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 but.....life 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. Still....it 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.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 Minutes of Good Wholesome Values

Kelton has discovered (or should I say re-discovered it. He watched it a couple years ago, too.) "Full House". You know, the series from...umm..what? The late 80's and early 90's? Oh wait. I have Google. I can check. Just a sec.....


Anyhoo.......Kelton was watching it and I was listening to it from the kitchen this morning while I made breakfast for the children. The theme music slowly started to play which, as we all know, signals the story wrap-up and the lessons therein. I felt wistful....longing for the days when I believed, or simply knew no better, that all the worlds problems could be fixed in 30 short minutes (minus commericals....so really what? 20 minutes?).

The cynic I've become rolled my eyes and thought "Yeah. Like it's that easy." but then, within almost the same heartbeat, I thought "I'm glad the kids are watching wholesome shows with good morals and values."

I wish they would bring back some of the other shows from my growing up years and put them in the channels the kids are watching (and not in the middle of the night). Growing Pains, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Facts of Life, etc. A good, healthy dose of morals and values instead of the crap they call "kid friendly TV" now.

Rock on, Joey and Uncle Jesse, rock on!

Now I just want a way to solve all my problems in 30 minutes. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is It Really Only Wednesday?

It's been a crazy week. I feel like I say that a lot. I do, don't I? Well - it HAS been and the kicker is, it's only half way through. Half way. That just feels like the Universe is being mean. *sigh* (But then there is the whole "wishing my life away" which I absolutely do not want to do. Time is going fast enough, thankyouverymuch.)

Regular every day stuff plus medical appointments (don't get me started), plus PTO stuff, plus holiday stuff, plus...plus...plus. I am feeling very much like I haven't sat down to relax in days. Even my sleep is filled with anxiety over all I have on my plate right now.

You know what I really, really want to do? No - it's not help the kids hang their bazillion Disneyland photos all over their walls (though I am doing that.....not sure whose idea that was. I'm thinking photos, neatly presented in a photo album, would have been the way to go. Since that ship sailed, I'm thinking Dakota helping to remove the bazillion photos when the time comes (you know, *before* the tape degrades and leaves residue on the walls) would be good. (Yep - that's a BIG hint. I know you are reading this. *grin*). No - it's not making dinner (which I have to come up with soon). Nope - not even folding the laundry that is begging for attention. Guess again...it's not even breaking up the fight that is erupting over the roll of tape for hanging photos.
What I would like to do, more than anything right now, is pull out some comfy winter pajamas, curl up with a couple body pillows under my nice fluffy comforter and flip on the TV. Tune out the world, my responsibilities and my worries.

I said it is what I would LIKE to do....sadly, it isn't even close to what I am GOING to do. Nope - that would be taking care of the various needs and desires of my children, laundry, dinner, dishes, straightening, etc. The list is long. It always is.

And I'm tired. I always am. :) I've been tired since 2001 when the stick changed colors to show Kelton was on his way and there is no sign of that changing.

Nor would I want it to change....truth be told.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Raise Your Hand

Raise your hand high in the air if you have my blog listed on your blog reader feed or click through from Facebook!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Falling Leaves

The leaves are falling like crazy. Need proof? Ok - but it will come in the form of written proof. I'm just too lazy to go make a movie, upload it, find a host for it and then post it. :)

I present Exhibit A:
Friday the kids and I spent an hour raking up the leaves in the front yard and putting the piles into yard waste bags. From there, we loaded the bags into the car and drove down the street to empty the bags into the huge container which the city provides one weekend a year for leaf collection (I live in a VERY leafy neighborhood). Yes, the kids jumped in the massive amount of leaves in the container until I told them we had to leave. (HA! Leave...leaves...leaf....funny! I think I'm starting to lose it. *grin*)

Then, we went home. I put the rakes away and folded up the bags and put them away for the next time. It was starting to sprinkle. I closed up the garage, went into the house and folded a load of laundry.

The next time I looked out the window I saw that the rain, and leaves, were falling hard and the yard was *covered* in brightly colored leaves. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?!?!

I mentioned the wind to the kids and they stood up to look out the window. Kelton looked at me with a defeated look on his face and said "Why did we even bother to do all that work?"

I have no clue, buddy. None.


I love fall, I love fall, I love fall.

Just trying to remind myself. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011


It's November 11th which means, besides Veteran's Day, it's time to deck the halls.

Oh stop cringing. If you had holiday crazed kids, you do it, too. :)

Yesterday afternoon Kelton decided he was brave enough to get up into the garage attic to retrieve the Christmas boxes. The high schooler that I have been paying to do things like this sprained his knee and has to have it immobilized for two weeks. The kids wanted no part of waiting two weeks and well...I don't blame them. So Kelton gathered his courage and hoisted himself into attic.

I have a 6 ft ladder but it's a good 2 feet more to the ceiling - which is a good sized leap of faith for a 9 year old. More so for coming down than going up.

Very proudly, he worked and worked and pulled the bins to the edge of the opening so I could grab them and pull them down. We got everything and then it was time for him to come down.

He freaked out. I tried to talk him through it - told him I was right there and I wouldn't let him fall (knowing full well it was quite possible we would both end up hurt but no good would come from telling him that). Nothing doing. I called a neighbor to see if she had a taller ladder. She didn't. She suggested calling another neighbor but I really didn't want to. I tried with Kelton again. Still nothing doing.

I went out on the driveway and saw the son of one of my other neighbors (the one the first neighbor suggested I call) so I yelled out asking if his dad was home. Casey popped his head out from where he was in the yard and I quickly explained my situation and over he came. See...Casey is a firefighter so rescuing is something he is trained to do. Thank goodness.

He climbed up the ladder, explained to Kelton what he would do, talked him into getting on his tummy and sliding towards the exit. Kelton did as instructed and with seconds, he had his feet on the floor.

He and I were both very relieved.

We gave our thanks, and Casey headed home. It sure is good to have neighbors who are looking out for the kids and I. It really does help me feel safer here alone with them. I have good neighbors and I am very thankful for that.

So - this morning, the kids and I brought in a box at a time and they happily and excitedly unpacked everything. The "OH WOW! Remember THIS?" flew about. I stood back and let them go at it. They decided where they wanted things (a lot of stuff has had a regular "home" for their entire lives so they put much of it in the places I would have) and I just let them have at it. I wish I could say I felt the excitment, but I didn't. I had hoped that would be different this year. It isn't. I talked with Stephanie a bit ago and lamented how I was feeling so she and I are going to try hard to create some new memories together. I think that will help because right now, I feel very much like I have a blank slate and just need to start over.

I nixed some of the stuff and either got it ready to donate, put it aside for Dakota, or just put it away for another year. Many of the things my grandmother gave me, or made, is put away. I just wasn't feeling it this year and well...as it turns out, you really CAN have too many needlepoint decorations hanging around.

I pulled out the Santa photos and a few other Christmas portraits and put those up. I have to say, the kids Santa pictures and portraits are probably my favorite decorations. I love seeing how they were and how they have changed. The memories flood in; first Christmas', second Christmas'.... My favorite photo of all is the one of the two of them when Kaylen was 22 months old. She was having a FIT over Santa and we had to take her shoes off because she kept kicking him. It's hysterical! Dakota thought I was mean for making her do it but I knew that A) she wouldn't remember and B) it would be an awesome photo to have. I was so right. :)

You know you want to see it. :)

Santa freaked her out for years! In another photo (the next year's) Santa had to sneak in behind the kids, as they sat on a bench, so he could even be in the photo. The poor man had made the tragic error of walking into the room prior to the photo and Kaylen saw him. After the photo, he had to sneak back out of the room and hide from her. I'm pretty sure everyone there that day remembers the epic freak out. I have to say though, Santa and his staff handled it like pros!

So - the house is decorated. The kids would have loved to put the tree up today but no way am I going to trip over a tree taking up half the living room for 6 weeks. I'll pull it out and set it up with them the first week in December. Besides - it gives us something to look forward to.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Loving this song...and all it means

We'll do it all
On our own

We don't need
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
and just forget the world?

I don't quite know
How to say
How I feel

Those three words
Are said too much
They're not enough

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden
that's bursting into life

Let's waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden
that's bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes,
they're all I can see

I don't know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things
will never change for us at all

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
and just forget the world?

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Weekend

Friday morning, after the kids had gone to school and before Stephanie left for work and I got down to the brass tacks about my day, we were talking about the weekend (child-free) and what we wanted to do. We decided on dinner and a movie and even went so far as to pin down the movie time. Then, out of the blue, a seagull flew above us and a conversation about seagulls, stormy weather and the beach took flight. Stephanie looked up the weather in Seaside and said "It's cold and rainy in Seaside." I said something flip like "Well....at least we aren't there getting wet and cold." Of course, anyone who really knows me knows I would rather be wet and cold and at the beach then just about any other place on earth.

She looked at me. Long and hard. I could see the wheels spinning. I asked what she was thinking and finally, she said "Let's go to the beach."

My head started spinning. It's not as easy as just picking up and leaving. There is a dog sitter to arrange, reservations to make, a run down of my To Do list to go over. Could we pull this off?

I said "I don't know if we can." Which was met with "Call the pet sitter. Please?"

I did. No answer. Called the other one. Left a message. No promises, I said.

She left for work and I promised to call when I knew something.

I got ready to go to the school to work on the current fundraiser when the phone started ringing. Pet sitter #1. She would be happy to stay with the animals. I called the hotel. No ocean front rooms since it was a big convention weekend but they had a loft room with a view. I booked it. I called Stephanie: we were on!

I ran to the school and got done what I needed. I came back home and cleaned, organized and pack for myself as well as the children for their weekend with Dakota. I was knee deep is "have to's" when a text arrived from Stephanie. She was very excited about leaving and could we go early? I wasn't sure. I called Dakota with a plan of dropping the kids at her house on the way through Portland. She was very agreeable. I wrote back to Stephanie and plans moved forward.

Kids arrived home from school and I told them of the plans. We organized their stuff and then waited for Stephanie to arrive from work. She had to swing by her house to get some stuff and arrived around 4pm. We packed the car, jumped in it and started on our way.

We dropped the kids off and as they settled in, Stephanie and I hit the road. Because of the time, and the fact that we were just ahead of rush hour, we made good time getting through Portland and out on the Sunset Highway.

It didn't take long at all (of course, great conversation really does pass time quickly) and we were pulling into Seaside. We stopped and had dinner at the Pig 'n Pancake and then off to check into our hotel.

It was one of those perfect weekends. Our own time schedule (or lack thereof) and lots of time for holding hands, walking, talking, dreaming and scheming.

I have discovered lately....or rather, rediscovered, my love of photography. It's been years since I really picked up the camera for anything other than photos of the kids and I really had a great time this weekend getting some really amazing shots. I clearly need to look through the camera lens more often. :)

It was an absolutely perfect weekend that was totally spur of the moment. A great way to celebrate a year of loving.

Monday, Monday

Dear Zip,

I know you love me. I know that you truly appreciate when, at 5AM, I slide open the sliding glass door in my bedroom and leave it open a bit so you can come and go as you enjoy the your early morning stroll about the neighborhood. I know this. Truly I do.

This means, of course, that there is no need to thank me with a dead bird in my doorway and feathers scattered down the hallway.

Really. No gifts are necessary. I do what I do for you out of the kindness of my heart......and yes, my desire for a bit more sleep. See...letting you out means I can drift in and out of sleep for another hour without you climbing on my head, batting at the picture frames on the wall, knocking over stacks of books from my dresser or stealing small objects and hiding them goodness knows where. I guess you could say you don't need to thank me AT ALL because letting you outside to roam has completely selfish motives on my part.

So stop with the dead birds, k?

It's yucky. And sad. And definitely not what I want to wake up to on a Monday morning.

Your Human Mom

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

My New BFF's

Ok - so I'll just ruin the suspense for you - I don't have new best "people" friends. That would be way too radical for me. You know, I prefer the few close friends I have because, as I have found out in life, too many friends leave you wide open for hurts too many to mention. I went the "big circle of friends" route and learned that it isn't for me. Close friends, few in numbers, are what works best in real life for me. Judge if you want ....I don't care. :)

Anyway.....the exciting part about my new friends is that they rock. They will help me get healthier and feel better. Almost like a work-out buddy...only not so sweaty. :) This, in addition to the added walking I am trying to put in place on a regular basis, is going to help me be my best "me".

Behold my new friends:

Yes, people....they are water cups WITH STRAWS! I know, I know...I am a million years behind the trend but I'm trending now, aren't I? :) For the past couple of years, I have gazed longingly at this type of cup but I could never force myself to hand over the cold, hard cash. They are, after all, just cups. With lids and straws.

I had a metal water bottle. I had glasses. I had water. I could drink as much water as I wanted. I didn't need no stinkin' water cup with a straw.


I'm such a fool.

Glasses of liquid don't work in my house. They get left on the coffee table, knocked over and/or ignored. They don't travel well from location to location as I move about the house. Actual metal water bottles are hard for me. The pop tops make for weird suction and if I have the screw top ones, it seems like too much trouble. Plastic water bottles? Forget it. Rarely have them. I mean...I *HAVE* filtered water, glasses and metal water bottles, right? Yeah but......the water rarely got inside me.

Which is crazy because I love water. It was clearly just too much trouble.

Last week, on my stolen beach days with Stephanie, I found a really cute water cup WITH A STRAW and I thought to myself "Screw it! I'm getting it!" Then I found an even cuter one...for less money. So I bought that one, too.

Then the fun began. I washed them and filled one up and BAM! Within seconds, the entire cup full was inside me. WHOA! Where did the water go? I refilled and BAM! Again!

Ah ha! These weren't splurge purchases! I had just made an investment in my health and well-being. (Yep - I can rationalize it any way I want. It has me drinking water...and a LOT of water all day long! I'm good with it.)

And ever since that fateful day, when water cups with straws entered my life, I have consumed more water than coffee (which is HUGE, thankyouverymuch). I have consumed so much water that I fear my poor water filter is going to flash red any day now to tell me it needs to be changed. But it's worth it. Water is good for me. I am drinking it all the live long day. Seriously. It's 6:30pm and I just sucked down another TWO cups. (I'll be peeing all night but I don't care....you now...until 2:00 in the morning when I'm silently cursing my new cups.)

And I really, really, really love my water cups with straws. :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

October Photos

Just a few minutes ago, I decided to download the pictures from this past weekend from my regular camera so I thought "What the heck...let me bore the people with pictures of my life."

No need to thank me. It's just a special service I provide for you. Because, you know, I'm like that. :)

Kaylen (with an appearance of a neighbor friend) in the leaves:

Carving Pumpkins and other fun:

Balancing books on her head....you know, like a princess. :)

This says "Kelton loves you so much." He was so proud of it - and it made my heart soar! :)

Kaylen with the dogs. Who knows what they were up to. She must have had some food. Kelton took this one. :)

Some more from last night.....because, you know, I think I have the cutest kids in the world. :)

And finally - the decorations. While sparse in numbers this year, I was still deliriously happy to pack them away this morning. :)

So there you have it....the last few days of October all wrapped up neatly in photos. :)

You're welcome. :)