Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Tale of Three Trees and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

The following is an old fable, and it has been written into a picture book that my kids love. It is brief; I will type it out here. I feel it appropriate on Christmas eve.

The Tale of Three Trees

A traditional folktale
retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.

The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. "I want to hold treasure," he said. "I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. "I want to be a strong sailing ship," he said. " I want to travel mighty waters and carry powerful kings. I will be the strongest ship in the world!"

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and busy women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave this mountaintop at all," she said. "I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world!"

Years passed. The rains came, the sun sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.

The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest," thought the first tree. " I shall hold wonderful treasure."

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is prefect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters," thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship fit for kings!"

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me," he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought him to a carpenter's shop, but the busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. Instead his work-worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once- beautiful tree was not covered with gold or filled with treasure. He was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead the once-strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. Too small and too weak to sail and ocean or even a river, he was taken to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into stron beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" the once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and point to God."

Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. "This manger in beautiful," she said. And suddenly, the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening, a tired traveller and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveller fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. He knew he didn not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly, the second tree knew he was carrying the King of heaven and earth.
One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.

But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. It had made the first tree beautiful. It had made the second tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.

That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

May we all remember that it is the love of the Savior that makes us all so valuable and precious. As we celebrate His birth, may our hearts grow closer to him and our families. We wish you all a very

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!
and before anyone judges the tree- remember we have 4 small children- two of whom are 2!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Calling Update!!

So, my freedom lasted barely a week. I posted last Sunday about being released from serving with the Young Women. Today, I received my new calling. I am a Relief Society teacher. The Relief Society is the organization for all adult women in the church. There is a strong focus on service and bringing each other unto Christ. We have a weekly gospel lesson. I will be teaching that lesson once a month. I am excited about it, but nervous. I have never taught adults before- kids are much easier! But, it is exciting and new and definitely less time and stress involved. Wish me luck!!!

And, read on for an icky, sad story.....

R.I.P. "Little Miss"

"Little Miss"
June 1st "ish", 2007-December 21, 2008
(this isn't really her, but she looked pretty much like this)

Today was a sad day for the kids. Their mother officially failed yet another innocent, annoying little hamster. Little Miss died this morning a sad and tragic death. I am sure she is in hamster heaven arranging for me to rot in hamster h-e-double hockey sticks for not protecting her. To totally explain the story, we need to go back in time to August 2007.

When Kenny was in Kindergarten, he made friends with a particular boy. In August of 2007, before first grade started, we had a play date with this friend. His mother tells me the story of how they went to a pet store to get two hamsters for their kids as pets. They were assured both hamsters were boys. Well, unless God granted a miracle, it was a boy and a girl as baby hamsters soon arrived and they were left wondering what to do with all these hamsters. She offered one to me. At first, being smart, I said no- we already had 4 kids, a dog and two cats- not a good idea. But, she also offered to throw in a free cage, a whole bag of food and some bedding. I still wasn't in love with the idea, but I knew the kids would love it and I always had hamsters growing up, and I was getting everything free so we would try it. So, we got the hamster and soon named him "Cookie" because he looked (also much like the hamster above) like an ice cream cookie sandwich. The kids loved him! I didn't love cleaning the cage but the kids were happy. One fateful day that same fall (Kenny was at school, Jacob at home not yet in Kindergarten), I was cleaning the cage. Before, when I cleaned the cage, I would clean it in the kitchen with the hamster in the sink beside me. Well, this wasn't working anymore because Cookie could stretch over the sink and climb out. So, this day, I put Cookie in the bath tub and closed the door to the bathroom, while I cleaned the cage in the kitchen. I did not hear Jacob open and NOT close the door. All I knew next, is that I walked into the living room to get something and there is a wet mass on the floor. It was a broken Cookie- and my dog standing over him. He was still breathing, but barely. I took him into the kitchen, frantically wondering what to do with the broken hamster that was clearly not going to survive. He died then. The kids were broken-hearted and I felt awful for failing to protect him. Every smart part of myself, as well as other people said we should not get another hamster. But, the kids were so sad and I felt like it was my fault. The stupid part of me, and some people, said I should get another since the kids wanted one and it wasn't their fault.

So, I call the mother who gave the hamster. Can you imagine making that call? "We killed the one you gave us, do you have another?" She did and was happy to get rid of another one. Against my will, the kids named her "Little Miss." I hated the name, but it stuck. I did something smart though- I bought a small plastic carrying cage for when I cleaned her cage- I would put her in the small plastic one right next to me on the counter so she would be safe- problem solved. Things went well enough, Kenny has been old enough lately to help clean the cage and they enjoyed playing with her sometimes. I wasn't so fond of her, but I figured her life span is short anyway. She did escape a couple times by a cage door left open, or a piece of her cage breaking, but we luckily found her each time before the dog did.

Well, I woke up at about 1:15 am this morning to a strange noise and my dog very excited about something in the hallway. This isn't like her- she is normally passed out on the floor next to our bed. I somehow just knew. I felt sick to my stomach as I jumped out of bed saying "oh no...." I go into the hall and turn on the light and find a dead hamster on the floor. Oh no.....not again... what was I thinking?!?!?! How did she get out?!?! I woke Aaron up- wasn't dealing with THAT alone- and he disposed of her. (Cookie got a funeral and a grave, but it is just too darn cold, for one among other reasons....) I checked out the cage and saw an area of the cage that failed.

It took a very long time to go back to sleep as I thought about how in the world to tell the kids, what was I thinking getting another hamster- it is once again my fault this thing died.

I am guilty of yet another thing as well- I lied to my kids. I just couldn't tell them the dog did it again for fear of them taking it out on the dog. I told them that the cage broke (true), she climbed out and fell (true) and was just hurt to bad from the fall (lie....) and daddy already put her with Cookie (not totally true, but not a lie- they are in hamster heaven together right?)

So anyway, this turned out much longer than intended. I learned my lesson- which I should have learned before. I did learn it before, but let my kids and my guilt talk me into the second hamster. Absolutely no more hamsters!!! Probably never again (they are stinky and annoying anyway), but definitely not while we have other animals in the house. I swear I once had a brain- then I had kids..... Oh well. The kids are handling it fine. They cried for a few minutes but then were easily distracted when I told them our fun plans for FHE tomorrow!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mixed Emotions

Three and a half years ago, I knew this day would come- though I had no idea it would be 3 1/2 years- I figured shorter. I also figured when this day came, I would jump for joy. I didn't know I would be torn between that emotion and sadness and reluctance. So, what am I talking about? Yesterday, I was released from serving with the Young Women at church. A truly bittersweet day.

A quick explanation for readers not of my faith (for those who are, feel free to skip to the next paragraph...) Our church members do all the work- no one is paid, not even our bishop- as volunteers. We are asked by the leadership to serve- we are given "callings". We believe that the leadership prayerfully considers who should fill each roll and that they are inspired as to who to "call" to a certain position. When they feel they know who it should be, we are asked to fulfill the calling. We always have a right to say no, but we generally accept because we believe that serving in different areas, even in one we never expected or wanted to, gives us opportunities to learn and grow in different experiences. We believe that the leaders are inspired, so there must be a reason the Lord wants us to serve in that capacity.

So, when I was called to the Young Women (girls age 12-18) I was terrified because I had no experience with teenagers and was honestly kind of afraid of them. I was more tempted to say no then I ever had been before. But, I also learned who the other adult leaders would be, and they were my friends, and I knew there had to be a reason why I was being asked, so I accepted. The first presidency meeting I went to with my fellow leaders did not go well for me. I am not even sure they know this. When I had that first meeting with Katie, Kelly and Tiffany, I felt so overwhelmed and inadequate. They all discussed different ideas while I sat there feeling lost, like I had nothing to offer. My two (at the time...) young children were acting up so I could barely concentrate as it was. I left that meeting and cried the whole way home. But, they were patient with me and I prayed a lot and managed to grow and learn the calling just as Heavenly Father promised I would. The women I have served with in this calling (Katie, Kelly, Tiffany, Mary, Beth, Bylle, Autumn, Suzanne, Ashley, Andrea, and Alysha) have become dear friends- and I may not have gotten to know them as well, if not for working with them.

I feel like my best teachers were the Young Women themselves. I learned so much about them and their needs and their challenges. They really have so much to deal with, but are such amazing girls. I never imagined how deeply I would come to love them, worry about them and pray for them. The calling is challenging time wise- Sunday lessons, weekly activities, camp, and other activities that take the leaders away from home. But, I often looked forward to the activities we did together.

However, there comes a time with any calling where it must end. Most callings last a couple years- sometimes more, sometimes less. Then we are released and called elsewhere, giving someone else a turn to serve there and you a chance to serve somewhere else. On one hand, I was tired and burnt out and ready to move on. But, I had also become used to the calling and the girls and there was comfort in it. I knew I would be released soon anyway because it had been so long. But, Aaron's school schedule changes next quarter to where he will have class the same night as the Young Women activity nights so I can't be there. The girls need someone who can be there.

I was truly sad to say "good-bye" to the girls. What I really honestly don't understand is that they were sad to see me go too- even the ones who I didn't think cared as much for me. I really feel that I got more from serving with them then they did from me. I really don't know what I gave them other than love, my time, and I did my best, though I can't help but feel it wasn't enough. I will certainly always remember them. I can't wait to see the women they will be someday because they will be amazing! I am so grateful I rose above my fears and accepted the call. It has been an amazing, crazy, fun, stressful, sometimes aggravating, spiritually uplifting ride.

I am still awaiting what my next calling will be. I don't yet know. For now, I am enjoying the peace of no responsibility for the week or so until I am called to the next position. I know it won't be long. And really, even though the peace and quiet is nice, I wouldn't want it to last too long. I like being involved, serving and contributing. I am definitely a person who needs to feel needed. I will update when I know what is coming! Any guesses?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fantastic Fitness Friday Report 4

Actually, it has not been so fantastic lately, but I am playing with new names for the weekly post. Though, it has been two weeks since I updated. Last Friday got a little crazy and just slipped away, as it almost did today.

As for last weeks report- I managed to maintain due to one "saving grace" if one would ever actually call it that..... the stomach flu struck and I didn't eat for 3 days. Not a fun diet plan- I don't recommend it....

This week has not gone well and I must be honest and admit it. Though I have not stepped on the scale and I can't bring myself to do it because I don't want to know. The week wasn't going great as it was and then my neighbor came over with a bag full of homemade fudge, chocolate covered pretzels and caramel corn. Let's just say, I didn't just fall of the wagon, I flew off and crashed and burned. Oh well. I will promise myself and everyone this.... While the next couple weeks are bound to be bad, I will get it back together!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Breakfast with Santa....The Good, The Bad, The Scared....

Saturday, our ward had its annual Christmas Breakfast. We look forward to it every year- it is always in early December and it is just a fun way to kick off the Christmas season. It still seems so unreal that the Christmas 08 season is really in full swing. I swear it is true that the years do go by faster the older you get. Last Christmas just doesn't seem like it was that long ago. Anyway, I digress. This year did not disappoint! We had a great time visiting with friends, eating yummy breakfast treats brought via potluck, and of course- sitting on Santa's lap! The chorale group of a nearby high school came and performed and put on an AMAZING show. I think I could have watched them dance and sing all day. Kenny was even chosen out of the audience to participate in a song where they dressed him up as they sang. You can tell by the ear-to-ear grin that it made his day.

The morning was topped off by the long awaited visitor! The boys couldn't wait to sit on Santa's lap and tell him they had been good this year. The girls weren't so sure.
This was while we were waiting in line still- Meghan was already uneasy. It didn't get better for the girls.... Here are the photos of all...

Ellie did fine until I actually put her on his lap. She was not interested at all. Meghan- we couldn't even get her near his lap, but I still wanted a picture with Santa, which is why Aaron is standing behind Santa holding her. Lets just say, she got the attention of the then entire room.

Bring on Christmas, I am ready!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!!!

A special Happy Birthday to my mom today!!! Today she is 56 years old. I found I don't have many pictures of her. I think because she is frequently taking pictures of everyone else and then emailing them to us. This reminds me that I need to be more diligent with my camera and take more of her. Here is one with her, taken in March, with Aaron and all 4 of our kids.
She is an amazing person and lives for her family! And, honestly, we can't imagine living without her. She is the worlds best mom! Her name is Sara Ellen, which is where my little one, Ellen, got her name. Here is my mom with her namesake shortly after she was born:
I thought it would be fun just to tell everyone some fun/interesting things about my mom for the world to know:
  • She has been a nurse her entire adult life- and a very good one, I might add. I often call her before calling our own doctors to get her opinion first.
  • She has worked the night shift now for so many years that she has turned completely nocturnal. Even when she is off, she can seldom sleep well at night. I frequently get emails from her stamped at 2 am. She also works on her quilts and scrapbooks during that time. Or housecleaning or whatever needs done!
  • Speaking of quilting and scrapbooking, she is very talented in many areas. She made each of her children a quilt within the last few years. Here is the one she made for me:
It is the perfect size and warmth for cuddling on the couch to watch TV or read a book.
  • She has been married 37 years and has 5 children and 8 grandchildren.
  • She is a great cook and enjoys doing so when she has the time/people to cook for.
  • Mom is probably the most selfless person I know!
  • She is a very good budding photographer. It is a new hobby for her. She recently joined a local camera club and has submitted some beautiful photos for concerts.
  • She is always happily willing to help with her grandkids whenever she can. She was there when all my kids were born, helped after they were born (sooooo helpful after the girls were born), and babysits often when we need to go somewhere.
  • My kids love Grandma because she is a cuddler and they know she loves to hug them and hold them on her lap.
  • She is a "blog stalker"- she loves reading my, my sister's, and my sister-in-law's blog. She also visits some of my friends blogs pretty regularly. But, she never ever, you never know... she may be watching!
Happy Birthday Mom!!!!! I love you!!!!

A Special Anniversary wish to:
My Grandparents!!! They are celebrating 63 years together today! (My dad's parents)

Makes me think about where we will be after 63 years. I love my grandparents and hope they enjoy their special day!

One Final Note-

This is my 100th post!!! Yay!!! I have enjoyed doing this blog more than I ever imagined. Thank you to all my readers who have helped keep me motivated!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas- My Way!

This is a fun little blog game that I saw on Lauri's blog. Figured I would play along. Thanks for the blogging idea, Lauri!

1) Gift Wrap or Gift Bags?

Gift Wrap. I am no good at it and don't really enjoy wrapping, but I prefer to open a wrapped package then dig in a gift bag. For that reason, I generally wrap presents for others as well. They just aren't always very pretty.

2) Real or Artificial Tree?

Generally Real. There is something magical about going in the cold to get a real tree and the tradition of having it in your home- as well as the scent it gives. However, I am somewhat tempted lately by the positives of an artificial tree- no fallen needles and you can put it up earlier (without the fire hazard....)

3) When do you put up your tree?

Usually about the second week of December. Though maybe earlier if I end up going the artificial route. Maybe later if I am too lazy to deal with 2 toddlers picking things off the tree....

4) When do you take down your tree?

No later than New Years Day. I always look forward to getting ready for Christmas and putting the tree up. But, once it is over it is over and I am ready to take it down!

5) Do you like eggnog?

2 words..... eww gross!!!!

6) Favorite gift as a child.

Hmmm- have to think there.... Probably when I got my very own stereo when I was 13ish and it was also about the time I got my own room for the first time. So, it was cool to have my OWN stereo I didn't have to share. I am sure there is more, but this stands out the fastest as I think about it.

7) Hardest/ Easiest person to shop for.

Hardest would probably be either Aaron or my Father in law. I never know what to get Aaron- all he wants often times is tools for his garage. I wouldn't know what to buy, which leaves the option of giving cash/gift cards which just seems boring.

Easiest would be my kids. They haven't hit a stage yet of having "must haves" that they really want. They are happy with anything.

8) Do you have a nativity scene?

I have two- one that is pure white glass that my aunt Margie got for Aaron and I the first Christmas we were married. The other is a Fisher Price "Little People" Nativity set- very cool!

9) Mail or E-mail Christmas Cards-

Definitely Mail- What kind of cheap-o would e-mail? It would be better to not send then to just do email!

10) Favorite Christmas Movie-

It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, The original Miracle on 34th St, The original The Grinch who Stole Christmas.

11) When do you start shopping for Christmas-

Generally not before November. I used to never shop before Thanksgiving, but now with a larger list, it helps to start a little sooner. Any sooner than November though just feels weird.

12) Favorite things to eat during the holidays

Chocolate, Chocolate and more chocolate- love the candy, the cookies, etc. Also, Mint Hot Chocolate....oh, the best!!!

13) Favorite Christmas Song

O Holy Night (especially by Josh Grobin), Sleigh Ride, Silent Night, Away in a Manger, Carol of the Bells, that cool song done to Canon in D by Transiberian Orchestra ("On this night"?)

14) Angel or Star on top of your tree?

Angel- She is watching over us. Actually, it is because I bought it cheap at Odd Lots when we were first married and I just still like it.

15) Open gifts Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?

Christmas Morning. Sometimes Aaron and I will exchange one Christmas Eve.

16) Most annoying thing about the holiday season?

People who spend ridiculous amounts of money for a single person for a Christmas gift, stores that put decorations out in September, Bruce Springsting's version of "Santa Clause is Coming to Town," and the version of "The Drummer Boy" with those operatic old sounding ladies that the radio plays all the time.

17) Favorite Ornament/ Theme Color

Hmm- not sure. I don't have much of a theme due to "hurricane children" in my house and lack of style sense.

18) Favorite christmas dinner

A really good Ham and those cheap "Brown and Serve" Rolls. (those are the best! :)) Yum!

19) What do you want for Christmas?

Lower bills, a bigger house, for us all to continue to be as healthy as we are, and a date night or two with my husband.

Who else would like to play? I would love to read about you! Consider this an "unofficial tag"- if you would like something fun to blog about that says a little about you, play along!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I swore I would NEVER......

....................................... go shopping-or even anywhere NEAR- a store the day after Thanksgiving. I would also NEVER be one of those crazy people that got up before the sun to catch the great deals.

Nope...Not me!

At least not until my dear friend Amy asked me to join her Friday morning. She told me about the great deals that Target and Toys R Us were having and said we could go out to breakfast afterward and everything. So, much to my surprise, I decided Why not? I could try it out once- it would certainly be much more fun with a friend to go along with! And, I really was interested in getting some Christmas shopping done.

It was definitely an adventure! I got up at 5 (!?!?) am and she picked me up at 5:30 to get to Target when they opened at 6. I got in her van and she had a "peace offering" waiting for me- Hot chocolate and a McDonalds biscuit. Just what I needed to clear some of the fog out of my head. We get to Target and the lines to get in the door are halfway down the parking lot on each side! I would have taken a picture- I even took my camera- but I forgot the memory card. It was crazy in the store! But, we did get quite a few good deals. The kids must have been good this year! Then, on to Toys R Us. Their deals were better than Targets, we found. Amy was getting a couple very well priced video games for her son, among other things, and had to wait in the electronics line. It snaked back out of the electronics section and through several toy aisles. It only had two registers so it was a long wait. I did not have electronics, so I went to the regular checkout line (which fed 10 registers) and still snaked clear to the back of the store, up and down the clothing racks and through some toy aisles. It took me about 1 hour 20 minutes to get through the line!!!!!!!!!! A couple times, I literally almost fell asleep standing up. She was still waiting, so I went to her car, got it started and warm and listened to some Christmas music while I waited for her and even dosed a bit. She waited in that line a total of just about 3 hours!!!!! Can you believe it!!! So, we left at 11 am and went and had a yummy lunch at TGI Fridays and went home. Here is the two of us with our haul- I can honestly say that shopping for my kids is mostly done- with the exception of one other thing, maybe!!
So, as to whether or not I do it again- we will see. Does anyone else ever brave the craziness? It was fun to hang out with Amy, get shopping done and go out to eat.

The REST of the weekend....
Unfortunately, this was about the only bright spot to the weekend. I love Thanksgiving and look forward to it every year. I love helping to cook the meal and spend the day with family. I had a whole blog post planned out in my head with pictoral representations of all I was thankful for. We were going to have an early afternoon meal at my sister, Emily's, house and then travel in the evening to Aaron's Uncle Mike's house to spend time with them. Well, we were awoken at 6:30 am by the girls throwing up......AT THE SAME TIME!!! I know they are twins and all, but really- did they HAVE to do THAT together?! So, Aaron and I got them cleaned up and came out to the couch to sit with them-hoping they would go back to sleep. Well, other than a brief cat nap- not really. Meghan only got sick the once luckily, while Ellie did a few more times. So, we got up and I did the cooking I had planned on. We decided that, since we couldn't take the girls out, I would take the boys to my sister's house for a while and then come home. Aaron would then take the boys to his Uncles house. So, we each got to see our families and each got a yummy Thanksgiving dinner, but not together- which was a bummer.

So, Friday morning, I went on our little shopping spree. Despite that I was tired and not feeling great myself (I had also had a bad cough for several days that was keeping me from sleeping) I managed to get some cleaning done since Aaron's Dad and Step-mom, his sister and family were planning on coming over for dinner today (Saturday). Aaron and I were supposed to go out Friday evening to dinner and see the movie "Twilight." About 5pm- about 30 minutes before our babysitter was to arrive- Kenny starts throwing up. Since we couldn't go anywhere, Aaron and I both had to admit that our stomachs had been unsettled for hours- we just didn't want to mess up our evening by admitting it- hoping it was nothing. Well, by 7pm- Aaron and I were sick as well. It was very very ugly..... I will spare you the details. 3 people sick at the same time was not pleasant. Ugh....... My clean house? Not so much anymore.... Oh well- if I hadn't cleaned, it would be worse. It has been years since I was that sick.....

So, we had to cancel our dinner today. So instead of getting ready for it as planned, I am sitting here blogging about the weekend because I don't have the strength for anything else. Aaron and I feel better- not nauseated anymore anyway- but both feel like we have been hit by a Mack truck- just absolutely no energy and achy. So I am very bummed about not having this dinner today, I was looking forward to it! Jacob is the only one who hasn't gotten this stomach bug now, but he has been sick for nearly 3 weeks with a bad cough. I finally took him to the doctor Friday (in addition to everything else....) but it is just a virus- not bronchitis or anything else. Hopefully this bug will pass him by- he has suffered enough.

Anyway, the weekend certainly did not go as planned, but that is life I suppose. People get sick, but we are getting better. I am truly Thankful for my family, the help they have been, for my children and their health and so much more. I am so very blessed and lucky and don't ever want to seem ungrateful by not acknowledging it. Life is good!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Double Trouble

Sometimes I wonder if I was a "better mom" when Kenny was little. I feel like I was much better about doing art activities and learning games with him. Maybe some of it had to do with the fact I was also doing full time childcare. I had a background in education/ early childhood development and felt like if these parents were paying me to keep their children, I should do more then set them in front of the TV. So, pretty much daily, we had some sort of learning activity, games, or art projects. Now that the girls are here, I have not been as good about it. Not that I ignore them-I do play/sing/color with them- but I don't do activities like I did with Kenny. I think some of it is that I am not doing childcare anymore, along with the fact that life is about 10X more chaotic then it was when Kenny was a baby. Plus, there is two of them, which of course means double the mess, etc.

So, it occurred to me recently that they are nearly 2 years old and I had not yet braved finger painting with them!! My boys as well as childcare kids did this by 12 mos. at the latest. So, I finally decided to give it a try. I was smart about it- I trapped them in their high chairs, to minimize damage to the surrounding areas- and I took their shirts off. No worries about ruining clothes or messing with smocks. I gave them a piece of paper and just put a dab of paint on it. Then, I ran my finger through it to show them how, and then put their fingers in to show them they could do it too. As you can tell by the red teary eyes- they did not care for it at first....
But, after a few minutes, they realized it wasn't so bad and started to experiment...

So, I added a few colors and their artistry shined through...

And, it didn't take long until Ellie realized she had her own blank canvas attached to her own body!!

So, all in all- a success. They got to experiment with something new and I felt like a "good" stay-at-home mom....for 5 minutes at least.

These next pictures will demonstrate another development:
Not quite sure what you are looking at? Look at this one closely- maybe it will help:

Ellie (well, both girls, but Ellie is the worst...) has gained a desire to be a strip artist. Recently, I couldn't put her down for nap or bed without checking on her a few minutes later only to find her stripped of clothing and diaper. Luckily, we haven't had anything worse than a "number 1" accident, but I didn't want to wait around for the "number 2" to happen... One time, I checked on her at night after she fell asleep and her pajamas were on and zipped up, so I didn't look any closer. In the morning, I found her in her crib and dressed, but soaking wet and no diaper- diaper out side the crib. Before she had fallen asleep, she had unzipped her pjs, without taking them off, stripped the diaper, and rezipped her pjs and went to sleep! What a mess...but, thankfully, only a number 1. So, that was the last straw. I cut off all the feet in their sleepers (which was sad, I like footed sleepers on little ones!) and I now always just put them on backwards. Thankfully, it is working! Of course, now, sometimes she will be dressed for the day and playing. I leave the room, only to come back in a couple minutes later to find a naked child running around my living room..... I think I need to break out the duct tape....

Oh, the adventures continue!

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Fight the Fat" Fridays Report 3

Yay!! One more pound down!! (total of 5):) I will get there...inch by inch!!!

High points of the week-
1) 3 good work outs
2) stayed strong against (some) temptation
3) kept good track of points

Goals for this next week:
1)don't completely blow it over the weekend (I probably would have lost more if I had done better last weekend.... the midnight donut run with Autumn and worth it!!! :))
2) 3 work outs
3) keep to health goals- with the only exceptions being Thanksgiving day and Saturday.
4) Maintain current weight....(at least not gain...losing is probably too much to ask this week...)

So, my next report may not be until 2 Fridays from now. I am NOT going to even get on the scale the day after Thanksgiving. If the week is going well by Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, I may update then, but we will see.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Could Two Personalities be Any More Different??

Tonight we had parent-teacher conferences with both kids teachers. This was the first time I had to conference with more than one teacher at a time now that Jacob is in Kindergarten. I was in culture shock going from one room to the other. It really explained a lot.

First, we meet with Jacobs teacher. She is a little flustered trying to get everything together since we were the first parents of the day she was meeting with and all of the kids had just left. But, otherwise, she was very welcoming and friendly with lots of positive things to say. The boys just wandered calmly around the room exploring, but not getting into trouble. She was laid back and smiling and it was very pleasant. Partly because of our late start due to it being the first conference and because of our chatting, we went over by a few minutes.

Then, we walk over to Kenny's teacher. As soon as we walk in, she tells the boys to wait in the hall. She closes the door and quickly informs us that we may have to reschedule because we are past our appointment starting time and she never goes over. She sits down and has a kitchen timer set to keep us on time. While I understand the method- it would be bad to get behind when you have a lot of parents to see- it was a little stressful. She was talking quickly telling us what Kenny needed to work on (with probably a minute devoted to what he was doing well-he is doing great in math- just like his mom and dad! :)). I could hardly concentrate or think of questions to ask with that clock ticking, knowing my time was almost up. Of course, it was our fault for getting in there late- but I just couldn't believe the difference in atmosphere between the two classes. Kenny got along great with his Kindergarten and First Grade teachers, but has often told me lately he doesn't like Second Grade. I suspected anyway that his teacher just may not be a good personality match for him, plus I could definitely tell the work has been a little harder on him. I do think she is a good teacher and she isn't mean and has a lot of experience, so don't take this rant here the wrong way. But, she is much more abrasive and black and white then his other teachers have been and he just doesn't work as well with her personality. I think he has gotten more used to her and he seems to be doing better. I am sure as the year goes on it will continue to get better.

My whole point here, I guess, is just how drastically different two different teachers can be. Different personalities, different teaching styles. I knew this, from my own background in education and experiences with my own teachers, but it was just surprising I guess from a parent's perspective and to see how children relate to those different personalities and styles.
While there is obviously one I relate better to, it doesn't mean the other is wrong. What is most important is that, despite the differences, I can tell that both teachers care about each child. I was impressed at the little details BOTH teachers knew about my children from observing their personalities. In just these first couple months, both teachers have gotten to know my children and genuinely seem to know how they think and desire to help them. That is what counts the most.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crazy Times and Crazy Hair

The other day, at dinner, I pulled out the camera for a different reason. However, as soon as I did, Meghan yells "Cheeeeeeeeeese!!!!" Despite the chicken and mashed potatoes all over her tray, her face, and her sticky hair, I had to capture her yelling cheese. Even with the mess, she is still least that is my opinion...
A couple weeks ago, the boys had a "Crazy Hair" day at school. We had all kind of fun getting ready that morning! Not to mention the amount of water, gel and hairspray we used....
Ellie decided she wanted a snack and I didn't lock the cabinet...
Here is what I did all weekend:
Made 300+ buckeyes (for you non-Ohioans...this is peanut butter/chocolate perfection disquised as the nut for which our Ohio State football team is made) Go Buckeyes!! Beat Michigan this weekend!!
Made two pans of peppermint bark. This and the above buckeyes, I made for two reasons. First, to sell at a table at a Mothers of Twins club meeting this week. They are having a member sale night where those with a hobby/home business can sell their wares.
These yummy cookies, I made to practice for an upcoming Pampered Chef show I am doing. I will prepare them during the party. They are Peppermint Fudge Cookie Sandwiches. Click on that name to get the recipe- very yummy!!!

So, I basically lived in the kitchen. In addition to that, I also made pancakes from scratch for breakfast, served lunch, took care of babies. Finally at dinner time, I gave in and let Aaron go get KFC for dinner (see Meghan's picture above....)

Crazy huh?

Well, now I have mentioned everyone except Aaron. He spent much of the weekend bringing a friends New Beetle back to life. It was DOA when it was towed into our garage. Now it runs great!
He and another friend fixed it at a fraction of the cost that the garage would have charged. And now, we have a little extra money for bills/Christmas because of it. I am grateful for his talent.... either from fixing our cars himself or fixing friends cars- it is a huge help!

So, life gets crazy, yes, but I wouldn't have it any other way really. I think if it slowed down too much, I would just get bored.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Fight the Fat" Fridays Report 2

Well, not as good of a week, but not a total bust. I maintained this week. Oh well. Better than gaining. I knew ahead of time that this would be a tough week and it was. But, I can tell keeping track of it here is helping. There were several times, when I knew I was not likely to lose weight, that I just wanted to say forget it for the week as I have done before. But, knowing I wanted to report it here kept me encouraged to keep going and be as healthy as I could. So, whereas I might have gained a pound or two before, I maintained the current weight. So, I don't get to move my little ticker, but that is okay. Hopefully I can make next week better, though I am going into another tough week with lots of baking and such to do and Pampered Chef parties to get ready for.

Positive moment of the week- I did exercise 3 times! (2 intense workouts and one leisurely walk today with the girls enjoying an unseasonably beautiful day before winter strikes tomorrow...)

Thanks for everyone's encouragement. It feels good to be on a good path again.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Second Grade Camp (Through Kenny's Eyes....)

Last week, Kenny spent 2 days at second grade camp. That is one really cool thing about his school- each grade goes to a science camp. For Kindergarten, it is just one day and fifth grade is a few days- but everyone goes. I posted last spring about first grade camp (click here if you are curious) when I went with him as a chaperone. I was unable to go this time, but I still wanted some visuals of his trip. I decided to send him with a disposable camera. I got the cheapest of the cheap (only $3 and no flash!) because I was sure that:

1) the camera wouldn't make it home- it would get broken or lost.

2) if it did make it home, I would have 27 pictures of the bus trip!

I thought it a funny sign of the times with technology, that I had to teach him how to use the view finder to take a picture. He is so used to my digital camera already and he has never seen a film camera! Odd, huh? He wasn't happy that he wouldn't get to see his pictures right after taking them! So funny...

Well, surprisingly, the camera did make it home. I couldn't wait to get it developed and hear about his trip. He had an amazing time with nothing but good to say. His pictures made me laugh- and were about exactly what I was expecting of him. Here were three of the bus trip on the way there... so funny the things that catch their eye.

I can only assume it was the signs that caught his attention here.

Next, some dump trucks interested him...
And then, who could resist the giant semi passing them with a reflection of the bus in it?
Upon arriving to camp, he took a picture of a cabin...not his cabin he says, but I am sure his was just like it....

But then, the bright blue dumpster was just too tempting...

Thankfully, the weather was gorgeous when they went- sunny, cold mornings, warm afternoons. They rode horses and went fishing! How cool! He did get some great scenery pictures. Don't these pictures make you love nature? The first is of the lake where they fished (but no pictures of fishing or horseback riding...sigh....)
He also took lots of pictures of his friends. This is a good one of Mason (on the right) and another kid- I forget his name. Kenny told me, but he isn't here right now.
There were a lot of pictures like this next one. The ones taken inside (like this one) didn't turn out well since there was no flash, but I could still see a little. Alot made me laugh like this one where there were heads chopped off, or in some cases, no heads or lots of behinds!

Anyway, I am truly grateful that he is able to have that opportunity to get away in a structured, educational, but fun experience. It was hard to leave him in the hands of virtual strangers and other kids parents I don't know (but hey, those expensive back ground checks they had to get did help me feel a little better!), but he did great. It was me that it was hard for. At least I was able to get a glimpse from the stories he told and the pictures showing the world as he saw it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gotta Love Peer Pressure!

I recently introduced you to my younger sister, Sara Emily. This is a picture of her with her husband, Kris. I was shocked and happy to learn tonight that she finally started a blog!!! I have been telling her for a long time she should give it a try, but she always insisted she will NEVER start a blog! Check it out here. I am proud of her and think she is off to a great start! Her first post even includes Halloween pictures, so check it out for cute pictures of her kids!

Happy writing, Sis! Love you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Fight the Fat" Friday- Report 1

So, on Monday, I confessed my need to go back to my Weight Watchers plan. I am unable to afford the time or money to go to weekly meetings again, so I am making this blog my "weekly meeting" of sorts. I feel that knowing I need to post updates weekly will help keep me on track. This has definitely worked for this week. There were so many times where I felt the urge to just "give up" for the week, but knowing I wanted to report something good, and since I had already started, helped me stay strong. I have gotten a great start. Drum roll please............................................. (that is, if you haven't noticed my ticker to the right already)...................................................................................................................................................

4 lbs down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yay! Just since Monday! Don't be too surprised really. I have noticed when I haven't been eating well, that when I do better, I drop a lot right away, but then it slows down. So, yay! It feels great to know I got a good start. And, I don't really feel deprived! Though I didn't gorge myself on Halloween candy like I wanted, I had a couple treats throughout the week to tide me over. I ate all meals and occasional snacks. I just counted my points and paid attention to what I was eating. I did exercise twice, which is really good for me. So, till next week...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What I Wake Up to Every Morning

Every morning, I know the girls are awake by the sound of them laughing at each other and jumping in their cribs. The height of their jumping is amazing. As much as I hate to come alive in the morning, this makes it worth it and always makes me smile. This isn't the best example- imagine them both jumping as high as Meghan is (Meghan is on the right) and for an extended period. They saw me so they got camera shy- I have tried a few times since, but every time they stop as soon as they spot the camera- but you get the idea!

My first blog video! I'm so proud!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Confession and a New Plan

Something many know about me, but some do not, is that I struggle with my weight and eating issues. Ever since I started to gain weight in late high school/ early college, I have yo-yo'd up and down quite a bit. However, after having the twins, I was edging close to the highest weight I had ever been (okay, I topped it while pregnant- but that doesn't matter....I had two babies in there..) and started weight watchers. It was relatively easy- I dropped the weight quickly. I was nursing- two babies at that- and could eat quite a bit more than the average person and still lose weight. It practically fell off. I managed to lose nearly 70 pounds following weight watchers- which was about 100 pounds down from where I was at my highest weight. I knew it would get harder after I weaned the babies- and it really did- but I still managed to get down to goal weight.

Well, ever since then, it has gotten very difficult. Let's just say, I have fallen off the wagon. I have been horrified to realize that I have regained 30 pounds from goal weight. I can't believe I let it get that out of control. I have tried a few times to get "back on plan," but I would mess up within a few days and not have the resolve to keep going. So, I have gained little by little the last few months, until now I am 30 pounds over weight again. Better than 100 pounds over, but still 30 too many. I think I know what part of the problem is and why weight watchers worked when I was going to meetings- it is the accountability. Being accountable to someone besides myself seems to work- keep me motivated. When it is just me, it is easy to let myself down. So, that is the reason for this embarrassing post. I need to be accountable to someone else (at least for now) for this to be successful. I can not afford the time or the money to go back to meetings, so I will post my progress here. When I lost the weight I told myself that I would never again buy bigger clothes..... well, my clothes have gotten a lot tighter. So, if I am going to keep the promise, I have to find a way to get the weight off again, or go around naked...... I think everyone would prefer the former....

To kick things off, I thought I would mention some things I have done well this last year and a half, that probably prevented me from gaining back as quickly as I might have. Then a few things I need to improve on....

Things I have done well/healthy living:
1) Converted to drinking more water, skim milk and only diet soda.
2) Meal time portion control has gotten better. Instead of a big hamburger AND a hotdog- I pick one (most of the time.....:))
3) I rarely order fried anymore- just occasionally
4) Use only light condiments/dressings
5) Enjoy veggies a bit more than I used to.
6) Exercised some...... I am not good at exercising... I have had times when I have done well
7) Found lower fat ways to cook/bake
8) Trying to teach my kids to stay active/portion control/ healthy foods are fun- to prevent the from having the same issues... (I hope....)

Things I need to improve on:
1) Portion control on snacks... it is okay to eat a piece of Halloween candy out of my child's basket- not so many pieces I get sick....I mean, really- isn't that what I am trying to teach my kids NOT to do by limiting their access to it? Also- it is okay to have a cookie or two- not the whole plate.
2)I need to exercise regularly...even if it is just twice a week to start (I took the girls to the zoo today- that counts! 1 more for the week at least!)
3) more fruit and veggies as snacks
4) If I blow a day, it does NOT mean I have blown the whole week- I need to remember I can do better the next day and just keep going.

So, there you have it- my struggle all exposed for all to know. I think I will post progress every Friday. Note the new ticker off to the right- I will update it weekly. Wish me luck!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

(don't mind the pink behind Kenny's head- that is Ellie in the chair behind him....)

Let's go Trick-or-Treating!!!

Just one more question......
Now What?!?!
(and we only went to the local nursing home and around the block! I tried for the girls to share a bucket since they are too young to care, but everyone insisted on still giving me two pieces of candy for two babies! So, what I am supposed to do with all this candy?!?!)

Happy Halloween!!!!!