Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kudos to the Kids

This past Saturday, we returned from a visit to see my sister, Gina, and her family.  Gina had given birth to a second baby girl back in June, and we wanted to head out for two reasons:  1. to see the baby, and 2. to also help the family.  I remember after my kids were born that I'd take any help I could get.  It was easy to find help when I had twins, but it was harder to find help when I gave birth to single babies.  I think everyone figured that I already knew what I was doing.  I thought maybe with this being her second, Gina might be looking for a bit of help.

Anyway, off to their house we went on a bright and sunny Monday morning.  5 hours door to door without stops, 6 if we are lucky.  Well, we were lucky.  Melina colored her pictures all the way there, Aaron read, and the girls listened to music.  We stopped at a rest stop and got to see 5 week old yorkies.  That stop ended up being the longest.  In the end, we made it to Gina's in good time, just under 6 hours.

The week was full.  We watched baby Catalina, played with Elli, and tried to adjust to the one hour time difference.  We fed kids, bathed kids, took pictures of kids, and generally did everything for the kids.  But my kids really stepped up to the plate.  They helped put the little ones down for a nap, they read to Elli, they made sure to play games so that all kids were distracted.  By the end of the week, not only was I exhausted, but so were they.

On the return trip, we made it home in 5 and 1/2 hours.  Another record set.  And that return trip involved nothing but smiles and giggles.

Sometimes, we forget to tell our kids what a nice job they have done.  I said it once, I said it twice, and now I am writing it down.  I appreciate the hard work our kids put in during that week, and I know that Gina, Dave, Elli, and Catalina do, too. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Little Bit Schizophrenic

I am feeling a bit off these days, all because of my name.  I know I've mentioned this before, but sometimes, things get the best of you.  And these days, my name is getting the best of me.

I haven't always liked my name, Christina, because I don't truly like the shortened version, Chris.  Don't get me wrong, when I envision a Chris, I usually see someone strong and trustworthy, qualities I hope that I possess.  But I can't see a face or any other characteristics.  Chris is too gender neutral for my tastes, and yet, almost 39 years into the name, I still use it.

Why?  I ask myself that all the time.  I don't actually have a good answer. 

But it is difficult to make a change.  I have a couple of friends who decided to add their middle names to their first names.  The only people that call them by the new name are people who have met them after the change.  Well, the same goes for me.  When the community college hired me, I introduced myself as Christina.  No one batted an eye, and 8 years later, I am still Christina in that arena.  The same can be said for my writing group.  And that is why I am feeling a bit schizophrenic.

I am meeting and emailing with my writing group, corresponding with colleagues at school in preparation for the fall, and keeping up with old friends this summer.  I easily type up my messages or pick up the phone and figure out what I want to say, and then, when it is time to identify myself or sign off, I have to remember who is on the receiving end.  Is it my friend that I've known for 15 years, or have I been writing to my supervisor?  My fingers automatically want to stop at Chris, but I might need to write Christina.  Argh.    It's the little things that drive me batty these days.  Can you tell?

So here is what I've decided.  I am both a Chris and a Christina, and whatever pops up at the bottom of the email or at the beginning of the conversation will be sufficient.  If anyone asks, I'll tell them I can't spend any more time or energy worrying about it, and direct them to this blog.  Case closed. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baby Blowout

Catalina is a once a week pooper.  We are not familiar with that sort...all of our kids are frequent flyers in the stool department.  Imagine, if you will, that if one only eliminates the bowels once a week, how much must come out at one time.  Yep, even in a little one, that is quite a bit.

This morning we were privy to the epic blowout of the century.  Up the back, on the onesie, on the sheets, and of course, on the baby.  A huge collective groan rushed down the stairs from the kids and Aunt Gina.  I paused in putting away the dishes and ran up the stairs.  Gina handed me the sweet but stinky little one, she got the bathwater ready, and the baby was clean in no time.  Dirty clothes and sheets are still soaking.  Everything is back to normal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Baby Smells

I just had a delicious moment with our new niece, Catalina.  She rested on my chest, smiled up at me, and sighed.  Then, she smiled again.

The drive was long, I stayed up too late last night, my bowels will be off due to my lack of water intake, but a precious little lady just made the whole trip worth it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Do You Ever Wonder?

What happened to Tim?

He started this blog, way back in 2008, mostly because I urged him to do so.  This blog was supposed to update our families on how everyone was doing, considering we ended up being so far away from both of them.  Tim didn't do all that much updating, and I hijacked the blog. 

Then, I realized just how much I enjoy writing the blog.  So instead of a cut and dried update on life in our family, the blog morphed into a hodge-podge of pictures, feelings, and conversations that, put together, comprise our lives. 

Anyway, I don't always mention Tim, but he is doing well.  Still working, still teaching, still playing baseball, still playing with the kids.  He has a few more gray hairs on his head, and needs to take his glasses off to see things that are close, but overall, the man is still kicking.  With his own two legs.  We'll take it!

By the way, I might be taking a breather from the blog for about a week.  I really need to get some more of my lectures done.  No time like the present, eh?  Just thought I'd warn you, FRN!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Walk Away

"I think I might be depressed," I said to my family at the dinner table.

"You do?" Talia asked.  "Is that bad?"

"Yes, it is bad, but no, I really don't think so,"  I answered.  I should know better than to kid about something as serious as depression.  The condition runs in our family and I know what it can do to a person when it catches someone in its claws.  Somehow, someway, the rampant depression genes skipped me over.  I thank God for that every day, and I am not kidding.

I looked at my family.  Three blond heads and one red-head, slurping spaghetti and talking loudly over one another.  They quieted again when I spoke, something that rarely happens.

"I don't know what it is," I continued.  "Actually, I do.  I am tired.  The cat has had me up every night for at least two weeks.  I'm just tired."  In my head, I went on with my rant.  And the living room is a mess.  You guys have been building that contraption for days.  Aren't you done yet?  I need to vacuum.  I mean, I NEED to vacuum.  The lack of control over my clean house is getting to me.  I want to walk away.

That last sentence sums it up for me right now, but I am glad that I didn't say it aloud.  I am not trying to whine or complain. I am just stating the facts.  I have a lot on my plate at the moment, and the thing I want to do right now is to walk away from it all.  Find myself a cup of tea, a good book, and a silent room, and hole up in it for days.  Weeks even.  Call that depression, call me a bad mom, call me what you want, but I'll call me being honest.  Because don't we all have days like that?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Oh My!

The Fifty Shades trilogy is still big around these parts (no pun intended).  I saw women reading it at the pool and the ladies discussed it at the hair salon last week.  While I have thoughts on the actual books (you can see them here if you want), I guess if a series of books gets people reading, it might not be that bad.

The Fifty Shades trilogy also happens to be big for a friend of mine on Facebook.  A little too big.  She posted about the books while she read them, and now she continually posts about the casting of a possible movie.  Her vote for Christian Grey?  Someone named Ian Somerhalder.  It goes to show you how little TV I watch; I had to look up who he was.  And when I saw his face, I said to myself, "I guess he might fit the bill pretty well," and then went on my way.

My friend never quite got past the possible casting of this person.  I cannot remember if she works outside the home or not, but if she doesn't, she might consider doing just that.  Yes, that sounds harsh, but this girl is obsessed with Christian Grey.  The man is not real, I want to shout!  And even if he were, he has some issues, if you did not notice!  Finally, what about your husband?  I would be very worried if Tim spent his day fantasizing about a fictional character and posting about the star that might portray the character.

I know, I am being judgmental here.  It does worry me though.  If we were better friends, I might say something.  As it stands, I can only vent.  Perhaps I should link this up to my FB feed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So I Don't Forget

The pronunciation and inappropriate use of words by children is so funny.  Our kids have always been articulate, but some of the things that come out of their mouths as language develops is quite humorous.  Yes, I've written about this before.  But I don't want to forget these gems:

1.  I want to go lif you, Mom.  lif = with
2.  Renember, Mom?  renember = remember
3.  I need this detached to the car.  detached = attached
4.  Mom, Aaron said something appropriate!  appropriate = inappropriate

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Degrees of Separation

I know someone that knows Marisa de los Santos.  You might not be overwhelmed by that fact.  But if I think of the following scenario, I get goosebumps:

Marisa de los Santos decides to make a quick visit to see her friend while possibly promoting her newest book.  Her friend decides to take Ms. de los Santos to the local Starbucks, where Kelsey and I are prepping for school.  Since Kelsey and I know the friend, we say hi to her, and get an introduction to one of my favorite authors, Marisa de los Santos.

Nah, it did not happen.  But it could, right?  No sense in living if you can't dream.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Spy

I may have posted about this before, and if I did, I apologize.  But I Spy is a game that the kids love to play, especially around the dinner table.

The thing is, Melina doesn't quite get the concept.

Here's what I mean.

What should happen:

Someone 1:  I spy with my little eye something blue.
Someone 2:  The cup.
Someone 1:  No.
Someone 2:  Grandpa's eyes.
Someone 1:  No.
Someone 2: The stripe on Aaron's shirt.
Someone 1: Yes.

What does happen:

Round 1
Melina:  I spy with my little eye something pink.
Us:  Your dress?
Melina:  Yes!  And my cup and the flower in my hair and my shoes and the band in my braid. 

Round 2
Melina:  I spy with my little eye something pink.
Us:  Your dress?
Melina:  Yes!  And my cup and the flower in my hair and my shoes and the band in my braid.

You can't say she isn't thorough, though, can you?  She remembered the band in her braid twice.  The kids find this habit of hers hilarious, as does any adult sitting at the table.  If we manage to get through 6 rounds of I Spy at dinner, and she does this 6 times, we laugh as loudly as the first every time. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

This Too, Shall Pass

I do not want to scare you by the title.  All is going well here, at least as well as can be expected.  Summer has been short and long, and we are getting ready to spend the last half doing some travel and other fun things.  I say last half because in one month, we have Meet the Teacher night.  Yikes.  One month.  Of course, that means we need to get school supplies, do some clothes shopping, and make sure that all lunchbox components are in working order.  Double yikes.

Anyway, all the things that need to get done is not the subject of the post for today.  You know I am busy; I know you are busy; we don't need to have another tedious post on all the things going on around here.  And, even if I told you again about these things, and how the swamp of items to do makes me feel, there might be at least one of you that says, This too, shall pass.

And then, I'd get furious.  That phrase is on my list of things never to utter.  I black-listed it long ago, shoved it into the corner, and made sure to keep it there.  There is a reason for this.  When the girls were little, the conversation would go like this:
Them:  How are you guys?
Me: We are okay.  Tired, but okay.
Them: This too, shall pass.
And then, in my head, I would yell obscenities at the person who dared murmur that phrase. 

It is difficult to articulate why exactly this phrase bothers me.  On one hand, I think it is a cop-out.  A phrase that someone says when that someone doesn't really feel like listening.  On the other hand, I can see that someone might be trying to say, I've been there.  But if you have been there, and you feel for that person, then say it, and show some real empathy! On the third hand, if I had a third hand (and if I did, then having twins would have been so much easier), I think sometimes people say it to a person that whines a lot.  A brush-off, of sorts.  And that right there might be why I despise This too, shall pass so much.  I have done my fair share of whining in my life, but when it came to having twins, in grad school, when we made next to nothing, and lived in a small apartment, with most family far away, we did not whine.  We took what life gave us and went with it.  And survived.

I haven't talked about the ridiculousness of the whole phrase, anyway.  Of course this will pass.  Life goes on, right?  I can't get started on that right now.  Maybe another time.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

He Told Me!

Aaron:  The sky is not inside me.  So, I am poking a hole in it.
Me:  Sometimes, you confuse me.
Aaron:  That is because you are old.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Number 4 Turns 4!

It's been a long day.  Good, but long.  Oh, who am I kidding.  It is Tuesday, and already, it has been a long week.  So, this post will be short.  (You don't have to be so excited.)

All I am going to say is, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELINA!

Anything else just has to wait.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dinner Plans

"What do you want for dinner Saturday evening?"  I asked my dad, via an email message.

He promptly wrote back: "How about a turkey burger on a rye bun?"

"I can do that.  But mom won't want that.  Would she like a regular hamburger, do you think?"


And so, on the next shopping trip, I bought ground turkey. I could not find rye buns, so I chose wheat instead.  Knowing that my mom does not like wheat buns, I threw a bag of white buns in the basket.  The action felt sacrilegious:  we don't eat white bread or buns.  But this was my mom.  I'd get her what she liked.  Thankfully, I did not need to buy hamburger.  Mom said she'd bring enough for one patty.  Any more meat in this house, and you'd never know that mostly vegetarians lived here.

After a long day of heat, fun, and pool, I prepared the turkey burger for cooking.

"Mom, where is the hamburger?  I will make the patty and cook it," I said.  "The buns are right there."

"That's okay," she replied.  "I don't feel like one.  I'll just have a salami sandwich instead.  Let's keep it simple."

Simple would be to eat what I bought, I thought, but I held my tongue. 

Dinner progressed, with the children entertaining the older folk around the table.  As we were about to clear the dishes, I thought I'd ask my dad about the meal.

"Hey dad, how was the turkey burger?"

"It was okay.  The spices were right, but I wouldn't have it again."

What?  "Was this the first time you've had a turkey burger?"  Based on his email, I thought he ate them often, and was looking forward to eating one.


"Do you want the rest of it to take home?  I bought a full pound of ground turkey," I said.

"Not really,"  dad said.  And if you know my dad, you know the tone of his voice right there.  The discussion had ended.  We were stuck with the turkey.  And the white buns.  Which all might still be in the freezer, wrapped in burn and ice, the next time mom and dad come to visit.

The things we do for family.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Forgotten One

It's been over a month now since Ferdinand went away, and while we miss him, I think our decision was the right one.  The kids have seemed to adjust, and they are able to speak about loving and losing Ferdinand without a tear in their eyes.

The problem now?  Lucy.  I think I underestimated that animal, and the fact that he lost his litter mate.  The first couple of days after Ferdinand was gone, Lucy looked confused, but didn't behave any differently.  About a week in, he started to change his ways.  So far, he hasn't behaved obnoxiously (knock on wood); I think he just misses his buddy, and finds every opportunity to let me know that.  Unfortunately, his idea of letting me know he is sad is to whine at 5 am on a Sunday.  Perfect, just perfect.

Either I need to get earplugs, or Tim and I are thinking that perhaps Lucy needs a cat friend.  No, I have no plans to find another cat for this house.  Instead, we might try to find a new home for Lucy.  He is in sound health and just needs some extra loving that apparently, he doesn't feel he is getting here at our house.  If you know any healthy, happy families with one cat that are looking for another, please let me know! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Saga of the Great Toe

A couple of years back (yes, that says years...it could have been as many as three), I had what I think might have been an in-grown toenail.  I checked out the information I could find on the great and mighty internet, and then set about fixing said toenail.  It did not seem so bad, considering the nail in question was on my right big toe.  The great toe should be easy to fix, I thought...it is large and easy to work with.  I packed the nail with some cotton each day, made sure to keep my foot clean, and went about my business.

Then, something fell on that poor toe.  It has been so long, I don't remember what object actually fell on it, but that fall started a series of unfortunate events, if I might borrow a phrase from Mr. Snicket.  The dog stepped on that toe; the kids stepped on that toe; I dropped a large can on that toe;  I managed to get the nail caught in the floorboard when I went from kneeling to standing; I banged the big toe into several door frames.  Each time the nail started to recover, I'd send it back to the beginning.

My great toe mesmerized the kids.
 "Why is the nail cracked, mom?" they'd ask.
"Because people keep stepping on my toe," I replied.
"Why?" One of them said.
"I don't know!  You tell me."
Then, they'd crouch down and check out my toenail.  It was quite the sight. Multiple layers of nail peeked out from my nail polish.  The top half held the old layers of nail, lacquered with red; the bottom half showed a new nail starting to grow.  I tried to keep the nail covered in red paint most of the time, so that the large purple-yellow color of the skin beneath the nail did not show through.  The public should have thanked me for doing that, I might add.  In any case, that new nail in the bottom layer was a nice white color, until I beefed the nail one last time.

Yes, on Monday night, I barely brushed the right toe against my left foot.  It was enough.  I cringed, I wanted to curse, I did not want to look.  I slowly pulled my foot onto the chair, and wiggled the nail.  It hung on by a thread.  In the end, I had to twist the nail to remove it, and used a nail clipper to help.  I thought about taking a picture of the nail, and my now tender toe, but I thought better of it.  Some things, you just don't need to see.

You might wonder why I even bothered to post about this.  I really can't say, to be honest.  But this blog is a place for me to get out my thoughts and feelings, and this toe has born the brunt of so many things, I thought it best to recount the story here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


You know those books that come highly recommended?  The ones that everyone says you absolutely must read?  I'm not talking about books like Twilight or 50 Shades.  I am thinking of the books written by published and well-read authors, the ones that are highly anticipated by the publishing industry and then gushed about by readers.

Well I just read one of those.  It had been sitting on my list of books to read for a while, and I finally requested it from the library.  Unfortunately, I found it rather bland, and I ended up skimming the pages until I got to the end.  Several things really bothered me:
1.  100 pages into the story, and essentially nothing had happened.
2.  I couldn't find the motivation of any of the characters until really late in the game.
3.  The epilogue didn't tie up any loose ends, it simply created more questions.

Reading this book makes me truly realize that writing is so very subjective.  And it scares me.  But it also makes me hopeful.  Because I might find just as many people that like my stories as those that don't.  I guess I'll keep plugging away at my manuscripts.

Happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012


Panic decided to visit my house today.  Just a little panic, nothing too major.  But I stopped to see what I needed to do before now and the kids' first day of school, and my heart started to bump in my chest.  Then, I looked to see what needed to be done between now and my first day of school, and my heart practically jumped out of my chest.  So many things, so little time.

I don't want to bore you with any of those details, but I'm sure they'll come out over the next couple of months. 

In the meantime, I have a list of things to do.  Unfortunately, this blog isn't on the list.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Crazy, Blessed Life

We just returned from a week's vacation at Walloon Lake, Michigan.  If you have never had the opportunity to go there, you should look into it.  A week sitting by the lake, playing in the park, walking through downtown Petoskey, and pontooning on the lake itself is a week in heaven.  At least according to me.  If you are looking for more thrills than that, well, you'll just have to go somewhere else.  Blessing number one counted.

Both Tim and I bemoaned the fact that we had to leave, but he has only so much vacation time, the dog needed us back at home, and of course, another family was coming to rent the cottage in which we stayed.  So at 10 am yesterday morning, we loaded everyone into the car and headed back home.

I think part of the reason we weren't looking forward to the drive was that a storm had come through our hometown and had left us without power.  Who wants to come back to a house with no power?  Not me.  At least we had the forewarning:  I'd gotten an email saying the pool was closed for the evening on Friday, and I quickly sent a message to a couple of friends.  They confirmed the power outage. 

So here we are, headed down the interstate, 4 kids cackling and two adults just wishing we had a roll-up window behind our heads that we could, in fact, roll-up.  I don't know how far into our journey we were (not far enough of course) and we came to a stand still.  For about 2 hours.  Tim found a radio station that said a roll-over had occurred which closed down the interstate, and I launched into my spiel, for the kids benefit, about how lucky we were.  Sure, we were stuck in a car for a couple of hours.  The alternative was far worse.  Blessing number two counted.

After a potty stop and a dinner stop, we made it home just before 9 pm.  All was quiet on our block, although two neighbors quickly told us of the situation, in the event we hadn't known about it.  One had power and offered his freezer.  We quickly took him up on the offer.  Blessing number three counted.

Once we made it inside the stuffy house, I found a nice note from the dog/cat/house sitter.  After I read it, I ran through the rest of my blessing counts for the day.  I counted the fact that we had such nice neighbors, and that they attended to things that they could have left for us.  I counted that everything was pretty much confined to a small space.  I know, I know.  Why did I have to count at all?

Well, Lucy took it upon himself to get closed into Melina's room.  Apparently, he wasn't happy.  He urinated and defecated on the bed, and on the carpet.  He chewed a couple of her animals.  Luckily, the sitters took care of it all.  They washed the bedding and pillows (complete with bleach), aired out the room, and wet vac-ed the rug.  I can't even imagine coming back home to a room full of cat urine and feces that had been roasting in house with no power.  Ugh.  I don't even want to imagine it.  The only thing we need to do is get a new mattress and a new area rug.  And since I only want to have to do this one time, from now on, Lucy will be boarded at the vet's office.

So there it is, my crazy, blessed life that likes to keep me on my toes.  And as I always say (or maybe I don't write it, but I think it often), I wouldn't have it any other way.

And speaking of blessings, I must say Happy Birthday to my absolutely wonderful friend and loyal reader Julie!  Hope your day is a great one!