Thursday, December 29, 2011


Grandma and grandpa came for Christmas. Did I mention that was happening? I don't know if I did. Here's how that happened:

First, we told everyone that Dan in on his ortho rotation and thus will not be able to take any vacation time during either Thanksgiving or Christmas. In fact he would need to be working both Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. Next, my family decided to have Thanksgiving at our house instead of at my parents. It was our family's turn for Thanksgiving this year. That was awesome. No lugging the second trimester me through the airport with two others in tow and a stroller to collapse through the x-ray scanner. No huge amounts of carry-ons to try and entertain the kids. No layovers. No feeling sick because of lack of food, or bad food, or healthy snacks that Dan decides is the only thing we're eating between breakfast and dinner. Yes, Thanksgiving with family at home is the way to go. After Thanksgiving, I repeatedly, and I'm going to claim innocently, mentioned on the phone to my parents how having a day with nothing to do alone with my kids isn't really a holiday for me. I call that Wednesday. Dan's family is huge (or rather normal sized if you're Mormon) so getting them to all come out for Christmas was completely out of the question. But since it was the in-law year for Christmas with my family, and I currently have the grandkids, my parents decided to fly in to see us instead of going down to see my grandparents.

SWEET! That meant that grandma and grandpa came for Christmas and helped to make the whole weekend simply magical. And it was magical. My kids loved every second of it. And yes, there were tears in the car after we pulled away from the airport without grandma and grandpa.

So we are now two days post holiday season and I've learned a few things. The first is that when my husband isn't around very much to back me up on discipline I tend to let a lot of things slide. Then when he is around I realize I've been letting it slide and probably that's not a good idea. The second involves vacation. As it turns out it doesn't matter if you travel, or if you plan anything super exciting to do, if family is coming then you are on vacation. To small children that translates to vacation rules apply. Vacation rules mean that there are so many adults around and they are all trying to relax so you will probably get whatever it is that you want.

You know where I'm heading with this don't you? We have hit a wicked case of vacation detox like slamming into a brick wall at 70 mph. Yesterday my son screamed in my face at my back and in the car for a solid hour because I made him wear a coat to the dog park. I'm a horrible mother because I insist on coat wearing in 30 degree weather! HORRIBLE. Today my daughter sat at the kitchen table and cried and screamed and choked on her own snot for a half hour because I told her she needed to eat her orange slices at breakfast. There were four orange slices. She loves oranges, but these had "cracks" in them that unbeknownst to me made them inedible.

Before lunch we went to Target to pick up some clear plastic totes because the kids have grown out of a size of clothing and thus we need to pack them up and put them in the attic. If I don't put them out of sight they come out of their bedroom dressed looking a little bit like homeless kids that don't have adequate clothing. Never mind there are five other pairs of pants that are long enough, they want to wear the pairs that are two inches too short. Then trying to get them to change turns into a raging battle of wills. While we were at Target my son decided to run down all the aisles. He is doing this with increasing frequency and I need to come up with a technique to stop that because he rounded the corner and ran right into this lady. Hard enough to make her make that sound you hear in the comics when someone gets hit. I was so embarrassed I took him by the arm and we walked right to the checkout and left the store. we are all on a one hour long "quiet time" break. Greg is in his bed. Charlotte is in my bed and I'm in the basement. I hope having a little more rest will help them, but probably we just have to live through this detox. I will have to keep reminding myself to stay strong and no matter how silly it seems they do in fact need to obey the rules of the house. How long does it take to get vacation out of the system?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Story

Charlotte left her new shoes out.

The dog chewed through the strap rendering them useless.

I took them in to the only shoe repair guy in town (that I know of) hoping for some sort of miracle wherein the guy could raise these shoes from the dead.

Turns out he could.

He said it would cost $8.

In the shop I turned to Charlotte and I told her she was paying as much as she could of that because she left the shoes out.

Today we picked the shoes up and he totally fixed them. You can't hardly tell the strap was torn in half.

Charlotte unzipped her green m&m money purse and dumped all her change onto the counter.

He helped us make little piles of pennies and we all counted it out.

$3.62 (mostly in pennies)

I opened my wallet to pay the difference.

He said that was OK and he'd just take the $3.62.

I walked out of the shop a little dazed by the kindness.

I hope to re-tell this story to Charlotte when she can understand it a little better.

And maybe me too.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Christmasness

Dan's hair was so long that while he was driving in the car on Saturday I looked at his profile and the front of the hair made a complete circle. I told him he looked somewhat whoville-ish. Today we cut it.

While I was cutting his hair Charlotte found a dishtowel and a headband. Then she found one of Dan's blue shirts and gave Greg a white one. They got out the broom and proceeded to walk around the house. In case you, like I, can't figure out what they were playing, I'll let you know. She had decided that they were playing Mary and Joseph. The broom was the donkey. There was no Jesus. Then, when Joseph decided that he would rather play "Joseph to the rescue" instead of being Mary's loving husband leading the donkey, she decided that her game would be "Mary at the concert." She got out the battery operated keyboard and microphone (thanks to my brother for his kind and thoughtful Christmas gift last year) and sang songs dressed as Mary. Then said that Mary was coming to the concert and she hoped that Mary would think that her costume was authentic and would look just like Mary looked a long time ago(even wearing blue). Meanwhile Joseph was running around upstairs rescuing all sorts of people, animals, and yes, even bad guys.

Also, I can't remember if it was earlier in the day or later, well, I guess it had to be earlier because after the haircuts (Greg got one too) the boys went off to shower and then it was jammie time. So as I was saying, earlier in the day the kids decided that the s'more/snowmen ornaments all needed to be taken off the tree and sent to school. Ever since the newest batch of ornaments arrived from Grandma they have been intensely exciting. They searched the tree over for all the ornaments with their names on them (Charlotte directing, of course, because Greg has yet to really recognize his own name). Then they lined them up and the girl figures went to dance school while the boy figures played what I think could most accurately be described as sneak up on the girls and shoot them. The very strict dance instructor (Charlotte) did not appreciate her dance students being shot at one bit and class time had to be ended when I looked over and found Charlotte standing on top of Greg pinned to the ground.

And that's how I can tell that Christmas is only a week away.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


**Editorial Note** This post is about pee. If you don't want to read it that's OK. Stop now. My dad says it's too much, but I don't think so.

Having never been a boy or had brothers around my age there are certain aspects of boyhood that I seem to be finding out along the way. The most recent revelation has been about potty training. It took quite a bit more patience with Greg than with Charlotte, but now that I feel he's potty trained, I look back and realize that there were far fewer moments of "I have to go potty" in completely inappropriate places. I remember many times with Charlotte finding my palms are sweating and I'm nervously looking around for a toilet with the desperation of a crack addict trying to find his next hit.

Yes, this time around took longer, but was a lot less stressful.

There is just one aspect of this that I have such a hard time with boys. Aim. You can't just plop a boy down on the potty and tell him to go because then you may just get pee all down the front of you or on your pajama pants or maybe even across the room. In fact going potty in public restrooms is one of my least favorite activities in the world (good thing I make Dan do this with him as much as possible). My technique to avoid pee on me is to take one shoe off and actually take one leg out of pants and undies. That way the legs can be far enough apart that he wont get peeps on me or himself. The problem then is do I let him put his foot down on the floor wearing only a sock? Gross.

So yesterday I thought to myself, enough! I'm teaching him to pee standing up. That has got to be a much more simple process. Cue the laughter. I set up his step stool next to the potty and carefully instructed him as to the aiming process. Then he proceeded to pee all over the toilet, wall, toilet paper, me, mirror, and floor.

I think we're going to stick with the one leg out technique for a while.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Yesterday my kids slept in. Then got up and proceeded to argue. Then, not even a half hour after waking up, asked to watch TV. I had had it. I declared a TV free day. Clearly they had not been having enough practice at playing with and being nice to each other.

Don't you think that TV is the best and worst thing to ever happen? It can give my kids some good entertainment and Charlotte knows so much stuff that she just learned off the TV. It was because of Disney that I was able to take my first alone shower after having Charlotte. Yes, it took over a year for that to happen. Then again, it can give my kids some pretty nasty attitudes (and they don't even watch bad shows) that make me want to not be around them. Then I want them to watch more to stay away from me, but then they are acting worse. It's a horrible cycle that I have to keep on top of every single day of my life, but I don't hate TV. It is great if used wisely.

Anyway, the day went pretty well considering I had nothing planned and we spent the entire thing inside. I didn't even shower and get dressed until 2 pm. I was too busy, organizing tea parties, fighting monsters, and reading stories in between laundry, dishes, changing bed linens, and scrubbing the downstairs bathroom for that. By the way, just because you never use the downstairs bathroom doesn't mean it is never used. If your husband showers down there every morning*, and your kids pee in that toilet, and the dog walks around on the floors it will get dirty. If you just pretend like it doesn't exist then when you actually look at it you might be a little revolted by the dirty grout and peed on toilet and water stains on everything. Also maybe the mud up the walls might be a little disgusting. I'm just talking hypothetical here.

Anyway, yesterday we also spent quite some time wrapping Christmas presents. The kids had previously gone to the dollar store and purchased presents for each other and we had a few things tucked away that needed wrapping. So we wrapped and then put out presents that had been sent. I have hesitated to do this before now because I worried that the dog would try to eat them. She is still a puppy and chews. She is tricky about it though. She'll spend the entire morning at your feet looking up at you like what? I'm the most obedient thing ever. You don't have to worry about me. And so you let your guard down. Mistake. Big mistake because then you end up having to pry something out of her mouth. But Dan said we should give it a shot so we set the presents out. Do you know how much having actual presents under the tree changes the excitement level for Christmas? They BOTH get it now. They both can't wait to get and give and enjoy. Now 12 days sounds like an eternity. Before we did our countdown to Christmas morning routine and then pretty much forgot about it for the rest of the day. Now the ornaments are 10 fold more exciting. They just figured out that the snowmen ornaments are actually s'mores too and that s'more in the car has made its rounds around the coffee table more times than I can count. Now there will be no forgetting. There will only be smiles and giggles and how many days and "I can't waits."

Also, Katie, if you were wondering if Charlotte guessed what you and the ear doctor got for her, then yes, she felt that package up and down and then declared, "I think they got me books!" in high pitch terrier mode. My daughter gets so excited over new books.

We also read all of our Christmas books again yesterday. Did you know that The Polar Express has a picture of a train or car on almost every page? Yes, yes it does. And I'm also finding that not only does that capture Greg's attention, but he loves the way the words sound. He will mumble along with me as I'm reading that book about half a word behind. It's a good thing I grew up with a dad that always walked about 10 feet behind the rest of the family. I learned young that you don't slow down to let him catch up because then he just slows down too and then you're walking along at the pace of a snail and everyone is cranky. Same thing with Greg and books. Don't slow down because so will he. You will never finish. Just forge ahead and he will follow.

Today we were driving past the golf course. Just after the golf course is a little bit of trees that my son said is, "The dark forest where lean wolves roam." Then I asked if white tailed rabbits hide there too and he said, "Umm, yes." Only those of you who have read The Polar Express will get that reference.

Another thing he said that has nothing to do with anything else I wrote earlier is that Uncle Garret went back to Minneapolis. I told him that no, he went back to Denver because that's where he lives. The airport is in Minneapolis and the plane goes to Denver. Then he said, "I want to go to Dembo." Me too son, me too.

*Just for clarification Dan showers in the basement so it doesn't wake up the dog which is weird, I know, but it keeps her asleep until I get up in the morning. If he showers in the bathroom attached to our bedroom then she sees the light and thinks it's time for everyone to start the day. Sorry Percie, I'm not starting my day at 4 am.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Computer Work

Today I started doing all my To Do stuff that I do on the computer at noon. I finished 3 hours later.

I like to put off computer work.

I like to put off balancing the budget.

Just one more note: A cash only system only works if you only use cash. Just thought you might like to know that.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Christmas Crafts

Well, they're never going to be featured in a magazine, but we've been really enjoying doing some Christmas crafts together. Here are a few of my favorites.

Behold the toilet paper snowmen:
And also the cardboard Christmas tree with homemade ornaments, button garland and yarn garlands. They decorated the whole thing by themselves.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Program

Last night was Charlotte's preschool Christmas program. It was hilarious. A whole bunch of 4 and 5 year olds screaming songs they don't know all the words to and doing the actions along with it. After it was over I had to ask Charlotte to sing them for me again so I could actually figure out the words. She knew most of the words on her own.

Dan knew it was the Christmas program that night, but he was on call until 6 pm and couldn't actually get out of the hospital until 6:50 and the program started at 7. I was worried I'd have to tell Charlotte sorry Daddy couldn't make it. He texted me at 6:55 saying he was on his way and I think he almost killed himself getting there in record time.

The best part came twice though. First, once when the kids were lined up on the risers and Charlotte was worryingly looking around. When she saw Greg and I sitting in the audience (off to the side so Dan could slip in when he came) her face lit up and she had a bright smile on her face. Right then I knew I would clap my hands right off in order to get her to smile like that at me again.

Then, over halfway through the program, Dan finally made it. Charlotte was singing away when she looked over and saw her daddy in the audience. She smiled, jumped up and down and completely lost her place in the song. I thought Dan was going to cry. I know I sure did (but I think I can probably blame that on the pregnancy).

Greg's favorite part was the cheese, crackers and meat refreshments.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Kicking Myself

You guys, I just bought Dan a great Christmas gift. I think he needs it and it will be good for him to have here in the winter. I just bought him an awesome Eddie Bauer winter coat.

Then this morning as I was driving along thinking about what I could do to help him unwind a bit I thought of trying to give him some time to himself. He doesn't have much down time and the kids and I monopolize it 100%. He doesn't have anything for himself and when I manage to quiet down the selfish neither do I voice in my head, I realize that it's not right for him to have nothing.

Then I remembered a comment from someone about a climbing gym around here that I was completely unaware of. I looked it up online and checked it out. It looks pretty amazing and reasonably priced even though there's no way he'd spend anything like that on himself. So if anyone was still needing ideas for him for Christmas (which I think everyone has one already) or are planning far in advance for his birthday (which some of you do), you could get him a day pass, or a punch card. That way he could go when he happens to have a free night and isn't too exhausted. He could even head out after the kids are in bed.

Am I regretting my purchase for him? Absolutely not. Am I wishing I had more to give? Always.

A Revelation

Did you know that my husband likes to play with our kids? I don't mean that he likes candyland or operation (which my kids call orthopedics) or any other structured "kid" games. He's not even particularly into building trains. What he likes, I mean really likes, is to horse around or rough house.

That's why I was so excited when it started snowing Saturday afternoon. I was hoping that he would get home in time to play with the kids, but paperwork which should have taken 1 hour ended up taking 3. He got home after dark. Charlotte was devastated when I told her she couldn't build a snowman in the dark.

Luckily he had Sunday off. After church was planned playtime. I knew he was tired and probably wanted to watch the game, but the lure of snow to a man who spent years on the Washington coast was too much for him. Although Greg fell asleep on the way home, he helped Charlotte into her winter clothing, layered up himself, retrieved the snow saucer from the attic and took to the backyard with Percie. They had a blast and stayed out there for an hour and a half. They even took Percie on the disc with them down the hill. I would have loved to see the three of them on that thing together. I stayed inside to make dinner.

Then last night, after the kids were in bed, he kept telling me, "Charlotte really loves the snow. She really loved playing today." He would just stop what he was doing to tell me this with a smile on his face. He was smiling! To which I replied, "I know. So did you. I knew you would." I just wish there were more chances for magic like that to happen.