NOT Noteworthy!

Some of you may have heard about the historic snowfall of December 18th, 2009. I have been fighting the urge to post about this... despite the fact that my boys absolutely loved the snow... and because we went sledding, built a snow fort and played in it for days. The reason it pains me to write about it, is because growing up in Alaska, snow in December was not something that made national news. It was normal. People didn't rush out to the nearest store to stockpile bread and milk to last them through the "storm". They didn't cancel parties or wedding receptions or church. They didn't delay holiday traditions at the mere scent of snow. But, here in Virginia, life comes to a screeching halt when rumors start flying about a snowfall.

But nevertheless, I am writing about this snowfall. It was relaxing to look out the window on Christmas Day and see a white landscape, even if it was raining... and I have to admit that the sight of a few snow patches in the yard after 10 days, does my heart good!


Tune in for the highlights of 2009... and get a glimpse into our favorite flicks!!

Mike: as “Real Estate Dad”
KaLisi: as “Household Managing Mom”
Josh – age 7: as “Baseball Playing 2nd Grader”
Caleb – age 4: as “Bike-Riding Pre-Schooler”
Brooks – age 1: as “Toddling Bundle of Rolls”

NCIS – (Naughty Children Investigative Service) is more than just an action drama. With silly doses of humor, it focuses on the complex and always amusing dynamics of three young boys forced to work together in mischievous situations. Mike and KaLisi continue to brush up on their forensic skills to determine the “victim” from the “perpetrator” in every crime. Test your own forensic skills by predicting which family member, who in a strange turn of events, backed into Mike’s car one dark night.

LOST – We’re constantly teasing you with mysteries, but here’s a few things that we know for sure... Josh continues to lose teeth at an alarming rate; to date, he has lost 7! Caleb is always moving and we often refer to him as a pocket of powerful electromagnetic energy! This energy often rubs off onto Josh and Brooks, which usually leads to destruction of mass proportions! Brooks, who often appears shirtless, can hypnotize the Others with his sultry gaze and round physique.

24 – 24 is broadcast in the semblance of real time, with each season depicting a 24-hour period in the lives of The Trentadue Five, who work together and fight against threats of H1N1, the broken-garage-door-incident, which trapped a mother and her children in the house for three days, and the Fall of 2009, which buried the Trentadue’s with leaves until two brave missionaries raked them out!

Million Dollar Listing – The first season premiered in 2001, and now focuses on the real estate market in Richmond, Virginia. It follows a very prestigious real estate agent at ReMax Action. The storylines range from a down-town listing becoming the final resting place for a local vagrant, to numerous awkward advances from a flirtatious married client. Unlike the show’s title, Mike likes to keep it in the Hundred-Thousand Dollar range.

Cake Boss – This reality show stars the owner of KaLisi’s Bakery. Hundreds of meals go on her table lined with four hungry boys, who have been known to chant, “We want food! We want food!” She’s a one-woman team and has even tried her hand at decorating the kids’ birthday cakes… although she won’t be winning any prizes, the boys loved her first ever Sponge Bob and Teddy Bear cakes!

Sponge Bob Square Pants – This animated series is an extremely energetic story, which centers on the adventures of three brothers who live in a brick, colonial in the Southeast. Some episodes include: “Life of Crime”, which depicts the lone Joshua’s spontaneous excursion around the neighborhood; “No More Mr. Scaredy Pants” featuring Caleb’s victory over the indoor inflatables at Kangaroo Jac’s; and “Overboard”, a heart-wrenching tale of Brooks’ sudden upside-down plunge into the baby pool!

Flash Forward – What’s in our near future? Josh will be baptized in March… Caleb will be starting Kindergarten next fall… and Brooks will graduate to nursery in April! We look forward to many other 2010 milestones in our family and wouldn’t change it, even if we could!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Love, The Trentadue's

one down... one to go....

turns out the disposal worked fine... but the drain was clogged. Did you know that the #1 rule about disposals is: If you can't eat it, neither can the disposal???

This was news to me... so no eggshells (which I've read help to sharpen the blades), and no lemon peels (which will freshen the smell)! Maybe I should write to Real Simple and tell them that according to my plumber, they have written false information in their magazine! Oh and one more thing... they said rice is one of the worst things to put down because it expands and fills up the drain pipe. Who knew?

A disposal is also not to be used as a garbage can.... maybe they should change the name to something other then "GARBAGE DISPOSAL"! I guess the real purpose of it is to grind up the tiny bits of food left on the plate once it has been scraped into the actual garbage can. So it turns out, I probably need that "wet garbage bucket" under my sink after all!

P.S. I'm assuming when they come to fix my washing machine tomorrow they're going to tell me that I can't bathe the kids in there either! I guess I need to read the instruction manuals on a few things! :)

it all started yesterday...

I just got back from a "girls' night out" tonight.... and from doing laundry. Yes, I did both at the same time! I did my laundry at a friend's house during our "get together". All this because my washer quit today mid-load... so I had to wring out a whole batch of clothes by hand, and then load it into a hefty bag, drive 8 minutes, run it through the spin cycle, and then dry it. What a process, right? (if you can't tell, I'm mocking myself)

but to be completely honest, it was pretty inconvenient. But the washer breaking is only the straw that broke my back, because yesterday the garbage disposal gave out. But unlike the washer, I do have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to the disposal. Google and You Tube have lovely little sites about what to do in case your disposal clogs or jams. And rest assured, I've already tried all the quick-fix-it tips that are suggested. Afterall, a garbage disposal is a very simple machine, so they say, consisting of a basic motor and blades used to chop everything up. I used the allen wrench to "un-jam it trick", I pushed the red reset button many, many times, all with different combinations of "holding it down for 5 seconds" vs. "the rapid pressing method"... I proceeded to do the ole' "jiggle it a little trick", followed by the "hit it violently until your hand hurts method" .... not to mention, "stick your hand down there and fish out any foreign objects procedure" (although I think "they" suggested using a broom handle)... I even COMMANDED it to start working.... but nothing.

Now, I have to explain a bit... if you don't have a disposal, this may all seem very trivial. But having a non-working disposal is so much worse then not having a disposal at all, because nothing drains right. You can't use that sink at all. And if you do, it just fills up with nasty, gray water with a floaties, until you can scoop out the water 1/4 cup at a time, until the water recedes from the sink and back down the drain hole. It's really a gross process.

But luckily, after all this, I have some clarity about our little misfortunes.... I think our house likes to keep us humble by simultaneously sabotaging various mechanical machines within it's walls to force us to reflect on how lucky we are to have such modern conveniences at our finger-tips. (We've had quite a few in our recent past... the dishwasher, storm door, and garage door, just to name a few.) For instance, if my washer had NOT broken down today, I would have never reminisced about the pioneer women, and how freakishly strong their fore arms must have been. (Seriously, my hands were cramping up after wringing out 2 pairs of jeans.)... And how grateful I am that I don't have to have a bucket under my sink specifically for "wet garbage that won't burn" like we had growing up.

So really, I should be thanking my lucky potato peels (that's what clogged up the disposal in the first place), for this opportunity to be appreciative for what I have... and that all it takes is a phone call to our home-warranty repair guy to come out and fix it! it really is THAT easy! (I hope!)

Laundry or bunnies?

I can't decide if my laundry is actually a living creature, or not. Every time I turn around, it is reproducing with itself... if that's even possible... in what I can only guess is an attempt to survive and avoid becoming extinct forever! ... Or maybe it's because I do SEVERAL batches of laundry, only to get tired of it and not touch it for a few days, thus getting behind?... Naaaaahhhh... it's multiplying with itself!

In an attempt to stay on top of it all, I typically convince myself that once I have completed a project, I won't have to do it again... ever. It must be some sort of coping mechanism, because I do it with laundry, vacuuming, mopping, grocery shopping, and rotating the kids' clothes in and out of storage. Deep down, I know it's not possible that I will NEVER have to do it again... but day after day, I trick myself into a soothing sort of denial, until that dreadful day comes when it is time to do it all over again!

I need therapy! ... or maybe just a maid!


I'm watching "The Kate Story".... from Jon and Kate + 8... and I don't buy it that she's willing to give up the spotlight. I think she's secretly loving it... otherwise she would call it quits. Why am I watching this? I can't look away!

deja vu?...

As I was standing in line at Joanne's Fabric today, my falling accident from yesterday was replaying in my head. I had to hold back the giggles as I thought of what I must have looked like. The word "pathetic" comes to mind. My mind wandered a bit, as I tapped my fingers on the counter in lieu of hollering at the "fabric cutter" to hurry it up, because I had to pick up my son from pre-school!

But while I waited, I was reminded of a similar incident that happened, ironically, the last time I was at Regency Mall several years ago. I was again, sitting in the play area, watching Josh and Caleb play. I sat there on the benches, with my legs crossed under me. Caleb was 1 or 2 at the time, and like Brooks, was also fond of running OUT of the play area. So I jumped up to stop him, but my feet were still entangled below me, and I fell forward like a corpse, flat on my face. The lady whose lap I practically fell into, politely said without laughing, "Don't worry, I don't think anyone else saw."

I tried to believe her, even though I knew it was not possible. The area is surrounded on all sides by a wall of benches, and the entire play area is plopped right there next to the food court. According to my calculations, there was a high probability that 30 or more people could have seen me fall like a 5'7" tree in the forest.

But as humiliating as it was, I had to push these thoughts aside, because Caleb now had a significant head start towards the elevator. I jumped up, adjusted my pants and bolted. I managed to snag his shirt, just before he stepped foot in the open elevator.

Apparently this seems to be a reoccurring event for me, and if there's any chance at retaining any sort of dignity at this mall, I really wish they would install a gate at the opening of that play area! Maybe with my kids contained, I would have a fighting chance of staying upright at the next play group!

Please don't tell me I'm the only one who has fallen down in public! Please share your stories so I don't feel like an idiot alone!

I don't need a crutch!

Whenever I go awhile without writing, I start feeling the pressure... like I should have something profound and intelligent to say after a hiatus of silence. Well, don't hold your breath... because I have nothing insightful or philosophical to say, but rather, just another embarrassing, awkward and shameful experience by yours truly.

Today I was enjoying a lovely outing to the Regency Square Mall play area for a play group activity, where my 4 year old was bored because he was surrounded by "babies" (since everyone was 2 and under), and my 1 year old was determined to escape from the play area. I, on the other hand, was entertained by stimulating adult conversation, regardless/in spite of the tantrums of my 1 year old. But after about an hour, I succumbed to my back-arching baby, and allowed him to walk outside of the play area to the quarter-operated fire engine and ice cream truck "rides". He was enthralled... I was, to no avail, straining to make out the conversation from 50 feet away. As I walked around the fire truck, I failed to see the little slope underfoot, despite the bright yellow painted line.

My ankle rolled... my head whipped back... my arms flailed... and my body crumpled to the floor (literally).

Luckily, besides the other 2 year old playing on the fire truck, the only other eye witness was a small elderly woman. Even my fellow "play-groupers" failed to see my humiliated collapse. I stood up quickly, favoring my right ankle a bit, and tried to determine the seriousness of my injury. Could I make it to the stroller well enough to hobble out the door?... Or should I just throw myself back on the floor and wait for someone to call an ambulance?

I decided that I MUST "walk it out!" My head felt light... my stomach felt queasy... and my feet felt cold because of the pain. But I managed to carry my things back to the congregation of other moms.

Luckily, my ankle felt fine to walk, and for the rest of the day, I could easily maneuver around acorns and pine cones on the way to the bus stop, I avoided the unevenness of the pavement in our driveway, and bounced up and down the steps without hesitation.

But now, 9 hours after play group, I'm sitting here with an ice pack and my foot elevated, nursing my anterior talofibular ligament (okay, I had to look that one up), hoping with everything that I am that crutches are not in my future!

what's the point of going to bed?

Last night, I had a list of things to do...
1) Go the store to pick up a few more items for my co-op preschool lesson
2) While at the store, pick up a few food storage items to finish canning, before I have to give the canner back.
3) Finish preschool lesson
4) Go to bed

Went to Walmart at 9:40pm, and managed to fill my cart to the brim with food storage stuff. Aaaah, it feels so good! I pulled into the driveway at 10:30pm (I stocked up and checked out, in less then an hour! Are you impressed?... It's easy with no kids in tow!) I came home to Mike emptying out the garage. At first I was annoyed, because I had a lot to do, but it didn't take me long before I was completely enthrawled in the project. We were working together like a well-oiled machine... tossing stuff here, hanging up stuff there, organizing things over there! We brought that garage back into submission, and it looks amazing... well, it does to us anyway!

Garage cleaned by 2:00 am?... check! Baby wakes up at 2:01... check! Baby back in bed by 2:30 am?... check!

Then I realized I forgot one of the vital materials for my preschool craft! So I had to reinvent the craft.
Long story short... I was crawling into bed by 5:45 am... only to set the alarm for 6:55 am to wake up Josh. Mike got up, and I ended up sleeping til 8:30 am. Still not enough time, but better!

Now, I'm wondering what good those 2 1/2 hours got me. I'm draggin' and baggin'! (translation: I can't move, and have bags under the eyes)

Tonight? Go to bed at 9:00 pm.... if I even make it that long!

I'm just a Z-List Celebrity...

www.eslpod.com/.../ 2008/12/realitytv1.jpg

Today I felt like I was on stage in my very own Reality Show!

SCENE 1: Me and the boys went to the park, and had a very pleasant time. (Cue symphony and sunlight) Josh and Caleb were polite and playing nicely with each other. Eventually, after 1 1/2 hours of blissful romping, I thought to myself, "Well, it's about time to go". My children appeared spontaneously, and gathered around me, as if they had just read my mind. I said, "Shall we go?", and they all nodded and skipped happily to the car, helping each other in and fastening their seat belts. I could almost hear the "crowd" sighing with delight... "Aaaahhh!"... as they watched our melodious exit from the park! The boys asked to go inside McDonald's for lunch. This is something I rarely do anymore because it's always such a fiasco, but this time, I felt confident that it would be a good day to splurge.

SCENE 2: We fumbled with the door on the way into McDonald's, and I immediately could feel all eyes were on us. I ordered our food, and started filling up drinks. This was a bit cumbersome because I was holding my 1 year-old on my hip, a large diaper bag over one shoulder, and trying to maneuver around the crowded drink station. Josh and Caleb couldn't have been more angelic as they held their cups carefully, and volunteered to collect the napkins and straws. I told them to go into the kids area and find an empty table. While they went on ahead, I filled up ketchup cups with my one free hand, (I could almost hear the applause) and then carried the towering tray of food into the play area to find the boys. On my way there, a man turned around without seeing me, and I could almost hear the gasps from the crowd, as I lifted the tray over my head with my one hand (not even one fry fell), baby on hip, large diaper bag over one shoulder, and did a little three-quarter spin to avoid collision. I resisted the urge to say "Ta-Dah", and take a bow when I realized my audience was not impressed... tough crowd.

I thought Josh was coming to my rescue to open the door. But the crocodile tears were only a foreshadowing of what lay ahead.
(Cue evil, villian music)
SCENE 3: Apparently, in an attempt to set down 3 drinks at once, Josh had spilled my medium sized pop. I struggled to remain calm and understanding. I walked over to the disaster zone, and saw a waterfall of root beer flowing over the table, onto a chair and then pooling onto the floor amidst boulders of ice. There were splatters around the circumference of the table within inches of other people's feet. Our wet and sticky table was the only empty table in the entire vicinity, and we were surrounded by spectators on all sides. All of them were staring at us.

I couldn't help but recreate the scene in my mind. Two small boys carrying drinks, searching for an empty table without an adult... the drink spills, and they become flustered wondering what to do. Everyone stares. No one offers to help.

(Cue my entrance.) I'm not much help either. I don't have enough napkins to even make a dent, and I'm still carrying a baby on my hip, gigantic over the shoulder diaper bag, and a tray of food which more accurately resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Meanwhile, I can hear the booing and hissing from the audience, and I even had to dodge a few peanuts as I exited stage left. I looked around desperately for some help. All eyes quickly avert. So I abandon Josh and Caleb once again to go get help. A uniformed man reluctantly and hesitantly follows me on stage, and suddenly becomes disgusted with his role. I awkwardly gather up all the food, and wrap my foot around a high chair, and kick it out the door into the main part of the restaurant because I don't have a free hand, and begin the search for another empty table. I turn and give one last look at my disappointed audience... they all breath a sigh of relief... END SCENE!

Dang It!!!

I think some of you have heard me say that I want to invent a mop that goes on your baby's clothes so they can pick up lint and dust while they crawl around!

Turns out it's already been invented! I'm too slow!

So much for making millions!

3 days in a row...

I'm not entirely sure... but when I saw the shirt that Josh laid out for school last night strewn across the couch this morning, I knew something wasn't quite right.

For the past couple weeks, my hubby has been getting Josh off to school. He likes it because it gets him out the door early for work, and I like it because I can catch some extra Z's in the morning! So every night I get his lunch packed, backpack ready, and make sure he lays out his clothes... all in preparation for a streamlined and flawless departure.

But yesterday afternoon, Josh bounded off the bus wearing the same shirt as he wore the day before. Odd, I thought... and borderline embarrassing, since he has a ton of clean shirts stacked in his drawer. So I asked him about it... and he confirmed that he had indeed worn the same shirt twice. I suggested that he not do that again because it needed to be washed. Enough said.

So this morning, when I found the abandoned shirt this morning, I did a double take and found myself conducting a search for the infamous green t-shirt that he had sported for the past two days. All laundry hampers were "green t-shirt free", which leads me to believe that he is WEARING the shirt AGAIN!. Now, it's T-minus 11 minutes until the truth will be known. Honestly, I'm a little worried. This is not like Josh. I mean, I can barely get the boy to wear a perfectly clean pair of jeans twice as a favor to me, to help me cut down on laundry. But lately, I've had to remind him to actually use shampoo, as opposed to just getting wet... I've had to retrain and inspect his teeth brushing abilities... and now I have to keep track of his wardrobe to keep him from looking like a homeless person?

*********** Brief Intermission*************

Josh came home, and thankfully he is NOT wearing the green t-shirt! I'm not sure where it is... (I should check his drawers)... but he has a lovely #22 navy blue t-shirt on with khaki cargo shorts. I can now show my face at school. Thank you Josh!

If there's a Wii, there's a way!

"Could they ask me any more questions? How many snacks can one 4 year old eat? Is it possible for the house to be any messier? How long has that bag of grapes been in his backpack? If I have to pick up one more sock, I'm gonna...! Are they really fighting AGAIN? Oh no, please don't tell me they woke up the baby!"

All of this is normal chatter that rumbles through my head on any given day... and most of the time, it goes almost unnoticed. I go from one thought to the next without much effort. It just floats around in there, and I just keep on going. It must be some sort of coping mechanism that all moms are endowed with, otherwise, I'm sure that we would all face certain, and unavoidable insanity.

But there are some days where these thoughts are enough to push me over the edge. A couple weeks ago, it was on a day such as this, (let's call this day "D-Day", which will serve as an alternative to boring you with all the gorey details) that I was actually pushed beyond my limits. I was feeling torn in every which way... emotionally, mentally and even physically! Now, I've come close to this state of being before, and thought that I had exceeded my own capabilities, but in reality, I wasn't even close to where I was on D-Day. And as scary as it sounds, I'm sure that someday in the future, I will be stretched again and will find myself looking back on D-Day and laughing. After all, that's how we grow, right? ... The next trial will seem a little easier because of what we have experienced in the past, therefore making us that much more prepared?

So back to my story... on my D-Day, I was miserable. But, there were still things to do, someone else's needs to be met, little mouths to feed, a little person that needed a nap. And it was more then I could do!

But I found myself rescued! Not by someone... but rather, something came to my rescue and saved my life that day! His name was Indiana Jones! Wii Lego Indiana Jones, to be more specific! He miraculously had the ability to subdue my needy children for a couple of hours while I rushed around in my crazy state of mind! There was something about his square physique, and the way that he cracked that whip, that captured the attention of Josh and Caleb, and kept them completely entertained when I couldn't!

Now I'm not condoning playing video games all day, every day... but there are days when we all need a little extra help! So on those days where you're feeling stretched beyond what you can stand... just think to yourself, "Where there's a Wii, there's a way!" That's what I learned on my D-Day!

my hero... isn't he handsome?

a Time Machine?... almost.

I wore a polar fleece vest today... first time in a long time... and I reached into the pocket and felt a little piece of fabric. I turned it around in my fingers for a few minutes before actually taking it out to see what it was, but once I saw it, I was thrown back in time!

It's amazing how sights, smells, tastes, sounds, and in this case, objects, can do that to you... happy or sad... good or bad... You find yourself drifting back to that time remembering little details that might as easily been forgotten.

This weekend, we drove past the Virginia State Fair, with the car windows open so we could catch a whiff. Of course, it's not the same as the Alaska State Fair that I remember so fondly from my childhood... but the smells were still the same, and had the same effect. Cotton candy and hamburgers. Suddenly, memories of standing in line for the Octopus, gawking at stinky, over-sized farm animals, spray-painted mohawks, and button photographs flashed through my mind.

So where did that little piece of fabric in my vest pocket take me today? It was actually a piece of tattered black and white polka dot ribbon. The last time I wore this vest was February 13, 2009, when I was decorating for my sister's wedding. She got married the next day on February 14th, and it was a very HAPPY DAY! It was a celebration... of two families coming together as one! We laughed, cried, and ate a lot of food. We reminisced and took pictures so we wouldn't forget. The Grover Family grew a little a little bigger that day. And I was so happy to be a part of it! I'm forever grateful for my parents who flew us up for the occasion. And even now, 8 months later, words can't express the feelings that rushed back all because of that little piece of ribbon.

To the Silva's! I love you guys!


Ran across this website today... why can't I think of these things??
Chuck the Yuck is a hip line of . . . barf bags! Designed to stylishly dispose of all pregnancy and kid-related yuck. From morning sickness and motion sickness, to everyday yucky stuff, like dirty diapers and melted ice cream cones, Chuck the Yuck is a hip way to catch and toss it all. With Chuck the Yuck in your diaper bag, handbag and hybrid you will always be prepared for life’s yuckiest surprises! I love their tag-line... "Keep the kids - Chuck the Yuck!"
Visit their website at: Chuck the Yuck

If I could change one thing...

I've come to a point in my life where I'm pretty content with my body. Yes, I know that there are areas that need some work... I'm not blind, people! But after more then a few years, I've grown accustomed to my large eyes, long legs, and detached earlobes.

But yesterday, I felt embarrassed about my appearance for the first time in a long time, while sitting at my very own dinner table. This is the conversation word for word.

Mike (my husband): "Hey Josh, what's between mom's eyes?"
Josh (my 7 year-old son): "Her nos..." (he stopped himself as soon as I looked in his direction, and corrected himself)... "oh wait, ... a big goat horn!"
Mike, Josh and Caleb: "Look, it's Goooaaaat Mooooom!" ... followed by goat noises and giggling... even Baby Brooks joined in the laughter!

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term "Goat Mom", it's the title that my family gives me whenever the slightest blemish makes an appearance on my usually clear skin. But as embarrassing as it is, I have to admit, I can't really blame them, because it really doesn't help when that "blemish" is planted smack dab in the middle of my eyes! I mean, really... that zit is almost ASKING for someone to compare it to a horn simply because of it's location! Honestly, I can only think of one place that would be worse then right between the eyes.

The thing is, whenever Mike gets a zit, I try to reverse the name-calling and reciprocate the animal sounds (all in fun, of course), but it just doesn't have the same effect. The boys don't join me in the banter when it's directed at their dad, because there's apparently something about "Gooooaaaat Moooom" that allows it to roll off the tongue with more ease... or maybe I'm just not as good at rallying the troops and uniting them in the same cause... or maybe I'm just an easy target because I'm outnumbered 4 to 1!

Whatever it is, I find myself at a loss for words.

Is there anyone else out there who feels the same way? How do you deal with being outnumbered in your family? I'm desperate for some moral support!


A friend told me about this book, and I can testify that it is REALLY cute! It's especially great for mothers of boys, because it's touching in a cool sort of way that boys can appreciate! And the pictures are amazing! I definitely give it 10 thumbs up! But get out your kleenex... it just might make you cry!

I didn't think I was THAT old!

I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, "Wow, I look tired today.... thank goodness I don't have any gray hairs... then I'd really look old!" Oh wait... what is that? I took a closer look... my mouth fell open in horror as I saw my darkened roots glistening in the bathroom light! Normally I highlight my hair... but it's been months since I've forked over the money for a high-priced do... so PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong... but is it normal for a hair to be blond at the tips, dark in the middle and then light again at the roots?

I plucked a few hairs out, and examined them. I held them up to the light... I held them against a dark towel... I floated them in water to see if they pointed true north. After all that, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that the lighter color I saw was in fact gray... silver... frosty... no matter what you call it, it sounds terrible!

Now, I intend no offense to anyone who has gray hair, because honestly, I've always laughed at people who fret about gray hair. I mean, it's just part of growing older... part of life. But I didn't think it would happen at my young old age of 31!

I don't think this will be the start of a mid-life crisis... I doubt that I will lie awake tonight stressing about it (after all, isn't that how gray hairs come about? ... stress?) But one thing I do know for sure... I'm not telling Mike... otherwise, I'll NEVER hear the end of it!

pavlov's dog

Despite what Mike (my hubby) thinks, I'm not a complicated person. In fact, I've been conditioned throughtout my life to feel certain things, do certain things and think certain things when placed in certain situations. So I'm really more predictable then one might think.

For example, I get a knot in my stomach on the first day of school, even if I'm not even GOING to school... I fall asleep every single time I've tried to watch Napoleon Dynamite, and have yet to see the darn movie in its entirety... there's something about watching Tom and Jerry that takes me back to 1985 in Grandma Fiscus' basement... I'm hypnotized by a slight head rub, and will do or say almost anything... the sight of blood makes my legs ache... the sound of styrofoam rubbing together makes me cringe... and I rarely make it through a Sunday afternoon without passing out for a nap! All of these things happen without even thinking... it's completely out of my control... it's like I can't help myself!

So far, Pavlovian tricks like these have not been a problem, and they haven't hindered my way of life. But there is one little bit of stimuli that I completely rely upon every year. It's taken me several years to realize it, but I am completely reliant upon it, and when it doesn't happen, I feel... empty!

It's actually a long process... a series of events that occur usually in a particular order. It's happened since before I can remember... part of life in Alaska. So, come with me as I take you on a journey of an Alaskan Fall.

Once late August hits, a very distinct crispness sneaks into the morning air. Next the State Fair comes to town, and with it, the sweet aroma of cotton candy and Husky Burgers float on the breeze... and the distant cries from the Ferris Wheel and Tilt A Whirl echo into the night. Then comes September and the start of school. That flashing strobe on top of the school bus still instills me with a sense of urgency as a result of many hurried walks to the bus stop. Then one morning, you look up and see a hint of white on the mountain tops... the first dusting of snow. (Mom told me this happened yesterday in AK) Once that hits, the snow is almost as predictable as the sun rising. Then it happens... usually in October... THE FIRST SNOWFALL! Cue the Alabama Christmas CD... ironic, since we're in Alaska... but effective, none the less! Now we're on our way into the holiday season! It's like there is literally something in the air...

But here in Virginia, I am not so cheerful about the holidays. I have to MAKE myself put up the Christmas decorations... and I have to force myself to start baking! For years I have wondered what is WRONG with me!

Until today, when I realized that I can finally blame my "bah-hum-bugness" on something else... VIRGINIA WEATHER! Right now, as I type, it is a balmy 80 degrees outside with a little more then a hint of humidity. I am still more comfortable wearing shorts, but I'm so tired of shaving my legs that I have to wear pants and just sweat it out!

So, if I'm going to be any fun this holiday season, I better figure out some new "stimuli" for getting myself into the Christmas Spirit! Maybe I'll have to start playing my Christmas music after the first LEAF FALL... or something, because I'm tired of feeling like Mr. Scrooge on the inside! I'm going to beat it... and despite what they say, I think I'm going to teach this old Pavlovian Dog a new trick afterall!

This really works!

Now if only there was such a thing for 4 and 7 year olds!

10 Guilty Pleasures

10. Talking on the phone
9. Playing word games on the computer
8. Circus Peanuts candy
7. McDonald's cheeseburgers
6. Picking at scabs and/or peeling skin, including on other people
5. Talking to myself
4. Smelling baby's toes
3. Having my head rubbed
2. Getting organized
1. Not wearing a bra (only within the privacy of my own home... but trust me, it's invigorating!)


Sorry it took so long... remember, I was without a computer... But we have a winner for the Gift Certificate Giveaway!

Here are the answers:
A. Full (also accepted satisfied, sated and content)
B. Sad (also accepted remorse)
C. Wet (also accepted Cooled off, squirt me again!)
D. Chew (also accepted Pigging Out)
E. Bite (also accepted Taste)
F. Count

Shannon, please contact me directly via email (kalisijo@msn.com) to give me your mailing address!

And I'm back!

My computer went down and wouldn't boot up for almost 2 weeks, and you would have thought that I lost my right arm! Seriously, you never realize how debilitating no internet access can be until you have to go without it. I couldn't check email (which is more vital then a phone to me). I had to unfold a real map and route my own directions so I could go to a bridal shower. I had to thumb through an actual cookbook to find a recipe that contained 3 specific ingredients and would only take 23 minutes from start to finish. I had to pay some of my bills with a stamp and envelope because I couldn't use my BillPay. All of these things were completely inconvenient.

But at the same time, it actually has been a little more relaxing around here, because I have been blissfully unaware of the things that I could have... should have... would have done, if I had simply gotten the email. But as a result, I had one less thing on my To-Do List... one less thing to feel guilty about... one less thing to occupy my mind with.

And to be completely honest, I would almost recommend it to anyone to "lose" their cell phone for a week... or just turn off their computer for a few days just to experience the brief euphoria that accompanies complete and utter ignorance. I know, I know... ignorance is never true happiness... but it does feel good for a little while!

Not going down without a fight!

I feel like I am a fairly organized person. I have a chart with all my chores divided up throughout the week... there are picture labels on my toy bins... I have a card catalog for the 38 Rubbermaid tubs in my attic... I have a pretty good system for rotating out the boys' clothes every season and passing them onto the next kid in line... I keep disinfectants and cleaners in every single bathroom for easy access... and theoretically I have a place for everything in my house.

So why is my house a mess with clutter all the time? Why do I spend the majority of my time doing "quick pick-ups" as my mom used to call it? Seriously, clutter is the bane of my existence! I can't stand it... but I don't live without it!

And now, three kids and a husband later, I not only have my own clutter to deal with, but I have the clutter of four other people! Birthday party goody bags... could totally do without 'em! Kids' meal toys... can't stand 'em! Coloring pages from school and church... love to see 'em for 5 seconds, but want to toss 'em before the day is done! The list goes on and on!

Now, I'm not asking for advice from all you organizational gurus out there... Don't even try to tell me your tried and true systems for keeping track of it all! And rest assured, I've read all the books, websites, articles, magazines and handouts on organization! In fact, I think I've even created a few handouts myself. Now don't get me wrong, the yesterday's version of me would have welcomed all those tips, tricks and shortcuts with open boxes and a cute little basket! But today, don't mess with me! Today I'm on a venting rampage and I'm sick of trying to solve it all! I'm just throwing it out there to the cosmos that I just want it to be gone! I don't want to make a pile of stuff to go through... or a pile of things to give to good will... I just want it to be gone! Honestly, there's part of me that wouldn't mind if my house burned down today just so I wouldn't have to deal with all the clutter!

But if you know me at all, you'll know that I'm a realist. I'm obviously not waiting for that winning lottery ticket to solve all the financial issues (especially since I never buy them), so therefore, I'm not waiting for a quick fix to clutter either... (especially a house fire... I was just saying... ).

I realize after "x" amount of years, (I'm at that point in my life, where I don't find it necessary to share me age anymore) that clutter just isn't going anywhere when you make it a nice little place to call home and tuck it in gently every night. Although I'm always on the lookout for a drawer or bin or shelf or bucket... those things have only enabled my chronic condition! So today I'm left with only one foreseeable solution to this epic condition... PITCH IT! So here's a message to the clutter in my house... "If you think that you can creep into the corners and lay in wait until my moment of weakness to pounce upon me and smother me to death... then know that I'm not going down without taking some of you with me! Good bye clutter... I'm taking a stand!"

Take the Test... win a prize!

Last week I got hired for a freelance photography job that needed photos of children doing different things to accompany about 100 different action words or phrases. This seemed like an easy thing to do... just take pictures of my kids, right? Well, they have very detailed descriptions and requirements about the facial expressions and body positioning, not to mention having a clean and clear background, good lighting, etc.

So I've been working on this project on and off again for about a week... and the past two days have been horrible! Trying to capture feelings of sadness, fear and boredom are not as easy as you might think. As soon as I snap a picture, the kids think they are done and run away. Little do they know that the lighting wasn't just right, so I have to readjust my camera and do it again. Then there's the issue of getting them to be serious and not laugh... to smile pleasantly, but not look creepy... and to just hold still! And how in the world do you communicate the word "taste" in a still photo? Really!

By the time I get paid for this, I'm going to breathe a huge sigh of relief... and think twice about involving my children in work. I've resorted to paying them with candy every time I finish the shot. The end result? They've had more sugar in 2 days then I even care to keep track of! (Maybe that's why they can't hold still!)

Yes, we've been spending a lot of time together... but in this case, quantity is NOT quality time. I've been barking... and they've been whining!

Right now they are out on their "break" enjoying the 65 degree weather... and I'm going to go take a shower! Hopefully we'll all still have our hair by the end of the day!

TAKE THE TEST: Guess the word which best describes each photo, (it could be an adjective, emotion or verb). Leave your answers in the "Comments", and be sure to check back on September 7th to get the results. The person with the most correct answers will win a $15 gift card to Walmart! It's THAT easy! GOOD LUCK!
A) ...emotion...
C)... adjective...
D)... verb...
E)... verb...
F)... verb...


Posture is everything, especially at bath time. Start ‘em off right with the Primo Infant Bath ($12). The best way to bathe your little one is with them sitting upright, and the Primo ensures they stay up without you having to prop them against the side of the sink. No bending over for you, either. Suction cups hold the base down, and the design offers full leg and arm support. Perfect posture, perfect bath.


"Come wipe my bum!" echoed through the house as I was just settling in at the computer to get some work done. There's something about these words that puts a little knot in my stomach. It's my least favorite thing to do... but I'm not exactly confident that I can relinquish this task to my soon to be 4 year old (as of tomorrow). So 3-4 times a day, I begrudgingly make the trek to have him "assume the position".

Taking a brief glance into the bowl, I saw something I have never seen before. It was a toilet phenomenon that defied all laws of the universe that I know of, and I had to share my findings with someone, but I surprised myself when I immediately brought it to Caleb's attention. We both stared, almost in awe, into the porcelain wonder. It wasn't until I caught myself giggling and pointing that I realized that I had completely violated the Code of Motherly Ethics by discussing such topics with my son, because surely such behavior would come back to haunt me.

Several days later, while walking through Walmart, something (still unknown to us all) triggered Caleb's memory of "The Bathroom Incident of August 21st", and he exclaimed loudly in the middle of the frozen food section, "Hey Mom, remember when my poop was standing up in the toilet all by itself?"

Yes, this was a moment that would make every mother proud.

Bedtime or Bust!

By 8:00 p.m., I'm done! All I want to do is curl up on the couch in the fetal position and watch a movie until I fall asleep and block out the events of the day. Although that rarely happens, as a result of dishes, laundry and kids that just won't tire, it's a goal of mine every single night!

Last night, there was thumping, bumping, crashing, banging, slamming and laughing for over an hour after said "bedtime". I am, however, grateful that there was no yelling, crying or tattling... but is it too much to ask for the boys to just lay their sleepy (or non sleepy) little heads down and close their eyes? Is it too much to ask to have some peace and quiet after a long, hard day? Because honestly, I don't feel like I get a break until they are passed out asleep!

I finally ventured upstairs to check out the damage, and found that Josh was in his bed, but Caleb was no where to be found. Suddenly he emerged from behind a mountain of clothes completely decked out in the best things the closet had to offer! I had to turn away to laugh because he looked hysterical. I kept looking at Josh, who had his chin propped up on his hands just observing the fashion show.

This is what I saw...
Introducing Caleb Trentadue... as the self-proclaimed, "Michael Curb!"

For my blog's sake, we recreated the "look", because I just didn't have the energy last night!


If you can actually get your husband to WEAR the diaper bag, then this truly is a Mommy Marvel!

Dad's Diaper Vests
This wearable diaper bag is the hottest innovation in parenting gear since the diaper bag itself. Combining comfort and style, you can change, feed, and entertain your child with ease and no one will be able to tell you are wearing your diaper bag. We have strategically placed pockets for all of the baby-care essentials that a diaper bag would hold. The Vest is constructed with high quality materials for ultimate durability and longevity. It is better looking than most fleece vests available in sporting goods stores but with specific functionality for carrying all of your essential dad gear!

What's a girl to do?

Today I spent 2 hours by myself wandering around Richmond. A good friend of mine watched all three kiddos so I could go and do something FUN all by my lonesome! It was wonderful! I went to a discount fabric store downtown, and got lost in thought gazing at upholstery fabric, imagining the possibilities! But despite the unusual silence in the store, I found it difficult to really focus, because as I wandered through the tiny isles with nothing in hand but my "too-small-to-hold-a-diaper" purse, I found myself calculating the space between each isle in order to estimate the approximate turning circumference of a stroller, as well as possible hiding places for toddlers, and mapping out the closest route to the exit in case of an emergency temper tantrum.

So, as enjoyable as it was to get a break... I guess it's difficult to separate the mom from the Mommy in just 2 hours. :)

Sand and Salt and everything icky...

That's what beaches are made of!

Yesterday our family drove 2 hours to Virginia Beach for the day! We... and when I say "we", I actually mean "I"... packed up the car with towels and snacks. After about two hours and seven "Are we there yet's" we found $5 parking and packed up the stroller for our 3 block trek to the beach.

I love the way the your feet burn as you trudge through the ankle deep sand pulling a stroller...and there's nothing like slathering sunscreen onto little bodies that feels more like a body scrub then lotion... you can't beat the grit in your teeth as you take a swig of luke warm water... or the salt on your lips when you bite into a sloppy peanut butter and jelly sandwich... I can hardly wait to go back and sit near the water's edge with my 10 month old as sand and shells wash through my swim suit... not to mention walking hand in hand, hunched over with a baby who can't walk yet... and to stare longingly into the mouth of baby to retrieve endless amounts of sand... and there's something about that stringy, wind-blown, knotty hair that makes my husband just want to run his fingers through it... and where else am I going to find a dirty, little hand to wipe sand out of my son's eyes... graceful seagulls swooping dangerously close to snatch up goldfish... seriously, this place is magical, not like any other place!

I think we might go back next week!


Eliminate milk moustaches, chocolate faces, sticky fingers, grease, dried food, latte foam, gas-pump grunge and mystery dirt. Its gentle blend and antimicrobial properties leave skin clean and fresh. It's not a sanitizer, it's MomSpit, the universal no-rinse cleanser. You wouldn't use sanitizer to remove ketchup from your child's face after they've gobbled fries in the backseat of your car. MomSpit cleans dirt and grime, leaving skin clean, moisturized and smelling yummy. Its scents are fresh and friendly. There's even unscented for those of you who love naked 'n' natural. It contains no alcohol, mousses brilliantly, absorbs quickly and feels great. It's soap and water sans le sink. Contains no human saliva... because that would be gross!


Snakes and Snails take on it: Just a few days ago, I resorted to using a little of my own spit to get some dried milk off the corner of my 7 year old's mouth. He was mortified! If only I had this stuff to whip out instead! What will they think of next??

Check back every Monday for the latest "Modern Mommy Marvels"! If YOU come across a Mommy Marvel, email me at: kalisijo@msn.com to have your find posted on My Three Snakes and Snails! I'm looking for new and unique items that make our jobs as Mommies so much easier!

Walmart... only slightly better then torture!

On Saturday, I took a trip to Walmart to take advantage of the "Tax Free School Supplies Weekend" in Virginia. Josh had a birthday party, so Caleb and Brooks were my little side kicks on this "adventure!" We wandered through the cram-packed isles looking for the 24 count box of Crayola crayons, the large glue sticks, fine tip markers - 10 count, large tip markers - 10 count, the Ziploc bags with the slider seal, the wipes in the round container, etc... Don't EVEN get me started on requirements for the school supplies.

Caleb was being very helpful picking out the colors that Josh would like, and Brooks was happy eating his Cheerios and flirting with strangers.

I spent 12 minutes burrowing through 2-pocket folders looking for anything that wasn't covered in fairies and kitties. There is always a plethora of girly things, and a shortage of boy things. This happens every year, so I don't know why I'm still shocked... but when I saw a little girl sporting a princess t-shirt and sparkly flip flops snatch up the 2nd to last "masculine" folder in the isle, I almost leaped over 3 carts ape-style, hollering like Sponge Bob when he goes jelly-fishing to pry that folder out of her little kung-fu grip! Seriously, there were mountains of folders... WHY DID SHE HAVE TO CHOOSE THE LAST PLAIN BLUE ONE! But I contained myself, and was left with only one puke green folder, when I was supposed to have five.

When I got to the check-out, and had put 3/4 of my items on the conveyor belt, I realized that I had left my checkbook in the car. Now for those of you who think I'm completely Old-School for using checks for anything other then paying fines at the library, let's rewind this story about 4 hours when I received a call from Bank of America stating that there had been fraudulent charges on my ATM card. Therefore, they needed to cancel my card and issue a new one, which I would have to pick up in person within the next 7 minutes before the bank closes on a Saturday. Yeah, that's not gonna happen. So you see, I was left with no other option but to write a check.

So back at the check-out stand, I made my confession to the cashier and she said I could run get it without a problem. So I grabbed Brooks out of the cart and clutched Caleb's hand, and booked it outside in 95 degree heat to retrieve the checkbook and book it back in. My timing was perfect, and I got there just in time to see the grand total. I scribbled out the check, she ran it through the machine and she asked to see my driver's license. I knew before I even opened my wallet that I would see an empty space where my license SHOULD have been, but I pretended to look anyway. Several days prior to this, I needed a photocopy of my license but had forgotten to put it back in my wallet. Right there in Walmart, I was envisioning my abandoned license nestled inside the copier at home.

Without going into the details of why I had continued to drive around Richmond without it, I begged the cashier to input other important numbers... social security number?... library card number?... temple recommend number?... ANYTHING?

After my options were explained to me, I watched as my cart full of Tax Free items was pushed to a lonely corner at Customer Service. There it would sit until I had the energy to go home to get my license, pick up Josh from the party, drive back to Walmart in the weekend traffic, unload all three kids, truck back into Walmart and stand in line again, load the kids and bags up, drive home, unload kids and bags, just in time for the dinner-time rush where there would surely be three hungry little mouths all screaming for food! I don't know if I had it in me. On the way home, I had decided that I would not go back into Walmart that day. I was willing to sacrifice 1 1/2 hours of my precious time to avoid all that extra work!

When I rounded the corner, I saw Mike's car in the driveway. A little shaft of light shone down through the clouds, and I swore I could hear a choir of heavenly angels singing praises! I made one more trip back to Walmart that day, but it was by myself. I picked up the school supplies and looked at my receipt. I had saved $5.00. You tell me, was it worth it?
Josh on the last day of school.

Sugar and Spice ...

Last night we had a weird phenomenon at the Trentadue Household. Maybe it was something in the water... maybe the "sickness" in the house has made everyone delusional. But it was definitely out of the norm.

It started out when Josh and Caleb were obsessed with doing HAIR-DOS! That's right... they spent about 20 minutes getting their hair wet and creating various sculptures out of their hair.

Josh ended up with a slicked back John Travolta look, and Caleb was sporting a faux-hawk! They even included Brooks who was innocently watching this whole thing from his high chair. Next thing I know he had a serious comb-over!

As the night went on, Caleb was going through the pantry to find some kind of treat. He exited triumphantly with a box of Strawberry Pink cake mix and frosting that he had meticulously chosen from the grocery store a few days earlier.

While all this was going on, I was talking to my sister in Iowa, on the phone. When I told her I had to go because we needed to make pink cupcakes, she asked, "You and the BOYS are making PINK cupcakes? I have a girl, and I haven't even made pink cupcakes!"

I have to admit, until she so bluntly pointed it out, I hadn't noticed the irony in all of this. And after thinking about it a little more, I can recall painting each of the boys' toenails at some point because they wanted to be like mommy... and on a couple occasions my rough and tumble boys have been knows to play My Little Ponies with their cousin... and they expressed the desire for a sister when I was pregnant with our 3rd boy! So maybe it's not just something in the water... maybe there's actually a little sugar and spice, and a little something nice inside of everything... including boys!

Is ignorance really bliss?

How do you know when to take kids to the doctor?

I ask this, not because I can't tell when my child is sick. I obviously know that my 10 month old is having trouble sleeping and he is not his normal self. And you obviously can't miss the stream of slime that continues to escape those miniature little nostrils every 2 minutes. I also know that Josh and Caleb both have deep sounding coughs, so they're not in tip-top shape either. But is it just a cold? or teething? or allergies?

My dilemma now is the possibility of something worse. A few days ago, my husband was sick... sore throat, achy, fatigued and tired. This morning, all three boys are showing similar symptoms, minus the fatigue. They're all as wild as ever! So it makes me want to get out of the house FAST... but do I risk infecting others as well?

H1M1 (aka Swine Flu) has been going around, so should I be proactive and get them tested and know for sure, and incur medical and prescription bills? Or do I just plead ignorant and let it run it's course, which so far seems to be fairly mild?

Another dilemma is whether or not I'm hallucinating, or if I'm really seeing the little germs spreading all over every surface, like you see on those Lysol commercials. Maybe they're there... maybe they're not! But sometimes it's comforting knowing what those little buggers are! Is it swine flu or not?

Ahhh, decisions! What's a mother to do?

The USPS just aggravated my PMS!

Putting a 10 month-old down for a nap has become a more cumbersome task. Brooks is especially nosy and likes to see what everyone else is doing, so drinking a bottle and settling into slumber is something that has to now be done one-on-one. I carefully planned to get Josh and Caleb occupied eating lunch, so that me and Brooks could disappear upstairs to start our "nap-time routine".

After only 2 oz. of bottle, Caleb crept in and said that someone he didn't know was at the door. I was seriously committed to my goal of getting Brooks to sleep within 10 minutes, so I was not going to allow any deviation from that schedule for just anybody. But this person was persistent. I could hear yelling from the other side of the door. I told Caleb that I couldn't come to the door, so to just ignore it.

A few minutes later, Caleb came up again and said it was the mail. I peeked down the stairs and could see that the main door was now open, but the glass storm door was still shut, and the woman was trying to convince my stunned little 3 year-old to open the door, while jiggling the handle. I wanted to tell Caleb to just shut the door in her face and come upstairs, but he was terrified. He stood there frozen, mumbling barely above a whisper, "I'm not supposed to open the door. My mom can't come downstairs." All the while, I could hear this woman asking loudly, "Is your mom in the bathroom? Where is your mom! Open the door, son!"

That's it! I knew I had to intervene. I immediately turned back to put the baby in the crib, when I heard a loud call from the door. "Hello?" She had opened the door and come inside my house! I stomped down the steps, in my nightshirt... OH, did I forget to mention that I wasn't dressed for the day at 1:00 p.m.? Yes, it was "one of those days." When she saw me, to her credit, she did look a tad embarrassed, but I'm not sure if it was because she realized she just walked in without being asked, or if it was because I wasn't dressed. But her response to my confused state was, "I'm sorry, but your children wouldn't open the door."

"Yes, I know", I tried to say politely, "As you can tell from the crying baby upstairs, I was unable to answer the door, and they are not allowed to open it for strangers."

She continued to ramble, "Well, I could hear them running around inside, so I knew someone was home, so I just wanted to make sure you weren't hurt or something... mail persons have been known to save people's lives ya know. That, and I just didn't want you to have to go pick up this certified letter from the post office... I thought I would save you a trip!"

WOW! Did she really think she was doing me a favor by yelling at my kids to open the door, then freak them out by coming inside the house, causing me to have a conversation with a complete stranger while wearing my pajamas, with a screaming baby upstairs, who was supposed to be asleep 5 minutes ago? Really?

Is this what the United States Postal Service is resorting to these days to keep us all satisfied with their service? Are they really that threatened by the nickname "Snail Mail", that they feel it necessary to prove otherwise by breaking and entering just to deliver the mail?

I think they should change their slogan. Instead of "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat of day, nor gloom of night"...

It should read, "Neither lock, nor bolt, nor chain-link fence, nor large watch dog, shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

He can be taught!

I came around the corner and saw this!

This is not something that I really wanted Brooks to learn right now, but his two big brothers like to show him the ropes. Is it wrong that I don't want to embrace this new skill?

The perfect tennis shoe?... Only a fantasy!

I know exactly what I need. I know the color, size, style. I can almost envision them in my mind. But I don't think they really exist! I'm talking about the perfect boys' tennis shoe.

Not long ago I went to JC Penny's to use up some gift certificates, and I was in the market for a new pair of shoes for Caleb. I cruised through the kids' isles in search of the perfect shoe. But lo, it is not on the displays, so I ask someone for help. A young male sales associate seems eager to assist, "Can I help you with something, Ma'am?" I started rattling off my requirements. "Size 10, dark colors... navy, black or even gray will do, only velcro closures, no lights of any kind, no comic book characters and it must 'look cool' to my 3 year old." He nodded, looking confident that he could find something to meet my needs, and disappeared to that mysterious back room for several minutes.

Meanwhile, Caleb proceeded to open every shoe box he could reach in search of his idea of the perfect shoe, including the wrong size. Josh was trying to entertain Brooks, but ended up tipping the stroller part way over before hitting his head on a chair. I was sweating through my shirt.

Our sales associate, let's call him Jeff, came back bearing a mountain of shoe boxes. He opened the first box... a white pair of Addidas. I immediately turned it down because of the color, or lack there of, but he insisted that we try it on just to check the fit. I knew it was too narrow, but I tried not to insult the shoe expert and humored him. We continued to try on several dubious choices with no luck. Eventually Jeff was joined by another associate, let's call him Jim. Jeff proceeded to inform Jim of my requirements, although he forgot to mention velcro closures and no lights. For every shoe they brought out, I would take one look and reject it politely. Jeff and Jim started to look as ragged as I was. After about the 18th pair, they asked how committed I was to the velcro. "Do I look like I have time to tie shoes?" I tried to force a little smile. They nodded and closed up the box and headed to the back room.

Unfortunately for Jeff and Jim, I didn't find the perfect pair of shoes at JC Penny's. But fortunately for me (and Josh, Caleb and Brooks), we did find a nice little pair of Sketcher's at Kohl's. But I'm still trying to block out the hour and a half of my life that I'll never get back inside that JC Penny's shoe department!

I need to loosen up!

The other day we were sitting at the table eating a healthy, well-balanced dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches, grapes, carrot sticks and chocolate milk. We were all enjoying interesting conversation of how a rabbit's legs look short, but in reality they are actually pretty long. Everyone was quiet and polite and well-behaved.

Suddenly, Josh inhaled chocolate milk down the wrong tube causing him to explode in an uncontrollable cough, which splattered chocolate milk over the entire table, up onto Caleb's plate, and across Caleb's face and arms. Caleb was frozen, probably in shock, with chocolate dripping from his chin. Josh looked up, desperate to see my reaction. Even Brooks was perfectly still just taking it all in.

I couldn't contain myself any longer! I immediately burst out laughing! Almost on cue, all three boys started laughing too! The more I laughed, the more they laughed! As soon as I would start to calm down, all I had to do was look at Caleb again, covered in chocolatey spit and I would lose it all over again! Things would start to calm down again, and Caleb would say, "Did you see that chocolate on my face?" and we would laugh even harder!

This was truly a fun family experience! But I couldn't help but think of their little faces 1 second after the SPLATTER occurred, and it was tinted with a bit of fear as they awaited my response. This made my heart ache! I didn't think I was that uptight, but their faces said otherwise. I know I have scolded them for playing around at the table, and for making messes on purpose. But this was an accident. Couldn't they tell the difference? I guess not.

Here's a couple of my favorite CHOCOLATE MOMENTS!
Josh - 1st Birthday

Caleb - 1st Birthday

Must-Haves For Mothers of Boys

Although it's only been 7 1/2 years since I became a mother of boys... I have found a few things that make my life a little easier. Here are my favorite "must-haves" that you simply can't live without! (for some reason, I can't get the websites to appear as a link... I'm still working out some kinks... so I apologize for the inconvenience.)

1. Legos - From age 3-100, Legos are a sure way to entertain boys of all ages! And sometimes they even entertain the Mom!

2. Race tracks - You don't need anything fancy... the most basic of tracks will do the job, because there is something about that sliding, racing motion that keeps them entranced. The key is to find a track that is easy to put together and take apart... and can accomidate everything from match box cars to balls to marbles. Check out the following site for a great one!

3. Zip ties - You don't have to spend 20 minutes tying a tie... and there's no uncomfortable clip that digs into their neck and causes constant whining. Just put it around their neck and ZIP! Dressed to impress!

4. Balls - From baseballs to bouncy balls to footballs to tennis balls... boys can be entertained for hours by balls! Keep an assortment on hand, and they will figure out what to do with them!

5. Anything yucky and sticky... oohey and gooey... disgusting and gross... Boys love it all! But for the "clean freak" in all of us... here are some ideas for some not-so-messy alternatives that will leave them begging for more!
Gak Recipe: Ingredients:
1 cup Elmer's glue
food coloring, your choice of color (optional: coloring can stain!)
1 cup liquid starch


This is just a start... but if you have any more ideas, (I know you do!) then PLEASE let us know. Post them in the comments section for everyone to enjoy and benefit from!

Pooper Scooper... caution this post may be too graphic for some readers...

I glanced out the window today, and I couldn't help but notice this woman walking through our neighborhood. In one hand, she carried 2-3 tied up plastic grocery bags, and sticking out of the back pocket of her slacks was at least 2-3 more empty plastic grocery bags. In her other hand, she kept a firm grip on a leash as she was being dragged (in her high-heeled shoes) down the street by a large, somewhat disobedient dog. Before she got out of sight, I was disgusted as I watched this beast of a dog turn in a familiar circle and hunch its back to relieve himself on the corner of another neighbor's yard (thank goodness). I was then horrified to watch this seemingly classy woman bend over and snatch up the still steaming pile using only her hand and a thin Walmart plastic bag. And if you didn't catch on when I said this was a large dog, I'll have to be more specific... This was a large poop as well! It took several swipes to get it all. And remember the 2-3 tied up bags dangling in her other hand?... and the 2-3 more empty bags in her pocket? Yes, this was a "multiple pooping dog" as well!

I sat there with my mouth open, staring, because it was too horrible to look away... wondering how someone could stoop to the level of picking up the poop of a dog!

I was pulled away from my repugnant trance by he sound of my almost 4 year-old son's voice echoing down the stairs from the bathroom, "Mom, come wipe my bum!" I ran upstairs and did the "duty", and then minutes later realized that my 10 month old was working on a project of his own. Instinctively, I scooped him up and hooked the edge of his diaper with my finger to peek in and check on his progress. I couldn't see anything at first, but I had to be sure, so I reached in a little further to do a quick sweep. In hind sight, this seems like an obvious mistake, but at the time, it seemed perfectly logical! (and I know that some of you have done this on at least one occasion, so don't be too critical!) My next few seconds were spent running to the nearest sink to disinfect myself of what I think was a piece of carrot on the end of my finger!

It was then that I came to a sudden awareness of the similarities between these 2 incidents. Do you see where I'm going with this? Wasn't I doing the exact same thing as the high-heeled woman walking her dog? Had I become so numb that I was barely phased by the possible consequences of plummeting my finger into a child's diaper without even the protection of a plastic bag?

I stood in the bathroom, still scrubbing my hands, and tried to justify my actions... and debated with myself...I'm taking care of a human, not a dog, so it makes perfect sense to clean up after a human... But some people love their dogs, and therefore treat them as children... I guess, If you love someone so much, you are even willing to pick up their poop with your almost bare hands, and plunge your finger into a diaper that is almost certainly filled with poop!

So, I'm proud to say that I'm embarrassed to admit that one of the roles as a mother of young children is "Glorified Pooper Scooper!" But maybe I can maintain a little more dignity if I do it while wearing heels!

Waking up 5 times in one night? Really?

It's as if they can sense how tired we are. Like they are trying to torture us, or get us back somehow. That's how I feel when my babies wake up during the night after they are truly capable of sleeping through it! Although I am partly to blame... I allowed myself to have a little fun yesterday and chose to forego the afternoon nap (of my 9 month old, not mine... although that was detrimental as well!) But I was trying to be flexible... to show that this baby has to roll with the punches in this family and do what we do. "Oh, you want a nap? Sorry, we're having a play date, you'll have to tough it out!"

Consequence of my actions: an over-tired baby... and an over-tired mamma.

Lesson learned: We must not leave the house between the hours of 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. (sigh.)

I declare today "NO SHOWER DAY!"

Today is just one of those days. Blunder #1: I awoke to the sound of my 9 month-old singing in the baby monitor, and rolled out of bed after only 5 hours of sleep. Blunder #2: I looked at my "To Do List" at 8:30 am, and realized that I was already behind schedule, so some items would have to go! Blunder #3: Unfortunately for me, (and for everyone else), the item I chose to delete was my shower.

As a result of aforesaid blunders, other important and often crucial items began falling from the list as well. Brush hair? delete. Make-up? delete. Put on bra? delete. Seriously, what's the point?

Once days like this are declared "No Shower Days", there's even more reason to just stay home, so the announcement is often made to the entire household so there are no misunderstandings/misconceptions/miscommunications. On some occasions, the boys even join me in this declaration and we all enjoy our jammies together, therefore sanctioning such behavior as a monumental day... a family holiday, if you will. On days such as this, it is perfectly acceptable to watch cartoons until noon, play inside all day, take naps and talk on the phone!

The only glitch in this plan is the arrival of my husband when he sees my hair pulled in clips every which way and realizes that it was "one of those days"! He knows that to his demise, a steaming, hot meal was only a fantasy.

If only he knew what went on here! Along with a little laziness, another activity that is also permitted is CLEANING because you can get dirty and sweat without messing up your hair or make-up. In fact, it is on days such as this, where initially there was no drive to accomplish much of anything, that I often surprise myself and get more done then I would have if I would have simply taken a shower!

So rather then returning home disheartened, he should welcome "No Shower Days" with open arms and take note of that perfectly organized closet, or the fact that every single kitchen cupboard was wiped down and disinfected. As for me, I should add making dinner to my To-Do List!

I obviously need some help!

When Brooks was about 6 months old, running errands with 3 kids actually got a little easier. I even started to feel confident that I could go to more then one place before I would lose my sanity. It was on a good day such as this that we had to run into Ben Franklin crafts, and then hit the grocery store, all in one trip. I picked up a few "must-have" items at the craft store, and was walking next door to Ukrop's with a diaper bag over one shoulder, the baby seat hooked on one arm and 2 young sons trailing behind. Things were going so smoothly that there might as well have been happy music playing in the background, and cute little birds perching on our shoulders.

Then I hear a voice behind me. "Ma'am... Ma'am... you dropped this."

I turned around and saw a man holding out a burp cloth. I took it graciously, and he asked if these were ALL my children. I was stunned for a second and started counting to myself, "1-2-3... it's not THAT many, is it?"

The next words that were uttered, literally stopped me in my flip flops... "Wow, you obviously need some help... if you need any help in there, just let me know." (cue background music that screeches to silence, followed by crickets chirping.)

Is it possible that I looked more out of control then I felt? Is it possible that I needed all the help I could get as I casually walked from one store to the other with 3 children? Not 10 children... just 3! Sure, I had dark circles under my eyes, my clothes were a bit wrinkled and I probably had baby spit-up on one shoulder. But everyone was happy and content, and I guarantee that the first-time mom around the corner looked just as ragged as me. Whether you have 1 kid or 12... being a mom is tough. So, did I deserve any more special treatment?

Ever since this little "incident", I have noticed that almost everywhere I go, someone stops me to remark on the number of children I have. "Wow! You sure have your hands full, don't you?" ... "Three boys, eh?" ... "My, you're outnumbered!"

Now it's confession time... I have been guilty of giving a second or third look when I saw a woman in Target that was literally crawling with 8 children under the age of 10. They were all very well-behaved and were no more then 3 feet from her side at any given time, but the shear numbers made her very interesting to watch. But seriously, is 3 children the new 8? I didn't think so. But if that's the case, then I REALLY deserve a break!

Mini Van Gogh's

Last night I went to a girls' night out event, and we talked about understanding and appreciating art. One of my good friends gave an inspiring presentation on how to expose children to the arts. She had great resources, books, art mediums and more ideas to make art fun for kids. While she was talking, it was hard not to feel excited about the possibilities. But it was hard to feel motivated amidst the guilty fog that rushed over me as I reflected on my art teaching efforts thus far. I experienced a difficult reality check and realized that I was not anxiously engaged in providing learning opportunities involving the arts!

So this morning, after I skimmed the house straightening things here and there... dusting things there and here... throwing things away way out there... the kids emerged from the play room tired of their Legos and each other. They were literally on the verge of driving each other absolutely crazy, and I knew the peace in our home was on its way out the door. What is the antidote to such behavior you might ask? Easy. The answer was still fresh in my mind. Let's do something creative!

I proposed the plan to the boys, and they were eager to see what I had to offer. We opened up my laptop and googled "famous artists". Familiar names dotted the screen... Pablo Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo... but I was drawn to an image by Vincent Van Gogh. You all know the painting. "The Starry Night". It looked simple enough... 4-5 colors to start with... small dashes of paint amongst swirls of yellow and blue. I was surprised when Josh, my 7 year old offered up this bit of art trivia for the rest of us. "Didn't he cut off his ear?" Gotta love the tidbits that embed themselves into the soft brains of kids! It wasn't until after a somewhat gory question and answer session between Josh and my 3 1/2 year old, Caleb, about the "cutting off of the ear process" that we decided that "The Starry Night" was a good choice for our first piece.

I broke out the never-been used artists' watercolor paints. This proved to be a special treat, compared to the familiar Crayola paints, mainly because of the little tray with all the compartments. They really felt like artists with this "fancy" plastic equipment. I set my laptop on the kitchen table for them to use as a guide, and after a quick lesson on how to first dip the brush into the water and then into the paint, Caleb punctured that paint bubble with his dry brush and then doused it in the water! Typical. But eventually he got the hang of it, and our painting "class" was under way.

Hardly a peep escaped from them! They sat side by side discussing each other's painting technique and color choice. And miraculously, the peace between brothers returned, and not even at the expense of one ear!

Here are the results of our first "Artistic Appreciation 101" class.



Yours truly.

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