Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Every year, typically the first week of December, I mail out what seems like a billion Christmas cards to friends and family. I LOVE it. I look forward to it each year. I'm a huge fan of the 'snail mail' system.

I also make out Christmas cards for my kids teachers and bus drivers (and even for our mailman). Along with the Christmas cards the give to their teachers and bus drivers we always do something a little extra. This year I got a container of 101 cookie cutter shapes. A longtime friend of my family gave me her coveted sugar cookie recipe and yesterday I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and a double batch of sugar cookie dough.

This morning the kids and I rolled out sugar cookie dough and stamped Christmas cookie cutter shapes into the dough. It was a long and tiring process to say the least. After a few batches of sugar cookies John and Jessi lost interest and left the kitchen to go play. Tabytha stuck with it. After nearly 3 hours of baking sugar cookies, I told her I'd finish up them up and when they were all done she could come back to frost them and add sprinkles.

Finally, all the sugar cookies were done and I moved on to the chocolate chip cookies. Thankfully they were easy, just scoop, plop and bake. No rolling out the dough, stamping a few cookie cutters, re-rolling out the dough, stamping a few more and so on.

Somewhere in all the cookie baking "fun" I managed to get dinner prepared. Yup. I said Dinner! If you recall the beginning of the blog we started our cookie baking adventure in the Morning. I spent 7 hours in the kitchen baking cookies *sigh*. After dinner was all cleaned up I got the blank sugar cookies back out. I put some vanilla frosting in a zip top bag (a homemade pipping bag) and frosted the cookies. Tabytha went to town putting Christmas themed sprinkles on the fresh frosting and set them aside. Near the end of decorating Jessi came back and wanted to help with the sprinkles.

The cookies were FINALLY done. It felt like the day would NEVER end and there were moments in there I wanted to just be done already, BUT, all in all, it was a super fun day spent with my kids making treats for their teachers and bus drivers (and even for our mailman) to let them all know they're extra special for all they do for us each day. And, after Christmas break the kids all brought home "Thank You" cards from their teachers saying how much they enjoyed the cookies the kids made for them.

We'll definitely make some kind of treat again next year for the teachers, bus driver and mailman. If we do sugar cookies again, I'll be better prepared and make and bake them all in advance (instead of just making the cookie dough in advance) and leave the decorating part to the kids. That's the best part anyway :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving With Loved Ones

This year we had Thanksgiving at my Sister-in-laws house. Her husband cooked the turkey in his smoker, Faye made her pineapple fluff (like stuffing with pineapples in it), some kind of creamed corn dish that was out of this world and pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

My Mother-in-law brought dinner rolls, green beans and peanut butter swirl brownies. I made regular stuffing, mashed potatoes and an apple pie.

We got to Faye's house around 2 and dinner was still at least an hour away from being ready so I took all the kids out back to play in the open field behind Faye's house. Keith (her husband) got out the little castle moon bounce, wagon, barbie jeep powerwheel and baseball stand for the kids to keep entertained until it was time to eat. My kids love going to Aunt Faye's house to play with their cousin, Shelby.

Once everything was ready we got the kids back in the house and washed up. Keith has a large folding conference table we all sat at together. Faye said grace and we all ate. This was our first Thanksgiving without my Father-in-law, who passed away earlier in the year. There was a little bit of sadness being together without him, especially for my mother-in-law who had been married to him for 44 yrs. But, all in all, the day was wonderful and I was grateful to be surrounded by loved ones and we all had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving together.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Bouncy Birthday

Today we had a joint birthday party for the girls since both their birthday's are in November. Each year we typically have the birthday party at our house and I make lots of food, spend a week cleaning the house top to bottom and getting chairs set out for the guests.

This year Charlie and I decided to nix that idea and have a birthday party for the girls at a place called "Kangaroo Kid Zone". It's on the other side of the bridge, where all of our guests would be coming from anyway. The KKZ is a room with giant inflatable moon bounce stuff like an obstacle course, 2 slides and a massive bouncy house for kids to jump around in.

The best part about it all was the facility provided set up (with cups, plates, napkins and plastic ware) and clean up!!! All we had to do was bring the food and show up! SOOO much easier on Charlie and me.

The kids all had a blast bouncing around along with quite a few of the adults. Our time was set up for an hour in the play room and then 45 minutes in the party room for food, cake and gifts. Once our time in the play room was done everyone made their way to the party room and had something to eat. The girls opened all their gifts and got a lot of wonderful stuff

I'm so glad Charlie and I did this because it was a LOT of fun for everyone and we got to come home to a clean house and not have to worry about cleaning up anything, haha.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

This year we were prepared for Halloween. Tabytha's mommom got her a pirate costume during one of their weekends together, my youngest sister found a ladybug outfit for Jessi at the SPEP Free Family Flea Market and I got John a "Woody" costume from Big Lots (on sale to boot!). Charlie even got in on the fun this year and went as a Fireman. John asked me what I was suppose to be and since I didn't have a costume to wear I told him I was what was known as "Paparazzi", haha.

We packed everyone up in the car and headed over to the neighborhood next to the elementary school. I put glowstick necklaces and bracelets on the kiddies and off we went. The kids were adorable and got lots of "Awe, look how cute you are" and "Oh, aren't you all just the cutest things!". I was really pleased with the kids because they all remembered to say "Thank You" at each house they got candy from.

We did a lot of walking and none of the kids got cranky or complained. I was pretty impressed. By the end of our trick-or-treating adventure John was pretty tired of me taking his picture and whenever he saw me hold up my camera he would tell me "Mommy, don't take my picture". Ah, the life of a celebrity being hounded by paparazzi, haha.

When we got home Charlie and I let the kids have a piece of candy from their buckets and then it was off to bed. Now that Halloween is done, John and Jessi like wearing their costumes around the house for playing.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another Year Older

Friday was my 31st birthday. I still hadn't wrapped my head around turning 30 the year before and now I'm 31?!?! Well. Since I live out in the middle of nowhere and many friends don't like traveling so far to come out my way, I decided this year to get together with my friends closer to them and met up in Annapolis to have dinner and drinks with them.

My Mother-In-Law agreed to watch the kids overnight for us so Charlie and I could go out and have a good time. So, Saturday morning I got the kids dressed and ready packing up some clothes to spend the night at Gram's house. I've been wanting a new tattoo to represent my kids (now that I knew for sure I wouldn't be having anymore because I got my tubes tied after Jessi was born). So, since the kids would be with Gram all day Saturday I made an appointment to get my new tattoo before meeting up with my friends at TGIFriday's for dinner.

I told one of my girlfriends about my plans and she wanted a new tattoo also and we made plans to get our tattoo's done at the same time and hang out a bit. Another girlfriend wanted to join in and get a new one to go along with one she already had and our buddy who was riding with us over the bridge decided he wanted a new one, too. So, it turned out to be a tattoo "party" before dinner.

After we were all done getting inked we headed over to TGIFriday's to meet up with the other friends who were meeting us there. We were seated right away and those of us who were there went ahead and ordered our drinks and appetizers while we waited for the rest of our friends to show up.

Once everyone was there we ate and drank and had a great time talking and laughing together. There were about a dozen of us total. Charlie excused himself from the table at one point and went to ask the waiter if there was anyway to have the staff come and sing "Happy Birthday" to me. So, at the end of our meal our waiter came back with the other waiters and presented me with an ice cream sundae and sang Happy Birthday. It was a little embarrassing because I'm an adult and think that kind of thing should be reserved for kids, but, I did enjoy some of the ice cream sundae. =)

Some friends decided to head home after dinner and a couple of us decided to go somewhere else to enjoy some live music on the bay. Charlie and I had a really great evening and didn't get home until 1am! I really enjoyed the time I had with my friends celebrating another year of life. Looking forward to what joys 31 will bring me.

After we dropped the kiddies off at Gram's house Charlie and I headed over the bridge to the tattoo shop

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weathering The Storm

This picture is of a pier in Ocean City, MD after Hurricane Irene came through this past weekend bringing heavy rains and 60mph winds. I don't have a picture of my own to share with you because Ocean City was evacuated 2 days before Irene was predicted to hit. Ocean City is a little over an hour from where I live on the MD/DE line. Many of the weather predictions were calling for the worst part of the hurricane to hit right where I live.

Thankfully, Wednesday was my regular grocery shopping day and I was able to get a few extra things to have on hand in case the hurricane was going to be as devastating as the weather forecasters were saying it would be. I got extra bread, peanut butter, crackers, some bottled water, batteries and ice. If the storm was to knock out our power we'd still be able to see in the dark, have food to eat, water to drink and ice to keep refrigerated foods cold in a large cooler if needed.

The day Irene was anticipated to hit Maryland I was ready. The rain started at my house around 9am and it was just a drizzle. Charlie spent the morning working in the garage and I was in the house getting last minute prep done like making sure all the laundry was done, dishes were washed and some food was cooked that could be served cold/room temp (if needed). I vacuumed, got candles ready and put new batteries in the big flash light.

Around noon Charlie came inside. The rain wasn't any heavier at that point, but, he helped me finish some prep. Charlie went to the store to get some charcoal for our grill in the off chance we'd be w/o power for a day or two (he also got another loaf of bread and a box of doughnuts). On his way home Charlie stopped by our neighbors house to see if he needed anything. Our neighbor had a few 5 gallon water coolers (like the kind sports teams use for water/Gatorade) and let us borrow one to fill with water. Charlie filled the water cooler and then the tub.

We were ready for the worst hoping for the best and even thinking all the prep would have been overkill. The rain continued to fall. We sat around the house watching TV, periodically checking the news to see where Irene was and the impact it was having on the coast where we live. We were actually beginning to get bored with it all since nothing significant was happening. The day faded as evening approached. The kids got their showers, I made dinner and got the kiddies ready for bed. Everyone was tucked in by 9pm and Charlie and I found stuff to watch on TV. The rain was getting heavier and the wind was picking up slightly. So far, nothing worse then any other storm we've had before.

I remember thinking I'd be pretty disappointed if this hurricane turned out to be nothing more then just a long day of rain. By 1am Charlie and I were tired of watching the news and went to bed. We awoke around 5:30am to our son, John, yelling that he couldn't turn on his bedroom light and didn't like the dark. Our power was out. I grabbed the flashlight next to my side of the bed and guided John to get his spongebob couch, blanket and pillow and get set up to sleep on the floor on my side of the bed in my room. That was good enough for him. He got settled in and I called Choptank to report the power outage so we'd be in their system.

Around 9am our power came back on for a few minutes and we got excited. It was short lived and went out again a few minutes later. Fortunately it was morning and the daylight was enough to go on about our day. Church was cancelled as a precautionary measure. There was a heavy breeze lingering so we opened all the windows, the front door and sliding glass door in Charlie's and my room so the house wouldn't get hot and stuffy. Thanks to Charlie's thinking the day before we had doughnuts for breakfast.

The kids were busy playing with building blocks, playing tag, hide-n-seek and general goofing around. Charlie and I got in on some tickling fun with the kids. I called various family members to check in on how they fared through the storm and text a couple friends to see how they were doing. Lunchtime rolled around and I was going to make sandwiches for everyone. Charlie said he was in the mood for a sub from a store in the next town. I found the number and Charlie called to see if they were open. The store was open and taking orders. Charlie called in a sub for himself, a sub for me and nuggets and fries for the kids and went to go pick up the food. We enjoyed our lunch and a little while later Charlie went outside with John and Jessi to pick up broken branches that were knocked loose from trees around our property.

Charlie noticed that our neighbor was home from the place he stayed the night before and we all went over to visit with him and his girlfriend. She made us iced coffee and gave the kids some snacks. Tabytha was excited because Nick let her feed the goats, sheep and llamas all by herself. A portion of Nicks house is underground and had flooded but there was nothing to be done about it until the power was restored so the sump pump could work to flush out the water from the basement.

Then we heard it. Water gushing into the yard. That meant one thing. The electricity was back on and the sump pump was working. Charlie went to our house to get his wet/dry vac from the garage to help get the water out of Nick's basement faster and called our buddy, Harold, and asked him to bring his wet/dry vac over, too. About an hour later most of the water was gone except for some mopping to finish the cleanup. Nick decided to let it wait and we decided to go out to dinner at a chinese buffet we all like up in Dover.

Charlie, the kids and I went home to get cleaned up and headed out with Nick, Ria, Leo and Harold to get dinner. After dinner we all said our good nights and headed home. Got the kids to bed, then Charlie and I watched some tv and went to bed.

Looking back I may have been "overly prepared", but, at least I know we were ready for whatever came. Praise the Lord our house stayed in tact and we suffered no flooding of our own. The only inconvenience was most of a day without power and even that wasn't that bad.

Give Her A Medal

Today was Ms. June's last day working with John on his speech development. She came into our home once a week to work with John for the past two years and has done an exceptional job. When she began John was a few months into being 2 yrs old and said only a few words, such as 'ball', 'baby', 'mama' and 'dada'. His first evaluation showed his speech level to be that of an 18 month old.

Ms. June made John's speech sessions fun for him and he didn't even realize he was working and learning. That's how good she was. For John it was all a game. Ms. June came each week to "play" and she was there only for John and he loved it.

Because of the difficulty in communication between John and the rest of the world he sometimes had aggressive outbursts or would be very angry and/or refuse to participate. Ms. June never let his tantrums get in the way and would lovingly and patiently guide him back to focus on their "game". The woman had the patience of a Saint and there were days I was nearly brought to tears because of John's bad behavior and she would reassure me and comfort me telling me things would be fine. She became a part of our family.

She stuck with John through good days and bad and never made him feel like he wasn't going to get it. She was always positive and encouraging and stern when she needed to be when he acted out.

Now that John will be going to Pre-K he will continue to get his speech therapy through the elementary school and Ms. June will move on to another little one who needs help. We have truly been blessed to have her in our home each week to work with John. He came from saying a few baby words to speaking in complete sentences and finally being able to be understood by those around him. There are a few things that on occasion may not be quite understood, but, overall, there's really no more communication gap between John and the world around him.

Thank you so much Ms. June!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Flashback

Just before 2pm this afternoon something strange happened. I had just finished switching laundry over and putting dirty lunch dishes in the sink. I sat down on the couch. John and Jessi were running up and down the hallway playing tag and laughing together.

All of the sudden the house began to sway and then shake from side to side. I froze in bewilderment with so many thoughts racing through my head. The first moment the house started swaying I though a very strong wind had come though (we live in the middle of nowhere with an open field across the street so there's nothing to 'protect' us from any strong gusts that sometimes come through). But, the house didn't stop shaking and no strong gust of wind would last that long. I looked out the front window and there was no sign of it being caused by the wind. The leaves were barely moving. There were no large tractor trailers rolling by going too fast past my house. So why then was my house shaking?

The shaking went on for about 15 seconds and after I realized it wasn't a strong gust of wind or a large tractor trailer going by and then I got the same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I did 15 years ago when my dad and I were on a mission trip with our church in Ometepec Mexico. My mind took me back to that day when during our sleep a 4.7 earthquake came through. I actually slept right through it. In the morning after I awoke I heard everyones story about what they experienced and how they felt when the earthquake had woken them up and saw there was a large crack from the top to the bottom of a wall adjoining the hallway and dinning area of the house we were all staying at.

We went on with our regular work day and at the end of the work day as we were all making our way back to 'Casa Wood' an aftershock came through. I remember vividly standing in the road facing Casa Wood and seeing my dad a little way off to the right of me. Then I heard what sounded like a train coming right toward us (there was no train anywhere near where we were). I felt the ground shake starting from the right side of my body through me and down the left side of my body. I froze. As the shaking left my body I looked to my left and saw an old woman with a load of laundry wrapped in a blanket on her head walking up the road. She simply stopped, let the tremor pass and kept walking. I looked back to my right, saw my dad and ran to him. He wrapped his arms around me and held me. I felt safe again. And the day went back to normal.

Now back to the present, a few minutes after the house (and my stomach) settled I checked Facebook and saw many of my friends statuses had been updated to say they just felt and earthquake. I changed the channel to find a news program and CNN was reporting that a 5.8 earthquake had just passed through the Washington DC area. I was amazed that the ripples from an earthquake made it's way through the Chesapeake Bay all the way to my house on the MD/DE line!

Praise the Lord there was no damage to my house. Not even a toppled over picture frame. John and Jessi didn't even notice what was going on because they were too busy playing. Tabytha was in Texas with her mommom and Aunt Shannon. I called Charlie to see where he was and if he had felt the quake that just came through, but, he was driving at the time and didn't notice anything. I called my mom to find out if she and my sister's were ok. They were fine. Charlie's and my friend, Harold called me to find out if the kids and I were alright and as soon as I hung up with him letting him know everything was fine my MIL called to check on us. We were fine and everyone I talked to was fine. No one I know suffered any harm or damage.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Celebrating A Milestone

You've seen these lovely ladies before in past blogs. These are 4 of my nearest and dearest friends. I've known these girls since my early teens and we've been through so many things together over the past 15+ years.

We've graduated high school. Some went off to college, one joined the military and we've all gotten jobs, met our spouses and started families. We've always been there for each other. Through good times and bad. For better and for worse. Through fights and reconciliation. Together we're like an old married couple, lol. I can't imagine a better group of friends to go through life with.

After the cookout earlier with another friend, Charlie and I met up with my friends at a restaurant to celebrate one friend's 30th birthday. We had a table outside and enjoyed great food, strong drinks and a ton of laughs. There was even cake! So, Happy 'Dirty 30' to my dear friend, Holly! I'm so happy to be able to celebrate this milestone in life with you and our dear friends and look forward to so many more through the years to come.

(from left to right is me, Julia standing up, Holly, Drea and Kristin)

Still The Same After All These Years

10 years ago I had a job in the room service department of a hotel. Turned out to be one of the funnest jobs I've ever had. I worked with a lot of great people and made so lasting friendships with a couple of them. One of which was my boss at the time, Sande. We became fast friends and would even hang out together after work and on days off.

Through Sande I met her best friend, Jen, and became good friends with her, too. I spent so many weekends hanging out with Jen and Sande we were kind of like the Three Musketeers. Jen was even kind enough to care for my cat when I moved back home and discovered I was pregnant and couldn't take care of her anymore.

I lost touch with them a little while after we both stopped working at the hotel, but, thanks to Facebook, we found each other again a few years ago and have been keeping in touch that way. I haven't actually seen Sande in person since my oldest was just a few weeks old (back in late '01) and I haven't seen Jen since my son was a few months old and she was pregnant with her son (back in late '07). We've tried to all get together since finding each other on Facebook a few years ago, but, life often has it's own plans and things never seem to work out right when we would make plans.

Fast forward to present day, 2011. Sande was having a cookout at her mom's house and for once, our schedules weren't conflicted and I marked my calendar, asked my MIL to watch the kiddies and eagerly anticipated 'the big day' (so to speak, lol).

The day had finally arrived. I woke up, got the kids up and ready to go to their Gram's house and made my way to the cookout. When Charlie and I pulled into the driveway, Sande and a couple of her friends were standing out front. She had a puzzled look on her face wondering who was pulling in the driveway (since she didn't know what my car looked like). Once she realized it was me her face lit up and I got out of the car to give her a hug. I missed my dear friend and was so happy to see her again after so many years.

Being there and hanging out with her and Jen again felt like no time had passed between the last time we were all together. We picked up where we left off and had a wonderful time. Even Charlie had a great time and we were a little sad to have to leave earlier then we wanted to because we had another party to go to that evening.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Taking The Zoo To The Beach

Today Charlie and I took our zoo to the beach. We've been looking forward to this for a couple weeks now. Charlie invited his mom and sister and her family to join us and I invited my parents and sisters. Our friend Harold was all set to come, too.

We left around 8:15am and made our way to the beach which was a little over and hour drive and we planned to stop for a quick breakfast on the way. Harold met up with us at McDonalds. We head out and make our way to the beach. Finally there we gather all of our things, beach chairs, umbrella, cooler, sand toys and kids.

We make our way over the dune and find a good spot to settle our things and set up the umbrella. It doesn't take the kids long to get situated and want to play. Sunblock is applied, Faye and Keith get their tent set up and the kids are playing in the sand. Charlie, Harold and Tabytha go straight to the ocean. I stay with Jessi, John, my MIL, Faye, Keith and Shelby. Keith helps the little ones make a mermaid in the sand while us women relax and catch up.

A couple hours later, my parents and sisters arrive and get their tent and chairs set up. It's so great having everyone I hold dearest to me spend the day with us at the beach. We have some lunch from our coolers and all of us take turns staying on the beach with the little ones who don't want to go in the ocean with those who do. Jessi's never liked the ocean, but, LOVES playing in the sand under the shade of our umbrella. John and Tabytha can't get enough of the ocean and the waves. Shelby didn't like the ocean much either and she and Jessi spent the entire day playing in the sand together. John took a break from the ocean for a little while to play with Shelby and Jessi and then was back in the ocean.

It was a fun and relaxing day for everyone. I couldn't have asked for a better time or better company. The day came to an end and everyone began packing up and heading back to their homes. Hugs, kisses and goodbyes were shared and after I got the kids packed up into the van and Harold and Charlie got the supplies in the van we headed over to Charlie's friend, Walter's, house for dinner and a dip in his pool.

It was a great ending to a fun day.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

God's Provision

Ok, so, along with dealing with all the tire drama with the car, Sunday, Charlie and I were on the back deck cleaning up the couple of plates and such left over from the "party" we had Saturday. All of the sudden we hear a "POP" and a long hissing sound. We look in the direction we hear the noise and Charlie notices that the back of our van is slowly sinking down. He goes over to see what's going on and, you guessed it, the left rear tire blew out!

REALLY?!?!? I just went through this the day before with the car and hadn't even gotten the new tire yet and now we have another tire blow out on another vehicle. Turns out, all the tires on the van (despite being hardly used) are dry rotted! Thankfully, we haven't been using the van because the AC doesn't work and it's been too hot to drive it. But, still. It's something that needs to be taken care of because we're trying to sell our car and the van is the only other vehicle we have that fits the whole family in it.

While I was at Sears getting a new tire for the car I asked them to check prices for all new tires for my van. I got 3 prices for 4 new tires and the least expensive option was still several hundred dollars. Major bummer cuz we don't have several hundred dollars to shell out for new tires right now.

Charlie and I discussed it and we decided to ask my parents to loan us some money to get new tires and we'd pay them back a little each month until they were paid back. I brought it up to my mom and she quickly told me it wouldn't be a problem to lend us money.

Little did I know, my dad already had plans to send us money, before he even knew we had a need for it. In the beginning of the month, my parents and sisters went to FL for my cousin's wedding. My great Aunt was also there and had given my dad a check "just because", to help out with any needs they might have. According to my dad, they had no financial needs and thought the best thing to do was to help my brother and me out with any financial needs we might have. He went to the bank the day I called my mom to deposit the check from my great aunt and write my brother and me each a check for half of what he was given.

I called my mom the next day and asked if there was a way to get the money we were asking for before we saw them in 2 weeks to get the tires for the van and she told me I was ruining the surprise. I asked what she meant and she told me that she hadn't even told dad about our need and he had put a check in the mail to us with a note saying the money was for whatever we may have a need for.

I burst into tears at God's provision and goodness. He knew our need before we did and used my dad to carry out His provision for us. My mom assured me there was no need to repay them and that they only wanted to be a blessing to us. I couldn't stop crying. A huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders and I thanked my mom and my Lord. It took a few days to get in touch with my dad to thank him, but, I finally did. I got choked up talking to him explaining what perfect timing the Lord has and thanking him for thinking of us and helping us out financially. Dad kind of laughed it off and said it was no big deal and he was happy the Lord worked it out.

The very day the check came in the mail, Charlie and I went to the bank to cash it and we got new tires for the van. We brought them home and Charlie took the old tires off the rims and put the new tires on and now the van is back on the road with reliable tires (and a recharged AC thanks to our neighbor)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fix A Flat

Over the weekend I had a tire blow out on me while I was driving. It was taken care of and Monday I took the blown tire back in the bed of Charlie's pickup truck to Sears to be replaced. It was a little more expensive then we thought it would be, but, it was a need that had to be taken care of.

When Charlie got home Monday night he put the new tire on the car and our neighbor took it to work with him Tuesday morning. (2 of his coworkers were interested in buying the car and wanted to see it). Our neighbor was barely 40 miles down the road and the tire that had been replaced (less then 24 hours before) had blown out!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! Nick was able to get the spare on and get to work. A few phone calls to Sears later I was basically told I'd have to buy a new tire because it was most likely "driver error" even though the tire was barely a day old and there was no way it could be a problem with the tire or the employee who put the new tire on the rim. I tried explaining I was just there the day before and asked if there was ANYTHING that could be done to help me out because I didn't have the money to pay for another tire. The employee told me he'd talk to his manager and have the manager call me back in the afternoon when he got into work.

A few hours into the afternoon and I still hadn't heard from the manager. I called back to ask for the manager and the person I spoke with earlier said the manager wasn't coming in at all! I was getting annoyed.

I won't lie, I was really ticked off with Sears basically blowing me off. I called the 800 number for Sears customer service to complain about the way I was blow off by the store. They called the store to find out what could be done and they told customer service the same thing they told me, basically, they felt it wasn't their problem and I'd have to buy another tire. But, this time, the customer service rep I spoke to told me to go back to the store with the tire and deal with one specific employee who was told the situation and wasn't who I had dealt with on the phone before.

This morning I packed up the kids, again, and headed back to Sears. This time, I prayed before I did anything. I asked the Lord to be with me and soften my heart and take my frustration away and be able to talk calmly and hear what they had to say about the tire.

The service person I spoke to took the tire and the kids and I went in the waiting area. Several minutes pass and the service person comes to me to say they're going to replace the tire for free because the blowout happened from the inside of the tire and was deemed a 'defective' tire.

WHEW! Thank you Lord! 20 minutes later I've got a new tire and I'm on my way home.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

From Sputter To Sparkle

Today was the day Charlie and I had been planning for weeks. We were going to have a "Kid Free Cookout" and have our friends over for some food and fun. Several of our friends said they would definitely come and were looking forward to it.

We didn't have all that much planned, really, just to cook burgers and hot dogs on the grill, I made a crockpot full of BBQ chicken and I made my famous "Cheddar/Bacon Dip". The thing I was looking forward to was the fact that my MIL was going to be watching the kids overnight for us.

So, the day has finally arrived. Around 11:30am I packed the kids in the car with their overnight bags and headed over to my MIL's. Got there about an hour later and hung out a few minutes catching up with how she's been doing lately and hearing about all the fun things she had planned to do with the kids. After leaving there I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few more things we still needed for the cookout. I found a display case full of 'fireworks' and picked up 2 packages thinking we'd all have fun lighting them up at the house after the sun went down.

I checked out and was finally on my way back home to get everything put together and await our guests arrivals. About half way home I hear a loud "POP" and feel the car rattle in the back. I quickly pull over to the shoulder and wait for traffic to thin out enough for me to get out and check what happened. Turns out the sidewall of the left rear tire blew out in 2 different areas. I was weary of changing the tire on the side of such a busy major highway. I called Charlie to let him know what happened and he told me to stay put and he'd be there soon. My first assumption was that he was going to bring his tow truck and tow the car home. Since I wasn't sure I proceeded to get the spare tire out of the truck and begin changing the tire myself. I had all the lug nuts off except the last one which was giving me a hard time getting loose. I took a break and sat in the drivers seat for a minute.

A random SUV pulled up behind my car and a man got out. I got out of the car and he asked if I needed some help with the tire. I told him up front I didn't have any cash on me to pay him and he waved off the idea of payment and told me he wasn't going to ask for any money, he said he saw me trying to change the tire and wanted to help. I thanked him for his kindness and he began getting the busted tire off and putting the spare on. Just as he as finished tightening the lug nuts I saw Charlie coming. He didn't have the tow truck which was a bit of relief for me that the tire got changed before he got there. Charlie pulled up and parked in front of me and got out to thank the man who helped me out. I thanked him again, too, and we were all on our way back up the road.

Finally home now, I hurried to get cleaned up from playing with dirty tires on the side of the road and get the last few things done before our friends showed up. Well. Turns out, everyone else seemed to have found better things to do with their day and no one showed up. We had all this food and no one to eat it. Charlie and I were seriously upset and hurt by our friends. We tried calling and texting everyone to find out their ETA's and some people didn't answer or respond and the ones we did get a hold of fumbled around with excuses as to why they couldn't come. We were cut pretty deep at first because of all the prep that went into getting everything ready for a lot of people expected to be here.

After our initial upset about no one coming, our neighbor and another friend (who's typically here every weekend anyway) DID come. It was just the four of us enjoying each others company with a couple beers, good food and a bunch of laughs. The sun finally set and the sky was dark. We took the 'fireworks' I bought earlier in the day and set them off in the front yard.

So, the plans we made fell through, but, we still had a great night. Turns out, only having 2 friends show up to hang out was better then we planned. I was able to really relax and enjoy myself because I didn't have 3 kids to tend to thanks to my MIL. And only having 2 people show up, Charlie and I didn't have to split our attention between lots of people.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Potty Trained At Last!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Oh, who am I kidding. These past 2 yrs have been some of the worst of times for me in the epic battle of potty training my son, John. I've already written some blogs about potty training him and every time I've made progress with him and mentioned it to others, it would backfire and we'd be at square one all over again.

Shortly after John turned 2 I began easing him into the idea of going potty like a big boy and trying to get him out of diapers. I started with giving him lolly pops as a reward and we called them 'potty pops'. That worked for a short time. Then we tried M&M's. That didn't work for long.

I tried putting him in big boy underwear, going 'commando', all kinds of different treats, yelling and ashamedly I even tried a spank on the toosh if he soiled his underwear. I was at my wits end several times over the past 2 years. Yes, it's taken me TWO YEARS to get this child potty trained.

This past school year John was able to get into the local Head Start program in our county and that was a HUGE blessing to us. He was able to be around other children a few hours each day and many of them were already potty trained, so he saw other kids going potty and started giving it a try himself. The thing about John is he's stubborn and hard headed. He doesn't like being told what to do and when to do it. He does things his way in his time.

His last day of school was last month and I decided that his first full day home for the summer he was going to start wearing his big boy underwear and we were simply going to trudge through and conquer potty training. His teacher said that by the end of the school year he was completely potty trained for her, so I figured, if he can do it at school, he could do it at home, too. So, the day after he was done with school it was big boy underwear and no more pullups (even at night time)

I haven't had much troubles getting him to make a wet on the potty, it's always been a problem getting him to make a stinky on the potty. That's where we fought our battle the hardest. So, when his teacher said he was making #2's at school I knew he could do it at home, too.

It's been a month since school let out for John and he's done wonderfully. A couple accidents over the weeks, but, that's to be expected. Overall he's got the hang of it. I won't lie. Over the years there were lots of tears shed, meltdowns and tantrums thrown, some of them even by John. But, I feel like it's finally safe to say that after this 2 yr battle, John is finally potty trained. Now, I only have one more kid to get potty trained and then we'll be done with diapers for good!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yesterday was John's last day of school at Head Start. Last week I met with John's teacher to go over how the school year went and what to expect next school year when he returns to Head Start AND begins Pre-K at the local elementary school.

I was pleasantly surprised at what his teacher had to say about his progress throughout the school year. When John began the school year he was fairly aggressive and didn't communicate well with anyone. (He's still in speech therapy each week and has made enormous progress). John's first reaction to things he wasn't happy about was to scream and hit. He wasn't very good at sitting still when he was suppose to and often found himself in 'time out'.

As the year progressed John learned how to get along with his classmates, keep his hands to himself (even when he was mad) and sit still during lesson time. His teacher told me John had made the most improvement this year then any other child she's ever taught.

My heart swelled with pride for my son's accomplishments. It's been a very trying year with John working with him on how to behave properly and work well with others even if it's not something he necessarily wants to do (along with his teacher). I've noticed small positive changes in him as the school year went on and then, to hear from the teacher about how great he's done I was nearly brought to tears.

The Lord has really answered my prayer for John that he would adjust to school and learn how to work as a team player, control his anger and use his manners. He still had a bad day here and there when he didn't want to play nicely or sit still during lesson, but, overall, he made a complete 180 from the beginning of the school year. Teacher told me that by the end of the school year she found herself 'correcting' him more for kissing his classmates then hitting or being mean. I'm so proud of John and am looking forward to what next school year will bring for him.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

My youngest, Jessi, has a habit of taking her clothes off and walking around in just her diaper. Thankfully it's only at home that she does this and not when we're out in public. The kids were watching a cartoon on the TV in my bedroom and when Jessi came out for a refill in her sippy cup I noticed her diaper was sagging pretty low.

I assumed there was a stinky in there (even though I didn't smell anything). I got a fresh diaper and proceeded to change her. When I opened up the soggy diaper I expected to see a stinky in there, too. But, there was no stinky. Instead I found my old flip phone cell phone (which had been replaced and updated several weeks ago with a new Droid cell phone).

I couldn't help but laugh at the discovery. I guess, since she had taken off her clothes and had no pockets to put the cell phone in she decided to keep it in her diaper for safe keeping.

Needless to say, the kids won't be playing with that old cell phone anymore.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dirty Boy

A couple weeks ago my vacuum died. I was devastated. I'm tellin ya, this vacuum was a champ. Over the past several weeks leading up to it's demise, it was literally falling apart. The adjustable wheel lift underneath next to the beater bar (that raised and lowered the vacuum height based on bare floor and carpet thickness) had actually broken off and was now only working on "bare floor" level. The caps on the pivot wheels were missing. You had to prop the vacuum against a wall when you were done because it no longer clicked into place when you set the vacuum upright after you were done using it. Anywho. You get the point. It was on it's last leg but kept on chugging.

Vacuuming is my absolute favorite household chore. I really like the bissell brand vacuum and wanted to get another Bissell to replace the one that died. I looked up Bissell's on to compare and read reviews and find the one that I thought would best suit my vacuuming needs. I wanted one that would be good at picking up pet hair and cleaning up after messy children.

After scouring through all kinds of Bissel models and reviews I found another bagless I liked and it was reasonably priced. I called Charlie to tell him about the vacuum and he told me to go ahead and order it.

I, not so patiently, waited for it to arrive. When it did I was practically doing cartwheels through the house. (did I mention vacuuming is my favorite?). I got right to it and went through the house making up for a week and half of not vacuuming.




I filled the bagless canister after going through all the rooms in my house. Time to empty it. Well, this bagless was a different set up for disposing of dust and dirt then my old bagless. This one emptied through the bottom of the canister whereas my old one emptied through the top. I'm fiddling with the canister trying to find where it opens up to empty it. I'm pushing and pulling on this and that when, finally, I push the right button and the bottom flies open and all the dirt, dust and crumbs explode out and all over my son, John.

Poor kid didn't know what hit him. He was just standing next to me watching me try to figure out the new canister and next thing he knows he's covered in all the dusty, dirty ick from the canister. He looked at me in shock and disbelief. I burst out laughing and telling him how sorry I was for getting him all dirty.

Surprisingly, he wasn't upset at all. I carefully and slowly guided him back to the bathroom to get him cleaned up. Once he was showered and clean again I went back into the kitchen to clean up mess.

Now that I know how the bagless canister works, this kind of thing won't happen again.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Big Girl Bed

Now that the girls have their own rooms, I thought it was time for Jessi to get a 'big girl bed'. She's been in a crib the longest out of all 3 of my kids, but, because of the room sharing issue we've had it was best for Jessi to be in a crib to keep her out of Tabytha's stuff during nap/bedtime.

The very weekend the wall went up my friend posted on facebook that she was selling both of her kids toddler beds. What perfect timing!!! I emailed my friend and told her I wanted her daughters toddler bed for Jessi and she said it was all mine. We made arrangements for me to come pick it up the following Saturday.

I was so excited! I got the bed from my friend, who threw in some fitted sheets and blankets. I couldn't wait to get it home and set it up for Jessi. When we got home I left it in the bed of the truck while I disassembled the crib and brought the pieces outside. The toddler bed was still completely assembled from my friend. Tabytha helped me carry it back to Jessi's room and I put it in the spot where her crib used to be.

Jessi was squealing with delight at her new bed and played in it for quite awhile after putting it in her room. I was a little worried about her not adjusting to it very well at first when it was time to actually sleep in it for naps and bedtime. That night I got her all tucked into her new bed and set up a baby gate in the hallway so she wouldn't come out every 5 seconds (because of her new found 'freedom'). She cried one time after I turned off the light and that was because she didn't have her 'snuggle blanket' in bed with her. After I got it for her, gave her another goodnight kiss and turned out the light, she didn't make another peep.

She did great her first night in her new bed. Nap time the next day was a little bit of a different story. She didn't stay in her bed, but, she didn't cry and fuss to come out, either. She just played in her room until she fell asleep in the middle of the floor. She'll get the hang of it soon enough.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Her Own Room

We have a 5 people living in a 3 bedroom house. When Charlie and I found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child we had to figure out where to put new baby when baby arrived. We decided that we'd find out baby's gender and move the same gender sibling and new baby into the biggest room in the house to share. Baby #3 turned out to be a girl. That meant Tabytha would be sharing a room with new baby.

It was great for awhile while Jessi was a baby because she didn't get into much and slept in a crib. Tabytha's stuff in the girls room was safe from little ones getting into it. But, as Jessi has grown so has her curiosity about all the cool things big sister has on her side of the room. Poor Tabytha had to keep all of her things hidden around her room so John and Jessi wouldn't go in and tear it all apart. Puzzles were missing pieces, crayons and colored pencils were all over the room, books were scattered all over the floor and so on.

Over this past Christmas Charlie and I decided that we'd separate the girls room with a wall with some of the tax money we'd be getting in just a few short months. The girls room was 14'x24'. Big enough to divide and still give each girl a good size room for themselves.

This weekend was the weekend it was going to happen. My brother-in-law (Charlie's sister's husband) Keith came over bright and early Saturday morning (while Tabytha was away for the weekend with her grandmother), and built a wall. He's a carpenter and knows what he's doing so it didn't take long at all. The wall was framed in and dry wall was starting to be put up in a mere 2 hours! In the course of the rest of the day the dry wall was hung, mud applied and a door put in.

I couldn't wait for Tabytha to come home to see her 'new' room! Keith did an amazing (and quick) job of getting the wall up. Finally, Sunday was here and Tabytha was coming home. After her grandmother left from dropping her off I went back into the room with camera in hand to get her reaction when Charlie brought her back to see. Well, her eyes were closed when I took the picture of her initial reaction, but, she was super excited.

She's LOVING her new room and being able to have a door to close to keep John and Jessi out of her things. All that's left to do is have her find a paint color she likes and paint her room.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Sick Day For Mommy And Daddy

Thursday morning started with a school day cancellation due to snow and hubby calling out sick. That meant all 3 kids AND a sick hubby were going to be home with me all day. My mind raced with all the things that could go wrong throughout the day. I was worried the kids would be fighting all day, keeping hubby from getting the rest he needed to feel better. I was worried hubby was going to be getting on my nerves asking for this and that all day long and complaining about not feeling well. I was worried that with the combination of those things I wasn't going to be able to get much house work done because I'd be too busy catering to sick hubby and plucking squabbling children off each other all day.

I prayed for the Lord to give me strength to deal with any situation that would arise that day and also for an abundance of patience to be able to handle anything that came my way. The Lord heard me and answered me in the most amazing way. Hubby stayed in bed all day watching TV and napping. Hardly even knew he was home. The kids spent the day playing together and watching cartoons back in the girls room. I barely knew they were home. My whole morning was going beautifully. I was able to get the kitchen cleaned up and wash dishes (hand wash people, we don't have a fancy dish washing machine to do it for us). I got 4 loads of laundry washed, dried, folded AND put away and managed to get the living room straightened up and vacuumed all by mid afternoon!!!

I was on a roll!!! Then it happened. I felt like I got hit by a bus. I sat down to take a break from the housework and whatever hubby was sick with had worked it's way in me and I started feeling terrible. I could barely keep my eyes open, I felt flushed and light headed. My body started to ache and it hurt to move. I laid down on the couch to keep the room from spinning to much and w/o realizing it had dozed off for about an hour.

Fortunately the day had faded into evening and the kids would be going to bed soon. Tabytha really stepped up and helped out tremendously with John and Jessi and keeping them busy with playing and letting them watch movies on her TV. I still changed diapers and got the little ones in the jammies for the night, but Tabytha is the one who kept them entertained all day.

Finally all the kids were in bed and I was feeling even worse. I fell asleep on the couch for the night and Friday morning didn't feel any better. I haven't been this incapacitated by a sick bug since I was a teenager. I mean, I've been sick before, but never so bad that I couldn't still take care of the kids, get something done around the house and still be able to make dinner, this was awful. Friday was a half day but I decided to keep Tabytha home from school and asked her if she wouldn't mind watching after John and Jessi for me while I was sick on the couch. She said sure and she told me she wanted me to feel better soon. I felt terrible asking so much of her, but, I physically couldn't do it. Whatever this bug was it had knocked me on my butt and I literally spent Friday on the couch sleeping. I mustered up enough strength to get up to change John and Jessi throughout the day, but aside from that, they were all on their own.

They even managed to keep themselves fed all day Friday. Thankfully I have a lot of apples and cheese slices and bread and a couple lunchables on their level in the fridge and they dug into those when they felt hungry. Tabytha did such an amazing job keeping after John and Jessi Thursday evening and all day Friday, and John and Jessi were also really well behaved and I didn't have any problems out of them. All weekend as a matter of fact the Lord looked down over me and blessed me with good behavior and even tempers from the kids. It's as if they knew mommy didn't feel good and they just got along and played together and let me rest.

Charlie and I are feeling so much better now. Saturday afternoon our fevers finally broke and we started feeling human again. (Tabytha was picked up Friday night to go to her mommom's for the weekend, as is the custom the last weekend of every month). So, to thank Tabytha for being such an amazing helper while hubby and I were sick we're going to take her out and treat her to something she would like to do that's just for her. We'll get someone to watch John and Jessi for us. I can't thank the Lord enough for the blessing he's given me in my daughter, Tabytha. She's the most caring compassionate person I know, and I'm so proud to call her my daughter.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Date Night

Since Charlie's and my anniversary fell on a weekday this year, we waited until the weekend to go out and celebrate. Alone. Without the kids.

Our buddy Harold came over to watch the kids for us and off we went. Our very first date was at TGIFriday's in Annapolis. So, in honor of that we went to dinner at the Friday's in Dover. We sat at a table for two and enjoyed a delicious meal. After dinner we stopped at the Verizon store to inquire about wireless high speed Internet (details to come in my next blog) and then made our way to the Dover Mall to see a movie. There weren't many movies playing that interested us, but we found one that looked like it would be funny. The only problem with it was the only time left for the evening was 9:40pm and when we decided on a movie it was only 7:30pm.

We killed time walking around the mall and browsing around in various stores. Finally the time came to go into the movie. We got a popcorn and each got a drink and Charlie got his favorite candy (Reese's peanut butter cups). We found a good seat and the movie began. Overall, the movie was decent, what made it better was just being there together w/o the kids climbing all over the place and getting antsy. We were able to see a whole movie without distraction and even held hands and relaxed.

It was a wonderful evening just the two of us and I look forward to the opportunity to do this again next year.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Marriage Milestone

Today marks Charlie's and my 5th wedding anniversary.

The day we were legally married was a rainy dreary day. Our only witnesses to this new union were my parents, Charlie's parents, my dear friend Drea and my parents dog, Max. There were circumstances surrounding getting married before our formally announced wedding date (March 11, 2006) and no, I wasn't pregnant, but the reasons are not something I'd like to blog about.

So, around 6:30 that rainy Wednesday evening we all gathered in my parents living room and Pastor Tom began. We said our vows, exchanged rings and sealed it all with a kiss.My mom made a huge dinner of spaghetti, homemade sauce, biscuits and even got a small cake for Charlie and I to cut and feed each other. My parents also said that they would keep Tabytha for the night so Charlie and I could go to a hotel for the rest of the night and have some time alone. We said our goodbyes after dinner and went to Annapolis and checked into a hotel. The next morning we made our rounds to the MVA, Social Security Administration and bank to notify them of my new last name.

Since I already purchased my wedding dress we kept our original wedding date for the rest of our friends and family to be a part of and get professional pictures taken. Both days were wonderful. Charlie and I celebrate our 'legal' wedding date each year on January 11th and this year marked 5 years married. We'll go out this weekend to celebrate with dinner and movie w/o the kids with us. Looking forward to that and what the years to come with bring for us.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting Fit

I recently learned that a YMCA has opened up a couple towns away. To lure locals to join they've waived the joining fee for the month of January. When Tabytha and John got home from school I packed everyone up and we went to join.

They offer a child care during certain hours of the day. Several hours during the morning a several hours in the evening. It's been wonderful. I'm severely out of shape (well, round is a shape technically) so I've been spending my hour on the treadmill until I have the chance to have a consultation with one of the employees about the kind of workout that would work best for me.

The treadmills, ellipticals and stair steppers all have TV's equipped on them and you can plug in your own earphones and watch tv while you're using the equipment which has been a fantastic distraction to watching the clock wondering how much longer I have to go on the machine.

John and Jessi had a bit of a rough start in the child care area getting along with the other children, but, they have adjusted quickly and really enjoy being there. All I have to do is say "We're going to the Y" today and they run for their shoes and coats. There's another section designated for older kids not yet old enough to be on the floor with the exercise equipment and they can play Wii games, there's a ping-pong table and computers set up for kids to play computer games. Tabytha's used the computers to do some research for a school project and watched some tv shows she likes on YouTube.

The Y offers a couple classes kids can take part in, like a kid friendly "Zumba" class they call 'Zumbatomic' and a "family cycling" class.

I'm so glad we've been able to be a part of the YMCA and look forward to continuing our membership in the years to come and taking part in all the wonderful programs they offer for families and individuals.