Sunday, December 14, 2008

To the North Pole We Went!

That's right, didn't you know you can get there from Calera, Alabama, on a train? Well Geez! Get with the program! And it is incredibly convenient, being just 20 minutes from our house to the station.
So, last night, the four of us met up with Jack's friend Payton and her mom and dad, Leslie and Chris and we boarded the William Penn dining car on the Polar Express for a trip to the North Pole to visit Santa Claus! (That's visit #4 this season for those of you that are counting :)) Payton had taken the trip last year and had a great time and since we are always looking for special things to do during the holdiays to start some traditions down here, this seemed like a perfect chance!



We were all decked out in our pj's (except Daddy Scrooge) and at 5pm the whistle blew and we were off...it only takes 15 minutes from the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum to get there! And that's just enough time for the conductor to read aloud the entire book, by Chris Van Allsburg.



Just as the conductor finished, we were pulling into the North Pole and Santa's toyshop, where Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves were waiting outside waving to all of us among all the Christmas lights and trees and toys in front of the toy shop! In just minutes, two elves entered the William Penn and handed everyone a single silver sleigh bell (you'll need to read the story for the significance if you haven't already). And coincidently, one of the elves even looks very much like Mommy's friend Clydene who clowns at Children's Hospital - isn't that amazing!

Next, the big man himself, SANTA, came on board and greeted all the children, coming up the aisle and stopping at each table to take pictures and even sign your copy of The Polar Express, if you had it handy. It was VERY EXCITING for little boys and girls to see Santa again and we wondered (out loud) if he was going to give out candy!

Instead, it was even BETTER than candy - a chocolate chip cookie and chocolate milk (which Duke inhaled by the way). Jack gobbled up his cookie (and ate Daddy's), stopping in between bites to comment, "Grandma Grandpa's House? Cookie?" He apparently recalls one of the previous visits with Santa this season with happy memories.


Today's first words when Jack woke up were "train?, Santa?, cookie?"...yikes! Well worth it, but I hope holiday memories fade fast in January or it's going to be a long road to Christmas 2009!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Family Thanksgiving

I'm a few days late, but I had 224 pictures to edit so cut me some slack ok? We had a fantastic time this holiday at Grandma and Grandpa's in Tennessee. It was probably the most fun weekend we have all had together that I can remember.


Maybe it's because with us now having kids I really get what it's all about or maybe it's because there were 7 cousins that were more than happy to wear out my two children for the four days. Either way, this one goes in the memory books under Best Holidays!


The food was amazing as always, and extra special, Great Grandma Aurel was able to be there (and had baked plenty of cookies well in advance!) We celebrated Cory's (38), Kevin's (15) and Duke's (1st) birthdays and even Santa joined in the fun with a suprise visit on Friday night to hear what all the kids wanted for Christmas (even had an advance gift for everyone!)


For us, we started off a little leary about the 3 1/2 hour drive, but the boys pulled through great. (We even went the entire trip home without the DVD player on except for the last 30 minutes - shocking, I know!) I was not so sure how the sleeping arrangements would work out...figured we'd have Jack in our bed all weekend rather than on his mattress on the floor of our room, but was wrong on that one too...little guy slept on it on his own all weekend without a hitch and little brother had his cozy spot in the pack n play in the closet.


Of course, we weren't in a "routine" but I was glad for it. It was nice to have some fun and spoils, even if it means that now Jack associates "Maama and Paapa's House" with as many cookies and gumdrops he asks for and getting to stay up after bath and run around the living room like a crazy kid. But he also grasped the concept of "snuggle with Mommy?" and I love that!


We enjoyed spending time with everyone, just playing, eating, talking and being with one another. The only change for next year...Grandma has to sit and let us girls take over the kitchen! (Even if it means at the loss of some amazing food, I think we'll be able to manage!)


Enjoy a few pictures of our time together.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Duke Celebrates!



I can hardly believe it, my baby boy is 1 year old today! They say the first year flies by, this one was in warp speed. Maybe it's because with his big brother not that much bigger really that it's gone twice as fast as Jack's first year. Either way, I am both thankful for how wonderful it was while slightly saddened that it's really here. My baby is growing up and there is nothing I can do to delay it. I even overheard Cory talking to Duke tonight asking him if he could just stay this sweet and cute forever.



I should share in this blog all the memories I have of his first year, but I find it hard to do that without comparing it with his brother's and I really need to try and work on not doing that as much as it seems to happen. This sweet, wonderful baby has been everything a mother could want when she's not expecting another child so soon after the first. It's as if he knew the moment he arrived that he was here to bring absolute joy to us in everything he does. And although I remember thinking there was no way I could possibly love a second baby as much as I loved my first, I have discovered that it's not just possible, it's guaranteed.


So Baby Duke, Happy Birthday...and thank you for bringing us more joy, more love, more happiness, more hope, more smiles and more laughter than we ever believed was possible!








Saturday, November 15, 2008

Logan, The Sky Angel Cowboy

All I will preface this with is, have your kleenex handy, a fistfull.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's Your Book?

I'm posting this blog entry in honor of my youngest niece Victoria (on Cory's side), who is twice her advanced age of almost 9 (I think!) when it comes to personality.

She quizzed me a few weeks ago with this question:

"If you could be a book, what book would you be?"

Pretty thoughtful in my opinion...so which is it for you? Post a comment...would love to hear.

I know my choice changes often when I ponder this but lately I've been thinking, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Just the thought of being to walk into a closet and enter another world has some kind of appeal to me lately :).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Humor Needed

I must preface the following by saying that Cory continues to be a GREAT Daddy and helper to me in all things home related, however, I just had to post this for all Mother's everywhere!

_______________________________________________

THE NEXT SURVIVOR SERIES

Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, and complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of 'pretend' bills with not enough money.

In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives, and send cards out on time--no emailing.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment.

He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care.

He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times.

The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, adorn himself with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep fingernails polished and eyebrows groomed.

During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.

They will need to read a book to the kids each night and in the morning, feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 7:00 am.

A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information:
each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size, doctor's name
each child's weight, length and time of birth and length of labor
each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they grow up.

The kids vote them off the island based on performance.

The last man wins only if...he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice.

If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years eventually earning the right,

To be called Mother!


After you get done laughing, send this to as many females as you think will get a kick out of it and as many men as you think can handle it.

Just don't send it back to me.... I'm going to bed!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Life Snippets

Over the past few weeks although things have been crazy, I have managed to grab the camera here and there to record a few of the funnier moments in our days.

Enjoy what we've been laughing about, including:


  • Duke's short stint of crawling has moved up a notch (gotta keep up with big brother you know!)


  • Fun times with 0ur new ball pit since the blow up Dora version sprouted a hole and deflated, framed with Jack's favorite two words, "Elmo and Zoe!" and Duke's new game for Jack, "you bring 'em, I'll toss 'em".


  • The Elephant Chronicles. How "Daddy does it Best" and how quick Duke is picking up on EVERYTHING!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween, Fun but Missed Home Today!

Ok, so I miss being home around my sisters on days like this. I admit it. Growing up in a neighborhood where Halloween is a BIG deal and now living in the country is hard for me. I have so many fond memories of "trick or treat"ing in the old neighborhood and handing out candy when the ghouls and goblins knocked on the front door of our house; it being dark out and pumpkins lit all over with candles. I always looked forward to someday having kids all come to my house and handing out candy, but since living in the apartment in Birmingham when we first moved here 11 years ago, we haven't had trick or treaters (and one of those 2 years in the apartments Cory refused to let me hand out candy, "just turn off the lights, we don't need to have all those people seeing in our place." I love him but sometimes he can be a scrooge!) I know it's not the same for Cory, since he grew up in a similar setting as we live now. So, I guess we've got to make our own memories here.
I'm working on it. I've got friends that live in neighborhoods, and someday when the boys are older, we'll probably head over to one of their houses for a party and door to door fun. For now, since the boys are so young, we're just doing the dress up thing and participating in the school party. And we had a great day at it.
Jack was a trooper from the start, loudly proclaiming this morning, PARTY! (He has a GREAT memory, so watch what you say or promise when you see him!) He happily dressed up as a cowboy and Daddy taught him to take his hat off and say "Howdy Tex!" And Daddy also saved the day by finding a horse costume at Wal-mart last night on his way home from north Alabama. It was only a 3-6 mos size but scissors can do wonders and it worked perfectly. They were TOO CUTE!
In the afternoon I headed back to school for the afternoon party in Jack's room. He wore his hat and holster all day, which shocked me...I was certain the novelty would wear off just as the party would start. We got a few cute pics, as evidenced below. And most fun for me, was stopping at Publix for a few things on the way home and getting lots of smiles and "they are soooo cute!", "what clever costumes!" from strangers...I like showing them off occassionally after all!
So all in all, it was a great day. And Jack even got to top it off with his first sucker. Well, I say it was his first, the first I've ever given him and I generally feel that most of the time I'm the one giving him most of his "firsts"...interesting that when I did he loudly proclaimed "SUCKER!"....hmmm, how's that work?


All dressed up and ready to go!




Not so keen on getting our pic taken by Aunt Kay at school.



Short lived meltdown. Somebody wanted his snack...NOW!

(Jack, Ms. Amy, Sam, Ellis, Braedon, Madison, Ali, Erin, Ms. Missy)



How cute is this horsey?!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just a Warning!

I know, I know you all have kids and have gone through it...but, I'm sending out an early warning since we are headed to both Tennessee for Thanksgiving and Wisconsin for Christmas...we have entered the Terrible Two's.

We love Jack, we just don't love the being that occaissionally overcomes our sweet, tenderhearted child. And lately, that being has been making an appearance on a more regular basis.

We have stepped up the discipline, and although we feel we have been consistent in our parenting "techniques" and he has been getting the "benefit" of regular time-outs in his chair in his room (and in the hallway at daycare among other places), we still have some learning going on - both on his part and ours as we muddle through the method. He reacts quite well when told he must calm himself down before he can come out. And although he always ends his fits with, "All done crying, I sorry", which is quite endearing, we are both slowly learning this "baby" is a lot smarter than what we have been giving him credit for.

However, do not be dissuaded. He is definitely a toddler, and a stubborn one at that. He can still drive us both to the edge of our nerves and we are not perfect parents. So please be prepared for some awkward moments as we all get together over these next few months. We are figuring out day by day what works to quell the fits, but each day brings a new challenge.

Today for instance, his teacher shared that he would not sit in his chair when directed to do so for lunch. Nothing new for him, he just didn't want to. So, after a few attempts to get him to respond, he was put in time out, sitting in a chair facing a wall. And, true to form, he began to kick the wall. His teacher told him to stop, he did not, she told him a second time, he did not. She moved him further from the wall so he could not kick it. He pointed his toes as far as he could toward the wall and looked straight at her and smiled. Reminded me to share with his teacher that at 15 mos, when his teachers told him to "stay on the carpet" (a common instruction for the kids to remain in a certain play area in the room), he would walk right up, his toes just touching the end of the carpet/start of the linoleum, look up at them and smile as if saying "C'mon, say it again and I'm gone!" Let me just say, he does not get this from his mother.

And for the final blow for me today, with Daddy on a trip since Monday and after a few long nights with Duke up with a cold and ear infection, he decided that he could not walk out of daycare but rather must throw himself on the ground and scream to be carried. Needless to say, since I cannot possibly carry both children at one time, and there is only one me and I cannot very well leave one child in the car to go back and get another or some parent would probably call Child Protective Services on me, I had to figure out how to coax him from a flailing, kicking, screaming fit out of the building and into the car.

After 30 minutes of ignoring, walking away, and other such attempts, I was finally rescued by one of the staff who offered to take Duke with her to the front desk while I calmly (but wanting to pop him like you wouldn't believe!) picked up Jack, buckled him in his seat in the car, gave a quick recap on why he would not be watching any DVD on the way home as he screamed now for Elmo, and went back, got Duke and drove the lovely rest of the 45 minutes home. Suprisingly, he whined for Elmo for only another 5 minutes before he got the point, it wasn't going to work. And then, an angel the rest of the night. Hmmmm...consistency works, it's just not working fast enough for me and Daddy!

So, consider yourself forewarned.

You can stop laughing now.

(And trust us, a popping will happen eventually, we just can't see how he would make the connection quite yet :P)

See you all soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Know, It's SCARY!




I am blessed to get lots of compliments about how cute my kids are. And when Jack was a baby, it was always that he looked so much like Cory, but as he got older, more and more I heard, he looks JUST LIKE YOU! Then when Duke arrived, oh yes, "Duke is all Cory but Jack is all you".

Well folks I hate to disappoint. But they are BOTH all Cory. I have found proof...

Here's Cory at 6 mos I believe...all Duke, right?





And here's Cory at his 2nd Birthday...I KNOW!...How can that be the same kid??




So, still think Jack is all me...?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Current Obsessions

Oh I bet there are those of you out there that have the same and won't admit to them!

  • Facebook - ok, so my sister in law Natalie mentions it while on their visit this summer and a few months later I now not only am on it just about every night, I've downloaded the application to my blackberry!

  • Rifling through all the outgrown (or never worn) clothes, toys and baby stuff and selling it via Craig's List and ebay - Hey, every penny counts!

  • Fox News, I just cannot watch network news during these last days running up to a presidential election. Sorry, but I have yet to see anything fair and balanced out of NBC. At least Hannity has Colmes. And did Dick Morris switch parties and I missed it?

  • Updating the photo albums. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but at least I bought matching ones to make it through both boys first 3 years (at least Duke's, poor 2nd kid, I need to take another 500 photos just to catch up to "Jack, Year 1")

  • Emptying my work e-mail. (Never going to happen, but I'm still obsessing about it at 10:20pm, what does that tell you?)

  • Thinking of what other things we have around that I can sell on Craig's List or ebay (see second point above :))

  • Avoiding our statements from Edwards Jones (or American Funds, Fidelity, put your 401(k) or IRA managing firm here)

Smile...it's Monday, the weekend is only 4 days away!!

Oh, and the Pillsbury Flaky Twists...YUMMY when you don't have a real bakery within 1 hour of your home. Crullers would be heaven, but these will work in a pinch!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Trying to Keep Up...

Little brother is working his hardest to keep up with big Jack!



And big Jack suprised Mommy tonite...he pointed to some letters on the back of one of his books and started saying his ABC's!!! So Mommy started singing the alphabet song and Jack chimed right in, all the way to G! And just last night he pointed to a picture of a birthday cake in one of his books and started to sing "Happy to you!"

Some days just take my breath away!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pssst....

So, always one to give my consumer opinions, I joined up through an invite from General Mills for a program called Pssst... Essentially I am a home test marketer for new products they introduce. When they have something new, they mail me coupons to give to friends, e-mail an electronic coupon to share with friends don't live nearby and give me a coupon to try the product free. Then they follow up with a survey to see if I tried the product and if I did, what I think about it. Not a bad deal really, I get to try something free and my friends get a decent coupon (this product here is a $1.00 off). So what if I'm shamefully filling my blog with an occaisional advertisement :)



So, this first product are Pillsbury Flaky Twist with Chocolate Icing (perfect for a weekend when Daddy is NOT home)! I already found them at the store and got my free one, and if you'd like the coupon for $1.00 off, let me know, I've already e-mailed it to some of you, and passed out a few too!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Finally!

Ok, hopefully this will satisfy some of you for a bit since I've been so neglectful in sharing pictures! Stay tuned for video posts coming soon!

We had just seen Elmo Makes Music with Grandma and got this cute pic!

I just love this one of Duke, he is such a sweetheart!


Let me just say, this was snapped SECONDS prior to both hands plunging into the birdbath...shocking, I know!




Thanks for the break Grandma! California was too short, but wonderful!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Big Read

Well, I'm stealing the idea for this post from my sister-in-law Natalie. There is a lot you can search on the details all over the net but what I found neat was the list. It is assumed that the average adult has read only 6 of the top 100 books. I fared pretty good - fully 1/4th of the list I've read. How about you?

The Rules:
1) Look at the list and put one * by those you have read.
2) Put a % by those you intend to read.
3) Put two ** by the books you LOVE.
4) Put # by the books you HATE. (I didn't do this, it's such a strong word!)

** 1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (Natalie, you hooked me! Without you I wouldn’t have picked it up!)
% 2 The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
% 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
% 4 Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (I’ve read one or two)
** 5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
*% 6 The Bible (Still working on it!)
% 7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
* 8 1984 - George Orwell (Thanks to 9th Grade English)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
% 10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
** 11 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
% 13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
% 16 The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (well I have started it )
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
% 18 Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
% 21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
% 22 The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
% 24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams -
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh -
* 27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
% 28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
% 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (My grandmother had “Through the Looking Glass” which was a bizarre sequel which I read)
** 30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
% 31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
** 33 Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis (FAVORITE as a kid!)
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
** 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis – (FAVORITE as a kid!)
** 37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernières -
** 39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
** 40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
* 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell (Again, thanks to high school English)
* 42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
% 46 Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
% 49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
% 50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
% 51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
% 54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
** 61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
** 64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
% 65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
% 66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
* 68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
% 70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (I need to read this since I loved Ahab’s Wife and should read it for reference for AW, probably would have gotten more from it)
* 71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Émile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - A.S. Byatt
** 81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
** 87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
** 88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (If you haven’t read this, DO!)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery - in French
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
** 94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (Made me cry!!!!!)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
** 98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
** 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
** 100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Update - Mouse Caught...or rather MICE!

Yep, got the sucker, and two of his friends in the garage. Haven't seen anymore since Friday, so looks like we are in the clear for a bit. Things have been crazy here...my trip to Pittsburgh last Thursday was a welcome break, but I loved coming home to my FAMILY! (I will admit though it was nice to have a whole day of just adult conversation, and the ability to get back in front of a meeting was pretty powerful too!)

Other than that, trying to make it through the end of the month business and bills and plan for a quick quick quick getaway for Cory and I to Huntington Beach, CA for a wedding. We leave Sunday and return Tuesday, sans children (thank you Grandma and Grandpa!) and will relish every second of it, even if the majority of it will be spent in airplanes and airports!

Will update more next week when I catch another breath!

p.s. Panera Bread sent me a $6.00 gift coupon, so hey, it will buy me a bagel and a coffee!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Received a Response, but Mouse Still on the Loose!

My week is already looking up...

From: Sam Sam.ContactUs@panerabread.com
To: sarah.rath@yahoo.com
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2008 11:47:34 AM
Subject: RE: Contact Us [Topic: My experience at Panera Bread]

Dear Sarah,
Thank you for contacting Panera Bread regarding our product availability and your recent experiences trying to buy bagels at our Birmingham, AL bakery-cafe (#790). We are truly sorry you had such a terrible 24 hours.

We carefully plan our baking needs using historical sales data and operational experience. On unusually busy days, we may run out of certain products in the afternoon or before the end of the evening; however, this early in the morning is very unusual.

We apologize for any inconvenience and disappointment this caused you. I have forwarded your comments to the District Manager and to the bakery-cafe for review and follow-up there.

Thank you for your feedback. It will help us to improve our service.If you will Reply e-mail your home postal mailing address, I will be happy to send you a certificate so that you may have a treat on us. Please allow approximately two weeks for delivery.

We work very hard to create and maintain a great experience for our customers. We enthusiastically invite you to visit us again in the future and give us another opportunity to serve you.

Sincerely,
Sam
Customer Comment Coordinator

Friday, September 12, 2008

TGIF!

Usually it's the start of the week that is the nightmare. For me, my nightmare began on Wednesday when I walked into the office and our entire network was down. I would elaborate, but it would be more fun to let you read what I wrote to Panera Bread Company's "Contact Us" page which invites you to participate with the following:

We'd love to have your feedback. Drop us a line. Fill us in. Tell us about your latest visit to your neighborhood Panera Bread bakery-cafe. Or maybe you have a question for us. Whatever the reason, use this form to let us know what's on your mind.

They may have wanted to be less inviting...


From: sarah.rath@yahoo.com
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 9:54 AM
To: ContactUs
Subject: Contact Us [Topic: My experience at Panera Bread]
Topic: My experience at Panera Bread

This morning, as I drove into work after dropping my 9 mo old and 2 year old boys at daycare I thought, what could be better than treating myself to a few bagels to share with the office and a nice latte at Panera. It's not right on my route, but heck after the long sleepless night I'd had, I'd make the exception and drive the extra few miles out of my way for that treat.

After all, my husband and father of the two children I'd given birth to in under two years, just left yesterday for another week long business trip in Texas. I had a very long day at the office after walking in to be faced with our entire network down and so spent the first 6 hours with a co-worker trying to find the reason and a solution. By the time I was able to get back to my normal workload, I had only a bit of time before it was time to dash back out, pick up the kids, drive home, rush dinner, get both kids bathed and to bed, get the house in order, pay some bills, write some correspondence, do a little blogging, watch a little Leno and hopefully fall gently asleep and be refreshed in the morning.

Unfortunately, that did not seem to be the case, as I awoke 30 minutes later to a strange noise in the house. It turns out a mouse had found its way into my kids bathtub...which I discovered around midnight when I heard something scurrying around and got up and turned on the light in the bathroom and saw a flash of brown fur and a VERY LONG TAIL bouncing up and down in the tub. Not a big fan of mice, I managed to throw a trap in the bathtub from 5 feet away and stuff a towel under the door before diving back into bed and listening for at least another hour to the little critter scamper around before drifting off until 4am when I awoke to hear what sounded like him finding his way into the wall between my bed and the bathroom. When I finally climbed out of bed at 6 and removed the now chewed on towel from below the door, and cleaned the tub with bleach and reset the trap and placed in the cabinet under the sink where I think it made it's escape (for now) and got myself show ered and clothed, the kids up, diapers changed, clothes on, breakfast fed, and in the car and on our way, I thought, yep, after the past 24 hours I'd had...bagels would be just the thing to put a smile on my face.

At 8:30am I walked in, stood in line for 5 minutes picking out the bagels from the bins I would get for my 1/2 dozen and when it was my turn to order I was told..."I'm sorry we aren't taking any more bagel orders today, we already have too many to fill."

Are you kidding me? At 8:30 am on a Thursday, there are no more bagels? How does a bakery/café which can't possibly have been open for more than a couple of hours already be out of bagels for the morning??? Thanks for extending my miserable last 24 hours for another few.

Sincerely,
Sarah Rath

I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Oh, and I still haven't gotten the mouse. He's somewhere in these walls and woe to him if he decides to make another appearance.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

WATCH OUT FOR MORE LATER THIS WEEK

Just popping in to say I will be back later this week with pictures and to report on all that's happening in our busy life...

  • Jack had a fabulous 2nd birthday! His cast is off and he is back to his usual fearless lifestyle. Elmo rules the roost, although Cookie Monster and Oscar are battling it out for a close second. Thanks for all the cards and gifts, thank yous are in the works, but may be a bit to get in the actual mail!
  • Both boys had their latest well checks and both are in the 50/50 ranges. Duke came in at 9 mos just 1/2" longer and 2 1/2 lbs heavier than his brother at the same age. Now that
  • Jack's cast is off, life is GOOD again. He actually broke a bone in the top of his foot...toddler fractures is what they are called. Either way, the boy got the bath of his lifetime that night and is happily practicing his "swimming" moves from our lessons this summer in the tub "kick kick kick" and blowing lots of bubbles.
  • The pond is DONE! Well, mostly...let's just say the last of the dirt has been moved out and all that needs to finish it off is the grading and grass seed on the dam, but I'll take this over having Daddy working on it every waking moment when he does happen to be home. (Unfortunately, it got done yesterday, the day before he left for a week long trip...) But he gave me a break Monday night and I snuck out after getting the kids home for dinner with friends, so I will cut him a very little bit of slack! :)

So on that note, stay tuned. Didn't want to go slacking but need to spend a little time tonite zoning out rather than working on a computer (which is what most of my life at work these days is dedicated to!)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Real Life

Now that I have some "me" time each day since the kids are now basically on the same schedule, I've begun to regroup and reorganize. Since we moved into this house when Jack was only 3 months old, I really haven't had much of a chance in these past two years to have time to breathe much less get things around here organized. So for the past few weekends, bit by bit, I've tackled a few tasks.

In doing so, today I found message notes from a message series back in October that Pastor Chris did called "Real Life". I remember enjoying it (obviously since, I kept a few of the note handouts) but after reading them again I realize there are probably many others out there that might also benefit from my sharing them. It seems for Cory and I each year around this time we get into a little "funk" in our marriage. Nothing major, but as summer and the freedom it brings ends, and work gets into crunch time gearing toward putting up good numbers come year-end and all the craziness the last few months before the holidays (and nearly every birthday for our families!) bring, I find us both needing sometime to refocus on our relationship - not just as husband and wife, but as Mommy and Daddy, best friends and even our own identities as Cory and Sarah.

So, with that in mind, here's just an outline of the message notes I took, I hope they give someone I love a lesson for constructive study and help to heal and strengthen some relationships. I've also included some scripture references for those I particularly liked, if you are so inclined to look them up and see exactly what the bible reads on each. The theme that Chris used for the whole series was the Song of Soloman. Of course, you can also listen to the actual messages online at the church website, the link is on the right of this page.

Til Death Do Us Part
The Power of Commitment - (Proverbs 20:25) "It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows."
  • My commitments show my values.
  • My commitments shape my life.
  • My commitments determine my destiny.

Anything worth having costs - EXPECT IT TO BE HARD!

  • Pay the price. Decide to pay for it up front.
  • Give your best. Think about what you can do today to add value to your relationships!
  • Live by principle, not by pressure.
  • Guard your eyes.
  • Keep Christ first - it all begins with God.

Commitment matters when things are tough not when all is well and good.

Trouble in Paradise - When trouble does hit!

Work it Out

  • Resolve it as soon as possible. (Ephesians 4:26)
  • Seek first to understand. Force yourself to state the other person's issue. It forces you to understand what's upsetting to them. (Proverbs 18:13, this is one I have to work on!)
  • Guard your tongue.
  • Fight the real enemy.

There are four things that infect a relationship: Withdrawl, Escalation, Belittling, False Beliefs.

The following is the best and most simple process I have ever come across to heal a realtionship - but it is easier said than done unless both parties will believe and put it in their heart to follow it.

First, Forgive. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Second, Accept - unconditionally, reach out and bring the other in. (Romans 15:5-7)

Third, Serve - do small things for the other that does nothing for yourself (Philippians 2:3-5)

Fourth, Encourage - intentionally look for something to build someone else up (and make it genuine!) (Ephesians 4:29)

Finally, Submit - to one another. (Ephesians 5:21)

If I have learned anything in the past 5 years it's that I do not need to have control. If I trust and believe in God and what he wants for me, I will be rewarded in everything I do. I am on his timeline, not my own and the more I try and control whatever I am facing on my own, the longer he will wait to step in and resolve my struggle. I know, I'm not the same old Sarah and we are all happier for it!

Love you all!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

GET SOME DISCIPLINE!

Ok, I know that I am NOT the best disciplined Mom on the planet. I cringe every time I "ask" Jack what he wants for breakfast, rather than just giving him two choices or putting it in front of him. We are not "No TV under 2" parents. Jack laughs at me each and every time I attempt giving him a time out. But I have to draw the line...what kind of people do they pick to be on SuperNanny? Does the application read,

"Do your kids walk all over you?"

If the answer is YES, you are our next spotlight family!!

Tonite, flipping through the channels as I filed away the month's paid bills (always a treat), I settled on seeing what the British Chick was facing with the latest family crisis in discipline. To my suprise (not really since the show seems to be "same thing, different day" for the most part), here is a 4/5 YEAR OLD they are trying to convince to get rid of her pacifier!

Now mind you, Jack was a paci baby, he cried, paci was there, at least up until he was a year old. Then it went to naps/night only. With Duke I've managed to be a "paci negligent" parent, meaning, no paci there when he cries, it's always been naps and night only. I do dread the paci breaking we will have to someday face, and would like to do it with Jack soon and probably should, but we've had the broken leg and since I do not have the dual bedtime routine together yet and I sometimes resort to stuffing that bedtime paci in Duke's mouth just a bit before he hits the crib I cannot imagine the anxiety it would create for Jack and just can't do that to him yet.

HOWEVER, this child was walking around all day at 4/5 years old with a pacifier. I am sorry that is just WRONG. And what did it take to get rid of it....they did a paci search of the house and everyone found all the pacis (like 10 of them) and put them in a bucket and the little girl threw them all out herself and that was it.

The real clincher to the show was the parents allowed their children to stay up until 10/11 at night (I think the three girls were around 10/7/4) and then when the middle child woke in the middle of the night she crawled into bed with her! Another sticking point with me. First, 10/11:00 is the parents bedtime, kids should be a minimum of 2-3 hours earlier for sanity sake and secondly, unless you are a breastfeeding mother of an infant, a child who is quite sick or on vacation in a hotel that your are trying to save money from renting two rooms - a bed is for sleeping...alone or with your married spouse!

So anyway, the show was again dedicated to fixing problems of parents that have no spine to begin with. How about us that have the backbone but 1/2 the time to enforce it!! Ok, so maybe I missed that episode...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

PICS OF THE WEEK

I haven't put many pics up lately so I thought I'd share a few off the camera from this past week. And as an update the next month holds for us several exciting things -


Tropical Storm Fay came on through this weekend and has dumped quite a bit of all day rain on us so far, expecting more, which is not a good thing since we are still trying to finish up the lake. Today it's been sunny and windy so hopefully the path has altered and things will dry out by the weekend since we only have a few days of work left and we can be done! Then we'll just need another one to come on through and fill it up!


Jack's cast comes off on Thursday, and pending any abnormalities on the xrays, he will be able to have a real bath for the first time in almost a month!


Work has been 100 miles a minute, but I am bound and determined to make this week a record for getting things cleared off so I'm able to unload some of that stress. I have done virtually no travel since Jack's been born, but on the 18th I head up to Pittsburgh for the day for a meeting at Dick's Sporting Goods and Daddy will brave his first full day alone with both boys. Actually, they will be at daycare, but he will have all morning, dinner and bedtime on his own. I have no doubt he can do it, but it will be good for me to get out of the way and let him :)


At the end of the month, a close work friend (Congrats Minoru & Shiori!!) is getting married in Huntington Beach, CA, so Grandma Ruth has arranged to take a few days and come down so Cory and I can fly out to attend. It's a Monday wedding, special circumstances based on the fact that 50% of the wedding party are professional fisherman that have tournaments every weekend, so we are only going Sunday-Tuesday, but either way, will be a nice break for us to be together!



Finally, the boys have managed for the past few weekends to coordinate napping at the same time so I have actually had a little "me" time in the afternoons which has been amazing! Praying that continues!


We just wrapped up one of the best message series at Church of the Highlands as well today, so if you listened to last weeks message online, you will definitely want to listen to the final! It was POWERFUL again! It's too early for me to post the link here, but just go to the website on my Favorites on this page and click on Multimedia - Current Series. It should be uploaded by sometime tomorrow.


Duke transitioned a few weeks ago to a new room at daycare, but we had to highlight this pic of him with his "Aunt Kay". She took care of Jack as well in his first 6 months at Odyssey Early School and we LOVE HER!







While trying to find some "other" things to occupy us while Jack recouperates from his break, one of Cory's prostaff and his wife are nursing a fawn who lost it's mother. Since Jack's very first word was "deer" (shocking I know), we thought it would be fun for him to get up close to one. We've been able to watch them from the house on occaision as they wander along the fenceline behind the house, but this was WAAAAY more exciting.







Many of you probably remember when we first moved here, my comments about the size of the "bugs" as compared to what I'd experienced in Wisconsin. Well, over the past several weeks, we have had a visitor on our patio...a Black & Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope auranta. At first, well as per usual I FREAKED OUT as this is not just a normal sized spider, as you might be able to tell based on the comparison to the TV remote sitting near the top of the picture. This "little" fella measures about 4" long. But after getting online and reading that it eats a LOT of BUGS, and since we couldn't really make use of the patio while Jack was recouping, since his favorite thing to do is run through the sprinkler, and his cast cannot get wet, I figured I'd let the guest clean out the yard of all the pesky flying critters he could. Friday however, Cory and I decided to grill some steaks after the kids were in bed, so Mr. Argiope auranta now resides somewhere in the back woods where Cory re-located him. (Call us "green" we figured having him and some of his friends around is better than spraying pesticides all over long as they aren't right outside my backdoor!)





Thought I'd save the best for last! We broke out the ball pit on Saturday, since the rain kept us all inside. Duke is obsessed with balls these days, and Jack enjoyed throwing them all out of the pit (still working on putting them back!) Was also a good opportunity to teach some additional lessons on sharing with Duke, which has not been a strong point now that Duke is mobile and can get to just about any of Jack's toys that he wants too!



Saturday, August 23, 2008

THE TWO'S HAVE BEGUN???

I have a sneaking suspicion those terrible two's are sneaking ever so faintly into my little Jack's personality. Now, it's really nothing THAT terrible. He's just realized that he can start using his words enough to let me know what he wants and that's a powerful thing in his world. This week, it seems that "french toast" is the favorite. And after a long 30 minutes Tuesday morning of trying to convince me that he really should be able to eat his breakfast on the couch vs. at the table, I am discovering my little bugger is a little smarter than I had previously given him credit for. (I won that battle of wills by the way, however he did eat french toast for 4 out of 5 breakfasts this week and as a snack before bath/bed one night. You have to know which battles to fight and which to concede :))

So on that note, the September issue of Parents magazine had a "Memo to Mommy" that I thought very appropriate based on our world these days:
  • Love me, even when I'm naughty. I'll only be this age once.
  • Be pateint, I do everything for a reason, but I don't know enough words yet to give you an explanation.
  • Stop freaking out about the mess! There's always time to clean-but how often do we get to make mud pies? (I'm actually pretty laid back with respect to this one already!)
  • Let me do it. I know you can do it faster and better but sometimes experience is the best teacher. (Want to guess how long it can take for a 2 year old to buckle his own car seat when you are already running late for work/church/grocery shopping?)
  • Don't expect too much of me. I want to do what you ask and make you happy, but I'm still little.
  • Keep your promises. It's all about trust. When I'm a teenager, you'll understand why it's so important. (Note to self, think hard about what you OFFER to let him do before you offer it!!!)
  • Don't try to reason with me when I'm having a tantrum. Trust me-I can't hear you over my own screaming.
  • Don't keep asking me if I've been good. I'm not even sure what that means, but if I was bad I'd never admit it!
  • Don't let me think that you're perfect. I feel a lot better knowing I'm not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes.
  • Set limits. I can't actually eat a whole box of cookies - I just want to see if I'd get away with it.

I've got this taped to the bulletin board on the way out the door - serves as a great reminder everyday!

And, not to forget little Duke...he's had a big two weeks! Last week he started crawling - everywhere - at 100 miles an hour. Jack's getting a big kick out of this, except now Duke can actually grab any of Jack's toys no matter where he thinks they are out of reach! And this week, it's all table foods and no bottle - just taking his formula out of a straw cup. So HOORAY for us! Very few separate meals/feedings now and as soon as Jack is out of the cast this Thursday it's back to dual bathtime too! (And boy, does he need one! Phew!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

thoughts of mine...

I know pictures are the best, but I'm worn out on editing lately (and I know I need to get some sent to some of you afar via Walgreen's) and so I thought I'd blog tonite on a few things these past couple of weeks that have been on my mind. I'd also share some of Cory's thoughts, but right now I think the majority of them surround the continued digging of a ginormous hole and piles of dirt on our property (time for completion and costs are already somewhat past the estimates, though we do have hopes to finish this week), so I'll just leave it up to him to ask me for the password to blog himself here sometime.


A few weeks ago as I was fumbling through my Favorites I have saved from the web, I came across the website of a company I had bought a few framed "quips"from at the Starving Artists Fair in Racine when we lived there. I have three pieces in very cute frames, first, Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much", "Living without Laughing isn't Living", and my favorite and one I try to keep in mind a lot these days, "Simplify". I love these little sayings, but I also remembered that at the time, the booth I bought them from offered the ability to buy other vellum inserts to change out the quips and thought I'd just check out if the company still existed, and to my suprise, they did - and boy have they grown!


Kindred Hearts, http://www.kindredhearts.com/, is a family company with a great story - they started from a hobby in their basement in Plainfield, IL, just outside of Chicago. Eventually they sold and turned to other interests, including I believe some missions work overseas. However, they missed their passion and returned to take things over again and have grown into quite an operation with two warehouses and products placed in Hallmark stores all over the country! On a whim, after a long day with Jack's broken leg episode, I just wrote a quick note to the company after reading their "About Us" statement and told them how much I enjoyed the three little frames I had bought at that fair so many years ago - and certainly based on their timeline, from the first beginnings of their company along with a couple of "prospects" for them in Birmingham that I thought might be interested in carrying their products. A day later I received a very sweet e-mail thanking me for my comments which was a nice personal touch. I guess working in the industry I do, with such customers such as Bass Pro, Cabela's and Dick's that seem to mystify so many people at our interations with companies on such a large scale, that I like to "connect" with some of the places I choose to buy products from.


Anyway, to my absolute suprise, later that week a package came to the office for me from them...and I was just shocked! It's a beautiful 14"x 28" framed print with a shadow script in the backround of the word kindness...with the following quote:

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered...Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives...Be kind anyway.
If you are honest people my cheat you...Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous...Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow...Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough...Give yor best anyway.
For in the end it is between you & God. It never was between you and them anyway.
- Mother Teresa



This wonderful and unexpected gift is proudly displayed in my bedroom above the dresser where I can see it each morning. Thanks to the Kindred Hearts family!



I admit it - I was OBSESSED with the swimming events this past week of the Olympics! I don't think I managed to get to bed a single night before 11pm (not the smartest move for a mom of 2 under 2). And although I do admit to be fascinated by Michael Phleps and his accomplishments, the real draw was that I have such fond memories of watching the Olympics over the years. I remember being glued to the TV during the Kerri Scruggs vault and Nancy Kerrigan's leg bashing and really, going all the way back to 1984, just before the start of 8th grade when my family took a well deserved and long time coming family vacation to Door County, Wisconsin.


One of my favorite memories of these summer games however will be the Opening Ceremonies. We were relaxing after dinner and before bathtime when they started. I didn't really hear any hype leading up to the event itself, but from the very start I was in awe - and so was JACK! He stopped playing and just sat quiet and open mouthed at the TV watching the amazing lights and drums, synchronized movements. We try not to do a lot of TV around here, especially before bedtime, but I could see he was completely focused at what he was seeing and soaking it all in. If you've seen any part of it, you'll know what I'm speaking to, it was probably the most amazing performance at an Olympic event I have ever witnessed. And although watching the spectacular show was awesome for me, but the most awesome part was seeing the amazement in his eyes! I can't barely wait for the closing ceremonies!



Finally, for those that have seen my previous posts on our church - Church of the Highlands - this week was another message in the Encounter series and it was POWERFUL! If you have a chance, please listen online to the message...my favorite point taken "Faith is your Attitude". Take a minute and listen to what it means to have an attitude of faith in whatever you do and how it can free you from whatever it is that is holding you back from giving your life amazing freedom from your burdens. I know so many of you would benefit from living this attitude (me included!)


http://www.churchofthehighlands.com/messages/2008/08-17-08

Thursday, August 14, 2008

TRUE Friendship

A wonderful friend of mine sent this to me this week, and I just had to share it... Thanks Crystal, I promise we will do Starbucks again SOON!

True Friendship
When you are sad --I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spider monkey jacked up on Mountain Dew!!
When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
When you smile -- I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.
When you're scared -- we will high tail it out of there.
When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining, ya big baby!
When you are confused -- I will use little words.
When you are sick --Stay away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
When you fall -- I'll pick you up and dust you off----------After I laugh my butt off!!
This is my oath...I pledge it to the end. 'Why?' you may ask -- because you are my FRIEND!
Friendship is like peeing your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Our Little Lame Duck

Here he is...

...and he's doing just fine. I'm actually amazed at how quickly he learned how to walk and balance on the cast and walking boot. We ended up at the pediatric orthopedic doctor yesterday late afternoon where they took more x-rays (not fun) and Dr. Mayberry concluded that the film just wasn't very conclusive. But because he was still limping when he tried to walk without the splint and acting as if there was pain or tenderness, she wanted to err on the side of caution and put on a walking cast for 3 weeks. (Note: when asked what color he'd like, I told the Doctor nothing but camo would make Daddy happy, and guess what, they make camo!) So on August 28th we go back, take it off, take more film and if she sees healing bone, we'll know there was a break, and if not, we haven't lost anything in the process. If it is confirmed there was a fracture, I don't know if he'll be in it for another few weeks or if that's it...but I'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
For now, we get sponge baths, no playing in the sandbox or mulch play area (can't get any in his open toe), swimming lessons are over with and it's going to be a few very inventive Saturdays for Mommy (thinking good time for haircuts, shopping, maybe we'll spend a day at the zoo...)
Today he was back at school, playing and happy and glad to be back in his element. The teacher's have been briefed and have actually had a child at 1 year old with a cast too, so they've experienced this before. My main fear today was of him getting around too many kids at once and having someone fall on him. But Kasey and Beckee assured me they will be extra watchful. And after going to school today for his "graduation" party, and watching him with the kids myself, I feel even better about everything. He moving to a new room on Thursday with two new teachers, and I am confident they will be great too.
So...Burgess Sisters...we got to be the first, but I have a feeling this will not be the last ;-)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Double Post Tonite

Ok, after a long day, this made it for me! Here is the link to view Duke's online gallery proofs from our photography session this week.
I don't even want to think about choosing!
The online gallery is only active for 14 days so be sure to check it out!

The First of Many

Well, some of you have been updated by phone, but for those wondering how Jack's doing, here we go...

This morning Daddy got him out of bed and after a diaper change put him on the floor of his room, where he promptly took two limps toward me and stopped. So, after breakfast Jack and I loaded back up in the car and headed into Children's Hospital After Hours Clinic. I didn't realize the clinic didn't open until 10am (we arrived at 8:30 - it's not an emergency clinic) so we took a detour to Target where Mommy thought ahead to buy a few new books and the Little People Garage (for an afternoon distraction). Most of you know me not to have a bunch of toys since the boys are in daycare all week and the weekends are reserved for outside play - but I had a sneaking suspicion we might need something new to keep someone's attention on this very afternoon.
Unfortunately, I was right. After a short wait, and time for me to observe him and convince myself it wasn't just my imagination that he was limping and grabbing hold of furniture to keep himself steady, we got in to see the doctor and had x-rays and she found a slight fracture of the tibula. Now, what does that mean? I have no idea. She explained that it's quite common, called "toddler fractures" (although I don't see many 2 year olds around with their legs splinted or in a cast) and that we needed to follow up with a pediatric orthopedist this week.
So, they splinted his leg in a temporary splint...basically some kind of felt material which surrounds a gel which hardened after she wetted it, then she molded it to his lower leg and foot and wrapped it with an ace bandage. Here's the little lame boy so you can picture the splint...

For now, he's doing pretty well. No pain meds, not just because he doesn't seem to need them, but I also don't want him to get overly confident and start trying to walk on the thing and break his arm. He's crawling and scooting and played wonderfully all afternoon with his Little People Garage, and even with his little brother. Tomorrow first thing I will be on the phone with our pediatrician to get a referral for an ortho, and Bill Douglas also recommended one to me so we'll see if he's on the list. In the meantime, say a little prayer that whatever this is turns out to be very minor (which I'd imagine it is in the scheme of things or the doc would have sent me down to Children's Main Campus for casting) and that the little bugger heals quickly.

My sister Ali said she was just wondering to herself last week about which of our four boys (Jack, Quinn, Nolan or Duke) would be the first to have some childhood catastrophe happen. Needless to say, I guess we won this round...and I am sure it is just one of many we will face with our two!

So, keep tuned in for the latest and greatest after we see the next doctor!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Wonderful Week

It's Saturday, the kids are in bed and I've got a few minutes to reflect back on a really fantastic week. It started last Sunday with the arrival of Cory's sister Natalie and her husband Patrick. All the rest of the grandkids were left at Grandma Rath's for the annual week long "Grandma Camp". Having driven all the way from Brunswick, Georgia, Natalie and Patrick were looking for an inexpensive get-a-way for themselves for a few days until they needed to head back to Tennessee to pick up Alyssa, Kevin, Hannah & Victoria. So we opened up the house - and the office/spare room/Cory's trophy room - to them. I would be working all week, the kids would be in daycare and hopefully they could get some peace and quiet and get a chance to meet Duke who hasn't had a Rath family get together yet. We really enjoyed their company (especially watching the Cardinals/Braves MLB games each night, and laughing at YouTube videos of comedian Tim Hawkins ("Cletus Take the Reel") FUNNY STUFF! I cannot wait for Thanksgiving this year in Tennessee and hope that the annual Nutcracker production the Eades participate in doesn't conflict with the trip this year! And I really cannot wait for the days that Jack & Duke can attend Grandma Camp and hope that the six parents of the grandkids can all take a joint trip somewhere during that week someday!


My work week was a little on edge, with Bill Douglas - my partner in crime - on vacation. Bill is 50% boss and 50% my Alabama Dad, and he's at the age at which taking care of aging parents is coming into play. We compliment each other very well and I've been blessed to be able to work with him for nearly 11 years. He's had a busy month at home and at work in July and I had hoped to keep the wheels turning while he was away for his annual beach trip. It got a little dicey on Thursday, I had about had my limit with a few incidents, but I made it through and will be glad to see Bill sitting in his office when I get there on Monday morning.


Today my neighbor Crystal stepped in and helped me out in watching Duke for the morning while I stole away for a few hours with Jack for his 4th of 6 swimming lessons with his friend Payton and her mom Leslie. We had a blast as usual and the rest of the day went smoothly up until about 5:30 after Daddy and Peter had called it quits for the day from working on the lake, when Jack was running aimlessly in the dirt and he got off balance and fell. Now, first of all, this is not a major event... at nearly 2 years old, he falls plenty and usually it's just a brush him off and on his way type situation. Apparently, tonite was not the case, though we initially treated it that way. I didn't notice anything peculiar at the start when he got up crying, other than he was covered from head to toe in dust and dirt, so Daddy hosed him off and I carried him inside to change him and make him dinner. It wasn't until I tried to set him down that he started crying again and favored one of his legs, holding onto the sofa for balance. So, here we go...the endless back and forth of...do I take him to after care at Children's Hospital and have it checked out, (surely to sit for hours on end in a waiting room) or do I give him Tylenol and some time to see what it really is about? Well, there was no bruising, no swelling, he let me touch his foot, leg, toes, and move them all around without any cries; but still if I asked him to walk, no go. So, I loaded him in the car and away we went. I made it 2 miles before calling Clare and asking her sage advice, and then turned around and went home. So, after an after dinner snack, bath and Tylenol, he went to bed just fine and we'll see what tomorrow morning brings. If we still have a problem, it's away to Children's we go, but for now I'm thinking the best reaction was calling Clare...her advice is always the best (for kid and mom!)


So that was our week, hope you've enjoyed reading about it and a BIG THANKS to all of those in it that made it wonderful! And if you didn't see the post from last night, be sure and check out Duke's pics!


We have about 4 more days left on the lake, but it's really coming along. I know it's hard to get a feel for it, but take a look at the follwing pics, the first shows the base of what will become the dam and the other includes Peter & Cory in it, might help you get a feel for the scale - coming around to about 4 acres right now.

Friday, August 1, 2008

SNEAK PEEK

Wednesday, I finally had a professional photography session with Duke. I don't have the proofs yet, but Heather Swanner has posted on our session on her blog today. Click here for the blog (or you can connect anytime from her listing on my blogroll on the lower right).

http://heatherswannerphotography.typepad.com/heather_swanner_photograp/

I cannot wait for the full proofs! Heather really does an incredible job and I so enjoy our sessions together. If you are a fellow resident in Birmingham, I would recommend her with no hesitations whatsoever!

Stay tuned for full proofs!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Next Phase Begins


Today we officially began the construction of Sterling Creek Lake. Cory started a weeks vacation today and pending a decently dry week, we will have a lake bed ready for water in about 2 weeks. That's Cory on our Catepillar to the right and our friend Peter Ladewig, who also was the contractor on our first house, on his on the left. They started today and worked about 8 hours before calling it quits. Moved quite a bit of dirt and Jack enjoyed keeping tabs on it all. Even decided to bring out his own CAT to show me how it's supposed to be done.





Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Response

(I've been down and out with a cold since Monday, so this will have to do for this week's post!)

For those of you interested in the follow up to the Starbuck's post...here's the response, that way you don't have to write to corporate, since this would surely be their canned response...


From: Customer Relations [mailto:info@starbucks.com] Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 2:45 PMTo: Rath, SarahSubject: Response from Starbucks Coffee Company - Case # 5779439
Hello Sarah,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company and writing to us with your concerns about the closure of one of our locations. We appreciate your passion for the location and the baristas who greet you and make your visit an enjoyable part of the day.

It's never an easy decision to close one of our locations, as we know every Starbucks is a gathering place for the local community. In making this decision, we have considered many factors, including financial performance, proximity of other locations that can provide the Starbucks experience, as well as other considerations.

Partners in the affected stores have been personally notified that their store has been slated to close during this timeframe. Once a specific closure date has been confirmed for their location, store partners will receive advance notice and more details from their leadership team. After specific closure dates have been communicated to all affected partners, we will continue to update the confirmed store list posted on Starbucks.com.

We expect to place many of the affected partners into available positions at nearby Starbucks stores. Those partners who are not offered a comparable position within a reasonable distance of their current location will be offered a severance payment to aid in their transition. All affected partners - including full-time and part-time - are eligible for severance based on job title and current pay rate.

If you have questions about which stores are to be closing, please visit our website at http://www.starbucks.com/aboutus/USStoreClosureInfo.pdf for a full list.

Thank you again for contacting us. We appreciate your comments and thank you for supporting our baristas. If you have any further comments please email us via www.starbucks.com/customer/contact.asp or call (800) 23-LATTE (52883) to speak with a customer relations representative.

Warm Regards,

Colleen N.
Customer Relations
Starbucks Coffee Company


If you would like to share your thoughts about your experience with Starbucks Customer Contact Center, please click on the link below to participate in a short survey. Your comments will be used to ensure that any future experiences with Starbucks Customer Contact Center meet your highest expectations.

http://www.starbuckscontactcenter.com/star_ccc_index.asp?group=CR&template=CR257
______________________________
Another friendly neighborhood form letter. But then again, at least they bothered to respond!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Starbuck's - I Can Empathize, But HEY!

Ok, so I've had two kids in 2 years and yes, I like my Starbuck's! It's a little trendy oasis that I don't have to create. Give me that at least! I know their coffee is overpriced, I know Dunkin Donuts tastes better (sadly there is no location anyhwere near me to test this for myself...), but still I enjoy my weekly (as long as Cory is in town and can be home after the kids are in bed) jaunts with my neighbor Crystal to the local Starbucks to have a simple cup of coffee or latte and chat for a few hours without having to worry if one of the boys is going to wake up crying or need another drink of water.

So, that being said, I have no less than 5 Starbuck's locations between my house and my office. Three stand alone stores, one in the Super Target and one in the Barnes and Noble. And sadly, the one closest to my office, which just opened a year ago, is on the list of 600 stores to be closed!

Now, I would be much more upset if the store that Crystal and I chill at on the occaisional Monday night was on the list, but still, what a bummer. No shot at getting away from the office for a break, no last minute hot Starbuck's Skinny Vanilla, or Carmel, or Cinnamon Dolce Latte (or non-skinny Toffee Nut Latte) to sip as I check my email first thing in the morning in my office. Nope, now I must plan ahead, drop the kids and head a block the opposite way on bumper to bumper Hwy 280 and add 2 stoplights to my commute in order to enjoy this occaisional indulgence on the days I just must have something to make it through the morning!

So, of course I have sent in my note to Starbuck's corporate...which will probably not sway their fiscally responsible policy to close stores which are not profitable...even though this one in my opinion hasn't had a chance to get it's place in the neighborhood yet, but at least I have given my opinion and feel I have done my job in making an attempt to keep my life more convenient. So, maybe in the long run, Starbuck's is actually helping me keep my girlish figure by closing a store so convenient...either way, I am certain I will continue to have my indulgence, just maybe a little less frequently.

And Clare and Natalie, don't worry, I already searched the list and Racine and Brunswick (or anywhere nearby) are safe for now!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's Not the Firsts....

I learned today driving home that it's not the "firsts" that each child accomplishes that are so exciting, it's the "firsts" they do together...

Today, Jack was playing peek-a-boo, hiding his eyes with his hands, then throwing them aside and saying "PEEK", a relatively new joy for him. And all the while Duke sat in his back facing car seat leaning as far as he could to see his brother and laughing hysterically every time Jack squealed "PEEK"! Only making Jack want to do it over and over again.

Joy comes at the most unexpected times.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Phew!

Well, what a few weeks it's been and it isn't over yet! Sorry for not having checked in (and thanks for the email reminders), but it's been a little crazy here. I feel like we are "close" to getting back into our routine, but I'm sure something will come up and toss it in the air again...oh well...

We had a great time in Racine for the 4th! Of course, talk about crazy!, but what can you expect with three little boys on the verge of 2 years old! Jack was in sheer heaven and awestruck by the houseful of toys that Quinn has access to everyday (thanks to mom staying home, something has to help her keep her sanity!) Duke played with his feet...seriously, everyone was a bit suprised at how chilled out of a baby Duke seems to have become. And they both did fairly well on the trip, other than the fact that I think we managed to bring a "southern stomach bug" with us, which eventually found it's way in some shape or form to Caroline, Quinn, Clare, Nolan, Ali, Josh and Charles (sorry guys!) If it makes any of you all feel better, two babies in Duke's class were sent home today with a new stomach bug and one baby with pinkeye and Jack's room is reporting similar symptoms and fussiness, so there is no telling what this weekend will bring.

All in all, awesome trip and so wonderful to spend time with my family! And the new hot tub at Clare and Josh's new swank pad wasn't such a bad bonus either! Better than a hotel in my opinion! Thanks to you two for opening up your place to us on such a short schedule of getting in there yourself. And while I'm at it, I must say little Nolan Gasser is quite the little stinker of the group. Now not really a stinker in the way of being a pest or anything...he just reminds me so much of his mother growing up it's scary! A little ham and I have a feeling will be quite the little clown in his day. Clare and I may have our hands full with two each, but Ali may have us beat with the nonstop-always on the go little guy in her house, good luck with that!

We had a week or so to adjust to being back and then Daddy hit the road for Vegas for a week and I'm starting to sense this isn't going to get any easier anytime soon. Actually for a while, when we were on the usual schedule of Daddy gone mid week for a few days, it really worked pretty well and we managed to avoid any major meltdowns. However, now that Daddy's been home a while since gas prices have had to readjust the travel schedule some, it has not been such a great week in Jack's world.

Don't get me wrong, the kid is a trooper for what little time he gets one on one with Mommy these days...but when push comes to shove and it's just Mommy and the boys, Duke takes the lead most times and poor Jack has to practice our new action word "patience". Not so smooth this week, but things did look up tonite when I broke down at lunch and bought him the Little People Airplane for a suprise. Since the trip to Wisconsin, AIRPLANE, has been the big word around here, (actually "airmay" and how cute is that!) and the idea was a good one, until it was time for bath, where the "airmay" cannot go... Between the "airmay" and the sudden attachment since Sunday to "Goodnight Moon" which now has to be read no less than three times before bed, and then a crying spell ensues regardless, it's been a loooooonnnnnggggg week for Mommy. I have a whole new appreciation for divorced and single mom's, let me tell you. At least us Mom's that have Daddy's travel have the hope of a short reprieve and sound sleep again!

So that's about it in our world this week. There's so much more, and I will try to do a better job this month of some short posts, but for now I hope you are entertained.

And just for the record:

Jack's latest words:
Bus (out of nowhere on the way to work today as we passed one and accompanied by an active rendering with the hands of "The Wheels on the Bus...")
Airplane (see above)
YaYa (been around a while)
MiMi (now recited following Mommy's prompt of "and who lives with YaYa")
Catepillar (sounds like "cacakiller", however not the bug, but for the very large yellow machine in our yard these days)
Granola Bar (don't even ask)
Mommy (yes finally, it seems I have a name other than "uh, uh")
and the one that beats all....ELMO! (heard over the baby monitor at 3am recently)

Duke's favorite pasttimes:
Sitting up
Playing with his feet
Not telling anyone he is awake in the morning, Mommy eventually has to assume by 8am that she needs to get him and feed him or he may stay in his crib all day entertaining himself!
Testing out Daddy's Saturday morning pancakes

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wisconsin Here We Come!

Well, by this time on Wednesday we will be all settled in and visiting with MiMi & YaYa, The Mork's and The Gasser's and WE CAN'T WAIT! How fun will it be with a 4 1/2 year old sweet girl, and four boys under 22 mos running around for the 4th! For those of you in Wisconsin that might have checked in and seen this post - we are arriving on Wednesday and hope to catch as many of you as we can before we head on back to Alabama on Sunday. We are really looking forward to our first Racine 4th of July parade in years and the first for the boys - we know Jack will have a blast. We are staying at Josh & Clare's new place, so give us a ring or send an email (I'll have my blackberry) if you'll be around!

Dad - this one's for you!

This One's for Grandma!

Grandma hasn't visited in a while and we just knew she had to hear Duke's very sweet laugh or she might not make it till the next visit! So enjoy Grandma!

Love you - Duke & Jack!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

QUICK QUICK

I should't do this from the office, but since my poor little Duke seems to always take the back seat to all his brother's budding accomplishments, I just had to highlight a big one for him today!

I just got the phone call from Odyssey Day School and was suprised to hear "Duke's got a tooth!" Yep, it just poked through today!

So here you have it, news of the day (from a Mom that's feeling just a tad guilty that she didn't even notice it was on the way!)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quick Post

Had to make sure I had a bit of Duke time for you too!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Time to Play

As you can see, I'm playing with some layouts, so don't be suprised if our blog seems different to you. Keep checking in. I hope to have a few more videos coming soon. Things have been a little crazy around here with a few of the usual run of daycare illnesses in the past week; pinkeye, hand-foot-mouth (which just sounds gross but is nothing but a virus), ear infection (poor Duke!) and now I think Mommy, Jack and Duke all have a bit of a cold coming on. We are all trying to get it out of the way before our big trip to Wisconsin in 2 weeks for the 4th. Hope to catch many of you while we are there!

On top of that, Cory and I have started a new routine (thanks to Cory my high energy morning person husband) of getting up at 5am and getting in a little exercise...(keep it clean people!) On the days he's in town, which are more than the usual these days with the price of gas, he runs or I walk every other day (one of us has to stay behind of course) and on opposite days we find other stretching, lifting, etc. exercises to do at home. So far so good...of course, he's been doing this for 2 weeks and I just started today, so not so tough so far! Let's see where we fall out in a month. (Really I think it's just his way to use his new iPod Nano the boys gave him for Father's Day!)

Seriously, things are going well here. Thanks for all the emails and I hope to get a moment to write back to many of you soon. I also have some catching up to do on baby book additions. Cory and I often wonder what we did with our time before we had kids...looking back, it wasn't very productive - well, maybe for the office!