Archive for family

GiveawayS – Chocolate, Scarves, Games & more

Happy Saturday, have a couple great giveaways to share.

First, head on over to New Age Mama.  I haven’t been able to stop by and not enter one of her contests!

Here are just a couple of the ones I’ve entered:

Singing Scarves

A chance to win this gorgeous Lily Scarf.

click for your chance to win this gorgeous lily scarf

Chocolate Nation

I want this.  Okay, I’d give it to someone I love, but I’d eat this little dino up for grabs in less than the time it takes me to get it out of the wrapper.

click the picture to win this delicious little dino

Trivial Pursuit Steal

This looks pretty neat – like Trivial Pursuit but easier (to play with the kids) and faster.

click the picture to enter the contest

Lazy Lizards Yoga

Click the picture for a shot at winning the Lazy Lizards Yoga mat and instructional DVD for kids

click to enter the contest

Izzie & Friends

These dresses are just too cute, especially the Batik collection.  You pick the size, the company picks the outfit.

click to enter to win a cute dress like this!

and finally (I think)

Scare Me Nots

how cute are these freaky little animals?  I might want one for myself, and Alyssa whispered in my ear, “I’d really like one of those, no, really”.

click to enter

While you’re over at New Age Mama, make sure you subscribe to her blog, or like her on Facebook so you can get the new giveaways when they first come out.  Enjoy!


how i spent this friday

The man who lives across the street is a good friend.  He’s like a surrogate grandfather to my daughters.  He’s always looking out for the girls and I.  He’s not exactly elderly, but he’s no spring chicken, either.  He works nights and that’s a rough schedule for the youngest of men, let alone someone his age.  A month or so ago he had some branches cut back on a tree and for some reason the guys who cut them down left the limbs behind.    My neighbor got a good start on getting them chopped to workable pieces but work and life called him away.  Plus, it was nasty hot.  So one day when I knew he’d be sleeping I snuck into his yard and got to work cleaning up some of the debris.  I got most of it finished.  This morning I finished off the rest.

His daughter and grandkids are coming to visit…”some time in October”.   He really wants to get his basement picked up so they’ll have somewhere to sleep and hangout.  I told him I’d help him, no problem.  He’s strong but doesn’t need to be hauling trash and furniture up and down the stairs.

Today we got started.  By the end of the few hours we put in, I was depressed, overwhelmed and filled with such a feeling of disbelief.

My neighbor is quite seriously ONE piece of paper away from being a hoarder.

not his house, but a pretty close representation

I could easily see why he hadn’t gotten very far in his own efforts to work on the house.  It was quite daunting walking down the stairs and into what can only be described as the biggest pile of stuff and crap I’ve ever been faced with.   He was a DJ for 20 years so has equipment stacked everywhere.  I was able to convince him to let me play with Google and see what he could get for some of it and was able to insist he throw out an amp that wasn’t worth what it would cost to fix.  He has enough CDs and records to open his own store.

I am not an aggressive person.  But when it came to doing this with him, I found the inch of assertion I needed to nudge him along.  He seemed embarrassed and frustrated and laughed nervously about wondering where all this stuff came from.  He wanted to haul a 5-foot long, 2-foot deep plastic bin full of CDs up the stairs.  I told him there was no way I could lift that, we were going to have to sort the box.  I set him about the task of sorting through papers (because I can’t very well go through his papers and know what’s important/what’s not) and I started getting his CDs into a more moveable arrangement.  He has a stack of vinyl taller than I am, so I had him sort through those and he got through about four boxes before he needed to get up and move onto something else.  Many of them were his mother’s and I could tell he didn’t want to think about getting rid of any of them.

To make a long day shorter, we took several pieces of furniture, computer monitors, CPUs, over half the CDs and a few other things to his rental house and stored them in the basement there (which, by the way, is just as bad as his own basement).  By the time we finished for the day – I insisted he go get something to eat and go to bed – you could tell we had started in the room…but you sure couldn’t tell we’d done very much.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the one room.  There’s a bedroom and a storage room in just as bad shape.  Possibly worse.

How does it get like that?  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I was completely depressed when I left.  I wanted to cry for several hours afterward.  (I wanted to cry when I was there).  There’s so much.  And I just kept thinking that when his time comes, his children are going to have to sift through mountains of papers, CDs, furniture, DJ equipment, hats, shoes, gloves, plastic bags (yes, plastic bags; he refused to throw away any of them), books, VHS tapes, DVDs and more.

There’s no way we’re going to get this done by “some time in October” for his daughter’s visit.  Not when I have to [understandably] hold his hand every step of the way.  I could get it done in a weekend.  At least make it easier for him to sort through things.  But I really don’t get the impression that he’s really up for that.  His job this week is to go through the papers so that when I’m off again next Friday we can really make a dent.  A tangible dent.

I will, however, never underestimate the feelings of hoarders or the families of hoarders.

what i did on my summer vacation

More accurately….what I did on my kids’ summer vacation.

We spent 95% of their vacation doing absolutely nothing fun.  Nothing more than what we usually do – swim and watch TV.  Please, contain the enthusiasm.

So we decided this past weekend to do something fun.  Anything.  At great expense, of course, but overlooking my panic of bills versus fun, I guess it was worth it.

Friday we took them shopping for a “reasonably priced” outfit (thank you Ashleigh for the saying that’s stuck) and new shoes (yay to husband who works for a shoe company which means discount, discount, discount!!)  Despite my great love of all things retail (heavy sarcasm inflection) I survived.  An hour at the shoe store, largely due to Ashleigh who spends a great deal of time making sure she has just.the.right.thing.  It took the other four of us surrounding her in boxes of shoes before she settled on a pair I’d pointed out 45 minutes earlier.  Grr…  I fainted at the receipt, even seeing how much we’d saved.

Then it was on to Khol’s for said reasonably priced outfit.  An hour later (again, thanks to Ashleigh) the kids walked out of the store a really great outfit each.  I had to steal the clothes from their rooms today to sneak the outfits into the wash before they started walking around on their own.

Alyssa showing off her clothes

Ashleigh & her "reasonably priced outfit"

Friday night we tried camping in the backyard.  Bought obscenely large marshmallows for s’mores.  The s’mores were so large we sort of had to lick the marshmallow out of the sides before they dripped (and plenty dripped).

No, really, they were BIG marshmallows

We tried to sleep in the tent.  The dogs loved being in outside, with the whole family in one place and Macchi slept really well despite all the wrestling and pillow slinging and giggling.  Around 1am we realized no one was getting any sleep, Tyler’s mattress had deflated several times over and we headed back in to the house.

tent wrestling

We debated forever about where to go Saturday.  After the clothes and shoes (despite their reasonability) ordeal, we wanted somewhere cheap – and that’s hard to come by.  We hit Centerfield Park which offers mini golf, go karts, batting cages and bumper boats.   We started with mini golf and moved on to the batting cages.  It was frustrating for the girls but I could have stayed in the cage for hours.  We set the girls loose on the Slick Track and after watching and laughing at them figured they were going to come off the track vowing never to go on again.  Alyssa, who I thought would be the nascar driver was driving sooooo slow, careful around the turns, getting out of the way of others.  And my ever-careful Ashleigh had a fiendish look on her face, hauling ass.   They both came flying out of the gate praising the experience.

Alyssa finally getting the hang of it all.

Then it was off to get ice cream and home so Todd and I could collapse.

And that’s the summation of what I did on their summer vacation, lol.

School starts in just over a week.  YIPPEEEEE

thanks for the cooties

In case you were wondering, I am still listening to that song over and over and over again.  I’m slightly worried about that.

I hate being sick.  Check that, I hate having a cold/sinus infection.  I would take the pain and suffering of a Crohn’s attack over a head cold.  Does that make me a baby?  I just find it extremely unjustified that when my family lovingly passes the cold cooties on to me it takes me three times as long to recover from it.

It makes me want to cry that only half of my sinuses are so clogged and swollen that I can’t breathe.  I would rather share the misery all around my infected cavities than hog it all to one side.  I think it’s rude.  Oh, you can breathe out of your nose…one side of it anyways.  So I breathe through my mouth and then wake up with a sore throat that feels slick and slimy.

I cannot possibly blow my nose anymore.  Between the free head rush and randomly peeing on myself, I’m sure I’m one tissue away from a ruptured aneurysm.

I declined meds because of possible drug interactions until I could talk to my pharmacist and make sure that I wasn’t going to overdose.  Of course I wasn’t but I had to make sure – even if it meant yelling at Todd for laughing at me for being a total headcase.  Once I had the okay by my beloved pharmacist – I tried Sudafed and there was no improvement.  Then I took Benadryl and those just made me feel worse.

I slept in the chair last night so I could pretend to breathe while I dozed.  When I woke up, my spine felt shattered, my head hurt and I was clogged up – this time on the right instead of the left side of my nose.

And we all know that when you can’t blow out, you suck back so my stomach hurts from the gallons of snot I apparently digested last night in my sleep.  Let’s not even discuss the lovely cookies I’m hocking out of my lungs.

I hate being sick. This took Todd a DAY to kick, and I started feeling bad on Saturday night.   That means by this coming Saturday, I should start feeling better.  Damned compromised immune system.

On allowances and child abuse…

It’s worth noting before I get started that the twins trade personalities roughly every seven months.  Unfortunately for me, I don’t NOTICE when they’ve done this until one does something appalling that I would have previously expected from the other one.

Alyssa is currently in the appalling category.
The other night we had a discussion on allowances.  Now, I am a lazy housekeeper.  I hate it.  I don’t really think there’s anything worse than having to clean the house….except having to live in it when it’s dirty.  Allowances/chores have been brought up several times in the past.  I have two opinions on this:

1. I may be lazy, but they’re worse and it’s just EASIER for me to do it (and then I have an excuse to stomp around when I’m still cleaning the kitchen three hours later and ranting because no one else bothers to do squat around  here) and

2. Setting up allowances for them is just too much bookkeeping – who didn’t do what on what day, how much to deduct, and it’s really like having a whole other BILL to take care of (is that a third opinion?)

So we’re discussing.  Really, I was trying to work and Tyler was trying to play WOW and Todd and the girls were discussing. Okay, so really Todd and Ashleigh were discussing because Alyssa was having an honest-to-God meltdown over allowance.  Not because she’s currently not getting one.  Not because she has to work for one.  No, she’s in real tears because she somehow thinks she’s owed some RETROACTIVE allowance payments from before she was born.  As long as Tyler’s been receiving allowance (he hasn’t – please see above opinions) or as long as he’s been old enough to receive it (so in her eyes, since July 8, 1995) well Alyssa thinks she’s entitled to some of that action.

And there’s NO convincing her otherwise.  In fact, I almost started a post about this the other night – it was going to be titled “Yellers” because I live in a house of them and it drives me crazy…but yeah, that’s a completely different post.

Finally, it’s decided between the people actually having the conversation (or yelling) that X chores will be done for X money.  Okay fine, I’m calling the B.S. card here because I’m opposed to this and because I’m the one ultimately who has to teach them to do everything.  (Refer to “It’s just easier…”)

I’m sure at some point, my parents had to teach me to do chores as well.  But who remembers that?  I only remember sacrificing Saturday mornings and doing the dinner dishes.  Why…WHY do I have to give lessons on washing pots and pans?  Soap, water, wash til clean, rinse, repeat.  Don’t use a 1/4 cup of soap to cleanse a spoon.  Turn on the water.   Hot water.  Rinsing helps.  You’ll need the water.

All this eco-friendly don’t waste water crap – it’s only taught my kids to NOT use the water when they do the dishes.  Who does that?  Oh, my kids.

Really, it’s just easier… GRRR.

And on child abuse…

So my neighbor comes outside the other day and starts walking around her front yard.  I think maybe she’s calming down because she’s been yelling at her girls for quite a bit now.  Then I notice she’s not walking around, she’s stalking the tree looking for just the right…oh there, she found it.  A nice long, skinny switch.  She pulls the leaves off and disappears inside.  My kids are dumbstruck.

This starts a conversation about child abuse.  Given my job, this is a tricky explanation to give.  Would I whip my kids with a switch?  No.  (But I won’t pretend it hasn’t crossed my mind).  But my neighbor’s kids aren’t my kids and I don’t know what’s happening inside and I’ve never seen anything to make me think these kids are abused.  Different strokes…

So Alyssa wants to call 911 (she’s all about that these days, I’m keeping a close eye on the phone).  We leave to pick up Tyler from track practice and the conversation shifts to reveal that ALL THREE of my children would prefer getting spanked to getting grounded.  What?  Wait.  What?  “Because you get spanked, you go back out to play.”

I like that grounding is torture  – it’s going to be so much more satisfying the next time I ground one of them.

From there the conversation moves to Todd and his upbringing/relationship with his dad who, for lack of a better way to put it, beat him frequently.  “Even for failing a spelling test?”  Ashleigh asks.  “Even for,” I respond.  It’s quiet for a minute and she then tells me that she no longer wants anything from her grandpa – “even if it’s the thing I wanted most in the world because he hurt my dad.”


“Yeah, well you can give it to me then because I’m just thankful to get anything.”  (You know, because she’s SO deprived and never gets anything.)

What I heard was “well I’ll take it because I’m greedy and I want everything all the time right now gimme gimme gimme”.  But I could just need my ears checked.