This is what I found while I was making dinner...

We have a rule about no TV or XBox on a school night. (unless it involves Max and Ruby or Team Umizoomi to keep Brooks occupied)

Turns out, when they get bored enough, they READ!!!

Caleb's Washington Monument

For those of you on pins and needles about Caleb's last minute project... here are some pictures to prove that I actually did help him get it done!!!

To read about my downfall as a mother... go HERE!

"I like to look for rainbows..."

Despite what they say, it is possible to have a "right-out-of-a-fairy-tale-moment" with 3 kids! It's tricky.... the stars have to be aligned and it often requires a little heavenly help, but it is possible. Our heavenly help came in the form of an arc of prismatic colors that exploded across the sky to make a full spectrum, perfect rainbow! It really was a beautiful moment... and what made it even better was the boys noticed it themselves, and continued to point out the rarities that you don't usually see with rainbows.

1) it was one continuous arc from one side of the sky to the other
2) you could see all the colors in fairly distinct bands all the way across
3) the sun was shining and light streamed through the clouds in beams
4) raindrops continued to fall letting the light from the sun reflect off them
5) dark rain clouds in the distance provided a beautiful blue-gray backdrop, allowing the colors of the rainbow to appear even more vibrant

I didn't have my camera with me to document it myself... but found a true-blue, Alaskan Rainbow for your viewing pleasure!

We were enjoying it so much, we had to take the "long way" to school so we could see it longer. But by the time, we pulled into the school drop off lane, it was gone. We could've easily missed it... as well as the stimulating and thought provoking conversation that came about because of it. I'm grateful that we walked out the door when we did.... and that Josh spotted it... and that Caleb marveled about it... and that they both really "thought" about the beautiful meaning behind the rainbow... and mostly, that I was there to witness all of it!

As I drove home alone, I couldn't help but think of THIS. I reread it again this morning, and it was a good reminder to me about what it means to be happy. And, oddly enough, it even refers to a rainbow...

Leaves... please leave!

Every fall, our yard gets buried in leaves! One year, we had 70 bags of leaves out front waiting patiently (ever so patiently) as the garbage collector took a mere 8 bags each week. Since that first year, I have gotten more efficient in my bagging skills, so we don't have as many bags. But I can't escape the blisters and aching back that comes with hours of raking and bending over.

That is, until today when I finally mastered the leaf blower! Despite carefully watching landscapers blow leaves for various techniques, I did have a little trouble at first, which involved a wall of leaves flying 20 feet in the air and scattering leaves everywhere. But, even with the rough start, I managed to tame and maneuver the leaves into a large leaf pile that literally filled the entire driveway!

Then I bagged the leaves in record time using a new technique I invented. It was extremely efficient... and I challenge any profession leaf bagger to a duel in bagging leaves! I've decided to share said technique with you to assist you in your own bagging efforts.

1) Pile up leaves in a long, heaping pile
2) Take empty bag, and step on the inside, top edge of the bag with both feet, about hip width apart.
3) Bend over and shovel leaves into the open mouth of the bag using your hands.
4) As the bag fills up, occassionally smash leaves by sitting on the bag
5) Continue hand shoveling until you can't cram anymore.
6) Then sit bag up and alternate pressing leaves into bag, and then smashing... pressing, smashing, pressing, smashing until you literally can't get anymore in.

I didn't time myself, but I think this whole process took about 5 minutes per bag! And I did it all by myself without someone else holding the bag!

Maybe tomorrow I'll shave a few seconds off my time for a new record! I entertain easily.
I'd love to hear how you get rid of leaves... so share your techniques!

she's warming my heart

This is what I found on my front porch the other day. The neighbor's cat.

I'm not particularly fond of cats. Let's be honest... I can't stand them. But this hasn't always been the case.

I remember my first childhood pet, which was a black kitten with white paws. I named her Mittens. I remember carrying her all over the place... and then when she had kittens of her own... many, many kittens, that eventually went ferrel all over the farm. Meanwhile, my Dad was very allergic to Mittens, and he had suffered long enough, so he told me that he was going to take Mittens to a place where she would be very happy and could run and play with other cats, on a big farm with lots of meadows and fun places to hide! I agreed that Mittens had to go, so I remember a tearful goodbye as he put her in a cardboard box and drove away.

I was heartbroken... for about a day.

Since then, I developed an allergy to cats as well, so I've continued to distance myself more and more from them. Now, they literally give me the creeps!

So back to my neighbor's cat, Pumpkin. She is attracted to me like crazy... it's like she can sense that I don't like her, so she's trying desperately to win my affection. She rubs up against my legs and she sits on my windowsills and stares at me, (shiver), she sneaks in my garage, and eventually into the house. (double shiver) But my husband thinks it's hilarious and keeps telling me that she will grow on me. I keep refusing. That is until I saw her curled up on my doormat. She looked so small and helpless on that chilly, fall day. Her fur moved slightly as she tried to warm herself in the sun, despite the breeze. Despite my best efforts, I have to admit that as I watched her through the storm door, my grinch-like heart grew 1/2 size that day.

Well, years after I said goodbye to Mittens, I realized a couple things. Remember, the farm that my Dad promised to take Mittens to? The one with all the meadows and cats and big open spaces? It seemed so wonderful and so I was sure that she would be much happier to go there. The ironic thing is... THIS IS WHERE I GREW UP!

How in the world did I fall for that line? I was standing on a huge 160 acre farm with barns and meadows... a cat's paradise!

As it turns out, the big farm that Dad was referring to, was that "big farm in the sky"! That's farm-life for ya! Rest in peace, Mittens.

morning wake up call

THIS IS WHAT I HEARD THIS MORNING! (click on the link)

FYI: I don't live near a train station or train tracks.

Unless you're counting the one in Brooks' room.

Looks harmless enough, right? When he wanted to leave it out before going to bed, the thought crossed my mind that he could use it to open his door again. But unless he could move large furniture, I concluded that he wouldn't be able to get out. And if I was lucky, maybe it would entertain him for awhile.

Sadly, it never occurred to me that he would start blowing the train whistle at 6am... and it would continue approximately every 8 seconds. (I counted them and anticipated it like contractions... knowing it was inevitable and not being able to fully relax in between)

Hoping that Mike would not be able to take it anymore, I held out, pretending to be slumbering peacefully. It wasn't until I looked over and saw the pillow over his head, that I realized he had every intent of enduring this from the comfort of under the covers. Desperate, I tried the pillow thing, but could still hear it streaming in the baby monitor.

Reluctantly I stumbled out of bed 40 minutes later to pack lunches. That's when this morning got EVEN better. I came downstairs to two boys wearing dirty clothes. Coaxing them out of their favorite, smelly t-shirts is more exhausting then the train whistle, so I went straight to the threats... "If you don't go back upstairs and put on the nicely folded, clean clothes that I work extra hard to put in your drawers every week, then you'll be grounded for life."

Several altercations later, they were both grounded for the after noon... with their form of punishment being an endless list of chores to last them until dinnertime, or the house is spotless, whichever comes last. And contrary to what you might think, and to protect the reputations of those involved, they DIDN'T get grounded for wearing dirty clothes.

Meanwhile, back upstairs at Brooks Central Station, I reluctantly opened the door to find him very distraught clutching all the trains he could hold. The only thing that calmed him was the promise to watch "a lot of cartoons"... his words, not mine. Right now he is simultaneously watching Dora the Explorer, while playing on his Leapster, and pushing the train whistle.

I need a vacation.

he's at it again...

We have a Houdini in the family.

We purchased the best lock we could find to keep Brooks in his room, not only to prevent him from waking up everyone in the house at 3am... but also for his own safety! And now that he is no longer taking a nap, it is even more crucial for him to get his rest... and when he wakes up at 5am and can't get out of his room, he will go back to sleep on is own. But all that is compromised when he can get out of his room that is locked with a lock at the top of the door frame (which is at least 4 feet above his reach!).

But after ruling everything out (like me forgetting to lock the door, or his brothers opening it for him), and even locking myself in his room and failing to get out, I concluded that he just might be a genius!

So I took Brooks into his room armed with my camera, and told him to open the door. This is what he did... and this is how he explained it.

"First I did this!" (He also successfully used a sword, but he preferred the "hook" approach by putting his race car tracks together in a hook formation.)
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"I climb up here." (then he climbed up on the nightstand that is right next to the door)

"I go like this!" (Then he simply uses his "hook" to move the latch over)

"See? I did it!" (One smart kid!)

Now I know why he often insisted on sleeping with his sword and tracks. That very day, I moved the night stand away from the door... and removed all paraphernalia that may be used as an escape tool. BUSTED!

Last night he slept in til 8am! Hallelujiah!

trick or treat!

Halloween Eve was not a happy day for Brooks.

It actually started out the night before at the Trunk or Treat. By the time we got home, he had worked himself into an angry, candy-overloaded tizzy! So when I came downstairs early Sunday morning to find all three chillins chowing down on candy for breakfast, I knew we were off to a scary start to the day. When I managed to pry a tootsie roll from Brooks' kung-fu grip, he erupted in a string of toddler obscenities. I eventually had to get in the shower, so I left Dad to begin the wrestling match and attempt to get a kicking, flailing 3 year-old into a shirt and tie for church! (insert evil witch laugh now!)

When I was drying my hair, I could tell that the screaming Brooks had been left in his room to "cool down"! By the time I was putting on my earrings, I heard Mike open the garage door to get the other boys out to the car to wait for me. Brooks obviously heard the door too, and in the nicest, sobbing voice he could muster, he pleaded, "Mommy... Daddy.... please don't leave me!"

I opened his bedroom door and saw the tear-stained face of my little munchkin, who was obviously relieved to see me. Contrary to his understanding of the situation, we had no intention of leaving him at home while we were at church for 3 hours... but his fear of abandonment worked to our advantage when he promised to be nice and willingly got into his car seat.

When I picked him up from his nursery class, I was informed that he refused to clean up, and told another boy, "I don't care if I hurt your feelings." This was turning into a Halloween full of TRICKS!

After lunch, I lured him into my bed and we curled up to take a "little snooze". 2 1/2 hours later, I rolled over to a wide-eyed, smiling little dude as he said, "Good morning Mommy!"

Thanks to our afternoon nap, the remaining hours left of our Halloween Eve turned out to be filled with cheerful after-dinner chores, a fun game, playful banter and lovely singing... turns out I got a TREAT after all!

who says you don't use algebra as a mom

If you've ever felt like your brain is going to mush because of lack of use... try THESE mind benders to ward off the Alzheimer's!

Algebraic Equation:
Multiplication: Distributive Property

Sample: 4(a + b) = x

Mom Equation:
4 days (chocolate milk in sippy cup + under bed) = chocolate cottage cheese


Algebraic Equation:
Solve using the FOIL method
Sample Problem: (1 + x)(3 + 2x)

Mom Equation:
Laundry FOILed again!
(1 dryer + brown crayon)(1 load of whites + 2brown crayons)
Solution: Poopy looking underwear


Mom Equation:
(2a + 1b)
________ x 4d (2s) = M
(1h + 3c)

a= cans of cherry pop
b= clumsy husband
c= towels laid on top to keep our feet from getting wet
d= days lapsed
h= hours scrubbing carpet
M= Mildew smell wafting through the house!


All this is enough to make my head spin!

you might be a bad mom, if you did this...

Last Friday was NOT one of my finest moments as a mom. Even as I write this, I'm experiencing serious inner conflict about admitting this. But one of my goals is to be more humble... so here I go.

9:00 p.m. last Thursday
I crawl out of Brooks' bed and shake the needles out of my right arm. I must have been pretty tired to have fallen asleep in a toddler bed with a wiggly 3 year old. As I lock Brooks' door behind me, (look back HERE to see why I have to lock the door in the first place) I realize that Josh and Caleb are still awake despite having been in bed for an hour. Caleb informs me that he has a project due tomorrow. Confident that I would've known about it, I tell him he must be mistaken and coerce him into bed and turn off the light.

Just to be safe, I look around for any evidence of a project deadline amongst the plethora of papers that arrive home every day. There it is. I stare in disbelief at the project flyer right on the kitchen counter. Why is this the first time I'm seeing this? How did it magically appear right in plain sight. I do admit, I have been a bit preoccupied, and the house has been "under the weather" lately, but I'm in shock! I do a double take at the weekly homework sheet that has been posted on my bulletin board ALL WEEK LONG when I notice that right there, plastered across the top are the words, "We can't wait to see all the American Symbol projects that are due this Friday!"

"I'm the worst mom ever!" I mutter to my husband who is in the reclined position watching ESPN.

I have visions of Josh's American symbols project from 1st grade... and can see clearly in my mind's eye the Washington Monument model that is collecting dust in the attic. I brush the thought away because it isn't honest, right?

"You could always pull out Josh's old Washington Monument project from the attic?" my husband suggests sarcastically. Embarrassed to admit that the thought had already occurred to me, I tell him it's out of the question. I slump on the couch in silence as my mind races with horrific images of Caleb going to school WITHOUT a project... and the sight of possible "excuse note" sentences flash as I consider how I can possibly explain this oversight!

Don't get me wrong... Caleb is partly responsible. But he's also 6... and I'm 33. And who is the parent again? So after much debate with myself... and weighing out the outcomes of every possibility, I come to the conclusion that the only logical solution is to keep him home from school. Luckily we have the weekend to come up with something that is 3 feet tall, made out of clay (Caleb's requirements) and somewhat resembles either the Washington Monument, an eagle, a flag or the Statue of Liberty (the teacher's requirements).

Caleb is literally elated when I inform him the next morning that he will NOT be going to school that day, despite the absence of a fever or sore throat. But he voices his own thoughts to fix the situation by saying, "Why don't I just take Josh's Washington Monument project in the attic?" Great minds really do think alike, I guess.

Thanks to a friend's suggestion, a last-minute trip to the craft store is averted when Caleb becomes giddy at the idea of building the Washington Monument out of Legos. So, in addition to all the other things I HAD to get done that very day (I'll spare you on the details... but take my word for it, this day was intense), we spent the next 2 hours burrowing through Lego bins sorting out all the small, white lego pieces... including white slanted pieces, which are hard to come by.

The end result is something that both mother and son are proud of! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture. So hopefully it will make it back in one piece, so you can see the masterpiece for yourself.

Until then, here are a couple fun facts about the Washington Monument:

The Real One:
-555 feet tall
-897 steps to the top
-36,491 blocks of marble
-50 flags surrounding it... representing each state

Caleb's Model:
-13 inches tall
-35 levels of legos to the top
-325 lego blocks
-25 flags surrounding it... representing every 2 states!

grocery line etiquette

I don't like to make judgments about people based on a person's age. But I also can't argue with facts.

Quite often while I am paying for my groceries, I am crowded at the grocery store check-out. I think most people understand the unspoken rule about giving people space while they punch in secret codes and sign their John Hancock. But there are a few who fail to see the invisible line that exists between the conveyor belt and the credit card machine... a social line that you must not cross until the person has successfully paid for their groceries and has exited the isle. Failure to do so, in my opinion, earns you the title of "lurker". And over the years, I have noticed that "lurkers", without fail, fit within the following age brackets: 80+ years... and 16-18 years.

Recently, while I was loading my groceries into the cart, about 6 teenage boys had encroached past the invisible line. While I was trying to swipe my card, I could actually identify 3 different colognes that were attempting to mask the stale cigarette smoke, a hint of B.O. ... and I felt the guy's long hair brush up against my arm as he tossed it over his shoulder. When I motioned to them and suggested they "back up a bit", they seemed confused until I asked them if they would like to purchase my $300 grocery bill for me. They immediately stepped back... and I think the one wearing the skinny jeans did a courtly bow.

Another time, a little granny was so far forward, her walker was practically nestled right under my heiny!

And yet another time, a grandma and grandpa duo were so close that the grandma kindly brushed off some goldfish crumbs that were on my shoulder.

Although, I'm flattered that people don't find me disgusting enough to keep their distance, the thought has occurred to me that they are actually trying to pick my pockets or something, and so it does make me a little uncomfortable. Maybe next time I won't consider it as much of a priority to shower and put on deodorant before going to Walmart.

Just a mini-toot on my mini-horn for my mini-shades

I've had my eye on some mini-shades for my dining room chandelier for some time now... but have NOT been willing to spend well over $50 to buy them new.

Sooooooooooooooo I found some old, mis-matched, atrocious looking shades for a buck a piece at Goodwill... added some black cardstock and a little double width bias tape... and badda-bing-badda-boom... Fancy shmancy shades for only $10 buckaroos!

Okay, okay... that's definitely enough "tooting" for one day!

2 funerals and a cemetary

This past week, my boys have experienced and dealt with death. For them, it was filled with fascination and intrigue.

As for the wildlife in our back yard?... It has been a pretty tragic week.

When I saw Josh carrying the dead corpse of a squirrel, which had apparently been named Scotty, I knew I had better get off the phone quick. I was a little disturbed to watch the freshly dead rodent slide back and forth in the snow shovel, while my sons and other neighborhood boys crowded around asking me what to do with it.

I shuddered as visions of a fly-infested-5-days-until-trash-pick-up garbage can came to mind, so I immediately gave them the alternative to bury it. Apparently that was the right response, because they all whispered "yes!" in unison.

Fast forward 2 days later... I watched a precession of boys following Josh as he carried the same snow shovel in a funeral-like-march towards me. This time, the unlucky rodent was a very stiff and very dead chipmunk.

I didn't have to say much... just gave them the "go ahead nod" before they all scampered off to the back yard flower bed, which has now been officially designated as the Rodent Cemetary.

Now that I think about it, I think I need to be more careful with the mole poison.

labor of love

Tonight I got a hankerin' for some good 'ole fashioned comfort food... not just any old comfort food... my Grandma's famous rice pudding! The problem is, Grandma lives 6,000 miles away in Alaska, and the last time I tried making her recipe, it was an utter failure!

Several years ago, upon my request, Grandma had given me the recipe, and had written the directions very carefully and detailed... because apparently there's a special science in making a good rice pudding. Hers is so creamy and delicious, it tastes like Christmas in a bowl!.... it's THAT good!

But in trying to replicate her recipe, I thought if I hurried the process and let it boil, and skip the step about pouring a little hot mixture into the beaten eggs first, and then adding it to the rest of the milk mixture... that i would get the same result. Oh contrare! It tasted alright, I guess.... that is, if you like scrambled eggs in every bite.

That image haunted me for years, so I was very reluctant to try making it again. Until tonight. So since Mike was out for the night, and the kids were in bed, I rummaged through my pantry for some evaporated milk and set to work. I turned the stove on... very low... and slowly and patiently stirred the milk. I stirred, and I stirred and I stirred. I followed the recipe meticulously. I was tempted once or twice to crank up the heat and speed things along, but I resisted. (in case you're wondering, the goal is to cook it, without letting it boil). I was also tempted to walk away and load the dishwasher... but I refrained.

As I was standing there, I started thinking about all the times Grandma made rice pudding just for me. When they were living in DC, she often made it when she knew we were coming over, and when she came to visit me, she brought me a big tupperware bowl just for me! Of course I appreciated it then... but I didn't understand all the labor and love cooked up in a big pot of rice pudding. I imagined her standing in her kitchen late at night, stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring... even though she probably had a hundred other things she could've been doing besides standing at the stove. I get it now. And I'm grateful she did it.

And now I'm passing that labor of love onto my family, because for the first time ever, I have created some yummy, creamy rice pudding... and I think it turned out beautifully! (Not a speck of scrambled eggs to be seen!) The question still remains... will they even like rice pudding? I'm not sure yet. Either way, I feel like a better mom for making it!

gave myself a headache

Yesterday afternoon, I decided that I was going to "play legos" with the boys. What started out as a fun, creative afternoon, turned into me squinting and scrutinizing over thousands of lego pieces in search of every piece in a Fire Station lego set.

See, I've realized that they don't really get to play with their creations because they fall apart so easily, and end up in the "lego graveyard" (aka 3 giant plastic drawers) never to be seen again. So I took the advice of a friend and started the painful process of super-gluing a few favorites.

Eventually the boys lost interest... and the only remaining lego die-hard was yours truly. At one point I had to pee, but I was afraid I'd lose my focus, so I pushed on. I started getting hungry, but I perservered, until the boys brought me some granola bar scraps. I even ignored the taunting by my husband to give up.

It's now Monday afternoon, and I'm considering getting a good start on the hunt so they can build it when they get home. See, I'm a good mom... I simply hunt for the tiny pieces, so they can put it together. Although, for the record, it's killing me to wait... something about the need to finish a job.

But hey, our 12th anniversary is coming up... maybe I'll ask for a lego set!

This is how I would like to organize the legos... but the boys won't have it!

totally humiliated

I think there's a point in your life where you decide that "public humiliation" is a thing of the past. No more being laughed at because you had a zit on your nose, or because you started your period in the junior high showers. (By the way, I'm just now admitting that last one... that's right it took me 20 years to come out about that one.)

I actually started to feel comfortable that I couldn't possibly endure anything worse. That is until last night. I found myself in a conference room surrounded by retired, probably menopausal women with a little too much power. There was a man or two there... but they were lacking a certain genitalia that would actually give them the gumption to stop such a thing from happening.

The meeting was called to order... a motion to start the judicial hearing was seconded... and then 8 pairs of eyes looked my direction.

I gave my "testimony" and then waited, as all eyes continued to look at me.... staring... waiting. I'm not fond of awkward silences, so I added a few more points and then asked if they had any questions. They did not. I then asked what the verdict was. Apparently, they needed time to deliberate and the results would be mailed to me. When I questioned why they couldn't speak to me and give me an idea of what kind of punishment to expect, one lady told me that "In sales, if you feel that you've presented your pitch to the best of your ability, then you just..." she then pulled an invisible zipper over her lips slowly, and sarcastically instructed me to, "stop talking."

So where do you think I was when all of this happened? On trial for murder? NOPE... the local Homeowner's Association.

What was my crime? Failure to remove vines from a brick wall.

I'll spare you the details of it all... but for the record, I did comply in a timely manner, and I personally removed all those vines myself. Is this a personal vendetta from a grumpy board president,you ask? I think so.

Nevertheless with no chance of appeal, I am at their mercy, full of adrenaline, as I pace in front of my mailbox.

"look at them guns"

Today I was driving back from my morning of running errands, and came across a car that was blocking the right lane. A small, grandma-ish woman was on the side of the road mumbling, and putting her hands in the air. Cars were swerving around her and the car. As I got closer, I rolled down my window and asked what she needed. She was very shook up and I told her I was just going to pull over at the next street. She looked panicked as I drove away about 20 feet.

Turns out, she had a blown out tire. I drove grandma's car onto the side street behind my car and asked her who I could call. Her son was 1 hour away, and when he didn't seem to have a solution... I was left to figure out a plan. Meanwhile, another woman pulled over to help and she walked to the next block to ask for help from the police who was dealing with an accident. Although the police couldn't leave the accident scene, they put a call in for some help.

None of us were sure how long this would take and I couldn't, in good conscience, leave grandma by herself. I also couldn't sit there and do nothing, so I started rummaging through her trunk for a jack and spare tire. I had already loosened the lugnuts, and was in the process of jacking up the car, when a nice man pulled up and offered to help. I brushed off my jeans and handed the tire iron over to him.

Part of me was disappointed that I couldn't finish the job, but Brooks was in the car wailing at this point, so I had to relent. As I left, the man said, "I don't doubt you could've done this... just look at them guns." I think he was referring to my flabby, noodle arms when he said that. Nevertheless, I think he was right. I could've got the job done... although I would've been much slower and probably would've missed getting the other kids off the bus. So, as much as it killed me, I let a man finish the job.

I'd like to think I looked like this:

But I have a feeling I looked more like this:


Frequently my two oldest boys find themselves writing sentences for not obeying or talking back. They don't particularly like it... but it quiets them down, and gives me a chance to process what I'm going to do next.

Caleb has simple sentences that he writes 5 to 10 to 15 times, depending on the offense. For example, his favorite sentence to write is, "I will not hit my brothers." ADDED BONUS: is that his handwriting has improved.

Josh, on the other hand, is capable of writing "essays". Depending on the offense, he is required to write 10 to 20 to 30 sentences that are all different. My hope is that he will actually think of reasons why he should not do something, and possibly commit it to memory.

Following are the 10 different sentences he wrote after he... well, you'll get the gist of what he did from HIS own words.

1. I will not be obnoxaus.
2. I will not be crazy.
3. I will not rough house.
4. I will not be wild.
5. I will not be brutish.
6. I will be civilized.
7. I will not be beastly.
8. I will not be a savage.
9. I will be sophisticated.
10.I will be polite.

ADDED BONUS: He has mastered the Thesaurus.


Tonight I plugged myself into my iPod... pressed "shuffle" and decided to listen to whatever came up next... no exceptions. I play these little games with myself to make chores more fun.

Normally my thought process while doing dishes is something like this, "how is possible we have this many dishes?.... gag a little as I grab the mushy bread in the corner of the sink... cram just one more cup in... crap, I forgot to rinse out that oatmeal bowl... tomorrow I'm only using paper plates!"
You get the idea.

But what happened next, was nothing short of miraculous! My thoughts were transformed into the following:

Endurance... Determination... Strength... Speed... I am strong... I can do it!

Click here to find out what song I was listening to tonight. It just might change your attitude about doing dishes!!!

Iguana poop

Brooks and I just learned how to make strawberry plants grow on Go Diego Go. See, a big storm came and destroyed all the strawberry plants right before the Strawberry Festival! Oh no! Now Abuelito needs help to grow enough strawberries in time for the festival!

All they had to do was go into the rainforest and convince an Iguana to eat a whole bunch of strawberries, and then "hold it" until he gets to Abuelito's farm. Then Diego told the Iguano to poop out the seeds in the garden to plant the seeds. Despite the fact that Diego was talking about Iquana poop, I really thought there must be some catch. But I watched (almost in horror) as the Iguana walked among the rows in the garden, in perfectly straight rows, and "pooped out the seeds" so the strawberries will grow! Seriously, I'm NOT making this up!

Now I know why MY strawberries didn't grow very well this year. All I need to get next year is an iguana and strawberries!

Oh, and apparently I'm not the only one who thought that was weird. Here's a clip on YouTube so you can see for yourself. Enjoy!



'Twas the night before school....

'Twas the night before school starts, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring... not even 3 rowdy little boys! SERIOUSLY! The house is empty, and I'm starting to get concerned!

It all started this morning when I woke up with a hangover... well, not really, because I haven't been drinking...nor have I ever! so who am I kidding? I don't even know what a hangover feels like. Well here, I'll just tell you how I felt and you can judge for yourself. I felt dizzy, nausious, head throbbing, and on the verge of passing out.... now doesn't that sound like a hangover to you???

ANYWAY, I think I literally felt the earth spinning on its axis today... so I spent the majority of the day on my left side with my eyes closed... some of the time I was asleep, but I was mostly awake. I tried to get up and get a few things done, but coming down the stairs was more like a roller coaster ride and sitting at the computer screen was like a trip to the IMAX.

So to help me out, Mike took the kids for the day. Apparently Josh had baseball practice tonight and so they're still all there. The house is quiet... it's dark... and we should be getting ready for school tomorrow, but there is no one around.

What's a mom to do???


I was in the play area of McDonald's, and had to inform the other moms what was happening, since they had never felt anything like it before. They started to panick... but I calmly suggested that we ask the kids to come down from the rickety tower of tunnels 20 feet in the air, just in case. And although it lasted about 20-30 seconds, it had stopped before the kids even considered coming down. That's when I looked out the window and saw 15 men evacuate the McDonald's restaurant yesterday after the 5.8 earthquake was felt here in Richmond. And when I say "evacuate", I mean "running and looking both ways, and even towards the sky, with hands over their heads, literally fear-stricken".

Shortly afterwards you could hear people on cell phones, each giving their personal experience with the quake, confirming that "yes, that really was an earthquake."

After my kids had had their fill of romping in the tunnels above, we went to Walmart. I pulled into the parking lot and spotted a black SUV complete with flashing red/blue lights, and immediately started looking for Jack Bauer. Then I noticed several congergations of people standing around talking, along with 2 Walmart employees posted at each entrance. My first thought was that maybe there was an undercover, highly volitile, armed sting operation going on inside. (too many crime shows, I know)

Josh commented that it might have something to do with the earthquake, but I couldn't imagine what. So I got out of my car, only to have a hysteric woman run over and tell me that there was glass shattered everywhere and they had to close down Walmart. "Beacuse of the earthquake!!!!" she screamed! "We were inside during the earthquake and stuff was flying everywhere!... and it grabbed me with it's laser-vision and shook me like a dog!" (that last part was added for dramatic effect!)

She was a little overdramatic for my taste... but it was entertaining. Especially since she was just slightly more sophisticated then those people they enterview on the local news after a natural disaster. You know the type... curlers in their hair, sporting a ratty moo-moo, all while screaming, "It was Pandamonium, I tell you!...pure pandamonium!!!"

So I got back in the car and drove to Kroger. Things were definitely a little more calm there, but not near as satisfying as the Walmart and McDonald's drama! See, that's why I like to go there. You can't get that kind of entertainment just anywhere you know!

But all the drama and joking aside, earthquakes like that don't happen very often out here. It's kind of like snow... we just don't see it much! So people get scared. And in their defense, apparently there was some damage after yesterday's "small" earthquake. This photo was taken at a school very close to the "location". And thankfully, no one was injured from the earthquake.

And if you're like me, and find yourself making fun of all these "inexperienced earthquake survivors"... check out this article and find out more details about why this seemingly small earthquake had such an impact. I actually learned something today.

date night

For our Friday night date night, I suggested to Mike that we watch the movie "7 Brides for 7 Brothers". I ordered it on Amazon and I haven't seen it since I lived at home... my sisters and mom would watch the VHS version over and over and over again. I'm not ashamed to say that I practically have it memorized. (all the better, right?)

Mike's first reaction to this idea was to say, "I know, why don't we curl up and watch it Sunday night?" Although I was intrigued by his cuddly terminology, I questioned the delay in watching it. The moment it occurred to me that he would be long gone in Chicago on Sunday night, I almost threw a pillow at him.

My hopes dashed... I sulked on the couch for not quite 3 minutes until he redeemed himself by sincerely insisting that we watch it. smart man.

Both of us were surprised at how much he enjoyed it! A good musical does everyone a little good! And now after two days of hearing him sing, "Bless yer beautiful hide..." I realize that we have an adoring fan of musicals in the family. And I don't even mind that he continues singing it as long as he remembers the phrase, "heavenly eyes... and just the right size!" :) right girls?

Isn't it ironic???...don't ya think?

For the past 2 weeks, I haven't had a car because Mike was in a car accident. Everyone is safe and sound... but it turns out that the car is totalled, so we have to buy a new one. Irony #1: The car was almost paid off.

The week following the accident, Mike was super busy and couldn't go pick up a rental car for a few days. Irony #2: By the time he was available to pick it up, Enterprise was completely out of cars!

Meanwhile, I've been going crazy and have hardly left the house... but today when I called for a rental car, they actually had one available. HALLELUJIAH! It is now sitting in my drive-way. Irony #3: We're still stranded at home... not because we don't have wheels, but because I have cramps and the kids have been fighting all day!

Go figure!

Here is Mike's beloved Cadi... RIP RMAX 04!

No more lunches!

So it's the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL! And I was thinking last night that it was my last night of packing lunches... and I rejoiced inside. FYI: I hate packing lunches. I dread it every single day, and I'm not sure why. It only takes about 10 minutes... and all summer, I will continue to make lunches for them every day. But for some reason when you have to pack it up, there's an extra stress involved. You have to be particular about what you put in; for example, no peanuts because of peanut allergies, making sure it's well rounded, trying to change it up a bit so they don't get tired of it and stop eating it... and making sure I have everything on hand, often includes a 9pm run to the grocery store, and I hate that! And did I mention, you also have to pack a snack??

Now some of you may wonder why it's such a big deal. To be honest, I'm not sure why myself. In fact, now that I'm writing that out, I'm wondering why I'm complaining about it... but it has never been something I've enjoyed, and now it's literally the bane of my existence... for some reason.

But today, I'm breathing a little easier because I don't have to do it. That is until next week, when Josh has scout camp... but after that, NEVER AGAIN! That is until next fall when they start school again.

Who am I kidding?

The truth is, I will be making lunches for 16 more years. There, I said it.

And before anyone says it... I know they could do it themselves. And for awhile, they did. But the OCD part of me goes crazy when they don't pack the bag right and risk smashing their sandwich. Or they only put in 3 grapes and 1,000 goldfish. The ironic thing, is that I know deep down that I want to pack their lunches... sort of a labor of love every day to make sure everything is just right, and on special occassions I like to throw in little surprises like candy or notes.

So yes, I'm going to enjoy the next 2,880 more days, or at least try.

fighting + talking back = ESSAY

Written by Josh:

Being respectful to your mom is important because one of these things will happen to you! They will ground you, make you write sentences, write an essay like I'm doing now and smack your rear end till it starts to bleed. :( You should never talk back to your parents. My mom makes me write sentences and paragraphs and stories if I do those things and finally and last and next she'll ground me for life. The reason why my mom sent me to my room is because I was saying some things you should NEVER say to your mom or this will happen to you. She might also take your favorite things away like toys and your most favorite sport... like mine is baseball. Even tho my mom wants me to go to baseball, she still sometimes... only sometimes makes me not go because I don't deserve it. But I know she loves me. Even tho she may seem sometimes really made, she will still always love you.
The End.

He sure can be a stinker... but he's right... I do love him (more then he'll know)... and he's a handsome little bugger!

Oh... and for the record... I have NEVER smacked his read end til it bled. I just think it's hilarious that he wrote it.

Lather, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse... DO NOT REPEAT!

I was on the phone with a friend when I discovered this...


By the look on his face, do you think he's learned his lesson? I don't think so.

P.S. That's lotion in the crevices of his wrist...

If you didn't have to clean this up first thing this morning, consider yourself lucky.

Homonyms are tricky for 2 year olds!

Homonym: one of a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings.

Before naptime, Brooks and I were reading a book about Pirates and all the fun facts that go along with Pirates, including guns, swords, stealing, plundering, and my personal favorite, torturing non-loyal pirates by hanging them in a cage until they die, only to have vultures come and eat their flesh until there's nothing left but a skeleton. I know what you're thinking... hardly appropriate for a 2 year old. And I agree. But the problem is this book is very interactive, featuring a pop-up ship, levers and pull tabs that change the pictures. It's very cool, so I just skip over the flesh-eating birds part for Brooks' sake, and honestly, my own. But I digress.

When we got to the page about the Pirate Booty, aka Pirate Treasure or "Monies" as Brooks calls it, I pointed to the treasure box and asked him what it was. He confidently said, "Pirate Bum!" Apparently in our house, the words "booty" and "bum" are used interchangably!

Here he is showing his wingspan compared to other birds of prey... the eagle and hawk.

I really didn't teach them this.

Today after church, we watched a completely "Sunday Appropriate", in my opinion, movie entitled "UP!" I knew once I curled up and buried myself in a compfy blanket that I wouldn't last long. I was right. I only saw the first 20 minutes. I awoke an hour later to the main menu music repeatedly playing over and over and over again... and to Caleb stomping down the stairs, obviously in a rush. I pretended to act like I cared, and asked him what they were doing up there.

He could hardly contain his excitement as he told me about a new game they invented. Disoriented from sleep, I struggled to grasp the complicated rules as he rattled them off in half finished sentences. Here are the high points: When you win a challenge you get to take the other person's money. When you lose, you have to give the other person your money. He then grabbed his bank full of "cash" and stomped back up the stairs.

It wasn't until a few minutes later that I put two and two together.

My sons are gambling on Sunday. Great. I curled up and slept for another 25 minutes, because afterall, they were playing nicely.

The love of my life...

I never thought I would have love affair with a white, plastic contraption. But the truth is, I'm totally crushing on this little beauty here. It has brought peace and harmony and most importantly, sleep, back into our home!

Ever since little 2 1/2 year old Brooks could climb out of the crib and take it apart, forcing his advancment to a "toddler" bed, at what seems to me as an insanely early age, our life has changed. And things got even worse when he broke the code on the child-proof door knob. He suddently started dictating WHEN he wanted to wake up, WHO he wanted to wake up, and WHERE he would go when he wakes up! (My biggest fear being out the front door!)

Well yesterday, on a glorious Easter morning our happy, sweet little Brooks was transformed (by lack of sleep) into a breakfast-throwing, candy-clenching, fist-pounding, back-arching, kicking-feet-of-fury... MONSTER!

As I sat there in the mother's lounge at church, trying to console him and possibly coax him into a 5 minute power nap, I vowed that I would install the door lock that arrived the day before in the mail. I was also kicking myself for not putting in on immediately the night before! ugggg...

So after the Easter festivities were over... and after I had wrestled a slippery, fresh-out of the tub Brooks into pajamas, I pulled out the drill.


Around 6 am this morning, I awoke to the beloved sound of crying in the baby monitor, which could only mean one thing... he was stuck in his room! VICTORY! I staggered down the hallway to find books oozing out from beneath his door, like he was attempting to set them free, despite being still trapped himself. I went in, scooped him up and wrapped him up in his blanket that he loves, and just rocked him for a few minutes. I kept thinking to myself... "This is what a mom should do... soothe a crying baby and put them back to sleep, rather then rolling out of bed to find all three kids bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 3am!"

After about 2 minutes, he pointed to his bed... so I tucked him in and he rolled over and went to sleep. I was able to grab a few more minutes of sleep before getting the other 2 up for school.

And now, after a couple weeks of torture from a sleep-deprived, cranky 2 year old, I look forward to the cries in the baby monitor, which can mean only one simple thing... HE IS CONTAINED... but more importantly, STILL SNOOZING AT 8:24 AM!

Blog title asside... these are the REAL loves of my life!

Feeling thrifty...

This may look like an ordinary toddler bed to you... but don't be deceived... things aren't what they appear!

Join me on my journey of discovery:

1) Brooks figured out how to get out of his crib.

2) He actually learned how to dismantle the crib completely. So I took the crib apart immediately and put his mattress on the floor, as a temporary solution until I could think of something better. But the result was a complete eye sore and constant source of frustration when I had to put his "bed" back together every day.

3) I debated putting Brooks into the double bed which is already in his room, but the mattress was too thick to put a railing on the side, and it felt cruel to just let him fend for himself in there.

4) I thought about moving Josh into the big bed, giving him a room of his own... but that would mean that Brooks and Caleb would then share a room... and I'm NOT ready for that dynamic. Not to mention giving Josh the satisfaction of winning me over to a room of his own. I just don't think it's fair for him at a young age of 9 years old, for him to have a secret, private place of his very own, when I have NEVER, in the history of my 32 years have had a bedroom to myself. But I digress, yet again.

5) So I went on a search for a toddler bed... but I wasn't willing to spend $50 or more to get one (I know, I'm cheap!). So I abandoned the issue, and thought I would have to just deal with the annoyance of him sleeping on the floor.

But then one day, it just came to me like a light bulb switching on... like a ray of sunshine from the heavens... like a gust of wind sweeping into mind... (okay, I'll stop with the metaphors)...

This was my epiphany!
Using my #10 cans of food storage as a base for the bed...

Then using the crib board laid on top of the cans... for a make-shift "boxspring". Then I pinned the crib skirt to fit around and cover up the cans.

And TAH-DAH! It's a win-win! I didn't have to spend a dime or change the sleeping arrangments... and I have a place to hid my food storage!... and now Brooks has a cute little bed of his very own... and he LOVES IT!!!

How did you spend your Sunday?

This was my Sunday...

Sunday mornings are a whirl-wind of button-up shirts, ties, black socks and hair gel. By the time I dried my hair and was packing up the "church bag", I finally got a good look at Caleb. His eyes were a crusty, watery, red mess, and he was squinting from the light. My executive decision to take him to Patient First was based on the fact that he poked his eye with a bookmark 2 days prior, combined with his allergic reaction to pollen resulting in severe irritation.

After an hour in the waiting room, we ran out of things to "I-Spy"... so, luckily we were called back to the exam room, aka 2nd waiting room. The doctor, who I wasn't even sure spoke fluent English and kept tilting her head to the side like she didn't understand me, put these colored drops in his eyes so she could see if there was any "trauma" to his eyes. I had to keep in my laughter as she held up the florescent/black light and revealed his glow-in-the-dark eyeballs that suddenly had a radio-active glow to them. I was certain Caleb would've gotten a kick out of this and wished I had my camera to take a picture.

Her diagnosis was "trauma and irritation to his eyes" and she perscribed a saline irrigation along with drops and ointment. Just to get him to the doctor's office, I had to bribe him with Swedish Fish and promise him that they would probably only put a few drops in his eyes and look at them. So I started sweating at the word "irrigation" and decided to forego telling him what they were going to do until the nurse came back in to carry it out. When she pulled out the enormous bag of water, I tried not to gasp.

He had to lay on the table with his head hanging over the edge, with a pan of water below to catch all the water. Then she got out the tube and told him it would be shocking at first, but he had to keep his eyes open and be brave. I was worried how he would do with eye drops, let alone flushing out his eyes with 250 cc's! As I watched him grip the sidebars of the bed, and stiffen up like a corpse, this "saline irrigation" more accurately resembled water-boarding! Turns out, Caleb is a lot braver then I thought, and would outlast any interrogator... He was a trooper and did great!

So after 2 hours, we were finally on our way out... SIDEBAR: and then we ran into someone we knew. As it turns out, I've decided that Patient First is a weird place to run into people you know. I think it might rank up there with prison, because you can't really ask, "Hey, what are you in for?" without risking serious embarrassment when they answer "hemmroids... or... severe constipation". You just have to say hello, and make a quick exit!

But I'm a "glass full" kind of girl... so what's the bright side? Turns out, Caleb thinks the eye drops are a breeze compared to irrigating! Hope your Sunday was as good as ours!

Under the looking glass

Unlike what you may think, I do try to maintain a little bit of dignity around here. But in writing on a public blog, I feel there is a fine line between divulging enough information to make you appear human... and keeping some things private enough to retain that much desired self dignity. Today I fear that I just might cross that line to appease my husband who has been begging me for the past 5 days to write about a recent incident.

While Brooks was playing quietly down the hallway, in the playroom, I stole away 10 minutes to take a shower with the bathroom door shut, rather then locked. Let me explain. On the weekends, when my two oldest boys are home I have to keep the door locked while showering because my shower is surrounded with pure glass walls on all sides. To date, I have not found an adequate contraption to shield myself from the view of anyone who enters. Thus, I started locking the door to sudden interruptions and definite embarrassment for all parties involved. But when it's just my 2 year old at home, I have to remain somewhat accessible in case of an emergency involving a non-functioning toy or the ending of Sesame Street.

So, I was just rinsing out the shampoo (3 minutes in), when I saw the bathroom door open. I attempted to be as non-chalant and discreet as possible, so I turned away to avoid further investigation. Little did I know that he was grasping a little tiny magnifying glass in which the handle barely fit in his chubby little hand, and the lens was about the size of the ping pong ball. He came over to the shower door and held the magnifying glass up, causing his eye ball to triple in size, while saying one of his most commonly uttered "phrases"... "Ahh ahh ahhhhh?"

I'm torn. Part of me feels a little disturbed that my son was using a magnifying glass to spy on me in the shower... and the other part can't stop laughing at the image of his curious GIANT eye ball!
On the contrary, here's a picture of Brooks with his eyes shut tight!

Wake Up Call

8:00 p.m. is the new midnight. By then I really feel dead tired after scaring the last few homework sheets into backpacks, wiping the counter tops for the ump-teenth time, picking up yet another Nerf gun dart, and wrestling 3 kids into pajamas... I'm pooped.

But I found myself at Walmart due to a shortage of pull-ups, and I can't risk him going to bed without one yet... I'll save my rantings on that one for a different post. But while I was there, I figured I would make a mad dash around the store picking up a few needed items. This was going to be a "quick trip". Although I never cease to amaze myself with how much I can get done without chilluns in tow, so just 30 minutes, and one heaping cart full of food later, I was ready to check out.

I don't need to go into detail about Walmart check-out lines, so I propped my foot up on my cart and thumbed through the latest People Magazine to pass the time. Once again I was not disappointed with top-breaking news about what celebrities wore to the Oscars, that I never watched... and which actors look so much alike they could be brothers, but SURPRISE, they're not... and the rumored break-up of Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansen. SIDEBAR: I didn't even know they were married. And I was surprisingly engrossed by all this, until I noticed that the cashier had stopped scanning items and leaned her elbows down on the scanner. This didn't look good.

I'm not sure of the details... but when I noticed that that the lady in front of me was asking for items to be taken out of her cart to bring her total down, I knew it might be awhile. But changing lanes was not an option at this point... I was invested in this lane. I could almost touch the conveyor belt, and it would be stupid to abandon my position at this point.

20 minutes later I was forced to put back my trashy magazine and start loading my items on the belt. I have a system for this. Large, heavy, and often frozen items up front... boxes and cans next... and lastly bread, eggs, fruits and veggies. But I digress.

I was busy grabbing loaded grocery bags and strategically placing them back in my cart, when the cashier, after noticing that I purchased some under eye concealer, said, "You know, if you put a little white eye liner in the corners of your eyes, it will brighten them up and not make you look so tired." I literally inhaled my spit and felt the burn in my throat as I tried to figure out what just happened.

I admit, I wasn't exactly dressed for a night out on the town... although an evening trip to Walmart is often the closest thing I get to one... But hey, I showered... and I had jeans on. Now that's pretty classy, if you ask me.

I glanced back to the lady behind me, and we both secretly rolled our eyes.

After recovering from my spit inhilation, I managed to squeak out, "Well, I chose not to put on make-up today."

She tried desperately to reverse her rudeness by saying that I looked "surprisingly pretty for no make-up."

I forced a smile, but couldn't muster out a "thank-you" for fear I might start critiquing her flaws in revenge.

Tired, but not degrated, I loaded up the car and drove home singing as loud as I could to the radio. I couldn't unload the groceries right then, because I had to deliver the pull-ups to my 5 year old and get him in bed. My husband was upstairs starting the "bedtime routine" and once we summed up the job's at hand (putting kids to bed AND unloading the groceries), we willlingly switched places. I tickled a couple backs, and read a couple stories... and I could hear Mike rustling plastic bags and shutting cupboard doors below. Job well done.

Nothing like a little "wake-up-call" to put the whole day into perspective. I looked tired... because I was. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my life.

Here are a few attempts at our Christmas Picture on Christmas Eve.

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