Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bad Parenting???

Parenting is a tricky balance.

Parenting by Love and Logic says that you let the kids make choices and then they deal with the consequences of those choices.

So is it wrong if they make a not so great choice and you help to give the natural consequences a little push?

I have a child who refuses to wear a coat.  We are living in 30 degree temperatures and this child wants to wear short sleeves and no coat.  I understand the whole wanting to be cool thing, but I'm not a fan of sniffles and colds being brought into the house to be shared with everyone!  So, yes - I have a child who is going around in short sleeves when it is cold enough to have snow on the ground!

My question is is it bad parenting when we go to the store and I park the farthest away possible and take my sweet sweet time walking through the parking lot?  Is it bad that we "forget" something and have to go back to the car?  Is it bad that we forget where we parked when we come out of the store so we have to spend more time out in the cold?  Is it bad that because everyone else has a coat on in the car we don't keep the heat on full blast even though this child has goose bumps the size of goose eggs?  The child is learning the consequences of their actions in a natural, but maybe forced way.  That can't be bad right?

By the way, the child still will not wear a coat!
Parenting is AWESOME!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

I've Made the Big Time - well... sorta..

Not to brag... but I am going to right now so if you don't like that kind of thing turn away!!

I think it is pretty cool that a South Tahoe Travel site has linked up my blog to use on their site!  I was contacted awhile ago about it and they are even using some of my pictures from my travels in different areas on the site!  How cool is that?!!  So go check it out!  It is full of great tips and information about South Tahoe!  Go to and look under Related Resources.  You will find me there!!  Adventure and Attitude blog!  Now to find a way to get back there again!!!

We want to be a Muppet!

The other day I took the kids to see The Muppets.  I think I smiled through the entire movie!  I loved that I recognized characters and songs that they sang.  What I loved the most was when they performed like they used to on the original show.  It reminded me of SNL actually just more of a kid friendly version!  Even my 16 year old enjoyed it!

When we got home, A got another taste of what it is like to survive in this household with me.  We found some of the songs that were in the Muppets on youtube and proceeded to sing, dance, and act them out!  I was the leader closely followed by Lola and Tyce.  A tried to pretend he wasn't watching our fabulous performances.  I'm sure he was asking himself if all Americans are as looney as we are!  When I got out my tap shoes he shook his head and left the room.  (That's right! I do have tap shoes and still can pull out a mean buffalo!)

The little ones were delighted, the dog was confused, and A was no where to be seen! (Jackson wasn't home or he probably would have been rolling his eyes!)  Our favorite song was "Mahna Mahna".  We played it over and over and laughed so hard!  Our next favorite was "Life's a Happy Song".    Somewhere along the line our dancing and singing turned into running and being crazy and then someone gets hurt and cries, but let's dwell on the happy parts! :)  Sometimes it's just fun to dance and act a little crazy!  Can you tell the ham of the family is??  Wonder who he takes after???

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Do Over

Driving down the road, I couldn't take it anymore so I pulled over into a parking lot.  The screaming behind me didn't stop.  You would have thought that someone was being strangled, but no, they were fighing over something.

The cause of the turmoil that had been going on for at least 10 minutes behind me (felt more like two hours) was ....drum roll.... a stinking...... piece...... of yarn!! Yarn!!  Really?

After I pried the yarn out of their white knuckled hands and laughed an evil laugh of how riduculous they were for fighting over yarn I calmly took the yarn from them and explained that it wasn't ok to scream that they were being killed while I was driving, I made one of them exit the vehicle.  Why would I do something like this?  First, I couldn't stand the screaming and fit throwing and second, they needed to be separated and know I was serious about staying put and them sitting in the parking lot until they could behave!!

I was able to take a breath and remove myself from the chaos and get a better grip on myself.  (Screaming children in a car can lead you to threaten some pretty crazy things!)  When we were all calmed down, the tears were dried, apologies were made, hugs were given, and we were all safely back in the car we had a little talk. 

It was time for a "do over".  I told the kids we were all starting fresh.  We weren't going to talk about what happened.  We were all going to be happy and start all over again!  No one was in trouble, no one was mad, and all was good!

As part of our "do over" when we got to our first stop we all three held hands and skipped to the store.  I know we looked a little odd, but you can totally get away with acting crazy when you have little kids around you.  (don't know what I will do when my kids get older!)  Have you ever tried to skip and not smile?  You can't do it!  Skipping makes you feel happy!   It turned our day around!!

I totally recommend having "do overs" as often as you can.  I know it won't really work in the adult world, but it does in my world and it can't hurt to try!  The skipping works for all worlds!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter many more days???

Yesterday we spent a large chunk of time on homework.  That is to say A and I spent a large chunk of time on homework.  Or rather he sat next to me while I tried to tackle the homework with as much input from him as possible. 

He has an English project to do about Columbine.  He and I tackled a timeline of April 20, 1999 yesterday.  By the time we were completed, I was so depressed about the events of that day that I resorted to eating half a jar of chocolate - yes I drown my sorrows in chocolate..

I remember coming home and watching the news in our living room and seeing the coverage unfold.  I remember crying for all of those children in the school and the families.  Now that I have my own children I can't even begin to imagine the anguish those mothers felt when they heard something was happening in their school.  Last year, when there was a bomb threat at the elementary my children attend I could barely stand it!  Such senseless violence.  I am very thankful that our schools take many precautions to keep our children safe.  I know at times it is a pain, but when you think it only took 15 minutes on that fateful day to change the lives of so many people, I am happy they do it and will go through the hoops!

Feeling as nostalgic and thankful for my kids as I did after that little project you would think that when I went up to their rooms and found that in a short time they had completely torn apart EVERYTHING I would have felt a little sympathetic and simply given them a hug.  Nope.  When you mix trying to do homework for three constantly interrupted hours of fighting, bickering, and crying with being home with four kids consistently for one and half weeks with feelings of sadness for a terrible event - the sadness disappears pretty fast and you get (well I got) a big sigh and children that don't get to eat dinner until 7:30 at night because they have to clean their rooms!  Sorry kids!  Maybe Mommy needed a little bit more chocolate!

Loving me some Winter Break!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bah Hum Bug???

It's two days after Christmas and my home is completely clear of all things Christmas. 

I used to wait until after New Years, but not any more!  Does this mean I hate Christmas?  Absolutely not!  I am just thinking ahead and being practical.  All of the big boys were home so they could help me put everything up in the garage.  Do you know how many times I have done it on my own only to topple over and break things!  I'm lucky I haven't broken any bones! 

So yesterday I decided they could all help me wipe out all the signs of Christmas until next year!  Mission accomplished!  I love the decorations for Christmas, but I am relieved to have the house back to normal again.. until the next holiday.

My house may never look as festive as this one, but I can get in the spirit as much as the next guy without it! :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why does this have to be so Difficult???

I don't understand it.

Do they think the Barbies or cars are going to magically jump out of the package and run away?  Really?  Do you need 20 zip ties to secure a tiny toy to cardboard?  It takes me more time to get all of toys out of the packaging then it does to find them in the store, stand in line to pay, and then wrap them up!  Don't you think it is a little excessive that I have to have an arsenal of tools on hand to get a toy out of a box?

Does Barbie really need to have her hair secured to a plastic casing?

This just annoys me!  It isn't made any better when you have children in such a frenzy to play with the toy they appear as if they will try to gnaw off the plastic if given the chance!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I don't usually post on Sundays, but I thought I would wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  I hope your day went as well if not better then ours has gone so far! :)

The kids were instructed not to wake anyone up until 7.  I heard them about 6 getting dressed and brushing their teeth.  Ry and I didn't get to bed until almost 1 because one 8 year old wouldn't go to sleep!  After the Christmas Eve celebrations with lots of family, all of the sugared desserts, having to make a last minute run to get milk for Santa, putting out milk and cookies, sprinkling reindeer food outside, and trying to put together a game with A, he could barely think straight, but couldn't sleep a wink! 
At Grandma and Grandpas to start Christmas Eve!
A plate full of desserts at Great Grandma's House!
Setting out cookies and milk - he also made a sweet letter to Santa!
Jackson was up and raring to go, but the little ones had hit the wall!

At 7 on the dot they plowed into our room announcing it was time!  This is what I saw waiting for me:

They did well waiting for Mom to quick throw something in the oven and get her camera before stampeding down the stairs to get A for his first American Family Christmas (which he told us was his best Christmas ever!  - He was very much in awe at all of the family gatherings and presents that were given to him.  He wasn't expecting them!  I have to say how proud I was of him for how polite and thankful he was to everyone even if he didn't know them that well!)

It was a made dash to the tree and the stockings.  Tyce was amazed that Santa knew exactly what he wanted!  Although, I think if there had been a rock in his stocking he would have been just as happy!  Jackson handed out the gifts and horded his so he would have the most to open at the end! (He so takes after his mother this way!)

Even the puppy, Tucker and the bird, Eagle were remembered by Santa!  Of course a puppy is just like a baby and only wanted to play with the paper!!

Here are a few shots of our morning!
Daddy took the kids to pick out gifts for Mommy.  Either they are confused and think it is Halloween, they really wanted candy for themselves, or they think I am a sugar addict!  Daddy said he led them to jewelry and other things!  Guess they know I am easy to please! :)

My little ham.. He wanted Skeletor from He Man!  I used to play with these!

My poor children never get soda or a ton of sweets so they were beyond excited to get these drinks!

Lola didn't want to have pictures taken today - maybe too many yesterday...

A Zip Line!  Watch out neighbors!  Summer Fun in our backyard!! (and it will hold up to 250lbs because we all know who is going to be playing on that thing!)
The wonderful aftermath!

We finished our gift opening, ate breakfast, and put everything away.  As I was cleaning up the kitchen I realized we had left some presents in the trunk of the car!  Silly Santa hid some gifts behind the couch and the kids each were able to open another gift!  Thank goodness there was one gift for each of them!

Now everything is put away and put together!  I am ready to put all of the Christmas decorations away while I have Ryan here to help, but right now the kids are enjoying the grossest of our Christmas traditions which I married in to.  They are sampling the oysters, sardines, and octopus they got in their stockings!  This is why I am in a different room blogging!  That smell is TERRIBLE!  I guess I should be thankful my children aren't that picky of eaters and are adventurous like their mother!  I draw the line that that slimy stinky mess, however!

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's just a look...

There really is only one thing that is the BEST part of the holiday season!  (aside from Jesus being born that is...) It makes all of the chaos, stress, and ridiculousness go away in an instant!  The extra sweets, the tired, crabby children, the rolls of tape, the shopping, the cooking, the trying to see everyone and making the rounds are all worth it in the end with just this one moment.

Jackson in 2008 singing in church
It's the look on the face of my kids.  It's the look of wonderment when they hold the candles and sing songs on Christmas Eve.  It's the look they get when they believe in the magic of Santa.  It's the look of excitement when they see gifts under the tree.  It's the look of pride when they hand a gift to a loved one.  It's the look of surprise and thrill when they open something they love!  It's the look of pure joy when they give their cousins or grandparents hugs!  Those looks make everything else manageable!  (when those looks are gone, however, all bets are off!)

My niece, Audrey
My dad with my nieces Ashley and Audrey
Lola with "Santa"
Jackson in front of the tree
Tyce with a fun gift
Lola getting ready for her part in the Christmas program

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cards...

I LOVE Christmas cards!  Really, who doesn't?  It is super fun to go to the mailbox each day and pull out a stack of cards to open.  I think it is the highlight of the day for the kids...and maybe me ;)

My favorites are the picture cards.  I love the pictures with the families and the pets and whatever else people feel the need to reflect the holiday spirit!

I always have huge ideas of what I want to do for our Christmas cards.  Year after year I set up the scene and do my best to capture it, unfortunately the children don't always agree with my vision...  This means I have to change my plan and meet theirs in the middle.  Ultimately, I end up pulling pictures from the year instead of the photo session I set up.  Here is our photo session this year...

Yup, I had awesome plans for these pictures, but when a kid looks like he is trying to poop - not sure you want that on your card!  In the end, this is what I ended up with...

With the fun part done, now it is time to get down to the not so fun part of addressing all of the envelopes!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best Cookies EVER!!

Today I decided to make the best Cookies EVER!  They are chocolate marshmallow cookies and oh so so good!!  The last time I made them I did it all from scratch.  There were a ton of steps involved and it took a bit of time, but the results were fantastic!  This time, however, I wanted a faster version of a good thing so I looked around and found two different recipes.  I tried both and they both turned out fantastic!  (at least that was the vote by the kids!)

Box of Chocolate Cake Mix
1/2 cup of oil
2 eggs
- Mix the above together and put on a greased cookie sheet (I spray foil with cooking spray and put the cookies on there)  The smaller the scoop of cookie you put on the sheet the more guaranteed you are to get gooey marshmallow in each bite!
- Bake at 350 for 6 to 7 minutes

-Cut large Marshmallows in half while the cookies are baking.  When they are ready to come out, put half of the marshmallow on top of the cookie and bake for 2 more minutes.
-Take the cookies out and put them on a cooking rack.  Pat down the marshmallows.  I let them cool enough so I could handle them to put frosting on top.  I just used a store bought whipped tub of chocolate fudge frosting.
- I put a line of cookies in Tupperware and put it in the freezer so I could pile more on top to store.  Otherwise, everything is sticky and gooey!

An alternative to the above recipe which is just as fast and easy and follows the same steps is to use:
Betty Crocker Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix
1/4 cup of oil
2 tbsp of water
1 egg
This one seems a bit more chocolaty just because of the chucks in the cookie dough, but just as good and easy!

Now if I can stay away from them long enough to give them away I will be all set!  (part of the reason I put them in the freezer!!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Out of this World Advent Calendar

Each day the children have been opening a new door to our Advent Calendar and placing a figure on the board.  There are stars, angels, shepherds, animals, wise men, Joseph, and Mary.  The 24th door has baby Jesus in a manager.  Each day as they take out a new figure I tell them the story, recite a verse, or sing a song that goes along with the story.  This is where they have chosen to place the figures on the scene:

It seems that gravity didn't exist back in the time of Jesus!  The Wise Men are riding camels, however, so someone did listen to something I said!  If you ask Jackson what is going on, there is some kind of battle with the angel shooting stars!  Not sure if it is modern day television or their imaginations that have created this topsy turvy scene!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Found a Dead Body!

Twelve foot waves are really intimidating!  Even four foot waves can mean a face full of sand and a suit around your ankles! (thank goodness for frothy water and people being busy fighting the waves so they don't notice - at least I hope they didn't - maybe the fact that we were in a different country made it a little more acceptable)

While jumping over monster waves in Mexico recently and trying to avoid humiliation when they got the better of me, I couldn't help but remember a time I was jumping waves in Lake Michigan when I was 13 years old.

My family vacationed in South Haven every year.  We camped in the state camp ground.  I have many fond memories from those summers!  The families that my Dad worked with at the Nuclear Power Plant would all get together and camp at the same time.  We rode bikes, had camp fires, swam, raced remote control cars, picked raspberries in the woods, and caused one form of mischief after another!  It was actually during one of these summer camping trips that I developed my very first crush.  Wow did I think he was dreamy!  He was older then I was and I thought he walked on water!  His little brother, Matt and I were really good friends and did everything together, but I always had my eye on the older brother seeking out his attention.

Smothering humid heat plagued us one summer.  It was all we could do to keep cool.  Stepping out of an air conditioned trailer felt like you were stepping into hot water and made it difficult to take deep breaths.  The air was that thick.  On one particular day it was announced over the loud speakers that a boy was missing and there were strong waves on the beach that day.  But because of the heat, we had only one choice and that was to go to the beach! 

The waves were huge and we were delighted!  My best buddy, Matt, and his little sister accompanied my mom, sisters, and I to the beach. As we battled the big swells, the little girls were begging to take off their life jackets.  Matt and I didn't want to be responsible for the little ones so we wouldn't let them; even though our moms weren't far away. 

After a time, I was on my own.  As I jumped the waves enjoying the the pull of and tug of the current, I felt something touch my leg.  It felt like someone was trying to grab my leg.  My first thought was that Matt had snuck back to try to scare me.  I ignored him and kept on jumping. I felt the touch a second time and looked around laughing.  "Nice try!" was my response.  However, I was talking to air as there was no one around me.  Maybe he had swam back to shore and I couldn't see him in the waves.

I felt the touch again and became confused and a little concerned.  As I looked around I finally spotted what I kept brushing up against.  Over a wave came crashing down a bloated body! 

South Haven pier
I screamed and ran toward the shore as fast as I could battle my way through the unforgiving waves!  I screamed for my mom that there was a dead body in the water.  When I made it to shore I swear every mom on the beach had her eyes on me except for my own mother!  She was calmly reading her novel much to my distress.  To be fair it was very windy and wavy so the beach was loud and my voice was most likely carrying in a different direction and what seemed to me like a lifetime was probably two seconds at the time! 

As soon as she saw the look on my face she jumped up and rushed over.  I was in a panic and continued to scream that there was a dead body in the water.  She wanted me to show her where it was.  There was no way I was going back in that water!  We looked out over Lake Michigan and I saw it again roll over the wave.  I pointed but would not go back in the water.  My mom bravely forged the crashing waves.  I could see her cringing and I'm sure she wasn't too happy about going into the water to find a dead body!

A small crowd had gathered, but I barely noticed them as I focused on my mom and wondered if she would have to drag the body on shore.  She finally reached it and was able to take a closer look. 
South Haven Beach

"Come here!" she yelled.  Was she crazy?  I wasn't going anywhere near that thing!  She yelled back that it wasn't a dead person's body, but the body of a huge bloated fish!  I had seen the riped tail that had looked like fingers with the flesh flaking off under the water.  (maybe a few too many horror movies or books for me??)  I could see the relief flood my mother's face.  I, however, was flooded with embarrassment!  Matt told every person we met about my adventure including the DNR!  I was mortified for a little while and then I was able to laugh at how truly funny the situation was!  I was and am very thankful I didn't actually find a dead person's body.  My imagination got the best of me and continues to from time to time!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Great Aunt

I am officially a Great Aunt!  I have always been a pretty great aunt, but now I have the offical title!  My nephew had a baby boy!

While I am super excited that he is entering into a new phase of his life, I am a bit blown away at the realization that my sister in law and brother in law are now grandparents which in turn must mean that I am pretty stinkin old! 

Time just flies by way too fast!  I still picture my nephew as the boy I used to watch playing baseball and hockey!  I remember hiding beneath his window and scaring him and "sharing" his candy on Halloween!  Wow things have changed!

Congrats Jake and Bri!

Way back when.... Jake and I

My nephew all grown up!

Jake and his son, Asher

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Greatest Invention EVER for a puppy!!

If only this slowed Tyce down!!
Preparing your house and life for a puppy takes a little planning!   I had ideas in my head, but our little one came into the house way before I was expecting him so I wasn't able to plan it all.  To get ready for his arrival I did get a crate or cage so he can sleep in it and stay in it while we are away. I also got a little play pen type fence that I have set up in the kitchen. Being that he isn't house trained yet, I wanted to be able to put him somewhere when I couldn't keep a close eye on him!

Tyce calls the "play pen" Tucker's cradle and often is laying inside of it with the dog!  I walked by the other day and both Lola and Tyce were in the cradle with a blanket and Tucker snuggled between them! 

They are both also big fans of his crate.  They don't want to put the dog in it; they want to play in it!  They will get in it one at a time and ask to be locked in.  Thankfully there is really no danger to them playing it the cage!  Sometimes I think they are enjoying the things that come with the dog rather then the dog himself!

My biggest project in preparing for the puppy required a trip to Home Depot. (and is the most awesome invention for a dog EVER!)  They sell these online and in pet stores, but I decided to make it myself.  I showed an associate a picture of what I wanted and told him the measurements and he went at it! He cut the boards, got everything I needed to make it work, and showed me how to put it all together! I took it home, painted it and then had Ry help piece it all together! We made a "porch potty"!

It is lined with a tarp and has rocks and some indoor carpet on the top.   The plan is to put sod on it, but there isn't any available around here at this time of year.  We have it on our deck because the snow is coming soon and Tucker is not a big fan of the cold weather!(and I do not want to go outside each time he has to go and watch him!)  This way we can put him right in the box, tell him to go potty, and bring him in again! Amazingly enough he uses the box consistently when he is on the deck!  Now we just have to get him to let us know that he needs to go! (I am trying to train him to ring bells for that...)  I really do love our "porch potty"!  I can see that he went and clean it up so we don't have to worry that kids (or I) will track it around!  Ry and I talked about putting a tarp on the top to help keep the snow off, but we will see if we get around to that...

(those are rocks on the grass...)
Now I will just have to cross my fingers that my preparations will pay off and he will be house trained soon!!

Poor little guy gets pretty tuckered out!  He is such a little snuggler!