...because we all have our motley moments!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hands-On Lent for Preschoolers: The Resurrection Cross

This is our son, then age 4, making his resurrection cross last year for Lent. We made a big batch of white playdough, then colored a few balls of dough for decoration. I let him fashion the cross, cut the hearts with a cookie cutter, and recreate the scene as he saw fit.
There is a candle for each week, but it's done in reverse of the Advent wreath, extinguishing a candle for each week leading to Good Friday. I think we lit the whole cross each week, then blew out the appropriate number of candles until Good Friday, when all the candles were extinguished. Jesus died on the cross, and the world was plunged into darkness. On Easter Sunday, all the candles were lit again, representing Christ's resurrection and the Light of the World.
The colorful lumps around the bottom of the cross were the people who shouted mean things to Jesus, according to our son. His four-year-old interpretation of the crucifixion scene brought tears to my eyes. The crown of thorns at the top was his idea, as well as the red (pink) hearts where Jesus' hands were nailed to the cross.
We'll definitely be repeating this tradition this Lenten season. For older kids, perhaps they could give something up for each candle they extinguish, one per week, lending lots of opportunities to talk about Christ's ultimate sacrifice. His love was so great, He gave up His life for us.
How do you learn about or celebrate this religious season with your kids?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Wedding Night

No, I'm not continuing Karly's discussion from last Friday. I just thought I'd tell you a funny story. 
We had big plans to leave our wedding reception early, but you know how that goes. At 8:30 my friend Cathy, who coordinated the whole shindig, came over and said, "Y'all need to leave!" So we flew out of there amidst bubbles and hugs, went home for a quick shower, and drove to the Grand Floridian at Disney to begin our new life together. We got to the hotel about 10, checked in, and headed up to our room...which was being cleaned. Back down to the front desk, we were given another room, went up to that one, and...someone was working on the electrical panel next to the room. "Oh! You don't want this room," he said. "The air conditioning isn't working." It was the 24th of May in Florida. We needed A/C. Fortunately, nearly everyone who works at Disney is extremely helpful, so the maintenance man called down to the front desk for us. He then took us to our new room and let us in, since he had a master key. The good thing about this mess was that we got bumped up to the concierge level (I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's good) and had a room with a balcony where we could watch  the fireworks at Magic Kingdom each night. The bad thing about this mess was that we had to wait a while for the bellhop to bring our luggage up. Like 30 minutes. And we didn't know when he was coming, so basically we sat on the bed and stared at each other. 
It was a little awkward.
Until the bellhop left.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Movie Review

I love to escape.
Really I do.
I used to escape by drinking when I went out with friends. Now, I still love to go out with friends, but I've ditched the drinking part. It leads to too much baggage for me.

Another way to escape reality for a while is to watch a movie. It's so fun! I also love to read, but sometimes you just want to be entertained visually, you know?

Well, Mark and I have found a series of movies that we really like. The "Love Comes Softly"series.

I believe there are 6 movies so far and they are based on the books of the same name penned by Janette Oke. The director is Michael Landon, Jr., the son of Michael Landon from "Little House on the Prarie". Katherine Heigl is featured in the first movie of the series.

A movie review I read : These movies have that "Little House on the Prarie" feeling yet they conquer some serious challenges in the lives of the Davis family. The family seeks God to guide them in their decisions as well as comfort them in their times of distress and tragedy.

If you live in Lake Wales, the Blockbuster here has all of them except the 5th one (the 5th one is at the Blockbuster on Cypress Gardens Blvd). Movies 1 thru 4 are in the 99 cent section (as of a few weeks ago) and the 6th one may still be a new release.

These are the titles:
1) Love Comes Softly
2) Love's Enduring Promise
3) Love's Long Journey
4) Love's Abiding Joy
5) Love's Unending Legacy
6) Love's Unfolding Dream

Well, let me know if you know of any other great family movies. "Fireproof", "The Ultimate Gift" and "Facing the Giants" are well worth watching as well.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Things Fall Apart

I am just about always up for an adventure. I mean, isn't a trip to the Wal-Mart can be an adventure, right? Well, last week I convinced some other Motley Moms to go strawberry picking. And, it was a total bust. Apparently, because of the economy (I ended up calling the Florida Strawberry Growers Association) they are now waiting to open the fields up for u-pick until the very end of the growing season. They are trying to get most of the fruit to fresh market, explained the nice lady who answered. This, after we drove for about 1 1/2 hours with the kids strapped in car seats.

Aren't I an awesome friend? [Read:Sarcasm] Everyone was very gracious. They did not slap or yell at me, which I am sure I deserved. And we ended stopping at a big mall and letting the kids play on the playland area for a bit. But, it was not strawberry picking. And it was my fault. I suppose I should have "googled it" before we left. I last went strawberry picking 2 years ago in February...last year I was too pregnant and tired to even try.

On the way home, we all split up. The kids were all at different stages of tired and my own both napped for a bit (very abnormal for us). We did end up stopping at some second-hand and used furniture stored for a bit of searching. My kids are just used to my antics, I think. Mostly because I call just about everything (especially things they may not think are fun...like going to the Wal-Mart) an adventure. And, these days are some of my favorites. Nothing specific planned and we just get in the car and go.

We stopped at a little park for about 20 minutes and then stopped at a museum in Bartow. We looked at old pictures and decided we could have been pioneers. [Personally, I think we need a goat and some chickens, but I don't think that would go over well with my hubby, or our neighbors, or our church next door, or anyone but me and the kids.] We poked through some more antique stores and found a few little treasures.

I really did have a fun time. My friends, I hope you did, too. It wasn't what I expected, but it was fun. Now I am starting to think about a trip to the beach. And I was just reading this weekend that Florida is home to 100+ of the largest trees on record in the country. I think we may have to try to visit each one. Whatever it is, another adventure awaits!!

What adventures have you been on lately? Planned or unplanned? Which is better?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me

My last full-time job was working as an accountant in the basement of our local hospital. It was a small office of about 10 women and our male boss. Most of the ladies had degrees in accounting while mine was in business management. I was one of the youngest in the department, so I was the low-girl on the totem pole in lots of ways. The ladies were all very nice, but they kept to themselves. They didn't want to share any of the fun accounting work, so I got to do lots of grunt work, as my friend Natalie called it; think Cinderella forced to work for the IRS. One of my actual jobs was the laundry statistic for the Medicare cost report. Most of the other girls were your stereotypical accountants and were not really outgoing. One of my first ventures in my new department was to learn everyone's birthdays, which were not usually recognized or celebrated.

I started buying birthday cards and passed the card around for everyone to sign. I was quickly given the task of social director for the department, which meant birthday cards and holiday food days. I started working in the office in August, and my birthday was in May. The first year I worked there, someone was kind enough to buy me a card in return - not that it's all about that. By my second birthday in the office, I was in the middle of numerous failed infertility treatments, and I recently had braces put on my teeth. I get canker sores a lot, and my mouth was freaking out about all of the metal inside it. It was a severe allergic reaction to say the least. On my actual birthday, all of my coworkers forgot what day it was, and I ended up at my doctor's office getting my canker sores burnt over with silver nitrate sticks. It was so painful that I had tears running down my cheeks.

I was so mad at all of my coworkers. Short of quiting, I didn't know what to do, so I called my Aunt Barb for advice. She has always been my rock. I remember once when I was a teenager she took me out to eat just to spend time with me. She told me that no one at her office ever remembered her birthday either, so she sent herself an anonymous cake. She even gave me the number of her baker. I called and had a strawberry cake with butter cream icing delivered the very next day. It was decorated with pretty roses and read, "Happy Belated Birthday! You're the Best!" It was kind of an inside joke because they all thought I was the boss's favorite, which I was not, BTW. Would he forget his favorite employee's birthday, after all? When the cake was delivered, I acted so surprised. I thanked them profusely and begged them to tell me who sent it. It was hilarious, and I never told them I sent it.

The next year for my birthday, they surprised me with a food day in my honor cake and all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Maria is out of town and she asked me to do Wednesdays but I forgot. So I am posting now. I am just wanted to show you all some of the work I am doing. I really enjoy photography and I am taking some photography classes. If you know anyone that is interested in someone taking their pictures for a special event let them know that you have seen some of my work. Thanks a bunch. Have a great week. God bless

Preschoolers vs. Teenagers

I'm really scared, ladies. I mean it. And here's why: I don't think we've even touched on the difficult years of parenting yet. There. I've said it. I'm not saying it's been easy so far; it hasn't. In fact, I had no idea how hard parenting was before I had kids. The first couple of months are a nightmare - no sleep, spit-up, poop shooting out at a high velocity, endless laundry, nursing, not feeling like you have any idea what you're doing...then toddlerhood comes with temper tantrums and childproofing everything and learning the word, "No!" Throw in stomach viruses, sibling rivalry, and potty training, and it ain't easy, folks. I've been having a particularly rough time with Ethan lately. He is so defiant! This morning he had to go to preschool and he refused to eat breakfast. He kicked me when I picked him up to take him to the kitchen after he flopped down on the couch and refused to move. We were running late and I hate to be late. I told him to go potty and when I went to check on him he was just standing in the hall. Then after he peed he refused to pull up his pants. Then he refused to wash his hands. Then he refused to get his teeth brushed. It was an endless battle. I am still so keyed up I think I could go running, and I hate running. 

But here's the kicker: We haven't gotten to the hard part yet. 

I know this because I have friends with teenagers. One of my friends at tae kwon do was telling us last night that he had to take the computer away from his 13-year-old daughter because she spent 14 hours straight on it. Didn't go to bed till 4:30 in the morning. He told her the limit was now 30 minutes and she openly defied him and stayed on for an hour. Then he caught her telling her mom, "I can't stand him! I don't want to listen to anything he says!" My other good friend recently found out her 16-year-old son has been smoking marijuana with his friends. She discovered this by reading comments on his MySpace. She had her husband go to the high school, check him out, and take him to get drug tested. She met them at the lab and cried through the whole ordeal. These are not "bad" kids. They make good grades, their parents are very involved in their lives, they excel at sports, they have a lot of friends, they go to church, etc. And they were punished for their actions. It's not like they thought they wouldn't be. The girl can't use the computer for 2 weeks and the boy lost his car, cell phone, MySpace password (his mom changed it and won't tell him the new one - isn't that awesome?), and privileges. I have one more friend who has a 15-year-old daughter who likes to go to the movies just so she can make out with boys. She is a good girl and all they do is kiss, but still! The thought of my sons kissing girls in a dark movie theater absolutely freaks me out. I hope they're afraid of girls until they're 25. Don't even ask what I would do if I found out my kids were using drugs or drinking. Because the answer is: I. Have. No. Idea.

So this post is a shout-out to my friends with teenagers. I know you like to laugh at me with my "problems" - potty training, the baby arching his back so I can't buckle him into his car seat, and stepping on Cheerios every time I enter the kitchen. Here's to you and your teenagers - to getting high, IMing until you're blind, and making out with boys. I'm afraid I have no idea how hard it's about to get!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I got married on Mardi Gras

I got married 2 years ago today and it was Mardi Gras. In any other little town, that would not matter at all. In our little town, we throw down for Mardi Gras. Well, we throw down in a very small town kind of way. Hokey parade and costumes. It's pretty hilarious. I moved to this town in 1984 and have attended every single Mardi Gras since (that would be all but the very first one).

I did not plan to get married on Mardi Gras. I planned to get married on my grandmother's birthday (which is also today). I wanted to elope. My husband wanted a wedding. He got his way. We had a small ceremony and reception at our church. We had planned on going to a downtown restaurant afterwards with our family and have dinner. But, 3 weeks before the wedding the restaurant called and cancelled, because it was Mardi Gras.

I freaked out some. Then I decided that I couldn't miss Mardi Gras, I mean, I had never ever missed a Mardi Gras. So, we thought we would have everybody walk down to the parade after the ceremony and then come back to our house for a small party. My mom stopped at a little store downtown to pick up a very pretty Mardi Gras mask for me. She ended up telling the owner of the shop about what happened. She immediately called her son, a firefighter, and arranged to have the hook and ladder truck that was leading the parade be decorated with "Just Married" signs and for us to ride the parade route in the bucket. Then she insisted on reserving her storefront for everyone who attended the wedding. She even decorated for it.

Seriously. I am not even making this up.

So, that is what we did. Our guests enjoyed a cake and punch reception and then went to the Mardi Gras parade (with reserved seating)! We got a ride to the firehouse and climbed into the bucket truck and led the parade. I have to admit, I kind of felt like the whole thing was a party just for us. And, let me tell you, when you have beads, you have POWER. People go pretty crazy for some plastic beads. My hubby and I kept kissing each other just to avoid throwing all of our loot before we got to the end of the parade (and because we just got married, of course)!

The truck dropped us off with our guests near the end of the parade route and we watched the parade with our family and friends. We also got interviewed for a story in the local paper, yes there is proof. Then we rendezvoused at our house for a party. (I had Mardi Gras wedding shirts printed for RM, myself, and THE Princess so we had a quick costume change.) We had Turducken (a chicken in a duck in a turkey, seriously), jambalaya, gumbo, and kings cake. We partied into the wee hours. It was kind of a crazy wedding. But fun.

So, if you ever need a fun day to have a wedding, plan for the LW Mardi Gras. Or not, it's a little unorthodox. But it's fun!

Monday, February 16, 2009

It Just Got Personal

If you didn't know, my family moved to Florida in August from a small, close-knit town in Illinois. Today our town is grieving a terrible loss. Last week, two of our Illinois National Guard soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. One of the soldiers was from our town. He was a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, uncle, solider, student, friend and co-worker. Our town has only 1,000 people, so everybody knows everybody, and everybody is deeply affected by this loss. My thoughts are with my friends today. I can't stop thinking about them. By the grace of God, they will make it through this time together.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A little of this, a little of that...

I don't really have a well-developed blog post for today, but I have a ton of mini-could-be-blog-posts/observations/musings from our day out at the State Fair yesterday, so how about a blog sampler?

Everybody Loves a Show, No Matter Who They Are or How Many Times They Have Seen It Before...

The State Fair boasted a Shark Tank this year, and of course we went to see the show. As I stood there looking at the sea of people waiting for the small door on the "shark tank" to open, however, I was struck by something. All of us were in Florida, many of us live here, and the majority of those who live here have seen a shark before, either in captivity or in the wild. Personally, I have been to Sea World dozens of times and seen huge shark tanks in theme parks and aquariums, and I would bet that I wasn't the only one.

So, why were we crammed into this expo center?

To see this guy dance with a shark and then pretend to play it like a guitar, of course.

Anything Tastes Better Fried, Especially Things That Aren't Good For You in the First Place...

Deep-fried Oreo Cookies. I don't feel the need to elaborate any on that one.

I Guess They Have to Do Something to Pass the Time Between Acts...

I just don't think clowns are funny. We went to the circus, and this clown who strongly resembled Pee Wee Herman "entertained" us in between the actual acts. OK, I get it--you're a big guy riding a little tiny tricycle. Yay for you. Now can we get on with seeing people stick their heads into wild animals mouths, please?

Lemonade Is Magic...

Towards the end of the day our son started throwing a major fit. He was tired, and it had been a long day, but this was one impressive tantrum. We walked past a prayer tent, and I was seriously concerned that the evangelist might come out and lay hands on him because he was screaming so hysterically.

In a last-ditch effort to get out of the gate without being questioned for kidnapping, we stopped for lemon shake-ups. Suddenly, our screaming child morphed into content one, happily sipping on his "memomade" and counting the number of lemons on the cup. I'm definitely storing that little remedy away for future reference!

Kids Say the Darnedest Things...

This actually happened at the mall after we left the fair. Our son was still under the influence of the Vitamin C and sugar, so we felt like we could go in for a while.

I was looking at some pants, and our son walked over, took them from me and said, "No Mommy, no fit. No fit. Too [s]mall. Too [s]mall." He then hung them on the rack and repeated himself. Now, I'm sure he was just imitating me from our forays into buying his pants since they are usually too short. He couldn't have been calling me too fat to fit into the pants, could he???

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Vintage Valentines, Dating Again, and Some Fun Valentine Ideas

At MOPS this week, we enjoyed hearing from a panel of experienced wives and mothers who shared their wisdom with us, along with some ideas to keep your marriage warm and toasty while raising very needy preschoolers.

One of the major things that everyone felt is important is to take vacations, with and without the children. Well, in this economy, going off for weekend excursions with my hubby for some much needed rest and relaxation just ain't gonna happen for us. But now, with the help of a friend, we have found a way to take "mini vacations." Before we got married, we just called them "dates." Now, as soon as we walk out the back door and get in the car, we feel like we've escaped on a mini vacation!

My friend and I are doing a babysitting exchange. Last night, Paul and I ate dinner with the kids, bathed them and got our youngest into bed. Then I rushed to get some fresh clothes on, spruce myself up a bit and grab my purse, while my friend settled in for storytime on the couch with our five-year-old. Hugs and kisses, exhortations to "be good for Miss Teresa and get right in bed after stories," and we were out the door. Free!

Dating my husband takes a lot more effort than it did before we had kids (I will be babysitting my friend's children one night next week in exchange for our lovely night out), but it's totally worth it! I'm happy to report that we did not talk about the kids at all while on our date!

Some cute Valentine Ideas, some from makeandtakes.com:

We'll be making heart pancakes for breakfast and Valentine decorations for the table (I have a pink tablecloth and white lace overlay that looks romantic and sweet with handmade Valentines scattered across it!).

For lunch, I'll make a heart-shaped pizza for my family with a message on the table that reads, "You've Stolen a Pizza My Heart!"

For dinner, I'm getting Chinese take-out. I could make a big special meal, but my gift to my family is my presence in our celebration. I want to be able to enjoy it, too!

Do you have any sweet Valentine traditions or ideas for your family?

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


We have a Wii. That's just fun to say. Anyway, we're not big gamers. I mean, I can usually beat my nephew at Mortal Kombat, but I can't get into all this Halo/Call of Duty/World of Warcraft stuff. The Wii, however, is for those of us who are not gamers. You don't have to memorize combinations of buttons to press together at the proper time. If you want to play tennis, swing the remote around like a tennis racket. If you want to play golf, use the remote like a golf club. There's a game called Smooth Moves where you play all these silly mini-games and you have to use the remote different ways, like as an elephant's trunk or a steering wheel. You can also download old Nintendo games cheaply, like Super Mario World, which is definitely the best of the Mario games. It only cost me $8. 
I got a game called Wii Fit for Christmas. It's kind of a game/workout program. There's yoga, strength training, balance games, and aerobics. I really like the yoga and I'm surprisingly good at it. The balance games are fun - there's a ski slalom, ski jumping, and a game where you hit soccer balls with your head and dodge cleats and panda bear heads. The aerobics is good, too. You can do step aerobics or run or hula hoop. Wii Fit will do a body test if you want it to, which can be rather disconcerting, as it will tell you your BMI and your weight. It keeps track of weight loss and how often you exercise. One of the best things about the Wii is that it gets you up off the couch and moving around. 
Another feature of the Wii are the Miis. You can go to the Mii Channel on your Wii and create your own avatar. It's amazing how like you they can look. We have lots of Miis on our Wii - one for just about everyone who's ever played it. There's one for me, one for Todd, my nephew, his friend Tanner, several of our friends, my mom, and my dad. The one my dad made looks so much like him it's uncanny. This Mii has the same color hair, the glasses, the nose, everything. Many games use the Miis; like when you're bowling you'll see different Miis in the background or if you're playing baseball they'll be on your team or on the opposing team. I like running with the Wii Fit. It's not a long distance and Miis run by you, waving and smiling. They even cheer you on and are waiting for you at the finish line. It's really neat to be running along and pass by my dad. I know it's not real; I know he's gone. But it feels good to see him. Today I was running a longer distance than usual and I didn't see him. I was sad. Where was he? Had the machine malfunctioned and deleted his Mii? He was there, though, clapping and smiling for me as I approached the finish line. 
I really don't know how to end this. I could tell you I'm not crazy, but you may not believe me if you've ever spent any real time with me. I could tell you that this month marks a year since my dad died, but I don't want to be a downer. I just wanted to share my happy moment - playing a fun game and seeing an old friend. What's better than that?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fast and Easy

No. I'm not talking about myself.

Actually, if you are like me, then you must like to cook fast and easy things. The best is if you can find a great, easy recipe that can feed a whole bunch of people at once without breaking the bank.

I recently made this when I had a friend over with her kids. The kids actually helped me make it and it came out delicious! It is so easy and so yummy!

Maria's Baked Ziti

1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
32 ounces part-skim Polly-O ricotta cheese (whatever the big size carton is)
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs, beaten (I use cage-free eggs)
1 1/2 jars (use the big, 3 lb. jars) spaghetti sauce (I like Prego Chunky Garden)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
Lightly grease a 10' x 15" pyrex baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
That's it!

Pair it up with a healthy salad and garlic bread and you now have a beautiful meal completed.

By the way, I got a version of this recipe (and most of my other recipes) from http://www.allrecipes.com/. Donna, I think you told me about this site -thank you! You can save your favorites in your very own online recipe box. I love it!

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh crap. Seriously.

No, this picture has nothing to do with my post. I was just proud that during the King of the Jungle's bat-ma-tism (as THE Princess says) he did not scream bloody murder. This was just seconds after he made "the face" and I thought it would all go downhill from there. Luckily, it did not. Pheww....

So, now, the oh crap part of my post. (Doesn't it seem like many of my posts are the "oh crap" sorts?) Such is my life, I suppose.

So, in my little world, February has turned into quite the eventful month. I had planned on not doing a lot. But, more quickly than I imagined, it has become busy. The one thing I had planned on was this coming weekend. This weekend, my grandparents, turn 88 and 90. My PopPop has his birthday on Friday and my Mimi (or GG for Great Grandma - now) has her birthday on the 17th. Valentines is sandwiched right there in the middle. And, my own anniversary is also on GG's birthday.

How slick is it that I get to squeeze 2 holiday's and a couple of birthday's together? Mostly, because for valentines and our anniversary, I must get gifts for my darling husband. That sounds like something I don't want to do and really, I do want to get him gifts. Really.

The thing is that I never know what to get my husband. He likes airplane stuff. Not, airplane themed items like clocks and signs. No he likes actual airplane items. Like, for use or installation on an actual airplane. Altimeters, gyroscopes, wires and other technical items. The last item he requested was a digital scale for weighing out the components of his aviation glue. (I swear this is not made up.)

In fact, after using the camera this weekend this is a small sampling of the pictures I found.

There were like 150 various shots of this sort. Engine components and parts along with an engine mount (I had to ask to find out). Not a living soul (not even the dog) in the bunch.

It's not exactly romantic. And neither are socks and underwear, which is my default gift for his stocking at Christmas.

But, my husband has made it easy on me, finally! He now buys his own gift. Seriously. A new airplane something or other. He even let me see a picture of it. It pretty much looks like one of the pictures above. And it has a fantastically technical name that I can't remember. I just call it a "thingy" or "whatyamacallit."

That makes my life so much easier. That leaves me trying to figure out a unique Valentine my children can give to their friends. That is something I can do.
THE Princess gets tired of making valentines after about the second one, which last year, left me with about 30 more to make.
The package arrived this weekend. I ordered personalized Fruit Roll Ups with my kids pictures on them and the message, "you are so tweet" with a little birdy graphic. I was trying to stay away from candy (not that a fruit roll up is much better) and have something fairly personal.

They actually look better in person...who knew that taking a picture of a fruit roll up would be so difficult. (The shininess of the fruit roll-up does not help my sad photography skills at all.)

Okay, so even if you don't order any, get on over to My Fruit Roll-Ups and design your own. It's pretty fun!
So, I am a bad, bad wife. No gift for my hubby on Valentines/Anniversary. Well, not a gift actually picked out and paid for by me. Or, maybe it's his way of giving me a gift. Sort of. I think. Heck, I don't know. I am just glad I don't have to pick out a gyro-aileron-triple beam balance for him. Seriously.

Monday, February 9, 2009

OK girls, get comfy. It’s gonna be a long one. “See, we have this depression goin’ on” and I cain’t afford no counselin’….

Today is one of those I hate everything kind of days, which is really sad because the day started out great. My husband let me sleep in. I had a few minutes to catch up on reading my Bible. I checked my email. I even logged on to Facebook. There it was, the stupid questionnaire that threatened my day: First born. Here are some of the questions:


For me, infertility was a seven year battle filled with pain, despair, sorrow, anger, crying, hopelessness, more crying, more anger and guilt. I hid in bathroom stalls and cried. I cried in airports, and I even ran out of a college class crying. Fortunately I was taking the class, not teaching it. Looking back, that one was kind of funny. A girl was giving a report on abortions and how bad they are, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. The other students in the class probably thought I had had one earlier in life.

During that time, people said the worst things to me in an attempt to help. My coworkers would complain about their kids and then say, “See, aren’t you glad you don’t have any.” That resulted in the bathroom stall episode from above. My husband and I tried each medical breakthrough once just so I could have the peace of mind that I did everything I could. This involved me carrying expensive, injectible drugs (our co-pay for one week of drugs was over $1,000) through an airport and shooting up in the bathroom between flights. My husband even had to learn how to give me shots. BTW, the medicine itself is hormones, so you can just imagine my emotional state of mind.

Then there were the failures. I never got pregnant, and each time I had to tell my husband that it didn’t work was harder and harder. I will never forget the day I found out our In Vitro failed. This In Vitro was our last ditch effort, our final try. My brother Brad just happened to come to work to see me right after I got the news. I was devastated. Thank God he was there to help me. Sadly, trough it all, I was one of the lucky ones. God protected me from a lot of pain. I never miscarried. My mom had several miscarriages just trying to have the three of us. I have two close friends who had ectopic pregnancies, which are devastating. God knew I couldn’t handle those types of loss.

I have endometriosis, and I had three surgeries within in two years to try to remove the damaged tissue. In 2007, I finally had a hysterectomy. After adopting Alex, I would say that I am mostly cured from the sorrow of infertility. The pain and anger sneak up on me every once in a while, but I can now say I am so glad things worked out the way they did. Alex is awesome. Thank you God for having enough faith in me to find Alex and for planning such a wonderful child for me. When we went to Russia, we were paired with the Ribeiros, who have become great friends. I remember asking Carrie why God gave us such a desire to have kids when we physically couldn’t. She explained it best. God has to give some women that much desire so that these kids can have homes. Think about it, if you could give birth, you would. Who else would be willing to jump through all of the adoption hoops? She is just so smart and another fantastic gift from God.

Even being mostly cured, there are days when I get tired of looking on the bright side. I get tired of being positive. Today is one of those days. In response to this questionnaire, I posted a note that some people might have said was snarly, but darn it, I am tired of pretending like it didn’t hurt. Most importantly, the extreme hurt is what makes God's answer to the hurt so wonderful. Selena, one of my first friends in life, wrote a note back to me saying “You could just be creative.” Isn't she great and wise? I am so glad to be back in touch with her. She is right, but I just needed a minute to have a pity party.

Now that I am over it, I am asking you all to read my answers to the questions. Thanks for letting me vent. I really appreciate it. I do want to add that the girl who sent me this questionnaire is supper sweet and would never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I also need to say again, I am so thankful this was God’s plan for me. I can’t believe he gave me such a wonderful gift as Alex, and I would never want Alex to think I would have it any other way. When I was so desperate and going through infertility, I didn’t know that God was going to work things out for me. He did not have to give me a child. I knew God could help me be joyful in any circumstance, but I didn’t know how great the plan was.

WAS YOUR FIRST PREGNANCY PLANNED? More than you can imagine, but not my plans, God’s.
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION? Sheer joy – see picture.

WAS ABORTION AN OPTION FOR YOU? Never, and praise God it wasn’t for his birth mom either!
HOW OLD WERE YOU? 32 – only about seven years older than I thought I would be.
WHO DID YOU TELL FIRST? My dad – my husband was with me.
DID YOU WANT TO FIND OUT THE SEX? We travelled to Russia on a blind referral, which means we did not know anything about the child we were meeting, and then found out that our child was an 11 month old boy!
DUE DATE? Sometime in November of 2004.
DID YOU HAVE MORNING SICKNESS? More than you can imagine due to the blind referral. Thank goodness Prilosect came out OTC that spring.
WHAT DID YOU CRAVE? Homemade brownies on top of homemade coffee cream topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
WHO/WHAT IRRITATED YOU THE MOST? Pregnant people – I am sorry, but it was kind of true back then.
DID YOU HAVE ANY COMPLICATIONS DURING YOUR PREGNANCY? Yes, the Russian government changed a lot of their requirements during our adoption. We had to be examined by seven or eight different doctors while in Russia.
WHERE DID YOU GIVE BIRTH? Alex’s birth certificate says that I gave birth to him in Astrakhan, Russia. He was actually born in Kamyzak.
HOW MANY HOURS WERE YOU IN LABOR? I call our flight home my labor, so 23 or 24 hours.
WHO DROVE YOU TO THE HOSPITAL? My mom and dad drove us to the airport.
WHO WATCHED YOU GIVE BIRTH? A team of social workers, lawyers, a judge and a few translators.
WAS IT NATURAL OR C-SECTION? It was far from natural.
HOW MUCH DID YOUR CHILD WEIGH? 1K and 900 g – 4 pounds and 3 ounces.
WHEN WAS YOUR CHILD BORN? September 25, 2004.
WHAT DID YOU NAME HIM/HER? Alex (this is part of his given name) Jacob (from the Bible) Carver.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

From the Heart

Did you know that February, among other things, is American Heart Month? Did you also know that heart disease is the number one killer of women? It's a fairly available statistic, but I haven't really thought about it before.

I know that heart disease is present in my family medical history, as is diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, and I should probably be concerned about those things in my own health. I asked my doctor how I can avoid those health problems as I age, and I was a little shocked by his response. I was expecting a laundry list of supplements that I could take or a book I could read, but what he told me was this: Eat right and exercise.

Hm. Well, I knew that already. Thanks for the consultation.

Surely health isn't that simple. I mean, these are things we all do normally anyway, right? Right. I do eat fairly healthy and balanced meals. I also consume quite a bit of sugar and fat in between them. I would like to say that I go to cardio kickboxing class twice a week, walk the other days, and squeeze in a yoga workout every other day to unwind. Reality: These days, even though it is my favorite way to exercise, I make it to cardio maybe once week, and that is after I took a two month break during the holidays. The pace of my walking depends on the pace of my toddler, and well, yoga just isn't as beneficial when a two-year-old is jumping on your back while you're trying to push up into a cobra.

I do think that heart health is attainable, and it's one of those things that I can actually influence if I, well, TRY. There are so many diseases and conditions that just happen (if you want a list, watch House). If heart disease is avoidable by me taking control of my choices, don't I owe it to myself and to my family to not self-destruct? Especially if all that it takes is "eating right and exercising?" It's not always that basic, I know, and genes do play a role, but that seems like a fairly decent place to start.

So, I am happy to say that I started kickboxing again this weekend, and while I am quite sore I can already feel my heart beating with more strength. I have to admit that I was actually afraid to go back to class. Yes, part of that was the fear of passing out on the mat in the middle of the workout, but even more so was the fear that I had failed by missing two months of class. I was afraid to see my instructor, afraid that he might be upset with me for not making time to be there. I was afraid of his disappointment--I felt like I had been doing so well, and then I just stopped cold. When I walked into the studio Friday night, my instructor was sitting behind the desk as the previous class finished.

I swallowed hard, walked up to him, and said, "Can I come back?"

He said, "Sure."

Not, "well, I guess so," or "only if you promise not to fail this time."

Apparently, unlike me, he had spent a considerable amount of time NOT dwelling on my failure. I went to the mat, kicked and punched my way into breathlessness, and then went home. It was completely NOT the big deal I had imagined in the previous weeks, and I feel pretty foolish to have been so worried.

I can't believe that I would let my fear of failure and my totally unwarranted fear of judgment get in the way of my well-being. That's a perfectionist for you.

If you visit the AHA's Go Red for Women website, you will see a window on the right-hand side that says, "The Choice Is Yours." Under it is a list of heart-healthy choices. I've decided that for right now my choice is, "I choose to move, not sit."

What about you? What choices are you making? Is anything standing in the way of you acting on those choices?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Am Woman, Hear Me...Whimper

I rarely EVER ask for help. That's not a bragging right, it's more a confession. Convincing myself and others that I can do it all is really not good for anyone. Especially me. I am not superwoman. There. I said it.

It's not good for my daughter to see me striving to do all and be all...what kind of precedent am I setting here? I want my kids to know that it's okay to ask for help. Or to accept help when it's offered.

A friend of mine recently offered to take my kids to the park to give me a little break for an hour or so. She had noticed how tired, stressed and generally underwhelmed I have been lately and generously offered her time in order to give me some time for myself. I was extremely reluctant to accept this help. Why? I guess I've fallen under the delusion that I can handle it all, all the time. I'm home with my kids all day and I'm used to doing everything with them in tow.

Everything except taking time for myself. Writing. Reflecting. Relaxing. Praying. Creating. Very little creativity happens for me if my kids are around. I just can't put my thoughts together enough to generate a creative work when I can hear my kids pounding around the house and yelling at each other. Not possible.

So I forced myself to accept my sweet friend's offer (fully intending to reciprocate somehow for her) and I am looking forward to a morning's hour alone. Wow! To be alone in my own home? I don't think that has happened on a weekday in years. I can't decide what to do first: take a quiet shower? A nap? Start working on character and setting for my currently very short work of fiction? Go for a jog? Make a fresh pot of coffee and surf the net? Clean the house? (probably not that one)...but the possibilities are dizzying!

Maybe I'll start with a shower, have a little chat with God, and then go from there...Thank you, God, for friends who help to brush aside the brambles that grow over this little light of mine. Amen.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Big Events

The past two weeks have been pretty exciting 'round here at the ol' Sebring domicile. Last week I decided that by God, Ethan was getting potty trained. I literally dragged him into the bathroom kicking and screaming several times. And I've read all the books and I know you're supposed to let them do it when they're ready and not punish them, blah blah blah, but my kid is stubborn. Obstinate to the core. So I had to punish him. I had to force the issue. I had to give him time-outs and pops on the hiney for not cooperating. When he did actually go pee in the potty, I made a huge deal. We did the dance of joy down the hallway. I gave him M&M's. I gave him stickers - one on each hand. I told everyone I've ever met. He is now going pretty regularly and even went in a PUBLIC RESTROOM at Animal Kingdom on Saturday. It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen. It's such a freeing feeling. Now, if I could just get him to stop pooping in his Pull-Ups...
Micah also had a big week. He walked! He had taken a couple of little steps, but last week he started taking 5-6 steps at a time. It helped to have his Grandma's cane to lure him. For some reason he loves that cane. He would rather walk to it than to his own mother. 
This week is birthday week. No, I did not intend to have 2 children within the same week (2 years apart, of course), but my anniversary is the end of May. Do the math. Micah's birthday was Tuesday. The whole fam-damily and some close friends came over for supper and cupcakes. Yesterday some friends met us at the train park for a picnic and more cupcakes. Today I'm taking in a special snack (Lightning McQueen fruit snacks, apple juice, and cookies) for Ethan's preschool class, and tomorrow night we are having another dinner with the family and close friends because it's Ethan's birthday. I am going to attempt to make Ethan a Thomas the Train cake. I will probably post pictures of this "cake wreck" next week. I am not crafty AT ALL (a quick confession: sometimes when I go to MOPS and I see the table set up for crafts, I break into a cold sweat and want to run away), but I'm going to try my best for my lil guy. I can't believe I planned all this partying so close together. This is compounded by the fact that Todd and I spent Sunday puking our guts up and then Monday recovering. I'm still not totally well, evidenced by the fact that I have had not one single cupcake. 
I realize that I'm rambling. That's probably because I made the coffee this morning and I always make it a little too strong. I just wanted to share with you the big events that have happened in my kids' lives since I last wrote. I can't believe that as of tomorrow, I have a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. And that one of them is walking and one of them is going pee in the potty. Time sure does fly. Now, if any of you have any suggestions for getting them to poop in the potty...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

City Slickers

Have you ever seen the movie City Slickers? It's an oldie with Billy Crystal in it from 1991. I love that movie. First of all, he is hilarious and the theme has recently struck a cord in me.

In a nut-shell, the movie is about a "mid-life crisis plagued man and his friends find renewal and purpose on a cattle driving vacation". When I first saw this movie, I was about 21 years old. It was kind of like I was watching a movie like Grumpy Old Men. These people were OLD and yet so funny still. Ha!

Now the joke is on me. I watched it recently for nostalgia's stake and lo and behold..... the main character turns..........

in the movie. Wait a minute. 39? That can't be.

I'M 39!

Oh, well. That's life. It's funny. You just think you'll never get old. But you do eventually if your blessed to. Well, I'm embracing my age/experience best I can. It's fun to talk about.

Have you ever watched a movie and felt old? Tell me about it....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cake Wrecks....Motley Moms Style

Okay, so I don't really think these cakes are cake wrecks. I actually think they are pretty awesome, considering that middle and high school kids made them. I really love seeing stuff like this in real life, it inspires me to be more creative.
Last Friday, I took a 44 of my high school students to the Youth Fair to participate in Working Booths. While they were working away, I walked around and looked at the entries. The following cakes were made my middle and high school students. There were some pretty cute ones...take a look!
This was one of my very favorites, the Ferris Wheel Cake! You could even make the kids on the ferris wheel look like the ones you are serving.

A sunflower cake made with twinkies. Cute!

Probably not the colors I would choose but wow, working with fondant is hard!

This one won a tri-color (judge's choice) and how cute. Again, the fondant is pretty impressive.

Any ideas on what the theme is? Polka Dots? Targets? Circles? Modern Art?

How cute is this Pond cake? How did they ever think of this? It would be great for someone who loves fishing. You have to look closely, these are little moose. I like their hooves! And it was made by a boy and won a tri-color!

This one is just plain hilarious. The Mudding Cake. I think if you live around here you know (or know of) and adult who would like this cake. And, what dirt loving kid wouldn't love it? Heck, I love it. (For the record, I don't mud, either.)

And that just covers a few of the cakes that were entered. They have tons of categories for sewing, canning, crafts, and animals. I could have spent an hour in the rabbit barn, some of those were just too adorable!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

Alex loves Santa. When we were home for Christmas, we took him to see Santa at the Bass Pro shop three different times. We have three different photos from three different days with three different Santas. I think by next year he might pick up on that. Almost daily he is still asking me, where Santa is? What is Santa doing? Yesterday alone, we pretended to be helping Santa at the North Pole for over an hour. After thinking about Santa so much in January, I can't help but think of my friend Heather. She doesn't ever want to lie to her kids, so she has told them the truth about Santa. Then I began to realize how often I lie to my child.

Example One - the circle of life: I don't really want Alex to know that some animals eat other animals to survive. In fact, I try to gloss over the fact that we eat animals to survive. I'm happy that he hasn't realized that the chicken we eat is the same as chickens with feathers. I was raised on a farm, and my family hunts. I should be better at handling this. I just love animals so much that I don't like to think about it myself. I know that this is a very important concept in science, so I do want him to learn it, just not yet.

Example two - death and dying: For a long time, when we would see a dead little animal on the side of the road, I would say it was sleeping. He now knows that those animals are dead because it is a very bad idea to play in the street. I think I had to come clean on this issue when Tasha, his pet goldfish, bit the dust. Of course, Alex thinks she is in heaven with God. And why is Disney so set on showing this to our kids? Alex has never seen the beginning of Finding Nemo. At some point, he will be old enough to watch all of it, but then I am going to have to explain why his version was so different. Did you see the Friends when Phoebe saw the end of Old Yeller? It will probably be like that.

Example three - birds and bees: Picture us at the zoo. Mommy, why is the daddy panther being mean to the mommy panther? Sure, I could use this as a teachable moment, but he is four! Can't we put this talk off a little while longer?

Example four - childhood fears: Alex is afraid of Kermit the frog, and I don't know why. For several months, I have tried telling him that Kermit is a nice frog, but it is so sad that he can't ever visit us because he lives far, far away. This fear of Kermit keeps us up at night and causes all of us to loose sleep. I finally gave up and told him that Kermit won't go into his room because Kermit is afraid of Alex's nightlight. Would you believe it worked? Maybe it isn't technically a lie since Kermit may really be afraid of nightlights.

I would say I am an honest person, but maybe I am not. Do these things count as lies? I do try to tell him the truth whenever I can, but it is tricky. Where do you draw the line between pretending and imagination and false truths? Will he understand that I was trying to protect his innocence? Will he use this against me and lie all the time? Will all of this lying put me on the naughty list? I am sure the answers are not easy, so in the meantime, if you see me hanging from a telephone wire, would you please get me a ladder?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

So I married a football fan...

Thanks to my Sunday post day here at Motley Moms I have the privilege of covering two very important days: Time Change Day and Superbowl Day. Well, it's not the day we change our clocks, so it must be game day! Yeah.

For those of you who might have missed it, I am from Kentucky. In case you didn't know, in Kentucky we are partial to a little game called "basketball." Traditionally, we're pretty darn good at it, too. Even during the years that our stats are a little low, we're still good at it, we're just having a re-organizing year. Now, some of you are thinking, she must be talking about the University of Kentucky, so why is she saying "we?" Well, basketball is such an institution in the Bluegrass State that our middle school and high school tournaments generate as much excitement as does March Madness. I was shocked when I moved to Florida and saw a high school "gym" for the first time--My elementary school court was bigger! Our high school gyms rival small universities here, and for important games they are probably better attended. To make a long point a little shorter, I grew up with basketball, and in my lifetime I have never really cared much for football.

So, I married a guy from Pittsburgh. They do like football there. Some people like it so much that they paint their team's insignia on the side of their houses. Today, the people of Pittsburgh are beside themselves with excitement, like true fans should be, as they wait to see if their beloved Steelers will bring home another championship. And tonight, the Superbowl will grace our television screen.

You're probably thinking that I'm going to say that since my husband and I got married over six years ago I have become a huge fan of football. Well, no, I have to admit that I still could care less about the sport (I can practically smell the rotten tomatoes some of you are getting ready to throw!) I'm still loyal to basketball, I have become a pretty big fan of curling over the years, and I love soccer, but football still escapes me. I don't get it, and really I don't feel like I need to. I wish the Steelers and their fans luck, I am happy for them, and I will watch them play, but honestly, I'm just not that into it.

So, in order to keep the peace in our household, I've had to come up with some reasons to get excited about game day. Here' s my list of things I think are "super" today:

1. Velveeta in its natural state kind of scares me, but when it's mixed with some Ro-Tel tomatoes it makes a yummy once-a-year dip.

2. Wilton makes cute little football sprinkles now. What's a football game without cute little cupcakes, right? ;)

3. We're all expected to eat a lot during the game, so any calories I consume probably don't count.

4. Two words: Puppy Bowl. My husband lets me flip to Animal Planet during the pre-game shows.

5. We get to watch the game with friends this year, and that makes anything more fun!

Have a happy game day, and do something you think is fun!