Thursday, February 28, 2013

Snowed In

By now you've all heard of the massive snow storm that came through the midwest yesterday.  Snow is not a huge deal in Wisconsin.  We are used to it.  However, I can not remember the last time we got this much snow in one day.  The was some massive snow.  And the problem began when the meteorologists only predicted between 3 and 5 inches.  As Tuesday night wore on I could tell we had already received at least 6 inches.  Before I went to bed that night I took this picture:
The next morning school was cancelled and we all did the happy dance.  Except for Todd.  He was too busy trying to plow us, and the rest of our neighbors, out.  We had already gotten about 14 inches and the snow continued to fall.  Trees were so laden with snow that branches were breaking left and right.  I freed as many branches as I could to save my trees but others I just couldn't get to.
Todd literally spent all day long on his snowblower.  When he was done with our driveway he moved on to three of our neighbors as well.  It was slow going because the snow was extremely heavy and the snowplows hadn't even gotten to our street yet so Todd and to plow his way through the street to get to the neighbors' drives. Not to mention that the snow had drifted so much in some spots that the snow was close to 3 feet deep. When Todd was done with our street he loaded up the snowblower and went over to his mom's house to do her drive as well.  When he came back around 3 o'clock the plows had finally come through.  So, he jumped back on his blower and plowed out the entrances of all the driveways again.  He didn't stop plowing until dinner time.
Of course the kidlets were thrilled.  They spent much of their day making tunnels and forts.
Gracie actually spent a fair amount of time crying in the snow because it was up to her armpits and she could barely move through the snow.  She pretty much sat in the same spot until her brothers finally made a little path for her from the tunnel to the playset.
The boys were so proud of their tunnel.
And Grace was pretty happy with their work too.
Unfortunately, the dog also loved the tunnel and jumped right on top of it.  The kids were not pleased.  Still, the playset is super fun in the snow.
It was a long, snowy day.  When all was said and done we ended up with 18 inches of snow (and that is where it wasn't drifting).  And, the weathermen are predicting another 3 inches or so today.  Oh boy!

I guess the decision to buy the riding lawnmower/snowblower last year turned out to be a good one.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wrapping It Up

This past weekend was a busy one, indeed.  What with the welcoming of the new family member, Todd out of town overnight Friday and all day Saturday, a snowstorm, the chess tournament, making cake, changing my hair color yet again (I'm going much lighter this time), the boy's birthday, church, teeth were falling out of kids left and right, grandmas came over for cake.  It was craziness.  And exciting!

One of the highlights of the weekend was Joey's and Tommy's first ever chess tournament.  The boys found out a few months ago that their school has a chess club and immediately began begging to join.  I quickly taught myself how to play chess and then introduced them to the game slowly.  On Saturday they decided to test out what they know.  

Joey had been apprehensive because chess is hard.  And he doesn't like losing.  Put those two things together and the kid wasn't sure he wanted to be in chess club anymore.  Still, he had already signed up so I told him he needed to follow through with the tournament anyway.  I'm so glad he did.  Joey ended up winning 4 out of his 6 matches and finished in the top 10 in his division (out of over 40 kids).  He was so proud of himself.  And of course, I was proud of him too.  I was most impressed with the grace in which he handled his losses and how he kept on trying.  It was awesome.  Our school took home 1st place in his division.

Tommy did wonderfully as well.  He won 3 matches, had 1 draw, and 2 losses.  He came in 12th out of 38 kids in his division.  He was thrilled and I was very happy for him and proud of him too.  Our school took home 3rd place in his division and his teacher allowed him to have the trophy for the weekend. Eureka!

It was a long day.  We started at 8:30 and got home from the tournament around 4.  I think they were mentally drained by that point.  I also have to give special props to Ben (who played chess all day while he waited during his brother's matches) and Grace for being such patient, well behaved little monkeys through it all.  I was a proud mama all around that day. 

Sunday was Joey's birthday, as you all know.  We usually try to let the kids pick a special activity for their birthdays (Ben picked sledding and Tommy is contemplating all his options for his birthday next month) and Joey chose to go bowling.  

I have not been bowling in many, many years.  I have never been a good bowler.  Down right bad, actually, but I was game to give it another try.  Who doesn't love bowling?  

After we all found the right size shoes and bowling balls we got to work.  Surprise of all surprises, I bowled the best game of my life and ended up with a 128.  How I managed that I will never know. The next game I got a 74 (a more normal score for me) and all of the boys ended up beating me. Oops. 

Joey won the first game for the kids and Ben won the second game.  Everyone was a good sport and had a lot of fun.
Todd has the perfect form, doesn't he?  Good bowling form, too.  hehe!  Of course Todd whooped us all, but he also pulled a muscle in his back.  And my arms were sore the next day.  We're getting old.  Bah.

After bowling the grandmas came over for some cake, presents, and baby Joey videos.  Joey got his coveted B29 Superfortress model airplane and at the end of the day he said this was his best birthday ever!  Then he remembered his big swimming birthday party at the indoor water park last year and said it was a tie.  Still, I'll take it!  Yay!

It was a great weekend all around.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Turn On A Dime

Ten years ago my life changed in an instant.  For the better.  It all started when I became your mama. 

You made motherhood seem so effortless and glorious.  You were the easiest, most pleasant baby boy on earth.  I commented so many times on how easy this mothering thing was and how I didn't understand why people thought it was hard.  You were that easy.  You were so fabulous that you tricked us into immediately having more kids.

Being your mother has always been an absolute pleasure.  You are:

Level headed
A clown
A perfectionist

You are everyone's friend.  Everyone wants to be around you.  You are not swayed to follow what is popular or cool.  You like what you like whether people agree with you or not.  You are so sure of yourself that others become convinced that whatever it is you like (penguins, airplanes, goofy faces) is cool. You are a self professed (and teacher admitted) class clown, but you would never tease or make fun of anyone else.  You have a good heart and are concerned for others.  You want to make people happy and make them laugh, but never at the expense of someone else.  You truly are an original.

I wish you weren't so hard on yourself.  You expect to be fabulous at everything right away (I can't imagine who you got this from...hmm...thinking, thinking). When you are not immediately perfect you don't even want to keep trying.  You do not like to fail.  But here is a little secret (and I've told you many times before), sometimes we learn and grow the most from failure.  Failure can be a gift, and not something to fear.  It is far worse to not even try than to try your best and fail.  When you release your fear of failure you can and will accomplish anything you want.  And I can't wait to see you do it.  I know great things are waiting for you in this life.  You have so much to offer.
In honor of Joe's 10th birthday I conducted a little interview:

Me:  Hey, Joe.  How is your day going so far?
Joey: Uh, it's going great!

Me: Do you feel any older?
Joey: Umm... no I don't feel any older.  No.

Me: What's your favorite thing about your birthday?
Joey: Everything!  I gotta say everything.

Me: What do you want to be when you are bigger?
Joey: Well I kinda wanna be a air force combat flier.  Or an Olympic swimmer.

Me: What is your favorite color?
Joey: Red

Me: What is your favorite class in school?
Joey: Favorite class.  That is a hard one.  I'm gonna have to say music because we get to play recorders now.

Me: What is your favorite game to play?
Joey: Angry Birds Star Wars or Jet Pack Joy Ride, it's on Cassie's (his cousin) iPad.

Me:  If you could be any animal what would you be?
Joey: Chinstrap penguin- they can swim fast.

Me: What is your favorite sport?
Joey: My favorite sport is baseball.

Me: What is your favorite animal?
Joey: Dogs- Pugs!

Me: If you could go anywhere for vacation where would you go?
Joey: Wisconsin Dells

Me: What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Joey: Go up to the cabin. Going fishing.  Skiing.

Me: What is your favorite season.  Why?
Joey: Winter. Because (singing) "it's the most wonderful time of the year". Because there is snow.

Me: What are you really good at?
Joey: Baseball

Me: If you could make one birthday wish what would it be?
Joey: To fly in a B29 Superfortress and never get killed.  And destroy all the bad guys. Is that it?  Anymore questions?

Me: Do you want to be done?
Joey: No.  I love this.

Me: What's your favorite ice cream?
Joey: Sherbet! (pause) I'm just gonna go now.  Can I be done?

 And now...
Always my baby.

I am so proud of the baby you were, the boy you are, and the young man you are becoming.  It is an honor to be your mama.  I love you, my Joey.  Happy 10th Birthday!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Of Snowstorms, Tournaments, and Rodents... Oh My!

Last night we received another 6 inches of snow.  Luckily the kids already had the day off from school for a teacher in-service so they had all day to play in the delightful white stuff.
This is proving to be a very busy weekend ahead.  Joey's birthday is on Sunday and he still hasn't decided whether he wants to go bowling or to a movie.  If the weather is good enough for travel we may even go to EAA.  He would be thrilled.  Sometimes between now and Sunday I have to make his cake.  Hmm...

Tomorrow the boys are in their first ever chess tournament.  They spent this morning practicing their skills.
When that had become tiresome (I don't know how they are going to play all day long tomorrow-that sounds exhausting) we decided to head out to the pet store.  Our poor little hamster died this past week and we were curious to see if the store had any more little critters to keep us busy.  We went to two different stores until we found the right one.  
Look at this little guy.  He is a Siberian Teddy Bear Hamster. And he is so sweet!  He was not used to being hand held but he sure is friendly.  He let me hold him for a long time and even took turns with the kids.  We aren't sure on the name just yet but I think we are leaning toward Harley.  Or Hammie.  Or Harley the Hammie.  I don't know.

We already had an aquarium that we had used for our last dwarf hamster, but because this guy will get much bigger it just didn't seem big enough.  Plus there was a sale on cages.  Lucky little hamster.

The little guy is currently busy checking out his new digs.  Ben is occupied wiggling his loose front tooth (he lost the other one two nights ago).  Tommy and Joey are wrestling.  Grace is playing with the dog.  Todd is visiting friends.  And I have to start dinner and get going on about 4 loads of laundry.

It is a busy house for sure.

How are your weekend plans shaping up?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Love

The day of love.  Aww.

I actually love Valentine's Day. I never believed in big, expensive gifts on Valentine's Day but little expressions of love are fabulous. Who doesn't like that? It's the little things that always get me excited and we have plenty of fun little things going on today.

Todd and I got each other funny little cards and he even surprised me with some beautiful flowers.  Points for hubby!

I always make the day a big deal for the kids and they got special treats this morning, treats to take to school, we'll have a special dinner tonight, and a new movie to watch with a fire and popcorn.  What a day!

Inspired by this post from last week at Happy Wives Club I decided to participate in the 5 Minute Exercise for Valentine's Day.

Here is the explanation of the 5 Minute Exercise.

Recently, after my mom discovered the letter my father wrote to her years before he passed away telling her everything he would possibly want to say in his final 5 minutes on earth, I decided to do the same exercise.  Yesterday, I imagined I'd breathed my last breathe and was standing at the pearly gates of heaven.  Before entering, God met me at the gates, "I know you love Keith and there are some words you wished you'd said before I brought you to me.  So I'm allowing you to return...but only for 5 say all there is for you to say."

Today is the day of love.  And to celebrate my love I'm taking 5 minutes to tell Todd what I want him to know if it were my last 5 minutes on earth. I won't lie. The minute I started writing the tears began. I still have a lump in my throat. Thinking of trying to cram years worth of love into five minutes.  Heartbreaking.  But here it is:


Dear Todd-

Five minutes is not enough time to tell you all you've meant to me and how you've changed my life.  I never knew how wonderful life could be until you came along.  I know in my heart that God sent you to me.  You are my own personal gift from God. My angel.

You've loved me nonstop, faithfully, and completely.  You've not only loved me and accepted me for who I am, but you have even embraced my flaws.  Because of your love for me you have made me love myself.  You've helped me to see myself through your eyes.  You've given me confidence and strength.  You've made me a better person.

Raising our family together has been the biggest joy of my life.  You are an inspired father.  I could not have asked for a better man to raise my family with.  You are always there.  Always willing to go a step further.  You are loving and strong.  We are all so lucky to have you.

You've always said that at the end of your life the thing you will be the most proud of is having a long, loving, lasting marriage and a great family.  You have succeeded at that.

You are my best friend.  The love of my life.  Thank you.


Whew.  Still crying.

What about you?  What would you say to your love if you only had 5 minutes left on earth?  Do you think your love already knows what you would say?  If not, maybe it should be said today.

Happy Valentine's Day, all!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

WW- The Thief

Casing the joint

A closer look

Cracking the safe


Going back for more

Keeping an eye out

Risking it all

Caught in the act!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Just as the length of the day starts to get to me I see it.

The sun, gone for what feels like weeks, is tossing butter-colored ribbons of light across the frozen ground.  My mood makes an immediate turnabout.  There is hope.

The sun reminds me that the snow will melt, the ice will thaw, the temperatures will rise.  Spring will come.  Soon there will be grass, and leaves, and flowers.  It will come.

The never-ending cold will end.

The sun stays longer than the previous months.  It is still light as I cart the kids to swim class.  The wind bites at our faces as we scurry across the street to reach the building and take cover from winter's bitterness.  But the sun is still there.  It strengthens my resolve.  

This too shall pass.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Turning Six

It's a big day.  A certain little man is turning six.  SIX.  Not sure how that happened, but here we are.  


Lover of
Being fast
Being loud

Watches out for others
Keeps up with the big boys
A caring, sensative older brother
A friend to all

This year I thought I would conduct a little interview with Ben so that I can document exactly where he is at in this moment.  He was in a pretty silly mood.  I'm not sure all the answers make sense.  But it was fun.

Me: Hi Ben!  How you doin?
Ben: Good!  Really Good!

Me: What's going on today?
Ben: (silly) Ma birfday!  This birthday cake is awesome!

Me: So how old are you today?
Ben: I'm six.  Six.

Me:  Do you feel any older?
Ben: Mmm.  Yeah a little bit.

Me: Are you having a good day?
Ben: Yep.  Great day!

Me:  What's your favorite part so far?
Ben:  The cake!

Me: What's your favorite color?
Ben:  You know!  It's green!  What you talkin' 'bout dude?

Me:  You're silly today.
Ben: Yeah, I know!

Me: What's your favorite food?
Ben: Nachos.

Me: What do you think you want to be when you grow up?
Ben:  Hmmm.  I just wanna help people if they're sick.  Do all kinds of cool things.  Every job in the world.  I just wanna go to Florida.  And Kansas, cuz that's where the tornados are.  I wanna be a tornado chaser.

Me: What is your favorite animal?
Ben: Umm... probably a squirrel.  (?)

Me: Do you like school?
Ben:  Yeah I do!  Well, kinda.

Me:  What's your favorite toy?
Ben: Bear-bear.  He's special.  Really special.

Me: If you could go anywhere where would you like to go?
Ben: I like the kids' museum and sledding and up north and EAA and the Maritime Museum.

Me: Okay, what if you had to pick ONE.
Ben: Okay, fine.  Up north.  I love the cabin.

Me:  What is your favorite game?
Ben: Angry Birds.  And chess.  I can play chess.  And I'm only five! I mean six!

Me: What is your favorite book?
Ben: Any kind of tornado book.

Me: What is your favorite thing to do?
Ben: Play outside.

Me: What do you like to do outside?
Ben: Throw snowballs.  Make snowmen.  Play with my brothers an' stuff.  In summer we ride bikes.

Me:  What is your favorite sport?
Ben: Soccer.

Me: Where is your favorite place to spend time?
Ben: With my family.

Me: What is your favorite movie?
Ben: The Three Stooges

Me: What is your favorite season and why?
Ben: Summer!!!  Because we blow bubbles and swim and stuff.

Me: Are you a good boy, Benny?
Ben: Yeah.
Me.  I agree.

Love you, my sweet Ben. 

Happy Sixth Birthday!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Light Bulb

So this is what happens when I stop running for two months, add bacon to every sandwich I eat (what?), and pig out each night in front of the tv after the kids go to bed.  Interesting.  Or yuck.  Either one.

On a positive note, I finally have some boobs. Unfortunately they won't get a chance to stick around very long because everything from the boobs down is pretty hideous and I've decided enough is enough.  And wouldn't ya know it, the boobs are always the first to go.

It all became crystal clear when my dear husband suggested he and I take a vacation. A reasonable request from the man seeing as how we have not have a vacation in close to 5 years.  Oh sure, we had a night away for a wedding last year, but that wasn't even a 24 hour period of time.  I think a vacation is overdue.

Upon said vacation request I had a request of my own.  Nothing tropical.  This frustrated the hubby seeing as how we live in "frozen tundra" land and we are both sick of freezing cold.  When the hubby says "vacation" then "tropical" is the only thing that comes to his mind.  What is a vacation without warm weather, a beach, and a cold drink in your hand?  Most of the time I would concur with his questioning.

However, because of my poor eating habits, and general slothfulness, these last couple of months I am looking worse for the wear.  The idea of putting on shorts and a tank top, or even worse a swim suit (good gawd!) does not make me think relaxing thoughts. But should that be enough to make me veto a tropical vacation? Absolutely not.

And that was my light bulb moment.

It is about time I rid myself of my recent disgusting unhealthy habits.  I no longer have a sore neck, the muscle in my foot has healed, the busy-ness of the holidays has passed, and our schedules are back on track.  Yes, the weather is still too frigid (and/or icy) for me to run outdoors but I have a perfectly good treadmill downstairs just waiting to be put to use.  I have no more excuses (other than my love of bacon, that is).

Today I bit the bullet and started running again.  And to be honest it felt pretty damn good.  I was surprised how much my body retained (and I'm not talking fat) and that the run was not as difficult as I had feared it would be.

This is my first step.  And I'm glad I'm finally taking it.  It is time to get me back again.  And hopefully by the time our little tropical vacation arrives I will be feeling much more confident with myself and more comfortable in my skin.

Now, if only I could overcome my fear of leaving my children to go on a vacation. You know, typical "what if the plane crashes and Todd and I both die leaving our children parentless."  Or my fear of my children mortally wounding themselves somehow while I'm away.  Or my fear of our mothers having to be hospitalized for exhaustion from watching our kids while we are gone. You know, normal fears.

I've got issues people.  I can only work on one at a time!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Things That Are Good

So, this weekend was good.  After my last hideous post the next day was much better.  Thank God.

I am back to being able to take a step back and see all the good things going on again.

- On Friday we had parent/teacher conferences for all of our kids.  Safe to say our kids have some awesome teachers who really get them, allow them to be themselves, and appreciate them.  They are all doing well in school and continue to improve.  It was a great reminder for me after the messy, icky day we had the day before.  So, so good.

- On Saturday I stayed in my pajamas all day and lounged around the house.  I can not remember the last time I did that.  It was good.

- On Sunday we went to a super fun Superbowl party, ate too much yummy food, had a few drinks, and then won $100 on the Ravens' win.  Plus, we had many compliments on our polite, sweet, smart (they played Chess half the night), funny kids.  That's good.

- This week is Ben's birthday.  This morning I finished shopping for all of his birthday presents and came up with a fabulous idea for his birthday cake.  Very good.

- The weather is going to warm slightly and we should be getting some fresh snow tomorrow.  Just in time for Joey's class sledding trip.  He thinks that is GOOD.

Also good?  The Superbowl commercials.  Overall I thought there were a number of great commercials and only a few duds.  The gross, loud-kissing commercial with Bar Refaeli?  Um.  Yuck.

Here are a few of my favorites:

This one made me bawl my brains out. Cuz I'm a huge sucker.

This one makes me bawl my brains out too (surprise, surprise).  Paul Harvey reminds me of my childhood.  Whenever I hear his voice I am immediately back in my parents' bedroom listening to their radio in the morning.  This commercial is perfection.

This commercial makes me cry too (egad.  maybe something is wrong with me!).  I'm always rooting for the underdog, you know.  Love it.  So good.

This one makes me cry too (but only because I'm laughing too hard).  I swear this is me in 40-50 years. So good.

And that concludes all the good, for now.

What's good in your 'hood?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Not All Sunshine And Rainbows

A bad day

right from the start

snowballing into worse

Just when I think I've got it all figured out

I realize I haven't even begun

Just when I think my job is well done

I find out what a failure I've been

Not for the faint of heart

Sometimes I don't know if I'm strong enough

Give up

Run away

Call it quits

Not an option

Locked in my room

trying to reason it out

tears cloud my eyes

I can't see the answer

All my efforts failed

my last reaction, unacceptable

Epic fail

Today was one of those parenting days when I just wanted to run away.  I honestly had to restrain myself from grabbing my car keys and taking off.  I'm kinda at my wits end.  And the scary part is that he's still so young yet.  Don't people always say, "Little kids, little problems.  Big kids, big problems."?  Cuz, crap!  Then I'm really screwed.

I don't know. I guess I just have no freaking clue what I'm doing anymore.  Am I worrying about stupid things?  Am I expecting too much?  Am I doing more harm than good?  Why can't I be more patient and understanding?  Why am I so awful at this?  MAN!

It's just so difficult sometimes.  And it shouldn't be. It shouldn't be this hard! I think about parents that really have difficult children.  How do they manage?  My kids are so easy compared to so many and yet here I am pulling all my hair out.


I just wish...

I just hope...

I just want to do better.

"Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them."
P. J. O'Rourke

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson