Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Anyhoo, Chris and I are going to take part in our own Frugal Challenge in 2011. He is naturally a pretty frugal person, with his only real weakness being fast food since it's so much easier to feed the kids in the drive thru. I, on the other hand, have many weaknesses. Just yesterday I bought myself a really cute turtleneck. I didn't need another turtleneck, but it was only $4.80! How could I resist?
So here are the ground rules for this challenge:
1. Necessities have already been agreed upon. For instance, I was able to clear my face moisturizer as a necessity, but the one I have that's also a self-tanner is NOT. Most personal hygiene items will be considered necessities but I was unable to talk him into allowing make-up and nail polish.
2. At the other's request, any receipt has to be presented. So if Chris goes grocery shopping, I might ask him for the receipt and check to see if there's gum on it (another one of his weaknesses). If there is, the amount for whatever non-necessity he purchased will be subtracted from his monthly allowance.
3. We are each going to have a $20 per month allowance to spend as we wish. We will not be questioned on how we spend this allowance.
4. Any purchases made that are non-necessities for the family (i.e. the occasional pizza) need to be agreed upon by BOTH parties.
5. Although we want this to go through 2011, we will have a 6 month check at the end of June. At that time, whoever has saved the most of their $120 allowance money (6 months x $20) wins the other person's savings. (So I guess if I get to the end of June and feel like I might lose, I will hurry up and blow the rest of my allowance, right? ha ha!)
Of course we expect to save alot more than just the allowance money, as this will cut out all unnecessary spending from our regular income as well. Anyone who knows Chris will think he has the upper hand in this challenge, but anyone who knows ME knows how competitive I am. So I think it's a toss-up on how this is going to transpire. I'll keep you posted! Wish me luck!
(Until midnight on Friday, I'm free to spend at will but darn it! I'm out of money because of Christmas! BALLS!)
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I have quite a few resolutions for this year and many, many things to look forward to. I'm more excited about this upcoming year than I've been in a loooong time and I hope to bring all my dreams to life very soon! In the meantime, I've definitely been staying busy at home with the boys. They are practically bouncing off the walls these days and I can't say I blame them - this Christmas is going to be FANTASTIC for them, esp with the *surprise* visit from their Nana and Pa from Michigan. (SSSSHHHHH! They have NO idea!)
Chris is working all day on Christmas and I'm taking the boys out caroling in the neighborhood. What a fun tradition to start, don't ya think? We're having our Christmas on Sunday, so I'll be sure to get some pictures posted then.
Merry Christmas to all!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
He got a few wonderful gifts, including a personalized video from Nana and Pa. He loved seeing his face on that dancing elf's body and kept laughing and saying "It's ME!"
His favorite gift was from Grandma, who ordered him this Batman Big Wheel Trike. It makes revving sounds and says "To the Batcave!" and he just loves it!
Unfortunately, his little brother loves it, too, and can't wait to get on it the second William gets off.(Luke is getting to be quite the little devil, by the way. He has taken to pushing the kitchen chairs to whatever he wants to climb up to, especially the kitchen counters. This way, he has free access to the computer, the phones and I even caught him playing with Daddy's Ipod the other day. So during the day Chris has to lay all the chairs on their sides to prevent this. William has been following his cue and now tips this trike on its' side when he's leaving it unattended. Pretty cute, huh?)
Birthday cake was next and I think he enjoyed his "day-day cake" almost as much as the presents. Well, who wouldn't? I put an entire stick of butter in it!
I will never forget William's homebirth and look back on that experience as one of the best of my life. The labor and delivery was really long and it was a hard delivery, too, but being in my OWN bed with him as he was breathing his first breaths was incredible. I loved that when his brothers woke up in the morning, they were able to crawl into bed with us and together we poured over every last inch of that little miracle! At the time, I was irritated that my health insurance was so bad that it basically forced me into having a homebirth. But now I'm so glad things turned out as they did and love that I have that memory.
Happy birthday to my William! We love you more than you will ever know!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
He built this in two days....
He used mostly scrap wood from the garage but did have to buy a couple 2"x4"s. He bolted our existing tree stand to the top.
I love the simplicity of his design. Each tier is 4" tall so I'd guess this added about a total of 10" to the height of the tree. As I stated in my earlier post, we chose a smaller tree than we normally would have for our high ceilings because this was in the works.
Here's how it looked after we covered the base. Is it the perfect size or what? Last year we picked a very tall tree but getting a tall tree also meant getting a very WIDE tree, which didn't work in our small house. This way, we're getting the height but not the circumference.
There are several other reasons this platform is Christmas GENIUS!
1. We didn't have to cut any of the low branches off the tree to make room for presents underneath.
2. There are those two tiers for presents, so once they are all stacked up under there they won't be spread across the living room and it will look really nice, I think.
3. There's only a very small portion of the tree that's within the reach of curious little hands. (Not that any hands will even go near this tree - we specifically asked for the most prickly kind of tree they had and WE GOT IT!)
4. Chris wanted me to mention the SAFETY aspect of the tree. With a flimsy little tree stand, some people resort to wiring their trees to the wall to make sure it's not knocked over. There's NO WAY this thing is going anywhere.
We enjoyed decorating it last night and here's the finished product...
We're not big into garland and all the other fanciness - just lights and ornaments for us.
Chris is already talking about improving on the design and making us a new one next year when he has more time. I told him he could probably sell this one for $20. What do you think?
Cutting down our own tree is a tradition for us now and this is our 3rd year. Growing up in metro Detroit, there weren't exactly a plethora of tree farms so 2008 was the first year either Chris or I had done it and we were instantly HOOKED! In fact, 2008 also marks the first year Chris had EVER had a real tree! Amazing!
Anyway, here are some pictures. You might remember that we went WAY overboard last year with our 12' tree. This year we kept ourselves under control and stuck to about a 6 footer, especially knowing it would be elevated. (more on that later)
We bring our own saw. I think this is the only time it gets used all year.
The tree looks really small in this picture, doesn't it?
Loaded up and ready to go home....just as soon as the kids are done on the sledding hill. Well, half of the kids anyway. These two were content to sit in the warm car sucking on candy canes.
Monday, December 6, 2010
I had the four boys suited up and outside by 9am to play in it on Saturday and I snapped a few pictures of them. Here are a couple of Luke, who was not at ALL disappointed when I took him back inside. Does this kid need a Florida vacation or what???
Dear Becky -
You are a child of God and HE loves you, so I guess you might as well love yourself also.
There are a lot of good things you've done in your life, not the least of which is bring 4 beautiful boys into this world. You have tried so hard to do what's best for them and continue to strive to be a great and FUN mom. It's difficult for you to have had to shoulder the bulk of the financial responsibily in the family, but somehow you've kept your chin up and did what you had to do to keep the family afloat.
One great thing about you is your optimism. You very rarely get too down, and even when you do it's just a matter of time before you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and find something to look forward to. You know that things are always changing and you believe for the most part they will change for the better, not the worse.
You laugh a lot and encourage others to. You are learning every day and trying to be more and more kind to others. You have dreams for the future that include helping people and making a difference. You have great empathy, especially for the elderly. You do your best to appreciate small moments and not to worry too much about what tomorrow might bring.
You believe in your ability to be a great wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and co-worker and that belief keeps you motivated. You relish all the good memories you have and try your best to dismiss the not-so-good ones.
You have great teeth and are a friend to anything chocolate. :)
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I have been praying for patience for many years and I do believe I actually AM pretty patient. But I've recently realized that the most patient person in the world would still be stretched to their limit with these four boys. So while I continue to work on my patience, I also need to control how I handle when (not if!) I do lose it.
Last week I had a talk with the boys as we were leaving church. I told them I don't want to yell at them anymore, but that I need their help to make me realize when I'm starting to get out of control. So I came up with this...
(Seriously, how could anyone yell at this little guy???)
This is their new signal to me whenever I start to raise my voice. And it works both ways, when I need them to be quieter and settle down. I've told them if they expect it to work on me, it also has to apply to them. It's only been a week but it's worked like a charm and I thank God for giving me this idea.
Friday, November 26, 2010
**Note to self: it's unrealistic to think that a working mother of 4 boys under age 7 can find time to sit down at the computer and come up with anything even halfway coherent to say on a daily basis.
Day 20 - Your views on drugs and alcohol.
I have never been into drugs (although I love to sniff a good marker, gasoline and turpentine!) but have indulged in a few cocktails in my time. I like to have a drink now and then, but the lure of it isn't very strong anymore because of the headache I know I'll wake up to. I'll do just about ANYTHING to avoid a headache? (amazing, coming from someone who willingly had 4 kids, huh)
Day 21 - Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
I immediately forget what the argument was about, of course. What friend wouldn't?
Day 22 - Something you wish you hadn't done in your life.
Oh gosh! I could go on and on! I try not to dwell on regrets, but I guess if I had to narrow this down to just one thing I would wish I hadn't believed so much in other people. I keep my expectations of people pretty low these days so as not be as bitterly disappointed as I used to be.
(I also kinda wish I hadn't had that pie and ice cream last night. Did I really need another 400 calories on top of what I already consumed yesterday? )
Day 23 - Something you wish you had done in your life.
Again, I could go on for a long time with this one. But one thing that always bothers me is that my grandma died in a nursing home at the end of January, 2004. I hadn't gone to see her since NYE that year. Sure, I was working full time and Owen was about 6 months old so I had other things on my plate, but I've always felt badly that I didn't appreciate my time with her more when I had it. I miss her.
BTW, I'm hoping that 2011 will bring quite a few changes in my life so that I have LESS of these "things I'd wish I'd done" by the time I'm in a nursing home. I'll keep you all posted!
Day 24 - Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs.
This could be a long post, but I'm just going to go back to the songs I've chosen for my boys. These are the songs I've sung to them since they were babies and will be the songs we dance to at their weddings someday (God willing)
Owen: "You Belong To Me," the Vonda Shepard version that's on the Ally McBeal Soundtrack
Sammy: "When You Tell Me That You Love Me," the Diana Ross version
William: "May You Always," by the McGuire Sisters
Luke: "The Love of My Life," by Carly Simon
Day 25 - The reason you believe you're still alive today
God loves my mom and knows it would kill her to attend my funeral. Seriously, that's what I believe to be the reason.
Day 26 -Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Yes, I've thought about this? Hasn't everyone? But I'm glad I didn't because I now have four beautiful boys and I prefer to focus on them and all the other blessings in my life than the hard times I've been through in the past.
Day 27 - What's the best thing going for your right now?
Anyone reading this blog knows the answer to this one.
Day 28 -What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
I'd be SHOCKED for one thing, but of course I'd be excited and thrilled. What other reaction is there to have when God blesses you with a new life to cherish?
Day 29 - Something you hope to change about yourself and why.
I could go on and on about this one, too, but I will stick to the one thing I want to be and that's more patient. I think a lot about that line from "Evan Almighty" when God (Morgan Freeman) says to Evan's wife (Lauren Graham) that if you ask God for patience He doesn't give you patience; He gives you opportunities to BE patient. I have a TON of those and I apparently need to make better use of them!
I'll save Day 30 for next week, since it's a long one. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 19, 2010
Day15 - Something or someone you couldn't live without, because you've tried living without it.
This would have to be chocolate. I went without any sweets for Lent last year and it just about killed me! I'll have to come up with something different for this year.
Day 16 - Someone or something you definitely could live without.
I could live without having to work all day and be away from my family. Sure, it would be a financial struggle but I really think it would be worth it.
Day 17 - A book you've read that changed your views on something.
I don't know if this counts, but I really enjoyed reading "What Falls Away" by Mia Farrow when I was in my early 20's and that book led to my love of autobiographies. Reading it made me realize how every person has their own struggles and how much more alike we are than different. I highly recommend that book to anyone. I didn't know much about her when I picked it up from the library, but she had a VERY interesting life to say the least!
Day 18 - Your views on gay marriage
Being Christian, I am fundamentally against gay marriage.
Day 19 - What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
I think both can be used for good and both can be used for evil. Both become much more dangerous the more power they are given. I guess that's because both are operated by people, who are inherently flawed.
I do go to church and pray for our politicians. I'd like to believe they are good people and can avoid the temptations that come with being in power, rather than believe they are bad people who are only interested in power.
Ok, that's enough truth for one day. My mom arrives today (WOO HOO!) and will be here for 10 days. I should do a pre-mom weigh-in and let you know how many pounds I pack on while she's here.
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Here are a couple pictures of our little star in his classroom.
His teacher's name is Mrs. Gunderson and she just loves Sammy's sense of humor. She "gets" him, which is so nice.
We're so proud of our Sammy and can't believe he'll be 6 in just a couple of months. Where has the time gone???
This is the table at the center of the room that was set-up by our friend at M&M Events out of Chicago. Derrick is so much fun to work with and we always look forward to his visits. Isn't that centerpiece stunning? He didn't give us a price on what that would cost to reproduce with fresh floral, but I'm guessing it would be upwards of $1,000.00. WOW! Our local florist told us the large branches in the middle at cost are $80 each and there are THREE in it. Derrick did tell us that each stem of the lily of the valley is $10. Amazing!
Friday, November 12, 2010
This is extremely hurtful to me because #1, I know it's the most important thing I will ever do in my life. And #2, I harbor a tremendous amount of guilt because I have to work a minimum of 47.5 hours per week at my job.
Of course people (including those close to me) probably don't realize I NEED to hear that I'm a good mom every so often, but my insecurities get to me and I feel like the reason no one's saying it is because it must not be true. I struggle with this just about every day.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Day 10 - Someone You Need To Let Go, Or Wish You Didn't Know
Again, with the negative topic! JEESH! I'm just going to skip this one.
Day 11 - Something People Seem To Compliment You The Most On
The physical trait people most compliment me on is my smile, which I'm sure has to do with my teeth, as mentioned in a previous post. I think as far as a character trait, I get the most compliments on my sense of humor.
But the compliment I'd MOST like to hear is that I'm a great mom. I don't think I could possibly EVER hear that enough!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Then there was Helen, this really nice lady I worked with when I was in my late 20's. It was a hotel near the Detroit Airport. Again, this is someone I mostly remember laughing with all day, someone who made going to work a true pleasure. I miss you, Helen!
But I think the person who stands out most in my mind is my friend, Michelle. We had been good friends since we were 12 years old when I transferred to her school. We remained friends through all the ups and downs of high school and into our 20's. When I got married, we didn't see each other as much but remained close. As we get older, it's not as important to see people all the time but I just knew she and I were still friends. She got married shortly after I had Owen and we always joked about when we were old widows we'd get an apartment together somewhere and argue all the time (as friends who are more like sisters often do!)
After I moved to Wisconsin, things went south quickly. It wasn't the geographical change, it was more what was going on in her life. Her marriage wasn't going well and she struggled with infertility. I'd make an effort to spend time with her when I visited family in Michigan, but she never wanted to see me if I was with my family. She confessed to me, finally, that it was "very difficult to be around kids and especially babies" since she so badly wanted one of her own. Her marriage has since ended and at 38, I'm sure it's very difficult for her to accept that she's not at all where she wanted to be in her life. I stopped making an effort to reach out to her and we haven't spoken in over a year.
I've felt so hurt by this. As my friend, shouldn't she have put aside her own feelings and be happy for me that I have a family? I'm certain we would still be friends if I were still single, but I can't put my own dreams on hold just because she is unable to fulfill hers. Anyway, it's very sad because we had been friends for 20 years and now we casually ask mutual acquaintances about each other, but neither of us reach out directly.
I've thought about sending her a Christmas card this year (with my kids' faces blocked out, of course) just to let her know I'm thinking about her and wish her all the best. What do you think?
Monday, November 8, 2010
On a more positive (?) note, Owen has his first crush. Last night he confessed to me that he "loves" Hannah. I met this girl briefly a couple weeks ago, but don't really remember much about her. I asked him what he loves about her and he told me she's very nice, that when he had to sit in the principal's office during recess she gave him a handkerchief. What for, I asked? "For the tears...that was REALLY nice." I agree!
I thought it would be so hard to see my boys start to have an interest in girls and I'm sure there will be times I struggle with it. But if a girl at school wipes Owen's tears when I can't, I'm all for it! Thank you to all the moms out there who have daughters and are raising them to be kind and to wipe my sons' tears. I, in turn, will try my best to raise sons who don't cause your daughters any tears. (Tall order, but I'll give it my best shot!)
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Day 6: One Thing You Hope You Never Have To Do
Any mother will say the thing they hope they never have to do is outlive their child and of course that's true for me to. But I'm a huge wimp and will also say I hope I never have to see any of my kids really sick. Even if they live through a bad sickness, I just don't know how I would be able to deal with them being in pain and not be able to help them. I also don't want to have to deal with anyone in the medical profession on that level, as I'm not a fan. (sorry if that offends anyone, I just don't trust doctors.)
Day 7: Someone Who Makes Your Life Worth Living
Again, as a mother the predictable answer here would be to say my kids and that's true. But how boring is that answer? So I'm going to look beyond that obvious statement and think about someone else who makes my life worth living: ME!
My mom and I talk about this all the time, how Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is within. I know that every day I have to choose and find my happiness, so I do. I'm not saying I don't have bad days (yesterday, actually, was a really bad one) but I try so hard to be a positive person and barrel through all the CRAP and just focus on the fun things along the way. My brother says you have to have the "hide of a rhino" to get through this life and that's probably true. But there are also so many wonderful people and things out there that make it worthwhile and all I have to do is look a little to find them.
But I will admit, having these four little guys helps a lot. They find fun in every day, too...
I have a whiteboard here over the computer in the kitchen and every week I put a quote on it. The quotes come from this little book, "Timeless Wisdom - A Treasury of Universal Truths." The quote this week is by that awesome poet lauriet, "Anonymous."
Cherish your yesterdays,
Dream your tomorrows,
But live your todays!
With that, I leave you to live MY today. It's going to be 60 and sunny and the Packers are playing tonight. Happy Sunday to all!
Friday, November 5, 2010
For all those SAHM's out there, know how LUCKY you are. Yes, it's a hard job but it's soooo worthwhile and you'll never regret being able to spend that time with your kids when they're young.
I'm hatching a plan to hopefully be able to make this a reality for me fairly soon and in time to at least be there for William and Luke when they are babies. Wish me luck!
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Therefore, I will gloss over the more serious issues I've had and instead tell you that I need to forgive my neighbor for letting her dog out to bark at 4:30am. For the past several weeks I've woken up to this barking dog at 5:30am and been very irritated by that, but this morning when it was 4:30am I was BEYOND angry. Then my blood pressure went up and I found it hard to get back to sleep even after she let the dog back in the house.
This is the same neighbor I had the conflict with last year regarding her daughter's lack of attention to detail when babysitting. Remember this post? Anyway, I'm trying to figure out if I should say something to her or just let it go. This particular dog is quite old and blind, so I don't think I'll have to put up with it THAT much longer. I'm generally a pacifist so I probably won't say anything. Anyway, I guess I need to forgive her for being so inconsiderate to ALL her neighbors, not just me.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I think the one thing I have to forgive myself for is not being able to spend enough time with my kids. My heart aches every day because I can't be there for them when they get off the school bus or to make dinner for them while they're doing their homework. I know being a stay at home mom would definitely have its ups and downs, but at least at the end of my life I would know I spent my time on earth doing something incredibly worthwhile. Being here at work, I don't feel that way at all. I already regret all the hours spent here, even if they do pay the bills.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
#1 - Something You Hate About Yourself
I don't normally use the word "hate" and have taught my boys not to use it either, but I guess if I could change one thing about myself it would be my competitive/jealous nature. I struggle with it a lot because I miss out on being happy for others when something goes well for them. I am very guilty of trying to "keep up with the Jones'" and that's led to a lot of heartache. I do try to remember that everyone has their own cross to bear and focus, instead, on the many blessings in my life.
#2 - Something You Love About Yourself
First of all, I absolutely love that I'm a mom. So many of my friends have struggled with infertility so I know I'm incredibly blessed to have four healthy boys.
I want to sneak in a 2nd thing I do love about myself: my teeth. They are so strong and straight and they certainly have served me well (perhaps a little too well, at times! ha ha!)
Monday, November 1, 2010
When we got home, Owen took off his Michael Jackson wig right away because it was itchy. William, who up until then had had to wear that silly little blanket as his "hair", was thrilled to take it from him. He immediately laid face down on the floor and did a scary "rising from the grave" routine while singing "Thriller." He slept in the wig and wore it at breakfast this morning, too. He's so funny and entertaining!
I'm trying to avoid the candy but we'll see how long that lasts. I really need to bring it into work, where I'm sure a pack of ravenous wolves (my co-workers) will devour it in no time flat!
Friday, October 29, 2010
The boys' nana is in town this week to help them with their actual Halloween costumes, which I'll post pictures of hopefully early next week. She was glad to come in this week because she got to go to their school on Wednesday to have lunch and participate in Sammy's Halloween party.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
Luke Christopher, 10 months old