Monday, December 19, 2011

I wonder as I wander (from room to room around the house)

Christmas is less than a week away - in case you needed to be reminded. The little darlings are finished with school and will be home at 1pm on Wednesday. You'd think I'd have things more together than I do & would take advantage of every free moment that I have child-free each day, but that's just not the case. I'm sort of flying by the seat of my pants, taking it one thing/day at a time. Maybe it's because the list is long & never-ending, or maybe I'm a little over the hamster wheel that is life with school-aged kids - I don't know - all I do know is that instead of putting a final coat of paint on William's bedroom door so Matt can put the knob back on, I find myself reading books or - heaven forbid! - napping :) I love me a good nap.
Which isn't to say we haven't done anything this month - it's been filled with activities from the Advent garland I made - self-inflicted pressure, that - and last week we had 3 late nights of Christmas programs right in a row. Sarah and Jason were not their most cheerful selves by Friday, needless to say. We've done candle-lit bubble baths, made glitter ornaments for the tree, dressed up fancy for dinner one night, danced to Christmas music (which really ended up in the four of them running around in circles to TSO's Wizards of Winter - oy) - and I'm sure many other things I've forgotten. On Sunday we went ice skating!
It's been two years since we last attempted this. That time, Sarah was 3 and Jason was 2. Neither of them wanted to skate - Jason had jelly-legs & refused to even attempt to stand on the ice - and William ended up wiping out and tripping someone, bleeding all over the ice from a head wound. That was fun! This time, Sarah seemed to enjoy going around with Matt, and William didn't have any major wipeouts. Evie thought everyone at the rink was in a conspiracy against her, either bumping into her, showing off, or deliberately getting in her way. Evie gets crabby when she's tired :)

Jason? Fared a little better this time - he kept his legs mostly straight, and I think I went around the ice with him a total of two times during the hour+ we were there; he told me he never ever ever ever wants to go again :)
My children are all hoping for a kitten for Christmas. I told Evie we'd talk about getting one in January, and what does she do? Puts it at the top of her list. And then she gets all snarky, saying she probably won't get one. Um, nope! We're traveling for New Year's, and I'm not leaving a new kitten at home all alone! The subject came up at dinner Wednesday night - Matt was saying how cats just shed, scratch your furniture and poop in a box & track litter all over, and it was so cute - Jason got down from his chair, walked over to Matt & told him he was WRONG - kittens are cute, they meow and purr on you, and are just so cute! He was so earnest when he said it - even if I hadn't already been planning on it, that would have changed my mind right there.

This was a whole lot of rambling to say a whole lot of nothing - suffice it to say, the days are slipping by and before I know it we'll be at church Saturday night & I'll be desperately making sure my kids don't burn the place down or set my hair on fire while we're singing Silent Night at the end of the service, before racing home to set out water and carrots & cookies & milk for Santa and his gang; then I'll blink and it will all be over....
Matt and I both dream of having a pool in our backyard, something that's just not in the cards right now - or maybe ever - but this week he forwarded me a link that REALLY has me lusting over a pool! One main reason I'd hesitate to put in a pool - aside from the cost - is the amount of yard it would permanently eat up year round, for the small amount of time you'd get to enjoy it - and then I saw this video - coolest thing ever, and now I REALLY want a pool! At least dreams are free....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Inferno. Ok maybe that's an exaggeration.

My husband is traveling this week. (We have lots of guns, don't get any ideas.) I'm flying by the seat of my pants trying to manage the kids, the house, and all that nonsense all without my Super Cape. Of course - this is the week William's teacher decides to shake things up and assign 5 chapters of Charlotte's Web each day followed by 10 questions about said book to be answered each night. Which William is trying to do in cursive writing - which he hasn't been taught yet, but is trying to do on his own, by copying the letters out of his daily planner that the school is attempting to get the kids to use - even though he's forgotten to bring his math homework home two days in a row & I had to go get yesterday so he could do his math...... deep sigh.

So I'm drowning here. And yes - I'm fully aware - mostly - that my life doesn't really suck, we're all healthy and have food on the table and a roof over our head - but still, I'm overwhelmed by the things that overwhelm moms at Christmas when they have four young kids and nothing else to be REALLY overwhelmed about. I thought things would get easier as the kids got older, but I keep waiting for it to happen. What HAS happened is that I still have  two at home most of the time, and between the four of them. someone is always talking/fighting/arguing, or needing something from me right now. And WHY AM I NOT LISTENING???? At this very moment I'm choosing to ignore all the things not in my immediate field of view that need my attention, and am focusing instead on my glass of wine (ok, it was really half a bottle when I poured it, but who was I kidding, I was going to drink the whole thing and why get up to refill when it would all fit in the glass??)

Highlights of my week:

- William replaced the batteries in his 'Moon in my Room'. Which is great. Except that when he hung it back up, the nail had slipped into the wall a bit & it later fell off - knocking down the thing that was hanging below it, and also bending THAT nail and making a hole in the drywall that now needs to be filled/sanded/painted.

- Evie and I hauled all the deck cushions & rug into the shed on Monday before it started raining yesterday. After figuring out how to open the double door & hauling all the stuff it, I slammed the non-hinged door that was sticking and knocked a 2x2x36" piece of oak on my head. Which I didn't know was up there in the first place, because I don't go in the shed unless I have to. It still hurts.

- Evie thinks December - when she has window candles in her room - is the time of year to tear her room apart and clean it by candlelight. Not that it looks any neater in the morning, and there's always a pile of crap in the hallway for me to deal with later, she's just miserable the next day to get up for school....

- Spent the better part of an hour helping William with his homework.

- I don't even know at this point what I did on Tuesday, other than give the kids candlelit bubble baths, because that's what the Advent calendar said was on tap for Tuesday. Why I gave myself this added pressure, I don't know. William didn't get his bath because he didn't finish his homework - and "I don't know" is not an appropriate reading comprehension answer.

- Today I dragged the tree in the house - because the stand Matt ordered over a week ago finally arrived - and got it standing and decorated - not without marking up the ceiling because 1) oops! the tree is too tall! and 2) I didn't realize this because I'm here by myself.

I can't/don't even want to go on and complain anymore because it's nearly midnight already. Let's just say - I need a few hours here at the house ALL BY MYSELF to get caught up on things, and at this point that just seems like a pipe dream. I don't know how people who work manage to get everything done and still sleep/eat/be merry on top of it all.

I'm not even going to try to proof-read, this, it is what it is after half a bottle of wine - but allow me to leave you with some pics of my newly recovered chair. This was my great-grandmother's chair, that I inherited last year from my mother. Under the floral slipcover my mom had made was the original pink upholstery I remember from holidays past at MeMe's house. I took some steel wool & smoothed all the wood, stained & waxed it, and had it reupholstered in a chocolate velveteen. I'm really loving my new chair, and I think even Matt is surprised at how nice it turned out :) Of course it's a favorite of the little kids, Sarah in particular, but I'm hoping to keep it in decent shape for at least a few years - I love how it turned out :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Countdown - let the craziness begin.

December is here. Wait - what? Where did November go? I think I blinked and missed it. Time to get my act together and get in the Christmas spirit! Actually I love Christmas. I just feel overwhelmed by all there is to do - but then, that's nothing out of the ordinary, there's always too much to do and not enough time. I need to have a kid-free house for at least two days to get caught up, but that's never going to happen - time to buck up, chug some coffee, and get a move on! And I'm not sure why I'm always surprised to see more than half the bottle of wine empty the next morning, but there you have it - and I always am. Anywho! Yesterday I took all four of my precious little darlings to the mall for haircuts! I bribed them for good behavior by promising them a ride on the Christmas train behind Santa's court at the mall. They had it all to themselves and all four piled into the engine car, because that's the one with the bell.

Well. All was well and good until about the 4th loop around (the gentleman running the train was on the phone and let them go a good long time) when William started YANKING on the bell pull as hard as he possibly could. I snarled at him to cut it out when they rolled past, and as soon as he thought he was out of sight of me he started it again. Next year William either 1) doesn't get to ride the train or 2) is not allowed in the front car with the bell.

 Other happenings? Evie is already pestering me about who is going to put out the carrots and water for the reindeer. You know, on Christmas Eve. I'm trying to be patient - I know they are all giddy with excitement (William didn't pass out until about 10:30 last night, couldn't sleep) but stuff like this gets on my nerves - can we PLEASE get the house decorated first & take this one day at a time??

So a few years ago, in order to get free shipping from Hearthsong, I ordered a kit to make an Advent calendar. This year I finally got around to making it! Although I was cutting it close - I still had 7 pockets to make before it was finished, and William was kind enough to figure out a way I could get it all done in time - I could make 3 on Tuesday and 4 on Wednesday, and then I'd be finished! He even wrote it down for me :)
 Last night I finished stitching the pockets together while drinking wine and harassing Matt into helping figure out what we were going to put in them - nothing like waiting until the last minute :)

But it all got done, and the kids were really excited this morning to see what the first day would bring :) Since Evie always gets stuck waiting for the little kids to go first, I thought we'd go oldest to youngest with this, so she opened up number 1 - today we're going to deck the halls for Christmas :) Yay!
I'm really happy with how it turned out :) Happy December!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey Day Happenings

Our Thanksgiving started out with a bang. Or maybe more like a stumble.William's school was holding a feast for the second grade last Tuesday, and I'd volunteered to set up and serve - it's been rare I've been able to get into the schools for stuff like this, but now that Sarah and Jason are in preschool I'm able to manage a little bit - anyway - as the second graders finally started making their way in for their feast, a friend comes rushing over to tell me William's in the nurse's office & has split his chin open. If you're keeping track, that now makes 3 out of my 4 children who have managed to split their chins open. So I gather up my stuff, and head off to see what's up. In the end, the local clinic was able to glue it back together - in and out in 25 minutes! - but William sadly missed his feast, and I didn't get to enjoy it with him :( So how did this happen at school you ask? More details have emerged in the last 5 days, and the full story seems to be that William was trying to get away from a bad smell in the bathroom; he slipped on some water on the floor, hit his head on the sink and his chin on the floor. Have I told you he's a hot mess??
I was so caught up in William's chin incident that I completely forgot Jason had his well check-up at 1pm that afternoon. Oops :( At least I didn't forget to pick anyone up from somewhere -that's a big fear of mine. Wednesday I made pies with Evie, and the kids all did some painting. William painted a lovely turkey, and then asked everyone to sign it :) Sometimes he really surprises me with the things he comes up with, and I am just TICKLED that he painted that turkey all by himself - the boy who wouldn't pick up a crayon for me EVER.

Thanksgiving here isn't much different from other days - we stay home and celebrate with just the six of us - but we do try to make it special and not plan too much. I brined my first bird, which turned out great, and everyone got along surprisingly well - although the mimosas may have had something to do with the mellow mood of HM and HD.
William with his chin laceration and jack-o-lantern smile

Of course, it's never a holiday here without some sort of drama - Princess Sarah couldn't make up her mind where she wanted to sit at the table - we tried accommodating her at least 3 times before we gave up - and as nothing made her happy, there was a lot of stomping and huffing and puffing from her before she finally took her seat and joined us for dinner. Stinker.
My pilgrim and my kitty
All this to say, Thanksgiving was a pretty typical day around here, and the drama factor was surprisingly low - something I'm always grateful for, the drama factor tends to run pretty high around here.
Jason giving his Zhu Zhu pet a hair cut
The rest of the weekend was filled with fall chores, we had an ocean of leaves to rake in the back yard (note: you get what you pay for when buying leaf blower/vacs, as we discovered this weekend - Stihl knocks the others out of the park!) and lots of other things to attend to house-wise. I'm trying not to stress over the fact that I haven't dragged out my Christmas decorations yet, but it's hard when your neighbors get theirs all out on black Friday and you're raking leaves. One day and one holiday at a time, right? Right.

Other bits of interest - I had 5 inches whacked off the back of my hair last week and I LOVE IT! I was so ready for a change :)

And for the last bit of our weekend, my BFF from college was in the area visiting family, and we met for an early dinner on Sunday -  2 hours isn't nearly enough time for a decent visit, but I'll take what I can get at this point. Nothing like good food, good wine, well-behaved kids and good friends to round out a very nice holiday weekend. I hope you had a great one too!
Michelle & me

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Long time no blog....some random ramblings

It's been awhile - I'm not sure whether that's due to 1) I have nothing to say, or 2) Blogger is quirky and a) won't upload pictures without 4 or 5 attempts or b) won't let you comment or do much of anything or 3) Life is crazy busy at times and by the time the kids are settled for the night I just don't want to do much other than sit and stare at the tv. Probably a combination of all of the above, somehow. But for today, my hubby bought me wine from Costco, because I'd tried a bottle and liked it and it was going to be discontinued there so he bought 4 bottles and left them sitting on the kitchen counter and even though I'd said I wasn't going to have any tonight - well. There's always tomorrow :) I'm almost finished this bottle anyway, and tomorrow is Monday, and that's a better day to start such things anyway. Although Thursday is Thanksgiving, so I'm pretty much done-for eating-wise. My diet starts on New Years' Day? AND I ramble. Sorry :)

What's been going on you ask? Sarah makes me smile. Sarah's started drawing on the back of her worksheets at preschool, and I love to see the things that Sarah draws - and also the fact that her people have vacant holes for eyes :) Sarah's world is apparently a happy world (when she's not screaming at us) - her pictures are filled with hearts, sunshine, fluffy clouds and rainbows. I asked her who this picture was of:
...and she said me and Matt! Awwwww :) We're holding hands under a heart and rainbow! Matt took one look at it and wondered who her other Dad is, because he has hair. Sarah responded that she doesn't know how to draw 'little hair'  - sweet heart :) A week or so later she brought home this picture of our house - again, sunshine, a rainbow, and I'm pretty sure that's another heart above the door. I guess we're doing ok when this is the kind of stuff Sarah's drawing on her schoolwork, she must be happy and well adjusted, no?
I won't share William's doodles with you. He drew a picture of Harry Potter on the back of one of his pages this week. And then a picture of Harry Potter and his naughty bits. Sigh. I jinxed myself this week, just Thursday night at our pre-Breaking Dawn dinner out with the girls I'd made the comment that William hadn't been to the principals' office yet this year. Damn if the school didn't call at 11:23 the next day, telling me they had William in their office for some offense or another. He is now 3 for 3 on visits to the office per year in school. William did NOT get to stay for the sleepover at his friend's birthday party Friday night.
So after living here and hearing about it for 10 years, our county is finally building a new high school!! It will be finished in plenty of time for our kids to attend, and this weekend they laid the corner stone. Have I told you Harried Dad is a mason??

Saturday afternoon Matt's lodge had a ceremony where they lay the corner stone of the building, including a time capsule full of stuff :) Matt's role as secretary was to read the content list of the time capsule for all to hear. It was interesting to watch this public bit of masonic ritual, and made me wonder what meetings are like behind closed doors :)
The ceremony included bits where they masons checked the stone with a level, plumb and square before they anointed it with corn, oil and WINE - I have to admit I was a bit horrified that they wasted wine by pouring it on a rock :)
The masons would have actually laid the stone in place on Saturday during the ceremony, but of course these things never go without a hitch and some mortar removal was required before the stone would fit in its niche - post-ceremony, of course. During this whole thing, Jason was sitting on my lap wearing his Luigi hat from Halloween, and he promptly pulled it over his eyes and went to sleep in my lap for a half hour or so. Have I mentioned how much I love that little boy? Thankfully, I had cat-ear-wearing Evie nearby to hand the camera to for pictures. Nothing like pictures from the angle of your 10 year old :)
So life is busy, and I have moments where I feel less than like myself, but I'm trying to get it together  - I can't believe that Thanksgiving is on Thursday, and Christmas is but a few short weeks after that. How on earth does time fly so quickly?? And yet I say that every year.....may you all have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with all those you hold near and dear - we'll be holding down the fort here, I'm sure with lots of drama and angst :) What else are kids for??

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Little Buddy turns 4!

My little buddy turned 4 Wednesday. I have no idea how that happened. Just yesterday, I was 60 weeks pregnant and as big as two houses; and yet somehow, here we are, 4 years later celebrating his birth.
William wanted to light Jason's candle :) 

Jason is the easygoing one, who really is Matt's Mini Me - probably a big part of why I'm so enamored of him. He's the sweet one, who listens - if I say something to everyone in the room, Jason's the one who can tell me exactly what I said. And last night he told me I'm lovely :)
William was holding the match down, and burned his finger. And spilled his milk.

Jason at four is SO much different from William - William was all about building marble tracks and studying how things worked, and playing Lego Star Wars on the PS3; Jason walks around pretending to shoot things, pretending his Mario Brothers Fruit Snacks are people, and playing Super Mario Brothers on the Wii - maybe he's not so different from William after all....
You can see how concerned I was, I kept taking pictures :)
Jason is also different in that every day after preschool, he can't wait to tell me about his day and show me everything in his backpack - he wants to take it all out and show me before we've even left the pickup loop at school; Evie and William? Couldn't tell me anything about preschool - who the other kids were, what they did, and they could have cared less if they'd brought anything home.
He reminds me so much of Matt these days!
But that's the neat thing about kids, right? Seeing how different they are and yet how they can be so similar; looking for yourself in them, or your husband or parents - I don't see much of myself in Jason at all, just Matt - which is really funny, because Matt swore Jason had to be the product of my affair with the UPS man; I don't think there is any denying that Jason did not fall far from the apple tree of Matt.
This is like looking at a young Matt and a young version of my dad with blonde hair
So Jason has turned 4, and he was so excited to be getting birthday presents, after watching all rest of us open our gifts! He'd only asked for a Webkinz Dragon and a Nintendo DS - and a DS charger and a DS game - so I had to come up with a few things I thought he'd like, as we weren't ready to buy our 4 yo a DS - but he did get his dragon, and promptly named it Brian Regan. What else would you name a stuffed dragon?

He also got some Super Mario toys, a Captain America figure, a Captain America shield that shoots discs, and a Captain America Pez dispenser - because he was in tears one day at the store because I told him I wasn't going to buy it for him, and then stood my ground. I think he was happy to open it :)
Happy Birthday Little Buddy!I hope you always stay as sweet as you are :) I love you!!!!
Some  Brian Regan, if you don't know who he is....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween 2011 - Our Harried Haunt

October goes by so quickly, and this year was no exception. It seems like we're just starting to drink cider, pick out pumpkins & put mums on the stoop, and BAM! it's over. At least with Christmas there's a bit longer lead-up, and Christmas is about the day-long celebration with family, not just a whirlwind 2-1/2 hours of nuttiness. But I must say we bring it on ourselves :)
William punched out and carved this huge pumpkin all by himself - it was the talk of the night.
We had snow on Saturday, which really set Matt back on his Halloween set-up. Maybe 8 years ago (?) he started creating a cemetery in our front yard, a couple of hand-carved tombstones and a coffin made up to look like it was coming out of the ground. Each year a new prop has been added, to the point where we now have a full cemetery, a bleeding tombstone and freshly filled in grave, a scarecrow a la Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow; there's a trio of ghosts, a skeleton witch doctor, a fence that from a distance you'd swear was always there, and I'm sure I'm forgetting little details here and there - lots of spotlights of various colors, and thunder and lightning. I'm told our house has become a bit of a landmark for trick-or-treaters, and Matt really enjoys putting on the show for everyone.
I carved Sarah's kitty and Jason's Angry Bird; Evie carved Puss and Boots all by herself - amazing job.
This year's new additions were a spooky lady from Grand in Road, some talking busts on pedestals, and lighting that was added to the columns at the foot of the driveway (that I swear I almost hit EVERY YEAR - I am always so glad to see those put away!). Of course the only thing I got a picture of was the new lighting.
Each year we usually have some people in to help with the setup, my dad was here one year and Matt's parents have come twice, and there's a family that lives outside of town that usually trick or treats with us, but weren't able to this year, so we were pretty much on our own - and it's gotten to the point where it's just too much for Matt to manage by himself, and I'm busy getting four beyond excited kids in costumes in time to get some pictures before the light fails.
Super Mario chasing Princess Peach through the foggy graveyard
Things didn't come off without a hitch, as usual - there's always some problem behind-the-scenes that hopefully people don't notice in the big picture, but Matt's acutely aware of - one year fuses kept blowing with all the lighting and fog machines (that got fixed when we remodeled the bathroom & upgraded the electrical); the fog never seems to cooperate and ends up polluting the whole neighborhood, and even invaded the house until we got smart and moved the candy table to the driveway & kept all the windows shut: this year the thunder and lightning controller, after 4 years of working perfectly, decided not to this year (if you're local, did you miss it?) and the talking busts, which were tested MULTIPLE times, decided to keep strangely quiet Monday night. Irritating, that.
Luigi didn't feel like wearing his mustache :)
Half the candles didn't get lit, and the light bulbs at the front door weren't traded out for black lights, and without the lightning the house seemed darker than normal  - but again, this was a weird Halloween. We had a snow man and sleds in our backyard, and carved pumpkins out front - Sarah wanted to know if it was Christmas.
Evie put together her kitty costume all by herself - she even had black gloves with pink felt paws sewn on.
Thankfully the kids are getting bigger and will hopefully take an interest in helping out in the next few years - and maybe we'll get smart and do a full test run the night before, instead of trusting that it will all come together at the last minute like we seem to every year. Everyone got into costumes and makeup in record time (even with the doorbell ringing at 5:45 with early birds looking for handouts! SIX PM, people). And happily, our friend Cheryl came over with her boys to trick or treat - they missed last year, and it just wasn't the same - so we had a great photographer to take a few family shots. Harried Mom and Dad of Four, looking a little worse for wear, and the four smallish people who live with us :)
The kids finally did us in.
Happy Halloween!!!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! It feels really odd to be saying that after getting 6 inches of snow on Saturday. Yes, snow. We're used to not having to wear jackets trick-or-treating, but this year we'll be bundled up. Happily everyone's costumes will accommodate that this year. So LAST weekend we went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and WOW that was fun! A beautiful woodsy setting, good food, good drink (hard cider - YUM!) and fun stuff for the kids - although Matt joked that every time he turned around he was pulling a $20 from his wallet.
I love me some historical costumes, and I really enjoyed checking out what everyone was wearing. Now this being a Renaissance festival, you'd think that'd be how most people dressed - NOT TRUE!

While there were plenty of people walking around in period costumes - such as this $1500 beauty I was lusting after:
- there were plenty of other people walking around in all kinds of different stuff - Victorian, Fairy costumes, goth, steam punk, and yes there was even a little boy in an Iron Man costume.
There were tons of shops willing to take your money in exchange for something fantastic....
...and an archery demonstration. Evie is now pestering Matt for a bow and arrow - I'm not sure how I feel about that.

While we waited for jousting to start, Matt saved seats while I took the boys to the armory for swords and shields - wooden, of course.

These fine fellows got the crowd riled up to cheer for our respective knights...

...and the jousting began. I can't imagine trying to move in all that armor, and it was kind of amazing to watch these guys thundering towards each other holding a lance.

We had ice cream, went on pony rides, and did some rock climbing...

We all agreed we had a great time, and can't wait to go back next year :)
Sarah asked me last week how people are able to talk. I explained that we have vocal chords in our neck that make sound when air passes over them - she thought about that for a minute and said, so we're electric?? I love how little minds connect things together :)
Halloween is Matt's favorite holiday & we're almost all set for tonight - just some last minute prep, candles to light and costumes to don! You do dress up, right? Hopefully I'll get some decent pictures to share and we won't freeze our tushies off tonight. Happy Halloween!

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