, there are worse things he could have "You're Pregnant." Oh hallelujah he didn't say that. Hallelujah!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Serving our Purpose

For those of us left behind and in honor of my grandpa James Alford Blundell:

How many prayers have gone up over the years, asking, no begging for us to have more time with grandpa? And how many times was that prayer graciously answered? I think back to all of the medical crisis that God has amazingly saved my grandpa from and wanted to shout, “Just one more time God!! Just one more time.” I found myself thinking after speaking with my mom, “I’m not ready.” “This was so unexpected.” The reason I was feeling like this is because when it was expected, and when I had prepared myself, God miraculously saved my grandpa and all was well in my world. So what was different this time? Was God indifferent? Did he turn a deaf ear to my cries? The answer is simple. God is never indifferent to my pain, nor does he ignore the prayers of his kids. But I am reminded yet again about where to place my hope. God promises always to calm the storm. He calms my storm this time by reminding that each life has an ordained termination point. Grandpa had a full life. He was given more time then we at first expected. We all had time to say good-bye at various times. He died knowing that his kids and grandkids loved him so much. It was time for Grandpa to go. Therefore it is time for me to release him.

The Bible says in Acts, “When David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.” The reason I bring up this verse is to highlight the part that says “served God’s purpose in his own generation.” Oh, to be able to embrace the fact that we are here, serving a purpose…God’s purpose in our generation. Grandpa served God’s purpose in his generation. We all have stories of what that purpose was, but it can be summed up in a few statements. Grandpa loved hard work, he loved his family, and he loved God. Now where is the purpose in this you may ask? All three of these require an act, a determined act, a purposeful act. Using Newton’s First Law of Motion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Basically this means there is a response. So while Grandpa acted on his purpose, lives around him were moved, were impacted and were changed. You could not find a member of grandpa’s family that doesn’t know how to, and appreciate hard work. And while grandpa showed his love in a tough kind of way; there isn’t one of us who didn’t know he loved us with his whole being. And one only has to look at his library to realize that his love for God grew with each day longer God aloud him to have. And speaking for myself, that is a goal I have in my life. So while Grandpa simply fulfilled his purpose in his generation, those of us closest to him were forced to change. That was Grandpa’s purpose: to mold the next three generations. Yes, his purpose reached as far as 3 generations. I’m so glad God had a purpose for Grandpa’s life. I’m so grateful that that purpose included marrying the best wife in the world and being daddy to my mom. I’m so thankful that I know how to drive a pick-up truck on dirt roads, kill a snake if necessary with a hoe, and play dominoes with the most serious of domino players. He gave me my first taste of sugar cane, laughed that silent laugh that shook his whole body when I said something funny, and always, even in his last days, wanted to know how I was feeling, how my breathing was and if I was taking care of myself. Obviously this list is abbreviated, but this is just MY list. Everyone that knew grandpa has a story of how his purpose impacted their lives.

In conclusion the book of Hebrews is full of statements of faith, “By faith Abraham…, by faith Moses, …, by faith the people passed through the Red Sea, by faith the walls of Jericho fell… by faith Rahab…and others are mentioned. I would like to add Grandpa to this list and write his faith statement: “By Faith James Alford Blundell married and stayed married, worked and worked hard, and served his family and his country with all that was in him. “So therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” …and serve God’s purpose in our generation.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bathrooms Across America

The title lends itself to a false conclusion. We actually didn't venture across America, but only 1000 miles from our cozy home in California to the gorgeous expanse of Estes Park, Colorado. (I actually find myself wondering why people choose to live in California versus Colorado, but here we are and here we stay.)

However, along this 1000 miles of highway I encountered something I never anticipated discovering. Before I disclose this marvelous epiphany, let me set it up like this. From the first time you change a diaper of your precious baby, you fantasize about the time in the future when diapers will no longer be a part of your life. From simple "wet" diapers, to full out explosions that climb up the back of your tiny, helpless child, the hope that someday diapers will be a thing of the past keeps you changing that one last diaper. The stench of dirty diapers can be muted by the knowledge, that someday, somehow, you will only REMEMBER diapers, not be an active participant with the diapers. Well folks, after 8 years of such occurrences in my life I finally waved diapers good bye. Jubilantly I bragged to my friends that I no longer had to change a diaper. But with all good news, comes a small bit of bad news. The bad news I discovered on this trip.

I have never been inside more bathrooms in so many different locations in my life. I think we visited 8, 451, 901 bathrooms on this trip to and from Colorado. I tried to make sure the kids all went to the bathroom at logical stops like the gas stations or the food establishments. But never could we make it all the way between these stops without having to make an emergency stop at some other restroom along the way. I have to say the best bathrooms were in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. We stopped here to walk along the river and hike a trail. (The hiking thing is also an issue I would like to discuss at a later time). These bathrooms were exemplary in their looks, smells, and over all cleanliness. This surprised me, and is worth mentioning, because it was a bathroom along a river where people rode bikes and hiked. I expected a mess, really, of carelessly unflushed toilets and moist floors. However, these characteristics inhabited most food establishments. I couldn't believe how disgusting bathrooms were in food places. It made me not want to eat; and made my stomach churn when I would hear those fateful words: "Mom, I gotta go potty." These words I wanted to hear for so long...struck fear through my body when I heard them. Fear in the sense, that I never knew what was going to be on the other side of the door marked "WOMEN."

Some toilets, usually at places that only had one toilet in total, were way to high for my tiny girls. So I found myself having to maneuver them onto the toilets avoiding any unnecessary touching of anything around the toilet. Then holding them on the toilet while reaching for the toilet paper to then figure out the best course for wiping. This again, while avoiding any touching of other bathroom paraphernalia that may have been present. It was a sight; I now wish I had taken pictures. Most places had the "motion sensitive" water and paper towels, that just confirmed to me over and over...I am actually invisible.

The trip was good...and thankfully there were no accidents...several close calls...a couple of tense moments...but no accidents. I am thankful that my girls are potty trained, but I considered more than once putting them all in diapers just for the rode trip part of the vacation. Would that have been wrong?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My mind is so full...

Sometimes I click on my blog site just to see if someone else has posted something interesting. I know this isn't possible, but some deep, needy part of me hopes that someone else might write on here . I know it is disheartening to look on here day after day and see the same title; meaning no new posts. For this I apologize. Life gets busy. It's not that I don't have things to say. Those among you who know me best, know that I am never at a loss of things to say. However, you may also know that given the choice, at the end of a long day, to write or lay on the couch and stare mindlessly at the TV or post the contents of my brain...99% of the time I will lay on the couch.

I really don't have time to be writing currently. We are leaving for a family vacation tomorrow and I still need to finish laundry, pack, mow the lawn and clean the house. (I really don't like to come home to a messy house so I have to stay up all night cleaning before I leave.) I am extremely weird, and I have never claimed otherwise. I figured if I wrote some stuff, maybe, just maybe I could stop feeling stressed and unfocused. (These may be two huge parts of my personality, but I am certain I can conquer them with a brain enema onto this blog).

As I sit here I can see out of the corner of my eye a large pile of cereal on the floor. Courtney tried to pour her own cereal this morning and well, she can't do it. Thus explaining the pile. Now it is 5:00 pm and I still haven't cleaned it up. This is concerning. Mostly because I forgot about it until just now. Maybe I'll get one of the kids to clean it up.

I don't really like cell phones. I like that I can talk to people when I'm driving or doing something else. But I don't like that I can't see the expression on people's face when I'm talking to them or know what's going on around them. I wonder, "Are they really listening? Or are they reading a book while talking on the phone?" Maybe no one else thinks this way, but maybe you all should. I may not be listening when I'm on the phone with you.

Here is a question that I need an answer to. Is it more cost effective to set your thermostat at 80 degrees all day so the air comes on and off all day or let it get to 85 degrees in the house and turning on the air at the end of the day just to cool off the house? I do the latter, but I'm wondering if I should just set it and leave it.

Maybe there will be a more focused post later...I just remembered I haven't written about the fact that Steve and I just celebrated 11 glorious years of marriage. That deserves a post for sure.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I know Two in One Day is too much Jenn

I was just sitting here thinking. I don't think enough accolades are given to fresh grown tomatoes. I just really love these things.

Now that I am taking a nutrition class I have become very interested in the food I eat and the food I serve my children. While the meals around home (I am not addressing in this blog the amount of times we eat out) tend to be pretty healthy (with the occassional mac-n-cheese and chicken nuggets thrown in) and the activity level around here is a constant I am concerned about the 13 pounds of baby weight I can't seem to shake. So I am doing an experiment. Join me if you'd like. Instead of just eating when it is meal time, I am eating nutrient dense snacks whenever I am hungry. I am active and hungry most of the time. But because of my upbringing, rarely snack. So i have started cutting up tomatoes to snack on all day along with a handful of almonds or peanuts. I'm finding I eat about every 2 hours, but I am a lot more delightful to be around and I don't feel starved by the time the meal comes. The goal is not necessarily to lose weight as much as it is to lose that unsightly half-spare tire that hangs out very conspicuously along the back side of my hips. That's where the fat likes to hang out and it's difficult to exercise that particular area.

I thought about including a before picture and following it up with an after picture in 3 months or so. But no one is getting a look at these "love" handles...NO ONE!!! Please feel free to post suggestions or other comments relating to this new endeavor. However, if you just want to give a shout out to home-grown tomatoes, then do that too.

By the way are those cages?

Super Size Me

While the movie “Super Size Me,” has had an impression on people across the country, I would submit that it is disturbing that we needed a documentary to remind us that the food we are eating is actually killing us. It really doesn’t take much of an IQ to realize that fried and processed foods may taste better, but no one actually feels good after eating them. I found the movie to be an arduous account of the obvious. It was interesting, at first, to see the down hill spiral of health, the steady incline of weight and cholesterol, and the general malaise of the main character directly related to his food consumption. However, it soon became frustrating as the point continued to be made. I appreciated the added commentaries on junk food in America and was deeply disturbed by the lack of consideration being given to students when presenting their lunch choices. The interviews done with food professionals and advertisers were really enlightening. I never really stopped to consider the fact that kids really are bombarded from all sides regarding the types of food they eat. They are not just bombarded, but they are purposeful targets. That is disheartening when admittedly those putting forth these advertisements say they are part of the “obesity” problem in America. How is it that we are part of a society that actually and literally puts the value of a dollar ahead of the preservation of the health of our citizens and our young people? A documentary should be done on the possible outcomes of a society so money hungry that they forget to preserve even themselves. Forget global warming and other debatable topics, and tackle the big issue of “We are Killing Ourselves…one Processed Food Item at a Time.”
My family, unfortunately, eats out quite a bit. The excuses are long, but we are busy is the main one. Driving through someplace and eating on the way is a “kill two birds with one stone,” type of attitude for us. I pride myself though on staying away from hamburger places and driving through the much healthier alternative (read with strong sarcasm) Del Taco or The Hat. This film has definitely made me more concerned about what I am doing to my little girls. (Cue triumphant music here) It’s probably too late for me, the damage is done, but my kids still have a fighting chance at a healthy life style and I have to be the person who exemplifies this healthier life style. (Sigh) The reality is, I will do my best to be better prepared for meals on the run…but sometimes (hanging my head in defeat) it’s the only alternative to not eating at all. I want to do better and I think a realistic goal would be to only allow fast food one day a week as opposed to our normal 20 times.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Day Belonging to Fathers

Let me say a few words about my Dad. I used to say that my dad was the most perfect man to walk the earth, besides Jesus. He didn't like it when I said that. I used to say that my dad was a very patient man. He doesn't like that either, because it turns out in some cases he's not patient at all. (especially in instances of changing brakes, people chewing loudly, high school chem/physics or double faulting). I used to be amazed at how he handled a household full of emotional women. And to that I can say a resounding...I'm still amazed. I don't know how he did it without killing us all...slowly. I am still astounded by the fact that he made me and my sisters such a huge priority in his life. I took for granted that's how every one's dad was. It turns out I was among the lucky ones. I think the job of dad is hard. I've never been one, but I'm married to one. I think it must be hard to balance it all. The stress of work, the pressures of being a man, and then trying to meet the emotional needs of the family. It must be hard. My dad made it look easy. He still does. He is an amazing dad to me still. He's an outstanding grandpa (Papaw). It just seems to come naturally to him. He was created to be a positive influence on kids and he embraced that calling with everything in him. My sisters and I all knew how to hit a baseball, a tennis ball, and a golf ball. We could throw a football pretty well at young ages. And he tucked us in every night, inspite of how tired he must have been most of the time.

Now in all fairness I have to say that the reason my dad could spend the time he did with us was because my mom is a supermom. She did it all and made life flow easily. She encouraged my dad to be a dad to us girls and that meant not always getting her due. It definitely was a team effort with those two.

So happy father's day to those who wear the title dad so proudly. Your calling is among the highest there are. Don't give up on the bad days and be encouraged on the good days. As my dad says a lot, "Finish strong!!"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Good Advice from Kayci Beth

This is a direct quote from my second born,

"Mom, I brushed my hair. You know what? You should always take your ponytail out of your hair before you go to bed. You know why? Because in the morning you might have syrup for breakfast and it might get in your hair and you won't be able to get the ponytail holder out of your hair."

Good advice Kayci.

Now faithful friends, family members and lurkers: Apply this advice to your individual lives as you see fit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

She will bleed to death and then die

The origins of this title are an inside joke between my mom, dad and I. I'm sure they are smiling, my dad may even be using his real laugh. I know it makes no sense to anyone else, but it is my blog and I think it is funny. (Yes, someone bleeding to death and then dying is humorous to me. I will be a great nurse someday).

As far as things that really gross me out...this seems to be an important question to those who find out I want to be a nurse. I have found two things that actually make me blink and look away briefly: someone getting hit in the head repeatedly with an object accompanied by sound effects and someone getting their teeth cleaned. That's about it. I don't gross out easily, but those two occurrences make me feel a little weird.

I have also written much about the importance of friends and family. I love my friends and family (some fall into both categories). However, let me tell you what I don't like about some people who claim to be friends: bad tennis calls, saying that a tennis match that I legitimately won was "given to me," and guilt trips over things out of my control. I can handle pretty much anything else...but these things make me react poorly. Usually with a flood of tears or some other such awesome, powerful response like that.

I cooked salmon last night for the first time. I decided hot dogs and chicken nuggets may be stunting my children's growth and development so I decided to try something healthy. I asked my sister for help and she is quite resourceful. However, I ended up having to look in a cookbook. Once I found the recipe, I discovered that the only thing I had in common with the recipe was the actual salmon and an oven. So here are the substitutions I made: (Please note that I tried extremely hard to at least find similar ingredients)
The recipe called for basil: I substituted garlic powder
The recipe called for dill: I substituted Lawry's season salt
The recipe called for Tarragon: I substituted pepper
The recipe called for butter: I substituted margarine (broiled for 5 minutes on each side)

The amazing thing was it was delicious. My kids even liked it. Steve actually said, "This is good." Which is huge because food is, "Not a big deal, " to him. And he doesn't just throw around compliments like he does musical ideas. So feel free to try this recipe. It was great.

I visited my grandparents in Oklahoma a week ago. I am so blessed. We had a great time together. Let me tell you, there is a lot of open space there. "Plenty of room to swing a rope...plenty of heart and plenty of hope!"

Friday, May 25, 2007 middle child

We are entering a new phase with this little one. She is five, though she will tell you she is 6. She is the most tender of my three girls, but the most sneaky and devious. She loves me dearly, but I'm pretty certain she thinks I'm an idiot. This will be exemplified in the following soliloquy. We have had a rough week. We, Kayci and I, have grown in both respect and fear of each other this week. For this I can only say, I'm glad this week is over and she is still alive.

The first occurrence this week is titled, "I Can Sleep With Gum in my Mouth and Mom will Never Know It." Anyone with children knows that gum is a treat straight from heaven for kids. Especially the type that makes bubbles. If I have a pack of gum anywhere in the near vicinity of my children I am bombarded with three, "Can I have gum?" questions. Of course, being the kind and gentle mother I am, I relinquish my "stash" of gum to my sweet little girls. The rule is: If I see it or hear it, it's in the trash. Usually the girls are good about it. Before naps I say, "Spit out your gum; if you fall asleep with it in your mouth you could choke or worse it could get caught in your hair." (Yes, that is worse than choking in my opinion because getting gum out of hair is torture for both parties). This particular day I yelled my usual request, double checked with a loud "Did everyone spit out their gum?" To which was responded an enthusiastic trio of "Yes!" This is where I begin to show why Kayci thinks I'm an idiot. You won't believe this is true, but I was here and it happened. Two hours pass and my beautiful sleepy girl, Kayci comes stumbling out of her room. I love the tussled hair and sheet lined faces. I gather her up into a warm embrace and notice that her hair is not innocently tussled, but strangely matted in place on one side. "Matted with what?" you ask in surprise. Gum. Yes, blasted gum. Here's the kicker though. I asked Kayci if she slept with gum in her mouth and she looked me straight in the eye and said "No, I put it in the trash." I don't remember much after this point except she now has a short spot on her head and she is not allowed to have gum for a very long time.

Picking pieces off plants is a new fun past time for this child, we call Kayc Baycer. (pronounced case baser). At the place at which I play tennis, the grounds are immaculately groomed. Every beautiful flower and bush is strategically placed to make the grounds just gorgeous. The spread of color is well plotted and well planned. The crew it must take to keep this place looking like something out of the Huntington Gardens must be extensive. Kayci decided to pick a couple of leaves off of some nicely sculpted hedges...I think they are in the shape of bears. I firmly told her to not do that, clearly, I thought, explaining that a lot of hard work goes into making everything look nice. You may think, "What's the big deal Jenn, it's just a couple of leaves." To this I laugh haughtily and say, "It never stops there." Sure enough within literal minutes of my very detailed and eloquent dissertation on "Why we Don't pull leaves off of People's Plants," she pulled an entire stock (about 3 ft long) of a not yet fully bloomed purple flower. The end of the stalk was actually dripping plant juice. With this plant juice I traumatized my child by saying, "You see this dripping? This is like blood Kayci. You killed it!" Her response, "Mom do you love me more than you love plants?" ....Maybe I am an idiot.

Today after a week long battle to keep the kids out of the cookies we had left over from the soccer party, I accidentally left the cookies on the table overnight. Sweet Kayci, after getting herself dressed, throwing away her pull up, nicely laying out clothes for her sister and snuggling up with me, said, "Mom, I think you should put the cookies in a higher place so none of us will sneak any." At this time I looked down at this angelic face: beautiful brown eyes, cute little dimples and Oreo crumbs surrounding her little perfect mouth. "Kayci," I said calmly, "Did you have a cookie?" She carefully calculated her response. I could see her 5 year old mind working hard to come up with a worthy retort. She stuck that precious thumb in her mouth and nodded innocently and said, "Go ahead and spank me...I couldn't help myself...Mom, this is what kids do." My swat...all is forgiven.

In summary: I love this kid. Soooo much. She makes my life better just being in it.

Monday, May 21, 2007

8 minutes

Please take 8 minutes and 48 seconds to watch the following clip. Oh to have such an impact for Christ!! Thanks JRG for sending it to me.


The following takes place between the years 1973 and 2007...

In honor of the 24 season finale tonight I thought I would start my birthday blog off with a familiar segue; however, that's really the only parallel I can think of between my life and the show I so love. But that won't keep me from trying to continue this allegory throughout this blog. It's my blog, so I can TRY anything I want.

The most inviting and addicting thing about my favorite show 24 is the non-stop adventure, cliff-hangers, plot twists and sheer intrigue of the characters. In comparing that to my life over the last 34 years I can easily relate. My life has been a non-stop adventure: from the first time I tried to ride a bike, to learning how to drive a stick-shift with my mother in the car, to leaving for college, to getting married, to having kids and to has been one exciting turn after another, sometimes full of welcome and other times unfortunate plot twists. Has it been much different than others' lives? No. But for me, so far, I can't think of a dull moment.

Cliff hangers are also very prevalent in my 34 years. I really feel like I'm hanging from a cliff most of the time. And seriously, if one more kid asks me for a snack, I am letting go!! It seems like I have found security in hanging from this cliff. Making those closest to me wonder, "Will she make it through this?" or "Why in the world does she continue to hang onto THAT cliff?" or "She has been hanging from that cliff forever...she should try swimming instead." The unknown is attractive to me. I think that is why I like the show 24 so much. I love saying, "Will Jack make it out of this one?" Of course he always does. And so far, I've made it through most of my cliff hangers. No, I'm not being chased by terrorists, but I am being bombarded with little tiny requests everyday that threaten to turn me into what could strike fear into even the fiercest terrorist, a crazy Mother.

And there have definitely been interesting characters along the way. I could write pages on the characters that have influenced my life both for the good and some for the bad. However, I should highlight the important ones that have contributed to the fact that I am still alive and trying to hang from the above mentioned cliffs. PKS, JRS, JRG, and little've known me the longest have seen me through most cliffs and still continue to cheer me on. Here's to at least one more season!! Diana Berry, long time friend, teacher of how to keep cabinets closed, and how to play should receive an Emmy for the role you have had in this show. My slightly liberal friend and blatant answer to a desperate prayer...thanks for pulling me back up off the cliff I was on 3 years ago. To my swim coaches both past and present...letting go of some cliffs sometimes, just lands me in the water that you have taught (and are teaching) me to swim in. Let's just hope I can survive the fall. Then there is the man closest to me who has taught me what true loyalty is. A lesson that I could have only learned from you. Last but not least is my Savior...who has seen me through every cliff hanger, every "intriguing" character, and every plot twist in the 34 years. I'm so thankful that the director of this show loves me and wants the best for me.

So in summary... as I write from my current cliff I am content. In 34 years, I have learned a lot, and continue to learn. I think in another 34 years I won't even know where the nearest cliff is and I will be making a million requests to my children who will be forced to listen to my assessment of their lives and how they can get off the cliffs they are hanging from. Oh, how much fun that will be!!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Day Belonging to Mothers

Mother's day is tomorrow, and I would like to dedicate this particular blog to some of the mother's I know. If this is done correctly, my faithful readers should be able to find themselves somewhere in this tribute. However, I would like to first say, in all honesty, it really is Mother's Day everyday. Not that I always feel celebrated, not that I receive cards, and not that I am even noticed all that often, but everyday my primary personality (of which those closest to me know I have several) is that of mother. The apostrophe in Mother's indicates that the day belongs to the mother. When something belongs to someone, that someone controls most aspects of that thing to which belongs to that someone. (This is completely clear!) Most days are somewhat in my control, so therefore everyday is mother's day. Right? My decisions are ALL made around my persona of mother. And everyday from start to finish is based on my role as mother. The schedule is set by me, the routine is set by me, the jobs are done by me, the shopping is done by me, the food choices are made by me, the day really is ALL ABOUT ME. (Ha!!) Therefore, everyday is Mother's Day. A day that literally means Day belonging to the Mother. That's my exegesis on the Day Belonging to Mothers.

Mother #1...JRG. Oh how I admire this particular mother. There are few mothers in the world that will actually admit that this is the life they always wanted, and this is what they were created for. But JRG is one of those mothers. She should have about a dozen kids, because she is perfectly crafted for the job. Her organization, patience, and desire to do what she can to make her kids' lives better are just a few of the qualities she has that make her a brilliant mom.

Mother #2...PKS This particular mother I am especially fond of. No one has ever loved me more. No one has sacrificed more because of me. I'm sure she feels invisible sometimes, but no one has shaped my life more or influenced my abilities as a mother more than this mother. She is my mom and I love her more today than ever in my life.

Mother #3...JSP This mother is a faithful friend as well as a mother to two small kids. I am thankful everyday for this mother and so proud to call her friend. Her priorities are her kids; hands down, no question and I admire that in her. Hang in gets easier.

Mother #4...TJC Another faithful friend and precious mother. I always marvel at her ability to focus on what is important when it comes to her kids. She doesn't stress about the small stuff; she pours her life into making each day a fun adventure for her 3 kids. I love her attitude toward life and try to emulate it in my own.

Mother #5...LMB I don't know how this mother does it, but she deserves every reward there is. She is a mother to four energetic kids and devotes her life to making a happy home for them and their dad. I admire how she handles the pressures of being a mother with such grace. She is a constant encouragement to me in her devotion toward making the lives of her family members full of joy. She is an example of strength that is not often found in this life.

Hats off to those of you who call yourself mom. Speaking of wear many. Wear them with pride. You are needed and appreciated everyday. You are not invisible. You are valued. One day "your children will rise up and call you blessed."

Happy Day Belonging to Mothers.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Black Coffee

This is a story about my friends. I use the term friends with a reverence not communicated well through writing, because these people may be some of the greatest people I have ever known. Since I am insecure enough to worry about others finding these people and stealing them from me I will change their names.

We all spent a wonderful weekend in Palm Springs. We ate; we laughed; we laughed more; we played a weird game of tennis, boxing, and "mess your neighbor." We hiked ; though Funny Coordinator Guy insisted it was just a walk. If walk means watching your step carefully so as not to trip on a rock or having to catch your breath frequently because of the steady incline and higher altitude then yes, we walked. Walk also must mean developing a steady headache from dehydration and altitude sickness. Apparently walking also means arriving at a place that could be called the top of the world with a spectacular view of God's unrivaled handiwork. I of course didn't mind the "walk" because I was able to bombard my favorite Doctor with tons of medical questions. It was strange that he seemed to get more tired then me...could it have been how much talking I was forcing him to do. was just a walk right? For some reason this particular walk made me more tired than most walks I've been on. Maybe is was the special walking backpack I insisted on carrying. But at least it wasn't a hike...then I would have been mad. Furious actually!

We ate a wonderful dinner on top of that mountain. The food was pricey, but delicious. The best part of the meal however was collecting the money for the $400+ bill. I've never been so relaxed and calm as when Mr. Coordinator Guy and Ms. Flute Player looked high and low for a missing $100. I chuckled to myself as I figured out where the money was, but thought it would be funny not to tell them. (this is a joke of course...I thought you knew where it was...I really did). Group meals are so great, until the check comes. Then I always feel I should excuse myself and hang out in the bathroom until the bill is paid. I actually think Mr. Coordinator guy was skimming some off of the top to afford himself a spa treatment after our simple "walk." The money was found and everyone ran off of the top of that mountain like they knew something the rest of us didn't. Coordinator Guy, Flute Player, Beautiful Sister, Photo Girl and myself all stayed and watched a thrilling movie about a talking tram. Really it talked. We learned a lot and enjoyed a breathtaking view of the valley at night. Really awesome.

Sneaky Trumpet Player surprised us all with a wonderful brunch we thought we were paying for ourselves. He tricked us all and we all pretended to be frustrated. What a guy!! Thanks Sneaky Trumpet Player.

After the rest of the group disbanded the diehard of us decided to go to the zoo in Palm Desert. The company was great, but the animals were sad. The butterfly place was extremely stressful as all of these "Flying Cockroaches," flew everywhere. I don't know how anyone could work in an environment like that. The butterfly employees must have extreme road rage and kick their dogs often. Photo Girl took many wonderful pictures (which I hope to so I need copies please). She insisted we always take our sunglasses off...our pictures will be squinty, but we'll all be glad that she thought of that. The best part of the day had to be being asked to stop watching an eagle eat its dinner. We were told it made the eagle nervous to be watched. To which Mr. Coordinator Guy softly replied, "Isn't this a zoo?" That was funny...very funny.

I'm sure I talked way too much and laughed too loud. My sides ache from the laughter. My mind is full from the knowledge I gained from Mr. Doctor and the talking tram. My heart is full with the blessings of calling all of you friend. Mrs. Blue Eyes I hope I gave you some new material for your book. I tried...I really tried.

Until next year... Have some Black Coffee unless of course you want cream with that.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kids and Pets

Today I was struck by something interesting. One of the highlights of motherhood so far has been having all of my children potty trained. After 8 years of changing diapers...I am glad to be on to the next phase of life. However, one of the low lights of motherhood so far has been the potty-trained-but-still-having accidents phase. I trust my kids to go on the potty everytime. Not most of the time. Everytime. So the times that they don't, I am shocked, surprised, and just plain ticked off.

Today we had one such occurrence. My precious 3rd child was actually putting her pull-up on for her nap and decided that the bathroom was just too far away or just a nuisance to use. So, while sitting on the floor posed to put on her pull-up she just peeed. (three e's in a word just doesn't look it a verb?) She didn't tell me though...that's the part that gives rise to my title "Kids and Pets." She just went potty on the floor, put on her pull-up, and got in bed for her nap. I found the yellowish puddle on the carpet and immediately thought of the dog. However, Faith had not been inside this morning. When I asked Courtney if she had gone potty on the floor she smiled her dazzling smile and said, "It just fell out of me." I quickly turned away to stifle laughter and then looked for something to clean up said mess. The only thing I could find among the carpet cleaning materials under my sink was "Woolite, Pet Stain and Odor Eliminator."

In are like pets...pets are like children...and the cleaning implements one has for either one is sufficient for each.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

It's 11:35

I should be sleeping...but I can't sleep. I have so much going on in my mind; I thought writing would help calm things down.

I have no topic of interest just some thoughts...

Why is the kitchen always a mess? And on a similar note...why is the clothes hamper always full?

Why is there always traffic when you are in a hurry and a strong tail wind when you don't want to get home?

Why are things worth doing difficult? For example, being married and being a mother...two hard things to do but very worth doing.

Why am I so anxious to get my single friends married? Is it any of my business? Should I even be trusted with someone else's life like that? I have my hands full!!

I think happily married means something a lot more than we ever thought it meant. I'm not sure what it means exactly...but I think it means something significant. Maybe happily ever after means something different then we thought too.

How do you know if you're doing it right. By "it" I mean being a mom. Do you really have to wait until your kids are grown to find out if you were a good enough mom? I'd really like to know if I'm doing it right now?

Why does God never give up on us? Why does He not throw His hands up in frustration and say, "That's it!! I give up!! You've used up all of your chances and I can't do anything with you!!"

....I'm so thankful that He doesn't give up, because I'm sure I'm way out of chances.

These are the questions that are keeping me awake this night.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

So many things to post.... little time

I'd like to talk first about the perfect day I had with my family. It was actually a scene straight out of a movie. You know the has one day where everyone gets along, the laughter is contagious, the games are exciting, the weather is perfectly scripted, the tone of the day is's a perfect day. Usually however, in the movies, something tragic happens the next day and they all think back to that perfect day that they all really appreciate now. ( I think of the "Little House on the Prairie," when Laura and Pa have one last fun day before she decides to runaway and bargain with God about taking her and returning her little brother Charles Jr. Or another one that comes to mind is the heartwarming scene in Lion King when Simba is chastised by his father Mufassa and then reminded of how much the King loves him and how he will be with him always...the next day he is tragically killed in a stampede of mindless water buffalo.)

My day was like that, except thankfully no one died the next day. I spent a perfect day with my family last Tuesday. A day that I will always remember as I basked in the unconditional love (and criticism) that only my family can offer. (Mom had a few things to say about me being a nurse...accolades about how clean my sister keeps her house...and kind suggestions on how to parent more effectively...all done with the love only my mom can bestow). The only negative part of the day (besides the kids complaining) was my sister JRG was sadly missing...tucked neatly away in the corner of this great country of ours. My mom, dad, JRS, and myself had a full day of tennis (this was totally JRS's idea...she is such a tennis nerd), Farkle, Hearts (I ran the cards once and I did it on purpose!), pizza, Baja Fresh and lots of laughs. We were all exhausted at the end, but it was a perfect day. The best part of the day had to be making my dad laugh his real just doesn't get better than that. I will never forget that day. I hope for more to come in the future.

In all honesty the best part of the day was beating my mom in tennis and winning a set off of my dad...I wasn't going to write about it and rub it in, but it felt good to be on the winning side of the court for once. I also want to thank JRS for the great tennis lesson...I'm better just for being on the court next to you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Baby Got "Back"

Once again my little sister has put her Irvine education to good use. You do us proud JRS...let us married ladies envy the free life you have.

Just a joke

Steve tried the country music circuit, but he was chewed up and spit out the other end into a lesser known genre called JAZZ.

Here I Am to Save the Day

As the older sister, I have been called upon several times to come to the aid of my little sisters. Though they are 30 and 27 respectfully, I still get called upon occasionally to help them in a life matter that I myself have already conquered. Julie, my middle sister has desperately called upon me for help with how I put together my children's stacking bins (made out of plastic covered metal) without killing those closest to me. Well Julie, here are the secrets to my success....

1. Before I start a project I make sure that all little humans are busily engaged on a task (video) that will take as long as my project so as to make sure there will be no interruptions at inopportune times (like when I've finally got the whole set of bins together and I try and move them to their spot and they crumble to the ground.)

2. To avoid the above mentioned occurrence, (crumbling bins) the second time I put the bins together I put them together in the closet. Yes, there are bruised elbows from maneuvering around closet doors, bruised knees from tiny parts of toys buried in the carpet near the closet, and frustration with the clothes hanging down over the work area. But besides these minor inconveniences, this is better than building the entire structure and it crumbling to the ground a second time.

3. I remember that the people who make these things don't necessarily expect them to ever be assembled completely. I know this because when I have put these bins together, they never fit exactly. 3/4 of it will fit together nicely. However, the other 1/4 are so misaligned that they require that the entire structure crumble to the ground to be correctly hooked together. Yes, this has happened to me and once again I was back at "square" one. (Punny I know!!)

4. Upon attempt number 4 to put it all together, I start the kids on another video since my time has already run out, and decide to divide bins into two complete structures. One for toys. One for shoes. Satisfied with my compromise and the successfully standing two structures, I precede to load my newly formed bins with what they were purchased for...the mounds of toys. These toys, though normally in the middle of the floor, strategically placed for utmost tripping and foot discomfort, will forever find their home on the beautiful wire bins, lovingly (and forcefully) put together by me.

5. At this point a small glass of wine or shot of some fast working liquor is necessary. (Let's be civilized and make sure it is well past mid morning before we use the alcohol). It wasn't the exact last toy that I placed on the bin, but it was close to it that caused it, for the last time, to come crumbling to the ground.

So my advice for you Julie is this: Good luck, get out the videos, and enjoy assembling these vile bins for the rest of your life. (About once a week when you do a thorough cleaning and attempt to stack all of the toys in their hoped for homes).