Friday, February 25, 2011

A Week in the Life.

Saturday: Bring Michaela to a birthday party in the morning. Go to Time Warner Cable and get a new remote to replace the one we have been using whose right-sided buttons no longer work (and yes, that was just as annoying as it sounds). Went to Home Depot and bought supplies to install shelves in our office closet and under cabinet lights for the kitchen. Went to a home store and bought a new rug for our living room. Picked up Michaela. Came home, installed lights, made kettle corn popcorn, ordered Chinese food, played with kids, went to bed.

Sunday: Went to church. Helped set up for church's vacation Bible school program and the kindergarten classroom where I and my friend Angel were going to teach. Girls went out with their great aunt to get mani-pedis (it's a tough life). Made a nice dinner and had our aunt and uncle over. Made kettle corn popcorn, played with kids and went to bed.

Monday: Woke up to snow falling. Haircuts for Jenna and Alec in the morning. Shoveled some of the driveway. Ate lunch and went to church. Almost passed out when I found out that we have twenty-two 5 and 6 year olds in our VBS class. Kept smiling anyway. Alec dismissed his babysitters after about 30 minutes so I carried him in his backpack on my back while we taught. Finished up VBS for the day, planned for the next day's lesson, tossed kids in car, dropped Michaela at a friend's house, came home. Felt a crushing sense of dread when I realized the members of my family were expecting me to actually cook them food for dinner. Made dinner, cleaned up, picked up Michaela, went to the store to get milk and got talked into buying ice cream and Cadbury mini eggs by Michaela. Collapsed into bed and slept better than I have in a long time.

Tuesday: Went grocery shopping with three children. Made mental note to start asking my mom NOW to babysit kids over the summer so I can shop in peace. Kids came home happy with 2 cans of Pringles, Little Bites brownies, chewy Chips Ahoy, and swiss cake rolls. Kids declare me "The Best Mom Ever." Quickly eat lunch, go to church, teach 21 much less inhibited kindergartners (who are adorable and really very good) about the Lost Sheep and delight when the kids go crazy over a new song "Baa I'm A Lamb" which is sung to the oldie "Barbara Ann". (Not since our current Pastor was a vicar at our church and introduced us to "Pharaoh, Pharaoh" have the kids gone so crazy for a church song. I'm pretty sure one of the primary reasons he eventually accepted a call to our church was so his lasting legacy would be more than a VBS song sung to "Louie, Louie.") Cleaned up, prepped for the next day, came home. Was planning on buying a new television online that night and then talked to Dan on the phone: his office is merging with the office in Buffalo. His job should be safe but no tv was purchased. Grownups freak out, kids go on playing, we eat dinner, play with kids and go to bed.

Wednesday: Go to our favorite diner for breakfast with three kids. Alec eats great but gets maple syrup in his hair. Jenna order sunny side up eggs, sausage, homefries and toast; loves the toast ("It's so BUTTERY!") and insists on calling the potatoes tomatoes. Announces she wouldn't get sunny side up eggs again. Go to Lowe's to get a pad for under the new rug, go to Michael's and get supplies to make 5 puppy costumes for Jenna's Lip Sync group. Come home, wolf down lunch, go to VBS, teach 22 very happy and comfortable kindergartners, say the phrase,"Boys and girls! Let's sit on our bottoms on the seat!" as nicely as I can 43 times, play Good Samaritan tag, which is a big hit, clean up, go home, go back to church, eat some pizza, talk to Dan, and enjoy an hour long wrap up program for the VBS. Coach our class through the award-worthy performance of "Jesus Loves Me" and our Bible Verse. Completely forget to videotape it. Do remember to videotape Michaela's and she does great. Come home, put kids to bed, and collapse into our bed.

Thursday: Make cinnamon rolls for breakfast and am so trained to only have them on holidays, I smell them and get a urge to make cranberry sauce. Put down new rug pad and rug, roll up old one and put it in the basement. Straighten up basement with help from the girls. Girls play outside in the snow. Friends come over for a playdate. Bring Michaela to a Lip Sync rehearsal. Pick her up and she has a hard time transitioning back to our house. Tell Michaela she will have a consequence after Daddy and I talk about it. Dan comes home and we talk about what he's heard at work. Dan approves of the new rug. Jenna very casually asks, while twirling her hair, about Michaela's consequence, just in case we forget. Michaela cries while anticipating punishment. Dan and I discuss, then bring Michaela in, and settle the issue: no iPod or computer for a week. I make dinner, we eat, clean up, play with the kids, and go to bed.

Friday: Wake up to another snowstorm. Alec and I doze on the couch until 8:30am. The girls play outside in the snow. The girls make a snowman. The girls unsuccessfully request to make sno cones with snow and food coloring. No dice. Jenna has a friend come over. I try to have Alec take a nap but he's not interested. I order Inception through my cable box so I can watch it before the Oscars Sunday. Watch 15 minutes before I have to turn it off. Michaela requests to sew, makes a huge mess with pins, fabric, and thread and then walks into the family room to watch a movie. I feed everyone lunch while trying to write a post on all I did this week.

Re-read post and understand why I'm so tired all the time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Wrap Up.

Here are pictures of my three funny Valentines from Monday morning. The girls insisted on both wearing pigtails and headbands and matching shirts. I am relishing every holiday they want to match because I know that it is only a matter of time before they refuse to dress and look alike.
While going through a binder of Michaela's on Monday morning, I found this written out:
"Pieces of my Heart"
100% Family
99% SpongeBob
95% Friends
55% Soccer
50% School
40% Nature
And I think what this tells me is that I have been underestimating how much my kids love a cartoon sponge.
The other excitement of the day, which I posted on Facebook, was that Michaela found in her backpack a full-sized KitKat bar with a large SpongeBob valentine taped to it from a boy in her class. When she asked him about it: Did you put this in my backpack?, he apparently panicked and said, "Um, no." Even though it was signed with his first and last name. Michaela was totally freaked by this rather overt gesture and when she arrived home she immediately called Dan to ask what she should do. He told her the same thing I did, that it would be nice of her to thank him for the candy the next day. It was very sweet.
The girls had fun parties in their classrooms and both came home with a bag full of valentines and candy. Dan bought both of them a heart-shaped box of chocolates with a picture of dogs on the cover.
It was a good day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Out and About with Cheryl.

Happy Valentine's Day to the love of my life, my hardworking, adorable, loyal, loving, and teeniest-bit-OCD Dan.

We got engaged right around Valentine's Day and celebrated our 15th Valentine's Day this year by going out to dinner to a new restaurant and had a blast. I was lucky to go out twice this past weekend; once with Dan and once with three of my bestie girls to celebrate a 40th birthday of one of us. And the important thing to remember is that it was not me. Because I am much, much younger than all of my friends. Really. I am.
It was so nice to get out of the house, showered, dressed appropriately, and enjoying good food. And the six glasses of wine between the two dinners helped, too.
I really, really needed some time out of the house and away from the kids.

Michaela and Jenna thought otherwise, and when I saw them on Saturday morning, Michaela was giving me a blow by blow description of what happened. I couldn't sleep, she told me. Daddy let us stay up late. We watched a Charlie Brown Valentine's Day special. That all sounded fine.

Then she hit me with The Guilt: "When I was having trouble sleeping last night, I started counting up all the hours I was with you yesterday. And do you know how many it was? FIVE HOURS! That's IT!! FIVE HOURS!!"

"You'll survive," I told her.

Because an "Out and About" post isn't complete without a few good Walmart stories, here are the latest:

1. Around the time of Michaela's birthday, I bought a bunch of gifts for her at Walmart. They were mostly small plastic toys of some incarnation or another, and I think they totalled about $100. A Hispanic girl my age (you know, young) was checking me out at the register and struck up a conversation.

Girl, in a deep, fast paced, Rosie-Perez-accented voice: This all for your daw-ta?
Me: Yeah, it's her birthday this Friday.
Girl: Humph. If I was you, I'd put some of this away for Christmas.
Me, laughing nervously: Yeah, well, she's a good girl.
Girl: This is alotta stuff. Put it away for Christmas.

And for months, I've been been repeating the phrase This all for your daw-ta? under my breath to myself. It's somehow mesmerizing.

2. You know how there are greeters at the door of Walmart? They welcome you in when you arrive and as you leave they scan your cart for large items and sometimes ask to see your receipt to double check that you are not stealing the box of diapers or 12 rolls of paper towels. Most of them are very nice and friendly and pleasant, and because I usually go the same day and time every week, I generally see the same employees. There is one lady who does the greeting and checking and she is a real piece of work. She's one of those deceptive people who appears fairly normal- pleasant, even- the first time you talk to her but then you quickly realize that she's insane.

So the first time I go through, I of course have Alec with me and she makes a big fuss over him. "Who's the handsome little man?" she asks, and I tell her his name is Alec and she wants to know how old he is and I tell her. Then of course she makes a comment about him not wearing shoes (because all of Walmart is out to reform my atrocious parenting habits, for sure) and launches into her OWN story. And I hear the whole thing: she has five kids, her oldest is 34 and her youngest is 17 and she's divorced from their dad and she whips out her cell phone and shows me the picture of the puppy her ex husband bought her youngest WITHOUT CONSULTING HER, and she could kill him but now her daughter loves the dog so she has to keep it.
And I'm all, "Uhhh... here's my receipt for the paper towels."
And then I make some lame comment about how busy she must be and high tail it out of there.

So the second time I see her, I of course have Alec and she makes a big fuss over him. "Who's the handsome little man?" she asks, and I tell her- again- that his name is Alec and she wants to know how old he is and I tell her. And then she tells me, "I have five of my own: my oldest is 34 and my youngest is 17. And my youngest is supposed to be with my ex for the vacation and instead he called and asked if I can keep her the whole week and I said, How am I supposed to drive her around?"
And I'm all, "Uhhh... here's my receipt for the diapers."

So the third time I see her, it's handsome man, how old, I have five kids, oldest is 34 and youngest is 17 and before she launches into the Ex-Husband Story of the Day, I just say, "Wow! You must be REALLY BUSY!" all enthusiastic and she is cut off at the pass.

Then the next time, which is like two days later, it's handsome, old, five, 34, 17, and as she's reaching for the cellphone picture to show me I just smile, say, "WOW! SOOO BUSY!" and walk out.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Same Kid. Different Cleansers.

I'm starting to get a complex that Alec thinks our house is really dirty.

Monday, February 7, 2011


A few weeks ago now, I had a dream that I decided to move from our new(ish) house to my aunt's house, which is in a very rural part of our county and in a different school district. The dream itself was very realistic, as some dreams are, and filled with incredible minute details that made perfect sense and made the whole thing seem like it was actually happening. The dream culminated with me standing in her kitchen and looking around and thinking, "What have I done?"
Don't get me wrong: I love my aunt's house. It is the place I was at most often after my own house, and her house is filled to the brim with memories of Christmas and birthdays and countless sleepovers and lazy summer afternoons and always, always plenty of good food. I know my brother has the same strong connection to it because despite any changes we experienced in life, her house has remained a constant source of comfort since we've both been alive.
But moving there is just not an option for our three kids and two adults for a host of reasons.
I ended up waking up at 2:30am, breathing quite heavily and very, very happy that I do not have to pack up all of my belongings and move again.
I talked this over with my friend Angel who also moved this summer to a new house. "What do you think it's about?" I asked her. We talked about it for a bit and I came to the conclusion that it was about surrendering emotionally to our new house.
Because for months after we moved in, as I was wrestling with managing the new mortgage payment, moving expenses, all of the surprise costs of that fateful day in August when we had the car! the knee! the fire! issues, all the little things one has to buy when moving into a new house (the most unglamorous: three new toilet seats and a few new doorknobs), I knew logically it would all be fine but I half expected someone to knock on the door and say, "Look, there's been a terrible mistake and you can't live here anymore." I have a sign above the front door that says, With God all things are possible, and for weeks every time I read it, I added even living in this house silently to myself. I was living in it but still had my guard up that someday it would all be over.
Well, the guard is dropped and the bottom line is this: I am having a torrid, torrid love affair with my house. And I have surrendered to it.
I love the space we have. I love the view out the back windows. I love that we can eat breakfast on the deck in the summer and feel like we're on vacation. I love our bedroom. I love our bathroom. I love the potential we have in the basement. I love the kitchen and the storage and the kids each having their own room. I love the recessed lights in the family room and putting the fireplace on. I love our sledding hill, our office (or "The Studies Room", as Jenna calls it) where the girls do homework, the pantry, and the front hall. I love that I see great views of the ever-changing sky out our front arch window. I love the neighborhood, I love living 90 seconds from my parents, I love that most of the kids in Michaela and Jenna's classes live in our development. I love having space to have people over and not worry about where they'll all sit.
Now that we have lived here almost 7 months, I have a better feeling that everything is going to work out fine. The girls are adjusted to new schools and new friends, we know our neighbors, and even paying the bills is okay. No one is going to take it away from us. It's our house and will be for a long, long time.