the boys

the boys

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Papa Dean

For his 80th Birthday party on Christmas Eve the family is getting together and offering a note of what we have each learned from Papa Dean. I won't be in attendance due to another family Christmas party but I am sending my letter. Here it is:
Dear Papa,
I want to be just like you when I grow up. I want to be on the cusp of my 80th birthday and still living a full life. I want to still be married to the love of my life. I want to be retired, but working full time because my work ethic is like no others. I want to have 6 grown children who are all as much the same as they are different; who are all successful in their own way, but don't flaunt it; who are all raising children and grandchildren to be respectful people and productive citizens; who have all had their trials and tribulations but have a level of faithfulness that is to be admired and copied.

I want to attend as many sporting events, band concerts, graduations, choir concerts, high school plays, talent shows, dance recitals, homecoming parades, and any other activity under the sun as many times as humanly possible just so I don't miss out on the events of my children and grandchildren. Even if these events are clear across the country, I want to find a way to get there and make sure whoever else wants to go can get there too. And I want to do this because I LOVE every minute of it.

And when I attend each of these activities, games, meets, events, and performances I want to meet people. I want to stand in line at the front door and know the person next to me. Or know their neighbor. Or know their 3rd cousin who used to live next door to my best friend. And I want to remember that person so that when I sit down in the bleachers or theater seat or lawn chair I can meet someone else that knows someone else that knows that someone else. And I want to say "This is what my Papa Dean always did whenever he met someone."

I want to teach my family to be competitive and appreciate a good win, but be respectful and have great sportsmanship.

I want to have 19 grandchildren (including their spouses) and seven great-grandchildren with 1 one the way. And I want all of those children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to LOVE coming to my house for Christmas. Even when we might have outgrown my home, I want them to still want to come because there is no place else they would rather be on the weekend before Christmas.

And at Christmas, I want to hear my adult grandchildren talking to each other about their fondest memories of my house "I loved the kitchen in the playroom." "Oh, what about the rocking horse?" "and the Lincoln Logs." I want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to remember reading Dr. Seuss books in my basement and playing on the back patio and the carport (YUP, I want a carport) in the summer.

I want to be there on my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren's first (and second, and third, etc) trip to Disney World. I want to be in the pictures pushing the stroller and holding a place on the curb for the Disney Electrical Parade while everyone takes turns with potty breaks and snacks...and more potty breaks because of the snacks.

I want my children to start every other story with "On our way to...." or "we were on our way back from....." because it will mean that we have travelled and shown our children as much of this great country as we possibly can.

and lastly, at the age of 60ish I really, really, really want to be able to beat my 12 year old granddaughter in a foot race down Main Street in Gallatin just to say that I can.

Happy Birthday Papa Dean. I love you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The holiday season is here!!!

Has it really been well over 2 weeks since my last post? Yikes! We have been so very, very busy already with the holiday season. Every day, evening, and weekend has been filled with something or other. This weekend was no different. Two parties in two nights and they were both wonderful! I love, love, love having friends and family in my home sharing great times and making memories.

I've become just a teeny bit obsessed with holiday decorations this year, but I'm trying hard to keep it under control. Trying being the operative word here. Hey, I focus my successes in other areas. Money management does not happen to be one of them. Jeremy tries to act like he is bothered by it but we all know he secretly loves all of the decorations. After all, he is the one who spruced up the whole outside of the house as a surprise for me and the boys a few weeks ago. He loves it every bit as much as I do. Maybe more.

My favorite part of the decorations this year....oooooo....I can't even choose. I was starting to write that I love having the boys tree downstairs with our childhood ornaments and the first few years of theirs. But I also really love that we found our childhood stockings and have them hung up this year too. Really makes me want to get fun stockings for the boys to start this memory for them. Ohhhhhhh, there I go again. Want, want, want. Spend, spend, spend. I'm in a spending, present-buying frenzy. And yes, I finished my shopping a few weeks ago. And yes, I continue to find reasons to buy more items. I love giving gifts and it's so much fun to find things that you just know people are going to love! Not things just so they will have something to open, but things they will really enjoy. It's the joy of giving! And I'm lovin' it!

I'm totally rambling here as usual. There seems to be something therapeutic about writing it all out. I know, I know. Too social worky. I actually got on tonight to capture in writing more of the funny little things the boys have said this weekend. I love that this blog is sort of an electronic baby book where I can keep track of their antics. They crack me up every day. But when my fingers started typing all that came out was holiday, holiday, holiday! It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

And let us not forget the reason for the season!

But I can't leave my blog tonight without just a few tidbits from the boys this weekend.

**Justin when my mom, Brett, and Grandma Dorothy got here for Leo's party: Jiminy Crickets, mom. They ARE here!

**Leo has croup this morning and sounds like an 85 year old man with COPD. He can barely speak or cry above a whisper and you can hear him breathing from two rooms away. He sounds so sad, but it didn't decrease his cuteness rating. He turned on the charm with Dr. Tina this morning. When she was done with him he whispered in his hoarse little voice "Oh tank you, mommy. Tank you Tina." She was eating him up! She said she has never seen a sick two year old thank his mom and doctor! That's my baby! I hate it that he is sick, but does it make me a bad person that I just love how cuddly and sweet he gets when he doesn't feel good?

**Justin keeps saying that Leo can't catch up with his breath. As if Leo is chasing his breath around the house and can't seem to catch it. Then he told Leo to "be wax (relax). I have had a hard day."

And my favorite from tonight from Justin while saying his prayers tonight in bed "Spirit is my favorite part of the cross. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Spirit is my favorite. I love every part of the cross and everything and everyone and every TV and everything beautiful and you are a beautiful mommy and I love you."

A perfect end to my weekend.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hail Holy Queen

I have always been a Royal Watcher. Loved me some Princess Diana. Love the fashions, the drama, the fairy tales, etc. Was glued to the TV for her funeral. Loved watching her boys grow up. And yes, I will be watching THE WEDDING.

But this past Sunday when our Priest gave us the assignment of reciting Hail Holy Queen each night this week to pay respects to our Queen, he was not referring to Queen Elizabeth or the future Queen Kate..or Katherine...or whatever her title will be.

I thought it was a really interesting that the Homily this week was focused on a different set of Royals than the major media outlets. The focus was to worship our Lord and our Queen Mary, not people or things. People and things come and go. Faith is eternal and reaches beyond this life. Worship our Lord. Plain and simple.

We are empowered by His love each and every day. So I invite you, faithful blog readers few or many, to join in this weeks assignment. Instead of worshiping electronics, gossip magazines, websites, Facebook (although I know that is how most of you found this blog!), Hollywood stars, clothes, cars, and any other things or people, worship the Lord by saying a short prayer.

Hail, Holy Queen:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us. And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, o Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The ol' mean mug

Justin's special weekend alone with his parents is coming to an end. And he has gone out with a bang. Leo has spent all weekend with my parents for his special individual time with them which has left me and Justin to spend some great quality time together during the days and time with Jeremy the last two evenings. For the most part it has been a blast!

Not so much this morning. Justin was great for about the first 10 minutes of church. It was all downhill after the second reading. I was trying hard to pay attention to the Gospel and Homily but apparently that is not ok with Justin. He has been getting his fair share of attention this weekend and Heaven forbid that I try and pay attention to anyone else. So after several pouty looks and sassy gestures, I took him out to the back lobby for a quick "discussion" and reminder that behavior such as this might just result in the loss of time with his brand new build-a-bear. And this brought on the tears and a VERY grouchy "I'M SORRY." I'm pretty sure he wasn't.

So as we make it back to our pew, he puts on a HUGE show of pouting. Arms crossed. Trying to look up at me from his scowl to make sure I am noticing how horribly upset he is about being scolded at church. Lots of heavy sighing for effect. HUMFFFF.

And then it was time for his (usual) favorite part of mass: taking money up to the collection basket. I asked him if he wanted to take his dollar up and he barely nods his head yes. I gave him a dollar and directed him to the aisle....where he proceeded to shuffle slowly towards the front (we were about 12 aisles back) with his head hanging as low as possible without actually bending over. It was pathetic! Kids were making it up to the basket and back past him in the time it took him to slowly shuffle to the front. Oh, woe is Justin!!!

And I....well, I got the giggles about it. Yup, the kind where I can't keep it in and the more I watch him pout his way up to the collection basket the harder I laughed. It's not as if he could see me laughing even on his way back, because his eyes never came off the floor except for once when a child ran into him. But even then he just put his sad little chin back on his chest, heaved a deep sigh, and kept on shuffling his way back to me.

So when he got back to our pew, he climbed onto my lap and pretty much stayed there for the next 15 or so minutes. When I stood, he had to be held. When I kneeled, he had to be held. This poor, poor, sad little 3 year old.

And then he went from sad little pouty boy to an angry child. Enter: the ol' mean mug. This kid has a look that could kill. He can furrow his eyebrows, purse his lips, tilt his chin down just so, clench his fists, and then look up with an icy stare. I actually stared him down for a few moments, but felt that maybe, just maybe, that wasn't appropriate in church.

He maintained this look for the remainder of church. Thankfully he was never outwardly hateful or loud. Just consistently mean mugging me at every opportunity. I'm sure the folks behind us were getting quite a show. I'm proud to say that I never once lost my cool with him...probably because I was spending all of my mental energy silently writing this blog in my head :)

The only bright spot came right at the end of church when he asked quietly through clenched teeth to stay and hear the rest of the closing song. Now THAT actually brought a little tear to my eye. Through all of his frustration and anger, he wanted to stay and hear the music through to the end. NICE recovery, son!

I hope that Leo had a better morning in church...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mama's Boy

What is a mama's boy? Wikipedia says it is a term for a man who is excessively attached to his mother at an age when men are expected to be independent

The definition goes on to say that in recent years, some have begun using the term in a milder sense, merely meaning a man who is emotionally attached to his mother. Though this sense of the phrase is still uncommon compared to the original pejorative intent, mothers in particular may state their pride in their "mama's boy" sons. It is also occasionally used to describe an infant or toddler son who is unusually attached to his mother...In this sense, the 'mama's boy' designation carries little stigma, but is simply an observation of the young child's primary attachment.

Well, my friends, I gots me a mama's boy. And just in case there is any confusion, I am talking about Leo :). He looooooves his mama. And I looooooove him right back. I wouldn't say that I identify him as a mama's boy with pride as Wikipedia describes above. I don't TRY to make him dependent on me. And it is certainly my intention to help him move along the attachment spectrum at an age-appropriate rate (GEEZ that was a little too social-workery even for me!). But I am woman enough to admit that he can melt my heart in an instant. Like his greeting for me every afternoon when I pick him up from daycare. He squeezes my neck so tight and pats his little hands on my back. Yup...melting....

He suckered me in last night. After a full day at my mom's house the boys fell asleep on the way home. I could just kick myself for not packing their pajamas which meant that I had to wake them up to potty and do a quick change-a-roo before shuffling them off to bed. He is normally very good about his bedtime routine and I don't hear a peep out of him once I close the door, but last night wasn't routine and...YIKES. So I laid down in bed with him for a few minutes and every time he would doze off a little bit and I would start to inch away he would reach out one arm, loop it around my neck, and literally pull me back into him. He wanted me squished up against him. Cheek to cheek. And honestly, there was no other place I would rather be!

I'm not sure if it is because he is my baby or if it's because Justin is already showing more independence than I am ready for, but lately I am spending more and more time basking in the love of little Leo. For I know that all too soon he will ask me not to walk him into school or be embarrassed by me (WHAT? MOI???) in his teenage years.

But today, I'm the mama of a mama's boy.

And I like it.

Maybe it's time for another....

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Oh, I have missed blogging. I actually have 2 or 3 that I started and never finished just because I couldn't quite put my thoughts into words. They will come in time.

This morning, or nearly afternoon by now, I just want to take a minute to reflect on the 30 minutes that I had this morning with Leo snuggled on my lap. I am always extra conscious of the time that the boys will spend snuggled up on my lap because that has always been such a big deal to my mom. We are a family with a great appreciation for rockers and recliners! And my mom has instilled in each of us the love of rocking our babies on our laps. And not just babies. If we would let her I think my mom would still rock me and my sisters on her lap anytime we needed it. Come to think of it, there is a lot less of that now that there are 5 grandchildren to fill that roll. :) I understand now why she would still want to pull us onto her lap for a quick snuggle even into our teenage years and beyond.

I love nothing more than to get one (or both) of the boys tucked up under my arm to rock. Even if just for 2 minutes. But this morning for some reason Leo let me rock him for a solid 30 minutes. And I soaked it up! He had been very busy and active all morning. He spent a good deal of time freaking out that I still have him on strike from Scooby Doo movie because he is ADDICTED! So I'm not sure if he just wore himself out or just needed some mommy time, but he climbed right up on my lap and just let me cuddle him.

The best part is when I can feel his little body relax and sort of sink into me and his head leans against my chest. Ahhhhh. There is nothing like it in the world! Thank you little Leo for making my whole weekend!

(the attached picture is one of my favorites. Leo was 5 months old)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

post-wedding pics

4 year anniversary

Four years ago today Jeremy and I were married. And I'll just say it. It was AWESOME! We had the most beautiful late-October day. Very unlike today's temps that just barely made it into the mid-50's. It's funny now because my mom and I fought over the date because she thought it would be too cold. Then it turned out to be such a warm sunny day. She and I laugh about it every year and it was the first thing she mentioned when she called this morning to wish me a Happy Anniversary.

The whole day was so relaxing. No seriously, it was very stress free. At least for me. Maybe there were people freaking out, but I really don't think so. The entire wedding party and all of my best friends spent the whole day at my parents house on Lake Viking. The sun was shining down on the lake the whole time. Jeremy and I were in the same house all day but he stayed upstairs and I stayed downstairs because he was dead set on not seeing each other until it was time. He's pretty sweet that way.

Probably the best part of the day was seeing him for the first time. We did the whole thing where it's just us and the photographer before the ceremony. Very sweet. I highly recommend. Jeremy was so cute about it. All nervous looking and then broke into a huge smile when he saw me. Ahhhhhh...good memories!

The church pews were arranged in kind of a semi-circle so we actually got to sit in the front pew with our parents. Father Matthew's homily was right on the money. I remember him talking about how Jeremy and I bring out the best in each other. That we draw on each other's strengths. I think, or at least I hope, that is still true. I also remember touching my little tiny belly bump when Fr. Matt talked about starting a family. Yup, there was all 11 weeks of Baby Justin attending our wedding via the womb. While clearly unplanned, wouldn't change it for the world now!

Some of my favorite pictures are of me, Jeremy, and our parents in the receiving line after the wedding. Great close ups that really show the pure joy of the event.

and the reception...I think it deserves a blog of it's own. Hopefully soon with lots of fun pictures.

Happy 4th Anniversary honey. LOVE YOU!

Friday, October 8, 2010

3 day potty training

Two weeks ago today I successfully completed the 3 Day Potty Training boot camp with Leo. For any of you that haven't heard me go on and on about this program, it's a handbook that you can purchase on the Internet at I highly recommend it to any mother. The basic concept is to teach a child to recognize his own body signals for when he has to go potty. If done with love and consistency it will result in your child being fully potty trained both during the day and night in just 3 days.

I know I have some critics out there. People saying that we have potty trained our boys too soon. That we are trying to push them to do more than they should do at this age. Perhaps thinking we are trying to brag or make our kids better than other kids, more advanced, etc, etc. Well, that's all crap!

To me it is like taking away the pacifier at 6 months or weaning from the bottle at 10-12months old. Is it hard? YUP. Does it take patience and consistency on the part of the parent? Yup. Would you like to give in and just go back to the easy way? Yup. But are you better off after having stuck it out and passed that developmental milestone? For me, it is an absolute YES! Twenty-two months of age is the ideal time to potty train a toddler, developmentally speaking. True, it is not the norm these days, but it all makes sense to me.

Nothing is ever 100% and the very best thing about this program is that the creator has a mentoring website to provide ongoing advice, assistance, and SUPPORT. Every mother knows their child and THEMSELVES best. Do what works for you.

I know me. I know I need a good coach. I always have! I've been coached my whole life and I need it spelled out for me so that I have a plan to follow.

It wasn't easy. It took a lot of hard work and PATIENCE and love both for him and myself. It also took patience to ignore my husband who at every major accident would suggest that maybe we should just go back to diapers (the ultimate no-no). But no, we persevered. Nothing is ever 100%. We are still working with some accidents when he sleeps, but I am using the mentoring program and getting some good suggestions. But I would venture to say he is 90% potty trained during naps or nighttime and 99% trained during the day. In two weeks I think he has only had maybe 3 accidents during waking hours and a ton of successful trips to the potty. I barely have to remind him when we are at home. He comes and finds me when he has to "go stinky" as he calls it.'s a great feeling. Proud of him. Proud of myself. It was an intense three days, but it was all worth it!

And I will now carefully step off of my soapbox. Whew, it was a long way down!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The $10 dance

You might think that the highlight of our girls weekend in Washington DC was the Washington Monument (love it) or the WWII Monument (peaceful) or the Vietnam Memorial (overwhelming). Or lunching with a great friend (miss you already!). Or attending Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (amazingly beautiful). Or dinner at Fisher's and Farmers (yummy Blackberry Julep). Or cupcakes from Baked and Wired (double yum!)

But you, my friends, would be wrong. The very best part of the girls weekend was watching Allison open a can of whoop ass on the parking attendant.

The signs overhead as you drive down into the lot and on the attendant booth clearly state it is a flat rate of $10 after 7 pm. And while there was small sign at the front of the lot that said otherwise, we were going with the posted $10 rate. When we pulled up to the booth to exit, the attendant tried to charge Allison $18. Ohhhh, she wasn't having it! The sign directly in front of us said $10 and she was prepared for a fight to the death for her $8. She has always been a particularly thrifty gal.

When the barely English-speaking attendant kindly gestured for Allison to step out of her vehicle to debate the matter, it was ON. Never mind that she whacked her knee on the door as she got out, she was on her A game (no pun intended). As Mandi put it: He doesn't know what he's in for.

So as we watched from the vehicle in awe, our baby sister gave a rousing, gesture-filled argument to the poor attendant. Please don't misunderstand. She didn't use any foul language or foul gestures, but it was wildly entertaining, nonetheless! We couldn't hear her words, but we could pretty much gather how the conversation was going by the way she put her hands on her hips, then gestured from one sign, to the next, to the next, sort of like a "first down" signal in football. Hands back on the hips. It was starting to get a little rhythm to it.

Gesture, gesture, hands on hips.
Hand chop, hand chop.
Gesture, gesture, hands on hips.
Hand chop, hand chop.
Head nod, head nod.
Shake, shake, shake (her head).

Well, I've always been a big fan of musical theater so in my mind it was starting to look like
gesture, gesture, cha cha cha.
Hand chop, hand chop, jazz hands.

I desperately wanted her to break into the Charleston and then resume her discussion just to see if he would notice. A little more discussion and then a hip bump or two. Who knows, he might have joined in? It would have been even better if we had gotten out of the car as her back up dancers. Do-whop. Do-whop.

But instead she finished her discussion, returned to the car, and reported that the attendant was getting his boss on the phone. He seemed just a teensy bit afraid of her. After a quick, but respectful, discussion with the manager where he could do nothing but agree with her that the sign clearly said $10 and we weren't paying a dime more, we paid our $10 and got the hell out of dodge.

We laughed all the way home. And then as we often do, the story got bigger and bigger until we had a whole dance routine worked out. I feel that I can't do it justice in writing. See attached video.

Yes, it was the highlight of the weekend.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I got an Honorable Mention

So, my whole life whenever my mom sees some random invention that makes life easier she always says "now, why didn't I think of that?"

Well tonight I am sitting in my recliner (of course) looking at the One Step Ahead catalog that came in the mail today and I'll be darned if I don't see the Snack & Play Travel Tray. Ummmmm nice try, One Step Ahead. I ALREADY thought of that! I came up with that idea for Invention Convention in 6th grade! Maybe I didn't have time in 6th grade between school and about 35 hours per week of gymnastics practice to get the patent, but I did have the idea first.

You might be asking yourself what the heck is Invention Convention? Well, I'll tell you. It's some sort of science fair type event where elementary school children try to create new inventions and learn about the patent process.

And in case it's not totally obvious to anyone that knows me, I am SO not a science/math person. I have no earthly idea what I was doing entering a science fair type event. Props to my mother for just trying to engage me in any after-school activities seeing as how every waking minute of my life at that time was spent at school or gymnastics OR in the car for 3 hours each day to and from gymnastics! So in the maybe 2 seconds that I wasn't at practice or on my way to or from practice, I came up with this super fabulous idea. Every night after practice I ate my dinner (usually a Mrs. Winners chicken leg, biscuit) in the car on the way home. I could invent a tray to hook onto the back of that passenger seat that would flip down and I could eat my dinner. Yes, I see now how it seems exactly like the flip down trays on airplanes. Like I said, I travelled A LOT and lacked in creativity.

But what I lacked in creativity, I made up for in design. Oh wait. That's the complete opposite of the truth. My design was horrible too. Actually worse than the idea itself. I'm pretty sure I had my dad cut the side out of a cardboard box and then I somehow fastened twisted rods of aluminum foil into these hooks that would hook this tray onto the back of the front passenger seat. I am literally laughing so hard that I am crying right now just thinking of the design! I can't even do it justice in writing. Why oh why do I not have a picture of it somewhere? Oh my gosh, I'm going to go duplicate it right now and attach a picture.

The best part? My ever so creative name. The Car Eating Tray. My pride was shattered when Josh Wilson made fun of me and said it sounded as if the car was actually eating the tray. Oh snap. The name sucked too.

I got an honorable mention.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

the funny pages

what a wonderful Sunday! Jeremy was actually home so we went to church together with the boys and then out to lunch...a rare treat on our strict Dave Ramsey budget, but very worth the quality time together. Then home and we all took naps! We ran a few errands and I took the boys to a parking lot near the airport and watched planes take off and land.

so a few of our very own Sunday comics:
-- at church during the Nicene Creed (prayer)one line reads "He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man" obviously referring to Jesus. Justin exclaims "a CAVE man? Like in Scooby Doo?" He thought "became man" sounded like "cave man." He was all excited that the entire congregation was talking about Scooby Doo in church. Yup Justin, Jesus is running around disguised as the frozen caveman. I can just picture Velma saying "It was that pesky Jesus who has been haunting the deserted inn."

-- Leo spent our entire lunch feeding himself and his "raff" (giraffe) lunch. He holds him by the neck and says "raff's turn" and then "MY turn" as he takes turns feeding raff and giving him drinks from the sippy cup. Then at the end of lunch he lays raff on his back and says "raff pooped" and proceeds to act like he is changing his diaper (on the table). NICE

-- and last but not least, Justin was beyond excited today that he got to wear a new pair of shoes. And by new, I mean barely used hand-me-down shoes from his cousin Nicholas. Justin has been obsessed with his friend LJ's shoes at daycare. He told me a few days ago that LJ has Sketchers and Sketchers are FAST. So when I got out the shoes to wear to this morning and realized that they are Sketchers I thought Justin was going to lose it. He was SO excited. He has been talking about them all day. This afternoon as we watched the airplanes take off he said from the back seat "Mom, do you think if I stick my foot out (of the window) they will see my Sketchers and think they are COOL?" And then just now as he was going to bed he told Jeremy "Everyone tomorrow is going to be like 'WHOA! Those are so cool!'" He is totally pumped for daycare tomorrow to show off his new shoes! And just so Leo doesn't feel left out, he got new Buzz Lightyear tennis shoes that light up when he stomps! It's going to be a good Monday!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

the necessary lie

When is it ok to lie to your children? Well, I did. I am. I will continue to do it. At least until after Halloween.

Because you see my friends, Justin wants to be a "bad guy" for Halloween. He has a small obsession with a costume magazine that arrived in the mail last week. He's been carrying the dang magazine around with him for several days now. He asks if he can take it to Ellan's every single morning. He has slept with it twice. It's the first thing he asks for each morning. We had a mini catastrophe when Leo ripped off the cover tonight but thankfully the bad guy pages were preserved and Justin was in a forgiving mood.

So he wants to be all sorts of different monsters and characters. The past day or so it has been Wolverine...or as he sometimes calls him "the guy on my toothbrush." Before that it was a Power Ranger and before that I think it was some other scary looking superhero guy. And I'm just not ready for it yet. I know I will have to get used to it. With 2 boys I am bound to end up with some horrible/violent character at least a few times in the next 10 years. Ten years right? It doesn't go on much after that does it? The wanting to dress up like bad guys? Maybe 12 years.

I think that most of the time I am really good at letting the boys make their own decisions as much as a 1 and 3 year old can make decisions. But not this time. I've got a good plan for Halloween this year. Batman and Robin. They are perfect for it. Tall, thin, dark haired Justin with short, stocky, blond haired Leo. They are meant to be Batman and Robin. I refuse to give up on it for this year.

So, I lied. Kind of. I told him the Wolverine costume doesn't come in his size, which is doesn't but it's not as if I couldn't have tried to find one in his size. I told him that he has to be FOUR to wear that and alas the young lad is only three. He took the news pretty well. He's hyped up for his fourth birthday. I might just have to get him the Wolverine costume for his birthday next year!

I have promised myself that they can be anything they want to be next year for Halloween. Well except for anything gory. Or with guns. Or violent. Or aliens.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The zone

I have an amazing body. Wow. How's that for an opening statement? What if I just left it at that? My body is amazing. I'm out, peeps!

Just kidding. I don't mean an amazing physique. I mean that my body has an amazing ability to withstand trauma and stress. Many, many years of intense training (gymnastics) has made my body strong and my mind even stronger. I was very much a mental competitor and I don't mean like "going mental" but more like I can force my mind to control my body and go on autopilot. I can get into the zone.

So maybe it's my mind that is amazing. Or a combination of both. I'm not what you would call booksmart. Studying: not really my thing. My sisters are both super smart. I was the dumb jock. Well that's exaggerating, but I will say that even my Greatgrandmother gave us all some crossword puzzle books one year and specifically told my older sister to keep the hard ones becuase she is smarter. Seriously. She did. And my little sister's smarts bypassed me when she was about 10 (and I was 15). It's cool. We all have our strengths. School-not one of mine. I was too busy bouncing off the walls. Literally. Or reading "outside reading" books. I actually got in trouble in college for reading a regular book instead of a textbook on the bus on our way to a competition. Seriously, I can't make this stuff up!

Anyway, my mind is strong, if nothing else. In 1999, I had a pacemaker implanted for a very serious heart condition. After the surgery, I learned that I had been mentally controlling my heart rate and blood pressure for many years and only on about 4 occassions it actually got the better of me. I could get through the toughest of competitions with little to no trouble with straight mental strength. Then I would let my mind and body go into rest mode and within about an hour after the competition I would get violently ill. I have a really great blog drafted about my journey to Pacemaker-ville, but it's not quite perfected yet.

My point, and I know it's been a long one, is that in the last month or so my mind and body have been under stress but I've been in the zone. With my husband gone a good bit of the time for work and school, two young children, and our busy "season" in full swing at work, I've had no choice but to go into the zone. It's not a concious thing. In fact, I didn't even realize it until Friday night.

The only way I usually know that I have been in the zone is to recognize when I'm not in it. Does that even make sense? I'll try to explain. On Friday night after a particularly intense week...heck, an intense month really...I knew that Jeremy was going to be home after work to help with the kids, etc. And so I got a massive headache. I seem to be getting them more lately than I ever have. I'm not usually one to get them so I've been paying attention to see if there is some sort of pattern. And it seems that I only get them when he is going to be home to help or someone else is availble to help me with my life duties/taking care of the kids. I had one when I was going to my mom's ealier this month and another one when the kids were with my in-laws overnnight.

It's true. I've proved it to myself time and time again that my mind will not allow my body to get sick (usually) when I have responsibilities. But as soon as there is help on the horizon or I can have some downtime , my body gives way. And it wasn't particularly dramatic on Friday night as this blog might make it seem, but I was certainly reminded me of my experiences over the years as my body goes into autopilot and my mind pushes my body through whatever difficulties are present.

I'm not writing this to whine about stress or parenting duties or anything. Really I am not. As my blog title notes, this is my 30's. This is what I signed up for with a full time job, children, and a husband in the fire service. As I often say "it is what it is." I wouldn't change it for the world. Every woman in my same general life situation is under similar stresses and handle that stress in their own way. I was just struck by my realization on Friday night that I've been in the zone without noticing it.

Thanks Jeremy for taking over on Friday. I clearly needed the mini-break! Refreshed now and ready to start the week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My pink megaphone

I was listening to a Christian radio station today and one of the guests had this great analogy about the difference between men and women. I didn't catch his name or even think to write down which radio station because I was travelling in between meetings so if anyone heard it and can give credit to him, feel free to post a comment with his info. Here's the gist of what he said:

Women see the world through pink glasses, hear the world through pink hearing aides, and talk to the world through a pink megaphone. On the flip side, men see through blue glasses, hear through blue hearing aides, and speak through blue megaphones. We literally see, hear, and speak in different languages and a healthy marriage (or relationship) is all about learning to communicate effectively with each other.

another fun little point he made: When a woman says she has nothing to wear she means that she has nothing NEW to wear. When a man says he has nothing to wear he means he has nothing CLEAN to wear.

None of this is meant to be sexist or stereotyping genders at all...just some reflections on the difference between men and women. It was fun to listen to and find myself saying "oh, yup! that happens to me." :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Whose soul will I meet?

So here's the thing and I'll go ahead and put it out there before I start into this...what I'm about to write will probably make me seem very selfish and self-serving. I'm not even sure that's inaccurate. I often joke about my "it's all about me" attitude. I'm acutely aware of my faults, sometimes perhaps too much so.

With that said, I've never really been into the whole "saving the world" concept. I have always thought that there is so much need here, in our own backyards, that it is hard for me to expand my thoughts outside of the USA. I'm sort of narrow-minded in that way. I haven't traveled overseas a lot so my perspective pretty much ends with the poverty and struggles that I see in the families that I work with each and every day. Don't get me wrong. I recognize that the need is far greater in many underdeveloped countries than even the poorest places in America. But my willingness to help people outside of an arm's length has been little to none.

So it brings me to church this morning when a visiting Priest from the Order of Friar Servants of Mary gave the sermon. One point that he made really stuck with me. He made no attempt to hide his purpose in visiting our massive church. Begging. He was there to ask for prayers, support, and financial donations for his Order as they travel to Africa for missionary work. He described what all they will be doing in Africa: "provide primary health care centers for AIDS victims, assistance with adequate housing, as well as to support an improved water system and aid in the elimination of malaria" as quoted in last week's church bulletin.

While he was an excellent speaker, I didn't find myself too awful engaged until he made this point. As I've been doing lately, I whipped the notebook out of my purse to start taking some scribbled notes to blog about later.

Paraphrased: Some of you might be sitting out there today wondering why you should help and pray for others whom you will likely never meet. It's true. You will probably never know any of the people that benefit from your donations today. You will not know them. In this life. But in the next life [as a soul in heaven], when a soul comes up to you and extends a hand in the name of the Lord, you will know them.

Now, to some, that might not seem like anything earth shattering, but somehow it put it in a different perspective for me. We are all God's people. I know this, but I think I often forget the vastness of our family. Whose soul will I meet in heaven and what impact will I have had on him/her?

He went on to say that God remembers every single act of your love, prayer, and kindness in His name, both public and private. A wonderful thought to carry me through this week.

Friday, August 20, 2010

O'Brien dictation 8/20/10

Nearly 10 years of social work has helped me to perfect my skills in documenting events. Parent/child visitations. Court hearings. Worker/child visits. Family Support Team meetings. I feel as though today was worth dictating. It's thorough i.e. long (shout out to Mawby), but I figured what the heck.

Started off with a half day of work. Sounds good. A nice way to end my week. I made a quick stop by my new favorite store, Lifeway Christian bookstore. Sidebar: everyone should expect xmas gifts from there because I LOVE it and find more cool things every time I go. Sidebar part two: well, not "everyone" reading this blog should expect a gift but if you do get one it's likely to come from Lifeway :)

Anywho, so I exchanged a gift that I had bought the week before because the first one broke. The sweetest lady checked me out today and last week. She has a kind heart. I could tell right away. She welcomed me to the store as I walked in and called me sweetie the entire time I was shopping. Perfect job for her except I get the feeling she doesn't actually know how to do the job. It took her about 10 minutes to complete my exchange. A computer "malfunction" which was later determined to be her failure to push the "finalize transaction" button on the computer. All the while she is chastising the computer and calling it (in the sweetest voice) Satan and Spawn of Satan. I think she's better off working the floor and greeting customers. I highly suspect she and technology don't mesh well.

So I picked the boys up and decided to run a few more errands before taking them home for a nap. I'm thinkin' its going to wear them out so I can get some work done while they sleep. That plan was successful for Leo (slept 3 hours). Not so much for Justin a/k/a Mr. Sassypants. After 90 minutes of fighting sleep which entailed removing every light, music, toy, and stuffed animal from his room, I gave in and let him get up. Now don't be fooled. He was tired. He has just developed some adverse reaction to napping in our home. But rest assured that every day when I arrive at Ellan's (daycare) to pick him up the first thing he says to me is "I didn't talk on my cot (at naptime)." Oh well, really pat yourself on the back there kiddo! That was about 15 months ago when you got in trouble for it at Ellan's and still it's his pride and joy everyday. I live for the days when we arrive AT Ellan's and he can report staying in bed. I digress.

So he was allowed to get up from nap. As he came down the steps I told him that because he did not stay in bed for a nap his consequence was "no special treats (food) and no Scooby Doo." Sure, no problem. For about 5 seconds. Until he saw the chocolate chip cookies sitting by my chair. So he walks over to me all sweet-like. Actually buttering me up by telling me he loves me. He asked for a cookie. I denied. He pouted for a minute (and this is the BEST part) and says "can I just get close to them and smell them?" I about died laughing!!! And I let him smell them and even let him put one finger on them like he asked. But he didn't get a cookie.

So the afternoon moves on. He is nearly delirious with lack of sleep. Wavering back and forth from sassy to hilariously uncontrolled laughter to zoning out. I'm pretty sure he was pestering me just to keep himself awake because if he sat down too long he almost fell asleep. Meanwhile, my laptop caught a virus. I called Jeremy at work for advice and he does the big 1, 2, 3 freak out on me over the phone because there isn't a "run" button when I push start. Well, sorry buddy! Talk to Dell but I'm here to tell you that there is no run button. I have Jeremy on the phone in full crisis mode over the computer and Justin trying to run a motorcycle over my face. It wasn't pretty. For the sake of our marriage, we ended our phone call. The laptop took a backseat to Sassy McSasserson. And don't worry folks, Jeremy is much better at managing medical crisis than he is home crisis. Grandview residents can rest safely. He calls back about 20 minutes later and tries to advise me again minus the frustration. It was minimally successful and we still chose to put off any sort of efforts to fix the computer with him instructing me over the phone.

Then my sweet baby Leo woke up. And I could just curse myself for this: I told him we were going somewhere (Parkville Days to see the sites and ride the was such a GOOD plan). Why or why do I do these things to myself? Do I not REMEMBER that he will demand to leave immediately? That he has his father and grandfather's patience? Why or why do I do it? And so I try to rush around to get us ready while he is screaming "shoes" and "doodie" which actually means "hold me" as in carry me to the car. So mama's got the diaper bag packed. The stroller in the car. And the rain starts again. So we are back in the house. A quick dinner at home and then the rain breaks and I make another attempt at Parkville Days.

Justin is PUMPED! He's all: "I'm being good, mom. Look at me, mom. I'm following directions, mom!" SWEET!

So we make a quick stop at the bank down the street (which will be an important detail later) which is not our home bank but I haven't planned ahead, shocking I know, so I have to pay a ridiculous $6 fee just to get my own money. And so we are FINALLY off to Parkville, which is all of about 5 minutes from my house. As we pull into downtown Parkville and pull up right beside the all of the big rides it starts to rain again. Big ol' drops. So I'm kind of panicking. I'm thinking how am I going to explain to Justin that it just isn't going to happen tonight? Justin? Justin? I look back and he is dead asleep! It's 6:15 pm.

So I just circle the park and head home. I had to call my sister to debrief and she helped me to see that this was actually a successful venture. We met Leo's goal of leaving the house. He never understood where we were going in the first place. And Justin is asleep for what I THOUGHT was going to be for the rest of the night.

We make it home. Justin is in bed. Leo is playing with his glow worm which he has named "mommy" and putting "mommy" to bed under the blankets and pillows in the living room. Pretty sure "mommy" will suffocate under all of that, but it's not a battle I'm going to fight tonight.

Fast forward about 2 hours and I'm cleaning house. God clearly supports me being at home tonight and not fiddling around on the computer so I might as well put my time to good use. And then I hear Justin bawling and crying in his bed. I run up there and he was totally out of it. He gets up and goes potty and can barely stand up. I put him back to bed and he kept asking if we were there yet and if we are at the bank. I finally just had to tell him yes, were are at the bank. He eventually fell back asleep.

I put Leo to bed for his (hopefully) last night in the crib because his big boy bed arrives tomorrow! Every time I tell him he just asks "why?" Because I said so, son. Just because I said so. Get used to it.

Jeremy and I take a stab at a joint effort to fix the computer which is clearly a success, hence the blog! I told him that it was a Friday night miracle and he responded "yeah, you fixed it and I didn't yell at you."

All is well at the O'Briens.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Auction

The Mary Immaculate Catholic Church community is amazing. This past weekend they raised $18,500 through a silent and live auction! Just let that amount sink in for a minute. And while that amount alone might seem amazing, I think it is even more impressive when you learn that Mary Immaculate is a tiny little church in a town of about 1,800 people. The parish membership has all of about 30 families, but those families are do-ers! Movers and shakers, these folks!

Mary Immaculate is my childhood church and I love going back. In the fall/winter months there are several open spots in the pews, but the summer "lake" months usually have over 100 people crammed in on any given weekend. And I do mean crammed in. Standing in the aisles, pouring out the back doors. So much so that when the Spidle girls are in attendance my dad has to stand on guard at all times to make sure one of us doesn't pass out from the heat. You get the idea. I wish I had a picture to attach to this blog. The one attached is of my boys on the front steps this past Easter.

The auction itself was overwhelming, but in a good way. The dinner beforehand was perfect. Everyone pitched in. I think Patty and I cut 600 dinner rolls in half for the sandwiches and as usual my mom's efforts couldn't even be recorded in a single blog. Maybe they will get a blog all of their own. I'll just follow her around and log her every move. I digress. Back to the auction.

There was everything from little $2 dollar items to major pieces of furniture. My sister scored the DEAL of the night! She won a beautiful roll top desk/secretary for just $350. Going once, going twice, SOLD!! No one could believe she got it for such a steal. Especially when so many of the smaller items were going for that much and more.

The energy in the room was electric. It was so much fun to see my dad and Mark L. up at the front calling the bids. I could have just sat there and watched them all night. At times they were in pefect unison in their nearly matching island print shirts, gesturing from one bidder to the next, to the next, to the next! And loving every single minute of it. You could see it in their faces. Their excitement was contagious as evidenced by the nearly $10,000 that was raised from the silent auction alone.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Missy over to the side. Quietly and diligently entering all of the data into the computer to print up everyone's receipts. Those Liggits know how to run an auction! What a night!

Amen, Father Bob. Amen.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

short and sweet

it's been a while since I've blogged. We have been so busy. And in the spirit of my goal for August I'm going to keep this short. My goal is to talk less and listen more. I'm shooting for one word answers (when appropriate). Yes. No. Thank You. I'm sorry. Ok.

I'm typically quite wordy so we'll see how this goes...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Groundhog

so, some of you that read my blog might already be aware of my groundhog, um, issue so to speak. For others, this will be new information. There's just no 2 ways about it. They follow me around. No seriously, they do.

Now hear me out. When I moved back to KC in 2003 I used to see this one groundhog who would sunbathe on a rock next to Hy 169 North. On a good day, he would lift his head and wink at me. No, I'm just kidding. I made that part up and I really have to say that I cracked myself up in doing so.

So I'll address a few questions you may have. Why do I think it's the same one every time? Because that entertains me more than assuming different groundhogs happen to pass the same rock and catch a quick snooze on the same rock at the same time every afternoon. So sue me. Secondly, why is this groundhog a he. Why not?

So as my relationship with Jeremy grew, I let him in on this little secret. So he can vouch for the fact that I can somehow spot a groundhog wherever I go. Honestly I can pretty much spot any animal or varmint (is that a real word or just something they made up on Scooby Doo?) on the side of the road at any given moment. I swear it comes from my dad saying "now watch the road" every time I have left the house. I became hyper aware of any deer or other animal that might run out in front of my car. But I am digressing. Shocking, I know.

Anyway, when we moved into this house in 2006 you won't believe what happened. A groundhog set up his home under our front step. There were several days when I would see him (yes, the same him that used to hang out on Hy 169) walk up my sidewalk as if he were going to knock on my door. He would crawl under the front step and that's where he lived for several months. I prayed every night that one day I would look out the window and he would be wearing a bow tie and top hat and be swinging a black umbrella as he whistled his way up to my front door. But that never happened.

Then a little over a year ago, I let our two dogs out in our back yard and they totally freaked out. Yup, my ol' buddy was in the back yard. I rushed to get the video camera and recorded the whole thing! So I have proof this happened. The dumb thing just walked slowly (and I stress the slowly part) through the yard while my two dogs barked uncontrollably in his face. I was standing outside videoing when suddenly he made a turn for me. He picked up speed and started running...if you can even call it that...towards me. I totally freaked. I started yelling "He's coming to get me" or something stupid like that and I taped the rest of it from inside the storm door. I worried later that perhaps I had hurt his feelings. After all, he has been courting me for nearly 7 years now. I could have had the decency to not turn around and run from him like a screaming lunatic. But alas, I did exactly that.

There was another time at Lake of the Ozarks when a bunch of us went on a walk and I was actually talking about my friend, the groundhog, and one walked right across our path! Directly in front of us.

And today I saw him again. He was hanging out on Hy 45 near my house. He stood up on his back legs and gave me a little wave. I waved back.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baby Justin

I came across this today. I'm so glad I wrote it down or I never would have remembered all 3 verses. When Justin was an infant and I was still home on maternity leave, I made up this little song to sing to him while he was nursing. When he would get fussy anywhere I would just start singing this song and he would quiet right down. The tune is Mr. Sandman

Baby Justin, it’s time to eat
Mama’s got your milk, now isn’t that neat?
As you eat, you’ll keep on growin’
Before you know it daddy’ll have you mowin’

Baby Justin, it’s time for lunch
Mama feeds you ‘cause she loves you a bunch;
And when your done, you’ll be so happy
And you’ll be ready to take a nappy

Baby Justin, it’s your favorite meal
Mommy and baby are keepin’ it real;
All this milk is makin’ you chunky
And it makes your poop smell real funky

Monday, July 19, 2010

Not quite what I had planned...

Soooooo I had good intentions. I really did. I thought my meeting today was going to last all day, but I pushed through lunch and I was done by about 1pm. And as luck would have it our babysitter was off today so Jeremy was home with the kids. So I came up with the grand idea to take the afternoon off and do a little family outing. And that, my good friends, is where our luck ended.

I decided that we should go see the dinosaur exhibit at Union Station. I checked out the price of tickets and they are reasonable for 2 adults. I figured Justin could still pass for 2 years old and I'm pretty sure this whole day was karma coming back to bite me for lying about his age! Or at least planning to lie. We never got that far!

Even the trip to Union Station was marred by about three U-turns, some choice words from Jeremy to another driver, and 2 different parking lots before we paid $2 to finally park. We unload the kids and the stroller and head inside. About 10 steps into the door we find out that the dino exhibit isn't even open today. CLOSED ON MONDAYS. But we hear that you can see one of them through the window so we go ahead and take the elevator down to check it out. The boys LOVE it. So we head back upstairs and there is one on display in the lobby area. We go over to it and it moves/roars when someone walks by. The kids do a total freak out. Seriously. Leo's face is frozen. Mouth open. Eyebrows furrowed. He is completely frozen in fear. He's trapped in his stroller and can't escape. Can't even get a squeal out. He finally musters a small "bye-bye" as in "Get me the heck out of here!!!"

Justin on the other hand can do both talk and move. He looks a little like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone except his hands are over his ears instead of his cheeks. I don't think he took his hands off his ears for about 5 minutes. And he is slowly backing away begging it to stop. So enough of that. We are outta there.

So we haul back to the car. Did I mention that the heat index today is over 100 degrees? Have you met my husband? He has a permanent human sweater! So I know that if I'm already sweating, it's not going well for him. I still think we can salvage the afternoon by doing something fun with the kids INDOORS. We decide to head over to the T-Rex restaurant at the Legends in Kansas. Sticking with the dinosaur theme. We've never been there. Surely they will enjoy it.

We roll up to the Legends and navigate our way through about 250 high school softball players to make our way into T-Rex. Justin is LOVING the outside. Not so much on the inside. As soon as we walk in there is a huge T-Rex (hence the name) towering over us. They both do the big freak out again. We spend about 5 minutes there walking around the little store and looking at a fish tank trying to see if they will calm down. We sit down to try and eat but it's a no go. Every time something roars or moves, both of them dive into our laps, slap their hands over their ears, and beg to go home. So we leave.

Back into the heat. Walk to the car. Decided to go to Nebraska Furniture Mart to check out a big boy bed for Leo. That lasts about another 5 minutes before we look over and Justin has Leo pinned to the floor with his knee in his back and Leo is squealing. Not to be outdone, Leo shimmy's out of the maneuver to stand up and give Justin a huge smack to the back of the head. And we're done here.

Back into the heat. I still haven't had lunch. I'm getting slightly cranky. Against my better judgement I suggest Culver's. So we go inside, suck down 3 1/2 gallons of grease and get back into the car to finally head home. I'm sick to my stomach both from the grease and the fact that our afternoon was a total bust. I start to get the giggles about it. But soon enough the giggles turn into tears. I am suddenly half laughing/half bawling my eyes out. Jeremy kinda gets freaked out. He tries to make me feel better by getting Justin to tell me he had a good time. But all Justin will say is "not really." Which only makes me laugh/cry harder. Jeremy keeps his hand on my leg for the rest of the way home. Not sure if he was just being sweet or was afraid I might try to jump out of the moving car. Pretty sure it's the former.

We've been home now for 50 minutes. And I am NOT making this up: Justin is playing with his toy dinosaurs!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What? Me? Manipulate?

In May of this year I wrote a blog on the "Situation Room" which if you didn't read it is basically the downstairs/playroom where my children spend a good bit of time plotting against me.

So what does my little Army of 2 (or 3 when daddy is home) need? Strategy, of course. The Infant and Childhood SOP's (see another May blog) give a good base for how to carry out their plans. But what I often fail to realize is that they learn best from you know who. That's right. Good ol' Mom!

And what I've found is that my basic parenting strategy is manipulation. Real nice! There is a fair amount of manipulation going on in this house and it all begins with me. So I started taking a look at myself. And darned if I didn't discover that I am quite the manipulator.

True to form, I like to tell myself that it is not manipulation but in fact guidance, coaching, mentoring, teaching. You know, all of those really good managerial skills that I have honed over the years? See how I manipulated that? It's a social work thing. It's called "reframing." And if you could see some of the people I work with every day you would understand why reframing is not only helpful but essential in maintaining my sanity. The alternative is to lose my ever living mind with these crazy people!! Oops, I'm not supposed to call people crazy!

The same is true for parenting. Reframe/manipulate to maintain what mental stability I have left. So back to my original thought. My boys are becoming quite the strategists. And one of their favorite strategies is manipulation. Particularly my oldest one who is 3. And God Bless my youngest, Leo. He falls right in line with his General.

Some examples of the manipulation in our home:
ME: We get home from work and the boys fight over who gets to push the garage door button. So say in my sweet mommy voice "Oh Justin. Leo is going to push the button because you are so good at opening the door." Oh yeah. Works like a charm! Justin puffs his chest out and opens the door all the while telling me how he is bigger and stronger than Leo.

JEREMY: Leo is getting a prize out of the prize bucket because he told us that he needed to go poop. Justin also wants a prize and Jeremy says in his very best excited voice "I know what you get...BATTERIES!" Because he was already in the process of putting batteries in one of the toys. Yup, works like a charm again. Justin is overjoyed with the "prize" of getting to hold 2 AA batteries for his dad. SCORE!

JUSTIN: Leo is playing with the Fridge DJ and Justin decides he wants it. Insert manipulation: "Leo, you are being such a nice boy. Do you want to play with this (a dinosaur)? Here ya go." And Justin pulls the ol' switch-a-roo. Yanking the Fridge DJ from Leo's grip and shoving the dino in its place. His manipulation may lack some finesse, but nonetheless it gets the job done. And of course, Leo has learned from his brother and goes right along with the plan. Never bats an eye. He is eternally grateful for the attention he has received from his brother and pretty much bends over backwards to play with a new toy so his big brother can play with his.

Mission Accomplished (again!)

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I mean, who doesn't have some pretty great stories from the ol' college years? I can think of a dozen just off the top of my head.

There was the time the fall of my freshman year that my boyfriend from home came to visit and I was SOOOO over it already. Total disaster. I was slightly inept at relationships having spent my entire life in a gym! I was relying on my ever so worldly friend, Lisa, to help but she had to go and get her wisdom teeth out. Selfish if you ask me! For part of the weekend we actually sat in Lisa's mom's hotel room where poor Dale tried her hardest to be polite and make conversation. What a freakin' disaster! Oh, I already said that. But it really, really was! If you have never heard this story, it is really best told with me and Lisa together. We know how to tell a story! It's a skill we have honed after years of being friends. But we usually lose it at the end of this one and you can't understand what we are saying between peels of laughter! Let's just say that it didn't end well.

Or there was the time when some of our manager friends took us inside the scoreboard above the basketball court in the coliseum. I think it was after a gymnastics meet. I'm pretty sure that's the same night that Leslie and I spent the night in the little dorm rooms at the coliseum and then had to pretend like we were arriving for training room and practice like normal the next day. So scandalous!!! We were such innocent little things!

And the huge summer party we had at the little house we were subleasing the summer after freshman year. Lisa G, Danielle, and honorary gymnasts Lisa B, Lindley, and Nicole. Such a fun summer! Too bad we all gained about 15 lbs and were in the "fat club" the whole next season! I can honestly say now that my fun memories outweigh the whole weight issues. No pun intended.

But an all time favorite memory involves a bug. No, not an actual bug. But A-bug also known as Allison, my baby sis. She came to visit for a week one summer. I was living in good ol' Sumner Place. A tiny little cul-de-sac where they crammed in about 20 identical houses. They were brand new when we moved in and they were really nice for college housing standards. As I said, they were all exactly alike except for the color of the front doors and the roofs.

So I went off to work one morning at Northriver Video and Tan. That's right...shout out to the Reed's for combining a video store with 3 tanning beds! Anywho, Allison decided to take Lisa's dog Mugsie for a walk. Such a nice girl. She must have been 15 or 16 at the time. So after the walk she strolls back into our house. And there is a girl standing at the kitchen bar with long blonde hair, just like Lisa. But there are about 3 little dogs running around who of course make a beeline for Mugsie and Allison. Allison just stopped and stared at all of them and asked "What are all of these dogs doing in our house?" And then she realizes that the furniture is also different. This is not our house. She had walked into the house next door. So she just slowly backed out dragging Mugs away from the dogs and scurries off to our house. She called me at work and I am not kidding when I say that I remember laying on the floor behind the register laughing my ass off when she told me!

To this day, a simple statement of "what are all these dogs doing in our house" can really get us going!!! Love ya, A!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Justin's one-liners

Justin is always rollin' with the one-liners. He cracks me up pretty much every day and Leo is not far behind! His language is catching up fast and then I will really have my hands full! Just a few examples from tonight:

Justin is in bitty basketball for 3 and 4 year olds at our local Y and it's hilarious on so many, many levels! tonight he is standing with his hands in the air when his team is on defence, although it's obvious he has no idea why his hands are actually in the air. He is simply just following directions :) So he looks over and shouts "MOM. I LOVE YOU" It was so cute!

When we got in the car after basketball I asked him what was his favorite part. He said "I liked following directions" what else? "getting in the car" what else "being nice" So I asked him what he liked about basketball tonight and he said "Um, the passing."

Then we get home and he is being silly and whacks his head on the table next to my chair. He immediately starts bawling and freaking out. I looked at his head to assess the injury and there was a cut that was bleeding. I said "Justin is this where you hit your head?" His response, "You better believe it, Mom!"

And my favorite of the evening: I told him that I would read him a book before bed like we do every night. He asked if it can be a small, medium, or large book and I told him it was his choice tonight. So we read a big book, of course. I tried to skip a few pages because it was a seek and find but he caught me and wanted to finish all of it. He was really dragging out this one book. I tried again to skip a page (it's a really long book so give me a break here!) and he freaked out again. So I let him look over it one more time. When we were done I asked him to go put the book away so we could go brush his teeth. He says "Ummmmmm. Well Mom, it's WAY past my bed time so I really don't think I can do that tonight. You better do it!" Jeremy and I were cracking up!!! What a little manipulator!!!!

Keeps us on our toes for sure!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

...and let it begin with me

I had someone ask me recently why "this whole religion thing" is so important [to our family]. For me, it centers me. I spend all week rushing around managing, over-managing, and micro-managing everything around me. There isn't much about my job or my home life that is centered in faith. I try to set a good example for the kids, but certainly not as much as I would like. So this "whole religion thing" centers me. Each Sunday I spend time being reminded of where I want to be and who I want to be as a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I want to grow in Christ and be a symbol to others.

I went to church by myself this morning, which is an unusual occurrence for me. I usually spend the majority of Mass dealing with the boys. Don't get me wrong. I really, really love taking the boys to church. It's such a wonderful feeling to have them at church with me. Watching them listen and learn. I've never been a fan of sending them to the nursery during church. How will they learn to listen, participate, and appreciate church if they aren't there? Justin already knows a good bit of the prayers and songs. Even Leo, at just 18 months, knows how to kneel and fold his hands in prayer. Pretty darn cute, really!!

Anyway, I absolutely loved church this morning. Being by myself allowed me time to really pay attention and soak it in. And did I ever!! The music was particularly good today. Songs that I know by heart and that I love. They remind me of my childhood. My mother has played the organ for the church since before I was born so I have a particular fondness for the hymns she has played over the years. Our closing hymn was Let There Be Peace on Earth. The second line to the song is "...and let it begin with me."

So, yes, Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now. With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow. To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. Let their be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

It was the perfect ending to what I found to be a very moving service. Father Mike's homily was great and right on target with what I needed to hear this morning. His overall message, from what I gathered, was to be a good example of God. We all have persons in our lives that have turned away from Christ or who make other choices in their relationship, or lack thereof, with God. The message today was to love those people. Pray for them. Hope that they open their hearts to God and all of His goodness. Hope that they place their lives in God's hands so that He may guide them and see what is important. It's not preachy or at least to me, it's not. It's just simple. Love all and want what is best for those that you love.

Some people probably wouldn't categorize me as a particularly faithful person. That's OK. I certainly do and say my fair share of sinful things. So, I must remind myself. Let peace begin with me. As Father said this morning: Live out the values of our faith in ALL times. Not just the hard times in which I am struggling or ill or down. But also in the good times. God's message, peace, hope, and love is enough. I will try to be faithful in following God. I will follow the values of my faith.

Let peace begin with me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

And the award goes to....

It was a fun filled weekend, that ol' Staycation. She was a good 'un. Worth repeating, if you ask me. But even if ya didn't, you are reading my blog so really in essence, you did.

Just a few shout outs from the weekend.

The award for Most Brave goes to....CLAIRE! For her first solo tubing experience. FASTER PAPPAW! Runner up goes to BRETT who later went tubing with Claire.

The award for Most Number of Teeth Acquired during Staycation goes to....REID! For getting 2 new teeth along with strep throat to really make his first staycation enjoyable for him and his mother!

The award for Most Improved goes to...JUSTIN! For beginning the weekend by refusing to even touch the lake water and within 30 minutes he was a pro! Swam like a little fish all weekend. Even went tubing!

The award for Best Lake Jump goes to...BRETT! For his Cowboy jump which comes complete with a gallop across the dock, a fake lasso swinging, and a YEE-HA as he jumps in.

The award for Most Consistent Behavior goes to....LEO! For never going 60 seconds without saying MAH-MEEEEEEE except for rare instances in which it would switch to MIMI or PAPPAW

Honorable Mentions:
*Mandi for her keylime cheesecake and berries
*Allison for captaining the boat and mixing drinks (not at the same time)
*Justin for his one-liner: I'm being really good today, Mom. I wish there was another boy like me. (which I guess is actually a 2-liner!)
*Jeremy for cramming a whole weekend into 12 hours and then waking up at 3:45 am to take Allison to the airport and get to work on time this morning

and last but not least....MOM AND DAD. The host and hostest with the mostest! For cooking, cleaning, babysitting, bathing, feeding, and chasing after all of us all weekend!

oh wait....Mark. What the hell did Mark do all weekend?

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Staycation, BABY

Oh I have longed for you. and here you are! And just as expected, you have not disappointed. I wasn't sure we were ever going to make it. There were roadblocks along the way. Illness, neighborhood burglaries, freaky-deaky clients at work, dog feeding schedules, horrible traffic, a pit stop at the Clay County office, the list goes on. But the stars aligned just in time and here we are!

And this place was rockin' when we got here. Staycation Central (also known as Mimi and Pappaw's house) was in full swing. Doodle had a game of Polish Horseshoes going (a homemade drinking game of frisbee, and knocking beer bottles off of a 2x4), Dad/Pappaw/Ronnie was making cocacha's in the blender (yes, please), Greg was on the grill, and 5 children under the age of 7 were on the loose!

Famous Staycation lines thus far:
Justin: It's Vacation, BABY
Doodle: Courtney, where are my backup pants?
Dad: It's fantastico!
Leo: Hi Mimi, Hi Pappaw (which he says about 150 times per hour)

and it's only Friday morning....

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The motto

A little over 3 years ago I came up with my motto. It's pretty simple. "It's not wrong, it's just different." It means that the way others do and see things is not wrong, it's just different than how I do or see them.

I came up with it when I was bedridden at the hospital for 3 weeks prior to my oldest son's birth. And let me tell you, EVERYONE handles that differently! And I had nothing to do but sit around and think about how everyone was reacting. I seriously spent about 90% of those 3 weeks by myself in a hospital room. What else was I going to do? I did a lot of thinking. And sleeping. And watching TV. And doing paperwork for work. And playing Sudoku. And more thinking.

And I started getting a little cranky about how people were responding. I have a bit of an issue with wanting to be in control and I had absolutely no control over that entire situation. People that I wanted to visit didn't. People that I didn't particularly care to see in that situation stopped by. The only way that I found peace was to recognize that everyone handles things differently. So I learned to forgive the ones that didn't stop by and really appreciate the people that took time out of their busy schedules to come by and try to break up the never ending days of bed rest. When I look back now I realize that there were tons of really generous family members and friends who stopped by with books, magazines, snacks, flowers, etc. If you were one of them, THANK YOU. I may not have said it then, but I am saying it now. Thank you.

So I've learned and am continuing to learn to appreciate others' perspectives. It's hard. I like to think I'm right damn near all the time! But what's right for me might not be right for everyone. It's a toughie. A hard lesson to learn. But I'm working on it. And when I get frustrated with someone else or start to judge his or her decision, I try to fall back to my motto. Is it wrong? Or is it just different than how I would do it?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I don't know what it is about voicemails but they send me into some sort of freakish panic. First of all, don't you think we are all aware of the process by now? Is it really necessary for every single answering machine and voicemail to instruct us on when and what do to? I mean seriously, I think we've mastered this one!

So as soon as the whole message thing gets started I get distracted by the other 150 things I'm doing and by the time it gets to the "BEEP" I have lost my train of thought. Oh crap, who was I calling???? I'll just start talking and leave the general message and maybe it will come to me. "Hey, this is Gwen" (should I be leaving my last name or am I calling someone that knows me well??). Sometimes I get brave and throw out the ol' "hey it's me" as if everyone should realize who I am just by hearing my voice. I usually remember who I'm calling about half way through.

And I always feel obligated to leave the date and time that I am calling. Like they are tracking me to see if I in fact called at the very time I said I did. And what if I say "about 10:30" when really it's only 10:20 and I was just too lazy too look at the clock so I rounded off? And then I'm thinking what if they get the message at 10:25 and they wonder why the hell I said it was already 10:30 when it's clearly not!

And then (as if the person listening to the message even cares) I feel the need to rattle off exactly what I am doing and my entire schedule for the day in case this person wants to try to call me back.

And speaking of calling me back, this part is the absolute WORST. I never know how to end the message without sounding desperate. "So call me when you think about it" (which obviously they will be thinking about it when they call! DUH!) or "if you get some time, just give me a call" (desperate and bossy!) or "I'll just talk to you when you call me" (ummmm OBVIOUS) or "just call me sometime and we'll catch up" (PLEASE! it's like I'm a 16 year old girl) or "I'll catch up with you sometime this week" (stalker!).

Then I hang up and play it back in my mind which only causes greater embarrassment. As my friend Rosie once said "MOVE ON...JUST MOVE ON." And so I do.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Infant and Childhood SOP's

OK appears from talking to so many of you that there is not only a Situation Room, but these dang little people actually have a manual for their maneuvers!!! Can you believe it? And they share it with each other. Which only leads me to

Do you think they have it tucked all down in their swaddle when they leave the hospital? Like there is some little maternity ward elf who hands them out as they leave. Or do they pass it to each other in the cereal aisle at the grocery store? There's gotta be some at the pediatricians office. The nurse takes the baby's weight and while we are oohhing and ahhing over how much he/she has gained the baby is sneaking a copy from behind the scale. Parks and play areas are a given. They must have those things stashed at every slide and bouncy thing-a-majig from here to well....everywhere really! I'm pretty sure this has gone world wide. I can't imagine that they share them with each other at church. Wouldn't that be a sin? Or is it God's way of testing our patience? Good thing He's a forgiving God too :)

Not sure about daycares. There might be a whole different manual for those environments. More troops equals the need for a whole other level of planning. Or perhaps it's just covered in the appendix. And I imagine the appendix also covers other events where large number of children can come together in a unified group (dare I say army?) You know, the usuals like birthday parties, weddings, family gatherings and other large get togethers where there is more opportunity to increase their manpower.

And if they somehow miss out on it early know the ones....the babies that sleep through the night right away or latched on on the first try or never fuss at 6 pm or never poop on their outfit right before pictures...the information gets to them just a little later than everyone else.

OH! Maybe it's part of the fine print and ads in the back of our trashy gossip magazines. The part we never read. When we aren't looking they grab the magazine and right there next to the jeweled underwear proclaiming the new bride's married name and the pill for rock hard abs is a small ad advising the young troops to look next to the Fruit Loops on aisle 7 for their very own copy of the manual.

And what's it called? The Infant and Toddler Standard Operating Procedures? Childhood for Dummies? What To Expect When Your Mother Is Headed Towards the Nuthouse?

And the chapters? There's ones for single children and others for sibling groups. Still other chapters for multiples (God help that mother!) and blended families. I believe I'll delve into the chapters in another post.

It's all quiet on the home front for now. Better use this chance to get some housework done before the next invasion.

Friday, May 21, 2010

the situation room

I was out of town for most of this week and my dear husband stayed home with the boys for the first time EVER. I was pretty nervous in the weeks/months leading up to it. After all, I'm sure NO ONE could ever do as good a job parenting as good ol' mom. But I had to stick with my good ol' mantra: "It's not wrong, it's just different." More on that in another post.

But low and behold (what does that even mean?) he aces it. The boys have a ball, the house is clean, the laundry is done, and everyone still seems sane when I get home.

Then he leaves for a business trip and I have the boys for 3 days and low and behold (because I think I'll just stick with it) we are back in CRAZY town. He literally leaves at 5:30 and the crazy starts at 6:30. The morning starts off with probably one of my favorite things. J comes up every morning and climbs in bed with me. He has to lay on a particular side and in a particular position so that he is equally snuggled in while still able to see the TV for morning cartoons. Luckily I've got nowhere to be today so I'm good to just snuggle in. And fortunately for me today there is no demand (and I do mean DEMAND) for his morning juice (yet). Then #2, L, wakes up. I can hear him talking in his crib. I think to myself that I should go down there but oh how I'm all warm and snuggly. And unfortunately for me (and the hippo) I wait too long.

I head downstairs to greet him which is another favorite part of my day. Always welcomed with a big smile and a HI MAMA! And today welcomed with another lovely little bonus. Poop on his cheek. So let's get this straight. You've been digging in your diaper and it's on your face, the crib sheet, and one of your babies (stuffed hippo)? So I remove the hippo and 1, 2, 3: FREAK OUT! Really? I mean, really? You want me to leave the plush toy with poop in the bed? And I'M the bad person here? I'm trying to do you a favor, bud. How in all of your 17 months of life can you not realize that? Oh right....17 months. Gotcha. After all, you are the one that has had your hand down your pants for the last few minutes. On the other hand you are a boy so I'm not all that convinced this action is going to change.

So I'm thinking...they saves this crap (no pun intended) for me. Because while I'm cleaning a small person and the bedding, J is starting to not so nicely ask for his juice. Oh yeah. Sure. No prob. Let me just stop cleaning up poop and pour you a nice little cup of juice. Anything else I can get you?

I'm convinced they conspire against me. They have little meetings downstairs in their playroom. They plan it all out. As soon as I disappear upstairs they flip the switch. A video screen emerges from behind the toy box with a blue print of the house to efficiently enact their plan. The puzzles all flip over to be note pads. J stands at the front of the room with his pointer (his Mickey Mouse lightsaver sword) to instruct all troops. L and the 2 dogs....because let's be honest...they are TOTALLY in on it too......sit at attention prepared for the assignment. Crayons poised to take notes. They've got an easel set up with charts, maps, and graphs on how it's all gonna go down.

It's the toy room/situation room.

"Ok team (and thank goodness their team is only a duo at this point!) at 0600 I'll wake up and turn on the charm. Then at 0630 you see if you can squeeze out a few terds to smear around and then lure her into your room. I'll stand in the doorway just as she starts cleaning it up and act as if I literally might die of thirst if I'm not supplied with even a small sip of juice in the next 30 seconds. I'll turn on the sass at about 0945 and you see if your hitting/spitting combo can work her into a freak out. I'll bet you 2 hotwheels we can get her to raise her voice by 0947."


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Irving Berlin's "Always"

Below is a post about my grandparents wedding vow renewal. In it, I referenced this song so I thought I would post the lyrics too.

I'll be loving you Always
With a love that's true Always.
When the things you've planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand Always.


Days may not be fair Always,
That's when I'll be there Always.
Not for just an hour,
Not for just a day,
Not for just a year,
But Always.

I'll be loving you, oh Always
With a love that's true Always.
When the things you've planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand Always.


Dreams will all come true,
growing old with you,
and time will fly,
caring each day
more than the day before,
till spring rolls by.
Then when the springtime has gone,
Then will my love linger on.
I'll be loving you, oh Always

With a love that's true Always.
When the things you've planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand Always.


Days may not be fair Always,
That's when I'll be there Always.
Not for just an hour,
Not for just a day,
Not for just a year,
But Always.

Not for just an hour,
Not for just a day,
Not for just a year,
But Always.

I Dean, take you Dixie

A few weeks ago my maternal grandparents celebrated 60 years of marriage. We had a family BBQ and then the following week on their anniversary they renewed their wedding vows during church at the same church where they were married 60 years ago to the day. Words can't even describe....but I'll try.

We are from a small town so our little church only seats about 100 people. It's nice and simple and intimate. Many, if not all, of the people there for Mass that night have known my grandparents for most of their lives. In fact, the two boys that served Mass at their wedding were present for the vow renewal. One actually served this Mass too.

So if you can picture it, there were about 50 people gathered in a small town Catholic Church. Before Mass, Nana got out her wedding album and was comparing the pictures to how the church looks now. Before Mass began, my cousin sang (with my mom on the piano) Irving Berlin's "Always" which was one of the songs from their wedding. If you aren't familiar with the song you should check it out. It's the perfect wedding song and an even more perfect 60th wedding anniversary song! She did a beautiful job! I was watching my grandparents sit hand in hand while listening to their adult granddaughter sing their wedding song. So sweet.

During Mass, Father brought Nana and Papa up to the alter and they renewed their wedding vows. You could barely hear them, but mostly because I think they were just saying them to each other. They weren't proclaiming them for all to hear and making a show of it. They were just renewing their vows to each other. Eye to eye, hand in hand they recited the vows to love and honor each other. And then they kissed.....maybe the cutest thing I've ever seen.

But probably my favorite part was yet to come. My mom had arranged a little surprise. During the last hymn, the priest usually processes back down the aisle. But he continued to linger up by the alter and you could feel that everyone was a little confused. After the last verse he just stayed put and looked at my mom who was playing the piano. My mom just acted as if this was totally normal and she was just moving on to the next song. She switched out her sheet music but instead of another hymn she started playing the Wedding March. After the first few notes we could all see my grandparents realize what she was playing. They just sort of looked at each other, laughed, shrugged their shoulders and then stepped out into the aisle and walked arm in arm back down the aisle with everyone clapping. It gives me goosebumps now to even think about it!!!

Saying that my grandparents are my role models seems so cliche. But who wouldn't want to model themselves after these 2 people? At the family BBQ the weekend before the vow renewal, the 6 children each gave a top 10 list of memories. Every single memory had some hint, if not an outright example, of Nana and Papa's patience, generosity, and love. When we got home that evening, my husband said "Do you think our boys will be able to say that about us in 60 years?" Now if that isn't a goal.....I don't know what is!