Monday, June 29, 2009

The Joys of Country Living

Along with the sweet fragrance of a variety of grasses and wildflowers, the coolness of the gentle breeze, and the pleasure of absolute quiet, there are a few other joys to be had here in the country.

When we shower, the pipes let out a high-pitched whine until the water reaches full pressure. When I took my first shower here, I kept hearing the familiar whine, but it would stop and start instead of gradually dissipating. Weeee. . . stop. . . weeeee. . . .stop. . . . weee. . . . stop. Finally I heard Evan, who had climbed up on the sink, who said, "Mom, why does it make this noise when I turn the water on and off?" Little stinker was stealing my water pressure.

We have to drive at least 5 miles to get to a grocery store that is only about the size of the first floor of my house (and my house isn't very big). If we want to get to a real grocery store, we have to drive about 30 miles, and even then, it doesn't hold a candle to the great and mighty Meijer. To get to a Super-WalMart type place, or even a real mall, it's an 80-mile trek.

The only internet available to my parents for under $100 / month (which is what you have to pay for Satellite - ain't no cable around these parts) is turtle-speed dial up because a little Mom & Pop shack in town has the monopoly on local internet access.

The local newspaper highlights such things as where Fred and Myrtle went for vacation this summer (seriously).

To get drinking water, we have to fill jugs from the well at the pump. This isn't exactly a necessity, it's just that no one cares for the taste of soft water. But the idea does add to the charm of country living.

I can cash a check at the local bank without having to provide identification because "I look like my mom."

It's a sweet-and-sour mix of inconvenience and slow-paced country living, but I'd take this lifestyle over the "big city" any day!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sleeping pills aren't for wimps

I have yet to meet a sleeping pill I didn't hate. Of course, I'm not exactly the connoiseur of sleeping pills, I just happen to know that every sleeping pill (and in this category, I include Benadryl and Vicodin) I've ever taken has given me a major hangover. I am still getting accustomed to my CPAP machine, so my sleep doctor recommended I take a very low dose of a prescription medication called Zolpidem, just to help me fall asleep faster with the mask on my face. I asked him if it would make me drowsy the next day or if it could possibly lead to addiction, and he gave me a resounding "No" on both counts.

Yeah, right, he's full of it. I've used it for 3 nights in a row, and every day I have awakened feeling like a zombie, and as a few little "extra"perks, it gives me a nasty headache (the kind where it feels like all the fluid in my brain has disappeared and my brain is just sitting there like a hard, heavy lump in the base of my skull), AND maybe this is just coincidence, but I have had severe anxiety dreams. Here's a sample: I'm walking through an amusement park and the rides are all about to hit me, and then I'm trying to find my husband because I don't know how to get home by myself, but I can't find him so I start yelling out for him at the top of my lungs, and the next thing I know I'm at home with a mob of neighbors at my front door threatening me with violence if I don't turn down my loud music and I still can't find my husband who has some magic combination to turn it down.

Yeah, right, no side effects, uh-huh, right.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vain much?

So I'm back in da Yoop visiting my family. The post about the beauty and serenity will have to wait because for now I gotta tell you how vain I am. I spent the last 2 days - solid - packing for 6 people to spend 10 days at Grandma's house, which is no small undertaking, considering not only do we need clothes, but a plethora of medications, swim paraphernalia (since we're only 20 minutes from Lake Michigan), blankies, pillows, stuffed animals and snacks for the 8-hour trip, and of course, our wii. I didn't miss a thing!

When we rolled in around 12:30 last night / this morning, I grabbed the bathroom bag just so I could get in a quick toothbrushing before collapsing in to bed. (At least I didn't have to do the driving this time - I left that to my hubby, who had already put in a full workday. But it takes a lot of energy to be a backseat driver.) But the needed toiletry bag was nowhere in sight. Too tired - I did the finger toothbrush thing and figured I'd find it in the morning.

No such luck - I emptied the entire bathroom bag and could NOT find the stinkin' sack containing all my most treasured possessions - makeup, contacts, earrings, and my mini shaver. And oh, no, the tweezers just won't do the trick when it comes to my beard and mustache, but that's a topic for yet another post. I was really ticked off. How on earth did I leave that stupid thing behind??? I know, like I know, like I know I packed it!!! Hey, maybe this would be a good chance for me to work on taking vanity down a notch. I could still have a peaceful, joyful, happy vacation without having to look like a supermodel. Hah! Like that ever happens - I just wanted to look like a live human being.

Well, God saved me from humility boot camp. I eventually found my beloved toiletry bag. Maybe I should give this preoccupation with appearance a little more consideration, though. Maybe after vacation. . . .

BUT I still got a good check on my vanity after all. My husband and kids were getting ready to go to Church while I was taking a nap this afternoon. When I got up, I was very groggy and said I would make it to Mass in the morning. I also happened to notice that the jean shorts my husband was wearing looked a little funny. I had to rub more sleep out of my eyes. After an invigorating shower, I started unpacking and organizing our room. Lo and behold, my husband's jean shorts were still in the suitcase. You should have seen the mortified look on his face when, after he came back from Church, I informed him that he was wearing MY shorts!!!

Despite the hearty laugh I had, I was mildly disturbed that my hubby could fit into my clothes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Poor Blog is Suffering from Neglect

My poor blog. My nice little background disappeared a few weeks back and I haven't taken the time to dress it up in a new one. One of my AdSense ads doesn't seem to be working. I don't write nearly as often as I used to. It must feel like one of my kids - unkempt, dirty-faced ragamuffin. Poor thing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Always Knew This Day Would Come

The tooth fairy didn't show up last night. Somehow she managed to leave her little rewards for about 20 other odd teeth, but she missed the boat last night. She was probably out drinking and was passed out on the lawn of some rich kid, where she had to leave a $100 reward. I'm sure this happens somewhere. My children have already informed me that "our" tooth fairy is a stinkin' cheapskate because she only leaves 25 cents and so-and-so, down the street, gets $5 per tooth.

Anyway, the offended 6-year-old came into my room at 5 AM wondering why the tooth fairy hadn't left her anything yet. I went back to her room and she discovered that she forgot to put the tooth under her pillow. Aha! She said she couldn't go back to sleep. I told her to try anyway. I went and scrounged up a quarter and went back to her room, and blessed be God! she was asleep again! So I stealthily put the money into the tooth sack. Another fear I have is that, one day, I will have no quarters in the house and have to put a $5 bill in the sack instead. That will stink because the children will never let the tooth fairy stiff them with a measly 25 cents again. It's bound to happen.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ahhh, relaxation

At this very moment, I'm sitting in a beautifully appointed sitting room - one of 4 different gorgeously decorated living rooms - in a hotel in Grand Rapids. What a nice place to relax. The breakfast room - serving a FULL hot breakfast - was flooded with sunlight, and decorated in just the way I would like a breakfast nook to be decorated, if I had one. The bed was the most comfy hotel bed I've ever slept in - very soft, and the pillows literally cradled my head. A little later, I will check out the pool, hot tub, and court yard. Of course, maybe everything seems a little heavenly because I'm on a much-anticipated getaway with my hubby. I wonder if they would just let us live here. . . . .

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why do kids have to talk so much?

My brain hurts. I hear, "Mom. . . .Mom. . . .Mom" at least 89 billion times each day. Even if a child is in the room with me and we're carrying on a conversation, he or she still feels the need to say, "Mom," as if they need to get my attention for each and every statement. Sometimes I just want to yell, "Just say what you want to say already!!!" But I usually restrain myself because I have to remind myself that communication with my children is a good thing. I'm not sure you'd call what happens with my 4-year-old "communication", though. He never stops talking until his head hits the pillow, and even then, sometimes he talks in his sleep. And he has to have a response to everything. If I don't say anything after he quips, "Hey, Mom, the cat didn't scratch me when I pulled her tail this time!", he will then say, "Mom, answer me!" Umm, "OK." That's good enough for him. He just wants to know I'm listening to him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
My brain hurts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Floral Cheapskate

If you're like me, when you send flowers to someone, your procedure for choosing just the right arrangement goes something like this: "Whaddya got for under twenty bucks?" I was recently trying to find flowers for a friend of mine and so I visited a reputable floral delivery service online (I won't tell you the name, but the initials are "FTD"). The least expensive arrangement - for ANY occasion, including "Congratulations on having your mole removed" - started at $39.99. But that does not include tax or delivery charge. So for your basic model floral ensemble with no bells and whistles, you're looking at $55-60. But FTD had glaring warnings that if you made the $39.99 choice, you were a chump because anyone who would pay that little for flowers obviously didn't care that much about whom they were sending them to. So they had convenient upgrades to "better" ($49.99) and "best" ($59.99), their insidious message being that you are a total Scrooge if you don't choose an upgrade. It's a good thing I can handle pressure. I chose the cheapskate arrangement.

And then my credit card was declined.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Never let your 4-year-old go to a yard sale by himself

Before I get any angry comments, let me clarify that I didn't actually let him go to a yard sale "alone". He went with his sisters to a friend's yard sale just down the street. He brought his own money, and apparently he made his own choices. When he struggled in the door with this baby, he had such a look of pride on his face that I couldn't bear to tell him it was hideous. But all I could think was, "Dear God, how am I going to get that thing out of the house?"

I'm thinking of A Christmas Story where Mrs. Parker "accidentally" breaks Mr. Parker's "Major Award." ("Only one thing in the world could've dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window. ") For those of you who are hard-core Christmas Story fanatics, you can actually purchase a leg lamp just like Mr. Parker's at this store.
Well, I've learned my lesson. At least he can keep it in his room and use it as a night light. And hopefully he can keep it safe from my clumsy fingers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Friend Makin' Mondays

From Kasey at All That is Good comes

Today's topic is "True Confessions". The purpose is to let others know that you're not perfect. Well, if you've been reading my blog and you haven't figured that out, then you're really oblivious to who I really am! But, just in case, here are some of my deep, dark secrets:

1. I'm lazy. I'm also a perfectionist. Strange because the two definitely aren't compatible. Here's an example: While I'm typing this post, my son asks if he can take a bath. Sure. But I don't want to get up off the couch to run the bath, so I bribe one of my daughters to run the bath for him. Maybe it's not laziness, maybe it's just the fact that I HATE to be interrupted when I'm doing something that I want to do. As a Mom, I guess I have to work on this. . . .

2. If you didn't read my recent post, I am addicted to the Sims 3. For those of you who are blissfully unaware of this video game, it's basically a virtual dollhouse, but with kick-a** graphics. Create your families, build your dream house, climb the career ladder, interact with other "townies". Maybe I'm still a big kid at heart because I'm still playing with dolls.

3. This probably isn't a *bad* thing, but I'm still so crazy in love with my husband that I want to be with him all the time. I'm sad when he goes to work and I am giddy when he comes home. I am completely thrilled that we are going away together this coming weekend and I'm *happy* that he will be laid off for a few weeks coming up because that means he will be around. Yeah!

4. I obsess about money. I grew up in a family where money was always tight. I always hoped I would marry a man who was well-off, but I didn't. And now we struggle. . . .all the time. I'm always scheming in my little brain about how I can save a few bucks, make a few bucks, or even strike it rich. Yes, I know money isn't everything, but it sure helps when you have to pay the bills!

5. I don't LOVE being a mom. Please understand that I do LOVE MY CHILDREN!!! I would die for them. It's just that I had this romantic idea that being a mom would be fun and easy and fulfilling - and it is sometimes. This is my calling in life, so I assumed it would be a piece of cake. It's actually the hardest thing I've ever done. I sometimes wish someone else would do all the "parenting" and I could just enjoy all the great things about my children.

I will probably think of more true confessions throughout the day, but now you know more about me!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Arthritis, Cholesterol and Hemorrhoids, Oh My!

I'm just kidding. I don't have hemorrhoids.

It does suck to get old, though. And I'm not even that old, in the grand scheme of things. But I'm having old lady ailments. My cholesterol is high, I have the possible beginnings of arthritis, and I'm going to turn 40 in just a few short months. Yes, I've been aware of this fact for a while now, especially since I set the 40 by 40 goal. But my best friend - who also happens to be my first cousin - is turning 40 this week. Now it's REAL that 40 is going to happen to me too. And to think I can say that I've known someone for 40 years. . . .mind-boggling.

I'm also not ready to face the ailments of aging. Being diagnosed with high cholesterol and being told I could have a heart attack in 10 years if I didn't change something - that was quite sobering.

Now, I may also have arthritis. I've had this bum shoulder for quite a while. I had problems with it 10 or 12 years back, got a cortisone shot from the doc, and I was good to go. Now the pain is back with a vengeance. I finally had it checked out again and got another shot, which did not help this time. The doc said I probably have some arthritis in there because I used to do this stupid party trick where I could pop my shoulder out of its joint. (Remember what they used to say about cracking your knuckles?) But he also ordered an X-ray to see if anything else is going on. I'm a mild to moderate hypochondriac in that I usually wonder if any small ache or pain is a symptom of something much more serious. Like, what if I can never play Sims 3 again???

It makes me wish I had taken better care of my health and my body when I was younger. It also makes me wish I was younger. Oh well, life goes on. . . .at least for another 40 years or so.

I'm Still Here

I've been a slacker and I'm sorry. Well, not really (not really sorry, that is.) A few factors have contributed to this: I finished schooling the kids -yahoo! I'm a free woman! *hee hee* I guess I'm not actually "free", but from now on, I just get to be Mom, and not Teacher. I think I was pretty fried by the end of the school year, so I needed some major veg time. Enter my favorite video game - SIMS 3!!! Actually, it's the only video game play. I've been hooked on the Sims ever since the first little people started building houses, raising families and following their dreams about 10 years ago. The Sims 3 was my Christmas gift from my husband - it was due to be released sometime in February, but then the creators wanted to increase the hype, so they postponed the release until June 2. So I had to wait 6 months for my Christmas gift, and I've made up for the past 6 months in the last week and a half. I don't watch TV - except Dr. Phil during my laundry-folding time. I don't often read for fun. The Sims is my little escape, my little way to blow off steam, the place where I can create an alternate *me* and become a rock star or a world-famous author. So, it's kind of fun. Wait, that's an understatement - it rocks! But I think I'm had enough veg time. I'm back. . . .I think.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Visit to the "Spa"

I walk in to the exquisitely decorated waiting room. Soothing music is playing in the background. The waiting area is surrounded by a glass wall. A soothing waterfall trickles down over the glass panes. I am greeted by the friendly receptionist who assures me that I don't have to sign in since she has noticed that I've arrived. The children immediately go to the mini-theater - a beautiful room with a comfy couch, velvet curtains and a plasma TV mounted on the wall. They emerge briefly to ask the receptionist to put in their favorite movie, and she happily complies.

I take a seat in the waterfall waiting room. Another plasma TV is airing a less exciting CNN. I try to decide whether I want a cup of coffee (there are 3 flavors, it's so hard to decide), a bottle of water or a juice box from the juice bar. I go with the cold water - very refreshing.

Soon, another woman comes to lead me back to my private room. She asks if I want to start with a paraffin wax hand treatment and a heated neck pillow. I hesitate. . . . ."um, sure", I reply.

Ok, thus far you have no idea where I am, correct? It sounds like a spa, right?

So here's what happens next, after I'm all cozy with my wax mittens and the heat from the neck pillow soaking into my muscles: the hygienist proceeds with scraping all the built-up tartar off my teeth, flossing in places that haven't been touched in 6 months, and giving my teeth a sound cleaning.

Yeah, this is my dentist's office - can you believe it??? It is truly a place of luxury. I'm tempted to schedule dentist appointments on a weekly basis. If they start giving massages, I'm there.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My First Award!!!


I am so thrilled! I got my first blog award. And the funny thing is that I've been such a slacker for the past week or so. But I am deeply honored by Trudy at Third Time's A Charm who gave me this lovely award.

True confession time: When I started this blog in February, I was looking for a way to improve my writing skills. I was also hoping for instant "success" with a following of a few thousand people. I was hoping for cash bonuses.

Well, that hasn't happened so far. But what HAS happened was completely unexpected: I have made some awesome blogging friends! I have discovered that there are many other people out there who share my struggles and triumphs.

And so I humbly pass this award on to these fabulous bloggers. Check them out and see what these beautiful bloggers have to say.

Essie at The Accidental Mommy

Annie at One Mother's Day

Lerin at Beautiful Chaos

Jen at Harried Mom Of Four

Colleen at Martin Family Moments

Cris at Peters Peapod

Amber at {ae filkins}

Jenn at Tatertots and Jello

Please pass this award along to other bloggers who have made their way into your heart.

Disclaimer: Because I am so tech-unsavvy, this is the only way I know to pass this award along to you - click on the award to go to the site to get the code. I'm not sure if there's an easier way. If so, please enlighten me. :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Extreme Makeover / 40 by 40 - Week 3

{ae filkins}
Once again, it's time for our check-in with Amber's Extreme Makeover: Me Edition. Check it out if you'd like some encouragement from lots of other women who are trying to make healthier choices for their lives.
Well, I don't have a lot of progress to report. I'm still at the same weight - 4 lbs. down from that first week. Dang - I hope I can lose more than that!!! I have not been faithful to my goals yet, either, so I'm going to have to work on the same things: getting a good routine in place so that I'm putting prayer first! Then I have to work harder on planning my shopping lists and menus.
I have been exercising, which is an accomplishment for me. But I think I have to learn to do it in moderation. On the days that I feel good and energetic, I do a LOT, but then I'm completely wiped out the next day. On Saturday, Hope and I went to "Be A Tourist in Your Own Town" where there were free and fun activities all around our city for the entire day. I strapped on my pedometer and managed about 12,000 steps (this is categorized as "very active", I believe). It felt great, but I spent Saturday evening and Sunday completely exhausted. Monday I felt better, so I did a little wii fit, 15 minutes on the elliptical, rode my bike a mile or two to bring the kids to their after-school program, and then walked another mile or so to the library. It felt great. . . BUT, Tuesday, once again had me almost bed-ridden. It's frustrating because I want to know when I'll be able to maintain a decent level of activity.
Still workin' on getting good sleep. I have a bum shoulder, which will hopefully be taken care of by a doctor tomororw. I pulled a hamstring while walking and then subsequently tripping on a chunk of uneven sidewalk during the "Be A Tourist" event. Talk about feeling clumsy. . . .
Here's Amber's question for the week: What's your favorite beauty secret? I know this has nothing to do with losing weight, per se, but on the other hand, it has everything to do with feeling good about yourself. So, in a sense, they go hand in hand.
I don't think I have any beauty secrets! I don't often feel "beautiful" these days. But I think what's most important for me is to make sure I'm praying every day and putting God's view of me in the forefront of my mind. When I'm confident of who I am in the Lord, then I feel the best about myself and consequently, I am the most attractive to others.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My 100th Post!!!

It's my 100th post!!!
I don't have anything profound to share, so I thought I would do a "photo documentary" of my children. These are some of my favorite pictures of my children when they were much younger. This is in reverse chronological order because it is so hard to move photos around on Blogger (anyone else have that problem?)

1. Easter Sunday 2008
Joy, Evan, Hope and Faith

2. This is Evan at the Great Wolf Lodge when he was just over one year old (January 2006).
Check out that wild hair! We finally had to cut it because everyone thought we
had 4 girls!

3. Here's another precious picture of Evan, age 1, Christmas 2005.

4. Here is Faith on a camping trip in 2002, when she was 2 years old.

5. Faith, just over age 1. We had just moved to this house and she was just learning to walk.
It was so funny to watch her try to maneuver on the tile floor.

6. Faith on her first birthday, full of spaghetti!

7. I had to include this hospital picture of Faith - isn't the look on her face just precious???
She calls it her "crabby" picture.

7. Here is Joy when she was about 9 months old, in 2001.

8. Hope, on Mother's Day 2001. She was 2 years old.

9. Joy and Hope in my parents' yard in the summer of 2001.
They were 7 months and 2 years old.

10. And here's my precious little Hopey, who is now 10!!!
She was about 21 months old here, in the year 2000.

If you still have small children
and people tell you that it goes by fast,


The Ramblings of a 4-year-old

Not sure what to make of this conversation. While I was eating breakfast with my little guy, he said, "If you peeled all your skin off, you would be a skeleton." To which I responded, "Yes, I guess you would." And then he said, "And if you glued all your skin back on, you would just be our mom again."

Should I be worried about his little brain???

Monday, June 1, 2009

From Kasey at All That is Good comes Friend Makin Monday.

Today's task is to share as few or as many everyday, little tips that you use to make your lives easier. You know- all those special tricks you might have to cook, clean, raise kids, work in the yard, and on and on!

Well, Kasey, you caught me at my worst, because I feel so unorganized right now. But perhaps in sharing some of the tips that I have used, and coming up with a few new ones, I will get organized again. There's always hope - it's our last week of school, which for most people means that they will become MORE busy after their kids get out, but I will be less busy because I will no longer be homeschooling - yahoo!

1) To keep clutter to a minimum: I bought 3 little compartmentalized plastic bins with handles, and I wrote on them: Upstairs, Main Floor, Basement. Whenever I find something lying around - such as a toy, a barrette, a pair of kids' scissors, or whatever - I put it in the appropriate bin. When the bins are full, the children have to take the bin, sort out the contents and put everything away. The compartments make it easy to put small things like earrings in it without them getting lost.

2) I have a yard sale every year! I keep one or two HUGE rubbermaid bins in my basement storage room. Whenever I come across clothing that has been outgrown, toys that are no longer in use, or any household item that doesn't suit my needs any more, it goes in the bin. If I have enough stuff in there for a yard sale, I have one! Of course, there are often objects too large to fit in the bin, but I keep them in the same general area. This year, during Lent, I actually purged my yard sale bins and gave all the items to St. Vincent de Paul. And I often hand down my youngest daughter's clothes to a friend who has 3 younger girls. BUT, guess what??? My yard sale bins are still bulging at the seams. Time for a yard sale!

3) Laundry: I fold laundry in my bedroom. I sit on my bed, fold laundry and watch Dr. Phil. The kids know what I mean when I say it's "laundry and Dr. Phil time." I have 4 small laundry baskets, one with each child's name on it. As I fold laundry, I deposit the items into the appropriate basket. Then I put the baskets in their rooms. They are supposed to put all their clean laundry away before bed (this doesn't always happen - we're working on it). The girls have to put ALL their laundry away, including socks, underwear, pj's, etc. For the 4-year-old, I only put shorts and shirts in his basket so it's easy enough for him to put away.

For stray socks, I have a canvas clothespin bag (sans clothespins) that I put all the unmatched socks in. When I'm folding socks, I dump it out to see if I have any matches. Any unmatches socks go back in the bag. If I don't see matches for a sock after a month or so, I either throw the lonely socks away or put them in the craft bin for sock puppets.

One more laundry tip: If you ever have a really tough stain, try soaking the clothes in warm water and Oxi-Clean. It often takes several days, but the stains WILL come out. I've gotten out mustard, blueberry, and grass stains. I don't have a soaking sink, but I have a small bucket next to my washer which I use to soak stained clothing.

4) Children's school work and art work: Being a homeschooler, I see EVERY piece of work my children ever do. It's often difficult to decide what to keep and what to throw away. But I finally came up with a system. At the beginning of the year, I buy a 3-ring binder for each child and I label it with the child's name and grade for that year. Every month or two, I go through their work and decide what work is really exceptional - whether it's a perfect math test, or a beautiful piece of art work - and I put it in the binder.

True confession time: If there are LARGE or 3-D pieces of work and there is no space for it, I take a digital photo. I have a file on my computer just for the children's art work.

Finally, this is my plan, but I've only done it once or twice. I take the children's best artwork and put it in a frame and hang it up. I buy cheap frames at thrift stores or yard sales so I have them on hand for art work. As of right now, I have a gigantic box of frames, photos and artwork that I haven't gotten to in years. This is my next big project. . . .hopefully I'll get to it after school is out.

Thanks, Kasey, for this fun idea. I will definitely be reading other people's posts to get more ideas on how to get organized and make my life easier!