Sunday, December 10, 2006

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

I was drinking a really yummy coffee that I made right here at home today when I thought about all the things I love and enjoy right now in my life. Yeah, yeah, the kids and husband are great, but there are things I see or hear or taste or smell regularly that I just really enjoy right now. Here is a short list of some of those things.

1. Land O Lakes Peppermint Mocha Half and Half - A fantastic product I just found today. Unlike the non-dairy versions, this one tastes delicious!!!! Warm it up, add it to your coffee, and you have a delicious holiday drink.

2. Listening to (and singing with) my daughter Emma as she belts out Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. She sings it with such energy that you can't help but be filled with the Christmas spirit. Also, I love when she gets to the end of the song and sings that Rudolph goes down in a mystery, and tells me it's okay if I sing that he goes down in a story. Makes me smile every time.

3. Starbucks gingerbread lattes. I used to always order the peppermint mocha at this time of year, but sampled the gingerbread latte, and now I'm hooked. (Plus, see #1, I don't have to get them at Starbuck's anymore.)

4. Old Christmas movies and TV specials. Anyone who knows me well knows my all-time favorite is The Year Without A Santa Claus. Who doesn't love Heat Miser and Cold Miser singing their songs? My brothers, sister, and I can sing each song in it's entirety, and have done so at family gatherings to the dismay of our spouses. (They got used to it!) I also have to put a nod out to the old movies that I have grown to love since meeting my husband. It's a Wonderful Life and White Christmas are now required watching each Christmastime. Add The Bells of St. Mary's and A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart playing Scrooge, and I have my December viewing planned.

5. Seeing my brother-in-law, Kevin, play young scrooge and nephew Fred in The Drury Lane's children's production of A Christmas Carol this year. The show was fantastic, Kevin's performance was great, and getting to see it through Ian's eyes was just plain fun.

6. Hearing my 2 1/2 year old daughter shout, "Christmas clock!" every hour. We have a Christmas clock that my mother-in-law gave us several years ago. We get it out each year and on each hour it plays a different Christmas carol. This year is no different; when we began decorating, we got out the clock, put in the batteries, and set it on the mantle. However, Zoe found the clock fascinating, and every time she hears a carol play on it, she makes sure no one in the house misses it. Brendan and I like hearing Zoe do it so much that we have taken to shouting out "Christmas clock!" as well.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Strawberry Scents

When I was a little girl in the 1980's, I loved Strawberry Shortcake. I had (and still have, thanks to a diligent mom) all the original characters from the very first year, plus many of the characters that appeared after Strawberry Shortcake became so popular. I loved sniffing their heads and smelling that sweet strawberry (lemon, orange, cupcake) smell that became so familiar to me. I played with the dolls well into seventh grade and have wonderfully fond memories of them.

So, last year when I saw there was a Strawberry Shortcake Christmas special, I bought it for my two daughters, hoping to set some of the Strawberry Shortcake magic alive in them. Yes, she now wears trendy clothes instead of her cute little strawberry dress and enormous hat, and yes her friends wear cool clothes, too. However, the story was very sweet and Emma really enjoyed it.

After Christmas, the DVD went away with our numerous other Christmas DVDs to be stored until this Christmas. Out it came this year and now Zoe has also grown very fond of the sweet little girl who claims that "giving is berry, berry nice, indeed!" Both the girls have watched the DVD several times this year since it's reappearance from the basement.

But, this morning, before putting the DVD into the player, I noticed something that I'd never noticed before. As I waited for the DVD carousel to spin to an empty slot, I held the Strawberry Shortcake Christmas DVD close to my face. I noticed a familiar scent. I pulled the DVD closer and sniffed. It smelled like strawberries!!! I sniffed again to make sure I wasn't daydreaming, then I sniffed the DVD case. All of them smelled of Strawberry Shortcake! How did I miss this before?

It's an interesting concept. Not sure it is necessary, but interesting nonetheless. Zoe is getting a Strawberry Shortcake DVD for Christmas, I know I'll be checking it for good strawberry smells!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Terror Alert in Michigan

My Dad sent me this one. It's never too early to start preparing for the big game.

Michigan football practice was delayed nearly two hours today after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field. The head coach immediately suspended practice and called the police and federal investigators. After a complete analysis, FBI forensic experts determined that the white substance unknown to players was the GOAL LINE. Practice resumed after special agents decided the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again

GO BUCKS!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Everything Comes As A Family Package

My daughters, age 4 and 2 1/2, are always grouping everything we see into a family unit. It doesn't matter what it is, there is always a mommy and a baby, and depending on the number of items, a daddy and brothers and sisters. It has been this way for as long as I can remember with my girls, though not for my oldest, who happens to be a boy.

I'm not really sure why they group everything this way, although I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that 95% (or more) of their time is spent with us, their family. I'm also sure it has something to do with estrogen, because Ian did not have the desire to group everything into nice little family units.

Nonetheless, it provides for some fun and funny explanations of things we see on our everyday adventures.

For example, at our old house, the neighbor who lived directly behind us had two dogs, a little white fluffy thing and a big golden Lab. Emma and Zoe were both convinced the Lab was the white dog's Mommy. Anytime we saw them outside it was, "Where is the baby?" or, "The baby wants her Mommy."

Last Sunday when we were driving home from dinner at my mother-in-law's, we saw an air-blown inflatable Halloween decoration. It was three jack o'lanterns stacked on top of one another. Emma immediately said it was a daddy, mommy and baby pumpkin. Ditto for the three ghosts coming out of a pumpkin at another house.

But today had to be my favorite example of the Mommy/ Baby grouping. Ian had set up several action figures on his train table and wanted to play "war" with me. (Notice, no families, just teams of heroes, bad guys and one robotic T-Rex wanting to beat the tar out of each other.) As each figure became eliminated from the game, Ian generously told his little sisters they could play with them.

Zoe found two Spidermans, one smaller than the other. She giggled with delight when she saw they were the same character, and turned to me and said, "Mommy and baby." Then she made the little Spiderman cry for his mommy and the mommy Spiderman gave him a hug and made baby Spiderman feel better.

I doubt any Spiderman action figure creator (or brother) ever imagined them being played with like that!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fall Fun

Today was a great day to be outside! Even though the sun wasn't shining, the weather was mild and several of our neighbors were out enjoying the (slightly) warmer temperatures. The kids and I ventured out after Ian got home form school, and while they played I took advantage of the opportunity to rake leaves in the front yard.
I haven't had to rake leaves in six years, so it was kind of fun making two big piles, then letting the kids run and jump in them. Here our neighbor, Anthony, and Ian have fun throwing leaves up over their heads.

Look at me, I'm cute!

Leaves everywhere!

I love Autumn!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Budding Artists

The weather was so beautiful today that the girls and I decided to do some painting outside on the deck. I pulled out all of my acrylic craft paints, some paper plates, a large roll of paper, and paintbrushes. We sat for a glorious hour creating one masterpiece after another. Here are a few pictures from our creative venture for the day.
Here is Emma as she paints a cake.

This is Zoe working hard on her painting.

And one final photograph:An artist satisfied with her work.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Ian has been taking karate for close to two years now, and he is now in a class that is late enough in the evening that I don't have to take the girls with me when I take him to class. So, since his Dad and I can both take him, and then have 45 minutes of alone time, we decided to take turns taking him each week. One parent gets one on one time with Ian in the van on the way to and from karate class, as well as 45 minutes of solitude, while the other parent gets two little girls, nineteen months apart in age, all to him/herself for the evening, and then gets the pleasure of getting them both ready for bed, all by him/herself.

As you can guess, we both look forward to our week of taking Ian to karate.

This week was my first week to take Ian, and I postively jumped at the chance. I have recently rekindled a love of mine that somehow got lost in the busyness of raising three kids and keeping a household together. Since we moved to our new house at the end of July, I've found several moments to look through the adult section of our library and just browse the shelves for some enjoyable reading. I have always loved to read, but I just haven't read novels in a long time. Self help books, magazines, newspapers, children's books, but not novels. So, after checking two books out of the library, not wanting to set too lofty of goals for myself, I slowly reclaimed my love of reading novels. I have now read five novels and have refound the joy in the written word to tantalize, excite, and draw out great anticipation.

Tonight was no exception. I could hardly wait to get Ian into his class so that I could run off to the library and look for a few new books. I also started a book a few days ago that I was sure I could finish today, if I just had the time.

And tonight I had the time. What amazed me, though, as I sat in a comfortable chair upstairs in the library, was how indulgent it all felt to me. Here I was, reading a book I couldn't wait to finish, while my girls were at home with their Dad STILL AWAKE. What surprised me even more was that I felt this way. It felt decadent and extravagant to have 45 minutes to read and look for new books. It also made me wonder how my life has gotten to this point, that 45 minutes of companionship with a good book makes me feel extravagant.

I guess being a mom, a wife, a sister, daughter, volunteer, it all adds up in your life, but also takes from it. While I completely feel you must do for others, that you could not or should not be selfish, sometimes taking a little time for yourself is the best thing you can do.

I did tonight, and it felt great. It also made me realize I'm a very lucky woman.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Insect Close-Ups

We have spotted a very mature praying mantis sitting on our house several different times this summer. After pointing him out to the kids, I often sit and marvel at how interesting this insect is.

As a sophomore in biology class many, many years ago, I had to make an insect collection of forty insects, and we were not allowed to capture praying mantises because they were rare and ate so many other insects. That experience of catching, killing, and mounting insects to pins on a board for display gave me a good understanding of the difference between insects and regular "bugs." And while I still don't like bugs or insects a whole lot, I also find them somewhat fascinating, especially the praying mantis.

So, taking a page from Ree's love of close-ups, I have put a few pictures of our praying mantis I took on Saturday. Enjoy!

Aaargh! For the life of me I can't get my link to work! Go to to see some beautiful close up pictures.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Frightening Sunday Drive

Yesterday, on the way home from a bowling birthday party that Ian attended for one of his classmates, we hit a car. Brendan was driving, I was in the passenger seat, all three kids were sitting in their respective seats in the back of the van when we crashed into a vehicle that pulled in front of us.

We were travelling on a one way street at dusk in a slight drizzle. To the right of us at the intersection was a woman in a brown car stopped at a stop sign. We had no stop sign and so proceeded through the intersection when all of a sudden the driver of the car just pulls out in front of us. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing, thinking we had to be able to stop, knowing that we wouldn't be able to. Brendan slammed on the brakes and we hit her on the driver side right behind her seat. Her car spun around across the intersection and ended up on the curb on the other side of the intersection. Brendan pulled through the intersection and onto the side of the street.

It was so fast. Driving, talking about going to get McDonald's for dinner, seeing the car stopped, seeing it pull out right in front of us, hitting it - hard. I don't really remember the impact itself. I mean, I remember the realization we were going to hit her, the sound of the hit, her car spinning, but I can't recall the feeling of the impact - the crash and bump I should have felt. It wasn't until after I checked on the kids that I noticed a scrape and a bruise on my shin, where my leg hit the dash under the glove compartment.

After Brendan jumped out of the car to check on the other driver, I jumped out and opened the back door to check on the kids. Emma and Zoe were so frightened, whimpering and crying, but safely buckled into their car seats. Ian seemed fine, his glasses were gone from his face, but he was worried about finding his GameBoy - so I knew he wasn't hurt. After calming everyone in my vehicle down, I waited to see what Brendan was doing. I knew the other driver had to have taken a much worse blow than we did, she was in a car, and was the one being hit by a minivan on the driver side, so I was a little worried.

Very quickly two police officers came and checked out the incident, called an ambulance for the woman and had an EMT check Brendan, myself and the kids out. Thank God we had them in car seats - all three of them. A few years back Illinois passed a law that said kids had to ride in booster seats until they were eight years old. It seemed a bit excessive, but we followed the law. Last night, Zoe was in her convertible car seat with five point harness, Emma was in her full back booster seat with seat belt adjuster, and Ian was in his backless booster. And I'm so grateful that they were. The girls appear to have no injuries whatsoever, and Ian has a nasty scrape/ bruise from the seat belt on his neck - but that's it.

While we waited for the police officer to finish the paperwork and let us know that we were not being cited, Emma kept inquiring about the accident. She told me several times that, "Daddy should be more careful." I tried to explain to her that it wasn't Daddy's fault, that the lady should have stayed stopped at the intersection but she didn't. She asked if our car was broken. I told her it was, but that we'd get it fixed. Her response to that was that we should get new pedals that would stop faster so we wouldn't crash again.

I've never been in a car accident before. This was really crazy. As I watched it happen, I just couldn't believe my eyes. Turns out the 21 year old driver of the car doesn't have a driver's license. It just reminds me that you can be the best driver in the world and do nothing wrong, and still be in an accident. Truly frightening.

I hugged my kids a little tighter and a little longer last night. I told each one of them that I loved them. I'm glad we're all safe.

For some photos and Brendan's take on the accident, click here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Buying Shoes

I took Emma to Target today to buy some new shoes for school and the upcoming Fall/ Winter seasons that are fast approaching. I was thinking maybe we'd pick out some cute shoes that would look great with dresses, skirts and pants. Maybe a little something like this:

Or for something a little different, maybe a shoe with a little color, like this:

But Emma was not going to confined by the standard footwear of girls all across America. No. Emma tried on a few different shoes, some pink clogs, a brown Mary Jane, a pink leather Mary Jane, and then she saw it. The PERFECT shoe for her. It was this:

Pink cowboy boots. She loved them the instant she saw them, and putting them on only furthered her resolve. She must have the pink cowboy boots. I asked her if she would wear them with her dresses and to pre-school. She said she would.

So, I walked out of Target with bright pink cowboy boots for my four year old daughter. Definitely not what I had in mind when I went there this morning. But the smile on Emma's face told me I'd made the right choice in letting her get those boots. She wore them to school when we picked up Ian, and she wore them over to her friend's house and all over the neighborhood when they played outside.

Here are a few photos of her with her new boots on. One demonstrates her sassy cowgirl attitude, the other her cute cowgirl side.

I decided that if anyone can pull off pink cowboy boots with style, it's an adorable four year old. Emma fits the bill perfectly!

(And yes, in the bottom picture one foot is facing forward, and the other completely backward. It's a special talent she has!)

Friday, September 01, 2006

I Need To Wear Perfume More Often

I was putting a hairbow in Emma's hair, at her request, before we left to take her to her first day of pre-school. She sniffed the air as I brushed her hair off of her face and she said,"You smell good."

"Thank you," I replied.

"Are you going to church while I'm in school?" Emma asked.

"No," I answered.

"Then why do you smell so good?"

Apparently I only wear perfume to church. At least she notices, though!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Alter Egos

This is Ian and Emma pretending to be their newly created alter egos: Laundry Machine Guy and Squirt Bunny. They ran around fighting imaginary enemies and even took turns as the sidekick. I can't wait to see the saga continue!

Monday, August 28, 2006

New Recipe

Okay. I didn't blog for over a month. (We moved and did not have any access other than dial up, so I refused to blog until we had better service!) Now we have cable modem, and it is sooooo nice to be able to surf the internet again.

And despite my blog's title, I probably have not posted a recipe for over six months. Mainly laziness on my part for that indiscretion.

It was one year ago that I started my blog, and regularly posted recipes then, so I thought I would honor that tradition with a recipe now. I also just had my husband's family over for brunch to celebrate my son's and daughter's birthdays, and I tried six new recipes out on them! They were all good, with this one being a standout from all the rest.

Country Breakfast Casserole

1 (16 oz.) package bulk sausage
1 chopped green onion
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 (2.64 oz.) package country gravy mix
5-6 slices bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons melted butter
paprika, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease an 11 x 7 inch baking dish.

Brown sausage in a large skillet; drain fat.

Combine sausage with green onion and spread over bottom of prepared dish. Top with shredded cheese. Whisk together eggs, water, milk and gravy mix; pour over sausage mixture and spread evenly. Arrange bread squares evenly on top of egg mixture. Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Girl's Just Want To Have Fun!

Emma and her friend Grace had a great time today dressing up as princesses. They ran around inside the house declaring themselves royalty, playing inside the pop up castle from IKEA, and running around outside in the back yard.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Emma's Take

My father-in-law took Emma to the DuPage County Fair last night. It's become a bit of a tradition with him to take my kids, one at a time, to the fair and do all the fun fair things with them. He started with Ian a few years ago, and added Emma to the mix last year. He promised Zoe that he'd take her next year. That would make three nights at the county fair for their Grandpa. That's a nice Grandpa!

Before they went to the fair, my father-in-law took Emma to see his mom, Emma's Great Grandma, who is rehabbing after knee replacement surgery. I prepped Emma for this, but knew she'd do fine. She has always had an affinity for older people, comfortable talking to them and seemingly unaware of any frailties they may have.

True to form, Emma delighted in talking to her Great Grandma and enjoyed joining her, her Great Aunt Kathy, and her Grandpa in the dining room while Great Grandma had dinner.

Today, while heading to the community center to take Ian to gymnastics and the girls to the library, we discussed her visit with Great Grandma. Emma told Ian that Grandma was getting better after getting a new knee. We then discussed what that means. After clearing up a misconception about the knee being sick and what product goes into a new knee (metal and plastic), Emma summed up Great Grandma's situation quite plainly.

"Even though she's got a new knee, she's still old."

So true.

Contractor Nightmare

About a half hour ago I chewed out the contractor we hired to fix a myriad of problems on our house before the new owners move in. Or, as my husband refers to him, our ass-tractor.

OK, I didn't chew him out face to face, or over the phone, but I did leave a nasty message for him on his voicemail.

As anyone who really knows me well, this is pretty shocking. I am very non-confrontational. Two other times in my life have I truly confronted someone. The first was in my first year of teaching at a Catholic school and I got in a nun's face who was causing some problems for my and my partner teacher's first grade classes. The second was a little incident with my sister-in-law. Other than that, I don't take well to being rude or confronting uncomfortable situations. It doesn't always work well, but it's worked for me most of the time.

Well, today I laid out a verbal ass-kicking on this guy's voicemail. My guess is in other people's view, it wasn't quite an ass-kicking. But to me, it's the most heated I've been in a situation like this, ever.

We hired Al a month ago after getting three estimates for what is essentially two days of work. It is now three days before our closing, and not only is half of the work not done, but they left my sliding glass door in the kitchen in non-working condition. It doesn't completely close, and now my house is in worse shape than it was when I hired this guy.

My realtor is trying to schedule a walk through for the buyers of this house, but keeps having to put it off because we can't get the work done.

This is truly been a nightmare for me. I guarantee I will never hire a contractor again. People say the big stores (like Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.) are killing our small hometown workers. Well, I would rather go with Home Depot or Lowe's and know that my work will get done when they say it will. They may not offer huge variety or individualized things, but they come and install what they say they will when they say they will. It's why I call Sears for a lot of work in the home. They do it and do it well.

I don't know where to go from here. Hopefully we'll get what we need to get done, or the buyers will be understanding and take our money in lieu of everything being done. No matter what, I plan on moving out of here on Monday, and hope to leave this nightmare behind on Spicebush Lane.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Happy Birthday Ian!

Seven years ago today I became a mom for the first time. It was on this day in 1999, at 10:01 PM, that I gave birth to the most beautiful and handsome baby boy on the planet. After three hours of pushing, out came my little guy. It was the most amazing experience of my life, bringing a new life into this world.

From that day on, my life changed forever. I now had a crying little creature that relied solely on me and his Dad to take care of his every need. It's been an amazing seven years. He is a funny, interesting and imaginative kid with a smile that lights up a room.

I have learned an incredible amount from Ian, but what I learned most is that I could love another human being so completely that there is absolutely nothing I wouldn't do for him.

Happy Birthday Ian! I love you!

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Melee at the Ballet

Okay, there wasn't really a melee, but it was all I could think of as I snapped this picture of Emma and her classmates during class watch day. Emma was in her last session of Tutu Toddlers, a class just for three year olds. If she decides to continue with ballet, she will be a Budding Ballerina for four and five year olds.

Class watch day is the day when parents, siblings, grandparents, and any other special people can come and watch their kid take ballet class. It is a lot of fun and today my mother-in-law and her husband were able to come and watch Emma dance and move in her pretty pink ballet outfit.

Emma did a great job doing what Miss Ashley, her teacher, told her to do. While most of the kids did the stretches and moves how they wanted, Emma really did the moves just like the teacher. It is what I have come to expect from her, as she is very serious in her classes. Her one break was to stop and wave at either myself, her brother, or Nana. She did this quite often, but still managed to follow directions and do what she was supposed to.

Emma was the tallest kid in the class, again, par for the course with my giant children. She wore a new pink ballet outfit today, which was a size 8-10! It fit a little loose, but fine. She has been wearing a blue outfit, but told me through teary eyes today that she didn't want to be the only blue princess at ballet. I luckily had recently purchased a pink, larger sized outfit on clearance in anticipation of her taking another dance class. I pulled the tags out and presented it to her. She was thrilled and as you can see, (she is second from the left) she was pink just like all the other ballerinas.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Reasons Why I Didn't Grow Up To Be The President Of The United States

Yet another entry of my juvenile writing, from around 1984 as far as I can tell.

The assignment was this: You have the power to change the world! Tell five changes you'd make, and why they're important.

Here are my choices, in exactly the order they appeared on my worksheet.
1. I would make people only wear very little heels if you wear them because I don't like people wearing them.

2. I wouldn't let anyone smoke because it can ruin your lungs and pollute the air and start a fire.

3. In the school classroom I would only want coloring and a little bit of writing and no homework because then school would be fun.

4. I wish people wouldn't throw trash in the water because it kills animals.

5. I wish the poor people had clean water because then they wouldn't die of diseases and there would [be more] people in the world.

I had really big changes in store for the world!

#1 - I can tell you I am only just starting to like heels in the last few years (but I am 5'11", and I was ALWAYS tall, so I think that had something to do with it. I wore Keds tennis shoes on my wedding day.)

#2 - Little did I know that my smoking wish would come true. Here in Chicago there is almost no place a smoker can light up. I have never smoked, although I tried a cigarette when I was in about eighth grade and in Norway for a month on an exchange program.

#4 and #5 - I can only guess that it was Earth Day shortly before this assignment was written, and we were inundated with pictures of filthy rivers and ducks covered in oil.

Here's to making the world a better place!

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm Lucky Santa Even Thinks About Visiting My House

I can only assume this was an assignment from about the sixth grade. I know I would have never insulted such an important person with this kind of writing. Thank goodness Santa is so forgiving and understands I had to write it, it was for a grade! (Please excuse the poor grammar, I am transcribing it exactly as written in my sixth grade cursive.)

My letter to Santa (circa 1984)

Dear Santa Claus,

How are you, my fine fat friend? I know the reason you're fat, because you eat all the food that everybody leaves out. I saw a picture of Mrs. Claus, and boy is she getting fat. Why doesn't she go on a diet? Don't your reindeer get tired of pulling such a heavy person like you? How do you slide down the chimney when your so fat? Do you put grease around your belly? You should join the men's aerobics club so you can wear away some of that fat?

I've always wondered about your cheeks, do you wear make-up like Boy George does? I think you should dye your hair a different color like brown or black because then you won't look so old. Do you get your beard curled by Vidal Sassoon? What do you put in your pipe to keep you so jolly?

You should tell your elves to start planning before hand and not wait till the last month. Kids don't like cheap products rushed through an assembly line. Why do you think kids toys break so easily sometimes? It's because the elves put them together so clumsily. They should take more care in their work.

I hope you aren't offended by this it's just a little bit of constructive criticism. Tell everyone "hi" for me and I'll be waiting for you. Have a Merry Christmas!

Heather Stang

Truly blasphemous, isn't it! Can you imagine the teacher's glee as they thought up this assignment. My kids are lucky Santa is still willing to visit after a letter like that!

I have to note that I lived in England at the time I wrote this, so I am using that as my excuse for the Boy George reference. He was really popular there in the mid 80's.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Son Hits Baseball

Ian played his last T-ball game of the season yesterday on his community center league team and it was great. My mom, sister, and three nieces were all here to witness the final game and cheer Ian and his teammates on to a fun game. (They don't keep score in this league, so no victories or defeats.)

After several games of hitting off the tee (T?), this week Ian had the opportunity to hit the ball from the coach pitching it. On Monday, his team only got up to bat once, and in Ian's one opportunity to hit it, he couldn't connect. The tee was brought in and he hit off the tee.

But yesterday was a different story. He missed the first pitch, but connected solidly with the second pitch and sent the ball soaring through the air to a little past the middle of the infield. I was so excited for him that I found myself shouting, "Run, Ian, run!" along with my mom, sister, nieces and daughters. When he got to first base he had a smile plastered across his face that lit the whole field up. So did I.

Each team only played one inning, and after every kid hit they called the game. The kids then lined up and received a medal for their T-ball season and gathered for one last team picture. I have no picture of this occasion because had I brought my camera I would have lost my "Bad mom of the Month" award. My sister, however, captured the moments on her camera and after I receive them I will share them with the world.

We celebrated with lunch at McDonald's and Ian positively beamed the whole time. When we got home Ian called his Dad to share with him the momentous achievement (getting the medal, not the hit!) and had fun playing with all of his cousins.

It was a great end to Ian's first T-ball season.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Kids Say The Darndest Things - Again

My first baby, Ian, who is almost now seven years old, is growing amazingly fast. Despite his fiery temper, he has one of the most tender hearts I have ever witnessed in a person. Tonight, he shared with me one of the sweetest things I've ever heard him say.

While getting ready for bed, I was laying next to Ian on his bed and he says to me, "Mom, I just made myself cry a little."

"Why did you make yourself cry?" I ask him.

"Because I just thought that even though I'm big on the outside, in my heart I'm still your little boy."

There just aren't enough hugs and kisses a son can receive for saying something like that to his mom. But I'll try.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Another Great Use For Mr. Clean

I am almost embarrassed to write about this, but I can't help the ecstatic feeling I have every time I look at my bathtub and see it's beautiful white interior. It is as clean as the day it was installed, and it hasn't been that way for YEARS.

Even though I have already plugged this product once before on my blog, I have to gush about it one more time. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is truly a wonderful cleaning product.

I have tried many techniques to try to rid our tub of ground in dirt around the drain and other parts of the bottom of the tub. I especially stepped up my cleaning efforts around the time we put our house up for sale. I didn't want prospective buyers to look into our one bathtub and see grime.

But all of my efforts were less than satisfactory. I used scrubber bubbles, applied twice, and with extra tough rubbing and scrubbing, but that only cleared up a little of the problem. I added Soft Scrub with bleach, and let it sit for several minutes. That helped, but I envisioned having to coat my entire tub floor with a bottle of the stuff, and I'm way too cheap to use a whole bottle on one cleaning effort I wasn't sure would work anyway.

Then last week, I had an epiphany. Maybe, just maybe, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser could do the job. So, after cleaning the whole tub with my usual scrubber bubbles regimen, I waited for the tub to be relatively dry, soaked my Magic Eraser, squeezed it out, and gave it a try.

To my delight, with several gentle rubs over the offending areas, my tub was becoming clean, really clean. I was so thrilled I told Brendan as soon as he walked in the door from the train that he "just had to look at the tub because he would be amazed."

I'm thrilled because now when we leave this house to the new buyers, I won't be embarrassed by my bathtub. But I'm even more happy about the prospect that even if the sellers of our new house don't know this great secret, I can fix the tubs if they have ground in dirt in them. Me and Mr. Clean.

Monday, July 10, 2006

David Hasselhoff's Video

You have to see it to believe it.

The End Of Fussiness

No parent should be without this book that I found at the library last month. It is called "Fussbusters On The Go" by Carol Baicker-McKee and is an excellent resource for weary parents, new parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and any caretaker of small children. This book saved my dinner tonight, and has turned my kids hands into magnets with mine when crossing the street. I kid you not!

I actually haven't finished the book, although it is an easy read. (I've actually renewed it once, and I'm hoping to get through it before the next due date!) Each chapter goes over situations where various forms of fussing are common and offers a multitude of common sense or easy ideas to implement when faced with the situation. The best part of the book is it is geared towards the pre-school set, with ideas designed specifically for two, three and four year olds. However, most of the ideas can be adapted for older children easily.

After reading a few chapters I was ready to try one of the suggestions: Turning things kids don't want to do into a game, like Simon Says. So, in the Community Center parking lot, where the kids and I can be seen frequenting regularly these days, I gave it a try. Instead of saying the usual, everyone hold a hand, I said, "Simon says find a hand to hold." Emma's eyes lit up at the words "Simon Says" and quickly gave me one of her hands. Zoe, not wanting to miss out on the fun, grabbed my other hand and for the first time in weeks, I had no arguments with my kids holding my hands in the parking lot.

Hmmm. Maybe this just might work! My kids are traditionally pokey when walking from one end of the community center to the other, or they do the complete opposite, and run the length of the hallway from dance rooms to library. I have been frustrated on more than one occasion by this behavior, and decided to use a little Follow The Leader to see if the kids would keep up with me, and also not run into all the other patrons at the center. I'm pleased to say it worked like a charm, although I had to swallow a little pride and just go for it when I walked down the hall flapping my arms like a chicken.

Then, to my horror, the book was due, and I wasn't even half way through yet. It had given me some of my sanity back, and I decided I needed to read more. Sure enough, tonight the stuff I read last night (after renewal) came into play.

Emma, who will eat peas, green beans, and tortilla encrusted Tilapia, is very difficult to feed at most meals. Brendan and I are always cajoling her to eat three bites of this and two bites of that, and just try the damn shells and cheese, they're good! We have in the past let her eat nothing, then put her to bed with no snacks or anything, thinking she would learn to eat dinner this way. But, after a few nights when she has done this, and each time throwing up in the middle of the night or morning, we are convinced she must eat a minimum amount of food at dinner. So, we've been reduced to counting bites.

But not tonight. Not exactly, anyways. Emma was sitting refusing to eat pan fried chicken breast, canned peaches, and shells in white cheddar sauce. She turned her head to the side, said she didn't like what I made for dinner, and wasn't going to eat it. To make matters worse, she didn't take a nap today, and was literally falling asleep in her chair. She did not appreciate us waking her up, and especially wasn't happy with our requests to eat her dinner. She sat with tears filling her eyes and an incredibly pouty lip sticking out from below her nose.

I could feel the tension at the table rising, and decided to give my Fussbuster's knowledge another try. I looked straight at Emma and asked her if she had a Grouchy Snake inside of her. She looked at me, smiled, and nodded her head. I asked her if she wanted me to take it out. She smiled and nodded her head again. So, I got up from my seat and proceeded to remove a very long, albeit imaginary, Grouchy Snake out of Emma's ear and threw it into the garbage can.

By this time Emma was all out giggling and ready to eat a little of her dinner. We still counted her bites, but there was no struggle and she actually ate one extra bite of chicken.

This is one of those books that can help you immediately. Every parent truly needs this.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


We were introduced to my sister-in-law's and brother-in-law's new puppy, Dempsey, on the Fourth of July at my father-in-law's house. He enchanted my kids, my husband, my husband's aunts and pretty much anyone else in a 100 foot radius of his cuteness.

I have to admit, even I fell in love with the little guy. Not that it's hard for me to do. I pretty much love all cute and fuzzy animals, and sweet little baby animals are hard to resist.

But, and here is where I was surprised, I started actually considering the remote possibility of getting a dog someday. Don't tell Brendan.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July from the McKillip's!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Great Aspirations

While cleaning out the crawl space to ready ourselves for our big move at the end of the month, I found several papers I wrote while in elementary school. While my handwriting is not too bad, the content of the writing is pretty funny. I can't believe some of the things I wrote!

Here is a sample from what appears to be fourth or fifth grade. The assignment was: "Pretend you just became a parent." To help me focus my thoughts I was given these further helpful ideas: What are your hopes and dreams for your child? Think about the parents you know. How will you be the same? How will you be different?
I hope to have two boys and two girls. I want them to be born in Findlay Ohio and I want them to grow up in Findlay Ohio. I want them to visit Disneyland and Disneyworld and lots of other amusement parks when they are little. I want one of my boys to be a dentist and one of them to work at Marathon. I want my two girls to be house wives. The girls are the same like my mother because they are house wives. The boy thats going to be a dentist is different than my Dad because my Dad isn't a dentist. The one that is going to work at Marathon is the same as my Dad because my Dad works at Marathon.
Brendan says I lived in a time warp and am "so Leave It To Beaver." I can only imagine my early 80's teacher's response to my lofty goals. I prefer to call it a Smurfy upbringing with flatulent, beer swilling giants.

Update: I have achieved a few of these goals now that I'm a parent. I am a housewife (preferred title: Stay-at-home nosewiper) with only three kids - one boy and two girls. None were born in Findlay, but one was born in Ohio. We have not visited any major theme parks yet, and my son has plans of being a bounty hunter/ author when he grows up, so no dice there. I guess I'll have to step up the pressure to visit Disney to make most of my childhood dreams come true.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Stang Clan

My father-in-law, Brian, came over today to help Brendan and I clean out our crawl space and basement for the radon reduction people to come on Thursday and put in their expensive expulsion system so that the buyers of our home don't get lung cancer. We have lived here for six years, and in that time increased the size of our family from three to five. Just as the size of our family has grown, so has the amount of stuff we've accumulated.

After a lot of hard work, done mostly by Brendan and his Dad, the basement looked ready for the radon guys to come. Much of the stuff came upstairs to our living and dining room. Here among the many boxes, I found one of my old boxes that my mom kept for me as a kid. In it were numerous pieces of art and several writing "samples" of mine from elementary school and junior high. It also contained a few books, my girl scout sash complete with sewn on patches, a miniature porcelain tea set that I'm going to save for the girls to play with at the new house, some old shirts I wore on various sports teams, and a big bag of clothes I dressed my various baby dolls up in.

It was great fun taking a trip down memory lane, especially seeing some of the pictures I'd drawn or made in art class and remembering them vividly after seeing them. In the box was my T-ball shirt, which I showed to Ian since he is playing his first year of T-ball. As much fun as it was looking at all my old valentines from one year (all but two were homemade, what a change from nowadays!), I knew I had to start getting rid of stuff. I made a pile to go out to the trash, and a much smaller pile of papers I just can't part with yet. (I plan on sharing some of my "gems" here soon - keep checking!)

After dinner I went back to the box and decided to share some of my worse writing attempts with Brendan. I read a horrible haiku about Autumn as well as an ode to the color yellow. Before I read the yellow poem, I introduced it as written by Heather, when she was a Stang (my maiden name).

Ian asked what a "Stang" was. Brendan replied that they were a clan of giants that hail from central Ohio with special skills in flatulance and beer drinking.

A pretty accurate description. Though he left out our true specialties: loud talking and the making of many babies.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Beware E-mails From The In-Laws

I received a forwarded e-mail from my mother-in-law today and was a little surprised. I rarely receive e-mails from her, we usually use the phone for communication, and I don't think any of the e-mails I have received from her have been forwards, they're usually direct messages.

So as I scanned my ten or so new messages and weeded out the spam, I felt a little shocked and almost embarrassed when I saw the subject line of the e-mail: "fwd: Best Positions In Bed." That's not usually a subject line you want to see in an e-mail from your mother-in-law!

Knowing my MIL, I assumed it couldn't be what it sounded like and opened the e-mail. To my great relief, it was a bunch of really cute pictures of dogs and cats sleeping in funny positions.

My world is right again.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Kids Say the Darndest Things

We've had several funny conversations with our kids this past week. Here are two that stand out and still make us giggle.

At dinner one night, Zoe was causing trouble with crying and whining, but not giving us any reason as to why she was behaving ths way. Brendan told her if she didn't stop, she'd go to her room. Well, Brendan carried Zoe upstairs and she stayed there for a few minutes. When enough time elapsed that it was time to get her out, I asked Brendan if he wanted to get her, or if I should go get her. He said it didn't matter. I responded that maybe he should go get her because I didn't want him to look like the bad guy, since he was the one who put her there in the first place.

Emma's response to hearing this: "Daddy doesn't look like a bad guy."

Yesterday I took the kids to Blackberry Farm. It is a historical park with activities for kids, like a train ride, carousel ride, pony rides, and pioneer cabins. While waiting in line for the pony rides, Ian read every sign posted. All of a sudden he turned to me and asked, "Mom, am I over 70 libs?"

I didn't understand what he was talking about until I saw the large sign posted at the entrance to the ride, "No riders over 70 lbs."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ridiculous Conversations That I Have With My Kids

We were driving to Blackberry Farm today when I mentioned to Ian that it would be the Fourth of July in about two weeks. He loves Independence Day because it means a big parade downtown and a fun patriotic dessert that I whip up. Ian's birthday also happens to be in July and he posed the question, "What if I had been born on the Fourth of July?" I'm sure the thought of going to a parade every year on his birthday thrilled him tremendously.

We then talked about how it might be fun sometimes, but concluded that we would rather have our birthdays on non-major holidays. I then said, "If you were born on the Fourth of July, you'd have been a red, white and blue baby." No response from any of the kids in the van for at least thirty seconds. So I repeat what I said about a red, white and blue baby. Again, no response for about thirty seconds, although Emma seems to be turning her head around and straining to see something out of her window. "Where?" Emma asks.

"No, there is no red, white and blue baby. I said, 'If Ian had been born on the fourth of July, HE would have been a red white and blue baby,'" I tell Emma.

Silence. Then Ian says, "Who is?"

"Never mind," I answer.

Funny Signs

Now that Ian is out of school and I have all three kids home all day everyday for the summer, we've been driving around Aurora a lot more either going to the pool, a class, or some other fun location. In doing all this driving to parts of the city we don't normally frequent, I have seen a few funny (or at least odd) signs.

The first sign was out in front of a large older house. The house looked well-maintained from the outside, and seemed to have some of that charm that houses built before the 1960's often have. The sign in the yard read "For Sale Soon." Not "For Sale," but "For Sale Soon." Why the "soon"? Are they hoping prospective home buyers will wait until they see the actual for sale sign and then make a special appointment to see the house? Will it make buyers who are already looking think, wait, I might like this house even though I've never seen the inside and I should wait until it goes on the market in case it is the house for me? I just don't understand the necessity of a sign like that.

The second sign I saw on my way to Blackberry Farm today. I was driving down Galena Boulevard where there are several offices for lawyers, realtors, and other small businesses. We passed a sign for Liam Dixon, Attorney At Law. Underneath it in very large letters and numbers was a phone number, presumably for anyone needing to contact Liam Dixon, Esq. As the daughter-in-law of a judge and sister-in-law of a lawyer, I need to tread lightly here, but I think they would agree with me that it is lawyers like this that give the rest of them a bad name. His phone number was "1-800-NOT GUILTY." Seriously! It was only a matter of time before some lawyer snatched that number up. Fortunately for me, it is a lawyer that works in my hometown.

Friday, June 16, 2006

More Crucifixion Fixation

My almost seven year old son draws pictures of the crucifixion and discusses breaking bread over dinner. My youngest daughter, Zoe, who is only two, has noticed the crucifix in church and the one right outside her bedroom door. Each night before she goes to bed, Zoe gives Brendan a hug and a kiss in the hallway outside her room before I take her into her room to sing goodnight songs and lay her down in the crib. Lately Zoe's noticed Jesus' physical appearance on the cross in the hallway and will imitate it by putting out her arms, closing her eyes, and making her face as serious as she can. Then she points at the cross and says "Nigh nigh Eee" (Night, Night Jesus.)

As cute as that is, it gets even better. She then lowers her voice and says, "Nigh nigh" back to herself, from Jesus. She's a great sleeper, and wouldn't you be too if Jesus personally said good night to you every night?

The Catholic Education Is Paying Off - Part 2

First my son is drawing crucifixion pictures on the driveway. Tonight eating dinner we further discovered his love of learning about Jesus and His life.

I made strawberry soup, Chicken Kiev, broccoli, and sour cream biscuits for dinner. Ian devoured the soup, enjoyed his chicken, passed on the broccoli, and eyed the sour cream biscuits suspiciously. As I usually make muffins or rolls with a meal for a bread component, my kids aren't used to the unusal shape of a drop biscuit with it's browned peaks and funny lumpy shape. After watching his Dad and I, and even his little sister eat one, he decided to give one of the biscuits a try. He picked one up and noticed that it was quite large. Handing it to me, Ian asked me "Can you break this for me?" As I picked up my knife to cut it in the middle, he said, "Break it like Jesus broke bread. Jesus didn't have a knife."

Tuition dollars at work!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Trip To The Museum

I never mentioned that we sold our house last week! At least, it's under contract. The buyers had their home inspection today of our home, which meant we (the kids and I) had to get out of the house. Since the inspection began at 9:00, I chose the DuPage Children's Museum as our destination because the kids love it, we have a membership that we paid for so we might as well use it, and it opens at 9:00.

We arrived and Ian and Zoe immediately headed for the mirrored rooms while Emma ran off to the wall of straws that you push your hand into and it leaves the impression of your hand. After moving on they all discovered the room with the multicolored lights and twirling disco ball. After running into the room, they quickly realized that by standing on a certain line in the room, they could make music play. This caused a flurry of jumping and dancing on and off the line to make the music play.

What I love about the Children's Museum is that it is always changing. The same beloved exhibits are always there, but they often add new twists to the exhibits, or new exhibits entirely. Today we found a color wall that allowed you to change the colors and patterns on the wall by turning various knobs. Ian managed to make stripes, then spots, then an all white screen. Really neat!

There is a shadow room that captures your shadow for about 30 seconds for you to look at that we had a lot of fun in by raising our arms or our legs before the flash went off. At one point all four of us had our arms and legs spread, and after the flash exploded, I had a really amazing feeling about how neat it was to be experiencing this with my kids, all together.

On the second floor of the museum is an everchanging special exhibit. At one time it was model trains, which I took Ian to during the height of his train mania and we spent at least an hour up there watching the trains. Today it was an exhibit about Japan and Japanese animation. There was a whole part about Hayao Miyazaki and his films. The girls took off their shoes and pretended to have tea in a Japanese room while Ian and I found a stop action animation area where we made our own short movies. We both agreed on our way home that making our own little movies wasa our favorite part of the museum.

I think my favorite experience of the day, though, was with Zoe. She LOVES puzzles right now and I found a table that had some rubber puzzles on top. I sat down with her to help her with the puzzles and as she brought up a piece of the puzzle for some help, I would say, "Hmmmmm, where does this go?" A few pieces later and Zoe was saying, "Hmmmmmm" every time she looked for where the piece of the puzzle went. I hadn't even realized I was doing it until I heard Zoe do it. I tried to find as many puzzles on that table to do with her just so I could hear her say, "Hmmmmmmm" over and over again.

It was a great morning out, now hopefully the inspection news will also be good.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Funny Emma Quote of the Day

While waiting for Ian to receive his blue belt in karate, we watched as other students received their various colored belts as they advanced rank. One of the boy's names was Ariel, and when Emma heard Sensie Jackie call out his name her ears immediately perked up. Excitedly, she leaned over to me and said, "That's just like the Little Mermaid, except he's black, and he's a boy."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Survival Of The Fittest

Emma, my almost four year old, has developed a curious phobia of going upstairs alone. I would understand if it was just at night or when it is dark, but she is afraid first thing in the morning, when the sun is shining bright and the birds are chirping through the open windows. Almost every morning she requests me to fetch something for her, a toy, a book, her clothes. I usually tell her to get it herself, after which she cajoles and whines and asks me to pleeeeease go up and get whatever item is of such dire importance that it needs to be gotten right now. I usually stand firm, which leads to Emma trying to figure out a way to get her prize possession of the moment without actually going up the stairs by herself.

This morning was no exception. Emma just had to have her Fancy Cat, her stuffed cat that we recently made at Build-A-Bear Workshop courtesy of Christmas giftcards from her Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Patrick. When I told her no, that she could get it, she decided that if Zoe, her two year old sister would accompany her, she could get Fancy Cat herself. So, after several times of asking Zoe to go upstairs with her, Emma retreived Fancy Cat with little sister in tow. I'm not really sure what protection Zoe would bring Emma, I think she'd probably just push Zoe at whatever monster was lurking upstairs and hope that by the time it was finished eating her baby sister, she'd be safe back downstairs with her mom and brother.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Pool Cuties!

These are pictures I took of my kids today playing in the "pool" in our backyard. They had a great time simply splashing the water around, sliding down the little built in slide and eating Superman popsicles in the backyard. Zoe loves the water in a pool and happily gets wet from head to toe. Emma spent much of her time pretending to be a mermaid by posing with her legs together to one side and leaning her head to the other side. I think she has been strongly influenced by the Barbie Mermaidia book I bought her at the book fair at Ian's school. Ian tried to make the biggest waves he could by sliding down the little slide with his knees together. He also enjoyed lounging in a green innertube. I just enjoyed the warm weather, sipped on an iced coffee and snapped loads of pictures!

Saturday, May 27, 2006


My 3 1/2 year old daughter tells me every day that she loves me and thinks I am sooooo pretty. It is very sweet and usually accompanied by a hug.

Today while we were taking a bike ride, me pedalling and pulling both girls in the trailer behind me, she made sure I wasn't getting a big head from all of her usual compliments. She said, "Mom, that's a big butt for that little seat."

Ahhh. To be three and able to say whatever you want. Really adorable.

Listen Up Realtors!

I had two scheduled showings this week, and both times the realtors didn't show up. One of those times my realtor called the other realtor to ask him why. He got some cock and bull story from the guy.

This is at least the fourth time we've had scheduled showings and the realtor has not come. What is up with that? For the realtor and his client, it is simply a showing they never show up for. For me, I have to get my house in order (which means telling my kids not to get anything out and eat over the table and DO NOT make any messes), get my kids and sometimes my husband out the door and go somewhere for the hour time frame the realtor gives me. Then, if it happens to be at the dinner hour, I often have to buy my kids and myself some food because by the time I get home and make dinner it will be so late my kids won't want to eat. I know I don't have to spend money when I'm out. We could just go to a park or some other free entertainement place. But when I don't have time to properly load up the diaper bag with snacks and drinks, and the time of the showing is a meal time, I'm obligated to fill up my children's stomachs, or hear their endless groaning and moaning about how they will just die of they don't get something to eat soon.

I think only one realtor has actually called to cancel, and that after the time frame that they were supposed to be here, so we were gone and didn't get the message until we came home. It's one thing if you come for a showing and don't like my house, that's part of the game. But to disrupt my life without any thought to the effect it has on me or my kids is rude. I appreciate the fact that my realtor wouldn't treat other people that way. A courtesy call to let me know that you cancelled should always accompany a no show. It's just rude and I'm frankly getting quite tired of it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Eye Doctor

Yesterday Ian had a full work up by his opthalmologist, Dr. Kekish. He's been seeing her since he was 18 months old. After intense patching failed to clear up a lazy left eye, he had surgery to correct the problem at age three. He is now almost seven and the surgery has been an unequivocal success. We go to see the doctor twice a year, once for the full eye exam, and once to make sure things are progressing (or not regressing) as they should be.

Yesterday was the full exam with eye drops for dilation and a prescription check. At the beginning of the appointment, a new nurse or doctor's aide brought us into the office. It was a man named Bobby and I don't think he is used to dealing with verbose six year old boys. Ever since the office brought in a pediatric opthalmologist, Dr. Kekish's staff doesn't see many children. Ian is her only remaining pediatric patient and he has been cooed over by the lady nurses for years. Bobby didn't seem completely comfortable talking to a little boy who says whatever he thinks. Bobby proceeded to do a standard eye check with the alphabet letters and I was horrified to see that Ian could only read two rows of letters with his glasses on using only his left eye. After a recent growth spurt, Dr. Kekish thinks his eyes have changed and his prescription is actually getting weaker. This is the first time in the five years we have been seeing her that the prescription has gotten weaker. It has always been stronger, but she said it is very common for the vision of farsighted children to improve, with some actually outgrowing their need for glasses. She said he has probably stopped using his left eye for reading because the prescription was too strong for his eyes now. His prescription actually dropped by a number of 1.75 - that's huge! I was amazed, because in the van on the way to the doctor's office, we were saying our morning prayers when Ian prayed that his eyes would get better and he wouldn't need his glasses anymore. I thought it was cute and quaint, but naive. I'm glad my adult cynicism was proven wrong.

Some of the funny things that happened at the office were Ian burping and excusing himself, but then describing what the burp tasted and smelled like. After the doctor left I explained that he shoudln't talk about the taste or smell of a burp, at least not in front of people who are responsible for his medical care. Emma let out a sneeze and covered her mouth and nose completely. She was very proud of herself and loudly whispered to me, "I didn't sneeze on her [the doctor]. When I was little I sneezed all over people, but I'm a big girl now and I don't sneeze on people." Then on the way out to the van, Emma asked Ian to hold her hand because I was holding Zoe and a stuffed zebra that had accompanied us to the doctor's office. Ian agreed, but told her they had to act like "cool kids." Then they both proceeded to slink through the parking lot, bobbing their head to one side. I couldn't help but think to myself that a "cool" kid probably wouldn't hold his sister's hand to walk through the parking lot. I'm glad my cool kid did.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Catholic Education Is Paying Off

Ian joined his sisters today in drawing chalk pictures on our driveway. Zoe made squiggles and masses of lines, Emma made round little people and a rainbow. As you can see from Ian's drawing, he made Jesus on the cross.

Another Unprepared Showing

It never fails! I clean and clean and clean, leave almost late to go places, just on the off chance that we might have a new showing. Never happens. Then I let down my guard, and BAM! A showing. We just had a showing a half hour ago and they gave us the requisite one hour notice and everything. Unfortunately, being that it is a nice day, I've been outside with the kids since getting Ian from school. I came in and checked the messages when we got home at 3:05. There was one that mentioned a showing tomorrow. I came in at about 3:40 to get some ice cream for the kids, checked the answering machine and saw nothing new. I came in at 4:10 to get Ian on the computer, and never checked the machine. Had I checked it, I would have seen that there was one new message, left at 3:58. They arrived promptly at 5:00 and rang the doorbell. I heard it through the open door while I was playing on the deck with Emma and Zoe. I went through the house and there they were, a realtor and his clients for a showing! The house was actually in pretty good shape. With the kids playing outside all afternoon, there wasn't a lot to mess up. I am thankful I made the girls clean up the toys outside in front before going to play in the backyard. There were some papers on the counter and a few dishes in the sink (again, the one day I get a little lazy and don't unload the dishwasher in the morning but leave it until later is the day we have a showing that I don't know about!). Hopefully they liked the house, will schedule a second showing, and I can have the house in the condition I like it to be in when someone comes through the house. We'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stealing Is Bad

I was violated today, and it really pisses me off. It was definitely nothing scary or dangerous, but someone stole a ribbon magnet off of my van, at the public library, no less! What irks me is that I would NEVER take something off of another person's car, even if their bumper sticker or political magnet was completely stupid and offensive, I wouldn't even think to touch it. I might think to myself that the person is a bit of an idiot to think the way they do, but I wouldn't touch their stuff. Why? Because it's rude and illegal. If a person has differing opinions than my own and wants to share them with the world, then go for it. Who am I to stop you? But to then take my pro-life magnet off of my van, purely because you don't agree with it is just wrong. The problem with freedom of expression is that some people only want you to express yourself if you feel the same way they do about a topic. If you don't agree with them, then it's just fine to be rude, condescending, and to steal. I respect life, born and unborn. That's why I wouldn't touch anyone's pro-abortion materials on their cars, because those people deserve respect, too, even if they are misguided. Maybe that's the problem, no respect for life, no respect for other people. Period.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Why You Should Not Teach Your Kids The Correct Name For Their Body Parts

Because if you do, you will hear the words "penis" and "vagina" way more than you ever bargained for.

You might think that having a six, three and two year old wouldn't lend itself to the necessity of saying penis and vagina over and over again. But my kids, especially the six and three year old seem to find a reason to say it almost every day, sometimes several times a day. A big starter for using these words is the fact that we only have 1 1/2 bathrooms in our house. While Ian is taking his bath, Emma will run in and use the bathroom. While Emma is washing her hands, Ian will run in to go. While I'm using the bathroom, all three kids will join me and discuss some scholarly topic like which show is better, the original Scooby Doo or the What's New Scooby Doo series. Consequently, obvious differences in anatomy and peeing methods is up for discussion on a regular basis.

It was the Ian brushing his teeth, Emma use the toilet scenario that sparked the flow of body part words I was subjected to this morning. I overheard Ian saying to Emma, "You have a vagina, Zoe has a vagina, Mom has a vagina, Keara has a vagina, Grace has a vagina." It was at this point that I told him to quit talking about people's body parts.

I think I have heard the words penis and vagina enough times that I could go the rest of my life without hearing them again. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Popsicle Needs New Job Position

My kids LOVE popsicles. They eat them year round. No day is too cold for a posicle in my house. So, for at least three years I've been reading the jokes off the popsicle sticks and have come to the conclusion the Popsicle brand company needs to hire a joke writer. There are still jokes about floppy disks and other outdated items that I always have to explain to my 6 1/2 year old son in order for him to understand the joke. Although some of the jokes are timeless (my personal favorite: What did the boy melon say to the girl melon? We're too young. We cantaloupe.), many are just not current enough to appeal to the kids who can read them.

Today's example of outdated joke material:

Ian: Mom, listen to my joke. What has spots and rides on a fire truck?

Mom: A fire dog?

Ian: No. A fireman with measles. What are measles?

This is where I had to explain what measles are, what a person looks like when they get it, and because of immunizations, why Ian has never seen or heard of it. Maybe the Popsicle company could have a contest for new jokes, then they wouldn't have to hire anyone for the job, and all kids eating posicles could understand the jokes they are reading.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

I have had a super Mother's Day today. My kids (and husband) let me sleep in until 8:30, then brought me breakfast in bed, which consisted of glazed donut holes, powdered mini donuts, frosted mini wheats cereal, and orange juice. The girls gave me some homemade paper flowers that we made together to give to their Nana for Mother's Day. Ian gave me a beautiful pink painted stone that said "I" a heart shape and "U" for I love you that I can put in my flower garden. He also made me a great card with green paper, my favorite color! The kids picked me out (with a little help from Dad) a converter for my iPod so that I can play it in the van and a tiered spice rack for my very disorganized cupboard.

After enjoying my breakfast, Ian organized the "Mom Olympics" for me. The first activity was for each person to say the nicest thing they could about me. Ian told me he loved me very, very, very, very, very, very much. Emma went on about how beautiful, pretty and nice I was. Zoe just ran around giggling, which is a pretty nice thing, too. Then Ian sent everyone downstairs to start the next event. I got to pick out whatever music I wanted, and then I got to dance with each person. I started with Zoe, moved onto Brendan, then Emma, and finished with Ian. We finished the Olympics with a whole family dance where we all danced as energetically as possible to Riverdance. I enjoyed the Mom Olympics so much I think they might just have to become a yearly tradition.

After our morning frivolities, Kevin, my brother-in-law, arrived first to help us celebrate Mother's Day with my mother-in-law. My sister-in-law, Elizabeth, and her husband Patrick arrived next. Finally, Patti (my mother-in-law and only other Mom at our house today) and her husband John came. Brendan grilled the bratwursts, hamburgers, and hot dogs masterfully, while I handled the side dishes inside the house. I made four new recipes for our lunch today, and all of them were good. That's an accomplishment in itself! My favorite recipe was probably the Tres Leches Cake my friend sent me. It is a Guatemalan celebration cake that is cold and moist, so it's quite different from our standard cake fare. I'll put the recipe up on the site when I get a chance. It's delicious!

After a fun and tasty lunch with the family, I called my mom to wish her a happy mother's day, too. It was a great mother's day. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Perfect Gift For Emma

I was searching for My Little Pony DVD's today, trying to see what's out there as Emma has requested one for her birthday. I wasn't sure what was out there, but knew that some new DVDs have been coming out and came across this: My Little Pony: The Complete First Season. It's from the 1980's series, but I think Emma would absolutely love it. Then maybe we could stop watching Scooby Doo for a little while.

That's Just Sneaky

I all of a sudden realized that before the neighbor's house went up, we had a preview showing of our house with a realtor. I thought she perhaps had a client in mind, but wanted to check it out herself. I didn't think much of it until the last couple of days. I realized she never returned with a client and initially thought that maybe it just wasn't the right house for her clients. Then it occurred to me today, it wasn't the right house for her clients because she is the realtor selling the house across the street from us, the one that is the exact same model as ours with the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms. We have kept all of the realtor cards from the showings and sure enough, her name matches the one in the yard across the street. Even if it is standard practice of realtors, (and I don't know whether it is or not), I feel like it was rude and sneaky of her to go through our home, then price their's. I'm not happy, again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Bah! We're Number 2!

Again my realtor informed me yesterday that we are someone's "second choice" for buying a house. Unfortunately, most people only need one house and being number two on the list gets us diddly. These were the people who visited the house yesterday when it was not at it's showing finest. So, I guess I should be happy that we are at least number two on their list, half eaten pop-tart on the table and all. This is the fourth time in the six weeks we've had our house listed that we have come up in second place. The real kicker with this particular one is that the other house the buyers like is THE ONE ACROSS THE STREET! They just put up there house last week, listed it for $5000 more than us, and the clients like it better!!! It is the exact same model as ours, with the same number of bathrooms and bedrooms, although they have a fenced yard and a vaulted ceiling in the family room. I am very unhappy, to say the least. Hopefully someone will come along soon and see that we have a great house and will pay us for it accordingly.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Only Three Days Left

There are only three days left to vote for the new Monopoly properties. Hasbro, the maker of the classic Monopoly game, is coming out with a new, updated version. They are giving the public a chance to vote on one of three properties in 22 different cities. The city with the most votes will win the coveted blue property spot on the board traditionally occupied by Boardwalk. You can vote once each day. The voting began April 24, but I just found out about it yesterday. You can vote until May 12. So go ahead, click here and give your favorite city or location in that city a boost. I am pulling for Chicago or Cleveland to get Boardwalk. Go midwest!

Selling A House Sucks - Part 2

Last night I found out that one of the houses Brendan and I liked went into contract/ contingency phase over the weekend. While I'm happy for the seller, a friend of mine, I'm somewhat bummed for us. It was a great house. Not the perfect house, but a great house nonetheless. The people who came and saw our house for a second showing were supposedly going to get together with their realtor to make an offer to us. No offer yet. And after two weeks with basically no new showings, I became a little complacent about keeping the house in perfect showing condition. My house is clean - I vacuumed the entire upstairs and stairway and cleaned the full bathroom yesterday, and vacuumed the entire downstairs this morning. I put away all the breakfast dishes and cereal boxes and picked up the toys in the basement, made Ian's and Emma's beds, and put away the clothes that were sitting on my dresser. But, to have the house completely spotless before going anywhere adds on 20 - 30 minutes of time. And all I wanted to do this morning was get to Dominick's and get my grocery shopping done. We have only ever had one other showing before noon, and no new ones for so long, I figured what were the odds that someone would come and see the house while I was out, especially because we are supposed to have one hour notice before a showing.

Well, as I pulled up to my house at 11:15, there was a realtor and his clients, getting the key out of the supra box and getting ready to go in the house. I parked in front of my neighbor's driveway, told Emma and Zoe to stay put, and jumped out to talk to the realtor. I apologized that the house was not in the condition I would like it to be, but told them they were welcome to see it. I jumped back in the van, and drove around for ten or fifteen minutes with a vanload full of milk and bratwursts, among other things, that needed to be refrigerated soon. The entire time I racked my brain trying to remember what I left sitting out, and finally deciding not to worry about it anymore because I couldn't do anything about it. I drove home to see the realtor pulling away in his vehicle, and the clients still sitting in their car in front of my house. I pulled into the garage and immediately began unloading groceries as Emma and Zoe climbed around in the van. I was mortified to see the half eaten pop-tart left on the table, the pile of five or six dirty rags on top of the dryer, the clothes drying rack, complete with drying clothes, left up in the living room, and the roll of toilet paper left on the sink of the upstairs bathroom. I usually leave the house looking great, I keep feeling like I missed an opportunity to sell the house. I hope the clients can look past the minor messes and see what a great house it is. I know I'll keep the house neater before I go places, at least for another week or so.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Parental Bliss

My kids drive me as nuts as anyone else's kids. I'm the first to admit it. I love my kids dearly, but there are times when I could chuck them out the window (not really, of course!). Last night was not one of those nights. Last night was one of those nights when the stars align just perfectly and your experience with your kids turns into one that you dreamed and imagined when you became pregnant with your firstborn and didn't know how much they would turn your life upside down and inside out.

Last night, at 9:21 PM, my two year old, Zoe, cried out from her crib through the monitor down into the family room where I was watching a Food Network Challenge with Brendan. I got up to go get her, as is my usual routine if her crying doesn't stop on its own in a few minutes. Zoe is an excellent sleeper, and rarely cries out in the night, so on the occasions that she does, I go into her room, pick her up out of her crib if she wants me to, wrap a blanket around her and sit in the rocking chair in her room and rock with her. As I was rocking her last night, all snuggled close to me, she peaked up at me, to see what I was doing. I looked down at her and smiled. Zoe then smiled at me, with thumb still in mouth. I about melted into a puddle on the floor. Then I leaned over and kissed her forehead and told her, "I love you." She whispered some incoherent response and stroked my face with her soft baby hand. I then kissed her hand, whereupon she stretched out her fingers for me to kiss each one. After kissing each finger on that hand, she outstretched the fingers on her other hand, still keeping her thumb in her mouth. I of course kissed each tiny finger until she closed her hand back into a fist. I sat there in absolute awe at the perfectness of the moment when Zoe again reached her little hand, with skin softer than anything I've ever felt in my life, and rubbed my arm. She has a beautiful gentleness and sweetness that I want to soak up every chance I get. As she is probably my last, I truly cherish each time I rock her close to me, knowing I won't be able to do it forever, hoping I remember how wonderful and peaceful it feels.

I glance at the clock, see that I've been in her room five minutes, and tell her it is time to go night night. Zoe says, "Nigh, Nigh" back to me, lays down in her crib and sleeps until morning.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Sharing Secrets

Here are my two girls having fun yesterday.