Monday, December 17, 2012

Watch Out For The Poor

This is what Micah says to me the other day.  Each day on on our way to school we stop at the exact same intersection. And every day there is a person standing there with a sign asking for help.  The people change - but we consistently see the same 3-4 men.  At least once a week Micah asks what we can give them as we sit waiting for the light to turn green.  Usually I answer with, "well, we don't have anything to give them. We could bring a bar next time." But of course I always forget.  I came to dread this intersection because I would usually be the first person in line at the stop light, sitting right next tothem the entire time.  I would smile and give a little nod, but that was it.

Then on Facebook, I saw a post by someone who works with the homeless population about needing disposable hand warmers.  And of course the next time I was in Costco I walked right by a display of hand warmers.  After looking at them for a few minutes, trying to decide between hand or foot warmers, I threw one in the cart.  Then I added a box of individually wrapped crackers.  When I picked Micah up from school that day I told him I finally had something we could hand out.

The next day before getting into the car, I made sure to have a stack of hand warmers and crackers all ready to go.  As we got to the usual intersection, my stomach was a little nervous, what if they didn't want the crackers? What if they were allergic to peanuts? I really hate this!  But of course all of my worry was for naught, as no one was there. Seriously, this was the first time all year no one stood on the corner.

I dropped the boys off and went a different way to preschool because I knew of another popular spot for people needing food.  I was so proud of myself for figuring this out, until I got to the intersection and realized I was on the wrong side of the street. Apart from rolling down my window, yelling at the man, and the stopping traffic so he could cross to me, I didn't see how I would get the crackers and hand warmers to him. So, I just drove on.

That afternoon Micah got into the car and yelled, "watch out for the poor". What? I asked him.  "You know, the poor who stand on the corner, we need to give them our stuff".  And of course we did not find any on the way home that day either.

Finally, several days after buying our supplies, and being on the look out for the poor, we finally stopped at a red light next to a man with a sign.  I rolled down the window and handed him several packages of crackers and hand warmers.

With a smile, the man took what I offered and said, "thank you".  The boys in the back were all yelling, hi!, as we pulled away (and ran over the curb in my haste to leave).  I have to say that made my day. While I pull up and nervously avoid eye contact, or timidly hold out my meager crackers, my boys are joyfully greeting this man.  Instead of embarrassment or nervousness, they are excited to be helping.

It is now their favorite thing to do in the car, to look for "the poor". And then to roll down our windows and hand out our offerings.  We are truly blessed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Girl Talk

Today in the car the boys and I somehow got on the topic of baby girl names. Specifically what their names would have been if they were a girl. One fun part of not knowing the gender is that we always had 2 names for each baby.  For some reason, the girl name did not carry over to the next baby, but was always a new name.

I have a friend who I wish would have a girl just because I truly believe she has the perfect girl name. And it fits with the boy names she currently has. I am a bit obsessed actually, over the fact that I believe she should have another baby and it should be a girl.  Hint-hint.

When reviewing the girl names for my boys, I had to stop and laugh.

Finn Carlson would have been Carolyn Mae.  Not bad, except I am not sure if you say Caro-line or Caro-lynn.  It would be bad to not be able to pronounce your own child's name.

Micah Allen would have been Mae Abigail. Interesting that his initials would have been the same. Abigail is still my least favorite girl name, but it was a compromise with Brandon.  Also, the boys think it is hilarious Micah would have been Mae.

But truly it is Jack's name that makes me so glad he is a boy.

Jack Oscar would have been Allyn Isabetta. Allyn after my dad, and Isabetta because we found out we were pregnant in Italy.  Yeah, I am so glad I have a Jack instead.

Obviously I was not meant to have girls. My name choices are a tad odd.  Which is why I just stick to naming girl dogs.  Elsie Henrietta Ice-cream Lonac, um, yeah.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Monday

How Finn spent his Monday:

How I spent my Monday:

All in order to move my parents into their new Hobbit House.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hitting a Wall

You know that feeling when you have a massive To-Do list that seems to go for days, and when you finally get to your first day where you have nothing scheduled you just crash?  That is me today. It seems since last Tuesday I have had an agenda for every day. Cleaning, prepping for Thanksgiving, hosting Thanksgiving, cleaning up post-thanksgiving mess, tree hunting, tree decorating, helping my mom pack, taking care of a so-so sick Jack, Bible study, zoo lights, Christmas craft night, etc...

Today I have things to do, don't get me wrong, but no place I have to be except picking up the kids after school.  I am still working on putting away Christmas decorations, cleaning up a massive fort the boys built, and laundry - a mountain of laundry.  But waking up today, knowing I didn't have to be anywhere or do anything, I crashed.  My body literally said, you are done.

So, instead of rushing home, taking the dogs on a walk in the rain, folding clothes, cleaning, I am sitting at my favorite coffee shop, enjoying a latte and a crepe.  The best part was it wasn't even my idea. Brandon suggested it, and then firmly reminded me as I was leaving, to take a break. Take some time to  breathe.  I am sure all the boys in my family will be grateful for a calmer, more relaxed mom/wife.

My To-Do list is still long, my house is still chaos, but I am taking a moment to myself.

Monday, November 19, 2012

One of Those Days

We had one of those days today. Where everything seems to be just a little bit harder, take a little bit longer, and in general not go the way it should. It of course started with Brandon and I waking up at 7:30. Yes, 7:30. This wouldn't be so stressful, except we leave at 7:45 to get to school on time.  Things pretty much stayed at that same level of frantic energy all day.

But nothing prepared me for what waited for me at the end of the day. In the chaos of the morning, Micah showed us his hand. We had been watching a little bump on his hand for some time. We assumed that it was from a previous injury he had 3 years ago and that it was just flaring up. But today it officially looked infected.  We knew we had to go the doctor.

After two failed trips to drop off our Operation Shoeboxes, a much longer then anticipated Ikea trip, and relentless rain, I showed up at the doctor's with Micah.  He was not too keen on having a doctor look at his hand, and tried to convince me that it was doing better. I wasn't too worried. Again, I assumed, that the doctor would poke it with something sharp, a lot of puss would come out, and we would be good to go.  Of course, I was wrong.

Turns out a piece of rock would not stay in the hand for three years only to suddenly push it's way out. And, that red mark encircling the bump, that's not good.  But what to do? That was the question the doctor kept saying as she poked Micah's hand.  Finally, she got a little piece up and realized what was inside his hand.

A piece of glass. How long had it been there, um, maybe 3 months.  This of course began what will forever be known as the worst doctor's visit ever (although, I probably just jinxed myself).  Three adults, including myself, had to hold Micah down. His screams could be heard through the entire office and caused another doctor to finally come in and ask if they could help.  We tried numbing cream, but that only worked on the surface.  Then the doctor said we would have to do a shot. At that point, Micah became unglued.  I never knew how strong he was, and loud to be honest, until tonight.  At one point he was shouting, "LET GO OF MY LEG, I'M SWEATING!!" and the doctor replied, "I think we are all sweating".  Finally after nearly an hour the doctor pulled out this little (and yet large) pyramid shaped piece of glass. A cheer went up from all of us.

I looked and Micah and said, whatever you want to eat, you've got it.  And of course Micah said, without taking a beat, "Blue C Sushi".  And of course we went.

On the way there, Jack said, "if I ever have something cut out of my hand, I'm choosing Mexican." Good plan, because a margarita sounds pretty good right about now. Hopefully, we won't need to have anything cut out of anyone's hand for some time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

No Words

A friend recently emailed and said, "I haven't seen any new blog posts in a while, so you must be busy."  Life is busy, I've decided it will always be busy, but that isn't the reason that this blog has been quiet. It's simple, I haven't had the words.

Last week a mom within my social circle experienced the thing we moms fear the most. Her seven year old son died.  It was sudden, it was shocking, it was devastating.  For many of you who read this blog, you also have been on this journey. Writing about the latest shenanigans of my boys' seemed wrong.  My life continued on as normal, my friend's will never be the same.

This past weekend I had the honor to help serve this family. And in doing so, I also had the opportunity to listen to the mom share. I listened as she recounted the last days of her son's life. The last words he spoke. The moment she knew it would be a 'when' not an 'if' situation. How she was thankful for the week she had to prepare for saying good-bye to her son.  I listened, nodded, and tried not to cry.

This weekend we will go and say a final good-bye to this little boy.  My friend has said this is not a day for mourning, but a day to celebrate his life.

Until then, my stories will have to wait.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Year I Caved

Usually on Halloween I pull out my mad costume making skills and try to create whatever costume the boys want.  To clarify, my sewing arsenal includes: a glue gun, one needle, white thread, and felt.  I have a friend, and this won't surprise my small group, who believes I can sew. Really sew, as in, can make a quilt and possibly my own clothes. This is not true. I can barely hem a curtain using my sewing machine. But that is not the point.

My older sister has made reference to some slight competition between us.  When I decided to do a daily blog post so did she - except she continued long past the 30 days.  I wore a few skirts one summer, she decided to wear skirts daily - rain or shine!  I had three kids - she has three dogs.  So, when she made her kids costumes every single year, I decided I could too. She made Dorothy, a scorpion, Annie, Laura Ingalls Wilder, etc.  I have made a bat, a parrot, a rat, a vampire, and batman. The only reason batman came to be was because my mom took over. My only contribution was hot gluing the batman logo onto a black t-shirt.

My favorite part of Halloween is hunting the thrift store for clothes that I can turn into costumes for the boys. But this year the costumes the boys wanted to be was a bit too much for my sad pitiful sewing skills. Jack and Micah were very clear that they wanted to be ninjas. Finn, well, he said he was going to be a Wampa Beast, complete with fur and claws.  Taking a cue from my sister, I decided to just go ahead and buy the ninja costumes. The only year I remember her children wearing store bought costumes was when her daughter wanted to be a ninja. So, off to the thrift store I went.  I know, I can't get away from thrift stores. I love them, and they do still have costumes - both new and used!

I found a ninja costume for Micah, a very tiny ninja costume for Finn, but nothing for Jack. Well, that is not true, I found one but he said it was too scratchy.  And Finn, well, once he saw what his brothers were wearing, he was done with being a Wampa Beast.  I was going to continue my search for Jack's costume when a friend asked if I wanted old costumes her boys were too big for. Free costumes? Of course!

Which is how I ended up with: A Tiny Ninja, A Black Ninja, and A Transformer.

I did cave and go buy Finn a costume that actually fit him. The 2T $.99 cent Ninja suit, was not going to cut it.  This year will go down as the year my boys actually wore costumes that people knew what they were. No explaining at each door - I'm Linus or Earl from My Name is Earl, or A Pirate, but I'm not actually wearing any of my pirate gear.

This was the year I caved.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Patch Troubles

Every year since Jack was 18 months old we have gone to the same pumpkin patch.  The first few years we were blessed with beautiful weather, very few people, and awesome pictures. The ones that you post on Facebook for everyone to see and then pat yourself on the back for having such a photogenic family. Oh, am I the only one who does that?  Anyway, today we were all set for our annual pumpkin patch trip. Because the last few years have become increasingly crowded and waiting in line for an hour to buy a pumpkin seems a bit silly, we decided to try a new place.  Everything was all set until this morning when we got up to pouring rain. We've done pumpkin patches in the rain before, but this was a cold, driving rain, that made all of us want to just stay in bed.  Unfortunately we had a 9:00 soccer game to contend with first.  When the game finished and we were all soaking wet and cold, I looked at Brandon and said, "want to go Safeway?".  Oh yes, he did. Probably the only time in his adult life he willingly went to Safeway.

Which is why our pumpkin patch photos are not on Facebook this year.  Because we got our pumpkins from a cardboard box at Safeway. Walking in Jack said to me, "Mom, tell dad how you used to get pumpkins when you were little.  At a grocery store!". As if this was something strange to do.  I don't know this might become our new tradition. The pumpkins were cheaper, there were no lines, and the most challenging part was trying to find the caramel to make caramel apples.  Otherwise, we were home by noon, I had a nap, made caramel apples, carved pumpkins, drank hot cider and made dinner.  Much better then spending the day fighting with everyone else in the city who decide to escape the crowds by going to an overpopulated pumpkin patch.  Much, much better.

Don't we look the happy bunch?

The obligatory 'pumpkin patch' shot. Complete with price of the pumpkins, in case you were curious.

Finn found his pumpkin!

Still searching, hoping they don't fall into the box.

Micah's pumpkin, Woo-Hoo!

And finally, Jack's.

They even have nice carts to use to carry your pumpkins around. No stalking/stealing some unsuspecting fool's cart at the pumpkin patch.

How 'bout them apples?

Finn thinking, "You want me to stick my hand where?"

And, yes, we give our boys knives. What, you don't think that is wise?

Almost done!

 Three happy boys, two not completely exhausted parents, one awesome trip to the 'pumpkin patch'.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Miss Viola Swamp

Today was my 2nd day doing a job I swore I would never do: substitute teaching. When I was teaching, I would always look at the substitutes in the lunch room and shudder.  The thought of walking into an unknown class and try to keep order for 6 hours filled me with horror.  That and everyday would be a "First Day of Work" and I do not do first days well. But with the boys in private school and my completely taken for granted one-day-a-week job long over, I needed to find a way to make a little cash.

At first I was going to apply to be a sub in two local school districts. But the job applications were too long.  Instead, I took the easy way out and just became a sub at the boys' school. Pro is that I get to take the boys with me to work. Con is that I get to take the boys with me to work.

The first day I subbed was pretty much a disaster.  I won't go into the details, but I did not come out the winner in that battle. Even with a triple tall mocha, the boys still got a movie when we got home so I could sit on the couch and try to regroup.

Last night, I was called to come in today and teach in a first grade class. I said, okay, worked out childcare, picked out a work outfit, and tried to go to bed early.  Then I had THE dream. The reason why I never wanted to sub. I never sleep well the night before the first day of school, the first day back after vacation, or even just after a long weekend.  So, to have a new first day each day I go to work, means a crazy dream leading up to each work day.

I went to bed thinking of teaching first grade, those cute little kids, the stories I would tell, the finger plays and rhymes I could use, etc. But when I woke up I was remembering the classroom I just left. In my dream, when I showed up for work I was no longer teaching first grade. On this particular day, the teacher I was subbing for would always teach a different grade. This time, it was adult learners.  Think your typical community college class. Okay, not so bad. Except, that like most horrible dreams, I wasn't fully dressed. Not naked (thank god) but wearing a skirt and instead of a shirt, a towel. A slightly wet towel, wrapped around my torso and tucked in.  And, as with most towel-sarongs, this one did not stay up. So, I have arrived at work, to a class full of adult learners at a very conservative school, wearing just a towel that I have to continually refasten.  The worst part was that I did not forget to put on my shirt, I had decided to try a new fashion statement.  The towel was my idea of what was fashionable to wear, because I am always so on top of the latest fashion statement!  Once I realized that I was just wearing a towel and that truly is not acceptable work attire, I tried to just straighten my shoulders and pretend I was actually wearing a shirt.  Except I wasn't, and the towel didn't really stay where it should.

Luckily, my alarm went off and it was time to get up.  I am pleased to report that I managed to wear a complete outfit to work, shirt and all, and I had a pretty decent day. There were moments today when I remembered how much I love teaching.  The best part, by far, was hearing a knock on the classroom door and opening it to find my first grade son, delivering a 'special' message to me. And getting an extra squeeze from my other son as he ran to recess.

And that is why I am subbing. Crazy dreams, out of control classes, boundary pushing students, and all.  I get to see my boys while I work, and get a glimpse into their school lives. And I make a little bit of money, enough to pay for my haircuts and, obviously, shirts.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

21 Minutes

21 minutes is all I have left in my weekend of solitude. In 21 minutes, I should have all my belongings out the door and stored in my car. In 21 minutes I will be on my way to the grocery store and back to life as I know it.  As I sit here, in my lovely red velvet chair, I am not mourning the end of this weekend quite as much as I did last year. This time, I am ready to re-enter my life, to see my boys, kiss my husband, and see what life is like at home with 2 dogs. And yes, I said TWO dogs.  Knowing that a weekend of solitude can be a yearly ritual has left me with a sense of peace. Instead of holding on to each minute and wishing time would slow down, I relished the time I had, knowing it was a brief respite. And, knowing that it can happen again. 

Before I left on Friday I mentioned to a friend that I wasn't feeling that overwhelming need to leave that I did last year. That maybe I shouldn't even be going.  To which my friend replied, "but isn't that good that you are not in that same place. Why wait until you are desperate for space before you go?".  That sums up what this weekend was for me. Not quite the OHMYGODIHAVETOGO that it was last year, but more of a gift that I could look forward to and simply enjoy.

Enjoy it I did.  One full day with no schedule, no one to talk to, no one needing anything from me, a guilt-free nap, and all the reading or watching TV I wanted.  It was absolutely perfect.  I am already planning my stay for next year.

 A ridiculously hot shower at 11:00 in the morning.  Complete perfection. 

 Using my birthday gift card and store credit to get $140 dollars worth of clothes for $5. 

Attempting to replace my too small cowboy boots. Loved the store, but sad to say, no boots in my size. 

 The hill that left me panting and sweaty. Also could be trying to text, drink a hot mocha, and carry a bag of clothes while walking up this hill.

 Until next year, my red velvet friend. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Seeking Solitude

And I am back. Once again I am at a local B&B enjoying a weekend to myself. I prepared a little better this time and brought 3 books, 2 DVDs, a bottle of wine and something sweet to eat.

 Oh, and some lovelies so I won't get lonely. As I was walking out the door Finn said to me, "but you won't have anyone to snuggle with." That is kind of the point my dear boy. I love our morning snuggles, but this morning found myself in bed with 2 boys, one who was soaking wet, climbing on top of me, taking my covers, and asking when we can watch TV. I am excited to wake up by myself tomorrow. Go on a walk by myself. Drink coffee by myself. 

And yes, I was mortified carrying these animals inside with me. I wanted to explain they were not mine, but thought that would make me seem even more crazy.

Aahh, bliss. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Poor Third Child

I realized today as I was downloading pictures from the camera of things to sell on craigslist, that I still had Finn's first day of preschool on the camera! Uh-oh.  It was such a big deal for the older boys to go to school; school supplies to buy, new clothes to purchase, orientation, and then finally THE FIRST DAY.  All of which I took pictures of, and posted to Facebook and this blog. But not Finn.  I meant to write a post about his first day, but life sort of got in the way.  So here they are, three weeks late, but here nonetheless.

The obligatory front porch photo shoot.

Um, yes, I am not really sure what to say here. Finn wanted to take pictures of me, and so this is what I did. Don't judge.

Quick stop for coffee on the way to school.

Mmmmm.... Limonata

Finally, Finn is in the big kid room. He was so excited I didn't even get a hug or a kiss goodbye.

Finally, time to head back. Okay, really the time flew by, and I was a little stunned that it was after 11, already!

And just for fun. All of my boys on their first day of preschool.

Love them.