Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Delightful Dozen

Happy Anniversary to Us! It is our twelfth anniversary. Which means we were married at the young age of 22. Yikes! Now we are old. I know this because it is Saturday night and by 7 p.m. we were done with dinner and yawning - ready for sleep. We swung by S's house to pick up the kids (thanks S!) and were home before 8. Woo hoo. The excitement of it all is just too much, don't you think? In our defense, we have been battling the Never-Ending Evil Cough since before Christmas so really just wanted to stay in bed all day anyway. The fact that we got dressed and left the house at all is remarkable really. If we weren't sick I'm sure we could have stayed out until at least 9 or 10!

All of that aside, dinner was very nice. We tried a new restaurant for our annual Anniversary Steak Dinner. The food was delicious. Even the wine was good (I'm very picky - I only like sweet white!). We chit-chatted about family, friends, the kids, jobs. We reminisced a little about "best married memories" and even had dessert. Even more noteworthy, Ron ate some! I'm not sure how such a total sweet-tooth (me) ended up with such a non-sweet-tooth (him).

Speaking of food... I would like to share with you Ron's 12 Favorite Snacks. It came to my attention a few weeks ago that I had no idea what Ron's all-time favorite snack was. After 12 years you would think I would know that! So I immediately challenged him to list off his top 12 and I WROTE THEM DOWN so that I will always know and then saved the list to publish here for our anniversary. And now you will also know because here they are....

1. French bread and cheese
2. Chips and Salsa
3. Cheese and Triscuits
4. Plain Tortilla Chips
5. Potato chips without ridges (I like Ruffles so that is an important distinction!)
6. Cheez-its
7. Popcorn and milk
8. Mixed nuts, salted
9. Goldfish
10. Dried fruit, in a variety of flavors
11. Pretzels
12. Mexican food of any type - tacos, burritos, enchiladas, taquitos, etc

I know he and his family eat bread and cheese but I always thought it was just something his parents did. Now I know better! And if you had asked me if he liked any of those foods, I would have said yes. And I definitely knew that #2 and #3 were at the top of the list. So one wrong out of twelve - that's not bad, right? Right?

Ron brought home roses this afternoon. 12 Roses for 12 years. Circus Roses. Because living here is like living in a circus... heh heh. They are beautiful and even more special because of the name.

Happy Anniversary! I love you Ron! Here's to dozens more delightful years together...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Absent-Minded Housewife

I am about as absent-minded as it comes today. Seems impossible to believe after my earlier post about being a perfectionist. Are you perhaps wondering to yourself now, exactly how many different personalities does that crazy lady have anyway?!? I sure am!

So far today I have started an empty clothes-dryer. I have misplaced my Christmas Card mailing labels (that's right folks, I still don't have even half of my cards out yet!). I have left a bag of garbage out for Bailey to eat. I have no idea where that bag of garbage came from exactly (it was on the counter last night and I was taking it out but apparently it never made it out of the house) but Bailey found it and made a huge mess in the living room.

The good news is that I did not lose any children this afternoon when we went out to run our 5 errands, though we did almost get run over a couple times in the grocery store/dry cleaners parking lot. That place is dangerous! (almost as dangerous as the inside of my head...)

Updated to add: 3 days later I still can't find the stamps I bought. But I guess since there is no mail service on Tuesday, that gives me an extra day to find them!

I am a perfectionist

My name is Sheila, and I am a perfectionist.

There. I said it. It's funny, really, because I have never considered myself a perfectionist. There is absolutely such a thing as good enough. However, I read something this year (of course, who knows now what it was!) that tells me I am, in fact, a perfectionist. I'm not the kind that can't be finished with something because it's not perfect. I'm the kind that can't get started unless the circumstances are perfect to allow for perfect completion. I am a Perfectionist Procrastinator. Or a Procrastinating Perfectionist. Or even a Procrastinating Circumstantial Perfectionist. I don't want to do "It" until everything is just right and I know that I am able to complete "It" as nicely as "It" looks in my imagination. But time has a way of marching on and deadlines eventually loom and I'm forced to "Just Do It". Once I get started, I lose the perfectionism and just do the best I can and that's okay with me. Though I do regret my inability to start things a little sooner because then I would be less stressed out, less rushed, and "It" would probably turn out nicer or be received on time instead of late, as it usually is.

I found this poem in a book I bought at Michaels the other day... it kind of sums things up. This poem is about Christmas cards but really you could substitute just about anything and it would still be true for me...

The Card I Meant To Send
by Thena

Last Christmas I resolved
To start my cards righ then,
When I would have time to ponder
The cards that I would send.
The cards would be so lovely,
Beautiful beyond compare:
The lovely masterpieces I would send
To show my friends I care.
The colors would be lovely.
And the cards would be 3-D.
All created and hand-designed:
Totally and uniquely me!
Imagine the shock I felt,
When the calendar on my PC
Said my time had already run out,
And it was December 23!
So dear friends, I beg of you,
Do not despair or grieve.
For in my heart I love you still,
But this is the card you will receive...
From me.
P.S. I'm starting on next year's cards on Jan. 1st...
And they will be lovely!!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Board Game Evolution

lIt's amazing sometimes how much these kids change in a short amount of time...

Today we played Clue Jr. - an exercise in patience for me. Can they be any slower as they look at the clue, check the list, color the clue/check it off the list? Oh my gosh! Almost as painful as having to sit still to watch the grass grow. Add to it the fact that we all had to cover our eyes every time so that no one was peeking at the clues since none of them is capable of hiding their list while marking it. Ay yi yi! BUT - all 3 were playing. Felisa and I were on a team so that I could help her figure out what to do each time but she was able to be a contributing player so that's an advancement in game playing skills.

Next we played Monopoly Jr. I have to say that I LOVE this game. So much simpler and faster than regular Monopoly. Here's where I saw some big evolution (and some regression!). This time Felisa played her own spot and I sat in as the banker/supervisor but did not have a game piece in the game. Ryan was compiling different combinations of money to get the amounts he needed to pay. When we played last spring, I was helping him each and every time to come up with the correct amount. This time not only did he know how to come up with the correct amount, he was also exercising some creative combinations. Instead of just handing me a $5 bill, he would give me a $2 and 3 $1 bills on time and the next time he would give me a $4 bill and a $1 bill. How fun to see how far he has come in his addition and subtraction skills! Now for the regression... this was our second game. In a row. At one point, Felisa got excited about something and did about 10 laps around the living room. Before that (and throughout the game) both girls were wiggling like crazy in their seats. Guess the ability to sit still for long periods just isn't there yet!

All in all, a pretty positive family experience. :) Now I am working on bringing order to the board games and puzzles chaos that is currently Ryan's room. Purging a few items, bagging up small pieces within games, and stacking them vertically (a little hint I found online yesterday). By vertically I mean on their sides like books instead of piled flat on top of each other. It is supposed to make it easier for the kids to get them in and out and is less wear on the boxes. I have to admit that so far it also looks nicer! I guess time will tell...

In other news, Ron changed the beds around in the girls' room. Now I just have to get in there and impose order on all those little pieces of little toys!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Order! I Want Order!

Add yesterday's marvelous gifts to the already out-of-control kid chaos here and help!!! I haven't figured out yet how to keep the toys picked up and put away. I need a combination of "just get it off the floor" which satisfies everyone but me and "everything must be sorted and put away in exactly the right place" which makes me happy. That makes it four against one though and then there's a sub-committee who believes strongly in "floor? what floor? I don't need to see it!" that just doesn't help at all. I feel like if I could just get the ground work in place, set up all those "exactly the right place" places, then it would be easier for us all to keep it put away better and thereby keeping the oldest two members of the household happy. But where do I find the time for the groundwork? Or the genius solutions? I mean, it took me two months to get a single set of shelves for Ryan's room stained and assembled. And to top it all off, I still need more shelf space in there. Or less stuff. But that's hard too. Ultimately I would like to have his room set up so that it can function as a better guest room (less cluttered and chaotic) and a little boy's room at the same time. And so that I don't have to shut the door everytime little guests come over because it is an unsafe, disorganized place. And one last complaint about that room... it used to be our overflow junk room (extra uniforms, wrapping paper collection, etc.). I have yet to find a good home elsewhere for all of that stuff.

Now today's projects: Go to the library (it was closed on Friday so we've had to wait 4 days to get our books! We won't talk about the 50 books we got for Christmas since none of them was Zack Files #30) and Clean up the Girls' Room so Ron can bunk the beds later. Since no one is regularly using the extra bed at this point, why not "store it" above the other bed? At this point, we can really use the extra floor space for toys, toys, and more toys. Not that you'll ever actually be able to see the floor...

Anyone have any great suggestions for keeping Barbie, My Little Ponies, baby dolls, and all of their accessories organized?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Santa Supports Reading

Ryan had a Cub Scout Pack Meeting last night. We considered not going, since he has developed a bit of a cough, and since we both like Den meetings better but ultimately decided to go. Our reward for sitting quietly through the extended Adult Award (Wood Chip?) presentation was a visit from Santa Claus! The Tigers got to go first and Ryan just happened to be at the front of the line. I must say that he handled the crowd well... Because he was first, EVERYONE in the room was watching and listening to his conversation with Santa.

What's that you say? You weren't there? You want to know what they said to each other? Well, here you go...

Santa: Merry Christmas! Have you been good this year?
Ryan: Yes.
Santa: Is your room clean?
Ryan: Yes. Well, except for the bed.
Santa: Oh. Is that where you pile everything when Mom tells you to clean up?
Ryan: No that's where I put my books that I'm going to read before bed.
Santa: Oh well as long as it's books, then it's okay.

How cute was that? Don't you just love the honesty of kids? If it were me, I would have told him that yes my room was clean (even though it NEVER is!) because I know that's what he wants me to tell him. And if my room were clean except for books on the bed, I still would have just said yes, it's clean.

Maybe they should get Santa to do a PSA about reading...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

No Throwing

Now as long as it's not in the heat of a battle of wills... it is SOOOOOOO cute when preschoolers scold you!

Last night I was changing into my pajamas and tossed my t-shirt over onto the dresser top. Felisa was sitting on the bed, waiting for me to be ready to lie down with her so she could go to sleep (no, she's not spoiled at all!). She said, very seriously, with her arms crossed and a stern look on her face,

"Mommy, no throwing."

"What?" I didn't understand her at first.

"Mommy, no throwing."

"No throwing? Oh, I'm sorry."

"You just walk and put it down and walk back. No throwing."

"Okay. I am very sorry. I won't throw."

"That's okay."

See - how cute is that?!?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Make or Break

This week is going to make me or break me... I'm hoping for make me but history shows that it will most likely break me. But one can hope, right?

Ryan's birthday has come and gone which puts me into the home stretch... 2 weeks until Christmas. Even with an extra week (Thanksgiving was early this year!), I'm still behind. So far behind, in fact, that I haven't even made my list yet to find out exactly how far behind I am! Yikes!

On the plus side, I made my deliveries yesterday (except for one lady who is on vacation) from the vendor night I did last month. Better late than never, right? Right?!?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

My baby is 7

Ryan's seventh birthday... my baby, my first-born. Seven. How did that happen?!?

We had his party yesterday afternoon. A Spy Party. It was supposed to be more of a superhero-detective-secret agent-spy conglomeration party but life got in the way. So we had a Racinez Spy Academy Party-in-a-box, complements of the internet. Admittedly it was nice to have everything pre-planned with a script (unlike doing at all from scratch like I did for the Rainbow Fairy party). I did miss bringing some of my great ideas to fruition but there's always next year, right? And I did sneak in a couple twists of my own. The kids all seemed to enjoy themselves and I've gotten positive feedback (saw Claire's mom at the library and she told me Claire had a great time) so all is well.

It was surprising to me which activities were a hit (trying on disguises out of the dress-up box) that I was worried about and which activities didn't go as I planned (apparently not everyone in first grade can read/write as well as Ryan can nor do they all understand what a secret identity is). But all in all, things went well.

And the biggest surprise to me was how much Bella has enjoyed the spy gadgets (the classic mustache/big nose/glasses disguise and the handcuffs) since the party ended.

As an added bonus, Aunt Lana and Mike were in town for the weekend. Mike wasn't feeling well so he hid in the bedroom. Lana was a big help. Like I found at Bella's party, an extra adult (other than Ron and I) can make such a BIG difference. Thank you Lana!

And in case you are wondering, boys are definitely louder and more chaotic than girls. This party just reconfirmed it!

The Family Celebration

We went to dinner at Outback. Because Ryan LOVES Outback! Melissa was able to join us which was nice. Now that she's a big 16-year old she just doesn't have much time to hang out with us anymore. :)

Before dinner, Eleanor brought down some gifts for Ryan. The globe has been the big hit so far but he hasn't had the time to get into the Body Book yet. So many gifts, so little time! At least he shouldn't be able to complain of boredom until at least January!

Christmas Decorating

We put the tree up after dinner tonight. I was able to avoid excessive screaming - "Stop it! Just wait a minute! Quit dropping the ornaments!" so it went better than last year.

Sad news... we lost 2 playdough ornaments this year. Bella's advent wreath from last year, and my painted Christmas tree from about 1980. Needless to say, I was very disappointed, mostly about MY ornament!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another quote/Book Review

"Driving to my meeting, I pump milk. I do one side at a time so both hands are still on the wheel."

-from This Day in the Life

I have to admit, I have pumped in the car before. Several times, in fact. But I have NEVER pumped while driving. Yikes! And can you imagine what sort of looks you would get from other drivers?!?

I am just finishing up this book called This Day in the Life, Diaries From Women Across America (24 Hours of True Life Stories). Very interesting. Fun to glimpse into lives of other women. Interesting to see which ones I identified with and why. The diary from the lady serving on the Kearsarge brought back memories from the Navy. The 79-year old lady taking care of her sick husband. And little bits of lots of other ones.

A good, quick read. Broken up into 3-5 page diaries and excerpts so it it is easy to pick up and put down. That way I can read it responsibly rather than my usual method of reading a book, which involves allowing the world to collapse around me, incapable of stopping until I get to the end!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Quote/Book Review/Life Analysis

"People don't just belong to themselves...they belong to the people that love them."

"I might have saved thousands and thousands from smallpox, but I had failed [my son]."

-from Saving the World by Julia Alvarez

I came across this book while volunteering at the school book fair. I considered buying it but then reconsidered since I was already buying several books for the kids. Instead I decided to look for it at the library.

This book was a very interesting story. It told of a woman, Alma, whose husband works for a "green" company working to bring self-sufficiency and other outside help to third-world nations and whose neighbor who is dying of cancer. The first quote is from a conversation about the dying neighbor and her wishes verses the wishes of those who love her and who are trying to be of help to her now through her illness. Alma is an author who has been researching an expedition to bring the smallpox vaccine across the ocean from Europe to the colonies. The vaccine must be carried live so 12 orphan boys are recruited to "carry" the vaccine, sequentially amongst them, across the ocean. The orphans' caretaker, Isabel, comes along. She brings along an orphan boy that she eventually adopts. At one point in the expedition, Isabel leaves her son in Brazil and is gone for 6 years bringing the vaccine to the Philippines. That is her quote above, lamenting how her son has grown apart from her in her long absence.

Saving the World. What is God calling me to do? These are issues that have been on my mind a lot this year. I have been told that being a parent is the most important job in the world. That nursing my babies is a form of prayer. That one in particular I struggle with understanding. How living my life is a form of prayer if I'm offering it up. How can it be that something so mundane and regular gives God glory? I feel as though my motherhood is the baseline. Of course I'm a mother. Of course I spend my day caring for my family. That's a given. But shouldn't there be something else I should be doing as well? Something Really Important that will Save the World?

So I asked God to send me a memo. With specific instructions as to what it is EXACTLY I'm supposed to be doing. Maybe it's my "always follow the rules" personality that needs to have everything laid out in front of me. I'm thinking this may be my memo. Not very specific but the message I took away from it is that saving the world is no good if you sacrifice your family to do so.

So I am turning myself back from the door, looking inward to my awesome family, and (trying to) embrace this "job" called Mom for all it's worth. Doing the best I can and not obsessing that I'm not doing enough. This job is big. And very important to my most important people. So instead of belittling it, I should praise it. Because that's all I ever ask of my children- be the best Ryan, Bella, and Felisa they can be.