I am so proud to be the mother to a literate 1st grader. She can READ and WRITE damn near anything now. William is on the road and is what I would say in teacher-speak is an immergent literate person. He can write and kinda read. What I love the most is when they write directions for an obstacle course in chalk on the sidewalk out in the backyard or when they drop notes from the landing to the bottom of the stairs for me 30 minutes after I've put them to bed. The best, absolute best part about having literate kids, though, is when the write notes to each other.
My friend, Sandy, and I meet on a Sunday once a month or so to have lunch and catch up. This Sunday we met at Macaroni Grill. If it could go wrong, it did. We waited 25 minutes before we actually had to get up and go ask a server to have someone tend to our table. I never got the salad I ordered, her order was incorrect, the coffee was cold and most definitely NOT decaf as ordered, blah, blah, blah. We politely pointed all of this out to our server. In the moment it was kind of no biggie but by the end of the meal we were fed up. A kid-free, $30 meal should not be stressful or totally f'd up in my opinion.
I wrote to Macaroni Grill and gave all the specifics. I think they need to know of their service on that particular afternoon.
In the past I've written to numerous companies. I really don't think my letters are bitchy/complainy, I think they are more informative. I don't get angry about stuff so there is no angry tone in my letters, it's more of an FYI and that as a consumer I do expect to get what I pay for - every. single. time. Every company has responded, some with coupons or whatever which is nice, but not the reason I write. I'm anxious to hear what Macaroni Grill has to say.
Do you complain about things or do you act on them?
Since the stomach flu has inevitably spread and last night was the second sleepless night in three nights of dealing with A Sick Child it's obviously on my mind. Who is next? There are 3 more of us who are bound to get it, it's just the hurry-up-and-wait thing now. Where did it come from? Obviously there is no way of knowing and it could have been from a hundred different places. Did we spread it on to anyone else? It's likely although we were out and about not knowing that anyone was infected, obviously.
It's pictures like this that just scream stomach flu to me. Since my fear of it is so intense, I find myself kind of avoiding super crowded places more and more. For more than one reason this would freak me out but mainly because of the fear that someone would throw up. There really is no escaping it in a situation like this. But on a different note, can you imagine this being normal? This is at a recent job fair in Beijing. The accompanying article to this is interesting. You can click here to read it. It's some scary stuff.
Honestly, my idea of crowded is Costco on a Saturday morning. Guess I should rethink my definition of crowded.
Fall Break. I came, I saw, I conquered. We had playdates - here and other places - we went to see the Blue Angels, Nana, and her dogs, we went to the movies, we baked, we dealt with the stomach flu, we fought, we bickered, we... survived. I swear to you that this was the most difficult week for me in a long, long time. I think now, looking back, that it was the same as always but I saw no humor in any of it and that made it unbearable. Now, on this, the last day of Fall Break, I have my humor back which means it's back normal. It's all of the above without the difficult part. I'm used to it.
Oh! And guess what the kids decide to do on the last day?
I'm going to be honest and say that I don't really getPinterest but I look at it all the time and it's pretty cool. There are some really great ideas that are posted, in addition to, well, other stuff. I get notifications often that people are "following" me on Pinterest and I feel badly because I don't pin. I just look. And steal.
Here's one idea I saw that right away I loved and knew it would be perfect for the mood of this house lately. I immediately stole the idea and made it for us.
I bought a frame and a stand at Home Goods for under $20 total. I bought a fine-tip dry erase pen and printed the paper to put inside the frame. This is about as creative as you'll ever see me get and I knew I could handle this one.
This will be good for all of us because it will force me to think of a reason everyday why I love my family (regardless of the chaos and noise and bickering) and it'll be good for them to read it. I told them it's open to anyone who would like to write something but the message is to the family as a whole. I am the Keeper of the Pen so they have to ask, it's not a toy or a drawing board, but I'd love for William and Drew to leave messages on here for the rest of us. We also can't wait to see what Lt. Baby Daddy writes one morning before leaving for work.
Tomorrow I may write, "I love you because... without you I would have no blog material. Love, Mommy."
I've blogged about this before but last night it became relevant yet again. GAH.
Do you have any phobias? Not just a fear of certain things, but true phobias? I think the biggest difference between the two is when you fear something you can just say, "OMG, that scares the shit out of me." With a phobia, you don't like to talk about it and it produces a true physical reaction. I have a couple fears and only one phobia. Emetophobia. I'll save you the trouble from googling it. It's the fear of throw up. It's a reallllly convenient phobia to have when you have three young children, let me tell you. Not a day goes by that I don't think about it. Especially on those nights when Chris is at the firehouse. I have a plan of action just in case I hear that horrid sound. I won't go into the details of my plan but they do include contacting my neighbor who has assured me she's at the ready at any hour.
I know that most people have an aversion to throw up. This is so much more. In a matter of half a second I break out in a sweat, I get tunnel vision, I can't think straight. This involves the sight of it, the smell of it, the sound of it. When I say I can't deal with it I absolutely mean it.
I'll cut out the gory details of last night and just tell you that I survived dealing with a child with the stomach flu! He threw up 3x an hour for nearly 5 hours and I survived! I dealt with it! I tended to him! I did 2 loads of laundry and bleached my entire downstairs at 2am! And again at 3am! But I DID IT! Alone!
Drew's school has a no homework policy. No, I'm not kidding. It was absolutely not a selling point for me when we were searching for a school. I think homework is important for lots of reasons and as a teacher I just can't imagine getting everything in during the day that the kids actually don't have to go home and complete it. As a parent, I have to admit, it's kind of nice. BUT, back to it being important for lots of reasons... After Drew's conference last week I realize that the things we do (and have always done) is where she excells. The things we hardly ever do is where she is performing meh. Overall she's doing well, no biggie. I, however, know she can improve and this is where I think homework, or extra practice, comes into the picture. And in comes My Plan.
It's pretty simple. I bought William a K math workbook and I bought Drew a 1st-2nd grade math workbook. I bought Drew some heart stickers and I bought William some smiley face stickers. I bought a poster board. This is how it will work:
Once a day I will ask for their math workbook. I will check any new pages that are completed. They have to be done well and done completely. They don't have to all be correct, but any mistakes we'll discuss and fix. For each page which meets those requirements they get to put one of their stickers on the I Heart Math posterboard. For every 15 stickers each child earns, it's a trip to the dollar store. When each child earns 50 stickers, we will go to John's Incredible Pizza as a family.
Have some free time? Grab your math workbook if you want. It's up to you. Oh, see Drew working on her math in the car? You may want to, also, or she'll have more stickers than you! Want to sit with me while Lauren naps and work on a few pages you found that you don't understand? I'd love to do that. Don't feel like doing it today? That's fine, but don't complain when we go to the dollar store in a few days and you can't buy anything because you haven't earned the stickers for your 4 quarters yet.
They were super excited about it and although I haven't checked their books yet (I'll do it sometime tomorrow), I know each has done about 5 or 6 pages each. They both took their book to bed with them tonight. Shoot, we may be going to the dollar store tomorrow! If we do, I'm ok with that. Why? Because I want them to Heart Math.
* The Starbucks lady says as we pull away from the drive-thru, "Have a good day, we'll see you tomorrow!"
* Lauren says, "Holla!" at the appropriate time.
* There isn't any clutter on my bathroom counter. Somehow it just reappears. Where does it come from?
* The birch tree leaves are littering my backyard lawn.
* Drew wears a dress as a skirt, a shirt that doesn't match, a feather in her hair, and her Uggs. Shows she doesn't care what anything thinks. Orrrr, she has really poor fashion sense. I think she just doesn't care.
* Chris makes dinner. I hate making dinner.
* I wake up and look at the clock and think it's nearly morning but it's really only 2:15am. ThankYouJesus!
* Lauren asks to take a nap or go to bed. I know, don't hate me. If she's not throwing herself around in a fit she's awesome.
* The kids mind their manners without any prompting or reminding.
* I get a new "like" on my PPO5 facebook page. Not gonna lie, makes me feel special.
* A friend recommends a new drink and it becomes a new fav.
* The seasons change from warm to not-so-warm.
* My house is quiet. It's quiet right now so I'm off to enjoy it completely.
We had 15 kids here today for such a fun, kind-of-last-minute playdate. It involved brownies, juice, strawberries, pizza, a trampoline, a hose, jeeps, swings, and bikes. For hours and hours the kids played together nicely. No injuries, no tears, nothing broken. Just good honest fun. Love that my kids have friends who are kind and polite and respect adults. There were examples of manners and kindness all day long.But most of all, they had FUN!
Now... only 5 more days 'til they go back to school. What are we doing tomorrow, gang?
I love love love love love love my children. I hope that is obvious and never for a second doubted by anyone, especially them. In fact I don't think it's possible to love them anymore than I do. My heart would burst. I'm sure of it.
That was my disclaimer because now I'm going to bitch. Again.
This morning started a little before 7:00am. It is currently 5:51pm. There has been no more than 4 minutes at a time of silence. Think about that for a second. I mean, really. Think about it. Makes you irritable just to imagine it, right? RIGHT. I don't know why some days they seem so much needier (is that a word?) than others but they just are. Today was one of those days. Holy hell. I finally said I'd give everyone TWO HUNDRED POINTS if they went outside and played and didn't talk to me until I called them in. They scrambled outside as fast as they could. It's now 5:53pm and no one has talked to me in nearly 7 minutes. Ah, bliss.
Tomorrow we're going to spend 4 hours in the car together. That sounds fun, right? OMG.
I wrote about this a little over a year ago but we've since found the footage so I thought I'd include it in the blog again.
The following is written by my dad, Huey L'Herault. A thrilling story!
Above is the video of my "flyby" (flyTHROUGH) of Kansas City stadium in the opening game there against the Dolphins and the Chiefs in 1972. Leading 4 Attack Squadron 25 Navy A7's on that day in '72 was pretty special. We arrived at Forbes AFB in Witchita,KS the day before since Richards Gebaur AFB in KC was closed for runway repairs. The Chiefs picked us at in their turboprop, flew us back to KC, set us up in a hotel, gave us cars and had us as guests at a "Redcoats" function the prior evening. On Sunday morning they flew us back to Forbes to prepare for the event and had the plane set up to retrieve us so as to make the last half of the game as spectators. The pubicity director of the Chiefs was a good friend of my right wingman, Lt Don Roesch, who had received the flyover request and simply came back to Naval Airstation Lemoore and asked the squdron CO if we could do it. We cleared it through Commander Light Attack Wing Pacific, located at NAS Lemoore and who's operating senior, an old wizzended Navy Captain and golf friend, threatened me with bodily harm if we violated any Federal Aviation Administration regs during the event. As you may know the military were pretty much "persona non grata" upon return from Vietnam and we had just done so from USS Ranger.
I had given the publicity director a "survival radio" upon which to give us an 8 minute call and a 4 minute call for our arrival atop the stadium with a pullup of #2 man crossing the scoreboard in salute to the POW's. In advance we, as required, had published a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) for ALL aircraft to remain clear of 5 miles of Arrowhead Stadium during the hour of the event. The Publicity Director had also provided Federal Aviation reps terrific 50 yard line seats for the game. Circling overhead we could look down and see the absolute logjam of cars, not moving, as they approached the stadium to the unsuccessful first day handling of lots of traffic. On the field was a huge musical group decked out in Revolutionary Army garb who were to play the National Anthem. I got the 8 minute call and got us set of for the 4 minute checkpoint leading to the overflight.
The plan was to come down over the city, tighten up REALLY close, and as we passed over the scoreboard I was to call "3, 2, 1, PULL" and my right wingman was to pull straight up abruptly as the "missing man". Accelerating downhill to cross Arrowhead around 400 knots (we had no afterburners to light to provided any nice added noise) and somewhere in the vicinity of minimum authorized altitude I caught out of the corner of my left eye an old open cockpit Stearman biplane belly up to me and pulling an AAMCO Transmission advertising rag on an invisible trailing wire. In about 2 microseconds I predicted our arrival be be simultaneous in a somewhat equivalent piece of airspace. That was not the anticipated result of course and I was really pissed that he hadn't read the NOTAM published for the day (in the 10 seconds I had to decide what to best do). With all due respect to fans, aviation lovers and a somewhat unbridled hormonal instinct I took the formation UNDER the biplane, level with the flagpole over the scoreboard, called for the pullup, ascended from stadium stop after passing under the Stearman, joined up the flight and returned to Forbes AFB to land, change clothes and have the Chief's turbo fly us back for the second half of the game.
At the start of the third quarter an announcement was made for the pilots of Attack Squadon 25 to join Mr. Hunt (Lamar) in his box at the conclusion of the game. We did so and were greeted upon arrival by Ms. Hunt, a spectacularly jeweled lady of younger years. While she admitted that their box did not allow them to see the top of the stadium she was quite impressed with the level of noise and the shadows of our planes on the opposite side stadium rows of fans. In preparation for stage 1 of my losing my wings I thanked Ms. Hunt for all of us, greeted a few other zealous Redcoats, shook Mr. Hunt's hand and left in preparation of stage 2.
It is blurry what happened until the next day when we all flew out of Forbes AFB and into NAS Fallon, Nevada where we were to commence a practice weapons deployment. Upon our arrival I was greeted with stage 2 of losing my wings when the CO reemed my butt for raising the ire of all Kansas City with my attempt to kill everyone in Arrowhead Stadium. This was backed up by a scathing anti-military Kansas City Star liberal editorial and a second verbal reeming from the Light Attack Wing Pacific Navy Captain who essentially told me not to buy any green tomatoes. ALL WAS NOT LOST HOWEVER! The Stearman pilot upon interview of the incident, and in fear of losing his livlihood, swore he was 1500 feet above the stadium, saw me the entire time, and was absolutely sure that I was well clear of him and at least 1000 feet above the stadium. The second and most powerful interview was with the FAA reps on the game 50 yard line......they LOVED the flyover and saw no incident requiring further consideration or investigation. Stage 3 of wings removal evaporated! I've searched YOUTUBE and NFL films to find a copy of the filmed overfly but to no avail. I finally found it with a person in the Kansas City Chiefs archives. I knew it existed somewhere because in 1976 while on a Mediterranean deployment there was a sports clip attached to the nightly 16MM film (how ancient is that!!) shown in squadron ready rooms on aircraft carriers. The 4 second coverage of that 1972 flyby was right there...and all the attending aviators wondered who the dumb shit was that pulled that stunt. As the Air Wing Operations Officer I owned up to it.....and was immediately transformed from an Attack Pilot to a Fighter Pilot....in my eyes from dumb to dumber but I let the moment pass.
In recent years 4 F-18's made a college game day flyby and they all lost their wings. That IS on YOUTUBE, I think at a Clemson game but you can find it easily on the net. It's a shame they were flying so high.
It's that time of year again. Operation Get The Perfect Picture for our Family Christmas Card has begun. Honestly? It's exhausting. Maybe we'll just go all psycho and weird and freak our friends the F out and do this.
We call the pacifier a chewy. Drew never had one. I had heard it was easier to give up crack than it was a chewy so I never introduced one to Drew. Instead she ate books and paper and put everything she saw into her mouth until she was three. Looking back I think she would have loved one. With William the nurse gave him one of those blue Soothie chewies in the hospital and he loved it and I didn't care that he had it. I didn't care SO much that he had his until he was 3 years old. From 2 years old on they were only allowed in his bed but still... he had one. I know, it's not that unusual but I think age 3 is a little old. Especially considering William would take his chewie out, spew some great knowledge, then put it back in. It was kind of ridiculous. We chose to get rid of them at Christmas by leaving them on the hearth with the cookies for Santa so that he could take them to a new baby who needed it. William was a big boy and didn't need it anymore. He was cool with that. He cried for it once a few nights later and that was that.
Lauren. Lauren loooooooves her chewies. She stashes them around so that when I take one away she pops a new one in almost immediately. We've half-heartedly tried to keep them in her crib only but she's sneaky with them. And honestly, I haven't cared. I've got greater things to worry about, like the mountain of clean laundry to fold and put away or lunches to make or Real Housewives to catch up on. Spending my energy on a "No chewy downstairs" policy just hasn't been a priority. Until now.
Lauren's addiction is crazy. It's time to not quite cut her off - she'll be leaving her chewies for Santa this year, too - but it's time to make them a bedtime only thing. She also gets it now. I explained to her what would happen if she brought them downstairs. I would snip it. We did the same with William and after snipping one chewie he never brought one down again. I figure the same lesson will be learned with Lauren. She put it to the test today, so we'll see. She brought down her purple one and I said, "Lauren, no chewies downstairs, remember?" She said, "NO!" so I had to do what I said I was going to do. Please don't hate me, I know it's sounds cruel but trust me! It totally worked with William. He never brought one downstairs again. Yes, she cried. Yes, I felt like an ass. And yes, my fingers are crossed that it worked. I don't want to do that again.
This weekend was all! about! the kids! Yesterday we had a fun birthday party and then went right to see Phineus and Ferb LIVE. We stopped on the way home to get ice cream. This morning Chris took them to do some birthday shopping for me (holla!) and to get donuts for breakfast. This afternoon I took them to see Dolphin Tale at the movie theatre. I mean, really. That's a bit much. After the movie and we were all home for a while, I was off to return a few items and pick up a few new ones (socks, winter coat for Lauren, jeans - you know. Fun stuff.) Drew wanted to come with me. I said no, I was going to run errands by myself, daddy was going to feed them dinner and I'd be home before they went to bed. She cried and cried and cried and wouldn't leave my car window. It's nice to be wanted. It's nice to be missed. BUT OMG. I needed an hour (or two) to just have some quiet and get a few things done. I kissed and kissed and kissed her but still left her crying on the curb. That sucked. A few minutes later Chris texted me this picture.
So sweet, right?
And see how the white board needs a good cleaning? If she hadn't sprayed her brother with the white board cleaning spray and gotten it taken away a few days ago she could.
We saw Dolphin Tale today. It's the sweetest movie. I would say it's for ages 6 and up, only because it doesn't have any spontaneous dancing and singing. It's dialogue and content. The subject matter certainly is appropriate but I'm unsure if it would hold a little one's attention. We loved it. I would definitely recommend seeing it with your kids. Gives you lots to talk about on the way home, too.
This is a great idea. They are easy, there is no recipe, and you could do them on your own and serve them to adults or you could have your kids help you make them and serve them at a playdate. (<--- That sounds as if I have playdates and "serve" fancy, time-consuming treats. I do not. I put out juice boxes, grapes, and fruit roll-ups. But if I was a wee bit more Martha-ish I would totally make these for a playdate.)
Every other mommy website (not blog) has Cutest! Baby! Ever! photo contests. Have you ever entered your child into one? I have, once, but I don't remember what it was for. It was a long time ago and apparently the judges didn't agree that she was the Cutest! Baby! Ever! so whatever.
I saw on the TODAYMoms facebook page - have you "like"d them? If not, you should. They are a great resource and have some great posts about important topics. Anyway, they are looking for a new face for their page and asked their fb moms to submit pictures of their kids. Soooo, I did.
I haven't won (yet!) but guess who made the sneak peak page?!
I know, it's not polite to brag about your kids but I figure the last 20 posts of me complaining about them makes up for this one post. Plus, it's not really bragging. It's not as if they've won. YET!
Do your kids have weekly spelling test? Do you have an iPhone? I have something fooooorrrr yoooouuuuu!
(If you haven't already) download the Spell Test app. It's free! but even if it wasn't it'd be worth the $0.99.
It's really easy and within minutes you can have your child's entire spelling list entered and the words recorded.
Download Spell Test
You enter their words and as you enter them it asks you to speak the word.
Your child gets on and it speaks the word you entered and recorded (your voice!) He/she can click "say word again" if he/she need it repeated. The child is to type the word in. He/she then hits "next" and it goes on through the entire spelling list.
At the end of the test it will show the child the words he/she spelled correctly and the words he/she didn't with the correct spelling given. (took this image from google, this is not one Drew did).
You can easily check in and see how your child has done!
Drew takes my iPhone to bed with her and does her tests and she retakes them over and over from previous weeks. It's also something good to throw at them while you're waiting at the doctor's office or whatever. It keeps them quite is a good educational activity.
Now go download this app and help create good spellers!
All I've ever wanted is to be home and raise my kids. I got my degree and my teaching credential just in case. I wouldn't trade the fact that I have this opportunity to stay home for anything. When I see it in writing, though, it's not nearly as an attractive life as I seem to think it is. What's really sad is he really had to struggle to come up with the third thing. And cooking never crossed his mind. As he gets older he'll see that my job encompasses much, much, much more. For now, if he thinks of "takes care of the kids" first then it's alllllll good.
It's so easy to get sucked into the negative crappy stuff, you know? To walk into the livingroom and say, "Who left their socks on the floor? I told you to not eat your yogurt in here. Who turned Shake it Up on, you know you're not allowed to watch that!" Instead of saying, "Hi, children whom I love and adore. Let's turn the tv off and sing songs together!"
Today was filled with little things that just tickled me. I'm really not often negative and I make an effort everyday to see things positively. It better pay off - this optimism I have - 'cause some days it requires a lot of energy. Anyway, today I just happened to see lots of little things that really could have turned my day around had it been not going well. A nice reminder that it really is the little things that make a difference sometimes.
1. I turned the heater on in the car this morning.
2. I thought I had no gum left but then alas! I found one at the bottom of my pocketbook. It was even in it's wrapper with no crumbs attached. Gross, but true.
3. It was cloudy and cool outside which allowed me to crawl under a blanket this afternoon with no guilt. I have no idea why that is but on cool, rainy, or cloudy days it's ok to snuggle in during the day and not think twice about it. In fact, that's what you should be doing.
4. I dreaded my circuit training class tonight because the instructor often plays the Bee Gees and it makes me want to vomit. Tonight she played some awesome, loud music that 20 year olds listen to at clubs and it made the workout go by so much faster.
5. I went to Target today and (amongst a shitload of other stuff) bought William a pair of shoes that he likes! and bought Drew a new toothbrush that she likes! and got out of there without Lauren throwing a fit!
6. Lastly, I got to listen to Drew read to me tonight. We read often together but tonight was different. She sat over there rather than over here. She wanted to sound out the words she may not know on her own and have control of the reading situation. Not only did she do such a fantastic job but her choice of book is the best ever.
I know you don't believe me but I swear this book was a gift and she chose to read it.
Do not be intimidated by this recipe. It's not as complicated as it looks and it's worth every minute in the kitchen. Double the recipe and freeze the additional loaves for next week. Or tomorrow. Because for reals, that's how fast it may go.
Great recipes are meant to passed around & this one is the best I've ever tasted - moist, etc. Will make your whole house smell like autumn!!! *Chris's Aunt Missy passed this along to me a few years ago and I've made it every October and November ever since. It is requested by all I've shared it with!
I add about a cup of chopped walnuts to the batter cause I love walnuts w/apples & pumpkin & also sprinkle chopped walnuts on top of "topping".
I double the topping. I pour 1/2 batter into the loaf pan -sprinkle one serving of topping & pour rest of batter & then put second serving of topping on top of that - killer!
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
5 Tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbs unsalted butter, softened (I use "salted" just cause I don't have "unsalted" in my house usually)
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsps baking soda
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 (15-oz) can solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil (I use 3/4 cup butter instead - wonderful!!!)
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (2 cups)
MAKE THE TOPPING: Blend together flour, sugar, cinnamon. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into the dry mixutre. Mix with a fork.
MAKE THE BREAD: Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans. (I just spray "PAM" into pans.)
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice into a medium bowl. Then add oil(or butter), sugar, and eggs in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin. Add flour mixture, stirring until well combined. Fold in apples (and walnuts if using nuts).
Divide batter between buttered loaf pans. Sprinkle half of topping evenly over each loaf. *Remember, if you double the topping, do batter, topping, batter, topping. So yummy to have that topping the middle, too.
Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of bread comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool loves in pans on a rack for 45 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.
This bread is meant to be SHARED!!! Make for your neighbors, your coworkers, your family. The only downside to this is it will be requested every year!