Thursday, October 31, 2013

Things My Kids Say

Logan: "I can only do so many things at once." (Yes, he threw that mommyism right back at meProof that he does listen to me.)

At the grocery store:
Logan: "Here's your ticket binder."
Me: "I call it my coupon binder."
Logan: "It's your ticket binder."
Me: "Well, I guess you could call it that. It's my ticket to savings."

Logan (helping me with the fall decorations -- finds a cornucopia and puts it on his head): "Look! I found a witch hat!"

Logan (calling to us from the bathroom): "Guys, I've got a surprise for you!" (Please let it be that you made it in the toilet.)

In a hurry to get outdoors, he got frustrated.
Logan: "I don't know which feet they go on."
Me: "It doesn't matter. They're socks."

I let Mia know that there were box tops in her backpack to give to her teacher.
Mia: "How many were there?"
Me: "185."
Mia: "Wow. You can sure count high!" 
(Amazing my 6-year-old -- just one of the many services I provide on a daily basis.)

Me: "Hey, there's a lump on the sofa. it looks comfy. I think I'll sit on it."
And then Logan pops up.
Me: "Hey, I know you. You're the 'Matchbox Car Smuggler.' You caused a ruckus at soccer practice."
Logan: "Just doing my job." (Indeed.)
(True story! He had a TOTAL meltdown during soccer practice that evening because he had smuggled a red Hot Wheels car inside his shin guard, and it had gotten lost on the field. Luckily, Daddy saved the day by systematically scouring the field until it turned up.)

Logan: "Mommy, I don't have enough Hot Wheels for my bath." (Riiiiiiiiiiight.)

After finding a wet spot on the carpet:
Me: "Did you urinate on the floor?"
Logan: "No, I peed in this bag {holds up plastic bag from dentist's office}... but I missed!"
(And why was he was surprised that I wanted to throw the bag away? After emptying it, of course, because his aim wasn't completely off target.)

Mia: "You can find a lot of coins on the ground, but you can't find a lot of dollars." (Yes. Random, but true.)

Mia: "I hope your arms don't get longer."
Me: "Why would my arms get longer?"
Mia: "I don't know, but I hope that they don't get too long because then you would have to bend them funny to drive the car."
(I guess if this is all she is worried about when I am driving, then we are in pretty good shape.)

I put the vacuum in the living room and then started moving chairs out of the dining room (because unfortunately, our dining room is carpeted. I hate this but it came with the house, and it is some day going to be replaced, hopefully with hard wood floors, at least that is my dream). As I am moving chairs, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Logan has moved the vacuum cleaner.
Logan: "Look, Mommy, your vacuum can move all on its own." {grins} "I don't know how it did that!"

Mia (at the dinner table): "I'm drawing a 'W' on my bottom with my finger." (Don't ask me. I literally have no clue.)

Mia thought that Daddy was being unfair to Logan because he was sick and was not allowed to have certain foods. She agreed with Logan when he said that Daddy was mean.
Mia: "Meaner than an 8-armed octopus!" (They are apparently meaner than their 4-armed counterparts, which she insisted exist.)

After noticing that Brett had left his lunch on the counter, I called to ask him if he would like me to stick it in the 'fridge. Mia was a bit concerned by this.
Mia: "He's gonna have to get hot lunch!"

At the park:
Logan: "Look what I found resting!"
I glanced up from my book and saw that he had laid a dead chipmunk in front of me on the picnic table. You may be impressed to know that I only gave a slightly startled "ah!" in response before informing him that it was dead, finding a plastic bag in the van to scoop it up with, putting it in the trash can, and then peeling off his mittens. (Thank goodness he was wearing them!)

The weather was suddenly warmer and the ladybugs had come out from wherever they had been hiding.
Mia: "I don't want that ladybug, Mom. I think it just peed on me!"

Logan (to the babysitter as he handed her the money): "You can buy stuff with that!" (Yep.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Marble-Painted Spider Web Craft

Here's yet another fun holiday craft idea from our fantastic story time lady, Mrs. D! My little man (who I have mentioned is not hugely into crafts like his big sister) really had a great time creating this project, and I can't blame him. Who doesn't love fun ways of painting? And painting with marbles is definitely fun!

He enjoyed adding the foam spider sticker at the end, but you make a spider from a pom pom and some pipe cleaners like we did here. Or you can just add a plastic spider ring in its place. I'm thinking you could either cut off the plastic ring part and then glue it on, or if that doesn't work, make a slit in the paper, and poke the ring part through and tape it to the back side of the paper.

I'm also feeling inspired to do a string-painting version of this spider web craft... So many spooky possibilities!

{Spider-in-a-Web by Logan, Age 4}

  • round cake pan or pie tin
  • black construction paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • white tempera paint (and small bowl/cup to hold it)
  • marble/s
  • spoon 
  • adhesive foam spider sticker (optional)

  1. Place a piece of black construction paper inside your cake pan or pie tin. Using a pencil, trace around the inside and cut out the paper circle.
  2. Lay the construction paper inside the cake pan or pie tin.
  3. Place some white paint in a cup or bowl along with a marble or two. Help your child coat the marble/s with paint, using a spoon. Again, using the spoon, help your child place a marble on top of the paper.
  4. Have your child gently roll the marble around to make a "web" pattern on the black paper. If desired, put the marble back in the paint to re-coat it.
  5. Have your child place a spider sticker in the web and then allow the paint to dry completely before displaying his artwork.

Monday, October 28, 2013

And Then the Doorbell Rang...

I realize that it's been a while since I have done a post. Really, I have tons of stuff to say, but I wanted to make it truly count this time around. You see, this is my 500th post! In my head, I had built this up to be something bigger than it really is, thinking that I needed to write something that would be a summation of all that I am and all that this blog stands for. And now, I have decided to end my self-imposed writer's block by simply telling a story of something that made me smile at a time when I really needed it.

In addition to getting myself worked up over the significance of what to write next, I got super busy with Halloween preparations  -- which I am sure many other moms out there can relate to. I actually lost count of how many hours I spent making my little man's Lightning McQueen Halloween costume (which came out pretty cool, and I promise I will post more on that later). Also, I may have said "yes" to taking on yet another project when I really should have said "no, not right now." And, I felt down because nobody was coming to a party that I had planned. Rationally, I knew that this wasn't personal, but it was upsetting nonetheless.

By Thursday evening, I was overtaxed, and I was definitely feeling it. The house looked like it was falling apart and I was getting pretty grumpy with the kids. I was exhausted in the evenings, looking around and feeling like I had accomplished nothing for an entire week -- except for yelling at my kids. (So, it turned out to be a blessing that no guests were coming to my party after all. This saved me from having to do one more thing: a "company clean!")

Then, Friday morning came, and things were starting to look up. After dropping Mia off at school, Logan and I headed to our MOPS group meeting, where I got to hear a great speaker share ways that we can do more "missions" as a family. This gave me hope for finding a solution to yet another thing that was weighing me down: the kids are currently going through a phase in which they seem to have a bad case of the "gimmes" -- not a good thing with the holidays fast approaching! After having some chat time with other mamas, and getting a much-needed hug, I left feeling excited about doing some random acts of kindness.

All the rest of that day, I spent countless hours hard at work transforming a cardboard box into a costume, because after the party was cancelled I realized that I would be taking the kids to a costume party, after all. This meant that my deadline was pushed up, waaaaaaay up, from this coming Thursday -- Halloween -- to the preceding Saturday! I was completely in a trance and had no idea what anybody else in the house was up to. I actually asked Brett at one point, "When did the toys get picked up from the living room floor?" and he told me, "You were painting." I asked something else, and got the same response, "You were painting." Then, I realized I missed quite a lot during that lost time.

The good news was that it came out well and Logan was very happy with his costume. They had a fun time at the party, but after 3 hours of treats and games, I was drained. We ended up doing a movie night just to get through the evening. Then after the kids went to bed, I tried to tackle some of the mess that had been left to accumulate "while I was painting." After 30 minutes or so, though, I was worn out. I had just sat down to take a break.

And then the doorbell rang...

Honestly, I was not at all happy about this. I was 8:45 at night, and my kids were (hopefully!) asleep. I glared at the dog and warned her not to do her usual machine-gun, someone's-at-the-door-and-I-must-alert-you! bark. Amazingly, she listened, but I was still alarmed at the thought of answering the door.

Who could be ringing the doorbell at this hour? Nervously, I looked out the window, and not seeing anybody there, I asked Brett what to do. I was thinking, Oh great! Somebody's pulling a Halloween prank on us and we're going to find a bag of flaming dog doo on the porch... or something worse! My next thought was, I hope it's not that Kirby vacuum salesman. He was ridiculously hard to get rid of! Brett suggested that we turn off the porch light, and after doing that, we noticed a large vehicle -- a van? -- parked on the street, slightly obscured by the neighbor's trees. Then, I tried to quiet my apprehensive and over-active imagination, It could be somebody doing something nice. You know we just talked about random acts of kindness at MOPS. They're waiting to see if we get the gift!

Feeling emboldened by my more positive thinking, I opened the front door...

And I found a purple plastic tub loaded with goodies: a preschool fishing game, a dice game meant for kids Mia's age, two bottles of flavored sparkling water, some sprinkle-covered chocolate doughnut holes, Halloween pencils, and glow-in-the-dark necklaces! There was also a note explaining that we had been boo'ed. (Now here was something I could relate to, after having done this for the past four years in our neighborhood!)

It turned out that nobody was out to get me, after all. Some sweet, thoughtful mama (and while I don't know for certain who is responsible, I have to assume that the most likely "suspects" are my MOPS friends) gave us everything we needed to have a fun family game night! She may have known that I was having a rough week (self-inflicted, mainly, but rough despite it all), or she might not have even realized that I was feeling overwhelmed with everything at that moment. Either way, I hope she knows that she brought a much needed smile to my face...

A smile that I intend to pay forward -- just not at night. That's when all the scary stuff happens -- at least in my imagination!

Friday, October 18, 2013

What NOT to Ask a Mom

A couple of weeks ago, the code popped up on my van letting me know that my oil life is at 15%. This digital display is super convenient for busy moms who don't have time to keep track of this sort of thing. I got pretty darn sick and kind of forgot about it until I was back to driving, by which point the van was telling me I was at 10% oil life. This was fine, it just meant that it was time to schedule the appointment. I waited until I had some quiet time when Logan was at preschool so that I could make an un-interrupted phone call. Fortunately, I was able to get it in this morning, which was perfect since I had realized that it was one of the few mornings that we weren't already booked.

There were other codes that had popped up on the dashboard display, too, so I knew we were going to be there for a while as they took care of some other maintenance stuff (which I promptly forgot the specifics of just so long as I knew two things: How much? and How long?). I wasn't too concerned, though. He's been awesome at the dealership in the past. (I'm specifically thinking of the loooong appointment last December when after all the other fixes were found and corrected, ended up being a $1400 oil change!)

Just in case it turned out to be a lengthy appointment, I tried to be extra prepared. I had packed three snacks for Logan plus a coloring book and crayons. And there were plenty of toys there to keep him entertained. (I just tried to read my book and not think about how visibly dirty most of them were! Really, I am not a germ-a-phobe. I never used one of those fancy pants shopping cart covers that lots of moms have, and I don't even bother with the wipes for the shopping cart because I am more concerned about the chemicals in them than the germs that the kids might be exposed to. It just bugged me that the toys were so filthy looking.)

Then, an hour and 15 minutes into this morning's oil change (plus whatever), the service technician comes to me and asks, "How are we doing?" My first thought was, Uh oh, what's wrong? This is one of those rhetorical questions that I absolutely hate, because I am always so tempted to give an honest answer, when really I know that is not what the other person is looking for.

I looked around at the toys strewn everywhere in their play area and thought, Well, he seems happy. As you can see he has gotten out every. single. toy. you people have. Besides that, He has scarfed down all three snacks and has been asking for more food. Also, I am exhausted and in case you can't tell, my backpack smells like feces, but don't worry! At least it's not mine.

I tamped down the urge to tell him how we actually were doing. Logan was pleased as punch and completely un-phased by the fact that he had messed his pants -- about 5 minutes after I had asked him (for the umpteenth time) if he needed to use the bathroom. I was feeling less than happy about having to clean him up -- with paper towels -- because I didn't have enough wash cloths. Plus, I had to send him back to playing -- with no socks -- because I didn't have any in my now-stinky wet-dry bag. I did, however, have several short sleeved shirts-- which are of little use to him now that it's the middle of October in Michigan.

And, if that wasn't enough, I was reminded of how he had wet his pants after his soccer game last Saturday, and Brett had been frustrated by the same type of thing: no pants, but plenty of those same short-sleeved shirts! Ooops! Guess who didn't re-stock the bag? And it's almost been a week. The only saving grace is that I had the foresight to grab a pair of jeans before we left this morning, because guess what else was not in that wet-dry bag?

By this point, I was feeling like a BIG failure as a mom, and I was truly looking forward to heading home. However, I realized that something else was up with the van. I lifted a brow and waited for the service man to tell me what exactly was wrong with my vehicle. How much? How long?

So, I forced a smile and told him, "We're fine," even though I wasn't really feeling that way at all. Thankfully, the news was bearable. The tires were just wearing unevenly and needed to be realigned. It was less than $100, which while not good news, was much better than it could have been. Thank goodness for that 15% off all services coupon! He told me it would take 45 minutes to an hour, and I thought, It has to be now. When else will we have time? And, Will I really want to do this all over again any time soon?! 

And, that was when I realized the irony that once again, I was seated in this dealership, reading yet another a self-help book, exactly what I found myself doing the last time I got bad news about the van. Why is it that I am always reading a book on how to be a better wife, a better mother, a better person? And I never see men reading books on these things. I was tempted to ask the guy why that is? Why am I always reading these books? My husband doesn't read these books. And, I bet he never beats himself up like I do.

Well, obviously, I didn't ask him these questions. He would have thought I was nuts if I said all the weird things that jumped into my addled mind after being asked one simple, rhetorical question. Instead, I told him to just get it done!

And then an hour later, he came back to tell me that the van was finished, as I was on my hands and knees trying to pick up some of the mess. Normally, I would not have left that play area looking like a natural disaster zone. Normally, I would have made Logan pick up every last one (or I'd have done it myself). But, I just didn't see the point. I already felt like one BIG mess. That's when I decided to pay the bill and walk away.

So, I drove away in my freshly-washed-on-the-outside, totally-messy-on-the-inside van, which mirrored how I felt about myself right then. I did my best to put on a good show, but inside I was feeling defeated. For some reason my response the phrase, "How are we doing?" didn't sit well with me at all because I felt like a total fraud. On the other hand, just think about all of the stuff I could have said in response to that dumb rhetorical question... He would have been sorry he asked!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Print Making with Plastic

For Logan's birthday celebration, his grandma brought a veggie tray from the grocery store. Since I don't usually buy these, I had never really studied the packaging before. Interestingly enough, the tray's bottom had a lovely texture that called to me: "Make some prints!"

Yes, inanimate object speak to me on occasion. We creative types think of this as the "creative process." I have no idea what "normal" people refer to this as. Anyway, it's how I came up with an unconventional way of re-using this plastic tray. Mia enjoyed making these prints one afternoon while her brother was fast asleep (probably from post-party excitement).

{One of many "star" prints made by Mia, age 6}

  • paper (construction paper, computer paper, card stock, etc.)
  • acrylic paint in your choice of colors
  • plastic packaging (ours was from a veggie tray)
  • Styrofoam tray to hold paint (or a plate)
  • brayer (or a foam paint brush)
  • something to protect work surface (we used cereal box liners)
{Black construction paper gives a totally different look.}

  1. Acrylic paint will stain, so first prepare your work space. We covered the table with cereal box liners (my favorite, at the moment), but newspaper or a vinyl tablecloth that you are not in love with will work equally well. I also recommend that kids wear old clothing or paint smocks.
  2. Pour a small amount of paint into a Styrofoam tray (or onto a plate). You can use up to 3 colors without it getting too muddy. Tip: Styrofoam trays can be re-used many times, which is why I like them. If you are concerned about germs, just run them through the dishwasher on the top rack, and voila! Sanitized and ready for crafting.
  3. Gently roll the brayer through the paint to coat it with a small amount of paint and then roll the paint-covered brayer over the textured plastic tray*. Tip: If you don't have a brayer+ -- a hard rubber roller with a handle (ours is wooden, some are plastic) -- you can use a foam paint brush to apply the paint to the tray. It will just be a bit trickier to get a thin, even coating, which is ideal for print making.
  4. Lay a piece of paper (whatever kind you have) on top and smooth your hands over the back side, applying even pressure. Gently peel off the paper and set it aside to dry. 
  5. These prints would look great in a frame or you can use them to make cards or wrapping paper.
{Apply paint to a plastic tray using a brayer.}

*Note: We first did this on the inside of the tray, and then later we cleaned it off and switched to the outside of the tray, which had the opposite pattern on it. This way we ended up with two different designs from that one plastic veggie tray!

+Note: A brayer is a nice-but-not-necessary tool to have. If you think that you will do a fair bit of print making, it might be worth the investment. I purchased mine several years ago at a craft store (either Michaels or Jo-Ann) and it cost about $10. You can also find them online.

{Here's the reverse side pattern -- 2 for 1 crafting!}

Here are 10 more ideas for print making that you might enjoy:
  1. Fruit and Veggie Prints
    {The reverse side made a "lacy" design.}
  2. Cookie Cutter Stamp Art
  3. Shamrock Stamping with Cookie Cutters
  4. Print Making with Styrofoam
  5. Sun Prints
  6. Plastic Bottle Flower Prints
  7. Stamped Art with Pencil Erasers
  8. Bubble Wrap Indian Corn Print Making
  9. A-Corny Print Making Project
  10. Rose Bouquet Print Making

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On Letting Go

I was really, really looking forward to this day. I had talked about it for months (occasionally with random strangers at Kroger or Meijer, anyone who was within earshot and might appear to care even slightly). As soon as Logan started preschool, I was going grocery shopping WITHOUT KIDS!

So, when his first day of preschool came, it didn't occur to me to be sad. I had spent so long dreaming of a couple of hours in which I could actually hear myself think -- whatever that means. We had done our best to prepare him for school, but little did I know that I was the one who should have been preparing.

The drive to school ended up being more than I anticipated and the whole time I was focused on getting him there in one piece. The fog was dreadful that morning, I was still getting over being awfully sick, and to make matters worse, I had completely forgotten about the detour in downtown (which can happen when one is in a mental fog).

It goes without saying that we were a bit late. Of course, this didn't phase my little dude one bit. He was seriously excited to start school. His only upset that morning was when he learned that he would not get a lunch since he wouldn't be staying the whole day. All of a sudden, he doesn't need me anymore?

Not caring about being behind schedule, he ran right in and sat down on the colorful alphabet rug. I was slightly disheartened to not get even a fist bump and I must have voiced this because the teacher told him I needed a fist bump and he obliged before heading back to the rug. I left the classroom feeling deflated. All of a sudden, he doesn't need me anymore?

Weirdly enough, that is when it finally dawned on me that my baby was headed off to school. This was the last time that I would go through the first day of preschool. Even though he will always be my baby, he's not actually a baby any longer! Then, I felt a twinge of sadness, the emotion that I hadn't prepared myself for. All of a sudden, he doesn't need me anymore?

Someone once told me that parenting is a process of letting go. I think that this definition is apt because oftentimes the littlest things suddenly take on a monumental quality -- dropping my baby off at preschool for the first time -- but if I stop and think about it with more perspective, it all seems more reasonable, more like something I can take on. All of a sudden, he doesn't need me anymore? 

No! Of course, he still needs his mommy. At four years old, though, he simply doesn't need me to hold his hand when he goes off on a new adventure. While this was very unexpected -- Mia has always been much more cautious of new experiences, a quality she comes by quite honestly -- it's not at all bad. So, he doesn't need me quite as much as he used to. This change is not as sudden as I might have thought. We have worked toward this, taking baby steps toward independence all along the way. If anything, this is my biggest success story as a parent: helping to foster his autonomy.

The funny thing is that it's harder on me, this letting go. Today, as I pushed my shopping cart around Kroger (a regular cart, not the ridiculously unwieldy race car model that I would have been forced to struggle with had my little dude been along), I felt kind of alone. It wasn't the dream "vacation" that I had mentally built it up to be. It was just a trip to the store -- minus the 3-foot-tall dictator whining for a second Dum Dum sucker because he had finished it before we even made it out of the produce department.

While it was a much quieter shopping trip, it took me that same amount of time, and I spent just as much money. (And here I was thinking that I would really up my coupon game without the distraction of my noisy little guy.) As I went past the end cap with all the Hot Wheels cars, I noticed it was quite picked over, and I was reminded of my favorite little boy who had swiped two cars on two separate shopping trips in the past few weeks -- while I was busy fussing with said coupons. As frustrating as those trips to Kroger had been after I discovered the torn-open packages, seeing that display made me smile.

It turns out that shopping without kids isn't all it's cracked up to be, at least not until I get the hang of it. For now, I am just trying to embrace my mixed emotions about Logan getting older. Excitement turned to sadness at the drop of a hat. Who knew that growing up would be harder for the mommy than it is for the little boy?

{NOT a baby, but always my baby!}

Monday, October 14, 2013

Easiest Ever Pumpkin Craft

I recently learned how to make these at our local library, and I am very pleased with how mine turned out. Really! I am not making this up. This is the easiest pumpkin craft ever, and you need absolutely NO craft skills to pull it off. Also, you barely need any materials, and these pumpkins are really quick to craft. So, it's basically a perfect craft, even for beginners.

If I had any complaint, it would be that this is a little bit more expensive up-front than many other craft projects that I have made. That said, you will have plenty of duct tape left over, so it is really just a general craft investment. (And for the record, I can't complain, because all of my materials were provided by the library. Love!) I am sure I will be making more cool duct tape pumpkins... as soon as the faux pumpkins start going on clearance at the craft stores.

{Happy Halloween Crafting!}


  • foam pumpkin (I recently saw some small ones at Dollar Tree!)
  • 1-2 rolls of decorative duct tape (I have found small rolls in the dollar section of Target.)
  • scissors (optional)


  1. If using more than one roll of decorative duct tape, decide which design/solid color will be used for your stem and which will be used for the body of the pumpkin. Tear (or cut, but honestly, I found it easier to just tear it with my hands) off small sections and cover the stem. You can even tear the tape in half to have easier to work with strips if you stem is on the small side. Don't worry if the base looks messy because you will end up covering it later. Tip: If your stem is too long or awkward to work with, cut it with your scissors. I found this to be really helpful!
  2. Now, cover the base of the pumpkin with strips of duct tape. The best way to do this is to start at the top near the stem and then slowly smooth the tape down along the pumpkin. You will want to leave space in between each strip of tape, and then come back later and fill in the gaps. Tip: I decided to tear off several strips and lay them along the edge of the table to make the process go more smoothly. I just eyeballed them to see that they were the approximate length that I needed. Tip: Don't worry about making your pattern (if your tape has one) line up perfectly! I could have made myself insane trying to get those chevron stripes to line up just so, but I saved myself the worry, and it came out fine. The eye just tells me that it lines up (for the most part) even if it really doesn't.
  3. Find a place to display your spooktacular pumpkin craft. See, I told you that was easy, right?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Name is "Mom" (and I am Tired!)

Initially, I was a train-wreck, full of apprehension about my husband's impending business trip. It had been over a year since he had gone away for work, so I didn't remember how smoothly (or not!) things had previously been while he was gone. I did my best to take care of the things I could control and tried not to worry so much about the rest (easier said than done!).

Then, I realized that I would have all sorts of time to myself in the evenings after the kids were in bed. (Okay, maybe not tons more time, but at least I wouldn't feel torn between being a good wife and doing what I want to do.) So, I decided that I would use this time to do some writing, and I even made a fairly lengthy list of potential blog post topics. Yeah!

Or maybe not? This post wasn't on the original list, but sometimes life feeds me other things to write about. Also, sometimes I just plain get sick and don't have time to write. (In case any of you were wondering why I hadn't posted anything in a bit... I was pretty out of it.) Although, for what it's worth, I was drafting this in my head while in a feverish delirium, so I think that has to count for something.

Mommies don't get sick days. That is a sad fact of life. And, unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to my body's signals until it had gotten out of control.

See, the Monday morning before last, I had a dizzy spell and I needed to sit down. I thought That's weird... I'll deal with it.

Then, on Tuesday, I woke up with my left ear aching. That's really weird... I'll deal with it.

I waited two more days. Brett had left for Nashville. My ear was still hurting, but thankfully, I hadn't had any more dizzy spells. I took Mia to school, came home, and started scratching things off my to-do list. Pretty normal, boring stuff. Then, around 11:30, it dawned on me: I am sick! I have another sinus infection.

I tried calling my "regular" doctor, but I couldn't get in. No big surprise there. That's why I had seen an urgent care doctor for the past 5 sinus infections... Yes, I have been getting a LOT of sinus infections, and I really did hope to see the "regular" doctor.

Feeling kind of annoyed, I called Brett's doctor's office since I had been meaning to switch over to them, anyway. Of course, they couldn't get me in either. I had called "too late in the day." I get it. It was nearly lunch time for these office-type workers, so by their calculations the day was nearly done. Not so for this stay-at-home mama who was flying solo. (To be fair, the receptionist kindly pointed out that if I had been an established patient she could have gotten me in at 10:00 -- because time travel is one of the skills that she apparently assumed I possess.)

Having no other options (other than to wait until the following week when they could have fit me in, by which time I would have keeled over), I got Logan into the van and we headed for the urgent care. The great thing about the urgent care is that they almost immediately took me to a room. On the way the nurse chatted with Logan, asking him all of the most important little person questions. (What's your name? How old are you?) He eagerly answered her, "My name is Logan and my mom's name is... Mom."

I told the doctor I was pretty sure I had a sinus infection and he immediately confirmed this fact. "Oh yeah, it's messed up in there." (This was after jokingly accusing Logan of making me sick, and I told him that I randomly got sick so I guess he could be let off the hook this time.) Well, obviously, I don't pay these people for their sparkling bedside manner, but I was in and out in 30 minutes, with a script for antibiotics in hand, which at the time seemed so very important!

Also, Logan left with three Hot Wheels stickers. When the receptionist asked him if he wanted a sticker, he looked over their stash, and quickly replied, "No. You don't have any car stickers!" Of course, I am trying to joke away my embarrassment and his bluntness, saying "Got that? My name is 'Mom' and you don't have any car stickers." Then, she reached behind the desk and actually produced those more desirable car stickers! I was relieved when he then said "please" in order to get the coveted stickers. Lucky little dude -- he made out better than I did.

At the Kroger pharmacy drive-through, they told me it would be at least an hour. We headed to a nearby park and he found some boys about his own age to play with. I did my best to enjoy the little detour, but mainly I just wanted those drugs.

Once we were able to pick up the Bactrim and Claritin D, I was relieved, assuming I would start to feel better in a couple of days. (Usually, that is how it goes.) Boy, was I wrong this time

By that evening, I was really spacey during soccer practice. I didn't even realize that Logan was crying because I was staring off into space, in the opposite direction.

The following morning, I felt worse, and I was so relieved to hear that a meeting was canceled since there was no way I was making it. Plus, Mia complained that her stomach was hurting -- never a good sign. I called and excused her from school, but after a couple hours she was bouncing off the walls and wrestling with Logan. She begged me to take her to school, and I wasn't sure what to do. I knew that I wasn't really up to driving, but I also knew that I wasn't up to having two kids going bonkers ALL day. I wasn't in my best clarity of mind when I decided to drive her to school.

She was fine for a couple of hours and then I got the call: she had thrown up in the classroom! Well, I felt guilty about that since I had known it could happen. Then, I felt worse upon picking her up. She was crying and worried that I would be mad at her since I had made a point of saying that I hoped I wouldn't be getting a call later in the day. Not my best parenting moment.

Never mind the fact that there was so much pressure in my head by that point, about 1:00, that my eyes were insanely bloodshot. The thought of changing out of my cropped black workout pants and putting on decent looking jeans was just too much. (Normally, I never leave the house in my yoga pants unless I am, in fact, going to work out.) My hair was a frizzy heap, and I was laughing inside because I was just cognizant enough to know that I looked truly dreadful, kind of Bride-of-Frankenstein-ish and that is when I knew for sure that I.Was.REALLY.Sick.

Somehow, we made it to school and back in one piece. Mia changed into pj's just in time for the refrigerator repairman to arrive and finally fix that darn thing. I had plugged both kids into the TV, and I was just trying to stay awake as the guy worked. (I can only imagine what he thought of me and my household, but I honestly felt like the living dead, so I didn't even care.) At some point during that Friday, Brett had informed me that had had caught an earlier flight and he was on his way!!! Refrigerator guy left, fridge fixed, and Brett got home about 3:30! This was awesome because I was barely able to hold my head up by that point, never mind think about fixing dinner...

The next couple days are not really clear to me. I was very, very confused. I was exhausted all the time, but ironically, I was also suffering from insomnia. I had no energy to do anything, and I spent so much time in bed, that my back and legs were starting to hurt. Brett kept using the phrase, "You're going to turn the corner soon," (like I normally would after a couple days on antibiotics) but it seemed like he wasn't really believing it after awhile. I know I wasn't. I just felt so run down.

Then, all of a sudden, the pressure was almost unbearable. I swore that somebody was concocting a Molotov cocktail inside of my skull. Then, despite the improbability, it actually got worse. The Molotov cocktail creator decided to get really cruel. He started drilling behind my left eye socket with a cordless drill. This continued off and on for the entire weekend. I laid in bed with my eyes covered, trying to block out all the light, and trying to avoid the kids, especially Logan, because he was unbearably LOUD. On some level, I realized these were migraine symptoms, but I don't have a history of migraines so it just didn't make sense. Not that I was trying to make sense of it, really. I just wanted it to end, preferably without a brain tumor diagnosis.

On Sunday morning, I woke up feeling almost human. I sat up and watched TV while everyone else was at church. (And, this in itself was HUGE. Prior to that, I couldn't watch TV, I couldn't read, I couldn't write -- Oh, my gosh, I really wanted to write! I guess that solidifies that fact that I am a "writer" -- I missed that most of all.) Then, all of a sudden, the drilling behind my eye was back. Oh, the agony! I was gone for most of the day, and then in a moment of lucidity, I pieced it together: It was the drugs. They were making me worse instead of better. Brett had come to the same conclusion that afternoon, and we agreed, no more Bactrim!

I called the new doctor's office first thing Monday morning. (8:00 -- not 11:00 -- I had learned that lesson the hard way.) Sadly, they couldn't get me in until Tuesday. Brett missed that first day of work, and Tuesday morning, taking care of the kids and everything else for me. Even though the migraine symptoms were under control at that point, the Molotov cocktail was still raging in my head. When I saw the new doctor, he was skeptical that it was a drug reaction, saying it sounded more like a migraine. (For the record, I am not disagreeing, here. I did have a migraine. And it really, really sucked!) All, I am saying is that I am positive that this was a result of the antibiotic. He said they would put a note in my chart to avoid Bactrim in the future, and in the meantime, I was just going to take Sudafed and try to beat the sinus infection without any more antibiotics.

Playing it conservatively sounded like a good plan. It just made it harder for me to get well. I am not 100% better, but at least I am getting back into the swing of things. Wednesday was my first full day without Brett's help, and I had to sit down because cooking chicken nuggets exhausted me (sad, but true!). I know he was relieved to not have to play Mr. Mom any longer, but it was a difficult transition for me. Friday was the first time I got some housework done, and I even made it through the day without a nap (or quiet time upstairs while Logan watched some TV).

Moments of frailty like this remind me of how much I usually take for granted, just being able to do all of the million little things that I do all the time, most of which I don't think about -- until I am no longer able to do them. Mommies really don't have time to get sick, and I hate when I do. I hate not being in control. It really ramps up the guilt factor. On the other hand, I think it's my body's way of forcing me to slow down. Message received.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A "Jawsome" Shark-Themed 4th Birthday Party

Well, it's about time that I wrap up my posts about the Little Man's 4th birthday bash, so here's the overview. I don't even know where he came up with the idea for a shark-theme, but it seemed to come out of left field. There are a few things out there that can be purchased for a shark-party but I wasn't interested in buying online and then having to pay shipping. That's why it's a good thing that this mama is creative!

Out in the front yard, I placed three shark fins and a warning sign that read "CAUTION SHARK SIGHTING." Then, on the front door, guests were once again cautioned with a sign reading "DANGER ENTER AT OWN RISK." I used shark stencils for both of the signs and everything was made out of cardboard.

{Land sharks!}

{Don't say you weren't warned...}

To set the indoor underwater scene, we had three kinds of window paint, two of which were homemade. This one was on the dining room sliding door, and I don't recommend it for window paint. This paint recipe was also used in the dining room, and it worked beautifully for making blue waves and multi-colored sharks (which I used these stencils to create). In the living room, I used a blue window paint pen that I had purchased from Oriental Trading to make waves on all the windows. Then, I taped undersea animals to the windows. These were classroom decor left over from my teaching days, so they were two-sided and laminated, which was perfect.

I also made some blue zigzag steamers (directions here) and taped them up in the entry to the dining room and in the hallway so they were visible when guests walked in the front door. These are perhaps the simplest, quickest, and cheapest party decorations ever! And they make a big impact. It felt very much like we were under the waves.

{You can see the streamers in the background.}

Hanging from the dining room chandelier were 3 friendly jellyfish that the kids helped me to create.

I used a roll of blue cello wrap from Dollar Tree to make a table runner, secured with blue painters tape (again, from Dollar Tree). The excess I cut off and taped to my folding card table. Then, I tossed a few sea shells onto both table coverings. (As a bonus, this didn't get messy, so I just removed the tape after the party, and rolled it back up to re-use for something else.)

{See the window paint in the background?}

The thank-you gifts did double duty as decorations. I just displayed some small containers of homemade blue glitter play dough and fish shaped cookie cutters (from Jo-Ann) until it was time to send them home with the party guests. I had made small round labels to fit the containers (which came in a ten-pack at Dollar Tree). Using Microsoft Word, I made them to say "Logan's 4th Birthday" (Logan's curved on top, and 4th Birthday curved around the bottom of the circle, with a shark photo in the middle). I ended up making 3 batches of play dough, and each batch was enough to fill 6 of the plastic containers.

{Cute and inexpensive party favors!}

I decided since it was a nice day and we had kids ranging from infant to age seven, that I should keep this pretty simple and outdoor-centered. So, we turned on the sprinkler, set up the water table, and made sure there were plenty of toys in the sandbox.

I had made a game that I called "Shark Bait," which some kids played with a hula hoop and my homemade fishy "beanbags."

{DIY Game for a Shark Party}

We also had a bubble station which included homemade bubble solution in cake pans and pie tins and lots of wands.

My favorite thing, though, was the shark photo prop that I had made from cardboard. I took all of the kids' pictures inside of his mouth and then used them to make the thank you cards. It was totally "jawsome!"

{A "Jawsome" Photo Prop!}

For the main course, it was a build-your-own-shark-sandwich bar. I had found a 3-piece cookie cutter set on clearance at Walmart for $2.50 a few month ago. It included a shark, a dolphin (which I have not yet used), and a fish. The shark was too big for regular sandwich bread, but I was able to fit it onto a tortilla twice. Then, I bought turkey from the deli and used the shark cutter on that. The deli cheese was too small for me to use the shark cutter, so instead, I made lots of cheese fish. This way, people could build their sandwiches however they liked, and using tortillas was pretty smart because there was less waste than if I had used bread.

{Build-a-Shark-Sandwich Platter}

The shark watermelon turned out very well and made a huge impact. It wasn't too difficult, but it was pretty messy. It took around 45 minutes to carve, which is deceptively longer than the short YouTube video where I found the directions. I then used this website for backup since I could only watch the video so many times before getting frustrated by the lack of information. Anyway, I would probably make another carved watermelon again because it was worth it. It just might not be for everyone!

{This toothy fellow put in an appearance.}

I also served grapes, colorful Goldfish crackers, and the new Goldfish Puffs, which were kind of like fish-shaped cheese balls. All of that was simple and very kid-friendly. For the beverage, I mixed up some lemonade and added a few drops of neon blue food coloring. It was obviously a teensy bit green-ish, but the idea of ocean water was clear and nobody complained.

The Cake:
I had originally though to make a cute shark-shaped cake like this one, but then I decided to go easy on myself and just make cupcakes for the kids. (I always make the kids' birthday cakes because I am way too cheap to pay someone else to do it!) Cupcakes were perfect, anyway, since they are pre-portioned and you don't need plates or forks, which makes it easy for kids' parties.

I made a double-batch of my favorite white cake and included some blue food coloring in the batter. Then, I mixed up some buttercream frosting, which I also tinted blue. I baked the cupcakes in some blue and white chevron cupcake liners that I found at Michaels (Note: This is a good resource for inexpensive decorative cupcake liners. They are often in the $1 section, and when those go on clearance, it's a super deal!) because I thought this was reminiscent of both waves and shark teeth.

To top off the cupcakes, I added a gummi shark to each. These came from Meijer and I had gotten them on sale, two packages for $5. (I used more than one package, but less than two to top all 24 cupcakes.)

{They taste as good as they look.}

I don't usually buy disposable plates or cups for parties, so we just used our IKEA plates and cups. I did, however, pick up a package of blue napkins from Dollar Tree and stamp them with sharks to customize them for this party. Simple, cheap, and totally necessary!

{It's so easy to customize napkins for any theme!}

While this party did not cost tons of money, I did start begin making things about 3 weeks in advance, starting with my shark photo-prop. Overall, I was pleased with how things turned out. I had one very happy little boy, and I think all of his friends enjoyed his "jawsome" party, too!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When Exactly Does It Get Easier?

I often hear other moms say that "boys are easier." I usually just nod my head and smile, all the while thinking, Really? What's wrong with my son then? He is NOT easy! Or, more to the point, What's wrong with me?! I must be really messing up this business of parenting a boy... 

I understand what they're saying to some degree. I have a daughter, too, so I have experienced my share of  D-R-A-M-A -- and we are not remotely near the teen years. So, I get it, parenting a teenage girl likely leaves a mama with a few emotional scars that make parenting her son feel like a breeze by comparison.

And, my day of teenage girl drama will come...

But what about right now? What about these crazy-busy-can't-keep-up-with-him little boy days when I want to tear my hair out because parenting a boy is NOT easy. It's downright difficult and not at all for wimps. The list of mommyisms, things that I have said to my son and that I would never dream of saying to my daughter, is growing by the day!

  • "NO! We don't play catch with a rock!"
  • "Stop smooshin' ants and come eat lunch."
  • "We don't put our foot in the toilet."
  • "No peeing in the tub! No peeing on your sister!!"
  • "Hey, Buddy, 10 minutes, and then you've got to get pants on." (Because, you know, I don't want the other people at the bus stop to think I'm a bad mom!)

So, been-there-done-that moms, I know you mean well, but I don't agree that moms of boys hold the monopoly on "easy." While these exchanges with my little man were very different from ones I have had with my daughter, they weren't easier in any way. (Seriously, I have never had to tell her not to pee on her brother or beg her to wear pants outside of the house!) Can we please just agree that boys are different

While different has meant more dirt in more places (Some of them very odd -- How do his ears get so dirty?), more noise (Oh.My.Goodness. It's like he has only one volume setting: LOUD!), and more phone calls to poison control, it's not better or worse than the experiences I have had with his sister. The main distinction in the relationships between my kids and me is how we relate to each other. I am starting the believe that the saving grace of boys -- those messy little monsters who swing from the curtains and climb on EVERYTHING -- is just how much they love their mamas.

Take yesterday for instance, I was insanely frustrated because Logan would just not listen to me and he refused to follow any directions. He was begging me to take him "somewhere fun," and I asked him how I could possibly take him anywhere when he wasn't being a good listener. While Mia would have just huffed off, he dealt with this in his mischievously charming fashion. He grabbed my head, turned it toward his face, and then he covered me with tons of sloppy little-boy kisses.

Well, naturally I melted. How could anyone stay mad at the little Don Juan? But still, I have to wonder, When EXACTLY does it get easier?