Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Memorial Day, All!

Well, tomorrow is Memorial Day. It is a day to remember those who have risked their lives to maintain our way of life here in America. It is a day to remember the families who have lost loved ones in the fight - to honor their sacrifices in true American spirit: by celebrating what they have fought for - our freedom.

We may disagree about religion, politics, taxes, education, and our fundamental values, but that is the beauty of our nation: we are free to disagree. Thanks to all of the many men and women who have gone and those who continue to go out into the world to fight on our behalf. We are indebted to each of you as we sit comfortably in our homes with television, computer, air-conditioning, refrigerators, telephones, running water, electricity, and easy access to food. Your dedication to this great nation inspires me, maybe not to join you on the battlefield, but to be true to the American Dream - to live in loving compassion in this world, working hard, helping others, speaking kindly, honoring differences, and loving one another as Christ loves each of us.

May each of you say a prayer for those soldiers in harm's way right now, a prayer for the families of those fallen soldiers, and a prayer for the men and women who have come safely home from war. From our lips to God's ears, let's light up the prayer lines this Memorial Day and remind ourselves of a sacrifice being made on our behalf.

Now, go grill your hot dogs and play catch with those youngsters!

God Bless,

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hello-o-o-o! Anybody Home??

My mortgage holder is about to make me nuts! These people, who own our loan, who are as intimate with the terms of the loan as we, the borrowers, are, keep contacting us to refinance. Yeah, you're thinking, "so what?" I'll tell you so what! They write us letters telling us how much we can save on our monthly payments if we'll just pay $2000 closing costs and, oh, increase our interest rate. THEN, they call me... they tell me they have a great offer for me on a refinance interest rate that is gonna save me lots of money. Yeah, okay, tell me about it. She puts on someone who can help me (so the person who called me can't actually tell me about the great deal she called to offer me?? that was my first clue), and this guy gets on and asks me if we have any plans for a refinance. Umm, so I tell the guy, "gee, we're always willing to see what the new rates are to see if we can save some money." So he ASKS ME WHAT MY CURRENT RATE IS! When I tell him, he pauses and then says, "well, we can't really beat that right now. Can I help you with something else?" Like these people didn't just CALL ME to offer me some GREAT DEAL that isn't better than my CURRENT RATE which they should ALREADY KNOW!!! ARRGGGH! Does anybody out there have a brain?!!?!

And if that isn't bad enough, my bank offered me a free savings account that I signed up for, after which point, they began charging me monthly maintenance fees. When I called to inform them that that wasn't going to fly, they informed me that I was not authorized to make any inquiries or changes on the account because it was set up in my husband's name. Umm, my name is on the account, they take money off of our joint account and my debit card, but I cannot make changes or inquiries?!?! I can set up a new account, add something, give them more of my money, but I cannot ask about my money or take my money away. Point me to the nearest shotgun, I have some doofuses to put out of my misery!

Oh, and we had the sleep study Monday night. It went well and not well at the same time. What was great was that Dania had all of her issues for them to see: she snored, she was restless frequently during the night, she talked in her sleep, and she woke up and wanted to nurse twice. What was not so great was that the wires and electrodes on her actually made her a little more likely to awaken during each restless period, so needless to say, Mommy got almost no sleep. Then, they woke us up at 5:20am to take all the stuff off (like, people, we are here because we aren't getting enough sleep, you couldn't wait for a decent hour to wake us up!?!). By 6:30am, we were home, and by 8am, we were delusional from exhaustion. We have finally recovered by now, though, and are doing well. Well, other than the banking and mortgage nincompoops making me insane.

May God grant me patience in dealing with incompetence, wisdom when making future banking decisions, and serenity, dammit, just because I am overdue.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tonight's The Night!

Tonight we go to the sleep lab. Just Dania and Mommy. And some strangers. And some cameras. And some electronics hooked up to wires hooked up to Dania. Should be a nice restful night away from home.

Dania got up early, as usual. She took a somewhat short nap, though, so we are going to have to travel up toward Nashville early or she will fall asleep on the way up. That would be bad. We'll probably meet Daddy up by his office and have dinner, then be on our way. We must park in the stadium parking garage (yeah, we'll be sure to arrive before dark), and be checking in by 7 or 7:30pm. Then we have to have lights out by 10p and they will wake us up at 6:30a. Like I need one more person whose job it is to wake me up before 7am.

Well, here's the rundown of what we can expect, physically:
electrodes on head and forehead, affixed with washable gel;
electrodes on sides of eyes to monitor REM sleep blinking and movements;
electrodes on chin to monitor face muscle activity;
electrodes on chest for heartrate;
electrodes on each leg;
band of some sort around chest; and
band around waist/abdomen to measure breathing.
She has to sleep alone, and there will be some sort of cot for me to sleep on.
No nap after 2pm, for obvious reasons, and no caffeine after noon. Darn. She'll miss her bedtime cup of coffee.
Oh! And no acrylic nails. For Dania. I need to take those off....
(these are generic instructions, obviously)

That should put her right to sleep, dontcha think??? Well, they say that some people have trouble, so if Dania doesn't tolerate it, they can put as much of that stuff on after she is asleep as she will allow.

It should be interesting, considering we are going there because she doesn't sleep well, and they are wanting her to sleep from 9 or 10pm until 6 or 6:30am. Hee hee. Riiiiiight. They'll see.

We have been cleaning and doing laundry, but I still have some packing to do for tonight. Dania has broken out in hives every time she has stayed in a hotel, so we are bringing our own pillows, blankets, sheets, etc. We are also bringing snacks, sippy cups, breakfast-in-the-car foods, and books for bedtime. Hubby informed me this morning that I get all the crap jobs. Yeah, no kidding. Sometimes, quite literally!

We'll let you know how it went tomorrow. I know you are all going to be wringing your hands on our behalf!! :-)
Have a restful night,

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Day Started All Wrong....

This morning, not only was I up before 7 am again, but I actually waited until my husband was done with his run and his shower to start the coffee. Then the unthinkable happened: my coffee pot broke. AAAAAAKKK! Noooooooo! The pot is sputtering and hissing, and I look over at it in confusion (I have already been awake for 1 1/2 hours at this point, so the fact that I even heard it and noticed something amiss is a miracle!). The coffee seems to be bubbling up under the decanter on the hot plate. Hmmm. I took the pot by the handle and lifted it off the burner, and proceeded to wipe up some of the spill and ascertain the origin of the mess. At this point, I realize that the coffee is still dripping off the decanter, but I have wiped it clean. Not good. Aha! There is a crack! A crack! In the decanter! WHAT?!?! I spin around crazily for half a second contemplating how to proceed as I watch in a panic as my life-giving force is draining out of the pot and onto the counter. Oh! I grab a couple of cups and begin salvaging the coffee that's left in the cursed decanter before it can all drip out (because, of course, the crack is at the bottom). Then I rig the cups under the drain on the pot to get the rest of the blessed brew out of the machine before I turn the thing off to stop all that hissing and spitting. Add some creamer, sit down, and Whew! Crisis barely averted!

Thanks to a neighbor, and lifesaver, we have a borrowed pot while we search for the receipt of our new coffee maker that should be replaced by the manufacturers, thank you very much! My children were dangerously close to seeing what happens when Mommy doesn't get to satisfy her one guilty pleasure. It wouldn't have been pretty.

May you all have a crisis-free weekend.

{Angie's Note: of course, this is written mostly in jest. I realize people have real problems.}

Friday, May 16, 2008

Long Time, No Write

Whew, has it been that long since I posted something?? Sorry about that. I know you all missed me! :-)

It has been a busy week, and mostly I am sleep-deprived. The unspoken law of families with multiple children is apparently that at least one child must rise before the sun each day. It never fails. I need to find out the code for that command so I can break it!

Well, Quin is officially a kindergartener now! We are all done with preschool. We had graduation and his preschool program. Yes, I actually teared up at the graduation... surprised me, I can tell you that! Clearly, I am frightened about homeschooling to be crying over him finishing preschool! (just kidding, calm down)

His ceremony was cute!! The best part was watching the other parents' reactions to the Tutti Ta song. I guess, unless you've worked in preschool, this is not part of your repertoire. It is a good one, though, and every preschooler loves it!! (Beck, does Cameron still do it for you?)

Anyway, the whole preschool turned out for the program this morning, and it sure was cute!!! Our class sang a cute little Spanish song, "Mi cuerpo hace musica!" It was adorable!! Especially the "cha cha cha" that their little waists (cinchuritas) did! They did a great job, but the place was packed, and we high-tailed it out of there as soon as we could.

The smallest and most demanding of my children has been playing "I'm not going to sleep and you can't make me" games this week, so I am a little strung out. Thanks to Hershey's Bliss chocolates, I have still managed to let her live. :-) Yes, chocolate is my whiskey.

The weather has been unseasonably cool. That's due to global warming, I'm sure. {insert smirk} The kids are enjoying playing outdoors a lot, but we are having to dig into the stacks of pants we had packed away, so the laundry is a disaster. Have I mentioned yet that laundry is the bane of my existence? No? Hmmm....

Well, this is a ramble, I am sorry to say, but I felt like posting an update from our house. We go to the sleep lab on Monday to get Dania checked out, but we won't really know anything for about a month. We'll let you know how it goes.

Blessings from our house to yours,

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What is a Mother?

Today is the day that we celebrate mothers. Mothers who get too little sleep, too little privacy, too little quiet, too little appreciation, too little pay (yeah, like NONE!), too little praise, too little education, and too little societal support. Oh, and we get lots of crying, explosions of bodily fluids, tantrums, teething, whining, arguing, sibling rivalry, yelling, and messes.

We are an underpaid, under appreciated necessity, and we are too often overlooked as functional members of our society. Honestly, my husband does less at his job than I do at mine. That is obviously not the case in all households, but it is in ours. Working a full-time job was a breeze compared to what I do now!

It isn't easy to be a mother, but it is a lot harder to be a bad mother with rotten kids, so I will do what I can to keep my kids from being rotten. Sure, they'll need therapy for something horrible I have done or will do to them, but they will be the product of my constant, conscious efforts. It may not be everything, but it is all I have to give. And I know that one day, when my time on this earth is done, I will get to heaven and God will smile upon me and say, "well done, good and faithful servant" because I tried to do the best I could with what He gave me.

As women, we need to band together. We need to support each other's dreams and goals and efforts. We need to stop building ourselves up on the backs of those we have knocked down! This disturbs me tremendously, how vindictive and catty we can be as a gender. We are supposedly the gentle, quiet, supportive, emotional gender, but we are so horrible to one another! Suburban women are taking stimulants to keep all their balls in the air so they can lay in bed at night knowing their kids go to the best schools, wear the best clothes, take all the best lessons, and attend the best dance/karate classes. COME ON, LADIES! Motherhood is tough enough, let's not make it harder! There is no race, there is no competition, there is no everything! YOU CAN NOT HAVE IT ALL! It is a MYTH!!!

I worked as a childcare evaluator once upon a time, and we used a evaluation tool devised by a group of experts over a period of time. One of those experts was known for saying something like this: "for every good thing you do, you give up something good." In other words, you may have a benefit for something you are doing, but there will be something you have missed by doing it. I may spend a lot of time with my kids, but my house is neglected. Hmm, let me check my priorities....

Just think about what you are doing. That's all I am saying. Don't let the world tell you what your family should do; don't let the world or the media or your neighbors measure your success for you. (Can you tell peer pressure wasn't a big problem for me in my teens?)

God loves you for YOU. He didn't create you to be Wonder Woman or SuperMom, just the best YOU that you can be. And He also didn't create us to be judge and jury of every other woman's life choices (outside of dangerous or child-hazardous situations, butt out!)

Okay, exit soap box for today. Have a blessed Mother's Day. And don't forget to bless yours.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Prepare for the Mother's Day!

So, in order to be relatively certain I would have a day of rest on my Mother's Day, I put my children to work all week. We scrubbed bathrooms, we laundered clothes, we swept and mopped, we did dishes, we organized, we threw stuff away (without looking at some of it, which just works better!), we tidied, and we laundered some more. Finally, tonight, as I look around, I can honestly say that I have done all I can do to make my Mother's Day as restful as possible... well, you know I have three children, so how restful can it be???

With the housework aside, Mother's Day will be a day to just be Mommy. Not maid. Not cook. Not laundress. Just Mommy.

Ever since I can remember, I had one major dream in life: to be a wife and mother. It seems in today's society, those roles don't always hold the esteem they should. Being a wife is the closest thing to being a saint that I have ever heard of (joking... sort of), and being a mother gives me a front-row seat in heaven for sure!

Seriously, though, there is no more important task than that of bringing new life into the world and conscientiously instilling that life with values and life skills. It is an exhausting, though rewarding, job that does not come with hazard pay or vacation/sick days. It simply is the most full-time job a person could have. And you are paid in kisses and hugs, snuggles and giggles, smiles and grins, and the love of a child. There is no greater payment.

If only motherhood came with a Mommy-double for all the not-so-fun stuff. Oh, well. If it is worth having, it is worth suffering for it!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Varelas and Vanderbilt

You all should really support Vanderbilt Children's Hospital... we do. We support their pediatric endocrinology department, and their pediatric gastroenterology department, and now their pediatric neurology and sleep study department.

Yes, we took Dania for her neurology appointment today. It was at 8:30 a.m. - which meant, with traffic, we had to leave at 7:15. So, of course, Dania decided not to wake up at 6 a.m. today. No, today, she slept until I woke her - at 7:10! How is that fair!?!? Well, it may not be fair, but it sure never fails!

Anyway, we saw the pediatric neurology medical student, then the neurologist and the medical student, then they rounded up the sleep study doctor, and we saw him and the medical student, then all three of the doctors saw us before they sent in a nurse with our paperwork. Whew! Almost 2 hours and 3 doctors later, we left with 2 more appointments: one for a sleep study on the 19th, and one for a follow-up to discuss the results of the sleep study in late June. (it takes awhile for them to interpret all the information they will get from the thousands - okay dozen - leads they will put on her)

In case you didn't know, my youngest daughter, the busy one, has some snoring issues. When you combine them with a decline in growth and appetite, I got worried. So, I did some research ("Google it!" is a popular phrase in our house) and found that some forms of sleep apnea have these symptoms, and babies/children sometimes have this condition and get diagnosed as "failure to thrive." Yeah, well, we aren't going to let that happen to Dania.

Then, like I did not have enough on my plate, my husband forgot to take my son's lunch with them to preschool (which meant I would have to pick him up something and bring it to him by 11:30 - and forgo my trip to the used book store that was a few blocks from the hospital). Oh, and I also got my legendary monthly debilitating cramps (my poor daughters! I hope they do not inherit that nasty gene!) while I was out running around. Thank God and Advil LiquiGels, I got them under control by the time I had to pick my son up from preschool.

Hope your day was better than mine! Bring on the coffee!

I absolutely refuse to do laundry today. And hubby is grilling hot dogs for dinner. I earned it.
Tomorrow is a whole different barrel of issues. See ya then!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Welcome the Rain

I have recently discovered that though we yearn for sunny weather as winter draws to a close, we also need foul weather to balance out our lives. As a full-time mother, my children and I spend most of our time in our house - well, until the weather is nice, at which point, we spend most of our time outside of our house. Which is all good. Really. Not a problem. Well, it isn't a problem until the inside of the house has been so uninhabited as to be neglected.

So, today, we welcomed the rain. Well, okay, I welcomed the rain. The kids just had to deal with a day indoors. I shoveled off the master bath vanity, scrubbed the dickens out of that room in general, washed linens (remember, there is always laundry to do), emptied the top of the refrigerator, reorganized the stuff that lives on the kitchen counters (hello, file 13!), made homemade meatballs and spaghetti sauce for dinner, emptied and ran the dishwasher, and generally tidied up. I tidied so much that my inattentive hubby actually noticed when he came home!

Thank You, Lord, for a rainy day!

After dinner, the sun was out and the rain had stopped, so of course, we went outside. {smile}

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

End of School=Money, Money, Money!

So, it seems like every time my son goes to preschool these days, there is yet another notice asking for something - money, usually. Yesterday, I brought in what I thought was my final $5... I mean, come on, people, we have less than 2 weeks of school left! Oh, right, sure, like that was gonna happen. I get to the door to see, not one, but TWO more things I have to bring: one more notice asking for money, and one more sign-up sheet asking me to bring something for a party! AAAKK!

I do not mind that we parents help out with all this stuff so much, but to have so much of it concentrated in the last two weeks is a bit ridiculous! Really, can't someone put up a list of everything we will need to do at the beginning of the month or something?? The way we are being asked for one thing at a time may seem kinder to some, but to me, the Perpetual Forgetful Mother, I can't get caught up!! Just when I think I have everything paid in full, there is another note on the door!! Have mercy!

Now, some of you have high school or college graduates, and you are rolling your eyes at my pitiful complaints about a measly $5 here or $3 there or maraschino cherries there, and you are correct: it isn't much our preschool is asking for. I just wish they could warn us of all the ways they will need us to contribute so that I could get it all over with and move on.

Anyway, ignore the whining. I will be better in a week when summer officially begins in our house!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What Will You Leave Behind?

Have you ever given much thought to what you would leave behind if you died today? I am thinking about that as I spend my day sorting through another person's belongings: what to keep for her children, what to keep for a family member, what can I use, what can be sold, what is trash?

It is amazing the things people value above others, and we all value slightly different things. And the things you leave behind tell a story to those sorting through it all.

A carefully wrapped vase indicates a sentiment for the item or the occasion that brought it into possession. A carelessly discarded book cries out its insignificance. The painstakingly wrapped and packed box of framed photographs tells of a love for the lives they captured. A sink full of dirty dishes speaks of someone who values things outside of a clean kitchen. And a child's faded bicycle tells of a toy that was either well-used or ill-tended.

What would your story be? Mine would shout from the moment you enter: Warning! Housework not loved here! But I hope it would also speak of my love for my family, my dedication to my children, and the happiness we all shared inside these walls together.

Do you ever wonder about what you would leave behind? We seem to always be counting on tomorrow, when in fact, tomorrow is not a guarantee. May God grant us all the wisdom to use today in a meaningful way; to chase our dreams and live out our values for the world to see.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Field Trip to the Nashville Zoo!

Did anyone watch the weather for Middle Tennessee today? No? Well, let me tell you about our field trip to the zoo!

We arrived to discover that almost every other school group of pre-kindergarten through second grade children decided to go to the zoo today! Our first view of the zoo was of the PACKED parking lot, to the side of which we saw two things: more than a dozen big, yellow school buses; and so many groups of children gathering before the entrance that the entryway was concealed from view!

After delving into the fray, we parked our minivan and headed up to find our group. (Let me interject here that my children and I had created matching shirts to help us stay together and identify each other should we become lost. This was more wise than even we knew when we decided to make them! Luckily, no other school group had quite our shade of sunshine yellow, so we were good to go!!)

Okay, into the zoo we go! The kids are excited! The animals are awesome! And, the rain is beginning. Yay. According to the weather forecast, we were supposed to have scattered showers beginning around noon. We were all hopeful that since we were going to the zoo at 9am, we would be ready to leave when the rain moved in. Oh, the optimism! Well, it didn't hold off. We started getting rain within a few minutes of arriving, but very lightly at first.

We bravely trudged on, taking a break inside the indoor Creatures of the Americas attraction when the rain picked up. All was calmer when we emerged, so we set off in search of new animals and habitats!

Somewhere along the way, the rain began to get heavier, and someone got a phone call advising that bad storms were headed our way fast! Several people decided to head home, but we determinedly stuck with the class - we will get our money's worth! Well, we did see much more of the zoo, but when the thunder got louder and we started to actually see the lightening, we headed for the gate. At this point, however, it was basically too late. Can you say "downpour?"

Yeah, so we had puddles in the stroller, my toddler was completely soaked with her hair plastered to her head, my fabulous matching shirt creations had ink runs, and we still didn't get to see the elephants or giraffes!

Grr! This is one field trip Quin will not soon forget.
Signing off,

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sand is My Friend!

I have finally succumbed to the kids' desire to play with sand! I have married my knowledge of sandbox disease, my dislike of the gritty stuff personally, and my children's longing for sand to play with and have come up with a workable solution: a plastic under-bed box with a lid. Seems simple, doesn't it? Well, it is, and it works!

So, we introduced the sand "box" last weekend, and we store it in the garage all covered up. We only play with it outside, with bare feet or Crocs on, and we wash off before or as soon as we come in.

The good news is that the kids now think I am the best Mom ever. The great news is that for the 20 minutes we play in sand, Dania stays by the box and doesn't dart into the street!! It is the most relaxing 20 minutes outside of naptime!

So, folks, it's a hit! Sand in a box with a lid under strict regulations is quite fun for all. See? You can be an anal, obsessive Mommy and still let your kids have fun! (And I even let them eat spaghetti with sauce!)

Tomorrow, we go to the zoo! Can't wait to write to you about that!

P.S. Oh, and by the way, since Daddy is out of town tonight, we watched a movie and ate popcorn (in the living room - shh!) as a group. Calysta loved Fly Away Home; I knew she would! What was cool, though, was our Zoobooks magazine that came in the mail was all about waterfowl (ducks, geese, that sort of thing), so it was like I planned it! Yay, Me! (umm, I didn't plan it, so Thanks, God! for tying that together like a lesson for us!)