Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Super Powers, continued

Chrispea discussed super talents previously, and time travel, as DS commented, would be a great one. Supposing, though, that one had to choose among more modest selections than the ability to bend space and time to one's will, I think I'd like to the power to visualize function & vector spaces in more than three dimensions. Imagine knowing exactly what a hypercube looks like, or picturing in your head an infinite dimensional Hilbert space.

I'd be like a Sphere in Flatland.

Not Like Me II

Melina and I went out this morning for a day of shopping and lunch. Sounds like fun, right? I did enjoy myself, since I was with Melina. But a day of shopping is not my idea of fun. Melina, however, enjoyed herself immensely! She put much thought into which outfits she chose in the little girls department. When we got to the ladies' section, I literally looked at a sweater and a dress, thought about them for 3 seconds, and threw them in the cart.

If there was ever a child who is Not Like Me, it would be Melina. I've said it so many times on this blog, you are probably tired of hearing it. But if I didn't see her come out of me, I'd have thought she wasn't mine!

Yes, the child looks like me. She speaks like me: "Aaron, I told you 5 times to stop doing that!" She eats like me: she just put away an ice cream treat after having an enormous slice of pizza (before you go off on bad parenting, we usually don't have ice cream after lunch and without having had a fruit or a vegetable, but we were out to lunch after all!). But somehow, she just isn't like me. Melina is always hot whereas I am always cold. Her favorite color is pink, while my favorite color is green. The color we wear most often? Hers again would be pink; mine is black. Her favorite shoes are strappy sandals while mine are running shoes. Melina's favorite pastime is looking in the mirror (!) whereas mine is running. I am telling you, I am raising a little diva, and I don't know how or when or why! The complexity of genetics leads me to believe that Melina's genes are more like those of Aunt Tara's than of mine. But that is a whole new blog post, and one that I am not qualified to even discuss (though the field of genetics is quite interesting).

There are a few things I can seeing shining through this little lady that are characteristics I have, but cannot claim all to myself. Melina loves to read, she loves letters, and she loves music. Tim and I share those characteristics, though, so they might have easily been what he contributed (that, and her ample little tushy!). I am holding out hope for her, though, because as of the last couple of days, she has been exhibiting common sense! At the tender age of 3! Woo hoo! if that says around. We could use it in this house.

***
I should mention that this is the last day of November. I made it all the way through the month, and posted every day! In fact, there was even that bonus post I put up to amuse you. From here until next November, I will not have to post every day, and you, lucky reader, will not have to read every day! Aren't you happy? Even so, I'll do my best to keep posting glimpses of the zoo. Just be patient with me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Like Me

I have a feeling that this might be a really long post, and when you get to the end of it, you might not quite understand exactly what I am saying. I apologize in advance if that is the case. Sometimes, the blog is here just to get things off of my chest, or to put thoughts on paper that I'd like to try to express so I remember the feeling later. Emphasis on the try. Sometimes, I still have trouble making sure the meaning is clear by the end of the post.

I have thought quite a bit over the last couple of months about my kids. They are growing up, so quickly, it seems, and I feel lucky to have an age range. I am able to still experience the wonder of the blue sky while at the same time trying to dodge the bullet of boys. Different, yet all good, at times. I have chronicled the mess that sometimes is 4th grade, I've talked about giving up nursing, I've clued you in to the joys and frustrations that go along with our little redhead. But I think the issue that is the most distressing and rampant and not fixable is the issue that the kids might not be like me.

That statement, at a first glace, will seem arrogant. Of course I don't expect the kids to be like me all of the time, and to be sure, I wouldn't like for them to be. I would hope that the kids might be more outgoing, more confident, and more decisive. Only time will tell on that. I do, however, want them to possess the same work ethic and determination that I have. I'd like for them to have some drive, and always put forth their best effort. I'd like for them to possess an insane amount of common sense, and I'd appreciate it if they thought of others at least as much as they think of themselves.

When I look at all the characteristics the kids have to offer, I smile. They are so blessed with many things. The girls have amazing voices and are doing well on the piano. Aaron has a sponge for a brain. All three of them (we'll talk about Melina next time) are creative: they construct things out of boxes, they draw and paint well, and they use their imagination in unique ways. They are kind and quiet and silly and lovely. But at the end of the day, I am realizing that the girls are not always like me.

First off, I have to remember that Zoe and Talia are two separate people, and that each one, while different from the other, will be different from me. It is hard to stand by and watch Talia struggle with what I consider a simple math concept. Of course it isn't difficult for me. I've been doing that math for years! At the same time, I might have struggled with it in 4th grade, but I don't remember that. I do remember having homework, assigned by the teachers (ahem, are you listening Mrs. M? Mrs. A?) that reinforced what we learned in school. Not a ton of homework, but enough. Then, my mom, against the majority at the time, had us do workbooks in the summer to keep up our skills. At the time, I didn't like doing the workbooks. Now, I realize why my mom did what she did. And, I have spent many a dollar at the local school supply store on math and language workbooks.

The question I ask myself is this: Did I get the workbooks to make the girls more like me, or did I do it for them? I am pretty sure that I bought them the workbooks and ask them to do homework so that they can become confident in math and grammar. Math is everywhere, and I constantly tell them that. I don't want them to grow up and be the adult who cannot interpret the graph in the newspaper, or the mom that doesn't know how to double the recipe. Tim and I find grammatical errors, constantly, in newspaper articles and advertisements. I do want them to become more like me -- able to do math and grammar -- but in the process of becoming that way, they will be bettering themselves. I want the kids to be able to find the errors, and not make their own.

That statement is telling, if you think about it. I am not a micro-manager, but I could easily be one. When it comes to the kids, I try so hard not to just do the work for them, whether it is clean up the mess they've made or do their homework. I struggle each day to let them make the error, find the error, and learn from the error. My toughest job as a mom is to sit back and let the kids live life and actually become themselves.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Craziness

We've had a bit of craziness around here lately. The stomach bug, as of this morning at 5:30 am, finally made it through the last of our human family. Aaron caved and is lying on the couch right now. The laundry is in, and another pile is waiting to be done. Speaking of done, I know I am. I can do without the craziness that seems to hover with sickness.

Perhaps that craziness was behind my need to get out of bed two nights ago to post. I only posted because way back on November 1, I said I would post each day. But who is counting? Maybe you, dear FRN, are counting, but I doubt anyone else is. However, I happen to be the type of person who tries to do what she says she is going to do. Hence, the post, even though it was only a post in the most transparent sense of the word.

I do wonder what other craziness we have yet to behold before the end of the year. With Christmas coming and winter vacation for the kids, I can only imagine what is yet to come. Have I just jinxed myself with that? I hope not.

***
I apologize for the short lengths of these last few posts. You can tell the end of this month is approaching, and none too soon! I love blogging, but sometimes, it is tough to sit down and do it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Aaron's Friday Fun

Tim and I bought Aaron a whiteboard for his birthday, and Tim hung it on Aaron's bedroom wall. Aaron has been enjoying the board, using it for drawings, games, and most recently, math. On Friday, while everyone else was downstairs playing or watching Scooby-Doo, Aaron was upstairs doing this:


Apparently math outweighs Scooby-Doo in the fun department. I think he would have gone past 2,097,152 if I hadn't told him he needed to eat. I guess at least food comes in before math. For now, anyway!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

55 minutes

Until midnight.

I just came back down here because I remembered that I hadn't posted anything today!

Last year when this happened, I didn't get out of bed. This year, I did. What does that mean? Am I more dedicated? More anal retentive? Crazy? All of the above?

We'll think about that and perhaps get back to it tomorrow.

Good night!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Doh!

Every once in a while, I goof.

Melina woke me up this morning at 5:30 am. That is a bit early for her, but not too much. I heard Melina's little sighs, but let her go a bit, and then decided I better go in and try to get her to go back to sleep. I crawled into bed with her, and realized the problem. Well, I could smell the problem. The poor thing had wet the bed. The sheets, the mattress pad, her pajamas -- all of it -- were reeking of urine. It wasn't a diaper fail, it was a mommy fail.

Last night, Melina had taken a shower, and put her pajamas on before her snack. When we went up to bed, after snack, she went potty, brushed her teeth, and climbed into bed. I read her 3 stories, and turned out the light. If I had had to put the pajamas on after doing the bedtime potty and brush routine, I would have remembered to put a diaper on the child. Instead, I sent her to bed diaper-less, and thus, the deluge.

Melina has been potty-trained since before she was 2, but at night, we still need the diaper. However, it is clear that she probably stays dry up until really early in the morning. I think she'd have noticed wetting the bed before 5:30 am, if she had done so.

I told Melina she needs to remind me to put the diaper on her each evening. I don't know if she will, but considering I don't want to have to do any more laundry than I do, I'll make up some mental checklist and put "Melina's diaper" on it. Otherwise, I'll be doing repeated dope slaps to myself, and I think I can without any more of those.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

We're Full

Full of love, full of laughter, and full of food.

We called off the Thanksgiving festivities today with my parents and Brooke and Ian. We figured that no one wanted to have a side of vomit with their turkey (sorry to be crude). But we woke up healthy, and made a nice meal. We even made it to the park to play after eating said meal.

So while we didn't get to have a nice visit with family and friends, I do think we had a pretty nice Thanksgiving.

I hope you and yours can say the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Need Your Help!

Of course, there could be many reasons why I need your help. But I don't have much time today, so I won't go into any of the other reasons why I might need your assistance.

I need to buy some sort of computer that will help me in my quest to get everything done. I won't find one that will do laundry and homework or anything else, but I'd like to be able to have something small, something that works on a wireless network, and something larger than a phone. I would use it for checking email (work and personal), doing small bits of research, and perhaps typing up documents. My thought was to get an Ipad, but I've never used them.

So, does anyone have an Ipad? Does anyone have any suggestions? All are welcome!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunchokes, Anyone?

Last week, sunchokes (or sunroots) arrived in our Happy Box (the box we get from the CSA). They used to be called Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus), but they aren't related to artichokes, and are actually a species of sunflower. The tuber is what is harvested and eaten. The CSA provided a nice description of the sunchokes, as well as multiple ways to prepare them.

I found it interesting that the sunchokes store the carbohydrate inulin, instead of starch. When I think of inulin, I go back to grad school where we first learned about Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) in the kidney. Essentially, the body filters and clears inulin, since it is neither secreted nor absorbed by any of the tubules in the kidney. In fact, the clearance of inulin is used clinically to measure GFR. Hmmm. Food for thought there (yikes, bad pun). What does this mean as far as digestion? Well, I could guess, that is for sure.

Instead of looking it up, I prepared the batch (coating with olive oil and spices and then baking them), and we ate them. Tim and I had the most, and the kids all tried them. The sunchokes tasted, to me, like a slightly different version of a potato. Unlike potatoes, though, they didn't agree with the digestive system.

Bloating and gas were the result of our experiment with sunchokes. It stands to reason, considering inulin is indigestible by the body. I was just rooting around (get it?) for some information, and everything I read said to introduce the sunchoke gradually, so the body can adapt.

Duh! Sometimes, I should just go with my gut, don't you think? (I am so full of puns today, I outshine myself, don't I?)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Review of Sorts

Despite the fact that Melina was sick yesterday, I went with some ladies to see the newest Twilight movie. I checked with Tim as to whether or not he wanted to be left with a sick Melina and 3 other children, and he said he didn't mind. Actually he said, "What is the worst that could happen? We all get sick and you come home to everyone on the couch. And the power is out." Thank you, Mr. Optimism.

Anyway, we headed to the matinee. A friend of mine picked me up, and while I hesitated about driving in her car and giving her GI germs, she had, just the night before, cleaned up a GI mess when one of the kids at the birthday party she was holding decided to get sick. I figured that we'd be even.

I haven't been to a full-pay movie in a decade. The last movie I saw in the theater, the first half of the 7th Harry Potter movie, was seen on a Tuesday night for $1.75. I couldn't believe it cost me $8 for a matinee, but I don't get out often, so in the end, I didn't care. The cost of concessions was even worse, but I treated myself.

After sitting through 15 minutes (!) of previews, the movie came on. Have you seen the other Twilight movies? The first one had two overriding themes: blue and bad makeup. I remember watching the movie in my family room and laughing! The acting wasn't very good, Bella's character was constantly huffing, and no one smiled! I guess living in a place where it rains all the time can do that to you, but I think the movie was perhaps a step above a B-grade movie.

The 2nd and 3rd movies, in my opinion, didn't get much better. There were things I would have put into the movie, to explain the story better to those that haven't read the books, and there were things I would have left out. The acting was slightly better -- perhaps because the actors were getting more comfortable in their characters, or, I had developed an immunity to the bad acting. Either way, my expectations for this movie were very low. Tim asked why I was going, then. My reply? I'd rather sit and laugh at the movie with friends than in my family room by myself!

Well, wasn't I pleasantly surprised! I guess the team had a bigger budget to work with, as the makeup was better, the sets and transitions seemed better, and the writing was also better. Theme here? Better, if you couldn't figure that out. The writers had injected some humor into the dialogue, and it worked. I was laughing at the movie, but not necessarily in the embarrassed for the actor sort of way.

I don't want to give anything away, in the event that you actually want to see the movie. One of the ladies I went with hadn't read any books, and she enjoyed the movie, too. The movie is only 1/2 of the last Twilight book, which makes complete sense. To try to make the entire book into one movie would have been disastrous. Luckily, the powers that be got it right as to where to end this first movie.

How many stars would I give the movie? I actually think it was a 3 star movie. I can't believe I said that, considering the other Twilight horrors that came before, but I'll stick with it. I hope they do as well with the 2nd half of the book as they did with the first.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jinxed!

Yesterday, at dinner, I was looking at Melina eat her food. She was packing away a huge amount, which wasn't too odd, considering she hadn't had an afternoon snack. While I was watching her, we spoke about preschool and what she liked, and how the teachers were, and whether or not she saw James on Thursday. Melina really likes James, and plays with him often. He has red hair, so it really isn't difficult to figure out why she gravitates to him.

Anyway, while we were talking, I was thinking that Melina hasn't brought home the deluge of germs that the other kids did upon entering preschool. It makes sense; she has already been inundated with many germs from the other kids being in school. Mid-November, and except for a slight cold and a double ear infection (neither of which kept her from school), we'd seen nothing.

I should not have even let that thought go through my head, I tell you!

At 1:30 am, I heard Melina complaining in her room, something she usually doesn't do. She wanted me to sleep with her. I said I could rest for a couple of minutes, but that I wanted her to sleep alone for the night. Again, I usually don't have to even say that. I told her to hold on, and I went downstairs to see Tim, just to tell him that I might be in Melina's room.

When I got back up to Melina's room, it was obvious something was amiss. She was whimpering, and there was a distinct odor. I am sure you know the one about which I am talking. I swung into clean-up mode. I stripped her bed, and dragged her to the bathroom. I ran downstairs to tell Tim that vomit-cleanup was underway. Melina had a bath, new sheets were put on the bed, and the first load of laundry was started.

Unfortunately for Melina, she continued to have vomiting spells. It is now 6:46 am, and she has used the bowl 8 times since that initial spread of glorious chyme across her bed. She and I have had little sleep, but we did catch a few winks. I hope she clears this easily, and that of course, it doesn't wreak havoc with the rest of the crew. Of course, I'll let you know.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

La Leche

Disclaimer: this post will use anatomical terms, such as breast and nipple. If that offends you, please leave now.

Someone asked me recently if I still nursed Melina. The short answer is no. But there is a longer story to this, and I thought I'd share.

If you are reading this, you probably know that I had, at least in my head, some cut-offs established as to when I would be done nursing. My first cut-off was at 12 months, but at the time, stopping just wasn't feasible. I then said I would stop nursing at 18 months. That is plenty of time on the boob, you know? That is what I thought, but Melina wasn't on board. Two years went by, 2 and 1/2 years went by, and then I said to her: "Once you start school, you cannot have any more mommy milk." She said okay, but didn't really mean it. After school that first day, she asked for mommy milk. And I gave it to her. I know, I know. I gave in.

What are my reasons for the extended nursing? There are a whole host of them, I think. Melina certainly didn't need the mommy milk for nutrition, as she is a pretty good eater (although a little heavy on the macaroni and cheese). Therefore, that was not the reason. But Melina enjoyed the snuggle time with me, and to be honest, I enjoyed the snuggle time. Unless she was sick, we nursed only at nap time and bedtime. It was a comfort to her, and therefore, I allowed it. She is the last of four, and I think I was hanging onto the knowledge that she'd be the last baby I ever nursed. And, of course, she slept well after nursing. You all know how important good sleep for a child (and parent) can be. The funniest reason for extended nursing? During our time together, I would read my book. I actually read quite alot during that time, and now that we don't nurse, I don't read as much! I miss that reading time, I have to say.

However, the time did come to stop, just a few days after Melina started school. For whatever reason, a crack developed on my left nipple, which is the breast from which she took milk (she had stopped the double sided nursing ages ago). When she started to suckle, enormous pains shot through my breast, up the side of my body. I winced, I cringed, I actually almost cried. I let her nurse once this way (the pain subsided after while) but spoke with the OB, who suggested having her lay off for a while. I jumped on that one.

The next day, I explained to Melina (and showed her) that I had a crack on my breast, and that it was very painful to have her take any mommy milk from it. I told her that I could read a book and rest with her for a moment, but then she'd need to nap by herself. She said okay.

That same night, I reminded her of the crack. She said okay again, and has been fine ever since. A couple of times Melina has stated that when the crack is done healing, that she'd like to have more mommy milk. As much as I hate to lie to the child, I just nod my head and say okay. What she doesn't know at this point, can't really hurt her.

I often ask myself if I would do it again and I don't really know. I am of the mind to do what is right for yourself, the baby, and the rest of the family, and during those years, extended nursing worked for us. A different child, a different time, and who knows?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tim's Mom's Turkey Recipe

It is that time of the year again. People will be calling me (you know who you are) for Tim's Mom's Turkey Recipe. I am not a fan of Thanksgiving turkey, mostly because as a kid, the turkeys weren't that tasty. Sorry, mom, but you know it is true. I always loved the smell of the cooking turkey, but the taste never quite lived up to the name.

Then, I met Tim (and Tim's mom) and realized that Thanksgiving turkey can be good, great even.

So, here is the recipe. Try it. You might find that you, too, are a Turkey convert. Remember, I was once completely vegetarian, too.

For a 14 pound bird:

7 tsp salt
7 tsp garlic salt
Italian seasoning
pepper
3/4 stick butter (soft)

Mash up the spices and the soft butter together in a bowl. Put under turkey skin, on the legs, and in the cavity of the bird. Put bay leaves and rosemary (if you want) under skin. Put the bird in the fridge overnight (or for two nights). Take out the bay leaves/rosemary before cooking.

Tie the turkey legs, put water and wine (cooking sherry will do) in bottom of pan, and bake at 350 or 370. Get it good and brown, and then seal it tightly with foil and turn the oven down to 330 or so.

I don't have any other instructions. Tim just looks in the oven and knows when it is done. The result? A flavorful, and moist, turkey breast, and yummy legs to boot! If you are just using a turkey breast, this works, and it works for whole chickens, too. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I never knew, as a kid, just how many decisions adults had to make. I was always ready to grow up, and now, I think I'd like to head back into the womb.

My life isn't full of big decisions. I luckily have made a few good ones in what might be considered the big decision category, such as 1. husband, 2. whether or not to have kids, 3. what sort of house to buy, and 4. pets. But each day, little decisions come up. The one that gets to me the most is deciding what to have for dinner. If someone just told me each day what to cook, I'd do it. But the deciding what to have is the big problem.

Dinner isn't the issue today. What is then? I'll tell you.

We have this refrigerator that will need to be replaced soon. Right there -- a ton of decisions! What type? What style? What color? Water spout? Ice maker? But I might have the style, color, and type down. I don't need help with that. The problem is that this refrigerator is wedged into the corner of our kitchen. Previous owners tried to fix that problem, by putting in a side-by-side type refrigerator. It might help a little, but you cannot open the freezer door all the way. Getting food into and out of the freezer can sometimes look like the person is trying to wrestle with the freezer door. And, the door is winning.

So, what to do about it? We have thought about replacing the appliance with the type that has French doors on top (refrigerator section) and the freezer on the bottom. Even though the left side door won't open all the way, because of the wall that lies next to it, the top is open, so we could slide things in from the right. This would be the most cost effective, as we would only have to buy the appliance, and perhaps fix a bit of cabinetry if the new refrigerator is higher than the old one (which is probably going to happen, because our old one is pretty old, and everything these days seems to be bigger and taller). We'd likely need to replace the countertops, too, because we now have a tile countertop. Who knows if anyone ever sealed the grout, but the tile is coming apart, and water is getting beneath it. Soon, the cabinets may rot, and I actually like the cabinets.

The other option is to move the refrigerator out of the corner, and then replace that corner with new cabinets. At that time, the countertop should be replaced and since we'd be moving some cabinets around, the floor ought to be done. Our floor right now is a dull shade of gray tile. I don't like it, but I could live with it longer. However, it is cracked in spots and needs some major repairs. Furthermore, my guess is that the tile is not under the cabinets right now. If we need to move those cabinets to put the new refrigerator there, we either need to find matching tile or get a new floor. Also, moving things around would likely mean that we'd need to replace the backsplash, and decide if we want to take down the wainscoting, or put new wainscoting up in the walls that have been revealed. Oh, and we need to fix the ceiling. We never fixed the ceiling when we had water damage from the pluming upstairs because we knew that we'd have to do something with the kitchen. We figured we'd to it all at one time.

So, we actually got an estimate for the work, and you know what? Moving the refrigerator and getting new counters and cabinets for that corner is not that bad. The big cost is in the floor. Demolition for the floor is quite a bit, and if we want to replace with tile (which, to be honest, I don't need and I think I'd be just as happy with a vinyl or laminate floor) the cost is pretty high. High enough that it would be best to get a home equity loan. Do we really want to go down that road?

Can you see where I am? At this point, I'd rather scrap the whole thing. But Tim says that since we rely on the refrigerator for so much, we need to be proactive, and buy a new one before this old thing goes. He is right. So we need to make a decision. Anyone out there care to do it for me?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Super Talents

FRN asked what I'd like to have for a super talent. I am not sure that I the answer to that question, but it certainly got me thinking. (You will have to go with my stream of consciousness post here, sorry!) My enormous amount of common sense might, to some, be considered a super talent. So far, I don't know what it has done for me. What if I had the power to be invisible, something akin to Harry's invisibility cloak? I don't think so. There isn't much more that I'd do if I were invisible, so that won't quite work. Unlike Harry, I don't usually need to fight the dark powers that lurk in the night. I thought about being able to run at the speed of light, having more than two hands, and being able to do without sleep, and all of those would be great, but I realized, after having thought some more about it, that those talents (if you can call them that) are purely selfish.

So, in this week or so before Thanksgiving, I thought that maybe a talent that would be considered super and be extremely helpful, would be the ability to transform common dirt into food and clean water. Can you imagine the people I could help with that one? I'd be able to help people not only in this neck of the woods, but I'd be able to travel to third world countries and make sure they had some of the necessities of life. Wouldn't that be cool?

Of course, with every super talent or super power comes something bad. But since I don't feel like dwelling on that, we are going to stop right here.

I hope you all have some good plans for Thanksgiving this year, and I also hope you have alot for which to be thankful. We sure do. That will be yet another post later.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tattoos

Tim now sports a tattoo (albeit temporary) on the skin covering his deltoid muscle.

If you don't know why, go back and read this.

I thought it was hysterical when he showed it to me. And, he had no idea. I've known the guy for 13 years, and have been married for 11 of those. I guess I never mentioned that secret of mine to him. Perhaps, that is why they call it a secret.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Monday

Mondays are used for cleaning up around the house and running errands. I usually have a list of things to do: laundry, general clean-up, run to Trader Joe's, etc.

Today, the quest was simple: Find a pair of clip-on earrings.

I am sure the first question is why? But I bet you can guess the who.

Apparently, Melina felt the need to have a pair of earrings to go with her wedding outfit. She has had the dress, the veil, and the shoes for a while. This weekend, at the Spaghetti Dinner, Mrs. D gave her a ring that will work. The only thing missing? The earrings. Can't you just see my eyes rolling right now?

We tried Goodwill first, but they only had black earrings. They had a nice fuchsia pair, too, but in classic Melina fashion, she nixed them, as they wouldn't match the rest of the outfit. Right next to Goodwill is an Elder-Beerman store. If there isn't a store that screams I'm Old! more, I don't know what it is. There just had to be a pair of clip-ons in there.

And there was. A nice (and cheap) pair that matches her outfit perfectly, at least according to Melina. Happy Melina = Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Forgotten pictures

For some reason, I leave the uploading of pictures from the camera to the computer for Tim. I guess I do alot of other things around here, and I just haven't put camera pictures on my priority list. I need to put it there soon, because I often forget that we have some pictures that people might want to see.

Therefore, this will be an easy post. We have pictures from Teresa's wedding, fall here at our house (including some Halloween pictures), and ways that the kids keep busy. Easy on the eyes, and easy on the writer!

Below are Aaron and cousin Jacob in the church at Aunt Teresa's wedding.


The girls had their hair done, and loved the pink, poofy dresses.


So did Melina.


This kid made it well past 11 o'clock that night. Don't worry, it is just a Shirley Temple in the glass!


***
Halloween was nice for everyone. The weather cooperated, and friends were able to come over and trick-or-treat. We never did get a picture of everyone, but maybe next year. Here are the older kids in their ghoulish garb. Aaron was a zombie, and the girls were vampires.


Of course, Melina was Cinderella. Would she be anyone but that?


***
I can't forget to put a picture of Aaron's birthday cake. He turned 7 (!) on November 1st.


***
With the weather getting colder, the kids have been inside creating. The other evening after dinner, this is who showed up in our kitchen.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Identical

The girls came home with their school pictures yesterday.

I set the pictures in front of Tim, who spent a good minute looking at them. You could tell he was thinking hard about trying to guess correctly. His eyes narrowed, and his gaze was sharp.

"That's Talia!" he said, as he pointed to the picture of Zoe. He looked sort of proud of himself.

Alas, even the dad can't get it right.

Because of times like this, when your kids are so identical that your husband can't see the differences, we decided it would be okay for the girls to each put a permanent stripe in their hair. We went to see Miss Chrissy, who first bleached some hair on each side of the girls' heads, and then put the color on. Talia opted for orange, while Zoe chose purple; the color frames the length of their face, and actually, looks great. Now, if you can remember which color goes with which girl, you won't make a mistake.

It is a bit difficult to see the purple in this picture of Zoe, but in real life, the color stands out. Melina asked why she couldn't get a stripe. I told her Miss Chrissy doesn't put color on 3 year old children. Both Miss Chrissy and Melina were fine with that excuse.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Little Secret

So, did I ever tell you that I have always been attracted to bad boys? Well, it is true. You wouldn't know it by my husband or by any of the people I dated in my previous life.

The guys with the tattoos and piercings? Intriguing. Rocker boys? Always caught my eye, especially if they had dyed their hair. The crazier they looked, the more they attracted me. Have you ever read the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty? Thanks to my friend Kelsey, I did. Marcus Flutie? So my type when I was younger. I would have gone for him in a heartbeat. Bad boy, plus he was intelligent. Perhaps that is why I really enjoyed reading those books; I lived vicariously through Jessica.

The bad boys I met in real life, while outwardly attractive, just weren't attractive on the inside. This is going to sound like a generalization, and I apologize. But the bad boys I encountered? They tried to play it so cool, that they didn't care. The apathy was something I could do without.

So, aside from not wanting an apathetic partner, why didn't I end up with a bad boy? To be honest, I just don't think the good girl with the lack of confidence ever attracted those bad boys. In fact, I am somewhat glad of that. If some of those bad boys had actually been attracted to me, my life might have been a whole lot different. As in, my life might have been full of trouble.

What did I get instead? I found a guy who has the soul of a bad boy, but the exterior of a saint. Tim was somewhat of a class clown in school, although he was smart enough not to get caught (or the teachers just liked him and let him get away with whatever it was that he did). Tim also painted himself blue once in order to impersonate a Smurf. Not quite the hair dying type, but close, right? And one time, Tim chose to wear blue toenail polish. This was at a time when men wearing toenail polish was not the norm. (Okay, maybe it still isn't the norm, but almost anything goes these days.)

You might think the description of Tim and what I used to be attracted to are two completely different pictures. But upon thinking about it more, I think I figured out where the two pictures actually overlap. I tend to go for a guy that exudes confidence, sometimes even bordering on arrogance. The bad boys had it, and so does Tim. Now if I can just get him to put a tattoo on his bicep and a streak in his hair, we'll be golden.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Headache

That is one of the words I would use to describe my husband. Not because he is a pain in the neck, but because he gets headaches often. Little headaches, cluster headaches, and especially migraine headaches. Early on in our relationship, I discovered that Timmy would be out for the count due to a debilitating migraine headache. I can't stand the least bit of pain when it comes to my head, so I never could quite understand how he managed to get through.


But this time, the headache isn't his. It's Talia's headache.

For the second time this month, she has woken up with a pain in her head. The last time, it lasted for 2 days. We tried Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and cool washcloths, but nothing helped. Only time did. On the third day, it was gone. I spoke to the nurse at our doctor's office about Talia's headache. She said that migraines could develop this early, and if it happened again, to bring her into the office.

I sent Talia to school this morning, as she didn't have a fever or any other aches and pains that might indicate something else was wrong. Talia did say that she had a stiff neck. In any other case, I might get panicky and start thinking that meningitis was the problem, but again, there were no other symptoms, and I plan on watching her. Plus, Tim gets a stiff neck often, which then leads to a headache.

So what did we do for Talia this morning? I loaded her up with water (she didn't drink much yesterday, and perhaps this all stems from dehydration), Ibuprofen, and -- I can't believe I did this but caffeine helps Tim quite a bit -- some Pepsi. Pepsi for breakfast! What a mom I am! Luckly Aaron and Melina didn't notice what was in Talia's glass; Zoe noticed and sneaked a couple of sips from a different glass. I am sure this will go down as one of the best breakfasts in the history of our family, at least according to the girls.

I told Talia to call at lunch if the pain wasn't any better, and I will call the doctor in the morning and get her in if the pain continues. I just hope we aren't headed down the migraine road with her.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Letting Go

Today is Wednesday. I try to run on Wednesday mornings around the time the kids leave for school. When I came downstairs this morning to start my day, I just felt like I was going to run fast today. I stepped out into the light rain to start my run, and I wasn't quite sure what was going to happen. The rain was a bit cold, and coming down harder than I expected. In the end, I did run faster than normal, and the rain was like a cleanser. That jog this morning was one of the best I have had in a long time!

With such a glorious run behind me, I decided that I can no longer harbor these (ridiculous) feelings about 4th grade. I am letting go of the whole situation. I am putting my trust in the teachers, and my kids, and I believe that whatever ups and downs occur this year, in the end, the girls will have learned. I expect they will learn about more than just academic subjects...they'll learn about rules, and having to follow them, even when they don't feel like it. They will learn that teachers aren't always right. And most importantly, I think, they will learn that sometimes parents don't always get what they want.

***
Speaking of learning experiences, the kids and I were out enjoying what very well may be the last warm day of fall yesterday. Aaron was up the street at a friend's house, but the girls and I were outside making piles of leaves. The elderly man across the street came out of his house with a rake and wheelbarrow in hand. He started to rake his front lawn.

This man's wife has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. I haven't spoken to either of them directly about it, as I don't want to intrude. But I have thought about letting the man know that I am often home, in the event he or his wife need some help. I looked over at the man, just starting to tackle an enormous pile of leaves. I then looked at the girls and said, "Let's go help out Mr. S Okay?" Zoe, Talia, and Melina all smiled and said "Yes."

We grabbed our rakes and crossed the street. We headed up his front lawn and said, "Mr. S, Can we help you rake your leaves?" He looked at me, dumbfounded, and replied, "Now why would you want to do that?" Several things came to mind, but I didn't want to say any of them. I know Mr. S can be a bit brusque at times, and I can't even imagine what he is going through right now. I simply said back to him, "Because we'd like to?" He agreed.

We had all the leaves to the curb in under 15 minutes. The kids were great helpers, even Melina, and I think we all felt great. Mr. S thanked us and went inside, and the rest of us headed back to our side of the street.

The neighbor on our right came out and we started talking. She mentioned that she saw us across the street, and seeing us had brought tears to her eyes. She essentially patted me on the back for what we did, and said that lessons like that are hard to come by these days. I hadn't thought about it directly, but she is right. I don't need to be patted on the back, but kids these days don't often see neighbors helping neighbors, and learning lessons about life and giving are often few and far between. Lessons like this remind me that 4th grade troubles really aren't that much trouble at all.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tired of Complaining

You know, as much as I don't want to rush things, I think that I am so done with 4th grade already. I am kind of tired of writing about my experience with the girls and 4th grade, but on the other hand, it does me good to get out my frustration in words.

Let me say, again, how much I like our school, our teachers, and our prinicipal. I really feel grateful for everything that we get from our school. And to be honest, I might not be happy with any school -- my standards are that high.

This is my question, though. How can I really appreciate the teachers and believe they will do a good job with the kids when the teachers themselves constantly make mistakes?

(I have to put in here that I am not always the queen of grammar. I don't always construct sentences correctly, and sometimes, I take poetic license to go against the rules of grammar. There, I just needed you to know that I am not trying to be holier-than-thou.)

Three cases in point:

1. On Monday's, we learn math strategies. Umm, that should be Mondays, no apostrophe. This is a consistent mistake! Okay, maybe the math teacher wrote this particular letter and she isn't good with grammar. But the grammar teacher's name is also on the letter.

2. Letter from Mrs. A and Mrs. M. You can't tell anything from that. I don't want to finger point so I took out the real names. However, Mrs. M's name was spelled incorrectly! On the top of the letter!!

3. I don't have the letter in front of me, but there is an egregious error with respect to comma usage.

If you have kept up with my chronicle of 4th grade thus far, you know these ladies teaching my girls are particularly picky when it comes to errors on the paper. They don't allow errors, period. The teachers want the children to edit their papers, whether the paper concerns math or grammar. No dollar sign? You get a point off. Capitalization error? The word is wrong. And therein lies my largest complaint yet. (I know, I honestly sound like a broken record here). How, pray tell, can the teachers have this policy for the children, but not for themselves?

I am in a sticky spot here. Do I say something to the teachers or the principal? I have thought about trying to go off the record with the principal, but I am not sure. Tim says to wait until 4th grade is over. What is your vote?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Random Assortment

I just heard Scooby-Doo say that Fred's mom is "hot." This newer series is just wrong on so many levels. Too many for me to discuss today.

Melina is wearing a halter dress (on November 7 of all days), white tights, and a pink fleece jacket. She is carrying her pink purse with her. She told me that she didn't like my sweater, because it is green. I carried and gave birth to Melina, but sometimes, I think she is not mine.

The kids have started making Christmas lists. The lists include so many expensive items, I am sure that Santa and mommy and daddy will not be adhering to the lists. I have no plans to get Zoe, Talia, or Aaron an Ipad. Yes, it is on all three of their lists. Whatever happened to wanting Play-Doh?

I am married to someone that really doesn't care what he looks like. Awesome, right? I wish I was able to be a little bit more like Tim. Examples? He wears torn sweaters and shirts to work, and has a pair of pants in a lovely shade of green. Lovely to him, awful to me. Tim went to the barber on Saturday. Apparently, he must care a little about what he looks like. I said that it seemed as though his hair cut was a bit bowl-like. I caught him in the bathroom this morning putting gel in his hair to combat the bowl. But who gives a bowl cut to a 40 year old, anyway?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bonus Time

I JUST PULLED A 1/2 INCH LONG HAIR FROM MY OTHERWISE NON-EXISTENT MUSTACHE!!!

And yes, I measured it.

Just had to post this information.

(I can't believe I admitted either of those facts.)

A Very Mormon Morning

I stole the title of today's post from something Timmy said this morning.

Due to the change in time, we decided to bring the kids to 8 am mass, and then send them on their way to religious education. We usually try to hit the 4:30 pm mass on Saturday instead of frantically getting everyone out the door at 7:45 am on a Sunday. But we had an extra hour today, so we decided to go a little nuts.

Well, seems that everyone with little kids decided to do the exact same thing as we did today. A couple of pews over, I saw a few of the regular 8 am kids, but then I saw a family with 2 kids from around the corner, a family with 3 kids from up the street, a family with 4 kids that lives 2 streets over, and some other random families that I didn't know. Melina and I took a quick break to the bathroom, and when we got back to our pew, a good friend of ours and her family (they now have 6 kids) had settled in right in front of us. Well, most of them did. There wasn't much room in the pew, so the husband was in with us.

From time to time, one of the 6 kids would come back to sit with the dad (usually one of the younger ones). And then, they'd go back to the pew with the mom. At one point, my friend handed back her newborn (just two weeks old and so cute!) to her husband. I gave one child a book and we traded one kid for coats. We all held hands at the Our Father, and gave each other a nice, hearty, sign of peace.

According to Tim, we were Mormon for the day. He said that if people hadn't known that we were two separate families, we might just look like one big family all blended together. 4 adults, 10 children, crammed into essentially one and 1/2 pews.

Happy Sunday to you!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I've Got Nothing

New to report, that is. I woke up this morning, a new day ahead of me, a new blog post to compose, and I can't think of anything to write! If I waited a bit, I am certain that something substantial would be said or happen around here, but we have a busy Saturday today. It isn't actually any busier than any other Saturday -- in fact it might be less busy now that soccer season is over -- but during soccer season, I don't try to write every single day. So, I am feeling a bit of pressure.

Part of that pressure stems from my faithful reader from the North. Remember her? She is the one that called me a slacker. Apparently she enjoys reading the blog first thing in the morning while she has her coffee. I do appreciate the readership -- perhaps she can send her friends over -- but I am usually a step behind her. But, she does not work on Saturdays! Maybe I can catch up this weekend, and get a few blog posts ahead, and then next week, she can enjoy chasing after me! A girl can dream, right?

Anyway, FRN, as I will call this reader, asked "What is a characteristic you would change about yourself? Minus physical features or anything of that nature."

Thank goodness she pulled out the physical features. As I know many women would, there are many tweaks I'd probably make if I could physically. I consider myself lucky, though, that I can't think of too many other characteristics I would change. Please don't take that as being arrogant. I don't, in any way, think that there isn't room for improvement! I could be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, volunteer, etc. I could have more emphathy, more curiosity, and more compassion. But the first thing that came to mind is this: If I could change a characteristic about myself, I would like to be a little bit less of a neat freak.

You might wonder about that one. It is actually more complex than it sounds. Because I like neatness, because I like things to be tidy, disarray can really bother me. I mean, really bother me. To the point that the mess is overwhelming. Why do I vacuum the downstairs each day? Because the dog hair and random bits of tiny paper make my vision swirl when I walk by. And the toys that don't get put away or the clothing that Tim piles up in our room? It used to be that my blood pressure would rise each time I looked at those items. I've adjusted a little, and that usually doesn't happen anymore, but I've realized that in my world, even a bit of clutter makes me feel as though I walked in to a hoarder's house. I kid you not.

I could probably write more about the feeling I get when chaos meets a neat freak -- which let me tell you happens quite a bit when you have 3 animals and 4 children -- but I would like to get out for my long run this morning. Those long runs that I try to do every Saturday morning help stem the flood of panic that ensues sometimes when I look around at the tangled mess that can be our lives around here.

Any other questions?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ballerina Girl

I have a little ballerina girl here at home, complete with tutu and shoes. She looks real cute, I have to say.

I even managed to get her to wear underwear under the tutu, just to make things more appropriate.

But to Melina, being appropriate goes beyond the underwear. At least the sort that you wear on your bum.

Being completely appropriately dressed means that underneath that frilly pink leotard with the light pink flower, lies a bra. My dingy, gray, nursing bra that (clearly) I no longer need and should be put to rest in the garbage pail. The straps are pulled as close to her as they can be, and the contraption is still falling off of her little body. Thank goodness the leotard is tight. It pulls the bra up against her flat chest and smooths everything over.

Me: Melina, you really don't need a bra.
Melina: Yes, I do.
Me: But you don't have breasts.
Melina: Look! [She pulls the leotard down and points.] Yes, I do. You were teasing me!

We'll look back at this one day and smile. A really big smile.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meal Train Etiquette

A friend of mine gave birth to her 6th baby a couple of weeks ago. A mutual friend set up a meal train via the meal train website. If you've never been a part of a meal train, the idea is for people to sign up for a day to bring the recipient family dinner. The recipient family, who is presumably in the throes of laundry and lunacy, doesn't have to cook, and the other people feel like they are helping. It is a win-win situation.

I signed up last week to bring a meal tomorrow. The great thing about the website is that you can enter what meal you have decided to bring. I looked at what meals were already scheduled, and then signed up. I must say that I chose my meal according to the other ones already there. Several people had signed up to bring chicken, and there were very few that indicated that pasta of some sort would make a debut. Thus, I chose pasta, meatballs, salad, and dessert.

I received a reminder email from the website today, stating that my day to bring a meal is tomorrow. I went over to the website, just to check on things. To my horror, someone is scheduled to bring a meal today. What are they bringing? Pasta and ground beef, of course! Now, I am not trying to be rude, but if you can see what people are bringing, don't you think you should check to see what the person right on the other side of you has already signed up for? I do.

I feel like I know this family well enough, so I emailed this morning to see what they actually might like. The mom admitted that they actually have had a ton of pasta, and while they are grateful for what people are doing, if I am willing to change, that would be great. So we have changed the plan to black beans and rice. I hope I can find a nifty salsa, and we'll still bring salad. Perhaps some chips to go with that nifty salsa, and a lovely dessert to round out the whole meal. The kids are home tomorrow, so they can help with the whole affair. And while we are cooking, I plan on bringing up a lesson on etiquette.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why Do I Write? And Why Do You Read?

Yesterday's prompt on the NaBloPoMo website was the following: What is your favourite part about writing? Yes, that is favourite with a u, in case my kids are reading this. Their u, not mine.

I hadn't really thought about using prompts, but with my recent string of complaints on the blog, I thought maybe I'd try a prompt and move beyond the negative. Change is good, right?

I have always loved to write. That might sound completely trite, but it is true. I remember writing stories and poems as a kid, and becoming lost in the art of writing. Most of my pieces weren't great, but apparently the teachers liked them. I remember my dad being in Iowa for 3 months during the end of 8th grade. I wrote him poems to keep him from missing us too much. Apparently, he liked them, too. I remember writing Harvey the Hippo stories for the school newspaper in high school, and I remember having to kill Harvey off, so to speak, when I graduated. I actually wrote about extinguishing Harvey for our English class, and Mrs. M made me read it aloud. She thought it would be 'cathartic' for everyone.

I kept writing through college, although I realized that I wasn't as great a writer as I thought. The college professors still mostly liked my writing, but if I had ever thought about a career in writing, I would probably have had to think again. That large university was chock full of good writers. Knowing that fact was somewhat intimidating, but I did learn how to improve my writing. While in college, I found that I was best at writing for classes that centered around women: my 'Gender Roles' sociology class and 'Women in French Literature' class are two examples. I actually wasn't the best science writer. And yet, I decided to head into science (that is another whole post right there!).

And so the question is, why do I write? I think it goes back to what Mrs. M said way back in high school. I liked that word she used: cathartic. And when I think about the single reason that I write, I think that word encompasses my reasons. According to Merriam-Webster, anything that is cathartic is 'of or relating to catharsis.' Well of course, that forces us to then look at the word, catharsis. The 2nd definition says:

2
a : purification or purgation of the emotions (as pity and fear) primarily through art
b : a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension


Well Halleluiah! I'd say that both of those definitions apply to me. I don't easily express myself in any other form. The visions in my head never quite translate into the right shapes on paper, either with paint, crayon, or pencil. I don't consider myself an actor. My piano playing ability has never quite advanced to where I'd like it to be. Instead, I pour myself into writing, letting the emotions splash onto the page and land where they may.

While at the vet, I was thinking of what I could put into this post. Melina came with me to the vet, dressed in her little ballerina costume. She asked about boy dancers, and immediately, the movie Billy Elliott came to mind. If you haven't seen the movie, then this image will be lost on you. In short, Billy Elliott wanted to dance; his dad wanted him to box. In the end, Billy wins. He attends ballet school, and much later in life, lands the lead in Swan Lake. The final scene shows Billy, behind the curtain, getting ready to dance. The music surges in the background, and on cue, Billy leaps. In fact, he soars. The feeling of soaring that I get every time I see that final scene of the movie is the same one I get when I write, at least when I write something meaningful.

And there you have it. So now tell me, why do you read blogs? In particular, why read this one?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Aaron!

On this first day of November, we celebrate not only the kick off of my month long quest to post every day, but more importantly, the birth of our little red-headed angel, Aaron! Okay, he might not be an angel, but we can't deny he has red hair. I've said this before, but I'll say it again: As I pushed the soon-to-be-named Aaron out, the doctor said, "It's a boy, and he has red hair!"

So Happy Birthday, Aaron! Somehow it is so hard to believe that he is seven already! We celebrated over the weekend, so I'll have pictures to post soon. This year, we had a Dr. Who themed cake, which turned out nicely, I might add. Aaron agreed.

***
We trick-or-treated last night, so again, we will have more pictures to post. If I do this right, I can spread out the pictures we have and make my postings easier! Just kidding. I'll try not to be a slacker (ahem, Tara!).

***
Sorry for a short post, but have you seen those last few? I thought perhaps you are tired of hearing me speak!

***
One more thing. This is post number 100 for the year! Number-savvy Aaron might think it is cool that it fell on his birthday. I guess he is just lucky!