Monday, January 31, 2011

Building blocks

This weekend I helped Brynn achieve a goal as she played with her alphabet blocks.  She wanted to build a tower that used all of the blocks, making it as tall as possible.  Before assisting her, however, I sat and watched as she worked toward achieving that goal, with little to no success.  At first, B stacked blocks individually, one on top of another.  Of course, that method worked for about 10 blocks before they succumbed to gravity and toppled back down with the other blocks, anxiously awaiting their turn to be placed atop another. 

Next, Brynn decided to take a pair of blocks, place them next to each other, and build up from there.  The idea was that the pairs of blocks would support each other along the height of the structure, preventing it from falling.  Pretty good for a little tyke, but of course, as the height grew and grew, each member of the pair began to tilt away from each other, creating a noticeable gap between the two, before once again falling back down.  It was at this point I had to mask my face so she wouldn't see me smirking at her response to failure.  She huffed, puffed, and was beyond frustrated at the idea that something 'blew her house down'.  Her little arms were crossed in front of her, her bottom lip was out, her head was down, and she let out an audible 'hmmpf'.  After a moment of this, she looked up at me and said, "mommy, you help me build a tower" (Brynn never 'asks' us for help, but rather 'tells' us how we can help--charming, right?!).

I sat down to help Brynn, and after some discussion, we decided we'd build a base of 6, followed by groups of 4 blocks, then 3 blocks, and we'd twist the tower slightly as the height grew (ok, so technically we didn't discuss this...I tried Brynn's *charming* approach and 'told' her what we were doing, rather than 'ask' her). 

And thus, the building began...


I think the smile on her face says it all (that, and the empty cloth bag behind her).  We achieved her goal, and Brynn was thrilled (that is, until she decided the tower was cold, and tried to put a blanket over the top of it--can't win 'em all, I suppose!)

The metaphor of Brynn's building blocks was something that I found very appropriate for what I'm working on in my life right now.  Having been in tears several times this week due to stress, my mind and body have been craving a reminder of how to attain the goals I am setting for myself and my family.  I know it's a work-in-progress, however acknowledging that fact is part of the process to success.

I thought about Brynn's response to failure.  Pouting and crying, while adorable (on her), isn't the most effective way to respond to trials and tribulations.  Earlier this week, my mother-in-law reminded me that it's ok to cry.  This was a wonderful reminder (and definitely appropriate at the time), as crying is a good way to release the valve on stress, however I'm not making it my goal to cry all the time.

Instead, I'm working on the way in which I respond to my situation.  For example, with Randy, I'm working on responding with 'discussions' as opposed to 'arguments'.  It wasn't that long ago that I was immediately on the defensive when situations and issues arose, which would inevitably lead to a fight.  Rather, my approach now is to try maintaining a calm voice, stating things in a more positive way, and using rational thought, not the irrational and off-the-handle smart-alec responses I used to provide so frequently provide.  I'm not sure if Randy's noticed a big change or not, however I'm hoping that as I continue to grow, the difference becomes more apparent.  I'm working on responding differently to my kids.  As *ideal* a mom I'd like to think of myself, there are times when I'm at my wit's end and respond in a way that's much hasher than I intended.  I'm working on responding differently to situations at work.  Developing and maintaining a positive rapport with my colleagues, my students, and their parents requires a delicate balance of responses, attitudes, and behaviors...and I'm working on all of that.  I'm working on responding differently to family.  More specifically, I'm working on refining a way to respond to the family with whom I don't have contact.  I'm seeking for the peace in my decisions, for some closure, for a peaceful understanding and respect for the choices I've made.  Sounds like I have a lot of work to do...

Which got me thinking a little more about those blocks.  I think of when Brynn started building, stacking blocks one by one, with little success, as her structure lacked the necessary supports it needed to grow and thrive.  She was successful to a point, before the tower buckled under the stress of having to support itself. 

She showed some intuition as she realized that by taking a pair of blocks and stacking them next to one another, she could reach higher heights than the solo stack.  At first, this approach appeared to be successful.  The blocks were supporting each other along the way, resting against one another as the height grew.  At one point, however, the design began to show signs of weakness.  Rather than the pairs of blocks working together, they succumbed to the stress of being the other's sole support, and the towers began to tilt away from each other, before inevitably toppling.

It wasn't until Brynn and I worked together, came up with a design together, that we reached our goal.  We built a base of 6 blocks, then used 4 blocks, and later 3 blocks on each layer, to achieve the height Brynn desired.  The design wasn't just reliant on the number of blocks however, but the slight twists and turns we made in each layer as the height grew, to overcome the tower's desire to tilt away from the core of the design.  Eventually, we used all the blocks, and as Brynn carefully, carefully placed the last block on the top, I held my breath and silently 'willed' the tower to remain standing.  Thankfully, it worked.

Brynn's first tower reminded me that I can't do everything alone.  I might be able to reach certain heights using my own strength, my own capabilities; however I will succumb to the stresses, and will fall.  Her second tower relied on pairs of blocks resting against one another, supporting each other's needs as the tower reached higher and higher.  The trouble came, however, when the pairs of block became overwhelmed by the stresses of being the sole support for the other block.  They started to want different things, tilting away from the central core of the tower.  This second tower reminds me that while Randy and I are partners in marriage, parenting, and life, we cannot solely rely on each other for our happiness, success, and contentment.  We support each other wonderfully, however if it's just 'us', the partnership starts to tilt away from each other because the stress becomes too much to sustain, and it topples. 

When Brynn and I worked together, however, we created a design that not only had multiple supports for the other blocks in the tower, but also twisted and turned throughout the design, to accommodate the needs of the tower.  As the individual stacks began to tilt away from the tower, the shifts and twists along the way brought the group of blocks together to continue on the right path upward. 

This last tower is exactly what we need in life.  We need to have a strong base, supporting the entire structure along the way, followed by not just one, but multiple support systems.  These supports must be flexible enough to adapt and adjust to things life throws at them along the way, and therefore can twist, turn, and shape themselves around these trials and tribulations.  They all need to work together to attain the goal, and while sometimes there are a few blocks that play a larger role than others, in the end they're able to all play a vital role in the overall success of the tower.

I am blessed in my life to have my husband, children, family, friends, co-workers who all provide support for me as I strive to achieve my goals.  I know I'm a work in progress.  My tower might sway, my blocks might shift and keep me from growing at the speed at which I'd like, however I also know that aside from my the supports I've named, I have the unyielding support of God.  His guidance has become more prevalent in my life, especially over the past 9 months, since we lost Dad last April.  I spend more time talking to Him, seeking guidance to help Randy, my kids, my family, myself in our struggle to comprehend our loss. 

I know I'm a work in progress.  My tower is building slowly, with strong supports and the guidance from God to keep me going in the right direction.  Brynn's towers reminded me to keep the faith, try again when I fail, and rely on others for help...even if I have to 'tell' people, rather than just 'ask' for help. 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
~Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, January 28, 2011

a 'sub'-par dinner, and dee-wish-ous dessert

I love Fridays.  Well, let me clarify.  I love Friday evenings.  After a non-stop work week, I relish in the promise of two whole days where I can lounge around, relax, and do things at my leisure, rather than answer to alarm clocks, school bells, and the constraints of a clock (most of time, at least).  Friday evenings typically mean a good amount of 'cuggle time' with the kids following either dinner out or ordering in.

Tonight, we ordered from Firehouse Subs for the first time.  After searching the web for their menu, we discovered we could order from their site and pick it up at the quoted time.  Score.  A few clicks of the mouse later, and we were informed that we could pick up our turkey bacon ranch subs, Gavin's hot ham and cheese, and Brynn's meatball sub in 20 minutes at 6:06.  I headed out to pick up a gallon of milk and drove over to the sub shop.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I received a phone call from Firehouse to call and confirm that I'd placed my order.  Not a promising sign...

About a minute later I walked in, told them who I was and they asked me for clarification on one of the sandwiches.  Not a good sign.  It didn't take long for me to realize they had yet to start our order.  I sat my large (hungry) belly down at one of their tables and began to wait.  And wait.

And wait.

And wait.  For 20 minutes.

Technically, they told me it would take 20 minutes to get our order together, and I guess they were true to their word.  But, the whole concept of 'order ahead and don't wait' was sort of lost in translation.  The worst part?  I couldn't even really walk out...they had us pay when we placed the order.  Trapped.  Yeah, I could have left...told them I wanted to cancel my order, made sure my card wasn't chared, and just go.  But.  I'm pregnant.  My brain was fixated on the promise of turkey bacon ranch.  I was literally feet from all the components of my sandwich, watching with slight annoyance as they (slowly) assembled the ingredients.  I didn't really 'watch', as I was sitting and the counter was kind of high, even for me, but I got the idea.  So whether financially or psychologically or both...I was trapped. 

When I finally arrived home, we sat down to eat; all starving at this point.  I opened the clamshell container that housed Brynn's meatball sandwich and watched as her face twisted into a disappointed and confused look.  Meltdown in 5, 4, 3, 2,...'that's not a sandwich!  I want a sandwich!'.  Ummm...what?  I didn't quite know how to explain to Brynn that what she was eating in fact is categorized as a sandwich.  Meat, cheese, bread.  There aren't too many things these ingredients could qualify as, especially considering the manner in which they were prepared.  Of course, she didn't quite believe me, and proceeded to cry.  Being a Friday night, I had zero energy to even attempt to discuss it further.  Knowing it was Brynn I was dealing with further solidfied my choice to just ignore her.  This was B.  She would be over it soon enough, and if she wasn't...oh well.  She wouldn't starve, and she could eat it tomorrow. 

Sure enough...I was right to ignore my hearbroken daughter, because about 5 minutes later...

Was it the delicious meatball sub she found irresistible?  Possibly.  Both Randy and Gavin ate every last bite of their sandwiches, in record time to boot.  However, she could have been like me...filled with overall disappointment.  I ordered my sub, sans mustard.  Shockingly enough, the geniuses behind the counter not only struggle with reading a clock, but apparently an order as well  (I calling is a bit mean.  I used to be in the food service business for years as a teenager, so I know mistakes happen.  But I'm just being a bitter prego lady--so go with it).

Brynn finally finished her sandwich, and I quickly discovered what I believe is the true cause of her overcoming her issues with her 'non-sandwich' sandwich so quickly...

oreo cookies!



and bite!

a rogue cookie fell into her milk!

mmm...dee-wish-ous, mommy!

being adorable is often times her saving grace!
Overall: Firehouse Subs ranks a 'C' with me.  Because, afterall...'C' is for cookie!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Many hats, one heart

Mommyhood isn't an easy job.  Neither is teaching.  Nor being a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and all the while staying true to myself.  Wearing so many hats, having so many things to balance, and trying to maintain sanity through it all takes its toll--mentally, emotionally, get the idea.  Right now my 'balance' is off, my strength is weakened, and yet I'm feeling quite guilty for complaining about anything, especially considering how blessed I am in my life. 

It's not very often that I can say I had a 'bad day'.  I have 'blah' things that happen to me but then I put things into perspective, and it changes my attitude.  If that doesn't work, I'll try to find the humorous side of things, I'll indulge in (several) sweet treats, I'll do something silly with my kids, I'll make something crafty, I'll have myself a good cry, or, because of my recent resolution, I'll write.  Today was one of those 'bad days', where I tried not just one, not two, but all of those 'tricks'.

My mother-in-law text me today just as I was getting into the car from picking up the kids at daycare.  The message said 'luv u'.  Sweet and simple, but the timing couldn't have been more ideal (I'm guessing that as she's reading this, she's thinking, 'it's a God thing'! :)  See, not an hour earlier at work, I was sitting in a planning meeting with my teammates when I did something I never really do in front of people...I broke down.  I couldn't grasp the true cause of it, but that's because there isn't just 'one' cause.  Work, home,'s all spiraling out of control (that might be a bit dramatic, but I'm factoring my hormonal imbalance into my current mix of madness).

Our meeting wrapped up and I left work without my plan book, without the tests I have to finish scoring, without anything that remotely reminds me of the work I have to do.  Yeah, I know...this makes little sense since I'm trying to reduce my stress levels.  You'd imagine I'd bring home some work so I could check some things off my (lengthy) list at work.  'Lucky' for me, I have *quite* the list at home as well. 

When I responded back to mom's text with a 'love you 2', I explained that I really needed that, as I just had another crying fit (yeah, I cried again in the car on the way to get the kids).  Mom responed back with 'it's ok to cry...I'm learning this'.  Another 'God thing'.  I really needed to hear that too, because even though I knew this, it's good to be reminded that it is ok to show your emotions.  Tears aren't weakness.  For me, tears are the pressure valve on my heart, when I've got too much weighing on it.

Between the tears, the texts, and the two little tykes in the backseat of my car, I was starting to feel 'ok' as we drove home.  The 'lists' are still there, but the tension was starting to release enough to the point where I knew I'd be able to enjoy the few hours I had to myself with Gavin and Brynn before bed.

And enjoy them, I did.  We danced while dinner was heating up, chatted about the baby as we ate, and then headed down to the basement, as Gavin asked if he could play Star Wars on Xbox.  I had a quick little project I wanted to stamp and put together, so Brynn and I played 'restaurant'.  I worked in my craft room and she bustled back and forth between their play kitchen, serving me a variety of delicious plastic treats. 

nothing beats 'spag-geg-i' and coffee

Adorable?  Yes.  Then came time to get ready for bed.  Gavin was actually looking forward to getting ready for bed.  The kids love bath night, but it's becoming increasingly difficult for me to lean over the tub to wash the munchkins.  Gavin asked if he could shower by himself tonight, which was a *fabulous* idea, since showers are far faster than bathtime.  He was so proud of himself, being so 'grown up', only needing mommy to remind him of what to do next (I was instructed under no circumstances was I allowed to help).  I did, however, manage to snap a few photos for my 'tiny' collection of pics of my kids ;)

washing behind his ears!

Brynn on the other hand, well...she's not a fan of showers.  She kept her eyes clamped shut, and her vocal chords open wide as she let the entire cul-de-sac know what she thought of 'shower time' over 'bath time'.  Needless to say, I was unable to snap any photos (wet toddlers are slippery little I'm not sure I want to remember the torture--to us both--in any capacity).

I did, however, snap these pictures right before turning off their lights...

(ok, so they're not really sleeping...but they were very shortly after their lights were out)

And with that...I found the 'trick'.  The tears helped, crafting was productive, writing has been refreshing, and dancing around like a fool made me laugh (count: humor and fun with kids...two birds, one stone).  Shockingly enough, the Hershey's almond bar I bought myself didn't really do much, and in fact I left half of it sitting in the wrapper for Randy.  While I still have tons to do, deadlines to meet, emails to respond to, etc, etc, etc...the trick, the one (well 3) things that will make all of that diminsh, if even for the night...are the two little angelic faces above and the third little angelic face we have yet to officially meet, who is currently kicking around in response to that half a Hershey bar (did I mention it was a king size? ;)

*sigh*...I'll get past this glitch.  I'm sure I'll cry again in the next few days.  I'm confident this won't be the last time I have moments in life like this.  But I also know I'm blessed.  I get to be a mommy, a teacher, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister...and I can't imagine eliminating one of those jobs just to make my life less hectic for one moment.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A visit from Grandpa

This morning baby 'giraffe' and I headed into the doctor's office for our 28 week check-up and glucose test.  Baby is doing well, mommy is doing great too, considering it's the beginning of my third trimester.  Wow.  Third trimester?  My doctor and I were discussing how quickly this pregnancy is progressing.  I'll be starting going to see the doctor every 2 weeks and so the girls at the front desk were super accomodating and scheduled me out through my spring break, when I'll start going weekly.  This last trimester is going to fly by, I'm sure.

So I started thinking about how my first pregnancy seemed to go by at a snail's pace (until those last two weeks, that is), and now I want to bring that snail's pace back as I watch our little boy grow, change, learn, and experience life daily.  Take this morning for instance.  Gavin was sitting at the breakfast table, thoroughly enjoying the one-on-one attention he was receiving from me, as his little sister was snoring away upstairs.  He was asking questions about my doctor's appointment; why I wasn't eating any cereal with him, why they needed to take my blood, how can they tell when the baby is ready to come out, etc., etc.  Just the level of conversation was kind of surreal.  His questions were thoughtful and he had follow-up questions that showed me he was actually listening to what I was telling him.

Once I'd satisfied his curiosity about his sibling-to-be, Gavin moved on to telling me about how he slept.  More specifically, he was telling me about his dream.  Wait...what?  My 4 year old was telling me about his dream.  I know I've always given him a good night kiss and told him 'sweet dreams' before bed, but this morning, he filled me in on one of those very dreams.  One of the first times he's done so with more detail besides, 'I had sweet dreams, mom'.

Gavin told me he had a dream about his grandpa.  He said grandpa was sitting on our couch, talking with 'Miss Sue' (a dear friend of our family--practically family herself!).  Gavin was sitting on the couch next to grandpa, watching TV, and on the other side of grandpa on the half wall next to the couch, there was a pizza in a pizza box. 

Ok, I'm not great at figuring out the underlying meaning of dreams, and I'm not even sure if there's an explanation.  But, what I did find endearing is that this little four year old boy had a dream about his grandpa who passed away last April.  Living in Colorado makes it a challenge for our kids to have the same type of 'grandparent-grandchild' relationship that we did as kids.  Family dinners, holidays, birthdays, and sleepovers at their houses 'just because' are not a possibility.  So we make it work in other ways.  We call on the phone.  We email.  We text.  We facebook (is that a verb now?!).  We blog (ok, so I blog).  Anyhow, our kids have a great understanding of who their Grammy, Grandma Conley, and Grandpa Conley are.  We talk about them often, and especially after losing dad last year, we have pictures of them throughout the house. 

I thought about Gavin's dream this morning while driving to work.  Gavin hadn't seen his Grandpa since he was about 2 years old, shortly after Brynn was born.  Like I said, we have lots of photos of dad, and talk about him often.  We recently have home movies that Sue ('Miss Sue' in the dream) has generously transferred onto DVD for us, so we've watched some of them.  The kids understand, as best a 4 year old and a 2 year old can, that Grandpa is with God, and is an angel that looks over them.  Randy and I want our kids to grow up knowing the amazing man their Grandpa was, how much he loved them.  We want to keep his memory alive for not only them, but for us as well.  I was teary-eyed about Gavin's dream, not just because we all miss dad terribly, but because it made me realize that although Grandpa's with God, in our kids' eyes, he is still a very prominent figure in their lives (ours too, obviously).

I wish I could have watched this dream unfold, as it would be great to 'see' dad.  I've dreamed of him before, and it was a very calming thing to see him in my dreams, and talk to him.  But I'm so glad that Gavin was able to dream about him.  I'm even more grateful for the fact that he's old enough to comprehend the fact that he was dreaming, remember the dream, and share it with us.  I guess it's ok that he's growing up faster than a snail's's kind of fun to have a little guy who's developing his understanding for how the world works.

Grandpa and Gavin

Grandpa and Brynn

Gavin's first Christmas, playing with Grandpa

Four generations of Conley men

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Today we made our annual family day trip to the National Western Stock Show.  You would think after going year after year on the weekend, we'd learn our lesson and visit during the week, when it wouldn't be nearly as crowded (at least that's what my assumption is!).  The upside of the kids being able a little older allowed for us to keep the stroller at home, and figure we'd gauge when we should leave based on their 'whiny-ness'.  Well.  Had we followed through with our original plan, we'd have made it about 20 yards before we would have had to turn around and head for home.  Having lunch right when we arrived was a helpful distraction (albeit a ridiculously expensive one!), and then we began weaving our way around the complex.  There were so many people that at times, we all somewhat resembled the lines of cattle we watched being sent to auction.  Despite the crowds, we had a good time and got to see enough livestock to keep us at bay until next January, when we do it all again.

We're all pretty tired from the long day, so rather than type too much more, I thought I'd let some photos tell the story tonight...enjoy!

It was chilly (Brynn), but that didn't stop them from being weird (Gavin)

He loved the idea of sitting on the eagle bench (this one's for his Uncle Geoff)

Brynn posing for pictures while Daddy and Gavin watch a 'professional chainsaw carver' (?)

At the Toyota display, they were allowed to write on a van...let's hope they don't think its ok to do this with all cars!

He left his mark :)

And so did Brynn!

The video game truck...he waited patiently for almost 15 minutes to play xbox in a green pick up

A pouty Brynn no more...she has her popcorn!

Snack break

Checking out the 'sheeps' on the stockyard floor

Brynn was excited to see the 'sheeps', until she actually saw them...and then wanted to leave.  Thankfully these little lambs kept her interest for a little.

Highly intelligent animals.  Obviously.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Princess in training (well, she might be there already)

If you don't know this by now, our darling little Brynn (B-bear as her daddy calls her), is...well...a wee bit of a princess.  I suppose she learned this from her mommy (and if you asked her grammy, she'd absolutely agree).  We try not to foster her 'fairy tale' too much, as we really don't want to end up with a ridiculously spoiled little brat.  I've been told on various occasions that we're doing a good job of keeping that from happening (phew!  it's always reassuring to hear nice things about your performance in the most challenging job we'll ever have!).

Miss Brynn fits the typical 'daddy's girl' mold, which makes it a bit of a challenge for mommy to come out smelling like roses in basically any sitatuation.  This evening, I was dutifully filling my role of 'bad cop', as I wasn't responding to Brynn's immediate request to find her 'Cin-grella' costume from Halloween (I was sort of in the middle of making dinner...but that didn't seem to phase the wee one).

Enter daddy.  In true 'knight in shining armor' form, daddy went into the storage area, went through numerous storage bins, and emerged with not only the Cinderella dress, but her jeweled hair band as well.  It was as if the heavens opened, the angels were singing, and the fairy godmother herself had presented Brynn with her dress. And with that, all was good with the world. 

Little did daddy know, I had a little trick up my sleeve to win back some affections from my 'regal' daughter.  Last night, Brynn asked me if she could have cake for dessert, most specifically her Ariel birthday cake (the one she's already placed an order for, 2 months in advance--she apparently thinks her mommy's 'business' is doing well enough that there's a waiting list).  Tears and a tantrum ensued, as Brynn didn't quite grasp the concept of time when I explained to her that her birthday was 2 months away, and that she'd have to wait.  The pouting continued, in most dramatic fashion, until I emerged from the kitchen holding a box of FunFetti cake mix that I had bought on a random pregnancy craving.  Joy! 

Crack the eggs, measure the oil, mix the batter, scoop the cupcakes, and bake.  More tears as she realized that 'bake' really means 'wait'--a word that Brynn would gladly remove from the English language.  I assured her we'd enjoy a cupcake for dessert the next night, and she was pleased enough to retreat to her 'wing of the castle' for the night.

Tonight, I took advantage of the opporutnity to gain back the adoration of my sweet baby girl, by way of a color-speckled, chocolate-frosted bribe.  Donning her Cin-grella costume and a big smile, we held a 'practice' for her upcoming (ahem, 2 months away) birthday.  And not just once.  Four times.  At her second birthday, she was sobbing throughout the 'Happy Birthday' song (just like her mom), and ran to the comfort and safety of none other than, her daddy of course.  But tonight...tonight was different.  A huge smile on her face, perfect posing for the camera, and a plethora of well-crafted wishes, Brynn was all set for her 'spotlight'.  All four times. 

Just one of the *many* photos I was able to snap at tonight's 'festivities'

I think tonight, I might be a wee bit guilty of indulging Brynn in her princess fairy tale.  But, if all it takes is a cupcake, a candle, and a's totally worth it for that adorable face.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a 'Great' woman

Happy birthday to my dear sweet great grandmom, who would have been 105 years old today.  'Great' as we often referred to her truly lived up to her nickname.  My brothers and I were fortunate enough to have many happy memories with her throughout our childhood and into our 'pre-adulthood'.  Even in her later years, as her memory grew fuzzy and our identities jumbled in her head, the memories I have of going to visit her still bring smiles to my face. 

My mom was a single mom of three kids, so as you can imagine, there were plenty of times when we were sick (or just 'sick').  It was impossible for mom to take off work every time one of us was sick (real or really-good-at-pretending), so we'd head to Mom-mom's apartment, where Great was waiting with open arms to care for us.  She had a specific set of television shows she'd watch, including Family Feud and The Price is Right, and of course the afternoon was devoted to her soap operas, which left little time for us to have control of the remote.  The only opportunity that we had was during Great's daily rosary, which happened after breakfast, before Regis and Kathy Lee. 

Usually at some point in the afternoon, Great would amble out of her rocker/recliner and shuffle her frail body into the kitchen to fix a snack.  We'd hear clattering around, and before long, she'd come out of the kitchen with two bowls of ice cream, one for her and one for her patient.  Mind you, Great was a diabetic, and more often than not, we were sick with a stomach bug so ice cream probably wasn't the best choice.  Did it stop her?  No way!  I remember one time I asked her if she should be eating ice cream, being diabetic, and if we should be eating ice cream being sick, to which she responded, "no one needs to know, and if they do, you don't need to have any".  *smile*  Typical 'Great'.  She was always a quiet observer of the world, a woman of few words (obviously I did not inherit that gene!).  But when she said something, it was nothing but profound, and most often hysterical.  In fact, one of the funniest things I ever heard her say described someone in my family as a not-so-nice four letter word that rhymes with 'cut'.  True to her 'little old Italian lady' ways, once you wronged her, it was a black mark on the wall--never to be forgotten.  Her choice of language that night was proof of that.

As the years passed, Great's health began to deteriorate, and she had what we referred to as 'spells'.  One such spell happened on Easter while she sat at the dinner table at our house.  That was a scary sight to watch, as my frail yet incredibly strong great grandmother faded away in front of my eyes, giving way to a vulnerable and sickly old lady.  As the frequency of her 'spells' increased, the difficult and heartbreaking decision was made to move Great into a nursing home, because she required more care than Mom-mom and the visiting nurses were able to provide for her.

Sundays became 'Great' days, not just because there wasn't school, but because we'd pile into the car and drive to the nursing home to visit our beloved Great.  Walking into that nursing home filled me with a mix of emotions and feelings, as it does for many people I'm sure.  We developed somewhat of a routine with our visits, and usually ended up slowly walking around the facility before sitting in either the cafeteria or the snack shop, where Mom-mom or Mom would give us cash to buy some treats.  We'd tell stories while we snacked, or sometimes we'd just sit, taking turns holding Great's hand or stroking her hair and rubbing her back and shoulders.

As her memory began leaving her, I spent most of my time with her quietly sitting next to her, just trying to drink up all the time I could being able to sit next to the matriarch of my family, before her body would faily and she'd physically leave to join other family who'd gone before.  I remember sitting there, staring at her, wondering what she could possibly be thinking about.  Was she able to remember her own childhood?  Did she remember her wedding day, or when she had her babies?  Did she have any recollection of the day she first met my mom, or my brothers and me?  Was she wondering her own fate, fearful of leaving the family she loved, or was she 'ready', prepared to leave this Earth, knowing she had lived a full and beautiful life? 

I'll never get to know the answers to any of these questions, as Great's comprehension wasn't quite 'there' to have these conversations in those last few years and months.  I wish I had done it sooner; found out the answers to all the things I wanted to know as I watched her fade so quickly near the end of her life.  Instead of chatting with her, I was left sitting and watching.  Her paper-thin skin wrapping around the fragile bones of her hand, her non-descript wedding band adorning her ring finger on her left hand, and her pale pink painted fingernails kept my hand warm, even though it always felt cold to the touch.  She warmed my heart, just by holding her hand.  If I close my eyes and think about it, I can still feel her soft skin on my own.

The phone rang early one cold December morning, early enough that when it rang, I knew.  No one calls at 5 a.m. unless something has happened.  I laid in bed listening to the phone ring, just a foot or two from my head, yet I didn't answer it.  Fear?  Intuition?  A mix of both, along with many other feelings.  My mom came into my bedroom to tell me Great had passed away in her sleep that morning.  Although we knew the day was inevitable, and approaching, it's never easy news to hear.

At Great's funeral I sat alone in a pew on the left side of the church, sobbing quietly.  Mom, along with Mom-mom and my great uncle were at the front, receiving condolences from the line of mourners coming to honor my dear great grandmom's life.  My brothers were serving as pall-bearers, and following the Catholic protocol (is that what you call it?!) were seated on the right side of the church in the front row with the others.  Randy and I were dating at the time (is that what you call it?!), but he had finals approaching, along with moving into his apartment for spring semester of his senior year.  I know he wanted to be there with me, but of course it was an impossibilty.  He was with me in his thoughts and prayers, and that did comfort me, despite my sobs.

That was my first experience with a close family member's passing.  It's such a surreal experience to go through, so many things to discuss, ponder, mourn, and celebrate.  Even all these years later I still have tears brimming my eyes as I write.  I'm sure if Randy saw me, he'd tell me to stop writing if it was making me sad.  But it's not the same kind of mourning as when she passed, the reason for tears, not the same.  I miss her, sure, but I know we all will eventually pass.  I guess the reason for my tears is just the memories, the moments of 'Great-ness' that I am blessed enough to have experienced. 

So with that, I want to wish a happy birthday to a great little old Italian lady who influenced the women of my family to be the strong, self-guided, self-reliant, able-bodied women we are today.  You're the reason I don't leave the house without some sort of make-up (always mascara and lip gloss--although being a mom has made me a little more lax on this at times!) with my toes always painted (I can't keep up with manicures!).  My husband, who never had the chance to meet you but hears many stories, thanks you for passing down your cooking skills so that he may partake in my capabilties in the kitchen.  You are loved by many, missed by many, and have touched the lives of many.  Sending love up to heaven to you!

four of Great's last pictures, 2003

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

a new little rule

'Mommy, I learned something from my gym teacher today', Gavin informed us tonight at the dinner table.  "Oh, really, what's that?" I asked him, silently applauding his fifteenth attempt at delaying the actual process of eating the vegetables on his plate.

"Be the boss of you", he replied, smiling that he remembered something from school aside from what was on the lunch menu or which kids weren't being good listeners during group.  I told Gavin that was a great lesson, one that he should listen to, as one of his favorite pastimes is to tell Brynn what he'd like her to do.  Of course after sharing this insightful tidbit of wisdom, he proceeded to monitor how many bites Brynn needed to take before she was excused from the table.  Baby steps, I reminded myself, baby steps.  Step one: he remembered the rule from school.  Step two: we work on incorporating it into our home life.  I've already decided to add this little 'mantra' to my daily routine of things I say to the kids, in addition to those other delightful phrases my mother would say that I swore I would never repeat.  (You win, mom...congratulations)

Now that the kids are in bed, the kitchen is clean, and my motivation level to work on some online training is practically zilch, I've been thinking about the message of Gavin's little rule.  'Be the boss of you'.  It would be presumptuous of me to give this rule a 'definition', because everyone can make their own personal meaning, as they should. 

One way I need to 'be the boss' of me involves a New Year's Resolution that I've made for myself, but have yet to really address (or even discuss).  Toward the conclusion of 2010, when I was driving Gavin to pre-school one day, we came up to a redlight (shocker), and I pulled out a mini notebook I keep in my purse for occasions such as these, and jotted down my brainstorm: 'make a blog', 'make amends'. 

The 'amends' I'm referring to involves a part of my family with whom I have lost touch due to various reasons, all of which I'm in the process of sorting out.  I have faith I'll get there in my own time, or rather in the time God has planned...because He ultimately has control over the timing of my resolution coming to fruition.  While I may not be in the 'amends' phase, I reflected tonight on how I've been the boss of me in this particular situation, and am pleased with my personal progress; yet realize I have a ways to go. 

I know Gavin doesn't quite grasp the whole concept of what his new little rule means, and will be making progress as he grows.  So, we're both growing, both learning, both aiming for a goal.  I never want to wish time away, but someday I want to make sure my son knows just how many times in my life he's inspired me to 'do better', 'be better', and 'live better', and he doesn't even know it.  I love the innocence of my kids...and pray that they stay that way (although, sadly, the odds are against me).

sibling love...proof for when they're older and fight non.stop

they didn't like hearing me tell them to 'be the boss of you'

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sweet rewards of mommyhood

B's got an ear infection plus a ton of wax that needs to come out (sorry, if I had to see it/hear her scream as the doctor removed some of it, the least you can do is read about it).  The poor little munchkin spent her afternoon sleeping.  Her hours-long nap (so jealous!) started in the cart at Target while we waited for her prescription.  It was quite a pricey prescription, I might add.  $6.00 for the meds, $100 for the things I managed to put into my cart while wandering around waiting for it.  While most of my purchases were warranted by *need* (read below), there were a few items that upon returning home, I wondered aloud, 'how the heck did that end up in my cart?'.  Oh well...B's got two doses of medicine under her belt and both darlings are snoozing the night away.  As they should be.

Not only am I owed a great night's sleep, but those two require one after the evening we had.  Sorry to disappoint, but mass chaos did not ensue as it usually does when daddy's at work and mommy's attempting to maintain sanity until bedtime.  No, no...tonight I was treated to an amazing treat (actually, more than one!).  There were no fights.  Not one.  There were no tears (aside from the ones shed by Brynn as I cleaned out aforementioned wax before bed).  They both ate their entire plate of food at dinner, fruit and all, no questions asked, no complaints lodged...and cleared their plates without pouting, or dropping them.  They played together, nicely, for 2 hours(!) while I went on a manic mini-nesting binge that resulted in me *finally* getting their clothes put away, the kitchen cleaned up, and a few things organized.  They even had pleasant conversation with one another, as Gavin shared what he did at school today, not in his usual 'braggart tone', but in a tone that implied 'these are the things you will someday experience, oh darling younger sister'.  They were enjoying Blues Clues together when I came downstairs and rather than seeing (hearing) who can shout the answer to the clues louder, they were calmly and quietly watching the show.  I almost passed out, but instead...I grabbed the camera...

 *ok, so they cleared their plates but neglected to wipe their can't win 'em all!

*yes, he did this on his own, after I asked him if he was helping to make Brynn feel better

Wow.  I'm fairly confident that these are the kinds of nights that moms all over the world rejoice about.  Granted, the day did not begin well (lack of sleep, ear infection...oh yeah, and I backed into a pole at the car wash today--in the new car *I don't even want to get into it*), but it sure ended beautifully.  And I'm not just talking about the kids.

Remember those *randoms* from Target that magically ended up in my cart?

*wink and a smile*

Although...from across the kitchen on the other countertop...

I'm being tested...

Guess I failed ;)

*sweet* dreams!  

Musical Beds

I was half-tempted to write this entry last night.  Well, make that 'earlier this morning', which is when I was up and thinking about it.  I didn't mean to be awake.  In fact, I was beyond looking forward to the potential of a full night's sleep plus sleeping in a little due to my day off from work today.  I guess I shouldn't have been so excited about that possibility (I'm recalling Elizabeth Gilbert's quote: 'Plant an expectation, reap a disappointment').  Here's the latest tale...

I've been pretty blessed with two kids who are great sleepers.  I don't know if that's genetic, but their mom has been known to have slept soundly through a terrible thunderstorm that literally was flooding the very tent she was sleeping in; and their dad spent quite a bit of time sleeping in college...even missing a final once because his bed was far too comfortable to leave.  Genetic or not, they both sleep through the night and have done so since switching to formula when they were infants.  (I know, some people reading this might be bitter about this...and I'm sorry for that.  Believe me, I extend my sympathies to you, and remind you that in a few short months, I'll be back to waking every few hours to soothe a crying newborn before older brother and sister wake).  As I was saying, they sleep well--unless their bed is wet, there's an emergency (like the cat is trapped in their room and is pouncing on their head), or their sick.

So at 1:30 a.m., when I hear Brynn crying, I know something is wrong.  When I reached her room, daddy was there, leaning over her bed trying to calm her (how did he hear her before me?  I must've been having a good dream!), but she wanted no parts of him when she saw me.  Normally, I'd adore this, however in the middle of the night, the adoration from my daughter is a little less endearing.  Needless to say I lay down in bed with her to cuddle and calm and dry her tears because after all, she had said her ear hurt.  Little did I know I just answered a silent invitation to a middle of the night game of 'Musical Beds'.

Shortly after laying down, Brynn was squirming toward the foot of her bed, blanket and stuffed cow in hand.  She said 'I'm not tired in my bed, let's go downstairs'.  I grabbed a pillow and followed the munchkin to the couch, got comfortable and closed my eyes.  She was wiggling around in my arms.  Toss.  Turn.  Toss. Turn.  Kick.  Sit up and stare at me.  I peeked at her with one eye opened and could see her shadowy face peering back at me with her bottom lip out so far that a bird could perch on it.  "I want to lay in mommy's bed."  Up the stairs we went, pillows, blankets, stuffed cow and all.  I plopped her into the middle of the bed between daddy and myself, lay down and get settled.  Toss. Turn.  Toss.  Turn.  Kick.  Rub my arm.  Snort.  Toss.  "Mommy?".  "Yes, Brynn?"  "I want to lay in my bed." 

Back in her room, snuggled up under the covers, I asked her if she wanted me to lay with her.  She said no, rolled on her side and settled in for sleep.  Ahh...bliss.  I wandered back to bed, and got comfortable.  I was just shy of much needed sleep and I heard a whimper.  Back in Brynn's room, I was informed that I needed to make the wind stop, as that was making her ear hurt.  While it is adorable that my daughter thinks I'm capable of anything--including stopping the wind--but again, at 1:30 (now 2:00), it's a little less-than-endearing.  At any rate, I decided at this point that I didn't care if her ear really hurt or if it was because of the wind, I was going to rely on my dear friend 'Magic Motrin' to ease her mind, and help her sleep (thus, helping me sleep too!).  After swallowing her meds, I settled her back down into bed and used the stuffed cow as a sound muffler over her ear, and once again make the trek back to bed.  I swear she was snoring before I even got settled back into bed.  Good for her, but now I'm past the point where I can just 'fall back asleep'.  Typical.

At some point I was drifting off to dreamland again...when I heard it.  Not crying, but crinkling.  The unmistakable sound of a cat getting into something he shouldn't be.  It was all of my restraint not to scream, but I grabbed my phone (love the flashlight app), and went on a scavenger hunt.  Diego was hiding under the dining table with the Band-Aid wrapper I had disposed of hours ago when Gavin woke up at 9:30 to tell me he had a hangnail  (I'm beginning to think my kids really aren't good sleepers?!).  Let's just say Diego is lucky I didn't kick him outside (partially because he took off and was hiding under our bed). 

On my way upstairs (again), I checked in on each of the kids (both sleeping soundly...lucky ducks!), and lumbered back to bed (again).  My mind was too 'turned on' to sleep, so I was looking up various baby/pregnancy questions that have been nagging me, because I'm realizing that I forget some of these once 'simple' answers.  I must've found what I was looking for, because the next thing I knew it was morning. 

Brynn woke at her normal time (apparently she doesn't understand the concept of making up for lost sleep), but I guess I can't be upset at her, because her ear still does hurt.  I'm not happy about her pain, but it does justify our Musical Beds game and my ruined night of sleep.  So with that, we're off to the pediatricians to check her ears.  Of course, she has hopped up from the couch and is currently playing with blocks, even though 15 minutes ago she looked like this...

 and 15 minutes before that, she looked like this...

Praying for my 'good sleepers' to return to me tonight...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pez in my dryer

I despise laundry.  In my opinion, it is the most obnoxious of all household chores.  Sure, doing dishes can be pretty gross, and of course scrubbing tubs and toilets can be downright nasty...but it's the non-stop and
monotonous cycle of sorting, washing, drying, hanging, folding, disseminating among drawers and closets...(not to mention the lugging down to the basement and all the way back up again).  Just writing about it makes me exhausted, and annoyed.  As I type this, the floor at the foot of our bed houses 2 1/2 loads of laundry that I have to fold and put away, and the crib is filled with kids clothes that need the same treatment.  I need to get on this task (especially the crib, since baby will be probably be wanting a clothes-free environment to sleep!).

I love my husband's acceptance to my fault when it comes to this tedious task.  I'm sure it bothers the hell out of him that I approach the completion of the folding process with such a nonchalant attitude, but he doesn't say anything about it, aside from the occassional razzing (but I join in with him, poking fun at my own shortcomings).  My personal opinion is that he knows not to say anything because he is just as guilty in not participating in folding laundry, and he also knows that in bringing up the subject, it will inevitably end up in a lengthy discussion that I'm sure he'd happily avoid.

This morning started much like any normal weekend morning, I was even treated to 'sleeping in' until around 7:30.  Upon getting myself ready for the day, I remembered that there was a load of laundry in the dryer that needed to be brought upstairs and folded (enter negative attitude and well as my insightful decision to deposit said clothing in the now-empty crib).  As I waddled downstairs (yes, I'm getting to that point where my walking technique is bordering on 'waddling'), I was not happy.  So imagine my surprise when I began removing clothing from the dryer...

Pez.  I had no choice but to smile at this odd discovery (as well as be thankful it wasn't something that could have melted and gotten all over the laundry).  Gavin and Brynn received Pez in their Christmas stockings, but rather than trusting a 2 1/2 and a 4 1/2 year old with keeping their own candy stash in their own room (What, mom?  We won't eat it all...), we put it all into a community bowl from which they could chose a treat when they'd earned one. 

Gavin wasn't a fan of this method, since "red is not a girl's color, it is a boys color".  Apparently he got a hold of the community bowl, helped himself, and put the candy in his pocket for 'safe keeping'.  Well, since his mommy just happens to despise laundry and wants to spend as little time as possible doing so, she must have neglected to check all the pockets (you would think that mommy would learn her lesson however, as the current count for 'Pull-Up's washed' sits at 7!).  At any rate, Gavin's attempt to hoard his candy resulted in a smile for his mommy as I found yet another thing in my life that isn't in the 'quite right' place. 

Ahh, mommyhood...I remember a time when finding Pez in my dryer would have never, ever happened.  In fact, it would have been not just 'odd', but beyond bizarre.  But not now.  Now that I'm a mommy, I find odd things in even odder places...and rather than being 'odd', it's just 'my life'.  Let's examine a few...

Diapers, wipes, A+D: when the kids were younger, there was a stash on every level, as well as in the diaper bags.  I've actually discovered a (clean) diaper in the fridge, as I must've put it down there while I was getting the gallon of milk out to pour (yet another) cup of milk.

Let's discuss those cups of milk: we're pretty good about keeping the kids limited in the number of cups we have 'out in the world' (i.e. house), so as to reduce the risk of the very thing we want to avoid--funky milk cup.  Even though we try to just have one milk cup out, it's sometimes hard to remember which character-laden cup is currently being used, especially if mom and dad neglect to communicate about it.  So, imagine my horror when I discovered the cause of the 'funky' smell that was haunting me from 'my side of the couch'.  Upon reaching down into the reclining part of the couch, I retrieved a cup.  And not just any cup.  A cup with some weight, some heft to it.  A cup that was 'filled' with what I can only describe as 'used-to-be-milk'.  Gross.  It went into the trash...the one outside...right away. 

Toys: everywhere.  Literally.  In every room in our house, I can find some sort of evidence of our kids.  We've got organization bins and toy boxes, but it doesn't matter.  There's always something 'out of place'.  My class loves when I discover army men in my pockets, toy cars in my purse, or a doll's outfit velcro-ed to the inside of my coat.  I've discovered toys in the fridge, in the dryer, in my kitchen cupboards and drawers, and under my feet in the dark of night(those friggin army guys are the worst).

Cooking utensils: why do we even bother buying the kids toys when they find my pasta spoon, measuring cups, and whisks scattered throughout the house?  I have found spatulas and measuring spoons in toys boxes and even in bed.

My money: while I don't let the kids play with money, having them inevitably means that the 'benjamins' (or, more like the lincolns and the washingtons), will find themselves being stuffed into the cash registers of the most bizarre places or in exchange for the most ridiculous items.  Prime example: Chuck E. Cheese.  I'm literally paying for a migraine, tears at some point in the day, and more plastic crap (I'm sorry, toys) to litter the house.  Also, any item emblazoned with a popular cartoon character.  Because yes, Dora Band-Aids work so much better than their 'regular' counterparts, and Spongebob's neon-colored yogurt tastes insanely better than Yoplait light.

and more thing that I'm finding both odd and in odd places...
My body: ahh yes, let's visit this.  We all know what pregnancy does to a body.  Weight gain and stretch marks are just two of the more pleasant of the effects.  When I was pregnant with Gavin I read all kinds of books about what was happening during the pregnancy and labor/delivery.  Not 5 minutes after he was taken to the nursery to keep him monitored I began to realize that the books I read all pretty much neglected to mention all of the body things that just won't be the same after having a baby.  It's really a conspiracy, because we all want mankind to continue.  I remember laying on the hospital bed, waiting for the nurses to bring Gavin into my room when my *darling* husband began playing with the buttons on the side of the bed.  One of them happened to activate the 'self-weighing bed scale'.  He pressed the button and proceeded to inform me that although I had just recently given birth to a 7 pound baby, I had 'only lost' 3 pounds.  Husband fail. 

Not only is there weight on my body that is in 'odd' places, but there are gray hairs on my less-than-30-year-old-head.  There are lines and dark circles near my eyes, my nails are never manicured (or, if they are, it lasts like 32 minutes).  I've used lip gloss as blush in a pinch because right before I go into the store, I realize I haven't looked at myself in a mirror in a day and the pale reflection stares back at me from my car mirror, I cringe and grab the first colorful thing I can find.  I have worn clothes that I would have never normally worn before having kids...covered in spit up (because I'm too damn tired to care), unstylish (nothing else fit), mismatching (it was the middle of the night getting dressed for the emergency room), and right out of the hamper (do I have to remind you?  I hate doing laundry).

My entire body has been in odd places...especially while sleeping.  Glider, sitting on the floor of the nursery while leaning up against the closet door, on the floor of the nursery next to the crib, squished on a double bed with very long and leggy kids (who, even on a double bed, leave about 5 inches worth of space), on the couch, the dining table, and on airplanes with one in my arms and the other across my lap.  I've been in ball pits, plastic tunnels, on slides, in petting zoos, and on kiddie rides (at 6 feet tall...I look bizarre).

The part of my body that I'm quickly realizing is suffering most from 'odd displacement' however, is my mind.  I swear I used to be able to have intelligent conversations with sentences that had properly conjugated verbs and did not incorporate references to the most recent lesson from Yo Gabba Gabba.  I swear I used to be able to think of the words for things, the names of people and places, and the location of various items in the house.  I used to read, voraciously, books that do not have a rhyming pattern or have pieces that flip, slide, or are fuzzy.  I used to watch the news, to catch up on current events and be more knowledegable about goings on in my world.  Randy and I used to talk about things...I don't remember what the topics of our conversations were before we had kids, but I know they never included the words 'owie', 'lovey', or 'pediatrician'.  I swear, my brain used to work a lot better than it does now.  And I swore I'd never turn into my mom (whom I always used to joke is 'crazy'), but I have become just as crazy as she is...and it's all because of my kids.  And the Pez in my dryer.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

checking in

Time to tackle another resolution.  I'm figuring this whole 'resolution' thing out (finally), after nearly 30 years.  I used to think you had to chose your resolution(s) and begin them immediately--with an immediate change in behavior.  Ok, so I didn't really think that's how it worked, but I had that mentality and longed to be one of those 'normal' people who could find success with their resolutions.  I think I'm finally getting it--either that, or I'm so overwhelmed by life that I really have no choice but to take things in stride and celebrate those successes on a smaller scale.

So celebration time for those resolutions I wrote about a few nights back...
Resolution #1--My level of stress while driving: I'd say about 50% improvement.  I'm much more cognizant of my stress level, taking a moment to breathe deep and look at the little angel that my mother-in-law bought me that is hanging from the lighter cover.  The only reason this isn't as high as I know it could be?  The snow earlier this week.  For the love...we live in COLORADO.  We see snow.  Often.  You would imagine people would have semi mastered the art of traveling in these types of conditions.  Now I'm not one of those 'I-have-an-SUV-with-four-wheel-drive-so-get-out-of-my-way' type drivers, but I do at least maintain a proper speed that allows me to keep traction.  I think I'm in the minority in this case.

Resolution #2--Drink more water.  Hmm...about 75% improvement.  I fill my plastic tumbler each morning and make it a goal to finish at least half before I get to work (any more than half and I have to stop for a potty break on the way there!).  My goal is to fill it 2 additional times during the day and I've been pretty good about it.  So...yea for me!

Resolution #3--More quality time with Randy.  Eeesh...this one is the one I'm needing to work on more.  Technically, I should be working on this now rather than writing, but I'm having a frustrating day and so I'm taking some time to decompress before going downstairs.  Mental note: set up a date night for dinner and movie (I'll be contacting my sitter soon to set this up).

So now, I have a new resolution in mind that I'm going to add to my list:

Resolution #4: Be more organized with my meal planning.  I do like to cook.  Really, I enjoy taking ingredients and creating something entirely different.  I like the fact that I'm adept enough in the kitchen that I very rarely use a recipe, despite the fact that I have someone of an addiction to recipe books...

(just some of the many cookbooks...)

(and some more...however this selection doesn't offer too many 'dinner' options!)

I take pride in knowing that I have provided my family with something yummy and relatively good for them, rather than just relying on canned ravoli and ramen (not that there's anything wrong with that...but that type of eating every night I'm sure would get old and I know isn't healthy). 

So.  Meal planning.  I'm actually not a rookie at this concept, but have found that I'm too ADD in some ways to make this an effective and consistent practice in our home.  I have a bit of dichotomy going on here, because I operate much better when I'm completely planned for things.  My school days and weeks flow more smoothly when my plan book is completely filled out, rather than having just some things and filling in the rest shortly before teaching.  My home life (i.e. cooking) seems to be less of a 'chore' when I have planned what I'm cooking.  On the other hand, life is quite unpredictable and so we don't always 'stick' to the plan.  Which can send me into a tizzy because the fresh ingredients I've purchased for that night's dinner are not needed.  And if I have the next several night's planned, I'll have to 'shift' the entire schedule.  Not normally a problem.  But I'm not really 'normal' when it comes to that.  I can't just put an arrow to 'move' things over.  I literally would take the time to re-write the entire calendar/menu so that it didn't look 'messy' (I re-write my grocery list too, if it's disorganized or has misspellings).  See?  Not normal.

Enter my newest attempt.  Post-it makes a delightful little weekly planner that I'm going to attempt to use.  If meals are (neatly) written on Post-its, they can be moved with much more ease (and a lot less paper and time than re-writing).  To alleviate my ADD with deciding what to make, I'm finally making use of those week-long and month-long meal planners I have torn out of my magazines with every intention of using.  And lastly, as I find recipes (or rather, ideas, since I generally don't use recipes) that work well, I'm going to jot them down in a fun new recipe book I purchased for myself with a gift card from a student.  This last step will help cut down on, or possibly eliminate the random pile of papers and magazine clippings that I keep in a basket on top of the microwave.  I snapped a picture of my 'new tools'...

So there.  Now I've blogged about it.  I've made it 'official' that I'm going to make progress on this goal, and will make sure that I hold myself accountable.  So, I'm sorry if you got to the end of tonight's entry thinking you'd read a funny or endearing story about the kids...I promise I'll have something better next time!

Oh yes, I neglected to mention my 'true' number 1 resolution: this blog.  I am so appreciative of the positive comments and feedback I've heard on my postings and am actually quite humbled that people find my random ramblings interesting enough to come back and read more.  I can't say that I feel I'm giving 100% toward this particular resolution, because I would ideally like to make the time to blog every day.  Not because I feel I'm all that terribly interesting, but because I enjoy writing (or typing).  I love to write and document and keep track of those little moments, those things that I want to remember and want my kids to read about when they're older.  So, to say I'm meeting my own personal goal would not be accurate, but I'm working on it :)