Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

I was accused of being a scrooge last night as I started AND finished the process of packing up Christmas. Usually, I wait until the New Year.... at least. But not this year. I got motivated... and when that happens (only once in a blue moon), WATCH OUT! Anyway, the lack of Christmas crap everywhere is giving me a false sense of order in my house. While my house is still in shambles, the sudden absence of all the additional Christmas clutter makes it seem so clean and tidy. Almost empty. I know it seems this way every year after we put all the decorations away. Don't worry, give it another day and it will start to appear as messy as usual again!

The boys are sick. Again. Mainly just buggers, lots of buggers, and this hacking cough. I am actually surprised that it took until now for Dylan and I to catch it. Chase has had this cough for over a week now and he isn't very respectful about using his elbow or hand to shield the mucus spray. The germs inevitably get everywhere. I am sure I don't feel nearly as bad as the boys do. Their coughs are of the hearty, rattly variety that make me wince when they get going and can't stop. I luckily am only partially congested. But it isn't coming out my nose or dripping down my throat. Strange - huh? There must just be a ball of snot lodged somewhere between the back of my throat and the the back of my nose. It has rendered my taste buds useless, and makes me sound like I am talking and plugging my nose, all at the same time. It's not coming out either. I have tried! Using my brother's terminology, all day I have been trying to "Hack up a Loogie." I am wondering now if anyone, other than my brother, has ever used this phrase??? I remember when I was probably about ten, my brother taught me the cool expression and then proceeded to show me how to do it. "You gotta get all the phlem, from waaaayyyy down in your throat, hack it all up and then spit it out! There.... now you have "Hacked a Loogie!" Gotta love brothers. I can only hope that my little ones will teach each other such valuable, life-long lessons. Ah-hum... I suppose that's enough talk about mucus.

On to the point of this post.... to tell everyone Happy New Year. I mean it... as in, It better be!

I have to admit that I am not particularly sad about putting the year 2008 to bed. It hasn't been the best one ever. So, I optimistically look forward to a New Year and HOPE that 2009 will bring some brighter tomorrows. I will part with some random "personal goals" for 2009:

-I NEED to work on getting organized. If I don't, I am afraid that it at this point next year we will be wading, knee deep in junk mail, catalogs, Chase's artwork, and other random clutter.
-Stop whining about how out of shape I am and actually start doing something about it.
-Go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier and squeeze in some treadmill time before the boys wake up.
- Take the time to really thank my friends and family for all the nice things they do. Would it kill me to send out a thank-you card every once in a while?
-Floss. EVERY day. Not every third day or every-other day.
-Make a budget and stick to it. If we ever hope to save enough for college or to retire comfortably some day, this is a must!
- Learn how to use my camera. I am soo envious of good picture takers!!
- Play & teach more. I think they would both really benefit from some mental stimulation that didn't come from Noggin.
-Have more patience! Count to ten before blowing my lid. Try to un-clench my teeth when communicating with Chase. No more eye-rolling (yes I do the eye-rolling around here... not a very good example.) Find a constructive way to deal with Chase's outbursts.
-BE HAPPIER! Life is short. I know I will miss these days when they are little. I want to really enjoy it!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

PCSD (Post Christmas Stress Disorder)

My parents escaped my house and headed to my sister's for a few nights of peace, quiet and R&R. I really can't blame them... it has been a struggle over here the past couple of days. The lethal combination of Santa's arrival, grandma & grandpa's arrival, another cold (yes, another cold is circulating around my house), probably not enough sleep, too much sugar, and lots of deviations in the routine has turned Chase into a child that I don't even recognize. Well, I do recognize him. Fortunately, we just haven't seen this side of him recently. Until now. Why does he do this when Grandma and Grandpa visit? Honestly, things had been so good for the past couple weeks. I even commented to Dave a couple nights ago, "I think we turned a corner with Chase." Har har!!! We have had so many tantrums and time-outs over the past two days... I have lost count. I keep trying to explain to my parents that he really isn't like this all the time. (They know, but I want them to know - ya know....) His behavior is stressing me out and I am lashing out at everyone. Okay, well, mainly just Dave. Anyway, sensing an all out melt-down coming on, my mom offered to babysit and sent Dave and I out last night for bowling and beer (lots of beer.) Guess what??? Chase was an angel the whole time we were gone! All it took was to get mom & dad out of the picture. Hmmm, why do WE bring out the worst in OUR children? My mom is probably wondering this same question! (That was meant to be funny! BTW - My parents had planned on staying with my sis for a few nights during their stay. My children didn't actually DRIVE them away. But, I bet that they are a tensy bit relieved to have a break from the whining and tantrums;)

Anyway, his attitude was spiraling out of control. (That sounds dramatic.... but it sorta was.) So, I had to do something BIG, something that will really strike a cord with him, something to make him understand that disrespectful behavior does NOT go unpunished in our house. The only thing I could think of was to ground him to his room. Yup, it is not a proud mommy moment to have to ground your three year old. It was only for two hours and I sat in there with him, staring blankly at the wall and trying to be completely unemotional as he raged, screamed and cried for a solid hour and a half. Are we going to be getting therapy bills in 20 years for the cruelty we subjected him to? I am just keeping my fingers crossed that it actually worked. Maybe, tomorrow will be a better day. It has to! Right???

I finally uploaded our bowling pics... thought I would attach them below!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas


We spent Christmas Eve at Me'Me and PaPa's (my in laws.) It was a nice evening of dinner, present opening and Church service.


Chase woke up Christmas morning and was so excited that Santa came. He actually pulled one of the big boxes up the stairs to our room before we were even out of bed. He was very anxious to get the ball rolling on the present opening business.

Okay Mom, can we start opening now!!!






Santa brought a couple of big trucks for Chase and a ride on toy for Dylan. But, a couple of hours later, there was a ring at the door bell. He forgot to leave a couple presents, so he came back!!! It was sooooo exciting. Okay, well, I thought it was exciting. Chase was a little shy, but he actually did better than I thought he would. He has adamantly refused ANY contact with Santa for the last 3 years (or at least since he has been old enough to voice his own opinions. ) I suppose he can't complain when he is bearing gifts - right???



Dylan wasn't much interested in Santa.


A true Christmas miracle happened! My parent's flew from North Idaho, in the middle of the snow storm, into Denver and then onto Chicago and actually MADE IT. After all the media coverage of travel woes and cancelled or delayed flights, I wasn't optimistic that we would be spending Christmas together. But, they did it. Their luggage didn't. It got here only three hours later. Really, I am still a little shocked that they are here. It was a great day and we all shared a nice dinner...together!


Auntie Beth and Joe.

Finally, the third and final round of presents were opened. Phew.... what a busy, busy holiday. Chase and Dylan were both totally tuckered out from all the excitement. My parents are visiting this week. It is so nice for the boys to have Grandma and Grandpa here to play with... well, to entertain at least!! I hope everyone else had a great holiday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Da - Bears!!

Keri, Cathy, Me, Shannon, Karen and Auntie (I mean Beth! Sorry, it is sticking..... now everyone is starting to call her Auntie too... *snicker*)

We've had our date picked out for The Annual Girls Night Out/Holiday Gift Exchange for a while. But once the clan found out that the Bears & Packers were facing off for a Monday Night football showdown... our venue promptly changed to a sports bar. These girls are serious about their football, they are even in an all girls fantasy football league. I played along (I had to borrow a Bears shirt from Auntie)... I am not a huge fan... but hey... whatever, I am out of my house and drinking beers with friends. It doesn't take much to make me happy. It was nice to catch up and chat (between cheers, groans and trash-talking... okay, so mainly during the commercials... hee hee.. just like at home -HA!!)

We did our fun Gift exchange after dinner. I am sure all the men in the restaurant (seriously, we were the only girls) loved that soon after we opened our gifts lots of good smelly lotion smells were wafting from our table.

I have to admit that although it was a good game, I sortof gave up on the Bears and went shopping after dinner. They kicked me out of the mall at 10PM and then out of Target at 11PM. But the good news is - I AM DONE!!!! Well, done shopping... still lots to do with the damn wrapping :) I was shocked when I woke up this morning and found out that those Bears somehow pulled it off and WON!!! Wow, I guess I missed an exciting game.

My friend Melissa's husband actually went to the game... he is probably still frozen in a solid block of ice ; ) Here is her post: http://enjoyalllifehastooffer.blogspot.com/2008/12/i-love-football.html

Monday, December 22, 2008

From the Frozen Tundra......

It is soooo cold here. Chase was just chipping ice off the INSIDE of the windows. Brrrr......
It has been frigid here the last couple days. Last night I felt compelled to go and tuck in the boys and add another layer of blankets ... just in case. I was in Chase's room when an urgent tickle rose up my throat and I had to race out before the cough escaped. Phew... barely made it out of there. Next one. I tip-toed into Dylan's room and succeeded in delicately placing a blankie over him. I had to stifle a laugh - he sleeps with his butt straight up in the air. It is seriously the cutest thing. Meowww... ughhh... how did Bogie get in here? I herded him out of the room before waking Dylan and patted myself on the back as I quietly closed the door. Mission completed!!! Then CRASH. I accidentally kicked a large plastic toy and banged it against the wall. Freeze... listen.......
I don't know how on earth that didn't wake up all the boys (including Dave) who were still slumbering away. Why do I bother sneaking around when they obviously can sleep through just about anything???

Last Minute Gift Idea

If anyone needs a last minute gift idea for me.... I could use a new garlic press. This morning Chase was playing with play dough... (you already know where I am going with this, don't you?) and I was up doing laundry. He yelled up, "Mama, you need to see the cool grass I made!!!" Yup, he found my garlic press and squished his play dough through it to make grass. Guess that one is a goner!!! (Really, DON'T get me a new one, I never used the old one.... I honestly am not heart-broken that it now has dried up play dough in all the little nooks & crannies. )

Chase and I started an interesting tradition for Christmas this year. I took him to the Dollar Store and let HIM pick out gifts for everyone. He took his shopping VERY seriously and insisted on picking out the gifts all by himself. I CAN'T wait to see everyone's face when they open their super COOL dollar store gift. He even helped me wrap them and picked out the gift tags for each gift. Family: Hone up your acting skills so you can pretend it is the best gift you have ever, ever received - K?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What does Santa Do at Your House?


I only ask because I have been up to the wee hours wrapping several nights this week. Dave and I have clashed on how the Santa/Gift Giving traditions should be handled with our kids now that Chase is getting old enough to remember. Mainly because our parents had different approaches and we each kinda like the way we each had it as kids. (Creatures of habit, we are.) So, at Dave's house, gifts did not appear under the tree until Christmas Eve. Then, when he came down Christmas morning there was a mountain of presents (all wrapped), there for the taking. (I am not kidding about the mountain... I have seen the pictures. He got more presents than my sister, brother and I did: COMBINED!) He vividly remembers the excitement of thinking "SANTA WAS HERE!!!"


In my house, there were loads of presents under the tree and Santa left us each only ONE big gift, unwrapped, and sitting out for us to enjoy when we wandered down to the tree wayyyy tooo early every Christmas morning. My parents weren't dumb. They were hoping that the distraction of our big Santa present would buy them at least another hour in bed before the chaos of Christmas began.

So, I guess I can see how all the presents showing up overnight does contain a certain WOW factor for the kids. I get that. But, I personally enjoy having the presents out for all to enjoy. In years past, I have put a lot of effort into wrapping, hand-stamping gift tags, & coordinating ribbons and bows. But, what is the point if they aren't going to sit out for a couple weeks for everyone to view? (By everyone, I really mean ME. I think I am the only one who actually appreciates my craftiness! Plus, who actually comes over and looks at our presents??) I also grew up in a house where the gifts under the tree were actually an extension of the holiday decorating. After a few years, we eventually even wised up to the fact that the elaborately decorated gifts propped in front of the all the others were actually decoys that started appearing under the tree year after year after year. (I must get it from my mom!)

Anyway, this year, since Dave got HIS way - I am not getting fancy with the wrapping! They are plain and boring and ready to be destroyed!! "So, Santa gets ALL the credit???" I asked Dave. Humph.... that hardly seems fair to me. Santa apparently gives all the gifts to the kids... none are from Mom & Dad. I do think that if DAVE had to wrap the Santa gifts, he may decide that they don't really need wrapping. Frankly, most toys are a pain the ASS to wrap! Why can't they be in a box that has all four sides. The big gaping hole in the side of every toy box presents an interesting challenge when trying to wrap them. Oh well.... guess I should get back to the wrapping instead of complaining about it... hee hee!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Cheer!!!

This is the view out of my back door this morning. It is still coming down. HARD! I guess we are going to be stuck inside until Daddy comes home and finds the driveway again for us ;)

Do you see my little helper hanging the ornaments for me? Just kidding..... he is actually trying to take them all off!

My little budding photographer. Monkey see - Monkey do!!
I got some fabulous cards yesterday in the mail. The one above gets The Cutest Card of the Year Award! My friend Melissa MADE it. They are SOWN together... seriously, can you get any craftier??? You pull the tag out, and there is a photo of her, and her husband, and precious doggy, Tanner! I am so impressed.
The Funniest Card Award goes to my friend Mary Anne. I had a good laugh at this one. I did get her permission to post this...so she wouldn't KILL me ;) I don't know how she got her husband on board for this photo??? Dave would have objected... STRONGLY I am sure ;)


And the last couple photos are from Kelsey's 2nd Birthday party that we went to on Wednesday. She is the cutest thing!! The party was so much fun.... and the BEST part was getting to see our friend's the Larkowski's who moved to San Diego, CA in August. Their move was devastating for Chase and I since we lost a couple of our best friends. They are in town for a visit and Chase was so pumped about seeing Joshie again. Of course, when we got there - he would barely even say "HI." Figures :)


Kelsy - The Birthday Girl!

Troy, Tiff, Joshie and Natalie.
Natalie and Joshie have grown up so much since we saw them last!

Chase got home from the party and devoured the Goody Bag.... all the candy was gone before I could intervene. That combined with the giant cupcake he ate at the party gave him quite a sugar high!! Then he decided that the balloons made good head wear - don't you think? (Keep in mind that he was hopped up on SUGAR!)




Alright! I think that is it for my random photos of the last couple days.

Hope everyone survived the giant snow storm!!!

PS. I added some of my favorite obnoxious Christmas songs. My sis said she never heard Dominic the Donkey. That is tragic!!! So, I had to share ;) And of course, the Hippo song has been a family favorite for years. Don't get my mom started singing it - she doesn't STOP - HA!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We're BAAAA-ACK!

First night, watching the sunset in Lahaina. Lahaina is the cutest little surfer town with tons of shops and restaurants.

Dave and I went to a Old Lahaina Luau the second night. The entertainment was amazing, the food was delicious and we enjoyed chatting with all the people at our table.


We loved hanging out by the pool and taking lots of walks along the path in Ka'anapali Beach. It was the most beautiful little walkway. Lots of people, even some twice our age, shamed us as they jogged by. Seriously, who exercises on vacation??? (Auntie!!)
I think Dave would have spent every day at the pool if he could have! By day three though, I was ready to go exploring. We took the infamous "Road to Hana!" It was quite a drive, with the sharpest, curviest roads up through the mountains. Thank god neither of us are prone to car sickness! There are lots of places to stop and see water falls (see the one behind us over there) and watch as the waves crash over the lava rocks. It was a long day, but one of the most beautiful rides I have ever been on!! I am not sure how, but I convinced Dave that we should take a helicopter ride. It was AWESOME! We went up to see the volcano Haleakala. Then we cruised over the coast line near the town of Hana. Then we went into the mountains. It was amazing!!!






Our last day, we went over to Honolulu and toured the Pearl Harbor Memorial.


We are sooooo happy to be home. I know, I know.... I realize it is a whopping 8 degrees here in frigid Chicago... but, well... there is no place like home. After about 35 hours of traveling yesterday, it was such a relief to walk in the door (WITHOUT OUR LUGGAGE) and see our little guys that we missed so much! We did have a GREAT time... how could you not? Maui is the most beautiful place I have ever been. It was beyond words..... BUT, It was harder than I thought it would be to be away from my little guys. I felt like a row boat without my oars.... I just didn't know what to do with myself. I longingly looked at EVERY single little kid that crossed our path and thought... Why didn't we bring OUR kids with us??? Then I looked at the mom who chased behind and realized how grateful I was for the time away, a much needed break.... but, I still missed them like crazy. We were both suffering from lots of guilt by the end of our trip. Thank goodness they were in very capable hands while we were gone. We can't thank Grandma Jackie and Aunt Donna, Uncle Art and Auntie Beth for watching the little guys in our absence. What a gift they have given us!!!

Anyway, I included a few of the 600 photos that I took on our vacation. I would elaborate more but Dylan is napping, and I am in desperate NEED of a shower. When did I even last shower??? Maybe our luggage will arrive shortly???? Here's to hoping!!

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I wanted to add a couple things before I forget.
We got our luggage shortly after I posted this - YES!
One big miraculous thing happened on vacation. Dave ate FISH!!! And LOVED it!
The first night, I ordered Mahi Mahi and he ordered a steak (typical for us.) After tasting his and then tentatively tasting mine, he realized the error of his ways. Fish is AWESOME in Hawaii. Steaks are just so-so..... we do live in Chicago, the steak capital of the world. So, it is hard to compete with the Midwest in the meat department. But, lets just say that Hawaii rules in the fish department. Throughout the week we both ordered some of the best fish dishes we have ever tasted. Yummmmmm :)

And, I forgot to add that after making our LONG trip to the little town of Hana, we were taking photos and ran into a very nice couple from North Carolina. It didn't take Dave long to figure out that we were chatting with.... Tony Eury Jr. (For the Non-Nascar fans out there: He is Dale Earnhart Jr's Crew Chief and cousin.) That just made Dave's whole day. He was beyond excited. Tony was really cool and chatted with us for about 20 minutes.