Friday, December 4, 2009

What a Night!

Tonight was the highlight of my year as a auxiliary volunteer with Children's Hospital, the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

The auxiliary puts on this very special event for the children of the hospital the first Friday of December.  The hospital's lobby Christmas Tree is officially lit, after Ms. Mary Ann Glazner performs a sing-a-long and Santa arrives on an antique firetruck at the end of her reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Santa visits with the patients in his chair in the lobby, the Big Top Clowns paint faces and celebrate with the kids and it's an all around wonderful way to kick off the holiday.  This year we also enjoyed performances by the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of Birmingham and Christmas Carols by the Children's Idol contestents (CHS employees participate in a singing talent show & contest each spring at our Volunteer Banquet).

My week was a little stressful with some final details of the event getting shaken up a bit. I was informed yesterday that due to some miscommunication, the media coordinator from MYO had sent out a press release to all the Birmingham news, radio and print media that the event was open to the public!  Thankfully, the retraction they sent out on Wednesday seemed to have worked because we didn't have a mass of people arriving to meet Santa which would have been a logistical nightmare, not to mention possibly pose health risks to the patients who the program is for.  On top of it, Cory has been in Mississippi and Georgia since Monday and not expected home until tomorrow and so I had both boys in tow and at this age, no matter how much I prepare them, there is always the chance for some wildness to come out, which I definitely didn't need. 

Happily it all turned out fantastic!  The clowns were tremendous, Santa was jolly, the music was wonderful and the boys well behaved!  Although I wish we didn't have an audience of patients to host because that would mean good health for the kids, we did have a nearly full hospital so I am glad we were there for the patients and families to enjoy some holiday spirit. 

I even got a special blessing. 

While Mary Ann was playing the piano and singing carols with the Idols - Duke wandered over to her, fascinated by her playing.  He's always been drawn to music, and it was a special moment for me to watch this...

Mary Ann was so dear to involve them in her playing and I really enjoyed seeing them, especially Duke, be so fearless in trying something new.

Special thanks go out to Howard Holmes of CHS Volunteer Services who was my man on the scene for the event, Frank Hrabe his partner in crime at CHS and a dear friend of mine for years who I can count on to keep me sane, Mary Ann Glazner for her continued energy in bringing the program to the kids, the Big Top Clowns for keeping everyone joyous and happy, the MYO for making sure our concerns were addressed and playing wonderfully and being flexible, Leigh Douglas for lending me a special hand ;) and of course SANTA!

This is the way a great holiday season should always start!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Love Turns 2

How many birthday celebrations can one two year old kid have you ask?

Well, three in our house, for our 2 year old Duke!

Back in October we celebrated a joint birthday with brother Jack (3) and all our school friends, over the holiday weekend we celebrated at Grandma's house and shared it with our cousin Kevin (16) and Daddy (hmmm...). But today, today was the real thing, and we celebrated in style.

Micky Mouse cupcakes with orange and blue icing that doesn't wipe off (until you are immersed in a bathtub for 20 minutes, ah well).

I truly cannot believe how quickly time has passed in our little world down here in Alabama. But then I look at what he was doing just one year ago today and I am amazed at how much has changed in him. From just happy to be here with his smile to shouting "Big Truck Mommy!" at the passing of every semi on the highway as we drive along. From the staggered, steady first steps to a dancing maniac (oh and just wait until I get the chance to post the latest Lion King "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" ode to Elton John moves the boy has!). From the instantaneous temper fits - although short lived they are - to the gentle lovin' he gives whenever we ask for it and each "snuggle?" he requests. My baby Duke is all his own. Nothing like his brother other than the big eyes and lashes. The rest he's made of himself and I'm so happy to have such a sweet, strong, independant darling little man in my life.

Happy Birthday Duke. Your name serves you well.

Not to be outdone, I just got to sorting through pics of our holiday weekend at Grandma's in Tennessee and found this one to share - Grandma makes the BEST cakes as evidenced by the smile!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

RUN Forest RUN!

Just testing a feature on my blog and emailing a post…we’ll see how it works.


Have to publically thank my husband for allowing me to do something for myself and join the newly opened Snap Fitness in Chelsea.  Well, I shouldn’t really use the word allow, PUSH would be more appropriate, since I tend to put just about everything in this world before myself.  (Isn’t that the definition of MOM in Websters?)


So, last night was our first attempt at the park and swap.  I call him after I’ve picked up the kids and he met me in the parking lot of the club, which is located exactly in our path on our way home every night, where we swap vehicles, he takes the kids home and gets them started on supper and I spend 30 minutes or so on the treadmill for a run.  It worked well last night.  I still made it home by 6:30 and was able to have supper with them and spend an hour with the kids before they went to bed.


Of course, last night worked because Cory is in town, but the bonus of this place is that you can use any of the clubs across the country…or city in my case, and there is one just around the corner from my office so on the days he’s out of town, I can still get in my run. 


Run Mommy Run…we’ll see in a month how it’s going.





Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Country Halloween

While all our city friends are getting prepared today for a cold and rainy time trick or treating, we are counting the candy we scored last night at the annual Columbiana Monster Walk. For us country folk, since we can't really go door to door being that the doors are quite some distance from one another, the businesses of our county seat, Columbiana, hosts a trick or treating event each year. So after having a wonderful dress up day at school, we headed to downtown Colubmiana in balmy 70 degrees, though cloudy, to go door to door with our country neighbors the Schobers.

It was a blast, though the line around the town went pretty slow at times. Duke figured out pretty quickly that he could score quite a few suckers early on, and by midway through we heard one of his favorite lines over and over again "openit, openit, openit?"

And bonus of the evening, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner with the Schobers at our favorite Columbiana Eatery, Bernie's. Even had a sweet woman come to our table to compliment us on how well behaved our children were. Since I have not braved the kid dinner at a restaurant in nearly 6 months, this was a HUGE boost for me. Maybe we can try it again soon without Cory cringing at the thought.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Publix Post

My most dedicated friends know I am a power shopper when it comes to Publix. A year ago at our women's conference at Church of the Highlands I sat in on a session about how you win at the coupon game, and it changed my life. I'm serious.

I have always been frugal, ok maybe even to the point of utterly indecisive, when it comes to spending money. Don't get me wrong, I can drop a dime or two when in the mood. But I will also wear a pair of jeans for 5 years, until there are holes in the butt and my underwear show through (would have been nice if someone had tipped me off on that one when it first happened, there is no telling how long I walked around with my arse peeking out at everyone!) rather than spend the $15 a year it would have cost me to replace said favorite jeans - which I just did, see facebook post from a month ago.

However, those 45 minutes of learning the tips and tricks to saving money - saved my sanity! And a nice wad of cash every month too. I have dropped our monthly household spending amount on grocery, cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes, beauty needs, etc. a minimum of $300. All by shopping at Publix, and doing it the right way. And bonus - HAVE NOT BEEN TO A WALMART IN 6 MONTHS!

That's right. Of course, I am a little bummed I don't get to gawk at the interesting clientele at the local supercenter, however I know I can always get my fix at the evermore popular People of Walmart, when I need a good OMG! Are you seriously out in public in that and in the BABY AISLE?!?!

The thing about Publix, it's not just the savings, it's also the fact the baggers always ask me if I want them to take my groceries (including the 2 very active children in the cart) to my car for me and if I need help any time I look remotely confused or lost or am in search of an item that should absolutely be right in front of me. It's the fact it reminds me of Willie's Sentry in Racine, WI where we shopped when I was a kid and every employee new me, my sisters and my mom by first name.

So I figured I would finally post an example of just one weekend trip to Publix and show you what I'm really talking about when it comes to savings. I so wish they would open a store up north so my sisters could take advantage of all the deals they offer. Buy 1 Get 1 Free (on stuff you actually use and which you only have to buy 1 of to get the special price), Doubled Manufacturer Coupons up to .50 - that means $1!, use of competitor store coupons (in addition to any mfg coupons and including the $5 off $50 grocery purchase coupons that Target often sends out or you get at the Target register), plus their own store coupons - and hey, if you have a mfg coupon, a competitor store coupon and a Publix coupon for the same item - JACKPOT - you can use all three on that one item!

The whole process has catered to my competitive edge at getting the most for my buck. I stock up on what we buy when it's on sale and I rarely if ever spend more than $100-125 a week now on what we need to run our house and feed our family, which I consider pretty darn good considering I still have one in diapers and the other one is still going through a Pull Up each day and I do about 6 loads of laundry a week.

Here's what I bought:

Gallon of Milk
Baguette of French Bread
Bag of Romaine lettuce
3 Tombstone frozen pizzas
2 pkgs of Pillsbury Savorings Artichoke & Cheese App Bites
Gorton's Fishsticks
2 bottles of ALL Small & Mighty (50 loads)
3 Sixpacks of Mott's Applesauce Cups
5 lbs of Idaho Potatoes
Starbuck Coffe (10oz)
2 cans Pringles (Mega Pack)
4 cans Chef Boy R D Ravioli/Beefaroni
Spice Islands Crushed Rosemary
Excedrin Back & Body (I'm getting old!)
2 cans of Planters Mixed Nuts (Chex Mix Season coming!)
4 boxes of Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
40 ct Pullups ($15.99)
132 ct Huggies ($33.99)

Total Bill before coupons/savings: $166.94
Vendor & Store coupons: $31.40
Store Ad Savings: $42.89
Total Saved: $74.29
Paid: $92.65

You may not consider this great, I didn't have any meat on the list (because I had just stocked up on chicken breasts at 1.99/lb and we have venison burger in the freezer already) and don't have a lot of staples, since I have the pantry pretty built but wanted some fun things as the holidays are coming and we will be home this year. Just consider Pullups and Huggies alone would have cost me $50, so all and all it was a pretty good day. (I got the ALL for .99 a bottle after using a Publix $1.00 off and a Mfg $1.00 off when they were on sale at $2.99 each...when's the last time you could do that?!)

I have also learned a great deal and find excellent tips and links on a website I visit a couple of times weekly Southern Savers. Jenny posts each Wednesday the specials at Publix (she also does Kroger, Harris Teeter, Harvey's, Walgreen's, CVS) and even on Sundays will post the Penny Item so I can check it to see if it's worth getting the last $10 of specials that week. (Publix offers a mystery item on Sundays and Mondays at their stores - buy $10 in groceries and get the mystery item for a penny, and it's usually a good item - this week it was a 4 roll pack of toilet paper - who doesn't need toilet paper for goodness sakes! I usually hold back on buying about $10 worth of products during my regular trip that I need but don't have a chance to have a coupon against (think meat on sale, milk, eggs, etc.) so if the mystery item is worth it, I have $10 worth to buy and can get it without buying junk I wouldn't need. Plus she pre-posts the weekend Sunday coupon inserts on Fridays, so I can check out quickly if anything on my list for Saturday I might want to hold off picking up until Sunday/Monday with the penny item since I would have a coupon to use toward it from the Sunday paper.

Finally I have a few vendor sites that I have subscribed to (and have a separate email address for to receive all the emails) such as Betty Crocker, Kraft, General Mills, Conagra, Pillsbury (some of these are redundant since they are owned by the same company but if you sign up for their brand newsletters you get multiple prints of coupons - really handy for B1G1 free items when you want to stock up) which Jenny also links to, but that I have signed up for to get their regular monthly coupons. Oh! And don't forget Upromise - great site for ecoupons if you shop at Publix, Winn Dixie or CVS - am sure there are more stores- which you can earn $$'s toward an investment plan for college for you kids - and if you join be sure and reference me so I can get some extra savings from it!

So for all of you wondering, how to do it? Sunday coupons, vendor internet coupons, Southern Savers, competitor direct mailers and Publix. Put em together, spend about a total of an hour a week at different times, and you feel a little less guilty about indulging once in a while on that Starbucks Grande No Foam Skinny Vanilla Latte.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Only Wish There Were More Time

We had an awesome weekend visit with my parents. It was packed busy, but we were able to enjoy doing some really fun 1st's with the kids and allow my parents to particpate in some specials times with the boys. And although the weather was more chilly than normal this time of year, we still were able to enjoy some outside events.

A mommy friend of mine, Leslie, was able to score us some free tickets Friday night to Boo at the Zoo, the Birmingham Zoo's annual Halloween event. I was still finishing up Jack's costume on Thursday night but pulled it all together and the boys were in my humble opinion - ADORABLE! It really was worth every yard of yellow felt I had to cut and glue to a straw hat and the 45 minutes of constant stirring as I dyed the clothes a RIT "golden yellow". And to top it off, Duke's little swagger made a memorable monkey.

Saturday, we planned an easy at home day, since we spent most of Friday antiquing and running around. Plus we had a big day planned for Sunday, 25 kids and their parents for a birthday bash for both boys. I still had race car cookies to bake and the cake to pick up and Cory had to setup the trailer for the hay ride. We burned some of the boys energy off that morning playing on the hay trailer and Mom enjoyed seeing the "power of Cars" and watching the movie that afternoon. They got to experience such exciting and memorable moments as Duke's new style of wearing Yaya's hat backwards and givin' "lovin" and Jack's excitement at showing how well he does on the potty (not one of Dad's most exciting memories of the trip I am sure!) I think just being around Jack and Duke that day wore Mom and Dad out!

We capped off the weekend with an amazing birthday party Sunday afternoon. And after about 10 days of clouds and rain, we couldn't have asked for a prettier fall day. It was still cool, upper 50s, but the sun was shining and it was just what every parent needed to get the kids out to the country for an afternoon of fresh air. We had a Cars Moonwalk, the playset, the kids bikes, a hayride, hot apple cider for the parents, sugar and icing to deocrate racecar cookies, and a Lightning McQueen and Mater Birthday Cake for the big moment - #3 for Jack and #2 for Duke. Jack is still talking about having all his friends come to his house to play and Duke hasn't stopped asking to "jump!".

The entire weekend sped by too fast. I know Jack and Duke were so happy to have Mimi and Yaya visit. It will be something they will always remember and will so be looking forward to seeing them soon again!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Heaven", Ok - Maybe just "Heav..."

In my past life I used to spend HOURS in the corner garden tub I specifically built into the plans of our former home. I would light 25 candles, pour a glass of wine, fill up a steaming bath with whatever the latest potions I had on hand, grab the latest Smithsonian (hey - I like reading about history and art!) and sink into oblivion. My favorite time of the year for this ritual was the fall or early spring, when I could open the windows and let the coolness of the night air fill the room while I was neck high in steam and water.

When we built our new place just before Jack was born, the "temporary" residence, like a carriage house, that we would live in while the kids were small and convert to a place family from out of town can stay when they visit, I had to compromise on a few things to keep costs relatively reasonable. One of those was a garden tub. Instead we opted for a couple of showers and just one standard, actually low sided, bathtub we could bathe the kids in.

So for the past 3 years, other than a few times when I was pregnant with Duke and absolutely needed the relief of bouyancy (which in a low sided tub didn't work too well since my belly nearly stuck all the way out of the water!) I haven't had the luxury of my past life. Not that my current schedule would have allowed it anyway, but trust me, there have been nights I wouldn't have cared that it would be as late as 9pm to have such a treat. It's basically bedtime at that point anyway and a good soak would have been great.

But this Sunday, I decided enough was enough, I was just going to suffer the low tub and take a good soak. And it was HEAVEN. For 45 minutes, while the kids watched Cars in the living room with Cory, I turned on the bathroom fan, turned off the lights, lit some candles, filled a glass, grabbed a magazine (Parents this time, ah well....current events at least, right?!) and ahhhhhh...into the scent of Huggies Lavendar Baby Wash I descended.

Not quite the same atmosphere with the "accessories" but it'll do for now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

God Knew

Whenever I share the story of how Cory and I started a family I get interesting comments, but mostly I think people wonder why we waited so long and then jumped in so fast. Not that I don't wonder it myself, but truly (as most of you know) we hadn't quite planned to jump in as fast as we did. Jack - well planned, much stressed over (WHEN?!!?) Duke - excuse me, WHAT is that second line doing there?!?!

Of course, I absolutely wouldn't want it any other way. I could not imagine my life without both of my little men, and never want to. But today, with another sick kid day - this time Jack - I got a small glimpse of what some of my friends have in their lives with just one child - or children that are a bit more spaced apart than mine are.

I decided early in the day I wouldn't stress myself about trying to get actual work done from home. I had a few things I needed to do, and did, but with Cory gone until Sunday, I knew I absolutely would not get anything done around the house tomrrow and so I thought I'd take the day and just get the house in order which was desperately needed (since it is not something I usually have time to do unless it's after 8:30 at night or Cory's got both boys out of the house and occupied for several hours which is also not a regular opportunity for us with his schedule.) So, after getting Duke to daycare, Jack and I came home and I went about the task.

And what I learned very quickly is that I can get a whole lot done without being interrupted, even with a 3 year old around, but add a 2 year old and forget it. This made me a little jealous, oh how nice it would be to have more than 2 seconds to breathe for anything. I can't imagine living a life with regular downtime. Everyone says, after the first year, it gets much easier - but honestly, this year - the second, was harder for me than the first. Naps are ending or greatly reduced, bedtimes are stretching longer, personalities are getting stronger...and I'm not getting any younger.

But after a little reflection, and upon returning home after picking up Duke and getting back home to attempt at making a meal and wrangling the two of them up for bathtime and bed I realized yet again.

God knew.

And he shows me each day in some little way how lucky I am and that's what keeps me going. I may be exhausted, but I'm happy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dancing With the Star

Here's the mover and shaker in our household. Presenting Mr. Duke Rath.

Just try and top this show ABC!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm Three!

Happy Birthday to my big boy Jack. I can't believe just 3 years ago I was laying in a hospital bed holding a tiny, (and at just 6lbs he was TINY!) baby boy. That was truly my last real vacation, HA! But by all means, a wonderful memory for me of just how precious he is to me and how fast time passes. Why just this morning when he woke up at 6am he announced he was "Almost 3"...which was actually true, since he didn't really enter the world until about 9:15. By the time we got to school however, he was announcing to everyone we ran into that it was his birthday and he was 3.

We had a great time this weekend in Tennessee with Grandma and Grandpa (with the exception of the stomach bug that hitched a ride with us and bit Jack on Saturday afternoon). But we were recovered enough to partake in the Lightning McQueen cake which Grandma made and enjoy all the neat Cars presents she got us. We had to break out the pajamas the night before, after messing up our last clean pair on the last bout of bug. Bleccchhh!

And to celebrate at home Cory and I walked into his room this morning with a cupcake lit with 3 candles singing Happy Birthday, he was VERY EXCITED. Especially when he saw the cupcake was adorned with Luigi and Guido, from yes, CARS. (Aunt Lisa, feel free to just wrap whatever you have in hand for Christmas, no need to buy the boys gifts, used CARS paraphanelia will be just fine!)

And more cupcakes at school along with a birthday crown and an entire room of 2-3 year olds singing a resounding "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to him. Again on the way out, everyone we ran into was presented with Luigi and Guido to view.

And finally, here we sit, watching CARS for oh, maybe the 10th time since last weekend, and playing with Mack, Frank the Combine, all three Lighting McQueen's, Luigi, Guido and occaissionally pre-empting the punch lines "Boy, You're in a HEAP of Trouble".

Here a few pics from the past few days.

Happy Birthday Jack. Even though you prefer CARS over the ever cute Curious George movie (or maybe I just like the variety a little and listening to Jack Johnson over Rascal Flatts), I will continue to play Upside Down on my iPod whenever possible and believe that someday the words will truly describe you, my big boy. (If I knew how to add music to my blog it'd be playing right now!)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Something from My Previous Life Returning?

For several years now, including a few prior to having kids, I have volunteered with Children's Hospital here, specifically working with the Auxiliary. It's been a great experience, including volunteering for Parents Night Out - a Thursday night once a month where all the parents that have children in rooms that night are invited to the cafeteria for a meal (from outside the hospital) and bingo and prizes - all donated by a sponsoring group; as Secretary of the Auxiliary - keeping all the volunteers up to date on the opportunities and needs for volunteers; the Christmas Tree Lighting - scheduling entertainment, clowns, and making sure Santa is all ready to arrive in the lobby to visit with the kids the first Friday in December right after the lights "magically" shine on the holiday trees for the first time and even heading up the Teen Scholarship Committee who chooses which teen is deserving of a $2,500 scholarship to college given by the Auxiliary each year.

I've been able to meet and get to know some great people in my work downtown at the hospital and my only regret has been not being able to participate on a more regular basis. With Cory's schedule on the road, it's hard for me to commit to just about anything that requires a definitive day a month or week. However, I do whatever I can just to keep in the loop and involved hoping someday that might change...or even change enough that the kids could join me. When Jack was a baby, he sometimes came with me to the Auxiliary board meetings - and I was tickled this week when Howard Holmes, one of the CHS Volunteer Staff told me that was the highlight of his first meetings with us. He so enjoyed watching Jack crawl around under the table, getting into whatever he could, while we attended to whatever business we had to.

This Tuesday, I was able to work things around and get downtown to interview teens that had applied for a limited amount of volunteer spots that are open for them for the fall semester. Priority goes to returning teen volunteers, so that left only about 10 spots and we had 30 or so that had applied.

It was a great experience, not just to get out of the normal routine of getting the kids, home, dinner, bath, etc...but to see what is out there in the form of our future. I spent about 10 minutes with each of the 7 that I interviewed and am glad I only have to give the input and not make the decision on who to choose. Of course, some amount of dedication is expected by someone who goes ahead and not only fills out the application, but also writes an essay and gets two letters of recommendation from teachers or church members.

Ironically, my top interviewee of the night was my last. She was an eager junior, eldest of four, who shared her gift for coming up with spur of the minute ideas to keep kids busy/distracted, which is often a huge need in the emergency room at Children's when there is a several hour wait to see a doctor during busy times. (Children's never turns away a junvenile patient, no matter insurance or no insurance, so you can imagine in a metropolitan area like Birmingham, what that can lead to.) I was thoroughly impressed by her ease at speaking with an adult she had just met as well as her other volunteer experiences so far in her high school career. And when I asked her what it was about her that was unique as it pertained to the hospital volunteer experience she shared with me that her now 10 year old brother was diagnosed with cancer at 18 mos old and how she remembered all the treatments, the care and the experience that she was a part of in a family that had such a difficult thing happen to them.

That pretty much sealed the deal for me in my choice. Up until that point, I saw a lot of myself in her. After learning what she and her family had been through, I realized she was way ahead of me already.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Just logged into the daycare "Watch your kid while you are at work" webcam, which I rarely do anymore. But, as you can read in previous posts, we have been on the potty train this week. We have been in pullups all week, but have stayed dry every day with the exception of a few instances of #2 (blech!) And so I have been telling him that he's doing great and soon he will get to wear a pair of big boy underpants, of which we currently have an assortment on display in a basket in his bathroom to entice him, including Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, Ernie, Thomas the Train and his favorite - 3 pairs showcasing the Pixar film - Cars. Last night as he made the last trip into the bathroom for the night, he picked up his favorite pair of underpants - featuring the ever cool Lightning McQueen, laid them on the bathroom floor, smoothed them out and bent over and kissed them. Lightning has a power in our house that is unsurpassed by anything.

So, I had to check to see if he's still in the same shorts I sent him in to school today because as we were getting dressed today he picked up his Lightning McQueen big boy underpants and held them out, looking at me with those big blue eyes as if to say,

"Mommy I can do it, I promise...please can I wear them?"

And so off to school he went.

And he's still in those same shorts and it's 3:15pm.

My little man is, as he says, "getting BIGGER!"

Ah the power of Cars continues to dominate the Rath household.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


If I'd written this post on Friday, the title would have been something like "Looks Like We'll Wait a While" or "Regress" but alas, just when you think you know what the heck is going on as a parent, BAM! New day.

So, last week Jack was on the rollercoaster of potty training. Went to school in big boy underpants everyday and stayed dry all the way ...not a small feat when you consider we have about a 45 minute drive, and one day it was more like an hour. However, once there, although he would wake up from nap and RAN to the potty and made it, for the most part the days were filled with "accidents", sometimes in the middle of the room and sometimes standing right in front of the potty.

On Wednesday, the day of his graduation party, I dreaded thinking how he would likely have an accident, especially with all the extra parents and siblings in the room. And although I initially wasn't planning on going, the teachers convinced me to change my mind since they had a short program planned with a song and a little ceremony where each child was given a small construction paper medal to wear around their neck with a "best" moniker...Jack Rath - "Best Nature Lover". (I'm told he likes to lay on his cot at nap and look out the windows into the woods behind the center and watch for deer - go figure.) Cute moment, eh?

Not so cute moment - as the class sat in a circle ready to sing the song they likely practiced for months, my child turns facing me and all the other parents (instead of his friends) and says "I don't want Mommy be here!" Fabulous, and I was fighting the guilt the whole day that I had sacrificed being there later in the week for Duke's party. I'm thinking now I should have stuck with the 20 month old celebrations.

He did have an accident, 30 seconds after both his teacher and I asked him if he needed to sit on the potty. So by Friday when I picked up and learned that he'd had several accidents that morning and was in a pull up, I was fully prepared to go right back to the safety of his Cars pull-ups to try again in another month.

But that's just when BAM! shows up.

Saturday were a day of firsts:
First time tells me on his own that he needs to sit on the potty.
First time he makes it nearly an entire day dry between trips to the potty.
First time he calls me back to his room (by the way he is now in a "big boy" bed") so he can sit on the potty because he has more "pee pee coming out" and actually makes it to the toilet.

So, how about that! We are still relying on the pull ups rather than big boy underpants, mainly because he transitions to a new room at daycare Thursday and I really don't want to dump on the teachers a child who will likely be more interested in his new surroundings than keeping track of his body telling him when "it's coming!"

Of course, might be the cool new Melissa and Doug stamp kit his Mommy bought him on Friday to use as a reward if he actually puts his pee pee in the potty.

Either way, on we go.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Potty Training...I Think We Started?

in March...we started wearing Pull Ups that month. My mistake, if I had any idea how this was supposed to work I would not have been paying through my nose to only frustrate myself for nearly 6 months knowing that eventually the kid might actually tell me when he's ready.

I have not pushed, in fact I would like them both to be in diapers/pull ups for as long as possible because then I don't have to repeat myself 20 times an hour "Jack? Are you still dry?" "Jack? Do you need to sit on the potty?" "Jack, tell Mommy if you need to tee tee." Or worry on our 45 minute commute if my car is going to smell like pee for the rest of the time I own it.

Usually I am ignored when I question him. This weekend I got a new response, "Don't talk." or "Stop Talking Mommy!" I read this as progress?

The girls at daycare assure me it is. He pleaded to wear "the highway ones" (Cars underpants) today and I let him. And he went through all 3 pairs of extra shorts and Elmo underpants I left at school with him. But I am told that's normal.

Let's hope so.

Duke isn't far behind.

And based on my level of stress with it, I may hire someone to deal with the second round.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Cute is My Kid?

I'm not that into myself, you know that, but since I haven't had time to upload new pics, I will just direct you to my sister in law's site, where she did!

How cute is this, I love you Natalie!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The List

It is never ending, but I have managed the following this week:

  • Have the kids back on a schedule of some sort, at least one that does not involve an all out screaming fit of "I don't want to brush my teeth!" prior to bedtime that escalates into an hour and a half wrestling match into a crib.
  • Posted nearly all of the infant/baby items that we no longer need and want to sell on Craig's List - with pics that I took a month ago!
  • Uninstalled (after multiple failed attempts) a corrupt Quicktime application on Cory's laptop, reinstalled iTunes and connected and sync'd his new iPhone.
  • Logged into facebook and actually connected with some friends instead of just checking the live feed off my phone app.
  • Avoided my own meltdown at the office due to having 4 colleagues out on vacation this week and wanting to strangle a few that were left behind.
  • Shipped two book requests from and am considering just what 4 I want to request free for my credits.
  • Restored my home to near normal cleanliness after visitors departed this weekend (we miss you already!)
  • Donated our 3 bags of gently worn clothes to Hannah Home (after the 6 months they have been residing in our garage).
  • Bought $116 worth of this week's groceries for only $70 - I LOVE PUBLIX!
  • Saw an allergist and actually will stop ignoring and start treatment for the annoying nasal allergies I have been suffering from for the past 10 years.
  • Setup a sitter for two adult only nights out in August.
  • Played a game of indoor baseball "Mommy, it's YOUR turn!" with the boys (all 3 of them).
  • Sharpened both ends of all their crayons to make it a no brainer choosing which end will color best (all while keeping Duke from chewing on every one he could get his hands on).
  • Posted to this blog.
  • Found a shrieking 19mo old's paci in the near pitch dark of his room after staring at computer screens for the past 3 hours and silenced him seconds later (I know, I's just as much my habit as his!)

Not bad, considering it's only Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ending the guilt

Has it been a month? Really?

Yes I know fully well how long it's been since I've posted because every night as I laid my head down on my pillow I'd think of the post I meant to write and now I have something like 26 that I want to do. Such as the awesome time I had in Racine with old friends (ahem, as in from a long time ago, not aged!), the break I had from 24/7 Mommy in Orlando last week (even if it revolved around work), the amazing community service event I participated in with my church in downtown Birmingham and just the multitude of craziness that has overtaken our summer. Well they will get here somehow, but for now I'm just playing with my new iPhone and discovering I can now blog on the go.

This could get fun.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


My devoted readers, I do apologize once again for the extended hiatus from keeping you ever so entertained with my humorous existence. I intended to blog from the road, first from the lake trip to Cory's parents in Tennesse, and second from my trip back home to Racine, for my 20th High School Class Reunion. Both deserve entries in their own right, and I will be posting in the near future with flashback moments, so do not stray far. However, with those two trips and life in between and recent events, I have not had the time to spend like I want to - and the reunion by all means deserves much attention! Tonite however brought a morsel of reality to my week that I felt I had to share.

I had a short week last week in between returning from Tennessee on Sunday and flying out to Wisconsin on Thursday, most of it spent working, laundering, re-packing and settling Cory into what he needed for the boys while I was away. One of which was a plan to build a beach for our lake so they could enjoy the water as much as they did the weekend we were at my inlaws. That leads into the manic week we've had since I returned. And let me apologize in advance to my mother in law who is reading this and learning it for the first time...I have not had a moment to call and catch you up...and I needed this break for my sanity!

Cory built the beach while the kids were in school and while I was away. However, in the midst of it, he neglected his own well being in favor of getting it finished in between working and not having the kids underfoot, which meant the hotest time of the day and found himself in the throes of heat exhaustion by Friday night. (Note to husbands out there, avoid mentioning such things as illnesses that could potentially keep you from being able to manage your children on your own while your wife is away on a trip that requires a plane to get her home.)

He assured me he was fine on Saturday. And even Sunday, he seemed fairly well, tired, but that was assumed to be due to having the kids entirely by himself for 4 days.

Monday afternoon, I started to get a bit concerned when he said he was planning to nap because he thought he was still feeling some effects from the heat exhaustion. And by 5:30 when he called while I was at my church small group meeting for our summer community outreach to tell me he just woke up, I got even more concerned. He said he spoke to his pharmicist buddy who told him he probably wasn't replacing what he needed with just water, but rather should get some Gatorade, along with calcium, potassium and magnesium. Since we were headed to Publix, I could handle the Gatorade and told him to just down one of my leftover prenatal vitamins for now and the next day, he needed to see a doc.

Tuesday came, doc was booked, he said he felt better, just his back was locked up. Probably from the mattress at his mom's (again, sorry Ruth Ann!). So instead he made a visit to the chiropractor. That afternoon - seemingly better. That is until I got home.

All through dinner prep, he was sighing, that "oh, I feel so miserable" sigh. At first, my instinct was, "For Pete's sake! Get over it already, I'm home!". I even went so far to tell him to go to bed and leave me with the kids, I couldn't take the martydom anymore. But later, after I got the kids to bed, he came out of the bedroom and was shaky and said he felt really hot. I felt his forehead, and in a second, told him to get in the shower. I took his temp - it was 105.4. I dropped the air conditioning down to 70 degrees in our room, gave him two ibuprofen and put a fan on him while he held ice packs under his arms until his temp dropped to 102 an hour later and then eventually to 99.3 when we went to bed.

This morning, fever still hanging on but not as high, since the kids are out of daycare the rest of the week, I called in to work and sent him out to the Urgent Care Clinic.

And waited. He called at 8:45 from his doctor - they worked him in so he didn't have to wait at the UCC.

I waited.

He called an hour later, he was on an IV and they were setting up a chest xray.

I waited.

Finally just before noon he called and said he was halfway through the 2nd IV and all the test were negative for any kind of damage from heat exhaustion/stroke. They found a virus in his lungs, I guess through the xray. Apparently from the sinus infection that still didn't seem to have completely gone away, and when the heat exhaustion set in last week, it opened the door and his body just couldn't fight it. So after 5 shots, 2 IVs and prescriptions for 10 days of 2 other antibiotics, he came home.

He's been in bed since, probably will be until Friday according to the doc. I can tell you my emotions have ranged from anger at his lack of care for himself and the risk he could have brought to the kids because of it, to frustration at getting behind in things at home and work playing single parent on a week I had planned for having help. But all were usurped by the fear of what I'd have done if the outcome had been worse, heat stroke can lead to permanent organ damage, even death; and what would I tell the kids (which brought back another round of the anger, short lived, but there nonetheless).

I am settled now, checking on him regularly, glad he's home and we know what we should watch for. His fever is still hanging on, but lower, and should break by tomorrow. And I'm relieved, for reasons you all can imagine.

This brings me, the long way to the short story, of what lightened me up tonite.

Jack has been working hard at using his manners, more specifically, instead of "I want my water, snack, etc.", it's "Please may I have..." But always, it's my prompt that brings him to it.

So tonite, he's in the tub, yelling to me in the kitchen "I want my water, I want my water, I want my water!" I'm tired, I grab the water, but before I offer it, I catch myself and remind him, "Jack, we need to use our manners when we want something." He responds, "I want something." To which I reply, "Then use your manners to ask for something that you want."

The light bulb behind those blue eyes with the long eyelashes did not flicker, didn't brighten as if on a dimmer switch, it turned full on that instant.

"Please may I go to Old McDonald's!"

I have no doubt that someday, a long time from now, he will still be the one to put perspective back into my day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Why do I do this?

I think my brain is wired to be an apothecary table - think episode of Friends - The One where Rachel REALLY wanted such a dresser of many drawers from Pottery Barn but had to lie to Phoebe about buying at an antique shop because Phoebe was absolutely against buying anything at Pottery Barn?

I have all these little drawers in my little mind and each one holds an idea, task, need, desire, addiction, project, purpose, hope, dream....and on and on and on.

I open up one, get really involved in it, tweak it, get it almost finished and ready to remove from said drawer and then sadly, I must close it and open another because there are something around 63 other drawers that are staring at me in the face still closed that I need to get back to (or started).

When exactly do you get to the point of just opening a drawer, working on the contents to completion and then closing it, empty but feeling satisfied that you do not need to fill it with yet something else.

Just curious. Does that ever really happen?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sweet Silence!

I am jinxing myself...I just know it!

As mentioned, I stepped up the discipline (and no - I am not "popping his bottom" every chance I get)...but have been conscious to be even more consistent and patient (and strangely calm in te past week) in my dealings with Jack's uprisings. Could it be the recent breaks I've gotten traveling to California and Missouri, my birthday? Could it be watching Crystal give him a 7 minute timeout on Sunday when he was acting up while the Schober's were over and it working and me realizing he actually can follow instruction better than I give him credit for? Whatever it is, I've been rewarded...

Barely a peep at bedtime with our new routine.

Clare - you almost called it. I didn't give him a "pass" to call me back, but I did institute a 5-10 minute reading time in his bed after lights out, and I come back to rub his back for a couple minutes and then I'm gone, completely, not going back. And it's working. 20 minutes of crying last night...2 min. tonite tops!

I can hardly believe it.
Sleep training miracle? Leaving the terrible two's behind? Finally wore the little bugger down?

We'll see how tomorrow goes...

Oh, did I mention Duke now responds, Yes Ma'am, when I ask, "Do you understand?"
2nd shot at this might last a bit shorter. (I know, now I AM jinxing myself!)

Monday, June 1, 2009

When You Know What to Do, But Then Blow It

That seems to be the theme for the past several weeks. And although it has run through more than one aspect of my life lately, I will only write about a single topic that it seems to be pervasive with, the discipline machine and Jack.

Before all of my supportive friends and family start giving sweet "hang in there", "it's just a phase" and "it gets easier" comments; let me just say...don't want to hear them. I already know. I repeat these mantras to myself daily, actually, hourly. Unfortunately, it's the actual "hanging in there" I am having an issue with.

I have seemed to make a small breakthrough with the child and a bit of headway. He is acting upon my direction more quickly. I'm more patient in letting him get to the ultimate conclusion that I want him to make instead of speeding him toward what I want him to do. This avoids the formerly inevitable meltdown followed by demon possession that we had been experiencing. Hooray for me, right? Well, I got there by way of a method I had hoped to avoid - "popping his bottom". And up until tonite, it was used sparingly, because after the first two episodes, all I had to do was tell him if he didn't do what I'd asked he would get his bottom popped. And it actually worked. Unfortunately, when you make a slight change in that methodology it can back fire on you. Badly.

Tonight, another round of bedtime battles. Things on the weekend are relatively easy, the kid is exhausted after playing outside all day and I keep his nap short. But during the week, he naps or has quiet time for 2 hours and the activity level isn't quite that high. So although he needs to be in bed and asleep by 8pm, in my opinion, he is just restless. And it's not that he's overtired, honestly, he just hasn't gotten to the point of sleepy yet. However, this mama is ready for no kid time at 8pm and so there's got to be a compromise.

Back to tonite, he's in bed at 8pm, lights out and told I will check on him in 5 minutes. New attempt at avoiding the screaming fest that happens whenever I leave his room. That works...and I wait, a bit longer than 5 minutes, but I have to go back in or I'm toast with my promise. So I do, and he seems fine, until I leave. Then it's an hour long screaming, throwing, crying, attempting to negotiate, mess. And after being in and out of the room several times, loosing my patience and close to my sanity, I do the unthinkable...I ASK him if he wants his bottom popped. And he says Yes. Brilliant move.

Well, he got it popped, I felt horrible (and still do) and he wins tonite's round. I went back in 15 minutes later and picked him up and sat in the chair with him until he was nearly asleep and the feelings of being the worst mother in the world abated for the time being.

I believe future popping will be left to Daddy. Mommy just can't manage the guilt.

Monday, May 25, 2009


We hosted our 2nd Memorial Day Party in the Countryside on Sunday this weekend. And although the weather had been forecasted to be miserable...and in many places in Birmingham, it was...we couldn't have asked for a more perfect day!

Last year was going to be tough to beat, with fantastic sun and skies. We were certainly hoping for that to duplicate this year, with having the lake as an added attraction that we prepared with extra kayaks and a water trampoline. All week we watched as a tropical depression hung over Florida and the gulf coast and prayed it might miraculously disappear. And although the morning was miserable with rain and we moved the tables into the garage/barn just in case, at noon the skies parted and by 2pm it was sunny, hot and beautiful, perfect weather for fun in the lake and with friends. And apparently our place was in the minority, since just a few miles up the road it poured cats and dogs all day! I guess we had angels looking over us after all!

Thanks to all of you that stuck it out and took the chance - we were so glad to have you out to our place and enjoyed every minute of you being here! You all brought wonderful food to share, and it's always great to see how all the kids are growing. From the big kids who are kayaking and catching more frogs and toads than I would have thought possible, to the little ones that are making new creations in the sandbox. It's so great to get out of the normal routine of life and take a day to spend with all our friends, old and new, as well as their extended family and friends. And a big thanks to Aunt Kay, Crystal, and all of you that played "Hey, keep eyes on my kid(s) a minute!" for me while I ran inside to grab this that or the other needed item. And Angela for helping me do a little clean up at the last call of the night.

Here are some photos, again, I wish I'd have snapped more, guess there's always next year!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lake Pics

Apparently I have a great memory, with the exception of things requested by my husband . So, for those of you that have been awaiting the pics of the lake that have not seen them on facebook...behold...Sterling Creek Lake!

This image was after the first full rain that took the lake level all the way up.

The following is a little more recent pic, taken closer to shore. For those of you coming to the party this Sunday - bring your suits - the water is GORGEOUS (Sterling Creek well named)!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Clare's Story

Quick post. Clare (my sister) is being featured today on the Live in our Skinz blog written by another survivor of melanoma. For those of you that are fans of Grey's Anatomy, you know how deadly melanoma can be. Click HERE for the interview and Clare's Cancer Story.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Duke and Mae are Smiling!

That's my Grandfather Duke & Grandmother Mae Dickert. Because today, their grandson, John Dickert, my cousin, just was elected to serve the city of Racine, WI as Mayor for the next 18 months. The reasons for the special election are not something I wish to share, but suffice to say, John will finally have the opportunity to do what God made him for. To lead and inspire through public service. Congratulations John! Racine is a better place with you leading the way!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

YaYa's Visit

After listening for the past 4 months of all the extras my Dad has been able to do to help my sisters in their daily lives since semi-retiring, I decided it was my turn and flew him down to Birmingham for 5 days to experience this phenomenon. I may claim swine flu status and move his flight home back about 2 weeks!

Since his arrival on Wednesday night, he's helped me complete this year's round of landscaping, stained two end tables that I've wanted done for at least 5 years, got a few holes drilled in my redwing crocks and spent an entire day at the zoo with me and the boys (drenching rain at the start and all!). It has been an absolutely fantastic time having him here...and he even gets to have his own "man cave" at night in our office which doubles as our guest suite. I don't think it could have resulted in any more perfect a trip (other than of course his staying over for about two weeks!)

Here are some photos of the weekend so far. Tomorrow we have church, followed by a little more landscaping and probably capped off by another cookout with the neighbors and some time in the lake, this time in the form of a leisurely dip rather than a sudden drenching (Dad got a bit too close to the edge of the dock while helping Cory put the new water trampoline in on Friday!).

It's not going to be easy putting him back on a plane on Monday. Hmmmm, Clare and Ali, maybe you need to start bribing me now. I've got LOTS of frequent flyer miles still saved up!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Small Moments in a LONG Week

I may have finally worn him down. Jack that is, and the bedtime struggle. The last three nights it's been between 1-2 hours of crying, screaming, throwing, you name it. The poor kid is hoarse from all of it, his little voice is all crackly. But tonite, 20 minutes into it and he's settled down with only an occaisional peep. Probably predicated on his being outside from the minute we got home until bath, but either way, works for me.

So, Daddy gets home later (much later, probably midnight according to his call at 6pm) and I have just a bit of time to wrap up the week. And what better way to do it then share a pic of the other kid. You know, the one that sleeps all night, seems happy, most of the time at least, and is genuinely still in the pre-terrible 2's. He has his moments mind you, man can he get MAD!, but overall, sweet kid, just happy to be here.

I put him in the tub tonite, and prayed for no pooping, I felt I was in the clear, but then again, who wouldn't have thought that after the third time on Wednesday. The affected toys, etc. were still in a bucket on the floor, which I didn't particularly think about when I put him in the tub and when I came back in after having gone into the other room for some reason, I found this

But thankfully, this was among the items I had bleached and rinsed after the mess and no, it had not been used since. Little stinker had reached out and grabbed it up. But priceless for the photo op.

Jack's teeth are seemingly fine, nothing loose, nothing swollen and nothing turning weird colors. So maybe all will be fine when we go for xrays week after next. I've asked him several times if they hurt and he tells me, no...and in this case I think he means it instead of the random NO!

And looks like my weekend is already looking up. Daddy just called (it's 9pm) and said he is actually only 45 minutes away! (Helps that NASCAR is at Talladega this weekend so all the fans are exhibiting their speed on the interstate) And not a peep in 10 minutes...I might just enjoy the silence for a little while.

Thanks all for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers...looks like they worked :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Can't Get Any Better Than This

I am sitting in my room with LOST on the tube, listening to Jack's second night without paci and the latest rendition of "I need my Maaahhmmeee" coming over the monitor. line just hollered, "I wanna get down!", tonite might get even more interesting which I truly didn't think would be possible after the past 36 hours, especially considering what happened at bath tonite.

That's right, life in my house has gone to a new level.

For those of you in the know, you are aware our blessed baby, actually I guess he is technically a toddler now at 16 mos, Duke, is a tub pooper. I guess you could call it occaissional, but on that little trick anything more than once a year in my opinion is a trend. My friend Lara at the office has reminded me several times that you aren't truly a parent until you've chased poop around the tub with your bare hands, well, let me say I've done it, more than once, verging on often, usually while Cory is out of town.

Back to tonite. And please excuse the following three details, but they are significant to the overall was nearing time for bath, both kids had just pooped but had not yet been changed and when Duke poops, it's usually in tandem - one, and about 5 minutes later, the second show.

So, as we are watching Word World both darlings do their daily business, and honestly I feel like it's perfect timing since it's clean them up and put them to bed next. So, Duke goes first and like his usual self, second show is just about ready to begin. And what better opportunity for him to do it right there on the potty. He's too young to potty train of course, but when things are right there and set-up for his brother, may as well skip the step of dumping it from the diaper and having him put it right there on his own. Which he does, so clean up his bum and into the tub.

Now it's Jack's turn, but we have to start with brushing teeth, then washing hands, and next, changing pullup. Great, perfect, clean the bum and socks off and then ... crap ... literally, in the tub, again. Guess Duke decided tonite he'd perform the Triple Lindy. Fabulous. Really. But stick with me, it gets WAY better. And best you start the visual imaging from here, 'cause I promise it gets really good.

Jack, still in his t-shirt and socks but pantless, is told to seat himself on the step stool by the sink while I simultaneously grab Duke around the chest and catch the last of the poop coming out of his butt with my other hand. That gets tossed in the toilet and Duke gets laid on the towel on the floor, butt wiped and hands and feet and anything else that was touching water that had poop floating in it quickly scanned and wiped down. Remaining poop, and poop tub toys, thrown in the toilet and sink and water drained while I grab the bottle of Spray Bleach from under the sink and quickly spray everything down. Jack, thankfully, is still sitting quietly on the stool watching all of this when I realize there is a spot of poop on the towel Duke is laying on. So up he goes, naked to sit on the 2nd stool next to Jack. I am about finished wiping down the tub enough to be able to put the kids back in it, when I see the 4th quarter come out of Duke, onto the stool, and his hands, and his foot and the rug and the floor and onto Jack who decides this is a good time to hold hands with his brother Duke.

Don't laugh, it could have been you, on 4 hours sleep from the night before, with poop everywhere. But wait, there's more.

Duke gets set back on the potty, at least that way he can safely go into overtime if necessary. Jack is told to stand up and wash his hands in the sink, by a mother that has completely forgotten that's where the poop tub toys are and which he begins playing with instead of washing his hands. Duke is wiggling on the toilet, I get Jack's hands clean and turn around to see the dog licking the poop off the rug and floor.

Yep, it's just doesn't get any better than this. I guess in some way, this is my payback for laying on a beach for 6 hours on Friday. Either way, those 6 hours kept me from losing my mind tonite. Instead I am still laughing about it.

I have to, it's an hour since I started this post and although the "I wanna get down" cries are staggered occaissionally by 30 seconds of silence, they are still echoing through the damn monitor. Wait, here's a new one, and no doubt he's defnitely working it now "I need tee tee potty!"

Looks like another glass of wine for me tonite. Did I mention Cory gets back on Friday?

For Those Wondering

I've talked and facebooked with some of you on the results of the dental visit, but in a nutshell here's where things stand.

His two top front teeth did show trauma, whatever that means. You can see on the back side of the teeth at the gumline where they were pulled away from the gum a bit. The dentist, who I genuinely liked, did not take xrays yet because at first glance he could see they were loose and painful. So we go back in 2 weeks for those. Right now he said soft foods for 2 weeks and a couple things could happen.

  • They could be fine.
  • They could abcess, in a week, in a month, in a year and need to be pulled.
  • They could turn gray.
  • They could be fractured at the root and need pulled.
  • So, basically that's all we know. He had a rough time at dinner, spoon caused pain when he was eating some yogurt, then didn't want any pasta. Straw cup doesn't work well unless he remembers to put it to the side of his mouth.

    We'll see how today goes. Just hoping for the first option above to happen.

    Regardless, the paci was a no brainer. I was not going to take a chance at making things worse by giving it to him. Especially since it eventually has to go away anyway. Nothing like being forced into that decision :(

    So, that being said, last night did not go what I would categorize as a good first night without the paci.

    At 10:30 after 2+ hours of him crying and me in and out of his room to calm him down I finally gave in and rubbed his back until he fell asleep (took less than 3 minutes, he was so exhausted).

    He was up again at 1:30am for 30 minutes and again at 4:30am for an hour. I am not heartless and just letting him "cry" for those of you that think that is heartless, but am trying to console him without creating more of a mess and substituting myself for his not having a paci.

    Not once in the night did he ask for his paci by name. I thought that was interesting.

    I prepped him at bathtime about the paci by telling him I heard he took his nap without a paci, to which he replied "yep" and then said that the Paci Fairy had come to take his other paci's and give them to the baby geese (we see a lot of those this time of year). And that George, a friendly monkey (we were given a Curious George stuffed doll and book at Christmas by my cousin Jill and I had squandered it away for a later day) had come to say thank you and stay with him instead.

    We read books with George which he thought was especially cool and had our usual bedtime, then the long night began.

    Intead the crying started as "I go by Mommy (pronounced mahhhhmeeee)" which moved to "I want Mommy!" then onto "I need Mommy!" and occaisional substitution of Mommy with "taggie" (his blanket) when he chucked that out of the bed hoping I'd come in to retrieve it for him (he gets 1 chance at it and knows if a 2nd time happens it's gone) and/or "water" which he did not get.

    He has just fallen back asleep (which I will have to get him up for school in an hour) and will no doubt be exhausted today, as I can guarantee I will be as well, only to have to likely repeat this joyous experience again tonite.

    So, that's the night in a nutshell. I knew this day would eventually come, though I had hoped he would be a more cooperative part of the process by giving the paci up on his own, instead of being forced to do so because of this injury. And I'm not certain I want to answer a bunch of phone calls and emails about the experience yet, so don't be suprised if this is the only mention from me today.

    I'd really rather not relive it until I have to, which I expect will begin about 14 hours from now.

    I do want to thank many of you for the emails and fb comments of support. I do appreciate it!

    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Paci Goes Bye Bye...

    Just got a call from daycare. Jack took a tumble on the playground and knocked his front teeth on the concrete. One is loose and bleeding at the gumline slightly. I called a pediatric dentist and we have an appointment at 3pm. Since nap time is post haste, I am keeping him there for nap and will pick him up after for the appointment. However, instructions given - no paci at naptime. Can't risk it causing further problems.

    Looks like we'll be going cold turkey on it tonite. No time like the present.

    Stay tuned.

    I think I will have plenty of time to post on this past weekend's trip to the beach too, I'd imagine I will be awake a few extra hours over the next few nights.

    Wish me luck (Daddy got revenge, he's in Kentucky until Friday night!)

    Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Where Did My Baby Go?

    It was time. People in the grocery store would comment, "She's soooo cute!" - why, I have no idea since my kids don't even own a yellow shirt that might be mistakenly confused for something a little girl would wear.

    So I bit the bullet, we got Duke's hair cut. A real hair cut (no trimmers just yet, but may as well have).

    Later last night, out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the kids bending over to pick up a toy, and for a split second I thought it was Jack. But it wasn't, it was Baby Duke...growing up.

    Posted by Picasa

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Overheard (or seen)

    Mommy to Duke upon pickup at daycare tonite:

    "Ms. Jordan will get you some more snack before we leave, (as Ms. Jordan hands Duke the cup of animal crackers), what do you say?"


    Signs his hand across his chest for "please!" (for the first time!)

    All Mommy hoped for was a thank you, since he knows that sign. First time I've seen him respond to a question other than Eat? with sign language!

    These are the days I live for!

    Sunday, March 15, 2009

    Facelift Needed, Any ProBono Surgeons?

    I'm not exactly looking for a facelift...more like a "shape"lift, "style"lift. I went shopping last Sunday for a whole 2 hours without kids, which was fantastic, except that I spent the entire time trying on clothes and then second guessing every choice and ultimately walked out of The Gap with yet another "favorite T" in white.

    Why is it that I find it so hard to find my style? I know part of the problem is I have a very adverse reactions to spending money on myself. (It's a Sarah thing, and I fear it will never change, which may be my downfall in all of this) I will buy for the kids, for my friends, for my family, even for charity, yet I will not part with more than $20 for a pair of jeans that I will wear for no less than 5 years. I'm serious! My outfit this a.m. to church consisted of a pair of gray slacks-purchased circa 2003; a black cashmere v-neck-Christmas gift from Cory, same year; black boots-purchased on same trip as gray slacks; and aforementioned Gap white favorite t. The only other items on my body less than 6 years old consisted of unmentionables that must be replaced at least a few times a year for fear of driving away my spouse.

    Part of the issue also stems from the fact that I HATE TO SHOP. I know, I was meant to be born a boy. I am starting to be more and more convinced that something happened at birth that my parents have refused to admit, I really was Benjamin Burgess. (Benji, can you imagine what would have happened to that poor kid when the movie in the mid 70s came out?!)

    About 2 years ago I stole my sister Clare's latest day style, which consisted of layering Gap, J Crew, etc. t's. LOVED IT! Great for runinng around with small kids, comfy, cozy, and although I can get away with it at the office because I have a FANTASTIC job, it's time for a change toward something a little more appropriate for one approaching 40 (EGADS!) Clare has the luck of having a body that can wear anything and look good. Plus she's far more feminine than I manage - I do live on a farm after all. And add to that the gift of ta-ta's from my mother and you have a recipe for fashion disaster!

    My sister Ali sent me a link months ago to a website called My Shape where you enter all your measurements and it sets a profile for you and suggests clothing based on your size and body style. I finally logged on today and well, let's just say I am now even MORE depressed about the shopping thing. The only saving grace is that I attempted to measure myself since Cory is out bulding a dock on the pond today and so I am praying that I just did a poor job at it and therefore the shape it returned is not in fact the right one for me. If it is, I will be stepping up the daily excersie regimen a notch this week!

    Cory, bless his heart (southern snark!), tries to assuage my depression in this arena. But it's just not going to work for him. He's a guy, his dream was to live on a farm and work in the great outdoors, he would be happy in a flannel and jeans, every day. However, since I have no aversion to buying clothes for him at the holidays and he received numerous freebie shirts from the companies we work for, he does have some variety. Honestly, I have less clothes in our closet than he does - because #1 I hold onto anything that I do like for decades, and #2 if I don't wear it I get rid of it. So combine that with not shopping save for maybe one trip a year to the outlet in Tennessee where my in-laws live, I am being serious - he has more clothes than I do.

    So, if any of you reading this are friends here in town, do whatever it takes to drag my resistant to change self out of the house and shopping with you...and soon! Don't take no for an answer and don't let me try to come up with excuses about how Cory has been out of town so much and the kids need to have family time on the weekend. I will throw every one of them at you, but you must be strong and willful against me. Something must change because I want to be the hip 40 mom and I have only 2 years to get there and at the rate I'm going....well, Gap t's are timeless, aren't they?

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009

    Victoria - This One's For You!

    We have many sweet neices...

    Alyssa, our oldest and therefore the quiet, responsible one (much like her mother);

    Haley, the only daughter of Cory's brother who is our fashion queen yet brainiac...what an awesome mix!;

    Hannah, the child of animals, she has a gift with them - they speak to her and she speaks to them in a way no one else can match;

    Caroline, the only niece on my side of the family, (can any more be said?), she is sweet and precocious and let's just say....she's Caroline;

    and then there is Victoria...she's not the youngest (at least in the mix of grandkids), she's not the oldest, but boy does she have something! Victoria has the gift of living life to the fullest. We have become e-mail pals and she never ceases to amaze me with the wisdom she has beyond her years...(ok V, come down from the clouds for a minute... :) Honestly, I love to read other momblogs and one I love for her humor and insight is Mom-101 who I read about in Parents magazine about a year ago, and I was completely honored to have her post a comment to my blog one day and yet the idea for the post came from Victoria herself! (I secretly sometimes wish I was a NY brownstone living chick who worked in a high rise (or my NY apartment) and had the wit and humor to write my own weekly column!)

    I like to think of Victoria was the 4th child in a family that was made to have 10 - always on the go and always crazy with this and that but with more than enough love to go around. She loves to laugh and tease and tell jokes (what's that one about the Mexican and the colors again?) and has a smile that will put you in a good mood no matter how your day went. And often, her e-mails do just that for me.

    So, Victoria, you may have already seen this video from a few weeks ago on facebook (if your Mom let you have a peek) but if not...enjoy, this one is for you (because I think if you were here, you would have been on the slide right there with them!)

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009

    Amazing things happen to those who are patient

    Waiting is just not fun, anticipation can be, such as in the birth of a child. Most of us are familiar with seeing that pink line on a pregnancy test at somewhere between 6 weeks and 3 months into a pregnancy...the shorter end if you are trying like mad to make a baby and the longer end if you are hoping like mad it's just a fluke and #.... isn't really coming so soon after the last one!

    Well, imagine waiting nearly 3 years for the birth of your baby. Somewhere the anticipation loses it's muster and becomes waiting. But then, as the waiting lingers, you learn the art of patience and just then is when the most amazing reward for not allowing the patience to become see your baby for the very first time!

    I am trying, and probably horribly at that, to describe what I imagine my dear friend from years gone by, Sian and her husband Brette and daughter Ava, have just experienced. They have just announced the confirmation of the adoption of their second daughter!

    I am so happy for them and excited for this next journey the three will take to China to welcome their little girl to the amazing amount of love they have built up to give her.

    Congratulations McDonald family of four! I am so thrilled for your excitement! There is nothing more amazing than the addition of a new baby to a family! Enjoy every minute of this new adventure!

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    Returning to Sarah

    Something happens when you make a life change. Whether that be a change in career, a change of venue, marriage, kids, you name it, something happens to you. Hopefully it's a positive something, if not you may need to rethink your plan.

    However, over the past few weeks I have come to realize that I may have morphed a little too far into something I hadn't planned on being...That Mom. You know, the one that seems to always turn the conversation, no matter the topic, back to her kids. I swore up and down when the decision was made we'd start a family that I wouldn't be That Mom. I promised myself I would show just as much interest in my friends lives and goings on and that things wouldn't change that much. Oh and that I would never give my kids a bath each and every night...that lasted all of a week after getting home from the hospital... See? There I go again!

    Alright, I'm picking fun at myself some. I am actually pretty good at recognizing when I have a fault and working to correct it. It's taken me more time than I'd like to admit to have earned that trait, and I can definitely attribute it to my faith in God, but I feel confident I am on the way to perfecting it.

    Last night I spent a fantastic evening out with a Mommy friend, Leslie, at a fabulous wine bar in Mountain Brook. We sat and sipped wine and talked, about everything, for nearly 5 hours (ok, those of you that know me well can stop - I was NOT the only one talking:)) But it was the most fantastic 5 hours I have spent in a long time that didn't involve my husband or kids and I needed the chick time! Leslie and I "see" each other nearly every day when we drop our kids at daycare, but we rarely get the chance for more than a 5 minute coversation. When we do, we are both amazed at how similar yet different our lives are, but how we come to the same conclusions regardless.

    It's after last night that I realized it's this Sarah that I'd been missing. Not that I need a night out with wine and women to find her, but it gave me a span of time when I didn't need to have my mind wrapped around 15 different things going on at once. I could simply enjoy the taste of the South African pinotage, the sound of the acoustic guitar, the flickering of the candles and concentrate 100% on the conversation in front of me (without ears pricked up for the backround noise).

    I had a similar experience back in the fall when I took a one day (not even an overnight) business trip to Pittsburgh to call on Dick's Sporting Goods. It had been over a year since the last time I had been on a flight without a child in my arms - and nearly 3 years since I'd flown without being pregnant (remember, I only had 5 months of that status between January 2006 and November 2007!) And it wasn't so much that I missed all the travel, but I realized I still had that hungry, go get 'em, Sheela, business woman within me that could command a meeting and sound intelligent and respected for my insight on the subject at hand.

    Now, I'm not ditching my kids and getting on the road, or starting some monthly or weekly "women only" outings. I love my boys and just like everyone that has kids, I love talking about them and sharing their exciting moments. But I feel pretty sure I'm going to try and make a conscious effort to do a little more blogging on life in general, thoughts wandering in my head, snippets of what I find interesting and insightful, instead of a constant report on what the kids are doing, eating and saying.

    So those of you that love the kid updates, they'll still be here, there just might be a little more fodder as well.

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Heard Around the House

    Once upon a time it was "Mommy help?"

    Shortly thereafter, it became "Mommy do it?" (which was short lived because Mommy usually had more kid than hands around the house to "do it", whatever "it" was)

    So eventually it turned to "Jack do it?" the result of which sometimes reverted back to "Mommy help?" or a very proud "I did it!"

    These are the excited rantings of a 2 1/2 year old who has discovered that it is way more fun to try to do just about everything these days. Completely normal development stage. And although I do not toot my horn very often, I must say, I am slightly amazed at the level of patience even I've shown in allowing Jack to "do it".

    So, some of the "I did it tasks"....

    • taking off our pants and socks completely before bath

    • zipping up our jacket (Mommy starts, Jack finishes)

    • taking off our jacket

    • spooning vegetables onto plates for dinner

    • pumping soap out of the dispenser to wash hands

    • opening the cereal boxes in the morning to help pour into bowls for the ride to school

    And it's this last one that leads me to share this pic of the weekend. It is what happens when taking the cereal boxes out of the pantry, opening and handing them to Mommy to pour, moves to "Jack do it" (when Mommy is in with Duke changing a diaper). Thank goodness the box of Golden Grahams was only 1/8th full or we'd still be crunching crumbs!

    Amazing how that patience thing grows as they do.

    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    Days in the Life of Duke

    I'm on a video run.

    Duke is the funniest kid. I can't really describe to anyone how different he and Jack are, but they are, like night and day in certain ways.

    Jack takes the entire trip to school to eat his cereal (dry of course, we are in the car after all!), taking each piece one by one. Duke makes it about a mile before his handful method has put 1/2 of it in his mouth and 1/2 of it on the floor of my car.

    Jack will (and always has) sit still and read a book with anyone. I remember him bringing us books to read to him at even 14 and 15 months old. Duke lasts about 20 seconds into it and then he's pulling at the pages, squirming to get down.

    Jack is a snuggler. When he was a baby we would rock for 20 minutes before bed, (and sometimes in the middle of the night if he woke up crying, until Duke came around!) And even to this day, every morning when he wakes up, every night when he goes to bed and before and after naps on the weekends, it's "snuggle with Mommy?" - and off we go in the chair for a few minutes of lovey time. I know, melts me! Duke, not so much into the snuggling thing (which completely bums me out!) After about 3 minutes in the chair he's squirming to get put into bed or down on the floor to play. (He does however do the cutest thing when you ask him for some "lovin'", he just lays his head to the side on my shoulder! - again, melts me!)

    However, not to be outshadowed by his big brothers cuteness, Duke is our dancer. Put music on and he's moving to the beat. Bouncing up and down, shaking his fists like he's doing the Wiggles "shimmy shake".

    So, enough said, I'm posting a video here of his Elvis impersonation - I laugh every time I see it. Done to the Wiggles of course, Dr. Knickerbocker - one of Jack's favorites and a nightly staple while dinner is being prepared. Following it is a quick clip of how Duke has decided is the only way to go down the slide. His father was outside with him the first time he decided to take the plunge, at least I think Duke came up with this method (vs. his father showing him how), guess I will never know.

    Jack may be my snuggle bunny, but Duke makes my heart smile just by being in the room!