Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011: The Year of Frugality

My own personal idol is Heather at Wanting What You Have. She's a stay-at-home mom to 3 kids and she and her husband achieved total debt freedom (even their mortgage!) about 3 years ago. This past year, she racked up a huge hospital bill from having her 25 lb baby (ok, slight exaggeration there, but he was over 12 lbs for sure) and has already paid it off. Not only is she my idol for her frugality, but also her organizational skills. I aspire to be more like her and someday, somehow get this house in order! I know keeping it in order is another story, but if I could at least go into my spice cabinet and not find AA batteries.....ah, to dream of such a world!

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

Looking forward to 2011

Yes, I know I should be focusing on Christmas which is just a few days away, but as usual at this time I begin to get very anxious about the new year approaching. Many people dread making New Year's Resolutions because they feel like they never keep them, but I do enjoy the challenge of making them and TRYING to keep them, at least until the end of January.

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

Another fan of the tree platform

Dope has found his favorite place to rest...something he gets too little of, with so many little hands so ready to pull his tail.

Happy Birthday, Sweet William!

On Tuesday we celebrated William's birthday. And I'm kind of exaggerating by using the word "celebrated" because it was pretty low-key. Everything had to wait until I got home from work around 6pm but until then he was fielding phone calls from our family in Michigan...

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

Our Christmas Tree - Part 2

It's not often I brag on my husband but if there was ever an occasion to do so, it's now. He came up with this idea to build a platform tree stand and at first I didn't know at all what he meant. Then he used the magic words "tiered like a wedding cake" and the lightbulb went on.

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?

Our Christmas Tree - Part 1

It's not often between school and work that we all have a day off as a family, but this Sunday was one of those lucky days. Not only were we lucky enough to have a day to spend together, but we also had just gotten our first snow on Saturday so it turned out to be the perfect day to get our Christmas tree.

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?

Chris just about killed himself dragging the overly huge tree out last year, so this one was a piece of cake for him.
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

Not a Fan!

We got snow this weekend - only about 4", but enough to cause some excitment in a house with four little boys. Growing up in Detroit, it was always a question of whether or not we'd have a white Christmas or not. Out here in southeast Wisconsin it's definitely not a question of IF we'll have snow by Christmas, but how much!

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???

He just stood there like that for a long time, until Owen pushed him down "accidentally" (right after I told him not to!) and then he cried and cried. Poor little guy!

Last Day of Truth (a little late!)

I've been putting off the last of the 30 Days of Truth because it's a difficult one for me. I'm supposed to write a letter to myself listing all the reasons I love myself. Why is that so difficult to come up with? If I was asked to list all the things I don't like about myself, I imagine that would be a million times easier. That's very sad, but I'm guessing that's also true for a lot of us. At any rate, here goes:

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. :)

Love you!
Love, Me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Confession

I have a confession to make: I'm a yeller. I come from an excellent yeller (sorry, Mom) who truly lost her mind on many occasions when she had four little children at home, and even many other times when we were older. I, too, have had a difficult time controlling my temper. I have yelled at my kids more times than I can count and I just hope that as they grow older the memories of me yelling will be dim.

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

The Last of My Truths

I'm just going to wrap up this whole truth thing so that I can be done with it and stop feeling guilty for not blogging every day. I apologize in advance for the lengthiness of this post.

**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

Some Quick Truths

Ok, so I'm way behind on the truth-a-day posts. I'm going to try to quickly catch up all at once:

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

Sammy is Star of the Week!

My Sammy is Star of the Week in his kindergarten class this week. On Monday he had to bring in his "All About Me" poster and then every day this week he gets to be teacher's helper and bring different things in to let his class get to know him better. Tomorrow he's bringing in little rubber frogs. How are those representative of Sammy, you might ask. Well, he has a "froggie freckle" on the inside of his right arm. It really is shaped like a frog and what's great is it was HIM who pointed that out to us!

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???

SUYL - My office

I need to break up all these days of truth with some pictures, don't ya think? I'm getting bored with my OWN truth, so I can only imagine how both of my faithful readers feel! ha ha!

Anyway, I did a post of this last year but here is my office again. I consider this a "Show Us Your Life" post because really, this is the place I spend the vast majority of my waking hours. (sad, I know.) It's recently gone through a bit of a renovation so take a look and let me know what you think....

Here is the view from the hallway outside. Our photographer friend, Matt Mason, gifted us a 2nd canvas to put in the window so it balances out the other one. I'd gotten used to just having the one and it being off-center, but now I just LOVE having it look more symetrical. Not to mention, the images used were from MY wedding. (Well, not actually mine, but one I put more effort into designing than my REAL wedding so I claim it as MINE.)

Once you go down the steps into the office, to your left you see this:Those two small round tables on the left used to be set on the wooden floor, which I'll show you in a minute. The table in the back used to be near our desks. It's where we (my officemate and I) meet with clients and show them photo albums of weddings we've hosted. The shelving unit on the far wall holds brochures from area vendors, which is also very helpful when touring prospective brides.
Below is the odd wooden floor that was part of the room when we moved in. It's a strange shape and we were never sure what to do with it but I think I found the perfect solution. The mock head table looks fantastic there, don't you think? I also hung the paper lanterns left over from one of our brides over it. We get asked about hanging those all the time so it's great that as soon as a bride walks in, she sees we are #1 up on trends, and #2 able to do this for her.
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!

Sadly, we have come to the end of my tour and the last stop: my desk. Oh, how pathetic it looks in that sad corner up on its cinder blocks! Yes, folks, this is where I spend 9+ hours a day. NOW do you understand why I so long to be a SAHM? Rather than being here all day.... I could be with these guys... Oh and in case you're wondering, I LOVE my stand-up desk! I really can't imagine going back to sitting down all day. There've only been a couple days when I've had to go to work sick that I've longed for a chair, but most days I'm sooooo glad to be standing. And by the end of the day, I don't feel badly AT ALL for plopping myself down on the couch for an hour or two. I deserve it!
More truth tomorrow....

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 12 of Truth: Something You Never Get Compliments On

There are lots of things I never get compliments on, but I will go back to my last post and say that I almost never get compliments on being a good mom. My own mom is about the only one who ever tells me I'm doing a good job.

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

Days 10 and 11 of Truth

I missed yesterday, so let's catch up:

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

Truth Day #9: Someone You Didn't Want To Let Go, But Just Drifted

Oh my gosh, I could go on FOREVER with a list of people who've made such a great impact on my life but who are no longer around. There was this guy I worked with at Little Caesar's when I was in my late teens. His name was Scott and we laughed every day virtually from the moment we punched in until I drove him home. He lived a block away, but often we had to continue whatever we had been laughing about all day so I'd have to take him home.

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

Another Day of Truth

Ok, I really want to skip today's topic, which is "Someone Who Made Your Life Hell or Treated You Like Sh**." Really, what's the point? I don't want to dwell on those people in my life who have hurt me - I just want to move on. I do learn from those tough experiences. I learn about the person I DON'T want to be and I also learn to quickly eliminate their negativity from my life.

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

2 More Days of Truth

I was too busy yesterday to blog, but still kicked myself at the end of the day for not doing it. Even with the extra hour we got going off DST I was still ONLY able to do 3 loads of laundry, including bedsheets and curtains, make the beds and re-hang the curtains, wash all the windows inside and out, clean the gutters, make a yummy dinner (homemade chicken fingers, mashed potatoes, veggies, from-scratch peanut butter cookies for dessert) and then clean the kitchen and sweep and mop the kitchen/dining room floor. Anyway, even if they give me an extra hour it's not enough, but I AM glad that extra hour came on a weekend when I was off work at least.

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

Day 5 of Truth: Something You Hope To Do In Your Life

This is actually pretty easy because there are a LOT of things I hope to do. But without question the number 1 thing is to eventually be a stay at home mom, or at least to work out of my home. Whenever I have a random weekday off, I can't WAIT to walk to the bus stop to pick them up at the end of their day. I find that 10 minute walk where they tell me about their day at school is the BEST part of any day for me. I'd also LOVE to be there to help them with their homework and fix them a yummy dinner.

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

Day 4 of Truth: Something You Have to Forgive Someone For

This is a REAL bummer topic for me. I knew it was coming up and thinking about it last night was very depressing. I don't know that I'm very good at forgiveness, but over the years I've become an expert at burying my feelings of hurt and disappointment. Looking back at my life, there are many things I need to forgive people for but then I think there are probably a lot of things other people need to forgive ME for, so who am I to throw stones?

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

30 Days of Truth: Something You Have To Forgive Yourself For

These topics are getting harder as the days go on and I'm not entirely sure starting this was a good idea, especially looking at Day #19 (stay tuned for that!)

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

30 Days of Truth

Ok, I'm starting a day late for November so I am going to do #1 and #2 today and then pick up with #3 tomorrow. Hopefully I can remember to post every day, but we'll see...

#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


We sure did have fun this year! The boys got to wear their costumes for a haunted walk through the woods on Saturday night and then again for trick-or-treating last night. As you can see, they were all zombies, except for Luke who wore Owen's old gorilla costume. Last year we spent Halloween in Michigan and none of the kids were that into the trick-or-treating, but this year they all loved it, especially William. He loved that he got to be something scary, just like his older brothers.

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

Halloween Fun at School

Happy Halloween to all! The boys have been OBSESSED with Michael Jackson lately, especially since watching the "Thriller" video more than a few times on the computer. They are so cute trying to copy the dance moves in their MJ outfits (above)

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.
These are the treats we made: Oreo spiders (with a few "albino" ones thrown in, per Chris's suggestion) and banana ghosts. Check out this table full of food for the kindergarteners! I was a big fan of the "fingers" made from string cheese with a piece of pepper for the fingernail. YUM!
There were a few fun crafts for the kids to do, including making jack-o-lantern treat bags, ghost hand puppets and cookie decorating.

This is Sammy's best friend, Ryan. He talks about him all the time. But certainly the best part of the day for him was sharing it with his Nana!
Back with Halloween pics in a few days - I promise! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back by Popular Demand

Ok, not really popular demand, just a request from my former roommate, Lisa, who lives in Germany and seems to be a bit hungry for updates on life in the U.S., or at least rural southeast Wisconsin. (Hi Lisa!)
I just can't believe how quickly the weeks fly by these days! People have warned me that as your kids get older, you actually get busier and busier but I never believed them. What could be busier than changing diapers, warming bottles, etc? But it's true that it takes a lot more effort to keep the two older boys from wrestling/fighting/destroying and most of the time that effort involves getting in the car and going somewhere....anywhere...
Anyway, I'm only going to post pictures today of my two little boys. Luke is almost 13 months old now and has been walking for about 8 weeks. He is really learning a lot - he says bye-bye, mama, dad, high five (with the action), bird, ball, bear and hi. He also gives kisses on command. (Thank you, Daddy, for teaching him that!)
William is about the only person in the world who hasn't fallen in love with Luke, as you can tell in this picture. He says "Beh-Beh is not my friend!" and does mean things like slam doors in his face and pushes him down. Any toy the Beh-Beh has is ripped from his hands the minute William sees him with it. It's quite sad, but of course we know it's a phase and we're just trying to ride it out while discouraging that behavior as much as we can. Hopefully soon he'll realize how adorable Luke really is and that he definitely IS his friend, a friend for life!
I'll be back with more pictures of Owen and Sammy soon, along with reports of how they're doing in school.

Monday, August 9, 2010

End of an Era

I'll admit, I'm getting a little weepy these days realizing my days with an infant in the house are numbered. Luke will be a year old on September 20 and I just can't believe how quickly this year flew by! I was thinking that in order to keep me from getting TOO sad about not having a baby anymore, I would put together a list of the things I will NOT miss...
I won't miss labor and delivery pains....but, oh, how I'll miss that moment when I met my sons for the first time....
I won't miss midnight feedings...but I will miss the feel of that warm body snuggled up against me, making those little cooing sounds....
I won't miss diapers...but I will miss the smells of baby powder and baby lotion...
I won't miss having to babyproof the house and move all my fragile stuff out of reach...but I will miss witnessing all the milestones and seeing things through the innocent eyes of a baby...
I won't miss cradle cap (YUK!)...but I will miss brushing that soft fuzzy hair...
I won't miss all the crying...but I will miss being able to comfort and make everything ok, especially knowing that someday they will cry and nothing I say or do will make it better...
I won't miss lugging that stupid pump to work every day....but I will miss stopping what I'm doing several times a day to take care of my baby, even when he's not with me...
I won't miss all the laundry...but I will miss all the tiny socks, onesies and outfits that say things like "Mommy's New Man." (I doubt they will wear anything like that in high school!)
For all the things I won't miss, there are hundreds of more that I will cherish in my memory forever. But for now, I still have this at home so I'm trying to live in the present...

Luke Christopher, 10 months old