Monday, March 31, 2008

Work their fingers to the bone

Today was chore day...

Really, I am not a bad mother, just because I make my kids do hard manual labor at the ages of 3 and 6. And lets not even get into the fact that Ben is still running a fever! Honest, I kept asking him if he wanted to go lay down and rest, but he wanted to do work.

Sarah and Ben both had their first lessons in laundry folding.


Ben learned to wash laundry.

Sarah Vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed...


While Ben cleaned the bathroom

And... helped make dinner
They were such a big help and they were so proud of themselves. We had a great afternoon and they went to bed asking what chores they can do tomorrow! Ha... suckers!

More about our Poppy Trip

On Saturday, the kids and I went to see the Poppies (Big Ben couldn't go because he was knee high in poop, but that's a story for later). I have tried to see them the last two years, but each time have been too late to catch much of the bloom. So this year, the trip was happening early, no matter what.
There are pictures of me as a little girl visiting the California Poppies. The only memories I have of them are the ones etched in my mind by the photos. So, like a dutiful parent, I intend to do the same to my children.
A little background on the California Poppy Reserve, from their official website:

This State Reserve, nestled in the Antelope Buttes 15 miles west of Lancaster, California, is located on California's most consistent poppy-bearing land. Other wildflowers: owl's clover, lupine, goldfield, cream cups, and coreopsis, to name a few, share the desert grassland to produce a mosaic of color and fragrance each spring. As unpredictable as nature - the intensity and duration of the wildflower bloom varies yearly.

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is located in the western Antelope Valley at an elevation ranging from 2600--3000 feet. It is the high desert. Until the early 1970's Sheep once grazed the buttes in the western Antelope Valley. Pronghorn grazed long before then, until the railroad of the 1880’s. Park management has excluded sheep from grazing the hillsides.

California State Parks does not water or use any other means to stimulate the flowers; the land is preserved to only be influenced by the natural forces that had once influenced all of our surroundings.

Doesn't that just sound thrilling and exciting? However, much to the concern of my children, I'm too cheap to pay the $5 parking fee to enter the reserve. Instead, the children and I, driving my little Corolla, off-roaded it. I'm not sure if we were supposed to go where we went, but we did. Besides the thrill of dodging the parking fee, the best part was that by doing this we were able to see the same poppies that are on the reserve, but we didn't have to see the crowds of people on the reserve.

Once again, Sarah was my star photo subject. Ben wasn't feeling well, and did not want to pose for pictures. I thought he was just being a pansy, but two hours later, he had a temperature of 103.5. Oh, why do my children do things like insist on having legitimate sicknesses while I am in the throws of picture selfishness? Is it so that later I must feel extreme amounts of guilt related anguish? Ok, I'm over it... now I might just have to go back, and put him through the torture again, so that I can get the happy pictures that I had my heart set on.

Anyway, the poppies, are the one and only thing I like about the Antelope Valley! They are beautiful and the opportunity for us to drive such a short distance off our mountain to see them, is truely an added bonus to living where we do.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008

Oh, happy dry day!

Bring out the bells and whistles! Everyone gather around and join in my great celebration!

My kids are pee'ers. We aren't talking occasional accidents, we are talking terrible potty training experiences and flooding their beds every night. They flood their bed and sleep right through, waking up in the morning laying in cold pee. I'm convinced it has something to do with my parenting style, but I've yet to figure out what. Somewhere along the way I just had to reassure myself that they wouldn't be 18 years old and still peeing their pants and then I moved on. As they've gotten older it has gotten better during the day. However, there is still the occasional embarrassment of my 6 year old laughing so hard in kindergarten that he comes home hiding wet pants with his backpack.

We've learned incredible coping mechanisms for dealing with the floods. I almost always carry extra underwear and pants in my car. Ben knows how to strategically cover wet spots with his backpack, sweatshirt or books. And Pullups! Pullups are our best friends. Like clockwork the kids put them on each night before bed. The thought of being without them is even a little scary.

Don't get me wrong, it isn't that I've resigned myself to this. Every few months, I've tried to move them beyond it. We have tried nights of sleeping in underwear, limiting evening liquids, waking them up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Nothing has worked.

Last night, the scariest thing of all happened. I was down to one pullup for 2 kids. Running to the local store to pick up some more isn't an option. There is no where in our little town to buy them without breaking the bank. I had no option but to talk to the kids about it. I explained the situation and told them that one of them would have to sleep in underwear. Little Sarah volunteered. She told me that she thought she could do it.

At dinner I reminded Sarah to not drink so much milk. I had her stop at the potty one last time before crawling into bed. Then an hour after bed time she called for me to tell me she needed to go to the bathroom. She got up and went. And the miracle... when she woke up this morning she was DRY. Dry as a bone! She was so excited and proud of herself. I think I might have been more excited. Ben, who wore a pullup to bed was extremely quiet about the whole matter.

I'm jumping on this. Now that I know she can do it, we aren't going to buy new pullups. Hopefully, the taste of success will motivate her to continue the trend.

Yayyy, Sarah!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Excuse me, I think I'm gonna be sick...

Warning: The pictures contained in this post may be disturbing.

I am a wuss!

The first time I remember being a wuss was when I was a freshman in high school health. I remember Mrs. Backman going over the details of compound fractures and explaining the first aid that should be administered. Other students were fascinated and asking multiple questions. But I sat quietly. The room began spinning and my stomach felt shaky. There is not much that is more embarrassing than having to draw attention to yourself in a freshman high school class by raising your hand and telling the teacher that you are going to be ill. Thankfully, she was sympathetic and excused me to step out for some air.

The episodes have continued. I don't know what it is about dilated eyeballs and nicotine patches that make me so sick, but I'll be darned if any detailed thought about them doesn't send me into queasiness. As a senior in high school the Red Cross lady told me it would probably be best if I didn't even try to give blood. Apparently, my blood isn't worth the hassle of reviving me if I passed out or the mess if I threw up in their care.

On one of my first visits with Ben's parents, the embarrassing wussiness came to light again. Ben's mom had recently been in the hospital and began telling us what had happened. When she started to describe details, I almost lost it. I tried to request that the description stop, but it seems difficult for many people to believe how wussy I can actually be. Finally, when I had to stand up and leave the room, the seriousness was conveyed.

I wish I didn't have this weakness. I wish I was as tough as my kids when it comes to gorey things. Heck, I wish I could at least articulate what it is exactly that triggers me... I also wish the word nauseous didn't make me sick, but it does, so I try to stick with queasy. I know this is really strange, isn't it?

On Saturday when I was making scalloped potatoes for Easter dinner, I scalloped myself. The slicer was dull and on the last potato for the dish, I sliced off the knuckle on my middle finger. I did a fantastic job of it. It seems that my knuckle was about the only thing the slicer was slicing well. Almost instantly I was bleeding, in pain and worst of all, the thought of what I had done was making me incredibly queasy. Luckily, Ben came to my aid. Even though my mom was standing right there next to me, the wuss gene is highly hereditary and she was as disgusted as I was. For three days I wasn't even able to look at the wound when Ben was changing the bandage for me. Finally, on Tuesday, I was able to look at it and even snap a couple of pictures. I don't believe these pictures really do it justice or show the depth of the wound. It still hurts! See, I warned you that I'm a wuss...


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My new camera

As promised, pictures taken with my new camera.

Sarah is enjoying Dr. Seuss week at school. Today was Wacky Wednesday. Last night we set out her planned "wacky" attire. However, when she got up this morning and started getting dressed she became concerned about the level of wackiness. She told me she wanted to make sure that noone would laugh at her. Ultimately, this is what she finally decided on wearing to school:




Just to show his support, Ben also wore two different shoes to daycare also.


This is what I saw on my way to work this morning. I had to pull over and get a picture.


Close your blinds, please!

We have neighbors who refuse to cover their windows. I am very disturbed by this. To add insult to injury, they are very large people. Honest, I'm not judging them for their size. I'm judging them for their brazen disregard of society standards of privacy. It isn't my fault that I can't help but stare in their window every time I pull in or out of our driveway. To make matters worse, they have nothing on their walls, not a picture or a painted wall. When their lights are on, all I can see is a giant picture window with a giant man sitting in his recliner.

The other two neighbors who have semi-direct views of this house, have moved and abandoned their homes without even selling them. It as if they were fleeing! I think I'm beginning to understand the reason.

Monday, when I got home from work, I discovered UPS had accidentally delivered a box to our house that was meant for our non-privacy seeking neighbors. Wanting to be a good neighbor I had to take the box over to them. It was a strange feeling to come face to face with the people who have hidden nothing of their personal lives from the neighborhood. This is the first time that I have technically had any interaction with these neighbors, even though I have felt that I have to much contact with their private life. When I got up close I discovered that they live in the most minimalistic, bare house I have ever seen. Even opting for tiled floors instead of carpet.

Their house has been up for sale since we moved into the neighborhood a year ago. I think maybe they need to watch that show on TLC about getting your house all prettied up to sell. Right now the curb appeal of a large man in a recliner... is not going to sell the house!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pictures of scetti

Broc and Maris left today. Ben took them to the airport. It has been an emotional day for everyone. Poor Big Ben! The only comforting thing is that we expect them back in a couple months at the beginning of June. Little Ben and Sarah will start their count down now.

After our weekend of excitement, Ben and Sarah require a quiet evening. Their mom probably does too. So I picked them up from daycare and told them that we would come home, put on our jammies, eat leftover Spaghetti for dinner and watch a movie before bed. That sounded like a good idea to them until Sarah decided that she doesn't want "scetti" for dinner. Before I even knew what had happened a war had erupted in the car. Ben was persistently trying to correct Sarah's pronunciation. "Sarah, it isn't 'scetti' it is buscetti!" To which Sarah, at first patiently corrected him that she was in fact correct and it is scetti. The debate quickly became quite heated as both children stubbornly insisted that they were absolutely correct. My addition to the conversation of the correct word pronunciation, accomplished nothing. The only way to silence the feud was to fill both of their mouths with some of those red saucy noodles.

When I got home this evening, I found a wonderful surprise that was delivered for me. Because I have been taking so many pictures and have been "stealing" Ben's camera to do it, he decided that I should have a good camera of my own. My new camera is much more of a point and shoot than Ben's, and my favorite thing is that it is pink. A perfect pink, that even matches my cell phone. So, look for lots of new pictures from my very pretty new camera.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

This is the extremely exciting view that greeted me at our house very early this morning. The Easter spirit is just oozing out of this group, isn't it?Unfortunately, our Easter celebration dawned on one sick little Maris. She has been running a fever since yesterday morning. No other symptoms, but she just generally doesn't feel good. This put a bit of a cramp in the festivities. True to form, Sarah is indeed her mother's daughter. She was the only one of the four kids to get into the Easter spirit. She woke up this morning so excited and ready to get her Easter dress on, go to church and was the only one willing to feed my need for massive amounts of Easter pictures. I'm feeling reassured that I will be able to raise her up to love the holiday as much as I do. I did make Ben pose for some pictures too, but the best I got from him was a picture that looks as if he is picking his nose (he keeps insisting it was a scratch, not a pick).
Here is a sampling of the fun that Sarah gave me:








Then for kicks, since she was the only one who was playing my little Happy Easter game with me, I took her to McDonald's for some " 'nilla with Strawberries" ice cream.

Because my other girl was completely NOT up to posing for any pictures, I'm adding a picture of her Easter basket so she can be part of the festivities also.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Ben's at it again

video

I apologize! This video NEEDED to be added. I'm sure we hadn't had enough of Ben's death act... It's just a phase, right?

Pictures



Click below to watch a video of Broc!

video

The person I want to be

Have you ever gotten to have that moment when you watch your child interacting with others and you realize that they have actually been listening to you? ... Yeah, I'm still waiting on it too. Actually, I'm only waiting on it because I didn't have the awareness to recognize it when it happened yesterday.

For a treat, we decided to take the kids to McDonald's for lunch. We went all out, even splurging on happy meals for each of them. Then we proceeded to make the utmost of parental sacrifices and sat at an itty bitty little table and watched the four kids play in the PlayLand. One by one, we started getting reports from each kid. They reported that strangers were pushing them and blocking the tunnels and just plain being obnoxious. Each time we repeated the standard parent playground saying and told them to just try to stay away from those kids.

When it was almost time to leave, Ben and Sarah came down the slide on one final turn. Sarah was leading the way and as Ben exited he could be heard giving other kids in the vicinity a tongue lashing. He told them, "The slide is made for sliding! Not for blocking and climbing up! If you can't play right you shouldn't be here!" Mortified, I jumped up and shouted to him, "Ben, stop it, be nice!" And he responded by looking up at me in shock. He came over to me and explained that he had asked them nicely twice, and they had pushed Sarah up at the top and now he had rammed into Sarah on the slide because they were blocking it. He also told me that the same kids had pushed Maris up at the top.

I had a moment of clarity realizing that he did exactly what I have always told him. He had followed my admonitions to: "Use your words!" "Stick up for your sisters!" "Ask nicely first!" "Don't let other people push you around!"

It was a new experience in parenting. I never expected the things I've taught him in theory to look so different in reality. Obviously, I immediately apologized to him, told him that he had done exactly the right thing and that I had been completely wrong to scold him for it. I realized that he was in fact being the person that I want him to be, but also the person that I am most often too scared to be myself. It was then, several minutes after the event, that I took advantage of the moment and swelled with pride!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Looking down from Heaven

After I posted that set of pictures I realized that the last two pictures really were a strange mix. Maybe it's my imagination but doesn't Broc look like an angelic being, looking down on our dearly departed little Ben? I know, I know, my interpretation just keeps getting more twisted every time I look at these pictures. Sorry!

Possibly, my new fascination with Photoshop is getting a bit out of hand...

Random Park Pictures

Today, turned out to be a fantabulous day. The morning drizzle cleared away and the sun came out. It was perfect for the kids to go play at the park.We need some tea and scones, please.
Look who's on top of the world.

Is it just me, or would this next shot make a good picture for a memorial service?
Oh, no! That's just wrong... lets pretend I never said that.
I'll try again... This is Ben's relaxed pose.


Ice cream and a straw

I'm hooked on ice cream. It's a weakness. Given an opportunity, I will almost always trade a nutritious meal for one comprised solely of ice cream. In fact as a freshman in college, once the novelty of eating every meal in a cafeteria wore off, I almost completely survived on two meals a day of soft serve ice cream. Honest, my roommates will attest to it! So, as I was headed to LAX yesterday at about lunchtime, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to hit a drive thru for some ice cream. I carefully weighed my frosty options and decided that a twister from Foster's Freeze would satisfy the need. I pulled off the freeway and waited in the drive thru. Through the scratchy speaker I clearly placed my order, "one small reese's twister, please!" The voice that confirmed the order to me said, "ok, so that's one small tortilla soup?" No, I repeated my order again and she seemed to have gotten it correct. Then I waited in line to get my ice cream. I was three cars back and they were s-l-o-w. When it was finally my turn at the window, I paid and watched through the window as the two ladies stood there talking and giggling before getting me my ice cream. At this point I was hungry and starting to get cranky having missed breakfast (please don't judge me for my very unhealthy decisions). Finally, they got back to work and brought my ice cream order. The girl handed me my small cup of ice cream with the ginormous chunks of candy in it, a big stack of napkins and a straw. I pulled forward and my spot at the window was replaced by the next car in line; it was then that I realized this must be some kind of joke on the chubby girl, a simple scheme for the amusement of fast food workers. They gave me this chunky ice cream with only a straw and a stack of napkins- to be eaten in the car. I momentarily pictured them laughing at the idea of me trying to eat this with a straw as I drove, at least they were kind enough to give me plenty of napkins to clean up the mess I was sure to make in the process. As I pulled around and parked my car to walk myself in for a spoon, I wondered if this was their way of making sure that I got some kind of exercise before consuming the massive amount of empty calories that I was insisting I NEEDED! Obviously, my ego is too great to entertain the notion that this was completely an accidental oversight.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What I found in LA

Look what I got today!



There have been only a few times in my life as a step-parents that I have really gotten to feel like these are my kids. Today, I got to have that feeling. When Broc and Maris walked off that plane, my heart lept. I had my kids, had them near me and had them safe. It is the best feeling in the world to have all four kids, the entire brood, home. In my heart I feel that this is their safe place, this is where they belong. I just want to hold them tight, never let them go. I want to surround them with the home they deserve, a place where they can have their daddy's influence and example daily in their lives.





Just look at that smile...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

One MAD boy!



Who is this boy? Is this my sweet, cuddly, loving boy? He was maaad that no one was around to play with him at the park. However, I loved the pictures of a rarely witnessed side of my boy...



AAA

I don't often take on confrontation, but for the sake of my husband who does so much I decided to take on a challenge. I have been a member of AAA (the Auto Club) for 53 years. Don't scratch your head too hard pondering this, please. I promise I am not sensationalizing for blogging purposes. I even have a pretty gold membership card with my name on it and it says 53 years as a member. Yes, I am a very loyal member, so loyal that I was a member for over 20 years prior to my birth. And I've always been very happy with them. That is until last week... Ben's car, the convertible that holds a very tender spot in his heart has had running troubles for the last year. Basically, it hasn't run. Well Ben has nursed all of its ailments only to now find that it has a dead battery. Not a little bit dead, a completely dead, can't even jump start it battery. This should be relatively simple compared to the other work he has done, but it isn't! The battery is buried deep in the recesses of the machinery. Apparently, according to Ben, it is in the wheel well, making it very difficult to access and change. I knew I could solve this problem for him! As a AAA member I'm entitled to battery changes. They bring the battery truck to your residence, you pay them for the new battery and they will change it for you. So, I called last week... the driver came out and proceeded to give it a jump start. No, no, no, that is not what I told the Roadside Assistance people that I wanted. Ben came in and told me that the driver told him they don't change batteries. Confused, I immediately called AAA back. The person on the phone put me on hold for what seemed like an eternity to research the situation. Finally, coming back to tell me that there are no companies contracted in the Tehachapi area to provide this service, because we are considered rural. They were sorry but there was nothing they could do.

After a weekend of pondering it, I decided this just wasn't acceptable. I have been a member for 53 years! Does that not entitle me to some kind of "special" treatment? I can't imagine that they have had many members as long as they've had me, do they really want to risk losing me? So yesterday, with all the determination I could muster, I called back. I held firm to the idea that it wasn't my fault this promised service wasn't contracted in my area. I've been paying my dues for 53 years to have NATIONAL roadside assistance. I spent an hour and a half on the phone with them. All the while Ben was telling me not to worry about it, he will just change the darned battery himself. NO WAY, by this time it was the principle of it! At one point they told me that I could upgrade to the "plus" membership. "No," I told them... the membership I have has been all I've needed for the last 53 years and it should be all I need now! Finally, at the end of the 90 minute conversation they conceded. I was so proud of myself. They will waive the towing mileage restrictions that my membership has and will tow the car to Bakersfield or Lancaster, where I can get someone to change the battery at no additional charge.

I won the battle! However, then I realized that I may have won the battle, but ultimately they won the war. Now, I will have to ride 45 minutes in the cab of a truck with a tow truck driver to get the battery changed. That can't possibly be considered a win for me, can it?

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Big Freeze

It's a thing of beauty! Who would have guessed ten years ago that I could possibly become so excited by such a utilitarian appliance, but I am! Oh, how time and motherhood changes priorities. I have long wanted a large "extra" freezer. I have shopped for one, compared the options and finally settled on this very energy efficient baby. It took a little bit of work to convince Ben that buying a brand new appliance was the way to go, but when I was able to present him with the fact that this brand new chest freezer would only cost us an average of $22 per year in energy, he was convinced and then when it went on sale... we got to go down to good ol' Home Depot and pick it up. And best of all it makes a great place to set my tray of garden seedlings. The freezer joined our household on Saturday afternoon. When I woke up on Sunday morning and looked out the front door, I realized that possibly my freezer had gotten a little carried away...





It looked like my brand new freezer had cast a chill on the entire mid-march world. The snow melted quickly, and was really just enough to remind us that a couple of days of spring-like weather in Tehachapi does not mean that winter has relinquished it's hold.



The cold weekend kept me inside working on my canning projects. This weekend brought a large batch of 11 quarts of refried beans and 12 pints of cubed ham (which I might add was on sale this last week for only 99 cents a lb.)





Every time I can something new, I am so proud of the results. Aren't they pretty?


Even though things were very busy and hectic here, the kids did find a chance to get outside and play with the neighbors and Sarah even got a little bike riding lesson from Big Ben.















Coming soon... grass in the front yard. Ben finished the sprinkler system today! Yayy!

Friday, March 14, 2008

My blog baby

I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about this little blog of mine and about the blogging world as a whole. As I said before, I have spent many hours lurking on the blogs of other people. Read details about people's lives, most of these people complete strangers to me. This plays on my fascination about other people's lives. I believe blogs were made for people like me, I'm a person who loves having a window into other's lives. Blogs provide me with a different version of glancing into lit windows at twilight as I drive by on my way home from work, something I've always secretly enjoyed. I've always been curious about strangers' lives, curious if they are mostly similar to me or if they are quite different. Then today, I realized that having a blog of my own is the same as cracking my own front window curtain. Then I have to wonder, if I'm cracking my curtain, what is it that can be seen through my window...

So what is it I want my blog to convey? I've read the blogs of other people that are witty and creative, I've read those that are written by people who believe they are a little more witty than they really are, those that are brilliantly talented, people that I want to learn from, and people that are inspiring me. I check in to some of these blogs almost daily, hoping for an update... has *** had her baby yet? I wonder what *** made for dinner last night? Maybe *** has posted advice for how to preserve green beans? And did *** post new pictures of the kids yet? In the end, I'm not quite sure how my blog will turn out. I think having a blog will be like having another baby. I can put my heart and soul into it, help it to develop a personality. Like a baby, my blog will grow and change over time.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Afternoons






So the newest thing I've been trying is that the kids and I have been getting up extra early in the mornings. We get to work/daycare about an hour earlier than normal. The trade off for this is that I work through my lunch and I am able to pick them up two hours earlier in the afternoon. I'm determined that these two hours are completely just for them. We just started this new schedule this week. So far I absolutely LOVE it. We have gone to the park, made a cake and today we worked on Easter cards. They worked so hard on them. We sat together and colored the pieces that would make the cards. I am loving spending the time with the kids.



We also had an injury today. When I picked Ben up from school, his chin was all scraped up. Apparently, my very coordinated child tripped and his chin lost a fight with the cement on the playground.

Hiding


Some how this looked like the perfect hiding spot... I sure can't see them, can you?

Easter is coming


I am so excited for Easter! It IS my favorite time of year. I've been spending hours planning my Easter menu, Easter cards and fabulous Easter crafts for the kids to do. I would be such a happy mom if I could make it as exciting for them as it is for me. This afternoon Ben and Sarah and I will be putting together our Easter cards and hopefully we will get them out in the mail tomorrow.

Taking Easter pictures this year was quite the experience. Two days ago the kids and I picked up some plastic eggs and bunny ear headbands before heading off to the park. By the time we got there the sun was getting a little low, making it difficult for them to keep their eyes wide open long enough for me to snap a picture and the wind was kicking up a little. Their bunny ears kept blowing off their heads. Oh, the lenths my kids have to go to humor their mother! I will post the pictures on here shortly.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

First Post


Since I have become an avid lurker of other people's blogs, I decided the least I can do is contribute something to the blog society. I think I have long resisted because I have firmly believe dthat nothing in my life is nearly as interesting as the things that I read about on the blogs of other people. However, that being said... I've come to realize that any family with four children has its fair share of antics and excitement to share. I thought the perfect time to start a blog would be the spring season. We are anxiously awaiting a visit from Broc and Maris next week. Sarah asks me almost daily if today is the day we get to go pick them up from the airport. I think next time we will need to make her a countdown calendar.
I hope that our family and friends will check back often to find updates about our clan!