Saturday, December 31, 2011

The End of the World

**Note: the title of this post is an homage to one of my favorite songs...no, not the one by R.E.M., but the old one sung by, I believe, Johnny Mathis. I know the song from the late 90's when Vonda Shepard sang it on the Ally McBeal soundtrack; beautiful version of it.

Anyhoo....

I'm sure by now everyone's heard that world is going to end in 2012. Specificially on December 21st, 2012. That's the day the Mayan calendar runs out so that MUST mean we're all doomed, right? (Maybe the Mayans just figured THEY wouldn't be around by 2012 so why even bother continuing the calendar.) There are lots of theories out there as to what's going to happen on 12/21/2012 and there are probably a lot of people out there who are pretty freaked out. Personally, I don't believe it's going to be the end of civilization but what if I did....

That's what I'm asking myself these days: what if I knew for a fact that we have less than a year to live? Less than a year for me to spend time with my kids. Less than a year to get outside and enjoy nature. Less than a year to show the people I love how much they mean to me. How would I choose to spend these last months...days...hours?

I have a lot of resolutions for 2012 - probably more than I've ever had before - because I have realized that whether my life ends in 12 months or 12 years or 112 years, I have choices to make about how to spend the precious time I do have. Tomorrow is promised to no one, so how do I want to spend today? And if I were gone tomorrow, how would I want to be remembered? It's the choices I make every day that will determine that.

I'll post about my resolutions this week in the hope that will make me more accountable. The usual ones are on the list, as well as a couple new ones that I think will enhance our life as a family. Happy New Year to the Blog World - make 2012 the BEST year of your life!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Year, New Me!

Ok, so it's been FOREVER since I've blogged but that is about to change, my friends. I have a whole bunch of things I will be blogging about in weeks to come and really want to use my blog as a way to get all this STUFF out of my head. You know, the stuff that keeps me up at night and hardly ever lets my mind REST (which is what I need so badly!)

I know it's a bit strange to be blogging about the new year on Christmas Eve, but for us it's actually Christmas night. We did the official Christmas morning this morning and it's a good thing, as Chris was scheduled off today but just got called in to work tonight. A co-worker called in "sick." (But I'll bet he's not too sick to use his Packers tickets tomorrow!) So the kids have gone from totally wound up and wild, to deliriously happy and exhausted from the excitement. It's gonna be a restful evening for me - EXACTLY what I asked for for Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! Back soon!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fingerpainting

Our local library has the BEST programs. I take the boys there every Tuesday morning for Tiny Tots. William and Luke get to sing songs, learn rhymes, listen to stories and do a craft. Miss Pattie is the lovliest woman; she knows all the kids by name and is so warm and sweet. Both my boys give her hugs before we leave and I can tell she is genuinely touched by these little guys.

Last week we made a special Wednesday trip to the library for the "Messy Art Club," which meets every other week. They were offering fingerpainting, which is something I would love for the kids to do more of but NOT in my house!
Things started out very nicely. Note the CLEAN white aprons...

William was BY FAR my neatest artist. He had one finger for each color and there was NO mixing!


You can see there was some serious mixing with the older boys, but thankfully they were able to take care of cleaning up their own mess.


Speaking of mess...


YUK! Not only did he squish the paint through his fingers and then smear it up his arms, he wanted to touch everything and everyone in the room! I just BARELY spared the American Flag! I cleaned him up three times in one hour and each time he screamed bloody murder and thrashed about wildly.


I brought changes of clothing for all the boys, but not for myself which was a mistake. Oh well. I doubt people who see me out with four boys in tow expect me to be put-together anyway.







Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Almost Two and A Confession

I had to get a picture of Luke this morning with "Eyebrow Bear." We went to Build A Bear this summer when we were in Michigan and this is the bear he picked out himself. Do you see any resemblence? Tomorrow is the anniversary of my official due date with him, but he was overcooked (just like his brothers) so his birthday isn't until Tuesday. We are having a small birthday party for him on Sunday so perhaps I will get some pictures and post.

There's a TON going on around here that I haven't had the time to blog about but will try to soon. However, there's one thing I want to confess to the Blogosphere:

I HATE eating with my children.

There, I said it. Am I a horrible mother or what?

I know how important family dinners are. I understand the statistics, about how families that sit down to dinner together are less likely to end up with kids on drugs and in jail. Don't get me wrong - I am ALL FOR family dinners. Just not with MY family.

Here's the scenario: I spend an hour or more preparing a meal. I don't do anything crazy or gourmet and try to make just a basic meal that will be acceptable to kids. Tacos. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Lasagna. In the middle of cooking I may or may not have to deal with at least one of the following distractions:

Two or more of the kids fighting
Luke dirtying his underpants
William screaming at the top of his lungs for no apparent reason
Something being thrown dangerously near the TV
Luke wedging himself between myself and the counter and begging to be held
More William screaming (this phase has been going on for about 6 months now)
One kid tattling on another for something
(You get the idea - it's pretty much chaos at all times)

So I finally finish dinner and ask them all to come up to eat. I dish up four plates and cut the meat. Then I ask them again to come to the table. Maybe one shows up. Then I get all their drinks. Then I say again "Come eat." MAYBE three of the four are now at the table, but I almost always have to physically chase at least one down.

That's when the worst part begins: the complaining. There is almost NOTHING I can put in front of them that doesn't disgust them, UNLESS I made them PBJ's every night. But I refuse to do that. Is it that outlandish to think they might eat a NORMAL meal every once in a while? Seriously, it's SOOOO discouraging!

So then the next 20-30 minutes is a rapid succession of "stop touching him," "get back up to the table," and "JUST EAT!!!" It's truly the worst part of my entire day with them, almost without fail. Isn't that just PATHETIC???

So the last few nights I have made dinner for everyone and then I leave and walk the dog. I come back 30 minutes later and clean the kitchen. Perfect! I am soooo much happier this way! I don't even feel really bad about it because family dinners at our house are enough to drive ME to drugs!

Any moms out there with older kids - will the experience EVER get any better?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Toy Harvest




video


Yes, I am one of those parents who often wonders WHY we spend so much time and money on picking out just the right toys for our kids to play with, especially with this (see video) going on at our house these days. And the best part about these "toys" is that when the kids get tired of them, they will end up in a tasty salad with crumbled feta and fresh dressing rather than thrown all over the living room for me to trip on.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Everyone's Favorite Topic: Pottytraining

I can tell you this is NOT my favorite topic lately, but one I am VERY familiar with. Luke will be 2 on September 20th and I've now been training him for about 3 months. Oh. My. Gosh. It's horrible. Well, it's not horrible ALL THE TIME but that's actually what is making it so horrible, because the inconsistency is KILLING ME.

The last two days have been perfect and he's even slept through the night in underwear both nights and woke up dry. Score, right? WRONG! I took him to a friend's house today and he did #2 in his pants. WHAT? He's been SOOOO good with that for the last few weeks - always going right after dinner - and then today he goes at 2pm and NOT after a meal? UGH!

But to make it even worse, I had already used the one pair of underwear I had in the diaper bag for William. Yes, WILLIAM!!! That kid has been trained for about 7 months but just today decided he was too busy to stop playing for 2 minutes. Maybe I should just pack the diaper bag with clothing for all of us, huh?

Anyway, I was thinking about how even after having 4 kids I am still learning every day. With the first two boys, I did what all the experts said which is to train around age 2 1/2. I must say, that was the WORST age to train. Both Owen and Sammy were VERY resistant and it took me a looooong time. I tried again at that age with William but he, too, was resistant. So I gave up and tried again when he was just over 3. It took about a week, so he was definitely the easiest to train.

As frustrated as I am right now, Luke has still been easier than the older two boys were. He "got it" right away so that as long as I take him to the bathroom at regular intervals, he will hold it for me in between trips. And even though there are accidents and some might say that it's ME who's trained, not him, I am definitely not going to put him back in diapers at this point. Just because someone has to walk for the remainder of a marathon, does that mean they should just go back to the starting line? I'll just keep walking, thank you very much.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Back in the Game

Ok, so I figured out how to get out of my funk: GET BUSY! And that's what I've been doing lately. The house is actually looking decent after 10 days of filth and clutter. I put together four bags of random things to go to Goodwill, which always feels really good. Then my friend, Hayley, who just had her first baby (a boy!) in April made an off-hand remark that she really doesn't have any toys for little Wesley. Poor, poor Hayley. She doesn't realize what she's gotten herself into, making a statement like that to me! Seriously, if I could ship every single toy out of this house I would in a SECOND! So there's a bag of baby toys on their way to her, as well. (Luke doesn't really want baby toys anyway - he only wants what the big boys have.)

Another thing that has helped get my normally positive attitude back is structure. I crave organization in all things, including my daily schedule. So I'm back to walking the dog in the morning and have put a few other touchpoints into our days so that by the time I go to bed at night I always feel like I accomplished something.

More so than January 1st, the end of August/beginning of September time frame always feels like a fresh start to me. I loved those days of buying all new school supplies and finding the perfect outfit for my first day of school. I am trying to be more diligent about using my planner now, especially with my business obligations, and have also downloaded the Taskos app on my phone. I don't know which one will work better for me but will soon find out.

At the end of each day, I've instituted a new tradition: Dance Party. The boys have just 3 songs to get their energy out and show me their moves. They are loving it and I hope you will, too.

Happy Weekend!


video

Friday, July 22, 2011

In a Funk

It's so hard to believe it's almost August now. July was a blur: we left for Michigan on July 3rd and we (the kids and I) were there until the 14th, when we came back to Wisconsin with my mom. Chris had to come back on the 8th to work, so we spent almost a whole week there without him. My mom just left yesterday, so today was our first day back to normal in almost 3 weeks.

So now that the whirlwind has subsided, I am in a total funk. Why? At first I really wasn't sure what has been bothering me. Maybe I am missing my family and "home" (Michigan), I thought. But that can't be it - it's been five years since we moved out here and I absolutely love it. I literally thank God every day for the beautiful sunrises, peaceful lakes and winding country roads I get to experience out here. Why would I miss metro Detroit?

Could it be just that I miss the excitement of getting up and having fun every day? Our vacation was GREAT - we went to pools and waterparks and a parade, had a birthday party for Owen and just generally enjoyed the change of scenery. The kids were extra good because they were never bored. Now that we're home and it's been so darn hot, they're cooped up in the house and getting into some mischief. Could this be why I feel so "off" emotionally right now?

Today I really thought about what it is and I really think I've figured it out: I miss girls. When we were in Michigan, I got to spend time with my mom, my sister and all my nieces. It was SO WONDERFUL to have other females to talk to and commiserate with. Although I love my boys desperately and am SO BLESSED to have them, but there are many days that I just feel like a fish out of water here in this testosterone-filled house.

There are no quiet days of coloring books, no watching "Xanadu," no shared pedicures. It's wrestling and sparring, Star Wars and laughing at various bodily functions. I get the occasional night out with my girlfriends, but once a month (or less) doesn't curb my appetite for female companionship. When I worked full time, I shared an office with my friend Hayley so I was fine. But now, I feel so alone. It's not adult company I need - it's FEMALE company. I know this because I enjoyed so much the time I spent this month with my nieces ranging in age from 6 to 17. I can RELATE to them so well and I guess it makes me a little sad (again) that I'll never have a daughter.

I hope this post doesn't make me seem ungrateful for all the wonderful blessings in my life. I just needed to get this off my chest. Hopefully these feelings will subside and I'll be able to enjoy my weekend with my boys.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Movie Night

It was movie night last night. Whenever we have movie night we pretty much stick with one of the Star Wars movies. They seem to appeal to all of us, including me. Last night it was "The New Hope" which, for both of you non-Star Wars fans out there, it's the first one.

The boys think it's pretty funny that my favorite Star Wars character is Jabba the Hutt. I tell them all the time that he seems to be the only one who's really having a good time in life. Everyone else is running around trying to either save or control the entire galaxy, but Jabba's happy just hanging out in his underground palace partying it up. He has dancers and singers there, everyone's just relaxing and he even has some really cool wall hangings (or at least one I can think of.) Sure, it ends badly for Jabba in "Return of the Jedi" when Princess Leia chokes him but at least he got to see her in that bikini, right?

So here was the scene in the living room last night...
Once the popcorn came out, so did the little thief. He had already eaten plenty of mine and then moved on to poor William's...



His brothers forgive him anything, though, especially Sammy. Below is a picture of them the other morning when I came out from taking a shower...


I just love the way he loves him. So cute!

Chops

Ask me how much I'm loving having a brown-eyed boy? One of my favorite things about summer is that the boys (especially the younger two) get to show off their "chops." I've always called their thighs "porkchops" and they know I just love to nibble on them. You know that patch of chunk on the inside of the knee? YUM!

I don't think the neighbors minded the other night when I had Luke outside without his shorts on, do you?






Morning Worship Service

I walk the dog just about every morning. We go roughly 2 miles if I have the time. I tell you, it doesn't matter what Chris ever does for that dog - he is MY dog strictly because of these walks. I really enjoy the time alone to start my day and have always been a morning person, so it works out great.

I took a picture of the front of our house this morning, in case anyone is curious to know where we live. I'm always curious about that stuff. Chris put in the basketball net last year - don't we have the PERFECT driveway for it? Our house is pretty small for all the people we've packed into it but you know what? I can clean it well enough to have company over in just under an hour. So I don't mind being a bit cramped.
So after my walk with Scrabble, the last stop is the steps across the street. Last summer our very nice neighbor acquired a thin strip of land that leads down to the lake and right away built a wonderful staircase leading to the water.



He did SUCH a beautiful job! I can't remember how many pounds of cement he said he used for the posts, but basically a tornado probably couldn't rip it out; it's VERY sturdy.

Once I get down the steps, here's my view...




I wish I had a better camera or that at least the light would have been better this morning because these pictures don't do it justice. I see lots of birds while I'm there, especially herons and there's even a family of Canadian geese that live near the shore. I was excited to see an otter swim by once, but then Chris burst my bubble by telling me it was a muskrat.


This is where I stop and say my morning prayers. They're mostly full of gratitude, especially for nature and our home that's so close to it. For a girl who was born and raised about 10 miles from Detroit, living here for the past five years has been incredible. There's not a day that goes by that I take it for granted!


I also pray for strength for the climb back up...



I think it's only about 55 steps but it sure looks daunting from the bottom, doesn't it?


Friday, June 10, 2011

"She"

I sang this song to my tummy a few years back during those wonderful months I was convinced I was having a girl. For those of you not familiar, it's a song by Elvis Costello off the "Notting Hill" soundtrack.

I dreamed of having a daughter to sing this to, but as it turns out I had William instead. No matter - the words are still so beautiful and poignant and perfectly describe the feelings I have for my 3 year old...(I just change the "she" to "he" now.) He is every bit as dramatic as any girl would have been, I think, and yet makes me laugh a hundred times a day.

When I tell him not to throw he says "I'm not throwing, Mama. I just tossing." And if I tell him to stop screaming, his sweet reply is "I'm not screaming. I just yelling." He has me wrapped around his finger and he knows it! I feel so incredibly blessed to have had him and can't imagine my life without him. Thank you, God, for unanswered prayers!






He may be the song that summer sings,

May be the chill that autumn brings,

May be a hundred different things within the measure of a day.



He may be the beauty or the beast,

May be the famine or the feast,

May turn each day into a heaven or a hell.


He may be the reason I survive

The why and wherefore I'm alive

The one I'll care for in the rough and ready years


Me, I'll take the laughter and the tears

And make them all my souveniers

For where He goes I've got to be

The meaning of my life is He.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Through the Eyes of a 3 Year Old

We have these little guys EVERYWHERE in our neighborhood. They're so cute, especially to Chris and I who never saw any in our home state of Michigan. The kids love them, too.

Yesterday on the way to the bus stop we saw one, but it was dead in the middle of the street. Unfortunately, the large population of "chickmunks" (as William says) also leads to a large number of casualties. William was very sad upon seeing the little guy and lamented, "Poor chickmunk. He layin in the road cuz he's sad." I loved that death has yet to enter William's reality, so I asked him why the chickmunk was sad. "Cuz he can't find his giwlfrend."

The chickmunk was gone this morning and we were all overjoyed that he must have found his girlfriend and run off to marry her.

Have I mentioned how much I love staying home?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oh, the love...

We've had Luke's "big boy" bed waiting for him for over a year now. It will be the unused bottom bunk right below Owen. I didn't realize how patiently his brother, Sammy, had been waiting, too.
Yesterday I was in the basement and found the guardrail we will use for him. I washed it up and put it on the bed while the boys were outside playing. When they came in, Sammy was excited beyond belief to see it. "Is Luke going to sleep with us now? Can I sleep in the bed with him?" Then he went back and forth from the nursery, gathering all Luke's stuffed toys and blankets. He set them carefully on the bed and then coaxed Luke up to see everything.

I knew Luke was still a bit too young to make this transition. Our other boys were around this age (21 months) when they gave up the crib, but they all went into a toddler bed AND to their own room, where it was quiet. It will be quite another thing to have Luke move into a room with 3 other boys who stay up late talking (sometimes fighting). When Sammy found out Luke would not be sleeping in the room with them yet, he was CRUSHED. I had no idea it meant so much to him - he was literally SOBBING.

To make it up to him, I offered to have him sleep in Luke's room with him, to which he immediately agreed. I put a large blanket on the floor and had him grab his sleeping bag and pillow. I put Luke in his crib and Sammy laid on the floor next to him. I closed the door and never heard a peep.

But before we went to bed, Chris and I went to check on them...

I've never seen such an incredible bond! This morning when I went in the nursery, Luke was still sleeping (thumb in his mouth, per usual) and Sammy was just laying there gazing at him and gently rubbing his back. I tear up just thinking about it.



Shirts vs. Skins

I've been struggling with the lack of pajamas for my older boys now that the weather has finally gotten warmer. They have outgrown all their cute summer pj's from last year (except some Thomas the Tank Engine pj's, but they scoff at wearing those. "Too babyish.")


So I went to Walmart yesterday (that mecca of fashion that it is) and realized my expectations for summer pj's for boys has been all wrong. There were racks and racks of pajama bottoms, but no shirts to go with them. So maybe, I thought, the thing is for boys to just sleep shirtless. Is this correct? Well it was last night at our house...
And I decided to let the two little boys get in on the action, too, since they copy everything their older brothers do. (I saved them the trouble of taking their own shirts off later.)

With all these shirtless boys, I REALLY feel outnumbered. (But I love it!)

Friday, June 3, 2011

So how's it going?

Ok, it's been almost a full three weeks since I officially became a SAHM (or WAHM, if this business of mine starts to pick up.) This is a life I've dreamed about for YEARS and I'm now assessing if it's really all I thought it would be.

The answer is YES! I would say the only thing that's a bit surprising to me is how busy I am - MUCH, MUCH busier than when I was sitting at a desk for 9.5 hours a day. I swear, I get up by 6am and never stop until around 9pm. There are moments of down-time (like right now) but for the most part I am 100% productive from the time I wake until about an hour before I turn in.

Here's a look at my daily schedule right now:

5:45am - wake and dress to walk the dog. We walk for 2 miles and then I go across the street to the steps that lead down to the lake. That's where I have a few quiet moments of prayer before I officially start my day.
6:40am - Home from the walk. I have a few minutes to feed the dog, check emails and figure out what's for breakfast.
7am - Time to get everyone up. We have 45 minutes to get all 4 dressed, fed, teeth brushed, etc before we head out to the bus stop.
8am - Wave goodbye to the bus and then home to play with the two little boys. It's been nice lately so they like to be outside a lot.
9am - MAMA TIME! I sit them down in front of "Super Why" and have a quick 1/2 hour to shower/dry hair/etc. One great thing about not working - NO MAKE-UP most days. WOO HOO!
9:30am - Back outside for more play or stay in and play. Yesterday we did fingerpainting and then, of course, baths. I start laundry at this time, too, so I can get at least one load through before lunch.
11am - Sesame Street is on and that's a great occupier while I fix lunch.
11:30am - Lunch
12pm - Bottle for Luke, stories for William and then NAPS! I'll admit, I like to fall asleep with William for a bit but am usually up after just a few minutes. Today it was 10 minutes - just enough to get me revved up for the rest of the day.
2:30pm - Need to wake the boys at this point, otherwise they will be up all night. We play some more and maybe I do a bit of spot cleaning (depending on how much I got done during their naps) before we head to the bus stop.
3:30pm - YAY! The bus is here and I get to talk to Owen and Sammy about their day at school. I just love that short walk home when they talk excitedly about things that happened. It's something I've always wanted to do with them and it's lived up to all my expectations.
4:30pm - after more play time, I have to start dinner. I usually make something terribly disgusting, like last night's meatloaf muffins, mashed potatoes and fresh carrots, so as to gross them all out. (sarcasm) I have the older boys do their homework while I'm working on dinner and the little boys just play (or fight) for a bit.
6pm - After dinner it's whatever we want to do. Most evenings we go for a walk, maybe a bike ride. Last night I took them to the McDonald's playland and you'd have thought I took them to Disneyworld - they were SOOOO appreciative. (I really should take them out more, huh?) We even got the 49 cent ice cream cones for the ride home. YUM!
8pm - PJ's and bed time. I let them watch TV until around 9pm if they're good. Of course Luke is still in his own room so he doesn't stay up past 8pm but that will be changing soon, since I need him to give up his room for my home office.
9pm - End of my "workday." It's a lot longer day than I used to have but a LOT more rewarding and I feel so blessed every day to be able to stay home now.

Gotta get back to being productive (blogging doesn't fall into that category, sorry!) and will have to fill y'all in on what I do with that FREE 2.5 hours I have while the babies nap. :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Almond Joy Cake

I've been waiting to make this recipe for almost a year now, wanting to make sure I had plenty of other people around to eat it. I finally decided our vow renewal weekend would be a great excuse to indulge in all these calories and to influence others to join me.

I wanted a round cake with layers instead of baking it in a 9x13 pan, so I ended up with way too much of the coconut filling and the chocolate topping. It doesn't look very good in this picture, but believe me, it was DELICIOUS!

Here's how I would make it the next time, halving the amounts for the filling and topping:

Step 1: Chocolate cake mix with pudding, mix and bake as directed on box. (I used Betty Crocker double chocolate that already has pudding in it.)

Step 2: On stovetop in saucepan, mix 1/2 can evaporated milk and 1/2 cup sugar. Boil rapidly, then ad 12 large marshmallows. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1/2 bag (7 oz) coconut. Spread between layers of cake and then over the top layer.

Step 3: On stovetop in saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, the other 1/2 can of evaporated milk and 1/2 stick of butter. Stir until boiling. Remove and add 1/2 bag chocolate chips. Add almonds and spread/pour over coconut. I also added more slivered almonds to the top for garnish.

Enjoy!

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Decade

Has it really been ten years? I was trying to remember what I thought life with Chris would be like on May 26, 2001. I know that I thought for our 10 year anniversary we'd take a trip back out to the coast of Washington State and stay in Cabin #10 at the Klaloch Lodge again, just as we did on our honeymoon. Did I think by then we'd have any kids, much less FOUR? I guess not.

Well, we didn't take a trip for our anniversary but a few people did...
From left: my nieces Elizabeth (top) and Erica, BIL Keith, sister Katie, our family, my mom (next to me) and Chris's parents.

And there was no place I'd rather have been.

We had a wonderful visit with everyone. My brother and his family arrived later on Thursday evening so didn't make the ceremony but it was great to see them. My family all left on Saturday and Chris's parents left on Sunday morning. It's seemed really quiet ever since.

I am so fortunate to have friends in the wedding business; Marcia officiated the ceremony, Matt did the pictures and Renee made the bouquets for my sister and I. My friend, Stephanie, also got us a wonderful suite at The Grand Geneva. I got to watch TV from a huge jacuzzi - what a treat! I owe them all a tremendous amount of gratitude for helping to make our anniversary celebration one to remember!




So here's my favorite picture of our family. It wasn't easy to get the kids to all look at the camera at the same time AND not act goofy. I especially like William's expression in this one...



I am so grateful for the tremendous blessings of the last ten years....now on to the next ten!




Monday, May 23, 2011

Oh. My. Gosh.

I haven't been great about blogging and have been even WORSE about taking pictures, so bear with this image-less post. But I have to record some of the excitement of these last 10 days since I stopped working full-time.

It's been SUCH a whirwind for me! There were two days last week that I was gone for almost 10 hours - one when I went up to Milwaukee to see my friend, Darcy, who did my hair. Darcy was a stylist in a former life but is now the Director of Catering at a Sheraton outside the city so she took some of my business cards and added me to their preferred vendor list. Darcy and I met many years ago during my stint on Mackinac Island. She knew the old me, pre-marriage and kids and keeps all my secrets for me.

On Wednesday, I had to go to a meeting in the Chicago suburbs with my florist friend, Renee, who is having me work with her on a really large wedding in July. It's at one of the mansions on the lake and is VERY intense so she needs all the help she can get. I came home absolutely EXHAUSTED from that meeting, even though technically I had spent most of that day just sitting in the car.

On Friday, I had my very first wedding consultation. I was sooooo nervous! It was a referral from a girl I know who works at one of the local golf clubs that does a lot of weddings. I had run into her at Walmart the Saturday before my last week of work and told her what I was doing - three days later, she emailed me this gentleman's name. So I met up with him and his wife and his daughter, the bride, on Friday evening. I had thrown together a few printed materials for them to look at and basically just spent an hour doing my best to listen to them. That was my strategy: to listen. Well, it worked because at the end of the consulation, the father of the bride said that he was "extremely impressed" by me and today he called to hire me for my highest priced package. WOW!

I know it's just one booking, but I'm pretty encouraged by the fact that it was my very first consult AND I haven't even been doing this for two weeks! Now I just have to get 15 more to be able to make more money than I even made at my 50+ hour a week job. I know wedding coordination is going to be a lot of work, but at least I'm not sitting in a windowless office for 10 hours a day. The flexibility of being one's own boss is something I think just about everyone longs for and now I have it! Praise to God!

And this week is going to be another crazy one because our families are coming in for our 10 year vow renewal on Thursday. I'm so excited to have everyone in for this visit and also to get some really great photos out of it courtesy of my friend, Matt Mason. He took the family pictures for our anniversary last year, too, and I just love them. I hope the boys behave themselves during the ceremony and for the pictures afterward.

After this weekend, hopefully things will get back to a more "normal" schedule and I'll be able to focus a bit more on growing my business and getting my name out there. But I'm certainly not going to wish away the next few days - it's going to be so fun!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Firsts

I took Scrabble on our usual 2 mile walk this morning and watched the sun coming up over the lake. There was a difference this morning, though: I didn't have to watch the clock and worry about being late for work. Wow, it still hasn't hit me.

I have already received a referrel for a wedding next April and so I will meet with them this Friday evening. Prior to that I have a TON of stuff to prepare: price lists, contracts, credit card authorization forms, etc. I went to an accountant this morning and set up an LLC and will go to the bank tomorrow to set up my business account. I guess I didn't realize how quickly things would start happening for me, but I'm so grateful for all of it!

I have two other potential weddings on the line, too, for next summer. And I haven't even "officially" launched yet! It's going to be a very busy couple of weeks around here but beginning in June, I will really be hitting the pavement and trying to get my name out.

We are also really excited to have our families coming up next week for our 10 year vow renewal. It's so nice of them to make the trip out here to celebrate with us. Although we do love living here in Wisconsin, it's hard to be away from our families so much. Hopefully we will do well enough this summer to allow us a trip to Michigan later in the year, too.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Endings...

Well, this is it: my last day as a full-time working mom. I can't wait to spend this summer with my beautiful boys!



When I started in hotels on my 23rd birthday (just a few years ago, folks!), I never imagined I'd be working in them this long. The only reason I even interviewed for that job in reservations was because my friend wanted to work there but she didn't have a ride. So that was how I got started in my long and illustrious career in the glamorous world of hospitality.



I've done a lot of traveling and met so many great, great people over the years. I have a few lifelong friends to show for it and this career also allowed our family to move to this beautiful area that we are thankful every day to call "home." I haven't made a TON of money at it, but enough to support my growing family for the last 7+ years. Overall, this industry has been good to me.



I truly feel, though, that I've been on a trajectory toward this moment for a long time and, now, here I am on the eve of becoming an entrepreneur. It's so exciting and scary, heading into this unknown territory but I'm so thankful to have the love and support of my family and friends. I don't know what I'd do without them!



Chris, especially, has been wonderful. He is willing to step up and do whatever it takes to allow me the freedom to take on this challenge because he understands how hard it's been on me all these years, leaving my babies. Even leaving them with the best dad in the world doesn't make up for the pain in my heart as Luke cries "Mama, Mama" every morning as I put my makeup on. No more of that! (Luke crying, that is. Makeup will ALWAYS be a part of my life!)



So today I will say goodbye to all the wonderful people at my job (and to those who are not-so-wonderful, too) and never look back. At 5pm I will start my life anew and see where it takes us. Stay tuned to hear about our lives in transition....



Happy(est) Friday!











Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Since I'm having such a hard time getting through my last few days at this job, I thought I would try to focus instead on the things I am thankful for. But that post would be pretty much about my kids and my family, so perhaps just the things I am going to be thankful for when I get home tonight after the kids go to bed...

Popcorn, the way my dad used to make it - oil, a pan and some Red Robin seasoning. YUM! And the best part of having it as an adult is that my mom won't pig it all so there will be stale, chewy stuff left for breakfast tomorrow. Best way to start any day!

I'm sooooo glad we just found a store out here that carries this Michigan memory! None of us can get enough of it, so I go with diet (the ONLY diet drink I like) and guzzle it freely.



Curled up with Chris on the couch, we have to keep skipping back on the DVR because the lines on this show are so fast, furious and FUNNY! We like Community and The Office of course, too, but this one is my personal favorite.


What are you thankful for this Thursday?





Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Useless

That's exactly how I feel right now: useless. Today my co-workers, in an effort to move forward, have divided up my work so that now I officially have NOTHING to do. Until next Friday, I have to sit here at my computer doing absolutely nothing for 9.5 hours per day. For anyone who's ever been chained to a desk, you know what this feels like.

But the worst part is that while I sit here, I know there are little boys at home who love and miss me. Yes, I'm getting paid to sit here but it's a pretty dismal way to spend most of my waking hours when I know what's waiting for me at home.

Regardless, I will do it. Only seven more days....66.5 hours...3,990 more minutes....until I'm FREE!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's in a Name?

I think naming a child is a huge first responsibility for parents. This is something Chris and I took VERY seriously. I couldn't wait to get baby name books from the library the minute I found out I was pregnant. We talked endlessly about girl names as well as boy names, but then put all the books away until we had the ultrasound.

Once we found out we were having a boy, we got down to business. Chris liked names like "Walker" and "Parker" and "Sawyer" and I did, too, but I just didn't like the sing-songyness of a first name ending in -er because our last name ends in -er. So a lot of name options got nixed just because of that.

I liked names that didn't have a nickname because I always hated getting asked in school if I preferred to be called "Rebecca" or "Becky" and I also didn't like that if anyone DID call me by my full name, it almost always meant I was in trouble for something.

Eventually, we settled on Owen Robert. His middle name was determined long before his first name. It's the name of Chris's favorite uncle who was just 7 years older than him and died when he was 21.

Since seeing "Legends of the Fall," I had loved the name Samuel. And I loved how in the movie, they never called the youngest brother "Sam" or "Sammy," just "Samuel." So that was our second choice and we immediately knew when we got news our second one would be a boy that he would be Samuel David (David for my dad, who died in 2001 shortly after we got married.) Funny thing is, almost immediately after he was born, Samuel became Sammy - it just suited him perfectly!




I love this picture of them because they were just about the same ages here as William and Luke are now.

We didn't have an ultrasound with William, but I was CONVINCED he was a girl. We picked out a name and I called "her" by it whenever I would rub my tummy, dreaming of future mother-daughter pedicures. Seven days after my due date had passed, Chris told me we HAD to come up with a boy name which I thought was a colossal waste of time. We were waffling between Jack and Luke (middle name would be Gregory after Chris's dad) when I said, "What about William? We liked that name at the beginning." Chris immediately said, "That's it. It's William." Two days later, William showed up.



Can I just tell you how difficult it is to come up with this many boy names? When we had the ultrasound for our last one and found out we were to add a fourth son to the mix, I was SO DONE picking out boy names. We really wrestled with it for a long time and this was definitely the hardest to decide on. My pick early on was Cash but Chris didn't like it. Another favorite was Gage, but both of those options seemed a bit trendy and didn't match up with the classic names we had picked for the older three.





We finally decided on Wyatt and the middle name would be Christopher, since we had pretty much run out of other male family members. We got into the hospital elevator on the way up to have him and Chris asked if I was really set on Wyatt. I'd been having second thoughts and told him I really still liked Luke. Less than an hour later, we welcomed Luke Christopher into the world.



But now I would like to present.....Jaden and Mike.



A few days ago William decided he would like to be called "Jaden" and we have to call Luke "Mike." Not sure why we agonized so much over their names if they were just going to change them anyway.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Quote About Motherhood

“The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral -- a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body.... The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God's creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other human creature. God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation.... What on God's earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother.”

Friday, April 29, 2011

Don't Wanna Miss a Thing

I sure do miss these little guys....
But that's all coming to an end very soon.

In the last seven years, I have worked a minimum nine hour day. My job now requires me to work no less than 9.5 hours a day, even in the winter when there is literally NOTHING to do. I have to sit there....and sit there....and sit there....and at 5:30pm I can finally leave. In the summer when we hit wedding season, I have to work the minimum of 9.5 hours every day but then also 12-14 hours on Saturdays. I barely have time to see Luke, who reaches up and cries "Mama" now, as I'm trying to put makeup on in the morning. It breaks my heart every day.

I've missed so much of their lives...first smiles, first words, first steps. I'm absolutely determined not to miss any more. And that's why I quit my job today.

Am I scared? Oh gosh, yes, I'm scared! But it's an exhilarating scared, like on a roller coaster where you know there's gonna be a steep drop but then you'll go right back up again. This is risky, but all of life is risky. Helen Keller said "Life is a daring adventure - or it is nothing." I'll take the daring adventure.

I've been working on the website for my wedding planning business and my business cards are on order. I can't wait to get this show on the road and I truly feel that within a year I will wonder why I ever hesitated. But until then, I will be on my knees every night praying for God to help us make ends meet. I'm accepting prayers from anyone out there who wants to join me.

If you want to check out my website, here it is: www.somethingbluelakegeneva.com. I named the business "Something Blue" in honor of the four boys that I'm so excited to spend more than an hour a day with. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter at Our House

We had such a wonderful Easter weekend! The weather was actually pretty nice - partly sunny and around 60 - so that helped a lot. On Saturday, Chris was at work all day but we had fun anyway. I took the kids to a local firehouse that does an annual pancake breakfast and egg hunt. Well, it was actually more like an egg GRAB because they just threw hay over a section of the floor in the firehouse and covered it with eggs. When the announcer blew the whistle, it was ON! I took a few pictures of that on my phone, but none that are really "blog-worthy."

The Easter bunny came on Saturday night and the boys woke up to this:
Those balls were a favorite of all the boys, even though they were meant for the little ones. There wasn't a TON of candy, but they loved every last bit of it and ate more than they should have before church.

Have you EVER seen anyone eat Peeps like this? He never even broke them apart!



All 4 boys got a camo hat in their basket and Luke absolutely loved his. He is into hats these days - mostly the putting them on and taking them off part. Within a few minutes of waking up he had already smeared chocolate all over his pj's so this is what we got to spend Easter morning with:



OMG, is there anything cuter?

After naps, Chris hid about 100 eggs all over the yard and the boys had a GREAT time finding them. We're definitely going to do that every year for as long as they are still interested. Such fun!

It was a wonderful treat to have a Sunday when neither Chris or I worked (first time since March 27) so we enjoyed the time together as a family, as well.


I am loving that the boys are all understanding the real meaning of Easter now, thanks in part to the wonderful children's program at our church. Owen and Sammy also go to AWANA on Wednesdays and already know a lot more Bible verses than I do (not saying much!). Even William is paying attention. The other day he pointed to my Bible and said, "That's about Baby Jesus. It's NOT about Dope." (Dope is the cat, for anyone new to the blog.)


Hope you all had a Blessed Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just a Few Pictures


This is how he looks first thing in the morning. You do NOT want to mess with him until after he's had his coffee, obviously.

And this is what he looks like the rest of the day:

All smiles and sweetness...and then you turn your back and he's thrown your wallet in the toilet.


Last picture. Owen's hair looked especially good that day and I wanted to take a picture. So I got him to sit in the usual picture-taking spot (the fireplace) while I grabbed the camera. At the very last second, he made this face: Of course I was NOT happy with this, but he was incredulous. "But that's one of my cool looks!" Chris and I were both curious to know what other "cool looks" he has up his sleeve. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what he comes up with.



Happy Sunday!

Anticipay-ay-tion

Whenever I try to say that word, I end up sounding like Carly Simon.

This picture was taken yesterday. Owen sat there waiting like that for close to an hour. It was to be his first sleepover and boy, was he ever excited! I don't think Chris or I expected a midnight phone call for us to come get him, but neither one of would have minded a bit if it had come - might have been a little flattering, actually, to think he would miss home that much. But, no, the call never came and I picked him up at noon today. He seemed really happy and really tired and a bit different to me...like maybe he grew up even more overnight. Or maybe I just haven't noticed how much he's growin up every day until he spent a night away from me. At any rate, he's back home where he belongs and we're back to the normal noisy chaos, which feels good.

Another reason for the title of this post is that I believe our two months of waiting is almost over, or should be over this week for sure. For those who don't know, Chris and I have been trying to make a huge change in our lives, one that will require a lot of sacrifice and faith in God for help.

For the last 7+ years, I have been the primary financial support of the family with Chris being a stay-at-home dad and working part-time to supplement. This has put a strain on all of us because although it might work best for some, Chris and I are traditional people and instinctively long for the traditional roles. It's been a long 7+ years, but I'm thankful for how things have turned out because it's my job that got us out of Detroit and to a beautiful part of the country that we'll be happy to live in for the rest of our lives.

Anyway, Chris's supervisor lost her job about two months ago and he posted for her position right away. It took about 3 weeks before they called him for an interview and then they told him it would be 2 weeks until they had a decision. At the time he interviewed, there were three applicants total. It's now been 3.5 weeks since his interview, and he heard through the grapevine that all told, there ended up being about FIFTY applicants! Apparently that's why it's taking so long, because they had a ton of interviews of both internal and external candidates. So although Chris is very good at his job and is a great interview, competition for this postition is quite steep.

It's been a looooong time since I've prayed for something this hard. I think it's only prayers that will help at this point, whether he gets the job or not. The position would be Monday-Friday from 7am-4pm, so would allow a lot more family time than we've EVER had. There are so many, many ideas I have for making the most of that family time but everything is on hold now and has been for what seems like FOREVER. But, again, I believe the waiting will come to an end this week because they had their last interview on Friday.

I will just have to keep praying that no matter what happens, we are able to pull through as a family. If he does get the job, there will be much rejoicing but also some apprehension, as it will be a pay-cut for the family. But we will figure it out as we go along and I've got a few ideas up my sleeve for ways to pull in some additional income in my spare time. So please pray for our family this week, if you can, and we'll continue to hope for the best.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reptilian Voyerurism

I have a funny story to share from a couple weeks ago when the weather was nice and I was home with the boys on a Saturday.

Note: I was originally going to call this post "Snake Porn" but decided to take the high road.

We were all enjoying the sunshine, except for Owen who had done something (can't remember what) to warrant being sent to his room for a bit. When I came back outside after talking to him, Sammy said "I think I see a snake!"

Naturally, I was excited. Some moms wouldn't be, but thankfully I grew up with two brothers who taught me the joys of creepy, slimy things. So I ran right over and found a VERY long snake next to one of the basement windows. Upon further inspection, I found it was actually TWO snakes who were stuck together: it was a mother snake giving birth!


I right away called for Owen and gathered all the boys around to witness this "miracle of life." I pointed out how the "mama" snake's abdomen was moving, clearly trying to push out the rest of the baby. I even showed them the "umbilical cord." The only thing I didn't quite get was why the "baby" snake was a) almost as big as the "mama" and b) why he was kind of dusty, not "fresh-looking" like I would think a snake who was fresh out of the shoot was. After about 5 minutes of taking pictures and ooh-ing and aah-ing over this beautiful display of nature at its finest, the neighbors behind us came over to see what we were all gawking at. I told them what was going on and showed them how the snakes were still connected and Nick took one look and said, "Um, Becky....they're breeding."

As soon as he said it, I knew he was right. Oops! I told Nick I was really thankful for his choice of words since the kids were still right there. It was really funny. Nick even went and got his computer so he could read all about what the miracle of birth for snakes is really like. I guess they give birth to a lot more than one baby at a time - more like 30+. The most on record for a gardner snake was 98 babies at one time. WOW! The boys were undetterred and continued to play with what they called "mother snake" and "baby snake" for the rest of the afternoon.