Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!


We had a mini family reunion last night at our house. I say "mini" because a) our extended family is quite small and b) three of the cousins were not present. Anyway, I had not seen my cousins since our grandmother died in 2001 so it was great to see everyone and my kids had a blast meeting the McCarthy Family. We'll have to plan another reunion again soon!

I created a slide show of the Best Langan Pics of 2007. I cannot seem to get the slide show to import to the blog so if you'd like to see it, you can click HERE.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Best & Worst of 2007

I really don’t like New Year’s. For one thing, I am scared to death of getting hit by a drunk driver. Therefore, I try to not drive anywhere on New Year’s Eve. Secondly, I really dislike all the resolution-making. I hate resolutions. If I want and/or need to do something in my life, I am just going to do it without waiting for January 1 to roll around. So my only resolution is to not make any resolutions.

Anyway, since I have only been blogging for a couple months, some of you have missed out on some important Langan Moments over the past year. Thus, this posting will be a “Best & Worst of 2007”. I’m going to post the items in chronological order, not in the order of the Best or Worst. There are a couple items that fit under both Best and Worst but I’ll let you figure out which is which.

Best & Worst of 2007

FEBRUARY
Rachael Ray Show
I got to go to NYC to be a part of the studio audience for a taping of The Rachael Ray Show. Very cool and exciting. My friend, Michele got us tickets through her brother, who is a TV anchor in Lancaster (thanks, Ben!) Unfortunately we did not get to see anyone famous because they were taping 3 different segments on the day we were there, none of which involved a celebrity, darn! However, I was on TV a couple times so that was my 6 seconds of fame.

MARCH
The Piano

I purchased a piano from eBay for less than $150. It is beautiful and I love it. My oldest daughter is taking lessons and my younger daughter will start lessons sometime during 2008.

JULY
Ireland

We went to Ireland for 2 weeks to visit my husband’s family. Traveling with 4 children, 2 car seats, 2 booster seats and 8 suitcases is no easy feat.

We had a great time and stayed with Grannie & Grandad in Galway. We got to see our cousins from England as well as our cousins from Dublin and many of our extended family members who live in Ireland.

This trip was not so great for me, however. I was sick and on antibiotics right before we left for Ireland and as soon as I finished taking the antibiotics in Ireland I ended up with strep throat. And then my oldest daughter came down with strep the day before we flew back home. Fortunately we were able to get to see a doctor (they weren’t too interested in taking us as patients, thanks to socialized medicine but agreed to see us as a favor to my mother-in-law) and got some more antibiotics before flying home.

Scotland

My husband and I got to spend 2 nights in Edinbugh, Scotland WITHOUT KIDS! This was supposed to be the highlight of my summer: 2 nights in a nice hotel and sight-seeing without a stroller. Except that I started getting a fever (precursor to the strep) and ended up spending most of the trip in bed while my husband went sight-seeing on his own. Still, it was luxury to be sick and be able to LAY DOWN without having to still cook, change diapers, pack lunches, help with homework, take care of kids, etc.

AUGUST
Kelly comes to visit!
Right after we got back from Ireland/Scotland, my best friend from college, Kelly and her family drove down from New Hampshire to spend a few days in PA. It was so great to see her!!!! We had such a good time just talking and eating ice cream together, it was just like old times. And our girls became good friends too.


Anniversary
We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in August. Yay!

Gardening

Before & After
My friend, Michele (not the same Michele as the one from The Rachael Ray Show) taught me how to garden. For those of you who have seen my yard, you can attest that it was a terrible mess. Michele looked at it and said, “You know, your yard is a diamond in the rough.” She inspired me to get started, showed me how to dig flower beds and mix soil, took me to the nursery to help me buy plants and encouraged me every step of the way. Who knew gardening could be so rewarding and so addictive???

Before & After

SEPTEMBER
We are swimming!
I mean this metaphorically, of course.

My oldest daughter has always struggled developmentally and academically. I have been on a quest (since she was 2 years old) to find out what was going on with her and to get her the help she needed. I felt like she was a puzzle and that I had to not only find all the pieces, but I had to figure out how to put them all together. After many years and doctor appointments (ear tubes, speech therapy, developmental pediatrician, audiologist, language therapy, diagnostic tests, diagnosis of multiple learning disabilities, needing glasses, reading support, learning support, nutritional counseling, etc., etc.) we finally have all the pieces in place.

Thanks to her amazing teachers who cared about her not only academically but also about her well-being, she is finally getting the help she needs. She is finally keeping pace with other 3rd graders. She still has to work hard but it feels great to be swimming instead of sinking!

OCTOBER
Lice
Good riddance. Enough said.

NOVEMBER
Molly
My heart is still sad as I am missing my dear little dog, Molly who died in November. Sometimes I think I hear her barking when I pull the car into the parking space behind the house. Or in the middle of the night I reach out to pet her at the foot of my bed. When I was decorating for Christmas, I carefully unpacked our advent calendar because it has bells on it and every year when I would unpack it, Molly would hear the bells and would start barking like crazy. But then I realized I didn’t need to keep it quiet anymore since she was not around to bark at it.

On the bright side, we were given a lovely book by our friends, the McKnights, called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. The text and pictures are lovely and it makes me smile to think of Molly eating squirrel-shaped dog biscuits in heaven.

No More Diaper Bag!
I have been carrying a diaper bag for the past 8.5 years but no longer need to carry one as my youngest is potty-trained during the day (he still needs a diaper at night). I cannot even believe that I can walk out of the house without a diaper bag and without a sippy cup! I never knew how liberating it would be to be finished with diapers! I am looking forward to the next milestone: no more car seats or booster seats. I’ll be waiting at least another 6 years for that though.

Have a happy, healthy, harmonious 2008!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Cacophony of Carols

We were treated to a "concert" on Christmas night, check it out on the video below. (Sorry about the shaky filming, my husband was laughing so hard that he couldn't keep the camera steady.)

The video is a little blurry but you can get a sense of the craziness nonetheless!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!



What an exciting day it has been so far! Our day started at 2:30AM when our middle children came into our room asking to open presents. Needless to say, we said NO but they persisted in waking us up numerous times until I told them that I didn't know if Santa had come yet, but if he hadn't, he wouldn't come as long as they were awake so they finally fell back to sleep, albeit, in our bed.

We came downstairs around 7:00 to open gifts. My mother headed down before anyone else . . . and ended up falling down the last 2 steps, landing on her shoulder. She is bruised and cut and sore, but ok otherwise, thankfully.

We usually open gifts one-at-a-time from youngest to oldest. However, my 4 year old son did not get to open his Christmas Eve presents because he was throwing a fit and was sent to bed without opening gifts. So we let him open the first present and he ended up throwing another fit and getting sent back to bed.

OK, you are probably thinking we are mean and awful parents to punish a child like this at Christmas. So I feel compelled to share the story with you so that you have all the facts before deciding that we are ogres. It all started with church on Christmas Eve. Our son did not want to go because he does not like to wear clothes. (My older children were also like this at age 4. I have concluded that I like other people's 4 year olds but that I really do not like my own children at this age.) Obviously, he has to wear clothes to church. (I should mention that he throws a fit EVERYDAY when I get him dressed.) He was very unhappy about having to go to church (even though he was in his "soft pants") but he really freaked out when we arrived at church and we made him wear his Christmas Sweater over his t-shirt. He was crying and shrieking and wiggling as if we put itching powder in his pants. This went on for about 15 minutes. I was participating in the service (reading a book to the children) so I was upstairs getting my microphone, etc. while my husband was downstairs handling Maniac Child. By the time church started, my husband had given in (numerous people at church said to just give up and take off the sweater, I guess they were tired of hearing him wail) so my son was NOT wearing the Dreaded Sweater when church started. I was not happy with this as I do NOT give in when temper tantrums are involved. (If my son had calmly asked to take it off, I may have considered but the Freaking Out makes me dig my heels in.) As a consequence, my husband told my son that he could not have any of Jesus' Birthday Cake at the end of the church service. Well, at the end of the service they called all the kids forward to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and then they passed out cupcakes and sent the kids back to their seats. He brought the cupcake to the pew and I said "Do not eat this" (meanwhile trying to keep the other 3 and their cupcakes from being eaten and/or dropped) and quickly closed my eyes for the closing prayer, which lasted 40 seconds or less. When I opened my eyes, Maniac Child was stuffing the last of the cupcake into his mouth and almost half of it was on the floor in crumbs. I was NOT HAPPY and told him that he made some poor choices (named the poor choices) and told him he was going to bed as soon as we got home. He said, "That is the meanest thing to say to somebody." (Meanwhile, the sermon on Sunday was about having Mercy at Christmas when your family members are getting on your nerves. Although you may think I was being merciless, I wasn't because what I really wanted to do was pack up all his gifts and send them to Toys for Tots so sending him to bed seemed merciful to me.)

So up to bed he went, wailing and crying. Meanwhile, his siblings got to open a few presents, one of which was matching jammies for all the kids. After listening to about 20 minutes of wailing I started to feel sorry for him so I went upstairs and we talked about what choices he could have made that were better choices. He still wanted to come downstairs so I made a deal with him. I said he could come downstairs and see the gifts that his siblings opened but he could not open any AND he had to wear the Dreaded Sweater. He agreed, put it on and went downstairs and was pleasant and the Dreaded Sweater did not seem to bother him one bit! Shortly thereafter we put all the kiddies to bed.

OK, so back to this morning. We allowed Maniac Child to open his matching jammies before anyone else opened their gifts since he did not get to open them last night and so he could put them on and match his siblings. I even made a point to buy him Stripey Pajamas because the kid will only wear jammies with stripes on them. (Did I mention that 4 year olds are difficult?) When my husband tried to put the Christmas Jammies on him, he freaked out (I guess he did not learn anything from the Dreaded Sweater incident) and he was sent back up to bed while his siblings opened gifts. (This time I only let him wail for about 5 minutes before going up and talking him through it. He quickly agreed to wear the Dreaded Jammies and has been wearing them for the past 5 hours without complaint.)

Here are photos of some of our favorite gifts:
Electric Guitars & Microphone


American Girl Biddy Baby Twins & Stroller & Baby Alive
(she pees and poops, just like a real baby, thought I was done with all that!)


American Girl Doll, Much Wanted cool sweater, Christmas Jammies & Winter Crocs


Other favorites? A cool new car (top of post) and a "teacher kit" for playing school:


And of course, the Ever Popular, Much Anticipated, Sugared Cereal!

(I don't let my kids eat sugar-cereal throughout the year except for Christmas and the week we are on vacation in the summertime. The cereal is one of their favorite gifts. They love it and I love that it makes them so happy and costs so little. Oh, and you may wonder why there are only 3 cereal boxes instead of 4. That is because I have one child who does not like sugared-cereal. Hard to believe, I know. She gets a loaf of challah bread instead. She will eat the entire loaf today, guaranteed. That is, if the dog doesn't get to it first. Last year our dog, Lady, swiped it off the counter and gulped it down before my daughter could have any!)

Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Joy to the World!

I love this song, I think it is so powerful, putting into words all the hope and joy that was promised to us so long ago by the prophet Isiah:

Isiah 9:6
To us a child born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

May the joy and peace and blessings of Christmas be with you all. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cookies & Cake


We are baking almost every day in preparation for Christmas. Yesterday we made the oh-so-fun, much anticipated Sugar Cookies! In addition to green and white icing, I let the kids use Gel Icing that you squirt out of little tubes. Big Mistake!! They had no concept of "enough" and when you use too much gel icing, you end up with black blobs which are hideous and very unappetizing. (The ones in the photo below don't look too bad because I used paper towels to wipe off the black blobs. Very messy, my hands were bluish-purple by the time I finished.)


Of course they LOVE to load the cookies up with as much icing and sprinkles as possible - yuck. Not only did the kids enjoy decorating the cookies, one child in particular ate all the ones he decorated.


As stated in a previous post, my husband recently celebrated his birthday. We got him a cool ice cream cake that looks like a gingerbread house. My daughter took this picture of us with the cake, I think she did a good job for a 6 year old.


I've been baking for a couple weeks and am storing the cookies in the basement freezer. The ice cream cake is in the same freezer. We planned to have left-over ice cream cake for dessert last night but when I went to cut it, I discovered that it was nearly melted. That's because the freezer door was not shut tightly . . . apparently one or more of my children has been sneaking cookies from the freezer!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy Birthday!

This is an exciting weekend for birthdays in our family. My Dad is celebrating his 70th birthday (sorry, Dad for telling everyone how old you are) and my nephew is celebrating his 1st birthday. (My husband is also celebrating this weekend, he and my father share the same birthday. My husband is turning 38, not such an exciting milestone).

My siblings and I took our parents out to Gilmore's for a birthday celebration on Friday night. Our sitter never showed up and by the time we realized that she was ditching us, it was too late to get another sitter. We had been looking forward to this evening for months and I was really annoyed with her for not showing up. My brother was driving in from Pittsburgh to join us for dinner and he arrived at our house just as we realized that the sitter was not going to show. I asked my brother to babysit and he graciously agreed. We were so grateful to him for his willingness to give up such a yummy meal to take care of 5 kids (my four plus my nephew). My brother's name is Dan and we have nicknamed him Danny the Manny (you know, like Nanny but since he is a man we call him Manny). Dinner was amazing and we brought home a spectacular dessert for Dan and then took him out the following night as a thank you.

We celebrated my nephew's 1st Birthday today.

Here is a picture of nephew, Liam, just after he was born.

I had the AMAZING privilege of attending his birth on December 16, 2006. He was absolutely perfect. He has turned into such a cutie and has developed a sparkling personality over the past year.

Here is a picture of him today, enjoying his birthday cake. It's hard to believe how many changes happen in the life of a baby in just one year!


Liam really enjoyed his cake and pretty soon it was all over him!


And pretty soon our dog, Lady, was more than willing to help clean him off!

They BOTH enjoyed the cake and I think Liam enjoyed feeding Lady as much as he enjoyed feeding himself.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!


Our tree is decorated, the house is decorated, the gifts have been purchased (some of them are even wrapped), the Christmas cards have been mailed and I'm in the process of baking cookies. When I looked at the calendar the day after Halloween and realized that it was just 3 weeks until Thanksgiving, I started to panic! What I failed to realize (until after Thanksgiving) was that I have an EXTRA week to prepare for Christmas since Thanksgiving was so early this year. Thus, I am nearly finished with my Christmas preparations. And it feels REALLY good! I am usually stressed and anxious and doing too much on too little sleep. Not this year! I like that I am relaxed and enjoying the anticipation of Christmas. I am going to try to be this prepared EVERY year. (Check back next year to see how I'm doing.)

My 4 year old son wrote a letter to Santa the other day. He cannot write yet, except for the letters A, O, N, W so the entire page was covered in these letters. Nonetheless, he read his letter to me:

Dear Santa,

I want lots of toys for Christmas. Except I don't know what toys I want. But you probably know all the toys that are in the world so you will know what I would like. And I want lots of candy for my stocking.

It was fun to watch him "read". He kept stopping and pointing to his letter and asking, "Did I draw this letter right? Does this say the right thing?" and I would say, "It's perfect" and he would smile and continue "reading".

My kids love to help decorate the house (they are actually really helpful) and they love it when I unpack the Little People Nativity. I love the Little People Nativity too. Here's a picture of it after I've set it up.


And here is a picture of how it looks after my children get a hold of it:


They like to turn all the people and animals so that they are all peering into the manger. This used to frustrate me, so I would move them all back to the way I like it. After a couple days of this back-and-forth, my younger daughter said, "Mom! Why do you keep DOING that?! They want to see the baby Jesus and you keep moving them!" So now I don't interfere with the Little People Nativity. I let the kids set it up however they want. And I have a feeling that I'll use that nativity every year, turning all the Little People so they are peering into the manger, long after my children are grown.

Friday, December 7, 2007

School Pictures, Finally

My son's preschool picture just arrived.

What do you think? Does he look like me? My neighbor, who is 4 years old, asked to see a picture of me when I was a little kid. She thinks I look just like my 4 year old son.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Parade

I still haven't received any other photos from the parade so I guess I am going to have to post my own.



Our church built a Nativity float for the parade. My husband was a shepherd, my oldest daughter was a sheep and my 4 year old son was a cow. My son decided at the last minute that he wanted to be on the float. As soon as he saw the cow costume (or more specifically, the horns) he just HAD to wear it. He was so cute, he kept holding onto his horns and moo-ing. Once the parade started, he was waving to people, and according to my husband, got LOTS of attention. My husband said that people were laughing at how cute he was and said people were moo-ing and waving at him. Poor little guy. He thought people were laughing AT him and he started to withdraw and get sad and eventually stopped waving and started hiding his head against my husband's chest. By the time I saw the float go by, he was nearly in tears and had taken off his cow hat.

The parade was a huge success, in spite of the parade route changing and thus we were standing out in the cold for nearly 2 hours. We didn't even stay for the end of the parade because we were so cold. But the weather was dry and we had lots of fun in spite of the cold.

Here's a picture of the float.



Unfortunately, I am on the wrong side of the float so you can't really see the shepherd, sheep or cow. (Like I said, the parade route changed. I would have been on the right side if they had followed the printed route.)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stats

We had a great time on Friday night at the Old Fashioned Christmas Parade. 3 of us were actually participants in the parade! I'm waiting for some pics (the ones I took were not so great) so I'll post them as soon as I receive them.

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy some "stats" for our family for the month of November:

Number of loads of laundry washed, folded, put away: 58
Money spent on groceries: $951.94
Number of times a child vomited in my bed: 1
Number of times a vomited in their own bed: 1
Number of times a child vomited somewhere else (not a bed): 2
Number of trips made to NJ: 3
Number of date nights with my husband: 0
Number of diapers used: 30 (we are down to a diaper at night-time only!!!)
Number of doctor visits (kids): 3

Do you know that someone asked me yesterday, "So what do you do all day now that you are home?" I wish I would have had my laundry stats available to share with her!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dishwasher Drama

I own 3 dishwashers.

Dishwasher #1
The one we've had for several years that was a hand-me-down. My husband has been wanting to replace it for months. He doesn't like that you have to rinse the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. I do not mind rinsing the dishes. And really, who does more dishes in this house, him or me? He claims that it would be more cost-effective to replace it, rather than waste water rinsing the plates. This is the same man who leaves the tap running while he is brushing his teeth so I don't know why he would be concerned about wasting water on dishes. He also claims that it keeps him awake at night. Literally. He always turns on the dishwasher before he goes up to bed. Our room is on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen AND he closes the door at the top of the stairs AND he closes the door to our room but he claims that he can still hear it running.

Dishwasher #2
We went to Sears a few weeks ago to buy new stools for our kitchen. However, once we got there, my husband decided that the stools were too large so we didn't buy them. We did however, end up buying both a food processor AND a dishwasher. We were not planning on buying either. But my husband noticed a floor model dishwasher on clearance and the next thing I know, we are getting a new dishwasher.

Dishwasher #3
After we got home from Sears, my husband suffered from Buyers Remorse. He started researching dishwashers on the internet and reading Consumer Reports. He went onto the Sears website and bought ANOTHER dishwasher because it was a special, online deal, 1 day only and he though it was a better purchase than the one he purchased in the store 1 hour earlier.

We are in the process of getting a credit for dishwasher #2 and dishwasher #3 arrived home with my husband last night. My husband is very handy so we are do-it-yourself homeowners. He picked-up the dishwasher on his lunch hour and I helped him carry it into our house last night. I knew he was bringing it home so I called him and asked if he wanted me to run dishwasher #1 so that I could empty it so that he could install dishwasher #3. He said no, don't bother. Well, it turns out that he could not wait to install the new dishwasher so he unloaded all the dirty dishes from our current dishwasher onto the counter. Along with all the pots and pans from cooking dinner. And did I mention that we had a table full of dirty dishes on the dining room table and no dishwasher? He disconnected our current dishwasher so that he could hook-up the new one.

But first he had to drain the water out of the old one. As my oldest daughter says, "That smells like poop." The water is stale, scummy and smelly and lurks in dishwasher pipes. A lot of the stinky water drained out but some of it drained into the cabinet adjacent to the dishwasher, all over my clean pots and pans. The rest of it drained out on my feet as I helped my husband carry dishwasher #1 outside.

In the meantime, the boys had a field day with the styrofoam panels that were packaged with the dishwasher. My husband gave them his electric drill and let them drill holes in the styrofoam. THANK YOU, now there are 10,000 pieces of styrofoam all over my floor! So not only do I have a ton of dishes and no working dishwasher, I also have to vacuum meticulously to get up the tiny pieces of styrofoam. At this point, my husband decides that he really cannot complete the job without going to Home Depot. WHY OH WHY did he have to do this on a weeknight?! That is what weekends are for! So while he was at Home Depot, I vacuumed and then got the kids showered and ready for bed.

Apparently while I was vacuuming, the boys got into my husband's tools because when he came home from Home Depot, he was shouting things like, "Where's my spanner?! Boys! What did you do with my thingamajig?" My husband was born and raised in Ireland so lots of times he has different names for tools than Americans do. And he is also the kind of person who thinks faster than he talks so he rarely calls items by their names but instead calls them "thingys" or something like that so you never really know what he is talking about. Well I guess he found his missing tools because by the time the kids went to bed, he had dishwasher #3 up and running.

So now I am getting to know my new dishwasher. Which is really a lot like shopping for jeans. First there is a lot of moving things around, trying to get them to fit into the dishwasher (jeans). You might have to try a couple different arrangements (jeans) before you find one that works for you. Then you have to add the detergent. This is the part of jeans-shopping where you try to fool yourself and you think, "Well maybe if I wash them in cold water and don't put them in the dryer then they won't shrink and I will be able to button them." And then there are the buttons. You have to figure out the buttons. Which buttons will work for you? Or maybe, as in the case of jeans, you should not even bother with the buttons because then you might not be able to breathe. Which brings us full-circle because the reason you can't breathe in the jeans is because you are too darn much food and that is why your dishwasher is full!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Good News, Bad News

I think my Thanksgiving Day can be summed up with the phrase: Good News, Bad News.

Good News: My husband didn't have to go to work on Thanksgiving day.
Bad News: He left the house at the same time as he does when he goes to work (7:20am) so it was like any other morning for me and the kids.

Good News: He participated in a Turkey Trot foot race and he finished with a good time.
Bad News: He hurt his back and had to go to the chiropractor the next day. And he complained about his sore back all day long on Thanksgiving. (When he said he wanted to run the race, I said that was ok with me as long as he didn't complain about his aches and pains all day. I know him SO well.)

Good News: It was a beautiful fall day, very warm, around 70 degrees which is unheard of on Thanksgiving!
Bad News: When we went outside to get in the car to drive to my sister's for Thanksgiving dinner, we discovered that someone had pelted our car with eggs and oranges the night before. There was glop all over the car and the egg yolk was pretty much baked on in the 70 degree weather.

Good News: It was an uneventful 2 hour ride to NJ and the kids slept part of the time.
Bad News: My 4 year old son threw-up as soon as we arrived at my sister's and my 2 year old son got diarrhea soon after.

Good News: The turkey was yummy.
Bad News: There was a little turkey mishap. My sister was using a counter top roaster to cook the turkey and apparently the thermometer/sensor was broken because the turkey was sizzling as if it were frying. After a few minutes of panic and a quick trip to the grocery store, the situation was remedied and the turkey was saved.

Good News: I discovered that I like sweet potatoes.
Bad News: But not the kind my brother makes. My brother mashed sweet potatoes and added some allspice and they were divine. (I sampled them while they were being mashed.) But then he had to go and add a stick of butter and about 3 cups of Splenda/Brown Sugar to them. They were terrible. All you could taste was Splenda. If that wasn't bad enough, he added about an inch of Fluff on top and then put them in the oven to BROIL so that the top burned like a campfire marshmallow. Ew. I like campfire marshmallows when I'm CAMPING not when I'm eating Thanksgiving dinner!

Good News: I got out for a walk on Thanksgiving Day!
Bad News: I am sure I did burn nearly enough calories to compensate for my indulgences!

What's not to like about Thanksgiving?! It's ALL Good News!

I'd like to leave you with my all-time favorite Thanksgiving memory from 2005.

We were having Thanksgiving at my sister's house (it was the first time she and her husband were hosting Thanksgiving in their new home.) My brother-in-law was in charge of mashing the potatoes and seemed to be having a difficult time: too many potatoes in a bowl that was too small using a hand mixer that was too small. The potatoes kept flicking out of the bowl. I told him that I had a trick that would solve his problem. I explained that he needed to take a dish towel and drape it around the mixer to keep the potatoes from splattering out of the bowl. He thanked me and took my advice. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that my brother-in-law is both an engineer AND a scientist and is VERY intelligent (like sometimes I am not even sure what he is talking about when he talks about his job.) Well, shortly after he draped the dish towel around the mixer, the towel got sucked into the beaters and the mixer became an unstoppable machine! It started making a terrible grinding sound as the towel got more entwined with the beaters. He started lifting the mixer out of the bowl and as he did, the towel started spewing mashed potatoes EVERYWHERE. Like all over him, the windows, the floor, the walls, the ceiling. It was in his hair and he could hardly see because it covered his glasses. It was such a sight to behold. My sister and I were both in tears and shaking from laughter. The family dog was thrilled, running all over the kitchen, licking mashed potatoes off the floor. (He too was covered in mashed potatoes but he is white so you could hardly tell.) Meanwhile, the mixer continued to grind and whirl as my brother-in-law tried to get control of it. It looked like a jackhammer as it spun towards the ceiling, the towel making the beaters move erratically, all the while continuing to cover everything in mashed potatoes. It was HILARIOUS! I don't know when I've laughed so hard. My brother-in-law did not find it funny at all and it has taken nearly 2 years for him to be able to laugh about it. It will be pretty hard to top this as my all-time favorite Thanksgiving memory.

And with that, I would like to say that I am thankful for laughter.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Correction

I stand corrected:

"I am named FAST cheetah, Mom!"

Wild Cheetah

My son had a Thanksgiving celebration at preschool today. Each child got to choose a Native American name and my son chose Wild Cheetah. He is very into cheetahs at the moment. He also decorated a costume for the celebration. How cute.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

That Stinks!

My kids are always asking me where the water goes when we flush the toilet . . . so I thought I'd take them to a sewage treatment plant so that they could see first-hand. We brought 6 friends along as poop is extremely interesting to the 8 & under crowd.

Of course the highlight of the trip was checking out the room where all the waste (I won't elaborate) comes into the plant. It was great fun to hold our noses and shout about smelly poop. Aside from that, we learned how gravity helps in wastewater treatment and about the microscopic bugs that eat the sludge. We got to see chlorine being added and then removed from the water and got to watch the clean water run back into the stream. At the end of the tour we got to go into the lab and see how they test samples of water and sludge and got to see a cool way of stirring samples using magnets instead of spoons. A fun time was had by all.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Turkey Day

Around here, we affectionately refer to Thanksgiving as Turkey Day and we are all looking forward to going to Auntie's house and eating some turkey. WE LOVE TURKEY DAY! I love Thanksgiving for so many reasons: the feast, the history behind the holiday, my childhood memories of Thanksgiving, the gathering of family, the crisp weather, the Macy's parade, the calm before the storm of the Christmas holiday; and I also like that you can say, "Happy Thanksgiving!" and not worry that you are offending someone who does not celebrate because almost everyone celebrates Thanksgiving.

Today at church I was checking out a bulletin board that was decorated with colorful hands cut out of construction paper. On each hand was a person's name and 5 things (one on each finger) that he or she was thankful for. Our whole family participated in this activity about 2 weeks ago and it was so much fun to see what my kids wrote (or dictated) that I had to copy them down and share them with all of you. NOTE: this activity took place just a couple days before our dog, Molly died. I am amazed that each of my children thought to list her as a blessing!

8 year old daughter:
I am thankful for Molly
and God
and for my family
and Lady (our other dog)
and lots of other stuff and my brothers

6 year old daughter:
My school
and God Jesus
and Molly
and friends
and toys

4 year old son:
My dog Molly
My dog Lady
for Mommy
for Owen
for my school

2 year old son:
Dogs
Mommy
Daddy
The Girls (his sisters)
My Brother

Dad:
Family
Home
Health
Community
Friends

Mom:
Health
Colorful Leaves
Laughter
My Family
Ice Cream

Today at church during the Children's Sermon (all the children go to the front of the church for a kid version of the grown-up sermon) my 4 year old son was asked, "What makes you happy?" He answered, "Getting a new dog would really make me happy." This makes feel happy and sad both at the same time. Happy that he misses Molly so much that he wants another one (even though we still have one) and sad that Molly is no longer with us.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Crazy Day

My day started this morning at around 5:10am when my 2 year old climbed into our bed and proceeded to cough all over me. Every time I fell asleep he would begin to cough so I finally got up and went to the gym for 45 minutes of cardio. I arrived home around 7am. My oldest daughter informed me that her 4 year old brother wet the bed. My amazing husband had stripped the bed and put the sheets in the washer and gave both of the boys a shower. He got ALL the kids dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed and fed them breakfast. (It takes me 1.5 hours to do this on a normal day!) I jumped into the shower and then raced out the door with all 4 kids at 7:25am because we had a doctor's appointment for my 8 year old at 7:45am.

The doctor checked my daughter's ears (she had tubes inserted about 2 years ago) and reported that 1 tube was still in tact and that the other ear had a perforated ear drum from when the tube fell out months ago. The perforation has not healed since our last visit in August. He told us to come back in 4 months and if it is not healed, he will surgically repair it and also remove the tube if it has not grown out of her ear. (Leaving the tube in at her age would risk the perforation becoming permanent.) We have literally had hundreds of ear infections in our house over the last 8.5 years. 3 of my 4 children have tubes and two of them have had multiple sets of tubes. We have been through 6 ear surgeries to insert tubes and I find it ironic that we may have to go through another surgery to remove tubes!

Once we got to the car I called our pediatrician because my 4 year old has been complaining of ear pain for 2 days. I scheduled an appointment and then called his preschool to say he would be absent. Then I called my neighbor to say I couldn't carpool and that we would not be at the bus stop because we were longer than expected at the doctor. Next I dropped the girls off at school and then drove to Starbucks where I met a friend for a quick coffee.

We left Starbucks, drove to the pediatrician's office and found out that my son does NOT have an ear infection! Yipee! This is a first! Maybe those Juice Plus vitamins are working!

Since the boys had napped in the car on the way to the doctor's I thought it would be a good idea to run some errands since they were awake and happy. I (finally) picked-up my wedding video that got converted to DVD in June and then we went to a brand-new Target. The Target was well-stocked and had a much better selection than the one I usually go to. However, since the layout is different, it took me about 1.5 hours to get almost everything (and then some) on my list. My boys were keeping themselves amused in the cart with all the purchases and decided that it would be a good idea to pretend to spray each other. (They really enjoy pretending to be skunks ever since Halloween when my 2 year old dressed as a skunk). The problem is that they decided to "pretend" to spray with Murphy's Oil Soap and PineSol and the PineSol got dropped from the cart and splattered all over the floor. LOVELY. I decided to skip the rest of the things on my list and get to the check-out ASAP. While at the check-out, I was trying to slyly add some Christmas gifts to the conveyor belt without the boys seeing. I was successful (I hid them under some towels) until the woman at the register says, "And I put the firetrucks RIGHT IN THIS BAG." Yes, great, thank you so much. To which my 4 year old says, "Mom! Mom! What did she say? What about a firetruck? Where? What firetruck?" THANK YOU VERY MUCH, LADY.

Next stop: one of the boys' favorite places, Jimmy John's. They are famous for their hot dogs and their electric trains. Finally, some down time for me as the boys ate hot dogs and fed quarters to the trains.

Then home to unpack the Target order and then to the bus stop to get the girls. Then some volunteer work for the library at my son's preschool and now this posting.

I feel as though I accomplished NOTHING on my To Do List today. Like the 8 loads of laundry upstairs that need folded and put away. Like grocery shopping for Thanksgiving (even though I am not hosting I am still going to make stuffing to take to my sister's). Like paying bills. Like making dinner. Like cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast. But hey, at least I got a shower today.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Deceptively Delicious

About a month ago I purchased Deceptively Delicious, the cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld (wife of Jerry). The book contains recipes for adding pureed fruits and vegetables to food in order to boost the nutritional content of your kids' meals.

Since I used to be a librarian, I enjoy reading and discussing books . . . I'll try not to bore you with a book review but I do want to say that I have found the book helpful and we all really like the chocolate chip cookies made with chick peas as well as the homemade mac 'n cheese. The meatballs and greek dip are yummy too. And I love the retro look of the illustrations.

Anyway, here's what happened when I went to the store to purchase the book:

I took the book to the check-out counter of my local bookstore. I had my 2 year old son with me and there wass a senior citizen working behind the counter.

HIM: (Looks at my son and says) Hey there, kid. Watch out! You are about to be deceived!
ME: (Smile politely)
HIM: I just don't know about HIDING vegetables so kids will eat them! That just doesn't seem right.
ME: (Another polite smile as I hand over my credit card)
HIM: I was reading an article in the Inquirer this morning and the writer said that it is JUST WRONG! It is wrong to LIE TO YOUR CHILDREN about what they are eating! (Blah, blah, blah as he droned on . . . )
ME: (I really wasn't up for a fight but I had to respond so I said) Well, I kind of look at it like insurance. I am not going to stop giving them vegetables but if I can put extra veggies into their food then that's a good thing.
HIM: (Hands me my purchase and continues to mumble about the injustice of it all)

When I got back to the car I started to think about what he had said and I started getting really annoyed! First of all, I don't think this guy has a child under the age of 30 and I'm not sure the author of the article does either. Secondly, who the heck cares if I want to put veggies in my kids' food?! I CANNOT BELIEVE there is controversy over VEGETABLES!!! It's not like we are talking about spanking or vaccinating or neglecting to use a car seat! We are talking about VEGETABLES!!!

And as far as the "deception" of it all -- I don't know if Jessica Seinfeld even cooks her own food or if she cooks while her kids are with the nanny, but my kitchen is the hub of my house. My kids see me puree the veggies, they see me add them to the recipes and they even choose which recipe to try next and want to know what is in it. So there is no deception going on in my house, so I am not LYING to my kids THANK YOU VERY MUCH man at the book store and author of the article.

Friday, November 9, 2007

New York City



My oldest daughter had a writing assignment earlier this year about what she wished for and her wish was to see the Statue of Liberty. How could I deny her that? So I decided to take all 4 kids into Manhattan for the day on Election Day (no school).



We met up with my sister and my sweet little nephew, Liam while in the city. 5 kids and 2 strollers was quite interesting, especially since there are many places that do not have elevators. Like subway stations. Where we got stopped by an undercover cop because we went through the handicap entrance instead of the turnstile. But how were we supposed to get the strollers through the turnstile? The cop was nice when he stopped us and offered to help us out, so at least he was not angry. (Although I felt criminal when he stopped me and flashed me his badge and told me that I was breaking the law by not scanning my Metro card.) Then we had to navigate steps with strollers in order to get out of the subway. In spite of stereotypes that exist about New Yorkers, many, many people went out of their way to open doors for us, offer seats to us on the train/subway and to help hoist the strollers up and down the stairs. But most of the time I found it easier to just pick up the stroller (including son) and carry it up/down by myself. I might as well get some payoff for all my hours at the gym. Besides, I was counting it as my exercise for the day.

Although it was raining in the morning (and the ferry boat to Liberty Island was pitching so much that people were getting scared), by the time we got to the statue, the weather was starting to improve. I must say that security at Lady Liberty is unparalleled! You have to go through security to get on the boat and then again to get into the statue. But not just regular security; you have to step into a machine that scans your body and then blows puffs of air onto you. This is to blow any explosives that might be on your person up into the fan above your head. Then you have to go through regular security (metal detectors, shoes off, etc.) Not only that, but you cannot bring any items into the monument so you have to rent a locker and you can only access the locker via electronic fingerprint identification! It is probably easier to sneak contraband into prison than it is to take a sippy cup into the Statue of Liberty.



After going through the museum and posing with the Face, we ascended the steps and discovered that you can no longer go up into the statue; you can only go as far as the base of the monument. This is as close as we were able to get:

This is the view from outside the observation deck. I do remember going up into the crown many years ago and asked the guy (park ranger? police officer?) how long it has been closed. Since 9/11. Of course. He explained that this is because it is too narrow in the top of the statue to evacuate people in case of emergency. Fair enough. But really, is this necessary? After going through all that crazy security, I am pretty sure that I am more likely to be blown-up on an airplane than I am of being blown-up in the statue.

After the statue, we went to Times Square for lunch and then to Toys R Us where we rode the giant ferris wheel. It was a great day.

I always ask my kids at the end of the day, "What was your Favorite Thing today?" Here are our Favorite Things about New York:
Mom - getting through the day without losing anyone and without a meltdown
8 year old - everything but especially the Statue of Liberty
6 year old - everything
4 year old - riding the train
2 year old - riding in the Buzz Light Year car on the ferris wheel

Truly, I would rather take 4 kids into Manhattan by myself than take them to the grocery store by myself.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What We Learn From Our Pets

"Molly"
created by my 6 year old daughter

Not only are our pets our faithful companions, but they also teach us about our world, through their life, and even in their death.

My children have learned so much from having dogs in their lives: the importance of being kind and gentle; why it is important to help those who cannot help themselves (dogs cannot feed themselves or get their own fresh water); the importance of exercise; sharing (my kids quickly learned that any unwanted food would be gobbled up by their 4-legged friends); patience; and care of others (feeding the dogs, letting them in/out, and taking them for walks). We have been blessed by our pets.

Even though losing a pet is a very sad experience, we have been able to learn about life through her death. What a sad day but also a remarkable day for us. Right away my girls noticed that Molly looked "weird" and wanted to know why. I was able to explain (and for the first time EVER I think they "got" it) that what makes us beautiful is what is on our insides, not on our outside. I explained that once Molly died, what made her beautiful to us, her spirit, left her body and made her body look and feel strange.

I learned about my children and their ability to cope and process grief. My oldest seemed completely unaffected by it all. As soon as we told her Molly was dead, she asked if we could get a new dog and she was very annoyed with me for crying over Molly. However, just before she went to bed last night, the questions started: could we have helped her live longer, is she meeting other dogs in heaven, is she a puppy again in heaven; is Lady (our other dog) going to die soon in the same way, etc. It was nice to finally be able to know what she was thinking and be able to talk it over with her.

My younger daughter seemed to take delight in announcing the news of Molly's death to her siblings. I don't think she was happy about it, I think she just didn't know how to handle the news. Then she went downstairs and created some art work of Molly (see picture) and wrote a letter to her. By the time she was finished with her "tribute" she was in tears. I learned that artwork is cathartic for her and that it helped her to tap into her feelings. (I was glad she was able to do this before she went to school or she would have "lost it" at some point during the school day.) She was sobbing and asked to see Molly one last time. (By this time I had her wrapped in a towel.) I asked if she was SURE she wanted to see her and she said yes. So we looked at her again, very briefly.

She was really sobbing and I knew I had to find a way to calm her down before she went to school so we all sat down and read the kid version of the 23rd Psalm. We had read it before, but this time I explained that sometimes people read it for comfort when they are upset. The kids listened as I read it and asked if Molly was in the green pastures and beside the still waters (she used to love to play in water). I know it is probably not what David intended when he wrote that Psalm, but they made a connection and I think it did bring them some comfort. We closed with a prayer, thanking God for so many good years with Molly and for giving her a peaceful death and I asked God to be with each of the kids during their school day, that they would be able to concentrate and learn and enjoy the company of their friends and that they would think of the happy times with Molly.

Mission accomplished. They all made it through the school day without crying. I however, cried most of the day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sad News


We woke up this morning to discover that our dear little Westie, Molly, died last night in her sleep. She has been ill for a while but was on medication that was improving her condition. I commented to my husband a few days ago that she just didn't "seem like herself" and he said that because she was sick, she may never be "herself" again.

I just didn't realize how sick she was.

I'm very sad. She was my baby before I had babies and she would have turned 13 in just 2 weeks.

I don't feel like blogging about New York today.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Stay Tuned

I decided to take all 4 kids into Manhattan tomorrow since there is no school (election day). I will meet up with my sister and nephew (who is 10 months old). I'm sure I'll have some stories and pics to share upon my return.

I keep wondering if I am crazy to do this and voiced my concern to my husband. His reply? "You'll find out the answer to that question by this time tomorrow!"

Friday, November 2, 2007

Infestation

OK, sorry to keep bringing up lice but it appears to be an ongoing problem at my children's school.

I just received an email from the principal that said Science Night is canceled in order to prevent further infestation AND from now on, children will put their backpacks and coats in plastic bags when they arrive at school to prevent the spread of lice. How bad is the infestation????

I read on the internet (and heard from a friend) that lice do not like the smell of Listerine so I have been spraying my daughter's head with Listerine every other day. She smells like a medicine cabinet and complains that this is embarrassing but it is better than getting lice AGAIN.

Having said that, I attended the 1st grade Halloween party the other day and guess what? One of the games was "Stick the Wart on the Witch" and required each kid to wear THE SAME BLINDFOLD! I started to panic and told my daughter YOU ARE NOT PLAYING THIS GAME and then I ran up to the 3rd grade classroom to make sure they were not playing a similar game because the lice started (for us) with my 3rd grader. Fortunately, there were no games in 3rd grade and my 1st grader was able to play the game by closing her eyes instead of wearing the blindfold. Obviously the mom who planned this game has not had a lice infestation in her home because if she had, she would have realized this game was a great way to spread lice.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Halloween!


My husband did a great job of carving pumpkins with the kids. If you click on the photo, you can get a better idea of how the jack-o-lanterns looked -- they turned out great! Note the small pumpkin to the left, he carved a bat as a tribute to our furry friend.

Trick-or-Treating was great fun for all:

The Skunk, Princess Presto, Bob the Builder . . .

and Dorothy with Toto!


The Day After


As soon as the kids finished breakfast, they immediately started eating and sorting candy. My theory on Halloween is this: let them eat the candy until its gone. Allowing them to eat x pieces each day only makes the torture (whining and begging) last for weeks. If I let them eat as much as they want, the candy will only last for about 3 days. By the way, the candy that is on the table is only about 3/4 of all the candy they received!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Get Off My Property!


This sign showed-up out in the alley behind my house about a month ago. My elderly neighbor who has been pleasant for the last 10 years, suddenly decided that she did not like children and their parents playing in her driveway. Nevermind that my car got the windshield broken by teens who were throwing ROCKS, she is concerned about toddlers and their toys. (Think about it: toddlers are out there being supervised by their parents; the teens are out there throwing rocks. Who should she be more concerned about?!)

It all started one night when there were 15 or 20 of us (about 6 adults and their kids) out in the alley. When cars drive through the alley, we have to move to the sides of the alley to let the cars pass. This seems reasonable. As it turns out, the car in question needed to turn into the elderly neighbor's parking space but couldn't because we were all standing there. As soon as we realized we were blocking the driveway, we moved. Well the woman who was driving (my neighbor's niece) was VERY ANGRY and the next day the sign went up.

I immediately went over to speak with my neighbor and indeed, she was unhappy about the above incident. But she was also very upset with another neighbor for a couple reasons which I won't get into here. Her reasons seemed silly to me, not something over which to start a property war.

Then my neighbor put up his own sign in retaliation:

I'm not sure if you can read it or not, but it says GET OFF MY PROPERTY! Pretty funny and just in time for Halloween.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kitchen Fun


Even though we have 10,000 toys, the boys find it more exciting to raid the kitchen cabinets and play with pots & pans! (No, those are NOT knives that he is wielding!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Parade


The Halloween Parade was great! The weather was crisp, but not too cold and it was dry in spite of a rainy forecast. We lined up on the sidewalk near the start of the parade -- what luck! The kids got TONS of candy! So much that they couldn't pick it up off the ground fast enough! They had a FABULOUS time and so did I. (Although I think I enjoyed it so much because it has been the first time in 8 years that all my children have been developmentally old enough to enjoy the parade without needing fed, burped, put to bed, etc. Therefore I also enjoyed the parade.)

Had to post this picture of the back of the "snunk" costume! Too cute! He found out he was a skunk yesterday at a Halloween party. He got lots of positive attention so now he is happy to be a "snunk".