Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Year Ago Today This Blog was Born

I can't believe that one year ago I started this blog.  How is it that days last forever but years fly by?  I can't believe that I have kept it up.  It started with a resolve to keep organized and I can guarantee that did not happen, but I am mindful of the clutter.  I am mindful that it is still there and drives me crazy on a regular basis. 

I have noticed a theme to my blog that is also a theme to my life.  My family is my rock.  They have made me who I am today and there are no other people with whom I would rather spend time.  Nobody can push my buttons like them, and nobody can make me happier. 

I have also learned that I am responsible for my own happiness.  It is my responsibility to take care of myself first so I can take care of others.  They don't tell you to put on your own mask before helping others for nothing.   I have taken time for and care of myself and it has made a huge difference in my outlook on life!

40 turned out to be a pretty good year.  Here is hoping for a great 41!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And Dave Wonders Why I Feel Like Screaming All the Time

Conversation I just had with Ryan.

Ryan:  What are we having for dinner?

Me:  Baked chicken and brocolli.

Ryan:  I don't like that.  Can I have something else?

Me:  No.  I am your mother, not a short order cook.  You eat what I make or you can make something on your own. 

Ryan:  Fine.  Can I have the leftovers from Appleby's?

Me:  What is in there? 

Ryan:  Chicken tenders.

Me:  Isn't that the same thing that I am making?

Ryan:  Yes, but theirs are much more better. 

I had to walk away. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

I'll Scratch Your Back if You Scratch Mine....


Last summer when we went to Disney, Ryan desperately wanted this back scratcher.   In my effort to keep at least some of my money in my bank account I refused him and assumed that he would quickly forget all about it like he forgot about everything else he asked for.  Besides, it doesn't really scratch your back, more like rubs it because his "fingers" are really smooth.  This was lost on a child who turned five that week. 

Oh how wrong I was.  Sometimes being practical is not helpful.  Every night when he goes to bed he gets back out saying, "My back is itchy.  If you had gotten me that back scratcher from Disney that I wanted then I could scratch it myself, but now I guess Daddy will have to do it. "

Aunt Julie went to Disney over Thanksgiving, so in an effort to kill two birds with one stone, that being a stocking stuffer and to keep him in bed, I asked her if she would pick it up while she was down there. 

Tonight he tried to scratch his own back but he could not reach the bottom with his new tool.  He got back out of bed and said,  "Maybe Daddy can help me with this."

I wasn't really surprised.  Exasperated, but not surprised.  Thank you Aunt Julie!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Embarassment of Riches

So here we are halfway through Christmas.  The carefully selected gifts have been opened both here and at Aunt Julie's house, and we are waiting to go to Aunt Ann's later today.  The kids will tell you that they have a ton of new toys and I got a Kindle Fire.  Did you know that I read about a book a week?  Right now I am reading "The Hunger Games" series.  That could account for my lack of posting lately,  but that is not why I am rich. 

I got to spend yesterday with Dave's family.  Once again, Julie made an incredible meal and we had a great time watching the kids open their gifts.  My Mother-In-Law brings each of them a 2'x4' sack packed with gifts for each kid.  They all got great gifts that were just what they wanted.  If they got nothing else they would have been spoiled. 

Today we are going to my sister Ann's house for dinner and more gift opening.  It will be pandemonium as all 20 of us celebrate Christmas.  I love when everyone is together.  To me, the crazier the better, as long as all of the kids are getting along.  With 10 kids things can get kind of hairy, but more times than not it is smooth sailing. 

I am rich in family.  I have 24 people that I love with all my heart.  We all get along and enjoy spending time together.  I have managed to live in the moment and not get bogged down in the preparations.  I have exercised great patience with the kids and have been rewarded with great memories of teaching Ryan how to scoop the cookie dough onto the trays.  He was so proud.   I taught Colin how to wrap gifts.  They aren't perfect, but they are more than good enough, and now I can pass that job on to him in the coming years.  He also sent out our Christmas Cards.  He got to 10 of them, but that is 10 more than I would have gotten around to.  I will try to do better next year, but most of the people I would have sent them to read this blog, so there is really nothing to put in a newsletter that hasn't been covered.  So now I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas.  I am off to make the veggie platter that I need to take to Ann's. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

A New Day has Dawned

The sun came back up and since I actually got to bask in its glory, I am back on top.  It is amazing what some sunshine can do to make a person happy.  Colin is well enough to go back to school and has caught up in some of his subjects.  I am more than halfway done with my Christmas shopping which is really good for me this early in the game.  All in all, I am in a much better frame of mind. 

Tomorrow I am getting my hair done and finishing my shopping.  If I still have any energy I will make some cookies.  That is actually one of my favorite things to do and I have a new baking stone that I am looking forward to busting out.  It is the stone that makes all the difference!

Here is to more sunny days and feeling good!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Moment of Self Indulgence

Okay, this is fair warning.  I am about to indulge in a pity party.  If you do not want to read my whining, you are free to stop now.  Please don't say I didn't warn you if you proceed to the end of this post. 

Winter has been holding off for a few extra weeks, and for that I am thankful.  However, the gloom that hangs over Northeastern Ohio has set in, and I am guessing it will hold tight for the next four or five months.  Add to that Colin being sick for the last three weeks, and I have been sent into a downward spiral.  I know he has not been feeling well.  Just looking at him will tell you that he was not faking it.  I feel horrible that he had to suffer through mono, which having had it twice myself, I realize how bad he felt.  I have been staying home with him which has not let me go to the gym except for Zumba on Sunday nights.  On a side note, I defy anyone to take a Zumba class and not be in a good mood when they are done.  It is just not possible.  I hate to say this out loud, but not exercising is making a huge difference in my mood. 

I also went back to the voodoo holistic chiropractor hoping he would be able to tell me what was causing my stomach pain.  I have struggled through not eating dairy, wheat, tomatoes, peppers, etc. for the last three weeks hoping that he would redo the test and I could add either the dairy or the wheat back in.  He told me that I am still sensitive to both and it would take about one month for every year my stomach has been bothering me to heal enough for me to add that back in.  In reality, that would take about 16 months.  On my way home from the appointment I decided to say to hell with the whole thing and I stopped at Danny Boys which is my favorite restaurant and got the most delicious bread sticks ever made.  I ate four of them which is equivalent to about a loaf of bread, then we had pizza for dinner.  Today I had a Coke, and while all of it was delicious, my stomach is now killing me. 

Ryan is not getting the concept of the naughty or nice list.  Right now he is at the top of the naughty list, and then every night he cries because he knows that George, our African American Elf on the Shelf is going to report him to Santa and he is going to get coal for his gift.  (The Elf on the Shelf comes in different skin, eye and hair combinations.  Had I known that ahead of time I would have paid more attention.  Who knew?  Now that we have him I really like him.)   I am now coming down on him like thunder, and for any little infraction he is getting in trouble.  I hate being the "mean mom", not because I am afraid to discipline my child, but because I hate always looking for the bad things he does.  I haven't had to look too hard lately.  I try to notice when he is doing something good and give positive reinforcement, but that is not working right now.  It is time to institute plan "B"

All of this added together is bringing me down into my winter funk.  I feel like I am trying to claw my way out of a dark hole and every time I get a few feet up, I slide back down again.  I am trying to enjoy the holidays and make it something that the kids look forward to, and hope that I can learn to look forward to it again, too.  I am really trying to put up a good fight, but I feel like right now I am losing.  I am allowing myself one day to have a pity party for myself and tomorrow I will come out swinging. 

Tomorrow we will be back to our regularly scheduled program.  Thanks for your patience. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Christmas Tree is Up!

This was the best year for putting up the Christmas tree EVER!  We got a new tree this year that is much slimmer so we can actually fit something else in the room.  I also got Colin to fluff out the branches which is one of the worst parts about putting up the tree.  It always leaves my hands with little cuts that hurt like crazy when I wash them. 

To make things even better, I had to go to a party so I left the boys to hang up the ornaments.  They did a spectacular job.  I am going to overlook the fact that Ryan did it entirely in his boxer shorts. 



Here are some things that I overheard from Ryan, my six year old, boxer-clad son, while coming in and out of the room:

"I just love Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.  It is one of my favorite tunes!"

While he was opening every new box of ornaments to see what was inside, "I know this one will have the Pickle.   Darn, not in here."  This happened about 25 times.  I had told them the pickle was in the drawer in the dining room before they started. 

"See Colin?  You should really take advantage of having a little brother and play with me more often!  We can have a lot of fun."

After we took out our Elf on the Shelf, "George's eyes keep following me everywhere.  It is creeping me out."

They are finally old enough to be trusted with all the ornaments.  Last year Ryan knocked the tree over and a ton of my favorite ones broke.  Now that I am over it, I am not so worried they will break.  The worst that can happen already did and we all lived to tell about it.  Plus Colin is tall enough to get the ornaments all the way to the top.  They had a blast and I was able to relax and let them enjoy it.  It was a win-win as they say and now this is something I can look forward to next year.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Few Updates

Frustration:  Seems all I needed to do was buy a new digital scale.  Our old scale was 15 years ago and was the kind that had the dial that spun and seemed to stop at a random number.  I bought a new digital scale on Black Friday and BAM!, I lost six pounds.  My stomach is also feeling better, so the new diet seems to be working.  I go back to the holistic chiropractor on Tuesday, so hopefully they will use their voodoo magic to see what was really causing the problem and I can start to add a few things back into my diet.  I am kind of hungry and tired of being a hunter/gatherer. 

Colin:  He is still dragging.  He did make it back to school for 1/2 a day so far.  He has awesome teachers that are willing to help him get back on track.  We are really kind of lucky.  Hopefully he will feel good enough to go next week.

An update on some sparks of light.  Kevin and Trina are back home and Trina's kidney is working like the little engine that could!  I am so happy for both of them.  As far as the baby goes, she is starting her chemo today so she can have her bone marrow transplant next week.  Her disease is called EB, and it affects her skin.  Since skin is your biggest organ and protects all the others, this is a huge deal.  I am telling you this so we can raise awareness to this disease.  You can get information here.

As far as the state of the blog, it is bigger than I could have dreamed when I started it.  I am close to 5,000 hits.  So far I have made $7.76.  I don't see a penny of it until I reach $100.00  At this rate it will take about 14 years to see any money from it.  I don't know why that makes me giggle so much.  I have done 116 posts.  This is the first time that I can do a review of a year of my life and I think I really like it.  So thanks for finding me, and thanks for coming back. 

I am off to put up the Christmas tree before Ryan freaks out.  He is SO EXCITED!  Instead of getting all bent out of shape while I am bending the tree back into shape, I am going to try to live in the moment and just go with it.  If you hear some screaming coming from my one third acre of woods, you will know that the moment put me over the edge. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving

This was the first Thanksgiving since I got married 15 years ago that I spent Thanksgiving without going to Dave's family's house for dinner.  His sister was going out of town so we went to her house the weekend before.  Julie has been hosting since she got married and got a house big enough for all of us to fit.  I am thankful that she is willing to do it since she has a great space and toys for the kids.  I am also thankful because she is a great cook.  She watches the cooking shows for fun.  I have to say that is not my favorite form of entertainment. 

Things were looking a bit dicey when Colin started to throw up on Sunday.  His throat was sore and he had a headache.  Classic strep throat symptoms.  I was horrified because Julie was getting ready to leave for Disney and I was sure I had infected her children.  Monday morning comes and we schlep down to the doctor.  Not only did Colin not have strep, it ends up that he has mono.  On the one hand I was relieved that I did not have to call Julie and break the news that her trip was doomed, but on the other hand I was so upset that Colin was going to be sick for an extended time.  I have had mono twice and have vivid memories of being so sick in a college final that one of my classmates since first grade filled in C for the last 10 questions and helped me get out of the classroom. I had put my head down on my desk to reach into my backpack and fell asleep.   It took me an hour to get back to my dorm room which was usually a 10 minute stroll, and I called Mary Beth to come get me.  She and my dad had to pack up my dorm room while I slept in the back seat of the car.  I slept for the next month. 

Colin laid low for the next few days and was able to rise to the occasion and even played some Wii with his cousins.  We were able to go to Mary Beth's house for dinner and had a lovely day.  I was thankful to have some of my favorite foods that we only eat on holidays.  We had yum yum salad, aka magic pudding, great rolls, and even the dreaded green jello.  You know the one that has shredded carrots and celery that seems to turn up at any pot luck dinner.  I didn't actually eat the green jello, but nothing says "holiday" better than veggies suspended in green goo. 

My favorite part of the holiday is Black Friday shopping with my mom and sisters.  Sometimes we have things we have to get, but this time I was along for the ride.  It is a great day without any kids and with the whole day spent with four of my favorite people.  Often times we buy more for ourselves than any gifts, but why not?  We are worth it.  We are not the crazy people that feel the need to pepper spray people to get a video game.  In fact, we are not usually there for that.  We start at 6a.m.  and literally shop till we drop.  There is lunch involved, and usually breakfast, too.  I had a Coke, and it was delicious. 

Colin is still not feeling well, but I hope he will be back in full swing by Christmas.  That is what I will be asking for.  Okay, that and a Kindle Fire.  And peace on earth and good will toward men. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frustration

Lets review.  Almost eight weeks ago I stopped drinking soda.  (It is called pop here, but when I posted that I wanted a pop on Facebook, about 10 people thought I said I really wanted to poop, so, henceforth it will be called soda or a Coke.)  Two weeks ago I stopped eating dairy and wheat.  I have been exercising about twice a week.  I would not say that it is enough exercise to cause a huge build-up of muscle mass. 

Can someone please explain to me why I have not lost one pound?  I don't need to lose a lot of weigh.  Heck, if I could just redistribute where it sits, most notably on my waist, I would be happy.  I really just want to be healthy.  Mostly I am getting mad. 

That is all for now.  My paying gig is getting really busy so when I have a few minutes I will tell you how our Thanksgiving went with my crazy diet and my 11 year old son having mono.  It was better than it sounds. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

What to Eat Now...

I might have mentioned that I am going to a holistic chiropractor lately.  I have been feeling better, but I am still bitter about not drinking pop.  It has been six weeks and I have only faltered three times.  I really miss carbonation.  In the meantime, I saw they raised the price of a Polar Pop to $.69.   It is too rich for my blood now. 

So I went back to the chiropractor earlier this week and mentioned that my stomach was really hurting me.  She did this test to see what foods I am "sensitive" to.  Here was what she wants me to stop eating for three weeks.  Did I mention that Thanksgiving is in this time period?

Dairy
Wheat/flour
MSG
Sugar
Splenda
Garlic
Nightshades (?)
-tomato
-potato
-peppers
-eggplant
-acai
-tobacco

Short of eggplant, acai, and tobacco, this is pretty much all I eat.  Did I also mention that I am allergic to tree nuts?  A lot of the things that are substitutes for dairy or wheat are nuts. 

I have figured that I can eat carrots, celery, rice, meat and water.  There is a whole lifestyle diet called the Paleo diet.  That basically means that you eat like the cavemen did. If you want more information you can find it here.   I thought that eggs were considered dairy, but not in this diet.  Go figure. 

I am not sure this is a lifestyle I can embrace.  At least not during the week of Thanksgiving. I have been on it for two days now and I really miss Goldfish crackers and cereal.  I will keep you posted. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lights

Did any of you happen to catch Diane Sawyer's interview with Gabby Giffords?  I wish I had taped it.  I am, of course, amazed at the progress she has made in recovering from getting shot in the head at what is basically point blank range.  I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to know what you want to say but have something completely different come out. 

What impresses me more is the relationship she has with her husband.  I know that NASA looks for a few good men, but come on, not only can he drive a space shuttle, he can completely love and honor his wife who has been so injured.  I love the way he looks at her when she is talking.  I love the patience he has shown as she is going through her recovery.  I love the encouragement he is giving her.  I wonder what would happen if it was Dave that was injured. Lets face it.  I have never been known to possess this thing they call patience.   Would I be able to do the same for him?  I think I would fair better if he had to take care of me.

We also have some friends who had a baby that was born with a rare genetic disease that was not detected until she was born.  They have been a true example of working together in good times and bad.  Their baby is currently undergoing treatment to have a bone marrow transplant and she is not even four months old.  I continue to be amazed at how well they are working together under tremendous pressure.  It is like watching a diamond being born.  They were a good couple before, but now their relationship is sparkling.  Would Dave and I hold up under that pressure?  I hope to God that I never have to find out. 

Finally, we have some friends where the husband was suffering from kidney disease.  On Monday Trina donated a kidney to Kevin.  Not only are they a perfect match in marriage, but she was the perfect donor as well.  They are both doing well.  I would like to think that if someone needed my kidney that I would be brave enough to do it.  I worry that I am too selfish or cowardly to do it.  If it was for one of my kids it would be a no brainer, but they are part of me. 

All of these people are amazing in their own right.  Put them together and I have my own personal inspiration wall.  I like to think that I live my life doing the right thing.  I like to think that Dave and I are strong in our relationship and faith in each other, and  I like to think that I am willing to go the extra mile.  I think deep in my heart I have doubts.  Like I said before, I pray that I am never faced with these decisions. At the same time I am praying that I really am the person I think I am.  My thanks and continued hope for good outcomes for all of my examples.  You are all bright lights showing me the way. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Middle

Have any of you seen the TV show "The Middle"?  It comes on right before "Modern Family".  I swear that show could be about my life on so many levels that while it makes me laugh out loud every week, it also makes me cringe. 

Lets start with the daughter Sue.  She is a freshman in high school and has to be the dorkiest kid in America.  I was her 20 years ago.  I was trying so hard to find my place, and truthfully, I think my place was in college because I am not sure I ever fit in during High School.  I had a bad perm, braces, and the worst glasses known to man.  I am sure you remember the kind where the sides came out of the bottom of the frames a la Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie". 


In fact, if you made this perm frizzier, added some acne and braces, this could have been me.  I had a group of friends that made it livable, but it was not the best time in my life. 


Then you have Patricia Heaton that is the mom.  This is my life now.  She is at the end of her rope trying to hold it together but is clearly white knuckling it through by the skin of her teeth.  (I only wish I could have found a way to add one more cliche to that sentence.)  She is trying to make everything nice for everyone around her and is failing miserably, and in the process it is making her crazy.   


The rest of the family could represent my family now.  Two boys that are completely different and a husband that is trying his hardest to help the mom keep it together.  You have got to watch this show and let me know what you think.  If you have already watched it, tell me which episode is your favorite.  I would have a hard time picking.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Conversations

I asked Colin if he would play with Ryan this afternoon because he is driving me nuts.  This is the conversation that followed.  I have asked Colin's permission to post this.

Colin: I don't want to play with Ryan because he won't do the tutoral (TU-tor-al).

Me:  What is a tutoral?

Colin:  You know, the tutoral.

Me:  I have never heard of a tutoral.

Colin:  You know, like at the beginning of a game?

Me:  (Keep in mind that I do not play xbox and I wasn't really paying attention.)  No Colin, I don't know what you are talking about.

Colin:  you know, at the beginning of the game when they tell you how to play the game....

Me:  OOOOHHHH, you mean the tutorial?

Colin:  No, the TU - TOR - AL.  That is the right way to say it, at least it is in the dictionary. 

Me:  Honey, it is pronounced tu-TOR-eee-al. 

Colin:  no its not.

Me:  Go ask Daddy.

Dave confirmed that I was right. 

God bless Colin.  I am proud that he looked it up in the dictionary.   As long as he does not have to play with Ryan he is a great kid. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Really?

An Open Letter to the Lady Smoking at the Gas Station:

Have you ever read the warnings when you are pumping gas?  The very first one is "No smoking or open flames." Have you ever wondered why they put that on everything around a gas station?  It is that gas is highly flammable and is likely to EXPLODE!

I have worked very hard to attain my very boring life.  I have two kids that like having me for a mother, and a husband that likes having me as a wife.  I also have 20+ relatives that kind of enjoy having me in their life, and that is just my car.  There were five other cars at the pumps at what could easily have been at ground zero. 

Perhaps you could wait the five minutes it takes to pump your gas to light a new cigarette.  I know I would really appreciate not getting on the front page of the paper or the headline story on the news tonight. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Random Thoughts

I like watching the Biggest Loser.  I hate that beeping noise when they are weighing the people.  I have to record it and fast forward to avoid 20 minutes of it.

Colin couldn't talk to our neighbor at school because she was surrounded by her "girl posse".  Sixth grade is so hard. 

Ryan had a project for school that was to disguise a turkey so it could make it through Thanksgiving.  It was supposed to reflect something about our family.  After much discussion we decided that it should be a leprechaun because we are Irish.  I was trying to convince him it needed a pot 'o gold and a rainbow and he wasn't hearing any of it.  Finally in exasperation I asked him why not.  He said he wanted him to be a ghost.  I realize that our home is guarded by the spirit of Uncle Joe, but I think that might be taking it too far.  Then again, it was his project, why did I care so much? 

I have a new guilty pleasure called Long Island Medium.  It is on TLC on Sunday night right after Sister Wives.  (That is another guilty pleasure.  I just can't look away from that.  I think the idea of Brother Husbands would be interesting.)  Long Island Medium is crazy.  She is the stereotypical Long Island woman with long nails, bleached blond hair and is sooooo loud.  On top of that, she is compelled to walk up to strangers and to give them a reading.  I am telling you, you have to take the time to check this out. 

Can you believe the Duggars are on #20?  I think Michelle thinks her body is a clown car.

A bottle of Pine Sol spilled under my kitchen sink.  The smell is overwhelming and is making my stomach hurt. 

Our school levy passed!  I am so excited for our city. 

I have switched from being a long time "Today" show watcher to being a GMA watcher.  I love Anne Currey, but she is not a great anchor.  I felt as if I was cheating on them when I switched, but Lara Spencer is great!

I am sad that Regis is moving on.  I enjoy the banter with Kelly and think that they have an amazing relationship.  That chemistry is going to be hard to replace. 

That is all for now.  Hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Rant

Tonight I was cooking dinner when Kate and her friend Seth came to my door to tell me how horrible Ohio is with Coal Pollution and don't I think this is horrible?  She asked this as if she was asking if beating a child is horrible.  She then revealed that she is with the Ohio Citizen Action. 

I am all for a clean environment.  I am happy to sign your petition to pledge my support.  I am even happy to go as far write a letter to my senator if you only tell me which one you would like to target.  What I am not happy to do is to be bullied into giving you money.  This was our conversation. 

Me:  I am cooking dinner.  Can we please cut to the chase and tell me if I can sign your petition without giving a donation. 

Kate:  Would you like to do a check or credit card?

Me:  I am so sorry, we are very involved in Relay For Life and give all our monetary donations to them.

Kate:  We are looking for a household donation of $37.00.  Can you meet or beat that?

Me:  No

Kate:  My smallest donation yesterday was $2 in quarters.  Can you meet or beat that?

Me:  No

Kate:  It will really put some weight behind your signature if you contribute with a donation as well.

Me:  No

Kate:  Can I ask you to write a letter? 
Me:  Sure.  Do you have some information so I can send an intelligent letter?

Kate:  (as she hands me a paper)  It works the best if it is handwritten and put in an addressed envelope.

Me:  Doesn't it have to be in an addressed envelope to get to the Senator?

Kate:  If you have it written by 8:30 and tape it to your door, I will be back to pick it up so it can be sent in bulk.  Can you have it written by then?

Me: Sure

Kate:  How about that donation?

Me:  I shut the door. 

Here is my beef with this.  I did not have to justify my choice to not donate.  I did anyway.  Accept my decision and take what I am willing to give you.  We live in a city that is not willing to give an extra $5.00 a week to pass a school levy.  I sure as hell am not going to give my money to you.  Also, before I give you that much money, I want to make sure your organization is using the money wisely.  The American Cancer Society uses 93 cents of every dollar on research or programs to help the people affected by this disease.  Plus, how do I know that your lobbying efforts are in my best interest as we are looking at all alternate energy sources. 

In short, respect my time and answers or get the heck off my porch.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekend Round-up

So Dave was sick last week which is really unusual.  He had all the symptoms of Strep Throat without actually having it.  He came home on Wednesday and looked horrible.  This put a damper on any plans we would have had since his throat was still sore on Saturday.  We most likely would not have done anything anyway because I had a dinner party with the girls on Saturday night.

This dinner party was rescheduled from when I had strep last month.  It is always so much fun to meet up with Kellie and Lynn from the 40th Birthday Trip.  The dinner club also has Mary who is Lynn's sister and Meg who was Lynn's friend, but is now friends with all of us.  These dinners are always so much fun and my face hurts from laughing when I go home.  It kind of leaves me with an identity crisis as these people remember me at my most horrifying self, but have now seen me at what I hope is getting to be closer to my best.  There is nothing quite like having someone tell you how great you are and then in the next sentence tell you that they remember when it seemed like your legs came out of your head which was capped with a really bad perm, glasses and a mouth full of braces. 

On Sunday we went to the Cleveland Legofest.  It was not what I expected, but I am not sure what I was expecting.  All it was was a bunch of Lego's.  If you were in the 12 and under set you enjoyed it.  For those of us in the 40 and over set, it was a big rip-off.  There was an area where you could make a car and then race it down a track.  There was a city that was built by the master builders where you could build other things to into it.  The boys both made a boat.  As soon as you walked away a woman would come by and take your creation away.  My favorite part was called the Mystery Mosaic.  They gave each of us a 2" x 2" tile that had different colors on it and then we had to match those up to the Lego's on the table.  Then you took your square and helped to place it in the big mosaic.  One of them was the landscape of Cleveland and the second one was the different characters in Lego video games. 

After we were done with the Logos we went to get something to eat at Bob Evans.  (Ryan insists that it should be called Bob Ebans.)  As we came out a man approached us and told us that he was out of gas and he forgot his wallet.  Could we please lend him some money to get some gas so he could get home.  I gave him some money and Dave thought I was crazy.  I ask you, would you have given him the money?  Incidentally, he did go to the gas station.  I feel like I paid into the Karma bank with it.  I hope one day if I need help someone will help me.  You know, the whole do unto others as you will have them do unto you. 

It was a fine weekend as far as they go.  We made some memories for the boys and spent time together as a family.  Really, what more can you ask for? 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reaffirming Decisions

Ryan is in kindergarten and there are so many opportunities to volunteer in the classroom compared to the sixth grade.  In middle school they are just as happy that you aren't there.  Since I have some flexibility in my paying job I am helping out for one hour a week on Fridays.  There have been times in my life where I have wondered if I made a mistake by not being a teacher instead of going into sales.  Today I am confident that my decision to get a business degree was, in fact, a good one. 

It is not that the kids were bad.  A bit loud, but what does one expect when there are 20 kids in one room during snack time.  It is not that the kids weren't cute.  In fact, a few of them melted my heart.  The emotions they have are so genuine and on the surface.  They so want to have your attention and love that they will do almost anything to get it. 

I think the thing that makes me crazy is that there is constant motion and energy.  It is as if you are sitting on a bomb and if you make one false move it will erupt into a ball of chaos that will never be under control again.  Ryan's teacher has been teaching for 20+ years and was immune to it.  I could never be. 

Tonight Ryan and I went to the family dance and basket raffle at his school.  Dave is sick so he didn't have to endure the bedlam that ensued.  If I had any doubts after this morning they were shattered this evening.   Did you know that small kids equate dancing to running and tackling?  They also think that screaming is the only acceptable form of communication.  Combine that with the DJ and it was a recipe for pandemonium. 

There will be a special place in heaven for people that can be elementary school teachers, most of whom truly love what they do.  I am grateful for people that have that special talent and character.  I am also grateful that God saw fit to lead me down a different path.    I have faith that he knew I didn't have it in me. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How About Those Apples

As I have mentioned about 100 times, I have given up pop and most processed sugar.  Okay, except for the five candy bars I had today.  The kids shouldn't have left it on the kitchen counter if they didn't want me to eat it.  I had to sample one of each kind.  Can you believe that they hardly got any Reece's Peanut Butter Cups?  Anyway, in place of donuts and cookies I have been eating fruits, mainly apples, bananas and grapes. 

When we were little we lived in a neighborhood where most of the people that lived there built their houses.  There were three houses on the street that had kids, and the rest had grandkids that would come visit.  In one of those houses lived Mrs. Harmon.  How do I tell you what she meant to me?  First, she was the person that watched my sisters when my parents went to the hospital to have me. I have known her literally since the day I was born.   She was as close to a grandparent that I had after all of mine had passed away.  I could go down to her house to "talk politics" with her.  She would listen to me talk for however long I wanted, and she never once made me feel like I was wasting her time or that she had something better to do. 

If we had a problem, we could call her at any time and she would do her best to help us.  We called her once to find out how to get black grease out of our brand new carpet.  She found a way.  She would encourage us to drive her car when she would be out of town so the battery wouldn't die.  I am pretty sure it wouldn't have had a problem for the two weeks she was in Texas visiting her real grandkids. She knew the competition for a car in a house with four girls.   In short, she would have done just about anything for us.  She had an amazing laugh that I can still hear today.  Her smile was infectious and she had an energy that made anyone around her feel warm.  We were loved.

The other thing that Mrs. H had was an apple orchard in her back yard.  We would play outside all day in the summer and if we got hungry we would grab an apple or two.  We would run down to her house before the bus came and grab one for our lunch.  As I have been eating these apples the last few weeks I think of her every time.  I was so lucky to have her in my life, and I still feel loved every time I eat one.  Thanks Sherri and Melissa for sharing her with us.   She was loved very much.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Wrap-up

It is not a secret that I am not the biggest fan of Halloween.  When I was little it fell during the height of allergy season and I was usually too sick to go trick or treating, or one of my sisters were and we would carry an extra bag for her.  People that didn't know us really well would think we were just trying to get extra candy.  I am also the youngest of four kids so it seemed like I was always getting the costumes that were on the edge of death, and not in a good halloweeny way.  I am sure that this is not the case, but I had youngest kid syndrome. 

Since Halloween was a big deal for Dave's family growing up, and I want my kids to have all the experiences youth has to offer, I try to make the effort for the kids.  Each year I let the kids pick their ideal costumes, and if I can get it at a reasonable price I will do it. 

This year Colin decided he wanted to be a Tootsie Roll.  Have we established that I am not the crafty mom?  In case we haven't, I am not that mom, in fact, I am the antithesis of that mom, but I was up to the challenge. 

I went to the fabric store and scouted out my options and decided that felt was the way to go.  $7 later and I was on my way.  It might be a good time to point out that I went to the store right after the step class.  My face was as red as the red felt that I needed for the costume. 

I made the costume while Dave took the boys to get their hair cut.  I measured the black felt and made sure that it was not too long for Colin so he wouldn't step on it.  I sewed the white and red stripes together and then sewed them on the black.  Here is where it proves that I am not the crafty mom.  I didn't take into account that this would add about 10 total inches to the length of the costume making it about 4.5 feet tall.  Colin is around 5 feet tall and I hadn't sewn on the straps yet.  Heck, Dave would have been too short for it.  It would have fit Shaquille O'Neal.  I cut it apart and took out a big chunk and then took an inch off the top and the bottom and started again.  Some blood (I stuck my finger with a pin, and Max got in the way) sweat, and swearing later, and this is what we ended with:



After all that work I have to say that I am pretty happy with the result.  It is adjustable so Colin could wear his heavy coat.  (It was freezing here, as usual.) It will also be the go-to costume for any time I have to dress up in the future.  Maybe I should also take this time to tell you how much I hate to dress up.  You will have to take my word for it that Colin was cute since I am still resolved not to post any pictures of my kids faces on this blog. 


Now on to Thanksgiving.  Food and Family is a holiday I can get behind!  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Step II

So, I went back to step aerobics class again, and again have lived to tell about it.  There is no question that I have little to no coordination.  This time we had a new teacher and I was kind of excited.  This woman did not look like someone that should be leading a step class because she had a little bit of heft to her.  I was wrong.  This woman had it going on.  Halfway through she said, "You in the back, you have to learn your feet before you learn your arms."  That wasn't one bit humiliating.

I missed Zumba class because of the Halloween parties and now I am volunteering on Fridays for Ryan's class so I am going to have to limit it to Tuesdays at 6:30.  Starting next week. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stepping Up

Last week I decided that I needed to face this winter head on so I went to see a chiropractor that looks at your total body and lifestyle and has a proven record of helping people with anxiety and depression like I do.  I figured it couldn't hurt and I didn't have anything to lose. 

Of course, his main suggestion was to give up pop.  Good Lord, I don't smoke, I rarely drink, I have no bad habits but my Polar Pop which, even though it holds 32 ounces, I fill it all the way up with crushed ice and then fill it up with about 12 ounces of Coke, the equivalent of a can a day.  Can I have no fun in my life? 

I am now on day five of little to no coke.  I have to tell you that I have been kind of cranky, but I am feeling better.  I have also cut out cookies and bread.  Oh, and M&M's and donuts. 

I addition, he said that I needed to keep exercising.  Today my friend Emily and I went to the gym to play racquetball.  I took it in college and thought it would just come right back.  She played tennis and thought that we could make it work.  We were wrong.  I took my racket from college that has not been used in about 15 years.  Let me tell you what happens to a racket that has not been used in 15 years.  The grip disintegrates in your hand.  At first I couldn't understand why my hands looked like I had been working in the garden, but I quickly realized that the grip was missing.  Who knew? 

After a half an hour Emily suggested that Power Step class was starting and maybe we should give it a try. I told her that I have never taken an aerobics class in my life, and was rhythmically challenged, but I would give it a whirl. 

I ran track all through high school and was in good shape when I went to college so I never joined in when my roommates would go to these classes.  I knew I would make a fool of myself and couldn't see how this would benefit me in any way.  The one time they talked me into it I tripped on the step outside of my apartment and scraped my knee.  I took this as a sign from God himself that I was not cut out for this type of exercise and went back home.  Here I am, a 40 year old woman, and thought that this would be a fine idea. 

Let me tell you, it was a BAD IDEA! I thought it would be okay because the instructor had said they didn't do a lot of complicated choreography.   I did okay as we were marching in place.  I was fine while we did the stretching.  I was even hanging in there while they did the step up and down, and then it all went horribly wrong. 

First let me say that I was standing behind a woman that had the definition of BUNS OF STEEL.  You could bounce quarters off that behind.  She also had TWO STEPS.  That means that she made the step higher to work harder.  I was trying to follow what she was doing and still maintain an upright position.  They started to do this "L" move that I still can't figure out.  Turns out that was the easiest move they did.  I can't even tell you what the other things were.  I alternated between marching in place and laughing out of control.  I managed to move the entire time, and not take anyone else down with me. 

Tomorrow I am going to try Zumba for beginners and seniors.  You might want to stay away so I don't hurt you with my attempts at dancing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Being Fully Present

Yesterday was one of those days that the kids have off of school for no apparent reason.  I think it had to do with conferences or something like that.  Dave took the day off too, so we decided that we would go to Fun and Stuff which is a local place where you can do a bunch of things like laser tag.  I decided that I was going to go and be fully present and participate in every activity that the kids wanted to do, even if it killed me. 

The first thing we did when we got there was go on the Krazy Kars.  They are round bumper cars so not only can you ram into your loved ones and various strangers in the 15 and under crowd, you can also spin around and make yourself sick.  It was pretty fun.  As I was being crashed on all sides I had the thought that the new chiropractor I had started to see would not be amused. 

The next thing we did was go sign up for Laser Tag.  To Colin, this is the BEST! THING! EVER!  I have played with him a few times, but it has been a few years.  I have a confession to make.  When I am put in competitive situations, I can not be held responsible for my actions.  I get a little bit crazy.  Once we were playing a holiday version of Trivial Pursuit with my in-laws.  I believe I went a bit overboard when I was yelling at my team because they did not know the colors of the candles in the advent wreath off the top of their heads.(The answer is pink and purple in case you had a burning desire to know.)  Another time we were playing Monopoly with Dave's 80 something aunt and I plotted to bankrupt her so I could win.  I am not proud of my behavior so I often avoid situations that unleash the beast. 

During the first game of Laser Tag I was able to keep myself in check.  I made a respectable showing and stayed close to Colin's score.  It was when we went back later in the day that things got kind of ugly.  There were four kids that were in the 11 to 12 year old set that were talking smack.  They were acting like typical tweeners on their own for the day.  I was doing fine until they started trash talking me.  It was at that point that it was game on!  I took no prisoners and cornered one kid and shot until I was out of shots.  He said "geeze, I am just a kid".  Again, I am not proud of my behavior.

Dave decided that he wanted to roller skate.  If Dave was going to do it, by God I was too.   That is, until I had my skates on and stood up.  I made it about 10 feet and decided that a broken bone was not worth being fully present, and common sense took over.  I have not skated in about 30 years.  Yesterday was not the time to start.  Dave and Colin made it around the rink and Ryan and I went off to do some arcade bowling. 

When we met back up Colin wanted to do the Rock Wall.  He is really good at it and makes it look kind of easy.  You guessed it, I tried it, too.   I made it about a quarter of the way up, but my hands got sweaty and I was having a hard time finding a good place to put my feet.  Having big feet does not help when climbing the rock wall.  Have I mentioned how big my feet are?  Big!  I can now cross that off my bucket list. 

Colin did this thing where you had to try to make it across a room without breaking a laser beam.  He was really good at it.  The whole time he was crawling and bending and jumping his way through, I couldn't help but sing the "Mission Impossible" theme song in my mind.  I am sorry to say that 24 hours later it is still stuck there. 

Finally, we went outside to the go-carts.  I am now disclosing that I am a graduate of the BMW test track driving school.  You know, the one in South Carolina.  Yep, That one.  The Real One!  Lets also remember the beast had been unleashed in Laser Tag.  Also, I had the two person car because Ryan is still too short to drive on his own so he rode with me.  The first time we rode, I had a bad car.  Ryan was fine with this because he is not a speed demon.  We were out for a leisurly ride waving as people lapped us.  It was the second time that got a little heated.  You guessed it, the laser tag kids were there.  I had a fast car.  I got to go first and after about three laps around the track I started to pass people.  I approached the LT kids and they were not about to be passed by me.  They swerved in front of me to prevent me from passing.  They bumped me on the turns.  I decided to be the adult and back off.  Again, they started with the trash talk.  I guess they had not learned their lesson so I had to school them on go-cart driving.  There are some advantages to being behind.  I stalked them until the last lap and then passed on the first turn.  They ate my exhaust the whole way around. 

I have to say the day was an all around success.  We had a great time as a family and had a ton of laughs and fun.  I think we created some good memories for the kids, and I got to see pure joy on their faces.  Their giggles are music to my soul.  I am happy to report that the beast is captured back in the cage and hopfully won't unleash itself again for a long time. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

State of the Blog Address

This blog started as an outlet for my creativity, frustration, joy and life in general.  I told a few people about it and then started posting it on Facebook when I did something new.  I never expected to stick with it, or that anyone besides my family would be interested. 


Flash forward to now.  I have had 4200 hits to this little hobby and have been read in over 10 different countries.  I found out that I can't count Spain because it was my friend Lynn reading it while he was there on business.  I have posted over 100 times and have shared some things about myself that I used to keep quiet but now have told in the hopes of helping someone else who might be in my shoes. 

I have also made $7.00 on adsense ads.  This is kind of funny since they don't pay you until you hit $100.  At this rate I might be able to get something fun for myself when the kids graduate from college.  They are currently 6 and 11. 

Anyway, I appreciate all of the people that have been reading.  Thanks for taking the time to hang out with me.  I hope to see you around soon. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fall is not for the Faint of Heart....

On an unrelated note, I think that Dave and I should sell ourselves to other cities that are in big sports markets. It is no secret that there has not been a championship team in Cleveland since 1964 when the Browns won. It seems that any team that we root for loses. My loyalties are for sale to the highest bidder. If you want me to root for your opponent, let me know and, for the right price, I will take them out of the playoffs. This will almost certainly mean a winner for your city. I am mentioning this because as I write this post, the MLB playoffs are on my television. We were rooting for Milwaukee, but since Dave has been watching, the Brewers are blowing a one-run lead in the ninth inning of game 5. For the sake of the city of Milwaukee, I have asked him to turn it off, but he insists on watching. I will apologize in advance to the city of St. Louis since that is who he is rooting for in the next game. Detroit can thank me since I distracted him last night during their game with the Yankees. I commandeered the remote and made him watch the DVR'd episode of "The Big Bang Theory."

I can tell that fall is coming.  The hickory nuts in the back are falling and when they hit the deck in the back yard they sound like bullets.  It is colder than I am prepared for, and the leaves are changing.  The final straw is when the Goldenrod starts to bloom and makes me miserable. 

Can you tell that Fall is not my favorite season?  It is the precursor to Winter which is my black hole.  I can already feel myself falling into the pit that is called winter depression.  Last year I just let it happen.  It was a long and brutal winter that went on FOREVER!  That is really not an exaggeration.

This year I am doing something about it.  I have joined a gym and plan on taking Zumba classes.  My friend is going to play racquetball with me and we will take out all our aggressions on a little blue ball.  It is better than taking them out on Dave, or our kids. 

Last year was the closest that I have come to losing all my marbles.  It was a true white-knuckle ride.  It felt like the walls were crumbling down on me and for every foot I would make up the tunnel I would fall back about six inches.  I really need to move from here to a place where it is warmer for more of the year than it is cold.  The fact of the matter is that until I can get 24 immediate family members to move with me, it is not going to happen.   Until I win the lottery or convince them that we would all be happier moving to South Carolina, I will stay here in Ohio with our cold weather and losing sports teams and dream of a day when I will be warm again. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hey, I Haven't Forgotten About You

Colin pointed out that it has been awhile since I have posted anything.  There are a few reasons for that as we have had some stuff going on.  Let me detail it for you. 

Last week on Sunday Ryan came up from watching Star Wars (again, sigh...) and said that he was hot.  Because Ryan likes to act out all of the fight scenes complete with a light saber and Rocket from "Little Einsteins", I didn't really think anything of it.  With hindsight being 20/20, I should have paid a bit more attention.  He came into our room around 4:00 in the morning and said he thought he was going to throw up.  I am happy to say that he made it to the bathroom each time.  I am sorry to say that he threw up six times over the following 48 hours.  He was so sad and it broke my heart. 

Wednesday was a day of playing catch-up.  I was busy all day.  Wednesday night I wasn't feeling so well so I  went to bed after dinner.  I had a headache, sore throat and my stomach wasn't feeling so great.  I was sure it was the power of suggestion and that I was just tired.  No such luck.  When I woke up my throat felt like there were razor blades inside and even my hair hurt.  In short, I was dying.  A quick trip to the doctor showed that somebody had shared Strep Throat with me. 

When Colin came home from school I asked him if he could get Ryan off the bus because I had Strep.  He said, and I quote, "I told you all week I didn't feel good and you didn't believe me."  This is true.  He had been telling me that his throat and stomach had hurt, but he would say this as he was going about his daily routine.   He had no fever and was acting normal. 

On Friday I sent Colin to school but made an appointment for him at lunch time.  Before the doctor even took the throat culture he said he had strep.  Usually it takes forever for him to come back, but this time the door hardly even closed behind him before he was back with the results.  I almost cried.  How could I have missed this?  More importantly, how was Colin functioning when I was sure that I wanted to crawl into my bed and sleep for a week. 

Just when I thought it was safe to come back and face the world, Colin started complaining that his stomach hurt.  I tried to chalk it up to the medicine upsetting his stomach, only to be faced with another child throwing up for another 48 hours. 

Today was the first day that everyone was where they are supposed to be.  I think we are all back to a good place, and the cleaning ladies came yesterday to help disinfect the palace.  Here is to better days ahead. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Really, I don't know how we do it.

Last night I went to see the movie "I Don't Know How She Does It" with Sarah Jessica Parker.  I have to say that the whole thing hit a little too close to home.  It details the obstacles of being a working mom, and I have encountered all of them. 

A working mom faces so many areas of criticism, most of it coming from other women.  We really are our own worst enemies, but this should come as no big surprise.  The cattiness starts around 4th grade and really goes until we are about 75, or so I hear.  The usual arguments are if you are a working mom, you are allowing someone else to raise your kids.  I have been told that I am missing the very best parts of being a mom.  The Stay-at-Home mom is told that they are wasting the best years of their life and are not contributing to their household income in any meaningful way.  They will never recover from the lost work experience and sit around all day doing nothing but eating bon-bons and watching TV. 

I have been both, and I can say that each of them have advantages and disadvantages.  Dave and I have decided that for our family it is best if I work.  I need to be connected to other people and when I am a SAHM I tend to spiral into out-of-control anxiety and depression.  I am a better mother when I come home to my kids than when I am with them all day.  I think even the kids would agree with this.  And who are we kidding, the money is important, too. 

The problem with working is that there are so many things that need to be done, and such a short amount of time in which to get them done. You really do have to work twice as hard to be seen as an equal, and God help you if you need to do a kid related activity.   I used to work at a job where I traveled up to 10 days of the month.  The kids were 3 and 8 at the time and it was just too hard.  I would wake up and not know where I was.  One hotel was the same as the next and I found myself in all sorts of situations that now keep me up at night.  I once had the school secretary call me when I was in Dallas to tell me that Colin fell into a puddle and his pants were soaking wet.  I was able to orchestrate a mission to get him new pants while still participating in a meeting.  It is not quite as bad as getting a text alerting me to a lice outbreak, but still a critical mission none the less.  I might point out that Dave was sitting at his desk in the same state as the wet pants and nobody thought to call him. 

The Equal Rights Amendment helped women get opportunities that we have never had before.  The only problem is that while we picked up more responsibilities, we didn't share any that we already had.  I am very lucky that Dave helps so much with our kids and household, but even he will tell you that the majority falls on me.  I am the one that is responsible for making sure they are where they are supposed to be, and that they are in the care of someone we trust if we aren't there.  I do the laundry and cooking.  I make sure that projects are done and they have what they need for school.  In short, I am a general running this thing we call the Murray house. 

The sheer volume of things that need to be taken care of with two children can be overwhelming on a good day and then when you add in a job/career that also helps to fulfill you it becomes a huge balancing act.  At the end of the day, I am exhausted and cranky.  It is hard to imagine that I will be able to get up and do it all again tomorrow.  I think it must be the same feeling a boxer has when he is down for the count.  I have tried all different ways to make it easier and have found that there really isn't a shortcut here.  As it turns out, if given the opportunity, I really wouldn't change a thing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Were You?

Ten years later, September 11th is still such an emotional thing that I am having trouble watching the coverage on television.  When we get to the anniversary it is like picking a scab you thought had healed.  I have put myself on a media lock down.  When I reflect back, I wonder how we made it through such a horrific event and have come out whole, that we have found a new normal.

The day started like many others.  I woke up, turned on the Today show and got ready for work.  I remember them talking about the date being 9-11 and thinking that was kind of weird.  I took Colin to Tricia's house and went to work.  I was doing a project and needed to run a bunch of reports and I also had a meeting to discuss the design of a new website that I needed to prepare for.   I was deep into it when my boss walked out of his office to tell us that a plane had flown into Tower 1.  My immediate reaction was to call Ann who was, at that time a stay-at-home mom. 

I was on the phone with her as the second plane hit.  It has become my definition for unbelievable.  I remember whispering because I thought I would be in trouble for making a personal call.  I was trying to sneak onto to Internet but all the news sites had crashed.  I went about my day and still had the meeting in the afternoon for the website.  Before I went in the meeting they had grounded all flights and I really needed to Fedex some drawings to a customer and it wouldn't go out. I was irritated by the inconvenience.  Right before I went in, Dave had called me to tell me that a plane had turned around over Cleveland and was heading back to Washington.   I thought it was all wild speculation and it couldn't be true.  Too much had already happened and I just couldn't believe it was still going on.  Certainly enough had already happened and we couldn't take any more. 

As I was in my meeting the towers started to collapse and the Pentagon was hit.  It was at this time that we called the meeting off.  One of the designer's best friends was a flight attendant and he couldn't find out where she was.  Amazingly, we stayed at work all day.  When I finally got home I went out to get the mail to find out that our neighbor that we really didn't know that well, had a son that lived in Washington and they hadn't heard from him.  He didn't really have business in the Pentagon so they thought he must be okay, but there was no telling what else was going to happen and where it would hit.  Public transportation had been shut down and he had to walk home.  The phone lines were jammed and he couldn't get through.  He ended up being fine. 

We watched the around-the-clock coverage.  There was literally nothing else on and it was so horrible and unbelievable that you just couldn't look away.  Peter Jennings cried on air when he finally heard from his kids.  The feelings were overwhelming and so diverse.  It was fear, intense sadness, anger, patiotism, confusion, hopelessness and despair, loneliness and strangely at the same time, solidarity.  It was truly a loss of innocence and peace.  It divided things into before and after. 

The strangest thing for me, aside from the obvious was that they suspended all flights of any kind.  We live by a small private airport and the intense quiet was eerie.  It is the same effect when the electricity goes off and then you notice the noises of the house by their silence.  Conversely, when they started flying again it was so strange to hear it again and I was strangely scared.

I remember going to church that week and trying so hard not to cry.  When I reflect back, I wonder why I just didn't let it out.  I can't believe we stayed at work all day.  I can't believe we went back the next.  I can't believe we were able to go through that time and come out on the other side. 

No, I can't believe anyone alive that day will ever forget.  I am forever changed, some for the good, and some for the bad.  I find that I am more willing to go out of my way to help others, and would like to think that I am a bit less self-centered,  but I am also much more vigilant and protective.  I no longer think that I am guaranteed a tomorrow.  I no longer believe that America is always right, but I still believe that this is the best place on earth to live and if people had the opportunity to come and see what we are all about, they would most likely agree.    I am thankful that we have been able to make a new kind of normal, but I will never forget.  No, I will never forget. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bus Stop Talk

This is the conversation Ryan and I had on the way home from the bus stop today:

Me: How was your day?

Ryan:  MOM, I AM SO ANNOYED!

Me:  What happened?

Ryan:  I sat next to Susie* on the bus and now Pete* keeps saying I have a girlfriend!  I am too young to have a girlfriend!
Me:  (silently in my head:  HELL YES YOU ARE TOO YOUNG TO HAVE A GIRLFRIEND!)

Me:  (out loud) Don't worry about it, they are just trying to make you mad.

Ryan: (with all the attitude his little body can muster, and that is a lot of attitude)  Well, I'm MAD ALRIGHT!

I had to walk ahead of him the rest of the way home so he couldn't see me laughing.  Then he would have been mad at me, and Lord knows I don't want that reigning down on me!

Upon reading this, it might only be funny if you were there.  Sorry

*names have been changed to protect the somewhat innocent.

Monday, September 5, 2011

11 Favorite Things About Colin

Colin has pointed out that I have been more vocal about Ryan and I wanted to even the scales.  Here are my 11 favorite things about him since he is now officially 11 and a half. 

1.  He is my first born and I had five full years of him all to myself without distraction.  Those were some of the best years of my life.

2.  Colin has always been a great conversationalist.  Now that he is getting older and we have more in common, I love talking to him even more. 

3.  The sound of Colin's laughter is better than the best music and is one of my favorite sounds. 

4.  I love that he is willing to go with the flow if I ask him to, even and especially when I know that he is hesitant or aprehensive. 

5.  I love that he loves to read.  It is my favorite thing to do, and I am glad that he can enjoy it with me. 

6. I am so happy that he has developed a sense of self and is not afraid to stand up for himself, even and especially when it is not the easy road to take.  This will serve him well in life. 

7.  He is kind to everyone with the exception of his brother.  He could work on that a little bit, but Ryan does not make it easy. 

8.  Colin has a wicked sense of humor.  It is very dry and when delivered by an 11 year old it cracks me up. 

9.  He looks before he leaps.  He thinks things through to see the end result before he gets involved.  I am thankful for that the closer he gets to his teenage years. 

10.  Colin is very helpful.  While he is not the quickest to jump when I ask him to do things, I do appreciate all he does. 

11.  Ryan doesn't understand this yet, but Colin is a great brother.  They could not be any more different if they tried, it is a good thing that Colin is older.  Anyone else would have lost it, and Colin has too, but he does have a tremendous amount of patience with him. 

Colin, I am so glad that I get to be your mom.  I love you!

Monday, August 29, 2011

And So It Begins....

We are now starting the first full week of school, and so far so good.  The day before it began Ryan had a hard time falling asleep because his eyes just didn't want to stay shut.  He asked me over and over again how he would know when it was time to get off the bus.  When I answered that when he got to his school the bus driver would tell him, he just wasn't satisfied.  Of all the things I thought would make him nervous, this wasn't even on my radar.  We had open house so he got to meet his teacher and see where he sat and where to put his stuff.  He got to meet the lunch lady and see where the bathroom is located.  That really seemed to calm him down. 

The big morning came and Dave went into work late to see him get on the bus.  We all waited down at the corner and the bus came.  He hopped right on and waved to us from the window.  No muss, no fuss.  Just hopped right on.  Most of me was really glad it went that way.  I didn't have to worry that he was upset and alone for the first time ever.  A tiny part of me was really sad because I realized that this was the last time one of my kids would be starting school for the first time.  My boy is growing up. 

I wasn't as ready as I thought I was. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Bookends

Lauren is starting college next week, and since she is going to become a Golden Flash, (go Kent State University!) I asked if she would like to go over to the campus and map out the best path to get to her classes.  We decided to go today, so I took the boys and met Lauren and William at the student center.

We call Lauren and Ryan the bookends because she is the oldest and he is the youngest.  While we were waiting for Lauren and William eat their Subway sandwiches and mapping out our plan, Ryan told Lauren (yet again) that he is starting Kindergarten.   It is at times like this that I can truly see the full scope of our family and where we are in our lives, how far the kids have come, and how much farther some of them have to go. 

Both of them are embarking on a new educational career.  They are both nervous about how things are going to go, meeting new friends, and finding their classrooms.  Lauren has already successfully navigated the wild and dangerous waters known as  high school.  She graduated and made it into the honors college at KSU.    She is carrying on in the fine tradition of both of her parents and Dave and me, too.  I am so excited for what is ahead of her. 

Ryan has successfully navigated the dangerous waters of Kathy's Preschool.  (You may have heard me tell just about anyone that will listen to me how much I loved it there.) He has had to deal with his first bully, crusts on his sandwich and nap time.  Oh how he hated nap time.  His eyes were never tired and had a really hard time staying closed.   

I think it is safe to say that they are both ready for their respective challenges, and I can't wait to hear about their first days.  I will keep you posted.    

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!

When Dave and I were dating and had what seemed like unlimited time and money, we used to go to about eight to ten Indians games a year.  We started going when they were at Municipal Stadium where every seat had a great view of a pole.  We even went to the Final Series.  I can't tell you how many times we have gone at Jacob's Field/Progressive Field, but it is a ton. 

When we were going that much it was when the team was really good in the mid 90's and one of our favorite players was Jim Thome.   He currently has 598 home runs and Dave wanted to go to see him play this weekend with the Minnisota Twins in the hope that he would hit #600 while we were there.  So we packed up the boys and headed out to the game. 

When I go to the game it is a lot less about seeing baseball and more about people watching.  Here are a few things I observed:

1.  I had to go to the bathroom.  Perhaps I am a total germaphobe, but one of the first things I can remember my mom telling me is that we do not take food into the bathroom.  I couldn't believe it when someone was standing in the sink area holding an entire hot pretzel the size of her head.  I can only pray that she did not take it into the stall with her or I would have had to throw up on it for her so she could not possibly eat it.  I would have been doing her a favor.  I was also questioning whether or not she actually washed her hands, or where she put it while she did it.  Obviously I have given this way too much thought. 

2.  As each player walks to the plate to bat, they get to choose the music that is playing.  It ranges from country to rap to spanish rock.  There was even an Irish Jig for Jack Hannahan.  To the man that was sitting next to me before we had to move because you were so annoying, with music that diverse, it is not appropriate to do the robot dance with all of them.  Also, sometimes it is appropriate to JUST STOP TALKING!

3.  To Sandy Duncan, thanks for signing an autograph for Colin.  It really made his day that a real life athelete at a real life professional sporting event took the time to do that.  I know you are not a superstar of the team, but you are a nice guy. 

4.  Again, just because you can fit into clothes from the junior department doesn't mean you should wear them.  If you are no longer a junior, please stop shopping there!  I AM BEGGING YOU.

5.  Finally, I didn't really want to go to the game.  One of the symptoms I have with my high anxiety and depression is that it always seems like things will take an unattainable amount of energy to accomplish anything.  All week, whenever Dave would talk about it I would have some excuse for why I didn't want to go.  If I would have succeeded in talking him out of it I would have missed a night filled with this: 



Jim Thome did not hit any home runs, but the Indians won the game!  It was a really great night.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Other Things Keeping Us Busy...

As I have mentioned in every post for the last month or two, we have been really busy.  Here are a couple of things keeping us occupied.

Adam and Marsena got married!  You may remember me talking about them when I was telling you about the Fritz Family being my guardian angels.  Adam is the oldest child in that family and he has been dating Marsena for eleven, yes, I said eleven years.  They had just started going out when we started going to Tricia's house for babysitting.  I remember telling Tricia that I wouldn't bother to get to know her because they were graduating and would be going their separate ways.  I am so happy that I was wrong.  Aren't they the cutest couple?  I loved her dress, and we got a great seat at the family table. 



I also went to dinner with Kellie and Lynn from our 40th Birthday Weekend!  That in and of itself is not that exciting, but my best friend from grade school, Susan, joined us.  She left our school to go to a Catholic high school and we lost touch.  Then she moved to California.  The wonder that is Facebook reconnected us and we have seen her twice in two years.  So. Much. Fun!  With all three of these women, we had not talked in about 15+ years and it was like we had not missed any time.  I am so happy to have reconnected with all of them.  Aren't they beautiful?  We have come a long way from bad perms and glasses.  (Well I had a bad perm and glasses.  Oh, and the braces added a nice finishing touch.  It took a lot of work to get me to this place.)



This post is getting long.  Next time I will tell you about Fun 'n Stuff.  I believe this has been the highlight of Colin's summer.  Nothing beats Laser Tag for an 11 year old boy. 

  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Help Me Decide...

Okay, as I promised yesterday, I got two new pairs of sandals and I can only keep one.  I need you to help me decide which one to keep.  The purpose for this sandal is to wear when I want a casual sandal but not as casual as my Clark sandal.  I want to wear it with a summer dress or a pair of shorts out for dinner.  You get the point.

Here they are in no particular order. 



This shoe has a little bit of a heel on it and is very comfortable.  I like that it is black around my toes.  I am afraid it might be a tad too dressy. 


This shoe is totally flat and is also very comfortable.  I am concerned that since it is white around my toes that might get dirty and not be so cute.  It is kind of a suede feeling material. 

I wish I knew how to do one of those instant polls where I could get the results immediately as we all know that patience is not a virtue I possess, but leave a comment or if that doesn't work, send me an email at onethirdacrewoods@gmail.com

Thanks for your help!  I will let you know the answer in the next day or two. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Getting, Getting, Getting Kind of Crazy!

It is days like today that I live in Ohio.  Okay, that and my 20 relatives that won't come to a warmer climate with me.  We all know that I can't move anywhere without them. 

Today the high temperature has been 80 degrees with low humidity.  Colin and I walked down to Handles for ice cream.  (If you don't have a Handles ice cream stand by you, I feel sorry for you, it is GREAT!)  I love to spend time with him, and the extra added bonus of getting some exercise in the fresh air without sweating through my clothes made it all the better.

We have been sitting on our back porch all day and just finished dinner.  That is really nice now that I don't have to worry that the roof is going to cave in on me.  I am writing this post while each of us gets to choose a song to listen to.  Colin chose Another One Bites the Dust, Ryan chose Ghostbusters, I chose You're My Best Friend, and Dave did Wanted Dead or Alive.  We are so predictable. 

It has been insanely busy for the last couple of weeks and I feel like I am finally getting my head back above water.  The end of summer break is in sight and that means that Ryan is finally going to full day kindergarten.  After 11.5 years I will finally be done paying for daycare.  Holy Cow Am I Excited! 

Finally, I got a new pair of shoes from Zappo's.  Can I tell you how much I love this website?  Again, I am not getting anything from Zappo's to tell you this, but they have revolutionized the way I buy shoes.  I wear a 9 AA.  Growing up is was usually a slim.  I had to wear old lady shoes my whole life.  Now I can go on the site, say I want a black strappy sandal in my size and it pops up with all the choices.  I then narrowed it down to heal height and it popped up with about 20 choices.  They had it to me the next day and has free shipping to me and back if I don't like them.  Tomorrow I will show you my two choices and let you pick which are cuter. 

Until then, I am going to enjoy the rest of the day.  It will soon be back in the 90's with 95% humidity.  If I didn't have such a strong policy against sleeping outside, I might just sleep on my deck.  Don't worry, the fresh air has not gone to my head.  I will just sleep with the windows open in my Luxurious-Queen-Sized-Stickley-Bed.  That is a story for another day. 

The Wilds

Life has gotten away from me.  It has been a wild and crazy ride the last few weeks, but that is not what I am talking about today.  Last week we went to a little gem of Ohio called The Wilds.  It is 10,000 acres of wild animals in as close to their natural habitats as possible allowed to roam free. 

So Dave got up on Thursday of his vacation week and once again didn't want to sit around on his day off, so he decided that we should drive 2.5 hours away to the middle of nowhere so we could drive around what amounts to a reclaimed strip mine.  I have been incredibly busy with my other life and the laundry is around my ears.  All I wanted to do was stay home and get some stuff done.  This was not to be and we set off on yet another adventure. 

First we called William and convinced him to come with us.  William wants to study animals in their natural habitat and has mentioned about 45+ times how much he loved going there and how he would like to go back.   We headed to get him and then had 3 hours to get to our destination.  Our GPS told us it would be 2 hours and 15 minutes so we headed out thinking that we would get something to eat on the way.  Again, to make a very long story short, (please just trust me on this) we got to our destination with about 10 minutes to spare. 

We chose to ride the open air bus to see the sites.  The other option was an air conditioned bus, but on the recommendation of the staff, we decided to eat the dust and sweat through our clothes to take the tour.  I am so glad we did.  We had a great tour guide/bus driver names Leeann.  It was her third summer working there and you could tell that she knew the animals, the history of the reserve and that she loved what she was doing.  Her enthusiasm was infectious.

We drove around the preserve and got to see all kinds of animals including, but not limited to, two different kinds of rhinos, camels, giraffes, all different kinds of deer, antelope, ostrich, , cheetah and zebras.  Every time I looked somewhere else there were different kinds of animals to see. 

I am not doing this justice, but I suggest that you go see it for yourself.  I am not getting anything for posting this, but I want to share the good things they are doing and right here in Ohio. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Not-So-Beautiful Part of the Day

Okay people, I do realize that I am 40.  I am making the assumption that I am no longer hip and happening.  Okay, who am I kidding?  I was never really hip and happening.  There is one thing that I do know.  It is not now, nor was it ever, cool to have your thong showing above your pants.  Quite frankly, underwear preference of a total stranger is not something I want to know about.  This is exactly why we wanted to control who we sat by and didn't want to sell our extra U2 tickets on Craig's List. 

A Beautiful Day...

Last Tuesday was a day nine months in the making.  It started last October when Dave was surfing the net talking about bands he would like to see.  As luck would have it, he went to the U2 site and discovered that they had added a final date to the 360 Degree tour, AND IT WAS IN PITTSBURGH,  a mere two hour drive from here.  A few phone calls later and we had Ann and Bob and Mary Beth and John on board.  We joined the fan club so we could get tickets before the lowly general public, and we were on. 

At Thanksgiving we thought it might be a good idea to try to get a hotel room so I started to call around.  To my dismay, all the hotels close to Heinz Field were already sold out.  It was eight months away, who would think that the hotels would already be gone?  We were lucky enough to get three rooms at the Hampton Inn where, on the map, it looked like a delightful summer's night stroll away from the venue. 

Fast forward to a week before the concert when Mary Beth called to tell me that she would not be able to go.  I was really disappointed, but both MB and John have very demanding jobs with somewhat unpredictable schedules.  Who knew that accountant's schedules would be that way.  We had to go With or Without them. That put us on the hunt for two people that would take the tickets that we actually wanted to sit with.  This proved harder than I would have thought.  In fact, small wars have been waged with less calls back and forth between myself and Ann.  To make a very long story short (you are going to have to take my word for it) we ended up with Lauren's boyfriend Mike, and my friend/neighbor, Lisa.

We packed our bags, figured out who was riding with whom, (I told Dave we needed the third seat.  Now maybe he will believe me next time!) and headed east to Pittsburgh!

We got to our hotel and immediately discovered we had a problem.  Instead of 2 double beds we had one king.  If we would have had our original group this would have been preferred.  With the group we ended up with it was not as desirable.  We ended up having the girls plus Will (my 16 year old nephew) on a cot, and the boys plus Mike in the other room.  After we got that all sorted out, we  decided to walk to the restaurant to eat dinner and then head over to Heinz Field.  Remember when I said that it looked like a nice evening stroll?  Guess what?  It was more like a hilly marathon.  On our way to the concert our leader was thinking that we were going to miss the opening band.  It felt like we were doing a 5k in sandals.  My feet were killing me!

Let me tell you, if I would have had to walk 5 times as far to get there, it would have been totally worth it!  There are certain bands growing up that I have dreamt of seeing live.  The Eagles, The Who, Queen, and U2 to name a few.  I have been to The Eagles, The Who, and now U2.  You would think that after being on tour for that long they would sound worn out, but they sounded way better than their recordings.  There is really no good way for me to describe the show.  It was lights, special effects, a great stage, and even better music.  Holy Cow, Bono oozes charisma, and The Edge is no slouch either. They played for almost three hours and had about 4 encores.  They played every song I like but one, and some that I have never heard before.  In short, it will be the concert that all other concerts will be compared to.  I mean really, check this out:





Once the concert was over, of course there were no cabs to take us back to our hotel.  We took the trek back and were all in good spirits after such an amazing concert.  All told, our delightful summer's night stroll was a 6.1 mile hike.  It took about 3 days for my feet to recover. 

The next morning we went down to breakfast and one of my favorite parts of the whole trip was when Lauren saw William texting.  It was around 10:00 and Lauren said, "William, who are you texting, nobody is awake at this hour."  I said that the way she said that you would think it was the middle of the night.  Will replied, "you would have a better chance of getting a reply in the middle of the night."  Perhaps this is why vampires have become such a big cultural phenomenon.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My

This week Dave was on vacation, and as he has pointed out to me, he was not going to sit around all day when he could be out doing fun stuff.  This would account for why I haven't posted in a while.  When he is at work, I am at work, and since I never talk about my work on my blog, I haven't really had much to blog about.  Since he has been home I have not had any time. 

On Monday we went to the Cleveland Zoo.  Their big new attraction is the Elephant Crossing.  For the past several years our elephants have been in Columbus while they built them a new habitat.  It was a very small area and kind of pathetic.  Now it is really amazing.  It seems like they are really close, and in one area you can feed them through a tube.  Ryan had a meltdown because I didn't let him put the quarter in the machine.  Yet one more reason why I am a mean mom and I don't let the kids do anything.  From there we proceeded to ride the train around the Australian Outback and ride a camel.  Yes, you read that right, the mean mom that doesn't allow her kids to do anything, not only let them ride a camel, BUT DAVE AND I RODE IT TOO!

From there we went into the Rain Forest where the humid 80 degrees felt like air conditioning.  This is Colin's favorite part of the zoo, and I was actively trying to talk him out of it.  It was in the opposite direction and I was trying to get to the African Safari to see the giraffes.  As it turns out, the Rain Forest was my favorite part.  They had a baby orangutan that was so animated we watched for about 20 minutes.  He was sitting on his mom's lap and then would antagonize one of the others to get a reaction.  In short, he was acting like a toddler.  As soon as the situation got under control he would start up again.  It sounds like Colin and Ryan at any given time, but it seemed funny when I was not the one that had to break it up. 

We walked for what the boys seemed to think was forever and got to see the rest of the animals.  It was a really hot day and they held up well under the circumstances. As we were driving home and laughing about the orangutans again I realized, this is what the American Dream is all about.  These are the days I should cherish.  It really doesn't get any better than this.