Monday, January 28, 2008

Pinewood Derby

Friday night we got to the check-in for the Pinewood Derby and Holden's car weighed in over the maximum allotted weight. Guess that's what I get for buying a cheapo scale from Walmart. Anyhow, after some adjustments to the car, we got it reweighed and it came in right at 5 ounces. We got to test run the car several times before we checked it in for the night.

Saturday rolled around and it was the perfect morning to be indoors with cold and rainy weather forecast. The derby was a lot of fun. Well at least during the first hour. By the time the second hour rolled around most of the kids and adults were starting to get a little restless. Two and a half hours after the start, the final winners were announced. Holden missed being third for his troop by a split second and unfortunately did not get a trophy. Although he was disappointed, I think he had fun. Next year, David has vowed to take first place and is starting the car much sooner. Sometimes, I wonder who's race it is supposed to be.

Here are a few pictures of the Derby.

Picture 1: Holden waiting patiently

Picture 2: Holden's car is the red and black one

Picture 3: Haley and Harrison watching the race

Friday, January 25, 2008

I just thought I would share.......

I can't wait until this album is released in the US on March 18. This woman has an incredibly powerful voice and the lyrics to this song are beautiful.

A few thoughts

I have been busy this week trying to finish up a baby album that I am giving as a gift at a baby shower on Sunday. Why I wait until the last minute to do these things is beyond me. Maybe I operate better under pressure? Yes that's it (good excuse anyhow). I am almost finished and I still have 48 hours to go! That's a new record for me as I am usually putting the finishing touches on things right before the event. It hasn't always been that way but somewhere along the line, I became a little bit overwhelmed and well here I am. So I haven't posted much this week although I have had a few things I would like to write about. So here's a little catch up......

On Wednesday evening, we were sitting at the table having dinner. Holden had been in a mood since he had gotten home from school. Homework was a struggle and he had fits off and on throughout the whole process (he tends to do that when he is frustrated). When he got up from the table after homework was done, Haley looked at me and shook her head and said "I don't know how you put up with that because he was even getting on my nerves". So anyhow, back to dinner... Holden went into another one of his fits, grunting and groaning about something. Harrison is staring at him like he had lost his mind when all of a sudden he blurts out "Holden, you need to get a new point of view and stop all that grunting (he made the noises Holden was making)". Amen, to that. Of course I think we all need to be told at one time or another that we need to get a "new point of view".

Fast forward to Thursday after school. As I have mentioned before, Holden has had some difficulty in school. It isn't from lack of knowledge or motivation because he has both. He just struggles with some areas such as writing and spelling. So yesterday when he came home with his report card we were thrilled to see that he had brought up his grades in just about everything. Included in his report card was a notice from the school concerning SAIL testing. SAIL is a program for the top tier of students (a gifted program). Anyhow, even though we had explained this to him, Holden had his hopes set on this program. When he found out that he didn't get in he was upset. He just laid his head on the table and cried. It broke my heart to see him so upset. No amount of telling him how good he had done in school, or that he would have another chance next year, seemed to soothe him. He finally worked it out himself but it was sad to see this kid who wants to do good, be upset because he failed to get into the gifted program. That's the hard part of being a mom. Seeing your child upset and not really being able to do anything about it.

Tonight David and Holden are heading to the weigh in for the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby. They have to finish up the car this afternoon. Again, the philosophy at my house is "why start early when you can wait until the last minute" (but this time it wasn't me). David was talking about car weight restrictions last night and I had a dumb blonde moment because I said "It shouldn't weigh much since it is made with balsa wood, right?". Yeah, guess that's why it's called the PINEWOOD Derby. So hopefully Holden will do well tomorrow. It would be nice to see him come in first at something. But either way, I hope he has fun. I will post pictures of his car after it's done.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Marching to the beat of a different drum

There is one in every family. I am talking about the child that marches to the beat of his own drum. The one that makes you nervous when he is quiet because you just know that he is into something and that isn't a good thing. The one who experiments with cause and effect by flushing a toy down the toilet. The one who insists on wearing the same shirt three days in a row just because. The one who wears boots with shorts (much to the chagrin of his mother), and doesn't discriminate between fireman rain boots and cowboy boots. The one who hurries through everything except for when you want him to hurry. The one who wants to do it his way and will not budge.

In our family, that child would be Harrison. I have come to accept that he is going to try to do things his own way and in his own time. For the most part, I can work with that. That attitude has unfortunately carried over into his schoolwork. Harrison doesn't like to do school work. It is much worse at home than at school where no amount of prodding or bribing will convince him that he needs to sit still and do his homework. At school, he is under the influence of his peers so he does make an effort, however small it may be.

Last Friday, Harrison had his first spelling test. We spent the week reviewing the words which all ended in "at" but each began with a different sound. We started with "at" then progressed to cat, then rat. Then I said okay what word is next, pointing to sat and Harrison looked at me and said "That the word is satisfied". So after I finished banging my head on the table, we went continued with the rest of the words. I could tell that the attention span was waning so I hurriedly pointed to the next word (which was pat) and asked Harrison what that word was and he shrugged his shoulders and said "You tell me."

So on Friday, I was a bit nervous about whether Harrison would even write one of the words but when he brought home his paper, there was a 100 written at the bottom of the paper. Upon closer inspection, here's what I saw:

Harrison had actually written the word hat, eight times. Note that his teacher told him that it was "very fine hat writing". I guess they get an "A" for effort. When I asked him why he wrote the word hat all those times he just shrugged and said "Can I watch some t.v. now?"

His teacher is a wonderful British lady (very Mary Poppins) who has an extremely large amount of patience with the children. Today we received Harrison's progress report. I scanned through the marks concerning his language, literacy and mathematics abilities (much as I expected) and social, emotional and gross/fine motor skills (much better than I expected).

I turned over the report to read the teacher's comments (isn't this what the mother of a precocious child dreads?). I always brace myself just in case. His teacher said that Harrison was a "friendly boy who takes an active role in boisterous, good-natured playground games" (breathing a sigh of relief that he isn't beating the other kids up) and who "excels at building" (maybe an architect in our future?). Continuing on, she comments that he has to work harder at his writing than the others because he is left-handed (having had 2 other lefties, that was no surprise). Her last comment though is what underscores my concern for Harrison's "do it my way and in my time attitude". His teacher points out that Harrison is making gradual progress...."although at this point has a strong preference for working at his own pace".

So while it would be easy to get frustrated, I choose to look at it from a different perspective. Harrison marches to the beat of a different drum. He sees things differently than the rest of us. And that's okay. That's what makes him unique. So the best thing I can do for him is to continue to encourage him to find his way, and to keep marching to that beat. And one day I think he will show us all that he was doing it his way, in his own time and that it worked out okay.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's Boys!

It was supposed to be a quick visit to PetSmart to pick up some dog food and cat food. Going into PetSmart with children is never a good idea. There is never a quick trip into the store with them. First we have to look at the hamsters, guinea pigs and birds. Next we walk by (quickly if it's up to me) the snakes and lizards. Down the next aisle we make our way to the cages filled with cats needing a home. Here's what the conversation sounds like:

Child 1: Mom can we have a cat?
Mom: Absolutely not!
Child 2: But he's sooooo pretty.
Mom: I don't care how pretty he is.
Child 3: But he's been here for a long time.
Mom: Oh look at those fish!

Moving right along, we enter Nemo's world. There among the dozens of aquariums, we spotted row after row of containers of jewel-colored and flowing-finned Bettas. Harrison ohhed and ahhed at a flashy red one. While Holden and Haley were fascinated with a brilliant blue one. We determined that these containers were all filled with males who apparently are much more colorful and have much longer fins and therefore are the ones mostly sold at pet stores.
They caught me in a weak moment. And when they asked for a fish, I relented. We headed home with not one, but two Bettas, food, water conditioner, and a special divided tank.

At home, first order of business was to name their new pets. Haley and Holden decided to name their fish, Smokey. Harrison decided to name his David (and no matter how many other suggestions the kids gave him, he stuck to his guns). I however, think that is a great compliment to his dad.
After preparing the tank, we transferred them to their new homes. The children were intrigued as the two new neighbors showed us why they are called the Samurai Fighting Fish. They immediately began charging at each other on opposite sides of the divider, their gills and fins flaired. Apparently this is how they defend their territory in the wild (sounds kind of like some men I have known in my life, but that's another story).

My kids were also intrigued by the Bettas' practice of making bubble-nests on the water's surface. These nests were intended to harbor fertilized eggs and males can make them even without a female Betta around. When the female Betta lays the eggs and leaves, the male Betta fertilizes the eggs and takes care of them until they hatch and are ready to swim away. That sounds like a real deal to me!

Since Bettas are surface breathers and are native to decaying, oxygen-deficient swamps in Asia, they're not finicky about a pristine tank — no filters or pumps required. All you have to do is change their water a couple of times a week, by dipping half the water out and refilling with fresh water.
My kids are very eager to take care of their new pets and first thing each morning, they ask to feed them. We drop three little fish pellets in the water and they swim eagerly up to eat. It all seems relatively easy. And since Bettas tend to be much hardier fish than most, we can look forward to a much longer life span than a goldfish.

Here are the newest additions:

and here is Harrison gazing at his fish:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Worthy Cause

On a daily basis it seems that I am reminded of how blessed I am to have wonderfully healthy children. Repeatedly, I read and hear of children with terminal or life threatening illnesses or severe developmental disabilities. I am always in awe of the parents of these children. It amazes me how much courage they have.

I have thought about how one person like me can help. Perhaps the easiest way is to raise awareness. In doing so, we open up doors so that more and more people are aware and perhaps will support research to find a cure or treatment.

Today, my friend Sandy, who has an autistic son, forwarded me an email (see below). I hope you will take a minute to watch the video. I know it will move you, like it did me.

The band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating $0.49 to Autism Speaks for *each time* this video, (click link below) is viewed. The funding goes toward research studies to help find a cure.

In case you are interested about learning more, here are a few facts that I got from the Autism Speaks website.

More about Autism.............
According to the website, , autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

Facts about Autism

Did you know…

  • 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism
  • 1 in 94 boys is on the autism spectrum
  • 67 children are diagnosed per day
  • A new case is diagnosed almost every 20 minutes
  • More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined
  • Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
  • Autism costs the nation over $90 billion per year, a figure expected to double in the next decade
  • Autism receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases
  • Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism
  • There is no medical detection or cure for autism

Incidence vs. Private Funding

  • Leukemia: Affects 1 in 25,000 / Funding: $310 million
  • Muscular Dystrophy: Affects 1 in 20,000 / Funding: $175 million
  • Pediatric AIDS: Affects 1 in 8,000 / Funding: $394 million
  • Juvenile Diabetes: Affects 1 in 500 / Funding: $130 million
  • Autism: Affects 1 in 150 / Funding: $15 million

If you would like to know more about this disability or how you can make a difference, visit any of the following websites.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dinner anyone?

There are many areas of my life that I find a daily struggle but the biggest issue seems to be dinner. Years ago I felt like I had it under control. I made homemade snacks, had dinner on the table promptly at 6:00 and for the most part enjoyed buying, planning and cooking the meals. These days with three different school schedules and activities, I find it hard to plan decent meals much less have the energy to prepare them. What happens is that at 5:00 I think:

SELF: You really should have thought about dinner hours ago. What are you going to do now?

SELF: Maybe a grilled cheese or scrambled eggs or sloppy joes or....

SELF: No we had those last week.

SELF: You always have to go and ruin it by reminding me what a slacker I am.

SELF: Well, it isn't my fault you don't have it all together.

So what we do in this situation usually is go out to eat. But then what happens is no one wants to eat at the same place and afterwards I feel remorse for feeding my family horribly prepared food and spending a fortune in doing so.

This year I vow to take a different approach. I have tried menu planning before but it hasn't worked for me. So I thought that perhaps I was going about it the wrong way. So I did what I do best and Googled it. I came up with several really interesting sites that have their own menu planning software. All of them provide you with weekly entrees and shopping lists. Some of them allow you to substitute your own. I have reviewed each website and come up with an overview of each. I hope that those of you who also struggle with meal planning will find this interesting. For those of you who don't then please come to my house and cook for me.

1. The Dinner Planner website emails you a weekly menu each Friday to include recipes for entrees, side dishes and desserts.
  • There are a couple of different meal options including family friendly and heart healthy recipes.
  • They also include six bonus kid friendly recipes for the pickiest of eaters (yes, that would be my children they are talking about).
  • The shopping lists are color-coded (Monday’s meal ingredients are green, Tuesday’s are red, etc.), and are easy to follow.
  • Each of their recipes is rated on ease to prepare and clean-up.
  • Also include are links to money saving grocery coupons.
  • At the end of each three-month subscription, you receive a printable Dinner Planner e-cookbook with all the recipes you made.
  • You can instant-message questions through the live-help chat from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST
  • You can look at a free sample menu complete with recipes and grocery list.
  • The cost is $10 for a whole 3 month subscription.

2. RELISH! is a weekly menu planner aimed at helping busy families put wonderful meals on the table every night. They claim to provide "No sloppy casseroles or expensive kitchen blunders". Their recipes are for "everyday food...with a gourmet twist".

  • Build your weekly menu from a list containing the following categories: Kid-friendly, Vegetarian, Super Quick and Simple Gourmet.
  • All dinners require 30 minutes or less prep time.
  • They have slow cooker recipes, savory soups, hors d'oeuvres and creative family night dinners.
  • Monthly freezer menus are part of the subscription
  • A grocery list is provided to make shopping easy.
  • Recipes have all been tested and menus are easily modified.
  • Nutritional information provided.
  • Try out their service with a free weekly menu that you customize.
  • A Relish! subscription is only $7 per month.

3. Dinewithoutwhine (I really like this name) claims to be a menu planning service aimed at busy families. Their money back guarantee states that they will give you a full refund within 14 days of subscribing "If You Find That You Do Not Have Less Stress In your Life, Save More Than $6.95 A Month At The Grocery Store, Or Have Better Quality Family Time By Using Our Menu Planning Program; Or If You Are Un-Happy For Any Other Reason" .

  • Recipes have commonly used ingredients
  • Menus are kid friendly and budget conscious
  • You can choose from family friendly, healthy and vegetarian meals.
  • Create your own custom menu with just the click of a button.
  • Menus include main dish recipes for dinner every night of the week, suggestions and recipes for side dishes, brunch ideas for Saturday and Sunday. As a bonus, two dessert recipes are included each week.
  • Recipes can all be prepared in an hour or less.
  • Each menu includes a grocery list (categorized by aisle) that includes all the necessary ingredients to prepare the recipes in the weekly menu plan. All you have to do is cross off any items you may already have on hand - add breakfast, snack or lunch items you may need and you're ready to shop.
  • $.01 one week trial offer then $6.95/month or $19.95 for 3 months, $39.95 for six months, $74.95 for a year and $139.95 for a lifetime membership.

4. Saving Dinner sends a weekly e-mail with five or six entree and side-dish recipes that fit your family’s preferences (choose from regular, vegetarian, low-carb, frugal, crock-cooking menus, and others), plus serving suggestions and a shopping list.

  • Recipes include nutritional information
  • Recipes are timed to maximize the current season's harvest
  • Menus include do ahead tips
  • Each recipe comes scaled for two or six people.
  • Sign up for a free newsletter with sample menu
  • Cost is $10 for three months, $18 for six months, $30 for one year.

5. The Six O'Clock Scramble was named the "Fastest and Freshest" by Real Simple magazine. It has also been recognized by "O" Magazine, Working Mother and The Washington Post.

  • Every Wednesday, five entree recipes with side-dish suggestions and a shopping list are e-mailed to you
  • The weekly menu contains a list that highlights the required amounts of staples, like sugar and oil, down to the teaspoon
  • If you don't want to use one of the recipes, you can swap it for any recipe in your recipe database to fit your family’s tastes and schedule. Your grocery list is automatically updated with your choices.
  • The simple, seasonal recipes pack more flavor with fewer ingredients in less time than those of other services.
  • Meals can be prepared n 30 minutes or less.
  • Tons of informative articles and ideas on eating healthy
  • Cost is $29.50 for six months, $54.50 a year.

6. Meal Mixer by More Thyme has been noted as "the most detailed menu planner available" by Real Simple Magazine. Each week Meal Mixer creates a new menu specifically for your tastes, diet, time, and family size.

  • It is quick and easy to change your menu (swap recipes & meals, change serving sizes, etc.) if needed.
  • You print your plan (shopping list, menu, and recipes), giving you everything necessary to save time and money shopping, prepare tasty and healthy meals, and manage your weight.
  • Custom menus are based on your taste, diet and time preferences for as many dinners, lunches and breakfasts that you need for the week.
  • Grocery lists are generated from the recipes on your menu. You can also add anything else you need to buy to the list.
  • Tasty recipes are formatted for easy reading in the kitchen, and scaled to the number of servings needed for your diet and family.
  • You can use their recipes or yours.
  • Nutrition and diet tracking help you effectively manage your weight.
  • Cost is $90 a year (but watch for sales promotions)
  • You can get a free 10 day trial which includes all of the above plus the e-magazine Meal Mixer which has health, kitchen and cooking tips.

There are many other websites that offer weekly menus for free. Among them are Rachael Ray and Epicurious.

I find that each website has something good to offer but finding one that works for you is going to be a matter of personal preference. With the low cost of most of these, it might be good to try out a couple to see what works best. I'll be testing some of these recipes/menus to find out which one(s) work for me and my family. Now I am off to Google "someone to cook for you" and see what I come up with.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My birthday

Today has been a very good day. My kids all gave me special birthday hugs and kisses this morning before school. My husband, took me out to breakfast. Then he surprised me with a one hour massage at the local spa. It was heavenly. The only downside is now I really want to have one every week. :)

This evening, we had a nice dinner and then feasted on the yummy chocolate cake that David and the kids made me. Life is good.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

To think all this time you've only been using Bounce in your dryer

Last night I opened the dryer door to fold a load of laundry and noticed this peculiar black substance streaked all over the barrel of the dryer. Upon closer inspection, I realized that my brand new dryer was coated in melted chewing gum. It seems that a child had left a pack of gum in his pocket. Now I normally catch these things. After many, many times of finding chapstick tubes in the dryer (and having greasy stains on my clothes because of it) I have learned to check the pockets fairly well. This time however, I missed.

Rather than becoming annoyed (okay, I was annoyed) and yelling about it (which I didn't), I headed to the computer to see if there was a quick fix for removing the gum. I had thought of using Goo Gone but because it is a petroleum based product, I figured it wasn't the best bet.

So I googled "how to remove gum from a dryer" and lo and behold there were quite a few entries regarding this subject. Seems that I am not the only one to have this issue. I found several helpful suggestions but the one that kept coming up over and over was to use a wet dryer sheet. Since I don't use dryer sheets (just the liquid softener) I had to run to the store to get some. And guess what, six dryer sheets and lots of elbow grease later, the gum was gone! And there was a lot of gum.

This situation got me to thinking what other nifty uses people had discovered for dryer sheets. So what did I do, googled it of course. Here are some other uses for dryer sheets (DISCLAIMER- I have not tried the following and cannot guarantee the success of any of them):


  • Use them to repel mosquitoes, bees and other flying insects. You can also rub a sheet directly on your bare skin to repel mosquitoes from biting.
  • Use dryer sheets to keep out mice, skunks, squirrels, rats, etc from your basement, garages, boats, campers, and clubhouses.


  • Eliminates static electricity from your television and computer screen. Wipe your television and computer screen with a used sheet to keep dust from resettling. (I am trying this one!)
  • Used dryer sheets can knock the dust off nearly any surface, including furniture, blinds, car interiors, baseboards/molding. The dirt adheres to the sheet and are much cheaper than Pledge Grab-it or Swiffer dusters.
  • Clean shower doors and tile walls with a dryer sheet to dissolve soap scum.
  • Fabric softener sheets are claimed to clean baked on foods from cooking pots and pans. Place a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight. Next morning sponge it clean. The antistatic agent apparently weakens the bond between the stuck on food between the pot or pans surface.
  • When you finish drying a load, hold on to the dryer sheet, and wipe down the inside of your dryer’s drum, your lint trap, the outside of your washing machine and dryer, and scrub away any excess or spilt laundry detergent.
  • Summer drives often equal insect gut polka dots all over your auto’s body and windshield. Simply wet your car down, and use a dryer sheet to scrub away with ease.
  • Rubbing a sheet over an area will magnetically attract all the loose pet hairs. (I would need an entire box for this one)

  • Place a dryer sheet in a drawer, hang one in the closet, locker at the health club, locker at work or under the seat of your car or truck to freshen the air.
  • Placing a sheet in your shoes or sneakers overnight, will help to deodorize them.
  • Place (or tape) a dryer sheet on your HVAC vents to scent the air circulating through your home. You can even place one alongside your filter in your central heating unit to distribute the scent. Also works on ceiling fans, and on the back of box/portable fans. Stash dryer sheets under your car seats and floor mats, and in your glove box and trunk for fresh scents as you travel.
  • Place a single sheet inside empty luggage before storing to prevent musty odors.
  • Placing a sheet at the bottom of the wastebasket, helps eliminate odors found in wastebaskets. Placing an individual sheet at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper will accomplish the same results.
  • Put dryer sheet in vacuum cleaner.
  • Roll up a dryer sheet in your toilet paper roll. Each time you spin, it releases a little freshness into your bathroom.
  • Tuck dryer sheets in your rarely used items such as luggage, camping gear, sports equipment, or specialty craft or kitchen items to prevent the inevitable smells of basements, attics, and garages.


  • Want to soften the soles of your feet? Soak your feet in some warm water, then rub them with a dryer sheet for awhile. The sheet acts as a slougher and a moisturizer.

  • With some crafts, like Rubber Stamp embossing, static is a problem. The embossing powder can stick everywhere you don't want it to be. Rubbing your paper with a dryer sheet will help to cut down on that static and give you more control. It is good when working with glitter as well - simply rub over the surfaces you are glittering, and it won't stick everywhere quite as much.
  • A sewing needle run through a sheet prior to sewing, can prevent the thread from tangling. use a dryer sheet to store your needles while threaded to keep them from tangling, for paper piecing whilst you quilt, and for backing for embroidery.
  • Use dryer sheets to add texture to cards, scrapbooks, etc. Also use for reinforcement in appliqué and quilting work.
  • Use old dryer sheets in flower pots to cover the holes in the bottom to keep the soil from coming through.
  • Soak your used paintbrushes in warm water with a dryer sheet, and that pesky latex paint will come off in under a minute.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An angel gone from Earth

Yesterday when I sat down to write my blog, nothing seemed important enough to write about. My heart was heavy with grief for my friend Donna whose grandson passed away just that morning.

Although I had never met her grandson, I felt the love that Donna had for him. When she talks about him you can tell how much she loves him. She felt that Christian was an angel who had been sent to earth to bring love and joy to those around him. And although he is no longer with her on Earth, their bond will never be broken because the love that they shared was real and will forever remain.

The death of a child makes us realize that our children are never really ours but only here on loan from God. They are a gift given to brighten our days, to bring us smiles when we feel there is nothing to smile about. They are here to teach us how to love and be loved. They teach us patience and kindness. They give us wisdom and courage. They are the reason why we live.

Yesterday, an angel entered into Heaven's gates and I feel sure that the choir of angels rejoiced. While those left here on Earth are saddened by the loss of this precious child, there is comfort in knowing that he is at home now in the arms of God.

I came across this story and I hope that it might bring comfort to those who might be grieving.

There was once a little angel in Heaven who decided to come down to Earth. In order to leave Heaven he had to give up his wings, full well knowing that being bound to Earth's physical laws would be a great weight and a challenge. Nevertheless he went, knowing he would touch many lives with love. He brought sunshine to his family and to many others. Earth life was a great challenge, and this little angel encountered difficulties along the way, as do all angels who come to Earth, but he soldiered on. He missed being able to fly above the complexities of life. But it was at night, in his sleep, that he once again donned his angel wings and soared above the earthly realm, reveling in the soft breezes only found above the clouds. One day this little angel was done with his time on Earth. He missed his wings, and his Heavenly Father missed him too. He called him Home again, meeting him at the door of Heaven with his cherished angel wings, which he donned immediately. Now this little angel dances in the skies above us. He blows us kisses and whispers to us that the sun is still shining above the clouds, and that the stars still faithfully twinkle even when they are blocked from our sight. He is light as a feather now, with no more weights and cares, surrounded only by the all-encompassing love of Heaven. Our hearts are with you, little angel. Thank you for braving the challenges of Earth to bring love to us, and thank you also for watching over us now. You will always be a reminder to us that our wings are also waiting, and someday we will soar together again, like we did once upon a time before our Earth lives. It's only a matter of time before we are all together again in the light of a heavenly new day. Then there will be no regrets, no tears, only love and happiness, hugs, and heavenly music, times of fellowship and joy, and the spending of all eternity, together once again.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Thoughts on turning (GASP) 40

"Life begins at 40 - but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times." Helen Rowland

This week I turn 40. A much younger me considered 40 as middle age, okay well actually I thought of it as old. It was for people who wore comfortable shoes, sported reading glasses and read the nutrition labels on the back of cereal boxes to see how much fiber it contained. It was the time when people had a "mid-life crisis" and re-evaluated their lives, left their husbands, and bought sports cars in lieu of sensible sedans. Now that I myself am approaching this milestone, I no longer think of it as old.

So how did I get here so fast? The saying that time goes faster as you get older seems to be all too true. The days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, the months into years at the speed of light. Suddenly you wake up one morning and you realize you’ve been on this earth 40 years. That "old" age you dreaded when you were young has finally taken hold of you.

I won't deny that 40 is the beginning of looking and feeling old. My body no longer responds the way it did ten years ago. After a day of running after my children, my muscles throb. The weight that came off easily at 25 settles on my thighs and hips refusing to budge. My face that just 5 years ago didn't sport a single wrinkle now has fine lines forming around my eyes. My makeup drawer holds jars of wrinkle reducing cream and anti-aging serum. Wearing a push-up bra is no longer a fashion statement, but rather a necessity.

My memory seems to take a leave of absence much more often than before. I forget peoples names. I misplace my car keys on a regular basis. I walk into the pantry only to forget what I went in there for in the first place. I call my husband to ask him a question and forget why I was calling.

As the big day approaches I feel restless and in those quiet hours after the kids have gone to bed, I hear a little voice beckoning me to make a change.

I believe the need for change has less to do with the fact that I am actually turning 40 than it does with the realization that I have spent the first half of my life intensely focused on getting to this point. I have already achieved most of my major goals in life, including graduating from college, getting married, having a career, and starting a family. I think sadly, we spend so much of our lives focused on achieving our goals that we forget to relish in the little things. Then when a major life event (such as turning 40) occurs, it hits us in the face and we wonder where the time went? And where do we go from here?

While I won't be leaving my husband, buying a sports car or dying my hair a funky shade of red, I do feel the need to reinvent myself to a much lesser degree. Perhaps the first change should be to throw away that list of must-do's and just enjoy what life has to offer, one day at a time.

So although I am a little apprehensive about turning 40, I am also excited about the possibilities it brings. So lookout 40, here I come!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

It's a losing battle, I know but still.....

For years, I have been on a never ending quest to get my children to actually help around the house. Their attitude is if I leave it long enough, mom will just pick it up. And the worst part is that is usually true. So by the time I pick up all of the various toys, clothes and miscellaneous unknown objects from around the house, I have used up all my "spare" time that was meant for cleaning. This means that the house gets rather dirty and when I actually do get around to cleaning it takes me an entire Saturday to scrub the filth off of the floors, walls, showers, etc. This makes for a very unhappy mom.

I have tried putting stuff in a basket on the stairs or just piling it on the stairs but they walk right past it and if the pile has grown so big that they can't walk past it, they step over it. If I say it's time to pick up, ultimately one child will say "But I didn't make the mess". Hmmm, I guess it would be the mess fairy that resides in our attic on his off days.

And forget about them actually lifting a finger to clean anything in the house. Their idea of dusting is to blow the top layer of dust off their furniture and be done with it. And picking up clothes means just throwing them all in the hamper, dirty or not. Shoes are thrown behind the door or in the bottom of the closet. Forget cleaning the sink. We could scrape enough toothpaste out of the sinks to clean all the teeth of those poor third world children. Not really (and that does sound pretty gross) but it is bad.

So what I have been doing obviously is not working. Meaning that the screaming and fussing just doesn't cut it. So as part of my new self (you know the "life changes" I have proposed), I decided to come up with a better method. Drum roll please.................

The Chore Chart

Now, I had no idea how to make this work so that it would reward the kids without them actually thinking they should be paid for doing something that they should be doing for nothing. Today, I came across a new website that may have just provided me with the answer. It proposes to help restore your "little angel through positive reinforcement". The website is Childzilla and although it is still in Beta testing, I liked what I saw.

You set up an account for each child listing their chores and the day(s) that they are to be done. When they have completed the said chores, they earn points (which you have assigned) and are able to choose a reward from a predefined list (which you have also created). Sounds pretty good so far right?

So I have the big job of defining who gets what chore when. I make up the chart, print it out, then when the chore is complete, the child (or parent if said child is not capable) can go online and check off the chore and get their points.

I am certain this is going to be the answer I am looking for. What could go wrong? Unless of course that mess fairy in our attic starts leaving things all over the house again. Maybe I should make a chart for him, just in case.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

I have never been one to make resolutions. Sure, if asked, I will come up with something that sounds remotely like a resolution that I might be able to keep. But honestly, by the third week in January I will have completely forgotten about anything I said I was going to do. I would like to tell you that in 2007 I........

Lost 20 pounds
Exercised 5 days a week
Dusted my house weekly
Never yelled at my kids
Read the Bible from cover to cover
Helped someone in need
Made date nights with my husband
Created hundreds of beautiful scrapbook pages

Instead, I have to tell you that in the past year I...

Lost only 10 pounds
Hardly used my Y membership
My house would never pass the white glove test
Yelled at my kids on one occasion (okay so maybe slightly more than one)
Read a few bible verses
Never mailed the package to the poor African child (but at $65 could you really blame me?)
Went out twice with my husband only
Created just a handful of pages

However, I don't think the past year was a total loss. I did manage to.......

Lose some weight
Learn Photoshop
Create some scrapbook pages
Teach a couple of scrapbook classes
Become closer to my husband
Organize my scrapbook supplies
Purge excess clutter
and most importantly maintain my sanity

In the next year, I am hoping to...

Frown less and smile more
Help those in need
Continue to grow in my faith
Read the Bible on a regular basis
Lose weight to become a healthier me
Not worry about having everything perfect
Enjoy my scrapbooking and not worry about catching up
Be more patient
Accept myself for who I am and not worry about what others think of me
Make new friends
Be a better mother and wife

Since I have never been good at keeping "New Year's resolutions", I would like to call these "life changes". Maybe by posting them here for all the world to see and also posting them above my desk to see on a daily basis, I will be able to make these changes. Of course changes do not happen overnight so I will focus on baby steps. A little change each day and by the end of the year, I will have made these permanent changes in my life. And for that I think I will be a better person.