Saturday, January 31, 2009

Planting

On a whim, Kevin bought a lime tree and a tangerine tree. They are small trees, but bear lots of fruit, and can live in pots. I am excited to see how things turn out with these little things and if they will in fact bear fruit.

The boys have also been wanting to plant strawberry plants forever so I found a little kit that had seeds and soil and we got them planted a few days ago. I also have plans to start a mini garden out back. Teeny really, just peppers and green beans, but maybe it will do well and I'll be more adventurous next year.
Here are the boys starting their strawberry seeds with Daddy.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sometimes Maddening... But Mostly Funny

I've been wracking my brain lately. The boys seemingly have fewer and fewer and fewer clothes, pairs of socks, undies. Now, I do laundry every.single.day. Usually two loads a day. The rules of our house entail children putting their dirty laundry in a hamper, preferably the downstairs hamper, OR the washing machine (in the event that it is empty) on a daily basis. If you are a parent you surely know how often this rule is followed. Rarely. Several times a week I send them upstairs to collect alllllll of their dirties and bring them to me.. I even let them "throw them overboard" from upstairs to down as an added incentive to actually do it. Despite all of this we still have this problem of where the heck are all of their clothes. I have no pants, I have no underwear, and I want to pull my hair out because I just washed it! Eric's cubscout tee shirt... missing. We have three school tee shirts to wear on Fridays (only two kids going to school SURELY out of three we can come up with two, right?) and this morning we could only find one. It's been driving me insane.

This morning while I was hunting for socks, Mark says "Hey momma, there's clothes in the cooler!" (This probably requires the explanation that much of our camping gear is stored in Mark's closet) I looked at him funny. "I couldn't find my hamper so I've been putting it in the cooler instead."

This explains SO much!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

5:41

That was the hour Mark was up this morning. 5:42 the tv came on. I did not hear a peep, however woke up to Mark and Ben sitting quietly on the couch watching Noggin.

Sadly, it's not as bad as it sometimes is, but still... SLEEP UNTIL MORNING LITTLE BOYS.

Unrelated... I wrote a post over at Deep South Moms about how I'm finally feeling settled here in Florida... Sleep deprived, but settled.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

SPY!!

I always say I wish I had a way to monitor the house at night to see exactly when the boys are up in the morning because they no longer come straight to me. Mark is the earliest riser and there are many mornings I know he's up before six, but I also suspect it could be even earlier.

Take Sunday night, for example. I woke up to a thud. Not a loud thud, mind you but it was obvious somebody was up. Kevin got up and caught Mark had gotten into the pantry and was opening up the marshmallow fluff I had bought at the grocery store. He actually had the inside seal partly open. This was at 4:20 am.

I don't know what he would have done if we had not heard him. Consume the entire jar of fluff? Turn on the TV and watch cartoons until an hour that would have been acceptable to be awake. These are the things I am dying to know.

Kevin and I have been talking about ways to solve our night time dilemma for awhile. We strongly believe that Mark is sleep deprived, leading to many of the cranky behaviors we see in him. So on Sunday afternoon Kevin discovered that our web cam has a motion detector video setting. Meaning we could set it up to record any time there is motion in the house when we have it turned on. It saw Mark walk down the stairs and go straight to the pantry. Unfortunately, it also caught on tape (errrrr, or rather the hard drive) Eric getting up and wrapping himself in the couch blanket and sleeping on the couch. As well as Ben going to my room and back up the stairs several times. Ben actually spent quite a bit of time in my bed, but I didn't realize he was up and down so often.

The only downsides to the video thing is that unless we wake up from the noise they make (and they are typically very sneaky!) we will not know until morning, also there is no way to tell what time the "action" occurred. To me the time is more important than watching their ornery little selves bound up and down the stairs.

However, we have a plan to solve the issue. We can just put a clock radio on the kitchen table at night and it will show the time for every little video clip.

Once we have an idea of how many times and which little boys are up in the night we will be able to find ways to keep them in their beds until an acceptable hour. At least that is my hope.

Who knew parenthood would turn us to spy tactics and surveillance? I surely did not.

video

Notice little boy in the lower right. Now he has a nice bed. If you can answer the question WHY? I'll be eternally grateful.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Who By Fire - Silicon Valley Moms Book Club

One of my greatest fears in life is losing one of my children. It is the one thing in life that I simply don't know if I could pick myself up and live again. Who can judge how one reacts to such a tragedy? How can I say what I would do, or what lengths I would go to keep my other children close and safe?

Who By Fire by Diana Spechler had me drawn in by the first page. A story of a family torn apart by tragedy. Ash Kellerman and his sister Bits take two completely opposite roads after the disappearance of their sister, Alena. One turning to a wildly excessive lifestyle, the other to a deep rooted faith.

The book's events occur years after the abduction, leaving the family still in turmoil even after 13 years. Ash has decided to become an Orthodox Jew and moves to a yeshiva in Israel. His mother, Ellie Kellerman is convinced that he has joined a cult and desperate to rescue him. She enlists her daughter Bits to help in this effort, as well as a man who she met in a support group for people with loved ones involved in cults.

In Israel, Ash feels no need to be rescued, except maybe from the girl who is taunting him and also trying to lure him out of his chosen way of life.

The story is compelling, and as I said, from the first page I was completely hooked. I couldn't put it down, and at the end I found myself wondering if that could possibly be all. I wanted more. I wanted another fifty pages to continue my look into the lives of these characters. I loved every word & highly recommend Who By Fire!

I read this book and wondered, what would I have done? Experiencing the tragedy and loss of one child, would I do whatever it took to hold onto another? Or would I accept my son's decision and embrace him, even if I believed he was making a mistake. I'd like to think I would do the latter, but I think it's hard to say until you walk that road.

For more discussion on this book check out The LA Moms Blog where there will be a book club style discussion in the comments section of the post.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Brrrr

It was 24 when I woke up this morning. There was frost on the roof, on our grass, and some of the trees. Mark and Eric are certain it is going to snow today despite my repeatedly reminding them it does not snow in Florida. Finally Mark said, "Momma, why won't you let us THINK it's going to snow." So I stopped raining on their parade.

It's hard to see but yes, that is frost on the grass. I looked out my window first thing this morning and saw ducks out in the pond swimming around. They were undoubtedly wondering "What, did we forget to migrate or something? I seem to remember flying SOUTH this year."

The good news is we will hit 61 today which is 10 degrees higher than it got yesterday. Unfortunately we get another freezing (literally) night tonight.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Most People Don't Suck

Okay, so it's time for me to leave behind my irritation, anger and sadness that hit me when my credit cards and cell phone got stolen. It's time for me to realize that most people are good, and the bad ones shouldn't minimize that. I want to be optimistic and I want to be part of the solution.

Astarte mentioned in the comments of my last post that she is making a conscious effort to be extra nice to people. That is exactly what I want to do too. I want to make other people's day better.

At school today when I ate lunch with my boys there was a poster of things to do for others. There was a website at the bottom. I wish I could remember the text of the poster, because it was really nice, and I'm glad the school is encouraging kindness.

I'm not sure where all of this is heading for me, but I really feel the desire to do more to make the world a better place, and most importantly to include my children in that endeavor. The Acts of Kindness website (link above) has lesson plans designed for schools, but the ones I've seen can be incorporated into home activities. I'm adding some of this on my list of things to do.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

People Suck

Maybe not all of them. I know quite a few outstanding people who obviously don't suck. However, I am increasingly aware of how much a lot of people really do suck. Particularly people who steal and do other crappy things. I feel inundated with the suckiness of people lately.

Back in August my mom's car window got smashed and her purse stolen in the parking lot of the restaurant she was dining at on her birthday... the good news, they caught the woman who used her credit cards, wrote her checks, used my mother's ID as her own (after laminating her own picture on the top of moms.) It took three months, but they were finally able to press charges. I don't know if and how long she'll spend in jail but I hope it's awhile. Cause she sucks.

Then I heard about a poor man that got beaten up on Christmas Eve at his CHURCH... not just any church, but the one my friend Sue at My Party of Six attends. She was obviously shaken up, but then some other sucky person accessed her bank account and cleaned it out on Christmas Day. She wrote all about it here. I don't know if they caught either of the criminals in those instances but I SURE hope so. They SUCK. (Sue, if you read this please let me know. I hope they all rot in jail, or worse, really.)

Recently, we got a note from the school about a bunch of "smash and grab" robberies in the area. Primarily at gyms, and even the SCHOOL. So I had fair warning not to leave my purse in the car. I heeded it too. I quit leaving my purse in the car anywhere. Not even in my own driveway. Because people suck and it was time for me to come to grips with that fact whether I wanted to or not. Except that this past Sunday, I forgot. I was lucky, no one smashed my windshield. I would say with 95% certainty that the car was locked as we ALWAYS lock it, but maybe there was some weird thing that prevented it from locking. I was lucky that they didn't take my entire purse, leaving me with nothing to see. They did go through everything and take a few credit cards and my cell phone. They left behind our GPS, the DVD player that was still in the car from vacation. They opened the glove box, but did not take anything (nothing of value in there anyway.) They also got into the cars across the street, but fortunately they didn't have anything in them that these guys wanted.

I am lucky. My story compared to the first two is nothing. I was really spared a whole lot of grief. I cancelled the missing credit cards before any major damage was done. They did manage to get gas at a nearby station before I called it in though. The police are investigating, but the station they used doesn't have outdoor surveillance cameras. My guess is this is some stupid teenagers out having some screwed up idea of fun. I hope they outgrow it. Because right now, they suck.

I need some help. My view of people in general is a little negative right now. Do you have an uplifting story to show me this stuff is not as common as I feel it is at this moment? If so PLEASE share either in the comments section or email me! I need to feel optimistic again, and right now it's just not happening.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Things to do on a Sunday Afternoon

We often struggle on weekends to maintain some semblance of sanity and patience. The kids get crazy, we get crazy and by bedtime Kevin and I are just spent. I do know that one thing that helps this problem is to engage them in some interesting activity. Yesterday Kevin showed the boys how to make a hot air balloon. Supplies: trash bags, scissors, tape, hair dryer. They were at first disappointed about the fact that they wouldn't be RIDING in the hot air balloon, but in the end it was really fun.




First attempt, unsuccessful... The trash bag was too thick and too long and skinny to float.

Success! A fun floating bag of air. Look how much fun they had!

video

Friday, January 16, 2009

On a Mission

I am on a mission that will last some time and I hope I can stick it out to the end. My mission is to once and for all get this home organized like I want it to be so I can get the day to day cleaning done faster and more efficiently. Kevin helped me do a few things over the holidays and now I really want to keep it up. I want to go through every closet, cabinet, nook and cranny and touch everything, toss or donate what we don't use and have a workable system for the things we do. I have been motivated by other bloggers, and of course my husband, and I do believe the time is NOW.

I tend to make lists and plans and schedules that look really good on paper but never come to life as a daily, weekly, or even monthly habit. I start out well, sure, but I tend to fall off the schedule wagon fairly quickly. I've mulled over this at some length so I can do this right this time and the only thing I can come up with is to start at the front door and just do it. That is kind of cheating a little I think because the front of the house is the least used and therefore the least messy. This is mostly a matter of finding hidden clutter and getting it out!!

So, since I have two boys at school and two sleeping I will begin right now!

PS I have a post up at Deep South Moms about my case of post vacation blues I've been battling this week. Incidentally, it seems to have resolved itself shortly after I wrote that post. Interesting...

I'm off!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Cruise... The Short Version (we'll see about that)

Day One - The Long Drive


We finally got to New Orleans after the 10 hours in the drive. We had dinner, and then went to check into the hotel. I helped Kevin get all the luggage out and got 3 sleepy kids ready to go up to our room. He was going to park the car and bring Ben in. As I was carrying a mostly still sleeping Zack and corralling the other two big boys toward the doors Kevin called me back and said "I just locked Ben in the car." I had to suppress laughter because he NEVER does stuff like this. NEVER. Thankfully, AAA arrived quickly and Ben slept through the whole thing. I don't think Kevin thought it was funny at all, but I found humor because I'm the one with major key issues.


Day 2 - The Big Boat


I had hoped to see a little of New Orleans, but in the end we only had time to get packed and board the ship.


One of the funniest moments was in the line waiting to go through the security check, Zack was making faces at the shiny metal poles. Fish face, surprised face, grabbing lips with fingers and sticking tongue out face. It was priceless!


At dinner I had to laugh at the differences between Eric and Mark. Eric had chocolate ice cream, quickly ate every bite, and then licked the bowl clean. Perhaps not the best table manners, but I couldn't scold him. Watching him savor every bite (and lick) made me smile. On the other end of the spectrum, Mark at a few bites of his vanilla ice cream, then smoothed it out with his spoon. He proceeded to make peaks and valley and when finished announced it his "ice cream city." About the time Eric began his bowl licking, Mark started eating his ice cream.


Day 3 - Happy Birthday to Me

Ever since the kids learned my birthday would be spent on the "big boat" they were concerned about one thing. "What about the CAKE!!??!!" Since there is no shortage of desserts I told them it was fine, Mommy doesn't need a cake. Apparently, Kevin and the boys had other plans in mine. They arranged for the crew to decorate our room and there was also... tada... a cake.





Pretty cake, crappy picture. I need to take a photography class or something.





The kids were super excited for the Kids Crew and actually cried when we picked them up the first night. Since they really wanted to go after lunch (how great is that! I could drop them off with no guilt!) and Ben needed a nap, I was able to spend some time on the balcony reading as we sailed across the Gulf of Mexico. Priceless.


I finished up my birthday with a massage at the ship's spa with my sister in law. It was a great day!!



Day 4 - Costa Maya, Mexico


A beach day & it was awesome! This is where Kevin paddled the little boys around in the water, and lots of sand and water play was done. We also saw a HUGE starfish that one of the lifeguards brought us to look at. (Sadly, no pictures of my camera of that one... but my sister in law took some that I will hopefully get ahold of soon.)


Day 5 - Santo Tomas de Castillo, Guatemala


This was the day I looked forward to the most, because two years ago when Kevin and I took this cruise for our anniversary (alone!) we went to this place that we both couldn't stop saying how much we wished the kids were there. Never did I think we could actually take them there. It certainly did not disappoint and the kids had a ball sliding off the pirate ship into the pool. There were grown up water slides too. I got stuck. I kept wanting to go again to redeem myself, but I never had the chance. In my defense these slides are like a zillion years old and I wasn't the only one who got stuck by a long shot.


The park you saw the kids playing in that was all carved out of wood and just the neatest looking thing ever was in Guatemala. Also, turtles and iguanas (not just running around, in little habitats) and a peacock that was just roaming around.


Day 6 - Belize City, Belize


This was the day of the butterfly garden and it was really, really cool. I had no idea there were so many varieties of butterflies. One that we weren't able to get a picture of but was quite stunning was a blue butterfly with kind of scalloped edges on the wings. The kids had a blast and I never got tired of hearing "Look Momma! A butterfy (not a typo, that's how he says it)!" from Zack.










Day 7 - Cozumel, Mexico

Kevin wanted at some point of the trip to go snorkeling. He got a snorkel mask digital camera for Christmas and wanted to use it. There was just no way we could all go and his parents had decided to just go shopping. So, we decided that Kevin and his brother would go snorkeling, and his brother's wife and I could wrestle take kids swimming on the boat. They really had a great time, and in the end took Eric with them. I was really concerned this would be a nightmare for Kevin and Brian, but I was willing to have one less kid with me (by this time I was actually a teeny bit tired and maybe sorta ready for the kids to be back on some semblance of a schedule, but still having fun!) It turned out that they had tons of fun! Eric came back talking about the millions of fish he had seen. Eric was frightened as we had predicted, but a super awesome life guard helped him out so that his daddy could snorkel too.

After the great snorkeling adventure the girls (and some reluctant little boys, 2 of mine, one of hers) went shopping. I love shopping in Cozumel. It isn't as hard core with the people approaching you and the bartering (where I always feel like I'm taking food out of some little kid's mouth but Kevin scoffs at my lack of skillz at getting a lower price. I know!) A fun day of shopping except for the constant "can we go back to the boat now? You never buy me anything!!" Then when I bought them hats "Now you won' t buy us anything else! I know it! Let's go back to the ship now!" Then when I got them a really cool souvenir (because I wanted to for reasons totally unrelated to their behavior) they said "Now can we go back to the ship to play with our puzzles?" It left me wondering whether this was their exhaustion talking or if they really are that bratty. A few days home has verified to me that it was probably a mix of both. Say, 60/40 or so.

Kevin's awesome parents made the day end on a delightful note by watching the kiddos that weren't old enough to go to the Kids Crew and let the three couples go to dinner... alone. We ate great food with no interruptions, talked and laughed so hard we cried. It was like old times when we would hang out and goof off in the pre-kid all of us living in the same town days.

Day 8 - At Sea

I confess by this day I was done. Tired, wrung out, ready to get home. Travelling with kids is difficult in the best of situations. This trip was outstanding, beautiful, as close to relaxation with four kids as you can get. However, all good things must come to an end. I used the last sea day to attempt to rest up, took a nap with Ben, let the big boys enjoy some time reading with Grandma, and Kevin and I packed up all of our stuff so we would be ready to disembark Sunday morning.

Day 9 - Apparently I Can't Count

I swear I thought this trip was 8 days, but apparently it was 9. SO, I can't count. Nothing notable about this day. Got off the ship, said our too quick goodbyes, and got in the van. I will say that our kids were incredibly patient and good in the car. Incredibly. They really do adapt to whatever we throw their way.

I always say, there is nothing to make you ready to get home from a really amazing time away than the long car ride it takes to get there. 10 hours is a long time in the car, but I just kept thinking how glad I was that it wasn't 20. We had a little bit to relax (and unpack the massive amount of dirty laundry) before going to sleep.

So, believe it or not, that was the short version. We had a ton of fun! The laundry is actually done and I think we are finally getting ourselves back in a routine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Overheard

... I know my vacation story is long overdue. I want to tell it but that darn laundry. It's almost finished but I have so much to do still that writing is taking a back seat. Darn the chores!

However, I just overheard the funniest thing that is probably only funny to me, but so many of my favorite parenting moments are things I overhear.

Eric, Mark and Zack are playing a game they got for Christmas. Ben is blissfully sleeping. I think Zack is a bit young for this game in the sense that his attention span is short and his ability to follow directions is lacking. So, they are playing nicely more or less (at this moment meaning noone is screaming at anyone else) and I hear Mark say in his nicest big brother voice, "Hey Zackie, why don't you go play over there, by yourself, where you don't have to have rules!"

Zack didn't bite, but I thought it was a good try to get the pesky little bro out of the way without making anyone cry.

Now I'm back to folding laundry... sigh.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Favorite Pics


I can't believe he is really this big. Eric went snorkeling with daddy and he was so brave! He also enjoyed seeing the "millions of fish!"


Zack with his cousin Sydney. They had a great time playing, running and jumping all week long.



My happy photogenic guy in Belize, before the butterfly place (pictured above.)


Kevin and his brother Brian are 13 months apart just like Eric and Mark are. I hope that when the boys are in their 30s they will be as good of friends as Kevin and his older brother are. I know it wasn't always that way, so I have hope that it will be so.

This was in Guatamala, I went in a little toooo close for the closeup, but I just love this sweet little face.
I love how content Mark looks in this picture. Not the extremes I often see, just quiet contentment.
Isn't this the coolest playground?
Such a happy little baby!
Sleeping at the beach in Costa Maya.
Kevin took all the kids for a ride one by one on this boat. They had so much fun.




Just a few favorites!



Coming Home

What coming home from a 8 day trip with 6 people looks like:

I have lots more I want to write about, fun things we did on our amazing vacation, pictures to show. But first, I must tackle THAT pile of laundry right now. I had to laugh when I saw it. Now is the time to take the pile down though!

Friday, January 2, 2009

What Does a 8 Day Trip with 6 People Look Like?

It looks a lot like this:

We're off tomorrow morning... I'll post when I get back.

PS I have a post going up tomorrow at Deep South Moms. So if you can't live without my nonsense (hehe) head over there where I talk about how I can't stay awake during a movie.

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