Tuesday, October 30, 2012

H is for Halloween

I know that Halloween is technically not until tomorrow, but we've already been celebrating here for days. Friday night was the ward Trunk or Treat. It was cold and a bit snowy, but the kids had a grand time running from car to car in the church parking lot for the trick or treating. Rylen was a little confused at first, but quickly figured out that if he held out his bucket, people would put candy into it!

When we got home Friday night we dumped everyone's candy into the communal candy bowl (everyone has to share the haul at our house). They all got to eat a few pieces as a bedtime treat, then we put the bowl up on the counter out of reach. Or so we thought... until Saturday morning. That's when Rylen got up early (or at least earlier than Mom and Dad), dragged a chair into the kitchen, and climbed up to the candy bowl to help himself to copious amounts of chocolate.

Aaron had a rare Saturday off work, so we actually got to have a family day! So as if the candy from Trunk or Treat wasn't enough, we took the kids to Trick or Treat Street at the local high school on Saturday afternoon. We haven't been before, but I was really impressed by this. There are lots of local businesses and families who set up booths in the halls of the high school - complete with funny or spooky decorations, costumes, even some little games to play. And all of them hand out candy to the kids. It was very fun.

Next was a trip to the American Legion Hall for the haunted house. For the first hour of operation it was advertised as "lights on, not scary." We opted to go for the lights on version, though Haley and Preston told us repeatedly that they wanted to go to the scary version. We eventually convinced them to try the non-scary version first and then we would discuss going through again with lights out. Turns out that the lights on version was plenty scary enough for them! No one insisted on going through again with the lights out. :)

We finished up the evening with a Halloween dance at the elementary school. I wasn't really sure that the kids would enjoy a dance, but they had lots of fun. A dance for elementary schoolers involves a lot of jumping up and down, a lot of running around randomly, and a lot of Taylor Swift. (Seriously, I think about every other song they played was by Taylor Swift.) It was fun to watch the kids dance around and dance with them (thankfully the lights were low so no one could see my lame dancing). Aaron was even dragged onto the dance floor a time or two (under much protest).

I have to admit that the highlight of the dance was totally unrelated to my own kids... there were some older (high school) kids at the dance, too. I'm not quite sure why they came, since most of them spent the entire evening sitting on the bleachers and texting. There was one couple there in matching Navy costumes. He looked quite distinguished in a set of immaculate dress whites. She looked fairly trampy in a very non-standard Navy uniform (skin tight, low cut, short skirt... seriously, why does every costume for girls have to be slutty?). They were sitting on the bleachers with his arm around her shoulders. I happened to be looking over at them when he decided to drop his hand a little lower and give one of her breasts a healthy squeeze. Even as I was thinking to myself: "For heaven's sake, there are little kids all around you!" there was a lull in the music and in the momentary silence a little voice piped up:

"Mommy! That boy just squeezed that girl's booby! That isn't appropriate, is it?"

Awesome. I could not have possibly said it better myself, kiddo. :)

The Halloween extravaganza will continue tomorrow with parties at school. And I'm working at home so that I can pick them all up from school and take them to my work and Aaron's work for trick or treating. Followed by free kids meals at Chik-Fil-A for kids in costume. Followed by the actual official trick or treating. Whew! What a celebration.

Monday, October 22, 2012

G is for Gratitude

I was kind of dwelling on the negative in my last post, so today I'm trying to find the positive. Yes, last week was pretty rotten. But there are still silver linings to be found.

I got the flu. That part sucked. But I'm grateful that it wasn't a terrible case of the flu like last year. I'm not completely over it yet, but I'm definitely on the mend. I'm grateful I have an understanding boss who is more concerned with me taking time to get better than with the deadlines and assignments I missed while I was out.

In a fever-induced haze, I suddenly decided to cut my own hair. Oh yes I did. While dazed with illness and medications, I used my sewing scissors and the bathroom mirror to hack off 4-5 inches of hair. (I believe my reasoning at the time was that I was tired of the frizzy split ends, so the best solution was to just cut them off.) Thankfully, curly hair hides a lot of cutting errors and it really doesn't look bad. I actually got a couple of compliments on the new hairstyle today at work. Heh. I'm grateful I didn't scalp myself.

I lost a filling. While eating mashed potatoes of all things. Not exactly the kind of thing that normally does a number on your dental work. But I'm grateful that (since I can't afford a dentist's bill right now) the missing filling is not bothering me at the moment so I feel like I can put off the repair for just a little while.

I got pulled over. Sometimes when you're sick, you find you still have to leave the house. Maybe to go to the doctor. Maybe to visit the pharmacy. Maybe to pick up a Strawberry Cheesequake Blizzard because you're sick, darn it! You deserve a little something to make you feel better. And when I left Dairy Queen, a police officer pulled out right behind me. And then she started flashing her lights at me. And then she gave me a big old ticket. Because apparently somehow our plates expired back in May (May!) and we never noticed. I swear I never got a notice in the mail. And of course, when she asked for my proof of insurance I discovered that I had forgotten to put the new insurance card in the car. So I got cited for the expired plates and a court summons for driving without insurance. I cried. Life was feeling a bit too unfair right them. But in trying to find the silver lining, I am grateful that Aaron stood in line at the DMV the next day to make the van legal again. (Though I'm not grateful for the $150 penalty we had to pay for the expired plates... especially when the registration itself was only $70.) I'm grateful that I actually do have insurance, even though I didn't have the proof with me when I needed it. I'm grateful that Aaron plans to take the proof of insurance to the court on Friday for me so that I won't actually have to appear in court next month. And I was really grateful for the Blizzard.

We had a small fire. Aaron and the kids did their best to let me sleep in on Saturday while he got ready for work. They try this most Saturdays (grateful for that!) but it was especially appreciated this Saturday because I was still so exhausted from having the flu. Haley volunteered to make breakfast for all the kids. I was very grateful for that - and not bothered at all that peanut butter sandwiches are not typical breakfast fare. I told Haley where to find the last loaf of bread (in the freezer) and how to thaw it out (in the microwave). However, I did not tell her to remove the twist tie from the bag before turning on the microwave. My sleepiness came to a crashing halt when Haley ran into the room to tell me there was a fire in the kitchen. I'm grateful that it was a small, easily-extinguished fire. I'm grateful that the microwave wasn't damaged. I'm grateful that my kids weren't damaged!! I'm grateful that we rescued half the loaf of bread and Haley was still able to make sandwiches and I didn't have to deal with breakfast.

Most of all I'm grateful that I have wonderful kids, a great husband, and so many other blessings. Even if I forget to count them sometimes.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

F is for Fire!

...and also for Flu. For Fear and for Fighting and Frustration, too!

Flu. My newfound resolve to keep up with the blog hit a snag almost immediately. My mom and Aaron's mom both called on Sunday night to check in and to wish me a happy birthday. Unfortunately, both of them said something along the lines of "I'm glad everyone is healthy at your house." I tried immediately knocking on wood... but it was too late. Murphy's Law immediately kicked in. Less than 24 hours later, I was on my way home from work. I was feeling fine when I got on the bus. By the time I got off the bus I was SICK. Fever, horrible chills, drippy nose, sore throat, utter exhaustion... all setting in within about 20 minutes.

Oh no! I've seen this before! Almost exactly this, in fact, when I came down with the flu while at church last year. I recognized the symptoms and the sudden onset and knew it probably wasn't just a cold. And over the rest of the week it was proved that this was in fact the flu. Again. For the 2nd year in a row. And both years I got a flu shot! No fair. On the plus side, this case of the flu is not as bad as last year's, which knocked me down for about 6 weeks. And none of the rest of the family has come down with it... *knock, knock, knock*

Fire. So because I'm still exhausted from the flu, I got up very briefly when the kids got up this morning, then got back in bed and tried to sleep in a little. Aaron hadn't left for work yet, so I thought I could squeeze in another hour of rest. I remember Haley coming in and asking me where to find bread for some peanut butter toast for breakfast, and I was just glad that she was willing to feed herself and her brothers so I didn't have to get up yet. I told her there was a loaf of bread in the freezer, and she'd just need to defrost it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Unfortunately, in my hazy state of sleepiness, I forgot about the twist-tie on the loaf. Haley put the whole loaf into the microwave and started it up. The next thing I knew was when Haley came running into the room screaming, "Mommy! There's a fire in the kitchen!"

There's a wake-up call for you! I've often said that nothing wakes a parent up faster than that choking cough that precedes a child's vomiting... turns out that Fire! is even more effective. I leapt out of bed and headed for the kitchen. I vaguely heard Aaron (who was just getting out of the shower) ask, "Did she say something is expired?" When I yanked open the door to the microwave I saw that the bread and plastic wrapper were merrily burning away. Luckily it was a small fire and I was able to quickly put it out. There was no lasting damage to the microwave (just a small scorch mark at the back) and we even saved half the loaf of bread for breakfast. Whew!

Fear. With the recent abduction and murder of Jessica Ridgeway followed by several more abduction attempts in the area, I've been a nervous wreck. It doesn't help that I'm out of my anxiety meds. I hate to even let the kids set foot outside without me. We're being extra careful that the kids don't walk anywhere on their own, and we've had talks with them about stranger danger, non-stranger danger, etc. I don't want to make the kids paranoid and afraid, but it is so hard to let go a little. I consider it a pretty major accomplishment that I let them all go play outside this afternoon. In our yard... with the 6-foot privacy fence... and the padlock on the gate. And even then I was a bit nervous. But I did let them go.

Fighting and Frustration. They go hand-in-hand today. Oh the fighting every time I turn around! My kids claim to love each other. And sometimes they act like that's true. But today you would swear that they are all mortal enemies. Fighting and spitting and hitting and crying and throwing things and breaking things. And the frustration on my end that it seems nothing will induce them to get along for more than five minutes at a time. Frustration that this really, really long day does not want to come to an end. Frustration that this blog post has taken almost 2 hours to write because I am constantly interrupted by more fighting! Dinner will be ready in 2 minutes and believe me, the moment they are finished eating it is time for bed! I'm sending the three older ones to the bedroom with a movie and putting up a gate so they can't come see me anymore. I am done.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

E is for Enjoyable

I didn't do anything big to celebrate my birthday this year. For one thing, we're kind of broke at the moment, so there's not money to spend. I ended up using my birthday money from Aaron's parents to pay the little boys' babysitter for the week - which wasn't a lot of fun. But at least it meant I had enough money to pay her! And my parents gave me an Amazon gift card, so I can still get myself a little something.

So with my birthday off to that start on Friday, I didn't have high expectations for the day. But my friend Georgette took me out for lunch. And then when I got home, I was greeted by four very excited kids who shouted Happy Birthday! and happily presented me with gift bags. They informed me that they had taken money from their piggy banks and made a trip to the dollar store to do some birthday shopping. They were so thrilled to give me their presents. It was so sweet. They know Momma well and got me chocolate and Pepsi. :) There were also some other random items that they thought I would enjoy. A foot exfoliator from Brekken. A set of hair clips and combs from Preston. Hair elastics and a makeup brush from Haley.

Haley was also so excited to show me her other project of the day... she had baked and frosted a birthday cake for me. I was very happy to see it, as I haven't had a birthday cake in several years. At some point I decided that I refused to buy or make my own birthday cake, because it just wasn't right to have to do so. Aaron doesn't actually like cake, so it never really occurred to him to get me one. Ultimately, I was only hurting myself by not getting a cake, since I'M the one who likes cake. But it was the principle of the thing! So it was a very nice thing to have a birthday cake this year. :)

We did have a little money to go to dinner, so we went out for hamburgers and home to bed.

On Saturday Aaron did his best to let me sleep in while he got ready for work (which he actually does almost every Saturday!). Thanks to the kids deciding to get up bright and early, it wasn't entirely successful, but it was nice nonetheless.

The kids did their best to pamper me during the day. They did a "spa beauty day." This consisted of Haley using my new makeup brush to apply makeup in color combinations I've never really considered before. :) And Preston, Brekken, and Rylen brushed and styled my hair. That resulted in one of the new combs becoming hopelessly ensnarled in my hair. As I tried to get it loose, it actually snapped in half. The kids also "helped" me eat the chocolate bars they had given me as a birthday present. They offered to help me with the Pepsi as well, but I managed to keep that for myself. :)

All together, a very enjoyable birthday.

Friday, October 12, 2012

D is for Doctor

When all these problems with anxiety attacks hit me this summer, I went to see my usual doctor. Shannon is awesome. She listened to me, talked to me like a competent adult, and really seemed invested in helping me feel better. I tend to dread going to the doctor, but not with Shannon.

And then a couple of months ago I went for a follow-up with Shannon and learned that she was moving into the Urgent Care side of the clinic. She would no longer be taking appointments. I was so sad to hear that. I asked about Shawna, my second choice. Nope. Shawna is going to Urgent Care as well. That left me with Dr. Euser (who I like but he is always in high demand so it's hard to get appointment with him), Dr. Kilpatrick (jerk with rotten bedside manner who talked to me like I was a naughty 5-year-old), or Randa (who I'd never seen before). Obviously, of those choices I decided to see Randa when I needed a prescription refill (and the pharmacy said they couldn't refill without a doctor's visit).

So I went to see Randa. Randa not only wouldn't increase the dosage on my daily medication (as Shannon had indicated might be a good idea) but also told me she personally doesn't like one of the meds so wouldn't give me a refill on it - even though I have found it very helpful. So she then spent a good 20 minutes trying to talk to me about my emotional triggers and how I really just need to be reasonable when I'm having a panic attack. Because "panic" and "reasonable" just naturally go together, don't they?

When I start to get anxious, I should just think - "What's the worse thing that could happen?" and then reassure myself that the worst thing won't actually happen. And then everything should be okay. Yep. It's just that easy. I bet other people with anxiety disorders don't realize that it's this simple! We've all just been malingering, waiting for someone to explain to us that the bad things we worry about aren't going to happen! What a relief that is.

I tried to talk to her about it. I tried explaining that things are not that clear-cut. When she asked about upcoming stresses, I listed a pre-school home visit, family coming to visit, and a party I was planning. She immediately leapt to "So what's the worst thing that could happen? Your mother-in-law tells you that you are a bad housekeeper and a bad mother and criticizes everything?" (Since I hadn't told her that was an anxiety about the visit and she leapt to that conclusion, I wonder what kind of mother-in-law issues she has herself.)

I tried to explain that it's not anything like that, it's just a generalized anxiousness. I can't usually pinpoint any specific thing that triggers an attack. I'm not thinking that my mother-in-law is going to come in and criticize me or the preschool teacher is going to report me for having a dirty house or my friends aren't going to like me anymore if I have a boring party. I'm just anxious about everything and nothing all at once. But she kept on teaching me the technique of "think of the worst thing that could happen and then tell yourself it won't really happen."

Turns out the worst thing that could happen was my favorite doctors would move to Urgent Care and I would be left without real help. And I need a new doctor, because I'm not going back to Randa. I guess it's Dr. Euser for me until they add a couple of new docs to the practice (supposed to be happening soon) and I can give them a try. I miss Shannon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

C is for Campaign

As in political campaigns... emphasis on the "pain"! I am a fan of the democratic system, but I hate election season. Regardless of who you plan to vote for, I think we can probably all agree that we are tired of political TV and radio commercials, especially negative ones. Tired of political pop-up ads on the Internet. VERY tired of the endless phone calls from various candidates. Aaron and I are registered as independents, which means we get even more calls from both sides of each race.

I find the debates very interesting and I'm looking forward to them, but if I never see another political attack ad I would be thrilled.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

B is for Blanket

I'm enjoying the cooler weather we're finally getting. (After a long, hot summer.) There were even a couple of days last week that were downright chilly - and I loved it. To me, cooler weather is an invitation to cuddle up with a soft blanket while reading or watching TV. It's snuggling under the quilt on the bed. It's wrapping up in my Slanket (that's a blanket with sleeves, in case you don't know) and ignoring Aaron when he teases me about it. A nice blanket makes everything so cozy.

When I was growing up I had a favorite blanket. I think my Aunt Sandy made it for my mom. It was light blue on one side and yellow on the other. It was made of a soft, slippery material that I loved to snuggle into. My siblings and I fought over that blanket. We all wanted to have it. I would hide it away in a closet so no one knew I had it, then sneak it out at night. I remember some knock-down, drag-out fights over who got to have the blanket.

When it was time for me to move away to college, I wanted to take the blanket with me. By that time it had come unstitched around all the edges - it was just the ties holding the layers of fabric and batting together. The edges and the exposed batting were a little tattered and dingy. There were various faint stains that hadn't come out in the wash. And I still loved that blanket. I tried to quietly pack it into the car with the rest of my things. But I got caught! Mom loved the blanket, too, and it was going to stay with her. :)

I went to school without the blanket; and since then I've had to make do with inferior blankets. But I will always have a soft spot for that old blue and yellow blanket. On a recent trip to my parents' house, I came across the blanket. It was a little chilly, so I happily wrapped up in my old favorite. It was just as good as I remembered.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A is for Absent

As in, I've been mostly absent from the blog lately. But I do want to improve that. While I hope you are still reading (even with my very sporadic postings lately), in a lot of ways this blog is for me. I use it to journal, vent, write down stories and events I don't want to forget, and share important things happening around here. I really like using the blog as a way to look back at the year and remember the good... and the bad... and the everyday.

I've missed blogging. I've had ideas for blog posts, but I just have a tough time actually sitting down and writing them out. And then when I do have time, I find I've forgotten the ideas!

In an attempt to get back in the blogging habit, I signed on for the A to Z blogging challenge. 26 alphabetically themed posts; just to give myself a jumping-off point. So while I have been absent a lot, I will do my best to check in here more often... at least for the next 25 posts. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pants on the Ground

I really thought that the low-rider pants style was finally starting to go away. I'd heard that it wasn't even all that cool with kids anymore. But apparently there's at least a small group of people who still think this is the best way to dress... and they work at Wahoo's. I went to Wahoo's for lunch (paid for by the company - yipee!) and noticed that almost every one of the male employees was sporting the droopy pants with the boxers showing at the top. While I don't understand why they want to do that, I mostly don't care. If they want to show off an inch of boxer at the waistband, who cares?

But my attention was caught by one of the employees who was taking the drooping pants to extremes. This was not a teenager by the way... he was mid- to late-twenties. He had the requisite colorful boxers and battered jeans; and the jeans were hanging so low that the waistband of the jeans actually began at the bottom curve of his butt. I have no idea how they were staying up. It seemed to defy gravity that his pants had not yet fallen to the ground.

As I waited for my order to arrive, I had nothing to occupy my attention (my colleague had gone to the restroom) except for watching this guy and wondering how long the pants would stay up, he reached down and grabbed his waistband. Finally! I thought. He has realized that his pants are falling off and he's going to pull them up.

And he did... he pulled those pants up by almost half an inch.

Wow. That made all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sister Heaven

I used to have a wonderful visiting teacher named Kay Hemming. I adore her. She was never fazed by the perpetual state of disarray in my house, my children running wild (even when - on several occasions - they were completely unclothed), or anything else I could throw at her. When Preston was in the hospital with Swine Flu and we could not find anyone willing to watch the rest of the children (for fear of catching Swine Flu), Sister Hemming came over to our house and took care of the other kids so we could be with Preston.

The kids loved seeing her, too. She always gave big hugs when she came to visit or when we saw each other at church. And she brought cookies - not just when she came for a visiting teaching visit, but sometimes just as a random drop-in for a nice gesture. The kids often got her name wrong, but their mispronunciation was so appropriate. Instead of Sister Hemming, they always called her Sister Heaven. :)

About a year ago, Brother and Sister Hemming left on a mission. To Tahiti - rough life, eh? I love to read their blog and see their pictures as they have adventures in Tahiti. Last night I was catching up on their blog and Preston and Brekken came over to see what I was looking at. I showed them the pictures and we talked about where they were and what they were doing. The boys thought that was pretty cool, but mostly they wondered when the mission would be over. Their big concern? Sister Heaven never brings us cookies anymore!