Friday, December 28, 2007

Santa Brought Me Some Sanity

Despite my earlier concerns, it has been a wonderful Christmas and beyond. Not having to get the kids set for school everyday has helped the relaxation factor immensely. Having my husband home from work since December 21 has been positively delightful. Those two things alone seem to have been enough to overcome those pesky hormones. But add those things to the family fun we’ve been having for the past week and you could honestly call my mood “blissful”. We have had lovely celebrations with both family and friends, we have been staying up late and sleeping in (kids included!) and we have been taking almost nothing seriously. It’s been incredible.

In case you want to share in the fun, my husband put together a slide show of the family’s Christmas Eve celebration for his brother stationed in Iraq . We intended to capture a bit of the party for him since he couldn't be with us. It’s about 6 minutes long, so that may determine your desire to watch.



We also took pictures of Christmas Day spent at our house and at my parents. We were fortunate to have my grandma, my aunt and my two-year-old cousin from out of town to party with us. It was great fun. Click on our beautiful Christmas tree for that set.

Grandma and Grandpa’s gift for their 19 grandchildren was a private party at “Pump It Up”. The kids (and their parents) had a blast running, bouncing and sliding around for two hours yesterday. I’m afraid it was so much fun that they’ll have to do it again next year! It was very much appreciated, though, as was the all-you-can-eat pizza afterwards. Thanks for an awesome evening, Grandma and Grandpa!

With all the holiday merriment it has been difficult to keep up with what day it is. I can hardly believe it’s the weekend already. We still have a few more fun things left to do before Dad has to go back to work on January 2, not to mention more relaxation and family fun to be had. I hope that you enjoyed your Christmas and that you will have a very happy new year as well.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hormonal Holiday

I have been a little bit “bah-humbug” lately. I am trying to blame my current emotional state on the stress of the season, but as my husband points out, the happenings this year are nothing more than the usual holiday hubbub. I should be able to handle it. I am getting a little tired of blaming the pregnancy hormones for every wacky mood swing I experience, but I really don’t know why else I would be feeling this way. What is supposed to be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year has been much more like a Blue Christmas.

One thing that I know for sure is giving me some anxiety (and some heartburn) is the imminent occurence of holiday eating. Don’t get me wrong…I love indulging in the tastes of the season. In fact, my family makes a list of all the delectable (i.e. unhealthy) foods we MUST have during the holidays and we make sure we eat them ALL. My real problem with indulging this year is that I am really trying hard not to gain too much weight with this pregnancy. With my last pregnancy I gained enough weight for two expectant mothers. I gained it everywhere – not just where the baby was. I vowed that I would NOT do that again this time. I know how easy it is to pack on the holiday pounds when I’m not pregnant; but it will be even more difficult to get rid of come New Year’s resolution time because I have to worry about the health of the baby. It also doesn’t help that I have to step on the scale at the doctor’s office a lot more often than I am used to. At my last doctor’s visit I was told that my weight gain was right on target. That, of course, was before Christmas. Since then I have been asked several times by well-meaning souls whether or not I was carrying twins. That makes a woman pregnant with one child feel great, let me tell ya.

I can’t believe these holiday blahs could all be related to irresistible food and it's resulting weight gain though. For about a week now I’ve been snapping at my kids (and husband), I’ve been complaining about anything and everything to anyone who will listen, and I’ve even avoided talking to people just in case I couldn’t bring myself to be civil for five minutes. You'll have to trust me, despite what you might have heard, that’s really not like me. And as much as I don’t like the excuse, I think I have to blame at least some of the lack of holiday cheer on those hormones. The little things are more powerful than I ever imagined.

Thankfully, I see some peace on the horizon. Today was the kids’ last day of school before the holiday break. School is actually a big stressor for me. There are so many things to do and to remember and I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right. So I get two full weeks off from all of that. Today is also my husband’s last day of work until January 2. Life is just so much better when we are both home together. No matter how hormonal I get, he can help balance me out, or at least apologize to the kids for me when I bite their heads off for not picking up their dirty socks. I already feel that Christmas spirit drawing near.

In case I don’t get a chance to write again before the big day, I want to wish you all a very happy, hormone-free holiday. I also want to share a photo and a video with you. These are a couple of things that can really get me into a good, Christmas-y mood. The photo is the one we included with our Christmas cards this year. It shows the kids laughing and having a ball in front of our Christmas tree. How can that not bring a smile to my face? The video makes me laugh and dance and sing. I hope you enjoy it too.





Monday, December 17, 2007

A Successful Weekend

We sure did a lot this weekend; more than I would have liked actually. On both Friday and Saturday nights I sang in the Christmas Concert at my church (the second night was in the midst of a snowstorm!). I have received numerous positive, even glowing, comments about the concert. It was fun, and I am so glad to have been involved with the production, but for the most part, I am just glad that it’s over. Thanks to all that came to listen. And many thanks to Julie and Maria for watching the kiddos so my husband could come to the concert.

I am so close to finishing my Christmas shopping that I can smell it…and it smells sah-weet! There are only 2 things left that I need to find and my mission will be complete. However, then begins the tedious task of wrapping all that loot. That’s another mission altogether. I am also nearing the home stretch with the Christmas cards. Most of my errands on Saturday revolved around those darn cards. I needed another box because I miscalculated the number I needed, I needed stamps to mail them all, and I picked up photos of the kids to stick inside. Now they really just need to be “assembled”, and should hopefully be on their way today or tomorrow.

The kids enjoyed spending lots of time in the snow this weekend. We got about 8 inches dumped on us on Saturday and they LOVED it. Here are some pictures of the fun. Thanks to Aunt Terri for having the kids over for sledding, and thanks to Uncle Steve for taking them!

When the kids returned from their snowy adventures, we got three kinds of cookies made. We still have a couple more types we’d like to make, but I’d say three is great progress. I kept out one of each variety for every member of the family, but the rest went promptly into the freezer to try to keep us from eating them before Christmas. We’ll have to see if that tactic really works or not.

One more week of school / work before our big Christmas break. The kids get two full weeks home from school and Dad is taking 11 days off from work. There’s been big talk about the things that we’ll accomplish during the break, but my guess is that it will just be a relaxing, fun time together. Either way, we plan to enjoy it. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome, Cousin Olivia!

We are so happy to announce the arrival of our beautiful new niece / cousin, Olivia Audrey. She made a grand entrance into the world, weighing in at 8 lb, 4 oz. and measuring 21.5 inches long. We enjoyed visiting her and her proud parents a couple of days after she was born, even though we were quite a crowd to have in that quiet wing of the hospital.

I was happy that they had such a nice, big room; especially since I will be delivering at the same hospital in about four months. The kids were all excited about meeting little Olivia. Miss M jumped at the first opportunity to hold her. Banana pointed out her eyes, nose and feet. C.B. was mildly interested, but would rather have been playing ball. Big D’s surprised reaction to her diminutive size was most entertaining. Welcome, Cousin Olivia – we are so glad you’re here!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Still Here

I just read that November 19 was the date of my last entry. I have to admit that I am slightly ashamed about that. I must also admit to a lack of inspiration lately. Either I am searching for something truly deep and meaningful to write about, or I am just preoccupied and weary. You decide.

I can tell you that I will be very wrapped up in rehearsals for the upcoming Christmas Concert at my church. There are so many on my calendar that I hope I have a voice left when it comes time for the actual performance. I am also trying desperately to get rid of a cold that I have had for about five days now. Surely that will have an effect on the quality of my voice as well. I am thinking hot tea with honey and lemon will be a frequent beverage selection for the next week or so.

I am scheduled for my 20-week ultrasound tomorrow. We have decided to wait and be surprised about the sex of the baby. This really seemed to bother the staff at my OB’s office when I confirmed that at my last visit. I found their response a little puzzling, because why should they care whether or not I want to know if I’m having a boy or a girl? Most of the people I have told, however, are very supportive of the whole surprise thing. There are so few surprises left in life anymore. It’s kind of fun to wait and see.

I can’t promise another entry anytime soon. Things are only going to get more harried and hectic as we get closer to the holidays. I will at least try to post an ultrasound picture or two and (hopefully soon) a birth announcement for my newest niece or nephew due December 8.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Peanut Butter Update

In case you were wondering, Peanut Butter the dog has stayed in the backyard since I wrote about this. Our overgrown pup really just needs a little T.L.C. and a lot of patience. Thanks to all who have expressed concern and support.

There's No Such Thing as a "Free Weekend"

When I looked at the calendar about a week ago I noticed that this past weekend was relatively free. We had one thing written in on Saturday, and it was literally free; meaning it was an event that had no fee associated with it. It was a play performed by the Piwacket Theatre for Children. They put on a silly version of Treasure Island that the kids laughed about for most of the rest of the day. I love free family fun.

As expected, however, the weekend did not remain free. Not in either sense of the word. It got busier and more expensive as we inched closer on the calendar. We received an invite for a Friday night Happy Hour to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. It was at his house so it was free; however, it also required us to hire a babysitter, which was not free. It was a fun evening, though, and in my opinion worth every penny of babysitting money for an evening of adult interaction.

It also turned out that Sunday was the meeting day for a group we recently joined. It’s called G.I.F.T. (Getting Interracial Families Together.) G.I.F.T. is a social group for families of mixed race, whether by marriage, birth or adoption. They have fun monthly outings for the whole family and just started a monthly “Parent Chat” just for the adults. It’s a great way for our kids to see other families that look like ours, and for my husband and me to talk to other parents of transracially adopted children. We met at a place that was something like a mild version of Chuck E. Cheese. They had a huge climbing area, an arcade area, even a bowling alley, and they surprisingly charged no admission. That’s right…it was free (except for the arcade games, of course.) However, we met up with the group right before dinnertime, and the kids were not shy about expressing their hunger as we were leaving. Since we were about 35 minutes from our house, we decided to stop somewhere to eat on the way home. This dinner was decidedly not free.

So, as you can see, try as we might we can’t really have a free weekend. Not one without event or appointment; not one without spending money. But I guess that’s only to be expected around here. I hope your weekend was good!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Peanut Butter on Trial

Our new dog is really just a big puppy. I specifically wanted an older dog in order to escape certain puppy behaviors. We were told when we brought her home that she was about two years old. We got pretty used to having older dogs in our lives, which is why I thought a two-year-old dog was perfect. But apparently it takes particular dogs more than a couple of years to outgrow some of their puppy issues. Thankfully she is housetrained and does not chew on furniture, which are the two major behaviors I wanted to avoid. Still, she does jump up on people that come into our house, she nips at us playfully (and sometimes painfully), and she just has SO MUCH ENERGY!! We have a retaining wall in the backyard – over four feet tall in some sections – and she can clear it from standing with a seemingly effortless leap. That’s when my husband started worrying about the fence.

When we moved into our house there was a wooden privacy fence on each side of the yard, but it tapered off as the yard went up a hill. There was nothing to keep dogs, or children for that matter, inside of our yard. We needed to extend the fence but decided that we could use a 4-foot rather than a 6-foot fence for the hill to save money. The steepness of the hill made jumping from an angle much more difficult. Besides, our dogs were getting older. After seeing Peanut Butter’s gazelle-like abilities, however, we were wondering if we had made the right call four years ago. But after almost two months with us, she has not attempted such a jump.

Which is why were surprised on Halloween night when our next door neighbor came to tell us that our dog was in his yard. As difficult as it might sound for a 65-pound dog, it turns out that she found a space to go under the fence; a space we had known about but had never thought possible for her to fit through. The next day that space was filled with a couple of leftover retaining wall stones and we figured she was stuck in the yard. But she apparently enjoyed getting out of our yard so much that she was desperate to try it again. She found a section of the original fence where the wood was nice and brittle, and she dismantled it board by board, making a mess of the fence and injuring herself in a few places in the process.

She created a spot just big enough for her to get her paws up and hoist herself over into the neighbor’s yard. They do not have a fence across the back of their yard so she is free to move about the neighborhood once she’s over. It wasn’t terribly difficult to get her back home, but I did have to load Banana and C.B. into the car to find her. My husband re-attached the boards as best he could that evening after work, but the next day she did it again. My husband went on the search this time. He found her much farther away from home, across the major street in our subdivision. He repaired the fence again, this time using stronger wood and better screws, and so far it is still in tact. Yet we find her over in that area pretty much every time she goes out. We are able to reprimand her when we catch her in the act, but I have to make an effort to keep an eye on her when she’s outside. Which truly is an effort because I have enough to keep an eye on inside the house.

With four kids and one on the way it’s foolish to think that I can handle a dog that won’t stay where she belongs, so this is a probationary period for Peanut Butter. I feel bad about it because she is such a sweet dog, and for the most part a good dog, but chasing her around the neighborhood with little ones is something I simply cannot do. We just purchased a training collar and will use it to help deter her from going anywhere near the fence. If that doesn’t work, we may have to reassess our need for a dog. Please say a little prayer for Peanut Butter. The poor thing doesn’t even know she’s on trial.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fireside

It’s getting to be chilly enough at night to sit around a fire! We finally got around to putting together our outdoor fireplace and last night we tested it out. I love the smell and sound of a fire. The kids enjoyed snacking and listening to Dad’s scary story “based on actual events”. It was nice and relaxing for all of us. Click here for the photo set.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hooray for Halloween!

The kids had a wonderful time on Halloween night. We put out the jack-o-lantern they designed with their dad…


In case you can't tell, the pumpkin is puking his guts out. Get it? Sweet, huh?

They got into their costumes…

Banana wore a Piggy costume my mom made 10 years ago for Miss M. We couldn't get a single picture of her smiling. I'm pretty sure she didn't care for the hat.

At the last minute, Miss M decided on Princess Fiona. You’ll have to imagine her with green skin. I just couldn’t get that green makeup to look right!

C.B. was the Green Power Ranger...

... and Big D was the Red Power Ranger.

They went out in search of treats with their dad for about 2 hours; first in our neighborhood, then near Grandma and Grandpas house. Even the Banana kept up with the rest of them the whole time. She looked like she was going to fall asleep standing up by the time the night was over, but she made it through the whole ordeal. I asked the kids to brush their teeth twice that night before bed and said a little prayer that they would all sleep in the next day. Halloween is exhausting!

I am actually thinking “Hooray” that Halloween is over. Call me a scrooge, but I am always ready to put away the costumes, the decorations and even the candy by November 1. I actually did take care of most of that yesterday. We packed up the costumes and took down the decorations. But the candy is another story. I put the kids’ candy bags on the scale and they weighed about 3 pounds…EACH! That’s 12 pounds of sugar in our possession right now. Does anyone else think that’s an insane amount of candy?

I have a plan for the candy this year, and so far the kids have been agreeable. They are going to pick a certain number of their favorite things (I haven‘t come up with that number just yet), and we will be taking the rest to a food pantry. Kids are really empathetic when you explain that there are kids who don’t get candy on Halloween, much less any other day of the year. I also think there must be a teeny-tiny little part of them way deep down inside that recognizes that TWELVE POUNDS OF CANDY IS JUST TOO MUCH!!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Potpourri

You know that “Potpourri” category on JEOPARDY! where it’s just a hodgepodge of questions and answers that really have no connection to one another? That’s what this post is like, since I apparently have a lot of time to make up for. I kept thinking it had been about a week since I wrote anything, but it turns out that it’s been two! I’d love to say that I have been so incredibly busy that I haven’t had time to write, but that’s not entirely true. While I have been somewhat preoccupied with two birthdays within one week and the kids’ school work starting to get more difficult and more involved, I have also been pretty tired, still taking naps in the afternoons whenever possible. Anyway, read on… smell the potpourri.

We had a dual birthday party over the weekend. Big D turned 6 and the Banana turned two. We had a house full of people, who still managed somehow to leave without eating all of the birthday cake. The kids had such a great time playing with their cousins, and the house was in surprisingly good shape afterwards. Here is a recap of Big D’s Sixth Year and Banana’s Second Year.

Although I have taken an obvious hiatus from writing, I have nonetheless been trying to keep up with some of my favorite blogs. Andrea from Little Bald Doctors wrote a post about her pregnancy that really hit home for me. She revealed how much she worries about this pregnancy even though she made a promise to herself that she would relax and enjoy it. I could empathize with her; feel her stress and anxiety. I, too, have been worried about my pregnancy from the minute I saw that little plus sign on the E.P.T. For one thing, it was COMPLETELY unexpected (can I even stress that enough?) If I truly would have thought this would happen, I would have been taking prenatal vitamins at the very least. For another, it has been 10 years since I had a baby. I am thirty-five years old, and considered to be of “advanced maternal age”. My first pregnancy was such a breeze – no morning sickness, no fatigue even until the last couple of months. This time I look up everything that’s been happening to me on the internet to make sure it’s a “normal” symptom of pregnancy. I have to admit that it was nice to read about Andrea’s worries and know that I am not alone.

Actually, it turns out that I wasn’t alone even in my household. My husband had similar concerns about this pregnancy. That's not really all that surprising. However, I noticed that Miss M did not seem to have the excited reaction to friends’ congratulations that I would have expected. I was starting to wonder if she was thinking that another baby in the family would be a negative thing. I considered that she might have thought that there would be even less time for her, or that she would be expected to help out even more. It was making me sad to assume she was thinking like that, so I asked her about it one day. She told me the reason she didn’t want to get too excited about the baby is because she was scared. I asked her what she was scared of and she promptly named three women we knew who had lost babies within the last year or so. I was astonished that her 10-year-old mind was so intuitive and sensitive. Trying to hide my own concerns (and my tears) I assured her that the doctor is keeping an eye on the baby and me and that everything looks good. I told her how I was worried that she didn’t want a new brother or sister, and she thankfully contradicted that thought. She has been much more excited and eager to talk about the baby.

Another blog I like to read is mamalogues.com. Yesterday’s post about a six-year-old’s sass had a familiar theme. Big D has only been six for two days, but his “you’re-not-the-boss-of-me” attitude has been surfacing regularly for some time now. He often gets snippy with me, and has on two occasions lost his temper completely and has out-and-out yelled at me. Dana from Mamalogues was quick enough in her situation to have an immediate and effective reaction to the yelling. She was able to take away something that her son really wanted and he was immediately sorry for his behavior. I do not feel like I have found an effective response to Big D’s yelling. The first time it happened, he got the usual time-out without blinking an eye. My response was immediate, but I’m not sure it was effective. Sometimes I think giving children time-out just gives them time for their anger to brew stronger. The second episode was in the car, and I felt at a loss to have any kind of effect on him. I took 10 minutes off his bedtime (meaning he has to go to bed 10 minutes early) but by the time we actually got home it was past his bedtime so there was really no immediate consequence. I did not get an apology either time, and I am unfortunately positive that I will see this behavior again. Any suggestions for dealing with children yelling at their parents would be greatly appreciated.

I started an allowance program with Miss M and Big D this week. I decided that they were old enough to help with a little more around the house and that they might learn some things about money in the process. I read somewhere a long time ago that you should set a child’s allowance at a dollar amount that is equal to half his or her age. I sat down with Miss M and discussed this amount and what responsibilities would be required. We came up with a list of five things that needed to get done on a regular basis in order for her to earn her five dollars. Admittedly, two of the things on her list are things she should be doing anyway, you have to start somewhere, right? Big D agreed that he would like to get three dollars allowance and we came up with three things for his list. One of the terms of both agreements is that there should be no whining or complaining when the child is asked to do one of the assigned chores. Miss M has been doing very well, considering that her homework load has hit its peak this week. Big D, on the other hand, has given me a fair amount of the aforementioned attitude; making sure to note that he doesn’t need allowance because he’s got birthday money. But he has completed all of his chores. Go figure!

Last week my mom called me from work with a sense of urgency. Her office was getting a new table for their front room, and the old one was up for grabs. The table we used in our kitchen has lost its finish, but it had room for all six of us and had slide-out leaves which allowed us to have both sets of grandparents over for dinner comfortably. She was excited because this one had not only a finish on it, but it was bigger than the old one and still had two slide-out leaves. We told her we’d take it. When we got it home we realized that it was actually big enough to fit eight people around it, but only if we had chairs. We’ve been using benches made by my grandpa for the kids to sit on, but they really only hold two kids. If we had chairs, three would fit on each side plus two on the ends. With six in the family and one on the way, we could use all those chairs. We bought one table and six chairs in 1995 when we bought our first house. The table was from Service Merchandise (a blast from the past) and the chairs were from Target. Needless to say they were not the highest quality table and chairs. We have not bought another table or set of chairs since then. We have, however, inherited tables from both of our grandparents and parents since then. Some survived the Reddy Zoo…some didn’t. Regardless, we decided it was time to invest in some decent chairs for our kitchen. It turns out that chairs are more expensive than I thought. Not to mention we need eight of them. And all because of a table that didn’t cost us a thing. Thanks, Mom…I think!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

To Know or Not to Know…That is the Question

Slackermommy posted a question from One Grumpy Bunny on her blog today.

“If you are in the midst of the best possible moment that you will ever experience in your entire life, would you want to know it?”

My answer to that question is a resounding “NO”. I love that there are so many possible “bests” in my life and that it’s difficult to choose just one. There are the obvious things, of course, like my wedding day, the first time I held each of my children, my anniversary trip to Hawaii with my husband. But there are other little “Moments of Zen” that stand out in my mind as well. Like the time we took the kids on a “pajama ride” to look at Christmas lights one winter evening past bedtime. That was great family fun. Or when I spent my birthday at the country house and I was able to go to the beach all by myself and take a nap. A rare instance of solitude that will never be forgotten. No matter what my true “best moment” is destined to be, I am positive that I wouldn’t want to know that it came and went and that there will be nothing better to look forward to.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Vacation

I didn’t intend to take a vacation from my blog, but it appears that I did nevertheless. I had gotten into a somewhat regular routine of writing while C.B was at preschool and the Banana was napping. But that precious timeslot has recently become known as “Mommy’s Naptime”. Either this pregnancy is really wearing me out, or I have finally found a decent excuse to take naps in the middle of the day. Either way, I have been sleeping instead of writing. And I'm not ashamed of it either. Because despite what my kids think, naps are AWESOME!

I’m not sure I can actually recap an entire two weeks worth of activities, but I can probably hit some of the highlights. We had our annual family camping trip a few weekends ago. The weather was wonderful and a great time was had by all. And by “all” I mean Grandma, Grandpa, 5 Aunts, 8 Uncles (including one on leave from Iraq), and 11 cousins besides the six of us. We try to reserve the same three campsites each year. We like that area because it’s right next to a big open field for playing kickball, football, Wiffle ball, etc., it’s near the playground, and, most importantly, close to the bathrooms. We have campfires each night complete with s’mores and campfire games. Click here for the photo set.

We were excited to learn that we had purchased a winning raffle ticket at our church picnic last month. Our prize was a 50-inch, flat screen, plasma television. We chuckled about how comical it was that our family won this awesome television because we don’t subscribe to cable or satellite – we’ve been using rabbit ears for the last two years. We decided since our new prize was HDTV compatible that we’d try an HD antenna and see what happened. We were surprised to find not only a beautiful, clear picture, but we are also receiving a few bonus HD channels that we never knew existed. We are not TV people, but we are thrilled to be able to look at the screen without seeing lines running through it. We are also pleased that all of our local channels are actually viewable. My husband is enjoying the crisp colors of the football games on Sunday afternoons. It was definitely worth buying those raffle tickets!!

And speaking of Sundays, ours are becoming increasingly crazy lately. We started Sunday School two weekends ago, which was also the same weekend for plenty of other activities. After Sunday School, my parents took the Banana to my cousin’s baptism party, C.B. and Dad took Big D to his soccer game, while I took Miss M with me to choir practice. She was later picked up by a friend for her volleyball game. After an hour I left choir to catch the rest of the volleyball game, then Miss M and I met up with the boys back at the house. We all got nicely dressed to join Banana and Gramma and Grampa at the baptism party. We didn't get home until nearly bedtime that night. I thought the craziness was over, but the very next Sunday was almost as bad. Big D and Dad left immediately after Sunday School for their soccer game, the rest of us caught up with them there. Miss M and I actually packed lunches to eat at the game because she and I had to leave right afterwards for a Girl Scout field trip. The troop went horseback riding, which was a lot of fun, but we didn’t get back home until 6:30 that night. Maybe I did need that vacation after all!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s…me!

My husband and I recently finished watching the first season of the television series “Heroes” on DVD. We have found that renting TV series and watching them after the kids go to bed is really the only way to enjoy them. There are very few prime time shows that are suitable for children, and “Heroes” is definitely unsuitable. While we found the premise and storyline both interesting and entertaining, we were disappointed at how graphically violent the show can be. It was also overtly sexual at times. I find it shocking and amazing what they can show on network television at 8:00 at night. But that’s another discussion for another time, and at all not where I’m going with this post.

The story of “Heroes” involves ordinary people who discover they have extraordinary abilities, such as being able to spontaneously heal yourself, being able to hear things that are happening 40 miles away, even being able to fly. It got me to thinking about some of the extraordinary things that happen to ordinary women during pregnancy.

Besides the occasional uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach and the frequent exhaustion, there are some beneficial things happening to me as well. I may not be able to hear what is happening in the next county, but I can smell things that others cannot. Sometimes that can be pretty cool. Other times, especially when combined with that previously mentioned “uncomfortable feeling”, it can be nauseating. Either way, it’s extraordinary. And while I may not be able to instantly heal any injuries I may sustain, studies have shown that there may be an increase in immunity during pregnancy. A healthy baby needs a healthy environment in which to develop, so that stronger immune system helps keep mama from getting sick. Extraordinary! In addition, Miss M is amazed by my fingernails lately. I have never really had fingernails. They grow very slowly and weakly (and usually just get chewed off during a tense episode of “Heroes”.) However, they have been growing longer and stronger every day. Miss M and I both find this extraordinary.

I realize that a good sniffer, long nails and a heightened resistance to the common cold are not going to help me save the world. But I think that any woman who grows another person within her body is a hero. Not that I want to complain, but it does take a bit of work to make sure that little person is safe and strong in there. There are restrictions on certain foods, drinks and activities that would not otherwise exist. There's the weight gain, the heartburn, the mood swings, etc. (Don't you want to call and thank your mother?) Many women endure months of morning sickness, fatigue and even bed rest to make sure their babies have the best possible beginnings. If that’s not heroic, I’m not sure what is.

Now, if only I could get that flying thing to work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bike Rides, Soccer, and Peanut Butter

A lot has happened since my last post. I guess that’s what happens when you wait so long to write. I went to Columbia with three of my sisters-in-law for the MS Bike Ride. I was not allowed to ride per the doctor’s instructions, but I decided to go along and volunteer at one of the rest stops along the way. It wasn’t the same as riding, and I was WAY jealous of my three companions who did get to ride, but I am very glad that I went nonetheless. Thanks to all of you who donated to support me and my team. And for those who haven’t yet, there’s still time to make a difference! Donate to Team Reddy here.

When I returned from Columbia I was able to celebrate my birthday with my family (and YES, my husband did get me presents). I was also able to watch Big D play in a soccer game for the first time. It was actually quite exciting. He was the goalie for the first half and he was pretty good too! His team didn’t win, but Big D had so much fun playing. And, of course, that’s the important thing.

On Tuesday of last week, our old dog Scully passed away. She had been getting progressively sicker over the past month and a half. She had lost the use of one of her back legs and the other wasn’t far behind. If she managed to get herself down the stairs, she had to be carried back up. She was vomiting almost constantly and wetting on the living room carpet as well. After she passed I got the comforting feeling that she could now run again in doggy heaven, that she was no longer in pain, and that maybe she’d see her old pal, Kenobi – our first dog. It was her time.

We had already been thinking of adding another dog to the family before Scully passed away (preparing for her inevitable departure). There was one dog in particular at the Humane Society that we were interested in. We went to meet her and decided she was a good fit for the Zoo. She reminded us a lot of our first dog, Kenobi. She has the same eyes and some of the same markings on her face. She is two years old and housetrained (Alleluia!) She’s still very playful, and big enough that she knocks the kids over sometimes without meaning to. She’s a real sweetheart, although she seems to be protective of her new house, since she barks at people and other dogs that go by. The kids named her Peanut Butter.

It helped with the loss of our old dog to have Peanut Butter around. Because our previous dogs were both older by the time children came along, our kids have never had a dog that would actually play with them. They are having as much fun with her as she is with them.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

It’s Really There!

I’m still here, in case you were wondering. I know it’s been a while since I posted our awesome news, and now I feel the need to elaborate a bit. The disbelief has finally worn off. There were 3 or 4 days between the time we took the pregnancy tests and the time that I actually spoke with the OB. Those were four days where my husband and I had a little secret – one that we weren’t even sure was true. After I was finally able to speak to the nurse practitioner at the OB’s office, I was only slightly assured by her confidence that I was pregnant. I still had nearly two weeks to wait in between talking to her and actually seeing the doctor. We began telling our family and friends a little over a week ago, thinking it would make the pregnancy seem more real, but a part of me kept wondering if I would have to tell all of these people it was all a mistake.

On Tuesday, we not only went in for a doctor visit, but also for an ultrasound. It was then that we were able to see the living proof:

Believe it or not, that fuzzy little peanut shaped object is our baby at a little over 7 weeks gestation. He/She measures 1.2 centimeters from “head to rump”, roughly the size of a pinto bean. The baby’s little heart was beating strong at 150 bpm. We even got to hear it on the monitor. At that point, I must admit, I was finally and thoroughly convinced that I was pregnant.

I guess I should consider myself lucky that I needed all that convincing. Because it means that I have not been experiencing some of the more common (and unpleasant) side effects of pregnancy, like morning sickness. I didn’t feel any nausea at all with Miss M and so far there has been very little with this baby, unless I go too long without eating. I have had days where I am completely exhausted, but that happens to me occasionally anyway – I have four kids, remember?

Today is my birthday, which I mention only because of how it relates to this whole pregnancy thing. You see, several people have mentioned what a wonderful birthday gift this baby is. While I agree that it is wonderful and it is a gift, I do not agree with the implication that my husband is exempt from getting me a birthday gift. Nice try, honey. Now, you’d better get to the store!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Adoption Education – Part IV

My husband and I have always known that the creation of our family has been inspired by God. We became pregnant with Miss M earlier into our marriage than we had planned, but we had no complaints. It was an easy pregnancy and she was such a good baby. We knew we wanted to have more kids, close in age if possible, but we were not able to conceive again after Miss M. We decided that she was a special little miracle; God’s way of giving us a taste of parenting. Because of our little girl, we knew we were meant to have more children, even if we couldn’t make them ourselves.

By the time our “baby” was four, we had made the decision to adopt a child. It was not a difficult decision. Indeed, we both felt that it was what we were meant to do all along. Miss M was the medical marvel that made us want more kids, and adoption was our destiny. This belief was further validated by the fact that Big D’s transition into our family was perfect. So perfect, in fact, that we applied for a second adoption as soon as we could. We were surprised (and thrilled) to learn about C.B. the week after we sent in our application. The process with his adoption was even quicker and smoother than Big D’s.

Our two boys, who were only sixteen months apart, kept us very busy. But we longed for another little girl. Jumping right back into the adoption process, we specifically asked for a baby girl this time around. We waited longer for our little girl, but the Banana was another perfect fit into our family. Furthermore, it seemed to us that having our two boys and two girls was just right for our family. We finally felt complete.

And then one day THIS HAPPENED…

And we were so shocked that we needed a “do-over”.

Even after two positive tests, there’s a fair amount of disbelief in our minds. I mean, it has been 10 years since Miss M was born so it’s a little unbelievable. However, the OB/GYN has assured us that if the pregnancy tests are positive, we’re having a baby. We are still pretty shocked, but extremely excited about another addition to the family. As are the kids, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, the friends, etc.

So the “Adoption Education” is mine this time, and here’s what I learned. I learned that we are not in charge. My husband and I felt like we were in control of the growth of our family through adoption. Since we made the decision not to adopt any more children, naturally our family was complete. Well, I learned that God has His own plan for us, and that we are NOT in control. And that’s just fine with me.

I also learned that God has a sense of humor.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I’m Finally Finished!

Using a family party as motivation, I finally finished the kids’ rooms. Hooray!! I feel like I have been painting for nearly two straight months, but it’s been worth it. All three rooms look great, and the kids are very happy in them. Here’s a pictorial peek at the finished products:

MISS M’s ROOM…











BANANA'S ROOM...










AND THE BOYS’ ROOM…







Whew!! Now I just need to get all the paints, tools, and other supplies put back in all the right places. Most of it has been stashed in my room during this process, which is why there are no pictures of my bedroom posted here. And why the door stays closed. All the time.

Another Cake

I almost forgot to post a picture of my latest cake. It was a couples’ shower for a girl baby. It was a big cake (serving 50 people) and it took a lot of icing to cover it. It was supposed to look like a baby blanket. What do you think?

My husband said I should post pictures of Miss M’s birthday cake as well. We made an ice cream cake that turned out pretty fancy…and darned yummy too!


Click here to see all my cakes. Click here for more information about ordering one. Thanks!

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Think I Cheated

Last week a mom whose blog I like to read wrote a post about her son’s first day of school. She described herself as “a sniffling, quivering mess of snot” the morning she dropped him off. A couple of days later I got an e-mail from my sister-in-law about how difficult her first-day experience was. She asked us, “Why didn’t you more experienced moms tell me how much I would be affected by the first day of Kindergarten?” She apparently had a hard time sleeping the night before and had a huge headache. Her e-mail went on to explain that she really had to do some persuading to get her son onto the bus. “He successfully (with quite a bit of nudging) got on the bus and I guess he’s doing fine as I have not had any phone calls from the teacher yet.” Feeling badly that I had not adequately warned her, I called her that afternoon to make sure she was doing OK.

Over the last few weeks I had been tearing up a little bit whenever I thought about sending Big D off to “big school”. I talked to him a couple of times last week about his feelings regarding school, and if he had any questions. I told him that C.B. and Banana and I would miss him during the day. He said he would miss us too. Then he remembered that his first day of school was a half day. “It’s good that it's only a half day Mom”, he told me. “We will only have to miss each other for a little bit that first day and after that we will be alright.” Thankfully I was driving and he was in the backseat so he didn’t see my tears.

I easily made the decision NOT to go along to drop him off on the first day. Our routine is for Dad to drive Big D and Miss M in the mornings before he goes to work. We both thought it would be best to keep the same routine. He went to the same school last year for preschool, and the drop-off process is the same as last year. Surely he would wonder why I was there since he already knew what he was doing.

Big D was excited and got out of bed pretty easily for school this morning. He got dressed in his uniform, having only a little bit of trouble with his belt. He looked sharp. We took a picture of him and Miss M on the front porch.

He left with a wave and a smile, and I didn’t shed a single tear. When I picked him up that afternoon, his smile was even bigger.


He told me all about his first day, and how much fun he had. He asked if he got to go back again in the morning and cheered when I said yes. I think I made the right decision by not going. It definitely kept my emotions in check. But after reading about other moms’ experiences, I feel like I may have cheated.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

As Time Goes By

I really don’t mean to go an entire week between posts, but it just seems to keep happening that way. Maybe when school starts I will have more time to write. Maybe. I did cross a couple more things off my list this week, but there’s still plenty left to do. Unfortunately there were even more things added to the list that weren’t there last week.

On Sunday night I finished painting the walls in the boys’ room. Hallelujah!! Praise the Lord. I am taking a break from painting for a while. After I finish the doors and trim, that is. OK, maybe my praises were premature.

On Monday I unpacked all of the boxes from my mother-in-law’s house. I found space in a kitchen cabinet for some of our appliances we haven't used in nearly a year. I decided to donate an old waffle iron, a blender, and a 4-cup coffee maker since I was able to buy a BUNN for my birthday last year. I also found our family photos we had packed away 10 months ago when we were trying to de-clutter and de-personalize our house in order to sell it. It is nice to have pictures of our kids out again. It is looking like our home again.

On Monday night I went to visit with a good friend of mine and tell her good-bye. She is moving to Texas in less than a week, and it will surely be a while before we see one another again. She was my roommate before I got married. I never had a roommate before or since (unless you count my husband). She and I made good roommates and we each have fond memories of our apartment all those years ago. She has been my hairdresser since our apartment days and my good friend always. Our lives have changed a lot, and our relationship has grown up along with ourselves. I will miss her a lot.

On Tuesday I organized all of the children’s clothes in my house. Somehow I have become the “Keeper of the Clothes” for our extended family and I am trying to retire. I had 18 Rubbermaid totes, a cardboard box and a plastic bag full of kids’ clothes and shoes in my garage when I was finished. I sent out an e-mail to my sisters-in-law to come and get any clothes they would like, and the rest are being donated to charity. There are shoes of all sizes, and you wouldn't believe the amount of clothes. There are clothes for boys ranging from newborn to 5T and clothes for girls from newborn to 2T. I won’t be donating the bigger girls’ clothes until the Banana has been through those. By the way, this is my garage:

I was able to do some running on Wednesday. Big D had an appointment with the pediatrician to get his Kindergarten physical (nothing like waiting until the last minute, huh?) He then graciously went with me to run some other errands while the other kids stayed at Grandmas. Life has gotten a little bit easier for me since Target started stocking some of the basic grocery items. Wednesday night our new furniture was delivered, but none of the hardware to put it together was on the truck. Miss M has a mess of bed parts in her room but nowhere to sleep but on the floor. By Friday evening we should have everything together…I hope.

We spent Thursday at the Country House with some friends. With so many things on my list I wasn’t sure I would be able to relax and enjoy this last hurrah before school started, but I pulled it off. It was another hot day, and we spent most of it in the lake. I was really excited to see Banana actually using her water wings to stay afloat. She was floating on her stomach and on her back, kicking her feet and getting her head wet. She was really swimming and it was fun to watch. We got out of the water just in time for a storm to hit, but we beat the rain home. Big D was even able to get in his first soccer practice before the rain started here.

Both Kindergarten and Preschool Orientation were Thursday night. Since we have both a Kindergartener and a Preschooler, my husband and I each took an orientation meeting. C.B. will have the same teachers in preschool as last year, but Big D will have a new one since he’s hitting the big time this year. She is as sweet as a Kindergarten teacher should be and I have heard nothing but wonderful things about her from parents and kids alike. I think both boys will have a great year. And Miss M is super excited about her teacher this year too. However, all this talk of school is reminding me of my uncompleted list. I think I should get going.

Friday, August 10, 2007

“I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!”

I can’t believe it has been a week since I have posted anything. I guess I have been even busier than I thought. I started a list of things I would like to get accomplished before school starts next Monday, and I am wondering if I am being too ambitious. Lists like these can be daunting; like a written reminder of my inadequacy. Perhaps I could use some Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley. Or perhaps I should just focus on the things I did accomplish this week, rather than that darn list.

We made some more progress in Miss M’s room on Monday. We put some white trim around her closet door and her windows, we painted the trim that will go on the rest of the walls, and we hung her curtains. We also moved the other kids into their new rooms that day. Banana now resides in what used to be the boys’ room, and Big D and C.B. are in the girls’ old room. Thankfully, everyone seems happy in their new spaces.

On Tuesday we went furniture shopping. We have never purchased a single piece of new furniture for any of our children. Any of the kids’ furniture in our house has been given to us or we bought it used. Some of it still looks fine and may even work pretty well. Other things are in pretty bad shape. One thing in particular is even being held together with duct tape. We decided that the boys really needed dressers. They have been using one small dresser for both of their clothes. It's probably too small for even one boy’s clothes, and their clothes just continue to get bigger. We chose a dresser and a chest of drawers for their room, and then Miss M spotted the pretty little girl beds. She hinted at how she would like to have a new bed, reminding us that it once belonged to a friend of mine when she was Miss M’s age (making it approximately 25 years old.) She kindly did not mention, however, that her bed is the piece of furniture I mentioned previously that is being held together with duct tape. Needless to say, we also ended up purchasing a set of white bunk beds that we will use separately in Miss M’s and Banana’s rooms. The salesman actually congratulated Miss M on such a “smooth move”, although it wasn’t really difficult to get us to replace her old bed.

Miss M and I spent the whole day Wednesday at Six Flags with some friends. Yes, it was hot, but it didn’t bother us too much. The lines were not long, except for in the water park area. As a result, we spent most of our time on the major attractions in the amusement park. We braved the Superman Tower of Power, but it was a ride I felt only needed to be done once. Miss M disagreed. She got in one more ride before the park closed. Yikes! I’ll take the Screamin’ Eagle any day. Long live the classics!! We had a great day and I’m actually looking forward to doing it again next summer. By then Big D should be old enough to join us.

My one-year-old nephew spent the day with us on Thursday. His mom and dad and big brothers went on a float trip that day. We explained to the kids that he wouldn’t have had any fun on a float trip so he came to play with us instead. He and Banana had some cute moments together, like BIG hugs; and they had some other kinds of moments, like bashing each other on the head with a toy or pulling hair. Is that cousin-ly love or what?

Today I started painting in the boys’ room. We decided to go with a Star Wars theme, mostly because we already have several large posters and other memorabilia that may be used to decorate in there. The color we chose is called “Silver Charm”, and it’s going to look great with Yoda’s skin tone and Leia’s hair color. The only time I had to paint today was during Banana’s naptime, so I only got the edgework done. It is coming along, though, slowly but surely. The boys are just excited that the pretty purple flowers on the wall are finally gone.

Wow! When I look at all that I have just written, that feeling of inadequacy is starting to diminish. I guess I don’t need to call Stuart Smalley after all.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Still Moving

I feel like we have been pretty disorganized since we decided to move back into our house. We have plenty of things that were stored in our parents’ basements that need to get put away, but it’s been slow going. Partly because there are things we want to fix or paint before moving everything back in; partly because we have four kids and other responsibilities in our lives.

Miss M was gone for a couple of days at Girl Scout camp. I thought it would be fun to surprise her while she was gone and paint her new room and get her bed moved in there. She probably would have been surprised if C.B. had not spilled the beans on the way home from camp. She did appreciate it though, and she likes the new colors and her new bedspread.

We still have some work to do in there. We plan to hang a white picture rail at the point where the two paint colors meet, and we’d like to frame the closet doors and the windows with white woodworking as well. Miss M is happy to have a room of her own, and has been enjoying spending quiet time in there.

I also finally finished painting our “Thinking Room”. It really looks sharp with all of the white furniture in there. Again, this room needs some finishing touches like pictures on the walls, but the kids are enjoying this new space as well. It seems like it has already gotten more use as a Thinking Room as it did during its four years as a Dining Room.

Our garage is full of boxes and other things that have been at our parents’ for so long. We can’t pull even one car into the garage anymore, and there are still things we have to pick up and bring home. I really do feel like we are moving in all over again. And since we already have all of our necessities it is taking even longer to get the other things back in here - things that haven’t been missed for almost a year I might add. We hope to be semi-organized by the time school starts. Unfortunately, that only gives us two weeks. I better get a move on!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Country Living

Last week was a quiet one here at the Reddy Zoo. It was the first week all summer that we didn’t have a single thing on our calendar. There were no camps, schools, or even doctor’s appointments. What a beautiful thing! I decided to take the kids for an impromptu 5-day, 4-night stay at the “Country House”.

Grandma and Grandpa have a house in a small lake community about an hour from our house. It’s just far enough away to make you feel like you're on vacation. The house has changed over the years to make room for more people as the family has grown. The simple A-frame has become more like a lodge, accommodating more than 20 people plus babies and toddlers. On busy weekends there can be three to four pack-n-plays set up in various rooms for little ones to take their naps or turn in for the night.

Our usual trips to the country house are for weekends when other families are there as well. The kids love going out there when they will have cousins there to play with. It is fun for us grown-ups to get together too. Everyone enjoys swimming in the lake, going fishing, swinging on the rope swing, and playing games in the evenings. Not to mention the loads of delicious food we indulge in during stays at the country house.

The bulk of this trip, however, was just me and the kids. Although we did have quite a few visitors who came to spend a day with us, it certainly was not the usual party weekend with Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins. I thought the kids may have been bummed, but they had a great time. And it truly was a vacation for me. Just being away from home, away from the painting, the laundry, and the dog was heavenly.

We arrived on Tuesday and didn’t come home until Saturday evening. We had friends come out on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Dad was able to join us after work on Friday and spend Saturday with us. We took a few pictures while we were there. We are so lucky that we have such a special place to go when we get the chance to escape. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I also have to thank our good friends for letting us spend the weekend at their lake house last weekend. It was a lovely getaway and we hope to do it again soon.


Monday, July 23, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer

The weather has actually been quite mild during these last couple of weeks, but I still have to call these the “dog days”. Our dog, Scully, is growing old and NOT gracefully. She is behaving sort of like she did when she was a puppy; getting things down from the kitchen counters and chewing them up, getting into the trash and scattering it about, and (my favorite) peeing on the carpet. Unfortunately, I do not have the patience for these kinds of behaviors that I did when she was a puppy.

It has been difficult for us to leave the house for any length of time. Nine out of ten times when we return from simply going to the store there will be trash on the floor or a loaf of bread will have been devoured, and I am constantly cleaning the carpet. We thought that she was going potty on the floor because she couldn’t wait as long to go outside as she used to. However, she has started going on the floor while we are here at home with her. She has even gone right in front of us! It is causing me to stress out a bit, as you can imagine.

This morning she got up with me and I let her out to go potty. She came back in and then peed on the carpet in the living room, right next to yesterday’s spot! Apparently she prefers the carpet to the grass. I decided that Scully needed to try being an outside dog for a while. Of course she’ll still have water out there at all times, and there’s plenty of shade for her too. It will probably take some getting used to, but it’s the best solution I can come up with at this point. If you have any other suggestions (or if you would like to add an eleven-year-old, 60 pound dog to your household) please let me know.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Paint, paint, and more paint

You might be tired of hearing about my dining room, but it happens to be a major part of what’s happening around here, so too bad. We decided that “Sueded Leather” wasn’t really the right color for our new room, and we decided to go darker. I must have been in the mood for sweets when I got to the paint store because the color I selected was called “Swiss Chocolate”. It was more than a little darker than our original color and we were slightly concerned with the contrast. However, I like the dark chocolate color more and more as it has been slowly going up on the walls. I especially like the dramatic color changes from one room to another. No two rooms are the same color on the main floor. This picture shows the view from the dining room, through the foyer, and into the living room.


Our kitchen is painted another bold color – a deep red. The texture exists because of the trauma the drywall incurred upon removal of the floral wallpaper.

The only room left to paint on the main floor is the bathroom. It currently has the dreaded wallpaper, but only on three walls and it is a small room. C.B. is dying to help me tear down. My dilemma is what color to paint this room. It has to be different from any other room, and it has to have the same intensity as the other rooms. I have thought about using the purple from this great chair we have in our family room.
This chair has been the inspiration for three other rooms already. The main taupe color is the color of our family room, the dark green color is in the living room, and you saw the red in our kitchen. The only color we have not yet used is the purple. It's a very royal color. Perhaps it is fitting for a room that contains a throne. Get it? A throne? Ha!

Actually it does not matter at this point because we have other painting projects that have priority over the bathroom. Since we are not selling our house we have decided to separate the girls, who have been sharing a bedroom for almost a year now. Miss M is often awakened by the lovely sound of the Banana impersonating Mariah Carey in the mornings. We are really starting to feel sorry for her and would like to get her into her own room as soon as possible. We will be moving her into a smaller room so that the boys, who will probably always share a room, can have the bigger one. To sweeten the deal we told her she could help design the look of her new room. She’s pretty excited about it, and she has a lot of good decorating ideas. I would love to get the room ready for her while it is still summer. That way she can enjoy some Banana-free mornings before school starts. Miss M’s Room = priority one.

Moving the boys into the girls’ old room will also present another painting project. Right now it is very “girly” in there, as C.B. recently informed me. We have been talking with the boys about possible d├ęcor for their room. They still love the superheroes, but we also have a ton of Star Wars stuff since we experienced somewhat of an obsession with Star Wars a not so long time ago, in a neighborhood not so far, far away. (A bit of background info: the Star Wars Main Theme was playing when we entered the reception hall on our wedding day, and Han and Leia were our cake toppers. See? Just a slight obsession.) The boys’ room = priority two.

We can’t forget the Banana. She will be moving into the boys’ current room. However, since she probably won’t care about the superheroes on the walls, we can wait to redecorate her room for a while. Bananas room = priority three…or possibly four if we want to get going on that bathroom first. Just don’t tell Banana. She’ll never know.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Cake


This cake was made for a red, white and blue bridal shower. I used a cake pan that my grandma found when she was moving out of her house and getting rid of lots of old stuff. The people at the cake supply store had never even heard of this type of pan. It is one pan that makes a three tiered cake.

I also tried another new technique on this one. It’s called sotas. It’s kind of like scribbling all over the cake, but it ends up looking great. My hand hurt when I was finished, but I was very pleased with how it turned out.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

Do you miss me? I am sorry I have not visited lately. I have been busy. I know, I know…you’ve heard that line before. But this time I REALLY mean it. I have accomplished a lot since I last wrote.

I (almost) finished painting the furniture to go in our new room. By the way, we have decided to call this room the “Thinking Room”. It will be a place where the kids can go to do their homework, sit at the computer, read, play games, do puzzles, etc. I am really looking forward to finishing up in there.

We spent the weekend at the country along with Grandma and Grandpa and some of our aunts, uncles and cousins. The moms and kids mostly played at the beach while the dads worked on a home improvement project out there. We felt bad for them because they didn’t get much relaxing done over the weekend. Maybe next time.

We had a team party at our house for Miss M’s softball team before her last game of the season. We ordered 10 pizzas for the girls on the team and their families. Then they had ice cream after the game. It didn’t hurt that they won that game either. It was a great end to the season.

I spent most of Monday and Tuesday getting ready for a garage sale I am having along with my mother-in-law. Since we are moving back into our house, we thought we’d clean up and clear out more clutter along the way. The clutter I am referring to is mostly kids’ toys. There are simply too many in this house for our children to play with. They agreed to sell a lot of them, and they will get some money from the sale to purchase some new things like DVDs or games for the computer. If you ask them they’ll say they're getting a Wii. We’re not so sure about that, but they have made over $100 so far in the sale. The Garage Sale Part II is on Saturday.

As I write this I am packing for a Girl Scout Mother-Daughter overnight with Miss M. We are leaving in an hour and we won’t be back until tomorrow. Our wonderful Grandmas and Grandpas are taking care of the younger kiddos while dad is at work. I really won’t be gone for much more than 24 hours, but it takes a surprising amount of packing and planning to pull something like this off. It’s all worth it though. I am looking forward to having some fun girl time with Miss M.

In case you didn’t think this sounded busy enough to ignore my posts, read on. When I get back, I need to bake a cake (Woo-hoo! Another order!) and get ready for Saturday morning’s sale. After the sale on Saturday I need to decorate the cake, and get it ready to deliver to a wedding shower on Sunday morning. After delivering the cake we are going to visit my aunt and swim in the pool at her apartment building. It will be another full weekend.

And if you still think that I am just making excuses, Monday begins another week of Girl Scout Camp for Miss M. I am working at this one again, so it may be another little while before I am able to write again. Be assured that I have not forgotten you. I promise to write again when I can.

Love,
Zookeeper

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Creative Endeavors

Since I’ve been slow to post lately there is a lot to catch you up on. Last Friday was our final day of Vacation Bible School. We had a fun morning and spent the afternoon helping to clean up. (The helpers got free pizza afterwards – of course we helped!) While I was sweeping, several of the teenagers who were also helping clean up ran to get me. They said I just HAD to see what the boys were doing. They thought it was hilarious!






During the week of VBS, I had been focusing most of my energy on getting rid of the wallpaper in my dining room. I was so obsessed that I was neglecting things like laundry and dinners. I took a break from it on Saturday to do some other fun things.

I rode twenty miles on the Katy Trail with two of my sisters-in-law. We are riding in the MS Bike Ride in a couple of months so we are “in training”. By the way, if you would like to make a donation to our team, please click here.

After the ride I went to another sister-in-law’s house to help her with a bridal shower cake. Her niece is getting married in September and she and her sister were hosting the shower. The cake turned out very pretty, especially considering we didn’t have much of a plan to begin with. We tried a technique called cornelli lace, which I have always wanted to try. It’s not as difficult as it looks, and I look forward to having another project to utilize it again.

Also on the “I have been wanting to try” list were these bride and groom strawberries.


I saw these about a year ago and have wanted to make them ever since. My sister-in-law’s bridal shower gave me an excuse. Like the lace on the cake, these were easier to make than they appear, and were a big hit at the shower. Don’t forget to think of me when you need to order a cake or candy (or chocolate covered strawberries decorated like little brides and grooms!)

Also on Saturday, my husband and I enjoyed a “Wine & Cheese” event at our church followed by what we would call a real date. We saw a movie, had a nice dinner, and then saw another movie. That is something we have not done in a very long time. It was wonderful!

Then on Sunday it was back to the wallpaper. And then I did some more work on Monday, when I finally got all of the glue removed from the walls. I got my husband to help me get a coat of KILZ on the walls before bed on Monday, and they were painted with a coat of “Sueded Leather” by Tuesday evening. I must give many thanks to my dad, who spent nearly four hours painting with me on Tuesday afternoon.

There is still plenty to do before we can call the room finished, but I am truly overjoyed to have those walls painted. After all of that scraping and scrubbing, the rest of the work will be a breeze.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

What was I thinking?

This wallpaper thing is about to kill me! It turns out that taking it down wasn’t the hard part. Every Zoo resident over two years of age pitched in one afternoon and we nearly had the whole room done.

It’s not the look I am going for but it already looks better without that lovely floral pattern on the walls.
The walls are not ready to paint, however. They are coated with layer upon layer of wallpaper paste residue that needs to come off before painting. I have been searching the internet for the secret to removing the sticky glop from my walls quickly and easily. There are tons of people that say it’s as easy as wiping the walls with a damp sponge and vinegar – NOT!! Some recommend a solution of water and tri-sodium phosphate – not even close. The guy at the hardware store said to use DIF. It is helping, but it’s definitely not as simple as the directions on the back make it sound.

“Once all the wallpaper has been removed, reapply DIF for 15 to 20 minutes to remove any remaining glue. Use Paper Scraper to scrape away glue residue, then wipe down the walls with a damp sponge.”

I found a system that seems to be working. I apply, wait 15 minutes, scrape and wipe. I then re-scrape and re-wipe, often with something more than vinegar or TSP. I had to use Comet to get a few spots clean. After two hours I had a six foot section of the wall prepared for painting. Unfortunately there’s still about fifty feet left to finish.

We were very close to painting right over the wallpaper, but decided we had better do this the right way or we’d be sorry down the line. I was questioning that decision this afternoon as I was fervently scraping the walls. I’m sure we made the right call, but it’s difficult for me to appreciate at the moment. You see, I was not blessed with the gift of patience. Right now I feel like my boys when we drive anywhere that takes more than 10 minutes. I want to say, “It’s taking too long!” with the same distressed moaning noise they are so skilled at generating. But, as I tell the boys, that’s not very productive. I’d better just quit complaining and get scraping.

Monday, June 25, 2007

VBS Hoedown

Today was the first day of Vacation Bible School at our church. I went to bed last night fretting and worrying over how the day would go. As it urns out, it went pretty smoothly, and I think everyone had a good time. My kids definitely enjoyed it and are excited to go back tomorrow. Our western theme is a fun one to play with. The gym looked like a ranch, we had a chuck wagon near the chow station, and each of the kids had a hat and a bandana. They sang songs with movements, made crafts, learned a new story from the Bible, and played fun games.


They also get a yummy snack each day. Today it was a trail mix fit for a ranch hand.
We even found some young ladies to look after the little ranchers while I was busy with my VBS chores.

I am happy that it went so well today, and I pray that the rest of the week is equally trouble-free.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Playgroups and Ballgames and Safety Town (oh my!)

Even though I would call this a “slow week”, there was still plenty happening around here. We took my dad out for pizza as a Father’s Day gift, we had a preschool playdate in the park, Miss M had an evening softball game, the boys graduated from Safety Town, and I even started removing some of the wallpaper in the dining room (don’t even ask me how it’s going.)

I sure enjoyed not having anywhere to be in the mornings this past week. However, that will all end when Monday comes. Next week starts Vacation Bible School at our church. The three older kids are all registered to attend, and I will enjoy my third year leading the song and dance section of the program. It is always a fun week with the kids and I am looking forward to it. I still have things to do to get prepared for Monday, though, so I better get started!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We’re Hanging it Up

After reading articles like this, this and this, we have decided that now is the perfect time NOT to sell our house. This decision comes as a great relief, since we have felt as though we haven’t really lived here since we put the house on the market in October of last year. At that time we “de-cluttered” the house by moving many of the little-used items in our house to our parents’ houses. We took down the kids’ pictures that normally hang over the fireplace. We moved some things to other parts of the house and have missed having them in their old places. Now we are ready to move back into our house and put everything back the way it was. Well, not quite everything. A lot of what is sitting in our parents’ basements right now needs to be sold or donated. We’ve decided that if we could live without it for all of this time, we can live without it for good.

We set out on this house-selling adventure for mostly financial reasons. We had only lived in our house for a little more than three years. But over those three years our house payment had gone up more than $120 due to of a rise in property value and consequently real estate taxes. We were stretching to get into this house in the first place, and were not expecting such an increase in payments. We also added two more children to our family since we had bought this house. In addition, my husband’s employer had begun being rather vague about the future of the company within this last year or so. We decided that downsizing would be a smart financial move, so the sign went in the yard. Things have changed, however, as we just received a notice that our house payment has actually gone DOWN this year. My husband tells me that things at the office are looking up, and there’s a chance we might even get that bonus we were told not to expect. Therefore, we feel pretty good about pulling that sign back out of the yard.

It also feels pretty good to be able to start some projects around here again. I’ve been wanting to paint the dining room, but was nervous about being in the middle of it if someone would call to see the house. I can begin to think seriously about turning our dining room into a den without worrying about how it would look to a potential buyer. Then I can rearrange the bedroom, knock out a wall in the basement, tear down wallpaper in the bathroom…..

Monday, June 18, 2007

Thank God it’s Monday

I don’t think I have ever said that before. But that phrase ought to give you a clue as to what our weekend was like here at the Reddy Zoo. Both Saturday and Sunday were non-stop from the minute we woke up, and wake-up times were a bit earlier than usual. In fact it was dark when I woke up on Sunday!

Highlights from the weekend include a very exciting softball game from Miss M’s team. When her team was down 10-3, they scored eight runs in the last inning to come back and win the game. Big D’s team played twice this weekend, and he hit the ball every time he was at bat. The band gig on Saturday went very smoothly (although it was HOT), and I was pleasantly surprised to receive compensation after the show. We often joke that the band is usually paid by the Lord. Getting kudos from the Big Guy is great, but having a couple of extra bucks in your pocket ain’t bad either.

Early Sunday morning was the team triathlon. I was hoping to finish the twenty mile bike ride in less than two hours. It actually took 1 hour and 34 minutes, which I am very pleased with. It’s not a good time in general, but it’s good enough for me. I was passed by many other bikers, but I didn’t let that discourage me. I was very motivated by the fact that I didn’t have to run five miles when I completed the ride. I felt even more motivated once I was more than halfway finished. I even passed one (that's 1) other rider on my way! I checked our results on the internet last night and it turns out we didn’t place last. Again, it’s good enough for me.

We managed to squeeze in two Father’s Day celebrations amidst the triathlon and two shifts at our parish concession stand. I felt like we were getting there late and running out early at both places, but at least we were there. I tried to stay awake until the father at our house made it home after the last concession shift, but that 4:45 wake up time was getting to me. I only made it to 10:15. Sorry, hon!

Knowing that we didn’t have to get up and race off to be somewhere this morning was an awesome feeling. The only thing that REALLY had to get done was the grocery shopping. I was able to take my time getting a list together so we didn’t even leave until around 10:30. We got home just in time for lunch and shortly after it was time for the boys to begin the second week of Safety Town. There was no stress and no rush. Now I wonder how long that will last.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Thank God it’s Friday

And I can’t remember the last time I meant it this much. It has been quite a week for us around here. Unfortunately, it’s going to be quite a weekend as well. I was hoping for a relaxing weekend after our crazy week, but no. The craziness continues into the weekend…and beyond!

Both Big D and Miss M have games to play on Saturday due to earlier rain-outs. They are back-to-back in the late morning and early afternoon. I will have to leave in the middle of the second game because the Christian rock band that I sing with is playing later in the afternoon. And I will have to fit in an evening Mass because Sunday morning is out of the question.

I signed up to do the biking sections of a team triathlon on Sunday. I have never done anything like this before, so I could use some prayers and positive energy to help me pull it off. I am actually looking forward to it…for the most part. Regrettably, I will miss the Father’s Day breakfast at my mother-in-law’s house. In addition, my husband is working at the concession stand at our church most of the day.

Due to the aforementioned activities, we have a very small window of time in which to celebrate Father’s Day. It’s a shame that we have to SQUEEZE in Father’s Day like that, but our Dad is used to having to go with the flow around here. We hope to have just enough time to let him know what a great dad he is and how much we love him. Oh…and feed him a tasty dinner. Dads love food.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Busy-ness, As Usual

It has actually seemed a little more busy than usual, if you ask me. We are more than halfway through Girl Scout Day Camp, thank goodness. These past three days have been long, warm days. I am working in a Junior Girl Scout unit with Miss M and 18 other girls. Thankfully there are two other leaders (more on the ball than I) and two aides there to help us as well. While I am with Miss M, the other three kids are in the “Nursery Unit” with several leaders and aides helping to take care of them. The boys have no complaints, but Banana has made it quite clear that she’d rather be with me and Miss M. However, she did better the second day than the first. Hopefully she’ll have a great day tomorrow. They are taking all of the kids to McDonald’s for lunch. What kid wouldn’t like that?

Camp has been fun for the girls, and we have been keeping them hopping. Since it’s hot we let them play games where they will get wet, like “Drip, Drip, Splash”. (Think “Duck, Duck, Goose” with a cup of water.) The Fire Department came to hose everyone down one day. The girls were drenched to the bone after that.

They have done numerous crafts, including a decoupage candle holder, a bird feeder, a lanyard bracelet, and spray-dyed t-shirts. There are more to come in the next couple of days as well.

They also made an “edible fire” where they used pretzel rods for logs and red-hots for the coals. It taught them the correct way to build a fire while providing a tasty snack at the same time.

They played tug-of-war on the first day and have asked every day since then to play again. Who knew they would find pulling each other around on a rope so enjoyable?

But, since there are 19 girls in one place, they mostly just giggle…a lot.

When camp is over for the day, I have about 40 minutes before I have to go pick up the boys from Safety Town. It also started this week and will continue through next week. Safety Town may be a little long, but it's a wonderful program. The boys will learn so much about all areas of safety that they will be reprimanding me for not following every safety rule ever created. They become my own personal little safety officers for at least a couple of weeks. Safety Town is fun enough in itself, but they also get to attend with their cousins this year. Sweet!

Each night this week I also had a meeting of some sort or another to attend. Vacation Bible School orientation, a meeting about the other day camp I will be working in July, etc. Multiply my meetings by the fact that Miss M had softball practice one night, Big D had baseball practice the next, and Miss M had a game tonight. Our whole family has been running in various directions all week. This evening I had to give the boys a big speech about how our family is a team and we each need to do our part for the team. So even though C.B. didn’t want to go to Miss M’s game tonight, and even though Big D didn’t want to go to my VBS meeting tonight, they needed to do their part to help the team (in other words shut up and do what I am asking!) Big D understood; C.B. not so much. Oh well, I guess that’s why he’s not on the baseball team this year.