Saturday, January 31, 2009

Daniel didn't hear it, really!

Hanna was asleep on the sofa this afternoon, while I was packing for the kids to spend the night with my sister tonight. I'd been running around all day, doing laundry, so Daniel's new pj's were washed so he could take those, painting our "chow box", making scalloped potatoes for the dinner following a funeral at our church this evening, and.. getting ready to attend the funeral. I could NOT find Hanna's shoes for church in the morning, and John said, "wake her up and ask her." Yeah, that'd be productive. She'd say, "I don't know." And, if I told her to go look, she'd stand in the doorway to her closet and say "I can't find them." Simply because they didn't jump up and land in her hands! It is against her nature to bed down and search. Yes.. search, because at the moment her closet is a disaster area! I told John, "I'm sure they're in her closet, but it looks like her dresser barfed in there!" John laughed, and asked Daniel, who was sitting on his lap quietly, "Did the dresser barf in Hanna's closet?" Daniel replied "I didn't hear it. Really, Mommy, I didn't hear the dresser barf!" Well, that broke my frustration level anyway, and threw a tremendous amount of humor into the mix! The kids had been asking since the moment they woke up, "Is it time to go to Caity's?" They were so looking forward to a sleep over with my sister, and their 9 year old cousin, Caity!

John and I took advantage of the evening without children, and rather than attending the meal after the funeral we attended for our dear, departed friend Rick, we decided to go out to eat. I've been wanting shrimp, so we went to Cedar River Seafood. It was very good, and I now have a new favorite place for stuffed mushrooms. They're stuffed with crabmeat and cheese, and dipped in batter and fried! MMmmmmm... so good! I ordered the fried shrimp, with baked potato and okra and tomatoes. It's always a treat for me to get okra and tomatoes, because no one else in my family will eat them! John ordered his favorite seafood dish, stuffed flounder. He commented that it was good, however, he's had better flounder. Personally, I'm not a fan of flounder. This evening worked out very well for us, because Monday, February 2nd, is our 7th wedding anniversary. I'd mentioned earlier in the week, the possibility of going out to dinner Monday, but John was less than thrilled with the idea for Monday, since he's been working long days, and Monday will be no exception. His suggestion was for Sunday, to which I reminded him it was SUPERBOWL. Hello! I was a little surprised he didn't realize, since we met Superbowl weekend 8 years ago, and were married Superbowl the following year! By the way, I'd originally planned our wedding date to be the weekend after the Superbowl, but that was the year of 9/11, thus the football schedules were delayed a week, and they seemed to have kept that extra week in there ever since. One more reason I am personally against Al Qaida! They messed up my anniversary date forever! Thanks alot, now I'm always competing with the Superbowl! John offered up Sunday after church, and I reminded him how close the restaurant was to THE Baptist Church in Middleburg, and suggested Sunday after church was not the best time to try THE seafood restaurant in town. Agreed, so we went this evening, and we both give it TWO THUMBS UP!

It was nice to sit with my husband and have a normal conversation during dinner, without interruption. Except for the lady, who continued to walk by our table while talking on her cell phone. She didn't want to be rude, and sit at her table with her family while on the phone, so instead, she walked back and forth past our table. Yeah, that's much better. RUDE! I wasn't moving the salt and pepper shakers out of reach, and taking away sweetener packets away from busy hands. I didn't have to remove all the silverware bundles quickly as we sat down, didn't have to remind anyone we were in public, and appropriate behavior was expected.. (John was on his good behavior tonight). My thoughts halfway through a sentence were not interrupted by comments on other people in the restaurant, or decor on the wall, or anyone telling me what the other person at the table is doing!

I brought up that my friend Kathy had asked if I wanted to play pre-service music together, but I'd suggested playing might aggravate the back and neck pains I'd been having all week. John looked at me, and said.. "you haven't scheduled your audition yet, have you?" I said, No, between the computer crashing and my neck pains, I hadn't gotten around to sending that email yet. He said, "you're making excuses. You're afraid of the audition aren't you?" I said, "yes, I am afraid of the audition, and I'm afraid of the idea of sitting within an orchestra again, and maybe realizing I'm not all that, and I'm a has-been." John told me, my excuses were all good ones, but excuses none the less. I said, "It's a really long drive over there to JU. That's one more commitment during the week, plus practice time." John's reply, "More good excuses. But you're still just giving me excuses." Finally I conceded, and said, "yes, they are all excuses, and I'm just afraid of the entire thing!" Is it really a matter of the drive, and the additional commitment? Or, is it a matter of truly being afraid of playing in a group again? I don't know. If it's the fear, how do I reel it in and tame it? I don't know. Once again I go back to the difference of being a 38 year old mother of two children, versus the naivety of being 18 years old, and not a worry in the world. This was so easy 20 years ago!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Music to my ears...

I made the trip over to JU yesterday morning, to observe the master class with The Jupiter String Quartet. It was enjoyable, and took me back to my college days 20 years ago. I remembered what it was like to attend master classes, but I also realized I had been away from my musical college experience as long as these kids had been living! Suddenly I felt kinda old! I wasn't sitting with the students this time, I was sitting among the gray hairs! (Which by the way, I found one when I got home!)

The class was constructed around performances by three student groups, a string quartet from UNF, a trio of violin, piano and cello from Douglass Anderson School of the Arts, and a string quartet from JU. Interestingly, the cello from DA was also the cellist that played with the JU "Honors" quartet. I guess he does double duty. Each group played a piece that they've been working on one time through. Then, the Jupiter members jumped into the scene and discussed parts of the piece. They broke it into small sections, asking the players where they thought the phrase was headed, or what was the peak of the phrase, or had they discussed what the mood of the piece was, things of this nature. I couldn't help reflecting back on my days as a student and thinking, they're most likely just aiming to get through it and play well! I was amazed how an area that sounded weak to start, after a few minutes of discussion could grow into such a strong part of the piece with little coaching. It was great to watch these kids grow in their performance, and remember what it was like to be where they were.

After the three groups played, we took a small intermission, then the group Jupiter String Quartet played a few pieces they were playing today at the Cummer. Watching them, I felt myself on the verge of giggling out loud. I was amused at the animation they displayed while playing, and thinking in retrospect, a string player that doesn't move, is not really a very good player typically. The better players are usually big swayers! They were playing a piece by Mendelsohn, and when written, the composer was a very young 17 years old! The piece, as they described it, had an inner urgency, as only a 17 year old could experience. Listening to the music, and watching them play, you could almost see the mood of the piece. I could actually imagine the music rolling around the inner lines of the quartet. As the music passed one particular phrase from one instrument to the other, as if a discussion, you could see the music moving from one instrument to the other. I wonder if it is with maturity of the last 20 years, that I can now see the intensity of the music.

After the class, I chatted a bit with Jeanne, the lady that was gracious enough to forward me information regarding this class. Jeanne is a violinist with the JSO, and holds a prelude chamber music summer camp at JU, and assists young players in the community find a match to play with. She had given me the contact information for Margie, the lady that conducts the JU Orchestra, and a few months ago I'd tried, as well as Jeanne tried on my behalf, to make a contact for me to begin playing with this group. Well, it turns out Margie had a death in the family, and the chaos that seems to follow for a month or so, and my correspondence fell to the wayside. Anyway, I asked Jeanne if she thought it would be appropriate for me to approach Margie today, and she said.. YES, talk to her! So, I made my way over to her, only to find a very rushed woman, who said, yes, she did remember my email, explained the last few months, and said she was really rushed at the moment, could I please send her another email. She also said, as a "formality" and to keep it "fair", she'd want an audition consisting of a prepared solo excerpt, such as a Bach piece, and maybe some sight reading. Okay, no problem...

No problem, until reality set in on the way home, and I realized it's been 20 years since I've had to do an audition. I haven't performed onstage with a group in 20 years. I haven't sat in an orchestra, and read through music in 20 years! These kids, that I'm going to be sitting among, are younger than it's been since I've played in this environment. I don't have a portfolio of pieces that I'm working on, I'll have to do some digging to find something I can play in a reasonably short period of time! I'm now that "old" person sitting within the orchestra filled with kids! I was talking to John last night in bed, and told him, the whole idea of it is exciting, but scares me to death! I used to crank out auditions like a robot! Didn't give them any thought. That's how these kids think. I haven't done this in forever, and it's a whole different game now. "Back then", I was 18 years old, no one in the world to think about but me, school was my job! I didn't have to worry about taking the only family vehicle, and leaving my husband and kids home alone to fend for themselves for dinner and bedtime, while I went to rehearsals. Performing was no big deal. It's what I did. Now, well, now it's different. I have to work practice time into my life, rather than practice time being my life! I have to work it around bath and bedtimes, fixing dinner for the family, and of course, working a full time job! It's something I have to embrace if I want to continue to grow my musical ability back to where it was 20 years ago, but I have to say, it's rather intimidating. Guess I'll have to grab that tiger by the tail!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Speed, I am Speed!

I couldn't help but to laugh, and say this phrase as I walked past the sofa in my living room this evening. "Speed, I am speed". Daniel hasn't been feeling well all week, as most of you know, and this evening he crashed. Yesterday, he stayed home with me, and returned back to his preschool today. He had stayed home Tuesday, went half the day Wednesday, and stayed home Thursday, so he returned today all day. He seemed to have had a good day, and ate his dinner very well; even had seconds. After dinner, we decided since we had left over firewood from our camping trip, not to mention it just wasn't bone chilling cold tonight, that we would make a fire out back, and enjoy roasted marshmallows. Mmmm, they were good. When enough was enough, we came inside and the kids got their baths. They thought they were all that, since they got to stay up late! They'd been watching Zach & Cody, then I heard Phineus and Pherb, and thought if they stayed up later, maybe, just maybe they'll sleep past 7:00 tomorrow morning. So, when Hanna came down the hall to my computer (gasp, I was on the computer again?) and asked if they could stay up, since there's no school tomorrow, I easily agreed! I heard whispering in the living room "we get to stay up late!". Couldn't help but chuckle. Not twenty minutes later, I heard John come inside from extinguishing the final embers of the fire, and saw him carrying Hanna off to bed, wrapped up in her blanket, arms dangling without response. Yup, they were asleep. I moved towards the living room to assist, and we stood there and laughed at Daniel. John and I looked at each other, and both said, "Speed, I am speed! Not!" Those are his Lightning McQueen pj's!

That little boy, I do believe, was in an attempt to set a record for getting into trouble this week while at home. At one point, I went into the living room, and saw the "junior chair" from the dining room table now sitting next to the kitchen counter, and there was my four year old son, standing on top of my kitchen counter, reaching up with his hand on the cup that holds scissors and nail clippers on top of the refrigerator. This occurred DURING a conference call and live meeting with a co-worker, and I had to excuse myself as I went to check on the noises I was hearing from the other room that didn't quite sound normal! That boy!

Daniel made me laugh yesterday afternoon, as we sat in the line at parent pick up waiting for Hanna. He said, "can we play flower darlin?" I said, "What?" He replied, "flower darlin, Mommy! You know, the one you just bought on the cd!" Oh, okay, Delta Dawn. A few weeks ago, as Daniel was taking a bath, he asked what the word on the shower faucet said. I said "Delta", and went into song.. singing "Delta Dawn, What's that flower you have on?" I got it stuck in my head so much, that I searched for it on itunes, and found an album of Tanya Tucker from the early 80's, including Delta Dawn. We have since played this cd likely 5 times a day, mostly this one track. He knows all the words to the refrain, and if you ask him, and his mood is conducive, he may just sing it for you... "Delta Dawn, what's that flower you have on, could it be a faded rose from days gone by? And did I hear you say, he was a meetin you here today, to take you to his mansion in the sky hi..." That is his favorite track, followed by "We got trouble" also on this album.

Tomorrow I am off on a venture on my own. Months ago, I contacted a lady that boasted matching string players with playing partners. She tried to no avail to get me in touch with a woman who coordinates the JU Community Orchestra. This lady has yet to respond to any emails I've sent, and my original contact did not have a phone number. So, she suggested then that I attend this "Master Class" in January, and hope to be in contact with Marguerite, the lady that handles the orchestra. There is a String Quartet that will be playing Sunday at the Cummer Museum, that will be offering a preview of their performance tomorrow morning at JU, as well as a quartet from JU, and possibly another group. My hopes are that I can finally make contact with Marguerite and discuss the possibility of playing with the community orchestra. It will be interesting. John will be left home alone (NOT WORKING) with the kids until shortly after noon, and without a vehicle. He assures me, if anything were to happen, he always has his work truck. As you may recall our 2nd vehicle, the silver bullet (old diesel truck) was limping and hopping over New Year's weekend, and has yet to be diagnosed, let alone fixed!

I toyed with the idea of not going, but John said, "If you don't go, you'll be kicking yourself for months. Just do it!" My friend Lauren said today, "it's alone time! How often do you get alone time? Do it!" But, I managed to finally get in touch with an old friend this week, and was hoping to actually go visit her over in Mandarin this weekend. I haven't seen my sister since New Year's, and the 14th was Caitlyn's birthday, and I'd really like to give her the gift I have for her. And last but not least, we're going over to my mother in law's house for dinner on Sunday afternoon, as it is my brother in law's birthday. There's so much going on, and a trip all the way over to JU will be quite the time consumer, which I could use for other things. There's just too much! You see why I go camping, nothing to worry about! In the end, I believe I will head over to JU. Lately, I've been less motivated to play my viola, since my normal accompanist at church is on a break, concentrating on finishing up his college courses. I need to find the motivation and enthusiasm again within myself, and then I can pursue other avenues with other people, like my good friend and beautiful piano player Kathy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Highlights of our O'Leno trip this weekend...

This is a picture of John and the kids sitting on the steps going up to the old sign about the town of Old Leno, now called O'leno.

Daniel waits on the shore for his dog to bring back the stick that she fetched for him out of the river. Good Dog!

Note the frozen bubbles in the dish soap bottle...

This is a picture of the swinging bridge, suspended by cables over the Sante Fe River.

So many things going on today!

Ever had one of those days it was so bad, it was funny? Today was one of those days!

The good news is, I got my "new to me" laptop! Not brand new, in fact, it belonged to someone that "just left the company". That's not good, and I'm not happy to be getting this laptop under those circumstances.. if you catch my drift. The UPS man drove up in front of the house right about 10:00am! Yay! Until I got to the door.. uh oh! He's standing there with an overnight box with the corner ripped out of one end. I said.. That can't be good! He said, "you need to make sure everything's in here. They gave it to me this way at the depot." Are you kidding me? It's a laptop dude! What'd they do, play hockey with it? Use it to scrape ice off their window?? Thankfully, nothing was missing.. it had a laptop and a power cord.. that's all I needed! I was a little worried about turning it on.. thinking, "will it work? This hole in the box can't be good!" I got it turned on, played around with it, finding out how to get into Outlook without connecting to the internal VPN.. I hate using the VPN, it's so slow sometimes, and if I'm in and out of a client vpn, it takes too long to get my emails! Blah blah.... work talk...sorry. So, I loaded up AIM, and was IM'ng (instant messaging) a co-worker, when the screens went blank! Both the laptop and my second monitor! Oh no! And the red battery light was flashing, then NOTHING.. this can't be good! No! I quickly picked up the phone, and called Mark.. "Mark, the battery is bad, and this laptop just shut off. Will it not work with a dead battery? Can you send me another battery?" He said, "I can't believe the battery's bad. That's weird. Is the green light on on the power cord/charger?" Huh? What? Oh, the power cord.. let.. me.. look... OMG! Mark, I'm such an idiot! (not quite what I called myself, but there are some people I wouldn't want to offend with what I really said!...dumb@..) I didn't plug it in! The battery died! Oh my gosh! Mark, let me plug it in, I bet it will work!" Hmm... will you look at that! My friend that I was IM'ng was on AIM still while I was on the phone.. she's im'ng me.. ROFL.. LMFAO.. You're such a dork! I'm crying! I can't believe you didn't plug it in!" Gee, thanks Lauren! Like I wouldn't have made fun of her too! Getting a laptop loaded with Vista really threw me for a loop. Not only do I have to reload everything I need to work with my clients.. ie, their vpn profiles, their versions of our software.. and finding their ip addresses so I can access their databases.. logging into my live meetings, and I thought I had to establish all my settings in Outlook, but God Bless Mark, he did it for me! The live meeting stuff! I couldn't read half the stuff on the screen, because the font seemed to small.. and I couldn't for the life of me figure out HOW to fix it! Everything is so new! It's so hard! Not to mention, it's just cold outside, and rather chilly in my office, and my fingers were NOT working well today. So, I'm trying to adjust to a new keyboard and working with cold fingers!

I worked on my computer set up all day.. the dog really wanted to go for a walk today.. but it was cold! When I dropped the kids off at school, it was 24 degrees. When I picked Daniel up at 2pm (the school called, his fever was back, and he was feeling crummy) their was ICE on the fountain by one of the subdivisions we drive by. Ice at 2pm ... hanging from the fountain like icicles! Did I mention I live in Florida?? What's wrong with this picture? I heard a little from the backseat.. there was ice on the fountain Mommy! I know! What's up with that? Side note.. the fountain is a big point of interest at Villages of Fireside, because often times there are bubbles in the fountain.. on purpose yes, but not intended by the HOA I'm sure! Most likely a regular prankster! My kids love to see it!

When I was headed out to get Daniel, I was trying to call my friend to see if she was going to pick up her son (if he went to school today, he's sick too!), and if she was I was going to beg her to please pick up Hanna. With all the many things going not so well, my phone didn't want to cooperate either. I pushed buttons, and nothing! I had to turn it off, wait.. turn it back on. It would almost work.. then.. not. Ugh! It's not an easy, regular phone! It's a Motorola Q, and had all kinds of stuff on it, much like a Blackberry. I was beginning to feel technologically challenged or cursed today! So, Daniel and I went through the parent pick up, and got Hanna! That was fine. He seemed to recover quickly in the truck, once Hanna joined us, so I don't think he was all that sick.. but, he's staying home tomorrow, just the same. To rest!

I did get my picture loaded from this past weekend down at O'leno, and will post shortly... I had a meeting, the weekly meeting our company has.. but they added live meeting invitations.. so, not only a call in.. but join the meeting online too! The normally 15 minute meeting, went an hour! I was glad I got Daniel early, since I wouldn't have been able to leave on time to get him, and John was working late today. The kids were going crazy around the house. You'd think they'd been loaded up on sugar or caffeine or something! They couldn't seem to calm down! The meeting was going way over, the kids were driving me nuts, and I was juggling cooking spaghetti sauce and noodles while doing all these things. I had to leave the house at 6:30 at the latest!

I originally had scheduled tonight a meeting with our AIG "guy" to discuss what we may still have with his company, and the church called the other day to ask about a choir practice. Sure I'll be there. Hung up.. Oh no! The meeting with Tim! John said, "just reschedule Tim, he won't have anything good to say, he can wait a day." Standing in choir this evening, my mother in law asked.. "is John in the fellowship hall with the kids?" Huh? What? No, he's not here. She said, "are the kids over there?" What? SHOOT! I forgot! There was a pioneer meeting tonight scheduled at 6:30, and it never crossed my mind, although I fully intended on us attending the meeting! Aw man! One more thing not working in my favor today! Oh well, what are you going to do?

So, I'm going to work on posting pictures, and tomorrow I'll work through navigating around in Vista! What fun!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

They sell grapes at Winn-Dixie!

Daniel informed me a little while ago, that they sell grapes at Winn-Dixie, and asked could we buy some. He said, "I saw them at Winn-Dixie when Daddy and me bought chocolate, and I really want some grapes. Can we buy some grapes?" How can I turn that request down? I said, "Sure, we can buy grapes. We have to go buy some stuff for dinner later, so we'll get some grapes too!"

Daniel is home today, as he was running a fever yesterday. This morning, his temperature was lingering around 99, and the "rule" is if a child has a fever within 24 hours, they're supposed to stay home. Since my laptop died this weekend, I was forced to cancel my live meeting with a client this morning, not to mention, she sent me an email saying she wanted to watch the inauguration rather than attend my boring old meeting! No problem! So, Daniel and I are just hanging out doing mommy/boy stuff!

So, we're off to the store, and we'll post more as our life gets exciting later, as it always does!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Children are not human...

Well, that's what Daniel said! Hmm... maybe he's on to something! He also said, "when I'm a person, like Daddy, I'm gonna smoke!" He said that with quite the grin on his face! I said, "You smoke, and I'll kick your butt! ...and I don't care how big you are by then!"

So, we returned a day early from our camping trip. We left Saturday afternoon, around 12:30, and made it to our campsite by 2pm. It wasn't the best campsite, that's for sure! It was very tight getting into the spot, and the giant rock to the right of the driveway made it necessary to navigate with great caution! There were also a few rocks in the campsite, which we found often as we stumbled over them. John and I rearranged things to our liking, mostly the picnic table, putting to the back of the site, rather than near the front. So, how was our trip? Well, the scenery was beautiful! We went to O'leno State Park, over in High Springs. Within this park is another state park, River Rise. Both are springs that feed into the Sante Fe river. If I can find the cord to my camera, I'll try to load them into this pc in a day or so.(that will be a story later on...) It was a little chilly during the day Saturday, but we managed to survive. We had a nice fire in the evening, and as promised the kids got to enjoy roasted marshmallows! Mmm... After we had dinner (hot dogs & beans) the kids were ready for a shower! They were so excited! They had seen the shower stalls earlier in the day, and hey, they had a handicapped stall which had a handheld shower and a seat! Cool! Their enthusiasm left them quickly as they each got a shower in the freezing bathroom! You know when the tile is so cold, it makes your feet hurt? Yeah.. that cold! Both of them hurried through getting dressed and ran back to the warm camper with the heated mattresses and space heater running! While packing Saturday morning, I was lazy and really didn't want to unplug our electric blanket and pack it in the camper, so I convinced John we'd be fine with a blanket and comforter along with the heated mattress on our bed. Not! We were sooo cold! I woke up Sunday morning with such a headache from staying tense all night! When we camp, I rarely sleep the first night, so I was awake.. and of course, the longer I lay there, I think.. I have to go to the bathroom. I really have to go to the bathroom. Then, finally.. I really have to go! Ugh! I told John, who was awake at this time too (somewhere around 11:45), "I have to pee!" to which he replied, "Have a nice time!" I entertained the idea, jokingly of course, that if I laid there and did it, it would at least warm the bed up for a few minutes! Haha. No, I got up, and grabbed my trusty "luggable loo" that sits outside the door at night, and sat their shivering in convulsions, just as the kids did during their showers! I jumped into bed, and slammed myself up against John who was toasty warm.. sort of. We all woke up around 7:30 Sunday morning, and got up and made breakfast. This trip, we decided to make french toast and sausage on the griddle. Mmm.. it was good, however, Daniel was so cold, he decided he didn't want to eat it all, and wanted to back to his warm bed and inside the camper! It was so cold when we woke up that there was ice on the dogs water bucket, and ice crystals in the bottle of dish soap. The kids laid on their bed and watched a movie while John and I cleaned up breakfast, and put together the chili that was going to cook all day in the crockpot!

Finally, we went for a hike around 11am, and the sun was warming things up. They didn't have a detailed map of the campground/park when we checked in, but gave us a hiking trail map. Sketchy at best! Well, what appeared to be a "quick hike" to the hiking trail from our campground ended up being a mile and a half itself! We decided once we finally made it to the park area/hiking trail to let the kids play at the playground, then we'd go across the suspension bridge (VERY AWESOME!) across the river, and we'd take the shortest trail, the "river trail" which was a 1.62 miles, and then we'd walk back. We were really wishing on our walk back that we'd driven to the start of the trail to start with! While down at the river, we let the dog swim. I know, you're thinking.. it was cold! She's a lab, and she loved it! We threw a stick that she chased into the river multiple times. This was her first real experience swimming. However, the one time she jumped in and was completely submersed, she quickly came back to the shore and sat for a few minutes. We laughed and thought that must have scared her a bit! We figured she was 'safe' in the water, free from risk of alligators, being that it was so cold, however, it wasn't until we returned to the campground, and John read the pet rules, that stated pets were not allowed in the waters at all in a state park. Oops! Oh well, she had fun, and it was a blast watching her. After what seemed like a ten mile hike, but was really only 1-1/2 miles, we headed back to the campground. The kids were whining that their feet hurt and they were tired, to which we responded, we were well aware, and our feet hurt as well! Finally, I told John to hang back with the kids, and the dog and I put it into double time, returned to the campsite, and got the truck!

After our hike, we ate the chili, which was very good after such a long hike. John and I sat there thinking it was getting too windy to have a fire, and thinking without a fire, it was going to be pretty chili (no pun intended). We also discussed the possibility of rain Monday morning, and both simultaneously agreed we could pack up and go home early! Our choices were pack up when it was still somewhat warm, or wait til morning when it would be cold and wet! We chose to pack in warmth! We were home by 7:00 Sunday evening!

This morning we were thinking were definitely glad we left early, especially since we had so much laundry to do. Daniel once again seemed to be getting sick, but seemed better for awhile. He returned home around 2pm, from playing with friends, saying he was tired. He laid down for a nap, and when he woke up was sporting a fever of 102. Hmm... guess he's sick! Motrin, quick! John and I both agreed we were tired as well, and very glad we came home early!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It was a peaceful bedtime tonight...

The kids made all kinds of noise getting their bath, but afterwards, things quieted down nicely. They decided to spend the remaining 45 minutes watching a movie. Daniel's pick tonight, and he chose Monsters, Inc. Good Choice! When it was time for bed, Hanna was asleep on Daniel's bed, so John moved her. Daniel and I goofed around a bit, he let me take some pictures and said his prayer while I videoed. Hope you enjoy!

His "Lightning McQueen" pj's always make me laugh. First, because I think "footy" pajamas are the cutest things ever, and I wish I had a pair, and could wear them without sweating in them. Second, when he's fallen asleep on the couch in them, or just looking really pooped, I can't help but hear the phrase "Speed, I am speed!". It makes me laugh to associate that with the sleeping child!

I can relax now that the light went away!

I can relax now, that the light in the truck is gone! The light that said.. low tire pressure! I'd checked the owner's manual and found the 'idiot light' that I was seeing, and it said it was a low tire pressure indicator. Even knowing that, I thought perhaps I still didn't see it correctly, and there was more wrong with the truck. That would not be a good thing, to have something wrong with MY truck, since John's is already sitting in the backyard, "lame", and definitely not drivable! So, I made the stop this morning at Wal-Mart, and had them change the oil (I didn't dare tell them the last time I had the oil changed was there, but I'm sure they figured it out!), and they changed the air filter, which the guy told me was filthy, and I asked him to please check the tires since this light was haunting me. They took care of it all, and now it runs quietly, as if it were new again! I hope to be better about future truck maintenance issues!

While in Wal-Mart, I didn't see any "unisex" shoppers as I had the other day when I had Daniel with me, and he so loudly pointed it out, but instead I ran into one of Hanna's school friends' mother. I like Amy very much, but I really hate it when I run into people when I'm out dressed like a bum! I threw on a pair of sweat pants this morning, and had a fleece pullover shirt as well, no make-up, which is usually the case these days, unless I've been to church or the doctor's office, and I skipped washing my hair last night! Eeek! I was standing near the toys, browsing the ones from Christmas marked as "clearance", and I heard a voice say... "Hi, Miss Suzanne". Yikes! I looked up, and there was Amy and her soon to be 3 year old daughter Anna Beth! I felt a little better seeing that she too was wearing sweats and a tee shirt, and I couldn't really tell if she was wearing make up or not. She's one of those people who is blessed with a beautiful ivory complexion, and could get away with minimal makeup, and you'd never know it! Her daughter Caroline is in Hanna's kindergarten class. This is a fun side story; there used to be a family at our church, that has a daughter named Anna. Hanna and Anna's birthdays were only 3 days apart, and they were both very much drama queens! The Thursruds moved away a little over a year ago, to Savannah. Derek is in the Coast Guard. Caroline's father is also in the Coast Guard, and they just moved here I think this past summer, and came from Savannah. Amy said yes, they are very familiar with Anna and her parents, and that the two girls played together on occasion, during Coast Guard get togethers! Small World! Caroline is considered to be one of Hanna's 'best friends'. I love that!

In talking with Amy at the store, I was sharing with her that we'll be camping in the freezing temperatures this weekend. I also told her that I had made reservations for spring break up in Georgia. She asked me where, and I told her. Amy grew up in Alabama and Georgia (as you can imagine, she has a beautiful southern accent!) and was very familiar with Mistletoe State Park. She said, "I hate to tell you this, but I camped there as a child during spring break one year, and it was the coldest camping trip ever! Down to 26 degrees, and we were tent camping!" Yikes! I hope that was a freak thing! If temperatures are that cold in April, John is likely to make the 6 hour drive home early! She also mentioned that she recalled it being a beautiful place, so again, I am very much looking forward to it!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When it rains, it pours...

Yes, pun completely intended! It has been raining since some time yesterday. I woke up this morning to rain steadily coming down on the awning outside my bedroom window, and here it is nearly 1pm, and it's still drizzling! The poor dog, everytime I move towards the living room from my office she thinks I'm headed towards her leash, and follows me out with excitement, only to be let down. Hopefully tomorrow the rain will end, and it won't be too cold to go for a walk! But, this morning Hanna was happy to wear her raincoat to school, and Daniel got to carry his spiderman umbrella into his school. I wish little things like that were as exciting to me! When I spoke to John earlier today, he asked if this rain was going to stop anytime soon, and I could tell he was worried about the weather conditions for this coming weekend. As cold as it's supposed to get, it would be snowing if this rain didn't stop! He also said, as cold as it is expected to be, there was no way he was going to get in a canoe and sit on the water Sunday! We'll see about that!

After I dropped Daniel off at his school, I got back into my truck, and a light was illuminated on the dashboard that I've never seen before, and wasn't quite sure what it meant! Out of paranoia while driving home, I was certain it was running "rough", but it was difficult to hear because of the rain hitting the windshield. I kept hoping I wasn't messing anything up by continuing to drive it home. I'm way overdue on the oil change, so I was afraid my lapse in judgement may be causing damange. When I did arrive home, the first thing I did was consult my owner's manual. This new light that I've never seen before is a tire pressure light. Kind of what I suspected, but had no clue really. I walked around the truck, and didn't notice a flat tire, so I called John and told him. He said, probably it's just a change in pressure, maybe even due to the weather change. Really? Okay, if you say so. He said, he was sure I didn't want to mess around at a gas station in the rain trying to put air in the tires, and he was right! I reminded him that if it were flat when it was time to pick up the kids, he'd be hearing from me, and I'd expect him to fix it! Even go pick up Daniel in his work truck! I've been considering all morning whether or not to run it up to Wal-Mart and let them change the oil and fix the tire pressure. However, the idea of going to Wal-Mart yet again, when I'd been there twice yesterday is really more than I feel like dealing with today, so I'll plan on doing it tomorrow morning.

The last few evenings, last night especially, Hanna has been scratching several new bug bites. It appears that the cat has been sleeping on her bed, and has left some fleas behind. It never fails, if we are beginning to get a flea problem in the house, she is the first one to suffer; and suffer she does. I think if there were a bug within 5 miles, it would seek that child out! I've washed everything on her bed, so if she's still getting bites, it's got to be from the carpet or furniture. No one else has bites. I called Fred the bug man this morning, and he will be coming out Friday afternoon. Of course, this means we have to leave the house for two to four hours while the termination occurs! This also means I have got to get the mound of clothes cleaned up in my bedroom before Friday! Oh yeah! How I love cleaning up laundry piles! That's the pile that every time someone is coming over, I throw it in there. It's my bedroom, it's behind closed doors! Or, if I've done laundry, I've "neatly" folded it, and placed it in that pile. Seems the day of reckoning has finally come for that pile of clothes! It's bad enough Fred knows I have bugs, I don't want him to think I'm a slob too! I told him about the ants, and he said now we have a contradiction. When "you" spray, it kills everybody off, so the queen ant thinks they're under attack and produces more scouts. For about a week, he said, our ants will disappear, but then they'll be back with a vengeance. His recommendation is that he sprays for the fleas, since it's the biggest concern, and it will last for 9 months, then, he'll come back in two weeks and bait for ants. He's the man with the plan... so, I'm there.

Also this morning, I got a call from our insurance agent. He's an independent agent that represents among many, American General, and wants to come by and discuss where we stand now with that company. Considering John's retirement annuity and all our life insurance policies are currently held by AG, I figured we really need to talk to him. He'll be coming by next week to discuss our options. Both Tim and I are not really looking forward to sitting down with John and discussing where our money has been going for years, and where it doesn't seem to be in our future! John is never happy with Tim when he tells him we're losing money! At least my 401K with my employer seems to be 'safe' for the time being, as I have it in a money market account with Charles Schwab. It's not a huge money maker, but it's a steady grower, and seems to be stable.

Now I just have to figure out what in the world I'm going to make for dinner tonight!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes...

Hanna came home from school this afternoon telling me all about Martin Luther (King, that is, but she forgot that part!), and all that they had learned today in class. She was telling about this man who wanted everyone to be equal, and not live separate. She said the white people were mean to the black people and treated them like elves! Okay, I had to laugh! During Christmas, I was worried about the sensitivity of the issue as she referred to Santa's helpers as slaves. I chuckled this afternoon, and corrected her, telling her black people were kept as slaves. She retained this information long enough to tell her Daddy about it at the dinner table, but said Martin Luther King wanted the people to live separate. So much history to keep straight! I hope she does better than I did in history!

I'd had one of those afternoons, when I finally decided it was time to walk away from my computer, knowing that I will be spending dreaded late hours tonight trying to correct a client problem. I decided at 4:45 it was time to get Daniel early. Hanna went to her friends house to continue playing, so this allowed me time for what I thought would be a "quick trip" into Wal-Mart to exchange the contact lenses I'd purchased on Friday. I could have sworn I used to wear Accuvue 2 lenses, but turns out they were Accuvue Oasis lenses. Twice the cost, but much more comfortable. Anyway, I stopped in this morning after dropping Daniel off at school, and the technician said she needed to consult with the doctor when he got in, to get his approval for the switch. (I swore during my exam that I couldn't wear Oasis lenses, but in fact, that's what I did wear. It was H-2-Optix that I had problems with! I hate backtracking!) I thought this would be a quick exchange at 5:00. Not the case. Instead, I sat and waited close to thirty minutes, with my very observant four year old son. Yes...I said observant. Not only did he observe that the woman being waited on look like a man, but also that she talked funny, and shouldn't be dressed like a man. If ever I've prayed for hurried service it was now! The woman was suspiciously a lesbian, and when filling out the information in the computer for her order of glasses, the question.. married, single or "other", her answer was "other". Suspicion confirmed! Now, if only Daniel would quickly learn social grace and be quiet about the situation! I finally distracted him with different displays at the counter where we were waiting, letting him look at himself in the mirror, showing him different displays of lense types, etc. Finally, it was our turn, and he was quite helpful, gathering the boxes of contacts the lady pulled for our purchase, helping her apply the "L" and "R" stickers on each box, and finally loading them into a bag for us to carry home. Out into the rain we went, and hurried to the truck. We made it home by 6:00, fed the dog, went and "gathered" Hanna from her friend's house, and came home ready to eat the delicious smelling chicken and rice casserole that had been baking in the oven during our absence. It was good, too!

I had thought during the noon news that perhaps I would be home in time to participate in the digital "check" that was going to occur at 5:25, to make sure all our tv's were DTV ready. I'm sure they will be, since we don't have any "rabbit ears" on any of our tv's, but wanted to be 100% sure. Next time, I guess..

Sunday, January 11, 2009

That darned Weather Channel!

My secret it out! John happened to have stopped on the Weather Channel during his surfing, and heard them say 25 degrees on Saturday morning. I have a camping trip planned, don't you know it, since it's a three day weekend, and the only information I had given John about the upcoming weather was that it will be quite chilly in the mornings! I heard him hollar... "Are you out of your mind? When was the last time you went camping in 25 degrees? Do you know how cold that is?" I find it somewhat ironic that the man that works outside seemingly most of the winter, is the one that hates the cold so much! I reminded him that we have an electric blanket, and heated mattresses, a space heater and a furnace that will all keep the camper toastier than I will like, but he'll be in heaven! I tired sugar-coating the weather forecast, saying they're overstating how cold it's really going to be. It won't be that cold. Anyway, we're going on Saturday morning, and staying Sunday and Monday morning. It will be warmer on those two days! I hope so! I really want to go! I have big plans.. we're going to O'Leno, and I've got plans for canoeing with the kids on the Suwannee River. This will be their first time in a canoe, believe it or not, and I was planning that we'd get two canoes. (The dog will have to stay in the camper, since I don't want to risk her flipping a canoe with the kids in it. I guess I'll just have to make promises of cooking something warm and toasty in the slow cooker, like a yummy roast or chili. Mmmmm!

Speaking of yummy food, yesterday, I started some pork neck bones in the crock pot, and threw in some potatoes and carrots and onion; the secret to awesome slow cooked pork is rosemary and thyme. By mid day, my mother in law called and offered we come over for dinner. John, Michael and good friend Mark had been working all day to get the doors in the new building finished, and didn't want to stop for lunch, so she offered up dinner for Mark. Okay, soup can wait. In fact, it's better today! After church, I went out and got some stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce, and a small bottle of cooking sherry and mixed vegetables. It's shaped up into some real hearty soup now, and in just a few minutes, we can sit down and enjoy it. I also picked up some rolls, since you can't really enjoy a good bowl of soup without good bread!

It's a very dreary day, so the kids have managed to entertain themselves indoors. Of course, much to John's dismay, they're BOTH wearing fairy dresses! John told Daniel, if you're going to wear that, stay in your room! I don't want to see it! Poor John! Daniel makes such a pretty little fairy! I have to console myself knowing that it's just a child thing, and he merely wants to be just like his big sister! The rain held off long enough, that I went out to replenish my birdfeeder, and that was when the rain decided to dump on me! The birds appreciated my efforts, that is for certain.

I got a laugh this morning in church, when Kristen, sitting behind us with her two small children, Samuel being 19 months old, and Sadie being a mere 3 months old if that. She asked me, "Is this normal? All this craziness? When will I ever hear a sermon again?" Ha! I laughed, and told her how much I enjoyed last week's sermon, with John and the kids staying home due to sickness. It was the first time I'd been able to pay attention to a sermon in over five years! Samuel was being entertained by our children, or maybe my children were being entertained by him. Whichever way it was, I asked Kristen if she thought he would sit with us. Until recently, Samuel was not one to be held by anyone other than his mom or dad, without giving a big hollar! He sat with us quite nicely, and seemed very happy to be sitting between Hanna and Daniel. As I looked at this young family behind us, I couldn't help but reflect on my own children, and tried to remember so long ago when they were so young. Kristen tries to compare our children to her own often, since the age gap is similar, hers being 15 months apart, and ours having been 19 months apart. I offered our pew for future church services, if she felt Samuel would like to sit with us, as John and I remember too well the chaos of quieting a baby and a toddler during church. Wow, it really isn't as bad as it seems "in the moment". Good luck, Kristen! It will pass!

As promised, I've posted a picture of Hanna dressed in the beautiful outfit her Godmother, Miss Tarren sent her for Christmas. I've also posted a picture that will be used during Daniel's junior high and high school years for torment... the fairies of this dreary afternoon!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I can only imagine the drama ...

Yesterday when I picked Hanna up from school, she was telling me about it before she got close enough to the truck for me to hear it! "Mommy, I pulled my tooth out!" Yay, the second tooth finally came out! Her school handles tooth loss in a really cool way. She had a little tooth shaped plastic box on a string around her neck that held her tooth! Pretty cool if you ask me! I asked her how it came out, and she said, "Caroline told me to pull it out, so I went into the bathroom and pulled it! Then, when I came out of the bathroom, I said, Miss Kelly, my tooth came out! But, Miss Kelly said, 'Class, it's just a tooth! She pulled her tooth. Calm down!'" I wasn't sure exactly what that indicated, so in an email to her teacher this morning regarding the readers that were sent home, I inquired as to the disruption the tooth caused. Mrs. Kelly commented in her email.."the tooth event was so funny! She came out of the bathroom with more excitement than I can explain, and it scared me and Mrs. Wood (the brail teacher) so bad. We thought something terrible had happened. In kindergarten, you never know. THANK goodness it was just a tooth." I'm still laughing over that one! I can only imagine the drama Hanna had going over the blood and excitement! So, the Tooth Fairy "paid" us a visit again last night, and I heard all about it at 2:00am when Hanna stood by my bed, poking my face.. "Mommy, the Tooth Fairy left me a dollar and two quarters!" I told her that was great, and please go to bed! She could show me in the morning!

You can imagine how tired I was. We'd stayed up until midnight to cheer the Gators on to another National Championship victory! Go Gators!

Tomorrow I hope to take down our Christmas decorations. I might be taking on more than I can handle with both the kids being home, and John not here.. again. He's headed down to the church early early early along with his brother Mike and good friend Mark. They're going to spray poly-eurethane on the interior doors of our new school building. Originally, Mike told John there were a "few" doors to be done. John did a walk through with him last week, and turns out, there's 14 doors to be done tomorrow. Although Mark is good, I'm not so sure they'll get all 14 doors sanded, taped off around any windows.. AND sprayed. I heard some exasperation the other day while John was on the phone with Mike, as John yelled out in a question.."Louvered? Do you know how long it will take to sand louvered door!?" Uh oh, that didn't sound good! We'll see how far they get tomorrow. I reminded John that we have reservations next weekend for camping, paid for, so if it runs over they'll have to pick up after next weekend.

The pictures of the kids show Hanna's missing teeth, and the one of Daniel, well, it just looks devilish!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kindergarten isn't what it used to be...

Well, our day got off to a better start this morning. I even had time to check on the email I sent last night to Hanna's teacher. Imagine that! These days, parents and teachers can actually communicate via email. Her teacher answered my email at 7:30, I replied, and had a final answer before we even left the house at 8:15! Hanna had her first spelling word list come home, with some instructions that apparently confused many parents. Turns out, we were missing the additional sheet of homework that was the letter "K". I'll be glad when we get past this letter! Hanna struggles with the lower case "k", and it makes her go into absolute tantrums. "It's hard! I can't do it". Well, she's right, if you sit in the chair and kick and scream without trying, you won't be able to do it! I explained to her, the way to improve is to practice. She's not loving it, and frankly, neither am I! I'll be so happy to move on, away from this horrible letter "k"! The spelling list is exciting. The words are: ran, mad (she knows that one well!) sat, lap, fast.. and a challenge word...blast. We went through them last night, and as I called them out the second time, I had her write them on the chalkboard. Not only was she practicing how to spell them, but also write them. I'm so glad there weren't any "k's" in those words! They'll have a spelling test on Friday. This is apparently preparing them for 1st grade, when the tests "count" for something. She also came home with a practice reader, labeled as "optional", to be returned to school the end of the week. It's a small book, we can sit and read it together. Kindergarten sure isn't what it was when I was there 33 years ago! We learned our alphabet, had blow up characters that we played with, might have practiced counting, coloring, we had snack time, which I recall involved a red wagon that made a trip to the lunch room, we had quiet time/nap time, and we left at noon! These kids stay all day, there's no napping, and are already reading! I don't know if I'll be up for advanced homework 10 years down the road! I was quite impressed this afternoon, when Hanna and I took the cat to the vet for his annual visit. There was a book about sharks in the office, and we sat and read it together while we waited for the vet to come into our room. She read the book pretty well, with some help. By the way, the vet let Hanna take the book home with her!

Our afternoon was fast paced, yet packed with angst! Hanna and I made it home from her school around 3:10. First order of business was a snack, which I had to remind her it was not her place to open the closet door and "help herself". I also had to reiterate, chocolate is not an appropriate "snack", it is a reward to be savored after dinner. (Shh! She doesn't know about all the candy I eat during the day! It's my secret!) After snack was taken care of, the door bell rang. Her friend from down the street was at the door, but I reminded her homework had to be done first. Kindergarten homework really isn't that difficult, nor lengthy... it's just a battle of wills! It's a 2-sided worksheet with letters of the week, that are traced and replicated, then words written that begin with the letter, and a picture of something that starts with that letter. It comes home the first of the week, and is turned in on Friday. It could be done quickly, but we have to go into absolute fits to get it completed. We battled through the side of the paper with the letters to trace and replicate.. Upper and lower case "K". The lower case being quite the struggle. About 10 minutes before 4pm, her friend Shay returned, and I said she couldn't play, because we were still working on homework, and we needed to find the cat so we could take him to the vet. Well, her attitude started to slide downhill, so that was definitely out now; going to play and all.

The cat had just happened to come in for a snack, so he was sitting on his top step of the "cat tree". Easily gathered, and placed in the carrier. Well, now we had a new kind whining and crying; the cat! He cried from the minute we put him in the carrier, until we got home with him after picking up Daniel at 5:30. The vet's office staff was quite entertained by the howling that continued to erupt from the carrier as we sat and waited for our turn. When we went into a room, the technician came in and took the cat back to the "back room". Back there, they do all the really degrading things, like a poop check for worms, draw blood, clip nails, weigh them (I guess a cat really doesn't care what he weighs, but I hate that part!) and the vet checks him over in the back without owner interruptions. Then the vet came into the room with us with our cat, and discussed any concerns. She was impressed that I told her he was such a hunter, although quite the scaredy cat that won't leave the backyard; unlike Belle, the female cat, who roams several neighbor's yards, and torments the next door neighbor's dog, Miles. I named all the gifts he brings into the house for me, including, but not limited to snakes, birds, frogs, lizards, moles, and his favorite.. grubs hidden under the dining room carpet that pop when you step on them! Eww! I explained that since he's too chicken to leave the backyard, my only concern with him is the signs of a raccoon visiting our backyard. There are raccoon footprints in the sand often in the yard. This is interesting... she told me to be careful of raccoons, because not only do they carry rabies, but they also carry parasites that are contagious to other animals as well as people. She also commented that at the University of Florida, where she is proudly an alumni (Go Gators!), they do not treat raccoons when they are brought in for "help". She said, they are so leary of treating them with the threat of parasites, that any injured raccoons are immediately euthanized. Wow! I think she was giving me a big hint.. get rid of the raccoon by any measures?? At this point, Hanna heard 'raccoon', and proceeded to tell her about the raccoon that visited our cooler over Thanksgiving. She also gave me the familiar warning, if a raccoon is approaching in daylight, stay away, it's not healthy! Our vet, being a mother of 5 children, many dogs, cats and horses on her property, is always one to put children first. The kids were her biggest concern when we still owned Jack, our yellow lab. He had aggression issues due to pain, and she strongly warned.. 'this dog is going to bite your children!' I can't help but think she was trying to tell me to find a way to get rid of our raccoon. Not sure how I'd do it, but I'll have to give it strong consideration.

By 7:15, Hanna was fast asleep on the couch in the living room, and Daniel was lying on the love seat not far from sleep himself. I put them both in bed around 8:00, John has since fallen asleep, and the cats have now taken over the couch and love seat. Mater, our male cat that went to the vet this afternoon is looking a little rough! Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day for him! I'm headed for a nice warm shower myself, then I have to put clean sheets on the bed, since I decided this morning they needed to be washed. I hate it when I forget until bedtime to make the bed! Then, I'll wake John up, and send him off to take his shower and go to bed, so we can start this fun all over again tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

To some, it may have seemed like an amusing start to the day...

John came home this afternoon, and was asking me how my day went, and how the kids did getting out of the house this morning, and Hanna making it to school once again after a two week break. I couldn't help but think, to some, it may have seemed like a rather amusing start to the day. In my shoes, it was far from amusing, at the time, anyway. I awoke to the sound of the television being turned on in the living room, and the sounds of my least favorite cartoon, SpongeBob, Square Pants. When I came out into the room, Hanna was sitting on the love seat, wearing a purple spandex leotard, and had a hair scrunchee in hand, asking me if I would please put it in her hair. I agreed to put the scrunchee, but commented that she wasn't wearing the leotard to school. She replied, "but everyone will say I look cute." Sigh. I said, "yes, you would look cute, but you're not wearing it." Okay, here we go. The moaning and complaining began. I said, it's going to be a warm day, so go get a pair of shorts, a tee shirt, and a pair of socks, and let's get dressed. She didn't make any movement in that direction, and being that it was still early enough, I wasn't concerned yet. I asked her if she'd like me to fix some of the blueberry pancakes we picked up yesterday at Wal-Mart, and that brought a smile to her face, and enthusiasm for breakfast. As I was doing that, I heard a different tone of a sneeze come from the living room, which I immediately recognized as Daniel. I asked him if he would like a blueberry pancake, and he looked bewildered, and said he wanted a waffle. His favorite breakfast! I went ahead and heated enough pancakes for both, since I could tell he didn't realize what I was talking about. Once I called them both to the table, Daniel looked over at Hanna's plate (the grass is always greener) and said, "I want to try one of those." So, I switched plates with him, me taking the waffle, him taking the blueberry pancake, just as Hanna was enjoying. Okay.. breakfast is under control!

Now it was time to start the battle of getting dressed. Daniel said.. "it's hard, I need you to help me. I'm sleepy." Already, I'm feeling exasperated, and it's only 7:40 in the morning! We got him dressed, and I went and fixed his toothbrush so he could brush his teeth. (A 4 year old with a tube of toothpaste on his own is a BAD combination! Trust me!) Moving on to Hanna. At this point, she's half on the couch, half on the floor, sprawling into some type of seizure, complaining about who knows what, and just resisting getting dressed. Finally, after both of us arguing, and her telling me.. yes, her telling me, to quit yelling at her, she finally got dressed. However, I did threaten that if she didn't take that leotard off, I would remove it, and it would be the last she saw of it! That motivated her!

Moving on, it's 8:15, we're out the door! Finally! Half way to school, the bickering over who's touching what in the car begins. Wow, I love school mornings! So much to look forward to! She's smacking Daniel's hands, yelling.. "don't touch my book." "Hanna, that's mine!" Enough already! 8:25, Hanna's dropped off, headed down 218 to turn onto Henley to take Daniel to school. The whining... "I wanted to go straight! I don't want to go this way." Oh, like I'm supposed to listen to a 4 year old backseat driver?? Not! We're going this way, besides, I want to say Good Morning to Miss Connie, the crossing guard! 8:45, got Daniel dropped off, and had a chuckle with his teacher, Miss Vickie, that he said last night he wants to have a sleep over with Mackenzie. I said, She's a girl Daniel, you can't have a sleepover with a girl." He replied without hesitation, "she can sleep in Hanna's room". His teacher laughed, and said, "Well, he's got it all figured out. Compromises!." Mackenzie is apparently a nice little girl, I've not had the pleasure of meeting her, but Daniel talks about her all the time, and says most days, "she's my bestfriend."

Finally home, and sitting at my computer, going over the day's tasks.. I hear whining in the living room! Not from a child, but the dog! She's back in the routine, and she was sitting by the leash whining! I said, let me get all this stuff settled, and we'll see what we can do. I took care of what was immediate, and went and picked up her leash. I said, "Let's go!", and she came running, bouncing through the living room!

As I was walking the dog, I was pondering, is it just me? Is there something about me that instills chaos into my morning? But, then, when I returned to my desk, a friend and co-worker sent me an IM (instant message). "It's official, I hate mornings!" She then went into her morning's chaos, with her 10 year old son, who started his new school yesterday after a big move from Illinois to Tennessee, and they seemed to have quite the morning, with just one child. So, I don't feel so bad! I guess it's going on in most households in the morning, with mothers, fathers and children. When Hanna was a baby, she used to cry all the time in the car seat, and it would put me on edge while driving. Gee, I guess some things haven't changed! Anyway, after that, I always said.. "Don't push the lady in the mini-van too far! You don't know what kind of road rage is building up inside there that she's trying to suppress!"

Monday, January 5, 2009

Good news, and bad news...

The good news, which I find very exciting, is that I booked our reservations for spring break! We're going to make that six hour drive! Once again, I say, "Thank you Jesus for DVD players! Especially the portable ones! I only hope that the weather cooperates, and that the campground is everything it appears to be online!

The bad news is, I think the germs have taken over my body, and I've caught the "crud" from John and the kids!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A few funny thoughts about my kids...

I couldn't help but laugh at lunch today with my mother in law, about a few funny things my kids have said in the last few days!

First, I was explaining to her how overly dramatic Hanna was last night and this morning regarding the Vick's vapor rub. By the way, this evening went much better, with the promise of a hot towel, and eventually I let her sit with the heating pad. Lunch's discussion lead into how different the kids are, comparing Christmas morning, and their approaches to gift receiving. Hanna nearly went into hysterics, rapidly unwrapping, and tossing aside, ready for the next one. Daniel, took his time with each gift, as if to admire the wrapping and beauty of each gift. When asked about her Christmas gifts, one of them that Hanna quickly mentions is "half a Barbie". It's a styling-head, to do hair things with, but the comment gets quite a few puzzled looks! The sarcasm in me has to say, "Yes, we could only afford half a Barbie this year. We hope to get the other half by her birthday!"

I was taken by a comment Hanna made during our walk Friday morning, when we heard a bird in a tree, making sounds. Hanna said, "what's that?" I said, it's a bird calling." Her reply was very simple, "It's beautiful." "Yes, it is, I said. I was amazed that a 5-1/2 year old would make such a statement about a bird call! And this same child that goes into hysterics at the drop of a hat. Hanna is an incredibly intelligent child, who by the way, finally mastered tying her own shoes this weekend. But, at times, this same child seems like the flakiest of girls! The kind you see on tv, and laugh about, because they just don't seem to pay attention to anything around them. Oh, how I worry about her teenage years!

During our camping trip, the kids were at the playground while we waited to get onto our campsite. Hanna came over to the picnic tables where we were sitting and stated, "That boy is 8 years old, and he was being mean to me, so I slapped him!" Excuse me? I don't know who responded more quickly, John or me. I couldn't help but think.. "don't let your mouth write a check your butt can't cash!" The song "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson comes to mind when thinking about Hanna. "let me hear the big Hell Yeah, from redneck girls like me! Hell Yeah!" Haha!

During this same trip, Thursday evening, I went to sit in my camp chair. When I got up, my butt was quite wet. I stuck my head in the camper, and asked Daniel, who was lying on his bunk watching a movie, "Did you spill your drink in my chair?" "No, I didn't." "Are you sure you didn't spill your drink, Daniel? It's okay, I would just like to know why my chair is all wet." "Umm, I think maybe an animal did it", he said. I looked back and saw John in convulsions laughing so hard, I thought he was going to fall out of his chair. I said, "Daniel, animals don't spill drinks, did you spill something in my chair?" "Well, I think maybe I did spill my drink, Mommy. It's a coke in your chair." I was thinking at lunch today, it could happen... a raccoon took a capri sun out of our cooler over Thanksgiving, and the kids saw him sitting under the truck drinking it, so why couldn't he sit in my chair and spill a drink. Guess it made good sense to Daniel, and it certainly seemed like a good "out" for him!

Last week, a neighborhood child in Hanna's kindergarten "wing" stopped while he and his mom were walking. He stayed awhile and played, and all the kids enjoyed each other's company. I heard Daniel tell this boy, "I sleep in a pull up!" The boy said, "what's a pull up?" Daniel's reply, "a pull up is a pull up!" The boy said again, "WHAT is a pull up? Is it a diaper?" Oooh, big mistake, boy! That made Daniel mad! He put his hands on his hips, and craned his little neck out, and in his most matter of fact tone, he said.. "A pull up is a pull up, it is NOT a DIAPER!" Daniel being about half this boy's size, looked like a badger at this point, and I do believe that he could have taken him on! John and our neighbor, Brad were sitting on the tailgate of the truck just laughing, and commenting how Daniel was about to open a can of whoop-ass on this boy! I think he was too!

It was a "cardinal crime" kinda day...

I couldn't believe it! When I came home from church, (the kids and John stayed home to nurse their colds) my children were STILL in their pajamas! Both of them! I got home at 2:15 in the afternoon, and MY CHILDREN were still not dressed! They'd been watching television all morning, and when it came time for a football game to start, their movie on the Disney channel wasn't over, so John put them in on our bed to watch the end of it. There they were, when I came home, sprawled out on our bed, in their pajamas watching tv. Will wonders never cease! I was actually quite relieved to know that they'd actually been resting, and not gone out to run wild in the neighborhood and get over heated. I think that was a testament to how poor they both really felt.

Going to church alone was really quite nice. It was a little funny at the start of Sunday school, there were no children for the pre-k/kindergarten group. "The Boys" weren't there, my kids weren't there (that's 5 kids right there), Sarah wasn't there, nor CJ, and no Jordyn. I think that's pretty much the lot of them in that class, and none of them were there this morning. I kept looking over my shoulder between Sunday school and worship service, thinking I should be watching my kids. It was very enjoyable to talk to my friends without interruption or concern. I don't know if I was exceptionally emotional today, or if it was simply because I was able to get the full benefit of the service, but I found myself choking back tears several times. Pastor's sermon was very meaningful, and tied in wonderfully to our sunday school lesson. Our bible study lesson was how Jesus healed the blind man, and lead the man to faith. The emphasis being on the spiritual gift of faith, rather than the physical gift of sight. The sermon in church was about the spiritual gifts we've been given as well. He talked about the maggi, and how maggi and the word come from the same root word, and how the maggi followed the star to the baby Jesus, to find this small baby, a gift to save the world! A miraculous thing in life, is something as simple as a child knowing, not doubting, Jesus loves them, and that they will go to be with him one day. During the sermon, I couldn't help but think more about the gifts in my life, through my faith. At one point, I was reflecting on the moment that my father died. Remembering, holding his hand, watching him fight, and finally telling him, "Daddy, let go of me, and let your Savior take you home!" Something Pastor said during the sermon, was that sometimes, Jesus' love allows our soul to smile and be happy, while our heart is breaking! Wow! What a gift. I couldn't help but think as he was talking about the magic, the miracle of Christmas, how I could once again truly feel my faith growing inside of me. I was thinking how amazing it is, simply hearing God's word, grows our faith! Wow! How truly awesome! Although, it is unfortunate my family was all sick this morning, I couldn't help but think, that for me, it was a gift, being able to sit in church and HEAR the message!

I don't know why or what has made me so reflective of my life this season, but I am thankful to have been given such a gift. The reality to see how good my life is, and how it is enriched each day, and how I grow by leaps and bounds everytime I spend time with my Savior on Sundays!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

We probably should have just stayed home...

Well, we made it back home this afternoon, safely! However, not unscathed, if you'd call it that. We took our time Thursday getting up, finishing up packing the camper, etc., and left the house around 11:00am. We made it to our favorite campground around 11:30, only to find out the campground was slap full, and the current tenants of our site had not checked out, and had until 1:00pm to do so. We asked if we could change our reservations, and go ahead and get set up, and the ranger informed us we could not do that as he was truly full! Wow! The first time we camped here in September there might have been5 other campers, and now they were full? The ranger at the gate was kind enough to check us in, and invited us to "feel free" to utilize the picnic area until the current tenants vacated. He also asked us to please not harass them or intimidate them in any way as to encourage them to leave sooner. Out of curiosity, we drove by our site, only to see two tents a truck and a mini-van open, and very empty, and the tent had a mound of stuff to be organized into the vehicles, the picnic table was covered, and we both thought the same thing, there was no way they'd be completely packed and out of there early, let alone make it on time! John and I drove to the playground and picnic area and let the kids and the dog roam around and play until we felt the time was adequate to check in on the soon to be "our" campsite. At 5 minutes til 1:00, we headed that way, and John, being in the second truck got there first, and called me on my cell phone, saying, "He's just now loading the bikes, it's going to be a few more minutes." Finally around ten after, the man pulled out, and John told me to head that way. Just as well, as I'd turned right, instead of left coming out of the picnic area and ended up at the front gate, rather than the campsite loop. Oops!

We'd taken both trucks since John had to work on Friday, and wasn't feeling well to begin with. The plan was that he would leave in the evening on Thursday night, work Friday, and return to the campsite around 4:00 (if not sooner!) on Friday. We got our site set up, got our New Year's Day meal of ham, black-eyed peas, rice and collard greens going, and the kids got a real shower around 7:00 in the bath house. When we arrived, we saw a familiar family, and amazingly, Hanna remembered the little girl's name was Olivia. They had been camping there when we were there last in October. We found them, and both kids hung out with Olivia and her friends most of the weekend. After I had taken my shower, and taken care of all my evening activities, John left the kids and I around (9:45pm). Poor guy, he said it was around 11:30 when he finally went to bed at home, after showering, and of course, his alarm went off nice and early at 4:30am!

Friday I struggled with a "weather change and NO HUMIDITY" sinus headache, and did my best to keep the kids occupied during the day. I should add, they both woke up around 1:30am, and were quite awake, so I put in a movie (THANK YOU JESUS FOR DVD players!) They watched 101 Dalmations (the animated version) twice in it's entirety.) They decided it was time to get up around 7:30am, so our day began early! We got up, got dressed, went to the bath house to go to the bathroom, emptied our "make-shift" potty known as a "luggable loo" from the night time (luggable loo is a toilet seat that fits on a 5 gallon bucket). I realize to some this may seem crude, however, I find it very convenient, especially being left alone with the kids, I could not trek across the campground in the middle of the night for the restroom, leaving one of my children unattended, and I certainly couldn't send them on their own. We ate our breakfast and headed out on a morning hike. When we returned to the campground around 10:45 the kids met up with Olivia, who was still in her pj's. My kids asked her quite bluntly, "Why are you still in your pajamas?" She looked a little bewildered as she answered, "because I just got up!" The Chappell children would consider it a "cardinal crime" to be caught in bed after the sun came up, let alone waiting until nearly noon to get dressed. We said our farewells for the time being to Olivia and her mother, and the kids and I headed back home to pick up the things I'd realized Thursday night I'd forgotten. Hanna and Daniel were especially concerned about getting the "smore sticks", which are very long handled metal prongs made especially for cooking whatever you should choose over a campfire. We visited with our neighbor, and also picked up more firewood from his pile of wood in his backyard. His wife begged with me to please take more, take more! I told her not to worry, we've got plenty of reservations for camping in the next few months, I'm certain we'll whittle that pile of wood down in no time flat! I came to the conclusion that never again will I pack up the camper with John and the kids home! It's too distracting, and allows too much room for error and negligence on my part. In the afternoon, while Hanna was playing with Olivia, Daniel helped me bread the chicken we were going to cook for dinner. Fried chicken in a cast iron skillet on our camp stove. By the way, battered chicken fried in peanut oil is fantastic. John and I agreed it was much better than frying it in vegetable oil on the stove at home! John called me around 4pm and told me he was headed our way, but just had to stop and "fuel up" the diesel truck. Knowing that he'd be there soon, I got my oil going, and started my rice-a-roni (which by the way, is not that great on a gas stove) It was when my fingers were coated with flour and grease that my cell phone rang again and John said the truck was acting up and he didn't know if it would make it out there. What?! We're not sure what the problem is, but he described it as if trying to direct a bucking bronco down a straight road, and he was losing the battle. Hopefully, the issue is something in the fuel, or fuel tank, or filter and can be easily remedied! Otherwise, it may be time to shoot the truck, and put it out to pasture! It's a 17 year old diesel truck, with only 60,000 miles on it. During the process of frying chicken, and listening to John's road troubles, the kids were also fighting inside the camper, as they were supposed to be lying quietly watching a movie. Not! John called yet again, and said, "well, just go ahead and eat without me." At one point, he'd wanted me to come and get him, but that quickly fizzled, and he finally arrived at the campsite in his work truck at 6:30pm. When he got there, he did say, the chicken was pretty good cold, so it must have been awesome hot! I was so happy to see him when he finally got there. I'd plowed my way through dinner, and taming the kids, and they kept acting up, and I'd threatened several times during all of this, to "pack up, and just go home." The only reason I didn't was because I didn't want to pack it up in the dark by myself! While finishing up dinner, and waiting for John I started a fire with the wood we'd acquired from our neighbor, plus one piece of "lighter knot" from our supply. When John got there, he commented that the piece of "lighter knot" I'd chosen was about 4 times bigger than I needed, and that it would probably burn for 6 hours or more. He was right! Around 11:30 it was burned down enough that he could bust it up, and pour water over it, so we could go to bed. Apparently, this "lighter knot" contains a lot of turpentine, and burns hot and long, and the only way to put it out is to submerge it in water, if it's a large piece. The kids slept through night, mostly, however, they both sounded like seals all night. I was quite concerned lying there, listening to Hanna cough and wheeze, and I wondered several times if we'd made a bad decision going camping this weekend. It just seemed as if everything was against us, with John being sick earlier in the week, the truck, and now the kids were sick, and sleeping in the night air!

Amazingly, this morning, the kids were raring to go on a walk with Daddy. It was our plan to get the camper all packed up, so that when we returned from our walk, all we would have to do was fold it down. We managed to do so, and checked out half an hour before check out time! We went on the same hike as the previous day, only this time, the dog was actually willing to jump into the creek, and she had a great time. We let her stay off her lead for awhile, and she pranced and hopped down the trail, fling water on all of us from her still heavily dripping wet tail! All of us found it rather amusing to watch Callie prance through the water. Hanna and Daniel both seemed to be rather top heavy while hiking, as this was the day they both kept falling down on the trail. Daniel even has a slight case of "road rash" on his tummy from tripping as we went up to the main road off the path.

So, we made it home, unpacked the camper, laundry is in full motion. I still wonder, as I sit here, listening to my children coughing in their bedrooms, trying to sleep, did we do right, staying, or should we have come home? I'm concerned especially with Hanna, as her cough sounds very bad. She had a fever at dinner time. Earlier during this post, I was interrupted as she came out and couldn't breathe (her nose was stuffed up), so we started a battle to apply Vick's vapor rub. She absolutely hates the stuff, although, in the end, I won, and it did work. She could breathe again! I had to chase her around the living room to catch her to put it on, as she screamed, and then screamed more, because it was "making her cold." I put a damp hand towel in the microwave, and then sat with her in my lap with the warm towel on her chest. This warmed her up, calmed her down, and activated the Vick's. I've also since, put some on Daniel's chest, who loves it, and giggles through it. Go figure! They're so different. Depending on Hanna's progress through the night, I'll either be taking her to MediQuick clinic tomorrow after church, or, I'll be taking her to see her doctor on Monday morning. I guess there's a blessing after all... there's no school on Monday, as it's a "teacher in-service day", so we have an additional day to rest before she returns to school.

Next time, I hope we're smart enough to heed the warning signs, and just stay home. I also have to add.. I think the tooth fairy will be coming again tomorrow night. We couldn't quite get the second tooth to come out this evening!