Friday, December 23, 2011

Yep. That's what we are doing around here. Waiting. And waiting some more.

Kaylen, said this morning, "I can't believe Christmas is in TWO days! I've been waiting FOREVER!!"

As a mom, I have to say that the time has flown by. I'm ready though - as ready as I will be. So bring it on....let's get this party started!!! :)

Merry Christmas to you all!!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Weather Outside... actually quite nice. Cold, but clear. A perfect day. It could actually pass for summer know, if I could pretend the trees had leaves on them. Maybe, if I closed my eyes for a minute, and concentrated hard, I just might be able to hear happy children playing in the yard, or in the pool. I might be able to hear birds chirping. Maybe, in my minds eye, I would be able to see two happy dogs laying in sun patches in the grass. I could have a different set of "worries" like if I need a swimming pool fence to keep the kids safe, or trying to figure out a good time to get the lawn mowed.

But summer it is not. We are at the official start of winter. December 21st. Six more months until thoughts of swimming pools and whatnot fill my head. Right now, it's all about the Ho Ho Ho, Fa La La and how to keep bored children from spinning out of control. Kelton does better with no routine. He finds things to do. Right now he is working on building a webpage and writing a Winter Break journal. Kaylen is a tougher one. She is B.O.R.E.D. She wants to be in school, and with her friends. She has gone through so many activities today, including helping me make Peppermint Kisses. That activity alone kept us busy for over an hour and yet...10 minutes later, she was complaining about being bored again. *sigh*

I love having them home with me though- bored, or not. I love having them running around and I don't even mind the huge messes they make with their craft supplies and toys. I cherish every moment I have with them....even the moments that are hard and frustrating. :)

I wish it would snow today. And a lot. A few years ago we had so much snow this time of year - something crazy like 20 inches. It kept falling and falling and it was amazing and wonderful and magical. You know, until the ice dams caused the melting snow to seep into the ceiling in the living room...but even then, it was still magical in the world. Christmas should have snow. Plain and simple. But Christmas in the Northwest rarely does. Doesn't make me stop wishing for it though. :)

Snow would be awesome. The kids would have so much fun building snow people and we could go for snow walks. Build a fire, have hot cocoa and watch Christmas shows. As it is, this afternoon I am planning to do the whole fire, cocoa and Christmas shows thing but snow would make it that much more magical.

Let it snow. That's what I say.

In the meantime, here are some photos I took of the Peppermint Kiss making. I would share the recipe but I don't wanna. :)

YUMMY!!!!! These little things are incredibly addicting. Yum Yum Yum!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Love Is Ours

I am so loving this song!!!

"Don't you worry your pretty little mind, people throw rocks at things that shine and life makes love look hard. The stakes are high, the water is rough, but this love is ours...."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Week

Well. Here we are. Christmas week. I can hardly believe another year of life is winding down. Honestly, it doesn't so much seem like it should be nearing the end of December already. September. Yes. But no later in the year than that.

Not that anyone asked me. :)

The house is decorated and ready to go. There are gifts under the tree waiting for the big day. I have plans to make some Christmas goodies this week and then, of course, Santa cookies for Christmas Eve. As Christmas' go, this is a fairly simple one and that's fine by me.

In the days after Christmas, the five of us will be traveling to Seattle for Christmas with my family. I've been a little stressed over how all our stuff, gifts and us will fit in the car (not to mention the gifts coming back!) but I also know it always seems to work out. It's times like these I think "An RV would be good. It would have enough room." But alas, no RV in my future which, of course means, I don't have to worry about rv insurance. So all in all...that's a good thing. :)

Christmas. Fa la la la la and all that. My emotions go back and forth - I'm wishing it was over and I'm trying to soak it all in. Christmas, as an adult, sure isn't the same as Christmas as a child. So I'm doing all I can to make sure my children have a great, memory-worthy Christmas. Lots of fun, laughter and family. Because it's not about what's UNDER the tree. It's about who you have to celebrate with.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Something Monumental, This Way Comes

No. Seriously, you guys. THIS is monumental news. In my world, I call it earth shaking. In'd probably call it every day life.

Are you ready?

No, really. Are you sitting down?

Ok well - if you aren't, you have no one to blame but yourself when you fall over.

Here goes:

I COOKED. Twice this week. And I don't mean kid-friendly, pop it in the microwave cooking. I've been doing *that* for years. I also don't mean "Oh look! I boiled water and added pasta." Again, I've been doing that for years.

I mean honest to goodness COOKED. Meat, no less. With side dishes to know...make a well-balanced, honest to God, meal. With meat.

Yes, that nasty smelling, raw stuff. I cooked it and.......Kelton ate it and LIKED IT! Holy moly Batman -alert the authorities.

As a rule, in my previous life, I would say "Oh - I don't cook." and well, it was true. But in recent months....say....possibly 11 or 12 months, I have very slowly and carefully started learning how to cook. I had the basics down before: Omelette's? Mine rocked. Scrambled eggs? Perfection! Banana bread? Off the charts freakin' fantastic! My grandmother's Mac-n-Cheese? Oh yes - I can rock that really well, too. I even ventured into the land of homemade gluten-free stuffing for Thanksgiving. (and I have learned to cook a wicked good stuffed hash browns and eggs over medium, too!)

But "meals"? Rarely. And meat? NEVER.

Tonight though.....without benefit of a miller welding helmet, I made hamburger patties with melted cheese. The other night? Shake-n-Bake chicken. Side dishes? Yes, thank you very much.

And both nights, I purposely walked outside for a few minutes just so I could walk back in and smell the amazing aroma of food that I, myself, had cooked. I'm telling you, I am very proud of myself. I not only cooked meat but I TOUCHED it. And if you know me, you know there is precious little that grosses me out more than touching raw meat.

I am so proud of me.

Yeah - I know. A regular day in most of your lives but for me - HUGE! :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Today I wanted to do fun Christmas things with the kids as this is the last weekend before Christmas that they will be with me (though thankfully, I do have them with me during Christmas break - which I am VERY happy about. I love having this special time with them even when it is patience-trying. *grin*). I had a few "have to's" to get done but I also sprinkled in some fun into the errands. And I arranged for my friend, Cande, and her two girls to come over for Christmas cookie making. We picked up some firewood, cookie making supplies and a Christmas movie (Jack Frost). We even grabbed some McDonald's (the first time I've taken them to McDonalds in about ummmmm....six months. Wow!) after we finished our running around.

We came home and ate while we started watching Jack Frost. After lunch, I built a nice fire and made the living room cozy. We love fires in the fireplace but we only seem to have them when the Christmas tree is up. Ah tradition!

After the movie, I went to work finding all the cookie cutters and getting things ready. The kids helped me straighten up (and Kelton did a GREAT job cleaning the bathroom!) and then, while we waited for our friends to arrive, we wrapped the gifts for the Seattle cousins.

Finally our friends arrived and the fun was off and running! The four kids get wild and crazy when they are around each other and Cande and I try to not lose our minds. :) The kids (with help) rolled out the dough and used the cookie cutters to create their cookies. We baked their creations and cleaned up the mess while they all ran off to play. When the cookies were cool, we called them in for round two of the messy fun.

Oh my! The fun that was had. At one point, we were all laughing so hard it was hard to breathe. Kelton was using so much red gel stuff that when the tube started running low, it made "farting" sounds. Could it be any more hysterical for a 10, 9, 6 and 4 year old? No. No it could not be. :)

After the cookie making, the little girls pulled out Let's Dance for the Wii and went crazy. Oh my!!! So cute!

All in all, we had a great Christmas-y day! And now, as the hours of the day dwindle, we are all snuggled on my bed watching Frosty Returns. It's been a good day!!

December Fun

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Oh How I Hate 3AM

I was exhausted last night. I've been running a low grade fever for a few days (probably due to my syringomyelia since I don't feel sick at all) and by 6pm last night, I could barely keep my eyes open. I made it to 8:30 and then tucked the children into their beds. I watched a half hour of TV and then shut off the light, sinking down onto my pillow with a happy sigh. Only.....sleep didn't come. As it does in the dark of night, my mind started racing with worries and whatnot. Finally around 11, I dozed off.

At 3, Jordan woke me by jumping down off Kaylen's bed (where he sleeps). I sleep incredibly lightly - which sucks for me but which is also good when you have an old dog. I let Jordan outside and stood in the open door, as the freezing air swirled around me, for a good 10 minutes as I encouraged Jordan to do what he needed to do. He is old and I swear he has a bit of dementia. He peed a few times (yes - you read that right) and then convinced me with his sad eyes that he was done.

I let him back in and helped him back up on Kaylen's bed.

No more sleep for me though. The stresses and worries hit me like a ton of bricks. I watched the clock go from 3:15 to 4:25 to 4:40 and then..I drifted off. 5am and Jordan's awake again. I put him outside AGAIN (because I know he needs to poop) and again I play the "GO!" game with him to no avail. Ten minutes later, I give up and in he comes. He and I go back to our beds. This time I drift off in about 15 minutes......

He's up again at 5:30. I put him outside AGAIN and then I give up and feed him. I put him outside again and he just stands on the patio for several minutes and just stares at me. I sigh and let him in.

We walk back to the bedrooms and.........HE POOPS ON THE FLOOR! SERIOUSLY?????????

I haven't slept for more than a wink and a nod since Three-Freaking-O'Clock and at 5:45 he poops on the floor?!??!?!?!?! He had been outside FOUR times!

So let's recap, shall we? I slept from 11-3 which is 4 hours.....add in *maybe* 30 more minutes and you get a whopping 4.5 hours of sleep. And I wish I could say this was a rarity. But it is not.

Any wonder why I fall apart emotionally every few weeks?!?!


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Gifts Under the Tree

Ask and ye shall receive.

Kaylen wanted gifts, wrapped and pretty, under the tree, so I made that wish come true. The kids are with Dakota this weekend and, since I had nothing to do this morning, I ran out and bought some tape (we go through tape like it's water. The kids LOVE using tape), came home, pulled out the gifts and started wrapping.

Instead of putting on something Christmas-y to watch, I turned on an episode of Tori and Dean's Home Sweet Hollywood because well....I could. :)

I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped and soon it was done. Well...not all of it. I left the cousin gifts for Kaylen to help me with. She loves to wrap. I put a couple gifts for each other the kids, and our gifts for Stephanie and Andrew, under the tree. The gifts joined the presents that my grandmother sent down for us.

I have to say, Kaylen was right. The tree just looks prettier with gifts under it.


I was just thinking the other day how there used to be so many musical instruments in my house. I had two guitars. Dakota had two guitars. For a while I had an electric guitar but I never really played it so I consigned it. We never had gretsch guitars but we did have a djembe and various other percussion devices. Kelton even had a drum set, not to mention to other music sets that are well known for toddlers and preschoolers.

When Kelton was born, we uprooted ourselves and moved 3.5 hours south. At that time, I decided to let my guitars go since I never played them (and honestly, with a baby, my hands were quite full). We moved everything else with us. The toddler set was outgrown eventually, though it still does reside in the garage and Kaylen will pull it out every so often to play with it. The rest? It all moved out when Dakota did and now resides with her. Including Kelton's drum set. She has a basement and had room for it, so it just made sense.

I find, at times, I miss having music producing items around. I will, at times, briefly think about how much I miss playing my guitar. But the truth is, I wouldn't play it. I have too many other things I want to do with my time. It was great though, in days gone by, to just pick up the case, pull it out and start making music.

Music is good. But for now, the radio will have to do. :)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December 1st

My Facebook post today went a little like this: "Wow. December. Again. How?"

And yes, that is how I am feeling. How in the world can it be December again already? Sometimes I can hear my grandmother's voice saying "Stop trying to speed things up. Just wait. The older you get, the faster time will go."

Score one for Grandma. She sure nailed that one.

Right now, my life is threatening to overwhelm me. Yes, again. Maybe it's still. I don't know. But whatever the case, there it is. The day to day, while certainly enough to keep me busy and wondering how I will get it all done, isn't so bad. It's the emotional parts that get me. And this time of year? It's filled with emotional parts. Let's not forget my posting from December 1, 2009. The holidays? They are definitely NOT what they used to be. But they are what I choose to make it so I'm trying. God knows I'm trying.

Kaylen wants to know why I haven't wrapped their gifts and put them under the tree yet. After all, she says, trees are prettier with presents under them. Touche, young one, touche. I told her I just haven't had time yet. Maybe I will wrap a couple things this weekend and slide them under there as a surprise for when they come back home Sunday. I just don't want them to get used to looking at the few things I have for them and thinking "That's it?" because yes, that is it. From me, at least. Santa will have something for each of them. Dakota and Vicki will have some for them. Stephanie will have a gift for each. Other family gifts will be received at family gatherings.

I still need to find a way to let them know there will be no Christmas stocking for me this year. I've been working on the know, money problems across the world so Santa is asking parents if it is ok if he skips filling their stocking this year so that there is more for the kids. I don't know. I'm wishing like heck we never let them believe that Santa fills Mommy's stocking too. *sigh* But that's life. It won't always be like this but it is what it is.

I don't have a lot of questions about what to get people in my life this year because there isn't money for that. Pictures of the kids just might have to do. On one hand, it's kind of nice to not have to worry about things like "what is the best ps3 game to get someone" or "Gosh - will they like this thing I found for them?" On the other sucks. My biggest worry is the kids. Which is what my biggest worry should be - and has been.

It's hard - this time of year. Yesterday I spent a few good hours under my covers coming out to brave the world at either end to take care of kids and chores and whatnot. I don't regret taking some hours to hide. I find there are just days I need to hide. And cry. Licking my wounds, as it were, for a few hours (maybe a day or two) here and there help me get back to facing the world.

And facing the world is something I always get back to.

Ready. Or not.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jack is Back!

The morning after Thanksgiving, Jack made his big reappearance in the house. The kids were thrilled, and mystified, because I hadn't left his box out for him to escape from. How, then, did he make it all the way to the fireplace mantle?

Christmas magic.

They decided that he must have spent the time we were gone on Thanksgiving Day getting out of his box, figuring how to crawl out of the plastic Christmas decoration bin, and get into the house from the garage. The theories were flying around and I kept shrugging my shoulders and saying "I don't know. It must be Christmas magic." (Jack and his box live in my closet all year long so I know exactly where to find him when I need him. The kids do not know this.)

But where was his book? The one that tells the story of Elf on the Shelf? Again, I said "I don't know." (All the while kicking myself for not putting it out. What can I say? It was past midnight and I was tired and not thinking clearly the night I pulled him out.)

The excitement of it all was too darn cute.

A couple days later, the book "magically" appeared next to him as he sat perched on Santa's shoulder.

Every morning, the first thing the kids say is "I need to go find Jack!" and they race off. Kelton, usually up first, will find him and then wait and not say anything. Then Kaylen will go and search for him when she gets up. It's the best part of the morning.

I have to say, Jack the Elf is one of my favorite things about the Christmas season. It's just the right amount of magic sprinkled into every day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Post Thanksgiving Post

Thanksgiving turned out to be an amazing day. I will freely admit that I was apprehensive about Thanksgiving, given that I think I have a wee bit of post traumatic stress over the whole thing. I finally spilled all my fears and concerns with Stephanie and, after a very reassuring conversation, I felt better. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever learn to spill my innermost thoughts *before* they rob me of sleep and inner peace and contentment. Oh sure - I have a million reasons why I keep stuff bottled up but really? Once they are out in the open, I usually feel much better. That whole moral support, love and understanding thing, don't ya know. :)

I won't tell you that all my anxiety was magically gone after opening up but I no longer had the urge to hid under the covers until it was over. I was still awake most of the nights fretting about this, that or the other. No rhyme or reason to my fretting - it was open season for my fears and insecurities.

Anyway.....Thanksgiving Day dawned and we were off and running. Kaylen and I got down to business and made gluten free stuffing and the kids broke out all sorts of craft projects to keep themselves busy. Dakota and Vicki stopped by on their way out of town and made cinnamon rolls with the kids and hung out for about an hour.

After that, the kids and I packed up the car and headed over to Stephanie's were we spent 11 hours hanging out, eating, playing games and laughing so hard our sides hurt. Apples to Apples and Uno brought hours of good times. Too soon, it was time to head home and put the kiddos to bed. Kelton was thrilled to see the clock change to midnight and then sleepily called out "Happy Black Friday!" Silly child. :)

For some reason, I was awake at 5:30 and the kids were up by 7:30. Needless to say, we had a come to Jesus meeting about being nice to each other and using nice tones and words to help us all get through a day on very little sleep.

Kelton was dying to see what Black Friday was all about. Kaylen and I were content to stay in and decorate the tree is all about compromise so we all got ready and headed over to Fred Meyer so Kelton could, in his words, "experience his first ever Black Friday that he could remember." I had told him that we used to take him with us when he was a baby but once he got big enough to know what we were getting for him, we stopped and then Dakota and I took turns going out to shop.

The only reason I truly agreed to go out in the craziness today was that Kelton has destroyed three pair of his jeans in the past couple weeks and he really did need more. I knew they would be on a heck of a sale today. And they were. I got two pair of jeans for $9.99 each (regular price $24.99 each)! The kids sweet talked me into buy one game, get one free so they came home with electronic Scrabble and Uno Attack. I had a hard time saying yes but games are something they are needing since they have outgrown Candy Land, Monoploy Jr., 5 Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, and the other games for very young children. was a hard decision for me and I'm still not sure I made the best call. (The games are fun though!)

After coming out of Fred Meyer alive and well, we came back home and worked on setting up the Christmas tree.

Once that was done, Kaylen and I headed outside to put up a few outside decorations. Sadly, I am unable to get up my favorite decoration since I can't figure out how to get it where it needs to go. I could have cried when I realized I just couldn't do it but - that's life, I guess. I may figure out a way yet but for today, I put it back in its box in the garage.

Kaylen and I came back inside and I made her hot chocolate, since she really wanted some. I think it's cute - she equates hot chocolate with Christmas decorating and Kelton equates egg nog. Sadly, I didn't have egg nog on hand and we decided to skip trying to get it at Fred Meyer since it was insane in there. I really wish we had had some.

From there, I changed my sheets, caught up on laundry, and straightened things up.

And now? I. Am. Exhausted. And my back is killing me.

But as always, it is worth it all just to see the happy smiles on my kids faces as they pulled out decorations and played the "remember when" game. For a while, I just stood back, watched, and listened to them. It was awesome. I love that they are old enough to oooh and aaaah over everything.

Life is good.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Snow and Ocean

It was a child-free weekend so when a shop in Seaside called to let Stephanie know that something she had ordered had arrived, it was a quick decision on her part to make a weekend of it and pick it up personally instead of paying for shipping. And who am I to ever turn down a trip to the beach?

The only glitch was the weather. Snow was predicted in the higher elevations (and since I live "on the valley floor", snow is a rarity in my yard but does happens more often out where Stephanie lives). We kept an eye on the weather all week and decided to go ahead and go on Saturday morning, knowing if it got bad, we could turn around.

Off we went. And we did great...not a flake in sight until about 1100ft up the mountain pass. Oh but it was beautiful! However, we all know snow in the mountains can go from beautiful to disastrous in a heartbeat.

Up, up we went. When we hit 1650 ft elevation the roads were very slick but we kept going, moving slowing in the snake-like line of cars. I slide a bit just moving forward. The brakes (which are clearly NOT anti-lock) locked and slid. I recovered control and kept creeping along.

Stephanie fed me encouragement (I'm not a fan of snow driving but turning around wasn't so much an option since it was too slick to try and towns/turn arounds are few and far between up there) and soon enough we started our downward descent. The elevation ticked lower and lower. The snow became all but non-existent and then gone. Twenty-one miles from the coast we were out of the snow and home free!!

We plotted out the best time to make our return trip the next day. The warmest part of the day...and hopefully the sand trucks and plows we passed would have done their job to make the roads safer. And time to drive as slow as we needed.

Thoughts of ice and snow soon left our minds as we turned onto the road to take us to the oasis we both love. We stopped in town and had a late lunch and then went to pick up the item that Stephanie had ordered. From there, we checked into the hotel and settled in.

It was awesome! It was cold and amazing and refreshing. Stephanie even put on long pants which is something I've witnessed only once before. She is a shorts kind of girl - no matter the weather. We walked around a bit and then went back to the room to watch the ocean in all its glory with our slider open, the heat and fireplace going. It was fantastic!

We ventured outside a few times for short jaunts and then ordered room service (appetizers and dessert because those are the best part of the meal!) and settled in to watch some TV before calling it a day.

The next morning, we headed out for coffee and a walk and were properly rewarded with a sight I have never before seen: frost on the sand! It was incredible...and beautiful!

When we checked out, the desk clerk joked "So we'll see you next month?" because well...we have been to the beach three time in six weeks and the desk staff recognizes us... and I said "No - probably not until spring because of the snow and ice in the mountains." He asked where we are from and then gave me directions to an alternate route which avoids the mountains, thereby giving us the freedom to head to the beach whenever we want all winter long. :) Sure - it's a longer route but only by about 30 minutes and it makes us both feel better to know we aren't "land locked" for the next 5 months. Options are always good.

There is one thing we both have come to realize (well - I've always known it but Stephanie now understands it and has come to need it as much as I); the fresh air, the beach and the ocean centers us, refuels us and let's us find out balance in the game of life.

Balance is good. And time to just be "us" is vital and something we don't get near enough of.