Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Zufelt Family Feb 2015

Monday, August 31, 2009

Momma Does the Happy Dance

School starts in seven days. Seven days, people. I still had no word on AM or PM kindergarten, but we were told not to call until today, so I waited patiently, week after week for something to arrive in the mail. Nothing came. Today I called and was elated to find out that Benjamin has AM Kindergarten. YIPPEEEE!!! Biggest bonus for that schedule over the afternoon is that Daddy has bus stop duty. I already have to hike up that nasty hill every single day this school year to pick him up, that was a given whether we got mornings or afternoons. I was just dreading the thought of afternoon kindergarten. It meant cramming all my errands into the morning (because naptime will dominate our afternoons), dashing back to the house to shove lunch down the poor kids throat, sprinting back up the monster hill pushing a double stroller with grouchy kids and trying to catch the afternoon bus.

Cakewrecks Star!

I submitted a bunch of Bill's cakes to www.cakewrecks.blogspot.com and they posted one this week. See here! His work is totally amazing. Even more impressive, he only started decorating in January and he made this one less than two months later. He's incredible. Cakewrecks is a hilarous blog that posts professional (term used loosely) cakes for real bakeries. Some of the stuff there is so unbelieveably stupid, I crack up reading it. Sunday they have a Sunday Sweets post of actual good cakes from amazing decorators like Bill. I am a devoted Wreckie. In fact, the blog writer is doing a book tour and has a showing here in the DC area on my birthday, October 6. Guess what I want to do for my birthday? Wreck On!

Brain Dead Moments

I wrote this down for Catherine's Brain Dead Moments on her site and decided since it was written, I ought to post it here too. We lived in an apartment that overlooked the interstate and a bridge that lead to the school bus parking lot in Fairfax. Ben was about 18 months and would go absolutely CRAZY everytime he saw a bus. We'd make a huge deal in the car as we drove around and saw one, yelling, pointing and screaming "BUS!! BUS!!" One day I dropped him at a Gretel Patches house for a little me time. I saw a bus on my errands and went wild, crazy over the school bus. When I didn't hear a thing from the back seat I tried to engage him while I dutifully watched the road in front of me. Tempting him with, "Ben...what do you see? Beeeennnnn...I see a big bus. What color is it?" Etc, etc, etc, on and on. When he still didn't respond, I glanced back to see if he had dozed off only to see the carseat was empty and I started freaking out not knowing where he was and pulled over to think. When it hit me that he was playing with his little friend, I felt like an idiot.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What Daddys Do

Today we were prompting Ben to memorize his part in the Primary program at church in October. It's a whopping two sentences. Not a big deal, but he's making it one. "Fathers are to preside over their families in love. Mothers are to nurture the children." Brian asked, "Hey Ben, what do fathers do?" Maddie interjected, "They 'posed to CLEAN THE KITCHEN!!!!!" Yes. Thank you Maddie. Get to work Brian.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wrong Side of the Fence Bucko

When the Zufelts put up gates we try to make things as safe as possible while still making things accessible to the little people as much as we can. That means we got a gate with a handle Maddie and Ben can work so long as it isn't in the locked position. We just push it down far enough to make it snug. Works for a while, but the glory days of that system are now over. This is what I saw this week as I sat at the kitchen table and watched Jacob play at the gate. He was totally elated. I could only think, "Dang." Now we're gonna have to shut it tight enough that Maddie Mae can no longer open it on her own. It will seriously restrict her movement about the house, which in turn obligates me to help her all the time. I know we taught Maddie stairs super early, but in watchin Jacob, he isn't quite ready yet. Soon. I'm crossing my fingers.

I Think That Used to Be My Bicep

I went shopping with a fun (and classy I might add) girlfriend the other night. Cori is the best bargain shopper and can assemble a killer outfit with the simplest stuff. She has an eye for deals and never (almost) shops anywhere but the thrift store, buy you would NEVER know it to look at her. So we had some fun on Thursday night at Unique Thrift and I came away with three (or twenty) new outfits depending on how you mix and match them. Totally happy with that, and the most expensive thing was $3.75! I'd post pics of my cute duds, but I'm the picture taker in the family, so just imagine for me. Now the depressing part. I'm at my lowest weight since high school. I call it my happy weight. Then why do I not fit in a smaller pant size? I know. Because I've been pregnant three times and stretched and cut and all that jazz. But if I'm the same weight, why can't I wear the same size?? Ugh. I'm a science gal. I know the principles of physics. I believe in conservation of mass. If I weight the same, then while it's all there somewhere, there shouldn't be any extra. So what then, I ask, is the difference? I think what was my massive bicep and calf muscles can now be found located around my waist and backside. Maddie supports that theory. Wednesday night she was in trouble and totally wild, crazy in a tantrum. She was sent to her room and lost desert priviledges for the night. When she cooled off, I went up to snuggle with her and talk as we rocked in the rocking chair. (You know, after you correct them, show an extra measure of love or whatever that scripture is.) I was slouched a bit and she was all curled up on my lap, head nuzzled into my shoulder looking down at her lap. Right in the middle of our loving gentle talk, she sits straight up, points to my spare tire stomach and says with smile and genuine excitement, "Mommy, you're next baby is getting ready to come!" Maybe I should have explained my conservation of mass theory to her and told her it was just my bicep that had relocated itself. I settled with telling her, "A baby wasn't coming today." Seemed to satisfy her for now.

Vien Inc.

Ben: "Mom, why do they call them vienna sausages?" Mom: "I don't know. I've wondered that myself." Ben: "Oh. I think it's because of Vien. It must be the name of the company that makes vienna sausages. 'Cause, ya know, there is a company that makes everything." We went to the fountain today to let the kids run and play in the water. They had fun, though Claire did not. This what I overheard while I was typing this blog post from Brian and Ben at the kitchen table. Ben: "Hey Dad. Want to know how many bad things I did to the fountain?" Brian: "Okay." Ben: "Kick, hit, punch, slap, whack, hit."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Coupon Crazy - Report

I tried the whole bargain grocery shopping, clip and sort coupon thing a while back. Even signed up for the service via The Grocery Game website. They delivered me pretty little lists to customize with a click-click-click and away we went. The reality was, it was to tedious. After a while, I quit. The system work. It really did. It cost me $1.25 a week for the info and I saved WAY more than that in a single trip by planning my trips to stock up on things and maximize my dollar. Problem was, I didn't do it. I printed list after list after list. Then I recycled expired list after expired list after expired list. It was totally frustrating. Mostly it was that I couldn't drag myself to the grocery store with three kids in tow. That alone was (is) overwhelming to me right now. In retrospect, it was a dumb time to start a new fancy system. I've had some time off and learned some things. I'm ready to go at it again. Things I know now that will help:
  • All those darn lists are online on blogs like The Grocery Girls website and others and they are FREE! **$1.25 each week saved and lots more store lists available than two**
  • I clipped and sorted coupons, making me guess what coupons I might, possibly, maybe at sometime in my future life want to use. Then sort them into categories so I can find them. Then clean out the coupon sorting box and carry it with me everywhere I go so I won't forget it when I need it. Now I will file them by month and only cut things I want to go use that day. **Think of the time and mess I'll save!! Also, more room in the diaper bag without the coupon box**
  • Get multiple copies of coupons to really get a MEGA bang for your buck. I don't get the paper, but I do live in a townhouse with neighbors super close and we all put our recycling out every Tuesday morning. The recycling truck comes in the afternoon, so I can get unlimited numbers of coupons from the Sunday paper (though only 4 sets are sitting at my front door). **If I love Oscar Mayer hot dogs and they go on sale, why just have one coupon at the ready? Think of it this way: Sale Price + Coupon x Lots of Hot Dogs = Happy Angie with loads of cheap hot dogs in the freezer**
So....my first coupon shopping trip was tonight to Target. Here are the stats: Spent $29.57 Saved $20.46 Should have taken one of those fancy pics lining everything up in big fancy piles, but heck, I'm tired and it's bedtime. Maybe next time. Brian was teasing me, saying "Great! Now you spent $29.57 on stuff we don't need, would never have purchased and don't want. But, hey, you saved $20!" Hahaha. We did get cookies I might not have paid for if it wasn't so cheap but I do buy them on occasion and the only thing I would NEVER have bought was the juice from the fridge section. I'm a frozen concentrate sort of gal. Turns out my Target is just too small, plus my prices were almost always $0.05 more than the deal websites, but that's not bad. I do live in the metro DC area and everything is super expensive here. About half the things I tried to buy were out of stock or they didn't carry. Stay tuned to see if I stick with it or cave again. Life is about to change. Ben starts school in 1 1/2 weeks and Maddie starts preschool the week after that. Craziness!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Water Beads

Just check out that water beading on the freshly stained deck! Thanks Super Brian.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mary Poppins on a Bike

Two weekends ago we got Ben's back to school shopping taken care of. In thinking later after our shopping trip, I realized if I have to hike up and wait for the bus every day, we're going to need umbrellas the kids can handle, so I promised Ben we could go get a super cool character umbrella before school. Turns out that was the only thing the poor boy could think about so on Tuesday I relented. We made an outing of it. Ben got a Thomas the Train umbrella and Maddie got Disney Princesses.
They were elated with their purchases and it was the only thing they ever wanted to play with. All last week they played and played and played. Of course there was no rain. We had to make rain with sprinklers and by spraying the hose up in the air, but Ben would say in a terribly forelorn voice, "I wish it would just rain today." With no rain in the daily forecast, they got more and more wild until last Saturday Brian had to intervene one two many times when they accidentally whacked each other in the face or poked eyes or beat them onto the ground. He told them if they weren't careful with them they wouldn't have umbrellas when school started. I made the mean mommy declaration. "Umbrellas are for rain. It isn't raining. After lunch, we'll put the umbrellas away unless it is raining outside."
It was cute while it lasted though. Our favorite photo op was this one of Ben. Doesn't he remind you of Mary Poppins? Sunday best clothes, flip flops, helmet, bike and, of course, an umbrella.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Super Spy x2

This is the castle. Not to be mistaken for a fort. I keep getting in trouble with Ben and Maddie for calling it a fort. The castle takes a long time to build and even more time to maintain. They take all the pillows from the basement, blankets from all three floors of the house, every stuffed animal no matter how small it is from their room upstairs. Then they move all the party table chairs to surround the coffee table. Finally, they pile everything up as high vertically as they can get it to balance. After all that hard work, they commence spying. Spy #1 and Spy #2 have spent a fair amount of this week planning how they will spy on me. They request that I go into this room or that and work so they can spy without being seen. Once I comply, they hide for about 30 seconds, they are so excited about being hidden, that they tell me where they are (like I couldn't hear them 3 feet away in little kid loud whispers and giggles planning their big reveal). I pretend not to be able to find them and they describe again where they are until I am surprised to discover them and they are thrilled that their big joke worked again.
Their favorite place to spy from is the castle of course. They remind me of that game Whack-a-Mole when they do it. Their giddy excitement means they just can't stay down long and it's only about 12 inches deep anyway. They pop up and down and up and down alternately. Cracks me up watching--I mean not watching of course.

Adios Pam. We love you.

We had Chilean night the other day. When Pam moved, we got her fridge leftovers which included authentic Chilean empanadas and filo dough. I called Pam the other day to chat and find out how to actually make the empanadas. She recommended not trying my first attempt with the hard to work with filo, but after searching the fridge for other options and looking at the clock that read 5:30 pm and considering my children who kept asking for snacks, I just went for it. Now I'm sure they could have been prettier, but they weren't half bad for a beginner. Besides, they tasted great! Thanks Pam. We'll miss you!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Halloween is Just Around the Corner

I've been working on our Halloween costumes the last few days. Gathering and painting and easy stuff like that. Typically I work until we are late to the church party every single year then I safety pin the last details together because I didn't finish. My mom found the one missing picture of our family Halloween photos last month and sent me a link to snapfish.com. I'm sad I can't find the original high quality one, but this will have to do. It was the fall of 2004, before we had Ben.
Usually I like to do something new each year, but decided it was time to recycle the costumes since the kids are still excited about Mickey and Minnie after our trip to Disneyland in California for Jason and Alex's wedding in May. Plus, my great sis-in-law Laura sent me a cute hand-me-down dress to Maddie in red with white polka dots last winter. Great timing! It would probably fit a 7 year old, but I turned it under and hemmed it in a temporary way so I can take it out later when Maddie gets bigger.
During our umbrella buying trip for the kids a week ago, I scoured the clearance racks for the goods I'd need to finish out the kids outfits. For Ben we got a pair of nice red shorts and Laura had also sent a black turtleneck in his current size. Just need black pants. Maddie has the awesome polka dot dress so we just had to pick up a pair of black tights. Jacob will be sporting a black long sleeve shirt and a pair of 0-3 month Santa Clause long pants. They were a buck since they had been lost from their matching top. The waist is just right for him, so the long pants become shorts since he's almost 9 months. Just have to take off the white fuzzy Santa trim on the bottom and find Maddie's old black baby stretch pants.
Today I painted the buttons for the boys Mickey pants. Just drill out the holes and sew them on! We're almost there. Maybe if I can find some, I'll pick up white gloves for Brian and I. The kids have claimed the monster hands and shoes we used last time. Hmmm....I have red dress shoes from my Dorothy costume last year. They'll be perfect for Minnie! I love creating these costumes!
Only big thing left is the mouse ears. We've got three, need five. The hunt begins... I think we'll be on time to the church party this year for the first time ever!!
The pictures are from the store the kids set up today to sell hands and feet to Brian and I while they played dress up with all the stuff.

How Do Your Pie-wats Sleep?

I have been wondering recently, "What do pirates do with their eye patch when they sleep at night? Do they take the patch off and let their bad eye air out for the night? Do they just keep their bad eye covered 24-7?" Well, Maddie has recently answered that question for me. So, how does your pie-wat sleep?
This is how mine does.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

That's a Familiar Sound

This morning Jacob awoke me for his morning feeding around 5 or 5:30 am. We made quick work of the meal and I tossed him right back in bed, happy tummy, tired baby. What seemed like a short while later I heard him begin to stir. It was between 6:30 and 7 am and I was NOT ready to get up. He babbled and wiggled and whimpered a tiny bit, you know, just enough that I couldn't go back to sleep because I was just laying there waiting for him to cry. Then I heard a noise that brought both dread and a soft smile to my face at the same time. Kerplunk. Kerplunk. Kerplunk. His crib is usually filled with binkies so no matter where he rolls they are at the ready to sooth him so I don't have too. I like to have three, but as life with an infant operates in a constant state of flux and binkies travel round and round the house, I've counted as many as seven at once. The familiar kerplunk sound he made this morning I haven't heard in over a year, probably two, but to me it's unmistakable. Kerplunk. Binkie overboard. One by one he threw three binkies out of the crib. Then a happy squeal. Next I heard a rattle jump ship followed by another giggly squeal. He's discovering just what his little body can do. His delightful, chubby hands are now his willing servants. No longer wild useless appendages. Finally by 7 am he started to cry and I drug myself in to play with him and have some "quality" time with my eight month old baby. You know the kind of quality time I'm talking about. The groggy, sleepy-eyed, use my body as a jungle gym while I sleep here on the floor kind of quality time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mr. Infomercial Has a Major Breakthrough

Ben has always been a walking advertisement for any and everything he sees on television that he can buy. If they say he needs it, he needs it. I'm constantly telling him that he doesn't really need the snuggie blanket or bendaroos or spacesaver bags. Today he saw another commercial and commented to me, "They are just trying to fill up our house with too much stuff." Yes!! We've made progress at least. The ironic part was that the commercial he was specifically refering to was a life insurance commercial. I'm not sure that takes much room, but whatever.

Essential Parenting Tools

I love my CribShield. It's like mesh attached with Velcro on all four sides of the crib and I consider it an essential part of my childrearing experience. It is designed so they can't stick their little legs through the crib slats. Little people are always sticking appendages out the slats and then they turn once the leg is out and get their knobby knees stuck so they can't pull them back out. Then, they scream and scream and scream until I come in and rescue them. Without a video monitor, I can't tell if they are stuck or just don't want to sleep. The problem about drove me insane with Ben, but his room had a second door to a bathroom that connected to the hallway so I could peak in on him and assess the situation without him knowing I was there. I about lost my mind with Maddie since I didn't have any secret observation options. It was time to sleep train her so I could finally sleep through the night, but it wasn't working. She was always getting her legs caught. Things were getting rough and I was about out of patience when Brian had a two week trip. He left and I had a total emotional breakdown. Both kids were being little devil children and there was NO break. In desperation, in the middle of the night I started an internet search for something to save me. I found salvation that night. (Of course, being cheap as I am, I sent back to sleep and then spent the next morning hovering over the computer finding the best deal online and had it shipped to me (via Wal-Mart site-to-store). The day I picked it up was like Christmas I tell you, Christmas! I ripped the box apart and had it velcroed in place lightening fast and just wanted everyone in the house to take a nap right then. I had to wait until bedtime of course, but still, that was the first night Maddie slept through the night. Beautiful.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Irony or Big Brother?

So I hit publish on my kids t-shirt post and guess what ad popped up on the admin page of the blog..."Customize your own t-shirts for you and your friends"...Proof positive were being watched (and phished at) with everything we do...

Kids New T-shirts

If my three kids had t-shirts designed by me, this is what they'd get: Ben - picture of a glass half empty, caption: "And loosing water quickly" He is my Mr. Negativity. If it could possibly go wrong, he's worried it will. He's sure the sky is falling on a daily basis and cannot be persuaded that everything will be okay. Maddie Mae - pink shirt, with pink ruffles or ribbons or flowers or something fancy, probably long enough she could wear it as a dress too, caption: "Pink, Pink, PINK!!! I eat pink, sleep pink, dream pink." Remember that Bachelor/ette tv show where the couple actually got married and they made a show out of the wedding planning and paid for everything wild and extravagant? Ryan and Tristen or something like that? Maddie is as obsessed with pink as that girl was. Jacob - A big "DANGER" sign like you see on stickers on anything new you buy to tell you not to do stupid things like cut an electrical cord with scissors while plugged in, caption: "Danger: this object can contort itself into any shape or size, scale large heights and find any miscellaneous choking hazard left within 200 yards in 3 seconds or less"

Dental Question Resolved

Thank you Stephanie. She asked her dentist and he said to floss then brush. VICTORY!! That's what I do. Makes sense to me I guess. The poll, however says otherwise, as does my husband. The numbers held at 14 to 3 or something decisive like that for days and days, then a bunch of cool people voted and when the poll closed it was 16 to 8. I will conceed that in my entire life of dental visits, I don't remember a single time the dentist (ie hygentist, we know who does the real work) flossed before they brushed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Learning to Let Go

No. It isn't me that is learning to let go. It's Jacob. He gets this silly, excited grin all the time these days and pulls up on something and looks at me with anticipation. This guy is ready to walk and is letting go and balancing all the time. He is eight and a half months old. My memory isn't quite good enough to recall exactly when the other two kids walked, but I know it was in their eighth months. I suppose that means for a Zufelt kid, he's right on schedule. I was kind of hoping he'd be a little slower. When he came out all fat and 75 percentile chubby instead of 5th percentile bony, I thought for sure he'd take his sweet time at crawling and walking. No such luck.
Yesterday he took his first step, though I don't think I'm going to count it as "the one" yet. It wasn't exactly planned or anything, he just turned and took off not realizing he wasn't holding onto something. More of a mistake than an attempt to walk. Of course, he crashed and burned. The real one is just around the corner though. He has spent a fair amount of time today holding onto things with one hand rocking back and forth and thinking about walking.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dental Question

Brian and I had a debate tonight. We are in disagreement. Give us your vote on the poll to the top right.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Online Bankers and their Magic Checks

Here is the edited message I got when I clicked to see what happened to a payment we needed sent out last week. "Payment check # xxx was sent to Mr. X on 08/11/2009 and delivered on 08/10/2009. Funds were withdrawn from your checking account on 08/12/2009." Interesting. The check was supposed to go out on the 5th. I didn't realize I could request a magic check. The bank claims to have mailed it on the 11th but that it was delivered the 10th, the day before it was sent. Of course since that left me scratching my head, I'm glad they have allowed me the courtesy two days to figure out magic checks before they actually withdraw the funds today, the 12th (which they haven't done). Never mind the check hasn't been cashed yet by the recipient so I'm not sure where the withdrawn funds went to. In fact, Mr. X let us know he hasn't seen a check yet at all, magic or otherwise. This all started last week on the 5th when I had a phone conversation with Brian. I wasn't home near the checkbook at the time and he was at his computer. We needed to send a check to Mr. X and I said I'd get it in the mail when I got home. Brian is a huge fan of online banking and said he would take care of it. He would just submit a request to the minions at the bank to mail it out ASAP. I like online banking well enough, but this bill pay stuff can be a hassle sometimes. So after six days, what did we do? Brian wrote a paper check to Mr. X as we discussed what ever happened to the magic check. Sigh.

Honey. I Lied.

I've maintained for our entire marriage that I don't like the taste of honey. Brian loves it. I'm a 100% red jam fan. PB & J sandwiches leave a weird taste in my mouth and I don't like it drizzled over anything. Uhhh...except scones. I've wanted scones for about two years now. In Utah you can go to Sconecutters anytime. Seems like their drive through window was open like 24 hours a day. Anyway, I bet it's been ten years since I had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into a light and fluffy scone delight. A year ago last July I even bought some apple butter with the intent to make scones, but it sat in my counter for months, then in the cupboard. Then Mali left me a deep fryer. Yesterday I got a hankering for scones and now I had a way to make them myself. I found a recipe from my favorite recipe website, All Recipes.com. Ben and I mixed the dough and let it rise while Jacob and Maddie napped. Okay. While Jacob napped and Maddie went back and forth from her bed to the kitchen telling us she had finished her nap and me sending her back upstairs to try again to sleep. When the dough had risen to fill the entire mixing bowl it was time to start and we heated the oil. The kids enjoyed rolling the dough and cutting the scones out with a plastic cup. They weren't really interested in the final product. That is until they tasted it. I suppose the best way to sum it up is that we didn't have much room for dinner. So I forgot that I do love honey after all. There is nothing better than a hot scone dripping with honey. Sorry I lied to you Brian. And to the rest of you all, if Brian and I die next month, you'll know it is because our blood turned into vegetable oil. It's just too hard to resist corn dogs, french fries, scones and donuts are on the menu for next week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Assigned Seating

Do you ever get those valued few seconds to yourself where you can sit for just a quick moment and do something just for you, ya know, like pay the bills and balance the virtual check book? Those moments are infrequent and oh so precious. When you know no one will be pulling at your ankles or grabbing your arm or crying for the most critical of things to be done at that exact moment. So you grab the laptop and a mountainous pile of receipts as you dash to the table to input them into Quicken and check your online bank balance to verify that you haven't messed anything up too bad and the check for the power bill really did clear so they won't be cutting you off and letting you dine by candle light tonight. Those are precious moments in the life of a housewife.
Laptop in hand you approach the kitchen table to begin the arduous task that lay ahead. You sit down and place your tools at your easy reach. Planting your forearms on the tabletop before you, you ready to type away when..."No...that's disgusting...I just washed the whole table down two minutes ago!" you think to yourself. "Come on people. You are such slobs. Why can't you just quit making messes? I haven't got time of a table deep clean eight times a day. It's not like what I'm asking is that difficult, is it? No more chin dribble of milk off your adorable little chins with morning cereal. Stop with the drippy red juice as you scoop your maraschino cherries from the jar and chair step your way around the table to your bowls on the other side of the kitchen. Even a snack of goldfish crackers ends in a nasty wet paste of cracker-ness that you smear around happily exploring your new "finger paint" that then dries into a coating of peaks and valleys of...of...well of something that later resembles a course sandpaper to exfoliate my forearms as I work. Call a halt to all watermelon juice dripped elbows depositing their sugary sweet sticky on the chairs below. I decree a cease and desist order to all granola bars that coat the table with a faint residue of evil honey and melted chocolate chips, such order also in effect for the floor coated with a lovely layer of chunky granola mess. It's enough already."
Growing up we had assigned seating at my table. I was strategically placed at the head of the table between my mother and my father with the other three siblings at the other end of the table. While I would like to claim it was because I was the favorite, it is really because my siblings and I could not get along. Ever. Assigned seating is normal to me but to this point in my little family, we just sat anywhere we wanted.
For years now with my own family, I always strategically choose my seat at the table. Placing my plate down on prime real estate with no sticky kid remnants, or the least of said remnants. Then yesterday happened. The kids had nasty-ied all five positions at the table but one. It was bad. After Saturday night ice cream, we had hurried the kids off to bed, then rushed the morning breakfast so we wouldn't be late to church, a quick lunch after church so little people could nap had left it's mark on our poor kitchen with a pile of dishes to catch up on and a rough looking situation at the table. There was only one nice seat left and I carefully removed the chair from that spot so no one would take it, knowing I wanted to sit and check my email during afternoon naps. When everyone was settled, I walked in to find Ben at the table. In the one clean spot, having a sticky, healthy fruit snack. That, as they say, was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Kudos to him for choosing a healthy snack. Fire and lightening bolts to him for stickying my oasis of clean on the kitchen table. I asked why he had taken the time to drag a chair to the spot and sit there and no surprise he said with his body flopping, wailing and whining, I'm so picked on voice, because everywhere else was "sticky" and "nasty." Yes, I agreed. And he made them that way with the help of his lovely sidekick, Maddie. Brian was right there to back me up and I made the plunge, the big announcement.
We will now be enforcing something I've thought of for a long, long time. The Zufelts will have assigned seating at the dinner table. And the breakfast, lunch, brunch, snack time x100, craft and night time ice cream tables. All of them. No exceptions. They chose their own spots and now will be sitting there until they turn 18 or can stop spilling, whichever comes first. They have been instructed where the table wiping cloth is and they already know how to wipe up a mess if their spots become dirty between mommy washings. Gasp!! I know. Child abuse or reality check. It's a fine line sometimes and I walk it often. I'm just hoping in the long run they will be better, more independent people for the experience.
My sister and I used to harass each other with who was cleaner and scrape every single crumb that fell from our lunch sandwiches and put them on our plates in an effort to prove we hadn't dropped any crumbs and were therefore the cleanest. I dream of the day that my kids will have a competition like that.
And just as I was finishing this terribly long post, Maddie climbs up in her chair right next to me and began brushing the crumbs at her spot over into my spot. Remnants of the animal cracker snack she had twenty minutes ago. Ugh. Assigned seating may not solve all my problems after all.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dear Soderblogger

Just yesterday Brian and I were having a conversation about my blog. I'm not funny anymore. You started a blog this weekend which I'm totally excited about. To read your take on the quirky things that go on in Thailand will be hilarious. I can hardly wait for your first real post. Welcome, by the way, to our world. I'm sure you have many a posts floating through your head about weird things you've seen in the last two weeks. Anyway, I told Brian about the new "Soderblogger" and he replied that I can finally be your faithful reader like you have been mine. Then I confessed that I feared I may have lost my one and only faithful reader because I was boring now. Brian concurrs. He says I don't write about funny stuff anymore. I think I'm too depressed to think anything is funny these days. Jacob is sucking all the life out of me, no pun intended. All day everyday. My blog posts have slowly become a boring rehash of the details of my everyday drudgery of life. You know, in that annoying sort of way like when people stand in church and give a travel-log-imony instead of a testimony about Christ or a gospel principle. Zufelt Zoo is a bit reminiscent of my mood the last few months though. If you're exhausted, cranky and in demand beyond your ability to perform, you just get too tired to care to write about any of the funny stuff. The Zoo is so bland I'm not sure even I will want to read it again in fifty years. That's sad. Soderblogger, I'm sorry. I really am. Here is my pledge to you: I resolve to look for the lighter side of life again. Find the funny things and write them down. Even if it means not doing the dishes. (you've seen my house...like dishes ever kept me from blogging...yeah right) Remember, Brent, it's all to keep you, my only reader, entertained. You know I can track you now, right? I'll be watching you to make sure I get a hit from Thailand every now and then. In the interrum, until I'm up to speed again, you should check Mandy's Life posts "To the Editor". They are right up your alley and will have you rolling on the floor. And to Cath - I'll try to do more pics. Jacob willing, I'll do better.

My Life as a Rock Star

Ben just saw the Potsy pictures in the last post and asked what I wrote about. At his request he sat by my side and I started reading it to him. I wasn't more than three words in and he was giggling. By the end of the second sentence he was force laughing so hard and so loud it was flat out ridiculous. I hadn't read anything funny yet. Or maybe I didn't realize how funny I was. So goes my life as a rock star. It is hard having an adoring crowd like that. They follow my every move incredibly closely (so close that they are always underfoot getting fingers or toes squished while I cook and do dishes, little bodies knocked over when I turn around or heads whacked with the baby carrier car seat while I try to find my keys at the front door). They are everywhere I am all day every day watching me like short little paparazzi with mental cameras shoved in my face recording all my stealth or stupid moves (I always have to hide to sneak a piece of chocolate from the pantry but I'm getting better at palming things like a magician which at the very least ought to make Brian proud). I just can't seem to escape my fans (they hear that darn pantry door open every time and come running as they yell, "What are you eating?" and they enjoy talking to me through the bathroom door while I'm "alone"). Their faces light up when I enter a room (especially the tiny guy when I come to release him from the prison bars more commonly known as a crib). Yeah, life as a rock star is harder than I thought it would be when I first signed this highly lucrative deal. Only one question. When is my first paycheck supposed to arrive? It's been five years and I'm getting a little worried it might have been lost in the mail.

The Love Affair Begins Again...Oh No!

No matter if you think my kids look alike or not, if you've spent any time around us in the last four years, you will understand when I say, this first picture makes Jacob look like the spitten image of Ben below.

Jacob keeps seeking out Potsy. He gets the biggest grin on his face when he sees that Ben has abandoned him on the ground somewhere. Jacob makes a beeline to get him in an eight month old super speed crawl. In the last few inches, he lunges and falls triumphantly next to his prize. He rolls to one side, Potsy clutched in his pudgy little hand and immediately begins sucking on the doll, favoring the pom pom on his hat. Oh the memories. The heartache. The tears. The joys. Ben sucked on Potsy for probably two years before we broke him if that nasty habit. It was absolutely disgusting. It reaked to high heaven and was hard for me to touch sometimes because it was so stinky despite how many rounds he went through the washer and dryer.
Ben isn't much of a fan of sharing his beloved Potsy. He's been through seven of them if you recall our posting back in November. It makes him mad to pick up his beloved and find him wet, so I retrieved one of his old Potsy's that was in decent shape (read: one of the few unsucked versions). Now if Jacob finds Ben's Potsy on the ground (the one with the half way ripped off hat), Ben is quick to run and find Jacob's Potsy (the one with the sleeve ripped all apart at the shoulder) and switch them out. Both boys remain happy. Brian and I just can't believe it's all happening again.
I'm thinking it's time to go to Wal-Mart and buy seven more Potsys before they stop selling them. Can you believe they've been selling the exact same doll for over five years? I'm just not sure that seven will be enough this time. Ben's love affair started somewhere between 18 and 20 months. Jacob is only 8 months. How many should I get this time? Fourteen? Can you imagine the look on the check out lady when I walk up with fourteen Potsys?

Living Room Bowling

I made spaghetti last night. There was also a sale a while back at Aldi's on spaghetti sauce, but only on the tiny cans. I bought two flats of tomato sauce in tiny cans and last night used 12 cans for dinner. Today, we're bowling with them. Gotta love the pampered chef can opener that makes such a pretty, smooth cut so the cans are safe. Ben started by laying all the cans out in the triangular shape on the ground but didn't have much success. I showed him how to make a tower with them and now he and Maddie are in heaven. I watched them squeal and laugh as the tower crashed over and over. They worked well as a team and were having fun until Ben got excited. Of course, Jacob was crawling around on the ground enjoying the show. Then Ben in all his wisdom got a running start and kicked the ball with all his might straight into Jacob's face. Time out. Fun over. No more ball inside. No more kicking...wait...wasn't that a rule already?? Mom is a big fat meanie. Why do kids do stupid things? It makes my life miserable to punish him too. This afternoon we'll try it again when he gets the ball back. He wants to try animal bowling. I think it was Laura's blog where I got the idea. He's so excited.

What Do You Mean It Isn't For Me?

This week I have been dutifully going about the arduous task of rotating the kids clothes. The bigger sized come out of boxes that are hauled up from the basement and placed into their drawers. The things they have outgrown have now made a pile so large that the pile has outgrown the closet where I throw them. I sorted into three piles, one for each child. Then folded and sorted by size printed on the tags. Finally bag them and label the bags before hauling them back down three stories to the basement. Oh the exciting joys of my life are so underwhelming some days, aren't they?
In the mess that we called the living room during the process, Maddie found the newborn Santa suit the Bairds gave us when Jacob was born. She was elated and ecstatic to wear the dress up she had just discovered. I told her it was Jacob size wouldn't fit her. She was not deterred. She sat down to get it on. She got one foot, then the other and proclaimed, "See!?!?! If fits me!!!" Then she stood and found the first arm and pulled and pulled and pulled. She couldn't get it up over her shoulder. Oh well, she decided. She'd just get the other arm in. No luck. Couldn't even get her hand in the hole. Finally, she gave up trying to get it all the way on and decided what she had was good enough. She waddled over and asked for the hat. I obliged and she set off to play. That lasted all of two minutes as she discovered she could barely move her feet and couldn't use her right hand at all. Cracked me up.
As far as clothes go, I'm becoming lots less conservative about saving everything. When Maddie was born I still had every stitch of clothing Ben ever wore. Even the stuff I hated. I have this paranoid idea in my head that if Brian ever lost his job, I'd need a million old stained onesies because I wouldn't have money to by new ones.
My kids have more clothes than they need most of the time. Having an abundance is nice in that I am only pushed to finish the laundry every two weeks. Mind you I said FINISH. I do wash every week. We just have to rumage through the clean basket to find what we need. I'm sure no one else in the world has that problem, right?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Grandma's Gift

We spent so much time, money and energy remodeling our kitchen. It looks amazing. Really it does. Except that we ran our of time, money and energy before we finished. Knowing the floor should be the last thing to replace, we waited and waited and waited as all the details were taken care of one by one. Painting. Cabinets. Etc. In process we:
  • ripped the linoleum one of the zillion times when the fridge had to be pulled out
  • inherited a fridge that was three inches wider so we shifted the cabinets over making a three inch hole the entire depth of the cabin
  • burned a black hole when cutting out the old floor to put the toe boards in
Before any of this started, the floor was hard to clean because it had lost its sheen shall we say. Today I swept and mopped and got down on my hands and knees to clean this stupid floor. Check it out. This is post cleaning.

Nasty. As if I hadn't even touched it at all. It is officially impossible to clean and feels gross on my feet within a day of a serious clean. It's been making me nuts forever. Brian and I have been talking and are just about ready to do it. Grandma said she wants to help. Gotta love her.

It's Swim Season Again

Know how I can tell that it's swim season? The kids bathroom is always littered with swim suits, towels, swim diapers, socks, shirts and shorts. It is a never ending battle. I just walked into the bathroom and saw for the first time in three months the tile floor. It was beautiful. I had forgotten we had a floor in there. It made me so happy inside I thought I might want to enjoy it by sleeping in there on the floor, in which case, I suppose I might want to sprinkle some swim suits, towels, shirts, shorts, socks and swim diapers all over the floor for padding.

Play Interrupted

After my last post about Maddie's potty success, ten short hours later she pooped in her pants. I wasn't the least bit surprised. Oh well. It's a process, right? She has had lots of success when I initiate and remind. She just isn't independent yet. I have been trying to reconcile my policy for the clean up for accidents. Months ago I did the mean and nasty cold bath as a natural consequence. Now I've been kind and gently doing a clean it up yourself system. If she messes, we nicely clean it up together. She has to do most of it and she isn't much of a fan of getting poop all over her hands in the washing process. The worst thing for her is washing her underwear. So far I have kept my cool and she's been willing to comply with the requirements. We'll see if we can both be good or if I snap. I hope and pray I can be good and keep the potty training progressing with positive reinforcement and praise rather than shame and tears. Lets face it, positive is so much better than being mean. Today, though, twice, she stopped play on her own and went to the potty and announced to me that she was going to "get some pee pees." Yes!! Folks, that's a sign. She's ready. By the way, she got another candy bar today if you know what I mean! Life is good. Maybe it will be fast this time and I won't have to potty train her three times like I did with Ben.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kid Free House to Kid Proof Zone

I'm pretty sure from chatting with old timers in the neighborhood that no children have ever lived in our home. Never. Do you find that as weird as I do? The house is thirty plus years old. You'd think it would have been graced by at least one year of baby spit up, toddler toys or homework at the kitchen table. Anyway, it was a kid free home until the Zufelt Zoo moved in. This means it was set up as a kid free home, not a kid friendly one. The three stories are connected with open air stairs. You know the kind where the carpet is wrapped around a slab of wood and you can drop stuff straight through them down two stories if you aren't careful. This took countless hours to remedy when Maddie was learning to climb stairs. Brian cut a zillion pieces of custom boards to fill in each and every hole, including the triangular one open to the front door area. Before we did it, we almost lost one of the Packard kids. Luckily for us and them, we caught saw him as he was slipping his skinny little body into the hole to hang his body down one story. His big noggin just wouldn't fit through the hole, much to his chagrin. I think he totally would have jumped if he'd have gotten through (he was three years old at the time).
The stair rails are so old that my kids can go right between the vertical metal poles. I know they are 5th percentile kids, but you'd think with 90th percentile heads Ben and Maddie would be to big to fit. I can tell you why they changed the building code on stair rails. I once walked down the stairs to find Ben at 2 1/2 yrs had climbed through the rail to the open side and walked across the rail and was suspended half a story up and darn happy about his "accomplishment" while I shrieked in terror not to let go. We have wire tied baby gates and super tall dog gates to the rails and cut custom boards to fill all the holes so we don't have anyone go overboard. I can only imagine the tragedy and ambulance ride that would result. Attaching standard baby gates to the metal rails was also a feat. In the absence of a router, we borrowed a table saw and Brian ran the boards back and forth and back and forth and back and forth a million times to create a "U" shaped wood piece that could wrap around the pole and was then wire tied around the rails. Then we could drill into the wood and mount our gates. The breakfast nook has carpet under it. Nasty, nasty carpet. I'm sure it wasn't nasty before we moved in. Really. Single adult type people have always owned the house. I really believe it wasn't nasty before I moved in with my little people. But after three and a half years of spilling on that carpet under my kitchen table, I don't even want to try to clean it. It's a lost cause, really it is. Who puts carpet under a kitchen table? Someone without kids. No one else is that dumb. One thing Brian and I always knew was that our house would have to have a circle for the kids to run around. You know so you can run through the kitchen to the hall to the dining room to the living room and back to the kitchen while mom is making dinner and drive her nuts. The circle is essential to a healthy childhood. It's where we as kids went round and round and round doing all sorts of things. We played chasing games, drug our siblings on blankets trying not to whack their heads on the wall corners, rode toy horses and most importantly chased each other in wild, ferocious anger threatening to beat each other to a bloody pulp when we were fighting. All the corners of our circle have paint chips.
My Basement:

Yeah. Our house looks like kids live here now. That pristine beauty is long gone. I think back to the pictures I took of our house when we were house shopping and how amazing it was. An office and a guest room upstairs instead of two kids in one and a crib in the other room? Huge, mondo, big flat panel tv in the basement instead of all our junk and tons of toys. Another generous sized flat panel tv on the main floor with a wet bar and gorgeous furniture instead of carpet stained with carrot spit up and mud from the backyard adventures. Oh the damage we've done in the name of our children. Makes me wonder, would we have ever bought this house if it had looked then like it does now??? Hmmmm.....

The Basement Before Zufelts:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We Finally Closed!

After years of quiet thinking, then idle talk, followed by wishing without working, we moved to learning without doing and on to trying without success. We finally made some progress in our real estate business completely on our own. We closed on a house in Riverside yesterday. Sure, we've done lots of little things here and there. Some stuff has fallen in our laps and we've played along, but this one is all us. Feels good. We made upwards of twenty or thirty offers on foreclosed houses out in California. Never saw most of them but by random luck, we did actually get inside this one. We only drove past it because my brother owned the other half of the duplex like single family home. There was a sign in the yard so we went in. It was in "great" shape relatively speaking for a rental, though certainly nothing delux about the place. We put in an offer like we had done so many times before and it was eventually accepted. Dealing with the bank and a foreclosure was slow and tedious. I know I signed the same form three times, I think it was four. It all was less stressful because we went in knowing it would be slow and painful. Going in with that type of expectation made it easier to roll our eyes and comply with silly requests to negotiate around imaginary problems the bank dreamed up. Closing was delayed several times and we had to pay for some minor repairs before we owned it which we didn't like, but it wasn't a major repair so whatever. Real estate is a risk anyway, right? Just like the stock market. Now we fix it up (via email and phone calls to our highly capable property manager). Then rent it out. Yeah!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One of These Color and One of Those

This is a picture of Maddie enjoying a mini candy bar with her breakfast. I couldn't be more proud. You see, she gets a candy bar every time she poops in the potty. We have been doddling with potty training since last August. That is one solid year now. Guess how many candy bars she has earned in a year. One. Until today. I got all the kiddos set up with breakfast both at the table and in the high chair. Then I took the recycling out to the curb and rummaged through someone else's trash to grab out the coupon packets from the Sunday paper. Upon my return I was greeted with Ben hollering out of the bathroom that Maddie needed a wipe. Sure. She pees all the time. I entered the bathroom to see them sitting side by side. Ben on the big toilet, Maddie on her potty chair. She got up a little in order to show me, "Look. I got one of these color and one of those color." (poop and pee) I was elated. Success! "Great job!!!" I beamed. "Now I get my candy bar, wright, mommy?" "ABSOLUTELY!!!"

Break Out the Root Beer...Lauren's Gone!

Brian and Lauren have an interesting relationship to say the least. I think it all started over two years ago when Brian answered the door or phone and was less than enthusiastic in announcing her arrival/call. Nothing personal, he was just tired that day. After a bit of chastisement from her about not being excited to see her, Brian stepped it up a bit and it's been going on for well over a year. Whenever Lauren calls or comes by the house now, he greets her with a smile from ear to ear and a ridiciously excited and boisterously loud, "LAUREN!!!!!" Trust me, it woke the kids from their naps upstairs one time. It's loud and exuberant. Sort of makes me laugh too and I'm sure it makes her feel sooooo special.
Since the kids get along so well, they have had many a dinner at our place too. I'm not much into beverages, so Brian has had to manage his own stash since our wedding day. He always has two sodas in the fridge chilling for his enjoyment. Cold drinks are important to him. I mean very important. I even received a compliment once that made me laugh. Someone once told me that they liked eating at our house because we always had "superbly chilled beverages."
Apparently, Lauren is of the same persuasion as Brian. She enjoys a superbly chilled beverage, root beer in particular. Brian also favors his root beer (and his beverage chilling system). Since the standard stash typically includes a single root beer and one other flavor, it became an arm wrestle of sorts who got the root beer when our dear guests dined with us. Brian, being a chivalrous fellow, typically gave Lauren the root beer. When Lauren and I had lunch together, Lauren knew to ask before she partook of the coveted drink, lest Brian return home from a long hard day at the office and only could find a nasty, putrid, room temperature root beer. Between the three of us, over time, it became our little inside joke. Brian and I would laugh when she wasn't there that he was going to have to hide them from her in the vegetable drawer to make sure he had one when he wanted it or sometimes he'd ask as he restocked the fridge if Lauren would be coming over soon so he could put in extra so as not to mess up his system.
Alas, I seem to be going through friends like I did college roommates (nine roommates in a two bedroom apartment over a short 11 month period). Lauren, like most my other good friends, moved last weekend to the far away land of "Fair Oaks Ward." That's far in Mormon talk.* Very far. Heck, it's a different stake. In fact, we may never see each other again. Ever. You know what I mean. There's no hope. Another close friend, gone to the wind. In my attempts to again, look on the bright side and keep a positive attitude about my loneliness, all I have to say is, "Lauren, we'll miss you. Now break out the root beer, she's gone!"
*Mormons typically go to a congregation based on geographic boundaries, so everyone in the congregation lives close together. So, rather than "church shopping" when we move, we just find the closest congregation then your church friends end up being your neighors too. Lauren will go to another building and our paths won't cross as often as they used to when we could walk to each other's houses...but she'll only live 5 miles away. :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Thinking of You, Anthony

Hey Antonio, remember when you and Krisite shared a house with Brian and Ben and I for a year? Yeah. Those were good times. Remember when we got a movie one night and popped popcorn and ate and watched in the living room? Remember how when the bowl was basically empty, I picked through the remains and ate all the tiny buttery popcorn crumbs since no one else was going to eat anymore? Remember a while later how you aparently did the same thing? Remember how you wanted to vomit when you found out that I had eaten the popcorn and spit the unpopped kernels back into the bowl and how I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants when you realized that you ate those same kernels? I still say, "WHO EATS THE UNPOPPED KERNELS? What the heck?!?!" Yeah. Good times. You'll be happy to know that Maddie spit her unpopped kernels back into the bowl today and I unknowingly scooped up and ate at least three of those slobbery kernels. Yummy. Just thought you'd wanna know that five years later, someone got even with me on your behalf. I didn't eat them all though. Just let me know if you want me to mail them to you.

I'm Taking Up Smoking

Ever notice how smokers are the only people in the entire world that get their full break time and never ever miss that sacred break time at the office? They have a physical need that basically requires them to leave work and have a smoke. The federal government has decreed that everyone gets breaks, but not everyone takes them. Being a stay at home mom, I am not afforded such luxuries as federal mandated breaktime. I was just hoping that if I took up smoking, I would be able to abandon my children to go sit on the front porch steps for fifteen minutes every four hours and have a little time to myself. Doesn't that sound relaxing? In a coughing, hacking, stinky, gagging kind of way, it does. Of course, cigarette smoke has always given me splitting headaches, so it may not work out in the end. Plus, Brian is pretty sure the kids would just follow me outside and continue to nag me while Jacob tried to steal the cigarette. Maybe this isn't the best idea after all. A girl can dream though, can't she?

Colors Matter

The dentist today was another harrowing experience. It took the dental hygienist, Brian and I to restrain Ben while he emitted blood curdling screams and gagged on his own saliva so that the poor woman could simply brush his teeth. Brian was able to manage Maddie on his own, but still, with plenty of tears. Jacob was well mannered enough through it all, but I didn't have time to change his stinky diaper he lovingly created on the drive to the dentist so he was odoriferous. He also bit me three times while I nursed him during the lull between the hygienist and the dentist and threw up on me. I was pretty ticked and didn't want to give anyone a reward for anything after the hygienist disaster, but Brian offered the standard Burger King play land bribe to them if they could pull it together for the dentist portion of the visit. They did a fair job, nothing approaching good, but fair. In any case, we were finally able to leave and relieve everyone ears of the piercing screams to go find a prize in the prize box. While they shopped someone filled up helium balloons and brought them out for the kids. May I remind you: one girl, one boy. I realize that they can't always give out pink to every girl and blue to every boy. Guess what they brought out? One green balloon with a blue string. One PINK balloon with a BLUE string. UUUUGGGHHH!! I think she was subconsciously trying to get back at us for my rotten kids. Fights all around our house this afternoon about who gets which balloon and which string. NOTICE TO ALL DENTAL OFFICE EMPLOYEES: Colors Matter. Either go all generic or all girl/boy. The upside? No cavities. Just a warning that we need to floss. Yeah. You saw how great we do with teeth stuff. You come floss for me every night.