Monday, September 29, 2008

The "Bestest" Money I Ever Spent

Abby on her birthday with her card! Abby with her card today! Note the chewed corners.
It isn't very often that you feel that being raped by Hallmark is the best money you have ever spent but in this incidence I do. Most of you are familiar with Hallmark's ability to suck in the customer under the guise of a "holiday" or attract you to buy Christmas ornaments in July (I am guilty of falling for both). Anyway this year my children accompanied me to the local Hallmark store to buy Valentines for their loving, generous father. While in the store Jack located the Gold Crowns version of "Don't Forget The Lyrics"- the musical greeting card. Jack and Abby spent most of the shopping excursion opening and dancing around the crowded aisle of the store listening to all of his favorite and newly favorite songs. I heard the Hamster Dance (annoying), High School Musical, Cars, 80's classics, nursery rhymes. As I dragged him out of the store he was pointing to all (there were probably 6-8 cards that he wanted) of the birthday cards that he thought I should purchase him for his birthday which was more then 2 months away.
In April when Jack's birthday finally came around I purchased him a Darth Vader card that played the Darth Vader song (Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun...). Jack is his father's son he loves to have his birthday celebrated on one hand but on the other he doesn't like all the attention. Jack quickly opened the card and carefully tossed it to the side to listen to later in the comfort of his bedroom without the audience. His sister was intrigued by this $4.99 card that played music. Over and over for the next few days Jack would attempt to hide his card to keep it nice (again his father's son) and while he was at school his sister would find it and play it over and over and over again.
In July Abby (aka "Little Mermaid") turned 3, I found myself again at Hallmark taking the beating for the $4.99 card. This time it is Ariel with Sebastian singing "Under the Sea" when you open it. I knew Abby would love it because she had made me promise that Ariel and Sebastian would both be at her party (this was as close as I could get to the real thing, short of dressing up like Donna Martin in the mermaid costume in front of all of my friends and family and Steve as a crab or lobster). On the morning of Abby's birthday we gave her her gifts... to this day I have no idea what Abby got for her birthday, all I know is that she got that card. Abby unlike her brother has gotten my money out of that card, it has gone to the car wash, Lowes, the grocery store, the doctors office, more places then I can keep track of. I actually thought today I should throw the card away because it had been sitting on the counter in the laundry room for more then a week. But less then 20 minutes after that thought crossed my mind Abby was asking me where her card was. Lucky for me I was too lazy to pick it up off the floor and throw it away. I told her where it was and the girl and her card were reunited. What did I get for this? A kiss on my hand and the pronouncement of being the "bestest mommy"- it doesn't get better then that!
Thanks Hallmark! I think I owe you!
Card Update- Monday, the card got some much needed TLC- scotch tape reinforcement- after making its debut as a family member in the family blog. Tuesday, I found the card in a cabinet in the kitchen. Wednesday morning during "Metamucil time" Abby remembered that she had put the card in that cabinet. "Oh Ariel! There you are! I have been looking all over for you! I love you!" Whose child is this?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

ahhhhh- The NASCAR Nap

Some how a few years ago my husband and son fell in love with everything racing- soapbox derby, pinewood derby, AND Jimmie Johnson and NASCAR. Jimmie Johnson because he drives the Lowes car and the Lowes car is a winner. Steve and Jack love Lowes (Steve for the endless supply of what ever he decides on he can't live without on Saturday morning and Jack for the chips from the hot dog stand lady). I have a feeling ladies that Lowes is like Target for men, does that make more sense ladies? In the mind of a 3 year old competitive little boy Jack learned to associate the best car with his favorite place to buy chips for breakfast on a Saturday, you have to support that-right?
Being a woman I didn't understand the passion that my husband and son share for NASCAR. I mean I am the one that laughed at a coworker when she told me that she had three cats named Dale, Earnhardt, and Junior. Sometime last Spring I came around to the idea of being a NASCAR family. One rainy Sunday Steve and Jack curled up on the couch for an important race with 500 at the end of it's name. The next thing I knew Steve was sawing logs as the cars drive around and around in circles and Jack (nicknamed Mike TV) watches most of it without moving a muscle serving as the human heating blanket for his dad. I am not a very quick study, I watched the same phenomenon happen for 2 more Sundays before I questioned Steve about his Sunday activity. He laughed and said that he thought that I hadn't noticed. He explained to me that the best part of the race is the start and the finish, and with the miracle of DVR he could sleep through the middle and watch bits and pieces of the race in fast forward until the last 25 laps. I fell in love with NASCAR at that moment, a show that you don't have to watch but you sleep through guilt free!
Since that day in March I have been a regular follower of NASCAR and better yet a believer in the NASCAR nap. I have learned that NASCAR has the best commercials - better then Super Bowl Sunday. My current favorite is the Home Depot one with Tony Stewart and the 18 year old who will drive the Home Depot car next year. I have learned to love NASCAR so much I will proudly hang my Lowes NASCAR Christmas ornaments at the front of my tree this year! Talk about turn around, who would have ever thought! I may talk a good game but today as the car started to lull me to sleep I snuck off to my room for a nap spread out in my own bed- now that is love!
Oh and the results of today's race- Jimmie Johnson pulled out a win in the last lap! Congratulations Jimmie! Chips for everyone!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Life of a Tired Mom

My husband, Steve is the sweetest guy. Last Thursday night as we took our nightly dip in the hot tub, he was asking me what my girlfriends and I had planned to do for our big weekend in Vegas. I said "nothing", because nothing was exactly what we had planned. I like the idea of nothing but nothing would probably drive me crazy and it definitely made Steve nervous just talking about it (too much downtime drives Steve crazy). He gave me some advice that at first I laughed at "come home tired, don't come home rested, you can always catch up on sleep when you get home." What a sweet guy,right? First he worked hard all week, he gave me a bunch of spending money for my trip, he is taking care of the kids while I am gone, and then he tells me to not waste a minute of it. At the airport in Fresno I tell my friends what Steve had told me. They laughed, too. It took the 55 minute flight for the truth of what Steve said to sink in. When we disembarked the plane, Jennifer turned to Sara and I said "I want to go to the club at The Palms." It was if the sky opened and angels sang right there in the Sin City airport. "Great idea!!!" we cheered in unison! Long story shortened... we got maybe 7 hours sleep all weekend!
In the back of my head all weekend there was Rachel's mommy voice of reason, that choose to keep reminding me of the week ahead of me- carpets cleaned on Monday 8:30 am, swim lessons, swim practice, dance class, laundry, preschool, bus drop off and pick up, karate, the voice was relentless. Some how 20 year old Rachel was able to persevere and along with the techno thump of the club music drowning out Mommy Rachel. When I was 20 I was able to party all weekend (which included Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights out with my friends) and still find myself studying Sunday afternoon and evening and ready and sober for class on Monday. Add 13 years, a husband, 2 children, a busy calendar, and minus that one extra night lets just say I have struggled all week- bright and early Monday morning I started paying the price for attempting to be 20 year old me. I barely hung on through the afternoon, when I was finally able to catch a few z's on the couch with Abby. Tuesday night I got up and went to bed after watching only an hour of the Heroes premiere on DVR (I knew that Mrs. Petrelli was Sylar's mom). Yesterday in the hour between karate and swim practice I laid down on my bed and slept for 20 minutes before I grabbed the kids and ran out the door. Finally today I feel like myself again!
You maybe wondering if I would do this all again... ABSOLUTELY!!! I spent the weekend with 2 of the most fun, amazing, funny women I know! I would definitely do it again! I am so glad that for once I listened to my husband advice- Great guy! Great advice!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mommy needs a Break too!

Today I am mentally preparing myself for a weekend away. Now I have had plenty of weekends away from home without the kids, but all of them have included the company of my loving husband. This trip is different- on this trip I am getting on an airplane and flying to Las Vegas for a whirlwind weekend of fun in Sin City!
The usual trip to Las Vegas includes shopping for new "Vegas" clothes, a pedicure, a trip to see one of my favorite people in the whole World, David my hair guy, ironing, packing, unpacking, repacking, the list could go on forever. Oh- and teeth whitening, don't ask me why it all started about 4 years ago when Steve and I showed up at the airport and the first thing that Steve said to our friend Sara was "what did you do to your teeth? They are so white!" He liked them a lot!
So this weekend after about 5 months of planning and very little primping, myself and 3 girlfriends are leaving our families behind to have some fun without them. In all actuality, we have nothing planned other then where we will sleep (Trump Tower) and when we go home. This is why I am preparing mentally, I am afraid that I will have too much time on my hands to wonder (not worry) about what is going on at home, when I travel with Steve I don't seem to think about what is going on with the kids at home (horrible I know). Poor Steve doesn't have it that easy either, Jack has his first swim meet of the fall tomorrow night and he gets to take Abby with him.
In conclusion, I already miss my family and can't wait to get home on Sunday. Pretty pathetic since I haven't even left yet!

The Wheels on the Bus Go 'Round and 'Round

Jack is well into the 4th week of school and loving every minute of it. Four weeks ago none of us were sure that we would be able to make it through the first day of school let alone a full year of school! Bottom line- Jack loves to sleep in, take his time to think about what to eat while watching TV, eventually deciding on the right well-balanced breakfast (which always includes at least 2-5 slices of bacon), and then - if the sun and moon are in alignment- get dressed and ready for school. Because of this laid back lifestyle Jack has, his mother suffered through many a sleepless night worrying and stressing over "how am I going to get this child out of bed and to school by 8:25?" Weeks before school started I attempted in vain to get him to bed early every night, just so he could sleep in until 8 or 8:30 the very next morning. More stress followed by lots of threats of no TV, cancelling after school activities, etc. nothing seemed to motivate the sleepy child into going to bed early and getting up when I told him to. But on the morning of August 25th, something clicked!!! It was like Jack circadian rhythms clicked overnight and there he was at 7:10, ready to eat breakfast, get dressed, and walk to school (?)!Mommy problem #2- For those of you who don't know, you can see Jack's school from our backyard. Jack has had it stuck in his head since we told him that he would attend Reagan Elementary that he was going to ride his bike (I told him that the training wheels probably wouldn't win him any popularity points) or walk (much cooler) to school. The problem is that even though we can see the school it requires a long walk down a very busy street with no sidewalks. In the past I had mentioned to other mothers and my husband that the bus seems like a good alternative to the school zone traffic, thus making a less hectic morning for mom. I think Steve (Steve is the protective, fair, nurturing parent, I am the one that says suck it up and figure it out quick because you are going to do it NOW) said something to the tune of "if riding the bus is anything like I remember- no way." I was a bus rider, I always was until I had friends that could drive me to school. I don't remember bad things happening on the bus, but I was naive and blind. I started my research early, I learned the bus route to and from school, I watched to see what time the bus came to our stop after school, I timed my travel time to and from school in the mornings and afternoons, and then armed with all the facts I proposed to Steve the answer to my morning madness- the bus. Steve's response "SURE! I think he should ride the bus! You are going to pick him up and drop him off at the bus stop right? You will be on time right? Does Jack want to ride the bus?" "What? Yes! Yes! YES!" This was way too easy, I didn't even have to use any of my research or facts to support my argument! The bus is everything I hoped for and more, even though I was late picking him up after school the first day! Jack met some friend from his class on the bus, who save him a seat and play with him before school starts. I am able to get Abby to school on time. AND guess who is the one watching the clock every morning to be sure he isn't late to the bus, because he doesn't want his mom to drive him to school- JACK!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Will Never Forget

In my former life I was a Social Science teacher, I enjoyed teaching my students about what it means to live in a democracy and how truly lucky we are to live in the USA by digging through the history that we learned. I vividly remember one fateful morning in September 2001, pregnant and always tried I was taking my time to get to school (for some reason I didn't have to be there until after 10 am). As I blew my hair dry in the bathroom I listened to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer live on the television- odd- they are never live on the West Coast. I went to the other room to my utter horror to find that I group of crazy people hijacked planes and flew them into the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon Building in Washington D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania. Disbelief fell over me, what do I do? Steve was on his way to San Francisco for meetings, I recalled in the back of my head something my 8th grade US History, Mr. Kent told me about when he was a kid about the Kennedy assassination and being released to go home from school. I had to go to school! At school I switched on the TV in my classroom, and attempted to pull it together enough to review the lesson that I would be teaching my class in less then an hour- "What is democracy? And what does it mean to you?". Mr. Kent's voice resonated in my head, "I remember seeing all of the teachers crying when Kennedy was shot." For those of you who know me well I am probably one of the least emotional people you know- I don't cry, I laughed at my mom during countless Disney movies for crying. As my student piled into my classroom most of them had looks of relief that II had the TV on- I am not sure if it was the relief of "at least we can stay connected" or of "YEAH, I can go back to sleep." My students asked a few questions about the news and about what were would be doing in class that day, some were afraid, others angry, and all of them confused. So with Mr. Kent still in my head and tears in my eyes I started class. Seven years later I don't remember what happened after I started class some how I was able to fill 88 minutes. What I do remember is one of my students, an Ashley (there were 4 in that class) came up to me with tears in her eyes and thanked me for teaching her something that day and for making her feel safe in a time of uncertainty. What more could a teacher ask for? I had done my job. Better yet on that day my students taught me something, that I will never forget that school is a place to be safe, secure, and welcomed, for many of them they came to school that day for answers and comfort- just like I had. In closing I would like to remember our fallen heroes, specifically the young men from Clovis (a few I knew as boys) Marine Cpl. Jeremiah Baro, Marine Lance Cpl. Tony Butterfield, Senior Airman Nick Eischen, Marine Lance Cpl. Jared Hubbard, Army Spc. Nathan Hubbard, Army Pfc. Rowan Walter, Army Cpl. Mike Rojas, and Army Sgt. Steve Packer. All of these young men and countless others have given their lives to protect our freedom. I would also like to recoginize my cousin, 1LT Mollie Keith currently stationed in Iraq, a day does not go by that I don't think of you- thank you for everything you and your troops are doing to protect our country from another tragedy like September 11, 2001. I am so proud of each of you! For more information about the Clovis boys, read the article below-

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Princess Sleeps- A Day in the Life of a sick Abby

"Abby is sick" Steve tells me last night. I just stare at him, I think this is his way of saying her nose isn't running because she has allergies. The only thoughts in my head after that are- "Can she still go to swim lesson tomorrow? What about my pilates class on Tuesday? BUT wait forget about all of that- she has school Wednesday and I HAVE to get my hair cut!" AGHHH! A sick Abby means a miserable family. I expertly sedated my daughter and put her in bed at 6:45 PM yesterday, without protests from anyone, even Abby! Promptly at 6:58 this morning, we were woken up to the cheerful (and well?) voice of Abby, "Everybody wake up! The sun is open!" Maybe I have been spared a tiresome day of dealing with snot and Kleenex and a 3 year old who refuses to blow her nose (why would she her 6 year old brother won't either). I was wrong, by 7:15 we had our first meltdown and banishment to somewhere other then where I was at that moment. Jack cheerfully left for school at 7:58, I think he was laughing at me as he pulled away on the bus. At home with just the two of us, Abby and I settled into our morning routine, exercise and Ariel. For those of you who don't know, my daughter thinks that she is the Little Mermaid, Ariel. She swims in the pool diving down "like a mermaid", singing Ariel songs, and sometimes talks of her friends Sebastian and Flounder. Anyway, 2 weeks ago the latest of the Little Mermaid movies was released- "The Little Mermaid- Ariel's Beginning". Abby has watched it nearly everyday since it we got it. Now I take issue with Disney- Disney is the finest provider of family and children's entertainment, we love Disney! I have loved Disney since watching the Apple Dumpling Gang, Pollyanna, Bedknobs and Broomsticks as a kid, I remember going to see Disney movies with my mom and my sister and brother and laughing at my mom for crying, what was wrong with that woman??? I will tell you! Disney loves to kill off one of the (if not all of) the adult parental figure(s) in the lives of their young main characters. "The Beginning" is no different, but is by far the most horrifying. Ariel's mother loved to sing and would sing at the surface of the ocean to all the merpeople. One very unfortunate day, Ariel's mother was singing her heart out and the next think she knew all of her friends deserted her because a ship was coming to the cove haphazardly. The boat crashed and Ariel's mother was never seen again. Don't get it--- DISNEY had a BOAT RUN OVER ARIEL'S MOM!!! Abby loves this movie. After watching "The Beginning" Abby came to the office to find me to tell me that she wants me to buy the pancake puff pan. Have you seen the infomerical? Check it out- They had Abby at "cover them with chocolate." At first I tried to tell her that they aren't pancake puffs they are actually ebelskivers and that Great Grandma Keith makes them every year between Christmas and New Years Eve and that our family doesn't eat them with chocolate but with powdered sugar or syrup. That bit of family history is lost on the girl who then tells me that you can put "chips" (as in chocolate chips) in them. This morning I told her to ask Santa for it, sick Abby tantrum #2 for the day. Then we had to go through the second part of our morning routine which is when Abby tells me that she misses Jack. Today I was lucky enough to get crying tears and kicking on the floor and not only does she miss Jack today but she also wants her dad- Tantrum #3. Because I can't reschedule her swim lesson and I remember her dad telling me when I swam "you just have a cold get in the water" I take Abby to her swim lesson. She did remarkably well considering the big yellow booger I could see hanging out of her nose through almost the entire class. After swimming I rewarded her with a trip to "the tiny cart store"- Vons. Home safely with our groceries and without a tantrum, Abby prepared her own lunch- bread, sting cheese, and melon. After lunch, a lunch of only the melon, I informed the little mermaid with the deep dark circles under her eyes that it was time for a nap... Tantrum #4, 5, and 6. 20 minutes later I find her sitting in her basket of stuffed animals reading. I tell her get in bed- tantrum #7,8, 9, and maybe even 10. I am not giving up though. 10 minutes later I check her room again- no Abby!!! Where is she? Sleeping on the floor in a corner of the dining room. Sweet dreams! Very soon I will get to awake the sleeping giant and then I get to figure out what my afternoon will be like. Cross your fingers for me!

What am I doing here???

My sister is right, it is better to record your thoughts with the morbid thought that someday I won't be around to let my children know what it was like for them a kids or what their mother was about. Therapy in a computer... it can't get better then that right!!! Some of my closest friends are images on a computer screen, other moms who cope (avoid) with household tasks by logging on to Facebook and sending each other stupid flair that in an attempt to make the other laugh at something other then Hannah Montana show their kids is currently watching. For today, exercise is done, Jack is off to school, sick Abby has watched Ariel- The Beginning (or just "The Beginning"- if you are cool like that), has made a mess on the floor in the game room and is swiftly moving on to the kitchen, with crayons, a pencil sharpener, and who knows what else. My work is never done, yet here I sit blogging my heart away. In my next blog- I will be commenting on my husband's ability to turn on the Disney Channel and still become intraced by Hannah Montana or The Suite Life. AND also, Disney's ability to create movies with single parent theme that no one seems to notice. PLUS, I have the secret to the disappearance of Ariel's mother.