Thursday, May 28, 2009

In my room....

I am trying something new today. I saw this idea on the Kelly's Korner blog. She has a "show us where you live" Friday thing goin' on and this week is kids rooms. As I look at these pictures of my children's rooms through "blog" eyes - the thing that jumps out the most is how much stuff they have! The clutter that I just turn a blind eye to on a daily basis is astonishing! Our neighborhood garage sale cannot come soon enough!

I am going to start with the room that started it all. This is the nursery we decorated while I was pregnant with our first child. We didn't find out if we were having a boy or girl, but it probably wouldn't have changed the theme anyway. We wanted ABC's and primary colors - we wanted that little brain stimulated from the get go! I love the border. We made it out of trim and flashcards purchased at a teacher store.

The room has been lived in by all three of my kids. Hailey is the final inhabitant - that is why there are pink girly touches here and there. The room is our smallest room with a joke of a closet. Wouldn't you know that would be the room that our only GIRL gets to call her own. She may have to barter with her brothers for closet space! With the lack of space, we are thinking that the only bed option that will leave any space at all is a loft sort of bed. Therefore we can't really "do" her room until she is old enough to sleep in a high bed.

The blue ABC wall hanging behind the rocker was sort of the impetus for the room. It was the first thing I bought for the nursery.

My husband made this bookshelf for the room. Once the room is "girlified" it will probably move downstairs to the playroom.

This is Spencer's room. We moved him in and decorated when he was almost three and I was pregnant with his little brother. We chose a nautical theme for his room.

The bunk beds were in my mother's childhood home. They are maple and gorgeous! We were at the right place at the right time when my aunt was parting with them.

This is the bookcase that my husband built for Spencer. I get things in my head that I want a certain way and can never find at a store and somehow he always seems to build them for me.

This is a light fixture that my Grandfather made. It was in my home as a child and I wanted to use it somewhere in my house. Spence's room was the perfect place.

Toy box built by Daddy. It sits in the corner that is not in any of the pictures. I was sitting on it to take this next shot.

The dresser has custom color panels that can be changed around. We painted one set of panels to coordinate with his room. The shelves above the dresser are another Daddy creation. See what I mean about the clutter? And books - holy books, Batman!

We did Evan's room while we were expecting Hailey. He was a little over two years old. I thought the truck theme was totally inspired because at the time he was obsessed with TRUCKIES! When I realize now that he was younger than Hailey when we chose a theme for his room - I wonder what in the world we were thinking. He still likes trucks, but he LOVES dinosaurs and has for years. And dinosaur bedding and accessories are so much cuter. I don't want to completely switch over because I spent a lot on his bedding and rug. So for now he kind of has a duel themed room. He also likes to stick his artwork all over his walls.

The white desk chair sticks out like a sore thumb in these photos. "Blog" eyes are giving me all sorts of summer projects....

The two bookcases were in my husband's room when he was little. The desk was in my sister's room when she was a child. Evan doesn't have anything "Daddy made" in his room yet, but I am thinking maybe a shelf around the room maybe a foot or so from the ceiling where he can display his massive dinosaur collection. I have to keep Daddy busy this summer as well....

I hope you enjoyed your tour through my kids' rooms!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


When did this sweet little baby playing in the grass....

....with the big blue eyes....

...and the sweetest cheeks....

Get that toothy grin?

And all that hair?

And start walking and spinning in circles?

And begin calling me "Mom"?

When did my little baby turn into a little girl?

Time? If you are listening, I beg you to slow down a little bit.

Boys will be boys...

My oldest baby boy is growing up before my eyes...and ears.

Last week at Evan's soccer practice he asked me if I could give his buddy a ride home. His friends' parents were leaving and he wanted his friend to stay and play with him in the woods at the soccer field while Evan practiced. I told him it was not a problem and things were just fine until I noticed them across a couple of fields with their shirts off, kicking the soccer ball around. Shirts off? Did I miss Matthew McConaughey somewhere? Or maybe were they trying to look "cool" for the little girls that were watching on the sidelines?

Then on the way home, when I had all four kids strapped into the minivan I hear a call from the way back to "please turn it up...this is my favorite song!" The song playing was "Circus" by Britney Spears. It was not a request made by any of my kids, because my kids are more likely to beg for me to put a movie in the DVD player than to listen to the radio. I acquiesced "friends" request and turned it up and he proceeded to sing along with Ms. Spears. I heard him say to Spencer a few seconds later "Don't you like this song? This is Britney Spears - she is HOT!" I didn't see Spencer's reaction but knew from previous banter that Spencer could have cared less about Britney Spears' hotness, because he himself was hot and trying to think of ways to coerce me into letting him stay up late and run through yet another friend's sprinkler. Then Spencer's friend - a seven year old boy - yelled out the window to some high school age girls walking by that he was listening to Britney Spears - who is hot - "and you are kinda hot too!" Seven years old. I guess I console myself by thinking that he does have two older brothers. Older brothers are bad influences.

A few days later when Spencer got home from school he asked me what it meant when someone put up their middle finger. I was speechless. I asked him if someone had done that to him and he said no. He said that he saw an older boy doing it out the bus window to someone and that after seeing him, he did it and the boy that he did it to said that he was going to tell on him. He told me that he didn't even know what it meant to do that and didn't know why the boy wanted to tell on him. He said he promised the boy he wouldn't do it again and the boy told him that he wouldn't tell on him this time.

I explained to him that sticking up your middle finger at someone is like calling them a naughty word without really saying the word. I told him it was called flipping someone off. I told him that he should not do it. He told me that he didn't know and he wouldn't do it again.

I braced myself for a call from the bus driver. Thankfully, one never came.

Any other questions that I may have had about wandering into this previously untouched land of boy pre-pubescence were realized by this picture that I found in Spencer's backpack.

For those of you not versed in first grade speak, the bird is making some sort of noise and then exclaims to the others "I farted". The "person?" is saying "boo". Lastly, the dog is telling the farting bird "You stink!" Or maybe just thinking it.

I am going to need to invest in a winery!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Better than Botox...

No, these are not photos of Angelina even though the lips may be similar. I had some super cute photos of Hailey that I was going to post today, and then as usual - life happened - and she wound up with a nasty fat lip.

I still don't really know what happened to her. She was in the back yard playing on the play set one minute and the next I heard her screaming her head off. I ran to the backyard and didn't even see her until I started bounding down the stairs and she was at the bottom trying to make her way up the steep hill in bare feet with blood pouring out of her mouth. I grabbed her up, made sure that all teeth were accounted for and ran to the house to get a towel and an icepack.

I know that it rates as a pretty high bad mommy moment that she was in the backyard alone. Usually if she is back there she just sits in the sandbox and plays. Once in a while she makes her way to the play set, but won't go down the slides or anything. She just walks along on the "bridge". I think that as she was coming down the wooden slope to get down she must have slipped and hit her mouth. I know that I should have been back there with her - she is only two years old for goodness sake - but the fact (very selfish fact) is that I really don't like our backyard. The "hill" is a pain to walk up and down. It is always about twenty degrees colder than the front and everything is always wet. I really like the woodsy, private feel back there, but it may be time for some trees to come down to let the sun shine through. I know that Trent would be up for it - sun would mean his grass seed would grow.

As luck would have it, she injured herself mere minutes before we had to leave to pick up Evan at preschool. All the Mom's there that fawn over her felt so bad for her sitting there with her puffed up lip and baggie full of ice. Of course they all asked me what happened and when I admitted my fault, that I wasn't really sure, they all had there own "bad mommy" stories to tell me. They helped ease my guilt feelings a bit.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chocolate cherry cake in Heaven

Today is my mother-in-laws birthday. We will celebrate by going to one of her favorite restaurants. We will then go hang out at the ball field and watch one of her grandsons play baseball while our other two kids run around and be adorable and get filthy. She would have loved every minute of it. She will not be here with us to celebrate her 67th year. She passed away this past February and everyday since we have been missing her presence and learning to live life without her.

The following words are bits and pieces of posts that I have started and never finished since she died. Thoughts that have been swirling in my head that I needed to get down on paper. Bear with me if the words and paragraphs seem choppy and don't flow well. Today just feels like the right time to post them - unfinished - much like her life that ended much too soon.

The whole thing at times still feels like a bad dream. I can’t believe that if I went to the house and walked inside she won’t be there. Still in her pajamas, bathrobe and slippers – talking to someone on the phone until she notices us and tells them “Sorry honey, I have to go -my babies are here.” I can’t believe I can’t call over there and hear her pick up the phone and say “hello” in her voice that she described as “a little sharp”. I can’t believe that she won’t be calling me from her cell phone while out shopping to ask me for the hundredth time what size the kids are wearing because she just found the most darling outfit ever. Mostly, I can’t believe that my children will grow up without her as such a presence in their lives.

Surreal – I have a hard time trying to get my head around it.

Have I told you about the boots? Around last Thanksgiving, Lyn asked me if Hailey had boots for the winter. I told her that she did - she fit perfectly into Evan's old boots. Lyn asked me if they were pink. I looked at her kind of funny and told her that since Evan was a boy we decided against the pink boots. They were black. Nice and unisexy. She asked me what size Hailey was in because in her opinion she needed pink boots and that is what she was going to get for Christmas. She followed through and Hailey did indeed get a cute pair of pink and fluffy boots for Christmas. Lyn was so excited about them. She had gotten both girls, Hailey and Madisyn, boots and wanted a picture of them together with their boots. The boots were a big deal. Days later, I tried to put the boots on her. They were the same size as the black boots that fit great. They should have easily fit her, but they did not. Those boots did not want to go on her feet for anything. I was totally frustrated and looked through all of our Christmas bags and boxes for the receipt. I figured that I would return them. They were an extravagance that she didn't need in the first place - she had boots- and these just didn't fit - I could return them for something else that she actually needed and could wear. Long story short - I couldn't find the receipt and I didn't have the heart to ask Lyn if she had it because of her excitement about the boots. I figured they would sit in the closet and hopefully would be passed on to Mira so somebody would be able to get some use out of them. Weeks later I had a dentist appointment and Lyn and Dan were going to watch Hailey and Evan for me. For some reason (that I think I know now) I decided to try to put the boots on Hailey to wear over there. It was a struggle - like minutes of time on each foot to get on boots that should take about a couple seconds a foot to put on - but I got them on her. Lyn noticed right away that she was wearing them and was LOVING them. I warned her to leave them on her because I would not be long and they were sort of a pain to get on. (Sort of a pain - was a major understatement to spare her feelings). That was the last time Lyn would ever see her - wearing those boots. She died three days later. Since she died, Hailey has worn the boots quite often. And the kicker is -they are not hard to get on anymore, in fact, they slide on like butter. It is not often that I actually get to see God working in my life, but this was one of those times. I know that Grama is behind it, making sure that her precious granddaughter is parading around in those pink, fluffy boots.

She was a woman of great faith and I know that fact is helping those that loved her get through their grief as they continue on in this life without her. She was a woman who believed in God and the power of prayer. It is hard to know sometimes if and what people believe in when it comes to God. I never felt squeamish about it around her - if I asked her to pray about something, I knew she would - and she would pray her heart out. I actually feel like I have an advocate in heaven now looking after my family. Anyone that knew Lyn knows that she will not stand for a glimpse of the Big Guy - she will insist on and somehow make her way into His inner circle. That is just the kind of person she was. She knew many priests that she called good friends. One of the best was working in Italy when she died. He called the Sunday after her death to tell us that he had said the mass in her honor that day at the Vatican. The VATICAN! In calling to inform her other priest friends that she had passed - they all expressed interest in speaking at her funeral. Her services were prayed and said by three different priests. I remember sitting in the car after the funeral with Trent and his Dad while we were waiting for the funeral procession to the cemetery to begin. I asked Dan if he had ever been to a funeral with three priests officiating before. He laughed through his tears and said no. I told him that I thought that Lyn would be pretty happy with that funeral. Three priests - who did she think she was? She would have been thrilled and extremely touched.

I noticed at her visitation and the days leading up to it when people call or stop by to offer condolences, how much of an affect she had on so many people. Boys that her sons grew up with that are now men grieved as if she were their own mother. They remembered how she had made them feel like part of her family by providing them with food, hospitality and mothering that maybe they were not getting enough of at home. It made me wonder if I am that kind of a mother to my kids' friends and made me feel a little inferior when I realized that my annoyance with them most of the time, led me to believe that I wasn't. I carry that with me now when my kids have friends over. I strive to be like Lyn in the way that I treat them and the way they see me. Other people commented to Trent and his brothers that their mother had saved their life. I don't even know how to comment on that. By mentoring and counseling to people with substance abuse issues and realizing that you made a difference - that is so huge. Many people said that to them - not one isolated case ( and in coming to the end of your life, knowing that your being on this Earth saved ONE person - that is a pretty significant life) but that your life saved MANY. Again, I have no words...

She accomplished a lot during her time here on Earth, but I can't help but feel like she had more to do. There was so much that she didn't get to see. She loved her grand kids with everything that she had and they all have so much growing up to do that she will not be around to see. Sporting events. Award ceremonies. Proms. Graduations. Weddings. Those events would have been the highlights of her life. It feels so wrong that she waited almost fourteen years to have another granddaughter and was so thrilled that she got one and she will not even get to spoil her in the way that she wanted. Hailey will only know her through stories and memories. It seems so unfair and unfinished.

A life unfinished, along with a Christmas stocking for her last grandchild. Come on Lyn! Are you kidding me? You think I have time to learn how to do counted cross stitch?

She would find that statement hilarious. I know that where she is, she is laughing right now.

Happy Birthday Lyn! We all love and miss you so much!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ride the wind...

My kids are not very into riding bikes. I have to admit that their lack of interest didn't really bother me. Now that Spencer is nearing eight years old and still cannot ride a two-wheeler and has no interest whatsoever in changing that is starting to bother me a little. Last summer he was over at a friend's house and his friend's mom called wondering if it was OK with me if they biked to the store to get ice cream. It was a bit embarrassing when I had to tell her that he couldn't ride a two-wheeler - "if you have something with training wheels around - by all means - get a double scoop"!

I know that we live at the top of a steep hill - which is probably pretty intimidating if you are at best, wobbly on a bike. We have offered to take him to a flat area to practice, but he just shrugs us off. He could care less. He would rather watch iCarly.

The big news is that the past couple of days, Evan has wanted to ride his Diego bike around. We got him the bike for his birthday last year and he was not very excited about it. I think the size of it made him nervous. So most of last summer, Spencer rode it around. He was giant for the bike - he looked like he was part of a circus act.

Every time Ev rides it, he gets a little bit braver and a bit faster. He is still very tentative though. I don't get what their fear is about. We are very enthusiastic when they are riding and encourage them to put the pedal to the metal (or at least keep their feet on the actual pedals). The only thing I can think of is that they are picking up on some deep seeded anxiety from me about the time I was riding on the back of my Dad's bike as an infant and got my foot caught in the spokes. I was fine, but I am sure it was pretty traumatic for my Mom and Dad. I can't imagine how freaked I would be if that happened to me and one of my kids. I may just remember the incident from stories and memories of my parents, but I swear I can remember it happening. I don't know though...that would be a very early childhood memory.

Evan was so cute today as he rode around. He actually went down our driveway slope all by himself. I guess all we can do is keep trying to encourage them until they get their confidence up. They will get it eventually. Everyone learns how to ride a bike, right?

His pants are a little long for him and I didn't want him to get them caught in the chain or something.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A rite of spring?

The last time it was raining out, we did a lot of this.....

Please don't feel bad for my kids - I know they seem very deprived of toys. They really do have more - the basement is overflowing with them - their rooms are bursting at the seams with them. So don't feel inclined to send them gifts - really, they are happy with what little they have.

The previous paragraph was meant to be totally sarcastic. The "stuff" is once again starting to overwhelm me. I just can't get a handle on it. Last week we got these upstairs toy boxes weeded through and organized, but we still have many to go. Not to mention, Evan just had his birthday. Our neighborhood garage sale is this weekend but I don't think that I will be ready by then. Last year we waited until later in the summer and seemed to sell more. Otherwise the Goodwill truck comes by on Monday. I am thinking Good William may be getting an early Christmas present.

I was much more productive without the computer to tear me away. This little machine is a monkey that I have a hard time getting off my back. Also the kids - with the computer and them on my back and a cat crawling up my pant leg- it is hard to find time to go to the bathroom, let alone clean or organize something. Addictions can be really tough.

Hailey is napping now and Evan is having quiet time. I just swept and mopped the kitchen floor and that will probably be the extent of my cleaning today. I say "cleaning", but even that is questionable since I had Dickens following the mop and me around the whole time. At least it looks better than before, and it looked awful. You know it had to be dirty for me to get the mop out. Trent is another story, but I only mop in dire circumstances. There still seems to be some pine sap that wouldn't come up that I will have to get with the Goo Gone on my hands and knees.

So little by little I am pecking away at the spring cleaning around here. Before I know it, it will be summer and warm and we will be outside and everything will get messy all over again. It is a never ending cycle.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This one makes me cry everytime I read it...

All My Babies Are Gone Now
By Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow, but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education — all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations — what they taught me, was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the “Remember-When-Mom-Did” Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language –mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, “What did you get wrong?” (She insisted I include that here.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Happy Mothers Day to all of the wonderful Mothers I know and love and thank you to my amazing children Spencer, Evan and Hailey. Thank you for the honor and privilege of being your Mother. I love you all more than you will ever know!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bonding over Bisque

Part of Evan's birthday present was to go to a paint your own pottery place and get crafty.   Since tonight is the only free night we have in a long time, we decided that tonight was the night.  I originally thought Evan and I would have some one on one special time, but he decided that it would be alright and maybe even fun, to have his big brother tag along as well.  I warned Spencer ahead of time that we were at the mall for painting pottery.  We were not there to play in the play court, to ride on the fifty cents a pop mechanical rides or to beg for every gumball or bottle of water from vending machines.  I also told him that if he finished his project ahead of Evan, that he could not whine about being bored or start grumbling to leave.  This was Evan's present - this was all about Evan - and Evan takes his own sweet time when it comes to art. The boy is patient and deliberate. 

We had such a good time.  The boys were better than I ever would have dreamed.  They did not fight or squabble at all.  They were helpful,complimentary and supportive of each others projects.  I did not have one moment of regret for bringing them there.  In fact, I can't wait to do it again.  

Evan chose to paint a small dinosaur figure and a plate.  At first he had two dinosaur figures, but decided to put one back so that he could use stamps on the plate.  Spencer painted a cat treat jar for Dickens.  I helped him place the stamps on his, but he painted the rest.  He did a great job.  He is getting much more patient with artsy types of things.   I was going to make a cookies for Santa plate, but they didn't have any of their Christmas stamps out and I didn't want to be a total pain on my first visit.  I also didn't know how much "help" I was going to have to give the boys so I didn't want to be too overwhelmed by a project.  It turned out that they didn't want or need much help at all so I was able to paint a "birthday" plate for Evan.   I made one for Spencer when he was a baby that he was able to use at his FIRST birthday party. Unfortunately, Evan will miss being able to use his at his FIFTH birthday party by three days.  If Hailey is lucky, maybe I will get around to making hers before she hits double digits.  

We will get to pick them up next week after they are glazed and fired.  Evan can't wait to see how shiny they turn out.  Spencer is fascinated by the "firing" process and keeps asking me how long they are in there and what is happening to make them smooth and turn the colors darker. I told him that there is probably an episode of "How Its Made" about pottery.  It scares me a little that he is only seven and I have a hard time answering a lot of his questions dealing with science and mechanics.  The boy is curious and retains it all.  

I had a great time hanging out with my boys.  I just love being able to share something new with them that they enjoy doing and are interested in.  They are amazing little people and I love them both so much and could not be more proud of them. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mirabel junkie!

My sister has the ability to post video on her blog. An ability of which I am very jealous. If I had a camera that was not purchased in the dark ages 2001, I could do it too. Unfortunately, the state of the economy is so bleak these days, I guess if forced to choose between feeding my kids or buying a new video camera - the welfare of my children has to trump my jones for nostalgia. Once the stock market goes back up over 10,000 - look out Best Buy -here I come. Of course that will depend on if they are still in business....

I have noted repeatedly that Hailey is not a TV watcher AT ALL! Apparently she has no aversion to a screen - she is just extremely particular about what she watches. She LOVES watching the videos my sister uploads of her little cousin Mirabel. "BelBel" is her favorite thing in this world and she will watch her completely fascinated over and over again. Even Evan likes watching these snippets of his cousin. They have her birthday addition memorized and Evan likes to let everyone know when the "funny" parts are coming up. They talk to the screen as if Mira, Mark and DayDay can hear them. It is almost like they feel like they are peeking across the lake into the windows of their house and watching them go about their day. I love that. I just wish my sister would send me a full length DVD so I wouldn't have to keep restarting the video on the computer. Forty five minutes to an hour would be GREAT!