Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why You Dirty...

The other night we were out looking at Christmas lights and we came upon a house with synchronized lights that was just incredible. I pulled out my camera to take a picture, and wouldn't ya know...the battery was dead.

I kind of muttered, "Why, you dirty baa...Bugger!"

From the back seat of the car I hear Natalie, "Did you hear that? Mom almost said bastard! She was going to say, 'Why, you dirty bastard!'"

How could I NOT laugh after that! I did give a little reminder that if I stop myself from saying a word, chances are it's not appropriate for her to say either!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Be a Reader!

I certainly can't be the only one who reads everything, can I?

At the restaurant I'm always reading the white board that the chef uses for orders from the suppliers. I'm often sneaking up there and making a correction or two (skewrs? no, skewers!) or asking what something means in messy chef short-hand (chopped red ants? really?! no, actually chopped mxd (mixed) nuts) although after pointing that out, a few days later he did write "chopped red ants" on there just to see if I would notice. I did. Immediately.

One of the waitresses who has been there some 15 years said she didn't know anyone's last name. Apparantly she doesn't read the names on everyone's time cards when she clocks in and out.

I've never really thought about it until the chef pointed it out, but am I really that unusual? I'm sure most people read everything too, right? Box labels, scribbled notes, office memos, signs, t-shirts, those mandatory employee rights posters? Please tell me I'm not the only one. I'm starting to get a complex here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Santa Beard Question

Ok, so I was asked a very good question: If Mike has a big hairy face already, then why the fake beard when he was playing Santa?

Well, he tried it without the beard and it just didn't look Santa-ish enough. There's just something about the flowing white beard that's more Santa like and to be truthful, I'd rather he wear a fake beard than encourage him to grow his beard any longer than it already is. That's just too much hair for my liking.

Here's a couple photos of the girls in their elf suits. The person who loaned Mike the Santa suit had the elf hats and shoes, I made the little felt tunics, and the girls just wore turtle necks and tights underneath.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Here Comes Santa

Mike got to play Santa today at a local preschool. He has been wanting to do the Santa-thing for years, and I guess if you go gray early and have a big beard, what the heck.

He's been bugging me to be his Mrs. Claus, however I don't think I'm NEAR old enough for that kind of thing! I have a little pride! He did talk Nat and Moo into being his elves though, so the three of them got to ride to the preschool on the fire truck (lights and sirens and everything!) and hand out goodies to all the little ones.

The girls were thrilled. I had kind of coached them the night before about being elfish, talking about the North Pole and such, and having an elf name (Nat was Sparkle, Moo was Ming-Ming). I told them it was like having an acting job. Nat was cute last night studying up on the reindeer names before bedtime. I didn't get to go as I had to work, but one of the helpful firefighters took pictures (I love those guys!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Happenings

Miss Moo had her first concert performance where she played the bells and did a fabulous job. The cool thing about the bells is that they're very easy to hear over the rest of the instruments. I love, love, love kids' band performances. This is my third kid who's blessed me with this treat. I think music is SO worthwhile (even though I dropped band in 5th grade when I found out we had to actually PERFORM--IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I really missed out and regret not pursuing music when I was young.)

We also went to the best church Christmas party ever. It was a Polar Express theme, and let me tell ya, the couple that was recently called as the ward activities directors really go out when they do a party. Fabulous! All the kids participated in a little skit about the true meaning of Christmas, and then got to sit on Santa's lap.

My little angels waiting for their turn to see Santa.

Not only Santa, but Mrs. Claus too!

Sis and I put together homework stations (got the idea here and here) for Moo and Nat for one of their presents. They turned out so cool, and I know those girls will love them considering how much they love to play school. Whether it will actually motivate them to do their homework is debatable!
(They will have markers, pencils and glue sticks in their plastic pockets on the lower left.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow Day! Wooo!

A very cold storm blew through last night and into today, leaving us with 18" of snow and several inches in the towns below us that never get snow. We started out getting a call from the schools that it would be a 2 hour delayed start, but a short time later they called a snow day.

I was up getting ready to go when I got the snow day call, and I promptly returned to bed under my down blanket with dreams of hibernation. Bliss.

I woke up a couple hours later to the sounds of the girls playing and a power outage. The perfect day to put up our tree, drink hot cocoa (thanks to our woodstove), play games, and watch the girls go sledding.

As for decorating the Christmas tree, the cats could not believe their good fortune: we brought a tree INTO the house, and put dangly things all over it! Merry Christmas to them! At least that's what they think! There's no way to keep 3 kittens out of the tree, so we put the unbreakable ornaments at the bottom and we're hoping for the best, with the squirt bottle loaded and ready when they get a little too out of hand.

I had a bad angle on this photo of the girls following a crash, but it's so funny. Miss Moo has snow in her glasses and Nat's laid out flat laughing her bum off.

Just now the girls and Mike are sitting on the couch watching Monday Night Football. Nat asks Mike, "Are you rooting for the Packages?" What?!? Oh, she meant the Packers!!! Too funny! They'll probably be known as the Packages from now on in our house!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Changing of the Guard

Today at church I knew right away it wasn't going to be our usual first-Sunday-of-the-month testimony meeting when I saw a full chapel and members of the High Council on the stand. I wasn't ready for a new bishopric to be called though.

Our bishop was the first one for our ward when our little branch became an official ward 5 years ago. I had known this man out of church when I got involved with Relay for Life and he was the Chairman of the event. I have always admired him and he is one of the kindest most thoughtful souls I think I've ever known. When he was called as Bishop I wasn't surprised.

They say the bishop is the father of the ward and he truly was. He was such an example to all (still is), and so warm and caring. One of his favorite things was to ditch his regular meeting on Sunday and come into Primary to hang out with the kids. We could always count on him to come to the kids' activity days and play games with them too.

I think someone serving as bishop for 5 years is probably a bit unusual, but in a ward as small as ours, we all serve in our callings a long time just do to a lack of people to take our place. For our bishop though, he had to step down due to health reasons and that's really why no one was prepared, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house today. Our bishop was recently diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and even though he's undergoing treatment, there is no cure.

The man called to be our new bishop was a complete surprise to me, but as one of the High Counselors explained, a lot of prayer goes into choosing just he right person and it has to be sent to Salt Lake City for approval and even then it's not a done deal. So even though this new bishop has only been in our ward for a mere 5 months, and he was the perfect Uncle Fester at the church Halloween party, I know that there is a reason he was chosen.

Yes, it was a sad day to see the man we all looked up to and knew we could count on, have to step away from his duties, and I think we're all praying for a miracle for him.

If you're not familiar with the LDS church, we have a lay clergy, meaning serving in the church is not a profession. No one recieves pay for being bishop or doing any other callings. Members take on these demanding positions in addition to their regular jobs and responsibilities.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shopping Till We're Dropping

Yesterday I played hooky from work and went shopping. On Monday, the mom of the little girl I'm a 1:1 aide to, said that she would not be at school on Tuesday. I then asked our teacher if it would be ok to take a personal day and go shopping and she said to go for it.

Then, bad influence that I am, I asked Sis to play hooky and go with me. She of course jumped on the chance too.

I would feel a bit guilty, but I was seriously stressing out about when I would be able to shop at all with both my work schedules and especially because we have quite a few extra parties scheduled for this month as well at the restaurant. I truly don't have any days off (Sundays I don't usually work, but going to church for 3 hours puts a dent in my day).

I left the house yesterday at 8:30 am and returned at 8pm. A. Long. Day. But productive and worth it. For me, I have to travel for an hour and a half to get to a major shopping area so it's even more of an endeavor (I'm not like you spoiled city people!).

We did encounter a couple cashiers who had never heard of our town, and when told how far we had to drive they wondered aloud at how much money they would save if they lived where we did and couldn't shop all the time. (I really doubt they'd last a week up here, personally.)

Sis is so good at keeping me on track (well especially when I almost missed the turn to the city we wanted to go and headed somewhere else entirely!) and she's also good at giving me opinions and finding cool stuff and also finding my dang car in the parking lot. We really had a lot of fun.

Sis shopped for her Christmas gifts but will have to wait for them and open them on Christmas morning. I would've had to give her gift cards had she not picked out what she wanted and that's not near as much fun.

We had to laugh, when at one store while waiting for the clerk to bring back a pair of boots for Sis to try on, another clerk (a young tattooed man who looked very hip) asked if we had been helped. When we said we had, he replied with a very exuberrant, "SICK!!!!" Not, "Ok, cool." or ,"Good deal." but "SICK!!!!" Too funny! We chuckled about that the rest of the day.

I returned home tired, but a lot less stressed about the prospect of Christmas. Now maybe I can actually enjoy the season for a change!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Shorts Are In The Mailbox, The Pies Are In The Trunk, And The Godiva Chocolates Are.....Digesting

Ever since my mom died, our Thanksgiving tradition involves us buying the turkey and all the trimmings, travelling to my Dad's house and having my husband cook for everyone, since he is basically the only one left with the skills (and motivation) to do so.

This year, the 18 lb bird, two ice chests, grocery bags, luggage for 5 people (including Barbies and special pillows), 2 adults, 3 girls (ok Sis is legally an adult, but she's still one of my girls), and our overweight pit bull, piled into the only reliable car we currently own, my Honda Civic. (At this point just envision a can of sardines and you'll get the picture.)

Shortly after we arrive, Husband starts freaking out (I'm not exaggerating) because he forgot to pack a pair of shorts to cook in, and he is certain he will succumb to heat stroke on Thanksgiving whilst slaving over a hot stove if he doesn't have ventilation on his legs. I can tell he's going to drag me all over the city shopping for shorts at this late hour if I don't figure out a solution pretty quickly. I call my sister, and her husband has a pair that should fit fine, however, they are leaving for the evening so they decide to put them in their mailbox for us to pick up at our convenience.

I'm at the point of not wanting to go out at all, even for this little errand, so we call Cam who's in that general area of town, and give him the cryptic message, "The eagle has landed. The shorts are in the mailbox. This is your mission should you choose to accept it." Well, ok, it wasn't that dramatic, but he was very confused at first by our request to travel to his aunt and uncle's house and retrieve clothing from their mailbox.

So, after all my kiddos arrive, I tell them I have to make apple pies for Thanksgiving the following day. Everyone is excited about this and they all pitch in to peel and slice apples for me. My big contribution is unrolling the refrigerated pie crusts into the pie plates and dumping the prepared apples into them. (Whew! Somehow I managed THAT tough task!)

We discover that my dad, known pie hound, has already cut into the pumpkin pie that my sister purchased and (foolishly) left at his house, and I now fear for the apple pies that I'm baking. Sure enough, as soon as the pies are out of the oven he starts hounding me for a slice. I'm not happy about slicing into one of these beauties, but I'm certainly not going to deny my 80 year old dad this little indulgence. However, to protect the uncut one, and insure there is some apple pie for Thanksgiving, I decide the best action to take is to hide the pies. My dad can be quite persistent when it comes to something like this, so I try to think of somewhere safe that he wouldn't think to look...yes, the trunk of his own car. Genius!

At any rate, the pies survived until AFTER the Thanksgiving feast for EVERYONE to enjoy,

my sister arrived despite falling and smashing her face on a brick planter the night before, Nat didn't starve despite the fact that the bird wasn't ready and had to go back into the oven for another hour (!), Mike stayed cool, calm and collected (thanks to borrowed shorts and lots of wine), and I did indeed share the Godiva chocolates (I hid those too) even though I tried to let on that they had already been consumed. All in all, a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Really Cool, Awesome, Fun, Ramblin's (for me anyway)

Today I took the girls to Walmart and got them each a new dress (and then a new school outfit too, cause I'm a pushover like that) because they have a special church program on Sunday. It was just cool that I had the money to do that. I love that I have a decent job. I mean it's not enough to live off of or anything, but it is enough that I can spend a little money on the kids without my stomach turning into a knot. Fun!
And speaking of money, and spending it...Over the last couple months I've been making payments to a lady for a kayak and I finally got to bring it home on Monday. It was really a great deal. It's virtually new (she used it twice in the 2 years since she bought it) and the price included a cart to pull it on, and then she gave me a brand new life jacket and tie downs and stuff. Awesome!

The funny thing is I hate the water. I'm very cat like in that respect. I actually have more of an unnatural fear of water, really, and I don't like swimming either. I think that's because I'm very sensitive to cold, and swimming involves immersing myself in water that is not nearly warm enough by my standards! At any rate, I bought a boat, of all things! Go figure!

I tried kayaking this summer and fell in love with it. It's peaceful, and the boats are light weight and very manuverable. I really love that the little girls, neither one who weighs more than 60 pounds, can help me load and unload it, then can get in it and paddle around with no problem. Really cool for them!
I think it's funny that Nat can say "library" and "Valentine's" just fine (and I hear adults say "liberry" and "Valentime's"), but still mispronounces "chapter" as "chafter".
And Miss Moo won best costume at school for her ghost bride:
Oh and speaking of ghosts... last night I turned off the front porch light, then sat down at the computer, and a few minutes later I turned around and looked and sure enough, the light was back on. And the switch was still in the off position. Hmmmm....But no, it didn't freak me out. It's just kind of funny.
That's it for my cool, awesome, fun and PUZZLING ramblings...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Preschool Surprises

Working at a preschool, special ed or not, is always fun and full of surprises. (Some surprises involve bodily fluids and are not that fun, but still...)

Here are just a couple cute quotes from our kids:

Little boy picking his nose....
Teacher: "You need to get a kleenex."
Little Boy: "No I don't, I've got my finger right here."
That's little boy logic for you.

The preschool has a new teacher this year and when last year's teacher dropped by, one of the little boys ran up to her and said, "Teacher! You're here! I thought I lost you." So cute!

And let's just say we have one little boy that aims high when he sits on the potty chair. Last week he hit an unsuspecting teacher square in the chest from across the bathroom. Luckily she had a sense of humor and a clean sweatshirt in her car!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It Just Slipped By Me

I do what I can to spread the joy and put a smile on people's faces, even at my own expense and such was the case today.

Let me preface this by saying I've been inordinately tired this week: sick girls up in the middle of the night with coughing fits and earaches, working a double shift last night (school then restaurant), and feeling like I may be coming down with whatever crud the kids have been infecting the house with for the last week and a half. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)

So, I'm walking into work at the school this morning and I'm passing all the parents who have just dropped their kids off and are heading back to their cars. I notice one gal in particular who looks like she just rolled out of bed a few minutes ago and is shuffling along in her slippers.

Here were my exact thoughts:

She looks tired...
...just like me...yawn...
...hmmm...I have some slippers just like that...
...they make that same shuffling sound...
...kind of like the sound my feet are making right now...yawn..., my feet feel especially comfy this morning...
---looking down---

Yes, I made a lot of people happy today by embarrassing myself at work. Like I said, I am not above sacrificing my own comfort level if it will give someone something to chuckle about for the rest of the day. Yes, today I made a lot of people smile. And it was worth it. (At least that's what I'm telling myself.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Poor, Neglected Blog

I don't know why I've been out of the posting mood lately, but I have. I think Facebook is taking up a lot of my computer time. Facebook is so cool though. I've gotten in touch with all my good friends from childhood there. It's fun to know what they're doing day to day, and to see pictures of their families.

In other news I'm pretty sure the girls had "hog fever" ('cause we're not supposed to call it Swine Flu anymore, right?) Wow, what a nasty virus! Nat was hit the hardest and was down for a good 5 days. Both girls are still hacking and coughing. Yuck.

The cats were very supportive of Nat during her convalescence, however. They never left her side. They stayed next to her and comforted her through her fever and coughing and made sure to keep her cozy during her naps. Pretty heroic, in my opinion. (Or maybe cats just love nothing better than a warm body on the couch covered in a fleece blanket to nap on. Nah, not MY cats!)

Miss Moo has proved herself to be a true mountain girl. The other day she built a fire in the woodstove completely on her own! She knew just how to start it with the smaller pieces, open the dampers, and then add the larger wood as it got going. That's the first lesson in mountain life---keeping yourself warm. She passed. And now she can keep her mama warm too!

In other mountain life news, I still get a kick out of walking through our neighborhood and seeing all the bear sign. I've lived up here for almost 20 years and I've never seen so much bear activity in one place. We lived in far more remote areas and would see an occasional bear, but not have bears be a part of our everyday life like in this neighborhood. The difference being, when this neighborhood was built in the '30s there was a man who was a wannabe Johnny Appleseed and he planted apple trees everywhere around here. And where there's easy food, there's going to be lots of bears. The streets and alleyways here are just littered with piles of bear droppings and I just find it kind of humorous I guess that that is now a part of our normal daily life.
I recently performed at a festival in Richmond. It was pretty cool because it was in a huge auditorium and it just was neat to be on a stage that big (I don't have pictures of us performing just yet though). It did have real honest to goodness dressing rooms too. Usually the so-called dressing room is a large bathroom or supply closet, and all the performers have to share it, but here there was a dressing room for everyone. My friend and I thought the coolest thing was that there were stars on the doors, so we couldn't help taking our pictures in front of them so we could brag that we got the "star treatment"!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Madly Scientific

With Moo gone to a birthday party, I had Nat all to myself. We just recently got a slimy science kit from Scholastic, so she wanted to do an experiment.

First we put a layer of corn syrup (colored red),
then some blobs of baking soda, then a layer of water, and finally a layer of oil. Just that was pretty cool, then we started with the fun stuff, adding vinegar (colored blue).
First just dropping some and watching it turn into blobs between the water and oil, then pushing through to the baking soda for bubbling action. It was really neat to play with.

We're going to do it again when Moo gets home. It was cool to hear Nat say, "I'm smart!" and "I like science!" All through school science was boring for me, but we only did book learning. I think hands on experiments definitely make the difference!

And for my sister, an obligatory kitten picture:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Special Blessings

Working with special needs kids has kind of made me more aware of special needs adults in our community.

We have a man at our church who is special needs. He's my age but I think we all think of him as a "young man". He goes to Sunday school with the teenagers even though he functions a bit lower than that.

Every so often it's his turn to bless the sacrament. His mom prints out the words for him to read and I think everyone in the congregation pays special attention to each and every word, each of us praying with him and praying for him, that he gets it exactly right and doesn't have to do it again.

It's hard to describe the special spirit that he brings to the routine of blessing the bread and water, but it is definitely felt as one hears his voice saying the prayer and struggling to say it just right, or seeing him with his limited motor skills breaking the bread.

It has happened that he has done the blessing on fast and testimony Sunday a few times and invariably, his special spirit inspires people to come up and bear their testimony. That's exactly what happened this Sunday. As soon as the time was turned over for testimonies, a gentleman in the back, who happened to be visiting our ward, popped up and strode to the podium. He said that this special man inspired him to get up, and that he rarely bears his testimony, let alone comes to church these days, but that he could not stay in his chair. He went on to bear a beautiful testimony of the gospel.

It's amazing how these special souls who walk among us touch others, especially if we open ourselves up to their unique spirits. I often wonder as I work with the 3 and 4 year olds at my job, what their future holds. I do know that they teach me more than I teach them, and for that I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cuties, Kitties, Cousins and Booties

Our little cousins came to visit on Sunday and we were so thrilled to see them. Since they moved we don't get to see them on a regular basis and we MISS them!

Nat and Em went immediately to Nat's room and that's the last we saw of them until dinner time. They love playing Barbies and Nat also has a fashion studio toy that includes scraps of fabrics and a little dress manikin that they love to play with. Nat and Em love to design dresses or other girly things (they generally use tape to fasten everything together). They have decided that they will become designers together in the future and guess what they call themselves? The Cousigners, as in cousin-designers. They came up with that themselves. I think they're brilliant.

Moo spent all her time with little Zachy. He was tickling us with his booty-shaking skills and I finally caught it on video. Just too cute and I chuckle every time I see this:

We picked blackberries off our bush and later had them over ice cream. I can't even tell you how good that was!

Lastly, a little kitten goodness:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Old" Friends

I have a good friend at work. We met this past winter when she started working at the restaurant bussing tables like me. Usually the restaurant only hires teens for bussing and dishwashing, so it was nice to have another "old lady" (as we like to call ourselves) to hang out with.

We've become fairly close and just the other night we were discussing how hard it is to have friends, and she said I was really her only friend, and I feel the same about her. I have other friends, but as far as someone I would be really comfortable calling up to hang out with there are only a couple and she's one of them. It's nice to have someone that's easy to talk to and that you feel a connection to.

My friend has a son, and I've known for a while that she lost a daughter just two days after birth. The other night she really opened up about it to me. Tonight she brought the few pictures she has of her baby to show me. How touched I was that she would share this with me. How precious her little one was!

The true mark of friendship is having that feeling that you can open up and spill your heart out and the other person will be there to listen. I feel honored that my friend found that in me and that I could be there for her to remember her daughter.

I'm really thankful for my new friend. Goodness knows it's not easy finding friends when you've got a family to care for and a job to hold down and so many other things that take priority. We "old ladies" have to stick together!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Never Forget

In blogland today there have been a lot of posts of memories of what people were doing on 9/11/01 and how it affected them, so I thought I would write my memories as well.

Well, to start, just prior to 9/11, there was a forest fire burning nearby and our neighborhood was in evacuation stand-by, meaning that we should be packed and ready should the word come. We're no strangers to forest fires up here, but this one was especially fierce, and our stress level was pretty high.

Then 9/11 happened. I, like everyone else, was glued to the tv and horrified as the news kept getting worse and worse. It shook me to my core in a way nothing else has ever done before.

That same day, as the fire inched closer, the planes fighting the fire began circling right over our house on their drops. We lived at the top of a ridge and the planes were so incredibly close. The whole house would shake and the noise of the engines was so loud that nothing could be heard above the din. All I could think of was that those poor people in the towers must've heard something just like that right before those planes crashed into their buildings. The more I thought about it, the more freaked out I started to get. Every pass from the planes began to make me feel panicky.

Then it stopped. The planes were all grounded. Even the CDF planes fighting the fire. No one knew if they could get the fire under control without the air support, and that was even scarier.

The schools cancelled classes for an entire week because the smoke was so thick it was unhealthy for the kids to be outside. Soccer games were cancelled as well, and all we could do was sit around inside wait for news on the fire, and watch more of the horror of 9/11 unfold in the days following.

I began to go into a true depression. Our whole life had been upturned on a local level with all the daily routines put on hold, and our whole country had been upturned in a way I never thought that I would see.

Well long story short, they let the fire fighting planes fly again and the fire was put out, we never had to evacuate, and 2 weeks later I finally started coming out of the worst funk I've ever been in. It was so bad that I really considered seeing my doctor for medication because I knew I had to function for the sake of my kids.

I think the effect of 9/11 rocked me so badly because of my kids. I kept thinking, "What kind of world are they growing up in?", "Will the US be a safe place for them to grow up?", "How can I protect them and keep them safe?" It so scary as a parent to think such things.

Well, now 8 years later, I don't worry so much, and I'm thankful every day that I live in the USA and that my kids are growing up here. I know they will be ok, and so will I. But believe me, I will never forget 9/11. God Bless America.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reflections on Labor Days Past

I remember Labor Day when I was growing up. School always started AFTER Labor Day (for my kids, it's the 4th week of school already!) so there was excitement and aprehension in the air.

There was also the Jerry Lewis Telethon which ruined all the good tv watching on this last weekend of summer freedom. Kids these days just don't get it. We had 3 main channels and a couple low rent channels and that was it. I never really liked Jerry Lewis or his telethon, but I admire him now. (He just raised a crazy amount of money again this past weekend, and didn't even spoil my tv watching to do it! Go Jerry!)

I always liked the excitement of new school clothes and shoes, school supplies, lunchboxes and finding out who my teacher would be. So much anticipation in the air. Of course all that got real old, real fast especially in high school, but still, I have good memories of starting another year of learning.

I still kind of get excited about the start of school for my kids (even though it starts in the middle of flippin' August). I like buying them a new backpack (which I never had!) and new clothes and always make a big deal out of finding out who there teacher is. The only thing missing is an annoying telethon dominating our tv. Maybe I'll work on that next year. I think my kids deserve the whole Labor Day experience.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Awkward Stages

So, someone in our house is going through a bit of an awkward stage. It's a stage where she wants to be grown up, but doesn't want to let go of being a little girl either. Which leads to baby talk and acting VERY goofy, and then getting all pre-hormonal and slamming doors and acting sassy.

It's the pre-teeny-bopper stage. An awkward stage, an annoying stage, a stage that reminds us both that time is marching on and changes are coming, and a stage that reminds me that this stage really isn't THAT bad.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Fruity Post of Rambling Thoughts

Gosh, there's already a nip in the air, and now that Labor Day has come and gone it's like summer has gone with it. Sad news, in my opinion.

I have the distinct impression that this house isn't going to be the easiest place to heat come winter, and I'll probably be wearing lots of layers and sitting by the woodstove. Have I mentioned how I hate being cold? I may just have to get over that somehow.

We have a fabulous blackberry bush in our backyard and every day when I walk the girls home from school up the steep hill to our house, we stop and eat a few blackberries as our treat. I hope that is one of the childhood memories they grow up remembering. I know it's one of the highlights of my day!

Last night we had a visit from the legendary huge bear that roams the neighborhood. No, we didn't see it with our own eyes, but we did see the evidence it left behind.

I grew up hiking in the woods with my dad and when we came across bear scat he was always interested in seeing what the bears had been eating (I'll just leave it at that). Suffice it to say I'm no stranger to seeing bear stuff, but honest to Pete, this was the hugest pile I have ever seen! If it's any indication of the size of the bear, this guy is gigantic! And he REALLY likes apples. I'm just saying...(and I'm glad he's leaving the blackberries alone.)

So ends my rambling post...cohesive thoughts are so hard to come by these days!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Komforting Kittens

Nat is feeling better and I haven't had to hose her off in the shower at all today! I call that success!

She spent most of the day in the recliner with her cozy blanket and I just had to take a picture of her and all her cozy companions.

How can you NOT feel better with this kind of company:

Please Read On An Empty Stomach


I don't do it well.

Meaning when one of my kids is sick, I just don't handle the throwing up all that well, and as a parent it's just inevitable. Yuck.

Take tonight for example. 12:30am, a crying Nat wakes me up standing next to my bedside telling me she threw up. On further inspection in the bathroom it looks like someone dumped a bucket of it over her. Holy Moly! The only thing to do is just start the shower and put her in, clothes and all. As her clothes get rinsed, I take them off of her.

Then I go to inspect the bed...

~insert the theme from Jaws or Psycho or other creepy movie here~

Not a pretty sight. Let's just say a cute, tented loft bed from IKEA does not make for a hasty retreat to the bathroom. In fact, it really hinders a child from leaving the bed in any kind of quick or expedient fashion.

I just went from one end to the other and rolled all the bedding in a ball and took it to the laundry to deal with later. Holy Cow!

I've actually been pretty lucky as far as pukey kids are concerned and I know it because I've heard some real mothering horror stories.

Probably the worst instance I've had to deal with involved Moo when she was 4 years old and had hair down to her fanny. Two words: Top Ramen. It only took me three go-rounds before I figured out that french braiding that hair out of the way would save me lots of time and trouble. Yeah...I'm quick like that.

Then there's that pukey suspense: will it just be an isolated incidence with this one child or is some evil virus having it's way with the others' digestive systems as well? Do you go back to bed or begin a tactical defense by placing towels and buckets near the sleeping, symptomless children in the household? It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop (and for some reason it likes to drop just as mom's weary head hits the pillow). Sigh...

And I'd just like to know why it always seems to start in the middle of the night. What is it about clean sheets, a quiet house, and an unsuspecting, slumbering mother that brings on illness? Truly one of life's deeper mysteries (and bitter injustices, in my opinion).

So, I'll admit it. I'm a pukey-kid wimp. I'd much rather deal with other icky bodily substances over throw up. I think it's unfair that it usually happens in the middle of the night (and in the middle of a bed), and that it causes undue suffering to all involved (especially those reading a blog post written by a bleary-eyed, sleep deprived mom on vomit watch in the wee hours of the a.m.)

Here's hoping my little Nat is better soon and not contagious!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Random Updates With Bonus Cute Pictures

The kitties are thriving and eating solid kitten food now. Yay! Buying kitten formula was a bit expensive! They still like to nurse on soft things, especially Moo's stuffed dog Scruffy:

And here they are afterward:

Suey is doing well with them. When they went from bottle to bowl, they would finish their meal with what I liked to call a "milk beard". They weren't very good at cleaning themselves up so I would let Suey lick them clean. Now they've bonded:

Here's Jo-Jo outside for the first time on a leash:

Here's Princess:

In other news...
Mike brought home a coconut for the girls to try. The coconut milk was gross, but they loved the raw coconut:

Our backyard blackberries, yum:

We must have 10 apple trees, plus a couple pears and tree that has either very small yellow plums or strange cherries on it. I haven't figured out what it is yet.

We had a bear visit our backyard and gorge on apples the other night. I could hear him crunching away right outside the bedroom window. As I was watching him, a skunk trotted across the yard, tail in the air, with a little skunk behind it also with it's little tail flying like a flag. Very cute and they didn't spray so that was even better!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Little Puzzles

Being an aide to a special needs child can prove challenging. I'm so thankful for this job, but sometimes I feel so inadequate.

Nurturing and interacting with small children feels very natural to me, but when you take a 3-year-old with the capacity of a 9-12 month old (so I'm told), all of a sudden techniques that generally work don't work anymore, and you have to start thinking differently.

One of the teachers is so good about explaining how certain children process certain things and really offers a lot of insight.

I was playing in the play area with my little one and she came over and told me that this may be the most difficult area to work in. We need to teach these kids appropriate play: baby is hungry, let's feed baby; put the car on the track and make it go down; stack one block on the other, etc. as these kids often get into their own little world and don't play with toys with a purpose in mind. Interesting...and helpful.

Later on the playground, I got my little one to play for a long time in the sandbox, not just letting sand sift through her fingers, as usual, but actually scooping sand with a shovel into a pail.

There is so much I want to know and learn about this little one so that I can help her to the best of my ability. I think each special needs child is kind of like a one-of-a-kind jigsaw puzzle. They have their own secrets on how they work and the rest of the world has to figure them out.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Updating Before It's All Outdated


The girls started school on Wednesday and are thrilled to be able to walk to school. Mike had to be in charge of first day of school duties (his first time ever) because I started my new job that day. He did a good job. Even getting a photo of them with the principal (bonus points!)

Sis signed up for classes at the local community college and will start at the end of August. It's strange not having her around all the time. Since the move, she's moved in with her dad (only a mile away). Even when she was home, I didn't see her a lot, but at least we had a few minutes a day where we could touch base with each other. I miss that.

I started my new job as a one-on-one aide at a special ed preschool on Wednesday as well. I love it. I feel so blessed to have a job like this that's so rewarding.

I'm still working at the lodge, and yesterday as I went from my kid-centered preschool job to my adult-centered waitressing job I was struck by just how different my two jobs are. At one it's all about play and enthusiasm and simple words, at the other it's all about adult conversation, efficiency and being business-like. Kind of weird to have to shift gears like that all in one day.

Also on Wednesday, Bub and Cass came up to visit for the day. We managed to fit a lot into their short visit. We took a tour of some local caverns:

Wow, that's a really big....thumb

It was really hard to get a decent photo in the close quarters of the cavern.

We then came home and made pizza, then we walked down to the lake, and came back home and had pie and I cut Bub's hair. We had lots of laughs and fun times.

Bub was in love with the orange kitty, Princess

and Cass, who's allergic to cats, was a real trooper who loaded herself up on allergy meds so that she could enjoy them too.

The kittens are doing really well. Im not having to bottle feed them anymore. They're still on formula but I'm mixing some soft cat food with it now. They are climbing and running now and playing like crazy. They are so ridiculously cute. Here is where they like to sleep now with their "surrogate mother":

Consider yourself updated.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Like Butter...

That's what the walls in my livingroom look like. Well, that's actually the name of the paint color too. I love it. It's sunny and cheerful.

This room took a lot of work. First pulling up the old carpet and removing umpteen staples from the floor without damaging it, but so worth it. It was so neat to pull back the carpet and see this beautiful hardwood underneath.

Then we painted the ceiling and trim and the double hung windows (which are a total pain), and of course everything needed two coats.

Finally it was time for the yellow. What a transformation. This room just has a whole new feel to it.

My good friend and my niece helped with the painting. The first day my niece needed to leave and I had to go to work and my friend insisted on staying and painting my ceiling. Now that's true friendship!

The lady that grew up in this house stopped by and I showed her the floors. She says she remembered her mom waxing the floors. All the furniture would be removed and after the waxing her mom would give both her and her sister a pillow and let them slide all over the floor to their heart's content. She said they didn't realize at the time that they were helping to polish the floor.

After surveying the new improved livingroom, she also said that her mom and dad would be proud, and that meant a lot to me.

It's funny how much homier this house feels than any house I've lived in for quite a while. I think part of it is the fixing up, but there's just a homey feeling to it over all. This winter is still worrying me a bit - I'm just not sure how warm we'll be and I hate being cold - but I'm willing to give it a shot.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cat Tales

(I think I should just start ALL my stories with the line, "against my better judgement...")

My friend tells me that the folks where her daughter takes riding lessons have two kittens they found and do I want one? Well, I had been thinking of getting another kitten as a playmate for Sis' kitten as she's so wild and playful so I told her I would consider it.

Later that day we drive out to the ranch to look at the kittens. I know that there's a really good chance that if I'm looking at them I'll be bringing one home, so I'm prepared.

We get there and can hear them already as we get out of the car. I can't believe all the meowing is coming from these two babies. On closer inspection I notice that they're tiny, a lot smaller than I expected. The people say they found them a day or so ago meowing near the driveway. They say they've been feeding them regular cow's milk and moistened food. I know kitties shouldn't have cow's milk so at this point I'm concerned, and I know these people have barn cats they let breed at will, and that they're just anxious to get rid of these two so at this point I commit to taking both of them.

Our friend gave us some soft kitten food and as we drive the half hour home I can hear the babies sucking the juice from the food out of Moo and Nat's hands. It's fairly late, 9:30, so I figure I'll go home and research what I need to feed them and take them to the vet in the morning. As luck would have it I see our vet out taking her dogs for a walk on our way home. I pull over and acost her and ask if she wouldn't mind looking at the two babies.

Our vet is so kind and accomodating that she insists that we come to the office (which is right next to her house) so she can check them out and give us a can of formula to take home.

We found that the orange one is pretty good at lapping milk from a dish but the gray one was having trouble so we got bottles to feed with.

These poor babies were most definitely starving when we got them and once their little tummies were full, they calmed down and even began playing. My theory is that one of their barn cats was a young mama and abandoned the little ones. My friend said that the people wouldn't have bothered with the babies much longer so they wouldn't have survived had I not taken them.

These little ones are a lot of work right now, but they're so darned cute. The vet said that in about a week we can start them on soft solids and they already have the cat box figured out. They do miss their mama though. They suck on their blankets and even on our hands. I'm so glad that I took these little cuties home that night, even though they are so much responsibility. I hope that they thrive and that we'll enjoy them for years to come.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm a Push-over... But You Already Knew That

Yep, this is what we have at our house as of last night:
They're maybe 3 weeks old. We're feeding them kitty formula out of a saucer because they can't eat solids yet. So far they're doing ok. They try to nurse on us though, poor babies. I'll have to write the story of their arrival later, but thought this would be a good teaser.

Fixin' Up

Here are photos of the bathroom before, during and after. The during lasted a LITTLE longer than I expected, but I should be used to it being the wife of a contractor...but Mike finally finished it last night. Woo! (Oh and I should say that the during photo is not representative of how we've been living--the moldy lino was scraped out and I put down a huge area rug to cover up the wood that was underneath.) Anyway, here 'tis:

We used inexpensive adhesive floor tiles. This bathroom is huge, but the flooring only cost $70, with some tiles left over. We'll be reinbursed by the landlord of course.
I'd really like to paint the cupboards (can you believe the amount of storage!?). Any suggestions? I really like sagey green, but am not sure. The walls are white and gold marlite, so they can't be painted, and I wouldn't paint the oak cabinets where the sink is either.