Sunday, February 24, 2008

Haley's Birthday card

Haley's birthday is in two weeks and she has decided to have a sleepover. We are going to rent a movie projector and have popcorn and then play some games. For her invitation she wanted something bold and bright. I was thrilled she agreed to use pink since that is NOT her favorite color but it is one that I love. The insert looks like a ticket and says admit one and has all the details to her party. Here's what I came up with:

Books and movies

I have always loved to read. As a young child some of my fondest memories are of book time at the library and going to the Bookmobile. I can still remember the musty book smell of the old library. I remember the excitement I felt as I discovered a new interesting book. Reading has always allowed me to open my mind and stretch my imagination.

Ever since my children were little, I have always read to them. Over the past couple of months, Holden and I have read the entire Spiderwick Chronicles series. Every night we would lay in bed and read a few chapters. Holden always begged for just one more chapter. So when he saw that a movie was coming out based on the books, he begged to go. I personally don't like to watch movies after I have read the book because in the past I have found myself disappointed in how the movie pales in comparison to the book. But since it was Holden's wish, not mine I agreed to take him.

Today was the first day that we had some free time so we headed to the matinee. We bought a frozen slush and headed to theatre 11 for the show. There were already quite a few people in there by the time we arrived but we were still able to get a good seat. For two hours, Holden sat mesmerized by the movie. I was thinking as the movie unfolded that I hoped he wasn't disappointed by the script because it was not very much like the books.

As we were leaving the theatre at the end of the movie, I asked him if he had enjoyed the movie. He said he had but it wasn't a whole lot like the book. I explained that the movie writers had to take all of those books and condense them down to something that only lasted two hours. Holden nodded in understanding and said that books were much better than movies because he liked to use his imagination. I grabbed his hand and smiled and thought to myself how good it makes me feel that my children love books as much as I do.

Friday, February 22, 2008

So here I sit........

This afternoon Holden had a friend over. It was a rainy afternoon so the boys played upstairs. Every now and again I had to remind them that they were inside which meant no running but for the most part they were being pretty good until....

I was walking upstairs when I heard this loud pop followed by Holden's high pitched wail. I looked in Holden's room to catch Harrison scooting quickly away from Holden. He looked up at me and said "What? He wouldn't let me have that" pointing to one of the ten thousand toys littering the floor. Apparently the way Harrison chose to resolve the situation was to smack Holden in the eye with his fist.
After sending Harrison to his room, I tended to Holden and got him calmed down. He did have a pretty big red spot around his eye and it was swelling slightly. I hate spanking and can count on one had the number of times I have actually spanked one of my children. But I figured that this time warranted one so I popped Harrison once with the belt to get his attention and made him stay in his room.

I went back downstairs to fix dinner and when it was ready I called the kids to come and eat. Only the two oldest came down and Haley told me that Harrison was asleep. When I went upstairs, this is what I found.

We all ate dinner and still no Harrison. I had stamp club tonight so I got ready and went on figuring that Harrison would wake up or that David would wake him up. When I came home at 10, Harrison was still asleep. At 10:30 when everyone else was getting ready for bed, Harrison woke up. So now it's close to midnight and here I sit typing my blog and finishing up Haley's birthday invitations while Harrison is watching Madagascar and the others are asleep. Which is where I want to be. Only I am not. What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

So last week was one of those really crazy weeks where I did alot and yet nothing got accomplished. Ever had one of those? Actually I did get some things done. My freezer is now filled to near capacity from all the freezer meals I prepared. Now hopefully I can remember what I have in there without taking half of it out.

This weekend we went to downtown Charleston to the Southeastern Wildlife Expo. We did have a good time just not $45 worth. The lines were long and since we didn't even get there until midday we didn't see very much. The kids did enjoy watching the dock dogs and now Holden has decided that he is going to train Sullivan, our Boykin Spaniel to retrieve so he can enter him in the contest. The whole idea is that you bring your dog up on this dock and make him sit at one end while you walk to the opposite end and throw the retriever in the water. You then tell your dog to get it and he runs and jumps into the water. The dog who jumps the farthest wins. While we were there, one dog jumped 23 feet. Can you even imagine? The funniest thing though was when a woman was trying to get her dog to jump and she accidently backed off the dock and fell into the water. Can you say embarrassing?

Sunday evening my parents came up to visit since the kids were out of school on Monday. It was a dreary morning on Monday so we took the kids to the Aquarium. The highlight of the trip was seeing this giant sea turtle in the large ocean tank. We walked up to the glass and he was sleeping right next to it. The boys were down on their knees staring at it wondering if it was alive. When it moved, they both got excited and Harrison blurted out "I've been waiting my whole life for this".

Here are some pictures I took over the weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day???

Did you know that today is Valentine's Day? You should unless you live in a cave on some remote island in the Pacific. There is not a store around that doesn't have an enormous section of Valentine's candy, cards, stuffed animals, and even more candy. And don't even get me started on the overpriced flowers that every florist in town and on the internet is trying to hawk.

It's not that I don't like telling those I love that I love them. I just want to do it on my own terms. Not with some overpriced box of candy. And flowers, yes I love them. But it kind of takes away from the enjoyment knowing that my husband paid way too much money for flowers that within hours of arrival will be drooping slowly toward the ground.

My biggest gripe is why do we have to have ONE day a year where we tell those we love that we love them? Come on, shouldn't we do that on a daily basis? Shouldn't we celebrate love all the time? Not just on the one day that is overhyped by commercialism.

Now I am going to step off of my soapbox and tell you what I think love is about (if you care). Aside from the obvious things I love such as my family and friends, love to me is:

  • the sound of Holden's laughter
  • the ticking of Sullivan's toenails on the floor as he runs to greet me
  • the hugs Haley gives every night before she goes to bed
  • the snuggles I get from Harrison every morning
  • the unexpected surprise from my husband just because he thought I might like it
  • the calls from my mom and dad just to see what I am doing

See to me love isn't about buying something for someone it's about giving something from the heart. It's about the unexpected gifts such as a hug from your child when you've had a bad day. Or a wet sloppy kiss from your 8 year old when you come to school to eat lunch with him. It's about sharing quiet time with your spouse after a long day. It's about celebrating life and all the good things every day, not just today.

So I hope that you celebrate love today, tomorrow and everyday. And as a wise man once said, “Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Some people are cut out to be great cooks, I just don't think I happen to be one of them. I guess the things I cook turn out okay. Mostly it's nothing adventurous but that has a lot to do with the people I am trying to feed. In my latest quest to have it all together at meal time, I decided upon the advice of a dear friend (and you know who you are) to buy this cookbook called Fix, Freeze and Feast. When the box was delivered, I anxiously ripped it open and immediately began devouring the pages hoping for some enlightenment as to how to plan and prepare my meals ahead of time.

Things were looking good. The meals seemed pretty easy to prepare, they were almost all things that my family would eat (although I may have to alter some of them to exclude large amounts of onion). The book even described how to plan and buy the items for your meals. So Sunday afternoon I sat down with my new cookbook (and a few others) and prepared a menu for the entire rest of February. It took quite awhile to go through and decide what to prepare and how much I needed to buy to get it done. But after a couple of hours I had it altogether.

So Monday I headed to Publix armed with my list of sales and items that I needed that didn't require buying in bulk. Less than an hour later I was home unloading the groceries. I was thinking how easy this all seemed.

Tuesday I headed to Sam's armed with an even longer list and purchased the remaining items for the meals. After lugging huge cans of tomatoes and bags of onions and potatoes into the house, I was pretty much too spent to do any preparation so I decided to wait until today to start.

This morning after dropping Harrison off at school and doing my volunteer work I came home and started to prepare. I prepared some marinade for two flank steaks, threw those in a freezer bag, wrote out the labels and I was done with meal one and two. I was on a roll. Then came the lasagna and chili. Unfortunately, I ran out of time so I browned the meat and put it in bags in the fridge until later. This afternoon, I made a huge batch of red sauce that goes in a whole lot of the dishes in this book. I am talking a huge stockpot full of this stuff. Halfway through the recipe I realize I don't have quite enough thyme so I put what I had in and figured no one would notice the difference.

After the sauce was done, I pull out the pans to put the batches of lasagna in only to discover that even after two trips to the store, I still didn't buy the right size pans. So I dug in the cabinets and found two pans that I had previously bought and prepared the lasagna in those. I still have enough left over to prepare two more recipes as soon as I get to the store for the right size pans.

So then I flip over to the chili recipe only to realize that I am short a couple of cans of beans. So I skip that altogether and figure I will just pick those beans up when I get the pans for the lasagna.

So what to do with the red sauce in the meantime? I scooped out what I needed to finish the lasagna and make the chili. I had a bit of sauce left so I decided to put it in a freezer bag for later. As I get to the bottom of the pot, I prop the freezer bag up and lean the huge stockpot over and at that very moment, the freezer bag falls over and half of the sauce goes everywhere.

Proudly, I didn't even shout a dirty word although really if you had seen the mess you might have thought it excusable. Tomato sauce was everywhere. In my shoes, on my pants, up the side of the cabinet, down the stove, and all over the floor. As I am down on my hands and knees cleaning the mess up, I hear this slurping noise. I look up to find my dog helping me clean by lapping up piles of the sauce.

At this point I am beginning to question whether this was a good idea. But, now that I still have a fridge full of meat and red sauce, I am in it for the long haul. I am hoping that tomorrow will be a better day on the preparation side. And who knows, maybe it gets easier the second time you do it. Well, I can only hope.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh man it's been awhile

Well once again it has been awhile since I posted. But really it's no wonder with all the things going on this month. I mean everyone knows it's Black History Month, right? As a volunteer at my son's school, I was asked to come up with 6-8 questions for the kids to answer on black history. He came home today with the first question and I so wanted to give him the answer but refrained. I figure the best way to learn is to do. But I digress.

Anyhow as if there aren't enough things in our daily lives, the marketing people from numerous organizations figure that they need some equal press and have all jockeyed for their own day/month of awareness. Let me say that there are a lot of worthwhile causes out there, many of which I like to support. I do however, think it's gotten a bit crazy. Just take a look at a little of what February has to offer in the way of "awareness".

American Heart Month
Marfan Syndrome Awareness Month (never knew such a thing existed so I guess it worked because I am now aware)
National Time Management Month (I guess if this were working for me I wouldn't feel so frazzled today)
Library Lovers Month (new here's one I can say I am a fan of)
National Weddings Month
Prenatal Infection Prevention Month
Dental Awareness Month

And February 1-7 was also Women's Heart Health Week and National Patient Recognition Week (now I know somebody out there got a card from their doctor).

Then we also have National Wear Red Day , National Girl and Women in Sports Day, National Give Kids a Smile Day (to coincide with Dental Awareness month), World Marriage Day and Organ Donor Day.

Add to all of the above, President's Day, Martin Luther Kings Birthday, Valentine's Day, and Groundhog Day. Whew, it's no wonder I can't get anything done for trying to keep track of it all. Okay so that's my excuse, what is yours?

For more information on these causes and more you can visit the Fundraisers website. Or just Google it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Not enough mean parents

Lord help me but I think only one of us will remain standing at the end of the teenage years. On the verge of turning 12 and already my daughter has become the archetypal teen, attitude and all. About two years ago I started noticing small signs. The occasional eye rolling and the flippant comments. But then just as quick as it came, it would disappear.

For those of you with teens, who have been teens, who know teens or even exist in this world, you know what I am talking about. The rolling of the eyes, the sassy mouth, the I-can-do-what-I-want attitude. It leaves me to wonder where I went wrong? I mean, I just knew that my sweet child would never act like those obnoxious gum smacking, eye rolling, teeny boppers. Apparently, either I was wrong, or the devil has taken possession of her body.

No really, it isn't that bad, she is mostly a good kid with a kind heart but well, let's just say today was not a good day. Haley and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to cleanliness. I am right up there with the cleanliness comes next to godliness group. She is well, right down there with the it's okay to live in a pig sty group. So there have been many, many arguments about this. I expect that she make her bed every morning before school and keep her room relatively inhabitable. At one point, I just gave up and started closing her door because I just couldn't even stand to look at it. I figured she would get tired of living that way and eventually clean it. Never happened. Her grandmother came up to visit one weekend and cleaned Haley's room for her. I thought it would embarass Haley to have her grandmother see the mess but it didn't phase her. And did she keep it clean? Nope. A couple of weeks ago, her father helped her clean the room. Did it stay clean? Nope.

So the new rule was that she would make sure her room was clean when she went to bed and then she would make her bed each morning. If she did not do these things, the next morning she would be awakened 10 minutes earlier.

Since her bed was left unmade yesterday, David woke her 10 minutes earlier than her usual. Ten minutes later, I came upstairs and she was still sitting in the bed. When she finally got up and dressed, she came in our bedroom and David asked had she made her bed. She said no and made no effort to go and do it. He asked her what she was waiting on and she rolled her eyes and mumbled something. Then she stomped into her room. I went in there a few minutes later only to find her laying on her UNMADE bed reading a book. Okay, so now is when I had to bite my tongue because what I really wanted to do was yell at her but I didn't. In a calm voice, I just merely asked her had she lost her mind? She did get up and make her bed at that point but then proceeded to tell me that if we woke her up early again she would just lay in bed until she was ready to get up. WRONG answer sweet cheeks.

So the new ploy is to make her life as miserable as she is making ours until she gets it. So the next time her bed is left unmade and she has to get up early, if she doesn't pop out of bed, on come the lights, then the loud music and if necessary cold water. She thinks we are bluffing. And if that doesn't work, we'll have to tighten that leash even further. But, as much as Haley loves her sleep, I suspect that she will come around sooner rather than later. And in the long run, the discipline she learns now will benefit her. She just doesn't realize it yet.

And on that note, I am not sure who wrote this but I love this about "Mean Moms". I only hope that my kids think I am one. That means I am doing something right.

Someday when my children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates a parent, I will tell them, as my Mean Mom told me:

I loved you enough to ask where you were going, with whom, and what time you would be home.

I loved you enough to be silent and let you discover that your new best friend was a creep.

I loved you enough to stand over you for two hours while you cleaned your room, a job that should have taken 15 minutes. (See ?)

I loved you enough to let you see anger, disappointment, and tears in my eyes. Children must learn that their parents aren't perfect.

I loved you enough to let you assume the responsibility for your actions even when the penalties were so harsh they almost broke my heart.

But most of all, I loved you enough . . . to say NO when I knew you would hate me for it. Those were the most difficult battles of all. I'm glad I won them, because in the end you won, too. And someday when your children are old enough to understand the logic that motivates parents, you will tell them.Was your Mom mean? I know mine was.

We had the meanest mother in the whole world! While other kids ate candy for breakfast, we had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had a Pepsi and a Twinkie for lunch, we had to eat sandwiches. And you can guess our mother fixed us a dinner that was different from what other kids had, too.

Mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You'd think we were convicts in a prison. She had to know who our friends were, and what we were doing with them. She insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we would be gone for an hour or less.

We were ashamed to admit it, but she had the nerve to break the Child Labor Laws by making us work. We had to wash the dishes, make the beds, learn to cook, vacuum the floor, do laundry, empty the trash and all sorts of cruel jobs. I think she would lie awake at night thinking of more things for us to do.

She always insisted on us telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By the time we were teenagers, she could read our minds and had eyes in the back of her head. Then, life was really tough!

Mother wouldn't let our friends just honk the horn when they drove up. They had to come up to the door so she could meet them. While everyone else could date when they were 12 or 13, we had to wait until we were 16.

Because of our mother we missed out on lots of things other kids experienced. None of us have everbeen caught shoplifting, vandalizing othersproperty or ever arrested for any crime. It was all her fault.

Now that we have left home, we are all educated, honest adults. We are doing our best to be mean parents just like Mom was. I think that is what's wrong with the world today. It just doesn't have enough mean moms!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Smart like mom

David and I have decided to have Holden tested to see if we can isolate any problems that might be holding him back at school. So last night, we were sitting at the table discussing the upcoming appointment with Holden. He had some anxiety about the appointment and said he didn't really want to go. We explained that we wanted to figure out how to help him in school because we didn't like to see him frustrated. David said that he wished his parents had taken him somewhere when he was young because he struggled at school. He asked Holden, "Do you know what a difference it would have made for me?" Holden looked at him and said "Yea, you would be as smart as mom." Sometimes it's hard not to laugh.

Monday, February 4, 2008

It's over and the fat lady didn't even sing

During the weeks leading up to the Superbowl, the only thing you hear more about is the battle of the politicians. Seriously, in the past week, the Super Bowl has been mentioned roughly a million times. Everywhere you turn, something or someone is touting the BIG GAME. You see it online, on television, on billboards, and even in grocery stores.

Honestly, I don't care much for watching football. Sports just aren't my thing. But, once a year, I try to be a supportive wife and join my husband to watch football. I start out interested mostly to see who sings the National Anthem and what commercials are going to be aired, but somewhere along say the middle of the first quarter, I start losing interest. I wonder how many wives submit themselves to this annual torture, er I mean ritual? And I also wonder how many men watch the SuperBowl because they love football?

The fact is that I don't think all that many people watch football just because they love it. I think it has more to do with hanging out, drinking a few beers, maybe inhaling (I mean eating) some pizza and seeing who can scream the loudest when someone fumbles the ball. I think I have evidence to support this because at the end of the game what you hear mostly is a series of mumbles that slowly escalate to full scaled gripes about what a terrible game it was.

So what exactly makes half of the American population, including those non-sports people like me, sit down and watch the SuperBowl? Is it the thrill of seeing the best against the best, the half time show, or the commercials? Speaking of commercials, why would any company pay $2.6 million for a 30 second commercial? Do they seriously think that I am going to rush out and buy a brand new Chevrolet or six pack of Pepsi because I saw their commercial during the Superbowl? And still, millions of Americans wait with bated breath to see what Victoria's Secret (okay so maybe the men) is "unveiling" or what antics ________ (fill in the blanks here) will show on their commercials.

So who is really center stage in this whole show? Is it the players, the artists who perform at half time or is it the advertisers with their million dollar commercials?

Was the SuperBowl all it was touted to be? In the end there is always a winner and a loser. Last night, the Giants emerged as victorious over the Patriots. But, was it worth all the hype? And the same can be asked of the commercials. Were they all that super after all or just a bunch of fumbles?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Rare Black Squirrel Spotted

Yesterday morning as I was getting ready, I glanced out of the window and saw a squirrel perched on a stump in our back yard. As I looked closer I realized that it was a black squirrel. I have only seen one of those in my life and it was at my grandmother's house back when I was around 11. I remember being awed at the site of something so rare. So it was with this in mind that I shouted to my daughter who was downstairs to look quick at the back squirrel. Next I called Harrison to the window to see this unusal site.

David was in the room the whole time acting kind of nonchalantly about the whole thing. I kept saying "Look David, it's a black squirrel, isn't that neat?" "And look how still he's sitting." David kind of snickered at this and I was thinking he was making fun of me for being so excited about seeing a squirrel. So I called him to the window and said "See isn't that cool?" To which David replied "Yes and see how still he's sitting?" "I don't think he is going to move, EVER (with emphasis on the ever)." I looked at him blankly and he started laughing. Turns out that black squirrel wasn't really a squirrel. Just an ornamental concrete animal found somewhere in our back bed. So I guess the last laughs on me. But he does look real, at least from a distance. At least I think so.