Monday, January 31, 2011

Silence in my house

With an almost five year old, a three year old and a one year old, silence is pretty much a foreign concept in our house.  Even at night someone is getting up to go potty, or having a bad dream, or talking in their sleep, or (in Middle-Bug's case) just making noises in their sleep.

Today was one of those days when life just gives me a headache.  It wasn't a particularly bad day, just an obnoxious one.  It started out fine, with a few snuggles from Middle-Bug and a breakfast of cheerios, bananas and peppermint tea with all three of my boys.  When Hubby got back from his spinning class at the gym, we switched into "get ready mode" and shortly after, headed to the DMV.  I was fully prepared to sit all afternoon in the DMV office.  Hubby kept the boys in the car and we packed a bag with bag lunches and diapers for the kids. Surprisingly, I was in and out in less than an hour - even WITH one trip back out to the car for Hubby's signature when I was informed I am not even on the title of my car....hmmm. Next we popped over to best buy in an attempt to resolve some on-going computer issues (that's a story for another day) and then finally back home. It was a lot of car-time and waiting for the kids, they did pretty well considering. 

Unfortunately, Hubby had a work commitment this afternoon - the kids were pretty bummed.  I think they hate it when he has to go in on his day off more than I do!  Today he had to attend a meeting with the corporate office to go over something they call a "dealer round table."  Supposedly it is a meeting for franchise-owners only, but somehow it landed in Hubby's lap.  He never seems to mind, but I always feel like she should be receiving the benefits of being the owner if he is going to take on the owner's responsibilities!!

By dinner time this evening I had a nagging headache, but I was doing my best to stay positive for the kids sake.  As always, they were FULL of chatter...screeching...and bickering...and fork-poking...and cup tossing...and just general chaos!!  I had a steady internal dialogue all evening that sounded something like this "only two more hours until bed time, you can make it! Hubby could walk in any minute, you can make it!  Just keep smiling for two more hours, you can make it!  Don't worry about your paper (which is due tonight) until the kids are in bed, you can make it!"  I had pretty much convinced myself it would be loud and crazy and busy until 8pm and then I would have time to sit down, close my eyes, feel sorry for myself a little and hopefully get this headache to go away so I could finish my paper on Ethics in Resource Management.  My internal pep-talk was so effective in fact, I felt calm enough to volunteer to whip up a little dessert for the boys.  I diced an apple, filled some ramekins, topped them with some cinnamon, oats and brown sugar and tossed them in the oven to bake.  While I waited I broke up a few fork-sword-fights, stopped a couple of rice in my brother's ear/eye attempts, retrieved a sippy cup a dozen times, caught a glass of milk and listened to a very long (very long) imaginative story about a honey bee.  Finally, I pulled the ramekins from the oven, served the baked apples and.......SILENCE!  For a good five minutes, there was not a sound in the house.  Just the slight scraping of spoons on porcelain and the quiet smacking of preschooler lips.  Who knew it was so easy to buy sanity with a little dessert.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Random act of kindness

So this weekend Hubby went up to Washington to visit some friends and go golfing.  Ordinarily I probably would have tagged along with the boys and used the trip as an excuse to visit family in Washington, but this time I had a dentist appointment I needed to be here for.

For some unknown reason, I am always way more productive and mellow when Hubby is out of town.  I don't know if it's the calming predictability of calling all the shots, or the absence of  little boy vs daddy knight/wizard/dragon battles in the living room but I always get so much more accomplished!  Last night I felt so great as I headed to bed because the house was sparkling, my homework was completely finished and I had a plan for the morning.  When we all rolled out of bed this morning I made french toast with fruit and orange juice for everyone, did a little assigned reading while the boys watch a movie and Little-Bug napped, then we headed out and took care of the grocery shopping.

Yes, everything was going very smoothly...until it was time to leave the store and Little-Bug fought his car seat like it intended to munch on him for a little afternoon snack.  Big-Bug and Middle-Bug were both fully harnessed, waiting patiently while I strained to wrangle Little-Bug (who suddenly seemed to have 8 limbs) into his car seat which is conveniently (NOT!) positioned in the center of the back seat.

As I battled the baby, I suddenly detected the presence of someone coming up behind me.  Any of you moms probably know what I am referring to, that person who parks next to you in the lot and has the perfect timing to come out at the exact moment you are blocking their door while you buckle a child? At this point I am obviously already stressed and so I pretend not to notice the person who is lingering behind me and continue struggling with the baby, trying to distract him with silly sounds and songs with no success.

About then, the mystery person behind me walks around the back of my car to the other side window (at which point I am cringing because I am anticipating a "come on lets hurry it up!" gesture of some kind)  When she gets to the window she starts tapping and waving at Little-Bug, who is completely intrigued and calms down instantly. I buckled his straps as quickly as I could and then began pouring my gratitude on this stranger.  I seriously almost hugged this lady.

Such a simple gesture, but one that made a HUGE difference to my day.

By the time we made it home from the store I was back to feeling ambitious and decided to mow the lawn and sweep off the driveway.  I went through the gigantic process of laying out all the necessary yard tools, setting up the playpen and a selection of toys for Little-Bug, getting out the soccer ball and scooter for the big boys and FINALLY, I was ready to mow the grass.  I walked the boys across the street to the baseball field in front of our house and set Little-Bug in his playpen on the front porch.  As I was just about to start up the mower, Big-Bug hollers to me "Middle-Bug peed his pants."  *sigh* back into the house we all go.  At the end of a three hour process I finally managed to mow my tiny front lawn and sweep the driveway...the neighbors had better notice!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A little polite dinner conversation

*Whew*  I didn't know if I was going to make it through dinner tonight.  The boys were on a roll!  I don't think there was a single moment during dinner when there weren't at least two people talking....that is, until the moment Big-Bug became very quiet and sort of stared off across the room.  Suddenly he looked at me with a VERY serious expression and said

Mom, you're not going to like to hear this....I'm having a pretty violent dream.  It's about a big guy fighting some police and shooting at their ship and blowing it up.  You know how I turn it off? I poke my cheek, then the dream gets all bumpy and turns off.  My NEW dream is about sledding in the snow and the sled flipping over and landing back in the snow *HAHAHA* It's actually a snow sled RACE with Mario and the first person who gets to the bottom is the winner.  And the hill is SO big, it takes 28 hours! *Hysterical laughter* That's the funniest dream I've ever had! Now I'm having a dream of a gingerbread song! 

So I say, "Sing it for me!" and Big-Bug stops laughing, the smile is instantly wiped from his face, he looks at me with an extremely serious expression and says

No Mom, I don't copy dreams.  I NEVER copy dreams.  

Pizza parties and recycling

Last week Big-Bug's preschool class had a field trip to the downtown library.  The library staff put on a private story time for the children, all about reusing and recycling and then the kids watched a short video clip called "Curious George Goes Green."  While I like the message behind the movie....the title makes me cringe!

After the story time, the kids got to have about half an hour of private access to the library's "discovery room."  This room is pretty cool because the staff changes the theme about once a month or so and it is always full of great hands-on learning activities for the children.  This month's theme is recycling (surprise!) and it's very well done.  There is was area where the children can sort compost "waste" from plastic recyclables, a station where the kids were able to "build" a worm bin, a great demonstration table with solar lights and wind energy (utilizing flashlights and hair dryers) and there was even a plastic play tent that had been constructed from layers of plastic shopping bags that had been ironed together!  Pretty cool.

Big-Bug was a little concerned about the recycling room because he thought we were going to ACTUALLY recycle!  Ha ha.  He kept saying "I don't know if I know how to recycle mom, I think it's pretty hard."  Eventually he explained that he thought we were going to be shredding plastic and melting it down to make new things! Silly boy.

After the field trip, both of the older boys were running around our house, looking for the recycle symbol on various items.  "Look mom, your little dipper crock pot lid is recyclable!"  "Look mom, this toy is recyclable!"  I'm glad they are enthusiastic....I just hope I don't find my crock pot out on the curb ;-)

Today was another busy birthday party day around here!  We celebrated the birthday of one of the boys very close friends at a local pizza parlor (coincidentally the same one Big-Bug wants to use for his upcoming birthday celebration.)  Our group wasn't the only one with this idea today, the place was PACKED with birthday parties! I was impressed with how quickly the staff had the pizza orders ready, and the place is just perfect for a noise group of kids (and adults lol)  I had promised the boys they could play arcade games and we spent last night hunting for quarters around the house.  Hubby and I were remembering the games costing $0.75 a piece, so I headed to the party today loaded down with coins.  When we got there we found most of the games were only $0.25!! So the kids were in arcade game heaven!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Insert ominous music here...

I must be crazy.  Here I am in my very last term of school (ideally for the rest of my life, but I have a sneaking suspicion I will find myself in grad school in the future) and I've heard of senioritis, the laziness that sets in when graduation comes clearly into view, but I am finding I definitely do not suffer from that dismissive affliction.  Instead, I have discovered my last term of school is probably going to lead to a heart attack (or perhaps just a panic attack.)  For some unknown reason, I am more stressed about my performance this term than I have been in quite some time.  I think it's the fear of knowing a failed class at this stage of the game sets me back an entire term!  There is no way I am going to allow that to happen!

Because I take my courses online, I have to log on every evening to view my readings, video lectures, discussion boards, assignments and returned work.  As I watch the page load each night I get a knot in my stomach, anticipating a missed deadline or a poor score on an exam.  When I finally close down my browser for the night, I often realize I had been holding my breath.

Thankfully, tonight when I logged on to my courses I was greeted by two full-credit discussion grades, one full-credit paper grade and a returned quiz with a score of 117% (I know lol)  Talk about a relief!  If only I could hold onto that feeling for a day or two....but I know that gnawing anxiety will be back in full force later tonight as I work on my discussion responses... 8 more weeks!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What is that yellow stuff?

Could it be...the sun!  Wow, it felt like spring today around here.  (Well, I guess I should amend that to "It felt like spring around here from about noon to about 2:30")  As promised, I took the boys outside to assemble their new soccer net today at the very first glimpse of sunshine.  I am pretty sure it would have been a great two-man job...unfortunately Hubby had gone into work today (something he seems to love doing on his days off) so I was out there trying to grow an extra set of arms.  I did manage to get the net assembled though, so that was a big triumph for me!

The boys had a great time scoring some goals, then they made up a cone-kicking-goalie game, then that turned into a throw-cones-into-the-net game which digressed into a throw-cones-into-the-net-with-your-head game, which turned into wear-a-cone-like-a-hat game which turned into playing kings and castles and then soccer was forgotten entirely. Ha Ha.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A little late night reading

The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein

    Once there was a tree..... and she loved a little boy.  And every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.  He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-go-seek.  And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. And the boy loved the tree.......very much.  And the tree was happy.
    But time went by.  And the boy grew older.  And the tree was often alone.  Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, "Come, Boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy."
    "I am too big to climb and play," said the boy.  "I want to buy things and have fun.  I want some money.  Can you give me some money?"
    "I'm sorry," said the tree, "but I have no money, I have only leaves and apples.  Take my apples, Boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy." And so the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away.  And the tree was happy.
    But the boy stayed away for a long time... and the tree was sad.  And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, "Come, Boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy."
    "I am too busy to climb trees," said the boy. "I want a house to keep me warm.  I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house.  Can you give me a house?"
    "I have no house," said the tree. "The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches and build a house.  Then you will be happy." And the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house.  And the tree was happy.
    But the boy stayed away for a long time. And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. "Come, Boy," she whispered, "Come and play."
    “I am too old and sad to play," said the boy. "I want a boat that can take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?"
    "Cut down my trunk and make a boat," said the tree. "Then you can sail away...... and be happy." And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away.  And the tree was happy.... but not really.  And after a long time the boy came back again.
    "I am sorry, Boy," said the tree, "but I have nothing left to give you.  My apples are gone."
    "My teeth are too weak for apples," said the boy.
    "My branches are gone," said the tree. "You cannot swing on them.”
    "I am too old to swing on branches," said the boy.
    "My trunk is gone," said the tree. "You cannot climb."
    "I am too tired to climb," said the boy.
    "I am sorry," sighed the tree. "I wish that I could give you something------ but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump."
   "I don't need very much now," said the boy. "just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired."
   "Well," said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, "Well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest." And the boy did.  And the tree was happy.


Another soggy Sunday

We have been having some serious rain here in Salem the past few weeks.  So much so in fact that many of the smaller streams and rivers around town have flood warnings in place.  I have driven past a few homes and business this week that are all sand bagged and ready to go!  I checked the creek behind our house and noticed it has overflowed its banks already! Luckily our house is high enough above the water level I think it would be next to impossible for the creek to flood enough to reach us.

With all the rain and high water, I was really looking forward to my water sampling this morning! Once I month I go out to a boat launch on the Willamette to take some water quality tests for the Willamette Riverkeepers, a non-profit who reports their data to the Oregon DEQ. If ever there was a great volunteer position, this is definitely the one! Spending a morning out on the quiet river watching eagles fly past is definitely a peaceful way to start the day (of course then I get to come home to a full on knights vs viking battle waging in my living room! haha)

When I got out to the river this morning the water level was very high.  There were five or six large trees that were whisked past as I ran my tests and there was so much sediment in the water I couldn't see more than three inches down!  It took me about an hour and a half to run two sets of tests on conductivity, water temperature, turbidity and dissolved oxygen content. Needless to say I was pretty well soaked by the time I was done!
Just a little wet

part of my test kit

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Soccer and a rainy day party

Another Saturday morning soccer practice under our belts.  This has proven to be an enormous challenge for me.  All three boys have to be up, fed, dressed and buckled into their carseats, I have to be showered and presentable and I have to remember to pack the diaper bag, fill the boys water bottles and load up the stroller so we can be pulling out of our garage by 8:30am.  This is next to impossible for me lol  Luckily, we have somehow made it to practice every Saturday.

 Today we had the added bonus of an afternoon birthday party.  The boys had a blast and it was a great way to burn off some of that rainy day energy.  The party was just lovely with a fantastic spread of yummy home-made goodies and an unending supply of balloons. On the drive home the boys actually said they were sleepy!  I tried to push for an afternoon nap, but unfortunately the quiet ride home seemed to rejuvenate them and they hit the floor running!

It was easy to pick out the highlight of Little-Bug's day...he had the opportunity to play with a super-sweet elderly Labrador!  The moment he made eye contact he started to holler "HEh-YO! HEh-YO!!" and was squirming to be let down.  He followed that dog around all afternoon and she was so sweet with him!  She let Little-Bug pet her back and the top of her head, she sniffed his face, but she never licked and was very cautious not to bump into him...a world class pooch!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A little quiet coloring

Today was what we call a "home day" in our house.  That's the kids' term for days when we go literally, no where.  I suppose the fact that my boys notice the rarity of a day without playdates, preschool or errands suggests that we are a pretty busy crew.  Not too surprised there :)  The boys enjoy the occasional "home day."  They stay in their pajamas as long as they like, they create elaborate forts and games, sometimes they even get to eat their lunch on a picnic blanket in the living room.  Yep, home days can be pretty neat for a preschooler.

One thing I am especially proud of is my boys' vocabularies.  Granted, Little-Bug has very limited verbal skills at this point, but I just love listening to the way Big-Bug and Middle-Bug put their thoughts into words.  When Big-Bug gets off with a warning for a "first offense" and responds "Thanks for giving me another chance mom." or when the boys greet their daddy at the door after work and say "Hi dad! Will you be our star command!"  or my recent favorite "What the heck! Oh my gosh!  I can't believe Little-Bug was able to turn off the computer!" Sometimes they just seem so old to me when I hear them speak :)  That said....home days tend to test the limits of my listening capabilities.  One chatty (almost) five year old and one chatty three year old can be a little hard to take for 12 uninterrupted hours.  That's right, lets not forget the fact that neither of them take naps anymore, and haven't for over a year (Big-Bug even longer.)

Today I finally hit my word limit and decided to distract the chatty guys with a little quiet coloring.  I set them up at the table with coloring books, construction paper and a huge stash of crayons.  I tucked Little-Bug in for a nap, and sat myself down at the table with a cup of tea to watch my little artists work away.  Relaxing break for everyone, right?  Wrong.  Why, why oh WHY do coloring books have captions in them?  Big-Bug spent his coloring time flipping through a "jumbo" coloring book at lightening speed asking me to read every caption on every. single. page.  "Mom, mom, mom.  What does this say? Why are they getting in a space ship? What planet are they flying to? What will they find there? Did they find that car there? Look Mom! Mom, mom, mom, look they found a car? Was that already there? Did they bring it with them? Which way are they supposed to go? Mom, mom, mom, what am I supposed to on this page???"   COLOR IT!!!

Surprisingly enough, "quiet coloring" actually turned out the be the chattiest time of the entire day.  By the end I had resorted to default "I don't know I, what do you think" responses, to which he replied "Mom, you always say that." Busted!

Thank you concert gods!

Oh  my, the concert gods have heard my pleas.  I kid you not, yesterday afternoon while I was waiting to pick Ian up from school, my phone alerted me that I had a new email in my inbox.  I opened it up on my snazzy android phone and what do you think it was? A tour announcement from the James Blunt website!  Does he have a stop in the northwest you ask? Why yes he does!!

I instantly sent out a message to my awesome sister and my two awesome cousins with the date, and place and we are officially set!  This will be our third James Blunt Concert together, I think it is turning into a nice little tradition.  This time I vow not to wear my purple coat (long story.)  May can't come fast enough!!

Little James

Getting our stubs signed

All the lost souls tour :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The concert itch

It has been almost two years since I have been to a concert!  I have been thinking about this more and more lately and I can't WAIT for someone I like to pass through town.  The frustrating thing is, every band site I have visited over the past few weeks shows absolutely NOTHING for tour dates.  I know summer is a ways off, but come one guys!  How about a fall tour!  Somebody? Anybody?!?


Big-Bug has show and tell at school today and he is so excited. He picked out this robot police action figure with a helicopter as a special treat after his dentist appointment last week (he was SUCH a champ!  super helpful and pleasant to the staff there, I had been really nervous! lol)  and he is bringing that in for show and tell today.  He keeps asking me to put it in his backpack for him, he can't wait to leave and he still has two more hours to wait! lol

Tonight is mom's night out with some of the playgroup moms.  I am REALLY looking forward to getting out, this has been one of those weeks for whatever reason.  Just exhausting!  Maybe it's the start of the new school term (my last ever!) or maybe it was the irritation of having to replace our water heater...who knows.  All I do know is 7pm can't come fast enough!  Coffee and girl talk awaits!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

No turning back now!

All my life I have felt young, and I have yearned to be older, wiser, more experienced, more mature, highly regarded.  I assume we all have felt that way from time to time.  I remember in grade school I would watch the older kids sitting in the back of the bus.  The girls with their pierced ears, their cooler backpacks.  By the time I was old enough to ride in the back of the bus though (which I actually never did by the way lol)  I was dreaming about bigger and better things.  I couldn't wait to move on to jr high school with lockers and make up and (hopefully) boys :) I still felt too young, like too much of a baby to get the things I really wanted.  When jr high days came, I was looking onward to high school.  Thinking about cars, part time jobs, real boyfriends, college applications, the future.  And as you might imagine, high school years were filled with dreams about the freedoms of college, the thrill of higher education, the excitement of striking out on my own.  It seemed no matter what I did, no matter how many years went by, I was still just too frustratingly young!  I felt young on my wedding day (and I suppose at 21, I was)  and I was sure there were probably a few well meaning guests in the crowd silently shaking their heads at my youthful fool-hardiness.  I felt too young when my son was born.  Like I wouldn't be taken seriously as a mother because I still had a baby face myself.  Every time a stranger responded with surprise when I told them "actually this is my son"  I felt the desire to speed up time, to go shop for a new wardrobe, to re-evaluate the way I wore my hair.  Instead of "Ten Years Younger"  I was on the hunt for "Ten Years Older."

I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I stopped caring.  At some point I settled into myself and I no longer spent time worrying about looking or feeling too young.  Perhaps with the births of my second and third sons, I just became too busy to notice such things.  Who knows. For the past few years, I have even had a hard time remembering my exact age, it just seems to not matter anymore.  Recently however, I have started to be aware of my age in a new way.  I am now closer to 30 than I am to 20.  All of a sudden some of the excuses I have been telling myself for years are getting harder to believe.  I am having a hard time convincing myself that I don't need to worry about daily moisturizers and night creams and eye creams and face scrubs.  I'm having a hard time believing that I don't need to stress if I don't put money into my IRA every month. It's difficult to tell myself it's alright if I'm slacking on my house keeping because I'm a "young mom" after all!  Even more difficult to tell myself I don't need to join a gym yet, because I am still young and can eat whatever I want.

So here's to a new year and the second half of my 20's.  Here's to a new gym membership, skin products, savings plans, housekeeping routines and even self imposed bedtimes. And here's to no longer feeling too young ;-)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Here we go again....

Birthday party round two this afternoon, the boys had a great time! This party had an adorable monkey theme that stretched from the pin the butterfly on the monkey game, to the super cute monkey and bananas cupcake cake to the pinata, to little stuffed monkeys and monkey beach balls in the goody bags, well done!

The party was about an hour out of town, and this was our first time visiting the town of Molalla .  I didn't really see enough of the town to claim I have a full impression, but the part I did see looked cute.  A small town feel with nice homes.

The drive itself was a little eventful.  The sky opened up on us as we were passing through the Keizer area and it was coming down so fast there was standing water on the freeway and pretty poor visibility from all the spray.  Traffic slowed down to about 45 mph and I was worried we were going to crawl along all the way to Molalla.  Luckily we passed through the rain in about 3 miles and it was smooth sailing from there.

Well, it's time to feed the troops! Black bean-zucchini quesadillas tonight, yummy!

Party Party Party!

Wow, we are riding the birthday party roller-coaster this month!  We started off with a bang this weekend, with back to back birthday parties and will finish out the month with two more kid parties and one "adult" party for a grand total of SIX birthday honorees in January!  What can I say, I guess we are naturally drawn to those Capricorns and Aquariuses ha ha!

Yesterday's party was a real blast.  The venue was fantastic, a super sized tube structure with wave slides and rope bridges, a real kid paradise!  There was also a great padded floor area with little climbers and club houses for the super little guys to enjoy.  Little-Bug was really having a good time, but he couldn't quite master the small lip of the padded flooring.  He would trip on his way up and trip on his way down, but he just wouldn't stop walking back and forth (crazy guy.)

The drive to the party was long, but beautiful.  It took us about an hour to get there and we we passed through some amazing farm land with huge open fields. We saw old wooden railroad bridges, really unique riparian areas and a few ponds loaded with ducks and Dusky Canada Geese.  The sky was full of dark, ominous clouds that were very dramatic against the wide open landscape!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Butlerfest 2011

I'm expecting my sister this afternoon, she is stopping for a visit on her way from LA to Washington. We're planning to pack as much fun as possible into our short visit so naturally we are starting off the revelries with Butlerfest 2011 :) 

 We have a great Gerard Butler movie marathon lined up, "300,"  "Dear Frankie,"  "The Bounty Hunter,"  "Law Abiding Citizen," and "Phantom of the Opera."
And some tasty snacks on the menu:   BUTLERscotch brownies,  peanutBUTLER and jelly sandwhiches, BUTLERfingers, and microwave popcorn, ultimate BUTLER  :)  hee hee  Bring it on!!