Saturday, November 29, 2008

The First Gift

Kaylen had the honor this year of placing the first gift under the tree. It is her gift to Kelton and while I expect the secret may come tumbling out sooner or later, there is a good chance it will not. She is a pretty good secret keeper. Time will tell. :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sweet Boy

It was quiet this morning....a bit too quiet. I decided to go investigate to find out what the kids were up to. Kaylen was happily playing with her dolls in the living room but Kelton was no where to be found.

I wandered to the back of the house and this is what I saw when I peeked in his room:

He was sitting at his little desk (which my dad made for me when I was about his age) hard at work creating a book titled "Robots". What a heart melting scene. :)

(And that green chair? It was my Grandmothers.)

Three Year Old Attitude

Can't you just imagine her as a teenager?

Yeah - I'm a little bit scared. :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Note to Self

The next time the three year old asks where her safety scissors are, don't just tell her and go back to what you were doing. Look and see what she is wanting to cut up.

I'm just saying.

Apparently she wanted to cut out George's face. *sigh*

And this pay back? When I was a baby, so the legend goes, I chewed up and destroyed a $5.00. Go figure - history really does repeat itself. :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

It's that time of year when we purposely stop, look around and give thanks for all we have in our lives.

I know that I have so very much to be grateful for this year. The latest bit of gratitude from me comes from an unlikely place - or does it? Maybe it is so easy for us to look at the grand things (good health, love, a roof over our heads and food on the tables) that we overlook the tiniest moments for gratitude.

Last night, just minutes after Dakota arrived home early from class (Gratitude #1; it's awesome when she arrives home early!) there was a knock on the front door and the dogs went wild (Gratitude #2; the dogs didn't wake the sleeping children.). We do not have a peep hole and I fear knocks on the door after dark when I am home alone (Gratitude #3; I wasn't alone.). I held the dogs while Dakota called "Who is it?" through the door.

The voice of a neighbor came back, identifying himself. (Gratitude #4; not a scary stranger.) Dakota opened the door.

As it turns out, he had mail for me that had been delivered to his box. My newly renewed drivers license! (Gratitude #5; we all know it could have been a devastating event for my drivers license to end up in the wrong hands. Just think of all the information so easily at the hands of someone not meaning well.)

So - all in the span on 15 seconds, I had five things for which to be thankful. Imagine if we all paid close attention to a single hour in our lives - we would have many things to give thanks for on an hourly basis. It's truly amazing when you think about it.

In the hustle and bustle of the next few days, I hope we can all take a few minutes to be still inside ourselves and feel all the things, both big and tiny, that we have to be grateful for. I know that I am grateful for, and to, all of you for coming by here day after day to read my life stories. Your friendship and love is something I absolutely do not take for granted.

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Six Little Girls

After MOMS Club today, Kaylen and I stopped in to have lunch with Kelton at school and I was amazed by what happened. In prior lunch dates with my son there has been little activity surrounding my visit. Kaylen, Kelton and I just picked a place and sit down, which we did again today. I have never paid attention to who was sitting near us. Only this time six talkative little girls flocked over to the table to hang out with us. Six! Kelton was so funny. At one point he looked around and I could see him counting and he leaned over to whisper to me "Mom! There are eight girls, counting you and Kaylen, sitting with me!"

It's true - we took up the entire table. I wasn't sure if he was delighted or a bit freaked out. Or maybe he was acting freaked out because I was there because honestly, the girls gravitated to him naturally which to me says it isn't that odd that he is sitting with the girls. :) Oh - and add to it the fact that the girls all had Ketlon stories to share with me ("One time, on the play ground..." and "In class Kelton did...."). It was all very funny and sweet and gave me a glimpse into my future with this little man of mine.

And this, appropriately enough, was today's For Better or For Worse strip:

Santa's Little Helper

Yesterday I had big plans. I was going to take Kaylen in for her flu shot, which she had been unable to get previously, and then go to a make-up gymnastics class (her regular class is Thursday but being Thanksgiving, we had to reschedule). I was looking forward to having her flu shot done so I could take it off my To Do list.

The best laid plans and all.

Pediatric flu shots are still not available through Kaiser. Apparently they are back ordered from the manufacturer but to help kids get vaccinated, they have the nasal mist spray for the toddler set. Fine and dandy except the list is side effects is enough to scare off even a pro-vaccine mom like myself. And then there is the little fact that Kaylen is not eligible for the mist because she had croup last month and a child who has been that sick, or has had any wheezing in the year prior, is not able to have the mist.

Fine by me because...did I mention the list of side effects? No thanks.

So anyway - we went to the nurse treatment room, waited in a long line and was turned away. "Come back next week and we might have it it."

We were done there and it was too early for gymnastics but not enough time to go home. I have been wanting to go to TJ Maxx for a while as I hear people talking about it all the time. I've never been so figured today would be a good chance to check it out since it was close to the gym. I didn't find anything for me (which was my goal) but I did find a really great Christmas dress for Kaylen and BONUS! it came with a matching doll dress....and all for the low price of $12!

From there we went to gymnastics (which the girl is in love with! It is so much fun to watch her and she is so jazzed while she is there and still jazzed for hours after. Definitely the right move for her.) and then home. She was barely in the front door before she found her doll, grabbed the bag and ran off to her room. Once dressed, she came out and sat on the fire place hearth and said "Take our pictures please. Just like yesterday, ok?" (see Christmas card photo post below)

So I did. And here they are:

Later she came to me and asked that I cut her dolls hair. I did my best to talk her out of it but the girl was right. The dolls hair was too messy and it was always getting knots in it. So I decided to take the plunge and cut it. And you know what? The doll looks 100% better with shorter hair. I think it's so great that she likes her short hair so much that she even wants her dolls to have short hair. :)

Oh how I love this little girl of mine!

Is that a star on your tree.....

...or are you just happy to see me?

For years and years and years, we've had an angel on the top of the tree. The particular angel we've had is one I found my very first Christmas living on my own. This beautiful, simple little angel is about 25 years old (Oh my gosh! How in the world did *that* happen? 25 years old? No way! No. freakin'. way. Nothing makes me feel as old as times like this when I look back thinking "What? 15 years ago?" only to realize it's been much, much longer than that. But I digress....) and I love it. LOVE.IT.

Friday night when we were putting up the tree little miss thing began insisting that we had a star for the top and demanding to know where we had put it. We both told her that no, we didn't have a star. We had this great angel who sat on the top of the tree. No dice. The girl insisted we had a star. She insisted so hard that she flopped to the floor in an all out tantrum demanding to know where it was. Her beautiful, beautiful (non-existent) star.

I assured her once again that we did not have a star but if it was that important to her then we could look at the stores the next time we were out to see if we could find one that would work. My evil mommy plan was to pacify the over-tired girl to give us enough time for it to blow is usually the case.

Only this such luck.

Yesterday, we gave in. We took her to the decoration section of the local one-stop shopping place and much to my disappointment her delight, she found "the most beautiful star in the night sky". It couldn't have been further from what I wanted if it tried. Well ok, that's not true. It could have been the gawdy multi-colored thing that was also on the shelf (and my sincerest apologies if you love the gawdy beautiful multi-colored stars.

I honestly think I died a little inside when she picked the gold star and refused to look at other options.

She proudly carried her star to the check out and we brought it home with the promise that I would immediately place it atop the tree.

Did anyone hear me whimpering when I removed my angel? I tried to be grown up about and I only pouted out of the eye sight of the kids but still.....ugh. We have a gold star on the top of our tree.

And another piece of "me" has been chipped away.

Dramatic? Maybe. But this angel has been with me all of my adult life and it really did feel like yet another sacrifice made for the happiness of my family. So while I don't like the star (at all) I know it brings the littlest member of our family extreme joy (the other two really don't care though I did hear Dakota say that she liked the star). And making my family happy is what it's all about.

The angel is now sitting on top of the china hutch. But someday I know she will back on the top of the tree where she belongs. :)

Christmas Presents

Woohoo! I cannot believe how close to done I am with shopping for gifts. This is the first year since the kids arrived on the scene that I actually feel like I have a handle on the Christmas season. The tree is up, the lights are on the house, the inside is decorated, gifts for all but one niece and one nephew have been bought, gifts for our two have been purchased and the only left to do is stocking stuffers. Easy enough because I already know the things I want to get. It's just a matter of getting out alone to get them.

This year I gave up the idea of going out to stores to buy things. I figured out what I thought were good ideas, talked with Dakota and then ordered almost everything through Amazon. Genius! Online shopping is genius when you have kids and no time to do kid-free shopping.

Sure - as with any on-line shopping it tends to bring tons of catalogs and offers for 0% APR balance transfer credit cards but that's ok. I'm actually one of those weird people who don't mind mail in the mailbox and catalogs make me over the edge giddy. I love to look through them - and so do the kids.

And I don't know about you but have you noticed that so many places seem to have really great sales going on? Smart move on the stores part, too, as it makes it easier for people like me (on a super duper tight budget this year) to spend money in a more consistent manner. Target, just this week, has $4 games. That is a sale normally reserved for the early hours on Black Friday. But I was able to swing by and pick up really good games for a great price (because there is no way I could have gotten a $15 game for nieces and nephews) and I know they will be successful gifts. For me, it was getting 4 gifts for the price of 1. A good deal by anyones standards. :)

And who knows - at this rate there just may be a few bucks left over for Dakota and I to buy a gift for each other. I figured that was a lost cause this year but I'm feeling optimistic.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Christmas Card Photo Adventure

Ok seriously. I took 64 pictures to get the one decent photo. Sixty-four. And it's only "decent". *sigh*

It never seemed to fail that for the photos where Kaylen was feeling compliant, Kelton was not. And if Kelton was, Kaylen wasn't. It would have been hysterically funny had I been watching the scene unfold instead of smack in the middle of it setting and resetting the shots (and watching the hour tick by) but as it was.... not all that funny. But now...looking back over the pictures I can't help but smile. Those kids of mine are so darn goofy!

In the end though, we did finally get a decent shot (and I'm talking "the end". It was the second to the last shot we took) and I have created the card and shipped it out to the printers. Next to tackle will be the letter...unless I go the route I took last year and skip it all together. :)

And now - for your amusement....a sampling of the photos. :)

Baby Jaren

World.....this is baby Jaren.

He was born to my dear, sweet and amazing friend, Mel, on Saturday. I was lucky enough to get to see and hold him when he was about eight teeny tiny hours old.

What is it about a new baby? They smell so delicious and those little sounds they make break my heart into a trillion tiny pieces. I just held and held and held him. (Lucky for me Jeri, who went with me to meet Jaren, found him very, very warm against her so I got to hog him for a long while. Yay me! (Sorry Jeri - but Yay me! *grin*) I remember when my two were this small (well..not *this* small...mine weighed in at 9lbs each....) and oh how it makes me want to go back to those days.

After we left the hospital and I was driving home, I passed a Subway franchise and realized that would have been a perfect gift for the new mommy. Who doesn't want real food while they are in the hospital? I remember Dakota's sister brought us burgers, fries and milkshakes after Kelton was born and it was the best food EVER. After having a baby - you need to have good food.

But alas, I will still have my chance to being the new mommy food. I signed up to be one of her Helping Hands meals. So while it won't be the yummy sub sandwich it might have been, it will still be good. :)

Congratulations, Mel and family and a huge WELCOME TO THE WORLD, JAREN!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Trimming the Tree

Look what we did last night! :)
Building the tree.

Kaylen would hug the tree over and over while saying "Welcome back, Christmas tree! Welcome back!"

Looking up at the lights.

Getting ready to decorate.

With every ornament she pulled from the box she would squeal with delight "This is my new favorite ornament!"

Looking up at the lights and decorations is a huge tradition with the three of them. They will repeat this scene many, many times throughout the next few weeks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How Was It For You?

I'm guessing the title of this post grabbed your attention because... yeah - I know how you all are. :)

Sorry to disappoint. I'm speaking of your evening. How was your evening?

Want to know how mine was? Great, because that's what I'm going to tell you about. Nothing like a captive audience.

Last night was my monthly PTO meeting at Kelton's school so I fed the kids a little earlier than usual to make sure there was time to get all the house stuff done for the night. The sitter, the 13 year old niece of our high school senior sitter (who, darnit, got a real evening job), arrived at 5:45. The house was clean, the children fed and calm. We went over a list of activities that were fine (reading, computer games, real games, toys) and we went over approved snacks (cheese sticks, granola bars. yogurt drinks and yogurt tubes). While I did not specifically say what was off limits....Kelton and I had talked earlier and he knew. The rules for sitters do not change.) We said our goodbyes and I was out the door.

The meeting started at 6:00. Around 6:10 I get a text message from a friend. No biggie. I read it quickly and put the phone away. Around 6:15, my phone rang and the display showed Dakota's name. I answered with "Hey - I'm in a meeting right now and I'll call you back, ok?" No answer...which is not all that uncommon, Her phone randomly places calls to me from the inside of her pants pocket. So I hung up.

Ten minutes later, my phone rings again. Again, it shows Dakota. Figuring it was her pocket calling again (I'm telling you - it happens a lot. I'm used to it.) I flipped open the phone and then snapped it shut.

Ten minutes after that it rang again. This time it was home. I had a bit of a panic since suddenly it dawned on me that Dakota might have been calling because of an emergency. I answer quickly, as I move away from the table. It was Kelton "Mom...can I with the ummm..modeling clay." Both relief and annoyance wash over me.

"I'd rather you didn't, Kelton. You know that." (the rule is no arts and crafts with an evening sitter because they get so out of hand)


He hung up on me. Fine whatever.

I go back to the meeting.

And about 15 minutes later, my phone rings again. Ok - now it's just becoming a joke and I am feeling really awkward (and also that it is time to change my ring tone. People tend to look at you funny when Hannah Montana starts to play from your purse). I grab the phone, get up and walk to a corner of the library. It's Kelton again. I said "Kelton, you need to stop calling me. Listen to your babysitter and follow the rules. I will walk to you when I get home."

"Ok Mom. Bye."

I return to the table and finish the meeting.

As I'm leaving the parking lot I call Dakota, who is still at work studying. She had forgotten I was in a meeting and only remembered when, after the second time she called me, she called the house.

I get home.....and utter chaos awaited me. Every light in the house was on and the kids were sitting at the breakfast bar painting. PAINTING! With non-washable paint. The kitchen was a disaster. Modeling clay was everywhere. The living room was a mess. And my head was spinning.

I asked how the kids had been and got "Great." for the answer. Good enough - my head was spinning way too much for more than that. I went and got the money to pay her and told the kids to get their shoes on. She lives down at the end of the block but it was dark and raining and I knew that a 13 year old should be taken home. It's a pain though because it means getting the kids cleaned up from their painting disaster and into shoes and coats. Just as we are ready to walk out the front door, there comes a knock. The sitter's mom was coming by (for reasons I am not sure I check on her maybe? It does feel weird to have people I don't know and have never met inside with my children.). I explain that I had just gotten home and we were getting ready to take her home (it was 7:30). We made incredibly awkward small talk as I tried to usher them both out the door. It was late. The kids were up past their bedtime and I now had the house to completely clean up. I was (more than) a tad bit irritated by everything that had transpired since I walked out the door 90 minutes before.

I got things cleaned up and the kids ready for bed. Without stories, they were tucked in and the house fell quiet. It was now 8:30. Ninety minutes past their bedtime and Fifteen minutes before Dakota would be home.

I sat down and immediately got to work on my huge (did I say "huge"? I meant enormous!) To Do list for the PTO. Before that though I quickly dashed off an email to the friend who had text'd me to let her know I wasn't blowing her off and then I got to work finding information on the Scholastic Book Fair (which apparently last years PTO decided not to set is the normal thing to do so that it is always on the calendar. Last years PTO actually left us in a tough place with everything. Not one person from the parent side of the board, a many people from the teachers side, did not return this year for various reasons (moves, retirement, children moving into middle school). And in their big send off, they spent almost every penny in the account, took all the files of events and contacts, and failed to schedule the dates for things like the book fair. Needless to say, we are spending way too much energy and time "reinventing the wheel". I keep trying to convince myself that this is just a learning year for the PTO and next year we will have it all figured out. Hmmm.)

Dakota arrived home quickly after I sat down to work so I did a couple quick things and then joined her on the couch to watch Eli Stone. I was so keyed up that it took me a long while to settle down.

And then, after me being asleep for maybe an hour, Kaylen woke up screaming and crying. Dakota went in first and the screaming ramped up. She wanted me. I got in there as fast as I could (hey - a girl has to pee sometimes) but she was inconsolable. Finally she settled down enough to flip over and....she was immediately back to sleep. She has no recollection of it this morning so I am guessing it was some sort of a nightmare or night terror. From that point on though - she slept perfectly until 6am.

So...that was my night. How was yours? :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Snowman Platter

From this:

To this:

Kinda fun, don't you think? :)

Hide and Go Seek Elf Style

Jack is still a big hit around here so I thought I would show off his latest hiding spots.

Tuesday morning found Jack hanging on a picture frame on the top of the entertainment center.

By Wednesday he had moved to another picture frame but this time on the dining room table.

And this morning we found him in the kitchen perched on top the window blinds for the sliding glass door.

This is how the computer hutch (yeah yeah - it's a mess. But it's an *organized* mess so it's ok. Hee hee) normally looks in the early morning hours while Kelton is playing online games while we waits for Kaylen and I to get up (he gets up at 5.....Kaylen and I aim for 6:30. Dakota leaves for work at 6 which means he is really only on his own for 30 minutes) however the next person shows how I found him. And please note; you can see Jack atop the sliding door.
When I asked why the hutch door was like that and not tucked back behind he replied "Because I didn't want Jack watching me."

I thought that was too darn cute. :)

I wonder where we will find him tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Letter

Dear Christmas Coffee Cream Makers (Lucerne, Coffee Mate, etc);

The holiday season is upon us. I can always tell when it draws near because suddenly, next to the rows and rows of regular and specialty flavored coffee creamers, there are bottles upon bottles of seasonal flavors. First rolls in the Autumn flavors, Pumpkin Spice, etc, and then finally the Christmas flavors arrive. Each year I practically squeal in delight when I see the peppermint mocha and other wonderful flavors. I grab a few bottles and then walk/run to the coffee aisle for I know that the peppermint flavored coffee has arrived as well. And so begins Christmas for me.

I practically swoon right there in the store. I can barely stand the thought of waiting until the next morning to make my coffee, knowing that the much anticipated peppermint flavor is just sitting there waiting.

The next morning, and in fact, many mornings after that, I curl up in my favorite spot on the couch and I drink my Christmas coffee. And I know that it will be a good day.

But then.... Oh you knew there had to be a "but then".

But then I run low on my stash of creamer and I head back to the store to get more. But what to my wondering eyes is not there? You guessed it. My Christmas coffee creamer. The place is's just empty. There are still plenty of the Autumn flavors to be had but... yuck. I don't like those. I want Peppermint Mocha.

I go to a few other stores in search of it. Nothing. Places on the shelf for it to be but none to be found.

How can this be?

Let's do the math, shall we? Rows and rows of pumpkin spice and only empty rows of peppermint mocha. Do you see a workable solution? Do you?

Make more peppermint and less pumpkin!!

It's not so difficult to see, really. You have an excess of that nasty stuff and none of the good stuff. So frikkin' MAKE MORE!!!!!!

It's November 19th and for the last two weeks I have not been able to locate more peppermint creamer. SERIOUSLY??? Do you realize that this does not bode well for peppermint creamer drinkers? It's not even Thanksgiving yet people. The pumpkin spice crap should be flying off the shelf if it were really that good (and I'm not saying it's not but let's assume the shelves are speaking for themselves. No shortage there. I rest my case.).

So stop production of the autumn stuff and ramp up production of the peppermint and all other Christmas related flavors.

We go through this year after year after flippin' year. Pull your heads out and MAKE MORE!

Thank you for your time in this matter and I look forward to seeing my beloved creamers back on the shelves in abundance very soon. And oh hey - while I have your attention; it really would be ok to sell those flavors for much longer than two months. Some of us would buy them. I'm just saying.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And Speaking of Traditions....

...(which I did in the post below this one) we have already taken care of the yearly tradition of "Letters to Santa". Sunday night the kids wanted to write and send their letters to Santa. After dinner they sat at the kitchen counter and wrote out their wishes.

When the letters were finished, we popped them into envelopes, addressed and stamped them and went to the mailbox to send them on their way.

You know what they say about the early bird, right? :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

A New Tradition

This year we have a new Christmas tradition in our house; Jack, the Christmas Elf.

Last year Dakota's mom gave every family in the clan a gift of "The Elf on the Shelf". I don't know about you but Dakota and I grew up in homes that had at least one Christmas Elf in them. We didn't have the story to go along with them that Kelton and Kaylen have but I do remember several of these little guys in all the Christmas trappings. Dakota's mom had Elves as well and they were a favorite part of her Christmas memories.

Knowing how important the Elves were to Dakota and others in the family, when Dakota's mom found "The Elf on the Shelf" she bought several and gave them to everyone along with a very touching note.

And so a tradition was born.

The kids named our guy Jack and every day Jack sits somewhere in the house and watches over things. After the children are in bed, he flies off to the North Pole to give his report to Santa and then he returns to sit in a new spot for the next day. In the morning, the kids have to find him.

It's been a big hit for the past two mornings and I expect it will be for the rest of the Christmas season.

The first morning the kids found him in a wreath:

And this morning, Jack was sitting on top the hall clock:

I wonder where we will find him tomorrow. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friends, Paint and Pottery

This afternoon my friends and I got together to have a little creative fun - we went to a local pottery painting place and went a little crazy. We each picked a piece, selected our paints and got busy. There were moments of deliberate silence as we worked and moments of silly laughter - the perfect combination! I made a snowman platter, Jeri made a cupcake birthday plate and Mel made a birthday plate and two little name plates for her boys. It was a really fun afternoon hanging out with amazing friends.