Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's All In My Mind

I hit thewall. I have no drive to do anything but sit on the couch. I am so drained of all energy. I asked Brian how I ever made it three more weeks with Ben. He said it is all in my mind. If I didn't know it was over next Friday I would have to have the mental stamina to go on longer. Since I know it's all going to end, I can shut down now. Makes sense to some degree. I am not in the same mental state I was with Ben by any means. I don't cry everyday because I'm so miserable yet. Maybe it isn't as bad, maybe I just know what to expect and that much helps pull me through. Still, it's getting hard. Ben is showing the effects of my exhaustion. Maddie said something today and I laughed at it. She asked, "Is mommy funny?" I told her "Yes." Without a moments hesitation, Ben chimed in, "No you're not." Ouch. He said I don't get to play very much so I'm "boring" to him now. Poor kid. I do all I can to get him to watch tv while Maddie naps so that I can nap. I know he recognizes I'm tired, but also feels ignored. It makes my heart so sad for him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Abandonment

It's been about three years since the last time I ran through emotions like this of loosing very close, dear friends. Last time it was Gretel Patch. I swear when she moved to Djibouti, Africa I didn't have a single friend left in the entire world I could call for support, babysitting or friendship. It wasn't really true. It isn't true this time either, but what a heart ache I have today. Catherine left for the airport a few hours ago. We went to say goodbye after preschool. Ben is old enough to understand what was happening this time. He was excited to go say goodbye, but once we got to their home he was sad and subdued. He wanted to lay his head on my lap while I sat on the stairs. He looked like he wanteed to cry and told me how sad he was inside. My heart broke for him knowing he was loosing Eliza this week and Glori next week. Finally it was time to leave for the airport, they loaded their van and drove away. I cried all the way home from Cath's house. I have had an emotional wall of denial up for months. I've always known it would be okay since Cath first mentioned the tug they were beginning to feel in the spring. We first met the Arveseths in our married ward in 1999. We were both newlywed couples in college. Brian and I were transient to say the least, we moved from the University ward to Texas, Michigan and Kentucky. Back and forth, coming and going, but the Arveseths were always there and friendly. They were loved by everyone. Finally they graduated and moved to Virginia. Then we went to Houston and kept in touch with Cath's brother Dave in New Orleans and Brian would travel annually to Fairfax on business and have dinner with the Arveseths and bring home a report each trip. Then we got the chance to move to the Fairfax office of ExxonMobil and jumped on the chance. The Arveseths recruited us to the Fairfax Ward. I remember spending all day with an apartment hunter lady and being devestated by the pricetag of living here. We finally chose a place and traffic kept us from making it to the office in time to sign the paperwork. We ended up calling the Arveseths and visited them than night. Catherine was on bedrest with Eliza. They gave us a new list of cheaper apartments to check out, all in the ward boundaries. We saved a bundle thanks to them. Eliza was born about two weeks after we moved here. We talked one time after Eliza was born about what things might prompt us to move home to Utah and closer to family and forfeit the amazing experience that is living in the Nations Capitol. We cracked up as we decided the only thing at that point that would make us move home was having twins. No less than six months after that conversation, Catherine found out she was having twins. I may have never laughed so hard in my life and called to make sure she was staying anyway. Now the twins will turn two in February and she made it through on her own. Or with the help of her Fairfax Ward family and friends. We swapped childcare, frusteration and tears. Ben asks for Eliza play dates, anytime I teach preschool Maddie asks if she can go in Catherine's car with Sami and Ali to the park. Catherine and I have become great friends as we grew together as new, young mothers. It didn't seem real for months that they would ever leave Virginia. Then it became very real, very quickly. Brian started helping them rent their home out or do small fix up jobs so it was ready to rent. I would feel secretly mad at him for helping take my best friends away. As if it really made a difference. Maybe, if they couldn't rent their beautiful home to a nice family, they would abandon their promise to take the job transfer. No such luck. Everything has worked out in their preparations, as if the Lord had a hand in moving them where they need to be for this stage of their life. I know He will provide for me too. In time, the fresh wounds will heal and I will find new things and people to fill the holes left by our missing of the Arveseth family. It will just take time. The time we spent together and the memories we made cannot be replaced. They will remain treasured memories for me and my children. It's hard to replace a friend you've had for almost ten years. Catherine's undeniable faith in Christ has been such a beautiful testimony to me in my times of need. She never doubts he died for her, it is an integral part of her being and her relationship with her Savior is beautifully displayed in the person she has become. What an example to me. Next week my other dear friend moves to Ethiopia, Africa. When Marti left in June for Ethiopia it was easier because we knew she would return in September for three months to have baby Sophi. We also knew from the day she moved to Virginia that she was leaving, so it wasn't such a shocker. This time when she goes, it's for good though. It will be hard to say goodbye for real this time. The best news of the day? Ben is playing airport today. He had me check my luggage onto the dining room chairs arranged to look like a conveyor belt. It was originally rejected because I forgot to put my suitcase in an imaginary plastic bin like they do at the security check at the real airport for your carryon items. Once we worked that out, it was scanned for bad stuff and I was able to board the plane. The best part is that he told me the airplane was going to Salt Lake City and we could go see Eliza for three days. Then the airplane will come back to Virginia because the pilot had to come back.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chocolate Factory

I think parents should attempt to capitalize on the random interests their kids have in the moment, don't you? Ben is currently obsessed with chocolate and factories. We happen to live about two and a half hours from the Hershey Chocolate Factory. Since we didn't get ourselves to the beach or camping a single time this summer like we had planned to do we are feeling pretty bad about ourselves as parents. Brian has earned some hotel rewards points again for all the business travel he has done so last night he booked us a one night stay near Hershey and we're heading to the chocolate factory with the kids on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. I'm pretty excited too. I love big machinery, engineering and chocolate. This morning I told Ben what we were planning and he, being the pessimistic guy that he is, was full of negative questions like: Why can't we help them make the chocolates? I want them to give me a Reeses Peanut Butter Chocolate at the end, no other kinds. Can I help put the wrappers on the candy? That kid is such a glass half empty sort of guy. We swear he must be Uncle Anthony's kid, not ours. The whole world is just out to get him in his mind. Luckily, later in the day Ben had been thinking it through and become a lot more enthusiastic about the idea of a chocolate factory tour. He told me he is going to watch very carefully all the parts of the factory so when we get home he can make the same kind of chocolate in his chocolate factory in the boxes in the living room. For the last week or two he has been using his amazing imagination to create a chocolate factory in our living room. He currently has two huge boxes that are the factory building. He uses smaller boxes and laundry baskets as the cooking pots. The chocolate is made from crumpled up packing paper. I have a pile of mats we used for preschool last year that he lines up outside the building and uses them as stoves. There is a row of "buttons" on the couch he uses to turn the stoves on and off as he moves the boxes and baskets from one burner to another. Everything he does is methodical and deliberate. It is fascinating to watch the detailed thought he has put into his play. Everything goes well until Maddie or another playmate decides to use their own imagination and does something not in his plan. He freaks out. The chocolate gets burned or isn't cooked enough when Maddie moves the baskets or takes a piece of packing paper, excuse me, chocolate from the pot too early or late. There are tears and screaming and a lot of parental intervention. I love that he is so imaginative, just wish he was more open to other peoples ideas. He is terribly bossy and I'm not quite sure how to massage a nicer personality out of him. One of my favorite things he has done so far is make three signs. Brian spent a long time helping him spell out each one. They had to be on paper that he trimmed himself because the corners needed to be "not sharp". Then he glued each sign to a different side of the factory so he can turn the building to tell the customers what sign to look at each day. We had to glue the signs after Maddie was in bed so they could dry before she woke up and pulled them off. The signs say: Closed for Church Closed for Vacation Workers Only (meaning they are out of chocolate and the workers are cooking more, so no customers today) What a great imagination he's got.

Long Term Damage Done?

Aren't kids supposed to forgive and forget? I'm pretty sure I'm forgiven for my blow up the other day over the baby shower cake that landed me in time out, but it has not yet been forgotten. Today Maddie and I were playing and snuggling on the couch when she turned to me with a huge smile on her face. She said, "I always mess up your stuff." Cute little grin and she gave me another snuggle. Oh well. Forgiven yes, forgotten no. She'll forget over time...right??

Ben and Exercise

Ben is currently having a play date with our next door neighbor, Jacob. Jacob is a cute little guy about 1 year older than Ben. Ben just came upstairs and told me, "Mom, Jacob is stronger than me. That's why I got this sticker on my shirt. Now with my sticker I'm going to do exercises. Does exercising make us stronger?" I assured him exercises would make him stronger. "Good," he said and commenced jumping jacks and bicep flexing in front of me. Then he looked down the hall and Jacob was doing it too. Ben cried out with a rotten scowl on his face, "HEY! Jacob is exercising too. How will I get stronger than him if he is exercising too?!?!"

Sunday Morning Cooking with Dad

We were planning to go to the "Goodbye Arveseth" party tonight and were trying to think what Ben could help cook to take to the party for his little friend Eliza. The boys decided to make rice krispie treats, but Brian doesn't like to be boring. He thought of a fun way to jazz it up and make it more fun for Ben to make and Eliza (and everyone else) to eat. They colored the marshmallow mixture orange and made them into balls. Once they put green marshmallows on the top, you could totally tell they were pumpkins. They had fun working together. Eliza thought they were cool and asked me for one from the pumpkin pile. She ate the marshmallow, licked the rice krispie and handed it to me, stating I could finish the rest because she was done. Yum... She ran off to play in the basement for the last time with all her best buddies. We are so sad to see them go.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Powdered Milk Crisis Averted...Brown Santa Arrived

Everyone is happy. The kids have huge empty boxes galore and lots of packing material to play with. I have a new mixer, Christmas gifts, food storage (powdered milk) and organizing stuff. Life is great at our house.

To Those In Mourning Tonight

Neiner, neiner, neiner. What a great football game tonight!
Just another bit of proof that Utah is better than BYU. Brian got to shave a "U" into the back of Brent Soderborgs head after we killed the cougars, 48 to 24. Double the score? Yes, we're just twice as good as the Y.
We had fun at the Hyatts house watching the game with all those poor Y fans. We put on our red decor before we drove over to the game, knowing we'd probably be the only U fans there. We were happy to see Doug Arveseth had come to cheer on the good guys too. We even put red shirts on the kids before we went. As we parked the car, Ben asked us, "Why can't I choose myself which team I want to be on?" Dagger to the heart. He wanted to switch sides before even arriving. After we went inside to the party, he eventually decided to be a "red guy" with us so we resinded the adoption offer we had put out for him when he abandoned the Utes.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Potty Success

It is not my idea of good timing to potty train 14 days before the arrival of a new baby. Maddie however, has different ideas. She has been telling me for days when she has to potty and going in the bathroom and sitting, fully clothed, on her potty to make her stinkies in the diaper. Finally, today she demanded that I come take her diaper off. I obliged and she had a success. We made a big deal, she got a chocolate chip and was elated. What do I do now? Crash course and then let her regress after the baby comes or ignore her requests. Bad timing.

Ben Teaches Preschool

Ben has been teaching preschool the last few days. He was inspired when he found several of our teaching materials from last year. He collected the kids sitting mats, calendar and flannel board. The calendar didn't have any numbers anymore, so Ben spent many hours of tedious work to make them. He cut out little squares in purple paper and had me make the numbers in dots so he could trace them. Then he cut and rolled all the tape rolls to attach the numbers. It took two days of work and he was deeply focused on it the whole time. Then he moved on to making a flannel board story. He colored the pictures he wanted, cut them out and glued on felt. He did such a great job.
Then he set-up shop in the living room just like I do when I teach preschool. He laid out all his "guys" on the mats and told them the flannel board stories after they did the calendar and he had a welcome for them. Some of the "guys" couldn't sit up on their own. He was a little worried about it, but worked it out himself. I was proud of him because often things like that can really get him distraught. He decided that if everyone that couldn't sit up by themselves would lay on their side they could still look at the teacher so it would be okay. It was so cute.

Mommy Time Out

I am loosing any ability to be patient right now and Maddie has decided that now is just the prefect time to test my every limit. Ugh. I was asked to make the baby shower cake for a friend. The cake was made and ready to move to the cake board. I trimmed the board to the perfect size and taped the tin foil on top when Brian called. Maddie had been given instruction to not touch anything because Brian needed an account number right then. Maddie was distracted when I ran upstairs. I had no sooner got the folder open when I heard Ben yelling, "Mom! Maddie is ruining the cake!" I ran back down the stairs yelling to stop touching it. When I rounded the corner and saw her fingers shoved into the cake, I lost it and screamed something like, "How can you be so stupid! I hate you when you do this crap! Why can't you just listen to me and leave my stuff alone?" I was so mad! Maddie got put in time out, screaming and crying. A two year old gets two minutes of time out, right? I removed myself from the situation, stood against the wall in the other room breathing deeply. Lets just say it took all the self control and good fibers of my character to go finish the time out, tell her I loved her and give a hug. Two minutes was NOT long enough to cool off for me. It was so hard to not just throw her in her room for an hour. Maddie's time out ended, she apologized to me, then I gritted my teeth and apologized to her for saying mean words and told her I loved her. Then I stayed in the time out spot after she was done. Let's face it I earned it. After a minute she actually noticed I was in time out and thought it was funny. Her smile was from ear to ear. She kept asking me, "Mommy go to time out today?" "Yes," was all I could say. Ben thought is was cool too. I couldn't help wishing that if a 2 yr old gets 2 minutes, why couldn't I have 30 minutes? I'd love 30 minutes alone...I'd be bad more often if I could guarantee some alone time. On to a new, fresh, clean slate on a different day. I will do better. I will maintain my composure. I will be stronger than my impulsive, exhausted emotions. The cake board was repaired, the cake was fixed with frosting and no one ever knew the difference. Sorry if you were at the shower and now know where your cake has been. It did turn out pretty cute though.

UPDATE: I know Maddie wouldn't remember me freaking out that day when she is an adult. She's young. The memory will fade eventually. Three days later though, we were snuggling on the couch and she said, with a smile, "I always mess up your stuff." Cute little grin and a snuggle. Oh well. She'll forget over time...right?? I've done better the last few days.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Brian's Addiction

Brian has been scrubbing our shower for about two weeks. He has become addicted to a new product for shower cleaning. We thought Scrubbing Bubbles were pretty good until Brian started using Clorox Bleach Toilet Bowl Cleaner. It's a gel that stays in place instead of running like all the liquid stuff. It's great, he squeezes it all over the grout in the morning and washes it out every night. He says it's been so easy! And, I have a sparkly clean shower! What a great husband.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Life Is Now Complete

I have a not so secret obsession for advent calendars. I enjoy countdown chains for any occasion, but have a particular love for Christmas Advents. I have been searching for about 10 years for the perfect compilation of countdowns. I have always known that I need to have 5 good ones that I love. This is based on the fact that I grew up in a family of 4 kids. Therefore, four kids seems like the right number of kids for me. I need one advent for each kid to do each day and one for me. We'll have to rotate each day which calendar we get to open, close, change, read, light, etc. so everyone gets an even chance to do each one. That's just the way it has always worked in my head since I was a kid.
In my 10 year search for the perfect combination of Christmas Advents, many cheap ones have come and gone. I made several of them, some more complicated than others, some cuter than others. Some I bought. There have been two very specific ones I have wanted forever. I finally broke down and bought one of those wooden ones with doors that I have been salivating over for years and I love it. Silly, I know, but I am so excited and so are the kids. It is a pile of gifts in cute vibrant colors. Maddie can hardly keep her hands off of it. Now I need to find 25 scriptures and buy some small little treats like Hershey's kisses to stuff in each day. Then of course, put it up really high so the candy lasts until Christmas against the attack of little hands.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Shot Hurts Me

Maddie keeps telling me about the shot she got. Our family went to get flu shots on Saturday. I'm glad it's overwith. Both the kids had a rough time with it. They both fell asleep on the way there so I carried Maddie and Brian had Ben. We signed all the papers and I went first holding a sleepy Maddie on my lap. She woke up just in time to see what I was doing so I explained I was getting a little poke and the nurse put it in my shoulder. Then she got upset when I pulled down her pants to let the nurse give her a shot in the leg. I had to hold her tightly and she screamed for about one minute until she decided she'd rather eat the sucker they gave her than cry. We quickly left the room and let Brian sit down with Ben. From the lobby we could hear him freaking out and screaming at the top of his lungs. He was NOT happy. Brian prepared for the fight by pulling Ben's arm out of his shirt sleeve. Then he and the nurse tried to distract Ben while Brian held Ben's arms. Ben would not allow any distractions to get in the way of his screaming. He kept his gaze on the Nurse, who finally just went for it.
For the rest of the day Ben complained about how much his arm hurt and made sure no one touched it. That is of course until the Hyatt boys came for an afternoon playdate. At which time the arm was magically healed. It worked fine through the entire playdate. After they left, it stopped moving again because it magically started hurting again. By the next day he had pretty much forgotten about the shot. Maddie, however, has not forgotten. Every day, she keeps showing me where her arm hurts from the shot. Funny, she got it in her leg. She'll pull her sleeve up and tell me how terrible it feels and how it still hurts her and not to touch it.

Good News For You, Ben!

Maddie has just been calling down the staircase to Ben. She's been saying, "Ben, I got a good news for you!" "Come Ben, I got a good news for you!!" When Ben finally emerged from the basement, she told him, "We love you, Ben. Dat da good news Ben. We love you!"

It Doesn't Fit

Maddie is just beginning to discover she is about to be dethroned. Marti and Catherine both brought over fun baby gifts for the new little guy on Monday. The baby got a bumbo chair which Maddie was all ready to sit in and didn't understand why she couldn't have it right now. Then we got a few super cute fleece sleepers. Maddie wanted to wear "her" new clothes. So to prove it was for the baby, I let her try them on. She was totally confused that it didn't work. It was pretty funny though.

Potsy's Story

Usually we refer to our family as a family of four. The reality is that we are a family of five already (expecting our sixth member when the new baby arrives). Anyone who has a kid with a "special friend" can relate. Potsy is just as important as the rest of us around here. When I came home from Enrichment at the church last night it was almost 10pm and Ben was crying because he had lost his precious Potsy. Brian has become a bit hard nosed about searching for Potsy at bedtime lately, understandably so. It isn't our job to keep track of him. Potsy is not allowed to leave the house, so he's always here somewhere. We've asked Ben to keep him in his bed during the day, but Potsy always needs to either play or watch Ben play, so he travels around the house. Frequently, when Potsy is lost, we find him in strange places where Ben has deliberately hidden him then forgotten him. Potsy has been located in the seat of the toddler push car, wedged in the french doors between the kitchen and dining room (at kid eye level), but most frequently he is found laying on the floor where Ben ran to do something more exciting at the moment. We went through a few months of the same struggles 6 months ago as I recall, loosing our Potsy is always painful for Ben and the parents too.
The first Potsy was actually a baby shower gift when I was pregnant with Ben. The Reeves girls gave him to us and he was so cute. Potsy is a precious moments doll with blue pajamas. His hands are clasped together in prayer and he has a cute little night cap on. He was small and sweet. He sat in Ben's window sill above the changing table in our Houston home and was a cute decoration. We saw him all the time when we were changing diapers. When we moved to Virginia, the room was laid out differently and we put him in the toy bin. Ben had no interest whatsoever in playing with the toy.
One day I had a YW President's Luncheon to attend and had my good friend and neighbor, Debbie Yang, come watch Ben for a few hours. He was about 18 months old at the time. When I returned, the precious moments doll had come to life. Debbie had played with him and teased Ben and made the doll a real animated alive person! Ben quickly fell in love. He began to have to sleep with the doll and it wasn't long before he began to suck on the doll and chew on it. It was a little gross, but not too bad. He chewed off the nose and it was lost after a while when I didn't get it sewn back on.
Brian's parents came to help us move from our apartment into our townhome in the spring of 2006. Craig was playing with Ben and his doll one day while we unpacked at the new place and they were talking about how the doll didn't have a name. Grandpa was teasing Ben and named the doll Potsy. It stuck. Potsy was officially a named member of our growing family.
Potsy was beginning to look pretty tattered and worn. One day we happened through the baby section at Wal-Mart. There was a brand new Potsy doll. It was about twice as big as the original and had a voice box in it that said "A Child's Prayer." Ben fell in love. I was tired of the dirty doll and the washing machine wasn't really cleaning it well anymore, it was just too loved. Ben had been chewing on the face where the nose had been and the fabric was tearing so the stuffing was about to be exposed. I caved and bought Big Potsy. When Brian came home from work that day, Ben ran up holding the new doll and yelled, "Daddy, a BIG Potsy!!!" I'm not sure Brian was initially pleased, but who was he to stomp on Ben's elation. For a while we had Big Potsy and Little Potsy and they were the best of friends. Eventually Ben tired of Little Potsy and no longer needed him to sleep, just Big Potsy.
Over time and many "baths" with the laundry the voice box stopped working. Tears were shed and Ben's little heart was broken. We tried and tried to talk him out of biting Potsy's face. He eventually did...but only because he started sucking on his hands instead. Eventually, Potsy became so stinky even the washing machine couldn't fix him. The next Potsy replacement was purchased at Wal-Mart and I counted my blessings they were still, miracle of miracles, selling the exact same toy! The night of the first replacement, Brian and I were both holding our breathes and were scared about how the swap would work. The old one was just so stinky it made my stomach churn when it got close to my face. It was really, really bad. We explained that we had taken Potsy to the doctor to fix him. The "fixed" Potsy was delivered to Ben. He was elated! No more Potsy stuffing to get stuck in Ben's teeth. It had a nose again. It talked again. Perfect! Then it was bedtime. Things weren't so smooth. We conned Ben into sleeping with the fixed Potsy that night, but the next two nights were rough. He wanted his old Potsy back. He cried and cried. We had thrown the old Potsy to the back most corner of Brian's closet, just in case we had to give it back but we didn't give in. The new Potsy eventually won a place in little Ben's heart. He did not, however, stop sucking or biting him. He got stinky again after 6 months or so and had too many baths so the voice box stopped working again. The same scene was repeated over and over. Now Ben now knows exactly where Potsy comes from. He knows if he bites him, Potsy gets broken because has to take too many baths. Finally, we had made some progress.
For Ben's third birthday I sewed him Potsy Match Pajamas. He was in heaven. They were a match, though it didn't take him long to realize that I hadn't put a yellow patch on the knee or a flap on the bum like the real Potsy. He also needed a sleeping hat. Can't please everyone, but once he gave up on those things, he loved the Potsy Match.
This summer Potsy came with us to Utah and one night we were camping up above Heber City. Our whole family had a small cabin with bunk beds against the walls for everyone. I was babysitting that night, i.e. laying down with all the grandkids while the adults played capture the flag in the dark. Ben was settling in to sleep when Potsy started talking. His batteries were getting weak so he sort of stuttered and stammered over his words. Eventually, Ben started whimpering that "Potsy wouldn't be quiet." He was right. Potsy was stuck "on" and kept talking for over 15 minutes.
I took Potsy outside to fix him. I found Brian and we found a kitchen knife and ripped out his back seam then used the knife as a make shift screwdriver to remove the batteries and the voice box. Finally, silence. I returned Potsy to Ben and he went right to sleep.
For months, Ben has been asking for new batteries for Potsy so he could talk again. Finally we looked at Wal-Mart. The batteries cost $5.65. A brand new, clean Potsy costs $5.95. For $0.30 I can have a brand new Potsy, no washing, no hand stitching the back closed, no extra work. Perfect. I bought Potsy...again.
Eventually, by his fourth birthday, Ben had basically outgrown the pajamas. He couldn't bear to not wear them anymore, so I agreed to put in leg extensions. I added about six inches of fabric hoping it would be enough. Now he's creeping up on five in the spring and the toes of his pajamas have huge holes from all the love and wear. The sleeves are too short and the legs are getting to short again. He asked if I can fix it again and I told him we would have to pass them on to the next kid this time. He was sad. Before he totally outgrew the pajamas we did a photo shoot which he thought was fantastic. He hadn't even known that we kept all the old Potsys. His smile was priceless when he walked into our room and saw SEVEN Potsys laid on the bed.
For the record, he did comment on how stinky two of them were and during his photo shoot would make sure that those two Potsys weren't anywhere close to his face. That sort of made me feel justified in the deceptive lies we had told him over the years about Potsy "going to the doctor." Even Ben couldn't stand the stench.

Baby Countdown

Ben loves to use my paper cutter, so I came up with a fun project for him the other day. He got a paper cutter, chose some fun Christmas paper and a stapler. He spent a long time cutting the paper to just the right size for his liking, then he assembled it and I ran the stapler. He had so much fun with the project and was so proud to have done it all alone. Now he enjoys ripping off one piece of the chain every day to tell him how long until the baby arrives. He's going to be a great big brother!

Parrots

Everyone knows their kids pick up the little things they say. While washing dishes, the kids were running around the kitchen and living room circle. They came whizzing past and right in a row, I heard Maddie say "Oh my goodness sakes!" and Ben came right behind saying, "Holy Smokes!" It made me smile.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Unexpected Moment of Sadness

I was looking through our old digital photos from the days when we were a family of three. I was struck with an odd sort of sadness. It started to eat at me that Maddie Mae was missing. I wanted to "fix" the pictures for lack of a better way to explain my emotions at the time. How odd I have been thinking in the week since that happened. As I examine my emotions of the new baby's arrival, how do I reconcile that with these feelings? Before Benjamin, it was relatively easy to understand loving a new baby. How could you not anticipate loving such a new and pure little person. Ben would "complete" the family structure and it made perfect sense. While waiting for Maddie's arrival, it didn't come quite so easily. We already loved Ben. How could you divide that love. How could you multiply that love. Could you ever really love another child like the first. Of course, the answer is yes. But it was hard to wrap my brain around. I wondered how will she fit in our family dynamic? How will the new baby work with the way things are? Life is already good, how will it change? Will I like it? Now I find myself feeling all the same familiar emotions. How will this new baby change our lives? When I look through pictures of our family in the months before the birth, will I feel the same sadness I feel now looking at pictures without Maddie? Will I feel a sad sense of incompleteness where I now feel our family is so whole? I wonder...

FHE Again

For FHE last night we popped popcorn and watched "The Wizard of Oz" again in our bed. Since that was what our Halloween costumes were this year, the kids were totally into it. As each new character was introduced Maddie would say, "dat's Mommy Dorothy!!" or "Dat's da Tin Man! Dat's Daddy!" "Here comes ME! I da lion!" "Dat guy is the Ben!" (scarecrow). They totally loved it. Brian had worked late last night, so we got a much later start than we had planned, staring the two hour movie about 30 minutes before bedtime. I thought they might drift off during the movie and we could just put them in bed. Turns out it was a good thing we were in my bed. I fell asleep long before the kids. I woke up to the closing credits and the kids saying night time prayers on our bed with Dad. Cute kids were tired. They laid right down and were out as was I. Then of course, I was up at 5:30 wide awake since I had crashed so early. Hey, what better time to catch up on the blog? It was sure quiet while I wrote this morning. I hear the stirrings upstairs though. Time to sign off and get dressed for the day.

Sparkle Toes

My friends got me a pedicure for my birthday and Maddie noticed my fancy painted toes today. She asked me about them and was really interested. I decided there was no reason she couldn’t have painted toe nails too, so I asked her if she wanted painted toes like mom. She was totally excited and we found some sparkly nail polish. She was so proud that she had to show everyone at church that she had sparkle toes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Good Friends, Good Times, Goodbye

I had invited, well, lots of friends over for lunch today with their kids. I had been so excited to have everyone together for a while now. Last night we made a show stopping dinner, yes, but it was pretty dish intensive. My belly and back finally demanded that I stop cleaning up last night and I went to bed. No, I'm not sick, but my huge belly was just sore from being pushed into the counter for so long washing dishes forever and my back was sore for my awkward posture trying to stand sideways while washing...basically I quit after working for more than a half hour. The kids made a mess all over the living room and I didn't want to stoop to pick up anything and I just went to bed. I should have had enough time this morning to finish up all the loose ends before our guests arrived, but Maddie woke up on the wrong side of the bed. She just screamed and cried and tantrumed from the second she got out of bed for a solid hour. No particular reason that we ever discovered. She was just cranky. That threw a huge wrench into my plans, but luckily, Mali saved me. She was my first guest and arrived bearing lunch meat (which we were out of, surprise to me...thanks Mali) and a few other things. Then she helped pick up all the toys in the living room, vacuumed the living room and breakfast areas and dried my dishes so the sink could be cleared and wiped down. What a great friend!! It made my afternoon so much more fun to know things were mostly in order. I have the best friends here. Soon after we got things settled and cleaned our other friends began to arrive. We got to see the Nelsons (Emily and Caitlyn), Soderborgs (Mali, Ben and Jane), Arveseths (Catherine, Eliza, Ali and Sami), Glassetts (Cara, Joel and Cambry) and Miles (Marti, Glori and Sophi). Almost all my dear, close friends in Virginia. It is so sad that life changes and people come and go because I would be totally happy to just "stay" in time and have my kids grow up with these great women around us. But time marches on despite my wishes and it is time to say goodbye to Marti to Africa and Catherine to Utah in less than two weeks now. Sad times around here for me and my kids.

Baby Cakes...Stumped

Anyone have a picture of a cute baby cake design idea I can decorate for a baby shower this Saturday? I'm stumped. It's a girl and I don't do fondant...yet... :)

I Didn't Drive When I Moved Into the Ward

I was just telling Ben part of the story of how we chose his name and about people moving in and out of our ward at church. He got all excited about the story. He started patting my tummy on the baby and said... "I didn't drive when I moved into the ward. I was born out of your tummy, mom. 'Cause, don't you know babies can't drive?"

Baked Potato Soup Heaven

Huge endorsement for this recipe. I made a stock pot full of it so we should get about 6 dinners from it and put half in the freezer for after baby ready-made dinner miracles for when January exhausting hits me hard. Those are going to be some really, really good days. We also made bread bowls from scratch and that totally kicked the entire experience up a notch or two to say the least. Thanks for the recipe from the Gillespie blog. Bonus part? The bread bowls were easy, tasted great and were soft rolls, not those hard crusty kind!! Baked Potato Soup Southern Living Magazine Makes 2 1/2 quarts 4 large baking potatoes 2/3 cup butter or margarine 2/3 cup flour 6 cups milk 3/4 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 12 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled, and divided 4 green onions, chopped and divided 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) cheddar cheese, shredded and divided 1 cup sour cream Wash potatoes, prick several times with fork and bake at 400 deg F for 1 hr or until done. Cool until you can handle. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; scoop out and resreve pulp. Discard shells. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour. Stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbling. Stir in potato, milk, salt, pepper, 1/2 cup bacon, 2 tablespoons green onions and 1 cup cheese. Cook until thoroughl heated (do not boil). Stir in sour cream. Cook just until heated (do not boil). Serve with remaining bacon, green onions and cheese as a garnish.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Goodbye Train Table

Ben was our huge helper again the other day. We had been offered a train table by the Stewarts but in order to make it fit in the basement, Ben had to choose to keep the train table or a small climbing structure. He opted for the train table. We gave the climbing thing away and set up the train table. He was so incredibly excited! He played with his trains on it for about two days before he decided it was too small for him and he couldn't build enough on the table top. Back to the floor he went with his creations. After a month of not using it, I decided it was silly to keep it around. I talked to him about giving it to another kid that might need a train table and he pretty quickly agreed that we should share it. Probably the best part of having the train table was taking it apart to give to the next family. He loves to use the cordless drill and did almost the entire thing by himself. I just supported the pieces while he took out the screws. He was very proud of his work.

Don't eat it!

When Grandma and Grandpa Zufelt were visiting us several months ago, they helped us get Ben to eat his dinner using the "you better not eat that" reverse psychology tricks. Ben totally loved playing this game with Grandpa and seeing the reaction when Grandpa would get "upset" because Ben had eaten all his dinner.
Ben still loves the game and often asks me to tell him not to take another bite. Now Maddie has joined in. At dinner she will tell me, "say don't eat it, Daddy!" When I realize what she is saying and tell her not to eat what is on her spoon, she giggles and quickly gobbles up the item she wants me to tell her not to eat.
Tonight Angie told me that she does not want to play this game for all three meals each day, so she simply does not respond. Well, what are the kids to do when Mom doesn't want to play your favorite mealtime game? Start playing it with each other. Ben and Maddie start telling each other not to eat another bite. Tonight I got to see a little bit of it. Maddie told Ben, "Don't eat it Ben," and Ben properly responded by taking another bite. Maddie then looked at me and said, "What gonna do Daddy?" I couldn't help but smile as I told her, "Don't you dare take another bite."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two Brown Specks in a Sea of Grey

Anyone raised in our church will appreciate this for what it's worth. For anyone not, the quick easy background is that we have an unpaid ministry in our church. It typically falls to the more mature gentlemen, say 40 plus, to be the congregation leaders. It's not a rule, just the way the cookie crumbles. That's a stage in life when you don't have newborn babies or toddlers to chase in the church hallways or juggling of that sort of thing so it works better. You are more available for the more time intensive jobs, meetings and leadership. Sometimes, though, there is a need and younger men are asked to serve in those leadership callings. This was the situation in Houston. Brian was called to be a counselor to our bishop while we lived in Houston and was a invaluable help and advocate for the Spanish speaking members of our fun congregation. He was able to translate endless meetings and liaison the needs and concerns of the members and he loved the opportunity to serve them and help the leadership there. Once you have served in one of those leadership positions, you are forever, well, inducted into the "High Priest Group." This means the rest of your life, you get to go to what I have always referred to as "old man class" instead of with the younger group of guys when we split up after sacrament meeting each week. It really isn't a big deal usually, but sometimes it changes things for us. When the younger group, the "Elders" plan their BBQs and social fun, we often get overlooked from the invite list because our family no longer shows up on their printed roles. We usually find out anyway since our main social group all goes and we crash their parties. Kids are always welcome at these parties because everyone has little people still. Last Friday night the Stake High Priests had their annual dinner social. We decided to get a babysitter and go to dinner. We'd never been the last 3 years because of the inconvenience of getting a babysitter. No one there has little kids, they all have grown-up kids in college or at least high school. We also had a new young family move in that is in our same situation, so we carpooled with them. It was fun to walk in and recognize so many people and we enjoyed the dinner and the company. The after dinner entertainment was several amazing musical performances by some regionally well known musical talent in the area that attend some of our stake congregations. We sat in the back of the chapel and as I looked around the audience, I realized our heads were almost the only two specks of brown in a vast sea of grey and white. It was neat and humbling in a way to realize what amazing company we were in. Past bishops, stake presidents, patriarchs and other time tested leaders. What a great place to be. If I wanted to pick the cream of the crop, they filled that room. And we were privileged to be there in their company.

Friday, November 14, 2008

FHE Two Weeks In A Row!!

We did it. We had Family Home Evening...two weeks in a row. I know how important it is to teach our kids about God and Jesus and the gospel and honesty and manners and all that stuff. It's just hard to formally sit and have a lesson, but so rewarding when we do. We are totally hit and miss with our Family Home Evening schedule but we had a lesson last Monday night and again this week. The kids love it when the grown ups can get it together enough to do it. You know the worst part? I've spent hundreds of hours pre-making lesson kits with fun, colorful games, pictures, stories, scriptures, puppets and other things. All I have to do is take about five minutes to pre-read my pre-made lesson plans and then present them. It couldn't be any easier! Ben loves to look in the FHE box and pick a lesson out, of course based on the coolest looking game, not by topic as they are organized, but oh well. Sometimes we really need a lesson on Honesty and why we shouldn't lie to mom and dad but we do the one with the turtle story (Procrastination) instead. Still they just eat it up and love that they have Brian and my undivided attention for 30 minutes to just have good, clean family fun. They haven't seemed to realize yet we're teaching them. They just enjoy the moment. This week, they picked the lesson with the Tortise and the Hare story. We had fun with the pictures and they got to hold the pictures while they acted out the story as I retold it. Ben was the turtle and Maddie was the bunny wabbit. After our song, prayer and quick lesson the kids were wildly excited. Brian had a great idea about how to get all those wiggles out before we headed up the stairs to get pajamas on and brush teeth. He had the kids do some relay races like the tortise and the hare had a race. They ran from one end of the room to the other, around chairs and back, did wheelbarrel races, horse rides and other silly things. Ben and Maddie Mae had a blast! There was so much giggling! It was so fun for them and for us.

Looking at these pictures and thinking through how easy and fun FHE was, I don't know why I don't try harder. Such little things can mean so much to the kids and nothing can replace a parent being involved in their kids lives.

Naming Madison Mae Zufelt

Madison Mae Zufelt was a really hard name for us to come up with. We talked for months with no real conclusions. We always went round and round in circles about lots of names, usually coming right back to Kaitlyn. I also really liked Emma and Eliza. Should have learned my lesson by naming Ben, but Eliza was already taken by our good friends the Arveseths here in Virginia, so I figured we could just use it on our next baby girl to give more separation between the two girls. Guess what, the Arveseths are moving in two weeks and we're broken hearted over loosing them.
Back to Madison's name. My mom had been teasing us about the name we were to pick for the baby. She kept saying it had to be Dallas or Austin or another Texas city or something else Texas since at the time we were still planning to return there within a year and it would be like betraying Texas to have a baby that wasn't a Texan. All our other kids would tease this one for not being Texan, so the best we could do was have a Texan name or something like that. By June we had decided to become permanent in Virginia in our hopes of getting an overseas, European assignment with ExxonMobil. That meant we bought a townhome in Virginia and had to drive the truck to Texas to pick up the rest of our household goods, like a formal dining room table, piano, yard tools, etc.
We had a long, 3 day, 30 hour drive to talk and laugh about names. We were 6 months along in the pregnancy and knew it was a girl, so Dallas and Austin were out. Near the end of our drive while we were in the Great State of Texas, we were getting pretty close to Houston, somewhere between Dallas and Houston when we started talking baby names again. We were laughing about all the ridiculous city names we could choose to name the baby. Silly city names like Mildred, Waco, Jewett, Leona, Waxahachie or Ennis Zufelt. Then we passed Madisonville. We both sort of stopped laughing. We sort of liked Madison and it stuck. So we had Madison but were stumped for a middle name. I believe all girls should have middle names. None of this lazy stuff that when they get married they will be able to have their maiden name become the middle name. I love southern girl names like Mary Jane and Peggy Sue. And I love it when people use both names, it's just extra cute. My Grandmother Manning is named Ellen Mae, not Ellen, it's Ellen Mae. We loved how it fit with Madison Mae and I fully intended to always call her Maddie Mae. It fit almost all my requirements for naming a girl. Long name, nickname and cute southern twist too! Perfect. Turns out I do say Maddie more than Maddie Mae like I had planned, but we still do both pretty regular and I do love how it sounds.
One day I was over at my friend Marti's house when Maddie Mae was just starting to walk. Maddie was Marti's biggest fan. She would leave me and Brian at church to go to Marti in a heartbeat. I think she preferred Marti for a while in fact. One day at Marti's house, Marti called out to Maddie and said "Maddie Mae come here." She stopped and looked at me. "Why do we call her Maddie Mae anyway?" I started laughing, "Because that's her actual name." Too funny. Marti makes up nicknames for everyone and I guess she couldn't remember why she/we had picked to call her Maddie Mae. One of the other good little friends Maggie is nicknamed Maggie Moo, so I guess Moo was already taken and we had to take Mae.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Naming Benjamin Brian Zufelt

Benjamin Brian Zufelt got his name for no more important reason than we really liked the name Benjamin. We had whittled our name list down to Nicholas and Benjamin. In the end, we chose Benjamin with one very heavy factor being that there was already a cute little Nicholas Dennison maybe 11 months older than our little guy at our church. Seemed like that would just be too confusing to have two Nicholas's. Benjamin it was and we were totally content.
Within a few short months, Nicholas moved to St. Louis. Guess it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Then another family moved into our congregation. They had a Benjamin 3 months younger than our Benjamin. So much for that plan, huh? We ended up calling them Big Ben and Little Ben. Big Ben was the younger Ben Jones who was huge and our Ben was Little Ben who dropped off the bottom of the charts for size. It was a bit amusing that they were backwards that way.
When we moved to Virginia in April/May, Ben had just turned one a few weeks before and he was finally the only one named Ben in our social circle. Then three months later a new family moved in, the Soderborgs. They were pregnant with their fourth child, but first boy. They had picked the name Benjamin years ago. So, now we have two Benjamins again and have for the last three years.
Sort of makes me laugh. I can't imagine Benjamin being Nicholas now, but we haven't met a single other Nicholas in four years.

Picking Baby Names

If anyone out there has some spare time, could you please pester Brian a bit? He knows that I have to have a plan about everything in life. Even if it changes, that's okay with me, I'll adjust. When we didn't know if we were moving to Virginia or not with 6 weeks notice, I just told him to lie to me about it. If things changed, I'd adjust but the NOT knowing was killing me! How do you plan for that? And such it is with everything in my life. I need a plan. We've always had a plan for baby names or at least discussed names for the whole nine month pregnancy. Near the end (7 months), we are down to two or three names, mostly settled on one above the others and we make the final call at the hospital. Not so this time. I've been trying to come up with the name of our baby from the beginning, like usual. Brian just hasn't cared much for the discussion this round. Sort of hard to discuss if he has no opinion. Nothing I brought up in the early months was either loved or hated. No veto declared on names, no suggestions offered, even when pressed. For months it really, really ate at me, not being able to plan. Finally I decided to just be okay with it. Put it out of my mind for a while. In the last 3 months, surely he'd be interested, right? Still no. We have 22 days left before the scheduled delivery and have never really talked seriously about names. Is that normal? With Maddie we had really fallen in love with the boy names Jacob and Joshua. I figured they would be our choices this time. I still like both, but both are on the top 10 baby names for the last seven or eight years. That hasn't stopped us before. Both Benjamin and Madison were on the top five names for their years and the few before. But Brian isn't jazzed up about them anymore. I did have a dream about it one night. I woke up suddenly and sat straight up in bed. I don't remember anything about the dream, but the baby's name was Austin. The next evening I asked casually what Brian thought about the name Austin. His only response..."Sounds pretty Texan to me." Okay. Is that good? Bad? What do you mean by that, Brian? Was it a simple statement of fact and nothing more? Ben is full blooded Texan (with the birth certificate to prove it, full size of a college diploma I might add, everything is bigger in Texas). Maddie is named after a city in Texas (Madisonville). It does keep with tradition our Texan tradition to name the baby Austin. With 22 days to go, we have yet to name this little guy. Oh well. Some kids come home from the hospital without names, right? At SOME point he's gotta start thinking about it...I hope...

Brown Santa Is On His Way

I can't remember who calls the UPS guy "Brown Santa", but that's who is on his way to our house real soon. I have been having fun with auctions on ebay, buying two 50# bags of powdered milk and ordering a new bread mixer to replace the one I broke. I'm so excited for my stuff to start arriving! I didn't realize how low we had gotten with the powdered milk. I just refilled my ice cream bucket in the kitchen and it was gone. I mean we have no milk. To most of the world, that is normal, but I haven't had to buy milk since the first year of our marriage. I grew up on powdered milk. It just tastes like skim milk to me. Seriously, most my friends say they can't actually tell a difference when they have it, though I always give fair warning before I serve it. When we got married, Brian had some pretty deeply seeded bad memories of powdered milk. Like most people that have "tried" it, they only had powdered milk prepared at the last minute so it was freshly mixed, frothy and warm. YUCK!! You have to let the frothy foam settle and chill it. Then it tastes great. Plus, the milk of today is much better than what I drank growing up. My milk shipment will take two weeks to get here. I'm kind of upset that I'll have to buy milk at the grocery store for two weeks. It's so inconvenient. It's what sends people to the store most the time and totally cramps my style. I can go almost 3 weeks without shopping if I plan well. As for the mixer that's on it's way...can you say EXCITED!! I haven't done any baking since Maddie's birthday dinner rolls killed the Kitchen Aid mixer. I did get 8 years out of it, but how do you survive without a big, bad mixer? My old Kitchen Aid was the biggest bowl, with the biggest motor and I still killed it. This time I upgraded to the Bosch. It costs pretty much the same amount but I get 800 Watts of beastly power compared to 425 Watts. Lets hope I love it, it will be a little different design I'll have to adjust to. The ebay prize is a little something for Ben and Maddie for Christmas. They will love their airport, complete with a jet plane you can put people in, a luggage carrier, airport with checkin desk, etc, etc. It's our first "big kid" toy. Ben would be willing to play with baby looking toys still, but I figured I didn't want to waste my money on something that wouldn't be cool in a year or less because he thinks it looks like a baby toy. This one is big kid approved and he's gonna love it. Maddie is included in the present because, let's face it. She's gonna steal all the parts from Ben whether he likes it or not. I can already see the writing on the wall...there will be lots of fights over the airplane. Merry Christmas

"Look At This, It's SOOO Tight"

Ben never ceases to make make laugh. His most recent comment of note made me almost fall over laughing. Heaven knows that I don't exercise and I never talk about tight muscles or my backside.
He's figured out that he can wedge his feet on one side of the door frame and his hands on the other and sort of climb the door frame. He can also feel his muscles strain when he tries to climb up. Via his preschool lessons on the body the last few weeks, we've been doing a two minute exercise routine as part of the lesson where they stretch and do jumping jacks, etc. Maddie loves to mimic the exercise on the CD as well and they have fun doing their daily two minute exercises together.
Yesterday Ben was climbing the door frame for a while, grunting and trying really hard to stay up a long time before his muscles would give out and he'd crash down to the floor. After a while, he came over to me, turned backward so his backside was facing me, flexed his rear end and pointed to it as he said, "Look at this! It's SOOOO tight, mom!!" I almost fell over laughing it was so completely unexpected. I asked how he made it so tight. He told me he had been doing his exercises and that made his muscles really strong.

Family Timeline and Eloping

Ben: "Mom, did you already get married?" Mom: "Yes, a long time ago." Ben: "Why don't I remember it?" Mom: "Because it was more than 9 years ago. How old are you?" Ben: "Four and a half." Mom: "Then it was before you were born." Ben: "Why didn't I get to come though." Mom: "Maybe you watched us get married from heaven." Ben: "Why don't I remember Aunt Alex getting married?" Mom: "Because Tio Jota and Alex got married secretly. They didn't tell anyone and just surprised us one day." Ben: "But we didn't get to go to their party." Mom: "Nope. They didn't have a party." Ben: "Why didn't they have a party?" Mom: "Because when you get married secretly, you don't get to have a regular party for your family and friends." Ben: "We should tell Alex that was kinda mean and she should invite her family to her getting married party." Mom: "Yep. Let's call them." I'm not sure why Jason escaped all "blame" in Ben's mind, but he got off the hook for not inviting us to his getting married party. It's all Alex's fault.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Beep Beep the Boxes" and "Open Your Mouth Mom"

In the process of talking to Maddie about the baby coming the other day and where the baby would sleep, sit and eat, Ben came over and interrupted our conversation. He asked me to open my mouth for a minute. Weird, but okay, I did it. He got close to my face, looked in, waved and said, "Hi baby down there!" Then he walked off.
Maddie has been so worried about where the baby would sleep lately. When we first moved her into Ben's room, she loved sharing with him. After two weeks, the fun was over and she wanted her crib in a bad way. Finally one night I put her down for the 10th time and went into "her room" to hide the crib. I disassembled the entire thing and "hid" it behind the futon in the nursery. With it out of sight and out of mind, she adjusted and everything was fine. We still couldn't get her to call the nursery anything but her room and Ben's room wasn't her room. The other day she finally referred to her room as "my room" instead of just Ben's room. She is also willing to call the nursery the "nursery" now.
Now Maddie is really concerned about where the baby will ____________ just fill in the blank. She was having a mental breakdown over where the baby would sleep the other day, so I decided she was solid enough in her big girl bed and the baby was coming soon enough that we put the crib back together. Both Ben and Maddie thought that was pretty fun. Ben helped tighten the screws, Maddie just liked climbing under the crib and looking up through the wire base before the mattress went in. Now it's their cool new cave with the dust ruffle around the edges they can really hide in there.
Everything was going okay until she realized that I had put all the basement junk that was displaced during the sump pump installation in the crib. She keeps telling me to "beep, beep the boxes, Mommy!" I tell her I would if she'd every give me enough time to go through the boxes to ditch the stuff we don't need anymore. I'm totally serious about decluttering my house and nothing goes into the basement without at least a once over. Mostly the boxes are full of clothes the kids have outgrown. I've made lots of progress though. I have a huge box to mail to Marti in Ethiopia that are too worn for us spoiled Americans but will be treasured by the street kids they meet everyday there. I filled a box and mailed it to cousins Parker and MacKenzie in Buffalo that my kids don't need. So, Maddie, I'll beep beep the boxes when I have time...which I'm soon to run out of anyway.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Reducing Power Can Save $100 Each Month

This one goes out to Heather Gillespie...yes, we're cheap. She and others were laughing the other night about how cheap I am. It's just sort of a fact of life to me. It doesn't really bother me much at all. Anyway, my girlfriends were wondering what we would do when tv went digital and we couldn't get tv anymore. We already purchased the digital converters for all our old tvs, but the signal just bleeps in and out and rolls or looses sound, etc. Ben asked the other day why grown up tv didn't do that like his kid channel. I told him it would do that when our analog tv went away and we had to use digital like his channels. Brian has even broken down to check some of the prices on cable or satellite or whatever normal people have. You know, poor people watch tv without DVR...right Heather? :) Watching one of our favorite shows last night, the analog picture was SOOOO bad with shadow remnants of other stations we could barely see what we were trying to watch. Brian finally got frusterated and went to mess with the cables. He had installed a signal amplifier in the attic and then another one right next to the tv to boost the signal enough that we could see it. Well, he took out the extra amplifier and PRESTO!!! He just reduced the power on the system and now the signal is amazing. Granted, our opinion is a bit skewed. Amazing to me is not amazing to people with HDTV I'd assume, but heck, I could watch my show. I was totally giddy with excitement. I told him in that two seconds of work he saved us $50 to $100 every month for years!! Yippee!! Power to the cheap people, baby!!!

Special Ice Cream Treat

Last night Angie went to a chocolate fondue "Girls' Night Out" at the Melting Pot Restaurant. I told Ben that since Mommy got a great treat, we should do something special. We decided to have a special ice cream treat with a variety of mix-ins: chopped up candy canes and M&Ms, cherries, chocolate and caramel syrup. Maddie became a very sticky mess and Ben loved the variety of toppings. Ben was a little concerned that Angie did not get to participate in the great experience. Tonight Ben pulled Angie and I down to his level so he could whisper into our ears without Maddie hearing. Maddie saw what was happening and stuck her head into the circle as Ben whispered to us, "After Maddie goes to sleep we should have a very special ice cream treat like last night." Maddie didn't seem to notice what Ben was saying but was happy to stick her head in. After the toy clean-up, Angie felt bad for Maddie and decided to invite her to join us. Ben was a little upset that we were letting the cat out of the bag by talking about ice cream before Maddie was in bed. I served Maddie her ice cream first and then helped Ben prepare his. After preparing and eating a bit of my own bowl, I ran off to get the camera. When I came back, Maddie had finished her bowl and was working on mine. As I approached, she responded by laughing and eating faster so my ice cream was all gone before I could get to her.

Its hard to sleep in a bed

Lately we have had a hard time getting maddie to sleep in her bed. She will climb into bed without any problems. However, after a very short time she will climb right back out. Any time she hears or sees us she immediately turns around and runs back to her bed where she lays down like nothing happened. We send her back multiple times until she finally stays. Sometimes we find her taking her naps in the middle of her floor. Tonight Maddie did not want to go to sleep. She knew that she would be in trouble if we saw her, so she did not come all the way into our room. Instead, she layed down on the floor just outside our room and watched us. We just watched her out of the corners of our eyes to see what she would do. Bit by bit her eyes grew heavy until finally they closed. She is now back in her bed slumbering somewhat peacefully.

Is your house haunted too?

At our church Halloween party, all of the kids received a great "pumpkin" balloon filled with Helium. Ben and Maddie loved the balloon and had a hard time sharing. After about a week, the balloon lost most of its helium to the point that it hovers in the middle of the air. The balloon now seems to have a mind of its own. During dinner time, the balloon floated into the dining room to check on us and then turned around and left the room. Ben thought it was hilarious. A while later we found the balloon in one of the upstairs bathrooms hovering over the toilet. We cannot imagine how it made it all the way up the stairs, down the hall, and around the corner into the Bathroom. It must have a mind of its own. We never know where it will turn up next.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

All Dressed Up With No Place To Go

Not really sure why, but today I actually used several things that do not fall into my daily repertoire. I used a blow dryer, curlers and makeup. Everyone who knows me knows how out of character that is for me. I have noticed near the end of my pregnancies as I feel less and less like myself and more and more awkward and ugly I do more things that I would never usually do. In the last five years, I've only been interested in painting my toe nails in the last three months of each pregnancy. When I got a look at our outside family photo shoot a few days ago, I was totally disgusted by what I saw. Thus, today I must be trying to compensate by dressing up a bit more than normal. Now the down side. I'm all dressed up with no place to go. Maddie is just so conjested and complaining of a hurting mouth when she "makes a noise wif a cough" and her runny nose is getting less and less clear and more and more green. Looks like all my work will go to waste since I guess I'm not going to make it to church today. Just isn't fair to the other kids in her nursery class. Turns out it'll be okay with me. Brian was teasing me about staying home anyway since I have nothing to wear. My nylons keep rolling down because my abdomen is too big, so they just end up around my knees every 30 minutes anyway. My slip is a joke too, too long if I put it below my belly, too tight around the middle and what's the point if I wear it above the baby bump, it can't do it's job. Sigh...27 days and 2 hours to go...but I'm not counting or anything... Guess I'll just go take a nap on my pretty curls.

The Light Guy

The street lights in our parking lot have been out for a while. Then our front porch light broke and our new neighbor doesn't keep his porch light on all night anymore. It's been really, really dark around lately and I finally remembered to call the power company about it. Dominion Power sent a guy out within a day to fix all the lights. Thursday night they came out. I noticed a flashing light out the window. Brian was on a work conference call for several hours and Ben wasn't feeling well and had been vomiting earlier. I figured the fresh air would do us all good, so we grabbed some blankets and lawn chairs and set up camp on the sidewalk. They had the company trucks with the bucket lift on them and the guy was working at the top of the light pole. We got to see him go up and down and around. After a while he got the first light fixed. He drove over to the light closer to our house but Ben was starting to feel sick again so we didn't get to seem them up as close as I had hoped. They ended up not being able to fix our light in the end and eventually the truck left our street. Still the kids enjoyed what they got to watch. Saturday night Brian noticed they were back. Brian had the kids get ready to go outside very quickly and the three of them journeyed out to the parking lot to see the work in progress. When the man saw them, he stated that he would be out of the way very quickly. Brian responded that they were there to see the show. The man quickly finished fixing the light and then decided to give a real show. He started showing Ben and Maddie how the bucket could move up, but quickly bumped into the tree branches just above his head. He then lowered the bucket just enough to turn it away from the trees and then the real show started. When I came out the door, the bucket was fully extended and he was several stories high. He looked like he was in some sort of carnival ride--the bucket went up and down several times while making a few turns. Ben was impressed by how high the man could go and asked how the bucket was controlled. Maddie enjoyed the show a little bit, but didn't seem to understand how high the man had gone. Brian and I watched the truck lurch side to side each time the bucket made a sudden movement and were amazed that the truck didn't tip over on its side. Finally the man lowered the bucket and parked it on the truck. He turned the light on, shook hands with the kids and then drove away.

Change in Social Status

We have always been cool, right? I'm not so sure we are anymore. At least we used to be the social people around, having people over all the time, dinner parties, game nights, etc. It was so much fun. There was a point Ben would be disappointed if he would ask "Who is coming to dinner tonight?" and we didn't have anyone lined up for the evening. Two weeks ago we called a few of the fun young couples at church to invite them to dinner and to hang out. None of them could come. I'm sure they already had plans with each other or something fun like that, since every one of them told us they "already had dinner plans" for that night. Hummm... I'm sure it's not that we aren't cool. It just made me realize how our lives have changed. Now with two kids and number three just a month away, I'm too tired to have parties all the time, besides they have to be over by 8:30 anyway so the kids can go to bed. No party is much fun after 9pm when the kids self destruct anyway. I guess we have officially moved into the next phase of family life. Welcome to early middle age-ness... I guess I just didn't see it coming, that's all.

Busy Day

I'm sure glad we had a dead day planned today because otherwise we couldn't have done all that we ended up doing. Everyone should have a day with nothing scheduled once in a while. Brian is helping some great friends rent their home while they are away (and hopefully coming back in a few years). Last night we put out "For Rent" signs on the main roads around the area. I'm not kidding, within 15 minutes of returning home, we had our first call. Today he's shown the place three times and taken several calls. It is so convenient to be around the corner because he can just tell them he needs 10 minutes and run out the door. He did get one call while we were at the lake with the kids throwing rocks in the water. He told them he needed about 10 minutes...so he was a few minutes late. I think he forgot we had to walk home from the boat dock with two little people with short legs and then he could jump in the car and go over. In any case, it worked out. Ben was a trooper and walked fast, even if we did have to trick him a few times to keep moving. I'd tell him to listen to the crunch, crunch noise it made when we walked through the leaf covered paths in the forest and see how the leaves flew out in front of his feet. Then we'd try to make them fly out higher and farther by walking faster. My favorite was racing to the top of the mini-mountain path to get back home. Picture a 8 month pregnant mommy, a tired four year old and a dad carrying a two year old in a backpack racing up a super steep hill with slippery leaves. No one was injured in the end and we had a lovely excursion to the lake. The weather was perfect, no jackets, gorgeous fall colors on the trees and the ground. Probably only a week or so left before all the leaves are gone and the beauty of autumn gives way to the bare trees of winter. Maybe the temperatures will stay mild again this year though.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Getting Over the "If...Then's" in Life

Do you ever find yourself living in a sort of "If this...then that..." or "When...then..." sort of view of your life. I've been struggling so hard the last few months to get out of that mode. It is not a great place to exist really. I hear myself saying in my head all the time things like: "When I finally don't have to change diapers anymore, then life will be so much easier." "When my kids can zip their own coats and put on their own socks and shoes, then we'll get places on time." "If my kids would just use their utensils and napkins, then the kitchen chairs (and the rest of the house) wouldn't be so sticky." "When I don't have to carry a diaper bag anymore, then I can actually have a purse." "If my kids could put themselves to bed, then I'd have more time to do the things I want to do at night." The list could be endless. I like to tell Brian there is a country song about everything. This one goes to Alan Jackson and his song "Remember When" about the twists and turns of life and how things change over time, especially your prespective. My favorite line has always been about "the sound of little feet" being the music you have to dance to at this stage of my life. It says 30 used to seem so old and now it's just a stepping stone in life. There is so much more to come. So how in the drudgrey of life, when I am worn down and at my wits end some days do I remember that some day... I'll miss the toys on the stairs that mean my kids are having the time of their lives using their imaginations to create and play together... I'll wish my babies would snuggle in my lap as we rocked in a dark nursery together in the silence rather than stay out late with friends and go to high school football games... I'll want to put on their shoes and socks and zip their coats as I search for ways to help my kids and wonder when it was that they stopped needing me...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pumpkin Carving Deprivation

Did you know Brian never carved a pumpkin growing up? So goes his story. My heart breaks for him. It's almost a case of neglect coming from my view point. Can you be a real kid if you miss out on this part of Halloween? His mom actually used the pumpkins and didn't want them to rot on the front porch like ours did. They get all nasty and the face starts to fall in and the kids want to keep them because they are precious. Finally you have to just chuck them in the trash when no one is looking because the flies are just too much to stomach anymore.
Weird. I actually didn't know until I was a teenager that you could USE a pumpkin to eat. We didn't even roast the seeds because we didn't like to eat them. I truly thought they were strictly for carving. Brian got to draw on his pumpkin every year with markers so they could cook them. Weird...
Don't worry, except that he was in Europe this year and missed the big carving day at our house for 2008, I think we've carved pumpkins every year since we started dating in 1998. He's pretty darn good at it too, especially since he sort of entered the arena as the underdog, you know, since he had no real experience.

Preschool - Learning About the Body & A Photo Shoot Ruined!

Today for preschool we continued our unit on the Body. I took the kids to the library and got about 15 books with stories and pictures about the body. Some were cute, some had real pictures of bones, some talked about what fun things our bodies could do, some were silly poems. They were a hit. One book in particular I had was about bones. It had realistic drawings of skeletons, an actual picture of a skull with teeth and a vertebrae, x-rays of the pelvis and ribs. The kids were totally enthralled. For a good 15 minutes I had them hooked. We felt our own bones and each others, they liked the bumps on the back of each others spine, find their own hip bones and tried to count their own ribs. Glad they were all just 4 and 5 years old, because they all just pulled up their shirts to feel their ribs, boys and girls alike. I decided it was best to let it go rather than address modesty at that moment in time. I was also glad I could claim a pregnant belly and that my baby was hiding my ribs so I didn't have to share. Cute kids. We started the day with free play time outside where they could use their bodies to run and kick balls, twirl in circles, rake leaves and jump in the pile, feel the cool breeze on their skin and a few light sprinkles of rain on their skin. The colors were gorgeous and I had a great idea at the spur of the moment. Later in the lesson I had some pictures to compare their eyes to a camera. Instead of showing boring pictures, I'd grab our camera and take great pictures in the autumn leaves of the kids playing! Then throw the memory card into the laptop and they could get a slide show of themselves as the pictures as we talked about which was better, a camera or their eyes. Brilliant!! I got the camera and went to town taking tons of fun pictures, 109 to be exact. I was so excited and so were they. When we got to the slide show part of the lesson, I popped in the memory card and well, we had a really good lesson. Most the pictures were blurry, unfocused and it was hard to make out a good image on the faces. Last night we did a family photo shoot in the overcast, just before dusk hours in the leaves and Brian had adjusted the settings on the camera. I just expected it to be in auto mode and never checked. I'm so sad. The pictures could have been amazing! I have a few, but not that many great ones. Oh well. That will teach me to point and shoot without checking how the pictures are coming out.
One other funny thing...we played the game "I spy with my little eye" and everyone got a turn to be the clue giver. The hardest one took us a while. The starting clue was that it was bright. Okay, so we guess the lamps, any and everything shiny in the living room, the brightness on the ceiling, and everything else you could come up with. Hugh finally gave in that it was the light coming out of the lamp. Can you do that? I can't actually see light, I learned this in physics class, you can only observe it's results or something like that. I do remember there is no real light, just an absence of dark. So, I guess Hugh won the game. His was definitely the hardest to guess...an untouchable phenomena

Lady Spoon

Maddie threw a total fit today because I got her the wrong spoon from the drawer to eat her yogurt with at lunch. She demanded the right kind and finally I told her to go show me or get it herself. She screamed as she drug a chair from the table to the drawer and climbed up. When she got the "right" spoon, she showed me and told me it was "A Lady Spoon." Sorry. I didn't know we were being fancy at lunch today. Next time I'll get out the china to go with your purple plastic baby spoon.

I Voted. Did You?

What a great voting day. Either way you vote in the presidential election, history will be made. Either a woman with be VP or a black man will be president. I am not black, but I recognize what this means. I really think people need to take the initiative and make something of themselves, not claim society held them down as a lame excuse. Obama will hopefully prove that people are beyond racism like we saw in the past. Our country is mostly beyond it and I do tire of hearing excuses. There are still idiots out there, like the skin head men who had planned to assassinate him. Extra diligence will be required to protect him since he is the first to break through this barrier, it will inevitably draw out the freaks and the racist weirdos.
Hopefully though, it will prove, once and for all, that a person of minority status can do whatever he wants to do if they have the backbone to do it. All through the primaries he has been referred to as black. If "black people" don't embrace him after his election like they did before it and ultimately begin to say, "well, he's only half black, so it doesn't count" at any point, I think I may vomit. It will prove that they want to forever exist in the screwed up victim mentality. I do, however, hope that his victory can heal our country and unite all races as has never been seen before. That all people will begin to view themselves as equal to another human being. What a great thing that will be for us all.
Politics at our house...and Ben
Tuesday Nov 4:
We had some friends, the Hyatts, move into the house next door to the school where we vote and the school district gave the kids the day off school. Ben begs to have playdates with the Hyatt boys, so I called up Jana and asked if we could come play on voting day and do a childcare swap while we went to vote. Turns out her husband took the day off work so she didn't need my help, but we went anyway and my kids had a ball playing in an outside fort in the backyard while I went to vote. I totally expected it to be a long process, especially when I showed up and the line was so long it was out the door into the crisp fall weather. To my surprise, the line just whipped right along and I was in and out in under 10 minutes. It did help that we only had 4 things to vote on.
When I came back to the Hyatts, Ben was surprised that I was so fast. He asked who I wrote down that I wanted to be the boss of the Estados Unidos. I told him I voted for John McCain. He looked sad. I asked him who he would have voted for, in his totally well informed four year old logical mind. He said he would vote for Bumack Uhbahma. He just likes the way his name sounds. He asked why I chose John McCain. In my poor attempt to explain politics to a four year old, I explained two quick issues...taxes and abortion.
Abortion - When a mommy has a baby in her tummy like I do right now, John McCain thinks the mommy should keep the baby inside until it's ready to come out. Then if the mommy chooses she doesn't want to be a mommy, she can give the baby to a family that wants to have a baby. Barack Obama thinks it is okay to let the baby die inside the mommy if the mommy doesn't want to keep the baby. No problem. Made sense to him, though he was a little disturbed that someone would let a baby die.
Taxes - Some people work really hard at their jobs to get money to buy their groceries, pay for their house, buy toys and treats and things like that. Some people are lazy and don't want to work. John McCain will let us keep more of our money in our family. Barack Obama wants to take too much of our money and give it to people that don't want to work. Seemed fair and logical to Ben as well. I don't really know that McCain's tax plan would lower my taxes, but I'd more closely approve of how it was spent...if you can really approve of how they spend our money...hello ba-jillion dollars in debt!!
Wednesday Nov 5:
Ben wakes up and we tell him that Barack Obama won and he gets to be the boss of the United States. He seems pleased. Later, at lunch, Ben appears really disturbed by something. Finally, he asks me, "Mom, why didn't Barack Obama come and take all our money away yet?" Okay, not at all what I had explained to him. Poor kid thought Barack was going to come knock on our door and take all our money. We had a talk about how it wouldn't happen exactly like that. It would be more like he send a bill to our house and we pay the money that way. Plus, I explained that we do believe in helping people that are having a hard time and that even if John McCain had won, we would have paid some of our money, just not as much to the lazy people. Ugh. It's hard to simplify issues to such a ridiculous extent.
Thursday Nov 6:
Ben asks what Barack Obama is doing since he's in charge now. I explain that he got the new job, but it will take a little while for him to be ready to go to work. We looked at the map and I showed him that he lives in a different state right now and he has kids and they have a house so they have to take a few days and pack their house and maybe sell it our rent it like we do with our house in Houston, then he'll have to find a new school for his kids to go to here in Washington, DC, etc, etc. Barack Obama will come be the boss after Christmas.
We'll see what tomorrow brings as far as questions...