Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coming Up For Air

Can't blog. Busy playing Guitar Hero and watching Diego's Arctic Rescue like I'm getting paid for it.

Oh, and staying up until FOUR O EFFING CLOCK in the morning reading (i.e. going through half a box of Kleenex) The Time Traveler's Wife. This right here is why I can't read on a regular basis, people. I get a taste of the sweet sweet Novel and I'm like a crack addict: ignoring chores, loved ones, meals, personal hygiene, etc. just for the chance of sneaking in one more page of sweet sweet WORDS. No lie: yesterday I ate nothing but a packet of instant oatmeal and candy from my stocking until seven PM because I was so busy reading. Well, and also cleaning up holiday detritus and doing laundry and feeling resentful that even when it is still technically within the Twelve Days of Christmas (what, you don't celebrate all of them? Pssh. Amateur.) things like dishes and sweeping still kind of beg for your attention.

But there was a LOT of reading sandwiched in there. The low point was when my sister and a friend came over last night to (what else?) play Guitar Hero and American Idol with us, and I was stealthily trying to read in between my turns, then shoving my book under the couch and acting all nonchalant like, "What? Me, antisocial and rude and acting like this book is going to turn into a pumpkin and disappear at midnight? Never."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Calm and Bright

Edit: It's not too late to skip on over to pseudostoops and add fifty- no seventy five!- cents to her donations to three not-widely-known but very deserving charities simply by commenting in each of these posts. Go now! Um, and then come back here!

I just finished reading MO Mommy's exquisite holiday post here and my gosh but you are a breathtaking writer, Erin. I just want to express my awe at your amazing ability to come up with this stuff in the midst of postpartum hormones and round the clock nursing and two energetic little boys. You have a real gift for seeing the beauty in life with small children, a life that can so often seem full of too much frustration and too little reward. Thank you for a lovely Christmas gift!

And now I'm going to send a little Christmas gift of my own to my family and friends, near and far. Consider this my Christmas letter if I don't ever get around to it this year, okay? :)

This year has frankly seemed a little unevenly tipped on the side of bad luck and disappointment for us, but here we are at the end of it, topping it off with a serious car accident and a house full of sick people, and yet I am feeling the happiest and most at peace I have in a long time. Years, maybe. Ultimately I credit God's presence in my life for this, but I cannot deny that the hands and feet of this Presence have been all of you. My faith has felt weak at times, or I've simply been so busy and so depleted and have so poorly prioritized my time that I haven't been seeking strength from the real source. Yet even when I've failed to seek it, it has followed me, piggybacking on each of you.

I'm not the greatest at expressing gratitude, at least in person, but let me say here that I am unutterably thankful to each one of you for every hot meal, every gift, every sweet comment on this blog and in the mail, every hug, every prayer. Every time you dropped what you were doing to babysit our kids so I could go get my blood drawn (again) or gave me a massage gift certificate so I could relax or told me that I was doing a great job handling things when I was feeling paper-thin and fragile on the inside. Every time we ate together on summer evenings and Sunday afternoons, every time we met for lunch, every time you came over in the evenings and hung out with us housebound parents so we wouldn't feel like we had no social life! You have been generous with your resources and even more significantly your time, and I love you for it. I've heard that "hell is other people," but in my experience, so is heaven.

I'm a big Madeleine L'Engle fan, and this segment of one of her poems, which I wrote down in a diary years ago, has come to my mind often in this past year:

Unclench your fists
Hold out your hands
Take mine
Let us hold each other
Thus is His glory manifest.

Thank you all for holding out your hands and taking mine. Thank you for loving and praying for my babies, the ones here and the ones waiting for us. Thank you to our families for reminding us over and over of WHY we still want to have more kids, and why family is worth working and fighting for.

You know that song I referenced a few days ago, the one from Kelsey's Christmas mix CD that made me cry? The chorus goes like this: (last quote, I promise!)

But it feels like it's been one long Christmas dinner
One unending prayer, one unbroken line
Singing “Be Thou My Vision” by day or by night
All is calm and all is bright.

That's kind of how I feel about this year, and I have you all to thank.

Well, and eight pound six ounce Baby Jesus.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


So guess what I got in the mail yesterday? Not one but TWO fantastic Christmas music mixes, one for me and one for the kids, from Kelsey at Midwest Mom! (Oh, um, because I won her contest, not because she just felt moved to add to my holiday CD collection because she likes me more than you all.) They are both SO good and SO perfect. Thank you so much, Kelsey! Although, you really should have WARNED me about the second song, which was Long Christmas Dinner by Carrie Newcomer. I had never heard it before, and maybe I was just in a super sensitive mood due to the way Christmas church services always affect me, but dude, I was crying by the end of that song. And not like a romantic tear or two, but like, scrambling in the glove box for old paper napkins to blow my nose in because OH THE CRYING. Maybe just listen to it, hmm? And then you can decide if I'm normal or possibly borderline unstable. It's probably the last one.

I also got Christmas cards from two of my bloggy friends, with pictures of their kids, and signed with their kids' real names and all that good stuff! So exciting. And guys, I'm sorry we still haven't sent out a card to any of you, real life friends or otherwise. Maybe sometime around Valentines I'll get to it... I had put it off and was planning to have ours be a fashionably late but still in the nick of time card, you know, the one that sashays into your mailbox perhaps the day before Christmas Eve. But now we just have a lot going on this week with a new washer and dryer arriving tomorrow and new flooring upon which to PUT the washer and dryer still needing to be purchased and laid and then that little thing called shopping which still remains to be done for a few people on my list.

Oh and also there's the fact that Jim got in a car accident today and his car was totalled. Well. Of course! No holiday season is complete without turning in claims to both your home owners and your car insurance providers!

Jim is more or less fine, except for a jammed knee which needs to be looked at by a doctor tomorrow and a cut on his knuckle. And the person who PULLED OUT DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HIM is fortunately okay too, and fortunately will be the one getting issued a citation. Also, I guess in a way the timing is as convenient as it could be...

Jim had already planned to use up vacation days and take the rest of the year off work starting tomorrow, so he won't technically NEED his vehicle for a couple of weeks. His being around will also be helpful for installing of major appliances and shopping for a new car and laying a new floor in the laundry room, too! Hey kids! Remember the Christmas we made magical holiday memories like taking multiple treks to Sears and Lowes and had incredibly loud annoying fans blowing through our house for three days and we all got sore throats and coughs from the house being so thoroughly dehumidified that the water was sucked from our very skin?!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Enough With The Hygiene

I never thought I'd be yelling at my kid to STOP washing his hands. But I also never thought that two year olds could figure out how to drag a kitchen chair over to the sink, turn the water on, and suds up (to their elbows) all by themselves. All day long. And then messily attempt to wash dishes, dishes like steak knives and fragile wine glasses. Every time you turn your back. All day long.

I wish he was still little enough for the play yard. Or the BOUNCY SEAT. Man was that thing great while it lasted...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If Only Writing A Christmas Letter Was This Easy

My blogging year in highlights:

January- I witnessed the birth of David Nicholas, my friend Jess's second son. First birth I've ever gotten to witness from an angle other than my own screaming head!

February- The remodel of the den, aka Man Room, was finally completed, a fact which still occasionally delights me when I look around and remember what it USED to look like.

March- Our first Clomid cycle following the August '08 miscarriage was a fail, resulting in a painful cyst which forced me to go on the Pill for a month to let it shrink.

April- My sister got engaged (after about a month of dating, following my stellar example) and we found out about yet another possible fertility issue, my blood clotting disorders.

May- We celebrated Jim's birthday and our fifth wedding anniversary with a trip to the family cottage in Canada! This was some much needed relaxation. Later that month we visited a reproductive endocrinologist, who gave us a very welcome second opinion regarding my blood clotting disorder and the (alleged) need to take Lovenox during future pregnancies. Oh, and we also found out that Jim's business was forced to eliminate overtime completely, and cut everyone's salaries as well.

June- We went to the beach again, this time with the kids, and instituted a family dinner rotation with the grandparents and cousins, which was a great way for the kids to enjoy time with their cousins on those long summer evenings.

July- We tried to conceive again, this time using a combination of antibiotic, Clomid, mid-cycle ultrasound and subsequent hcg injection to make sure I ovulated before my egg deteriorated, and Prometrium supplements during the last half of my cycle. I found out that I am a big baby about abdominal injections and would prefer to have someone else do it for me while I look away and think about something else.

August- Got a positive pregnancy test. Had weird, less than reassuring hormone level draws, got a five week ultrasound that showed a sac developing. I tried to relax and not worry, especially after the hormone levels improved a bit following an increase in progesterone supplements. The kids and I went to a water park with my parents, sister, and her friend, which was really fun except that I was feeling kind of nauseous and icky and nervous still. And forgot my camera, of course. Eli turned 2!

September- An eight week ultrasound revealed no heartbeat, and that the baby had stopped growing at seven weeks. My body did not miscarry on its own, though, so I had to take Cytotec to induce miscarriage, since I had already had two d and c's after earlier miscarriages and the doctor didn't think I should have any more. I tried to cope. A surprise birthday party, projects, and family visits helped distract me when I needed breaks from coping.

October- Found a new, more homeopathic doctor who reviewed my history and suggested a different treatment path, starting with a saliva testing throughout an entire cycle to evaluate what my hormones are doing when I'm NOT pregnant, something no other doctor has bothered to check on. Addy turned 4!

November- Took a brief detour towards the unabashedly sentimental, raked a staggering amount of leaves, ate some pie.

December- Baked up some magic, then went to a Piston's game and proved that I still can't handle my alcohol. Oh, and then our house decided to turn on us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

PB and Chocolate

So, I have one more session of holiday baking planned, and I need a good peanut butter treat recipe that is NOT peanut butter balls or buckeyes or whatever you call them. It also needs to be suitable for boxing up and freezing. And, you know, I will be the one making them, so it needs to be kind of idiot proof and not involve steps like sifting flour, mkay?

Anyone have any tried and true favorites combining the concepts of PEANUT BUTTER, chocolate, and EASY?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winner! (And The Story Of The Fans)

First off- I drew the lucky cleaning contest winner, and it is Hillary! Which is kinda great, because she has a baby due in, like, five minutes, and it's fun to send gift boxes to preggos. Hmm... do you think perhaps this prize will include something BESIDES cleaning supplies? Anyways, here's the deal: I will be trying to email you tonight, Hillary, because every time I try to go to your homepage to find your email address, my internet immediately crashes. But this only happens on MY computer, not my husband's, so tonight when he gets home I'll try to either find your email address or leave you mine in your comments section so I can get your info and ship you your goodies pronto!

And speaking of cleaning, yeah... So what actually happened Friday is that our washing machine overflowed, for about the third time in as many months. The first two times we thought we figured out that it was because the knob which sets the load size had gotten stuck in between settings and so it just kept filling. But that was not the case this time- I checked the load size knob immediately, upon realizing the FLOOR WAS AGAIN FLOODED, and it was very definitely on an exact setting. New theory: appliances possessed by evil.

By the time I discovered the wet floor (only about ten minutes, if that, since throwing in the clothes and turning on the washer,) the water had spilled into the kitchen and had gotten into the cracks and under our laminate floor. Even once we had it mopped up, we could feel it squishing around beneath the floorboards, so... Yeah, you can't really just ignore that. Floors rotting, mold growing, etc. So we called the insurance scammers- er, I mean emergency repair people- and had them bring out giant fans and stuff, then give us the astronomical quote for their services and the use of their equipment.

A portion of the floor had to be ripped out altogether and will need to be replaced, not to mention the two APPLIANCES which will need to be replaced. (The dryer was on its way out anyway, has been for about a year. You can't ever leave the house with it on, or put clothes in and then forget about them, because if left to its own devices the dryer will just keep running ENDLESSLY, shrinking your clothes and using up massive amounts of electricity. We've just been putting off replacing it until the washer needed it too. Kill two birds, etc.)

Luckily we're just rolling in cash these days. HA HA HA.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Well, we're back from our first Christmas celebration, at Jim's grandma's in Michigan. We were all supposed to spend the night there Friday, but we had a little snafu about an hour before we were supposed to leave... We had sent Addy on ahead with Jim's parents, but instead of being right behind them as soon as Jim got home from work, we instead ended up calling our home owner's insurance, calling a water and fire damage company, and enduring a weekend of professional grade drying fans and dehumidifiers blasting away in our laundry room. At least we were gone on Saturday and didn't have to listen to it.

Anyone want to guess what happened? Anyone want to guess who was the genius that, while pulling sopping wet laundry out of the utility sink, accidentally dropped the hose which empties the dehumidifier out of the sink and onto the floor? Thereby slowing down the drying process a bit, since for two hours, the dehumidifier was basically sucking water up and then dumping it back onto the floor?

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Thousand Calories Later

We interrupt your regularly scheduled morning with this announcement:
I think I ate my weight in Nutella last night. O.M.G. I still feel sick and sluggish just thinking about it.

I was really craving more chocolate dipped pretzel sticks, but they were all packed up to go to Grandma's house this weekend. Sad. But then I had this genius idea to dunk the leftover, undipped mini pretzel rods in Nutella while watching The Office and 30 Rock last night. And I don't mean, here and there I dunked one in, the way a normal person might eat such a fattening snack. No, I mean that for an hour straight my hand was in constant motion between the pretzel bag, the Nutella jar, and my gaping pie hole. I'm sure it was just the sexiest thing EVAH to watch. I should've had someone tape me, so I could sell the video online to that sadly neglected segment of the p0rn industry consumer demographic- the calorie fetish folks.

Yeah... I should probably go to the gym now. After I eat my morning snack of Nutella on toast, that is. (Isn't it hilarious how they dare to advertise that stuff as part of a nutritious breakfast, btw? Yeah, sure it is, if you eat an egg and whole wheat toast and a glass of orange juice and then have the chocolate spread as your dessert. Let's end the charade, Nutella. Ditto to you, Pop Tarts.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Essay Question/GIVEAWAY/Martha Stewart-like Blathering

I am so tired today. I woke up last night a total of SEVEN times, you guys. And only one of those times was kid related. First (cover ears, boys,) I woke up to cramps so painful that in my delirious, half awake state, I momentarily thought I was in labor. That was fun. Then when I finally got back to sleep, I had this dream that a kid I went to high school with had broken into our house and was SANDPAPERING MY HANDS. I know. I had been whining about my poor, cracked winter hands to Jim right before bed, so I think it must have been some kind of manifestation of that conversation, but seriously, brain, WTF? Then Jim's alarm clock went nuts, having apparently been messed with by a child, and started going off every ten minutes starting at five o' clock in the morning, even after being unplugged. This happened four times before Jim figured out what was wrong with it. THEN the kids woke up and stood at their door, yelling for me. This was about a quarter to six. And sooo...

So today's post is a boring question/contest idea that I've had in the hopper for awhile, but haven't yet been so brain dead that I had to resort to the topic of CHORES. Today is that day, however. Here's your task, my lovies- tell me how you clean: your methods, your schedule, or lack thereof. Favorite products, least favorite tasks, best time saving technique, etc. Who helps out, and how efficiently. I'd bet every single one of you has something to contribute, especially when you hear that I will be sending a random winner a box of my favorite cleaning supplies! (Underwhelmed silence. Crickets.) Um, and maybe something less boring, too! Chocolate dipped pretzels! Your own maid!

Oh, and I don't just mean this for people who have a set schedule and your house is always clean. This also applies to people who only deep clean a few times a year for company, so you have to answer too, even if it's just, "My idea of cleaning the bathroom is throwing away the shower curtain liner before it is completely covered in mold."

Examples of what you could talk about: Do you usually clean a task at a time, or a room at a time? Or, do you block an entire day and clean your whole HOUSE top to bottom? Do you have any sort of schedule for cleaning, and are there certain tasks, like window washing, baseboard cleaning, ceiling fan dusting, etc. that get done at certain times of the year, like "spring cleaning" or whatever? What method have you found to be the most efficient? Does your family all pitch in? If so, what tasks have you found to be good for kids to help with?

Answer one or all of these questions, or something else entirely that I didn't cover above. Whatever strikes your fancy. Contest ends on Saturday at midnight!

Oh, and I guess I should answer too. I do tasks at a time, rather than a room at a time. It feels more efficient, if I have the vacuum out anyways, to do it all at once. Same with dusting. If I'm in the wiping things down mode, might as well wipe everything down!

I used to do rooms at a time, and that felt more satisfying, for some reason. I liked knowing that at least one room, on any given day, was perfectly clean. It just wasn't very practical, though. I found I got way too caught up in organizing that room, and ended up MAKING a big mess sorting things out before I finally got it clean. I was also more prone to rearranging that particular room as I cleaned it. Big time waster. But if you're someone who hates cleaning, I would suggest starting with the room at a time tactic because of the fun factor involved in organizing and rearranging stuff. It makes the cleaning aspect seem part of the overall FUN of prettying up the room, rather than just bustling around the house with your Swiffer like a dang maid.

I do have a schedule, which involves the house getting dusted and vacuumed, the bathroom getting cleaned, and the kitchen getting mopped at least once a week. (I TRY to get in a second vacuuming over the weekend, too, but it doesn't always happen.) Sweeping the hardwood bedroom floors is in the schedule too but about half the time I skip it. The majority of the bedroom floors are covered with big rugs anyways, which DO get vacuumed every week, so I figure it's no biggie if the dust gathers at the edges a bit. I sweep the kitchen and laundry room with the broom as needed- which ironically is MORE often in the winter than the summer, thanks to Fonzie's incessant shedding.

Deep cleaning stuff, like cobwebs, ceiling fans, baseboards, windows, and cleaning under furniture, I try to do twice yearly and/or whenever I remember it. Each season (so four times a year) I make a list of the non-weekly chores I think it's time to get around to. On the winter list, for example, will be curtain washing, as I know it's been over a year since that's been done. Other things, like cleaning the fans, I do more often, so they're on a list at least twice a year. I don't have an EXACT schedule there; I just kind of know in my head how long it's been since the last time I did such and such task- or you know, I can SEE very apparently that something needs done!- and I write it on the list, hang the list on the fridge, and try to tackle one thing on the list each week during that season. (I will not be making the winter list until after the holidays, btw. That's just crazy. And also, while you're taking down the Christmas decorations and putting stuff back in it's place is a great time to get some of that deep cleaning stuff done anyways, like baseboard dusting and vacuuming under furniture.)

Whew. Anyone who made it through all that deserves a prize just for endurance. Sorry. Off to drink more coffee.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

In Da Club

All right, yes. It's basically another picture post. (Whispered aside: but I generously included a pretty embarrassing picture of me at the end, so you know, good things come to those who scroll through other people's photos. That's the saying, right?)

The story: last Friday Jim and I took off for the Palace, home of the Detroit Pistons, where Jim had scored some seriously great seats for a fraction of the normal price. AND free passes to the club room. Private bathrooms at a sporting event, ya'll! Can I get a what what? Then, during the raffle at the end of the pre-game chalk talk, Jim won court side tickets behind the basket. It was sweet. We actually felt like we had a better view of the overall game from our original seats though, so we kept switching back and forth between quarters. Sorry, people we kept stepping over! That's how the high rollers do it.

After collecting our tickets at will call, we were ushered from the packed atrium through heavy glass doors and into this plush and silent hallway through which one reaches the private suites and the club room. It would've felt a lot fancier if I were wearing perhaps my old prom dress instead of a jersey and jeans, but whatevs. Still cool. And the seats were even cooler.

As promised, here is this awesome picture of me tipsily clinging to a giant stuffed horse for balance. Er, I mean, posing with the Pistons mascot. Go team!

Wait, who IS that? Why, it looks like Renee Zellweger gained thirty pounds, dyed her hair brown and tied one on! But why is she accosting that horse?

In my (weak) defense, it was a really stressful two and a half hour drive to the Palace- we hit Friday rush hour in Toledo and Detroit. By the time we got to the game I was desperately in need of both food and a chill pill. Unfortunately the chill pill, aka cocktail, arrived before the food, and I was apparently too hungry/stressed to make wise decisions like waiting until I had eaten something. Plus, the drink was being served to me in a private lounge instead of from a scowling vendor! What's a girl to do?

Still, that horse didn't have to squirm away so quickly. Like he's never been hugged by a drunk person before, geez.

Monday, December 07, 2009

*Also, Sugar

So here's another post to add to the folder I like to call "Proof that your early childhood was filled with Christmas magic*."

One of my family's favorite Christmas cookies, chocolate cherry thumbprints.

Baking with Mom or Nina or Nonny or Lynda, depending on which of us you're asking. Or perhaps we'll just say, the children's maternal grandmother.

Pretzel dipping. Who needs to bake when you can just dunk stuff in chocolate?

Addy was initially very painstaking and methodical in her dipping.

Eli dove right in.

I may use this picture in our Christmas letter- sure, they have food on their faces, but on the other hand, any picture with clean faces would seem clearly posed and unrealistic.

Mint chocolate dipped pretzels. I also made some with white chocolate rolled in crushed candy canes. Both kinds turned out AWESOME and ADDICTIVE. I am totally making more in a few days, because my supply is, uh, already mysteriously depleted. Thanks for the idea, Lori!

The kids' project- chocolate and sprinkle dipped mini pretzel rods. After watching them slobber all over the pretzels and their own hands before dipping, these little goodies are being enjoyed ONLY by the kids.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Bathroom: It's The New Family Room

So does everyone else with little kids feel like you spend about half your day in the bathroom? (Well, I know you do, bananafana!)

Between helping your four year old wipe herself properly, trying to familiarize your two year old with the concept of the potty, trying to DE familiarize your two year old with the concept of flushing things, trying to prevent your two year old from washing his hands (i.e. flooding the bathroom) about ten times a day, trying to GET your kids to wash their hands after playing with the dog's tail, keeping your four year old company while using the toilet because she randomly cries if left alone, and of course the inevitable teeth brushing and baths, I spend way more time in that tiny room than I ever imagined I would.

And the list above is just stuff directly kid related. Let's not even talk about how I have to actively bar the door if I want to relieve myself in privacy, take a bath without an audience, or clean the toilet without the kids knocking over cleaning products.

Jim also likes to joke that the whole family seems to have ended up on the same, eh, elimination schedule. As soon as one of us adults decides to pee, Eli immediately has a wet diaper, and Addy is banging on the bathroom door, hysterically demanding that whoever is on the toilet get off it RIGHT NOW because she is DYING to pee and is about to melt into a puddle on the carpet.

We might as well just throw a sofa and a toybox in there and camp out to save all that walking back and forth. Either that, or build one of those two-hole outhouses off the deck. That way the kids can have all the company they want!