the boys

the boys

Saturday, December 31, 2011

....and let it begin with me (revised)

I posted a blog very similar to this in July 2010 and I felt the need to repost and tweak it a little bit for this New Year's Eve.  Last weekend at Christmas Eve Mass with Jeremy's family in Lee's Summit all parishioners were given a copy of a book titled Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly.  I've started reading it over the last few days and already feel inspired to have a better understanding of my religion and how to show it in my daily life.  If I were you I would anticipate several quotes and blogs stemming from chapters in this book! 

Tonight I took the boys to Saturday night Mass and they nearly slept through the whole thing which was fine because I had a nice chance to soak in the service.  The closing hymn was "Let Peace Begin With Me."  The second line to the song is "...and let it begin with me."

So, yes, as the song goes.... "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."

I am not big on New Year's resolution so I'm not sure that this is really a resolution as much as it is a promise to myself.  Maybe they are the same thing, but I feel better not putting into the resolution category.  So this year I will strive to remind myself to let peace begin with me.  Let me encourage peace to those around me in all areas of my life. 

Happy New Year to all of my blog friends.  May 2012 bring health, happiness, and PEACE to all of you!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Behind in the Polls

Well, I lost Mother of the Year award several months back and with the way things are going it doesn’t appear I will be in the running again anytime soon. And now it would appear my Wife of the Year nomination is slipping from my grasp.

Yesterday just wasn’t my day. Picture me with a big pouty face and arms crossed. Things did not go my way. And I don’t like it when things don’t go my way. HMMFFFF! It wasn’t like anything major went wrong. Everyone is happy and healthy….well I nearly ruined the healthy part but we’ll get to that. I know I don’t have room to complain, but somehow the knowledge of that didn’t really stop me.

I could go on and on about all of the things that aren’t going my way, but really when I start to list them out in my head it’s almost just embarrassing how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. So with that, I will get to the real reason I started this post today: my campaign for Wife of the Year and how I likely won't even make it past the primaries.  I am not polling well, so to speak.

I started the year off pretty strong by being my stunningly perfect self, slipped slightly in the polling when I took 3 vacations this year without my dear husband, but came on strong at the end by buying him an IPad2 (with all of the extra money he earned from working a 4th job…..wait…..that seems less like my accomplishment and more like his. Hmmmm). Anywho, I think I still had a shot at the nomination. Until last night.

You might recall from two paragraphs ago that I didn’t have a stellar day. I came home and my sweet little Jeremy was taking down all of the Christmas decorations for me.  He's really the man behind the woman, behind the man.  Behind the woman.  Taking down the decorations is a big job and one that I don’t particularly care to take on. I am better at making a mess than picking it up. He and I are opposites in that way. It really works for us. Or maybe just for me. Hmmmm, again.

It was time to cook dinner. I felt obligated to take on that task since he had just finished taking down all the decorations. Of course I had worked all day and spent the day putting out fires on various cases. But really….life’s not fair, right? And we all have to eat. We have very little food in our house this week. We are kind of in clean-out mode. Dinner for the last two nights has been a hodge-podge of leftovers and items that we need to use up before they spoil. We had a choice of breaded pork loins from Schwanns or Tomato Basil soup with grilled cheeses. Fancy, I know. Don’t be jealous of my Julia Childs' like household. I know you are.  Really, don't be.  OK, be jealous.  It will just eat away at you.

Apparently Jeremy voted for soup and grilled cheese but somehow in my mind I switched that over to pork loins. I know what you are thinking. This story is so good and suspenseful you can’t hardly stop reading it! Pork loins instead of soup! I’m pretty sure the Today Show is going to call any minute to share this story on the national news.  We might just be the lead story on my new favorite TV show, Rock Center with Brian Williams.  He's yummy. 

Ohhhh, I JUST realized that publicly salivating after an older man miiiiiiight work against me in this campaign. Damn.

Anywho, next task was to figure out side dishes. Again with the hodge-podge. I was desperate. Really, really desperate. Jeremy had already turned his nose up at me once when he realized I had screwed up the menu choice. But seriously, I’m not a freaking waitress!! And I was not put here to serve you. Whoa! Where did that come from? Got a little off track there.

So, sides. Back to the sides. Jeremy always complains that we don’t eat rice. Our son was highly allergic to it for the first several years of his life so it was banned from our house…..or was it??? We occasionally bought frozen meals or microwave meals for lunches with rice in them knowing we would take them to work. So, as I rummaged through the cupboard (do people really use that word anymore?) I found a Rice-in-a bowl microwave meal.  PERFECT!  Jeremy's side for the night. 

I cooked and served dinner.  We ate.  (again, I know this story if RIVITING!!!)  Time for clean up.  I noticed that Jeremy didn't actually eat the rice.  Deep down inside I knew why, but I had to ask.  "Honey, did you not like the rice??"  "No, it sucked." 

And this.....this, my where my campaign really derailed.  This was the breaking news story that interrupted your previous scheduled programming to splash my faults to all of the world.  Well, not really.  I'm doing it by posting this blog but it's really more exciting to think of it the other way.

I could have looked into the camera (or Jeremy's face as the case may be) and lied.  It's what we, in the biz, all do.  Or I could have claimed innocence and thrown someone else under the bus.  Low man on the totem pole is to blame.  It would have been easy.  Leo is the obvious target.  He's low man in the house and could have done any number of things to that rice.  But I'm a strong woman.  Hear me roar. 

Again, I know the suspense is killing you!! This is good stuff here. Literary work of art.

So I confess.  I knowingly fed Jeremy a Rice-in-a-bowl that expired in December 2009.  Oopsy daisy!  In my defense he always brags about having an iron stomach.  He once ate a loaf of bread from a co-workers locker that had been there for a YEAR while the co-worker was overseas in the military.  So really, was this that bad?  I didn't think it would really hurt him.  And again, in my defense, it didn't really.  His stomach as a little upset as we went to bed.  And he had some really bad gas, but really that all that different than any other Tuesday night?  No, it is not.

So now I just have to wait on the vote.  Am I still in the running?  Can I bounce back in the polls?  Can I start a smear campaign against the other canidates to divert attention?  Yeah, I can probably do that.  I can actually probably be pretty good at that. 

Crossing my fingers that I come out at least in the top 2 on Super Tuesday.  Right now I'm polling behind his IPad2.  I might be behind in the polls now, but there is still time to redeem myself and reenergize my campaign.  I suspect it will require lingere. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Letters to Santa

Dear Santa,
Now Jack the Elf is the greatest elf in the world and I thank him so much for coming.  I've been kinda good and I want like a Star Wars game for my Leapster and a cookie maker that is so much fun where you can make an elephant or a sun or I don't really know what else you can make.  So, can I have that please?  And I guess I would want something that, um, that goes to my Leapster and it gets micromods and it downloads micromods anytime you want to.  It's kinda like when you push a button and micromods apear.  Well, um, I guess that's it.  Hey Santa, could you give me a woogle pet?  You put fluffy all in and sprinkle in the magic and then you can make your woogle pet talk.  I saw it on a commercial.  And then just one more tiny thing.  I want a Green Lantern mask and thingy that goes on your arm and press a buttom and make noise.  That's it.  That's the very last thing.
Justin.  this is me and I love you Santa. And I love your elf.

Dear Santa,
I wan a batman game for me leester (Leapster).  I been good.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekly Assignment

I believe I have written before about Father Evan's weekly assignments for our church parish family.  Yesterday I got one of those rare opportunities to attend church alone and I was really able to soak up the message. 

Fr. Evan began by talking about Christmas wish lists and the ability to save wish lists on various websites for family members to search and get exactly what you want.  God, too, has a wish list and the only thing on it is YOU.  It is all he wants.  What a wonderful thought. 

The following is sort of a mix between Fr. Evan's assignment and my own reflection of how it impacts me...and maybe you if you choose to follow along.  The assignment for this week was to reflect on the areas of your life that you have let slide.  What are those areas that you have slipped slightly in living in the way that God wants you to live?  We all have them.  It's human nature and no one is perfect no matter how much Type A people like myself try to control everything.  I find myself trying to control and fine tune so many areas of life but upon reflection by doing this I'm often neglecting other very important relationships, friendships, self-care, etc. 

So this holiday season Fr. Evan recommends that in order to give God his one wish we should spend the first few days of this week reflecting on the relationships in our lives.  Relationships with friends, spouses, children, parents, siblings, co-workers, or even strangers.  Reflect on your relationship with each of these people for a few days.  By about mid-week choose one relationship for which you will give some extra TLC. 

Fr. Evan advised us all to form a practical strategy to improve that chosen relationship.  He reminded us that it is not practical or a reasonable expectation of ourselves to resolve all of the relationships that need attention. 

I extend Fr. Evan's assignment to all of you.  Will I choose you?  Will you choose me?  I know we will all choose the relationship that is right for us at this point in time while reminding ourselves that we can't fix everything at once. 

Will it involve tolerance?  Probably.  Will it require patience and reflection beyond our normal comfort levels?  Yup.  Will it improve the chosen relationship exponentially?  Well, it takes two to tango so that's hard to say. We can only control our own actions and our own responses.  If the relationship continues to struggle or fails to improve at your preferred rate, I encourage you to pray.  Pray about it. Pray for it.  Just pray.  There is power there.  We have all seen it.  Use it and be amazed by it's power.

Good luck to all that choose to participate in this assignment and may the peace of the season be with each one of you!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Having My Cake and Eating It Too

My mama always told me to have my cake and eat it too.  It's the golden rule.  You might think the golden rule is to do unto others as you want to be done to you.  Not in our house. 

Last night I failed my mother. 

We all know that mothers tend to exhaust themselves taking care of their children and leave self-care as our very last duty.  The concept of securing your own oxygen mask before assisting your child is sometimes lost on us.  We go, go, go.  Serve, serve, serve.  Putting aside our own needs and wants.  Failing to fit a shower into your day when caring for a crying infant.  Never getting to go to the bathroom in peace without children pounding on the door with their immediate needs.  Going all out for their birthday's while insisting you don't need presents for your own.  Letting them have the last bite.  Putting aside your own desperate  need for sleep so they can crawl into bed at 4 am because he had a dream that the doctor was going to take all of his eyelashes out (don't ask!).  The list could go on and on. 

So back to having my cake and eating it to and how I have failed miserably to do so.  Yesterday was Leo's birthday party.

I ordered the cake.  I paid for the cake.  I picked the cake up from the store.  I sent my husband back home to get candles for the cake.  I took the cake out of the box.  I took pictures of the cake.  I cut the cake.  I served the cake.  I cut myself a slice of cake.  But then i failed.  I had my cake.....but I did not eat it too! 

I got sidetracked.  Leo was looking so cute with his balloon that I wanted pictures of it.  Then we went on to opening gifts.  Then more pictures.  Clean up.  Extra cake went back in the box.  My piece was eaten by a 10 month old (which is fine!).  More playing in the bouncy houses.  Lots of goodbye's.  Jeremy packed everything up in the car before I could get even a small bite.  Then out to dinner and home to open gifts. 

Lots of continued distractions that prevented my re-entry into the kitchen.  I actually FORGOT the cake was in there.  For this, I am filled with shame.  Now, mind you, I did snag a quick bite of mocha cookie dough from the fridge on my way to bed.  I didn't go completely without.  I wouldn't want you to worry about me. 
It's 9 am.  And I will now have my cake and eat it too.  Hopefully. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What am I thankful for?

Of all the Thanksgiving stories and good times with family, there is one that sticks out in my mind.  Sticks out.  Ha!  That will be funny to you in about 4 minutes.

Justin and his 6 year old cousin, Brett, are buddies.  Justin thinks Brett pretty much walks on water.  It's all "Brett said this" and "Brett said that" and "Brett has one of those" or "that's what Brett told me." 

They pretty much stick together anytime we are at Mimi and Pappaw's house.  Playing, wrestling, coloring, and building tinker toys.  They have so much fun, it really shouldn't (and can't) be interrupted. Not even to take a crap. 

That's right.  They even have to be together in the bathroom.  Thanksgiving day is no different.  I asked where they were and Claire's report is that they are in the bathroom together.  I take it in stride.  I checked on them briefly.  Justin was doing his thing.  Brett was walking around the bathroom just shootin' the bull with him. 

But then.....well, the first clue that something was amiss was that young Reid comes walking out of the bathroom with a look of horror on his face.  I guess Reid felt the need to be in on the bathroom action.  His hand was covering his mouth.  His eyes were wide.  I asked him what was wrong but he would only shake his head and glance over his shoulder towards the bathroom. 

So I venture into the bathroom.  Brett is hovering in one corner, squatted down, hand over his mouth a la Reid.  His eyes are equally as wide.  He silently points to Justin. 

Justin, my brave child, fesses up for the group. 

"It was an accident!!  Brett threw the Tinker Toy stick and it landed in the potty.  SORRY MOM!" 

The looks on their faces were priceless. 

So I ask myself:  Self, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?  And the answer is:  I am thankful for my dad who fished the tinker toy out of the potty.  Good ol' Pappaw!

....and let it begin with me

After a particularly difficult week intermixed with some really wonderful family time, I was reading through some of my old blog posts.  I really love the way this one made me feel and decided to re-post it today.

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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Deep Thoughts by Justin O'Brien

These deep thoughts by Justin have been said all within the last 24 hours. 

Hey, God?  How do you make it rain?  (pause and cocks his ear to listen for the answer).  Umm-hmmm.  (pause).  Ok.  Thanks.  (turns to me) I'm ready to say my prayers now. 

OH.  I need to make my bed.

Did you know that squirrels don't have very many teeth?  They have 3.  One on the bottom and 2 on the top.

I can't wait to fly in Heaven.

I want to be a scientist to investigate stuff. 

(after I told Jeremy that Rock Center is my new favorite news show and Justin asked what it was about I told him that it's a news show about what is going on in the world).  Oh, I should probably watch that.  I really want to know what's going on in this world.  We should record it so I can watch it too. 

(after the boys were playing and wrestling and Leo starts screaming)  MOM!!!! Leo lost a tooth.  Hurry!!!!  (and so I rush in there and yank Leo's mouth open).  I'm just kidding!!!!  He just has a fruit snack stuck in his tooth! (and they both crack up laughing at my expense!) 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just One More Chapter...

I don't know which I love more.  Reading or writing.  I guess no one is forcing me to choose so I can be content with liking both equally.  I guess it just depends on my mood.  Reading is mindless for me.  A get away.  I don't read anything heavy.  I don't read to learn.  Anymore.  If I ever did in the first place.  More on that later.

I read for pure and simple pleasure.  I read fiction almost exclusively. Not science fiction (gag!) or trashy romance novels...although I've read my fair share of those.  Just good ol' fashioned fiction novels.  People and their lives.  Their stories.  Not all that different from what I do every day at work.  Listen to people's stories of their lives.  

But unlike work I don't have to retain the information I read when I read for pleasure.  In fact I often forget most of it after I read it.  I can't, and quite frankly don't want to, remember the details. I have enough to think about.  

Last year for Mother's Day the boys gave me a Kindle.  When the Kindle first came out I shunned it.  I thought I would miss the feel of a book.  Of turning pages.  Not unlike most new technology (cell phones, laptops, texting....just to name a few) I assume it's unnecessary and I won't like it.  It's the Spidle in me.  We are too good for new technology until it's been around for a few years.  Then we come to the dark side and become dependent on it just like everyone else while somehow feeling superior that we held out longer than others.  A ridiculous way of thinking.  Of this I am keenly aware! 

Anyway, I got a Kindle.  And I LOVE IT!!!  The best present I have received in as long as I can remember.  I have to limit myself lest I read at all hours of the day and night.  Skipping sleep, work, and parenting.  It could happen.  It's my drug. 

Last night I let myself just read to my little heart's content,  which ended up being 1 am and that's only because I finished my book.  I could have gone on for a few more hours.  This morning I woke up with what I call a book hangover.  I'm a big fan of books that make me cry.  I think it might be the one emotional outlet I allow myself in my otherwise "Ice Queen" world, as my husband lovingly calls it. 

I just let it flow.  Allowing the ugly cry every once in a while.  Connecting with or at least sympathizing with the main characters. Feeling their pain.  Riding the highs and lows with them.  Then wrapping it up.  Reading the last page.  Closing the book or rather now switching the book off and coming back to my own reality, which in comparison to what most characters are doing is pretty uneventful.  Fine by me.

Last night wasn't one of the ugly cries but I did have a nice chance to let go of some of the feelings I work so hard to keep in check the rest of week.  And oh it felt so good.  It was the kind where at first I start to tear up while trying to stay strong.  Then the realization that for all intensive purposes I am alone.  Jeremy is in a deep sleep beside me.  I am only occasionally reminded of his presence when he has a conversation with himself in his sleep.  The boys were sound asleep too.  So, I stopped trying to prevent the tears and just let them roll.  Occasionally wiping my eyes with the corner of my pillow case.  Then sniffing a little bit.  Then throwing caution to the wind and wiping my nose on my sheets.  It's OK.  Don't panic.  I knew today is laundry day.  It did finally get to the point that I had to get up for some toilet paper to blow my nose quietly.  Then I remember that Jeremy is in a dead sleep so I go for the ol' foghorn blow. 

I can feel a headache coming on from the stuffy nose and crying.  So I'm reading faster and faster knowing the end is so near.  I started the evening at about 73% of my book completed.  That's a new thing to get used to with the Kindle.  No more page numbers.  Just percentage of completion.  I think you can change it to page numbers but I kind of like the task of getting to 100%.  As I read, I can see the scale at the bottom slowly creeping towards 100%.  At the end of every chapter I think I should just put the book down and get some sleep.  But I don't.  I push forward.  Telling myself repeatedly "Just one more chapter.  OK.  Just one MORE chapter."  I'm such a rebel. 

And as that thought crosses my mind I realize it is both sad (seriously?  THIS is my rebellion?) and hilarious.  Hilarious because many times in my life reading at night has been a rebellion.  As I finished my book I started thinking of all the times that I actually got in trouble for reading.  Sounds funny to me now.  I wonder if my boys will ever be "in trouble" for reading.  And as I think of one time another pops in my head.  Then another.  Then another. Then I got out of bed and came down to write this blog. 

Nancy Drew books were my first love.  The first books I really remember reading and not being able to put down.  I remember trying to read them by flashlight at night and hearing my parents yell from the other room to go to bed. 

The same was true when I moved to my Aunt and Uncle's house when I was in middle school.  I had one of those fancy-dancy lamps that clip onto my headboard.  It was pink.  I was so cool.  Well fancy-dancy almost burned the house down.  I would put a pillow over it to dim the light so Karol couldn't tell I was still up reading.  One time it burned a hole through my pillow case.  Hey, I was 12.  Or maybe 13, but still....

Then there was the time that someone gave me a Dean Koontz book to read in 7th grade.  Seriously, who gave me that?  Anyway the librarian told my mom that his books were totally inappropriate for my age and she forbid me to read them.  I got another one somewhere because she caught me reading one again a few months later.  Seriously, these are my teenage rebellion stories?  This is so sad.  But when you train 35 hours a week and go to school full time, you aren't left with much opportunity for actual teenage rebellion. 

Then in college, reading remained one of my vices.  Given at this point I had developed a few other age appropriate misbehaviors but those are for another blog.  In another lifetime.  All of my good friends and teammates from that time know this story well.  We still get a laugh out of it.  I actually got in trouble from our coaches for reading an "outside reading book" on a bus trip home from a gymnastics meet.  What???  I was like 20 years old and in trouble for reading a book.  Apparently my grades were suffering (which meant having anything below a B) which would reflect poorly on our team as a whole.  We can't have that happen.  We have a reputation to uphold and that reputation does not include having a vast knowledge of Mary Higgins Clark or Danielle Steel.  I am sure on some levels their intention was honorable and in my best interest as opposed to theirs.  They could likely see a bigger picture than I could at the time.  A picture that included graduate school admissions requirements.  I should be grateful.  But mostly I still just find amusement that I got called out for reading a book of my own choosing as opposed to completing my Algebra homework.

And now I'm all grown up.  And sooooo mature, I might add.  And rarely encountering anything close to Algebra.  And no one to tell me to go to bed except the voice in my head reminding me how dead tired I will be the next day if I read just one more chapter....just one more chapter....just one  more chapter.....just one more chapter....zzzzzzzzzzz. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Thank goodness for Ellan's Preschool!  I'm a better coach than teacher and quite frankly I'm not sure if I'm all that good of a coach.....and let's be coaching I mean just generally bossing people around.  But I'm certainly no teacher.  I was actually an education major in college until I realized that I lack the patience to teach a roomful of children the same thing over and over again.  It's not my cup of tea.  Ellan and Heather, on the other hand, are pro's at it!  Three days a week my kids come home with their handiwork.  Learning their letters and numbers.  Writing their name.  Matching. Cutting and pasting.  All of the usual preschool tasks.

I know I teach my boys.  Good, bad, and otherwise!  I only have to read past blog posts to see they learn from me whether I intend for them to or not.  I try to be a positive role model for them.  I hope and pray I am not failing them.  This parenting thing is tough and I know I am not alone in feeling like I can't ever get it quite right.  Tonight I tried to channel my inner Ellan/Heather and tackle the pack of site word cards Justin discovered on our game shelf earlier this week. 

We have never done site words so he was pretty clueless about the "game."  We started with an easy one.  Mom.  (Hey, I embrace my narcissism).  We start sounding it out, letter by letter.  Mmmmm.  Oooo.   Mmmmmm.  Repeat.  Repeat a little faster.  Then Justin says "I guess CAR."  What?  This isn't a guessing game.  And how do you guess car?  How the hell do you get car from MMMMM OOOOOOO MMMMMM? 

So we try this a few times trying to get the hang of it.  He can easily recognize all of the letters and gets the sound of each one of them right most of the time.  But the concept of sounding each one out to form a word is seemingly lost on him at this point.  He still thinks it's a guessing game.  Or a rhyming game.  Which makes sense because up to this point all of our games at home are in fact rhyming or guessing games. 

On to the second word.  Not.  Meanwhile, Leo is hovering nearby like he always does when Justin and I play card games.  He never wants to actually play but he wants to make sure he isn't missing anything. He is busy making Batman attack a Hot Wheel. 

So back to "not."  Justin recognizes the first letter as N and starts to sound it out.  From out of nowhere Leo yells "NOVEMBER!"  They are so proud of themselves. They are convinced that the card says November and they are congratulating themselves on getting it right.  I actually felt bad telling them it wasn't November and to sound out the whole word.  Nnnnnnnn.  Oooooooo.  Ttttttt.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat a little faster.  Then Justin yells "BATH!"  And Leo yells "November!"  What???  How do you get Bath or November from Nnnnnnn Ooooooo Tttttttt? 

I am the worst teacher ever.  They are totally not pickin' up what I'm puttin' down here!  We continue on through "red" and "run."  It's a slow and painful (for me) process.  Everytime we got to the N in run Leo would yell "November!"  At least I know he's got that one down pat.  He learned it at Ellan's....of course!

We made it through a few more words before it was time for dinner.  I was amazed that neither of them showed any frustration with not getting the answers right the first time, or the second, or the fourteenth.  I guess that must be what it's like to be so open to learning.  I could probably learn a little bit from them.  Is there a mommy school?  I think I need to enroll!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eating, Drinking, and Being Pretty Darn Merry!

So, I've been thinking all week about what kind of blog to write about my fabulous trip abroad.  What to share?  What to share?  What NOT to share (wink, wink)?
I guess I will go boring and do a top 10 list.  So here it is....excluding our Kosovo experiences since I already blogged about those:

10. Spending way more time at the awesome shopping mall on the bottom floor of the Louvre than we did looking at actual art.  I think we only pulled ourselves away from the stores out of sheer obligation to see the Mona Lisa.  You can't go to the Louvre and not see her.  But don't worry.  We shopped some more before we left :) 

9. Drinks at Experimental Cocktail Club that were super yummy.  It was located in our favorite shopping area and we tried 5 times over 2 days before it was actually open.  But no big deal really.  We spent so much time in this area.  It had cafes, cheese shops, pastry shops, wine stores, chocolate stores, high end clothing, consignment clothing, pubs, etc, etc.  We could have stayed right there for an entire week and never gotten bored. 

8.  Notre Dame- simply amazingly beautiful church.  We tried twice to get up early enough to attend a morning Mass but both mornings we slept in from the exhaustion of being a tourist. 

7.  Stick thin/bleach blond haired French waitress at the Cha Cha Lounge that screwed up our dessert order three times and I totally got the giggles when she kept bringing me the same one and I kept telling her I wanted the chocolate cake.  Below is a pic of Allison testing out my drink.

6.  the Eiffel Tower.  Really amazing just to see it in person and go up to the top.  My parents went almost 30 years ago so really cool to see it for myself.  We waited in some really long lines.  I was shocked at how many people were there on a random Thursday in October.  Can't imagine the lines in June! 

5.  Dessert sampler at a little cafe/bar place in Paris that we went to twice...yes, we went back just for the desserts one last time before we left!  We were starving the first  night we got there and Allison had scoped out a hot new place but it was booked through the end of October so we wandered the streets of Paris aimlessly at about 10 pm and finally stumbled upon the perfect shopping area I already mentioned.  Most places were already closed but this place was still serving.  After dinner we opted for a little dessert sampler and we were pleasantly surprised to say the least!!  The chocolate lava cake was SOOOO good.  I got the full sized one the last  night.  No need for sample size here!  I love these two pictures of the before and after.

4.  Wicked!  By sheer luck on our very first night in London we came upon the Broadway musical just 3 minutes before the curtain dropped.  And we got rock star seats that must have been saved for some VIP's that didn't show.  Loved every minute of it.  Acting and singing were awesome.  People watching during intermission was also worth the price of the seats!

3. Getting dressed up all fancy-dancy for our night on the town in Paris.  We started with drinks at the Ritz Carlton at the famous Hemingway's Bar.  Uber rich and fancy. We sat at the bar with a really fun and engaging bartender.  We had one drink a piece and paid way more than I would ever pay for a full meal here in good ol' USA :)  I begged Allison to let me take a picture but she wouldn't let me.  I was able to sneak a quick pick of a beautiful flower arrangement in one of the many sitting areas on the way through the enormous lobby area. 

2.  Harrods in London.  It was one of those experiences where you walk in and just fall in love.  It's super high end for the most part (Prada, Gucci, and Chanel....OH MY!) but one one of the main floors was several rooms of fresh food including cases and cases of cheese, shelves of spices/oils/coffees, etc, a whole room for chocolate, and then the seafood room.  We had the most delicious lunch in the seafood room.  Ahhhh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  I could have stayed there for 3 days straight.  I would have to take out a 2nd and 3rd mortgage out on our  house but it would have been fun for the time being!!

1. Little Palace Hotel.  Our initial joy that it was on the same block as our metro station was quickly enhanced by the absolute adorableness of the whole place.  When we made it to our room and realized we actually have an awesome view from our penthouse suite (ok, it wasn't a penthouse was just a tiny but adorable room on the top floor with a double window that opened!) I literally squealed with delight that we could see the Eiffel Tower from our room.  Kudos to Allison for finding this perfect little area of Paris!

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED every minute of my trip.....except the trip home.  An obvious blog choice would be to document the disaster that was my trip home.  I really hate to give it too much attention.  It was the only downside to my trip.  On the other hand, it is worth mentioning so this is as short as I can make it:

20 minute walk to Underground; 1 hour subway ride to the airport; 2 hour wait to board plane; 8 hours ride to Newark; got diverted to Maine; sat on tarmac in Maine for 2 hours and not allowed to get off the plane; 90 more minutes to fly to Newark; circled above Newark for a few minutes; another hour on the tarmac waiting for a gate to open; 30 minutes through customs; 30 minutes for my bag; 3 hour wait in line to rebook my flight to Kansas City (11:45 pm by this time!); 45 minutes in line for a taxi; shared a taxi with 2 women that didn't speak English; dropped them off at a hotel that didn't have electricity; drove to Lisa's (college roommate) house in a cab; barely avoiding downed power lines and tree limbs; arrived at 1:15 am; talked for 45 minutes ands slept for 2 1/2 hours; took a town car back to the airport at 5 am; got caught in a huge traffic jam but finally arrived back at Newark; 1 hour in line to find out my flight is cancelled and they can't get me home until Monday night (this was Sunday morning); break down in tears and beg for a flight anywhere close to Kansas City; get on 8 am flight for St. Louis; St. Louis flight cancelled; wait in line for 1 more hour to get put on standby for Kansas City; mini tram to a new terminal; wait in line for 10 minutes to get an actual seat on the 2 pm flight to Kansas City; wait in another line for 1 hour to get bag routed to Kansas City instead of St. Louis (even though that didn't actually happen!); 3 more hours waiting in the airport for my flight and FINALLY success!  Home sweet home just a mere 36 hours after my trip began.

Wow, that took longer to write than I expected.  What a friggin' nightmare end to my trip.  My memory is already fading of those miserable 36 hours.  I decide to only remember the good times from now on.....I guess if I ever want to recall that day and a half from hell I can read my own blog :)

All in all a great time.  Where to next????

Monday, October 31, 2011

Travel Bingo, Kosovo Style

When we were young, my mom had creative ways to keep me and my sisters busy.  We were always a fan of the road trip however short (Hamilton) or long (Florida) it may be.  There were no qualms about climbing into the ol' station wagon and setting off for an adventure.  When you live in a small town, even heading to "the city" for shopping or a movie or Worlds of Fun took the better part of the day.

But traveling with 3 young girls in the back seat might make you want to pull your hairs out one by one.  Between the bickering, the giggling, the incessant questioning, and the requests for frequent stops I'm sure it was a joy ride for all.  But I remember it very fondly.  We had lots of car games/activities including singing girl scout songs, picking a color and counting how many cars passed of that color, reading books, and the ol' standby: Travel Bingo.

Travel Bingo, for anyone that doesn't know, is a collection of cardboard square cards with 5 rows of 5 pictures in regular "BINGO" fashion.  The pictures were of items you might see during travel.  Each picture had a little red plastic window that would slide over it so when you saw it you closed the window.  Five red windows in a row or diagonal is BINGO.   I'm sure it's fancier today and somehow made into an electronic game, but really nothing beats good ol' bingo.

So here I am, half way across the world in Kosovo.  I'm visiting Allison who is quite the tour guide.  Poor girl gets made fun of for constantly reading her map and Kosovo tour book, but as a fellow frequent map user, I applaud her.  And I use the term map loosely because roads are built and torn out from day to day so not sure how a map can keep up.  But it has the general idea.

So we set out on our 48 hours of adventure in Kosovo.  Within the first few miles I knew Kosovo Bingo was the only way to go.  So for those of you that come to Kosovo in the future (of which I am so sure will be many of you), take along Kosovo Bingo.  And good luck to you!!

Here is my Bingo Card.  I was successful in that I obtained a Black Out meaning I witnessed each and every item on my card.

My Kosovo Bingo Squares:

  1. Every Bingo has a star in the middle known as the Free Space.  So here's a freebie that you can't miss, even when you try:  Giant holes in the road.  Not just potholes.  Ohhhh, no.  That would be too easy.  These holes are big enough for your car to fit in.  They are random.  There one day, gone the next.  Only occasionally identified by a small orange cone or possibly a small dumpster sat out to deter drivers.   Sometimes they make the entire road impassable when it was barely drivable in the first place.  Not sure what causes them or how they get fixed because I saw neither of these things occur during our 10 + hours of driving the countryside, but they happen.  So there's your freebie.  The rest you  have to work for.
  2. Sheep 
  3. Angry Shepard man yelling at us in Albanian because he is angry that we only speak English and Serbian.   Angry Shepard man must have scary looking dog.
  4. Novo Brdo- 12th Century Castle ruins.  
  5. Empty Red Bull can among the castle ruins
  6. Restaurant in the woods where angry wife refuses to make fresh bread for our dinner.  
  7. Ambassador to a foreign country
  8. Catholic Church Mass in tiny village where priest spends last 5 minutes of Mass calling out the important international figures in attendance for the day including "Alissa and her sister visiting from America!"  That's right, got a shout out in church!!
  9. Tiny girls with rotted teeth who want to hold our hands and can't take their eyes off of us.
  10. Miniature Golf and Paintball
  11. Giant (and I do mean GIANT) pile of hay stacked in the shape of a trapezoid
  12. Mini-tractors with never fewer than 2 people piled on, but more likely to have 3-4 people riding.  Bonus point if there is a man in a pin-striped suit riding the tractor.
  13. Photos, billboards, and statue of Bill Clinton
  14. Missouri license plate on random car
  15. Te Ariu (The Bear).  It's the Chuck E. Cheese of Kosovo.  A place to take your kids for dinner with "exotic" animals roaming about.  Includes caged bears.  
  16. Gracanicia Monastery- one of two remaining Monastery's that were not burned down in recent conflicts.  
  17. Seven year old girl drinking beer with what appears to be her father and brothers on a bench opposite the Monastery.  
  18. Water park complete with water slides that appear to be slightly rusted.
  19. Wine, wine, and more wine
  20. Furniture stores and appliance stores with no customers.  One can only assume the same couch has been on the display floor for the last 8 years.  Appliance stores have 3-4 stories of washing machines stacked up viewing pleasure.
  21. The most F-ed up Roundabouts known to mankind.  Absolutely no logic.  Streets that run parallel to each other for no purpose.  
  22. Buildings only half built
  23. Carnival ride- one of those that you sit on a swing and it spins and the swings go way up in the air.  If you think the traveling carnival that comes through your town looks scary you haven't see anything yet!
  24. Cows individually tethered to the ground and chickens wandering aimlessly
  25. Pollution.  In order for this to count you must be able to see, taste, smell, and feel the pollution deep in your lungs.  Found near Obiliq. 


So, the funny thing that I realized is that I can find almost every single one of these things in the good ol' USA.  Let's be honest......Missouri has become a big fan of the roundabout and isn't afraid of potholes.  We embrace them.  And children with rotted teeth?  Check.  Bill Clinton lovers?  We have many.  Livestock are aplenty in these here parts of the world too.  We aren't big on 12th century castles, but Red Bull we've got.  And I'm sad to say....there are 7 year old children allowed the occasional swig of Bud Light.  Not in my house necessarily, but it happens.  I've seen it happen.  I challenge you to see if you can achieve a black out Bingo here in America.  I think you might get close.

In addition to all of the wonderful sites, we had a fabulous time eating, drinking, and being merry!!  We had a delicious late lunch with awesome red wine and a creme brule for dessert.  YUM!  We had a cards night with Allison's work friends (YES,!).  Her friend has her house all decorated for Halloween.  I felt right at home!

So in my lifelong theme, I will simply attest that the happenings of Kosovo are not wrong.  They are just different than my norm.  Except this last little tidbit.  Whether truth or fiction, it made for a good giggle on our last night in the 'Vo.  The Tooth Fairy does exist in Kosovo.  But instead of hiding the tooth under the pillow, the family dog eats it.

Now that's just wrong!

On to London!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Five years ago today on the most beautiful October afternoon we got married.  The day was perfect.  I could not have asked for more.  The last five years have been amazing!!  I had a whole blog to write but I am in Paris today and there are angry French women waiting to use the computer. 

Jeremy, I love you more now than I did five years ago.  You are the most generous and loving husband a girl could ask for!! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dinner Time (emphasis on the TIME)

Wow!  It's been a whole month since I have posted.  My how time flies when you're.... boring.  Not that boring is bad or anything.  I'll take boring over some of the usual craziness just about any day.  

In the past month we have been working on getting the boys to eat a good dinner.  Less processed/quicky food and more meals.  I am a horrible and picky eater so combining that with busy evenings and Jeremy being at the firehouse every 3rd day our meals were really suffering.  I'm trying to get back to planning out a menu to keep us on track.  I'm doing a little bit better at it this month.

Tonight is a firehouse night so it's a left over night.  Dinner is less formal.  We will use the china tomorrow.  Oh wait, I don't have china.  Oh well.  Anyway, tonights menu is Egg McMuffins (not from McDonalds), grapes, pears, and cheese.  Fancy, I know.  Who's jealous?  I accidently bought a dozen eggs when I already had a dozen at home so it's all eggs all the time until we use some of them up.  To hell with cholesterol!

My boys are rather slow eaters which they get from their dear ol' mother.  I was always the last one done with dinner.  My sisters hated me for it.  They thought I was trying to avoid clean up.  They were wrong.  I just didn't like food.  Unless it was cake.  I like me some cake.  YUM.  Cake. 

Anywho.  My boys are also chatty.  During dinner.  Before dinner.  After dinner.  Pretty much every minute of every day.  Not sure who they get that from ;)  Chatty, chatty, chatty. 

Slow eaters and chatty.  So, basically dinner lasts 15 hours around here.  What follows is a list of tactics the boys have used tonight (yes all in one night) to avoid eating dinner.  I sat there and just took notes because finally I'm not the last one done eating in our house.  Pat myself on the back.
  • Can I be done?  (this is asked by Leo by about the 3rd bite and continues throughout every meal until he is actually done)
  • Can I play on the swingset?
  • I need to go pee-pee
  • My belly hurts I don't think I can eat.
  • UGHHHHHHHHHHH (angry grunt when told repeatedly to finish dinner)
  • Do I have to eat everything? (Yup).  Like even the rest of the egg? (Yup,  all of it).  How about the bread part?  (yup, everything).  Even the rest of my pears? (yes, EVERYTHING).  OK then.  I was just asking!!!!
  • I'm so tired I don't think I can finish eating
  • I want some more grapes
  • after being told repeatedly to STOP TALKING AND EAT! Leo tried whispering to Justin as if I'm not sitting right beside him.  "Jushtin"  (Leo, stop talking)  Quiter this time "Jushtin"  (Leo, I'm sitting right here. I can hear you talking).  And again "Jushtin"  Really, Leo? 
  • I really, really, really love you.  I really wish I could be done.
  • Maybe if you let us eat on our TV trays in the living room we can eat good and be done so we'll have time for a movie
  • I wish I could have more drink
  • I need to go poo-poo
  • various levels of crying and whining
  • various levels of sillyness and giggle fits
  • this is so weird
  • Looooook mom.  I'm taking a big bite!!!!  NOW can I be done?  (no, you have to eat all of it)  Ohhhhhh, that makes me SO MAD!  (well, it's ok to be mad but you still have to finish your dinner)
  • Now can I be done?
  • more uncontrollable laughing
so eventually dinner was done.  Only a few scraps left on the plate so not a bad showing.  Off to bed they go and just as I sit down to write this Justin comes creeping out of his bed and says "I just wanted to tell you that you were right about dinner becuase I was being bad at dinner."  And just when I thought he was being really sweet he asked to sit downstairs for a few mintues so really he was just being nice to butter me up and get to stay up later.  I'm on to your game, buddy!  Nighty nighty! 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Hero Today

Two big events today.  One certainly way more important than the other.  The 10th anniversary of 9/11 and Opening Day of the regular season for the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.  We knew there was a big ceremony planned before the game started to commemorate the anniversary of that horrible day ten years ago.  All of the fans had been asked to get in their seats by 11:40 am for the pre-game ceremonies that would honor the fireman, police officers, port authority officers and all other lives lost.

Jeremy has been asked to participate in the ceremony on the field.  Numerous firefighters from around the KC metro area were gathered together to present a HUGE flag on the field before the game.  Jeremy decided to turn down that opportunity, but one of his co-workers was on the field today.  When all of the firemen came out on the field around 11:30 everyone in the stadium stood and applauded.  Shouts of USA, USA!!! were heard all over the stadium.  Very, very moving. 

At about 11:50 the pre-game events were underway.  We watched as the firefighters unraveled the flag that covered the entire field.  Buffalo Bills players and firefighters held it on one side.  KC Chiefs and other firefighters held it on the other sideline.  It gave me the chills!! Jeremy took a few pictures on his phone including the one attached. 

Just as we were preparing to listen to the playing of Taps and then the National Anthem, the man sitting in front of us noticed that the older gentleman two rows in front of us was not standing and joining in the celebrations and cheers.  Upon closer look, it seemed that he wasn't breathing.  I immediately told Jeremy who jumped into action.  In a flash he was down the two rows and assessing the man for signs of life.  He was able to determine that he was still breathing but was unconscious.  Jeremy yelled for someone to call for EMS just as the man's wife came down the aisle.

He asked a few people close by to help him lift the guy and carry him about 8 rows to the concourse to further assist him.  The first professional staff to show up on scene were firefighters but not paramedics so Jeremy continued to be the main paramedic in charge of the scene until other EMS staff arrived.  He stayed with the family to take and report pertinent information to the medics that would then transport him to the hospital.  He also calmed the wife enough to convince her to drive to the hospital so that her car wouldn't be left in the stadium and later towed. 

All of this occurred while the rest of the stadium was watching the emotional rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and seeing the fighter jets fly overhead.  So at a time when the entire stadium and everyone watching on TV was paying tribute not just to our nation but a special tribute to the first responders on 9/11, my husband was being a hero and saving this man's life just like he does every day on duty.  Thankfully he was not on the field today holding a piece of the flag because his services were needed elsewhere.  Divine intervention.

Honey, I am SO very, very proud of you!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Target trip from hell

I often have people tell me they wish I would blog more often.  I would love to but really I only blog when the situation presents itself as a blog-worthy event.  I know everyone has funny and fun things happening every day but about once a week or once every other week I have an experience or a series of experiences that are so freaking funny the only thing TO do is blog about them.  I don't make it up.  I don't encourage it or coach it along.  I just sit back and watch it happen to me/around me/because of me.  I tell it like it is.  And what it is tonight is hilarious.  I could have prevented some of it if I had my mind right (like my father-in-law tells the boys) or get my brain back (like our daycare provider tells the boys). I did neither of these things.  I was on a mission.  I couldn't be stopped.  But it wasn't pretty.  So here's my story....

My goal was to purchase some fun kid gifts for a few underprivileged boys....which I am doing on behalf of someone else so I don't want to take the credit for all of this :)  This task is right up my ally because a) I have two young boys so it's super easy to find something they will like and b) I am a shopaholic.  I'm the right girl for the mission.

I picked the boys up from daycare and before we left we took a quick potty break before we headed to the store.  Leo peed onto his undies and shorts by peeing under the lid but above the straight through that tiny slot right onto his clothes.  I always ask myself later why I didn't see this disastrous night coming right then and there.  I wiped him off as best as possible with the intention to run home and change his clothes before our shopping trip.  In the time it took me to get to the car and 10 houses down the street to our house I forgot.  Thus  he wore shorts with a pee spot on them the rest of the night.  Every day I see my chances for Mother of the Year slip farther and farther away. 

So to Target we go.  My plan was to buy a few electronic game type things and a few accessories and get out of there.  I know exactly where they are so it should.....SHOULD being the key word.....have been a quick and easy in and out.  It SO WAS NOT!!!

I warned the boys ahead of time that we are buying gifts for kids that don't have toys.  We have lots, they have none or very few, etc, etc.  We are NOT buying toys for us, but we will buy one treat/candy at the register if they are good.  And they were pretty good.  We were able to get all but one of the items at the Target and learned that the other item we needed was at another Target nearby.  Totally doable.  (Totally NOT!). 

We made it all the way to the register without incident.  We actually successfully picked out fun toys for someone other than ourselves without incident.  Big ol' pat on the back!  So they were rewarded with treats.  Fruit snacks for Leo.  Chocolate for Justin.  The kid has never actually had a real full sized candy bar so he was transfixed by the Twix we chose.  Aside from the melted chocolate on his fingers Justin was an absolute angle the whole time!  Couldn't have been more proud of him throughout the next disastrous hour. 

Leo.  Um, not so much.  I let him have about 10 of the fruit snacks and then figured we should stop lest we ruin his dinner.  We are in the check out line.  In fact the girl has already scanned both treats so they could eat them.  Enter:  TOTAL FREAK OUT.  This kid just freaked out.  Bawling and begging for the rest of the fruit snacks.  Let me see if I can paint this picture for you: 

After a day full of daycare and playing outside Leo is filthy. His hands and face are grimy and the tears are just making big dirt stained tears down his face.  He put on bright red Lightening McQueen socks last night before bed and insisted on wearing them to daycare today with his white and blue tennis shoes.  I had a yellow shirt already picked out for him.  So the poor kid is looking a little mismatched as it is and the big fat freak out isn't helping matters. 

So I'm trying to pay.  I was trying to open up a Target debit card for my 5% discount since I was making kind of a large purchase so I'm going through the prompts on the credit card keypad.  For whatever reason, karma probably, it doesn't like me.  When the clerk tries to process the application it gives an error message.  Reflecting back, if I am turned down for a DEBIT card that debits directly from my checking account then it probably means I shouldn't be spending money anyway.  It's like it was in cahoots with my husband to prevent me from spending money....but this wasn't my money anyway.  Remember, I was purchasing these items on behalf of someone else. 

Anywho, the cashier keeps pushing the enter button like 20 times and eventually the whole register shuts down and gives this scary looking error message.  Meanwhile Leo is SCREAMING!  Yup,  this whole time.  So we head to another register to try it again.  Same thing happens.  A different cashier/manager person tries to get it to work with no luck.  By this time I have entered my info on the little key pad about 5 times and it won't work.  Leo continues to cry most of the time alternated with rolling around on the dirty target floor.  Super.  Justin is being ridiculously helpful by trying to distract Leo by playing "we are on a mission" and crawling in and out of the bottom of our cart.  He was thoroughly impressed with himself each time he ended up on the other side of the cart.  Knock yourself out kid!  More crying from Leo. 

I finally just asked Target to give me my 5% discount anyway and let me pay with my own card so I can just get the hell out of there.  Remember I still needed to go to the other Target nearby and purchase the one item they didn't have at this store.  Again, I didn't have my mind right because I thought I could just run in there and do it quickly despite the chaos continuing around me.  So finally they get the stupid card thing to work.  The boys are rewarded for their "patience" with a Target sticker which Leo tries to eat.  I get it.  We haven't had dinner yet, but it's not like he is six months old and puts toys in his mouth!  What the hell is wrong with him?  I know, I know.  It's me.  I needed to just stop what I was doing and feed them dinner.  Hungry boys = cranky boys. 

After almost 25 minutes at the register we are out the door.  Leo asks for fruit snacks again which are denied simply on the principle of it at this point although I know he is hungry.  I can't give into him now after he just screamed in Target for 25 minutes.  (reflection...I should have purchased some other snacks while I stood there in line but I'm just not that smart!)  He asks for gum in the car, he gets it and all is well.  Crying and fits have ceased.  I think we can make our 2nd Target stop.

Silly, silly girl I am.

We hit Target #2 over by Metro North Mall.  As soon as I get the boys out of the car and into the parking lot Leo shouts out of nowhere "MY PEE PEE HURTS!!!" and immediately grabs himself and pushes it down.  What????  Are you kidding me?  So my first thought is that I just don't understand how a 2 year old gets an erection in the Target parking lot (because that's why his pee pee was hurting).  I just don't get it.  I will  never understand how a body part just moves independently of its owner.  My second thought was that this dang 2 year old is getting a hard on by making my life miserable!!!!  I realize that is an inappropriate thought but it is the reality of what I thought.  Some of you are laughing because you've been there.  Others of you have gasped or rolled your eyes at me or if you are like my mother you have pursed your lips together and you are shaking your head.  Whatever.  I stand by my thought that Leo was getting some sort of pleasure in torturing me tonight.  I repeat:  I just don't get it.

We make our way inside and because I am a stupid broad (as someone called me....and my staff... at work today) I forgo the shopping cart.  I  need one thing and one thing only.  I know where it is and I want in and out.  Why, oh why did I not learn my lesson in the first Target?

As we run, well I walked and they ran, towards the toy aisle Leo shouts out that his big toe hurts.  What now?  Are you freaking kidding me? He starts a dramatic limp down the aisle begging me to pick him up.  Why did I not get a cart.  WHHHHYYYYYYYY???????

So I pick up the child and lug him around.  I get the little gadget that I need and head for the front of the store.  Halfway there I realize this particular gadget can only be charged by plugging it into the USB port of a computer....which this underprivileged family DOES NOT HAVE!  I have wasted my trip.  I could have purchased everything at the first Target.  I could just kick myself.  We go back to the toy section (lugging Leo due to new toe injury likely caused by tennis shoes that are too small from last year that he insisted on wearing today) and get a different that WAS available at the first Target. 

Then back to the register.  Something about the register setting reminds Leo he should be throwing a fit.  The crying and flopping on the floor commences again.  We pay quickly this time, thankfully, and we head out the door. 

As we get in the car Leo says "Hey, I stopped crying now mom.  I am ready for my special treat."  Sure.  Here's a bag of fruit snacks.  Eat your heart out.  I'm spent.  And thanks for saving the good behavior for the privacy of our car.  I would hate for anyone to think I have any control over anything outside of my own car or home. 

We make the trip home, cram in some dinner and a quick Batman cartoon and prepare for bed.  I am exhausted and haven't eaten dinner myself at this point so I'm not really a happy camper.  Justin's response to my crankiness:  Mom, maybe if you are cranky you should try to go to bed early. 

Yeah, I'll get right on that.  Thanks, buddy. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Whose your Baby Mommy?

We are big fans of make believe in this house right now.  With a 4 year old and a 2 year old pretty much everything revolves around make believe.  From the good ol' days when Pooties was everyone's favorite imaginary friend to Justin's recent "date" with Batgirl to Leo's fake machine gun noises while his Batman toy attacks Darth Vader we are sporting some huge imaginations around this house. 

For example, Leo insists on being Batdog most evenings complete with growling/barking in place of talking, licking in place of good night kisses, and of course remaining on all fours at all times.  This can make the bedtime routine a little challenging.  He was pretty much Batdog for the last 45 minutes of the night tonight.  He only breaks character to remind me that he is a dog.  "No, mom say 'brush your teeth DOGGIE" whenever I mistakenly ask Leo to do something. "Go potty, doggie."  "Do you want to rock-a-bye, Doggie?" "Say goodnight Doggie."  He even barked at me as I shut his door tonight.

One of their other favorite games right now is to play Baby Justin and Baby Leo.  It's just what it sounds like.  They are baby crazy right now so they want to pretend one of them is a baby.  They want me to hold one of them and cradle him in my arms while the other one lovingly coos and baby talks to his "baby" brother.  They whimper and cry like a baby and drink fake bottles, etc, etc.  Usually this happens right after bath time so they can be swaddled in a bath towel.  They really have a rough life, huh?

And because I am still trying to get back in the running for Mother of Year (after Justin's use of the words freaking and shit all in one weekend), I play along with everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  I pretend the scribbles are in fact a well drawn spaceship and I knew that all along.  I play with cars, trucks, and numerous transformer/batman/scooby figurines although my car engine noises and my transformer conversations leave something to be desired.  I listen to the stories and give proper oohh's and ahhhh's and scary or surprised faces all on cue.  I dance at the dance parties.  I applaud all of the Lego configurations.  I allow Wrestlemania just about every night and go along with the entire song and dance (sometimes literally) that goes with each wrestling match while silently praying that no one breaks and arm or cracks their head open!

But heaven forbid I be allowed to get in on the whole act.  Tonight I was all cuddled up on Jeremy's lap taking a brief rest before starting dinner.  Justin had to come poke his nose in our peaceful moment and wanted to know what we were doing.  So Jeremy tries to play out one of their favorite games and starts pretending like I am Baby Mommy.  Not, mind you, Baby Mama....although I guess I am that too if you think about it.  So Jeremy starts using the baby voice and cooing in my face.  He is rocking me in his arms as if I'm a baby.  I'm all cuddled up and making little cooing sounds back at him. 

And what do I get for my efforts at make believe?  Justin just looks at us and says "Stop it, Mom.  That's just being ridiculous."  Well, alrighty then.  Baby Mommy got shut down!  Do you think he would like it the next time he "draws" me a picture and I just say "Geez Justin that's just a big pile of scribbles!" Or when he hands me a dandelion should I say "are you freaking kidding me?  that's a weed! get it out of my face."  But no, I am a mother.  So I oblige him by stopping the "ridiculous" Baby Mommy game and get back to the reality of a Thursday evening.  It's ok.  I went into this job willingly and I wouldn't change it for the world!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bedtime Story

Justin's bedtime story tonight:

Once upon a time long, long ago but not too, too long ago there was a neat forest.  AND, there was a girl named Goldilocks and her friend Little Red Riding Hood.  And of course they were with Bugs Bunny.  And they were walking.  And there was a witch (insert scary shiver and crazy eyes).  And the witch had a house.  And they threw a boy in the house.  Then they threw the witch in the house too.  And she was in some goo.


I hope you can all sleep better tonight now that you have had your bedtime story.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I lived to tell about it, and so I will.

I have been reading 90 Minutes in Heaven which is a true story about a man who died in a car accident in the late 1980's and was dead for 90 minutes before coming back to life.  He was brought back to life by the power of prayer and the grace of God.  If you don't believe it is true or possible, I encourage you to read the book. 

As you may know, I had my own experience with heaven and dying a little over twelve years ago (  I was dead for just under one minute and my experience with heaven was brief but wonderful beyond words.  God wasn't ready to keep me yet, but I am forever grateful of the glimpse of what is to come.
It is comforting to me to read the book for several reasons.  First, Don Piper's experience in heaven was much longer than mine and therefore much more detailed and extensive.  I can only think of how lucky he was to have seen more. 

I also have a good friend who had a similar experience.  Several months before I wrote the blog about my heavenly experience, I randomly mentioned it to a friend of mine who then told me that she, too, had died and experienced heaven several years ago.  I hadn't mentioned my experience to anyone in quite some time.  She had stopped telling anyone about it because the response she received was less than supportive.  But somehow and for some reason she and I shared our stories with each other out of the blue.  She recently had a close family member pass away.  I know now that God opened up our discussion to reinforce to her that heaven is real and hopefully help her work through this difficult time in her life.

It just makes me wonder how many people are experiencing the joys of heaven, even though temporary, but shy away from sharing their story in fear of rejection and ridicule.  And wasn't I kind of one of them?  I never doubted my own experience, but I was so prepared for others to doubt it that it was easier to keep to myself.  I don't know why I write "was so prepared" when really I remain in that place.  I continue to be prepared to defend my experience instead of just letting it be.  Letting it speak for itself.  Those who want to hear it will listen.  If I'm lucky, those that don't want to hear it might listen and it might make a difference. 

I didn't mention it to anyone for several months after my experience.  Then I started feeling out a few friends to see how the information would be received.  Again, very similar to Don Piper's experience in the book.  Like Don, the more people I told the more I realized people were very open to the information.  Then in about 2001 or maybe 2002 I was speaking at an America Heart Association event which I often did in those first few years after my heart surgery.  I am guessing there were a couple hundred people in the room.  My typical speech was one of "it could happen to anyone" sort of theme.  I was a seemingly healthy and active young adult who experienced a serious cardiac event that almost took my life.  But as I spoke I kind of drifted off my usual speech and found myself telling this large group about my experience in heaven.  I know now that it was God's hand pushing me to share the joys of heaven with this group.  Afterwards I was sort of self-conscious that I had branched out from the topic at hand and perhaps the organizers of the event wouldn't be pleased.  After all, it was not a religious gathering.  It was a fund raising event. I was pleasantly surprised to be approached by many people after the event thanking me for sharing my experience. 

So like a small child, with that positive reinforcement I began to repeat my behaviors.  I started telling a few more people, and then a few more.  I was living in Alabama at the time and people don't shy away from religion down there.  They embrace it.  It was easy to start sharing.  But I was still sharing in comfortable settings.  I was sharing in places or situations where I knew the information would be well received.  Even telling this story via my blog is a relatively safe way (emotionally) to share it.
As I read Don's book I felt like I was reading my own story.  I could relate to so much of what he experienced.  His recovery was WAY more difficult than mine in a physical sense.  He was in the hospital for months and has undergone dozens of surgeries.  But somewhere in the midst of his recovery he began to understand that God left him in this life for a reason and a purpose.  That purpose is to share the experience.  I am encouraged to do the same.  Reading his book has brought me to a renewed sense of peace and understanding about my experience with death and heaven.

I lived to tell about it.  There are not a lot of people that can say that.  I lived to tell about it.  And I will. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Real Househusband of Kansas City

We've all been there.  A little birthday celebration after a long week.  A few too many cocktails.  And then the truth comes out.   Sometimes the truth hurts.  And sometimes it's just the truth. 

In my case, I spent the better part of the 40 minute car ride home last Saturday night explaining to Jeremy how our house needs to be cleaner.  Or is it more clean?  I'm going with cleaner.  While I don't necessarily recall the conversation, per se, his recollection is that I had a bit of a rant about the dirty windows and baseboards in our home.  The truth hurts.

What is also true is that I am fortunate enough to be married to a man that not only actually listened to my drunken tirade while driving my drunk ass home, but took it to heart and went on a cleaning spree this week.  What can I say?  The man likes to clean.  (Thank you, Eva)  He takes pride in his work.  (Thank you, Kevin)

He called me three times at work on Monday to describe the specialized cleaning products that he purchased and advise me of his progress.  The minute I got off of work he called to tell me how clean the kitchen floor was and proceeded to tell me about it all the way home.  Once I arrived home he was like a child on Christmas morning.  He could barely contain himself as I walked up the stairs to see his handy work. 

That evening I actually heard him talking to himself as he reviewed his work:  "It's a good start, Jeremy.  A good start." 

Jealous yet?  It gets better.

On Tuesday, he spent all day steam cleaning our carpets.  He moved every single piece of furniture in our living room, dining room, hallway, and bedroom for a deep cleaning.  The house smelled AWESOME when I got home.

The more I think about it, I think we could slap some high heels on him, give him a boob job and some lip implants and he's got his own show: Real Househusband of Kansas City!  It would require some serious electrolysis but I think we could make it work. 

Anyway, I have decided I should get drunk and go on rants more often.  Or maybe I should just repay the favor and start on the windows......or I could do all 3.  Get drunk and go on a rant WHILE cleaning the windows.  Yup, that's my plan. 

(Bonus photo of Jeremy vacuuming with Leo in the baby sling.....which is why Leo has always called it "daddy's vacuum")   

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Blog Worthy Birthday

I'm not one to draw a lot of attention to my birthday, but today is worth recording here for a variety of reasons. 

It really started last night when we celebrated my birthday with dinner, present, and cake (YUM) because Jeremy had to work today.  Present was awesome!!  Dinner and drinks were yummy despite our waitress' listening difficulties and lack of follow through in the blue cheese department.  The cake was fabulous.  Red velvet with chocolate creme.  Did I already say YUM?  I was able to scarf it down despite Jeremy's claims that he can't "fit like a million candles on here so I just put 4."  Gee, thanks honey. 

Early to bed with a plan of early to rise.  Jeremy was up and out by 5:30 and we were fortunate enough today to not have issues with Saydie, our recently bowel and bladder challenged miniature pincher.....earlier this week Justin came up stairs carrying a piece of poop from the hallway.  Well good morning! 

So, thus far the birthday was going well.  It was only 5:30 am.  I had really, really, really good intentions of getting up and working out.  I figure I'm 34 and I probably ought to start developing a real game plan against flab.  But I didn't.  I went back to sleep.

At 6:15 am Leo came running up the stairs proclaiming in one run-on sentence after another "Thorry, Mom I peed my pants that's otay I need to wake up and tell you I need to go pee-pee thorry mom it's otay."  I always appreciate the efficiency of my 2 year old who can hold both sides of our conversation himself by reporting the accident, comforting himself, reminding himself of how to improve next time, and then comforting himself again. 

Fortunately he wasn't soaked so we headed to the bathroom where he INSISTED that I feel his underwear to prove he had peed in his underwear.  "Check it, mom.  CHECK IT!"  SUPER.  It's 6:15 on my birthday and I would just love to touch your urine soaked undies, Leo.  But of course I oblige his request, confirm the accident, hear a repeat of the "thorry mom, it's otay......" and off we go to the other bathroom to wash up, get clothes and strip the bed.

In my half-sleep half-hurried state I rip the sheets off and the corner of the mattress pad that is already torn gets stuck under the bed.  As I obliviously continue to pull it off the bed, I pretty much just rip it all along the whole seam thus rendering it completely unusable.  Good, I definitely wanted to buy a new mattress pad today. 

Justin wakes up during this process and we take a family trip to the basement to start laundry.  Oh what?  What is this?  I am out of laundry detergent.  That's about right.  Fortunately it's home made so I just have to scoop some out, funnel it into the jug, add some water, shake, and I'm back on track.  I feel obligated to fold the laundry in the dryer so finish up that quick chore and head upstairs.  The boys are requesting (I'll call it that) a movie so I grab "Griffin" which is a Scooby Doo about a large pterodactyl type thing that's named Griffin.  It's Leo's go-to movie.  Oh what now?  It doesn't work.  It won't play.  So I tried Toy Story 3.  Nope, won't work either.  So now our DVD player is broke since last night???  SUPER.

Thank goodness for DVR.  We head to the living room, find a recorded Batman and I head for the shower.  It's now 6:30 am.

Before I hop in the shower I decide to quickly weigh myself to reinforce that, in fact, I really should have gotten up early and exercised.  My scale shows and error message.  Seriously?  It refused to weigh me.  That's gotta be a sign.  I hear ya, Mr. Scale.  Reading your message loud and clear.  I'm pickin' up what you're puttin' down.  I could feel its silent judgement for my lack of willpower.  Screw the scale.  I never liked the damn things anyway. 

I start my shower by grabbing the conditioner instead of the shampoo.  Really? At this point I start to get the giggles and I start making a mental tally of these things for what I now know is going to be a very blog-worthy day.   I figure it best not to push my luck at this point so I skip shaving my legs.  I want to live to see 35. 

Morning progresses.  I get my teeth brushed without incident, but when it comes time for make-up I hit another small snag.  I pull out my $3 clearance eye shadow pallet with about 40 colors and decide on light pink.  For some reason half-way though my mind wanders and I switch to a dark blue.  By the time I come to my senses my eyes are semi-striped in pink and blue and I'm sporting a bad 14 year old's make-up look.  I repeat the eye-makeup application and finished the morning without further incident. 

Work was work.  I was greeted with about 10 mini-balloons on my desk (thank you, Mary).  We had a meeting to review our compliance with federal and state mandates which we passed with flying colors.  Thanks for the vote of confidence, Cari.....not that a lack of confidence has ever really been a problem for me! I desperately wish I could blog about work, but HIPAA and the feds generally frown upon me sharing that info.  Party-poopers, that's what I always say. 

I really, really, really wanted to leave early for some "me time" but alas it was not to be.  On the upside, I won $15 on the random lottery ticket I purchased this morning while getting gas and I got a call from my world traveling (and living!) baby sis which really brightened me up in the mid-afternoon.  My super wonderful staff also got me an ice-cream cake which made the last hour or so of the day bearable!  Thanks girls! 

And by the way, did I mention it's freaking hot out today?  I mean, I don't find it to be unusually hot.  It's hot every single year on my birthday.  It is the end of July after all.  Every day the weatherman has to go on and on about the record breaking heat.  If we are breaking a record every single day shouldn't it be like 256 degrees by now?  What record are we breaking exactly?  That it's 100 degrees on a Thursday on an odd numbered year in the middle of a moon cycle? It's freaking July!  It's hot.  Just call it what it is.  Oh.....I have  digressed unusually far and for that I apologize.  It's been a long day.

I will simply wrap up the birthday story with 3 short events:

1. as we left the house tonight for Bitty Basketball my garage door broke (oops, I forgot to tell you that honey.  It's on your to-do list tomorrow along with buying a matress pad and fixing the DVD player).  I thought it was going to come crashing down on us because it made this huge noise.  So what did I do?  I yelled "Oh shit!"  And what happened?  I think you know.  Justin says "Oh shit."  I'm going to come in last or second to last in this year's Mother of the Year contest!  I'm fairly certain I can beat out the mom I met today at work.  She was special to say the least.
2.  I got a nice surprise by seeing an old friend at the Y tonight during basketball.  Brought a smile to my did the Bitty Basketball events which tonight included two boys (thankfully neither were mine) kissing under the basketball goal during the game.
3.  For the last 30 minute of their night, the boys pretended to be Batdogs.  All communication was via dramatic panting and head nodding with the occasional break in character to ask for treats.  Some things never change.

And with that, I believe I will end my birthday at just a little after 9 pm.  Good night folks. I'm sure 34 will bring many, many blog-worthy events!