Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some Random Thoughts on New Years Eve

**I really want a Mac laptop. I just don't want to part with the money to buy one. Especially since the moment I do something new and better will be on the market. I have spent over a year now researching every possible laptop out on the market and now I'm so informed and overwhelmed that I can't make a decision. Aside from my dream Mac I have at least narrowed the brand down to either a Dell or a Gateway and am hoping to be able to make a decision within the next week. So, I am asking you my internet friends. Any suggestions? What are your personal preferences and why? Have you had a bad experience with any particular make and/or model?

** My birthday was pretty uneventful as a whole. However, my daughter is very excited about birthdays and she just couldn't believe I was not going to have a birthday party. (She doesn't yet realize my husband and I are going out tomorrow alone in celebration) so, she spent the day making me beautiful pictures and then made a card for me tonight. So incredibly sweet and thoughtful.

** Just a few short years ago I would be spending New Years Eve out drinking at a party. Tonight I sit at home watching TV and fiddling on the computer. Oh, how times have changed.

** A good friend had her first baby tonight! (On her due date, no less). Congrats J!!! Your son is in good company :)

** My daughter was given a plasma car for Christmas from my parents. I had never heard of it before. The basic idea is that the weight of your body propels the movement of the car by gently moving the steering wheel back and forth. Once moving it steers like a car even going in reverse. I think I have spent more time on it than my children. Lately, I have taken to giving rides to each child. They think it is the greatest way to spend the day and since our downstairs is completely tiled we have quite a bit of inside space to cruise (The car holds up to 220 pounds).



** I'm not a big fan of New Years resolutions because most of the time I think they are made with little intention of truly keeping them or the best of intentions, but no specific plan for success. Last year I had two goals: 1) to lose weight and 2) to write and actually get paid for it. I did lose weight (I still would like to lose a little more) and I am getting paid for my writings. (Still a weird and exciting concept for me). So, in the spirit of consistency my New Years resolutions will once again be to lose weight and to continue to work as a writer....hopefully learning more and parlaying my current work experience into something new.

Happy New Years

I really can't believe that 2008 is coming to a close. This year just seemed to fly by. As with most this year was filled both with good and bad and so I won't spend the time recapping each. I will say that I am eager, for many reasons, to see what 2009 has to offer both me personally and the collective we, as a country.

New Years has always been a dual celebration for me because it's my birthday. When I was a kid I hated having my birthday this close to Christmas because we'd have to wait to have a "friend" party until school was back in and because I had to figure out every gift I wanted for the entire year because I knew I only had one month to get them in. As I got older I didn't mind as much because there was always something to do. My friends in college always threw huge birthday bashes. Same can be said today...minus the big bashes, which I have come to loathe.

Because the kids have been sick we have nothing really planned for today. I may go out for lunch. Tomorrow my parents are going to watch our kids, though, so that my husband and I can go out and celebrate.

In any event, it seems like each year passes by more quickly than the last. It seems like my kids were infants just yesterday, even though they are now 3 1/2 and 1 1/2. It seems like I was in college just a couple of years ago, even though I graduated almost 9 years ago. (Can that be right?) I remember being so sick on my 21st birthday that I spent it in the ER (that was 10 birthdays ago). Where does the time go?

What are your New Years plans? Parties? Quiet gatherings? Time with family? I wish everyone a terrific New Year! Be safe.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the Mend

So as you know our son has been really sick (thanks for all the kind words, thought, and prayers). He seemed to just have a lingering cold for the past couple of weeks but by Christmas Day had gotten much worse. I probably should have taken him to the doctor sooner, but we were out of town and for viral infections there is nothing they can really do anyway. Christmas night our son was having difficulty breathing, uncontrollable coughing, wheezing horribly, so we started to get worried.

We'd been down this road before and he ended up being hospitalized for three days last February with RSV and Bronchiolitis. We debated if we should take him to the ER Christmas night and in retrospect probably should have. Friday morning we took him to the doctor. She listened to him, checked his oxygen levels, and sent us off to the hospital. We spent the day there with him receiving breathing treatments every 30 minutes for four hours. Unlike last time, he responded to the treatment and his oxygen levels slowly increased and we were fortunately released, with yet another Bronchiolitis diagnosis, instead of admitted. They had us continue the breathing treatments at home all weekend every four hours.

Unfortunately, our son hates the mask that administers the medicine. He screams and fights and it ends up taking much longer because he holds his breath. By day three he resigned himself to the inevitable and while he no longer fights to the death, he begins to cry the second he sees me pull out the mask and medicine. It's rather sad. He looks at me and cries, "No, no mama."

There is nothing worse than having a sick kid and feeling so helpless. Truly, I don't know how parents of terminally ill children find the strength and courage to go on day after day. As sick as my son is he was/is not close to dying and yet still I have worried non-stop about him. I continue to worry about him and what this means for his future health.

Monday morning I took both kids back to the doctor for a follow up. Our daughter's lungs are clear even though she is still battling a virus, but our son's are still squeaky. Fortunately, his oxygen levels were not low enough to warrant a trip back to the hospital. But, we were sent home with a nebulizer and inhaler treatments for the duration of his illness and they prescribed further treatment anytime he starts coming down with a cold in the future. He apparently is susceptible to respiratory complications; the doctor is hoping it will be something he will outgrow but only time will tell. He was also put on antibiotics for two ear infections. The nebulizer came with a cute duck mask and a spare fish mask so our son is very receptive to the treatment now and will even sit there holding the mask to his face by himself.

So, for now we continue to be housebound. I did manage to shower and dress myself in something other than sweats and an inside out, snot encrusted shirt for the past two days now. Hopefully by weeks end he'll have responded to the treatments and be much better.

Our son has managed to fight some with his sister today so he must be feeling better. He also mustered the strength to tell me "no, no, no", which he's been not feeling well enough to do lately. So, those are both good signs. On a random note my daughter taught him to say, "Happy Birthday" so he's been saying that all day. (I age yet another year tomorrow).

It seems like respiratory viruses are going around. Our friends' son ended up in Urgent Care with bronchitis, and the Pediatric ER was filled with kids all receiving breathing treatments. What's the deal?

So, I thank you all again for your kind words and it looks like little man is on the mend.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Goodnight My Mother

A few nights ago I was laying down with my daughter and cuddling and she was whispering, "I love you so much mommy" to which I kept replying, "I love you so much too." Then I thought she said, "Goodnight my mother" which I thought was kind of funny so I replied by saying, "Goodnight by daughter." We probably had this exchange six or seven times (all whispered) until she finally sits up and says loudly, "No, I've been saying 'Can I have my water?'" Oops. My bad.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What I Would Do For A Night Alone

My husband left town again today on business. When he arrived he called to tell me about his room. Apparently, he is in some luxury hotel and his room is bigger than our first house. He had just stepped out of his personal hot tub and into a comfortable robe. He was then going to lay in bed, watching TV, getting at least a solid 8 hours of sleep.

I can't even begin to tell you how jealous I am. I would kill for a few nights like that....seriously, KILL!

I am home with two sicks kids, one who spent time in the hospital this past week (more on that later), being kept up all night by my son who I have to hold upright all night so that he can breathe, and giving breathing treatments round the clock every four hours for the past three days. Are you jealous yet? Did I mention I'm in sweatpants and a shirt I just now realized is inside out? Sexy.

Seriously, one way to endear yourself to me forever would be to offer to watch my kids for a night and let me sleep, completely undisturbed, for 8 solid hours. I will be your friend for life. I swear! Any takers?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

And It's Over Just Like That

It's no secret that I love Christmas. There's always such a let down after it is all over because I know I have to wait a full year until this time of year swings around again. We had a really great couple of days leading up to all of today's festivities.

My brother and his wife arrived from Wisconsin on Tuesday around the same time we arrived back from Phoenix. We were able to spend some time with them Tuesday evening, which was nice because my daughter has been really excited to see them. Christmas Eve we got to just hang out and relax. My husband took our son to run some errands so it gave me and our daughter some time alone, which was greatly appreciated by our daughter. That evening we attended church with my parents, other brother, and grandmother. The kids were perfect, which made things much more enjoyable.

Christmas morning the kids woke up and of course wanted to open presents. It's so funny because when I was a kid I have memories of tearing into presents at record speed. My daughter is very meticulous and opens each present carefully. She then admires it, plays with it, carefully puts it aside before moving on to the next gift. Because of that it took almost an hour to open their presents (could have easily been done in ten). It was great though. We then headed over to my parents, where my sister, her husband, their four kids, grandmother, uncle, both brothers, and sister-in-law arrived. We had a great time watching the kids open and play with more presents. We ate, drank, talked, and laughed. It was a good day.

The only down side is that both kids have been pretty sick and our son has taken a pretty bad turn for the worse today. We are praying he makes it through the night and we can get him (and our daughter) in to see the doctor in the morning. If not, it looks like we'll be making a nice Christmas trip to the ER. The timing could not be worse.

Anyway, tell me about your holiday? How was it? What did you do?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays To All

**My daughter has informed me that Santa would like pink princess sugar cookies and orange juice, no pulp, left out for him.

** Thanks to Sarah and her recommendation to look for jeans at Gap. I found a very comfortable pair that don't stretch. Yeah!!!

** Looks like both kids will still be sick for Christmas.

** Every year I drop hints to my hubby about what I want for Christmas. He rarely catches on. This year I told him there were only two things I wanted. He has an opportunity to be two for two with Christmas and my birthday (December 31). Let's see if he delivers.

** I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! Enjoy!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jeans

What is the deal with pants being made with the "stretch" material? I hate that. Especially with jeans. I don't want my jeans to stretch. I'm very particular about textures with clothing and nothing annoys me more than pants advertised as "stretch."

Seriously, who wants their jeans to stretch? I spent five hours at the mall today trying on every possible jean in every possible store. Almost every single pair was stretch material. When did this become the cats meow?

I finally settled for a pair that I really don't even like, but at least they fit like they are supposed to. My two favorite pairs of jeans that I have had for years are now three sizes to big, but I've still been wearing them with a belt. They are to the point that they look ridiculous, which prompted the five hour journey today.

So, what are your thoughts? Are you a fan of this stretch material?

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Son and His Dinosaur Obsession

Our son is really into dinosaurs, trains, and most recently airplanes. The dinosaur fascination started when my mom showed him this huge dinosaur in Target a few months ago that you could operate with a remote control. It would stand up on its hind legs and roar its loudest, meanest roar. My son loved it. He began walking around the house putting his hand up like he was on his hind end and roaring at anyone who would listen.


A few days ago I busted out some new "winter" pajamas that I had bought him a while ago, that ironically enough have dinosaurs on them. He loves the pajamas. He walks around the house roaring and showing everyone his sleeves and pant legs. This morning when I tried to get him dressed he ran off crying, dug his dirty pj's out of the hamper and brought them to me in tears, yet still trying to roar through the crying. Since we were staying home I put him back in his pj's.


Later in the evening, after giving him a bath, I went to put him in clean pj's. He screamed and kept trying to take his pajamas off. He kept going after his dirty dinosaur pajamas. Apparently, I should have just bought many pairs of the same pajamas and he could wear the "same" ones every night. Who knew?


Anyone else's kid have any odd obsessions?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How We Spent Our Week

My husband, the kids, and I spent this past week in Phoenix. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan in general. It's hot there, crowded, and people drive like maniacs. I lived there for 7 years and my husband was born and raised there. When we moved I couldn't have been more thrilled.

This past week and for a few days in the coming weeks, my husband has to go to Phoenix for business related to his new job. Since the hotel is being paid for anyway...and it's a very nice one... the kids and I went up with him. I'm all about a free vacation. I'm so glad we did because we had a terrific time. The weather was nice and cold (and raining) and because we used to live there we still have a lot of friends living in the area. It was nice because each of the days we were there I was able to meet up with friends, who now all have children as well, and catch up. Our kids all played wonderfully together, which was so nice. My daughter did inform me though that I needed to find a friend who had a daughter. Everyone we met up with has boys and most of my friends here in town that we see regularly also have only boys.

One of the evenings, my husband and I took the kids to an outside shopping area that has a huge Christmas tree decorated with bright lights and each night they drop snow for twenty minutes. It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast. I also took the kids to my old University and let them into the arena where I played college basketball. I let them shoot baskets and run around the court. My daughter thought it was wonderful and has declared that she too will play basketball there.

Aside from all the fun activities, the hotel was excitement enough for our daughter. She loves staying at hotels. She loves the room service and the beds and just the convenience and comfort. Each time we'd go somewhere she'd ask "So, can we go back to the hotel now?" I think she'd like to live in a hotel if given the choice. My mom is very much the same way and often checks into luxury resorts for mini vacations. Our daughter told us the first night we arrived that grandma was going to be so jealous that she got to stay in a hotel. Yes, indeed.

I did get a bit nostalgic being back in my old stomping grounds. We ate at restaurants we used to frequent and passed by many of the places I hung out while in college. That along with the combination of hanging out with my friends who I haven't seen in a while, who I used to hang out with daily, made me almost wish we still lived in Phoenix. Then I started driving. My nostalgia went out the window as soon as I hit traffic.

While Tucson is a big city, it still very much has a small town feel. Places open late and close early and we very much have our roots in a small town atmosphere. By comparison, places in Phoenix open early and stay open late. There's something to do all the time. As a result there is traffic and lots of it. Of course we have traffic in Tucson too, but in comparison to what is considered traffic in Phoenix we have very little. For that I am thankful. How anyone who is unfamiliar with Phoenix navigates the freeways there is beyond me.

This trip was really a nice, relaxing, fun week..and a nice break from the usual routine of being home. While I love and enjoy both of my children, spending time with my daughter was especially precious. She was so good and mature and I really enjoyed her company and conversation. She was perfectly behaved, nice to her brother, helpful and polite everywhere we went. I could not have asked her to be better behaved than she was. She is at such a fantastic age. I wish I could just freeze her at this moment in time. My son was a lot of fun too, but he is so active and so much work that it can be just plain exhausting. He is non-stop, on the go, into everything, loud, curious, and 24/7. I wish I had his energy.

Now, I'm home (my hubby is still in Phoenix) trying to do the million loads of laundry and finish up last minute preparations for Christmas. It's been busy, but it's been good!

How was your week? I feel like I've been out of the loop. Catch me up.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...

We spent this past week in Phoenix (a great trip that I will write about later). We stayed fairly close to the airport and I discovered that apparently my children, my son especially, love airplanes. Each time one would fly overhead he'd yell and laugh and jump up and down. It was cheap and easy entertainment.

Back in Tucson, planes seldom fly over the area in which we live. I think on the days the kids are driving me nuts I might send them to the backyard and tell them to watch for planes. It might kill an hour or four.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

An Attempt to Compensate

We are leaving town tomorrow and I will not have computer access until I return on Thursday (how will I survive?). So, on that note I will leave you with a few "entries" to try to compensate for my absence.
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I participated in a variety of sports growing up, from basketball to volleyball, to karate, and many sports in between. As I got older I focused more on basketball and both my high school teams and national traveling teams consistently drew large crowds. To someone who grew up around sports, a large crowd became the norm.

When we stared our daughter in ballet, knowing they were working toward a December and May recital, we had no idea what to expect. To me dance is a great activity that my daughter loves, but nothing to really go crazy about...unless you are the proud parent of a participant. Well, today I learned that apparently people take their dance very seriously.

We had to be at an 8 am rehearsal. I took my daughter just thinking it was a simple walk thru, which is pretty much was. Except for that many of the kids arrived with an entourage of family and friends and neighbors and possibly people they recruited in the parking lot. Rehearsal was pretty much standing room only. It's rehearsal people.

Her performance started tonight at 6 pm. We were told to have them backstage at 5:30 pm. We arrived at 5 pm thinking we were soooooo early and were trying to figure out ways we could kill time. Well, we walked in and the place was packed. We only got seats because my sister had saved some for us. Unbelievable. These are 3 and 4 year olds performing (older kids did perform later in the evening). I guess that I am just stunned at the amount of people who showed up for a children's performance. There were hundreds, sitting on the floor, standing to the side, standing back around the sides and behind the free standing stage. Quite honestly, I would have had stage fright performing in front of that many people at that age (shockingly none of the kids seemed to mind).

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My favorite book of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Because of my affection for this book and my admiration for the fictional Atticus I always wanted to name our son Atticus. My husband doesn't have the same adoration for TKAM as I do thus didn't appreciate the name Atticus in the same way I did. Suffice it to say our son is not named Atticus. Since I am fairly certain we are done having children my dream for use of that name will die somewhere in the pages of that book.

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There is a new Brett Dennen song entitled "Heaven" and one of the lyrics asks, "What the hell is heaven? Is there home for the homeless? Is there hope for the hopeless?" It has been in my head replaying over and over again for a solid month now.

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A few weeks ago our daughter broke out in hives all over one of her legs. I gave her Benedryl right away and within a few hours they had cleared up. The following day she again broke out all over both legs and her buttocks with these huge welt-like hives. She hadn't been given anything new to eat, I hadn't changed the laundry detergent, she hadn't been around any new or different animals or other possible allergens, so we were at a loss. This bout again went away. Later that evening she broke out on her hands, feet, and stomach and by the following day they were all over her face. She looked like she had leprosy or something.

By this time we had called her doctor who said to continue giving her Benedryl and to watch them for a few more days. Well, we went up North where it was very cold and almost instantly she broke out all over her body, her face and hands especially. On our way back home we called our doctor and she saw her immediately. However, she too was at a loss as to what could be causing them. I mentioned to her, though, that I noticed that the hives got worse when she'd been outside in the cold. So, my doctor had me perform a series of "tests" with her over the next few days to see if exposure to colder weather would again cause her to break out. So, I took her outside and had her run around for 30 minutes and then brought her back inside. Within five minutes of being inside she broke out all over the place with these hives again.

Apparently, she has cold urticaria (cold hives) so we have to limit her exposure to the cold or make sure that her skin is not exposed...much easier said than done. We also have to keep her dosed with Benedryl if we know we are going to be outside for any amount of time. Helps with the hives but it sure makes her tired...not really tired enough to go to sleep, but tired enough to make her look (and act) like a zombie.

One of the doctor's other suggestions was for her to wear a ski mask when going outside, which my daughter would have willingly done since one of her favorite books is Freckleface Strawberry (which is about a girl who wears a ski mask to school to cover her freckles). I thought that was a little creepy though so I ended up getting her a cute pink flower neck gaiter. So, between her ski hat, hooded jacket, neck gaiter, and mittens she's pretty well covered and it has been helpful. The breakouts have been less frequent and less severe.

It's just strange. She has spent quite a bit of time in the cold in the past three years and never had a reaction like this. I hope this is something she will grow out of as we like to spend a lot of time in colder weather, but if it compromises her health we obviously won't be.

So, those of you who live back east..any suggestions of other items I should be purchasing to ensure that none of my daughter's overly sensitive skin is exposed?

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Friday, December 12, 2008

The Year of the Goat

When my husband and I first met he had one of those terrorist looking goatees. You know the kind I mean. It was big and bushy and hung down way past his chin. It was sexy. Really. It was. Shortly thereafter he grew a beard (which he did every winter), but kept it neatly trimmed. Every spring he'd shave off the beard and then keep a closely trimmed goatee. I loved it. I think facial hair done appropriately is sexy and I particularly like it on my husband. He looks so much more rugged and manly as opposed to when he is clean-shaven.


Then, almost three years ago, he took a job where he was not allowed facial hair except for a mustache. My husband is able to pull off many looks when it comes to facial hair; he is a facial hair chameleon...beards, goatees, sideburns, a variety of patterns in between. However, he cannot pull off a mustache. He looks like an 80's porn star or a highway patrol man from Super Troopers. Neither is attractive. So, he has spent the past three years clean shaven and while I have gotten used to it, I have long missed the days of my sexy, rugged man.


Well, those days are back. "The goat" (as my husband calls his goatee) is making its return. He has a great new job (thankfully) and they have no facial hair restrictions. Imagine my bliss. It's a bit sad that something like the return of facial hair (his, not mine...haha) can truly make my week, but it does.


So, what's your preference? Ladies, do you like your men clean shaven, hairy, somewhere in between? And men...do you prefer to be clean shaven or sport some type of facial hair?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Children Should Not Be Heard or Seen

When my husband and I take our children out to eat we are always very careful to pick restaurants that are kid friendly, a little noisy, and get the food out fairly quickly. We're both always really cognizant of other diners and make sure our children behave appropriately, which 99.9 percent of the time they do. On the rare occassions they do act up (they = our son) we take them out immediately. I realize not all parents are this considerate or aware and I realize that many diners have little to no patience for children, period.

Tonight after my daughter's dance class we went out to eat with my sister, brother-in-law, their four children, and another friend and her four children. So, there were 5 adults total and 10 children. We were a large group. We went to a very casual, kid-friendly restaurant and sat in a large table away from other patrons. All of the children were great. They sat in their chairs, weren't running around the restaurant or being loud, noisy, or generally inappropriate. However, any group of 15 is going to make some noise in just normal conversation. It was shocking to me the disgust and intolerance that one older couple very visibly and repeatedly displayed.

Throughout the entire time we were waiting for our food, which was not long and during the entire time we ate, which for the most part was silence since there was food in everyone's mouth, they just glared at us, shaking their heads, acting mortified that we would dare take our children in public and not keep them locked in the cages they apparently felt we should have kept them in.

I have very little tolerance or patience with that type of rudeness and on many occassions I find myself either starting back until they break eye contact or saying something to them. Tonight I did the former on more than one occassion. I don't know when people got so snooty about having children in kid-friendly environments. It would be one thing if we were taking them to fine dining. It would also be an issue if the children were actually misbehaving. It's quite another when we went to the equivalent of sit-down fast food and all ten of the kids were in a seat, quiet, and eating. Apparently our offense was that we dared to take our children out in public.

It's those types of people that I really would love to just curse at, but because I am with my children when we have these types of incidents I refrain. Has anyone else experienced this?

Time to Turn on the Heat

I enjoy the cold. I love being bundled up and under blankets, getting nice and cozy. For that reason we avoid turning the heat on in our house as long as possible. If we didn't have children my husband and I would probably keep it off a lot longer than we do. However, when I shivered all night long and woke up this morning to see that my house was 57 degrees inside I decided it was time to crank up the heat. I'm still waiting to defrost.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let the Christmas Parties Begin

We attended a Christmas party hosted by a local publishing company last night. In Arizona, Mariachi bands are a huge deal and so accordingly the entertainment was a Mariachi band consisting of 1st through 5th graders. My daughter was mezmerized. She sat there listening intently for the entire performance, which lasted quite a long time.
There was plenty of food (catered by a popular Mexican restaurant here in town, of course), beer, and margaritas, and prickly pear punch for the kids. Does it get any better? One of the cool parts was the fact that they opened their warehouse and let people peruse the books and buy them if they felt so inclined. When we walked in my daughter asked me, "Mommy is this Costco?" The owner heard and said, "Well, it's like a Costco for books."
We got some great books for the kids and it was a night well spent. Anyone else started attending the obligatory Christmas parties yet, either for business or pleasure?

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Great "Weekend"

Our daughter at the Deer Farm petting the goats. Our son trying to climb out the window of the train.
Our daughter feeding the deer.
The kids riding in Santa's sleigh.
The light display at the train depot.
I'll start by simply saying that we had a great "weekend." Really, I couldn't have asked for it to have gone better, which is saying a lot. We left Sunday morning for a four to five hour drive up north. Our daughter is a wonderful traveller. She's easily entertained and no problem whatsoever. Our son we were not so sure about. Previous car trips have been disastrous because he screamed the majority of the way, which only stressed me out and then I'm in a bad mood, which only makes him cry harder. So, we were hoping for the best but totally expecting the worst. He was absolutely perfect though the entire 4 1/2 hours. We only stopped once for lunch and he didn't cry a bit.

When we got to Williams we checked into our hotel and then did a little bit of "hiking." The weather was cold, but gorgeous. The high was around 45 degrees, but bundled up was actually rather enjoyable. I was even able to take my daughter into town for just some girl time while my husband and son took a nap. It was nice to walk around and do some shopping and just enjoy the conversation without the interruption of having to split attention between two kids.

That evening we went down to the train depot about an hour and a half before our train ride was scheduled to depart so the kids could walk through all the lights and see the displays. My son has a love affair with horses and there were three of them pulling carriages. So he was in hog heaven. At 8 pm we boarded the train and headed off to the "North Pole." The kids had a blast and were thrilled when Santa boarded and gave all the children a bell. While our son was good he did not sit still the entire time. He would sit, then stand, then climb off his seat and the process just repeated. He has confirmed every concern we have about flying with him. (My parents are moving to DC in a few weeks and we have plans to visit them...apparently no time soon, though). There's a portion of the train ride where you are instructed to open your windows. The train has slowed by this point but is still moving. Our son made an instant attempt to climb out the window which about gave me a heart attack. I should mention that prior to boarding he flipped himself over the chain railing and cut his head so all I had were visions of him falling out of the train and splitting his head open even further.

The next morning we went and met my sister, her husband and my nieces and nephews (who were coming up to ride the train the following day) at a Deer Farm. There were goats, deer, reign deer, camels, and a variety of other animals that you essentially walk amongst and feed. It was a pretty cool experience and both of our kids loved it.

The ride home was great again and both kids actually slept about an hour of the ride. It was nice because my husband and I were able to just talk about some upcoming changes in our lives and just joke around. We were in no real rush to get back so we stopped at some of the outlet malls along the way and I was able to get some cute clothes for the kids and some dress/work pants for my husband. Unfortunately, nothing for me. Isn't that always how it ends up?

Anyway, how was your weekend or early part of the week? Any plans for this week?










Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Dilapidated Gingerbread House and My Pretty Sugar Cookies

A few months ago I bought a Gingerbread House Kit for my daughter and I to put together. I forgot about it until my husband reminded me of it this morning. So, my daughter and I set out to make the ultimate Gingerbread House. What I didn't factor into the equation was my son. He simply wanted to help, but at 18 months isn't the most gentle. Also, as my daughter was using the candy to decorate the house and the walk way and the trees my son was grabbing the candy and eating it. To complicate matters I broke the tree, thus requiring me to try to glue it back together in four different pieces and then still praying it would stand upright upon completion (it did; the mission was successful). We finally had it all done and ready to move when my son came and smacked his huge hand down on the roof splitting it in two. That also was fixed hours later as I glued it back together, let it sit, and then remounted it back on the top of the house. So, it's put together completely, but it is a rundown looking gingerbread house.

Later this evening I was talking with my husband and I used the term "dilapidated". My daughter asked what it meant. I explained the meaning to her and finished with, "so when something is beat up looking or run down." She said, "Like our gingerbread house?" Yes, exactly like that!

On a brighter note I made sugar cookies tonight, had my daughter use cookie cutters to shape them, and then also had her decorate them. They turned out very tasty and very pretty looking as well. So one out of two ain't bad, my friends.

Anyone else started baking? How goes it for you?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sex With Dead People

I love Grey's Anatomy. It is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. However, I am so not diggin' the whole Izzy has sex with her dead fiance Denny thing or Izzy walks around the hospital in conversation with Denny. What the heck is going on?

Anyone else find this story line a bit odd?

Mess With The Bull...

My son was hospitalized last February. We paid the balance of his hospital bills months ago. For the past month we have received a series of phone calls from the hospital asking us to call them. We have, we leave messages, and then the process repeats. Today we get a notice claiming we owe $100 still and that we have ten days before they turn it over to collections.

When I called today to find out what the deal was, Cesar tells me that he was conducting an audit and noticed that someone else's $100 payment was credited to my account so he took it upon himself to deduct $100 from what we have paid. The problem is I have a paper trail of everything I paid and the $100 payment was our copay upon discharge.

So, he has erroneously taken our money and credited it elsewhere. Big mistake. I understand when mistakes are made and as long as they are corrected in a timely fashion I can move on. No harm, no foul. But when someone makes a mistake and acts like they didn't I'm poised to attack.

Cesar starts backpedaling when I tell him I have confirmation numbers, etc. of all payments made and that maybe he better redo his little audit before I file a police report for theft, contact the hospital's governing agency and exhaust all other legal recourses available to me. I told him I wanted printouts of daily activity from my account since February so that I can see when money came in and when money went out.

Apparently, he will have to get back to me as he was ill-prepared to do battle with the force that is one pissed off mommy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Hodgepodge of Randomness

* I love my ob/gyn. So much so that my husband made fun of me for soooo looking forward to my appointments with him when I was pregnant with my daughter and son. Well, I had to call him today and usually a nurse calls back to answer whatever questions or concerns I have. Today he called back (which he does occasionally) twice. Is it wrong that that made my day?

* My freshman year in high school we dissected these small sharks in biology class. I was mortified to discover that mine was pregnant and there were nine little baby sharks inside. I was heartbroken. That day at lunch I remember eating french fries but having the smell of formaldihyde (spelling) and shark still on my hands. (It did not come off for days no matter how hard I scrubbed). I couldn't eat french fries for about a year after that. Today I snuck a few of my daughter's fries from a restaurant and that smell came back and almost overpowered me. It was like I was heartbroken for that poor shark all over again (and queasy from the dead shark smell).

* I am used to not getting much sleep. I think all parents are. However, for the past month or so my husband and I have been operating on about 2-3 hours of sleep a night (another story for another blog post, I am sure). I seriously feel like I am ready to collapse. Not to mention that I am grouchy.

* When I tuck my daughter in at night she always asks, "Will you lay with me for a couple of minutes?" I almost always say, "Sure, but just for a couple of minutes." She then says, "Okay, but I really want you to lay with me for all of the minutes." Precious.

* We go on our train ride Sunday to the "North Pole." My son and daughter have spent days walking around the house chanting "North Pole, North Pole." (For my son it sounds more like "Nor Po"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Slacker

Here is what I needed to do today:
1. A load of laundry that consisted of clothes I need to pack for our weekend getaway.
2. Actually pack for both kids and myself (who are we kidding...my husband too) for said getaway.
3. Clean car to make room for all that is required to come along.
4. Go to Target to get kids mittens and son diapers.
5. Clean the stove
6. Organize my home office
7. Return library books

Here is what got done today:
1. I went to Target and got my daughter mittens and my son diapers. My son still needs mittens.
2. I returned 3 of the 6 library books. Forgot the other three at home. Huh? Not sure how that happened.
3. I did a load of my husband's work clothes, none of which are needed for our trip.

Apparently, very little of what I needed to do today got done. Tomorrow is jam packed so next to nothing will get done then so apparently it will all be crammed in Friday. It will get done; it always does....just something to stress about.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

He's "That" Kid

Our daughter has never had a bad reaction to an immunization in her life. She gets her shots and keeps on trucking. It doesn't even phase her. So, when our son came along we expected more of the same. Especially, because by comparison he is such a brute next to our daughter. Little did we know. He's the kid who when he received his MMR shot had such a horrible and frightening reaction that we rushed him to the doctor and she had to report him to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) because apparently only 4/10ths of 1 percent of the population had ever had that type of reaction.

Because of this, we have to make multiple trips to the doctor to get him immunized. With most kids they'll give 3 or 4 shots at a time, but with him they can only give one or two, wait for the reaction to die down and then return a week later for the rest of the batch. Yesterday he received a Hep A and Hep B shot (both of which he's received before). He didn't cry at all; he just looked at the nurse like, "Hey, what are you doing?" Last night he was really cranky and just not himself which we attributed as a side effect of the shot. In comparison to previous reactions it was nothing.

Then today he kept holding his arm and saying "ow". So, I went to change his shirt and when I took his shirt off his left arm from his shoulder down past where his elbow bends is horribly swollen, red, and hot to the touch. It is seriously 3x the size of his other arm. I was shocked. I called the doctor who said that a rash or redness is not unusual but what I was describing certainly was. So, for now we are to just watch it and call back tomorrow if it is not improving. He seems to be fine other than minor discomfort which is reassuring but I have to admit that I was pretty stunned when I saw the condition of his arm. Could they have not injected the shot correctly? Or is it just another one of his weird reactions? I don't know.

Do your children experience any strange reactions to immunizations?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Paper Man

There is a man who sells newspapers on the street corner that I pass everyday. He's probably in his 50's and you can tell that life has not been kind. He "lives" in a water passage tunnel under a bridge not far from where he sets up his newspaper stand every morning. For whatever reason I am drawn to him. Not in some weird, gross, twisted way. But drawn in the sense that I wonder what circumstances in his life have resulted in him not having a home or not having enough money for new clothes or food. I am also drawn to him because the guy busts his butt. He is out there as early as 7 am every single morning and out there as late as 8 or 9 pm....and he is always smiling and friendly. If that were how I had to spend my days I can assure you that I would not be so cheerful about it.

I buy a newspaper as frequently as I can for more than it costs and he is always so grateful and appreciative. Part of me wants to start taking him food everyday and I don't know why I haven't. It's weird. I just can't really explain why my heart breaks for him the way it does but maybe because I see him so frequently that he is not just some random guy on the street selling papers. As many know in our current economic climate, things can change and change quickly. One day you can be living high on the hog and the next you are looking at losing everything. Maybe that happened to him; maybe it was something for more sinister. Who knows? All I know is that I am sad for him.

It's times like these where I wish I'd win the lottery. I think of all I could do with the money. We'd certainly save the majority of it and put it in trusts for our children so they would be well taken care of. We'd also be generous with our family and friends. We'd pay off any debt and we'd certainly take a family vacation. But I never have envisioned us buying expensive cars or houses or blowing it on things we don't really need. I would like to think I'd donate a huge chunk of it to different charities and organizations (ones where the money actually went to them), but mostly I think I would just give it to those who needed it the most.

How would you spend lottery winnings and what are some things in our world that are weighing heavily on your heart these days?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Dream Whisperer

Our daughter is a very vivid dreamer. Not only that, but she can remember very minute details of her dreams for days and talks about them quite a bit. She gets that from me. Even as a kid I can remember having very realistic dreams where I would mull over them for days. To this day I remember quite vividly dreams I have or have had in the past. According to my parents I had horrible night terrors and while I haven't seen evidence of this in our daughter I am concerned that she might be headed that way. She talks a lot in her sleep and has often woken up, or seemingly woken up, crying and disoriented.

This morning she came into our room and woke me up. She told me that she loved me and would always take care of me. I didn't know where this was coming from other than that is something I tell her quite often. She then proceeded to tell me that yesterday I was broken and she had to pick me up in the hallway and glue me back together but that she was scared she wouldn't be able to fix me and then she'd have to have a new mommy and she didn't want a new mommy, she just wanted her "old, regular mommy."

After assuring her that I was fine and that I'd always be her mommy and no one else would ever have the pleasure of being her mom I thought all was well. However, she spent the remainder of the day telling anyone and everyone who would listen (thankfully, only family members) that her mommy was broken yesterday and she had to glue me back together. It's been interesting to say the very least. I'm sure as with all things at this age it will pass, but I just wish I could get inside their heads sometimes.

Anyone else experience anything like this before?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Holiday Season is Upon Us

Well, today started out like any other normal day. My husband went to work and the kids and I played at home for most of the day. When the day began I had no intention of fully preparing for Christmas. I thought we'd take some walks, play in the backyard, visit my grandmother, and call it a day. However, this evening we went out to run some errands, do a little grocery shopping, and pick up some odds and ends for my daughter's ballet recital. Then we saw it. A Christmas tree lot. It was as if it were calling to me. My daughter saw it too and was instantly drawn. We couldn't resist. My husband and I looked at each other like, "Should we?". The answer was "yes, we should."

For the past month we have talked about just getting a little tree this year. Something just for the kids...like a 4 footer. It would be so much easier to decorate and toss too. That was the plan. Yet, strapped to our car on the way home was a 7 foot tree (in our defense the price difference between the two was only $5 which seemed a little weird to me).

Our plan was to simply put the tree in the stand and decorate it and the rest of the house tomorrow. However, once my husband set it up I couldn't resist. Out came the new LED lights (old school bulb style too....that's how we roll), followed by the decorations, stocking holders and stockings. Then I dug out the Christmas books I read to the kids only during the month of December. By the looks of our house you would think it was Christmas tomorrow. We are ready. The only thing missing are the gifts, which (gasp) I have yet to wrap. (I'm a little behind schedule this year).

In any event, now all we have left to do is to decorate our front yard and if my daughter's excitement is any indication it will be completed tomorrow. I love Christmas time for a variety of reasons, but mostly I love to see how excited my children get over little things like Christmas lights, or a Nativity scene, or Santa Claus. The unabashed excitement by both my son and daughter tonight was priceless and well worth the effort of decorating on the fly.

Snapshots of My Weekend

My son and daughter hugging each other on Thanksgiving morning.


Me, my daughter, and my parents' dog on their deck waiting for family photos to be taken.

My son did not like the snow falling into my hair. He spent the evening furiously trying to pick it all out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What up Cuz

The other day I invited my almost 3 year old niece over to play with my daughter for a few hours. They get along great and I figured it would be a nice change of pace for my daughter. Sure enough they played together fantastically. In fact, they went into my daughter's room, closed the door and proceeded to play in her play kitchen and her Rose Petal Cottage for the next two hours.

Every time I would peek in to check on them my daughter would sigh and say, "Mom, please get out" and then close the door in my face. Likewise she would not let her brother in (which in this case is fine because she does need her own playtime with her own friends). They finally came out because they were hungry.

So, tonight we went to a local outdoor shopping mall because they manufacture fake snow and blow it out of huge machines to give the impression that it is snowing as you walk around. My sister, brother-in-law and their children came as well and my daughter and niece spent the entire night walking hand in hand. When it was time to leave my niece went and asked her mom if my daughter could spend the night (which she hasn't done before) and when the answer was no my daughter then came to ask if her cousin could come over "for just a little bit" tonight. Again, the answer no.

I swear the way they asked and then reported back to each other sounded like sixteen year olds exasperated with their parents for not allowing one to spend the night at the others. I wonder what it will sound like when they are actually sixteen....like, oh. my. gosh.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let It Snow, Please...

Last year we took our children on a train ride called The Polar Express. I think I have mentioned this trip before. Anyway, Santa comes aboard and gives every child a bell and then hot chocolate and a cookie and then you ride the train for about an hour or so while looking at lights and displays all the way to the North Pole where you then see all the little elves furiously wrapping presents to load on Santa's sleigh. My daughter loved it and has talked non-stop about it since. (We are Christmas fanatics in our household; this is merely the tip of the iceberg).

As Christmas has approached she has been telling her brother all about the train ride and what happens and he nods and claps in excitement as if he too remembers, despite being only 6 months old at the time last year. Well, one of her favorite aspects of the trip was the snow. We live in Arizona so we don't see much snow. But Flagstaff, a city to our North, gets plenty of snow during the winter time. We went a week before Christmas last year and arrived a few days after their first snow. There was a ton of snow on the ground. It came up to my knees and we had a great time playing in the freezing cold.

We are going on the train ride again next weekend and while she is jazzed about Santa and the bell and the train itself, she is equally stoked about the snow. One problem: it probably won't be snowing yet. I have not had the heart to break this news to her yet in the hopes that snow will soon fall, but it appears to be unlikely. I've turned into an old person constantly checking the weather forecast for any possible changes or to see if there is a chance a storm front might move it. I even have the NOAA site bookmarked and am getting weather alerts on my phone (I know, a bit obsessive).

Regardless of the snow I am sure we will have a great time, but it really would be nice to have some snow for the holidays. We don't have many opportunities to bundle up (pretty much only the month of January) so I feel that I have to take advantage whenever I can.

On that note, hope you all have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Time To Be Thankful

With so many struggling it seems like a strange time to be thankful. People are losing their jobs, their homes, and the lives they have built. As with a lot of families we, too, have had to make changes to our lifestyle: some subtle and some drastic. Our generation is in unchartered waters. Most of us weren't affected by past recessions because we were either not born or too young. It's easy to lose sight, when things are seemingly going so wrong, of the blessings we have been granted. There are many things I am thankful for.

I am thankful that I have a family that I love and that loves me. I am thankful that we are all healthy (knock on wood). I think of parents who watch their children die, struggling to figure out a way to pay for treatment. I think of mothers fighting terminal cancer knowing that they will never see their children grow up and it just about kills me. I think of families who have loved ones overseas fighting in a war, not knowing if they will ever see them again. I think of those with no families, no support system and wonder how they get by, how they function.

With Thanksgiving just a few days away it seems to me to be a good time to reflect on all that is good in our lives. Even those in the midst of despair or on the verge of losing everything have at least one thing to be thankful for, I would bet.

What are you most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

The Fat Girl

This is me on Christmas Day 2007 (the fat one). Pictures don't lie and it's depressing to see I really was that fat.
This is me on October 2008 (30 pounds lighter). I think I still need to lose another 10-15, but at least I'm not the fat girl anymore...not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is nice to fit into smaller sized clothing and be in better shape and lead a more active lifestyle.

My Bliss

I had an 8 am meeting this morning that I almost missed because I slept through my alarm. That is something I never do, but speaks volumes about the type of night I had with a son who wouldn't sleep. Needless to say, I jumped out of bed, dressed very quickly and ran out the door, making it with time to spare. Thank God for no traffic and hitting every green light.

Anyway, after the meeting I did something that I can't remember doing at all in the past four years. I went to breakfast by myself. There were no children who needed their food cut, no one fighting to sit on my lap, no spills, and no interruptions. It was pure, unadulterated bliss!

I really do need to get out more......alone.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pictures of Home

Santa brought the snow to Arizona!!! My son (in green) wasn't quite sure what to think. My daughter (on the right in pink mittens and polka dot ski hat) loved it.
His sister picked out his outfit...hat included. Charlie Brown?

This is a permanent state of being for my son. He is always looking in the fridge for something to eat. He usually comes away with string cheese or an apple. At least he's consistent.




Friday, November 21, 2008

Time for a Time-Out

You ever have those days where they just simply can't be over fast enough? Today was one of those days. It was long and frustrating and busy. I'll spare you the specifics but I will say that I am glad the day is almost over. It just seemed like nothing went right.

Oh, yeah and it was my husband's birthday. He was busy most of the morning with meetings (what a fun way to spend a birthday) but was fortunately home early and we presented him with his gifts and the cupcakes my daughter and I baked for him last night.

So after a day like today where I feel like I've been hit by a truck, run over and then backed over I was looking forward to just being lazy tomorrow. My husband has to work but I figured the kids and I could stay in our pajamas until noon and just hang out. Then I realized I am supposed to cover 3 events tomorrow all back to back to back, which means I'll be driving all over the city from 8 am until close to 2 pm with two kids in tow. Good times. So much for my lazy Saturday.

In the realm of things it is really not that big of a deal. Everyone is overextended and exhausted these days. I'm just tired, though. Physically, mentally, and any other way it is possible to be utterly exhausted. I need a break and the reality is that I never get one and I envision that only getting worse with various personal and professional demands and committments my husband and I have both made for the upcoming year.

So, now that my pity party has come to a conclusion, tell me what is on your agenda for the weekend?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Truth of the Matter

I have been a stay at home mom since July of 2005 and I love it. It is one of the most rewarding, albeit thankless, jobs that I have ever had. And certainly the hardest. There are no lunch breaks or even bathroom breaks, at least not ones where I get to go to the bathroom alone. I don’t get to leave my work at the office and my "clients" think nothing of waking me up all throughout the night. Oh, and I do it all for free. No paycheck. Being a mother (stay at home or working or somewhere in between) is hard work.

At the end of September I accepted a job writing articles for an online publication. I have fortunately been able to do most of this from home or at least bring the kids with me when covering certain events. This past week I received my first paycheck. It has been a long time since I received a paycheck and I have to admit it was slightly more rewarding than I thought it was going to be.

Having some type of tangible reward for work performed, receiving that type of recognition is nice. Don’t get me wrong. I love being with my children, but it is nice to see that I still have some value and worth that doesn’t simply revolve around only being a mom. It should not have taken a paycheck to reinforce that with me. My value and self-worth are wrapped up in a variety of aspects of my life…my family, my friends, my relationships, my beliefs and values, and apparently my work outside the home.

How about you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Santa's Hos

My daughter's December ballet recital is appropriately a Christmas show, which means we have been inundated with Christmas songs for the past three months. (No complaining here, I absolutely love Christmas music). One of the songs begins, "Ho, Ho, Ho, Ho, Ho, Ho we are Santa's Elves." Today, while driving, she says, "Hey mom I want to listen to 'We are Santa's Hos.'" That's an interesting take. I'm starting to wonder what really goes on in her dance class.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Bit of a Break

A few days ago my daughter asked if she could go to "old" grandma's (my grandmother) to get away from her "snotty brother" as she put it. Granted, her brother has been a bit of a handful lately so I asked my grandmother if it would be okay to drop her off one afternoon so she could have some "alone time."

Tuesday I dropped her off and she could not get rid of us fast enough. She was pushing us out the door. This is the daughter that is normally in tears if I go anywhere without her. Apparently, she had had enough of her brother. She'd reached her limit.

I headed back home with my son to kill a few hours before going back to pick her up. My daughter apparently had a fantastic time. My son on the other hand spent the entire car ride home patting his sister's car seat and calling her name. When we got home he spent a good 20 minutes going from room to room calling for her. He seemed lost almost...like he didn't know what to do without her.

Finally, after enough distraction he realized he had me all to himself so we played and read and otherwise did what we normally do. With the normal chaos of two kids all the time I forgot how nice it is to be able to just focus on one kid....even if it is only for a few hours.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Three Books Worth the Read

Since having children rare is the time I actually have to read during the day or even evenings. So, I've taken to staying up, past when I really should, in order to actually finish a book. In the past month or two I have read three books that were worth the lack of sleep.


1. For One More Day by Mitch Albom; The story explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? Charley Benetto loses everything and plans to commit suicide. He begins a drive to his small hometown and ends up in a terrible car accident. He ends up somehow in his childhood home, talking to the mother he had lost years earlier. Charley ends up learning things about his mother and their family that he had never known before. He realizes how much she sacrificed for him. This book is touching and encapsulates all that mothers are willing to do or sacrifice in order to give their children the lives they think their children deserve.



2. The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd: I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, but it turned out to be fantastic. It is set in South Carolina in the early 1960's. A young girl flees her father's home (her mother died when she was young) with her black housekeeper after the housekeeper insults one of the biggest racists in town and seeks refuge with a group of black beekeeping sisters. They once knew her mother and Lily, the main character, learns much about her mother's past.....some of it very painful. It was a terrific book about the bond between women, specifically the bond between mothers and daughters, even if those mothers are "stand ins" and not biological. One of my favorite lines from the book that really encapsulates the overall feelings of Lily was, "The first week at August's was a consolation, a pure relief. The world will give you that once in a while, a brief timeout; the boxing bell rings and you go to your corner, where somebody dabs mercy on your beat up life." Isn't that the truth?


3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: For whatever reason I passed this book over at least a dozen times. It never really seemed that interesting to me based on the jacket description. However, I was at the library a week ago and I decided to grab it. I stayed up until 2:30 am last night just to finish it. It was that powerful. Hauntingly so. It is set in Afghanistan and tells the story of two young boys, Amir and Hassan. What ultimately ensues sets both on a path that will alter their lives forever. Amir will have to learn how to let his overwhelming guilt go and seek redemption in one of the most selfless of ways, by returning to his war-torn home in Kabul to rescue a young boy. There was page after page of insighful observations, but this stuck with me: "Perspective was a luxury when your head was constantly buzzing with a swarm of demons."


Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

When Does It Get Easier?

Does it ever get easier? A friend of mine asked me this question the other day as she just had her second baby a few months ago. My immediate gut reaction was "NO!" When I could tell I may have frightened her a bit I began to back track and think about the ways things might be getting easier. Unfortunately, I was hard pressed to come up with something concrete that she believed.

Here's the thing. My 3 year old daughter is pretty easy most of the time. She's self-sufficient. She can go to the bathroom by herself, dress herself, feed herself, play by herself, yada yada. Obviously I help her at times and play with her often but if push came to shove she could entertain herself for hours alone. When my son was an infant I thought it was hard because he nursed all the time (and he's still nursing) and always wanted to be held. If I put him down he'd cry and I'd often have to interrupt playtime with my daughter to console a screaming baby. Now that he's 17 months old he has a personality of his own. He has strong likes and dislikes and knows what he wants. Often times that is in direct conflict with what my daughter wants. The battle begins and fighting ensues. Because he is still only 17 months and doesn't understand the way my daughter does she is often the one having to give in to broker a peace treaty. It's not fair and I know it, but sometimes you do desperate things to get a few moments of quiet.

I think when you have two strong willed children and they are both at an age that is capable of exerting that strong will, things become difficult and stay difficult until they are both at an age where they fully (or at least better) understand compromise and taking turns and sharing. My son just isn't there yet.

So, to answer the question more completely. For me, things have not gotten easier yet. In many ways they are harder. But I do think when my son is a bit older (more my daughter's current age) things will be much easier. So, in that regards I believe that yes, things do get easier.

What has been your experience? When does it get easier?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Check This Out

If you get a chance please visit www.moxymamabooks.blogspot.com. I'd love any suggestions you may have. Thanks and have a great weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quick Hits

* I'm a pretty casual dresser (jeans and t-shirts or khakis and sweaters)and since I stay home with the kids there are not many occassions that call for professional dress. Today I had to go and teach a class, which is the first outside the house job I've had since having children. Obviously, I dressed professionally and as I was leaving my daughter gasps and puts her hands up to her mouth and says, "Oh mommy, you just look soooooo beautiful in that." It was enough to melt my heart.

* One of my writing jobs for an online publication is to cover local events and activities, photograph them and then write a brief article. Nine times out of ten I attend these alone with both children. What could be a simple 30 minutes becomes a two hour event loading and unloading children, strollers, etc. It's nice that I have the flexibility to take my kids to "work" and then work from home to complete the article, but it is also a royal pain in the butt much of the time.

* One of our neighbors has already started decorating his house for Christmas. This is a guy who goes all out. He puts the Griswold's to shame. My daughter loves it. We have to walk down the street every night to see the lights and displays and since it is still under construction there is something new each night for her to "ooh" and "aah" over.

* I've lived in Arizona almost my entire life. I am still not used to the heat. I hate that it is November and still 80 degrees. It just seems wrong. If the opportunity presented itself I'd move back east in a heartbeat. The one saving grace that Arizona possesses is its Mexican food. I've traveled all over and there is not a state that comes close. It is the one thing I would greatly miss if I were ever to move.

* It is 7:40pm. Both kids are asleep. This NEVER happens. I am logging off and am going to go read and watch some TV.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Return

I taught high school English for 5 years before becoming a mom. I never had a problem speaking in front of a class; in fact, I was quite comfortable doing so. One thing I used to hate though was teaching to my peers during professional development classes. It made me nervous and it truly couldn't end fast enough.

Tomorrow I return to a classroom for the first time in almost four years. It's to teach a mock LSAT prep class....in front of other teachers. My peers. Teaching an actual prep class to actual students wouldn't cause me to lose a moment's sleep, but knowing that my "students" tomorrow will be other instructors, some much more experienced than myself, is a bit nerve racking.

So at noon MST tomorrow if you'd be so kind as to please send positive vibes my way and hope for my sake that I don't choke, sweat profusely, turn splotchy red (which I have a tendancy to do when nervous or embarassed), or otherwise flat out embarass myself, I'd be greatly appreciative.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oh, the Horror

I have a history of lower back problems dating back to my college basketball playing days. I used to have to spend hours in the training room getting treatment and stretched before practices or games and then hours after practices or games getting stretched, more treatment, and then iced. When I was done playing I had hoped the back problems would get better and overall they have. However, every couple of months my lower back will go out and render me completely helpless. Back in my pre-kid days I would wait it out in bed. However, that really isn't an option anymore so I pretty much just have to find a way to get mobile and ignore the excruciating pain.

A few days ago I could feel some soreness in my back. Being the moron I am I decided to go ahead and go to the gym anyway and proceed with my usual exercise routine which consists of running (on a treadmill) for 20-30 minutes and then lifting weights. Stupid move. By tonight I couldn't get off the floor. In fact I am still laying on the floor as I type this. I am in horrible pain to the point where I am sick to my stomach. For whatever reason running sometimes sets it off...I just never know exactly when.

Anyway, there is really no point to this rambling other than to say I am praying for relief....or death, whichever comes first at this point.

Keychains and Kitchens

Against my better judgment I went to Walmart yesterday in search of a simple keychain. My current keychain has a broken clasp and my keys keep falling off. Apparently, keychains are hard to come by in Arizona...they have them in every other state we vacation in. Anyway, I walked in and saw a Hispanic woman putting merchandise on the shelves. I assumed she spoke English since she was in a position to interface with customers. Here is the conversation that ensued...(I swear I could not make this stuff up).

Me: Excuse me, do you guys carry keychains?
Her: Keychains? (she repeated but looked very puzzled)
Me: Yes, keychains.
Her: (very long pause...slowly and haltingly she begins to speak) Like you cook in the kee-chin (kitchen)
Me: No, no keychain (and I take out my keys to show her)
Her: Oh (a look of recognition flashes over her face) I not know.
Me: Okay, thanks.

In relaying this to my husband he says, "That's like one of those jokes. You need to blog about this."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Think I Won....

Back in August I took my wedding ring in for a routine cleaning and to have one of the prongs replaced. Over the course of the cleaning and repair there was damage done to the ring. (You can read all about it here and here). Long story short they kept trying to fix it but in doing so did further damage and ended up dispersing the platinum so much on my engagement ring that it ended up less than half the width it was originally. After the 9th attempt, while trying to mitigate our damages, we refused to let them work on it further and instead asked them to pay for another jeweler to fix it. They refused. We then asked them to replace the ring, which they basically laughed at and most certainly refused. We ended up having to sue them.

We filed the claim in small claims hoping to resolve it with minimal hassle and fees (and without the need of involving lawyers) The jeweler went out and hired one of the most high powered law firms in our state (purely to try to intimidate me, I am sure) and here in Arizona if either party requests a transfer out of small claims it is automatically granted (despite the fact that the amount we were suing for was under the small claims maximum). We could not afford a lawyer so I got stuck representing myself -- with quite a bit of free counsel from my lawyer brother, who unfortunately resides in another state or you bet your ass I would have made him represent me.

Anyway, we've been dealing with the legalities since September and I guess once they saw we weren't just going away and saw that we proceeded with all the paperwork to set the court date then they wanted to try to settle, which frankly is what we wanted anyway. Long story short, they eventually (after quite a bit of back and forth) agreed to replace my wedding band and engagement ring (I would just have to have my center diamond reset into the new ring). I, in turn, would dismiss the case with prejudice and without cost or fees to either party.

I got my new ring at the end of last week. Set side by side with the original that they damaged (yet, of course, will admit no fault) it is incredible the amount of damage that was done....I knew it was bad, but to see it next to what my ring was supposed to look like took my breath away. I'm still going to take it to an independent jeweler to have it looked at, just to be sure and then sign the stip and order for dismissal. So, it appears this will soon be over; one less headache to have to deal with.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Free Books

I read about this pretty cool opportunity on Mark's blog. Basically you apply to this site and you can request books from the select list they provide. You then read the book, provide a review of the book on your site and on a consumer site, such as Amazon, and you then get to keep the book. Once the two reviews are posted you can request your next book.

So, I signed up and was approved. Today I got to choose from a selection of only about 7 books (two of which were children's books though). I reluctantly selected the Lynne Spears book...although I admit I am a little bit curious about what goes on in that family.

Anyway, I am now awaiting my book. I think the next time I may request a children's book. I figured it is a great way to get free books, not to mention being exposed to books I might otherwise have overlooked.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Running On Empty

I have spread myself very thin lately and it is beginning to take its toll. I'm tired and grouchy and did I mention tired? My husband is working a lot as usual but to now compound that I am working from home and it is hard to do that when I have two small children. Not much gets done. Plus when I do set aside time to work I feel guilty about not interacting with my kids for an hour or so...even though they are usually perfectly fine and occupied doing something else. (That is until there is some major crisis that errupts sending both of them into hysterics).

I am also currently considering taking a job teaching LSAT prep courses. It would only be 7 hours a week (spread out over 2-3 days) and something that could most likely be arranged around my husband's schedule. Plus it pays well. I'm not sure I really even want to do it, but I might.

The problem is I think I got a bit over eager and said yes to too many "jobs" when I should have just accepted one or two and focused on those. Now I feel like I don't have enough time for anything and I spend my days with our children (which I am blessed to do and totally fine with) and running our household but my nights are now spent working. That doesn't leave much time to sleep or do anything else for that matter.

How's everyone else feeling these days? Overworked? Underappreciated? Wonderful? Anywhere in between?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nemo and MacIntosh

We bought the kids a beta fish about a year or so ago. Everytime one would die we would just replace it with a new one before she noticed. Then my father built this pond in his backyard, complete with fish..gigantic gold ones. My daughter is obsessed. She feeds them, talks to them, test the ph of the water, etc. So, when our third beta died she said she wanted a gold and black fish "like grandpa." We honored the request and those two lasted quite a while. When my husband killed them (yes, he killed them...not intentionally but the result was the same) she didn't seem to notice. So, we gladly thought we were done with fish. Here we are a few months later and she has remembered that she once had fish. She asked me today why I made the fish leave our house. Uhhh.....

So, back to Petsmart we went and home we came with two goldfish. One is white and gold, the other black and gold. She has named them Nemo and MacIntosh. Where she came up with Nemo is very clear, but I have no idea where MacIntosh came from, but she is insistant that that is his name. So, Nemo and MacIntosh it is.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Feminist in the Making

About 8 to 10 months ago I took my two children to a Hillary Clinton rally. My daughter had a great time chanting, "Hillary, Hillary" at every available opportunity and still, this many months later, she talks about Hillary like they are old friends. So, today she saw Barak Obama on the news and I asked her if she knew who that was. Here is the conversation that followed.
Her: "That's Barak OMama."
Me: "That's right. He's going to be our new President."
Her: "I'm not going to like him."
Me: "Mommy and Daddy like him. You might like him too."
Her: "I like the girl better."
Me: "What girl?" (I'm thinking 'oh please don't let her say Palin')
Her: "Hillary. I like Hillary better than Barak OMama"
Me: "Well, you can like Hillary better if you want."
Her: Runs through the house with her fist in the air chanting, "Hillary, Hillary."

Dogs on the Loose

My children love animals, dogs in particular. We have a dog and at one point not long ago we had two dogs. My parents have a dog who my children adore and my uncle has a huge, but friendly, rottweiler who my children have recently grown attached to. (My daughter loves her because she looks like Carl). So, needless to say they are not afraid of dogs and I would like to keep it that way. A traumatic childhood experience with an animal can make one fearful for life and that is the last thing I would want.

This evening my husband and I took our children for a walk around our neighborhood. As we rounded a corner three big dogs charged us. I picked up my daughter and held her over my head and my husband did the same with our son. The owner yells over, "Oh, they're friendly; they just want to play" and proceeds, in no great hurry, to try to round them up. She manages to get two dogs back on the leash when the third suddenly turned back and lunged at my daughter (who was no longer over my head), scaring her badly. I was furious. The woman then said, "I really should get them back on a leash." It took every ounce of restraint in me not to choke her with the damn thing. The bigger part of me said, "Yes, you should. There are leash laws." She continued to let the third dog just run around as my husband and I stood there with our children.

I don't doubt that those dogs were friendly. I don't think they were lunging to attack. I think they were excited and wanted to play. However, they are unknown dogs to us and regardless of how wonderfully behaved we think animals to be, they are still animals and animals are unpredictable. Plus to a child, friendly or not, a dog twice his/her size coming at him/her is frightening.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Am Hopeful

I am one of the many who is glad that Obama prevailed and is our President-Elect. I am hopeful that he will live up to the hype and redirect our country back to the path that it has so drastically veered from these past 8 years. I watched anxiously as the polls closed in key states and celebrated when Obama clinched the battleground states that were so vitally important in winning this election. I watched McCain's gracious concession speech and thought that if he could have come across that humble and gracious throughout his campaign he would have stood a much better chance (although that doesn't change his stance on issues it maybe would have changed how some viewed him). I realize that while I am celebrating this victory there are many who are disappointed and beyond that angry and indignant and blinded by their party's propoganda.

This victory gives me a lot of hope. While I have great hope for Obama's presidency, I also have hope for the millions of Americans who are disappointed by this decision. I would hope that they would really look at what Obama has said and where he stands on the issues and not cling to the rhetoric that has been so prevalent throughout the campaign. I would hope that people would quit saying Obama plans to do one thing when he has very clearly said he'd do the other. I would hope that it would become less and less acceptable to so casually toss around words like, "terrorist, Muslim, socialist" as synonymous with Obama. I realize all candidates run on issues and promises that some either aren't able to keep, won't keep, or simply had no intention of every keeping. That's just the way it is whether you are a Republican, Democrat or somewhere in between. What has bothered me and what I would hope would now stop is the gross misrepresentation of Obama's plans when it comes to issues like taxes, healthcare, abortion, education, and the environment.

I have sat and listened to ignorant people claim that because he attended a Muslim school when he was a CHILD that certainly means he is a Muslim today. How can someone be held accountable for decisions that parents made for them when they were a minor? I have sat and listened to people tear apart his tax plan with gross inaccuracies. You may not agree with his plan, but at least get what he is proposing correct. Half the people complaining about having "their" money taken and given to the "poor" and "lazy" don't make enough to be affected by these increases anyway. I have sat and listened to conservative Christians claim Obama is "for" abortion. Is anyone "for" abortion, truly? Being against the government having a say in a personal and moral matter does not make someone "for" the issue at hand. There is a difference.

It was interesting to me during Bush's administration the number of Republicans who said all the time how Bush is our President and like it or not we should support his decisions and support him. For the most part I agree with that. While I personally thought Bush was one of the worst President's this country has ever seen and I disagreed with him on almost everything I always had respect for the office he held and would never wish him any personal harm or misfortune. It will be even more interesting if this sentiment of respect and support is now expressed when there is a man in office who they did not vote for. Does the same courtesy apply?

This campaign and election has brought out both the best and worst in people. It is amazing to me to think about how many people voted this year. It is mind-boggling that a black man will soon hold the highest office in the land when it was not that long ago that a black man could not even vote. I am hopeful tonight that this nation can find a way to come together, to meet somewhere in the middle and start finding solutions to the problems that have plagued us for so many years. We need a president who can do that and honestly I think we will soon have him.

Here's to hoping, America!

In Lieu of an Actual Post

* I have been anxious all day to learn of the election results. So much is riding on this.
* After a month break from the gym due to illness, work demands, and a variety of other reasons I returned today in the hopes to lose my final 10-15 pounds before the New Year. It felt great!
* If I say the word "cry" my 17 month old son says, "Mama" in his whiniest voice and contorts his face into the saddest look before cracking up laughing.
* My son got into my grandmother's blood pressure medication today. It was our first call to poison control. Fortunately, all ended up okay, but it was a scary couple of hours.
* My husband was putting books back on my daughter's bookshelf when she walked in and told him he wasn't doing it right. She then said, "What are we going to do with you? Daddy we might just have to sell you."

On that note, have a great night and by this time tomorrow we should have a new President-Elect

Monday, November 3, 2008

Picture Diary of the Celtic Festival

As mentioned in a previous post we attended the Celtic Festival yesterday. Below are some pictures from the day.

My daughter in the Petting Zoo area. Here with a Shetland Pony. This lady was a wonderful dancer. My daughter kept referring to her as "Freckleface Strawberry" (in reference to the book with the same name) and declares that when she turns 4 (the minimum age they'll accept) she wants to "do Irish dancing."
The shot put in times of yore.
Get a load of this menu. Interesting. I think Sarah Palin helped create it.
The bagpipers during opening ceremonies.










Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Weekend By the Day

FRIDAY: Good ol' Halloween. We got things started off right by attending a live performance by the BoDeans. They were fantastic and truly I had chills throughout much of the performance. They are one of those rare bands where they actually sounded more incredible live than they do on CD. After spending a couple hours at the "concert" we came home and spent some time playing outside. I was even able to convince both kids to sleep since I knew we'd be up late trick or treating and I wanted to avoid a public meltdown. That evening we headed over to my sister's house and had dinner and then hit the pavement at 6 pm to begin trick or treating. My daughter and niece (separated by only 5 months) went as Cinderella and Tinkerbell, respectively. They went hand-in-hand to each home all night. Very precious. Once my daughter's bag got full, though, she declared that she had enough candy and was done. My son also had a great time stopping frequently to admire all the decorations. The people got a kick out of him constantly saying, "Tank ooh" for "Thank you." So, by 7:45 pm we went back to my sisters' to get the kids in their pj's. They played with their cousins for a while and then we headed home and kids were out by 9:30....not too bad for an eventful night.


SATURDAY: My husband had to work so I spent most of the day playing, reading and watching Tinkerbell with the kids. Later in the evening we attended a wine tasting, which was a much needed change in pace from what our frenetic pace of late has been.


SUNDAY: Girls Day (and a grandpa)! I wanted to take my daughter to a Celtic Festival and invited my folks to come along. My husband stayed home with our son for some man time. It was a blast. There were performances by Irish bands, Irish step dancers and Scottish highland dancers. There was great food, beer, wine, amd even mead. There was even a petting zoo, which my daughter loved. I have never seen so many men in skirts (yes, I know they are kilts) and frankly they were pretty sexy. Maybe that should become traditional men's wear. There were a variety of events that passed as games in times of yore. Really, it was a terrific time but it was outside and so incredibly hot. I spent a few hours in the evening finishing up articles that I needed to submit to my editor and battled with computer issues that really make me just want to throw the damn thing out the window. I finally finished up the two articles I had looming over my head and called it a night.


So tell me how your weekend was spent?

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Political Soapbox

Everyone keeps saying that this election is the most important one in our lifetime and probably in many ways it is. We are at war, in an economic crisis, buried in debt, and the list of maladies afflicting this country goes on. When candidates began campaigning I was undecided, truly stumped as to who I would vote for. During the primaries I liked Bill Richardson for the Republican Party and John Edwards for the Democrats. Of course Edwards dropped out and there was the whole affair debacle and while I wasn’t a huge fan of Hillary I preferred her to Obama. Over time I began to like her more and while many viewed her husband as a hindrance I viewed him as an asset. After all, despite his moral and personal shortcomings, he was a great President and even though he would probably butt in it might not be such a bad thing to have his input now and then. However, since I am registered as neither a Republican nor a Democrat I would have been unable to vote in the primaries anyway.

So, when it became clear that our candidates were McCain and Obama I was disappointed and for the first time contemplated not casting a vote. Then I began to really pay attention. I wanted to learn everything I could about both candidates. I wanted to know their voting records in the Senate, where they stood on issues, what they had for breakfast, etc. I listened to what they said (and what they didn’t say) and ignored what each said about the other or what others said about them.

I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t love either candidate…still. However, to me it has become clear that Obama is a unifying force. I feel that McCain is divisive and I base that on the ads he has run recently, his body language and facial expressions during debates, and what he has said in a series of speeches which have grown more desperate and more attacking as election day draws near. I do not agree with every one of Obama’s ideas. In fact, there are some I wholeheartedly disagree with. However, for me it comes down to whom I agree with more. As time goes on there is less and less that I like or can even tolerate with McCain. His healthcare plan is most frightening and his tax plan or a variation thereof has proven to be ineffective in dealing with the current economic crisis.

There’s also the sense of calm around Obama’s campaign. There is not the frenzied flurry and often desperate and dramatic measures that seem to surround the McCain campaign. If the way each candidate has run his campaign is any indication of how each would run his White House I have to say that I prefer the calm resolve Obama has shown and not the chaotic panic demonstrated by McCain and Co.

I have taken some flak lately because I am not voting Republican. I am a Christian; I attend church regularly. My family and most of my friends hold similar Christian beliefs. Many Christians believe when it comes to Christianity and politics that you can’t be a Christian and vote anything other than Republican and that abortion is the ONLY issue. The rest are secondary.

As a teacher I rarely allowed research papers or position papers or debate topics to be on the issue of abortion because it is such a personal topic that inevitably someone would become offended or have their feelings hurt or just get outright mad. I would end up with a classroom of hysterical, teary-eyed, hormonal teenagers who, while they felt passionately one way or the other, could not articulate WHY they felt that way, let alone even fathom that there was another side to the issue.

In a lot of ways, many Christians are like those high school students. They refuse to acknowledge that someone can be a Christian and also a Democrat. Or they refuse to consider that someone can both be pro-choice and pro-life. It’s not as if these concepts and beliefs have to be mutually exclusive of one another. You can be both or all.

I do not think that anyone is truly pro-abortion (except maybe a few low-life degenerates). Nobody I know gets pregnant hoping for an abortion. I realize that abortion is often abused and some use it as a form of birth control. Truly, that makes me heartsick. I personally am pro-life. It is hard for me to believe that I would ever have an abortion (Don’t even ask me to speculate as to what I would do if I were a victim of rape or incest or my life was in danger while carrying a child because I would like to say I would never abort, but until one is in that situation no one really knows). However, for every other woman in America I am pro-choice. I don’t think it is the government’s place, right, or responsibility to govern or place mandates on morality. It bothers me that so many Christians (people ascribing to a similar or the same religious doctrines I believe) will vote for McCain SOLELY for this reason. Look, if you are a McCain supporter I begrudge you nothing. Vote your conscience and if you think he is the right man for the job then that is great. But don’t claim that in order to be a Christian you have to vote Republican and you have to vote on the issue of abortion alone. I have similar feelings towards those who will vote for Obama strictly because he is black or will not vote for him because he is black.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I do believe Obama will make a good President, not a perfect one by any means. And while I am sure McCain would do an okay job (well, I am not even really that sure) we need someone who will do more than just an okay job in our country’s time of crisis. We need someone to unite the parties and not divide them. My point is also that someone can be a Christian, a Democrat, pro-choice, and pro-life all at the same time and being one does not negate or invalidate being any of the others. So, on that note I encourage you all to vote next week, whether it is for McCain or Obama. Where I was once unsure of whom I would vote for, or if I would even vote, I am now confident and comfortable in my vote for Obama.